Nakji Ma-eul: Octopus Village


Nakji bokkeum is a delicious Korean octopus dish made up of sliced octopus, veges and gochujang (Korean red pepper paste). When I was young my mom used to make this dish loaded with onions, carrots, green onion, garlic, red pepper, and squash. So fricking delicious with a major strike of spiciness that really locks into your taste buds.

At Nakji Ma-eul, they included the regular grouping of vegetable with the addition of cabbage, bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles. I wasn't too into the noodles because they easily got welded to the bottom of the hot pan. We got "bo-tong" spiciness, which means average. One of my friends who had gone there before and ordered "spicy" got a lil lickin from the pepper seasoning. "Bo-tong" spiciness was perfect for me, although a lil bit spicy for the others in my party.


The nakji bokkeum is brought out in a large pan that is placed over a burner in the middle of the table. It cooks up pretty quickly, then it's time to dive in with our chopsticks. With the leftover veges scraps and drippings bokkeumbap (fried rice) is made. So frickin good! Making fried rice with leftover scraps and drippings practically from anything, kalbi, stewed monkfish, and this spicy octopus, is heavenly. The dripping and the rice gets nutty and it browns up and the spiciness starts to penetrate the starch.

Nakji Ma-eul: Our Secret Recipe
Beverly & Hobart


Holiday Dinner With the Folks

When I first started "interning" at AOC over a month ago, I got myself the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook, in order to familiarize myself with Chef Suzanne Goin's food and taste palette. The recipes are arranged by seasonal menus, highlighting beautiful in-season vegetables. I absolutely love this book and was very excited to cook one of the winter menus for myself and my parents.


I started off the dinner with a Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts, minus the arugula. Wow. I loved the combination of flavors in this salad. The tart pomegranate seeds with the nutty freshly toasted hazelnuts over fresh baby spinach was awesome. My only complaint lies with the quality of the persimmons I got. Not even close to being the juicy ripe goodness that was supposed to be the star of this salad.

Well since I know how good this salad is with unripe persimmons, I can only expect greatness when I use beautiful juicy ones next time. The recipe calls for arugula as the lettuce of choice but I used baby spinach because I needed the spinach for the roasted sweet potatoes (which I completely forgot to use it for). I served Domaine Cherrier Et Fils Sancerre with this first course.



Then the main course: Cured Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes with Bacon [and Spinach], and Romesco. Wow again. It's all about the brine. The combination of the fennel, juniper, coriander, onion, and herbs packed so much flavor into the pork. This was my first time brining but I may get hooked. Instead of grilling them as the recipe instructed, I seared them in a pan then roasted them for a little bit in the oven. Topped with the smoky, nutty romesco, the juicy pork was further complemented.

The roasted sweet potatoes were carmelized, nutty, and sweet, and studded with smoky salty bacon lardons. I didn't know so much delicious comfort could fit onto the end of a fork. My mom has already asked me to make this dish again a few times. And served with these two delectable winter dishes was romesco, a Spanish sauce made of peppers, nuts, and bread. I think the piece of bread I added may have been too big. The recipe says to "drizzle" over the pork and sweet potatoes and there was no drizzling possible with my romesco. More like spooning but still delicious. For this main course I served Mark West Pinot Noir Vintage 2004.

We finished the meal with a cheese plate of a double creme brie (forgot the name), St. Agur triple creme blue cheese, and Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat cheese.

I don't reallly care for the holidays too much... except for the food that is. Food is a great way to celebrate with friends and loved ones. But it's also an awesome reason to celebrate in itself. Cheers to delicious food!

Mario's Peruvian Seafood

My friend C recently moved to the Melrose and Rossmore, right across the street from Mario's. Yes, that Mario's. The Japanese run (Mario Tamashiro) Peruvian restaurant that gets rave reviews and has a regular following of drooling Peruvian food converts. Dropping by C's new place would be a perfect opportunity give this place a go, settle my curiosity and hunger, and at the same time cross another restaurant off my very long and dusty "To Eat" list.


We started off with the ceviche to quell our hunger pains that had grown while waiting outside for about 20 minutes for a table in this super bright, flourescently-lit restaurant. It was pretty blinding in there. This is not a place to come for mood or ambience. Just food, plain and simple. And judging from how packed the restaurant and its sidewalk was, I think we were in the right place. The ceviche was refreshingly citrusy with thin slivers of red onion that I was careful to include with each bite. The ceviche came with one big boiled potato that was hard to tackle. It would have been more eater friendly if cut into a few wedges.


After much perusing of the menu, I settled on #31, fried fish with a mixture of sauteed seafood. The portions at Mario's are huge! The fried fish with its golden crunchy crust was buried under a mountain of seafood medley. I ate about half of my plate and stopped myself before stepping over the food coma line. I still needed some of my consciousness for the movie that was to come after dinner.


I also got to try the Lomo Saltado, which seems to be a popular non-seafood dish there. Uh, it had fries in it! Wow, talk about indulgence. Fried potatoes, beef, and more oil. It was yummy. In a fried potato, beefy way.

