Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blogger Prom 2010

"Guess where I'm going right now?” I said. "Where?” she answered back. "To Blogger Prom", I replied. "Stop making up words", was my mom's answer when I told her where I was heading last Wednesday night. Truthfully, that was the answer I got from many people so it just made me laugh harder.  Last year, I was too busy working to have a life so I was unable to attend the 80s themed prom at the Andaz in West Hollywood. This year, I rsvp'ed with a yes the second I was invited. I knew I wouldn't miss the opportunity again. For two weeks I stressed about what to wear to the 40s glamor night that was the theme this year to be held high up in the Hollywood hills at Yamashiro restaurant. I finally settled on a simple black dress with a shiny clip in my hair.


I was starving once I arrived at the gorgeous venue, but instead of going straight for the food, I tried a scotch tasting. Next time, I'll know better. I ended up having to stand in a long line to try Chef Brock's miso cod and duck tacos, but it was worth it. Just to ensure I was really full, I went for a heaping helping of the Cheese Impresario's cheese which included the  much talked about "cheese sex"... a spreadable, brie like cheese paired with cashew brittle. As weird as it sounds, it was so good!

Tacos at Blogger Prom

Tacos at Blogger Prom

Cheese Plate at Blogger Prom

One of my favorite things about prom was the giant screen highlighting the Twitter feed of all Blogger Prom related tweets. I also got to spend some time with many blogging friends that I've met over the past year and meet a whole bunch of new people.  I had even more time to do just that at the after party at Test Kitchen.  But it's hard to stay out late on a school night so I had to send myself home at a semi-reasonable hour.

Many, many thanks to the Blogger Prom committee (HC, Esther, Lindsay, Caroline, Maya, Natalie, Tara, and Marni) without which, the evening would not have not been possible. I'm already looking forward to dressing up next year and celebrating our blogging awesomeness. It was a fun night which I paid for the next day, but it was well worth it!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicken with Tomato-Saffron Vinaigrette

Chicken with Tomato Saffron Vinaigrette

Now that we are in our first days of fall, summer has decided to finally come to Southern California. The last few days have been miserably hot and it's making me seriously consider a move to Alaska...or something. This salad is the kind of food I want when the temperature affects my mood and my appetite.  The cook time is very brief and very simple. This is a great after work recipe, especially if you prep the tomatoes and thyme ahead of time. I have been sort of obsessed with baby romaine this summer, but arugula, spinach, or frisee would work just as well here.  Yes, this is a warm salad which seems counter intuitive on a hot day, but believe me, it will cool you down.

Chicken with Tomato-Saffron Vinaigrette
(Adapted from Serious Eats and Bon Appetit, October 2004)

Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup minced shallots
Pinch crumble saffron
3/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (can use chicken breasts)
3-4 handfuls mixed greens, frisee or baby romaine

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, shallots, saffron, and 1/4 teaspoon of paprika.  Whisk to combine then whisk in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle in the thyme and add the tomatoes. Toss well to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and the remaining thyme and paprika. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes per side or until they are fully cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pan and turn off the heat.  Add the tomato vinaigrette to the pan to deglaze the pan and warm the vinaigrette making sure to scrape off any bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Slice the chicken and divide over the greens. Spoon the vinaigrette over the chicken.

Printable Recipe

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tomato Hand Pies in Bacon and Thyme Crust

Tomato Hand Pies in Bacon and Thyme Crust

Something happened this weekend that hasn't happened in a long time...I cooked. This wasn't just regular cooking for the work week (aka salad) or cooking because I had a potluck or Hollywood Bowl outing. I was cooking because I was inspired...and it felt good. It all started last week when I realized I hadn't baked since my birthday cake. As someone who used to bake every week, you could see how two months with no baking would be a big deal. I wanted to put my oven to good use. Unfortunately, my oven is a little mad at me from lack of use so it's extremely temperamental and doesn't always work. Fortunately, I figured out a way to trick it back into liking me.  I also finally got around to seasoning my cast iron pan that I bought back in February. Now that it's ready to be used, I'm looking for cast iron cooking ideas so feel free to leave them in the comments. Now, for these hand pies. I was watching an old episode of Simply Ming which featured ponzu and bacon as the main ingredients. Art Smith was guesting on the show and made a tomato pie with a crust that had bacon baked right into it. I was intrigued, but couldn't find a recipe so I decided to come up with something that worked for me. These little pies aren't the prettiest food, but who cares since they taste so great!? I definitely want to play around with these a bit more while tomatoes are in season, but for a first try they were pretty amazing.

