Ally
A Celebration of Raw, Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisines, sponsored by the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership.

There will be free tastings, recipes, vendors and exhibits. Check it out!




Ally
 (print by LuckyBlueBirdArt )

4700 College Oak Drive, Sacramento in Room 506 by Lot D


It's a new semester and the student chefs are back! ARC's Oak Cafe just posted on Facebook their 2011 menu. If you haven't been before and can get out to ARC during lunch time, you should check it out. My friend, Sarah, introduced me to the Oak Cafe a few semesters ago and I've gone a few times since then. The Oak Cafe is completely student run and offers both a prix fixe menu and a tasting menu at $15 each. The prix fixe menu includes choice of a first course, choice of an entrée, a choice of a dessert and a beverage. The tasting menus include all courses and a beverage. The menu changes weekly.

Lunch is served Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11:30 – 1:30 and reservations (highly recommended as seats fill up fast) are being accepted beginning January 26.



Feb. 2, 3 & 4
New Mexico - Tasting
Caldillo – Green Chili Soup
Black Bean Tamale with Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa
Carne Adovada – Braised Pork with Hominy
Chopped Salad with Red Chili Citronette
Sopapilla with Caramel-Roasted Pineapple, Honey Crema

Feb. 9, 10 & 11
Irish Lunch
Yellow Split Pea and Parsnip Soup or Wild Mushroom, Irish Cashel Blue Cheese & Watercress Salad
Ballymaloe Irsih Lamb Stew with Parsley Dumplings or Sunday Roast Chicken with Bacon & Leek Sauce and Colcannon Potatoes
Guinness Stout Ginger Cake with Candied Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting or Poached Pears with Brown
Bread Ice Cream

Feb. 16 & 17
Moroccan - Tasting
Harira – Lentil, Chick Pea and Chicken Soup
Chermoula Roasted Vegetables with Shallot & Garlic Couscous
Merguez - Lamb Sausage over Chard Salad
Pan Seared Halibut with Spiced Carrots
M’hanncha – Orange-Almond-Date Phyllo Pastry with Cardamom-Lime Cream

Feb. 23, 24 & 25
Italian Lunch
Fritto Misto – Monterey Calamari, Lemon, Onion, Fennel & Olives or
Carpaccio – Raw Beef Fillet, Parmigianno-Regianno, Capers, CA Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Verdi Lasagna ala Bolognese or Housemade Italian Sausage, Garlic-Chili Oil with Mushroom Risotto
Chocolate Glazed Rich Gianduia Mousse with Ginger-Pistachio Biscotti or
Apricot Crostada with Zabaglione

March 2, 3 & 4
Burger Blast
Spinach Salad or Chicken & Stars Soup
House Cured & Ground Sirloin with your choice of delicious toppings including:  Pate de Foie Gras, Pimento Cheese, Marrow, Bacon, Fried Egg, Chili Sauce and the regulars -Served with Duck Fat Fries
Peanut Butter-Banana Ice Cream Sandwich with Milk Chocolate Dipping Sauce or Root Beer Float

March 9, 10 & 11
Momofuku - Tasting
Mushroom Miso Soup with Griddled Rice Cake
Duck Confit on Scallion Pancake with Beet Pickles
Sichuan Pepper Prawns
Pan Roasted Asparagus with Miso Butter and a Poached Egg
Milk Bar Sugar Pie with Star Anise Pear Compote

March 16, 17 & 18
New England
Green Peppercorn Steamed Mussels or Clam & Leek Chowder
Lobster Pot Pie or New England Boiled Dinner
Blueberry Johnnycake with Maple Cream or Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart

