Crème de la Crème

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I always ask for a dessert menu. No matter how stuffed or full or chewed out I am, there is always room for dessert. And when that menu comes around, subconsciously I always want crème brûlée to be on it. If it’s on there, I’ll get it. If not, the closest runner up is a brownie sundae (I’m addicted to sweet things, as you well know). If both of those are missing, I will make a pouty face and slowly push back the menu. So when we got invited to a dinner party last week, the first thing that popped into my head to make was the dessert I am always looking for on the menu (and in true LHC fashion I made them in mini tart tins).

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This famously delicious dessert has only four ingredients; cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. And how just those four things can come together to make something so tasty I will never understand, but it’s good every time and it isn’t too hard to make.

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I followed this recipe and added a couple of modifications of my own. The first being I halved the recipe because of my little tins, I only had twelve, and it worked beautifully.

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I also couldn’t find vanilla sugar (and didn’t have time to make it) so I used regular sugar in the crème and on top.

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And I don’t know about you but I don’t keep a blowtorch on hand (I kind of wish I did), so I threw the tins under the broiler for a minute to get that signature sugar crust. My last tidbit, is that I would urge you to use a real vanilla bean, even though they are a little bit pricey. The bean flavor is just so much better, and you get the pretty black specks in the crème.

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And there you have your deliciously creamy, custardy dessert that tastes just as good as any restaurant dessert menu.

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Tres Leches

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My friend is moving to Amsterdam, I know, it’s terribly far away, I think so too. And he is going for at least six months (probably more) so to ‘whatever the opposite of celebrate’ is, we had that type of dinner party for him last night. He requested Mexican food  – because apparently Amsterdam doesn’t do that food genre very well (I wouldn’t last a second) – and everyone brought their favorite taco topping.

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Me having the sweet tooth that I do, and my love of themes led me to these adorable (and seriously delicious) tres leches cupcakes. You know me and my bite sized obsession, so instead of a cake, or regular sized cupcakes I made mini ones.

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Tres Leches literally means three milks and there are literally (not figuratively) three different milks needed for this recipe. You mix them together to create the glaze that soaks into the cake and then top it off with more milk in the form of whipped cream frosting.

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I used this recipe and they were really tasty. There are so many recipes out there that it is hard to pick, but I whichever one you do go with I would recommend two things. 1 – Sift all of your ingredients first to make the batter extra smooth, mine was a little lumpy and 2 – definitely refrigerate overnight.

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If you dont have time to refrigerate these overnight then I wouldn’t go with this dessert. It’s time consuming but well worth the wait. The overnight helps the glaze seep into the fluffy cake and the result is the most moist cupcake I have ever tried!

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Sad to see my friend go, but glad I tried these little cakes. They are my new mexican themed dessert! What are you go-to dessert recipes?

Farmer’s Market

It’s a little rainy here today, and a little snowy and icy in other places so I thought I’d share some pictures from the warmer days (or just last week in SF).

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The Ferry Building is a SF icon, she sits at the aquatic entrance to the city, right next to the Bay Bridge (remember the lights) and is a welcome sight to all. Not only is the Ferry Building a huge commuting center for the city by the bay, it’s also home to some of the coolest little shops and restaurants, as well as a pretty famous farmers market (rated one of the top farmers markets in the nation).

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The market is a popular tourist attraction but it’s also full of locals doing their weekly grocery shopping. Out front are all the veggies and fruits and daily shopping needs.

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They have local honeys (good for allergies) and huge baskets of fresh flowers.

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Out back is where you get the good stuff. There are food stalls and food trucks full of amazing snacks. We stopped at Craftsman and Wolves for and egg muffin – to. die. for. Amazing bacon, cheddar chive muffin holding a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg!

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We also stopped at Miette for a macaroon, because it was Saturday and why not have one, or three for breakfast?

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As you wander down the aisles of tents and food stalls you are greeted by all the fresh colors and friendly sounds of local growers and sellers and buyers. Everyone is smiling in the sunshine buying their bread for the week or their hummus for their dinner party. It makes for a perfect start to a sunny Saturday morning.

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Make Eat Easy – Part I

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YOU GUYS – there is a seriously cool new company that you need to try out. It’s called Make Eat Easy and it does just that! This great SF based company allows you to pick and choose delicious, and fancy looking/tasting/sounding meals (all of the above) to try at home – but the best part is that they do all the work for you!

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First, you go to their website and select the kind of meal you want, and for how many people. They have appetizers, brunch items, dinner items and dessert items. Then you order your ingredients and pick a day for the package to get delivered. You can also add in tools you might need to make the meal, like a  mortar and pestle or a pastry brush (really handy gadgets that I never think to buy, but always need).

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Now, prepare yourself for my gushing because this is basically the coolest thing ever. The folks at Make Eat Easy took a good idea and made it great. I picked out what I wanted, they delivered everything to my door and all I had to do was stir the ingredients together and cook it a little bit. It’s simple and convenient, fresh, fast and (wait for it) actually really tastey.

