Friday, April 17, 2009

Strawberry Delight

I had a hankering for strawberries and pastry cream today and that to me equals either a tart or trifle of some sort. I didn't feel like making tart dough so I thought I'd go with Nilla-type cookies. Of course, I didn't have any in my pantry seeing as how I find Nilla quite tasteless these days(used to LOVE them as a child). I found a recipe online for homemade ones, we'll call them Filla cookies. They are much tastier than the supermarket variety though a little sweet, next time I'll cut down on the sugar by 1/4-1/3.

Rounding out the trifle is homemade pastry cream and whipped cream(you don't need a recipe for whipped cream, do you??). I always use Gale Gand's pastry cream recipe because I like it, it's good, and frankly most pastry cream recipes I've seen are very similar to each other so it doesn't make a huge difference IMO. Strawberries are courtesy of Harry's Berry's, home of the best strawberries I've ever tasted! If you see them at your local LA farmer's market, you MUST do yourself a favor: don't think about the price and just buy at least a basket. It drives me crazy the people who scoff and just HAVE to comment on the higher price. Yes, I'm a bit strawberry obsessed and therefore willing to pay a premium for delicious ones, but I happen to think they'd be worth it even if I didn't love strawberries as much as I do. It's a great quality product made by people who give a damn. Trust me, you'll thank yourself for it later. Back to the trifle: all that's left to do is assemble however you like and eat.
Gale Gand's pastry cream is easily found on the Food Network website and you can find the cookie recipe here: http://http//

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why you shouldn't rush when making and baking bread

Because then your bread turns out looking retarded! I was rushing when scoring this baguette and therefore got uneven openings(and a non-opening middle). Still, it was delicious. Much better than store bought. You can see the holes could have been lovely : /

Really, I can't say enough about Hamelman's book "Bread" because so far everything I've made from the book has been successful and tasty. The pizza from a few posts ago was his dough recipe and is my favorite one thus far. That's all for now, happy eating!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Backyard Update!

In the last two weeks the stone fruit trees have gone from little flowers of light pink and white into tufts of green leaves! And can you believe that this peach tree went from this....

to this?

Nature is amazing. I love looking down at the backyard and seeing that burst of pink in the middle of a sea of green and brown. The apricot and plum trees aren't very colorful anymore, but that just means I'm getting all the more closer to their fruit. Mwahaha!! ....Sorry for that, won't happen again. What else, what else...Oh! my walnut and almond trees(also have nectarine, Green Gage plum, 4 cherry trees, 2 chestnuts, 2 persimmon planted from the same nursery at the same time, not much to report right now) are starting to grow leaves and little buds. It's really exciting to see, perhaps not so much to read about, but exciting for me to see.
I'm sad though that my Page Mandarin trees are done, with most of my other orange-type trees soon following suit. This was the last mandarin hiding way up high on the tree so that I almost missed it.

I savored every drop of juice from this fruit. Really a lovely, incredibly tasty variety, Page Mandarins.

Not much new in my veg garden. I haven't moved any seedlings outside except for some beans so far. It's been a little chilly(for LA) but the weather the last few days has been gorgeous. There were some crazy winds a few days ago, maybe that's what allowed for a cloudless, crystal clear view type of day.

If it stays this way, I will be moving most of my seedlings out this weekend. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Patisserie Chantilly: Sweets Lovin'

A trifecta of deliciousness from Patisserie Chantilly in Lomita, CA. Bachelor #1 is a chocolate tart(sounds so pedestrian, no? Believe me, it's not.) with a hazelnut-y rice krispy-y ball of chocolate in the middle. #2 is a lovely strawberry parfait layered with sponge cakeyness, fresh strawberries, fresh chantilly cream, and jam at the very bottom. Cheeky little thing. And #3, we have a Black Sesame Choux. I'd like to thank all three contestants for playing and being delicious, but we have a runaway winner in Bachelor #3! *Wild applause, screaming, yada yada*

Enough foolishness, onto the Choux. I'm sure you've probably bought and/or made pate choux in various shapes and forms: eclairs, profiteroles, churros, whatever and you've probably had some good ones and/or bad ones. Me? Whenever I've bought said things, I've been underwhelmed by the flavor of the dough. It was kind of like a tasteless, strangely textured(or worse, just plain soggy) vehicle for whatever the filling was. Not my kind of pastry! P.C.'s usually makes three fillings for their choux: their signature black sesame, plain, and chocolate. They will occasionally have something seasonal, but those three are now always available. They are meticulous over there and obsessive with the quality of their product. Each choux is filled to order in the back kitchen in order to prevent previously mentioned sogginess. It takes just an extra few seconds and it makes all the difference in the world. Plus, their choux is just plain yummier than any other I've ever had, even without the cream filling. It's just got the right amount of crunch and dry(in a good way) inside. And they dust the top with something, I don't know what but I love it.

Can I just say now how freaking delicious the sesame filling is? Cause it is. Not exactly a mainstream flavor, but this is a Japanese take on French pastry anyway. The first time I tasted it, I don't think I was able to appreciate fully the complex taste of the sesame. I just remember liking it for some reason and have since become addicted. I'll confess, I've never even tried the chocolate one and I only once tried the plain filled and instantly regretted not getting the black sesame. My absolute favorite part of the whole deal is the swirl of honey hidden in the middle....

If you are in Los Angeles, especially the South Bay area, you should really consider stopping by Patisserie Chantilly for their delectable goodies. Really, pretty much everything they make is delicious and they brew a good cuppa. What more can a foodie ask for?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mariscos Chente and a Pizza recipe

For those not in L.A., Mariscos Chente is a newish restaurant specializing in Sinaloan seafood. There's lots of talk of them on Chowhound, so mosey on over there if you're curious about them. And you should be! Had lunch there again yesterday and it was as delicious as the first time. They always start you off with TONS of chips and spicy green salsa:

Unfortunately, yesterday the rice was not ready so we just got salads on the sides, but still the dishes were very tasty and the avocado and cucumber especially work great with their sauces. I had the camarones diabla and my dining companion had the filete a la plancha.

Mine was definitely the winner...

That sauce! If only there had been rice to sop it up!

And for those interested, here is the pizza dough recipe I used in my last post:


3.6 oz Bread Flour
2.2 oz Water
.001 oz (small pinch) yeast

Final Dough

14.6 oz Bread Flour
10.2 oz Water
.3 oz(1/2 T) Salt
.04 oz(1/2 tsp) Yeast
.9 oz(2 T) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5.8 oz(all of above) Biga

Mix all ingredients of Biga until just smooth(dough should be fairly stiff). Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand at room temp for 12-16 hours.

For Final Dough

Add all ingredients into mixing bowl except biga and oil. Mix until a mass forms. Start adding biga in chunks. Knead until dough is of medium consistency, correct hydration as needed. Start drizzling in olive oil, continue to mix/knead for a few more minutes or until dough has some body to it. Dough should have medium gluten development. Let raise for 2 hours, with a fold after 1 hour. Divide dough into whatever size pizza's you like, round and cover on work surface for 20 minutes. Then it is ready to be stretched and baked and eaten!

*Don't forget to start preheating your pizza stone in the oven(absolute hottest it will go, mine is about 550F) about an 1 hour before you want to bake. I usually start mine once I've folded the dough.*