Sunday, August 31, 2008

The best Sunday Breakfast you'll ever make!

Eibrot (pronounced eye-braht) is sort of like French Toast...but much, much better! It is one of the more delicious Swiss contributions to cuisine that I've been making for my family for about 2 years now. I found the recipe while flipping through cooking magazines in Border's one night. Believe it or not, I am not a big fan of French Toast. Maybe because it always seems too soggy or too dry, I don't know. Just never ticked my fancy, I s'pose! The picture for the Eibrot, however, looked so good, I knew I had to give it a try.

First you get a loaf of Challah Bread (a good, rich, eggy bread), and you cube it with a serrated bread knife as seen in the photos. Dust with cinnamon, and, if you like, nutmeg and allspice. Set aside.

Combine 6 eggs (got mine at the farmer's market this morning, yay!) with 1/2 cup of half&half, 1-1/2 cups milk, and 2 tsp vanilla (double strength if you have it). Whisk together and pour over the cubed Challah, tossing gently to coat each piece thoroughly, but not break it up into mush.
Heat a little oil and butter in a large skillet over med-high heat.

Cook the Eibrot in the heated skillet (you'll be doing this in sevveral batches) until golden brown all over, tossing gently with a spatula to evenly cook on all sides. Once browned, add 1-1/2 tbsp of butter and 1/4 cup of sugar, tossing to coat. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely melted and evenly coating the Eibrot. Remove to a serving plate, and repeat with remaning Eibrot.

Once it is finished, the Eibrot will have a luscious caramelized sugar coating that adds a lovely little toffee-like flavor and crunch. I serve with fresh berries (blackberries are particularly delicious!) and a dollop of whipped cream (no sugar), on the side. I promise you, this is the most decadent, wonderful way to begin a Sunday morning ever! Manga!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Time for some FUN!

Fun, as in "Noodles", that is! One of our favorite places to go for noodles is China Fun, which is located right off Carmel Mountain Road, just east of the I-15 on Rancho Carmel Drive. As you can see, they have a large neon sign out front, so it's easy to spot :)
They have an extensive menu, including many different types of noodle dishes: Chow Mein, Lo Mein, Chow Fun, Singapore Noodles, San Shein Noodles, and more. They also have such traditional fare as Kung Pao, Broccoli Beef, Szechuan Chicken or Beef, Mongolian Chicken or Beef, etc., plus an array of specials each week, some of which are even better than menu items! The kitchen is open, you can see them preparing everything, watch the flames shooting up around the woks. The guy in the photo is Tony, one of the chefs. He's been there for years, longer than we've been going and we started dining at China Fun about 12 years ago!
We of course have our favorite dishes. House Special Lo Mein, which features chicken, pork, and shrimp along with soba noodles and vegetables. Last night, on a whim, we asked that it be made with the rice vermicelli noodles, which are much was a big difference, and one we really liked. The thinner noodles made the additional meat & veggies more noticeable, I think.

We also really enjoy the House Special Fried Rice (which also has the afore mentioned mix of pork, chicken & shrimp, along with peas and carrots), and usually end up with a double order.
The soups that I've tried are all good with flavorful, yet light, broths. My favorite is #160, which is pork and Chinese cabbage with the rice vermicelli noodles.
Another dish we order frequently is the Orange Chicken. Lightly battered pieces of chicken served in a tangy orange sauce accompanied by rice...what's not to love? The bits of orange are delicious too. Plus, if you leave some sauce on your plate, it's really yummy for dipping your fortune cookies in at the end of the meal, or, if you're feeling decadent, an order of fried wontons make for a delicious dipping experience. :)

China fun serves several traditional sides (cucumber salad, seaweed salad, jellyfish salad), along with rice bowls, gyoza, egg rolls, etc. They have the usual suspects in the soft drink line up plus hot or iced tea and ball-ba tea (with the tapioca pearls in the bottom). We always get a pot of tea, plus iced water with lemon. (I think sweet drinks take away from the flavor of the food, especially the orange chicken and similar dishes.) They are open every day except Monday.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's all about the 'Q

Tonight we went out to Phil's (the new(er) location on Sports Arena). Now, the first time we ever dined at Phil's it was in their Hillcrest location, many years ago. It was the amazing, smoky aroma that brought it to our attention. We'd been running errands, and skipped lunch, so we went in hungry....and left satisfied.
The Hillcrest location has been closed for some time now so they could concentrate on the Sports Arena location, which is much larger, but lacks some of the soul of the original. Now, I don't want to make you think the new location isn't worth checking out, because it is...but it's definitely more commercial than the Hillcrest rib joint that we first happened upon all those years ago.
Phil's makes both flavors of ribs: pork and beef. The pork ribs are a favorite around our house..tender and flavorful. The beef ribs are immense, and have a nice smoky char, but they're too much for us! Phil's has an award winning sauce, which a lot of people love and come back for time and again...but I always say to really test the mettle of any rib joint, you need to taste the meat "dry"...therein lies the rub. Rub, get it? ha ha. I've tasted them just this way at Phil's, and they stood up to my finicky palate and passed with flying colors.

