Fresh Pasta with Basil & Tomato


Beautiful tomatoes from the farmer's market, torn basil, minced garlic over warm pasta. Simple, rustic, delicious. My favorite sort of meal.


My Pantry

I've been meaning to take an inventory of my whole pantry but kept putting it off thinking it would take forever. But finally did it yesterday due to the fact that my cable was broken temporarily and I was bored consequentially. But it didn't take long at all and I feel like a weights been lifted off my shoulders due to the organization and cleaning out of my pantry. Here is what I gots. And what I better use now that I am aware of their existence!

rolled oats
bulgar wheat
brown jasmine rice
brown basmati rice
garbanzo flour
spanish rice
nokdoo (mungbeans)
all purpose flour
large penne
egg noodle
soba noodle
spanish white beans

grapeseed oil
roasted almond oil
organic raspberry honey
orange blossom honey
wildflower honey
italian olive oil
spanish olive oil
canola oil
soy sauce
apple cider vinegar
white distilled vinegar
fish sauce
red vine vinegar
sherry vinegar
canola oil spray
walnut oil
ginger dressing
pomegranate mollasses
white wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar
rice vinegar
sesame oil
sesame soy oil
bacon bouillon
chicken bouillon

mission figs
california apricots
raw pistachio
sliced almonds
raw almonds
roasted peanuts
poppy seed
rosemary crackers
walnuts (f)
pinenuts (f)
raw blanched almonds (f)

steak seasoning
fennel seeds 2 (duplicity is a good reason to keep track of your pantry. 1 bottle will probably go stale. boo.)
seaweed powder
star anise
curry powder
ground ginger
oregano 2
vanilla extract
chili powder
juniper berries
coriander seeds
herbs de provence
spicy paprika
cream of tartar
baking powder
bay leaves
whole red chilies
pasta seasoning
cinnamon sticks
crushed red pepper
bittersweet paprika
cumin/coriander mix
bonito furikake
pulao rice spice mix 2
indian grilled vege spice mix 2
nasi goreng spice mix
madras curry paste

tj pav bhaji
baked beans
beef chili
tuna in water
canned chicken (my mom bought this!)
coconut milk
enchilada sauce
tonic water
tomato paste
soba noodle soup
portugese soup
roasted seaweed for rolls
dried wild mushroom
grape leaves
tj ketchup (the best ketchup ever)
spicy bbq sauce
hot chili peppers
san marzano tomatoes
spring roll wrappers

fresh bread crumbs
turkey meatloaf
puff pastry shells
puff pastry sheets
fish sticks
chicken sausage
buffalo popcorn shrimp
pork belly
samgyupsal (thinly sliced pork belly)
chadolbaeggi (sliced deckle)
vege lasagne
brown vege curry
kimchi gook

duck fat
parmesan rinds
rosemary pecorino
grana padano
smoked provolone
grated gruyere
carmelized onion
roasted garlic

I haven't gone food shopping in a while so that's why the only things left in my fridge is cheese!


Summer Pudding


Less than perfect according to what I saw on Barefoot Contessa, but I'm sure no less delicious. With blueberries, raspberries and strawberries that are cooked down in a bit of sugar and water, and buttery brioche to soak it all up into a little pretty cake, the only thing that can make this summer pudding better is freshly whipped cream. And mimosas. :)

Summer Pudding (Barefoot Contessa)

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 half-pints fresh raspberries, divided
2 half-pints fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons framboise (raspberry brandy)
1 loaf brioche or egg bread (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)

Combine the strawberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup of water in a large saucepan and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the raspberries and all the blueberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a simmer, and simmer for a minute. Off the heat, stir in the remaining raspberries and the framboise.

Slice the bread in 1/2-inch-thick slices and remove the crusts. In the bottom of a 7 1/2-inch round by 3-inch high souffle or baking dish, ladle about 1/2 cup of the cooked berry mixture. Arrange slices of bread in a pattern (this will become the top when it's unmolded) and then add more berry mixture to saturate. Continue adding bread, cutting it to fit the mold, and berries. Finish with bread and cooked berries, using all of the fruit and syrup.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap loosely over the pudding. Find a plate approximately the same diameter as the inside of the mold and place it on top. Weight the mold with a heavy can and refrigerate. Remove the weight after 6 to 8 hours. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, run a knife around the outside of the pudding and unmold it upside down onto a serving plate. Serve in wedges with rum whipped cream.


Rosemary Parmesan Polenta Bites


Can you guess where the above polenta "stars" came from? Well its an easy peasy question considering the little polenta circles that left behind the spread of stars is featured on the prior post.

