Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

making bread pudding on Christmas

Random

Here are some random things I've made, and tried lately. Clockwise from top left: 
Roasted chicken with thai sweet chili sauce, chimichurri sauce, rice, beans and roasted potato salad with dijon vinaigrette. Chicken is often average and can be really boring. But when it's good-- it's really good. My goal is to perfect chicken, and have a handful of different sauces to jazz it up to keep my taste buds alert and excited. This attempt was extremely successful! 
Minty grasshopper pie - a See's candy recipe I found on their web site, which needs to be revamped with more specific instructions. (this image is what it was supposed to look like). What kind of whipped topping, See's? Clearly I used the wrong kind, hence no image of the actual, not-so-pretty results
Split pea soup with roasted potato/arugula salad again. I was inspired by the ham bone I nabbed before it got tossed after a luncheon at work. It helped make a really great soup!
Tapatio tray at a local taco joint (not because I made it, just because I like tapatio). Future post idea: document just what is right about SD Mexican food, and how everything else I try in LA County is just... not right. The tapatio was just about the only right thing I had that night

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Listening to Otis Redding, frying bacon and drinking Zinfandel

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is roasting vegetables, listening to the Shins

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Otis at Big Bear Cabin

 not exactly a food related post.. but this shot was taken on the deck of the cabin we rented in Big Bear over Thanksgiving weekend. Food holiday weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Listening and Cooking

It's an edited version of the previous. Short and sweet, it paints a picture.


Here are some from the past year.......
Big Poppa/Chili
Sharon Jones/Zinfandel Beef Stew
The Pretenders/Gingerbread Cake
The Plimsouls/Pie Crust
The Rolling Stones/Braised Chicken and Dal
The Reigning Sound/Quiche
Jawbreaker/Split Stuffed Chicken, sweet potato & chile salad with slow-cooked beans
David Bowie/Tiramisu
The Reigning Sound/Tuscan Soup and Cocktails


What shall I listen to tonight whilst making green beans for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Watching, Reading, Listening, Looking

Soon, I will have pictures from recent dishes I've made over the last month. Having technical difficulties that have taken precedent. Also, having physical difficulties that have been a challenge- fractured sesamoid bones in my left foot. Kinda sucks. Can't go for long walks, and probably shouldn't be standing on a hard floor in the kitchen for hours. But I've gotten away with some cooking..
That's why today I'm starting this feature- Watching, Reading, Listening, Looking- a concept I was inspired to do after reading the Distressed blog.
So- to stay connected, this is what's going on:
watching- mad men
reading- medium raw by anthony bourdain
listening- weezer and billy joel
looking- art by friends- three gallery shows in LA just one week ago!
OK and making- tiramisu... and Tuscan Soup

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review on last night's dinner



Last night I made Split, Stuffed, Baked Chicken with a Mexican influenced salad of Sweet Potatoes, Caramelized Onions and Guajillo Chile Dressing, and Slow Cooked Cranberry Beans. The main dish was Fall poultry comfort food, the rest was Southern Mexican. Not exactly the same 'flavor profile' but it was fine.
Everything turned out OK, but there were definitely challenges. Namely: timing. Knowing when the chicken is done and being able to estimate when everything will reach the table.
One factor that needs to be addressed is the temperature in my oven. Maybe it's time for a new oven thermometer. Recognizing that in the past I would often cook too hot, I now am so careful that it seems to take forever. I keep opening the oven, checking, putting it back in, wondering if the temperature will catch up during rest, setting my timer for another 10 minutes, watching the golden light brown color darken and darken, wondering when we'll eat, and when to reheat the other dishes that have been ready, wishing I hadn't dressed the salad yet... It still seems like so much guess work! I'm thinking that with properly calibrated tools, I will have a better timeframe and smoother transition from oven to plate.
My next point: I need to make and remake the same thing to master it. Otherwise each dish will always be a crapshoot and I'll have gained little knowledge and continue to over/undercook. I don't think I'll make the exact same chicken as last night, but I'll still do a whole chicken, perhaps an easier version from class where you just rough chop lemon, garlic and herb sprigs and throw them into the cavity. How easy is that? Then make a sauce from the drippings. OR maybe brining will become my signature, go-to move where I attain perfect, effortless results. 
Side note on the two Mexican dishes I made from Rick Bayless' book, they were fantastic. I love the way he gives you Riffs to change it up or add to the dish. These may become signature dishes too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekend Food Plans

Plant herbs in my new Wooly Pockets!!!
Make bread for the inlaws' bbq
Study for Monday's Cooking Final, which will include reading. It may or may not also include roasting a chicken, braising beef or pork, making Hollandaise, reduction sauce, possibly pie crust, a quiche and vinaigrette. I'm exhausted and full already.

