The Parlor Ice Cream Puffs – Sacramento

I drove up to see my friends Roxie and Jamie and they took me to The Parlor Ice Cream Puffs. They specialize in Ice Cream Puffs which is a scoop of their handcrafted ice cream, sealed inside a hot glazed donut.

I know, right!

Just the most awesome ice cream sandwich ever with the ice cream melting from the heat of the soft donut.

They have a good selection of ice cream, many with whimsical names like 50 Shades of Earl Gray Tea (tea infused honey and vanilla ice cream), Midnight in Paris (coffee ice cream with Nutella), Elmos Revenge (red velvet ice cream with  Oreos and chocolate chips), Coco Butter Kisses (dark chocolate ice cream with cookie butter and graham crackers), etc. Everyone else got scoops in a cup – Roxie ordered the Midnight in Paris and salted caramel, Jamie ordered Coco Butter Kisses and John ordered Midnight in Paris. I went for the salted caramel ice cream to go in my sandwich.

If you’re going for the ice cream puffs, you place your order and they place the scoop on a donut that has been cut in half. They then disappear into the back with it and, when they come back, it is heated and pressed together. The contrast of warm and cold, soft and creamy, salt and sweet nearly made me shiver. You do need to eat fast as the ice cream is melting but it is so good I was already eager to scarf it down.

Terrific for those who love ice cream sandwiches, especially that you get to choose your ice cream. Of course, now I’m wondering if you could do the same with beignet.

It is a very small shop with only a couple of tables but it wasn’t packed on Sunday evening so we got a table and added a chair from another. Staff friendly and service was quick.

I would probably be here weekly and have blood sugar through the roof but it is a lovely treat.

The Parlor Ice Cream Puffs
2620 Fair Oaks Blvd
www.theparloricecream.com
Sacramento, CA 95864
(916)977-3997

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Augie’s Montreal Deli – Berkeley

I was running errands with my friend Brian which took us into Berkeley at lunchtime. Brian is a great foodie finder and this one is a little off the beaten track but going to Augie’s Montreal Deli was a real treat.

We split the L’Montroyal, which came with what looked like a pound of Augie’s Montreal smoked meat. This sandwich (which is just meat and bread) is huge! The meat is a beef brisket which is cured, rubbed, smoked, and slow roasted. Sort of like pastrami and corned beef joining together and bringing out the best of each other. You can order it lean or fatty – just look at our sandwich and try to guess what we went for:

The sandwich came with pickles and some coleslaw that some purist put on it. I enjoyed the pickle but left the coleslaw for Brian.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also order a bowl of poutine –  French fried red potatoes with St Hubert poutine gravy and authentic squeaky cheese curds. Very yummy. We ordered the smaller bowl and it was plenty for two people.

The order came up fast and hot. They brought it to our table and the owner, Lex, even stopped by to make sure we had everything we needed. There is seating both inside and out and they’ll even bring your order to the car, if you can’t find parking and decide to get it to go.

They have a small refrigerated cabinet and they sell smoked brisket and bacon.  They also have cans of poutine gravy, if you wanted to take it home and make your own.

I’d definitely recommend this place. Check out their hours before going as they close at 3pm during the middle of the week.

Augie’s Montreal Deli
augiesmontrealdeli.com
875 Potter St
Berkeley CA 94710
(510) 984-0283

NOLA – Palo Alto

I flew into California and had a great day talking books and food with friends. We rounded out our evening by going to Kepler’s Books to enjoy a lively and informative conversation between authors Lucy Jane Bledsoe and Emma Donoghue about Emma’s new book, Akin.

Prior to the event, we had to fuel up. Dar recommended NOLA Restaurant in downtown Palo Alto and I’m very glad she did. The place is a tribute to New Orleans that adds a California flair to the food. The cocktails were creative and delicious, the walls were covered in Southern art and the food was as good or better than the best Creole and Cajun I’ve had the pleasure to eat.

