Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Food Truck Mafia (Fremont, CA)

I grew up with food trucks being called “roach coaches” and NOT in a loving way. Until tonight I had never eaten food from a food truck. Jene always told me that it was safe but I wasn’t sure I believed him lol. However, The Food Truck Mafia sets up about two blocks from us on Thursday night at Washington High School. After watching a couple of episodes of The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network I decided it might fun (and safe) to try food truck fare. So Jene and I met in the parking lot and tried fare from two trucks.

Yumsilog:

This truck does Filipino food and the sisig is GOOD! Probably some of my favorite sisig so far. However, we ordered lumpia and got home only to discover that while we had paid for it, it was not included in our order. So we weren’t able to sample it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ In addition to the sisig I tried the Bangsilog which is fried milk fish. The flavor was good but the fish was WAY over cooked making it very dry and tough. Our meals came with garlic fried rice (a little bland) and a fried egg. I honestly enjoy the heck outta the sisig but the rest of it left me going “eh.” The sisig is definitely worth going back for more. I don’t have a picture because we inhaled it lol.

That’s Sweet Dessert Truck:

Oh my! This is spectacular. I ordered two cupcakes, the Vanilla Salted Caramel and the Snickerdoodle. The Maple Bacon looked tempting but I stopped at two.

The Salted Caramel was amazing. A vanilla cupcake filled with hand crafted caramel, topped with buttercream icing, more caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt, yum! The cake itself was a touch heavy. Not dry but a little dense. However, I don’t mind that in a cake. ๐Ÿ™‚ The caramel was sooo good. I love hand crafted caramel. The only thing that could maybe be an improvement is if it was honey caramel which has a more complex flavor. The icing… eh, it’s buttercream. I honestly would prefer my cupcake without any icing given the choice.ย  The caramel drizzle and salt made it worth eating. On the snickerdoodle cupcake, I just scraped the frosting off and fed it to Jene lol. The snickerdoodle cupcake was like eating a super moist cinnamon coffee cake. It had a beautiful cinnamon swirl through out the body of the cake and a nice crispy cinnamon/sugar crust under the frosting. I will definitely go back again!

The picture above is the two cupcakes, salted caramel on the left and snickerdoodle on the right.

Here on the left is the Vanilla Salted Caramel cupcake. You can see how the caramel is oozing out of the cupcake. The big dent in the icing is from Jene sampling it lol. The picture on the right is the Snickerdoodle cupcake. You can see the beautiful cinnamon swirled through out. I loved these cupcakes. Possibly even more than I do Sprinkles cupcakes. I will definitely be visiting this truck again. I will probably try the Maple Bacon next time too ๐Ÿ˜€

1 Comment »

Baked Chicken Breasts with Garlic and Onion

First, let me apologize for not posting last night. I was so tired by the time I got home from physical therapy that I pretty much crawled into bed. That being said, I did manage to cook dinner tonight, albeit a simple dinner.

My friend Ellisha was trying to figure out what to fix for dinner on Saturday night. She had some chicken breasts and was bemoaning the fact that her daughter didn’t like the chicken. I told her to bring the chicken over to my house and I’d cook up something they’d both enjoy. Thus the birth of this recipe.

Recipe

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup onion, sliced very thinly into rings

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 TB butter

1/4 cup white wine

salt to taste

Penzeys Mural of Flavor to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Rinse and dry the chicken then place in the baking dish. Split the onion slices, the garlic and the butter between the four breasts. Splash about 1T of white wine over each breast then sprinkle with salt and Mural of Flavor. Bake for about 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer shows 150-160 degrees F. Experts vary between saying a safe temperature is 160 or 170. I take my chicken out at 150 and let it rest to come up to 160-165.

By removing the chicken when it’s still at 150 the meat stays much more moist. Just remember to let the chicken rest to finish cooking.

