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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Goat Cheese Creme Brulee!

Bob and I really like creme brulee.  Once we had a delicious goat cheese creme brulee and we both thought, if only we could make this at home!  And now we have.

First I went out and bought a sexy kitchen torch.  I spoke to a nice gal at Sur La Table who told me she very much liked the one I ended up purchasing.  (Yes, I believe her.)

I used the Chavrie recipe, which strangely doesn't tell you how hot the oven should be.  I went with 275 degrees.  I also went ahead and halved the recipe because I didn't think we needed to be eating that much creme brulee all by ourselves.  It was really straight forward and easy, just took a long time to finally get around to eating it.  And of course, it wouldn't be complete with out fresh strawberries!

It was so good! If you like goat cheese and you also enjoy creme brûlée you should definitely check this out.


Friday, August 23, 2013

The "PushPan"

The box exclaims: "Never struggle w/ a traditional springform pan again!" 

Challenge accepted. 

Cheesecakes watch your back because I'm gonna own you!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Iron Griddle!

My new and completely awesome Lodge  iron griddle arrived today! I'm so excited! I've been upgrading my kitchen pots and cast iron is the way to go.

Until March of this year (2013) I'd been cooking with a set of non-stick pots my Dad bought me when I went to college. My old pots were great (a nice starter set from Costco), but I've discovered the true awesomeness of cast iron. 

I plan on breaking in my new griddle tomorrow night. I'm going to sear New York strip steaks, marinated in red wine, and it'll be amazing!

Stay tuned for the pictures!


Monday, August 19, 2013

SF Street Food Festival

I visited the SF Street Food Festival this weekend with Bob.  We showed up about an hour and a half after things had kicked off and it was complete craziness.  Lots of great booths set up to eat delicious food, and there were plenty of places to grab a drink and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Unfortunately we ate a late breakfast, so while everything smelled fantastic we didn't eat at any of the food carts.  Let's be honest here, we also realized that rather than standing in line with a huge mass of people we'd rather go eat at those places at our leisure.  (I know, we're whiners.)

We did take note of specific restaurants we definitely want to try.  Rice, Paper Scissors, The Beijing Restaurant, and Binis Kitchen are at the top of our list.

We stopped at the SF Cooking School booth and said hi, and I picked up some sexy temporary tattoos.

My fake tats!

I felt like a culinary badass.  This is a good time to mention that I will be attending the SF Cooking School's full time culinary program starting January 2nd, and I couldn't be more excited.  I'm going to be cooking my face off! 

It was a great day, to people watch and just enjoy a sunny San Francisco afternoon.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cinnamon Bread!

 My First Loaf of Cinnamon Wheat Bread!

I decided to try my hand at making homemade bread.  Of course being me, I couldn't make just regular bread.  I chose cinnamon wheat bread because whenever I buy it at the store it has raisins in it, and there's never enough cinnamon.  Because I've never made bread I looked up a recipe, but then of course I used it as a guideline and adjusted as I saw fit.  I used The Pioneer Woman's Homemade Cinnamon Bread.

The alterations I made were:

  • I used brown sugar in place of white sugar for 1/3 of the sugar in the recipe.

  • I weighed out the 3.5 cups of flour based on this conversion chart. (I also weighed the sugar.)

  • I used a very generous amount of cinnamon and sugar in the swirl part.

I should also mention that I don't have a bread maker, so I made my bread entirely by hand - well my kitchen aid mixer did make an appearance.  It was a long endeavor.  I now have seriously respect for people who regularly bake their own bread - especially with out a bread making machine.  The whole process took forever, this is not a quick pay-off recipe.  I didn't get any pictures during the whole process because I was covered in nastiness for most of the cooking experience, but my finished pictures make me very happy.

My loaf of bread sliced open for delicious eating.

You can't tell very well but I didn't roll my bread tight enough so it didn't quite hold together in some places.  I think I'd also use half wheat flour and half regular flour to make the bread a little less dense.  Otherwise I was pretty damn pleased with myself.  

This morning for breakfast I used the bread to make french toast!  It was delicious!
Delicious French Toast!

I think everyone should try baking bread at least once just to understand how ridiculously long the process takes.

