Natalie Notions » Where Taste Meets Travel

Category Archives: Food

The Peninsula Hotel

The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills is known for its high tea. It’s like going to Claridge’s in London, but in L.A.. The hotel and beautiful tea room is elegant but not stuffy. The fluffy lounge chairs and overstuffed couches help create a relaxed vibe that makes you want to stay a little longer. In typical English fashion scones are served with jam, lemon curd and clotted cream. The mini sandwiches pair well with the tea and champagne. But unlike in England, afternoon tea started with strawberries in cream, which was a lovely addition to the meal. It may not seem like a meal, but I filled up fast. I didn’t even get the chance to taste all of the delicate desserts.

High tea at The Peninsula Hotelhigh tea at The Peninsula Hotel

Note: Even the China was simple yet elegant.

strawberry dessert recipe

It would look better if these were all the same size and the jam didn’t spill out the sides, but I wasn’t going for looks. If you want a homemade style pop tart, then do like I did and pack them full with strawberry filling.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 tablesppon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, cold

Fruit

  • 2 cups quartered fresh strawberries
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, depending on sweetness of berries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam

Other Ingredients

  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Confectioners’ sugar

mini strawberry pop tarts

Directions

  1. Make the dough. Mix together 5 tablespoons cold water and the vinegar in a measuring cup and keep cold.
  2. Combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the cold butter over the top and then pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the vinegar mixture a few tablespoons at a time and pulse until the dough just comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gently until the dough just comes together. Form into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 48 hours.
  3. While the dough is chilling, cook the fruit. Combine the berries and granulated sugar in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until the mixture comes to a boil, the fruit starts to breakdown, and the juices start to release, about 8 minutes. Stir together the lemon juice and cornstarch until combined, add to the boiling fruit, and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Stir in the jam. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll half of the dough out into a large rectangle that’s just larger than 9 x 8 inches and is 1/8 inch thick. If the dough is dry and not sticking together, add water until you can roll it out. Trim the sides with a knife so that you have a 9 x 8 inch rectangle with straight edges.
  6. Cut the rectangles into thirds lengthwise so that you have three 3-inch strips. Then cut the strips into fourths so that you have 12 small 3 x 2-inch rectangles total. Carefully transfer these rectangles to one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Gather the scraps of both halves and re-roll to create more rectangles. You will get 4-6 more.
  7. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of fruit filling in the center of half of the rectangles so that it is slightly heaped, but do not spread out. Make sure not to overfill them, although it might happen by accident. Ideally leave about 1/4-inch boarder all around. Brush the boarder with the egg wash. Lay another rectangle of dough over each fruit filled piece and press gently around the edges to seal slightly. Use the tines of a fork to press the two layers of dough together. Put the baking sheet in the fridge until the pastries are chilled, about 20 minutes.
  8. Lightly brush the tops of the pastries with the milk. Use a toothpick to poke 8 holes over the top surface of each pastry to allow the steam to escape during baking. Bake until golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or lightly frost before serving.

mini strawberry pop tarts

Note: Recipe from Bobby Flay’s cookbook Brunch at Bobby’s.

Bobby_Flay_Las_Vegas

This weekend we went to both of Bobby Flay’s restaurants in Las Vegas. Both were amazing and completely different. On Saturday night we went to Mesa Grill inside Caesar’s Palace, an innovative Southwestern restaurant. It has been open for 12 years and is as popular as ever.

We started with a round of refreshing margaritas and a variety of appetizers. The mini Blue Corn Lobster Tacos had just enough spice and flavor, especially for someone who doesn’t like spicy food or lobster. These mini bites gave the perfect amount of punch. We also got the Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla, which was also just the right amount of spice with epic flavors, and the Goat Cheese ‘Queso Fundido.’ I’ve never tried a dish like this before and would compare it to a cheese dip with roasted peppers on top served with Blue Corn Tortilla Strips. Another to die for app. For dinner I ordered the Sixteen Spice Chicken. It was served with fluffy cilantro pesto mashed potatoes. The perfect place to start the night.

Bobby_Flay_Las_Vegas

For lunch on Monday we went to Bobby’s Burger Palace for burgers, shakes and fries. There’s a burger to satisfy everyone with plenty of tasty varieties. Everything is made fresh to order and never sits under a heat lamp {gross}. It’s as if Bobby was grilling them for you. This was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Now if only he could open one in LA.

Note: Photos found here and here.

risotto with Alfredo sauce

My boyfriend loves a creamy Alfredo sauce, but unfortunately I don’t love it so I never make it. It’s too rich and creamy and thick for me. I prefer a traditional Italian red sauce. I searched to find a recipe that would please us both and combined what I liked from two different recipes to make the below. This makes quite a bit of sauce for two, but perfect for serving 4-6 people.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups milk of your choice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoons grated lemon rind

recipe with fresh squeeze lemon

Directions

  1. Peel and chop the garlic. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute the garlic until it’s soft but not dark brown.
  2. Chop the cauliflower, removing most of the stems.
  3. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add in the cauliflower. Cook 15-20 minutes or until very tender.
  4. Place cauliflower mixture in a blender, which you will need to add in batches. Add in the garlic mixture, 1 cup of milk, the remaining butter, pepper, lemon juice, salt and 1 ounce of cheese. Blend until smooth.
  5. Remove half of the sauce and place in a pot. Add in another batch of cauliflower and the rest of the cheese. Blend until smooth.
  6. Remove half of the sauce and place in the pot. Add in the rest of the cauliflower and milk. Blend until smooth and add to the pot.
  7. Stir the sauce to incorporate the different batches.
  8. Serve warm over pasta or risotto rice.

Cauliflower Alfredo sauce

Note: Add broccoli, shrimp or scallops to create a delicious and healthy meal this weekend.

New York City Dinner

I started with a breakfast post and now I’m moving on to dinner. Here are some amazing restaurants for dinner in the city.

ABC Kitchen – This shabby chic style restaurant is absolutely divine. The decor and ambiance reminded me of something you would find in a trendy California town, where fresh food is top priority. Everything was exquisite from the wine to the dessert. If you’re looking for a dining experience with a breezy romantic vibe, this is it.

Narcissa – Located in The Standard Hotel in the East Village, rather it’s more next door, it has a creative outdoor patio with greenery and eclectic art. The restaurant features seasonal organic produce from chef and co-owner Andre Balazs’ Hudson Valley farm. It’s California cuisine, which I love {of course}, in the city.

Narcissa NYC

Park Avenue Spring – I’ve been to restaurants that have seasonal menus or seasonal items added, but I’ve never been to a restaurant that changes its name, decor and menu with the seasons until I went to Park Avenue Spring. When I went to Park Avenue last week they had just changed everything from winter to spring the week before. This is another top notch dining experience, again both for the ambiance and the food. Everything was amazing and well thought out from the complimentary chef appetizers to the decadent desserts.

Betony – It takes months to get a reservation at Betony, so if you know you will be traveling to the city make a reservation now. Again, another superb place for dinner. The ambiance is a little bit more dark, moody and modern, compared to the others, but the food it unique and oh so good it can’t be missed.

Note: Some of the best restaurants are in New York City.