07/5/15

My first Randy’s Donuts & Foodie Periscope Broadcast

I got married two weeks ago. I am so happy that myself and Chris are finally husband and wife. Not just because he is the most wonderful person that I have ever met – and he is – but also because it means that I am now no longer planning a wedding. Everything went great – yay for Etsy! – but boy did it take up nearly every spare moment of my life. Which, of course, meant just about no time to blog. I did a lot of Instagram posting though so don’t forget to follow me over there with the same Doughgasm name. I love following other foodies too so let me know your account name too.

Speaking of foodie social media, I recently discovered Periscope broadcasts. If you haven’t heard of Periscope, it is an app that is like a cross between Snapchat and Twitter but with streaming video. People smartphones to run personal streams and anybody else using the app can join and watch a slice of somebody’s life through their eyes.

People are using Periscope to share everything from city tours, makeup tutorials and news events.  It is still such a new thing that there aren’t a huge number of people using it but since Twitter is behind Periscope, it is being given a big push and  I am seeing more and more people starting Periscope broadcasts everyday.

Not shockingly, foodies are recognizing the possibilities and using Periscope to do cooking demonstrations and food reviews. I was on Periscope for about day before I was itching to do my own foodie Periscope broadcast.

Randy's Donuts

This morning, we decided head on down Randy’s Donuts to do my first food Periscope broadcast. Despite having lived in Los Angeles for nearly three years now, this was also my first visit to the Los Angeles foodie institution.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to do a Periscope broadcast that would really draw in foodies. Figuring that jumping in at the deep end was the way to go, I began my Periscope broadcast as soon as we got into the line at Randy’s.

The first step was to give the broadcast a name. That is important because otherwise, other Periscope users aren’t going to know what my Scope (what an individual broadcast is called) is about and most likely won’t watch it.

Periscope broadcast

I used hashtags because the Periscope account is attached to my Doughgasm Twitter account and has the option of sending out a tweet when I go live on a broadcast. As long as I keep those tags within the first 140 characters of the Periscope title, the tags will be active on Twitter.

Randy’s Donuts was fairly busy this morning which resulted in a pretty long wait. That turned out to be okay for the Periscope broadcast because it kept us on around long enough for people to find the scope and start chatting to me.

As I showed the viewers the menu at Randy’s Donuts they started to give me advice on which donuts I should order. Some of them based on their own experience of Randy’s and some just on what sounded good to them. Either way, it was a lot of fun to be sharing the experience.  As you can see in the image, the chat from the Periscope broadcast viewers comes up as text messages on the screen.

Periscope conversation

The broadcaster, on the other hand, is communicating through voice.

This came more into play when it was time to show off the donuts we had bought. I could  describe the texture and taste of the donuts in detail while using the camera to get up close and show the audience that detail. This glazed donut, for example has a wonderfully springy nature to the dough and I was able to let them see me squeeze into that dough while describing how it felt under my fingers.

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The chocolate old fashioned donut that I had was an entirely different donut in both texture and taste. I enjoyed being able to live review both donuts and explain the differences in both as I was trying them rather than having the delay between eating and blogging.

food Periscope

The hearts you are seeing one the right hand of the picture are a reward of appreciation from viewers. When they like something that is being done in a Periscope broadcast they tap the screen and hearts float up the side. The hearts that you collect in each Periscope broadcast go towards your overall heart count. The more hearts you have, the higher you appear on the Periscope account list and the easier you are for people to find and follow you.

Overall, the donuts at Randy’s Donuts were tasty. I’m not sure they were mind blowing but I wouldn’t say no to going there again. Especially with most of the donuts costing between 80 cents and a dollar. The actual glaze on the glazed donut managed not to be overly sweet which made working my way through the fluffy dough monster all the more enjoyable.

The chocolate old fashioned, on the other hand, had topping which was more of a fudgy frosting than a glaze. After a few bites it became much too sweet for my tastes but the actual donut itself was a tasty enough chocolate cake that I kept going (fat girl problems) until that slab of cake was finished. If I wasn’t lactose intolerance, I would have said a tall glass of milk to be it’s perfect pairing,

Without a doubt, sharing the experience on Periscope is what truly made going to Randy’s Donut’s memorable.