So to explain the reasoning behind these flavors… Onions and garlic go with almost anything. It’s a simple way to kick up the flavor of any type of meat. The butter helps add some moisture and fat back into the chicken breasts which are painfully lean. (Yes, I know that’s why people eat them but it’s so BORING without fat.) The white wine also helps add a bit of extra moisture and flavor. It’s just a splash so if you don’t like wine, leave it out. Finally, the Mural of Flavor is one of my favorite all purpose seasoning blends.ย  I basically tried thinking about what I would want my chicken breasts to taste like if I was a 12 year old girl lol. This was what I came up with.

Leave a comment »

Caramel Popcorn

With school coming back into session, I thought this recipe would be fun to share. This is a fun one to make with the kids and makes for a great addition to movie night.

I don’t even remember where this recipe came from but I got it when I was around 12 or so. We used to make big batches at Christmas time to include in gift baskets with the cookies my dad would bake.

Recipe

3/4 cup popcorn – popped

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Put popped corn in a large brown paper sack. (Paper grocery bags are perfect for this.)
Mix brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a two quart dish. Bring to a boil in the microwave on high. (About 1 1/2 minutes, maybe less if microwave is high wattage.) Cook 2 minutes more on high. Remove, stir in baking soda. Pour over popcorn. Close bag and shake well. Cook 1 1/2 minutes, shake well.
Cook 1 1/2 minutes, shake well.
Pour into a large bowl and stir while the caramel is cooling to prevent large clumps.

Now, I just tried to make this for the first time in probably 20 years… let me say that microwaves are MUCH more powerful now lol. I am currently enjoying the smell of burnt sugar permeating the house. My microwave is 1300 watts and I would guess that the one my parents had when I was a child was probably 800 watts. So.. this being said, only microwave it for 1 minute at a time. In the picture you can see there’s some dark spots where I burnt the sugar. The golden color is what it’s supposed to look like. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  And while it might not have turned out the way I wanted it to, the memories of childhood it brought back were more golden than the caramel.

Leave a comment »

Triple-Cherry Cheesecake

Our friends Monica and Jolly are having their engagement party today. I told them I would bring something special to help celebrate. This cheesecake definitely falls into the “special” category. It is rich, luscious, fruity and well, pretty much perfect. The recipe comes from The Bon Appetit Cookbook (2006) pg 533. I did not actually use the cheesecake part of the recipe, just the cherry sauce recipe. The cheesecake is from Philadelphia cream cheese and the crust is my own.

Cheesecake

1 cup Nilla wafer crumbs

3 TB sugar

3 TB melted butter

5 8-oz packages of cream cheese , softened

1 cup sugar

3 TB flour

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 TB vanilla (I used 1 tsp of almond extract this time to accent the cherries. Always use less almond extract than vanilla because it’s a much stronger flavor.)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix together cookie crumbs, 3 TB of sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and flour at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in sour cream and vanilla. Pour over crust.

Carefully fold a large single piece of aluminum foil around the pan. Heavy duty foil works best for this. When you fold it up around the sides of the pan, make sure there are no folds or creases that can allow water into the foil. Then place the baking pan in a larger pan with hot water coming about 1″ up the sides of the pan. This water bath technique helps prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Loosen cake from rim and let cool to room temperature then refrigerate overnight. Do NOT cover with plastic wrap. The residual heat of the cake will cause condensation on top of the cake and make it soggy. So make sure you don’t have anything garlic/onion flavored in the fridge lol.

Cherry Sauce

3/4 cup dried tart cherries

1 1-lb bag of frozen, pitted Bing cherries, thawed, drained and juice reserved

1/2 cup cherry jam/preserves

2 TB brandy

1 TB cornstarch

Combine dried cherries and reserved juice in a heavy, medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

Mix cherry jam, brandy and cornstarch in a bowl. Stir into dried cherry mixture. Add thawed cherries. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Cool slightly then refrigerate until cold. (Can be made two days ahead, keep refrigerated.)