March 23, 24 & 25
Steak House
House Smoked Loch Duart Salmon, Baby Beets, Red Onion & Horseradish Cream or Caesar Salad
Meat: Ribeye Steak or Seared Sea Scallops or Chicken Breast Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Spinach
And Sauce:  Bearnaise, Beurre Rouge, Chimichurri or Shiitake Steak Sauce
And 2 Sides:  Sour Cream-Chive Mashed Potatoes, Smokey Sweet Potato Fries, Grilled Asparagus, Green Beans, Cauliflower Gratin, Creamy Gorgonzola Polenta
New York Cheesecake or Lemon Meringue Pie

Final Exam Menus:
March 30, 31 & April 1
April 6, 7 & 8
April 13, 14 & 15
April 27, 28 & 29
May 4, 5 & 6
Ally
( photo from nataliedee.com )

Maybe it was because I watched the Social Network this weekend but I finally decided to quit clogging up my personal FB page with recipes, food articles, etc. and create a separate FB page for a Girl and Her Fork (thanks for the gentle nudge, Debby!). So it's all set up now...take a peek, "like" it if you like and as always feel free to give suggestions, opinions or just stop by to say hi.  -------> A Girl and Her Fork Facebook Page
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Ally
( Photo by PosterPop )

"In vino veritas"
(In wine there is truth)


As Californians we are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a plethora of delicious wines. There's an incredible array of choices for every palate and every wallet everywhere we look. Now, I'm no expert wine connoisseur but I thought it'd be fun to share a few of the wines that I'm currently enjoying.

2007 Delas St. Esprit Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge

I was first introduced to this wine at a wine party I threw quite awhile back. A guest had picked it up at Corti Brothers and at first sip, I knew that I was in love with this full-bodied red and would be buying it regularly. The garnet-colored wine carries a nice subtle taste of pepper, plums and blackberry. If you love jammy reds like I do, you'll like this one. You can usually find it at Cost Plus World Market or Corti Bros for around $12-$14.
 
2007 Berryessa Gap Tempranillo
 
This soft Tempranillo didn't come onto my radar until late this summer. Mr. S. and I threw a BBQ and my friend Jenni was kind enough to bring a few bottles to share. Berryessa Gap's Tempranillo is very balanced and has a richness to it that makes it appealing even to the pickiest drinker. Throughout the night I heard several of our guests murmuring about how they liked the Tempranillo.
 
2008 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti Santo Stefano
 
During my recent trip to LA, Mayumi and I stopped in a wine bar called Friends of the Vine in Redondo Beach for a pre-dinner drink. My sweet tooth was in full effect so I opted for a glass of the Ceretto Moscato d'Asti Santo Stefano ($20-$25), a sparkling wine. The wine was fresh tasting, aromatic and offered up the right amount of sweetness (it wasn't cloying at all). This wine would be perfect paired with a dessert, like a raspberry tart or perhaps an apricot creme brulee.
 
Trentadue Chocolate Amore
 
If you could bottle up some post-sex after glow, it'd most definitely taste something like Trentadue's Chocolate Amore ($20-$25). The winery describes it as a, "Merlot-based, port-styled chocolate flavored dessert wine," and although that's on mark, it doesn't quite do this sublime wine justice. Seriously, the Chocolate Amore is so heavenly and decadent that you'll want to draw the shades and snuggle down in your sheets before popping the cork. If you haven't tried it you must! I was first exposed to this silky elixir after a fabulous dinner at Formoli's. It was so good that I had to check out the winery. If you can, book a room in Healdsburg, a stone's throw from Geyserville (where Trentadue is located) and make a romantic weekend out of it. They do 4 tastings for $5 and the people who work there are as sweet as pie. I think they're used to guests swooning after taking a sip of the Chocolate Amore.
 
Lastly, is the "dirty little secret wine." I know you, like me, have a few cheapie bottles of wine squirreled away somewhere. For me it used to be Ironstone's Obssession, a Symphony wine ($5-6). It really hits the spot on a sweltering summer day and doesn't put the hurt on my pocketbook. However, as it's becoming a bit of a PIA to find in the grid I've found myself turning toward Whole Food's version of the Two Buck Chuck, called Three Wishes. For $2.99, the dandelioned labeled California wine is a decent drink. It comes in merlot, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. The latter two are the better of the group, in my opinion, and are great for making sangria with. I also like that the bottles are made of Eco-Glass. 
 
