San Fran Adventure

This weekend I traveled up to San Francisco with my fellow to check out the sights. I feel like there always has to be something when traveling that becomes noteworthy enough to share with everyone. For me this was the fact that our initial departure time from LAX of 6:40pm was actually ended up being about 11pm. I guess there was a storm, then some sort of fly block, and finally we took off.

Upon arriving the original prospects of dinner had diminished. Especially given it was about 1am when we checked into the hotel We stayed at the Omni, it’s a great hotel and walking distance to lots of the sites. The next morning proved hopeful however. A friend had recommended that we mosey over to Dotties True Blue Cafe for breakfast. This place was super charming.

The wait was probably about 20-30 minutes and was complete with some interesting characters that were shouting about some randomness. I found this to be quite humorous, not sure I was in good company though. Upon entering I started coveting their beautiful marble/dark wood counter-top. I’ve always loved that style. Additionally it featured exposed brick walls that were adorned with glamour portraits of celebs that began as strippers. Gotta love it.

Following an over indulging breakfast with some really tasty pancakes (Dottie’s Famous Pancakes, she adds ginger, it’s amazing.) We decided to walk it off across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d been to San Fran several times over the last couple of years but I had yet to make it over to the bridge which was quite exciting.

Later that eve we decided Chinese was on the menu for dinner. I’d been looking forward to this since we booked the tickets for the trip. I love Chinese, preferably as left-overs out of those lovely paper boxes. Somehow it’s just tastes better that way. I have yet to find a place in LA that still gives these endangered boxes it would seem. We went to a place in Chinatown called Z & Y.

After dinner I’d did a bit of research before we left and found this dessert bar called Candybar that I wanted to try. When we got there, there was a bit of a line (lines in SF = LA traffic) and it looked like we weren’t going to get in. Fortunately our determination and the announcement from the host saying that he didn’t think anyone was going to get in meant that we outlasted most of the people waiting, and when two seats opened up we were on it. Note to self: get to places earlier.

It was a bit too dark for photos, and I was too excited for my dessert to wait anyway. I got their Apple Pie which was an amazing almond crust with a cream cheese filling, topped with some gingerbread ice cream. It was a party for my taste buds. I’d gladly come back here any/every day of the week! They also serve fun cocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages.

The next morning we were all excited to go to another place that my friend suggested we try, called Mamas, but that was quickly ruled out when we saw a line that would’ve easily taken an hour to get through, and at the point they would’ve been closed. Next trip! We ended up wandering back of the street to a cute pastry shop called Stella’s.

I had a yummy eclair for breakfast. Although it was a bit of a hard choice due to the nice selection of treats. I was craving the eclair otherwise I think I would’ve gone the Cannoli route due to it being located in Little Italy.

For our last day we grabbed some breakfast at a placed called Honey Honey Crepes. I had my standard Banana Nutella, served with a scoop of ice cream. While the ice cream didn’t really leave me wanting more, you can’t go wrong with nutella!

We closed out our trip at San Fran Botanical Gardens. I always take some warming up time when I visit gardens, but they always surprise me.

It did start me thinking about which flowers that you can cook with besides roses. I found this list of ones that you can. Although I didn’t get to the kitchen this weekend I think I might try and get some floral inspiration for my next recipe. Maybe Marigolds?

[ I apologize for the quality of the photos, camera phones aren’t always known for their stellar quality. ]

Enjoy!

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Cinnamon Apple Streusel Pancakes

This Sunday was spent how they should, sleeping in and a lazy brunch. I was feeling a bit adventurous plus I had some apples I felt like using and thus my tasty brunch was born. I wasn’t sure how they were going to come out as I was just throwing things together, but it was amazing. Especially when you would get a bite of the streusel, yum! I also want to take a minute to say that I really want to encourage you to ween yourself off pancake mixes, if you still use them. Fresh homemade pancakes are just all around better. If you’re worried about not having time, you can make your own in advance, seal them in a freezer bag and use a toaster to heat them or an over set at 200 degrees F.


