Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Brownies: Cakey or Fudgie

Brownies come in all shapes and sizes. A brownie is not cake and it is not fudge, but something in between. I like brownies a bit chewy with an intense bittersweet flavor. However, some days I like brownies cakey but they have to have a solid semi-sweet chocolate frosting. So what am I saying? All brownies are not created equal.

My husband makes a great brownie. He uses the recipe on the Ghirardelli chocolate baking bar for Classic Chocolate Brownies. Semi-sweet chocolate is used in this recipe, so if you love milk chocolate over dark, you'll love this brownie. Perfect texture, chocolaty, and delicious.

When I can find them, I like the Chocolate Chunk Brownie from Dancing Deer Baking Co. This brownie is fudgie in the middle and a little crunchy on top and on the bottom. The shelf life for the Dancing Deer brownies must be long, because I hid some from myself, found them later and still YUM!

Recently, I was introduced to Trixie Bakes brownies. I have mentioned Trixie Bakes before and since they have become a favorite in my house. Creative flavor combinations and Rich with an intense chocolate flavor. Trixie Bakes brownies are more like a "chocolate torte" brownie. Perfect ending to a great meal and espresso or as an anytime treat with a tall glass of milk.

Trixie Bakes: Photo taken by my talented nephew, Zachary.
I recently bought a couple Trixie Bakes brownies from the Madrona Farmer's Market. I bought the Dulce de Lecherous and the Nut-orious. We usually slice little pieces off until they are gone, well...they were gone fast.

Yesterday I decided to make a batch of brownies with my own "no fail" recipe.

My Fudge Brownie

Thisis what you need:
3.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (78% cacao)
1.5 oz. Ibarra sweetened Mexican Chocolate

1 cup unsalted butter

1.5 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 lg. eggs, beaten until frothy

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Here's what you do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease a 13" x 9" baking pan.

Melt chocolate and butter.

Sift sugar and salt, and then add eggs and vanilla.

Blend by hand the chocolate mixture and the sugar-egg mixture.

Add sifted flour, and then fold in walnuts.
Put the mixture in the greased pan and then in the oven for 25 minutes. Take the brownies out and pour the chocolate chips on top evenly. Put back in the oven for 2 minutes. Take the brownies out and spread the chocolate like frosting. Let the brownies cool completely.

Slice and Eat!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Elvis: Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins

The Elvis: Peanut Butter & Banana Muffin
This muffin was inspired by Elvis Presley's favorite sandwich, fried peanut butter and banana, not the healthiest choice. I have incorporated a few ingredients that put a healthy slant on this favorite flavor combination.

The Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Muffin

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 cup old fashion oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 T unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 lg. egg
1/2 cup milk
3 mashed bananas
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients.
Blend the wet and dry ingredients in a large bowl, by hand. Put muffin batter in 12 muffin tin, paper lined, and then top with Topping. Bake for 20 minutes.

1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 T butter, melted
2 T dark brown sugar
Mix all ingredients together.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Artisanal Brasserie and Wine Bar

Artisanal Brasserie and Wine Bar The food at Artisanal is so far so GOOD!!!
I have to be fair and say, "I did not have dinner at Artisanal", however I did meet my husband there for Happy Hour. I am only saying this because from the reviews I have read, the service in the dining room must be better. I had arrived a bit late after rushing from the Madrona Farmer's Market and hitting traffic on 520...ugh. Anyway, John had already been there long enough to finish his Manhattan. I ordered Prosecco, which was on the HH menu.
I couldn't help but overhear the complaining from the couple next to me. I couldn't figure out what they were saying exactly, but they were not happy. OK, I shouldn't have, but I peeked over at their comment card, after they left. I noticed "slow" and "dirty glasses", then the bartender took the comment card away. Hmm. I told John what I read and he volunteered that he had ordered his second drink a long time before I had arrived and that the people next to me had ordered food long ago and they had waited a long time for their wine. Well, I can only judge my own experience, right?
I wasn't too hungry, but John needed something for dinner. We ordered the cheese & charcuterie plate to start. I ordered the French Onion Soup and John got the Moules & Frites. Everything was great, even the bread and butter!
Can't complain, much. The bar was full of techie-types. This is not unusual in the Northwest, except, the Bravern is NICE, with NICE stores and NICE eateries. OK, also, it was Friday, maybe "casual" Friday for some. I guess what I am saying is, sometimes, the patrons ruin the scene. Other than the few obnoxious patrons, the bartender couldn't explain the menu without referring to his Cheat Sheet, at least he gave accurate information. I figure when you sit at the bar, service is a little different. I think there was only one bartender, however, there was a lot of service staff around. My only REAL service complaint was that my water was not refilled until after we had already paid our bill.
Again can I say, "The food was great!!!" We'll go back for sure to check out the Dining Room experience.
Cheese & Charcuterie: Spec, Coppa and 2 goat cheeses (description bellow)

some cheeses featured from their HUGE selection

French Onion Soup. I didn't think any place could make this better that Cafe Presse, but...

