Eating out, cooking in, cooking out and our opinions on everything culinary

Friday, May 28, 2004

Zucchini Bread

How classic is it that the day I start my "new way of eating" that a friend from the office has this GIANT zucchini that she wants me to "do something with". Of course the first thing I think of is zucchini bread.

I spent some of my afternoon at work searching for a good recipe. I have to give credit where credit is due, this is a deliciously moist zucchini bread, and it really only requires some basic ingredients that most people have on hand. I had to get extra eggs but go figure. And each batch that makes 2 loafs, only uses 2 cups of grated zucchini. I also have to say that I love my Cuisinart Food Processor. Not having to grate by hand is definately awesome.

This recipe came from All Recipes.com. I have found so many great recipes on this site, I use it a lot when trying to get inspired for uses of ingredients. Check out the recipe for the zucchini bread below:

Zucchini Bread IV
This is the best zucchini bread I have made! I have other
recipes, but this is the best! Thanks to my mother! Prep Time:
approx. 15 Minutes. Cook Time: approx. 1 Hour 10 Minutes.
Ready in: approx. 1 Hour 25 Minutes. Makes 2 - 8x4 inch
loaves (24 servings).
Printed from Allrecipes, Submitted by Kristen
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda


Directions
1 Preheat oven to 325 degrees F ( 165 degrees C). Grease
and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans.
2 In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix
in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Combine
flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt and nuts; stir
into the egg mixture. Divide batter into prepared pans.
3 Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until done.



This recipe was simple, and delicious. People in my office are loving it as we speak!
Shawn

Friday, May 21, 2004

Cookies

I just have to say thank God for Whole Foods again. Today we were there, eating lunch, and we grabbed our favorite brand cookies. Alternative Baking Co. makes Vegan cookies, but they taste so yummy, moist and delicious that you would never know they were Vegan if they didn't advertise it. Check out their website for more information on their productline. I had the "Cookie of the Season" today which is like a Banana Pecan. Rock on baby~!

What kinda chef....

I found this link on the Red Ted Keeps a Diary page. Basically it is test to see What Food Network Chef Are You. I have seen it floating around and it's pretty funny. Interestingly enough, I'm Alton Brown...which makes me "smart" according to the test. It's a fun one.

So this weekend we will be frying our first turkey.....which should be fun. We plan to use the fried turkey to serve BBQ turkey sandwhiches, with some side salads, fruit, and probably beer or margaritas. Should be severely yum. Oh yeah and the Yogurt Cake recipe I got from Chocolate & Zucchini website. Yeah baby.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Product Choices-organic, natural, conventional?

I don't know what I would do without Whole Foods. Even with the prices of everything natural and organic being so high, I have gotten to the point where I really don't want to eat conventional grocery store meat period. I draw the line these days and purchase all our meat at Whole Foods. The beef tastes better, the chicken tastes better, the ground turkey is head and shoulders above the rest.

There is a big debate in our culture about whether organic, natural foods are in essence better for you than conventionally grown produce, meats, and dairy products. Being Chefs the quality and flavor of the products speak to us on a level that is so much more than merely a health issue.

I have converted my parents over from conventional to organic milk, and that took very little time. I have a hard time convincing my mom to pay $9.00/lb for good quality natural organic chicken. Do you blame her? But if we are what we eat, then isn't the investment worth it? Everyone is so worried about getting caught up in the hype....and getting ripped off.

I'll tell you what is a rip off, all the low-carb craze that is going on. If you are going to eat low-carb, follow the glycemic index. If you aren't then don't. But just like diet foods that are supposedly "low-fat", "low-carb" is going through it's own period of adjustment.

In our experiences working as Private Chefs, people prefer whatever is healthier, and whatever is fresh and in season. It is when food is meant to be enjoyed. We have been so lucky to have a clientele who are very liberal with their pocketbooks, and given us the opportunity to use some of the best quailty ingredients available to Chef's today!~ Many of these ingredients we purchased weekly at our local Farmer's Markets! Get out there and see what is available, and don't just settle for Vons or your big chain grocery stores. Some of the smaller stores may be more expensive but they may offer some considerable value in the long run!

I'm hoping to get some feedback on this from any readers! Thanks again!

The Kettle

The Kettle in Manhattan Beach is a California Landmark as far as I'm concerned. I have spent many a day there, hungover after a night of partying, or just a casual Sunday with friends, having lunch, brunch and the like. I love the Kettle for very specific reasons. One is that one of my very best dear friends and I used to hang there, and it is one of those sentimental spots....what did we eat you ask?

