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Cruisin’ In Style To Gladstones In Malibu (Pacific Palisades To Be Exact).

November 2nd, 2010 1 comment

What an amazing meal and time we had at Gladstones Malibu, technically located in Pacific Palisades.  Did you know that?  I didn’t.  It’s been about 15 years since I’ve been there.  Gladstones has been in existence for decades, but recently stepped into a new era with a new look and menu that’s true to its iconic heritage.  We fittingly cruised there in style.

Most were able to squeeze into the photo before setting out (minus the kids) to celebrate the 40th Birthdays of David and Chris (both in plaid).  I’m found above the yellow balloon. 🙂

I said CHEERS with a Watermelon Mojito, which was perfectly refreshing and strong.

We had a few Oyster virgins in the crowd who were willing to give ’em a try.

It was funny to watch — Let’s just say that no newbies fell in love, except for one, as shown below.  Jerry said ‘the aphrodisiac aspect of the Oyster kicked right in’ and Ami had to hide.

Get a room — Continuing on with the Seafood Ceviche.

And then the reeallllly great stuff came, Lobsters and USDA Prime NY Strip Steaks, oh my.

Gladstones Market Seafood Pasta.

My plate with King Crab Legs, always a fave.

The Curried Coconut Shrimp was reported to be very good, by the one who brought his homemade (grown and roasted) Salsa in the limo, which was fantastic too.

Most had the Lobster and Steak combination.

It was a little too cold to dine on the large patio with “jumbrellas” this October evening — The ocean view is nice, but best captured in photographs during the day.

Happy Birthday friends and thanks for all Jer!

We love how Gladstones packs goodies TO GO.  I brought home a marvelous Sea Turtle and almost felt bad digging into the leftovers the next day.

Happy Halloween: Be Safe And Filled With Goodies.

October 31st, 2010 1 comment

Happy Halloween!  These Cupcakes can easily be made using any Chocolate Cake Mix — Just add Frosting to a pastry bag with a Basket Weave Tip, then pipe it back and forth strategically over and around Edible Eyes.  That’s it.  Since I got the flu this year (from the flu shot mind you, no mas para mi), I was sadly unable to participate in our annual Halloween Cookie Decorating Party, thus post links from last year here and the year before here.

The Zespri Contests Are Wrapping Up: It’s Last Chance For Romance.

October 30th, 2010 2 comments

It’s going to be a tough decision for the judges and I’m thrilled to be in the mix — Can’t believe I now have a (6/1) chance of winning a Trip for 4 to New Zealand.  That’s incredible!  And tomorrow is the last day to enter the Kiwi A-Go-Go Bloggers’ Contest to be selected as Ms. or Mr. October, if you will.  Each month from May through October, Zespri picks a Semi-finalist.  The links will tell more.  The winning entry will then be selected by a triad of prominent Kiwi specialists… Karen Brux, Zespri’s US General Manager, a representative of Air New Zealand, and Peter Ombler, a Kiwifruit grower from the Bay Of Plenty.  The winner will be announced on November 15th. 

Good luck to all Semi-finalistsMayJuneJuly (Me)AugustSeptember and October.  If you’re not a Blogger, you may enter here to win your own New Zealand vacation.  And you’ll find more Kiwi recipes here.  Play The Kiwi Game often!

11/08/10 Update:  The Blogger Contest is now closed and October’s winner is linked above.

11/15/10 Update:  Congratulations goes to Baking Barrister for winning the Trip for 4 to New Zealand.  We were close, but no Kiwi for Nibbles of Tidbits.

Taco Dawg Critics Dinner 2010: The OC’s Original Mobile Food Restaurant.

October 28th, 2010 No comments

Taco Dawg will be serving up new menu items starting this Halloween in celebration of their one-year anniversary.  Taco Dawg is a gourmet food truck (a popular food option these days) that puts a spin on two classics — Tacos and Hot Dogs, hence the name.  We recently tried a few at Taco Dawg’s Critics Dinner 2010.  Thank you Taco Dawg!  We were happily impressed with the new and featured menu items.

