Monday, April 26, 2010

Spinach and Mushroom Crepe

Monday, Mondays, Mundane...
It seems like every Monday is the same.
Wake up.
Go to work.
Go to class.
Go to sleep in class.
Go to more work.
Seems interesting eh?

Well, for a little more excitement, I decided to make some spinach and mushroom crepes because I haven't had crepes in awhile.

Spinach Mushroom Crepe

Ingredients for the batter
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Milk
1/4 cup Half and half
3/4 cup All purpose flour
1 tsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Sugar
Pinch of salt

Mixing directions
1. Beat half and half, milk, and eggs in a bowl
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together
3. Add liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well
4. Add olive oil and mix well.
5. Let the batter sit in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Cooking Directions of non-stickiness
*Note: I use a stainless steel pan, and I have never gotten crepes stuck on it before.
Things to consider:
1. Heat the pan pretty hot
2. Add 1-2 tbs of oil
3. Use a paper towel to wipe the pan
4. Once the oil is hot, turn down the heat a little bit
5. Add a little bit of the batter and swirl around the batter
6. Heat up until the edges are slightly brown.
7. Use spatula or flick of the wrist to flip the crepe over
8. Cook for about 1 minute and flip over to plate

Ingredients for the filling
1 cup Spinach
1/2 cup Cremini mushrooms
1 tsp Garlic powder
Salt and pepper

1. Heat up 1 tsp of oil in the pan
2. Throw in mushrooms and spinach
3. Cook for 5 minutes
4. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder
5. Add filling to the crepe and fold anyway you want

Voila! It's not so hard is it?
Oh yea! If you are wondering about the sauce that I placed on top. Well, I whipped it up in less than five minutes. It is a white bean tomato sauce.

1/2 cup White kidney beans
1/2 cup White wine
1 Roma tomato
1 Garlic clove
Salt and pepper

1. Blend everything
2. Bring to a sauce pan and boil for 5 minutes until all the alcohol is gone or reduced into the sauce.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Restaurant Review: The Glendon Bar and Kitchen

The Glendon Bar & Kitchen
1071 Glendon Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024

On the quiet residential stretch of Glendon Ave, one restaurant remains open on a late Saturday night. Cocktails and tall wine glasses were being passed around, while everyone was happily chatting away. The restaurant's dim lighting and candles makes it a perfect place to bring a date to drink and eat. After 10 o'clock, the restaurant becomes a bar and lounge with its bar and cocktail menu.

Even though the interior decor creates an upscale environment, Executive Chef Nick Jacobs has prepared quite a diverse American menu that has its high and low ends in quality and price. The appetizers range from $6-$12. For starters my friends and I ordered the Cajun calamari and slider duo. These dishes left a negative first impression of the Glendon. The calamari was over-breaded and overcooked, and the spicy red pepper aioli did not have a hint of smoky spiciness. The sliders had its ups and downs with the base of the burger being soggy from the onions, but aside from that, the horseradish aioli tied the under seasoned beef patty together pretty well.
The Glendon also offers 14 inch thin crust pizzas, which I found to offset the mediocre appetizers. The first to come out was the Glendon, which consists of bacon, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and mozzarella cheese. To my surprise, this was no ordinary pizza. The pizza was extremely crispy and flaky like a puff pastry and the toppings and sauce create an interesting combination. On the other hand, the South pizza was a disappointment. It was like eating a slice of a tortilla salad, where the beans and greens offset the taste of the BBQ chicken.
(Coffee Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna)
As for the dinner entree ($12-32), I ordered the coffee crusted seared Ahi with a spinach artichoke puree, which is apparently one of the chef's specialty dishes according to the waitress. This interesting dish had the potential of being amazing , but I found the tuna to be bland with subtle coffee flavor that got overpowered by the puree, which was quite acidic.
(Delicious cobbler)
Lastly, dessert ($8) was the final item of tonight's dinner. So far, most of the dishes were only mediocre and did not leave a wow effect for its price. My friend ordered an apple currant cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. This was probably the best thing of the night. The cobbler tasted fresh out of the oven and had the perfect sweetness level. The hint of rose flavoring sets the dessert apart from ordinary apple cobblers you find at other restaurants and cafes. The pastry chef is Renee Faris seen on TLC's Cake Boss. No wonder the dessert was delicious.

Because the restaurant opened a month ago, I would have to be quite forgiving and return again in the near future to allow the wait staff and kitchen to get the hang of things. Hopefully the on my next visit, the menu has changed or the quality of the dishes have improved.

I'll give it an overall 3.0/5.0.