If you aren’t on Periscope, now is the perfect time to check it out. The community is growing at a rapid pace and, from what I have seen, it has the potential to become a huge player in the social media world.

You can find the Periscope app in the Apple App store or on Google Play for Android devices. Their is also a Periscope App website with links and a development blog.

Once you have joined, don’t forget to follow me on Periscope. You can find me there as Doughgasm.  If you tell me you found me through this post, I will be sure to follow you back!

Periscope profile

Before I go, here is the video from the portion of my Periscope broadcast where I reviewed the donuts. The saved file doesn’t show the chat text or hearts. So, you are only hearing one side of the conversation but you will get a good look at donuts we bought and hear the donut review.

01/16/15

Low fat pina colada breakfast parfaits

Half way through January and I’m still standing strong with my commitment to healthier and cleaner eating. Most importantly, it has begun to show on the scale and measuring tape results.  The numbers aren’t yet life-altering but it is certainly easier to stay the course when you are seeing your efforts pay off.

Next weekend, I’m going to be allowing myself a bit – okay a lot – of a cheat when I attend the La Cookie Con & Sweets Show in Pasadena.  With a name like Doughgasm you better believe that I won’t be denying myself the chance to sample all the cookies and other goodies that will be at the show.

On the run up to the Cookie Con, I’m going to be extra good at counting calories and saving some in the overflow bank for all the intended nibbling.  Hopefully, that will mean I can have the fun of the foodie event without feeling too much guilt about it when weigh-in day comes around.

Adding to my motivation, I’m going to continue posting the healthy recipes that I  made frequently when I was in the midst of my 100 pound weight loss. Hopefully, bringing some of them back can help me make that 101 pounds lost and downwards from there.

Brain training is the biggest part of the weight loss process for me. Eventually, the rest of my body will follow once my brain has finally gotten the message.  So much decision making in regards to what I eat comes down to how I look at the choices before me.

These low fat pina colada breakfast parfaits are a good example. Really they are just yogurt, fruit and nuts in a bowl. Something which we all know to be good for us but may not feel as alluring first thing in the morning as that glistening croissant winking at you from behind the glass at Starbucks.

Start thing of it as something fancy like a pina colada and then suddenly it is more like a treat and not only could it be a breakfast dish but perhaps something your brain may also accept as a low fat dessert recipe. If you did want to go that path you could try subbing out the yogurt for fat free frozen yogurt for a similar but different experience.

Best of all, they could probably be prepared in less time than it takes to stand in that morning Starbucks line.

This recipe is for two servings of the pina colada breakfast parfaits so you will need to have two serving glasses or bowls to hand. Don’t worry if you are flying solo on this one though because it is easy to halve the recipe and it just means you have the ingredients to make it again the next day.

Low Fat Pina Colada Breakfast Parfaits

Low Fat Pina Colada Breakfat Parfaits Recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fat-free vanilla yogurt
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2/3 cup banana, chopped
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, from a can, well drained
4 tablespoons flaked almonds, freshly toasted

Directions:

1. Put the yogurt into a bowl and stir in the coconut extract. Set aside.

2. Divide 1/3 of the yogurt between two parfait sized glasses.

3. Put half the the pineapple, then banana on top of the yogurt and then sprinkle with half of the toasted almonds.

4. Top that layer with another third of the yogurt, the rest of the fruit, the final third of the yoghurt and finally top with the remaining toasted almonds.

 

01/1/15

Accidentally Vegan Cardamom Macadamia Nut Pancakes

My attempts to focus on healthier eating are going pretty well. Life hasn’t been entirely void of treats but they’ve been few and far between and the rest of the time has been sticking to calorie counts consisting largely of fruits,vegetables and healthy proteins.

It’s easier to stay on track when I am cooking for myself rather than eating out. Not always the easiest thing in Los Angeles because there are so many foodie temptations here. However,as long as I have some quick but satisfying recipes to hand I can usually manage to make the right choice.

I’ve found myself reaching back to recipes that became fixtures during my previous weight loss success. This pancake recipe is one that I came up with several years back when I was living in London and was at the height of my weight loss. It was one of those mornings where I was super hungry but had barely anything in the house. Since I was taking the whole healthy eating kick thing super seriously what I did have were things like soy milk and nut oils.