So now that you know what's been swirling in my wine glasses, I'd love it if you'd share what bottles you've been choosing to stack on your wine racks and sip with your dinners.
Ally


Looking for something to do around town? Sacramento Slow Foods is presenting a one-woman play celebrating Julia Child on Thursday, February 17. The play stars Linda Kenyon and a portion of the $45 dollar ticket cost goes to Plates Cafe and Catering, an employment learning program for formerly homeless mothers with children. And if that isn't enough to convince you..." Julia-inspired" hors d’oeuvres and desserts by Mulvaney's will be served at the show.

Tickets can be purchased at : Julia Child: Eventbrite
Ally
 (photo by Mayumi Fujii)


During my LA visit, my friend Mayumi made me some tofu chocolate. She explained that it was very similar in texture and taste to "Nama Chocolate," which is the rage in Asia. One of the most famous Nama Chocolate companies is Royce'. Established in 1983 in Hokkaido, Japan the small company quickly took off. Nama means "fresh" or "raw" and the Nama Chocolates made by Royce' utilize fresh cream (made from locally-drawn Hokkaido milk) and premium chocolate to create a creamy chocolate with an almost sponge-like consistency that melts in your mouth; it's then dusted with a powdered cocoa. When purchased, the Nama Chocolates by Royce' are wrapped in layers of puffed aluminum, plastic and dry ice to preserve the "fresh" taste and texture, a small plastic knife is included as well. Anyhow, Mayumi didn't have milk from Hokkaido cows or access to the company's secret recipe, but her tofu version of Nama Chocolate is a tasty facsimile. Try some with a cup of coffee or glass of port, it's sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Mayumi's Tofu "Nama" Chocolate

Ingredients

150g dark chocolate

100g silken tofu

cocoa powder

(1 gram = 0.0352739619 ounces)


Instructions

1. Drain tofu block between paper towels with a heavy weight on top for about 1 hour (or use a tofu press).

2. Add tofu to a blender and blend for about 3 mins.

3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water.

4. Press the tofu through a mesh sieve and add to the melted chocolate. Mix well.

5. Line a container with plastic wrap and pour the chocolate in.

6. Refrigerate.

6. Cut and dust with cocoa powder.




Ally
“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” – Robert Louis Stevenson


As I become older, I feel I still meet a ton of new people and forge new friendships but it becomes increasingly difficult to cultivate the deep type of friendships like those you had in your youth. Several years ago, I was stuck in a marriage that I wasn't happy with and contemplating what to do. I had a great husband but one who I realized over time that I didn't share much in common with in the areas of interests, personality or goals. At one point, I felt that I needed to find an outlet where I could foster my own interests so I joined a local Japanese Meetup group. I wasn't sure what it was going be like but it ended up being like any other club--there was people I immediately meshed with and a few that I didn't really care for. I only attended meetings for a year and a half; however, I had a fun time and years later I still have maintained a few strong friendships from my brief stint in that club. One of the friendships that blossomed during my time in the Japanese Meetup is with my good friend Mayumi. When I met her, Mayumi was completing a year at UC Davis as part of an exchange program with her college in Tokyo, Waseda University. We had a 9 year age difference but we immediately clicked and began hanging out. Whether it was cooking, watching Sex and the City or going on small excursions out of town-- we always had a blast. Hanging out with her also gave me the opportunity to work on the Japanese I was forgetting and she was able to practice her English. Once her school year was over, she returned to Japan but we kept in touch via phone and email. I went and visited her in Japan and vice versa. After she graduated, she made her way back to California but this time to Los Angeles. This past spring she popped up to Sac for a visit and this past weekend it was my turn to return the favor. During the few days that I was there, we OD'd on Japanese food, drank coffee while basking in the warm sun (it was 75-80 degrees all weekend!) and did some creative food artistry. On Friday, while we were perusing the aisles at Mitsuwa (a Japanese grocery store), Mayumi stumbled upon a Japanese book called "Wiener no Kazari Giri" that showed how to make various animals out of wieners. She worked diligently on a race car driving mouse, an elephant and a pig and they turned out so cute that I just had to share! I also included a copy of the book cover and a sample page. (Click on the pics to enlarge them.) Seems like a fun project that both adults and children could enjoy. For my vegetarian friends, you could probably do these with some veggies or perhaps a tofurky dog. :)
A whole Noah's Ark of wiener animals...wouldn't that be a sight!



