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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Travel Adventure: San Francisco Eats

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

For today's special post, I wanted to recap some of the places I went to when I visited my friends J and V up in San Fran over the summer. The summer!? Yes, the summer! I know, I know... this post is long overdue, but I really wanted to set time aside to truly dedicate my posts to the wonderful city and all the fun (and tasty!) times I had. I'm going to be breaking down my visit into a series of posts. Be sure to check out my Travel Adventure: San Francisco Sights and Travel Adventure: San Francisco Sweets too!

So on with SF Adventure Eats recap!

BLONDIE'S PIZZA
63 Powell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Blondie's Pizza
This place was recommended to me by my lab partner E. When I first walked in, there were a few customers ahead of me, but after I got my order, the place was packed! It didn't really make sense to me because it was 4pm! Maybe it was the late afternoon snack/pre-dinner rush?
Blondie's Pizza - BBQ Chicken Pizza
I had a slice of the BBQ Chicken, which was their Daily Special, for $3.75. It had mushrooms, onions, green and red bell peppers, chicken and BBQ sauce. Honestly, I thought it was just okay. I've had better BBQ chicken pizza before. I think maybe there was just too much going on for my taste so the flavors didn't meld as well as I had hoped.

IKE'S PLACE
3489 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
Ike's Place
Ike's Place is this crazy sandwich place with a menu that can make some laugh and others blush! Check it out for yourself!
Ike's Place Menu
It was packed with Berkeley students when my Big N and I went, but the cashier was super friendly and patient. She asked if it was our first time and offered helpful recommendations. If you actually check out their menu on their website (http://www.ilikeikesplace.com/menu), you can order off-the-menu items. They all sound so delicious!
Ike's Place - Menage A Trios $11.11
I ordered the "Menage a Trois" on Dutch Crunch bread, one of their most popular sandwiches. It had halal chicken, real honey, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, pepper jack, swiss, and cheddar. Delicious! It was a little too sweet and very messy (juices were dripping everywhere!), but it was so good. I really loved the Dutch Crunch bread. It had a crunchy crust but was soft and chewy inside. If you know of any places that have it in LA, please let me know!
Ike's Place - We're Just Friends $9.99
N got the "We're Just Friends" also on Dutch Crunch. It had halal chicken, orange glaze, avocado, and pepper jack. It tasted really similar to mine, but with avocado. It was sweet, but not as sweet as the Menage and it definitely wasn't as messy. Both sandwiches were really good. I slightly prefer the We're Just Friends just cause it didn't leave my hands covered in BBQ juices.

Ike's Place has been added to my list of favorite sandwich places! I wish we had one closer to home! Just a word to the wise, Ike's doesn't have tables inside - just an area for waiting - so N and I went to a nearby park and had ourselves a picnic.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cooking Adventure: Home Improvement - Chipped Beef on Toast (aka S.O.S.)

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we? I'm a 90's kid. Full House, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tamagotchis, Tag, Sailor Moon, Captain Planet, Beanie Babies, Duck Tales, Steve Urkel, Bobby's World, Nintendo 64, Animaniacs, Pogs, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, only 150 Pokemon.. I could go on and on!

So why exactly are we stepping down this road of nostalgia? Well, before the show Last Man Standing, Tim Allen played the father figure in another popular TV sitcom, Home Improvement. It was a show about a tool-loving, hot rod-building, accident-prone manly man and his family and friends. One of my favorite episodes was when Tim and Jill (his wife) visited a Marine Corps base and had a tank driving competition. Jill, who grew up in an Army family, creamed Tim's erratic, golf cart-crushing butt. Rather than owning up to his terrible tank driving skills, Tim blamed Jill for humiliating him on the course. Of course, after speaking to Wilson (their wise, eccentric neighbor), Tim realized he was being a jerk and in the end, congratulated Jill for driving her tank so well.
Home Improvement - Tim and Jill eating Chipped Beef on Toast
I distinctly remember in this episode that Jill and Tim eat Chipped Beef on Toast while on the base. As a kid, I had no idea what it was or how to find a recipe for it, but the way Jill fondly referred to it and the comment Tim made about its unappealing appearance had me intrigued.
Home Improvement - Jill looking fondly at her Chipped Beef on Toast
Today (over a decade after the episodes originally aired!), I have the internet and Google at my disposal so after a bit of searching, I found that Chipped Beef on Toast was a traditional Army dish. It also goes by the name "S.O.S." or "Sh*t on a Shingle." The dish seemed simple enough - a bechamel sauce with chipped beef served on top of toast - so I decided to have a nostalgic culinary adventure that would satiate my 90's self.
Armour Dried Beef
First, I had to find myself some dried beef. I found Armour brand dried beef at my local Walmart so I settled for that. I thought it was a twist top like normal jars, but you actually have to pop the top with bottle opener.
Chopped Chipped Beef
The dried beef comes in thin slices so I chopped it up into diamond "chips." It's very salty right out of the jar so you need to soak or rinse the beef to re-hydrate it and get rid of some of the excess salt. It's always easier to add salt to a dish, but nearly impossible to save it if it's too salty.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe so you, too, can go down memory lane (assuming you were a 90's kid like me or grew up with a military background like Jill)!
Chipped Beef on Toast (S.O.S.)
CHIPPED BEEF ON TOAST (S.O.S.)
Yield: about 3-4 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 jar dried beef, diced or sliced
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, cold
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 3-4 slices of bread, toasted
Directions
  1. Cut dried beef into slices or "chips" and soak or rinse with cold water to remove excess salt.
  2. Melt butter over medium-low heat.
  3. Whisk in flour to form a roux. Cook flour until it smells fragrant and nutty (almost like fresh baked pastry dough).
  4. Gradually whisk in cold milk. Turn heat to medium-high and stir sauce until thickened.
  5. Drain the dried beef and stir into sauce.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Spoon and serve on top of toast.
This Chipped Beef on Toast was fairly simple and straight forward. The sauce was buttery and rich, but seemed a little one-noted. I tried it both on honey wheat bread and rye bread and prefer it on rye. To spice it up, I would add some cayenne or paprika next time. I would also add some sauteed onion to add another dimension and more complexity to the sauce. But overall, this was a fun trip down memory lane. I can see how chipped beef would be comfort food for Jill. My inner 90's kid self would probably agree.

