Saturday, December 19, 2009

Toffee Cookies w/chocolate and pecans

Today I'm finally going to bake these delicious looking cookies that I ran across on Steamy Kitchens Blog the other day. Also, I'm going to be baking my moms "famous" Lemon Bread, and my daughter is currently in the kitchen baking her own version of Oatmeal-Cinnamon cookies.

Toffee Cookies with Dark Chocolate Glaze

recipe from Salty Sweet by Christie Matheson

Makes 20 to 24 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix well.

Combine the flour and salt in a small, bowl then add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until well combined.

Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut out circles with a 2-inch round cutter and place the cookies on the baking sheets.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on the baking sheets.

Bring water to a simmer in a double boiler, or set up a heat-proof bowl over a small sauce pan with water simmering in the bottom. Melt the chocolate over the simmering water. When the cookies are cool, spread them gently with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Before the chocolate dries, sprinkle lightly with the pecans and a few grains of fleur de sel. Let the chocolate set. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Beef Fajitas w/Guacamole & Cilantro

By Dave Pepple's Request:

Shelley's Beef Fajitas with Guacamole & Cilantro (etc!)

(you should be warned that my measurements are never exact! I always add more or less based on taste, but this is a good guide to go by!:)

Beef Fajitas Marinade
1 pound flank steak, sliced into 3 inch strips (easier if the meat is partially frozen)***
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
salt & pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
*obviously, you can double or triple this recipe. This was enough for 3 people to have 2 "tacos")

Place all ingredients in a Gallon sized Zip Lock and marinate in refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but for at least a couple hours. The longer the better, in my opinion. Turn often while in the refrigerator. *** (my husband said that you should marinate the flank steak whole, then slice afterward to keep the juices in. I disagree with him, but maybe he has a point. However, you didn't ask him for HIS recipe, now did ya? :)

When the meat is ready, saute in olive oil until it gets a nice golden color. You might need to cook off all of the excess moisture; I ended up pouring alot of liquid out before I finally got the meat to brown. Another option is that you could pat the meat dry with a paper towel before putting in the saute pan, then it might brown a little quicker.

Fajita Veggies
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet yellow pepper, thinly sliced
3 bell peppers of various colors (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green, etc), thinly sliced into strips
salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in saute pan until it ripples. Add vegetables, salt and pepper. Stir and saute until veggies are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Just leave then in the pan "full of love" until everything else is ready. :) They keep nicely and you can give them a quick re-heat.

2 ripe Hass avocados
juice of half of a lime (or a lemon)
1 tbsp red onion, diced fine
several dashes of ground cumin
a dash of cumin seed
a dash of garlic salt

In a small bowl, smash the avocado with a fork. Squeeze the lime juice in, toss the rest in, mix it up and let it "marry" in the fridge.

Sour Cream with toasted Cumin Seeds
1 cup sour cream (I use light)
2 tbsp cumin seeds

In a small non stick pan, toast the cumin seeds on med-high heat for about 5 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool. Toss in a small bowl with the sour cream and let "marry" in fridge.

Additional ingredients:
Flour tortillas ( I steam/toast mine over a gas burner on my range top)
Hot sauce, pico de gallo, or salsa

Now the fun part! Fill a flour tortilla with the fajita meat, onion/peppers, guacamole, sour cream, several sprigs of cilantro and a few dashes of hot sauce or salsa. Personally, I like to use Sriacha sauce, but its really hot. Or else I make my own pico de gallo, which is just diced tomato, red onion, jalepeno, cilantro, a little lime, salt & pepper.

And thank you for asking! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Graceland and The Majestic Grille

We had set Sunday aside for Corey and I to do some sightseeing on our own. I tried to make plans to have lunch with my friend, Shelley Hargraves, from high school, but she couldn't wing it. We had a nice talk on the phone, though.