If you're not in the mood for ribs, you certainly have other choices. There is mesquite chicken, for one. There are the ribless and chickless dinners, which are basically like getting a rib or chicken dinner without the troublesome bones involved in the process. Chunks of pork or white meat chicken with Phil's famous sauce, served with a choice of sides. And there's also the BBQ Broham...a tangy pulled pork sandwich, served with the traditional cole slaw, on a soft, tasty bun. Personally, I order the slaw on the side...but I do see plenty of people eating it as is. Me, I like to top it with the baked beans! Yummy! They also have burgers (beef or turkey), and a tri-tip sandwich, which I've never tried, but have been told is delicious. There's even a veggie burger for any vegetarians that happen to come along with you!

Sides are what you'd expect: corn, baked beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, steamed veggies, baked potato, fries & rings. The onion rings are nothing short of phemonenal! Battered and fried to crisp perfection, they are both hearty and light and make the perfect accompaniment to all that tangy sauce. And they're not kidding when they call 'em colossal!

The new Phil's has plasma tv's and a fast hectic pace. They used to let you phone in orders to dine in, but have since stopped doing so. The lines can get long! Be prepared to spend some time, especially if you head over on a weekend night! Of course, you *could* phone in an order to go, and then "change your mind"! But I'm not advocating that, of course. :-)

Only time will tell if the original location will re-open, but in the meantime, head over to:
3750 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, 92110.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for:

As promised, here are a couple of my favorite recipes involving espresso. The first, of course, is Tira Mi Su. This wonderful name translates to "Pick Me Up", which I find wholly appropriate!

Without further ado, I give you, Tiramisu:
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 pint heavy cream
3 egg yolks
5 Tbsp sugar, divided
2 cups (approx) fresh, cooled espresso
3 Tbsp Kahlua (optional..can also use other liqueur or a couple teaspoons
about 32 Savoiardi (Italian ladyfingers...these are crisp, not soft)

First thing you'll do is put the egg yolks in the top of a double boiler and
whisk until they are lemon colored and thickened over simmering water. Add 2
Tbsp of sugar midway through, superfine is best. Remove from heat. You can
now add a little Kahlua if you like, or other flavoring. Cool.
Whip mascarpone until smooth and soft, then add in the custard. In a
separate bowl, whip cream to soft peaks with 2 Tbsp sugar. Fold into
mascarpone mixture.
Combine the espresso with 1 Tbsp Kahlua (if desired) and 1 tbsp superfine
sugar. Pour espresso into a flat bottomed dish (I use a small Pyrex dish for
this, but the Tupperware sandwich containers work in a pinch, just do part
of it at a time). Have your serving dish ready. My favorite is my 7x11 glass
baking dish. (I like to use glass as I think it makes a more dramatic
presentation when you can see the layers through the sides). Working from
one side to the other, dip the ladyfingers into the espresso for a few
seconds on each side and lay into the bottom of the dish. Work until you
have covered the entire bottom, and if you have any gaps, you can cut some
of the ladyfingers in half lengthwise to fill them. Don't oversoak or you
will have a puddle of espresso in the bottom after it sits. Cover with a
layer of the mascarpone cream, then repeat until your reach the top, ending
with the cream. Top with either sifted quality cocoa powder (I like to use
the Valrhona cocoa for this) or finely grated bittersweet chocolate. Cover
and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then remove from the fridge at least
15 minutes prior to serving. If it is too cold, you won't get the full
flavor and effect of the creaminess vs. the ladyfingers.

The next recipe is for Espresso Gelato. This is one of my absolute favorites! Gelato is much better than ice cream, I think. Because it's made with milk, rather than heavy cream, it's much more flavorful. For best results, remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.
2 cups of milk
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup espresso (preferably ristretto)

Heat the milk to scalding. Whisk together yolks and sugar until light &
lightly thickened. Temper the egg mixture by adding roughly 1/3 of the hot
milk, stirring constantly. Then add the eggs to the remaining milk, whisking
constantly. Cook over med-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon **(see
note). Remove from heat and cool to room temp before chilling. Chill
thoroughly before freezing.
For an added touch, though I don't recommend it for the kiddies
(smile)...melt 4 oz good quality semi sweet chocolate and stir in 1 tbsp
ground espresso beans. During freezing, drizzle the chocolate into the ice
cream. It will make chocolate flakes, rather than chips, and it's soooo yummy!

