4.29.2010

Announcing the winner of sweets!


And the winner is...


Rhea of Personal Velocity blog:
CONGRATS!

4.26.2010

A Year of Sweetness and a GIVE AWAY!


It is here – my one year blogiversary! It has been quite a sweet year.

One of my favorite places to get a sweet treat in Los Angeles is Sweets for the Soul. This is a sweets shop to rival all others. They make an amazing brownie. The exterior is faintly crisp like a French macaron, while maintaining a satisfying chewy soft texture. The Valrhona chocolate is stunningly rich with a delicate creaminess. These brownies are just sexy. So buttery they almost melt away.



On a recent visit I discovered the Caramel Bliss brownie. Is there anything better in the world than combining chocolate, caramel and pecans? This brownie is dense and luxurious. The caramel is sweet and toothsome. The pecans supply the perfect bite, blending together all of the flavors.


While Sweets for the Soul is known for their seductive brownies, they do have an enticing glass cake stand right by the register. This glass carapace is home to daily specials from pb&j cupcakes to cookies and more. To my surprise I found one lone cinnamon sugar cake donut shyly hiding beneath the glass lid.

I ordered it instantly.

It was perfect.

Crumbly soft and sweet, it was a heart shaped piece of heaven. What are you waiting for? Get in your car and visit Sweets For The Soul in Atwater Village, I promise you will not be disappointed!

On this blog I often wax poetic about my on going love affair with desserts. Let me eat cake is really just a philosophy for enjoying life’s sweet pleasures. To celebrate my blogiversary I have a GIVEAWAY. Sweets For The Soul’s owner Lilly LaBonge has kindly donated a $20 gift certificate for one of my readers! Simply leave a comment below and I will be picking a winner at random on Thursday. For a second chance to win tweet a link http://bit.ly/b6Kp79 to this blog post and leave me another comment letting me know you have done so. Be sure you leave an email so I can contact you if you win!


Good luck!

* must be a Los Angeles resident to win giveaway*

4.20.2010

On The Lamb



Have you heard of On The Lamb?

A chef, a baker and a sommelier.

Young, hip and fun.

Let’s get something straight- these ladies know how to throw a party!

After first catching wind of On The Lamb, I quickly signed up to receive information about their events. A few weeks later, I received a mysterious email: a “postcard” from Santiago de Cuba. It talked about sun and sand. It talked about rum and pork. But that was all. An alluring love note beckoning me further, it enticed me to RSVP to my first On The Lamb event.


The address was revealed the night before the party. The setting was a home in the hills of Echo Park. Classic Cuban tunes playing in the background, lights strung across the porch and coconuts all around, it was an intimate gathering of strangers.

This was On The Lamb.


As we entered our destination we were greeted with a honey negressarita - black lime honey simple syrup with fresh orange and lemon juice and rum of course. It was a light and refreshing way to start of the night.


Soon after came bowls of creamed plaintain soup topped with black bean and citrus zest salsa and El Salvadorian chorizo. The subtly sweet plantains were suffused with a rich coconut milk broth, zesty citrus, salty black beans and crunchy spiced chorizo. The flavor combination was invigorating. I happily polished off the entire bowl.


Next up we enjoyed the Sally Kick: guava juice, rhubarb bitters, Turkish chili pepper syrup and rum. The drink was sweet and spicy all at once. The guava added a delicate sweetness while the rhubarb added complexity and depth.


These delicious cocktails were paired with what will forever be known as the best media noche sandwich I have ever had. The media noche was comprised of layers of thinly sliced ham, slow roasted mojo pork, provolone cheese and butter pickles on a perfectly toasted roll. The flavors of this mojo pork were unrivaled. Combined with a mojo sour orange guava aioli, I was bursting from my shirt having snuck back for seconds. The flavors in the sandwich were striking; the nuances became more pronounced with each bite.


