Monday, November 22, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Devoured...

One of my favorite shows to veg out to (aka drool to) is The Best Thing I Ever Ate... on the Food Network. You might think at first glance that they are just trying to sell other people's restaurants, but then.... you try the foods suggested and you completely recant any doubts you ever had! I've been lucky enough to have tried a few. I have to sincerely and graciously thank my parents for allowing me to indulge in these extravagances. Now, I know I'm a grown ass woman who works for a living and doesn't need to depend on my parents; however, for birthday gifts and restaurant suggestions I ask them to take me to said places. So, thanks again Mom and Dad!

My first pit stop in my "Best Thing I Ever Devoured" was the garlic noodles from Crustacean. The reason for the visit was the first of my "mid 25's" birthday parties. On a side note: I'm not ready to say that I'm turning 30, so from 29 on to 35 I plan to say mid 25's. Anywhoo, I asked that my parents take me to Crustacean for my family birthday party, rather than getting a birthday present. I had first heard of Crustacean on this episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Sometime soon after that I was talking to fabulous Sheryl and she was telling me how she thought the noodles were delicious as well, her brother Will had introduced their family to Crustacean a while back.I want to take this moment to thank Will and Sheryl Smith (now Norris), Duff Goldman, the Food Network, my sister, her boyfriend, my boyfriend, and last but absolutely not least, my parents for introducing and sharing this wonderful experience with me. YUMMM. Now you might ask, do these noodles really taste this good? If you like hand-made Chinese noodles and garlic, then yes. It is totally worth the trek to Beverly Hills. And if you are on a fairly tight budget, which I am without my parents and birthday celebrations, then the noodles as a side dish or lunch are totally affordable. Everybody at that table concurred that those noodles were delicious. We even asked the waiter to bring out another dish of the garlic noodles. Mind you we ordered two to start. The rest of the meal was pretty delicious too. But those noodles....

The second pit stop is again thanks to Duff Goldman. I didn't actually go to the restaurant he suggested, but I did try the food at our family favorite sushi restaurant: Sushi Gen in Los Angeles. The food: Sushi? Nope, had my share of wonderful sushi. It was fried shrimp heads. After 29 years of watching my mom enjoy fish heads, crab "brains", fried shrimp heads, and other odd foods, I finally had my first shrimp head at Sushi Gen. Now I have to say that I do enjoy shrimp, it took my taste buds a little while to enjoy those crustaceans, but I finally came around and oh so glad I did. The same goes to fried shrimp heads. Thank goodness I took the initiative to try them. My mom and I like to order Amaebi when we go to sushi. This translates into raw sweet shrimp, the sushi-ya will then ask miso soup or fried. When they ask this, next time say fried and order the miso soup another day. The shrimp head miso is something to be reckoned with as well, but variety is key. If you like crunch and shrimp flavor, then you have to try this if you haven't already. It does take a little bit of ignoring the shrimp eyes the first time to get through that first bite, but afterwards you'll be glad you did. On the episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate... Fried", Duff orders a plate full of shrimp heads. I don't think my stomach or love handles could handle that many, but more power to ya Duff!

The third stop on this little trip of mine lends us to Bouchon. If we go back to first episode I mentioned of "The Best Thing"  we will come across Tyler Florence's best dish. The salmon rillette at Bouchon. Thank you Thomas Keller! Delicious French food that's available to us Americans. On our last family trip to Las Vegas we made a stop at The Venetian's offering of Bouchon. The original is Yountville, Ca, but somehow Vegas was more accessible. My Mom decided to order the salmon rillettes for dinner even though it's an appetizer. It's definitely decadent enough to cover your caloric intake for the day, so for dinner? Why not. Everything about that dinner was absolutely amazing!!! My chicken was probably the most moist delectable piece of chicken I've ever eaten. I know, boring chicken. But it was far from boring. My Dad ordered the pork and was amazed and delighted. Michelle ordered the bouillabaisse, and as far as I could tell, she was happy too. Everything from the fresh roasted pistachios, to the dessert plate, and definitely the salmon rillettes was absolutely scrumptious.

I have many more pit-stops to make. In fact I have a list. And even a plan to visit Oregon for apparently the best Thai food. If you've been inspired to take a food adventure, you should start ASAP, because life is short and your taste buds are waiting.

Bon Appetit!