Ally
Learning Exchange
1111 Howe Ave, Suite 115. (916) 929-9200
info@learningexchange.com
http://learningexchange.com/

It's strange how certain memories remain crystal clear in your mind, even decades later. I remember when I was a kid, there was one time that my mom made a bunch of sushi for the ladies at her Buddhist temple. I remember sitting at the table, leaning over on my elbows watching her as she rapidly fanned her rice which was in a large hangiri. I remember inhaling deeply and savoring the wafts of rice vinegar emanating from the sushi rice. I remember it like it was yesterday. So when the Learning Exchange (LEX) contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in taking a cooking class there, I decided that the sushi class might be a fun choice. I wasn't sure what to expect and to be quite honest, even though I'm a pretty outgoing person I was a wee bit nervous.

I got to class a bit early and was surprised to find that the classroom was already almost full.  The instructor, Laura Thorne, greeted me and asked me to check in, wash my hands and fill my water bowl. Right on the dot, she started with her introduction. Laura has been in the sushi business (making and teaching it) for thirteen years and is the proprietor of Way Yum Sushi in Nevada City, a sushi catering company that provides custom sushi boats and sushi bars to a lot of Sacramento's premiere events. She has an easy going manner and peppers her instructions with hilarious anecdotes. I liked the fact that she explained the sushi terminology as she went so that the newbies could follow. Her mission statement was that before we left the class we would:

1. Have fun.
2. Know how to make sushi at home.

Can't ask for more than that, right? Now let me interject here...I'll confess, I figured she'd probably teach us how to make a few rolls and call it a day. Color me wrong, wrong, wrong! We learned SEVEN different types of techniques in two hours. We did learn how to make the "standard" sushi roll of course but she also showed us how to put together the inside-out rolls (the rice is on the outside), temakis (the cone shaped roll), 3 types of nigiri, inari (the ones that look like little footballs), rainbow rolls (inside out with aesthetically arranged toppings) and a cucumber bite (a thickly sliced cucumber piece that's been hollowed out, filled with Kanikama (faux crab) mix and topped with a sweet soy sauce. She provided numerous helpful tips, tricks and being a big proponent of using organic and fresh products she recommended local places to buy items and what brands she found to be the best quality. The tuna and eel she had us use in the nigiri was of very high grade which surprised me. We also learned how to make sushi rice and the various sauces that are trendy in the sushi bars now.

Now if you're like me, you're probably thinking a community cooking class? It's going to be full of blue haired grannies or bored housewives. Wrong again! Our class had a nice mix of young/old, male/female and singles/couples. Everyone was super friendly and eager to learn. I ended up chatting with my table buddy Bruce and opened up the world of Oto's to him, he had never been there and had no idea there was a Japanese grocery store in Sac! I felt like a fairy godmother cluing him in. The class turned out to not only be a great learning experience for me but a fun social activity as well. Several students commented that once they perfected their sushi making skills they had plans to throw a sushi-making party. Having gone to one of those before, I can attest to the fact they they are a blast!

