When disaster strikes

Thursday, July 23, 2009
So to reveal what I was going to make with my lemon I'll first provide you with a picture.
Lovely isn't it? Yeah that was what was supposed to be a lemon meringue roulade. So as you can see it didn't exactly turn out the way I would have hoped.

The recipe from baking bites said to use parchment paper, and sadly I didn't own any. By using a silpat sheet to prevent sticking the baking surface was uneven, so I had lots of trouble with trying to have it bake level.


Yeah so with the whole over flow thing I had to keep opening the oven and checking on it and allowing it to shrink back a bit. In the end i really think that screwed up my baking time and then I was left with this...>

And after an excruciatingly painful process of pulling the meringue off of the silpat, I was left with this...
Yeah, I threw it away. That was sad. It was burning on the ends and the middle was completely uncooked, I probably would have poisoned my family if I'd have served them it. Well here is the recipe anyway for those of you who are probably not so cursed in the kitchen as I am.

Lemon meringue roulade
fromBaking Bites
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 15×17-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and lightly grease, making sure to lightly grease the sides of the pan, too.

In a large bowl, prepare the meringue. Beat the egg whites until frothy, then increase mixer speed to high and gradually beat in the salt and sugar, beating until the mixture reaches soft peaks.Stir in lemon zest.

Spread meringue into prepared pan in a thin, even layer.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until meringue is light gold.
Turn meringue out onto a wire rack lined with a clean dish towel. Peel off parchment paper and let cool completely.

De Luca's : A restaurant review.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This restaurant review is the complete opposite of my last diner experience.

Tucked into the crowded streets of the Strip district, De Luca's restaurant is an acclaimed diner that shows no signs of slowing down.

When I walked in, it was exactly as I'd imagined a diner should look. It was buzzing with excitement, and there were no seats available. We weren't in a hurry or anything so the wait didn't bother us. Shortly after we were told there were seats opening in the back, after we saw them we realized we wanted something more in the midst of all the commotion, to get the "real diner experience". When we came back to the front to wait in line again, another couple had showed up. I won't go into too many details but let's just say they didn't give a hoot that we had come in first. Since we walked to the back they considered that getting out of line. Our hostess, who I believe was also the owner, took our side the whole time and kept explaining how we had been there first and therefore the next open table was ours. But my mom and I aren't big scene starters, so using our most disgusted sounding voices we told them that the next table could be theirs. Not a great start to our dining experience but we tried our best to shrug it off.

When we did get our table, quickly after, we were given our menus. Wow. They have an amazing selection. The whole first page is devoted to all your classic breakfasts. Hundreds of combinations are placed before your eyes and they do half the thinking for you. If you're looking for lo-carb or body builer breakfasts, they've got you covered. Omelets, egg burritos and wraps, meats, and seafood, all options for their great breakfast meals.

One the next page, well that's when it gets interesting. You're now faced with their pancakes, waffles, french toast, and crepes. I was completely over whelmed and literally had to calm myself down. A choice of buckwheat or buttermilk pancakes is the least of your worries. Their "fancy toppings & pancakes" include things like apples & cinnamon, blueberry, strawberries & cream, pecan, peanut butter, granola, banana, coconut, chocolate chip, & others. Now, their Heavenly Hotcakes & Waffle Sundaes, are a whole new story. These include combinations like the Funky Monkey which has double chocolate banana hotcakes with vanilla ice cream, bananas, chocolate sauce, & whipped cream. Or the Banana Split with banana hotcakes, vanilla ice cream, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate sauce, nuts, & whipped cream. There are countless others I could list, but I won't. It's time for crepes. They've got your savory breakfast crepe, but then there's the sweet and delicious ones=). Granny's Apple Cinnamon, Banana Pecan, Chocolate Chip Strawberry, & more! Okay enough of that, next page.

