Monday, March 26, 2012

Ethnic Side of Lincoln: Pan Dulce Bakery

Sorry for the hiatus.  Although I may not have been actively blogging, I've been doing some research.  Today is the first of a series of posts about ethnic foodie finds in Lincoln, NE.

I don't know the why and wherefore, but Lincoln is home to several large ethnic groups.  Part of that history comes from the Russian and European settlements that made their way out to Lincoln.  You can see signs of that past through the Germans from Russia Museum and in the ever present fast food chain, Runza, which is named after a meat pocket style sandwich that originated in Russia.

However, Lincoln also has several other large ethnic niches as reflected in several different markets.  The two largest ethnic groups represented in the food scene are Hispanic and Vietnamese.  Along 27th, there are about 4 (possibly more) Asian markets.  Also along 27th are several Mexican markets and restaurants, even little taco stands serving late.

The place I'm launching my Ethnic Side of Lincoln Series is Pan Dulce Bakery.  The bakery is located on G and 11th (official address is 801 S. 11th) around the corner from a market and an ice cream parlor.

I've only gone a handful of times, but I leave happy and with a paper sack full of goodies.  Everything is incredibly affordable (four pastries runs about $2.50) so you can feel free to try lots.  When you get in, there is a stack of trays with tongs.  The first time in there, a little boy ran in with lots of excitement, grabbed a tray and tongs, handed it to his Dad, and started looking at all the goodies--he knew the drill.   

I have to admit, I don't really know what anything is so I try something different every time.  Most are puffy and cake like, but frosting isn't big.  On some, there is a type of crispy sweet exterior, others opt for fruit or bostom creme style fillings.  Overall, there is more emphasis on the pastry than on a icing and frosting accoutrement.

On the day I was taking pictures, I got a puffy coconut covered pink thing with creme on the top; it was something like an inside out  Sno-Ball but without the chocolate.  I also tried one of the Strawberry filled and one of the Boston Creme filled pies.  Dennis and I split a Pumpkin one last time and the Pumpkin is the best (although I am a little partial to Boston Creme).

The one repeat I had was a pastry that I call the Lobster Tail, because it looks like those Italian pastries of the same name.  These are made of light pastry (that my guess is shortening based) and lots of creamy filling.  I will admit that there is a slight aftertaste, but with a cup of coffee nobody is going to notice.

So, it you find yourself on 11th Street and you've got a sweet tooth, swing into Pan Dulce Bakery, grab a tray, put anything that looks tasty on it, and enjoy a treat. 

Pan Dulce Panaderia on Urbanspoon
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Making Colcannon

Last St. Patrick's Day, I posted a recipe on making Colcannon.  Since I'm not much at preparing corned beef, this is still my go-to recipe to celebrate.  It is warm, starchy, and meaty.  I'm including a video for making it below, but you can also check out the original post at

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Results of Bizarre Ice Cream Poll

Here are the results of the "Bizarre Ice Cream Poll."  The Bizarre Ice Cream flavor people were most likely to try . . . Jalapeno!

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seafood Chowder

Since I had the fish stock on hand, it seemed like the next logical step was to make a Seafood Chowder.  The nice thing about a fish stock base is that it imparts a lot of flavor.  However, you still need some kind of yummy seafood bits to chew on.  The catch is, I am on a pretty tight budget and buying seafood is not really in that budget.  So, a while ago I started stockpiling frozen seafood as it came on sale.  I picked up a large bag of baby scallops for $2.49, used a half of a ring of frozen shrimp, and a bag of seafood mix (octopus, shrimp, and fish) for $2.99.  Since all of it was frozen, after thawing it I soaked everything in milk to get out the fishiness--milk is the best insurance policy for seafood.

Since this was my first time making it, there was more improving, seasoning, and correcting than measuring of ingredients.  I'm going to give you an approximation of what I did--so consider this more of a journey than a recipe.

