Archives for category: Pastry

To know me is to know that I have many random questions in my brain. Some of those questions I research, some I leave as questions in my brain because I don’t feel like doing the research. Well, one day I had the question: Is there a difference between a pancake and a flapjack? After doing some Internet research, I discovered that in the US, the words are synonymous with only a bit of argument here and there about how thick one is supposed to be compared the other. But that makes no difference to me. More than likely it’s regional.

However, according to the Internet, a flapjack in Britain is a lot different than a flapjack in the US. Apparently a flapjack to the British is like a granola bar in the US. I’m not usually a granola bar person, but the recipes looked so easy and so appealing that I decided to give it a try. And my first and only attempt at making a British-style flapjack was a hit! I have no idea how authentic my flapjacks are, but I don’t care because my family and I loved them. Authenticity can fly out the window.

Then, of course, my little brain started to think. What other British foods are there that didn’t quite come over to the US in the same form or even at all? Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t decided on a theme for this month’s Themed Thursday. Now I had one – British food! So I found a book at a local library called Cooking the English Way by Barbara W. Hill.

Believe it or not, the recipes seemed pretty normal to a person from the US – roast beef, roasted potatoes, shepherd’s pie, scones, gingerbread, etc. The only recipes in the book that the US didn’t adopt for the most part were “mushrooms on toast” for breakfast and Yorkshire pudding. But I hate mushrooms and the Yorkshire pudding seemed like too much work and I was feeling lazy. So I gave up for the day.

I hadn’t given up completely on my British food idea, but I was no longer sure what to do. Then I watched A Grammy Salute – The Beatles 50th Anniversary: The Night That Changed America.

Man, I have to stop here to say how much I love The Beatles. Yes, I’m technically too young for them, but that’s the beauty of the Fab Four – they’re timeless. After watching the tribute, my little heart swelled in adoration, and I had a new plan. I would honor The Beatles in my own way by creating recipes based on foods mentioned in their songs. Of course, the first song I thought of suited my purposes the best – George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle.” What better song for a person with a sweet tooth? Mmmmm! (I choose to ignore its warnings and focus on the deliciousness.) And it just so happens that February is George’s birthday month. Perfect!

Taken from the song, I chose to create a coffee dessert (this one has endless possibilities!) and a nice apple tart to accompany the British flapjacks. Let me tell you, this month’s theme was so tasty and so much fun, that I might have to honor The Beatles (and George Harrison) another time!

Beatles theme

British-Style Flapjacks

  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ cup quick-cooking oats
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries (or use your favorite berry or raisins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and honey. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter and sugar have melted. Stir in oats and berries until coated. Pour into bread pan or small square baking pan. Mixture should be about 1-in thick. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden. Cut into squares, then leave to cool completely before removing from the pan.

 Coffee Dessert

(based off recipe “Christmas Morning Coffee” from The Best of Christmas at Home Cookbook)

  • 1 pot (10 cups) brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Milk or whipped cream, optional

Prepare coffee. While coffee is brewing, in a small saucepan, heat water to a low boil over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring back to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Combine coffee with cocoa mixture. Pour into mugs and serve with milk or whipped cream, if desired.

 Easy Apple Tart

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 package refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 can apple pie filling
  • ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray mini pie tins (or tart pans) with cooking spray. Cut and fit crust into each tin. Place tins in oven and bake 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix pie filling, milk, and honey in a bowl. When crusts are golden brown, remove and let cool. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F. Fill each crust with apple pie mix. Cover each pie with foil and poke holes in the foil to let breathe. Bake pies in oven for 20 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

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Wing and I got the idea for these tasty desserts from a Thai restaurant that’s in the college area. We weren’t impressed by the restaurant itself when there are so many great Thai restaurants in San Diego (which is why we decided not to highlight it on the blog), but we did come away with a great idea for cinnamon banana rolls. We ordered a dessert called FBI: Fried Bananas & Ice cream. It was plain and neither of us really liked them.

On the way home from the restaurant, I said to Wing that they would have tasted so much better if they were done bunuelo-style: drenched in cinnamon and sugar. Then Wing took it from there and said we should try them with lumpia wrappers and condensed milk.

We made them the other night at my parents’ house. They were a hit! Next time we make these, I want to try drizzling them with honey or chocolate syrup.

Cinnamon banana rolls

Cinnamon banana rolls

  • 3 lumpia roll sheets
  • 2 large bananas, cut into thirds
  • 1/4 cup condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon & sugar
  • Oil for frying

Halve each lumpia sheet diagonally to form triangles. Dip banana pieces into condensed milk, coating well. Then dip into the cinnamon & sugar, coating well.

