Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekend Explorations: Outer Sunset in San Francisco

Andytown Coffee Roasters

One of my favorite things about San Francisco is the distinct personality of each neighborhood.  Z does not really care what we do on the weekend, but I have made it a point to start exploring more neighborhoods, and Z is kind enough to come along for the ride (and often drive!).

We visited the Sunset a few times over the past month, and both times we found great spots that we had to share.

Devil’s Teeth Baking Company: San Francisco sure does love its bakeries, and the Sunset has its own claim to fame with Devil’s Teeth. They are famous for their breakfast sandwiches of egg, bacon, cheese, avocado and lemon aioli on a freshly baked biscuit. We also tried their donut muffin and cinnamon roll, which were both delicious. Come willing to share the baked treats!

Devil's Teeth Baking Company
Devil's Teeth Baking Company
Devil's Teeth Baking CompanyAndytown: I heard about this coffee roaster from colleagues at work. I particularly intrigued by the "Snowy Plover", an iced coffee drink named after a small bird. The drink is actually espresso, tonic water, and brown sugar over ice, topped with homemade whipped cream. It's delicious -- perfectly sweet and refreshing. They also have delicious scones and soda bread. Z and I shared the cheddar and scallion scone. Despite the line out the door, we would go again in a minute. Plus, one can't help but love their succulents.

Andytown Coffee RoastersAndytown Coffee Roasters

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Crème Brûlée French Toast

Creme Brulee French Toast

I hate to say it, because I love myoriginal French toast recipe, but I found the best and absolute easiest French toast you will ever make in your life.

This is a recipe that I made and then immediately wanted to tell every single person about it: my dad, Z’s mom, my neighbor with the cute adorable toddler, the barista who never smiles when I order my cappuccino.

You see, this is no ordinary French toast. This is crème brûlée French toast. It’s a custardy, nutmeg-flavored custardy piece of challah where one side has a crispy sugar coating reminiscent of the shell on top of crème brûlée.

Creme Brulee French Toast

Oh, and did I mention that you can make this even if you don’t know the first thing about anything? You soak challah in a nutmeg-infused mixture of eggs, cream, and whole milk overnight (no wonder it’s good), and then you cook it in the oven on a sheet of melted butter and brown sugar.

Creme Brulee French Toast

It’s a perfect brunch meal—prep the night before, pop it into the oven the day of. By the time you cook up some sausage and make a pot of coffee, your French toast is ready.  I was overly ambitious and served it with an eggs poached in tomato sauce dish that I overcooked (see, no one is perfect!), but it didn’t even matter because this crème brûlée French toast is JUST THAT GOOD.

Creme Brulee French Toast

Crème Brûlée French Toast

From The New York Times

5 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons dark rum or orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 loaf challah bread, sliced 1 inch thick, preferably stale
1 cup packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, rum, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Spread bread out in 1 layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Pour custard over bread, cover with plastic wrap, and let soak in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight. Flip bread slices over once while they soak (either halfway through soaking or an hour before baking). 

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and melted butter. Pour mixture onto another large rimmed baking sheet, using a spatula if necessary to spread into an even layer. 

Transfer soaked bread to sugared baking sheet, placing slices on top of the brown sugar mixture. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and sugar is bubbling. 

Serve immediately while still hot, with the crunchy brown sugar side up, spooning more of pan syrup on top. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Peanut Butter Brownies for Valentine's Day

Peanut Butter Brownies
It’s only fitting that for Valentine’s Day, this post includes two of my long-time loves, peanut butter and chocolate. The two are a perfect pair, like rainy days and a great book, Kate and William, and bagels and lox.

Both ingredients are heavy players in my diet; peanut butter and bananas, peanut butter on toast, hot chocolate, dark chocolate before bed; there typically isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t have either chocolate or peanut butter.  

I typically eat chocolate and peanut butter separately, but admittedly Reese’s are my favorite drugstore candy item, and I recently fell in love with McConnell’s Double Peanut Butter Chip ice cream. Why not combine the two into brownies?

Peanut Butter Brownies

These peanut butter brownies are perfect for sharing at work, sharing with your Valentine on a hike, and turning into a hot fudge brownie sundae for eating by yourself (which admittedly is me this year as Z is out of town skiing).

My Valentine’s Day will start with laying in bed all day a springboard Pilates class (I’m slowly but surely becoming stronger) and hopefully a massage (thanks to the amazing company Soothe). In the afternoon, I’ll whip up a batch of these brownies again for post-dinner ice cream sundaes.

The first time I made these brownies, I checked to see if they were done, but I was more focused on Downton Abbey  multi-tasking and accidentally dropped a pan of half-cooked brownies on the floor. Oops. So, don’t make the same mistake I did and try to keep up with the Crawley Family while making peanut butter brownies.

Peanut Butter Brownies 

From Cook’s Illustrated
Makes about 16 brownies

Note: do not use a natural peanut butter (one where the oil separates from the butter itself). While I never eat Skip or Jiffy, this is the recipe to use it in.

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup peanut butter, room temperature

Adjust oven rack to middle position, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 8-inch baking dish with foil and coat foil with cooking spray. 

Melt the chocolate and butter in small bowl in microwave, or in heatproof bowl set over pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally to combine. Cool mixture for several minutes. 

Whisk sugar, baking powder, table salt, eggs, and vanilla together in medium bowl until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in flour until no streaks remain.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Drop peanut butter in 10 small dollops spread out evenly across the batter. Without touching the foil lining, run pairing knife through batter to create swirls.

Peanut Butter Brownies

Peanut Butter Brownies

Bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center of pan comes out clean, 25 to 27 minutes. Cool brownies on wire rack for 1 hour. 

Peanut Butter Brownies

Using foil, lift brownies from pan to cutting board. Slide foil out from underneath brownies, and cut brownies into 2-inch squares.  

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