Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chorizo Dressing with Gravy

Here comes the season for food favorites and traditional casseroles! Don't you just love the holidays? It becomes the permissible time to buy pants with elastic waistbands and eat as much as you'd like. Haha, all joking aside, one of my favorite dinner sides is a traditional holiday dressing. This year, I decided to spice up the dish with chorizo and hoped for the best. The dish was a success, but test it out for yourselves, and maybe it'll become your new holiday staple!

Chorizo Dressing

16 Servings
Prep Time: 30 Minutes

3 8oz Sourdough Loaves, Cubed to 1" (approx. 20 cups)
1 Red Pepper, Diced
1 Onion, White, Diced
6 Celery Stalks, Chopped
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 Cup Cilantro, Chopped Finely
2 Tsp Chipotle or Cayenne Pepper
7oz Chorizo Sausage, Uncooked
2 1/2 Cups Beef Broth
2 Eggs, Beaten

3 Cups (approx.)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes

3oz Chorizo Sausage, Uncooked
1/4 Cup Flour
3 Cups Beef Broth

Celery, Red Pepper, Onion, Sourdough Loaves
Separating and preparing ingredients before I cook has been one of my habits to minimize clean-up and the overlap of various products. Anytime I make dressing, I purchase and cube the bread at home; the food takes on a heartier texture. I'll let the bread air for a day or two to harden, but if not dry by the time I'm cooking there's a simple fix: 200 degrees, spread evenly on a cookie sheet and baked until dry (20 minutes or so). I usually dice some of the punchier veggies (onions, peppers) and finely chop the strong flavors (cilantro). The beef broth used in the dressing is to moisten and draw out the flavors of the drained chorizo, but please add to your desired preference. I also prefer beef broth in this recipe to add a bold kick to the dish, and it can easily be made from bouillon.  If it's a bit too heavy for you, use chicken broth instead for a lighter taste.

Celery, Red Pepper, Onion (Diced) and Sourdough (Cubed)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cubed bread in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle a large skillet with EVOO and saute the celery, onion, and peppers until softened and set aside. Cook the chorizo until the fats separate and the meat darkens; remove excess oil. Pour all cooked ingredients into the large mixing bowl. Toss bread with cilantro, cayenne or chipotle pepper. Mix broth and beaten eggs together. Pour liquid slowly over dressing and toss until evenly distributed. Place into a greased 13" x 9" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes covered with foil and an additional 15 minutes uncovered until golden and crisp.

Prepared Chorizo Dressing
Dressing Nutrition Info: (1 Serving)
Calories: 203, Total Fat: 8.6g, Sat. Fat: 3g, Cholest.: 43.1mg, Sodium: 460.6mg, Carb.: 23.5g, Fiber: 1.5g, Sugars: 1.6g, Protein: 7g

Cook 3oz of chorizo in a medium saucepan over medium to high heat. Once browned and fats separate, whisk in flour until thickened. Slowly whisk in broth until smooth and cook at a medium to low heat to simmer and thicken. Add pepper to taste.

The gravy will have a rich flavor and a tart punch from the chorizo and requires very little additional spices. It pairs nicely with the dish and is quite simple to make. Be watchful though, overheating the gravy could thicken it a bit too much to be palatable. 

Note: If gravy doesn't thicken to desired consistency, there's the ole standby: dissolve 1 teaspoon of corn starch in 1/8 cup of cold water and pour into gravy to thicken.

Gravy Nutrition Info: (1/4 Cup)
Calories: 48, Total Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: 1.4g, Cholest.: 9.5mg, Sodium: 491.3mg, Carb.: 2.8g, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugars: 0.6g, Protein: 2.5g
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mama's Secret Bakery


Los Angeles, CA. Is it new? Or simply hidden? It actually has a hint of both, in that it recently opened and alludes to a 'secret' in its very name. Now what is that secret? Well, I've been wondering the same thing, but it draws me back again and again to try and figure out the answer to perhaps an obvious question: good food in a relaxed environment? Hm...no it can't be that obvious.

I stumbled upon the experience with a friend on a recent Sunday afternoon after having spent some time away from culinary delights. It was a nice change of pace to encounter something new and to experience it with a friend who is generally too busy to venture outside of the customary favorites. Our first option had no tables, and with no desire to wait, we walked but a few feet to this little eatery.

The space has a contempo feel, a European vibe, and eclectic fare with a lean to the French and Turkish cuisine. It ranges in address from 8314-8316 on 3rd Street, so no need to be confused by the listing location. The staff are friendly and accommodating to your requests and the chef is open to bending a few recipes to make certain things work for the individual palate (but Shh...that one is a secret). Order from your table which you can pick...pretty much wherever.

