Best Ever BBQ Flank Steak

Saturday, December 30, 2006

This is the recipe my mom is famous for and the one I have raved about time and again to you and everyone I know. It's my favorite dish from my family's kitchen. I'm not kidding when I tell people that this is a dish people will remember.

My sister-in-law Krista put it best when she described it to Rob, her words were "From then on, whenever you eat steak - any steak - you'll always say, 'Remember your mom's flank steak!?'" It's that good. If you ever try one recipe from this blog, this is the one.

It's juicy, zesty, flavorful, sweet, and just melt in your mouth shibby-orgiastic good. You'll need a cigarette afterwards. You might think I'm exaggerating if I say it's better than sex, but you would be wrong.

Not only is this dish mighty tasty, but it's surprisingly easy, requires little work, and can be prepared days in advanced. This dish goes well with a simple fresh salad with an Italian dressing, and maybe a baked potato with some baked potato trimmins'. Leftovers are great in salads or sammiches.

Here's the family recipe. Enjoy.

BBQ Flank Steak
From the Capune & McCord family kitchen

What You'll Need...
3 lbs of good quality flank steak
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger (freshly grated could work too I suppose)
3/4 cup of salad oil
1 cup of chopped green onions

What You'll Do...
1) Combine the ingredients into a marinade. Marinate steak in a wide, shallow dish for 2-4 days, piercing with a fork and turning in the morning and at night. Keep covered with plastic wrap.

2) BBQ steak for 7 minutes on each side.

3) Slice diagonally in thin slices.

Cheesy Broccoli Custard

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Another recipe from my mom's/grandma's kitchen. Always a pleaser and totally fatty due to all the dairy and butter, but who gives a shit when it tastes this good? A good way to get kids to eat their veggies I guess. I never got a pic because we just ate the damn thing to fast, but it's yumtastic so no worries.

What You'll Need...
2 lbs of broccoli, cut into 2 in. pieces
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups creamed/small curd cottage cheese
1 8oz can of whole kernel corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped green onions
dash of hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of butter
2/3 cup of seasoned bread crumbs

What You'll Do...
1) Place the broccoli in a greased 11x7x2'' dish.

2) Combine eggs and cottage cheese in a large bowl and mix well. Add drained corn, onion, cheddar, and pepper sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the broccoli.

3) Melt butter in a saucepan or skillet and combine with bread crumbs/ Sprinkle over the top.

4) Bake for 325 degrees (F) for 45 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Deli on the Beach (Harbor Delicatessen - Dana Point, CA)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Visiting my family in Mission Viejo always has some plusses. Yeah, there's family, friends, love, blah blah blah, but then ther'e the fact that you can go visit a deli on the beach in December and it be a sweet 75 degrees. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Nor Cal weather.

Rob, my mom, and my brother and I had all decided to go have lunch with my Godmother Amy and her husband. After a slight restaurant mishap (the place we had originally planned on had a sign reading "We no longer serve Saturday lunch") we headed towards the deli. Now the Harbor Deli is a place you might not expect to find good food. Amongst the kitchy tourist crap stores, lines for whale watching tours, and vapid but beautiful beach slaves, its a bit of a gem.

The place was throughly packed and we literally got what seemed to be the last table. We all sat down and were warned that we should only order hald sammiches. We all looked at the menu and passing plates to understand why. They're as big as your face. A half order would do just fine. Potato salad, slaw, or fries also come with with each order, so you can promise yourself a full belly. Another plus was we were offered a plate of pickles. And not flacid pickles (get your mind outta' the gutter), they were fresh! Crisp! Zesty! Full of bite!

I had ordered a corned beef sammich because let's be honest, is there a tastier sammich meat? Oh no, my dear reader, I think not. It was stacked high with corned beef on yummy sourdough bread. It wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped, but nothing to complain about. The steak fries were also quite tasty, though they went a bid lukewarm rather quickly.

Rob had a brisket burrito. It was, well, blah. It had a taste of a mexican spice packect found in Albertson's. Yawn. It was good, just nothing exciting. The potato salad however was fabulous, and due to the table setting, I was unable to distract Rob in a way that would allow me to steal more.

Everyone else was truly happy with their meals. Really, the food here is damned good and while it's nothing to write home about, you won't be leaving disappointed either.

It was super packed and close to the holidays so the service seemed sparse as half of their servers seemed to be out for the holiday, and indeed they were. As such, Amy got fries instead of potato salad, which made her dish free. My brother got a lemonade that was literally all syrup. That was not made free, but quickly taken care of. My iced tea was forgotten. Still the waitress had sass and was lots of fun, and considering the situation it was easy to see that she was falling into the weeds and there was no other servers who would be able to save her. She was a saint of a server.

All and all, it was a good lunch. Nothing to write home about, but I would go again. Maybe after a whale watching excursion. Try to hit this place if you get the chance, just try to avoid the tourist traps.

Harbor Delicatessen
Dana Point Harbor
34667 Street Of The Golden Lantern
Dana Point 92624

Chocolate Cupakes with Cognac Soaked Plums, Chocolate Ganache, & Walnuts

Monday, December 25, 2006

These were decadent little cupcakes perfect for celebrating the holidays with family. They possess a sense of demure propriety while at the same time have that seasonal cheer and whimsy one should expect from a cupcake.

I don't know where the original idea for this came from, just somehow the flavor combination had nestled in my noggin and slowly churned and developed. It kept breaching to the surface of my thoughts and evolving into something elegantly fudgy.

I used some dried, unsulphured Fortune plums I found at my local farmer's market. Really, any type of dried plum will do and if you find a good vendor, be sure to taste the various varities to find the one that suits you. Apriums and maybe apricots will work nicely as well. Just be sure to find something sweet, tart, and with a slightly dark even wine-like undertone.

The cognac was meant to be armagnac, but lo' I could not find any so cognac it was. Really though it was fantastic; most of the alcohol cooked out but left it's flushed, spicy flavor.

The walnuts had come from a local orchard and were provided by one of my co-worker's, Laura, who had an abundance of them. Freshly shelled, slightly bitter walnuts give a perfect crunch to this cupcake.

The dark chocolate cake and ganache were simply... oh, what's the word? Joyful. Christmasy. Rich. Seductive. All of the above work well.

Tis' the season. But really for these cupcakes, any season will do.

Plum Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

What You'll Need...
200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao chocolate
3 sticks of butter, room temperature
2-1/4 cups of sugar
8 eggs, room temperature
1-1/4 cups of flour
1/4 cup of cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 pound of dried plums, preferably unsulphured but don't fret about it, go for color and taste
bottle of good cognac or armagnac

What You'll Do...
1) Chop the plums and place in a small, non-metal bowl. Cover with liquor and let plump overnight.
2) Melt chocolate and butter over a water bath.
3) Add sugar and stir, let sit for about 10 minutes.
4) Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5) Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each one.
6) Mix the try ingredients, and sift them into the mixture. Mix until just blended.
7) Drain the plums and lightly pat them dry. Fold them in to the batter.
8) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 20-24 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Quick n' Easy Meathod
If you want there is a quick semi-homemade cupcake recipe that will work great for this recipe too, that my friend Sooraya taught me and seems to be used by many other home bakers. Use a Bette-Crocker box of devil's food or dark chocolate cake batter. Follow the directions and add a cup of sour cream. This will make the cupcake rich, moist, and fudgier. Add the cognac soaked plums as usual, scoop into cupcake papers and bake. This method will also yield about 24 cupcakes.

