Potato Chip Cookies
Okay, this is actually my mom’s recipe, which she adapted from a couple she found in a cookie book and a magazine. They are my favorite cookies she’s ever made, and my mom is the queen of cookies. I think butterscotch chips are underutilized and they pair so perfectly with the saltiness of the potato chips!
Halekulani Resort, Waikiki
The Halekulani Resort in Waikiki is known for its impeccable service and luxurious amenities. Travel + Leisure magazine recently rated it as one of the best hotels in the United States. Rates hover around $400/night, so staying here for our 6 nights in Hawaii was out of the question, but we still made time to spend a few afternoons here, drinking afternoon tea and watching the sunset at House Without a Key.
The basic afternoon tea service on their veranda was reasonably priced at $32 per person. Good scones and devonshire cream are hard to come by in the U.S. and the selection at the Halekulani did not disappoint. Guests can choose from sixteen different teas, including a few with Hawaiian flavor profiles (think earl grey with Maui lavender and pineapple coconut rooibos with mango).
Served daily from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dress code is “informal resort attire”
We’ve been without a car for about a week now due to a car accident, which kept me from doing my weekly grocery run and forced me to use up whatever we had in the kitchen. I had three avocados that were begging to be used. I usually throw in a salad, a sandwich, or a quesadilla. Unfortunately, I had no greens, bread, or tortillas, so I had to get a little creative. This pasta is really easy! It should take no more than 15-20 minutes from start to finish. I think this would be even better with a bit of pancetta or bacon.
2 servings of pasta. I used a high protein spaghetti.
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/4 lemon or lime
Cheese (I used pecorino)
Extras: I used sauteed mushrooms and threw on a runny egg for protein and extra fatty deliciousness
1. Cook pasta
2. While the pasta is boiling, blend together the avocado, garlic, lemon and oil, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Sautee sliced mushrooms in olive oil
4. Drain pasta, throw in pan with mushrooms and fold in the avocado sauce.
5. Plate the pasta, grate fresh cheese on top. Add an egg if you wish.
Horchata is a traditional Mexican beverage made with rice, vanilla, and cinnamon. Growing up so close to the U.S./Mexico border allowed me to familiarize myself with agua frescas at local taco shops, with horchata and jamaica being my favorite. Horchata is not that difficult to find in San Diego, and many taco shops have it as a fountain drink option. Of course, horchata made from scratch tastes infinitely better than the artificial flavoring from a fountain drink. I decided to try my hand at it after having some delicious horchata flavored shave ice in Hawaii last week.
5 cups water
1 cup uncooked white rice
1/3 cup sugar (This can be adjusted to taste. I don’t like my drinks too sweet.)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (optional)
1. Pulverize the rice in a coffee grinder or food processor. I had to do mine in several small batches in my coffee grinder because I do not have a food processor. Some recipes specify blending the rice and water in a blender, so you can try that if you like.
2. Combine the powdered rice and water in a pitcher. Throw in the cinnamon stick. Mix it up and let it sit for at least three hours, the longer the better. Stir it every once in a while.
3. Strain the rice particles from the liquid. The water should be very cloudy now. Keep the cinnamon stick in the liquid if you used one.
4. Stir in the vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon. If you’d prefer it to be a bit creamier, add the milk. The water must be stirred very well to ensure that the cinnamon doesn’t just clump together at the top. Chill and serve over ice!
Sheng Jian Bao (Pan-fried pork dumplings)
Yang’s Fry Dumpling, Shanghai, China
These are the best dumplings we’ve ever had. We’re not Chinese, so maybe that statement doesn’t hold that much weight, but we still talk about these dumplings nearly six months after our trip to China. Sheng jian bao are pan fried mini pork buns that are filled with gelatinized broth, like the more famous xiao long bao. I love these because the outside is a little crispy then the broth literally explodes in your mouth. They are much larger than XLB and much more durable/portable. This box of four set us back a whopping 6 RMB, which comes to just under $1.
Yang’s Fry Dumpling
The Tractor Room, San Diego, CA
The Tractor Room is known for their use of unconventional meat. Can you name another brunch spot where people regularly order the boar and buffalo? This quesadilla is stuffed with braised buffalo meat, scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar and tomato. It’s placed over a bed of crispy potatoes then drizzled with a sauce made from reduced veal stock and cream.