Then you've got your soups, sandwiches, and burgers. On back of that, there's wraps, melts, and salads. Then below it is their ultimate soda shoppe. Basically, whatever kind of milkshake, float, or sundae you want, they'll make it, so go crazy.

My mom and I first ordered they banana split hotcakes and cinnabon waffles, but at the last minute we had our order changed. I know, I think it's pretty rude when people go and change their order after its been placed, but thankfully they hadn't started making it yet. And, there was no way we could pass up the cheese blintzes. They were 2 crepes filled with sweet creamy ricotta cheese, dusted with powdered sugar, served with lemon and lingonberries. My goodness was it delicious! The warm ricotta and the delicate crepe are a match made in heaven. Then, you must squeeze lemon juice all over it and add the lingonberry preserves on top for the perfect mouthful! Needless to say, they were gone in 2 seconds. I will say they were pretty small for they price of $6.59. Fine Pamela's, your price was a better bargain. But these were extremely good.

We also got a short stack(2) of pumpkin pancakes. Yummmm!! Honestly, setting aside that they were incredibly pumpkiny, these were just the most perfect pancakes ever. They were just the right size and color of what pancakes should be. But the inside was gorgeous! Moist, soft, fluffy goodness is how I would desribe them. Not rubbery texture or tough inside, and not at all overcooked or undercooked. And of course the pumpkin flavor was dead on, the perfect amount of pumpkin taste, with a delightful whipped cream topping to complete it. These were priced at $3.59 which was really a steal for how good they were.

I will most definitely be returning there as soon as I can. While, we were eating the lady I presumed to be the owner went around to tables and refilled coffee's while engaging in conversation. She was a funny and charming woman who really cared about her customers. There were so many things on the menu I would love to try and hopefully I'll have more opportunities to go there. I strongly suggest you try some breakfast and you won't regret it=).

Pamela's : A restaurant review.

Thursday, July 16, 2009
Okay so I'll try and make this a quick post. But let me tell you, I'm furious so I may end up rambling on and on about my disappointment.

So from time to time I'll hear about different restaurants or maybe pass by them and think that i'd like to try them. Among my list right now are: Sweet Tammy's, Deluca's, The Dor-Stop, Dozen Cupcakes, and a few others. Finally I was able to cross one of my list. Pamela's in the Strip District.

So me and my mom walk in and immediately we like the atmosphere; fun fifties paraphernalia, cute booths, funky lamps. So we sat ourselves like the sign said, and immediately someone came came over and asked us our drinks. The good, quick service was nice. So then we pulled out our menu's and sized them up. Immediately I searched for the pancake section, as they are one of my favorite things to order, like always. I had also heard so much about how Pamela's is one of the best breakfast/pancake places around and I was excited to finally be there. Okay, so they had an all right selection. Your typical strawberry, blueberry, chocolate chip banana (no plain chocolate chip but I guess you could request it), and plain of course. The thing about these pancakes is that they are served crepe-style. Not actual crepes, of course, but they roll them in the same fashion.

After careful consideration, our decisions were made. Although I'm a Pancake Nazi, none of them sounded appetizing to me (not a chocolate fan, strawberries and pancakes are a strange mixture to my palate, and blueberries and I have an off-and-on relationship. I also didn't want to just get plain ones =/.) So I settled on the California French Toast priced at $3.95 for 4 slices, reasonable I suppose. My mom naturally chose the strawberry hotcakes as she pretty much always gets strawberry anything. They were $5.95 for two. Well we assumed maybe they'd be rather big. We also concluded we would share eachother's food.

