Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NO Fry Corn Dog Maker

What, you say? Is this possible?  Apparently so.  Thanks to @mylastbite I found this amazing contraption.  According to the manufactuerer:

Our No Fry Corn Dog Maker doesn't rely on messy frying. You can enjoy healthier and tastier treats by simply preparing your favorite batter, dipping in your food of choice, and baking them in our easy to clean non-stick, countertop snack maker.

Try your hand at corn dogs (veggie, kosher… it doesn't matter), pizza roll cheese sticks, breakfast pancake sausage rolls and even CANDY BARS on a stick! If you can dip it in batter and put it on a stick our new No Fry Corn Dog Maker can take care of the rest!

Great for slumber parties and Sundays in front of the TV catching the game!

Includes 24 sticks and a recipe book with a classic corn dog batter and a corn dog muffin recipe included.

Retails for $24.99, this will make a great Christmas present for your favorite weiner.  You can buy the No-Fry Corn Dog Maker at Perpetual Kid

Monday, December 7, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

Winter is finally here! We are in the midst of a huge winter storm that is expected to bring over 20 inches of precipitation which can mean anywhere from 2-5 feet of snow. I have been holed up in my condo for several days now because it is SO COLD! Like 22˚F with crazy 75 MPH winds.  It is miserable.

Since it is so cold, I've been making really homey and comforting foods.  This butternut squash soup will warm you up and is super easy to make.  It only requires a few ingredients which is good on a day like today when the wind is howling, the snow is falling and going outside can be treacherous.  This soup can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth however the soup will taste much sweeter! It is also a good gluten-free option for those with gluten allergies.

TBC Butternut Squash Soup
makes 4 generous entree portions or 6 appetizer servings

1-3 to 3 1/2 lb. butternut squash
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium sized boiling potato (about 10 oz), peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
Thyme, fresh or dried
Salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line baking sheet with foil. Halve butternut squash lengthwise.  Scoop out and discard seeds. Brush one half with 1 TBSP oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place flesh side down on the lined baking sheet and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Reserve the other butternut squash half for another use like butternut squash risotto.  When baked squash is done, you should be able to pierce the flesh with a paring knife with little resistance.  After the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and reserve.

Put the remaining TBSP oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and some salt and pepper (but not too much because the broth maybe seasoned already). Saute a few more minutes being careful to not burn the garlic.  

Add the broth, potatoes and reserved butternut squash. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender and can be pierced with a paring knife with no resistance.

Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings adding more salt and pepper if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with some cream, chives or croutons if desired.

Song: Baby, It's Cold Outside

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh Snap! Martha says it like it is

Don't mess with Martha!  Last week, Martha went on Nightline to do her first interview since her release from prison in 2004.  When asked about Rachael Ray, this is what Martha had to say:
"Well, to me, she professed that she could -- cannot bake," said Stewart. "She -- just did a new cookbook which is just a re-edit of a lot of her old recipes. She -- and that's not good enough for me. I mean, I really want to write a book that is a unique and lasting thing. Something that will really fulfill a need in someone's library. So, she's different. She's -- she's more of an entertainer than she is, with her bubbly personality, than she is a teacher, like me. That's not what she's professing to be... She does it very differently than I do, she's a totally different kind cook than I am. I don't know if she has a garden, I don't think so, but if she does, she doesn't show that on her show so much."

Nightline then followed up with Rachael Ray, who pretty much agreed with Martha.

"Why would it make me mad?" said Ray. "Her skill set is far beyond mine. That's simply the reality of it. That doesn't mean that what I do isn't important too... I don't consider it needling. I really just think she's being honest. She does have a better skill set than I do when it comes to producing a beautiful, perfect, high-quality meal. I'd rather eat Martha's than mine, too." 

Martha then went on her show today (Monday) and issued a formal apology to Rachael Ray stating:

"there are no bad feelings between us nor have there ever been. I truly believe that Rachael has done a terrific job bringing people — many people who would of never have even stepped into the kitchen or made a dish — to cook."

