Lunch From Scraps' Scraps: Pizza Bagel

I brought my leftover Pizza Bread for lunch. I wasn't really feeling the wheat bread base, especially since I semi-burned it yesterday when I was trying to achieve a "crust." Lucky for me Friday at my work is bagel day. I took half of a sesame bagel (the top) and transferred the cheese and tomato topping. Popped it in the toaster oven for 10 minutes. Yumm. Much better than the toast.

The Pizza Bagel is something I would definitely make again. Basically any bread that can achieve some type of crust would be good. Like french bread, naan, ciabatta and baguette. But if all you have if toast bread (like I did) then toast it beforehand to give it some structure.

This would be a great casual dining item for a party. Split a whole french bread, place toppings on both slices and bake. With an antipasto of grilled veges and an arugula-parmesan salad with lemon dressing, this could be a really easy and cheap way to host lunch/dinner for a group of 6-8.


Dinner From Scraps: Pizza Bread

Too often I let food go to waste by completely neglecting it while it sits lonely in the crisper or the cheese compartment. Sometimes it's right in front of my face and I still don't see it. I have what I refer to as selective senses. I don't see things even if it's staring at me so it does not occur to my absent mind that I should put it to use. Like the bundle of basil, or the container of ricotta, parsley, the list goes on. And I always feel so guilty!

So to clean up my act (at least for today) I looked through my fridge and made dinner from few scraps I had here and there. I made Pizza Bread to utilize a lump of low-moisture mozzarella and a few fillets of anchovy I had leftover from C's bday lunch, whole wheat bread I've been keeping in the freezer, and a can of diced tomatoes.

I sweated a quarter of an onion with 2 cloves of garlic. Then added the can of diced tomatoes and reduced it til it got jammy. Seasonings include black pepper, salt and TJ pasta seasoning. I laid out 4 whole wheat toasts on a baking sheet and sprinkled a very thin layer on the mozzarella I grated so the bread wouldn't get too soggy from the tomato sauce. I spooned a bit of sauce onto each toast and then topped it with the rest of the cheese. Sprinkled red pepper flakes, chopped anchovy fillets, herbs de provence and thinly sliced red onion. Popped it in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes then under broiler for 1 minutes.


It turned out pretty good except I wish the bread base was crisper (only the edges were). A grill or griddle after the pizza bread exited the oven would have been useful but I threw my pieces into a dry pan for few minutes and it was much improved.


And to pair with this classy dinner I drank Tres Ojos Old Vines Garnacha 2003, Calatayud. I think I got this delicious wine for about $9.
"Made from 100% Old Vine Garnacha (40-50 year old vines). The wine ferments for 7 days at 30ÂșC, followed by 14 days maceration on the skins. Aged 12 months in large stainless steel vats. Cold stabilized and lightly filtered before bottling. The wine is fruity, juicy, spicy and delicious. Even more important, it is a terrific value."
I like values. Yay.

So not bad for scraps. I feel better knowing I made a simple and delicious dinner out of those humble ingredients rather than throw them away at the end of the week.


IMBB 19: I Can't Believe I ate Vegan!


For my IMBB 19 entry I did a vegan twist on a Korean classic: Dubu Jorim (Simmered Spicy Tofu). To jo-ryuh is to cook by reducing the liquid. So in essence, a jorim is a dish that is made by reducing the sauce by simmering and in turn cooking the main ingredient. Most liquid or base in jorims are reduced to a salty sauce composed of soysauce and spices. Some common forms of jorims are gamja jorim (potato), jang jorim (beef), sengsun jorim (fish) and dubu jorim.

My mom's dubu jorim (which by the way is the best) uses thin slices of boiled pork belly (same as bacon meat). Now days she also uses my chicken stock to add more flavor. This is definitely one of my favorite Korean dishes. My veganized version is loaded with mushrooms, squash and of course tofu.


Dubu Jorim (Simmered Spicy Tofu)

2 squash (organic Korean kind pictured), cut into big chunks
2 scallions, chopped
2 packs firm tofu
2 jalapenos
1 pack king oyster mushrooms, cut in half lengthwise and slice thinly
1 pack button mushrooms, leave small ones whole and cut big ones into halves
1 pack cluster of mushrooms, cut bottom off and tear into small groups
1 onion, chop into quarter moons
vegetable stock
vegetable oil for frying

for the sauce:
1/2-3/4 soy sauce
4 tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp sesame seed
2 green onion, chopped


Slice tofu and pat dry with towel (look at size in picture). Fry in vegetable oil over medium-high heat until golden crust forms on each side, about 10 minutes. Don't let them burn! While tofu is frying cut up rest of the ingredients. Drain tofu on papertowel.

