Aug 15

Fast Breakfasts the Family Will Love

Cleo Blog

Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, and it is also one of the most commonly rushed. Everyone is quick to get out the door for school or work, and therefore, they are grabbing cereal, breakfast shakes, or something else that gets them out the door as fast as possible. There are many different breakfast meals that you can make that your family will love without holding up their busy schedule. 

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Jun 12

Root Down, Denver – Summer Food Drive 2012

We had planned a trip to Pinche Tacos (apologies if you are a Spanish speaker. It’s their name) in Denver with our colleagues and friends Chad and Danielle but Chad had already been to Pinche Tacos. Since they are Denver locals and since I had not eaten since Winslow, Az 30 something hours ago, I was persuaded to change the venue. I did insist that Chad pick someplace noteworthy and off-beat. He did not disappoint with Root Down. As he discussed it, early on a Sunday morning, Danielle opened her eyes and exclaimed “I’m up!, I’m up.” She wanted in too.

Even the name is off-beat. With a name like “Root Down” I imagined some kind of eclectic, skater-face-feed where the dudes munch down or root down on great food. It wasn’t that at all. In fact, it was kind of “Duh.”

With an Image the Meaning of Root Down is Obvious

Apparently Root Down is the kind of place where local ingredients like Radishes from the Pecos Street Community Garden are put to good, creative use.

Root Down Aims to Connect the Neighborhood to the Dining Experience

Even the architecture of the building screams creativity.

Comfy & Quirky; and Perfect in Denver

We had a 40 minute wait but were not disappointed with our meals. After a bit of the bottom-less Blood Orange Mimosas (virgin for me), we decided to use a modified Chinese – Family Style dining system and all have a bit of everything.


The Darker Virgin Blood Orange Juice and the Bottomless Blood Orange Mimosa Catch the Sunlight and Shout "Drink Me!"

The first dish out was a unique take on Egg’s Benedict: A Hollandaise & Balsamic Drizzle over Smoked Duck and Caramelized Onion all resting on a cherry waffle.

Smoked Duck Benedict with a Balsamic Hollandaise

It was delicious and a good conversation piece. The next item was another riff on the Eggs Benedict theme: The Root Down. I had never seen a Quinoa English Muffin, and with Mrs. P Chef and Little P Chef being Gluten-Free, I was in on that one dimension alone; but then there was also Iberico Cheese and a Sun-Dried Tomato Hollandaise Sauce. Taking a Mother Sauce to the next level is almost always an interesting idea.

Quinoa English Muffins in The Root Down

Next up was Chad’s Choice: a Pulled Pork Omelette with Smoke Mozzarella, Charred Scallion Sauce, Lime Crème Fraîche and pickled Habaneros. I was very glad we were sharing.

The Pulled Pork Omelette with Greens and Some Savory Potatoes

On the fork, the dish that played well in the mind, suffered slightly. For me, the pulled pork was a bit too sweet and sharp to perfectly compliment the eggs. It was as though it was trying a little too hard to be different and not trying hard enough to be fabulous. Finally, came Danielle’s favorite: The Veggie Burger Sliders.

The Veggie Sliders Did Not Perform as Danielle Remembered Them

At the first bite, Danielle’s look of anticipation turned to disappointment. They had CHANGED the slider of her dreams. And she wasn’t wrong. Apparently, the topping was switched out from a Tomato Jam on her last visit to a jalapeno spread this time. She was very unhappy about it. As for us, the veggie slider was just run-of-the-mill, not day-wrecking. Vegetarian Slider aside, the experience was a good one, as much for the vibe and hip crowd, as for the distinctive food. Thanks Chad and Danielle for the suggestion, the friendship, the visit and the business.

P Chef

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Feb 12

King Arthur Charges in and has us all Round the Breakfast Table

King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour (photo courtesy of King Arthur Flour)

If you follow the Smart Kitchen Blog, you may know that personally, we keep, on average, if not a Gluten-Free Household, at least a Gluten Aware Household. It is the words “on average” that bedevil easy description. 2/4 of the P Chef family are strictly, rabidly Gluten Free. If a 3 year old can’t technically be “rabidly Gluten Free” on his own, his mother’s easily helps push him up into the rabid category. Mrs. P Chef, for health reasons is a Gluten-Free zealot.The next fourth, my 6 year old daughter, is ambiguously Gluten-Free, some of the time.

