Monday, February 27, 2012

Cheddar Pepper Biscuits

Cheddar Biscuits

I've been making a lot of this soup again recently. It's a nice way for me to fill up during my lunch breaks without feeling weighed down. I've been skipping the saffron yogurt and instead paired the soup with these biscuits. The recipe was recommended by Olga and I loved it. These are so easy to make and are quite decadent. I love the hint of spice that the sriracha gives them. I accidentally overdid it with the buttermilk so these came out more like biscuits than scones, but still tender and moist so no complaints from me.

One year ago: Pea Shoots with Shrimp, Bacon, and Chives
Two years ago: Blood Oranges with Mascarpone, Honey, and Pistachios
Three years ago: Roasted Poussin with Braised Romaine

Cheddar Pepper Biscuits
(Adapted from Pinch My Salt)

Makes 8 large scones

1 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) frozen unsalted butter, grated and kept cold until ready to use
1 1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon sriracha
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the flours baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Whisk the dry ingredients together to make sure they are well combined. Mix the butter into the flour mixture until you have pea-sized pieces. Mix in 1 cup of cheddar.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, egg, and sriracha. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour and cheese mixture. Use a wooden spoon to combine all of the ingredients, just until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a circle and press it down until it is about 1-inch thick.  Cut the dough in half and then cut each half into four pieces. Transfer the unbaked biscuits to the baking sheet..

Mix the paprika with the melted butter. Brush the top of each biscuit with the melted butter and sprinkle with a bit more cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until the tops are golden and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve warm.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marix Tex Mex

When I moved to Los Angeles, Marix in West Hollywood was the first restaurant where I felt like a regular. I used to go every Tuesday for Taco Tues and would often end up there several other days of the week as well. I met many great friends there and got to know the staff as well. I love the community feel of the place and I always run into someone I know. This past Saturday for example, I had brunch plans with my friend Tony. The second I walked in, I saw three of our other friends so we did an impromptu group brunch. Several hours and several margaritas later, I left with that familiar warm feeling that I always get when I visit...and it wasn't just the margaritas.

Speaking of margaritas, we started with a pitcher of them. For $26, you can't go wrong with the Kick Ass Margarita with 1800 Reposado and Cointreau. I'm of the opinion that these are the best margaritas in town.

Kick Ass Margarita

My favorite thing to order is the chicken fajitas with no peppers and the onions well done. For $11 you can do a half order and add rice, cheese, and beans for $3 extra. They come out steaming hot with flour tortillas and sweet charred onions.

Chicken Fajitas

Tony went with the short rib taco platter ($10)

Short Rib Tacos

Bryan and Eric shared the Three Item Combo ($12) with tacos and an enchilada.

Three Item Combo

John had a short rib quesadilla ($10)

Short Rib Quesadilla

It's always great to spend time with old friends, especially when it's at the place where you met. Marix has stood the test of time for me in Los Angeles and it holds a special place in my heart.

Marix Tex Mex
1108 N. Flores St.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 656-8800

118 Entrada Dr.
Santa Monica, CA 90402
(310) 459-8596

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Beer Ice Cream

Beer Ice Cream

Like much of the country, Los Angeles is experiencing a warmer than usual winter. I personally am not a fan of constant 80 degree weather and sunshine, but I know I am in the extreme minority. I just love bundling up or sitting at home wrapped in my Snuggie. I'm weird, I know. I'm sure those in colder climates are dreaming of the days when they can sit outside and drink a beer. Since I can do that any time, I'm thinking of other ways to enjoy a beer. I also needed to give my ice cream maker a workout so beer ice cream is what I did. The recipe doesn't specify what kind of beer to use so I went with an inexpensive chocolate stout that I found at Trader Joes. You can taste the chocolatey undertones in the ice cream and it has a nice robust flavor. I'm really curious to see how a lighter beer would fare in this, but I am happy with the results, especially since I got to turn it in to a beer float.

Beer Float

This recipe is from the Los Angeles Times and can be found here.

