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"The Bold Fold"

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I learned today that you don’t have to fly to Brussels to find an amazing waffle. All you have to do is get on the 55, exit Chapman, turn right at the Orange Circle, and not park in a permit area. Enter: Bruxie. A friend recently changed jobs and works in the area, and turned our other friend onto Bruxie this weekend. She dragged me back there today.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Waffle
The 15-minute drive was a full blown commercial about what I was in for. Savory and sweet waffle combinations, homemade ‘pure cane’ sugar sodas, and Peet’s iced tea. Sold. Their menu is small, but their flavor big, and I’m disappointed that I wasn’t the Magellan of this roadside waffle stand. There’s no inside (or even a bathroom that I could find to wash the maple syrup from my hands), but the al fresco diner-style tables were the perfect pair to this hand food. 
For me, I went for the buttermilk fried chicken and waffle. Courtney had the bacon, egg and cheddar. And she decided we needed dessert after all that, so we shared the lemon cream and berries waffle. Oh, and the only side they have is, what else? Waffle fries. We had those too. 
Bruxie is caddy-corner to Chapman University, so don’t be surprised if it’s packed on the weekends or at random times throughout the day. Go stand in line though. You won’t be sorry. I’ll probably be there too because I now want the prosciutto and gruyere, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese, and if I can find the room, the s’mores waffle for dessert.
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Happy Anniversary!

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It’s hard to believe that last year at this time I was sitting on a plane, embarking on Culinary Hopscotch. My how the time flies! 
Here’s to another year of culinary discoveries both domestic and abroad. Stay tuned for news about another abbreviated installment this summer!

Newport Beach Restaurant Week!

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It’s that time again…when restaurants all over town put together affordable prix fixe menus to get you through their doors. It’s Newport Beach Restaurant Week!
Get out and dine this week at a variety of neighborhood hotspots on the cheap. I’m heading to Summer House tomorrow for lunch. Where will you be dining this week?

Brownie Sundaes with Burrata and Balsamic Glaze

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This dessert came from a picture in my head, and sadly, I’m without photos of its fruition this past weekend. I apologize for that and the stock photos below, but I felt inclined to give you something to look at. It sounds weird, but brownie sundaes with burrata and balsamic glaze were the perfect end to a fantastic dinner with friends. 

Tasked with the dessert portion of the menu, I wanted to come up with something new and different. I started thinking about what to make, and easy and traditional just didn’t seem right given the guest list. If you took attendance, you’d find that 2/3’s of the table were foodies, worked in the food industry, or some combination thereof. In fact, in thinking back to the previous dinner party at our hosts’ house, the burrata cheese appetizer she made came to mind. 

Much discussion had centered around that burrata we’d had a few weeks prior, so I wanted to incorporate it into my dessert. But how? Burrata is a traditionally savory ingredient, and I was to be making dessert. I mulled it over, and then over again, and thought, ‘why couldn’t this silky-in-the-center mozzarella from the water buffalo take the place of ice cream?’ Made with milk and cream, it seemed like a perfectly suitable stand-in.

And it was. I was pleased that the dessert came together as I had imagined because I didn’t have time for a trial run prior to arriving. Fortunately, it was perfect: a layer of the burrata over the sweet chocolate brownie base was topped with a touch of fleur de sel and a balsamic glaze I had reduced earlier in the day. The dessert touched three of the five basic tastes, sweet, salty and sour, and in my opinion, seemed like something you would find on a high-end restaurant’s menu. Molto bene!

Happy Holidays from Culinary Hopscotch

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I’ve been backed-up with holiday functions for the last five days. And being that I’ll be out of town for Christmas and recently moved into a new place, I decided to have the girls over this evening for a home-cooked meal and a holiday gift exchange. 

The weather in California is dreary at best right now, and while looking out the window and thinking about what to make tonight, I’m realizing that this is the first break in the rain that we’ve had in a few days. What to make? Something cozy. Something comforting. Done.

