Monday, October 25, 2010


For the last five years of my life, I've had a little obsession with ice cream. It started the year I turned 17 when I spent a summer in San Francisco at art school. I didn't really spend much time paying attention in class or really making much art as I recall. When I think about San Francisco I really just remember laughing with my roommates, chasing boys, and eating good food.

shamelessly stolen from googlmaps
Between classes I usually didn't have more than an hour to find a place and eat so once I found Specialty's Cafe and Bakery I pretty much stuck to it. It was  right across the street from my Film class and in my memory it was a bakery but I don't remember them having more than cupcakes, cookies and cream sodas. Maybe because that's all I ever ate there.

also from googlemaps
Epplers Bakery is another place that stands out in my mind because they had the most delicious chocolate cake I've ever had in my life. No exaggeration needed I have yet to encounter (here five years later) another slice of cake that comes anywhere near what I tasted there. And the slices were as big as your head too. I used to get a slice on Sunday and make it last through the week. That cake was heaven, and if one day I ever make it back to San Fransisco it would be my pleasure t curl up with that cake and happily die.

Mostly though, when the sun set, the boys were chasing other girls, and I'd finished pretending to do my homework, I'd usually find a friend to go with me and wander around the corner to the Liquor Store/little quicky mart and buy some Ben & Jerry's.  It was pretty much the first time in my life that I had been anywhere that you could buy this decadent concoction. To me, little pint sized fancy ice creams were something that people ate in movies, in fact the only other place that I had ever even seen Ben & Jerry's in real life was when I was in New York for four days with my aunt (I was 15 and it was the biggest thrill of my life). And I tell you the second I saw it, I knew I had to buy it. The flavor was Pistachio Pistachio and I ate it for breakfast every single day we were there.

And now, here I was again in a big city and I swear to god this little quicky mart seemed to sell only beer, bananas and every flavor of Ben & Jerry's legally sold in the U.S. It was unreal. I remember staring at the freezer wide eyed plotting to try every single flavor before I had to leave this fattening utopia and go back home.I tried 12 flavors before I left for Nashville and later that fall, through the grace of god, my local grocery store started carrying Ben & Jerry's too. And there, that moment is when the sickness began.

At this point any time I'm anywhere outside my regular shopping area I'll check the freezer section of just about anyplace to see if they have a flavor I haven't tried yet. And like a freak of nature I have been keeping track all this time of each flavor. Which brings me to the purpose of this post. I have ladies and gentlemen reached a personal milestone, today, after trying both Pumpkin Cheesecake and Carrot Cake, I have officially tasted 50 flavors. If there was every any doubt of my foodie status, I think this display should pretty much prove my dedication.
  1. American Pie
  2. Americone Dream
  3. Banana Split
  4. Boston Cream Pie
  5. Brownie batter
  6. Carrot Cake
  7. Cherry Garcia
  8. Cherry Garcia {Body and Soul}
  9. Chocolate chip cookie dough
  10. Chocolate fudge brownie
  11. Chocolate Fudge Brownie {Body and Soul}
  12. Chocolate therapy
  13. Chubby Hubby
  14. Chunky Monkey
  15. Cinnamon Buns
  16. Coconut chocolate chunk
  17. Dave Mathews Band magic brownies
  18. Dublin Mudslide
  19. Everything but the?
  20. Fossil Fuel
  21. Fudge central
  22. Half Baked {Body and Soul}
  23. Imagine Whirled Peace
  24. In a Crunch
  25. Jamaican Me Crazy
  26. Karamel Sutra
  27. Marsha Marsha marshmallow
  28. Milk And Cookies
  29. Mint Chocolate Chunk
  30. Mint Chocolate Cookie
  31. Mud Pie
  32. Neapolitan Dynamite
  33. New York super fudge chunk
  34. Oatmeal cookie chunk
  35. One Cheesecake Brownie
  36. Peanut Butter Cup
  37. Phish food
  38. Pistachio Pistachio
  39. Pumpkin Cheesecake
  40. Strawberry Cheesecake
  41. Sweet Cream & Cookie
  42. S’mores
  43. The Gobfather
  44. Triple Caramel Chunk
  45. Turtle Soup
  46. Uncanny Cashew
  47. Vanilla
  48. Vanilla Heath bar crunch
  49. Vermonty Python
  50. Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler
I don't really know if I should be proud at this point but boys, you've stuck with me through diets, breakups, and though marathons. So Ben, Jerry, here's to another 50, it's been a wild ride.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pie In The Sky

Ever find yourself hungry and torn between ordering Chinese (thai) or Pizza? Never again will I be faced with that problem thanks to Pie in the Sky Pizza a true Nashville gem.

