Do you ever hit a road block when you're trying to figure out what to make for dinner? It happens to me on weeknights here and there, but it hardly ever happens when I know in advance that people are coming over. In fact, I get really excited about the prospect of cooking for others and have so many recipes I want to make that I have to reign it in. Yesterday, however, was totally different. I must have flipped through 15 or so cookbooks, spent a good hour on Foodgawker, yet nothing grabbed me. We finally decided to hit the Pasadena Farmer's Market and hoped inspiration would hit while we checked out the produce.
The second I read about a new, wood-fired pizza place opening up in Los Feliz, I bookmarked the page and made a mental note to get there as soon as possible. First of all- the name of the restaurant- Mother Dough- just grabbed me. You see, the dough is- by far- the most important element of any pizza (to me, at least!) and after reading about how their recipe was sourdough-based, I knew we had to try it. J LIVES for sourdough and he also loves a good, thin crust pizza, so there was no question- we were going.
Just a quick post to catch you up on what I've been making lately. Sorry to have not posted in a week, but it seems all I've been making are those Peanut Butter Crispy Bars which I've already blogged about twice! I did take some quick pics of other things I'd made, so although a proper post is coming up, I wanted to fill in the gap with these breakfast items.
Just a quick post to give Los Angeles a big 'ol pat on the back for raising a whopping $15,484.00 during the Bakesale For Japan for Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims, which will be distributed via Peace Winds Japan. Who would have thought that image-conscious Los Angelinos loved sweet baked goods so much, ha?! I'm happy it was such a success, and I had a fantastic time participating. Thanks SO much to everyone who came out, said hi at the Pasadena location, and tweeted about the event. I'm eagerly awaiting the final total for the entire, nationwide bakesale, and I think it's going to be a BIG number!
Highlights from the Pasadena location (Chef's Center of California):
Look at all of the homemade goodies! WOW!
My little friend H is doing a little quality control.......
Sampling to make sure it's good.............
It's approved! Just look at that smile!
Some of the most creative and fun treats included these amazing sushi cookies from Sabrina's Sweetery
I picked up a few to share with the sushi chefs at my regular spot, and they loved them.
If you're a food blogger, you've probably already heard about Saturday's nationwide Bakesale for Japan. If you haven't, I'm here to tell you about it!
On Saturday, April 2nd from 10:00am- 2:00pm, bakers from around the U.S. will be selling their homemade goodies at various locations. The price of each item is up to the buyer- donate as much as you feel is appropriate. Of course, the more generous you're feeling, the better- all proceeds go to Peace Winds Japan to help the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.
If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know how close Japan is to my heart. It's where I was born, where I learned to play the piano, had my first real job; met my husband, my best friend and my cat Cory. It's where I had my first apartment (it was the size of a bathroom but I loved it anyway!) and spent countless nights drinking beer and hanging out with friends until 4:30 am after having missed the last train. It's also home to my obaachan (grandma) who, at 101, is still hangin' out down in Osaka. Japan holds so many precious memories for me, and I have many friends and family members there. Luckily, none live up north and they escaped the worst of the disaster, but seeing the devastated faces of my fellow Japanese is still utterly gut-wrenching and I'd love to do anything to help. I hope you will too:).
Last week, I took my maiden voyage to the great city of New Orleans. My best friend M was my partner in crime since she'd lived there for six months a few years ago and had been itching to get back. When you tell people you're going to New Orleans, the recommendations start coming almost immediately about where to eat and what to eat. Having seen my fair share of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I had a few ideas myself, and M and I set out to sample as much of NOLA's amazing cuisine during our short, 2.5 day trip. Fried oysters, here we come!
I've baked a lot of cookies, cupcakes, cakes and pastries over the last few years, and the items that seem to get the biggest reaction are things that take people back to their childhood. When I made a version of Ding Dongs for my former coworkers, you'd have thought I handed out $100 bills- they were damn near in happy tears over the chocolate cupcakes with the little squiggle of white icing on top. Freshly baked apple pie wins hands down over something fancy from a French patisserie, and these Pop-Tarts may have beaten them all. I guess nostalgia minus artificial colors and flavors plus home baking = happy people.
