Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birthday Cake!

I’m normally not much of a baker. It just doesn’t bring me the same thrill as sautĂ©ing vegetables, listening to the soft simmer of soup bubbling away on the stove, or basting a nice piece of meat in the oven. My lukewarm approach to baking changed, however, when it came time to create a birthday cake for one of my best friends. I say “create” rather than bake because this was not your ordinary birthday cake…this was a triple-decker, over-the-top, completely ridiculous, and absurdly delicious birthday cake. 

The bottom layer consisted of a funfetti cake. Then I frosted the top with a layer of swirled nutella and fluffernutter (a combination I shall name “flufftella”). On top of that was a dark chocolate brownie. Another layer of flufftella. And then…and then waffles. Not just standard breakfast waffles, but waffles that contained bits of a dark chocolate bar with coconut and caramel. Yes, I did that.

 After the cake was assembled I frosted the whole thing in home-made whipped cream and decked it out with rainbow sprinkles. And of course no birthday cake is complete without brightly colored candles dripping wax all over it. 

This cake was seriously awesome. I didn’t add any sugar to the whipped cream or the waffle batter so that it wouldn’t get overly sweet. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a sugar bomb--while making the cake I got such a sugar rush and crash from tasting everything that I had to stop baking and take a nap. But these are the hardships we must endure to make our friend’s birthdays extra special. So say goodbye to boring birthday cakes. Next time you’ve got to make one, while settle for just one plain cake with some frosting? Why not combine three awesome desserts into one massive baked good of happiness? Trust me, it’s so worth it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Steak and Arugula Salad

For many of us spring has arrived. Sunny days and warm temperatures call for grilling, and tonight I just so happened to have access to a grill...and a steak. 

Before grilling the sirloin steak rare I coated it with just a little bit of olive oil, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper. After the grill was nice and hot I cooked the steak for just a few minutes on each side, leaving it seared on the outside and tender and rare on the inside. After removing it from the grill I let it sit for a few more minutes before slicing it, allowing the juices to circulate and settle. 

While the steak cooked and sat, I prepared an arugula salad as the final resting place for the lovely steak. Before I ate it, of course. The salad was simple--just baby arugula, chopped fresh cherry tomatoes, and finely chopped red onion. I tossed it all together with a vinaigrette composed of blood-orange olive oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, crush red pepper, and a raw egg yolk. 

I tossed the dressing with the salad and topped it with the sliced steak. It's a simple and absolutely delicious dish for these delightful spring days.

Honey, Honey

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Cream

Last year I put up a recipe for delicious homemade Irish cream. This year I decided to repost the recipe and document the process for your viewing pleasure. 

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Best of the Best from North Carolina Cookbook, but I've made a couple of changes over the years.


1-1/4 cup Irish whiskey

4 eggs

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened-condensed milk

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut extract

1 tablespoon instant coffee (or coffee extract)

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
(or chocolate extract if you can find it)

Blend all the ingredients together and refrigerate for about 12 hours before serving over ice. Enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gaze First, Then It's Time to Drink

"I craved a swig of whiskey, but it was in the knapsack on my back and the idea of twisting around to extract the bottle did not seem altogether wise. Nix on that. So I thought about having a drink instead. A quiet bar, MJQ's Vendome playing low, a bowl of nuts, a double whiskey on the rocks. The glass is sitting on the counter, untouched for a moment, just looked at. Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it's time to drink."

--Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Semiotics of the Kitchen

"I was concerned with something like the notion of 'language speaking the subject,' and with the transformation of the woman herself into a sign in a system of signs that represent a system of food production, a system of harnessed subjectivity." – Martha Rosler

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Creme Betweens

Why buy Oreos when you can enjoy these delicious Creme Betweens?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pai Men Miyake

I don't even think I need to explain what's going on here at Pai Men Miyake, located at 188 State Street in Portland, Maine--the photos really say it all. 

Featured here are two must haves while dining at Pai Men Miyake--pork buns and ramen. The pork buns come with braised pork belly with gouchujang mayo and pepper relish nestled between two perfect pillowey buns. It is like a fluffy dough cloud with pork belly inside--what could be better? 

All the ramen is plentiful with pork belly as well. I believe what we're looking at here is the Tonkotsu-Shoyu Ramen (pork broth with soy egg, ginger root, mushrooms, scallion, pork belly, and nori) and the Miso Ramen (pork, chicken, and fish broth topped with pork belly, soy-marinated egg, scallion, and nori).

For some reason I associate eating Japanese ramen on rainy days. Escaping into Pai Men Miyake from a rainy Portland afternoon and slurping up noodles and pork broth sounds pretty ideal right now. If you find yourself in Portland craving authentic ramen or just need a pork bun fix, this is a great place to satisfy your desire. Enjoy!

