Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

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The husband selected another soup from his recent gift. This attempt was definitely tastier than the last. And even though I have never before tasted a broccoli soup that did not have a pound of cheese in it, and actually tasted of vegetables, I was pleasantly surprised with this version. I felt skinnier after having a bowl.

Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
1 large bunch broccoli
1 large head cauliflower
1 tbsp canola oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp caraway seeds
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1) Wash and trim broccoli and cauliflower. Break into small pieces, and cut stems into slices. Set aside 1/2 cup of each.
2) Heat olive in a soup pot. Stir in onions, garlic and caraway seeds. Cover and cook until onion softens, 4 minutes.
3) Add the remaining vegetables. Stir in stock and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 5 or so minutes until vegetables can be pierced with a fork.
4) Strain vegetables, and reserve broth. Puree vegetables, and add back to the broth.
5) Before serving, add the fresh vegetables and reheat briefly.
6) Serve with grated Gruyere cheese or yogurt.

Pizza Port and Beer, lots of it

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Over the weekend, we took a quick trip south to visit a couple of breweries, Green Flash, Stone and eat pizza and drink even more beer at Pizza Port.

Besides that Green Flash was packed with some sort of sport fans, who were there on some sort of party bus, and were loud and strangely dressed, it was great. And the pizza as delicious as always.


Pasta with Creamy Goat Cheese Sauce and Asparagus

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I think I saw this pasta recipe on Everyday Food and was won over by its simpleness. All this sauce requires is goat cheese and pasta water, yet it tastes very rich. I served it to my parents once and they didn't even complain. That my friend, is a big deal.

On the side we had salad with red lettuce, endive, arugula from our container garden, heart of palms, artichokes and olives. The husband made a tasty mustard dressing with fancy tarragon mustard, shallots, vinegar and olive oil.

Pasta with Creamy Goat Cheese Sauce and Asparagus
Serves 4
3/4 lb of pasta, elbow, bow tie, or penne work well here
4 oz of goat cheese
1 lb or so of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
olive oil
salt and pepper
Fresh herbs such as basil and parsley, chopped
Pasta water

1) Cook pasta al dente.
2) While pasta is cooking, drizzle asparagus with olive oil, season, and roast in oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.
3) Transfer pasta to a serving bowl, add goat cheese (I cut it up), herbs, asparagus, seasoning and a bit of the pasta water. Mix well until everything is coated with the cheese. Add more water if needed to get a nice creamy consistency.

This is best served immediately.

Fancy Beans Part 2

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The fancy beans series continues. Yesterday, I worked from home and made these for lunch. I started with heating a can of chili beans, then I added homemade tomatillo sauce and olives. The beans got a spoonful of sour cream, some green onions and cilantro. And a handful of tortilla chips.

Lunch Leftovers Make for a Nice Dinner: 101 Noodle Express

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I've been meaning to go to 101 Noodle Express since I found out it was less than a mile from my new office. But I've been so good, bringing my own salads and soups for lunch. Snacking on fruits and nuts like a squirrel. But on Wednesday, there was a power outage at work, during lunch hours, and it lasted two hours. This gave me the perfect excuse to head out for lunch.

The waitresses pretty much ignored us after quickly getting food on our table. But the spicy beef noodle soup and pork fried dumplings were very good. And there was plenty of food for me to take home, which I reheated and enjoyed while watching Big Love. I got away with sharing only a couple of dumplings with the husband, since he's in a weight-loss competition at work and is determined to win the $200 pot. Good for him. More dumplings for me.

Crab Salad and Fried Rice

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My mom had brought over several packages of crab, imitation crab, and I finally got to use them. I really hate the taste of crab meat, already cleaned, from the store. And am way too lazy to cook and clean my own for the purpose of a salad, so if I'm making a crab salad, I use imitation.

I've been serving a few tablespoons of it over butter lettuce or sprouts, and it makes a great lunch or side dish.

And the husband made fried rice with lots of vegetables. It's disgusting at how healthy we've been eating. I blame Mr. Bittman's Food Matters, which I read over the holidays, and due to my crush on him, took it to heart. Ah, the things we do for love - like eat less animals.

Crab Salad
Serves 6-8
2 packages of imitation crab, cut into think strips
1 bell pepper, I used green, any color would do, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 medium pickles, chopped
Dill, a nice handful, chopped
Sour Cream
salt and pepper

Cut everything up into sizes that work for you. I like my vegetables pretty small in this salad, combine with crab and dill and add mayo and sour cream to taste, making sure everything is coated. I don't like a lot of mayo and add a little at a time, until I feel there's enough. Season. Refrigerate. This salad is best cold, so let it sit for at least an hour.