Corey and I wanted to see Graceland before leaving Memphis. We took a shuttle there and our driver was pretty informative. He dropped us off and we took another shuttle up to the residence. It was so different than I expected it to be. I thought it would be more lavish, but it was an older home, and looked pretty understated to me. I was kind of shocked, for some reason, at the 70's decor! It was amazing how well preserved it was! It was literally like walking into a time capsule of the 1970's! Elvis didn't live super lavishly at all. At least not from what I can see in his house. I mean, he liked the flamboyant outfits and stuff, but you can tell that he was a total family man. It was pretty emotional for me. I really am glad we had a chance to do this....even if we were still sore from the race and had a hard time getting up and down the steps.

After Graceland, we took a tour of Sun Studios downtown. It was full of history and the supposed birthplace of American rock and roll. Its where Elivs Presley and Johnny Cash signed on, as well as Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. I enjoyed the studio portion of the tour, but I was a little bit bored in the beginning. Overall, I'm glad we went. I was really hungry by this point and was ready for some dinner!

I don't have many nice things to say about The Majestic Grille in downtown Memphis. One thing I thought was cool was that it was in an old historic movie theater and there was an old film playing on the wall: The Holiday Inn with Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. I thought it was cool until the music/song/dancing part started every 5 minutes and the volume went up 25 notches.

We were greeted and seated immediately, but it took forever for our waiter to greet us. We ordered a cocktail and waited at least 10 minutes before he finally came out...empty see if we were ready to order. We only knew that we wanted to start with the onion rings and horseradish sauce (terrible! Greasy, batter kept falling off, and it was just tasteless!). Our drinks finally came, we ordered, and we waited quite a while for our dinner to arrive. I had the New York Strip steak with mashed potatoes and a side of spinach. Corey had the same, except with the market vegetables. The food was good, but our steaks were really fatty and gristly. I was overall pretty disappointed in the Majestic. Our poor waiter was so slammed and the bad service was not his fault at all and we told him that we understood when he apologized. Its not that the place was packed, but they only had 2 waiters and they had ours going from the back of the restaurant to the front, etc. He was literally sweating when he first approached us. I overheard another party complain.

I wish we had gone to Circa by John Bragg instead. I loved the menu, but when we got there it was dead, and Corey had said he walked into the Majestic the night before and thought it looked good, so we tried that instead. Kristin, if you're reading, I was so convinced that we went to Circa, that I told all of you (on Facebook) that that is where we went. I was wrong. It was not Circa, it was The Majestic. Oops. Next time in Memphis, I will try Circa instead! :)

Corky's BBQ

Saturday morning Corey and I headed to the lobby to meet Angela and Bridget so that we could walk to the starting line of the race together. The girls and I headed to the back and Corey went up to corral number 4. He was all set to run the full and the girls and I were ready to walk/jog/wog the half. It was freeeeeezzzzzing!!! But we got started and somehow, 3 hours and 40 minutes later, we crossed the finish line. Angela was a trooper. She hadn't trained at all because she had an injury and had decided to drop out a while ago, but at the last minute she decided what the heck, she'd join us. Kristin was gonna be at mile 7, but her warm and cozy bed got the best of her...and I don't blame her one bit! I would have stayed in bed, too!!!! Anyway, the race was fun. I figured if I wanted to run ahead, I would, but I was having fun trying to motivate Angela and I had so much crap in my pocket that it made it harder to run anyway, so I just walked it with them. This was my 4th half marathon and definitely not my best time, but who cares? I was there to hang out with my blogging buddies. After the race, there was pizza, donuts, and cookies! And boy did I indulge!!!! Yum. Best post race food ever!

We went home and took a nap. I slept for 2.5 wonderful hours and then got ready for dinner. Kristin picked us up and we headed to Germantown to meet Angela, JD, Tatum, & Bridget for some BBQ at Corky's! We were excited. It was fun to catch up and talk about the race. We ordered nachos and the cheese and sausage platter to start. No complaints here! For dinner, I had the brisket and Corey had the rib & pulled pork combo. He had no complaints, either. We couldn't eat it all and took the rest home. We nibbled on it later on that night, but still ended up throwing a lot of it away because we had no fridge. :( We had a lot of fun Saturday night, said our final goodbyes, and then Kristin drove us home via the scenic route. Thank you Kristin for driving us home!!

