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Monday, May 31, 2010

Anthony's and Hotel Del Coronado

The Hotel del Coronado is a pretty neat place to visit.

You can walk around the hotel for cheap (free).

The fish poboy at Anthony's is delish.

mosaic tiles mimic under the sea at Anthony's

Wanda, Fran and Gwynne (aka kitchen wench)

Today I went to Anthony's for fish with my Dad, Wanda and my little sister, Fran (see picture). We had an awesome time. I had the fish poboy which was delicious, the bread was very good quality and the fish is not overly battered. The fries were very crispy. Fran had chicken breast with some type of sauce that looked like piccata and she enjoyed it very much. Hers came with a side salad and she ordered a balsamic vinaigrette that smelled yummy. Dad had a squid sandwich that he was pleased with and Wanda has fried fish and shrimp, with cole slaw that looked tasty.

Afterwards we drove over to Coronado Island, where the three of them used to live for about 5 years. We saw the home they used to live in; it used to be a ranch and now it is more of a modern two story. It is amazing how the architecture of Coronado changes as people buy a home, tear it down and put up something different.

We also went to the Hotel del Coronado and looked in some of the shops (pricey) and it was fun to see how the other half must live. I could get used to this...

When in San Diego, go to Anthony's for fish, and the Hotel del Coronado for cool architecture.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Farmers Market Desserts let fruit, not sugar, be the star. Courtesy of

Farmers Market Desserts’ lets fruit, not sugar, be the star

Hands holding cherries

Photos courtesy of Leo Gong/Chronicle Books

Farmers Market Dessert cookbook cover

Summer fruits from the farmers market are the supermodels of the produce world. Just like Heidi Klum doesn't need makeup to be beautiful, a super-fresh White Lady peach or Seascape strawberry doesn't need extra sweetening or seasoning to shine. But given the right recipe—one designed expressly for fruit and vegetables at their peak ripeness and flavor, not for their wooden supermarket facsimiles—they can really wow your tastebuds.

Just in time for June's bounty of stone fruits and berries comes Farmers' Market Desserts. Author Jennie Schacht and photographer Leo Gong visited dozens of farmers markets as well as farms in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Schacht lives; New York City and the Hudson Valley; Wisconsin; Maui; and elsewhere to compile this visually appetizing collection. Grouped according to the season, the recipes hit all the right dessert notes, from familiar ones like sorbets and tarts to more exotic granitas and parfaits. And it's not all strawberry fields forever—there's a section for in-between seasons, using dried fruits and nuts and even winter vegetables like squash. Suggestions for substitutions abound, and "Farm Journal" boxes share tidbits from farms Schacht visited, such as Weston's Antique Apple Orchard, where a Wisconsin family grows some of the last remaining examples of certain apple varieties.

Grist quizzed Schacht by phone this week about how she got into food writing, why she prefers shopping at farmers markets to Safeway, and why the buzzword "organic" rates hardly a mention in her book. And in case you feel inspired to bake over this holiday weekend, she's also shared her recipes for Strawberries & Cream Cake Roll and Chilled Plum Soup with Sour Cream after the jump.

How do you pronounce your name?

"Shacked," like shacked up. Or "Shaq attack," with a "t" at the end and without the "attack" part.

In addition to writing about food, you also consult for food and hunger nonprofits and government agencies. Which came first? Cookbooks or grant proposals?

My background is actually in social welfare—I am a licensed clinical social worker, though currently on inactive status. I worked in community-based health care, for example running a prenatal care program at a Native American health center. In January 1991, I started Schacht & Associates, which helps nonprofit and public organizations to develop health care programs and get them funded.

Author photoAuthor Jennie SchachtAt some point I realized I had raised around $20 million in grants, and that obviously my third-grade teacher was wrong—I could write! I grew up being told I was a terrible writer. Even my parents, who were extraordinarily supportive, said it wasn't my strong suit.

When I realized I was able to persuade funders to give these groups large amounts of money, I decided to try and do some food writing, which I had always wanted to do. I've always loved to cook. At a young age I'd tackle stuff from Mastering the Art of French Cooking or from the Julia Child TV show. Looking back now, I had a predisposition toward math and science. One of the things I love about baking and pastry are the marriage of art and science. It's creative and artistic, so many scientific principles involved.

So I went to Cornell for a summer and got a certificate in food and beverage management, because I thought it was good to have some academia behind me. I wrote a few food articles, and then one day I went to a chocolate tasting with chef Mary Cech, who developed the pastry program at Greystone [the Culinary Institute of America]. I handed her my business card and said, "If you ever want to do a book, call me." And she did! And that book was The Wine Lover's Dessert Cookbook.

Farmers' Market Desserts is your first solo cookbook, right? Was that hard?

Yes, it's the first I've done entirely myself. It's very touching that Chronicle Books had faith in me, since I don't have a culinary background, no restaurant or catering company as a portfolio of work. I just went to farmers markets and bought stuff and brought it home and thought, "OK, what would be fun to make with this?"

I've always wondered how people create recipes. Do you start with someone else's and then modify it, or make it up "from scratch"?

I have files and files and notebooks of things I've cooked, notes on what I've done so I can make it again if I like it, or a variation to try next time. The recipes I've developed are things that have worked with my own kitchen experiments over the years. Also, I have a very strong mental taste capacity—a flavor imagination. Sometimes I can actually write a recipe on my computer, print it out, and take it into the kitchen and more often than not it works exactly as I imagined it.

Most Americans seem to view cooking as a chore, something to be outsourced. With cookbooks on their way to becoming anachronisms, how can we entice people to make their own ice cream?

Well, I know even people who cook are intimidated by desserts. I had someone tell me that making granita sounded too complicated because you had to open the freezer and scratch it with a fork every 30 minutes or so. And granita is one of the easiest desserts to make, I think. So I tried to have plenty of things in this book that are really simple, like avocado pudding, that would work even for people who are easily intimidated.

A lot of people are just busy and overtaxed, and they do rely on packaged foods. But there seems to be a new and increasing interest in home cooking, as evidenced by the growth in farmers markets, the Edible publications, the Slow Food movement, and backyard gardening. So I am hopeful. I've noticed that when people make something themselves and have the satisfaction of it coming out edible—or better yet, fantastically delicious, better than something in a restaurant—it's sort of self-igniting.

Why the "Farmers' Market" Dessert Cookbook? Why not the "Supermarket" Fruit Dessert Cookbook?

First of all, I just love the farmers market. I love that you can talk to and ask questions of the people who grow the food you're eating. I love that you can see it, touch it, and taste it before you make it. You can try three different kinds of strawberries, and one week one vendor will have the ones you like best and the next week it might be a different one. I love that it's shopping and community.

