Adam's Mini Apple Pies

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , , , , , | Posted on 8/22/2009



In celebration of my new roommate's (Adam's) birthday, I decided to make apple pie. How appropriate, right? Making mini apple pies may seem like an easy task, almost like how Jenna (Keri Russell) in Waitress would conjure a pie in a few minutes based on her prevalent mood. However, Adam and I made a simple recipe into a Herculean task. Instead of venturing to the local market to buy a three pound bag of apples, we decided to explore our backyard. Our backyard is fairly large; we have a 45 degree, never-ending hill with desert-like vegetation. Halfway up this hill, among cacti and bushes is a granny smith apple tree. Feeling adventurous, I was the first one to hike up there in my Kenneth Cole sandals (terribly smart -- I know). Many of the apples crawling with ants, resulting a shrieking Anisha who was picking them one by one. I tossed apple after apple in Adam's direction below and soon enough we had a full basket.


The apples turned out to be perfectly tart. Now, here is my very own apple pie recipe, crust and all!

Adam's Mini Apple Pies
Number of servings: 4 ramekins or one 9 inch pie!

Graham cracker pie crust

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of graham crackers, finely crushed
1 stick of butter, melted
1 tbsp confectioner's sugar

1 tbsp light/dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preparation:
Mix the dry ingredients: crushed graham crackers, sugars, salt, and ground cinnamon. Once evenly mixed, stir into the melted butter. Press 1/5
of this mixture onto the bottom and sides of each of the four ramekins. Bake for about five minutes at 350 degrees. Let each crust cool before adding any pie filling. The remaining 1/5 of the pie crust crumbs should be used as the final topping to the pie.

Pie Filling

Ingredients:
3 lbs of granny smith apples, diced, peeled (if desired -- I like the peel!)
1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preparation:
Toss ingredients into a large-sized bowl. Mix well and then spoon filling into each ramekin.

Pie Topping

Ingredients:
1 cup of diced apples
2 tbsp lemon curd or applesauce (love the lemon curd!)
4 tbsp low fat-yogurt
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flour

Preparation:
Blend these ingredients in a food processor or blender. Results in a creamy, off-white thick sauce. Add about four tablespoons of this mixture onto each pie-filled ramekin. Top each ramekin with the remaining 1/5 mixture of pie crust crumbs.

Finally, bake at about 350 degrees for 45 minutes until the filling in bubbling. Cool for about half an hour before devouring!

Each spoon of the apple pie made our muddy hike
up the hill validated. I would recommend purchasing a tub of vanilla bean or almond praline ice cream to accompany this pie. It's very crusty -- just the way my roommates and I like it!

(saved a bite for the cell phone camera -- please excuse the blurriness!)

If you're not in the mood to try this recipe in your kitchen
(or if you can't bake to save your life), venture to Porto's Bakery in Glendale for their amazing apple strudel!

Porto's Bakery
315 N. Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91203
818.956.5996
www.portosbakery.com

Best luck baking,
Anisha

Lemonade on Beverly: mmm...refreshing!

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on 8/15/2009


A trendy cafeteria for grown-ups, Lemonade li
es majestically on a raised platform on Beverly Boulevard. Tucked away from the bustling street, behind large bushes of what I think were yellow daisies (I'm a foodie, not a botanist), a cafeteria caters to the adult and not-so-adult tastes. Lemonade's stream-lined concept and eats are appealing to both the eyes and the taste buds.


(picture from http://www.lemonadela.com)
Aside from the thrill of trying new places to eat, I love to surprise my mom. One could argue, I spoil her more than parents can spoil an only child. Venturing out to West Hollywood was one such surprise that I had in store. I simply told her we're going to Lemonade to eat and to Robertson Blvd to window shop! When she asked whether there was food at Lemonade, I merely grinned.

