Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trophy Cupcake

What started out as a little walk, then turned into the Battle of the Cupcakes!!! I am almost OVER the whole cupcake craze, thinking, "I am so over cupcakes already!" along comes Trophy Cupcake. Not a new player in the Seattle cupcake arena, but I decided long ago, I don't like to support the national chain cupcake places, sorry NY Cupcake, and I love Cupcake Royale...everyone else, "GO AWAY!!"

Not impressed by the Candy Shop look of Trophy Cupcake, lacks a little in character. The cupcakes all lined up in a Stepford Wife sort-of-way, they didn't really appeal to me. My husband went ahead and ordered the Bourbon Eggnog and an espresso, then turned to me and said, "Do you want anything?" My heart said, No, but my eyes said, "Get the Red Velvet!"

My cousin Melissa and her boyfriend Toby were with us so they also ordered the adorable Chocolate Candy Cane cupcake.
OK, the taste test begins... First I sliced the Red Velvet into 4 pieces. In my opinion, dry and too crumbly. Nothing to brag to my sister Maria about, who is a devout Georgetown cupcake devotee and claims has the Best Red Velvet Cupcake on the planet.

Second...MMMMMMMM! Bourbon Eggnog. Moist. Sweet with a slight hint of Bourbon. Hands down winner.

Third, almost forgot, the Chocolate Candy Cane. Wait, wait, wait! The texture of the cake was perfect. Moist, bittersweet chocolate with thick, creamy peppermint frosting.

I am still giving the Bourbon Eggnog the winning "Trophy" for this cupcake tasting. Although the Chocolate Candy Cane was good, the flavor combination on the Bourbon Eggnog was the more original of the two...YUM!
Trophy Cupcakes and Party on Urbanspoon

Artisanal Pizzaria Enoteca

You can sit at the Communal Tables, your own table, or the bar.

Veal Meatballs with pecorino
Aritsanal has many "hot" antipasti that really compliment their pizza. The Veal meatballs were so tender and bursting with flavor!

Neopolitan-style Pizza
Grilled Vegetable with goat cheese and tapenade
Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti with Vin Santo
Do not leave Artisanal without this PERFECT dessert. Not too heavy, not too sweet, just right.

Artisanal Table Pizzeria Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 28, 2009

Filipino Holiday Fruit Salad

Ancient Family Secret Recipe...Shhhhhh!

My dad makes fruit salad for every holiday dinner. Actually, almost every Filipino family has a similar fruit salad on the buffet at most parties. What's in it? Well, there are many versions. Some people add sweetened condensed milk, others add cream cheese, it all depends on the salad maker.

Well, my dad makes the best version and it's delicious every time.

My Dad's Fruit Salad
2 - 16 oz cans of fruit cocktail, drained
1 - 20 oz. can of pineapple chunks, drained
2 - 12 oz can of sugar palm fruit
1 - jar of nata de coco (clear coconut cubes)
1 - jar of jackfruit, sliced
1 - jar of coconut macapuno
1 - jar sweetened shredded coconut
1 tub of Cool Whip

Mix this all together and chill. YUM!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Duck, Duck Goose!

It is no secret that I LOVE roast duck from KauKau in Chinatown. I love the flavors that are infused into the meat and I love the skin. I have wanted to cook duck at home for years, but thought the process would be too complicated. I have been reading cookbooks and, since we are in the Christmas season, watching all the cooking shows that focus on Duck.

I saw Alton Brown's version of 'How to cook duck' on his Mighty Duck episode. After reading over his method and actually being able to see the segment twice. I think I can, I think I can, so here we go!! So, quarter, trim fat, brine, steam, sear in oven, done.

Alton Brown, you are a genius! I followed his recipe exactly. The duck was so flavorful, moist...YUM. OK, a lot of steps, so I won't be making this on any other weeknight, but my fear of cooking duck...gone.
After I had already broken down the duck, made the brine, and had the duck quarters happily brining in my refrigerator, there was a lot of excess fatty skin left. So...I rendered the fat, for Liquid Gold and some cracklin's.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

One Last Bite: Happy Hour at John Howie Steak

Cheese and Charcutterie Plate

Happy Hour Martini

Bacon Sliders and Frites

The Grand Finale: Cheesecake


Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Baking: Gingerbread Cookies

If I saw you today, you got one of these! Oh, the Christmas Tree is not a cookie, it's actually one of my favorite Fitz and Floyd ornaments.

My recipe makes a lot. I make about 20 large cookies and 25 more of several smaller versions. I make a bunch of different cookies and give to everyone on Christmas. I sent the alligators and cocktail cookies to my in laws in Florida to toast the New Year.
Gingerbread Cookies

5 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder.
In an electric mixer bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
Mix in spices, salt, and pepper, and then eggs and molasses.
Add flour mixture on low speed.
Divide dough into thirds; wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees.
On a floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick.
Cut into shapes.
Transfer to baking sheets lined with silpat or parchment; freeze until firm, 5 minutes.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

Cool on wire racks and decorate.