With cooking, your outcome to a large degree is only as good as your inputs. It depends where you live. If you want to make dessert and the farmers market isn't open, if you have a produce stand with good fresh local produce, use it. But if you buy products that have been flown from somewhere far away, they've likely been picked before they are ripe, or selected for their durability in shipping, and they're just not going to taste as good. If you aren't lucky enough to have a farmers market or a produce stand, then just try to find a reliable source. Even our neighborhood Trader Joe's has organic produce, and it's often local. Ask the produce person in your supermarket if you can taste the fruit. They'll usually let you.

You don't talk much at all about the organic label in your book.

I prefer organic. But when I go up to someone's booth and they say they haven't gotten their certification because they haven't been doing it long enough, or it's too expensive, but they don't spray or use pesticides, then why shouldn't I buy it? Why should they be penalized? I'm more interested in a combination of food that's been grown healthfully, with respect to the environment, that's good tasting, and local. I am not an organic über-alles person.

OK, so what's your secret junk-food weakness?

I don't think I have one! I can honestly say I really don't like processed food. Even when I was growing up, we ate home-cooked food always. We baked our own bread or got it from the local bakery. We used very few packaged products. I don't think I have ever eaten a McDonald's hamburger in my life—I stopped eating meat in college. I eat dark chocolate. And I do like a pretzel. Maybe even the two together.

Strawberries and Cream Cake RollStrawberries and Cream Cake Roll

Strawberries & Cream Cake Roll

From Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht (Chronicle Books, May 2010)

This takeoff on strawberry shortcake is elegant enough for a dinner party and, despite a few construction steps, not at all difficult to make. It can be made several hours or even a day ahead, making it perfect for entertaining.

Makes 8 servings


2 pints (about 4 cups) strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


5 large eggs, separated cold, then left at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Confectioners' sugar, for rolling and finishing

1. To begin the filling, set aside 1 cup of the berries for garnish. Cut the remainder into 1/2-inch-thick slices and toss with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the liqueur (if using). Set aside at room temperature to get acquainted while you prepare the cake batter.

2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF, with a rack near the center. Oil a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet and line with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Oil the mat or parchment.

3. To make the cake, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream, then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the whites hold medium-firm peaks. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, using the mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together the egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes with a standing mixer and a little longer with a handheld mixer. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. On low speed, mix in the flour and salt just until combined.

5. Whisk the whites briefly to bring them back to medium-firm peaks. Using a large spatula or whisk, gently fold one-third of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

6. Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until the top feels dry and springs back when you press it lightly with your finger near the center, about 8 minutes. It should remain pale. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, cover with a tea towel, and let cool for 10 minutes.

7. Run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Using a fine-mesh strainer, dust the top of the cake lightly with confectioners' sugar, re-cover the cake with the towel, and invert a rimless baking sheet on top. Invert the pans together, releasing the cake onto the towel and rimless sheet. Lift off the top pan and peel off the mat or parchment. Let the cake cool completely, 20 to 30 minutes longer.

8. To complete the filling, using a chilled bowl and beaters, whip the cream, crème fraîche, vanilla, and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until the mixture holds firm peaks. Strain the berries, capturing their juices in a bowl, and fold the drained berries into the cream.

9. Cut the berries reserved for garnish in half, from top to tip. Mix them with the reserved berry juices.

10. Position the cake with a long side parallel to the edge of the work surface, and place a serving platter at the opposite long side. Spread the cream filling evenly over the cake, leaving a narrow border on the short sides and a 1-inch border along both long sides.

11. Starting at the long side closest to you, fold the 1-inch border tightly over the filling, then begin to roll, using the towel to help form a compact roll and pulling it out of the way as you go. Then, use the towel to help you transfer the cake, seam-side down, onto the serving platter. Use a thin or serrated sharp knife to trim just a bit from the ends of the cake to create a slight angle (baker's snack!). Refrigerate the cake, tightly covered, until very cold, about 2 hours or up to 1 day.

12. Sift confectioners' sugar over the top, and spoon the reserved berries around the base. Cut the cake with a thin or serrated sharp knife at a slight angle, using a gentle sawing motion.

Season to Taste: In place of the sliced strawberries, use raspberries, olallieberries, or blackberries, coarsely chopped if very large. In the filling, substitute crème de cassis for the Grand Marnier with blackberries, or raspberry liqueur with raspberries.

Farm Journal: If you are accustomed to shopping in a supermarket, you may not know that many strawberry varieties are cultivated, each with its own constellation of size, color, texture, and flavor. Don't discriminate against strawberries because of their size, shape, or color. Instead, follow your nose: fragrant berries are likely to be ripe and flavorful.

Chandler, Diamante, Douglas, Ogallala, Seascape, Sequoia, and Sweet Charlie varieties are particularly flavorful, with the Ogallala combining the floral aroma and flavor of wild strawberries with the larger size of domesticated (or farmed) varieties. Which are available at your market will depend on where you shop, but the farmers' market gives you the perfect chance to taste and discover the sweetest for yourself.

Chlled Plum SoupChilled Plum Soup with Sour CreamChilled Plum Soup with Sour Cream

From Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht (Chronicle Books, May 2010)

One childhood role I had was to re-create my grandmother's best hits for my dad. Plum soup with sour cream, which he called by its Yiddish name, pomella, was one of his favorites. This grown-up version is every bit as satisfying, served in shot glasses as a sort of dessert amuse-bouche, or in bowls accompanied by crisp Hazelnut-Almond Biscotti, Lavender-Walnut Sandies, or Market Jam Gems, made with plum jam if you can find it. The soup is perfect for making in advance because it needs time to chill. If you have leftover soup, take a tip from recipe tester Emily Lichtenstein: freeze it in Popsicle molds for a refreshing plum pop!

Use flavorful, dark flesh plum varieties, such as Santa Rosa or Yummy Rosa, for the soup. The fruit should be quite ripe and soft but not bruised. This recipe is a great way to use up plums about to go over the hill.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 cups water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Few twists of black pepper
2 pounds firm-ripe plums, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 sprig lemon verbena, about 4 inches long (optional)
2 tablespoons crème de cassis or other berry liqueur
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
About 1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving
6 to 8 small sprigs mint or lemon verbena, for garnish

1. Combine the water, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the plums, bring back to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the top, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very soft and falling apart, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon verbena sprig (if using). Let cool for about 20 minutes, tasting occasionally and removing the lemon verbena when its flavor has perfumed the soup to your liking. It should be a delicate background note, not a predominant flavor.

3. Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, standard blender, or food processor. Stir in the crème de cassis and lemon zest and juice. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, about 4 hours or up to 4 days.

4. Ladle the chilled soup into shallow bowls. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a mint sprig.

Season to Taste: Try other stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines, or cherries. Strawberries or blackberries also make a delicious soup, though you may want to strain out the seeds. Omit the cassis or substitute a complementary light-colored liqueur for light-colored fruits.

Trader Joes and hot dog lunch

Dad and I just got back from Trader Joes where we picked up a major haul. We bought:

Cafe pajaro
french baguette
aquila d oro toscano rosso wine
dark chcolate bar x 2
organic baby romaine lettuce
bowtie pasta
tjs tomato basil pasta sauce
puttanesca pasta sauce
organic red cherry tomatoes
hot italian pork sausage
artisan wine salami

All of this for under $40 bones! So tonight it is spaghetti with sausage and the puttanesca sauce and a salad with baby romaine and tomatoes. And red wine.


Before going to Trader Joes we stopped at Costco for the hot dog special, and we requested sourkraut, which my Dad did not know was available. The kitchen wench provides!

Also, we drove past a new restaurant called Tommy Vs and it turns out they are related to the Tomasos people who have Tomasos in Phoenix and Tommy Vs Osteria at the same location on 32nd St. and Camelback. They now have a Tommy Vs in Del Mar and the location that we were near today in Carlsbad is at 2659 Gateway Rd.

Got a copy of their bar menu. They have lobster bisque, seared salmon salad, pancetta wrapped grilled king prawns (mmm sounds tasty), steamed mussels, blackened lamb chops (mmm), crab cakes, shrimp cocktail!

If I have a good work week and make a few bucks, I think we should give Tommy Vs a try. If we go I will tell you all about it and post a picture.

Curry Spiced Lamb Burgers

Curry-Spiced Lamb Burgers from

Time: 20 minutes

1 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into chunks

1 medium (or 1/2 large) onion, peeled and cut into chunks

1 fresh chili, preferably jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Diced mango, green and red pepper, red onion and scallion; and shredded carrot and lettuce, to garnish (optional).

1. If grilling or broiling, heat should be medium-high and rack about 4 inches from fire. Put lamb and onion into a food processor (in batches if your machine is small) and pulse until coarsely ground. Put in a bowl with chili, coriander, cumin and turmeric, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix, handling the meat as little as possible, until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. Handling meat as lightly as possible to avoid compressing it, shape it into 4 or more burgers.

2. To broil or grill, cook about 3 minutes on each side for rare and another minute per side for each increasing stage of doneness. For stovetop, heat a large skillet over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes, then add patties; cook, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes, then rotate them so they brown evenly. Turn once and cook for a total of about 6 minutes for rare.

3. Garnish with diced mango, green and red pepper, red onion and scallion, and with shredded carrot and lettuce.

Yield: 4 burgers.

I am excited to make these. If I make them this week I will post a picture to share.

...Kitchen Wench

Pepper stick pepper grinder ...a cool gadget

Pepper stick is a portable pepper mill. Way cool!

If you have ever been in a restaurant and it takes the waitstaff a long time to bring you the pepper mill, you might consider this gadget. It is a portable pepper mill and it looks like it would fit in my purse.

An excessive, vain puchase, perhaps. But when your delicious Barbara salad from Postino is sitting in front of you, waiting for the pepper mill can be difficult.

Must. Get. Pepper!

Cheap Eats in Carlsbad at...Costco

My Dad reminded me today that there is a Costco here in Carlsbad. Way cool!

They have the hot dog and coke special for $1.50. That is within the modest budget of this kitchen wench.

Also they have pizza, smoothie type drinks and some type of wrap or sandwich.

So, if you are in San Diego area, Costco is a good and inexpensive dining option.

Rubys Diner in Carlsbad

The last time I was in Carlsbad we went to Rubys Diner. It is a great place for turkey sliders. The meat is well cooked, the buns are very tasty and their fries were delish. I remember having a reeses peanut butter cup malt that was very good. Mmm now I am getting hungry.

I am voting for Rubys tonight. Hopefully we are going there for dinner.

Plan B is to go to Trader Joes in Carlsbad just down the street for my Dad. They have great whole wheat pastas and organic pasta sauces. You can buy a bag of lettuce, get some grape tomatoes, make a vinaigrette and you are all set. And I spied a bottle of red wine in the pantry so I know we have something good to drink. And we also have some craft beer, a hefeweisen, that we picked up last night, so there are options.


Ruby's Diner
5630 Paseo Del Norte
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 931-7829

Things to do in San Diego, free or near free

Here in Carlsbad this week visiting my Dad and he gets the local paper which has free or near free events listed. Here are some...courtesy of the San Diego Union Tribune.

I have also posted some good eats recommendations from previous visits.

This coming Friday, I think that is June 4. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is playing at Beach Ampitheater. Start time is sunset. The event is free and the parks department will sell drinks to help money for programs. Oceanside.

Join the intermediate French club on June 1 at Encinitas branch library. 1 pm, 540 Cornish Drive.

Discuss a book at First Wednesday book club. June 2, 7pm, 1250 Carlsbad Village Dr., Georgina Coles Library Community Room. Topic is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This sounds good to me as I am a big fan of the late author.

Intenet basics class, June 2, 2pm at Carlsbad Library Learning Center 3368 Eureka Place.

Knit and stitch class, June 3, 3 to 430 pm at Del Mar Branch Library, 1309 Camino Del Mar.

Four chamber mixer, 4 local chambers of commerce will have a joint mixer on June 8 at 4pm, Tri City Medical Center, 4002 vista Way, Oceanside. If you have a local business in Arizona, go and introduce yourself... and maybe you will make a new client.

Short film screening, June 4, 8pm, Escondido Municipal Gallery, 262 E. Grand Ave. Escondido.

Book sale, June 2, 1 to 7 pm, Rancho Bernado Library, first floor, 17110 Bernardo Center Drive. Rancho Bernardo.

Eveoke Dance Theatre, hip hop moves, June 2, 2 and 7 pm, California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. in Escondido.

Warwicks book shop has author events in June. One that looks interesting is an exclusive tour of International Rescue Committee, June 2, 930am to 130pm. Tour includes transportation and lunch. info at 7812 Girard Avenue. La Jolla.

Harry Brown, a movie with Michael Caine, is playing at Hillcrest Cinema, which is in the family of Landmark Theatres at 3965 5th Avenue, downtown San Diego. My Dad tells me this theatre shows a lot of indie films, akin to Camelview 5 in Phoenix.

Farmers Market from 1 to 5 pm, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Carlsbad.