My mom was floored at all of the perfect lunchtime options available. Lemonade trumped the serve-yourself food bars at the Whole Foods Market. Amused by her indecisiveness, our helpful server informed us that we could split a "side" into tw
o portions allowing us to sample more dishes. All I could say was, "How's this for a cafeteria, mom?" We finally settled on two split sides, four different "marketplace" salads from their menu. We choose:

1) Israeli couscous (truffle vinaigrette -- yum!),
2)
quinoa, butternut squash and whole orange vinaigrette,
3) cherry tomat
oes and pine nuts in avocado, and
4)
(hands down, my favorite) sweet potatoes with pistachios.

Each colorful "marketplace" side made my mouth water. Next time, I hope to try their hot/cold sandwiches, "protein," and hot portions! I love that their menu is ever-changing and dependent on the ingredients that are in season.

What kind of store would Lemonade be if they did not serve lemonade, right? Lemonade not only serves original, but also the following flavors: blueberry-mint, boysenberry, cucumber-mint, peach-ginger, strawberry, and watermelon-rosemary. My mom and I decided to sample two or three of their lemonades before making a final decision, but after trying the first sample of cucumber mint, we were sold! I'm not sure if their namesake rivaled Le Pain Quotidien's lemonade, but who can argue with Lemonade's range of flavors they offer in both regular and sugar-free? I think a side-by-side tasting is definitely necessary on a warm day in LA.

Their mini-cupcakes looked delectable and quite affordable for the college food junkie. I purchased three cupcakes for $1 each: red velvet, chocolate, and carrot cupcake. The cupcakes were the perfect "quick-fix;" when you want to eat something sweet after a meal, it has just the right amount of frosting:cupcake ratio (1:2). I think it'd be really cute and affordable to bring two dozen or so cupcakes for a birthday shindig!


I really wanted to try the lemon macaroon, but the chocoholic in me (and my mother) couldn't resist the chocolate one. Quite frankly, macaroons (to me) are going to be the new cupcakes. I love that this macaroon had a very flaky, moist exterior. I was lucky enough to have my first non-coconut French macaroon in Paris in the shopping center underneath the Louvre. The name of the chocolatier escapes me, but I was thrilled they handled the chocolate as if it were a piece of gold. I'd definitely recommend the chocolate macaroon, as it was triple the size of the typical, petite French macaroon.
Check out my review of the chocolate macaroon on Sugar Bomber:
http://sugarbomber.com/type/unique/chocolate-macaroon/

I cannot wait to move closer to the downtown LA area to begin my career in accounting & finance, just because of lunch breaks at Lemonade. They're just perfect for take-out!

In the words of Paul Rudd in
Forgetting Sarah Marshall, "When life gives you lemons, say, 'F**k it!' and bail." Instead, hit up Lemonade! Props to Chef Alan & Heidi Jackson of Jackson Catering for their fabulous concept, food, and of course, lemonade!

Lemonade:

9001 Beverly Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90048

310.247.2500
515 South Flower Street
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90071

213.488.0299


Website:
http://www.lemonadela.com/
Follow Lemonade on Twitter: @lemonadela 


Lemonade on Beverly in Los Angeles on Fooddigger


Lemonade on Urbanspoon

It's Not Chocolate? And She Ate It? My Very Own Panna Cotta...

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Posted by Anisha | Posted in , , , , , , | Posted on 8/09/2009


"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic."


I know that at least once in your life, someone close to you has suggested to mix up your routine. Maybe they told you to "try something new" or "expand your horizons." If you lived in my home, you would soon find out it's my mom's mantra. Whenever it comes down to choosing a restaurant for a birthday, anniversary, etc. she insists on traveling a few extra miles or going to an appetizing "hole in the wall." Sometimes we applaud ourselves for discovering a trendy, new joint; however, there are times where we return home without the "doggie bag" because the food did not deserve a place on our already over-crowded refrigerator. Whenever and wherever we dine out, we can't order the same entree (the only exception is the Sonoma goat cheese salad at Louise's Trattoria -- it's godly). Unfortunately, the same principle does not apply in the frequent occasions that I decide to bake. I tend to stick with the classics: chocolate chip cookies, dark chocolate chip brownies, jam thumbprint cookies. This time, two events steered me into the direction of something that can't (and shouldn't) be described using the words "chewy" or "crunchy:" panna cotta.

