Friday, March 27, 2009

bonny doon pacific rim dry riesling

I like wine as much as the next snob. I try, try, try to study up on the different grapes and regions because it's all a lot of fun, you know, trying the wines and such. Being completely honest here, I do love wine and I find it really, very interesting, but there is of course this other reason to learn- I don't want to sound like a complete moron when ordering at a fancy restaurant. I always freeze up when I go into a nifty wine shop or order at a swanky restaurant. I know a fair amount, but when you get handed the wine list, there is an air of snobbery that you get dealt as well. I mean, am I supposed to decide between the $40 Pinot Noir and the $75 bottle? It's just a complete stab in the dark unless you are really well versed. I'm not. So, when this happens, I usually take the suggestions of the sommelier/wine dude. They generally steer me in the right direction and I get to learn about/try new wines.

However, the bottom line is that you can like a $10 bottle of wine just as much as you like a $30 bottle. The Bonny Doon Pacific Dry Riesling is the perfect example of that. It's not too sweet, crisp, and it's generally a really easy to find, solid bottle of white for a pretty spring evening. Pairs especially well with seafood or something with a kick to it. Even Jack likes it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mango jicama salad

LOST is one of my very favorite shows ever and I'm lucky enough to have a small group of friends who love it as much as I do. We make every Wednesday a celebration. It's the perfect mid-week perk up! That is, until you realize that it's already 9:40 and your DVR didn't record the show! This meal made up for our technological mishap. Imagine if we had ordered in bad chinese. I would have been pissed!

Being that this was a party, and we are in our very last days of the winter, there is nothing better to ring in the first days of spring with than fruit. I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of fruit in savory salads, but this one is different. It's not quite sweet, not quite savory, semi salty, very tangy, slightly spicy. It's crispy, fresh and just plain yummy. I paired it with a delicious chile lime marinated chicken breast, grilled quesadilla and a chilly glass of Gewurztraminer. Perfect LOST night vittles.

*mango jicama salad*
3 mangoes, diced
4 ears of corn
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 pound jicama, diced
handful of cilantro, chopped
3 limes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Mexican fruit and veggie seasoning**
salt and pepper

Grill your corn until you get nice dark grill marks throughout. Corn doesn't need to be cooked for long. In fact, if it's really good corn, it can usually be eaten straight off the cob. I digress... Let your down cool down and cut it off the cob.

Once completely cool, mix together your corn, mango, red onion, jicama and cilantro. Top with the lime juice, olive oil, and fruit and veggie seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.

This is even better if you can make it ahead of time and let it meld together in the fridge.

Fresh and tasty!

**If you can't find or don't have the Mexican fruit seasoning, you can sub in chile powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

chocolate sauce

I have been trying for years to get my mom to stay with me in the kitchen and actually measure out the ingredients for her infamous chocolate sauce. My mom has been busy her whole life, so when she does something, she does it as quick as she can, and unfortunately that has always meant not measuring out her ingredients. My sisters and I get super annoyed because this chocolate sauce is delectable, and ours never turns out as well as hers!

Well, finally, after much ado about something, I got her to write it down! This makes me so happy! This chocolate sauce is not like chocolate fudge... It's thinner and when warmed and poured over ice cream, it won't slip right off. Instead, it coats the ice cream with a beautiful chocolate netting. I like a scoop of double rainbow with buckets of sauce on top.

*Chocolate Sauce*
2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup milk
1/2 c corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Put the first four ingredients in a larger saucepan than you think you'll need - this has the propensity to boil over. Whisk constantly over medium high heat until it starts to simmer. Turn the heat to low. Leave simmering, uncovered. Do not touch again. Turn on an episode of Golden Girls. Watch to completion without fast forwarding through commercials.