Chocolate Ganache with Walnuts
Adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop

What You'll Need...
4 oz of semisweet chocolate
5 oz of bittersweet chocolate
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of powdered sugar
shelled walnuts

What You'll Do...
1) Chop chocolates and transfer to a heat proof bowl.
2) Heat cream in a saucepan until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over chocolate.
3) Let sit for one minute then stir until combined.
4) Add butter and vanilla, stir until combined.
5) Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and let cool for 10 minutes.
6) Sift powdered sugar in and mix until combined.
7) Continue to beat until light in color and creamy. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes and top with walnuts.

Mentions in the Press

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Davis Enterprise - "Techno Food" By Claire St. John. Section C. January 28, 2007

ThisNext - Interview with Sean Timberlake. September 5, 2006

Sacramento Bee - Food on the Web featured website. Taste Section. 2006

Sacramento News & Review - "The Price is Right." Interview with Kate Washington. May 10, 2007

Sacramento Magazine - Moshi Moshi restaurant review published. April 2007, pg 266

Sacramento Bee - "The Internet is Cooking" & "Local Blogger: Vanilla Garlic". By Bob Sylva. Pictures by Kevin German. May 23, 2007. Taste Section.
-Reprinted in The State, June 14, 2007
-Reprinted in the Miami Herald, June 16, 2007.
-Reprinted in The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 5, 2007

Epicurious: Epi-Log - "Crazy Flavors, Great Blog". By Amy Sherman. October 5, 2007.

Sacramento Bee - "Drive-By Pomegranate Heist" published in Blog Watch section. October 14, 2007

Serious Eats - Photo of the Day. November 29, 2007.

The Kitchn - Good Eats: Grandmother's Recipe Box. November 30, 2007.

CBS 13: Good Day Sacramento - Lunch Break Featured Chef. June 5, 2008.

Sacramento Magazine - "You're the Reviewer: Mochii". August 2008.

Sacramento Magazine - "Hot Blogs". By David Watts Barton. September 2008.

Sacramento News & Review - "Cheese O.D.". Interview with Ann Martin Rolke. May 13, 2009.

Sushi Sushi (Moshi Moshi - Davis, CA)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good sushi, as we all know, is hard to find. Like finding a needle in a haystack the size o' yo mama. Seriously, it's a daunting task. You go through nasty California rolls. Sick sashimi. Flacid and mushy edamame. It's a mission filled with pit falls, disappointment, and possibly food poisoning.

But when you find something that works, it's like angels freakin' sing.

That's what I've found at Moshi Moshi. Sure there are great places in Sacramento like Mikuni's and Dragonfly, but let's be honest, the sushi selection in Dixon, Woodland, and Davis is just paltry. Moshi Moshi truly quenches one's thirst in a sushiless desert.

They can be pretty packed, and they may ask your for reservations so you may want to call ahead and make them. If you get there a bit early though I wouldn't worry. I've never been turned away, even when I showed up with four co-workers all without reservations.

We were all wet and cold that day, and were happy with the prospect of bowls of well prepared miso soup and shibby individual pots of green tea, all coming in at $1 each. For an astoundingly cheap price, we were all able to cut the cold right out of us. The brown rice green tea is hit and miss, so you may like it, you may not.

The sushi is varied and innovative, and while time honored staples are present (spider rolls, California rolls, veggie rolls, and so on) a plethora of vivaciously colored and supremely prepared dishes are available. I myself had a spicy tuna roll, known there as the Zero Roll. Big pieces of extremely fresh tuna were rolled with cucumber and topped with paper-thin fillets of avocado. It was all generously served with a potent chili sauce that pointedly delivered blazing spice but not heat; a balance very few restaurants seem to be able to meet.

The sashimi was apparently to die for. My friend Cara seemed to be soley entranced with each bite and had to be roused ouy of a trance so we could gather her opinion. "Wonderful," was her only response before she would delve into the next pink jewel of fish. As an avid sushi fanatic, this approval is golden.

My friend David had ordered the Green Dragon Roll, a decadently sweet unagi based roll. The unagi (eel) had been tempura fried, and while I myself can be picky with it, this was melt in your mouth good. Rich, sweet, and just a little bit salty it almost felt like this roll could qualify as a dessert. The mix of textures from the buttery avocado, delicious give of the rice, and the crunchy soft and slightly oily taste of unagi, decadent sauce and pops of seasame all created a gustatory image that trasnported you to teahouse in Kyoto.

Bento box lunch specials are pleasing as well. For about $7 you score a mixed green salad with a pepper vinegarette, rice, huge helping of your main dish liek teriyaki chicken, and a small 6 piece sushi roll. The potions are filling and leave you pleasantly satiated. Sushi detractors will be happy here as well, as there is enough on the menu to please anyone with an avarice towards raw fish, so feel free to drag them along.

With all sushi freshly prepared, and with such attention to intricate details, you may have a small wait. Nothing horrid, but you may wonder if the chef fell down and broke a hip or something. Luckilly the staff is very approachable so feel free to ask any questions about your order, or if you have yet to order they'll happily guide you through the menu. There's even a board with the most popular menu items, specials, and new menu items to help guide you through your choice.

Overall, Moshi Moshi is, in my opinion, the only place to eat sushi in Davis. They have a new loyal customer as will they with everyone who sits down to a warm bowl of miso.

Update 2/28/07: I still visit this place almost once a week. Still fabulous. Service is friendly and fun. They recently update some of their rolls as well it seems, so go check it out.

Moshi Moshi
2120 Cowell Blvd.
Ste. 143
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 758-8889

Filler Post!

Friday, December 22, 2006

So I'm about to start my drive from Davis to Mission Viejo in Orange County. I'm doing this with two cats, and a rainy Highway 5 for 6-8 hours. I expect traffic through Sac, Stockton, and L.A. I have some posts, but they will be delayed a bit. I won't say happy holidays, though I wish them, because saying it would take on the idea that this would be good-bye, and it's not. This is really just a filler post until I can sit down and finish the restaurant review I wrote; also expect a special overly decadent Christmas cupcake, a Christmas dinner, the world's best flank steak recipe (I kid you not), and a few other surprises!

Pray I don't die on the car drive!

On Olive Oils

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Many of you may have recently partaken in the recent artisan olive oil opportunity that Alejandro & Martin recently finished. If you did, then you know how insanely good these olive oils are. If not, then sucks to be you.

Honest to God, I never knew that you could have such variety in olive oil based on it's year, region, and varietal. Though in retrospect it makes perfect sence, I never fully grasped the concept until I literally took a tiny shot (yes, in slightly filled shot glass) of each of the four oils provided in the sampler box and the regular jug oil I get from Costco.

Holy. Crap.

The box came with four varieties: Mild & Delicate: 2004-2005 Spanish, Fragrant & Fruity: 2004-2005 Greek, Olivey & Peppery: 2004-2005 Italian, Green & Grassy: 2004-2005 Californian. Each one a true effen', balls to the wall, sensation.

Alejandro is truly passionate about his oils, and honestly, I don't think any description I give will really convey just how dedicated he is to his product. Thus, let me provide you with a transcript of some e-mail correspondance...

We fallen in love with these olive oils. Last night we had a wonderful snack by cutting up some fresh apples and giving them a light coating in the fruity olive oil. We even taste tested it against the (for shame) Costco jug olive oil we normally buy. It didn't stand a chance. Who knew that olive oil could vary so much based on it's year and varietal? I guess it's only a matter of time before we see the olive oil lists in restaurants. =)
-Garrett McCord

To which he replied:
I'm very glad you experimented a bit. I have loved the Greek Fragrant & Fruity on peach. My neighbor here in rural Massachusetts home cans peaches. I had an incredible slice of his peach laid on a raft of fresh mozzarella with the 2003-2004 Greek (now extinct) and a blade of rosemary. It was transcendent! That particular year was very good for European olive oil. A drought reduced the yield by 30% rendering the remaining oil more potent. And the single sprig of rosemary really made a difference. I tried it with clementine, with thyme, and with nothing.
I also made a fruit salad a couple of years ago with a light fruity oil from California on diced plumbs tossed with a bit of this amazing chamomile grappa. That was outstanding! I can still remember the taste. Anyway, I rant. Thanks again for trying and for your support.


