Sunday, December 14, 2008

A family cookie recipe

Macadamia Nut shortbread cookies - Makes 12 dozen!
adapted from the Maui 4H Cookbook

2 cups butter
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2-3 cups coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 325F. Cream together the butter and sugar. Next, add the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Then slowly mix in the macadamia nuts.

Form the dough into 4-6 rectangular rolls (1-2 cups each), wrap them in waxed paper, and chill. Slice and bake them on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper) at 325 for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on racks and store in an airtight container. They are best after resting for 1 day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Surviving Las Vegas - Part 1

Las Vegas can be an amazing place these days for a foodie. Then again, it's not called Sin City for nothing. I'd say the top foodie sins would be greed, gluttony, and lust, with a touch of pride to boot. I'm going to talk about my last business trip to Las Vegas, which included dining experiences at Emeril's Fish House, Bouchon, Michael Mina, Burger Bar, and 'wichcraft. This series will talk about the importance of service to the dining experience, how the company you keep shapes the dining experience, and using the 5 senses while eating.

The Bouchon dinner.

Eating at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon is Las Vegas is an interesting experience. First, it should be noted that this should just be considered a very good bistro. Don’t go into this thinking of it as a Thomas Keller amazing food experience. This isn’t Per Se or The French Laundry. The food is excellent though. Hers is a be a bit about what we ate that night…

Basic salad with warm goat cheese rillette, and a simple vinaigrette. The vinaigrette had shallots, red wine vinegar and fennel. It was well balanced, and as odd as it sounds, a very strong embodiment of a salad.

The appetizers. Olives, which actually were wonderfully flavorful, and I intend to make this at home. A charcuiterie plate, of 3 different sausages, each was excellent, and flavorful, and cod brandade, which were light, airy, and tasty. I personally thought these were excellent, though the ladies I was with seemed put off of the fact that they were fried. Live a little people! Fear not the fried foods.

My main course was a flap steak, cooked medium rare, resting on potatoes and swiss chard. The greens were just a bit over salted, but very flavorful. The steak was transcendent. It was a thick cut, I’d say about 2” thick, and about 2.5” wide, and about 6” long. This was a generous cut of meat. Part of me wanted to eat it all, and part of me wanted to not pass out. It’s such a fine line. The meat was richly marbled like a rib eye, and tender like a filet. The waiter was excellent, encouraging people to try certain dishes, and avoid others, specifically the gnocchi. It’s perfectly good French gnocchi, but most people don’t actually want to eat French gnocchi when they order it. They think they’re getting Italian gnocchi, and it’s rather different…heavier, dense, etc. Anyone who says straight up…, stay away from a dish, gets my respect. I had the crème caramel for my dessert, which was excellent, but their tarte citron was excellent as well.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

John Bentley's - good food on the peninsula

Tonight was a celebration dinner for my mother's birthday, and we went to John Bentley's in Redwood City. I've heard the ambiance at the Woodside establishment is better, but I wasn't worried about how romantic the place was. It's all about the food.

The staff is quite good at suggesting wine pairings, so if you go, and you don't have something in mind, don't hesitate to ask them. I had the grilled marinated quail appetizer on arugula with a warm pancetta vinaigrette to start. The quail had perfect grill marks, and the bitter, peppery quality of the arugula complemented the rich flavor of the bird perfectly. The photo you see here is of their goat cheese terrine, which is just lovely. Lighter than you'd expect, and so flavorful with the mint pesto and fig tomato marmalade. My father got a salad. He seemed to be intrigued by a pear in a salad. He doesn't eat at "fancy" restaurants often, despite his rather discerning palate when it comes to Asian foods. My fiancee got a pulled pork crepe, which was excellent. A good blend of sweet and savory.

The entree I selected was the sweetbreads in a whole grain mustard sauce. That's right folks, I went for the offal. Chefs claim you can tell the ability of a chef by what they do with the bad parts of the animal. Well, this place makes me think they know what they're doing. The sauce is a little sweet, and compliments the richness of the sweetbreads. They are lightly crisp on the edges, and buttery. Fantastic stuff. My father's short rib was also wonderful, and you can truly taste and appreciate the beef flavor, not just the sauce. My mother's Moroccan lamb was excellent as well. Perfectly cooked, and just a hint of exotic spice. My fiancee's pork chop was also excellent, but not necessarily something that I'd go out of my way for.

Needless to say, we had dessert. My mother went for the flourless souffle cake, and my fiancee had an excellent duo or sorbets. I had the winning dessert, hands down. It was a milk chocolate panna cotta. The texture was luxuriant, and the flavor was rich, but still managing to be light. I am a huge panna cotta fan, mostly due to texture, and this did not disappoint. This is a dish to be had again and again. I am not even a huge chocolate fan, but the flavor was highlighted, not the heaviness I often feel from chocolate desserts. It may be worth it to go here just for dessert again! I'm sure to return for the food of course, and for some reason, the price doesn't seem to irk me. It's not cheap, but the portions are generous, the service is good (you never need to ask for a water refill, the crumbs are cleaned immediately, and fresh bread is brought out when someone just happens to walk by and notice). It's not pretentious, and that speaks volumes to the place.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cooking as therapy

When I'm tired, over-stressed, and ready to collapse, I find cooking is my new stress-relieving therapy. Usually, at the end of a long day, it's simple foods. Pasta with a little cheese and butter, and a nice mushroom sauce can be tossed together in about 10 minutes. Couscous, with a little care and flavor takes about the same amount of time. Maybe a nice veggie soup, if I have stock on hand already to start from. It forces you to slow down, and wait for the pot to come to a boil, for the butter to melt, and for you to pay attention to something that won't be frustrated with you, grumble, or fuss.

Cooking is excellent therapy. That said, expect to see more blogging from me in the near future, as I can only eat out so much, and well, my yelping will be just a part of what I have to say from here on out.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Lee's Sandwiches - Gotta taste 'em all!

I have a new project that will take me a bit of time. I intend to try every Vietnamese sandwich offered at Lee's Sandwiches. At the one near my home, we have about 17 different kinds. Thus far, I'd had 3, the number 1 combo, the number 2 pork roll, and the number 11 combo. Today, I tried the number 15 shredded chicken. This was a disturbing sandwich to me. The chicken was very very shredded, and it was sweet. Not a taste I'd go for again by choice. I also tried their meatball skewer, and was a bit disappointed. It was like someone had taken the formula for fishcake, swapped in pork, and painted it fuschia before serving. Just a ton of fillers, and not very tasty. There are several things I do like from the sandwich shop, but we'll see occasional updates from me in the comments about new sandwich attempts, and hopefully, this will help you with your purchases.