Friday, October 22, 2010

Christmas Morning French Toast

This is another great recipe from my FSiL (favorite sister-in-law) J9. I swear, everytime I travel to "The Couve" in Vancouver, WA, she makes something totally delicious, to die for, relatively easy, fattening, and I can't live without it another minute. This is one of those. I made it the moment I got home. And I was tempted to take off the "Christmas Morning" part of the title but to honor her, I kept it on because that's how she wrote it in her recipe book.

Yup. That's the recipe! And that's how I am committing it to memory. I took a photo of the front and back page, uploaded it to my iPhoto, uploaded the photos to my evernote and now I'm uploading it here! For all of you (sorry J9, I know you mentioned something about ugly writing but whatevers. Your writing is never anything but beautiful). You prep half the night before and half in the morning. Piece of cake. So to speak.
brown sugar butter before the heat is turned on

I sometimes feel like drinking this. I'm sure that with a little rum it must taste wonderful!

Poured the melted goodness (sans rum) over the bread. I love nuts. I think I put more than the recipe called for. I always do. But I left off the right side because my Kika doesn't like nuts. And I think it was her birthday breakfast.

Can you believe this is the raw state? Don't you just want to eat it already?

Ah. This looks cooked.

It's ready for eating! Nice and puffed up and WARM!

Yummy

Thursday, October 21, 2010

French Apple Tart ala Ina Garten

I had the good fortune, after 18 years of living on Hawaiʻi Island, to go pick apples up on Mana Road near Waimea. My dear friends and I went to the Hakalau National Forest Reserve for the once a year open house and on the way back we stopped somewhere along Mana Road to go pick the apples I had heard about throughout the years.
Finding the right spot was a shot in the dark (our driver wasn't quite sure where to go and directions we were given didn't quite work out right) but we lucked out and not only did we find an apple orchard but there were also PEARS! YES! YOU HEARD ME RIGHT! I know. Most people would not get so excited but seriously, when was the last time you saw a pear tree, a real pear tree, right here. Practically in my back yard.
Don't they look like real apples? They are! Here in Hawai'i!

Our fearless leader, Keoki, also known as our apple picker


My BFF Lisa and her mom, Alice

Me and my bag of apples. I tried not to go overboard. You know. No hoarding allowed. That's why we don't have enough fish in the ocean. Lei making materials on O'ahu. And so on. And so on.

Very long story short: I made a french apple tart. Thank you again, Ina Garten. I heart her. Lots. Click on the link for the recipe. And don't forget to read the comments. Comments are VERY HELPFUL! For instance, several people commented that the sugar leaked out, causing burning and a mess on the pan. So I made sure that my parchment paper was big enough to cover my entire pan. No leaking onto the metal. Yay. Also, someone said to remove the tart right away from the pan. I did that, too. No tart sticking to anything!
Bottom line, it was FABULOUS! I made it twice in one week. Remember, I got a bunch of apples!!! And the second time I made it I didn't have quite enough apricot preserves so I added some liliko'i butter and it came out really great!
pre-baked
Getting ready to put it in the oven. Just sprinkled it with 1/2 cup sugar and dotted it with 1/2 cup of butter.


Fresh out of the oven
It looks edible already


Brushed with apricot rum mixture

Now it's looking extra delectable

I got no complaints on this one




Crust was amazingly flaky. And the "burnt" parts, along some of the edges from the sugar actually added a nice quality to the tart. It was crunchy, tart, sweet, flaky, full of goodness. Especially fresh out of the oven. But even the next day too! Good luck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No Knead Bread

You may have heard of this No Knead Bread, made famous by Mark Bittman in the New York Times a few years ago. He got it from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery (I never heard of it either). I made it a couple of times a while back with success so I decided this past weekend that it would be the perfect accompaniment to our pasta dinner. I won't go into the recipe here because you can get it all over the web. Here is one website called Steamy Kitchen that provided great photos. There are even tons of videos in case you need that extra help.
The bread didn't rise as high as I hoped (I think I'll add 1/2 tsp more yeast next time) but it was still delicious beyond anything I usually make in terms of bread with great crust. And it looked great. Very rustic. And I put some baked peeled garlic cloves in one of the loaves and that went over quite well with my garlic loving family.
After mixing flour, yeast, salt and water you just let it sit. For hours. Overnight is best and then some.