Tomato Hand Pies in Bacon and Thyme Crust
(By Esi)

Makes 16 hand pies or one large galette

For the Crust:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2-4 tablespoons ice water
2 slices cold bacon, sliced in half lengthwise and chopped into small pieces

Add the flour, thyme and salt to a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add the ice water just until the crust comes together. Roll out the dough to about a 6 inch circle. Add some of the bacon. Roll out until the bacon is incorporated in the crust. Repeat until all of the bacon is mixed in with the crust.

Form the dough into a disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 

For the filling:
1 shallot minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered and drained as much as possible
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until almost translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, thyme, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about another minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the tomatoes and cheese.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the filling over each round. Close the rounds and seal the edges with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix one egg with about 1 tablespoon of water. Seal the edges of each pie with a fork. Poke each pie with the fork to allow the steam to escape while cooking and brush the tops with the egg wash.  Bake 20-25 minutes until the tops of the pie have browned. Allow the pies to cool slightly before serving.

Printable Recipe

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, September 17, 2010


I know I've mentioned Blackboard Eats before. I'm a little obsessed with the money saving website. I've been collecting discount codes for restaurants like I used to collect shoes so I have saved up quite a few codes (and quite a few pairs of unworn shoes). Last week I came to realize I was sitting on at least seven codes, some of which were about to expire. Luckily there is Twitter where dinner plans can be made in an instant. Love that. There's also email and that's how Diana and I came to decide that we should dine at Momed last Friday night. I love Momed. It's right down the street from my old job and when the casual modern Mediterranean spot opened up several months ago, I quickly became a regular, but it had been a while since I've gone and I was anxious to see if it had held up in the months since I'd left.

My first meal at Momed (back in April!) was the halloumi and akawi cheese pide. It's simple and full of flavor. I love halloumi, but don't find myself cooking with it often. I'm always happy to see the squeaky cheese on menus. 

Halloumi and Akawi Cheese Pide at Momed

For this particular outing, we decided to share the zucchini and feta fritters.  I can be picky about summer squash and usually only eat it in my mom's zucchini bread. This fritter made me a convert and I was surprised how pleased I was that the fritter was full of zucchini and not all breading. The yogurt sauce was a tangy cool accompaniment and Diana used the rest on her lamb and beef koefte.

Zucchini Fritters at Momed

Since I had already had the koefte on another occasion so this time I tried something new. The duck shawarma comes with oven dried tomatoes, a healthy dose of garlic spread, and fig confit. It's meaty, tender, and extremely flavorful. Believe it or not, I didn't eat the whole thing and the leftovers were a wonderful breakfast the next morning.

Duck Shawarma

Momed is a nice casual spot for lunch or dinner. Service can sometimes be a little slow depending on how crowded the restaurant is, but it's always friendly and helpful. I just learned that the restaurant offers delivery as well so I hope to try that service on a night when I'm too lazy to drive ten minutes away.

233 S. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 270-4444

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Classic Salade Nicoise

Classic Salad Nicoise

I'm a firm believer that Labor Day does not signify the end of summer. First of all, there are really only two seasons here in and less hot. Second of all, according to the calendar there are usually another two to three weeks of summer after Labor Day and this year, the summer is still going strong! However, although I don't believe in Labor Day being the end of summer, I do believe it is a great excuse to barbecue and hang out with friends and have a nice long weekend.  We had one of our legendary potlucks at JenFinn's house that weekend. I was stumped at what to make. People were bringing everything from barbacoa to fondue.  Jen was amused because she thinks I cook every day. Just so you know...I don't! I then remembered this salad that I've managed to make three times in the last couple of weeks. There's very little cooking involved besides hard boiling the eggs and blanching the lima beans. Speaking of lima beans, I'm newly obsessed with the beans that come from McGrath Family Farms here in Southern California. Unfortunately, I discovered them too late and haven't been able to get them in the last week or so. I can't wait until next season so I can take full advantage of the crop.  Also, some may find anchovies draped over the eggs strange...Don't knock it till you try it. The combo reminds me of one of my favorite tartine sandwiches from Le Pain Quotidien and it's really, really good.

