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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Machado Orchards

"Ooooo, that's blasphemy," MFM pronounced when I suggested deviating from our usual on-the-way-to Tahoe pit/snack stop to try a new place. "I think it's pretty much illegal if we don't stop at Ikeda's," he said.

A tradition that goes back to when I was a kid - it's pretty much a given that either on the way there or back (sometimes both) - we stop at Ikeda's in Auburn for a snack. Sometimes it's a luscious milkshake, or a delicious teriyaki burger & fries - but it always ends with pie, for which they are famous. You may think it sounds impossible to get full use of their frequent pie card (purchase 12 and the 13th is free) but my family was totally able to redeem it. Within a year. That's a lot of pie.

So when my sister Mandy, or Mandy-rin Orange (she requested a foodie name with "beignets" in it, but I just couldn't think of anything) recommended a newly discovered spot for pie, Machado Orchards, I was a bit skeptical. But I kept an open mind. After all, she and her boyfriend Pat-strami have great taste when it comes to food, and great noses when it comes to sniffing out value.

Located just a few blocks from Ikeda's, Machado is definitely smaller, but is warm, cozy and inviting. Like Ikeda's, it features fresh fruit and produce, as well as typical farmer's market-type fare like homemade jams and preserves, jarred sauces, local honey, breads, nuts and pickles.

But the star of the show was its open bakery, where rows and rows of freshly baked pies sat waiting behind the window. Though the flavors were limited to just a few fruits in season, there was a homespun, baked-with-love quality that radiated from the kitchen. Nothing fancy. Nothing exotic. Just pure baked delicious goodness.

We tried the apple pie ($14 for a whole, $3.50 for a slice) which was fresh and comforting, made with apples from the trees in the orchard right outside. Not too sweet, with a crust not too buttery, with just the right pinch of salt.

No burgers, fries, or much else here (though we did not get to try the homemade tamales that we overheard had sold out at 7am that morning) - but the small seating area consisting of just a few tables, the friendly staff and surrounding orchards were lovely. Maybe not quite the destination to replace Ikeda's on our road trips to Tahoe, but one that is definitely worth adding in.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fluffy Coconut Pudding

makes one 9x13 pan
recipe from Mama Lau (Thank you Jonathan and Camila for sharing!)
prep time: 30 min

5 packets gelatin
3/4 c sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
1/3 c water
1 can coconut milk
5 egg whites
pinch of salt
ice water

• In a saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar and gelatin with the water, whisking frequently.
• Reduce heat to medium-low and add coconut milk until the mixture simmers, continue whisking.
• Remove the saucepan from the heat, placing it in a large bowl of ice water until mixture is warm, not hot. Continue to whisk from time to time.
• While the coconut mixture cools down, whisk egg whites and salt in a mixture until stiff peaks form.
* I accidentally over whisked the egg whites, but didn't see a change in the texture or taste.
• Gently whisk the coconut milk mixture into the egg whites until smooth.
• Pour into a 9x13 (or slightly larger) dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
• When the pudding is set, cut into squares and serve.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Foodie-ness in Seattle

So our 24 hours in Seattle comes to a close with more great sightseeing and more great food. Another title for these posts could be "Seattle: 1 Meal and Multiple Snacks" - which is exactly what me and my traveling/foodie companions, Ms. Chew Your Food and ButterScottch had, come to think of it. But it worked. Here's more highlights from our trip!

Through Twitter we found bbq truck Maximus Minimus, which was parked 2 blocks from Pike's. It's the most evolved of the food trucks I've visited - from a velvet rope to keep customers in line to the staffer in front with a hand-held device to quickly and efficiently take our orders (other food trucks should take note). They had a pretty limited menu - a few sandwich/side options, and posole (which wasn't ready.) We shared a pork sandwich with the less-spicy Minimus sauce, which was a sweet, tangy blend of honey, tamarind and molasses. We washed it down with a tart, refreshing ginger lemonade and a fruity, fragrant hibiscus nectar. Not to mention, the truck itself looks really cool.

