Friday, July 31, 2009

The Original Pancake House

Restaurant Review: The Original Pancake House 4/5

No. I'm not referring to IHOP. This is the Original Pancake House. And no, not the ORIGINAL Original Pancake House, which first opened in Oregon. I mean the Original Pancake House in California. This one is hidden behind a EZ-Lube, so for a long time, I drove past the sign and never knew where it was. I had heard about their famous apple pancakes and Dutch babies. They've been getting rave reviews and pictures showed their decadence and enormity. I'd been really dying to try this place out. Finally, a reunion with two of my high school friends gave me the chance to eat here.

The wait was not too long. We came on a weekday morning, but I heard that weekend mornings are super crowded. The three of us were seated and we looked through the menu. I figured the apple pancake and Dutch baby were too big for me to eat alone, so I opted for their Western Omelette, which comes with three buttermilk pancakes. I wanted to save the omelette for lunch. One friend ordered Canadian bacon and eggs, which also came with buttermilk pancakes; and the other ordered the Eggs Benedict, which came with potato pancakes (latkes) and applesauce and sour cream for toppings.

Western Omelette

When my order came out, they set down an omelette the size of a dinosaur egg. It was seriously daunting! In it was ham and diced tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. Cheese was $1 extra, but the flavor was good enough that it didn't need the cheese. When I ate it for lunch (finishing the whole thing), I felt full enough to last the rest of the day without food! It was literally a 2 pound omelette (I weighed myself after, no joke). The pancakes were good too. I spread each with some butter and topped them with syrup. Too bad they don't have the wide selection of syrups that IHOP has, but it was good and fluffy.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Another look at the Western Omelette

My friends really enjoyed their dishes. The one who ordered the Canadian bacon plate also got the seasonal melon to share with us. They brought out a delicious half of a cantaloupe. When my friend took a bite of her Eggs Benedict, pure bliss covered her face. It was messy over her fingers, but she really was relishing it. Must have been real good.

All in all, I'd say this place is tasty and the service is fast and nice. Next time, I'll have to come back with a couple of people to try the apple pancake. It's a mountain that beckons to be scaled!

Procrastination and Ginger-Steamed Fish

I've done quite a bit of baking and cooking and visited a couple of restaurants since my last post. I've been meaning to post, but I just keep putting it off. Procrastination. Not just in doing schoolwork, but even in easy hobbies such as this blog. I suppose I just need to get into the habit of it. I'll first start out with the first thing I made since my last post.

Seafood really isn't my thing, except for fish. While up at the University last year, I would make an effort to go to the dining commons when they said they would have their Japanese Ginger Baked Fish. There are some things that the dining halls do right, and this was one of them. I can't remember exactly how it tasted, but the sauce was good in that dark salty way, and the fish was tender. I wanted to reproduce it at home.

The dish at the dining hall was usually served with rice. If you know me, I would usually choose rice over noodles just because it makes everything easier to eat. You just toss everything together, shove a spoon in, and you get a neat round of everything in the dish. With noodles, you have to pick at everything separately because things don't stick as well. Despite my pickiness, I had been wanting to use up my soba noodles I bought a couple years back. I still had 3 bundles left and thought it would go all right with the dish since it's Japanese.

The recipe is Ginger-Steamed Fish with Stir-Fried Veggies. I replaced zucchini with broccoli and doubled the sauce so I could marinate the fish in it as well. I also, thanks to my mom's help, mixed chopped ginger with the fish to give it more of that warm flavor. My mom was such a big help. I could never have cut everything as skillfully and quickly as she did. If I had done everything myself, I probably wouldn't have eaten that night until 10 pm! In the end, the fish came out SUPER juicy because I steamed it in a bowl inside the steamer. It came out in a pool of its juices mixed with the sauce and ginger. Each bite released the flavorful liquid, which was reinforced with the sauce in the vegetables. It was all right with the noodles, which were a bit too slippery. Next time, I think I'll stick with rice.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I absolutely love pumpkin. Ralph's, year-round, has these amazing Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. My mom first found these 2 years ago. They are huge and so light. We fell in love with them. I don't know how Ralph's does it, but they are heaven in your mouth. I wanted to try my hand at them last year and found a recipe on This year, I made another batch, but did the whole recipe this time, coming out with 55 cookies! I gave bags away to 4 friends and family. Everyone enjoyed it. My family loves how these cookies are so fluffy. My sister said they are like pillows! Baking it for 13 minutes rather than 15 keeps the soft texture.

The recipe can be found here (I didn't use walnuts). I used an ice cream scooper to try and keep all of my cookies a uniform size. I also never have nutmeg, so I threw in some ground ginger and cloves. Nutmeg would be nice to have one day...Oh, and I also changed half whole wheat flour and half brown sugar, just so I could get my favorite nutty, hearty flavor in there. Pumpkin may be associated with the autumn holidays, but this shows that pumpkin is a treat to be enjoyed throughout the year!

Monday, July 6, 2009

White and Wheat Snickerdoodles

I love holidays. They are the perfect excuses for me to bake sweets for fun. I'm always in for some good exploration in baking, and July 4th just happens to come along. I have a book at home from Pillsbury called, "Cookies, Brownies, and Bars," and it's a fabulous collection of these baked goods. Everything in there sounds and looks delectable. One of the ones I've been itching to make is their Wheat Snickerdoodles. I absolutely love things with cinnamon, and to have it paired with a sugar cookie??? Fantastic creation, truly. And, now, Pillsbury has the genius to add wheat flour to the recipe to add that hint of nuttiness and heartiness that I love. I just had to make these things.

It was rather quick to make, I just couldn't find my cream of tartar, so I switched it with equivalent fresh lime juice. The recipe said to roll it into balls then roll these in cinnamon sugar, but the dough was too sticky to do so. I added some extra flour to the dough to try to make it pliable, but it still was sticky. Instead, I just plopped tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheets and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar over them. I was really happy taking them out of the oven: I didn't burn them! :D When you first take a bite, it takes a second for the flavor to hit you, but when it does...Mmmm!!! It takes so good. The buttery sugary goodness is heaven in the form of a cookie. Enjoy!

White and Wheat Snickerdoodles (adapted from Pillsbury)
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla and eggs.
2. Stir in both flours, lime juice, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
3. Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Drop dough by tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets, 2 inches apart, and attempt to mold into round shapes. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
4. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheets immediately and let cool on rack. Serves 30.