 

It is really important to make the cake a day before you’re serving it. It needs the time to chill in the fridge. When you’re ready to remove it from the pan, remove the outer ring, place a smooth piece of plastic wrap over the top of the cake. Place a large cutting board on top of the cheesecake and carefully flip it upside down. The bottom of the pan is most likely going to be stuck to the crust. The best way to do this is to take a dish towel, wet it down, warm it in the microwave for a bit and then put the hot towel on the bottom of the pan. This melts the butter in the crust allowing the pan to be lifted away. Once you have the bottom of the pan off you can place a decorative plate on the bottom of the cheesecake and gently flip it right side up. Remove the plastic wrap and top with the cherry mixture, leaving a 1/2 border along the edge of the cake.

This picture shows the cheesecake upside down on a cutting board after removing the bottom of the pan. As you can see the cutting board is bigger than the cake which is important. If your cutting board isn’t big enough, the edges of the cake can break off.

The picture on the right shows the cake right side up and placed on a pretty plate. I get these plates at Bed Bath and Beyond for about $1.50 each. They are the perfect size for a 9″ cake and cheap enough that I don’t mind leaving them behind.

 

 

And here’s the finished product. ๐Ÿ™‚

1 Comment »

Keeping it simple

Sometimes you just want simple, clean flavors. Last night Jene made himself a hamburger patty that embodied that simplicity. It was seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper and then he put a thick slab of cheddar cheese on top. It was fabulous. So tonight Jene is being kind enough to make some more burgers just like from last night. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I make hamburgers I normally layer in the flavors. I add fresh, finely minced onion, worchestershire sauce, and Penzeys Chicago Steak Seasoning. Sometimes I add ground pork for an extra bit of fat and richness. Tonight I want just the pure beef flavor. The thick slab of cheddar cheese is the perfect compliment to that rich beefiness. It’s salty and enhances the flavor. Jene got creative and fried the burger in a bit of butter to give it some extra flavor.

It’s too easy to over look the beauty of simplicity. We see the cooking shows on TV and it makes it seem like all food must have multiple layers of flavors and lots of fancy ingredients. And I’ll be the first to admit that I love playing with flavors and new ingredients. I just try not to forget the beauty of minimally enhanced flavors. The purity that lurks at the heart of a good ingredient. So take the time to remember the roots of your food and revisit them.

Leave a comment »

Almost Home-made chicken noodle soup

So of all the stupid ways to get sick, I have an ear infection. As far as I know it’s the first one I’ve ever had too.ย  So in “celebration” of being sick, I thought I’d share my favorite imitation scratch made chicken noodle soup. I make this when I’m too sick to really make it from scratch or too lazy ๐Ÿ˜‰

Recipe

1 rotisserie chicken – deboned

4 quarts chicken broth or stock (I like the stuff in the soft sided cartons)

8 oz dried fettuccine noodles (I use the herby flavored ones)

1 large onion – chopped

4 large celery ribs – chopped

4 large carrots – peeled and chopped

herb seasoning (I use Penzeys Bavarian blend)

salt & pepper to taste

Bringย  the chicken broth/stock to a boil in a large pot. Add the chicken meat, onions, carrots, celery, herbs, salt and pepper. Let simmer for about ten minutes or until the celery and carrots are just starting to soften up. Add the noodles and cook for another 8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

That’s it! Put some in a bowl and feed it to yourself and anyone else around you who’s ailing.

I apologize for not having any pictures again tonight but I didn’t actually make soup. I bought soup at Panera today lol. I love their cream of chicken and wild rice soup. ๐Ÿ˜€

Leave a comment »

Braising

I love braising. It’s simple, easy andย  I can walk away and ignore it once the dish is started. The idea of using a slow cooker is really based on braising. Braising is simply the process of searing a piece of meat and then simmering it in liquid over low heat in a covered pot.

The other day I made Filipino Pork Adobo and had some pork shoulder left over. Today I took that piece of pork, (got lazy and skipped the searing) put it in an oven proof pot, poured in about half a bottle of white wine, seasoned it with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. I put the lid on the pot, put in it the oven at 225F and ignored it for about 7 hours.

