Thursday, January 31, 2008

Come and see me at the Farmers Market on Sunday!

Here is a picture of me after 3 passes on the 'Death Ride'. I've decided to join Team in Training for another adventure to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I'll be doing more climbing with the Altitude, Climbing and Endurance team. If anyone is interested in joining me for a wonderful bike ride around Lake Tahoe this June we're still recruiting!

Also, I'll be bringing some baked goods and caramels to the La Jolla Farmers Market this Sunday (3rd Feb) for my fund raising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

UPDATE: What a terrible day for weather! We saw a few brave souls but it was a total washout. We raised some money, but not as much as we'd like! We'll be returning on Feb17th to try again for better weather!

If you're feeling really flush you can also donate to my fund raising at my website.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quinoa Curry-Another ugly but tasty supper!

This curry went down very well in our house, and is another of those dishes thats great the next day, which is good now things are busying up again with my culinary classes, and joining a new bike team.

I switched out a lot of things and it was still good. Hubby says he'd like it with sultanas in, which is a bit of a surprise, I guess then it would totally be an old fashioned curry. Maybe I should add chopped bananas on the side like granny used to!

Nutritionally its absolutely fantastic, lots of protein, some complex carbs, lots of veggies and the fat free greek yoghurt to make it creamy is full of calcium.

This made enough for 5 dinners for us.

Vegetable Quinoa Curry adapted from Redbook February 2008
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water with 1 tsp better than bouillon or 2 cups stock
1 head broccoli
1 cup chopped carrots
1 tsp veg oil
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 1/2 tbsp penzeys sweet curry powder
1 baby bok choi
1/2 cup snap peas
2/3 jar roasted red peppers
1 12 oz block roasted marinated tofu
1/2 cup fat free greek yoghurt
handful of chopped cilantro
handful of chopped roasted cashews

Cook quinoa according to packet instructions, adding broccoli and carrots for last 5 mins.

Meanwhile, sautee onions for 2 mins, then add garlic, ginger, curry powder and cook for a further 2 mins. Add bok choi and snap peas, cook for a further 2 minutes, then mix in quinoa mixture, red peppers and tofu. Heat through, then add yoghurt, cashews and cilantro.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lovely Lemon Meringue Pie with the Daring Bakers

This months challenge was interesting, as I'd already settled on a very good recipe for lemon meringue pie. Now that I've made it I know that while my previous pie was magnificent, it wasnt really the authentic LMP that most americans know and love.

This had a nice tasty crust, a zesty lemon filling which was wonderfully tart, and a giant meringue top with plenty of sweeetness to complement the tart lemon.

I found the recipe pretty easy to follow, and quick, apart from the resting, I solved this by making the crust ahead of time. I took it to bookclub and it went down very well and I didnt seem to run into problems with it oozing or not setting like some of the other bakers.

I think one of the important things to make sure of is that you dont overcook the lemon filling once you've added the cornflour.

Lemon Meringue Pie
(from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver)
Daring Bakers Challenge #15: January 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Have your cake-Radio 4

I listened to a lovely play on BBC Radio 4 this weekend, it was a series entitled 'Have your Cake' where each week there is a play about cake. Fantastic idea. Great to listen to while you're baking!
See here for the link to listen to it on your computer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Better Half- a lovely hillcrest secret!

Wow. I heard about the better half in the City Beat review and realised it was our second closest restaurant and just had to check it out on Saturday. We loved it.

We were a little confused by the half bottle concept, they only do wine by the half bottle. I dont think they really need a gimmick to appeal to people, the fact that they have a good selection of half bottles is enough. Having said that, we really enjoyed the fact that we had a nice spy valley pinot with our first course and a wine that our waitress suggested with our second course.

We had a duck consomme for our amuse bouche. Being a non meat eater, I didnt have this but I'm assured it was very good. I was really touched that they brought me a slice of terrine instead.

I enjoyed a delicious beet salad which was an impossibly high stack which I had to topple. My companions devoured the charcouterie, and the uncured bacon belly. All wonderful.

They brought us a mango sorbet in a little cone and much hilarity ensued as we decided we were in lilliput with all the small things. Oh dear, the poor waitress.

We then moved on to the pasta which reminded me of something I'd had at trattoria aqua except much better, a seafood ravioli. We also had the pork scallopini and the duck two ways, and were served brussel sprouts, which were nice to try. All delicious.

Even though we'd had a lot to eat, we managed to share the bread pudding, which was sublime, the sour cherries cut through the sweetness beautifully. The creme brulee was good although it seemed a little overcooked. Maybe a bad day.

I'd highly recommend the place, it was wonderful. Very quiet. I hope they make a go of it, its had at least 4 incarnations in the 2 1/2 years we've been in Hillcrest. I really loved the service, being served amuse bouche, and sorbet, then bread rolls with tongs felt very old school and special.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Comforting 'Cassoulet'

This is one of my favourite wintertime warming recipes. I know its not exactly freezing in San Diego but we do get a little chilly and enjoy some comfort food here too! I found this recipe in my favourite cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites, its healthy, warming, nutritious and delicious.

It also seems like a great entry for Meeta's monthly mingle.

This is called a cassoulet, but I think its quite far removed from a traditional cassoulet. The real version contains copious amounts of meat, but this vegetarian casserole is delicious, if a little misleading. Unfortunately its not the most photogenic meal, but it tastes great to make up for it!

Its a pretty flexible recipe, I dont think you need to be exact with the quantities of veggies. I also put a whole big tin of Trader Joes Marinara sauce in, and I think it would have been just as good with some nice fire roasted tomatoes. I do think it does well with more than 1 cup as was suggested in the recipe. I love the seitan from fatfree vegan kitchen and use it in sandwiches, pizza and all kinds of things but its really great in this.

