Foodie News

superb_owl

Greetings and salutations!

So, who’s ready for some FOOTBALL!!! Well, not me cuz while the big game is located on home turf, my beloved NY Giants just didn’t make the cut this year (AGAIN! But I digress).

There are some great appetizer options that are quick and easy to make or if you have a ton of time on your hands and love a challenge. For instance we’ve got the adorable and delicious Chicken and Waffle Bites which you can make entirely from scratch OR pull out some chicken nuggets and Eggo mini waffles from the freezer and plate them in mini cupcake liners and straws in your team colors along with your favorite syrup.

Couldn’t be simpler and oh so good!

And what’s a football game without cheesy potato skins? Check out this link for the recipe!

Are ya drooling yet?

I know I know “But I’m on a diet! I can’t eat that! My heartburn!” I hear ya folks. Football snacks don’t have to be about dripping grease and fat and cheese but it also doesn’t mean you have to be stuck grazing by the obligatory veggie platter or crackers and dip that look like something you’d feed to your parrot. For those of you who are more health conscious, whether you want to be or not, we have Sweet Potato Skins, Herb Marinated Chicken Skewers, and Strawberry Footballs!

C’mon, you know you want some!

Personally, this Sunday I’ll be tweaking a tried and true favorite with my friends and family: Smoky Cranberry Wings

NOM!

In local news, I’ll be entering my Pasta di Formaggio Mediterraneo in the Seminole Heights Sunday Morning Market 1st Annual Mac and Cheese Cook off on Sunday February 9th from 12-2pm at Hillsborough High School located at 5000 N. Central Avenue, Tampa. Tasting tickets are available for $7 and allows you to sample every dish in the contest and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award. There are only 140 tickets available so don’t wait to get in on all the creamy cheesy goodness! All proceeds benefit Metropolitan Ministries’ culinary training program, Inside the Box.

More news to come. Stay warm and safe out there. Chow for now!

Advertisements

Menu for December 14th

Seasons greetings to all!

This week Ybor City Saturday Market will be hosting Art in the Park. A fantastic event that brings out local artists, young and old. There are also lots of vendors selling some great stuff for the holidays. At our festively decorated booth we will be selling more of our creamy and delicious mint cream chocolate Yule Logs and crispy chocolate hazelnut snoballs.

IMG_0139

$2 each

$2 each

We’ll also have some delicious S’more Pops, marshmallow dipped in homemade chocolate ganache and dusted with graham cracker crumbs, and our Key Lime Crunch pops, chocolate coated marshmallow topped with crunchy key lime flavored candy. 

IMG_0164

As always, we try to have a healthier alternative for the calorie conscious and this week’s option is our Sugared Cranberries. Fresh tart cranberries bursting with flavor rolled in chocolate, sugar or cinnamon sugar is a nice treat that won’t hit your waistline as hard.

IMG_0160

Another new addition to the booth this week is our Christmas Bark. Crunchy pieces of peppermint, butterscotch and maple peanut candies and chewy gumdrops are immersed in soft fudgey Ghirardeli chocolate. Finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread so we’ll also be selling our light and fluffy Lemon Gingerbread cake.

IMG_0161

Christmas Bark

IMG_0168

This will be our final appearance at the Ybor City Saturday Market in 2013 as we’ll be out of town for Yule and due to my husband, Paul’s commitment to the Wounded Warrior Navy team, we will be in Hawaii in January for training and competition. A heartfelt thanks to all of you who donate your frequent flyer miles and to Hero Miles for making this trip possible! Barring acceptance for the new season, Comfy Confections will return to Ybor City Saturday Market January 18th. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!

Menu for December 7th

Seasons Greetings everyone!

I hope you had a nice drama free Turkey Day with the family. Even though here in Florida we aren’t getting inundated with snow and ice like the rest of the country, the temps have been dipping low enough to put us in the spirit of the season and is the theme our this week’s menu.

First up is our mini Yule Logs. Moist chocolate cake is wrapped around mint chocolate cream and coated in rich chocolate ganache that is adorned with mushrooms made of marshmallow and Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses, holly leaves and cherry sour holly berries. This rich cake serves 2-3 people depending on how thin you slice it.

IMG_0139

$10 each

Next is our chocolate hazelnut snowballs. This crunchy delight is made from crispy chocolate rice cereal, crushed hazelnut and Nutella with a dusting of sugar snow.

$2 each

$2 each

We’ll also be selling sweet and buttery Christmas Cookies and we’ll be trying our hand at homemade pretzels! Expect to find warm and delicious pretzels available with and without salt, butter. Depending on demand, we also hope to bring you wheat pretzels, gluten free pretzels and pretzel bites.

Winter may be here but Comfy Confections is just getting warmed up! See you Saturday at the Ybor City Saturday Market.

Menu for November 23rd

Anyone else tired of the camel?

Happy Friday all!

Apologies for the delay in posting but I have been a baking fool this week. In the spirit of the holiday my moist and luscious pumpkin bundt with cinnamon glaze and apple cinnamon popovers topped with cinnamon sugar have made a comeback.

Pumpkin bundt w/cinnamon glaze

Pumpkin bundt w/cinnamon glaze

I have also experimented with some old flavors and will be presenting apple pockets and pecan pockets. A flaky crust filled with sweet juicy apples, cinnamon and sugar and crunchy pecans surrounded by gooey maple and molasses flavored goodness. $1 each.

IMG_0128

My further experimentation with homemade marshmallow yielded some unexpected results. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that while I make a mean yorkshire pudding and my ropa vieja have brought people to their knees in awe, I cannot for the life of me, make Jello. It’s the damnedest thing, even my teachers in culinary school couldn’t understand it. So when I decided to incorporate Jello flavors into my homemade marshmallows I already knew I was in for a fight and fight I did. The end result is my fantastically chewy chocolate dipped mint and vanilla marshmallows. These of course came out exactly how I wanted them to and I couldn’t be happier!

IMG_0129

$2 each

However, I also found myself with lots of marshmallow cream that tasted fantastic and smells like Fruity Pebbles but just wouldn’t stiffen enough to be dipped in chocolate. So I decided to sandwich them between two chewy homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies to create a delicious and gooey delight. Whoopie Pies are made with cake and cream and I adore them. I never knew they existed until we were transferred to Maine 4 years ago but there is just no way I could get the cream to hold in the heat of the Florida sunshine even now in mid-November. Instead I’ve made Yippee Pies which are available in two sizes, $2 for the smaller ones and $5 for large, and in original vanilla, strawberry, orange, mixed berry and pineapple.

IMG_0118

$2 each

$5 each

$5 each

Once again we’ll have gifts available for purchase for the holidays now through the end of December.

100_1824 100_1825

The weather is looking beautiful so come on out to the Ybor City Saturday Market tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans and Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers. Safe travels to all.

November Charity Recipients

Good morning to all!

Our fundraising efforts for the month of October went well considering the level of crowds we saw at the markets we hit but this month we’d like to do better. Here is why we have chosen this month’s recipients:

During the summer of 2007, my husband Paul was deployed with the US Coast Guard. He was climbing the mast of his 210 foot ship  to conduct some routine electrical work when a faulty latch on the 30 lb metal hatch he had opened to crawl through gave way. As the ship bobbed along the waves the hatch came crashing back down cracking his skull open and crushing his hand.

Imagine getting hit with one of these?

The months that followed brought night terrors, anxiety and depression all of which Paul tried in vain to suppress. He was a military man and military men sucked it up and moved on. It’s all in my head, he kept telling himself, but as the months stretched in years more and more problems began to arise. His hearing and eyesight began to fail him as did his memory and concentration. He suffered from terrible headaches on a daily basis and debilitating migraines 4 or 5 times a year. Paul kept losing his balance and falling down resulting in two shoulder surgeries. He would suddenly fly into fits of rage from one minute to the next in a way that would make Mr. Hyde step back and say “Whoa, dude, take it easy!” Trips to medical personnel on my insistence turned up nothing and Paul kept insisting it was all in his head which of course was what the Coast Guard kept telling him. Then one day after an event at the local Burger King where Paul threw a burger at the cashier because he’d gotten the order wrong and told an elderly customer to drop dead followed by roughly collaring one of our dogs for barking too much I put my foot down. The man I married was a funny, intelligent, easy going guy and the maniac I saw before me wasn’t him. I uttered a sentence I never thought in my life I would ever say. “You go get help right now or I’m leaving you!”

Another round of doctors, specialists and in-depth testing both physical and psychological turned up 3 different diagnoses including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). When the hatch hit Paul in the head the brain was jostled in such a way that it damaged core pieces in the front of the brain which resulted in all the issues we were seeing. He underwent therapy with multiple doctors and treatment centers but the folks up in Maine where we had been stationed could go no further. His issues were beyond their level of expertise and even working together they admitted they did not have the knowledge to help him. “This is as far as you’ll go, you’ll just have to live with it.” He was told.