Some good dining options include the Brigantine in Coronado, since they do delicious fish tacos at happy hour, and their house margarita is pretty tasty. I think they have a location in Del Mar also. I also like Anthonys in San Diego. Their fish and chips are yummy, go to their outside location called Fishette, or you can go inside and order red snapper wish mushroom and artichoke sauce. Their zabliagione, not sure on the spelling, is a sponge cake type dessert with a topping made with a dessert wine, it is a right of passage when you are at Anthonys.

Fun events and good eats. And great weather! Celebrate the wonder that is San Diego.

Date Shakes at Dateland and Thai One On in San Diego

Dateland is a good place to stop and get a snack on your way to San Diego.

A cactus shake left, and a date shake, right. You have to try these!

There is some pretty lighting at Thai One On. My fathers girlfriend Saykham, who is from Laos, says that these lights are made from young coconuts and they are handmade.

Im using the Spanish keyboard again, so incorrect punctuation again...sorry folks.

Im going to learn how to switch it to English today, thanks to the remote and friendly advice from my IT specialist at Clear Skies IT Solutions. is his email address and he comes to your home or business to fix your computer, load software, remove viruses or build you a super fast computer.

When one travels to San Diego via Phoenix, there is often a stop at Dateland involved. Happily this is true, in my case. My travel companion yesterday was Wanda, and we both had shakes at Dateland. She had a date shake and I had a cactus shake. Really! Cactus! It is actually a syrup and not the fruit, but I was told that it is made from the prickly pear and it was very delicious and not too sweet. What a treat and I enjoy trying something new. Cactus!

We arrived in Carlsbad, where my Dad lives, around 6pm and then we went to a local Thai restaurant called Thai One On. We had Larb Neu, which is beef salad. Im not sure if Im spelling this correctly. It is beef prepared with mint, cilantro, fish sauce and im not sure what else. It is served lettuce wrap style at this restaurant, with romanine lettuce, which we promptly devoured and then I asked for cabbage since beef salad is typically served with cabbage and it is one of my favorite vegetables. Delicous salad! Then we also had yellow curry with potatoes and chicken. I am not a huge fan of curry, I guess because Im not a huge fan of coconut but this curry was very mild and tasty. The chicken was very good quality, very lean, and the potatoes were very tender.

The last course was Tom Yum Gai, a hot and sour soup with chicken, mushrooms, lemongrass, cilantro, ginger and im not sure what else. This is one of my favorite soups and is really good if you have a long and hard stressful day, this soup is the cure. It is very calming and earthy, and spicy.

Thai One On is at 485 S. Melrose Dr., Vista, CA. 92081
website is

Get yourself some tasty thai food in Vista at Thai One On and have a date or cactus shake along the way from Dateland.

Happy eating.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tortilla Española

Jason came over for dinner tonight and I made a tortilla Española. He is very funny, intelligent and a lover of fine films, as am I.
I am thankful to have him in my life, as he makes it more joyful.

I digress. My version of this omelet is made with 6 eggs, 2 large baking potatoes, 1 large white onion and olive oil. You can also add a green pepper to this, or spinach, or chorizo.

I microwaved the potatoes for 7 1/2 minutes after poking them with a fork and wrapping them in paper towels.

Then I heated the olive oil and added the onion, in chunks, and the potatoes, cut in large cubes. Everything cooked together under cover on medium for about 5 minutes. Next I added the eggs, let the bottom firm up - about 2 minutes, and then flipped it and gave it another 2 minutes. You will get better at flipping them the more you do them. Don't feel bad if the first time yours comes out funny looking. It will still be delicious!

We had a salad on the side with a simple vinaigrette and some spicy salami from Niccoli's deli. The bread is courtesy of Bluewater Grille. And we enjoyed piquillo peppers, courtesy of Trader Joe's.

Make yourself and your family a Tortilla Española. You will be very pleased with the results.

¡Buen provecho! (Enjoy)

Segals Oasis Grill

I am posting this on a computer that has Spanish punctuation marks programmed into it so I cant use correct punctuation right now...sorry.

Last night I had dinner at Segals Oasis Grill in Phoenix. Delicious food! I had beef kabobs...see the picture. They came with fries, rice or baked potato and I opted for fries. Also you get a soup or a salad with your entree. I had the salad, it was nothing to write home about but the veggies were very fresh, which is not always the case, and it came with grape tomatoes and european cucumbers, which was a nice touch.
Jason ordered fish and chips. He enjoyed them very much. Thankfully for me he did not like his soup so it came to me. I am telling you to get over to Segals and order their vegetable soup, right now! It is tasty and healthy, with cabbage, carrots, broccoli, zucchini and Im not sure what else. It has the right amount of seasoning and not too salty.

Segals menu is quite varied so I highly recommend a visit. You can eat Mexican food, Chinese food, American food or Middle Eastern food. And all of it is kosher, which was important to us last night since my bro and his lovely bride have just converted.

My Mom had a pastrami sandwich on rye that looked yummy and was huge. It came with the same fries that Jason and I had and a coleslaw that she finished, so I know she liked it.

We will be going back to Segals Oasis Grill. I wonder if it is any coincidence that they have Oasis in their name as my favorite Mexican slushie place does as well...Oasis Raspados.

Coincidence...question mark that I cant make on this computer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mock nachos

I am not a cheesy person. I like cheese on pizza and in baked pasta, but that's it. I also like ricotta in cannoli, but that's it, really.

So, today I made mock nachos. Mock nachos for me consist of 1/2 can of pinto beans heated in the micro for 30 seconds, on top of tortilla chips and on the side I had grape tomatoes and sliced jicama.

And this week I was gifted some homemade salsa that has tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, salt and garlic. So I put some of that on top, too.

Sorry there's no photo. I just inhaled it (like a garbage disposal) since I was really hungry.

Lean protein and veggies. A healthy lunch option (minus the tortilla chips since they were fried).

Happy lunching.

Fairytale Brownies - brownie tray sale

These brownies are the cat's meow.

No time to bake brownies? Fairytale Brownies has a 2 pound (2 lb!) tray of brownies on sale for $19.95.

Such a deal!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bavarian -Style Pretzels -

Oh. My. God. I think I may have to make these. I love, love absolutely love soft pretzels.

Bavarian-Style Soft Pretzels (Laugenbrezeln)

Adapted from Zingerman's Bakehouse, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus at least one hour's refrigeration

1 tablespoon barley malt syrup or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons lard or softened unsalted butter

2 tablespoons instant yeast

6 cups (about 30 ounces) bread flour

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Food-grade lye, for dipping (see note)

Coarse sea salt or pretzel salt, for sprinkling (do not substitute kosher salt).

