Friday, June 26, 2009

Peach Raspberry Pie

Presenting my masterpiece of pie to my Dad

I bet you didn't think you'd see me on this blog again! Yes, the JAM blog has been missing its bookends J and M, and has basically become Ariel's blog. She has a great passion for cooking and writing and I applaud her frequent blog posts and the style she imparts on them. I think this A can stand up just fine on its own, but I did bake a pie last night that I had made for the first time with Ariel and I needed to honor her with a blog entry. Oh...and maybe now she will get off my case about blogging (just kidding, love you Ariel!).

I embarked on a pie making mission last night in honor of my Dad who loves pie just about as much as I do (I absolutely cannot think of Thanksgiving without apple pie and I think he would agree). I missed Father's Day last weekend while I was visiting Ariel in California (so much fun!) and I decided I needed to get back into his good graces by bringing a pie to dinner with my parents tonight. When deciding what pie to make, I immediately thought of the winning peach and raspberry pie Ariel and I made for family members a summer or two ago. This pie got so many compliments, I knew I had to make it again. Realizing I didn't have my baking partner in crime with me this time around I was a little worried about how it would turn out.

Heart shaped peach raspberry pie

I did have a couple mishaps along the anyone surprised? The first problem arose with my filling. The peaches I bought at a local grocery store were awful! I mean not even 1 of my 5 peaches was completely usable and 2 of them were utterly inedible with mushy, mealy flesh. I think I need to start frequenting the farmer's markets because the quality of supermarket produce is apalling. Ariel has an abundance of farmer's markets at her fingertips-- those lucky Californians! Luckily I bought two pints of raspberries and was able to splice out chunks of useable fruit from each peach and I added one nectarine I originally had in mind for a snack. Thankfully the filling came together pretty easily...altho it was a little soupy from the sugar macerating the fruit, as well as the added grapefruit juice. The crust was what I had been most scared about making, but it came together beautifully. I think it was because the butter was cold, but not too firm so it was much more manageable to knead into the flour mixture.

The second mishap was in not having a pie plate. I have no idea where mine went, but I ended up using a heart shaped cake pan. It was a blessing in disguise because this makes the cutest heart shaped pie. Once I put the lattice crust together, I glazed the top with a warm preserves and water mixture and then sprinkled it with sugar. I think this made the crust more susceptible to burning, so after about 10-15 minutes in the oven I covered the top loosely with aluminum foil. I thought everything was smooth sailing until I smelled a faint smoky smell about 30 minutes into the cooking time and realized the juices from the pie were overflowing into the bottom of the oven, creating a burnt caramelized blob that was bubbling and smoking. I cracked the oven open and placed another pan underneath the oven rack the pie was resting on to catch any more of the overflow. After about an hour and ten minutes the pie was saying "take me out!" with its bubbly filing and nicely golden crust (I forgot to right down the baking time from the recipe I used so it was a guestimate).

The verdict at dinner was unanimous -- a winner once again! My Dad told me it would have made the professional bakers on his family's side proud. What a compliment! This recipe will definitely be making many more appearances in the future.

Peach and Raspberry Pie w. Lattice Crust
(adapted from various pie recipes)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (JAM note: I used a mix of 1/2c brown sugar and 1/2 c white sugar)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 peaches, skinned and sliced (JAM note: I probably used roughly 3 small peaches and 1 nectarine)
1 pint raspberries (JAM note: I used 2 pints)
juice from 1/2 orange (JAM note: I used a couple tablespoons of grapefruit juice I had on hand)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg ( JAM note: I mixed about a tablespoon of raspberry preserves and equal parts water and heated in microwave for a couple seconds to glaze the pie crust and then sprinkled with sugar)Vanilla ice cream (optional...fresh whipped cream would be great too)


For crust:
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-size clumps form. Add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed between fingertips, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough together; divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into ball, then flatten into disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. (JAM note: I only refrigerated for 10 minutes...I'm impatient what can I say?) Do ahead Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.

For filling:
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in peaches, raspberries, orange juice (JAM note: I used grapefruit juice), and vanilla; set aside.Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface to 12-inch round. Using large knife or pastry wheel with fluted edge, cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter (JAM note: I skipped the butter). Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming lattice; trim dough strip overhang to 1/2 inch. Bake for 1 hr and 10 minutes (JAM note: I estimated since I had forgotten to write down the time when I transcribed the recipe)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Best Sandwich in the Country?

Long line at Saigon Sandwich in Little Saigon in San Francisco.

I was in San Francisco for work, checking out some meeting venues. After checking out the Asian Art Museum, I found myself hungry and in Little Saigon. While I was deliberating where I might eat, I saw this long line forming outside of a little sandwich shop. This small shop is located in a rather shady part of the Tenderloin District. But, after reading the Gastronomer's recent post on banh mi, I knew I had to stop and eat one. After all, a line this long must mean good things.

