Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Night at The Kitchen

Diesel took me to The Kitchen for my birthday and it was hands down one of the best meals of my life.  Combine the food with the attitude that "there are no rules" and it becomes a night to remember.  Want seconds or thirds of a dish?  Just ask.   Want to wander through the kitchen, walk in fridge and wine cellar?  Go for it. 

I only have one thing to say - This place is awesome.

Now I just need to start saving my pennies so I can go back.
First Course - ‘Thai Style’ Coconut Milk Soup with Wild Frog Legs, Mushrooms, Bamboo Rice and Cabbage Slaw
Second Course -  A ‘Burrito’ of Wagyu Beef Ribeye, Eggplant and Goat Cheese with an Herbed Crayfish Salad and Tomato-Corn Butter
Freshly grated wasabi
Sushi Course
Third Course - Maine Lobster Bolognese and Tempura Egg Yolk with Butter Poached Black Truffle Pasta and Red Wine-Parmesan Broth
Fourth Course - The Kitchen’s Steak Diane with Puff Pastry, Potato, Small Carrots, Onions and Homemade Bacon
White glove tea service
Dessert Course - Brioche French Toast and Apple Consommé with Pink Lady Apple Fries, Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream and Maple Sabayon

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Batter Blaster

I love my boyfriend.

Sometimes we watch weird commercials on late night tv and talk about how bizarre certain organic, canned, pancake batter products are.

Then one day he brings home this.

He's the best.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monster Cookie

Growing up, every time I walked past the cookie stand in Del Amo mall, I lusted after the enormous, pizza sized chocolate chip cookies they sold. “How cool would it be", I wondered, “to have one of those for my next birthday?”

But unfortunately the attention span of a child is akin to that of a goldfish, and my birthday would come and go with the giant cookies present only as a distant memory.

Flash forward almost twenty years and Diesel's mother had entrusted me with the awesome responsibility of contributing the cake for Diesel’s 33rd birthday party. Nervous to impress, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday. “I don’t like cake,” was his only reply.

How was I to impress his family with the centerpiece of the birthday meal if he didn’t want cake?? Didn’t he know that I needed him to have a preference for the traditional dessert I was expected to provide??

And then I thought of cookies. Iced cookies, chocolate cookies, ice cream sandwich cookies – all of which would probably satisfy the peculiarly picky sweet tooth of my aging boyfriend, but none that packed the WOW factor I was hoping to deliver.

And then it came to me. What I really needed was one of the man-hole sized cookies from my childhood.

I ended up making two cast iron skillet sized cookies, instead of the monstrosity of my day dreams, but the end result was no less impressive. I served one cooled and frosted with the traditional birthday message, and one hot and melty - straight out of the oven, just the way he likes it. Accompanied by vanilla and homemade cheesecake ice cream, the dessert set a delicious tone for an exciting new year.

** My icing job did not do this cookie justice. Luckily, it didn't effect the taste.

Monster Cookie
(courtesy of the queen, Martha Stewart)
12 servings

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
• 1 large egg
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until mixture lightens and becomes fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until they they have become fully incorporated into the butter mixture. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

2. Transfer dough to a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, and press to flatten, evenly covering the bottom of the skillet. Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Don't overbake; it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into 12 wedges. Serve warm for the yummiest effect.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Downtown Bakery and Creamery's Doughnut Muffins


Maybe double yum.

Not only are these amazing, but they might even be better than the originals.

I watch food network alot, and I always take notes when I see them feature restaurants or bakeries in my area. So when I went to Napa a few weeks ago, I knew I had to take a sidetrip to Healdsburg to check these babies out. And they were good.

So good in fact, that I decided to make them the next weekend for a road trip we were taking with friends. Not only were they gobbled up, but Diesel told me they are better than the first ones we tried.

And you know what? I agree.

Doughnut Muffins
For the muffins:
12 oz. (24 Tbs.) unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 lb. 11 oz. (6 cups) all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1-2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping:
8 oz. (16 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more as needed
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon

To make the muffins:
Put a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
In a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for 5 mins, until lighter in color and sugar particles are not obvious.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just mixed in.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Combine the milk, buttermilk and vanilla extract.

With a wooden spoon, mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Then mix in a third of the milk mixture. Continue mixing in the remaining dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until well combined and smooth, but don't overmix.
Grease and flour a standard-size muffin tin. Scoop enough batter into each tin so that the top of the batter is even with the rim of the cup, about 1/2 cup. (An ice-cream scoop gives you the perfect amount.)
Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, 30 to 35 min.

To Finish:
Melt the butter for the dipping mixture. Combine the sugar and cinnamon.
When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the tin, dip them into or brush them all over with the melted butter, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.

Make Ahead Tips:
You don't have to bake all the muffins right away; the batter will keep, covered and chilled, for up to three days in the refrigerator.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Leite’s Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Leite’s Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from David Leite via The New York Times

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and try to incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. [Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.]

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

* I found Valrhona’s fèves or oval-shaped chocolate pieces, at Whole Foods in half pounds. Baking discs can be found from a number of brands, from Jacques Torres to E. Guittard (Fresh Direct used to sell these by the quarter pound, but now just in one pound boxes, but still at a very reasonable price) to Ghiradelli. Can’t find them? Use the largest chocolate chips you can find. Ghiradelli sells some slighly larger ones in the brown bag (as opposed to the standard-sized chips in the gold bag) though I may have mixed the two varieties up. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tres Leches Cake = YUMMY

I was a little skeptical about a wet cake, but this cake is fantastic. It makes an awesome addition to any potluck or Cinco de Mayo party.

Tres Leches Cake
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Servings: 12

• 1 cup All-purpose Flour
• 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
• ¼ teaspoons Salt
• 5 whole Eggs
• 1 cup Sugar, Divided
• 1 teaspoon Vanilla
• ⅓ cups Milk
• 1 can Evaporated Milk
• 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
• ¼ cups Heavy Cream

For the icing:
• 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
• 3 Tablespoons Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.
Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.

Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mini Raspberry Tarts

Raspberry Tarts
makes 24 muffin-size tarts (with some leftover filling) or 2 full-size pies

2 refrigerated pie crusts (the kind that come rolled up in a box, not already pressed into a pan)
1 packet gelatin
3 small lemons, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 (10-ounce) package frozen raspberries, thawed but not drained
fresh raspberries to garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
Working with one pie crust at a time, unroll it, and use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut 12 circles.
Take each circle of dough and roll it gently with a rolling pin until it's just a bit bigger and thinner, so that it will fill a muffin cup. When you press the dough into the muffin tin, the top of the dough should reach the top of the cup with rippled edges.
Bake the tart shells for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool.

In a large bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the lemon juice and stir. Whisk in the lemon zest and condensed milk.
Add the raspberries and their juices. Stir well to combine. (You can use a hand-held mixer to make the filling extra smooth, if you'd like.)
Fill the baked, cooled tart shells with a few spoonfuls of the raspberry mixture, or divide the filling between the two pie crusts.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm.
Garnish with fresh raspberries or whipped cream.

*Note: The filling also makes a good trifle, by the way, layered with whipped cream.
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