The Tractor Room
Brunch served on weekends only. Reservations by phone.
Fried Chicken Benedict
The Tractor Room, San Diego, CA
The Tractor Room is my favorite place for weekend brunch in San Diego. It’s owned by the same people from the famous Hash House A Go Go, but I prefer this place over Hash House any day. This “Andy’s House Sage Fried Chicken Benedict” served on a split biscuit with spinach, smoked bacon, tomato, mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs placed over a bed of skillet potatoes. It’s definitely not a traditional benedict for those purists, but how could I ever say no to a biscuit, fried chicken, eggs and cheese? The fried chicken had a very crispy exterior with juicy meat and the biscuit was fluffy and flaky.
The portions here are out of control. One dish can easily serve three people.
The Tractor Room
Brunch is served on weekends only. Reservations by phone.
Tender Greens, San Diego, CA
Tender Greens is a chain of casual organic eateries with 12 locations in California. While known for their salads and sandwiches, I also think they make great desserts. This is a seasonal strawberry shortcake made with a scone, freshly whipped cream and strawberries sprinkled with some sort of citrus.
Locations are mostly in Southern California but there is one location in the Bay Area in Walnut Creek.
Flashback to Jenn’s European adventure in 2011!
There is a small street in the Ortakoy neighborhood in Istanbul where you can buy a waffle with customizable toppings. Here, I chose nutella, strawberry icing, strawberries, chestnuts, pistachios, and sprinkles. This area is also known for kumpir, also known as “jacket potatoes” that follow the same concept.
Twice-cooked Pork Belly Bun
This recipe is loosely based on the momofuku pork bun by David Chang. It’s pretty easy, but you need a lot of time to prepare because the pork brines for at least 12 hours then roasts for another three.
For the pork:
2.5 pounds skinless pork belly, plus 4 cups water, 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar for brine
1/2 cup chicken broth
One package plain clamshell buns (I purchased a package of 12 at my local Asian grocer for $2.99. Well worth not having the hassle of making these from scratch!)
Quick pickled cucumber
1. Stick the pork belly in a gallon size zip lock bag. Mix the water, sugar and salt together in a separate container then pour into the bag o’ pork. Stick that bag in the fridge and leave it be for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place pork fat side up in a baking dish that fits the meat snugly, like a 8x8 or maybe even a loaf pan. Pour in half a cup of water and that half cup of chicken broth. Cover the pan tightly with foil and roast the pork until tender, which should be around 2.5 hours.
3. Remove the foil, crank up the heat to 450 degrees and let the fat bubble and turn into a golden color. Then take the meat out and let it cool for a while on the stove. Once cooled, slice it against the grain into pieces small enough to stuff into your buns.
4. At this point, you could use the meat as-is, or you can do this extra step that I think makes the pork belly even better. Take two forks and pull the meat apart, shredding it all into even smaller pieces. Take the shredded pork and pan fry it for a few minutes in a hot skillet. No oil needed, as the pork is already fatty and greasy enough. The bits of pork should crisp up a little. We’re basically making pork belly carnitas here.
5. Make the quick pickled cucumbers by mixing cucumber slices with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to salt. This can be adjusted to taste. The cucumbers need to sit for at least 20 minutes, so plan accordingly.
6. Steam your buns in the microwave for 2 minutes or on the stove for 15-20 minutes. This step can be done before you shred and cook the meat a second time. Up to you. Keep in mind that after about an hour or two the buns lose a lot of their fluffiness.
7. Stuff those fluffy clam shells with the twice-cooked pork belly, cucumbers, green onion, hoisin sauce and sriracha.
Birthday cake macaron
Bouchon Bakery, Yountville, CA
I’m a little particular when it comes to Parisian macarons, especially with all the recent hype they’ve received and the subsequent poor quality versions that are popping up everywhere. We make an effort to drop by Bouchon Bakery any time we’re in Wine Country for some fancy desserts to nosh on once we’re home, and their macarons are very good. My favorite flavor is vanilla, but I couldn’t resist this birthday cake version.