Now go forth you baking fools, and create your own deliciousness!!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fried Pickles with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Delicious Fried Pickles

I don't know what came over me the other day, but I decided that for lunch we'd need to eat fried pickles.  Last summer at Outside Lands Bob and I ate some seriously delicious fried pickles from Frickles Pickles.  After having Frickles we made sure to order fried pickles whenever we'd see them on a menu but they just weren't the same, so finally I took matters into my own hands.  

We decided we wanted a spicy cornmeal fry, so I did a little research and then decided that I could make it up myself based on everything I'd read.  It was so easy, so delicious and so satisfying.  

Let's take a minute to talk about frying.  I use a large iron pot (5 qt) for frying.  I've used this same pot to fry donuts.  In other words, you don't need a deep fryer or really anything fancy to fry food.  Another thing you need to know about frying is that you want to bring the oil up to temperature slowly - this will give you the best chance of keeping a regular heat/temp while frying your items.  And finally, remember it's hot!  Be careful!  But don't worry, if I can do it then you can do it.

What you'll need:

Pickles (I used a jar of Dill oval chips 24oz)
Cornmeal 3/4 cup
Flour 1/4 cup
Spicy seasoning (I used Old Bay) 1 tsp
More spicy seasoning (And Angelo's BBQ Beef Seasoning) 1 tsp
Buttermilk 1/2 cup
Vegetable Oil (enough to have 3 inches of oil in your pan)

Tools you'll need:

A large pot to fry your pickles
Tongs (or chop sticks if you're really awesome at using them, or a large strainer with a handle)
A thermometer to monitor your oil temp. (I use my candy thermometer, it's awesome.)
2 bowls
A large plate/cutting board/etc covered with a paper towel for your pickles to cool on. (I used my cutting board.)

In your first bowl put your pickles and buttermilk, along with some salt and pepper, just for a little seasoning.  In your second bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, and spicy seasoning(s).   This is when you'll want to decide how spicy you want your pickles to be.  I put in a bit more than what I've put in the recipe, and I could have added a couple of tablespoons more for a good kick.

Move your pickles from the buttermilk to the cornmeal mixture in batches.  Make sure you completely coat the pickles in the cornmeal mixture.  After your pickles are all coated go ahead and start frying!

Pickles sitting in buttermilk.

Pickles after being coated in cornmeal mixture.

In my 5 qt pot I fried about 10 pickles at a time.  This gave all the pickles enough room to fully fry.  It doesn't take very long to fry pickles, just watch them and when they start to turn a little goldeny go ahead and scoop them out.  (It's about 30 seconds.)  Be very careful adding and removing your pickles, oil is hot and can be splattery.  Also keep your eye on your thermometer because you don't want the oil getting to hot or too cold.

And then ta-da! About 5 minutes later you'll have delicious fried pickles.

We enjoyed our fried pickles with tzatziki sauce mixed with siracha and it was fantastic.

Fried pickles on the cooling rack.

We tried frying zucchini the same way the following day, and it wasn't as good.  The zucchini didn't pick up as much cornmeal, and the flavor was just off.  I'll have to figure out something else for our zucchini fries.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Better With Bacon" at SF Cooking

    Cheesy Poofs stuffed with bacon and  
            served with pickled shallots.

I've loved all my cooking classes with SF Cooking, and because I've loved the classes I really wanted to share the experience with my husband, Bob.  So I did what any loving wife would do and I signed us up for a class all about bacon. It was great!
"Better With Bacon" was a little more intense than some of the other classes I've taken but it was completely worth it.  It was a full class of 14 people and we made: bacon wrapped dates, cheesy bacon poofs, blue cheese wedge salad, roasted pork belly, pork burgers, bacon biscuits with maple butter, bacon jam, and salted caramel pudding with bacon peanut brittle.
Bob made the salted caramel pudding, I made the cheesy poofs, and our teammate LeeAnn made the bacon brittle. We had a great time and at the end of all our cooking we sat down and enjoyed the fruits (pigs) of our labor.
            My plate of deliciousness.

     Salted caramel pudding with bacon 
                     peanut brittle.