Within 10 minutes or less we had our food. Or at least one of us did. In front of me was placed an enormous pile of strawberries that probably no one person could even consume the amount in one day. Underneath was what might have been french toast. Immediately I explained how I never asked for strawberries and it was quickly fixed and a new strawberry-free plate was brought back out. But what I saw was not too much better. My California French Toast was described on the menu as, 'home style whole wheat raisin bread, soaked in a vanilla-cinnamon sugar egg batter'. Hmmm... my colorful plate was sadly less cheery with four grey-brown disks placed on it. Smaller than a cake doughnut all around, and about your plain old average bread height, these were not what I was expecting. As I am also I HUGE butter fiend I was hoping to soak them in it. But all I was given was a not quite as large as a ping pong ball, in fact smaller, clump of gross yellowy, borderline call-the-health-inspector-this-color-is-unnatural-and-this-could-be-serious, colored. Okay, so back to the dry poop disks. I didn't even try to eat the edges, on account of I couldn't even cut through them. So one bite to the middle was where I began. The inside was dry and an over-whelming egg taste were my first thoughts. Normally I'm okay with the whole egg taste thingy, 'cause I mean that is what you're soaking the bread in, but what happened to the whole '...soaked in vanilla-cinnamon sugar..."? So I took another bite. Nothing. No flavor. Like seriously, isn't this THE Pamela's. Okay, I put more butter on and looked for a good section to try (that took some searching). Blech. There were raisins, but it was like they were mocking me. When I would taste one my mouth would become very excited that I was about to be eat something sweet. Then when no more sweetness came, (due to the lack of any cinnamon sugar or vanilla flavor) I grew disappointed. My mom tried them as well and became equally displeased. We set those aside for good and moved on to the "hotcakes".

Like I said, I'm not a big fan of strawberries on my pancakes, but I tried anyway. The Strawberry Hotcakes were described as follows, "crepe pancakes stuffed with fresh strawberries, brown sugar, and sour cream". We were served two mediumish sized pancake crepes. There was also a thin little once around ring of whipped cream in the middle. A miniscule amount mind you. Remember: We paid 6 bucks for these. I cut into the middle of one of the rolled pancakes/crepes and looked inside. Boy, was it bursting with strawberries, as well as alot on top. But wait. Where was the brown sugar and sour cream? I check another area. Nada. Oh, do you want to call the 1/4 of a teaspoon sized spread on the bottom the sour cream? Well, call it what you want, but I call it cheap. I'll tell you now that I only had about one and a half bites of that thing. The pancake itself was a bit bland for my taste and the edges were practically inedibly burnt. Also, the filling of the "crepes" didn't even start until you got 1 1/2 inches in from the ends. Kinda lame. Whatever.

Isn't it misleading how that picture on the window makes you think you're going to get a lovely stack of pancakes?

We quickly paid our bill and left. We then spent the next hour or so just ranting about how disgu
sted and disappointed we were. No offense, but what was Obama thinking?

Okay, I'll stop now, though I could go on forever.
More to come in restaurant reviews, though. and then I'll get to tell you about my love of The Original Pancake House!!!

Determination and a surprise.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Usually when I'm looking around for inspiration on my next baked good the same thing happens. I'm always so anxious to make something that I usually don't take into account that I won't have the ingredients I need on hand at that exact moment I'm craving it. I'll see the recipe, think "that's delicious!", and start looking down the ingredients list. It'll be like, "Sugar, check. Flour, check. Eggs, check. Butter, check. [insert random ingredient like cranberries, pecans, dark chocolate, etc.], ... no." Well I grew tired of this time honored tradition. So on my latest sweet tooth blog search craze, I found a really technically challenging, unique dessert. It was something I usually don't have and it also had an interesting construction to it. But, after looking through the ingredients list I was faced with my usual dilemma. Lemon curd. I didn't have lemon curd This time, though, I had a solution.

With an empty day ahead of me I thought, "You know what? I can make that. How hard can it be?" I looked up an easy recipe for making lemon curd and, miracle of miracles, I had all the ingredients I needed. (My mom and I had recently went on a lemon buying spree. Aldi's, real cheap.) So I set off to make it. Oh, and you may be wondering what recipe I've been describing and would need this for. Well that's a secret for now. I'll post it sooner or later, you know once I actually make it. But for now, let's focus on the curd.