One year ago: Rosemary and Sea Salt Soft Pretzels
Two years ago: Spicy Turkey Burgers
Three years ago: Chipotle-Lime Glazed Shrimp

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Robata JINYA

Now that pilot season is in full swing, I'm finding it more and more difficult to have a social life. However, a girl has to eat and a girl also has to make time for friends she rarely gets to see. So last week, I was able to find some time in my hectic schedule to finally check out Robata JINYA. For a long time, the best place to get ramen was on the west side of town, but with Robata JINYA and Ramen JINYA, eastsiders and Valley residents no longer have to make the trek for a decent bowl of noodles.

For my first visit, I went pretty simple. To start, a glass of Sapporo.


We shared the shrimp toast appetizer ($7.80). The shrimp were sweet and plump in between the toasted bread.

Shrimp Toast

I love that you can order a half portion of ramen which for me was more than enough. I went with the spicy tonkatsu with thin noodles and light broth ($5.80). I believe the addition of an egg was a dollar extra as well as some seaweed for another dollar. Next time I'll skip the seaweed, but the soy marinated egg added an extra layer of richness to the already rich porky broth.

Spicy Tonkatsu Ramen

Egg and Seaweed

There are a ton of other non-ramen options on the menu and since this restaurant is now on my new route home from work, I'm hoping to explore much more in the near future.

Other bloggers who enjoy Robata JINYA
Gastronomy Blog
Bun Boy Eats LA
Midtown Lunch

Robata JINYA
8050 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 653-8877

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

Recently, my pal Olga at Mango Tomato tweeted about a pancake recipe she was making. It just so happened I was in a mood for breakfast for dinner that day, but couldn't decide between biscuit egg sandwiches or pancakes. Olga paired her pancakes with boozy fruit, but I decided to go with a different spin. To clear my freezer and also to avoid my general dislike for too much sweetness in breakfast, I served my pancakes plain. The melted chocolate within the delicate pancake was all I needed for a touch of decadence. This is my new favorite pancake recipe and I can't wait to try it again with a different combination. I'm thinking a strawberry sauce could be my next plan of action.

One year ago: Farro with Garlicky Braised Kale and Prosciutto
Two years ago: Healthy Black Bean Dip
Three years ago: Spicy Black Bean Cakes

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes
(Adapted from Joy of Baking)

Makes 4 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 large egg. lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Extra melted butter or cooking spray for cooking

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and 3 tablespoons melted butter.

Create a well in the flour mixture, stir in the liquid mixture and stir to combine. Mix lightly. It is okay if some lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Heat some butter or cooking spray in a nonstick pan or griddle over medium high heat. Use a 1/3 cup measure to spoon out the mixture on to the cooking surface. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until small bubbles appear on the surface. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or two until the pancakes are lightly browned. Serve warm topped with powdered sugar or maple syrup if desired.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cookies and Cream Brownies

Cookies and Cream Brownies

I'm almost convinced that the only reason people invite me places is because they know I will make them some sort of treat. Of course my sparking personality helps, but more often than not, I feel the invitation comes with an unspoken note of "so what are you bringing?". For the Superbowl, I did not want to disappoint. I first discovered this combination on Pinterest and couldn't wait for the opportunity to cook for a crowd so I can make them on my own. I used the base brownie recipe from the Rocky Road Brownies and then topped them with the cookies and cream buttercream. These are amazingly rich and over the top, but worth it for a fun night partying with friends. 

Cookies and Cream Brownies

Other Cookies and Cream Brownies from the Web:
Mint Cookies and Cream Brownies from Alida's Kitchen
Cookies and Cream Brownies from Baking Bites
Cookies and Cream Brownies from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Cookies and Cream Brownies
(Adapted from Martha Stewart, Mignardise and Baseball, Baking, and Books)

Makes 16 brownies

For the brownies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
8 crushed chocolate sandwich cookies

For the buttercream:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
7 crushed chocolate sandwich cookies

To make the brownies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.

