Sweetiekins

During my recent trip to Scottsdale, AZ, for work which included a day trip to Sedona and enjoy the ridiculously amazing weather and the gorgeous red rock landscape with my very sweet Filipino aunty of a cubicle mate, Lourdes. If you’re following my gastrogasmic adventures on the accompanying Facebook page you’ll have seen some of the incredible meals from that trip.

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My lunch at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen in Sedona, AZ

 

One of those meals followed me home when, a few weeks ago, Lourdes showed me that she had attempted to make these roasted sweet peppers we had ordered for lunch at a small resort in Sedona. She shared one with me and regardless of what they say about food always tasting better on vacation it’s very difficult to mess up oven-roasted mini sweet peppers.  The one thing she hadn’t been able to get was the aioli. I was so inspired that I decided to stop by the Aldi that just opened up down the road (bringing back some fun memories).

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, from Foodfanatic

My own method for cooking up these little babies is to

  1. Toss with (very little) avocado oil or olive oil,
  2. sprinkle with some coarse salt and fresh ground pepper,
  3. You can also add a sprinkle of garlic powder if you want a little extra something,
  4. Roast on a baking tray at 400 F for 20-30 minutes turning about halfway through (fair warning I like them lightly charred so adjust the time as desire).

Simple right? And unlike some other roasted vegetables these taste really good on their own with very little help. But if you’re looking for something to go with them you can mix this aioli up:

  1. Crush 1 large clove of garlic into a small bowl,
  2. Add about a teaspoon of lime juice and a teaspoon of harissa,
  3. Mix in a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise (or I use vegenaise) and an equal amount of sour cream.

Alternatively, and I’ve done this a couple of times, you can just use a butter knife to cut through one side of the pepper and put about a 1-2 teaspoons worth of goat cheese and just consume that heck out of those babies!

It Grows In Snack Form

This post’s feaured veggie may grow in snack form but personally I don’t find it to have that raw appeal. But then I really don’t care for the majority of my vegetables raw and… Ugh… crunchy. Just… No.

But my favorite preparation of these little guys is to sautee with garlic, tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of soy sauce (with salt & pepper) until tender but still crisp to the bite. And no, I’m not talking about bugs. I’m talking about the hard to destroy: Green Bean!

 

BBQ Flavored Crispy Green Beans

BBQ Flavored Crispy Green Beans

Roasted Garlic Green Beans with Lemon

Roasted Garlic Green Beans with Lemon

Sesame Garlic Green Beans

Sesame Garlic Green Beans

Oven-Baked Green Bean  Fries with Garlic Aioli

Oven-Baked Green Bean Fries with Garlic Aioli

Green Bean Casserole (Warning: I looked at the receipe and even though I may talk smack about all those food-free dishes I've been an Adventist long enough to know that in this case it probably works.)

Green Bean Casserole (Warning: I looked at the receipe and even though I may talk smack about all those food-free dishes I’ve been an Adventist long enough to know that in this case it probably works.)

Green Bean Mushroom Tart with Blue Cheese and Crispy Shallots

Green Bean Mushroom Tart with Blue Cheese and Crispy Shallots

Green Bean Salad with Herb-Tahini Dressing and Toasted Almonds

Green Bean Salad with Herb-Tahini Dressing and Toasted Almonds

In-Your-Face Goodness

This morning on the way to work we were a bit early so decided to make a quick stop at a Whole Foods so my chauffeur could pick up some salad for breakfast. Meanwhile, I traipsed right up to the chocolate aisle and browsed for a bar to keep on my desk to nibble on during the day. Because once I get started on my spreadsheets I get up to refill my coffee in the break room and go to the bathroom. Having a lunch break is for those who don’t know what properly organized data looks like.

And in times like these there was only one chocolate bar that could do the job…

Barcelona Bar

I’m not a fan of most chocolates over 65% cacao. This one is 45% and milk chocolate, which I find to be smoother and more enjoyable on a regular chocolate day as opposed to a time that calls for slightly more drastic measures. And unlike a lot of other chocolates this one has a balanced flavor as opposed to these over the top, teeth grittingly sweet options you usually find out there.