1. In a mixing bowl (or bowl of a mixer), stir together syrup, lard or butter, yeast, 2 cups warm water and half the flour. Add kosher salt and remaining flour and stir just until mixture comes together in a shaggy mass.

2. Turn out onto counter (or attach dough hook to mixer) and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and supple. Cut into 12 pieces and let rest 5 minutes.

3. Roll out each piece into a rope about 22 inches long. (For traditional shape, the ends should be thin and the center fat.) Lift both ends, twist them around each other once, then bring ends back and press them on either side of fat “belly,” at about 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. Then gently spread out “shoulders” of pretzel. Transfer shaped pretzels to an ungreased baking sheet. (Alternatively, form each piece into a round or oval to make laugenbrötchen, rolls.)

4. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

5. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a deep bowl, wearing rubber or latex gloves, make a solution of 1/2 cup lye and 10 cups water (or 1 part lye to 20 parts water); pour lye carefully into water to avoid splashing. Dip each pretzel in solution, turning it over for 10 to 15 seconds, and place back on baking sheet.

6. Sprinkle pretzels with salt. Bake about 15 minutes or until deep brown. Remove to a rack and serve warm.

Yield: 12 pretzels.

Note: Food-grade lye is sold at and the Brooklyn Kitchen, (718) 389-2982.

Segal's Oasis Grill

I have never been to Segal's Oasis Grill before but I will be going tomorrow night with my Mom, Jason and my brother Ken and his family from Fillmore.

Their website says they have American, Chinese, Mexican and Middle Eastern foods.

I am so there! Will post pictures and a review tomorrow or Friday.

Restaurant Hours:
Sunday - Thursday 11am - 8:30pm
Friday 11am - 1:30pm
Shabbat Closed

4818 N. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85014
Just South of Camelback Rd.

Telephone: (602) 285-1515
Fax: (602) 277-5760

Southwest chicken salad - McDonald's

Southwest chicken salad at McDonald's

As a rule I do not go to McDonald's unless I am eating something healthy. In the spirit of full disclosure I did have two fries today. Jason treated and we both had chicken salad (his chicken fried, mine grilled). This salad is really tasty and healthy. It has black beans, corn, a few tortilla strips, carrots, a salad mixture of different lettuces, chicken and lime for squeezing. It comes with a southwest dressing that I'm not in love with so I gave my packet to Jason.

This salad is really delicious. So, if you're at Micky D's and want a healthy option, choose this one.

Urban Cookies

Check out the link above - Urban Cookies in Phoenix is making blackberry cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oasis Raspados

A chamoyada is perfect for life celebrations.

I was celebrating a little today since the air conditioning is fixed now in my car. I should thank the nice folks at LeSueur in Tempe (thank you Jack) for taking such good care of my 98 (new) Beetle. Thanks, guys!!

I digress. I celebrated by getting...a chamoyada (see picture). You didn't even wait for the drum roll, right?

I assume my snacking proclivities are well known by now in this blog, so yes, a chamoyada it was again today.

There were only a handful of people at Oasis today around 2:00 pm. I guess all others were at work or school, which is what I'm getting ready to get back to right now (work).

Get yourself to 32nd. St./McDowell for a fruity, shaved ice concoction from Oasis Raspados.


Right now!

Steak salad from Mark Bittman at

I love a good steak salad. I make mine with romaine lettuce, almonds, dried cranberries and a red wine vinaigrette, using Trader Joes Estate California olive oil, because it is fruity and oh so tasty. And I like using skirt steak. Sear on both sides for 2 minutes each. Let it rest for a couple of minutes and slice it on the bias.

Make yours today.


Here is a version from Mark Bittman...

Yes: Another Steak Salad

Mark Bittman

I like this steak salad thing, which fits into many of my rules at once: You use one steak to serve four people; you use practically every vegetable you can lay your hands on; you keep it completely simple; and you make the thing taste good.

This one actually was not quite as simple as some, because it required sitting around watching baseball while some vegetables were roasting.

In a skillet, I put three bell peppers (two red, one yellow, because that’s what I had), two huge shallots, a few tiny potatoes, and some olive oil. I roasted all of these in the oven at 425 degrees until the peppers collapsed, which took a good 40 minutes. I covered the pan with foil, and, when they were cool, peeled the peppers. I also peeled the shallots and “chopped” them (the quotes because they were so soft at that point that the knife pretty much pureed them), and diced the potatoes (I left their skins on).

Meanwhile, I washed a couple of types of lettuce: butter and romaine (one of my closest friends, discussed in this article on using “loser” lettuces), and then discovered I had, in a burst of enthusiasm after returning from San Francisco, the three key Southeast Asian herbs in my fridge: cilantro, mint, and basil. This determined my choice of dressing.

I cranked the oven up to its maximum. I had a decent sirloin strip, which I threw in a hot cast-iron skillet and immediately put in the oven. I turned it after about four minutes, and declared it done after a total of seven. (It could’ve been a minute too long.) I took it out and let it rest for ten minutes, and while I was waiting made the dressing: peanut oil, rice vinegar, chopped shallot, sesame oil (a teaspoon, maybe), and fish sauce (a tablespoon or so – enough to really taste).

I also washed and chopped a lot of herbs.

I tossed the herbs with the lettuces; I topped the green stuff with the peppers, shallots, and potatoes. I drizzled all of this with the dressing. (Actually, I poured the dressing in there; “drizzling” is not something I do well.) I sliced the steak, and put it on top.

And I fed four people with this, the other three of whom appeared pretty happy. I know I was.

Rhuby basil vodka tonic - from

I wonder if this would work with Gin? Sounds refreshing. I do have basil in the freezer :)

“Rhuby” Basil Vodka Tonic
For the syrup…
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (about three large stalks)
½ cup tightly packed fresh basil
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
juice of one lemon
For the cocktail…
1 oz rhubarb basil syrup
1 oz quality vodka
2 oz Q Tonic
lime for garnish
ice, if desired

1. To make the syrup add chopped rhubarb, basil leaves, sugar and water to a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and rhubarb breaks down to a pulp. Allow to cool, then strain pulp, extracting as much liquid as possible. Set liquid syrup aside.

2. Pour rhubarb basil syrup and Q Tonic into glass. Stir well. Add vodka, stir to mix. Spray juice from a wedge of lime into glass. Stir again. Garnish with lime, a sliver of rhubarb or a basil leaf if desired. Add ice cubes according to preference.

