Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wedding Food

My sister's wedding took place in a lovely restaurant, so all the catering and food was done on site.  You'll notice in the pictures that there is no cake, for there was no cake.  Everything was quite delicious though.

Spring rolls
Tempura veggies: broccoli, carrots, and onion.

Tiny creme brulee shots with a raspberry on top <3
Not sure what this was, but it tasted a bit like a turtle with the caramel and nuts.
Salmon nachos.  These were the best.  Unfortunately they kept disappearing as soon as they were brought out, so I only got one.
Artichoke heart bruschetta.  Nomnom.

Right now I'm in the process of making jello shots and playing video games, so that's all for now!

Food Pictures

Haven't had a lot of time on the computer since I left Georgia and arrived in San Diego.  Having a great time with my friends.  Currently we're staying in Riverside and ate at a delicious restaurant called Hot Chicks.  The food was amazingly delicious and the presentation was nice as well, so I snapped a few pictures with my cell.

Mellie's meal.  Chicken, green beans, and rice.
Monica's Kung Pao Chicken and salad.
Maggie's duck with bok choi.  Didn't get a picture of it until after we chowed down.

Rick's fried noodles.  Yum.
My delicious tempura shrimp and udon noodle soup.  The chopsticks were quite slippery and difficult to use.  I also had an iced thai boba tea.

The day before we ate at a sushi place and three of us split 6 half rolls and a couple desserts.

I loved the presentation with the orchid flowers.

My tempura banana and ice cream with a chocolate drizzle.  The mint added a nice touch.

Monica and Mellie split some lemon cake, but I'm not really a fan.

From lunch today at Phood on Main:

My open faced tuna melt with capers.  So good and so filling.

Monica and Mellie split a few things, including this delicious papaya and spinach salad.

Then we went to a cupcake store as I was promised cupcakes.

Quite a selection, it was difficult for me to choose.

Mellie got a cinnamon and brown sugar cupcake that was amazing.

Monica got the flavor of the month- mint and chocolate oreo.

I got a raspberry cupcake nomnomnom.

I still have wedding food pictures to upload but they're on my camera still.  I'll get to those soon. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Restaurant Review: Rhineheart's Oyster Bar

The location of last night's dinner and today's lunch, but I managed to snag some pictures this time.  Last time I visited Augusta, GA I ate here as well.  For some reason people keep insisting we go back despite plenty of other interesting looking restaurants we haven't tried nearby.  I'm always the type that likes to go with the new and different rather than sticking to the same thing over and over.  Especially for two days in a row.

Apparently this place started mostly as a oyster bar for people who didn't want to dress up fancy to eat seafood.  The restaurant itself reflects that.  The tables are those wooden picnic benches where people have covered every visible surface with stupid marker messages and it has expanded all over the walls as well.  The entire restaurant feels kinda dirty and gross but apparently that's the atmosphere they're trying to promote.

The food is decent and reasonably priced for what it is.  The lunch specials are plenty of food without making you leave hungry.  However I wasn't particularly hungry to begin with having just eaten some fruit back in the hotel room, so I just ate off my parents' plates.

I tried to take some pictures of the food but my cellphone camera isn't the best and the restaurant itself is so dark that it was impossible to get decent lighting.

My mother ordered some fried fish with french fries.  The fish was rather tender and juicy, but the french fries were far too mushy and soggy. 

My father ordered some jambalaya.  The rice was good and so was the meat, but overall it just lacked flavor.  However my personal preferences lean toward food having plenty of spices.  The shrimp was also decent but nothing special.

Overall it was an okay experience, the food was decent and decently priced.  It just didn't justify going back two days in a row.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Butternut Squash Casserole

Haven't had a lot of time to do a new post today, busy with relatives before the wedding tomorrow.  We ate at a seafood restaurant for lunch that was quite delicious, but I forgot to take any pictures of my meal.  I had some tilapia and shrimp.  Delicious!

Here's another recipe for butternut squash, this time a casserole.

