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Ad Hoc bakeries breakfast Thomas Keller

Options, Affordability Highlight ‘New’ Ad Hoc Breakfast

If you’re averse to Ad Hoc’s rigid set menus, you might want to give their new Sunday breakfasts a try. I detailed the changes in my previous post, so I’ll just jump straight into the meal.

Shortly after being seated, a basket of Bouchon Bakery pastries arrived at the table…

Bouchon Bakery PastriesBouchon Bakery Pastries

The banana nut muffin was simple and great, and I think Bouchon Bakery’s croissants are as close to perfect as you’ll find. The pastries were accompanied by a spread of blood orange vanilla Jam, blueberry marmalade, honey butter.

Blood Orange Vanilla Jam, Blueberry Marmalade, Honey ButterBlood Orange Vanilla Jam, Blueberry Marmalade, Honey Butter

The first course was a choice of a seasonal fruit salad…

Seasonal Fruit SaladSeasonal Fruit Salad

or pineapple yogurt parfait.

Pineapple Yogurt ParfaitPineapple Yogurt Parfait

The four main course options included stone-cut oatmeal and sourdough waffles, but we opted for the other two. I had the “Classic American,” which was two eggs, any style, Fatted Calf sausage, scallion pancakes, and a couple slices of palladin bread.

Classic American BreakfastClassic American Breakfast

I joked with Ad Hoc general manager Nick Dedier that this could easily evolve into a Thomas Keller “Grand Slam,” and he said Keller would probably love that idea. Keller has said in the past that he’s a fan of In-N-Out burger and Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, so an appreciation of Denny’s signature breakfast isn’t too surprising.

My wife had the corned beef hash, which was similar to the hash served at Easter last week except the potatoes were soft and fluffy chunks instead of thin crispy strings. The only thing I would change about this dish would be to crisp up the potatoes before serving since I like them a little crunchy.

Corned Beef Hash and Poached EggsCorned Beef Hash and Poached Eggs

This dish was the “savory” option of the week and is the menu slot that will change the most every week, i.e. don’t expect a hash next Sunday.

The meal ended with some Valrhona Chocolate and Shortbread Cookies that were delivered with the check.

Valhrona Chocolate and Shortbread CookiesValhrona Chocolate and Shortbread Cookies”

The cookies were good, but they were soft and chewy, and my wife and I both prefer cookies that have a little more bite to them.

In addition to Ad Hoc’s standard beverage offerings, a selection of fresh juices was available, as well as a sangria cocktail and mimosas. I think Ad Hoc has found the right price point at $24 (sans drinks), down from the previous price of $39. If you’re looking for a good simple breakfast in Yountville, Ad Hoc is pretty hard to beat.

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bakeries bread Filipino

Toasted Pan de Sal and Peanut Butter

My parents usually have a good supply pan de sal in the house, so I’ve been getting my fill of my favorite snack, toasted pan de sal and peanut butter.


Pan de Sal and Peanut Butter

Pan de sal is a Filipino bread roll that’s normally eaten at breakfast. Its name literally mean “salt bread” but it’s generally on the sweet side. The Filipino store near my parents gets their pan de sal from Valerio’s Bakery, which is pretty well known both in SoCal and the Bay Area.

I cut the bread in half and then to toast mine to the “medium” setting on the toaster oven so that it gets nice and crusty. This ensures that the outside of the pan de sal will have some crunch when you bite into it, but the rest of the roll should be soft, fluffy, and warm.

You can use any peanut butter you want, but I lean towards creamy because I love the sheen of the peanut butter as it starts to melt when it hits the hot bread.

So how do you like your pan de sal?

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bakeries chicken fried chicken Northern California reviews sandwiches

Bakesale Betty

Our first trip to Bakesale Betty was kind of an accident. We had about 45 minutes to kill before our reservation at Pizzaiolo, and Bakesale Betty was still open, so we decided to walk over and see what was happening over there. We’d heard about their famous fried chicken sandwiches, but with dinner looming, we decided to have dessert first. Nothing wrong with that, right?

We split a really big strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It was nice and light, and we didn’t want to fill up before dinner. I had to get a chocolate cupcake and it was pretty good. The cake was a little dry, but the chocolate buttercream was great, extremely light and perfect (buttercream is usually a big turnoff for me). I washed it down with a lemon ice that was nice and tart, just the way I like them.


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We also got some pastries for breakfast the next day (pear ginger scone for my wife, lemon raisin scone for me), and two handheld chicken pot pies. The scones were excellent, but I want to talk about the chicken pot pies. You just pop them in the oven for 45 minutes and you’re rewarded with an amazing handheld meal. I never knew a chicken pot pie could be this good…it was one of the best things I’ve eaten in weeks.

We had Betty’s famous fried chicken sandwich on our next visit and when paired with a lemon ice and some cookies, it’s a perfect summer lunch. The bread is fresh and the perfect boneless fried chicken breast is topped with a really nice vinegary cole slaw. It’s a very messy sandwich and you could argue that there’s a little too much slaw, but overall, it’s an excellent combination. The egg salad sandwiches are pretty good, too, but if given a choice, the fried chicken sandwich wins every time.

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bakeries dessert recipes Thomas Keller

Brownies a la Bouchon

Chocolate BouchonOur trips up to Yountville are never complete unless we stop in at Bouchon Bakery to pick up some goodies. If it’s your first visit, you must try the chocolate bouchon (right). It’s a cork-shaped brownie bite that’s their signature delicacy, and it puts those mass-produced Costco ones you’ve probably had to shame. If you’ve ever had the warm chocolate brownie for dessert at Ad Hoc, it’s the same thing…but bigger.

