Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tough Cuts of Meat

I brought home a nice lean piece of meat. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it, since it had virtually no fat.
I decided to season it with coarse salt, pepper, and simple Italian seasoning.
You can't go wrong with mirepoix.
I seared the meat quickly, and braised it for an hour in a mixture of tomato puree, tomato paste, and vodka.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bacon and Cabbage

I didn't have corned beef, so I made bacon and cabbage instead. After rendering the bacon down, I used some of the bacon drippings to saute a wedge of cabbage. I seasoned the cabbage liberally with kosher salt, then stewed the cabbage with the bacon in salted water for 20 minutes.

Here's a close-up of it because that's how much I heart bacon.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Duk Bok Gi

Duk Bok Gi is a very popular dish in Korea. Duk is essentially rice cake. Korean rice cakes are typically very doughy and chewy. It's like a dense gnocchi. It's usually cooked with cabbage and korean fish cakes (oden). Sauce is made with gochujang (red pepper paste).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fried Rice

The trick to making any good fried rice is to use cooked rice that has rested and cooled. I often use leftover rice to make fried rice. Japanese restaurants always tend to shape the rice, usually using a simple bowl as a mold. I did the same here.

Mentaiko Spaghetti

Mentaiko is very popular in Japan and Korea. It's basically roe from pollock, usually Alaskan pollock. Mentaiko is typically marinated with spicy seasonings.
The Mentaiko Spaghetti is a popular Japanese pasta dish. I prepared mine with butter and garlic, and topped it with nori for garnish. In keeping with the roe theme, I also garnished the dish with wasabi caviar.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Beard Papa's

If you've never had a Beard Papa's cream puff, you're truly missing out. This is a cream puff like you've never tasted before.
A big presence already in NY (with 4 locations), Beard Papa's has made its way to the westside with a location on Sawtelle, just north of Olympic.

Beard Papa's - 2130 Sawtelle Blvd. #110, West Los Angeles
310.479.6665

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chili Cheese Dogs

What really goes inside a hot dog? We all hear horror stories about all the fillers that go inside a hot dog. My theory is that as long as I don't see how they actually make them, I'll continue eating hot dogs without the fear of the unknown. I'm a huge fan of Hebrew National and Nathan's beef franks.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Musubi and the Art of Picnic Foods

The Japanese love their Musubis. Like sandwiches, they're great picnic and on-the-go snacks.
Oms/b in NYC is helping to spread the Musubi culture in the States. Until they have one out in LA, I'll be making my own:

Ao Ji-so and Shiba Musubi

Wasabi Furikake Musubi

Salmon Musubi - my favorite

Wrap them all in seaweed, and you're good to go. I also made a dill red potato, red onion, and green onion salad (also a good picnic food).

Friday, June 16, 2006

Prosciutto and a New Pepper Grinder

I had the deli guy cut me some thinly sliced prosciutto (turned out to be about 1/2 a pound). Here's what I made with it:

Prosciutto and corn pizza


Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, generous with the fresh ground pepper, cooked in olive oil and butter


Rib eye steak with a terragon and garlic gravy to go with the prosciutto wrapped asparagus

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Fried Spicy Shrimp Roll

I was worried about how this would turn out, but it turned out great!

I made a Spicy Shrimp Roll, but before I cut it into pieces, I fried one side of the roll on a skillet with peanut oil and butter to make a crispy shell. Since I sprinkled on some sesame seeds on the roll, both the rice and sesame toasted up nicely.

Spicy Shrimp filling consisted of first cooking chopped shrimp with Togarashi, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. After cooling, I mixed it with scallions, mayo, Sriracha, and wasabi.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Philly Roll

What could be more "fusion" than a Philadelphia Roll? It's essentially a salmon roll with avocado, cucumber, and cream cheese. Be sure to cut the cream cheese when it's really cold. It's easier to cut into strips. Here was the prep work.

Having an assembly line ready to go is essential in sushi making. A sharp knife is important too.

I'm a big fan of smelt eggs. Rather than putting them in the rolls, I decided to just throw them generously on top.

Yes, this is how much I actually ate. I was hungry.

