The Perfect Gift For Your Foodie Friend

For your foodie friend or friends try a cute little gift of a vintage Ball Jar Coffee Mill, you can bet that no one else he or she knows will have one- making it a rare gift that will most definitely bring out some "ooohs" and "ahhhhs". Go a step further for your foodie friend and wrap the gift in dessert themed wrapping paper! How cute is that!

Ball Jar Coffee Mill

Made with cast iron hopper and adjustable grinder with a walnut wood handle. The mill which measured 9" in height and 6" in diameter can hold up to 500 ml ground beans which is about 4-5 cups of drip coffee.

Cavallini Sweet Treats Wrapping Paper

$3.95 for 20" x 28" the Sweet Treats wrapping paper is print on Italian acid free paper.

Cooking At Home: Apple Blueberry Crumble a la Mode

I contribute my recent renewed enthusiasm to baking to being six-weeks pregnant (with my first child! Yay!) The next nine months should be quite fun, pickle pie? Anchovy cookies anyone? Just kidding - for now.

Last night in order to fulfill my dessert and baking needs I hit the web for some tasty recipes and when I couldn't find one on the web that seemed delicious enough I hit the many books on my Cooking bookshelf, and there in one of Ina Garten's cookbooks I found inspiration.

In Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home Cookbook I looked over her recipe for her Peach & Blueberry Crumble dessert, and however great it would have been to make this exact recipe there were two problems: the first, I really had set my heart on an apple dessert (and you can't mess with a pregnant lady's dessert) and second, it's not peach season- so no peaches to be found... anywhere!  And that's how I came to make the Apple Blueberry Crumble a la Mode instead.

With a scoop of cold vanilla bean ice cream the crumble is absolutely delicious! The fruit is not too sweet (thank goodness for this) because the crumble (which is heavenly) is sweet enough, the french vanilla ice cream gives it that creamy texture as well as a freshness to the entire dish (as all al mode dishes seem to be) but most importantly the french vanilla ice cream simply rounds out the whole dish, adding a little bit of sweetness to the fruit and taking a little bit of sweetness from the crumble- all in the best way possible.


For the fruit
1).  Small green apples (Granny Smith) peeled, cored and sliced into wedges - make sure you have enough apples to fill your pie-plate or other bakeware. I mounded my apples slightly but this is optional.
2).  1/2 pint of blueberries
3).  French Vanilla Ice Cream (you can go crazy and do homemade but I found that Trader Joe's Vanilla ice-cream totally does the trick)
4).  1/2 -1 tsp Cinnamon 
5).  Zest of 1/2 lemon
6).  Juice of 3/4 of a lemon
7).  1/4 - 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
8).  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
9).  Pinch of nutmeg

For the Crumble
1).  1 cup all-purpose flour
2).  1/3 cup granulated sugar
3).  1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
4).  1/2 tsp kosher salt
5).  1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6).  1/4 pound (1 stick) gold unsalted butter, diced


1).  In a large bowl toss the apples with cinnamon, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, flour and nutmeg.
2).  Then carefully fold in the blueberries.
3).  Allow the fruit mixture to sit for 5 minutes (I begin to preheat my oven to 350 degrees at this time, and also prepare my crumble which takes more than 5 minutes but that doesn't seem to really matter).

4).  For the crumble, combine in large bowl the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter. If you have an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment you may want to bust it out at this time and mix the flour mixture on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. If you do not have an electric mixer, like me, grab a wooden spoon and start mixing.
5).  Once the butter is the size of small peas, rub the mixture with your fingers, big crumbles will begin to form (or in my case, not so much, there were more little crumbs than big crumbles. I simple took a bit in my hands and squeezed it together to form clumps of crumbles- this is something you can do too if you're having a hard time with forming large crumbles by rubbing with your fingertips).

6).  Pour the fruit mixture and it's juices into your bakeware.
7).  Top the fruit with the crumble (I tried to get as much on there because I always love the bready parts of pies, the crumble is really fantastic so you'll want to put as much on there- just fyi).
8).  Bake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, if after 45 minutes you don't see juices bubbling then keep your pie in the oven for another 5-10 minutes (basically, you want to see juices bubbling, I found that if you take the pie out before juices are bubbling the apples although very hard may still be semi hard, so in order to insure softer apples wait until you see juices bubbling before you take the pie out, plus, your crumble should be golden brown- so if those two things haven't happened in 45 minutes than your pie can cook a little longer).

Serve with a large scoop of Vanilla ice-cream and get ready to say, "OMG, that totally hits the spot!"