Fried Zucchini-with EXTRA ranch dressing. I mean BUCKETS of the dressing. It is by far in my tenure of eating ranch my all-time favorite ranch dressing anywhere, hands down. I think I eat the fried zucchini merely as a vehicle for eating the dressing. They are battered and crispy spears of zucchini. They top them off after frying with some grated parm. Deliciouso!~

After my fill of Zucchini (I always fight with Ben over these because they are my meal and he's getting a sandwhich normally)--I have to have the large cup of French Onion Soup. The Kettle is the place I was originally introduced to the indulgence that is French Onion Soup. Beefy, oniony, and CHEESY, the Kettle never ceases to impress my delicate sensibilities when it comes to the fine art of the onion soup. Even after graduating from Culinary school and making it myself and having it at several other higher end joints, I have to say the French Onion Soup at the Kettle is my all-time fave. Served with a giant slab of cheese bread, it is enough to fill the heartiest soup appetite. That and zucchini and Passionfruit tea, and I'm rolling out of this place.

Ben is pretty much addicited to both of the above. However he needs substance, he's only 22, and a MAN, so he has to have some PROTEIN. He loves Big Mamou's Chicken Sandwhich, and you can get it with fries or a small soup, so he gets his French Onion Soup that way.

Cheers!~

Islands

What is it about Islands that is consistently good. Makes us wonder why it is that chain restaurants and fast food companies make the money they do. This is not she she fair, not even close. This is comfort food, California style.

When you want a good basic burger, and fries to die for, Islands is always what I crave. Funny enough, I'm not the one that eats the burgers there. I'm all into the soft tacos they serve, the Yaki to be exact...which are 3 soft tacos filled with teriyaki chicken, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. I always get their honey mustard dressing on the side. I love the way they taste the same everytime.

Ben is in love with the Maui Burger. He pretty much orders it regligiously. Of course, he has to have mayo for his fries too, freak. I know it's good but I can feel the pounds packing on my thighs when I eat fries in freaking mayo. Another thing I love about Islands is their neverending Passionfruit Tea. Mmmm. Delish on a hot California day.

A neat tip about Islands is that if they are packed on the weekends, you can normally sneak into their bar, and they offer a full menu there. We have done that at 7pm on a Friday or Saturday quite successfully.

There are several to choose from on the Westside....we prefer the one in the Marina because parking is ample, but probably frequent the one on Pico because it is most local to us. Enjoy!~

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Just when I lost all faith

I have to say I am very impressed with the Border Grill in Santa Monica. I emailed them my dismay about their debaccle in terms of our Mother's Day excursion, and one of the customer service representatives there was so cool. She hooked us all up with gift certificates so that we can come back and enjoy another meal on them, and hopfeully they won't have issues this time around. She put me into direct contact with her, to make our reservations through her, and she will take care of all our needs.

Interesting....
Things like this are just not common in this town, let alone the Hospitality Industry in general. I have to say since Culinary School, I constantly am questioning myself as to what I was thinking going to school anyhow. I mean I wanted to be a Chef I had it all figured out. But after seeing what Chef's do in the real world, and the type of people they have to be, it's disturbing. I mean, I love cooking it is my creative passion there is no question about it. However turning into an instant ass is just not my cup of tea as a profession. I think my degree will fit into my life somewhere, I'm glad I went to school I don't regret it, eventhough I will be paying it off forever.

Anyhow, back to the Border Grill, will update you more once we go for a repeat visit...

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Santa Monica Farmer's Market-Saturday

The Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Saturdays at the Santa Monica Airport is our favorite farmer's market. When I was Personal Cheffing it was always my favorite weekend stop. All the local farmers are there with amazing produce, but it doesn't stop there. There's bakers, cheese makers, plants, products, and of course Mis Padres has a stand there where we get our Chilaquiles. They are hot, spicy, crazy, good, and Ben and I can share 1 order and we are full.

We had never had chilaquiles before, but we were hooked the first time we got them. Big crispy tortilla chips are sauteed on a flat top, with Mis Padres salsa, onions, cilantro and then topped with grilled chopped chicken and cheese. I'm psycho, so I always add additional salsa that they have out front at their salsa bar. Their food is fresh and these people have a true passion for food and culture. In fact we are on our way over there to partake in some on our lunchbreak today!

