We had a great dinner yesterday with some of our best friends. Chicken Shawarma was a hit. I'm not sure how authentic it is, but passed the 10-people test, required no additional spice purchases, and a guest asked to take some home. All good things.
What a treat! Cream puff from Beard Papa
was only a qualified success. Snickerdoodles, berries and fresh whipped cream do indeed play nicely together, but the cookie doesn't squish together as well as a cake. It was still fun and pretty.Beard Papa
cream puffs were an unexpected treat! Caramel is the flavor of the week and it is ono.
I will post the Shawarma recipe in a couple of days. This short week takes care of the leftovers and a request from the teenagers.
Nachos using Taco Meat
. It's a little quick for a re-run meal, but we have leftover Guacamole
and tortilla chips. To change it up, I added black beans. Instead of Spanish Rice
, I made purple rice, which is just a hint of sweet. We added leftover Greek Salad
I get a rare mid-week day off cooking. Thank you end of season Soccer Party!
All I do is bring two watermelons and stay out of the way as the team descends to feed.Thursday
A second attempt on Alan Wong's avocado poke stacks
from the Taste of Hawaii Tour in November. The Spam musubi mold worked out pretty well the first time, but it was a little time-consuming. I have a better idea for technique this time. Did I mention I have a *lot* of leftover guacamole?Friday
By request of the very helpful teenagers, Japanese Chicken Curry
. Yes, even though it's supposed to be 90 degrees in the Bay Area. It's easy and the kids love it.
Getting together with your ohana over a good meal and tons of re-hashed jokes never gets old.Eat Well. Be Well.
Fridge purge to make way for shawarma
A couple of days ago, we decided to have a quick Memorial Day BBQ/potluck. As of last night, we hadn't settled on what he would be grilling or anything else, for that matter. And my charming husband is playing golf today.
Thank God for the teenagers. Really and truly.
Left to our own devices, we purged the fridge, went shopping, prepped and have a complete BBQ for 10 or possibly 14 people this evening.
Chicken Shawarma, languishing in spice rub
Here's what we came up with.Chicken Shawarma with Pita bread and Tahini sauce
Made by me and cobbled from mostly Epicurious
. Decided by a second viewing of the Avengers. I don't have cardomom in-house, so I was looking for a cardamom-less version and more guidance than the mysterious "mixed spice" ingredient I also came across.Greek Salad
Done and prepped by Teenager #1Grilled Eggplant
To be grilled by charming husband/golferKing Egg Rolls
, brought by one of our guests/golfersLaurie's Guacamole
Done and made completely by Teenager #2Magical-Self Separating Finger Jello
Brought by the family of another golferSnickerdoodles, fresh berries and fresh maple whipped cream
To be made by Teenager #1. These are frozen "Fundraiser" cookies. Perhaps they can be marketed as "Snickerdoodle Shortcakes
." I like the sound of that.
Go from zero to full meal for at least 10 in two hours. Now it's time to clean the house.Eat Well. Be Well.
The venerable Empress Hotel. Victoria, BC
When one of the teenagers declares, "High Tea at the Empress Hotel was the best thing about our vacation.
" you know it has to be something amazing.
Why? Well, after all, it's the Empress Hotel
and they've been doing this fabulously well since 1908. The tea room is a huge European-style salon and you are served on Royal Doulton china and silverware. It is Old-School Fancy.
It's utterly civilized but never descends into snobbery. After settling into a perfectly set table near the fireplace, our first course of fresh strawberries with whipped cream appeared almost immediately. Just the simple act of being seated is a totally calming experiences and makes you feel like someone is taking care of you.
Next, we each chose our individual varieties of tea. Then four individual pots of tea come out with two sets of a stunning array of finger foods is gently deposited onto the middle of our table (see photo below).
Choose from 4 perfectly brewed varieties of tea
This is the 2-person portion--sandwiches, scones and sweets
Our server kindly explained that it's perfectly fine to use one's fingers and that one eats from the bottom to top. It goes from savory to sweet.
The bottom layer held a cucumber finger sandwich
, egg salad in a mini croissant, smoked salmon in a dark rye roll
and a pork pate on a crostini
. The first three were delicious, and it was quite surprising that these small sandwiches could be so filling.
