Monday, September 26, 2011

Fat Cat!

Look at my adorable cat!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas

Be jealous.  Be very jealous.

I made Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas from Veganomicon.  They are amazing.

There is nothing that announces the Fall season better than the re-introduction of delicious squash in my eating routine.

You know what I like most about this dish?  The results look homemade.  I'm really quite proud of my misshapen empanadas.
Here are the ingredients I used:
I mixed this dough the dainty way, using two knives to blend it together.  I wouldn't use that method again, however.  It wasn't efficient enough for my tastes.
Once its mixed up, roll it up into a ball then get your rolling pin ready to go.
I tried to be really exact with my measurements of the dough.  It was my first time trying to make empanadas and I think next time I will roll the dough thinner.  In fact, that's my new rule of thumb for rolling dough...just go ahead and make it thinner then you think is necessary.
Here is a picture of the yummy filling getting cooked down.  Maple syrup, red onions, acorn squash, black beans, a few spices.
While the flavors in the filling were melding together, I cut squares from the dough and rolled them out a little larger.
Then it was time to fill them up!
Rinse and repeat until you run out of filling or dough.  Or both at the same time if you're really talented.  The empanada filling was delicious all on its own, so it was served as a side dish a few nights after I made these.
I didn't quite follow the directions in the book for how to fold the empanadas to make them look nicey nice.  So mine definitely look homemade.  But, that's the charm, eh?!

Time to dig in!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

20 Brix

Cincinnati hosts a variety of restaurant weeks.  My favorite by far is the one held by the independent local restaurants featured on  This restaurant week features a three course meal for $26.11 per person (wine/dessert cost extra). 

This year we decided to try 20 Brix Wine Bar and Restaurant in historic Milford.  The name of the restaurant is unique because Brix is the measure of sugar in a liquid, a measure commonly used when talking about wine.

We started the evening with a bottle of wine called The Beach House. 
Doesn't this look cool and refreshing?
Sommelier chosen wine pairings were offered for each menu item, but I felt like having white wine with the whole meal, so I did. :)

My first course was Roasted Cauliflower Veloute, which was similar to a potato soup but with an immense depth of flavor.  Delicious!  You can see the hazelnuts and crushed pepper on it in the picture below.
David started with a classic Iceberg wedge salad.
We also enjoyed some bread.  The butter was blended with lemon and was almost like a cupcake.  It stood out from your normal restaurant bread and butter.
For the second course, David ordered the Lamb Meatballs.
I ordered the seasonal risotto, which came with sweet corn, local teardrop tomatoes, chiles, and aged cheddar cheese.  This was by far my favorite dish.  The picture is unfortunately blurry, as I was unable to hold the camera still in my hurry to get some into my mouth!!
The entree I ordered was very small, but forgivable given the reduced dining price during restaurant week. 

I had the Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops with celery root puree, baby bok choy, chili orange nage, and crispy brussels sprouts.

Ok, so the plating needs a little work.  Or maybe it slid down to one end of the plate.  Who knows.  I had no problem digging in, I assure you!

David got Steak Frites with an arugula salad.
I couldn't resist dessert.  The folks at the table across from us were finishing up their meal when we arrived, and I couldn't help but notice the amazing dessert they ordered.  As soon as they left I asked the waiter about it.  Theirs was some sort of Chocolate Mud Pie Kiss.  Sounded interesting, but not as interesting as the Chocolate Hampton sounded!

ZoMG.  look at this bad boy!
 I asked David to take an action shot of me with the Chocolate Hampton.  I think you can tell by my zany glasses and the weird look in my eye that I am secretly a cat lady.  Ok, perhaps not such a secret any longer...
Delicious.  You'd better believe that we ate every morsel.
This was an excellent meal with excellent service with excellent ambiance.  We will definitely be returning to 20 Brix for more deliciousness soon.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Heaven and Hell Cake

Looks delicious, yes?

This epic, gigantic cake is called a Heaven and Hell Cake.  It's so rich and delightful that I've only dared make it once.  This is the type of cake you need a gallon of milk and a carafe of coffee to consume. 

The best part of this cake is that the name really means something.  The heaven part refers to Angel Food Cake and the Hell part is Devil's Food Cake.  While tasty, this also means that your oven is going to be running for several hours while you bake the different layers.
While the cake layers are cooking, you mix up a peanut butter mousse.  The mousse is a combination of cream cheese, peanut butter, heavy cream, and powdered sugar.  Oh my thighs.
Here is the Angel Food cake after coming out of the oven.  It's a little dark on top, but it doesn't matter since the whole cake will be drenched in chocolate ganache.
Here are the completed layers prior to cake assembly.
Back Left:  Peanut Butter Mousse
Back Right:  Chocolate Ganache
Front Left:  Devil's Food Cake
Front Right:  Angel Food Cake
I cut each cake round in half, so as to make 2 layers of each flavor of cake.  In the picture below, I have started building the cake.  Between each layer of cake you smear a thick layer of peanut butter mousse.
It's getting taller!  This is by far the tallest cake I've ever made.  I think the slices were at least 6 inches high.  Quite impressive if you ask me.
 Once the layers are all stacked up, you simply need to drizzle chocolate ganache over the cake to make it presentable and allow the chocolate to harden in the fridge.  If you're an awesome food blogger, you'll clean off your counter top and put a pretty picture in the background for your final pictures.
Then you put on your party dress and add a big bow in your hair.  And rope your boyfriend into taking your picture!  Yummy yummy!