We also made sure to visit Fran's Chocolates, home to the President and First Lady's favorite chocolates, who have been fans since they received a box during a Seattle campaign stop. The President likes the smoked salt caramels - which is a 40% milk chocolate-covered caramel sprinkled with sea salt that has been smoked over Welsh oak, while Michelle Obama prefers the gray salt caramels - made from 64% dark chocolate and a sprinkling of gray sea salt harvested off the coast of Brittany. We tried both and fell in love - this salty, sweet and buttery mouthful is meant to be eaten slowly, so that every single note is pronounced and every single bite, savored.

Next door was the buzzing (literally) University Village Starbucks, which is rumored to be the 2nd busiest Starbucks in the world (first is Tokyo). It is also one of only a few places were you can buy a cup of custom made drip coffee using its Clover Brewing System. At a cost of $11,000 a pop, this machine is design to create the perfect cup of coffee maximizing quality beans, water temperature and brew time. I'm no coffee afficionado but the coffee ($2.50 for a tall Kona drip) was rich, flavorful and strong. We were also tempted (but too full) to try the adorable Scone Wagon which was parked a few steps from Starbucks.

We also fit in a visit to chocolatier Chocolati, for one of the richest and most luxurious cups of hot chocolate I've ever tasted (it was like drinking a melted truffle) and a scone. And then we were on our way to Vancouver, but not before taking a final snack break for donuts at Frost in Mill Creek, right outside of Seattle. We shared a sweet Red Velvet, a boozy/nutty bourbon pecan, a flavorful salted caramel and my favorite, a luscious bacon-topped maple bar.

* Special Mention: Not only is Scott/ButterScottch my favorite person in Seattle, he's also the best tour guide ever. Who else could squeeze in so much into just one day, while making us laugh and feel like royalty along the way? Along with all the foodie stops, we also visited some great Seattle landmarks including the
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle's Central Library and even the cemetary where Bruce & Brandon Lee are buried - all of which I'd highly recommend seeing. Thank you, BS!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Espresso Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 20 large cookies
recipe adapated from
Brown Eyed Baker

prep time: 30 min / cook time: 14 min

3 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
* I omitted the salt
3 tbsp espresso powder
* I used Medaglia D'oro
3 sticks butter, softened
* I used salted butter
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
1 1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c rolled oats
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

• Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions.
• Preheat oven to 350˚F.
• Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. Set aside.
• In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
• Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
• Mix in the vanilla extract.
• Gradually beat in the flour mixture, mixing only until dough comes together. Do not over mix.
• With a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the rolled oats, followed by the chocolate chips.
* A stiff rubber spatula works best. The flexible one is too soft and can't get to the bottom of the bowl very well.
• Using a large cookie/ice cream scoop, drop the cookies on the prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
• Bake for 14 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets front to back and top to bottom half way though the baking time.
• Bake until the cookies are slightly browned and set on the outside, but still soft and puffy in the middle.
• Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheet.

• If you are making smaller cookies, lessen the baking time.
• I thought the cookie was a bit on the sweet side, so you may want to reduce the granulated sugar and light brown sugar.
• Be sure to mix the oats and chocolate chips well. The batter at the bottom will not have as much of either ingredients and will spread when they bake. You can always add more oats and chocolate chips when you get to the bottom.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Foodie-ness In Seattle

The best thing about Seattle? My awesome(ish) friend Scott (who I will now call ButterScottch) lives there! But it's also a great place for foodies, as me and Ms. Chew Your Food soon found out during a quick 1-day visit en route to Vancouver (see last week's post.) Here's part one of some of the highlights - hard to imagine we squeezed it all into one day!

