Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Indian pizza anyone?

A couple of weekends ago, Mr. Cupcake, Soo, and Chrisi went to Crazy Frank's Desi Pizza in Sunnyvale. Mr. Cupcake heard about it on an email food thread at work. Pizza is definitely one of the things Mr. Cupcake misses the most about the East Coast. I don't know what it is about the West Coast the mediocre pizza, but I'll tell you, the mediocrity is abundant.

Crazy Frank's Desi Pizza is located in Sunnyvale. It was tricky to find because there isn't much of a sign. However, if you're driving along, you can see a red lighted sign that says "Desi" in the window.

Now, this place is unlike any pizza place I've been to in my life. It's a buffet of sorts, but not one where you go up to the buffet line and take your slices of pizza. It's more like dim sum meets pizza. More on that later.

When you order, it's just ordering the buffet. Since they say they offer so many different combinations of pizzas, they don't allow you to order an individual pizza. Instead, you're at the mercy of what's being served that day. However, they do give you the option of vegetarian or meat. The buffet also comes with the salad bar. Now, the salad bar is a bit odd. It has chai, soup, kheer (Indian rice pudding), pasta salad, a big bowl of mixed greens, some bottled salad dressing, and a few toppings. You definitely don't come here for the salad.

The pasta was pretty good. It was a bit spicy, but try not to fill up on it. The salad wasn't anything particularly special.

Mr. Cupcake tried the broccoli soup, but it wasn't anything too exciting either.

We sat there and munched on our food. The next thing we know, a lady rolls up with a cart and offers us a slice of paneer pizza.

We happily accepted, and much to our delight, the pizza was quite good. The sauce was on the sweet side, more like a sweet Asian chili sauce. The pizza was topped with chunks of paneer (Indian cheese), cheese, and peas. The crust was thin and crispy and tasted like it came out of a brick oven of sorts. Chrisi described it as eating naan with Indian food on top. I could agree with that assessment, but also add that the bottom was crispier than naan. Overall, the pizza was very inventive, and also very good. Since the pizza comes around on carts, they have to serve other people in the restaurant, so we had to wait for another pizza to come. It's too bad because we wanted more paneer.

Next up was the chicken pizza. It was chicken, chick peas, peas, and cheese. We had this odd exchange with this guy who was dressed in plain clothes. At first I thought he was a customer that had an extra pizza and was giving it to us. I mean, it wouldn't have been that weird since the pizza comes around on carts. So, I told him I'd take a slice, and he tried to give the whole pizza to me. Eventually we figured out that he wasn't a customer, but in fact Crazy Frank. He ended up setting the pizza on our table. I guess since it had meat, it wasn't as popular. The pizza was okay, but not near as good as the paneer. At first, no one was really into. I liked the sauce since it was the same as the first pizza, so I ended up scraping off most of the toppings and eating it that way. The pizza lingered on our table for quite some time before Mr. Cupcake and Chrisi decided it was much better cold. We eventually finished off the whole thing.

A few other pizzas went by, and they were pretty good, but we were still in awe of the paneer, so we asked if they could make more. Fortunately for us, they did.

The buffet is $10.99/person which isn't a bad deal at all. While Crazy Frank's is a little odd as far as setup goes, it's definitely unique and also very good pizza. During the meal, I decided it had many of Mr. Cupcake's favorite elements rolled into one - pizza, Indian food, and kheer. The only thing it's really missing is beer. We will definitely be back in the near future and you should too.

I have been pretty busy recently - go figure. I'm backlogged like you wouldn't believe on places I want to blog about, but I hope to catch up on some of it soon. I also went to Seattle this past weekend and was able to visit with some friends I hadn't seen in awhile. All in all, it was an excellent visit for my first time to Seattle. I will have a post on it in the next few days.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to my friends who have given birth to babies in the past week. So greetings to little Madeline and Camilla! It seems there's a the baby boom going on among my friends, but fortunately for me, I have no part in it other than I can say hello from my little blog. :)

Monday, January 29, 2007

a date with a 15 pound turkey and 4 gallons of peanut oil...

I've had visions of deep frying a turkey for some time now. It was when we moved to our current residence, I realized this dream could be a reality with our barren wasteland backyard. Soo and I discussed the possibilities for months, but never taking any action. Finally, we decided to make it so. We set the date a week before Christmas, ordered the Bayou Classic Fryer Kit, and invited a boatload of people to come and indulge in our deep fried goodness.

The night before the event, Mr. Cupcake prepared the turkey by injecting it with butter, orange juice, and cranberry lambic beer. He created this special concoction after doing some research online.