PS: there *are* restaurants already offering lists. Frantoio in Mill Valley, CA is one. But there are others.

We even had a slight whoops with the shipping, and Alejandro personally took care of it within the hour. That's truly top notch service, even after dealing with shipping out 1000 boxes of the oils!

Do yourself a huge favor, and try some of their oils, or at least some artisan olive oil. I promise, you'll never go back to the grocery store for it again.

Some Images From the Farmer's Market

Monday, December 18, 2006

Radishes from Everything Under the Sun farms. Apple cider sitting in a hot water bath. Yeah, it's not a lot, mainly cause some of the other photos (and maybe these ones) may be utilized for another purpose. That being an article in Edible Sacramento,where you can find Ann and Jennifer's hard work put to print. You also might find me there as well in future issues, so super-shibby yayness there. Make sure you check out Edible Sacramento, it's a wonderful resource to local food here in the Sacramento Area.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney

Sunday, December 17, 2006

This is a fabulous little recipe that Meredith gave me when I was asking for a good cilantro recipe. I can't say that there's a recipe per se to this, as this is something that really goes by taste. We used it over some leftover tri-tip we had in the fridge. Fantastic.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney
Take cilantro, mint, a clove of garlic, a seeded chili pepper, knob of ginger, coconut milk, and a dash of salt and chuck it into the food processor. Keep tasting to make sure you get it how you like it.

Food Blog Awards 06'

Friday, December 15, 2006

It's time for the annual food blog awards. Have a blogger you love and want to them to know they're loved? Then get your keester over there and tell the world how much you love so-and-so's writing, recipes, reviews, firm behind or whatever. Even if you only read blogs but never post or comment, go do this (and participate in the Menu for Hope). Nominations end tonight so hurry and vote cause all the kids sitting at the cool table already did. You want to be cool, right?

Plea for Cilantro

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've been hankering for the taste of cilantro the past few days, but I want to try something new. So why not reach out the the food blogger community and see what we can collectively pool together. Anyone out there have a really good recipe that showcases cilantro really well that you personally love to cook and serve?

Things That Make You Go, Ahhhhhhhh...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rusticly gritty, salty-sweet cornbread from a box of Alber's corn meal; recipe from the box. Fresh spiced fuyu persimmon butter, canned from my friend Sarah's kitchen. Sometimes, the best way to relax after a long day, is something oh so simple.

Recipe for the persimmon butter? Well, we just winged it. About 14 persimmons pureed in a blender, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, two packets of gelatin. Go through the usual canning process which I do not know well enough to faithfully relate it to you by memory.

Make sure you take a moment for yourself at somepoint today to sit back and have a bite to eat.

Update 12/16/06: I have the recipe for the persimmon butter recipe! Thank my friend Sarah for it!

Sarah's Persimmon Butter

Peel and core approximately 20 Giant Fuyu persimmons . Cut them into bite-sized pieces and blend them until smooth. Pour the blended persimmons into a large pot with a lid (the mixture is going to splatter, so try to get a pot large enough that you are only going to half fill it).

In another large pot, place 10 pint-sized canning jars and cover them with water. Turn this burner on high and cover the pot.

Cook the persimmons on medium, stirring constantly. Add the juice from and the following spices to taste: 1-2 Meyers lemonsnutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.

Mix 1 packet pectin with 1/2-1 cup white sugar. Pour this mixture into the persimmon mixture slowly while stirring constantly.

If the mixture is creating a lot of foam, add 1 tbsp. margarine.

Cook the persimmons at barely a simmer for approximately 30 minutes to get a smooth butter, longer if you'd like it to gel more. Remember to keep stirring, or it will burn.

About 15 minutes before you finish, put the jar lids into a smaller pot of boiling water and boil them for at least 10 minutes. Remove them and dry them well. When you are pouring the persimmon butter into the jars, fill them to 1/2 inch below the rim and be sure to wipe the rim and threads of the jars so they are clean and dry before putting the lids on.

Once the jars have been filled and sealed, put them back into boiling water for approximately 30 minutes. Then take the jars out, tighten the lids, and let them cool. If the jar lids do not seal, refrigerate them and try to use within the next month. Sealed jars will keep for at least 6 months

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Bark

Monday, December 11, 2006

I was feeling particularly festive and been hankering to make a chocolate cupcake for some time. I've always been a big fan of peppermint and chocolate mixed together, it's one of those flavors that define the holidays and always relaxes me after coming in from the nippy weather, and makes a perfect culinary companion to sit by the Christmas tree wrapped in a flannel blanket with. I admit part of the inspiration came from 52 Cupcakes, as I was thinking of this idea but she gave me that bit of boost, but I decided to make my own bark and do the cupcake from scratch.

I usually always bake an angel food peppermint cake for whatever holiday party seems to be approaching, but this year I decided to take a cupcake approach and utilize some rich, slightly bitter dark chocolate. This cupcake really is a winner. The cupcakes are fluffy and moist, and really have an old fashioned taste. The frosting varried; I used regular buttercream on some, and peppermint buttercream on others as some prefer a less punchy peppermint taste. Really, they were fantastic either way, but I prefer the plain buttercream as did others. The bark adds a festive touch to the whole cupcake, and that touch of peppermint. I wish I had red dye for the frosting, but that's just me.

I have to say this was probably the most popular cupcake I've ever served, and I have plans to make it a few more times before the holiday season ends.

I hope that this cupcake finds you well, and that your Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and Hannukah shopping isn't driving you too crazy. If it is though, this will be the perfect cure.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop
24 cupcakes at 350 degrees

What You'll Need...
3/4 cup of butter (room temp.)
2 cups of sugar
3 eggs (room temp.)
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of cocoa powder (Valrhona!!!)
1-1/2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of sour cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

What You'll Do...
1) Beat butter until softened. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

2) Add eggs one at a time, about 30 seconds for each.

3) Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Place milk, sour cream, and vanilla in their own bowl and whisk together.

4) Mix in some of the dry mixture, followed by the wt mixture, and repeat dry, wet, dry. Be sure to end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

5) Scoop into cupcake papers about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 22 minutes, rotate the pan if needed, and bake an additional 3-5 minutes. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness.

Peppermint Bark
What You'll Need...
8 oz of high-quality white chocolate
peppermint candy
wax paper

What You'll Do...
1) Break up peppermint candy into little shards. Break or chop up chocolate and place in a microwave safe container or double boiler pot.

2) Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or melt in your microwave. Careful to not scorch the chocolate by checking and mixing every 30 seconds. Pour out onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and spread out. Sprinkle the candy shards on and gently press them in.

3) Let it sit and cool in the fridge or freezer. Break apart and eat. The candy may melt and sweat a bit, so you want to keep the bark cold.

Note: As always with chocolate, quality really does make all the difference. Good quality can be a bit steep, but it's worth it. (Hence, why I do not make chocolate cupcakes often.) Do yourself a favor and shell out the extra couple of bucks.

Vanilla or Peppermint Buttercream
What You'll Need...
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or peppermint extract

What You'll Do...
1) Cream the butter until soft.