Mesquite Chop House

I went to Memphis over the weekend to meet some fellow Extra Pound Bloggers. They had all met before several times, so I was the newbie. I've known Angela and Kristin for about 3 years and Bridget for a little over one year, I think. I immediately bonded with all three of them and was really looking forward to meeting them in person. So, we came up with a reason: the St. Judes Memphis Half Marathon.
My husband joined me on this trip so that he could run the full marathon. We arrived Friday afternoon and went straight to the expo, where we met Angela and Bridget! I was so nervous! I was worried that they wouldn't like me. They both seemed nervous, too. But we made our way through the expo and then headed over to meet Kristin for dinner. Corey went on his merry way because it was girls night.
The concierge at The Westin made a reservation for 4 at Mesquite Chop House for 6:00. We showed up at least 15 minutes early, but our table wasn't ready. We ordered a glass of wine (well, me and Kristin did anyway) and noticed that a few parties came in without reservations and were seated immediately. I was irked, so I asked the bartender/hostess what exactly we were waiting for...she said she was hooking us up with a better table in the downstairs library and with one of their stellar waiters. Whatever, sounded good at the time.
Well, we were seated and greeted, made our selections, placed our order. The salads took quite a while to arrive, but the entrees took even longer. The service was extremely slow and we were all pretty hungry. I think all of our steaks were cooked to order, but for some reason, Angela's steak didn't come out with ours and poor Kristin kept having to ask for a napkin and a new steak knife. I'm going to chalk this up to them seating us downstairs and the rest of his station being upstairs. I was a server many moons ago and when you have one party in a separate station, it is hard to keep on top of it. We were mildly annoyed, but once we got our food, I think I was just grateful for the chance to have a nice conversation and get to know these girls in person.
I thought the food was delicious, but the service could have been better.
Thanks to Kristin for the lovely Friendship Soup and for picking up the check! That was a really nice surprise!! I know we all appreciated it!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Marin Brewing Company

We met my husbands brother, his wife, his two sons, one sons girlfriend, and her mother at Marin Brewing Company last night. We didn't know we could make a reservation, but apparently they take them for parties of 7 and more. Oh, well. We had a little wait, but no big deal. By the time we got our pitchers of beer, our table was ready. So, I'm just gonna say that we got excellent service, the food was really good, as usual, and I highly recommend this place. I ate like a pig. We shared some appetizers: Buffalo wings, Steamed clams, and onion rings. I had a garden salad with Vinaigrette, and then me and my husband shared a club sandwich with French Fries and the daily special pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, serrano chilis, and cheddar cheese. It was so good!! Oh, and I had an Indian Pale Ale and a Blueberry Ale. They have the best beer, by far. Go there.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mustards Grill

Mustards Grill is located in Napa right off the St. Helena Hwy. Its been around for over 25 years and its still amazing. Cindy Pawlcyn is the owner of Mustards Grill, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, and Go Fish, all located in the gorgeous Napa Valley. I've eaten at Mustard's a handful of times since moving to Marin 20 years ago and its never disappointed me yet. I have yet to try the other two establishments.

With my friend visiting, we decided to drive up to Napa and spend the night. I had a pretty light lunch earlier that day, so I was hungry and in the mood for a steak. Going to Mustards was a last minute idea, so we showed up without a reservation on a Wednesday night at 8:45. The place was packed and there were about 5 parties waiting for a table in the tiny hostess/bar area. We were told there would be a 30 minute wait, so we ordered a drink at the bar and stood in the corner happily waiting. Many of the people seated at the bar decided to have dinner there, so we got to view several of the items offered on the menu. I eyed the Lemon Meringue Pie and decided immediately that I definitely wanted to order that for dessert! After about a 35 minute wait, we were seated and greeted right away....a good sign! :) My friend wasn't very hungry, so she just got the Whole Roasted Garlic and the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata salad (for those following along, yes, we did have some version of the caprese salad for every meal that we ate 2 days in a row! ;). I had the Three Greens salad with Maytag Bleu Cheese & toasted pistachios to start out with and for my entree I ordered the "Truckstop Deluxe": Always Meat, Usually Potatoes, & Rarely Vegetables! lol Its a daily or weekly special, and on this night it was a 21 day aged Rib Eye with bleu cheese butter and roasted potatoes and peppers. It was amazingly delicious!! The service was outstanding, the food was excellent, and I was so full that I did not have room for the coffee and that beautiful Lemon Meringue Pie that I so badly wanted!