I myself am not a fan of Rachael Ray (I worship Martha).  Every time she says EVOO or Yum-o, it's like nails on a chalkboard to me.  Absolutely drives me nuts.  But I will have to agree with Martha that she does introduce cooking to many people who would normally never cook.  She really does simplify cooking. Whenever anybody asks me about getting into cooking, I always recommend Rachael Ray's books because all of her recipes are easy to make.  In fact, I think my first cookbook was a Rachael Ray book.

You can watch the Nightline video footage here

Then later at a red carpet event, Martha was asked about Sarah Palin.

"She's very boring to me, very boring. And a very, to me, kind of a dangerous person. I mean, she's dangerous. She speaks, she's, she's so confused. And anyone like that in government is a real problem."

The reporter then asked Martha whether or not she was catching any of the hoopla and publicity surrounding Sarah Palin's new book. In which she replied:

"Oh I wouldn't watch her if you paid me."


Blizzard Dog Ice Cream

There was an article in the NY Times about sixteen year old New Yorker, Christian Liendo. Christian invented an ice cream for dogs.  He came up with the idea for an entrepreneurial competition. Inspired by his afternoons at his grandmother's eating ice cream but not being able to share his delicious treat with her dog, Max, Christian experimented with dog friendly ingredients such as carbo powder, soy milk, lactose free milk. With Max as his taster, Christian soon developed flavors doggies craved! He hopes to sell his doggie ice cream  alongside regular ice cream at ice cream stores. Hopefully sooner than later, Christian.  I know Hank and George would like to try some!

You can read more about Blizzard Dog at the NY Times.

Photo: Robert Stolarick/NY Times 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bacon MMMvelopes -Mailing letters has never been so tasty!

This bacon craze has gone too far. Now there are Bacon Flavored MMMvelopes. From the bacon obsessed peeps at J&D's , makers of Baconnaise and Bacon Salt, now you can get the flavor of bacon when sending your snail mail. These standard 10" envelopes look like bacon and taste like real bacon. It does not contain real bacon so there is no need for refrigeration and your vegetarian friends can enjoy the taste they miss the most. According to Gizmodo "you get the taste of bacon and a deep feeling of emptiness inside yourself." You can buy this great invention at mmmvelopes.com, $6.99 for 25. Also be sure to check out the J&D's website for their other bacon products.

Source: Serious Eats

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade Dog Biscuits

I have been so bored! This lack of weather in my new home is really driving me bonkers. To pass the time in between dog walks on the golf course and Farmville sessions, I have been experimenting with baking in the high altitude (The town of Mammoth Lakes is at an elevation of 7800). For my first experiment I thought I would make dog biscuits because dogs don't care about texture or whether or not the dough has risen properly.

After some Internet research, I found this great website www.bullwrinkle.com. It has a ton of great dog biscuit recipes as well as information and tips about bulldogs and owning dogs. I made the Everyday Dog biscuit and my dogs LOVE them. These dog biscuits are super easy to make and are made with ingredients that are found in any typical pantry. The high altitude didn't affect the recipe too much (I added a little extra of water) and I omitted the garlic because I read somewhere that garlic may not be so great for dogs digestion. Also since I just moved and didn't have any honey I substituted black strap molasses. I've heard of molasses dog treats so I don't think the molasses substitution affected the outcome too much. Hank and George still gobbled up the treats.

Everyday Dog Biscuit
Originally published at www.bullwrinkle.com

2 tsp. dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 TBSP dry parsley
2 TBSP minced garlic (I omitted the garlic)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 TBSP honey ( I used black strap molasses)
1 egg
5-6 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a bowl, dissolve yeast into water. After it foams (about 5 minutes), stir in parsley, garlic (if using), honey, egg and chicken broth. Gradually add flour, stirring to combine until a stiff dough forms. If using a stand mixer, using the dough hook, mix until dough pulls away from the side of the ball, forming a ball on the hook. It should be smooth. If mixing by hand, knead on a floured surface, until smooth. Shape dough into a disk and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.

