Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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Best Friend’s 25th Birthday, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen – San Antonio, TX

April 28, 2012

My best friend turned 25 on April 20th. We celebrated at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen here in town and had an amazing time! For a chain restaurant, the food is simply sublime.

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He loved the custom card I made him. When we were younger, we played a lot of Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2, and ultimately JK3. We were always the portly Rodians. We called ourselves The Garbage Men. :p Those are the beasts you see on the front of the card. The red thing between them represents my little brother’s character back then — he was always a Red Reborn. Good times. 🙂

When we played that game, he couldn’t decide what to name his particular character. I said the little green head on a plump body like that looked like a hairy kiwi. So he called himself “MrHairyKiwis” and it stuck! To this day, that’s still his nickname. Rarely do we call him “Nathan” — always “Kiwis” or another term of endearment, “Rhino.” 😀

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First appetizer — Frog Legs, (two pictured, two were already consumed). These were delicious! The breading was light, crispy and well seasoned. The frog was tender and silky, as to be expected. I’ve always loved frog legs. Many say frog tastes like chicken but I think they taste more like testicles, if I had to compare them to anything.

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Second appetizer of Baked Oyster Duo, three Oysters Pappadeaux (crabmeat, spinach & hollandaise) and three Oysters Baton Rouge (romano & parmesan cheeses). I loved them both equally.

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My entrée! Pan broiled with dirty rice. They were excellent! They weren’t exactly tiny, either. I took one home.

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My brother’s entrée: Grilled Caribbean Lobster Tail. He said it was really good, if not a bit on the salty side.

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I had a side of spaghetti squash. Yum!

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Our best friend reacting to some vulgarity my brother shot his way. 😀

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We had some of these — Baton Bellinis! Flor de Cana 7 year aged rum, Hornitos Plata tequila, peach, fresh lemon & lime, finished with Saracco Moscato d’Asti. Best cocktail of the day.

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And some of these — The Patrón Perfect. Patrón Silver tequila & Patrón Citrónge Orange liqueur with fresh lemon & lime. Quite tasty.

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This is the Captain Morgan rum on the rocks my brother had beside this MONOLITH of a brownie that we annihilated. That thing wasn’t just fudgey and chocolatey and sweet and caramel-y and delicious, it was a TAUNT to a sucrose coma. Finished off with some vanilla ice cream, it was a flawless finish.

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My beloved Jameson Irish Whiskey on the rocks and I. I’m a complete sucker for Jameson!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY! KANPAI! ~(\=^-^)=/ ~So happy you can see my Speak Now bracelets!

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HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY, My Favourite Twins On the Planet!

April 6, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since I did a birthday post for my premium twins, Rebecca & Beth Hackfath! Time flies waaaaaaaayyy too fast…

But here we are! My girls are 18!!!!!!!! NO ONE I care about turns 18 without me making a fuss!  So I made a few treats to show off to them since I wasn’t able to be there in person for the occasion.

I asked Becca what she considers something special and yummy. She told me about this pasta bake her mom fixes — it’s creamy and chickeny and done with tagliatelle! I was unable to source that pasta so I used fettuccini for this recipe, which is very similar to tagliatelle.

THE CHICKEN BRICK

Har!!! I followed the principles of that pasta bake but kinda went backwards. I fixed the pasta in a homemade cream sauce (built up form chicken stock and roux, and a base of sauteed onions and pancetta). Tossed everything together then stuffed it in a personal sized mold. Once it cooled, I inverted it and un-molded it to make the lovely brick shape you see here. Topped it with freshly grated mozzarella cheese and homemade Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, placed under the broiler for a couple minutes and here it is!

Now for Birthday Cake!

Becca and Beth have a sweet tooth! :p So I wanted to do something sweet but not gaggingly sweet. I wanted to combine a few flavours I know work together.

Upside Down Champagne Apple & Cherry Chocolate Cake w/ Champagne Strawberry & Mint Salad

For starters, my apple slices, maraschino cherries and (diced) strawberries all marinaded in champagne! >:))) Birthday + Special People = Champagne!!!

I  made these personal sized. Start with the basic fundamentals for any upside down cake — butter & brown sugar on the bottom (you may use Vegan butter to cut calories!). Then, I layered a central slice of apple, surrounded by maraschino cherries. In goes the chocolate cake batter! I mixed diced apples into that and use some apple juice to amp the apple taste. Bake, let cool, use a knife to follow along the edge of the cake so it slips out easily, use a plate over the top of the ramekin to help flip, invert, there’s the cake!

