Thursday, May 21, 2009

Taberna del Alabardero Best Happy Hour

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Okay Seattle foodies and people who love to eat: Here's a happy hour that is really tough to beat. That is, if you like Spanish food...and I don't mean Mexican. I mean with roots in Madrid.

Just perusing their various menus for the 10th time, my mouth is beginning to water as I carefully plan what I'm going to order the next time I'm in Taberna del Alabardero. Everything is half price during Happy Hour (4-7pm: $2.50-$6.00), even the Sangria which you can get with either white or red wine. OH LORD, HELP ME NOW.

Starting off with the fresh and light Ensalada Mixta (Mesclun Mix, Avocado, Chives, Tomato, Hard Boiled Egg, Olives and Asparagus), it was quickly followed by the following scrumptious dishes:

Tortilla Española : Tradicional, de Calabazin - Traditional Potato Omelet: Plain, with Zucchini
Tortilla Española
This was light and very savoury, with the perfect ratio of vegetables and egg, expertly seasoned.

Combinacion de Jamon Serrano y Queso Manchego - Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese
Serrano Ham and Manchego Cheese Plate
Their ham melts in your mouth with all it's salty buttery goodness. I wrapped up the cheese in a few slices for the ultimate orgasmic bite. They actually proudly display the Serrano ham legs on 2 racks in the dining room. That is AWESOME.

Vieira Confitada con Cebolleta Roja y Gelatina de Citricos - Scallop and Red Onion Confit with a Citrus Gelatin
Scallop and Red Onion Confit with a Citrus Gelatin
These Spaniards sure know how to cook seafood. The scallops tasted so fresh and light on this crispy baguette, which you could swipe over the drizzled citrus reduction on the side.

Cazuela de Alcachofas con Almejas - Artichoke and Clam Casserole
Artichoke and Clam Casserole
This might have been my favorite, and I don't even like clams very often, because they're usually too fishy-tasting for me. Not these ones! They were very fresh, and along with the delectable sauce covered artichokes, wasn't too overwhelming or complicated in taste. The little puddle of oily sauce at the bottom of the bowl was quickly sopped up by some bread. Perfection!

Lastly, we had a creamy vanilla Crème Brûlée and a Chocolate Mousse cake, which oozed out warm chocolate from the center.
crème brûlée chocolate mousse caramelized croutons with cherries on top

And at the end of the happiest happy hours we've ever been to, we only dropped $20 each. We could not believe for how much we had, along with the quality of food, how reasonably priced it was.

Feel free to click on the photos for larger images from my Flickr account!
Highly recommended, Taberna del Alabardero or “Tavern of the Palace Guards,” is probably the best happy hour in downtown Seattle. There. I said it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gluten, Soy, Wheat and Almond free Cupcakes!

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Gluten Free chocolate cupcakes!

You might be asking, "Why is she making something with so many restrictions?" Well, I have a friend who recently had to eliminate a bunch of things from her diet in order to combat her allergies. This included soy, wheat, dairy (all cow/sheep/goat), eggs, almond, tomatoes, peas, barley, kidney and pinto beans, Brazil nuts, cheese, pumpkin, rye, and yeast. WHEW!

So basically I thought I'd adapt the Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcake recipe from my favorite cookbook, "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World". The book didn't have a ganache that catered to all those allergies, so I made one in a double boiler on low heat with Dark 99% Cacao, rice milk, a touch of vanilla, and agave nectar to sweeten (you can use sugar or maple syrup as well). Make sure to keep your eye on it, stirring with a whisk. If you start to see it burning or ceasing, quickly take it off the heat, add more rice milk, and stir like a mad woman! Sometimes it's a lost cause by this point, but you can try!

Okay, on to the recipe!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon chocolate extract (use almond like the original recipe if you can't find chocolate extract)
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill tapioca flour (Natural Food markets should have this)
2 tablespoons ground flax seed (I only found whole flax seeds, so I ground them myself)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill white rice flour
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Wheat, Gluten, and Dairy free all-purpose flour (a mix of Garbanzo Bean Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, White Sorghum Flour and Fava bean Flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt


DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees and line muffin/cupcake tray with cupcake liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine rice milk, canola oil, sugar and extracts. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed just to combine. Add tapioca flour and flax seed and mix vigorously for about a minute, until the tapioca flour is dissolved and the mixture is well emulsified.
3. Add the cocoa powder, white rice flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on medium-high for about 2 minutes. It's important to mix really well and you don't' have to worry about over-mixing because, hey, THERE'S NO GLUTEN!
4. Fill cupcake liners a little over three-quarters full, these won't rise as much as traditional cupcakes so you can fill them a little more than usual. Although that gave me only 11 cupcakes, but what the heck!
5. Bake for 20-23 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted through the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mucho Margarita Cupcakes!