Using dog bone cutters, make biscuits. Gather scraps, re-roll and cut out more biscuits. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven and turn over. Bake for another 15 minutes. After the biscuits are done baking, transfer all the biscuits to a baking sheet and leave in oven overnight to crisp.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thumbprint Cookies

My neighbor in Costa Mesa gave me two jars of apricot jam she made from her backyard apricot trees. I am a huge fan of the thumbprint cookies with the jam filled centers so I used her apricot jam for my cookie filling. You must try making these cookies. They are far superior to the store bought kind. I used a great recipe from the December 2007 issue of Gourmet magazine. You can find the recipe here at epicurious.com

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
recipe by Gourmet magazine

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
your favorite jam

To make cookie dough:
Whisk together flour and salt. Beat butter and sugar in bowl with electric mixer until light colored and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, add flour in three batches, mixing until dough forms. Divide dough in half and flatten into a disc and chill until firm, at least an hour.

To assemble and bake cookie:
Roll 1 oz (about 1 TBSP) of dough into a ball, then flatten slightly. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of dough. When all the cookies are rolled out, using the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

Place your favorite jam in a pastry bag or a plastic bag with one of the corners snipped off. Pipe enough jam to fill the indentation in each cookie, about 1/8 tsp. I like to refrigerate the cookies for at least another 45 minutes after assembling the cookie to prevent overspreading.

After cookies have chilled, bake in 350˚F oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cookies are baked through and the edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies. These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked but they can be stored for two days in an air tight container.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Corn and Bacon Pasta

I have been a terrible blogger. I apologize. I have actually been cooking up a storm. I have been trying to perfect my pie technique and am proud to say, I am pretty close! But more on pie later. I just recently moved to Mammoth Lakes home of Mammoth Mountain Ski resort. Hopefully I will be working at the Westin Monache Resort but in this economy one cannot put all her chickens in a basket. I am SO bored right now as there is no snow so no work. This is the perfect chance for me to catch up on my blogging. I have so many recipes and pictures backed up from last month!

Because of the big move, money has been kind of tight and I was also trying to use some of the ingredients that wouldn't survive the 5 hour drive to Mammoth. This is another great pantry dinner. It's probably not the healthiest but I love the salty bacon with the sweet corn. It is one of my favorite flavor combinations. This is also one of my go-to-recipes when I don't feel like cooking. With a green salad, this meal is super simple and takes less than 30 minutes!

TBC's Orecchiette with Corn and Bacon
serves a generous 2 portions

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces.
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 TBSP butter
2 ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed or 2 cups frozen corn
8 oz. orecchiette pasta or other short pasta
2 TBSP cream
chives for garnish

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water. Drain and reserve.

Cook bacon in a medium size saute pan over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towel and reserve.

Pour out bacon grease. Add the butter and wait until foam subsides. Add the chopped shallots and cook until translucent. Add the corn and cook until corn starts to make popping noises.

Combine cooked pasta with corn mixture. Add the cream and toss pasta to coat. Divide servings among bowls and add bacon and chives.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Raclette Burgers

So nearly after a month, finally here is post for the much talked about Raclette Burger. I've been kind of lazy about blogging because my food photography is less than par. It's hard to make food look pretty for the camera when you want to eat it right away.

So what is raclette? According to Wikipedia, raclette is a semi-firm salted cheese made from cow's milk originating from mountainous region of Valais in Switzerland (home of the Matterhorn and Lake Geneva). Raclette comes from the French word "racler" which means to scrape. This cheese dates back to the Middle Ages when Swiss cow herders would carry blocks of raclette with them when they would herd their cows to and from the pastures in the mountains. They would place the cheese next to the campfire and when it would reach the perfect softness, scrape it onto some bread or potatoes. Traditionally raclette is served with small potatoes, cornichons (gherkins), pickled onions and dried meats such as prosciutto. Nowadays, raclette is served using an electric table top grill pan that grills the potatoes on top and melts the cheese on the bottom tray. This is how I first encountered raclette. It was at the boyfriend's parent's condo in Mammoth and now, every time we are in Mammoth, we break out the raclette machine. There is something about being in the mountains that makes me crave raclette! But raclette cheese is SO good it shouldn't just be for the mountains which is why I made a hamburger with it!

