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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sub Center

You may have noticed I'm a fan of sandwiches. I've probably spent more time waiting in line for sandwiches more than anything else (and I'm really impatient.) But this place wins me over a little more than anywhere else I've been.

For one, in a city where restaurants come and go, Submarine Center is a place that's stood the test of time, perhaps even growing in popularity, as it nears its third decade at the mouth of the West Portal Muni station. Second, it's a family-run place that consistantly serves sandwiches that are honest, sincere and downright delicious. No fancy names, secret sauces or 2-pound 15-ingredient behemoths here.

But for me, mostly I like going here because it takes me back to my junior high days, when my best friend I. and I used to walk here after school. We'd laugh and talk about our day over sandwiches before I would jump on the Muni traveling inbound and she would ride the one heading outbound.

We were kind of an odd pair. We met in the schoolyard in 2nd grade where she was the cool, tough girl that everyone wanted on their team, and I was a sissy girly-girl that never got picked for anything. Somehow she befriended me (I never quite figured out why) and I was always a little bit in awe of her. I admired her spunk, her spirit, and her strength.

It was usually pastrami for her and either turkey or the mini sub for me when we both had money. Some days we had to make due and share. I'm happy to say that years later, the sandwiches amazingly still taste the same. They come in three sizes: mini, center and super. Like I said, it's nothing fancy. And anyone can toast their sandwiches.

But somehow their freshly sliced meats, savory melty cheese, crisp lettuce & tomato, and creamy smear of mustard and mayo all ends up coming together perfectly in your mouth. Factor in light, toasty bread and the slight tang of dressing and you have something really special. Something that you'll think about and can't wait to have again and again. (And it's not just me, over 600 Yelpers give this place 4 1/2 stars.)

It's been many many moons since junior high, and I still come here often. I love that the same kind, curly-haired gentleman is still there behind the counter. But on this sunny Saturday, I wanted to come here because I wanted to think of my best friend. Life can take twists and turns, and if you're lucky enough, you'll have that one person who can help make that ride just a little bit smoother. And she's my person. I'm still in awe of you, I., and I am thinking of you today.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tiger Tail Cupcakes

makes 18 cupcakes
** These cupcakes were inspired by a recent visit to Trophy's in Seattle, WA **
cupcake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (page 29)
frosting recipe adapted from
total prep time: 1 hr / cook time: 18-20 min

11/2 c packed sweetened shredded coconut, divided
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 c sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 c unsweetened coconut milk

2 c fresh raspberries
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line standard cupcake tins with paper liners. Set aside.
• Place shredded coconut in a food processor until finely ground.
• In a bowl whisk 1/2 c shredded coconut, flour, baking powder and salt.
• With an electric mixer on medium-high speed with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
• Gradually beat in whole eggs, whites and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
• Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of coconut milk and beating until combined after each.
• Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full.
• Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers come out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
• Remove from oven; turn out cupcakes onto wire racks and let cool completely.

• With a food processor, puree raspberries. Strain to separate from seeds.
* If needed, add sugar to sweeten and add water to help loosen the puree.
• Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl of a standing mixer over a pan of simmering water.
* Do not let the bowl touch the water or you will get scrambled eggs!
• Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.
* Mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.
• Attach the bowl to the mixture fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue to mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
• With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition.
• Once all butter has been added, switch to the paddle attachment and beat in the raspberry puree. C
ontinue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
* Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

• Using your favorite piping tip, fill your pastry bag and pipe a small amount of frosting on top of each cupcake. For a more rounded top, use an offset spatula to round off.
• Roll the frosting in the remaining 1 c of ground shredded coconut.

• If the swiss buttercream starts to curdle, continue to beat it until it gets smooth.
• Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.


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