Some of the photos courtesy of my friend Jeannie.

Asparagus and Tofu with Miso Butter

ARG! I hate oversleeping! I missed a large section of the Festival of Books : (. I wanted to Ruth Reichl and Alice Silverstone. Oh well, I guess I have to finish my homework today in order to go to tomorrow's portion of Festival of books. Tomorrow, Alice Waters will be there ^_^.

Anyways, I was digging through the big cold box and was wondering what I should make with all my leftover vegetarian items. I decided to use up the asparagus and tofu. Now all I have left is spinach. I'll figure out what to do with that tomorrow.

Asparagus and Tofu with Miso Butter

5-6 stalks Asparagus
1/2 cup Firm tofu
1 tbs White miso
2 tbs Stock (vegetable, fish, or chicken)
2 tsp rice vinegar (no rice vinegar? you can also use juice of 1/2 a lime)
3 tbs Butter
Spoonful of Ginger (should fit on a spoon after you julienne them)

Prep work
1. Peel stalky portion of the asparagus
2. Cube the tofu into 1 cm
3. Julienne the ginger
4. Boil water

Cooking part
1. Add asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes
2. Remove the asparagus and let it sit out on a strainer to dry
3. In a pan, add oil and cook the tofu until crispy on all sides (3-5 minutes on medium heat)
4. In a saucepan, add butter and melt
5. Add the ginger and miso and cook for 1 minute
6. Add vinegar and stock
7. Reduce until sauce-like consistency
8. Put tofu, asparagus, and sauce together.

Well... today is going to be quite a long day of studying.

Fennel and Tomato Tofu Noodles

Hello everyone...
Guess what?
I'll let you keep guessing ...
No, I did not get an internship.
And no, I did not reach culinary awesomeness.
Well, completely unrelated to cooking or my eduction ... and more of my dorkiness, I have pre-ordered Starcraft II! The pre-ordered game also comes with a beta key. Ah ... the good ole days of playing Starcraft are coming back ^_^. (Though my ass is getting kicked very hard by extremely skilled players online)

Aside from that, it is Friday, and it is a day of rest. Tomorrow is the Los Angeles Festival of Books on campus, and as usual, I try to attend all the cooking demonstrations and ask annoying questions to the famous cookbook authors: "How would you cook a dog?". Just kidding xD. I am not that rude. Hopefully I can get to network with these famous people ^_^.

Onto today's topic, fennel, tomatoes, and tofu. What an odd combination. To tell you the truth, I have never used tofu and fennel in my life before. I was surprised it turned out well enough to post on my blog. Hajime! (Wait, I am not cooking Japanese food.) Let's Start!

Fennel and Tomato Tofu Noodles

1/2 lb Spaghetti noodles or any pasta of your choice
1 block Firm tofu (about enough to fill 1/2 cup)
2 Fennel bulbs
3 Roma tomatoes
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 tsp Oregano
1/ 2 lime and its zest
1/2 cup White wine
1 tbs butter
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Directionals of 1337 Micromanagement (Starcraft terms if you don't get what I am saying)
1. Julienne fennel
2. Dice tomatoes
3. Cube tofu into 1 cm cubes
4. Roughly chop fennel seeds
5. Boil water with salt for the pasta

Cooking up a zergling rush
1. Heat up olive oil and throw in fennel and tomatoes until browning occurs (3-5 minutes)
2. Throw in tofu, lime juice, and white wine and cook until white wine is 2/3 gone (3-5 minutes)
3. Throw in salt, pepper, fennel seeds, zest, oregano, and butter and stir for about 2-3 minutes
4. Turn off heat and strain pasta to place into the pan of fennel and other various items.
5. Mix around and drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top with parmesan cheese.

Well time to sleep ... Starcraft will ruin my life, so I must control myself -_-

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Artichoke and Tomato Risotto / Basics of Rissoto

I forgot to post this yesterday because I was too tired to post another item on the blog. Because I did not make anything today, I guess the risotto will fill today's spot. Instead, I went to UCLA's new cafe 1919 and WOW! Thank you Rich for swiping me some panini and gelato! The food there was quite good. I was more impressed with the variety of gelato the cafe had. I remembered that I only had 5-6 flavors of Hagen-daz ice cream when I lived in the dorms. In addition, UCLA has more drinks now. Back then, I only had Aquafina, Pepsi, and Gatorade. Now they have Orangina and Izzy sodas. I am jealous!

Anyways, I am going to reiterate the basics of making risotto in this post. Apparently, one of my friends tried making risotto the other day. He got a lump of charcoal in return.

