Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

May this frosty ice cream creation from Ice Cream Renaissance wish you a happy new year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Paseo

There are those restaurants that have been on the list forever. You have heard of them, meant to go, planned on going and still never made it. Last week I made a trip to this one happen. It was my birthday and I was going to go. Accompanied by a few friends we headed over to Paseo to brave the line we knew was waiting for us. Paseo is also one of those places where there is always a line, because it is so good, and because their tiny store front only has three or four tiny tables to sit at. We ended up joining other customers in sitting on the curb across the street and it was worth it. I got the Cuban Roast Plato, the Cuban Roast sandwich was ordered by my friends. The sandwich is the most famous one on the menu, but the plato comes with rice, amazing vegetarian black beans, a bright and fresh salad as well as corn on the cob. I could not finish it all, it made an amazing dinner later in the day. The flavors are fresh and balanced, pickled beets, jalapenos and fresh lettuce lighten up the perfectly cooked, well-seasoned meat. I enjoyed by meal immensely, I cannot wait to go back for some more Cuban roast or maybe I will try the scallops or one of the many vegetarian options that show enormous potential. If you are looking for some great Cuban food, or great food in general, make sure to swing by Paseo and don't let the line scare you away, it moves fast and it is worth the wait.
Paseo (Fremont) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Farm Boat


At a party a few weeks ago I found a flier on the fridge for a Farm Boat. It was a very intreguing flyer, I wrote down all of the information in my cell phone and looked it up as soon as I got home. This winter the Farm Boat is operating on Thursdays, not the most convenient day for those in school. But after finals this last Thursday, I made it down to the brand-new South Lake Union park in Seattle to investigate the Farm Boat and I loved it.
The Farm Boat is a farmer's market that is held on the historic and very beautiful, Virginia V, docked in Lake Union. Right now local vendors set up in the boat every Thursday but the organizer that I spoke to is hopeful that in the future they will be able to take a boat around the Puget Sound to pick up local produce and then bring it into Seattle. I would love to see this idea grow. I plan on stopping by the Farm Boat as often as I can.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

As the holiday season settles in, I have attempted to steer my diet towards salads. While, avoiding the word "diet". I don't like the idea of strict diets, and I get scathing looks shot in my direction if I accidentally mention the "salad diet". But really, it is not a diet. It is just a shift toward more salads, more fresh, flavorful, nutrient packed salads. I have found that if I eat a salad a day I feel healthier and I have more energy throughout the day. This is an excellent salad that has great sources of proteins in the chickpeas and the sesame seeds in the tahini. All of the component of hummus are present plus refreshing cilantro, red onion and delicious butternut squash. I served mine over a bed of salad greens and enjoyed this delicious and refreshing meal as a part of my salad-oriented meal plan for the holiday season.

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Orangette, who adapted it from Casa Moro

Yield: 4 servings

For salad:
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.

3. Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.

4. To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Peppermint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

One of my favorite winter treats is a peppermint mocha. Walking through the snow with one sandwiched in between frost chilled hands is pure winter bliss. I also have an absolute weakness for chocolate crinkle cookies, one of my all time favorite holiday cookies. They have a perfect brownie-cookie texture and a deep chocolate flavor. They are rolled in powdered sugar with adds a touch of holiday decadence as well as making the cookies reminiscent of perfect snow topped mountains. These cookies are the perfect holiday treat.

I found this particular chocolate crinkle cookie recipe in a 2008 National Public Radio article on making the perfect chocolate crinkle cookie by utilizing science. The cookies are rolled in plain sugar first, and then the confections' sugar so that the cookie does not soak up to much sugar and more stays on the surface. (Creating that dreamy snow covered appearance). The corn syrup and oil work to prevent crystallization and grease the flour proteins in order to produce a soft gooey chocolate center.

Peppermint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies adapted from NPR

Makes 3 to 5 dozen, depending on size

    1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8.2 oz/232 g) spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons (7 g) baking powder
    ½ teaspoon (3 g) salt
    8 ounces (227 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    2 3/4 cups (19.3 oz/547 g) sugar, divided
    1/3 cup (79 ml) canola oil
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) light corn syrup
    2 large eggs (3.5 oz/99 g)
    1 large egg yolk (0.65 oz/18 g)
    1 teaspoon (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon peppermint extract
    1 cup (4 oz/120 g) confectioner'' sugar

1. In a medium bowl, beat together well the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50 percent power for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for 15 seconds more and stir.

3. In a large bowl beat together 2 1/2 cups (17.5 oz/496 g) of the sugar, the oil, and corn syrup to blend. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla. Then slowly beat in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and beat in slowly

4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F/163 degrees C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

6. Take out about one-quarter of the dough at a time to shape. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 to 2-inch (3.8 to 5 cm) balls. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup (1.8 oz/51 g) granulated sugar into one bowl and the confectioners' sugar in another bowl. Roll each cookie dough ball lightly in granulated sugar first, then very heavily in confectioners' sugar. (By rolling in plain sugar first, the confectioners' sugar does not soak in so much and stays on the surface better.)

7. Arrange cookies 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the foil. For crisp cookies, bake 12 to 14 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sparkling Cranberries


I like to categorize these little cranberries morsels as a "dessert appetizer". They are one of my favorite things to do with cranberries and they are so beautiful to have on a table. I made them for Thanksgiving this year and just to have around during the holidays last year. Yes, they do use an a lot of sugar, but it is a cranberry dish and cranberries need sugar. Plus think of all of the antioxidants, they must counter some of the sugar out ;)

Sparkling Cranberries adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

2 cups cranberries, picked over
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

More sugar for coating

1. Place the cranberries in a medium glass bowl and set aside.

2. Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Let the syrup cool for a couple minutes and then pour it over the cranberries. If the syrup is too hot the cranberries will burst, so be careful. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next day, drain the cranberries and toss them with larger grained sugar until they are well coated. I only use a scoop of sugar at a time, and small batches of cranberries, so the sugar doesn't get too damp. Place the coated cranberries on a baking sheet to dry for a few hours.

4. Do a second toss with the regular granulated sugar, this typically takes care of any sticky spots on the cranberries. Let dry another hour.

Makes 2 cups of sparkling cranberries.