Favorite restaurants - past & present

Does anyone out there remember Navarre's at Uptowne Plaza? My parents took me there a couple of times when I was just a sprout. Recently Jason's Mom was telling me how good their Ceasar salad was (I don't remember it) but I do remember a tasty steak or two. Rumor has it that my aunt dated someone who used to hang out there and was a member of the mafia and he proposed to her but she turned him down...?

I digress.

I was reminiscing to myself today about some of my favorite restaurants here in the Valley, past and present. Past also includes Lunt Avenue Marble Club. Remember that place? They would give the kiddos marbles and they had a drink called "the pot" and it was called so because it was served in a glass type "flower pot" with long straws and it was a fruity/rummy drink so presumably due to the size you could "get potted." Or you could order the drink for one but it was called a "Bahama Mama." What a great place. Their zucchini (fried) and mushrooms were to die for and... their pizza - don't get me started! Actually my Mom's pizza (see prior posts) reminds me of their pizza so I usually get nostalgic for Lunt when I eat it. Lunt had a brief stint about 10 years ago (am I right on that date?) when they opened again inside a resort on 26th St./Camelback (was it Crown Plaza?) but it didn't last long, alas...

Then there is Oscar Taylor's which I believe was originally owned by the same folks as Lunt. They had a "garbage" salad (like a cobb salad) and I say had but I should say have because they are still open (right?) because they opened a new restaurant on Camelback a couple of years ago but I haven't been there. They also had great zucchini muffins and sourdough rolls (I hope I am not making this up but I remember a sourdough bread they had called C-Steele that was sold at Euromarket - now known as AJ's Fine Foods). And I remember in the bar they served a roast beef sandwich that was very tender and yummy. mmmmm

Anyone remember this place? Victoria Station at the old Fish Market Location on Camelback near 16th St. (now known as Bluewater Grille). They had a caboose that you could sit in and I would order shirley temples and my Dad would have a tequila sunrise and we would share a skillet of sauteed mushrooms (mmm they were so yummy) and they had amazing french dip sandwiches and a good salad bar.

*One more - Markgraft's Pharmacy - I might be spelling this wrong. This was a little mom & pop pharmacy on Central/Camelback that also sold gifts and had a soda fountain. I remember the waitresses (sweet ladies) named Peggy and Maria. Maria made tamales every other Wednesday and my Dad would order burnt toast (jokingly) in the mornings when we would have breakfast there before he would whisk me off to school at Madison Park. I would have an old fashioned glazed donut and bottled grape juice. It was heaven. All of the people there were friendly, it was kind of like "Cheers" without the booze. And I don't think anyone missed it. It was a special place. My favorite of all of the above, I think.

Presently some of my favorite places for dining include: Mariscos Playa Hermosa, Julioberto's, Postino on Central, Tokyo Express (the gourmand I am not always - budget, budget), Tommy V's Osteria, NYPD Pizza, Chez Marilyn (my Mom's), Chez Char (my aunt's) and Chez kitchen wench (that's my place). It's always a good thing when one likes one's own cooking.

But when you go out, you don't have to clean up the pots and pans...hence this post.

Happy eating.

*recently I gained a new client who used to work at this pharmacy and she knew all of the same people I did. What a gas!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Meatless Monday - from

Meatless Monday: The Protein Principle (RECIPES, PHOTOS)

Wow, the numbers are startling. Americans consume an astonishing amount of protein. USDA statistics reveal that U.S. men eat as much as 190% of their recommended daily protein allowance, while women eat as much as 160%, the great majority of which comes from saturated-fat heavy meat and meat products.

The Institute of Medicine, the highly regarded non-profit non-governmental organization, comes at the problem from another angle. It recommends that at least 10% but no more than 35% of your total calories come from protein. For an average sized adult, 10% of calories amounts to about 50 grams of protein a day. Unfortunately, most Americans eat twice that much, primarily from meat.

Protein is essential to life; it builds and maintains muscles, bones and skin, and regulates metabolism and digestion. But the question remains, whether you look at it from the perspective of personal health, or environmental degradation, or cost savings, or animal rights, or veggie activism, or whatever else floats your boat: do we really need to eat all that meat?

I went to the top, to the nation's most influential nutritionist, Dr. Marion Nestle, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, to get her take. "All proteins are made up of the same amino acids. ALL. No exceptions," she reasons. "The difference between animal and vegetable proteins is in the content of certain amino acids. If vegetable proteins are mixed, the differences get made up. Even if they aren't mixed, all you need to do to get the right amount of low amino acids is to eat more of that food. There is no 'need' for animal proteins at all."

So, if we don't need animal protein all the time, what other options do we have? It turns out that beans, legumes, whole grains, greens, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein -- plus they offer the added benefit of fiber (not found in meat), vitamins and minerals. Here's some examples of protein found in readily available foods:

Broccoli -- 4 grams in 1 cup
Brown Rice -- 5 grams in 1 cup
Refried beans -- 7 grams in ½ cup
Soymilk -- 7 grams in 1 cup
Peas -- 8 grams in 1 cup
Tofu -- 11 grams in 5 oz
Oat Bran -- 16 grams in 1 cup
Lentils -- 18 grams in 1 cup
Chickpeas -- 18 grams in 1 cup

The key factor, though, is what comes along with the protein. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak is an excellent source of protein -- 38 grams worth. But along for the ride are 44 grams of fat, 16 of them saturated! That's almost three-fourths of the recommended daily intake for saturated fat. The same amount of salmon gives you 34 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat, 4 of them saturated. A cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein, but under 1 gram of fat!

That pretty much tells the story right there. It's what comes along for the ride that we need to play closer attention to. Indeed, if Americans are consuming nearly double their protein need, primarily from meat and meat products with their concomitant high saturated fat levels (not to even get into the hormone-administered meat topic, saved for another post), you can see why the nation is staring down the barrel of an obesity epidemic.

Let me leave you with a few low-fat food combos, followed by some interesting recipes from the Meatless Monday movement, where the idea is to cut back on meat consumption by 15% to limit saturated fat intake and to start the week off right -- and light!

• Hummus and pita
• Rice and beans
• Almost any legume-whole grain pair
• Trail mix
• Low-fat yogurt with granola
• Peanut butter on whole wheat bread or rice cakes
• Lentil soup and a roll
• Vegetarian chili with corn bread
• Tofu-vegetable stir fry over rice or pasta

Arroz con leche - rice pudding - direct from Spain

Rice pudding

Sorry, folks. No measurements on this one. My host mother does this "al ojo" - by sight.


Put milk and rice in a pot and heat it. As you see that the rice is getting bigger (cooking), keep adding milk so that it stays wet, and then when the rice is done you cool it in the refrig and add the sugar. Don't add the sugar before because it will make everything stick to the pot. And then put cinnamon on top.

