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A Dessert Solution with Limited Ingredients: Lemon Pudding Cake

April 14, 2014
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Lemon Pudding Cake

Lately, I’ve been plagued with a sweet tooth and my only solution of late is to go out and buy something. There’s always the occasional cookies from Sprouts (Paul loves them), frozen yogurt from Yogurtland is always an option (except the one near is always a mess) and more importantly, I always make sure to have ice cream in the freezer. But lately, I haven’t made anything from scratch in months. You’d think that working from home with give me loads of time to bake but I don’t have it. Then the baking bug hit me this Sunday.

I’ve been craving lemon desserts and wanted to do something with the Meyer lemons from our patio tree. Some research led me to lemon pudding cake described as a lemon angel food cake with a lemon sauce on the bottom. And it only required lemons, eggs, flour, sugar, milk and very little butter.

On the fly, I reduced the sugar and if I had some foresight, I would have also shifted some confectioner’s sugar on top. But the cake is a dream. Baking it in a hot water bath creates a luscious lemon sauce on the bottom but light-as-air cake on top. It’s pretty freaking amazing that one batter creates a sauce and bakes a cake on top.

Lemon Pudding Cake closeup

Lemon Pudding Cake

½ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 cup sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
1½ cups milk

Heat oven 350 degrees F.

In small bowl, combine flour and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, egg yolks and sugar. Beat in lemon juice and zest until well combined. Mix half of flour-salt into eggs alternately with half the milk until everything is thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into batter and pour into 8-inch baking dish.

Place baking dish in pan of hot water and move into the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes (rotating half way) until top of cake is browned.

A Note To The New Sonic in Kearny Mesa

April 1, 2014
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Sonic Entrance

When I saw the signage going up on Kearny Villa Road, I was excited. I was never thrilled to travel to Santee for a cherry limeade on hot days. And there was a time (very long ago) when I went to the Orange County location twice in one day just to eat. Now it’s basically in my own backyard.

But it has some problems that need working on. Namely the indoor signage.

Sonic Menus

What’s with the multiple television screens with 10 point type? I’m not a young chicken any more but I struggle just to read it. Secondly, the menu handout by the cash register doesn’t help. It has no prices and lists things not on the screen menu that  making me cross reference between  tv screens with the handout. It’s maddening. And I’m sure it’s not me. I see other people struggling with the confusing menu.

Sonic carport

Last but not least, I think it would help to see a ring up of all the things I entered as well as final price. I’m used to that kind of stuff and like to see how everything adds up to $13 when all I ordered was a cherry limeade with large tater tots.

Sonic pretzel dog and tots

Other than that, it’s a pretty nice location with modern roll up garage doors and I love the super friendly staff the refill my drinks. But I’ll never park in the carports especially when it’s busy since the drive-thru lane blocks cars from leaving.Too bad I never like the hamburgers – or even the new pretzel dog – but it sure beats going to Santee for some delicious tots.

My Freelance Life and Lack of Posting

March 27, 2014
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Kobe Sliders One quick look at the calendar today and I realize the only time I blogged was earlier in the month – and only to poke fun on Dominique Ansel’s copycat cookie shots. But I poke fun at a lot of things like food photography – I’m like that. My lack of blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything, just not here. The huge, gigantic amount of time I’ve been spending has been at Zagat San Diego. Since last year it’s been a whirlwind with a steep learning curve and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. And if you’ve spent any amount of time with me lately, I’ve confessed that my eating schedule doesn’t feel like my own. One promise I had made to myself was to continue posting here at least once a week – it’s a promise I’ve failed to keep. Initially, I wanted to keep my two separate blogging lives apart but after weeks of consideration, I’ll tease to some stories I’m proud of with interesting backstories and/or particularly memorable food. I hope to make it a weekly thing. Here’s a tease to what I’ve been eating lately.

Juniper & Ivy

Yodel Earlier this month, I checked out Juniper & Ivy, a Richard Blais project. Fact: Paul has a chef crush on him because of his cooking style and his hair. The preview party was a great introduction to his food and when I went in for an actual restaurant visit a few days later, I was blown away. And check out dessert. For the Yodel (Hostess’ version is a Ho-Ho), a waitress pours hot chocolate over a chocolate cylinder revealing cake, white chocolate mousse and hazelnut brittle. The rest of our awesome meal is here (including their not-so-secret burger) and my interview with Blais. He’s super nice.

Bertrand at Mister A’s

Dragonfruit sorbet I haven’t been to Bertrand at Mister A’s in years but they serve an great happy hour that starts on Sundays. If you don’t go there for the food (like their kobe sliders at the top of this post), go there for the view. There’s a dress code but it seems to be a bit lax on Sundays. (Paul sneaked in wearing shorts and I had on flip flops.) The happy hour menu doesn’t include dessert but this dragonfruit sorbet on top of tapioca is burned into my mind. If it’s served right as the sun sets, it looks like it’s on fire. A look at the pretty food here.

Doughnuts

Requiring almost no research was my post on the best 24-hour doughnut shops. Yes, the best. I planned to run it in conjunction with Dunkin’ Donuts opening up downtown which I visited once and the lines were just a bit too much. Yup, I’m still into doughnuts.