What resulted where these really yummy cardamom macadamia nut pancakes which just so happen to also be vegan pancakes.  It’s one of those recipes that is a jumping of point where you can switch up the ingredients any number of ways to either suit what you have to hand or to try out new flavor profiles. As long as you have a milk, an oil and a spice, it should work.

Of course, you could take it out of the vegan category and use cow’s milk. I’m probably going to experiment more in the other direction and see which other non-dairy milks I can use. I have little doubt that almond milk would work just fine. Coconut milk would be an interesting experiment. Particularly,with the macadamia nut oil notes.

I like to top these off with some fruit,I grew particularly fond of adding slices of grilled bananas, and then drizzling with honey.  It feels like you are eating something special but with barely any fat in the recipe. That’s a win win in my world.

Cardamom Macadamia Nut Pancakes

cardamon pancakes

 

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup soy milk

1 tablespoon macadamia nut oil

Directions:

1. Mix the dry ingredients together into a large bowl and combine well.

2. Add the soy milk and the macadamia nut oil and stir until thoroughly mixed. If you are finding your batter is just a bit too thick at this stage then add a bit more soy milk.

3. Heat a griddle or frying pan until it is hot enough to make pancakes. I usually drop a tiny bit of water onto it and if it instantly sizzles I consider it ready to be used.

4. Either spray with non-fat cooking spray or use a tiny bit of the macadamia nut oil and then start to drop the batter on the hot surface.

5. Leave each vegan pancake until bubbles have started to form on the pancake. Then flip over and cook for a minute or so on the other side. Watch carefully because they can very easily go from perfectly golden brown to burned and ruined.

6.  Put pancakes onto two plates, top with your choice of toppings. I’ve enjoyed them with a bit of honey or the traditional maple syrup path. Even better topped with grilled bananas.

 

12/25/14

Candy Cane Marshmallow Cocoa Dunkers

Merry Christmas! No doubt you’ve been baking and cooking all day.  Now is the time to kick back, put your feet up and give yourself the gift of a few hours of well-earned relaxation.

These candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers are a great to make your holiday ‘me’ time feel special with remarkably little effort. Especially since you don’t have to add anything extra to your grocery list for them.

Chances are that you are going to have some odds and ends left over from your holiday baking. I’m talking about that odd half cup of chocolate chips and those couple of lonely candy canes. Rather than dooming them to months of hanging out in the back of your cupboard, put them to use in these tasty candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers. All you need is a few big marshmallows (the kind you would toast over a campfire), some chocolate chips and a few candy canes.

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Start by breaking the last two inches off of each candy cane. Put the broken ends into a food processor or coffee grinder and blitz for a couple seconds until turned into fairly fine bits. I like to keep a few chunkier bits in the mix for texture and presentation. Empty the candy cane dust into a shallow bowl.

At this stage, use the remaining portion of the candy canes to create handles for the marshmallow cocoa dunkers. Simply push the broken end of the candy cane about halfway into the top of one of the marshmallows. That should be enough for to keep things in place.

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Melting the chocolate is the next step. You could do this over the stove but the quickest way is to do it in the microwave. Put the chips into a microwaveable dish and zap for 15 seconds at a time until melted. Make sure to stop and stir the chocolate between those 15 second intervals because chocolate can go from not done to overdone really quickly. Sometimes all it needs to be ready is the extra heat from a good stir through.

What chocolate you use is up to you and you can certainly mix it up or even try blends based on what you have to hand. I had dark chocolate chip so that is what I used for these candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers but milk chocolate or even white chocolate would work just fine.

Once the chocolate is melted, dip the ends of the marshmallow into the bowls and carefully move them around until they are coated. It may be helpful to use a small spoon to smooth out the chocolate coating. After that, liberally sprinkle the candy cane dust over the chocolate.

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That’s all it takes to make the candy cane marshmallow cocoa dunkers. You could chow down at this stage and enjoy them just fine as a chocolatey peppermint treat. That would be fine but it wouldn’t be going the full path to holiday treat relaxation. Nope, these babies should be dunked in a nice cup of rich hot chocolate.

Last night, I made myself a cup of Ghirardelli hot chocolate, using unsweetened vanilla almond milk and hooked one of the candy canes over the edge of the mug so that it and the attached marshmallow were adding all that extra pepperminty and marshmallowy goodness to the hot chocolate.

