Saturday, September 29, 2007
Be sure to tune in on Monday! Something special is going to be announced.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Give me a foot long, onions, pickles, mayo, ketchup, and some spicy mustard thank you. My personal hot dog dives are Luau Dog on CSUS, The Hotdogger in Davis, and a little cart I love on 20th Street during the Sacramento Second Saturday.
What are you favorite street foods and where do you go to find them?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
An old entry I found from a LiveJournal I kept back in college. Hope you enjoy!
So deciding to bake some delish n' shibby cornbread, I whipped up some batter, let it pour into the set baking dish, and popped it into the oven for the said 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Simple right? I've got 30 minutes to take a quickie shower and clean my groady self. Why am I baking before I shower you ask? Because I felt like it and I don't answer to you, so nyah. So I hop in the shower, groom myself all purty and hop on out.
"Hmm..." I think to myself, sniffing the air, "Smell's like burning." Gentle towel dry to prevent split ends and flaky scalp, and suddenly the hamster hits the wheel.
"Oh Jesus." Eyes wide as dinner plates.
Quickly fumbling the towel on and making a sort of tuck-in knot thingy. Normally I would have just run naked, but today would be the day that my blinds are pulled up, and the people living in the apartment next door right outside my window picnicing. Natch.
Switch to the P.O.V. of the said picnicers:
"It is a lovely fall day, isn't it Cecil?" *I have no idea what their names are, but Cecil sounds fine enough right now. And I added a British accent.
"Oh, but it is Miss Archer, it most certainly is."
"I say, but look in that window. Is he running around almost naked? Whoop, never mind, the towel dropped. I guess he's running around fully naked now."
"And still in the kitchen? Odd. I say, do you smell burning?"
Switch back to me now.
So yes, running like a screaming, sociopathic nudist I throw the smoldering brick into the sink and let the water go. In the process of all this I have slipped on the tile, almost burnt myself, and of course I dropped the towel. I think of covering myself for minute with a fry pan, but 1) that would be just too cliche', and 2) I realize the counter now blocks me from the waist down.
Looking down I see the timer busted, a salt shaker, and an oven mitt on the floor. The dial for the stove is now maxed at 500 degrees. Apparently Cid was playing and in the process, he then slipped off the stove and knocked into everything. God damn cat.
I turn around and wave to the people trying not to look into the apartment of the mad, swearing, now naked crazy person. I wave. Smile. Grab my towel. I go back to the bathroom.
And I really wanted that cornbread. *sniff*
Monday, September 24, 2007
But acorn squash, for some reason you have plagued me, haunted me, most of all.
I have tried you baked, pureed, fried, candied and every which way but up. Yet year after year, when I try to overcome my misconceptions and low opinions, My Judgment, you seem to come up awful all the same. I hate acorn squash.
This year though... this year we made a treaty of sorts. A white flag was raised, and a hush came over the kitchen. The guns went silent, only to be replaced by the roar of a mixer.
Apparently acorn squash and I can have a settling of arms when it comes to cake. When complimented by seasonal spices, fruity-tart black currants, and toasted, yet cloyingly bitter-sweet pecans, acorn squash can actually be quite charming. The buttercream actually uses salted butter, as that extra bit of salt gave a nice contrast to all the sweet. A perfect treat for fall!
Maybe it's time to overcome your fears, or if you already have a blissful relationship with the nubile winter gourd, dress it up a bit different this year before your cupcake night on the town with friends.
Acorn Squash Cupcakes
20 cupcakes / 350 F oven
Recipe adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop
What You'll Need...
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch teaspoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
pinch of ginger
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups shredded fresh acorn squash
2/3 cup of black (or red) currants
What You'll Do...
1) Cut open a large acorn squash, take out the seeds and strings, then chop into pieces and grate the flesh. If you have a food processor, this will be much easier.
2) Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. In another bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract.
3) Add the wet ingredients to the dry, about a fourth at a time, and stir to combine. The mixture will be very thick, slightly crumbly, and will possibly break your radius like a twig. Add the squash and the currants and mix to combine.
4) Scoop into cupcake papers, about 2/3 full. Bake f0r 20-25 minutes at 350 F. Let cool for a minute then place on a wire rack to cool further. Frost when cooled.
Thick & Salted Vanilla Buttercream & Toasted Pecans
What You'll Need...
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of chopped pecans
What You'll Do...
1) Cream the butter until soft.
2) Add the sugar and then the vanilla extract. Cream till soft. Spread on cooled cupcakes.
