Thursday, June 14, 2007

Häagen-Dazs Reserve

It's National Dairy Month and the tempatures are getting naturally I'm obsessing about ice cream again! This time around I've chosen a slightly sophisticated line of ice cream to go crazy over. It is Häagen-Dazs Reserve and I 've now tried three of the five Reserve flavors, and all have ranged from good to great. The flavors are: Brazilian Acai Berry Sorbet, Amazon Valley Chocolate, Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Bar, Hawaiian Lehua Honey and Sweet Cream, and Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle.

The Hawaiian Lehua Honey and Sweet Cream ice cream is pretty good. It's very creamy and has swirls of honey inside, but is a bit too sweet for my taste. The Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle however, is my favorite flavor thus far. It's inspiration comes from Thailand, "where coconut trees line white beaches and the local markets are filled with exotic Asian spices like ginger and sesame". This flavor has a surprisingly complex taste, providing layers of texture.

Here's a little history of the The Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle:

Last year, Häagen-Dazs invited consumers to submit their ice cream flavor ideas for a chance to create their next flavor. The finalists were featured on a Food Network special about the contest. Sticky Toffee Pudding was awarded the winning flavor, even though the two runners up seemed to be more popular with the fans (Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle and Cannoli ice cream).

Clearly though, Häagen-Dazs paid attention and ended up releasing Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle as part of their new Reserve line. There is no mention of the fact that the flavor was an entry in the contest. Hopefully the woman who submitted the original flavor got some sort of recognition from the company for coming up with the idea...she is truely a genius!

If these flavors are a bit too adventurous for you're taste buds, you can always stick with Häagen-Dazs (recently improved) Dulce De Leche, which contains smooth caramel swirls complemented by a hint of cinnamon spice.

For more info Häagen-Dazs Reserve site.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Top Chef Season 3

Normally I'm not the biggest fan of reality television, but if food is at center stage then I'm all over it! So, this is just a little reminder that Season 3 of Top Chef premieres this coming week (June 13th) on Bravo. This time around the show will take place in Miami and will feature returning judge Chef Tom Colicchio and lovely host Padma Lakashmi. The panel will be rounded out with the addition of Ted Allen (of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) and Gail Simmons. If you tuned in to Bravo this past week you may have caught a special "all-star grudge match" between four Season 1 contestants (Harold Dieterle, Stephen Asprinio, Tiffani Faison, and Dave Martin) and four Season 2 contestants (Ilan Hall, Sam Talbot, Elia Aboumrad, and Marcel Vigneron ) with proceeds going to charity, in which the teams serve their meals to the new chefs of Season 3.

For clips, recipes, and more info visit the official Top Chef Site.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day

In case you didn't already know, tomorrow (Tues. April 17th) from 12pm until 8pm participating Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops around the world will be hosting Ben & Jerry’s Annual Free Cone Day! Check out the Ben & Jerry website for more info.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Monte Cristo Sandwich Blue Bayou

Years ago I took a trip to El Paso, Texas to visit relatives. One of the most exciting things I talked about when I returned (other than the incredibly cheap happy hours) was the Monte Cristo Sandwich. The sandwich is stuffed with ham, turkey, and cheese, dipped in batter and deep fried. After given a dusting of powdered sugar the glorious concoction is then served with strawberry preserves. For years I had been trying to track down a Monte Cristo Sandwich as good as the one I had in El Paso. I located one at the Jolly Rogers Hotel in Anaheim and it was good, but not great. I tried to get one at The Tartan Room in Orange, only to discover that they only serve 'em up on the weekdays from 11:00-2:00 (which is when I'm usually at work).

Imagine my surprise when someone told me that the best Monte Cristo Sandwich is served at The Blue Bayou restaurant in know that restaurant you see when you board the Pirates of the Carribean ride. I had a hard time believing that, seeing as I've never had a good meal at Disneyland. I haven't had time to make it down to the theme park lately, but was pleased when I found a recipe in the Orange County Register last week! It's simple and delicious. Here's the recipe...

