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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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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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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Hello world!

Hello!  Welcome to My Eclectic Kitchen!

My passion for delicious food and entertaining has existed for as long as I can remember.  As the youngest of 6 daughters and an aunt to over a dozen nephews and nieces, I am often the caterer for birthday parties, baby showers, and just about all our family gatherings.  Although I’ve learned a ton about cooking from my family, friends, and the foodnetwork stars, this strong passion has inspired me to take my culinary knowledge to greater heights.  After about 10 years in the fields of accounting and real estate, I’ve decided to get a formal culinary arts education through the California School of Culinary Arts – Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles, California.  Along the way, I will share my thoughts, my recipes, and helpful tips to help those who are culinary challenged and to share with those who share the same enthusiasm for food.

Where did I get my inspiration?  How did my style evolve?  For 30 years I’ve been exposed to a number of food styles.  My influences come from my mother, my Grandpa Floyd, my boyfriend’s mother, my sisters’ mothers-in-laws, my friends, and some of my favorite food network stars.  They taught me how to work with different flavors and textures in American, Italian, Southern, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Iranian, and Mexican cuisine.  I’ve pulled flavors and ideas from each style to develop my own recipe repertoire, trying to keep things simple yet creative, fresh, flavorful, and delicious.  I’m hoping that my culinary education will take me to a whole new level in cooking.  It’s my goal to make food as memorable as the food I’ve enjoyed most at my favorite restaurants, and to share this pleasure with others.

This was my very first blog entry ever.  I hope you enjoyed it!

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