Check out just some of the amazing things my friends made for our potluck. I'm so lucky to have such a talented group of chef-like friends!

Honey Wasabi Grilled Shrimp
Honey Wasabi Grilled Shrimp

Ponzu Grilled Corn
Ponzu Grilled Corn

Shrimp Ceviche

Classic Salad Nicoise
(Slightly adapted from David Lebovitz)

Makes 2 servings

2 large, ripe tomatoes
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup lima beans, blanched and cooled
1/3 cup small black olives (I used halved kalamata olives)
3-4 large handfuls baby romaine leaves
3 hard-cooked eggs, cut into wedges
6 tablespoons French vinaigrette (recipe below)
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 anchovy filets, cut into thin strips lengthwise

Rub a large wooden or glass salad bowl with the garlic

Cut the tomatoes into wedges and sprinkle with salt. Place in a colander and let them drain for a few minutes.

Add the cucumber, onions, beans, and lettuce to the bowl. Add a bit of the dressing and toss to combine. Arrange the salad on plates. Top with the tomatoes and eggs. Top each egg wedge with an anchovy strip.

Printable Recipe

French Vinaigrette
(From David Lebovitz)

Makes about 1/4 cup of dressing

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 small shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives

In a bowl, mix together the salt, vinegar, shallot, mustard and oil. Season with pepper as needed. Just before serving, stir in the chives.

Printable Recipe

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, September 13, 2010

Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza

Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza

Who knew leftovers could be so good? With the purchase of just a couple extra ingredients the previous day's salad was turned into a delicious pizza. I first discovered how delightful figs on pizza can be a couple of years ago and ever since, I've really enjoyed adding interesting fruit to pizzas.

Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza with Feta

This pizza is really best when you use the toppings sparingly unlike the pictures above. The first one I made was a bit too heavy because I really loaded the ingredients on, but the second pizza came out just right. I was also thrilled that I was able to make the pizza on my grill pan since my oven has been moody lately (probably from lack of use this summer).

Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza

Grilled Sausage and Fig Pizza
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010)

Makes 2 pizzas

1 pound fresh pizza dough (I used whole wheat)
4-5 tablespoons Pomegranate-Cumin dressing
1 cup coarsely grated Fontina cheese
Mixed greens or arugula
2 grilled sausages, sliced 1/4-inch thick
6-8 figs, quartered
2 thin red onion slices, rings separated
Crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional)

Preheat a barbecue or grill pan over medium high heat. Halve the dough and roll each round into desired thinness. Brush the tops of the dough with some of the dressing.

Grill pizzas, seasoned side down until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the pizzas over. Top with the Fontina, greens, sausages, figs and red onion slices. Drizzle with more dressing. Cover and grill until the Fontina melts, about another 4 minutes. Top with feta or goat cheese if desired and cook for another minute or until the cheese softens.

Printable Recipe

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, September 10, 2010

Animal Restaurant 8/25/10

By the time you get through this post, you'll understand why I've been eating so many salads lately. After our decadent dinner at Bistro LQ, it was time for me to take Kris out for his birthday which incidentally is the day after mine. A month later we finally went to Animal which I had been wanting to try for quite some time.  Animal is owned by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Two Dudes Catering. The menu changes daily, but some of the items are pretty much permanent and I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to order as we entered the restaurant. My mood darkened a bit when we entered and they couldn't find my reservation, but we managed to get a table. The restaurant wasn't too busy at first, but eventually filled up so I was happy we were seated at an actual table and not at the bar as they had told us we would have to be.

First up was the chicken liver toast. Kris loves chicken livers, me not so much. I can't seem to get past the chalky texture. However, the sweetness of the topping (which is escaping my memory at the moment) mixed in with the livers was actually a good contrast. I wish there had been more of it.

Chicken Liver Toast

The hamachi tostada was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The hamachi was fresh and light as if it had been caught that afternoon and went well with the peanut slaw that had just enough fish sauce to balance the vinaigrette.

