Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dahlia Bakery @ Seattle

"What's for dessert, hon?", asked A. We were driving around Belltown, after lunching at Seven Stars Pepper Schezuan, when we spotted this tiny, cozy gourmet bakery. A immediately turned the indicator on, and swung across three lanes to get to the curb (thank God there was no one behind us!).

Freshly baked bread, coconut cream pie, sandwiches, soups, salads and tons of other European desserts are a speciality here. They bake the said goods in small batches everyday. So, it is always fresh. And all of it was 50% off!!

We splurged on the European delicacies. We got one each of the Pain au chocolate, Fig Bar, Sticky Pecan Bun and the Monkey bread with Caramel Sauce. We got them to go. As we walked out of this sweet heaven, I told A that we should stop by here everytime we are Downtown.

So far, we have just tried the Monkey Bread. Awesome! The crust was crunchy and it had a cinnamony flavor.The rest of them have been sealed in air tight containers and will be consumed over the next one week. And yes, we have to add an hour more to our gym schedules.....sigh....the temptation!

Pain au Chocolate

Monkey Bread

Fig Bar & Sticky Pecan Bun

All these yummy goodies just came to $6.29 ! A sweet deal, I punned.

Update (4/19) - The fig bar was fantastic. The crust was buttery and the fig filling was not too sweet. This one definitely gets a thumbs up!

Dahlia Bakery on Urbanspoon

Seven Stars Pepper Schezuan @ Seattle

Another grey day in Seattle. Grey days call for hot and spicy food. We happened to be downtown, volunteering to cook food for the men and women's shelter. The plan was to go to International District at noon and lunch at this restaurant. Apparently, the words Pepper  and Schezuan, synonymous to Spicy, instigate delirious joy in both A & me.

We reached at around 11:45 am. Too early, I guess. There was just one other family. A nice bright restaurant with plenty of tables.

The waitress brought out Green Tea and the House Salad which had pickled cabbage, carrot and celery; tasted kinda like Kimchi. I am not a Kimchi fan and never touched it after the first bite. But, not too bad, says A.

 The green onion pancake was called for. Nicely stacked on a plate; it was very crispy and tasted excellent with the accompanying soy sauce.

We ordered the Deep fried tofu Schezuan style. The waitress asked for the spice level and we grinned and said, "7 stars". Sure, said the waitress. Throw in the peppers and chillies, said A. Very spicy, she repeated after us. I asked for brown rice, but she said they only have white rice. Okay, two bowls please, I said. The service was quick. The food came when we were half way through the appetizer. For 7 stars, the level of spice was like that of 4 stars at other restaurants. Not spicy at all.

Suddenly it seems like Schezuan restaurants are creeping up at every corner like ants trooping out of an anthill. This is not one of a kind, but, just another Schezuan cuisine. They don't have any interesting Vegetarian Hot Pots like what Schezuan Chef or Spiced have. I wonder what all the hype was about. Nice place to eat at, if you are in Seattle Downtown.

Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Dinner

We had some friends ( S & P) over for dinner last night. I wanted to cook Lebanese food for them. It was the first time I ever tried making it at home and they loved it.
Some pictures...
Baked Spanakopita (from COSTCO)

Hummous with whole wheat middle eastern flat bread..

Vegetarian Shawarma with saffron rice for the main course. I stir fried red cabbage, onions, green onions and tomatoes, together with the marinade of the Lebanese 7 traditional spices, until they were nice and juicy. I then drizzled some generous helpings of homemade Toum (garlic sauce) and added a scoop of homemade Hummous on the side. 

And then, we started playing 29. I was so engrossed in the game that I forgot to take pictures of the dessert :( .The dessert was Almond crusted Carrot Cake with dollops of Vanilla Mango Ice Cream.
It was a big hit!

Mongolian Grill @ Canyon Park

It was one of those days when we invite our friends over for dinner and are in no mood to cook lunch as well. We wanted to grab a quick, hot lunch, somewhere nearby. That's when we muttered our,

"I wish Spicy Talk or Szheuan Chef was just around the corner...."
"Crappy Bothell.....nothing interesting in this place...."

et al. So grumbling, we headed to Mongolian Grill. This is a Build your own bowl cafe. You create your own stir-fry by chosing from an array of vegetables, meat, tofu, noodles, sauces and rice. You fill the bowl as much as you can and hand it over to the Chef, who stir fries it on the sizzling grill, right in front of you.

We used their BIGI 50% off coupon, that came printed at the back of our grocery bill at Fredmeyer. While it is more of a take out place, this restaurant is very clean and pleasant to eat-in as well. We picked all kinds of fresh veggies (and pineapples) and noodles from the food bar, topped it with ginger, garlic paste, green onion oil, and hot chilli oil, Tofu for protien, and brown rice (white rice on the other plate) as our side. The Chef was cooking meat on the grill, and when we chose Tofu, he said that he would clean the grill before cooking for us. And he even used different sticks to stir fry the veggies! Within 5 minutes the piping hot stir fry was placed in front of us. We picked the hot and spicy mongolian sauce, that was actually kind of sweet! But we added enough red chilli paste to make it spicy and garnished it with roasted peanuts.... It was so good.