Overall, all the dishes were delicious but I wasn't blow away by Mario's as I expected. When I think "seafood" I think fresh, delicate. Not fried. And more fried. And I didn't really get the interplay of sweet and savory that Peruvian food is known for. But I did utilize the bottle of aji liberally. I love that stuff! It's ground chili and garlic. Completely addicting.

A second visit is due soon and hopefully a sampling of less fried dishes is in order. Perhaps some mussels and shrimp ceviche would suit me more. Too bad this place closes at 8pm. The food would be a good midnight snack, or more like a feast if you're at Mario's.

5786 Melrose Ave


"Christmas Extravaganza" at Work

As me and some of my co-workers agree, "extravaganza" is stretching it a bit, no a lot, when it refers to our Christmas work lunch/brunch. We were promised fajitas and accompanying fixins for lunch. But "brunch" would be up to the department to pull together and a sign-up sheet was passed around.

I noticed that on this particular sign-up sheet, whole names instead of the usual initals were used to sign up under the usual categories which included "drink/soda/juice" and "popcorn/pretzels/chips." I guess people had been flaking out or not signing up in the past few. Well our work brunches are not really anything to get excited about so I can understand the lack of participation and care. It's usually filled with ten different types of chips, ten bottles of soda, super-market made cookies, muffins, and baked things of those sort.

Well even I am pretty apathetic about this whole thing, especially since I don't desire to put most of the food into my body (and occasionally when I do and I feel like crap afterwards). With the exception of one time when I made mini-breakfast burritos with potatoes, eggs, and chicken sausage, and the one time I made raspberry pavlova, I've been pretty non-participant. For example, the last lunch we had, too lazy to cook I brought in some chicken tamales from the Salvadorean bakery located near Boy's residence. They turned out to be horrible! Bleh. It was soggy and there were bones left in the chicken!


So you can see why I needed to make something delicious at least once to make up for that incident. So I made Brioche French Toast flavored with Grand Marnier, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla. Before frying I dipped one side into some unsweetened shredded coconut. I served this with maple syrup and creme fraiche flavored with the delicious Pittaffo Raspberry Honey.



In addition I made Curried Sweet Potato Hash with spicy and mild Italian sausage, green bell pepper, chipotle, and of course curry powder. This turned out delicious and spicy.

I couldn't bear the thought of the french toast being eaten with a glass of soda and chips on the side. Nor the hash with supermarket muffins and fanta. So I made Mango Lassi. This went really well with the hash, balancing the spiciness from the chipotle and curry.

Now I'm sure that most people did not arrange their meals on the elegant styrofoam plates as I had put together the menu, but I am glad I made the dishes. Because at least I gave myself, and a few others, an option of having delicious, simple homemade food.


A Nice Send Off Love Kit


Boy and my friends, A & E, just got married recently and held their beautiful reception at a really cool art gallery/event center in Laguna Beach. Their wedding cake was beautiful and very elegant, not disrupted by a bunch of superfluous design as many wedding cakes are. The flowers look so radiant and dashing against the smooth milky white cake. Everyone had an awesome time, as we toasted to the bride and groom, the alcohol flowed freely, and house music got people's booty shakin.

For A & E's wedding present, Boy and I decided to make them a nice gift basket, with of course some champagne. A cheese basket sounded like the best option, but since they were leaving at the end of the week for their honeymoon to Argentina I thought the cheese might goto waste. How about some sweets and treats to go with the bubbly?

marie belle chocolates... so adorable!

For the bubbly we got Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rose Reserve 1999. Veuve Clicquot is delicious but I thought a rose may add a bit more celebratory and romantic tint to the night. The sweets included were Ferrero Rafaello, Little Flower Candy Company's Sea Salt Caramels, Marich Espresso Caramels, and the beautifully packaged Marie Belle Chocolate. I also baked some Wild Blueberry Jam Thumbprint cookies, packaged it in a skinny cellophane bag and tied it up with a beautiful muted green ribbon. Hopefully they got to enjoy the bubbly and a few of the cookies before they rushed off to have an amazing holiday in Argentina. :)


Antequera de Oaxaca to the Rescue

When I tried to grab a quick dinner at La Buca the other weekend, the server told me that they were overbooked through Monday. Well the place is the size of my cubicle, and with the surging popularity, I should have expected it. But no fear readers, because I walked east 30 seconds to Antequera de Oaxaca, also a unit of the same building.

Everytime I've eaten at Antequera de Oaxaca I've been happily satisfied... with the salty tasajo, the stringy Oaxacan cheese, and the dark sweet mole. But often I forget as a dining option. But this time it came to my rescue thank god. Boy and I ordered the delicious Botana Plate (Appetizer) for 2 and three horchatas. Two of em for me actually. :)

Tasajo is one of my favorite Mexican foods. It's salted and dried beef round that is sliced and grilled before serving. I love tearing the piece of meat into long strands with my fingers. Also included in this beautiful styrofoam box is a chile relleno (so fricking spicy. only ate a small bite.), thick memelas (corn cakes) grilled with pork fat, and chorizo. And also chicken enchiladas in red mole (not pictured).

Oaxacan string cheese... so delicious! Especially when one-half of a strand is lightly dipped in their searing smoky salsa.