30 minutes later your sauce is done cooking. Turn it off and take it off the heat. Stir in your butter and vanilla. Let cool for a bit. Bottoms up!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

searing scallops

This is the kind of meal that Brandon will, after tasting, put his fork down and come kiss me before I've even made my plate. Little does he know, the most time difficult part of the whole meal is the fighting the traffic home from Fish King after picking up the ingredients (sidenote: there actually is never traffic on my route home... it's all surface streets and takes a grand total of 7 minutes to get home). It just goes to show that good doesn't have to equal difficult. Cliche, yes, I know, but it's true! ::I'm feeling more and more like Rachel Ray every day:: :*(

The most important rule about scallop cooking... you absolutely must start out with quality scallops. This may mean a special trip out to your local seafood monger, but trust me, they basically cook themselves. When you are perusing the scallops, make sure you get 'dry' scallops. Wet ones have been soaked in chemicals and are nearly impossible to get the kind of sear that you're looking for. They only take a few minutes to cook, so if you have a couple quick sides, your meal can be to the table in under 10 minutes! So much better than take out.

*Simple Seared Scallops*

dry, good quality scallops
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

Get your sautee pan nice and hot over high heat. Like Christian Bale in American Psycho hot (weird simile, eh?). Put in your butter and oil at the same time, and heat it through until the butter stops bubbling and cracking.

While it's heating up, dry your scallops off thoroughly. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

When you're ready, put the scallops in the pan. Wait! Don't touch them. Leave those little guys in there so they can develop a nice brown crust. You want them to be rare in the center, so you are only going to cook them about 2 minutes per side for medium sized scallops. Mine were big, so to avoid burning, I turned the heat down once they were browned and let them cook about another minute on a lower heat. If yours aren't terribly large, you won't need to do this.

Serve immediately!

These are so yummy. I got my scallops from Fish King in Glendale, so I picked up a quart of 'not-fried-rice' to make it was a kick-ass, crazy-easy meal. Top the whole meal off with a glass of chablis or dry riesling... heaven.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

chicken tikka masala

I kind of don't know where to start this post. This would be a good place. I came across Alosha's blog one day, before I had subscribed to Cook's Illustrated online. I was googling "Cooks Illustrated" + "Potato Salad" and boy, I got an earful about ATK and their PR department! Kind of disappointing, actually.

Now, I'm sure I don't have to worry about the ATK cops lurking behind one of my 12 unique visitors. I have to admit, a good part of this recipe was 'inspired' by the cooks illustrated recipe that I've used several times, but it is by no means an exact replica. Lucky for me, no one reads this blog! Woot! :*(

*Chicken Tikka Masala*
Chicken Marinade:
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
3/4 cup yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp garlic (3 or 4 cloves)
1 tbsp ginger
4-6 chicken breasts or better yet, thighs
Masala Sauce:
1 large onion
1 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp ginger
1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs in if you like it with a bit of a kick)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp garam masala
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
handful of cilantro

For the marinade: Sprinkle the chicken with the spices and let them mellow for a few miniutes. In a plastic bag, combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic and lemon juice. Put the chicken in the bag and put it in the fridge for an hour to marinate.

For the sauce: cook the onions on medium heat for 10 minutes or so, or until they are just browned. Salt and pepper those puppies to deepen the flavor. Dump in your garlic, ginger, jalapeno, tomato pasta and garam masala. Let those mellow over the heat for 3 minutes or so, then add in your crushed tomatoes and sugar. Cover and simmer.

Now, start your chicken. You can either grill it on a grill pan or BBQ or broil it if the mood strikes. I prefer grill pan, but it does leave quite the mess. Anyway, take your chicken out of the marinade and cook it however strikes your fancy.

Just before the chicken is done, add in the cream to the sauce and bring it up to a simmer. When it is just there, take it off the heat and adjust your seasonings.

When the chicken is done, cut it up into bite size pieces and put it into the sauce. Serve over rice. Not too difficult, right?

Monday, March 09, 2009

zankou, zankoo, zankow?

Fancy to-go box, eh? Zankou chicken makes a styrofoam box look like a golden platter from whence the gods eat. Ok, maybe not, but it sure made my tummy happy.

