pork and chive dumplings

Wednesday, 8th, 2016

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Did you know that making dumplings has a therapeutic effect? Maybe not on all people, but it definitely does at our place. Because we spend so much time behind screens, it’s nice to take a break and actually make something with our hands. It’s even better if that something is edible and delicious.

I came across Hey There, Dumpling! when I was shopping for Danny Bowien’s book on Amazon. There’s actually not a lot these two books have in common besides the fact that Asian guys wrote them and they are both books about Asian food. (Good job Amazon algorithm!) Danny Bowien’s book is not a cook book. There are recipes in it, but the book is actually more of a biography / series of interviews that let you learn about him. Hey There, Dumpling on the other hand is a recipe book. Not just for dumplings, but noodles and buns too. So of course I bought it.

The addition of this book at home is what sparked dumpling making for us. It’s become a great way for the 3 of us roomies to bond when we get home from a long day at work and have something yummy to eat afterwards. We’re not experts and we’ve only made the first 2 dumplings in the book so far, but we’re really enjoying it.

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The pork and chive dumplings we’ve been making are exactly that. Ground pork, chives, scallions, ginger, garlic, onion. Combine those ingredients with soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to over night. Then start placing the meat in the dumpling skins. Deep fry. Not a shabby way to spend a week night.

arcadia: henry’s cuisine and nest tea house

Monday, 6th, 2016

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Last weekend in Arcadia, mom wanted to try a new restaurant that her friends had been recommending, a Cantonese restaurant called Henry’s Cuisine. Henry’s Cuisine is taking the place of many other cafes before its time, most of which I remember being good but forgettable. Just your standard Hong Kong style cafe food, but not having any qualities that make you want to go back. Henry’s is different. We pigged out at Henry’s and ate dishes I’ve never heard of or tried before. And I’ve eaten a lot of Chinese food in my time, especially having gone to China multiple times. This place is definitely worth going to, but have at least 3 people in your party so you can try multiple dishes. As always with these restaurants and this one is no exception, you’ll be dining family style.

Here’s what we ate:
Deep fried salted pig feet – for those of you who automatically think “gross” when you hear pig (or any other animal) feet, that’s okay. But you are missing out on life. I’ve had pig feet before, mainly served steamed. This is my first time having fried pig feet and it might be my most favorite way to enjoy it.
Sautéed shrimp with salted egg – these are huge pieces of shrimp cooked with duck egg yolk. It’s a salty and very rich dish. Delicious, but definitely should be shared.
Pan fried seafood and udon in XO sauce – your basic chow mein dish, which is basically delicious.

For dessert we had Hong Kong egg waffle which is also a typical dish at Cantonese restaurants. It’s fluffy and light but not super flavorful. I like breaking off the little “egg” pieces individually.

Later at night we went to Nest Tea House, a newer tea place in the area. We got a rose green tea with mango jelly. The mango jelly was start shaped! The tea was also very good, I’ll definitely be going back.

chicago in spring

Thursday, 2nd, 2016

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One should always jump at the chance to visit Chicago (unless it’s winter time) because it’s a food lover’s dream. The number of restaurants on the “must visit” list is a long one, especially since the city is home to a lot of America’s best restaurants. I mean, Alinea is there. Even though my visit to n/naka was a bit overwhelming, I’m looking to knock Alinea off my list because ::spoiler alert:: I’d like to eat that sugar balloon in the first episode of Chef’s Table Season 2.

Last week I was sent on a work trip to chi town and I planned my meals accordingly. On the first night, we visited Girl and the Goat. It’s still my favorite restaurant so far and lucky for me the menu was different from when I last visited a year ago.

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Here’s what we ate:
chickpea fritter – garam masala yogurt. sugar snap peas. asparagus. sheep’s feta.
pinn oaks lamb tartare – english pea tapenade. tuna aioli. dill crackers.
goat empanadas – miso-blue cheese aioli. squash-apple slaw. – this was my favorite. The empanada was perfectly crisp and the goat inside tender. Ours was topped with strawberry and surprisingly it was an amazing combination.

To drink:
petit verdot blend. girl & the goat . 2012 . walla walla

While we were at Girl and the Goat, some people at our table let us know that the line for Au Cheval, which was basically across the street was always an hour long. Apparently their burgers were worth the wait. The next day we went there for lunch. Since we already snacked during the 1.5 hour wait, my coworker and I split the cheeseburger with bread and butter pickles and thick cut peppered bacon. It was good, but really, really heavy as one could expect. I’m glad we visited but probably won’t be returning. On another spoiler note, did you guys notice Grant Achatz eating here in that episode of Chef’s Table?

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Chicago has a lot of desirable food establishments that New York has. I didn’t realize Magnolia Bakery was one of them. We made a stop there for some coffee and cupcakes. This one reminded me of the kind Kristen Wiig’s character made in Bridesmaids. Pretty and delicious.

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Another favorite is the Purple Pig. We went during an odd hour in the late afternoon and got seated promptly. It’s the type of place you need to go to at 11 am or 3 pm. They don’t take reservations and people always want to eat there.

