Sunday I celebrated my 35th birthday. I originally wanted to go for a run in the morning but decided to just eat some pancakes instead at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach.
With the 4th coming around i volunteered myself to make some faux kalua pork for a get together with Joy’s friends. Since i don’t have an imu i had to go with the crockpot method. The recipe from Pinapple & Coconut seemed pretty simple with just a couple ingredients (none that i had) and thankfully my dad has a banana tree in the backyard. I cooked the sucker over night and it turned out pretty good.
I went with tacos since it needs less utensils, and of course needed some roasted salsa and mango pico de gallo.
Put all together it was delicious.
The past week i’ve been making batches of salsa because we had some tomatoes that were getting soft and wanted to give it a shot.
- 5 tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic head
- 1 handful of cilantro
- 1/2 jalapeño diced
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°
Cut tomatoes in half, and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt. Cut top off head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Slice onions into chunks. Place all on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes.
Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until well blended, and season to taste.
I still try to get my hands dirty when ever i have a little extra time on my hands and wanted to share some of the recipes that i’ve tried and have been happy with. Most of these recipe i halved because i’m not looking to feed an entire family.
Braised Short Ribs and Mashed Potatoes
Short ribs are a pretty easy dish to do as long as you have a dutch oven and time. This short rib recipe works pretty well even if you don’t use pancetta, or thyme.
I’m always bugging friends with backyard gardens for any excess fruits or vegetables. This year Robin’s apricot tree was popping off dozen upon dozens of apricot so i rolled over there to pick up a grocery bag full of them. I kept the skin on and they do break down enough where you don’t realize they’re there when spreading it on toast.
Some carne asada recipes require 20 ingredients but i think this recipe does it well enough with more of the basic spices and herbs that should be in your cupboard already.
I picked up some branzino at the farmers market one weekend and tried out a recipe out of the Frenchie Cook book i had recently bought. It was the first time it basted a fish, and boy that butter oil can really splash on your hand a lot if you’re not careful about it. Too bad my vin jaune sauce didn’t come together and was just a oniony chunky relish instead of an actual sauce.
Ever since my brunch at Bruxie, Jeremy and I have been in a ongoing conversation about making our own Chicken and Waffles and we eventually settled on having a Southern Luau on Sunday afternoon. I spent the entire week purchasing a new waffle iron, researching recipes and testing out different recipes. Jeremy spent his time getting the fried chicken ready and we joined forces at his house to combine what we learned. I eventually setteled on the Belgium Waffle Recipe from The Kitchn. The only adjustments i made to the recipe was to add half of the sugar to the water before adding in the yeast, and adding a little Vanilla Extract to the batter as well. Every party needs to start out with some refreshment and there was plenty of white and red sangria to go around for eight adults. The eating was a progressive meal as we were making waffles and frying chicken on a constant cycle to get everything as fresh as possible. Jeremy’s chicken was golden and crispy and with a touch of Louisiana Hot Sauce was prefect. I also made some cole slaw and did make my own chicken sandwich. Nothing better with a touch of sweet, salty, sour, chewy, and crunch. Definitely a success on both of our parts. We eventually finished eating and had some left over batter, so we decided to dip some strawberries in the waffle batter and give them a little bath in the frying oil. Actually tasted pretty good, since its basically like funnel cake.
Thai Chili Salmon
Last night we were debating between going out for dinner or staying in, and eventually while digging through the fridge i figured i could whip something up real quick (minus defrosting time).
- 2 pieces of Salmon, dry and lightly salt.
- In a bowl mix together about quarter cup of Sweet Chili Sauce, a couple splashes of Fish Sauce, chopped cilantro, and a dash or two of white pepper. (i’m really starting to measure like my mom).
- Heat up a frying pan with some oil, and once hot, place salmon in and don’t touch until the fish cooks up half way up the side. Flip the fish, then apply the sauce ontop of the cooked side.
- Cook until other half is cooked up the side, then flip and put rest of sauce onto that side.
- Serve with rice and your favorite vegetable. We had some Chinese Broccoli which we went dim sum style and topped with oyster sauce.
I was really hoping to get the kitchen project started before Memorial Day, but I had to get the designs approved by the HOA beforehand, and that took another week. Once it did we were off to the races starting with the teardown of the existing cabinets and haul away of the appliances.
