Happy Birthday immaeatchu

Almost forgot immeatchu turns one this month!

From home-cooked Korean food, McDonalds and Pizza Hut of my younger days, to FoodTV obsession throughout my college years while chomping on college-sized fast food, discovering food blogging last year, cooking more since moving back home to a useable kitchen and some income and inspired by awesome food blogs, getting a peek into the restaurant industry, and now part-time catering... my food life (I actually have one now!) has come down an unexpected interesting route. I was obsessed about FoodTV back then but I now I'm actually crazy about food. Who woulda thunk?

Happy 1 year to immeatchu and thanks for reading my humble blog!


McGrath Farms' Watercress Soup with Gentleman's Relish Toast


Yay another spring recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I usually don't like to make soups. The only (non-Korean) soups I've ever had growing up was canned, usually cream of something or clam chowder. I was never into chicken noodles. Yuck, well to the canned ones at least.

So my soup history's been pretty bland. Until I had my first two really great soups last summer: Lucques's Soupe au Pistou with Amaranth & Grana Breadcrumbs and Campanile's Summer Tomato Soup. Both soups were so great, full of flavor and extremely fresh. Since then my view on soups has changed a little bit. I still tread lightly on making soups but once in a while I feel give it a try and I definitely do give it an ogle when I read a menu. Results at home are okay and sometimes good (according to others) but my homemade soups never really satisfy me that much.

But when I started spending the few hours a week in the AOC kitchen, tasting seasonal flavors, and marching my culinary brain through the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook, I realized how an ingredient can be appreciated and crafted into a simple unpretentious delicious dish. So I thought for my second Lucques dish for spring I would try out McGrath Farms' Watercress Soup with Gentleman's Relish Toast.

But unfortunately...

The recipe called for 5 cups or 2 bunches of watercress, which I got from Marina Farms market (and not McGrath Farms). The soup needs to be made right before serving, wilting the watercress and herbs with hot vegetable stock then blending it to a smooth consistency. The recipe states that "at this point, the soup's consistency should be that of heavy cream". Maybe I was mistaken but the first half of the blended soup was not as thick at heavy cream! :/ Yikes. So I blended the second watercress bunch with less than half amount of liquid that was required then mixed the two batches together. Still not thick enough.

So then I went guerilla style. I cut up some baguette pieces, soaked it in the watery soup, added a bit more salt, then blended it up. It got thicker but I still wasn't sure. But at this point I just wanted to eat it. Maybe an extra bunch next time would help the consistency. But flavor-wise this is the best homemade soup I've made to date! Seriously, if I can fuck up a soup recipe and it still tastes better than any other soups I've made in my life, it must be a great recipe.


And it was quite well enjoyed with a crisp baguette toast with "gentleman's relish". Hehe, a great name for a spread.
This Irish condiment sold in jars under the name Patun Peperium, was created in 1828 and is still being made by only one company, from a secret blend of anchovy, butter, herbs, and spices. The story goes that the man who created it presume that ladies' taste buds were too delicate for this hearty anchovy spread. As my version demonstrates, I disgree. [Sunday Suppers at Lucques]

All I gotta say is, you go grrl! Butter smashed with minced anchovy, chives, shallots, parsley, cayenne, lemon juice and zest... this is making my mouth water. Mmmm.


Pocket Coffee


After getting a tip on these Pocket Coffee treats at David's blog I ordered a "case" of em for about $100. And then I yelled at myself: "100 bucks?!". Then Boy yelled at me: "100 bucks!". I don't even drink coffee but these espresso filled chocolate bites were so appealing to me that I just had to get it. Capri Flavors was offering free shipping on these until the end of May so I jumped on that. The case even came with a free box of 32, totalling my little Pocket Coffee inventory at 182 pieces. Well now 181.

I got the box of goodies today and when I opened it I thought "100 bucks for these?!" They just looked so small but I was still excited. Especially since the case listed the price in euros which made it even cooler. :) Hehe.

