Recipe Hack : Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter

By Tsz on April 20, 2013

Gastrophoria is homemade Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter.

Big news! You’re now looking at the newest recipe contributor to NatureBox’s editorial team!! Growing up watching Martha Stewart, it’s always been a dream of mine to follow in her footsteps and create in the kitchen. This is one giant leap closer to my personal holy grail.

Every week, I’m presented by an unique challenge of designing a tasty recipe that can be followed and replicated by households all over using healthy snacks that’s cooked up by NatureBox.

For my inaugural week, I was assigned to these spicy Chipotle Maple Almonds. Upon tasting a few, I knew I wanted to use them in one of my favorite preparations—creating a homemade chocolate nut butter from scratch! With just a few ingredients and a handful of minutes, you too can feast on your own batch of addicting substance (that’s entirely legal).

Best part is that the spice from the Chipotle Maple Almonds and pinch of cayenne gives the butter a subtle kick that is unexpected. Try the recipe as-is or switch it up by using hazelnuts (anyone say homemade Nutella?) or a blend of nuts for your own unique concoction. Let me know how it goes!

Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter
Yields 1-1/2 cups

1 package NatureBox Chipotle Maple Almonds (about 1-1/4 cups)
1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 generous pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil

1. Add almonds and salt to a food processor or blender and blend until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Scrape sides as needed with a spatula so the mixture processes evenly.

2. Add the cocoa powder, sugar and cayenne and blend until evenly distributed. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the almond butter and blend until smooth (like creamy peanut butter), about 5 minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil if you’d like a thinner consistency (for topping on ice cream!).

Tip: Spread the Aztec Chocolate Almond Butter on toast, layer with banana slices and enjoy! You can also try it with ice cream or eat straight from a spoon! If there are leftovers, store in the fridge in a glass jar for up to one week.

Happy eating!


Pizzeria Delfina : Lighter-than-Air Pizzas

By Tsz on April 16, 2013

Gastrophoria is a lighter-than-air prosciutto pizza at Pizzeria Delfina.

Ever since hitting my late 20s, I started experiencing hangovers. Not from alcohol—as I’m an one-drink-wonder—but from food. I used to be able to put away plates at the buffet or AYCE KBBQ, do late-night Denny outings, and stuff my belly with heavy foods without a care in the world. Now? Not so much.

So, a change in my eating plan. Now it’s flavor over quantity. The mystic unicorn-spotting is to hunt down dishes with taste that puts me over the moon, yet without the meat sweat consequences.

The pizza from Pizzeria Delfina definitely fits the bill. The crust is crispy and blistered from their oven, yet pillowy and well seasoned on the inside, making it a joy to eat the whole crust even if you’re not normally a crust eater.

Instead of plastering the base with the red sauce and cheeses, this proscuitto pizza instead employs just panna (cream), proscuitto and dressed arugula. The cream gives the crust slight caramelization and holds on to the thin sheets of proscuitto di Parma, which are luxuriously melting from the heat of the pizza. The greens provide a peppery bite with balance out the dish. And a DIY sprinkling of red pepper flakes and oregano takes it to the next level.

Best part? No hangovers. Happy eating!

Pizzeria Delfina
3611 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 437-6800

More pizza goodness:
Gjelina : Carb Heaven
Baco Mercat : Taco/Sandwich Hybrid Win!


Secret Squirrel Cold Brew : When Design Meets Food

By Tsz on April 9, 2013

Gastrophoria is being able to design for food. Even better when it’s for a product I enjoy, such as Secret Squirrel Cold Brew.

Most people work to live and some live to work. For me, I’d rather live to eat and design. As a young(ish) graphic designer, I’m not at the stage where I can pick and choose projects so whenever an intriguing opportunity comes along—especially when it’s food related—I have to grab it!

Secret Squirrel is one of those projects. Delicious cold brewed coffee concentrate… what’s not to like? Secret Squirrel Beta had a hand drawn label—lovingly DIY, however, not very conducive to keeping up with production demands. So using the remedy bottle as a launching point, I created a look that was inspired by alchemy and snake oil elixirs of yesteryear, refined it and made it mass-production friendly. What do you think?

During the design process, I’ve experimented a lot with different ways of using the cold brew (in the name of research!)—mixing it with different ratios of water, milk, half-and-half, etc. You name it, and I’ve probably tried it.

My absolute favorite way is mixing up a quick affogato. All you need is a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream, add a shot the cold brew concentrate and stick a cute straw in it. Makes for a no fuss dessert, or breakfast (When in Rome…).

Since then, the label has gone through another design adaptation but the spirit of the art direction remains. Happy eating!