All may try the pictured items for the first time on October 31st, somewhere in Irvine by day, then at the Spooktacular in Orange that evening.  Note: Since it is a truck, it’s best to follow Taco Dawg on Twitter to obtain their exact location.  To learn the names of the Tasting Menu items soon to debut, hover over each photo.  Starting from the top is the Taco Papa and above is The Samurai, my favorite — We all loved its Miso Caramelized Glaze.

Above is The Hipster, Taco Dawg’s first Vegetarian Taco, made with Portobello Mushrooms, Chipotle Sauce, Grilled Onions, Jack Cheese and Romaine Lettuce.

We appreciated the Beer and Wine and met cool new friends, including Taco Dawg.

OMGosh, we ate so much at this Critics Dinner.  It was on to the Hot Dogs, then back to the Tacos.  We tried The Reuben Dawg (above) and The Dirty Dawg  (below) that’s piled with Homemade Chili, Nacho Cheese, Crumbled Potato Chips and Onions — Both are made with an all Beef Hot Dog.

Continuing on, we tried The Big City Dawg (below).

And The Cuban (below), thought to possibly be the best item of the night, at least at our table — It’s a Taco variation of a Cuban Sandwich that includes a combination of Ham, Pickles, Swiss Cheese and traditional flavors.  The Cuban is the featured item of the month.  Each month, Taco Dawg will feature a special item that’s not on the menu.

It all ended with a miniature version of their Apple Taco — It was good, but thank God it was small, since we already ate so much.  Barely had enough room.

To learn more about Taco Dawg and the pictured Tacos and Dawgs, visit whaddupdawg.com and here — Their site will be relaunched next month, so check back for that.  Follow Taco Dawg on Twitter to learn their exact whereabouts.

Ravenswood No Wimpy Wines Video Assignment: Love My Zinfandel.

October 24th, 2010 2 comments

The Red Wine I drink most often is (and has been) Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel.  The price is right, especially when it’s on sale, and it has a nice depth of flavor, thus I was excited to stumble upon Ravenswood’s No Wimpy Wines Assignment just in time.  YOU now have 8 more days to create and submit a video using Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel as the star.  Since we already think it’s a star, it was fun to experiment with Windows Movie Maker and the ideas bouncing around my head.  Wish us luck!

We submitted 2 videos (above and below), as YOU may submit as many as you’re able to create.  Ravenswood looks to purchase at least 4 videos for use — Creators will receive a one-time usage fee of $5ooo for each video chosen.  Enter your video here now.

* In consideration of the pending competition (and embarrassment), the above videos are only posted now on Nibbles of Tidbits — It took a lot to work up to that. 🙂

What’s Happening For Halloween? Fennel, Olives and Cauliflower?

October 22nd, 2010 2 comments

 

We’ll be making lots of Cookies, Cupcakes and Halloween goodies to be posted here soon.  Until then, if looking for more Halloween action than that, I just published a list of unique events happening throughout the county.  It’s posted with links on Examiner.com, where I write as Orange County Food Examiner.  Above photos were taken by Steven Woo at a DC Halloween Party last year — Hover above to learn more.

Giant Dusty Muffin: What Are You Waiting For Stupid, Eat It.

October 20th, 2010 1 comment

Although I haven’t watched it lately, I’ll forever be a long time fan of Saturday Night Live.  And I particularly LOVE the NPR Delicious Dish sketches — They crack me the hell up!  Since Nibbles of Tidbits is often about the FUNNY regarding FOOD, this video mixes right in.  And I’ve been a Betty White fan for years, before she became popular again.  She’s pretty funny! 😉

* Try Betty’s Giant Dusty Muffin, described in the video, or these Sugar Donut Muffins, or learn about Pete’s Schweddy Balls on NPR’s Delicious Dish.  Bon Appétit.

Who Doesn’t Love Worcestershire? Still Can’t Pronounce It, But Love It.

