Making Life a Little Sweeter

Taking a quick break from posting about my own cooking to shine the spotlight on one of the best french toasts I’ve ever had.

Olea’s Challah Custard Toast with Korintji Cinnamon Sugar and Fresh Strawberries

Even with a custard filling, your first bite will be met with a warm and perfectly crunchy exterior. Inside, the custard creates a soft and delicate texture that enhances the brioche base. Overall, a really well-made toast that should be on the top of your list if looking to brunch in San Francisco.

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Avocado / Tomato / Feta Bruschetta

Ever since I bought too many avocados for our own good, I’ve naturally been on an avocado kick. We’re finally down to only two avocados in our fridge (started with…10?) thanks to this awesome bruschetta and some other recipes I’ll be posting here in the next few days.

Ingredients: Baguette (I used 4 multi-grain bread slices), Chopped Tomatoes (About 1.5 tomatoes is enough), Avocado (One avocado was good for 4 slices of bread), Feta Cheese, Minced Garlic (4 cloves), Olive Oil, Salt / Pepper

I so  wanted to make my own garlic butter (it’s really easy, just blend minced garlic and butter), but naturally, we ran out of butter at the last minute. As sad as I was, I decided our no-butter situation was probably for the best (I guess there’s enough fat in avocados anyway) and instead sauteed the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. I then brushed olive oil on each slice of bread, topped with the sauteed garlic + salt / pepper and toasted for a few minutes at fairly low heat until crunchy.

Now for the fun part. I chopped up the tomatoes and avocados and started layering them on each toasted bread slice. Avocados first, then tomatoes, topped with crumbled feta, drizzled with olive oil, and some more salt + pepper. Seriously, it is so much fun.

Carefully toast each slice for another few minutes so the feta (if you can’t already tell, feta is hands down my favorite cheese) starts to melt, and voila, you’re all set! The nice thing about this bruschetta is that you can easily adjust the seasonings and add more oil / salt / pepper if needed. Enjoy 🙂

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Spinach & Cheese Combo 1: Spanakopita

If you know me well, you know that spinach and cheese are two of my most favorite food items, and they’re even better together than apart sometimes.

Spanakopita is a spinach / cheese lover’s heaven. The flaky texture of the outer filo (also spelled “phyllo,” a thin unleavened dough used in Middle Eastern cuisine) allows one to fully indulge in the warm, soft spinach / cheese filling. I often find that the taste of inner fillings gets masked by the bread on the outside, but that’s definitely not the case with spanakopita.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make this dish. We used filo dough from Trader Joe’s (it usually comes in a rectangular box kind of like aluminum foil) and first prepared the filling. Eyeball how much spinach you’ll need (if you always have extra, it’s a tasty snack on it’s own), and sautee the spinach in olive oil with salt until cooked. Make sure you get rid of as much water as possible. Add in crumbled feta cheese to the cooked spinach and mix thoroughly. How much cheese you want to use is dependent on your personal taste!

Once your filling is ready, oil a rectangular baking pan lightly so that the dough doesn’t stick. Peel off a layer of the dough (this is probably the most difficult part) and place on the sheet. Try your best to minimize tears in the dough, but if it breaks in some places, don’t worry and just try to layer the dough as much as possible. Once you’ve got the first layer down, oil the edges and center (this time to make sure that the two layers of filo will stick together). Take another layer of filo and place on top of the oiled first layer. We stopped at two layers, but you could add more if you’d like.

Layer the filling evenly across the dough, and line two more layers of filo on top like you did before using enough oil between layers. All you’ve got to do next is place in the oven at the temperature / time requirements that are given on your box of filo (usually 40-45 mins at 375 degrees) and you’ve got a delicious eat!

[Credits to my dad for showing me the ropes]

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Papaya: The Biggest Letdown of All Fruits

I’m not one to usually try “exotic” fruit (more of an apples-oranges-grapes kind of girl), but we had some papayas at our house and I decided to give it a try. My, what a shock I was in for.

On the outside, the papaya looks beautiful. A bright orange with a bunch of black seeds when you cut into the fruit, the papaya looks like a treat from paradise. Think of a bright, sandy beach with palm trees hanging over your head as you bask in the tropical wonder.

Once you take a bite, your fantasy is destroyed, to put it lightly. How can a fruit that looks so appealing taste so disgusting? (A quick Google search will confirm that I’m not the only one who thinks papayas taste and smell like vomit)

Naturally, I did some more research and thought I’d share some interesting tidbits I found about the papaya. None of which explain the nasty taste / smell though.

  1. Young papaya fruit contains enzyme called papain. Papain has been used as a natural meat tenderizer for thousands of years. (We need to find the enyzme that kills any hope of enjoying the fruit…)
  2. Papaya seeds resemble edible pepper. They can be ground and used as a substitute for black pepper. (Without the vomit taste I hope…)
  3. A small papaya contains about 300 percent of the recommended Vitamin C per day. (And 300 percent of the recommended gross smell / taste intake per day…)
  4. In many parts of the world, unripe papaya has been used for centuries by women as a natural contraceptive and to induce abortion. (Will admit that’s pretty cool)
  5. There are two varieties of papaya, Hawaiian and Mexican. The Mexican papaya can weigh as much as ten pounds while the Hawaiian usually weighs about a pound. (I wonder if one smells better…)

Anyhow, I’ve heard that you either love papaya or can’t go near it. Looks like I’m in the latter camp. FullSizeRender-7

Real Queens Eat Pizza

Craving of the day: Spinach Goat Cheese Pizza from the Medici Cafe in Hyde Park

To start with, who doesn’t love spinach? (Watch for a future post about my love for spinach). Combine with cheese and pesto and you’ve got a winning combo.

I LOVE this pizza so much I can’t even do justice in this post. The spinach is baked under the top layer of cheese with a pesto base, which by the way, beats marinara or meat sauce any day (except when you order from Domino’s for that garlic crust mmmm). The key is to get thin-crust so you can actually enjoy more than one slice. Yeah, I know, I’ve lived in Chicago for most of the past four years and still haven’t been sold on deep dish.

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Happiness is a Warm Puppy

Happy National Dog Day to the cutest little guy I know! I so wish he was mine..but alas, it looks like I will have many years of longing, “aww”-ing at every dog I see on the street, and driving by the dog park ahead of me. Until then, Simba will have to put up with me making excuses to visit him whenever I can.

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Welcome!

I’ve tried and failed many times in the past to maintain a blog, but I decided to give it another go. Hope I can keep you entertained with my thoughts on food, art, social issues, and life. Here’s to a new beginning!