Heat dutch oven over medium heat. Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Layer half of the tofu on the bottom of the pot and drizzle with lil bit of the sauce. Throw in 2/3 of the king oyster and button mushroom and 1/2 of the onion. Drizzle with sauce. Try to get a lil bit of the sauce on everything or else it will not season fully.

You may hear a busy sizzling at the bottom of the pot at this point. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock so the bottom layer does not burn and turn up heat to medium-high. Layer the rest of the tofu and drizzle with sauce. Layer the rest of the oyster and button mushroom and top with the remaining onion. Now layer the squash chunks, cluster mushroom and chopped scallion on top. You want these on top bc they are the most delicate. Drizzle remainder of sauce and put lid on tightly. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes and reseason if necessary. Simmer with lid open for 10 minutes so sauce reduces a little bit. If sauce is too watery ingredients will taste bland while the sauce is still salty (from the soy sauce and gochujang).

After serving on plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds and very thinly sliced scallion (which I did not do bc I am lazy). Enjoy with a side of rice or the grain of your choice.

I didn't really get to surprise anyone with my vegan dish but my mom did like it. :)

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A Late-Summer Redemption BBQ


Somehow I spent the whole summer without bbq-ing once. Completely pathetic considering it's a yearly tradition that isn't that hard to accomplish. Eating a mound of grilled foods and drinking cold beer... not really what I consider "homework." Trying to redeem myself for not taking advantange of the beautiful LA weather and my parent's convenient gas grill I barely fit my first and last summer 2005 bbq in during mid-September.

After a short debate of what to cook I settled on a classic: the hamburger. I used about 3 lbs of ground chuck from Whole Foods. I tried to get this coarse grated but for some really dumb reason they didn't have a coarse grinder. I formed the patties and sprinkled a good amount of salt and pepper only on the exterior right before grilling to assist in forming a crust. The toppings were simple: tomato slices, iceburg lettuce, red onion, aged cheddar, mayo, dijon and most importantly Trader Joe's organic ketchup. The TJ ketchup cannot be substituted for. Just too delicious. Some thousand island dressing and pickles would have been good too.

I like my burgers simple. But must have melted cheese and grilled buns.

A Simple Frenchy Dinner


Sometimes when I come home from work, time-consuming or even slightly time-consuming dinner seems quite unattractive. Of course I can resort to frozen or pouch foods, but I like to reserve those for lunch when I am running late for work and have to fly out the door. And I guess I can take-out or go out for dinner, but that in itself takes monetary and caloric consequences.

Hence, the simple frenchy dinner. Fluffy cheese omelet with French salad and rustic bread. Appropriately, the bag of pre-washed mixed lettuce is called the "Parisian Mix." Although, inappropriately the rustic bread you see in the picture is a ciabatta.

For the omelet I used 6 eggs and two slices of aged cheddar (for two people). The key to a good omelet is to not overcook the eggs and keep it fluffy. When folded over and served, the middle should still be very moist and cheese oozy melted. For the dressing I used a dollop of dijon mustard, few drizzlings of red wine vinegar, many turns of the black pepper mill, garlic, extra virgin olive oil. I think this is my favorite dressing to date.


The Inevitable Everyone-Has-to-Participate-Work-Brunch

Everytime someone leave my work we have a work brunch (unless they aren't special enough). A sign-up sheet for food gets passed around with a good-bye card, in which most people write the same "good luck" and "nice knowing you" even if they rarely ever talked to them in the office.

It seems kind of silly that I should have to write "good byes" and "good lucks" to someone I don't even normally talk to. And it also seems silly that I participate in the brunch when I don't even want to eat any of the food.

It's usually loaded with soda, chips, cookies, super fattening pastries, cheese dips, bottled salsa. All things I usually do not want to put into my mouth at 9 in the morning, or even ever. I usually bring simple stuff like nuts or carrots. Sometimes I don't bring anything in which case I do not eat anything. Fair enough.

One time I actually decided to put in a lil bit more effort and made mini breakfast burritos with chicken sausage, spanish potatoes and scrambled egg. It was good but probably a one-time event. It's just not worth the effort. I would rather save the $20. But today I was going to bring frittata which is easy to make and would have been good for my leftover basil and parsley. I completely forgot.