Monte Cristo Sandwich Blue Bayou

2/3 c. water
1 small egg
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. white pepper
few drops yellow food coloring
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t. baking powder
Place water, egg, salt, pepper and food coloring in a bowl and using an electric mixer, mix well at low speed. Add flour and baking powder and mix until batter is smooth. Chill. Makes enough for 4 sandwiches.

8 slices white bread
4 slices turkey (1 oz. each)
4 slices swiss cheese
4 slices Pullman ham
Make 4 sandwiches, putting cheese between hand and turkey. Cut into fourths and put a toothpick through each quarter.
Final Preparation:
soybean or vegetable oil for frying
Confectioners' sugar
currant jelly or strawberry preserve


Heat about 6-inches of oil to 340F in a fryer. Dip sandwiches in batter to cover all surfaces. Deep fry sandwiches until golden brown, turning as needed. Remove from oil, take out toothpicks, sprinkle sandwiches with confectioners' sugar. Serve with currant jelly or strawberry preserve and fries.

Blue Bayou is located in New Orleans Square in Disneyland (the moonlit dining terrace that overlooks Laffite's Landing, entry to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction)


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Taco Adobe

Taco Adobe is one of my most cherished places to eat. The restaurant is nestled deeply (almost hidden) on Main Street in downtown Santa Ana, down the street from the Bowers Muesum. I frequent this Mex-Southwestern Grill often, although I still have yet to stray too far from my favorites on the menu. My absolute favorite thing to eat at Taco Adobe are the Enchiladas De Camarones (shown here), which are two enchiladas stuffed with shrimp in a garlic sauce and covered in a tomatillo sauce topped with sour cream, avacado slices, and cojita cheese, served with rice and black beans.

I am equally in love the Pescado Guaymas, which is grilled mahi mahi sauteed on spinach cilantro garlic and walnut pesto sauce with a touch of serrano chiles. The Tacos De Camaron (shown here) are also quite appetizing.

Also be sure to check their daily specials, I believe that's where you'll find the mouthwatering Tacos De San Miguel or the Green Pazole, which are just a couple more thing I'd recommend trying. As of yet, I have not managed to get to Taco Adobe for breakfast. As far as liqour is concerned, they serve beer and wine only.

Taco Adobe is located at:
1319 N Main St
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 543-2411


Monday, February 19, 2007

Postre De Pina

I've posted about the Dona Tomas Cookbook before (last month in fact), but last week we decided to try out a new recipe for our dinner guests and naturally we reached for this cookbook first. We made some delicious Enchiladas De Veduras (Roasted Sweet Potato and Poblano Chile Enchiladas with Tomatillo and Jalepeno Sauce), but this Postre De Pina dessert stole the show. The rum, sugar, and vanilla sauce melds perfectly with the pineapple and puff pastry. I will definitly be adding this to my "keepers" list for the next time I have friends over.

Here's the recipe...

*Postre De Pina*


6 (1 inch-thick) round slices fresh pineapple, cored
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 (9 by 18-inch) sheet puff pastry
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup crema, for garnish

(For Rum Sauce)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons Myer's dark rum (I mistakenly used )
1 pinch kosher salt


To prepare the sauce, combine the cream, the butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a fentle boil, being careful to not scorch the bottom. Place a seperate saute pan over medium-high heat. *ile the granulated sugar in the center of the pan and drizzle the edges of the pile with the water to prevent burning. As the sugar begins to heat, fold the melted edges itno the center, gently stirring to break up any large lumps and prevent syrup from sticking and burning on the sides. Melt the sugar for 7 to 10 minutes, until it thins and turns an even shade of reddish brown.

