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.

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

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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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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My Restaurants of Choice

When I was introduced to the Zagat guide in 1999, I didn’t want to waste my time or deprive my taste buds.  In doing so, I visited several restaurants ranked 24 and above in food, according to the Zagat – now that was living!  Today my favorite restaurants include Lucques, Izayoi, Loteria Grill, Crustacean, and Water Grill in Los Angeles.  For 5 years of my life, I lived in Santa Cruz. My favorite spots in Santa Cruz are Star Bene, Cafe Brasil, and Pink Godzilla.  Why are these my favorite restaurants?

My most memorable lunch took place at Lucques.  I actually ordered a brunch item, eggs benedict.  I remember taking my first bite, which almost brought me to tears and gave me goose bumps.  This eggs benedict was like no other.  The poached egg, canadian bacon, bread and hollandaise sauce were so light and perfectly balanced.  It sat on a bed of greens that were magical. I remember asking myself, “how did they do this? what were these leaves tossed in? I want to know what’s in this dressing!”.  As a self-claimed eggs benedict connoisseur, I named Lucques’ eggs benedict the world’s best eggs benedict.  It brought on pleasure that I’d never experienced before…in food.  Sadly, Lucques no longer serves this. However, everything on their menu is excellent.  I’ve loved  just about everything I’ve tasted there, especially their soups and desserts.

Izayoi is the Japanese spot where my boyfriend and I have dinner religiously every week.  We start with their green salad, my favorite! It’s packed with beautiful color and texture from an assortment of greens and thinly sliced onion.  There’s also a nice crunch from what I believe is thin strips of fried daikon.  The salad dressing is wonderful with a special miso flavor- I could easily eat this everyday!  Izayoi has a unique menu.  They have your traditional raw fish varieties as well as small plates that have an authentic feel and taste.  Some are very inventive, like the toro katsu.  While the food has an authentic feel, the restaurant is contemporary in style.  If you’re ever in the Downtown LA area, give this place a try.  I love this place.

Loteria Grill at the Grove’s farmer’s market is really special.  Whenever I’m at the Grove around lunch or dinnertime, I walk over to Loteria Grill and order the same thing over and over, chicken enchiladas de mole.  It is so good!  It’s served with black beans and their signature green rice.  The rice has an usual yet nice flavor.  It’s fragrant, almost minty or cilatro-y flavor – not sure what it is, but I like it.  It’s delicious.  I always pour salsa into my rice since I like a lot of heat, but without the salsa it’s still delicious.  Growing up in Chula Vista (it’s about a 5 minute freeway drive from the San Diego/Mexican border), I was always a fan of mole.  Mole’s flavor is almost chocolate-like and I’m a chocolate-lover.  I love mole’s sweetness and richness.  When you take a bite into Loteria Grill’s chicken enchilada smothered in mole sauce and add a little rice and beans to your bite, it’s like dynamite..an explosion of some of the most sophisticated flavors I’ve had in Mexican cuisine.

Crustacean is a restaurant everyone should try at least once in their life.  This is a great place to have a birthday, anniversary, or any special occasion dinner.  My recommendation is to have a glass of your favorite white wine with an order of the restaurant’s famous roasted crab – cracked whole dungeness crab with a secret garlic sauce. And don’t forget the garlic noodles!  Crustacean’s garlic seasoned crab is the best crab I’ve had.  The first time I tried it, I couldn’t stop talking about it!

Water Grill is another restaurant that is perfect for a special occasion.  My boyfriend brought me to Water Grill 2 years ago for my birthday and the staff made my day extra special.  Upon being seated, on the table was an envelope with my name handwritten on it.  It was a birthday card from the restaurant.  Also, the menu had my name printed at the top of it.  I loved the personalized touches.  They have a wonderful wine list.  To start we had mouthwatering oysters served with several dipping sauces, the champagne sauce (my favorite) is so divine.  Their seafood is fresh and delicious.  I had the scallops and they were rich and succulent, dripping with flavor.  The dessert paired with a recommended dessert wine made the experience even more memorable.

Pink Godzilla in Santa Cruz is so much fun.  They have a creative sushi menu.  My favorite roll is the Jimmy roll.  It has tuna, avocado, cucumber, macadamia nuts, and sesame seeds.  As you can imagine, it’s packed with a great crunch from the cucumber, macadamia nuts, and sesame seeds, and it’s delightfully fresh with the avocado and cucumber in the mix.  It’s refreshing and satisfying.  Their other rolls are great too.

Star Bene is a very intimate and authentic Italian restaurant in Santa Cruz.  They have the best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted.  The texture is perfect- they almost melt in your mouth.  If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, I recommend trying their gnocchi.  The gorgonzola sauce is really good with pancetta and peas.

Cafe Brasil in Santa Cruz is a nice breakfast and lunch spot.   In college, there was great energy in this cute, bright and cozy restaurant.  Cafe Brasil serves up delicious food, some of it is vegetarian too.  My favorite lunch was the Grilled Chicken Breast A Francesa.  The grilled chicken breast is served with sauteed onions, green peas, ham, and amazing french fries.  Rice, farofa, and salad is served alongside.  If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, I recommend breakfast or lunch at Cafe Brasil.

One more place in Santa Cruz that’s worth mentioning… Chocolate.  It’s a cafe where they serve food and sell chocolates.  I love their rose truffles.  They are so light with a touch of rose water… so nice.  When in Santa Cruz, I try to pick one or two up.  I actually have more recommendations, but I’ll put that list together some other day!..like Marianne’s Ice Cream‘s pumpkin ice cream… ok, I’ll save this for later.

Restaurants I still want to try are Mozza in Los Angeles and French Laundry in Yountville.

I came close to dining at French Laundry last year.  My boyfriend, Peyman, surprised me with a trip to Napa Valley for my birthday.  He knew I always wanted to go to French Laundry but he didn’t know we needed to make reservations a few months in advance.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to taste their famous, full-of-emotion creations.  However, we were able to delight ourselves with fantastic wines in the surrounding area, Napa Valley.  Luckily, one of my best friends works at a vineyard and was able to give us a nice tour while comping a lot of our tastings! (thanks, Rosy!)  We loved wines at Darioush and Caymus vineyards most!  I love full-bodied wines like Shiraz and Zinfandel and I enjoyed everything I tasted at those two wineries…even the Merlot (at Darioush)!

In Napa, we stayed at the Cottages of Napa Valley, which I highly recommend.  When we arrived, there was a little bucket of gourmet snacks, a bottle of wine, and other special touches.  I loved waking up and having a basket on the porch filled with fresh pastries from Bouchon Bakery, fresh fruit, orange juice, and a newspaper.  What a special place!

cottages of napa

This entry is pretty long so I will end it here.  I hope you were able to learn a little about me and what I consider to be delicious.

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