Friday, November 18, 2011

Roquefort Cheesecake, Walnuts, Figs & Red Wine

As my contribution to our family's 1st annual "Pre - Thanksgiving gathering" potluck, Roquefort Cheesecake seemed as a fitting option, and rather reflective of my personality... God forbid I actually create something normal for a change. Well, who wants to be normal? That's boring! ...
So, if you dare (and you should!) here's the recipe for this wonderful, tasty, savory, nutty inventive appetizer.

Roquefort Cheesecake

1/2 C Dry Plain Bread Crumbs
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 C Chopped, Toasted Walnuts

3/4 Lb Roquefort Cheese
1 1/4 Lb Cream Cheese
3 Shallots, minced and sauteed
4 Eggs
2 Tbsp Flour
2 Oz Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Chopped Dill

*Pre-heat oven to 300 Degrees.

*Melt butter in pan, add the bread crumbs until slightly toasted.  Remove from heat and add the walnuts.
Stir the mixture to evenly distribute butter, bread crumbs and walnuts and press into the bottom of a 9 in. Springform pan.

*Cut a a strip of parchment paper 28in X 3in and place this collar around the sides of the pan.

*Blend both cheeses in a food processor until completely smooth and lump free.
add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Place in springform pan and even out the mix.

*Place the springform pan a water bath (make sure the water is hot) and place in the middle rack of a 300 Degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes.

*When done (it will still be jiggly, but it will set as it cools down) turn off the heat and leave in the oven for 30 minutes, then place the cheesecake on the counter, remove the sides of the pan, carefully remove the parchment paper and allow to finish cooling down. (about 1 hr).

Figs & Red Wine

*Place dried figs in small pan along with 2C of red wine, 1/2 C sugar and 1/4C Balsamic Vinegar. 
cook until figs are tender and the sauce has reduced.  Serve on top of Cheesecake.

Serve along side a salad of mustard greens or with mini toasts.


Monday, November 14, 2011

DX Peruvian Restaurant - Santa Ana

After a hard day of shopping and catching up on the gossip with my sister, she decided to take me to this Peruvian restaurant in front of South Coast Plaza called DX Peruvian Restaurant.
Us two, along with her 2 cuttie toddlers choose to sit outside, relax and enjoy some tasty Peruvian cuisine in hopes to drown the gilt of how much we had just spend on the morning's shopping! LOL

The kids had a very traditional simple combo kids eat in Peru called "Salchipapas" ... for those few who don't get the simple compound word (you know who you are!) ... its Salchichas (hot dog wieners mixed with Papas or French Fries)... Nothing mind blowing for sure, but a nice change of pace from the usual suspects in kids menu's I thought.

The adults in the bunch decided on the "Saltado" I choose the Lomo (red meat) and Sis of course the much healthier option, Chicken Breast.

Both combined with an amazing, tasty broth, tangy wedges of tomato, sweet red onions and mixed with french fries and a side of white rice; which really could have been avoided all together, as it didn't add anything to the dish.  If there was a fault, I'd have to say, that would be the only one.
I much preferred the Lomo to the Pollo dish, but nonetheless, both amazing and great value's at $14.95 for the beef and $12.95 for the Chicken options.

Prior to the main dishes, they bring out this bright greens sauce, and bread and trying to decipher what was in the sauce, we realized we consumed all the bread.... and still, had not figured it out. So we resorted to the next best thing... our waitress.  She informed us that the main ingredient was Lettuce!... Lettuce, really?  for a sauce?... wow, OK... that's why we couldn't figure it out... who would think you can make such a tasty sauce with lettuce as a base?... it was really good, not too spicy and very creamy.

Will definitely come back! Check it out for your self. 

Pollo Saltado

Lomo Saltado


Salsa Verde made with Lettuce & Bread

Banh Mi My Tho - Alhambra

After reading so much about these sandwiches (Banh Mi are Vietnamese Sandwiches on a crusty yummy french baguette spread with pate, add some sweet pickled veggies, couple of slices of fresh cucumber and topped off with cilantro and your choice of meat) I had to try one for my self.

The whole sandwich experience was just amazing! the combination of the toasted crunchy french bread, the pate, charbroiled pork and all those fresh toppings were as good as it sounds or better. I really liked the pate in place of any other traditional spread (mayo, etc) and the freshness of the veggies and a little kick from the cilantro... wow! Even my mom who is a self proclaimed "picky" person with international foods or anything that does not sound familiar to her... was 100% on board with these.

Add to that, the fact that they are only $2.50 each for a huge yummy sandwich.  The egg rolls are also amazing and only $2 for 5 of them.  Great seasoning in the pork filling, extreme crunchy-ness bite after bite... these are the type of egg rolls my mom would make (if she made egg rolls) ... and trust me, that is a huge complement to Banh Mi My Tho.  You see, my mom is picky because she's an Amazing cook... so all my standards of comparison are to her cooking... As it should be.