Increase the heat to high, carefully add about 1 tablespoon of the rum, and allow the mixture to flambe. Once the flames die down, carefully whisk in one-third of the cream-butter mixture. Alternate this process two more times until all the rum and cream have been added. This method will prevent the sauce from becoming too thick (and breaking) or too thin (and not emulsifying). Bring the sauce to a full boil and add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavors. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Sprinkle both sides of the pineapple slices liberally with the sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then drizzle the slices with the pineapple juice. Meanwhile, take the puff pastry out of the freezer to defrost. Continue to baste the juice with the juice for 10 to 20 minutes, until the pineapple is fork-tender.

When the puff pastry is defrosted but still cold, roll it out on a well-floured surface, stretching slightly both lengthwise and widthwise. Select a bowl with a 4-inch diameter to use as a template. Place the bowl upside down on the pastry, and cut and cut around the edge with a sharp knife. You should get 6 rounds of pastry. Place the dough rounds on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or a silicone baking mat; prick each dough round with a fork. Whusk the egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl. Evenly brush the egg wash on the dough rounds. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until pastry rises and is golden brown.

Place 1 piece of the puff pastry on each plate. Place a slice of warm pineapple on each and cover with the sauce. Drizzle with crema right before serving.

Purchase this cookbook here.

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Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream

My favorite political comedian and my favorite (store bought) ice cream come together at last. Last week Ben & Jerry announced a new ice cream flavor in honor of The Comedy Central comedian called Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream. It's vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel. Ben & Jerry jokingly refer to it as "The sweet taste of liberty in your mouth". Colbert, who spoofs flag-waving conservatives on his show, The Colbert Report, is donating his proceeds to charity through the new Stephen Colbert Americone Dream Fund, which will distribute the money to various causes. Being the type of individual who is easily fixated on things I began looking for the new flavor at grocery stores in the Orange County area. After being unable to find it, I only wanted it more! I've since visited the Ben & Jerry's shop at The Block in Orange and a couple more grocery stores and I am still unable to locate the new flavor. Have any of you foodies out there seen it?


Bangkok Taste

This is qiuckly becoming my favorite place to eat. These days if I don't eat at Bangkok Taste at least once a week, then something seems amiss. Located in a strip mall in Santa Ana, Bangkok Taste has consistenly churned out fabulous Thai dishes such as Larb and Pad Thai.

Their curries are also excellent, their Yellow Curry with Chicken and Potatoes is still my favorite. If you manage to save a little room for dessert I'd recommend the Sticky Rice with Mango, which is one of my favorite desserts and I'm not even particularly fond of mangos. When you pop in be sure to checkout what their daily specials are, as they are usually not on the menu. Also make sure to not order your dishes extra spicy unless you're positive you can handle it, otherwise you'll be drinking water by the gallon.

Bangkok Taste is located at:
2737 N Grand Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 532-2216


Sunday, February 11, 2007

La Calle

I'm not sure where to begin. I had read good things about this restaurant tucked deep into a tiny strip mall years prior, but every time I happened to be in the area the place was closed. These days however, it is now my good fortune to live a hop, skip, and a jump away from what may be the best Mexican food I've ever had.

The first thing I'd highly reccomend ordering is the Panbaso, which is a soft bollillo roll dipped in a mild red sauce, filled with chorizo and potatoes, and topped with lettuce, sour cream, and green salsa. This is quite simply delicious...and at only a few dollars a pop you can't afford not to try one. The Potato and Chorizo Tacos in a hard shell (also shown above) are also especially tasty.

I'd also recommend you try the Chicarron (deep fried pork skin) Quesadilla. The crisp homemade dough is finished with lettuce, cotija cheese, green salsa, and sour cream and is light years away from any quesadilla I've ever eaten.

The Carne Asada Tacos (shown to the left) are also great, as are the Mole Enchiladas. I'm slowly beganing to work my way through the entire menu and I have yet to try a dish I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. The place boasts a new name now (El Moctezuma #3), but the food (I'm told) is still the same muy excelente comida as always.

La Calle (or El Moctezuma #3) is located at:
1740 W. Chapman Ave. Orange, 92868
Tel: (714) 456-0800