Lemon curd
on recipezaar (They give a microwave version and a stove top version. Since I used the stove top method, that's what I'll post)

Serves 18 , 1 1/2 cups

* 3 tablespoons lemon zest
* 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2 to 4 lemons)
* 1 1/2 cups sugar

* 8 tablespoons butter
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten
* 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 Stove top Method:.
2 In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar.
3 Bring just to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes.

4 Add butter and stir until it has melted and combined.
5 Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
6 Beat eggs into cooled lemon mixture until well blended.
7 Return to heat and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats spoon.
8 Remove from heat.
9 Cover and refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Okay, well, I didn't have a lemon zester. Kinda important. So I spent over and HOUR using my lemon peeler thingy, hoping the tiny strips would dissolve when it was heated. My advice, buy a zester if you don't have one and save yourself the trouble!

Waiting for the mixture to cool before I could add the eggs was pretty annoying. I did have a little help from the freezer though=)

Also, I was really concerned that I would make scrambled eggs or something when I began to heat the mixture with the added eggs. Amazingly, I didn't! You have to whisk them in really good though. But once you get to that final stage, it's amazing how your thin liquid starts turning into lemony goop.

In the end, I waited a few hours for it to cool and then tried a bit. YUM-O (as Rachael Ray would say)! The lemon taste really comes through and it tasted exactly like it would in say.. a lemon meringue pie. No, that's not what I'm making, but now you can narrow down your guesses.

On a slightly disappointing note, there were little tiny lemon peel pieces throughout my curd because I was unable to zest. Sigh, but it still tastes incredible.

So what to do with lemon curd. Well here are some ideas of things you could make with lemon curd:
-Use it to make different bar recipes, i.e lemon bars (which are my all time favorite dessert. There are many memories from childhood.)
-It can be a filling for tarts or pies
-Use it as a cake or cupcake topping or spread
-It can basically be used in place of any jam
-Use it in cookies (thumbprints, any cookie with berry fillings, use lemon curd)
-It's a great topper for things like: waffles, pancakes, toast, muffins, scones, whatever
Use this curd! It's genius=)

Still none of these are what I'm going to attempt to make.

Ezekiel Bread

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

So have you heard about ezekiel bread? Well now you have, and you must try it! It's made by Food For Life Baking Co.. They have all kinds of products (bread, english muffins, tortillas, cereal, pasta, buns, etc.) , truthfully, I've only tried the english muffins, but they are extremely good.

Basically, the bread they make is composed of freshly sprouted certified organically grown live grains and contains no flour. The Food For Life breads, made from these sprouted grains, are richer in proteins and vitamins than baked breads with dry grains. Not only does the sprouting process significantly increases the amount of valuable nutrients and vitamins, it also makes the proteins and carbohydrates easier for the body to use. they are just all around much healthier for you. And extremely tasty too. the thing is, you just feel so good about yourself after eating because you know it's actually healthy.

One thing you should know about this bread is that it is not meant to be eaten as your typical sandwich bread or hot dog bun. It is intended as being the integral part of your meal. It's not meant to be the after thought or light enclosure of whatever you're eating. It is a hearty grain which you can accompany with sweet or savory toppings. Personally, I think it's best eaten as an awesome breakfast item with sweet toppings. There's no refined sugar, preservatives, artificial color or flavoring, shortening, or cholesterol. The Food For Life line also accommodates dietary needs by creating special categories which include organic, flourless, sprouted grain, high fiber, wheat-free, gluten-free, low sodium, unsweetened, fruit juice sweetened, dairy-free, low-fat, and yeast-free baked goods.

The company president says the idea of ezekiel bread was inspired by scripture. The verse, included in the title of all their sprouted grain products, is Ezekiel 4:9:
"Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it."

IMPORTANT: All of the products are meant to be kept frozen. With live active grains you want it to be fresh when it's time to eat it.