2) Add the sugar and then the milk and extract. Cream till soft. Spread on cool cupcakes.

Note: If you cannot decide, make to small sample portions. I found most people preferred the vanilla buttercream over the peppermint.

A Cookbook Made for a Home

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I recently got hold of The Good Home Cookbook, and have finally had a chance to test it out. Honestly, I have to say I was more than pleased with this cookbook for a multitude of reasons.

To begin with, this is not an esoteric coffee table cookbook that will have you braising artichokes, or creating elaborate appertizers with ingredients you'll only find in your local black market. The recipes that comprise it's 500+ pages are comfort foods and reminders of home. It's as if every mom in America - from every Italian, Armernian, Spanish, Thai, Mexican, East Coast, Southern and every other family - got together and brought all their best recipes and compiled them into one cookbook.

You'll find meatloaf, clam chowder, chicken masala, fish tacos, spaghetti, chocolate cake, ceasar salad, and every other homey recipe you can think of that came out of grandma's old recipe box. The directions are clearly laid out and while there are no pictures, you find yourself lost. Plus, it's more than likely you've had every one of these dishes once before, so you have an idea of what the end product should be. Pictures in fact probably would have taken from the charm of this boo, as it's layout has a blue retro groove going for it which is uncluttered and pleasing to the eye.

Another bonus is that each section has a few helpful instruction pages. The seafood section for example has direction of shucking oysters, storing clams, buying and handling crabs, and so on. A definite bonus if you're encountering a new ingredient or cooking meathod.

The cookbook also boasts more than 1000 recipes, and while it's true, you'll find some basic repition. In the dessert section they give a recipe for buttercream frosting. Following it are recipes for mint frosting, and lemon frosting, which was just the original with the addition of a flavor component.

This cookbook in my opinion falls into the category of The Joy of Cooking, a tome perfect for the beginning or experienced cook. For anyone who is just learning to cook for the first time like a new college student, this book is a perfect starting place for them. The knife nicked hands of the experienced home chef will also find this as an invaluable resource as it will perfectly as a quick idea guide for a satisfying meal during the work week.

Another interesting aspect is that this book was tested out in a blog and sent to tons of people across the U.S. to test out the recipes. This helped ensure that all the recipes were easy, simple, and accessable.

Overall, has I not already been given a copy, I would have gone out and bought one for myself, and will probably purchase this as a housewarming gift for years on end.

The Good Home Cookbook website

Interview with Guy Fieri - Part II

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Here is part two of the interview, normally I swear to God, I am better at interviews than this. I have plenty of them under my belt from my freelancing days to prove it. Just no tape recorder and 5 days of flu killed me. Readers and especially Guy, please forgive me and my petardedness. I am still writing this with a hacking cough and a runny bleedy nose (this food blog making you hungry yet?), so forgive me.

Recently, at the Best of Sacramento Party, Guy was recognized for his awesome chefness by the people of Sac and for many good reasons. He attended American River College right here in the Sac area so he's a homegrown boy who rose up to become a celebrated Food Network Star.

"I'm not a atypical chef." Guy expressed that he felt far more at home working in his restaurant than being a big TV star. "I do what I feel good about. You gotta love what you're doing, and I want to stay in the restaurant [buisness]." It is here that he can create and hone his own unique food concepts in his own freestyle way.

I then asked him a very sincere question; with S.F. so close and a hub of the food world, why open up here in Sac? Guy replied with gusto, "We love Sac. I can't thank Sacramento enough for voting for me [during the show]. Sac is so gifted. We're a big city and a small town, we have killer weather, you can afford a house, we have a major state school! We're celebrating the chance to for this restauarant to come town!"

Sac reseidents have plenty of reason to celebrate as well. Guy is happy with Tex Wasabi's being able to offer a family menu, catering, music, dancing, and prides itself in the work that it does working with local charities and schools in Santa Rosa and soon in Sacramento.

"Our buisness isn't cookie cutter. I'm not the boss, I'm a leader. We have team members and we have guests." Here each team member is encouraged to reach out to the community and work with each and every guest to ensure that they are happy."

Good buisness policy I say, and one that seems to be working. Make sure you take time to drop by Tex Wasabi's when it opens later this month!

Read Part I of the Interview

Space Sushi?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

First I want to thank everybody for their well wishing comments, e-mails, and phone calls. I guess you don't really realize the solidarity and friendships you can form through blogging communities. It's really nice to know that all of you are out there. >^.^<

I am feeling better and went to work today, though I was hopped up on Rod Stewart amounts of cough medicines and so on, so my gaze would sometimes go into a deep nothing, and I was distracted by every pretty/shiny object.

That still being the case, and the fact that I have had to re-write a few of these sentences more than once in order to get them syntatically correct and spelling error free due to the brain haze brought on by drugs and fever, I give you this article about sushi... IN SPAAAAAAACE! (but not really).

Space Sushi Not on the Menu -- Yet
TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan's space agency plans to cook up Japanese "space cuisine" for hungry astronauts at the international space station, but the country's best-known dish is unlikely to make the menu.
JAXA, Japan's space agency, is developing a full menu of Japanese cuisine after astronaut Soichi Noguchi slurped instant noodles in a pouch called "Space Ram" during his Discovery space shuttle mission earlier this year.
With help from companies such as Nissin Food Products, JAXA has developed space rice balls, space seaweed soup, and space green tea, said agency official Yoshinori Miyazawa. It is also experimenting with Japanese beef curry, mackerel in miso sauce, and red bean cakes.
"So far, nobody has been able to make space sushi," Miyazawa said. "I think shelf life may be a problem."
To meet space standards, foods must have a shelf life of at least a year, be nutritionally rich, and be easy to prepare and eat in a zero-gravity environment.
Foods that are too runny or grainy are banned because portions might float off and interfere with equipment, Miyazawa said.
Astronauts at the international space station currently eat food supplied by Russia or the United States, though "bonus meals" from other countries are sometimes served.
JAXA plans to market its culinary creations as "Japanese Space Cuisine," and hopes to supply the space station starting next year.
Copyright 2006 The
Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Expect part two of the Guy interview, a cookbook review, a new cupcake, a restaurant review, and a bit on persimmon butter.

*cough cough*

Monday, December 4, 2006

Sorry for the lack of updates but I'm very sick with the flu. Check back later today or tomorrow when I find a moment to write something up.

Interview with Guy Fieri - Part I

Friday, December 1, 2006

So I was lucky enough to recently score an interview Guy Fieri. That’s right, the dude who won The Next Food Network Star. Why the interview, you ask? Well, Guy is doing us all a favor and opening up a new restaurant here in Sacramento called Tex Wasabi’s. Tex Wasabi’s will be opening up on Arden, east of Howe and will bring some definite fun to the Sacramento dining scene. It also plans to shake up and all preconceived restaurant conceptions you had when you hear is genre: California style sushi and Southern BBQ.


Now, a bit of back story first. Yesterday when I was to conduct the interview I cashed in all my bad karma so I completely lost my voice, and Eat Beast in a repeat performance knocked my tape recorder on the tile floor whilst I brushed my teeth, leaving me to find it in about four pieces. Nice. Guy was kind enough to move the interview to the next day when my voice had a chance to work. So this afternoon, I gave him a call from my bed, still in pajamas, my shaky hand attempting to scribble down everything he said. I’m also typing this in bed with a fever, as I do not want to forget anything so bear with me here if I seem a bit disconnected.

Anywhose, Guy was more than personable, and extremely engaging and friendly. I really wish I had taped it so I could put it online so you all could hear the passion in his voice when he talked about his restaurants and his food. It was inspiring, tons of fun, and the definition of shibby. He really is that boisterous fun-loving chef you see on TV.