Then I opened one up, popped it in my mouth. A slow bite down through the middle of the chocolate, then gush! The espresso was so delicious. Ahhh, a new form of happiness. And a new edible addiction. My only fear is that after I give Boy one to try this evening he will go bonkers. Boy drinks a lot of coffee so who knows what kind of addictions this will leash on him... and my stash!

look how fast you can go when you eat Pocket Coffee!

Endive Salad with Oil-Cured Olives


My original goal back in March was to cook a spring menu from the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook every week. Hmmm, hasn't happened yet. I checked my calendar the other day and June 21st is stamped "Summer Solstice". Summer's around the corner and I haven't even cooked any of the spring menus! I think that goal was set a bit high.

I mean it's not a crime if I make a spring menu in the summer but still. The whole point was to follow the seasonal menus. Sigh, so I won't be able to make ALL the dishes and menus but how about I chip away at it little bit at a time? That works.

So my first spring Lucques dish is Endive Salad with Oil-Cured Olives. Isn't it a beauty? Beautiful pale endive leaves with meyer lemon cream, salty oil-cured olives, creamy vibrantly-hued favas, and shallots slivers to liven it up. Trust me, it tastes as good as it looks.

The meyer lemon cream recipe really surprised me. I guess because I've never used dairy in my dressings before. After whisking meyer lemon juice, minced shallots, and olive oil, a little bit of cream is gently stirred in. The cream and the citrus balance each other out, so the dressing neither seems overly acidic and at the same time the cream doesn't feel heavy. It was really delicious and I used it for the rest of the week on different lettuces. It would even be great over grilled fish, chicken or vegetables.

All of Suzanne Goin's salads that I've tried out so far are amazing. I really feel that trying out a few of her recipes has been eye-opening for my salad department which definitely lacks some experience. Each ingredient plays an important role in making the salad whole. I love how salty, bitter, creamy and acidic all complement and work with each other to create a pleasing balance.


Weekend Eats & Sips

bar at lucques

This past weekend was full of pleasant bites and sips. It was nice to splurge after such a long long time of un-splurging. I'm pretty good with keeping my spending in check but also a spurty type (you can probably tell from my kitchenware purchases). But once in a while it's ok to to actually go out and eat something delicious. Or even many things.


Aftering catering in the early afternoon and kickin back for a few hours, I headed over to AOC for a late dinner to meet a friend who was back in town. A friend who was also 40 minutes late! But I fared pretty well for those 40 minutes, nibbling on the complementary baguette, harissa and cured olives, and staring at the 50 bottles or so of wine in front of me.

I started with a glass of Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre, produced by Christian Thirot-Fournier. I didn't get a look at the bottle but I did drink it with immense satisfaction. Sancerre is an AOC designated white wine from the Loire Valley and named after the town Sancerre. It is produced in 15 villages and typically made with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes [answers.com]. I'm not really wine-adept so I'll go with an easy scale: Swoon, Good, Bad & Ugly. This was Good.

{still waiting for friend}

At my rate of drinking and waiting I could have gotten drunk by the time she got to the restaurant. So I moved on to a red, Domaine La Bouissiere Gigondas (Rhone) to go with my order of Chicken Liver Crostini. The chicken liver is processed to a spreadable texture then topped with crispy pancetta and frisee. This was really delicious and perfect with the red. Good to both!

{waiting... finally she made it!}

Then we ordered Panko-d Favas with Bottarga Aioli, Steamed Fingerlings with Creme Fraiche, and Squash Blossoms. The favas were perfect for nibbling although I couldn't really taste the bottarga and didn't know what it was supposed to taste like either. Bottarga, an Italian delicacy, is basically dried salted fish roe, usually tuna. Maybe Surfas carries this.

You can't go wrong with steamed fingerling potatoes. Especially with creme fraiche and chives all over it. Yum, I've made this dish at home and it is serious good eating. So the squash blossoms were my first! These blossoms are really beautiful and even when they are deep-fried. The golden, crunchy light batter still shows the flattering silhouette of the flowers.