On the Menu: 

  • Mache Salad with Citrus Spring Onion Vinaigrette & Avocado
  • Cornbread
  • Goat Cheese & Chive Smashed Potatoes
  • Mini Turkey Meatloaves 
  • Homemade Chocolate Lollipops with Slivered Almonds, Peppermint-White Chocolate Dust & Fleur de Sel 

Salad

Mache is a tender lettuce also known as lamb’s ear. I first used this in Bordeaux during my cooking class, and have been wishing for it ever since. Perhaps I didn’t search well enough because I found it today at Trader Joe’s in the bagged salad section. It’s grown hydroponically so sometimes you’ll find it in plastic cartons with the sponge still attached. Just snip it off. 

For the dressing, combine the juice of a lemon, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup of spring onion, one small clove of garlic, minced, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and pour over the mache topped with slices of avocado. 


Cornbread


I cheated and used boxed cornbread mix. It’s just as good and makes things simple, freeing up my time and attention for the rest of the meal.


Goat Cheese & Chive Smashed Potatoes

Before you get jumpy about how fattening these sound, just know that these potatoes are surprisingly figure-friendly. Goat cheese is lower in fat than you think, and I opted to use Yukon Gold potatoes that are a good source of Vitamin C. You can peel the potatoes, or leave the skin-on, which is what I did because I like the variation in texture. The goat cheese helps the milk and butter make the potatoes creamy, and the chives give it a punch of color and a punch on your tongue. 


Cover the potatoes with cold water and boil until fork tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Drain and return to pan. Add in 5 ounces of goat cheese, 4 Tbsp of butter, and start with a 1/2 cup of milk. Season with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher, or you can mash them with a fork. Add more milk if necessary, and stir in the chives when you achieve the desired consistency.


Mini Turkey Meatloaves


One of the challenges of cooking for a group is that not everyone likes the same things. This person doesn’t eat red meat, this person doesn’t like mushrooms, and so forth. It’s an ongoing challenge. Tonight, I’m making meatloaf work for everyone by using ground turkey. And I’m livening it up by making the mini meatloaves in a muffin tin. Charming, quicker, and a good way to portion the meatloaf: winner.


My meatloaf recipe is a combination of ground meat (turkey this time), garlic, shallot, onion, Panko breadcrumbs, egg, ground sage or poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper. Using your hands, combine it in a bowl until just mixed. Over-mixing will cause the meat to become tough. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, making sure to coat it well. Drop the meatloaf mixture into each cup, taking care not to pack it down too much. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife emerges clean from the center. 

Chocolate Lollipops

This recipe came from Ina Garten as part of her ‘Barefoot in London’ episode on The Food Network. For people who hate to bake (myself included), this should be your new go-to dessert. It’s incredibly simple. 

Take 12 ounces of semi-sweet or white chocolate chips and place in a microwave-safe bowl. In 30-second intervals, microwave the chocolate, stirring in between. Repeat three times, and add 4 more ounces of chocolate. Allow it to melt, and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth and completely melted. Spoon the chocolate onto a parchment-, wax- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, and insert a lollipop stick. Give it a little turn to make sure it’s covered in chocolate. Decorate with nuts, dried fruit, or additional candy, and allow to harden for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. I chose slivered almonds, a sprinkle of fleur de sel, and I used a microplane to shave white chocolate-peppermint flakes over mine. They look like they sat out in the snow.
 
Bon appetit! 

I hope these recipes give you ideas for one of your remaining meals of 2010. And if you run out of time, give them a try in 2011. Happy holidays from Culinary Hopscotch! 




And We’re Off!

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The hopscotching begins tomorrow with a non-stop flight from LAX to CDG. From there, we’ll try our luck with Air France onto Lyon and finally, Brussels. 

With the French strike that’s been underway for the last week or so, things could get interesting upon touchdown. This isn’t even a dedicated airport strike, and as we all know, French airport workers are notorious for leaving bags on the runway in favor of croissants and carafes of wine in cafes. Or so someone will understand their plight. Whatever.

Armed with Delta Platinum status, we’re hoping we don’t have to make a call to the bullpen. Stay tuned!

4 Days, 13 Hours and 13 Minutes

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See that over there? Le tableau des departs? In a few short days, we will be seeing a number of them as we hopscotch over to Brussels, Paris and St. Petersburg. Nous ne pouvons pas attendre!