These hamburgers are AWESOME! I just love raclette cheese with the cornichons. It sounds like a weird flavor combination but trust me, it is the bomb! The hamburger would work well with slices of raclette cheese on top instead of stuffed in the burger. The Amateur Gourmet found pre-sliced raclette which would work perfectly.

If you want to try the real thing and don't want to splurge for a machine, Basilic on Balboa Island has raclette night on the first Tuesday of the month. My friend's parents own the restaurant; her dad is the chef and her mom is the maitre-d. It is a cozy and intimate gem amongst Orange County's overabundance of chains and was named OC's Most Romantic Restaurant by OC Weekly. Be sure to make reservations before dining, especially for raclette night. There are only 9 tables.

TBC Raclette Burgers
makes 3 burgers

1 lb. ground chuck beef 80/20
3 oz. raclette cheese, shredded
Montreal steak seasoning
3 freshly baked hamburger buns
1 bunch of frisee or arugala

for the aioli:
1/4 cup mayonaise
a large spoonful of cornichons, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. cornichon juice


1. To make the cornichon aioli, combine the mayonaise, chopped cornichons and juice, Set aside.

2. Separate the ground chuck into 1/3 lb chunks. To make the patties, take a 4 inch cookie cutter lined with plastic wrap and press half of the 1/3 lb chunk into the cookie cutter. Place 1 oz. of the shredded raclette and then top with other half. Pressed the edges to seal the patties together and lift out of the plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining beef and raclette cheese. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

3. Preheat pan or grill to high. Brush burgers with oil and sprinkle liberally with Montreal Steak seasoning. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.

4. Lightly toast hamburger buns and generously spread with cornichon aioli. Place cooked hamburger and top with frisee or arugala followed by the hamburger bun top.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade bread always beats bread from the store. Last night when I wanted to make hamburgers I opted to go through the tedious process of making my own buns rather than use the store-bought buns, even though they were on sale for 99¢. For once, the at-home method would cost more than buying from the store. But when I glanced at the ingredient list for the store buns, I saw high fructose corn syrup, shortening and crazy 13 lettered words. Forget about it! Homemade was the better, healthier way. After all, the hamburger bun recipe I found in this month's issue of Saveur contain actual real ingredients like milk, flour, sugar and BUTTER! Beats any 99¢ pack of hamburger buns anyday!

I found this recipe from the September issue of Saveur magazine. The recipe makes 12-3 oz. buns. They are light and fluffy with a nice sturdy exterior, perfect for holding any juicy burger and all the toppings. However unlike the store-bought variety, these hamburger buns will go stale the next day, so you better use them up! But they are pretty tasty with just some butter so I'm sure you and your friends will gobble them up. If you happen to have some leftover, throw the extra buns in the food processor to make fresh bread crumbs and freeze them in a bag.

Hamburger Buns from Saveur Magazine

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz)

1 1/3 cups milk heated to 115F

1.5 tsp. + 2 tbsp. sugar

4 cups flour

1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 lightly beaten egg

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

3 tsp. sesame seed

  1. Mix yeast, milk and 1.5 tsp sugar; let foam.
  2. Stir in remaining sugar, flour, salt and egg. Mix with paddle on low speed until dough forms.
  3. Replace paddle with hook and add butter. Knead on medium high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.
  4. Let rest in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 2 hrs.
  5. After bulk fermentation, divide dough into 12 and shape into tight balls about 3 oz each.
  6. Let balls rise in parchment-lined sheets, covered with oiled plastic, for about 1.5 hrs.
  7. Spray tops with water, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake in 400F oven until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mobil Mart Restaurant

I've been in Mammoth Lakes the past week which explains the lack of posts. I did a lot of hiking with my dogs and cooking. In fact, I did a stagiaire at the White Bark restaurant at the Westin Monache Resort. For those of you not versed in culinary lingo, a stagiaire is a fancy French word for a try-out. Basically, you work a shift and the chef sees if he likes you. My friend Dan is the executive chef at the White Bark, so if I can find a place to live, the job is mine. So keep your fingers crossed!