In fact apart from being somewhat structurally unsound I'll say the Spicy Thai Peanut pizza comes pretty close to being the perfect dish.
It even has the horrifically non-photogenic sign of a pizza made seemingly with all real ingredients ( I wasn't hanging around their kitchen so I don't know for sure)

You can get it with either chicken or shrimp (we got chicken) and it even has that little picnic table in the middle that all pizza places used to have back in the day. You remember the days when Pizza Hut had those? Before your time?Okay. Whatever
Garlic Roasted Chicken tossed in our Spicy Thai Peanut Chili Sauce with Pineapple and Chopped Celery atop Fresh Romano & Mozzarella.
This is pretty much heaven, even if you do have to eat it with a fork. Not so salty that you can't even eat it. No weird fast food bellyache afterwards. The chicken was tender and succulent like rotisserie, and had pineapple which I love so already I was ready to throw down and consummate it right there, but the Thai Peanut sauce, uuuuhhhhhhhhhhh. This sauce, I want to bathe in it, I want to eat every meal with it drizzled on top, I want to buy it a ring, have it divorce me and take all my money. This sauce and I have a sexual connection. The only think that could make this pizza better is if there was a little more going in with the crust. It was more of a vehicle for the toppings than anything that would curl your toes on it's own. But that's my beef with just about every pizza I eat so I won't hold that against Pie in the Sky.

I can already see a long romance with Pie In the Sky, they have a total of 14 unique specialty pizzas and I intend to try them all.

Chicory Root, or How to Ruin a Relationship

If you start to notice everywhere you walk the foliage begins to turn black and die, you seem to be circled above by buzzards and the cops come knocking at your door because the neighbors down the street were complaining about the smell, you might want to think back to if you've eaten any chicory root.

Somehow with the recent fiber fad, companies have been turning to chicory root to up the fiber content of just about anything you can think of, cereal, granola bars, frozen dinners, ice cream! it's in everything. And while I admit that it has been proven that the average person doesn't get nearly enough fiber in their diet, (the recommended daily amount of fiber for your average adult is 21 grams the average high fiber item with chicory root has a bout 5-7), meaning if you're someone who eats a lot of these health foods in a day you run the risk of having your pants permanently swung around your ankles.

The weird thing about it though is that if you were getting these high levels of fiber from other sources  it wouldn't be a problem. Even gas from beans, cabbage, broccoli, isn't nearly as noxious as this dietary napalm. There's just something about chicory root fiber that's like Drano in the system. I'm talking about multiple shits a day, intestinal discomfort and bellyaches that last for days. Yes I said DAYS.

Where am I  going with this? Well even though I spent a painful summer finding out the hard way what many others are already on the internet complaining about I still managed to make a critical mistake when I tried to lighten up a chili recipe (that by the way in it's original form was probably the best chili I've ever had).
I decided to replace the ground beef in the recipe with Morningstar Farms meal starters meat free crumbles, (which is like vegan ground beef) which really was kind of a stretch from the get go. I've become kind of stuck up these days about eating things with a bunch of man made ingredients, so I was already making an exception there. Not to mention that chili is something that should really be slow cooked to leach all that flavor from the meat into the sauce and vice versa. But whatever I was being experimental.

So not only didn't the chili turn out how I wanted (anything meatless should really taste as good as the original or what's the point really?) but I didn't bother to really read the ingredient list on the meatless meat until after  I put it in the pot and then what did I discover? DUN DUN DUUUUUUN Chicory root fiber!


I tried to let it go, telling myself that there wasn't really enough of it in there to really make any difference. However....

