February 26, 2012

Ara's Pastry

I've been living at where I am now for about 6 years now. I had no idea this place existed. It wasn't until a coworker of mine moved to the area a couple of months ago and told me I should stop by here. Funny how these things work out.

The coworker that put me on to this place is a lovely young lady name Korina. And you know what? Korina is the bomb!  A little crazy, a little sassy, and doesn't take shit from anyone. I told her that she's wifey material. But I think she already knew that. :) Did I mention that she's a cutie pie? See for yourself.

Now back to the biz at hand. I walked in this place and they had a circular display case with a bunch of cakes. Here are a couple of them.

I thought the cakes looked good. When you get past this first case, you will see about 3 or 4 large display cases filled with all sorts of cookies and cakes and pastries. Really, there is a lot going in there. And all of it looked good.

Here is a shot of one of the cases.

I was gonna take more pics, but I still feel really weird taking pictures in restaurants or eateries. I always have this fear that someone working there is going to see me and yell "HEY! You can't do that here! Get the fuck out!" and chase me out of there wielding a bat or clever. I'm pretty sure that won't happen, but it's still in the back of my mind.

My eyes and stomach were drawn to the case with all the cake slices. If you can think of a type of cake, it was in there. I bought three slices: Chocolate Mousse, Tiramisu, and Apricot. Those slices cost me a whopping $5!!! That's it!! I was really surprised at how inexpensive it was.

Here is what the slices looked like.

I took them home and tried each one. All of them had really light, airy sponge cake. Not heavy at all. Each had good flavor, but my favorite was the Apricot. Really light and refreshing. The almonds on the side added texture and nutty undertones to the bright fruit. Really good.

My least favorite was the tiramisu. It wasn't bad, just not that great. The other two just shined a lot brighter.

You know what? I was diggin' that little pastry shop. I know I'm gonna be back there. If you want to go there yourself, here is the address:

2227 W. Ball Rd.
Anaheim, CA 92804

That's it for now. Hang Loose my friends!

J. Miller

February 22, 2012


"When it comes to gettin' bread I got the keys to the bakery." That is the opening line to the song "Poppin' my Collar" by Three 6 Mafia. I thought that was fitting for this post. Plus it's a cool song. What I'm working my way up to is the simple fact that I love bread. And the great thing is I know I'm not alone in this. Need proof? Go to your grocery store. There is at least one aisle dedicated to just bread.

As much as I like eating bread, I get the most pleasure from making it. There are lots of fun ways to cook in the kitchen. Baking always felt right with me. When I first started making breads in culinary school, I knew that was a perfect fit. It just seemed so cool to start with ingredients that will do nothing on their own and create something so wonderful.

I also know that making bread is like kryptonite to many cooks, be it professional or at home. If you were to tell someone "Bake bread or get shot in the arm!", they would probably load the gun for you. Seriously, most people are scared shitless to make bread. Logically, we shouldn't fear bread. Humans have been making bread for a VERY long time. Long before Kitchen Aid. Long before electricity. If the ancient man could figure out how to make bread, I'm pretty sure the modern man with mixers and youtube can manage just fine.

If you are feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at bread making, my advice is start with pizza dough. There are tons of recipes out there for it. It's also a very straight forward recipe. You can produce pizza dough in just a couple hours. No overnight resting needed.

Before I get down to business, there is one last little topic I want to bring up. That is aroma. People always talk about how good bacon smells being cooked. To me, NOTHING beats the smell of fresh baked bread coming out the oven. The whole house is just perfumed with the awesome aroma of bread. Especially if you happen to make a herb bread. It just can't be beat.

Now, as we start this journey from dough to bread, lets get some issues out the way. First off, this is not a short process. It took around 3 hours to complete. These things take time and there's no getting around this. Second, I couldn't get all the pics I wanted because I only have two hands. There are times when I needed both hands for kneading, so I'm gonna try and explain as best I can.

Here is the recipe for Rosemary Bread:

3/4 oz                            Active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups                     Warm water
1 1/2 tbs                        Sugar
1/3 cup                          Olive Oil
2 tbs                              Freshly chopped rosemary
1 tbs                              Salt
1lb 4oz                          Bread Flour
                                     Egg wash

First thing to do is mix your yeast with warm water and about 1/2 the sugar. The water should not be piping hot. It will kill the yeast. If you need exact temps, it should be between 90 and 115 degrees Farenheit. Stir well and let sit about 5 to 7 minutes. It should be bubbly and foamy.
While the yeast is doing its thing, get all your other ingredients together.
The only thing not pictured is the olive oil.

Once the yeast has bloomed, add in all the dry ingredients and the olive oil. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and start on the slowest speed. Once it looks like everything is combined, turn it up to a medium speed and mix for about 8 to 10 minutes.