As a hearty eater of everything tasty, (oops should have written Gourmand to make it sound better), it’s Dad who skews the average towards Gluten Aware from Gluten Free.

I grew up with Pancake Sundays, where family and any tag-along, sleep-over friends stood around the kitchen talking, joking, making and eating pancakes. Initially, I’d eat one or two. As I got older and into sports, I ate 3, then 4 then 8 etc. The more eating, the longer the making, the greater the number and quality of the laughs. I want to share that warm, homey tradition with my wife and little chefs.

But when 2/4ths of us went seriously Gluten-Free, the idea of Pancake Sundays, (with Dad, Spatula at the ready, attending the Cast Iron Lady) seemed lost and heading the way of the Dodo bird. Walking the aisle of the grocery store last week, shopping for Cornstarch for SK Chef’s Valentine’s Appearance on ABC 15, I thought I spied salvation for Pancake Sunday on a mainstream grocery store shelf. King Arthur on his Flour Power Charger, seemed to be riding to the rescue under a “NEW” banner proclaiming a solution for King Arthur’s Gluten-Free, All Purpose Flour.

If you have tried any Gluten-Free baking or cooking, you know that there is a difference between claims and results. But I had faith in the King Arthur brand. Perhaps because of their generations of marketing with the bluegrass, musical  King Arthur Flour Hour or just the fact that they are an employee owned company from Vermont swayed me. I added the Gluten-Flour to our cart, in a separate, non-company, personal pile of course.

At home, we have  low-grade, ongoing, tug-of-war in the kitchen between the adherents of health and the adherents of taste. The neutral foods, “The Switzerlands of the Pantry,” that both sides can agree on, are few and far between. I am in the camp that tries to make healthy decadent. My wife, and by extension my little chefs, are most often in the camp that says “Leave it alone.” I had great hopes for this new flour turning the tide towards flavor and decadence and was excited this past Sunday morning to inaugurate Gluten-Free Pancake Sunday. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The success of our foray was really determined by the “Benchmarking.” The gluten free community, our 2/4 loved the new pancake recipe. Mrs. P Chef did her signature move and shouted  “Great” before devouring her portion and then saying she could not have more because “the carbs would make her sleepy.”  I really enjoy her enjoying food I make and made her another single, heart-shaped, Valentine Pancake and called it a win. My 3 year old, little P Chef said “Dad How did you learn to make such good pancakes?” and asked for more. My daughter at 6, begrudgingly, when asked (no volunteering), said that they were good but the proof was that she had a big helping of seconds. A lot of the times the proof is in the eating.

As for me, I have been improvising from the Joy Of Cooking’s Pancake version for a few years now. I like the proportions and mixing the wet with the wet and the dry with the dry before combining them all. Needless to say, my benchmark is a bit higher than the Gluten-Free team when piloting our enameled skillet, The Red Warrior. The Gluten-Free pancakes bubbled up as they should and formed a nice crispy, butter-fried edge.

A Bit Doughy As Cooked and with Different Bubbling but Gluten-Free

They turned out a bit paler, and a little thicker than gluten pancakes but they had a good “Mouth Feel” which is one of the tougher things to accomplish with Gluten-Free cooking. Also, I forgot to mention that I “Cheated,” a tiny bit, in the tug-of-war competition between health and taste. I added a couple squares of melted Toberlone White Chocolate to the wet ingredients before incorporating them with the dry. This could also have made them paler and thicker.

A Bit Paler but Tasty & a Godsend for a Pancake Sunday Family

Ultimately, I will praise King Arthur, and not just because he is armored and carries a lance. They are trying to do something difficult by competing with Gluten. They mostly succeed and do it admirably. The product comes out tasting clean and a bit “ricey” which makes a very good blank canvas on which to slather butter and real Maple Syrup. Those tastes are winners that I am down for. Compared to all the other Gluten-Free preparations out there, King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour is a coup.

