Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
key lime pies were never my favorite. i much prefer a banana cream or a strawberry rhubarb. but then one day i had the most amazing slice of key liminess at Houston's (now called Hillstone). i saw plates of key lime pie float across the dining room all night long and became intrigued. i couldn't help but order it even though everything in my mind reminded me that i don't like key lime pie. but after taking one bite, i knew i was in love. found myself thinking about the pie weeks later. months later i called Houston's on a weekly basis to see if they had that pie. finally, when they had it, i ordered two to-go. i ate one slice in the car and froze the other one for another day. that's when i knew my love affair with key lime pie began.
but i've got to say, more often than not, key lime pie disappoints me. if it's remotely neon in color, i refuse to eat it. if the crust is a typical pie crust and not a graham cracker crust, i'm reluctant to order it. so one day i decided i'd find a good recipe so that i could make it at any time.
on a nice hot day, a chilled slice of key lime pie almost comes off as refreshing. and with the warm winter we've had it was only fitting that i salute the sun with a creamy tart pie. i made a pie on sunday and when my cousin and i ate nearly half the pie in one sitting, i decided to make a second one on monday. (because i made the same pie twice, you'll see pictures from both days kinda jumbled together.)
roll the hell outta them!
is butter great, or what?
please excuse my old woman hands. pressing the pie crust with your hands/fingers is much easier than with a spatula. for the edges i found pressing with your four fingers on the inside with your thumb pressing against the outer glass gives it a little added pressure.
squeeze juice over a strainer or you'll be fishing out seeds for days with a spoon. trust me, i've done that too many times to ever make that mistake again. plus you don't want any pulp in your pie!
at this point my hands felt arthritic. squeezing those tiny little things isn't easy if they aren't all super juicy.
key lime pie
- 1/2 c crushed graham cracker
- 6 tbs butter, melted
- 2 tbs sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 c key lime juice (i used a little more than that bc i like mine really tart)
- 1 14oz. can of condensed milk
- 5 egg yolks, beaten
1. preheat oven to 325 degrees F
2. in your pie pan, mix together graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and salt until all of mixture is moist
3. with hands press in to pie pan to cover bottom and edges
4. bake for about 10 minutes so that the pie crust sets a bit
5. take pie crust out of the oven and allow to cool a bit
6. increase the heat of the oven to 375 degrees F
7. in a bowl mix egg yolks, condensed milk and lime juice until smooth and a uniform consistency
8. pour filling into pie crust
9. bake on bottom 1/3 of the oven for approx. 22 minutes or until the filling has set (is not jiggly)
10. let pie cool and chill in fridge. serve with whipped cream.
simple, and not that pretty, but SO EFFING GOOD!!!! trust me, even if you think you don't like key lime pie, you'll probably like this one. i've changed minds with this pie. it's that kinda magical.
Monday, February 27, 2012
so nearing Valentine's Day i posted a status update on facebook stating "someone please take me to Frances for a late v-day friend date!," which was pretty lame of me. and of course i never expected for anybody to take me up on that offer because 1) reservations to Frances at a decent hour are hard to come by, 2) it's not an inexpensive meal, and 3) nobody wants to take anybody on a date that asks for the date. what kinda crap is that? begging for anybody to take them on a nice dinner? so desperate. anyway, even though i am indeed the loser who posted that, i by no means truly expected it to come in to fruition. so that same minute that i typed that post, i nearly simultaneously went online to check reservations and coordinated with Kim to have dinner there at an absurdly early hour a couple of months from now.
but. BUT!! having read that post, a good friend of mine, Darrick, wanted to take me up on that offer. because i'd already made plans to go to Frances in a couple of months, we decided to have dinner at an equivalent type restaurant. i, of course, was not going to make him pay for my meal. instead we just went for a casual dinner amongst friends. as casual as a five course meal can get, anyway. this was Darrick's first time with "fine dining." exciting! we decided on Commonwealth because i've wanted to go since the day they opened. and they offer a 5 course dinner for $65 which isn't ridiculous (though for a normal thursday, it's pretty ridiculous even by my standards).
they start every table off with seaweed chips and a malt vinegar foam. seaweed chips aren't new to me because i've tried them in Thailand. Lays makes them!! but for anybody who hasn't had them before, i'm sure they're a fun take on your typical chips.