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From the my favorite cupcake book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World", this tangy and incredibly moist little cake of love, was a huge hit at the office yesterday. I think when I said the words "had Tequila in it", it might have had something to do with it, but hey THEY WORK HARD!

Mucho Margarita Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 cup soy milk or rice milk (I used soy)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons tequila (I used 100 Anos Blanco Tequila)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Margarita Icing (recipe follows)
Large crystal decorating sugar, for decorated the edges of cupcakes (about 1/2 cup)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a large bowl, beat together lime juice, zest, soy milk, canola oil, tequila, vanilla, and sugar. Sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until batter is smooth. Fill liners three-quarters of the way full and bake 20 to 22 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted through the center of one comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting; allowing cupcakes to set for an hour or two helps the flavor to develop fully.

TO ASSEMBLE:

1. Spread icing on cupcakes, spreading all the way to the edges, then roll just the outer edges of cupcake in sugar crystals (which I first spread out on a plate). If this is way too messy, just sprinkle sugar crystals on edges of cupcake by hand, or simply on top.

MARGARITA ICING

1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 tablespoons soy milk or rice milk (I used soy)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon tequila
A tiniest drop of green food color or food color paste you can manage,
optional
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted (also called Icing Sugar)
Generous pinch to 1/8 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt,
optional

DIRECTIONS

1. Blend margarine with a fork till soft and fluffy, then stir in soy milk, lime juice, tequila, and food coloring if using (the effect is just to give the icing a very pale green tint, even lighter than "mint" green). Sift in 2 cups confectioners' sugar (I did 1/4 cup at a time) and blend (an electric mixer on low speed helps at this point) til creamy and smooth. If it's a little too liquidy for your taste, sift in one tablespoon at a time more confectioners' sugar, till a thick but spreadable consistency is reached. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes Recipe (Vegan)

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Like Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, these are vegan "Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes" from the world renowned book "Vegan Cupcakes Take over The World". They are probably the best red velvet cupcakes I've ever had, not to mention the moistest.

Cupcake Mosaic
Click on photo to see more!

I recommend the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting over the Old Fashioned Velvet Icing they have in the cookbook. They actually suggest either, and from what I've read from other bakers, the Old Fashioned wasn't as good. Especially if you want to pipe the frosting.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, Dutch processed or regular
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
(Chocolate extract is worth the trouble to find, but if you can't, use 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract)


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin/cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle.
3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.
4. Add the oil, food coloring, chocolate extract, and almond extract to the curdled soy milk. Whisk well to combine. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until large lumps disappear. Do not over mix, otherwise your cupcakes will turn out gummy! Small lumps are okay.
5. Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds of the way full as these cupcakes will rise fairly high. I recommend using non-stick metal pans as opposed to those silicon pans, so the cupcakes will rise properly and not come out lopsided.
6. Place in hot oven and bake 18-20 minutes until done. You can stick a toothpick into a cupcake to see if it's done. If you get tiny dry crumbs on it, it is ready! (I suggest eventually getting an oven thermometer so you know exactly how hot your oven is, because you don't want to over bake the cupcakes.)

Let sit on the counter for a few minutes in the pans and then transfer to a cooling rack or surface to cool completely.

DO NOT ICE CUPCAKES UNTIL FULLY COOLED. I think we've all done that at least once, right? *wink

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup non hydrogenated margarine, softened (some aren't entirely vegan, so if that's a concern, make sure you check!)
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, softened (I use Tofutti, it's Better Than Cream Cheese!)
2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar (or as I used to say, Icing Sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Cream together margarine and cream cheese until just combined. Use a hand held mixer to whip while adding the confectioners sugar in 1/2 cup batches. Scrape down the sides in between too! Mix until smooth and creamy, then mix in the vanilla. Keep tightly covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

LASTLY! I used chopped pecans to sprinkle on top, giving it that classic Velvet Cupcake finishing touch.
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