Monthly Archives: June 2009

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A night at The Doheny

doheny-top-picLast night, Peyman and I decided to scope out a potential venue for my big 30th birthday celebration which is coming up in a few weeks.  We ventured out to The Doheny in downtown LA.

The Doheny is a private upscale club with actual members that pay an actual membership.  There’s an initiation fee of between $2,000-4,000 and an annual fee of $2,000+.  I guess it’s sort of like a Jonathan Club for the younger, more modern socialite.  Luckily, my friend Bryan showed us a way into the club, free of charge.  In order to get in as a non-member, one must be on the guest list, no exceptions.  To confirm that you’re on the list, you receive an email with specific instructions.  There isn’t a sign out front and the entrance is through a parking lot.  What you need to do is keep a look out for a combination of 3 things: 1) a keyhole insignia, 2) a parking lot, and 3) a doorman.  When the doorman watched us approach the garage, 100 ft. away, he walked into garage ahead of us, walked slowly whilst humming a tune. He kind of reminded me of old Hollywood – wore a big black hat and black suit.  When he reached the doorway and his podium, he smiled and just looked at me.  I told him my name, he located it, then told me “No cameras or pictures are allowed. You can text, but no phone calls, ok?”.  As soon as I said “ok” we were cleared to walk in.

Upon entering the narrow foyer, I noticed dark tinted windows, dark wood floors and curtains.  I was a scared to walk in first, frightened that a hand would pop out and grab me as if I were at a haunted house.  Once we made it to the bar, I was surprised at the size of the space.  It’s pretty intimate at around 1,000 square feet, and there’s a cool greenroom patio with a fireplace where you’re welcome to dance and also smoke a cigar.  The DJ was in this room and he rocked.  I really loved the music: house.  Another thing that stood out was the Doheny’s cocktail list.  They use liquors I’ve never tried before and the bartender shook my drink a way I’ve never seen before.  I first ordered a Raspberry Pisco Sour.  It sure was pretty but it took a while for me to get used to the frothy egg whites.  My boyfriend had Macallan 18 and water – it was nice as usual.   Later the bartender made me another Pisco drink.  They brought me a Pisco and Rosewater cocktail and it suited me well.  It was pretty, lovely with hint of rose.  Ladies, you gotta try it!

Overall, it was a nice experience.   I’d like to celebrate my birthday at this spot since I loved the music, the drinks, and the intimacy.  Bryan’s contacting them to see if I can have a group over for my birthday.  If I have permission to have a gathering here, I’ll make a note on my facebook page.  If not, I think I may forego having a gathering.  I’ll keep everyone posted.

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Havarti, Dill, and Cranberry Appetizer Recipe

I sold real estate a few years back, and when holding an open house I wanted to complete the home viewing experience by serving up memorable appetizers.  I had so much praise for this appetizer.  I wish I created it, but didn’t come up with it myself – a friend made it for me, and it is so good that I want to share it with those that like to entertain.

Notes: 1- when you purchase the Havarti, make sure that it isn’t rubbery or very firm.  It is best when the Havarti is creamy and semi-firm in texture. 2- in every bite of the cracker, you should have a piece of the cheese, cranberry, and dill..the flavor combination is fantastic!

Havarti, Dill, and Cranberry Appetizer

Ingredients

Havarti cheese

1.5 cups dried cranberries

¼ cup lightly chopped fresh dill

Milton’s multigrain crackers – original flavor

Directions

On a serving plate, spread the cranberries and place the cheese in the center.  Spread the dill on top of the cheese.  On the cheese plate, have a knife for your guests to cut into the cheese.  On a separate plate, place crackers.

Alternatively, you can prepare each cracker for your guests. On top of the cracker, place a slice of cheese, sprinkle dill and  add  one to three cranberries, depending on the size of your cracker.