Hamachi Tostada

Sweetbreads with creamed spinach, capers, and oyster mushrooms. As you may have noticed, I've been doing some more adventurous eating this summer. Of course, I was hesitant to try sweetbreads, but birthday boy insisted. In all honesty, they tasted like fried food. The creamed spinach was good, but a bit rich though the capers and citrus segments cut through that richness a bit.

sweetbreads, creamed spinach, capers, oyster mushroom

Though I was hesitant to try the sweetbreads, I was super excited to try the bone marrow. The Texas toast was good for spreading the marrow, but the chimichurri while fresh and full of flavor, kind of overpowered the flavor of the bone marrow. It was hard to taste the marrow on it's own, because they chimichurri had seeped into every pore.

marrow bone, chimichurri, caramelized onions 9

The piece de resistance and second favorite part of the meal was the oxtail poutine. Poutine purists like JenFinn would shudder in fear because this ain't your every day poutine. The fries come topped with a load of rich oxtail gravy and shredded cheddar cheese. Yes, I said shredded curds here...and you know what? Who cares?! This is rich and heavy and full of stuff that is not conducive to fitting into a bathing suit, but it's so worth it. I kept eating this long after I knew I shouldn't and I'm glad I did.

Oxtail Poutine

After all of that oxtail gravy, I managed to find just a tiny bit of room for dessert. The bacon chocolate crunch bar with salt and pepper anglaise is good, but surprisingly not as bacony as I had hoped for.

bacon chocolate crunch bar, s&p anglaise

Overall this was a great first meal at Animal. It's a great place to take a bunch of friends so you can order everything on the menu and share. The service is fast though not the most friendly (perhaps I'm still feeling spoiled from our exceptional service at LudoBites) and the dishes come out quick. I'll definitely be back to try more of the items we didn't get to this first time. In the meantime...more salads to come!

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Grilled Sausages with Figs and Mixed Greens

Grilled Sausages with Figs and Mixed Greens

Shocker...another salad. It's summer and that's all I want to "cook"! Figs have been bountiful this season. Longtime readers know I love my figs. Each season I look for fun ways to use them and didn't have to look far beyond last month's Bon Appetit. I'm currently crushing on their recipes that can be turned into leftovers later in the week. Last month (well technically June) it was the grilled chicken and now it's sausages and figs. I made my own pomegranate molasses because I had a bottle of pom juice that needed to be used up and I did the full amount of dressing since I ended up making the leftover recipe as well.  I reduced the pom a bit too much so whisking the dressing was a bit of a challenge, but otherwise this is fast and easy and really fresh. It's another winner and I think you'll agree.

Grilled Sausages with Figs and Mixed Greens
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010)

Makes 2 servings

2 sausages (I used spinach, Fontina, and roasted garlic chicken sausages. You can also use lamb or spicy Italian sausage)
2 or 3 1/2-inch thick slices of red onion
2-4 tablespoons Pomegranate-Cumin dressing (recipe below)
4-5 cups mixed greens
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
8 fresh figs, halved
2 tablespoons sliced fresh mint leaves

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the sausages and the onions with about 1tablespoon of the dressing.  Grill the sausages until cooked through, about 12-14 minutes. Then cook the onions until charred, about 10 minutes.

Toss the greens with the remaining dressing. Mound the salad onto a plate or bowl. Slice the sausages and place on top of the greens. Top the sausages with the cheese, figs, and mint.

Printable Recipe

Pomegranate-Cumin Dressing
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010)

Makes about 1 cup of dressing

5 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sliced fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons minced shallots
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mint, mint, molasses and cumin.  Stir in the shallots. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Printable Recipe

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, September 3, 2010

Peach-Tomato Salad with Burrata

Peach-Tomato Salad with Burrata

Salad has definitely been a main part of my diet this summer (besides oatmeal). However, I started to get bored with the same chicken and spinach salads so I've found different ways of changing things up. Back in July when my mom and sister were in town, we had a great celebratory dinner at Angeli Caffe. This salad was on the menu, but since I had just found this recipe, I didn't order it. I finally got around to making this summer delicacy.  It's so simple and that is just what I love. The tomato vinaigrette is a bit sweet, a bit creamy and so flavorful. I want to make it often while tomatoes are in season and drown everything in it. There is sweetness from the peaches and a bit in the vinaigrette, but it's not overwhelming and pairs perfectly with the creamy burrata. This salad is summer perfection.