As it's mixing, you are gonna see some things happen. It's gonna look like a thick batter at first. Then it's gonna start clinging to the hook and looking more and more like a dough. Near the end, the sides of the bowl should be about clean and most of the dough will be climbing up the hook. When this starts to happen, turn off the mixer and reach in there to scrape down the dough. Turn the mixer back on if you are not at the set mixing time.

When done, the dough should have a somewhat smooth surface and not be too sticky to the touch. It should look something like this.

When the dough is done, drop it on a very lightly floured board and knead a little to round it out to a nice ball. This part is a little tough to describe, so please forgive me if it sounds incredibly stupid. You know how guys will gesture with their hands to describe a girls phat ass? Kind of a circular motion starting from top to bottom? That is the kind of motion you need to do to round out the dough.

Now get a bowl and pour enough olive oil in there to coat the sides and bottom. Drop your dough in the bowl top first and then flip over. You want to make sure the top is covered in oil so it doesn't form a skin.

Now you cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a bench towel, and come back in a half hour. It should double in size and look like this.

From here you will punch the dough down to release the gasses.

Now cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. This time, after you punch the dough down the second time, take the dough out of the bowl and drop on your cutting board. Use a paper towel to get some of the excess oil off the dough. Cut the dough in half and round out each half into a tight ball. How well you round it this time will show when it comes out the oven. So no half steppin' this time!

When the dough is rounded, place on a lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash.

Now you have to let the dough rest for another30 to 40 minutes. Or until it has increased in size to a little less than double original size. When it has reached the right size, get a good serrated knife and score the top with 3 cuts, like this.

Now place in a pre heated 400 degree farenheit oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Mine was done at 35 minutes. They say to check to see if your bread is done, it should sound hollow if you tap on the bottom of it. That's what I did to test mine, but I'm not afraid of burning myself either. If you don't want to pick up piping hot bread from your oven, just go with 35 minutes. Here is what it looked like out the oven.

Like a good steak, you can't cut into these things right away. Difference is you have to wait longer with bread. I waited about a half hour. I think that was a little too soon, but I couldn't take it anymore! The whole house smelled like sweet rosemary. I was going nuts! But it came out awesome! So savory and warm. This was made to sop up sauce! Or make a beautiful panini sandwich.

Here's a couple more pics to get the blood flowing south of the border!

This has been a hell of a journey. If you stuck around for the whole thing, mad props to ya! I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. And if this inspires you to try your hand at bread, I know you will not regret it.

Until next time,

J. Miller

February 15, 2012


WooHoo! Another food review! Yay!!! Ugh...OK, this is like the 3rd straight review. It feels like it's been a while since I've made anything for the blog. Don't worry, your boy here will get his big ass back in the kitchen soon enough. For right now, enjoy this little tidbit from my latest excursion to the Alcatraz Brewing Co. located at The Outlets at Orange. F.Y.I.: The Block is now The Outlets. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

The reason I went to this restaurant in the first place was because I was looking for one meal in specific: Fish and Chips. As much as I love beer battered fish, I rarely order it and never make it. There can be a lot of pit falls when it comes to the English classic. If you don't fry it right, it will be a big grease ball. A lot of places just don't give you that much to begin with. If you make it at home, you got a big pot of oil you gotta deal with. And the worst scenario you might have to deal with is getting served bad fish, which has happened to me.

All the cons aside, when done right, fish and chips make a great meal. I had a taste for it, and knew this place had some decent seafood dishes on their menu. Plus, they make their own beer there. I'm always up for a good beer.  :-)

When I got there, I grabbed their menu and first checked out the beer section. They had a few limited-time-only brews and decided to go with one of those. The Strawberry Wheat Ale is the one I went with. I had never had fruity beer before, but this one was very good. I didn't know how strong the berry taste was gonna be, but you get just a hint as the opening taste. It finished really clean. Not too hoppy. Good, refreshing beer. If you know someone that isn't too crazy about beer, have them taste this one. It might change their mind.

Before I got down with the deep fried cod, I ordered a cup of clam chowder.

I liked it, but I thought the overall taste wasn't as rich as it could have been. I liked that there were big chunks of clam in there. But it seemed like it was missing that one little thing to really seal the deal. Not bad, though.

Now for the main course.

Not a bad lookin' plate. Two perfectly cooked pieces of fish. Well cooked french fries..excuse me, CHIPS. House made coleslaw and tartar sauce. Not too shabby. Except for one little thing. This plate cost me $15. I'm not a total cheap bastard and $15 bucks isn't going to break me. But most places will give you this same fare for around $10. For as much as I paid, I was expecting 2 monster pieces of fish. The fish tasted great, no problems there. But don't try and stuff me on fries when I'm really paying for FISH!!!