It's safe to say my mind is completely blank when I wake up in the morning and any plans or to-dos I thought of the night before has flown out the window during the night. I remembered about 10 minutes before I had to leave for work. Hmmm...what to do. Settled for a jar of Starburst. Oh well. I usually criticize the abundance of junk food at these brunches but what the hell difference does it make if I bring my jar of Starburst.

Unfortunately, among the good home-made eggroll and bread pudding I had today, I committed a crime to my taste buds. I had supermarket sushi. Ewww. At first I quickly walked away from the gelatinous rice and low-quality fish and weird vegetable fillings. But later on when I realized all the eggrolls were plundered my mind began to break down. The part of my brain which tells me "supermarket sushi is a crime to your tastebuds" shut down and I did it. I ate them. Four of them. I feel guilty. And disgusting. I will have to drink many glasses of delicious beer later in order to redeem myself.

How to Make the Most of Your "Sick Day"

9:00am Eat meat-filled buns and watch movie in pajamas

11:30am Drink Brasserie Dupont's Biere de Miel to wet lunch appetite

1:00pm Eat korean bbq at Shik Do Rak with a large bottle of OB Lager
cha dol bae gi - thin, unmarinated slices of beef brisket point
galbi jumulluk - unmarinated chunks of boneless short rib
doenjang jjigae - bean paste soup with beef, zucchini & tofu

2:30pm Go into food coma and take a 2 hour nap on couch in front of tv with gentle fan on

7:00pm Eat dak kalgooksoo (handcut noodles w/chicken) take-out from Olympic Kalgooksoo

8:00pm Drink a glass of Spanish red. [Finca Sobreno Tinta de Toro]

Then, Good night!


End of the Bruschetta Bar & C's Bday Story

How did the food go?

Tomato & Basil Bruschetta
The tomatoes weren't as ripe as I wanted them to be. Would have been much better if I got them at the farmer's market Saturday morning. Simply did not have time. Added a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and torn basil leaves.

White Bean Bruschetta
People really liked this spread. Secret ingredient? Anchovy.


Endive Cups with Gorgonzola, Pear & Candied Spicy Walnuts
A very popular item. Love the combination of tangy blue cheese, crunchy endive, juicy pear and sweet, spicy and crunchy candied walnuts. Next time I'll try Roquefort instead. Yumm. The pears were not ripe enough. Arg.


Prosciutto-Wrapped Arugula & Mozzarella Bruschetta
This really proves my dislike for packaged prosciutto. I was cooking for 15 people so I thought Prosciutto di Parma would be to0 expensive. But there is simply nothing like it. Even San Daniela Prosciutto would have been okay as long as it was from the deli. I used low moisture mozzarella but I didn't like it too much. I prefer the soft water-stored mozzarella. Couldn't find frisee anywhere so subbed arugula.


Seared Tuna & Roasted Pepper Bruschetta
Made way too much of this. I only got 2 steaks but after I sliced them up and after all the other dishes, it was a lil bit too many. I got the tuna from Whole Foods the morning of the party for freshness. It was good but a lil bit of sauce on top would have been nice. I marinated the roasted peppers with red wine vinegar, olive oil, parsley, garlic and capers. Next time I would top the bruschetta with a dollop of sauce and few capers.

Figs with Ricotta, Wildflower Honey & Toasted Almonds
I x'd this from the menu. And it made me happy, which means I did the right thing. There was already a lot going on with the menu. I get carried away sometimes serving multiple dishes. For a Christmas party once, I did a 6 or 7 course meal for 15 people. Yes, carried away.


Balsamic-Strawberry Chocolate Pavlova
The pavlova is always a hit and this time too. It was my first time using strawberries but I thought it was good. I hulled and sliced the berries and macerated them with a touch of balsamic vinegar and granulated sugar. Highly addicting.

Pureed ripe strawberries with sparkling wine. Doesn't sound too bad right? It was not only delicious but so pretty. Went perfectly with the Pavlova. We drank Cristalino Cava Brut which is a Spanish sparkling wine. At only $7.99 from Bevmo, it may be the only sparkling wine I like under $20.

**So a lot of things I would have done differently but it still turned out good. I think people's favorite were the endives and pavlova. I had a lot of fun planning, cooking and then of course drinking. :) All the hard work got paid off at the end with the many Rossinis.