I loved that when I got to the bottom of the mug, there was just this one little bit of candy cane left that was waiting for permission to melt in my mouth. MMM.

Now go treat yourself!

12/16/14

Western Burgers and Garlic Fries at Rounds Premium Burgers

As American as apple pie. That is how the saying goes but it could probably be argued that said honor should rightfully belong to the hamburger. Wherever I have been in the world,it is the one dish which is universally associated with the United States. Fried chicken might be a distant second place.

When you stop and think about most other food we think of as quintessentially American though,most of it has its roots elsewhere. Pizza is clearly Italian. Hotdogs hint back to Germany and anywhere else that served sausage with bread. Even the hamburger’s best buddy the French fry has its roots in Belgium and France.

Hamburgers,however,are about as American as it gets.

Good then to see that we’ve started to take pride in our culinary heritage by demanding more from our fast food hamburgers than a microwaved patty of questionable origin. From Five Guys to Umami Burger and The Counter, higher quality burger experiences are now available across a spectrum of price points. Some of which aren’t too far removed from the drive through giants.

Particularly true in the Los Angeles area where you could eat at a different high end burger joint every night of the week and still not scratched them all off your foodie bucket list.

As with all things,some gourmet burger places in Los Angeles are better than others. Finding somewhere that cooks the burger just the way you like it is part of the battle .  From there, it comes down to who does the combination of burger toppings that has you coming back for more.

For the past year or so, that place for us has been Rounds Premium Burgers. Chris was seduced by a spot we saw done on them during a show on The Cooking Channel because the burger they were highlighting – The Western – was a burger without cheese.

He doesn’t eat cheese and so he has either had to avoid most featured burgers on menus or ask to have the cheese left off. Nobody has ever refused to do that but if the flavors were built with cheese as one of the ingredients then he isn’t really getting the experience the chef had intended.

We headed on over to give the Western Burger from Rounds Premium Burger a try and found it to be delicious. The beef patty was cooked to order (medium in our case),dressed with barbecue sauce,bacon and crispy onion strings.

western burger

Juicy beef and crispy bacon strips worked together to make the Western Burger a particularly succulent burger. I was a bit unsure about the onion strings because of my life long hatred of raw onions. Cooked onions are good but I straight out hate raw onions and onion rings can be raw onion roulette. If cooked properly they are great but often enough the onion is just the wrong side of raw. Rounds Premium Burgers got it just right. The onion strings were crispy on the outside and had the texture and taste of a grilled onion on the inside. All of it was brought together but a rich barbecue sauce that relies on tang rather than heat to wake the taste buds.

Since that first visit, we have been back to to Rounds Premium Burgers a bunch of times. More often than not, we end up at their West Hollywood branch but lately we’ve gone to the Pasadena one. While the Pasadena branch certainly has a better parking situation, I have to take a moment to say that what really make the WeHo location special is the service.

We have had the same two members of counter staff serve us each time that we have gone and we have never failed to be impressed with their friendliness and quality of service. On our second visit, we were truly impressed that the gent behind the counter not only remembered us but knew our past order as soon as we walked in. The owners of the WeHo branch should make efforts to hang onto their staff because they are something special.

Over our visits, Chris has remained a devotee to the Western Burger whilst I have made my way through their premium burgers menu. The most unique of which has been the PB&J which is topped with caramelized onions, bacon and peanut butter and jelly. Yup, I said peanut butter and jelly on a burger. It was super messy to eat but it worked a lot better than I would have thought. Perhaps they could use the peanut butter to develop some sort of satay sauce for a new burger. I’d be sure to try that.

Apart from their set menu, Rounds Premium Burgers also has a build your own burger option. On recent visits, I’ve been playing around with that.

rounds premium burger

My latest combination was the burger in the above photo which was made up of a beef patty, mild cheddar, sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions and a garlic aioli. Nom nom!

garlic fries

I’d feel like I was doing Rounds Premium Burgers a disservice if I didn’t mention their garlic fries. They are super good and not at all for somebody who is even the slightest bit worried about getting garlic breath. Just take a look at them and the chunks of real garlic that is piled on top. My tip is to eat them hot. They are still good when they cool down but hot and fresh out of the fryer is how they are meant to be enjoyed. You will need some strong breath mints afterwards but it is worth it for those crispy garlic fries.