Moules and Frites, make sure to dip the bread in every drop of the broth...mmm!

Artisanal Brasserie & Winebar on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 25, 2009

Steak de Burgo: A Great Steak in a flash!

Steak de Burgo, an Iowa favorite
OK, I have never been to Iowa and I had never eaten Steak de Burgo. I signed up to be a home recipe tester for America's Test Kitchen and Steak de Burgo was my first assignment. Exactly, What? Why didn't I get a chic French recipe? Well, I didn't want to be taken off America's Test Kitchen's roster, so Steak de Burgo, here I come!

Voila! To my surprise, Steak de Burgo was delicious. I have to admit, I read the ingredients many times and (yawn) I was not excited. This is the easiest steak preparation ever!
I will make this again, for sure. Easy, Fast, Delicious!
Season the steaks on both sides
YES, wine, heavy cream and butter...the start of a great sauce!

Sear it!

Steak de Burgo
from America's Test Kitchen

Serves 4
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
4 center-cut tenderloin steaks, about 1½ inch thick
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup white wine
2 garlic cloves, halved
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1. SEAR MEAT Combine dried oregano, garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with oregano mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook steaks until well browned and meat registers 125 degrees for medium-rare, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and tent with foil.

2. MAKE SAUCE Pour off excess fat from skillet. Reduce heat to low, add wine and garlic and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, about 1 minute. Whisk in butter, heavy cream, fresh basil, and oregano, and simmer about 1 minute. Return steaks along with any juices to the pan, turning to coat. Serve.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Eggs: Duck vs. Chicken

Organic Duck Egg vs. Naturally Nested large egg
Studies say there is no difference in taste between chicken and duck eggs. Well, I have to say, I am picky about my chicken eggs, I prefer the Naturally Nested large eggs. Eggs have got to be better from a happy vegetarian chicken who roams around freely in her newly remodeled cage free chicken condo. I will buy the Omega 3 eggs, but I don't really believe the hype and am reluctant to pay the price. My naturally nested eggs are from vegetarian fed chickens, so the omega 3 are better because the chickens get flax seeds? I eat flax seed, so I'm not missing anything.
OK, here's the REAL deal. My friend Andrew gave me 2 organic chicken eggs with beautiful blue shells and 1 duck egg. I fried 1 chicken egg and 1 duck egg in a combination of unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil. I burst the paler and smaller chicken egg yolk and it was fine. Silky, smooth, yum. OK, the Duck yolk was bigger and better. The texture was silky and smooth, but much thicker. YUM. I saw organic chicken eggs at the Broadway Organic Farmer's Market and I think the duck eggs were $3.00 each...kind of a lot for one egg. I have to say, I wouldn't bake with duck eggs, because they are bigger and weigh more, might mess up your recipe. However, if you're going to have an egg, have a DUCK EGG!!! It's worth every penny.

My blue eggs look white on my black granite counter

Can you tell these are blue?

2 Blue Organic Eggs

One lonely blue organic egg and brown Omega 3 eggs

Not your grannie's pork chops and apple sauce

Tender, juicy and so delicious

Baked Country Style Pork Ribs

2 pounds country style pork ribs
2 T John's Cajun spice rub
1/2 cup BBQ Sauce (I used B Man's BBQ Sauce)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
marinate the pork for 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the ribs in a shallow roasting pan. Mix the other ingredients and pour over the ribs. cover the pan with aluminum foil and put in the oven for 1 hour. Baste the ribs after an hour and put back in the oven for 1 more hour. Take out of the oven and let sit for 15 minutes.

forget the applesauce, these sauteed apples are awesome

Sauteed Apples and Onions

1/4 lb bacon
1 lb apples, sliced
1 lb onions, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)

Chop bacon in small pieces and fry on medium high heat. Remove bacon from pan and save bacon. Reserve 1 T bacon grease. Brown the onions until golden brown and then add sliced apples. Saute apples until they are soft and cooked through. At this time you can add the brown sugar.