There, now that it's out there in the world, I have to do it

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Recent Creations

With a little leftover pie crust, I had to make something! So I improvised and threw together a little rustic berry galette. It was delicious. I really probably should have had dinner first, but oh well.
Also shown is a Sazerac (in the juice glass) and the simple syrup I whooped up because I needed it to make said Sazerac. Yum.



I took a Bean Workshop class over the weekend, wherein I made Black Beans, Arroz Blanco and Fried Plantains. Pretty easy, really. The best thing about this dish is that it's like having a meal and dessert at the same time.









Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Pot Pie

Thanks Rachel Going, for a great recipe! My coworkers even loved it! And I got to practice my pie crust-making skills.




Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dishes I have prepared recently...

Which has kept me busy and is probably why I have flurries of blogging, followed by a month of silence. Anyhoo...

Thai Green Been and Shrimp Salad
Turkey Burgers
Roasted Thai Chicken (brined, rubbed and grilled with a sweet chili sauce on the side)
Hollandaise Sauce (yayyyyyy-boooooo)
Vinaigrette (haven't purchased dressing in months!)
Braised Pork Butt in Plum Sauce
Wheat Rolls
ZInfandel Beef Stew
Blueberry Muffins
Spinach Quiche


... and Dessert!
Crème Brulée, Caramel Sauce
and helped with a nearly-flourless Chocolate Cake with some French name
  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fabulous Vegetable Garden

On a recent vacation to Eastern Washington, I got to do a LOT of things. Visit my family (which I love), float down the Little Spokane River, bake pies with my mom, hike, practice shooting an arrow, see deer, moose, turkeys, bats, beavers, a rock show, AND check in on my parents vegetable garden. It was a strange summer up there too, so the garden was a little less predictable. But nonetheless, it was productive. Nothing is better than the earthy flavor of a carrot freshly pulled out of the ground.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hollandaise

You taste delicious.. but sometimes I turn my back, and you put on your ugly face. Why do you do it? Are you too hot? Too cold? Too quick? Not liquid-y enough? 


I made Eggs Florentine this morning, but jeez, I could use the practice on perfecting hollandaise AND poaching eggs. Success, but certainly not mastery. I have the feeling I'll be eating lots of florentine. I guess I know what I'll be having for breaky tomorrow too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chocolate Soufflé

Thanks Julia, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I made this wonderful chocolate soufflé last night. It was pretty darned easy, I know that goes against everything you've heard about soufflés. But really. Next time I might try to undercook it so that I can have a molten lava center. Molten lava, say it with me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Horiatiki Lentil Salad

herb garden


It's mid-August and I'm afraid that it's just too darn late to plant the big ol' garden of my dreams with lots of variety and pretty colors and smells and sunflowers and... I think maybe the best thing to do is to plant herbs and see how that goes. Fresh herbs make such a huge difference in cooking. Last night's class (braised poultry) was another reminder of how important fresh ingredients are. Specifically, what a difference fresh herbs make. Thus, I am paring down my big dreams (at least for this year) to having merely an herb garden. See image of cool-ass wooly pockets that are my inspiration.




Braised Chicken

Chicken can be so boring sometimes. That is, if you don't vary your cooking method every now and then, add fresh ingredients, and treat it like the versatile protein that it is. Last night in class, we made several braised chicken dishes. Coq au Vin, Fricasse, Morrocan-style, etc. Not boring at all. Though the cooking method was the same on all dishes, the variety in flavors was vast. And what a huge difference herbs make! And butter. And bacon.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mozza!