October 19th, 2010 1 comment

Who doesn’t love Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce?  I haven’t met anyone.  And after countless years of Steak marination and mixing it into Sauces, for the life of me I still can’t pronounce it, and need to assess its spelling over and over — We all know what I’m talking about, right!?  Regardless, the mysterious concoction of flavors is the best!  And right now Lea & Perrins is asking YOU to Shine at Dinnertime with a Video Recipe Challenge.  You could WIN $10,000 and more.  Just create and submit a home video (under 4 minutes long) showing how easy it is to make a flavorful dish using Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.  Submit a video today through November 14th.  Unwrap the possibilities, get filming (and editing), then upload your video here.  Voting begins in December.  More will be reported here when it’s happening.  GOOD LUCK!  Hhhmmm, perhaps I should start thinking about this one too.  I invented The Kiwi Game* in my first video and too shy to link my second — Will the third be a charm?  We’ll see.

* Thanks to Zespri and The Kiwi Game, I’m a lucky Semi-finalist in their fabulous contest you can enter here.  Not sure if I can actually call The Kiwi Game an invention. 😉

Where’s The Giant Plate Of Food?

October 17th, 2010 No comments

We wanted to buy this giant fork (and spoon) at Pier 1 Imports, but they cost too much and there’s really nowhere to put them — Sooooo instead we played with ’em in the store.  Probably not the best example to set, but ‘crazy aunt’ status can be a good excuse to act silly.  We just dusted them off with laughter.  Can you see Lexi’s reflection in the fork? 🙂

Where’s the giant food?

We’re Ready For A Throwdown With Bobby Flay’s New Cookbook.

October 16th, 2010 1 comment

Bobby Flay was at Williams-Sonoma South Coast Plaza yesterday signing his new cookbook — Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!: More Than 100 Recipes From Food Network’s Ultimate Cooking Challenge.  Since the line was way too long and my patience and available time too short, Jennifer provided her adorable photo for posting above.  Thanks Jennifer (and Bobby).

Just a fraction of the line going in to Williams-Sonoma to see Bobby Flay.

Since the book includes recipes from Bobby Flay and a few hometown challengers, we’ll soon be hosting our own Throwdown!  We plan to make competing recipes and have a blind taste test to see if we agree with what went down at the Throwdown.

Check back to see Nibbles of Tidbits Testdown! results.

Detoured By Thoughts Of Sugar Donut Muffins Dancing In My Head.

October 15th, 2010 1 comment

I’d never been much of a Donut person, until I had a warm one when Krispy Cream passed through a few California towns.  I fell in love while driving to the office with a dozen warm Original Glazed Donuts in my car.  I couldn’t wait, had to have one (eating while driving), then two, and dare I say three?  I did, until I tossed half out the window for the birds — It became one half Donut way too many, but LOVE ’em when they’re “HOT Now.”

Inspired by warm Donuts, the Sugar Donut Muffin photos by Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice, and the ease of baking versus frying compelled me to make them immediately.

These photos aren’t doing the Sugar Donut Muffins justice, but we truly enjoyed them right out of the oven, rolled in lots and lots of Sugar.  They seemed a little cakey and dry the next day, although still a recipe worth keeping.  It’s linked above.

The “Sugar” Donut Muffins were rolled in 3 choices of Sugar, granulated Sugar, Cinnamon & Sugar and Powdered Sugar.  The Cinnamon & Sugar was the favorite. 🙂

Muffins packed TO GO!

Digital Happy Hour At Charlie Palmer At Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza.

October 13th, 2010 1 comment

I’m excited to tune-in to Digital Happy Hour for the first time — It’s a Live Broadcast that happens from Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza each Wednesday between 5:30-7:00pm.  See you there.  They say…

Each week, Executive Chef Amar Santana & Social Filmmaker Sean Saint-Louis host unique celebrity and social media guests as they unwind with cocktails and culinary delights, while discussing the latest trends in food, film, mixology, sports and fashion.  It’s always progressive, always fun and never predictable.  Wherever you are in the world, you’ll be glad you tuned in to The Digital Happy Hour.

You can learn more from Orange County Films.  And previous Charlie Palmer reviews can be viewed here and here.

