Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blu Blogging : Chocolate Cabernet Tart

Tonight Blu Seafood and Bar offered an ever so smooth and rich chocolate Cabernet tart. It was perfectly petite, but completely satisfying with dark chocolate ganache on a sugar dough crust. I did not share and I did not feel guilty. In fact, not only had I eaten a healthy meal prior to dessert, but I did my part to combat global warming by only eating raw seafood.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Homemade PIzza Crust

A couple of days ago, I made a pizza, which I shared with my Most Faithful Readers. Making pizza crust is surprisingly easy, particularly after you've made it a few times.

  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil (olive results in crispier dough)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
Dump most of the flour into your mixing bowl (preferably in a stand mixer). Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the warm water. Dump that in, start mixing and add the oil. Add the rest of the flour and the salt. You may have to add just a little bit more flour if the dough is extremely sticky after mixing a while. Let it rise a little.

I've been putting all my yeast dough in a cold oven, turning it on the default temperature for two minutes and then turning my oven off. It gets to approximately 120F in that length of time. My house is just too cold for dough to rise otherwise and this method works beautifully every time.

Spread out the dough on a greased cookie sheet. The dough was very cooperative this time, but I was very patient with it. You may not be so lucky.

For this pizza, I spread out olive oil as the base and then topped it with (drained) marinated artichokes, kalamata olives, sliced onions and mozarella. I also like using pesto, pre-cooked shrimp and bacon. Of course, you can use tomato sauce and traditional toppings, if you have them.

Bake at 475F for 10-11 minutes. I baked this one for 10 minutes, but it probably could have used 11. Yes, that's a lot of olives.

It was good! Like any other pizza, the leftovers are always good, too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Angel Food Cake : No Yolks, Please!

I made angel food cake yesterday! My Most Faithful Readers gave me a tube pan for Christmas, so I wanted to make angel food cake as soon as possible. I'm a big fan of angel food cake. I used the recipe from the Baking Illustrated cookbook. It called for a teaspoon and a half of lemon juice, but I left that out, because I didn't have any lemons yesterday. It's more challenging to acquire such things on Christmas Day. It also called for the egg whites from 12 eggs, which led me to wonder what on earth I would do with the yolks and posed the question to my followers on Twitter. I got a lot of suggestions from them and from friends on Facebook, which resulted in my freezing a bunch of them. One of the suggestions was to make spongecake, which requires 12 yolks, but I didn't really want to make two cakes in one day. Is it really a big deal? Eggs aren't very expensive, but I don't like the idea of wasting them for some reason. They're yellow, after all.

Everything I read in various sources suggested that using a stand mixer makes baking an angel food cake particularly easy and that turned out to be true. Separating all the whites and yolks was probably the most tiresome part of the process. I do think it's pretty nifty how much the cake rises in the oven without any leavening at all. It's like a really dense meringue.

Last night, I made a Brown Sugar Orange sauce, from the Joy of Cooking, to go with the cake. I didn't have any orange juice handy, so I substituted some clementine IZZE. That worked surprisingly well, but the orange flavor probably wasn't as strong as it could have been. Over all, it tasted good, but it was on the thin side for serving with the cake.

Today, once I had some lemons, I made lemon pudding from the recipe in the Luscious Lemon Desserts cookbook, using three of the yolks. It's basically like lemon meringue pie filling in pudding form. It's pretty easy to make, but it requires a lot of stirring while almost paying attention to what you're doing. The recipe specifies that you should strain the pudding while putting it into the serving bowl, but I decided to skip that step. If you use a Microplane Grater/Zester to get your lemon zest, it's pretty fluffy and straining is unnecessary. I discovered this when I made lemon curd a while back when I ended up eating the contents of the strainer.

Don't they look beautiful together? Use your imagination. It just needs a garnish. They certainly tasted good together.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Secular Winter Holiday 2008!

Merry Christmas to everyone! It is on this holiday that we all gather to celebrate the birth of all that is holy and by that I am referring to my blog. Ok, maybe that's not what you thought you were celebrating, but deep down inside, you know it's true.

Yes, that's right. My blog is five years old today. It's hard to believe. Those of you who have been following along the whole time know that my blog has changed greatly since I first started. I no longer describe every little banality of my life. Now it's more like a travel guide for people who don't like traveling. There must be a lot of you who stick close to home, because I have way more readers than I ever dreamt I would.

You can read posts from blog Christmas past and compare trees from year to year. Frรถhliche Weihnachten!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blu Blogging : Another New Dessert

We went to Blu Seafood and Bar this evening and I had some humongous blue point oysters. Their oysters are half-price every Tuesday.