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package vanilla wafers, crushed
  • 1/2 cup margarine, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 425F
  2. Put butternut squash in the microwave and cook on high, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Cut in half, scoop out seeds and cube. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add squash and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash.
  3. In a 9x13 inch casserole dish combine 3 cups mashed butternut squash, white sugar, milk, vanilla extract, salt, flour, eggs and 1/4 cup melted margarine.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until set.
  5. In a medium bowl combine crushed vanilla wafers, 1/2 cup melted margarine and brown sugar. Crumble over top of cooked casserole and return to oven to brown.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

I think I'm going to do weekly themed recipes focusing on a single ingredient.  As you may have noticed, this week has been butternut squash.  If you have any ideas for next week or what sorts of recipes you'd like to see, feel free to comment suggestions!  :)

I've been traveling all day and haven't had much sleep or much time, but before I get some zzz's here is a rather simple recipe for butternut squash soup.  Yum!  Sunday is my sister's wedding, so look forward to a fun food review and pictures!

6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks butternut squash
Melted butter, for brushing
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon minced ginger
4 ounces heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

- Preheat your oven to 400F.

-Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper. On a sheet pan lay the squash flesh side up. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.

-Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Simple and delicious!  I love soups this time of year.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spice Spotlight: Cinnamon

Cinnamon originates from the bark of a group of related trees.  The different species and cultivars have different properties and uses.  It is considered a "warm" spice.  Mexico is actually the main importer of cinnamon in the world.  Cassia is closely related with a similar flavor but is not considered a "true" cinnamon, though it is legally sold under that name in the US (though it's outlawed in many other countries).  You can either buy cinnamon in its ground form or in a stick.

I know as a kid I was confused why people would put something as delicious as cinnamon on something undelicious as a stick, but after growing the plant myself I learnt that was its natural form!  Of course it's not technically a "stick" but a curled piece of bark.  The leaves of the tree also contain the aromatic oils.  During a 6-month internship where a cinnamon tree was in my care, I plucked off a leaf every day just to break it open and smell the cinnamon. 

To create more shoots to maximize the yield of bark from a single plant, cinnamon farmers use a cultivation technique called coppicing.  Here's a little diagram to explain the process:

Cinnamon is an interesting flavor because it can be mild and sweet or quite strong and spicy depending on how it's used.  I also have a love/hate relationship with it.  Some of my favorite and least favorite dishes include cinnamon.

Cinnamon rolls are one of my true weaknesses, though cinnamon toast is an easy and acceptable alternative.

Where I start hating cinnamon is in those nasty red hot candies and surprisingly enough, mixed with fruit.  Apple pie tops my list of most hated desserts, as un-American as that may be.

Hate cinnamon?  Love it?  What sorts of ways do you like to utilize this spice in your cooking?

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Cheese or meat being the only pasta options just not doing it for you?  To continue on with the butternut squash theme for the week... Squash or pumpkin ravioli is a tasty and interesting alternative to this favorite.  Unfortunately(?) you're not going to find it in a Chef Boyardee can, though Lean Cuisine does have a microwavable version for those who rather go the lazy quick route.  But for those that want to try making it themselves, here's a good recipe to get started.


2 butternut squash
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 tablespoon finely-chopped orange zest
2 teaspoons chipotle puree
1/4 cup finely-chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely-grated Parmesan cheese

4 sheets pasta dough- 12" to 14" long by 4" wide
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
Finely-chopped chives, for garnish
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 cup coarsely-ground hazelnuts
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 sage leaves, cut chiffonade

-Preheat your oven to 450F.  Cut your squash lengthwise and remove the seeds, then place on baking sheet to roast until the flesh is soft.  Remove the flesh from the skin and run through a food mill.

-In a medium saucepan, cook the puree on low heat until almost dry.  Now add the rest of the spices and ingredients for the filling, mixing them evenly into the squash.  Feel free to add as much salt and pepper as you desire.

-Now lay out a sheet of your pasta dough on a lightly floured flat surface.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out heaping portions of the filling onto the dough at least 2" apart.  Prepare an eggwash of the 2 egg whites and 2 tablespoons of water to moisten the edges of the pasta sheet with either your fingertips or a brush.

-Place the second sheet of pasta dough on top of the first and press the edges together and separate the rows of filling to form individual pockets for your ravioli.  Repeat with the other two remaining dough sheets.

-Using a ravioli cutter or pastry wheel, cut in long straight lines across the dough in a grid for each individual ravioli.    Make sure to press and seal the edges.

-In a large pot of salted, boiling water, drop in your ravioli (carefully) and cook for about 5 minutes.  Drain the water and put them on a clean plate.