Let this be a cautionary tale for anyone who may have recently (or been planning to) make the switch from everyday processed food to cereals, grains, frozen dinners of the "health food" variety. Before you sample be sure to read your labels! If you scan down that ingredient list and you happen to find 'chicory root' be afraid be very afraid!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Race Food

Part of the appeal of Running for the party in "The Gulch" area of Nashville is that it has a high concentration of new and overly fancy restaurants advertising in tent format trying to drum up some business. Entry fee + sweaty me  means I get to sample a lot of these places for free and see if they're really worth the Gulchy hype.

sweat marks! crooked belt! rough race

Urban Flats
A little bit fussy, it was like they hadn't noticed they were serving out of a tent. They had chili, little inch slices of dessert samples. pita slices and flat bread with three different kinds of hummus all with pretentious names you didn't understand and instantly forgot. In my universe there was the green one, the olive one, a brown hummus with sesame and some with roasted red pepper. I liked the chili, or what I could eat of it with only a fork, but it was pretty much like any other thin variety bean chili so it didn't really make up for the uppity-ness. Out of the group I really liked the olive hummus a lot it. It was completely unique tasting which is exactly what I expect from a place that's decided to name bean dip something you can't pronounce. I liked the roasted red pepper hummus too although it was a bit too sweet for the crackers I was eating it with. I have no idea what it would pair better with but I only had a teaspoon to sample so I'll worry about that next time around.

With the desserts it was clear they were using the formula of great + great = awesome, but it that was pretty hit and miss.
 Cake 1 was like a pecan pie body surfing a moshing crowd of chocolate silk. This was something clearly made by a northern person. This just tasted wrong. It's my opinion that candied pecans and chocolate should never hang out together, sin sin sin.  Really, who ruins two wonderful deserts by combining them?
 Cake 2 Mmmmmmmmmmm. Here they got it right, this was a magnificent slice of heaven. Picture a warm sock it to me cake topped with apple pie and drizzled with caramel. Perfection. They even balanced what could have been a cloying combination of sugars by lacing it with a sort of cheescakey savoriness.

Taco Mamacita
Scratch made corn chips and a selection of dips. I'm always a sucker for a real corn chips so they had me from the get go. They had regular salsa (that was alright but didn't sing) and salsa verde but what I really loved was this dip made from corn with a kind of  warm spicy white sauce. Mmm

The Pita Pit
Pretty much subway in wrap format. A basic cold cuts on lettuce and tomato wrap in a pita. We tried the Chicken Cesar and the Club and nothing about either thrilled me. Even though there's only one in Nashville (so far) they're apparently part of a chain and that's an element I think you can really taste.

All in all I'd say their selection was no better or worse than any other money saturated portion of Nashville. But stupid name or not, I'm intrigued by the Gulch, so don't be surprised if I turn up there again to run, to party or maybe even to eat.

Samantha Cotton aka "Sam Cott"

The last few days I'd been football tackled by a cold, and there's nothing like being sick to make me crave some home-style mama made it type comfort food.

(from google search. yes I ate it all before I could take a picture)
 Now in her defense I'll say that honestly I don't think my mother ever made this when I was growing up. I'm pretty sure this over processed  largely canned dish was something I concocted when I was trying (without  recipe) to replicate something much nicer that she'd made ( I spent a lot of my teen years doing this). Somehow though over the years this became an effortless comfort food staple in our house. Nameless for many years eventually and (I swear soberly) we decided to call it Samantha Cotton for some reason none of us can remember.

Samantha Cotton

1lb salad twirls (rontini) the orange, white and green kind is what we always liked the best
2  5oz cans solid white tuna, drained
2 15oz cans Del Monte mixed vegetables, drained
1 tbsp Olive oil
2-3 tbsp Kroger Brand "classic whip" (there's something specific about this flavor, Miracle Whip won't work)

Cook the noodles according to the directions on the box being sure to use plenty of salt. Drain.
 Stir in the olive oil to coat the noodles. Dump everything else in a stir til combined. Eat warm out of the pot ( but be warned  if you eat it warm you will be back for seconds) or cool in the refrigerator and eat cold.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The internet was pretty unhelpful when it came to defining exactly what you'd call the dish I made earlier today. The problem is it's some of that gray area item I was cooking with. Because really almost any egg dish can have the exact same ingredients and be called all kinds of things. Depending on how fancy you are or your mood, an omelet is a quiche is a custard is a frittata. Traditionally what you call an omelet is beaten eggs cooked flat with some filling in the middle, a frittata is whipped eggs baked/broiled fluffy with some filling mixed in, a quiche is an egg and cream custard, baked in a pie shell with some filling mixed in.

