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Showing posts from December, 2018

Tucson: Luke's To The Rescue

My flight to Tucson wasn't able to serve food. I landed hungry and ready for a quick bite. Luke's Italian Beef was on my way but I wasn't sure that I was ready to get out of the car for a snack. But behold! They have a drive-thru window! Two minutes later, a beautiful Italian meatball sandwich with cheese and sweet peppers sat in my hands. I took it back to my room and enjoyed every bite.

Dunwoody: The Mad Italian's New Home

The Mad Italian has been a local favorite for decades. The restaurant has moved into its new home, just a few doors down from its original location on the I-285 access road. The new space is bigger and very comfortable. The menu is identical and the staff is as cheery as ever. I forgot to take a picture of my calzone before I started. Let's just say that I enjoyed it at least as much as ever.

Cake Mix

Mom had a couple of boxes of cake mix and a can of icing so I decided to give them a try. Cake mixes are one of the few points on which I disagree with Mom: she likes them, I don't think they are worth the trouble. I substituted a stick of butter for the oil. I also used the three eggs called for on the box. Into the pans... ...and out of the oven. The icing made a two-layer cake after the cakes had cooled. The cake's crumb was extremely soft and fluffy, probably due to all that butter. The icing wasn't bad. The result, I must say, was quite enjoyable.

Des Moines: Aroy-Dee Restaurant

Aroy-Dee is on the southeast side of Des Moines. It is a pleasant neighborhood place that was a welcome sight as we looked for lunch. They serve a mixture of Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese food. The service was a little confused but the owner kept things going and was very nice. I went with beef and brisket pho---both tasty and nourishing. Mom enjoyed her noodles.

Des Moines: The Bake Shoppe

An errand gave us the chance to try The Bake Shoppe on University Avenue. Quite the selection... After some deliberation, I decided on the maple Danish. Mom and I really enjoyed it. The maple flavor really came through in the icing and the crumb was nicely crumbly, just as a Danish should be.

A Chicken Dinner for Mom

Mom wanted a chicken dinner for Christmas so that is what we cooked. I spatchcocked a chicken and laid it on a bed of carrots and celery to roast. About a half hour before the chicken was done, I made two pans: home fries and roasted brussel sprouts. The result was a very enjoyable and healthy meal. After saving the leftover meat, the bones went into a pot with carrots, celery, and onion to make chicken stock. The stock went toward a pot of another of Mom's favorites, potato soup.

Des Moines: Lunch at Flix Brewhouse

A Christmas movie gave us a chance to try lunch at Flix Brewhouse. Mom ordered the fish and chips which she really enjoyed. I ordered the Margherita pizza. The crust didn't quite make the crispy/chewy texture one gets from a pizza oven but it was tasty.

An Apple Pancake for Mom

Mom always loved the apple pancake at Village Inn Pancake House. (Don't rush there, they don't offer it any more.) I knew that Mom would really enjoy one for breakfast so I looked up this recipe from Epicurious. I started by peeling and slicing apples,then loading them into a cast iron pan with some butter and putting everything into the oven for a few minutes. While the apples cooked I mixed together the eggy batter. The batter went on top of the apples and everything went back into the oven. As the pancake cooked, I made some whipped cream. The result was delicious. The apples were very soft, very much the center of the pancake. The edges gave a bit of crunch.

Holiday Travel

Christmas Eve is a subdued travel day. The big crowds have moved through. The airport staff is tired but relaxed and very gracious. The Delta lounge was almost empty, making it that much easier to appreciate the smiles of the staff.

Mom's Chocolate Cookie Log

Catherine gave me a box of Girl Scout chocolate mint cookies, which started my mind going, usually a bad sign. The cookies reminded me of Mom's chocolate cookie log: black cookies from the store formed togthter into a log using whipped cream. WOuldn't some mint make this even better? Unfortunately, I couldn't use the Girl Scout cookies as-is---Mom reminded me that the log needs to sit in the refrigerator to allow the whipped cream to soak into and soften the cookies. I thought about scraping one side but eventually decided to make my own cookies. Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies is a famous recipe . Because I am clueless, I didn't know abuot it until the past week. It seemed to be the perfect cookie for this effort. I sifted together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda. I creamed together the brown sugar and butter. Eventually, all the ingredients---including a few drops of peppermint oil---went into the bowl. I divided the dough into two.

Mom's Coffee Cake

In need of a baked item, I decided to make Mom's coffee cake. The recipe is actually from Mom's grandmother, a sour cream-based cake with cinnamon spices. The result has a dense, moist crumb and a lot of flavor. Some of it was consumed right away, some went into the freezer for future breakfasts.

An Evening Snack at IHOP

An opportunity arose for me to try the evening offerings at the IHOP on Clairmont. The building has the same charm that I remember from IHOP's early days. I declined the opportunity to order this Grinch-themed omelet. I instead ordered these mozzarella sticks. They hit the spot: thick, crunchy exterior; gooey interior, nice salty sauce.

A Blind-Baked Crust for a Pumpkin Ricotta Pie

I decided to see how much of a difference blind-baking the crust made to my pumpkin ricotta pie. I made a batch of dough; after a rest in the refrigerator I rolled it out and put it in the pie pan. I lined the crust with foil and weighed it down with my pie beads. I baked it for 20-25 minutes. While it baked, I mixed the filling: pumpkin, ricotta (filled out with a little yogurt), eggs, freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon, a little store-bought ground ginger. The resulting pie took only perhaps five minutes less time to bake---the baked crust made very little difference in baking time. The bottom of the pie was definitely firmer. But overall, blind baking didn't make a huge difference in my enjoyment of the pie.

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Grilled Cheese at Star Provisions

I went to lunch at Star Provisions for a change of pace. To keep the streak going I ordered something I haven't tried before---a grilled cheese sandwich. Service was a little confused but once it arrived, my sandwich was excellent. The cheese was very soft and complemented by carmelized onions; the effect was reminiscent of French onion soup. The bread's nuttiness complemented the savory flavors and its toastiness complemented the soft cheese.

Dan Dan-ish Noodles

I wanted to do something different with my tofu. This recipe from Serious Eats inspired me to try dan dan noodles, a favorite of mine. Along the way, I made a few modifications, mostly out of pragmatism. The effort started a few days before when I toasted some red pepper flakes and added them to sesame oil to make my own hot chili oil. I couldn't find anything labeled Chinese wheat noodles at Buford Highway Farmers Market so I cooked some spaghetti. I added a little baking soda to give them stretch and springiness. While that cooked, I fried some tofu as a substitute for pork. Next came scallions and garlic. I broke up some peanuts in the Ninja and threw them into the pan. I also added some rice vinegar and a few drops of soy sauce. The recipe called for a dark Chinese vinegar but I didn't want to invest in a bottle that I would use twice. The result wasn't classic dan dan noodles but it was tasty and satisfying. The vinegar worked very well with t