I also did not exactly follow the directions on their package, which is a “No-No” when preparing a product for the first time to evaluate it. I substituted Guar Gum for the recommended Xanthum Gum because they are close substitutes, and because honestly, we had one in our gluten-free area of the pantry. At the moment, on that Pancake Sunday, improvisation trumped getting dressed and heading for the store. And of course, I got a small lesson in continuous cooking education. Guar Gum, as Smart Kitchen will tell you, is best used mixed into the wet ingredients, not the dry. Oops but also a good reason to re-state that cooking is a continual lesson and a re-learning of things forgotten. If ever the phrase “I’ve forgotten more than X,Y or Z!” applies, it is in cooking.  So now I know for next Sunday, Guar Gum with the wet. If they are even more in demand than the last batch, which had Dad working the Spatula ambidextrously, then great. We all decided to chalk up the experience as a win and I got to head back to bed for an hour with Julia McWilliams*, who is not Mrs. P Chef.

*For fun, I am reading An Appetite for Life by Noel Riley Fitch. It is a very classy, literate biography of  Julia McWilliams from Pasadena, Ca. As I was reading, she was just finishing up in the OSS (the pre-cursor to the CIA) in Asia after WWII where she met Paul Child, who she married to become Julia Child, the “Julia Child.”

The SS America (photo courtesy of www.usswestpoint.com)

At this point in the biography, Julia and Paul are just getting married after a war, a bad car accident, a home fire, a job loss, and some thefts. There are a lot of plot setbacks but they’re not inventions. They are based on the actual facts of their lives. I was anxious to see what happens after they sail for France on the S.S. America bound for the port of Le Havre and have Julia’s first truly FRENCH meal in Rouen at La Couronne, which is still there.

La Couronne, The Crown in Rouen, France

They had Oysters Portugaise and Sole Meunière with French Salad and turned it all around for Julia McWilliams, now Child, who, in turn, turned it around for a lot of us. I was excited to learn what happened next.

P Chef

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Jun 11

Tecolote Cafe – Summer Food Drive 2011

Arriving at the Quirky (and Good) Tecolote Cafe

I was looking forward to my visit to Tecolote Cafe in Santa Fe for spicy, blue corn laden New Mexican food from the Vortex (Santa Fe is reputed/chided for being in an supernatural energy vortex) and I was not dissapointed.

"Tecolote" means Owl in the Nahuatl Aztec Indian Language

Tecolote Cafe is quirky but they know their food and the spirit of the cantankerous New England army cook and founder, Bill Jennison (who passed last May) pervades from the “No Toast” motto to Bill’s son-in-law Matt Adkins who runs the place with his wife Katie. Matt told me the “No Toast” story. Apparently, Bill was a crusty son of Massachusetts who worked around the hospitality business for many years, finally settling in Santa Fe. In the 1980’s Bill decided that Santa Fe, the adobe Disneyland, needed a breakfast spot dedicated to serving fresh LOCAL New Mexican food.
He sought out authentic recipes from his archives, his hospitality colleauges, and long time residents. He sampled the recipes around to his network. They loved the food but were not sure about his breakfast concept. As his former wife, who owned the Guadalopue Cafe and loved the food, but not the operating hours,  queried “Why do you want to be in a breakfast place where you will work yourself to the bone making this fabulous food, only to be answering complaint after complaint about the toast.” Bill had a simple, pragmatic New England answer. “No Toast!” and thus the Tecolote Cafe was born, without toast.

Tecolote Cafe is Quirky & Offbeat but Welcoming. Matt Adkins is seated @ Center

They do have fresh bread, home-made daily, but they don’t waste it on a side, like some of their competitors might.  Instead it only goes into higher value dishes like the French Toast. After Bill booted a few customers who insisted on toast too stridently, the motto became a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the other places, like the Pantry down the road, which do serve a lot of toast. Do you feel a food war coming on?
If I’d known that story when I sat down, I would have ordered French Toast too to have an opinion on the argument, but I had already submitted my request before Matt joined me. I was visiting to sample the Atolé Pinon Hot Cakes ($5.70), which translates as Blue Corn Meal, Pine Nut Pancakes. They sounded authentic and interesting.

Atolé Pinon Pancakes are Literally "Blue."