What I made was whipped eggs only (no cream) with filling (diced ham, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, spinach, onions and a dash of cumin) mixed in, baked in a pie plate with no crust. Internet says it's a crust-less quiche but I'm thinking the Larousse Gastronomique would call it a frittata.

I'm thinking American bastardization of food is the reason why I can't figure out exactly the definition.

Anyway the point here was well 1) to clean out my freezer and 2) to let my mind and hands wander in the kitchen. For some reason that's been my mood all week. None of the recipes I've been looking at have really been rocking my socks so I've been itching to get in there and just fuck it up my own way. And honestly it's refreshing to find how many fancy seeming dishes are really just as easy as scrambling eggs. First lasagna and now the quiche. Sure they're things you could buy in the frozen food section at wal-mart but it's still pretty awesome to add to the list of dishes you can pull out of your ass at a moment's notice. And that's kind of cool. It makes me feel all chef-y to not have to pull out a recipe to cook up something.

And by the way, it was delicious.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Perfectly Passable Vegetable Lasagna

At one point in your life, although you may not remember, there came a moment when you looked down at your lunch and you realized that a peanut butter sandwich was bread spread with peanut butter. You went to the kitchen, tried it yourself and realized that you could make a sandwich.
One day, when you've been cooking long enough comes a time when you experience this same feeling of previously unrealized clarity. You'll be standing in the grocery store and you think to yourself " man I'd really like  some ___ right now" now if you're not particularly dirty minded and the blank is something that can be found in a grocery store not peddling hookers a miraculous moment will settle onto you, your memory will flip through the pages of the Larousse Gastronomique and not only will you remember how to make such a dish, but you'll be provided with a grocery list of every ingredient needed.

This strange foreign sensation settled on me today. I'd been feeling sort of lazy lately and none of my recipe resources have really been thrilling me lately so I thought I'd just wander around the grocery store until something came to me. Usually I try to avoid this method of shopping because most of the time it's fruitless and it always turns out to be expensive, but today was my day and the dish was lasagna 

The funny thing about lasagna is that before you start cooking it always seems like such a fancy involved dish when in reality it's pretty much a cheesy noodle sandwich. That said I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I'll congratulate myself for not ruining this dish and even giving it a little personal flair via roasted eggplant and frozen spinach. Ignoring a few crunchy noodle ends it was delicious, in fact you'd never know that I didn't use a recipe.

Monday, October 11, 2010

(What turned out to be )Yellow Cake with Nutella Fudge ganache and a few reeses

Pretty dishes aren't really my area. In fact I'll be honest and say that at this point I'm pretty much terrible at making thing look delicious. My passion really is flavor.  In fact I spent sleepless hours pondering how to make this cake taste absolutely toe curling. Three days, some tears and nightmares later I'll say I think it was a success

Let me start by saying I was sleepy, I'm pretty sure every step of the way here. I was sleepy when I volunteered to do this, when I bought ingredients for a completely different icing then I had the intention of making and when I decided that the cakes had baked level enough that I shouldn't have to bother with leveling them with a knife before I frosted them.

Yeah. I know.

Needless to say this whole thing was a debacle. This cake just didn't seem to want to get along with me. Sleepiness aside I even baked the cake in advance in case anything terrible happened like say, oh I don't know, you bake two cakes in the same oven at the same time at the same temperature, meticulously rotate and check for done-ness and one of the two falls for no reason at all.

Hm, can't imagine that happening.

moments later a giant hole appeared  right at that crack
Oh, wait.

*Wah wah*

I cried to my mother about it. What should I do? what if the cakes sinks in the middle when I'm finished?
"Oh just fill that shit in with frosting, that's what it's for. It's only cake."