You'll notice I don't have a picture of the bacon wrapped dates, because they were that good.
I'm happy to share the recipes with anyone who would like a copy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

An Italian Feast

Delicious vegetarian lasagna, spicy pork meatballs, and caprese salad. Photo courtesy of Winnie Lim

I recently ended up with almost 40 Roma Tomatoes in my refrigerator.  I decided this was my chance to make my own pasta sauce and then create other amazing things with that pasta sauce, and I did.

First I made my pasta sauce, and my goodness was I pleased.  I've included my basic recipe at the end of the post, along with the caprese and lasagna recipe.  I then decided that we couldn't use this wonderfully delicious sauce on spaghetti, no it deserved more than just spaghetti, it deserved an audience who would truly appreciate its texture and bite.  So I decided I would make lasagna!  But wait, I wanted to invite over my vegetarian friends too, so I decided to make vegetarian lasagna!  But wait (again), I also really like meat so I decided to also make spicy meatballs!  And so it was that I had a dinner party with: vegetarian lasagna, spicy meatballs, caprese salad, cheesy bread and the remnants of my coffee toffee cheesecake and a bread pudding....because well because I wanted one.

I made pretty much everything myself minus the bread and the spicy sausage.  I purchased all my bread from Whole Foods, and used the New York Spicy (HOT) sausage.  And then I just basically followed this recipe I found online for how to make the meatballs.  The recipe says it feeds 4 people.  I used my meatballs as a supplement and fed 6 meat eaters.  I used my extra homemade pasta sauce with the meatballs and it was great.  I will say that next time I'll probably buy ground beef and spice it myself.  The pork was good, but a little weird, as traditionally it's beef in pasta sauce.

My spicy pork meatballs! (Before going in the oven.)

My homemade pasta sauce:

This makes about 44oz of sauce.

  • 15 roma tomatoes

  • Cherry tomatoes (optional - however many you'd like)

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 1 shallot

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Dried chili flakes (optional)

  • Sugar (1-4 tbsp)

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Cut your roma tomatoes into quarters, chop up the garlic into large chunks, and dice your shallot.  In a large roasting pan, or on a cookie sheet add your tomatoes, garlic and shallot.  Pour your olive oil over the top of your delicious chunks of veggies.  Add however much salt and pepper you enjoy, and add the chili flakes now if you so desire.  (1 tbsp of chili flakes will give you a little bite, 2+ tbsp makes it nice an spicy.)  Stir everything around to make sure it's coated nicely with the olive oil and spices.  Now throw it in the oven!

Yummy roasted tomatoes, garlic and shallots! 

Don't worry about covering it, you don't need to.  Leave it in the oven for 25 minutes.  After you let your veggies cool, throw them in your food processor, or blender and blend it up.  This is where the sugar comes in, add a little bit of sugar at a time to get the right balance of sweet to acidic.  If you taste your sauce before adding sugar you'll notice it's very tart/acidic.  The sugar will cut the tartness, I ended up adding about 2 tbsp of sugar to my sauce and I did it a little pinch at a time and then would blend between adding more sugar.  This part is really up to you, because only you will know how sweet you like your pasta sauce.

Super easy caprese salad.

Caprese Salad:

Feeds about 6 people as a side salad.

  • 1 cup chopped up fresh spinach

  • 4 heirloom tomatoes (med/lg sized)

  • 10 baby heirlooms, or cherry tomatoes

  • Mozzarella Cheese (shredded, cubed, whatever and as much as you'd like)

  • Pepper

Chop up your tomatoes into 1/2 sized chunks. Add your spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella to a bowl, add some pepper for zing and toss the crap out of everything!  No dressing necessary and it's delish!

Extra tip:  If you tear up your spinach into smaller pieces it will more evenly disperse throughout the salad.

My pre-cooked lasagna.

Lasagna Recipe:

Feeds about 12, if you follow the recipe.  Mine served 9 because I used a smaller pan (9 3/4 x 9 3/4).

My mother-in-law, Leslie, uses this really great recipe for lasagna so I used that as a base.  The recipe is great because you don't have to pre-cook the noodles!  Hoorays for one less pot to clean.

So I know you can read, which why I'm just going to tell you what I changed with the recipe.

