Tag Archives: sweets

Let’s Catch Up Over Dessert

29 Aug

I'm cold in here.

I know. It’s been a while. And there is so much to talk about.

Last we spoke I was waxing nostalgic about care packages from Mom (easily worthy of several more posts). Since that time, a movement to legalize urban bee-keeping in L.A. has caught traction, Jonathan Gold has come out in defense of sharks and one enterprising South L.A. resident got to keep his urban garden going.

That, and I moved.

I’ve left the City of Angels and am now roaming the East Bay. I know, it’s a big change, I’m going to have to modify my subtitle and everything.

While Chewgooder has been nothing if not L.A.-centric, I’m determined to keep it going in a new foodshed. (I promise you’ll still find interesting information, Angelinos.)

In any case, moving is tough. And I’ve been drowning my sorrows in a pint (OK, pints) of Phish Food. It was my only comfort, that is until I got a nod from some fans. It seems that Vermont’s finest have a thing for me too, as evidenced by the above photo. The new “Brownie Chew Gooder” flavor from Ben and Jerry’s seems to be borrowing from ahem…a certain California food blogger.

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Have Sweet Tooth, Will Travel

30 Apr

I was 26 before I took my first trip outside the US. As (bad) luck would have it, I had the flu for nearly the entire excursion and didn’t get to try any new foods. As (good) luck would have it, L.A.’s vast collection of pocket ethnic neighborhoods more than makes up for my lack of a world-wide travel budget. This is the final post in the “talk desserty to me” series, so savor it.

My first and only international trip was to Israel, and while I didn’t get to try any luchon kugel there (Jewish noodle pudding), I can be sure that none of it would have beaten my mother’s version anyway (recipe below).

Israeli mall spice stand. Show me to the kugel, please.

If you are willing to risk the health of your heart for a good dessert, you ought to try this one. Buying farm-fresh organic eggs and butter from the market makes me feel less guilty (because the recipe calls for five eggs and a whole stick of butter, oh and cream cheese and 1/2 pint sour cream…you get the point). While the recipe uses canned peaches, you could substitute skinned and sliced fresh peaches when they are in season.

If egg noodles and dessert don’t say “match made in heaven” to you (then you haven’t tried it) then just go for some ice cream-with a twist. My first box of mochi was a gift from Mitsuwa, but since then I have become one of those people who know which Trader Joe’s stores carry which flavors. Mochi is basically a Japanese ice cream ball, covered in a chewy, gummy rice layer. Again, if you’re making a face, you haven’t tried it. It’s hand-held ice cream, now that’s genius. Mikawaya in Little Tokyo has a full selection for those of us who stand in the freezer section of TJ’s thinking, “Out of chocolate again?! I guess green tea in that case.” Mikawaya  has an array of mochi made with gelato centers as well. The flavors change but are as intriguing as plum wine or as ordinary as mint chip.

For sheer selection, it’s tough to beat Indian Sweets and Spices for slightly sweet, spicy treats. I just point to something behind the glass and I’m not usually disappointed. Plus, you can pay a visit to the Culver City farmers’ market before dessert, then you’ll feel more like you’ve earned it.

For more slightly spicy, always exotic sweet treats, I head to Tehran Market on Wilshire in Santa Monica. I was first hooked on the saffron rock candy. The rose jams are a little too sweet for even me, but I love the slightly sweet, rich and delicate little chickpea cookies and the gata (sweet bread). And seriously, if you haven’t heard-best fresh hummus in L.A.

Walnut cookies from Tehran Market

Before L.A., I lived in Miami for a few years, where I became acquanted with tres leches cake for the first time. I love soggy deserts so tres leches and I get along famously. I have yet to find the perfect slice of it here so I’ve been nagging various friends for their mom’s recipes. In the mean time, you can find a Kogi chocolate version of tres leches cake at The Alibi Room.

Lastly, if your dessert style leans all American, I again defer to my mom and her candied walnut apple pie. But, as with all my mom’s best desserts, you’ll still be putting the health of your heart on the line. But if you aren’t willing to risk some negative side effects for a good dessert, I question your commitment to the cause.

Ma Chewgooder’s Luchon Kugel

  • 1/2 pound medium egg noodles
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 pound cottage cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 pint sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Can of sliced peaches, drained well

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Cook noodles until al dente, drain and set aside.

-Grease a 9×11 inch pan and line bottom with peach slices.

-Whip together all ingredients except noodles.

-Add noodles and mix well.

-Cook for about 50 minutes making sure top doesn’t burn.

Sugar, Honey, Honey

23 Apr

Hello sweet talkers. Welcome to the party.

Welcome to the second ‘cake walk’ posting. I’d like to address the flood of recommendations I have received from you fellow bowl-lickers.