I ordered these two extra chicken tacos in case the appetizer plate wasn't enough. It was definitely tasty but the chicken chunks were too big (therefore large chunks falling out with each bite) and the taco needed the support of an extra corn tortilla. A taco seems kind of hard to mess up but oh well.

Their guacamole is one of the best I've had, except for the homemade guacamole I had in Panama. A tortilla chip dipped into the guacamole and lightly grazed across the hot smoky salsa will definitely wet your appetite for all the goodness to come. Minus the chicken taco that is.

Antequera de Oaxaca
5200 Melrose Ave.


What To Do About Those Beer-Induced Cravings


Boy and I have been taking a Beer Judge Certification Program at a valley beer brewing club/supply store for the last month and a half. This means driving out to the valley at about 6pm (prime traffic time), studying beer for 3+ hours, and tasting a variety of good and also bad beers. You can imagine that after three hours of going over style, malts, hops, and brewing temperatures, the tasters of the beers studied that day are more than welcomed. But what about the little tinge of hunger you get when your tummy has imbibed a delicious beverage?

It was hard to ignore our tummies this week and we gave into Cactus Taqueria late into the night. We got three carne asada tacos with our two dollars and some change dug up from the bottom of my wallet. So frickin delicious. We wanted to get more but was out of cash and left dreaming about those little tortillas filled with flavorful beef and refreshing salsa verde. I fell asleep daydreaming about them and even when I woke up the next morning I was still thinking about them!

Boy and I decided that a taco eating contest at Cactus should be in the works. I claimed I could eat 15 and may have spoken too fast. But those tacos are so small! Although I've never been in an eating contest, I am weirdly confident. I can say I've dreamed a few times of entering a burrito eating contest in Santa Barbara but never stepped up to it. Who wants to come out and cheer for me?

950 Vine St
Hollywood, CA 90038


Table 8 for Table of 2

I took Boy out to birthday dinner at Table 8 (Govind Armstrong). We somehow managed to come through way back of the room where their porch area was, because I clobbered through their plastic walls like it was the front entrance. I think we may have scared some people in the back because we popped out of nowhere, and confused the hell out of the employees because we did not use the front entrance. And while I was trying to find a gap in the plastic walls, the parking person didn't even bother to correct me and show me the front door! Anyhow, when we were seated we got the table right next to the patio door where made our adventurous appearance.

Service was so slow at first as no one even came by for the first seven minutes. That's a long time to be without menu and water. Just twiddling thumbs time. However when our server finally showed up his amiable service made up for the beginning messup.

I was pretty excited to goto Table 8 for the first time, interested in their always changing seasonal menu. Before anything, we got a glass of Billecart-Salmon, Brut Reserve to start off this celebratory event. And a half bottle of the Altamura Sangiovese, Napa, for the rest of the meal.

*this titles are not accuarate as i forgot to ask for a copy of the menu. and sorry for the horrible photos! i promise i did my best!*



For appetizers we ordered Tagiatelle with Oxtail Ragu and Calamari with Chorizo, Beans & Clams. The tagiatelle was cooked perfectly al dente and the oxtail ragu rich and deep in flavor. There was a little bit of greens involved, kale I think. It was delicious but on the salty side and could have used some herbs to brighten it up. Perhaps lemon thyme and chives. The calamari dish was delicious but pretty basic. A toasted piece of bread is essential for this slightly brothy briney dishes so you can sop up all the goodness. They did that right, toasted the bread that is.

duck leg

For my entree I got Duck Leg with Apples, Cabbage & Chestnuts. Really good combination of flavors. The best duck leg I've ever had was at La Terza so I was pretty biased when I tasted Table 8's. It was delicious and the duck leg was super tender, but there was something missing in the texture. I really loved the cabbage and chestnuts in this but more would have been better.

kobe style beef
kobe style beef

Boy got Kobe Style Beef, Mushroom & Scalloped Potato. I think this was the best this of the night. The beef was hinted with smokiness and so tender. Although I rarely like shitaaki mushrooms because it can be overpowering at times, they were mellow and complimented the dish nicely. The scalloped potatoes were sliced paper thin and fried I think for a nice addition of delicate crunchiness.

We skipped on the cheese plate and went straight to dessert for the Marscapone Peanut Brownie and Meyer Lemon Tart with Pomegranates with another glass of Billecart-Salmon for myself. I wasn't too impressed with these. The tart was good but the crust part was so crunchy you really had to put some weight into your fork to break off a piece. Then "clunk!" Visually the plate could have been more clean cut instead of having the latticed syrup. I liked the addition of pomegranates. The brownie also good but nothing special.

Overall the food was good but I wasn't wowed. I don't think I would go back for any of the dishes, even though they were good, just because they weren't great. Maybe next season I'll give it another try. And oh yeah, they have a really bad beer selection. Amtel Light?!! C'mon now, don't kid around like that and scare me.

7661 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Turkey Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce


After this Thanksgiving I've made up my mind that turkey really is at the bottom of my meat list. Bleh. I can't see myself cooking turkey ever again for the holidays. I mean it was moist and delicious with herbs and butter, and dipped and bathed in a bit of gorgonzola sauce, pretty heavenly. But there are always better substitutions for turkey.