3) Toast the pecans in a dry pan over medium-low heat until fragrant. Let cool then crumble and press onto frosted cupcakes.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Q: Can I use cupcake recipes to make a layer cake and vice versa?
A: Yes, in most cases, it's perfectly logical. An 8 inch round layer cake recipe will give you about 20-24 cupcakes and vice versa. However, keep in mind that in some cases, you may have to take special precautions. If a cupcake recipe has a tendency to deflate a bit like the Fojo Cupcake, then it will not adapt well at all to a layer cake.
Q: Can I turn the recipe into mini cupcakes?
A: Go nuts, just be sure to grease (maybe flour as well) the pan. Cook them for about 12-15 minutes.
Q: Can I replace one ingredient for another? Or will it taste good if I do this?
A: I really don't know. I can give you my own suppositions as to how it will taste, but until you make it, you'll never know for sure. If it's something like, "Can I replace orange juice with lemon juice?" then sure, it's pretty much the same thing in respect to the ingredient balance. If you ask me what will happen if you totally re-work the recipe, my answer will be "I have no clue, give it a try and e-mail me back with your results."
Q: What kind of pan do you use?
A: I got mine at Safeway on sale. Nothing special about it.
Q: How full should I fill my cupcake papers?
A: Depending on the recipe, between 1/2 and 3/4 full. Be sure to take into account how much the cupcake will rise. Black Bottom cupcakes won't puff up much at all, while others will have glorious mounds. If you overfill a cupcake with high rising aspirations, you're likely to suffer overflow and burning, which is never fun.
Q: Why don't you use silicone cupcake cups?
A: It's preference. I just like papers over silicone as silicone seems to always want to piss me off and tear my cupcakes, others never have this problem though.
Q: How do you get your cupcakes out of the pan without mushing them up?
A: Always let your cupcakes cool for about a minute before taking them out of the cupcake tin. I then use a fork to carefully turn and slide them out of the pan, and let them sit on a wire rack so the bottoms do not get soggy from residual heat coming off the pan.
Q: My cupcakes come out mushy, what do I do?
A: See the previous question for that. But it could also be too much liquid from eggs or milk or whatnot.
Q: Why should I sift my flour and sugar?
A: To avoid any lumps from getting in the batter. Flour likes to stick together, and if the cupcakes bake with a large pocket of flour, you'll have uneven baking, possible deflation, and pockets of uneven cake texture to deal with.
Q: Why do you always say to leave the butter and eggs at room temperature?
A: Butter at room temperature is more pliable and will better mix with the other ingredients. Same goes for the eggs. Plus the batter will be at room temperature and won't have such a sudden shock (leading to melting and burning) while in the oven.
Q: My cupcakes have weird melty burnt spots in them. What happened?
A: Did you scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that your ROOM TEMPERATURE butter and eggs were fully incorporated? If not, then that's your answer. Those spots are caused by blobs of butter melted and burnt in the cupcake. Generally, I do not scrape dough off the very bottom of the mixing bowl as thats where you get small butter deposits.
Q: Can I freeze cupcakes?
A: Of course! Place the cupcakes, undecorated, in an airtight box and place in the freezer. They'll keep for about 3 months. Generally though, the longer the stay in the freezer, the more it will detract from the taste and texture.
Q: How long do cupcakes keep?
A: About 2-3 days. I actually prefer my frosted cupcakes to spend a night in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld, then bring them back to room temperature and eat. Be sure to cover them in tupperware or or plastic wrap or something to keep them fresh and to ensure they stay moist.
Q: Salted or Unsalted Butter?
A: Unsalted. You can always add more salt if need be. On that note, use kosher salt.
Q: Do I have to preheat my oven?
A: Do I have to bitchslap you for asking me that?
Q: How come you rarely pipe your icing?
A: My piping skills are mediocre at best and I am too lazy to take that extra amount of time. Hence why many of my cupcakes simply have the frosting smeared on, or I dip the cupcake in ganache, or cop out some other way or another. Shut up, don't judge me.
Q: How do you come up with your cupcake flavor ideas?
A: Ahh, this is the most popular e-mail... The first thing I would say would be to just read, watch, and listen to anything food to learn the basic ideas of pairings. Try to notice similar patterns (PB&H, pear and gorgonzola, cinnamon and apple, etc).
Try to put them together in your head and then taste them in your mouth (a simple exercise is imagine a pepperoni pizza, and taste it in your mouth, then try to separate every single ingredient on it's own, and see how they compliment each other).