I had interview questions set up, but Guy answered them all before I asked them and really, the whole thing became more of a laid back conversation. His excitement when it came to Tex Wasabi’s drove the conversation; as he described himself he was like a kid going 80 miles a minute with A.D.D.. Loves it.

I’ll do my best to relate to you the contents of our conversation and get these quotes as on as possible:

“Our first place was called Johnny Garlic’s – which is why I like the name of your blog *I squealed inside at this* – and it was a California pasta grill that was really successful.” Successful indeed, Guy and his partner Steve Gruber were able to open up 3 of them in a little more than 10 years, the market in Santa Rosa and the quality of the food insured it’s stability.

So why sushi and why BBQ? With gusto Guy replied, “I love to go out with sushi, but my wife just wasn’t having it. She’d never go, so it was always my son and me. And that’s how it always is - one person in a group says they don’t like raw fish so everyone’s forced to go to Applebee’s.” I assented to this notion, remember times that others had squashed any possible plans for sushi. And you sushi squashers know who you are! *cough cough Rob cough*

“For people who really know and love sushi, they know it doesn’t mean fish. Sushi means ‘seasoned rice,’ and in Japan it’s common to find plenty of cooked ingredients that aren’t fish in your sushi. Tempura, beef, and veggies are pretty everyday.”

As for the BBQ, Guy informed me a lot of people up here don’t really understand BBQ. “What they do up here is grilling. Now BBQ is low and slow.” Grilling is the process of throwing a piece of meat (or whatever) into a BBQ and an intense heat for a short amount of time. The juices are quickly sealed in and heated. In BBQ, the juices are slowly boiled and cooked inside the meat a very low heat for an extended period of time. Here the juices and flavors can all meld together for a truly sinful, full-bodied flavor.

The two however were combined when Guy was at a BBQ competition down in Houston, he was feeling creative and threw some BBQ sauce on a maki roll, “My friend said, ‘You jackass! You can’t do that with sushi!’ I wrapped it all up in a tortilla and called it the jackass roll. It was nuts.” Made with some pulled pork as well it’s also a popular item on the menu.

Thus the sushi/BBQ combo was born. Guy was eager in telling me that he enjoyed getting crazy in the kitchen. “Combining eastern traditions of making sushi and using western cultural ingredients like brisket, French fries, avocados, BBQ sauce, makes it real fun. It also acts as a chance to really introduce people to sushi, and not just raw fish.”

Guy iterated the idea that people seem to lose grip of the food and cultures that define other societies. For example, in the U.S. people think sushi solely means raw fish, and in Japan people think hamburgers and hot dogs are what culinarily define America, “They don’t know about Southern food or Tex Mex or New England styles of cooking.” In response, most Americans don’t know Japanese food beyond fish sushi and tea. Tex Wasabi’s aims to hopefully change that a bit by introducing new dishes and new ideas, “A real popular sushi roll in Japan and Hawaii that most people don’t know about is the musubi roll, which uses spam and egg.” Interesting indeed, and definitely worth trying. (Don’t let hype fool you, spam rocks. If you disagree, then you obviously suffer from head trauma.)

"Here we took a small pause so Guy could talk to his dad for a minute. So far, Father Fieri has acted as the foreman for all of his son’s restaurants. “He’s been an instrumental factor in our success. He’s really helped us out a lot.”

That’s all for now kiddies. I need to get back to sleep so I can heal. Tomorrow, Part II of the interview! We’ll go over his motivation to open in Sac and get a look at the inner working’s of Tex Wasabi’s.

Of Mice and Gingerbread Men

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Five years ago was my first and most likely last attempt at making a gingerbread house. My family's old and ancient kitchen aid, though reliable, was just unable to keep up with the thick, gluey dough. I was making a "simple" gingerbread nativity using a simple shaping kit and an "easy" gingerbread dough recipe.

This was all in my attempt to have a perfect christmas; culinary speaking. I had strung popcorn for the tree. (A mind numbing task, and I pricked my finger more than once on the needle). Made gingerbread men ornaments. (The dogs ate some, I ate some, but overall a success. Just a pain to make.) I mulled my own cider. (I left the spice in too long and it went nasty bitter.)

But the gingerbread nativity scene. The pain and suffering that went into it. The mixer almost died, the cookies almost broke, royal icing the pieces together was a royal pain in the ass. I was about ready to bite the head off the Virgin Mary.

In the end, it all worked out and no gingerbread virgins were harmed. I went and called Amy, a family friend who had inspired me to give this arduous task a go.

You see, as kids, Aunt Amy called all the families and kids together. The kids would watch holiday movies, drink rich cups of hot cocoa, play games, and have fun. The parents would vanish in the kitchen, sharing stories of success, sorrow, and smiles over the past year all while baking the making of about 10 gingerbread houses. Then assembling them. All from scratch.

Afterward, they would call over the kids and allow them to decorate the whole damn thing, the parents maybe getting to laydown an M&M stepping stone or a licorice roof tile. They watched from the side smiling and content. The houses would then go with the families to decorate homes as tablescapes and decorations. Slowly over the month, bits of candy or roof would vanish as the kids nibbled away. Hansel and Gretel never had it so good. The parents never said a thing. Half the fun for the kids was using stealth to eat the gumdrop hedge without your parentals catching you in the act, even though the proof was there.

These all make my holiday memories which make me smile and cry with joy each year. The scent of gingerbread, strung up popcorn, and gumdrops fills my nose and makes me remember all the times we shared. It's these little things. The ups and downs. Miserable looking gingerbread Christ children and decadent, hard candy covered houses. Bitter cider and rich cocoa.

I should make sure to get Amy's number from mom so I can thank her again. Maybe I'll even give those gingerbread houses a try again this year.

Gobble Gobble Soup Soup

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I dunno how other people make their turkey soup, but I take a make-it-up-as-I-go approach. Since I was never the biggest fan of my mom's turkey soup (sorry mom) I knew I had to go about this a different way than what I had experienced growing up. Mom would simmer her soup for, I kid you not, 24+ hours. It tasted like overboiled turkey sludge to me. The lima beans, poor spice use, in addition general texture of the soup was in no way appetizing to me, and still isn't. (I am so screwed when I go visit for the holidays, but she did make everything else perfectly! I swear to God, wait till I share the recipe and pictures for her flank steak!) She actually would pay my brother and I a quarter for every bone we could find in the soup just so we would eat it - we rarely ever found one I just realized, the sneak! - and I remember many a nights sitting at the table for 3 or 4 hours on strike against the bowl in front of me.

Still, I wanted to make turkey soup; only my way. There isn't a recipe really, but I can tell you how I went about it. I sauteed the giblets in a 1/4 cup of butter, then threw in the turkey neck, a broken up carrot, some celery root, an onion cut into quarters, a few cloves of crushed garlic, peppercorns, kosher salt, thyme, sage, and rosemary. I let that boil with some water and chicken broth for a few hours. After a while, boom, turkey stock and you never even taste the chicken broth I used to cheat.

I took a spider and scooped everything out. I threw in some of the left over turkey, and cut up bits of the same veggies I used before. A few dashes of cayenne for good measure and luck is always welcome too. Let it go for about an hour and then throw in some rice or pasta. When the pasta/rice is done, feel free to serve.

Let me tell you that butter, the herbs, and the stock make this soup so shibby spectacular. Next year, turkey chilli. Unless I go the route my mom and brother went this year... lobster!

