Friday, December 31, 2010

Orange Hill Restaurant

With the Holiday season come and nearly gone; it's been a busy time.  And, I haven't been on here for a while, sorry.  I thought I'd review a recent restaurant visit, it's a family tradition.  When we first moved to California we came to Christmas Eve and didn't know what to do with ourselves having no family or friends as of yet.  We went to Outback our first Christmas Eve, charming......not.  Then after a few fumbled restaurant visits we settled on Orange Hill, the ambiance is amazing, the view spectacular and the food great. 

Over the years the food sort of went downhill a bit, not hugely but it had slipped slightly  Christmas 2009 we decided to go somewhere else because the year before Orange Hill had served up a really substandard vegetarian dish for my girls.  Well our new choice had been an even worse one so we decided to head back to Orange Hill hearing that they had a new vegetarian dish on their Christmas Eve menu.  We love the feel; and frankly it felt like home we'd been so many times. 

This year the only thing that I was disappointed in was our table location.  We had specifically asked not to be placed in the bar area, it's much louder than the other sections of the restaurant.  As soon as we got there we were lead to our table in the bar area.  It was loud and I really would have liked not to be sitting right beside the bar but we did have a window table, which I guess sort of made up for all the noise.

We were pleasantly surprised by the menu and the food was amazing, every item that was chosen was delectable.  Orange Hill has upped their game, a nice surprise.   One thing that had not changed was the ambiance, and the other their delicious pesto, butter and breads.  I could literally just go there for the pesto, bread and wine.   The Christmas Eve menu is different from their normal menu and new since we last visited.  You choose an appetizer and entry and the dessert was set. 

I had the mushroom soup to start with, it was rich, earthy, a tad spicy and warm, perfect.  My husband had the beef skewers which he said were really great and full of flavor.  Then both myself and my husband had the scallops which was a great choice being that I had eaten so much of their bread and pesto.  The scallops were bacon wrapped and seared to perfection, simply delicious laid on a bed of black rice and baby bok choy.  My daughters who are both vegetarians had the mushroom raviolli as an entry which was fabulous, a very welcome surprise for vegetarian diners.  My son enjoyed the salmon which he said was delicous as was the roasted chicken enjoyed by my daughters boyfriend. 

Dessert was the chefs selection, and it could not have been a better selection.  The waiter described it as a raspberry chocolate mousse sort of thing but I tasted no raspberry in it except for small decoration drizzle on the plate.  We all tasted a hint of mint but the rich chocolate mousse was the hit of the dessert.  It was rich, really rich and anyone who knows me knows that I rarely think anything is too rich.  But being that this was so rich a quarter sized serving would have sufficed.  Other than the crust being slightly tough, it was definitely delectably delicious. 

All in all a wonderful meal, great view and wonderful company.  We'll be back for Christmas Eve dinner next year, definitely hope to be there sooner though.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A little taste of heaven

Sometimes things just work, I mean really work.  When I take a bite of a new experiment and "oh my gosh" is the first thing out of my mouth, that's usually a good thing.  Well, these were one of those.  I call them Almond butter truffles.  I was inspired to make them by the original Peanut butter balls commonly made at this time of year.  I had a new jar of organic Almond butter in the fridge so, gave it a whirl.

After making the filling I wasn't sure that it would be sweet enough.  The almond butter isn't like regular peanut butter with added sugar and "stuff" in it.  It is basically almonds and a bit of salt.  But once dipped into chocolate, cooled and eaten they proved to be perfect.  They are so good and creamy that it is quite difficult to stop at one.  So I've had to ignore them, or at least try.  It has been made easier but suffing them into the freezer, that way I have to thaw first making it more complicated than simply scarfing.  Hope you enjoy. 

Happy Holidays

Almond butter truffles

2 C. powdered sugar
1 C. organic Almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 bag milk choc. chips
Cream, enough to make a creamy consistency

Mix all together very well, add enough cream to make a stand up consistency.  When you pull a spoon through a long strand can stand alone and then start to droop.  Put in the fridge to harden overnight.  Roll teaspoon amount into a ball and place on a tray with parchment.  Put in the fridge again to firm up. 

1 1/2 bags semi sweet chocolate melted,
3 tsp corn oil. 

Mix well and put into deep narrow bowl.  Dip each ball into the choc. and shake off well.  Sprinkle immediately so that the sprinkles stick.  Once the chocolate cools, ENJOY!!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The amazing Nanaimo Bar

It's been a while, but t'is the Season of goodies, so I will hopefully have time for more posts because there will be a whole boatload of treats made at my house.  I baked Nanaimo bars today, I'm on the Joy of Baking on Facebook where they posted about Nanaimo bars today.  So I was inspired to make my first of many batches.  The Nanaimo bar was originated in.....................................................................Canada.   They were originally thought to have been the invention of some wonderful baker in Nanaimo, BC.  But it seems that there is conflicting information on their true origin.  They may have originated somewhere in Alberta, possibly Ladysmith, BC, who knows.  But wherever they come from they are very Canadian.

I have been making Nanaimo bars my whole married life (26 years).   There are many different recipes but they are generally similar.  Nanaimo bars are deliciously creamy, chocolatey, nutty squares that do not require oven baking.  They are by far the favorite in this household over the holidays and pretty much a big hit for those who have tried them.  No one person that I have asked in Southern California has ever heard of them.  I know this because as soon as you say Nanaimo, they say "Nan what?"  They are delicious and I grew up eating them.  No they are not calorie free, nor are they sugar or fat free.  They are filled with everything that makes them worth every caloric bite.  And I say if it's not worth the calories, why eat it? 

Some Nanaimo Bar interesting sites.

Practically Edible


Joy of Baking - with recipe