devilishly good

Folks, autumn is upon us and Halloween will be here in less than two weeks.  Why not take a leisurly stroll over to The Year of Halloween and check out my guest post, 5 Spooky Treats for Halloween?  From Living Lucurto’s sweet brains in a jar to Martha Stewart’s shattered glass cupcakes, these are some of the spookiest, ooiest, devilishly decadent Halloween treats around.

Image & Recipe via Living Locurto


so what’s happenin’, mama? (10 feb)

thursday, february 10

6pm – 10pm.  Valentines gift bazaar at El Take It Easy.  Free tosti locos and all night happy hour – eat and drink while supporting local businesses by buying crafty gifts for your sweetie!

friday, february 11

10am – 1pm.  Alchemy of the Hearth presents “Start a Food-Based Business.”  $65. 

saturday, february 12

11am – 4pm.  Six contestants compete in a live cooking challenge for a spot as an instructor at Great News! Cooking School.  $10.

12pm-5pm.  Pizza Port Carlsbad Brewbies Festival!  20 local handcrafted beers plus a special edition Pizza Port pink beer. 100% of the proceeds go directly to Keep a Breast to support their efforts to increase breast cancer awareness among young people.

1pm-5pm.  For the Love of Chocolate.  Downtown Escondido festival will include vendors, chocolate pairings by local breweries and wineries, champagne garden with live music, and beer & wine bar.  Tasting tickets are $20 for 10 tastes.

sunday, february 13

10am – 5pm.  Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with San Diego Chinese Historical Society & Museum in downtown San Diego’s Asian Pacific Historic District.   Why not make a day of it and also hit up the Third Ave Certified Farmers’ Market and Asian Bazaar between Island Avenue and J Street from 9am to 1pm?   Check out the San Diego Farm Bureau for a complete daily listing of farmers’ markets around town.

monday, february 14

Well, it’s Valentines’ Day.  Seriously, this is a made up holiday and all the restaurants will be slammed, which means your food will cost more, take longer, and not be as good as it usually is.  This is not romantic.  Do yourself and your sweetie a favor and make a romantic dinner at home tonight.  Not sure what to make?  All thumbs and no knife skills?  Check out tomorrow’s post for a no-fail, super easy, romantic dinner roadmap!

No sweetie?  No problem!  Make a beeline for Proper Gastropub’sAnti-Valentine’s Day” Party starting at 4pm and enjoy their specially priced “Kiss-Off!” cocktail list.  Dress in black or bring a pic of your former flame and get a Screw U Driver off the special cocktail menu for just $1 (and isn’t that cheaper than therapy?). 

tuesday, february 15

730pm – 8pm.  Stop by O’Brien’s Pub and catch Three Sheets with Zane Lamprey, a half hour tv show featuring drinks and drinking customs around the world.  If you’re lucky, they’ll have some Dogfish Head left over from this week’s Dogfish Head night!

 wednesday, february 16

7pm – 11pm.  It’s DRINKABOUT time!  Hop on the free bus and do a loop of some of the best craft beer bars in San Diego (or beyond!) with stops at the Blind Lady Ale House, Small Bar, Live Wire, Toronado, Hamilton’s and more.  Complete schedule and map here.

the weekly ish

recipes

  • Jason Wilson, WAPO Spirits columnist, takes on the Singapore Sling and reinvents it.  And by reinventing it, I mean brings it back to its original composition – a light drink of gin, cherry brandy, and lemon juice.  I haven’t really developed a taste for gin yet, but I’ll keep practicing.  
  • The Seattle Weekly tackles making Girl Scout cookies at home.   Since only an estimated 10-20% of the cost of a box of cookies goes to the scout’s troop (approx. 50% stays with the regional council and the rest goes to the manufacturer), why not make a batch or two from scratch this year and donate the whole $4 (or more) to your local troop
  • Fascinating article on the art of Chinese noodles.  Oh, and anyone who would like to FedEx me a bowl of you po che mian?  I’ll be sitting here waiting patiently.  Waiting.  Yep.  Patiently.  Annnnytime.
  • In case you hadn’t heard, the Superbowl is this weekend.  In case you hadn’t settled on a dish, Pioneer Woman and the NY Times have helpfully collected their best recipes for you.  In case you haven’t picked a team, Go Tiger Cubs!

restaurant news

  • Another food trend hits San DiegoChef Dan Moody, former sous chef for Chef Ludovic Lefebvre (seen on this season of Top Chef’s Restaurant Wars), will be opening his own pop up restaurant, Relate, in San Diego February 3 through 26.  Set menu will be $55 plus drinks (via the UT).
  • Speaking of food trends, San Diego Copper Chimney closed their food truck last month so that Chef Allen could move to a fixed kitchen location in Spice Court Grocery & Restaurant at 9474 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126.  Its slated opening day was February 1 – hopefully I will be able to make it this weekend for some of Copper Chimney’s awesome Hyderabadi dishes.
  • Eclipse Chocolates has released their Valentine’s Day Chocolate tasting menu.  If you must insist on eating at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, this one might actually be worthwhile. 