If you go to Napa, you must go to Mustards. You will not be disappointed! Reservations are highly recommended and the dress is casual, but dressing up is always funner!

Tra Vigne

Ahhh, Tra Vigne!!! It used to be so good! What happened? My friend, Lisa, wanted to have lunch at Tra Vigne the other day since she was in town visiting and hadn't been in about 15 years. Since I live in Marin, I've been to Travigne several times over the years, but I didn't have the heart to tell her that it just isn't the same as it used to be! I love Michael Chiarello, Tra Vigne's original executive chef/partner. I've even met him once in person. Unfortunately, when Michael left Tra Vigne in 2000 to open NapaStyle, things just have not been the same. I'm truly happy for his success, especially his newly opened Bottega last year, in Yountville.

The problem isn't necessarily the food. The main problem is the service!! We arrived on a Wednesday at around 2:45; late for a lunch, I know. But we were greeted by 2 hostesses, passed a manager on duty, plus the bartender and 3 servers. So, they were fully staffed for the 3 tables already seated outside, plus us as the one table inside. We must have waited 10 minutes before we were greeted. At that point, we weren't annoyed yet because we had not decided what we wanted yet, but seeing as we had both done our fair share of waitressing, etc, we knew this was going to be a bad sign. We ordered a glass of wine (we were on a mini vacation and staying overnight in Yountville, so we splurged), and she brought them back in a timely fashion. But, then we waited a good 20 minutes before she ever came back. We had our menus down, were looking around for help, the hostess, 2 servers, & the bartender were around, but no one seemed to notice that we were obviously in need of attention. Our server finally appeared and I thought she was coming toward us, but no, she walked out to the patio. She finally made her way over to us and we ordered 2 appetizers to start, held onto our menus for our entree. The Caprese salad arrived along with the Crispy Fried Squash Blossoms. Both arrived in a timely fashion and were beautifully presented. I loved the Burrata cheese and the heirloom tomatoes, but I wasn't a fan of the overly crispy squash blossoms. They were a little greasy and of nondescript taste.

Once we finished our entrees, we still had not seen our server again, and we were quite ready to order our appetizer. So, we waited. At this point, we finally were approached by a busboy who brought water. We finally asked for bread because we hadn't yet been offered it. I must say that our busboy, once he appeared, was very attentive and we appreciated that. He even brought over a small side table for us to put our menus and wine menu on because they were clearly taking up too much of our two-top table space.

Our entrees arrived about 10 minutes after we ordered, so again, the problem was not in the kitchen, although I will say that my entree was very salty. I had the Halibut Alla Picatta with spring peas, pea tendrils, and snow peas. Very difficult to spear with my fork; I gave up on it. It tasted like dirt, anyway. The halibut itself was cooked perfectly and very good, but the lemon-caper sauce was over powering and salty. My friend, Lisa, had the Maltagliati Verde, which is an herb infused pasta with slow cooked Sonoma lamb and Sangiovese wine sugo. She loved it and it was a large serving so she wasn't able to finish it. She saved room for the Tiramisu. I had a bite and it was delicious!

Although the food wasn't "bad", it just wasn't as good as I remember it being the first few times I dined there when Michael was around. The last few times were just ok. It seems like the menu is much smaller, too. But my main issue with Tra Vigne these days is the slow service! By the way, after our entree was served, we were introduced to a new server who would be taking over for Jaye, our original server (I had to look at the receipt to get her name! :). The service definitely picked up with our new server! But I just noticed that overall, the service was less than attentive. Staff just standing around not even aware of our needs is just bad service. Tra Vigne is so beautiful and its such a legend, so I wish they would pay attention to the service. There is just an "I don't care" attitude.


