Monthly Archives: December 2010

Top 10 Eats of 2010

It’s time to say adios to 2010, and while it has been quite a good year, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2011.  Hopefully it involves lots of new restaurants and food discoveries!

It was hard narrowing down my most memorable eats from 2010, but I think this list sums it up pretty accurately.  I know already many of these meals/restaurants are must repeats for 2011.

Without futher adieu, I give to you my Memorable Meals of 2010 (in no particular order).

1. French Onion Soup at Little Next Door

I’ve searched high and low to find a French Onion Soup that tops this one.  Little Next Door is one of the things I miss most about living in LA.  Honorable mention goes to the French Macaroons.

Cute and lovely French Macaroons.

2. Farmer’s Market Scramble at Britta’s Cafe

A simple dish made with fresh vegetables from the Farmer’s Market next door and feta cheese. 

Fresh from the market!

Plus,  Britta’s serves you scones while you wait for your meal instead of bread.  Definite bonus.

Mmmmmm….scones…..

3. Carmelized onion, goat cheese, mushroom and thyme flatbread at Rustic Kitchen

Photo from wheretoeatboston.com

I traveled east this summer (Boston to be exact) and was pleasantly surprised by this gem of a flatbread.  Light, crispy, delicious-  with just the right amount of herbs and goat cheese.  Swoon.

4. Vegetables con Burrata at Pizzeria Ortica

I left Pizzeria Ortica with mixed emotions, but the standout was the Vegetables con Burrata. 

If only their pizza could be as amazing as the appetizer?

5. Everything at Chicken Dijon

Greek food is the name of the game at Chicken Dijon and this place does not disappoint.  Definitely best cheap eats discovery of 2010.  Go there and order the Lamb Gyro. 

You’ll thank me later.

6. Dungeness Crab at PPQ Dungeness Island.

Fresh San Francisco crab slathered in garlic and butter served with noodles and rice? 

Stick a fork in me I’m done.

7.  Chicken Faijtas at Taco Rosa

Hands down best Mexican restaurant in Orange County.  Fresh ingredients and margaritas to die for. 

Look at that sizzle!

And you musn’t forget the sopapillas.  It’s pretty much a given you are going to order them when dining at Taco Rosa.


Chocolate sauce and honey for dipping?  Are you drooling yet?

8. Sushi Extravaganza at Sushi Roku


Photo from Vegas.com

October led me to Las Vegas for work, and a sushi extravaganza was had as a result.  Crispy tuna on rice, seared scallops, soft shell crab…the list goes on and on.  We were so stuffed with sushi that we actually passed on dessert.  Gasp!
9.  Mango Chicken Salad at R+D Kitchen

A simple salad with mangos, chicken, vegetables and noodles.  Light and refreshing. 


Pile of delicious goodness.

Best paired with R+D Kitchen’s crispy fries with sea salt.



Fries and salad – balances each other out!

 10.  John Dory Fish and Potatoes at Lucca Cafe

Photo from LAtimes.com

I’ve loved pretty much every meal at Lucca, but the John Dory with potatoes was a sure standout.  The fish was perfectly cooked and the potatoes were the perfect complement.  Of course, I could write an ode about all of the desserts Lucca has to offer as well…

So there you have it.  10 delicious meals to round out 2010.  Bring it on 2011!

Whiskey Bread Pudding

Every year I feel like the holidays come and go in the blink of an eye.  Before you know it, Christmas is over, New Year’s Eve is upon us, and everyone jumps on their resolutions for the new year.  One of my resolutions is to make my mom’s Whiskey Bread Pudding.

For the past few years the Whiskey Bread Pudding has been a Christmas Eve dessert staple in our household, and this year certainly did not disappoint!  While bread pudding may not seem like the most exciting or exotic of desserts, it is certainly quite delicious.  So delicious in fact that there were hardly any leftovers for the next day.

So friends, before those resolutions kick in and we all start our detox cleanses of 2011, I give you Whiskey Bread Pudding.

Whiskey Bread Pudding (adapted from this recipe here)

Bread Pudding Ingredients:
12 to 14 cups 1-inch cubes day-old French bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 cups 2% milk
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins or currants
Whiskey Sauce for topping (see below)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the bread in a large bowl. Grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Combine the milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and raisins in a large bowl. Whisk to mix. Pour the mixture over the bread, and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

Ooey, gooey, bread deliciousness

Transfer the bread mixture to the casserole dish and bake until the center of the bread pudding is set, 50 to 60 minutes.  Remove from oven and let bread pudding set an additional 20-30 minutes to allow the bread to fully absorb the mixture.  Drizzle with Whiskey Sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

Whiskey Sauce:

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
3/4 cup whiskey (Seagram’s goes nicely with this)

In a 1-quart saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and sugar. Place the tapioca starch and 1/4 cup of the whiskey in a small mixing bowl and whisk together.

Cream sauce in action

Directions:

Pour the whisky mixture into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the sauce begins to boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  The sauce should be thick, not watery.

Remove the sauce from the heat, add the salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup of whiskey.  Drizzle over bread pudding and serve warm.