A slice of aged goat cheese entertained our buds before delving into dessert. We shared a Bittersweet Chocolate Tart while I sipped on my last drink of the night, a sparkling wine from the Loire valley. This tinted bubbly was a bit too sweet for my taste. I shoulda asked, durr.

It was a pleasant night of light grazing and sipping but I'm sad I missed out on some of the Winter dishes however. See that's what happens when I keep putting off restaurant dining. The menu changes! Poo.


a bubbly to tease palate... prosecco

A small group converged for my friend E's birthday to be celebrated at Silverlake Wine Co's Sunday wine tasting. The tasting focused on wines of the Piedmont region in Italy.

1. Fantinel Prosecco NV
2. Renzo Castella Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba 2004
Chicken Liver Crostini w/English Pea Puree
3. M. Marengo "Valmaggiore" Nebbiolo D'Alba 2003
Lentil Cake with Cured Boar & Red Wine Aioli
4. Silvio Giamello "Vicenziana" Barbaresco 2001
Black Rice w/Roasted Flank
5. Braida Moscato d'Asti 2005
Strawberry Mousse

moscato w/many letters on its sleeve

I really enjoyed the Prosecco, which isn't a Piedmont wine but just a starter for the night, in addition to the reds. The accompanying bites were good and the chef (didn't get his name) worked well in that little tiny space behind the bar. But the chicken liver crostini of course was up for comparison since I had AOC's the night before. AOC won. I enjoyed the black rice and the cured boar.

Boy and I separated from the group after the tasting for a previously scheduled Sunday Supper at Lucques. We got there a bit early and so started on a bottle of Joseph Swan Pinot Noir. A definite Swoon with delicious aroma, flavor and color. I didn't realize the bottle was totally turned the wrong direction when taking the picture though! Oops.


The menu for 2006.05.21 read as such:
*james birch's wild asparagus with jamón serrano, cornbread and whole grain mustard
*sautéed petrale sole with first-of-the-season corn, fava beans, squash blossoms and crushed morel butter
*grilled niman ranch culotte steak with potato salad, grilled spring onions and rouquefort
*warm banana cakes with caramel sauce and buttermilk ice cream

The starter was great! Crusty on the corners cornbread, salty strips of serrano ham, delicious spring asparagus, and whole grain mustard mixed with tangy creme fraiche. So frickin good. I got the sole which was also good but not better than the culotte steak which Boy got. I resisted getting the beef dish since I had been loading up on the meats and fats lately. But the abundance of vegetables in the sole dish pleased me much though.

I left Lucques very full and imbibed from the whole day and fell straight asleep as soon as I hit the couch. I probably won't drink so much wine next time because I felt a headache coming on. A generous half bottle and under please. But I was good and drank lots and lots of water before going to sleep. All in all, a nice weekend.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes


It was two of my friend's birthdays this past Tuesday so I decided to make them some cupcakes. This peanut butter one topped with chocolate icing and chopped peanuts sounded delicious. The one above looks like it needs a good spoonful more of the chocolate icing.

The cupcake pan liners I bought from Surfas are kinda weird though. They don't fit in perfectly into the pan and the accordian-like walls squish in although the bottom circle fits perfectly. So some of the cupcakes came out funny shaped and some of them more regular. But still delicious!

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Gourmet Magazine

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup chopped peanuts
Special equipment: a muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups and paper liners

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, then mix until just combined.
Divide batter among lined muffin cups (about two-thirds full) and bake in middle of oven until pale golden and a tester inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Turn cupcakes out onto a rack and cool completely.

To make the Icing while cupcakes cool: Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate in a small bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth.
To thicken icing to spreading consistency quickly, spread it on a metal baking sheet and chill until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Scrape icing back into bowl and stir until smooth. Spread icing on cupcakes and sprinkle with peanuts.

