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Saturday, October 30, 2010

How to take care of your sweet tooth

My aunt and I were at Costco today so she could do some shopping. She buys chicken breasts in bulk, where I prefer the 4 pack. We may disagree on how to obtain the food, but we are pretty much in tune as far as what we like to eat.

After Costco she took me to lunch at NYPD Pizza at Camelback and 20th Street. She had mussels in red sauce with linguini and I had spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce. We both had a glass of red wine and shared a salad. Their vinaigrette is quite tasty. Char was very pleased with the large portion of mussels and I inhaled the meatballs (just a few strands of spaghetti were left). Afterwards somehow we managed to share a tiramisu. Now this is a good way to take care of a nagging sweet tooth. I could taste the Kahlua and the dessert itself is very creamy but not overly sweet. It is new to their menu, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Speaking of sweets, at Costco we spotted a cannoli kit - I kid you not. It comes with the shells and the filling. It's less than $8.00 and I think the price is right. You get 24 small cannoli so if you are having a party or celebrating at Thanksgiving or Christmas and don't want to bake, this might be a nice option.

My aunt usually makes cannoli at Christmas and she reminded me today that she doesn't want to make them this year since they are so much work. Instead she and I are going to make a big batch of apricot and prune kolochkis (spelling?). The cookie part is like a shortbread that is not too sweet, it also uses cream cheese in the dough and you roll the dough like you would for sugar cookies and then cut them in squares, putting some filling in the middle and then folding opposite sides together to form sort of an envelope. Then after baking you sprinkle them with powdered sugar. You can also use other fillings like raspberry. These are very tasty and quite addictive. I will take pictures when my aunt and I make them before Christmas, and share the recipe with you.

One more thing worth mentioning...I also spied chocolate covered caramel apples today at Costco and they are $5.99. They look enormous and they are a bit less expensive than the ones I have seen elsewhere here in town. Would make a nice hostess gift if someone you love is making you dinner.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jean Reno, steak salad and a beer

Yummy steak salad (pre slicing).

Jean Reno (left) is easy on the eyes.

Tonight over dinner I'm watching the movie Wasabi with Jean Reno. Does anyone else out there think he's hot? I fell in love with him for the first time when I saw The Professional. Talk about a spicy man!

I digress. I had some skirt steak so I decided to make a steak salad for dinner. I used green leaf lettuce, 1/2 of a large tomato, the rest of my candied pecans (need to go to Trader Joe's and get some more) and a handful of dried cranberries. Put a lot of fresh cracked pepper on this salad and cook your steak for just a short time so it is still pink in the middle. Let is rest a few minutes before you slice it so the juices stay inside.

I had this with the same vinaigrette I used for winter salad posted recently. Olive oil, red wine vinegar, kosher salt and a squeeze of dijon mustard.

A tasty salad and a beer with Jean Reno. Life could be worse!

If you like skirt steak, you should head over to the Herb Box (2 locations in Scottsdale) and get the steak sandwich on ciabatta bread with carmelized onions. It is so delicious and I had a business meeting yesterday and was the happy recipient of a free (and tasty) lunch at Herb Box on 69th St./Shea.

They are opening another location soon. They also cater, if you or someone you know needs yummy eats at a party but doesn't have the time to do it.

Alessi store - Phoenix, Grand Reopening

I am the proud owner of a new (gifted) key chain. Whoohoo!

Very cool stemware.

I have this green bunny and orange carrot paper towel holder in my kitchen.
The kitchen wench is styling...

Everyone needs a set of monkeys.

These hanging man jars are so cute and would be
perfect for storing rice, pasta and lentils.

A visit to the Alessi store takes willpower. Must. Not. Buy. Everything. In. This. Amazing. Store.

I went tonight to their grand reopening at Biltmore Fashion Park. I didn't partake of the limoncello the nice young man with the curly moustache offered me, lest it influence my ego - the ego of my wallet, that is.

Color, function, form and whimsy. And elegant. These are the words that come to mind when I think of Alessi.

I have their paper towel holder (with the green bunny and orange carrot) in my kitchen. Now of course after tonight's browsing, there are new items for my bucket list. I mean, if there is a tax refund in my future.

The truth is that I enjoy cooking a lot, I am in the kitchen all the time and it is fun to see something that makes me laugh. Who wouldn't laugh at monkeys and these cute colorful storage jars with the hanging little men? I really want a set of these for pasta, rice and lentils.

Bucket list!