After the inversion, I made two glazes for drizzling — both out of powdered sugar and whole milk. For once, I didn’t use soy or coconut or almond because those flavours would have conflicted with my recipe but you may use them if you please. I made one plain white and one pink! You can see the results.

My approach to the side of the plate with the strawberry & mint salad was to go at it in a bit of an abstract art style. I think it looks quite lovely! :p What do YOU think?!

And here is an Apple Tart w/ Honey on Puff Pastry

So simple to fix and so yummy! Just cut some rectangles out of thawed puff pastry sheet. Roll it out some or use your fingers to work it out to your desired length. Brush with some butter of your choice, arrange apple slices as pictured, drizzle with  some more melted butter of your choice or a good oil, like a fruity olive oil would be perfect! Bake till golden and puffy. Drizzle with honey and dust with powdered sugar! Garnish with a mint leaf and enjoy! I made a bunch of these. :p Oh, and you can drizzle the honey BEFORE baking if you want to get that baked honey thing going. So good either way.

Beth and Becca! I know this isn’t much but I’m far away and food is one way I show people I love them. 🙂 And I love you both very much! I feel we’ve really connected over the past few years and I feel lucky to count you among my very best friends, online or otherwise. Whoever said people can’t forge meaningful relationships over the internet is full of shit. :p

I’m SO thrilled to see you both turn 18! It’s a major milestone. I remember when I turned 18… kind of. ;p ~I wish I could do it all over again. You’ll probably feel like that one day so please cherish every second of your special day, relish every moment and take every pleasure in basking in all the love that surrounds you. I hope you’ve had the best celebration possible today! As I said on Facebook, I’m blowing out some birthday candles of my own here, in your honour! My wish: That you both are eternally happy!

Your Forever-Friend,

~Charlie ♥

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Tomato & Olive Frittata

March 24, 2012

I love frittatas. They’re super easy to make and allow an endless amount of creativity to be had. If you’re just learning how to move a skillet around or practicing your egg skills, or simply want to fix something super fast and super yummy — turn to a frittata for a simple solution!

Basically, a frittata is beaten eggs you never fold or flip or anything. It cooks in the skillet and slides out of the skillet, no fuss no foul. You can even eat the thing out of the skillet or slice and serve from there. I made this one the other day. I felt like practically DRINKING some black olives but I figured I’d act like a civilized human being and prepare them in something proper. Here’s my recipe:

Tomato & Olive Frittata

6 large eggs
1 tbsp butter (I use Earth Balance Vegan Butter
2 oz. black olives, sliced (drained if from a can)
1 small tomato, diced (peeled or unpeeled is up to you. I like the peel).
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Olive Oil drizzle
Bunch cilantro for garnish

First, we mise en place!

This is how I dice my tomatoes. You can also follow these additional steps to peel before you dice. Reserve.

I used a small can of thinly sliced black olives but you are more than welcome to use whatever kind of black olive you enjoy, such as those that come whole in a jar. Just slice them as thin as you feel comfortable. If they need to be pitted, be sure to take out and discard those pits. Reserve.

Crack six large eggs into a large non-reactive bowl. We’re mixing this in a non-reactive bowl because we’re working with something acidic — tomatoes! If you use something like aluminum to mix about your acidic dish, you’ll impart an unpleasant taste to your food. We don’t want to do that, do we? Use glass or ceramic, or stainless steel. I love my Pyrex bowls!

Beat VIGOROUSLY till eggs are completely broken down and frothy. The more air you beat into them, the fluffier they will be. Here is how to properly beat eggs. Remember to kinda come up as you move those eggs, and do it with gusto. It’s almost a lifting motion, NOT STIRRING.

Add heavy cream and beat till completely combined.

Add tomatoes and olives, and beat gently till incorporated.

Heat a non-stick skillet over med-low heat. Add butter and move around as it melts to fully coat the skillet, even up the sides. (*Note: You can use plain olive oil or any fat of your choice. I just love Earth Balance so I use it in most things. You can even use coconut oil, which gives everything the coolest taste)! Heat until butter is completely melted.

Add egg mixture. Swirl mixture in skillet till evenly distributed.

Cover and allow to cook for 10-12 mins. This will set the bottom and allow some steam action to fluff the frittata. From this stage, you can actually garnish and serve in wedges. Feeds 2-4 people.

Alternatively, you can allow the frittata to cook more. Place under a broiler or in a 375-degree pre-heated oven and continue to cook till done, (2-4 mins, or until the top browns for a broiler, about 5 mins. for a traditional oven).

I’ll be posting more frittatas soon! Just remember you can add more eggs for a thicker dish or fewer for thinner. Just keep in mind, your cooking times will need adjusting. Have fun with this!