Chocolate Liegois
Chocolate Liegois - this French foamy cup of coffee was a subtle blend of bitter and sweet, but paired with a chocolate powder and yielding quite the satisfactory cup. I wasn't sure if I should eat the whipped cream, mix it together, or cut past it to just sip the coffee - it was good either way and has become my new favorite caffeinated treat. I've found that I rather enjoy their coffee menu as a whole, and have witnessed repeat customers in my repeat visits for the coffee alone.

Croque Madame
Croque Madame - had one of the most cleanly cooked eggs I've ever seen on such a sandwich... a generous helping of turkey on the sandwich and simple combination of flavors made it a strong contender for a new sandwich favorite to try at home. The bread was not their traditionally served brioche, so I can't speak for the sandwich as it was intended - but this was a good option.

Almond Croissant - was served warmed, soft to the bite, and tasty on the tongue. The almond paste is a fair amount and evenly distributed, so as to get a try with each bite. Each time I've ordered these they have been served warm and towards the end of the meal (if you're there for something beyond a cup of coffee and a little snack) and pair perfectly with my warm beverage.

Almond Croissant
Their menu features a range of foreign-originated items and the big 'to try' is their Turkish Serpme experience...traditional Turkish light fare meant to be shared and enjoyed. I'll add it to my list of meals to eat in 2012, and am looking forward to a number of breakfasts and lunches here in the future.  Right now the restaurant's little treats are supplied by an outside vendor, but I have heard 'talk' that as the business expands these little morsels will be prepared in-house; an exciting thing, given that in-house prep would imply expansion of the treats they could offer to their customers...which is generally a mouth-watering thought.

With an offering of free wi-fi and no push to leave, it's easy to get settled, get comfy, and get to work on that book, homework assignment, or journal entry.  Conversations can easily be shared as can local artwork. Take a look around while you're there and check out pieces from local artists; this new venue supports creativity and has plans to enhance the dining experience and restaurant in the coming year...you may notice a difference each time with one fundamental constant: Mama's secret will keep you coming back.

Mama's Secret Bakery
8314-16 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Friday, November 11, 2011

Via Delizia


Portland, OR. This great little eatery in the Pearl District was pretty good, but for a traveler like me having wifi available was a definite plus.  I found myself walking by this place several times, unsure of what type of food it actually offered. The menu itself was a bit more rounded than I anticipated in reading reviews, covering an assortment of Italian and Mediterranean fare. They seemed to specialize in gelato and coffee more than anything else, so I certainly had to take a sample after my meal.

I went with their Toscano Sandwich with House Salad and ordered an Almond Latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon (at the recommendation of a friend). Sandwich was good and hearty - larger serving of turkey meat than I would generally expect, a nice surprise. The salad was simple fresh...but within the realm of expectation - Portland organic expectations.

The latte took my attention easily away from the food - smooth, warm, and delicately created. There was no pizzazz or picture creation, just a simple line across its foam. The owner put some effort into this glass, and it was actually recommended to me that he make it. Needless to say, great recommendation, as it was one of the more savory cups I enjoyed across the week.

The service was friendly and my friend who joined was a regular, so I felt a little bit more on the 'in' when it came to enjoying this eatery. For a bite alone, or with a small group to catch up, I can see this being a comfortable spot to chat, write, or just take in the day.

Via Delizia
1105 NW Marshall St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 225-9300
Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pix Patisserie


Portland, OR. Cozy is the appropriate word for such a place, with its tiered up patio chairs on the outside and intimate (and bright) interior. Certainly not a place for a crowd, but on a sunny day, as it was on this particular day, sitting to enjoy the weather with a nice cup of coffee...life seems to slow down just enough for you to enjoy your company and the sweets on which you decide to splurge...

My friend and I warmed up to a Rosemary Mocha Latte and Hazelnut Latte. As I've said in previous postings, Portland seems to know the "secret" behind a good cup of coffee - rosemary infused coffee? Interestingly delicious. Hazelnut paste? Ne'ere powder nor syrup to be found? Wait for the surprise at the bottom of your cup - small remnants of the hazelnut you just drank. A great concoction and great texture on the tongue.

Decadence, simply put, is the word to describe the sweet eats. This isn't a typical croissant and donut type of pairing, as you see the array of delicate French edibles presented in the display. I went for the "Pixie" and "La Frambroise" - both  tasty, although my lean was for the Pixie, with its layers of sweet and hints of salty. La Frambroise, a powdery sweet edible with a sweet raspberry interior, seemed better suited for a winter night, and promptly served after it was made.

With a North and SE location, each hosting the sweet eats and delicious beverages but with a different decorative aesthetic, it will be easy to find the suitable spot to become a regular. It's a shame I don't actually live here, but  I would certainly recommend this cozy place as a stop for locals and travelers alike.

Pix Patisserie
3402 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 232-4407

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