CAMERA UPDATE: Okay, we have the camera jerryrigged. I mean duct tape is keeping the battery in, and the cover/on-off switch is kinda not working so one finger has to keep it on, while still aiming and shooting. I like to think of it as customized, rather than trashified.
...I hate that cat so much right now.

And yes, I know the soup picture sucks, but hey, there is no light by the time I make dinner and my apartment doesn't provide good light on it's own, so blah.

Eat Beast Update #2 -or- Technical Difficulties

Monday, November 27, 2006

So this blog may be sans pictures for a while (or at least original ones). Why? Well while downloading some pictures, Eat Beast decided to knock my camera onto the hard tile floor, breaking the cover / turn on thingamajig, and the doohickey which keeps the battery and memory card in place and not everywhere else like the floor or my desk.

Rob is trying to jerryrig the damned thing as I write this so maybe I can get another photo or two out of it. However, it's certainly not making any trips anytime soon. I plan to either 1) finagle my budget around and see if I can buy another, or 2) pray to Santa that I get one for Christmas, though that would mean a blog with no pictures for a month, which would really piss me off.

The blog will still update regularly, but just not so many original pictures, so you may see more food histories, essays, short stories, and restaurant reviews rather than recipes (and thus *cry* cupcakes). On the other hand, maybe this is a good thing, it's a chance to branch out a bit more and challenge myself to write some different stuff.

I guess I'll be doing more overtime this week, more than normal anyways. Although I was planning to do more already with Christmas coming up, but whatever. Guess where I'll be this Saturday if I can convince payroll to let me?

The Turkey Died for Your Sins

Saturday, November 25, 2006

...or I'm confusing different holidays. Anywhose, as most of my family lives in So. Cal, it was just a Thanksgiving for Two. However, we made enough food for about... oh, 10. Seriously, it's insane how much in way of leftovers we have, which of course was the point. Turkey sammiches anyone?

Rob took reigns of the turkey, a nice 14 pounder (good for two, right?) and did an amazing job. Under the etirety of the skin was chopped garlic, sage, rosemary, and thyme. The cavity was stuffed with more of the same plus lemon and orange slices. The bird was bad-ass and totally tasty. He also did the stuffing, it's details escape me as we made so much food we didn't even have any.

The mashed potatoes were small red potatoes with the skins, heavy cream infused with garlic and rosemary, and lots o' butter. Gwah. Heart attack-a-licious. Green beans sauteed with lemon zest and olive oil. I also made a spicy cranberry sauce I got from Elise. This sauce was hands down rockin'. It was sweet, spicy, and tart enough to perfectly satisfy anyone (my own personal recipe is usually to powerful for the average person).

Must go back to the food coma now, before I force myself back up to make turkey stock.

Update: Oh yeah, there was pie Shuna. But like the stuffing, we were to stuffed to eat it. It was so store bought. I just didn't have the energy for homemade.

Naga Cupcakes (Pumpkin Curry Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache & Coconut)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

These cupcakes were inspired by the Vosges Chocolates Naga chocolate bar. After trying it, I was inspired to try and make a cupcake version. This one really hit the mark. I decided to utilize a pumpkin cake, because damn, I lurvs me some pumpkin curry. It seriously rocks my socks.

The cake itself is just sweet enough to and makes for a shibby dessert. But after you bite into it, a moment later the spice hits, and intrigues you enough to take another. The curry warms your mouth and creates an exotic and slightly spicy cupcake. The chocolate ganache adds some extra sweetness and another layer of flavor, enforcing the Indian theme that defines this cupcake. The coconut helps cool down the spice and a bit and adds a slightly fruity taste to it all.

I used half semisweet chocolate and half milk chocolate since that is what I had. I think a semisweet and bittersweet mix would have been great too. It's really all a matter of taste. Spice wise, make sure you keep tasting as you go and adjust to fit your style. I know I added a little extra black pepper and whatnot to meet my taste. I also picked up a cheap little pastry bag as well! I wish I had a few more choices for tips, but ah well. At least I'm finally getting some practice in with one of these things.

Sweet, spicy, and bold is the Naga cupcake. It's good karma all around.

Naga Cupcakes
Heavily adapted from Martha
Makes about 24 cupcakes / 350 Degree Cupcakes

What You'll Need...
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder
pinch of cayanne
1/2 cup of packed borwn sugar
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cool
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
15 ounces pumpkin puree

What You'll Do...
1) Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

2) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

3) Whisk together the sugars, butter, and eggs. The add the dry ingredients and whisk them in. Whish in pumpkin puree. Taste and adjust spices.

4) Put into cupcakes papers about halfway. Bake until they spring back to touch and a cake tester comes out clean. About 18-22 minutes. Rotate pan after 15 minutes if your oven is sketchy for even baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

NOTE: Curry powder consists of nutmeg, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, tumeric, cloves, and ginger So you can make your own. The spice in this cake is all really to taste; I added a bit more nutmeg, tumeric, black pepper, and cayenne to fit my particular taste since I really wanted a more pronounced spice and heat.

Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop

What You'll Need...
14 ounces of chocolate (use your discretion and taste as to what kind)
1 1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of whole milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
unsweetend coconut

What You'll Do...
1) Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl.

2) Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.

3) Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.

4) Add butter to the chocolate (make sure its soft and at room temp) and stir until combined.

5) Whisk together sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in another bowl until combined.

6) Pour the sugar mixture onto the chocolate mixture, then stir until combined and smooth.

7) Let sit at room temperature until thickened. (I popped it in the freezer with a towel over it since it was late. Don't worry if it looks too runny.)

8) Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes and sprinkle on coconut.

NOTE: This makes a LOT of ganache. If you have any fresh fruit of waffles around, then you know what to do with the rest.

A Perfectly Cheesy Cookbook

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who doesn't love a warm, comforting grilled cheese sammich when the weather gets cold? Some good bread, a few slices of cheddar, butter, and a big crunchy pickle is heaven to me! Throw in a side of tomato soup and we got a winning combination!

I always thought I was creative when I took spinach, pears, and brie and made a very classy little grilled cheese pressed between some heavy skillets. However, Marlena Spieler - a long time writer for Bon Appetit and author of many cookbooks - has brought grilled cheese to a new level. Her book Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt is just the thing to bring a creative comfort to your kitchen during the cold season.

The book starts out with a comprehensive review and introduction. She begins by covering various types of cheeses (blue viened, soft, cow, goat, semi-hard, spiced, bloomy rind, smoked and so on in extremely specifc subcategories) and how each can be perfectly utilized and paired for your own creative uses. All are accompanied by a short description describing their general flavors and properties. Since one may not be able to eat a whole wedge of cheese, Spieler also considers the proper storage and handling of cheeses. To further aide the grilled cheese selection process, a section covering breads, meats, fuits, chutneys and so on are all covered so that your experience with her recipes and your own home concoctions! At the back is even a resource guide on where to find good cheese stores or markets, and suggestions on finding local cheeses.

But how do the recipes stand up? Perfectly. Rob and I have already found a few favorites, ensuring that we now keep a few select cheeses on hand, and nudging us to always experiment with a new piece of stinky goodness. Rob's current favorite is the Mediterranean Meltdown; tomatoes, Mahon cheese, and fresh thyme on olive bread. We threw in some sauteed red onions as well for a truly filling and rustic sammich!

I've become partial to the fresh mozarella, fig jam, and prosciutto for it's sweet and salty sensations. The raddicchio, Roquefort and toasted pecans on pain au levain is another delectible tid-bit that goes well next to a blazing heater or roaring fire place.