I find that it's best to stay around 3 flavors, any more and it becomes difficult to balance in a cake. A few weeks ago I saw some pears, and recalled a pork dish I had with pears and fennel, suddenly Pear and Fennel Cake with Star Anise syrup and caramelized pears on top.
Note that in the above example similar flavors, and the repetition and layering of ingredients are utilized. This creates harmony without undue tension within the cakes flavor profile.
Then take in texture and presentation of tastes. You have your flavors and ingredients, now how do you want to use them? In the cake, frosting, as edible decoration, syrup, filling? Do you want to candy the citrus zest, or or use it to flavor the cake? Maybe you want to candy it, and then put it into the cake? A variety of textures is important.
For writing the recipe, take a look at other existing recipes. If you wanted to make a unique yellow cake, make one or two other existing yellow cake recipes. See how they differ based on their measurements, baking times, etc. Create your recipe to be practical so it will be stable, yet have the right balance of flavor you want along with the right texture. My French Vanilla cake took five tries, the Apple Cardamom took just one. Accept any failures as simply lessons, and try to figure out what went wrong. We all have setbacks in baking, you just have to learn to turn the oven back on, break out the butter, and try it again.
Read everything you can about the chemical science of baking. Why if you have buttermilk baking soda is preferable to baking powder. How eggs leaven bread? Why do gluten bonds increase with over-mixing creating denser bread? Classes taught by reputable teachers are ALWAYS a good thing to help you understand this and in helping you fine tune your technique.
Try to always showcase the flavor. If you have mint in the cake, try to use fresh mint on top as a decoration and to give visual appeal and inform the eater that this cupcake contains mint.
Honestly, it took me weeks (not kidding) to think up my first original cupcake; I based it off a butternut squash soup with sage. The more you do it the easier it becomes. Nowadays, I'll just see an ingredient and then start pairing, measuring and doing trial runs in my head automatically. It's now a pretty easy process. Inspiration can come from anything. Practice makes perfect.
Q: I have a great idea for a cupcake, will you make it?
A: Probably not. I rarely take requests. The main reason is I already have a laundry lists of recipe ideas I want to try out, trying to cram in one more is just too much. Read the previous question for more information.
Friday, September 21, 2007
I admit at first I was wary of a company run blog with many writers, but no more. They write on topics that interest them, and it's not "corporate" at all. In fact, the pictures are well done and the posts are thoughtful and funny, each as unique as the authors themselves.
We all then sat in on a little wine and food pairing lesson; a total plus for me as while I freely admit that I know a lot about the chemical and technical processes about wine and the wine industry, I don't know anything about pairing, flavors, etc. It's my foodie weak point. Luckily, I had a few friends there to help guide me along the way.
All and all, it was a good time with good people. :)
Thursday, September 20, 2007
He She Chew Chew - Mark has been a chef in fine-dining restaurants in multiple states for over a decade. "If it slows downs long enough for me to put a fork in it, I'll eat it." Brandy is an art professor, fine art photographer and long-time foodie. While Mark reminds Brandy not to leave his chef knives in the sink, she routinely reminds Mark that at home he has no employee dishwasher, and that he can learn how to clean up as he cooks. For me, this is a local Sac Food Blogger.
Figs Olives Wine - I think that the title itself conveys the love I have for this blog. The recipes are classic, yet contemporary. The pictures spot on. The writing historically enlightening, carefully developed, and expertly executed. It's one of those blogs where I want to make every single recipe.
Homesick Texan - Just one of the best blogs ever. You've probably already seen it, but if you haven't here it is again. She only posts about once a week, but each post is a full meal, which satiates and sustains you for a long time as you devour her words and images.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Child: Mom, can I have some ice cream?
Mom: No, you just had popcorn and candy at the movies.
Child: Mom, you are such a gutterskank!
Mom: WHAT!? What did you say?! Don't you ever say that word! Where did you hear that!?
And then I died laughing.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The pears and fennel when cooked release all their sweetness, and when drizzled with some of the sweet anise simple syrup its just amazing. Still they needed something else to compliment it all, so to layer the flavors and let them shine even more I candied some pears and topped them on the cupcake with some of the fennel greens. It's a beautiful and ephemeral cupcake to the point that when it was served, no one spoke. Silence. All you could do was just focus on savoring every bite of this delightful little cake.