To start off, I wasn't familiar with panna cotta and I won't pretend to be. Panna cotta sounded like ricotta cheese and "panna" reminded me of the "espresso con pannas" (espresso with whipped cream) that a quite gorgeous customer ordered where I once worked as a barista at Starbucks. After much needed research, I discovered panna cotta quite literally means a "cooked cream." The consistency ought to be "wobbly" and resemble the French flan. I was both curious and hesitant to see if I could conjure up anything that wasn't a dough at one point and did not need to be baked.

As I mentioned before, two events formed my resolution to make panna cotta with a fruit sauce:

The first event was a weekly grocery trip to Trader Joe's. My boyfriend and I were in the freezer section perusing the desserts. Being the chocoholic that I am, I had to have some sort of decadent, chocolate dessert; the one significant splurge of the week. Should I get the molten lava cake that my boyfriend and I nibbled on at our first drive-in movie? [correction: he nibbled, I scarfed down] Or how about the chocolately birthday confetti cake that I bought for an impromptu birthday visit? While I was pondering, I glanced over to see what Sid was looking at: a seemingly delicious looking, milky treat covered with fresh berries. It looked great, but the concept of a frozen semblance of a pudding deterred me. I told him that I would create a better panna cotta in my own kitchen, fruit sauce and all!

The second event was a trip to Cost Plus World Market. If you haven't been to one before, you ought to make a trip out of it. There's something for just about everyone, ranging from embroidered pillows to imported Asian crackers. My boyfriend loves their beer and wine selection, as well as their variety of foods and sparkling sodas from all over the world. This particular time I was searching for some silicone bakeware, because teflon-coated pans release harmful toxins that stay in your system. Le Creuset was on my list as the premier silicone bakeware provider; other silicone trays mix in harmful fillers -- deceptive, no? In the baking section, I did not find Le Creuset. Dissapointed, I browsed the shelves for cute cookie cutters to add to my collection. Instead, pearly white ramekins caught my eye. Ramekins of all shapes and sizes were listed in the red clearance section for only $1 a pop! I instantly bought four knowing that panna cotta would be the first dish to grace those dishes!

Finally, after an exhausting day of errands, I mustered up the energy to work on the panna cotta. I pleaded with the Kitchen God for success, in hopes that it would be my inaugural blog post. Later, I realized that many bloggers don't highlight their failures in the kitchen. There aren't pictures of the jam that spilled over onto the pristine white counter top. With that said, let's be honest about cooking. I pledge to you: if I burn a batch of cookies because I forgot to set the timer, I will blog about it. I plan to highlight both my failures and my successes, even though I'm sure you'll appreciate the latter more!

The following is the recipe I used to make my very successful (triple taste-tested and Sid-approved) panna cotta with strawberry, nectarine, cranberry sauce. Three different recipes by the following chefs were combined: Silvano Marchetto, Mario Batali, and Giada de Laurentiis.

Panna Cotta Recipe
Number of servings: 4 ramekins

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons cold milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup low fat yogurt
1 envelope gelatin
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:
1. In a medium-sized bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly onto the cold milk.
2. At low-medium heat, warm up the heavy cream, low fat yogurt, and sugar. Keep stirring for about 5-7 minutes until both the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has reached an even, milky consistency. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
3. Pour mixture into the four, one cup ramekins. Cover ramekins and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Fruit Sauce

Ingredients:
1/2 pint strawberries
1 nectarine, finely sliced
2 oz. dried or fresh cranberries
2 oz. sugar or 1 oz. honey
1 oz. rose syrup

Preparation:
1. Dice half of the strawberries and nectarine into a saucepan. Add cranberries, sugar, honey, and rose syrup and stir on low heat. Continue stirring and wait for the mixture to boil. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar/honey if necessary.
2. Transfer mixture onto a cool dish and refrigerate. Upon serving, add remaining strawberries to the sauce.

Choose any of your favorite fruits for this fruit sauce recipe! I still need to make a few tweaks to it as well. My mom recommended adding a tad bit of gelatin to help the "runny-ness" factor.

The final product:

I hope you enjoyed my very first post & recipe @foodismynish!
Anisha
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