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Garlic Pita Chips Recipe

In my home, we use pita bread to eat Persian dishes such as kookoo-sabzi (an herb omelette) and cutlet (spiced beef and potato patty).  When I have pita left over, I use it to make pita chips for salads or as a part of an appetizer as a scoop for hummus or dips.  When I crave something crunchy and sweet, I toss the pita in cinnamon and sugar, bake, then serve it up with a scoop of ice cream.  Below is a recipe for a savory, garlic pita chip.  It’ll add a nice crunch to your everyday salad or appetizer.

pita chips

Garlic Pita Chips

Cook time: 7 minutes

Ingredients

4 pieces pita bread

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut pita bread into squares or triangles, whatever shape you prefer. On a baking sheet, toss pita bread, oil, garlic powder, and salt.  (For a low fat pita chip, remove olive oil from recipe.)  Allow pita to cook for 7 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley (optional).

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Sauteed Red Bell Pepper Recipe

When I have a bell pepper on hand and not asparagus, I enjoy sauteed bell pepper as a side dish.  Once the peppers get cooking, they become sweeter.  This is a really nice side dish.

Cook Time: 10 minutes    Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
2 cups of red bell pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Directions
Roughly chop squared pieces of bell pepper.  In a large saute pan, warm the oil over medium heat.  Add peppers, tossing occasionally for 7 to 10 minutes or until al dente.  Add soy sauce, toss to coat, and place on a serving dish.  Sprinkle sesame seeds over peppers and serve hot.

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Orientation today

Today I attended my Le Cordon Bleu orientation, where I met a few chefs and my classmates.  I learned more about the school, student resources, and that we’ll be given a lot of homework.  Many students start culinary school thinking they’re not going to do any reading or writing, but they are mistaken.  I’m glad that we’ll do a lot of reading because I’m a visual learner so it’s going to help me a lot.

In order to graduate I need to complete a 6-week externship.  I have to start planning for that and work in that direction.  I’m going to have to get a job in the industry soon.  I’ll put my resume together and will start applying on Monday.  Wish me luck!

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Sauteed Asparagus Recipe

IMG_0637

This is a simple and delicious way to serve vegetables.  I serve this at my dinner parties and it’s a crowd favorite!

Cook Time: 10 minutes    Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
1 bunch asparagus (1 pound)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
tablespoon sesame seeds
tablespoon soy sauce

Directions
Cut off tough ends of asparagus.  In a large saute pan, warm the oil over medium heat.  Add asparagus, tossing occasionally for 7 to 10 minutes or until al dente.  Add soy sauce, toss to coat, and place on a serving dish.  Sprinkle sesame seeds over asparagus and serve hot.

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Tribute to Michael Jackson

MJ

Today, Thursday, June 25th at 2:26pm, the legendary pop icon Michael Jackson was pronounced dead.  He died after suffering cardiac arrest.  He was only 50!  1958 – 2009.  I didn’t expect he would live such a short life.  This is a major event, as major as Elvis’s death.  Farewell to our King of Pop.

When I heard the news this afternoon, the song Ben started playing in my mind.  After watching his movie biography in 1997, I learned that the song Ben was about his childhood friend- a mouse that he shared cheese with, a mouse he named Ben.  Michael would chat and play with him while everyone was sleeping, until one night he was surprised to find him caught dead in a mouse trap.  Poor Ben.  So sweet that Michael wrote a song in memory of him.

As strange as Michael Jackson seemed in his later years, I was quite fascinated by him.  I found joy in his last album, HIStory.

He had so many hits.  The song Ben will always remind of sweet innocence and friendship,  I want to rock with you will always trigger the dancer in me, the Earth Song will always bring back the introspective side and modern dancer in me, and Remember the time will always exercise my memory as I do my 8th grade drill team dance routine to the song.

Michael Jackson’s favorite foods included sushi, Mexican, KFC, spicy food, cheese potatoes, and M&Ms.  As a tribute to Michael Jackson, tonight I will enjoy some of his favorite foods… sushi, a sake, and some M&Ms.