Now, in these budget-conscious times I'm sure you're thinking, "It's a little pricey." It's actually not. If you factor the massive amount of sushi we made (which you can eat as you go along or take home your creations with you in a to-go container), it's a bargain. Even my giant sushi gullet couldn't come close to eating everything we got to make. It's seriously cheaper than going out to eat at a sushi-ya. Plus if you bring a friend or significant other, it's a meal and a fun evening out! The Learning Exchange offers a wide variety of cooking class (located at the LEX, the Steel Magnolia Commercial Kitchen and the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts). Now that I've realized how easy it is to sign up and fun it can be, I'm thinking of taking Mr. S. to the empanadas class or the olive curing class or the knives class...aack, so many choices! So if you're looking for something fun and interesting to do or you're trying to fulfill that New Year's resolution of branching out and learning something new, I highly recommend checking out the Learning Exchange. Maybe I'll see you there!

Here's a few pictures that the instructor snapped with my camera when we first started as my hands were covered with sticky rice. She only took one sushi photo and it was fuzzy so I didn't post it, but at least you can see what the class is like.


 The instructor, Laura Thorne, introducing herself.
 
 Your table set-up. The instructor comes around with the fish. (You get to take home your rolling mat.)









Ally

In my continued quest to find more non-dairy desserts to make, I stumbled upon a recipe for Chocolate Avocado Mousse on Dr. Oz's website...don't raise your eyebrow at me, Google will take you to the weirdest places when you're doing a keyword search. Anyhow, the recipe sounded perfect for the dinner I had to cook for a few friends last night. I needed a dessert that was not only dairy-free (for me) but gluten-free as well (for one of my guests). Now before you go scrunching up your face and yelling, "But avocados are loaded with fat!" hear me out. Avocados ARE loaded with fat, about 20% actually, but two-thirds of the fat is monounsaturated which is good for you. They're also cholesterol free and contain potassium, folic acid,  fibre, and vitamins B6, C and E. So, hah!

Now for the recipe- I felt that the mousse came out quite well- it was creamy in texture and quite chocolaty. You didn't miss the dairy. A word of caution though, this recipe is not light and foamy like traditional mousse. It was more thick and rich like a pudding. I served mine with a side of strawberry mochi to cut the heft but I could see it pairing nicely with fresh raspberries in the summer.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Ingredients

(Serves 6)

12 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp chili powder

1 large, ripe Hass avocado, pitted and peeled

3/4 cup light brown sugar

6 egg whites


Instructions

- Melt the chocolate with the cinnamon and chili powder in a double boiler over hot water and set aside.

- Purée the avocado and brown sugar in a food processor until smooth.

- With the machine running, pour in the chocolate mixture.

- Using a stand mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

- Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites.

- Pour the mousse into 6 small serving bowls or wineglasses and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or covered overnight. (It will thicken)
Ally


"It's gonna be legend-... wait for it... and I hope you're not lactose intolerant because the second half of that word is DAIRY!"  - Barney on "How I Met Your Mother"

New Year's Resolutions, we all make 'em...and we all break 'em. I learned long ago to keep my list short and realistic. This year along with exercise regularly (ha!), be more patient with others and a few other run of the mill resolutions, I threw in that I would try and consume less dairy. Now this isn't because I dislike dairy or think it's unhealthy (it's quite the opposite...I LOVE dairy!) but rather because I'm lactarded. Most people who are lactose-intolerant get super gassy (yes TMI, I know), but I don't. I get painful stomach cramps and severe nausea/vomiting. My body just doesn't want to digest it. Wait! I know what you're going to say--Lactaid pills. Yeah, yeah, I'm familiar with them. I have a love-hate relationship with Lactaid pills. I love them when they work and hate them when they don't. For me, they only work about 30% of the time, so I feel like I'm playing Russian Roulette when I take them. Despite my best of intentions, I'm sure within a day or two my resolve will crumble and I'll end up eating some dairy...and I'll get sick. *Sigh* I can't help it, there's just too many good foods out there containing dairy!  But in the meantime, it's a new year and a fresh slate so I'll at least make one recipe that's not full of butter, milk or cheese. This pineapple pecan cake by A Southern Grace is the perfect cake to serve when having guests over for coffee and it's dairy-free. I gave this cake to Mr. S. to serve to his buddies on poker night...I was told that it was a hit.