Things to remember when cooking Risotto
1. Be patient! You have to keep watching the risotto unless you have the timing right for how long the stock will be absorbed. Stare at your risotto like your in love with it!
2. The stock needs to be hot! Simmering HOT! If it is cold, well your rice won't cook.
3. Add stock in small parts at a time so that each time it barely covers the rice.
4. Keep stirring occasionally or else you will have a fun time in the dish room.
5. Ratio of rice to stock needed is about 1 cup rice to 3-4 cups stock.
6. Make your own stock or buy good quality stock that does not have chemicals added.
7. Use butter because butter makes everything taste good xD
8. Use large diameter pan so that you have more surface area to cook and to stir

Artichoke and Tomato Risotto

1 Artichoke
1 Roma tomato
1 cup Arborio rice or similar
4 cups Stock of choice (vegetable, chicken, beef)
1/2 cup White wine
5 Cremini mushrooms
3 cloves Garlic
1 Shallot
4 tbs Butter (set aside one tbs in the refrigerator)
Salt and pepper
Romano cheese
Lemon juice
Fennel springs for garnish (I had some leftover from the bruschetta)

Prep work
1. Dissect the artichoke for its heart (you can also buy frozen artichoke hearts)
Note: I think this video does a good job of explaining how to murder an artichoke.
2. steam or grill the artichoke (30-40 minutes for steaming or 20 minute steaming and 10-15 minute for grilling)
3. Slice the artichoke into strips and set aside with a little lemon juice squeezed on them.
4. Slice the mushrooms
5. Finely dice the shallots and garlic
6. Coarsely dice the tomatoes and drain the liquid by straining them
7. Simmer stock

Cooking time!
1. Melt butter in a large pan
2. Add shallots and garlic under translucent
3. Add rice and cook until translucent
4. Add wine until the rice absorbs the wine
5. Now slowly add the stock until enough broth barely covers the rice
6. Once the rice absorbs the stock, repeat the process again until rice is al dante (about 20 minutes)
Note: Halfway through this process, add mushrooms and artichoke.
Note: If you are ran out of stock before the rice has reached al dante, use water or milk and cover with a lid for about 5 minutes to check if the rice is done.
7. When the rice is done, add tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and mix.
8. Add the 1 tbs of cold butter
9. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the rice and mix until the ingredients are incorporated together and garnish!

Ah. If you mess up again, just keep trying. It is a good way to test your patience.

Tomato Bruschetta

What is bruschetta? It sounds Italian, so it must be Italian! Ah, genius, you are right! This dish dates back to the 15th century as a simple appetizer with grilled bread coated with some oil, like butter or olive oil and salted, and topped with tomato, garlic and cheese.

I got to say. This is one of the simplest dishes that I've ever made. Not only is it easy to make, but it is also delicious and can please the masses as a fancy appetizer.

Tomato Bruchetta

2 Plum tomatoes
6 slices of French bread
5 cloves Garlic
1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs Garlic powder
1/2 Lemon
Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Springs of fennel for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

How to make this ^_^
1. Finely mince the garlic
2. In a bowl mix together 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil, moderate salt and pepper, garlic powder, and minced garlic.
3. Whisk to mix all those ingredients together
4. Take a brush and brush all sides of the bread with the mix
5. Toast the bread in the oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes or until crispy
6. Cut tomatoes into tiny cubes
7. Put tomatoes in a strainer to get rid of the liquids
8. Transfer tomatoes to a container and drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes
9. Salt and pepper tomatoes
10. Squeeze lemon juice over tomatoes
11. Assemble by placing tomato mixture on top of bread and put springs of fennel on top
12. Drizzle more olive oil on top and serve

Enjoy these 12 easy steps!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Potato and Kale Gratin

What a day! My lab ended pretty early because we only had to install strain gauges on our compression and tension samples, which my group finished pretty quickly. That means ... more time to plan dinner!

I figured I should stop spending money on more food and should stare at my fridge for an hour to figure out what I can do with the leftover items. I have cheese, kale, potatoes, carrots, half and half, and onions. Then it occurred to me. I should make gratin. I saw one of my friends have it two weeks ago and was curious to see how to make such a delightful dish.

Apparently, it is just layers of potato chip thin potatoes, kale, and onions with a ton of cheese on top. It sort of reminds me of different soil layers from soil dynamics class.