around the web

  • This week’s episode of Top Chef All Stars is up, for all my cable-deprived friends.
  • A big “Happy Birthday” to Kirk over at mmm-yoso.  His blog is an amazing source for all things delici-yoso in San Diego and beyond. 
  • The government releases the kind of dietary advice that you’d expect from, well, the government.
  • 2011 is heating up for recipe contests, including upcoming deadlines for POM Wonderful Valentine Cupcake Contest, King Arthur Flour and Fleischmann’s Yeast’s  National Festival of Breads contest, the Ritz Recipe Challenge, and the 45th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off.  Check out Contest Cook for a full listing of contests. 
  • Why not practice for those contests by signing up as a baker for Bake for Hope?  Held each year throughout the US in the week leading up to Mothers Day (May 1-8 2011), volunteers coordinate community bake sales to raise money for their local Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate to support breast cancer treatments for women with breast cancer within their local community.  Several San Diego groups are already beginning to form up for this year’s sale!
  • Does your cake look a bit…naked?  Perhaps you need to get a set of these edible Angry Bird cake toppers from artisan cake company‘s etsy site. (via My Food Looks Funny)

a few old favorites

A few old projects inspired by great recipes from some of my go-to blogs.

Salted Butter Caramels:  David Lebovitz, former pastry chef at Berkeley’s legendary Chez Panisse, now living in Paris, is a great source for sweet and savory recipes, as well as affable observations from an American living in France.   His recipes (and insights) tend to be spot-on, and I really enjoy his easy-going and humorous approach to quality cooking.  Check out his simple recipe for making wonderful salted butter caramels at http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/01/salted-butter-caramels/.  I used this recipe to make rosemary infused salted butter caramel lollipops to give as holiday gifts – just heat a bit of fresh rosemary in the heavy cream then strain before using it to make the caramels.   The hot caramel was poured into a silicone lollipop form and the resulting treats were wrapped in foil and gift bags (all available in the baking section of the craft store).   As with any recipe that emphasizes a few simple ingredients, this is worth using quality butter and salt for the best flavor and most bang for your time in the kitchen.

A few other favorite recipes from David’s blog are French vinaigrette (easy! delicious!) http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/11/how-to-make-french-vinaigrette/ and apricot jam, which I make in the summer when apricots are cheap and plentiful http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/08/apricot-jam/.   I like to throw in a handful of dried food-grade lavender as well as a few apricot kernels – it makes a delicious, herby, tart jam that can be combined with equal parts Dijon mustard for a great chicken or pork marinade, spooned over goat cheese and served with crackers, or spread as a jam layer on a layer cake to seal in the crumbs before you frost.  Or, you know, just spread on toast or eaten out of the jar with a spoon (but I say when in doubt, eat with cheese).

Salsa: Yes, I know you can buy fresh salsa at the store for $3.  Yes, I know it can be really, really, good.  But this.  This makes what is seriously the best salsa I’ve ever had.  Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, is a great site for easy, fun recipes that will not make you feel embarrassed for occasionally using a box cake or for ordering a side of butter to go with your pancakes (you know who you are).  She also has regular give-aways for excellent kitchen goods, so it’s worth checking out, even if you insist on buying your own salsa.  This recipe does make a lot of salsa, so it’s worth the time if you’re throwing a party or other event that will be full of salsa-loving guests.  Or make it for yourself and don’t tell anyone.  Good news – canned tomatoes are actually higher in lycopene then fresh tomatoes.  There, now you have permission to eat a quart of salsa.  You know, for health purposes.  I like to double the lime juice and garlic in this, and will often use Trader Joe’s pre-cut Onions, Garlic, and Shallots as a time saver (Onions, Garlic, and Shallots, you stink up my car on the drive home from the store but I love you). http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/01/restaurant-style-salsa/

Halloween: Martha Stewart always has such great Halloween recipes on her site.  Unfortunately, it seems like they’re often over complicated or look much better than they taste, which just doesn’t work for me.  This recipe for “Lady Fingers” on the other hand, is fast, looks creepy, and – best of all – is fun to make!  I tinted half the dough with green food coloring and used black food coloring (available at the craft store around Halloween) for the nails to make a batch of troll toes to go with my lady fingers.  Full disclosure – I did have a few guests that thought they were too creepy to eat.  However, I lack patience for the stick-in-the-mud sort, especially if they are the type to turn down cookies (because…COOKIES!).  Original recipe and article at http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/ladies-fingers-are-easy.

 

Lamb and Chickpea Tagine:  This is an easy and relatively frugal approach to making great Moroccan food at home.   Do not be intimidated if you think this sounds too complicated – YOU CAN MAKE THIS!  IT WILL BE DELICIOUS!  http://www.therecessioncookbook.net/2009/03/lamb-tagine.html.  We served this on a bed of spinach rather than couscous to lower the carb count, and the result was so good we ate it all before I could get a picture.  Guess I’ll just have to be faster on the draw (or click, as it were) next time…

 
 
 
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