 

12/12/14

Quick Fix Avacado Toast With Poached Egg

Given that my birthday is merely a few days away and that Christmas is right around the corner,I am probably setting myself up for a challenge but I am going to be making an effort to focus on healthier eating. No danger exists of me giving up trips to the cupcake shop or enjoying some kick arse BBQ now and then. It just doesn’t hurt to be good to your body the rest of the time.

Nearly four years ago now, I lost about 100 pounds and  kept most of it off since. Lately though, a few of those pounds have been threatening to return. I’m  a big girl and have no hangups about it but I’d still like to strive to maintain what I worked so diligently to accomplish.

In between planning the Christmas cookie list and researching baked ham recipes, finding the time to plan out a week of healthy meals can be difficult.  Frequently, I’ve found myself falling back on some quick fix healthy recipes that I’ve kept in my back pocket throughout my health improvement journey (doesn’t that sound less judgmental that weight loss journey?).

This avocado toast recipe really couldn’t be much easier.  Yet, it is packed full of those healthy Omega 3 fats from the avocado and the protein of the egg.  Pile it all on some good whole grain bread and you’re treating your body to fiber too. Speaking of the egg, if you think a creamy yolk tastes good, just wait until you experience the lusciousness as that silky golden goodness soaks into the layer of avocado. Scrumptious and a great quick fix breakfast recipe!

 

Avocado toast with poached egg

avacado toast with poached egg

Ingredients:

1 slice whole grain bread
1/2 of an avocado
1/2 teaspoon garlic infused white wine vinegar or white wine vinegar and 1/2 clove crushed garlic
1 poached egg

Directions:

1. Put the bread into toast.
2. Meanwhile, scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl.
3. Add in the garlic vinegar and mash until it is roughly mashed and everything is combined.
4. Spread the avocado mixture on top of the toast.
5. Place the poached egg on top and enjoy.

Serves: 1

 

12/9/14

Did I just find the best cupcake in Pasadena?

As of late, we have been spending a good amount of time in Pasadena. Of all the places we have been so far in the Los Angeles area,Pasadena feels the most ‘us’. Perhaps one day we will set up home there but for now we are having fun exploring. With me around, that is always going to include checking out the foodie scene.

Happily, I can report that Pasadena has a very healthy foodie scene indeed. Putting aside the plethora of independent food spots, the town has its own outposts of Dupars, Rounds Premium Burgers and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Factor in the inclusion an Arclight movie theater and just about everything that I have come to enjoy in LA is within a few well-manicured blocks of one another.  Oh and Old Pasadena alone has a British pub (though really it is a wannabe style place but I’ll take it) and at least three Indian places that I counted.  So, yeah,I could probably be happy in Pasadena.

By the standards of a foodie, no town can be given a proper thumbs up without the availability of decent cupcakes.  Really. I’m not sure I trust somebody that would turn their nose up to a good cupcake. To be fair though, cupcakes are a bit of a thing for me. It isn’t an accident that a cupcake ended up in the hand of the Doughgasm girlie. So, maybe others don’t give them such prominence in their foodie rating system but I do and that meant checking out the cupcakes of Pasadena.

In the Summer, I dragged Chris to a food truck event at the Rose Bowl. It is one of those events where you pay a hefty price to get in but then you are able to sample from all of the vendors once you are inside. I’m a bit of a sucker for them and this one and the LA Weekly event in the Spring are the two I make a point of attending. Each year, I discover a bunch of places that we then go visit throughout the rest of the year.  Already since this year’s LA food truck event we have become regulars at Short Order and Salt & Straw (how have I note done an entry about them yet?!?)  purely off the back of having tried their samples at the event.

Now we can add ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake to that list. At the food truck event, Chris was particularly taken with their Brown Butter Bacon cookie. I think it may have been one of only a few dishes that drew him back for a second helping. On my part, I was just happy to be trying a cupcake from a bakery that had won on Cupcake Wars.

Purely by accident, we found ourselves driving by their storefront on our first day out in Pasadena. For a moment we considered exercising restraint but then we regained our senses and headed in to check out what ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cakes had to offer.