Potato and Kale Gratin

2 Gold potatoes
1 small Yellow onion
2 stalks Kale
1/2 cup Half and half
1 tbs Unsalted butter
2 spoonsfuls Romano cheese
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Note: I used a 12 inch Corningware dish

Prep work
1. Boil water
2. Wash outer surface of potatoes well
3. Use a mandolin slicer to thinly slice the potatoes into potato chip thinness
4. Peel the onion and do the same thing with the onion
5. Remove the stem from the kale and chop into 1 inch squares
6. Put kale in the water and cook for 5 minutes
7. Butter gratin dish with butter
8. Put a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the dish
9. Layer onions then kale
10. Repeat the layering process until potatoes are the final layer.
11. Salt, pepper, garlic powder after every 2 layers.
12. Pour half and half into the dish after layering is finished
13. Salt and pepper the top layer
14. Cut butter into pieces and sprinkle on top with the cheese
15. Preheat the oven for 400F
16. Cover gratin dish with foil

1. Cook for 45 minutes covered
2. After 45 minutes, uncover and broil at 500F for 3-5 minutes until the top gets a nice brown crust. (Be sure to not burn the top!)

Well back to homework and studying. Midterm season is coming up!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

Who has ever watched Hell's Kitchen? Well, I have. Risotto is one of those dishes that show up in every season, and in every season, almost every competitor manages to screw up risotto. I decided to put myself up to the challenge to find out the difficulty of cooking risotto.

Indeed ... it is quite difficult and requires as much patience as listening to your professor repeat a lecture or waiting for the overachieving kid to finish up all his non-relevant questions.

Here, I shall list the number of things to prevent you from messing up your risotto.
1. Make sure you have a large shallow pan. I use a 12-14 inch stainless steel pan. This makes it easier to stir the rice and absorb the liquids
2. Get good quality stock (vegetable, chicken, fish, beef) that is always simmering on the side
3. White wine is needed
4. Heavy cream or half and half makes a creamier risotto
5. Adding cold butter and cheese at the end adds a nice finishing touch to the risotto

Now let's begin!

Mushroom Risotto


1 1/2 cup Italian rice (arborio rice or similar short grain rice)
3 cups stock of choice (chicken, vegetable, beef) I used vegetarian to keep up with my vegetarianism
1 small Onion or 1 Shallot
4 cloves Garlic
1 cup White wine
1/2 cup Half and half
5 stalks Asparagus
6 oz Cremini mushrooms
1-2 Portabella mushrooms
2 Bay leaves
4 tbs Butter (set aside 1 tbs for the fridge)
1 tsp Thyme powder or 3 springs fresh thyme
Dash White Truffle Oil (O man this made me broke'd)
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preparation work
1. Boil water
2. Cut off rooty stemy part of asparagus and discharge
3. Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces
4. Cook asparagus in water for 3-5 minutes
5. Remove asparagus and run through cold water
6. Heat up stock of choice
6. Dice garlic and onions
7. Slice mushrooms into thin slices

Cooking portino
1. Add butter to the pan
2. Throw in garlic and onions until they are translucent
3. Add rice and stir around until translucent (about 5-8 minutes)
4. Add in white wine and bay leaves and stir until wine is absorbed
5. Add in 1/2 cup hot stock and stir around until liquid is absorbed
6. Continue step 5 by keep adding 1/2 cup of liquid and waiting for the liquid to be absorbed until the rice has reached perfect consistency, firm and creamy. Halfway through, add mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper. (Total time: about 25-30 minutes)
7. Add in half and half (optional for heavier, creamier risotto) and asparagus and cook until liquid is absorbed
8. Taste for if more salt and pepper is needed.
9. Add in truffle oil and stir around

Enjoy this delicious meal! If I was not vegetarian, I would add in bits of chicken. I would also add shittake and elephant mushrooms, but those are not available in my area : (.

Bird's Eye shot xD

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Falafel with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Work has been slowly accumulating over this past week. This quarter has been quite fun and interesting, which is something rare to hear from me because usually, I would not show up to any lectures because lectures are boring and I can't learn unless I have a problem presented in front of me.

Now onto business... To continue with my vegetarian diet, I treated myself to falafel with yogurt sauce. A little story about my experiences with falafel.

I have never heard of falafel until I came to UCLA. I saw a couple restaurants that served this fried mystery. The first eatery I came upon was Falafel King on Broxton Ave. I, of course, was swayed by the name. "This must be a good place because it claims to be the king of falafels xD." I ordered. I waited. I got served. First bite ... it was quite delicious! From that moment, I have decided that falafels are my new favorite food item with pho, korean bbq, and gua bao. To my surprise, I had no clue the entire meal I had was vegetarian, and at the time, I was quite disappointed that it contained no meat.