Note:  Broadcast times and locations vary, thus check the Digital Happy Hour link above for the latest news.  The video player becomes live each Wednesday.

Does Your Vodka Bottle Say What You Want It To? This One Does.

October 12th, 2010 1 comment

Does your Vodka bottle speak to you?  Perhaps it will, if you spend enough time together.  MEDEA Vodka is being sold as the world’s first interactive, programmable bottle.  It’s a new Dutch Vodka that I haven’t yet tried, but do appreciate the uniqueness of the bottle.  When I get a bottle, I might program it to say — What are you looking at?  Or, take a picture it might last longer, or back-off.  Or something else fun that’s up to 255 characters long.  We’ll see.  🙂

Many Years Of Knowing Taste Of Home Magazine And Cookbooks.

October 11th, 2010 1 comment

Circa 10+ years ago, I was subscribing to all the popular gourmet cooking magazines — Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Cook’s Illustrated, etc.  And for Christmas my Grandma got me a subscription to Taste of Home.  I hadn’t known of it and remember her saying… “It’s not a fancy gourmet magazine, but I’ve liked it for a long time.”  She was indeed on to something, because it turned out to be one of my favorite magazines too.  My Grandma (now 89) and I have enjoyed many recipes from Taste of Home magazines over the years.  Thanks Grandma.  And now Taste of Home is having a CONTEST you could possibly win.  It’s a Win-Win Contest, as you’ll learn by reading below.

WIN UP TO $20,000 FOR YOUR SCHOOL, PLUS ANOTHER $20,000 FOR YOU!  ENTER THE TASTE OF HOME TEACHERS RECIPE CONTEST PRESENTED BY BOOKS ARE FUN™

Bake sale blockbusters, popular potlucks, teachers’ lounge favorites, fabulous finger foods, delicious desserts, good for you goodies… The stomach often rules the mind at school. Now, Taste of Home, the world’s most popular cooking magazine, and Books are Fun™ have teamed up to put some money where that food goes with the Taste of Home Teachers Recipe Contest.

Books Are Fun will award more than $70,000 in cash and prizes for the best original submitted recipes chosen by the staff at Taste of Home, with $20,000 awarded to BOTH the grand prize winner and the affiliated school.

Taste of Home is thrilled to work with Books Are Fun to celebrate our teachers and all the wonderful people who help make our schools so special,” said Catherine Cassidy, editor-in-chief of Taste of Home. “We’ve all heard the news stories about budget cuts. This is a chance to do something positive for schools.”

The Taste of Home Teachers Recipe Contest has six categories for submissions: 

  • Appetizers & Snacks – Finger foods are always popular in the teachers’ lounge.  Pick the spreads, snack mix, and other savory bites that keep the staff happily munching!
  • Soups, Salads and Sides – What recipe do you grab for your potluck?  We’re looking for dishes that travel well and steal the show, like salads and pasta creations among others!
  • Entrees – What’s your best main course outside of school?  We want to see your bubbling casseroles, slow-cooked specialties, family-favorite main dishes and even party subs!
  • Desserts – Enter everything from cakes and pies to trifles and tortes in this tooth-tingling category!
  • Bake Sale – Send us your favorite cookies, cupcakes, bars, brownies, spiced nuts and home-made jams, whatever clears bake-sale tables the quickest!
  • Healthy Recipes – Healthy is huge in school these days.  Submit your favorite recipe that is so good, no one ever guesses it’s lower in fat and calories.

 The Taste of Home tasting panel will pick three winners from all of the submissions. The grand prize winner will win $20,000 and $20,000 for the school affiliated with that winner, plus a free one-year subscription to Taste of Home magazine for all paid full-time teachers and staff at the school. The second-place winner will win $10,000, plus $10,000 for the school. Third place will take home $5,000 plus $5,000 for the school. 

Entry forms and rules can be found at www.tasteofhome.com/teacherscontest or www.teacherscontest.booksarefun.com.  Completed entries must be received by 11:59pm (CT) on November 30, 2010.

Where to GIVE During National Food Bank Week.

