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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

O Chamé

I'm in a book club, a very democratic book club. Collectively, we nominate and vote on a book. Collectively, we decide on a date and time to meet. And collectively, we decided that a restaurant where we held a recent meeting, O Chamé, was well, just okay.

One of my favorite things about our book club is the book/meeting location match up. We discussed
The Kite Runner over Afghani food and our Seabiscuit meeting took place at the race track. Much of this thougtfulness is due our excellent leaders, including Lisa,
a fellow foodie (check out her blog here.) So since this book takes place in Japan, this Japanese fusion (or so says Yelp) restaurant was a great choice.

I did some preliminary homework (on the restaurant, not the book). Countless Yelpers touted their extraordinary udon. Tempura udon is a favorite of mine, and I ordered it looking forward to the hot, chewy noodles with bits of fried batter, shrimp and vegetables all bathed in a rich savory broth. But when it came to the table I was a little underwhelmed (especially since it's $15.50 a bowl). While the noodles were a soft, slippery perfection, the broth lacked its usual depth and subtle seafood-y flavor. And the shrimp tempura looked lonely among a tangle of seaweed, which while giving the dish texture, did nothing to add to the lackluster flavor.

Another Yelp favorite was the scallion pancakes, which were decent, but had an eggy heaviness, and the caramel balsamic gelato, which we tried but gave a collective thumbs down (6 to 2, against). I'm a fan of salty/sweet (I dream about
Bi-Rite's Salted Caramel) but the sour/sweet combo, which someone compared to sour cherries, just didn't do it for me. Other people enjoyed their bento boxes which came with nicely cooked (albeit small) portions of unagi, sturgeon and tonkatsu.

After they took our bowls away we noticed a small jar of shichimi, a seasoned chili powder, intended for the udon. But honestly, I don't think it would have helped all that much. What a disappointment, especially after reading it was one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the Bay Area. Maybe it was an off day? It certainly was a lovely restaurant in a lovely neighborhood. In the end, Lisa summed it up by saying it was "a little food for a big price." Still, I'm willing to give it another try.

* Special Mention: We did however, all enjoy the book, The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz, which is about a common woman who becomes the crown princess and eventual empress of Japan. All 8 thumbs up on that one - you should check it out!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crunchy Lemon Squares

makes approximately 9 3" Squares
recipe adapted from Eagle Brand (Canada)
prep time: 10 min / cook time: 25-30 min

1 c quick oats, uncooked
1 c flour
1/2 c flaked coconuts
* I used 1 1/3 c coconuts
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts
* I omitted the chopped walnuts
1/2 c firmly-packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c butter, melted
* I used 3/4 c butter

1 can regular/low fat sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Combine all crust ingredients.
• Pat 1/2 crumb mixture evenly on bottom of 9x9" parchment-lined baking pan.
Reserve other half.
In medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Pour mixture onto crumb layer.
Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool throughly and cut into squares.
* I baked it for 35-40 minutes to get a crunchier and browner top.

• You can line the baking pan with foil instead of parchment paper. Spray the
foil with spray so the lemon layer does not stick.
• Refrigerating and let harden for easy cutting.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

DIY Pizza Party

Avocado & pineapple. Mushroom with pesto. A Meat-za. The best part about a
Do-It-Yourself pizza party is getting to taste everyone's brilliant creations. It was such a
great idea! Our lovely hosts provided avariety of doughs, and we brought the fixins' which
included everything from artichokes and BBQ sauce to jalapenos and bacon.

Our friend Sharkie (who will now be known by his new foodie name-Sharkie Fin Soup!)
got really creative. He took the flavors of a Japadog, a popular Vancouver, BC street food
item and made them sing on a pizza. It was one of the favorites of the night: a layer of
okonomiyaki sauce (which is like a thicker, sweeter Worcestershire sauce) topped with
chicken sausage and grilled onions, with creamy Japanese mayo, nori slivers and more
sauce drizzled on top. It was savory, spiced (from the sausage) and a tiny bit sweet all
at the same time.

