Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Woolworth Building- Experimental Cafe

So has been a great New Year's Eve. A friend at work took me to lunch at the Experimental Cafe which is in the restored Woolworth Building in Oxnard. If you are ever in Oxnard, this is a great place for lunch. Otherwise, stay away from Oxnard. I grew up there so I can talk smack, but you can't. LOL. When I was little, Oxnard was tons and tons of fields and miles and miles of beach. Now it's too crowded, full of run-down buildings, strip malls and constructions projects that never seem to be completed. Ok, enough of the rant and on to the food. We started with bruschetta...the bread was warm and toasty, the tomatoes were fresh and the shaving of parmesan cheese oh so yummy. Then I had the roast beef panini and she had the italian panini. The panini was good, although the onions were cut too big. On the side were pita chips and hummus....yum! Dessert....oh my goodness....heavenly coconut cake. I LOVE coconut cake. I will definitely be going again for lunch. Thank you to Teryn for treating me to lunch. If you read this blog, know how much your generosity and kindness are appreciated.

Here is the link for the restaurant should you choose to be brave a visit to Oxnard (AKA the Nard).

Gateau A L'Orange (Orange Spongecake)

I love the scene in the movie Julie & Julia when Julie toast Julia Child and says "Julia Child you are so good" that is how I feel about her too. Everything I have made from Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been fantastic. The recipes are easy to follow and although the ingredients always call for butter, eggs and/or cream... I don't care because it's worth it. The other night I made Gateau A L'Orange (Orange Spongecake) and it was spongy goodness. Having it for dessert the next night, I improvised by sprinkling a little Grand Marnier on top and topping with vanilla ice cream. Yum! The photo is the cake with powdered sugar and whipped cream. Yum again!

Here is the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 deg.

You will need:
A round cake pan 9 x 1 1/2 inches (I used a springform pan)

2/3 granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
zest of one orange
1/3 C strained orange juice (next time I'll add a little Grand Marnier as well)
pinches of salt
3/4 C cake flour
4 egg whites
1 T granulated sugar

Butter and flour cake pan (I also lined mine with parchment paper on the bottom)

Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating until the mixture thickens to form a ribbon. Add the orange zest, orange juice and a pinch of salt. Beat for a moment or two until mixture is light and foamy. Then beat in the flour.

Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter, delicately fold in the rest.

Immediately turn into prepared cake pan and run the batter up to the rim all around. Bake in the middle position of a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, browned and shows a faint line of shrinkage from the edge of the mold.

Chicken-Andouille Casserole

I love any reason to use my Grandma's dutch oven so when I came across this recipe on the Food Network website yesterday I knew it was the perfect meal for a cold rainy night. There are quite a few steps to the recipe, but it's easy and oh so delicious. The photos (sorry they are a little blurry) do not do this recipe justice. I forgot to buy parsley so I added a little extra green onion. I used dried tarragon instead of fresh. I had half&half in the fridge already so I substituted that for the heavy cream. And I used Emeril's Bayou Blast seasoning rather than the Essence of Emeril. This recipe will definitely go in the file to make again in the future. Yum!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drunken Pasta

The wine...yum!
The pasta...yum!
My kitty...checking out the spot where the big pasta pot sits.
Steven with the leftover pasta.

My friend Steven was visiting from Seattle for Christmas and stopped by for dinner the other night. I had received several bottles of wine as gifts so I thought I'd make a drunken pasta recipe I'd seen on Rachael Ray. It was delicious. I will warn you though....after I brought the wine/water to a boil, as soon as I added the salt it bubbled over and spit foamy wine all over the stovetop and floor. I still don't know what caused it but the dish was worth the clean-up. Here is the link for the recipe

Friday, December 18, 2009

Soupe à L’oignon Gratinée – French Onion Soup

I received Mastering the After of French Cooking as an early Christmas gift and couldn't wait to make my favorite soup- Soupe à L’oignon Gratinée – French Onion Soup
It smelled so wonderful simmering on the stove and Julia Child's recipe did not disappoint. The broth was full of flavor, the onions we tender and the cheese was oh so gooey. I loved every bite and slurp. I hope you have a chance to make it.
Here is the link to the recipe, but in honor of Julia, I recommend you buy her cookbook.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Satay Peanut Sauce

Last night my husband and I had plans to walk thru Candy Cane Lane in our town so dinner needed to be quick. I picked up a jar of Satay Peanut Sauce from Trader Joes which I had never made before. I sauteed some chicken and snap peas then added the sauce to the pan. It was really thick so I thinned it with some chicken stock. I served it with a side of couscous and a plate of oranges. The sauce was a little sweet for my taste and it probably would have been better served as part of a noodle salad, but if you like a sweet tang to your peanut sauce, check it out.
Also, Trader Joes has a great deal on organic oranges right now. They are delicious.
I received my first Christmas gift last night and I'm so excited to be the proud owner of Mastering the Art of French Cooking! I'm sure I'll be posting recipes from it soon. Yay!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Potluck

Our table of abundance.