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HAPPY 15th BIRTHDAY, SARA MARGOLIS !!!!

January 31, 2012

Sometimes, I wonder what I did in another life to deserve the cool, amazing friends I have. One such friend is Model Sara Margolis! We were chit-chatting the other day and I asked her if she had her birthday party planned yet. She said she hadn’t had one in years and I nearly fell outta my chair!

SO I THREW ONE! 😀

True to form, I cooked up a storm and aimed for special! I wanted these dishes to reflect a theme, showcase some of the stuff Sara has done, the places she has been and the whimsy in her personality.

#StuffSaraLikes = All things tropical! She’s a Vegetarian (Ovo-Lacto) so fruits and veggies are big. Sweets and sour surprises, too!

Sara told me a story about a vacation of hers where she, her brother and a friend flung a coconut off a hotel balcony till it busted on the concrete below. What a way to go! I bet that coconut’s coconut-pals still talk about how he met such an untimely demise! I decided to pay homage to that coconut — Otis the Coconut! — with a signature dish I called:

Sara’s Sweet & Sour Coconut/Lime Mousse w/ Sweet & Sour Mint Phyllo Chips

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Ole Otis here is stuffed with rich and fluffy yet light and bright coconut lime mousse, topped with lime zest and toasted coconut, served with phyllo chips and garnished with mint.

The sand is pulverized wafer cookies and graham crackers. The eyes are edible, too! :p

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These phyllo chips were so fun to make. I dusted them with citric acid and colored sprinkles! That citric acid is the stuff on Sour Patch Kids candies and Sour Skittles. They were a perfect pop to the decadent mousse.

A trick to get some lime taste in the chip itself was to make lime sugar! I infused confectioner’s sugar with lime zest. I let the sugar and zest sit together for an hour. Then, as I folded the phyllo pastry, I dusted the sugar between the layers to act as a bit of an adhesive during the baking process.

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Sara’s Sandcastle Retreat Cake

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This was wild! I had never made a sandcastle cake before. BUT! Sara enjoys tropical holidays. She sports enough beach pictures to fill an impressive travelogue! Besides that, “Sara” means “PRINCESS” in Hebrew. Sooo, I went with the theme and made our Princess a beach castle she can hide away in for some R&R. I dunno about that starfish, though. How did he get on the beach resort guest list? :O Looks suspicious!

I really wanted this to look like something someone made on the beach so I forwent using things like fondant and stuck with a spatula and my hands, instead!

This is a three-tier cake for 75. The bottom tier was a traditional white vanilla cake infused with guava and lime. The middle tier was my favorite — Strawberry and Chocolate swirl! It tasted exactly like Neopolitan ice cream! The top tier was a strawberry cream bundt cake.

Frosting! The top tier was frosted in a coconut-pecan glaze that gave the “sand” an awesome wet-sand look after application. The middle and bottom tiers were frosted in lemon/lime/orange zest infused buttercream.

The sand is a mixture of pulverized vanilla wafer cookies, graham cracker cookies and these gingersnap type things I bought. Those made the darker sand where I wrote “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA”!

I also bought the candy pearls sprinkled everywhere. 🙂 ~And the candles!

The shells, starfish and misfits invading Sara’s castle are all handmade with white chocolate. Very yummy!

The towers are, of course, ice cream cones — decorated! :p

Sara’s Facebook name is “Tweetie Bird” so I had to invite Tweety to the party!

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This is how cake was served. Here is my favorite of the three: a slice of strawberry/chocolate swirl atop strawberry cream and guava/ancho chili infused chocolate drizzle, decorated with pink and lavender sugar sprinkles — and served with a quenelle of mango sorbet. On top is a red candle with a red flame, a white chocolate sea shell and one of the cookie “castle battlements.”

The sweets didn’t stop there! Considering Sara turned FIFTEEN and TAYLOR SWIFT wrote a song called FIFTEEN, it stood to reason to make some T-Swizzle inspired treats!

Taylorific Orange Infused Cheesecake w/ Raspberry Puree

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Taylor (I call her Tayters!) has said her favorite food is cheesecake. Nothing easier, more fun or yummier than that! This is an orange infused cheesecake with graham cracker crust, served on a bed of raspberry puree w/ an orange peel twirl, orange zest & mint leaf garnish. Decadent, silky, lovely!

Parmesan Dusted Sara Tots w/ Horseradish Vegenaise Dip

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TAYTER TOTS! Growing up, that was Taylor’s nickname and what I still call her. FOR THE OCCASION, though, I believe we can call these “SARA TOTS!” :p These are Yukon Gold potato “Sara Tots” dusted with Parmesan cheese and pepper, served with a luscious Vegenaise and horseradish dip. For any of you who want to cut down on the mayo, definitely go out and get some Vegenaise! It’s great and better for you!