Here’s what we ate:
Antipasti: Calamari, Fregola, Radishes, Cucumbers & Pistachios
Smears: Pork Neckbone Gravy with Ricotta
A La Plancha: Squid stuffed with Prosciutto

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All in all a good trip with plenty of Garrett’s Popcorn and Eataly gelato in between.

n/naka

Thursday, 19th, 2016

I watch food programming religiously and I don’t discriminate where the content comes from or where I watch it. I’m a regular viewer of Munchies but will also happily watch reruns of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I like Guy and I don’t care what anyone says. I also watched Season 1 of Chef’s Table about 3 times. n/naka is the only restaurant on Chef’s Table that is located in LA, and it’s on the west side no less. In fact, I used to live on the street that is the intersection of the restaurant, and pass by it walking to yoga every week.

As much as we love food, the bf and I don’t usually splurge on it. We do our research, visit new places, but usually just order the special or their signature. I’m not the fine dining, 10 course meal type of person, but felt like we had to try n/naka. Because until we make it out to Fäviken, I don’t think we’ll be experiencing meals from any of the restaurants featured on the show.

If you’ve watched the n/naka episode of Chef’s Table, what the food journalists and experts say very clearly capture the experience. It’s a similar experience as listening to a symphony, just as they described. However, unlike them, I surprisingly don’t have the stamina for it. By about the 8th or 9th dish, I was really full, pretty drunk (I had opted for the wine pairing, which was marvelous but obviously a bit too much for me) and basically exhausted. The meal lasted from 9 PM – midnight.

Don’t get me wrong. The dishes were some of the best flavors I have tasted in my entire life. Like I said, I just don’t have the stamina for such a meal. If you do, then I highly recommend making a reservation.

Below is a sampling of the dishes in the meal. I can’t remember the components of every single dish, but you can see how beautiful and painstakingly well crafted they are.

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And a collage of the meal from yours truly.

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Maple Block Meat Co., Culver City

Tuesday, 10th, 2016
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Another relatively new eating establishment in Culver is Maple Block, which I finally got to try with some girl friends the other night. Barbecue is somewhat of a rare treat for me, definitely not a meal I eat regularly. I learned from watching shows like Mind of a Chef and reading Jim Gaffigan, that there are different styles of BBQ depending on the region. Each region has their own signature style. Maple Block serves wood-smoked meats, focusing on the technique of smoking and incorporating subtle flavor profiles into their BBQ. They serve the sauce on the side. I discovered that I’m more of a saucy type of BBQ eater and wasn’t in love with this drier, smoked style. Usually the sides that come with BBQ are just as if not more exciting than the meat. The sides we had were just okay. For some odd reason everything tasted better as leftovers the next night. Here is what we ate:

Market Greens – fennel, kalamata olive, orange vinaigrette. Served as a nice relief to the heavy food (which is why we ordered it) but nothing to write home about.
Buttermilk Biscuits – probably my favorite part of the meal. They’re fluffy, not too heavy, and the whipped honey butter on the side is money.
Mac & Cheese – between 3 ladies we only needed the half order, contrary to what the waitress said. We ended up with a full, which was way too much. The Mac & Cheese has a cheddar crumble on top but a strange, slightly sweet aftertaste. Not my favorite.
Beef Brisket – 1/2 pound. Decent brisket, it comes with 3 thick cuts. But not the best I’ve had.
Pork Spare Ribs – 1/2 rack. Definitely too much food for us, so I ate these the next day and they were okay. Again, not a huge fan of dry BBQ. Curious to hear from those who do, and if this place hits the spot and does it right.

Dranks
A can of Hell or High Watermelon beer – can’t go wrong.

More BBQ eye candy from their Instagram.

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hatchet hall, culver city

Monday, 2nd, 2016

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Everyone has a favorite restaurant in their neighborhood. Mine closed in 2014 and has now risen from the ashes in new form. Waterloo & City is now Hatchet Hall. Fortunately for me, it does not disappoint. Even though the menu is distinguishably different from what they used to serve, I still really enjoyed it. It’s not the same kind of love, but I still have love for the restaurant for sure. So now onto what we ate:

DINNER
Country Ham: simple, salty and delicious.
Benne Yeast Rolls: rolls topped with seal salt, served with honey butter on the side. The honey butter is legit.
Smoked Trout Croquettes: smoked trout gribiche with lemon. Yummy, but a small portion. Order two if you have more than 3 people in your party.
Chicken Liver: onion jam, grilled bread, pickled ramps, apple vinegar. My favorite dish of the night. Better than the one at Bestia IMO.
Beef Sirloin: snails, green garlic, peppercorn, creamed potato. It’s beef sirloin, usually you can’t go wrong. They got it right, and the snails are an interesting, tasty addition. (I’m usually not a fan of snails).
Cauliflower: salsa rustica, breadcrumbs

DESSERT
Benne Bread Pudding: butterscotch, butter pecan ice cream. OMG. If you aren’t going to come here for anything else, you need to come here and eat this. Best bread pudding I’ve ever had. I’m telling you, that Benne Bread is something else.
Peanut Butter Buckeye Pie: chocolate sorbet, peanut brittle. Like eating a pie of Reese’s but not as sweet. I love Reese’s so I was sold.

