Monday, June 29, 2009

Tub's Fine Chili & Fancy Fixin's

Tub's Fine Chili & Fancy Fixin's is the kind of hidden treasure I try to find for the blog. Hidden is no understatement, though, Tub's is located in a small strip mall in Culver City and as of yet has no big sign over the establishment. It is tough to spot even when you are looking for it. The only sign I saw was on the window blocked by cars parked out front. Luckily, we knew it was next to Comics Ink, a nice little comic book shop in the area. If you're having trouble spotting it, think like a geek, and you'll find it in no time ;)

Inside, the shop is a little taste of cowboy with old westerns on the TV and saddle stools, all to enhance the big taste of chili. The chili is spooned into a pita like tub supported by a woodedn bowl.

Get your scoop or two topped with a Tub Topper (Pictured below), sour cream, diced onions, and cheese, or "Gunsling It" to get the whole bunch of fixin's including the delicious potato chips also pictured below.

I tried the Turkey Chili, the original recipe that inspired the restaurateur, and found it flavorful, but without much heat. If you're looking for a little bite, add a few drops of the atomic sauce kept by the register and you'll get your spice. Tubs is only a couple of months old, but if it keeps making up the good chili, it will be around for years.

Thanks to Yongwoo Cho for additional pictures for this post (he took those pretty close ups). You can see more of his work at

Tub's Fine Chili & Fancy Fixin's
4263 Overland Avenue
Culver City, CA 90230

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The last ice cream cone

Here you see evidence of the last ice cream cone. This is the last from a batch of home made chocolate chip vanilla ice cream made by Husband of Food about a month ago. It was sweet and creamy like a good ice cream should be, but here's what I learned from watching him make the ice cream. Real ice cream is NOT good for you. It is almost entirely heavy cream (fat) and sugar. For some reason I had always thought of it as a more ice and calcium laden treat. So much for thinking it is a good way to get my dairy. A glass of skim milk is much healthier, but this last ice cream cone is well... much, much more delicious.

Monday, June 8, 2009

They said it couldn't be done; Pie-Cake!

Cake or Pie?
It's a question that comes up over and over again. You may have chosen sides long ago, ready to fight for your chosen dessert, "Give me Pie or give me death!" or "You can take my cake when you pry it out of my cold dead hands!"

No more, I say!

Cake or pie...They're both so delicious, so why choose? Why can't we all just get along? Why not make a Pie-Cake?

This is a first exploration into this new topsy turvy melting pot of a world. I have created a Banana Cream Pie-Cake. I recreate the method here. This recipe will make 2 pie cakes, so get two pie pans greased up, because here we go...

I wanted a heavier cake with some substance that would support a creamy pie filling, so I chose my favorite banana bread recipe for the cake base. This recipe is from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, one of the best cookbooks I have ever known. I print a version of the recipe here to show the modifications I made to make this Pie-Cake. If anyone has any objections, speak now or forever hold your peace...


2 cups or 3 Large well-mashed overripe bananas

1 cup sugar

3 eggs (the original recipe calls for 2, but I got carried away)

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 Tablespoons of buttermilk (or a mixture of 3 Tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vinegar set out for 1 hour) - Note: I use the milk and vinegar mixture. I tried the buttermilk once, but decided it wasn't worth buying the extra buttermilk.

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, dry roasted. (I used a half cup)

In a large bowl combine the bananas, sugar and eggs with a spoon until well blended. Gradually add the butter, mixing well. Stir in the flour and baking soda until well mixed and creamy. Stir in the buttermilk, then fold in the pecans.

(This next part veers from the original recipe)

Spoon batter into 2 greased pie pans. Bake at 300 degrees for 60 minutes until dark brown.

Allow to cool.

While the cakes are cooling, it's time to make the pie filling. I chose a recipe from Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking for my filling. I figured I'd stick to the region from where the cake recipe came from. I modified this recipe as well so I will write it up as I made it, if you want the real recipe, buy the book ; ).

2 Cups Whipping Cream

1 Cup Milk (the book uses 3 cups heavy cream, but I was out so I made do.)

1 tsp Vanilla

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

3/4 Cup Cornstarch

2 1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

5 Large Egg Yolks

4 Ripe Bananas

Heat the cream in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir in the vanilla and the butter and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the milk with cornstarch and stir until thoroughly blended and smooth.

When the mixture in the saucepan begins to boil, stream in the cream (milk)/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until all is thoroughly incorporated. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl combine the sugar and salt, and whisk this dry mixture vigorously into the saucepan until the cream is thick and the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Over low heat, whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Remove from the heat and whisk the pastry cream until smooth and creamy.

Take the bananas and slice them into 1/4 inch slices, set aside.

Now that the cakes are cool, take a long sharp knife and carefully cut off the tops of the cakes. Set tops aside.

Scoop a bit more of the cake out to make more room for pie filling.

Pour about 1/6 of the pie filling mixture into each cake shell. Layer 1/4 of the bananas into each of the shells.

