Lemon and Mixed Berry Striped Cake

Last month I started cooking out of the Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh cookbook “Sweet” and it has been both fun and rewarding. If you missed it, check out my blog post.  Last week I was alerted that the US/Canadian version of the “Sweet” cookbook had some errors with oven temperatures and baking times. If you have a copy of the book, you can email sweet@tenspeed.com to inquire how to obtain a corrected copy when it comes out. In the meantime, there is a link to a document that you can print out to get the corrections.

My family celebrated Christmas on the Eve and my niece and I made the lemon and mixed berry striped cake for dessert. I call it the vertical cake. In my opinion, it is the most stunning dessert in the entire cookbook. A friend of mine had already made it for me for my birthday in November and now it was my turn.

There are three parts to the recipe. There is the cake, the buttercream, and the fruit purée that is used for the drizzle on top as well as in the buttercream. With my new mixer, prepping has gotten a lot easier with better results.  

I was impressed how light and airy the cake batter was. The batter is spread out as a sheet cake so it’s much easier than a layer cake. The cake is “trained,” meaning it is rolled up while it is still warm.  I suspect that if you didn’t do that, the cake would crack.  When it has cooled down it is rolled back out and cut into three even pieces and spread with buttercream. Starting with one piece, it is rolled and each additional piece is added.  

The large cylindrical cake is turned on its side where the remaining frosting covers the cake thoroughly. Finally, the mixed berry purée is drizzled on top.  

The cake doesn’t actually look all that impressive until you cut into it. It’s like magic and it tastes like magic too. No corrections needed on this recipe!  

Advertisements

An Eggtraordinary Meal

“I Must Eat This” was the subject line of an email from a friend of mine in Los Angeles. It was referring to a meal inspired by the Sanrio character Gudetama at the Japanese restaurants called Curry House. According to Wikipedia, Gudetama was introduced by Sanrio in 2013 and is a gender neutral character that is the yolk of an unfertilized egg. The name Gudetama is derived from the Japanese word for lazy “gude gude” and egg “tamago”. Gudetama is known as the lazy egg.

I flew down to Los Angeles for a few days to visit and enjoy the Gudetama x Curry House meal. My friend and I had a late lunch this past Thursday at the Curry House located in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. The meal starts with soup and salad. The generous sized salad of lettuce, red cabbage, and shredded carrots was tossed with a light miso dressing. Gudetama’s cute face is imprinted on top of a warm cup of sweet creamy corn soup.  
The entree was Keema curry with rice topped with a sunny-side Gudetama. This version of Keema curry was cooked with ground beef, enoki mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots. I broke Gudetama and thoroughly mixed the egg into the curry and rice. I thought the curry was a bit too salty, so I was glad there was an abundance of rice.  It is the epitome of comfort food.
My friend ordered the vegetarian option which was tofu katsu. Tofu is breaded with panko and deep fried. These crispy tofu patties with brown curry gave it the perfect flavor balance and were delicious. I think I would have preferred the vegetarian entree.

The meal ends with a custard pudding. It is more gelatinous than it is creamy. I liked that it was not too sweet. I would never order this if it was not part of the menu, but it was definitely a nice treat to end the meal.  
For $29, you get all of the above plus you leave with a Gudetama X Curry House beanie as a souvenir.  
Altogether, I thought it was a very hearty meal and a fun promotional event. Eggs are awesome and I think it is a way to appreciate the protein. If you want to participate in Gudetama x Curry House, the promotion runs through January 20, 2018. There are several Curry House restaurants in the Los Angeles area. If you live in the Bay Area, there is one location in Cupertino.  

Treat Yourself to Gott’s Roadside Walnut Creek

This past Thursday was the grand opening of Gott’s Roadside in Downtown Walnut Creek. The opening marked Gott’s sixth location in the Bay Area, but the first to move into the East Bay. I had a special invite on Tuesday to check it all out. 