Pai Men Miyake on Urbanspoon

Flatbread Company

While I haven’t been to Portland, Maine, since August (insert sad emoticon here) I still have some food posts from my last trip that never went up—one of them being about the tasty pizzas at Flatbread Company, located right on the water at 72 Commercial Street.   
I like Flatbread. It’s got a sweet vibe to it. The restaurant feels nice and spacious and you can watch your pizza being made and tossed into a blazing open wood stove. Inside is welcoming and warm, but when it’s nice out I recommend sitting outside by the water.  I'm biased toward a New York slice, but I've found life is much better when you just open yourself up to different variations on a good idea. My favorite pizza so far at Flatbread is the Homemade Sausage. I love the taste of the sausage—it’s nitrate free with a pleasant combination of subtle sweet maple and a bit of a bite from the fennel. The pizza also comes with organic sulfate-free sundried tomatoes, caramelized organic onions, organic mushrooms, whole milk mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese with organic bread dough and homemade organic garlic oil and herbs.  
Everyday they offer a vegetable and a meat special pizza, and they will also let you order a pizza half-and-half so you can try both without having to order too much food. On one visit we ordered half Coevolution and half of the meat special for the day. Coevolution is composed of imported Kalamata olives (guaranteed to make a good pizza even better), fresh organic rosemary, organic red onions, Sunset Acres goat cheese, fire-roasted sweet red peppers, and whole milk mozzarella on organic bread dough with homemade organic garlic olive oil and herbs. The meat special came with tiny Maine shrimps and a Thai peanut sauce. It had a little bit of heat to it and was also topped with peppers and snow peas. A success all around.  
A crisp Maine Root root beer is a nice accompaniment to the pizza, especially on a hot summer day. They also have nice options for beer and wine at the bar inside.  
One of the interesting aspects of Flatbread is that their menus are made from children’s drawings, some of which are highly entertaining. I am a seaweed! I am a cloud! I am a strawberry! I am an orphan?  
Flatbread Company on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli Awesomeness

For dinner tonight I made pumpkin ravioli tossed with caramelized onions, minced garlic, baby spinach, olive oil and topped with goat cheese and crushed red pepper flakes.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby, indeed.

Cannabis as a "Dietary Essential"?

Could we be at a point of redefining cannabis not as a drug (whether medicinal or recreational) but as a vegetable that has immense benefits for the human body when incorporated raw into a daily diet? Very interesting...

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I tried this bibimbap at Village Yokocho while out in New York City with some friends. The rice in the bottom of the sizzling bowl got nice and crispy and that beautiful egg yolk spread lusciously throughout the dish. Amping the spice level up with lots of hot chili sauce we devoured two these between five people in no time. SO GOOD.

Plus bibimbap is the most fun food name to say out loud. Trust me, it's been proven.

Biscuits 'n Gravy

What's better than waking up to a breakfast of fresh biscuits, sausage gravy, and poached eggs? Not a lot. Especially when you wake up to good friends who are ready to assist you in cooking such a tasty meal!

While I got to work on the sausage gravy, my friend Molly prepared the biscuits using a recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. With the oven preheating to 450° she mixed together:

2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt

Next she cut a 1/2 cup of shortening into the flour mixture by pulling two knives through the ingredients in opposite directions. Once the mixture turned into small crumbs she stirred in 3/4 cup of milk.

Then the dough was placed on a floured surface and kneaded about ten times, rolled flat until 1/2 inch thick, and cut into circles using a water glass.

To finish, they were baked in the oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for ten minutes.

I started to make the sausage gravy by browning some breakfast sausage. When it was cooked through I removed the sausage and left the grease in the pan. Next I added a couple of tablespoons of flour to the grease and mixed it together for a few minutes until it was brown. Then I poured in a cup of milk and stirred it together until thick. After that I added the cooked sausage back into the gravy and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Simple yet delicious.

After the sausage gravy was good to go and the biscuits were almost done baking I poached some eggs. I filled a large pot with about an inch of water and a splash of white wine vinegar and set it to medium heat. When the water was just starting to bubble I would crack an egg into a dish then release the raw egg from the dish right onto the surface of the water, and used a wooden spoon to gently nudge the whites over the top of the yolk. This helps to keep the egg together as it poaches. After about four minutes I removed each egg using a slotted spoon and placed them onto the sausage-gravy covered biscuits, which we had cut in half.

The breakfast was absolutely amazing. It's a little heavy for an early-morning breakfast, but I guarantee that you will be full for hours. Enjoy!