I took inspiration from a delicious and ingenious dessert pizza that I had once
(and keep
thinking about) at Gialina. And while it wasn't an exact replica, it came pretty darn close!
The warm, straight out of the oven crust was slathered with gooey Nutella and sweetened
marscapone, and sprinkled with crunchy, almond-y amaretti bits. It was a great
combo - the rich chocolateyness of the Nutella, creamy butteryness of the marscapone
and yummy nuttiness of the amaretti all atop soft, chewy dough.

So here's how we did it:

Trader Joe's pizza dough
Chicken garlic apple sausage
Grilled onions
Nori (seaweed)

Kewpie mayonnaise
Okonomiyaki sauce

Roll out pizza dough per package instructions.
Cook pizza on pizza stone according to package.
Spread a layer of okonomiyaki sauce over bottom.
Top with sausage and onions and cook in the oven per package instructions.
Remove from oven and top with nori and, mayo and more okonomiyaki sauce.

Trader Joe's pizza dough
6 1/2 oz. of
Nutella, approximately half a jar
1 tbs honey

8-10 amaretti cookies, crumbled
8 oz. marscapone cheese, approximately half a tub

Roll out pizza dough per package instructions.

Cook pizza on pizza stone according to package.
Meanwhile, sweeten marscapone with honey.
Remove pizza from oven and spread Nutella over it.
Dollop with marscapone.
Sprinkle amaretti bits over top.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mini Meyer Lemon Vanilla Buttercream Cupcakes

makes 42 regular cupcakes or 130 mini cupcakes
cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (page 121)
buttercream recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
prep time: 1 hr 30 min / cook time: 12-14 min

* these are denser than cupcakes, more like tea cakes
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
* I omitted the salt
1 3/4 c (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* I used salted butter
3 c granulated sugar
8 oz. (1 brick) cream cheese, room temperature
7 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 Meyer lemons)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

* I doubled this recipe for the lemon cupcakes
2 c (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
3 1/2 c confectioners' sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
* I opted not to use the vanilla bean
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 c milk


• Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
• Line muffin ins with paper liners.
• Whisk together flour, zest, baking powder and salt.
• With an electric mixture on medium-high speed, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy.
• Beat in cream cheese. Reduce speed to low.
• Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
• Beat in lemon juice and vanilla.
• Add flour mixture in three batches, beating until just combined after each.
• Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.
* I did not want a domed top, so I filled mines half full.
• Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 28 minutes.
* For mini cupcakes, it will take 12-14 minutes.
• Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

• In the bowl of an electric mixure fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter
until creamy.
• Slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat to combine, scraping down sides of
bowl as necessary.
• Add vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract, and beat to combine.
• Slowly add milk and continue beating on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.

• Create a template, place on cookie sheet and place wax paper over it.
• In microwave-safe container or disposable decorating bag, microwave candy melts at half power or defrost setting for 1 minute. Stir thoroughly.
• Continue to microwave and stir at 30 second intervals until smooth and completely melted. If using disposable decorating bag, knead bag between heating intervals.
• If using microwave-safe container, pour into a decorating bag, snip off end and draw shapes over wax paper.
* Chocolate can be re-melted and reused.
• Put cookie sheet with chocolate shapes in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.

Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Chocolate shapes can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

• Cutting the cupcake recipe in half seems to give you dry cupcakes, but I have
no idea why.
• Do not make buttercream frosting the day before to save time. You will need to re-whip the frosting and it will not be as smooth.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Posting Schedule

Hi there!

To help keep us consistent, we're trying out a new posting schedule:

Addiecakes (Cooking/baking recipes)

Samiwich (Restaurant reviews and recipes, when successful)

Oh, and we have a new email address if you want send us a note: Let us know if there's any new recipes or restaurants we have to try!