Lutianna, like Fojo and Bacon Goddess, is another character and inside joke from high school between Janelle and me. Lutianna was a Russian mad scientist who would torture people with a whip of mad science for fun; it's very funny, as demonstrated by the background of the image. Be sure to check out Janelle's website as you have her to thank for the awesome picture of Lutianna (click on it for full resolution). Also a special shout out to my new English MA buddies who hung out with me and helped me make the cupcake!Anywhose if you like fennel, even a little, take an hour out of your life and try these cupcakes. If you want something lighter, skip the candied pears and anise syrup. It'll make for a light and delicate tea cake that's sure to impress.
Lutiannas (Pear and Fennel Cupcakes)
Makes 12 cupcakes / 350 degree oven
What You'll Need...
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
good pinch of salt
2 pears, peeled and diced
1 fennel bulb, chopped into slivers (save the greens for presentation)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
What You'll Do...
1) Preheat the over to 350 F. Beat the butter for about 2 minutes until well creamed. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.
2) Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 45 seconds each. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
3) Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder and sift together. Add some of the flour mixture, then some of the milk, alternating between dry-wet-dry and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix together until just combined.
4) Fold the pear and fennel into the batter. Scoop into cupcake papers until almost full.
5) Bake for about 15-18 minutes. Cupcakes will be dense, heavy, and moist. A toothpick should still come out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.
6) Spoon on some of the star anise syrup and let it soak in for a few minutes (you can also give it a spoonful and let them sit overnight in the fridge to really soak in the syrup, for a taste where the flavors are a bit more intermarried and not so layered, your choice). Give it another spoonful or two and then place some of the caramelized pears on top. Garnish with sprigs from the fennel greens and serve.
Star Anise Syrup
What You'll Need...
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
a few slices of fennel
2 star anise
What You'll Do...
Bring the water to a boil, add the sugar, fennel and anise. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat and scoop out the fennel and star anise. Let cool and put a spoonful onto the cooled cupcakes. (Leftovers can be used for sweetening a bit of pear or anise vodka on the rocks as a special treat for the baker-at-work.)
What You'll Need...
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
2 pears cut into slices, peeled and cored
What You'll Do... Melt the butter into a pan on high heat. Add the sugar and stir. Toss in the pears and stir. Keep under heat until the sugar turn a light tan color (we're taking in carry-over cooking into account). Place them on a greased baking sheet to cool. Be careful! The hot sugar burns like hell.
Port Royals (Chocolate Cupcakes with Star Anise Ganache and Candied Grapefruit)
Late Autumn Cupcakes (Pear & Cranberry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Ganache)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Jr. Chef Central© presents
Kids Culinary Convention – !
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Calling All Young People Who Like To Cook OR Eat!
Imagine…500 young people, ages 10-15, representing a mix of cultures, ethnicities and experiences, coming together to share their common interest in food & cooking! It’ll happen at the Kids Culinary Convention!
It’s a full day devoted to all things food with ‘Hand’s on’ cooking sessions!
• Pasta & Bread Making, Dessert Decorating, Grilling & Sushi Making
• All classes are taught by top chefs, culinary instructors and food industry professionals
• $45 per person includes all classes, breakfast, lunch, buffet reception and loads of other good stuff!
This event, the first ever of its kind in the nation, includes workshops and presentations covering a variety of culinary topics presented in a kid-focused environment. These sessions are designed to:
- Help kids make (classes include Nutrition, Menu Planning and How To Select Fresh Produce and Meats)
- Teach them self-sufficiency (classes include Recipe Preparation, Knife Skills & Safety)
- Build their confidence (classes include) Dining Etiquette and Food Presentation
Advance their knowledge (classes include Essential Ingredients, Tools & Equipment for Cooking)
Held at the Antioch Progressive and Girl Scout Troop 1198 Co-leader Karla Lacey-Minors. on Amherst Street in South Sacramento , Jr. Chef Central’s first Kids Culinary Convention is a non-profit event created by Jr. Chef Cooking Camp founder
Advance registration is required. For more information, including a list of Chef’s, sponsors and the day’s schedule, visit www.karlaskitchentable.com, or call .
Jr. Chef Central© is a not-for-profit program. Our goals are: to teach kids to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and, by extension, their families; and to focus on the common denominator of food to bridge cultural, social and economic divides among young people.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I recently moved into a nice apartment off South Watt, which is a little bit scary to me when it comes to the restaurant scene. After nearly six years living in Davis, I had cushioned myself with the knowledge of where to grab a perfect cup of coffee or the best burger. Now I was in a place I had never dined, so like any errant gourmet, I rolled up my sleeves and went to explore my noshible options once again.
My first stop was Pho BAC Hoa Viet, a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant off Bradshaw. As only Vietnamese customers seemed to dine at this little Denny’s-ish-looking eatery so close to the U.S. 50, I figured it was worth a shot.