-To make your brown butter sauce, just melt the butter in a medium saute pan on a medium-high heat.  Add your hazelnuts (or even substitute with pine nuts, yum!) and cook until the nuts are golden brown.  Now add the heavy cream and cook for another 1 minute.  Add the safe and season with salt and pepper to taste.

-Lastly, add your sauce over the raviolis and add some chopped chives for garnish.  Delicious!

Also if you're feeling brave, try making your own pasta dough instead!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Edible Flowers: Pansy

It's not particularly popular in the US to eat flowers, so it's only sense I've started doing some of my own gardening that I discovered the joys of edible flowers.  Pansies are a rather common and basic one, so it'll be a fun one to start off with.

Just a word of caution, do not eat flowers if it's been treated with pesticides!  Growing your own from seed is the safest way since you know for certain where the plant has been.  Also make sure you wash flowers before eating, but that should be common sense.

The entire flower of a pansy is edible, but it's good to be aware that some flowers only the petals may be.  Make sure to look anything up before ingesting it.  Pansies have a mild and somewhat minty flavor and they're great as a garnish.

Ideas on ways to eat pansies:
Fresh in a salad
On a cake
Frozen into ice cubes!

or my favorite, candied!

So how do you go about sugar coating a pansy or any other edible flower?  The first time I did it, it was an intimidating and messy process with more failure than success, but a little practice and you'll get the hang of it for sure.

First gently wash the fresh flowers off (you don't want to bruise them) and pat them dry with a paper towel.  Lay them out on a dry paper towel, which will help pull out excess moisture.

Next you want to prepare an egg wash using whisked egg whites.  Paint the egg whites on with a food safe paint brush (not one you've used for other purposes!)  

Using a fine sugar (not your regular sugar but not as fine as powdered, castor sugar should be fine) you can now sprinkle the flowers.  Shake off any excess and place the pansies somewhere warm to dry for about an hour.

These can last a few days, but I wouldn't wait too long to eat them!

Product Review: Garlic Jalapeno Mustard

Thought after a recipe, I might as well do a review of one of my favorite new products.  I picked this up at my local Renaissance Festival last weekend and have been in love ever since.  I've never been a fan of the typical yellow mustard, but have always enjoy the ones with a bite more bite like dijons.  I admit it was the "garlic" part that pulled me over to the booth, and I wouldn't have given this product a second glance if it weren't for the fact they were giving out samples with little pretzel sticks.  I must say this is one of the best mustards I've had.  It's smooth and creamy (although I usually enjoy textured mustards) but the garlic and jalapeno give it an amazing taste.  It's just spicy enough to enjoy without being overpowering, so it's good for a casual sandwich.  I also have tried mixing this with soy sauce to eat steam pork potstickers and it was delicious.

Best part is that it's only 10 calories per serving, so I can have as much as I want without feeling guilty.

For anybody curious, check out their website.

Butternut Squash Pie

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and that means plenty of traditional recipes that your family may have been making the same way generation after generation.  But why not try a new twist this year?  Instead of pumpkin, a butternut squash pie can be quite delicious and more mild in flavor for those that find pumpkin pie a bit sharp.

This calls for actual butternut squash which is easily found at grocery stores this time of year.  Please don't tell me you make your pumpkin pie out of a can! :(

Here's a butternut squash for those who have never eaten one.

The total prep time for this recipe is about 2 hours
Baking time is 30-35 minutes

2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups cooked squash, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBSP flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

and of course 1 9" pie shell!

To prepare your butternut squash, first start by cutting lengthwise (like the picture above) and then removing the seeds.  Baste the squash with butter and then cover the cut side with foil, placing it in a baking pan to bake in the oven at 375F for 1 hour.  When done it should be tender to the fork.  After removing from the oven, turn the squash to allow the juices to drain into the pan and then allow the squash to cool.  Peel the skin from the squash and then mash until you have the desired amount.

Using a double boiler, now heat the milk and your mashed squash.  Do not boil at any point!  In a separate bowl begin mixing your sugar, flour, and spices before beating in 2 eggs.  Once the mixture is well whisked, add it to the double boiler with your milk and squash.  Stir together and then pour it into the pie shell while still warm.  Begin baking the pie at 400F for 10 minutes, then reduce your heat to 350F for the remaining 15-20 for the pie to set.

Hope you enjoy!