Que pone en una cazuela la leche con el arroz y según va viendo que el mismo se va engordando va echando leche a medida para que se quede jugoso, y ya casi al final cuando tenga pensado ponerlo a enfriar hecha el azucar. No antes para que no se agarre a la cazuela. Y luego la canela por encima.

Mmmmm. Does that translate?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sour cream coffee cake with...raspberry preserves!

The finished product! I'm going to dust this with powdered sugar.

Melting your butter for 30 seconds in the microwave will speed things up.

Your batter will look like this. And check out the raspberry filling!
Half of your batter goes in, then you add your preserves, nuts,
etc and then you top with rest of batter.

I make this cake at least twice a month. Usually half of it goes to my Mom, I keep 1/4 and 1/4 goes to my aunt. Then sometimes I make one for my friend and IT specialist at Clear Skies IT Solutions, since he provides extra special care for my PC.

1 cup butter (soften in micro for 30 sec)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar (I like Zulka azucar moreno at Food City)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour, unsifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt

Beat butter and sugar together. Add eggs and beat. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat again. Add dry ingredients and beat. Turn out 1/2 mixture into a buttered bundt pan (I just use the leftover butter on the wrapper when I take it out of the micro) and add your filling.
You can use preserves, brown sugar and nuts (coconut works nice too), whatever you fancy. I'm going to use semi sweet chocolate chips the next time I make this for myself.
The top with the rest of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

This cake is great for breakfast with a big latte.

Happy baking!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Citizenship workshop and bonus raspado

The ample menu of frozen goodies at jugos y licuados.

This raspado store and bakery is at 43rd Avenue/Thomas.

My chamoyada (with mango, chili, lime, shaved ice and chamoy).

Some of the questions from our citizenship class.

Today I helped teach at a citizenship workshop with Mano a Mano Unidas, a non-profit organization that is 4 years old. They don't have an office since all of the staff are volunteers, and they don't take any money donations. Today they held their monthly workshop at a clothing store near 43rd Avenue/Thomas. All of the students and staff were very friendly and I am looking forward to going back next month. Their next workshop is on June 19th, venue to be announced. So, if you like helping others and might want to help teach civics, English or fill out the N-400 form for others, please let me know and I will give you more details. It's a good cause!

After teaching I noticed the strip mall we were in houses a raspado (slushie) store. Jugos y licuados. It's on the corner of North west corner of 43rd Avenue and Thomas. There are actually two raspado places I believe, one is part of a bakery, which is the one I went to. In the bakery section I spied delicious pastries and cakes, one of which was a special shape, it had a big
"dip" in the middle as if a section had been taken out but it was very smooth. I think the baker said it for for a baptism. It was unusual, and beautifully decorated.

The person I spoke to behind the counter was very friendly and explained they have two fruits for slushies, mango and tamarind and both are preserved with honey. She let me try a little of each and they are delicious, a bit gelatinous and perfect with shaved ice, chili powder, chamoy and lime (see the finished product). I opted for the mango but I think I will try the tamarind next time.

So, give Jugos y Licuados a try this summer. Your mouth will thank you!

Escarole Soup with Rice - via Thirty bucks a week blog

This looks delicious and economical.

From NY Times via Thirty Bucks a week, another fun food blog:

Recipe: Escarole Soup with Rice Time: About 30 minutes

Time: About 30 minutes

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely minced, plus 4 or 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped onions

4 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about one head)

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water

1/4 cup short-grain white rice, like arborio

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional).

1. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add onions and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 more minutes. Add escarole and cook, tossing gently, until it begins to wilt, about another 3 minutes.

2. Add stock and rice to the pan, bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

3. Meanwhile, put remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet. When oil is hot, add sliced garlic and cook over medium-low heat until it turns golden brown and begins to crisp. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. When rice is cooked through, season soup with salt and pepper, top with a grating of Parmesan and garnish with garlic slivers.

Yield: 4 servings.

Waffle recipe tested at

I read a fun and informative food blog sometimes called Orangette.
They recently tested waffles, and liked this one the best.

If you're too lazy, to make them yourself, go to Overeasy at 40th St./Indian School from 6:30-7:30 am. They have breakfast happy hour and waffles are only $3.00 They are really crispy and yummy.

Or, if you are in Salt Lake City, there is a place downtown that makes Belgian waffles (it is called Bruges or something like that) and fries. They are served with strawberries and creme or chocolate. They have chunks of butter going throughout them and are maybe more dessert fare than breakfast.

Marion Cunningham’s Raised Waffles

From The Breakfast Book

This recipe uses dry yeast, which is often sold as “active dry” yeast. It’s different from instant yeast (often sold as “rapid rise”), so be careful not to confuse the two, even though the packaging often looks similar.

Most waffle recipes work in any kind of waffle maker, but I get the sense that this one is intended for use on a standard (not Belgian) waffle maker. Mine is Belgian-style, and the batter was a bit too thin to really fill it properly. It wasn’t a biggie – they still taste great, and they’re pretty on one side, at least – but just, you know, FYI.

½ cup warm water
1 package (2 ¼ tsp.) dry yeast
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ tsp. baking soda

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. (The batter will rise to double its volume, so keep that in mind when you choose the bowl.) Sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let stand to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour, and beat until well blended and smooth. (Electric beaters do a nice job of this.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it stand overnight at room temperature.

Before cooking the waffles, preheat a waffle maker. Follow your waffle maker’s instruction manual for this, but my guess is that you’ll want to heat it on whatever setting is approximately medium-high. My waffle maker has a heat dial that runs from 1 to 7, and I turned it to 5. My waffle maker is nonstick, so I didn’t grease it, and Marion Cunningham doesn’t call for greasing it, either.

Just before cooking the waffles, add the eggs and baking soda, and stir to mix well. The batter will be very thin. Pour an appropriate amount of batter into your hot waffle maker: this amount will vary from machine to machine, and you should plan to use your first waffle as a test specimen. Cook until golden and crisp.

Yield: depends on the size and configuration of your waffle iron

Friday, May 21, 2010

The finished product - Mom's pizza

Pizza night.

It's a thing of beauty. 100% whole milk mozzarella, bread dough, olives, onions, green peppers, marinara sauce and Italian sweet and hot sausage (precooked).

Thanks Mom for cooking tonight!

Make a pizza with your family. They will thank you.

Happy cooking.

Ranch 99 market and black chickens

Black chickens. Really!

I think this is the baking aisle at Ranch 99 but I'm not positive.
(My Chinese, Lao, Vietnamese, etc. is a little rusty)

Sultana cookies

I am not kidding you. I saw something called a black chicken today (see picture). I'm tempted to go back and buy one, even thought it looks a little odd.