Paul always thrived on his high intelligence level and the fact he couldn’t operate on all cylinders wasn’t helping. He wanted to be able to do more, push the envelope, but he had no one to help him and fell into an even deeper depression. The man I loved was slipping away and it was only a matter of time before he became a statistic. I searched all over the country for TBI specialists who were willing to take his case and help him but kept being told no. His condition was too old, they only helped patients with recent injuries. Finally, a clinic in Colorado put me in touch with the specialists at what used to be Walter Reed. Unfortunately they too had their hands full with recent soldiers returning from the war in the Gulf but they pointed us in the direction of the James Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL.

Paul and his service dog, Rosie, went inpatient at the hospital for three weeks where he was given 6 more diagnoses for a total of 9 separate issues that were responsible for the physical, mental and emotional problems we’d been seeing. During his last week at the hospital the Fisher House Foundation invited me to stay within the local area so that I could spend time with him and help him adjust back into normal life outside the hospital.

IMG_0162

Fisher House Foundation build and donate homes to the military and Department of Veterans Affairs which enable family members to be close to a loved one during the hospitalization for a combat injury, illness or disease absolutely free!  These homes are located near a medical center or hospital and consists of between 8 and 21 suites with private bedrooms and baths, a common kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious dining room and an inviting living room with a library and toys for children. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program which uses donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge.  At the time of Paul’s hospitalization, the Fisher House associated with the hospital was full so I was put up at the beautiful Embassy Suites for free 🙂 The Foundation also manages a grant program that supports other military charities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses and children of fallen and disabled veterans and during the recent government shutdown when Washington dropped the ball on paying out death benefits to families and flying the bodies of fallen soldiers home to be buried, The Fisher House Foundation stepped up to foot the bill!

Before he left the hospital and we situated to our new home in the Tampa Bay area, Paul was contacted by a group we’d never heard of called the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound while serving in the military on or after September 11, 2001 and their families with a holistic approach to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. This includes interactive programs, outdoor rehabilitative retreats, peer support, and professional services, adaptive sports, health, nutrition, and recreational activities, higher education programs, information technology training, and employment assistance, the Policy & Government affairs program and a Benefits Service program that provides access to government benefits and details on all WWP programs and community resources. It is WWP’s mission to give warriors “the tools to maintain healthy, meaningful relationships with family and friends, and pursue life goals without the barriers or stigmas associated with mental health issues.” During the recent government shutdown, WWP also stepped up and announced they would be sending checks to the 40,000+ warriors in their program to assist in paying bills and surviving if veteran benefits ceased.

They asked him about his interests and what hoped to accomplish in the near future. As is common with people in his condition, Paul wasn’t interested in anything and hadn’t considered anything that involved leaving the house except to buy a new video game to play in a dark room 16 hours a day. With the help of his team at James Haley and WWP, I was able to get Paul to start trying new experiences and within the year he was swimming with dolphins, going to games, sky diving and cycling. He was actually becoming gung ho about leaving the house for Wounded Warrior events and even more importantly, he was developing bonds with his fellow wounded soldiers and sailors. Seeing the change that comes over these men and women is just phenomenal! When everyone first arrive, they’re strangers. They’re standoffish, hanging back and watching everything silently, cautiously but by the end of the event they’re bosom buddies! You could swear they knew each other all their lives. What really stayed with me was the nearly 180 degree change in Paul’s manner and demeanor during these events and since becoming involved with WWP. There are times when it’s almost like my husband has returned to me completely and it’s all thanks to the Wounded Warrior Project. Now Paul is talking about returning to college to get a PhD in Psychology and becoming a Peer Mentor among other things. Not only is he less hesitant to venture outside but he wants to help others just like him!

022_22

The Wounded Warrior Project also has wellness opportunities to help the oft neglected caregiver/spouse with retreats and monthly events that not only give us a moment to breathe and relax but allows us to bond with others dealing with the stress and tough days that come with the lives we now lead while reminding us that we are not alone. And so for all of these reasons, in honor of Veterans Day, for the entire month of November all proceeds from our Patriot Fudge will benefit The Fisher House Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project! 🙂

544423_3705085885292_1178532081_n

It’s All Happening at Ybor City This Saturday!

Good morrow good people!

I don’t know about you but I am psyched about the festivals happening at Ybor City Saturday October 12th. First up, yours truly will not only be vending at tomorrow’s 3rd Annual Cupcake Festival but we’ve entered the contest for Tampa’s Best Cupcake Maker.  A panel of local judges will munch their way through 20 entries to determine the best-tasting cupcakes along with the best-looking creations. Winners will earn the title of “Best Cupcake in Tampa Bay 2013,” along with up to $400 in cash prizes.

Here’s our entry, we call it the Have S’more Cupcake! Moist and chewy graham cracker cake infused with our very own rich chocolate ganache and topped with homemade marshmallow and a dusting of chocolate.

IMG_0052

These will be available for purchase after the judging is over at noon. In the meantime you’ll still be able to try and buy our other creations at the festival. You’ll go bananas for our Bananas Foster cupcake made with banana flavored cake with homemade caramel and baked bananas at the bottom and caramelized sugar on top. Kids will love our PB&J cupcakes blending grape flavored cake and frosting made with natural peanut butter.

Also in time for Halloween is our Candy Corn Dream cupcake which tastes even better than it looks! Orange and lemon cake batter has been poured into each cup together and topped with festively colored vanilla butter cream icing.

Finally we’ve brought back the British favorite, Jaffa Cake, in the form of a cupcake with our rich chocolate ganache topping.

IMG_0054

If you experience cupcake overload at the festival, fear not! We will also be selling your favorite mini apple pie, mini pecan pie and Chocolate Espresso mini bundt cake.

So come check out the Ybor City Saturday Market at Centennial Park (corner of 8th Ave & 19th St.), 1901 19th Street, Tampa, FL 33605 Saturday Oct., 12, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and stick around for Streetcar Fest 2013. Ride the TECO Line Streetcar for only 25 cents from 10 a.m. – 1:30 a.m and check out all the events and sights there is to see!

October Happenings and a New Venue

Greetings and salutations!

After a brief hiatus, Comfy Confections is gearing up for the holidays at our new venue, the Ybor City Saturday Market. Your favorite mini apple pies will be available this weekend as well as our new Pumpkin Crunch Mini Pie blending autumn spices with velvety pumpkin flavor and the crunch of toasted pecans.

Not the exact pie but you get the idea

Also returning is an experimental dish that made a big hit at the Art and Soul Food Festival last month. Our decadent Chocolate Espresso cake, described by one customer as “flavor that just punches you in the face” will be available this weekend in mini bundt form.

Have some cake!

We’re also starting the celebration of one of our favorite holidays with an assortment of Spookies. Starting from $3, you can take home a box of delicious homemade sugar cookies shaped as coffins, headstones, witches, cauldrons, brooms, spiders and webs, cats, bats, moons, candy corn, haunted houses and ghosts. For those who aren’t feeling the spirit of Halloween we also have a nice assortment of Harvest cookies featuring Oak and Maple leaves, apples and pumpkins for $5.

Also not the exact cookies but you get the idea

Finally, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a cause near and dear to Comfy Confections, we are offering the Neapolitan Booby cupcake. A rich chocolate and vanilla cupcake with a bold raspberry jalapeño icing (or strawberry icing for those who prefer a more subtle fruit flavor) presented in a pretty pink paisley cup can be yours for $3. All proceeds for the Neapolitan Booby cupcake will go to the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Do I need to say it again? 😉

So join us at the Ybor City Saturday Market this Saturday from 9-3 and Sunday at Stained Marketplace for the Art & Soul Food Festival from 11-4pm.

FoodStart Fundraiser kicks off today!

Greetings and salutations!

As you may or may not know, my husband and I have dreamed of opening a gastropub one day. A nice cozy place with soft lights, the works of local artists adorning deep wine colored walls as patrons lounge and listen to a poet or up and coming musician play. Other nights guests enjoy sampling new wines, coffee and food that may soon grace a seasonally changing menu while hearing how wine or coffee is made or taking part in a cooking lesson with their significant other. Still other nights college students, families or groups of friends out on the town scream and yell and jump up and down as they compete for prizes on trivia nights or local groups gather to contemplate the ideas and interests that have brought their members together. All while enjoying freshly made favorite dishes from their homeland and deliciously unique combinations of comfort fusion cuisine.

Well, everything has a beginning and Comfy Confections is the start of our dream gastropub. It is our intention to join the food truck fervor and expand into The Comfy Cafe food truck in 2014. Of course we’ll need your help to make it happen so check out our campaign page on FoodStart and all the perks and rewards we’re offering for getting on board with us and please, spread the word. Help us make our dream a reality!