And of course in the process of finding good quality photos of the bar of chocolate that kept me and my cubicle mates company all afternoon I found out there’s a place called “Barcelona” in DC that I know need to try out when the weather is more forgiving to one’s human sensitivities.

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant

Ice Cream Week: “Olive Oil Gelato” (Day 7)

Olive Oil Gelato

“Olive Oil Gelato” from Saveur

Some time ago, back during the aftershocks of almost ending up in a very bad situation in Chad, I went with my mom to Jaleo in DC with another lady who was giving me tips on getting a job in foreign aid. My resume looks good for that type of work. Unfortunately I know I would hate it. I love traveling. I love helping others. And I really do want to be of use to the world. But that just really isn’t my niche.

All that personal junk aside… I remember that when we were there the most interesting thing on the menu for us was the “Olive Oil Ice Cream”. My mom thinks it will taste horrible. I think it could be interesting. But we never actually ordered it and so we still have no end to the debate. I recently finished up my good quality olive oil that I had around so I might need to buy a small amount of something really nice to try and make this gelato but I’m for sure going to give it a try. And I might try doing it as an ice cream as well because I would like to see the difference between the two with using a rather simple ingredient (which is also complex in flavor) like olive oil.

And that concludes the Foodie Nation’s Ice Cream Week! Hope you all enjoyed and are getting your regular dose of frozen goodies wherever you and whatever the weather might be.

French Toast Heaven Has Been Found!

Founding Farmers - Rockville

Founding Farmers – Rockville: Also known fondly as, that place where the food is amazing and yes we can definitely go back there. (Follow link to restaurant website)

Ranting about good food is just a built in part of my nature at this point. And I’m sure I’ve ranted about Founding Farmers before because I’ve been there several times and taken people there from out of town because, well, it’s impressive and I like making sure that visitors to DC remember it fondly, especially as a foodie capitol (which it most definitely is in my book).

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that my parents aren’t big fans of going out to eat. Why? Because they are sure to tell me every time I go out that they think it’s a waste. Although, usually it’s my dad saying that and my mom wonders out loud why she doesn’t ever get to go out somewhere nice… And I feel bad sometimes because they don’t do stuff like that mostly because they’re busy paying for our house and (yes we only have one) car. Oh, and have I mentioned that my little brother is rather expensive on the upkeep costs? He’s still young enough that being supported is acceptable but still. Children are expensive.

But with my dad gone and my mom pulling all-nighters to get this work done for Yemen she hasn’t been in much of a mood to cook so if we’re at home I’ve been doing it or we’ve been eating up leftovers. And on Sunday we had to do a bit of driving to get my brother to a competition and my mom decided that we would be eating out that day. So we arranged to stop at Founding Farmers at their Rockville location (near my Gma’s house) on the way back home.

Can I hear a “Best Idea EVER!”, please? I had, as of Sunday, never actually made it to any Founding Farmers (or sister restaurants) before  for brunch. I had tried twice before but due to some flooding–or inclement weather or some such nonsense out of their control–they had always ended up closing and so no brunch for me. Until Sunday…

Having been to their DC restaurant several times before I new the majority of the regular menu and was glad that one of the few times I’d managed to get a parent to one of my favorite restaurants that they had a really good vegetarian selection. We also had another friend with us for the weekend who happened to be vegetarian as well so that worked out nicely. And I don’t eat a lot of meat and if I do rarely for brunch because I like waffles and stuff and meat and waffles is a line I’m not really ready to cross and I doubt I ever will. Eggs, sure. But that’s about it. My brother on the other hand, has completely gone off the deep end and embraced his caveman roots and does eat rather a lot more meat than the rest of us.

We started with the basics, their lovely bread with various dips and “smears” and fried green tomatoes (because those are one of the key arguments I had used to get my mom to go there in the first place. If you think I like fried green tomatoes… Guess who taught me to like them…? Actually it was my Gpa but it’s my mom’s dad and it’s all flows down the generations nicely like that).