I love Bix in San Francisco! Its down this quaint alley in the financial district. Its like a 50's supper club, with a dark smokey interior and live jazz music playing downstairs by the bar. I met my friend Lisa for a cocktail at the bar before dinner. She had just driven up from Los Angeles to spend a few days visiting with me. We met in the 6th grade and instantly became best friends. We had our fair share of ups and downs, and we lost track of each other for 13 years, but 3 years ago, she called me out of the blue and we have been keeping in touch ever since. I saw her for the first time last April when I was down in Orange County on my annual shopping spree. It was good to see her again, and I was happy that she was interested in indulging her culinary nostalgia at a few of her favorite SF haunts.

We were led upstairs to a nice little table overlooking the downstairs dining room and bar area. Our server greeted us right away and I could tell that the service was going to be exceptional! We started out with "A la minute" Ceviche (halibut) with jalepeno and habanero chiles, avocado, cilantro oil, and toasted corn nuts. It was delicious! Our next course was the raw oysters on the half shell with mignonette sauce. Also delicious! I'm a sucker for mignonette sauce. After that, we couldn't resist the "Summer Tomato Cart" with heirloom tomatoes and House-pulled mozzarella with EVO and basil, prepared tableside! Wonderful!

Lisa ordered the Chicken Hash ala Bix, which is something she has ordered years past and has enjoyed. She said it was prepared differently than the last time she had it (15 years ago!!), but that it was still delicious and very filling. It looked like 2 veggie patties to me, and it topped a mound of mashed potatoes. I tried it and it was pretty good, but not something I would order. I'm a meat and potatoes girl, so I ordered the American Kobe "Bavette" steak with Pommes Puree and roasted Cippolini onions. I ordered it Medium Well, with my apologies to the chef (lol), but my medallions of beef came more like Medium Rare. I didn't mind it, though, because it didn't taste as raw as it looked. Normally, I would have sent it back, but I know that if I had, they would have been overcooked and ruined. If it were a filet, that would be different.

Lisa wanted dessert, and since I am also a sucker for Bananas Foster, we decided to share one order of that. It was a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream, to which the server poured a caramel and banana sauce on top of. I had just one or two bites, because I just don't have much of a sweet tooth. Everything was wonderful, especially the service. I've been doing a poor job of remembering my servers names; I wish I had made a point of recalling this one.

Bix is very hopping, even on a Tuesday night. I made a reservation about two weeks in advance, but I don't think it was necessary to make it so far ahead. But I definitely do recommend a reservation. If I didn't have to drive back to Marin, I would have liked to enjoy a drink in the bar while listening to the lovely lady singing by the piano in the bar.

I love Bix and look forward to my next visit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hotel De Anza

This hotel is the best! Totally worth the extra cash. I made my reservation over the phone about 15 minutes before we arrived. The manager who checked us in was super friendly and efficient. He suggested the in-house restaurant, La Pastaia, for dinner and upon reviewing the menu we decided to check it out. Out of this world!!! But back to the hotel. I was soothed instantly by the gorgeous ivy green walls in the hallway. Our room had a king size bed, not much of a view, but the bathroom was large & gorgeous with a mini TV and a Lather Bar.

Things I loved: The bolster pillows!!! The ivory cotton duvet!!!! It smelled of bleach! :) The ice machine dispensed filtered water!! And it was the cool little ice pellets that I love so much! It was close to our room, so it was convenient. The glass pitcher they provided was a nice touch! The Raid our Pantry is so cool! We came home from the Green Day concert and were ready for a snack, so we went downstairs to the pantry and made ourselves a sandwich and grabbed a cookie. Awesome bonus! I also loved that it was only a 10 minute walk to the concert! Although we could hear the traffic outside, the hotel itself was sooo quiet! I never heard anyone out in the hallway or through the walls. Amazing. Free hi speed internet, too!

Things I did not love: The bathtub is elevated, so there's quite a step down. Even though there is a sign that clearly states "caution, step down" etc., I still managed to slip on the wet marble floor and ended up falling pretty badly. I bruised my wrist and thigh. Ouch. I could have cut my head open, so I'm lucky that's all I got. Just be careful.

