Sunday, July 31, 2005


For a late brunch today, we had pancakes. But not your ordinary everyday pancakes, not even yummy buttermilk pancakes, but...buttermilk pumpkin pancakes! If you don't like pumpkin pie, you probably won't care for these, but if you like pumpkin pie, it is like eating little pumpkins pies for breakfast. Especially if you serve them with whip cream in a can!

They are a little bit of work, so if you are not an early bird with a clear mind, you might want to plan ahead.


For approximately 12-16 pancakes

1 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
3 TB Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp ground clove, 1/4 fresh grated nutmeg)
3/4 tsp Salt
1 1/3 milk (half regular/half buttermilk, or all regular, or all buttermilk)
1 cup Canned Pureed Pumpkin
4 large Eggs, seperated
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

Whisk together in a large bowl; flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt

In a seperate large bowl, blend together; milk, pumpkin, egg yolks (reserve whites), melted butter and vanilla.

Stir together the two mixtures by pouring the wet into the dry, this will help prevent lumps.

Set this aside and whip the egg whites into a frothy mixture. If you have a beater, you can go to soft peaks, but you don't have to go the whole way. Fold into the large bowl of batter.

Preheat a large skillet or griddle to medium. Lightly coat with vegetable oil or butter. Using a 1/3 cup measure, pour batter, leaving room between each pancake. Your first batch, may be a sacrifice. When golden brown and bubbles are forming, flip. If you are making alot of pancakes and want to serve them all at once, put on a platter and keep in a warm oven, about 200-250 degrees.

If you have extras, they can be frozen. Place small sheet of wax paper between each and bundle them according to serving size, two, three or four. Thaw in the microwave or oven.

Serve with butter, syrup, whipped cream...if you want. They may be good with just a little touch of butter! Regardless, they are good. Filling, but not super heavy! The whipped egg whites help keep them light and airy.

Notes: I made this recipe from about three different ones I found online. The quantity should be about a dozen or so. If you want to make about two dozen, you do not need to fully double the recipe. Here are the abbreviated amounts of ingredients that I used and I made 26.

2 cups flour
4 1/2 TBS sugar
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp spices (3/4 of each, cinn. & ginger, plus 1/4 clove and nutmeg)
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk (1 cup of regular and buttermilk, each)
1 1/2 cup pumpkin (1 full 15 oz can.)
6 eggs
3/4 stick of butter
2 tsp vanilla



Thursday, July 28, 2005

Updates Updates Updates

Sorry for the lack of updates over the past days. Without rubbing it in, I was in sunny San Diego and enjoying all the lovely weather! But more on that in a minute, because I do want to talk about the food and wine experiences of souther California and Baja California, Mexico.

But first....

The last post was on July 14. That post related to spices and ordering fancy ones from catalogs and websites. I later ordered 5 different spices from nirmala's kitchen.

Australian Wattle Seed (ground)
Penang Satay Blend
Zanzibar Cheromula
Australian Lemon Myrtle (ground)
Australian Bush Tomato (ground)

I've sort of used three of them so far.

Australia Wattle Seed, I've used as a flavoring for ice cream. Very tasty. Dark coffee flavor without the caffeine. I suppose it could be a substitute.

Penang Satay Blend, I used as a flavoring for boneless skinless chicken breasts. Really tasted like chicken satay from a Thai place. Yum. But the next time I make it, I will use it as a flavoring for the chicken and a sauce with peppers, tomatoes and basil...Can't wait.

Bush Tomato, this is the "sort of" that I used. I used some in a risotto I made, but I was very conservative and didn't use very much, so I couldn't taste to much. The label said it had a taste similiar to sun dried tomatoes. I'll try it again.

The other two spices I haven't tried yet. Will let you know when I do.

OK, San Diego/Southern California

What a lovely time. The first day there, Becca drove us around, up and down the beaches from Oceanside, about 30 miles north of San Diego, to San Diego. We stopped at one place that was perched up on top of a moutain and looked out over the ocean. It was a pretty damn cool.

