Saturday Lunch at Lucques

I had a craving for Lucques's Steak Frites with Arugula Salad, Bernaise & Herbed French Fries, which I tried way back in the day (ok 1 year ago) for USA Dine Out. I didn't participate in the charity event this year but looking back now I should have gone to Lucques again 'cause their three course lunch menu was only $20!


But back to the lunch at hand, it was a beautiful day. Warm, relaxed, hanging out with the girls. I started out with a glass of Craftsman Triple White Sage which Lucques had on tap along with a few of their other beers. Pretty impressive. I never suspected the White Sage to be a triple. A beautiful foggy yellow hue with a subtle sage flavor. Followed by a few mimosas, I was a happy camper.


My friend got their Sangria Blanca which was strong as hell. I think there was too much brandy or something. I like my sangria refreshing and fruity with only a hint of liquor, or even none at all, which results in high drinkability. But I think my friend liked it fine though - she drank up in a quicky.


For the appetizer course I ordered the Fatoosh Salad with Persian Cucumber, Tomato, Feta, Parsley & Fried Pita which was delicious!


But a lot of people were partial to the also delicious Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata, Torn Crouton & Opal Basil. I liked both a lot but since I make that heirloom tomato-burrata salad at home a lot I wanted to try something else. I mean I probably buy the same farm tomatoes as Lucques from the SM Farmer's Market. And I bet they also use Gioia's burrata, which is amazing (and available at Bay Cities.


So then it was steak time. I'm not sure what cut of meat this was. I looked up a bunch of steak frites recipes but they all use different cuts of meat. I guess I could have asked but I was too busy enjoying the tender steak dunked in warm bernaise sauce. And completely distracted by the lovely wilted arugula which I gobbled up and the thin light french fries which I also dunked into the bernaise. There is just something so satisfying about a good piece of steak with a starch like awesome herb fries.


Other main courses that graced our table included the Heirloom Tomato "BLT" with Avocado, Smoked Bacon & Basil...


and Grilled Pork Burgers with Romesco, Ricotta Salata and Aioli on Brioche Bun. I don't know why they clarified "Smoked Bacon". Wouldn't one usually expect an American style bacon on a blt? Of course if the bacon was substituted with let's say English bacon (which would not be a good blt at all) then a clarifications seems in order.

I better go back for the blt before all the heirlooms disappear. The sandwich just looks so juicy. My friend also testified that the bacon just melted away in her mouth. Then why didn't you give me a bite! Actually I was quite full from my steak plate. And I knew the pork burger was also delicious having tried out the recipe from the Lucques cookbook. But why is the bun so big?? I wonder where they got their brioche buns...

For dessert we shared Ricotta Semifreddo with Strawberries, Huckleberries & Hibiscus Syrup and Chocolate and Hazelnut Dacquoise with Apricot Sorbet & Creme Fraiche. I was partial to the semifreddo which was light and lovely and sooo good with them berries. Berries with dairy is definitely one of my favorite forms of dessert. I dig the freshness of it all.

So much delicious food and booze for a warm Saturday afternoon. I followed this up with a long, very long nap. Then when I woke up my parent's had come home and ordered delicious Korean-Chinese food. What a delicious weekend. Food & Drink + Nap is a great formula to learn and appreciate.


When Your Fridge Gives You Leftovers...


...make a savory pancake.

I had some chicken filling leftover from a catering event. Previously it had been a flavorful filling for Thai chicken cigars with ground chicken, cabbage, bean sprouts, Thai basil, fresh chilies, scallion, fish sauce, red curry paste, lime, and cilantro.

Then it sat in a bowl begging to be used. I turned it into a jun (Korean for savory pancake) by adding more scallions and tossing it in a simple batter of flour, water and egg. Add sambal and you got delicious.


Mediterranean Picnic


For my last visit to the Hollywood Bowl this season to see Massive Attack I was in company with two vegequarians and Boy. I thought a simple meal of healthy Mediterranean flavors would suit this event perfectly. I'm pretty sure there were picnic-friendly plates of hummus all over the theater. It's quite ubiquitous, isn't it?

It is quite delicious after all, easy to make, easy on the wallet, and very healthy too. So do make it at home instead of buying a premade one for wonderfully fresh flavors. In my hummus I added garlic, lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne, and a spoon of tahini. I drizzled in some olive oil while it was pureeing but also cut it with a bit of water for a smooth consistency without tons of oil. Then on top I drizzled a bit of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled a pinch of parsley and served this delicious bean puree with whole wheat pita. (The one in the above pic is Matiz Olive Oil Flatbread).


Then a refreshing Mediterranean salad to complement. It flaunted its juicy tomatoes, tangy feta, red onion, and spicy peppers. I found this salad quite addicting and reminded myself I should make it more often in place of the boring romaine and dressing salad I've been eating lately. I think I'm culinarily depressed or something. Or maybe just regularly depressed and projecting onto the culinary sector of my life. Hmm.. either way, I definitely need to make the Mediterranean salad again and slap myself back to consciousness.

All in all, I'm not a dessert person. I will never refuse a fresh strawberry with freshly whipped cream, or a bite of raspberry-showered pavlova, or a French macaron but a pastry-chef I'm not. I really gotta be in the mood to make the sweets. And on few occasions spontaneity has been my downfall. So when my friend C was in town for the Massive Attack concert she requested a dessert. I straight up said no. Then, 'bacon or dessert'. I almost forgot, I made a batch of pig candy for this concert. Those are like happy smile makers ---> :D :D :D!

C is vegequarian but makes an exception for bacon. Smart girl if ya ask me.


But then my dessert-neglecting heart softened up. It seemed like forever since I've seen C. So I made these chocolate dipped lady fingers with roasted pistachio and fleur de sel in her honor. Yip that's it, just dip, sprinkle and sprinkle. Well besides the chop chop and [silent roast] for the pistachios.


