Blackberry-Banana Pancakes

Blackberry-Banana Pancakes

Every day is the perfect day for pancakes.

Especially when there’s bananas and fresh blackberries involved.

And butter. And syrup.

Blackberry-Banana Pancakes

I recently caught up with some girlfriends over brunch at The Naked Cafe in Solana Beach. It was a gorgeous, sunny day overlooking the beach –definitely the perfect backdrop to a scrumptious meal.

I ended up ordering a bunch of random à la carte items but the most memorable dish were their buttermilk banana & blackberry pancakes. HOLY MOLY–they were the fluffiest things ever! And why have I never made this fruit combination before in a pancake?

Blackberry-Banana Pancakes

The situation needed to be rectified….immediately! I turned to my tried and true Blueberry Pancakes recipe from Cooks Illustrated and did a little tweaking. An extra splash of vanilla extract here and some lemon zest there –heavenly!

Blackberry-Banana Pancakes

And don’t hesitate to make a double batch! Pancakes freeze quite well –just place a piece of wax paper between each cake and throw them into resealable freezer bags. You can have a pile o’ pancakes whenever your heart desires.

Or your tummy.

But really, aren’t they the same thing? :)

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Blackberry-Banana Pancakes
Makes approximately 16 pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup fresh blackberries, sliced
2 cups sliced bananas
vegetable oil
Serve with butter, extra fruit, and maple syrup

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk milk, and melted butter. Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk gently just until combined. The batter will be quite lumpy.

Heat about 1 teaspoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Once the oil starts shimmering, use paper towels to wipe the pan so only a thin, even coating of oil covers the bottom and sides. Use a ¼ cup measure to portion the batter and pour into the center of the pan. Top each pancake with a layer of blackberries and sliced bananas, gently pressing them into the batter. Cook on the first side until the edges are set and bubbles form on the surface, about 1-2 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the pancakes and cook for 1-2 minutes on the second side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Repeat with remaining batter, more oil to the pan if necessary. Serve pancakes with tabs of butter, additional fruit and maple syrup.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Guinness Braised Pot Roast… Sláinte!

Guinness Braised Pot Roast

Hiccup!

Oh! Excuse me!

Hiccup! Burp! *blush*

Guinness Braised Pot Roast

Sorry Gang….I’ve spent the past weekend tinkering around the kitchen with Guinness. I HAD to because today is St. Patrick’s Day and I just couldn’t let y’all down. I needed to share something so deliciously wonderful —that was of course, made with Guinness.

Guinness Braised Pot Roast

But what was I to make with the thick, wonderfully rich and chocolatey stout?

Tacos? Ribs?

So many options yet so few hours in a weekend.

And finally, despite the crazy 90 degree heat wave we were having in San Diego, I cranked on the oven to make pot roast.

I figured the sauna-like environment I had created would let me sweat off at least 10 pounds.

Win-Nguyen situation.

Guinness Braised Pot Roast

I settled with a fairly straight-forward method for the pot roast. Quick sear of the beef, browning of aromatics, added some liquid and then braised it all in a dutch oven for a few hours.

But the kicker?

Guinness Braised Pot Roast

The GUINNESS of course! Plus, the coriander seeds with tomatoes added another level to the flavors that were then punched up with brightness by the fresh parsley and lemon zest to finish it all off.

Guinness Braised Pot Roast

Serve it with mashed potatoes, parsnip puree, polenta –heck, or even as a sammich’! SOOO GOOD!

Guinness Braised Pot Roast

And with that dear friends, have a HAPPY ST.PATRICK’S DAY! Sláinte!

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Guinness Braised Pot Roast
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

 

1 beef chuck roast (approximately 3-4lbs.) trimmed and cleaned
black pepper
kosher salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced white onion
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
3 cups Guinness or other Stout of your choice
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
8-10 sprigs fresh parsley
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3-4 dried bay leaves
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
zest of one lemon

Heavily season the beef with kosher salt and black pepper. Roll the chuck roast in flour and dust off any excess. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy bottom pot that is oven proof over. Once the oil reaches medium heat, sear each side of the beef until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes each side. Once browned, remove the beef to a large plate.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pot. Add the celery, carrots, and onions and cook over medium heat until softened but not browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, can of tomatoes with its juices and bring to a simmer. Pour in the Guinness (or other Stout) and allow the liquids to come to a boil.

While the liquids come to temperature, take kitchen twine and tie the thyme and parsley together into a small bundle. Create a sachet with a small piece of cheese cloth and place the black peppercorns, coriander seeds and bay leaves in the center. Bring the corners of the cheese cloth together and use additional kitchen twine to tie the sachet together.

Once the liquids in the pot have come to a boil, place the beef roast back in along with the bundle of herbs and sachet of spices. Allow the liquids to come back to a boil, cover the pot with an oven proof lid and place into a preheated 300 degree F oven. Cook the beef for 3-3½ hours until the meat is fork tender.