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The tastey part I wasn’t expecting. I thought it would be easy and fast, but not as delicious as it turned out to be.  I ordered an appetizer and a dessert to make. The appetizer will get it’s own post next week because it took 10 minutes to make and it looks like something Martha Stewart made. But for now, let’s talk dessert and let’s talk pizza.

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I chose to make the berry pizza, mainly because I had never made one and I was intrigued.  It kind of felt like I was eating dessert for dinner! And when they say they make eating easy, they mean it. The ingredients come in clearly labeled, pre-measured containers – all you need to do is add them together in the right order and stir (fo reals, that easy).

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You can get the recipe for the berry pizza here (along with all of their free recipes) and let me tell you – berries + cream cheese + pita bread = mind blown. Such simple ingredients and so little time should not have made something this delicious, but it did! If you live in the Bay Area and want to try something new for dinner or make dinner for friends try MakeEatEasy, and cook smart – you will not be disappointed!

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All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween is here my friends, and it literally snuck up on me, and was like “BOO!!” But really though, just a second ago it was the first day of summer and now all of a sudden it’s the end of October. Time flies, and now it’s time for pumpkins and CANDY! I’m so lame I didn’t even have time to carve a pumpkin. But I would have done this – for SURE, because I can’t stop, and I won’t stop…

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My costume creative juices are just as lame as my pumpkin carving juices. My thinking was that I couldn’t beat last year’s (toddlers in tiaras and Colonel Sanders) costume, so I didn’t even try.

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While my pumpkin and costume may be lacking in creativity but I did scrape together some tastey trick or treats! I’ve seen multiple versions of these – some pumpkins, some witch hats, some ghosts, heck you can mould rice krispies into anything – so I thought it would be cute to make a Frankie and Mummy version.

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Well, to be honest – the mummy versions came about because I forgot to put in the green food coloring and then was like OH SHIZ what am I going to do with all of these. But they turned out to be cute.

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These spooky snacks were really easy to make, I just followed the krispie treat recipe on the box and added food coloring (second time’s a charm), eyeballs, and then either added more marshmallow for the mummies or dipped the tops in chocolate for Frankie. And if I were dressed as a skeleton I would have said “BONE Appetite!” (ba dump dump tsss). Sorry, Halloween makes me cheesey and nostalgic, no more candy for me…

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What are you all being for Halloween this year? Some good ones I’ve seen today were a 6’4” tooth fairy man, a guy in a suit with an “I’m Sorry” poster attached (a formal apology), a cat lady, and a Teletubby. Hope your costumes and pumpkins and treats are super spooky! Happy Halloween friends!!!

Spam

So you know that meat product that comes in a can – SPAM – well its delicious. I thought you guys should know, because I just tried it at Ono Gridnz and it was really tastey. Tastier than I thought it would be honestly (meat out of a can = questionable). My sister was visiting from Tahoe and she used to live in Hawaii so she loves all of the treats from there. She was dying for some Musubi (whatever that is) and asked us to try out Ono Grindz.

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We ordered way more than we needed to but everything looked and sounded so good (and in our defense, we were really hungry). For starters we ordered the mac and cheese, tuna poke with chips and musubi. Musubi, for those non-spam eaters, is spam sushi. It’s cooked spam on top of rice wrapped in seaweed.

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The mac and cheese was one of the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve had my fair share). It had spam in it (are you sensing a theme here) and zucchini. The spam was the perfect amount of saltiness to bring out the cheese flavor and the soft zucchini pieces added texture and flavor that made this mac rise above the rest.

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I love raw fish, how I survived for so long without it, I will never know. Now I am making up for it, ordering it whenever I can. Tuna is my favorite, and the poke was just perfect. The sauce was flavorful enough but not overpowering and the crunch and salt of the potato ships worked perfectly with the fish.

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After the three appetizers (more like entrees) we moved on to dinner. We ordered the katsu club, kalua pig sandwich, and the spam saimin. The best of the three, in my opinion, was the kalua pork.

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It was melt in your mouth soft and had a great flavor. The bun was a perfect vehicle for the soft pork and crispy cabbage and tangy slaw. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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The katsu club (I want it to be called katsu klub) was really good too. Totally different from the pork. It was a crispy fried chicken sandwich what was the perfect amount of crunchy and had a good amount of veggie flavor from the avocado, tomato and slaw.

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The third entree we ordered was the spam saimin (saimin = noodle soup). Let me tell you, this is the dish that changed my mind about spam. The grilled spam with the noodles was to die for. And dying for canned meat may sound weird but this spam was so soft and salty and when paired with the soup it was the best combination of flavors and textures. How could you not die for that cute smile?

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Oh, did I mention that after sharing basically six entrees between three people we also got dessert? Well, we did. We got the chocolate haupia pie, which they serve at McDonald’s in Hawaii (questionable again, but it didn’t disappoint). Chocolate mousse on top, with a coconut layer and then a graham cracker crust on the bottom, it has everything you want in a dessert.

