Craved Creations

craved creation: bazooka limon guacamole

Bazooka Limon Guacamole

Last month for my birthday we went to a great Mexican restaurant, El Vez, in the city with some friends. I had been there a couple times in the past for drinks, but had never had any food, so I was pretty psyched to try it out finally.

Something they’re known for is the many varieties of guacamole they offer — so obviously we had to get one! We ended up getting their “bazooka” limon guac as our appetizer and my world was subsequently changed forever.

I have to admit that the many, many times I’ve enjoyed guacamole in my life, it’s been pretty straight-forward. No unusual ingredients or textures, but usually the classic avocados, lime, cilantro, onion and garlic. On the other hand, this guac from El Vez had crazy things like goat cheese, fire-roasted tomatoes, chili flakes and pistachios in it — what?! Yes.

This left me no choice, I had to make this again at home.

Guac Prep

  1. Pull together your ingredients: avocados, limes, fire-roasted tomatoes, cilantro, goat cheese, red onion, garlic, pistachios and chili flakes
  2. Dice avocados and add to a mixing bowl
  3. Add lime juice, salt, pepper, chopped cilantro, diced onion and minced garlic
  4. Mix ingredients until well combined and guac is somewhat chunky in texture (i.e. to mash avocados completely)
  5. Add chili flakes and mix because you forgot to initially include them in the beginning — oops!
  6. Add your special guests to the party — diced tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and chopped pistachios — mix until just combined
  7. Serve guac topped with more tomatoes, goat cheese, pistachios and fried garlic slices

I’ve been refraining from saying this the whole time, but holy guacamoleyou have to try this recipe, it’s too good not to try. The goat cheese and fire-roasted tomatoes add a nice rich element that I would never think to pair with avocado, but work surprisingly well together. Then the pistachios, conceptually a strange addition, but it definitely adds a great textural element to an otherwise smooth food, so I’m definitely a fan!

It’s a bit early for Cinco de Mayo, but you should definitely tuck this one away for a fun celebration or when you’re having guests over or when you’re going to a potluck — it’s definitely special. Also, if you’re in the Philly area, you can stop by El Vez for some of their other guac offerings, if not you can certainly get a taste of it with this!

Bazooka Limon Guacamole Bazooka Limon Guacamole

craved creation: pistachio crème brûlée

Pistachio Creme Brûlée

I am not sure what’s come over me in the past couple of years, but I have slowly been transitioning from a love for salty flavors to a love for anything sweet and sugary! As such, I have slowly gone from the girl that would never blink at the arrival of a dessert menu to the girl that eagerly awaits its arrival.

While most of the time I eat so much that I never order anything even though I love looking, I sometimes make it a point to save some room for something sweet.

One dessert I have been blown away by is the pistachio crème brûlée at Spring Mill Cafe. On paper it doesn’t sound like anything too special… pistachio. crème. brûlée. — no fancy caramel drizzles or chocolate twills or dollops of whipped cream or dustings of cocoa or etc etc — just pistachio infused custard and burnt sugar…

Well my friend, sometimes it’s the simple things that are the best things — and this dessert is simple yet outrageously delicious. I knew this would soon be a craved creation and here it is!

Pistachio Creme Brûlée Ingredients

It was fairly easy to make, it’s more of a waiting game (letting the pistachios steep in the cream, baking the custard and letting it set while chilling in the fridge) than anything else. That said, there is some special equipment involved in this recipe:

  • Nut-milk bag for draining the cream from the ground pistachios (you can substitute a non-terry kitchen towel if you’d like)
  • Gratin dishes or ramikens for baking the custards
  • Kitchen torch for the top coat of sugar — let it burn!

Pistachio Creme Brûlée Prep

This was amazing. I enjoyed this snuggled up on the couch watching a movie and it all just felt so right.

If you like pistachios, you’ll love this pistachio crème brûlée. And if you aren’t in the mood to make it for yourself, stop by Spring Mill Cafe for a delicious dinner followed up with this decadent dessert!

cremeend2Pistachio Creme Brûlée

 

 

craved creation: pretzel bread

Pretzel Bread

One afternoon on a lazy, sunny summer day, Mirza and I walked around the city looking for somewhere to have lunch. A few blocks into our walk, we decided to eat at Smith & Wollensky. I had never been there before, but their menu sounded delicious and I was excited to try something new!