I would describe the taste of the regular english muffins as having a hearty, slightly sour doughy taste. Personally, I think they are best when popped in the toaster, or even in the oven if you'd like. The key is to not microwave them or else you lose almost all the nutrients and vitamins intended. For your first experience with this bread, I would toast it and lather it in butter, jams/jellies, or peanut butter. I think having it plain comes as an acquired taste, especially if you don't toast it. Of course, since you are storing them in the freezer, they'd need to be kept out a while to thaw, which I never have much patience for. So usually I'll pull one out of the freezer, put it in the oven for a few minutes to thaw it, then slice it and pop it in the toaster. My favorite topping would have to be putting first a layer of butter on, then adding some pumpkin butter or strawberry or blackberry jam over that.

So next time you're in the freezer section of the grocery store, look for these awesome products and you won't be disappointed.

Not your mother's meatloaf

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
So we had a ton of ground beef in our fridge and after a few thoughts of what to make with it, I found a recipe for spicy meatloaf in a book called "Nourishing Traditions". Meatloaf had such a connotation for being some slop thrown together in a pan, but I find it really satisfying. And with the spicy twist on it, I was intrigued.

Also, if you have the time and really enjoy learning about REAL food and what's wrong with American thinking on food today, then you'll like this book. It comes loaded with recipes and all kinds of side stories and facts with the truth about food.

Here is a problem I ran into when trying this recipe, as I always have problems when trying just about anything. I misread the recipe and decided to use plain dry bread crumbs thinking they would suffice, but when given time to soak, they didn't work out so well. You're supposed to soak them in 1 cup of cream, but if I'd have used real bread crumbs I think they would have absorbed the liquid much better. Instead, what I got was hard clumps of crumbs and a bunch of dry crumbs untouched by liquid. Although I was minorly set back, I decided to keep going hoping liquid from other places would make up for it. So throughout the mixing process I tried to smoosh as many large clumps as I could without making too much work for myself. So there were clumps throughout the meat but, I actually loved those parts in the end. While you're eating it, you get a taste of meatloaf along with what tasted like Thanksgiving stuffing, so it was interesting and very good.

One thing I need to note, though, is the spicy aspect of the recipe. Yeah you're putting chili powder, thyme, and a good amount of pepper in, but it's really not at all overwhelming. In fact I thought it was a subtle undertone just giving your average meatloaf a slight variation. Unfortunately, one member of my family, *cough cough* my dad *cough cough*, went into dramatics about how spicy he found it to be. Do not take his word for it. He is a pretty picky eater when it comes to anything I make. And the fact that it came from a health food book, made it all the worse.

I thought this was a fairly simple and straight forward recipe and you get fantastic results. You can make it, put it in the oven, and walk away for a while, and then it will be all ready for you to eat. My only issue is I always second guess myself throughout the cooking process. I liked how instead of your traditional meatloaf pan shape, this recipe calls for a 9 x 13 dish. That gives your more surface area for spreading the ketchup, which is nice.

Spicy Meatloaf
from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon

serves 8??

2 pounds ground beef or other red meat
1/2 pound ground heart, optional (yeah I don't know where you'd get that)
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes (I used chili powder)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole grain bread crumbs
1 cup cream (I used whipping cream)
1 egg
1 tablespoon fish sauce, optional (I didn't have it)
4 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup

Saute onions, carrots, and celery in butter until soft.

(^This tasted so good!)

Add chili flakes, thyme, pepper, and salt and stir around. Meanwhile, soak bread crumbs in cream.
Have a 9-inch by 13-inch pyrex pan ready. Using your hands, mix meat with sauteed vegetables, soaked bread, egg, and optional fish sauce. Form into a loaf and set in pan. Ice with ketchup or tomato paste. Add about 1 cup of water to the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.

I liked a bit more ketchup than they suggested. You can also serve it with mashed potatoes or a vegetable to complete your meal.