We all had beers and ordered tasty fried chimichungas (sp). They were really good. Nothing out of the ordinary, but really good. What was extra ordinary, in my opinion, the salsa. It was sort of a roasted salsa and had oregano in it. I kept eating it and eating it! Yum. I can't remember exactly where it was, but it was CABA GRILL. Maybe Becca will remind us where it was, in case you go to San Diego.

On Friday night, we headed to the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego, the gay ghetto. We went to a Thai food place and it was all really tasty again. I ordered some fat spicy noodles with chicken and basil and this yummy sauce. I was too busy eating mine to try anyone elses. And affordable. Good times. TASTE OF THAI (527 University Avenue, San Diego, CA). Becca says that that neighborhood has like 17 Thai restaurants, which means the competition will be strong and force them each to provide a better product and this place delivered. And good ambiance as well.

After dinner, we walked for like 100 miles to BAJA BETTY'S (1421 University Avenue, San Diego, CA). OK, it was a few blocks, not bad at all, but I had to pee!!! Betty's is a gay bar/restaurant, that was opened buy the people who opened the local Hamburger Mary's. Good times here. Great Margaritas and a story we'll talk about for ages! Short story, very drunk waiter who was not working out, completely making out with another man. Neither very pretty. Drunky had the underwear ripped off of him and his shorts were down his crack half way...pardon the bluntness...but ewwww...and other drunky, kept sticking his hand further down....while we're drinking...what about the poor fools who were eating?!?!?!? But a fun place none-the-less.

The rest of the time in San Diego, we ate at McDonald's...cause we were always driving...not really, but it seemed like it...the driving and McD's.

We went to LA for the weekend and had a great time there. The best part of LA was staying with Jason's cousin and his partner (Jim and David). They live in the valley, near Studio City in this swank pad! Loved it, The kitchen was too die for! That night we went out to OUT TAKE BISTRO (11929 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA) for dinner. YUM YUM YUM! This food was great. Italian fare, reasonably priced, awesome ambiance. I had a smoked turkey ravioli with a tomatillo sauce. WOW! The ravioli were superb and perfectly cooked, the tomatillo sauce was awesome, really sweet, a great balance to the turkey. Jason had pumpkin ravioli with a butter sage or cream sage make your knees shudder! Becca had roasted chicken with risotto. Perfect. Jason's cousin, Jim, had buckwheat noodles with something, I can't remember....also very awesome. David had the same as I.

We had ordered this appetizer that was basically perogies with carmelized onions and creme fraiche. Awesome. Then mixed green salad with a miso dressing. Tasty. Tasty. Tasty.

The restaurant allowed Jim and David to bring in wine, so we had three bottles, Sterling Chardonnay, from Napa, two bottles of that. And a red, I didn't have it, so I can't comment. Sterling was good.

We did have to have dessert. Ordered one creme brulee. It was perfectly flavored, with a perfect crunchy top. But, the texture was a bit soft, it didn't really hold it's shape, was like a really soft pudding. But as I said, great flavor.


For breakfast we went to GOOD NEIGHBORS down the highway a bit. Standard diner fare. Good times.

On Monday, yes, we went to Mexico and yes, it was only Tijuna, but what fun. We drank lots and Becca and I did a shot of tequila. We drank and ate at Iguana-Rana's Bar & Grill. Basically the TJIFridays of Mexico. But the food was filling and the beers were very cold!

This was the food part of the trip. At least the highlights.

Now, the wine part.

On the first full day, we drove to Temecula, CA. This is a major wine producing area of southern California. There are probably 20+ wineries in Temecula Valley. We visited three. And we bought and spent too much the whole time, but it was worth it!

The first place we stopped: Churon Winery
We tasted 6 wines at this place. Our favorites were, for Jason, their Chardonnay and for me, their Zinfandel.

The second stop: Maurice Car'rie Winery
Here, the tasting was free and we tried seven wines. The favorites were, for me, Sara Bella, a white cabernet was pink and sweet, but tasty. Jason-Muscat Canelli

The third stop: Ponte Family Winery.
We were sent here from Maurice Car'rie to try their reds, which were sweeter. Here, I got a bottle of Pinot Grigio and Jason got a really sweet white, named after one of the daugthers-Isabel.

