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


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


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


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.



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


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


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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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


Havarti cheese

1.5 cups dried cranberries

¼ cup lightly chopped fresh dill

Milton’s multigrain crackers – original flavor


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


4 pieces pita bread

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley (optional)


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

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

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


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

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

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


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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