October 9th, 2010 No comments

Learn where to GIVE in Orange County and throughout California during National Food Bank Week and all year long.  Give today for you may need to receive tomorrow.

National Food Bank Week Starts Tomorrow: Do You Have Food To Spare?

October 8th, 2010 No comments

Tomorrow begins National Food Bank Week (10/09/10 – 10/15/10) — As Orange County Food Examiner, I’ll be posting about what can be done locally to contribute.  Do you have food or time to donate right now?  If local and unsure how to help, the Orange County Food Bank is a good place to start — And Second Harvest Food Bank is another.  More links and information will be reported on Examiner.com.

Thai One Over On The Family: This Time It’s With Food.

October 6th, 2010 9 comments

Although no voting takes place here, you’re cordially invited to peek at my who cares anymore dinner party, a blog post formerly known as the Challenge #3 Luxury Dinner Party in Project Food Blog.  I’m kidding (kinda), I care.  And we did have a nice party, after I drank away my sorrow, just kidding again (mostly kinda).  The links will provide more information about all that.  We’ll continue with the party — I prepared a few Thai dishes, since I’m familiar with the cuisine and dinner guests were not.

I invited my awesome family to partake in the food and since none were familiar with Thai food, this post is really titled Thai One Over On The Family, instead of who cares. 🙂 I know they do.  They’re generally Steak, Seafood and Potato people.  The Potato People — Sounds scary.  Anyway, they were game to try it all.  I didn’t tell them about the Fish Sauce, but used it sparingly just in case.  Busted — They know now.

Since this post is no longer in competition and other stuff needs to get done, it’ll mostly consist of photos, a few words and relevant links.  Hover your cursor over each photo to learn a little more.  We had a great time together, as always.  I appreciate them so much.

Grilling Chicken and Filet Mignon Satay in the backyard on a beautiful day, with the Coconut Peanut Sauce waiting on the sidelines.

They take just minutes to cook, so turn them over quickly, take ’em off the grill and dig in.  The Satay was the family favorite, as expected.

They’re finally ready to dip into the Coconut Peanut Sauce.

Just a few of the ingredients used to prepare our Thai meal, certainly not all.

The Shrimp and Coconut Milk Soup started with defrosting homemade Chicken Stock, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves and Galangal.  I’d made this soup many times before, but it’s been a few years.  About 10 years ago, I was working as a Paralegal at a large law firm and we were having a fund raiser for the United Way.  To assist, I offered to prepare ‘any dish’ for the highest bidder.  One law partner paid $750 for a spicy Tom Kha Gai, a variation of the pictured Soup.  Thank God it turned out well and all proceeds went to the United Way.

Wish we could show you the Shrimp in the “Shrimp” and Coconut Milk Soup.  It’s too late now.

The pots were filled and the Lemongrass Tea chilled and ready for guests.  I’m not sure if the above photo can be considered artsy or if it’s just plain blurry!?  If just blurry, I apologize.  Had I still been in the competition, I would’ve taken more photos. 🙂

I also prepared a Vegetable Curry with a bountiful array of fresh Veggies (Baby Bok Choy, Sweet Pea Pods, Yams, Asparagus Tips, Carrots, Potatoes, Cauliflower, Zucchini and Broccoli).

And a Thai Peanut Noodle Salad, Saffron Rice and homemade Mango Lime Sherbet Ice Cream.  I found the BEST Peanut Dressing recipe for the Noodle Salad and coincidentally it’s by another Foodbuzz Featured Publisher.  It’s linked here and definitely a keeper.

The girls at the Thai Dinner Party (l-r) Niece Lexi, Mom, Sister Ami, Niece Bailee and Maggie, the King Charles Cavalier.  The boys were in the den watching football.

Lexi entertaining the crowd, as usual — She’s staring at YOU.

The Mango Lime Sherbet turned out too tart and I even added more sugar than the recipe called for.  Although everyone claimed to love tart flavors, it was pushing it.  My Dad took one bite and handed it back to me with a pucker on his face.

Above is a little sampling for the dog, just kidding — It’s what I had the next day, a Mini-Meal.  For the Satay and Coconut Peanut Sauce, I used a recipe similar to the one linked here.