Pizzeria Mozza. WOW. Yummmmmmm. Did not disappoint. We shared several appetizers, salad and a pizza. Simple ingredients, treated respectfully, fresh and delicious. The simple greens salad was a variety of fresh, crisp lettuces tossed with a bright and delicious vinaigrette dressing, then piled into a tower on a plate. It was everything a salad should be, and bonus: cool presentation. We also shared a fantastic wax bean salad, my husband couldn't stop talking about it. The panini was excellent. The pizza, perfectly crispy and flavorful. The very best part of the meal was dessert. I have a sweet tooth and definitely love dessert. But at many places, it often disappoints. Mozza's Budino on the other hand was sensational. Butterscotch, salt, rosemary cookies and cream... Might have been the best dessert I've ever had, outside of my mom's (and grandma's) kitchen.
If the Pizzeria is the less fancy/expensive alternative to Osteria Mozza, now I REALLY must go to Osteria.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cocktails at the Tar Pit


ar•ti•san, noun: a worker in a skilled trade, esp. one that involves making things by hand
The Artisinal Cocktails at the Tar Pit are pretty incredible and made by just such a person. A couple weeks ago, I went there with several girlfriends for dinner/drinks. We tried just about every cocktail on the menu, plus a few more off the menu. I didn't realize it at the time, but because we ordered from the waiter and never stepped up to the bar, we were missing a big part of the experience: watching the artisan at work.
THIS time, my husband and I went for a pre-dinner cocktail, and got there shortly after they opened. We had front row seats at the bar for this unique show. Witnessing all of the ingredients that went into crafting one drink, plus the unusual shaking maneuver made me appreciate these cocktails even more. While making one bourbon-based beverage for us, the bartender carved a slice of orange rind from the fruit, smeared it around the glass it would eventually be served in, then lit a wood match, hovered the rind above the flame for a few seconds, poured the cocktail from shaker to glass, then balanced the warmed rind on the outer edge. I may have even seen it flambé for a split second. Quite a beverage, quite a show!


One more magnificent detail: the ice cubes. These blocks of ice were enormous and never seemed to melt. We were intrigued. What kind of mold did they use? What kind of water? For being one of the most basic elements used in making a drink, these cubes were noteworthy and added yet another dimension to the entire experience. Thumbs up to the artisan bartender, who takes his job very seriously.

Crispy Fried Catfish with Remoulade

I'm getting to be pretty good at remoulade! Made this dish in class with a partner. Was a delicious, authentic tasting dish.
The following week, I made Shrimp Po' Boys with sauce (very similar to Remoulade). The trickiest part was dealing with the fluctuating temperature of the peanut oil while frying the shrimp. I never knew how difficult it was until I tried it. Apparently, a fryer is what you need, as opposed to the archaic oil in a cast iron pot with thermometer method we used. I guess for now, I'll leave the heavy frying to restaurants and bistros. I can't imagine how much fried food I might eat if I brought a fryer home (and my husband found out).

Food Truck Fest


Food Truck Fest was alright.. I only tried a few. At a Fest like this, they should have made smaller portions, so that people could sample several trucks easily. The price could have been less for smaller portions, then running out of dishes would not have happened so quickly, lines wouldn't have been so lengthy, and the wait to get your food after ordering wouldn't have been so long. I'm glad to know at least the price of admission went to charity. I did get to try the CoolHaus Truck, which was awesome! Their line moved swiftly, they had three flavors left by the time we got there, and we tried them all. I would go back to that truck for sure, and even to a Fest. I just hope they improve it so it runs more smoothly next time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Food Trucks


I am intrigued by this phenomenon. Growing up in San Diego in the 70s and 80s, you certainly didn't think of the taco truck as anything but a roach coach; nasty food when you were absolutely desperate, and afterward, you prayed you didn't get sick. But THESE days, especially in Los Angeles and other hip, trend-setting towns like Portland and Austin, they are all the rage! I got a Twitter account specifically so that I could find the Kogi BBQ Truck. Got in line about 45 minutes before the truck even arrived, and ate in the car with my husband next to a park. It was delicious and I gotta say, totally worth it!

There are others. Tomorrow, there is a Fest in Long Beach and LA! I'm so glad, because I didn't want to have to get crazy trying to locate CoolHaus, the ice cream sandwich truck driven by and inspired by designers, architects, and other radical foodie people. It's going to come to me!

LB Street Food Fest:
http://www.lbstreetfoodfest.com/LBStreetFoodFest/Welcome.html

Fruits and Veggies, Part 2 and 3

Many many salads, broccoli puree, wild mushroom toasts, roasted red pepper toasts, creamed corn, zucchini fritters, onion rings, grilled veggies with mint raita, beets, corn, green beans, summer squash, fresh herbs, compote, peach crisp......... There are so many cooking and preparation techniques: roasting, sweating, stewing, baking, sautéeing, grilling, flambéing, toasting... no way vegetables are boring. no way! And fresh fruit compote is delicious.