It seems I rarely blog about my "regular" places- as in, I only post about special-occasion restaurants. I guess if you get coffee at the same shop three times a week, it never occurs to you to whip out the camera. However, we all keep going back to the same places because they're GOOD, and the other day I was thinking of how I should stop taking them for granted and start blogging about the places that keep me fed and happy all the time! I mean, isn't it nice to go to a restaurant knowing that you're going to get great food and service? So here's my tribute to one of those places: Daisy Mint in Pasadena.
Ok, you're probably wondering what the stink bugs are all about. Let's just say there is a first time for everything, and my trip to Mexico City last weekend contained many firsts, including eating the tiny little critters as part of a fantastic tasting menu at Pujol. I also had Mexican wine- several different kinds- for the first time and it blew my socks off - it was THAT good. My friend R said it's still almost impossible to get it here in the U.S. but I hope that changes soon. There is some amazing wine being made there and it's about time the world got a chance to taste it!
This dessert is everything you'd want in a bar: creamy, sweet milk chocolate and peanut butter sandwiched between a thin layer of rich dark chocolate and another of Rice Krispies. We could just simplify and call them Crack Bars, because once you try them, you'll want them. All the time. Every day. Then pretty soon you'll find yourself in a room with Candy Finnigan while your family looks on wringing their hands and being all weepy. Yup, you're in some serious trouble.
Wow, unemployment sure is busy! It's amazing how little time I seem to have these days to take photos of what I'm cooking. I guess I'm also cooking a lot less since J is on the road, so I tend to eat the same things (chicken, Mexican doria which is a baked rice dish I just made up, egg whites, toast) so it isn't very interesting.
My sister recently wrote a post, "The Secret Life of Twins," about growing up as an identical twin, and since I'm the other half of that pair, I thought I'd feature her post here. Her blog, An American in Ireland, chronicles her move to and life in Ireland as an expat and is filled with funny stories of culture shock mixed in with culinary adventures and lots of Irish slang that will leave you scratching your head. Or noggin. Is that what they say?
Ah, The Super Bowl. It might be the second biggest eating "holiday" in the U.S. after Thanksgiving. I'm not really sure where the tradition of stuffing your face while watching football started, but I'm not complaining about it! I mean, any excuse to eat while watching TV can't be bad (for your soul...but it could be bad for the body!) plus the food gives the football haters something to focus on while the others scream loudly at the television as if the referees can actually hear them. Which is probably why I made SO much food yesterday. As you may know from reading this blog, J is a musician. As you can probably guess, none of his musician friends watch sports of any kind. So the food was the reason they came, while only a couple of us actually watched the game. It was a win-win for everyone (OK, maybe not the Steelers...oh well...).
I don't know why I but I always make way more food than necessary, whether it's for a special occasion or just a regular ol' night. You'd think I was cooking for the Duggars (that family that has like, 100 kids) but I guess I always feel it's better to have too much that too little. Of course during the 4th hour of cooking I often wonder what the hell I was thinking, but then I get out of the weeds and it all works out. Isn't that the joy of cooking?! I just have this need to feed people...it's what makes me happiest, so I'll come up with any reason to cook mountains of food as long as there are people willing to eat it.
I went through a cinnamon-roll-making phase two years ago, right after I started reading the amazing and uber-popular blog, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I spied this recipe and decided to make cinnamon rolls for the first time in my life. It was so easy and so fun that I made them every week for the next month. I think my husband, friends and colleagues refer to that time as The Fat and Happy Period...as in, they were fat and happy, not me....wait, as in they were fat emotionally with happiness from eating the cinnamon rolls...oh well, never mind. You get the idea.
We recently had some friends over for dinner so we'd have an excuse to open up some wine that we received as a present. Our friend Jesse's parents, who live in Boston, were kind enough to send us some T-Vine Psychedelic Rooser Zinfandel-Petite-Sirah, so we invited Jesse to come and share it with us. What goes well with such big, bold red? Beef!
