Recipe #18: Croissant egg casserole

A friend of mine had a baby recently, so I offered to bring her dinner. I wasn't sure what to make, but I got a book of casseroles from the library, and wanted to try out a new recipe. I found a breakfast casserole that called for a few simple ingredients.

The recipe actually called for onions, but the leeks looked particularly lovely, so I opted for them instead. I don't know why I don't cook with leeks more often - they've got a delicate sweetness, with all the flavor of a green onion. You do have to cook them thoroughly though, because they're quite sturdy.

So basically, the recipe called for mushrooms, leeks (or onions), eggs and croissants.

Here are the bottom halves of the croissants, with half of the egg custard poured on top. Then, you layer it with the mushroom/leek mixture, and sprinkle it with some cheese (I used provolone, but you could use any type of cheese you like - gruyere would taste great). The final layer consists of the other halves of the croissants, and the remainder of the custard. It gets refrigerated overnight and bakes for 30-40 minutes the next day.

I unfortunately didn't take a picture of the final product, though I did manage a small taste (what if it tasted terrible?! I couldn't give that to my friend and her family. I think it tasted pretty good - the croissants got crispy and brown, due to the high butter content). 4 stars. Easy, hearty, and it would make a great "leftover" dish -- as in, use your leftovers to make a great meal.



Scratch is a fairly new restaurant in Mountain View (home to Google headquarters). Many would say that any restaurant in that spot is doomed to fail (there have been at least 3 restaurants that I can recall in the past 5 years). I have to say, though, that it was a great dining experience. Great food and great ambiance (well, at least for happy hour).

My co-workers and I shared some appetizers. Check this baby out: bacon wrapped dated stuffed with chorizo. You read that right.

And a cheese plate:

And pork belly (which seems to be all the rage these days in the culinary scene.):

Only thing I can say about this experience is: nom nom nom.


PPQ Dungeness

It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously. It's been raining non-stop for the past week or so, and it's likely to continue. R. and I wanted to enjoy a nice dinner in Sausalito, but it wasn't worth the trek in such miserable weather. So we trekked over to a neighborhood joint called PPQ Dungeness. They specialize in...well, dungeness crabs, but with Vietnamese flavors. I had been there years ago and wasn't that impressed. I'm not sure if the ownership changed, but I found it to be a far better experience this time around. Any place where you have to wear a bib gets two thumbs up in my book. :)

We started off with imperial rolls and cabbage salad. Nice contrast of flavors, textures and temperatures (piping hot rolls, ice cold salad).

This restaurant is known for their garlic noodles. It's crack, I swear - just can't get enough.
And the piece de resistance: roasted dungeness crab with plenty of garlic (do you sense a theme?).

For dessert, fried banana with coconut ice cream. 
And then the two little piggies rolled home.


Good food, good friends

There's nothing better than great food enjoyed with great company. My girlfriends and I enjoyed a leisurely brunch at a fairly new joint called Sweet Maple. We actually hadn't intended to eat there, but our regular place was way too packed. Sweet Maple isn't located in a high traffic area, so we literally just stumbled upon it. What a find! Delicious. We each ordered a dish, with the intention of sharing it amongst us ourselves. I'm glad we shared, because it was great to taste (again and again) several dishes, each with its own merits.

Here's the BLT panini, served with fries:

Holy moly! Look at that thick cut bacon, and the gorgeous chunks of creamy avocado.

Here's the french toast, with fried banana and candied walnuts...and a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Hey-oh...look out now!

The other dish was an egg scramble, but I wasn't as impressed with that. But it was still pretty tasty.


Recipe #16 & 17: Banana cake with chocolate frosting

One of my new year's resolutions was to curb food waste. Admittedly, I haven't been 100% successful this year, but I think I've gotten better. For instance, I roasted way too much broccoli the other night. So instead of wasting the half that would've gone into the trash later in the week, I quickly boiled some pasta, tossed it in with the broccoli, and dressed it with some garlic, really fruity olive oil and freshly grated parmesan. Lovely.

Well this weekend, I had 3 bananas that were overly ripe, and there was no way I'd get through them before they became inedible. Tired of the same old banana bread, I looked through my latest cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa "How Easy is That?" and found a recipe for banana cake with cream cheese frosting. I didn't have cream cheese and it sounded a bit too heavy, so I searched online for an easy frosting recipe. But back to the cake. It was very moist, with a good density, but I honestly can't tell the difference between this cake and a regular banana loaf, other than the shape of the pan (round vs. loaf pan). 4 ladles though, for moistness and taste. Here's the side profile:

The frosting, however, was an entirely different matter. The recipe claimed to the world's easiest chocolate frosting recipe -- which wasn't entirely false. It just required cocoa powder, powdered sugar, milk, and a little vanilla extract. I don't know what happened, but it looked like poo. The consistency was terrible, and so was the taste:

I lamented having used the last of my Scharffenberger cocoa powder. Boo! What a waste. 0 ladles.


Recipe #15: Salmon patties

A friend had recently posted that she made the most outrageously delicious (and easy) salmon patties. Intrigued, I found that the recipe called for simple pantry staples: canned salmon (Ok, this isn't exactly a staple in my pantry. Tuna - maybe, salmon - no.) and Saltine crackers, mixed with a few eggs, half an onion and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Fry 'em up in a liberal amount of oil. Easy enough, right? Yes to easy, no to amazing.

They weren't bad, just...bland. And unexciting. I used some garlic instead of the onion, and didn't use a lot of oil - just a splash of lemon-infused olive oil on a nonstick pan. To its credit, I will say that this recipe is incredibly economical and very easy to pull together. 

The slight red sheen you see on top of the salmon patty is from my cryptonite, Tabasco. I also pulled together a 2-second tartar sauce with organic olive oil mayo, some capers, a squeeze of lemon and some freshly ground pepper. 

3 ladles. If I were to make this recipe again, I'd add something fresh to it -- maybe some scallions or chopped parsley. Something to bring it to life.


Recipe #14: Williams Sonoma's Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookbooks from Williams Sonoma are nice because each recipe features gorgeous, full-size pictures. Having just bought a giant tub of peanut butter at Costco (there's a PB fiend in my house, and it ain't me), I felt inspired to make classic peanut butter cookies.

I've found over the years, that a lot of peanut butter cookies call for shortening. I'm guessing it has to do with the consistency, and the combination of shortening with peanut butter must create some good chemistry. Well, this recipe didn't call for shortening, thankfully, but the end result was overwhelmingly underwhelming.

The texture was grainy, and while the recipe called for refrigerating the dough for a few hours, the dough just crumbled to the touch and was really hard to roll into a ball. See how it cracks?

Although traditional PB cookies have the signature criss-cross imprint, I left it one-sided so that I could pipe some chocolate in between the line. I wasn't trying to get too fancy, but the recipe called for it, and I thought it was a clever way to make the cookies a bit more elegant. I didn't get that far, though, because the cookies continued to be a crumbly mess out of the oven. Hard, grainy and too crumbly. 2 ladles (the flavor wasn't bad).

Sidenote: Crap, it's March and I'm on recipe #13? Only 351 more to go! Right.