Snowflakes, Ornaments, and a martini...YUM!
Off to Florida with these gators, to deliver cocktails to my in laws.

My friend, Jin Jin, just picked up a few of these for her and her family.
Aren't they lovely little cookies!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Dessert: Rustic Pear Tarts with vanilla ice cream

Rustic Pear Tarts with vanilla ice cream

1 sheet (about 10 by 12 in.) frozen puff pastry (14-oz. package), thawed

2 or 3 firm-ripe pears, such as Bosc or Comice

About 1/3 cup orange marmalade

1 large egg, beaten to blend

About 2 tbsp. turbinado sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out pastry to 16 by 18 in. Cut pastry in thirds lengthwise and in half crosswise. With a wide spatula, transfer the 6 rectangles to baking sheets.
2. Core pears and cut into thin wedges. Arrange, slightly overlapping, on pastry rectangles, leaving a 1 1/2-in. border bare (angle slices if necessary). Warm marmalade in a microwave oven to melt, then brush over pears. Fold border over edge of pears, stretching slightly and pressing down to hold. Brush new edges with egg, then sprinkle turbinado sugar over tarts, especially pastry edges.
3. Bake until pastries are richly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve tarts warm or cool, with vanilla ice cream.

*I added dried cherries to 2 of the tarts and used cherry jam instead of the orange marmalade. YUM!

Christmas Eve Dinner: The Salad

Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola, Candied Pecans, Dried Cranberries and a Poppyseed Vinaigrette

Poppyseed Dressing

1 cup raw honey
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 cups unrefined oil
8 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons minced onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon, rind of, grated

Christmas Eve Dinner: The Starters

Calamari, Tomato and Caper Salad
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
This salad was a big hit! We will definitely be making this again and again. We bought our squid or calamari at the Pike Place Market and I cleaned the squid myself.

Also, we used canned San Marzano tomatoes since fresh tomatoes are not good this time of year.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound calamari, cleaned, sliced into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 lemon, zested
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the salad: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Season the calamari with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Saute, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the mixture in a colander.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, capers, and lemon zest until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Transfer the calamari mixture to a serving bowl. Pour in the dressing and gently toss until all the ingredients are coated. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
One other little Yummer I served was these bite-sized latkes with my housemade gravlax, sour cream, chives and a little caviar.

Christmas Eve Dinner: The Vegetable

Roasted Root Vegetables

1½ hours 20 min prep
2 lbs root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (use potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, beets)
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the root vegetables and onion in a roasting pan.
Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and salt to taste.
Do not crowd the vegetables.
Roast the mixture for a total of 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
After 30 minutes, scatter the garlic cloves in with the vegetables.
Continue stirring every 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and evenly browned.

Chrismas Eve Dinner: The Roast

New York Beef Roast
about 8 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 New York Roast (about 7 to 8 pounds)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and arrange a rack in the lower third.
Combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, rosemary, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Rub the mixture all over the roast and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
Arrange the roast in a large roasting rack, bone side down. Roast until the meat is nicely browned, about 25 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and roast for another 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check the internal temperature registers 115 to 120 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.)
Remove the roast from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and transfer to a serving platter.

Holiday Appetizers: Cheddar Olive Poppers

Santa, you're goning to love these Poppers!!!
Sesame Cheddar Olive Poppers
— Adapted from "Dishing with Kathy Casey"
Makes about 24 poppers

1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted flour
Dash cayenne pepper
1 jar (about 24) medium-Black olives, drained

1. Beat the cheese and butter together in a mixer or a food processor, then stir in the flour and cayenne.
2. Shape 1 heaping tablespoonful of dough around each olive, covering it well and forming the dough into a ball.
3. P lacethe balls on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Christmas Eve Dinner: Breaking Bread

No matter what time of year I come here, at Le Panier, there is always a line, but I don't mind. This way, I have a chance to decide what to order. A Baguette of course, hmmm, do I get a Pain de Chocolat for later? Well on the day before Christmas Eve, I knew exactly what I was getting from Le Panier; 2 Demi Baguettes, a Brioche Nantaise for Christmas Breakfast, and every flavor of the French Macrons...mmmm!

OK, I'm getting closer.

Yummy Brioche...

I'll see you at breakfast with Nutella and coffee from my French press on Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas to Le Panier.

What would Seattle do without you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Break: Happy Hour at Artisanal

OK, things are really getting nutty now. I squeezed in a workout this morning, grabbed Breakfast at Whole Foods while searching for Hammond's Candy Canes, then off to the Pike Place Market for more stuff I need for Christmas Eve Dinner. Ugh!
Take a break from the Holiday madness, stop by Artisanal in the Bravern. Start with a Sazerac!

Oysters: Baker's Dozen
Amuse Bouche: Prawns
There's no better way to enjoy prawns!

Cheese Bites
OK, the best little Grilled Cheese sandwich in the world!

Frites. You just need to have them...

YUM. YUM. YUM...The Clam Pizza!


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