Carefully remove the roast to a large plate and cover with foil. Remove and discard the bundle of herbs and sachet of spices. Skim off and discard as much oil/fat from the surface of the vegetables. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until it becomes a fairly smooth sauce. Taste and adjust with additional salt or pepper as needed. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a standard blender or food processor.

Slice the beef – it should be very tender and could be pulled apart with forks. Plate the beef and spoon the sauce over it. Top the beef with chopped parsley and lemon zest. Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta, etc. Enjoy!

 

Spring Skillet Pizza Pie for π (PI) Day!

Spring Skillet Pizza Pie

Happy 3.14159 Day…..

otherwise known as π (Pi) DAY!

Spring Skillet Pizza Pie

This morning, my Twitter and IG feed have been filled with gorgeous berry, apple, and chocolate pies as my foodie friends around the world celebrate π Day. And it’s makin’ me HUNGRY!

But this year, I decided to lean towards the savory route again for π Day and this time, we went the Pizza Pie route!

Spring Skillet Pizza Pie

Since spring is just a few days away, I opted for colorful and light veggies for toppings. We started off with a base of EVOO, garlic, thyme, fresh mozzarella and then went to town on all the beautiful produce in reach. Mixed color peppers, artichokes, grape tomatoes, thin asparagus tips and arugula jumped out to me but really, use anything that tickles your fancy. The whole pi(e) was then drizzled with a sweet, tart balsamic reduction.

HOLY PI(E), BATMAN!

Did I ever mention that beautiful food geeks me out?

It also makes me dance around the kitchen….but that’s a story for another time.

Spring Skillet Pizza Pie

As you know, I’m obsessed with making pizza pi(es) in a cast iron skillet. But if you don’t own a cast iron or want to make a larger pizza pi(e), just bake the whole thing on a hot baking sheet (or pizza stone) for 15-20 minutes in a 450 degree F oven.

There’s still plenty of time to get your π Day on and here are some ideas for ya:

And with that folks— have a gorgeous weekend and HAPPY π DAY!

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Spring Skillet Pizza
Serves 2

Ingredients:

5 ounces fresh pizza dough, rested and at room temperature
flour
½ tablespoon corn meal
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, divided
¼ cup thinly sliced red onions
¼ cup thinly sliced bell peppers
¼ pound thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
½ cup blanched asparagus
4-6 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup artichoke hearts, quartered
½ tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
sea salt
½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
fresh black pepper
2-3 pinches red chili flakes
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar reduction*
1 small handful fresh arugula leaves

Turn on the oven broiler and adjust one of the racks to the top of the oven to rest directly under the broiler. Place a seasoned cast iron skillet (10-12 inches in diameter) directly under the broiler for 8-10 minutes. It may begin to smoke but you need the skillet to be screaming hot.

While the skillet is heating, roll out the pizza dough onto a floured surface–you’ll want it a tad smaller than the width of your skillet. If you have a pizza peal, sprinkle it with cornmeal and transfer the pizza dough onto it. If not, you can also use a wooden cutting board.

Brush the olive oil over the dough and sprinkle the garlic and ½ the thyme leaves over it. Quickly top with the red onions, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, asparagus, tomatoes and artichoke. Once the skillet has heated for the appropriate length of time, quickly and CAREFULLY slide the pizza into the skillet. Replace the skillet so it sits directly underneath the broiler.

Close the oven door and allow the pizza to cook for about 45-60 seconds. Open the oven door and rotate the skillet 180 degrees. Close the door and allow another 60-90 seconds underneath the broiler. Once the crust is slightly charred and cheese has melted, CAREFULLY remove the skillet from the oven and place it on a rack for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese, remaining thyme leaves, sea salt, lemon zest, black pepper, and chili flakes. Drizzle the balsamic reduction and top with the arugula leaves. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, slice up and enjoy!

*To make the balsamic reduction, combine 1 cup balsamic vinegar, ½ tablespoon sugar and 2 pinches of red chili flakes to a small sauce main. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low. Continue stirring and cooking until the liquids have reduced by half and take on a thick, syrup consistency—about 10 minutes. Be sure to watch the reduction closely as it can burn quickly. Transfer to a container and allow to cool completely.

Down and Dirty Breakfast Fries

Down & Dirty Breakfast Fries

Sometimes a gal has got to throw frou-frou out the door and just get down and dirty….. for breakfast that is.

I’m talking about turning to premade pantry items that can be thrown together in about 15 minutes to create a gritty, gut bomb breakfast. Something so darn good that you should actually feel a tinge bad about inhaling.

But don’t…. in fact, I’ll like you more for it.