Our contractor made quick work of the cabinets and this mexican couple were really fast to take away all the debris and appliances for $275. I called around to official junk haul aways and it was going to cost almost double that so i was happy to give it to them. They did a good job of sweeping up afterwards too which was nice.
The biggest delays we had was having to shut off the water to the building so that we could move some pipes around since we were installing a dishwasher that didn’t exist before. We had to give the building a 48 hour notice and then couldn’t get anyone to come out until the next week, so that delayed the process a little.
The other delay was trying to get our countertop guys to come out to measure our space, but it all started to come together when they finished up and brought the countertops the same day that the appliances got delivered. We picked the perfect sized fridge since we have a tight corner that everything has to be squeezed through. At this point i had a work thing to go to in Vegas so Joy and my parents had to take care of the rest of the work review.
I was pretty happy to get home from Vegas last week because i knew when i arrived our kitchen would be completed. I was pretty excited to get my first look at our new kitchen and really happy how it came out. Joy picked out the subway tiles for the backsplash and i picked out the gray grout to make them pop a little more. I love the single tub sink where we can actually put our pans flat to wash, and the automatic ice maker is awesome.
Its so nice to have use of a fully functional kitchen again, because i never thought i could get sick of eating out. Finally having a digital oven is nice so i don’t have to guess with the pre-heating, and our burners are super high so we can boil water in an instance.
The last thing i want to talk about is the extra counter space we created by moving the sink over to the far right. We’ve got plenty of space now for all the mise en place we end up making for our cooking. If you think so saw a lot of cooking before, you aint seen nothing yet.
For the actual Super Bowl i was invited to attend the Fantasy Food Blogger Football League’s BBQ at the Ravenous Couple‘s house. It was a good opportunity to meet more of the blogging community and to test out some of my cooking skills. We ended up not staying till the end because we were so tired from the 10K in the morning that we headed home with the lights went out after half time. I did end up winning the Final Super Bowl Square score with the safety, and put those winning towards next year’s Food Blogger Bowl.
I wanted to get a little creative and went into my mind to find something Thai-centric to make for the BBQ and came up with some Crying Tiger Tacos. I figured it was the perfect combination of something simple and authentic. I started off with 3lbs of flap meat marinated overnight in some soy sauce and black pepper. For the toppings we made the pickled cucumber salad and Nam Jim Jeaw all wrapped in a corn tortilla. (Looking back i shouldn’t used ice berg lettuce instead of the tortillas). This recipe fed something where between 10-14 people along with other main dishes served at the party.
Crying Tiger Beef (carne asada)
- 3lbs of flap or skirt steak
- Soy Sauce
- Black Pepper
Picked Cucumber Salad
- 3 large Cucumbers Peeled and Julienne
- 1 Red Onion Julienne
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup rice wine vinegar, sub red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
- 2 teaspoon salt
Thanksgiving morning i work up at 6:30am as per my usual weekday schedule and left my 6:45am alarm on that work up Joy. Since we were both up, I called him up and took him to Disneyland to make use of our Premium Pass. It was busier than i expected but still got on to Radiator Springs Racers, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Soaring over California in three hours.
Once back home it was full speed ahead on cooking for the night’s dinner at Joy’s cousin’s house. I ended up making Porchetta since i’ve been thinking about making it ever since leaving Italy. Joy made some Pecan Candied Sweet Potatoes. We finished up at 4:30 and rushed up to North Hollywood where everyone was waiting for us before eating.
Pat and company filled out the rest of the table with a Turkey, Costco Ham, Cheesy Potatoes, and green beans.
For dessert we celebrate two of the kid’s birthday with an ice cream cake and we were all done by 7pm. It was a long day and very fulfilling.
Macarons are kind of a big deal in Paris, and one of the great debates of the city is LadurÃ©e vs. Pierre HermÃ©. We luckily were able to try a sampling from both places and in my opinion both were great. Joy said that she preferred Pierre, but i really couldn’t differentiate much difference. I guess it didn’t help since we got 3 different flavors from each place so there was no real baseline to compare, but Joy said that the texture from Pierre was better and it was also true that my favorite flavor was the Mosaic : Pistache, Cannelle de Ceylan & Griottine (Pistachio, Cinnamon & Cherry).
With a good foundation of how the French make their macarons, we took a class on how to make them at La Cuisine Paris. The two hour class had us go into group and go step by step of the baking process from measuring the ingredients, to making the chocolate ganche, mixing the meringue batter, piping, baking and finally filling them. After the cooking was done each person had a dozen or so personally made macaron to take home.