Cheesecake brought by our friends from Bristol Farms.

Cookies I made for our friends to take home after the party.

Last night we had our friends over for a Post-Thanksgiving Potluck. It was a great night of food, drinks and games. We had everything you could possibly want to eat, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rice, kahlua pork, cranberry sauce, stuffing, cheesecake, cookies, pomegranate fizzes and beer for the boys.
I made my favorite stuffing recipe.

1 box cornbread stuffing cubes (I don't use the seasoning packet)
2 apples, preferably granny smith, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 package of breakfast chicken sausage from Trader Joes (remove casing)
1/4 C unsalted butter
4 C low-sodium chicken stock
1 t celery seed
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 C toasted pecan pieces (optional)

Brown the sausage, depending on how much fat is rendered you may need to add a little EVOO to the pan before you add the onions and apples. Once sausage is brown, add onions and apples. Cook until soft. Melt butter in pan, then add chicken stock, celery seed, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, add cornbread cubes and remove from heat. Once stock is absorbed into cornbread cubes, fluff with fork and add pecans. Mix until well combined.

The recipe was a hit, but the star of the night was the kahlua pork brought by our friends. So much yummy food to enjoy and definitely enough food for days of leftovers. Which means I'll have a nice break from the kitchen to get some Christmas chores done.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Every Thursday we get together with some friends at Lupes for cheap but so yummy Mexican food. We all order al a carte to keep the cost down and fill up on many bowls of chips and salsa. The waiters know us and it's become a Thursday tradition. We look forward to it and post on Facebook all day the countdown for Lupes. So last night I decided to be brave and take my camera. It was a little embarassing photographing my food at the table but it was worth it to share a little piece of Lupes with the blogging world.
Do you have a favorite restaurant or a tradition you share with your friends?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is It Really Better Than Sex Cake?

This cake is easy and oh so delicious. Normally I am not a fan of boxed cake, but this is an exception. My friend received a cake carrier as a wedding gift and I offered to fill it for her since she doesn't bake very often. She had us over for dinner and I brought the cake. The photo isn't great and since I didn't have my camera at her house I don't have a photo of it sliced, but trust me it's worth making. It's pineapply, coconuty and could it really be better than sex? I'll let you try out the recipe and tell me what you think.
I've attached the link below. It's a Paula Deen recipe- queen of butter, sugar and whipped cream.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bluberry Coconut Coffee Cake from "For The Love of Cooking" Blog

Quick post before bed. I made this coffee cake last night and it was delicious. My photos are not nearly as good as the ones on her blog so I'm posting the link.
Note: I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Molasses Spice Cookies

This weekend my nieces were starring in the Nutcracker ballet and my sister in-law invited us to stay at her house for the weekend. As a thank you for her hospitality, I made Molasses Spice Cookies. I make these a few times a year and they are always a huge hit. They don't keep for very long so make sure you freeze them if they won't be eaten within a few days. I'm posting the link for the recipe, since typing all the instructions seems like too daunting a task this evening. Especially since we drove home from San Diego today and just finished putting up our Christmas tree (I'll post a photo of the tree since it's so sparkly and I can't resist sharing).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tarte D'Champignon (French Style Flat Bread)

Trader Joes is my favorite place to shop for food. I usually shop in the evening and more often than not they have samples of new products to try. The other day I was tempted to try a new flat bread and it was soooo yummy I bought a box to make for dinner that night. We had antipasto salad on the side. I baked it on a pizza stone but I'm sure a cookie sheet will work just as well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving in AZ

My husband and I drove to Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Since my grandparents are older and my mom doesn't cook, I was in charge of the feast. The plan was to leave the house at 3am Thanksgiving morning, arrive at 10am, start cooking and be ready to eat by 5pm. Well, all did not go according to plan. Somehow, I managed to go the wrong way and ended up about 50 miles outside of Vegas before I realized my error. The upsetness and frustration I was feeling was definitely not thankful. My husband slept thru this entire incident only for me to wake him up not because we had arrived, but because he needed to navigate me out of the mess. So, a shortcut thru the mountains got us to my grandparents house 3 hours late. In the end, it was fine. My mom has purchased a much smaller turkey than I thought so we still ate at a decent dinner hour. I remain the laughingstock of my family when it comes to driving to AZ since this is the 3rd time I've gone the wrong way.
I made the usual Thanksgiving dishes since my family likes very traditional food and nothing fancy. I must share this cranberry dish with you. It's fantastic. I know Grand Marnier is a little expensive, but I bought a small bottle and it was totally worth it.