the amuse bouche was thinly sliced abalone with tapioca. i don't generally like abalone but this was actually really good. much better than any way i've had it prepared at chinese restaurants.
there were probably a million things on this tasting menu that Darrick had never tried. caviar, foie gras, rhubarb, sunchoke and venison were definitely new to him.
caviar with chips, egg mousse and potatoes. a lovely dish. the egg mousse was interesting. i don't know if i would have ever guessed it was egg if it wasn't written on the menu.
foie gras on brioche. my lord that was a big piece of foie for one person. so fatty and good. but almost a little too much for my liking. you can only have a few bites of foie gras before it becomes too much. i literally could feel my arteries screaming at me after completing the last bite. i much more prefer it in a pate form, but it was still good.
artichoke fritter with mashed sunchoke, quinoa and quail egg. whatever that black sauce is tasted super earthy in a good way. i thoroughly enjoyed the freshness of this dish.
venison with sweet potato mousse. the cylinder the mousse was contained in was light and crisp and different from any other version of that that i've had before. it's hard to describe, but it was outstanding.
blood orange sorbet
peanut butter bar with frozen popcorn. the "frozen popcorn" was really just very light frozen cream of some sort that was salty and tasted slightly like buttery popped kernals of corn. when eaten with the sweet peanut butter bar, it was incredibly complimenting.
overall, i had a really good experience at Commonwealth. my only complaint is that the server wasn't very versed in the menu. he said a few things that were inaccurate. oh well. i think Darrick enjoyed his experience too. now rather than wondering what the judges on Top Chef could possibly be tasting, he's got an understanding of it. i will definitely be back to try their a la carte menu. man, do i love food.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
i don't have too much to say about this except that sometimes a nice sticky sweet chicken sounds good.
honey balsamic chicken drumsticks
- 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 c honey
- 1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 c soy sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, mniced
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- 2 tbs sesame seeds
- 1/4 c parsley, chopped
1. in a bowl combine balsamic vinegar, sugar, honey, soy sauce and garlic and mix until honey is well blended
2. toss chicken drumsticks and marinade into a big ziplock bag
3. place in fridge to marinate for at least two hours (the longer the better)
4. preheat oven to 450 degrees F
5. place chicken drumsticks on a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet
6. bake until skin is caramelized (approx 30 mins)
7. while the chicken is baking, pour leftover marinade into a small saucepan
8. bring marinade to a boil then reduce heat to low to simmer until thick (approx 15 mins)
9. brush the cooked marinade onto the chicken and return to oven for 10 more mins
10. when fully cooked, sprinkle with sesame seeds and parsley
Friday, February 24, 2012
you can do so much with a potato. you've all eaten them in various forms. mashed potatoes. french fries. baked potatoes. chips....hell, even potato bread. but have you ever had them smashed? and i'm not talking about chunky mashed potatoes (although that's how i prefer my mashed potatoes. i can't wrap my mind around eating something so mushy as whipped potatoes). i'm talking about smashed potatoes. they're creamy yet still have a crisp crunch to them. they'd go good with a pork or chicken or even just by themselves.
if you have kids, i'd bet this would be a fun activity for them to participate in.
the woman from the website that i got this recipe from said that they look like frog road kill. it's kinda true and i sort of thought it was hilarious for some reason.
lemon parmesan smashed potatoes
-2 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean
- olive oil for drizzling
- sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 c parsley, minced
- zest of 1 1/2 lemons
- 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. put potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water about an inch above the potatoes.
3. bring potatoes to a boil and simmer until potatoes are cooked through (about 15 mins). you should be able to easily stick a fork through them.
4. drain potatoes and lay out onto paper towels to dry
5. drizzle olive oil onto a baking pan
6. place potatoes on baking pan spaced out a couple of inches apart from each other
7. using the bottom of a heavy glass, smash potatoes until they're about 1/2 inch thick
8. brush potatoes with more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
9. roast for 30 minutes, flipping the potatoes over after 15 minutes
10. while potatoes are roasting, in a small bowl mix together garlic, parsley, lemon zest and parmesan
11. when potatoes are done, put them in a large bowl and toss with the lemon parmesan mixture
the addition of lemon really brightens up this dish. i will be making this time and time again.