#8 - Charbroiled Pork Banh Mi $2.50

Amazing crunchy pork egg rolls - $2 for 5 of them

#8 Charbroiled Pork Banh Mi - Whole sandwich

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Griddle Cafe - Hollywood, CA

If you have never heard of or been to The Griddle... you are missing out on a total out of body experience, trust me!
It's not for everyone, as it takes lots of patience because the wait is loooonnggg. I saw many people upset about the wait time, even leaving the establishment blurring out a few "bad" words...
Once you get to actually sit, either at the bar, as we did, or at one of the tables, it becomes clear that #1: why the long wait, and #2: you better already know what you're having... because these waiters go a million miles an hr, and to get their attention might be difficult.  However, one you do get their attention, don't worry, they are very nice... they don't bite :)
I witnessed most of the breakfast crowd going solo on the pancakes and not as much sharing as I thought I would see... do these people not know about the pizza sized pancakes... or is it because its Sunday, and no one wants to cook dinner (you can count on left overs for lunch & dinner, trust me!)

Our excuse was the latter... well, that and the fact that it was our first time @ the Griddle, and we each wanted to sample something different.

Here's what we had:

 *A time to love: these were very tasty, really felt like a marriage between your best thanksgiving pumpkin pie and the best buttermilk pancakes. The moistness level was more that of a cake than pancakes, which I didn't mind, but if you are looking for the traditional texture of an original, this is not it. The pumpkin topping was a nice addition, thus no syrup was required.

*The Golden Ticket: My mom ordered these and I was so jelaous!... But of course she shared plenty, but I had my own battle to fight with my "cakes"... These were amazing! yummy banana & brown sugar baked into the pancakes with big walnut pieces with sweet caramel & the streusel giving it a nice additional texture. These feel more like what you would think of as "traditional" pancakes in terms of texture... but with the taste of banana nut bread.  Again, amazing! My favorite of all the ones we sampled.

*Peanut Bubba French Toast: Of course my peanut butter obsessed pre-teen boy had to order these... they were very good, awesome if you love peanut butter... but afterwards he cringed at the slight mention of "peanut butter" ... it was quite funny!

*French Press Coffee:  Both "adults" in the group had the Medium & Dark Roast Coffee respectively.  I think they mixed them up, because the one labeled "Dark Roast" did not taste as such... The Coffee was not as hot as I Like it... and got cold rather quicky.

*Coconut Hot Chocolate: In terms of taste, it was very good, you could really make out the coconut flavor in the hot chocolate... however I was disappointed with this drink as it was very cold at arrival, and beyond sweet. I would choose it again, only if they can remedy these two very important mistakes.

"A Time to Love" Pumpkin Pancake with Streusel, Butterscotch chips, caramel, powdered sugar & whipped cream

This is the "after" ... Hardly a dent!
"The Golden Ticket" Brown Sugar Baked Banana Pancakes with Caramel, Walnuts & Steusel. 

Another unsuccessful attempt to finish this huge Pancakes!
"Peanut Bubba" Yummy french toasts dipped in crunchy Peanut Butter and grilled.  Served with Powdered Sugar & Whipped Cream. (no after picture, but Matt was also unsuccessful at finishing these!)

Hash Browns - I know you must be thinking "are you crazy to order a "side" knowing the size of the main dish?... It was actually a nice change to have something savory to counterbalance the huge sugar rush we were experiencing.

The Griddle was definitely worth the wait, even with the weak coffee and overly sweet & cold Coconut Hot Chocolate... because the Pancakes are amazing!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

P.H.A.T. Pizza - Yorba Linda

Stuffed Crust Pizza - Chicago Style

Going to Chicago in less than 3 weeks, and being as "obsessive" as I am with things :) I couldn't wait...
We found P.H.A.T. Pizza in Yorba Linda, CA through a friend, did some research and thought it was worth the drive to check it out.

Here are a few things about the place:

Ambiance: There is none, you should know its more of a place to call ahead, place your order and pick up.  They do have a few tables, but the place is a whole in the wall, although very clean. (important)

Service:  The service was very good, they were courteous and talkative.  One thing I didn't like was the absence of napkins!... really... its a pizza place... they brought out paper towels... that is sooo not acceptable. Maybe they just ran out.. who knows... but the soda machine was also not working... giving me the feeling that these people are not in a hurry... they'll get to it when they get to it...

Food: here's what we had:

*Thin crust pizza (cheese and pepperoni)
The crust was amazing... although I cannot yet compare to Chicago's.  It was sort of like a short dough, with a nice buttery taste... I've never had a pizza crust like that.  If that is how Chicago's pizza crusts are like... I will for sure be packing my bags more often.
The sauce was just enough and not soup on dough, as most other pizzerias, because I hate when my pizza is drowning in sauce.  (there is an exception of course) and that is when the crust can handle it and when its appropriate for a larger quantity of sauce as in Chicago Style Stuffed or Deep Dish.
There was ample amount of cheese.  A very good thin crust pizza.

*Stuffed Crust: We choose the cheese and sausage (very classic Chicago Combo).  Basically the construction of this massive thing was: crust, cheese, sausage, crust and chunky sauce on top.
I would have liked the sausage to have a more important role in the pizza because I could barely taste it, it was very under seasoned for my taste.  The cheese as in the thin crust was liberally added to the stuffed pie and they did not skimp on this.  The sauce was nice and chunky, very well seasoned, not that sweet tomato-y stuff you get with others...
One thing I will note on the Stuffed Crust is that you sort of loose that buttery, short dough flaky crust you get in the thin crust, because of all the ingredients on top, its harder for the crust to remain moist free.  

Over all, i really liked the pizzas... both the Thin Crust and the Stuffed Crust. Although I didn't like the lack of napkins and soda machine, I would come back for sure because of the amazing pizza's and in the end, they were very nice and courteous.