The no meat is no longer a disappointment for my vegetarian self today. I would consider this to be as delicious as country fried steak or a hamburger. Falafels are even high in proteins due to chickpeas, which is a plus for getting enough proteins in my diet. The recipe and techniques to produce a falafel is quite simple.

Falafel with Yogurt Mint Sauce

1 can Chickpeas
1 small Yellow onion
1 medium Potato (about 1/2 cup chopped)
2 tbs Flour
2 tsp Baking powder
3 cloves Garlic
1/3 cup Parsley
2 tsp Cumin powder
2 tsp Cardamon powder
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp White pepper

Preparations of deliciousness
1. Place chickpeas, parsley, garlic, onion, and potatoes in the food processor (make sure to chop all the ingredients before hand so that the food processor can handle it)
Note: I had chopped mine : (. Took about 10 minutes. Yay! Knife skills!

2. Mix in all the spices, salt, pepper, flour, and baking powder.
3. Let the mixture sit for 2 hours or more

1. Fill deep fryer or pot with oil
2. Form small patties with a tablespoon
3. When the oil is hot, throw in the falafel and cook until brown on all sides (not burnt! and should take about 5-7 minutes)
4. Serve with sauce (below) in pita bread, toast, or salad.

Optional Pairings
1. Tomatoes
2. Cucumbers
3. Hummus.
4. Pita chips

Yogurt Mint Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup Mint leaves
1/2 lime
Zest of whole lime
Salt and pepper

1. Finely chop mint leaves
2. Squeeze lime juice into the yogurt
3. Add all the ingredients together, salt and pepper to taste!

Enjoy! Time to plan the next vegetarian meal

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chinese Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce

My club, the Taiwanese American Union, is hosting a night market in Bruin Plaza Monday night. For those who don't know what a night market is, well it is areas in Taiwan with many food and merchandise stalls where the food is cheap and delicious. Basically, my club is having a giant food sale.

At the staff meeting today, everyone had a taste for all the food that is going to be at the night market; thus I decided to make Chinese cold noodles with peanut sauce to keep with my vegetarian diet and have a food item that is vegetarian friendly. This is very simple and can be very profitable.

Chinese Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce

1/2 lb Egg noodles or spaghetti

Sauce portion
1/2 cup Peanuts
1/2 cup Water or stock (chicken or vegetable both work)
1/4 cup Sesame Canola oil mix(I did 75% canola and 25% sesame)
3 tbs Soy Sauce
1 tbs Peanut butter
2 tbs Sugar
1 tsp Chili pepper flakes
1 clove Garlic

Optional ingredients

The following are ingredients that you can pair with the noodles and sauce
Julienne carrots
Julienne cucumbers
Scrambled eggs with soy sauce

Preparation and sauce preparation
1. Boil water
2. Cook noodles
3. Peel and smash garlic
4. Prepare optional ingredients (I only had carrots and cilantro available)
5. Once noodles are done, drain and toss with about 1 tbs sesame oil
6. Run noodles under cold water
7. Refrigerate noodles

Sauce making
1. Throw everything in the sauce ingredients into a blender
2. Blend until smooth
3. If not peanuty enough, add more peanuts
4. If you like more spiciness, add more chili flakes
5. Chill in the fridge for an hour or more

Serve with noodles and optional ingredients and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Poached Egg with Spinach and White Bean Sauce

I would have to say that eggs are what are keeping me sane for my vegetarian diet. Yes, vegetarians can eat eggs. It is those crazy vegans that can not consume anything that has animal products.

I got an idea of poached egg with bean sauce while surfing the web.
To make this post quick and simple. I shall commence my not so green post.

Poached Egg with Spinach and White Bean Sauce

Ingredients (sauce first)
1/2 cup White kidney beans
1 Roma tomato
1 Garlic clove
1/4 cup Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a blender
2. Blend until smooth
3. Transfer to saucepan and heat up (3 minutes)
4. Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients (the rest of the fiberous material)
1 cup Spinach
1 Carrot
1/4 cup Vegetable stock
1 egg

1. Wash spinach and carrots
2. Finely julienne the carrots

1. Begin poaching the egg
2. While the egg is cooking, heat up oil in a pan
3. Add spinach and carrots and saute for 1 minute
4. Add vegetable stock and cook for 1 minute or until spinach is flimsy and cooked.
5. Remove and drain liquids
6. Plate together eggs, spinach, carrots, and egg with the sauce
7. Salt and pepper, add cheese on top (optional)

Enjoy a not so green dish xD.

Poaching an Egg

How to Poach and Egg....