For many, a trip to Seattle isn't complete without a visit to Pike's Place Market. To some it's a chance to see the famous flying fish from the Spike Lee commercial, or the Greek restaurant that Tom Hanks ate at in Sleepless in Seattle. But to me, it's the one and only place I know of that has deep fried chicken parts, for which I have a great affinity. At Chicken Valley, you can get a to-go plate of hearts, livers or gizzards (or a combination of alll three) for $3.00. It's the perfect thing to snack on while you're walking around Pike's, taking in the various food stalls, flower vendors, fresh seafood and homegrown arts and crafts it has to offer.

Next, it was impossible for us to walk by Piroshky Piroshky without getting completely lured in by the smell of freshly baked goodies. They totally know what they are doing - complete with a street-facing window displaying a bakery worker working on what looked and smelled like cinnamon-y butter-y goodness. It totally worked. Seconds later we emerged with a cinnamon-apple roll in hand and bit into it while it was still warm, sweet, buttery and delicious. But it's not just us, apparently Anthony Bourdain is a fan too.

A few doors down was the first ever Starbucks, which opened March 30, 1971. Did you know the intended name for this chain was Pequod, after the ship in Moby Dick? The co-founders eventually agreed on Starbuck, after the Pequod's first mate, instead. Much of the store retains it's original design, as required by the city's historic district guidelines, though we didn't stick around long enough to thoroughly investigate. The massive crowds scared us off, so after snapping a few photos we were on our way.

Later we had dinner at Maneki in the International District, at a teammate's suggestion. Thanks Don! (P.S. Your new name will be UDon, as in noodles.) Known for its authentic tatami (woven mat) rooms, it was originally established in 1904 and was a centerpiece of the Japanese American community until it was ransacked and ruined during World War 2. It was reborn after the war ended, and has been operating in its present state since 1946. The tatami rooms are still there, but we sat at a regular table (it's quite popular, reservations are highly recommended) and enjoyed wonderful dishes including fried oysters, black cod collar with miso, avocado salad with ponzu dressing, soft shell crab and broiled eggplant (they were out of geoduck). The food was satisfying, authentic, delicious.

Somehow we had room for dessert and walked up the block to the teahouse of the Panama Hotel. We immediately fell in love with this charming tearoom, with its antique wood floors and black and white photograph-lined walls. Part teahouse, part museum, the hotel was home to generations of Japanese Americans, many who were whisked away to internment camps during WW2. The proprietor chose to preserve and honor their belongings by displaying some of the unclaimed ones here, through a glass opening in the floor which reveals old trunks and suitcases still full of clothes and heirlooms. The space felt beautiful, important, inviting.

We ordered green tea lattes and manju (rice cakes stuffed with sweet bean) and chatted, with the kind of fullness and happiness that a only a day of good food, great company, and a kind city could bring.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Strawberry Lemon Buttercream Macarons

makes 2 dozen macarons
macaron recipe adapated from
David Lebovitz

prep time: 35 min / cook time: 10-12 min

1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c
almond powder/meal
2 tbsp
strawberry powder
2 large egg whites, room temperature
5 tbsp granulated sugar
red food coloring, 5 drops

1/3 c butter, softened
1 c confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp lemon curd
yellow food coloring, 3 drops

• Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Have a pastry bag with a plain tip (about 1/2 inch) ready.
* I used Ateco Plain Tip #806.
• In a blender or food processor, grind together the powdered sugar, almond powder/meal and strawberry powder so there are no lumps.
• Add red food coloring to the sugar and mix until combined.
* The red in the macaron will not be as bright as the sugar, so if you want a brighter red you will need to add more food coloring.
• In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape.
• While whipping, beat in the dyed granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
• Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula.
• When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg whites, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag.
* Standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you're alone.
• Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1 inch circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced 1 inch apart.
* I piped out my macarons into 1 1/2 inch circles.
• Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons.
• Bake for 10-12 minutes.
• Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy.
• Slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat to combine, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
• Add lemon curd and continue beating on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
• Add yellow food coloring, beat until combined.

• Pair up macarons that are the same size.
• Spread lemon buttercream on one side of the macaron and then sandwich them together.