Cooks' notes:
• If you aren't pressed for time, chill icing in bowl, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 20 to 30 minutes before spreading on cupcakes.
• Iced cupcakes keep, chilled in an airtight container, 3 days.


Zucchini Couscous w/Chicken, Preserved Meyer Lemon & Harissa


After making some small bites for a small cocktail hour preceding a late-nite excursion, I had some leftover harissa. Harissa is a North African/Tunisian condiment made with peppers and tomato. I made Suzanne Goin's California Harissa which uses ancho chilis. Add cayenne, cumin, garlic, paprika, and you got a spicy condiment to top many things.

Harissa is often served with couscous as I recently found out. [insert simple thought processes] So that's what I made!

I seasoned some chicken thighs pieces and then cooked them in a bit of olive oil until browned and then moved them to a plate. I sliced up a few zucchinis into rounds, some onion, garlic, green onion, and preserved meyer lemon. In the same pan used to cook the chicken, I sauteed the onion and garlic for a few minutes then added the zucchini. Season. Once the zucchinis looked cooked through I added some chicken stock, scraped up some of the dripping stuck to the pan, and turned up the heat until it was hot. Took the pan off the heat, added the couscous and scallion, covered the pan and let it steam.

Then fluffed up the couscous with a fork, topped it with chicken thigh pieces, minced preserved lemon, and a dollop of the harissa. It was yummy although I could have used less preserved lemon. Those things are kinda strong.


Writing Pad Erotic - Watermelon Gazpacho with Prosciutto Chip; Zucchini Tartine w/Mint, Ricotta & Pecorino; Mini Cocoa Cake w/Mascarpone & Raspberry


Food duties of Writing Pad's Erotic Free Writing part deux were assigned to moi. I set the menu a while back keeping in mind spring, and more spring. So something refreshing and full of flavor. Something pretty and visually pleasurable to get the erotic mental juices flowing.

I thought watermelon gazpacho would be perfect, adorned with a crispy salty prosciutto chip for nibbling. Watermelon, at least the ones I've tasted at Marina Farms, are so ripe and sweet right now. I blended the watermelon down but the rest of the ingredients I left in a bit of texture. Plus blending everything down would make the color of the gazpacho murky. I topped the gazpacho off with roasted corn kernels.


This tartine is inspired from Jamie Oliver's zucchini salad with mint, chili and lemon. I sliced the zucchinis thinly with a mandolin then charred them on a grill pan. Unfortunately my grill pan is a small one with a handle, cast iron but enamel coated, so basically this took a long time, made me sweat, and also the pan is now uncleanable. But since I have an electric stove top I can't get a regular cast-iron grill pan that sits over two burners. Arg~!

Anyhow, I cooled the zucchini slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper without overlapping any to avoid steaming. Then marinated them with a lemon vinaigrette with shallots, mint, and black pepper. On a toasted piece of baguette I smeared some ricotta flavored with thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Artfully aranged two to three of the charred marinated zucchini and popped it in the oven for a few minutes just to warm things up together slightly. Then topped with a nice tangy slice of pecorino, it was ready for consumption.


Back when I was discussing the menu with Marilyn, I had a idea that maybe I could make a boob dessert to go with the whole theme and all. There were many emails exchanged just on this subject about whether the frosting should match with the "nipple", what to use, if it was the appropriate size, shape (i.e. TJ's yogurt covered blueberries). I even tried to use some tapioca balls but those didn't work out too well.

I didn't want to make something so obviously like a boob. That would be too silly. At some point I was starting to regret that I even had the idea at all. But I'm happy with the end result. A cute little mini chocolate cake with a rich mascarpone frosting and a plump juicy raspberry to top it. A beautiful little dessert... and a boob if you want it to be. :)


A catered menu for www.writingpad.com


Eating LA Eats immaeatchu

Over the weekend I catered Writing Pad's Erotic Writing Class and Pat from Eating LA attended! Wow she is fast with the blogging. Read her review here and get a preview to what I made. I'll be blogging it. Soon.