I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I got the Bouchon cookbook last year, and when I saw Sunday Nite Dinner’s epic Valrhona v. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bouchon Battle, I was even more inspired. But I didn’t want to make the bite-sized bouchons. I was going for brownies.

This recipe is actually quite easy. The most difficult thing about it was getting the freshly mixed batter into a piping bag. I used a jumbo muffin tin because it was the shape and size that I was looking for, but if you actually want to make the bite-size bouchons, I’m sure you can find that online somewhere. Baking time on the muffin-sized brownies is 30-32 minutes. I had some left over batter that I refrigerated, and the next day I made some mini cupcakes using a mini muffin tin. Baking time on the mini cupcakes was around 12 minutes. (no pictures of those…sorry!)


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The original recipe calls for Valrhona Equatoriale semisweet chocolate (55% cacao). Normally I can find Valrhona at Whole Foods, but we missed our opportunity to look at the San Ramon store because they inexplicably close at 9pm when every other Whole Foods in the area closes at 10pm. (Damn bedroom communities!) I ended up finding some E. Guittard Tsaratana semisweet (61% cacao) at Nob Hill and snapped them up since I’m a big fan of Guittard chocolate. The cocoa was Hershey’s unsweetened.

When they’re finished, the brownies are dense and rich with little gooey chunks of chocolate. We tried them both fresh out of the oven and after they’d cooled, and they’re great either way. They’re even good reheated with some ice cream.

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bakeries Best of Inuyaki chocolate dessert recipes Thomas Keller

Christmas Cookies – Thomas Keller Oreos

If you’ve ever been to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, chances are you’ve seen or eaten one of his famous TKOs, a.k.a. Thomas Keller Oreos (below).


TKO

Like most of Keller’s food, his take on the classic Oreo is a textbook example of refined simplicity — white chocolate ganache sandwiched between two chocolate shortbread cookies. They’re one of our favorite cookies, and I thought it would be fun to make them for Christmas presents.


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The Las Vegas NBC affiliate, KVBC, posted the TKO recipe on their Web site, which I thought was odd, but then I remembered that Keller opened a Bouchon Bakery in The Venetian a few years ago. We lengthened the the baking time from 8 minutes to 20 minutes after an unsuccessful first batch and the 20-minute baking time worked out much better. We also made a seasonal, mint-flavored TKO by adding some mint extract, peppermint extract and green food coloring to the ganache.

CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 pound (4 sticks) butter
18 oz (by weight) all purpose flour
12 oz (by weight) sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
6 oz Cocoa powder

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream butter with paddle on mixer until smooth, then add sugar and mix until combined, scraping down the mixing bowl.
3. Sift dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and work dough until just combines. (it should look kind of like brown sand)
4. Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick. Cut each cookie with scalloped cutter.
5. Bake at 325 F for approximately 20 minutes
6. Let cookies cool and then sandwich together with the following filling:

GANACHE FILLING
4 oz white chocolate (cut into small pieces or buy white chocolate chips)
1 oz heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon mint extract (optional, for mint filling)
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional, for mint filling)
green food coloring (optional, for mint filling)

DIRECTIONS
Bring cream to a boil and pour over chocolate, then mix until emulsified. Allow ganache to set up for at least an hour before using. Ganache should be spreadable, kind of like peanut butter.

To make the mint ganache, add mint extracts to ganache along with food coloring just before placing between the chocolate shortbread cookies.

The white chocolate ganache is perishable, so if you’re making these, make sure their consumed within three days. This can be difficult, because these cookies are really rich and it’s sometimes hard to eat just one. Enjoy!

Categories
bakeries dessert reviews Southern California

Dainties Cupcakes (CLOSED)

I want you to imagine a moist devil’s food cupcake, filled with flavored whipped cream (let’s use banana for this example). Now dip it in chocolate ganache to seal it, top it with an additional flourish of banana whipped cream and then garnish it with a slice of roasted banana.

Hungry?

Dainties Cupcakes are really a misnomer…but this is a good thing. The devil’s food cake and the chocolate ganache give the cupcakes a heft (without being heavy) that you just don’t get anywhere else. It makes these cupcakes — dare I say — manly!

I think I’ve finally found my cupcake.



All of Dainties cupcakes have the same base of moist devil’s food. They differ by their cream fillings. We ordered the Creme de Menthe, Tiramisu, Maple and the Stupid Chocolate.

The best of these was the Maple…just an incredible flavor combination with the devil’s food. The Tiramisu was also excellent…the cream reminded me of the mocha frosting at Goldilocks, only denser. Creme de Menthe was a really nice, subtle mint flavor. Then there’s the Stupid Chocolate, which adds dark chocolate chips to the cake, is filled with vanilla cream, then dipped in chocolate ganache twice. It’s topped with more vanilla cream and chocolate shavings. It gets its name because it’s a stupid amount of chocolate.

The actual storefront doesn’t look like much and the main signage says Flatbush and J, the catering company from which Dainties spawned. You’ll likely be greeted by Chef Bill Dertouzos, a Brooklyn native who’s the mastermind behind these amazing creations. Bill was very cool and gets extra props for giving us a sample of the roasted banana cupcake mentioned above. He said he was very proud of that creation, and he should be. It was our favorite cupcake of the bunch.

Finding Dainties is a little challenging. The address is on Santa Monica Blvd., but the entrance is actually on the side street. The easiest way to find it is to look for Winchell’s, then walk around the corner and Dainties is right there. I went there the other day and saw that they added a new mural on the wall near the entrance celebrating being named Best Cupcake by Los Angeles Magazine, so that should help you find it also.

The extra effort it takes to find the place will be rewarded. Believe you me, you will be rewarded!

INFORMATION
Dainties Cupcakes (CLOSED)
11058 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025 map
310.312.3656
Web site