Breaking out the heavy skillet is definetly part of the charm, but don't think that some of these don't mix it up. Classics such as the tuna melt are revamped. Recipes calling for home made chili aioli, and fruity chutneys make for a flavorful and fun experience and a perfect excuse to visit local farmer's markets. Desserts, salads, and a classic accompaniments also adorn the book, and well as a small section for a few homemade mustards to keep things spicy!

The book is filled to the brim with gorgeous photos any photographer would envy. Sheri Giblin, a local San Francisco food photographer, has done an excellent job bring each and every recipe to life. Luckilly with grilled cheese being such a simple fare, many times yours will look much like the photo. Mine have to my total surprise.

Downsides? The price is a bit higher than I would pay, though it was just lowered to about $13. Good thing I got a discount copy for $2 at Plus the shipping, it was about $5.37. A total steal. I highly suggest you go order a bargain book copy. Mine has one or two stickers on it, but really, who cares? The book has tons of great ideas, and will fill you with inspiration for simple meals, and fun lunches with friends.

Overall, the book is shibby, affordable, and truly cheesy.

Pantry Jems

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rob and I do our best to keep a few kitchen basics in the house. Dried fruit are one such staple. Really, there is no way to go wrong with these little gems hiding in your pantry. Dried cranberries are as fresh as ever right now, so it's a great time to head to your local co-op or farmer's market to pick some up. They perk up any dish or dessert with a tart spark and a splash of garnet color. Rasins are perfect for sweetening up any dish and go great with some celery and peanut butter. Currants are a basic for a variety of Middle Eastern and other ethnic and exotic dishes. Or simply just toss them together for a quick and easy snack on the go. A little bit of the basics go a long way.

Ad-meyer-ing Cupcakes

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rob has been at me to make him a lemon cupcake the past few weeks, and after coming across some meyer lemons at the farmer's market and with a potluck coming up at work, I figured why not knock out two birds with one stone?

This is another recipe from Cupcake Bakeshop. Sure I could innovate something new, but I was limited on time and really, my brain was way to fixated on already figuring out the next cupcake I was planning on inventing in the lab this weekend. I've got to say this cupcake went fast and was very popular. The whole thing is insanely tasty and filling. One cake will do the job perfectly.

I was left with a lot of cupcake guts and LOTS of curd left over, which has already been utilized for fruit, bagels, and vanilla ice cream. I might make some more for the purpose of canning it once I learn to can! Meyer lemons were uber-shibby in this, and I would like to try blood oranges next round of this cupcake for that super tart taste and the deep red color.

This cupcake has a bonus in that, while it is a bit labor intensive, the surprise on people's faces is worth it. This cupcake is what food should be - surprising and interactive. The pop of the lemon curd in the middle is a surprise for those biting into as they probably expect a lemon cake, not creamy lemony goodness sticking to the corners of your mouth. It plays with you. Excites you. The lemon seduces each and every bite, and the frosting and cake give you a hearty "Damn this is tasty," attitude.

Next time I might reduce the egg, flour, and vanilla a bit to lessen the density and vanilla-ness of it (I never thought I would say that). Overall, the recipe is easy and forgiving to simple mistakes.

Another cupcake premiers next week. If you want a sneak peak, then just think curry.

I Need Sleep & New Stuff to Amuse You

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I recently found out that Vanilla Garlic was mentioned in the Sac Bee's taste section! Special props to Judith for letting me know about it. I am also sending out props to Mike for popping me in! Plus it was also mentioned on the SFist! Shibby indeed and yayness! (Yeah... it gets both.)

As for the sidebar, I've added a few tasty tid-bits you should definetly check out! One is, an excellent site filled with shibby little articles on food, recipes, wine trends, and so on. Three other blogs were also added. Acme Instant Food is just god damn hilarious, I always have a smile after reading it's well written posts. Ari's Baking and Books is artistic, prolific, and well photographed. Her blog's layout is clean, crisp, and comforting to read while wrapped up in a blanket. Lastly there's Better Bitter Blonde; history, cooking, blonde jokes. Where can you go wrong?

You'll also notice the cupcake dropdown menu has been added so that the various cupcake recipes can be easily looked up! Dear lord, I am writing this way too late an night, my big word list in brain is shot, and I've had to go back four times cause I'm writing this to South Park and started dictating it and misspelling every other word.

Okay, so this is a Sac Food Blog, and it's been a while since I had a chance to cover any local (or semi-local) events going on, so:

Mountain Mandarin Festival
Nov. 18 & 19
Gold County Fair Grounds in Auburn
$5 Admission
Variety acts, kids events, crafts, contests, and of course food galore!

Tomorrow, a cupcake. Promise. It has meyer lemons involved, and meyer lemons rock pretty hard. I'll also be awake when I write the post. Plus, many more cupcakes, recipes, restaurant reviews, and so on should be expected soon. I need sleep now. Brain no work. Nrraaarrrgh.

Pomegranate Cupcakes with Tangerine Mascarpone Frosting (aka Penelopes)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I have been planning these for some time as many of you know, but something always got in the way and blocked me from producing them. It started to drive me crazy, but all the wait was worth it in the end. This is a bright, dense, seasonal cupcake full of pop! I decided to call this particular cupcake combo a Penelope, after a friend of mine. Penelope is bright, bubbly, full of spark and always has a smile. Biting into this cupcake an image of her popped into my head and thought that she would truly adore this tasty treat. Its flavors seemed to mimic her personality. Hence, the naming of the Penelope.

I had Rob help me make this one, as my gimp foot kinda prevented me from really hopping all over the kitchen and since I aggravated it during the farmer's market run. Yep, the boy bakes too. You should taste his chocolate bread pudding made with (gasp!) croissants.

Pomegranate molasses gives a bit of squat and density to this cupcake, but it's worth that subtle acidy bite in the back. It's also an ingredient I plan to keep on hand from now on. The acidy cake is amazingly tasty! The cakes were each brushed with a bit of pom juice as well, so each bite brings a lush surprise of flavor.

The frosting was really killing me in the development of this cupcake. At first I went with the idea of lemon, but it seemed to sour and tart. I also knew cream cheese was the way to go, but wanted to avoid that tang, so we moved into a mascarpone cheese instead (Rob's idea), giving this frosting a velvety texture. However, if cream cheese is what you have on hand, I have realized that would work amazing too. It's a matter of taste on that one. As for the tangerine? Sadly I have to thank Starbucks on that, I saw tangerine tea and pom tea drinks and realized that tangerine would really be the bright counterpart I needed.

It's rich, flavorful, and has a sharp bite to it! Hope that you all enjoy this cupcake as much as I do.

Update: I just had another of these with a glass of honey wine (mead), and some dried apricots. Perfection. Pomegranate wine, or a dry red wine would go great with these as well.

Pomegranate Cupcakes
Makes about 12 cupcakes / Preheat oven to 350 F

What You'll Need...
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1 large egg yolk at room temperature
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/3-1/2 cup pomegranate molasses (taste, then add more as you see fit, this stuff is potent!)
pomegranate juice

What You'll Do...
1) Beat butter until soft for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium-high.

2) Add the eggs until combined

3) Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Alternate mixing the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture, ending with the dry ingredients. Stop when just combined.

4) Fold in the pomegranate molasses. Scoop into cupcake papers, about 3/4 full.

5) Bake undisturbed for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake an additional 3-5 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Move to a wire rack and let cool.

6) Brush lightly with pomegranate juice and let sit.

Tangerine Mascarpone Frosting
What You'll Need...
4 ounces mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese, whatever you fancy)
1/4 cup of butter
1 tablespoon of tangerine juice, fresh squeezed
2 cups of powdered sugar

What You'll Do...
1) Let the butter and cream cheese come to room temperature. Beat them together until well combined.