Add the bacon back and serve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Double Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffins

Double Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffin
This is similar to the Chocolate Zucchini Muffin, but my son had a request for banana walnut muffins, so I decided to make it a little better...CHOCOLATE!
Double Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffin Recipe
2 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, melted
½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup ripe banana, mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 T wheat germ
1 T crushed flax seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar, butter, and yogurt. Add the 1/3 cup cocoa, vanilla, bananas and stir well. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and the other 1/3 cup cocoa. Mix until just moist. Add chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins until full. Put muffins in the oven, set timer for 20 minutes. Wait...Smell...take out of the oven.

Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Monday, September 21, 2009

John's Flatbread...and he cooks!

Yet another reason I stay married. My Husband cooks!!! I don't mess around with yeast, but my "stick to the recipe" husband doesn't think it's a big deal. While I was prepping my roast chicken he said, "I'm going to make flatbread!" Hmmm, I thought, right!

Focaccia al Formaggio
He's cute and makes a mean Manhattan!
Here's the dough, fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese

Focaccia al Formaggio
(Flatbread with Cheese)

Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
1 egg beaten with 1 T water
5 oz each grated Parmesan & Mozzarella
or 10 oz Gorgonzola, crumbled
fresh oregano leaves
chopped fresh basil
chopped fresh parsley
5 green onions, chopped
extra virgin olive oil

Here's what you do.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F
Roll dough as thin as possible and put on a pizza stone or greased pizza pan. Brush with egg wash. Crumble cheese on top, then sprinkle with fresh herbs, green onions, and a little olive oil. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Cut into small pieces and Enjoy!

Pizza Dough:
1/2 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Dissolve yeast in water. Add other ingredients and knead until elastic. Let rest a few minutes before rolling out, VERY IMPORTANT. (No rising is required.)

This was so good I took a bite before taking a picture!

Tyler's Ultimate Roast Chicken with herbed mushrooms

I am still trying out all the Tyler Florence recipes. I snapped a pic right before my husband and son demolished the chicken. I got the recipe for the Roast Chicken right off the Food Network website. The only change was that I put 6 full ribs of celery under the chicken before roasting and I also put 1 whole quartered onion in the roasting pan. The celery, onions and mushrooms pair well with the chicken and flatbread. Great dinner, I'll make this again. Actually, it's so easy to put this meal together, John & Tyler can make this meal next time!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sushiman, Issaquah, WA

"Real" Crab California Rolls

Family dinner and no one is cooking. We had been talking pizza all night, but decided on Japanese. We didn't feel like driving into Seattle and we didn't want to go to any Bellevue Japanese places either. Tonight, we were not in the mood for sushi, however, we ended up at Sushiman. For some reason, we didn't know if Sushiman was still in business, not because anything was wrong with the place, but because the economy has forced so many restaurants to close.

Fortunately, Sushiman was open for business. Sushiman himself was behind the sushi bar. Not many people there for a Staurday night, but better than some places. The lighting was dark, as usual, I like that about Sushiman. They have created several private tables in such a tiny space.


I ordered the Shiosaba: Grilled Makerel, daikon, gyoza, and rice, also came with miso. My dinner was pretty good. The makerel was nice and fatty. I skipped the rice since I am avoiding carbs. However, I did have 1 piece of the California Roll. I didn't order the sushi, but my son likes California rolls.


My son got the chicken Yakatori-Don. It smelled good. He ate the whole bowl, so thumbs up.

My husband got the beef version of my son's meal. Honestly, his food looked a little boring. He didn't eat the whole thing, so he either hated it or he wasn't hungry. Who knows!
An ex-Mariner, Norm "The Sheriff" Charlton, came in with 3 other people. For those of you who remember the late 1990's glory days of the Mariners. Anyway, I noticed that the prices seemed a little high compared to some other Japanese places on the Eastside and Seattle too. Not a big deal. Japanese ain't cheap. I wasn't that hungry, not drinking and I wasn't having sushi, so I was a cheap date. We use to go to Sushiman a lot. If it wasn't for all the conveyor belt sushi places, with their instant food on demand, we'd probably go more often. We'll be back. 1000 times better than any conveyor belt.

670 NW Gilman Blvd Ste B1
Issaquah, WA 98027

Sushiman on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fun Stuff: Chocolove - Chilies & Cherries in Dark Chocolate

I am very loyal to good chocolate, but when I want a little adventure I turn to Chocolove. I was in The Chocolate Box, near the Pike Place Market in Seattle looking for trouble and there it was, the Chilies & Cherries in Dark Chocolate. This chocolate bar is not meant to eat all at once, but savored. I'm not saying you can't sneak this little devil into the movies with you, but you may get distracted. Sweet, hot, sweet, HOT! So good.