Next time I'll post pictures.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yay for book clubs!

I have been involved with a fabulous book club for the past year. We have read some fantastic, and not so fantastic books. While trying to explain to my co-ed softball team why I can't make some Fridays due to book club, I got some funny looks, and some interests in starting another book club. Apparently, in the guy's world book club is something nerdy people do. And according to the ladies, it's something fun to do. In my world? It's a perfect opportunity to drink some wine, eat some good food, and have great conversation.What's not to love? Okay, so it's a bit nerdy. I'm a proud nerd :)

So I've organized another book club to include another set of fabulous ladies and I added an element of food. Well, not just me. My wonderful, marvelous, amazing friend Sheryl thought of this too. For our first official read for this new club I picked out a Spanish novel. It's not written in Spanish, but written by a Spanish author and translated into English. It's called The Wrong Blood by Manual de Lope. It looks intriguing and emotional.

The element of food comes in when we meet for book club and have a potluck style dinner. Since I'm hosting I'll make the main course which I am taking as a perfect opportunity to try to make paella! Part of my problem is that I don't eat beef or pork, and most recipes call for chorizo. Which I'm sure tastes delicious with the saffron and seafood. Another part of the problem, or challenge, is that there is a different kind of rice you are supposed to use. I'm confident that I can at least make a tasty rice dish! Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thoughts of a sick woman

Today I called out sick. I'm pretty certain I have a very mild form of the stomache flu. I almost didn't call out sick, but then I thought "Hmm, what if I up-chucked on one of my clients? Not a good idea Marsha." So I stayed home and felt sickly all day. And what did I decide to do? Watch Food Network. This makes total sense right? Feel so sick that nothing sounds appetizing, so let's watch tv that focuses on lots of food that I can't eat. But that's how much I love food. Food Network, Top Chef, Jacque Torres, Emeril, etc. is what comforts me. Even when it sounds awful I want to watch and be immersed. Guess crackers and water will have to suffice...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Falling behind for Fall

AKA: Experiment Failed.

I know that I've fallen behind in my blogging. I've had plenty of ideas, and topics, but not inspired to write for some reason. Which led me to push through and post a blog for fall and re-commit myself to one blog a month. 

Witty pun and successful recipe. 

I wanted to make a Fall inspired recipe and use a fun pun of "falling behind for fall" whilst creating a successful recipe.  

Witty pun? Eh, failed or success dunno. 
Delicious successful baking recipe? Definitely failed. Of course as always I tasted my failed experiment, not once, but twice. 

 What did I decide to experiment with? Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter and boxed cupcakes. I really wanted to make a cupcake filled with pumpkin butter and topped with pumpkin spice icing. Where did the experiment fail? Where I initially thought it would. But went ahead anyways.
I tend to do this in life. Despite my better judgement, I will sometimes act on impulse. My better judgement was that the pumpkin butter would be too heavy and sink through the cupcake, or mess up the batter and not allow it to rise. The batter rose, but the filling fell through. In hindsight, I shoulda carved out the center of the cupcake post-baking then added the filling. But that ran into the problem of icing. Icing would not have looked good with a gaping hole in the cupcake stuffed with filling.

 Hmm, dilemma dilemma. 

Maybe I should just stick to tried and true recipes?

If you want to fail like me, or attempt to improve upon it, here ya go:

  • Heat oven as directed by cupcake mix, I set mine for 325 F because I use dark muffin tins
  • 1 box of yellow cupcake mix
    • 1 1/4 cup water
    • 1/3 cup oil
    • 3 eggs
  • 1 jar of pumpkin butter
  • Greek yogurt or cream cheese to mix with pumpkin butter
  • 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • pumpkin spice to taste
Top View: See all the pumpkin spice goodness?
So close....

Mix cupcake batter as directed, put in muffin cups. 
Mix 1 part pumpkin butter with 1 part greek yogurt. I didn't have any plain cream cheese, so I used greek yogurt which I find to be a good substitute when cooking. 
Add dollop of pumpkin butter mix to cupcake batter.
Bake as directed
While baking make icing. Mix sifted powdered sugar with 1 tbsp milk and pumpkin spice to taste.

Let cupcakes cool, then drizzle with icing. 

