Monthly Archives: June 2010

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Day-off Dinners.

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A typical day off for me consists of cleaning the house, doing laundry, hanging with my sister, Riva and her kids, and cooking.  On these days, I’m considered her family’s personal chef.  If I’m at her house the entire day, maybe I’ll braise some sort of meat and serve it with rice or potatoes and roasted or sauteed vegetables.  Lately, since I don’t have much time to spare, I make simple meals that consist of a fresh salad, rice, and pork chops/loin, fish, or chicken.  These are simple, fresh, and healthy meals that are quite easy to prepare.

The highlight of the meal, for me, is always the salad, and my favorite salad these days is a lentil salad.  It’s so hearty, fresh, and satisfying.  Let me share this salad with you.  In a large bowl, I combine black Beluga lentils (which I purchase precooked from Trader Joe’s ), one chopped red bell pepper, zest of 2 lemons, some chopped green onion, 2 cups of sliced green and red grapes, and coarsely chopped, toasted hazelnuts.  I toss and coat everything in a citrus vinaigrette: about 2 or more lemons, juiced, with almost equal parts of olive oil, salt and pepper.  The traditional vinaigrette is 1 part acid to 3 parts oil, but I like more citrus in my salad…I do a 50:50, maybe splash in even more citrus and season with salt till it tastes just right.  It’s best served chilled.

On my dinner plate or dinner palette, I like having some basmati rice, a lot of salad, and either my serving of chicken, fish, or pork.  I cook my rice the Iranian way: Peyman’s mom’s way, where you fill a pot with water, salt it and bring it to a rolling boil, just as you would for pasta. Then throw in the rice until al dente.  Drain the rice, then place the pot back on the burner to heat up.  Add about a tablespoon or less of canola oil to coat the bottom of the pot, add 1/8″ sliced pieces of potato (or not) then add back the rice to the pot.  Wrap the lid of the pot with a dishcloth, and cover the pot with the lid.  Keep the flame on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, then bring it down to low heat so the rice cooks and reaches steamed perfection.  This takes about 10 minutes for 2 or 3 cups of rice.  The end result, if you use a nonstick pot, is a crispy rice or potato, in Farsi, “tadik” and perfectly steamed rice, fluffed nicely with a fork.  This adds texture and fun to the plate, crispy rice or potato and fluffy rice to soak up the vinaigrette from the salad.  I find this type of meal very refreshing, light, and delicious!

About an hour after dinner, I like to enjoy a bit of sweetness.  I steep a nice, hot Earl Grey tea and we drink it slowly with a lovely dessert.  My favorite after-dinner dessert is chilled almond cake with sweetened creme fraiche whip and mixed berries.  Okay, I lied, I don’t use creme fraiche, but close – I use sour cream.  I whip up about a cup or less of heavy cream with about a dollop of sour cream to medium-stiff peaks and sweeten with powdered sugar.  Peyman can eat the whip all on its own!  This dessert is so delicious and such a treat!  

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Today was my day off.  I spent the entire day looking for a second job.  Sadly, I’ve had no luck…I lack waitress experience and my schedule is limiting. No one has responded to my fruit tart business either.(waa waa waa)  As a result, I’m going to do something I should have done long ago, on the side.  Ready to hear what I’ve got?  Well here you go… I can make healthy, simple, fresh dinners as a personal chef.  

I can offer a family, single busy people, or couples my services 2 -4 times a week, as a personal chef.  Right now, I am open on Mondays and Thursdays, and I could work mornings to 2-3pm on Saturdays and mornings to 1-2pm on Sundays, depending on location.  I currently live on the border of West Torrance and South Redondo and can drive out as far as Long Beach, Pasadena, or Sherman Oaks.  

My other offerings – classes for individuals or groups, on cooking simply and deliciously on Mondays and Thursdays and the mornings/early afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays.  I specialize in Italian, Mediterranean, Filipino and Japanese food.  If interested, feel free to contact me.

When/if my schedule at Tavern changes to the 5am shift, I can work a second job more easily, by working for Lucques Catering again, which would help me out a lot financially.  I might even be able to work another shift somewhere or do personal chef-ing more easily during the day.

You know, watching the Food Network before culinary school, I thought working in the culinary world would be glamorous.  The reality is, working in a kitchen is very challenging and it’s very labor-intensive…it’s a lot different from what you see on television.  At Lucques, I’d carry heavy lexans filled with brussel sprouts and romanesco onto the top shelf (6 or more feet high), the lighting isn’t as good as it is on Giada’s show,  and if you spend all day washing and spinning greens, preparing and cooking meats and sauces, you can get a real mud treatment on your hands and face and a short rib and steak sauce facial.  I felt accomplished in the kitchen for going through all that physical pain..and I had to get down and dirty doing it.  Although I love the savory side of the business, I love that I work in pastry;  I come home smelling sweet!  The work we do in the kitchen and the pay that we get isn’t glamorous, but what is glamorous is that we’re doing what we love.