Dominique Ansel: Copycat Cookie Shots

March 5, 2014
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Remember about a year ago the Cronut arrived on the scene and what followed was a slew of Dominique Ansel copycat creations? Well look what’s he’s “created” this year for SXSW- cookie shots.

Ahem. For the regular readers of my blog that go back two years, does it even seem the slight bit familiar to something I did back in 2012??

Dessert Shooters

For new readers, that photo went viral two years ago – an idea I came up in and led to me writing The Girl with the Donut Tattoo – and it was profiled in Laughing Squid, Food Beast and several other notable websites. To this day, it continues to have a life on its own. Granted, Ansel’s cookie shots stand on their own and hold milk instead of Kahlua but I find the similarities just a bit too eerie. Am I upset? Maybe, but it’s nothing that a donut can’t solve.

Guessing Game: Pizza or Flatbread?

February 21, 2014
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Has the term “flatbread” become interchangeable for pizza? For me, flatbread was always something plain or lightly dressed. Think crackers but not coming from box. But as of late it’s taking on a new look. Fully loaded pieces of flatbread are common on menus. And often times it requires it to be eat with utensils.

I thought it would be fun to compile a bunch of recent photos and have you guess which is which. Unfortunately, I don’t have any nifty prizes to share but the fun is trying to figure it out, right?? Answers follow the photos.

Beet Flatbread

LaJollaBrewing

Great Maple

NaPizza

Think you guessed correctly? Everything but the last photo is flatbread.

The first photo is beet flatbread is from downtown’s Urban Bar & Grill. Next is La Jolla Brewing Company’s “The Pearl” flatbread alongside a taste of Nitro (their stout is delicious BTW). The third photo is Great Maple’s prosciutto di parma flatbread. And lastly, Napizza’s breakfast slice – the only pizza in the group. Did the photos stump you? Let me know what your thoughts are and let’s try to figure this out.

Food Photos: The 100% Real Deal

February 10, 2014
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Too Ugly

Lately I’ve been fussing over my food photos. I’ve been so unhappy with them. It’s several different issues which I’m convinced is partly due to my camera. The colors are off. Photography in dark restaurants is an issue. And there’s only so much I can do in Photoshop. But recently I found a food blog that’s so refreshing because there’s no staging or post production work. It’s 100% real.

DimlyLit

The website is hilariously titled Dimly Lit Meals for One: Heartbreaking tales of one man’s home cooking. Between the photography and humorous writing, it ignited something in me. Are food blogs today the uberphotoshopped models of fashion magazines? Does my food look like that every day? More importantly… does yours? Don’t get me wrong. I love looking at beautiful food but it’s giving my everyday food an inferiority complex. Are my utensils clean? Is it properly lit? etc. etc.

With the exception of what I order in restaurants and blog material, the definitive answer is a strong NO. The food I manage to eat during the day is oft-times eaten over the sink (something I touched upon in The Girl With the Donut Tattoo), a mishmash of leftovers from several days, and food on the brink of expiration that I had no choice but to use because I hate food waste.

DSC_0043

An example is the hot link sausage, sliced mushrooms and egg fried up in the same pan a few months ago. (Why I decided to take a photo of it is beyond me.) If I recall, the sausage and mushrooms were beginning to look a big gnarly, so what makes it better? Scrambling it with eggs OF COURSE. This — in essence — is my ideal food on the go: lots of protein.

DSC_0002

More recently aka last night, Paul looked at the kale soup I was making and decided to go the leftovers route. Leftovers from previous dinners included half of salmon stuffed with feta cheese and spinach, a slice of Bread & Cie sourdough with cherry jam (the jam was his choice), and steamed broccoli (upon my insistence). Balanced? Maybe. But Paul was satisfied since he didn’t have to eat kale.

Comfort Foods: Baked Chicken in Milk

February 4, 2014
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Lemon chicken

Baked chicken is one of those comfort foods I turn to again and again. Depending on what ingredients I have on hand, chicken can take on a number of flavor identities. Squeezed lemon/orange and season with salt and pepper and it has a refreshing quality. Slather oyster sauce before baking (this is something my mom used to do) and it has a bit of a different flavor profile without realizing it comes from oysters. My most recent favorite is chicken baked in milk. It’s a Jamie Oliver creation that I doubted at first (chicken in milk??) but has slowly become in rotation for dinner.

Lemon chicken

Basically chicken is browned in butter, milk is added with a lemon zest, cinnamon sticks and sage. It bakes for about an hour and it’s done. The lemon zest/milk creates an rich and fragrant gravy that I like to serve over potatoes. It makes my home smell like a rotisserie.

Baked Chicken in Milk

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 chicken
1/2 stick butter
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cinnamon stick
Handful fresh sage
Handful garlic cloves, skin left on
1 cup milk

Preheat over to 375 degrees F.

Season chicken with salt and butter

In a dutch oven, melt butter and brown chicken turning it on all sides. Add lemon zest, cinnamon stick, sage, garlic and milk to pot. Cover pot with lid and transfer pot to oven to bake for an hour and half. Remove lid last half hour and return to oven.

Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies.

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