Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nico's, Paddy's, and the I missed Donna Day Cheesecake

It's so funny that Kathy would post about Nico's right when I'm about to, but that is a testament to the awesomeness that is Nico's at Pier 38. Long have I waited to try the infamous burger and furikake ahi that Reid so adoringly reviewed on Ono Kine Grindz. And finally, last week thursday, I made it there. (I don't have pics of my own so I am borrowing from Kathy's A Passion for Food blog)

When I walked in, there was a line coming practically out the door to order, all the seats under the awning were full, and I was surprised to see those pager things usually given at restaurants at malls like CPK and Ruby Tuesdays. When it was my turn to order, I knew just what I wanted: a double cheeseburger medium rare, and furikake ahi plate medium rare.

When the food was ready I was nearly quivering in my seat because everything smelled delish. I carefully cut the burger in half so things would be fair between my fiance and I, and I took a bite. Now I'm not a big burger person, but when I have had one I like, I REALLY LOVE it! Currently my top burgers have been at In n Out (cali), and Teddy's Bigger Burgers. And this one is now ranked up there with my faves. The pattys were juicy and melted together with just the right amount of cheese. The sauce (not sure what it was, I scarfed the burger too quick to tell) was dripping from the savory soaked buns. The veggies were just the right amount and my optimal consistency between being too crunchy and fresh that the flavors don't mingle well with the burger, and being too soppy you can hardy tell they were veggies. I usually don't like onions (raw) but the onions on this burger weren't overpowering.

The french fries were actually just how I like them...soft but not too thick. They reminded me of a grownup version of mcdonalds fries. They weren't overly salted, and I ate them with ketchup before realizing (a little too late-I had only a few fries left) that they tasted wonderful in the ginger cilantro sauce.

Now to the ahi. I love fish, but don't eat it as often as I like because we don't buy it for home cooking (unless as poke) and I only go out to eat once a week. I was really looking forward to this ahi because of all the hype I heard. The ahi was cooked exactly how I love it, seared but not til dry on the outside, and juicy as sashimi on the inside. I love furikake on a lot of things and it went perfectly with the fish (with its hint of sweet) that I barely used the ginger cilantro sauce on the fish at all. Now speaking of the sauce, I was VERY hesitant to try it because I absolutely DETEST cilantro. So I made my fiance try it first, and he said you couldn't even taste the chinese parsley. In fact he was right! The flavor was a light touch of all the different components (cilantro, ginger, garlic) but not so much that you could really distinct one flavor from another. Needless to say, I enjoyed it very much, especially on my rice. The nalo greens were good as well, with the sweet dressing (that could have been a little less generous); maybe I'll ask for it on the side next time.

Did it exceed my expectations? Without a doubt, and I am counting the days until I can go back. Next time (though I would like to try something new-these items were so good I think I'm in a rut), I want to sit on one of the few concrete tables outside next to the water. I left with a giant grin on my face and my belly bursting with goodness.

St.Paddy's day was spent just like it should for a 21 yr old Irish girl. I started the day off with blueberry and golden raisin scones (using the last of the blueberries from my mom's cheesecake) and a modified Irish coffee using sweet Irish Mist liqour instead of Irish Whiskey in my coffee. For lunch we went green wine/beer tasting and also had some corned beef and cabbage at our favorite little wine shop "The Wine Stop". Then we went to "Tamura's Fine Wines and Liqours" and picked us up a bottle of Bailey's!

And what did I use the Bailey's for? Well as you can see, it was for an Irish style dessert. I searched the internet for a Bailey's cake, and found one that used white cake mix, jello chocolate pudding, and chocolate chips. It also had a glaze to drizzle on top. But I didn't have white cake and since I am a chocolate lover anyways, I switched to chocolate cake mix, omitted the chocolate chips (because I thought it might be a little too much), and decided to frost the cake instead. Now I know for next time not to use cream cheese store bought frosting because compared to the frosting I made for the pink pumpkins (previous post), it tasted too sweet and not as cream cheesy as I would have liked. I mixed Baileys in with the frosting, but after tasting a bit, decided that the whole cake didn't taste enough like the liqour so I drizzled....okay poured it over the cake. Maybe I was a little tipsy by that point. My sister had brought over Irish Cream with a hint of mint which we finished off that night....the three of us.