Chocolate cake is a good benchmark of the quality of a cupcake place for me. Remarkably few get it right. Lack of a real chocolate taste or moisture are the most frequent casualties. So, on our first visit to ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake, I gave their Black + White cupcake a try.  My thumbs went up as soon as I tasted the dark chocolate cake. It was super moist and I could taste the chocolate. Which, if you are going to say something is dark chocolate is a requirement. Also pleasing was the creamy vanilla frosting. It was light and fluffy with just the right level of sweetness to contract the dark chocolate.

Chris went all out chocolate and had their Chocolate + Chocolate cupcake. It certainly looked delightful and from his reports it was every bit as tasty as my cupcake.

Cool, I thought. We found a cupcake place we like and we can go back to now and then. Now and then has turned into most weekends for the past month. At this stage it may all be bordering on an addiction. Doughgasms  have a tendency to be habit forming. Understandable when each time we’ve gone to ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake the cupcake I’ve had has been even better than the previous offering.

Much of the enjoyment for me is the creativity shown in their menu. I’ve never seen much point to having a vast cupcake menu if most of them never see the light of day. For the most part that leaves you with the same red velvet and yellow cake with chocolate frosting cupcakes that is on everybody’s menu. ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake has those too but each time there has  also been something truly different to tickle my taste buds.

Deciding to try the Nutella Supreme cupcake was a bit of a ‘duh’. The base vanilla bean cupcake was ultra moist and of overall high quality.

Nutella Supreme Cupcake

Looking at the frosting on the Nutella cupcake, I made the assumption that it would have been a hard set frosting. Most likely, that illusion was created by the liberal scattering of hazelnut chunks. I was pleasingly surprised when I bit into the cupcake to find that the chocolate-hazelnut frosting was actually a super light whipped frosting. Both the taste and the consistency created by the pairing of the frosting with sizable chopped hazelnuts resulted in a sensation reminiscent of of a Ferrero Rocher. Rarely a bad thing.

Next up on the ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake adventures was the Chocolate Bacon Caramel cupcake.  I was skeptical. The whole bacon in baked goods thing has been pretty well played out now. To the point where I’ve nearly forgotten that I rather like bacon. Kind of like when you like a song but you’ve heard it too many times that it has become more of an annoyance than entertainment.  Salted Caramel is also something that tends to make me a doubter because it is one of my favorite flavor profiles but there are so many lackluster salted caramel offerings from shops that think you just need to chuck a bit of sea salt on something for it to qualify.

My doubts were completely unjustified. The chocolate bacon caramel cupcakes were amazingly good. Letting the ingredients do the talking was the trick. The moist dark chocolate cupcake had a rich chocolate taste, the fudge frosting was dense enough to hold up to the caramel and bacon topping but light enough to not dominate.

The caramel and bacon were so buttery and yummy that I probably would have licked the excess caramel off of the paper if we hadn’t been eating it on a public street. That’s how a fat girl ends up a Vine meme!

It will take some doing for another cupcake shop to make a bacon cupcake that I enjoy more than I enjoyed the Chocolate Bacon Caramel cupcake from ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake.

As great as those cupcakes have been though, this weekend’s visit to ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake I had the best cupcake I have had in a very long time.  Even better, it was unlike any other cupcake I have had in my life. I’m talking about the Armaaan Baklava Cupcake.

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I mean look at this thing! Have you ever seen a cupcake with baklava on the top? If you have leave the name of the shop in the comments so I can try it out because if it is anything like this baklava cupcake then it is something special.

From Chris’s account, I pulled a true Doughgasm face when I bit into the baklava cupcake for the first time. I couldn’t help it. There were simply so many sensations going on in one bite.

The baklava nest on top had a satisfying crunch which pushed down onto what I thought was the frosting. It turned out that it wasn’t frosting at all but instead it was a vanilla whipped cream. Delicate in texture but beautifully flavored with specks of vanilla bean. All of that before we even get to the actual cupcake itself.

Baklava Cupcake

It was so good that I am practically drooling thinking about it again.

Rather than going for a generic vanilla cupcake, they went all out and used a honey-almond cake. As with all of the cupcakes I have had from ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake, it was incredibly moist. Honey notes certainly came through but what really made the cake outstanding was the flavor of crystallized ginger that pulled everything together and delivered a touch of heat.