We focused ordering nearly all their small plates. I had cornbread plus their BBQ shrimp and grits with garlic bread. Big shrimp with a richly flavored sauce over savory, stone-ground grits. The garlic studded bread was good and, as you see from the picture, a lot for such a tiny skillet.

Luan offered me her Mamma’s Mac and cheese for the picture and I got a bite of it as well. Very smooth and generously cheesy, with just a hint of spice over the plump, well cooked pasta. My mama doesn’t make it that way but I sure wish she did.

Karin had the shrimp as well and also ordered a flight of fried green tomatoes. They came with a couple of sauces but the crunchy, cornmeal coated tomatoes needed no boost of flavor as they tasted divine. Not sure they needed the sprinkling of greens but we are in California, so they are par for the course.

Their chef had the patience and keen eye and nose to get a deep mahogany roux on the seafood etouffee that Peggy ordered. Complex layers of flavor and full of scallops, crawfish and shrimp, this dish was good to the last bite.

Just look at the meat in this flank steak salad that Maria ordered! Sure there were noodles and greens and edamame but the marinated meat was tender and flavorful. Salad isn’t usually food in my world but for this I’m willing to make an exception.

I didn’t get pics of the ribs that Dar ordered* but she did give me a bite and it was meltingly tender to the tooth. I did snap a picture of the large boiled shrimp in the bucket of ice she also ordered. I’m not sure what we were supposed to with the celery but the shrimp easily found their way into our mouths.

I also neglected to get pictures of the cornbread.** It was sweet but with a very nice crumb. The plate had two large pieces and came with a rosemary honey that was good enough to sip out of the container. The nice server also brought us some butter to slather on it.

The servers in the lounge and in the restaurant were attentive and the cocktails sized generously. I’m glad we had reservations because the bar and lounge were packed at 5pm. The place is set up with many small areas in two stories around an open courtyard so groups could get raucous (not my group, of course, we were the height of decorum!) without disturbing others. Each place setting came with Mardi Gras beads and that helped get everyone into the right festive mood.

A good atmosphere, excellent service and just the right amount of spice to the eclectic menu makes this a restaurant I would return to in the future. I recommend it.

NOLA
https://www.nolas.com/
535 Ramona St.,
Palo Alto, CA 94301
650.328.2722

Author notes and corrections:
*note – correction Luan ordered the ribs
** the server took our picture and the cornbread can be seen next to me (after Dar and Peggy). Here it is:

Dar, Peggy and I and the cornbread

Spirited Puddin Pops

I’ve posted before about the chocolate pudding mix that Michelle makes for me and about how you can make delicious puddin pops with it. After a long Labor Day weekend acknowledging the contributions and achievements of American workers, it is time to celebrate with an adultifyied version.

I used RumChata in place of some of the milk. I love their blend of rum, cream, cinnamon and vanilla in drinks and baking and, now I’ve learned just how well it goes in puddin pops.

So good I chomped instead of licked!

So yummy and oh, so refreshing.

I’m thinking the next batch will be made with amaretto. Or maybe crème de menthe.

Spirited Puddin Pops

1 cup chocolate pudding mix (or 1 – 4 ounce box cook and serve chocolate pudding)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup RumChata
1 cup Cool Whip whipped topping

Place the pudding mix and milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it begins to thicken, add in the RumChata and continue to cook until it comes to a boil

Scrape pudding into a metal mixing bowl and place over a large bowl of ice and water and stir to bring the temperature down. Once the bottom of the bowl containing the pudding is cool to the touch, mix in the Cool Whip. Stir until completely incorporated.

Pour into molds and place in the freezer. It will take at least five hours to freeze.

 

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken

For my Labor Day weekend grilling, I’m taking advantage of the local sales on whole chickens and bags of lemons.

I’ve always been a fan of lemon pepper seasoning on seafood, especially fish and shrimp and my dad loves it on his steaks, whether venison or beef. But don’t forget that it also goes really well on chicken, too. You can buy a jar of the seasoning from the store or make your own. I use this version when making my own.

