Monthly Archive for May, 2008

The Birthday Tour

Unfortunately I had to go on the road during the week of my birthday this year. But, as luck would have it, we overnighted in Monterey, California on the eve of my day. I wanted to eat a special meal on my birthday so we went to a place I tried last year where I ate some great seafood and drank some great California wine – Monterey’s Fish House!

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Fish House exterior and interior

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more interior shots; the menu

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Hama Hama oysters; scallops, scampi style

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close-up of scallops; wine of the evening; Sal, our bartender

If you enlarge the picture of the exterior you may notice the police tape on the hand rail in front. I’m assuming someone overdosed on the delicious seafood and wine, then crashed through the railing on their way out (ha, ha)! If I lived in Monterey or in the vicinity, this would soon become one of my restaurant hangouts. Nothing fancy, just damn fine food and wine at a reasonable price; friendly, knowledgeable staff and a laid back atmosphere – definitely my kind of place! They serve some of the biggest oysters I’ve ever seen – Hama Hama oysters from the deep water pacific caught off the shores of Lilliwaup, Washington. For dinner I had the scallops, scampi style which consisted of about a dozen sea scallops perfectly seared then served over fettucini w/ a sauce of fresh garlic, white wine, butter, green onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. Divine!! I broke the rules by having w/ the scallops one of my favorite red grape varietals, Zinfandel. California produces some of the best, so I chose the Boeger 2006 Walker Vineyard Zinfandel from El Dorado, California. Usually I have room for dessert, but not tonight!

 If you happen to find yourself in Monterey, I highly recommend you give Monterey’s Fish House a try!! If Sal’s tending to the bar, tell him Bruno sent you :-)

A votre sante’!

Bruno

Cheesecake Lollipops

daring-bakers.jpg Daring Bakers challenge for April hosted by Elle at Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah at Taste and Tell.

 I’m finally getting this posted after being delayed by blog hackers. My blog is still not working completely (the text on this and many previous posts has weird symbols showing up, and the photos on previous posts cannot be enlarged by clicking). At least I can post my photos again!

I love Ovaltine, so I coated some of the pops w/ the stuff to satisfy my craving, and coated the rest w/ chopped hazelnuts and pistachios. The last time I craved Ovaltine was when I was lost overnight in a redwood forest in northern California, but that’s a whole other story… (if you’re interested in what I ate while lost click here). Before I digress too much, let me get back to the lollipops.

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Cheesecake Lollipops (makes 30 – 40 lollipops)

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup heavy cream

Boiling water as needed

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks

 Ganache:

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped)

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspooon cayenne pepper

Place chocolate in a mixing bowl w/ cayenne. Place cream in a pot and bring to a simmer. Pour hot cream over chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Toppings:

1/2 cup unsalted pistachios (finely chopped)

1/2 cup hazelnuts (finely chopped)

1/4 cup Ovaltine

 Procedure:

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

Dip lollipops in ganache then roll in toppings.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Baker’s notes:

Add 1/4  teaspoon more cayenne to ganache next time (if there is a next time!).

I found the scooping and shaping of the cheesecake into round lollipops very difficult and frustrating so I probably won’t make this recipe again despite getting many compliments at my friends’ party where they were devoured.

The cheesecake had a very nice flavor (not too sweet and a nice texture too!).

It took 75 minutes for my cake to be baked until firm and golden brown on top.

See ya next time (hopefully!)…

Bruno