Argh, pumpkin filling at bottom :(

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Insert laziness

Remember when I told  you I was lazy? Well here is my proof. Even though work has been a little slow (due to summer time). If or when I go to the gym its not until late evening. My social life isn't brimming with tons of events. But I've yet to post anything. It's really that I'm lazy, and sometimes I'd rather not have anything on my to do list. But, as with all good intentions, I've been meaning to post. Thought about it. Started a few sentences. Made a couple of notations. But alas, nothing to show for it until now! 

I had a couple of witty ideas, but my laziness ruined the timing. Sometimes, or a lot of times, timing is everything. So to recoup from my laziness I figured I could just post a few of the recipes/cooking adventures that I've done over the past few weeks. 

Well meant post #1:
"Zucchini part deux"

To answer Suburban Cowgirl's question, here is what I did with part of the left over "Hulk".


This was pre-baked, but you get the idea
  • Whole wheat pizza dough (I used whole wheat Boboli, 'cause I was short on time, and it was on sale)
  • approx. 1/2 cup of sliced grape tomatoes (or any type of tomato you enjoy) 
  • approx. 1 cup zucchini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil  (enough to toss veggies)
  • herbed goat cheese
  • mozarella (I used 2 packs of string cheese, 'cause I didn't have any real mozarella)
  • fresh basil
  • salt to taste
  • I think thats it, but who knows. Add whatever suits your fancy
Heat oven to 450 degrees
Chop garlic. Slice tomatoes in half. Slice zucchini about 1/4 inch thick. Toss veggies, garlic, olive oil, and salt to taste in bowl. Spread on cooking sheet and roast in oven for about 10 minutes, or until veggies look done. The tomatoes should "pop" a little, but not burnt. 

Spread goat cheese on dough and top with roasted veggies, and dot with mozzarella cheese. Lay fresh basil leaves on top of pizza and add salt to taste. Bake for approx 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Then commence eating. 

Well meant post #2:
"Sun-dried tomato creamy pasta"

Forgot to take a picture before I started eating.

  • 3-4 cups Pasta of choice (I used whole wheat rotelle, but I usually opt for penne rigate)
  • About 1/4cup to 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped, if desired
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shreeded italian cheese (I like the four cheese mix with fontina, pecorino romano, parmesan, and mozzarella)
  • Salt to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, heat medium sized skillet on medium. Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes with oil in pan. Not all the oil from the jar, but what stuck to the tomatoes. This should be about 1 tbsp or a little more. And add the garlic. Cook until tomatoes warm, but not burn, watch out especially for the garlic. Burnt garlic is no bueno. Turn down heat to low and add flour. You may need to adjust this depending on how much oil is used. Then whisk oil and flour to make a roux. Once the flour cooks, about 2 minutes or less, add milk in small splashes. Whisk milk and flour until sauce is creamy, not lumpy, and thick enough to your liking. Then add shredded cheese. You can toss the cheese in a little bit of flour which will help it from clumping all together. Whisk cheese and sauce until sauce is all emulsified. Add salt to taste, I usually hold out on the salt here because the cheese is pretty salty. Then pour sauce over cooked pasta and eat :) 

Well meant post #3
"Brussel sprouts made yummy"

  • 4 cups brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter
Clean and steam brussel sprouts, set aside. 

Candied pecans:
Heat medium skillet on medium heat. Add pecans, stir frequently (you want to heat the pecans in the pan to release the natural oils). When the pecans are warmed, add sugar and stir constantly. Continue to stir until the sugar adheres on the pecans and the pecans become coated with sugar. Set aside on wax or parchment paper. 

Quarter brussel sprouts. Heat pan on medium. Add butter. Heat butter until browned. Not burnt, but browned. Brown butter is delicious! When the butter becomes brown and smells nutty, add brussel sprouts and pecans. Toss and serve. Then eat, and enjoy if you dare to eat brussel sprouts. 

A few words on my recipes. I'm not a chef, and so my recipes are kinda jumbled. I did my best to be clear and concise, but that's hard when you cook whimsically. I'm not sure if I do cook whimsically, but I like the way it sounded. Most of my recipes are just thrown together. I come up with what I want to eat, then use my small artillery of techniques to execute. When it comes to baking, I try to follow the recipe the first time then adjust as I need (especially if my ADD acts up and I need to improvise). 