I saw people waiting in mini vans outside, while their kids waited in line for sandwiches. I thought to myself "Damn, this sandwich has got to be good!" When I finally got to the counter, I ordered the roast pork, or banh mi thit, and waited a couple more minutes while the ladies behind the counter methodically baked bread, and stuffed them with meat, pate, and veggies.

Roast pork Banh mi.

I bit into my sandwich and knew I was in heaven. The fresh baked bread had a nice crispy exterior with a soft chewy interior. The sweet roast pork and creamy pate was well balanced by the extremely fresh cilantro, jalapeno pepper, pickled cucumbers, and carrots. The heat from the peppers provides the perfect contrast to the sweet meat and tangy veggies.

The long lines are a good indication that I am not the only who digs these sandwiches. Interestingly enough, Playboy magazine just named Little Saigon one of the ten best sandwiches in the country. And for $3, that is one heck of a deal.

Saigon Sandwich
560 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Ode to Eggs and Salsa - Happy Father's Day!

Eggs with Salsa

My father loves eggs with salsa. This simple dish always brings fond memories to mind. On this father's day I will be eating salsa and eggs in your honor, Dad. Oh yeah, and I wrote a little poem for you as well. Hope you enjoy your day. Love you.

Eggs with Salsa
by Ariel Holland

There once lived a little girl.
She loved to dance and twirl.
She liked to eat eggs and toast.
"But never with salsa." she'd boast.
Trying new things made her hurl!
One slow Sunday afternoon,
her father handed her a spoon.
"You will try something new.
Egg with salsa will do,
or write a poem, but please do it soon!"
"Eggs with salsa is gross!"
"Then write a poem about toast."
"Neither I'll do. I'll sit here till I'm blue!"
"Then I shall wait, you must choose one of the two!"
With her arms folded tight, her face was pale as a ghost.
Then he brought her a plate.
Would spicy eggs be her fate?
Or would she choose to
write a poem or two?
"Pick one or do both, I'm willing to wait."
The girl looked down at her plate.
She didn't want to stay up late.
She picked up her pen,
Thinking deep, and then
She wrote an ode to a lobster and his mate!
No sooner had the little girl begun,
She started having some fun!
Rhyming about lobsters and sand,
was like traveling to a far away land.
If trying new things was like this, maybe she'd try another one.
She dug into the eggs with her spoon.
The spicy salsa shot her to the moon!
"Trying new things can be grand!
I now see what you had planned."
Her dad had her singing a different tune!
Happy Father's Day Dad!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers and Lulu Noodle

The view from the Hoover Tower at Stanford University.

Last Saturday was another beautiful day in the Bay Area, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and Stanford students were graduating. I hit up the "Last Lecture of the Year" with some friends from work. Reknowned neurobiologist, Robert M. Sapolsky, gave a talk about the differences and similarities between humans and primates. I am certainly interested in reading his book, "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers".

The Bells.

After the lecture we walked around Stanford's campus and caught the view from the Hoover Tower. You can see San Francisco in the distance! All of that thinking and walking made us hungry. One of my friends is more familiar with the area than I am, having gone to Stanford herself. She suggested a noodle place in Mountain View, Lulu Noodle.

Spicy beef noodle soup.

Lulu noodle is a casual eatery with noodles galore and a number of boba drinks. I am always up for a bowl of noodles and some boba, so I was pleased with the lunch choice. I usually go with pho ga at noodle places, but decided to try the spicy beef noodle soup. The broth was rich and spicy, but not spicy enough in my opinion. I added some sriracha for an extra kick. The beef was fairly tender with large pieces of fat swiming in my bowl. The broth was flavorful, but a little too oily.

Mixed Combination Chow Fun

My two friends ordered the mixed combination chow fun with chicken, pork, shrimp, and mixed vegetables. While the service wasn't always the most attentive, they sure are serious about their food. A stray shrimp fell off the platter and was promptly replaced with another shrimp on a small serving platter. You have to respect that kind of service!

Replacement shrimp.

I ordered the thai tea boba, a slightly bitter, extremely creamy beverage. My favorite part is the tapioca bubbles. I love the chewy texture. The jelly grass and bean beverage was order by my adventurous friend. The extremely sweet drink can almost serve as another meal, filled with sweet red beans and jelly sliced into thin strips.

Boba Tea.

I love dining out with friends with adventurous tastes. I never would have ordered the fried taro with egg and peanuts on my own, but was delighted to share this dish. The taro almost tasted like silken pieces of tofu. The fried egg and peanuts added depth of flavor. Dipped in soy sauce, this salty treat is the epitome of simple comfort food.