I loved this hotel and I already can't wait to go back. I'm still thinking of the amazing dinner we had at La Pastaia! Our server was very sweet & attentive. We started with the carpaccio. Delicious! I had the bistecca & fava beans w/ pecorino, and my husband had the osobuco d'agnello. I can't rave enough about our meal. It was fantastic!

Loved Hotel de Anza!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Big Sur 10.6

Yesterday was the Big Sur International Marathon (and 21, 10.6, 9 miler & 5K) and it was pretty cool. I got about 5 hours of sleep, but somehow I managed to get up at 5:00 and got myself to the shuttle down to the start line. I was supposed to run with my friend, but she got sick at the last minute. So, I went alone. My husband ran the full marathon....with about 3 hours of sleep, poor guy. The weather was cold and windy, but I had no real complaints. I'm not the one who had to wait 2 hours for the race to start; no, my bus barely got to our start in time with maybe 10 minutes to spare! I was worried and I really needed to pee, but that didn't happen until about mile 2.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trail of Crumbs

I am reading the best book right now! I've been reading a lot of crappy books lately and I really needed one I could sink my teeth into. Well, I had no idea when I picked up Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee that it would leave me so hungry! At first the book started out a little slow for me, but now I can't seem to put it down. Its based on her memoirs...her personal life and her passion for food and cooking. Truly interesting. I'm only about half way now, but I decided to Google her. I was shocked that I have actually heard of her before. She was a judge on Iron Chef not too long ago. I love that show and anything on the Food Network. The secret ingredient was basil and I thought that was such a great secret ingredient! I always hate when they show a huge table of fish or suckling pigs or an aquarium full of live fish. Basil! Who knew how many varieties there were! Anyway, I was like: wow! I remember her! She was so pretty and refined! She also has a blog!! Yay! I am always so envious of my food blogging buddies who have somehow managed to make a career out of doing what they love. I love to cook and I love to write, but I don't put forth the time or effort to try to make money off of my blog. I say good for those that do. I'm still a little jealous, though. :) Happy for them, but jealous. Its funny, because I call them my food buddies, but its pretty one sided. I read their blogs but I'm pretty sure no one reads mine. Which is fine. I'm ok with that.

Anyway, I'm getting off point. I just wanted to mention how excited I am that I love this book and that I was excited to realize that I had heard of her before but didn't put the two together. I like small coincidences. I chose this book because it said that if you loved Eat Pray Love, you will love Trail of Crumbs. I did love Eat Pray Love--a lot!! I even went to a reading by Elizabeth Gilbert. I love these memoirs by these amazing ladies!! Oddly enough, the next book I plan to read is Drink Play F@#k. I saw it at Borders the other day and laughed out loud at the title....bought it for my husband, but something tells me I'll get to it first.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chili-Cilantro Prawns

I found this recipe on the by Michelle Bernstein. These little guys were out of this world! I marinated them for about 7 hours and I was sure to reserve about 1/2 cup of the marinade before putting the prawns in. I didn't happen to have any sugarcane (?) skewers so I used Rosemary skewers from my yard. :) After I grilled the skewers, I let them cool for a few minutes before putting them over a bed of lettuce, mache, & ciliantro. I put some avocado on the side and drizzled the reserved marinade over the whole dish. OMG YUM! We had a few leftover that I popped in the fridge and they are almost even better chilled!!! Another way I might serve these next time is in a martini glass swimming in the marinade...kind of like a ceviche cocktail....and with some diced avocado and tortilla chips. Avocado goes perfectly with the lime and cilantro flavors. Next time I plan to use two habaneros rather than one because it wasn't hot enough for me. Also, the marinade made plenty, so I will double the amount of prawns, too! Ok, I'll shut up now and get to the recipe! :)

Chili-Cilantro Shrimp Skewers

(Michelle Bernstein)



  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • 1 habanero chile, chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced to 1/4 cup (juice more limes if necessary)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 16 jumbo shrimp, cleaned, deveined
  • 8 sugarcane skewers
  • Marinade
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro leaves, as garnish


Puree all marinade ingredients in a blender. Reserve 2 tablespoons of marinade.

Skewer two shrimp per sugarcane and place in marinade and refrigerate. After shrimp has marinated 2 to 3 hours, grill for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, making sure they are fully cooked.