As you can see from the picture, the meat is moist and falling apart tender. This process works best with tough cuts of meat such as beef chuck roast or pork shoulder. The long slow cooking process breaks down the tough connective tissues that can make the meat chewy in other cooking processes. The connective tissues also become glutinous as the gelatin in the tissues breaks down. What was formerly gristle has become a luscious, unctuous delight.ย  You can also use any kind of liquid such as milk, water, wine, fruit juice or other liquid flavors depending on your mood.

Now that I’ve shared my love of braising I should mention, this does NOT work well with a lean cut of meat. Without the heavy fat streaking you get in a chuck roast or pork shoulder, the meat becomes dry and icky. Lean cuts of meat are much better off cooked quickly to medium-rare/rare.

 

Jene also brought me another pork shoulder which I think I’ll use to make carnitas. Carnitas is another dish that uses braising as part of the cooking technique. Take the time to play with the flavors, it’s worth it.

Leave a comment »

Chinese Hamburger

This casserole is pure mid-western dining lol. It was one my mom made a lot when I was growing up. I haven’t made it in a long time because we try to eat low-carb. So I don’t have any pictures for you this time. However, it’s easy to make and good for feeding a crowd.

Recipe

1 lb ground beef

1 onion – chopped

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup rice

2 T soy sauce

1 package chow mien noodles

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a skillet brown the beef and onions. Mix in the soups, soy sauce, rice and water. Put ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the chow mien noodles across the top and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Check the rice to make sure it’s done. If not, bake for 10 additional minutes, being careful not to burn the noodles on top.

Serve

I’ll be the first to admit that I frequently tweak recipes to try and improve them. This is one that I’ve never messed with. Maybe it’s the childhood memories or maybe it’s just that good lol. Give it a try and let me know if you make changes, I’d be very interested to hear what you do with it!

2 Comments »

Filipino Pork Adobo (Adobong Baboy)

One of the things I have come to love since I moved to the Bay area is Filipino food. I have always wanted to travel internationally but at the same time, I really hate to travel lol. So instead, I settle for eating internationally. Jene’s best friends are Filipino and I’ve been adopted into the clan. I think I forever won the hearts of the Aunties when I announced my love of Chocolate Beef. It’s a beef dish made with beef blood, giving the sauce a deep, chocolate brown color. Apparently most Caucasians find the idea of using blood somewhat off-putting. Now, since I don’t have any beef blood on hand, I’m making Pork Adobo today.

Adobo is a word that people are more familiar with in Mexican cooking. Chipotle chiles are packed in adobo sauce and Mexican Adobo is heaving on the cumin, garlic and onion. Filipino food has a lot of influence from when the Spaniards were sailing around and spreading Catholicism. However, Filipino Adobo has nothing to do with Mexican adobo lol.

Filipino adobo is marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper. It is then cooked right in the marinade until the meat is falling apart. I love the succulence of the pork shoulder with the tang of the vinegar. If you think about it, this is very similar to the vinha d’alhos that the Portuguese make half way around the world from the Philippines.

This recipe comes from Filipino Cuisine: Recipes from the Islands by Gerry G. Gelle (1997) pg 4.

Recipe

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2 T soy sauce

1 tsp salt

3 bay leaves

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 T sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt – cut into 2″ pieces

1 T vegetable oil

Combine all the ingredients except the meat and oil in a non-aluminum saucepan. Aluminum reacts badly with vinegar in case you were wondering. Add the meat and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Simmer covered for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat and reserve the sauce.

Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the meat on all sides. Dream off the excess oil. Add the reserved sauce to the meat and heat for a few minutes, stirring and scraping the sides of the pot.

Serve with rice.

Now that you have the basics of the recipe you can play around with it. Once the meat has been cooked you can saute some onions and garlic and add that to the meat. You can add tomatoes and bell peppers, potatoes and plantains… it’s all about what you want to achieve. Today I’m doing just the very basic adobo although I might add some onion at the end ๐Ÿ˜€

The other thing I did was make a MUCH bigger batch than the recipe calls for. I’ve got about 9-10 lbs of pork in the pot.