Down & Dirty Breakfast Fries

C’mon now... we’re talking fries with a runny egg. It’s a no brainer.

If you’re aiming for extra credit, you could go the extra mile to fry up your own potatoes and pull together homemade salsa. Heck, I usually would but this dish is all about channeling your old 3am college days. And y’all know I’m not a morning person so the AM is my perfect “out” for taking shortcuts. No guilt here :)

Happy Sunday FUN-Day everyone!

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Down and Dirty Breakfast Fries
Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked frozen french fries (or homemade if you want a gold start)
cooking spray
3-4 ounces breakfast sausage
1 egg
2-3 heaping tablespoons salsa
black pepper and kosher salt
chopped cilantro

Place a large piece of aluminum foil over a baking sheet. Spread the french fries in a single layer over the foil and lightly cover with cooking spray. Bake until crispy according to package decorations.

In a skillet, add the breakfast sausage and cook over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage and break into small pieces. Cook the sausage until browned and transfer to a plate. Take a paper towel to wipe out the majority of the grease left from the sausage. Return the skillet to the stove over medium low heat.

Crack the egg into the skillet and fry it until the yolk has just set. Plate the baked fries onto a dish and top with the browned sausage, salsa and then fried egg. Add a pinch or two of both pepper and salt over the egg. Sprinkle the plate with the chopped cilantro and enjoy warm.

 

 

Chinese Broccoli {Gai Lan} with Oyster Sauce

Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

We went CRAY.

Four days with the Fam Bam celebrating Tết, my adorable niece Kaelani’s first trip to Southern Cali, and our monthly Sunday Family Dinner.

Yup…it was crazy and also delicious.

But really, that’s how my family (both immediate and HUGE extended) have always celebrated with each other. Through the process of cooking, eating and sharing our specialty dishes – we reminisce on old memories, loved ones who are no longer with us and just laugh…A LOT.

And since I indulged a bit much during the festivities, it’s time to add a bit more greens and light proteins back into the daily regiment. Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce is a quick and satisfying way to get those dark greens in and can be done in just a few minutes. Gai Lan is also known as Chinese Broccoli and incidentally, is eaten during the Lunar New Year for luck.

And although it has nothing to do with gai lan, you better believe I had to include pics of our little Kaelani Simone. WE’RE SMITTEN!  <3

Kaelani

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Chinese Broccoli {Gai Lan} with Oyster Sauce
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced ginger
1 pound Chinese broccoli, washed and trimmed
½ cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 15 seconds. Add in the broccoli and cook for 1 minute before pouring in the vegetable stock. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Transfer the broccoli to a plate.

In a small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of the liquids from the wok with the oyster sauce, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Drizzle the sauce over the broccoli and serve warm.

Indonesian Corn Fritters with Tamarind Chili Sauce

Indonesian Corn Fritters

The Oscars are tomorrow night and I have to admit, I just LOVE them. The glitz, the glam–I can’t help but be swept away in the spirit of the Old Hollywood Glam.

Sure, I haven’t watched all of the top nominated films but the event is the perfect excuse for a fun
“girls night in” filled with lots of cocktails and delish little bites. A  charcuterie board and other finger foods are the perfect accompaniment to a night of gorgeous gowns while my gal pals and I catch up on latest celebrity gossip.

Indonesian Corn Fritters

For my most recent contribution to the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I wanted to make something easy to whip together while unique enough to impress your Oscar going friends. These Indonesian style Corn Fritters are the exact thing and are spiced with South East Asian flavors like Thai chilies, Kaffir lime leaves and turmeric. With just barely enough “batter” to hold the kernels together, the sweet corn definitely is the star especially when dunked into a mixture of Tamarind Chili Sauce and Sriracha.

Indonesian Corn Fritters

Since it is the Academy Awards, I’d recommend serving them with a bright, refreshing cocktail like a Paloma or Blood Orange Margarita– though a chilled glass of champagne would be fab as well.

Much thanks to our friends at Safest Choice™ and to learn more about them and their pasteurization process to eliminate salmonella, please click here.

Enjoy Oscar Night!
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Indonesian Corn Fritters with Tamarind Chili Sauce
Makes approximately 16 fritters

Ingredients:

Sauce:
3 tablespoons tamarind juice concentrate
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon warm water
½ tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Thai bird chile, minced finely
1 teaspoon Sambal chili paste

Fritters:
2 large fresh whole corn cobs (about 3 heaping cups of corn kernels)
¼ cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 scallions, chopped (more for garnish)
2-3 Thai bird chilies, minced (depending on your heat preference)
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves (more for garnish)
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs, beaten
¼ cup rice flour
vegetable oil
sea salt
lime wedges
Sriracha sauce

Prepare the sauce. In a bowl, whisk together all the items and refrigerate until serving.