MLK Day of Cooking, starring homemade Pasta and Kim Chi

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There's a story with us and homemade pasta. It goes back a couple of years. We were traumatized by a pasta machine, although we never got to use it, and swore off pasta for a while. But this Christmas we got a new pasta machine. A fancier one. It even came with a booklet that had a pretty girl on the cover, with no clothes on, just pasta drapped over her breasts. It made us rethink fresh pasta.

So on Monday, we went for it. And although the pasta machine inspired us, we didn't use it. We did use the new pasta book we picked up in Ojai. And cut the pasta by hand.
The husband made the dough, but I ended up finishing the rolling.
I used my favorite, hungarian bacon, for the sauce. The pasta was good, a solid B, but we could have rolled the dough thinner.
We even had a fancy salad on the side, with artichokes, heart of palm, radishes and kidney beans.

So the husband has also been on a kim chi making kick. And on Monday tried a new, traditional recipe after watching some funny Korean lady on YouTube.
It came out beautiful. Hence I took pictures, despite my lack of interest in kim chi making. I'm only interested in eating it. But. It was so very salty. I couldn't eat more than a bite the next day. For me kim chi is best left to be made by Koreans. For only they know about its delicious mysteries. And that's fine by me.

Two-Egg Pasta
3-4 servings
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tbsp lukewarm water

The rest is pretty much common sense. Make a well with the flour, add eggs, and the other ingredients, beat the eggs in to form paste. With your hands make a ball with the dough, add more flour if necessary throughout the process. Knead for about 7 minutes. Cover and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Roll your dough out. Then cut it based on the type of pasta you are making. We made fettuccine. We rolled our doguh sheet then cut it into 1/4 inch widths.


Pho at Golden Deli, with Ice Cream Afterwards

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Sunday was very stormy in Los Angeles. It actually poured pretty good. And this made me want soup. The husband has never had pho before, so I thought it was finally time to take him.

I had heard of the Golden Deli many times, but somehow we've always talked about going there, and never made it. Well, there was a long line when we got there. And the delicious smell inside the restaurant made the long line even longer. So we waited outside. After about 30 minutes or so, we finally got a table. Before we could sit down, we were quickly asked if we were ready to order. Now I've been rushed before. Many times, particularly in Asian restaurants, but this was just funny. Another minute passed, we were asked again.

We quickly scanned the 16 page menu, at this point a little afraid of getting kicked out for being too slow, and made haste decisions.  Luckily, my haste decision was delicious. I ordered the raw beef pho (above), and was all smiles as I slurped it up.

The husband and our friend both got the egg noddle soup with shrimp, crab and pork. Although theirs looked pretty, my soup was way better.

We also ordered some fried egg rolls, which were greasy, warm and perfect. And some lighter spring rolls with shrimp and pork. Also delicious, but in that cold, healthy sort of way.

Overall, I liked the place, but next time I go, I plan to study the menu online, and place my order as I'm being walked to my table, to impress the servers.

After soup, it was time for some cold ice cream at Fosselman's. I mean we were only a mile away. And ice cream in the rain is fun.

I had a tasty combo of dark chocolate and dulce de leche in a nice, calorie-free plastic cup. But unlike the others, I had trash in the end. Although one of my friend's always says, "Better let it go to waste than your waist," in the end, I did did feel guilty for poluting the world and not eating my ice cream vessel instead. Next time, no polution.


Ojai? Why Not?

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Saturday involved a lot of driving, and eventually a lot of drinking (but once we were a lot closer to home.)

We wanted to see where Pacific Coast Highway would take us. And it took us to Ojai.

We first grabbed a quick breakfast at Euro Pane Bakery in Pasadena. Sharing a vegetable quiche and pear tart. Both delicous. Although the quiche had mushrooms and I had to eat around them.

We then drove north. Heading to Ventura, then spotting a sign to Ojai, and deciding to check it out.

We've driven past that sign numerous times before, on they way to our many wine trips to Paso Robles. But this time the sign called to us. And we were not disapointed. Ojai is a cute town. Definitely worth spending a day in. We stopped by toy store, a beauty shop, book store (where I picked up a pasta cookbook) and ate a late lunch at Suzanne's.

Everyone kept telling us we had to try Suzanne's. We didn't argue. We went.

I had a super tasty crab salad.

The husband ordered a fancy grilled chicken sandwich.

The place was classy and old-timey. Kind of like Ojai itself.

After Ojai, the real adventures began. We drove back to home, and stopped at the Stuffed Sandwich, hoping to say hello to my father-in-law and his friends, who were planning on hanging out there. Although the father-in-law did not show, his friends did. And we had a grand time drinking lots and lots beer with them. A couple of hours passed, and then a couple of more. And we were drunk.