Try to use up scraps whenever you make food. You never know, it might just be super delicious. I broiled off the little polenta stars and here is what came out:


The star edges are essential to this being delicious because they brown and crisp up so nicely. Crispy and cheesy with a teeny bit of heat from red pepper flakes. I think it would make a perfect anju (side dishes that accompany alcohol) to a nice chilled glass of beer. So next time you make polenta cakes, save the leftover bits and transform into something delicious like these polenta poppers!


Opening Party + Summer + Hor d'oeuvres

My blog stamina has been lacking these days. I seriously don't know what I do at work. Every morning I used to go down my blog bookmarks (back then there was about 30). Each and every single one I would peek into as soon as I got to work while eating breakfast of some sort. Now days, I neither blog like a loony nor blog surf with speed and agility as I used to. But I don't work either. So what the hell am I doing?!

Hmm, not blogging on time is one of em. Recently I catered my biggest production to date. It was a hair salon opening party and the gig fell into my lap via a few friends who recruited me for help. But somehow I took charge and became the ringleader of this challenge.

Although I was nervous at first at the number of people, once I ran a few logistics through my head, I knew we would have it under control. The client was expecting around 70 people and wanted hor d'oeuvres. I churned my head and thought of these to serve...

Gruyere Gougere


Let's just call these Gruyere Cheese Puffs. Trust me, people will keep saying "what?!" if you say gougere. Basically it's a pate a choux dough piped out into little balls, sprinkled with grated gruyere and baked off til puffed like this:
So much nicer straight out of the oven and before the toll of the unusual LA humidity we were having for a few weeks. However it was delicious and a few guests were hooked on it. Served up in little berry baskets that I saved and accented with complementarily hued flowers, the cheese puffs looked so pretty and unique.

Caponata Canape with Pecorino


Caponata crostinis were wildly successful for one of my Writing Pad menus so I thought why not. Except this time I bought little cocktail cups at Surfas. There is no way I'm baking 120 gougeres and toasting 120 crostinis. In one electric oven. No frickin way. Anyways, these little cups did not disappoint and even one guest mentioned that this was her favorite. Yay!

Caponata, by the way, is a Sicilian dish made up of eggplant, tomato, raisan, capers and red pepper. Of course I had to add cheese to it. I swear I was going to serve it og style but it was missing something. Teeny small diced tangy Pecorino Romano can't hurt right? In fact, it did not hurt and it was even better. Love that pecorino.

Rosemary Polenta with Currant-Pinenut Relish
Polenta is my ever resourceful dish in the kitchen. I made this one in the style of Barefoot Contessa but I think I added more Parmigiano Reggiano. This polenta was wreaking parmesan. That's not a complaint by the way.

I believe the currant pinenut pairing is Italian. I've seen that combo in a few recipes. It's a dynamic combination and this relish is one that will make a veal scallopine special, or maybe a cheese stuffed chicken thigh, or in this case a little polenta cake infused with piney floral rosemary, butter, red pepper flakes, and parmesan.

What a looker too. I really liked the varieties of colors that each dish brought to the table. Cute little edible round stuff in all sorts of colors but organized prettily to bring a smile to my face, the guests face, and most importantly the client's face.


And oh yes, dessert. Dessert isn't my thing but it is everyone else's according to personal experience. My accomplices took charge of baking and with a little help from an unnamed source of immense help, these were easily made and easily consumed. I iced them with Santo's Mascarpone Icing although I failed to make the beautiful spikes. Instead I made little flowers which actually looked cute. Just not as cool as the spikes. I thought hair salon? Spikes? Would have gone funkily cool together but oh wells. I should stay away from desserts. How can I make something good that I don't even like to have that often?

The most people I've catered for so far is about 12. Then jumped to 70! More like 60 but who's counting. It was a success, I was tired, and I was ready to drink at the end.


Where Would I Be

Where would I be if deprived from Asian packaged foods? I would certaintly be at hungry. Today's breakfast - instant miso, Japanese microwave rice, Korean seafood flavor rice seasoning. Simple comfort, all in cute small packages.


Flatbread Pizza; Pig Candy; Roasted Almonds with Fleur de Sel


Flatbread pizzas are so easy to make and so delicious, like any pizza with a good base and good topping. I made two varieties which both started off with a base of ricotta and carmelized onion. Then they split off - one was crowned with roasted red pepper, anchovy and goat cheese.