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Ono Grindz is definitely a place you should try out. Everything we had was amazing, I don’t think they have the ability to make something not amazing here. Apparently they started out as just a brunch place – done and done. We will be back.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

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Summer isn’t necessarily warm here in SF, its know to be foggy and cold until our actual summer comes in October. So while the rest of the country (and state) is feeling warm and summer-like I decided to make my own taste of summer with these Strawberry Lemon Bars. I’m a huge fan of strawberry lemonade and that combo in general (see here) so I thought this would be a great start to summer treat.

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These are definitely sweet and sour. I juiced about 4 lemons and used the zest of three. That pop of sunshiney taste is what I was looking for!

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The recipe is very simple, and this is such an easy summer snack with just a couple of ingredients.

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It kind of looks like a strawberry deep dish pizza.

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I love this combination of flavors because at first its sweet, then its a shock of sour and it really excites the taste buds! It’s also a great dessert for summer BBQs and picnics.

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Friday’s Favs

Karl the Fog has rolled into SF, and the June gloom has set in. What is different this year, or what I always forget, is that he comes in the morning,  blanketing the city but then by 1 pm he is gone and has left a beautiful sunny day. This week was full of sunny surprises, sunshine everyday, beautiful sunsets and bright summer flowers!

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Funnel cake is my weakness, it’s not a successful day at an amusement park without it.

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Pretty peonies, I saw the color and bought two bouquets they were so gorgeous!

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A co-worker visiting from Japan brought these for my team – so cute!

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I totes need this (get it?)

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Pretty sunset from this week, hope you have a colorful weekend!

Foreign Cinema

I love chicken – especially when it’s fried and in finger form. I was notorious for ordering chicken fingers every single time we went out to eat when I was little – even on vacation, which meant multiple chicken finger meals a day. I still love it (as you can see here and here) and I love trying it at different places to see their take on it. If you are a fried chicken fan and you have not been to Foreign Cinema – stop what you are doing, go down to the Mission and order it – STAT!

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I had a friend visiting this past week and I had heard a lot of good things about Foreign Cinema so we decided to try it out. For appetizers we got a cheese, a meat and a fish. The cheese was baked goat cheese with lavender and cardamom strawberry relish. It was such a burst of different flavors in your mouth, it was very satisfying. The warm cheese spread over the toasty bread had such an earthy salty taste to it.

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The beef carpaccio was delicious! It was presented in such a unique way too, they spread the meat out paper thin on the plate and you scraped it off with the BBQ flavored chips they served with it.

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My favorite of the appetizers (I think I’m addicted to raw fish) was the sea bass ceviche. It was served on these little tostadas with avocado and crema and it was like a bite of heaven. It was juicy and creamy and salty and citrusy – heaven I say.

For dinner (yes there is more) we split the risotto – not the most photogenic of foods – and the fried chicken, you may have heard me reference it before.

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The risotto was good, I’m partial to my dad’s version but it was pretty tastey.

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Nothing compares to the chicken though. I would venture to say it is the best fried chicken (by it self) that I have ever had, and trust me, I have had a lot of fried chicken. It came plated with a little hummus with spiced baby carrots and honey and sesame seeds. What made this chicken different from all the rest is the subtle sweet curry flavor from the batter. It was not dry, it had amazing flavor and the crunchy outside was perfect.

Ok enough drooling for now – you can’t celebrate seeing an old friend without dessert so we got these two gems – an apricot blackberry turnover with caramel and pistachio dusting on top (mini hand pies with great buttery dough)

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– and the chocolate pot de crème with caramel popcorn. Don’t know about you but I have never had a bad pot de creme. It’s just too good of a combination of things to turn out bad.

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This place is definitely a special occasion spot but it is absolutely worth it! PS. Get the fried chicken…

Macaroon Making Class

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Two things you should know about me –  1.) I’m addicted to sweet things, 2.) I love to bake – they go hand in hand. I like to cook too, but baking is really where it’s at. I like to consider myself as a pretty adventurous and advanced baker but when it came to macaroons I was a little afraid to try it. All of the recipes have such specific temperature and timing rules, and add in  the fact that I don’t have a convection oven (which apparently is where most people go wrong) I just stayed away from them all together.

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So while looking for patisserie school classes (always in the back of my mind) I found this great workshop. Baking Arts is a single class workshop that teaches you how to bake various things. You can choose from so many classes like cake decorating, or pie making or fondant rolling – I chose macaroons, to get over my fear.

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The class was amazing! Richard, the instructor, took us through all the meticulous steps before we went to do it on our own. The process is very temperature and time sensitive so it requires a lot of attention to detail.

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The class size is small, there were only six of us so he could walk around and help us with each step and with recognizing when the folding was done or when the temperature and texture were just right.

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You could fill these things with anything and make so many different colors and flavors. In Paris they literally have every shade of every color in every size and crazy flavor. We filled ours with chocolate, or caramel or coconut or a combination of the three.

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I forgot to mention that they were DELICIOUS too! If you are looking for a fun baking class try one of these, it was so great, I want to go back again! Cheers to a sweet weekend!

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