If you'd like to receive automatic updates, please subscribe to our blog.

We're really excited about the blog and look forward to sharing all of our food adventures! Thanks for reading!

Sam's ChowderMobile

I have to admit, I first signed up for Twitter just to follow the food carts/trucks that have found a huge following here in the Bay Area. So I was happy to learn that Half Moon Bay's Sam's Chowder House had a mobile version, and even happier when they rolled up at lunchtime near my work last week.

$15 is a lot for a sandwich! But I had to try their famous lobster roll, which was voted one of the
Top 5 Sandwiches in America by The Today Show (I'm an easy sell).

I've spent most of my life wondering what a lobster roll would be like. Growing up in virtually lobster roll-less Northern CA, the mention of a "lobster roll" conjured images of New England, lighthouses, windswept beaches where people went to "summer" and capes (not the wearing kind). In other words, I had no real point of reference and wasn't sure what to expect.

Well, this was like the
lobster roll of my dreams. It was bursting with sweet, luscious hunks of tender buttery lobster on an equally luscious and buttery roll. No filler, like onions or mayo or celery here. Just bite after bite of sumptuous meat. And the roll seemed to be specially made to compliment its delicious contents, sweet almost brioche-like, and soft but with a sturdy, toasty exterior. I always thought they came in regular hot dog buns.

It tasted of summer and of the sea. A tad indulgent, totally satifying, a real treat. A few minutes later I was back at my desk, ready to get back to work. But not before making a mental note to next time try
Sam's namesake chowder, fish and chips and calamari. It's nice to have something to look forward to, right?


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fruit Puff Pastry Tart

serves 6
recipe adapted from Luscious Berry Desserts (page 49)
total prep time: 1 hr / cook time: 25 min

1 sheet (about 8 oz.) frozen puff pastry, thawed according to the package directions
* I used the entire package (2 sheets), making one 1 large tart and 2 mini tarts
3 tbsp water
1 large egg yolk

2 large egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 c whole milk
1 1/2 tsp pur vanilla paste or vanilla extract
* I added 1 scraped vanilla bean

1/4 c strawberry jam
1 tbsp water

1 kiwi
1 basket raspberries
1 basket blueberries
1 basket strawberries, hulled

• Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper.
• On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to 1/8" thickness. Using a ruler
and a sharp knife, trim the edges to make a 10" square. Transfer pastry to baking sheet.
• Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut a 1" border around the square.
• Whisk together the water and egg yolk in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg wash
over puff pastry.
• Cut four 1" wide strips to fit around the border of the pastry. Place strips around the
outer edge and lightly press into pastry. Lightly brush the egg wash over the strips.
• Prick the base of the tart shell with a fork.
• Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
• Bake the tart shell for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Check around the
15 minute mark due to oven variations.
• Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

• Beat the egg yolks an sugar with an electric mixure on medium-high speed in a
medium bowl until thick and pale, about 8 minutes.
• Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour just until blended.
* If using a vanilla bean, add to egg mixture.
• Bring the milk just to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
• Gradually add the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
• Return to the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly; boil for one minute.
• Transfer to a shallow bowl and stir in the vanilla.
• Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the cream and refrigerate
for about 3 hours, until thoroughly chilled, or for up to 1 day.

• Heat the jam with the water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally,
until melted.

• Brush the bottom of the pastry shell with some of the glaze.
* I opted to skip the layer of glaze.
• Spoon the chilled pastry cream into the center and spread it evenly.
• Arrange fruit on top of the cream.
• Brush fruit with the remaining glaze.

The tart can be stored at cool room temperature for up to 3 hours.

• For a seamless border, cut the frame out as one piece OR gently pinch the edges
tightly so that they do not come apart when baking.
• If your puff pastry base puffs up, use a spatula to push down when it comes out of
the oven.
• Apricot jam should be used if your tart contains any non-red colored fruit (kiwi, mango,
etc.) so as to not discolor the fruit.



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