The key to enjoying Hoa Viet is knowing what to order. Anything but drinks and pho (pronounced “fuh”) will not augur well for you. The chow mien was just bland with bits of unidentifiable veggies. The BBQ beef appetizer was decent, but nothing to write home about.
But the pho! All pho is made with rice noodles and served with sides of bean sprouts, basil, lemon, and jalapeños. Chili oil, barbecue sauce and other condiments are also at your disposal, so customization is a key aspect to your meal. I ordered pho with bits of rare steak, cooked flank, and tendons (you heard me). It was rich, meaty, warm, and huge. A large order can easily feed two people and the extra large could solve world hunger. I suggest you go for the small.
The avocado and coconut milkshake is heavenly. While it may sound a bit exotic and a bit strange, take a chance and try it. My praise may be effusive, but you’ll understand once you take a sip.
One thing you should note—the service here isn’t exactly great. Or good. Or friendly. The wait staff is here with very distinct purposes. To seat you, take your order, bring you your food, and process your check. No chit chat. No reciting of specials. It’s simply service. They’re busy too, so you may need to flag someone down to get attention.
Like any restaurant, it has its ups and downs, but in the end, you’re there for the food.
Pho BAC Hoa Viet
3110 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento, CA 95827
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Penelope and I were enjoying our last night out together before she leaves for Germany for a year. After making the rounds during the Second Saturday Art Walk, we decided to stop at the Buckhorn Grill after sampling some delicious steaky bits. I mean the sample was out of this world. The steak was charred well, juicy, flavorful, well seasoned and salted. We had to stop in.
At Buckhorn, it's a lot like Pronto, you walk up and order, then take your number and the food is brought down to ya' once it is prepared. As we walked to an open table we looked at the wall of stacked wood. All the meat is char-grilled over open wood embers creating a heavenly smell and flavor all throughout the building and giving a superior taste to the steak (or chicken or whathaveyou).
We ordered a sammich combo platter. A steak sammich with grilled, shoestring, steakhouse onions (YUM!) and bleu cheese on a French roll with some steak sauce. The bread was a little tough, but I can look past it. The bleu cheese really should have been melted on rather than crumbled over the top as it kept spilling out onto the plate and not into my mouth. It was still mighty tasty though.
The salad was... meh, a salad. Ranch dressing, croûtons, iceberg lettuce with some mixed greens, a tomato or two. Whatever. Should have had more steaky bits put on top.
Next time I plan to order the full steak though. I went back for more samples after my meal, it was just too tasty to say no.
1801 L St
Sacramento, CA 95811
Thursday, September 6, 2007
For a pantry scraper recipe, it sure is tasty and will also be great for a thermos in class or work. A quick and flavorful recipe, perfect for on the go or beating the cold with a good book.
Garbanzo Garlic Soup
Makes two large servings (recipe easily doubles)
What You'll Need...
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
What You'll Do...
Warm the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the thyme and onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the beans, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and garlic. Simmer for 10 minutes. Place in a blender or use an immersion blender and puree. Serve with crusty bread and garnish with some fresh pepper.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Two and a half to three years from now I'll graduate, after I either write an 80+ page thesis paper, or study 40+ plays, poetry collections, and works of fiction which will end in a 6 1/2 hour long examination (FUN!).
I'm also doing this at night. Yes, I'll be working full time in the day, then acting as a full time student at night. Throw in work on the blog, Edible Sacramento duties, errands, cooking and other everyday duties and I may possibly go lose my mind.
Anyways, where am I going with this? Well, basically due to the addition of me needing to learn advanced composition and the collective works of Jane Austen, the blog may have a small sputter until I learn how to balance it all. Basically instead of 3-4 posts a week, we may drop to 1-2 for a while and they may be a little less meaty than before.
I'm doing this because my penultimate goal is to become an English professor at a community college or state school, then one day go back for my PhD. and then get tenure at some great university where I can teach and be paid to lock myself in a basement and do research. I really love doing research and love love LOVE writing research papers. I know, I'm a freak.
I have to admit, I'm apprehensive. It's been a few years since I wrote anything academic, but this blog has helped me keep writing so that must count for something. I'm scared, nervous, excited, jittery, emotional, and possibly a bit touched in the head. Still, we brave out into the unknown and take risks. We challenge ourselves. We forge on. And we put ourselves into obscene debt come the end of it.
So wish me luck on this new adventure, because Jesus-tap-dancing-Christ I am so going to need it.