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Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

CherPumpLe: the TurDuckEn of Pies

In by Katherine, The Internets on December 29 at 10:49 am

From the wonderful Serious Eats blog, a post about the dessert version of the infamous TurDuckEn.

“Phoenix here creates a monster of a three-layered dessert where each layer (CHERry, PUMpkin, and apPLE pie) is also baked inside a cake mix (white, yellow, and spice, respectively).” (Serious Eats)

We just might have to do a foodie friday dinner themed around this.  Check out the full post and the video over at Serious Eats.

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My State Can Beat Up Your State

In by Katherine, The Internets on December 29 at 10:34 am

GOOD magazine, producer of mind-blowing infographics the envy of designers everywhere, has most recently released this foodie-related gem.  It shows which locally-grown fruits and vegetables are available each season in six states across the country.

GOOD infographic

No surprise here, California pretty much blows every other state out of the water.  We here at Foodie Friday owe our bountiful, cheap produce to Berkeley Bowl and Yasai Produce Market, though we’ve been meaning to check out the slightly more indie (insofar as a grocery store can be indie) Monterey Market in North Berkeley for some time.  Click the photo for a larger flash version of the infographic.

Meaty Decadence at Alexander’s Steakhouse

In by Deanne, Foodies on the Town on December 26 at 11:20 pm

So my family decided to be extra-fancy this year and hold our Christmas dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse, located N. Wolfe Rd in Cupertino. And, boy, do they deliver here. It is a $$$$ American/Japanese steakhouse that serves the most luxurious cuts of steak any foodie can imagine: dry-aged porterhouse, rib-eye, and, yes, the one and only Japanese-imported Kobe beef steak. Sold at over $120 per plate at Alexander’s, genuine Kobe beef is from Wagyu cattle, cows that are reportedly fed beer, massaged with sake, and entertained with classical music. The result is a very fatty, well-marbled, tender cut of steak that is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

Check out that intense fattiness! (image from House of Annie)

Did I order Kobe beef at Alexander’s? Unfortunately no, since the parentals weren’t too keen on busting their wallet on Baby Jesus’s B-day. We still had a fantastic meal, since Alexander’s is solidly luxurious all around. Case in point:

Amuse Bouche: Fancy Crab Bites, compliments of the chef

At Alexander’s, there is always a small bite or shot of a starter, compliments of the chef. This time, the chef served a bit of a crab-salad, with sprouts and a caviar on top. Fancy!

Drinks:

An Old-Fashioned and Mint Julep

My sister and I were inspired by Mad Men, and went for an Old-Fashioned and a Mint Julep.

Intermezzo:

An intense Mango Sorbet with Raspberry

As with all fancy restaurants, Alexander’s also serves a sorbet before they present your main dishes. The mango sorbet was very intense and sour, so it certainly cleansed my taste buds!

Main Dishes:

The Mélange à trois: steak tartare, shortrib canneloni, and filet steak

I ordered the Mélange à trois, because it was decently priced ($41) and had three styles of beef to offer. The best was the filet steak topped with a mushroom ragout. It was perfectly cooked (medium rare), very tender and juicy. The variety of sauteed mushrooms (shiitake, etc) in a creamy sauce added a woody sweetness to the steak. Delicious! However, the two other dishes on my plate were slightly disappointing. The shortrib cannelloni (that’s braised beef rolled in pasta sheets) seemed uninspired, and the steak tartare (that’s raw fresh beef, people) had Japanese influences like soy sauce that just ended up tasting strange and too salty. But overall, the dish was beautifully presented, as you can see above.

Filet Mignon with a tarragon-mustard beurre blanc demi-glace. A whadda wha?

My sister’s filet mignon ($38) was delicious. Again, perfectly cooked at medium rare, very thick and juicy, high quality cut of beef. The sauce is a blend of mustard and a rich butter sauce (white wine, vinegar, butter, and shallots) which was very complex and very creamy. The creaminess got a little overpowering for me, but I still highly recommend this dish.

Mac 'n Cheese with White Truffle Oil, biatches!

This was by far my favorite dish of the evening. Call me a simpleton, but I am just a fool for comfort food with truffle oil drizzled all over it. I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever tasted better mac ‘n cheese in my life. On the first bite, I melted into a puddle of goo at the taste of rich and creamy cheese sauce with strong tones of white truffle wafting through. And then I just couldn’t stop eating it. My sister had to back me away from this flavorful side dish before I inhaled it all. I guess it was my personal Ratatouille moment! Verdict in all caps: YOU MUST ORDER THIS. THIS DISH ALONE MAKES THE TRIP TO ALEXANDER’S WORTHWHILE.

Dessert:

The O2 dessert. Melty goodness!