About two years ago, J bought me a blowtorch for my birthday. No, I'm not going all Flashdance on you with dreams of becoming a food-blogging welder- he figured I'd need it in case I ever wanted to brulée something. I think the main motivation for him to buy me the torch was because he wanted me aburi something. Aburi means "flamed" in Japanese, and if you go out to sushi often you've probably seen the chef whip out his blowtorch and lightly sear the top of a piece of salmon, toro or mackerel. The heat of the flame melts the fat in the fish and creates a beautiful, soft, fatty flavor and texture. If you haven't had the chance to try any aburi sashimi or sushi, make sure to request it next time because it is, in a word, heavenly.
I'm finally posting about the mini-vacation J and I took to Palm Springs last month. It was only my second time in the desert town, and I have to admit I wasn't the biggest fan before this last trip. My sister and I decided to make our maiden voyage to Palm Springs last August, and although I was aware that it gets really hot I wasn't prepared for the blistering desert heat. Don't know what I'm talking about? Preheat your oven to 500, wait 30 minutes, then open the door and stick your head in it. There- you've just experienced Palm Springs in summer. Awesome, right? NOT!
Last weekend we had the pleasure of having our nephew, Jake, come and stay with us for one night. He's a freshman in college and asked J if he had a bass guitar he could borrow, so I jumped at the chance to reduce our number of basses (I lost count after 20, but to be fair, J is a bassist!) and told Jake to hurry over. Since he lives in the dorms and probably doesn't get a lot of "real" food, I texted him and asked what he'd like to have for dinner.
Me:Hey Jake, if you could pick anything in the world to eat for dinner, what would you choose? Don't say "whatever" either! Jake: My favorite food is seafood, in particular shellfish, and even more in particular, mussels
I was going to call this post, "The One With The Terrible Photos" but I didn't want to turn you away before you could get an idea of how wonderful the food at BLD Restaurant is. So, I changed it to what you see above, and you'll simply have to close your eyes and imagine the lovely plates of food I'm going to tell you about, because clearly these photos do them no justice whatsoever. Trust me.
Do you tweet? I have to admit, I'm slightly addicted to the social networking site, Twitter. It's a great way to converse (albeit in 140 characters or less!) with fellow food bloggers, chefs, hospitality publicists and other people who share my love of food and dining in our great city. Many restaurants have started to use Twitter to promote special happy hours or menu items, and BLD Restaurant took it one step further and created a weekly Twitter contest called Tweet-A-Dish. All you have to do is think of what you'd like to eat for dinner and tweet it at @BLDchefD. If Chef Diana Stavaridish chooses your idea, she'll put it on the menu that Thursday night and you + 1 guest eat for free. Pretty cool, right? It's like owning your own restaurant and having an item placed on the menu especially for you. What do Kobe Bryant and you have in common? You get a customized dish at a cool, Los Angeles restaurant on the menu. Ok, I think you get the idea.
If you've ever dined at a Japanese restaurant, you've probably had a miso-glazed fish of some sort..most likely miso-glazed cod. It's ubiquitous on most Japanese or sushi restaurant menus, and I really think it's because it is just plain delicious. The dish is also very easy to prepare and uses ingredients found in most Japanese kitchens, so you can see why it's a regular on so many menus. Now it can be a regular in your household too!
Happy New Year everyone! It's a rainy day here in Los Angeles on the 2nd day of 2011, so I thought I'd take the time to post some pics from our annual Japanese New Year meal that my parents have at their house and J looks forward to for about 12 months. We all do, because it's tradition, and happily for a family of food lovers, it's awesome to sit and eat many different kinds of Japanese goodies that make up the osechi meal. Although my mom's version isn't 100% osechi, the meal contains many of the dishes that make up the spread of traditional Japanese New Years foods.
Are you ready for a photo fiesta of Japanese delights?!