It bubbles up

Quite a phenomenon and you can tell by the smell that it's going to be great

After its long sit you plop it out on a floured surface and shape it into a ball. I put mine in a cloth lined bowl. Next time I will put it into an oiled bowl. Remind me.

I know now to put oil and forgo the floured cloth because the bread STUCK to the cloth when it was time to put it into the HOT pot. Lesson learned.

Doesn't it look GREAT?

This all happened before dinner was even served.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Epicurean Walking Tour in Portland

Let me just say that my life has changed. From now on (and I promise) whenever I visit a big city I will see if they have an epicurean walking tour. Now on to my story...
Every time I go to a city, I take very little time to do any research. I don't know a thing about the city, I don't look at maps, I just fly by the seat of my pants, so to say. But when I went to Denver I met a young gentleman who did SO MUCH research prior and filled his days and nights with such fun activities to which I was allowed to follow along on that I vowed to change my ways. Fast forward a few weeks and here I was ready to embark on a trip to Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. So I actually gave the whole online research thing a stab. And I literally stumbled onto Portland Walking Tours site. Given the choice of 5 options my eyes immediately set sight on the epicurean excursion. SIGN ME UP! It didn't take much to convince my partner in crime, Nani, to go ins with me. We were set. At $59 we got a 3.5 hour walking tour of some of downtown Portland's finest cuisine.
There are two tours: 10 am, which offers more stops but of a lighter array of food samples, and a 2pm, which is more robust but not quite as many stops. We chose the 10 am because, well, I do better in the morning.
Nani and I got a ride to the airport by my favorite sister in law and we caught the Max  to downtown, walked a short couple blocks and ended up at the Heathman Hotel by 9:45 am.
My photos, all done on my iPhone, do not do the tour justice. Hopefully when you are in Portland you will try it yourself.
At the airport ready to head downtown. An all day pass cost less than $5.
On the train! It was obviously a low maintenance no make-up day.

First stop: Cacao. I knew at this point that I was going to love this excursion. Dessert first? HECK YEAH!
I wish I could remember this purveyor's name. He knew all there was to know about growing and processing cacao beans, especially sharing the fact that Hawai'i is the ONLY place in the U.S. of A that can grow cacao beans. Yay Hawai'i!!! And he looked right at me when he said it. Musta been my Kamehameha Volleyball hoodie!
We each had an espresso cup of melted chocolate (with a little added cream). It was the most delicious rich and creamy chocolate goodness my palate has ever tasted. I couldn't believe someone didn't drink all of theirs. FOOLS I tell you.

Stop 2

For a most delicious tomato orange bisque

Third stop on our tour: Courier Coffee. Yup. They deliver coffee to your doorstep. By bicycle. And they are the most environmentally friendly coffee place EVER. The owner did everything in his power to have as negative carbon footprint as possible. Go young man! LOVE OUR EARTH!
That's our fearless leader buying coffee. His name is Chris Murray. I'll never forget him. He was FUNNY, smart and had a mean case of "not able to keep still". And he bought a pound of their coffee and I offered to carry it for him in my nifty carry all bag. He joked and said, "Sure, and if I forget it, you score a pound of coffee, haha!" Guess what? He forgot. Haha.
Who wouldn't love this for their morning drink? It reeks of love.

Our next stop was Pearl Bakery. We got to don cute hairnets.

Don't these two belong in a movie? Straight outta NYC. Put them on Sex and the City.
Here's our group. There were 8 of us plus Chris. He was very animated. Hard to get a picture of his feet or hands NOT moving.
We sampled baguettes, the best croissants ever (and I happen to know that they are NOT from France thanks to Chris' story of the origins of croissants), a wonderful anise flavored dessert and more. All while wearing our cutie hairnets.


By this time I was losing count

We tasted condiments. And had a little wine. Loved it all. Especially the wine. Next time I go to Portland I'm signing up for a cooking class at this establishment. And I'm signing up my in-laws there, too!
Ha!
Tea time! I am not a big tea fan but this came at just the right time!

While they do make gluten free pizza (I would have loved to sample that), ours was not
Hot Lips Pizza was great. We had one slice. It had tomatoes and ricotta. Two of my favorites.
Our last stop. Ice cream. We started and ended with dessert.
giant ice cream maker
Would they really keep top secrets in a RED clearly marked  top secret binder?
Marionberry ice cream. I never would have ordered it but when it was handed to me and I tasted it, I just couldn't believe how delicious it was. Way better than the rich chocolate decadent ice cream below it. I wish I had two scoops of marionberry, my new favorite berry.