My Nieces were in charge of the camera most of the time and secretly recorded us on video too many times.  I can’t use that, hahaha.  And I’m not even sure who this is, but it’s funny.  When it’s discovered by its Star, I may need to take it down — Until then, enjoy. 🙂 The only photo of me is the BBQ’ing hands.  I’m okay with that.  Thanks Kids in the Kitchen.

The Easiest Belgian Waffles In The World (Or) Luxurious French Toast?

October 3rd, 2010 1 comment

Hurry, hurry, step right up to see the ‘Easiest Belgian Waffles in the World’ (or wannabes).  The pictured Lemon Luxury Waffles were created for another contest, blah, blah, blah — I’m now up against the last hour deadline, thus there’s no time to explain.  See an earlier entry here for more information.  All week I’d been working on recipe creations using Nature’s Pride 100% Whole Wheat Bread and this was a favorite!

They’re named Lemon Luxury Waffles because it’s a luxury that they’re so easy to make and they taste luxurious with Lemon Zest throughout the recipe.  The above is a mixture of 1 Egg, 1 tsp. of Vanilla and Sugar (each) and 1/4 tsp. of Lemon Zest.  It makes 2 – 3 Waffles using Nature’s Pride Bread (cut into the largest circles possible) and a Belgian Waffle Maker

The warm Waffles are topped with fresh Whipped Cream (1 Cup) that’s beat with Powdered Sugar (2 -3 tbsp.) and 1/8 tsp. of Lemon Zest (or just a pinch).

If you don’t have a Belgian Waffle Maker, any will do.

Luxury Lemon Waffles are made similar to French Toast, without turning.  Cut the Bread into the largest rounds possible, then dip each into the above mixture before placing rounds on the Waffle Maker.  Cook until done throughout and golden brown.  Plate and top with the Lemon Zest Cream.  Garnish with a slice of Lemon Rind, Mint Leaf, or pretty Lemon Candy of some sort — I didn’t have the time or resources to jazz this one up, thus opted for available Lemon Rind.

I wasn’t sure if this recipe would work, but it did and beautifully — And the Lemon Zest makes it extra special tasting, kinda like old fashioned homemade Ice Cream.  These Lemon Luxury Waffles were terrific.  I hope I covered it all.  If any questions, just ask.

Family Thai’s And Posting On My Own Terms.

October 2nd, 2010 1 comment

Although I didn’t officially advance to Challenge #3 in Project Food Blog, I prepared a Thai Feast for my family.  I was sad, but might as well have that Dinner Party, eat and DRINK a lot.

My family is so awesome — They gave me the above as the best consolation prize ever and they’re mostly Meat and Potatoes eaters, but graciously tried the entire Thai MENU I’m no longer required to post by tomorrow, as I’m out of the competition. 🙁 But it’s nice to be back on my own time/terms.  I shall enjoy the outdoors instead.

Chicken and Filet Mignon Satay with Peanut Sauce is just one of the dishes on the MENU.  After 24 hours of marination, the Meat was amazing and didn’t even need the Sauce.  We’ll post our “Thai One On With Family Dinner Party” highlights here soon.  Good luck to the remaining 200 contestants — Talent is abound.  I guess I’ll take my one trophy, sit back and watch.  It’ll certainly be interesting to see who wins.

Categories: Food Pictures & More

OC Restaurant Week Is Happening Now: Prego’s Kick Off Party & Dinner.

September 28th, 2010 2 comments

Be sure to make dinner and/or lunch reservations this week in Orange County.  Restaurant Week is happening now through Saturday.  You can learn more about it here.  In celebration, we attended its Kick Off Party at Prego Ristorante in Irvine.

We enjoyed seemingly endless appetizer platters, Coppola Wine, Agave Tequila and Sobieski Wodka (Polish Vodka).  I had not been to Prego in years.  The service and food was as good as I remember.  We didn’t fall in love with the Kick Off Party appetizers, but our subsequent Three Course Meal for $30 was fantastic.