ย  Here you can see the big chunks of pork in the pot soaking up the yummy flavors. The meat starts to take on a caramel color as the soy sauce and vinegar interact with the meat. Because of the high vinegar content it’s fine to leave sitting on the counter marinading for an hour or so. If you want it to sit longer than that you should refrigerate it.

I also decided to caramelize some onions to stir in after the pork is done. Slow cooked with lots of butter, the sugars in the onions are released to bring to life a sweetness not found in a raw onion. I skipped the step of browning the cooked pork. It’s really a matter of personal preference. ๐Ÿ™‚

And to the right is the finished product. If you see the ring around the edge of the pot you can see that I let the sauce reduce a bit then thickened it with a butter/flour roux. I had some extra butter floating around in the pan with the onions and used that in the roux to impart some extra flavor. After thickening the sauce I returned the pork to the pot and added the onions. Ideally this would be served over rice but since we’re low-carbish we don’t have the rice.

Give it a try and enjoy the international flavor!

Leave a comment »

Baldie’s (Union City, CA)

Just up the road from us in Union City is one of my favorite diners. Baldie’s serves a wonderful spread of Greek and American dishes, including breakfast all day. I have long been an addict when it comes to Greek food. The tang of lemon, the bite of oregano and the richness of feta cheese tease and tantalize my taste buds. Now that I’ve expressed my love of Greek food, I must say that I also love certain well made American dishes. Prime among these is really good onion rings. Baldie’s has THE best onion rings.

That said, dinner tonight was started with onion rings.

Fried golden brown, the batter is crisp without being too heavy or greasy. The onion inside is soft without being soggy and sweet to the taste. There were several more on the plate but I had to remind myself to take this picture lol. Another nice thing about Baldie’s is that the servings are BIG!

 

Jene ordered the Veal Parmesan for his entree. The veal cutlet is very large, comes with soup or salad, and veggies with a choice of potato or rice. Jene got the clam chowder and I could not keep my spoon out of his soup bowl lol. He was generous and let me have almost half of his soup despite my protestations that I was going to stop eating it. It was rich, creamy, herby and full of clam, potatoes and mushrooms. I wouldn’t have thought of putting mushrooms in clam chowder but it was SO good. I was too busy shoving my spoon in the soup to take a picture but I did get a picture of the veal. As you can see, it’s a big portion.

For myself I had my standard… Greek salad with grilled chicken, no onions. The dichotomy of my life is that I LOVE onion rings and other forms of cooked onion but despise raw onion. So I always get an odd look when I order onion rings and a salad withOUT onions.

Unlike many salads, this is not a big pile of lettuce with a big of good stuff stuck on top. The Greek salad at Baldie’s doesn’t have a single speck of lettuce! It is chunks of tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, greek olives, feta cheese and onions (for those so inclined) topped with a grilled chicken breast and one of the most delicious Greek salad dressings. (The BEST Greek salad dressing goes to Mr. Gyros in Overland Park, KS in case you were wondering.) As you can see from the picture this is a nice chunky salad with amazing texture and flavor. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever ordered anything else lol. I think I had the pastitsio once but my true love is the salad.

Now that I’ve waxed poetic about the salad, I may have found a new addiction tonight. On Friday, Baldie’s makes bread pudding from scratch. Bread pudding is the only so called “pudding” I will eat. The texture of the bread soaked in a rich cream/egg custard, delicately spiced with cinnamon and (in most cases) studded with nice fat raisins is my idea of a perfect dessert. Sadly, tonight’s bread pudding does not have raisins but other than thatย  it is amazing. The bread is tender, moist and decadent. Too many restaurants over bake their break pudding leaving it dry and tough. I ordered a serving to go, sampled it and ordered a second serving to go lol. They’re currently in my refrigerator but now that I’ve rhapsodized, I’m going toย  go get a fork and eat some!

Leave a comment »