Monday, March 30, 2009

the lake house burgers

"The Lake House" is quite the euphemism for " the burger place beside little pond dug out in the middle of downtown Houston," but I digress. Located in Discovery Green, the new corporate logo-ed green space (kudos for trying), the interior channels a more austere Cafe Express. You'd expect some typical stylized cafe sandwiches and menu board featuring no less than 5 French words, but then you'd be wrong.

The Lake House provides some damn tasty burgers. And sweet potato fries. And basil lemonade. And did I say burgers? Medium rare actually comes out medium rare on a toasty white bun. The sweet potato fries are crisp and plentiful (take note, Ruggles!). The basil lemonade is a potent, but delicious bonus. Order a mango iced tea and mix yourself a few Arnold Palmers.

We also got a black bean veggie burger, which was a little crisp on the outside, keeping its form as you bit through it. Borderline dry, but nothing a little cock sauce couldn't fix, which they actually have!

One small quibble is the box claims "all our packaging is compostable" and there's a little sign boasting their compostable ways. Seeing only the trash to toss our box in, we inquired and found out that actuallllly they don't.

Best part of coming here? When you're done you get to play in the fountains outside!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

happy pi day!

Is it any surprise that I would make a pie in honor of Pi Day? We celebrated in style with fresh strawberry and apple pies. A night with mathematicians and double-crusted goodness - what more could a girl want (seriously)? What's your flavor?

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Cookies to be wrapped up in brown paper packages tied up with string... aka IKEA tupperware and packing tape. But that's not nearly as romantic.

Make someone's day and put a little homemade luv in the mail. Above are rugelach (read ruge-love), chai snickerdoodles, and vegan toasted oat cookies.

Nerd Note: If you're going to mail cookies, choose ones of similar moisture content since their water will equilibrate in the package during shipping. In other words, don't pack crisp and chewy cookies together.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

peanut butter banana cream pie

The phrase 'cream pie' sounds so dated and evokes visions of jello pudding mix poured into premade pie crust, possibly available a la carte in the school cafeteria. That's a pretty harsh sentence for something as delicious as pie.

This peanut butter banana cream pie does absolutely everything right to dispel any misconceptions. Ripe bananas are folded into luscious, velvety pastry cream and poured into a graham cracker crust layered with dark chocolate and fresh ground peanut butter, then topped with fresh whipped cream.

For those of us more technically inclined, this pie is a lot of fun to make. You get to hit things, double boil things, whip hot things, whip cold things... I swear it's fun, and you feel like a fancy cook.

For pastry cream success, there are two tricks I learned not usually included in recipes:

1. Thoroughly whisk the sugar and cornstarch together before adding any wet ingredients. They help keep each other from clumping, keeping lumps out of your cream.

2. Add a little bit of the unheated milk to the egg yolks going into said sugar/cornstarch mixture. Many recipes call for beating just the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together, but sometimes this isn't enough moisture to realistically mix them. A little milk will make your life much easier.

I followed this well written recipe as printed by Joy the Baker. The bananas and whipped cream balance the richness of the pastry cream, while the dark chocolate and peanut butter balance the sweetness. Yeah, it was really good. The only quibble I had was after chilling the pie, the chocolate layer was hard and difficult to cut through. In the future I might mix in a little heavy cream with the melted chocolate to make a sort of spreadable ganache layer. Also, it says that the pastry cream mixture will take about 6 minutes to thicken up. For me, it was ready in more like two.

This is pie fit for birthday celebrations!