Next: grains, legumes, potatoes and pastas. I made a tasty quinoa with dried apricots and pinenuts salad with peppery watercess.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lagger

I lag. I have had and made some good food in the last 3.5 weeks, but gotten too busy to report on it. I bought a car in that time, camped with 100 or so friends, been ridiculously busy at work, and started another dog training class. So, I guess I'm no slacker. Anyway- here are some fun things I've made.....
Soufflé all on my own at home, and even threw in some pancetta to see how it would turn out. It was delicious. Also, corn chowder, borani dip, heirloom tomato salad with olive tapenade and goat cheese toasts (pictured) and fake Joe Jost Specials.
The last cooking class was Part 1 of vegetables and fruits, and for dinner that night I ate 11 salads!! It was like a dream come true. Seriously. I could eat like that every day. We had last week off due to the 4th of July Holiday, so I'm really looking forward to tonight's class: Part 2.
Next up in my culinary adventure: Mozza for upcoming birthday dinner, and I would really like to hunt down the ice cream sandwich truck painted silver and pink, with architect's pictures on the side (not sure the correlation, but why not). Is there anything better than an ice cream sandwich? I think not. Also, I support the AbdiKraut Experiment, and will try my first one this weekend, Juniper Kraut.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

eggs & cheese & soufflé, oh my

Last night in class I made hollandaise sauce and a poached egg. Piled them together with sauteed spinach and an english muffin to make Eggs Florentine. It was a fantastic dinner! Then I made a cheese soufflé. I had never had such without chocolate, but it was a tasty little dinner too! These are the dishes I made myself- oui.

It was the 8 cheeses I tasted before all this, and the linguini carbonera I tasted afterward that pushed me over the edge. I need a nice long walk today, and a stick of celery for dinner tonight to counter all that yummy goodness.

Results

The Red Wine Reduction was fan-freakin-tastic! Delectable, even with such a small amount of butter.

On the other hand, the Beurre Rouge was chock-full of butter. It was tasty, but not terribly pretty. Trying to balance the temperature, I accidentally let it get too hot. Thus it broke -- looking all coagulated and homely. We ate it anyway of course. But damn- that RWR was the big winner! I consider the whole night a success just for the learning experience.

Luckily, I did not have all the ingredients on hand to make Tapenade Verde until the next night. Good thing, because there was a lot of time consuming chopping for this stuff and it seemed to take forever. OK, but not great. It didn't have the magic that the one in class had. This one turned out like Tabouleh, which wasn't the goal. Will try again one day..

Lastly, on Sunday night I roasted asparagus tips from Farmers Market with Olive Oil, salt and pepper. So easy and delicious, will definitely use this cooking method again.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Steak Friday Plans

It's been awhile since we've done Steak Friday. But I'm really excited about a couple sauces I recently learned how to make, so we're doing it! Just the two of us, plus the hound in tow. Great!

Steak Friday is a tradition that my friend's family in Minnesota has done for years, quite simply: they eat steak - on Friday. So straightforward. So uncomplicated.

Anyway- the sauces: I made Beurre Blanc in class on Monday that was so good, I wanted some alone time with it. Truly phenomenal, a game-changer. Tonight, I am going to break new ground by doing essentially the same thing, except I will use red wine (to go with steak), thus it will be called Beurre Rouge. I will also make Red Wine Reduction, so that we may taste each and vote on which red/brown sauce we like best. I may attempt Beurre Blanc again because I brought home green beans that might be extra delicious sitting in a little tiny baby pool of BB. Lastly, I will attempt a chunky green sauce curiously named Salsa Verde, though it is not made with tomatillos, nor is it Mexican/Latin/Spanish/spicy, etc. So, I shall rename it.. hmmmmm.. "Tapenade Verde" paints a more accurate picture. First, I will smear it on bread, then I may top a little slice of cheese with it. Who knows what other fine applications I will discover once it's on the palate. Not sure what the soundtrack will be. Hoping to eat before midnight..

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First Blog

Gee I hope this works... I want to talk about food, garden, home, art, maybe even music and other stuff on my mind and plate.