Given the lovely weather, we decided to sit outside with the buzz of the city and the warmth of the sun. We were both pretty hungry, so we quickly placed our orders and sat patiently chatting and people watching waiting for a morsel of food to show up at the table. Then it happened

(long dramatic pause)

Our server brought us a warm basket of pretzel bread and mustard butter.

Maybe you’re sitting there wondering what the big deal is — well if so, you obviously have not had them!!

Now, living all my life within a relative vicinity of Philadelphia, the pretzel is no stranger to my diet. But this warm, doughy pretzel bread accompanied with a whole grain mustard butter, this was something different. Something worth writing (home) about…

Well, it’s months later and I’ve finally done it! I was a little intimidated at first — I’d never made a pretzel before, let alone pretzel bread, but I found this great recipe and whipped up some honey mustard butter that seemed pretty straight forward and was well on my way to salty, buttery heaven!

pretzelprep3

pretzelbreadprep4

So, it was a bit of a process — but I was surprised that despite the number of steps, it was not as difficult to make as I initially thought it would be.

When the pretzel bread came out of the oven, I immediately slathered the honey mustard butter on the warm roll… 5 minutes later, I had eaten 2 rolls before realizing I still needed to take pictures* of the finished product. Sigh.

They tasted so similar to the pretzel bread we had at Smith & Wollensky; I was beyond ecstatic over the end result! I will definitely use this recipe again and again!

*Since I left the memory card for my camera at Mirza’s, I was left using my iPhone for this post’s pictures — womp womp — hope you find them alright!

pretzelbreade

Pretzel Bread Bite

craved creation: beth-mex wings

Beth-Mex Wings

I have been living in Philadelphia for a little over 3 years now and the exposure to amazing restaurants and delicious foods is endless. That said, I still find myself occasionally missing some of the restaurants/foods in Bethlehem from my college years…sigh.

One place I liked to frequent was this one Mexican restaurant, Tulum. It’s a tiny little restaurant (seats about 10-15 people) that is big on burritos and a few other “Beth-Mex” offerings.

Even though a lot of people go there for their burritos, I almost never got a burrito because I was too obsessed with their Beth-Mex Wings! The sweet and smokey sauce that coats the wings is incredible. I have never had another wing sauce like it before — and have yet to find anything similar to it anywhere else — so it can be a bit of a bummer when I crave them and I’m over an hour away. So, I was left with the option of trying to make the wing sauce on my own and I was amazed at how close I came!

wings

Uncooked Chicken Wings Cooked Chicken Wings

Wings Prep

I knew for a fact that the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce were the base of their sauce; it’s just a distinct flavor that can’t be mistaken for anything else. It was the other ingredients that I was more or less experimenting with. I added some honey for sweetness and some other flavors like garlic, lime and cayenne.

As for making the wings, I didn’t fry them like I know Tulum does, but I just didn’t want to use all that oil for a batch of wings and figured the oven would be a  healthier alternative anyway. I coated the wings in baking powder (weird right? but I swear it helps them brown and crisp in the oven!) and vegetable oil and baked them at a really high heat so they would still be crispy.

These wings were definitely as close as I think I could possibly get to matching Tulum’s wing sauce — needless to say, I was ecstatic!

You have to try this wing sauce out if you enjoy buffalo wings. They’re spicy and sweet and amazing. Plus, we’re in the thick of football season, so what better time to make some wings?!

Do you have a favorite wing sauce?

Beth-Mex Wings

craved creation: wild mushroom salad

Craved Creation: Wild Mushroom Salad

Almost every Friday night I work at Spring Mill Cafe, an amazing French BYO restaurant. It’s set in an old general store that gives the restaurant a very rustic and charming feel. As for the food, the menu changes 4 times a year, with the seasons, and never disappoints — it’s seriously delicious.

One of my favorite things that was on the menu for a long time was the wild mushroom salad. I know it doesn’t sound (errrr…read?) like much, but you’ll just have to trust me that it’s better than words can describe.

I have made this salad numerous times at home and have tweaked it along the way to end up with a close replica.

Wild Mushroom Salad Ingredients

The thing I probably had to tweak the most was the mustard vinaigrette that dresses the salad. There’s a good amount of mustard in the dressing, but it’s whole grain mustard (as opposed to the vinaigrette go-to: dijon mustard) so it’s not as potent and balances nicely with the right amount of lemon juice and olive oil.

Since the wild mushroom salad is not on the current Fall menu (the new spinach & squash salad is worth a visit), you can try my recipe for a taste!

Wild Mushroom Salad

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