Bruschetta Bar for C's Birthday Chowdown

Yay, I get to cater my second party this Saturday. For C's birthday I decided to do a Bruschetta Bar. Since the event will be a lunch gathering, I thought an informal food setting composed of bite-size variations would be good. The menu...

Tomato & Basil Bruschetta
White Bean Bruschetta
Endive Cups with Blue Cheese, Pear & Candied Spicy Walnuts
Prosciutto-Wrapped Frisee & Mozzarella Bruschetta
Seared Tuna & Roasted Pepper Bruschetta
Figs with Ricotta, Wildflower Honey & Toasted Almonds
Balsamic-Strawberry Chocolate Pavlova

A good way to end my vegan week with a bang, huh? Quite interested in making the Rossini which is pureed strawberries topped off with sparkling wine or if you wanna get fancy, champagne. I considered the Bellini also but the white peaches I've had lately aren't that great.

Well I cross my fingers and hope everything turns out good.

Vegan For A Week... (5 days actually. shhh.)

In light of the upcoming IMBB #19 - I Can't Believe I Ate Vegan! hosted by Becks & Posh, I decided to challenge myself by eating vegan for 1 week. Well 5 days to be exact because I am catering for C's birthday this Saturday and you know I'm gonna have some sort of cheese all up in the mix. More on that later...

Anyhow, going from cheese-munching, meat-eating and daily-non-fat-yogurt consuming to vegan has been difficult! Here is how it started off...

I was originally supposed to start on Sunday but I woke up to my mom's delicious semi-homemade Doenjang Soup which had bits of pork in it. I devoured it and decided to start the whole vegan deal on Monday. Every Saturday and Sunday right when I wake up I goto the kitchen to fix myself breakfast/lunch and it's almost always Korean food. I couldn't break from my weekly ritual this time.

So what the hell have i been eating? odwalla bars, whole wheat toast with p&J, roasted almonds, white peach, concord grapes, blue-corn chips with salsa & guacalmole. i guess things i would normally be eating. minus yogurt. minus eggs. minus cheese. minus butter.

For lunch I've been making Arugula with Figs & Lemon-Tarragon Dressing and Baby Romaine with Ginger Dressing. I usually eat Korean for dinner when I stay in and since a lot of ban-chan (sides that accompany every meal) are made with just vegetables it was easy to put a vegan meal together. Here are my ban-chan in pretty Korean ceramic plates:


from top clockwise: pickled sesame leaves=ggaet'ip, steamed eggplant=ga-ji na-mul, and cucumber with gochujang (Korean chili paste made with bean paste and sweet rice).

The sesame leaves are really salty and the gochujang pretty spicy. I had cold Soft Tofu to counter those and also Steamed Kimchi to accompany. No rice though, trying to pack in protein instead.

I finally cooked something (besides the eggplants) because I needed my fix of a spicy and full-flavored meal. I made spicy Vegetable Brown Curry with zucchini, potato, onion, corn, peas, oyster mushroom, and tofu chunks. I served it with mixed rice composed of whole oats, wild rice, white rice (and some other grains I don't know)--delicious and filling. Just what I needed to get me going til the end of the week.

And I made it! Today is Friday and I have not strayed from my vegan food program. But I can't wait to have some blue cheese and prosciutto tomorrow.


jammin away.

One Sunday afternoon, Boy and I parked the car on Olympic and walked around to the corner to find the entrance to Guelaguetza, an Oaxacan restaurant. I got to the corner door and wondered if it was the right entrance. Seemed awfully quiet. I slowly opened the door and whoa! I was hit with some serious party music! The place was packed! There was a mess of people waiting but somehow we got a table in about 5 minutes, probably because we were only a party of 2.


First we were served a complimentary basket of Tortilla Chips with Red Mole and Queso Fresco. This was so delicious. Guelaguetza's red mole really hits the spot. Full of spices and ground nuts but a bit sweet, it was serious good eats. When the server brought our entrees he took off with the basket and I cried "noooooo" ever so lightly but he heard me and brought it right back. Apologies and all. Teehee. That's how good it was.


I had the Carne Combo with quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese), chorizo, tasajo (salted beef) and cecina (spicy salted pork). In some cases and recipes i've seen the terms tasajo and cecina interchanged but not quite sure. I think cecina can be beef or pork while tasajo is specifically beef. Anyhow, it was so frickin good! Even though I had a huge plate I could not stop eating.