Stand one ear of corn vertically on a cutting board or in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut down the sides of the corn to remove the kernels. Repeat with the remaining ear of corn.

In a large bowl, mix the first 13 ingredients together. Stir in the beaten eggs and rice flour until just combined. The batter will be minimal and just barely hold the corn and aromatics together.

Take a large cast iron skillet or other heavy bottom pan and pour in oil until it reaches about ½ – ¾ inch up the side of the pan. Allow the oil to come up to medium heat. Carefully place large spoonfuls of the corn mixture in the skillet – avoid having the fritters touch each other. Fry the fritters for about 2 minutes on each side until they reach a deep, golden color. Take caution while frying as the corn kernels may splatter a bit during the frying process. I like to place an inexpensive mesh splatter screen over the skillet while frying. Once done, remove the fritters from the oil and briefly drain on paper towel lined plates. Sprinkle each fritter with a few pinches of sea salt while they’re still warm and garnish with additional chopped scallions and cilantro.

Serve the fritters warm with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, Sriracha and tamarind chili sauce.

 

NPE_DarlingDozenBadges

*DISCLOSURE: As a brand ambassador for the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I was compensated for the creation of this recipe and post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.*

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm for Tết – {Vietnamese Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}

Well gang…in true Nam form, I’ve waited to the last minute to finish scrubbing down my house. And I need to get my act together because tomorrow is the beginning of Tết - the Lunar New Year!

Will I ever learn??

Doubt it.….

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
But hey — I get points for having the majority of mi casa scrubbed down, lì xì (lucky money in red envelopes) all ready, ancestral altar is up and Bella got a bath. It’ll be a mad rush over the next few hours but it’s Tết and it needs to be done to optimize my luck for the year. I don’t like to gamble with bad ju-ju…especially since the Year of the Sheep (or Ram) is predicted to be a good one for me.

THANK BUDDHA!

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
It’s going to be a crazy time with the family and I’ll be headed up to Orange County in a day to begin the shenanigans with them. Lots of food, lots of booze, loud talking (we’re not arguing–we just speak HELLA loud), lots of kids, lots of games and if all goes well, a lot of luck and prosperity for my o’hana.

Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
To celebrate Tết, I wanted to share my Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm which is sticky rice served with Vietnamese style fried chicken (aka…marinaded in fish sauce). It’s not a traditional Tết dish but it’s so darn good! Fried chicken swathed in a sticky, sweet, salty and spicy sauce –everything that speaks to the Vietnamese palette. Couple it with sticky glutinous rice and it’s HEAVEN!

So to you my dear friends, Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!! Wishing you all an extremely fulfilling, prosperous, joy filled, healthy and delicious Year of the Sheep!!!

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Xôi Gà Chiên Nước Mắm {Vietnamese-Style Fried Chicken with Sticky Rice}
Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

½ cup fish sauce (I use Việt Hương Three Crabs or Red Boat)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup warm water
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced ginger
3 – 4 Thai chilies, minced (more if you prefer)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon black pepper
2½ – 3 pounds chicken, bone-in and skin-on (I prefer drumsticks and thighs)
2 cups sweet glutinous rice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
peanut oil (you can substitute with vegetable oil if need be)
1 cup rice flour
½ cup all purpose flour
garnish: toasted sesame seeds, minced chilies, chopped scallions and chopped cilantro

In a bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, sugar, water, shallots, garlic, ginger, chilies and black pepper. Pour the marinade into large gallon Ziploc bags- you may need more than one depending on the size of the chicken. Rinse the chicken under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken inside the Ziploc bags. Massage the chicken in the marinade and try to get most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. Put the bag(s) of chicken in a large bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

While the chicken marinates, prepare the sticky rice. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Fill a large bowl with cool water, add the rice and soak it for about 2-3 hours. Drain the water and place the soaked rice in a rice cooker. Fill the cook with about 2/3 inch of water. Stir in the salt and cook according to the settings of your rice cooker. Alternatively, you can use a bamboo steamer and follow my directions posted here

An hour before you start cooking the chicken, pull it from the refrigerator to take the chill off of it. Pour the marinade into a small sauce pan and set aside. Fill a large, heavy bottom pot with about 2-3 inches of the oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

Take the chicken and use paper towels to blot off the excess moisture. In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and all-purpose flour.

After the oil comes to temperature take a few pieces of chicken at a time and roll it into the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and carefully place the pieces into the oil –being careful to not overcrowd the pot. Depending on the size of the chicken, allow the pieces to fry for 10-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Once done, allow the chicken to drain on a wire rack. Continue dredging and frying until all the chicken has been cooked.

While the chicken is frying, cook the marinade over medium-low heat until it reduces by half. Toss the fried chicken into the reduced marinade. Plate with a portion of sticky rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, minced chilies, chopped scallions and chopped cilantro. Serve warm.