The last recipe I'll add right now is for Espresso Mousse. It's a delicious change from chocolate mousse, and if you love coffee as much as I do, I know you'll love it!
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup coffee beans, lightly crushed
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup freshly brewed espresso, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
3 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Heat the milk with the coffee beans over low heat until small bubbles show up around the edges. Strain the coffee beans out.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick. Beat in the hot milk. Return to the pan and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil.
Dissolve the gelatin powder in 1/4 cup of the espresso. Heat the rest of the espresso and whisk into the pan. Stir in the reserved gelatin/espresso mixture and pour into a bowl. Cool until room temperature.
Whip cream until thick, but not stiff. Whisk mascarpone to soften.
Fold the mascarpone and whipped cream together and then carefully fold in the espresso mixture. Pour into serving bowl and refrigerate until set. Garnish with coffee beans, shaved chocolate and additional whipped cream if desired.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming :-)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to me, part deux

These gorgeous people are (from left) my daughter, Alexis; her BFF, Lisa; my neice, Shelby; and in front there is my hilarious nephew, Owen. These are the little chefs that made the cake you see in the next photo for my birthday.

Alexis & Lisa baked the cake from scratch, using Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate cake recipe, one of my favorites. It's a very reliable, very moist, very decadent cake! The frosting is a cream cheese frosting, some left vanilla and tinted, and some made chocolate. Both delicious!

They also did the decorating :)

I had a wonderful birthday! My husband took me to lunch while the girls made the cake and decorated the house, including a huge banner on the front door for when we returned. Blue and silver balloons and stars and streamers made the living and dining rooms a party zone fit for a Queen. I was truly impressed, and filled with love for my amazing girls (and boy).

For dinner we went to a favorite local place called Lefty's, which specializes in Chicago-Italian cuisine. I'm talking Chicago style pizza and dogs, as well as Italian beef and some of the best pasta this side of the Mississippi. My favorite is the Al Capone, which has artichoke hearts, bacon and basil tossed with linguini in a tomato cream sauce. So good!

We hadn't ever tried the pizza before last night, so we picked on each of the thin crust and the deep dish styles. (We were rather hungry, and so decided not to wait the 60+min for a stuffed pizza). Both the pizzas were good and for different reasons. For the thin crust, we chose the Gold Coast, which had chicken, artichokes, garlic, and basil. The sauce on this one was very intense, hearty sauce with lots of herbs. Quite tasty!

On the other hand, the deep dish Monster of the Midway, which had Italian sausage, pepperoni, and hot giardiniera also had a light, crushed tomato style sauce that was completely different from the sauce on the thin crust, but equally delicious. What made this pizza for me (and Alexis) was the cheese. Aged mozzerella, lots of it. Ooey Gooey wonderful messy yumminess!

Lefty's is located at 3448 30th street in North Park. You can get there easily by taking the 805 to El Cajon or University and heading west to 30th. I recommend getting there early for either deep dish or stuffed pizzas. Manga!

Happy Birthday To Me, from my Mom!

The beautiful woman above is my Mom. She's amazing. You'll probably see me talk about her a lot on this blog. On Wednesday, the day before my birthday, I went to her house and she made the most delicious meal! Swiss steak, a childhood favorite, plus mashed Yukon golds, green beans from the farmer's market, a veggie melange from TJ's (Trader Joe's) and a Dutch Apple Berry pie for dessert! Well, maybe we should call it a tart.. lol! It was made in a sheet pan.

In our family, there are 2 versions of Swiss Steak. One that you see in the pic above, and one that involves tomato and onion and such...which is also delicious, but not as good as this one, in my opinion. This one involves pounding the steak in seasoned flour, sauteing until deep golden brown, then simmering until tender. It makes it's own gravy, and is a simple, but wonderfully flavorful dish. The mashed spuds are a perfect accompaniment, along with the vegetables.

The pie. Wow. That took some work! Peeling and slicing nearly 3 dozen apples was the hard part. My hands were cramping around the peeler! lol Mom made a triple recipe of her amazing pie crust (I'll post the recipe during the holiday season), which was rolled out and put into the sheet pan. Along with the apples, there was cinnamon, nutmeg, tapioca (for thickening), raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries. Such a combo! When it was done, we served it while it was still warm from the oven, with some vanilla bean ice cream. You can see in the pics how beautiful the color was, and it was so very tasty! I am eating the last of it as I type this in fact!

Thanks, Mom!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Would you like some caffeine with that?

Hi, my name is Kimberly, and I'm an espressoholic.