The first thing I noticed was that my hot cakes were “Blue,” the second was the attention to detail; the maple syrup was served piping hot. The pancakes are a different savory earthy experience that really can grow on you. They are very different in their specific taste, but similar in their adult pancake audacity to those from the Beach Grass Cafe in San Diego (bacon cheddar) that have won some national pancake awards. There is bouncing around from the taste undertones to the taste overtones.
Pine Nuts in Pancakes

The Atolé Piñon Pancake have Piñon (Pine Nuts) in them

As I’d been sitting waiting for the pancakes to arrive, and before Matt joined me, I read the menu and soaked up the “Fanta Se”, vortex conversations in the room. Two women at the table next to me actually uttered these gems. “The messages are in the air. You just have to follow them.” and “If you find yourself stuck deep down in a conundrum, call me. I will be there for you.” I can just imagine one friend phoning the other, from deep down inside a black swirling conundrum and the second friend steadying herself to throw a rope down into the maelstrom, to help haul her pal out. I wonder what I would have picked up at the community table?
While being a traveling food blogger “Aureur” (a new word for an aural voyeur?)  I surveyed the menu, where the printed attention to detail, around the Red Chili and the Green Chili caught my attention. The menu read “Our chiles flucuate from hot, to Very, to Very VERY HOT. So if you are not sure ask your server for a sample. ” That sentence sold me. Mindful that I still had yet another breakfast to eat I ordered an egg with two side dishes of chili: one red and one green.

Red or Green?

The chilis are both smoky with a fine heat that builds. I preferred the red, until I added salt to the green. Matt explained that they add just enough salt to the purely vegetarian chilis to mellow or balance the flavors of the peppers and the Roux. They expect you to salt to taste for yourself. How grown-up is that?
If you are passing through, Tecolote Cafe has been on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives for the Huevos Yuccatan, and won best Huevos Rancheros (in New Mexico) in 2001. When I come back through I am going for the Carne Adovada
P Chef
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Jun 11

Acoma Pueblo – Summer Food Drive – First Stop

The Summer Food Drive 2011 started at 02:00 A.M. with a 351 mile jaunt to the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. It is a geologic wonder and also known as the “Sky City” by the native Hopi people. It is a place I’d barely heard of but the idea of the Ancients, their philosophy and soulfulness, still lingering around their  long abandoned dwellings was compelling. I was also drawn to the idea of experiencing native foods in the most native of environments.

Can you Guess Why it is Called "Sky City?" (Photo Courtesy of Sky City)

The Yaaka Cafe (Yaaka means corn) promised to serve traditional fare in a traditional setting. What better way to kick off an American  food trip than with Native American foods? If my luck held at all the dishes would be “authentic” and not the doughy overly fried versions found at weekend events.

After 6 hours of driving, I was ready for a meal but the beauty of the high desert vista leading to the Acoma Pueblo and the elegant soulful design of the Sky City Cultural Center and the Haaku Museum fueled curiousity at the expense of hunger.  Martha Watchempo Fasel, a very talented fine arts painter was featured.

The visual beauty continued as I finally made my way to the beautifulYaaka Cafe, which takes full advantage of the natural and historic views offered by its surroundings and Sky City. If there wasn’t a permit-only, photo ban, there’d be a few more photos. I did seek permission to take a few snaps of my traditional meal with “bread.”  Some of the Menu can be seen by following the link.

The Acoma "Bread"

In the same way that round ham-like back bacon shows up when “Bacon” is ordered in Canada, fry bread is “Bread” on the Native menu. The bread was not a completely different animal but well executed and more delicate than the Big Top Faire. It was also a good counterpoint to my local dish: Nanna’s Sheepherder Wrap.

Sheepherder Wrap from Yaaka Cafe, Acoma Pueblo

That's just a Burrito, Right? Not!

From the picture you probably expect another burrito, as I did. Instead, what arrived at my table to the accompaniement of native chanting on the Muzak system (It grew on me and I may seek it out on I-Tunes), was a super pleasant surprise for the taste buds and the ever curious brain.