 

Market appearance

This week Comfy Confections makes its debut at the Outdoor Market of Stained Marketplace in Ybor City. We’ll be selling slices of fresh baked apple pie made completely from scratch and mini apple pies that fit in the palm of your hand. We’ll have our special homemade Jaffa cake slices and mini cakes infused with a creamy orange liqueur and coated with a luscious chocolate ganache and some delicious Millionaire’s Shortbread derived from the people of Australia.

Don’t forget to try our awesome line of cookie cups! This week we have the Frappuccino Cookie Cup, a mocha cookie cup filled with delicious caramel made entirely from scratch; our Chocolate Lovers Cookie Cup, a chocolate chocolate chip cookie cup filled with fresh chocolate ganache and our Euro cup featuring a sweet sugar cookie filled with Italian hazelnut spread and topped with bits of English toffee. We’re also introducing a taste of Fall with our Autumn Cookie Cup, a gingersnap cookie cup filled with pumpkin spice flavored marshmallow whip and dusted with nutmeg.

Finally, for those of you watching your figure we have a range of fat free and low fat items. This week we’ll be selling 90 calorie Apple Oatmeal muffins and mini cakes and 100 calorie Banana Crunch mini loaves.

So join us Thursday August 22 through Sunday August 25 from 8am to noon at Stained Marketplace 2106 East 15th Avenue, Tampa. We take cash and credit cards and advance orders are always welcome.

FALL TASTING EVENT CANCELLED

Good morrow to all!

Unfortunately, restrictions at the location this event was planned has caused us to cancel the tasting for the time being. However, if you’ll check the schedule tab you’ll see Comfy Confections can now be found as a vendor at the Outdoor Market held at Stained Marketplace in Ybor City. Cash and credit/debit cards are accepted and any orders placed with us can be picked up at our booth. You can also try some free samples if you can’t make up your mind what to buy although I warn you, the tasting of samples won’t make your decision any easier and may prompt you to buy more;)

We’re in negotiations to set up in other locations and events in the Tampa Bay area so watch this space for updates!

Tasting Event Menu

comfy confections internet banner

If you’ve been following along, you’re aware that Comfy Confections has a Tasting Event coming up on Saturday, August 17th from 10am until 2pm in Tampa. Here are some of the goodies you can expect to find at this event:

Pie (Slices and mini pies)

Country Apple, Blueberry and Pumpkin

Filled with Pink Lady or MacIntosh (depending on seasonal availability) and Granny Smith apples bathed in cinnamon sugar/fresh blueberries/creamy pumpkin filling and wrapped in a crispy flaky crust.

Cake (Slices and mini cakes)

Jaffa bundt

Infused with orange liqueur and topped with ganache made with real Ghirardelli chocolate.

Green Tea Katsutera

Decadent Spanish style sponge cake flavored with green tea and a dusting of chocolate.

Moravian Sugar Cake

Dense buttery cake with cinnamon and brown sugar

Hawaiian Butter Cake

Sweet and creamy cake kissed by a coconut

Scottish Millionaire Shortbread

Crunchy shortbread blends with smooth caramel and crispy chocolate

Cupcakes

Chocolate spice

Luscious chocolate with a nice bite of fruit and heat

Frappuccino

Rich coffee with creamy salted caramel

PB&J

Grape cakes (yes that’s right, I said grape) with natural peanut butter icing

Cake Pops

Ann Nog Pops

Creamy vanilla and coconut flavored pop dusted with cinnamon sugar

S’more Pops

Rich Ghirardelli chocolate and natural peanut butter pops slathered in marshmallow icing

Trop Pops

Pineapple orange cake pop coated in vanilla icing dusted with coconut flakes

Dream Pops

Tangy orange cake pop infused with orange liqueur and coated in rich white chocolate

Cookies

Citrus Drop

Zesty lemon and lime cookies with a satisfying crunch

Peppermint Puff

A light and fluffy mint reminder of the holiday season

Cookie Cup

Warm and crunchy cups with a variety of fillings

Lowfat Delites

Banana Crunch Cake

A guilty pleasure that won’t take too much of a toll on your waistline

Apple Oatmeal Muffin

A healthy and filling breakfast option that keeps you honest

Strawberry Streusel Muffin

A delicious anytime muffin that helps keep off the pounds

This event is a free sneak preview of our Fall/Winter menu. Be prepared to provide feedback via a short poll. If you haven’t already, like us on Facebook! See you on the 17th!

Comfy Confections Menu items

comfy confections internet banner

Good morning all!

With the temperature due to start dropping in a few weeks and farmer’s markets opening for the Fall, we thought we’d give you an idea of the type of items you can expect to see at our booth in the Tampa Bay area.

First is my scrumptious apple pie made from scratch. Fresh Pink Lady/MacIntosh and Granny Smith apples give a nice sweet and tart flavor blend anchored by fragrant slurry of cinnamon and sugar in a flaky crust. It’s a popular favorite with friends and family and every Fall and Winter without fail I get requests to make and bring this dish for gatherings.

Scratch Apple Pie

Next is a new favorite among friends and family. The British hubby and I have long been fans of the Jaffa cake. For those of you who may not know a Jaffa cake is a soft sponge cake filled with a Jaffa orange marmalade and topped with a crunchy chocolate coating. As these delicacies are few and far between here in the US, I’ve always wanted to capture the flavor exactly and by jove, I think I’ve done it! The first bite of my moist and fluffy Jaffa Bundt cake will remind you of a rich Dreamsicle with tones of vanilla and orange blending together. Then the orange liqueur infused in the cake will give you a nice slap in the mouth as the luscious ganache made with real Ghiradelli chocolate caresses your tastebuds. Truly an orgasmic delight!

In keeping with the international theme, we bring you the sweet and decadent Omm Ali. This rich and creamy Egyptian bread pudding will more than satisfy any sweet tooth. Have a glass of milk ready folks!

348d9-img_20120317_105916

We also can’t wait for you to sink your teeth into our rice cakes to be named later. These little treats are inspired by Japanese mochi and feature sweet fillings like mango and orange marmalade and spicy and exotic flavors like strawberry jalapeño. There’ll even be a tribute to the King of Rock and Roll with our Elvis Bites.

So amazing they knocked his shirt right off, lookit that!

As we trek towards the holidays, we’ll continue to bring you familiar flavors and exotic fusions with our Peppermint Puffs, Pumpkin Honey cake and Ann Nog muffins featuring my mother’s very own special egg nog recipe.

Ann Nog Muffin NOM!

These items and more will be available in traditional sized cakes, pies, pastry and cookies as well as mini versions, slices, bites and pops. So keep watching this space for new menu items and prices as well as our schedule. We anticipate selling in local markets in Wesley Chapel, New Tampa, Carrollwood and Ybor City in the near future. Visit the About Us page for order details. Chow for now!

Comfy Confections comes to Tampa Bay this Fall!

Good afternoon and Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there:)

Apologies for the hiatus but as we all know sometimes life grabs us, takes us for a ride and won’t let go until it’s done. Now that things have calmed down I’m focusing hard on jumpstarting my cafe. Picture it, you enter a large amber lit room colored with deep rich earth tones, artwork from local artists adorning the wine and pumpkin colored walls and mahogany shelves. Your ears are met with the sound of music originating from one of any number of world cultures as you choose a seat among plush couches and chairs in the corner or dining sets reminiscent of a French bistro. The menu is an array of delights that would please the palate of anyone missing the comforts of home or with a taste of adventure. Such is the experience that is The Comfy Cafe. Of course this is only a concept, the actual cafe does not yet exist but is the reality my husband and I are pushing for. At the moment however, we will have to start super small, even smaller than the food truck we hope to expand to on our journey towards the cafe. No, right now, in it’s infancy, The Comfy Cafe is known as Comfy Confections.

Scratch Apple Pie

Scratch Apple Pie

Comfy Confections is a cottage law business operating in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and in keeping with the international comfort food theme, we will be offering delicious desserts and breakfast items that are familiar to Americans of old such as my famous apple pie from scratch, lemon tarts and spiced banana nut cake. We will also be offering cuisine that the rest of our cosmopolitan customers will enjoy just as much such as Omm Ali, Amaretto stuffed peaches, Green Tea cake and Italian sesame cookies.

Omm Ali                                                                                               (Eggs, cream, nuts, raisins, cinnamon and filo dough = YUM!)

 

Green Tea Cake

There will also be selections for those with an adventurous palate and a love for fusion cuisine. These include my savory Japanese inspired rice pockets filled with sweet strawberry, mango and marmalade preserves and a salute to the King, the natural peanut butter and baked banana filled Elvis Pockets drizzled with Foster sauce.

Fruit filled Mochi goodness

We hope to be operating out of the Fresh Market at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, the Ybor City Saturday Market and one other location in New Tampa this Fall so watch this space for locations, schedule and menu. Unfortunately, do to restrictions by Florida Cottage Law, we are unable to take orders online or ship out of state. However, if you do wish to order for a pick up in person we will have order forms available once the business gets underway. We will do custom orders and if you have an event in the Tampa Bay area that is looking for food vendors, please feel free to contact us.