Serve with a drizzle of the reserved marinade and cilantro, as garnish."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Red Cabbage Salad

Wow its been a long time since I posted here!

When I was a little girl, we always had family get togethers on my moms side at this cool place in Southern California called The North Woods Inn. It looked like a big cabin and it had fake snow on the roof. They didn't take reservations, so there was always a short wait, especially for large parties. I didn't mind because I got to enjoy a Shirley Temple and eat peanuts then throw the shells on the floor!! They encouraged the shells on the floor and I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, once we were seated, the server would put down 2 bowls of salad: one was a delicous & tangy red cabbage salad and the other was a tossed green salad with creamy bleu cheese dressing. Yum.

Well, the one near where we lived closed down many years ago and I moved away, but recently I've been dreaming about those salads. I've been trying to figure out how to recreate the red cabbage salad, in particular! I knew it couldn't be raw...but did they blanch it or what??? I had an idea of what the ingredients would be, but how did they get it to soften??? Well, I finally Googled it and found the recipe and its exactly like it was when I was little at the North Woods Inn!!!

I got this recipe from by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone:

Red Cabbage Salad:

"This is a clone recipe of the very popular sweet and sour cabbage slaw served at the popular North Woods Inn California restaurant chain. Plan ahead. This salad needs a long marination time. It's good after 48 hours, but even better after 4 or 5 days. This is the perfect make-ahead salad.


  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder


Shred half of the cabbage finely and the other half coarsely. Place in a large bowl.

Whisk together vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, seasoned salt, black pepper, and onion powder.

Toss the dressing with the cabbage. Scrape the salad with the dressing into a zip-top bag or covered container and refrigerate at least 48 hours or until cabbage turns deep red, softens a bit, and flavors meld. It's even better after 4 or 5 days."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Paradise Bay

My husband wanted to try a new place we haven't been to before for his birthday dinner. I had a hard time coming up with places, but I narrowed it down to Johnny Garlics and Paradise Bay. Since Johnny Garlics was so far away and the menu seemed a better lunch option, we decided to go ahead and try both places. JG for lunch (see below) and Paradise Bay for dinner.

Paradise Bay is located on Bridgeway in Sausalito with a nice big parking lot, so its convenient. They don't take reservations for parties smaller than 6, so we took our chances and walked in at about 7:45 on a Friday night. As we pulled into the empty parking lot, we saw right away that this was not going to be a problem. It kind of worried me that the place was dead on a Friday night, but a lot of people are just "done" with the going out thing and a lot of places are closed on the second of January. Trust me. I've had a lot of difficulty finding restaurants to dine at on the second over the years.

As we walked in, I noticed that sure enough, the place was empty. The hostess greeted and seated us by the window in the back. It was fun to see the boats with their Christmas lights up, but my daughter complained that it was rather chilly. There were actually two other occupied tables all together, so we weren't the only ones there. Whew. The decor was really pretty and this place really has a lot of potential. I was shocked that they had no daily specials.

We ordered two appetizers: a crab, prawn, & calamari cocktail and steamed Manilla clams & PEI mussels in a ginger, coconut-lime cream sauce. The cocktail was ok. There were only 2 prawns, a couple chunks of crab, and way too much calimari, which I left to my husband. I thought that the presentation could use some help. The tall breadsticks sticking out of a high ball glass looked strange and I thought it should have been served in a lower, wider dish. The sauce was just ok. The shellfish, however, was delicious. We all shared it, so I only had one clam and 2 mussels, but they were really good tasting and the texture was perfect. The sauce was aromatic and delicious, but was a little cold. In fact, everything was cold.

