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dessert » digest LA
flinstone-sized lambchop, quinoa, asparagus

flinstone-sized lamb chop, quinoa, grilled asparagus

For dinner tonight, I made a Flinstone-sized lamb chop from Lindy Grundy. I put a spice rub on the lamb chop and grilled it on both sides and then finished it in the oven. For the quinoa, I cooked it following the instructions using homemade chicken stock instead of water. For the grilled asparagus, I… you know… grilled it. Delicious! The quinoa was rich and amazing. I loved the lamb chop, but it was so hard to eat.

brownie & vanilla ice cream

brownie & vanilla ice cream

I was craving a sweet treat so I baked some brownies. I learned how to bake, as a kid, because it is so easy to whip up a delicious dessert just from pantry items and because I have an incredible sweet tooth. I started with this brownie recipe from Epicurious. Weirdly, I didn’t have a metal bowl or a brownie pan. I have been so focused on cooking since I moved to LA that I had neglected baking tools. Now at least I know what to buy next time I am creeping around Surfas jonesing for something to buy.

maguro benedict

maguro benedict

Leading up to the Honolulu marathon, I was on a sushi kick. I was also nervous about eating anything too heavy, so for breakfast the day before I had the maguro benedict at The Cream Pot. It is raw tuna over a poached egg, avocado and rice instead of english muffin. I would have never have thought of this, but it was delicious.

We stumbled upon The Cream Pot because the local breakfast place had at least an hour wait. The Cream Pot was like what I imagine an American breakfast joint in Japan would be like… if that makes any sense. In fact, all of Honolulu made me wish I was in Japan. The restaurant had these amazing pictures of all their food that they put on the table so I knew after the race, I had to go back for a more decadent breakfast.

strawberry french toast

strawberry french toast

The strawberry french toast is sorta made like a souffle to make it all light and fluffy. It takes 20 minutes to prepare.

mini strawberry crepe

mini strawberry crepe

A lot of the breakfasts come in a set that comes with a mini crepe for breakfast dessert. I didn’t feel that awkward taking pictures on my food in Honolulu because all the Japanese were there taking pictures of their dishes as well.

strawberry brown betty ingredients

strawberry brown butter betty ingredients

The strawberry brown butter betty recipe on Smitten Kitchen is a great pantry recipe. If you have butter, white bread, strawberries, sugar, brown sugar, panko bread crumbs and lemon; you can make a strawberry brown butter betty in no time. You use regular white bread as the crust and brush browned butter on it. The just fill with a strawberry mixture and bake.

strawberry brown butter betty

strawberry brown butter betty

The resulting dessert is delicious and not too sweet. You can try different fruits and whip up cream as a topping. Really the best part is the brown butter crust after it has been baked. I had never made brown butter before, but now I want to try it on everything.

me in monaco

In front of the 11th largest yacht in the world

On my second to last day in France, I got the chance to take a quick trip to Monaco with a friend I made at the Lions festival. We watched some World Cup, checked out the yachts, and walked around the town (country).


Häagen-Dazs in Monaco

We stopped for one scoop at Häagen-Dazs. I got mango sorbet. As you can see, Häagen-Dazs in Monaco is a bit fancier than the one in the mall.

Baron, Bourbon and Doughnuts

Baron, Bourbon and Doughnuts

Last night a bunch of us visited Grace Restaurant for their Bourbon and Doughnut flight. Once we all sat down, we realized that we didn’t really know what a Bourbon and Doughnut flight was. We also realized that we were pretty hungry. So we started with a meal.

pork chop

Pork Chop

Brian ordered the pork chop. He wasn’t sure between the chop and the shank, but since none of us knew definitively what a shank is, he got the chop. The chop was big enough to feed the whole table.

Scallops and English Pea Risotto

I ordered the scallops, but cobbled together a tasting menu by also trying out the pasta, beet salad, olive oil poached halibut and the pork chop. The scallops were definitely my favorite. Of course, scallops are probably what I would order as my last meal (maybe a little surf and turf).

Here is a little Michelle origin story about my love of scallops… When I was just a wee scallop in my mom’s belly, she went to Paris with my father. He was on a business trip, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take my mom to that classy city. I think it was both of their first times in Paris. They agreed that every night, one would order the seafood special of the night and the other the… uhhh… mammal special. On the first night, the seafood special was Coquilles St. Jacques. My mom loved it so much that she preceded to spend the entire trip ordering it at every restaurant. Because I gobbled up so many scallops before I was even born, I was bound to love them.

my parents in france in the 80s

My parents in France

Here is a picture that I really love of my parents in France, years later.

Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck

Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck

The other day, I came across the Coolhaus Ice Cream truck outside of Heath Ceramics during Heath’s Studio Sale. What a confluence of goodness.

From the Coolhaus website:

A Coolhaus is many things. It is an architecturally inspired ice cream sandwich. TheCoolhaus consists of all-natural handmade ice creams of classic and seasonal varieties or custom-made to suit your needs, packed between two cookies of your choice. TheCoolhaus is set in your hands in an edible wrapper custom-printed upon with edible ink to commemorate a place, person or event.