Rolling banana visual
Place banana on the base of the triangle. Fold in the two corners towards the banana. Roll the lumpia wrapper and banana towards the peak of the triangle until it’s sealed. Continue until all bananas are folded in the lumpia wraps.

 
Fry the wrapped bananas in oil until browned. (Note: do not place on paper towels or they will stick.)
Sprinkle with more cinnamon & sugar, and drizzle with condensed milk. Serve with ice cream.

 

 

Coffeeee! Daniiiiish! Those are the prizes when you bike ride to the Ferry Landing on Coronado Island at the break of dawn in sunny San Diego. Or, as the case may be, at the break of…. hey? where’s the sun amidst all this fog? Despite the fog, it was a beautiful bike ride. (Click here to learn more about the bike route.) Wing and I started at the Silver Strand and, as I said, biked to the Ferry Landing. It’s not a record-setting distance by any means, but I also don’t bike a lot so I wanted to make sure that I’d be able to make it back to the car without having to be dragged back. Yes, I made it and it was actually too easy. Next time, I’ll be ready for an even longer ride. But wait, I almost forgot. This is a food blog, not a biking blog. Move down, move down… on to the coffee stand! (For those who are interested in the bike ride, below is a series of pictures to tell you all you need to know. For those who are only interested in the food, feel free to skip past the amazing pictures by yours truly. I won’t be insulted.)

BIKE RIDE

When Wing and I got to the Ferry Landing, they were setting up for the Coronado Art Walk so there were booths and trucks and expensive oceanic art pieces everywhere. Had we known, we might have started out on our ride a bit later to check it out, but, as it was, we didn’t feel like sitting around so we just got coffee and went on our merry way. OK OK, the coffee stand. So we walked our bikes (as to avoid getting hit by a truck backing up on the sidewalk or perhaps slamming into a pricey piece of art and therefore having to purchase it … although that might have been a fun way to bring Paperboy to life…) through the shopping district and Coronado ride_mint mochaclaimed a table at the coffee stand. I ordered a mint mocha (now the current honorary profile picture) and a cheese danish while Wing ordered a Chai Tea with a shot of espresso (Dirty Chai) and a cinnamon roll. Now, I’m going to be honest here. The pastries were really nothing to write home about and the coffee was average. But they do have a ton of variety considering it’s only a small stand, and I was intrigued by more than one coffee flavor. I thought about ordering the bear claw (a new coffee flavor), but then I thought about getting the black and white… or maybe a frap… so I went with the mint mocha (mint and chocolate and coffee, oh my!). Also, let’s not forget the location. As they say, location, location, location. You’re at the Ferry Landing on Coronado Island in San Diego. Do you really need the finest pastries? Must you really sip the best coffee to be wowed by this? If you live in San Diego and can go anywhere in the city, perhaps. But if you’re visiting or on a bike ride that happens to end right there, nah. And, let me tell you, others agree with me. The outdoor tables got packed with other bikers who wanted their coffee and pastries.

Coronado ride_Coronado Coffee Co

So I hadn’t been to the Ferry Landing itself in about 17 years and things sometimes change in that amount of time. I was pleasantly surprised to discover some restaurants there that might be worthwhile to try out! We may even put some posts about them someday. For now, let me just provide a link to the Ferry Landing restaurants and another link to a restaurant along the way (with an interesting history if you’re into that sort of thing) called 1887 on the Bay (some of their cocktail names are awesome, by the way… I just clicked back from the menu to tell you that). If you get to any of these restaurants before we do, let us know how they are!

On a spur of the moment whim, Wing and I decided to have lunch at The Prado restaurant tucked away in the heart of San Diego’s Balboa Park. Although both of us grew up in SD, neither of us had ever eaten at The Prado. I’ve always seen it and wanted to eat there, I just never had. Well, I’ve finally eaten there, and I can now say, “What was I waiting for?” The food tasted good, the ambiance was laid back but nice with all of its art deco, and the service was friendly. We opted to sit inside in the AC since it was too hot to sit outdoors, but I’ve heard the patio dining’s view is elegant, and knowing the location, I’m sure that it is. Anyway, upon being seated, we were given flatbread with chipotle hummus. Now, I’m pretty picky about my hummus and this one was good. Maybe it was the chipotle or maybe it was the flatbread that I really liked. I’m not sure exactly, but I know I liked it.