Matt and I went to Yosemite last week since it is only an hour and half from Mammoth. It was actually my first time to Yosemite! From Mammoth Lakes, you take the 395N and then Tioga Pass, Highway 120. When you pull on to the 120 from the 395N there is a Mobil Gas Station. If going to Yosemite, you better stop and get gas there because there is only one other gas station on the 120 and it is about 40 miles away. And if you don't need to get gas you should stop anyways because there is a fabulous restaurant inside.

The Mobil Mart Restaurant is run by Dan's fiancee Denise and her family. The food is not your typical gas station fare. There are fish tacos with a fresh mango salsa, BBQ ribs with a huckleberry BBQ sauce, jambalaya, and grilled pork tenderloin. They even serve beer and wine. Along with the gourmet grub, you can pick up camping and backpacking staples like dehydrated food and goos for your wilderness trek into Yosemite.

The Mobil Mart is only open during the summer months (May-November) so if you are ever in Mammoth Lakes during the summer, I highly recommend you drive north the twenty minutes. The food and the view from the dining area are unbelievable!

The Menu

The dining area

the view of Mono Lake from the dining area

Putting the final touches on the fish tacos

the Fish tacos. One comes with a ginger slaw and the other with the tropical fruit salsa

BBQ Ribs with Huckleberry sauce.
Everybody needs to try huckleberries at least once in their life.
If you can only get it in sauce form, so be it. Huckleberries are DELICIOUS!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cheesy Grits with Coca-Cola Red-Eye Gravy

To continue the theme of pantry cooking, here is the ultimate pantry meal, Cheese Grits with Hot Dogs and Coca-Cola Red Eye Gravy. Actually it sounds like the ultimate white trash meal. I didn't feel like going to the grocery store so I just threw this dinner together. In the South, grits are often served with ham and red-eye gravy for breakfast. Red-eye gravy is traditionally made with black coffee but can be made with Coca-Cola. It sounds totally weird but Coca-Cola is acidic like beer and wine and is great for deglazing and making sauces. I use it in my Pulled Pork recipe. Hamsteaks are usually used for the red-eye gravy but I didn't have any so I just used some sliced up hot dogs. The grits recipe serves 4-6 people (so if serving more than 2 people, double the ingredients for the gravy). I like to make extra grits and put them in a loaf pan, then slice it up and fry it in butter for breakfast the next day. Or maybe pour some chili over it. I use Bob's Red Mill Coarse Ground Cornmeal which can be found in most grocery stores. The Albertson's near my house has it in the "Organic" aisle alongside the gluten-free products. If you can't find the Coarse Ground, the Medium Grind Cornmeal will work, which can be found in the baking aisles of most grocery stores.

TBC Cheesy Grits with Hot Dogs and Coca-Cola Red-Eye Gravy
serves two

2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded
3 hot dogs, sliced
1 TBSP butter
1/2 onion, small diced
1 cup Coca-Cola

Place the milk, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot when whisking. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.

Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, and whisk to combine. Once the butter is melted, gradually whisk in the cheese a little at a time.

While the grits are cooking, start the Red-Eye gravy. In a saute pan, add the butter over medium-heat. When it stops foaming, add the onions and cook until lightly browned. Add the cut up hot dogs and cook until lightly browned. Add the Coca-Cola and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until desired consistency.

Divide grits and hot dogs among two bowls and then ladle gravy on top.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Goat cheese stuffed Turkey Burgers with red pepper apricot relish

So my MacBook malfunctioned again last week! :( It is the 4th time in a year. First I lost all my pictures. A few months later, the DC board went out so I wasn't able to use my laptop unless it was plugged in. In February, my hard drive completely died. It just literally stopped working. And just recently, the computer screen went blank. Luckily I have a good friend who works at Apple and he is able to get my MacBook running, usually with only a little damage to my pocket book. That is what I love about Apple! Had this been a PC, I would probably still be computer-less and dealing with Geek Squad or whoever you deal with when a PC malfunctions. When my computer screen went blank on Tuesday, I simply made an appointment at the Apple Genuis Bar for Thursday (when my friend worked) and my computer was fixed by Sunday. So Thanks Torey and Thanks Apple Genuises at Fashion Island! That explains my Internet absence last week. And now on to better and tastier things!