After we gorged ourselves with the food, we packed the left overs

 and headed back home. One bowl costs $7.95 and it came to $11.95 for two plates with the said coupon. A definite bang for the buck. This will always be our first choice when we want to have lunch somewhere in our neighborhood.

Mongolian Grill (Bothell) on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Homemade French Fries

A and I love Fries (who doesn't ?), but we avoid getting it from restaurants solely because it is very rich and unhealthy. We tried making it at home and loved it.


1 Potato, chopped into thin long pieces.
2 Tsp Olive Oil.
Salt, Chilli Powder and Italian Seasoning, to taste.

Preaheat the oven to 450 deg.
Take a bowl and add the Oil to it. Add the Potatoes and toss them in the oil until they are all evenly coated. Sprinkle Salt, Chilli Powder and the Italian Seasoning.

Spread the Potatoes on a baking sheet and bake them for 15 minutes or until they brown. Then, broil on high for 1 minute. This makes them crispier. Be careful when broiling on high. It might get burnt if broiled for more than a minute.

Banoranchoco Mousse

A got me an assortment of chocolates from Fran's Chocolates for Valentine's Day. One of it was an Orange Truffle (Described as "Orange zest is infused with fresh organic cream and a splash of Grand Marnier then poured over dark couverture for a new twist on a classic favorite.") that was lip smacking good. Untill then, I only knew that raspberries go perfectly well with Chocolate, but didn't think so of Oranges.

I was quite impressed by David & Luise's Magic Mousse recipe, that was so quick and easy to make and at the same time, a much healthier version of the regular Chocolate Mousse. I included my innovations to make this Banoranchoco Mousse. I added some pieces of Dates to the Mousse. I then topped it off with some Orange zest. I then refrigerated it for a couple of hours. was so delicious.

As am typing this, A's asking me what's for dessert tonight !!!

Spicy Pico De Gallo

A got home a tad early today and I was at home, so had a little extra time on my hands to devote to my experiments in the kitchen.
I wanted to whip something up in a whim and wanted that "something" to be low in calories and fat. All I could think of was some spicy Pico De Gallo. Instead of Chips, I microwaved some Lijjat Pappad and broke them into bite sized pieces.


1 Tomato, finely chopped
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
2 Green Chillies, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
Cilantro, finely chopped.
4 tbsp Lemon juice
Salt to taste

Take a bowl and mix all the ingredients together and there! Spicy pico de gallo staring at you, ready to be eaten. Isn't that the simplest snack ever? You can even add black beans and cucumber to it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Serious Pie Pizza @ Seattle

I am not a big fan of Pizza, unless it is some seriously good Pizza. Something that is thin crusted, light and fluffy, lightly drizzled with cheese, some simple yet amazing toppings and the edges slightly browned and crispy. In short, I love Serious Pie Pizza. They are not the best I have had, but they are one of a kind. They have a very unique style and no one makes it like them.

It is the first Tom Douglas restaurant I have been to. Upon surfing the net, we found that the Pizza were quite pricey and the reviews were extreme. Either people loved it or they hated it. So, we decided to try this joint for their Happy Hour, where you get the mini $5 Pizza. An interesting observation - Almost everyone was there only for the Pizza. Thought it was the Happy Hour, no one seemed to have ordered a lager or something. Just water and lots of Pizza.
The restuarant itself is small and cozy and the seating, communal. Very European. It reminded us of the sidewalk cafes in Lucern. The waiting area is small and the wait time is quite long. But since we were just the two of us, we were able to get a table in 15 minutes.

The food was quick to arrive as well. The shape and texture of the Pizza is more like a Naan. It is cooked in the huge wood fired oven.

We ordered the Buffalo mozzarella, san marzano tomato and totally loved it. That was the best of the three that we ordered. Each Pizza was cut into 6 bite sized pieces.It was such a simple topping - tomato sauce, basil and mozarella cheese, yet, so unique and flavorful. The best thing is that these Pizza look so heavy, but are as light as a Tofutti :)

Next was the Yukon gold potato, rosemary, pecorinoPotatoes were an interesting topping for a Pizza and some of the Potatoes were crispy like Potato Chips and the some of them were like mashed and cooked. The Pecorino Cheese complemented the potatoes and the rosemary. Ummm... haven't had anything like that before.

And the third was the Chanterelles mushrooms, truffle cheese. The Mushrooms tasted fantastic and the melting truffle cheese made it a little rich.