Sarastrone Soup

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This is my traditional recipe for minestrone soup. I like fixing it vegan-style, and fully embrace the bean broth as the base of this hallmark dish. The incorporation of the shell pasta ties into Sara’s beach-themed gala, and that makes it SARASTRONE instead of minestrone!  ;p

Saravera Primavera Martini

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This was good! This is a medley of kale, watercress, baby asparagus tips, PAPAYA (omg yum), Korean garlic-chili sauce and quinoa spaghetti noodles quickly sauteed in sesame oil. Once in the martini glass, I drizzled a very clean celery/onion broth with a hint of low sodium soy sauce over it all, garnished with a scallion curl and fresh flat leaf parsley — AND PAPAYA PEPPER! NEVER throw away your papaya seeds! All you have to do is soak them, husk them, dry them and grind them! Then, you have the healthiest “pepper” you could ever hope to find!

FYI, I no longer use any other pasta but the quinoa stuff! Quinoa is a real super food. The health benefits are astounding!

The Princess Sara (Cocktail)

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Can’t have a party without a cocktail!

I made two versions of this; one for the under-21s (like our birthday girl! :p ) that was just as delicious as the one for us over-21s. This cocktail is inspired by the traditional red tea from South Africa, Rooibos Tea, and fuses some tropical influences into it with crushed mint (mojito style!) and fresh mango juice — and rum! I used coconut rum. :p

Sara said one of her favorite fruits is mango so this recipe felt natural. Rooibos is SO good for you! See here. I served this in a glass that could facilitate four Lite Cubes for the neon rave effect you see pictured. All garnished with fresh mint!

So, basically, smush a mint leaf at the bottom of the glass. Removal of the deceased leaf is optional. Lite Cubes go in. Then, start building! 3 parts mango juice, 2 parts Rooibos tea, rum to fill, mint garnish. Enjoy!

SARA! I pity people who don’t know you. You have an uncanny essence & energy that lights up any room and turns any frown upside down. I’m SO thankful we met because I firmly believe that, to make the most of life, we must surround ourselves with bright, ambitious, successful people who keep the goal of living life to its fullest at the top of their to-do list — people like you. There are LOTS of people who love you — including me! — so never forget that the more you smile and the brighter you glow, the more people you’ll inspire around you, with everything you do. Just look at all the yummy treats you inspired me to make! :p

Cheers to this next round of your life! At fifteen, the party is just getting started!

Happy Birthday, Princess! ~(=^-^)= ♡♥♡♥♡♥

OH! And here’s the DJ we had! ~(=O_O)=

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And here she is after the feast! 🐱

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Recipes for all these will be posted soon on my upcoming Tumblr dedicated to my yummies. 🙂 Stay tuned!

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Sardinas a la Mexicana

August 4, 2011

Here’s a quick, no-cook way to enjoy canned sardines an old Mexican way. Of course, this technique is not specific to Mexico. There are a variety of cultures that mash up sardines with veggies, especially in countries where means are thin and meals must be stretched to their greatest extents. Good thing about them sardines is they’re JAM PACKED with calcium! With these fresh vegetables, this is a very healthy dish.

My great grandparents (on both sides) were Mexican immigrants. On my mother’s side, her grandfather LOVED making this! He especially loved making it with her. As a little girl, no older than 8 or 9, she remembers peeking over the kitchen counter to watch her granddaddy, Tomas Zertuche, mash up a can of sardines and mix it up with fresh, vibrant vegetables. As I grew up, mom always made this for us as a snack. We just had this yesterday (hence, the pictures) and it brought back fond memories, as all “family recipes” do. :p No mater if it’s made from scratch or compiled like this, anything we share with people we love is special!

Mash up a can of sardines in tomato sauce. Dump a heap of diced cilantro, serano peppers, red onion over your mush. Additionally, you may add diced tomato, garlic, avocado and lemon or lime juice. But we like it just like this. And you may adjust the heat by adding or taking away serano peppers (or using different peppers. Your call). I used two — one green, one red because it was aged a bit.

Tomato sauce!

Dump that sauce alllllll over your mush! :p

Mix it all up w/ additional powdered comino (cumin) and freshly ground black pepper.

You can see the char marks on my tortillas. I love heating up a corn tortilla over the open stove flame. But you can heat them on an iron skillet, too. An outdoor grill rocks, too! Roll into fire roasted corn tortillas (or whatever tortilla you prefer) or use as chip dip and enjoy!

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Happy Birthday, Jesica Hurst!