At the end of the meal, my family settled on the O2 dessert, or Oxygen. The presentation of this sweet treat was surprising and fun. The O2 is a unique concept: the bottom half of the sphere is chocolate cake, the top half is a hollow dark chocolate shell, and the center is a ball of chocolate pudding. The waiter then pours hot raspberry sauce all over the sphere, melting away the chocolate shell to reveal the pudding in the middle. Ingenious! There is also vanilla ice cream with malts on the side. The raspberry sauce was a little too sweet, but I was willing to overlook anything by that point because of the coolness of the experience!

Cotton Candy! Yay!

Just when you think dinner at Alexander’s couldn’t get any better, the waiters come and set up a huge swab of cotton candy as a complimentary after-dinner treat! Who knew such a serious and fancy restaurant had a sense of fun? :)

So, if you ever have a special event you want to celebrate at $$$$ Alexander’s Steakhouse, I highly recommend it! Bring your meat-lover friends and family for a night of all-out, luxurious carnage! This meat-lover was very happy and satisfied.

–Deanne

Biscuits and Gravy

In by Katherine, The Everyday Foodie on December 15 at 12:02 pm

There’s nothing better on a lazy winter morning than steaming hot biscuits from the oven.

Biscuits Supreme with Jimmy Dean sausage and gravy, and a fried egg on the side.

Deanne and I made these biscuits with Jack and Varun last week; the recipe is a family favorite from our worn and red-checkered copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, a classic as far as I’m concerned.

We paired the biscuits with eggs, Jimmy Dean sausage, and gravy for a delicious savory breakfast, but they also taste wonderful with marmalade or fruit preserves.

I recommend doubling the recipe for a crowd.  We used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and improvised by substituting fresh squeezed lime juice for cream of tartar, but the biscuits came out fine.  The secret to these biscuits’ perfect round shape is cutting the rolled-out dough with the lightly floured rim of a glass, which works just as well as a biscuit cutter.  I like to roll the dough twice as thin as the recipe asks, then fold it over onto itself, before making the cuts.  The result is a flaky biscuit that comes apart into perfect halves after baking.

Biscuits Supreme

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center; add milk all at once.  Stir just until dough clings together.  Knead gently on a lightly floured surface for 10 to 12 strokes.  Roll or pat to 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut with a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter, dipping cutter in flour between cuts.  Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm.  Makes 10 to 12 biscuits.

Put an Egg on It

In by Amy, Cooking for N00bs, The Everyday Foodie on December 14 at 12:47 am

Chicks and ducks better scurry

When I put an egg on my curry

When I eat a hearty meal with an egg on top!

Finals week has prevented me from going grocery shopping, wreaking havoc on my diet. Suddenly I’m  much more content to eat instant, quick-to-prepare foods. I’ve already had fried rice (3 times), ramen (2 times), microwavable mac and cheese (3 times), and frozen dumplings (5 times) on several occasions in the past week and a half.

I’ve still been cooking from scratch! Just on much rarer occasions.

At any rate, in an attempt to clean the fridge, I’ve also been reminded of one of my favorite foods: eggs.

Generally, I try not to use eggs too often because of their high cholesterol content, but I’ve made an exception this week. I just polished off a classic finals week dish (ramen–mee goreng, in particular) that I made 5 times more awesome with an addition of a fried egg.

Instant mee goreng made instantly better: ramen noodles with an egg on top. Ah, what a difference a single egg can make!

Midway through my meal, I realized just how much I love eggs. They make EVERYTHING taste better, especially the most n00bish of meals. (Katherine was not too impressed and dryly remarked, “You know Forrest Gump? You sound like-” Me: “Yes. I know. *sigh*.”) At any rate, I think I also like them because they look so smiley and happy. Example:

  • Fried egg on top of fried rice
  • Egg mixed into ramen soup
  • Fried egg with steak or even better, Vietnamese pork chops
  • Runny eggs in a Vietnamese sandwich (so messy but so tasty)

Not to mention the wonderful dishes based on eggs: poached eggs, soft-boiled eggs with soy sauce/sesame oil, eggs in a basket (a great snack), soy sauce eggs, and my personal favorite, EGG TARTS. (For those of you in the SF Bay Area, you NEED to head over to Golden Gate Bakery and taste the best egg tarts in America.)

So next time you make a meal, try enhancing it with an egg. You’ll be converted for life.

Oh man, this post makes me realize that I could never be a vegan.

Potato, Red Pepper, and Feta Fritatta

In by Katherine, The Everyday Foodie on December 14 at 12:36 am

Check out our new Press section above for a roundup of sites featuring ourPeriodic Table Cupcakes, including Wired, Serious Eats, and the Huffington Post’s blog.  If you’re new to Foodie Friday, welcome!

Potato, roasted red pepper, and feta fritatta

If you’re not familiar with the fritatta, it’s an Italian egg dish somewhere between an omelette and a quiche.

