Thursday, March 29, 2012

WoodSpoon

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Los Angeles, CA. There are few better ways to end an enjoyable day than a nice home-cooked meal from a warm and friendly kitchen. With its simple decor, efficient wait staff, and a straight-forward menu, it plays host to a careful blend of traditional Brazilian flavors from the owner’s very own childhood. Dishes are made from locally grown ingredients, selected by the restaurant staff and owner herself. The unique approach to fresh is taken one step beyond just the ingredients, as each item is prepared on the order to maintain the freshest and most delicious of tastes.

After taking our seats along the street-facing window, a waiter brought over a carafe filled with ice cold water. Following in the tradition of her mother, the restaurant’s owner infuses water with spices or fruit (like cinnamon, cucumber, mint, mango) to add an extra quality to a rather flavorless beverage. We checked out the menu, but truth-be-told, we came for a specific talked-about item: pot pie.

Brazilian Pot Pie - came out hot with pockets of steam escaping the flaky topping with every new bite; it was definitely worth the stop. The crust was delicately soft and flaky, with a hint of butter. The filling was gratuitously stuffed with chicken, corn, roasted potatoes, olives, and hearts of palm. All was folded into a sauce that was phenomenal in its own right: steamy, creamy and providing balance to the other ingredients. The dish was served with a side of a garlic dipping sauce and greens tossed in a vinaigrette. There was no real need for a beverage, as the mango, orange, or cinnamon water was a fun twist on refreshing.

The family feel and community aesthetic, is only one of many positive attributes identifying this eatery as standing on its own in a city saturated with those placating to the palate. This isn’t a run-of-the-mill, get-in-get-out restaurant. It's like walking into someone's home and they just happen to have a few things to try. After an enjoyable in the city, it seemed perfect to stop in such an environment where we could sit down, take a load off, and have a new family welcome us in and fill us up before we look back at the day, smile, and think, “I can’t wait to come back!”


WoodSpoon
107 W 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 629-1765
www.woodspoonla.com
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sockerbit

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New York, NY. Whether the craving is for cola pops or sour fish, chocolate covered banana chips, or simply milk chocolate with a toffee finish, Sockerbit fills the craving while introducing its customers to  Scandinavian candy culture. Purposeful design creates its muted but modern aesthetic directing one's gaze directly to the transparent bins of rainbow color lining the walls. The spacious interior, allowing and promoting the collection of tourists and locals alike, seems somewhat necessary, as the little candies may be overwhelming to grasp. A floating candy connoisseur is readily available to answer questions and guide its customers through this magical journey that readily becomes a memorable favorite. 

The store's name actually translates to sugar cube, a confection also served up in one of the the candy bins, though not tried by my friend nor I. We gathered some of our personal favorites including chocolate and sour, but the specialty shop itself was the highlight. Sockerbit prides itself in serving candies of high quality ingredients, free of trans fats, possessing natural coloring, and states plainly that its little candies are free of genetically modified ingredients. The broad selection of childhood sweets supported the combination of components that made for a tasty snack on the way home from an extended day of food indulgence.

Candy Treats
A fun fact for this momentary stop: it was hard to leave without a smile, and though candy is not a traditional craving of mine coming back will remain on the menu.

Sockerbit
89 Christopher St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 206-8170
www.sockerbit.com
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream

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The smell of cinnamon awakens a holiday spirit in me - fondly recounting the days of freshly baked pies, cakes and other comforting treats. In such frame of mind (and while being left alone in the kitchen), I took one of my family's pie favorites and adjusted it to be enjoyed as an ice cream and at any time of year. I topped it off with a homemade Pecan Brittle and enjoyed a snack with a nostalgic flavor. 