Our final drink of the night was the Tres Leche Cubano: cinnamon infused rum, coffee syrup, three milk fat wash and coconut cream. It was dessert in a cup. A thick creamy top layer gave way to rum, sweet rum. I was almost fooled by the sweetness, but this drink packed a punch at the end. There was just enough bite to balance a beautiful malt coffee flavor.



The coup de grace was Many Leches Cake: almond cake soaked in evaporated milk, coconut milk, half and half, sweetened condensed milk and rum. All those leches made for one mind blowingly good cake. Sweet but not cloyingly sweet. Rich but not swimming in richness. It was a thing of sheer beauty. The milk glistened on top of the cake creating an almost gossamer casing.


Everything we enjoyed was handmade and hand crafted by these three amazing ladies. Their talent and creativity made for one delectable evening. I will be dreaming about rum and mojo pork until I receive another mysterious email to whisk me away to what is sure to be another brilliant evening.


twitter.com/onthelambfb

4.16.2010

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cookies & a Bakesale!

I like to bake when life’s stresses get the best of me. Creaming, folding and mixing help to put me at ease and bring me to a happy place. When I smell the sweetness wafting from the oven, a smile comes over my face and I forget I had any problems.

I was having one such stressful day and needed a little baking break. Thinking of what I had available in my fridge and pantry, I searched my favorite food blogs for inspiration. The result was browned butter vanilla bean cookies made with sour cream.

These cookies have a pure vanilla flavor. There is an underlying nuttiness from the brown butter and a slight molasses note from the addition of brown sugar. The texture has a feathery and pillowy appeal while still maintaining a nice chew. Simple and quick to whip up, this cookie is pure comfort.

Go ahead eat your emotions, I won’t tell a soul.


Tomorrow is the first annual Food Bloggers Bakesale to raise money for Share Our Strenth. Food bloggers across the country will be holding back sales the help fight child hunger. The Los Angeles bakesale will be at Morel's at the Grove Saturday, April 17, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at Morel’s French Bistro at The Grove, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036. If you are in the area pick up some sweet treats and help end childhood hunger!

4.12.2010

A Neighborhood Gem: Four Cafe, Eagle Rock



It is such a good feeling to have that one reliable place that you can go to for dinner when you have had a long day and don’t feel like cooking. A place that is comfortable and inviting with food that makes you want to come back again the next day. Four Café is just that place. Open a mere six days along a stretch of Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock that is quickly becoming a culinary mecca, Four offers soul satisfying food, ethereal desserts, and impeccably friendly service.


fresh english pea cup 4 bowl 6

shallots, spring potato topped with chive oil, (vegan)

This is Spring in a bowl. Verdant flavors that continue to develop and expand with each bite. It is evident that a scrumptious attention to the detail is given to each ingredient in this soup.


grilled flank steak 7.95 half 12.5 full

napa cabbage, arugula, avocado, and tomato with an

apple-shallot soy vinaigrette

I do not often order a salad for dinner, but this was not your average salad. Spicy arugula, creamy avocado, crunchy cabbage and thick and chewy pieces of flank steak grilled to a nice pink with a vinaigrette that married all of the flavors together beautifully. I devoured the salad and was left satisfied and pleased.


oven roasted tomato panini 8.95

tuscan kale,tomato, and burrata

A crunchy and flaky ciabatta is home to decadent burrata melting to perfection with juicy sweet roasted tomatoes balanced with bitter kale. Each bite leaves you eager for more.



meyer lemon yogurt cake 3

I lifted the delicately placed glass cake cover to get a good picture of these cute meyer lemon yogurt cakes snuggly leaning against each other on the stand. What lay beneath was fantastically aromatic. Had I not already decided to order one, the tempting smell would have sold me. The meyer lemon yogurt cake was spongy while at the same time dense. At first the cake is milky with a slight tang from the yogurt, then a bright lemong flavor builds and lingers on your tongue. It is memorable.


blood orange upside down cake 3

Caramelized oranges, cinnamon biscuit

This cake will change your life. I’m not the biggest champion of blood oranges. In fact I think they look better than they taste, but this blood orange upside down cake has changed my perspective forever. The cake is crumbly and sweet with nuances of vanilla and cinnamon. The blood oranges provide a refreshing zesty punch to the sweetness of the cake. Near the end of the cake I’m floored - the caramelized oranges have bled into the outer crust of the cake leaving the finally bites gooey, rich, and sweet. I smile and sigh; now that was one damn fine piece of cake!