Sounds good to me, until....

 I made the sour cream chocolate icing,  and it came out a little too boston cream pie-ish for what I wanted. Not that there's anything wrong with boston cream pie (believe me there isn't) but it doesn't really have that classic yellow cake/ buttercream birthday taste I was expecting. So I decided to alter it to suit my tastes by adding Nutella. Why Nutella you ask? Why not nutella, is what I always say. Well really, I just grabbed the first no-fail chocolately substance I could find and nutella and I have always had a good relationship. I have never once regretted adding it to anything so far and I think that's more than enough reason to dump an entire bottle of it into my sour cream icing. Don't you agree? No? Well... it's what I did anyway.

It didn't turn out being a terrible move actually. In fact as I expected Nutella makes everything better, the only problem was now the icing was the thin syrupy texture of nutella and refused to stay on the cake and fill in that giant cavern between the two cake layers that I hadn't bothered to level off.
What was I to do? I couldn't exactly take the top layer off and go hacking away at the middle portion now that everything was all slimy with chocolate.

Think think think.

Hey remember when I bought a bunch of ingredients for an icing that wasn't this one? In that fateful grocery bag was the second ingredient that never fails to make everything better : Reeses.
Quick chewing gum fix with some mini cups and HAPPY BIRTHDAY LET'S CUT THE CAKE BEFORE ANYONE LOOKS TO CLOSELY- I mean...uh... MAKE A WISH!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce

Okay so in a way I'm cheating with this one. I technically made this for the first time last week around the same time. Because a) I needed something to take to work for lunch and b) it's my Monday back at third shift and I can't really sleep. Also this recipe is ridiculously easy, or rather it should be. I somehow have a problem concentrating on ridiculously easy tasks it seems because this is the second time I've made this dish and the second time I've tried to ruin it. Last week when I found the recipe I was admittedly sleepy when I started but seeing as there was nothing else to eat in the house (nothing else I wanted to eat) I decided to suck it up and try my best anyway. However laziness got the best of me and I didn't bother to clear a place for anything at all which proved problematic when I had a boiling pot of noodles on the range and a hot dish of sauce in the oven and no place to combine the two. I also tried to knock the freshly strained searing hot noodles onto my back when I took the sauce out of the oven with a rag that was way too thin but the noodles fell in the sink and not on me which is a blessing... I guess.

Anyway today's antics came by way of multitasking and further proof that you really shouldn't try and do anything else ever while texting. I decided to be a maverick and add a second cheese ( Asiago again!) and an extra garlic clove to the recipe to spice it up, but became too lazy to grate the second cheese (the parmesean was in a bag already grated. Don't look at me like that it's all they had for some reason)  and just chopped it. I must have gotten lazier still because as it turns out, I was way too lazy to chop the garlic too since I forgot completely and put it in the oven without a single clove. Somewhere about 15 minutes in I discovered my mistake and in an act of desperation chopped two cloves and tossed them in there for the last five minutes which of course did nothing.

All things cooled there were cheese globs and garlic islands but in the end it's noodles, tomato, and Parmesan, and it's pretty impossible to make anything worse than passable here. It tasted fine. I won't starve at lunch, and I foresee a third raucous round with this recipe soon.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

I've been wanting to try this  smitten kitchen recipe for a while, pretty much ever since a web of blog reading lead me to this treasure trove of food porn. However since my last bloody attempt to tame the butternut squash stank up the house for a week and narrowly left me with both thumbs attached I decided to wait until my culinary chops matured a bit before taking another stab/peel at it.

I'm also ashamed to admit I was afraid of fontina cheese. I heard tales of it being called "funky" and I was kind of chicken to find out the hard way exactly what that meant. Especially when I'd use that exact word to describe the flavor of goat cheese which it just so happens I was not warned would taste well... not only funky but goat-y to say the least.

I was almost tempted to skip it completely and swap it out with Asiago which I always seem to have in the fridge for some reason but I decided to be brave and tackle the recipe as written. As it turned out it wasn't that funky at all (edit: although wikipedia informs me that I have the Danish version which is far less intense), cold it just tasted a lot like Gouda or Gruyere, that kind of woody/nutty flavor and melted it just hung out nicely with everything else. Not really shouting from the rooftops that it was there, kind of a 'hey man I'm just here to hang' kind of unassuming nondescript cheese flavor.