Chow for now!

Tuesday’s Table: Country Style Beef Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream

As winter has most of us firmly in its icy grip, I thought I’d share with you my favorite stew recipe courtesy of Weight Watchers.  Now, don’t be alarmed, just because it’s low fat doesn’t mean it’s low taste.  I’ve been making this dish for several years and it’s always a crowd pleaser, especially after a long day out in the cold!  Ladies and gentlemen, set your crockpots to stun!

Ingredients:

Yields 2 cups stew and 2 tablespoons horseradish cream per serving.

6 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
2 Tbsp store-bought horseradish
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp table salt
1 1/4 pound(s) uncooked trimmed beef shortrib(s), boneless, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 11⁄2-inch chunks
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 medium uncooked onion(s), sliced
1 pound(s) uncooked whole white potato(es), whole, scrubbed
18 medium uncooked baby carrots, about 1 1⁄2 cups
2 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), chopped
1 leaf/leaves bay leaf
1 cup(s) canned, beef broth, low sodium
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp water, cold
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, flat-leaf, chopped

To prepare the horseradish cream, combine the sour cream, horseradish, mustard, and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the ribs and cook, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the ribs to a slow cooker. Add the onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, and bay leaf. Pour the broth and Worcestershire sauce over the meat and vegetables. Cover and cook until the meat and vegetables are fork-tender, 4–5 hours on high or 8–10 hours on low.
About 20 minutes before the cooking time is up, combine the flour and water in a small bowl until smooth; stir in about 1⁄4 cup of the hot liquid from the slow cooker until blended. Stir the flour mixture into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high, until the mixture simmers and thickens, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the parsley just before serving. Serve with the horseradish cream.

Stay warm kiddies, chow for now!

Monday Musings

As most of you come up with new phrases for “freezing my butt off” while I’m sitting here in toasty Florida (actually it’s been a bit chilly here lately though my chilly is your Spring) this week’s musings are a taste of the tropics 🙂  Enjoy and stay warm kiddies!

Having Hope For Humanity (Strong language)

I know I am not the only person who watches the news on a daily basis, sees grown adults dissolve into foaming rabid beasts in forums and comment threads about things as trivial as kittens and puppies playing and wonders about the state of our society today.  I know historically people have always done this so I’m hoping mankind and society is not as horrific as it often seems to be.

Then I come across stories that are so heartwarming, that make me stand up and cheer and want to give people a high five that I realized humans may not be in as dire straights as a race as it often seems.  Lately these stories have come out of the Hospitality industry, an industry where the customer is always right and proprietors are supposed to bend over backwards to please their guests so that they will return again and again and bring friends and family.  So what happens when a guest behaves in such an abhorrent manner that it goes against everything you know is right? Two employees and establishment owners faced this question when they came across insultingly ignorant customers within just the past three weeks!

In Columbus, Ohio, employees of Mikey’s Late Night Slice pizza truck heard a commotion towards the back of the line of customers waiting to be served.  It turns out a gay couple was standing in line holding hands and minding their own business when the twatwaffle (and I’m sorry but what other adjective is strong enough?) standing behind them started cursing at them and screaming homophobic slurs.  Upon hearing this one employee informed the douche “If he couldn’t treat the people like human beings that were in the line and stop spewing that hatred at them, that I wasn’t going to serve him” and made him get out of line!

In Houston, Texas a waiter at Laurenzo’s Prime Rib refused service to a family who insisted on being moved because they were sitting next to another family with a boy who had Down Syndrome.  Reportedly, the “man” at the table had remarked “Special needs children need to be special somewhere else.”  Well, the family’s request to be moved was honored, they were moved right out of the restaurant!

Now I know some people may think, well wouldn’t it be bad for business to throw customers out because they don’t share the same beliefs as you?  Apparently not since both establishments have reported a boost in business from people who want to meet the employees who took a stand against ignorance.  Even Chick-Fil-A, whose homophobic stance brought in record numbers from other bigots, saw a boost in sales by standing for their own misguided beliefs.

The fact of the matter is the battle for society and its norms rages from everywhere and can come at any time and from any place and that includes the hospitality industry.  No, the customer is not always right and establishments do have the right not to serve you (within the law) if you behave like an asshat and are insulting to the proprietor and their customers.  Proprietors do not have to keep quiet and tolerate ignorance, bigotry or sexist remarks for fear of losing business.  Not only are you responsible for maintaining a favorable work environment for your employees, which does not include forcing them to have to deal with disparaging remarks, but in taking a stand it shows customers and potential customers exactly what kind of establishment you are running.  I’m sure some of Mikey and Laurenzo’s customers decided not to come back after hearing about these incidents but many more people flocked to these establishments because they took a stand.  In the end you need to think, how much does the almighty dollar mean to you?  How much is your soul worth?

Change is afoot!

Good morrow fair people.. ok I’ll stop 😉

I hope everyone has had a safe and happy holiday season. 2014 looks to be the year of change for Comfy Confections. As you can see above we are now The Comfy Cafe. The reason for this change is that by May of this year we hope to be able to serve our delicious international comfort food to the masses as a fully licensed food entity operating out of a commercial kitchen and on our way to our transformation from booth to food truck!

In the meantime, while we will still be making and selling our delicious desserts at Ybor City Saturday Market, we will also be adding more savory items to the menu. Our pretzels will be making a return along with their cousins, the pretzel bite and pretzel roll, to enjoy with some yummy dips. We will also be experimenting with donut making and best of all, we  are pleased to announce the coming of freshly made pasta! Spaghetti, Fettuccine, Lasagna will soon be available in Semolina, wheat and gluten free in 1lb packages with more shapes coming soon.

Watch this space for more details. We’ll see you January 18th!

Tuesday’s Table: Buttermilk Glazed Pumpkin Bundt Cake

This is the recipe my husband used to make a birthday cake for a friend whose birthday fell on the day of our housewarming spooktacular this past weekend and told us her favorite flavor was pumpkin.  It came out nice and moist and fluffy and my husband’s addition of Golden Syrup and Orange Marmalade to the buttermilk icing resulted in a very nice addition to the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I did have a couple of misses this week, well one miss and one disaster:-p  I wanted to make some Monster Cookies but couldn’t find the candy eyes, probably because most stores have already decided to start putting away their Halloween stuff to make room for Christmas despite there still being a full 18 days left to Halloween but I won’t get into that now.  Anyway, I picked up some icing and decided to just make some cookies and give them eyes and fangs.  However, the mouth of the icing was wider than I’d realized and instead I got a couple of Wilfred Brimley cookies staring back at me before giving up the ghost and serving regular old chocolate chip cookies instead.

Anyone want some Diabeetus cookies?

The maple chili popcorn, however, nearly burned my house down!  One of the steps calls for the maple mixture to cook for two minutes before putting it on the popcorn, DO NOT DO THIS!!!  At about  a minute to a minute and a half the thing bubbled so badly that it began to belch forth this white smoke and was well on its way to become tar!  I ended up having to turn the fans on and open the windows to keep the alarms from going off, inhaled quite a bit of smoke in the process, and dumped what I could of the mixture since the rest of it adhered to the pot like cement:(  I may actually have to throw out my new Calphalon stainless steel pot since the stuff just isn’t soaking off!  What I would advise is bring the mixture to a roiling bubble then remove from heat immediately.  The texture and consistency should be good enough to poor over the popcorn and continue with the recipe.  I ended up trying to save it by drizzling golden syrup and cinnamon on top.  Our guests said it was good but it was the one dish we ended up having to throw out:-/

The cranberry chicken I posted last week, however, was PHENOMENAL and very easy to make, I highly recommend it!  Chow for now:)

Whinging Wednesday: Beware the Infomercial!

As many of you know when it comes to those low budget late night cable commercials where EVERYTHING is $19.95 9 times out of 10 you’re buying a POS.  Now surprisingly a few things I’ve seen on TV actually work pretty well.  I love my PedEgg, that seemingly indestructible metal clip that holds credit cards and money really is very strong and has lasted longer than any wallet I’ve ever owned (that blue metal case that lights up however is a major POS that didn’t last my husband a week so avoid it like the plague) and those furniture slat things with the commercial that has those two supposed sumo wrestlers sitting down on a couch actually does a pretty decent job.  My couch no longer tries to eat me whenever I sit down;)

Unfortunately, I have yet to discover one of these commercials offering a kitchen utensil or product that actually works or lasts very long. Back when the OvGlove came out my neighbor enthusiastically bought one.  I was excited too because if it worked for her I was ready to buy one.  The commercial says it can withstand temperatures as high as 540 degrees and allows you to handle hot objects for longer.  After making a chicken dinner my neighbor tells me the next morning that it was an absolute POS and showed me the burns on her fingers.  This was a 425 degree oven and she said a kitchen towel would have protected her hands better!

Is it hot in here or is it me?