Truly one of the best cupcakes I have ever had. If the trend continues and the next cupcake I have from ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake is better than the Armaaan Baklava Cupcake then I might have to start up a Doughgasm award just so that I can send  it to them!

If your need for food porn hasn’t been satisfied by the abundance of cupcake photos, check out the video I put together of our various visits to ConfeXion Cupcakes + Cake in Pasadena. You might want to get a tissue ready to clean the drool off your keyboard afterwards.

 

11/26/14

Roast Beef Sandwiches at Top Round Roast Beef

Between the premium burgers, artisanal hotdogs and handcrafted sodas, Los Angeles has become the land of elevated fast food.  So, maybe I should be surprised that there aren’t more places fixing to take on Arby’s style roast beef sandwich.

I’m not quite sure what happened to Arby’s place in the American fast food market. Throughout my childhood they were mentioned alongside McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. In my part of Pennsylvania you would have also had to add Hardee’s and Roy Rogers (do they still exist?) to the list but Arby’s was most definitely there.  Then I moved to Europe and when I returned to live in the States they had shifted to being the the butt of jokes from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

A  bit of a shame since it is difficult to argue with the fundamental concept of roast beef between bread.

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We were both craving meat on Sunday. One of those cravings where you know you want something but not exactly what that something might be. We just knew that it had to be something with meaty juiciness to satisfy carnivorous urges.

Top Round Roast Beef (1000 S. La Brea Ave.) has been on our radar for a couple months. The nostalgic burger stand vibe caught our eye.  Signs pushing their roast beef and frozen custard offerings certainly didn’t hurt. Since we couldn’t come up with any other definitive solutions to our craving we decided to take our chances with them.

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Top Round Roast Beef doesn’t have a vast menu. More like a list of variations on a few base recipes. Which, to me can work in the favor of a restaurant if they really focus and get those base recipes right. After all, what are most pizza places than a basic cheese pizza that they then mix up through different combinations of toppings.

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In the case of Top Round Roast Beef, they do have hot dogs and chicken but the majority of the majority of the menu is made up of roast beef sandwiches and fries. Each of the roast beef sandwiches starts with seasoned slow cooked roast beef and au jus on a butter toasted bun.

From there it is a matter of selecting what else you want on the sandwich. If you want something  basic there is the Beef & Cheese which is the roast beef, homemade cheese ‘wizz’ and round sauce (think Arby’s Sauce) on an onion bun. More adventurous offerings include the Bar-B-Cue which is the only sandwich where the roast beef is chopped rather than sliced. It’s then topped with fried onions, jalapeno straws, their Bar-B-Cue sauce and  Provel cheese on the onion bun.

I was tempted by that one but the jalapenos resulted in my spicy heat wimp tendencies giving it the veto. Instead,I went for the Horse & Hole sandwich.  It is made up of the sliced roast beef, Provel cheese, horseradish cream and  roasted mushrooms on a sesame bun.  I don’t know why I can’t do spicy heat but that I enjoy horseradish and mustard intensity. Go figure.

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Chris- he had the Original Roast Beef without any toppings – and I had the same reaction when we bit into our sandwiches. Which boiled down to – wow, it is actual roast beef. I’m not sure what we were expecting. Likely we were weighing it up against the thin slices that are piled onto an Arby’s sandwich. Instead, this was juicy pink roast beef sliced to a medium thickness. Just what our taste buds had been craving.

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A big thumbs up for Top Round Roast Beef’s  Horse & Hole sandwich. I loved the taste and mouth feel of the smooth melty cheese combining with the earthy flavors of the mushrooms. Any danger of blandness was blown away by the horseradish cream. Depending on the bite it delivered either a lovely taste bud tingle  or a sinus clear out.

At $7.95 it was obviously more than I would have paid at Arby’s but it isn’t outrageous for Los Angeles and it was vastly better than I have ever had from them.

Top Round Roast Beef Curly Fries

I would be slacking if I didn’t mention the curly fries that I ordered as my side. They were incredible. Which sounds a bit crazy because there wasn’t anything fancy going on.  They were just real potatoes spiraled out and lightly salted. What probably makes the difference is that they are fried in real beef fat. I ended up devouring most of the order before any of them came anywhere near ketchup. Crazy good!

We’ll certainly be back to Top Round Roast Beef. The challenge will be to save enough room so that we can try that frozen custard.

