8.29.2009

Noodles with Shrimp and Snow Peas

Pin It Tonight, my friend is taking me to a concert. So I made a quick dinner for myself before he picks me up. I had some shrimp in the freezer and snow peas in the fridge. I found half of an opened pack of rice noodles in my pantry and got to work. Using lots of garlic and ginger, I stir fried everything (after cooking the noodles) in soy and oyster sauce, and am now happily full.

Pork with Pork

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On Friday, I had a couple of friends over for dinner and used a lot of prosciutto to make a delicious meal. We started off with prosciutto wrapped melon. Which was nice and salty, and sweet.

We also had prosciutto wrapped pork chops. I first seasoned the chops with salt, pepper and fresh thyme, then wrapped each one with two slices of prosciutto, and cooked them in a non-stick skillet. Non-stick was the key here.

For sides, we had roasted potatoes with rosemary, roasted green beans, and roasted eggplant (which I cooked over low heat in the oven for several hours).

My friends kept insisting I had used butter somewhere in the dish, but I had to keep telling them I didn't, just olive oil. It was like we were in a "I can't believe it's not butter" commercial. I'm convinced, although butter is tasty, you can often skip it when cooking a nice, fatty piece of meat, and still get that delicious butter flavor.

8.27.2009

Good-Looking Halibut

Pin It Today after work, we went to Howie's Market in Pasadena, because my husband heard something about their Italian sausages. And he wanted to take some camping. Featuring Alexander's Meats, Howie's Market was small and overpriced. But we got some of their spicy sausages, which are made in-house and drove up the street to Hows Market.

Driving by both of these for years, this was our first time exploring either. Hows was more like a Ralphs from the early 90s (I'm told). They had a decent meat and seafood selection and we picked up some nice-looking halibut.

Once home, I pan seared the halibut with some sea salt, pepper and olive oil. We topped the fish off with tarragon mustard and more olive oil,which we picked up over the weekend, and I quickly cooked up a side of swiss chard. The fish was fresh and meaty, and the mustard a nice match. I was a bit sad I didn't have a chilled bottle of white wine to go with it, so I had to settle for some Shiraz. But no complaints. Everything was still delicious.

8.25.2009

Chicken with Salsa Verde and Pre-Dinner Reading

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Tonight my husband came home for lunch and made some salsas. And for dinner, he made awesome chicken with his tomatillo salsa and beans on the side (the beans we won't dwell on since they needed work).

So the chicken was super good. He marinated it with fresh oregano, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. He then sauteed it, added the salsa, a bit of water, and covered it to cook through. Yum.

Sorry, I couldn't come up with a better picture of the dish. I found chicken in sauce doesn't photograph well. However, me reading Anthony Bourdain, not so bad. I finished "A Cook's Tour" and have moved on to "Nasty Bits," which I read in my kitchen nook, sipping on Shiraz and waiting for my green chicken.

Now you might be able to tell from the picture below why I no longer frequent libraries, if not, let me tell you.
1) I'm convinced that my husband fell in love with me at age 15 because I gave him that look, in a library elevator. And one husband is all I can handle. Right now.
2) The stupid library won't let me in in my nightgown!

Quick & Easy Sprouts and Cucumber Salad

Pin It You too can make this. Seriously. It's easy and good. And crunchy. And crunchy wasn't an afterthought.

All you need is a bag of sprouts, and a whole seeded cucumber. Then a sauce made with with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Taste this and make sure you like it. Mix and pour over the veggies. Then roast some sesame seeds and add as well. That's it. You let it sit in the fridge overnight to marinate, and eat it up the next day, or days to come.

8.24.2009

Noddle Stir Fry and Lettuce Wraps

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We used to stir fry all the time, well maybe once a week, and now we don't. I asked my husband what happened, he said we got rich. That's funny. Because if we were rich, I'd be staying home! So that's not it.

I think I just got lazy. For me, stir frys are very prep intensive. Althought it all cooks quick and easy, everything pretty much has to be ready at the same time. And I lose interest in chopping and peeling stuff. So last night, I prepped all my veggies, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, sprouts, cooked up soba noddles, and stir fried everything in garlic, ginger, oyster and soy sauce, adding a little lemongrass from our patio garden. It was good, and healthy tasting. Soba noodles always taste so good for you.