Here are some highlights from our dinner at Angeli:

Broiled smoked mozzarella with roasted tomatoes. This was perfection with Angeli's incredible freshly baked bread. (I am so going to try and make this soon!)

broiled smoked mozzarella topped with roasted baby tomatoes and oregano

My sister had linguine with clams

Linguine alle Vongole

Mom had the roasted chicken:

Pollo Arrosto

I don't normally order pasta when I go out, but could not resist more tomatoes with this fresh penne:

Penne Aglio e Olio with Shrimp, Seared Baby Market Tomatoes and Arugola

Peach-Tomato Salad with Burrata
(Adapted from Evan Kleiman of Angeli Caffe as found on LA Weekly)

Makes 2 servings

Tomato vinaigrette:
1/2 small shallot, minced
1 small ripe tomato, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the shallot, tomato, vinegar, and oil to a blender and mix until smooth and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Basil oil:
5 large basil leaves, washed and dried
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add the ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth. Pass the oil through a sieve to remove the fine basil particles and reduce the foam.

Salad and assembly:
1 peach, cut into thin wedges
1 small ripe, but firm tomato, cut into thin slices
1 ball of burrata

Toss the peach and tomato slices with a bit of the tomato vinaigrette. Add more vinaigrette as needed.

Arrange the peaches and tomato on the center of a plate. Place the burrata pieces around the salad and drizzle the whole plate with the basil oil. Serve with bread.

Printable Recipe

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chicks with Knives Hatchi Dinner at Breadbar 8/26/10

There are a bunch of underground supper clubs popping up in Los Angeles. One of the more popular ones is Chicks with Knives. Once a month they put on a fun dinner with "SOLE" food and entertainment. It sounds like a great evening out, but I have yet to attend one of these dinners so I was thrilled to learn that the Chicks would be the guest chefs at the August Hatchi event at Breadbar. The Hatchi event takes place on the last Thursday of every month when a guest chef (or chefs) takes over the restaurant and presents eight small plates for eight dollars each. "Hatchi" means eight in Japanese. Anyway, last Thursday I headed out to Breadbar with Andy of The Wind Attack. I wasn't that hungry because I was still trying to digest my meal from the previous evening at Animal (more on that later), but I had looked over the menu and was pleased that everything seemed light enough for me to enjoy without slipping further into a food coma.


This Breadbar location is in the middle of a mall which I usually get lost at, but we managed to find the restaurant without too much trouble. The Chicks called this evening "Love & Kisses & BBQ" and featured all kinds of picnic worthy item. One of the first things I noticed when we saw the menu was that despite the advertisement for all dishes including drinks being $8, the drinks were in fact $12. It wouldn't have been a huge deal if we had known before, but I thought it was a bit much, especially considering how tiny they were. I made to savor every drop of my cucumber gimlet.

Cucumber Gimlet

We were instructed that we had to order four things per person. This normally wouldn't  be an issue for me, but again, I was still a bit full from the previous night's dinner.  I wasn't prepared for how small the plates would be so the restriction wasn't a big deal. First up was the tomato salad. The simple plating really let the tomato flavor shine. It was crisp and refreshing and the melon under the green tomato was a welcome surprise.

Tomato Salad

Charred lettuce soup with anchovy and crouton was an interesting take on a Ceaser salad. This wasn't my favorite dish of the evening, but I appreciated the play on a classic.

Charred Lettuce Soup

The pulled pork slider was definitely one of the favorites of the evening. The ingredients went together perfectly and I loved that it wasn't all too sweet. The celery salt on the peaches was a nice surprise. I just wish the sliders had been bigger!!

Pulled Pork Slider

Sous vide rib-eye. This was my first time having anything cooked sous vide. The meat was of great quality and really flavorful. It sounds strange, but you could really taste the meaty flavor. The charred peppers were a nice accompaniment. 

Sous Vide Ribeye

The doughnuts. Oh the doughnuts. I secretly wanted to order another helping of these, but I decided to show some restraint. They came filled with a vanilla flecked cream that was full of sweet corn. On the side was a blueberry sorbet, blueberry gelee and more sweet corn. The doughnut was so great. I wish it had been a bit warmer, but Andy made a good point that the cream filling would have  melted all over the place if that had been the case.


Overall, I really enjoyed my first Chicks with Knives experience and they have a ton of fun events coming up so I'm really excited to see them again. To find out more about the Chicks, visit their website.

Hatchi Series at Breadbar Century City takes place on the last Thursday of every month:

Breadbar Century City (Inside the mall)
10250 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 277-3770

Stumble Upon Toolbar