Goat Cheese Tart with Pinenuts; Apple, Mango & Arugula with Pomegranate Dressing


Way back I made a scrumptious goat cheese tart for a casual afternoon bite with a friend. This time I wanted to change it up a little bit and used pinenuts as part of the recipe. I used Giada de Laurentiis's recipe for a pinenut crust which was super easy since it required no rolling of dough. Just process and press into pan.

Ooh, once I blind baked the shell the kitchen filled with the warm nutty aroma. Yum. The filling (Barefoot Contessa) used garlic-herb goat cheese, basil and cream. To finish I sprinkled toasted pinenuts on top ten minutes prior to its exit from the oven.


For the salad I sliced up some apple and into batons and carefully arranged it with arugula leaves. Then drizzled some pomegranate dressing made with pomegranate mollasses, lemon juice, shallots and olive oil.

Marilyn's dessert: Berry Fool

A catered menu for www.writingpad.com


Strawberries, Strawberries... Strawberry Clafoutis


Pretty strawberry clafoutis a la Chez Panisse Cafe. I like it all golden brown, puffy, and prettily patterned.


Pretty clafoutis on a prettily patterned plate. I'm almost done using all my plates at least once! [I made a promise a lil bit back that I wouldn't buy any new plates until I used the ones I had already at least once].


Dependable Barefoot Contessa: Turkey Meatloaf & "Outrageous Brownies"


Birthday gifts are often a challenging question. Some people have everything, some people don't want anything, and some people are just too busy to enjoy things given to them. And of course, you can always be completely off and buy a gift that will be trapped deep inside a dark closet only to see daylight for a Goodwill donation.

But everyone eats. No one dislikes having something delicious to eat, especially when it's cooked by someone else. Whether inviting someone over for a meal made specially for their special date, or baking a beautiful batch of goodies to be packed up in quaint little ribbon draped parcels, it's good to know that the gift is being enjoyed and will be enjoyed for days to come.

It is more time consuming and messy but definitely worth it, I think for the giftee and the gifter both.

It was recently my brother's birthday. He is finishing up grad school and quite busy as his thesis is due this fall amongst other scholarly obligations. At first I spotted a cool artsy book that I wanted to get him but does he really need another book right now? Well, it was a picture book but still. Plus I think the Marcella Hazan cookbook I gave him some time ago is collecting dust at his place.

So I went for something more practical and convenient for his schedule and made him a batch of food. I made Barefoot Contessa's Turkey Meatloaf but baked it in little individual balls. Each one was wrapped separately in foil, and half were frozen. The frozen ones should last a few months which is great when you get busy because you can just pop one out of the freezer, defrost it overnight, and heat it up. Perfect for on the go. He only took half the batch which means I have on the go meals too. Yay! I had the turkey meatloaf slathered with HP sauce and Louisiana hot sauce with rice and it made an awesome lunch.


My brother also really likes brownies. I discovered this not only when he requested brownies for his South Pole departure party, but when he dropped off bags of food from his pantry before he left for the Pole, which included a box of brownie mix. So with another Barefoot Contessa recipe, I baked a batch of "Outrageous Brownies". Oh my god, this was so delicious. I cut back on the sugar by more than half and I liked the not-too-sweet results. Nicely dense but also pleasantly cakey, it was perfectly chocolately without giving a sugar attack.

I haven't spoken to my brother since his birthday but I'll assume he enjoyed the food. 'Cause I certainly did! :D


Okonomiyaki Flipping at Gaja


Oh no, not me. I don't have any okonomiyaki skills. But I loved watching M, one of the more okonomiyaki-experienced one amongst us, flip them expertly. After strategically sliding in a spatula on the upper and lower halves of this savory pancake, one must gracefully and speedily flip the whole pancake with a short but determined flick of the wrist.


But before any of that excitement, do start off with a cold cold glass of beer. It may even help you become a suave flipper. As for me, I avoided any flipping accidents and allowed the cold beer to just wet my appetite. Afterall, we were waiting outside for 30 minutes or so.