  • Adjustment 1 - I used 1.5x the cheese mixture, because everyone loves cheese.

  • Adjustment 2 - I shredded up a mixture of zucchini, portabello mushrooms and onion in place of the spinach or meat.  (3 zucchinis, 1 portabellos, 1/2 onion - about 12oz of mush)

  • Adjustment 3 - Homemade sauce.

Extra tip:  Follow the directions and use a normal sized pan, it'll save you the grief of breaking the noodles to make them fit.

I'll write up how to make the bread pudding in another post.  Now be free and enjoy your foods!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

A View of SF with Brunch!

I had an overwhelming desire for buttermilk biscuits this morning, but also knew I had egg whites that needed to be used. What's a gal to do with a dilemma like that? So I made brunch.

The biscuits are really easy to make. I have a great recipe from SF Cooking for buttermilk biscuits and they come out perfect every time.  I'm including the recipe at the end of the post.

I had leftover egg whites (3) from making bread pudding and wanted to put them to good use.  I used the egg whites, one egg, and some yummy veggies I had in the fridge.  (Recipe at the end of post.)

And because it was brunch I went ahead and made smoothies!  We had extra strawberries and bananas in the house so I also put those items to good use.

And, as Emeril says, Bam! We had brunch.  And it was fantastic.

Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe:

Yeilds about 20 biscuits

  • 2 cups flour

  • 2 cups cake flour

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 cup butter (chilled, cut into ½in cubes)

  • 1½ cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a food processor.  Add the butter cubes and pulse until you have a "grainy" texture. 

Put your grainy mix in a bowl.  Make a little well in the middle of your dry mix and add the buttermilk.  Delicately fold/mix until you have a sticky dough.

On a clean flat surface sprinkle some flour and then roll out your dough mixture.  I just knead it about a little bit, until it's not sticky, and then pat it down.  You want about ¾ an inch thick dough. Using a 2in circular cookie cutter, or whatever you have in your home (I used my water glass) cut out your biscuits.  Place your biscuits on a cookie sheet (w/ or w/o parchment paper) and place the biscuits in the oven for 15 - 18 minutes.

You can also brush the tops of your biscuits with more buttermilk and/or butter before placing them in the oven.  Brushing the tops will help get a more golden/crisp top.

And now, enjoy your delicious biscuits!  They're really great with home made sausage gravy.

Veggie Scramble Recipe:

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 2 small zucchini

  • 1 portobello mushroom

  • 4 chunks of garlic

  • 1/2 an onion

  • 1 cup spinach

  • 1 tomato

  • 3 egg whites (alternatively you can use full eggs, I just happened to have egg whites.)

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I like a nice mix of cheddar/jack)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Dried pepper flakes (optional)

Place a skillet on the stove top on a low heat, and throw in your butter.  Chop up the zucchini, portobello, garlic, and onion.  Add your chopped veggies and stir everything around, go ahead and add some salt and pepper along with the pepper flakes if you like spice.  Turn up the skillet to about medium and saute the veggies.  Add the spinach about five minutes in, so it doesn't get too soggy.  While your veggies are sauteing chop up your tomato. When your zucchini is slightly translucent add the tomatoes and stir the veggies around.

In  a separate bowl mix your eggs together with a whisk.  Add a little bit of water and whisk some more to help fluff up your eggs.  Salt and pepper as you'd like.

In the skillet evenly spread your veggies and pour the whisked egg across the top.  Let the eggs set for a couple of minute and then stir all the ingredients together.  Cook until your eggs are almost solid and add your cheese and stir again.

And ta-da, you have a wonderful veggie scramble.  You can use any variety of vegetables you'd like in a scramble, it's ridiculously easy.

Strawberry/Banana Smoothie Recipe:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries

  • 2 bananas

  • 1 cup orange juice

Blend everything together in your blender. It's that easy.

And then enjoy your wonderful brunch!

(Extra timing tip - Put your biscuits in the oven right after you start sauteing your veggies.  This way, everything will be ready at almost the same time.)

The next day we ate more veggie scramble, the rest of the biscuits, and some delish apple smoked bacon.  (Cause it was Bob's happy birthday!)