I also made some delicious pork lettuce wraps, with some chilies and basil from our garden, and lots of garlic, oyster and soy sauce and a few drops of fish sauce. This was my first attempt at these, and they were tasty and so easy to make. We bought this scary "live" butter lettuce from the supermarket, with the roots in tact. Very tasty and perfect for wrapping, but pretty expensive. I'm eager to see how it holds up in the fridge and whether my rich self can afford to pay $2 per a head of lettuce all the time.

8.23.2009

First Time Mac and Cheese

Pin It It's true, I've never made macaroni and cheese before. I've made plenty of pastas with cheese sauces, but never the simple, homey mac and cheese. A coworker recently vacationed in Wisconsin and brought us all back blocks of sharp cheddar, so I thought it was the perfect time to give mac and cheese a try.

Also, earlier that day my husband decided to buy fancy and expensive white cheddar, so I looked up a few recipes, and got going.
After shredding the cheeses, and cooking the macaroni, I mixed together milk with Cayenne pepper, salt, and mustard powder. I then combined all the ingridients together with the cheese and macaroni, sprinkled some more cayenne pepper on top, then added bread crumbs as well. I used two types, regular Italian style and panko.

I baked the dish for about 35 minutes, and it looked and smelled pretty good.
It was pretty spicy, and tasty, and had a nice crust, but my husband thought it needed more cheese. I think next time, I would try a layering system to incorporate the cheese more consistently. Because some bites were pretty damn cheesy. For my first try, it came out pretty well. Good job to immigrant me, for taking on this all-American dish.

Saturday Shopping and Snacking

Pin It A friend of ours works at this gourmet food distribution place, and on Saturday, they had their first public sale at their warehouse in Alhambra. We got there at 11 am, an hour after the place opened, and it was packed. Our friend looked miserable at the cash register, so after a quick wave hello, we decided not to ask any questions and try to get through the crowds on our own.

We bought some items that are not so easy to find everywhere, champagne vinegar, some nice olive oil, good mustard, good chorizo, and my husband picked out a few stinky cheeses.

The line out was horrible. And that's pretty much all I can say about that.

We then went out to lunch with some friends, and one of our friends came back to the condo with us for some drinking and cheese and salami sampling.

I liked the salami the best. The cheeses were a bit too stinky. After our mid-day snacking, and quick house cleaning, we saw District 9, which was awesome. I had no idea what I was going to see when I went, having not heard/read anything about this movie. But the movie was really good. Really.

8.21.2009

Mad Men Nachos is All I Get

Pin It Mad Men is back to filming at my work. Here I thought, this is my second chance. If not now, then not until next season. So I guess now I wait until next season to meet my Don Draper.

I got my hopes up high again. Even higher than the last. Friends were giving me advice, writing poems on my behalf for him. I bought a new outfit. But then I found out only Roger Sterling was going to be here.

Roger is cool. He was here last time. He was here during scouting. He too looks good in a suit. But, he's no Draper.

So no Draper, and this time, I get a pretty crappy view from my window.
You know what I did get? Nachos from craft services that were pretty delicious. And an invitation to stay for lunch this evening. But I'm not into evening lunch, besides, I made plans to ride my bike to Home Depot. And Friday night Home Depot visits are the best.

Someday Don Draper. Someday soon. But in the meantime, thanks for the nachos.

Little Tokyo Adventures

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Last night we had some time to kill before a concert, and we hadn't had much of a dinner. So we ended up in Little Tokyo, and my husband wanted ramen. We went to a place called Koraku, which his family used to go to all the time. Surprisingly, in the last 14 years, we had never been there together.

A mixture of Japanese and Chinese food, the place was small, busy, and cash only. The husband had to make a bank run, and was back in time for some delicious noodles.
We started off with some kim chi.
And then split yakisoba noodles with veggies, pork and topped with seaweed powder, and wonton ramen soup.

Everything was delicious and satisfying. So next time you are in the area with some cash in your pocket, you should check this place out.

8.20.2009

Makeshift Mexican

Pin It I'm out of fresh veggies, so instead of going shopping, because that would involve leaving the condo, I decided I'd eat a can of beans, and a frozen tamale (although I heated it). I spiced the beans with oregano, paprika and cumin, and added some green onions. I poured some salsa over the tamale, and of course the margarita completed my authentic Mexican meal.

8.19.2009

Nonfiction is A-Ok, when it's about food

Pin It I'm currently reading Anthony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour" and it's probably the first nonfiction book I've read since graduating college. After having to read horrible things about being successful at your job and managing crisis communication, I've stayed away from anything that didn't whisk me away into some imaginary world.