The slaw and tartar sauce were just average, nothing too crazy there.

Yeah, I won't be ordering that again at Alcatraz. I'll probably be back for happy hour though. Care to join me?

J. Miller

February 12, 2012

Tra Teahouse 

Hi Everybody! Now you yell "Hi Dr. Nick!". I'm a huge Simpson fan, in case that joke makes no sense to you. Well my friends, here we are with a review of a little tea house I found while cruising around on a day off from work. I really happened to find this place by accident. I parked my car in a strip mall and just walked around looking for a spot to have a quick lunch. Is this how I normally go about looking for food? No. But I like doing this sometimes just to see what else is out there.

Before I get into the juicy details of this tea house, I wanna touch back on something that I mentioned in my very first blog: Food Reviews.

I knew when I started this that I didn't want it to be strictly reviews. I didn't want to be associated with all these other assholes out there bashing restaurants with witty catch phrases trying to be the next Anthony Bourdain. I just wanted to let everyone take a peek at what I like.

Personally, I don't like reviewing stuff from national food chains. You can pick up a newspaper and find reviews on that stuff. I like trying the hole-in-the-wall spots for numerous reasons. Problem is, there are millions of blogs out there all doing the same thing. I know I'm not exactly blazing a new trail here, but I'd like to think that I'm giving the reader something to look forward to 2 times a week.

One last remark on this issue is that I'm certainly not going the Andrew Zimmerman route. If you think for a second that I'm gonna be eating bull scrotum or sewer rat or whatever else that mofo eats, you can forget about it!

With that off my chest, it's time to get down to business.

My first impressions as I walked in were very good. Colorful art along the walls and upbeat music quickly gave the place a very welcoming feel. The patrons varied in age from teens to middle-aged adults. Everyone there, including employees, seemed to be in good spirits. If you have ever been in a place where the people working there seemed like they were all a few minutes away from eating a bullet, you know how important positive attitudes can be.

They have a healthy size menu with lots of drink options and a short list of hot finger foods you can order. Next to the register they have small pastries that didn't look too bad at all.

After talking with the girl at the register for a second, I ordered their Cajun Garlic Fries and one of their signature drinks called The New Yorker. The New Yorker was a black tea drink flavored with peach and lychee with diced strawberry.

I didn't have to wait too long for the food and drink. When it was done, they brought it to the table I was at. Here is what I was looking at.

The drink was good. A bit sweeter than something I would normally get, but I wanted try something besides ice coffee. The white at the bottom of the cup was the lychee. If you like boba drinks, you will be at home with this one. Overall, it was a refreshing drink. The peach and lychee is a good combo I might have to steal that for a dessert.

The fries were ok...at first. Let me explain. As I first started eating the ones off the top, they were just alright. I didn't think they were seasoned enough. But as I dug a little deeper, I found these bits of garlic and parsley at the bottom of the tray. Now we were in business. All those goodies at the bottom were awesome. Pinch of garlic and a few fries, I was very happy in pants!

After spiking my blood sugar and breath reeking of garlic, it was time for me to go. I gotta say that I enjoyed my short little time there. I know I'm gonna stop by there next time I'm in that area. Here's one last picture of Tra Teahouse.

Here's the address:
14291 Euclid St
Ste D105

Garden GroveCA 92843

That's it for this one. Until next time my friends!

J. Miller

February 8, 2012

The Steakhouse Burger

I think this one will be on the shorter side. Mainly because I'm not sure how long I could really drag this one out for. I'm all for details, but sometimes a quick, straight to the point answer is all you want.

The picture above is the steakhouse burger from Red Robin. If you watch t.v. enough or pass by enough fast food places, you'll notice that lots of places are serving up some kind of steakhouse or smokehouse burger. Nine times out of ten, these steakhouse burgers will have the same ingredients from place to place. You will usually find fried onions, mushrooms, blue cheese, and maybe a steak sauce on there. This one happened to have all of them.

Now, I like Red Robin. They got good burgers and great clam chowder. But the night I went, I wasn't looking for a burger. I really wanted a club sandwich. I was shocked to see that they didn't have one on their menu! OK, I wasn't shocked. Pissed would be a better way to describe it. How could a burger joint, which is basically a fancy sandwich joint, NOT have a club sandwich on their menu? Mutha fuckas!

Anyway, I get my burger with a side of sweet potato fries and dig in. The fries are good. I dig sweet potatoes and am happy that I went with them. The burger was...OK at best. There was nothing about it that really did anything for me. The burger itself was cooked perfectly. The crispy fried onions were cool. But I didn't like the steak sauce on there. The menu said that it had a mix of horseradish and blue cheese on there. I barely tasted any horseradish on that thing. 

