Category Archives: Food

I love food. I talk about it quite often. If I talk about it, I was affected by it in some way. Mostly, I will talk about the food I enjoy most.

4th of July at Mrs. T’s

4th of July at Mrs. T's

4th of July at Mrs. T's

Mrs. T’s on the 4th of July was a wonderful place to be!  As I expected, Mrs. T prepared a marvelous feast!  On the menu was grilled chicken with Mrs. T’s Ginger soy marinade; chicken wings with another Mrs. T sauce/marinade; potato salad; macaroni crab salad; Oriental chicken salad, Japanese rice with rice vinegar, pickled ginger, and egg; 2 special types of lumpia – one with shrimp and the other with water chestnut, beef, and squash.  Aunt Carol brought Kalbi, Her neighbor brought a yummy spinach dip, Riva brought chocolate chip and cranberry/macadamia/white chocolate chip cookies and her signature brownies, and Marie, Peyman, and I brought pies: egg custard, banana cream, and coconut cream pie.  I know, I said I was going to make the ceviche tostadas with crab meat, but I had them earlier in the week for several days and  I was all crabbed out.  Mmm, the pies were really good!

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Pico de Gayo Salsa and Guacamole


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Still haven’t decided on what to bring to the 4th of July potluck?  How about chips and restaurant-style salsa and/or guacamole?  Try my semi-homemade salsa recipe that’s delicious and so easy to make.  Although I use a canned salsa for this recipe, the fresh ingredients make it deliciously vibrant and earthy.  The canned salsa already has lots of flavor and heat, and adding the fresh goodness livens it up and gives the salsa wonderful texture.  You can use this salsa recipe to quickly whip up guacamole (see below).  We use this salsa to top off tacos, enchiladas, burritos – you name it.  Your friends and family will love it!  Note: you may want to double the recipe if you’re taking it to a party.

Semi-homemade Salsa

Makes about 2.5 cups of salsa

Ingredients

7 ounce can Herdez Salsa Casera Mexicana

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of green onion, chopped

1/2 lime, juice

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

4 to 6 turns of freshly ground pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients.  Season to taste.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Makes abour 2.5 cups of salsa.

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Guacamole

If you want to make guacamole as well, you can easily make guacamole by mashing 3 ripe avocados together.  Add in about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the salsa above, plus juice from 1/2 a lime.  Mix well, salt and pepper to taste, add sriracha sauce if you like it spicy, and viola!  It makes about 2 cups of guacamole.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and have a happy and safe 4th of July!

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What to bring to Mrs. T’s for the 4th of July…

Ceviche with Artificial Crab Meat
Ceviche with Artificial Crab Meat

In my (almost) 30 years of life, I have spent the fourth of July mostly with my family at the beach, eating bbq, building sand castles, crashing with the waves, watching fireworks, and overall, having fun.  There have been only 2 instances when I missed this holiday with my family.  The first time, I was turning 16.

In early June that year, I asked my dad if I could have a party with a DJ for my Sweet 16.  I was surprised that he said “Yes” but more stunned by the words following, “Yes, you can have a party with a DJ.  Get a job and pay for it.”  So there I was, a 15 year old, at Subway Sandwiches on the fourth of July, making sandwiches with extra avocado, listening to K-Earth 101, the oldies music station, and wishing I’d be crashing waves in the ocean and rolling around in the sandy beach.  I didn’t think my life would ever be the same – I had a sandwich, not even a barbecue sandwich.  I had cold cuts and it was the fourth of July!  When my birthday rolled around though, all the bread and cookie baking, sandwich and salad creating paid off.  I had a party, paid for the DJ, the food, and the sparkling cider that some mistook for champagne.

The second time I missed a 4th of July with the family was 2 years ago when I decided to spend the day at Hermosa Beach with Peyman.  It was jam-packed with all types of folks- from your rowdy and belligerent, to your cheerful and patriotic.  We had sandwiches with cold cuts as we watched crowds of friends and families play and have good times at the beach. For me, a holiday I enjoy most and prefer is one spent with good friends and family.

This year’s a little different.  Instead of going to the beach or park, we’re going to Montebello, California.  We’re going to Mrs. T’s, Riva’s mother-in-law’s.  Mrs. T is a great cook; I’ve enjoyed everything that’s been prepared in her kitchen.  Born and raised in Hawaii to a Japanese mother and a Chinese father, then moving to California in high school, she’s been exposed to all sorts people and food.  I wonder what she’s preparing on the 4th.  Since it’s a national barbecuing day, I’m thinking she’ll be having some sort of grilled food.

I’m not one to attend a party empty-handed and I’m still deciding on what to bring.  Should I bring something sweet or something to snack on, or a side dish..how about something refreshing and somewhat healthy. We’re going to Montebello, an area that’s about a 45 minute drive to the ocean…I know, why not bring the ocean to Montebello?

Maybe I’ll make ceviche!  The other night, I made ceviche with artificial crab.  Ceviche is traditionally made with raw, sushi grade fish.  In fact, my sister, Mimi, used to make a delicious ceviche in junior/high school with yellowtail.  She learned the recipe through one of her friends.  It was so good, but we stopped eating it when we learned that the fish was raw, cooked using vinegar and/or citrus.  Since we lived very close to Mexico, and there were a lot of sewage breaks in Tijuana, Mexico (about a 5 minute freeway drive away), we didn’t want to mess around.  I still don’t want to mess around with raw fish until I’m professionally trained to do so.  For now I’ll stick with the fully-cooked fish that we call, artificial crab. If you didn’t already know, artificial crab is usually made of Alaskan Pollack fish.

I love ceviche with tostadas or chips.  For a healthier chip or tostada, I leftover corn tortillas to make tostadas or chips.  I bake the tortilla at 400 degrees in the oven for about 7 minutes or until brown and crispy.  You can add oil if you want to, but it’s not neccesary.

My favorite tostada brand, Los Pericos
My favorite tostada brand, Los Pericos

I always eat my ceviche tostadas with a few dashes of Tapatio sauce – salsa picante hot .  It is so good!

Here’s the recipe below.

Ceviche with Artificial Crab Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes     Serves: 4 to 5

Ingredients

1 pound artificial crab, shredded

3 to 4 tomatoes, diced

3/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

2 limes, juiced

1/2 cup crushed pineapple or diced orange segments (optional)

1 tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons of jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Tapatio sauce -salsa picante hot , as needed

Directions

In a large bowl, add the crab meat, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, peppers, fruit, lime juice, oil, salt, pepper.  Toss well, add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Serve on tostada shell or in a bowl with a side of chips.  I like Tostito chips, or Mexican Restaurant-style chips.  I highly recommend adding a few dashes of Tapatio sauce to top it off.

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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

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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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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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