COCKTAILS
Redcoat – bourbon, lemon, honey, cider. Delicious for those who enjoy bourbon and honey. (Which is basically everyone).
Pimm’s Cup No. 37 – gin, strawberry, lemon, cucumber. Surprisingly refreshing and not too sweet.

Check out the full menu and go get that Benne Bread Pudding.

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Visuals from their lovely Instagram.

the slow cooker is my new best friend (and should be yours too)

Friday, 13th, 2015

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The end of daylight savings is great in the sense that we all got to sleep in an extra hour the night before. But not so great when you think about the fact that we’re losing an hour of sunlight in the evening. Also it’s going to be cold now. (Or at least as cold as LA can get).

A lot of people have mentioned the comfort of coming home to a slow cooked meal. The pot already did all the heavy lifting while you were at work, and now you can just help yourself to some dinner after a long day at work. I recently tried using our slow cooker for the first time, and it’s true. It’s seriously one of the best things ever invented.

A coworker recommended this Fragrant Garam Masala Chicken Stew. I’ve made it twice now, and it’s so good. Indian food is a favorite of mine, and this one is relatively easy to make. However, I haven’t gotten over the insecurity of leaving the slow cooker on all day. Most recipes call for about 6 hours, and no one is home from work within 6 hours of the day. What I’ve done instead is making the recipe at night, and go for the 2-3 hour option. It’s done before midnight and I pack it up and have it ready for the next couple days.

Try it here.

[Image credit Better Homes and Gardens]

two summer snacks to make now

Saturday, 1st, 2015

I’m a snacker. Streaming a show or reading blogs isn’t the best experience unless you have a snack while you’re doing it. Instead of eating chips or popcorn (which is a bad habit I picked up this summer) I found 2 really easy snacks to make that are yummy and a way healthier alternative.

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The first is Zucchini Rounds with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato. You slice up zucchini into circles so that there’s enough surface area to top with a bit of goat cheese and some sun dried tomato. After you load up a plate of these, season the entire thing with a little bit of salt, pepper, cayenne and olive oil. Enjoy.

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The second is Roasted Squash with Garlic. Cut up a squash into cubes and throw them onto a sheet pan. Cut up garlic and do the same. Sprinkle squash and garlic with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Generously. Pop in the oven for 13 – 15 minutes and check in to see if you want your squash to crisp up a bit more. Also make sure you toss them around. Bake for another 2 – 5 minutes depending on your preference for crispness. Serve.

what to make: week of june 14

Monday, 15th, 2015

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Last week was long. Last week was long and I was moody for most of it. It’s the regular lady blues I get monthly along with a plethora of new projects at work. Although exciting, it’s also tiring. But I’m feeling a lot better and happy that I got to catch up by working at a coffee shop Sunday evening. When it’s not packed, Coffee Tomo in the Sawtelle neighborhood is a decent place to work and they make the cutest lattes. Their chocolate chip cookie is soft and does not skimp on the chips. Not a bad situation.

This week should be better, so here’s to a better week and a continuation of the meal planning! There’s a lot of salads in here because I’m going to Mexico over July 4th weekend and wearing a swimsuit will be no joke. So here goes:

Grain bowl with lentils, tofu, cherry tomatoes, feta and boiled eggs. There’s no recipe to link to for this because I made this recipe up in my head. Post on how it goes to come later.

Crunchy Chicken Salad. Basically an Asian chicken salad, but I’m sure making it yourself is healthier than ordering out.

I’ve been meaning to make guacamole for weeks now. This one incorporates mango and jalapeno. Yes please!

Beef, Bean & Beer Chilli. To fix my summer BBQ food craving.

Friday night I made a Strawberry Romaine salad that came out beautifully. Will most likely make it again this week and share.

I received a bunch of ice cream recipes that don’t require an ice cream maker. Awesome, right? Here’s one for a Nutella flavored one.

Have a good week everyone! Can’t believe we’re already halfway into June.

Photo via Audrey’s 

how i like to make moscow mules

Sunday, 14th, 2015

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Everyone has a go-to drink, the one they order by reflex whenever they’re out. Sometimes that drink changes, but everyone has a go-to in their pocket at all times. Mine used to be the Moscow Mule, and although I’ve since transitioned into bourbon based cocktails, the mule is still an old favorite. Get some copper mugs and make them at home, the ingredients are simple:

2 oz vodka
1/2 oz lime juice
5 oz ginger beer
a sprig of mint and lime to garnish

My two favorite types of vodka to use are Russian Standard or Tito’s. As for ginger beer, Bundaberg is best.

My favorite places to order a Moscow Mule in LA are:
The Culver Hotel in Culver City makes a Cucumber Mule with American Harvest vodka, lime juice, fever tree ginger beer and some muddled cucumber as their signature touch. Happy hour is on weekdays 4-7 PM.

Lock & Key in Koreatown makes an Irish Mule from Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey, in addition to the regular ingredients plus some orange bitters.

The Varnish downtown adds candied ginger into their mule giving their version a spicy bite at the end.

What’s your current go-to cocktail?