On the way home, we stopped at Village Seafood in Temple City, and had late-night Chinese food. Nothing like Chinese food before going to sleep. It gives you good dreams.

MoonCat Udon (and sushi)

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This weekend involved very little time at home. And a lot of delicious food.

Friday night started with udon and sushi at MoonCat. This place is two blocks from our house, and is probably one of the best restaurants in Monrovia. It has an interesting menu with delicious Japanese dishes I haven't seen at other restaurants, including spicy tuna shishito. These tiny peppers are stuffed with spicy tuna and dipped in tempera batter and then fried. Yum. One of my favorites.

But Friday was all about udon, and sushi. But I didn't take sushi pictures, so it's now all about the udon.

The husband ordered the sansai udon. With lots of veggies.

Our friend got the tempura soba soup (above) and I had the delicous tempura udon (top).

Although this place is tiny, the food is always fresh and tasty. And  it's become our walk-to place in town.


Acorn Squash and Five-Minute Pasta

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Another lazy and almost quick meal. Except that the squash needs to bake for like an hour. I had acorn squash that I have been using as a decoration for some time now. And on Tuesday I decided it was time to eat it.

I also had leftover pasta. So I made a super simple sauce, using a can of tomato sauce, a garlic clove, salt, pepper, dry and fresh basil. I warmed the pasta with the sauce, and topped it with some parmesean.  It was delicious.

Roasted Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash, washed and cut in half
2 tbsp butter, melted

1) Heat over to 375 degrees. Brush squash halves with butter, sprinkle with salt and bake for an hour or more. Until brown and tender. Half way through brush with left over butter and rotate. You can also add more salt. (I like mine salty.)

Canned Beans Made Fancy

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My go-to lazy dinner is a can of beans. There are many lazy meals that can quickly be created with beans. Some of my favorites include: nachos, beans with salsa, bean and cheese burritos and of course just beans. But beans made fancy. Because there's no reason not to be fancy just because you're opening a can.

I love chili beans from Fresh & Easy. They come in a nice starting sauce. And all I do is spice them up. I add a dash of cumin, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, and warm them up on the stove top. Then I add some scallions and cilantro. This time I got real fancy with sour cream and an avocado. Eating beans really makes you feel healthy, so much so, you think to yourself, these beans are missing some beer.


Soup & Bread. Salad Missing.

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I got my husband Ladle, Leaf & Loaf for Christmas. Something for the baker in him. His first impression was, it's girlie. And he's right. But sometimes he's girlie. So, he decided to go ahead and try a soup from the book.

There are many delicious sounding soups in there -- Curried Lentil, Chilled White Potato, Pureed Fennel, Roasted Red Pepper -- but, he picks Spinach and Onion Soup with Rosemary Walnut Dumplings. Now that might sounds good to some, but right away I had reservations. I didn't like the idea of walnuts in my soup, and I'm not the fan of so much onion. And of course once I expressed my concerns, he was determined to make it on his first day off.

I helped just a little. That was me pouring soup into my bowl!

It turned out the soup was. . . good. Something different. Something I obviously would have waited a year or more to make if someone had gifted me the book. But I wouldn't make this soup often. Twice a year. That's it.

The husband also baked some delicious breads. No recipe for the breads. He keeps those in his head. I just thought the pictures were pretty. But check out the soup recipe below.

Spinach and Onion Soup with Rosemary Walnut Dumplings
Serves 4-6
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
1 large leek, with some green parts, sliced
2 large garlic cloves (he added an extra one)
1 1/4 lbs fresh spinach, trimmed
4 cans vegetable broth
3/4 kosher salt
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
pepper (he added this)
a splash of heavy cream (another adjustments)
Sour cream
Dumplings (recipe below

1) Heat oil in pot, add onions, leeks, and garlic. Cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes.
2) Add spinach, cover, and continue to cook until it wilts, 3 or some minutes.
3) Add broth, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat. Stir in salt, pepper, rosemary, and cover and cook for another 20 minutes.
4) Remove rosemary, and puree soup.
5) Add cream before serving and cook for a couple of minutes.
6) Serve over dumplings, with a dollop of sour cream.

Rosemary Walnut Dumplings
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp finely ground walnuts
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chilled unsalted butter
1 large egg
3 tbsp skim milk

1) In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, walnuts, salt and rosemary. Blend in butter, using your fingers.
2) Beat egg with milk and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir to form a stiff dough.
3) Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a log, about 10 inches long.
4) Cut into about 16 pieces (we tried 12, but they were too big) and roll each into a ball.
5) Drop the dumplings into a pot of boiling water, and cook for 10 minutes.