Friday, April 30, 2010
I think I've mentioned one or one hundred times how much I love food-related magazines, or magazines in general for that matter, it's a great way to find new ideas, info and inspiration! Of course the internet is a never-ending bounty of gloriousness, but there is something fabulous about turning pages and getting lost in print.
The April Issue of Bon Appetit had a spread titled The Great American Cake, a "luscious look at six old-fashioned favorites"
Cake #1 is a Lime Angel Food Cake with Lime Glaze and Pistachios, and the photo is lickably delicious.
I wanted to make it, but alas, no angel food cake pan here!
Fortunately, my day job (the Clark Kent-esque 9-5 hours of this baker's life story) does lend to some pretty sweet culinary exploits from time to time, and as luck would have it the boss-lady saw this cake too, and invited me over to help whip it up!
I grated lime zest and read through the steps and she gave me some great tips that were NOT in the magazine, that I will happily now share with you;
#1 when separating the eggs and egg whites you can NOT get even one TEENY TINY bit of yolk in the whites, if it happens, even a bitsy-bit- you gotta scrap that batch o whites and start over, even one little drop of yolk and your cake it gonna be flat'ski
#2 The man must be CLEAN and free of any grease, resist the urge!! Do not grease the pan- just buy a proper Angel Food Cake pan and know it will turn out ok, any grease and your cake is gonna be FLAT-O-RAMA.
The work day was calling, so E.C. and I had to invert the lime angel food cake to cool and head back to the office to deal with the billion dollar business of bling, because that pays the bills more effectively than our baking projects at the moment.
She made the glaze and pistachio crust later and brought it by for us to taste.
The pistachio crust and texture of the cake was really good, but the lime element (to me), was not so much...I think I like my angel food cake super sweet- so the tart aspect threw me for a loop.
THEN- STOP THE PRESSES- I got an angel food cake pan, because about at week later- there it was, at Target and on SALE! WOOHOO!!!
So of course I wanted to try this recipe on my own ASAP. I decided to go sans-lime and sans- crust and just make a plain and simple angel food cake.
For the orignal recipe see page 107 of the April 2010 Bon Appetit Magazine!
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups SUPER FINE (bakers) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
10 large egg whites- room temp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cream of tartar
As noted above you WILL NEED a 10-inch angel food cake pan with 4-inch high sides and a removable bottom.
Center a rack in the oven and pre heat it to 350.
Sift the flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar , and salt into a medium bowl- repeat sifting 3 times.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or electric hand mixer) beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and increase speed to high- beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Use a large spatula and gently sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mix over the whites and fold in. Fold the remaining flour mix in 2 more additions until just incorporated. Transfer to the angel food cake pan & smooth the top.
Bake cake until top is a pale golden color, and tester near center comes out clean- about 38 minutes.
Immediately invert the cake onto work surface if the pan has feet- or onto neck of a bottle (see photo) and let cake cool COMPLETELY.
Using a long thin knife, cut around the cake sides and center tube to loosen. Lift out center tube with cake still attached, run knife between cake and bottom of pan to loosen. Place on cake plate and serve with fruit! YUM!!!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Last year we heard there was going to be a L.A. Beer Fest, less than 3 blocks from our apartment, on the Sony Pictures lot, on Nate's birthday weekend- GET OUT!! It was incredible- so well organized, loads of yummy beers we'd never had, great day outside drinkin'.
So when we found out that Drink. Eat. Play.,the organizers of this fabulous event, were planning to do it all again on April 10, 2010, Nate's ACTUAL birthday- we started rallying the troops and planning Beer Fest part deaux.
I have to say we've been to several D.E.P events and they've got a knack for organizing things really well and somehow wrangling mellow, fun, non-hostile crowds to their functions.
Sake fest last year was a great time, awesome learning experience and some pretty sweet karaoke.
So we were looking forward to doing Beer Fest again.
This time they opened up the front area, allowing for EVEN MORE tents and an extra food area where they lined up some of L.A.'s yummy taco truck food fun. This was a stellar improvement over the first year. At the 2009 Beer Fest, I don't think anyone had any idea how snacky people would get in a 3-hour drink all you can festival of pure indulgence, but for 2010 they had it hooked up!
So what were the FAVORITES? Last year it was the Seadog Blueberry Ale that Val and I adored, so we hit that up again right away.
This year there was a beer from Tibet called Lhasa that was awesome- perfect for summer bbq's or to pair with spicy food.
In the dark and gorgeous department, we loved the Maui Brewing Co's Coconut Porter, which is carried at WholeFoods, so we'll definitely be picking some up soon.
Another fun find was Primo- this is beer was originally brewed in Hawaii in 1898 by the Honolulu Brewing & Malting Co, today it's a part of the Pabst brew co. family. In my personal opinion, Primo is the crown jewel of Pabst for sheezie- it's an excellent beer that I was glad to try for the first time at last year's fest and enjoy again this year!!