Apparently, poaching an egg looks easy. My friends and I were watching Julie and Julia, and there was a section about poaching an egg. One of my friends commented, "Fail! How can she mess up cooking an egg in water?" I told my friend to try it and tell me how hard it is. After a dozen eggs, he gave up because the water kept turning into egg drop soup.

There are easy steps to poaching an egg.
1. Add 1 tbs of vinegar to simmering water (point where water is starting to steam and only have little bubbles)
2. Crack egg into a bowl
3. Stir water until a funnel is sort of formed
4. Slide egg into the vortex of the funnel
5. Cover on low heat and cook for 3-5 minutes if you like runny.

Five easy steps that you probably won't mess up xD.

Kale Toast

Vegetarian Day 2...
To my dear readers,

I have been surviving the vegetarian challenge ... so far. As daunting as it sounds, I actually feel great! I have never used to many vegetables in my dishes before, and this gives me a chance to expand my culinary knowledge. My friends are pretty surprised that I have decided to go vegetarian for a week, and some of them also have decided to try the challenge.

Today, I was browsing the net and saw an idea for toast with spinach and tomatoes. I have decided to improvise and use kale, tomatoes, corn, white beans and add a dash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Kale Toast

5 stalks Kale
3 unpeeled Garlic cloves
2 slices Multigrain bread
1 Roma tomato
1/2 cup Sweet corn
1/2 cup White kidney beans
1/4 cup Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation work
1. Slice off crust of bread and cut into four sections
2. Place bread in the toaster for 3 minutes or until crispy
3. Cut tomatoes and remove seeds
4. Dice tomatoes
5. Wash and cut kale leaves into small pieces (about 2 cm squares or smaller)

1. Heat up oil in a pan and toss garlic into the pan on medium-high heat.
2. Brown or partially blacken the garlic skins (about 3 minutes)
3. Remove from heat and peel garlic and smash garlic into paste
4. Wash pan, dry and add olive oil
5. Toss in kale, corn, tomatoes, and beans
6. Saute for 1-2 minutes and add in vegetable stock and cover for 2 minutes or until vegetables are cooked
7. Place vegetables on the toast
8. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Man! This is one of my new favorite vegetarian dishes. It is very simple and yet so delicious.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fava Bean Salad

Fava beans ... this is quite a foreign ingredient for me. I have never heard of such a bean or even seen it in my life before. Apparently, these green pods are kept on the top shelf of Ralph's vegetable section, unnoticed by the normal college student.

I discovered fava beans after reading about spring vegetables, and you might have guessed ... fava beans are in season! Apparently, these beans are full of proteins and fiber, which are good for my vegetarian diet. I decided to make a salad courtesy of

Fava Bean Salad

1 cup Fava beans
1/2 cup Sweet corn
1/2 small Yellow onion
6-7 Mint leaves
2 tbs Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Blanch fava beans (about 6 minutes)
2. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water
3. Remove the skin from the beans
4. Cut onion into cubes
5. Shred mint leaves with your fingers

1. Heat up olive oil and add in onions and corn
2. Cook for about 3-4 minutes (the onions should be at a sweet crunchy state)
3. Add in beans and cook for 1 minute
4. Move to a bowl and salt and pepper
5. Put leaves over it and serve or refrigerate.

Enjoy hot or cold!

Pineapple Curry

Congratulations to UCLA's ASCE for winning 2nd place for both the concrete canoe and overall conference in Las Vegas. As promised, I will post a photo of the concrete canoe. Yes, it is made out of concrete, and it floats.

After eating from various buffets in Las Vegas and tons of meat, I have decided to try to go vegetarian for a whole week. This is going to be quite a tough feat because I am a carnivore. I love meat, and I just don't know how I am going to give it up. I guess the vegetarian experience will expose me to various vegetables that I have never used or have not even heard about.

The first dish I made is a simple pineapple curry sauce to be served with long grain rice.

Pineapple Curry

1 can Coconut milk
1/2 ripe Pineapple
1 tbs Ginger
1/2 Brown onion
1/2 Lime
2 cloves Garlic
2 Red chili peppers
2 Star anise
1 tbs Corriander
1 tbs Cinnamon
1 tbs Curry powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Cloves
Salt and pepper
Mint leaves for garnish

(setting up ingredients)

Prep of green (more like yellow)
Create Paste
1. Chop onion, garlic, and chili pepper
2. Add to food processor or blender
3. Add turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon, corriander, cloves, and star anise
4. Blend into a paste. (if you are using a blender add in a little coconut milk)
5. Cube pineapple

1. Heat up about 1 tbs of butter into a pan
2. Add in the paste until you smell fragrance
3. Add in the pineapple and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes
4. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve with rice.
6. Garnish with mint leaves and fried shallots.

