Homemade Gnocchi

Gnocchi with pink sauce

When Mr. T says there's a specific food he likes I start searching for ways to make it. We've had gnocchi for years, but only recently has Mr. T comme...

hakata_ramen

Hakata Ramen

In a previous post I wrote about the delicious-ness that is ramen. Today, I return to talk about ramen add-ons. Beyond the basics of ramen, the sou...

mendocino_farms_prosciutto

Mendocino Farms

4724 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292, 310.822.2300 http://mendocinofarms.com/ Mr. T and his co-workers have a great tradition, once a week ...

Tar and Roses

Tar and Roses

602 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA http://www.tarandroses.com/ Every Friday night Mr. T picks a place to eat for our date night, it gives me so...

Gnocchi with pink sauce

When Mr. T says there’s a specific food he likes I start searching for ways to make it. We’ve had gnocchi for years, but only recently has Mr. T commented how much he likes gnocchi. So, I was excited when I read this recipe for gnocchi on smittenkitchen. I had the ingredients and I didn’t need to purchase any special equipment to make it! Score!

I started making this receipt in the afternoon since I knew this would take a few hours, baking the potato alone took about an hour. While this took me a few hours to make this time, I know it will be much easier next time around, especially when I’m not working on a powerpoint project at the same time.

grated russet potatoes

beginnings of gnocchi

Gnocchi Quarters

SmittenKitchen’s recipe says to add 1 1/4 cups of flour but I found my dough was almost perfect after the first cup of flour. I added approximately 1/8 cup  more and the flour seemed to be at the needed consistency. When I rolled out the dough I added some flour on the cutting board to help with rolling. I believe it helped to not add the full additional 1/4 cup of flour or the dough may have been too dry.

Rolling the Gnocchi

Rolling out the Gnocchi

Gnocchi Line-Up

LIttle Gnocchi Nuggets

Mr. T also loves pink sauce so that’s what went with the gnocchi. I’m still looking for the right pink sauce. Something with the perfect blend of spices and cream, without being too heavy. I can’t say whether Pioneer Woman’s sauce was that perfect combination, since I had to alter the sauce a bit–I didn’t have fresh parsley and only had dried basil. I think the fresh herbs would have enhanced the flavors in the sauce.

Gnocchi plopped in pink sauce

Homemade Gnocchi and Pink Sauce Dinner

Hakata Ramen

In a previous post I wrote about the delicious-ness that is ramen. Today, I return to talk about ramen add-ons.

Hakata Ramen

Beyond the basics of ramen, the soup base, noodles and pork, there are other components that restaurants put in. What the other components are vary from restaurant to restaurant. I’ll elaborate on my favorites, sometimes these add-ons are optional, and sometimes they come with. At Hakata Ramen, they provide the eater with options not always available at other ramen restaurants.
Ramen Lunch "Menu"/Options
However, for lunch there is only one type of soup base (I didn’t mention before the wide array of soup bases. To learn more go to Rameniac’s site.).

I always get a hard boiled egg, which is my favorite type of egg, bold or strong soup base, and some of the extras if available, like mushrooms (mushrooms should be in every meal), and bamboo shoots. While the ramen would be excellent without all of these extras, these additions just add a bit more texture and flavor to the soup. Mr. T loves spicy food, so he usually opts for the spicy soup base, at Hakata Ramen you can order the spicy sauce on the side, so he was able to try the soup as it normally comes to see what the broth tasted like, then proceeded to add a lot of spicy miso to the mix.

Good stuff! This may be Mr. T’s favorite ramen place to date!

Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi
2015 W Redondo Beach Blvd
Gardena, CA 90247
(310) 329-1335
www.shinsengumiusa.com

Mendocino Farms

4724 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292, 310.822.2300
http://mendocinofarms.com/

Mr. T and his co-workers have a great tradition, once a week they go to lunch together and try out a restaurant in the area. Sometimes it’s a new restaurant that someone has heard or read about, sometimes it’s just a random restaurant in the area. The benefit for me, is that Mr. T tries out various restaurants and then takes me to the good ones! Win, Win!

Mr. T talked about Mendocino Farms for a few months and said it was a really good sandwich shop. Normal people would think that sounded like a great idea, but I’m not a big fan of sandwiches. I would rather that my carbs come from rice or pasta and for my foods to be much more flavorful than typical sandwiches. Bread, mayo, mustard, cold deli meat… bleh! If I do decide to eat a sandwich I would prefer that it have a lot of flavor and be hot.

So, the idea of going to a sandwich shop wasn’t really tempting to me. However, since Mr. T was so excited about it, I of course was willing to try it as a good wife.

I was a bit confused at first by their menu and structure. When you enter the restaurant you get into a line where 1 or a few people are waiting to take your order. However, I had to step out of line a few times because I was secretly hoping there were other items than just sandwiches. The lady who was taking our order was very helpful, but I quickly realized I was only going to get a sandwich.

So, I decided to eat the most flavorful looking sandwich, the Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi, and Mr. T ordered the Prosciutto & Roasted Chicken sandwich, a sandwich he hadn’t tried before.

Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi

Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi

I was pleasantly surprised by my sandwich. There were a lot of textures and various spices, the ciabatta was soft and chewy, and the meat was tender and flavorful. I’ve never eaten a real Banh Mi, so I cannot speak to the authenticity of flavor, but I would suggest this sandwich to others. In fact I did! Right after eating at Mendocino Farms we walked a few stores down to Sees Candy, and ordered a little “basket” of chocolate… an enjoyably, simple dessert.

Prosciutto & Chicken Sandwich

Prosciutto & Roasted Chicken Sandwich

Another surprising element was the soda, Mr. T usually orders Diet Coke to try and cut down on sugar, since he drinks so much soda. I hate the taste of fake sugars and usually only sip the Diet Coke if I’m choking necessary. I was desperate for something to drink so I sipped the diet soda he had and it was pretty good! I don’t remember the name of the soda, but if you like/don’t like diet sodas you’ll notice a difference in the taste of this soda.

Would I go again to this restaurant? Maybe. I’m still not very keen on sandwiches, but I did discover that they don’t only serve sandwiches. At the back of the restaurant, by the cash registers are various salads and other “sides” and soups that would make a great meal. I would probably try that next time.

Tar and Roses

602 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA
http://www.tarandroses.com/

Every Friday night Mr. T picks a place to eat for our date night, it gives me something to look forward to each week! Our schedules are busy, especially Mr. T’s so our Friday date nights are the highlight of my week. This week we went to Tar and Roses, a restaurant I’ve been eyeing for a couple months now. Using the Chefs Feed app I discovered that the Chef’s name is Andrew Kirschner.

The vibe of the restaurant is trendy and dark had great mood lighting. We ate in the back room, which was cozy, especially since we shared the room with a large party of about 20 people (an office party I think, wish my office did something like that!).

The hanging lamps in the room were large glass blown lamps with Edison light bulbs (if I remember correctly). The walls were (faux?) brick, which gave the room style and warm. I like brick in buildings, it just makes a building feel old and comfortable.

The service was good, especially considering the one server had about 4 tables, and 1 large party!

When looking at the menu I always look for a few things. 1. Food I’ve never tried before, 2. Something unique to the restaurant, 3. Something popular at the restaurant (I always ask the server what their favorite dishes are and what is popular) and 4. Anything with mushrooms!

So what caught my eye at this restaurant were the crispy pig ears. They satisfied 2 of my criteria, though Mr. T was a bit skeptical, but he’s used to my methods and is willing to try new foods with me.

20130103-190514.jpg

The crispy pig ears were not at all what I was expecting. They were in strips like French fries and were not as crispy as I thought. I was secretly hoping for chicharones… My secret, guilty pleasure. The pig ears were very flavorful, and the dipping sauce of aioli and saffron was very disappointing. Since I love spice and flavorful food I asked for a side of rooster sauce and used that instead. It tasted better after that!

Interim Cafe

Mr. T and I recently moved to Santa Monica to help with our daily commute. Our previous community was gorgeous, surrounded by mountains and lots of hiking trails. It was a quiet city, which was my desire after growing up in “The Valley”. “The Valley” has many benefits including lots of diversity in cultures and foods. However, there were also too many people and cars and TRAFFIC!

We moved to an area that is a compromise of sorts. We have a lot of stores within walking distance, which is a big change from our previous community, there’s a bit of diversity, but a lot of good restaurants within walking distance. Tonight I decided to walk to Interim Cafe, a little cafe within an office/apartment-like building.

I initially walked by it, because it didn’t look like a restaurant. But when I doubled back I realized that it was the cafe I was looking for. I was skeptical, but decided to try it anyway. I ordered the “Woodsy’ Mushroom Killer Quesadilla, I will order anything with mushrooms!

The quesadilla came with a side salad made of mixed greens, jicama, strawberries, some type of nuts and seeds, something that tasted like corn nuts, and a very flavorful, light dressing. The salad was very tasty with a lot of different flavors and textures mixed in. The salad had a lot of spice and left my mouth with a slight burn.

The quesadilla was topped with a corn, tomato, avocado salsa with green chile, cilantro and Cholula. The quesadilla was made from a wheat tortilla with, possibly, mozzarella cheese, sautéed, and possibly pickled, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. The menu said the quesadilla was made on a pizza stone, which attributed to the crispy edges of the tortilla.

I was impressed with the food and the flavor of the meal. I’m not sure if the men who made the food and took my order own the cafe, but they were nice. I heard the customer in front of me say that their soups are amazing. Next time I’ll have to try them!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

About 4 years ago I had a very bad experience with our tv cable provider. One day our cable suddenly stopped working, so I called the cable company, and spent weeks on the phone with them, restarting the cable box over and over again. Finally they believed that it wasn’t a user issue, and they sent a technician to come out. It turns out our next door neighbor had moved out a few weeks prior and the cable company had come out to disconnect their cable. Unfortunately, they actually disconnected our cable instead!

We spent another year with cable and then cancelled it. Unfortunately, we can’t even stick an antenna in the roof to get basic channels. The only reasons I really miss cable are The Food Network, Divine Design, and when the olympics roll around.