Until the next adventure...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Baking Adventure: How to Make Fish-shaped Rolls

I recently made District 4 Bread, which is fish-shaped bread from The Hunger Games. Here is how I formed my fish-shaped rolls.
Fish-shaped Rolls from The Hunger Games (District 4 Bread)
How to Make Fish-shaped Rolls
  1. Prepare bread dough according to recipe.
  2. Divide dough into equal pieces.
  3. Form dough piece into an oval.
  4. Visually divide the oval into thirds.
  5. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch the dough so that the oval is divided into a 1/3 section and a 2/3 section. 
  6. Use kitchen shears to cut the 1/3 section in half to create the tail.
  7. Place onto parchment-lined baking sheet and adjust dough to desired shape.
  8. Bake according to recipe directions.
It's pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Good luck!

Baking Adventure: The Hunger Games - District 4 Bread

With The Hunger Games movie coming out next month, I just couldn't resist getting my Hunger Games fix by baking another district bread from the world of Panem! (You can also check out my rendition of District 11 Bread!) District 4's bread is described as salty, tinged green with seaweed, and fish-shaped.
The Hunger Games - District 4 Bread
For this bread, I debated over which type of seaweed to use. Nori... aonori... wakame... kombu... I didn't even realize how many different types of seaweed there were until I made this bread! If only Finnick were here to help me... But anyway! I ultimately settled on wakame, bought from my local Asian supermarket.
Cut Wakame Seaweed
I measured out about 1/3 cup of dried wakame and re-hydrated it for 20 minutes.
Dried Wakame Seaweed
Look how it expanded!
Re-hydrated Wakame Seaweed
I squeezed out some of the excess water and diced it into more manageable pieces.
Diced Wakame Seaweed
In the end, 1/3 cup of dried wakame was waaay too much for my recipe. I only used about 3/4 cup of the re-hydrated, diced wakame and still had about 1/2 a cup left over! (In case you were wondering, I used the leftover for soup.)

But enough about the seaweed! On to the bread!
The Hunger Games - District 4 Bread
THE HUNGER GAMES: DISTRICT 4 BREAD
Yield: approx. 8 fish-shaped rolls

Ingredients
  • 1 cup water (heated to 110 degrees F)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup diced, re-hydrated wakame seaweed
  • 1 egg (beaten for egg wash)
  • sea salt (for garnish)
 Directions
  1. Proof the yeast by mixing 1/4 cup of warmed water, white sugar, and yeast. If it foams and doubles in volume in 10 minutes, you know your yeast is active.
  2. Mix flour, salt, remaining water, and proofed yeast.
  3. Knead the dough until soft and elastic, adding oil one Tablespoon at a time. Add additional flour as needed.
  4. Knead in the wakame until evenly incorporated in the dough.
  5. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in volume (about 1 hour).
  6. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Punch down the dough.
  8. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces.
  9. Shape each dough piece into a fish shape. (See How to Make Fish-shaped Rolls for detailed instructions.)
  10. Cover the fish rolls with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
  11. Coat each fish with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt.
  12. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown, rotating baking trays half way through.
The Hunger Games - District 4 Bread (inside)
The sea salt on the outside, chewy inside, and the crunchy crust reminded me of a pretzel, which was what I was going for! The wakame added a hint of "ocean-y-ness" to it, but wasn't overpowering. Also, my yeast was old (but still active!) so there was a hint of sourness to the dough. I considered using the water from reconstituting the wakame (since it was green and would have added a more noticeable green tinge), but decided against it because I was scared it would cause the bread taste too fishy. If you try it though, let me know how it tastes! I imagine that Finnick and the rest of District 4 would eat bread that's more fishy, but for people not accustomed to the taste of seaweed, my rendition would be a good introduction to seaweed. I also considered using some wheat flour in the bread, but since District 4 has Career tributes, I figured they could afford to use all white flour in their district bread. Overall, I am quite happy with my District 4 Bread! I can't wait for the Games to begin!

Friday, February 3, 2012

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