3 slices of bacon
1/2 red onion, cut into thin slivers
1 cup mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onions
1 orange (or red or green) pepper, diced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1-2 tsp. cayenne seasoning
2 tbls. sherry
1 cup white wine
2 large potatoes, cubed and with skin left on
4-5 cups fish stock
3 cups of baby scallops, frozen seafood medley, and shrimp
3 tbls. butter
3 tbls. flour
2 cups milk
additional 1/2 tsp of ground pepper and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

  • In a large stock pot, crisp the bacon.  When it is done, remove and drain on a paper towel.  
  • In the bacon grease, add the red onions and mirepoix and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the orange pepper and cook for another couple of minutes.  When the vegetables are soft, add salt, pepper, and cayenne seasoning. 
  • With the sherry and white wine, deglaze the pot.  After cooking off a little of the liquid, add the potatoes and toss in mixture.  Ladle in fish stock so that the potatoes are covered with liquid.  Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until fork tender.  At this point, add the seafood and bring back to a boil.  Then reduce the temperature to a simmer. 
  • In another pot, over medium heat melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux.  Add the milk, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and another little dash of sherry.  Keep stirring until mixture thickens.  
  • Once the milk is so thick it coats the back of a spoon, pour into the seafood soup.  Simmer together for about 30 minutes to incorporate all the flavors.  
  • Served topped with the crispy bacon, thinly sliced asparagus, and some drops of sriracha.  

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fish Stock

In watching old Julia Child shows, I was inspired by her episode on bouillabaisse. I've never bought or tried straight fish stock, but she made it look so fun.  So, I started hoarding shrimp tails and fish parts in the freezer.  As you can see, I picked up a salmon head from the grocery store: the fish department was about to butcher it and I talked the manager into letting me have the head (at a discount, but not really enough of a discount).   I also picked up a whole tilapia at a different grocery store.  This week, after doing my best to stockpile, I discovered an Asian market in town that sells just fish heads; I'll know for next time.  

At the Asian market, I also picked up lemon grass stalks and some dried, salted fish that have the words "stock fish" on the package.  They are fishy, salty, and a little sour, so they give a little extra flavor.  

Add in carrots, parsley stems, celery, onions, and bay leaves, and what you end up with is something really intriguing.  In chopping up the fish heads and then in the initial 15 minutes of cooking, all you smell is overwhelming fish tang.  It seems unimaginable that something tasty could could come out.  Somehow, after stewing away, you end up with a stock that is fish flavored, but not fishy.  

2 lbs fish parts (heads, skeletons, bones, etc), cut into large pieces
1/2 cup dried fish
1/2 cup shrimp tails (more if you have them)
handful of parsley stems
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 garlic clove
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1-2 tsp. cajun seasoning
2 tsp. salt 
Water to cover (10-12 cups)

  • Place all ingredients in a large stockpot.  Add water until everything is covered.  
  • Over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.  From what I read, if you cook to long, you end up with bitter stock.
  • Remove from heat and let set for 15 minutes or so.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer or a cheese cloth.  If time permits, let cool for an hour or so to get the impurities to the top, then skim that off.  
  • This made about two batches, so I used one and froze the other.  

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pies and Pints

 Over the summer, Dennis and I were driving through Charleston, WV, and decided to stop downtown for lunch.  One of the places I noticed was a restaurant called, Pies and Pints.  The menu featured lots of foodie driven pizza options--Grape Pie, Thai Pie, Mediterranean Shrimp Pie--and great microbrews on tap.  Unfortunately, at the time, Dennis and I were looking for something a bit cheaper and easier, so we opted for a more traditional Italian pizza place down the street.

When I moved to Lincoln and saw that there was a Pies and Pints, I was a little excited to get the chance to finally try one.  So, on Thursday Dennis and I had a date night and went to the Haymarket area of downtown to give it a shot.

Yuppied, trendy pizza place this Pies and Pints is not.  Catering to UNL college students, they offer reasonable pizza and cheap beer.  Students always gets 10% of regular prices with idea; lunch specials feature two slices and a soda for around $5.00; another special features a pint of Sam Adams and a personal pizza for $7.50.  On Thursday, we were able to get a pitcher of Miller for $6.00 and a large Supreme Pizza for $2.00 off.  Ultimately, not a bad deal.

The menu does have some pretty playful pizzas.  I'd like to try the double entendre ridden pizza, the  "Flaming Head," a pizza topped with chicken, sausage, Tabasco, jalapenos, mushrooms, and optional habenaros.  There is also "Wisconsin Best," bacon, macaroni, cheddar sauce, mozzarella, and cheddar.

So, though not the Pies and Pints experience I thought I was going to get, it was overall a success.  Nothing fancy, it is what it is--a nice college hangout with tasty food, pool, skee ball, and beer. 

Pies and Pints on Urbanspoon

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