All were on stand by ready to serve food and drinks — Love that!

I enjoyed the Coppola Wine, while my guest had the Wodka.

As soon as one appetizer platter ran out, Prego staff brought out another.

Jill-FM Radio (92.7) DJ was playing great tunes for the crowd. 

Important people were being interviewed — I don’t know who.  It was a Sunday and I don’t get paid to know, hahaha.  The dining room is beautiful at Prego and the bar is larger than it used to be.  The dessert cart is also pictured below.

After the party, we took pleasure in Prego’s Three Course Meal, which includes a Glass of Wine.  It’s an amazing deal for $30.  And I was thrilled to see Carpaccio Cipriani as an option for the First Course.  I was sold on that alone. 

For the Second Course I had Risotto Mare with Arborio Rice, Shrimp, Scallops, Manila Clams and Black Mussels, and my friend had Costata Di Bue, a Mesquite Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Potatoes and Sauteed Vegetables.  Both meals were excellent, especially the Rib Eye and the Sauce that tops it.  Unfortunately the photo didn’t do it justice, thus it’s not posted.

And dessert includes a choice between Tiramisu and Torta Di Limone.  We got one of each.

We love Orange County Restaurant Week FOOD and prices — As previously mentioned, it’s the best time to dine out in the OC.  Eat now before it ends.

Join OC Foodies to stay on top of the latest Orange County food and restaurant news.

Project Food Blog: It’s Time To Vote For Nibbles of Tidbits In Challenge #2.

September 27th, 2010 1 comment

Vote for Nibbles of Tidbits HERE.  My entry and recipe for Moroccan Kefta with Eggs and Tomatoes is linked HERE.  Much thanks for your time and vote!  I truly appreciate it and HOPE to advance to Challenge #3, since my Luxury Dinner Party is currently under construction and ready to be hosted this Friday.  You’re cordially invited to view the report and photographs this Sunday — Hopefully they’ll be official.  Good luck to all.

Moroccan La La Land: Kefta With Eggs And Tomato For Brunch.

September 26th, 2010 12 comments

The challenge continues in Morocco, where I’ve mentally traveled the past few days.  As a lucky contender still kicking my way through Project Food Blog, I’m now asked to “tackle a classic dish from another culture” that’s “outside [my] comfort zone” — I can’t wait!  I’m excited to advance to Challenge #2.  Thank you judges, voters, God, family and friends.

During international cookbook immersion, a spark ignited for Kefta with Eggs and Tomato.  I had sought to find a dish we really wanted to eat, one that had unique ingredients, yet not a ridiculous amount, and one that didn’t take too long to make, and it had to be colorful — I initially thought about Rogan Josh, but it didn’t pass the color test.  Another time for that.  Selecting an “ethnic classic” I wasn’t familiar with led me on a journey, as the prompt likely intended.  Before understanding my chosen dish, I thought I’d be dining in the Middle East, then came to realize that I’d actually be in North Africa, most specifically Morocco having the pictured Kefta with Eggs and Tomato for supper with Moroccan friends.  It’s also a classic brunch dish and it’s served as a snack at bus and train stations in between both destinations.

Kefta with Eggs and Tomato (with Ras El Hanout) is pin-pointedly Moroccan and satisfies all self-imposed and set standards of this challenge.  What’s Ras El Hanout?  Last week I had no clue and I’m still not sure how to pronounce it, but now know what it is.  After calling all over town to purchase it off the shelf, I learned one jar was available 40 miles away.  At that moment I realized that it wasn’t necessary to drive there, since [it] is a somewhat subjective spice — Meaning Ras El Hanout is not one spice.  It’s sold in countless spice variations. 