Cheers to you, Michael!

My prayers go out to you and your family, especially your 3 children.  You will be missed and you will be remembered.  RIP!

For your listening pleasure, here’s the song, Ben

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Tea Party

Growing up, my five sisters and I didn’t have tea parties.  Instead, I remember swinging from our massive eucalyptus tree, doing cartwheels on the lawn, making mud pies, singing karaoke, and playing make believe: role playing.  In elementary school, my sister Marie and our friends (okay, mostly her friends) would come together after school and play at our house.  Our parents weren’t home most of the time since they were working, so we had a lot of freedom to do as we pleased in our nice-sized backyard and garage.  Marie always set the scene and we played along, oftentimes with a British accent, and sometimes in the rain created by the lawn hose.  On many occasions Marie would be the queen and the rest of us would be her servants on her ship which carried fruit trees and livestock.  More and more we grew inspired by the romance, mystery, food, language and culture featured in movies such as Amaddeus, Secret Garden, Much Ado About Nothing, Emma, Sense & Sensibility and the like.  In Amaddeus, one unforgettable moment is when Salieri offers Constance a confection, referred to as Nipples of Venus.  They looked so delicious, almost as delicious as the sweets featured in Marie Antoinette and Nanny McPhee.  Marie and I love watching these types of movies together and when we get together to plan a menu for a party, we want the experience to be memorable.  At a tea party, we want our guests to feel free to indulge.

MarieAntoinette-styleCakesMarie Antoinette

As we prepare for our sisters and their childrens’ parties, we pull our inspiration from our childhood and make the whole experience as grand as possible, within our budget constraints.  In the process, as we work to put things together, we sing all the songs that come to mind.  I feel as though we live in a musical at times.  This may very well be one of the reasons I enjoy throwing parties so much – it’s an emotional experience filled with much happiness, love, and creativity.

2 weekends ago, my sisters and I threw our sister, Riva, a tea party for her baby shower.  Upon request, we purchased a few non-afternoon tea-related items into the mix, but for the most part, my sisters and I catered the actual tea sandwiches and sweets.  The menu included the following;

Sandwiches- cucumber mint, curry chicken, salmon dill.

Other savory delights: ham/cheese/dijon puff pastry, empanadas, quiches, and chicken siopao.

Sweets- fruit tarts, amaretti/raspberry/cream cookies, currant scones, macaroons, lemon cakes, red velvet cakes, pecan tassies, brownies

I made the fillings for the sandwiches, the puff pastry bites, fruit tarts, amaretti/raspberry/cream cookies, currant scones, and brownies.  2 of my sisters made the macaroons, mini lemon cupcakes and quiches…the rest we ordered.

We had a tea station with an assortment of teas to choose from. At the table everyone was given their own tea set.  We offered all the ladies hats and gloves, played games, opened gifts, even had a celebration cake, and it looked like everyone had a lot of fun.

It was well worth the effort.  Riva said she loved the little touches and was very happy to share good food and good times during this special time in her life, with most important ladies in her life.

I look forward to the next theme party that we’ll throw.  I wonder what it’ll be.  I hope we have a nice budget to work with too!

If we were approached and asked to cater a party, most likely we’d would be open to it.

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The simplest yet most delicious way to grill. Grilled Swordfish Recipe

During my last 2 years of college I lived a walk away from the beach.  Living by the ocean was so invigorating.  It inspired me to make all aspects of my life full of pleasure.  Not only did I start running every day, I started eating more fresh, healthy, and delicious food because when you eat well, you just feel well.  I purchased a grill and I used it to make wonderful meals.  When you have a simple grill, you can take it anywhere – I can grill at the beach, the Dodgers Stadium parking lot, a camping ground… just about anywhere.  My favorite foods to grill are fish and beef.  Why?  It is so simple.