One product that caught my interest was the RoboStir.  A robot that slowly and constantly stirs seemed like a great idea for sauces… and that’s about it.  What would I make that would need constant stirring?  Risotto needs constant FAST stirring not slow and anything else I could use a blender or mixer for.  As it turns out, several reviewers have remarked that the RoboStir just does not work!

Another product that had me curious was the Orgreenic pan.  I admit seeing that slimy residue leftover after the food left the surface squicked me out and turned me off to the idea until I read you’re apparently supposed to “season” the pan with oil before you use it which I’m assuming is the residue you see in the commercials.  Well more research told me that although the company insists you “season” the pan twice a year to maintain its nonstick surface, after about two months as one reviewer said, “I think I might have to go rent an asphault chipper to get the egg off the bottom.”  Another problem is the non English speaking customer service reps who try to scam you into buying the entire $200+ pan set instead of one or two, purchasing speedy service instead of regular shipping, sending you items you did not order and vague order forms.  All in all, I would say buy at your own risk.

And that my friends, is theme of today’s post.  Some items will surprise you in a good way and others will be a colossal disappointment.  Before buying anything you see in an infomercial, or in general when it comes to new kitchen equipment, research it as much as possible and whenever possible try it out yourself but above all, buyer beware!

Tuesday’s Table: Halloween Party Recipes for Adults

This year I’ll be throwing a Halloween themed housewarming party and wanted to find some fun recipes to make.  Unfortunately most of the recipes I found were for gross looking food, desserts, sweets and kid friendly.  This is all well and good but just not what I was looking for.  After a great deal of searching I did find a few very unique, very tasty looking, classy recipes for mature people who like to dress up and look funny:)

An excellent idea for a dinner party (or if you REALLY want to put yourself to work;) is the Mesclun Meanie

This is a zesty little salad served in oranges that have been scooped out and carved to look like jack o’lanterns.  Personally if I had the time (or an army of ghouls to help me) I would make this myself.  However, instead I found these scrumptious looking wings which will be making an appearance, Smoky Cranberry Chicken Wings.

Isn’t that a thing of beauty?

One thing I kept finding were chicken wing recipes like “bat wings” that sounded fun and probably are delicious but involved lots of food coloring paste which I have a real problem with.  Not only are there people out there who have a severe allergy to food coloring but these recipes seem to insist on just slathering the stuff on to the wings.  I can only imagine just how that might affect the flavoring let alone the texture and just couldn’t bring myself to serve that kind of thing to my guests.  It makes me want to gag just thinking about it!  These wings, however, are a pleasant blend of tart, sweetness and smokiness that I can really get behind and can probably be served any time of the year but I think would be most appreciated this time of year at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and even Super Bowl parties!

Another great dinner party idea would be the Hungarian Goo-lash Stuffed Baked Baby Potatoes.

Personally the few times I’ve attempted Goulash, it sucked out loud and I’m done trying, at least for the time being anyway.  I would probably replicate this with pulled pork myself.

Now this next recipe, I think, can either be served individually at a dinner party like the recipe suggests or in a large hollowed out (properly cleaned) pumpkin or gourd for effect.

This Pumpkin Risotto sounds perfect for pumpkin lovers and super tasty although personally I would make sure to use smoked bacon and maybe add some spices like clove and nutmeg.  It seems a shame to have all that pumpkin without them.

Now that you have the food down, what about drinks?  Sure you can do the old “slap some funny labels on to soda bottles and cans” gag or make the usual fall back halloween drinks like the Bloody Mary or Zombies, but since we’re getting creative, why not go all out?  This website has some unique and delicious drinks that everyone at your party (over 21) can enjoy!  Here are some examples:

The Neon Ghost

Brain Hemorrhage

 

The Smashing Pumpkin

 

The Graveyard

So be safe, have fun and please don’t drink and drive!  Chow for now!

Let’s hear it for the Food Truck!

Ye olde food wagon

The American food truck has been around since the days of the Texas chuck wagon back in the late 1800s.  For a while the general perception was that a person would have to be crazy to eat from a “roach coach” as they have been so unaffectionately called however a recent surge in popularity has made the food truck the latest trend in gastronomy.  In most major cities around the country food trucks, owned and operated by trained chefs and foodies alike, provide diners on the street with everything from plain fare like pizza and burgers  to gourmet delights from around the world including falafels in New York, Baklava in DC, Crepes in Los Angeles and Brisket in Orlando.

While some restauranteurs have gotten wise to this growing trend and see food trucks as a way to expand their establishments, many others cry foul and have gone out of their way to block food trucks from moving into their neighborhoods citing unfair competition.  Some have even used their clout with Chambers of Commerce to influence local laws which either ban food trucks completely or make it virtually impossible for these budding entrepreneurs to do business.

In my opinion, the one thing these restaurants who have been complaining have in common is bad customer service and an uninspired menu but it’s easier to blame the new guy who offers an exciting variety of cuisine to the bored consumer’s palate than to accept fault for their own failings and try to do something constructive to rectify it.

As you may already be able to tell, I am an avid fan of the food truck industry and hope to start one myself, on the way to eventually establishing a cafe or gastropub, and have done tons of research on the subject over the years.  The following are popular misconceptions about food trucks:

You can’t trust food that comes from a food truck!

Food from a truck is no more risky than food from a restaurant.  Food trucks are held to the same rigorous health standards and regulations as eating establishments that stand still and are subject to the same amount of inspections, if not more so. These days many owner/operators are trained chefs who just don’t have the collateral to open a brick and mortar place.  In frequenting a food truck you’re putting money into the pocket of a budding entrepreneur and helping your local economy!

Food trucks have a better advantage than restaurants!

I feel like getting a taco YEAH!

Sorry but not so much, if that was the case more restaurants would be jumping ship to join the mobile ranks.  Operating a food truck means dealing with laws, some unfair, that limits operating times, parking areas, how long a truck can stay put at any given spot and how they can attract business.  Food truck business also depends on the weather and in many cities food trucks cannot park within 200-1000 feet of an established restaurant!

Food trucks don’t pay rent or taxes!

Actually, thanks to the ordinances in place that regulate food truck movement, many have to resort to setting up in private lots or areas where they do, in fact, have to pay to use.  They also have to pay for permits and a license like any other business which of course means paying state and federal taxes.

Food trucks don’t give back to the community!

Every time a food truck enters a neighborhood, God kills a kitten!

Nonsense! Not only is contributing to the community good for business (people like knowing the business they frequent is philanthropic:) but it’s just common sense.  You’ll find most food trucks get their goods and supplies from local vendors, which again helps boost the local economy, take part in charitable events and even donate food to local food banks at the end of the day.  Also bear in mind that through social media, food trucks tend to generate traffic from people traveling from other cities, counties and sometimes even states.  When permitted food trucks can establish themselves on the streets or in parking lots of strip malls with empty spaces, generating extra traffic and revenue for the businesses still operating in those malls.

Let them eat CREPES!

Due to the hostility food trucks have faced, many have organized into groups around the country working together to form truck parks, food festivals and to unify in their fight against unfair ordinances, laws and practices being established through efforts by frightened and uninformed business owners and politicians.  So the next time you see or hear about a food truck in your area, check it out and if you would like to see food truck culture in your neighborhood, tell your local politicians or chamber of commerce to lighten up and embrace the revolution!

Chow for now.

Tuesday’s Table: Homemade Apple Pie

I ADORE cooking.  I get all tingly and stupid when I walk into a nice clean stainless steel kitchen just waiting for me to do things to it!  One of the things I love about cooking is how it allows me to get creative.  Even in school when I was given a recipe to work on I would tweak it because the flavor wasn’t right to me or I just felt the taste could be improved often with great results.  In fact, after revamping the school’s recipe for Arroz con Pollo one day and talking to the teacher about it, I understand they have since adjusted it to incorporate my changes for authenticity:)  However, when it comes to baking I just suck out loud!  You see while cooking can be an art baking is a science which involves exact measurements and a tendency for things to go seriously awry if those measurements and ingredients are not changed correctly and well..