We had a lot of time before the actual event, so we passed time playing some Wii.

We also watched video of Alton Brown showing the perils of deep frying a turkey on youtube. At which point, I started to have second thoughts. The last thing I need is to watch all of our stuff blow up into flames because I had this burning desire to deep fry a turkey. We were rattled, but Mr. Cupcake and I decided we had nothing to lose - we rent.

And, there she is. Baring all before heading into a warm bath of the $25 Costco peanut oil.

Mr. Cupcake took Alton Brown's advice, and dunked our bird into the oil when it reached 250 degrees. It seemed like a reasonable approach. The idea was that the temperature of the oil would rise to 350 degrees shortly thereafter, and all would be swell. However, the temperature never rose, but at least the oil looked hot! Mr. Cupcake and his army of helpers left it to cook, but anxiety was building. What if it was left in there too long? What if it blew up? Caution overcame the bird frying crew, and they determined after 45+ minutes at 250 degrees, it was time for the bird to come out.

It's the rising of the bird! Ooooohhh!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Finally, a deep fried turkey for the ages! It sure looked pretty perched on its silicon Silpat.

The bird then rested for half an hour to let all the juices settle. And then it was time! Mr. Cupcake carved the turkey and we feasted! Well, sort of. It turned out the turkey wasn't fully cooked, so part of a breast headed back into the oil. When it came out this time, the skin was crispier and much more delightful. The meat itself was very juicy, probably more so than any other turkey I've eaten. It was also oily in places. The marinade turned out to be a little too strong for some of our guests. Many commented they could taste the beer.

While Mr. Cupcake carved the turkey, Tristan took over the fryer. He managed to juggle both his beer and the deep mac and cheese.

As you can see, this was most of our spread. We made deep fried shu mai, jalapeƱo poppers, egg rolls, deep fried mac n cheese, turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and more. We had a bit too much food in fact.

After everyone ate to their hearts content, Chrisi revealed the first deep fried twinkie. I know it looks incredibly scary, but Tristan was brave enough to forge ahead. We even drizzled it in raspberry sauce for him, and he claimed it was good. I've had deep fried twinkies before and the center is like eating molten lava.

I think the best dessert was the Nutella-banana spring rolls. We slathered on some Nutella on a spring roll wrapper, mashed up some bananas, wrapped them, and deep fried them. It was gooey and delicious. Definitely one of the more successful desserts.

By the end of the night, everyone had had their fill. Our guests were bloated and some were liquored up, so what better way to end the night than with some Donkey Konga. Hey the Wii plays GameCube games!

I'd say our turkey fry was mostly successful. There were a few questionable moments i.e. fryer not hot enough, turkey, not cooked enough, strong beer marinade. I think next time we'll throw caution to the wind and really fry that turkey. Yes, I said again. We still have a deep fryer, so we might as well use it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

first post of the new year!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. To tell you the truth, I'm happy it's over. The holidays tend to be exhausting. In the past month I managed to finish up my job, deep fried a turkey (will post later), and did all the things Christmas... well as much as possible anyway.

Anywho, to embrace the new year, I've embraced the new Blogger and gave my blog a face lift. It's only partially done. Hopefully, my laziness won't overcome my efforts in actually customizing the thing. Only time will tell.

Speaking of laziness, it turns out I didn't do a very good job of posting in December. I could say I'll do an awesome job in January, but after two months of lackluster posting, I think I'll refrain.

I ended up getting quite a few gifts for Christmas this year including seven cookbooks!

I wasn't expecting to receive so many, but it's been a real pleasure. I felt very uninspired with my previous collection of cookbooks, which is why I asked for some new ones. I found a few of the titles from various blogs. I've even put some of these books to use, and I hope to continue to do so.

I also received a Villaware Panini Press. It's given me much happiness in the past few days. Mr. Cupcake thinks it's another appliance that will find a home in our appliance graveyard, but I'm out to prove him wrong!

One of my favorite gifts this year came from Mr. Cupcake's sister. Apparently, J9 reads my blog and took it upon herself to explore my new found love for the quince. She bought some quince at her local Wegman's and whipped up a batch of spiced quince.

The gift also came with a jar of quince jelly and an actual quince. Perhaps some quince paste is in my future? Actually, I saw a recipe for a pear tart that calls for quince jelly, so I'm pretty sure that means a pear tart is in my future.

So, that was my Christmas. I'm looking forward to a new year of new opportunities both professional and personal as well as an abundance of new food experiences. I already have many things to blog about (including the Great Turkey Fry!) and hope to find enough time for it all.