I hope you enjoy. Let me know if you try any out and how it goes, and include if you made changes so I can steal your ideas ;)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dennis and the giant zucchini

My coworker Dennis asked me the other day if I enjoy zucchini. My answer? Why yes, yes I do. Why do you ask Dennis? Dennis then brings me this ginormous (giant/enormous) zucchini from his home garden. It's the size of a friggin watermelon. Not even kidding. I think he adds steroids to his vegetables. Maybe I should dub this zucchini the Manny Ramirez of squashes. Second thought maybe I'll call it the "Hulk". Apparently I like to give my foods proper names.

What do I do with the Hulk? Make zucchini bread of course! Yummy! I love zucchini bread. Maybe because it combines cake and vegetables and the title makes it sound healthy. In case you didn't know, zucchini bread: not so healthy. It does have fiber and the pecans add omega-3 fatty acids. I'll just ignore the sugar and oil that also goes into the batter.

In this baking adventure, I think my ADD kicked in, because while mixing the batter and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I forgot to add the oil in. Ooops. So the batch of muffins I did came out a little wonky. Wonky or not wonky, I have to taste my creations. What if I stumble upon a new fantastic recipe? Not such a fantastic mistake, but not a disastrous one either. I quickly responded once my memory cells kicked into gear and realized that I forgot the oil. This meant grabbing the loaf I put in the oven and dumping the batter back into the batter bowl to then add oil. This is also not such a good idea in the baking world.

Baking usually follows rules. If you don't mix the ingredients in the correct order or the correct temperature, it can equal another wonky creation. Normally my zucchini bread is deliciouso. It's not an original recipe, I got it from this cookbook, which I love. It's really old, but handy.

After baking times had finished, I taste tested my wonky creations. My decision? Pretty tasty, nothing that is going to be a revelation to the baking world, but definitely edible. How edible? Enough that I ate two muffins to "taste".

Now I have to figure out what to do with the other half. Maybe some sautéed zucchini pasta?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I recently had an opportunity to travel to New York. Ahh, the mother-load of good eats. Not discounting LA food at all, but I'm used to it, and New York provided me with a mecca of delicious treats that was almost overwhelming. What can I say? NYC I <3 your food. I'm only feeling slightly guilty about my love for NY, LA you just own another part of my heart. The main thing that warmed my heart was the bagels. Not just any bagel. Ess-A-Bagel, bagel. Thank goodness I got to meet up with my dear friend Katie that was only happy to meet up with me to share the Manhattan bagel experience with me. My travel group didn't quite understand my love of food and my search for this bagel experience.

Let me describe this bagel, maybe we should capitalize this, it deserves it's own pronoun. Now, let me describe this Bagel. I ordered the everything Bagel: poppy seeds, salt, garlic, onion, and sesame seeds, they might have included some bagel magic too, who knows? The crust, was let me say, crusty. Such a perfect thin crunchy crust. The bagel, sorry, Bagel was still warm from baking. They don't toast at Ess-A-Bagel. And quite honestly they don't need to. Normally, I love toasted bagels (no capitalization here), this way they get warmed up and have that little crunch you need to counter the soft doughy-ness of the center. But like I mentioned earlier, the Bagel (capitalization here) was still warm from baking. Ahhhh... I opted to add Lox, tomato, and cream cheese to this. This was vacation food remind you. I felt I could indulge. And I did. The Bagel was huge, tasty, and warmed my soul. How can you pass this up?

I don't think I quite understood what the West Coast was missing from bagels. I've had wonderful and fresh bagels from the Western Bagel Factory in Van Nuys. Which, if you ever have the chance, they are pretty decent too. But alas, nothing compared to this Bagel. We really are lacking here. I had another bagel in NY, but it was just your ordinary fresh bagel. So they miss out too. How they can sell these sub-standard bagels in NY, I don't quite understand. I've heard of a few other great bagel shops in NY, Jersey, and Brooklyn so I'm not discounting these. Maybe not everyone wants to be a bagel elitist. I might have been conformed though. I'm now a bagel snob. *sigh*

In leaving as a bagel snob, I've decided I must go back to New York to have a complete, or more complete food tour. The Bagel was just a skimming of my food adventures in NYC. Plus, I need to go back to experience the other burroughs. Maybe to find the best pizza pie.

P.S. I apologize for the poor food photography. I was so excited to taste the Bagel I forgot to take a picture before I took a bite, plus I'm not so good at the photography. Eating, yes. Photography, no.