Well, the first vegetarian dish wasn't too bad ^_^. Onto the next one ...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Restaurant Review: Ports O'Call Buffet

For my current adventure, I am in Las Vegas. Of course, you may think it is still spring break for me, and I am at Vegas to have fun. Well, yea ... I am here to have fun, but the fun consists of filtering containment water, watch a steel bridge get constructed, and cheer on UCLA in paddling a concrete canoe. Whoa! Concrete can float? Yes sir, it can, as long as you make the aggregates and concrete mix less dense than water and strong. I'll include a picture tomorrow of UCLA's canoe. If you haven't guessed why I am at Las Vegas yet, I am attending the annual ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) Pacific Southwest Regional Conference 2010 hosted by the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. Man, that was quite a mouthful.

Ports O'Call Buffet
4000 West Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103

My first dinner in Las Vegas was at Ports O'Call Buffet at the Gold Coast Buffet and Casino with ASCE for a team dinner. The first thing that most tourists of the Sin City would do is to indulge in buffets.

Ports O'Call, located in the back of Gold Coast's Casino, does a unique theme to buffet by offering a variety of ethnic foods: American, Chinese, Korean, and Italian, along with diverse types of desserts and seafood. One of the best attributes of this buffet is the price. As poor college students, this buffet is ideal since the cost ranges between $10-15 (Depends on if they have specials like seafood or prime rib).

(Ethnic Food Stations)

Although this restaurant serves a wide range of ethnic foods and is inexpensive, the chef lacks control of cook times, moisture retention, and seasoning for the hot foods. A majority of the meat and seafood dishes were beyond overcooked or over-seasoned to hide the taste of the meat. Though, there is one exception to the seafood case: cocktail shrimp. These little creatures are always delicious. No wonder it is the most consumed food item in Las Vegas.

(Plate of Italy ... sorry no shrimp pics)

The best component of the buffet was the desserts. My sweet tooth rejoiced. The cakes were moist and not too sweet. The texture of each cake and pastry were beyond my expectations because the hot foods were not as delicately handled. The pastry chef and his assistants at Port O'Call have successfully made the last course delicious to balance out a majority of the bad entrees.

(Yum. Desserts!)

I would recommend this restaurant to those who are low on budget and would like to try different Americanized ethnic foods. I would not recommend this restaurant to those who would like fine dining foods or creative culinary talent.

Dress: Casual
Chatter level: Moderate
Kids: Bring em'

Review Rating:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Braised Orange Pork

Sunday already? I find myself repeating that phrase in numerous posts. This means my resting time is over and time to start another productive week, full of homework, work, and projects.

I was looking in one of my cookbooks, and there was a recipe that used orange juice and wine to braise pork. I decided to do a slight variation on that and see how well it turns out.

Onto the experiment!

Braised Orange Pork

1 Pork loin (about 1 lb)
1/2 cup Fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup White wine
1/4 cup Red wine
1 tbs White sugar
1 tsp rosemary
1 pinch Spanish saffron
Zest of one orange
Salt and pepper

Prep Directions
1. Pat pork loin dry
2. Salt and pepper pork loin
3. Chop or grind rosemary into fine powder

1. Heat oil in a pan
2. Toss pork loin into the pan and brown sides on medium heat
3. Turn heat on medium-low and toss in white and red wines, rosemary, orange juice, sugar and saffron
4. Cover and braise for 40 minutes turning meat every 10 minutes
5. At the 30 minute mark, throw in zest and mix with braising material
6. Check for doneness using a meat thermometer. Should be at 150F
7. Slice and serve with braising liquid. (Salt and pepper liquid if necessary for taste test)

Well ... back to bridge designing ... yay! Fun stuff xD
It would be nice to see what you guys change to this dish because it is still not perfected yet.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What a busy Saturday! Er.. semi-busy... I spent most of my morning sleeping until 12:00pm. Good thing I woke up before 3 because I had to go volunteer with Circle K at Turning Point Transitional House in Santa Monica. I definitely can't miss an event where I can cook for people. Food = happiness. I find that my favorite event because I like seeing people well fed and smile when they are eating. Well, there is also the satisfaction of people coming back for more food.

Now onto today's post ... chocolate chip cookies. This cookie is perhaps one of everyone's favorites, or I can hardly find a person that would refuse to eat one.

