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 Stewart.com
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 Amazon.com. 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 Chow.com, 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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