Then we all stared down at the pork pate, the gatekeeper to the upper layers of goodness. My son said, "YOLO," teen-speak for "You Only Live Once" and took a bite. "Tastes like Spam, but better." That's all we needed to hear. Bottom layer was a clean plate.
The scones on plate two are the highlight. My husband makes good scones but I had to tell him that these were were better. Buttery, flaky, warm and just enough sweetness. Definitely one of the best things I've ever eaten. The top layers were a shortbread cookie, a marzipan petit fours, a lemon meringue tart, and a mini cheesecake. At the end, we were pleasantly full and none of us could finish everything.I cannot emphasize enough how kind and genuine the staff is
. They have impeccable manners and treat you like a treasured friend. Our server was more than happy to photograph us. He even offered additional scones ("You have growing kids!") and made sure that we took home any leftovers, including the unopened mini-jam jars. As part of the service, we all received 4 boxes of tea to take home as well. We were never rushed, and despite the fact that we were definitely on the 'casual' side of casual elegant dress, we just felt very welcome.Afternoon Tea at the Empress
is pricey. It was the most expensive meal we had. However, on this trip we opted not to buy "stuff" and tried to create memories--teenager charmed by afternoon tea? Priceless
.Eat Well. Be Well.
Hakone Garden, Saratoga
After two weeks of dine-out lunches and meandering about the San Francisco Bay area, Mom returned home to Hawaii. We sent her home with a suitcase full of Trader Joe's omiyage
and a list of Korean tofu houses in Honolulu.
Now, it's back on my own. Mom's not one for spicy food, so we're adding a little more pep. Here's what I am cooking this week. MondayOrange Salsa Pork Chops
, Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
, rice, and curry-roasted cauliflower.
Straw, blue, rasp and blackberries!
| |FridayTacos--No Mix
, and my own GuacamoleAfternoon snacks for the ravenous teenagers
Berries are in peak season. Drizzled with yogurt and granola. I've also bought fresh tamales from Whole Foods, tortillas with shredded cheese and salsa, Kee Wah Bakery croissants and pork curry puffs, and yes, two bags of potato chips.
After all, they are teenagers. Eat Well. Be Well.
Because Mom has been continuing her tour of Bay Area eateries, including a second tofu house, there have been a lot of leftovers for dinner. This week's selection included dim sum
, Korean tofu house #2
, and Japanese curry
I actually missed making dinner. So here's what cooking for the rest of the week.ThursdayBraised kabocha
, made by MomMy Mom's Chicken Katsu
, made by meEasy Roasted Asparagus
, requested by Mom
Spaghetti with Simple Tomato Sauce
, requested by Mom.Eat Well. Be Well.
We recently spent a week in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. It is an amazing city and a mighty fine town for eating.
While I've already noted Japadog
, here is the dessert menu
--simple, down-home sweetness to try when you are North of the Border.
from anywhere, but we got ours from Be 'wiched Cafe in Surrey
Pronounced nuh-NYE-moe, this is a regional dessert/snack named after the city where it was invented. It's a crispy coconutty, graham cracker crust, a smooth custard in the middle, and topped with a thick layer bittersweet chocolate/fudge. It looks like it should be a ridiculously dense ride, but somehow it's rich, full flavor without being too heavy. Except that you can't eat too much of it at once, and Lord knows I wanted to. Need a recipe!
Beaver Tail with maple creme and a chocolate drizzle
at Lonsdale Quay Markets
I'm quite sure this is a very touristy thing, but hey, we were tourists. A BeaverTail resembles a flattened churro or oblong funnel cake. Then, like a pizza, pick your toppings--Nutella, maple creme, caramel, chocolate, Reese's pieces, strawberry sauce. Since the bread is already a little sweet, I recommend going moderately on the toppings.
Maple creme with chocolate drizzles was eye-rolling good. Nutella with bananas *and* Reese's Pieces was overkill.
We also loved that food labels in Canada are in both English and French. Let's face it, having a BeaverTail sounds just plain weird, but Patisserie Queues de Castor, who wouldn't want to eat that?
Side 1 French
Side 2 English
Mr. Christie's Maple Leaf Cookies from Safeway
The first thing you smell when you open the bag is a lovely, almost caramel maple scent. We stopped in a Safeway on the drive back to the US and picked these up on a lark. These were so good that we conscripted a Canadian friend to bring 2 more boxes home for us.