Boy got the Mole Negro con Pollo which was also delicious. Quite intense and smoky for the casual mole eater. Guelaguetza's food, service and entertainment was great. I'm glad it's only a few minutes from my place.

**"Guelaguetza," a Zapotec word signifying offering, is an annual ceremony and celebration held in July each year to propitiate the gods in return for sufficient rain and a bountiful harvest.

3014 W Olympic Blvd

3337 1/2 W 8th St

Tofu Ya

The Sawtelle strip in West LA is filled with cute little Japanese restaurants, shops and of course GRs. On a productive trip over there I can eat lunch at Curry House, get a hair cut, stop by GR to get another tofu action figure, and buy a cold coffee drink and Japanese cheesecake at Nijiya. But on this day I was a bit pressed for time than usual. Having rushed over from Culver City/Marina Del Rey for a meeting (in record time of 25 minutes) I had less than 30 minutes to eat! Hmmm. Needed something casual and fast.

I was eyeing Asahi Ramen but I remembered last time I was there the noodle (I forget the name) was not very flavorful. It was something "spicy" that wasn't spicy at all. The Yakisoba was good though. So there was some hesitation there. Plus eating a bowl full of hot noodles would get me hot and sweaty (the bad way) and unpresentable.

Right next door I saw Tofu Ya. I don't ever remember seeing it before but I hadn't been in the area for a while. I thought it was something I had previously overlooked but it had only opened the day before! (back in August. yes i procrastinate. a lot.)


I ordered the Donkatsu, which a breaded pork cutlet. It was thicker than ususal and super crispy. I liked that the katsu sauce came on the side. That way the sauce doesn't get too absorbed into the breading. I scarfed down the iceburg and thousand island salad, which is an ubiquitous item at casual Korean restaurants. It sometimes comes with cabbage which is also good.


The banchan were so-so. The ghim (roasted seaweed) was stale, the pickled radish was weird and the sauteed fishcakes bland. The sauteed mungbean sprouts and kimchi were good but I had to drastically cut down my kimchi intake to avoid any breath issues.

Overall Tofu Ya was okay. With popular Korean items like Soon-Dooboo (spicy soft tofu stew) and Katsus, it's a good place to get a quick meal. But you think its soon-dooboo can beat ktwon ones? Price for my meal was average at $10 including tax and tip.

2021 Sawtelle Blvd.


Sunset Junction Beer Garden@Good


I had a damn good time at my first Sunset Junction Street Fair this year, made more enjoyable by the fact that Good had a "beer garden" with Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale and Hoegaarden on tap. It was so meltingly hot the whole weekend but that first cold sip of beer (on both days) made the heat worth it.

The few times I've been to Good, it hasn't really been ... well, good. Good is a beer specialty bar/restaurant, usually empty, playing cheesy music and overwhelmed by its dining area instead of having a great accessible bar. It has a lot of good domestic and imported beers but only three are on tap. It's one of the most boring bars I've been too but with one with a pretty extensive beer list.

Now back to the beers...


Flying Dog brewpub was first established in 1990 in Aspen, Colorado, by George Stranahan and Richard McIntyre. Now days they brew their delicious beers in Denver at their state-of-the-art facility. If anyone has seen the Flying Dog bottle labels, they are designed with crazy but cool illustrations of dogs doing dog things by Ralph Steadman, a British cartoonist, author, printmaker and also illustrator for the late Hunter S. Thompson.

"If art, whether it's the art of beer making or the visual arts, is our first language then dogs are our second. Not those pampered show dogs, but everyday mutts that chase their own tails and bark at the moon. These guys are a reflection of the people we strive to be, carefree and spontaneous, rough around the edges but with real charm." www.flyingdogales.com

Funny, charming philosophy and delicious beer. No complaints from me.


Now Hoegaarden is a Belgian white beer. Sooo delicious. Hoegaarden Brewery was found in 1966 when Pierre Celis "revived the witbier tradition ... when he created a beer with the traditional ingredients of water, yeast, wheat, hops, coriander and dried Curacao orange peel." Answers.com

This beer has a beautiful soft yellow hue, cloudy from the suspended wheat proteins, a light taste of coriander, gentle carbonation, and always refreshing. It's very drinkable, an everyday beer. A very special everyday beer that is.


What happened to the food? I ate a few things at the Street Fair but the only one worth mentioning is the Hawaiian bbq from Brody's. Delicious teriyaki marinated chicken with pineapple toppings on top of fluffy white rice. Good prep for my tummy before the beers. ;)