Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chocolate Tasting

Picture from The Wandering Eater

 

Sometimes when I have a girls get together I also organize a chocolate tasting and it is usually a huge hit.  I am not a big dark chocolate fan, I love milk chocolate, but for chocolate tasting you need dark chocolate.  I have done a few chocolate tastings and here is what I learned:  Do not choose anything greater than 80% cocoa and choose chocolates in the same % range.  I usually choose chocolate around 60-70% cocoa. Pick around 10 different chocolates and put them in small bowls with a number and remember to put the same number on the original wrapper so you know what it what.  Give everyone a piece of paper and pen and let folks start the tasting.  Don’t forget to also have a trash bowl for chocolate folks do not like.  Tell folks to rate their chocolate 1-10 and then collect everyone’s numbers and rate the different chocolates. I usually give the remainder chocolates away. 

Here are a few items to tell folk on what to think about when you do a chocolate tasking: 

Look
Look at the Chocolate in bar form and scan for any air bubbles, streaks, or discoloration.  You do not want any of those in or on your chocolate.  You want to see a nice shine on the chocolates surface.  

Smell
Smell the entire bar before breaking off a piece.  Get the full aroma of the bar and try to pick out the distinct aroma of that particular bar.  Many times you will be able to know what the bar will taste like by smelling it.  You can also smell apart a bar filled with sugar and a high cacao content bar. 

Snap
Listen to the snap of the chocolate as you break a piece off.  Should be a nice clean loud snap. 

Taste
Most important! The look, smell, and snap could all be perfect but if it doesn’t taste good then it is meaningless.  Break a small piece of chocolate and put it on your tongue. Let the chocolate melt on your tongue and start to push it around between the roof of your mouth and all area’s of your tongue.  This will allow you to taste all the flavors that particular chocolate has to offer.  Take it nice and slow so you can really taste out any and every flavor that presents itself. 

Texture
Chocolate’s texture can big an important part to some people and not as important to others. You can have a sandy, grainy, chalky, smooth, waxy, and even slimy texture. Smooth slick texture is usually preferred but you can like whatever you want. 

If you want to get into this even deeper, here is a great Adobe Acrobat PDF that describes the testing experience in detail from  Chloe Chocolate

Let me know how it goes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pickled Red Beets

I don’t know about you but in the last few years I have become a beet lover. I never used to be but if there are beets on the menu I order them. And I always have beets at home for my cravings. You will notice I will post several different beet recipes in this blog, you will be surprise all the things you can do with beets. If you have some good beet recipes please let me know, I am always up for new beet recipes.

There are many ways to prepare your beats. You can microwave them quickly, that is the easy way. You can boil them in a pot of water, 2nd easiest way. Or the best way and the tastiest way is to bake your beets, that is what I always do, unless I am in a hurry. Here is a great recipe for pickled beets, I think they go with a lot of different things as steak and meatballs.  Enjoy!

Pickled Red Beets

Yields: 4 cups

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 60 minutes | Pickle Time: 24 hours

Oven 350 F

2 lbs of red beets
¾ cups vinegar essence (6% acidity)
¼ cups water
5 whole cloves
½ cups sugar

First bake your beats by putting foil around your beets and put them on a platter, make sure you have something under the beets in the oven because juices will come out and you do not want to ruin your oven. Leave them in the oven for about 1 hour for medium sized beets. If your beets are larger or smaller your time may differ, it is easy to check just poke a fork in them and make sure they are soft. Take them out and let them cool. Once you have baked them in the oven the skin is really easy to peel off, just make sure you wash your hands right afterwards or they will stay red for while.

While you are waiting for your beets to cook you can prepare you marinade.

In a pot add the vinegar, water, sugar, cloves and let it boil.

Once your beets are cool enough to chop, slice them to your liking. I like my slices pretty large. Then put them in a jar or container of some sort. And then pour your liquid into the jar and place into the refrigerator. Your beets will be ready to eat the following day. These will last a few weeks in the jar.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dine Around Seattle

Picture from Dine Around Seattle Website

It is that time of the year in Seattle; Dine Around Seattle is starting tomorrow. This is a great time for Seattle restaurants to show what they can do for a reasonable price and get customers they would usually not get, but also this is a great time for us foodies to go to our favorite places and get a good 3-course meal for only $30.

I already know the places I will be visiting:  Campagne, Chez Shea, Restaurant Zoe, Chez Shea and Barking Frog.  Those are my favorites on the list.  I will report back on the once I go.