With apologies to my Canadian ohana, we didn't even make it to Tim Hortons
. This seems like reason enough to go back again soon.Eat Well. Be Well.
When my mother visits, she is On Vacation. She doesn't cook and gets taken places. It's a fair trade for a lifetime of cooking for at least 7 people on a near-daily basis. A vacation day consists of a morning outing, lunch and an afternoon nap. Here is where the Lady Who Lunches has eaten, so far.
Tofu House in Santa Clara
My mother is IN LOVE with this place. So much so that she has asked, every day since, when we can go back. It's charming and quirky. For starters, all of the chairs have split-open tennis balls on the bottom of their legs so that they 1) don't scratch the floor and 2) don't make noise. I know you have all seen this done with Senior-citizen walkers, and it's quite a sight when all the chairs are wearing tennis ball shoes.
Tofu House offers a variety of hot stone bowl tofu soup, plus Korean bbq and bibimbop. All can be made in a variety of spice levels (from no-spice, which Mom likes, all the way to holy stinkin' hot) and come with an assortment of kim chee, vegetables and a dish of purple rice.
It's just good homey food, served by people who are happy to be there. The manager is an infectiously happy Korean gent who hands you a stick of melon gum and thanks you personally as you leave. Since it was close to Mothers Day, he "secretly" gave my mom and her friend a whole pack of gum each, and told them how happy he was that they tried the restaurant. Is it any wonder my mother is in love?
| || |Lunch with Rodin--Cool Cafe @ Stanford Museum
A small cafe tucked into the rarefied air of the Stanford Museum
. The menu is primarily salads and sandwiches with mostly organic ingredients from local farms and dairies. A mushroom burger with Point Reyes bleu cheese was tasty and just the right size, but really, it's the ambiance of eating next to the Gates of Hell, with nary a tennis ball-clad chair in sight.
Kitsho Japanese Restaurant
The dingy exterior, plus the crinkly hand-printed sign that reads "Do not put important items in your car, such as wallets computers...windows have been broken" does not instill confidence.
But my in-laws and my mom swear by Kitsho. For more traditional Japanese fare, this is the place. Miso eggplant, fish and sushi are all excellent. My mom declared the miso soup and "shiru" (broth) for udon to be top-notch.
Oryza @ Valley Fair
Last, but definitely not least. Mom and I just had lunch at Oryza
in Valley Fair. It's called "Bistro Asiana" and for our lunch it was good, mostly Thai Food. At about $8-10 each, the lunch specials are a great alternative to the Cheesecake Factory or CPK if you need to fuel up when shopping.
However, the service here is AWESOME
. They gave us a wheelchair-friendly table. They were attentive and just plain kind. Mom wanted to try a curry with kabocha but wasn't sure she could tolerate a spicy curry. Without being asked, the server brought out a small sample of the pumpkin curry to her to try. It's delicious.
However, she decided the pumpkin curry was too spicy, and settled on a mild yellow curry. When the chef heard this, he added kabocha to the yellow curry. Mom was thrilled and thoroughly enjoyed the entire lunch. Yellow curry (plus pumpkin) and a shared green papaya salad. I would happily go there again, simply because they were so kind.
And what do Ladies who Lunch have for dinner? Leftovers, so look for a delayed weekly menu.Eat Well. Be Well.
Inari sushi. Made by Mom and kids.
My mother is visiting. She is on vacation, so this means she gets taken where she wants and eats as she pleases. This week's proposed menu did not please her, so changes were in order. Here is what's really cooking for the next couple of days.TuesdayMisoyaki salmon
and inari sushi. With all the other fish in Hawaii, Mom doesn't eat salmon much. Luckily salmon season started a couple of weeks ago and we have fresh salmon!
She also brought some ready-made sushi mix because "she" wanted to "make" inari sushi for us. She just needed "only a little bit" of help. All I had to do was make rice, finely slice and boil 19 green beans (to Mom's exacting standards), go to two Safeways in an unsuccessful attempt to get kamaboko, make some scrambled eggs to make up for the non-kamaboko, and mix the rice. Then Mom put the kids to work to stuff them. Subliminal delegation at its finest.