I was already familiar with Gott’s. I actually remember it as Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena. It was always a part of “Treat Yourself” day with friends. We would drive to Napa Valley and pick up a cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake at Taylor’s before enjoying some spa services. I’ve also enjoyed a few cheeseburgers at the Gott’s location in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
The new space is very bright. I was most impressed with their installation of garage doors made of glass that can be opened up when weather permits, perfect for warm Walnut Creek.  
I would dare say most people go to Gott’s for some kind of burger. After all, they have high quality burgers with patties made from Niman Ranch beef. Depending on your tastes, there is probably one you would like. You can order a simple hamburger or cheeseburger or have something more complex like a California Burger or a Kimchi Burger.  
It was really nice to be able to explore more of the menu, since I don’t remember straying away from my typical cheeseburger at Gott’s. It was my first time trying the Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos. The crispy taco shell is filled with marinated ahi, cabbage, cilantro, avocado, green onions, and sesame seeds. Every ingredient was fresh and flavorful and was well balanced. These tacos are now on my radar and I would go there just for them.
I enjoyed the Crispy Teriyaki Chicken sandwich very much. This tasted like a Fried Chicken Sandwich that married a Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich. The fried chicken went well with the pickled carrots and daikon radishes. 
Gott’s prepares a very good Avocado, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato (ABLT) sandwich. The key to this sandwich is fresh ingredients and it’s got that plus a charred jalapeño mayo that makes it shine even brighter. The simplicity of this sandwich makes it a great alternative when you don’t feel like a burger.  
Have you heard of the Impossible Burger? I recently heard of it and I didn’t really give a care because I simply have never been a fan of a veggie burger. I was told that this is a veggie burger like no other —The Impossible Burger smells, sizzles, bleeds, and tastes like a beef patty. I was here to try stuff out, so I took a bite, and another bite. I was amazed and could not believe that I was not eating meat. This was a great burger with all the accoutrements. Eating the Impossible Burger made me pause and think. This is a burger that is going to save the world one day, but right now, it’s a big step in protecting our environment.   
Seasonal ingredients allow Gott’s the opportunity to put some specials on the menu. Right now, you can order a Dungeness Crab Sandwich, a Dungeness Crab and Bay Shrimp Louie Salad, and Fried Brussels Sprouts. I had a taste of all of these, and they were quite special.
For something sweet, there is the option for a milkshake during your meal or a soft serve after your meal. Three Twins Ice Cream is used to make the milk shakes and Straus Creamery to make the soft serve. How can you go wrong with either choice?
Gott’s Roadside is a great addition to the Downtown Walnut Creek. After a day of shopping at Broadway Plaza or after hiking Mt. Diablo, stop by Gott’s and Treat Yourself! The Walnut Creek location also has a bar and lounge area serving local wine and beer.  

Nico’s: A Memorable Feast

I had the pleasure of having dinner at Nico’s 1508 in Berkeley a few months ago. With competing priorities, I hadn’t gotten a chance to write about that experience until now. However, I think it speaks volumes about a meal when many of the dishes I had a while back are still memorable. 

We started with a couple of appetizers including the Steamed Mediterranean Mussels that were cooked in a lovely red curry kaffir lime broth. The Asian flavors struck a perfect balance to the shellfish. It was a generous portion of mussels and we ate every mussel and soaked up every drop of broth. I remember it well because it was one of the best prepared mussels I have ever had.
My friend and I decided to order a combination surf and turf and some sides. When the food came out it was like eating family style, except it was just two of us. 

Our sides included the roasted root vegetables, the pork belly chipotle mac and cheese, and the maple glazed butternut squash. I would say the root vegetables were the least memorable. The mac and cheese was a bit overkill, in that the pasta was overdone and it was just way too heavy for my taste. Hands down the butternut squash was the star. We were like children in a candy store eating all the glazed goodness.
The fish was a roasted Hawaiian Walu which was complemented with braised fennel and potatoes, a Meyer lemon and thyme butter sauce and a balsamic reduction. I wonder if I should praise the chef or the saucier on this one.
Nico’s offers three cuts of steak – the filet mignon, a New York steak, or a bone-in rib eye. We selected the filet mignon cooked in a bourbon demi glaze. It was cooked a perfect medium rare providing a tender and buttery texture.  
With full tummies, we shared one dessert. After all, who could turn down warm bourbon pecan bread pudding with a dark chocolate sauce and a Grand Marnier cream. It was the perfect match to the end a fantastic meal. 
With the holiday season here, Nico’s is a great place to share a nice meal with friends or family. I also hear they offer an excellent brunch.  They are even open on Christmas and New Year’s Day!