Okonomiyaki, which means "grilled the way you like", is a batter cake with savory ingredients and grilled like a pancake. There are two style in Japan, the Osaka and the Hiroshima. Gaja states that their okonomiyakis are similar to the Osaka style (ingredients grilled together instead of separately like Hiroshima style) but with different ingredients.


We had a plate of the yaki-udon to start off with while waiting for a bowl of okonomi-yaki goodies to be delivered. Ohhh, this was so good. I especially like the generous spoonful of the roe at the top. I never even knew udon was eaten stir-fried. Gotta make this one at home sometime.

The following series of pictures are for the modern mix okonomi-yaki, one of the popular dishes at Gaja:

*cook the meat and the noodles separately in a little bit of oil.

*whoa, a few steps skipped here. i think i was getting busy with the beer. mix well the batter with vegetable. once batter is placed on griddled in a pretty circle, top it with the cooked meat and noodles.

*now flip! then slather it with okonomiyaki sauce.

*then decorate with fish flakes, mayo and nori. eat!

But my favorite was the kimchi pork combination. Tangy spicy kimchi with pork is always a winning combination. However I wish the kimchi and pork were cut into smaller pieces so big pieces of it didn't fall away from the wedge as I ate through it. However, the flavor was perfect.


And even after all that, we got a dessert to share...


Gluttony isn't a crime as long as the food is awesome!

2383 Lomita Blvd. #102


Tuna Confit and Roasted Asparagus with Aioli, Pinenuts & Preserved Meyer Lemons


I love love love my Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook. It's a beautiful book to start off with, and filled with so many great recipes. Simple, appreciative of seasonal produce and well-produced livestock, like Sunday Suppers at Lucques, it is very inspiring to me.


While flipping through its pages, I saw "Tuna Confit" and was immediately attracted to it. The tuna confit is a 2 day process but not a hard one. The first day required salting and marinating the fish in olive oil with chili, garlic, and spices. The second day the tuna was cooked gently over low heat until almost cooked through and flakeable.

I served the tuna over roasted asparagus, topped with aioli, preserved meyer lemon, and toasted pinenuts. Looking back now I think the preserved lemon minced even finer or processed and mixed in with the aioli itself would have been nice. And more of everything (thyme, chili de arbol, peppercorns, fennel seeds) in the marinade. I didn't act fast enough in the following days and the oil went to the bin the next week without ever getting a good chance to flavor any delicious dishes. I've been moving slow these days.

Marilyn's dessert: Chocolate Mousse with Orange Infused Cream

A catered menu for www.writingpad.com


Penne with Cambozola & Pecorino; Cress with Apple & Radish; Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta

Recently my friend C emailed me regarding my long absence from blogging and suggested that perhaps I should cook for her so I can blog. So I did. :)


I made penne with cambozola and pecorino. So good! I took it easy and didn't make any white sauce or nothin. Just saute some shallots with thyme in butter and olive oil and deglaze with a little bit of white wine. Add milk to that once most of the liquid has evaporated. Then added chunks of cambozola and a wedge of pecorino grated up. Reduced this a little bit until it thickens a little bit and gets all oozy creamy dreamy. Taste and season. I added some black pepper and red pepper flakes and if I had some Trader Joe's Pasta Mix spice seasoning I would have added a good shake of that too. Then add cooked penne and stir til everything get pretty together. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

This was truly delicious. I love cheeese. Did you know that already?


On the side I served a watercress, apple and radish salad with a basic dressing of dijon, red wine vinegar and olive oil. I like refreshing and I also like crunchy.


For dessert... cool, creamy, tangy creme fraiche panna cotta a la Chef Suzanne Goin. This is so easy to make and so delicious. Just a matter of heating up the dairy and getting the gelatin to set it in the fridge. Simple as that. Just throw a few berries on top and you can become a dessert diva in a snap. *snap!*


And if the snapping doesn't work, I say drink. For instance, something like the late-afternoon-izze-wine concoction. :)