Taro with fried egg and peanuts.

Lulu Noodle serves up some cheap, large portions of asian comfort food. If you're strapped for cash and looking for something filling, you know where to go.

Lulu Noodle
Located off of El Camino between Showers Dr and San Antonio Rd,
in the Shopping Center with the Trader Joe's.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thanksgiving in June

Cornbread, herb, and bacon stuffing with maple mashed sweet potatoes.

It has been three months since I moved to Mountain View and the longest I have gone without seeing my family. While I chat with my mom, dad, and sisters often, I still miss seeing their faces. Feeling a little homesick, I turned to my mom's cornbread stuffing.

If I had to pick one dish that my mom cooks that I couldn't live without (and trust me there are so many amazing ones) I would have to choose her cornbread, herb, and bacon stuffing. I used to hate stuffing until she started making this. The fresh sage, thyme, and rosemary really brighten this dish up. It was actually these herbs that inspired my June thanksgiving. The strong aromas bring back so many good memories.

AJ appreciates Thanksgiving in June too!

The main component of stuffing is the bread, so why not using something extra special like cornbread. I love how this hardy bread really stands up to the liquids. I don't like mushy stuffing! And bacon, well who doesn't love it?

I whipped up some mashed maple sweet potatoes to go alongside the stuffing for a decadent meal. These dishes really hit the spot. So tell me, what do you cook when you're feeling a little homesick?

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's for Breakfast?

Steel cut oats with blueberries and maple syrup.

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 12, 2009

A trip to Frank's Italin Bistro

Whole wheat spaghetti in a vodka sauce with portabellos, broccoli and basil.

I thought the DC area was quite densely populated, but moving to the Bay area has given new meaning to the term. Large populations living in a small areas equates to lots of shops and restaurants. There are seemingly an infinite number of restaurants just on Castro St in Mountain View. Last Sunday I made a stop at Frank's Italian Bistro for dinner. I've been to some cozy places, but this was real cozy! There was only one table set for four. Luckily, no one else had stopped here to eat.

The table offered a view into the chef's kitchen. Mr. Frank prides himself in using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. The special of the day featured local broccoli and basil from Happy Boy Farms and some locally grown portabellos.

Cooking up the sauce for the pasta dish.

My meal came out pretty quickly, which I sort of expected seeing as I was the only one there. I was a little disppointed to find out that the sauce was a jarred tomato vodka sauce from Trader Joe's, but I guess this saves time. The chef told me he doctors it up with fresh herbs and parmesan cheese. The whole wheat spaghetti wasn't homemade either, but the beautiful plate presentation signaled a homey artistry. The beautiful greens, browns, and reds was visually appealing. The fresh sprigs of basil added to the gorgeous plate and provided a lovely aroma.

That's how you plate!

The whole wheat pasta was cooked al dente, with a nice nuttiness. The meaty portabellos and broccoli gave a hardiness to the dish. The vodka sauce wasn't as creamy as I am used to, but I think that was for the better. The fresh basil elevated this dish - brightening my palate. Salty flecks of parmesan balanced out the sweet basil.

Mr. Frank, you can cook for me any day!

Note: Mr. Frank requires a week's notice, and will then decide whether or not he is in the cooking mood.

Whole wheat toast with homemade cherry jam and a free-range fried egg.

Good Morning! I am going to be posting pictures of things I eat. Sometimes I may post every meal, other days I may just post one picture.

Today's breakfast is a classic. I love toast with jam. The crispy, warm bread really makes my morning. AJ also made me a fried egg. What a great way to start the morning.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Ariel Got A Job" Celebratory Dinner!

Raspberry Chambord Prosecco Cocktail.

After a long search, I was offered a job in the healthcare policy research field! AJ is almost as excited as I am. He took me out to Tigelleria, an organic Italian restaurant, to celebrate.

I made him get a girly drink.

Tigelleria is located in downtown Campbell, serving up authentic Italian fare using organic ingredients. You know you're in Northern California when even the Italian restaurants are going organic. We started off the evening with some cocktails. You can't celebrate without a little bubbly. My favorite sparkling wine is prosecco, so I went with their Raspberry prosecco cocktail. A combination of prosecco, chambord, and organic raspberries - this light, sweet, slightly tart beverage was a perfect way to start the evening.

Tigelle - small italian flatbread.

And now to the namesake - tigelle! Tigelle are small Italian flatbread, found in the Modena area in Italy. The bread was quite a treat - slightly sweet and warm, these pieces were unlike any I had tried before. They come served with a trio of accompaniments: olive tapenade, carrot puree, and a sun-dried tomato spread. My personal favorite was the olive - briny, textured, and extremely fresh.

