Author Archives: foodgal

Blackberry Oatmeal Cake

Wake up to "Blackberry Oatmeal Cake.''
Wake up to “Blackberry Oatmeal Cake.”

This is not a fluffy, lavishly adorned, and fancifully frosted cake you indulge in wickedly.

Rather, this is a cake that will stick to your ribs and set you up for a long, arduous day ahead.

Yes, “Blackberry Oatmeal Cake” is far from dessert, my friends. It is unapologetically breakfast through and through.

It’s austere and hearty, loaded with a ton of oats, a big handful of toasted pecans, a little strawberry jam for the merest sweetness, and fresh blackberries for summery goodness.

The recipe is from the wonderfully titled new cookbook, “Life Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Vallery Lomas, who knows a thing or two about the energy and sustenance it takes to forge ahead when the going’s not easy.

The Louisiana-native used to only bake for the holidays. But after taking a gap year in France after passing the bar exam, this lawyer found herself captivated by macarons. Who can blame her? So much so that when she returned to New York City to take her first job as an attorney, she somehow managed to set up a side business selling her own macarons, as well.

It wasn’t long before Lomas, who had begun the blog Foodie in New York during her last year of law school, started getting noticed. She was swayed to compete on “The Great American Baking Show,” and ended up not only triumphing, but became its first Black winner.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 36

The 3-piece Hat Yai Fried chicken at Roost & Roast.
The 3-piece Hat Yai Fried chicken at Roost & Roast.

Roost & Roast, Palo Alto

Southern fried chicken is a staple most everywhere. Korean fried chicken just had its big moment. Now, comes Thai fried chicken on the scene.

Roost & Roast opened in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village in June. Although there are a couple of outside tables, this tiny place with no inside seats is largely takeout.

Hat Yai Fried ($14) is probably the most popular dish with three pieces of Southern Thai-style fried chicken that come with a mound of rice strewn with deliciously crisp, fried onion and garlic slivers. Dusted in potato starch, the chicken, while at times cut into rather haphazard pieces, has a wonderfully crisp, airy exterior. There’s little to no seasoning on it, though, which is surprising. As a result, you may want to drizzle on the accompanying sweet chili sauce to boost the flavor. You better like sweet, though, because that’s the predominant taste of the sauce. However, you can also get a container of Sriracha to mix in to add more heat.

A generous portion of BBQ Chicken with rice.
A generous portion of BBQ Chicken with rice.

The BBQ Chicken ($14) was actually much more flavorful. The moist chicken tasted of rice wine, fish sauce and herbs. So much so that you really didn’t even need the accompanying sweet chili dipping sauce. It was a generous portion of chicken, too, piled over a foundation of white rice.

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Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Vinaigrette

Par-boiling before roasting results in deeply bronzed and crisp Romanesco halves.
Par-boiling before roasting results in deeply bronzed and crisp Romanesco halves.

It’s easy to be in awe of “Top Chef Canada” host Eden Grinshpan.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in London, she didn’t parlay that into a stint at any fancy restaurant. Instead, she went to volunteer at an orphanage in India, where she reopened a cafe to raise money and awareness about the children there.

Upon returning to New York, she co-created a Cooking Channel show, “Eden Eats,” which explored the global culinary scene. She even partnered for a spell on a fast-casual Middle Eastern cafe, DEZ, in New York.

This year, she debuted her first cookbook, “Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, that was written with Rachel Holtzman.

On top of all that, she also appears to have the most enviable collection of high-waist jeans around. Hey, just saying.

Of Israeli heritage, Grinshpan’s more than 100 recipes are colorful, playful, and accessible just like her personality. Middle Eastern cuisine as seen through her lens comes in such fun forms as “Sunchoke Hummus,” “Sesame Schnitzel Sandwich with Harissa Honey and Tartar Slaw,” “Sumac-Roasted Snapper with Lime Yogurt,” and “Salted Halvah Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

I can never resist crisp, charred veggies, so I zeroed in right away on “Roasted Romanesco with Pistachios and Fried Caper Sauce.”

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Get Ready for Hodo Adobo Mexican Crumbles

Tacos made not with meat -- but Hodo Adobo Mexican Crumbles.
Tacos made not with meat — but Hodo Adobo Mexican Crumbles.

You know a tofu product has got it going on when my husband, aka Meat Boy, will bite into a taco stuffed with it and not miss meat one iota.

Hodo Adobo Mexican Crumbles makes Taco Tuesdays even easier and more healthful.

It’s the newest product from Oakland’s Hodo, maker of artisan tofu products made with only organic soybeans, which I had a chance to sample recently.

The plant-based crumbles are like ground meat in texture with a warm, smoky, spicy taste from chipotle, ancho, cumin, and tomato paste.

Just sear in a pan, then spoon into griddled tortillas with salsa and your favorite fixings. Dinner is ready — just like that. The crumbles could also be used in taco salads, chili or enchiladas.

Find it at Whole Foods in the coming weeks.
Find it at Whole Foods in the coming weeks.

The 10-ounce package ($6.99) states that it makes 3.5 servings. I’d say that the crumbles will easily fill enough tacos for two hungry people. The entire container has 510 calories. Each serving has 13 grams of protein, 182 milligrams of calcium, and 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

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A Peanut Butter Cookie with Finesse

Peanut butter cookies dotted with dried cherries and cocktail peanuts.
Peanut butter cookies dotted with dried cherries and cocktail peanuts.

Peanut butter and bananas — of course!

Peanut butter and jelly — you bet.

But peanut butter and dried cherries?

I admit the combo gave me the briefest pause when I first considered this particular cookie recipe.

I had been on the hunt to find a recipe to use up a big handful of dried cherries I had around. I didn’t want the usual oatmeal-cherry cookie. Or the standard chocolate chip-cherry one. Or even the typical cherry shortbread.

Been there, baked those already.

Martha Stewart’s “Peanut Butter Cookies with Dried Cherries” offered a peanut butter cookie not only studded with dried cherries, but also salted cocktail peanuts.

It also offered up a pleasant contrast to the usual heavy and indulgent peanut butter cookie archetype. As my neighbor murmured between contented bites when I shared some with her, these are “less in your face.”

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