Fortunately, the iPhone app is able to slightly satisfy my appetite for The Food Network, slightly. The other night I watched Giada At Home and she made a pasta with roasted zucchini, squash and cauliflower. I love zucchini and squash, and have always wanted to try cooking cauliflower. This roasting method seemed very easy, so I decided to try it.

I forgot to take pictures of the finished pasta product, but I will definitely be making this dish again. Yum!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta
Adapted from Giada at Home

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water. Drain when done.

Slice a zucchini, yellow squash and half a small cauliflower into small pieces (approximately 2 inch pieces) and chop a garlic clove and place all of the vegetables and garlic onto an oiled (using cooking spray) sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat, and arrange into a single layer. Then put this into the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. After this is done cooking you can sprinkle salt and pepper. A tip Giada gives in the episode is to salt the vegetables after the cooking or else the salt will draw out the natural juices in the vegetables and can end up steaming instead of roasting the vegetables.

Brown a little bit of meat, I had sausages in the freezer, so I thawed these and browned them up in a skillet. I transferred the meat to the (currently empty) pasta pot and put some vermouth in the skillet to pick up some of those browned pieces stuck to the pan. I then poured this into the pasta pot as well.

Once the vegetables are done, place them in the pasta pot, put the pasta on top, and put a 1/2 cup of grated parmesan in and toss it all together.

Then whisk together approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 Tbs red vinegar, 2 Tbs dijon mustard, 1 Tbs honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. and pour this over the pasta mixture and toss again.

Then enjoy!

Chicken Tarragon Fricassee

I always seem to have either too many fresh herbs or no fresh herbs in my house. Some herbs, like basil or cilantro, are easier for me to use up, and not completely waste. However when I need just one sprig of tarragon, I’m at a loss as to what I should do with the rest of it. So I did a google search to find other tarragon recipes and came across this one on theKitchn for Tarragon Chicken Fricassee. According to Webster’s dictionary, a fricassee is “a dish of pieces of meat (as chicken) or vegetables stewed in stock and served in a white sauce”, which to me sounds like a thick soup. I guess that’s what it ended up being, I ended up with a lot of leftover sauce, but that may be because I would rather have more of a rice dish than a soup. Guess that might defeat the purpose of a “fricassee”. For those that like to drench their rice or noodles with sauce, making a fricassee is probably for you. One note, is to use a large pan to cook all of this. In hindsight it would have made things much easier if I had use my dutch oven instead of a larger skillet, namely so I could easily put the chicken into the sauce for the second cooking without spilling sauce all over my stove.

Tarragon Chicken Fricassee
from theKitchn
Serves 8

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (I used half butter and half olive oil, I figured the heavy cream later would cover some of the butter flavor)
10-12 pieces of chicken (I used 11 thighs, the original recipe calls for 1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 onion, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup white wine or champagne (I used vermouth)
2 cups chicken stock
4-5 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large braising pan over medium to medium-high heat. Coat each chicken piece in flour, tapping to remove excess, and add to the pan. Generously season the pieces with salt and pepper. Cook, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is lightly golden but not browned, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high, pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the stock, chicken pieces, and tarragon sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken is very tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil.

Increase the heat to high and reduce the cooking liquid by half; then turn heat to low. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Whisk a few tablespoons of the hot chicken liquid into the egg yolk mixture, then pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Stir the minced tarragon and lemon juice into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with egg noodles or cooked white rice. Garnish with additional tarragon leaves, if desired.

Mexican Salad – so cal style

Mr. T always wants to have a mexican salad, he grew up eating them and really likes them. I never grew up eating them, and don’t really pay a lot of attention to them when they’re on a table (think potluck). But I had a lot of leftover hard shell tortillas and decided to make a mexican salad for him. I did a quick internet search and found an epicurious recipe which looked good, and it was good! I did make some slight adjustments, namely because I didn’t have all of the ingredients, and quite frankly I didn’t want to buy radishes and jicama for this one dish.

When I asked Mr. T what he thought of the mexican salad, he stated that he liked it a lot; but it was more like a “west coast” version of the mexican salad. Maybe it needs fritos or thousand island dressing to make it a real mexican salad.

Either way, this was a great salad for a warm summer night.

Starry Kitchen

Starry Kitchen

I love looking for restaurants, especially ones that are close to me. It’s fun to discover good places to eat, and to have a map of places I want to try someday. When most normal people plan trips they look for museums and historical locations to view, and I do look for those things.. for Mr. T. who loves history and can actually remember all the things we see and read. However, I am more interested in the food and discovering more about the local culture through the restaurants and markets.

When I had a conference in Downtown L.A. I decided to look at my map and find someplace to eat. I had to find a place within walking distance, and so came across Starry Kitchen. It is a fun restaurant with interesting food, atmosphere, and people. The menu is listed on the board, and you order your food first, then find a table. It’s in a business district and there were many people in line, so I felt a bit anxious to quickly decide what I wanted to eat. The menu is interesting with items like garlic noodles and crispy tofu balls.

While the food wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, the atmostphere was fun.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Every week Mr. T and I get together with a group of friends for dinner. This group of friends are couples from church who