Archive for August, 2010

August 29, 2010

Tastee Techniques: Pan-Basting

I pretend like I’m this amazing cook, but really? I have a lot to learn. I probably don’t even know some of the most basic cooking techniques. I may recognize the name but don’t know how to do it in the kitchen.  Pan-basting sounds basic enough, but its one technique on my list of techniques I need to practice. Lucky for me Seriouseats has a simple “How to Pan-Baste” lesson to give us some guidance. 

Do buzz words like “crispy skin” or “pan-seared” make your mouth water? If yes, then this technique is for you.

Basting is used to keep meat juicy and flavorful. It is done by spooning juices, melted fat or sauces over the meat while you cook. The result of perfecting basting – the ultimate tasteebit: crispy chicken skin! 

August 29, 2010

Caffeine Fiend: Combining Chocolate and Coffee

Although I love chocolate, I am a coffee fiend. Combining my two loves? Outside the obvious, a cafe mocha, I have not really experimented with recipes combining my two favorites. Thanks to seriouseats I’m open to seeking out more possibilities like these “5 ways to Combine Chocolate and Coffee”. Some of their chocolate, coffee suggestions:

1. Pour chocolate syrup into coffee, or a packet of swiss miss instant hot chocolate (Ok, I’ve tried these)
2. Cocao Nib Tea
3. Chocolate Coffee Almond Milkshake
4. Smitten Kitchen’s Coffee Toffee

August 29, 2010

Food Finds: Chocolate Shop in Orange County

Christopher Michael Chocolates, Costa Mesa, CA

My favorite gourmet chocolate store is Oh!Chocolate in Seattle. Family recipes made fresh everyday – what’s not to love? But the thing that keeps me going back (and wishing that the store would open a location in any city I move to) is their drinking chocolate. I have no words for how happy I am when I get that little, dainty cup of smooth, deep warm chocolate and melting vanilla whipped cream. Oh! so good.

Now other chocolate shops  leave me uninspired. Yes, every now and then I meander into See’s Chocolate (mostly for their free sample) and purchase a Bordeaux chocolate; and I will always love the Creme Brulee chocolate from Godiva. My Chicago search for Drinking Chocolate has yielded mediocre results. Vosges is great and boasts some exotic chocolates, but nothing so delicious that I can’t resist frequent visits. Sadly, Orange County chocolate selections are about as exciting as Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. So this is why I was excited when Seriouseats posted an article about a Costa Mesa, California chocolatier.

After reading the interview with Chocolate Shop owner Christopher Michael, I’m eager to try his blood orange caramels and even his rendered duck-fat caramels. He says he doesn’t keep up with the trends, but the fact that he keeps a glass of water and dish of pepperocinis on hand when he’s testing new flavor combinations leads me to believe he puts out some creative and daring chocolates.

It seems Christopher Michael has gotten a lot of positive press for his work, and so far visitors to his California store give him 4 1/2 stars on yelp. If you can’t make it to Orange County to sample his chocolates, you can order from his website.

August 29, 2010

Tastee Sips: Margaritas

Courtesy of

You probably won’t see me posting many cocktail recipes, and if you do, the alcohol content will be heavily disguised by other fancy, fruity ingredients. I prefer to eat my calories. That said, I’m a sucker for margaritas. Love, love, love them. I usually just blend tequila with a simple pre-made margarita mix, but that laziness is about to change! I’m thinking I need to try each of these margarita recipes. Starting with the  Red-Chile Guava Margarita and Mango Margarita, I’ll let you know the winner!

Red-Chile Guava Margarita

  1. Combine tequila, Triple Sec, guava nectar, orange juice, and lime juice in a pitcher and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. To serve, rim a rocks glass with salt by rubbing a lime wedge around the outside and then dipping the glass in salt. Fill the glass with ice, add the margarita mixture, and garnish with a skewered chile pepper (if using).
August 29, 2010

In Season: Spiced Tomato Gratin

Courtesy of 101 Cookbooks

My quest for tomato goodness continues…These tomato recipes from food blog “101 Cookbooks” make the list!

August 29, 2010

Kids In the Kitchen: Easy, Healthy Snacks?

I recently joined a volunteer committee where we organize educational cooking events for children. Obviously, recipes must be kid-friendly and nutritional. My natural tendency is to seek out chocolatey, cheesy, sugary recipes. Unfortunately for me, the goal is to show kids and parents how to incorporate healthy ingredients into easy meals. So my strategy is to find recipes that I like and that kids will have a good time making and then try to morph them into a healthier version of the original.

For our first event, we will be preparing easy, healthy recipes in a trade show like environment. So – no baking and no cooking. Here is what I came up with.

No-Bake Cinnamon Rolls (healthy modifications/substitutions)

  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed (whole wheat wonder bread)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (almond butter or apple butter)
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon water, or as needed
  • (Add sliced, toasted almonds)

Roll the bread slices until very flat. Butter the bread, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (and toasted almonds). Starting on one side, roll up the bread slice until tight. Repeat with the second bread slice. Cut the bread rolls into 1 inch slices.
2. Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the water in a small bowl to make a thin frosting. Drizzle frosting over the bread slices, and serve.

Banana Pops
Instructions: Peel a banana, dip it into melted chocolate or low fat yogurt, roll in crushed nuts and freeze.

Healthy No-Bake Cookies
Recipe adapted from Eating Well
8 whole-wheat graham cracker squares, finely ground
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter or other nut butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons shredded unsweetened coconut

Combine ground whole-wheat graham crackers, raisins, peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. Pat into 8 cookies and press lightly in coconut.

August 29, 2010

Trendy Bits: Black Rice

Courtesy of

White or brown rice? White, please. White or wheat bread? White, of course. Ice cream or sorbet? Ice cream, always. I am definitely not a health nut. And I don’t even aspire to change my ways.  Still the recent number of black rice related articles had me wondering – So what’s the deal? Why is black rice being dubbed the “new super food?”

I’ve heard of black rice once or twice before on some episode of Top Chef or on the Food Network maybe. At the time, I probably just as casually dismissed it as I would the possibility of adding whole grain pasta to my repertoire. But now, I’ve seen black rice headlines twice this week and I decided there might be something to this trend.

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August 23, 2010

Seen on Screen: Get in the Bowl

M&M commercial put a smile on my face:

August 22, 2010

Grill It: Chorizo Burgers with Manchengo and Paprika Slaw

This recipe (courtesy of SeriousEats contributor Kerry Saretsky) had me at Manchengo and Paprika! Think you’ve seen and tried some creative burgers? My mouth is watering at the thought of this creative flavor combo served up in an exceedingly American form.

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August 22, 2010

In Season: Tomatoes

With summer in full swing, my dad’s homegrown tomato production has peaked. For the second straight-year, the family backyard is better described as our tomato farm. Thus, I am on the hunt for new tomato centered seasonal recipes.

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