But if you have never been before, you can attend any of the below restaurants from March 1-31, Sundays through Thursdays, these restaurants offer 3-course dinners for $30. This includes selections for appetizer, entrée, and dessert. This is a great deal.  Read more about it here Dine Around Seattle and let me know which places you are going to.

35th Street Bistro
709 N 35th St. Seattle, WA 98103
tel: 206.547.9850
Lunch & Dinner, Not Offered Monday
Andaluca
407 Olive Way NE
Seattle, WA 98101
tel: 206-382-6999
Lunch & Dinner, No Sunday Lunch, No Monday Dinner
Artisanal Brasserie
The Shops at The Bravern
11111 NE 8th St. Bellevue, WA 98004
tel: 425.372.2200
Lunch & Dinner
Barking Frog
14580 NE 145th Street
Woodinville, WA 98072
tel: 425-424-2999
Lunch & Dinner, No Sunday Brunch
Bastille Café & Bar
5307 Ballard Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98117
tel: 206.453.5014
Dinner
Campagne
86 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101
tel: 206-728-2800
Dinner, Closed Monday
Dahlia Lounge
2001 4th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
tel: 206-682-4142
Lunch & Dinner, No Sunday Lunch
Earth & Ocean
1112 Fourth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
tel: 206-264-6060
Lunch & Dinner, Closed Sunday, No Monday Dinner
Eva Restaurant
2227 N 56th
Seattle, WA 98103
tel: 206-633-3538
Dinner
Hunt Club
900 Madison St.
Seattle, WA 98104
tel: 206-343-6156
Lunch & Dinner
Monsoon
615 19th Ave. E Seattle, WA
tel: 206.325.2111
Dinner
Monsoon East
10245 Main. St. Bellevue, WA 98004
tel: 425.635.1112
Dinner
Nishino
3130 East Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98112
tel: 206-322-5800
Dinner
Palisade Waterfront Restaurant
Elliott Bay Marina
2601 West Marina Place
Seattle, WA 98199
tel: 206.285.1000
Lunch & Dinner
Ray’s Boathouse
6049 Seaview Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107
tel: 206-789-3770
Dinner
Restaurant Zoë
2137 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
tel: 206-256-2060
Dinner
Serafina Osteria and Enoteca
2043 Eastlake Ave. E
Seattle, WA 98102
tel: 206-323-0807
Lunch & Dinner, Not Offered Sunday Brunch
Steelhead Diner
95 Pine Street, Suite 17
Seattle, WA 98101
tel: 206-625-0129
Lunch & Dinner
Twisted Cork
900 Bellevue Way NE, Suite 100 Bellevue, WA 98004
tel: 425.637.0808
Lunch & Dinner, Not Offered Sunday Brunch
Mama Melina
4759 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
tel: 206.632.2271
Dinner
ART Restaurant and Lounge
99 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101
tel: 206-749-7070
Lunch & Dinner, Not Offered Sunday Brunch
Nell’s Restaurant
6804 East Greenlake Way N
Seattle, WA 98115
tel: 206-524-4044
Dinner
Barolo Ristorante
1940 Westlake Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
tel: 206-770-9000
Lunch & Dinner, No Sunday Lunch
Ponti Seafood Grill
3014 Third Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109
tel: 206-284-3000
Dinner
Chez Shea & Shea’s Lounge
94 Pike Street, Suite 34
Seattle, WA 98101
tel: 206-467-9990
Dinner, Closed Monday
Salish Lodge & Spa
The Dining Room

6501 Railroad Ave.
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
tel: 425.888.2556/425.831.6517
Lunch & Dinner, Not Offered Sunday Brunch
Etta’s
2020 Western Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
tel: 206-443-6000
Lunch & Dinner, Not Offered Sunday Lunch
SZMANIA’S
3321 W. McGraw
Seattle, WA 98199
tel: 206-284-7305
Lunch & Dinner, Closed Monday
Friday, February 26, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

Pictures from http://arockridgelife.com/

 

I got this idea originally from Barefoot Contessa on the food network.  This recipe has been adjusted from the original Barefoot Contessa recipe. 

I love roasted vegetables and I do not know why but I also love sweet potatoes.  This vegetable mixture just creates a great mixture of vegetable flavors but also textures.  This side dish goes with a lot of different dishes and it is easy and quick too. 

Roasted Vegetables

Adapted From: Barefoot Contessa

Serves: 6-8 | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 35 minutes 

1 lb carrots, peeled and cut
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 (2 lb) butternut squash, peeled & seeded
2 parsnips
1 large sweet potato, peeled 

Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
2. Cut the vegetable 1- to 1 1/4- inch cubes.
3. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small.
4. Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on two sheet pans.
5. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, & pepper.
6. Toss well.
7. Bake for 25 to 35 minuntes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dinette Restaurant Review

 

 

Dinette Restaurant has a great concept called “toasting.”