May 4, 2011

I’m beyond excited to put the shine on an incredible, talented, fascinating friend of mine! To make a long story short, it was about two years ago that one of my best friends from Berlin turned me onto A Day To Remember‘s “If It Means A Lot To You.” Heard the song, loved it. I always enjoy hearing covers so I paid attention to the videos in the side bar on YouTube and noticed this black & white video of a girl covering it. FYI, 99.9% of the music I love is girl-sung so I clicked that first video and was absolutely blown away! It was Jes’ cover. 🙂 The rest is history!

Since then, she’s turned me onto some of my favourite music on the planet, including my favourite band of all time, Tegan & Sara. The first time I heard T&S was on Jes’ Facebook page. There was a video link to “The Con” that I could not get over. Also, “Call It Off” which remains my favourite T&S song of all time. Jes is also responsible for my infatuation with Alison Sudol and A Fine Frenzy. Her dancing to “Electric Twist” is probably one of the most fabulous things on Earth. Most recently? OH LAND, who is miraculous. Needless to say, Jes is the best damn jukebox I’ve ever come across.

What I love most about Jes’ music is she sings soul-to-mouth direct, no filter. If it’s a cover, she makes it her own. If it’s an original, we’re gripped with curiosity as to why she wrote what she did. I like to think that the best way to get to know an artist is to absorb what they create. With Jes’ music, we can hear and admire all we want but if we REALLY listen — just listen — we have the pleasure of learning so much. I consider myself among the fortunate who have gotten to know Jes before she’s all ultra famous with tons of records and tours and tear-sheets and editorials and whatever else she feels like conquering. :p

She was also a huge inspiration and muse over the past two years that I’ve worked on my novel. Ohhhh, how I wish I could elaborate for all of you but at this stage of the game, it’s best I say little else. Jes knows what I mean, though! So that’s well enough. 😀

A native Canadian, Jes is a model, a musician and writer for her university paper, The Gazette (at Western). She’s also ultra radiant, cupcake-sweet & blindingly bright. How fortunate are we to have a friend like this in our lives? Oh, she’s also Vegan! Sooooooooooo~

~I decided to shoot a spread of 100% Vegan yummies for this special occasion! (I’ll fill in the recipes later. If I typed those out, I’d never get this posted! So stay tuned!)

Asparagus soup with Crispy Fried Wontons & Caramelized Shallots, Celery Leaf & Sea Salt Garnish

Lentil & Sweet Potato Sauté with Caramelized Shallots

Garlic Hummus Tostadas with Lettuce & Radicchio Chiffonade, Black Olive Rounds, Diced Tomato & Lemon Zest. Served w/ Tomato Slices & Lemon Wedge

Spread shots!

Banana Cupcakes with Lemon-Banana Glaze, Sifted Powdered Sugar & Sweet Banana Chips Garnish (Made these with an awesome fruity organic Olive Oil!!!)

Peanut Butter & Banana Chia Pudding made with plain soy milk, garnished with Grapefruit Zest & Agave Nectar

Jes doesn’t drink so I made a yummy virgin refreshment! This is Hibiscus Tea sweetened with Agave Nectar & Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice, Sprinkled with Grapefruit Zest. Perfect tartness!

Dessert spread!

Lookie! Lilies! ;p (Get it, Jes? hehe!)

Also, I took the liberty of commissioning my artist friend, Virginia Hilton, to put together some Jes-inspired portraits:

This world is full of amazing people; among them, those that leave an impact on others. Jes, you’ve had a profound impact on me — often, without you knowing it — and I appreciate the quality of you more than you know. Many thanks for the dazzling ride your life has been thus far and to many, many more decades to come! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUGAR! CHEERS!

Keep up with everything Jes is doing at these links:

http://jesicahurst.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/JesicaAtGazette
http://westerngazette.ca/author/jesica-hurst/
http://youtube.com/jeshurst

And DO check out her song “Save Me” — (a personal favourite) — at her MySpace here: http://www.myspace.com/jesshurstmusic

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Happy Birthday, Rebecca & Beth!

April 10, 2011

I feel awful for getting to this a bit late but here’s a spread I shot for my friends’ 17th Birthdays on April 6th, 2011! Happy Birthday, Rebecca & Beth Hackfath! Two of the coolest, sweetest English twins on the planet!

Stay sweet, forever! 🙂

These are White Orange & Lemon Citrus Cupcakes w/Strawberry Buttercream Icing & Filling, Wrapped in Strawberry Slices, garnished w/ Sliced Strawberries, Orange Zest, Chocolate Mint & Pink/Lavender/Light Green Sprinkles!

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