There are some technical data I must go over before I start the post.
Review this item:
Cream the butter
It's a quick read that won't even make engineers small asleep.

Another important fact! Have parchment paper ready or else you will get the dark marks around the cookie's edges. I got to admit it does add a bit of a crunch to it along with the softness.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Mini chocolate chips
1 Egg
1 Egg yolk
1/2 cup White sugar
3/4 cup Brown sugar
1 tbs Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Instructions of sir mix a lot
1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Add in wet ingredients
3. Mix for about 3 minutes until well incorporated
4. Add in rest of the ingredients and mix well
5. Heat oven for 325F
6. Line sheet tray with parchment paper
7. Roll out 1 inch diameter spheres
8. Space it evenly on the sheet tray
9. Bake for 12-15 minutes
10. Remove from the oven and cool

Man... I need to workout all these sweets that I've been consuming -_-

Creaming Butter

Creaming butter... What in the world is that? No, it does not mean making your own butter out of milk and working out those arms. It is aerating butter and making it into a cream-like texture by whipping the butter with full force.

Butter is one of the most important ingredients in baking, and most of the time, people do not handle the ingredient well. Properly creamed butter can hold together all the ingredients, while giving it an airy texture.

Properly creamed butter

Instructions of oily fun
1. Move butter out of the fridge and cut into 1 cm cubes.
2. Let butter sit until temperature reaches 65F to 70F for maximum efficiency of binding
3. In an electric mixer, whisk the butter at low speed and gradually increase speed after every 10 seconds.
4. Occasionally scrape bowl sides and remove butter from inside of the whisk.
5. Whip the butter for 3-5 minutes
6. Add in ingredients as instructed for baked product.

There you have it. Simple steps and instructions to improve your baked goods.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pork Loin Braised in Milk

TGIF! Week 1 of spring quarter has been hectic! Just when I thought my winter courseload was heavy, my spring quarter is going to probably be my worst quarter. Even though it is week 1, my stress levels increased significantly that I can start seeing white hairs xD, not really though.

Good thing I have my food blog. Without it, I would not know how to relieve my stress. Thank you to all my readers, if there are any xD.

The dish for today is simple and light. As you may have guessed, it is just pork loin braised in milk. I used very few ingredients and spent little time preparing my ingredients. This dish is also called maiale al latte in Italian and comes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy

Pork Loin Braised in Milk

3 slices Boneless Pork Loin
1 1/2 cup Whole milk (2% works too)
1 tbs Butter
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Pat pork loin dry
2. Salt and pepper pork

1. Heat olive oil in a pan
2. Brown all sides of the pork
3. Reduce heat and add in milk and butter
4. Allow milk to simmer on low heat
5. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, turning the meat occasionally and skimming off fat from the milk

Now that wasn't too hard was it?
Enjoy simplicity

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Unicorn infused with Fireleaf and Pixie Dust

I have to say ... today was quite a magical day. Wake up. Go to work. Go to class. Go to meetings. That is quite the most fun I had in my whole college life! My agenda was definitely way different from my ordinary, routine life of a college student. I clocked into work. My professor talked a lot. I went to the Circle K meeting.

To celebrate it all. I express shipped canned unicorn meat from This meat has been aged for centuries. Process is similar to aging steak; thus, it would have to be tasty.

Unicorn Infused with Fireleaf and Pixie Dust

1 can Unicorn Meat (see link above)
3 Unicorn horn (comes with the canned meat)
3 batches Fireleaves (Found on the top of Mt. Everest and Antarctica)
7 oz Pixie dust (Found in the Large Hadron Collider, very rare ingredient)
3 Roma tomatoes
1 Yellow onion
2 cloves Garlic
1 cup Holy water (from the Vatican)

Prep for the best dish ever made in history of man!
1. Cut your finger to let 2 drops of your blood to wash the canned unicorn
2. Soak the fireleaves in holy water
3. Dice tomatoes, onion, and garlic

1. Sear the unicorn with onions and garlic
2. Add in the tomatoes after 2 minutes of cooking
3. Turn heat on low and throw in the fireleaves with holy water
4. Braise for 15 minutes
5. Throw in the unicorn horn and cook until it turns orange (about 3.1451 microseconds)
6. When the horn has turned orange, put everything in a bowl and sprinkle pixie dust

Enjoy the best thing ever made ever in the whole universe! After eating this dish, I felt wonderful as if I could fly and forget all about my engineering troubles. Heck ... afterward, I ran around the world in 0.0032 nanoseconds. Ah ... the magic food can do for one!

Well ... if you haven't caught on yet. Happy April Fools!