Gjelina : Carb Heaven

By Tsz on April 8, 2013

Gastrophoria is a carb filled anniversary meal at Gjelina.

When your partner-in-flavor is the Gentleman Weightlifter, eating (relatively) healthy is one of the better habits I’ve picked up. However, on special occasions—such as anniversaries—all bets are off. Off we went for a carb marathon at Gjelina!

Sure there is a shroud of notoriety surrounding the Abbot Kinney eatery. Notable ones are the 2+ hour wait (on weeknights no less) and the Victoria-Beckham-and-Gordon-Ramsey scandal. All things considered however, their food outweighs it all. Especially when you’re rooting for team carb.

Such gems is their squid ink chitarra. Homemade al dente square-shaped pasta are adorned with flavors of the Italian coast: bottarga (savory fish roe—think seafood flavored salt), fried garlic, chili, parsley and crunchy breadcrumbs. Or the oven blistered pizza topped with anchovy, smoked mozzarella, roasted red pepper, capers and tomato confit. If you haven’t noticed, we’re into aggressive flavor combos that go pow to the kisser!

The best-in-show was the roasted maitake mushrooms dressed with creme fraiche and truffle oil lounging on grilled hearty toast. A mushroom lover’s dream and probably a mushroom hater’s worst nightmare.

The only break we took from carbs was the crispy Niman Ranch pork belly paired with creamy corn grits and apple glaze. To end the meal strong, we went with the gooey date cake with ginger gelato that was both spicy and sweet. Carb fest win!

As a bonus, a portion of the balance from our meal went to the Venice Family Clinic thanks to LivnGiv! My most recent find, LivnGiv is a cool, socially conscious website that allows me to support worthy causes simply by prepaying for my restaurant meals from their collection of curated restaurants (currently Venice-centric, but will expand to Los Angeles and other cities soon). With no strings or extra costs attached, it’s multi-tasking at its best.

Happy eating!

Ps. LivnGiv is kindly offering a $10 credit from now through April 30, 2013 (midnight PST). Just enter GASTROLUV when signing up for a user account!

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Phone: (310) 450-1429


Paladar : USC Underground Supper Club Goes to Tribeca Film Festival

By Tsz on April 2, 2013

Gastrophoria is a secret underground dinner made by Paladar.

It seems underground dinners and pop-ups are all the rage these days. While the choices out there are vast, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart (and stomach) for Paladar.

What makes Paladar stand out? Well, for one, it was created and ran out of an USC apartment—go Trojans!

Alex Chang and Robert Kronfli, both class of 2011, were tired of the lack of good food around campus. Instead of driving elsewhere to dine, they took matters into their own hands and started a supper club, Paladar, named and modeled after the South American cultural tradition of home-operated restaurants cooking with locally produced food.

For a kinesthesiology (Alex) and music industry (Bobby) major, they can sure rock it in the kitchen. I’ve had the pleasure of snagging a reservation and was astounded by how magnificent the cooking was, especially when none of them were formally trained.

Scallops were expertly seared and paired with a spring onion puree, yuzu kosho, fresh peas and spring vegetables. The raw oysters—which I was almost afraid to try as a college apartment isn’t exactly the poster child for food safety—were exceptional with the addition of Guanciale (Italian bacon) cubes and fresh wasabi.

There was also squid ink pasta bathing in a pool of Ika-shiokara beure blanc (aka fermented squid innards) with English peas and salmon roe. It’s a rather obscure ingredient used in Japanese sushi houses and to be completely honest, not too appetizing sounding. Yet, in the hands of Alex, the end dish tasted like spring taking an umami-filled vacation.

Dessert featured macerated strawberries and candied basil atop pound cake and creme Anglaise—offering another taste of a spring, this time a garden party.

Since Alex and Bobby’s graduation, Paladar suppers became more of a rare occurrence, which is understandable due to life’s many responsibilities. However, they are throwing a formal dinner dinner this Thursday, April 4, 2013. For menu and info, check out their Facebook page. Seats go fast so RSVP stat!

If snagging a reservation isn’t an option, you can find them on the big screen as the Paladar documentary will be debuting in the Tribeca Film Festival this month! Click here for the official trailer.

Best of luck and happy eating!

More underground goodness:
Come Fly With Me : Cooking an Underground Dinner
Foodbuzz 24×24: Ode to Foie
Foodbuzz 24×24: Fall Uni Harvest
La Source : Cooking for a Cause
Foodbuzz 24×24: 60s Mad Men Birthday Dinner
• A Green Dinner: An Homage to Munchies