Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trapper Turns Two!


Thank you for all of the love and laughter you bring to my life.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

We're Still Here - Sipping Bubbly and Noshing on Cinnamon-Orange French Toast

I had a feeling this would happen. Blog every day for the month of November for NaBloPoMo, and then lack any motivation to blog at all for another month. It's been two weeks, but I've also been fighting a nasty cold for almost that long. Top that off being served yesterday with a notice my lease will not be renewed in February, the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and my career still up in the air....you can imagine I'm ready to pack a suitcase, throw Trapper in the car, and head to Tennessee. Tennessee? What?!!

Trapper, are you ready to go?

Did someone say road trip?

I was semi-motivated to get back in the kitchen yesterday. All those Christmas cookie recipes have been tempting me for weeks, and I always have good intentions to bake cookies as gifts for friends, so I went shopping to stock up on the basics - butter, flour, eggs, sugar, chocolate...

I was also in the mood for Barefoot Contessa's Chicken Pot Pie for dinner (kindly disregard the intro in that blog post, as well as those photos - girls, things can also get worse), and bought ingredients to make that recipe. I ran out of steam before making the crust and opted for a "crumble" instead - pie dough crumbled onto a baking sheet and baked until golden brown. My filling was freshly made and still hot, so I simply spooned some into a bowl and sprinkled the crunchy, golden brown crumble over the top. It saved the time it would have taken to chill the dough, roll it out, assemble and bake complete chicken pot pies.

Let's see, where was I going with this blog post?

Oh, I also bought a bottle of bubbly to enjoy while cooking. However, because the Chicken Pot Pie is a bit labor intensive with roasting and cooling the breasts, and preparing the stock, filling and dough, I only had time to make the dough for one of the cookies recipes. It's still chilling in the refrigerator today, but I hope to get a few batches in the oven soon. I enjoyed a few glasses of bubbly while cooking and listening to a mix of country music on Pandora.  A glass or two of bubbly is guaranteed to boost your holiday spirit, as least for a few hours.

This morning, after soaking in a good hour of sunshine on Starbuck's patio (San Diego has been in the high 70's this weekend), I had a craving for French toast. I just happened to have bread and fresh eggs from shopping yesterday, but I wanted to make it a bit more festive to go with the rest of the bubbly. Inspired by Panera's Cinnamon Crunch bagels (I think they have a French Toast version also), I enhanced the egg dip with half and half, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla bean paste, and Grand Mariner. After dipping the bread, I sprinkled a tiny bit of brown sugar on the side going down in the hot, buttered pan. Before flipping the slices, I sprinkled a little more brown sugar on the other side. French toast with little spots of cinnamon crunch. No additional butter or syrup was needed - just a little sprinkle of orange zest. If you're trying to impress someone other than yourself and your dog, add a few slices of bacon and some berries.

Okay, I'm off to bake cookies. Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Dose of Holiday Spirit and Bowl of Tuscan Bean Soup

I believe this past month has finally caught up with me, after blogging daily for National Blog Posting Month, photographing a number of events for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival last week, and indulging on Thanksgiving evening.

I spent most of my Black Friday getting my house cleaned and back in order. The rain stopped late in the afternoon, so I decided to go over to the Hotel Del to check out the holiday decorations and ice skating rink. This year's theme is Celebrating 125 Years of Holiday Magic and the historic hotel is adorned with classic Victorian decorations, tartan plaid, antique platinum accents, vintage Santas, and 100,000 white lights. It's easy to get absorbed in the holiday spirit wandering around the hotel this time of year. 

This little boy wasn't too happy after his first ice skating attempt...

This one was quite the whiz kid on ice, but then became a little shy when he realized I was taking pictures of him...

The sun was setting when I came back outside after looking at the tree in the lobby, so I walked down by the water to take a few more photos. 

I'm not sure if it was my bike ride home in the rain on Thanksgiving, standing out on the beach last night in the cold, or a combination of both, but I woke up with a sore throat this morning and wasn't up to doing much of anything today. Thankfully, I soaked some beans overnight and was able to throw on a big pot of Tuscan white bean and ham soup, using the Benton's ham hock from Carmen. I added some sautéed onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. A rosemary roll and glass of red completed my late afternoon lunch/early dinner, and there's plenty of leftovers to freeze for a few more dinners.

I'm taking a swig of Nyquil and calling it a night. Enjoy the rest of your long weekend and I'll catch you at some point during the week.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chef of the Fest Winners

Here are the winners for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Chef of the Fest!

The Grand Prize winner was Rich Sweeney, R-Gang Eatery, with his Duck Fat-Fried Beignets with Burnt Orange Cream and Smoked Duck “Dust” and Crispy Glazed Duck Skin

Second Place went to Carissa Giacalone, Vela Restaurant, for her Slow Braised Pig Jowls and Snouts, Crispy Bearnaise, Chicharones, and Pickled Quail Egg

Third Place: Nicholas Bour, AVANT Restaurant, for his Red Royal Shrimp “Ceviche” with Ponzu Gelee and Crispy Nori

Fourth: Derek Jaeger of The Cravory for his Ultimate Ice Cream Sandwich

Fifth: Chad White,  Plancha Baja Med, for his Chicken Hearts, Nopal, Masa, Epazote, Queso Fresco, Cebolla Salsa, Guajillo Mole

Sixth: Jorge Gutierrez of Romesco for his Plantain Tostada with Wild Salmon

Seventh: Tommy Fraioli of Sea Rocket Bistro for his Pork Belly/Watermelon/Apple/Kimchee

Eighth: Joe Bracero of Katsuya San Diego for Seasonal Poke - Sesame-seed oil marinated with roasted corn, crisp watercress, radishes, gochugung walnuts, lotus root chips

Ninth: Eric Bauer of Veladora for House-smoked lamb breast with chestnut and quinoa salad, currants, mint and pomegranate yogurt

Tenth: Todd Nash of Bub's at the Ballpark for his Asian chopped chicken salad with Romaine, Napa Cabbage, Radicchio, Carrots, Mint, Cilantro, Scallions, Grapes, Almonds, Chicken, Crispy Wontons, Lime Hoisin Dressing)

And for the category winners...

The winner in theVegetarian/Raw Category was Francesca Penoncelli, BiCE Ristorante, for her
Organic Red Beet Orzotto with a Delicate Sottocenere al Tartufo Fondue and Kale Crackers

In the Meat Category, Carissa Giacalone, of Vela Restaurant, reined again with her Slow Braised Pig Jowls and Snouts, Crispy Bearnaise, Chicharones, and Pickled Quail Egg

The Poultry Category winner was Chad White,  Plancha Baja Med, for his Chicken Hearts, Nopal, Masa, Epazote, Queso Fresco, Cebolla Salsa, Guajillo Mole

In the Seafood Category, Nicholas Bour of AVANT, with his Red Royal Shrimp “Ceviche” with Ponzu Gelee and Crispy Nori

And, in the Dessert Category, Rich Sweeney, R-Gang Eatery, with those addicting Duck Fat-Fried Beignets with Burnt Orange Cream and Smoked Duck “Dust” and Crispy Glazed Duck Skin 

The Celebrity Chef Judges