However in the case of these turkey meatballs, whose recipe I picked off of Molly's beautiful blog Orangette, I am still down with turkey! These came out so moist, smoky from the cumin, sweet from the golden raisans, and nutty from the toasted pinenuts. And the yogurt sauce was super simple to make. Just add garlic, lemon juice, and a few spices. I would cut back on the pine nuts though. A lot fell out while cooking and plus I like pine nuts in small quantities.

Cafe du Village, Larchmont


What a waste of time Cafe du Village was. And also money for that matter. I flagged down four different employees so that they could take our order only to be shrugged off without the tiniest bit of care. Damn, this got me so pissed. Just as I was about to leave a server, just as nonchalant, came by. Arg! Food was whatever except for the fries which were golden and crispy, although insufficiently salted when taken out of their oil bath. Why did I ever come here?! Oh yeah I now, 'cause I was young and stupid and didn't know any better. Larchmont needs better dining.

139 1/2 N Larchmont Blvd
LA, CA 90004


Chowhound's 2005 Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurants Poll

Go AOC! It came out on top of the list. Among many many other restaurants I've never been too. I'm glad to see absolutely delicious Angelini Osteria came out on top too. I am a very proud and obsessive list maker but now all the work is done! All I have to do is *check!* Now where to get all the money? [especially for crazy Urasawa].

Top 10...
Angelini Osteria
Langer’s Deli

"In just three short years, A.O.C. has emerged as Los Angeles’s destination restaurant of choice among food-obsessed LA chowhounds. With 123 points accumulated on 32 ballots including 11 first-choice votes, Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s nouveau wine and tapas bar easily outpolled the champion from the prior two years, Spago Beverly Hills."

Chowhound's 2005 Ultimate LA Restaurant Poll

Leftover Creations Again!... Buttermilk Biscuits with Black Forest Ham & Morbier


Yip it's the morbier again. Plus some remainders of black forest ham. When combined with the fluffly, buttery homemade buttermilk biscuits, does this look like leftovers?

Leftover Creations... Crostini with Carmelized Onion, Morbier & Pancetta Lardons


I had a lot of cheese leftover from a dinner party because maybe I bought too much. No wait, people didn't eat enough cheese! Boogaloo to them. I also had a small chunk of pancetta. I sliced a La Brea Pain Rustique thinly and toasted them with olive oil brushed on both sides til they were crispy. I forgot to rub garlic on them when they came out. Oops. I layered carmelized onion doused with a little balsamic, thinly slice morbier, and topped each crostini with pancetta lardons which I crisped up slightly in a pan. Popped these babies in the oven til the cheese melted. So good. Yumm. The sweetness of the onion, the crispiness of the crostini, saltiness of the pancetta, and of course the melted cheese. [drool!]


Girls, Grub, Gossip, & Booze


One of my friends E is getting married next weekend so to send her off the girls put together a little fem gathering. For this quaint event I made sun-dried tomato polenta w/marinara and thyme breadcrumbs. This time I used a metal mold to cut out pretty little oval shapes rather than cutting em up into squares. Much more refined for my ladies, isn't it? And something a little bit sweet... brownie cupcakes with nutella icing. I completely fucked up the icing by trying to take shortcuts instead of following a recipe. Then I remembered my jar of nutella! I sprinkled some marigold color sugar crystals on top for festivity. Who woulda ever thunk my non-baking ass would ever get a jar of sugar crystals?


So the girls filled up on cute polenta bites, brownies, wine and tequila while we jibber jabbered throughout the night. And hopefully sent off E with happy thoughts and happy tummy!

Little Treasures from La Brea Bakery


I had to once again drop my car off at the service department for minor problems. Sigh, car problems. Never ending aren't they? However, on my chilly and dark walk home I stopped by La Brea Bakery to peruse and look for some goodies that I may fancy. I don't frequent the Bakery too much but I should really rethink that considering I can get a unique treat for myself everytime I go.

This time a jar of peppers caught my eye: Matiz Vasco Piparras. "Piparras are a traditional Basque pepper with a mild sweet flavor and a fine texture." I have a small fascination with the Basques and love peppers, so there was nothing to hold me back. I also got a 4 inch cacciatorini. They even sliced it for me into thin rounds while I waited browsing and noshing on a complimentary piece of their heavenly chocolate cupcake. Friendly customer service, definitely something to appreciate.

So I brought these jewels home for a little tasting. I drizzled a bit of good olive oil over the peppers and sprinkled a teenie pinch of kosher salt. I guess some fancy salt would have been better but I still haven't delved into them fancy stuffs. Yet. The peppers tasted like pepperoncini but sweeter and mellower, with a softer texture. It was delicious especially with the accompanying salami and chunks of the Bakery's Pain Rustic dipped in the olive oil mixed with some of the brine.

Here is a bit I found on cacciatorini...