I can't remember enough about the wines now, so we'll deal with that late. However, each winery was unique. And I'm going to see what I can say about it. Churon was also a bed & breakfast. Larger tasting room and good amount of gifts. We were the only ones there for sometime. Maurice was hoping and packed. The tasting area was small with good gifts. Ponte was huge by comparison. Large number of people, huge gift shop, as well as a restaurant. Maurice had wines I liked the most. Ponte had wines that more traditionally aligned with what I think of California wines. Churon was sort of middle of the road for me.

The experience was awesome. We wanted to go to another winery, but at that point, we were nearly drunk! Maybe lunch in between one and two or something. We finally got some fried pita chips at Ponte, otherwise I think we would have crashed!!

You can buy wines from Maurice and Ponte. The only way to get Churon wines is to join their wine club.

We'll post more on the wines as we drink them.

It's great to be back home, but I would go back in a heartbeat!


Thursday, July 14, 2005


There is an article in today's New York Times' online edition. The story will probably be available for two weeks or so before you would need to retrieve it from their archives. It is a brief story of a woman who started her own spice company. From the article and from the woman's website, I feel like I can start to smell and taste these exotic flavors. Makes me think about the journey of man and how hundreds of years ago humans were drawn to these, driven by the desire to bring back the luscious and decadent herbs and spices that would transform the ordinary to the sublime! I highly encourage you to take a moment to read the Time's article and then visit the woman's website. I'm sure I'll be ordering some canisters of spices in a few weeks. The one I'm most interested, is the Australian Wattle Seed.

There are also recipes on the website for use with these herbs and spices. If you try anything, or buy anything, let me know. I'll do the same. Specifically the Wattle Seed Creme Brulee. WOOF!

New York Times article: For The Spice Rack That Has Everything
I might repost the article later, so that future blog readers will have easy access. If I do, I'll change the link.

nirmala's kitchen: BRING HOME THE EXOTIC


Monday, July 11, 2005

Simple Char-Grilled Tex-Mex

Last week I received my newest issue of FINE COOKING. I love this magazine and try to make something from it right away. With the evening schedule on the DL tonight, I went to Giant to get what I needed for this delight! Yum. BTW: Giant had Breyers ice cream, 2 for 1!

This dish is really one, but two recipes.

Sirloin Tacos with Roasted Tomato Salsa

Sirloin Tacos
serves 8

Serve these with the roasted tomato salsa (below) as well as chopped lettuce, cilantro, sour cream and your other favorite taco condiments.

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon granulated garlic
1 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick
package (10-16) of small tortillas, corn or flour

In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, garlic, pepper and thyme; blend well. sprinkle both sides of the steak with the dry rub and then rub it in. Let the meat sit for half an hour at room temperature.

To cook it: The recipe calls for grilling it. If you have a grill, do that. We used a grill pan. If you have one, use it. If you have a fry pan, use that. Cook about 5 minutes on each side for medium. Adjust from there.

When done, allow to rest for five to ten minutes before slicing into thin strips.

Serve with warm tortillas, fixin's and roasted tomato salsa.

Roasted Tomato Salsa
yields about 2 cups

Serranos are generally hotter than jalapenos, but they are also smaller, so you can use either, in the same quantity.

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 lime, juiced
6 medium Roma tomatoes
1-2 Jalapeno peppers
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 cup, coarsely chopped cilantro, fresh
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

In a small bowl, rinse onions in cool water. This will pull out some of the bitter/sharp taste of the raw yellow onion. Drain. Mix with lime juice and set aside.

In a dry, heavy skillet (cast iron if you have it) over high heat, "roast" the tomatoes, chiles and garlic until charred on all sides. 2-5 minutes for the garlic, 8-10 for the chiles, 12-15 for the tomatoes. When done, whirl it all up in a food processor until well chopped, but slightly chunky--like me! Transfer to the bowl of onions, mix and taste. Add more lime juice or salt to taste.

NOTES: I halved both recipes for us. 1 pound of meat. 3 tomatoes, 1 jalapeno, 1/4 of an onion...all was really good. There was no cilantro at the store, so I didn't was great without it. We figure this would be a great recipe for entertaining...I'm sure we will do it for our meat eater guests!

UPDATE: See a photo of this when I served it at home 2/10/06.