Ingredients
Prep Time: 20 minutes
5 Servings

3/4 Cup Nonfat Milk
1/2 Cup Nonfat Evaporated Milk
1/4 Cup Sugar, Granulated 
1/8 Cup Brown Sugar 
1 Cup Sweet Potatoes, Pureed 
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract  
1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

Set aside the nonfat milk. Combine the evaporated milk, sugars, sweet potatoes, vanilla, and cinnamon until well-mixed. If an ice cream freezer is NOT available, place into an air-tight freezer safe container and place in a standard freezer. Every 45 minutes, use a spatula to stir and pour in 1/4 cup of the nonfat milk each time the batch is checked. Continue until desired consistency is reached (it took approx. 3 hours in my freezer). If an ice cream freezer IS available, combine all milk with the ingredients and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream + Pecan Brittle
It's probably been noticed that I don't use an ice cream freezer, though I've found this little cheat to work quite well. Similar to the Banana Ice Cream, I rely on the prime ingredient instead of a rich custard base. The taste is more full-bodied to me, it doesn't seem to melt as quickly, and I don't get an upset stomach, all successes in my book!

Nutrition Info (Ice Cream Only - 1/2 Cup)
Calories: 155, Total Fat: 0.2g, Sat. Fat: 0.1g, Cholest.: 1.8mg, Sodium: 64.8mg, Carb.: 34.3g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 25.9g, Protein: 4.1g
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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rounds Premium Burgers

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West Hollywood, CA. The "gourmet" burger trend in Los Angeles seems to be growing exponentially with burger bars, kitchens, and burger menus popping up at new and old eateries alike. So why not park on the street and take a seat at this burger joint with an order format similar to its "pencil-it-down" competitors. Thankfully the difference here is that it makes for a more casual dining experience, sits at a significantly lower cost, while catering a generous mouthful.

Choices of beef, chicken breast, tuna, turkey or veggie are offered but each time I've come to Rounds Premium Burgers the burgers are where I tend to steer.  How pricey a meal gets is completely within the customer's control and start pretty low with the patty + free toppings + bun included. A respectable burger with extra sauce, cheese, or premium fixings can still hit at less than $9.00 -  not too shabby. Still hungry? Sweet potato and standard fries are also on the menu to pair up with the personalized eat.

Burger + Fresh Bun, sauce on the side
Burger + Fresh Bun –  was not quite mom 'n pop but still hard to put down. The beef was moist, lean, and tasty. The chopped lettuce and caramelized onions were included along the standard penciled path and a slice of cheddar was added for fun. A fried egg topped the creation before the warm, toasted bun was placed to finish it off. Chipotle ketchup was ordered on the side to apply at will. The result yielded a burger similar to a personal favorite and was quite the delicious success!

Tips:
  1. ‘Sauce on the Side’ – the sauces are pretty potent here and are heavy-handed in the serving. Putting them on at the eater’s discretion seems best. 
  2. ‘Wheat, pretty please?’ – this household bun runs out quickly, but if fiber is the need then mixed greens are a great runner-up. 
It looks like there IS a happy medium between popular fast food chains and high-priced gourmet. Rounds Premium Burgers is relaxed, reasonably-priced, and finger-licking good, making it difficult to not become a regular. Is there any harm in adding another burger spot to the list? I didn't think so!


Rounds Premium Burgers
8871 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 855-1004
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Monday, March 05, 2012

Pecan Brittle

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It's time for an impressive sweet treat that is so simple to make it could be a joke. I was in the kitchen, staring at a few ingredients and figured I could switch up this ole peanut favorite. The brittle takes on a caramel tone and melts in your mouth with the next little chew. It's brittle + taffy + caramel in my opinion, but check it out for yourself!


Ingredients
Prep Time: 15 minutes
16 Pieces

1/8 Cup Water, Room Temperature
1/2 Cup Sugar, Granulated
4 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup
1/8 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Pecans, Chopped
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Butter, Unsalted

Pecan Brittle (soft)
Boil the water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt on medium heat until dissolved; consistency will take on a thickened syrup. Stir in chopped pecans. When small bubbles begin to appear, remove from heat and immediately stir in baking soda and butter. Fold onto a non-stick surface (I used parchment) and allow to set at room temperature. 

Pecan Brittle (hard)
The brittle firmed up overnight in this recipe. The next day I used a pizza cutter to evenly break the brittle into pieces. Whether it be for a small dinner get-together or a personal snack, enjoy!


Nutrition Info (1 Serving)
Calories: 70, Total Fat: 3.2g, Sat. Fat: .7g, Cholest.: 1.9mg, Sodium: 61.1mg, Carb.: 11g, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugars: 7.9g, Protein: 0.3g

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