Archive for the ‘sweet and savory’ Tag

The Sweet Spot   Leave a comment

Although Semi Sweet Bakery in downtown Los Angeles has savory items as well as numerous tempting sweets, the name isn’t quite right. It’s not partially sweet, and it’s tucked away in small, hard-to-find space not at all like a semi, as in truck; however, the quality and variety of baked goods rides above other, pedestrian bakeries.

semisweet crullant

Semi Sweet is  fun: it features several familiar goodies that can’t be identified by their better-known names to avoid copyright infringements. Take the Crullant: a cross between a croissant and a cruller (but this donut’s baked not fried); or the Pocket Tart, as unfamiliar in taste and texture as it is similar in shape and size to a convenient toaster variety popular among kids. There’s also the Ding-a-ling, a spin on the Hostess snack.

semisweet dingaling

The Crème Brulee Crullant had a slightly hard glaze and was filled with vanilla cream reminiscent of its namesake. The texture was light with just the right amount of sweetness. The Pocket Tarts have several filling options; since I’m almost always drawn to anything with strawberries that was an easy choice. Thin, flakey melt-in-your-mouth pastry crust encased a fine layer of strawberry jam. Ding-a-Lings also come in assorted flavors, but chocolate and peanut butter is a hard combination to resist – and it did not disappoint.

semisweet pocket tart

On the savory side, we tried, at the recommendation of a woman who described herself as a regular since she works a few doors away, the Jalapeno Mac and Cheese Empanada. Yep, macaroni and cheese with bits of the piquant chile baked in flakey pastry. It wasn’t sweet and all, but it was a truckload of flavor.

semisweet empanada


Semi Sweet Bakery

Four-and-a-half Plates
105 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA

Bringing Home the Bacon   Leave a comment

baconnation

Bacon. It’s one of those foods that evoke smiles and salivation no matter when it’s served. Bacon Nation by Peter Laminsky and Marie Rama illustrates that bacon isn’t just for breakfast – as if.

In addition to 125 recipes, from the obvious Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp to the creative Bacon Jam – and that’s just among the appetizers, side dishes, salads, desserts, even poultry, featuring the favored pork product are included.

Last Christmas a friend shared her recipe for what she called “Bacon Crack” due to its addictive qualities. It featured a sweet and savory rub. Bacon Nation doesn’t contain this particular tasty treat, but has several others in the same category, such as Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies. Although not as sinful as Bacon Crack, they are easy to eat.

As with most well-executed cookbooks, Laminsky and Rama don’t rely on recipes alone, even though they could. The authors’ first chapter is dedicated to tips for purchasing and cooking bacon. They recommend thick cut for most of the recipes, and explain the difference between dry and wet cured. The former is rubbed with salt (often pepper, occasionally salt;) and the latter is brined.

Each section, or chapter, features a brief prologue, and individual recipes are accompanied by an also-brief introduction. These range from explanations of how the recipes came about or what was done to modify them for the home cook.

Chapter 12, by the way, is entitled “Breakfast Means Bacon.” Since it comes near the end, I really don’t believe the authors/chefs.

Bacon Nation
Four Bookmarks
Workman Publishing, 2013
310 pages, including photos and index