A while back, Albertson's had some crazy sale on ground turkey. Being budget conscious, I stocked up and froze a couple pounds. After making several dinners, I had a mere 1/2 lb. left. I also had about 2 oz. left of goat cheese from the Beach Blanket Blackout Bingo Birthday Bash. So I made goat cheese stuffed turkey burgers. I had the perfect amount for 2 burgers and a slider. To accompany the burger, I made a roasted red bell pepper and apricot relish from the bell peppers I bought from the Irvine Farmer's Market. The relish recipe is more than enough for the burger recipe. It taste delicious in grilled cheeses and an accompaniment to any BBQ'd or roasted meat.

This meal is a perfect example of how budget cooking can still produce a gourmet meal. I actually had all the ingredients on hand except for the dried apricots. Lucky for me I have a lemon tree. I made my own bread crumbs by toasting a piece of bread and then grinding it in the food processor. Chicken broth, vinegar, Dijon mustard and hot sauce were all in my pantry. Just because you are poor, you don't have to eat poorly!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Red Pepper and Apricot Relish
adapted from Culinary Institute of America Grilling
makes about 2 burgers

1/2 lb. ground turkey,
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
pinch of dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oz goat cheese, sliced into 1/4" medallions
hamburger buns or sandwich bread (I used Trader Joe's Cheddar and Garlic Sourdough Loaf)

For the Relish:
Makes 2 cups

2 roasted red peppers
2 TBSP cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup diced red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2-3 drops hot sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

1. Combine turkey, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, zest, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well. Divide into two or three portions. To make the patties, take a 3 inch cookie cutter lined with plastic wrap and press 1/4 of the turkey mixture into the cookie cutter. Place the goat cheese medallion next and then top with 1/4 turkey mixture. Pressed the edges to seal the patties together and lift out of the plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining turkey mixture and goat cheese. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

2. Preheat pan or grill to high. Brush burgers with oil and cook fro 7-8 minutes on each side.

Red Pepper and Apricot Relish

1. Roast the bell peppers. The easiest and fastest way to do this is by directly placing the bell peppers on the burner and charring the skin. After the skin has blistered and turned black all over, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off under running water. Seed and dice the peppers into 1/2 cubes.

2. Heat oil in medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add apricots, onion, and garlic. Saute until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the diced red bell peppers and broth. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-10 minutes.

3. Add the vinegar, mustard, and hot sauce. Cook until liquid has almost evaporated. Check the seasonings. Chill. The relish should be served at room temperature or chilled.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Blueberries

My friend Caroline is allergic to gluten. For a baker/ pastry chef, this can seem like an obstacle but actually there are plenty of desserts that do not contain gluten: flourless chocolate cakes, macarons, ice cream, just to name a few.

At first I attempted to make a gluten-free cake using Betty Crocker Gluten-Free cake mix. It turned out absolutely disgusting. The cake did not rise properly and had the most terrible texture: similar to a wet sponge. It reminded me of this Vietnamese rice cake we would eat at Chinese New Year but not as tasty. I could not imaging frosting it with chocolate frosting as pictured on the box.

Since the gluten-free cake mix was a total FAIL, I had to make another dessert. Because it was summer, I felt like making something fresh and with fruit. A pavlova was perfect: gluten-free, I had all the ingredients and Caroline loves Australia. The pavlova is the national dessert of Australia.

I found this recipe on Epicurious. It is a great recipe because the entire egg is used in the recipe: the whites for the meringues and the yolks for the curd. Also you don't need to buy superfine sugar. You can just pulse white granulated sugar in the food processor a few times.