OK, it's not for everyone, but if you feel the need to stray from your "go to" chocolate bar, go for it!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wasabi Bistro, Seattle

When they ask if you want 3 or 6 piece, the 6 piece Hamachi Sashimi is $17.00.

I love Seaweed and Seafood Salad, here's what you get for $7.00.

It's been awhile since I've been to Wasabi Bistro, but sashimi sounded like a good idea on this warm Seattle day. Not in the mood for conveyor belt sushi and I wasn't sure if UMI or SHIRO's was open. Well, I don't remember ever disliking Wasabi Bistro, but it's not always on my radar for some reason.

Parking was a problem today because the streets have been torn up all around 2nd Ave in Belltown. No problem finding a spot on 1st Ave. A little walk up the block and then past the Pimp & Ho Show on 2nd Ave, and there we were. Nothing much has changed. Cool decor, funky Japanese touches, I always liked the looks of Wasabi Bistro. Nice staff, not a lot of people eating at 1:30pm.
Sashimi Bento and a Kirin Ichiban $13.00 & $5.00

We sat at the sushi bar, only one other person sitting there. Service was good...not busy. I'm not eating carbs right now, so no rice or beer for me. I ordered a la carte; hamachi sashimi and seafood & seaweed salad. My meal was good. The Hamachi was super fatty and the seaweed salad was good. John ordered the Sashimi Bento which came with miso, six pieces of assorted sashimi and rice, but the rice never came, oh, John had a beer too.
2311 2nd Avenue, Seattle
Japanese food is never a bargain, the Lunch Bento was a better choice today. We'll definitely come back to Wasabi Bistro, we always do!

Wasabi Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chelsea Cupcakes

OK, let's get started...

sprinkles, jimmies, chocolate chips and coconut

Designer Cupcake

The Cupcake Collection

I don't see my niece often, but when I see Chelsea, I always enjoy myself! I usually have her brothers over when Chelsea comes over, but this time she came over with her friend. I have 2 sisters, so it was nice to have just girls. The girls were so funny, they talk about the funniest things. It's so nice to remember how easy life was in 1st grade. No heavy homework, no major boy problems, and Hannah Montana is a superstar! As I watched Chelsea and her friend decorate their cupcakes, I loved how they chat and decorate without missing a beat.

I worried that I wouldn't be able to occupy the 2 hours the girls were going to be cupcake decorating. They actually kept themselves very busy and had a million questions for me. Adorable! You know something funny, at one point, Chelsea said, "I don't really like cupcakes!" Ah, the honesty, ya gotta love it.

For You!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

LOLA, Seattle. Get the Doughnuts!

Start with LOLA's Wine by the carafe

then, go for the LOLA Sampler

I don't care if you are full or on a diet, get the LOLA Doughnuts!!!

The nice thing about LOLA is all the food is good. Nothing bizarre, no unidentifiable ingredients, it's all good. Not hard to figure out what to order since you can piece together "your" meal with "your" choice of dips, kebabs, and other Mediterranean inspired menu items. Unlike the traditional Mediterranean restaurants, the dips at LOLA have their own distinct flavors and are a nice mix of tradition with a fresh new Northwest twist.

~ ~ ~ ~

I recently went to LOLA with my husband and son. I have happy houred and lunched at LOLA many times before, but never dinner. This visit was with my picky teenager; not a fan of lamb or anything that comes from the sea. Also, I have been following the South Beach Diet, Phase II, so no pita for me. No problem, LOLA is the perfect place to eat if you are trying to be healthy and stay on a diet AND not in a bad way.

We started with the LOLA Sampler, a nice introduction to the LOLA menu. We ordered a few kababs, the chicken and the pork, and Dot's Spaghetti and the oh-so-yummy Smashed potatoes. More dips please, that's right, the portion on the dips could be a bit bigger. I totally understand the small-ish portions on the dips, looks better, cuter, whatever, but the dips are also a condiment to the kebabs and potatoes. Not complaining, just a thought.
Moving on to the GRAND FINALE, get the doughnuts!!! Don't even think twice. Fresh made perfect pillows of sweet dough perfection served with a creamy sweet cheese and perfectly sweetened jam...My God, it's the BEST!!!

~ ~ ~ ~
If you're going without kids, sit in the bar. The large space is a bit cold, which makes it perfect during the warm months. Looking for warm and cozy, go to the bar. You can order the same food from the bartender and sharing the meze with spreads and kebabs is the way to go. The booth seating in the dining room is great for families and a group of friends, and actually perfect for business meetings...a lot of space.

2000 4th Avenue Seattle, WA 98121

Lola on Urbanspoon


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