Prado_drinks bread

Wing and I decided to splurge and we bought drinks. He ordered a Mai Tai and I ordered a chocolate martini that I put aside for dessert. I really want to go again so I can try more drinks. Some of them sound so good! Wing liked his Mai Tai, saying it was very fresh and refreshing. My drink was very tasty as well, but definitely a dessert drink. I liked it so much I almost didn’t allow Wing to try it (he ignored me when I told him he waited too long and the window of opportunity had vanished). We didn’t order an appetizer because none of them really suited my taste… calamari fries, shrimp cocktail (you can read in the about page that I don’t do seafood), etc. For our meals, Wing ordered the softshell crab BLT and I ordered the grilled ham and cheese sandwich with tomato soup. Wing liked his sandwich – it was panini-style and the crab was fried well, not too greasy but nice and crunchy on the outside with tender meat. My soup and sandwich were good, too. The sandwich was pretty typical (I guess there’s not a lot you can do differently with a sandwich) but the tomato soup was really good. It was chunky (which I like) and I’ve definitely had worse from places! But Wing and I agree that the star of the plates were the fries! There was a seasoning on them that we couldn’t figure out, but they were so good that Wing asked the waiter what was on them and, supposedly, he didn’t know. We didn’t insist on finding out, but we were a bit disappointed because we’re the types that would try to recreate them at home… and that’s probably exactly what the restaurant is trying to avoid.  Or perhaps the waiter just really didn’t know.

Prado_sandwich dessert

Then came the dessert… my favorite part! We ordered the very non-traditional tres leches (three milk) cake (but hey, that’s what contemporary American dining is all about, right?). The presentation was picture-perfect with a fried plantain resting on a bed of ice cream. The cake itself was pretty good. It wasn’t as moist as some I’ve had, but the crispy pistachio meringue that was nestled at the bottom made the dish. There were caramelized bananas in the middle of the meringue that gave it an extra sweet and delicious touch. Like the drinks, there are a few other desserts I would love to try. Maybe there will be another Prado post in the future!

Mars, the parentals, and I (Peanut) went to Old Town in San Diego for dinner (Wing had to work so he couldn’t join us). With its historical buildings and its rich culture, nothing beats eating authentic Mexican food in the exact spot that is considered California’s birthplace:  http://www.oldtownsandiegoguide.com/history.html

CdeR Casa de Reyes

There are many great, authentic Mexican restaurants (and other great restaurants that aren’t Mexican) in Old Town, but we decided to dine at a restaurant called Casa de Reyes (house of kings) located in the plaza known as Fiesta de Reyes. The restaurant has outdoor dining only, but in sunny San Diego, this isn’t much of a problem. The concern we had for this time of year, was that it wasCdeR chips too hot, but luckily the hostess seated us at a table in the shade. We ordered our drinks and enjoyed perusing the menu with a nice basket of chips and salsa. The chips were sprinkled with a type of chili powder that gave them a nice taste that was not spicy but out of the ordinary from your regular chips. Mars seemed to think they tasted the same as normal chips, but our mom and I thought they tasted better than the traditional. None of us ordered anything extravagant (if you wonder why, please refer to the About page and note that our parents are not foodies at all), but there’s nothing wrong with going back to your favorites. I ordered the chicken Suiza enchiladas, Mars ordered cheese enchiladas, mom a beef taco, and dad the chile relleno. I thought the chicken Suiza enchiladas were very good. They were served with a white cheese sauce that is a nice change from the typical red or green sauces. The chicken itself was shredded and wasn’t too dry as some restaurants can cook their chicken til it’s dry and flavorless. But this was good and flavorful. The rest of the fam liked theirs well enough also. Dad even said his was good, which is a compliment to the restaurant since he’s becoming a grouch these days. So consider the chile rellenos a ‘wow’ from us from him… Dad’s chile rellenos came with housemade flour tortillas (literally made on site in a little area where people can watch the workers making them). I stole a bit of one (because fresh tortillas are always worth stealing from your dad) and they were nice and thick, just melting in your mouth. Yum!

chicken suiza enchiladas, tortillas, chile relleno

chicken suiza enchiladas, tortillas, chile relleno

After dinner, we walked around Old Town a bit, looking through the shops and letting our food settle before we headed back to the plaza area to buy churros from our favorite little panaderia (bakery) aptly named La Panaderia. Our parents used to take us here quite a bit when we were kids and we’d always get the churros. To this day, I compare my churros from any other place to the churros made at this Old Town bakery. We love them!

La Panaderia Churro 2

Overall, the little outing was a good one. Food was good and company was good. We definitely recommend Casa de Reyes (or any of the other restaurants in or near Old Town) as a place to eat if you’re ever in the San Diego area. And make sure to stop by La Panaderia for a taste of delicious Mexican pastries!