Reddi Chick BBQ

Reddi Chick at the Brentwood Country Mart is home to some of the best rotisserie chicken on the Westside. I know a lot of people are fans of California Chicken Cafe, and they definitely have good chicken too. But sometimes, you want some fresh-out-of-the-fryer french fries piled on top of your chicken.

Yesterday, I had their ribs and fries basket.

Reddi Chick
225 26th Street, Brentwood
310.393.5238

Mongols Westwood

My roommate is a master at the art of Mongolian BBQ stacking. How it works is, you get an empty bowl and one trip to assemble your food. You start with the meats (usually sliced and frozen), then you load up your favorite vegetables. At the end you pile on some noodles and spices, and they cook it for you on a huge circular heated table.

If you stack your food right, you can easily make 3 whole meals out of your trip. Great for the budget conscious. Order one to go.

Mongols
1064 Gayley Ave, Westwood
310.824.3377

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hiro's Spicy Miso Soup w/ Dumplings

I mentioned in my last post that I bought a lot of dumpling wrappers. So I made more dumplings, but shaped them differently. I usually shape them this way when using them in soup.

For the soup, I made a shrimp broth using water, sake, and shrimp shells I saved in the freezer (Emeril always talks about shrimp broth, so I thought I'd try this). Cook dumplings in broth for 5 minutes. Add miso to taste. To make it spicy, I used Go-chu-jang. Add tofu and enoki mushrooms, garnish with green onions.

Gyoza

I bought a butt load of dumpling wrappers, so I went on a gyoza making rampage.

My filling consisted of:
Ground pork (the market ran out, so I chopped up a pound of pork chops in the chopper)
Napa cabbage, shredded (the key here is to add some salt, let sit for 30 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water)
Green onions
Soy sauce, Pepper, Ginger

I fried the gyozas with peanut oil in a skillet, then steamed them by adding water.

Dipping sauce:
Soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Green onions

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Guacamole

My lunch consisted of homemade guacamole and a Rolling Rock.

There's a lot of theories about the prevention (or at least the slowing down) of avocados oxidizing and turning brown quickly. Like apples, you can postpone the browning by adding an acid (in this case, a lime). There's also an urban legend about using the avocado pit to slow the browning as well. Either way, just to be safe, I used both.

My guacamole:

Avocado (1 large, or 2 medium, ripe)
1 diced Roma Tomato (I like the Roma for this because they're firm, and the juices don't run out)
1/4 diced White Onion
Cilantro
Lime
Kosher Salt
Garlic Salt
Pepper

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Venezuelan Hot Dogs

In honor of SEVEN Velezuelan pitchers starting in the major leagues on the same night, I decided to make Venezuelan Hot Dogs, inspired by George Duran's recipe from a recent episode of "Ham on the Street."

Toppings and condiments consist of crushed potato chips, chopped onions and cabbage, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. I skipped on the mustard. There was already too much stuff on it. The hot dog is buried under the chips.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Basic White Bread and its Evolution

Sara Lee recently came out with a bread with the taste and texture of white bread, but made from "the goodness" of whole grains. Until I figure out their recipe, here's my attempt at the classic white bread without the whole grain goodness.

Malia

For my friend Karen's birthday, we had a nice dinner at Malia on Main St. in Venice.
Edamame with hot chili oil
My rack of lamb
Karen had the ravioli
Cantaloupe and Lychee Martinis

Malia turns into a cool club around 10pm.

Malia - 2424 Main St., Santa Monica
310.396.4122

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lasagna

I'm not a huge fan of ricotta cheese, but I do love a good lasagna. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw a recipe in an old cookbook I had called "Savor the Flavor of the Edina Country Club." Their "No Fail Lasagna" was really simple to make, and more importantly, NO RICOTTA! Another great element here is that there's no boiling the noodles prior to baking. You just layer the dry pasta and the sauce cooks it in the oven.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Using one of the mother sauces

We're incorporating bechamel, one of the ""five mother sauces," to make a compound sauce: nacho cheese sauce.

I know that nacho cheese sauce is more of a novelty that you'd find at a Taco Bell over an authentic Mexican restaurant, but Ihappen to love nacho cheese sauce.