Yo no tengo math skills

Anyway, I have dabbled in dessert making from time to time via the Sandra Lee (or perhaps any of the so called Food Network stars lately) approach except without all the alcohol, cultural insensitivity and the crazy.  For instance, I do love to make pie for gatherings with friends and family but sometimes (usually) I just don’t have to make the crust or pie filling from scratch so I kind of cheat a little.  Either way the results are pretty damn good and takes less than an hour to prep and cook in many cases.  As it is Fall I recently made my famous Semi-Scratch Apple Pie while successfully tweaking one of my favorite recipes of all time:)

INGREDIENTS:
1 box frozen pastry shells
(doesn’t have to be name brand, I go generic, just make sure there are two in the box and be aware that they need to defrost before you start the recipe)
6 apples – peeled, cored and sliced
(I like to use a blend of Pink Lady and Macintosh or Granny Smith apples myself.  If you’re a slow peeler/corer/slicer keep some lemon juice or other citrus acid handy to keep the slices from oxidizing)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place sliced apples in a large bowl.  In a small bowl combine sugars, cinnamon, and flour.  Stir well and pour mixture over apples.  Cut half of butter or margarine into small pieces and add to apples.  Toss apples until thoroughly coated.  Personally I like to put the apples into a gallon sized ziplock bag, add mixture, seal and toss.  Everything seems to blend much better and once you’re done it’s one less bowl to have to clean.
Pour apples into pastry-lined pan. Dot apples with the rest of the butter or margarine.  Place second pastry on top.  Seal edges and cut steam vents in top crust. Now I tend to take the second crust from the box, place it on a cutting board and cut into strips with a knife or pizza cutter to place over the apple mixture before sealing the edges.  I also make an egg wash (using the one beaten egg and a bit of water for those who don’t know) which I brush on to the crust before sprinkling a blend of the sugar, brown sugar and some cinnamon on to the crust. 
Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Food Network eat your heart out!

And the beasties like it too!

Now if you want SUPER simple, Food Network has that covered!  Click on the pictures below for some stupidly easy recipes, of course if you can’t make ice cubes or boil water you’re pretty much out of luck.  

Don’t forget the marshmallows!

The Southern lady knows her English peas

She knows her way around sorbet too!

Chow for now!

Whinging Wednesday: Things that are food and shouldn’t be! NSFW

I am a fairly adventurous person, especially when it comes to cuisine.  I’m interested in new techniques, tastes, textures and cultures and I will try anything once.  However, there is a disturbing new trend that makes me wonder whether these people are cooks or sadists.  This trend, ladies and gentlemen, is the use and ingestion of bodily fluids in food!

First we have the menstrual cookie!  While perusing my favorite comedy sites I came across this post on Failblog After Dark:

Now surely this is a joke.  Some of my online friends even got into a discussion over the consistency of blood being kept in a jar over the course of a year and the general consensus is that this is probably just some kind of publicity stunt or art project.  However, New York Magazine talks about a trend among new mothers who eat their placenta after their babies are born and even swap recipes.

Anyone up for some Placenta Pasta?

It seems pregnant women really get into the recycling bit when it comes to their fluids!  How about washing down that Placenta Pasta with a Breast Milk Smoothie?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… well, suddenly I’m lactose intolerant:-p

Not to be left out, men are also taking part in the recycling of bodily fluids for consumption.  Yes folks, this fun little cookbook can be all yours!  While away the hours cooking up some special treats for your friends and family like Strawberry Splasharitas and Spunky Candied Pecans guaranteed to have your guests talking.  Ok maybe they’ll never speak to YOU again but they’ll definitely be talking!

Who wants Flan?

So it seems this trend is not only here to stay but it’s actually been picking up steam over the years!  As a kid I always wondered how societies in sci-fi movies tolerated things like Soylent Green and zombies.

Deep fried BRAAAAINZ

Ciao for now.

UPDATE:  I had actually heard about this a few weeks back but forgot all about it until my local news just reported it.  A joke turns serious and after some testing and analysis it looks like Oregon’s Rogue Beer is about to launch its first brew using yeast from the beard of the brewmaster himself!  Just one more reason I’ll stick to wine, thanks.

Whinging Wednesday: Unrealistic food scenarios in movies and on TV

Me mum took me RUM!

From time to time I’ll be watching a movie or TV show and one of the characters will do or say something so incredibly dumb or unrealistic that I have to suppress the urge to start throwing things at the screen!  I will not be including cooking shows with hosts who touch everything in the kitchen but don’t wash their hands once or advise viewers to wash their hands.  I also won’t be including cooking shows with hosts who leave their hair loose so that guests can potentially find a long ass hair in their salad.  I won’t even include those cooking shows whose hosts wear a ton of frigging jewelry on their hands and wrists and stick their glittery nail polish adorned fingers into things presenting a major contamination hazard because we’ll be here all damn day!  I will even refrain from talking about cooking show hosts who seem to confuse their kitchens with the circus and decide to stack EVERY INGREDIENT OF THE RECIPE on top of each other  and barely manage to get over to the counter without dropping everything rather than just grabbing a few items at a time and going back and forth while they speak.  Hell, you’re on a major network, I’m sure someone could spring for a MFing cart you can place everything on to and wheel around the kitchen like an intelligent human being.

So let’s start shall we?

A Mirror Has Two Faces

Ok, I LOVE this movie:)  I love Barbara Streisand, I want to have babies with Jeff Bridges, I ADORE Lauren Bacall, I love Sting, I love the story.  I mean I love everything about this movie!  I can even relate to Barbara Streisand’s character, the smart but frumpy English professor who is invisible to men especially when around her fashion plate sister and mother.  That being said, it drives me absolutely batshit crazy that throughout the movie Rose pulls raw carrots and celery from all kinds of places around the house but what REALLY burns my toast is when she’s at the gym.  Now, as you may or may not be aware the gym is full of lots of people sweating all over the machines and equipment.  Most of the time these people don’t wipe the machines down afterwards and even if they do, who knows what’s in those spray bottles the gym provides to wipe down the equipment between sets.  Anyway, Rose is doing her thing at the gym.  She uses the bench press machine, stops because her pectoral muscles are sore, reaches off camera to pick up a RAW PIECE OF CELERY AND EATS IT!!!  GERMS! SKIN CELLS! BACTERIA! GAH!!!

Friends: Monica Gellar

So this formerly obese beautiful but completely neurotic woman who is obsessed with cleaning and has to have everything just so is also a chef.  Now you would think having all her OCD qualities would make her a fantastic chef with a super clean kitchen and yeah she probably is a nightmare to work with.  However, on several occasions she has made mistakes so incredibly stupid that you have to wonder where she went to school!  For instance, in episode 5 of season 2, Monica finally gets promoted to head chef of her restaurant and in celebration she makes everyone a nice steak dinner (eggplant for the vegetarian Pheebs) because there were some leftover at the restaurant.  Now this was already a red flag because I think unless you’re the owner of a restaurant, employees aren’t necessarily allowed to take home “leftovers” out of inventory.  It turns out the “leftovers” were actually a gift from a restaurant vendor also known in the industry as a kickback!  Management finds out about it and fires Monica who insists “it was a gift not a kickback!”  C’mon lady, if you’d had the proper training or been working in the industry long enough you KNOW gifts from vendors and kickbacks are the same damn thing!

Then there was the time when Monica and Phoebe were working her catering business and were hired for a function of Monica’s mother.  The party is in full swing and Monica realizes in horror that one of her artificial purple finger nails has disappeared sometime during prep and is probably nestled in one of the guest’s quiches!  Once again, had she been properly trained or if she’s working in the industry long enough she would know YOU DO NOT WEAR NAIL POLISH OR FAKE NAILS WHEN COOKING!  Or at the very least she should have worn gloves to prevent physical contaminants like fake nails falling into the food she was preparing.  Then she has the nerve to get mad when her mom, in anticipation of a colossal screw up, whips out some lasagnas from the freezer.

You did WHAT to my quiche?

Friends: Emma’s birthday cake

Ok, this show seems to be on a roll with unrealistic food stuff.  Then again this is the same show that depicts a group of friends living in Manhattan who apparently never ever lock their doors yet aren’t murdered in their sleep or robbed (except when Joey was stupid enough to get locked in that entertainment center).  Anyway, Rachel decides to get a fancy bunny cake for her baby’s first birthday but goes ALL the way the hell in New Jersey to get it!  Of course, on the way home she discovers the cake isn’t of a bunny but a penis and there’s no way to go back and get a replacement before the place closes for the night.

First of all, I don’t think I want to even KNOW about a bakery that will make up a penis shaped cake for a 1 year old girl’s birthday and not think twice about it.  Second, who the hell picks up a cake and DOESN’T check to make sure it’s correct before leaving ESPECIALLY when coming as far as she did?  Third, really?  In the entire city of Manhattan, in ALL 5 boroughs of New York City, in the fru fru area of the Hamptons or where ever they grew up, you mean to tell me neither Ross nor Rachel could find A SINGLE BAKERY that could handle making the kid a friggin bunny cake?  Ya know what?  That’s what you get you pretentious nerk!  Next time do what true New Yorkers do and get that little girl a friggin Carvel cake!!!

Unfortunately that’s all I can think of right now although I know there are tons more examples.  Anyway, Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! Aaar!

Is this thing on?

Apologies once again for being AWOL last week but between midterms and my mother paying us a visit I barely had time to put two moments of sanity together!  Although I don’t typically post on the weekends I thought I’d share a little tidbit with you and some sage advice for those who may need it.  Gather round grasshoppers!