( Psst! This cake is great by itself but if you have no dairy-issues, you could put it over the top by throwing on a cream cheese frosting. )


Pineapple Pecan Cake ( from A Southern Grace )

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chopped pecans

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, undrained


Instructions

- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 13x9-inch pan or 2 9-inch round pans.

- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and pecans.

- Combine eggs, vanilla, and pineapple; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

- Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake for until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean--32-38 minutes for a 13x9-incher or 24-30 minutes for the rounds.

- Cool completely on a wire rack.


Ally
My friend Sherrie had just come back from a trip to Germany when she saw my post for Mac 'n Cheese and kindly asked me if I'd like to learn how to make the German version called, Käsespätzle. I haven't done much German cooking, despite being born in Germany, so I immediately agreed. Upon looking Käsespätzle up, I discovered that it's a casserole made of Spätzle (homemade German egg noodles), butter-browned onions and cheese. Hearty German comfort food...perfect for those pesky wintry nights. Sounds great, huh? It is! Sherrie was nice enough to let me take some photos of her making the Käsespätzle to go along with the recipe. She also let me in on the secret that Käsespätzle tastes even more amazing the next day when you take a cold serving and fry it. It gets that yummy crunchy texture that most of us love.

Danke, Sherrie!


Sherrie's Käsespätzle

Ingredients

2 onions (peeled and thinly sliced)

1 cube butter

1/2 lb Emmentaler Cheese (we grated a lb. but only ended up using about half of it)

2 eggs

3/4 cup vegetable broth

1.5 cup  flour

1/4 t salt


Special Equipment

Spätzle maker (if you're MacGyver-like, you could make a makeshift one from a colander or potato press)


Instructions

- Combine eggs, broth, flour and salt in a bowl and beat until it's the consistency of pancake batter.  Set batter aside.

- Place a heavy bottomed pan on med-high heat. Add butter. Add sliced onions. Cook until onions start to gain a brown color. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow onions to brown slowly. Stir every once in awhile. You want the onions to be browned but not overly caramelized, so stop before they they get too dark.

- Place Spätzle maker over a large pot of boiling water.

- Press the batter through the Spätzle press. (The kind that Sherrie used had a flat piece that you could run across the maker, helping the batter to get pushed through.)




- The batter will form little noodle "dumplings " that will drop down into the boiling water. They'll rise to the surface when done cooking.







- Use a slotted spoon or sieve to strain the noodles out and place them in a large bowl or casserole dish.

- Repeat the process until the batter is used up.

- While you're scooping the noodles into the casserole dish:  in between each layer of noodles, sprinkle a generous amount of the Emmentaler Cheese. The cheese will melt from the heat of the noodles. Once melted, mix the noodles and cheese together.



- Sprinkle the top of the Spätzle with the browned onions and serve while hot.





other keywords: spaetzle
Ally



According to Joshua Lurie-Turrell, creator of YumTacos.com, Sacramento is getting itself it's first Mobile Food Festival (SacMoFo) this year.  Dios mio! It's about time!

Per the Yum Taco's site, the event will :

- be held at Fremont Park on Saturday, April 30 from noon to 6pm

- have a dozen trucks, from Sac and Yolo counties as well as the Bay Area

- also have several carts and other non-motorized vehicles

- have free bicycle valet parking

- have no admission charge

- be 100% volunteer run

All I can say is- it's a start Sacramento!  Good job!
Ally
Sometimes the holidays get a little crazy and the only cookies I want to bake look something like this:

( cookie pic by Natalie Dee )

But once the dust settles and the hoopla is over, I find myself missing the quiet time in the kitchen rolling out cookies or sitting at the table sprinkling colorful little decorations on each bite-sized treat. Also, I have a LOT of lemon curd sitting in my fridge that needs to be used up. The solution? Lemon curd thumbprint cookies, of course! Just use the lemon curd you made here: Lemon Curd  and follow the simple dough recipe below.