To make Bechamel (white sauce), heat equal parts flour and butter to make a roux. This eliminates the taste of any rawness from the flour. Add scald milk, whisk while simmering, and that's your basic white sauce. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

To make the compound sauce, all I did was add shredded cheddar. Here, I would also add jalapenos, but didn't have any at home.

I used chicken for my nachos today. I dry rubbed some cumin, salt, and pepper, seared the chicken thighs, then covered the pot and simmred in low heat in its own juices.

Canned corn replaced olives as topping today.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Chronicle of 365 Meals - afoodyear.com Review

I'm a relatively new food blogger. I'm still learning html code and picture taking techniques among other things, to bring to you, my audience, a presentable site. I hope I'm doing an ok job at it thus far.

I want to take a second to praise some of the veteran bloggers out there who are doing some amazing and creative things with their sites. A majority of these sites are maintained by food lovers. They're not chefs, restaurant managers, or professional food critics. These guys simple love food, and the art of preparing food through trial and error. Most importantly, they love to share their experiences.

One site in particular really caught my eye recently. Ken Sloan runs a really ambitious site called A Food Yearthat chronicles his daily dinner experiences. This is a guy who understands how difficult it can be to put together a uniquely different meal each and every night, but he's going with it, and doing an awesome job.

Here's a great quote from his site: "I believe that since we must eat to survive that we should make food a bigger part of our lives. I hope to inspire people to cook in their kitchens beyond the microwave and pry them away from the reliance on boxes, cans and delivery services as their primary food source. I understand that finding time in our fast paced society to prepare dinner every night is difficult, but it's extremely important."

And it's extremely important because variety really is the spice of life, and we shouldn't be eating the same meal day in and day out, even if it means taking yesterday's leftover rice and making fried rice cakes out of them the next day.

Another interesting thing he mentions is that he's actually saving money by preparing his own meals over dining out. I'm still learning to be more cost effective when I shop for food. I'm pretty good about how to shop, but I always have to buy that bag of chips for the ride home.

Please check out his site as well as other food blog sites listed (or not yet listed) in my links section. Let's continue to support and learn from each other.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Pizza

I normally use Trader Joe's premade pizza dough, but I decided to make my own dough today.

I really like Ciccero's Pizza when I don't feel like making m own pizza. They have a "buy one get one free" special.

Ciccero's - 11651 W. Pico Blvd, West LA
310.477.7758

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Curry in a Bread Bowl

Inspired by a post on aromacookery.com, I decided to take some leftover curry I made two nights ago, and put it in a sourdough bread bowl.

Japanese curry is is usually a thicker based sauce than the traditional Indian curry. Japanese curry also doesn't use coconut milk. I usually keep my curry simple: beef (usually short rib meat), carrots, and brown onions. My favorite curry spice mixture is Vermont Curry from House Foods.

There are three great curry restaurants in West LA, and they're all on Sawtelle Blvd: Hurry Curry, Blue Marlin, and Sawtelle Kitchen.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

America's Love for Mayo Salads

Americans love their mayo-based salads: Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Lobster Salad, Waldorf Salad...

The list is endless. I'm personally a big fan of the egg salad (though sometimes I really hate that hard boiled egg smell). What I'm not a big fan of is the amount of mayo used in most places to make an egg salad. I made a different version of the classic egg salad today that incorporates just a small amount of mayo (just barely enough to wet the indredients). I used some ingredients that focused the flavors away from the mayo:

Dill
Olive oil
Mustard
Ground pepper
Garlic powder
...and some sweet relish for tang

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hiro's Pulled Pork Sandwich

I took a stab at making my own version of a pulled pork sandwich. The Carolinas are famous for their slow cooked pulled pork sandwiches. They are traditionally served on a bun with a heaping of cole slaw in the sandwich. The BBQ sauce is also very important. In North Carolina, the BBQ sauce is usually vinegar based, whereas in South Carolina, the sauce is more mustard based. I attempted to make a BBQ sauce that incorporated both vinegar and mustard.