Knowing that though I think I might give Fontina a miss in the future and go for a cheaper cheese if it's only really there to hold the veggies together in a mass. It would really depend on if I was in the mood to be fancy or not. I mean sure there are subtleties in pretty much every cheese out there and I guess it does give an otherwise understated dish a certain highbrow tinge but along that same vein, why waste such a fancy cheese on what is basically roasted late fall veggies wrapped in a biscuit? I will however reserve setting an official opinion until I've had it in all it's Italian funky glory.

I'm a fan of sage and butternut squash though. They hang out well together something about the fresh woodsy flavor of the sage leaves with the autumny taste of a winter squash brings to mind crisp afternoons spent crunching around red leaves and the smell of frost and mock oranges. I'm getting really into herbs these days, I think a little herb garden is in my future...

Anyway I'll say I liked it overall, the pastry was a little less buttery tasting than I'd like, but I think that's largely my fault. Being a new cook I tend to be short a few gadgets(i.e. pastry cutter) and usually end up roughing it like the dark ages (using my fingers) and I think somewhere along the way added a little too much flour but that's okay. I still liked it. There was something about it that had a very unique taste, a refreshing change of pace. A little sweet, a little savory, mostly simple with a tiny touch of fancy. It's kind of all over the place really. Just what you need on a early fall day that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be either.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today's sampling of food heaven

It's finally fall!

Today's sampling of food heaven came in the form of some new autumn flavors at Panera. I love a cafe that changes with the seasons even if it is a chain it's one of those small business type touches that make the experience feel more personal.
Anyway it's fall so they've added the Orchard Harvest chicken salad, a pumpkin spice latte and a creamy tomato soup. I could only handle two at a time so I ordered the salad and the latte. The latte seemed to take forever to make and when it was done the barista handed me this barbie sized cup I swear was no bigger than a thimble. Assuming I was just stupid I went to take it when it turned out he was just messing with me. He laughed and gave me the real thing later (which was normal sized) although I spent the rest of my lunch wondering where he got a cup that tiny to begin with...

Anyway the latte was one of those concoctions that would make coffee lovers gag, it tasted like some sort of coffee/pastry kitchen mishap, half delicious half nauseating. I enjoyed it but I doubt I'd order it again.

The salad however was orgasmic. Well it was orgasmic for a salad anyway "All-natural chicken, field greens, romaine, dried cherries, fresh D’Anjou pears, Gorgonzola, toasted pecans & our cherry balsamic vinaigrette". 
Ignoring the fancy wording and the fact that I've been positively pear obsessed lately it was the combination of dried cherries and pecans crossed with the chicken and romaine that made for a harmonic pairing of dinner and cake flavors. If(when) I ordered this again I wouldn't pair it with such a sugary drink though I think maybe an unsweetened coffee, tea, or even a beer (yazoo hefeweizen!) would be perfect.

Later we went to Provence for some macarons because I've been pining for them since my unbirthday in February but was too lazy to make the trip back in search of them since every Provence is way out of the way of our usual hangout. And since I'm now obsessed with orally analyzing the chemical structure of  edibles these days (to mentally catalog and compare against my own culinary endeavors) when it came down to it I couldn't choose which one I wanted. Chocolate, Lemon, Pistachio buttercream, Lavender honey,  Raspberry raspberry jam. 
So many pastels and combinations , what's a girl to do?

Order one of each.

Oh pfffft. Like I ate them all at once, I still have a few left! So far the raspberry was my favorite with the most distinguishable flavor and perfect heavenly chewiness. I really am a sucker for all things almond.

What's that you say? Why did I call them "macarons"? Well a quick google/wiki search will tell you that the diifference between a macaroon and and macaron is the lack of coconut and the swap of some fancy french feet! I'm still pretty sure I said "macaroon" when I ordered but it's not exactly the the first time I've looked like an ass at Provence (framboise anyone?") and I'm sure it won't be the last.
At any rate I'm inspired, I think I see some macarons in my baking future....