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The old saying is that “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade”, but what do you do when life gives you grapefruits.  Linda, one of my co-workers has a pink grapefruit tree in her yard at home.  For the past two weeks she has been bringing them into the office and sharing them with us.  I have also been the lucky recipient of two big bags all for me!  Okay, I do share them with my wife and children.   I love to just peel them and eat the sections like you would an orange.  These are extra juicy and surprisingly sweet for grapefruit.  Still, a man can only eat so many grapefruits.  Then I remembered a great grapefruit cake I had a few years back at the Brown Derby Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  I found the recipe on a Disney Food Blog, http://www.disneyfoodblog.com, and thought I would give it a try.  The alleged story behind this cake involves one of Hollywoods famous gossip colominist, Louela Parson.  The story goes that Ms. Parsons complained to the Derby owner, Robert Cobb (As in Cobb Salad!), that all the desserts were too fattening and she requested something healthier.  Cobb told his chef “to put grapefruit on something, because everyone knows its slimming.”

I have doubled the recipe because the cake I remember having at the Brown Derby had more layers.

Grapefruit Cake

Ingredients:

3 Cups Sifted Cake Flour

1 1/2 Cups Suger

3 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Cup Water

1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

6 Eggs (Separated)

6 Tablespoons Grapefruit Juice

1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind

1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add water, oil, egg yolks, grapefruit juice (I used fresh squeezed.), and the lemon rind.  Beat until smooth.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until whites are stiff.  Fold the egg whites into the batter.  Pour the batter into two greased and floured 9″ round cake pans.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Invert the pans on cake racks until cool.  Run a spatula around the edge of the cake pans and carefully remove them from the pan.  With a serrated knife, gently cut each layer in half.

Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

3 Eight-Ounce Packages of Cream Cheese

4 Teaspoons Lemon Juice

2 Teaspoons Grated Lemon Rind

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar (Sifted)

3 -4 Grapefruits (Sectioned)*

Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature.  Beat the cheese until fluffy.  Add lemon juice and rind.  Gradually blend in sugar.  Beat until well blended.  Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 4 teaspoons.  Blend into the frosting.  Spread the frosting on the first layer.  Top with the grapefruit sections of one grapefruit. Repeat for the next two layers.  Frost the top and sides.  Garnish with remaining grapefruit sections.

I have to say I really enjoyed this cake.  I has a light citrus flavor and is not overpowered by the taste of the grapefruit. The cream cheese frosting has the same slight citrus flavor and is not overly sweet.  I was impressed with the fact I had frosting to spare.  My experience has been you never make enough frosting and have to make another batch to finish the cake.   If you can resist, this is one of those cakes that gets better if it sits a day.  It seems the extra time allows the grapefruit juices to better permeate the cake.  The next time I make this I am thinking of making a few changes to the recipe.  First, I might try a simple syrup made with grapefruit juice to drizzle on the cake layers for extra moisture.  Second, I think I would put a little more sugar into the cream cheese frosting since I like my frosting a little sweeter.  Finally, I think I would suggest breaking up the pulp on the sections and spreading it more evenly over each layer versus just spreading out sections.  I noticed if you got a larger section of grapefruit in your slice it can overpower the taste in that bite.

*The original recipe calls for 2 One-Pound cans of Grapefruit Section, drained, but I used fresh ones.  I had never sectioned a grapefruit before and was surprised how easy it was too do.  First, you slice off the top and bottom until you reach the flesh.  Then you cut the peel from the sides.  Holding the grapefruit in your hand you cut the pulp out from between each membrane.  It was a lot simpiler then I imagined.

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My buddy at work, and fellow food blogger, needed to run some errands today during lunch down by Tom Brown Park, so I tagged along and we went to Captain Pete’s House of Gyros to grab a bite to eat.

When you first enter, there is not much to look at or catch your attention.  The place looks run down.  There are older formica tables with old metal chairs, and booths with duck taped seats that have seen better days.  That said, it does give the place a distinct atmosphere and a feeling it has been here for a long time.  You walk up to the counter to place your order.  The sign on the back wall only contains limited information and you need to rely on menus available at the counter.   Service is friendly.  When your order is done, you give them your name, take your cup and look for a seat.  Beverages are self serve.

I ordered a King Gyros and appetizer of hummus.  Well, it all gets served together on the same plate;  so no really an appetizer.  Once our order was ready it was brought to us at the table.  The hummus was very good.  Served with a dollop of oil and a side of a tomato wedge, a few cucumber slices and an olive.   It had a nice thick consistency and a nice taste to it.  Hot pita bread comes with it to scoop it up.

The gyros is the best I have had in this town.  Smothered in diced tomatoes, chopped onions and tzatziki.  Tzatziki it that traditional Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce.  I also want to mention that for $4 extra you can get a drink, salad or rice, and a piece of Baklava with your meal.