My interpretation of this dish is Asian inspired. The slaw is a mix of cabbage, carrots, and scallions. The slaw dressing ingredients are as follows (I just eyeball everything like Rachael Ray. No measuring spoons here. Just mix dressing to your own liking:

Soy Sauce
Rice Vinegar
Sesame Oil
Wasabi
Mustard (I use a Japanese variety)
Ground Pepper
Ginger
Shichimi Togarashi(seven spice pepper blend)

Always remember that with any salad or slaw, you don't want to drown your veggies in the liquid. Pour and toss just enough for a nice even coat.

I used a small pork loin, and rubbed it with a simple blend of salt, pepper, and brown sugar. I also put some garilc cloves inside the meat to infuse it during the slow bake. Always let the meat sit for a few minutes after cooking so the juices won't run out of the meat. After it's rested, just start "pulling" the meat into pieces.

I took the garlic cloves from the pork, and I used them in my BBQ sauce. I mixed together ketchup, rice vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, ground pepper, some of the juice from the cooked meat, and brown sugar.

I took some Japanese white bread that I bought from Mitsuwa Market and toasted them lightly in butter.

Mitsuwa Marketplace - 3760 Centinela Ave, 90066
310.398.2113

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ramen - In All Its Glory

Let us take a second to appreciate this beautiful dish called ramen. Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish loosely derived from the Chinese "mein." Like pasta, ramen noodles have a certain chewy yet delicate texture and helps fulfill our carb cravings. Before I ramble about my love for ramen, it's important here to not confuse authentic ramen with the instant variety we find in supermarkets. What we're talking about here is soup stock that takes almost an entire day to prepare, topped with slowly cooked pork (cha siu) and vegetables.

Although there are many ramen variations, the classic ramen is the shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. Every restaurant has its own recipe for their base broth, but it generally consists of slowly boiling pork, pork bones, leeks, and other vegetables. There's a certain art in parboiling meats and veggies as well. The shoyu broth is essentially a compound broth that combines the base with soy sauce. Another popular variation is the miso ramen, which is a compound broth that incorporates the base with miso paste. The traditional shoyu ramen is topped with (from bottom left) spinach, bean sprouts, seasoned bamboo shoots, egg, scallions, and pork.

One of my favorite films of all time is "Tampopo," directed by Juzo Itami. This film revolves around a woman's determination to achieving the perfect bowl of ramen. There's also a great message about the universal appreciation of food in this film for all you foodies out there.

West LA is fortunate to be graced with a few ramen restaurants. You can find me at Yokohama Ramen at least once a week. Another great ramen joint is Ramenya on Olympic. There's also a few nice ramen shops on Sawtelle Blvd. as well. Cheers to good ramen!

Yokohama Ramen - 11660 Gateway Blvd, West LA
310.479.2321
Ramenya - 11555 W. Olympic Blvd, West LA
310.575.9337

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ono Grinds and Nijiya Market

Here's an interesting fact: Hawaii has the highest per capita consumption of Spam in this country. Hawaiians love their Spam. They put it in every possible recipe they can think of. It's a fascination as well as a way of life, similar to how the people of Gilroy praise their garlic. From the eclectic vault of unusual Spam dishes emerges one very focal dish in Hawaii: the Spam Musubi.

This is comfort food at its finest. You have your rice and meat (though some would say meat is a loose term when referring to Spam). It's sort of like a poor man's sushi. The meat and rice are wrapped in a sheet of seaweed. Variations have rice seasoned with furikake (which is dried seaweed, sesame seeds, and seasonings), or brushed with a little teriyaki sauce. The Spam is usually fried on a frying pan for a slightly crispy texture on the outside. You can also buy Spam Musubi molds that help make perfectly rectangular Musubis. A more cost effective way is to just use the Spam cannister as the mold.

If you're not in the mood to make these musubis at home, stop by Nijiya Market for a quick musubi (under 2 bucks), or treat yourself to a Hawaiian brunch at Rutt's Inn (I'll have to do a separate review of Rutt's Inn sometime in the near future). Ono grinds in West LA!

Nijiya Market - 2130 Sawtelle Blvd, West LA

Rutt's Inn - 12114 Washington Blvd, Culver City
310.398.6326

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ode to Trader Joe's

On the menu tonight: Roasted garlic and button mushroom pizza

By the way, there's nothing more satisfying than roasting your own garlic. Slice off the top of a head of garlic, drizzle some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. The cut side goes down on a piece of aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Garlic goes in the oven at 350 for about an hour. Your house will smell like garlic heaven.