I have been to Dinette several times and this time we had the frittata toast and the chicken liver mouse toast.  The herb frittata toast I was not a big fan of but the chicken liver mouse was great.  They have several toasts on their menu and I think it is their best thing on the menu. Another one that I liked from previous times was the Gorgonzola toast.

Today we also had the roast beet salad with apple, which was very nice.  We also tried the figs stuffed with goat cheese.  They were good but I like them wrapped in bacon as they do at Quinn’s.  Other items we tried on the menu today was the Sausage with onions which was OK and the Ricotta Gnocchi with lamb leg which was delicious.  The dessert menu looked good, however, we were too full to have any.

I really enjoy Dinette and if you haven’t been there I would recommend trying it out.  My favorite pieces of the experience are the toasts.  Also the atmosphere is interesting too, their dishes are old school with different patterns and everyone always gets a different pattern.

On their website you can also sign up to get emails about their Sunday Supper. I have never been, however, would like to try it out.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Dinette
1514 East Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98122-2130
(206) 328-2282
Dinette on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cheesecake

 

Picture from Flickr GottaHaveMunkey Photostream

Cheesecake is believed to have originated in ancient Greece which I didn’t know.  Now a days there are hundreds of different cheesecake recipes, however, every cheesecake has some type of cheese. The most commonly used are cream cheese, Neufchatel, cottage cheese, ricotta, and quark cheese.

Growing up I wasn’t a big fan of cheesecake but that is because it was made out of a type of cottage cheese.  I didn’t start liking it until I had the cream cheese type or what is called today the New York cheesecake.

Now I love the New York style cheesecake but I had never made it before.  I like the simple plain cheesecake.  Nothing on, nothing inside just good creamy cheesecake with crispy bottom and it has to be home made, the store bought is just not the same thing.  After doing some research on this kind of cheesecake I found a recipe in my Cooks Illustrated magazine.  It takes awhile to cook but it is the best cheesecake ever.  You have to make this cheesecake when you have guests coming over, otherwise you will eat the whole thing.  Also warning it is very rich and creamy, but that is how I like it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

A common difficulty with baking cheesecakes is its tendency to “crack” when cooled. This is due to the coagulation of the beaten eggs in its batter. There are various methods to prevent this. One method is to bake the cheesecake in a hot water bath to ensure even heating. Other methods include blending a little cornstarch into the batter or baking the cheesecake at a lower temperature and slow cooling it in the oven, turned off, with the door ajar. If these methods fail, a common practice is to cover the top of the cheesecake with toppings such as fruit, whipped cream, or cookie crumbs. Alternatively, cracks can also be repaired by simply using a flat knife and some warm water. After the cake has been chilled for a few hours, simply dip the knife in warm water and mold the cheesecake as if sculpting. Cracks and unevenness can easily be taken care of in this fashion. This method also works well for repairing the sides and giving the final cheesecake a flawless look. For crater size cracks, try using the bits that are stuck on the side of the pan to help repair the damage.

My cheesecake did “crack”  when I cut into it but I didn’t follow the steps above nor did it matter to me.  It was still delicious.  Please share your ideas of how to make the cheesecake taste or not to “crack.”

Cheesecake (New York Style)

Apated from: Cooks Illustrated

Serves 10 to 12 | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: 70 minutes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
2 pounds Philadelphia cream cheese (4 bricks), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream

Heat the oven to 500 F.

Brush the sides and bottom of a 9” spring form pan with butter. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the bottom of the pan and tilt it to coat evenly with crumbs. Use your hands for this process, you might have to add some more butter.

Beat the cream cheese in a standing mixer until very smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed until sugar dissolves (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl after each addition. Add lemon zest and vanilla and beat just until incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in cream and sour cream with a wooden spoon.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cheesecake at 500 F for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 200, leaving the oven door open until temperature reduces. Bake until the cheesecake’s perimeter is set, but center jiggles when pan is tapped, about an hour. Turn off the heat and use a long-handled fork or spoon the hold the oven door open by about one foot. Let the cheesecake rest for an hour, then place it on a wire rack and let it cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake and refrigerate it until chilled, at least 4 hours.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Square Ladle