To read more about being gluten-free, check out this article in the NY Times: The Expense of Eating With Celiac Disease (Did you know that in England, patients with Celiac disease are actually prescribed gluten-free products? And in Italy, they receive a stipend to purchase gluten-free products? Yet in America where we supposedly have the best health care system in the world...)

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Blueberries

For meringue:

1 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 large egg whites at room temperature 30 minutes
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

For filling:

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups mixed berries


Make meringue:
Preheat oven to 300°F with rack in middle. Trace an approximately 7-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over and put on a baking sheet.

Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Beat whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add water (whites will loosen) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.

Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer).

Gently spread meringue inside circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center (the "crater" is for curd and fruit). Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes (inside will still be marshmallow-like).

Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour.

Make Lemon curd while meringue bakes:
Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, then add lemon juice and butter. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking, then continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup lemon mixture, then whisk into remaining lemon mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened, about 2 minutes (do not let boil). Transfer to a bowl and stir in zest. Chill, surface covered with parchment, until cool, about 1 1/2 hours.

Assemble Pavlova:
Beat heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold 1/4 cup beaten cream into curd to lighten. Spoon lemon curd into meringue and mound berries on top. Serve remaining whipped cream on the side.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Farmer's Market Salad

I picked up some beautiful organic and pesticide free green beans and red bell peppers from the Irvine Farmer's Market this past Saturday. Usually I just saute the green beans with some garlic and butter but on KCRW's Good Food's Farmer's Market segment, Daisy Tamai of Tamai Farms shared her recipe for green bean salad. It is a very simple salad: green beans, bell peppers and red onion marinated with a kicked up Italian dressing. I didn't have bottled Italian dressing on hand so I just made a simple vinaigrette. It's just as easy as buying a bottle but cheaper.

You can listen to Daisy Tamai on KCRW's Good Food here

TBC Green Bean Salad inspired by Daisy Tomai

1 lb of green beans, ends trimmed
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion

For the dressing:

1 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
4 TBSP olive oil
fresh herbs: basil, chives, parsley


Blanch the green beans in boiling water for just a few seconds. Remove and put in ice water. Thinly slice the red bell pepper and red onion. Combine the vegetables into a bowl.

Combine the vinegars, mustard, sugar, and herbs. Whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste. If your vinegars are too acidic, add a little more sugar. The dressing should be a good balance between sweet and tart. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Irvine Farmer's Market

I went to the Irvine Farmer's Market by my alma mater, UC Irvine, for the first time on Saturday. I was super stoked to find such a great farmer's market. The Irvine farmer's market is a good sized market with many different vendors. It is much bigger than the Costa Mesa Farmer's Market at the OC Fairgrounds on Thursday. I live in Costa Mesa, so I occasionally buy my produce from the Costa Mesa Farmer's Market but I am usually disappointed by the limited selection. The Irvine market is at least three times the size with many different vendors offering a huge range of products such as organic and pesticide-free produce, flowers, plants, soap, hand made crafts, freshly baked goods, cage-free eggs, grass fed beef and fresh seafood. And to add to the excitement, there is also a kettle corn and roasted corn booth. Unfortunately, I didn't bring much cash and being on a budget and all,I had to conjure up my will power (which is very weak against kettle corn and roasted corn) and restrain myself from splurging on the delicious corny snacks. I focused instead on the free samples.

One thing I noticed while I was sampling left and right, was the abundance of plums! There were so many varieties to choose from: dinosaur, gold, pink, just to name a few. I tried the sweetest plums but unfortunately I can't remember the name of the farm (what a joke!)but they were so juicy and sweet. In fact, I have three plums waiting for me in the ice box as I type right now.

The Irvine Farmer's Market is on Saturdays 8 A.M - noon at the In N Out shopping center at Campus and Bridge.

For more information about the Costa Mesa Farmer's Market and other Orange County Farmer's Markets, check out the Orange County Farm Bureau.

Don't forget to vote for Hank and George in the Cutest Dog Competition. We could win a million dollars!