Tis the Season

The official Christmas countdown is on and so begins the great Christmas Treat Fest of 2010.  Every year I whip myself up into a baking frenzy creating delicious treats for friends, co-workers and family.  I’ve been scouring the interwebs and there are a variety of Christmas goodies I must try this year.

So I give you…the 12 days of Christmas Treats (in no particular order):

12. Joy the Baker’s Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies: Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Cookies: Oatmeal cookies have always been a family favorite and I love the idea of jazzing them up with some pecans and of course chocolate.

11. Smitten Kitchen’s Roasted Chestnut Cookies:  I just saw a bunch of chestnuts in Trader Joe’s and now I want to make these cookies.  Plus they are rolled in powdered sugar.  WIN.

10. Cannelle et Vanille’s Candy Cane Marshmallows:  These just scream holiday season to me.  Plus, if I can get them to look half as good as they do in these pictures, I’ll consider myself a success.

 9. Oh She Glows’ Favorite Snickerdoodles:  I love Snickerdoodles so I think I will really love this recipe.  Who doesn’t love a good sugar cookie?

8. Peas and Thank You’s Christmas Cookie Dough Balls:  Christmas Dough Balls?  The cookie dough is my favorite part about making yummy Christmas treats…and these are egg-free so you can eat as much dough as you want.  I die.

7. David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramels:  Really the title says it all.  Can you think of anything better?

6. Steamy Kitchen’s Nutella Shortbread Cookies with Almond and Banana:  Because everyone could use a little (or a lot) of Nutella in their lives.  And banana and chocolate always tastes good together.

5. A for Aubergine’s Gingersnaps: Gingersnaps are a lovely cookie and so is this girl.  These would pair quite nicely with the Favorite Snickerdoodles.

4. Emeril Lagasse’s Peppermint Bark:  Easy to make and even easier to transport.  Can be made with white or milk chocolate.

3. Elizabeth Gordon’s Allergy Free Holiday Spritz Cookies: As a food allergy sufferer myself, I love finding allergy friendly recipes that taste great and are perfect for holiday gatherings.

2. Joy the Baker’s Ginger Persimmon Bread:  Because I like the word persimmon.  And anything ginger.  Plus I needed a break from all the chocolate madness.

1. Tartelette’s Pumpkin Semifreddo: For the love of all things pumpkin, I must make this dessert.

Tis the Season indeed.  Now what to make first?

A Very Merry (and delicious) San Francisco Treat

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the US to visit.  It’s a quick hop, skip, and a jump from Orange County so I try to get up there as often as I can.  One of my close friends recently moved up there so I figured it was the perfect chance to plan a quick weekend getaway to see her.

One of the best things about San Francisco in my opinion is the food.  The city prides itself on using fresh, locally grown ingredients and it definitely shows.  The coffee you are enjoying with your breakfast most likely came from the coffee shop down the street and the vegetables with your meal are from the local farmer’s market.

On this trip I wanted to try some different restaurants that I haven’t been to before.  As much as I love Fisherman’s Wharf or Union Square, I wanted to go off the beaten path and eat what the locals eat.  Luckily, my friend and her boyfriend are foodies so they knew exactly where to go.

Our first culinary adventure was on Friday evening at Beretta in the Mission District.  The restaurant/bar is all small plates, so you order a variety of different items to share.  And share we did.  Highlights for me included the Eggplant Capionata with Burrata Cheese (I die), Bruschette with Broccoli Rabe, Winter Greens with Persimmon and Pomegranate and Proscuitto with Arugula Pizza.  I was too busy stuffing my face with all of the food goodness to take pictures, but trust me it was amazing.

Saturday was spent in Napa, which really means that the main meal of our day consisted of vino, vino, and more vino.  If you are ever in the Napa/Sonoma area, be sure to check out Anaba Wines – my personal favorite of the trip.

Feeling pretty good at Anaba Wines

By Saturday evening we had only one thing on our mind:  Dungeness Crab.  Dungeness Crab just happens to be in season in San Francisco, so we made our way down to PPQ Dungeness Island for a truly epic crab feast.  I should have known we were in for a treat when I saw the line out the door.
After an hour of waiting with our mouths watering, we were finally seated.  And the feasting began.  Roasted Crab with garlic and butter and garlic noodles.  The picture below does not do it justice.

Delicious crab, rice, noodles, and tea.  A carb-lover’s paradise.

While this certainly wasn’t the most healthy meal of the trip, it was truly delicious.  Every time you cracked open a piece of the crab the meat inside was tender and full of flavor, and the garlic noodles were the perfect accompaniment.  There was a fried banana ice cream thing served at the end of the meal, but I was too full of delicious crab to really even care.  Well played PPQ Dungeness Island.

Other culinary highlights included Savor and Toast, two delightful breakfast joints that we dined at in Noe Valley, as well as famed bakery Tartine, where some delicious shortbread and pumpkin bread was consumed.

Before we knew it it was time to head back down south, but not before grabbing a few Ghirardelli chocolates on the way out.

Thanks San Francisco for the very memorable eats (and drinks).  I have a feeling I’ll be dreaming of Dungeness Crab for a long time….