But, this book is awesome. Bourdain is hilariously bitter and makes me hungry with his descriptions, despite the gross things he ends up eating. I think I'm developing a crush for this old dude, who is so skinny, even though he ends up eating 10 meals a day. My husband says it's the smoking. Sigh, why must I be allergic to cigarette smoke?

What I really wanted to read was Mark Bittman's "Food Matters", but my library doesn't have it. What are they good for, these libraries? So, if you like me, you should buy it for me.

New Pizza Dough Recipe

Pin It My husband tried a new pizza dough recipe on Wednesday night, from the King Arthur Flour book. It was pretty tasty, better than CA Pizza Kitchen's dough.

I made some fresh pizza sauce with a can of tomato sauce, salt, pepper, dried and fresh basil, and lots of garlic.
I topped my pizza with some leftover roasted bell peppers, olives, and ham. And the meal was complete with some pasta salad on the side, and Tecate left over from weeks ago.

8.18.2009

I'm an Artist, man

Pin It At the beginning of this year, there was no more denying it, our friend was moving to Texas (Austin, TX, but still) for a boy. Some of us were sad. Some of us were over it. A few were happy. And I was devastated. Everyone was shocked. Mean K, emotional? People weren't buying it. But it was true.

In an effort to gain some control of this horrible move, in an effort to remain close to my friend, I took an interest in her art. I asked her to teach me about printmaking. And we spent an afternoon or so shopping for art supplies, gchatting, and discussing my new life as an artist. Because within an hour of developing an interest in lino cuts, I declared myself an artist.

You might think, you're not an artist, but you be quiet. Below are my first two lino cuts. Pretty decent, if I say so myself. The fish one was done while consuming a bottle of wine, and it was my very first time cutting with the sharp little instruments. Yes, I cut myself. But that's what artists do, they suffer for their work.

Once I completed my Joshua tree design, and printed it, I lost my new found passion, and went back to reading tirelessly instead.

Although I have been ignoring my art, it has still been on my mind. I even got a fancy set of carving tools for my birthday, from another artist friend. And tonight, I decided to resume my half finished Joshua tree cactus, which has even made appearances in my dreams, but has been stored in my art box since March (that's right, I have a whole box dedicated to my art!).

I worked on it a bit and did a rubbing to see how things were looking (above).

Then, I worked on it some more, and did two more rubbings (below). I decided to add a border, and although my final one (on the right) still needs some fine tuning, it's coming along. I'm loving the clouds.

My friend has now been gone for almost 6 months now. But my life as an artist is still going strong.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Bell Peppers and Olives

Pin It Since dinner last night was so easy to make, I decided to use some fancy leftover pasta I had for a lunch salad. I had different colored bell peppers in the fridge and roasted those on my stove top, then covered them with a bowl, let them sweat, peeled them, and sliced them into strips about the same size as the pasta.

I also sliced some olives. And added salt, pepper, dried basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Today I had the salad for lunch, and it was delicious. The peppers were sweet and had a nice crunch to them. I often use roasted peppers in olive oil from a jar. But for a simple salad like this, it really makes a difference using fresh ones and taking and extra 20 minutes to roast them yourself.

I tried to think of what would make this salad better, but I really liked the simplicity and balance of the flavors. So, I think adding other ingredients wouldn't necessarily make the dish better, but different. Here's what I'd be willing to try next time: fresh mozzarella, marinated artichokes, or sun dried tomatoes.

Lox Bagel Sandwiches

Pin It Last night we wanted fish for dinner, but my husband didn't find anything appetizing at the supermarket, so he came home with some lox, onion bagels and cream cheese. Usually we make our sandwiches with red onion and tomato, but he forgot the onion, and since we had onion bagels, we used radishes and cucumbers instead. And it turned out very tasty, better than usual. The radishes added a nice spiciness and the onion bagel really worked well. Dinner in less than 5 minutes, not bad. And hardly any dishes.

8.17.2009

Nickle Diner

Pin It The Nickle Diner in downtown LA has been receiving some publicity lately, and is on Gold's 99 list. My husband and our friend had planned to meet there for brunch on Sunday. And even though I felt like death, I decided to tag along.