Organic and Pesticide-free

Zuchinnis are still in season

Yummy bags of oranges

Fresh asparagus

mmmm....berry shortcake?

They sell fresh pasta!

I think "Super Bitter" would be more appropriate.

Look at all the different grapes

No words are needed

A Japanese pumpkin. The vendor told me it makes a delicious salad

This a Japanese variety of eggplant

More varieties of eggplants

Look at all these potatoes!

Purple beans!

Fresh Figs

Fresh Dates

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kogi BBQ visits Costa Mesa

For those of you living under a rock and not connected to the Internet, Kogi BBQ is the taco truck that elevated the simple roach coach, the convenient lunch choice for time-starved workers, into a gourmet food phenomenon, pretty much revolutionizing the food truck industry.

Kogi BBQ mainly operates in Los Angeles, rarely venturing behind the Orange Curtain due to OC's strict health and food code. However sometimes for special occasions, Kogi is able to swing a permit or borrow a truck with an existing permit, like they did last Saturday (8/15) when they came to the Costa Mesa Holiday Inn on Bristol St.

I had to check it out. I've been dying to try Kogi ever since I heard about it on KCRW's Good Food. I've also been obsessed with taco trucks since 2005 when I worked at Volcom and dreamt about owning my own upscale taco truck. I would talk about it everyday with my co-workers, discussed it with Jamie, the driver of the taco truck that visited Volcom, and developed a menu. My truck was going to be a panini truck offering hot sandwiches, soups and salads. But I lost my job and the taco truck idea went dormant. Then when I heard about Kogi, I was totally kicking myself in the butt. Morale of the story: if you have an idea you are passionate about, run with it. Don't be a wuss like me and never follow through.

So back to the Kogi BBQ. Matt and I arrived at the Holiday Inn at 10:23 after spending the day at Three Arch. The line was about 30 people deep. Despite the long line, I was determined to try it, at least to see what the hype was all about. I had heard about the Kogi line being a scene complete with DJs and turntables. This Saturday night at the Holiday Inn, it was no exception. There was a makeshift dining area set up while the Departed was projected along the side of the hotel.

the line at midnight, still crowded

It took FOREVER! We waited over an hour and half to order. By the time we got to the window, they had run out of almost everything. No burritos, no specials, no chicken, no pork. They only had short rib tacos, tofu tacos, sliders, and the hot dogs. I was super disappointed. I ordered two short rib tacos, sliders and the Kogi dog. "This better be worth the hype," I grumbled as I moved to the next line.

While we waited in line for our food, the workers had already dismantled the dining area, so we would have to take our Kogi to go. That meant the crunchy kimchi would wilt and become soggy during the car ride home. I was even more disheartened. I did not wait this long for soggy, lukewarm food. It was 12:23 AM when we finally we received our items and got back in the car. Two hours of my Saturday night had gone by.

We raced home, hoping our haste would deter the sogginess. Unfortunately the tacos and the hot dog were cold and had to be microwaved, further wilting the kimchi. The sliders were spared the microwave treatment as I was so hungry and grumpy that I didn't care if it was cold.

Short Rib Sliders

And boy were my taste buds in for a flavor explosion. All of a sudden, the two hours I had waited for this glorious mini-burger were a moot point. It was all in service of this delicious slider. I immediately wish I had ordered at least two because I could have easily eaten the single order of two sliders by myself. The sweet short ribs on the soft Hawaiian roll with the crunchy, spicy kimchi and that cream sauce just made my taste buds sing!

Short Rib Taco

The short ribs tacos were good as I was now a fan of the Kogi short rib. But I prefer the Hawaiian roll as the vehicle for delivery of short ribs to my mouth. The hot dog was pretty tasty. I loved how the spicy kimchi cut through the saltiness of the hot dog while the cream sauce cooled and soothed the heat.

Kogi Dog

Almost 1 AM and finally satiated, it was time to call it a night. I was happy to finally try Kogi BBQ. Even though it is definately worth all the hype, I'm not sure if I would wait two hours again. Maybe if they at least had the whole menu available. But then again, I probably still wouldn't wait two hours.
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