Two things

Hello loves!

Two quick things have I to share:

Today for lunch I convinced the ladies to come check out a new place that I've heard a good amount about lately, The Curious Palate. When my man Jonny Gold mentioned it in LA Weekly, well, I had no choice but to go. We weren't disappointed! Amber tried the Cubano sandwich and liked it (although she and I were in agreement that we weren't tickled by their pickles-she took hers out of the sandwich).There wasn't too much for Miss Michelle (a vegan) but she loved her Curried Squash Soup. And I LOVED the Veggie Panini! The black-eyed pea mash was a really unique and yummy touch, and the balsamic that came on the side was delicious for dipping. I also got the Beluga Lentils, which was good but a bit overwhelming with olive oil flavor. Actually, let's just take that to mean my palate is evolving, eh?

What a cute space--there is seating inside and (minimal) out, it's got a deli counter and a whole bunch of artisanal goods to purchase. Didn't have too much time to peruse, but we couldn't resist looking at the selection of mini chocolate bars by the register. I didn't need too much pushing to buy the dark chocolate orange cardamom (LOVE me some cardamom) and the white chocolate lemon pepper. Oh my Lord. That's really all I have to say. I'm already craving more of the white--I think they must get their crack from the same place as Pinkberry.

Too far?

And on that note, I leave you for now. I just ordered a bunch of new baking supplies (on a bit of a shopaholic kick this month) and plan to be making a bunch of new lovely things to share. Yes, this apparently is still very much a food blog. Re-name change may be forthcoming.

Happy Friday!


Birthday Cake for My Boy

Mission: David's 27th Birthday Cake

I asked young Mr G what he was looking for in a cake this year. He loved the one I came up with for his 26th (a really hearty whole wheat flour cake with lemon icing and blueberries) so I couldn't disappoint this year. He told me, "Something with caramel sounds good." Nothing more. And so the quest began.

I was looking for something delish but low maintenance, sinc
e I would be making it on a weeknight. After some digging through cookbooks and ye olde Internet, I settled on this recipe. Super basic vanilla cake, just like David likes it. To spice things up a bit-literally-I decided to add 1 tsp of cardamom and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, as well as the zest of one lemon.

The cake baked up beautifully in 35 minutes and slid out of the pan easy as...pie? Do you ever have that moment of total fear before you take a cake out of the pan, that maybe the shortening or whatever you used to line the pan somehow didn't work and half of your cake is going to stick? Yeah...me either.
While ze (fully intact) cake was cooling and smelling up the house with all sorts of deliciousness, I set to work on the topping. Although the aforementioned cake recipe did include its own recipe for caramel glaze (it is, after all, called caramel cake), I decided to go with a caramel recipe that I already know and love.Forgiv
e me if I've already mentioned this book, but Desserts by the Yard is an absolutely fabulous book of dessert recipes by the pastry chef at Spago. It's also just a really a good read if you like that sort of thing. One of the desserts she has is for homemade Twix bars, inspired by her time studying pastry making in London, and the caramel is to die for!! The trick is Lyle's Golden Syrup, instead plain old corn syrup. You can buy it online, or find it at Cost Plus World Market--it's an import from the UK (and I'm pretty sure there is a little of the White Witch's magic in the stuff).

I decided to halve the caramel recipe, since it was just being used as a glaze and I didn't want to make the cake soggy. I realize now that was silly thinking, since the caramel solidifies pretty quickly. Ah well. Anyway, halving it is very easy, except for the fact that my liquid measuring cups don't have a line for 3/8 of a cup, so I may have added too much Golden Syrup. Not that that could ever be a bad thing. I always feel like a brilliant mad scientist when I add the heavy cream to the hot sugar/syrup mixture--it suddenly starts boiling and changing color, and then magically (ok, chemically) turns into caramel when I add the condensed milk. Bwa ha ha!

OK, so. As soon as the caramel was complete (it only takes about 15 minutes if you do it right, as I do sometimes), I poured it on over that cake. I placed a cookie sheet under the cooling rack to catch any rogue caramel, of which there was much. The caramel was not as thick as I would have liked, and I think that showed in the final product. Of course it was supposed to be a glaze, so I guess in that regard it worked out.

In the end, it was a pretty humble looking cake--you might have mistaken it for a corn bread. Looks aside, the taste is great!! The cake is just moist enough with a nice crumb, and I do feel the extra spice touches I added made the difference in flavor. However, because of that the caramel tended to fade into the background, which is unfortunate. Next time I either need to back off on the spices, or work with a more assertive flavor profile for the icing. All in all, though, I'll call it a success. I have one happy and full 27 year old guy, and a lot of cake that needs eating! 


Monday Night Dinner in MDR

Dinner last night inspired me to write a haiku to commemorate the occasion. We took D’s aunt and uncle (wrapping up an abbreviated version of their annual trek out West) to C&O Trattoria in Marina del Rey. None of them (my boy included) had been there before, and it had been years since I’d graced the place with my presence. I was a little dismayed when we were led in to the dining room and I saw that the seats were nothing more than your standard green plastic chairs…I was worried that I recalled the restaurant being much better than it actually was.

However, Raymond and Janie quickly put my mind at ease. They loved the atmosphere, said it was just their kind of place. The hot, buttery garlic rolls didn’t hurt, either. They both got the special pasta, linguini with clam sauce. It had clams in the shell, too, which apparently is a very very good thing. D and I know nothing of such things. He got the Fettucine Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, I the Pappardelle avec Wild Mushrooms & Chicken Apple Sausage. Everyone seemed pleased as punch…or maybe it was just the chianti? I sure am glad I drink red wine now. Raymond advised us early in the night to always get the house wine, said you can’t go wrong. In wine as in gambling, the house always wins. And I win doubly--wine never gives this little girl a hangover!

Still waiting for that haiku, are you? All right, you’ve been good. Here ya go:

Rolls of Garlic Sate
(Outside, the Ocean Winds Whip)
Red Wine Freely Flows