Tigelle with sun-dried tomato, carrot, and olive spreads.

The restaurant focuses on a wonderful variety of Italian meats and cheeses, which pair well with the tigelle. AJ and I didn't try any charcuterie, but I did end up with some pork in my pasta, so I guess I ended up forsaking my mostly vegetarian lifestyle anyways.

Cheese please!

AJ adores eggplant, so he ordered their eggplant parmigiana right off the bat. It took me a little longer to settle on a dish. While I am always tempted to get gnocchi, I decided to branch out and ordered the Boscaiola. Ribbons of egg noodles are tossed with organic imported porcini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, cream, and what I learned later was smoked speck. I thought it was proscuitto, and it turns out it is actually very similar. Both are made from the hind leg of the pig, but speck is deboned before it is cured. Traditionally speck is cured with juniper, among other spcies. It is cold-smoked for many months before it is consumed.

Boscaiola, with organic porcini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, cream, and speck.

To the untrained pallet, speck tastes like salty, sweet proscuitto. The cream sauce was light and flavorful, taking on the garlic and shallot nicely. The ribbons of homemade egg pasta were satiny, rolling over my tongue. You really can't beat homemade pasta. The portions at Tigelleria are moderate. I felt full, but not busting at the gut. Which is how I prefer to feel when I dine out, and with smaller portions, you can show less restraint. It also helps save room for another cocktail or dessert.

Baked Eggplant parmigiana with potato, green bean, and tomato salad.

AJ was very pleased with his eggplant parmigiana. The thin layers of eggplant are baked in a personal dutch oven. While some restaurants heavily bread their eggplant, these were lightly breaded, giving it just enough crunch and flavor. The sauce had all the right elements, acidity, sweetness, seasoning. And don't let me forget the parmigiano reggiano! The waiter comes tableside to shave cheese onto your dish, should you like. The salad with AJ's dish, certainly took backseat to the eggplant, but it was simple yet well-prepared. The potatoes were cooked well, the beans crips, and the tomatoes perfectly ripe. Tossed in a simple olive oil and red wine vinegar, you won't be leaving anything on your plate.

Italian films play in the background, while I sip my cocktail.

Not only is the food charming, but so is the decor. The cozy dining area is surrounded by soothing blue walls and rich wood shelves, filled with wine bottles. Classical artwork gives the restaurant a distinguished feel, while the Italian films playing over the bar prevent the place from feeling pompous. I will certainly be coming back again.


76 East Campbell Ave
Campbell, CA

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Psycho Donut - Donut Day!

Psycho Donut - Where the 'nurses' take care of 'psycho donuts'!

After reading about Krispy Kreme giving out free donuts, AJ and I were inspired to celebrate all things donut on this lovely Friday! We hit up Krispy Kreme and ordered a chocolate kreme filled and a strawberry glazed. AJ thought he had asked for the custard filling, but was served their kreme or frosting filled donut. Verdict: It was still delicious. Krispy Kreme is also offering some new glazed donuts this summer season: strawberry and blueberry glazed. As a young child I always got the strawberry glazed from Dunkin' Donuts. The Krispy Kreme version kicks its butt. There is real fruit in this glaze and you can see and taste the difference.

These donuts were delicious and prompted AJ to search his Iphone for the next Krispy Kreme location, in hopes of another free donut. His search brought up the local donut shop, "Psycho Donuts". Surely with a name like that, this place would turn out some unique creations. We drove 25 minutes to our next donut stop.

Psycho Donut - chocolate glazed yeast donut with marshmallow, pretzels, and chili powder.

Psycho Donuts is dedicated to creating unique flavor and texture combinations. Most of their donuts rely on the same base - a yeast donut - which is glazed with different flavored coatings, filled with different custards and jellies, and topped with crunchy goodies. Not only are their donuts creative, but the decor is as well. They create the ambiance of a psych ward for their mentally unstable donuts. Even the cashiers are dressed like nurses!

Coco puff Donut!

I wasn't able to download the pics I took of our donuts. AJ ordered a yeast donut topped with a vanilla glaze and oreo cookies. The crunchy oreos were wonderful, especially with a big gulp of milk. I went with the banana creme, a custard filled chocolate glazed donut topped with crunchy banana chips. I was kind of hoping the creme would be banana flavored as well, but it was still tasty. The banana chips were a unique and flavorful addition to this boston creme donut. These donuts were filling, and with one already in my belly, I wasn't able to finish more than half.

Safe to say AJ and I will be returning to Psycho Donut for its unusual combinations. I think I might have to get the namesake with its chili powder and pretzel topping!

Happy Donut Eating!

2146 Leghorn St
Mountain View, CA

2006 Winchester Blvd
Campbell, CA