The “Nana’s Sheepherder” had none of the acidy spice of the Mexican meal. It was earthier with more of a Umami taste that I have rarely experience. At first happiness was fueled by surprise, then by the dish as I acquired a taste for the hard to describe flavor. Think of it as a crispy mutton hash with an umami flavor (from the pan fried potatoes and slow cooked roast beef) supported by the traditionally flavored, red chili paste and you won’t be far off.

Truth be told, I entered the Yaaka Cafe a bit worried after 350 miles.  It is homey but touristy, a kind of cross between Southwesterny home style and a tourist attraction food court.  The hot dogs and burgers are front and center but you can find the Traditional Menu on the take-out paper menus.

All in all, it was an auspicious start in a fairly remote, long-shot restaurant that should hold me until Cafe Pasquals in Santa Fe (that turned out to be another story). I thank the ancestors for sharing their cuisine and approach the rest of my travels with an open mind and heart.

P Chef

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Apr 11

Egg Producers Cluck about Rising Costs, Declining Sales

The Only Happy Egg Producer (photo courtesy of EverythingEaster.com)


Is it a surprise that twice as many eggs are consumed Easter Week as compared to a normal week? Not here, but it turns out that we, the PChefs, are part of a trend. One we might have to rectify next year. What did we do? We neglected to color eggs this year, relying instead on the time saving, cheap plastic eggs that double as temporary candy safes. We were not alone. For the first time, Easter Demand for Eggs was flat. That is wrong on two or three levels.

Hardboiling and painting eggs is both cooking real food and a great family activity. Second, the new way, as opposed to the old way, involves more sugar and bad candy. Third, we are hurting local egg producers who are hard pressed to make money with rising fuel and commodity prices, in favor of plastic doodad makers. 

We are resolving to do better next year and just bought an extra dozen to try and catch up in 2011. We will probably do some Hard Boiling and may get in some Poaching too.

P Chef

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Feb 11

Silence Dogood’s Washington’s Birthday Post

At Smart Kitchen, we have had the good fortune to cross paths with some creative, intellectually-curious food writers. Silence Dogood is one of them. We get a kick out of her posts and try to re-post those of hers that have to do with food. Recently, she sent us her tribute to General Washington and thought that our readers might get a kick out of how they did it back in the day. Silence’s post follows. You can see her Original Post on her regular blog Poor Richard’s Almanac.

George Washington with Cherries

Washington Loved Cherries and Other Fresh Fruits & Nuts

Silence Dogood here. Big George loved his cherries, but he wasn’t too big on dessert. So what sorts of cherry treats did Martha make for him at Mount Vernon? Turning to Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, containing her handwritten collection of recipes (called “receipts” back in her day), I found a recipe that was sure to sit well with George: cherry wine.

Washington, like all his contemporaries, was a heavy drinker, often polishing off four glasses of madeira after downing homebrew throughout dinner. And drinking beer with breakfast was considered par for the course in his day, followed by an assortment of alcoholic beverages, from hard cider to claret and port, not to mention gin and rum among members of the navy, as the day wore on.

Why? Was America founded by a bunch of alcoholics? Hardly, nor were the Colonists alone in their drinking habits: All Europe shared them, with good reason. With no knowledge of sanitation, and sewage being dumped in the streets and into the water supply, drinking water was—and was widely recognized as—dangerous. Encounters with E. coli and other contagious diseases usually proved fatal in the days when bleeding and purging were the recommended treatments for pretty much everything and antibiotics were unknown.

Fermentation was an easy way to destroy most of the bad bacteria, so drinking fermented (i.e., alcoholic) beverages was strongly recommended and pretty much universally practiced. Only one voice was raised against the practice, that of the youthful visionary Benjamin Franklin, who was both a teetotaler and a vegetarian, centuries ahead of his time, and recommended water as the universal beverage. Spending time in the polluted cities of London and Paris eventually cured Franklin of his idealism—fresh water was nowhere to be found in either locale—and he came to appreciate a glass of wine or a mug of beer; his vegetarianism also eventually fell by the wayside.

But even in an era of universal drinking, public drunkenness was condemned as vulgar and appalling; a gentleman (or lady, for that matter) was supposed to be able to hold his (or her) liquor. I have no idea how the people of the time managed to walk that tightrope; I’m just glad we moderns have a lot more options when it comes to choosing a thirst-quenching beverage.