I have to tell you I did have a problem with the cleanliness and made the fatal mistake of using the bathroom which grossed me out.  Still, it will not stop me from visiting Captain Pete’s when I have a craving for gyros.

What’s Cooking Tallahassee’s Rating:
Atmosphere: C
Taste: A
Presentation: B
Service: B
Cleanliness: D
Price: $

Captain Pete's House of Gyros on Urbanspoon

Today was the Grand Opening of Hurricane Grill & Wings located at 6800 Thomasville Road here in Tallahassee, Florida.  It is located in the strip mall just south of Chiles High School.

Hurricane Grill has what I would call a beach or Key West type theme and decor.   It offers a very casual dining atmosphere which appealed to me.   I would feel comfortable eating here with my family or my co-worker and fellow food blogger, Mike.  There is an outside patio and bar where you can eat, in addition to another bar inside the restaurant itself.  The inside is very bright, comfortable and inviting.

We sat in the bar area.  Our waiter was very enthusiastic and explained the sauces and menu to us with great exuberance.   Since we were there at lunch time, he asked if we were under any time constraints and made sure we were in and out in the time we had for lunch.

I started out with an order fo the Fried Pickles with Cyclone Sauce.  These can be addictive like the menu states.  The Dill pickle chips are fried and served with our Hurricane Grill’s Cyclone Sauce.  The Cyclone Sauce is a combination of the spicy Firecracker Sauce and ranch dressing.  The fried pickles arrived in a stylish paper cone.  I personally thought they were a little greasy, but good and really enjoyed the flavor when dipped in the Cyclone Sauce.

Now, I know it is a wing place, but I have to tell you I got a little overwhelmed with the 30+ sauces and just could not make up my mind.   Plus, the menu offers a wide selection of other fare besides the wings.  I went with the Firecracker Shrimp Tacos.   The shrimp is tossed in Firecracker Sauce and served on a bed of Thai Slaw in soft shell tacos and garnished with sesame seeds.   Your choice of sides are crispy natural cut French fries, kettle chips or Hurricane Slaw.  The tacos were served with sides of sour cream, guacamole and salsa; however, I felt none were needed to really enjoy this dish.  The Thai Slaw was just the right accompaniment.  I went with a side of Hurricane Slaw and was a little disappointed, finding it bland.

Overall, Hurricane Grill seems like a great place to grab a bite to eat with the family or relax and hang out; having a few drinks and wings with friends.  Hurricane Grill is running some great Grand Opening specials, so be sure not to miss out on them.

What’s Cooking Tallahassee’s Rating:
Atmosphere: B
Taste: B
Presentation: B
Service: B
Cleanliness: A
Price: $

Hurricane Grill & Wings on Urbanspoon

A new eating establishment called Lan Xang just opened off of Kerry Forest in NE Tallahassee which I wanted to give a try.  My buddy Mike from work had discovered it last week and came back to the office with carry-out.  He had gotten a Red Curry dish which he let me sample.  It had a nice smooth taste, yet spicy.  It was a good spicy taste too in that it did not linger in your mouth too long and leave a burning sensation.   I knew I needed to try more.

So, the following Friday, Mike and I were off to try their dine-in service.  The menu indicated Lan Xang was formerly Sushilicous.  (I hate to admit it, but I had never been to Sushilicous.)  The menu offered a wide variety of fare, and there was a separate menu for Specialty Rolls.  The owner told us the fresh fish for the Specialty Rolls was delivered weekly from ITN.  Mike ordered some Specialty Rolls, but I decided to try an appetizer instead.  I have a weak spot for Krab Ragoon, so had to try them.  The Specialty Rolls were brought out before my appetizer.  Mike had just about finish the rolls when my appetizer arrived.  I was surprised, in a good way, to find the Krab Ragoon were folded in a different manner and somewhat flat.  I have never been served Krab Ragoon in this shape before and have to say I liked the variety.  The filling included a hint of spinach. 

For my entrée I ordered the A3 Specialty with chicken.  The dish was described in the menu as lightly breaded meat sautéed with vegetables and sweet & sour sauce.  Do not let the word “breaded” scare you.  It was very lightly breaded, if at all, which made the dish even more appealing to me.   When the dish was brought to the table , the aroma itself was mouth-watering.  The dish came with a side of Jasmine rice.  The dish contained nice pieces of chicken with fresh vegetables.  The vegetables were not over cook and the sweet and sour sauce was nice and light, unlike the over thickened sauces one usually gets when ordering a sweet and sour dish.  My only real complaint with the entrée was they brought out my buddy’s entrée first and I had to tell him to start so his food would not get cold while I waited.  The service was very friendly and I will give them the benefit of the doubt with regard to the timing of the food service since they have just opened.  Overall, I plan on going back.  Do not forget they also do carry-out!

 What’s Cooking Tallahassee’s Rating:
Atmosphere: B
Taste: A
Presentation: B
Service: B
Cleanliness: A
Price: $

Lan Xang on Urbanspoon

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