As I just mentioned my mother is visiting us from New Jersey and because of some health issues she sometimes needs to make substitutions to any food she orders.  Sometimes these substitutions need a degree in engineering to figure out while other times it’s fairly simple.  So this morning, while still in pajamas because we’re having a lazy day, my husband and I hop in the car and head for the drive thru of Dunkin Donuts because mom hadn’t gotten much sleep and needed coffee before her two hour drive to visit my cousins.  I pull up to the speaker thing and order two poppy seed bagels toasted with butter, two vanilla frosted donuts and an extra large coffee cream and sugar (Paul’s breakfast), a medium pumpkin coffee and a plain bagel toasted with cream cheese (my breakfast) and a large coffee half pumpkin half decaf with cream and 2 sweet and lows (mom’s breakfast).  As I pull away from the speaker I hear the guy say “Well that was an obnoxious order!”

 

Paul and I looked at each other and laughed as I pulled up to the window.  He wasn’t sure we heard correctly but I sure did.  Yes, I guess that last coffee was a bit obnoxious which is why I hate ordering it sometimes or go inside when mom isn’t with me to do it herself but as I was still in pajamas and there was no one on line I figured it was safe.  Now I wasn’t angry but in the fru fru neighborhood we live in I know if any of the locals had heard that there would have been hell to pay.  Being a fast food/retail veteran I didn’t know how long this guy worked in the field or how experienced he was with working a drive up window but I thought it might benefit him to learn a quick lesson before it bit him in the ass.

So when I pull up and he opens the window to take my order I smile and say, “I apologize for the obnoxiousness of my order but…”  I couldn’t even finish the sentence, the guy at the window blanched and started to quickly explain how he was having trouble trying to push the buttons to accept three bagels (um yeah right ok) meanwhile the mouth of the girl standing next to him dropped and as she ducked away from the window I could hear her laughing.  I just waved him off but I’m hoping he learned to be more careful while wearing his headset.

Morale of the story folks, if you’re gonna talk shit about a customer, make sure they can’t actually HEAR you! LOL

Whinging Wednesday: Weird News

Some may argue that American cuisine is non-existent and doesn’t hold a candle to the rest of the world.  Well, it seems not everyone feels that way as many cultures and nations have been trying to emulate American cuisine.  Whether the attempts are all out fail or a decent attempt at the original, it seems the natives are in love!

While Malaysians have Pizza Hut, their pizza of choice seems to be the complete opposite of what we like in this country.  The Super Pan Pizza features chunks of chicken AND chicken loaf, caramelized pineapples with two different sauces, cheese and “Garlic Napoli,” rolled into the crust.  The end result is that the innards of each slice come oozing out with every bite!

Um, nom?

Hungry yet?  Well hold on to your butts because we’re headed to Baghdad where the Iraqis rock the casbah scarfing down knock offs of American food!  With American troops leaving the area and bases closing down a big void opened up for those missing Western fare, however savvy entrepreneurs have stepped up and have presented to the masses knock off dining establishments like Florida Fried Chicken, Mr. Potato, Pizza Boat, Burger Friends and KFG or Kentucky Family Group (which sounds to me more like one of those Christian fundie groups who get vocal over things like gay marriage than a chicken joint). One burger joint, called Burger Joint actually, has gone the extra step of surfing burgers and milkshakes while music by Frank Sinatra serenades diners and often has to assist customers understand their foreign offerings like milkshakes and cookies. The owners of Burger Joint also own a Turkish chain called Pizza Pizza and intends to a new sandwich shop called Subz.

The Home of the Shawarma

Of course China is one of the countries who refuse to jump on the American cuisine bandwagon. Instead choosing to perfect their own culinary contribution while embracing technological advances by creating noodle slicing robots!  Restaurateur Cui Runguan is selling thousands of these robots which slice noodles into pots of boiling water called the Chef Cui. Each robot costs $2000 compared to the annual Chinese chef’s salary of $4,700 and Runguan has already sold 3,000 robots. Although these creepy little metal guys have faster and better knife skills, without taste buds can robots really be a fit substitute for a chef?

“Iron Cook, eh? I can’t lose. I’m 30% iron!”

While many parts of the world have embraced famous American foods I urge my fellow Americans who haven’t yet done so to check out the rich and flavorful cuisines cultures around the world have developed and perfected.  Not only is it an awesome experience for all 5 senses, it will prove a fantastic out should Peta and groups like it actually succeed in growing meat in labs!

Chow for now!

Healthier Cooking of Meat Helps Curb Cancer in Women

Greetings all!

If you’re like me you hate when meat is cooked to the standard of a hockey puck!  Personally, I like a steak that’s medium or medium well so that it’s cooked but still tender, juicy and flavorful with a bit of pink.  Well, here’s another reason to keep from munching on the grey slab of crunchy charcoal that is well done.  According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, women who ate hamburger, steak and bacon very well done were at 4 1/2 times more at risk of getting breast cancer than women who ate these meats rare or medium!  The reason being heterocyclic amines, or HAs, that form when meat is cooked beyond well done.  This is fairly old news to some as I’m sure I’m not the only ones who’ve heard about the dangers of consuming carcinogens but how do you avoid consuming too many HAs?

Alternate Methods of Cooking

Roasting meat in an oven allows easier temperature control and avoids overcooking.  Steaming and stewing meat are also ways to keep meat moist which prevents HAs from forming.

Exercise caution when grilling

Avoid the drying out and charring of meat when grilling, broiling or frying as HAs can form.  When grilling marinate the meat first to ensure a dramatic decrease in HA levels.

Undercooking is also not your friend!

While you want to avoid overcooking your meat, undercooking can present a whole new world of problems as bacteria responsible for nasty illnesses like salmonella and E.coli can hang around if the meat is not cooked properly.  Be sure to cook steaks, chops and seafood to 145F, ground beef to 155F and poultry to at least 165F.

Veggies, however, are your friend!

While not a vegetarian myself, I tried for about three weeks but I loves me some MEAT, bear in mind the HAs only form in muscle tissue so when in doubt you can always try substituting vegetables or soy meat.  Personally I prefer Boca over Morningstar and tofu can be pretty good if it’s left to marinate long enough, just be sure to thoroughly wash your veggies first or the food-borne illness can rear its ugly head once again.

 

Chow for now!

Whinging Wednesday: Stupid News Edition (NSFW)

Happy Hump Day folks!

This week’s Whinging Wednesday features some annoying and downright idiotic goings on in the hospitality world.  First up, apparently the Swedish Chef is Public Enemy #1 in Sweden!

According to The Atlantic Wire, Swedes absolutely HATE the otherwise beloved muppet with the fire of 1000 suns, finding him “stereotypical, possibly offensive, certainly bumbling, and probably not even Swedish.”  Apparently, the people of Sweden having been stewing over this hatred of the felt Chef for 37 years mostly thanks to American tourists constantly asking what they think of him.  Also, his accent is wrong and he should actually be called the Norwegian chef! FYI, the inspiration for the Swedish Chef apparently comes from some Berlitz tapes Jim Henson heard years ago.  So, get your facts straight you filthy American pig dogs, the Swedish Chef is not funny because he’s Norwegian so quit asking already!

Either way, the Chef should steer clear of Burlington, Vermont unless he wants to pay extra!  ABC News reports speaking in a foreign language in Burlington restaurants gets you the 18% gratuity usually reserved for large groups tacked on to your bill!  Apparently, the overworked staff in the Vermont town, which is situated 100 miles from Montreal, gets inundated with Canadian tourists in the summer who are notoriously bad tippers according to wait staff.

“Some Canadians come in, they spend like $100 or $150 and they leave the wait staff maybe a $1.00 tip,” says Sandy Kong, owner of the Asiana Noodle Shop, “It happens pretty often. I realize that the Canadians think it’s discrimination, but on all the receipts it’s printed out on bottom—’we suggest an 18 or 20 percent tip.’ ”  So, if you have any plans to visit Burlington in the near future be sure to keep your conversation in the King’s English, or as near to it as we Americans can usually muster and if you get slapped with a high gratuity, blame Canada!

Damn you Canadians with your lack of tips and flapping heads!

Damn you Canadians with your lack of tips and flapping heads!

Of course if finances keep you from frequenting dining establishments you don’t really have to worry about tipping.  However, if you’re visiting, living or working in the Denver area and decide to bring your lunch from home, make sure you don’t leave your bag in the park or the bomb squad could be called!  That’s what happened in Monument, Colorado where several streets were closed as police and the bomb squad had a standoff with what turned out to be a soft-sided lunch box containing a bottle of Gatorade.

You never know what could be lurking in strange packages!

Finally, whether indoors or out it seems dining in general can be dangerous to one’s health at least it is here in the good old Sunshine State, especially if you talk smack about someone’s mama!  Ten days ago two brothers were having dinner with their dad when one of them had some not so nice things to say about dear old mom.  The other brother didn’t take too kindly to the remarks and when the fight escalated to the point where one brother wailed on the other with a Styrofoam plate, the injured brother called the cops and had him arrested.

It had slipped Helen Keller’s mind that Anne Sullivan actually COULD understand what she’d signed about her mother!