This easy one-pan fritatta recipe from The Kitchn has quickly become one of my standbys this semester.  I think the recipe’s tangy, slightly salty feta cheese adds just the right counterbalance to the hearty potato and egg.  Make it for dinner with a side of broccoli, and then have it again cold for breakfast — the flavors deepen overnight.

The Trader Joe’s roasted red peppers from a jar aren’t necessary — fresh red pepper works just fine — but they do add another dimension to the dish.  A word to the wise: Don’t skimp out on the fresh thyme.  It’s there for a reason.  Potato and fresh thyme are like Batman and Robin.  The latter is not technically necessary, but without it, you wouldn’t have a dynamic duo, would you?

Shortbread

In by Amy, Cooking for N00bs, Dessert First, This is Why John's Fat. on December 12 at 12:39 am

Cooking time: 35 minutes | Originally enjoyed on: 12/9/2009

A couple of days ago, Katherine and I took a study break from Dead Week to make dozens and dozens of cookies. We used a recipe from Katherine’s mom, who allegedly got it from an Australian family. After, we delivered them to friends, teachers, and neighbors.

Dip shortbread into melted semi-sweet chocolate for an extra-tasty treat.

I’ve never made shortbread, but this recipe was easy and tasty enough, mostly due to copious amounts of BUTTER.

Ingredients (yields 36 cookies):

  • 1 lb plain flour, or about 2 3/4 cup
  • 1 lb butter (4 sticks)
  • 1/2 lb corn starch, or about 1 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 lb icing sugar, or about 1 3/4 cup

You can also vary the amount of ingredients; Katherine’s mom has baked with less butter with successful results.

Mix dry ingredients (flour and corn starch). In a separate bowl, mix together butter and sugar until crumbly. Combine mixtures.

Roll dough into balls and press onto a lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Tip: place a pan with some water on a rack underneath the cookie sheet, to prevent burning the bottoms of the cookie.

Afterward, we dipped the cookies into melted chocolate and put them out on the balcony in the freezing cold to let everything set in. You can also roll the cookies in nuts or sprinkles. Make sure you let the cookies cool first, or they might break when you’re decorating them.

Another tip: use a double boiler so the chocolate won’t burn. You can use an actual double boiler, or an improvised one out of two stacked pots–just make sure the top pot with the chocolate doesn’t touch the water; the chocolate should melt by steam alone. Due to a temporary shortage of pots, I used this “fancy contraption”:

Improvised double boiler: one rice cooker, another smaller rice pot, and a netted strainer.

Enjoy! Beware: this cookie crumbles VERY easily — eat in a safe area!

The Importance of Resting Meat

In by Katherine, The Internets on December 8 at 6:11 pm

Perhaps it’s a bit ironic that as the semi-vegetarian of the apartment, I keep posting about meat, but this Food Lab post from Serious Eats is a gem for omnivores of all degrees.

How many of you, when you cook a steak, are patient enough to let the meat rest before cutting it open?  If you don’t, most of the flavor and juices are probably draining out onto your cutting board.

This travesty can be avoided by allowing your steaks to rest for 10 minutes before cutting them.  This gives the meat a chance to cool enough to reabsorb its juicy goodness.  (“Pish-posh,” you say.  “The loss is negligible, and certainly not worth delaying my dinner.”)

Think again, bucko.  Check out the full post to learn the science behind this over at Serious Eats.  And if all this talk about steak is making you hungry, they’re giving away two prime, dry-aged porterhouse steaks to one lucky reader who comments on their post by 12 noon PST tomorrow.

Nadia’s Carrot Cake Cookies

In by Katherine, Dessert First, Uncategorized on December 7 at 9:52 pm

Check out our new Press section above for a roundup of sites featuring our Periodic Table Cupcakes, including Wired, Serious Eats, and the Huffington Post’s blog.  If you’re new to Foodie Friday, welcome!

These delectable desserts put a spin on a classic favorite — carrot cake cookies with cream cheese icing glaze.

There’s something about cinnamon and brown sugar that is just perfect for wintertime.  These carrot cake cookies, developed by Nadia, get their fluffiness from baking soda, and are studded with nuts and raisins.  The zigzag icing glaze drizzled on top makes these a treat for the eyes as well as the mouth.

Nadia has graciously shared her recipe:

1 1/8 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c grated carrot (approximately 2 large carrots)
1 c walnuts, chopped
1/2 c raisins

1. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
2. Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with a mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy.
3. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
4. Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
5. Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 12-16 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.
6. Cool completely on wire racks.
7. Make cream cheese glaze: Beat 2 oz cream cheese and 1 tbsp unsalted butter until combined. Add 1 c sifted powdered sugar and beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp milk. Beat until smooth. Add more milk if necessary to thin.
8. Spoon glaze into a Ziplock bag and snip off a small hole in the corner. Pipe over cooled cookies and let set. Makes about 2 dozen bit- sized cookies.