A dry Italian salami, which generally consists of equal parts of pork and beef, however it can be produced with all pork meat. It is seasoned with black pepper, garlic, spices, dry white wine, and packed into a small natural casing measuring approximately 4 to 8 inches in length (10 to 18 cm) and 1 inch (3 to 4 cm) in diameter. It is then dry aged for one month or longer. When served, it is sliced thin for use in sandwiches, as an appetizer with cheese, or as a topping for foods.
Dry sausages such as Italian cacciatorini are commonly thought of as hunter style salami, since it is made as a small rustic salami to be carried in hunter's pockets and eaten as a lunch meal. This product may also be referred to as cacciatore, cacciatoro, or salame milanese. [Hormel.com]

La Brea Bakery
624 South La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036


Stuff I Be Eating Lately...

Short post of stuff I be eating lately...
NO MORE non-fat yogurts w/granola, cold tofu, and salads. Well, probably more tofu and salads to come but definitely NO MORE non-fat yogurt. Although I am far from being in shape I decided to be a bit more adventurous and integrate more variety into my daily meals. And also not be lazy about cooking just because I hate doing the dishes. I changed my shift at work to 730am to 4pm, and now take night showers, therefore have 30 minutes to pack lunch and/or make breakfast in the morning. I like the change. And by the way, doesn't cooking count as exercise? After all it's all manual labor + a lot of standing. See? A well balanced lifestyle. ;)

Trader Joe's Punjab Spinach Sauce
**with my addition of potatoes and brown basmati with lemon & cashews.

La Brea Bakery croissant w/Nutella
**wanted to put chopped cashews and pomegranate in but forgot the nuts and pomegranate had already passed away.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Mocha Hot Chocolate
**with Silk Vanilla Soymilk

Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake & Waffle Mix
**with Grand Marnier soaked dried blueberries, buttermilk, and pure maple syrup.

Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Paprika
**somewhat replicated dish from AOC. it was delicious! i've never liked cauliflower but now i'm a changed gal.

Linguini w/Red Pepper Flakes, Lemon & Parmesan
**simple pasta dish for simple me. next time i will add some crispy thyme bread crumbs on top for texture and delicious yumminess.

Bluejay Farm Satsumas
**from the korean market which always has high quality fruits.

365 Organic Green Tea
**nice and warm start to longs days at work.



Mum's Birthday, the Celeriac & the Hangover


I woke up bleary eyed, thirsty, tummy aching, and tired from my expeditions the night before. After downing about three cups of whole milk (my hangover ritual) I napped half-conscious in the living room with the gentle buzz of the tv. But late afternoon rolled around quickly and I had to get started on my mom's birthday dinner.


I wanted a simple and comforting menu for our small family dinner. I decided to serve Barolo Wine Poached Filet w/Celeriac Puree (Jamie Oliver), Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Emeril), and Trader Joe's Tiramisu (yeah I cheated a lil).

Now when one is hungover, especially me, the super strong scent of celery or celeriac is not pleasing at all. In fact, it is pretty disgusting. I had to peel the ugly thing, chop it up, and boil it. I did a lot of mouth breathing but pushed on saying to myself I can do this. The water came to a boil and the celery-scented steam was produced with vigor. It got to a point where I thought I was going to throw up. I chucked the whole thing (still breathing through my mouth), minus the russet potato I put into the mix. I had to light candles all over the house bc I would smell celeriac EVERYWHERE! I was not in a good state of mind at that point and wanted the house back to pre-celeriac abomination.

Thank god there were a few potatoes lying around. I switched to good old mashed potato with butter and milk to serve with the filet of beef. The filet was cooked to a tender medium-rare but the wine I'm not sure if I was too fond of the wine I used. It was some Chilean cab. I ended up returning the second bottle of it back to TJ. I guess I am sure. The wine sucked.

The filet was a bit bland. Even though the poaching liquid was seasoned it was not enough to season the filet. I think homemade rosemary-salt would be a great to sprinkle over the filet before serving.

The soup was okay. My family members liked it but I thought it needed way more butternut squash than the recipe called for. I tasted way too much of the mire poix and not enough of the sweet roasted squash. I served this with a salty crunchy parmesan-ciabatta crouton. I originally wanted to place the crouton across the soup bowl but the crouton fell a tiny bit short. Another thing gone wrong. Bleh.

So a pretty unmemorable dinner but effort counts right?


Mum's Gochujang Soup


My mom threw this soup together one day with nothing to eat for dinner and a drawer full of vegetables. Cut up some onion, zucchini, potato, mushroom, scallion, garlic. Add pork/pork broth or spam if you have it on hand. Bring it to a boil with a few spoons of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and a few jalapenos. So fast and simple and completely addicting. I suggest serving it with some rice because the spice will be fierce and gochujang is a little bit salty. Yumm.


Turkey Day 2005

My cousin, Vivian, and I were in charge of Thanksgiving dinner for our family of 19. And since our Grandma's birthday is within a few days of this gluttonous holiday, we made it a double celebration dinner party. Unfortunately I was feeling a bit under the weather and kept putting off duties til late afternoon. Then, busy busy busy! Here is what we cooked and ate into a comatose:

Leftovers from last party...
Warm Picholines & Olives
French Cow's Milk Cheese Plate
Rosemary-Dijon Lambchops w/Pistou

Herb-Butter Roasted Turkey w/Gorgonzola Sauce
I didn't want to cook a whole bird and didn't want to have gravy. So I roasted a few turkey breasts and thighs and made gorgonzola sauce instead. The gorgonzola sauce is soo much better than gravy, imo.

Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/Pancetta & Balsamic
I tried brussel sprouts for the first time at AOC last week. It was so good and that I was inspired to make a similar dish for Thanksgiving. I forgot to get veal stock reduction for mine but it was still delicious. When the sprouts were carmelized in the pancetta fat with the crispy pancetta, red onion, and garlic, I drizzled in some balsamic vinegar and let it reduce for a sec.

Autumn Panzanella of Root Vegetables
This was my mistake of the night. I thought it would be brilliant to roast the veges under the turkey breast and finish it off later in super high heat with herbs and balsamic. But there was too much meat on top of the veges for it to roast. It steamed instead. The roasted veges with the shaved pecorino were still delicious but this was no panzanella. I'll have to rethink this recipe.

Bread Pudding w/Grand Marnier, Dried Blueberries & Candied Pecans
For some reason I was craving condensed milk and had a box full of bread crusts leftover from the last party. So bread pudding it was. I soaked some dried blueberries and grand marier, cut up one apple, got some golden raisans out. Voila, bread pudding. Topped it with La Bread Bakery granola and candied pecans. It came out so very dense but delicious. I need practice on this one... it is baking afterall.

Vivians' dishes...
Broccoli w/Lemon-Butter, Pinenuts & Parmesan
A simple vegetable dish topped with toasted pinenuts and parmesan. I like broccoli a lot so there was a lot of picking one out of the serving bowl everytime I passed by the dining table.

Thyme Popovers
These were popped over when we took it out of the oven. When we turned our backs for a second they completely deflated! I think this may be my doing because I peeked and the recipe says "Do not peek." Oops.

Sweet Potato Pie
[this one was devoured before i got a chance for a photo]
Mmmm... so comforting. I love sweet potatoes. Damn, is there anything I don't love?

Red Velvet Cake
Such a pretty cake for our grandma!


South Pole Departure Party

There are leftovers to be had from my brother's Departure Party. SO MUCH leftovers! Everyone stuffed themselves silly, imbibing delicious wine and seasonal beer and having a relaxed time. Here is what we ate to silliness...

some tj italian salami, candied pecans, crackers, and walnut-date crostini

French Cow's Milk Cheese Plate:
a. Morbier
b. St. Agur Blue Cheese
c. (crap, i don't remember the name. something really frenchy)
*oh my god, st.agur blue cheese is amazing. it's a double creme blue cheese. when the silverlake cheese monger gave me a piece of this i just want to melt. i think it was also the most expensive at $35. it's so much fun shopping for cheese (at a cheese store) bc you get to try so many different cheeses. just go into a cheese store and ask for their help and opinion. and many cheese samples will come your way.

[blurry warm picholines and almonds]
Warm Picholine Olives & Almonds
*this is from Lucques restaurant. whole foods was out of lucques olives so I subbed picholine, which worked great. I really like the meaty texture and juiciness of picholines. the best part of making this dish was when i combined the hot toasted almonds to a bowl of marinating olives (olive oil, thyme), and off went the crackling!

Goat Cheese Mousse on Walnut-Date Crostini
*this recipe is adapted from the French Laundry website. i used an 8oz trader joe's garlic and herb goat cheese. and i picked up an extra 4oz of french goat cheese at the silverlake cheese store in order to double the recipe i added this dish last minute so i had to pick up a few extra items. luckily the cheese store was selling bread that day, supposedly their first batch, and i didn't have to make a separate trip. the bread was delicious. although a super simple dish, it was a big hit.

Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta with Mushroom Ragu
*this is adapted from giada's (everyday italian) recipe. i cooked 2 lbs total of cremini and button mushrooms with thyme, rosemary, garlic, dry marsala, and sherry vinegar. i added a drizzle of white truffle oil off the heat and it really gave that extra vavoom to the dish. giada's recipe did not call for any herbs. :P wth, i say pooey to that. her food is really uninteresting but it's still useful to get a general proportion for things. i think polenta always needs more salt then what the recipe calls for. first batch was a little bit bland but i fixed that by sprinkling some kosher salt before i broiled them. i shaved a bit of pecorino after i topped the polenta squares with a small spoonful of the mushrooms. even mushroom haters loved this dish.

Croque Monsieur
*next was this delectable, cheesy ham and cheese sandwich. just watching the cheese bubble under the broiler was almost unbearable. it was a beautiful sight. i used black forest ham in this. why? bc i was at costco and that was what they had. i would prefer to use thin slices of french ham. god, it was soo good. anything with that much cheese can't be bad. the aroma of the browned cheese is amazing. one thing i would do differently next time is to toast the bread a little bit more before assembly. i have an electric stove so the heats not always even. the bread should have been a light golden brown.

lamb on a beautiful disposable plate :)
Rosemary-Dijon Rack of Lamb
*finally, we got to the meat dish. since this event was supposed to be centered around finger foods, i served these sliced up on a big platter with a beautiful green dollop of pistou on each one. delicious.