If you are in or around the Los Angeles area, I highly reccomend checking out their website, click here--> DRINK.EAT.PLAY.
and hop on their email list so you are in the know on their upcoming events!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
As a fabulous fund raiser for Share Our Strength, food bloggers all over the nation got together on one day, April 17th 2010, and baked for the cause!
You can read all about the event on Gaby's blog- here at WHAT'S GABY COOKING, she was the fearless leader of this awesome event. I really look forward to the NEXT bakesale and sure hope to have some delicious treats to help fundraise for Share Our Strength!!
I could only pop in for a moment, I had brioche dough coming to room temp on my kitchen counter, but was able to meet Esi of Dishing Up Delights and had the pleasure of seeing Sherry Yard (eeep!) and Jeni, who has one of my favorite blogs, Picky Palate! Her peanut butter chocolate cookies were DEEEEEELICIOUS!
I missed out on hearing about this early enough to participate this year, but I for sure was not going to miss the deliciousness!
If you didn't know about this spectacular Saturday in time, or if there was not a bake sale close to you click here to support Share Our Strength with a donation today!
SHARE OUR STRENGTH
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
For my birthday this year, it was a big one, 3 decades to celebrate, Nate rented a sensational pad out in Palm Springs so we could throw it back to the 60s for a retro celebration.
I was in MAJOR need of a weekend away, and this was beyond perfect.
We spent three days poolside lounging in gorgeous weather and threw a totally hip shindig on Saturday night, complete with timely-themed appetizers that I was having a little too much fun to get good photos of...but here is a run-down of the easy stuff;
Celery plate- celery with either cream cheese, peanut butter or pimento cheese spread (which everyone voted should stay in the 60s, no pimento cheese fans here)
Dates- pitted & split- stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon- held with toothpick and baked at 450 for about 15 minutes or until bacon is cooked through.
Mini crustless white bread samiches (half pb & grape jelly, half with havarti dill slices and thin cucumbers) a normal sandwhich with 2 slices, crst removed then cut into 1/4s on the diagonal
Then for dessert- I made this rockin' Jell-O salad. Which is super old school, all American goodness, and I looooove it. My sister was not havin' it- she's grossed out by Jell-O and even adding the buttery pretzle crust and cream cheese whip layer, this was still a no-go for her. I however, super-giant-puffy-heart Jell-O Salad and post here for you my recipe with a few tips that were missing from the recipe I was given by Nana, who I think can make this with her eyes closed and a hand tied behind her back.
2 cups crushed pretzles
1/2 cup butter- melted
1/4-1/3 cup sugar
1 box of Jell-O (I used blackberry raspberry fusion, because how can ya resist that?!)
1 large bag of frozen fruit (I used raspeberries)
1 container of cool-whip whipped topping , thawed
1 8oz block of cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
Pre heat the oven to 350. Combine the pretzles, butter and sugar and press into the bottom of a greased 9 x13 inch pyrex baking dish.
Bake 8-10 minutes, then let cool completely. COMPLETELY.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment whip the sugar and cream cheese and then using a spatula fold in the cool whip until it's totally mixed with the cream cheese.
I scoop the cream cheese cool whip mixture by the spoonful evenly over the pretzles, then I use the back of a big metal spoon lightly greased to very gently create a wall-to-wall even layer of the cream cheese mix, with no holes that go through to the pretzle layer.
Refridgerate for at least 1 hour so it sets up.
Then make the J-E-L-L-Oh!! Prepare the Jell-O according to package directions, then pour into a big mixing bowl and refrigerate 15-20 minutes or until it gets a little thicker and starts to set up.
Then stir in the frozen fruit and when Jell-O is somewhat set and definitely not in a liquid state but a state you would call Jell-O, then spoon it onto the cream cheese layer and spread it evenly.
Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate 3-4 hours so Jell-O gets completely set.
Slice into purtty lil squares and serve up some throw-back yumminess!!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Last, and most spectacular we headed to the Far Bar. This is truly a GEM tucked away in the city I love the most, and I am thrilled to know about it... finally!
The Far East Cafe opened in this spot in 1937 and has a long and very interesting history, it was so much fun going on the tour to learn the history of places like this. Far East is now closed for daily dining but is available for special events- I'd highly recommend it for a stellar cocktail party, reception or rehearsal dinner- this spot had spectacular personality. These days there is a bar, Far Bar, open that runs along side the main building/dining room. Normally on the tour they set up a table outside, under the cafe lights for some awesome fried chicken wings. The day we went on the tour it was drizzling a bit on and off so to be on the safe side they set us up in the main dining room of Far East, all by ourselves!! It was AMAZING!
Due to the way Far Bar is tucked away, almost like a little delicious secret hidden down an alley way, it would make a great date-night outing. Going to a show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall? This would be a perfect spot for a pre-show drink that will make you look very in-the-know, I'd sure be impressed!
I had such a sensational time on this tour, we can't wait to take the other Six Taste tours- Chinatown's up next, then the Financial District and we hear via twitter @sixtaste is going to have a Santa Monica tasting tour in the near future...wonder if S.M. Seafood will be one of the stops?!