Unfortunately, wanting to die kind of takes away from enjoying delicious food. But I did my best. I had a side of potatoes and a chicken apple sausage. It was pretty delicious. The others actually had complete meals, which looked way more delicious. By the time the dessert tray came around, I was beginning to feel better, and we split a homemade pop tart with blueberry jam and a slice of red velvet cake. The pop tart did not impress me, but the cake was very tasty, with tiny chocolate crunchies inside. I'd definitely go back.

Wiener Mobile and Seafood Pasta

Pin It On Saturday night, as we were heading out to a friend's house, the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile was parked right in front of our complex. I've seen it around the neighborhood for several days now, but I wasn't sure what to make of it. Does someone who drives this thing live in Monrovia? Is there some promotion going on? Are there hot dogs inside? Can you park that anywhere? I hope to one day find out some of the answers to my questions.

So like I mentioned, we went over to a friend's house that night and made some dinner. A 12 minute seafood pasta, with shrimp and scallops. Nothing fancy, some tomato sauce, garlic, white wine and topped with fresh parsley and cheese. Quick, but satisfying.

8.15.2009

Breakfast Quesadilla

Pin It Today, I woke up with a migraine. It's pretty much the worst way to wake up, except for in strange places or terribly hung over. So I missed the planned morning bike ride and brunch. Instead, I needed a quick snack to take some pills and head back to bed.
Ham and cheese quesadilla, 5 minutes.

Life According to Mr. T

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I have this friend, Mr. T. He's a successful business man, with a gorgeous wife, kids, and fancy cars. Usually, within 5 minutes of being around him, he either threatens to slap me because I'm not being agreeable, or put me in my place. And he has some obnoxiously hilarious life philosophies. I couldn't make this stuff up, if I tried:

  • One wife, many lovers - this one is pretty self-explanatory
  • Three-day vacations only - he claims, there's no place on earth that he needs to visit, be it Russia, Maimi or Utah, that he'd want to dedicate more than three days to. And he sticks to this
  • Let the nature lovers, have nature - people, the outdoors are obviously not for everyone
  • (At least) one cigar a day, keeps the doctor away - I can't really argue with that

That's what comes to mind for right now. Feel free to adopt one, or all.

8.14.2009

Leave No Dumpling Behind

Pin It You know what's great? Having every other Friday off. Having every Friday off would be better, but what kind of world would this be if that was to happen. Too happy.

So today, I went to lunch with a friend who also has every other Friday off. He was feeling a little hungover, so I knew of just the place, Din Tai Fung Dumpling House in Arcadia. This place is good when you're not hungover too. What's not good is the crazy-hectic environment where they make you feel no so human, but like a dumpling-eating robot. There's always someone at the front yelling into a headset, rushing (even in place), and starring waiting customers down. And it doesn't really get better when you sit down. Within 5 minutes of being there, they make you feel like you're not eating fast enough and therefore causing the crowds.

Why go then? The dumplings. So delicious. So juicy. So perfect. If you have some patience and thick skin, and can overlook the rude, thin Asian girl servers, who don't want to be serving you, then you should definitely go.

And you need to get the juicy pork dumplings (below). The best dumplings there. I also like the pork and crab (pictured above) . . .
the pork and shrimp shaomai . . .
the sour and spicy soup . . .
and the sauteed spinach . . .
Of course there's a lot of other things that are good, like their shrimp fried rice, but we were only two people. And eating 15 dumplings a piece was already quiet a challenge. However, with some encouraging words and my bossiness, we completed the task.

After our late lunch, we took a leisurely drive up Altadena Drive to get some Bulgarini gelato. I know, I was just there, but it's so good, I needed a refill. And I needed to take my friend, who appreciates cold desserts. This time, I had chocolate (with salt from Florentine), Lemon Cream and Coffee Cream. I have to say, I like the chocolate without salt better, but the salty one was pretty interesting. I was so full for the rest of the evening, that I got too lazy to cook dinner, and instead snuck in some salt and vinegar chips into the movies and snacked on those.

8.12.2009

Belated Birthday Burgers

Pin It Last night my brothers came over for dinner. From the same house, in separate cars, because they get along so well. So, just imagine how fun the evening was. And to add to the fun of the evening, our grill ran out of propane, before the burgers were cooked. Nice.

Still, I managed to make some delicious cheeseburgers, with potatoes on the side, smothered in mustard, olive oil and thyme, and crab salad.

We also snacked on some salsa, which the birthday boy doesn't typically eat, but I made him try my husband's and he actually liked it. It was strange to see him liking something he normally doesn't. Strange.
We also played board games, at which my team lost terribly. It was embarrasing.