For this post, I want to focus on some great combinations: both classic and strange-but-tasty.

Could there ever be a better pair than peanut butter and jelly?  If you love your PB&J like an eight year old at recess, head over to Bite on Pico in Santa Monica and try their peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, but go early, they are still only open until 3pm on weekends (noon weekdays) as I eagerly await the roll out of their dinner menu. Bite even makes a homemade version of Nutella, and by the way, a late night sweets menu is in the works, so you’ll know where to find me.  I myself was always a PB and banana sandwich kid which led me to this brilliant discovery. My favorite banana cake recipe (from the Silver Palette; recipe below) works just as well with peanut butter frosting as with its assigned cream cheese frosting. If you dig the banana/peanut combination too, head to Buster’s, a South Pasadena hangout, to grab some frozen yogurt. They will mash bananas and peanut butter into the yogurt for you.

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Let Me Eat Cake

14 Apr

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. OK, sorry, that’s an understatement. I could eat maple syrup on, well, on nothing, just by itself. And I feel chocolate has a place at any meal. That’s right breakfast, I’m looking at you.

Hands off, kid. This has my name on it.

This is a good place to live when you are open to eclectic tastes and new flavors. A single average mini-mall here can provide you with papusas, lo mien, tamales, gefilte fish and probably some overpriced coffee too.  Just think of the possibilities for dessert that I have yet to discover.  When I asked friends to weigh in on their favorite bakery in L.A. I got a cake-load of responses, and even some heated arguments over whose auntie makes the best cakes (I’m undecided).  So I’m embarking on a new adventure to sample bakeries all over town. (Or your aunt’s, cousin’s or nanna’s baking, if that’s alright with you.)

This sounds much more enjoyable (and more fattening) than my last experiment — a month of veganism. Because you all seem to have strong opinions about your desserts, feel free to send me recommendations if you feel I am leaving out your favorite hidden gem but keep in mind, there’s only so much sugar and butter I can inhale. Oh who am I kidding? Bring on the cake!

PS-Also feel free to donate your personal trainer to help me recover from frosting overload.

The Boy is Back in Town

7 Apr

Mom's been busy

This is a recent photo of my parents’ fridge. It’s a sure sign that my brother Mike is home visiting from medical school. Each time Mike heads home, my good Jewish mama spends a full day or more cooking meals for him to bring back to school. A labor of love, and also a futile one, because most of the food is eaten pre-drive back to campus. As evidenced below in the photo taken only 12 hours following the above photo.

Mike's been busy

But not to worry, Mom later adds a whole brisket so no one will go hungry.

(and this is Mike already eating it)

Some of us learned to cook early on with our parents, but not all kids take any interest in the kitchen. Let’s use my brother as a case study. I’m going to venture that most young adults get into their first apartment or dorm room and think, “I should’ve asked mom how to boil water…”

My brother and I completed our undergraduate degrees together. My first trip to the local supermarket without my mom pretty much consisted of purchasing any healthy food that would fit in a dorm sized fridge or on a closet shelf. My brother on the other hand walked up to the deli counter and boldly ordered 10 pounds of sliced roast beef. I imagine there was a slight pause. And then the deli employee countered, “No.” They eventually reached a compromise at 5 pounds. I imagine Mike’s dorm fridge was bare with the exception of the meat. I also imagine he topped it with ranch dressing and ate it right out of the plastic wrap. And no folks, he did not gain a freshman 15. Life isn’t fair.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

5 Apr

It’s that time of year again. No, not the beginning of warm weather and swim suit season, Girl Scout Cookie season. Damn them for coinciding.

I've got your guilt-trip right here.

Why do I bring this up? Because I’m spending the week on a beach in Florida. And I spent the last three in my office eating Samoas and Thin Mints.

I was a Brownie myself once, up until the third grade. I learned many valuable life skills, like how to apply mascara (yes, really). After one weekend in the Florida wilderness at sleepaway camp getting eaten alive by mosquitos and reading Disney magazines, I decided scouting just wasn’t for me. Thus, I never received my Peddling Shortbread Cookies Outside of Best Buy for Hours Badge.

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A New Twist

8 Mar

Growing up by the beach in Florida, I think I consumed more soft-serve and rainbow sprinkles during the summer months than any other food (um…food product). I was heartbroken when our local TCBY and Carvel shuttered to make way for the smoothie craze (my first job was selling soft-serve Carvel at the ball park). You just can’t put toppings on a smoothie.  Oh, and also, I’ve tried Pinkberry, only once and that was enough.

I have a problem. I'll admit it.

So, I’m delighted that West L.A. is now home to my favorite new food fad: self-serve-soft-serve. These new yogurt places are better than the ones that I grew up with and here’s why. Continue reading

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