Finger licking delicious, tender chicken tarna? Check!
Addictively tangy, crunchy, yummy pickled turnips? Check! (I ate all of mine AND Brandon's)
Smooth, lemony, not too garlicky hummus? Check!
Pita bread to wrap it all up in? You betcha!

Zankou really is a Glendale, and quickly becoming a more widely known Southern California, institution. Everyone around knows about the legendary chicken and garlic sauce. Dude, it's even in Wikipedia! You ain't no one until you make Wikipedia. It's also in the Beck song, Debra ::clears throat::

"Like a fruit that's ripe for the picking'
I wouldn't do you like that
Zankou Chicken
'Cause only you got a thing
That I just got to get with"

I hear the whole roast chicken is really the piece de resistance, but the tarna was very, very good. My mom got the trip-tip shawerma and my bro for the falafel wrap. Both were very happy with the meal, although the tri-tip was a bit dry, like it had been sitting around for a while maybe? You don't go to Zankou for the beef, though. Go for the freaking fabulous fowl!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

parmesan polenta with sausage ragout

Do I make anything *without* sausage these days? I mean really people! I swear I usually don't cook like this, but it's been so cold and wet this last month that I've been craving it. And it's been in the fridge, so that's motivation enough.

This is the easiest meal ever. I originally got it from epicurious, but I changed it a bit and mine tastes better!
*Parmesan Polenta with Sausage Ragout*
4 links spicy sausage
2 bell peppers
1 package mushroom, more for the mushroom lovers
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 c. marinara sauce (homemade or bottled)
2 lbs polenta (I use 2 of those Trader Joe's tubes)
Parmesan cheese

Heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Heat up your sausage in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once it's brown, add in your mushrooms and bell peppers (you can add red pepper flakes if you like it spicy, but remember that the sausage is also hot). Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in your wine and marinara and bring the mixture up to a boil. Let it simmer until it has reduced a bit, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, cut your polenta into 1/2-3/4 inch slices on the bias. Place them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with parmesan chees, approx. 1 tbsp on each piece. Put them in the oven for about 5 minutes. Once they are warmed all the way through, place them in your broiler to melt the cheese and let it turn to a lovely golden brown.

Serve 2 pieces of polenta with a big heap of the ragout. Pair with a bold red wine.

Haven't I mentioned that I'm writing a cookbook? 1001 Ways to do Sausage (badum bum, tsssss!).

my pixel is a star

Not food related! I just made my first lolcat. Back to food blogging later this evening, I just had to share this.

Monday, March 02, 2009

miso soup

Miso soup is one of those things that I crave from time to time. The little packets of dried soup with sorry tofu floaters and sad specks of seaweed quench my cravings for a second, but it's just not the same :( Lucky for me, Glendale has a pretty big Korean population, so naturally, has a supermarket to cater to that demographic. I reap the benefits ;) HK has all sorts of interesting Asian foods, most of which I can't even decipher the contents, save the pictures on the packaging.

So I walked in the market with my right hand gal, Audrey (I'm with her often, right?), and we didn't really know what we wanted to make for dinner. We were completely ravenous (I went hypo-gly-psycho in the store and almost passed out, but cute little Korean gummy candies helped me off the ledge). We thought we'd do sushi (more on that later!) since we had started white rice on our way out the door, and what goes better with that than homemade super easy miso soup! Audrey's dad is Japanese, so she has lots of experience with Japanese foods and has a repertoire of recipes that she can replicate by site and taste. Here's one of 'em:

*Miso Soup a la Audrey*
12 cups water
5 heaping tsp hon dashi
1 package tofu cut into bite sized pieces
10 green onions 6 roughly chopped, 4 finely chopped
10 shitake mushrooms, cut in thick slices
1 small daikon, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white miso paste

Bring the water to a boil. Add in the hon dashi. Mix to combine.

Add everything else except the miso paste and finely chopped green onion. Boil that up for a few minutes. Add in your miso and green onion. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a couple minutes until you're ready to serve.

C'mon, that was blindfolded monkey easy, eh?