Vintage Recipe Cards from IceMilk Aprons

I'm a huge lover of pretty much anything vintage so when I saw these vintage cards available at IceMilk Aprons the first word that popped into my head was "darling!"  You can probably easily make these vintage cards yourself but if you lack the time and the motivation now you know where to find them.  They would make a great gift for your fellow foodie friends, and Christmas is right around the corner.

Le Pain Quotidien: Chicken Tortilla Soup perfect for a gloomy day

On a chilly weekend morning Mr. Borscht and I found ourselves sitting out on the back patio of Le Pain Quotidien, once again. The cold air made it a terrible day for my usual bowl of cold Gazpacho, so I maneuvered myself into a Chicken Tortilla Soup mood which wasn't hard in the least bit given the gloomy weather. Chicken Tortilla Soup that is tomatoey and loaded with vegetables as well as pieces of chicken, all afloat in a chicken broth full of flavor. With just the right amount of flavors and spice, and hearty (yet not overly hearty) the Chicken Tortilla Soup is something to be had... especially on a chilly day, it's the type of soup that can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The Damage:  $7.50 +/-
1 Chicken Tortilla Soup, bowl size

Le Pain Quotidien
113 N. Larchmont
LA CA 90004
(323) 461.7701

The Battle of The Dumplings

It's the battle of the dumplings! A fight to the death! < okay, that was a little over-kill, but I can't help but imagine little dumplings with eyeballs, armed with swords dueling it out.

Last month I went ahead and did a product review on Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers (which is actually very tasty), this gave me the idea to put Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers to the ultimate test: how does TJ's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers do against an Asian brand of frozen potstickers.  So here it is, the battle of the dumplings: TJ's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers VS CJ Vegetable & Meat Dumplings. CJ's, by the way, is a Korean brand for those of you who are unaware.

Nutritional Value of: Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Dumplings / CJ Veg & Meat Dumpling
TJ's (left) / CJ's (right)

Let's begin with the nutrition comparisons of the two brands, this is a comparison of the calories, calories from fat, saturated fat, sodium, total carbohydrate and sugars from total carbohydrates with the serving size in mind. Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers nutritional facts is based upon a larger serving size (TJ's serving size 7 potstickers while CJ's serving size is 5 pieces), while even having a higher serving size Trader Joe's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers still has less calories, way less calories from fat and way less total fat. However cholesterol is higher with TJ's and also is way higher in the amount of sodium used. So there is a balancing act that needs to be done here when deciding whether or not to go for TJ's or CJ's based upon nutritional facts, one must consider one's own priorities regarding health: more fat and calories for less sodium and cholesterol? Or vice-versa.

Trader Joe's
Chicken Gyoza Potstickers

The Chicken Gyoza Potstickers by and from Trader Joe's are easy to make and delicious. The meat is sweet, flavorful and juicy while the dumpling skins have the perfect texture and thickness. These potstickers can be added to soups, fried and steamed, but fried seems to be the best way to cook them and eat them (I have tried all three ways and found that these dumplings can't hold very well in broth and just don't taste as good steamed).

CJ  (Korean brand)
Vegetable & Meat Dumpling

The Korean brand, CJ's Vegetable & meat dumplings which I was able to buy at my local Korean Market blew me away. The flavor reminded me of true Korean dumplings, the glass noodles, meat and spices just reminded me the tastes of authentic Asian dumplings.


THE WINNER: CJ's Vegetable & Meat Dumplings

The cooking directions for CJ's Vegetable & Meat dumplings are exactly the same as the cooking directions for TJ's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers: Oil the pan, brown the dumplings, add a little bit of water to the pan, cover the pan with a lid and allow the dumplings to steam for a few minutes - pretty simple.

The first thing I noticed when cooking CJ's dumplings was that a couple of the dumpling skins were falling apart (which I totally hate), I was already beginning to make up my mind that TJ's Chicken Gyoza Potstickers was the dumpling for me. However, when I took a bite into the first CJ's dumplings a rush of nostalgia ran over me from head-to-toe, I was a bit hesitant to simply be overtaken so easily but there was no doubt about it, when it comes to dumplings CJ's totally wins. The flavor of CJ's dumplings are truer to that of the real thing, perhaps it is the glass noodles and/or asian spices that are used, whatever it is it brought me closer to home than TJ's dumplings was able to, and that was the real test.

*Extra side note
Even though I really dislike that the dumpling skins on a couple of the CJ's dumplings didn't hold very well during cooking time I have to admit that the crunch created on the CJ's dumplings opposed to TJ's dumplings were better, this may be due to the thicker skins on the CJ's dumplings.


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