So that’s today’s post mine damer og herrer!  I wish you a good day and hope this post is the extent of your brush with stupidity:)  Chow for now!

Tuesday Table

Afternoon everyone!

Apologies for dropping off the face of the earth already.  The ole ball and chain and I have just completed our transfer from Maine to Florida and have been busy settling in, unpacking and all the fun stuff that’s involved with moving as well as preparing for the hurricane that wasn’t.  Well, ok, it did get a bit wild here for a bit yesterday but what’s a Tornado Warning or two among friends;)

Anyway, no recipe today however I did come across this nifty little video on Buzz Feed.

I don’t know Chinese (which I believe this is) but it appears to be a demonstration of how you can use the suction in your average water bottle to separate an egg yolk from the white.  Although not exactly practical, it is pretty cool to watch:)  Chow for now!

Mute Monday Musings

 

Since my husband and I hooked up with family and did the tourist thing in New York City this weekend, the Big Apple is the subject of this week’s musings.

The Guggenheim Museum

Inside the Guggenheim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coney Island

Naked Cowboy – Times Square

Manhattanhenge

Sabrett Hot Dogs & Mister Softee – Staples of NY cuisine

 

 

NY Giant and cop dance at Puerto Rican Day Parade

 

 

Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Yesterday marked the 100th birthday of the one and only Julia Child!

Born in the glamorous city of Pasadena with all the pretty people, Julia was the eldest of three and daughter of a Princeton grad and staunch Republican and a paper company heiress whose father was also Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.  Julia lived a life of privelege yet life was not always rosy for this 6’2 California girl.  She had gone to school intent on becoming a famous novelist and worked in the advertising department of W&J Sloane. However, she apparently didn’t get along with her new boss after transferring to the store’s LA location because she was fired for gross insubordination. During World War II Julia volunteered as a research assistant with the Office of Strategic Services, now known as the CIA, in Washington DC, China and Sri Lanka where she met the love of her life, Paul Child.  The two returned to the states at the end of the war and were married.

In 1948, now working for the U.S. Information Service at the American Embassy in Paris, Paul and Julia moved to France where Julia’s culinary adventures began. She trained at the infamous Cordon Bleu for six months before joining forces with fellow students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to form the cooking school L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes.  With the intent to introduce French cuisine to American cooks and rescue their families and guests from atrocities like the casserole and jello molds with fruit and marshmallows in them, Les Trois Gourmandes embarked on the creation of a two-volume cookbook. Unfortunately the 3lb., 734 page manuscript was rejected before another publisher picked it up and released it and in September 1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking was born. This book changed the culinary industry in America and remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after publication. Julia went on to promote her book on a PBS station in Boston which began her television career that won her countless awards including the George Foster Peabody Award and an Emmy!

Over the years Julia Child has received criticism for everything from not washing her hands on air to the high fat content French cuisine is famous for to which Julia advised everything in moderation saying, “I would rather eat one tablespoon of chocolate russe cake than three bowls of Jell-O!”  In 1993, Julia became the first woman to be inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame and received France’s highest honor, the Legion d’Honneur, in 2000. Two years later, her famous kitchen in which three of her cooking shows were filmed, became an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

In 2004, two days shy of her 92nd birthday, Julia Child died of kidney failure at home in Montecito, California.  Her legacy, however, lives on!

Fun Facts

There is a rose the color of butter named for Julia Child that she chose herself.

The French Chef was the first cooking show ever televised on PBS and the first show ever to be close captioned for the hearing impaired.

Julia Child wore a size 12 shoe.

Julia’s last meal was French Onion soup.

Because of her height, Julia had her countertops built two inches higher for comfort.

Bon Appétit!

Whinging Wednesday

Good day good people!  I have designated this day, Whinging Wednesday and on each Wednesday I will rant and whine and moan about anything hospitality related whether it’s crappy service or a bullshit article or practice like airlines charging you stupid little fees for everything except breathing (and I wouldn’t put it past them to suddenly have a problem with the airflow at high altitudes and needing money to drop the masks if they could;)

I LOVE to travel, hence this blog and my current field of study, however my least favorite mode of travel is by air.  This is a crying shame because I used to love flying!  My first flight ever was on American Airlines for my uncle’s wedding in Puerto Rico way back in the stone age or 1989.  The stewardesses were friendly, the little plastic cups that you were served coffee or tea in were too cute, you got a nice fluffy pillow and blanket when they tried to freeze you out while you’re in the air and seemed to be lots of leg and arm room, you didn’t have to worry about waking up with someone’s head in your lap and when we landed at Luis Munoz Marin Airport the passengers actually applauded!

ZOMG so cool!

I used to get so excited getting on a big British Airways jet (I’m not a major fan of Virgin even if they are a bit cheaper) to visit my then fiancee in England at the turn of the century when I could stretch across an aisle to sleep on my red eye flight.  My first flight to London I once again rifled through the cute little plastic bag handed to me by the flight attendants that were filled with all kinds of goodies like comfy airplane socks, a pen and some kind of lip balm I guess to help combat the dryness you get from the recycled air being pumped through the system.  I had plenty of embarrassing moments on that flight but I didn’t care much because I was excited, young and stupid;)  These moments included being so engrossed in the episode of Friends I was watching (the one where Ross had to be sedated for screaming at his boss) that when he started shrieking “MY SANDWICH!” I burst out laughing before remembering I was on a nice quiet airplane carrying nice quiet British people.    There was also the time when I was handed a hot wet cloth and had no idea what to do with it followed by when I was brought a nice tray of creams, scones, coffee, cheese and fruit.  Everything looked so good but suddenly I had a major problem.  I had two packets that said cream but clearly one cream was for my coffee and one was for spreading on my scone thing and after a good 7 minutes I was unable to figure out which was which.  After a couple of passes where I assured the flight attendant I was fine I finally buckled and explained my dilemma which after a chuckle she helped remedy.  Good thing too because I absolutely had it wrong!

What? It was funny!

So to me flying was an adventure and I loved it.  I didn’t mind going through security and I loved how over the years technology has brought TV and radio to the airline passenger (Jetblue is my favorite airline:).  However, I’ve long wearied of having to choose my seat when buying my ticket only to get to the check in kiosk and find I’m given a completely different seat, then stand on a long ass line to hand over my luggage to stand on yet another long line to give a free strip tease and go through super special extra screening because I’m just brown enough for the TSA to think I’m a potential terrorist and finally wait for someone to arrive at the gate to change my seat BACK to my original choice!  Then I sit and watch every passenger hover by the door DESPITE the fact the attendant is announcing rows that clearly, unless these people are sitting on each other’s laps or perching on each other’s heads, not everyone standing in line belongs in those rows!  Finally, I’m squeezed into an itty bitty seat where the clown in front of me will lower his seat ALLLLLLL the way back to the point where I’m thinking of asking him to pitch in for the price of my ticket!

Naw, airlines aren’t being cheap, they’re promoting unity and togetherness!

Anyway,  although Amtrak isn’t nearly of the same caliber of train travel in Europe and Asia, I actually like traveling by train and apparently I’m not the only one.  Today, the New York Times reported that 75% of travelers between New York and Washington DC travel by train rather than dealing with the hassles and high prices of airlines.  Over the years I’ve taken the train from NY to Maine, Niagara Falls, Seattle and down to Florida.  In fact, my husband and I are currently en route to our brand new home in Florida via yet another military transfer and will be taking the Auto Train this weekend.  Yes my friends, there is an auto train.  Although it doesn’t travel nearly as far as I would like and is not available everywhere, but you can board a train in Lorton, VA and ride in comfort all the way to Sanford, FL without adding the extra mileage to your car.  You get the option of riding in a coach seat (which I don’t recommend if you have a bad back as I discovered during our journey to Seattle when we rode in coach during the first leg of our trip before switching trains in Chicago) or a selection of bedrooms from the cozy but tiny roomette to the large and roomy bedroom with your own bathroom.  Price includes a fairly decent meal (you get an option of dining times when you first board) and while you’re away the staff turns down your bed.  Depending on the train and season you get to watch a movie or two in the lounge car or you’re treated to a kind of guided informational tour about the region you’re traveling through.

Comfort with a view

Yes, it can take longer to get to your destination by rail than flying but there’s far less hassle, for the most part it’s a lot cheaper, and the ride is much more pleasant and relaxing.  There have been attempts to revive the days of train travel to its former glory and revamp this country’s rail system however Congress has been far from accommodating.  So if you’re like me and would like to see train travel restored so that the US can at least match the rail systems in the rest of the world, drop your Congressman a line and talk his or her ear off about it!

Mum Monday Musings

Watching the Olympics and the opening and closing ceremonies made my husband and I muse over his homeland which neither of us have been to in about two years, unfortunately.  So I thought for my first Mum Monday Musings, when I post pictures of favorite and/or interesting places to visit around the world, I would post pictures of my favorite parts of London and England in general.