Because Michelle made a special request, I’m serving the chicken with a broccoli casserole and some grilled zucchini with lemon salt. Recipe for the zucchini was found on the Pioneer Woman’s website.

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken

4-5 lb chicken
4 lemons, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning, divided

Butterfly chicken by cutting out the backbone and the wings. Reserve the backbone and wings for stock. Place remaining chicken in a zip top bag.

Zest two of the lemons and then place the zest and juice from three lemons in a bowl. You want to have about a 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Whisk together with the olive oil, garlic and 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours, occasionally turning the chicken to make sure it is fully covered.

Remove from marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides with remaining tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning.

Set up the grill for indirect cooking. Place chicken on the cool side of the grates with the legs facing the coals. Grill chicken for approximately 60 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Let rest 5 minutes before carving.

For the last 15 minutes of grilling, place the final lemon, cut in half on the grill. Once you’ve plated the chicken for serving, squeeze some of the grilled lemon on each piece for a bright hit of lemon flavor.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Growing up, we called these Congo bars. Like chocolate chip cookies but with more chips and a gooey texture. I had some recently that added coconut, so I know they are still popular at potlucks. These aren’t blondies – the butter/shortening is melted before adding the sugar instead of creaming the two together. Here is a link to my blondie recipe.

Below is the version I’m using these days. The original recipe was in mom’s handwriting and called for oleo or shortening but I’m using about half and half butter and shortening. Using all shortening, you lose some flavor and the cookie bar crumbles. Using all butter, makes them too dense. Combined is the best of all worlds.

I’m also using bittersweet morsels instead of semi-sweet but put your preference in – heck, I’ve seen these with a mix of white and dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nuts, roughly chopped – I use pecans
1 package chocolate morsels – I use bittersweet

Lightly butter a 9×13 pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Melt butter and shortening in the top of a double boiler. Stir in brown sugar until well mixed. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients, then nuts and chocolate.

Pour into greased pan. For a prettier presentation, I scatter a few whole pecans and some extra morsels on the top before baking at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes. It should be golden brown all over, with the edges a slightly darker brown.

When almost cool, cut into finger length bars or squares (my preference).

Mom’s recipe says it comes from the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper, dated February 22, 1942. Google helped me find the link to the advertisement in the comics section of that paper.

Scotched Eggs

Taking bulk breakfast sausage and using it to envelop eggs is my new favorite thing. They’ve got all sorts of goodness going for them – creamy eggs, lots of hearty sausage, lovely seasoning and a crunchy coating.

They can be made to the breadcrumb stage and stored for later cooking or cooked and the leftovers rewarmed in a mix of microwave and toaster oven (to recrisp them).

When making more than four at a time, I recommend placing them in a muffin tin to bake. Otherwise, they will be okay on a rimmed baking sheet.

I used Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard but any good stoneground mustard will work.

Scotched Eggs

6 eggs, divided
1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
flour, for dredging
1 cup breadcrumbs

Place 4 eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Let sit for 5 minutes for slightly more than softboiled eggs or 9 minutes for hardboiled eggs. Run cold water over the cooked eggs and peel them, rinsing them again in cold water to stop the cooking.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Use your hands to mix the sausage and the mustard. Divide the sausage into 4 equal pieces. Wet your hands, and then take up one portion of meat. Pat into a thin patty from your fingertips to palm. Roll the egg in flour and then set near your fingers and fold the sausage around it, pinching the ends to seal it completely in sausage. Continue until all are enrobed in sausage

Beat remaining two eggs in a shallow dish. Dredge sausage balls in flour, then in beaten eggs and then in breadcrumbs. For an added crunch, use a breakfast cereal like Rice Krispies or Corn Flakes instead of the bread crumbs.

Set on a rimmed baking sheet or in a muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes until crisp and golden.