These pictures were taken inside the Ranch 99 market at the Chinese Cultural Center at 44th St./Van Buren. I was there today prospecting for new clients when I remembered the Ranch 99 is a cool place to shop.

To my surprise and happiness, I spied sultana biscuits. Really! I have been looking for these here since I fell in love with them from back in the day when Sunshine stopped making them and then again when I discovered them in New Zealand under the brand name Golden Fruit. Well they are here now, and as far as I can tell them have the same ingredients. And, they are only 99 cents for a package. 99 cents! For joy!

There are all kinds of interesting packaged foods at Ranch 99 market, along with produce you don't see elsewhere, such as teeny tiny bananas (little plantains, I think) and something called Starfruit. Wow, starfruit. That's cool.

They also have a buffet type Chinese food restaurant - it's like a Panda Express setup but the food is a lot better. Very reasonable and it smelled delicious today. I have eaten there before and I would for sure go back. I didn't have time today but I did think about it.

Their fish section is very cool, they have all kinds of live, frozen and fresh seafood. I spied catfish that looked very spritely and other fish I didn't recognize. I believe they will fry a fish for you if you ask them to, this is a good option if you don't want to fry at home either because you don't have a "fry daddy" or you just don't want to smell up your kitchen. I vote for that!

There is so much to take in at Ranch 99. I also picked up some tamarind candy that I am excited to try. They sell all kinds of teas, noodles and they have a bakery section too. I spied some cupcakes that looked very tasty. They also have lots of different types of drinks, coconut waters, yogurt drink, fruit flavored nectars, etc. Oh, and there are Asian liquors and wines. A lot to take in, for sure!

Get yourself to Ranch 99 market, spend an afternoon and get lost in all of their interesting food items.

It's an adventure which includes of all things, black chickens.

Chef Michael Patterson to open community kitchen - San Diego

I recently learned of the community kitchen concept, where the consumer pays what they are able. What a great idea!

Michael Patterson in San Diego is going to open such a kitchen (restaurant). He said today he'll let us know when they open so we can come.

We'll spread the good word.

Cakes for the Gulf coast spill

Passive-aggressive cakes spill onto Gulf coast

BP  oil spill cakeskooksie via Flickr Creative Commons

Some crude feelings about BP's half-baked efforts are starting to wash up in the cake window of New Orleans grocery store Breaux Mart, likely to be followed by a boom in sales.

I wonder how much oil this recipe calls for?

via Cake Wrecks

Chicken with mushrooms

This sounds delicious!! From

Chicken with Mushrooms


-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs), pounded flat and sliced in half

-1 egg

-2 cups Italian breadcrumbs

-4 Tbsp butter

-2 Tbsp olive oil

-16 oz. sliced Cremini mushrooms

-1 1/2 cup chicken broth

-1/2 cup cream

-juice of 1 lemon

-1 tsp capers

-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

-pinch of salt


-Preheat oven to 350

-Cover a cutting board with plastic wrap. Place chicken breasts on top then cover them with another piece of plastic wrap. Using a mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken breasts until they are flat and about doubled in size. Once pounded, slice each breast in half and remove them on a plate.

-Crack an egg into a bowl and beat it. Set the bowl next to the plate with the chicken breasts.

-Pour breadcrumbs onto a plate and set it next to the egg (which is next to the chicken breasts).

-Start the assembly line: get a clean plate ready for coated chicken pieces. Dip one of the pounded chicken pieces in the egg (both sides). Then dip the chicken breast in breadcrumbs until fully coated. Place the breaded chicken on the clean plate. Repeat with each piece of chicken.

-Heat a pan over medium. Melt butter and add olive oil. Let them get hot and bubbling.

-Once hot, cook 2 breaded chicken breasts pieces at a time. You're just browning the breadcrumbs - not cooking the chicken all the way through - so each piece of chicken will only need about 2-3 minutes to cook on each side. Once golden, remove browned chicken pieces to a pyrex or other baking dish. Repeat with all 6 pieces adding butter and/or olive oil as needed.

-Once chicken is done, keep pan on medium heat and add mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring to coat in butter and oil, until soft.

-Add chicken broth and stir to scrape fatty brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let it reduce for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken broth turns dark brown. Add cream, lemon juice and capers. Add salt to taste. Cook for another minute then pour mushrooms and sauce over chicken. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes in the oven.

Aspen Food and Wine Classic with... Mario Batali

Yesssss...the kitchen wench is smitten with
this Italian cook.

How much fun would this be? A good combination, tasty food and good scenery (double entendre intended).

Mario will be at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic this June and will be doing a demo and signing copies of Molto Gusto on Friday June 18th. Visit their website below for a video of Mario and Nancy Silverton preparing Monkfish all diavola at last year's event - and get more information on how to get tickets for this year.
Visit Food & Wine for expert and editor videos including recipe demos and wine tastings from the 2008 Classic in Aspen.

Pizza night! - sausage courtesy of Niccoli's

A variety of yummy Italian meats awaits you at
Niccoli's Italian Grocery.

My Mom is making pizza tonight. Not just any pizza, but sausage pizza. With peppers.


We're getting the sausage (sweet and hot) from Niccoli's deli. These guys have great Italian meats and they also make dinners and sandwiches. And they do catering, for your special event.

6102 N. 16th St. #9
Phoenix, AZ 85016
United States
Tel: (602) 279-5335
Fax: (602) 279-0330

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pasta salad with tomatoes, carrots and guindilla peppers

Jamaica, aka hibiscus flower drink is refreshing in the summer.

pasta salad and chicken vindaloo

I was stumped for lunch today and then I remembered I made a pasta salad last night with tomatoes, carrots and guindilla peppers (Trader Joe's sells them).

It was pretty tasty last night, and marinating overnight, it should be even better today. I used a bit of Trader Joe's California estate olive oil for the dressing, along with a splash of fresh lemon juice (thank you Aunt Char for the lemon) and salt/pepper.

In the freezer today I also spied a chicken vindaloo frozen rice bowl (courtesy of TJ's as well) which I will have a little later. They have lots of rice bowl selections that are tasty and all around fairly substantial.

I'm also making jamaica - hibiscus flower drink (see picture) since I'm out of seltzer water. Lots of folks add sugar to this but I like it au natural. You can get the dried hibiscus in a bag at Mexican supermarkets. I get mine at Food City in the spice section. Or, if you have a Mexico connection - in my case an Hermosillo connection - maybe you can get some brought to you directly (hint hint).

Happy lunching!