All three were excellent. Usually we feel really stuffed after eating a couple of slices, but these were so light that I could have easily packed in 4 more of them :)

Though the restaurant was packed, and it was just the Happy Hour, the service was great. The waiter asked us if we would like some freshly ground red pepper and checked on us quite a few times. He was easy to get hold of, whenever we needed something.

Serious Pie, I seriously love you!

Serious Pie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tagla Cafe

Reviews on Yelp were scrutinized. Serious contemplations followed. Then we gave in to speculation  and made the long journey from Bothell with our friends S & C and their adorable doll D, to this eerie neighborhood for dinner, last night.
We reached there around 8:30 pm. There was one other family having dinner in this run of the mill, desolate cafe. The waitress saw us and gestured to a couple of tables as if telling us to sit where ever we wanted to. No greeting, no smile. We grabbed a table and menus were handed over. The owner Zeke came over and asked if we would like anything to drink. Just water, we said. Wow...quite a big menu, I say. Let's flip through...blank.....blank.....blank...ah...finally..there it is, a one page menu on the back. We chose an entree and thought Sambusa would be a good start.

Zeke came back.

Zeke (to us) : Are you ready to order?
A : Yes, we will first have the Sambusa.
Zeke (Smiling and nodding his head): No sambusa....only lunch and dinner.
All (in chorus) : No sambusa?
Zeke: No...may be next time when you come, we will make sambusa for you.
(As if all was so impressive till now and we would want to go back there.)
A: How about the appetizers?
Zeke ( smiling and nodding again...): No.....only lunch or dinner.
Me: Do you have the veggie combo?
(S does all she can to control her laughter)
Zeke: Veggie combo, yes.
A : Ok...we'll have the veggie combo then.
Zeke: 2 Combos?
A: Yes, please.

And then we waited for the food and looked around. The other family left by then and we were the only people there. On one side there was a TV that was playing some Ethiopian channel and on the other side there was a loo. And yes, there was something that looked like a bar in front of us.

The food came. Looked good. Injera...where art thou?

A gestured to the waitress and asked for Injeras. She brought four, one for each of us and disappeared. But, err....we were five of us. D wants one too. So, we waited for her to make an appearence to ask for the fifth Injera. Ofcourse, she brought one more. But it was kind of awkward to ask for more. We asked the waitress what each of the veggies were and she ran for help and didn't show up again for a long time. Help is none other than Zeke himself. Zeke once again materialised before us.

A : We would like to know what each of this is...
Zeke: It is vegetarian food
A: Yea (oh really?), but what are each of these?
Zeke (pointing to each one): Salad, Okra, Yellow Lentil, Channa Dal, Red Lentil, Cabbage, Beans, Spinach, Brown Lentil.
A: Ok...great, thanks!

We dug in. The Okra, Channa Dal, Red Lentil and Brown Lentil were spicy (not too spicy, just right) and delicious. The rest of them were kinda bland.

Me: Okra is good...
S : This cabbage is like hospital food.....bland....
C: Yeah, i don't think there is any salt in it......

The food was kind of better than most other places, I would say. Their secret ingredient is Oil (of course, that's what make it tasty!). Sorry, I dunno which Oil, but the Injera that had all the veggies on top, was soaking in Oil. There were 8 veggies, whereas most other restaurants just give 4, in a Veggie Combo. The Injeras were also at no extra charge. Just that no one came and asked if we wanted anything more (esp. more Injeras :)). One combo is good for two people.

When we were almost done, Zeke was back again. He wanted to know why the cabbage was untouched. Bah!
The waitress finally came over, pointed to the left overs ( mainly the said cabbage, yellow dal and spinach on the greasy injera) and said, "Box ?" And we politely replied, "No, thanks. The food was very good, though."

Then the check came. Despite reading the reviews about taking cash for tip, we forgot to carry change with us and A didn't feel like asking change for a 20. We asked the waitress about how to tip. She did the now familiar routine of calling Zeke.

A: How do we leave a tip?
Zeke: Cash.
A: Sorry, we forgot to get change.
Zeke: Can I swipe your card again?
A: Sure.....

Many Yelpers had said that he asked them not to worry about the tip and do it the next time. But probably, on seeing us he knew that we were not going to return anytime soon and so, scurried with the card :)

The food was better than the other Ethiopian restaurants we'd been to (Queen Sheba, and Lalibela). Both in quantity and quality. The price was quite cheap too - $12.50 for a Veggie Combo. The ambience was expected. But I heard that the food and the service make up for the ambience. Sadly, the service was below average. Certainly not welcoming. The waitress could not communicate (not just language, which is not a big issue; we've been to other Asian restaurants where they couldn't communicate), it was more the lack of communicating warmth/hospitality. Maybe because it was late, but she did not seem to be bothered about taking care of her customers and kept doing her disappearing acts quite frequently. And then the Sambusa :(. My biggest pet peeve is listing something on the menu and then saying "Sorry, not available.". Why can't they tell that when handing out the menus ?

Tagla Cafe on Urbanspoon
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