A few notes that we learned from our class is that there are two methods of making the meringue, an Italian (Pierre Herme & the one we were taught) and a French (Laduree) method. The guy who opened Pierre actually once worked for Laduree, and always opens a shop nearby any Laduree. The shells typically don’t have a difference in taste, and the color is purely for for identification of what type of macaron it is. It was a very fun class that we’ll try at home.
I just learned a new term, “Champagne Baby” basically meaning that people with birthdays in and around September most likely were conceived around New Years, hence the Champagne. I don’t know why, probably because i was bored but i decided to bake to celebrate two friend’s birthdays this weekend.
I like to mash up things that i think would be good in my head, and 90% someone else has done the leg work for me and put up a recipe online for me to follow already. This time around i wanted to make a keylime cheesecake so i found one that looked simple enough and made a test version of it on Thursday. It came out well enough that i decided to cut a couple slices to bring to Roland on Friday night since we were going out to NOHO to have some birthday drinks.
Saturday morning i had to adjust the recipe and made another one for Thao’s Birthday which came out much better than the first one. (click here for adjusted Recipe). It was a great dessert to follow up some really good vietnamese beef soup that they bought in bulk at a shop in the SGV and stick meat which were so fatty and good. Not your typically Labor Day weekend BBQ, but it was really delicious, especially when it got dark and the lit the backyard up with fluorescent lights which made me feel like i was back in Thailand eating on the street.
Its already been a year at our home, and our second Thanksgivings dinner with the parents, minus my dad who’s in Thailand for the month. I’m so happy that everyone is still healthy and sarcastic as ever, and that we have time to spend with each other before Joy’s parents retire to Thailand next year.
I took some time to do some IT stuff at work, upgrading the server, and organizing things for the upcoming week. The funny thing is that everyone went to work in the morning so there’s wasn’t anything special about the morning, but thankfully the dinner menu didn’t have anything that required lots of cooking time.
The menu in its entirety was:
- Bacon wrapped honey mustard pork roast
- Brussels sprouts
- Cream corn
- Cornbread stuffing
- Crescent Rolls
- and a Betty Crocker homemade apple pie.
This year we tried out a bunch of new recipes and the results were mixed. This was the first time cooking a pork loin whole, and it came out wonderfully moist, but i didn’t really care for the mustard/rosemary combo. I really like how the bacon kept the insides juicy, and of course who doesn’t like bacon wrapped anything.
The pie was the exciting part as we found an old Betty Crocker cookbook at a flea market a few months ago and had all the classic recipes. Joy had a lot of fun at first making and rolling out the dough, but it became apparent that we’ll need some practice before it gets perfect. I had the fun task of peeling and cutting 8 apples, but the results were good. The crust came out ok, but i think it might have been worked too much, but the filling was delicious.
After dinner Joy and I went to the Southbay Galleria to watch Harry Potter which was a great way to finish off the day of food, family and fun.
After weeks of traveling Joy and I are finally back at home, or at least a few weekends worth of dust and laundry to do. For most of the day we spent sweeping, and wiping and just getting everything back in order so that we didn’t have to think about all the dust that our feet would pick up when we walked through the house. It feels great to reset the house back to working order, and for the next few weeks while we’ll be each out of the house for Vegas, golf or another wedding reception to attend.
For lunch we used our 2 for 1 coupon for Souplation in Torrance, and I finally got to visit this spice store called Penzys Spices. Back when we were living in Santa Monica they had just opened this purely spice store but I never got a chance to visit it, so when we passed by it on the way to lunch i wanted to check it out. Surprisingly when you enter the store the smells aren’t over powering like Yankee Candle always does, and the place is neatly setup with everything broken down between spices, herbs, seasoning mixes, and other stuff. Everything has a sample jar which you can smell and everything comes in different sizes from 8oz bags of the stuff to 2.4oz jars of it. We picked out some spices that were missing from the pantry, and a few new ones like smoked paprika that i want to try out on some potatoes. Thanks to Restaurant City on facebook there were a few things i knew when i saw and vice versa, and of course the saffron was the most expensive spice there coming in at something like .5 oz. for $9.00.
We also picked up some empty jars as well to use on the stuff that we had just kept in ziplock bags, and now everything has its on home, in its own jar. Now we just need to get a labeling gun so that we know whats inside each one now.