I also had for dinner a savory Guinness shepards pie that I made with ground turkey (instead of beef or lamb). It tasted pretty good, especially with some ketchup, but the sauce was too watery. I followed directions, it said I could add the marinade to the meat mixture before putting it in the oven, and though I put some cornstarch in, it didn't thicken like I'd hoped. Also the added Guinness sort of drowned out the other flavors of the fresh herbs and wostershire sauce I put in.

***Note to self, chambord is good with irish cream and ceme de cacao***


Hey, Hey, What is Donna Day?

I read several recipe food blogs now and see this universal themed thing called Donna Day...I have come to assume that Donna is a revered chef, even though I have never heard of her. Since I had been seeing all these blogs with a cheesecake theme for Sat.'s HHDD, and I was already making cheesecake for my mom, I thought, what the hell, I'll enter too. But no, I became nervous and wondered if these foodies would think I was butting into their event and since I didn't even know anyone, I just kept my post til later.

And today is later. I made, in addition to the wannabe pumpkin bars, a delicious cheesecake that was part recipe from a Woman's Day mag, and part make-up-as-I-go-depending-on-whats-in-the-cupboard. It was a no-bake, and I was wary, but it turned out so good that I'm glad I left it with my mom because I probably would have binged on it had we taken it home. The tart citrus blend went very well with the sweet blueberries. This is so easy and yummy, I will definately be making this (or a variation) again.

No-Bake Blueberry Topped Citrus Cheesecake


1 Nilla premade cookie crust

2 bricks Neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese) I was short 2 oz and it still turned out fine

3/4 cup sugar-I used splenda

2 Tbsp lemon zest

1 cup plus 1/4 cup OJ

1 pkt unflavored gelatin

Citrusy or your choice jelly (I used a local lilikoi-passion fruit)

Canned/frozen/or fresh fruit for topping-I used canned blueberries (NOT pie filling) but fresh would probably have been less runny


1. Freeze Nilla crust while preparing filling so crust becomes/stays firm. (easier to work with)

2. Beat cream cheese, sugar, zest, and 1 cup orange juice in large bowl until smooth

3. Sprinkle gelatin over remaining orange juice in a small saucepan. Let stand a couple minutes. Stir over medium-low heat until steaming and gelatin has completely dissolved. Take off heat and slowly incorporate gelatin mixture into cheese mixture while beating on low (or gently). Proccess until blended.

4. Spread enough jelly over chilled pie crust so that it thinly covers very bottom. Then pour in cheese mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours until firm.

5. Up to an hour prior to serving, garnish/cover/decorate top of cheesecake with fruit as desired.


Brilynn said...

Nice work on the Baileys! I like it in hot chocolate, or ice cream...

Mary said...

Anyone can enter the HHDD event. The cheesecake deadline has already passed (but check w/hostess Peabody) but there's always next month's HHDD!

Quellia said...

It's too bad you changed your mind about entering HHDD. It is open to everyone and anyone!
Heck! I'd never heard of Donna either and I still entered!

lindseydeer. said...

mmm. baileys mint chocolate chip ice cream.
seriously! if you have and ice cream maker you should whip some up..

Kathy said...

haha, I like that we have the same taste in food! nico's is probably one of the places I miss most when I'm gone...sigh, no one makes furikake ahi like them :)
oooh, I can't even remember the last time I had blueberry cheesecake!!!

A Pelaia said...

What a delicious looking cheesecake and the photo of the hamburger almost made me start nibbling on the computer screen. Yum!

Ari (Baking and Books)

Laurie said...

Thanks for the bookmark! And the cheesecake would have been worthy, and I only entered for my first time for the HHDD event with my cheesecake. I hope you will consider the next events! Your cheesecake looks great, I so love blueberries on anything!

Laurie's Kitchen