Trader Joe's ready made dough is the best alternative to making your own dough from scratch.

Trader Joe's has many locations in West LA: 3212 Pico Blvd., 10850 National Blvd., 3456 S. Sepulveda Blvd., and 9290 Culver Blvd.

There will be more Trader Joe's conversations to be had in future blogs, but right now, I'm going to go enjoy my pizza. I leave you tonight with Trader Joe's approach to genetically modified foods.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No More Orange Drinks and Beefaroni

An article in The Mercury News describes the Santa Clara Unified School District's efforts to curb junk food eating in their schools.

It's amazing to think back to my days in kindergarten, eating beefaroni and drinking those "orange drinks". In high school, the only things in the vending machines were sodas and candy bars. My high school years were spent while on a sugar and caffeine high.

It's sad that decision makers are often faced with sacrifing health and well-being for cost effectiveness. If school boards in this country have a hard time replacing textbooks, they sure as hell can't spend a few extra bucks to buy orange "juice" over orange "drinks." I hope more schools will take some initiative and find ways in their budget to take health more seriously. The diabetes rate in this country is mind boggling.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What's With the Egg Sushi?

So what's with the egg (Tamago) sushi on the menu at sushi restaurants? Does anyone ever order it? Is it merely reserved for sushi beginners who are afraid to try raw fish?

There's actually a very specific reason why sushi chefs offer egg sushi. In Japan, many sushi purists judge the quality of a sushi restaurant not by the quality or freshness of the fish, but by the effort and care that goes into making these egg omelets. Purists will order the egg first, and decide if they will ultimately finish their meal or simply walk out.

These egg omelets are traditionally made with eggs, dashi (a bonito and kelp broth), mirin (sweet cooking wine), and sugar. The omelet is mostly sweet, but has a slight savory aftertaste from the dashi. The texture is also something that chefs take pride in. There's a certain firmness and jiggle point that needs to be achieved.

As a kid growing up in Japan, I always liked egg sushi because it simply tasted good. I think the logic behind the purists' thinking is that any chef who puts so much care and effort into something that most people don't typically order is probably a very meticulous and thoughtful chef. I can see that in Japan where fresh fish is abundant, one would need something other than the freshness of fish to judge a good restaurant. Next time you're at a sushi restaurant, order the egg sushi first.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

My contribution for tonight's Oscar Party

I'm calling my contribution to tonight's party "Mini Thanksgiving Treats." I first prepared a corn bread stuffing using corn muffins, sage, celery, onions, toasted almonds, chicken broth, and Italian sausage.

Next comes the turkey portion. I cut up lean turkey breasts into little medallions. I dredged the meat in a light flour and spice mixture (sage, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper) and fried them lightly in olive and canola oil (to bring the smoking point higher). The dressing goes in buttered muffin tins and placed in the oven until a slightly crisp top is formed. The fried turkey medallions go on top with some Craisins (you gotta have the cranberry to get the full Thanksgiving effect). If you let it sit properly before serving, the dressing comes out clean and in a nice mold.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pizzicotto Review

I'm generally more partial to Northern Italian meals over Southern. In the Northern regions, butter is favored over olive oil, and homemade pasta is favored over the dry variety. Most Italian restaurants in America, from what I've been told, generally incorporate both Northern and Southern influences in their menus.

I had the pleasure of dining at Pizzicotto in Brentwood this evening. There is a wide variety of pasta dishes, including various stuffed pastas. I elected to try their lobster ravioli (at the suggestion of our waiter). The basil complimented the dish very well. The richness of the creamy sauce with the lobster filling was excellent. Definitely a good chemistry of various Italian regions.

This clam appetizer dish cooked in a wine sauce and topped with bruschetta was also a solid dish. Their wine list is pretty extensive as well.

My only complaint is that being a small restaurant, it can get a little cramped. Some may call it quaint, but I prefer to call it claustrophobic.

Pizzicotto - 11758 San Vicente Blvd, Brentwood
310.442.7188