Thanks go out to Rachel for gifting me with a "Jalk" pretty key chain (now I am the proud owner of 2 Alessi items).

If I was getting married in the near future (doubt it), I would register at Alessi. In case anyone out there who is stylish, smart and fun is single... and looking. Haha.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Winter salad with grapes, green leaf lettuce and apples

Winter salad a la kitchen wench.

This is a delicious salad. It will make you feel healthy and full and may give you the illusion that you just ate at Postino's. They make a salad similar to this called the Barbara salad but it has field greens, orange beets, pears, grapes and comes with a side of yummy walnut bread. You can get it with chicken on top, which I like a lot. I also order it with their herb vinaigrette dressing instead of the raspberry vinaigrette (it is too sweet for me). If any of you have figured out how to make an herb vinaigrette, please share your recipe with me.

My version of the Barbara salad has green leaf lettuce, handful of grapes (halved), a small gala apple (cubed), a half handful of dried cranberries and the same amount of candied pecans (these last two courtesy of Trader Joe's).

For this salad I make a mustard vinaigrette with olive oil, red wine vinegar, a pinch of kosher salt and a tiny squeeze of dijon mustard. After a sprinkling of dressing I add an obscene amount of crushed black pepper.

Make this salad for yourself and someone you love (or like). It would go well with baked chicken, a steak, lamb chops or even a pizza.

I have to give my brother Mike partial credit for helping me come up with the idea to make this at home. He eats a lot (A LOT) of greens, mostly kale and spinach and chides me that I do not eat kale raw. I tell him for me it needs moved around in a skillet with olive oil and some shavings of garlic.

I digress. Mike makes a big salad, almost every night, and it will have kale or spinach, grapes, apples and oranges. He does not put a dressing on it. I tease him that he is going to live to be 100 if he keeps eating this way.

Rabbit food rocks!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maindish winter dinner - Sausage/potatoes/soybeans

Yummy Italian sausage with potatoes and soybeans.

This is one of my favorite winter dishes. The juices from the sausage infuse the potatoes and the soybeans so that every day you eat it, it gets better since it's been "marinating."

In my family typically we make this with lima beans, but my aunt had gifted me some frozen soybeans (out of the shell) and also the sausage for that matter. She bought this sausage from Costco since when we went to Defalco's for lunch a few weeks back they didn't have any. We were crushed, but we were still able to buy Parmaggiano-reggiano cheese there (for sprinkling on spaghetti) and have a delicious lunch. You must go to Defalco's on Scottsdale Road and try their prosciutto sandwich. Delish! And ask Joe how the karaoke is treating him at Hazelwood's Bar. It will make him laugh.

I digress. Writing about food experiences always does this to me. I get distracted. A foodie wanderlust, as it were.

In my family we make this dish typically with lima beans. You can also substitute the sausage for chicken (thighs are nice).

For this version I used about 3/4 cup of soybeans and I microwaved them in a little water for 2 minutes. Then I put them in a pie pan (pyrex) along with a huge sliced (1/4" slices) russett potato and coated them in a few splashes of olive oil. Then I put the sausages on top and poked them a few times so the juices could release during cooking.

Cook this for 1 hour at a 400 degree temperature oven. I think the next time I make it I'm going to try cooking it at 415 for 50 minutes and see if I can get the potatoes a bit browner. I'm down with brown.

Happy cooking.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More goodies from Germany

Homemade pretzels. How tasty do these look?

Waffles with chocolate and nuts.

Kiwi flavored bubble gum. My brothers would have liked this when they were little.

A big thank you to Noah (Yecla's son) for the pictures of the chewing gum and waffles. It looks like he may be a golosina too, like yours truly.

According to Yecla, the chewing gum is kiwi flavor (sounds tasty) and the waffles have chocolate and nuts and are good for taking to school - they look portable, which can be a nice thing when you're on the go and still need something yummy.

The pretzels Yecla baked at home. I'm a big fan of pretzels. There is a bakery on Indian School road near 16th St. that makes very good salted pretzels. I'm not sure if they make them every day, but it is worth going to check them out if you're not going to make them at home. Hats off to you Yecla for doing it yourself.

Save one for me please :)

Sweets from Germany

Mmmmm Milka chocolate.

and more chocolate...

Yummy looking German baked goodies...

Delicious looking breads.

My girlfriend Yecla knows that I am a big sweet tooth (in Spanish it is known as golosina), so she sent me some pictures of sweets/pastries/breads from Germany, where she lives.

All I can say now is, how do I sign up?

I love love love all things carbo. Breads and pastries alike. Butter is optional.