But to get back to Martha’s cherry wine, which we would probably consider more of a cherry cordial, let’s just say I’m providing the recipe as a matter of historical interest rather than urging you to try it. We’ll get to a cherry recipe next that would probably have pleased George and will certainly please you.

           Martha Washington’s Cherry Wine

Take a good quantety of spring water & let it boyle halfe an houre. then beat 4 pounds of raysons, clean pickt & washed, & beat them in a mortar to paste. then put them in an earthen pot, & pour on ym 12 quarts of this water boyling hot, & put to it 6 quarts of ye Juice of cheries, & put in the pulp & scins of ye cheries after they are strayned. & let all these steep together, close covered, 3 days, then strayn all out & let it stand 3 or 4 hours to settle. take of ye cleerest, & run ye rest thorough a Jelley bagg, then put ye Juice up into bottles & stop them up close, & set them in sand.

Mmm, mmm, good! Well, maybe it was good. But I don’t think I’ll try it and see! Instead, I set myself to thinking about what our First President, a man of hearty appetite but plain tastes, who was known to leave the fancy dishes and desserts to his guests, would have enjoyed in the way of cherry recipes.

Clafouti sprang to mind, a simple, warm dish that is half-pancake, half pudding, full of fruit and flavor, but not too sweet. It would have made a great breakfast dish for George, served with his eggs, a variety of meats (including ham, bacon, sausage, and possibly fish), hominy, and biscuits before he headed out to ride over his plantations. If you’d like to make it as a dessert, whipped cream adds a lovely touch; for breakfast, you, like George, would probably prefer heavy cream poured over your portion of hot clafouti. This recipe is courtesy of Anna Thomas’s wonderful The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979). Ben Franklin would be proud!

             Clafouti of Cherries

4 eggs

1 cup flour

2 cups warm milk

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons kirsch

pinch of salt

1 to 2 tablespoons soft butter

1 pound sweet, dark cherries, washed, stemmed, and pitted

Beat the eggs lightly and gradually stir in the flour. When the mixture is smooth, beat in the milk, sugar, melted butter, and kirsch, along with a tiny pinch of salt.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Very generously butter a large, shallow baking dish and pour a very thin layer of the batter across the bottom of it. Put it in the hot oven for 2 to 3 minutes, or just long enough for the batter to begin to set.

Arrange the pitted cherries evenly over the layer of batter and pour the remaining batter carefully over them. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees and bake the clafouti for about 30 to 35 minutes. It should be golden brown and slightly puffed. It’s a good idea to check it once or twice during the baking, and if it is starting to puff unevenly in large bubbles, pierce it with a skewer or fork.

Sprinkle the hot clafouti with sieved confectioners’ sugar and serve it hot or warm, topped with cold heavy cream or whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8. (Probably more like two if one of you is George Washington!)

So there you have it, a breakfast dish fit for, if not a king, at least a president! From all of us here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, Happy Birthday, George!!!

Nov 10

Manon of the Fall (not the Spring)


This is not a post about old (but good) Girard Depardieux films, but a post about redemption and a fabulous patisserie in the most unlikely of places named Patisserie Manon that opened this fall.

Nearby is a blog post on the dining & BBQ tragedy of losing the Salt Lick BBQ in Las Vegas. On the same trip seeking some comfort, I sought out another old, eclectic, but hit or miss favorite from 2006: Bleu Gourmet, only to find it MIA as well.  

But a “Coming Soon!” banner flew facing the side street. Sucked in, I drove closer and was surprised to see wide open doors and some customers inside. It turns out the new place, Patisserie Manon, was open for take away service. It looked worth a stop.

Charleston Blvd in Summerlin is an unlikely place for the third outpost of a Tahitian bakery chain but the food gods work in mysterious ways. Seeing the gleaming display cases, I felt the excitement build and thought “a new find.” 

Cream Cheese and Goat Cheese Quiche

Start the Car, We Need Another.

For sampling purposes, one must judge the product (mustn’t one?), I ordered the Mini Croissant for $1.10. (below)

Almond Croissant

Detail of the Mini Almond Croissant

the Mini Coco Rocher (coconut macaron) (below center) $.75, the pepita $2.25 and some Macarons (coffee, lemon peanut butter & chocolate) (below exterior).


