Monday, March 25, 2013

7x7 Big Eats 2013 - Old Jerusalem Restaurant

Location: 2976 Mission Street, San Francisco, California 94110
Date: Saturday, March 23rd
Food: Stuffed falafel
Price: $1.25 each
Comments: I haven't had many falafels in my lifetime but these were really, really delicious.  The crust is crispy but not oily & the inside wasn't too dense or mushy.  There were whole pine nuts mixed together with the chick peas to add crunch  & the chopped onion on the bottom added moisture.  It's slightly larger than a regular falafel but not as large as I'd expected for a falafel that is supposedly "stuffed".

Monday, March 11, 2013

From the Oven - Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

You know that saying about how when there are too many coincidences it's no longer a coincidence?

Well it was a coincidence that:
  1. I found a really interesting chocolate cake recipe on Pinterest that I was dying to try.
  2. There is Baileys that's been sitting in my fridge for way too long.
  3. Russell has a new food-related toy that I gave him for his birthday that he has yet to try out.
  4. We need to get beer for the house.
  5. St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner!
With all these coincidences in front of me, I had no other choice but to use them to my favor...& make them into not a coincidence.

I had to substitute a couple of the ingredients...
     4 ounces all-purpose flour
     0.6 teaspoon baking soda
     0.25 teaspoon salt
     1.5 ounces all natural cocoa
     5 ounces sugar
     0.5 cup hot chocolate
     4 ounces butter
     0.75 cup Guinness
     1 egg
     0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

Then it's melt, dump, & stir...
     In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, & salt
     In a pot, heat the cocoa, butter, sugar, & hot chocolate until the butter is melted; cook for 10 minutes
     To the chocolate mixture add in the Baileys, whisk in the egg, & then add in the vanilla
     Slowly sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mix everything together until well incorporated
     Pour the batter into a cupcake tin already lined with wrappers
     Bake at 320F for 30 minutes
     Remove cupcakes & put them on a wire rack until they are cooled completely

Makes 12 cupcakes

Theses cupcakes are so good!  I honestly think these are the best things I've ever made out of an oven.  The cupcakes were moist, chocolatey, not too sweet, & end with just a hint of bitterness from the Guinness.  I think the flavors would have been much more balanced if I had used coffee instead of hot chocolate but I didn't have any coffee in the house.  Never did I envision a day when there would be no coffee in my house.  Ugh!  To complete the cupcakes I topped them with a Baileys whipped cream.  I must admit that I didn't make the whipped cream; nor was it made using conventional methods.  The truth is, Russell made the topping by combining heavy whipping cream & Baileys in his fancy siphon food whipper & then aerosolized it by adding in nitrous oxide (N2O).  The whipped cream tasted really strong so I might do a café au lait frosting next time instead.

I wasn't sure what to these cupcakes because someone once told me that Irish car bomb is an offense name.  S/he didn't tell me why & I never figured it out; I still haven't figured it out.  Also, I didn't think this was truly really an Irish car bomb since it lacked the Jameson whiskey.  I want to try & include the whiskey into the recipe next time to accurately represent the drink I've named it after.  Maybe I should half the coffee & replace it with the Jameson.  Or Maybe I should just go with all Jameson!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

7x7 Big Eats 2013 - Nopalito

Location: 1224 9th Avenue, San Francisco, California 94122
Date: Saturday, March 2nd
Food: Caldo Tlalpeño
Price: $10.00
Comments:  I am not sure what I want to say about this soup.  I thought the chicken broth was flavorful but it was too spicy because I left the chipotle pepper in the bowl for too long.  There was plenty of vegetables in the soup but somehow it wasn't satisfying...I think I needed some shredded chicken or some other form of protein in there to make me feel like I had a complete entrée.  The warmed avocado was interesting texturally since the very first sensation is slightly mushy but then it becomes more firm afterwards.  My favorite part of the entire bowl was the cauliflower - the florets were not too cooked & the spice from the broth took away some of the grassy taste cauliflower can have.

Friday, March 1, 2013

From the Oven - Fluffy Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever since I got a Pinterest account months ago, I have been seeing this one pin for fluffy & chewy chocolate chip cookies repeatedly.  Since I was in the mood to make some CCCs & didn't want to make our usual America's Test Kitchen recipe - too labor intensive - I thought I would give this popular recipe a try.

They say the trick lies with the cornstarch...
     0.75 cup unsalted butter, softened
     0.75 cup light brown sugar
     0.25 cup granulated sugar
     1 egg
     2 teaspoons vanilla extract
     2 cups all-purpose flour
     2 teaspoons cornstarch
     1 teaspoon baking soda
     0.25 teaspoon salt
     1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Just dump, stir, & scoop...
     In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter & both sugars until really light & fluffy
     Add in the egg & vanilla extract & blend
     Add in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, & salt into the mixture; mix everything together gently
     Mix in the chocolate chips
     Scoop the dough with a tablespoon & place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
     Bake at 350F for 10 minutes

Makes about 30 cookies

I have made these cookies twice & they turned out good both times.  The first time, I used an electric mixer for all the steps & the cookie dough felt a little dry.  The cookies were fine but it was difficult to scoop.  The second time I made these, I only used an electric mixer to cream the butter & sugar & used a rubber spatula for the rest of the steps.  This time, the cookie dough was more pliable & it spread out a bit more in the oven.  These cookies are not meant to flatten out very much so if they do, it might mean the cookie dough was a little too warm before going into the oven.  Try refrigerating the dough for 20 minutes to firm everything up first.  Also, it helps to make sure that the butter is softened but not too soft.  When it comes to texture, these cookies delivered on the promise & were chewy & fluffy without feeling like it wasn't cooked all the way through.  In terms of flavor, these were nice & not too sweet.  Mine had a weird after taste to them that only I tasted (I asked Russell & my parents; they all said no) which I suspect might have to do with my really old corn starch & baking soda that has been sitting in my cupboard, exposed.  I wish things like baking soda, baking powder, & corn starch would come in resealable packages or come in much smaller quantities because it takes forever to go through one of those things!  But I digress...

I feel that I am @ a cross roads.  While I like these cookies for their texture, they lack that flavor that gets evoked in my mind when someone says "chocolate chip cookies."  Perhaps I will try to substitute cornstarch into my go to CCC recipe & see what happens.  But first I have to go get some new corn starch.