There is more to the Farmer's Market than Mis Padres. The purveyors are truly dedicated to locally grown organic produce and it's great to sample all the delicious options before taking them home, to make sure you have that perfectly ripened strawberry or tomato. There are so many favorites I can't even begin to tell you. The herb guy is out of his mind, and they run out of their famous Thyme first thing in the morning. Many of the vendors have extensive selections, and remember, it's important to buy from the little guy. Corporate farming is such a nightmare, and it's really trying to snuff out the smaller farms. I try to buy from the little guy whenever I can.

Okay off to the Farmer's Market!

The Border Grill, Santa Monica

I think an important part of this Blog is going to be restaurant reviews of the places we try. In this town it is hard to get an impartial review. We have nothing to gain or lose from posting our experiences here so just realize that they are real.

Mother's Day Brunch we set up to go to Border Grill in Santa Monica. Once, a long time ago we had some margaritas there and they were amazing, so we thought hey it might be fun to try something out of my parents comfort zone. I made reservations using OpenTable.com, and we proceeded to show up on time, ready for big fun at Border Grill.

They had a limited Mother's Day menu which was fine, plenty of choices that sounded good. Ben chose the Chicken Chillaquiles....he was looking forward to something amazing like the ones we get from Mis Padres at the Saturday Farmer's Market. Mmmmm. Ben is not the type of person to send back entrees on a regular basis, but he said it tasted like nothing. He sent his back for the Eggs Benedict, which is what I had and was very tasty.

Border Grill had a special drink menu for Mother's Day, toting Tamarindo Margaritas that were 12.00 each. I mean I understand it's a trendy Santa Monica restaurant but PLEASE. They weren't even GOOD. Also, the mother's with us had mimosas, guess how much (we didn't find out until we got the bill), $10.00 each. What were they putting in these mimosas, Dom? Whatever. For the food we got, the quality, and the ambience, I would have to say I rate this place a 5 out of 10. I think it is so super overrated. The whole TwoHotTamale's thing is also incredibly overrated.

I took the time today to write a letter of complaint about the rip off to Border Grill today. We shall see what they have to say in the future (will update here).

Friday, May 14, 2004

Me Too

I just thought that I would take a min. to introduce myself. My name is Ben and I am Shawn's partner in crime. If I'm right she is the brains and I am the brawn. Together we make up Two Hot Chefs, clever huh? I hope that we can leave this site for personal updates and have a domain site for the Business end. One of our aspirations is to either set up with a family and do a couples personal chef gig or set up a B&B in someplace tropical. Which ever works out is just fine with me. I will put my two cents in every now and then to keep you on your toes.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Cruising Around....

Today looking at some other foodie, culinary inspired webblogs. Man I wish I would have known about this when I was in Culinary School. Who am I kidding though, I mean it's been less than a year since I graduated. I didn't have the time to post online during school anyhow. Everything was homework, thinking about ingredients, planning, menu preparation, prep in general, just lots going on. How come it seems like when you have something you have to do like school, work comes in droves, and you are so busy constantly you don't even have time to do your school work?

I started out in Culinary school in Minneapolis....at the Art Institute Minneapolis. It is a private school with a Culinary program offering an AS degree in Culinary Arts. Not so bad, but it was kinda expensive. In retrospect I may have either chosen not to go or not to go to that school for the money.

I learned so much going to Culinary school though, so it's not that it wasn't a worthwhile process. I also met the other half of TwoHotChefs, Ben, at Culinary school we started at the same time. We are an amazing team, and during the tenure of our relationship we have worked together in everything from Hotels, to Restaurants, to Private Chef work, Personal Chef work, and lastly Catering on many levels. After our most recent stint at a local Santa Monica Restaurant, we have decided it made more sense to go ahead and just take a break from the industry in general. The past 2 years have been so hectic, we wanted to regroup and find something that would workout perfectly for us.

In the meantime we are working 40 hour a week day jobs. We do the occasional Personal Chef work and some small party catering which we both enjoy doing. I wouldn't mind getting back into Chef work for a family again. That has probably been the happiest I have been working in a kitchen (me being the boss of me!). One of my lifelong goals is to own my own B&B in Maui. I want to live on the island so badly, I have been on several visits, and I just think that Ben and I would be really successful running a small B&B there.

So this is it for now. I'm working on getting some photos on the site, tweaking out the design some and really getting back to my foodie roots. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Mirepoix was taken....

I'm so bummed, I totally got this great idea, let's make a foodie Blog and name it Mirepoix...of course someone else already thought of this. Tisk Tisk. Well, Ben and I are the TwoHotChefs anyhow, so we may as well make a site for ourselves. This is just my first post to see how this is going to be set up. So Ciao until later :) Shawn


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