Be aware that this is quite time consuming, more of a sunday afternoon project than a late night after work!

(Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites)

1 teaspoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced potatoes
1 large tin tomatoes
3/4 cup diced pepperoni seitan (I used this recipe)
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 cups cooked beans (I used some trout beans and 'jumping jack' beans, kidney, canneloni, black beans would all be great
salt and ground black pepper to taste (I didnt add salt as there was plenty in the tomato sauce)

Preheat the oven to 350f

Sautee the onions in the olive oil for 2 mins. Add the garlic, herbs and heat for a further minute, then add the red wine and simmer with the potatoes for 5 mins. Add the celery, carrots, tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients, stir gently until heated through, then transfer to a casserole dish and bake for 45 mins. This can be heated on the stove for a further 10 mins if you dont have time to bake it, although the flavor is better when baked.

California Trip

Well, my family were very sweet and allowed me to indulge myself by trying out lots of amazing restaurants.

In return, I drove Mum and Grandma up to San Francisco via Santa Barbara, Morro Bay and Monterey. They loved every minute!

We started off with a night in Carpinteria and dinner at Zookers Cafe, which hit the spot.

Next day we did the drive up to Morro Bay and enjoyed a great old fashioned fish supper at Dorn's. It was a really big dinner though, too much for Grandma. We realized we'd have to share in future, that worked very well and helped our budget along too!

We enjoyed a wonderfully fresh Mexican meal at Chapala. It was completely empty, but I was so glad we took the advice of the chowhounders and NY times.

It was then time to drive up the coast through the Big Sur to Monterey. We had a wonderful lunch at the Big Sur Bakery. I enjoyed a delicious mushroom soup and mum and grandma had a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. Perfect for the drizzly weather we had come across.

We continued north to Pacific Grove and were lucky enough to find a wonderful little restaurant, the Red House Cafe. They had delicious food, were very accommodating, my only gripe was that I didnt try the delicious looking pecan squares.

The highlight of the following day was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We were glad that we'd put our names down early for lunch as there was quite a wait, with good reason, look at that beautiful view!! The food was really great too. I was greedy with a big plate of fish and chips, grandma was adventurous with abalone, sorbet and salad, as was mum with some calamari.

The next day was new years eve. We booked passionfish in advance and were not disappointed. It was really nice to be able to walk there. The food was excellent and it was a wonderful evening. Grandma had been looking at the sturgeon at great length earlier in the aquarium and had decided it was quite similar to an aircraft with its little white dots. She then decided to eat some for dinner! Mum went with the short ribs which were wonderful, enough for lunch the next day. I loved the lobster ravioli with avocado tempura. If only all restaurants could be a little more discerning in choosing what to serve.

We started up the coast to San Francisco the next day. Not all the restaurants were open, but the hotel recommended Betelnut, which was excellent. The decor was beautiful, the waiters were dressed up really cute, and the food was very good. I was happy with some scallops and a papaya salad. Mum and grandma went for the lettuce leaves with chicken and some duck dish.

The following day was a big foodie day for us. We ate lunch at Cafe Cacao at the Scharffen Berger factory, enjoying a delicious panini and enormous plate of sweet potato fries between the three of us. We then had a tour, which was lots of fun, and free, then enjoyed a beautiful decadent brownie and earl grey tea.

Our evening meal was booked at Sens, it was a wonderful experience, great food, incredible view, lovely atmosphere. The downsides were that the place was really hard to find, and that the food seemed to be a bit over salted. The wonderful desserts from Shauna more than made up for it, the chocolate one in particular was just incredible, layer upon layer of wonderful flavors and textures. I still dream about it now. Mmmm.

The following night we went to Millennium. I haven't eaten meat in 16 years and it is a real pleasure to go somewhere where meat eaters and veggies alike can have a wonderful indulgent meal without feeling they are missing out. It was just as good as I remembered, delicious flavors, wonderful service, nice wine.

We got back on the road down south the next day, worst day possible to travel, sideways rain, high winds, but we made it as far as Paso Robles, which was good, as there are great restaurants and wineries. We ate at Villa Creek and it was fantastic. We had short ribs and a delicious butternut squash enchilada. Mmmm. I'd bought dessert earlier, some delicious cakes from Miette at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kous Kous

We had a lovely dinner in Kous Kous on Saturday and I had to mention it.

The only downside of the evening was that it was jam packed in there, with only one waiter! I always worry about them deciding to call it a day, but it was pleasant, if a little annoying, to see one of our favourites packed!

We always start with the delicious sampler platter. There are a variety of carrots, olives, baba ganouch and other dips to go with warm and comforting toasted pita.

After that, the boys are big fans of the Lamb Tanjia. This is lamb cooked in a clay pot for something like 11 hours, with lemons until it is falling to pieces. They also love the sausages and probably virtually anything with lamb in! I like the salmon and the veggies there, but this time I was stuffed from earlier and decided on the chick pea and lentil soup, which was delicious as usual, and seasonal veggies with pita.

The cous cous is always beautifully cooked, topped with a few raisins and nuts, as you'd hope their namesake would be.

The dessert is always the rose scented creme brulee, a little cliched, but perfect in execution. I'd love to see them branch out a little with the desserts, but maybe everyone is too full of deliciously spiced meats and cous cous for them!

Usually the chef comes out for a long chat but this time he was swamped!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had fun holidays, I got to see my Mum and Grandma for three weeks so I've been too busy for anything other than entertaining really!!

I did take them on a wonderful trip up the coast, staying in Carpinteria, Morro Bay, Monterey, San Francisco and Paso Robles. We had some wonderful food along the way!!