On a side note, I must tell you that I don't like steak sauces. If you bring me a bottle of A1, you might have it thrown back at you. Steaks don't need a sauce. A little salt and pepper, and let the steak speak for itself. Unless I'm at some swanky steakhouse and the chef has a house made sauce specially made, fuhgetaboutit!

I did order a drink there called the T.N.T. It was good. If I wasn't driving, I would've ordered a few of them.

Even though this burger didn't do much for me, I still would go back to Red Robin because I know their classic burgers always deliver. Plus they got a nice bar. 

That's it for now. Come back soon for more of my little food adventures.

Thanks for stopping by,

J. Miller

February 6, 2012

Biscuits & Gravy 

What can I really say about this dish that hasn't already been said? It's comfort food. It's classic. It sticks to your ribs. And the other night, it was dinner.

When it comes down to it, I'm a simple creature. It doesn't take a whole lot to please me. People think that because I'm a chef, I eat gourmet every night. Not the case! I'm a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. Keep it simple, and it ain't getting much more simple than this.

If you've never made this before, no worries, I'll walk you through it. And if you don't trust me, you can turn on food network and probably see your favorite jack-ass doing his or her version of it. In fact, it might sound something like this: "Hi, I'm (Your name here), and today I'm gonna make biscuits and gravy. Using my pets for inspiration, I'm gonna add smoked kitty litter to the biscuits and sprinkle charred cat shit over the gravy."  I think I might have heard Paula Deen say that.

Anyway, no recipe needed for this one. Make gravy, make biscuits, done. I'll explain what I did to the best that I can remember. For the gravy, I started by making a bechamel sauce. Basically you start with a roux and add milk. What's a roux? Butter and flour, equal parts. I cooked the roux until it got just a little bit of color. Normally, you don't want any color in the roux for a bechamel. But I don't like rules. I'm gonna put my spin on this, without the cat droppings!

Once the roux looked good, I added some salt, pepper, and chopped garlic. Honestly, I didn't intend the roux to get that color, but I was also on the phone and not paying attention. It still came out good.

At this point, I cranked up the heat and started stirring the milk in. From there I added a pinch of nutmeg, sage, and thyme. I've been using a lot of thyme lately. I like the super savory flavor of it. I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to get stuck on flavors. For a short time, everything I made tasted like smoked paprika. Lately, thyme has been the star of the show.

I cooked and chopped up some bacon before hand and added that to the gravy. I let it simmer and got the biscuits ready. The recipe? Not this time! I used the stuff out of the can this time around. No shame here about that!

Nothing left to do but plate up and eat! I don't think you need me to tell you how to do that. I sprinkled a little parmesan on top of  mine. All in all, I liked how it came out. I had some hot links in the fridge I could have added to it. But the sauce was rich enough. Sometimes enough is enough.

That's all for this edition of the coolest blog in southern California. And how do I know it's the coolest blog? Because I'm the coolest negro in southern California!  HAHA!

Until next time,

J. Miller

February 1, 2012

Orange Julius

First off, this isn't gonna be about the shitty drink stands in the mall that serve up shitty smoothies. Why the name for the title of this post? Because that is the name I've always known for it. Sorry, no funny story behind this one.

Now, there's no exact recipe for this because...well...it doesn't need one. This is simplicity in the purest of forms. Hell, you might have the ingredients in your refrigerator right now. Get a pen and pad ready, because it might be tough to remember all this.  Here's the ingredients:

Orange juice
Vanilla ice cream


Yeah, 2 ingredients. Throw in a blender and mix until it looks like you can drink it. Even the half-wits at your local grocery store can manage to put this one together. So no excuses people! If you got the stuff to make it, MAKE IT!

I could end it here, but there's a little somethin' I gotta get into. I love this drink. Love it! But it's something I can't indulge in very often, if at all. Reason being is that I'm the type of person who has to watch his blood sugar. As close to orgasm as this drink brings me, it would also bring me very close to an emergency room visit.

So, now you might be wondering if yours truly drank that mug up top. The answer is...YOU BET YO' MONKEY ASS I DID!!! And here is the reason why.

This is as close as I can come to it. If you don't have to worry about your blood sugar, by all means, go with the real stuff! Trust me, you will love it! Using the sugar free or less sugar stuff isn't as good as the original, but it's not a bad substitute.

I do recommend going with a vanilla bean ice cream over one that doesn't have the vanilla bean in it. As far as OJ goes, I would say go pulp free. And speaking of OJ...

That's a damn shame.

On that note, I'm out.

J. Miller