October 2015 in food

This was both a slow food month (I didn’t make very many recipes that particularly “wowed” me) and also a very exciting food month (went to New Saigon and The Kitchen!). It feels like for a lot of my lunches and dinners, I just made something quick and easy but not particularly glamorous — stuff like rice and lentils with cilantro, or rice and eggs with fish sauce. I’m hoping to do a little bit more cooking/baking of novel dishes and treats next month.

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custom pizza
restaurant: Pizza Rev
notes:  I got a free pizza coupon in the mail for Pizza Rev so I tried it out for lunch one day — I got a pizza with sausage, ricotta, red onions, mushrooms, artichokes, and basil. Overall it was quite good, and one of the tastier lunch options near work.

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green thai curry

notes: Made up this recipe. It wasn’t my fave, but it also wasn’t bad either. I think I’d like to work on my curry dishes… I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut with them. They’re fine, just a little lackluster.

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date bars

recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/classic-date-bars-109179
notes: Made these with gf flour and also subbed 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier in for the water when simmering the dates. These were very rich and sweet and delicious. I liked them so much, I made them again a few days later using a combination of dates and figs!  (used 2:1 / dates:figs)

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sausage hash 
notes: This is pretty similar to the other hashes I made last month — very delicious, but nothing earth shattering to them. I used spinach, potatoes, and fennel seeds.

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papa murphy’s pizza
restaurant: papa murphy’s
notes: I’d never eaten Papa Murphy’s before so we got this giant stuffed crust pizza. It was so much food — my hand is in the picture, for scale. Tasty for what it was, but made me soooo thirsty afterwards.

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beef combination plate

restaurant: New Saigon
notes: A very strong contender for the best new thing I’ve eaten in 2015! Kathy recommended this dish as a good one to get… I typically stick to the bun noodle bowls but really wanted to branch out this time. This dish was fantastic, flavorful, fresh, and the portion size was HUMONGOUS! 10/10 would order again.

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roasted baby beet bruschetta, pan seared wild salmon, and knickerbocker glory 

restaurant: The Kitchen
notes: I like the bruschetta quite a bit, but I always love grilled bread — Kyle found it a little too burnt tasting. Salmon was also nicely done. The knickerbocker glory was very impressive to look at, but I probably wouldn’t get it again because it is so incredibly creamy (it’s a layered sundae of ice cream, cream, strawberries, and meringues) and I prefer desserts that are not so dairy-heavy.

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czech-inspired meatballs with rice and vegetables
notes: Just a quick weeknight supper. There were actually quite a few weeknight suppers that I didn’t take pictures of this month… mostly because I didn’t really bother with plating it by the time I was done making it.

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dark chocolate cheesecake

recipe: From here and here
notes: Two or three years ago, I visited Andy and Ellen in West Chester, PA and in their fridge was this amazingly rich dark chocolate cheesecake that Ellen had made. I bookmarked the recipe and have been meaning to make it ever since, but cheesecake always feels like a bit of a daunting endeavor: it requires purchasing ingredients I don’t usually have on hand (cream cheese, graham crackers, heavy cream, etc.), and it makes a LOT of very rich dessert that I can’t easily finish on my own without a bellyache.

Modifications: I used chocolate graham crackers instead of chocolate wafer cookies. Baked at 250 degrees for about 45 minutes, panicked about the instructions and raised it to 350 degrees for the last 15 minutes, then turned off the oven and let it sit in the closed oven for an hour, as per the instructions from Ellen’s blog. I also added vanilla extract (2 tbsp) in the cheesecake filling, mostly to make it easier to blend in my food processor.

The cake turned out very dense and rich — it was more of a “death by chocolate” type of cake rather than a cheesecake; the tangy flavor of the cream cheese didn’t come through as much as in a regular cheesecake. It was very well-received at my office’s Halloween potluck and I won in the dessert category. Yay! 🙂 Overall, I’d make this recipe again if I wanted to make a crowd-pleaser, but it’s a little too single-note chocolatey and rich for my tastes — I’d prefer a plain cheesecake or a lemon cheesecake instead.

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Long weekend in Washington

Breakfast at Issaquah Cafe:

ENORMOUS cinnamon bun... hand in photo for scale

ENORMOUS cinnamon bun… hand in photo for scale

potato burrito

potato burrito with hash browns

Leavenworth, WA

down by the river

down by the river

goats in town putting up with pets in exchange for food

goats in town putting up with pets in exchange for food

giant smoked turkey leg at Oktoberfest... again, hand in photo for scale

giant smoked turkey leg at Oktoberfest… again, hand in photo for scale

Ellensburg, WA

hike up Manastash Ridge

hike up Manastash Ridge

the famed super burrito! (first trip of many to the burrito bus, aka Tacos Chalito)

the famed super burrito! (first trip of many to the burrito bus, aka Tacos Chalito)

home for the weekend

home for the weekend

beef salad at Sugar Thai

beef salad at Sugar Thai

we went shooting!! (our target setup)

we went shooting!! (our target setup)

I shot a rifle!!

I shot a rifle!!

super delicious steak dinner at home

super delicious steak dinner at home

beautiful fall scenery on the way to Umptanum Falls

beautiful fall colors on the way to Umptanum Falls

stopped here and didn't make it to the falls, but it was still a pretty hike

stopped here and didn’t make it to the falls, but it was still a pretty hike