* You can pipe out the filling if you prefer.

• To help keep your macarons a consistent size, you can create a template on the computer and slip it under the parchment paper or draw out circles on the underside of the parchment in pencil.
This recipe did not use aged egg whites like most macaron recipes.
• I stacked two baking sheets when baking the macarons.
• If the macarons stick to the parchment paper after they have cooled, put a little bit of water between the baking sheet and parchment paper to help them come off more easily.
• Let macarons come to room temperature before serving. This doesn't take long, about 5 minutes.

Macarons can be stored up to 5 days in an airtight container.



Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hello Vancouver!

When I recently visited Vancouver for a dragon boat race, I had two goals. The first was to race hard and bring home a medal with my team, which we did, thanks to all of my teammates' hard work. I feel especially indebted to Henry, known here as Sharkie Fin Soup, who steered us to an amazing gold medal victory in our division. From the back of the boat he guided us with skill, unflappable precision and an impressive amount of heart. I’m proud to call him my teammate, and even prouder to call him my friend.

My second goal was to try the much-hyped Japadog, which is basically a hot dog cart (a standing restaurant location was recently added) in the popular Robson Street shopping area.

Numerous friends, relatives, and even Anthony Bourdain, Ice Cube and Steven Segal are fans of these unique hot dogs with Japanese flavors. During the recent winter Olympics, waits for this popular snack were in upwards of two hours.

Luckily it was only a short wait for me and two teammates (who will be known as Ms. Chew Your Food and Lima Bean). Since it was our first and only visit (squeezed in en route to the airport heading home) we decided to split three different hot dogs (over 12 to choose from) so we could sample the variety. First up was the Terimayo ($4.75) – an all beef hot dog with sauteed onions and nori slivers, and drizzled with a delicious savory/sweet teriyaki-mayo sauce.

Next up was the Okonomi dog ($6.25), which had the flavors of the popular Japanese “pancake” okonomiyaki – which boasted Kurobota pork, sautéed cabbage, onions, bonito flakes and worchestershire-like okonomiyaki sauce. And lastly, my favorite of the three – the Oroshi dog ($4.75). Which was a mild, but perfectly seasoned bratwurst with grated daikon radish, sliced green onions and a splash of special soy sauce. The flavorful bratwurst, coupled with the freshness of the daikon and chewiness of the bread was a winning combination. One that I'm still dreaming about weeks after.

It's not often that I can check off two of my goals in the very same weekend, and this was one where I was truly grateful for all the little things. Each and every stroke on the water, bite of delicious food, moment laughing with my teammates - they all added up to one big unforgettable weekend. Thank you, Vancouver!

*Special Mention: I was also lucky enough to visit the Richmond Night Market, which is open only during the Summer (see the last three rows of pictures above). Open till midnight, this open-air flea market has shopping, live entertainment and above all - some of the best street food I've ever tasted. Asian steak tacos, pork belly buns, hurricane fries, rice cake burgers, takoyaki (octopus balls), spicy squid, bubble drinks - even Canadian treat poutin - it was all here! Highly recommended if you visit Vancouver in the summertime!


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Coconut Rum Banana Bread

makes 1 loaf

recipe adapted from
Baking Bites

prep time: 15 min / cook time: 1 hr

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 c mashed bananas (2 med-large)
* I used 1 1/2 c mashed bananas (3 med-large)
1/2 c coconut milk
1/4 c butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp rum
1 1/4 c shredded coconut, divided

• Preheat oven to 350˚F.
• Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
• In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until well combined.
• Whisk in mashed banana, coconut milk, butter, rum and vanilla extract to sugar and egg mixture.
• Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until just combined, making sure no streaks of flour remain.
• Stir in 1 cup shredded coconut and pour batter out into prepared loaf pan.
• Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded coconut on top of the batter.
• Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
• Turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

I am not a big banana bread fan, so if you make this you can judge for yourself. I did find the bread to be a little on the dry side.



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