A Coolhaus is also an ice cream sandwich truck; a converted postal van with chrome rims (or Rem’s), a pink top, and a fold-down bar and table. The Coolhaus truck is happily driven by architects, designers, developers, artists, bakers, actors, writers, musicians and people from other walks of life.

A Coolhaus is also a thinker, a thinker about reclaiming public and urban space for eating and gathering, when and where it is least expected, or when it is invited to share its decadent treats with interested eaters. A Coolhaus is an innovator about how to reinvent or redesign food with epicurian sensibility but also with a search for sustainability and minimal waste. A Coolhaus is passionate about food, where it comes from, how it is made, and how it is given to the eater. A Coolhaus has a curiosity for the day-to-day gastro-experience and a devotion to the public for social merriment.

ice cream sandwichI ordered chocolate chip cookies with Red Velvet ice cream and got six pasta bowls at Heath Ceramics.

coolhaus menu

Coolhaus menu

Chef Gilligan Plating French Toast

Chef Gilligan Plating French Toast

I would like to say that I signed up for Sur La Table’s “Special Brunch Favorites for Mom” class because I was dying to learn some brunch recipes, but really I was excited that Chef Gilligan sent the email about it to his “favorite students”. I was a little weepy about being away from my sister on her first Mother’s Day and figured the class would pass the time. I ended up enjoying an amazing five course brunch.

Normally there is so much going on in these classes that I just pitch in on some task like chopping vegetables. This time I quickly scanned the menu and realized that the biggest thing that I didn’t know how to do was poach eggs. Maybe if I knew how to poach eggs, it would cure me of my impulse to buy a $450 sous vide machine to make egg 63.

I set myself up by the giant bowl of eggs and made sure that no one could knock me off my task. First I focused on cracking eggs according to the sous chef’s instructions. Instead of cracking them on an edge of a bowl, I hit them once on the table and used my fingers to open the shell. As silly as it seems to practice cracking eggs, this technique was awesome. No shells in my eggs. Next I learned how to drop the eggs in the hot water to get the perfect “pouch.” There was nothing really to it besides slowly dropping the egg in the water and then taking it out before the yolk was too set. I may tempt fate and plan a brunch housewarming party and make some some eggs benedict. I guess I better learn how to make Hollandaise sauce. Of the five courses, quiche with truffle sauce was by far my favorite. The chocolate butter with the french toast was also pretty amazing. Chef Gilligan said you can keep chocolate butter for a month in your fridge, like that’s what I need to have floating around my kitchen mmm… chocolate butter…

Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad with Mango and Fresh Berries Drizzled with Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette

First couse: Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad with Mango and Fresh Berries Drizzled with Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette

Second Course: Brioche French Toast with Chocolate Butter and Vermont Maple Syrup

Wild Mushroom Quiche with Truffle Cream Sauce

Third Course: Wild Mushroom Quiche with Truffle Cream Sauce

Crab Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce

Fourth Course: Crab Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce

New York Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Sauce

Fifth Course: New York Cheesecake with Sour Cherry Sauce

Happy Mother’s Day Joanna and Mom! I wish we could have taken the class together.

Schematic NY pie contest

pie contest I organized at work

I have always had a sweet tooth. I love Tastycakes, Watchamacallits, Peanut Chews, Snickers, Twix ice cream bars, you name it; but growing up we never had sweets in the house. I would get a crazy craving for sugar and was trapped in the suburbs with no means of transportation. One thing we did always have in the house were eggs. And we had sugar because all those fake sugars hadn’t really been invented yet. And flour. If I was really lucky we had cocoa or unsweetened chocolate. We also had floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with books and quite a few of those books were cookbooks.

So I would pour through the cookbooks and figure out all the different things we had the ingredients to make and make them. Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts was a good resource. My parents would walk into the kitchen to cakes, cookies, tarts, even mandel bread. People say that cooking is way easier than baking because baking is a science, but I love baking… I love science. It all makes sense. I had incredible luck with baking until I encountered the dreaded Lemon Meringue Pie. I made Lemon Meringue Pie so many times and it would never turn out right. One time the custard wouldn’t set. Another time I couldn’t whip the egg whites into meringue. I couldn’t understand why things I had done easily for other recipes now just failed to work. I became obsessed with getting i right. My parents even started to help me. I think my dad finally put an end to it when he asked me, “Do you even like Lemon Meringue Pie?”

No, Lemon Meringue Pie is terrible. It is overly sweet and garish and thickened with cornstarch. I had made way more delicious and sophisticated desserts before this setback. The thing is I learned so much making that stupid pie over and over again. I learned about thickening agents and custards and meringues and pie crusts. So, why am I sitting here thinking about this? I realize that I need my Lemon Meringue Pie for cooking. This is how I learn… I need to make one thing over and over again until I understand everything about making it. And then I might hate it, but at least I will know how to make it. Any suggestions?