I asked the server if he would recommend the filet mignon or the New York with prawns & Mongolian sauce. He suggested the filet. It was a certificed organic Prather Ranch filet, looked to be maybe 6 oz, served with butternut squash & sage ravioli, Maytag bleu cheese, served with Cabernet Demi-Glace & Tempura asparagus. Sounds pretty good, huh? The steak was cooked to order, was very good, but was at the most, warm. Maybe lukewarm. It was served in a puddle of demi-glace, the bleu cheese was too overbearing, and the ravioli were soggy. I couldn't even taste the squash or sage. The Tempura asparagus was laid on top of the steak, which was on top of the ravioli, so the asparagus was not soaked with sauce, but they were so greasy that all I could taste was oil. I couldn't tell if I was eating a green bean, let alone asparagus. The only thing I liked was the steak, and that was all I could manage to eat. I think they would have been better off just putting a drizzle of demi-glace over the steak and keeping it far away from the ravioli. And perhaps serve it hot. Just a thought. Like I said, this place has potential.

My husband asked the server if he would recommend this dish or that dish. His answer did not include either dish, but two other dishes. I thought that was odd. My husband went ahead and ordered one of his own choices, which was the Cioppino. It was served in a large bowl with two breadsticks spearing out of each side. I thought the presentation was beautiful; it looked delicous. It had fresh Dungeoness crab, mussels, clams, prawns and fish in a broth of tomato & fennel. I didn't try it but he said it was pretty good, if not a lot of work! Which is why I didn't order it! I ordered Cioppino at Yankee Pier a while back and it was delicious, but it took me forever to finish. No complaints about the Paradise Bay Cioppino.

Both the girls ordered the cheeseburger. One was ordered well done but came back clearly medium. She desacrated it so much that it was impossible to send it back. Neither of the girls ate more than a quarter of their burger saying it tasted weird. I took a bite, so did my husband, and it was actually quite good. I like my burger to be medium well, but sometimes medium is good, too. I did let the server know that it was not cooked to order, but that it wasn't necessary to send it back at that point.

Overall, I have to say I was disappointed in Paradise Bay. The service was fine but lackluster. The busboy was friendly, but our server just seemed bored. And who can blame him? The place was a ghost town! Its a shame because they have a good menu, the flavor is there, but everything we got was served cold. You would think that since we were one of very few diners that they would have been able to step it up a notch. We didn't bother mentioning that it was my husbands birthday. Just a few little changes could go a long way. Until then, I doubt we will return any time soon.

Its really too bad. Lots of potential (redundant, I know!), great location, beautiful interior, decent service, but cold food, meat not cooked properly (or at least how we ordered it), too much flavors battling against a steak, etc. etc.

Johnny Garlic's Pasta Grill

We are huge Guy Fieri fans over here, as I may have mentioned before! We've been to Tex Wasabi's twice, so we decided that Johnny Garlic's was a great place to go for my husbands birthday lunch yesterday. Its a bit of a hike, took us about 45 minutes to get there. Its in a suburban area, not downtown like both locations of Tex W's.

We were greeted right away and seated in the covered patio area. It appears as if on a beautiful day, the plastic panels could open up, but yesterday was wet and cold. It was a little dark in the back; they could have used some light or at least opened up the blinds more.

We ordered the Key Lime Calamari to start. It seemed undercooked to me, so I had just the one piece and left it at that. The marinara sauce was "on point". :) My husband and youngest daughter enjoyed the curly part of the squid with delight, as me and my oldest daughter sqeamishly looked away. ;) The menu was large and very diverse, but I decided right away on the Johnny's Dip, which was a large portion of roast beef, melted pepper cheese (I saw no peppers...), and served on a nice soft roll and with a ramekin of au jus on the side. It came with chips, but I ordered a green salad instead, which was just ok. It looked pretty, but the veggies seemed kind of old. My sandwich was pretty good and very filling--I wasn't able to eat all of it.

My husband had the pasta and salad combo, in which he chose the Volcano Chicken Penne & Caesar. He said it was delicious, and it sure looked good! My daughter Rory had the same, but she opted for the Penne Pomodoro. She said it was good, but complained that the portioned seemed small.

Bella, the youngest, had the kids chicken tenders & french fries. The chicken was breaded and fried and looked way over done.....but she said it was really good. She couldn't even finish her dish.

Overall, the food was fine, the service was great, but I'm not sure we would make a special trip up there again. If we happened to be in the area, then yes, we'd dine there again.

We still love Guy Fieri! Can't wait for all the new Food Network shows to begin next week. I need to make a trip into Mill Valley to check out Tyler Florences new place.