Truffle Brownies and Chocolate Truffles
*finally, finally, the desesrt. i got the truffle brownies from town & country bakery and made the truffle. when i tried to roll the truffle into a ball, quickly, it kept melting into my hands! with the addition of coffee, vanilla and grand marnier (barefoot contessa recipe) these truffles came to life. unfortunately they almost killed a few people with their easily breathable powdered sugar and cocoa. desserts are definitely not my specialty but i still had fun making these.

At the end of the night, I served a few bottles of Cristalino Cava. Another noteworthy drink of the night was Anchor Brewing's winter ale. So frickin good. A nice touch of spice but not overwhelming, balanced with a good amount of hops.

I really had fun planning and executing this event. I think this is my biggest production to date. My brother left today for the South Pole. I hope he left with some memories of good food and fun people. Have a good trip!

My Side Stint as a Kitchen Intern at A.O.C.

As I was driving up Crescent Heights going to my hopefully second "work," I couldn't believe I was going to work in a kitchen. For the last few months I kept telling myself that I will look for a kitchen job, get in touch with some restaurants and such. But being the big chicken that I am I kept putting it off. I hate rejection!

But I finally did it, put pen to paper, or more realistically, put fingers to keyboard, and wrote an email to AOC, one of the five restaurant on my list to hit up. And to my surprise someone got back to me. And there I was, walking through the door of AOC and heading back to the kitchen with my knives, wrapped in cloth napkin in a paper wine bag.

I worked helping with some vegetable prepping and dessert plating. I had fun and more importantly it felt very comfortable. So yesterday was a chance for the kitchen staff to feel me out and see if they want to keep me but I think I did well. The staff there is really great because everyone is pretty young and easy to get along with. Plus they made sure I got to taste a bit of everything they made. Throughout the night someone would say "make sure Susan tastes some!" :D I think I would really enjoy working with all of them.

Now onto the juicy bits, I tasted some delicious food. It's been a while since I ate at AOC so the menu is completely changed now. I ate a bite of each but if you add all that up it's a small and delicious meal.

halibut, celery root, sunchokes and hazelnuts
veal saltimbocca with madeira brown butter
farro and black rice with pinenuts and currants
brussel sprouts with balsamic and pancetta
crème fraîche panna cotta with spiced persimmon compote and maple pecans
chocolate pot de crème with hazelnut bark and pirouettes
roasted dates, parmesan and bacon

There was nothing that I didn't like but the brussel sprouts and the roasted dates really stood out to me. Simple but packed with flavor. I am kind of tired today but yesterday was my exciting first day in the culinary world. I am working this Saturday so more updates to come.

8022 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048


Farewell Brother and Hello South Pole!

Of all places you thought you would ever go to, does the South Pole ever come to mind? I didn't even know there were people down there! Well now one of those people will be my brother for a few months. He is going down there to do some scientific research stuff. Stuff at the other extreme of delicious food.

So what better way to send him off to the freezing temperature and 24-hour sunny snowland than a dinner party with friends? Since feeding sixteen people a sit-down meal may be a bit difficult for one dining and one coffee table, I opted for a night of small bites.

To start off...

French cheese plate of Salers, Roquefort, and ___ (undecided).
Warm Picholine Olives & Almonds

Sun-dried Tomato Polenta Squares with Mushroom Ragu

Croque Monsieur

Rosemary-Dijon Lamb Chops with Pistou

Chocolate Truffles

*All to be eaten with clean phalanges and a small plate.

The lovely guests will be contributing a bottle of wine for the festivities. {I hope no merlot or chardonnay!} I on the other hand am supplying a few bubblies, Cristalino Cava, and few reds.

Well the craziness began yesterday after food shopping at both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, as usual. I candied some pecans for the cheese plate. Ehh, it turned out alright. I know, I know, it's just candying nuts and I could I mess that up. Maybe I will do them over again. But then who's gonna eat the first batch?

I also made the mushroom ragu and sun-dried polenta with Giada Laurentiis's recipe tweeked a bit. My mom said the mushroom ragu was good but I don't think it was mind-blowing or anything. The polenta was just okay too. I think I will make a second batch tonight, adding more salt and herbs. I think a touch of pecorino after assembly may do the trick. I also added a few drizzles of white truffle oil to the mushroom ragu for delicious aroma and depth of flavor.

Last minute I decided to make dessert too, the chocolate truffles. The brownies I will buy, thank god. Why did I decide to drive myself crazy and make the dessert too? I don't know. I may add another dish too. Running out of food will be a nightmare and maybe even a riot!

I hope everything turns out okay. I am looking forward to the end of tomorrow night, when hopefully people will be inebriated and full with delicious food, and when I will be able to knock back a few and relax. Until Monday that is when it will start all over for a family Thanksgiving dinner of eighteeen.


The Stupidest Person on FoodTV

Sandra Lee, hands down, no competition, period. When I turn on FoodTV and I get a minute's glimpse of this moron babbling off about how "cool and easy" her food is my blood starts to boil. She really gets on my nerves, ten times more than hyperactive loony Rachael Ray.