I also had some spice encrusted calamari with cilantro dipping sauce. I hadn't ordered any since I fixed my camera's white balance, so that was a nice treat. Their calamari is always nice and tender.

They offered a new butternut squash bread pudding, which was really quite nice.

It was also great to see Chef Tim Lyons's parents, who were visiting for the holidays! It's always great chatting with visiting blog readers, particularly since their son owns one of my favorite restaurants.

ACME Blogging : Black Mamba Fruitcake

If you're anywhere near Carrboro, you need to head over to ACME Food & Beverage Co. to try their latest dessert sensation, the Black Mamba Fruitcake, which is served with the most wonderful and tangiest mandarin orange sorbet. The fruitcake is very dense and the combination of the two is, indeed, sensational. I recommend scooping up some sorbet with every bite of cake.

What does near Carrboro mean? I'd say if you're in North Carolina or in a neighboring state.

Disclaimer: I like fruitcake. Even if you don't ordinarily like fruitcake, you may like this, because it's no ordinary fruitcake.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kim Son

On Tuesday, I went to Kim Son with a couple of friends. It must have been at least two years since I had been there, for some inexplicable reason, since I've enjoyed every meal that I've eaten there. We started out with some delicious steamed dumplings. I must apologize that I don't remember full name of my entree Pho, but it was #7. It had lots of sliced roasted pork with egg vermicelli, in a delicious broth. I've never decided on the best way to eat vermicelli in a soup, but I'm quite positive that my method of twisting a fork against a spoon as if it were an Italian pasta is not an approved practice. It worked, though.

We followed our meal by eating two wonderful desserts. We had a huge serving of fried bananas with ice cream and chopped peanuts. I love fried bananas and this was really good.

We also had coconut flan, which was very good and comparatively light. It had a lovely design on top that we all tried to identify. Was it a scorpion? A salamander? The Virgin Mary disguised as some sort of legume? We were too eager to eat it to put it up on eBay and find out.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blu Blogging : Cuban Hot Chocolate

Blu Seafood and Bar has a new special dessert, a Cuban hot chocolate. This thick, tasty and very rich hot chocolate has a little bit of a kick, with bird peppers and cinnamon. Like many things at Blu, it was just the perfect thing for a warm and soggy December night like tonight.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tagged Again

A few weeks ago, I was tagged over at Green Grounded, by Ashley Sue!

The rules go something like this:
Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

I'm feeling very lazy at the moment and I did this before, so I'll attempt to come up with seven new facts, but I'm not going to tag anyone else.

  1. I don't really like for other people, even family members, to put dishes in my dishwasher. Actually, I don't like putting dishes in my dishwasher either.
  2. My favorite composer is Beethoven. I am particularly fond of Piano Sonatas 8, 14 and 23.
  3. Watching Sesame Street as a child completely warped me in that I love both Carmen and oranges. Katerina Witt probably reinforced this in 1988. Owning a CD of Bizet's Greatest Hits was what really did me in.
  4. I have never seen "It's A Wonderful Life".
  5. Several years ago, in Page Auditorium, on Duke's campus, the tuba player from Canadian Brass, Chuck Daellenbach, sat next to me during a portion of their performance.
  6. I really want to make a quiche, but not right at this very moment.
  7. I am very fond of weeping willow trees.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Thai Cafe Blogging: Thai Iced Tea

I decided to take a few vacation days, so I recently had the opportunity to join my Most Faithful Readers and some family friends for lunch at Thai Cafe. I love Thai iced tea, but just a little caffeine with dinner will keep me up during some portion of the night that I want to sleep, so I am careful to avoid it. That makes any trip to a Thai restaurant during the day quite a treat. Of course if I haven't had any caffeine in the morning at all, then I have to resort to Thai Iced Coffee, which I don't like nearly as much.

The important thing is that Thai Cafe's Thai Iced Tea is excellent and beautiful, too.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bullock's Barbecue Blogging: Chocolate Pie

In this day and age when desserts are commonly $6 or $7, it's refreshing to still find homemade chocolate merinique pie at Bullock's Barbecue, for what I believe was only $1.25. It may not be quite as good as it was 20 years ago, but I assure you that it disappeared awfully quickly. The meringue, in particular, was extremely good. I also had a bite of their coconut pie and that was quite good, too.

UPDATE: A slice of chocolate pie actually costs $2.50. That's still pretty cheap these days, though.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Free Light Show

My camera is better suited for photographing food, but I wanted to mention that Venus, Jupiter and the moon have been putting on a show for us, so it's worth taking a look in the early evening. I don't think this star map will be necessary.