Cinnamon Apple Streusel Pancakes

[Adapted from: Sweet Girl Confections]
This recipe yields about 20 4-inch pancakes.

Pancakes:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 apple (shredded — squeeze the juice out and put some lemon on to keep it from browning)
2 large eggs
2 cups of buttermilk
2 tbsp butter (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Streusel:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp cold butter (cubed)

1. Make the streusel first so that it chills while you’re making the pancake batter. Combine the  flour, brown sugar, tsp cinnamon, and tbsp butter in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a whisk to combine the ingredients until they’re mixed and crumbly. If you’re using a whisk make more of a stabbing motion versus stirring. Put int eh fridge so the butter stays cold.

2. Combine the dry ingredients for the pancakes (flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon), whisk together. Add in the the shredded apple to coat so that it doesn’t sink in the batter.

3. Combine the wet ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, butter, vanilla) together and then pour into the dry ingredients. Mix until combined and theirs now while streaks.

4. Heat a non-stick skillet and crumble a bit of the streusel onto the pan, pour 1/4 cup of batter over the top of the streusel bits, add a few more crumbles to the top. Flip.

5. Drizzle with some maple syrup.

Variations: If you’re looking for a super apple flavor use 2 apples. Also feel free to add another 1 tsp of cinnamon to bring out that flavor.

Enjoy.

Book Spotlight: The Sweet Life in Paris

What a crazy week, I feel like I’m not the only one in that boat. Of a similar vein I find it hard these days to fit in much leisure reading, it usually translates to a very hopeful list and an overflowing bookcase. (I have a love hate relationship with Barnes and Noble for this reason.)

I just recently finished reading a book by David Lebovitz called The Sweet Life in Paris. The book allowed for a much enjoyed reconnection with my inner francophile. I’ve always loved Paris. The beautiful culture and tasty food win me over every time. This book was a culmination of two of my loves.

The book is a perfect marriage of his adventures of the American experience in Paris and delicious recipes. He takes you on a journey of him finding his footing for a new life in Paris and all the while getting the juicy bits about French culture and colloquialisms then closes out with a recipe. What more could you ask for?

It was a great read and I highly recommend it. You can pick it up from Amazon here. In the spirt of that, who would I be if I didn’t try one of those oh-so-tempting recipes. I decided to go with every girls favorite, the chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake (From David Lebovitz)

9 ounces (250g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (120 g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature, seperated
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt

I find it’s always best to gather everything before hand, not just for photo purposes.
It helps to know if you’re missing something before hand.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C ). Butter a 9-inch (23cm) loaf pan and line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat the chocolate and butter together until melted and smooth.

3. Remove from heat and stir in half the sugar, then the egg yolks, and flour.

4. Using an electric mixer or a whisk, begin whipping the egg whites with salt. Keep whipping until they start to work soft peak. Gradually whip in the remaining sugar until the whites are at hard peak.

5. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until the mixture is smooth and no visible white streaks remain.

6. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top and bake for 35 minutes, just until the cake feel slightly firm in the center. Do no overbake.

7. Let the cake cool in the pan before serving.

Storage: The cake can be store for up to three days, or you can freeze it for up to one month. Make sure if freezing to wrap well.

My notes/advice: Use a mixer, not a whisk. I attempted this one just to see if I could and my arm nearly fell off. Thank technology and life will be easier. Separate eggs with your fingers, not the shells, it could decrease potential for any extra “goodies” that can come from exposure to the shell. Also make sure the chop your butter into small pieces when adding it to the chocolate, it will help it melt quicker. When testing to see if it’s done baking simply press on the top with your fingers, and try to avoid opening it early, doing so can cause the cake to fall. This cake comes out a bit looking like a brownie, at least to me, so I make some chocolate butter cream frosting to dress it up. For this you simply take some butter and whip it with a mixer and then sift in powdered sugar until you get your desired sweetness and texture. You can thin the frosting with cream. I also sifted in cocoa powered with the sugar to flavor it. (I used about 1 stick 8oz to 3 1/2 cups of sugar.) 

Enjoy!