After I pay all my dues, put in all my hard work, build a business, sell it or expand it, pass it on, and reach Anthony Bourdain’s age, I would love to do what he does.  Travel and eat and drink.  He enjoys the sights, the smells, and the tastes of the world.  Now that’s what I call a glamorous life.

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My Life. My Fruit Tarts.


Fruit Tart I made in class

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I just spent an hour briskly walking along Torrance and Redondo Beach.  It felt good being out on such a gorgeous day, breathing in fresh ocean air, and feeling the sunlight on my skin, not bothered by passersby.  During my moments of peace, I thought about my life and how I want to live, this day forward.  I’ve always believed that Love is for Life and that good, positive relationships are necessary to live a happy life.  

Since my last entry, much has happened in my life.  I now work a regular schedule at Tavern, in pastry – working during the day on weekdays and working the line (plating dessert) on weekends; I have been star struck at work many times, at the restaurant, and especially catering an Oscar party at the CAA president’s house; I have a much more modest yet powerful car; and I recently relocated near the ocean – for how long, I’m not sure.  

Ever since I relocated, I’ve been trying to figure myself out.  I want to love who I am more and live a happy and balanced life, so I can affect those around me more positively.  Today, on my walk, I was thinking about what makes me happy.  I’m most happy when I do things I enjoy most.  I was thinking, if I could have, on occasion, my alone time to reflect and enjoy beautiful scenery, be surrounded by and/or in touch with those I love most in the world, cook and eat deliciously, work where I work today, write, stay physically active and fit, and make money at the same time, I would be a very happy person.  Today, I have most of these things except for the money part.   

Going into culinary school, I didn’t realize how much money I’d actually make starting off in the industry.  My ultimate goal in the industry has been to open up my own shop, hopefully franchise it so I can eventually sell it.  Some of my family members would be my partners/investors in the business.  They’ve been watching me struggle financially, but they understand that working at the Tavern is a sacrifice I’m making for our future business – it truly is a great training ground.  I’m working with and learning from the best and that’s what makes me happy about staying there.  I am not going to start a business without the necessary skill and expertise.  In February, Suzanne Goin asked me to stay at least a year, if given a position to work for one of her restaurants.  I gave her my word and I don’t regret it.  I’m reaping the benefits –  I learned a ton from the Lucques staff in catering and in the savory side and I learn new things everyday at Tavern in pastry.  

The only thing is, I had been relying on others to help me keep afloat, financially, and it’s taken its toll on my relationships.  I need to be self-sufficient again.  I need to make this work, stay with this job and be financially independent.  I’ve been looking for a second job, waitressing at a restaurant or a bar, but I don’t really want to do that type of work – I’m afraid it will tire me out…plus, the last time I waitressed, in 2002, I got hit on by men all the time- I don’t need that right now.  Ok, maybe I’m just making excuses.  

Ideally, I’d want to have the morning shift at Tavern so I can do more Lucques Catering gigs, which happen on weekends in the evening.  That would help me out a lot, since catering jobs pay much more and I could probably sell real estate (build capital) with such a schedule.  Since the early morning shift is not available at this time, I need to do something today.  But I want to do something I love and enjoy.

Breanne, our pastry chef, once asked me, “what do you like making most in pastry?..at home?”.  I told her I love making tarts, not just any kind of tarts, fruit tarts.  I think they are delightful, delicious, and fun to make – plus, my oldest sister told me those were the best fruit tarts she’s ever had.  I believe her because she’s had a lot of experience eating pastries.  But seriously, I have been told that I make a good fruit tart by those with the most discriminating taste. 

If anything, one thing I have mastered is the mini fruit tart (which we served at my sister, Riva’s, Baby Shower tea party).  Now, I am working on mastering the regular-sized fruit tart.  I’m just about there.

During college, my best friend, Susan, introduced me to the best fruit tart ever.  From Santa Cruz, she’d drive to a farm in Watsonville, where she’d pick up this masterpiece.  I think I have the crust and filling down… I just need the ollalie (sp?) berries.  I’m making a fruit tart this week for Susan and hopefully we’ll recreate what we loved best about the fruit tart we had up north.

So, where am I going with all this fruit tart talk?  I have decided to specialize in fruit tarts in the Los Angeles area.  Maybe I’ll get somewhere with this, maybe Wholefoods will pick up my fruit tart line.  Maybe I’ll make tarts other than fruit tarts.  But for now, as a side gig, I want to make fruit tarts, large and small.  If interested, and if you’re in the Los Angeles area, I’m taking fruit tart orders today.  Mini, bulk, 6-inch, 9-inch, 12-inch mixed fruit tarts.  Please order 48 hours in advance.  Email me if interested for pricing and delivery.

I’m going to get ready for another night at work.  I’ll keep you updated with my fruit tart business and other food news.  

I hope you enjoy your day!  Bon Appetite!

 

 

The slice I had this morning

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