In Arabic, Ras El Hanout means “top of the shop” and refers to the best spices a seller has to offer.  It usually contains no less than a dozen spices and sometimes up to a hundred.  It’s also believed to be an aphrodisiac.  Does it mean that each Ras El Hanout combination magically morphs into an aphrodisiac?  I’m not sure about that, but it’s fun to wonder about.  Since I had all ingredients on hand, I made my own Ras El Hanout to find out.  I found several recipes on the web and chose one that sounded best to me.  I halved the recipe and added two ingredients that were common in similar recipes.  Nibbles of Tidbits’ Ras El Hanout Recipe is posted here:

1 Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Ginger
1 Teaspoon of Turmeric
1 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon of Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Saffron Threads
1/2 Teaspoon of Cardamom
1/4 Teaspoon of Cloves
1/8 Teaspoon of Nutmeg
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

Toast and grind spices if whole, then combine all and keep in an airtight container.  I reused a saved spice jar and slapped a new label over it. 

Kefta is basically ground meat, most commonly Lamb and/or Beef that’s mixed with a variety of herbs and spices — It’s then formed into balls, sticks or loaves, and grilled, fried or baked, etc.  The recipe made here is based on one from The African and Middle Eastern Cookbook (pg. 103).  I stayed true to authenticity, yet made it a little tastier by caramelizing the Onions before adding them to the Meatball mixture, and easier by baking them instead of frying ’em.  In addition, I added Garlic, as seen in many Moroccan Kefta recipes, and I used fresh Tomatoes instead of canned.  Nibbles of Tidbits’ Kefta with Eggs and Tomato Recipe is posted here:

1 lb. of Ground Lamb
1 small chopped Sweet Onion
1 Cup of Bread Crumbs
4 – 5 Eggs
1 large minced Garlic Clove
6 large fresh chopped Tomatoes
2 + 1 Teaspoon(s) of Ras El Hanout
1/4 Cup of chopped fresh Cilantro
1/2 Cup of Water* (1/4 + 1/4)
Flat Leaf Parsley (chopped), a little for Sauce and garnish
Salt and freshly ground Pepper
Olive Oil for baking sheet and Onion sauté

Sauté Onion until caramelized.  Add Garlic, cook two minutes longer and set aside.  Combine the Lamb, Bread Crumbs, 1 Egg, Ras El Hanout (2 tsps.), Onions and Garlic, Cilantro and S & P.  Mix together well, then add Water, 1/4 cup at a time until incorporated.  Form into medium sized Meatballs and bake in a preheated 400° oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  

* Adding Water or Milk to a Meatball recipe lightens them up, whereas they cut like butta.  There’s no reason for a Meatball to be tough, unless you’re a biker named One Tough Meatball.

To make the Sauce, combine the Tomatoes, Sugar, reserved Ras El Hanout (1 tsp.) and a handful of Flat Leaf Parsley.  Simmer until reduced, then add the baked Meatballs to the Sauce.  Form 3 – 4 wells for the Eggs.  Crack ’em directly into the skillet, cover and cook until Eggs are set.  Serve straight from the skillet with Crusty Bread.

For continued authenticity, we served the Kefta with Sweet Mint Green Tea, Orange Juice and Olives, popular beverages and a snack in Morocco.  I properly mixed the Tea too.

Kefta with Eggs and Tomato turned out to be a flavorful, hearty and beautiful dish.  For this challenge, I read 15 – 20 recipes to create an adaptation that kept the dish authentic, yet made it easier to prepare and better to eat.  I can’t help it — It’s all I know. 🙂

Could this post be worthy of (1) of your (200) votes?  I hope so!  I’m exhausted, yet still wanting to line up standby guests for the Discovery Dinner Party, in the event there’s reason to celebrate.  My brain is on the last flight back from Morocco.

You may VOTE FOR ME here.

Thanks For Your Votes: Now Tackling An “Ethnic Classic” For Challenge #2.

September 24th, 2010 No comments

I made it through!  How exciting.  Thanks to those who voted for me during Challenge #1 of Project Food Blog.  I’m now one of (400) competing in Challenge #2, whereas the task is to prepare an “ethnic classic” dish that’s out of my comfort zone.  Cool.  I’m working on it and shall be eating it soon, as it’s necessary since the deadline is in two days.  It seems I’ve joined a fast marathon — Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.  Overall, it’s a good thing and I have a fantastic recipe selected that’s due here shortly.  Hope it’s as good as it sounds.  We’ll see.