The food she cooks is digusting. Her table setup is horribly tacky and super matching so everything blends with each other. Even her clothes match sometimes. She goes out of her way to be "semi-homemade" when she can make something homemade and actually delicious for the same amount of time and money. The longest duration I've watched this show is about 3 minutes. She disgusts me.

I am glad to find that others are disgusted with Sandra Lee as I am and that the world is not coming to an end. People like her that promote bad food and bad cooking philosophy should be cast off onto an island and forced to eat only their food til death, which no doubt they will love with their bad taste.


The Doom of the 1st Roast Chicken

Last year for my family's annual Thanksgiving gathering, I was assigned to the duty of the turkey. I was not particularly happy about this assignment but everyone (the diligent ladies of the family to be exact and not the lazy men who play golf all day. minus my mom who plays golf with all the men. traitor!)does as they're told. Now, cooking up a whole bird, especially one that's huge, sounds like a very unattractive proposition unless the dish in question is sam-gye-tang (Korean chicken), which uses little cornish hens. Well thank god I wasn't required to make a homemade turkey. I ordered a roast turkey from Gelson's and called it a day.

But I finally came to grips with the fact that I will need to roast a whole bird sometime because: a)who doesn't make roast chicken!; b) I want to be a well-rounded cook; and c) because it's frickin delicious silly. When I came to that realization and faced my fear of roasting a whole bird, that's when things began to go wrong like a mysterious horror film.

The naked bird...
I am facing the naked bird. A whole carcass to be exact. This makes me feel a lil bit uneasy because I am forced to face the connection between my food and its former animal life. It's not same as the deconstructed pieces of food that are nicely packaged into "thighs" or "breasts," far removed from our minds as Clucky, the cute chicken. I get over it and rub it down with olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and fill its cavity with lemon, herbs, celery and onion.

The roasting pan...
I ordered a roasting pan from amazon. I awaited the package anxiously and when it was delivered I opened it with a gusto of a five-year old birthday girl opening her most ginormous gift. It was beautiful as I expected it to be, gleaming and shiny without a nick to disturb its smooth stainless steel essence. If anything delicious was going to be made in this beauty it was going to be a roast chicken.

Now the adventures...
After seasoning the chicken, I trussed it, placed it in the middle of the roasting pan, surrouding it with a crowd of garlic cloves, onion and lemon wedges, and herbs. In it went. Being the completely impatient cook that I am, I had to try really hard not to open the oven door to peek, lest all the heat escape into the night. But unable to see through the window on the oven door (due to the fact that it had never been cleaned before) I could not see a damn thing! So I did it. I peeked.

Oh, it was beautiful. The skin was browning nicely and the aroma of the roasting chicken and veges filled the kitchen. I closed the door quickly and excitedly waited for the timer to go "beep beep beep." I was a proud little yoony, hearing no doomed soundtrack from a horror flick.

"Beep beep beep!" Carefully grabbing the mighty roasting pan, I took out the golden chicken and let it rest on top of the stove, after poking the breast of the chicken to see how crispy the skin was.

Finally after about 10 minutes I grabbed a knife to start carving. I placed the sharp knife along the breast bone and began to push down to cut off the hopefully juicy piece of white meat. However, the knife did not cut through the meat and no steaming juice dripped from the cut. Now the skin that once looked golden and crispy was not so. What the hell was going on?!(insert doomed music here).

I continued to carve the rest of the meat off the chicken, making sure to neatly cut off the wings and legs, the best parts imo. I was very disappointed at my first Roast Chicken. What had gone wrong? Was this fate's cruel joke at my attempt to avoid roasting poultry for 24 years? Was I sabatoged?

Nope, no cruel joke and no sabatoge. Silly me, I roasted the chicken upside down! No wonder I couldn't carve any meat off. The mistake also contributed to the uneven browning of the chicken. At that point my disappointed turned into a less disappointed laughter. I had also forgotten to season the cavity. Arg! Next time I will conquer you upside-down-bland-chicken! Next time...


But I did make a delicious side to go with my supposed-to-be-delicious roast chicken, a Chorizo Stuffing. My saving grace of the night.

The Smell of Autumn & Winter


When I was wee and skipping through the streets of Yesan, South Korea, when the leaves were turning color and the cool breeze would begin to pick up, the streets were filled with the smell of autumn, and winter for that matter. The smell of delicious warm food.

Vendors would sell hot buns filled with meat and vegetables, charcoal-grilled flattened pieces of dried cuttlefish, and last but not least, roasted chestnuts. The smell of roasting chestnuts... so warm, nutty, and just downright comfy. That memory has only been recently relived (I haven't eaten roasted chestnuts since I was a small little thing) when I passed by a vendor in Little Tokyo and caught a whiff of that familiar but distant aroma.

I walked over with my eyes fixed on these little gems, much smaller than most chestnuts I had ever seen. I grabbed a sample and slowly opened up the cracked outer shell and popped it into my mouth. Its sweetness being outrageously reverse-proportioned to its smallness, my mind screamed "so good!"

So here it is folks, a simple pleasure of exiting summer and plunging into autumn.