Cover with 1/6 pie filling in each shell, layer the rest of the bananas (saving a few for garnish) onto the filling and top with remaining pie filling.

Place the cake tops you set aside onto the cake and garnish with a few banana slices.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. You may cover your pie cakes in the fridge... it just wasn't as pretty that way.

I enjoyed this first pie cake, but I found that I wanted more. I may try an crumb cake apple pie or a chocolate cake pudding pie. If I do, I promise to report my findings. Until then, enjoy your new world... one in which pie and cake no longer have to be separate.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

E3! A Tribute Bento

E3 is here! I spent the day seeing game after game at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I played 2 different Rockbands and a Karaoke Revolution. I couldn't get the games out of my head when making tomorrow's lunch for the twins. Although my kids won't know what this bento is all about, I'd bet you know. Pac Man was a particular favorite game of my childhood. For my tenth birthday I had a Pac Man party where my friends and I played Pac Man at a local ice cream shop. My Mom gave me a Pac Man charm which I still have. This bento is a tribute. I just wish I had some pretzel twists or cherries to put on top of those edible dots (peas).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mango Strawberry Upside Down Tart

Both of these fruits seem plentiful, tasty, and cheap right now, so I bought a fair quantity for the week. Grandson of Food (age 2-1/2 these days) is really into smoothies for breakfast, and I thought he might like a change from the usual banana smoothie that he helps me make by peeling the banana and putting it along with the ice cubes in the blender. Well, toddlers don't really like variety, so I had a lot of mangoes to use up and thought I'd try a variation on the Tarte Tatin, an upside-down apple tart with a crust on the bottom and caramel on top made in a heavy pie pan or a skillet.

I made this one in a heavy tin lined copper 11-inch tarte tatin pan, but any heavy skillet of the appropriate size that can be put in the oven, such as a cast iron skillet, will do. Before beginning, make sure that you have a plate or platter larger than the pan and ideally with a little depth to it for unmolding the tart. You are going to put the plate on top of the hot pan straight from the oven, before the caramel hardens, and with a towel or oven mitts to avoid burning yourself, you're going to flip the plate and pan together, and steaming hot liquid is going to pour out over the fruit, so it is very important that the plate be large enough.

Start by making a single pie crust dough using your favorite recipe, shape it into a flat disk, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

You can do this with just about any fruit that appeals to you. Apples are traditional. I had four good sized mangoes and about a pint of strawberries, so I peeled and sliced the mangoes and macerated them in the juice and zest of one lemon and a half cup of sugar for about a half hour, and sliced the strawberries, organizing them in two piles roughly by size so that it would be easier to arrange them in the tart. Mangoes have a large, slippery, flat stone in the center, so to cut them, find the seam in the fruit, and cut first along one side, then the other with a large knife, and then with a smaller knife, cut the remaining fruit off the pit and peel the two large pieces. Slice the fruit about a quarter-inch thick or thicker, so that it holds its shape in the oven.

Melt six tablespoons of butter in the pan on medium-high heat and add one cup of sugar to the pan, stirring until the sugar melts and begins to form a brown caramel. Turn down the heat and stir to incorporate the butter, then remove from heat. If you like salted caramel, sprinkle two or three good sized pinches of salt on the caramel. A crunchy, flaky sea salt would be a good choice.

Drain the fruit well in a colander, and arrange in the pan on top of the caramel. Remember that the bottom layer you make now will be the top layer when the tart is unmolded, so use the best slices first and think about how it will look upside down. The remaining slices can be piled on more randomly.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the skillet or tarte tatin pan back on the stovetop on medium high heat and cook the fruit for about 20-25 minutes, smoothing it down with a spatula as it cooks, but don't stir or fold it. You want to keep the caramel layer mostly on the bottom. Once the caramel starts bubbling up and the fruit releases its juice, baste the fruit with a turkey baster. After about ten minutes, cover the pan, and baste every few minutes. The liquid should be thickening.

Remove the pan from the heat and roll out the pie crust about an inch larger than the diameter of the pan, and center the crust on top of the fruit, pushing the overhanging dough down inside the walls of the pan. It's okay if the juice oozes out of the sides of the crust. Cut four ventilation holes in the crust.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and tilt the pan to check that the liquid has thickened. It should be about as thick as honey on a warm day. If it hasn't, and the crust is done, put the pan back on the stovetop and reduce it some more on high heat.

Toddlers--out of the kitchen.

Now, before it cools, put the plate on top of the pan and flip them together, bearing in mind that the pan and the fruit are very hot, and you want to be sure you have a firm grip on everything, using oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands. Do this quickly, but not so quickly that hot liquid flies out or the hot pan slips off the plate. It would be a good idea to wear an apron. Shake the pan a bit and remove it. Liquid will pour down the sides of the tart. If some pieces of fruit have fallen out of place, you can use a tongs or a fork to rearrange them.

If you aren't suffering from third-degree burns, serve the tart as you would serve a pie--it can be warm or cold, and is good with ice cream, whipped cream, or crème anglaise.

Bookmark This Site