Alice Waters' Sweet Tart Dough 
(The Art of Simple Food)

- Beat together until creamy:
8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick)  *room temp
1/3 cup of sugar

- Add and mix until completely combined:
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 egg yolk

- Add:
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour

- Mix well, stirring and folding, until there are no more dry patches. 

- Form 1 inch dough balls. 

- Roll in sugar and place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. 

- Press your thumb in the top of each cookie to make a depression. 

- Bake cookies in a preheated 350F oven for 12 minutes. 

- Remove from the oven and fill the depressions with lemon curd. 

- Bake for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool before serving.
Ally
Dolsot Bibimbap  


9205-D Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95826. (916) 366-3323

For some reason, everytime I go to mention Pine Tree House (a Korean restaurant) I get mixed up and call it Pioneer House (an old folks home...um, senior living community in Midtown) which inevitably earns me a confused look from whomever I'm speaking to.  The food there is anything but slow or old, so I'm not sure what the deal with my early onset Alzheimers is. Name issues aside, Pine Tree House located in Sacramento's "Little Korea" (the portion of Folsom Blvd that runs from La Riveria to Zinfandel that houses several Korean restaurants and shops) is a solid place to grab Korean fare. It's clean, the service is friendly, prices are reasonable and the food is remarkably good.
 
On my first visit, I went with a friend that spoke fluent Korean and he took the helm. He ordered us some bulgogi, a seafood-tofu stew and some pajeon. We started with the pajeon (a Korean pancake made of eggs, rice flour and scallions served with a dipping sauce), which was good. It was light and fluffy and a nice dish to balance out the highly flavored entrees we ordered. The bulgogi (tender bits beef marinated in a soy-based sauce served on an iron plate) was tender, well marinated and not overly fatty like at some establishments. And our last dish, the seafood-tofu stew warmed us up quickly-- it packed some heat and had an ample amount of juicy claims and mussels, which made me happy.
 
My second visit to Pine Tree House was with a friend, who like me, spoke absolutely no Korean. We decided to go with three appetizers and one entree so we could get a nice variety of dishes. Our waitress smiled at our order...little did we know, the appetizers we chose were huge. We ended up with enough food to feed the Korean army and then some! (Side note: Since we used the point and order method at dinner, I had to ask one of my Korean friends afterwards what the names of the dishes I had were called.)  
 
Our meal started with about a dozen banchan dishes (an assortment of fermented vegetables and custards). Our waitress was kind enough to explain what all of them were and cut our kimchi up (with kitchen scissors) for us. We then moved on to some kimchi pajeon and jap chae. I liked this version of pajeon better than the plain version, the kimchi gave it more flavor. The jap chae (cellophane noodles tossed with sesame oil, soy sauce and mushrooms) was delicious. The noodles stuck together in a giant clump but the taste was smooth and clean. We then fumbled through the special of the night - a platter of yangnyeom gejang (miniature crabs served cold with sliced jalapenos and a spicy/sweet chili powder sauce). The sauce was good but the crabs were a bit difficult to contend with (even after we asked the waitress what the proper way to eat it was). I'm sure the staff had a good chuckle when one of the crabs went rogue and tried to escape by exploding all over my friend's sweater.These incidents must happen fairly regularly as the waitress was over pretty quickly with wet napkins to help sop up the mess. Our last dish, was the traditional bulgogi...which was just as tasty as my last visit. Our waitress concluded our meal with a cup of complimentary sujeonggwa (a punch made from dried persimmon, ginger, peppercorns and cinnamon, served cold and garnished with ice) which was wonderful. I'm definitely going to have to learn how to recreate that drink for the summertime...maybe even an alcoholic version.
 