While the other one got sauteed creminis with pancetta and pecorino. If I had a one of those wooden pizza spatulas I could have put them on the oven rack directly and the base would have been crisp throughout. I'll add that to my "To Buy" list, although the pizza stone I currently have has used been only once. I swear I'm going to get around to making a real pizza dough again sometime. Hmm, sometime soon?


I also made some delicious and wholly addicting pig candy. I was alerted to its existence not too long ago when LOU came up in LA Weekly. I made mine with Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Cured Bacon. Sprinkle of brown sugar and cayenne then it went into the oven to bake and make my house smell like the most delicious edible thing ever. It was hard not to open the oven door just to inhale the aroma. I love bacon!!!

I baked the smoky bacon twice to adjust for the flavoring and made sure it had a nice heat to it, mellowed by the brown sugar, and just the right amount of crisp. I also roasted some almonds tossed in olive oil, then tossed the toasty nuts with fleur de sel. Let's just say my kitchen was smellin pretty good after all the pizza, bacon, and almond business.

A catered menu for www.writingpad.com


Ricotta Pea Crostini with Pecorino; Greek Salad


Over the last six months I've made some crazy number of crostinis. And here is another one - Ricotta Pea Crostini with Pecorino. I got idea from Seven Spoons but I made mine a bit different. I cooked down some small diced shallots with itty bitty bit of thyme, then added the peas and warmed it up. I was planning to just smash it up with a fork and mix in the ricotta but the smashing wasn't goin so successfully. I threw everything into the food processor with a squeeze of half a lemon and then came out the pretty green puree. Oh yea, I added a small mint leaf and someone actually detected it! Impressive only because I remember how small the mint leaf was and how subtle it tasted in the puree.

Oh yes, back to the crostini. Shave some pecorino with a vegetable peeler and top the crostini. That's it. I don't think it can get simpler than that.


Then a pretty little Greek Salad. I know, you're thinking greek salad?! But look how pretty it looks? It's not the big bowl of tomato, onion, romaine, crumbled feta family style greek salad you recall. Not that there is anything wrong with that and I love me a big bowl of salad. But this is for guests so it needs to be a tad bit more presentable.

So this above salad shows off pretty pear-shaped tomatoes from Trader Joe's sliced in half, a block of feta cut into chunks instead of using the messy looking pre-crumbled stuff, peppery frisee, nice juicy olives, and very very thinly sliced, cold water-bathed onion slices.

I just love the combination of juicy tomatoes, crunchy fresh veges, salty briny olives, and tangy feta all together. Delicious!

A catered menu for www.writingpad.com

Endive with Spiced Chickpea Puree & Salsa Verde; Manchego, Quince Paste, Rosemary Crackers & Spanish Soria Sausages


Endives, although on the pricey side used as an appetizer or hor d'oeuvre base, seem to add an elegant aesthetic touch to the presentation. With its pale, perfectly boat-shaped leaves with just a tiny tinge of yellow-green to the feathery thin edges, it cannot help but look cute lined up on a plate. This time carrying a dollop of warm spiced chickpea puree brightened by a spoonful of herby salsa verde.

The chickpea puree is quite easy to make. I sweated some onion and garlic with thyme for a few minutes then added drained chickpeas to the pan. Then add your choice of spices. Mine were paprika and cayenne. Then add a bit of chicken stock. A few minutes of whirl in the processor and you got chickpea puree. Taste and adjust liquid, salt, pepper, and olive oil to your taste.

Although I did buy the hugest Thai mortar and pestle that's been sitting on my counter, I decided to chop up the herbs for the salsa verde. So parsley, mint, garlic, anchovy, capers, lemon juice, and olive oil all mixed up together for a vibrant sauce.

I also served a cheese plate of Manchego, quince paste and The Fine Cheese Co's rosemary crackers. I haven't had Manchego in a while but that first bite reminded me of its delicious flavor. Semi-soft, a slight tang and nuttiness. It's quite easy to keep popping in your mouth. Maybe too easy.

A plate of Soria sausage accompanied the cheese plate.
Soria or Spanish Girl sausage: This variety originated in Old Castille around Soria and LogroƱo. Although actually a sausage, it resembles a gently seasoned, lean pork loin with a concentrated meaty taste. The meat is diced by hand, seasoned, and cured overnight to reduce its moisture. The mixture is then tightly packed into natural, Portuguese net-like casings and air-dried for three months. Simply eat it sliced and in sandwiches. [www.laespanolameats]

Cured sausage, what would I do without cured sausage? I would wither away.

A catered menu for www.writingpad.com