I tried Milka chocolate in Spain and I can say it is not overly sweet and very creamy, excellent quality. I think they sell it at Cost Plus here.

I believe Duplo is like Twix here, with wafers and chocolate, but I have not tried it personally. Looks delicious.

I was just telling my Mom that I felt the need to go to Germany recently for a big beer and a sausage sandwich. I could easily go for just the sweets alone.

Just so you can see some of the yummy things that await you on your travels to Germany. Thank you Yecla for sharing a bit of your world there with us here!

Meet me in San Francisco

The view from Cathay House restaurant is remarkable. Chinatown beckons!

The egg rolls were delicious.

An apple bacon donut from Dynamo Donuts.

A pretty cappuccino from same. Almost too much like art to drink.

The Warfield, where Manu Chao sang on October 15.

I hoping to meet Manu Chao in San Francisco. Alas, this did not happen, but I did see him in concert on Friday night at The Warfield on Market Street. What a great venue. I would compare it to our Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix (see picture). It's not a big stadium type venue but more intimate and I had a great view from the balcony of Manu Chao and his band.

What an amazing show! He went on and on, the sound was super and the crowd really participated. I was quite tired at the end from all of the clapping and dancing.

I highly recommend a visit to San Francisco when you can make it happen. Check in advance and maybe a band you like will be playing at The Warfield.

While in San Fran, I visited Dynamo Donuts on Portero Street. The apple bacon donut was quite good, a nice combination of sweet and savory. I also had a cappuccino which as you can see, the barrista is quite an artist. What a neat pattern, I envy her creative talent!

The other place I enjoyed in San Fran was Cathay House restaurant in Chinatown. I went there twice. On day 1 I had lunch which was chow fun noodles with beef. The rice noodles were wide and perfectly cooked. The beef was quite tender and delicious. I attempted to order egg rolls on the same day and my server told me I should come back another day and have them since it would have been too much food. It was a good thing because as it happened the chow fun was so great a portion I was able to take some back later for a snack at the hotel.
On day 2 I came back and had the egg rolls: 2 humongous egg rolls that had pork, shrimp and veggies inside (see picture). Oh, so delicious.

Chinatown is a great place to shop for food, too. There are grocery stores where you can get salted plums (got some), ginger candy (got some of that too) and dried herbs/fish/produce (didn't get any) and tea (got some). I love the idea of learning about how others eat and how the product is cooked. Since my Chinese is rusty, and by rusty I mean non-existent, I had a difficult time communicating with some of the shopkeepers in terms of how do you cook something. I would like to do an exchange program in San Fran with a Chinese family. I wonder if such a thing exists?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Collin Street Bakery fruitcake, dynamo donuts and culinary dropout

I ordered a deluxe fruitcake about a month ago and I've been nibbling on it here and there for breakfast. It's about halfway done, so I might have to order another one before Christmas.

I know, I know. It's a strange relationship. Fruitcake has that reputation of being passed from one family to another but it's something I enjoy so much, especially when it starts cooling off. The fruitcake from Collin Street Bakery (Corsicana TX) is moist and dense, full of fruits and nuts and not too sweet. I slice it very thin and eat about two or three slices with a big latte.

Along with things sweet, I found out recently about Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco, which I hope to visit soon. They have an apple bacon donut. That is all I needed to hear. When I go I will post a picture (or pictures depending on how many I consume) and a review. Did I mention Manu Chao is going to be in San Francisco October 15th (in two days) at The Warfield?

Culinary Dropout is at the Waterfront at Scottsdale Road and Camelback. I went there last week for a late supper after watching one of the flicks at Scottsdale Film Festival at Camelview Theatre. That is such a great theatre. I like it's smallness (5 screens) and that they play indie and foreign films. A good fit for me.

Culinary Dropout has Iberian ham, which I love love love. Salty and savory. They serve it thinly sliced (several slices) with breadsticks and then I had a side of beets in oil/vinegar with a gin and tonic. This was just what I needed, a munching that was not too heavy but all first quality. I finished it off with a latte and went home happy (but not fat haha).

Chocomize - custom chocolate bars

How neat is this? Custom chocolate bars. Yummy.

As it cools off here in Phoenix (our nights and mornings at least), I think about all things chocolate, and earl grey tea. Today I came across a business called Chocomize that makes custom chocolate bars. Really! The picture is from the NY Times website. Chocomize got a writeup in Oprah's magazine and they took off. I think that's cool. Here's the website if you want to check it out.