Ice Cream & Puff Pastry Epiphane

I've just had an ice cream & puff pastry epiphane!

Holy crap. I got some blueberry ice cream from Trader Joe's the other day. Had some puff pastry shells sitting in my freezer. Decided that maybe stuffing a warm puff pastry shell with the creamy blueberry ice cream might be a good idea.

It was a brilliant idea! Well, I didn't eat a whole shell but I did make a mini ice cream sandwich with the warm puff pastry shell tops that I cut out. (Trying to watch my waistline). However, I stuffed and distributed the six blueberry ice cream stuffed warm puff pastry shells to my co-workers and they were mightily well received.

Do try it. You might even yell oh my god like in your small work corner kitchen like I did.


Soba Noodle with Cucumber & Tamari


While testing recipes for the wedding I made this delicious noodle. I adapted and combined a soba noodle salad recipe with some Japanese cucumber salad. The noodle was so easy to make and surprisingly delicious. I couldn't help but keep slurping down "test noodles" while making it. The dressing added so much flavor and the cilantro and scallion added the right herby oniony touch to balance it out. For the dressing I used tamari, fish sauce, chili oil, garlic, ginger, lime juice, peanut oil, and sesame seeds.

Then on the side I made the Japanese cucumber salad (sunomono). I cut some Korean cucumbers into thin batons, tossed it with kosher salt then let it drain for 30 minutes. Meanwhile I made the simple dressing of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar. When the cucumbers were ready I gently squeezed out the water and dressed it.

Then the noodle and cucumbers were combined and voila, delicious noodle!

Chicken Enchiladas with Corn & Poblano


Having failed last time at making enchiladas, it being my actual first time, I was ready to try once again. It's not that the failed enchiladas tasted awful. In fact, they were delicious. But they were not exactly enchiladas - soft little pillows filled with oozy veges, chicken, and whatever pleases you. Mine were more like a rolled up baked tacos. Not beautifully moist and not a amalgamated by way of cheese piece of savoriness as enchiladas should be. I know what I did wrong though. I didn't dip my tortilla into the enchilada sauce before rolling em up. Ok ok, so I was being lazy. I thought I would skip a step. But I got screwed.

So this time around I promised not to skip that step and even vowed to make a more moist filling. After looking up a bunch of recipes, all of which pretty much said the same thing, I decided to make Chicken Enchiladas using Tyler Florence's recipe as the basis:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 whole green chilies, canned
4 chipotle chilies, canned
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 cup Cheddar and Jack Cheeses, shredded
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
Garnish: chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

I seasoned the chicken breasts with a mixture of cumin, chili powder, cayenne, s&p, and cooked it in a pan then let them cool. Sauteed the onion, garlic, poblano in the chicken drippings then added the corn, chopped canned jalapenos and stewed tomato. Shredded the chicken then added to the tomato vege mix.

That's pretty much it! I popped open the can of enchilada sauce then it was time for assembly. I dipped each tortilla (I used flour) into the heated enchilada sauce to make them pliable and moistened up, filled it the chicken mixture then laid them into a baking dish. I poured the remaining enchilada sauce all over the tortilla rolls then topped it with a shredded cheese mixture and baked it off.

Ohh, my kitchen smelled so good! I served the chicken enchiladas with spanish rice, refried beans, fresh guacamole, a sprinkling of chopped onion and cilantro leaves. My mexican food cooking skills may need cauldrons of practice but these enchiladas will keep me happy for now.


Pork Rules


One last relaxed lounge style bbq is exactly what we needed before the weather suddenly turned so chill. Too chill too quickly, imo. However, the bbq was all deliciousness with happy imbibing of beer, margaritas, and wine. Thanks to Allison for hosting the brilliant get together.

I thought it as my chance to actually grill something this season besides that Lucques pork burger I had made in the heat of the summer. One of my favorite foods ever being bbq pork ribs, I decided that would be perfect. But you can't have ribs without no sides! Dur.

The Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook is seriously glorious. I don't think I've ever made anything from there I didn't like. Which is why I would also trust it with its cornbread recipe. I did have a taste of this cornbread at Lucques before so I knew it would be perfect. The recipes calls for some honey and brown butter - delicious!

I wrapped my cornbread with bacon with plans to grill them. Instead, with the delay of the delivery of the grill from A's generous neighbor, I roasted it for a bit in the oven so that the bacon would melt over the cornbread. The bacon didn't melt as perfectly as I envisioned in my bacon-crazed mind but it was delicious, and oh so beautiful, served with a dollop of mustard-creme fraiche.

I also made a batch of no recipe coleslaw. A good dollop of mayo, sour cream, thinly sliced red onion, fresh lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne, and it was deeemed "the best coleslaw" ever by a few advocates. Creamy, crunchy, refreshing - it's what your mouth needs in between bites of bbq pork ribs.


Now for the ribs... this being my real true first rib ever, I was very proud of how it turned out. I brined two racks of pork ribs (Trader Joe's) overnight. Then dry rubbed it and let it marinated for a lil bit. Preferably couple hours but I didn't have a lot of time. Then wrapped up in foil I baked them in the oven for an hour or so. Then onto the grill they went.

I don't recall exactly how long they were on the grill but enough to get some of the fat to melt and the spices to crust up a bit on the surface. In the last ten minutes I basted it lightly with a spicy bbq sauce I got from Huntington Meats. Oh man, it was so juicy and flavorful. Of course if I had smoked it would be a more delicious and authentic. But one step at a time. :) Needless to say, it was ravaged. And my mouth is watering right now writing about it.

Pork rules.


My dessert offering was a simple arranged one with Trader Joe's lemon pound cake, mascarpone, and roasted figs with saba.