I started drinking coffee when I was about 10. I would volunteer to get a cup for my mom or dad, and steal sips here and there. By the time I was in high school, I was drinking it every day. I love coffee. I love everything about it. The color, the smell, the taste...all of it. Good coffee is a true pleasure for the senses.

While in Alaska, way back in 1993, I started drinking espresso more. There was a very cool little coffee shop in Anchorage that was one of those places where you feel good just being there...and Mike, the guy who was usually behind the counter when we went in, introduced me to a quad-shot mocha. I was hooked. I mean, come AND chocolate? What's not to love?? Eventually, like all addicts, I needed more. I began to experiment. Vanilla, hazelnut, almond, macadamia, coconut, white chocolate..I tried them all. And loved them, every one. Well, ok, I didn't really love the hazelnut.

I began to seek out coffee/espresso shops wherever I was. I am telling you, any city I spent a fair amount of time in, I knew all the best places to get a good cuppa. I drank it hot, I drank it cold...heck, I even took it frozen. I couldn't get enough. I am sad to say, I've never gotten help for my addiction. I've toned it down, and I figure, hey, I can quit whenever I want to. Right?

Iced Espresso:
5 shots ristretto espresso (1-1/2 ounces each)
1 ounce syrup (any flavor, my current favorite is cinnamon by Monin)
1/2 to 1 ounce half & half

Fill a martini shaker with ice. Pour in syrup, then espresso shots. Shake vigorously (which will give you that lovely foam you see in the picture). Pour into glass (preferably chilled) and top with half & half.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sometimes People Suck.

It's been hot lately. Not just and sticky. Emphasis on the sticky. Emphasis on the ICK. As usually happens when the weather is miserable, I've noticed an increase in the levels of hostility, stupidity, and rudeness. For example, my daughter and her friend were bike riding today. Now, we live in a residential area, off the main drag, and there's not a terribly great amount of they were riding in the street. When they heard the car approaching, they both swerved to the right to get out of the way. Well out of the way, in fact. But the jerk in the Honda swerved with them, trying to frighten them. Three times this was repeated, until they reached a driveway and went up onto the sidewalk. The passengers were laughing, and flipping off the girls. Mind you, these are young teen girls and the people in the car were college students. When the girls went up on the sidewalk, the honda went on, pulling into a driveway down the block. The girls came and told us what happened, and my husband went to the honda's house to talk to the driver. His excuse? It was an "accident". After my husband told him, quite politely, that he would have his own accident if it happens again, his attitude greatly improved and he managed to sputter an apology to my shaken daughter and her friend.

Sometimes, people just suck.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Calgon, Take Me Away!

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and I've neglected this blog, I know. Not that many people would know, since it's still an internet unknown!

My favorite place to go for breakfast is something of a legend. Most people who come to San Diego expect to make a stop there at least one morning of their trip. Of course, I'm referring to Kono's. There are people lined up already when they first open in the mornings, and for good reason.

The people are wonderful. Everyone is friendly, and the service is fast. Be prepared to find a table quickly after ordering, because your food is started almost before you've finished telling them what you want! I don't think we've ever had to wait more than 15 minutes for our food.

The breakfast burritos are a popular item, but my boys prefer the Big Breakfasts. Both come with Kono's potatoes, bacon, and eggs. One comes with pancakes and Two comes with french toast. They like #2, shown in the photo above. The Kono's potatoes, which you'll see on nearly every plate, are fried with cheese, onions and peppers, the way breakfast potatoes ought to be!
The eggs, you can order as you like, but we like scrambled, and they add cheese to them as they cook, which is even better.

The other breakfast pictured is the Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs, or PB&E as I call it. This is my standard order. I always stand in line fully intending to order something new...and as soon as it's my turn to speak, I order the PB&E. I can't help myself. It's a perfect breakfast. Protein with a bit of carbs added for good balance :)

My youngest is a fan of muffins, and they have some tasty choices to be certain, but our current fave is the streusel topped beauty you see before you. Now, they used to have some killer banana bread, but alas, it is no more. Still, a hot muffin with a bit of butter is a darn fine substitute.

Kono's also has a coffee stand right next door (seen in the photos at the top of this post). They make a good cuppa, and they're right there, so why not? Besides, that ocean breeze can be chilly first thing in the a.m. and you might want a little warmth, you know? My favorite is the Baja Mocha, made with espresso, steamed milk, and Mexican chocolate that contains vanilla and cinnamon. Can't beat that. Being a fan of all things cinnamon, this is no surprise, right?

Oh! I almost forgot the view! Kono's is located right next to the Crystal Pier, and the seating overlooks the ocean. You can relax, listening to the rhythmic slapping of the waves while watching the surfers there for your personal entertainment. Well, ok, they're not there for you, personally, but it sure seems like it!

Ok, that's it for's 3 am and I'm going to bed. Good night :)