 

 

 

08/7/14

Chocolate Custard Shakes At Short Order

Never let it be said that bribery doesn’t work when it comes to putting bums on restaurant seats. We tasted dozens of delicious recipes at last month’s LA Street Food Fest but only one  participant gave us the chance to try a free signature menu item if we visited their restaurant.

Short Order’s location at the Original Farmer’s Market next to The Grove has made it hard to miss. The final push that I needed to check them out came when they gave us tokens for a free custard milkshake just for visiting their booth. Custard? Milkshake? Yeah, that was happening.

Off we went, token in hand, to have brunch at Short Order. At first, it wasn’t looking especially promising as we waited patiently for a member of staff to notice us so that we could be seated. I’d blame it on them being super busy but there were only two other customers in the restaurant.

Short Order Los Angeles

Eventually, we were seated and from there everything was on the up. Our waitress recognized the custard shake tokens and said she had been one of the people handing them out. Sometimes when I am using a coupon for a free item I feel judged. Maybe like I am trying to get away with something?  Instead she made us feel that we were doing her a favor by responding to their promotion and proving it would bring new customers to the restaurant. That it did.

Mason Jar Glass

Not that long ago, I was lamenting about the apparent lack of good milkshakes in Los Angeles. Clearly, that was before I had tried the chocolate custard milkshake at Short Order.

For some reason, I had my camera set to black and white for the first few shots that I took during our meal at Short Order but even in those tones you can admire the perfect thickness of the shake.

Custard Milkshake

Thick enough that a straw can stand straight up in the chocolatey goodness but not so impossibly thick that you can’t drink it with the straw. In this case, it needed to be a super wide straw that was needed but that’s all the better.

Soon enough,I noticed that I had the wrong camera setting and switched over to color so that I could show you the shake in its full glory. Isn;t that toasty brown color inviting? The chocolate used to make the custard milkshakes is a rich tasting and not overly sweet. I’m a dark chocolate type of gal so that was spot on for my tastebuds.

Short Order Chocolate Custard Milkshake

We both agreed that it wouldn’t the the last time we had a custard milkshake at Short Order. There is a vanilla variety on the menu and I’ll probably try to to make myself try that but it is going to be difficult to bypass the chocolate.

Chocolate Custard Milkshake

The food we had alongside our milkshakes was also good. We both had the corned beef hash. It felt appropriate to have a breakfast-ish dish at brunch. Presented nicely in individual cast iron dishes, the Short Order corned beef hash was a step above normal greasy spoon hash.

Short Order Corned Beef Hash

The meat was a high quality corned beef brisket. The sort that has a nice chew and just enough bits of delicious fat in the mix to make the corned beef even more delicious. The rest of the dish consisted of cubed potatoes, caramelized onions, tomatoes and charred romain lettuce. Of course, no corned beef hash would be complete without a fried egg on top.

Fried Egg On Corned Beef Hash

I posted a short video on Instagram of the moment I broke the yolk on that fried egg. There is something sexy about watching that golden yolk  slowly spread over the hash that borders on sexy. Don’t you think?

06/7/14

Buttermilk Pancakes at Du-par’s

I have been craving pancakes for weeks. Whenever I ask somebody (or Google) for the best pancakes in Los Angeles, Du-Par’s on Third and Fairfax is always on the list. This morning,we finally went over to the Farmer’s Market to try them out.

This was a time where the experience of a dish lived up to the hype. The Cliff Notes version of my review is – yummy!

I ordered the short stack blue plate special. Which, was three large buttermilk pancakes and two slices of crispy bacon.

Du-par's short stack

Until today, I had never seen pancakes served with a side of melted butter. What a great way to get that super indulgent fluffy pancake breakfast experience. Fluffy may be a bit of an understatement for Du-par’s buttermilk pancakes. Essentially, they were pancake pillows with dimples placed throughout so that the melted butter and maple syrup could soak all the way into the pancake.

Du-par's panckaes

They were the first pancakes I have had in a long time where I could actually taste the butter part of the buttermilk in the batter. So far, the Du-par buttermilk pancakes are without a doubt the best pancakes I have had in Los Angeles.

Maybe I should just let my finished plate be my review.

Du-par's blue plate

I’ve put together a short video of our visit to Du-par’s to show you just how fluffy those pancakes were this morning.