However, to my sisters, I say, "Whoo-hoo! Mom made us sushi!"WednesdayMediterranean Lamb Stir-fry
. Mom wanted to eat lamb because this is not a staple of an Asian/Hawaiian food. For example, I challenge anyone to find lamb plate lunch options. You can have teriyaki beef, chicken, fish or pork, but who has eaten teriyaki lamb? While Parker Ranch is still an active cattle farm, I don't know of any sheep farming in Hawaii. After all, who needs wool sweater in Hawaii?! Tonight Mom was pleased. Life is good.
Bonus Sightseeing--San Jose Rose Garden
Mom loves flowers, so we took a field trip to the San Jose Rose Garden. It's well worth the trip. Right now. While the roses are in full first bloom. Staffed completely by volunteers, the Rose Garden uses no chemical pesticides and treats the soil with only organic materials. And it has the greatest number of varieties of roses of any public garden in the US. It is simply beautiful.
Take time to smell the roses.
We can carry the vegetarian challenge one more day, especially since the hot weather makes me unlikely to want to cook anything. But meat returns, and the husband is relieved. Here's what's cooking this week.Monday
It was about 90 degrees in the Bay Area today and I really didn't feel like cooking. So I've made a variation on C's Orzo Salad
that requires even less cooking. I'm calling it On-the-fly Orzo Salad
, and it's at the bottom of C's Orzo Salad page
. Fresh berries and maple yogurt
for dessert. Instead of cooking onions and corn, I'm using fresh mozzarella balls, red peppers, cucumbers, a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, the last of the roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and a little bit of balsamic vinegar.
Kai choy in the garden
TuesdayBanish the Bottle Teriyaki Chicken
, musubi, Ponzu parmesan yaki corn, and kai choy sauteed in the teriyaki sauce. Kai choy is in season and the hot weather will either wilt it or turn it to seed, so we'll be eating a lot of it this week.WednesdayNakayoshi Gakko Somen Salad
. Both my kids have after-school sports on Wednesdays now, so it has to be something that can be made well in advance. Another great hot weather meal salad.ThursdayAmped Up Macaroni and Cheese
and the other half of double batch of From Scratch Pork Loin
that I made a couple of weeks ago and froze.Friday
Fish and rice. Omi's Shoyu Fish
, rice and more kai choy.Snacks and lunch food
Decidedly vegetable based for my voracious teenagers. Fresh black-, blue- and straw-berries. Fluffy Wheat Bread
, Steve's Hummus
, roasted cauliflower with curry (as suggested from Facebook), Baba Ghanouj
and more Roasted Tomatoes
Fresh vegetables, in-season berries and warmer weather. Finally on our way to summer.Eat Well. Be Well.
Omi's Shoyu Fish
Nakayoshi Gakko Somen Salad
I did it. 5 days of vegetarian dinners, even with an unplanned night out at DishDash
with a friend who was in town on business. Although an unidentified member of the household opted for lamb kebabs on the night out, I've been completely meat-free since Sunday night. I don't feel any different. I'm not craving cheeseburgers, but I am still reminiscing about Japadog
This wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I had some lovely and perfectly filling lunches (below).
Apples, brie, nuts and crackers
Trader Joe's pizza and salad
Lunch highlights included the fruit, cheese nut plate
(above left), a Trader Joe's Pizza Olympia and a green salad
(above right), leftover DishDash Sambusak
However, "going vegetarian" does not necessarily equate to healthy eating. For example, here is a list of completely and perfectly vegetarian foodstuffs that definitely do not constitute a healthy lunch.
1) Potato chips: Many are marketed as gluten-free to boot.
2) Chocorooms (left): Addictive little Japanese biscuits with chocolate in the shape of mushrooms. Like real mushrooms, they are cholesterol-free.
3) Communion wafers: these have obvious spiritual benefit.
4) Soft drinks, specifically diet Cherry Coke. Absolutely no nutritional value, but on a Thursday afternoon that included a carpool, a broken car radiator and a funeral, emotionally, it ranked up there with the communion wafer.
5) See's Candy Molasses Chips and Dark Chocolate Frango Mints
So while I won't give up four legs, feathers or gills completely, I can envision 2 or perhaps even 3 vegetarian dinners per week. A friend of mine has the great suggestion of roasting vegetables over the weekend, storing them in baggies and then using them throughought the week.
So I can definitely see vegetarian lunches exclusively. As long as it's not Chocorooms, potato chips and Diet Coke. At least not very often.
Eat Well. Be Well.