It is hard to find a good macaron this side of France

For the heartier offerings I had to sample the most novel French dining options. I ordered the the Fougasse with Egg Tuna & Bechamel for $7.95 (below), the Cream Cheese & Goat Cheese Quiche $4.00 (far above),

Tuna Foughasse

Foughasse must be French for Tuna Melt

and the French Hot Dog w/Bechamel, Cheese & Mustard (below) $8.95. 

French Hot Dog

And Bechamel Lurks Beneath

Contrary to what gets posted here in the Smart Kitchen Blog, I hardly every eat rich foods because almost nothing is too rich for me and because I don’t like to unleash that caloric beastly side of my palette. It’s hard to put back in its cage and it disagrees with Mrs. P Chef, my doctor and my waistline. That being said, the French Hot Dog is such a tempting sandwich, especially after a loss like the Salt Lick. Looking at it shining there, it was a joy to order, even a joy to start in on, but after a few bites, it gets rich. Too rich, even too rich for me. Now this stunning richness may be because I had a cream cheese & goat cheese quiche appetizer, or it may just be a very rich cheese covered hot dog laying on bechamel sauce. 

I am hoping to discuss it with the owners, Rachel & Jean Paul, who rumor has it don’t speak much English the next time I visit and share an order of French Hot Dog after my quiche. I am not too worried about communicating with Rachel or Jean Paul, because though they may not speak much English, they certainly do speak food and have launched a worthy successor to Bleu Gourmet.

If you get the chance stop in at 8751 W. Charleston Blvd. Las Vegas, Nevada 89117. (702) 586 2666

P Chef

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Oct 10

Amazing Pancake Results.

I am almost getting sick of myself at still being amazed by Smart Kitchen.

At our house, we try to have a Sunday breakfast policy of family made pancakes or French Toast done together. This past Sunday we were using a recipe from Joy of Cooking and my 5 year old who has been tagging along on my lessons in the Smart Kitchen beta test suggested that we add orange juice to the pancake batter. I said “sure” without thinking about it.

But then my new Smart Kitchen brain kicked in. “What about the extra liquid in the batter?” Can you believe it? Unbidden the answers came. “More flour and maybe a touch more baking powder. 2 eggs should still be okay.”  Who was I?

We made the changes and poured the liquid portion of the batter into the divit Teaching Chef had taught me to make in the flour and which I had taught my daughter to make.

She whisked it all together in the big bowl as I pre-heated the cast iron skillet. My daughter timed our adding in the batter by the heat of the skillet, using the butter as a visual clue. Together, (safety first with kids & stoves) we poured in the first spoons of batter. She watched for the visual clue about when to turn them and scared her Dad flipping them, but actually did a great job. 

OMG the pancakes were the best I’d ever made. That’s the shock, in a good way, of this Smart Kitchen. They break things down so you do different steps. A 5 year old was doing it. Now its kind of embarassing that over the last 40 odd years, I’ve made a lot of pancakes and these were the first that were truly great. Just practicing solo didn’t get me there. A few simple changes and the ability to improvise learned from Smart Kitchen did. We, my 5 year old and I, made 5 star, good restaurant quality food. She’s not really an eater like her old man but she had 4 pancakes yesterday and 3 more (reheated) today. 

And I admit to having a few pancakes myself. They were like a treat, crispy, with just the right sweetness and orange tang. I didn’t want to risk wrecking them by adding syrup, even the real maple stuff. I actually had to exert some will power over the cakey goodness or I might have demolished the pile of them we were saving for the kids’ breakfasts this week.

That’s another Smart Kitchen thing. We do a bit more planning and make pancakes for a few days while we have the gear out. They keep and are real economical. I’m thinking of them now and can’t touch them so I’m writing about them instead. I can’t wait until next Sunday to see if we can do it again. I will be really excited to have those great pancakes be more than a fluke.

If I get bold, I might experiment with some of the batter to make something a bit more savory. Maybe add in some spreadable cheddar or some feta into the batter and see how that turns out. We will keep you posted.

Apprentice H