If you live anywhere near L.A. or can get your tushie over here- take one of these tours and let me know whatcha think!!
Monday, April 5, 2010
2010 is all about eating everything, and trying new things, and learning something along the way. We kicked this tradition off in early February with an outing in Little Tokyo in downtown L.A.
EIGHT years ago, when Nate and I started dating (and even before that when we were "just friends") we used to head through the 2nd street tunnel and have sushi at HAMA, pretty often. At the time, I hadn't lived in L.A. too long, Nate went to USC, so he had a few years and more knowledge of awesome spots to do cool stuff than I did. When ever a friend or family member would come to town, I loved taking them to Little Tokyo to this seemingly hidden spot that felt like it was ours, and I felt really cool knowing about it.
Late last year I read about a company called Six Taste and their "tasting tours" in Los Angeles. I constantly checked for tickets but every weekend they were available I was out of town or busy and every weekend I was around, it'd sell out before I could pounce on it! They keep the tours under 15 people so it is a more intimate experience, which we totally appreciated.
FINALLY I snagged some tickets to their walking gastronomy tour of Little Tokyo and counted the minutes to that Saturday afternoon.
The tour consists of walking an area less than a mile, over the course of about 3 or 4 hours, with plenty of chances to sit, use the restroom and enjoy the delicious food!
We went with 4 friends (2 other couples) and had with our tour, two brothers and their wives, with their mother for her birthday and a food aficionado from Laguna Beach, and our spectacular guide, Tata!
Little Tokyo has had quite a makeover since we last sat at the bar in Hama and had the yellow tail collar and some hamachi, the lot we used to park in was a big building of luxury apartments with store fronts on the street level.
We met in front of the Japanese American History museum and started by learning a bit about the history of Little Tokyo- and got our first taste of the tour.
Tata had stopped at Yamazaki bakery and brought us a green tea dessert and a "melon cake" dessert. She gave us each a taste of each and we discussed which of the two was more western style...and WHY....
It was threatening to rain, but never did, the day was gorgeous! We walked along, down the cherry blossom tree lined street. They were not in bloom, but will be later in the spring, which would be a great time for YOU to go on this tour and check it out!!
Our first stop was at a restaurant on the street level of the big building that was sitting on top of what used to be the parking lot we'd park in for our dinners at Hama. It was not Japanese, what? Interesting! Little Tokyo is a crossroads for all kinds of culture, food and we headed into a Doner Kebab called Spitz, to see first hand how there was a wide variety of yumminess in this small corner of L.A.
Spitz has delicious homemade garlic ailoi and hummus, which are both sensational with their pita chip strips, or the sweet potato fries. We also got to taste the three spectacular (and creative) sangria recipes~ cinnamon/cardamom, white peach/basil and and apple/mint.
We were pretty full after Spitz, with much more to see and eat, so it was a good thing Tata took us on a little walk around the block to learn more of the history of the area before our next taste.
Our next stop was the Fugetsu-Do Sweet Shop- an area institution since 1903.
Everything we tried at Fugetsu-Do was as yummy as it was beautiful!
There was no way I was leaving the sweet shop with out a to-go bag, and fortunately Nate was on the same page, so we brought home all kinds of these goodies to taste and enjoy! I'll definitely be sure to hit thie spot up again this year near the holidays, what gorgeous, tasty and unique gifts!
Next up we hit Wakasaya for a spicy tuna sushi bowl and yummy miso soup with udon noodles! The boys ordered some beers and we got to check out an interesting way that food is ordered in Japan to keep things moving quick and efficiently during the busy lunch rush hour- all the menu items were posted with a photo, which I think is awesome!
The next two stops were so delicious I got a little distracted by the EATING and did not note the NAMES of the shops! EEP! So....I guess you are just going to have to GO on the tour and find out! Right?! Trust me, it's beyond worth it.
These red bean paste filled pieces of heaven have been made here, just like this for many, many years- and hopefully it always stays that way. I could've eaten 10 of these, but we'd already had SO much food, one was perfect! Hot, fresh and sooooooo delicious!
Next, we stopped at sweet-shop/ mochi spot for MOCHI-LATTO- instead of being filled with ice cream, like the mochi ice cream you'd find at Trader Joe's, these were filled with yummy gelato- the coconut was my favorite- but the Oreo and green tea were pretty awesome as well! The coconut got "smashed in my face" too fast to show up in a photo...that expression, by the way, is one of my favorite souvenirs brought back from Tanzania by Shayne & Erica. Feel free to enjoy using it as much as I do.
For the final stop and the wrap up of this awesome adventure, I'm going to spill over into a second post. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, if you live in or near (or plan on visiting) Los Angeles, head over to http://www.sixtaste.com/ and get signed up for any one of their delicious & informative tours, we're planning to take them all so if you are nowhere near L.A. feel free to virtually enjoy the yumminess here.