I’m not going to go into all sorts of details about what everyone ordered because that would be annoying. I am, however, going to discuss what I ordered because I’ve become hyper aware that I’ve just been eating sub-par french toast for an incredibly long time and now I feel the need to right this wrong.

I ordered this:

Stuffed New Orleans Style French Toast

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • Original – 8
  • Lillian’s Blueberry Compote- 10 {<– with this}
  • Bananas Foster – 10

and I’m pretty sure I will never again be able to eat regular plain french toast ever again. For those of you who don’t know, vanilla pastry cream is very similar to what they fill eclairs with. In fact I think it is what they fill eclairs with in theory but this was even better. It was very similar to a homemade custard with vanilla bean (as opposed to that smooth gelatin-y stuff you find in a Boston Cream doughnut).

Now, I know I won’t be able to properly recreate this without some serious time and effort and possible some kitchen equipment that I don’t yet own. But progress is still possible. For instance I just looked up a compote recipe and this is the only one with a decent pictures. It is on pancakes which makes me sad because… well they are pancakes, but not sad enough to prevent me from sharing.

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

“Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote” from KitchenDaily

And here’s a video for making a pastry cream that I think looks about right: Pastry Cream Recipe from Joy the Baker.

So we’re working towards something similar at least. Now to figure out how to make the bread (which is really more like fluffy cake) into the  right shape and get the cream inside…. That will take more work but I’m sure a combination in the right quantities and some creative eating can get me close enough to say that I’m on the right track.

 

The Awesome Power of Bilbo and Chinese Take-Out

On a very exciting application I just turned in I was asked the following question: Which food writers to you admire and why?

If you can’t tell from that it’s for a position I would absolutely ADORE. Also, my contract ended yesterday at 5pm and I have yet to be called up to HR to sign the next one so I’m technically unemployed and feel absolutely not guilty at all whatsoever about the fact that I haven’t opened a single work document or email since I got in early at 8am. And by now, Foodie Nation, you should know me well enough to know I wasn’t going to write some fluff piece on my much I love… well whoever it is I love. I’m not telling! But you know I would want this job like no other that I have applied for yet and that means I’m going to go as far out towards the deep end as I see fit (which wasn’t quite as serious as the Marianas Trench, I know how to be professional). If I get a job like this my life would be like this poster: Awesome!

Here’s my response:

I admire honest food writers who come across as genuine people. This includes a lot of bloggers but it also includes those who have “moved up” (for example “White on Rice Couple” and “Joy the Baker”). But selecting a group from the numerous blogs, sites, and publications that I browse and subscribe to would be a rather herculean task. So instead I’ll recognize a group of food writers that are often overlooked: Translators of Chinese take-out menus.

Unlike what I consider to be one of my ultimate gastrogasming spots in the world (the noodle dish dan dan mien at A & J restaurant, Rockville, MD), Chinese take-out joints that are strewn far and wide across American are incredibly un-Chinese. And yet there is a formula to their menus that we all recognize and sometimes (even to our own shame) we crave. The photos are awful and the places are small and I’m still confused as to why “r” and “l” are consistently switched when I know both sounds exist in both Mandarin and Cantonese (my own grandmother still can’t get it right after all these years).

I admire that somehow the writers and “translators” of these menus have managed to appeal to something that has become a part of American culture and make us want their food even though we know it’s bad for us and that it isn’t even “authentic”. It’s almost a comfort food for many people that live in urban areas that don’t have time to cook and I know for a fact that the entire IT department across the campus where I work has Beijing Delight programmed into their phones.

There’s nothing fancy but there is still something that appeals to us. Knowing that we get free egg rolls with an order of more that $12.99 (even though they’re really bad egg rolls) makes us want to order that extra side of “flied lice” and do group orders and to us it makes sense. That’s the essence of good food writing. Making you want to get out there and be active about in-taking food rather than just taking vitamin supplements and eating Army-type rations.

I don’t know who these people are who came up with the “standard” Chinese Take-Out Menu but I would really like to meet them because they did what I think almost any promotional food writer has ever tried to do and it’s amazing.