Overall, a messy but pleasing meal. If you haven't hit up "Little Korea" or are just looking for a new Korean restaurant to try, I strongly urge you to stop by Pine Tree House. Just a bit of advice-- don't wear white if you plan to eat the crab, those things are slippery!


March 2012

I've returned several times since my initial visits to Pine Tree House and each time the staff has been courteous and the food fresh. I've also found that they prepare the best dolsot bibimbap in town and it's become my go to dish when I visit there.
Ally


The nice folks at Sacramento Magazine recently published an article about female food bloggers in the Sacramento area and yours truly was included...how about that! You can check it out on page 113 in their January issue (the Eat & Drink section), click on the photo above or follow this link:  Meet The Bloggers

Also while I'm writing, I would just like to thank my readers who post on my blog and email me; as well as my wonderful friends who comment on my personal Facebook page whenever my blog entries go up. I LOVE hearing your thoughts and suggestions.  I hope you continue to do so in the coming year.

~ A Girl & Her Fork
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Ally
I hope everyone's having as wonderful of a New Year as I am. Mr. S. and I rang out 2010 by making a spontaneous day trip to SF yesterday. We perused all the little shops in Nihonmachi (Japantown), slurped up some noodles at a ramen-ya and closed out the afternoon by exploring Fort Point out by the Presidio. We decided to spend NYE at home with his kidlets and leave the drinking and rabble-rousing to the amateurs; but we did manage to stay up until midnight and greet the New Year with horns, poppers and LOTS of laughter. 1/1/11 started out great as well...we all slept in (even the dog) and Mr. S. made an amazing breakfast of eggs, beef hash, thick bacon, SPAM, and OJ/milk/coffee. Mmm! And yes, I did say SPAM. Shhh, it's my dirty little secret! I would not eat green eggs and ham...but I sure as heck would eat fried eggs and SPAM!  ;)

Anyhow, what better way is there to start a new year than with a clean slate and a little "present."  Fish en Papillote aka Fish in Parchment Paper is delicious, easy and involves very little clean up (yay!). The nifty part is that you can use this basic cooking method and switch out the type of fish, veggies and/or sauce and each time you'll have a different dish. If you haven't had Fish en Papillote before, you're in for a treat! The first waft of aroma you inhale when you "unwrap" the package is heavenly. Now get to it, time's a wastin'!


(Right out of the oven)


(Unwrapped & ready to eat!)


Fish en Papillote


Ingredients

Parchment paper

4 (6 to 7-ounce) portions of Alaskan cod (low in fat and calories, high in protein)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1 large carrot (I like to use a vegetable peeler and "shave" long slices off, it looks prettier than chunks)

1 lemon, sliced or wedges

3 to 4-inch knob of ginger, grated

4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced

6 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

6 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce


Instructions

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

- Rip off 4 pieces of parchment to form packets each about 12-inches long.

- Season fish with salt and pepper.

- Place a piece of parchment in a shallow dish then in the center of the paper stack 1/4 of the green onions/ shiitakes/ carrot peels, sprinkle with grated ginger and minced garlic and top with fish.

- Combine the honey, vinegar and soy sauce and pour 1/4 of the sauce over fish.

- Fold over the top of the parchment then roll the sides in tightly to form a sealed pouch.

- Repeat with remaining parchment sheets and ingredients.

- Arrange the pouches on a baking sheet and roast in hot oven for 20 minutes. (Sometimes the parchment paper will turn brown...no worries, it's fine as long as it's not burning)

- Serve on a plate with a side of lemon.

- To open: you can slice the packet open with a sharp knife or carefully unwrap it, your choice. Be careful, the steam will be very hot.

Makes 4 servings.


( Recipe adapted form RR's Ginger-Garlic Fish in Parchment )
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