In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine butter and 1 cup chocolate chips. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat; stir in sugars and salt, then eggs, and finally flour, stirring just until combined. Fold in the crushed cookies. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the brownies in the pan for five minutes. Transfer the brownies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the buttercream:
In a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and then the cream until the buttercream has reached the desired consistency. Fold in the crushed cookie pieces. Spread the buttercream over the cooled brownies. Chill the brownies for at least 20 minute before serving.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Serious Eats' Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice

Serious Eats has long been one of my favorite websites for food news, reviews, and recipes. It's one of the websites that inspired me to start blogging nearly four years ago and I turn to it often for inspiration. At the end of last year, Serious Eats published their first cookbook and did a series of posts on some of the recipes. This one caught my eye immediately. It's been a while since I've been to New York, but I have vivid memories of these Halal carts, even though I never had a chance to try them.  It's good to know I can have this deliciousness without having to fly all the way to New York. The chicken is savory and flavorful while the rice has a slight warmth. The sauce at first taste, may seem too sweet, but really works when mixed with the rice and chicken and cools everything down. I didn't have any Harissa on hand so I used Nando's peri peri sauce which worked well. I have a major aversion to iceberg lettuce so I used butter lettuce which added that nice crunch. I will definitely be making this again when I get a craving for street food at home.

Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice

Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice

One year ago: 8oz Burger Bar
Two years ago: Asian Turkey Cabbage Cups
Three years ago: Greek Turkey Burgers

Serious Eats' Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce
(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Makes 6-8 servings

*Note: The original recipe says not to marinate the chicken for more than four hours or it will turn mushy. I marinated for two hours

For the chicken:
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
5 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (8 thighs)
1 tablespoon canola oil

For the rice:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
1 head butter lettuce, shredded
1 tomato, diced
Pocketless pita bread, brushed in butter, toasted, and cut into strips
Hot sauce

To make the chicken:
Whisk the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and add half of the marinade. Turn the chicken to coat. Marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Reserve the other half of the marinade in a large bowl.

Remove the chicken from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for ten minutes, turning once, halfway through. It may be necessary to do this in batches. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let the meat rest for 5 minutes.

Chop the chicken into 1/2-inch chunks. Add the chicken to the bowl with the remaining marinade and toss to combine. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

To make the rice:
Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the rice is lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Cook until the rice is tender and the liquid has absorbed, 15-20 minutes.

To make the sauce:
Whisk together the mayo, Greek yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the entire contents of the chicken bowl to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Serve the chicken on a pile of rice. Top with the white sauce and hot sauce. Serve with the lettuce, tomato, and pita strips.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Valentine's Day Options in Los Angeles

People much less jaded and cynical than me are getting ready for Valentine's day. Between the Groupon/Living Social/Bloomspot etc emails and PR pitches, I've been reminded that the one day you can show you love someone is coming up. I've never been a fan, though I did have a great time last year cooking a simple dinner for a fabulous couple. However, if going out is much more thing and you don't mind fighting the crowds, here are some options for a nice evening out in the city of angels.

Mezze in West Hollywood is offering a $65/person prix fixe menu with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine per person. Options include a merguez flatbread, foie gras terrine, and white bass among other things. To make your dinner extra decadent, truffles can be added to any dish for an additional $30.

Naya Restaurant and Lounge is also offering a prix fixe menu at $55/person.You start with a rose water scented champagne cocktail ("Love") and move on to a five course meal with fresh bites like the amazing sprout street salad or butter chicken masala before moving into the lounge for an after dinner "Lust" cocktail and live entertainment.

Not all restaurants are offering prix fixe menus. Ombra Ristorante has many delicious options to choose from like risotto with rose petals ($17) and cannoli ($3.50/each).

My favorite new restaurant from last year, MB Post will also be offering some TBD specials as well as their wide variety of small plates.

On many lists as one of last year's favorite new restaurants, Picca Peru is serving up a prix fixe truffle menu. for $79/person with delicacies like truffle-stuffed grilled chicken, quinoa risotto, 63-degree truffle-infused egg.Wine pairing is also available for an extra $24/person.

If you're looking for a more casual option, Rush Street in Culver City is making a whole weekend out of Valentine's Day. Starting with a Calling All Singles Soiree on February 11th. Who knows, maybe you will meet a special someone in time to enjoy one of the above options by the 14th.

Lastly, for all the cynics/do-gooders, Caroline on Crack is hosting a Love Stinks karaoke party at Neat Bar in Glendale. There will be $6 Absolut cocktails and karaoke singing with a firing squad. The best part of this party is that a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Share Our Strength which raises money to end childhood hunger.

So there you have it. Whether you choose to stay at home or go out, I do sincerely hope you enjoy your Valentine's evening...while I'm stuck in the office...working.

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