2) Add the poweder sugar and then the zest. Add more powdered sugar if you want for desired thickness. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes; you may need to let this chill first before piping.

Note: As with all cupcakes, I highly suggest you let these sit overnight to let the flavors meld. It makes for a much tastier cupcake.

On a Rainy Farmer's Market Day

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My friend Sarah was happy enough to accompany me to the Farmer's Market today, allowing me to hobble along through the wet and rainy streets. I've never been one for sitting around to heal, so I doped myself up with Tylenol and headed out. (I slightly regretted this later as my foot swelled and bled, but the food was worth it.)

It was nice to just be outside during some of the fall rain and get some fresh air. While shopping around we ran into Brandon and Dear Family, who were kind enough to treat us to some pea shoots. The ivy and leaves of a pea plant that are deliciously crisp and can only be harvested for two weeks in the entire year. We thanked him and chatted a tad, and he was kind enough to point me out to some meyer lemons (yay!) of which will soon be utilized for some lemon curd cupcakes Rob has been bitching at me about making him. If you ever need a guide for the Davis Farmer's Market, then ask Brandon. He knows the farmers by name and has good advice when it comes to produce!

At home we took the pea shoots, a pomegranate, and a fresh fuji apple and made a fantastic salad. I would however suggest using pom juice instead as a dressing, if you decide to do this yourself. It was a sensational seasonal salad, perfect for a day inside.

Blenders and Nails

Friday, November 10, 2006

I have a blender! Finally! Soups and other purees are finally possible! Cid, however, thinks it's a new enemy as he keeps stalking and cautiously swatting it. I have Fernanda to thank for this as she had an extra one lying around she wasn't planning on using any time soon and noted by blender dilemma. Thanks so much!

Sadly though, I'm not sure if it will get the most work ever right now. I seem to have stepped on a nail. There was no insane amounts of damage, but walking around and stading in the kitchen is slightly difficult. Plus, putting on shoes with all these bandages is a total bitch. Hence I will still be posting, just fewer recipes as of now. I greatly apologize, and promise to punish my foot and said nail.

They're on Tapa It (Aioli Bodega Espanola - Davis, CA)

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Ailoi Bodega recently expanded over into Davis, and has met with as much success as it's Sacramento sister. Davis residents are more than happy to welcome a popular restaurant into their own home, and it shows through the full house every night.

We were able to make last second reservations and catch a table for two. Lucky for us, though we were happy to enjoy the decor. Aioli has done a lot with the old California Cafe' residence and it shows a lot of time, effort and though was put into making the surrounding pleasant to it's patrons. The wine glasses hanging from the bar with candles, the color of the wall, the magnanimous wine rack all add to the Spanish glory of it all. Even the strategically placed barrels to hide the kitchen light is all well appreciated, creating an intimate and convivial environment. The only thing I would change would be the paintings... the landscape photos really just don't match.

We had a small, quick meal, but one to remember and enough to ensure return. We first ordered a plate of Mediterranean cured olives. Now I loves me some olives, as in will dance exotically/beg/shave an eyebrow/kill a man for good olives loves them. There were pretty damn good, just not enough. And tiny. I felt gyped. I must make my own recipe again soon (and share with ya'll cause my olives rawk) to satiate myself.

We both ordered the special, lamb shanks with spicy potatoes, green beans, and a spicy aioli sauce. Dear god. This was the best lamb I have ever had. Period. It was seared, juicy, tender, and crusted in these exotic, vagabond spices that just make your mouth pop! Sorry mom, Easter dinners never even came close to this. All I can say to all is call ahead and pray lamb is on the menu.

We only spent maybe thirty minutes there, but we plan to go again, and as soon as possible. Aioli is a place of small plates so the price per person can really vary from a cheap meal to a vast banquet. Add in drinks for the average diner and this place is a pretty sweet deal.

Aioli Bodega Espanola
808 2nd St.
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 757-2766

Sacramento Food Blogger's Potluck!

Monday, November 6, 2006

After being inspired by the Bay Area Bloggers Picnic, we finally got all the Sacramento Area food bloggers together for an excellent little potluck. Well, maybe little is a bit mis-leading. There was a nice sized group of people, and more than enough food.

It was so awesome to finally get together and meet some truly shibby people. We were able to sit down and actually have some boisterous and excellent conversation. There was laughter, sharing of stories about food, of worst dishes ever concocted, restaurant experiences, family, and life.

But, oh! The food! Elise brought some decadence with fresh pomegranates, foie gras, and persimmon pudding. Fernanda spiced things up with a a traditional Northern Brazilian fish dish! Fethiye wowed everyone with some Turkish pastries filled with feta cheese (so yummy!). M and her hubby made an amazing Buccaneer Chicken! Mike and Martha tantalized and wowed us with amazing wines fitting each and every dish. I brought corn and black bean salad, and Earl Grey cupcakes which were surprisingly not sucktastic being that I made it up at the last, and I mean last, second.

There are so many other dishes to mention, but the food coma has set in. The friends, the laughter, the food, and the drink have swelled my head, I'm still recovering from the rush of it all. It was a truly fantastic time, and I can't wait to get together soon!

Make sure you check out everyone else's accounts of the event. For pictures of all the amazing dishes, be sure to go visit Cake Grrl!

Quickie Potato Bake

Friday, November 3, 2006

This is a quick potato bake that I bam out once in a while. The potatoes give the body, the onions the zing, the raisins some sweetness, and the bacon provides a meaty and salty backbone. The cayenne gives us that little bit o' kick. Kids will eat this too, so plusses there. I use this as a side or as a meal at work the next day.

Straight up, it's flavorful, simple, quick, and muy shibby. Give it a shot.

Potato Bake
What You'll Need...
6-8 medium sized red potatoes, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

1/4 cup of raisins

1/2 cup of chopped bacon
a few dashes of cayenne pepper

olive oil

salt and pepper

What You'll Do...

1) Set over to 350 F.
2) Throw all the ingredients in a baking dish. Toss and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Serve and enjoy!

In Due Time

Thursday, November 2, 2006

I seem to be getting home from work later and later nowadays with less time to really cook a good dinner. With that I am finding myself planning meals far in advance now. I mean, I already have my Thanksgiving-for-Two pretty much all planned out.

I'm gathering the recipes together, double checking ingredient lists, allocating pots and dishes and counter space, caluclating cooking and prep-times for my tiny ass kitchen. All so that this multicourse magnanimous feast can take place. I love it.

I am also finding myself blasting through tons of ideas for soups (many put aside due to my lack pf a blending aparatus at the moment) and more than a few cupcake ideas. Seasonal ingredients call my name. Cupcake tins jump out at me. A side of pancetta forces itself into my hands, knowing all well, there's not enough of it for all that I wish to do with it. All to the point where I am becoming frustrated and overwhelmed at the amount I want to do and the lack of funds or time to do it all. It's enough to make you rip out your hair, scream into the wind, curse the movement of the universe, and be overcome in envy of God's ability to be able to see the types and patterns of all things; all just to have a moment for a quick cook and nibble.

It's not just food from my own kitchen though, far from it. Restaurants beckon me to their tables. 55 Degrees devilishly beguiles me, tempts me with its seductive ways. Mulvaney's engages to me a decadent experience, a chance to richly play with my tastes and sensations. The cold, meltingly sweet promise of sushi drives me to Kru, and a nightly celebration at Opa! Opa! encourage me to come for just one shot of ouzo which will undoubtedly lead to many more.

Oh, the places I'll go! The things I will eat! The meals I will prepare!

In due time, of course.

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