Square Ladle
Picture from Cooking Enthusiast

Here is another must have in your kitchen: The Square Ladle.  I use this for everything, soups, stews and anything with a sauce.  The square ladle is just so much better than a round one because it solves the problem of how to get into the crevices and edges of your pot.  You don’t know what you are missing until you get one.  Trust me, I always thought, it is a ladle how good can it be? This is a must have in your kitchen.  You can get it at Cooking Enthusiast. It is also a great gift idea for someone else who enjoys cooking or loves kitchen gadgets.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Art Review

Art

Picture from Art website

 

I have finally gone to Art which is at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle.  I have been wanting to go here for awhile just never made it there.  The atmosphere is very nice, and classic décor, just what I like in a restaurant.  Now to the food, I had the Scallop Carpaccio.  I am a huge Carpaccio fan and if there is Carpaccio on the menu I order it.  This was not very good.  First the scallop slices were a little to thick, also I feel that if you are serving Carpaccio with seafood it is supposed to be dressed with lemon or lime and make it a little sour, but this was dressed with caviar and some kind of aioli. Not something I would order again.  My husband had the chilled blue shrimp, and it was good but nothing out of the ordinary. For entrée I had the Truffle Gnocchi with truffle cheese and my husband had the dry aged beef striploin. Both very good, the gnocchi was very creamy and done perfectly however, very filling.  The Striploin was prepared perfectly too.  The entrees were very good but nothing out of the ordinary that i would get usually at a Four Seasons.  Then the dessert menu came.  WOW!  This was my kind of dessert menu, I wanted to order everything on the menu.  I couldn’t decide between the Apple pie, Molten Chocolate Cake, Warm Sticky Toffee pudding or the Vanilla Dusted Donuts. After awhile we decided to go with the Vanilla Dusted Donuts with maple ice cream and Washington huckleberry compote for two.  According to my husband who is the donut expert these were the best donuts he had ever had, he said these are better then the ones at Lola or the Dahlia Lounge donuts.  They were very good I have to agree but I am not the donut connoisseur. Overall I think Art is a good restaurant but I would probably just go back for the dessert menu. 

Art
99 Union St
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 749-7000
ART (Four Seasons) on Urbanspoon 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PF Chang’s China Bistro Review

PF Chang's China Bistro

Picture from PF Chang's China Bistro website

 

We went to PF Chang’s Friday night. I think PF Chang’s is one of those places that you can always count on. I have been to Hong Kong and had really good Chinese food, there are a few place in Seattle that you can get good Chinese Hong Kong style but that is different depending on where you are from. As most people know there are eight main regional cuisines, or Eight Great Traditions: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang. And in Hong Kong it is usual Cantonese style. But living on the East Cost, Chinese food there is very different and still really good. If you ask an East Coaster about Chinese in Seattle they will tell you that there are no good places. I think that Chinese food in Seattle is actually more like Chinese food, more of the none grease fresh things you can get in Hong Kong. But I enjoy both and I think you actually get a little of both in PF Chang’s. 

At PF Chang’s we ordered the Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Harvest Spring Rolls and Peking Dumplings for apptetizers. I really like the lettuce wraps and the spring rolls and dumplings were good too. The only problem I had was the sauce that came with the Harvest Spring Rolls, it was too sweet. 

Then for entrees we had the Chicken with Black Bean Sauce, Mongolian Beef and Singapore Street Noodles. The Singapore Street Noodles used to be my favorite item on the menu. But this time it wasn’t as good. I would say the Mongolian Beef was my favorite thing this time. 

PF Chang’s service is good the problem I have with this place is that it is loud and very large but it does serve my craving for Chinese food. 

PF Chang’s China Bistro
400 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 393-0070
P.F. Chang's China Bistro (Bellevue) on Urbanspoon 

 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Voila! Review

Voila
Picture from Voila website

Tonight we went to Voila– our neighborhood French Bistro. This is the third time we have been there and the place is great. The atmosphere is very cozy and the food is good. They always have a few specials to choose from. Tonight I started with an aperitif – Campari and orange juice, which is my favorite. As a starter I had the tuna Carpaccio which was delicious, and then one of my favorite things on their menu is their onion soup. It is Delishhh! With the soup I had a glass of Merlot. I have had their onion soup three times now and it is always good. My husband also had the onion soup and then their pan fried duck with potatoes that was their special for tonight. It was all very Delishhh! For dessert I just had some espresso ice-cream. In the past we have also had the Boeuf Bourguignon there, the Kobe Beef Hamburger and their Tarte Tatin all very good things to have. On top of that we had a very good looking waiter from Italy tonight and the service was excellent.

A great little neighborhood restaurant!

Voila
2805 E Madison St
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 322-5460
Voilà on Urbanspoon

 
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