After my first dining experience I knew that this would be a weekly habit. With affordable prices for stellar food there isn’t any reason not to frequent Four Café. What seems like a typical seasonal menu is truly anything but. From the minimal wood decor to the housemade sodas to the sandwiches, it is clear that there is a mechanical precision taken in choosing every detail. The flavors in all of the dishes evolve into something even more magical as the meal goes on. The personal touch to the service from the husband and wife team that operate Four is the cherry on top of an already amazing dining experience. With affordable prices for great seasonal food, there isn't any reason not to frequent Four Cafe.



FOUR CAFE

2122 1/2 Colorado Blvd

Eagle Rock CA 90041

323/550-1988

info@fourcafe.net

4.02.2010

A Peek Inside the Cheesemonger's Kitchen



I have a secret.

Sometimes when I need a recipe or inspiration on how to prepare a certain ingredient there is generally one person I turn to. He is a chef and he always has the answers I’m looking for.

I have another secret.

I love cheese.

Here is where these two secrets meet: I am often looking for a new and creative way to cook with cheese. It just so happens my friend with all of the answers, Chester Hastings, is coming out with a book from Chronicle Books. The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen: Cooking with the World’s Finest Cheeses is exactly what I have been waiting for.

In honor of springtime and Chester’s upcoming book here is a sneak peek at a recipe from The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen.



Burrata with asparagus, pinenuts and golden raisins is so simple to prepare. Asparagus evokes springtime. Vibrant and crisp, it is a beautiful way to celebrate the season. The burrata is a delicate, creamy base for the warm, tender asparagus. The asparagus is lightly tossed with fruity olive oil, toasted pinenuts and succulent golden raisins. Top the asparagus salad with browned breadcrumbs for a nice crunch. Add a few strands of saffron and the whole dish is enlivened. This dish is light, fresh and uncomplicated.


Here is the recipe with an excerpt from the upcoming book:


BURRATA WITH ASPARAGUS, PINENUTS and GOLDEN RAISINS

The distinctly Sicilian combination of pine nuts, raisins and breadcrumbs is quickly becoming a classic all over the world. From light pastas with fried sardines and fennel, or fillings for swordfish or beefsteak rolls to lovely and light springtime fair such as this presentation of early April asparagus and fresh burrata cheese.

The addition of saffron, if used judiciously, adds a lovely perfume and an elegant effect if the threads are left whole.

ingredients:

2 balls fresh burrata, roughly 6 ounces each

1 bunch asparagus

2 tbsp toasted pinenuts

2 tbsp golden raisins

6 threads of saffron

½ cup best quality extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup bread crumbs

Cut the woody ends of the asparagus off and discard. Blanch the asparagus spears in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, just giving when pinched where the tip begins (do not overcook!). Shock the asparagus quickly in a bowl of ice water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Cut asparagus on the angle into pieces resembling penne pasta.

Soak the golden raisins in warm water for 5 minutes to re-hydrate, then drain and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked and cut asparagus with the pine nuts, re-hydrated raisins, saffron and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Heat 4 tbsp of the olive oil over a medium heat and add the breadcrumbs. Shake the pan vigorously over the heat, frying the breadcrumbs to a light and golden crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut the burrata balls in half and lay individual plates ‘skin side’ down. Divide the asparagus mixture among the burrata pieces and sprinkled the fried breadcrumbs over the top.

Drizzle with a bit more extra virgin olive oil and serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

*a thin slice of prosciutto di parma would be a welcome addition to this dish, simply served alongside or draped over the top to hide the jewel of a salad hidden underneath.

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