I want to share with you a very simple and delicious way to grill.  In this posting, I will show you how to grill swordfish.  I use this same recipe to cook my filet mignon, so I’m pretty much teaching you how to grill a filet at the same time.  First, I recommend purchasing fresh fish from your local seafood monger.  In Los Angeles, I recommend Santa Monica Seafood.  My fish of choice is swordfish and second, ahi tuna.  One very important ingredient in this recipe is an actual outdoor grill with actual charcoal. Charcoal gives the fish an amazing smoky flavor and the marinade adds a nice rich flavor.  I use Kingsford charcoal.  I usually serve this recipe with my asparagus recipe and some rice.  You have to try this – you’re going to love it!

Cook Time: 10 minutes    Prep Time: 50 minutes

Grilled Swordfish

Ingredients

2 (8-oz.) swordfish steaks

1 (10-ounce) bottle Kikkoman teriyaki marinade & sauce (believe me, it won’t taste like teriyaki)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a marinade dish, pour in teriyaki marinade and lay swordfish steaks flat into the marinade.  Marinade on one side for 25 minutes. Turn over the steaks and marinade for another 25 minutes.  While steaks are marinating, get the grill started.  As I mentioned above, charcoal helps give the steak wonderful flavor.  Once fish has marinaded, very lightly salt and pepper both sides and place the swordfish on the grill.  Cook until slightly charred, for about 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip the fish over and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until just cooked through.  Remove from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with a side of asparagus or peppers and with rice.  Look for these within my Recipes category.

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Culinary school starts in 2 weeks!

My culinary school orientation is this Saturday!  At orientation students pick up all their tools, take tours and become better familiar with the program.  I wanted to beat the lines at the equipment pick-up site.  In doing so, I made an appointment to pick up everything prior to orientation.  As of yesterday, I have almost everything I need to start.  Yay!  I have my books, uniforms, aprons, knife set and other tools!   I am so excited!!!  I can’t wait!  I know this may sound strange, but I go to bed thinking about what great recipes I can share and come up with.  I want a large repertoire of original recipes.

I watch the Food Network religiously, and I actually like all of the featured chefs, but my favorites include Giada De Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Paula Deen, and Sunny Anderson.  Recipes I’ve used and loved most were created by Giada De Laurentiis, Paula Deen, Sandra Lee and Alton Brown.  I enjoy watching the show Throwdown with Bobby Flay but feel really bad for his opponents when they lose in front of their friends and customers, especially when they thought it was their day to shine on national television.  When the german chocolate cake girl lost the throw down, I yelled at the television, well at Bobby, because I wanted her to win..and I was almost sure that Cake Man Ray was going to win the red velvet cake challenge because his cake looked so moist, red, and delicious but Bobby won… so I yelled at Bobby again.  I’m not going to tell you what I said.. I wasn’t too harsh… and I still like Bobby.  I just feel bad for the proprietors – how well will the show benefit them when they lose?  Someone could easily use Bobby’s recipes to open up a cake stand next door called, The Recipe That Won.  I’m still going to watch the show though because it’s good entertainment… and I’m going to try his red velvet and german chocolate cake recipes too…yum!

red velvet

Throwdown is a great show for Bobby because he’s challenging himself to create recipes that can top the very best recipes out there.  I can’t wait to do the same and to learn more about what flavors work with one another.  Some day I’d like to be a part of the Food Network family.  In fact, a former coworker of mine, Jeffrey Saad, is a contestant on the show The Next Food Network Star.  I think he’s going to win or will at least have his own show.  Jeffrey and I didn’t know each other personally.  He conducted a few training sessions that I attended at Coldwell Banker – Beverly Hills East, then he left shortly after that to start his own firm.  I must say, I always thought Jeffrey had a strong presence and a lot of charm that made him very magnetic and effective.  I know he will go far in whatever he sets out to do.  I can’t wait to watch his show and try his recipes.

Before and during culinary school, I plan to post recipes that I enjoy and know you will enjoy too.  I’m sure my recipe development will change tremendously during my schooling and I’m really excited about it.

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