Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Al Fresco

It was a hot Sunday.
There are wild fires everywhere in our state yet I am so fortunate to be close to the sea to benefit from the sea breeze and was able to enjoy the day instead of worrying about where to evacuate. Life can be so cruel. This is why it is so important to enjoying every moment.
Spending the day in the back yard with such a lovely sea breeze was a choice and a blessing. BBQ with natural charcoal was just a bit too hot to coordinate in this hot weather so the dishes are cooked in our kitchen and enjoyed al fresco.

French Toast With Raspberry Coulis

Demi French baguette
2 Eggs, whisked
Cream Fraiche
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Raspberries, black berries and blue berries, as desired.
Dry red wine

Whisked eggs with cream fraiche
Dap bouquet in whisked eggs, make sure it Is not too soggy
Butter heavy bottom pan and sauté both sides of the baguette until golden brown.

Pour over Raspberry coolie and serve.

Raspberry Coulis
Cook red wine in a saucepan until boiling
Reduce heat to medium low
Add fresh berries
Stir occasionally until it thickens
Remove from heat.
Add a splash of Cointreau if desired.

Mozzarella and homegrown tomato herb salad

It is incredibly rewarding to harvesting your own backyard crops and to make them an important part of your culinary experience. You can pick them fresh just before you cook them. They taste better and there is no worry for how Frenken and how much pesticide they have since you are the one who gets to make the decision on where you get the seed, how you want to grow, and care for them. Further, by growing your own crops will reduce carbon emission and packaging material waste since they don’t need to be trucked or shipped and you don’t need to drive anywhere to buy them. If you choose to guard the pests with organic methods, this will also reduce pesticide run off and reduce pollution. Over a meal, it always make a fun and captivating conversation topic.

Mix organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl rigorously until it turns emulsion. Pour over the plate with a spoon as desired; add fresh ground black pepper and sea salt before serving.

Rib eye steak, caramelized onion compote with penne and French green bean

Caramelized onion compote
In a hot heavy bottom pan, add 3 tablespoons of butter, chopped shallots and sweet onion until color turn translucent and light brown. Add ¼ cup dry white wine and ¼ cup brandy. Remove from heat when it is just beginning to reduce. Season it with sea salt and pepper as desired.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Awakening Birthday Dinner

For my birthday dinner, I decided to put my recent awakening into action by making some changes with my grocery shopping habits.

The ingredients were composed from last minute shopping at Venice Wholefoods Market. I was so thrilled to take the steps to make changes by selecting “local” first then “organic”. I picked a free ranged duck and some organic green figs both from local farms, some domestic prosciutto instead of the imported one I usually get, and some local organic raspberries with mouthwatering fragrance. Since it is impossible to buy products without the conventional packaging, I decided to start with the breakfast cereal. I was so excited to find all the crunchy and tasty cereals at the grain section and got a few different mix instead of my all time favorite, Dorset Cereal. Dorset Cereal is so yummy and hard to give up, however, it does come all the way from Dorset, England, with a few boxes a week, there are quite a bit of packaging materials wasted and it does increase carbon footprints. By selecting local producers in loose bins seems to make better sense here. It was a positive process as I stock up my shopping cart.

I am fortunate to have choices and I can made conscious choices, not just to pay less for more, but making choices to support local farmers so they can be more productive with more natural products, to reduce carbon emissions, and to eat ingredients that are more natural, free of antibiotics, supplemental growth hormones, animal byproducts feed, long-lasting chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

To select a bottle of wine to pair was challenging. I don’t care for wine produced in southern Californian. Since it is my birthday, I decided to make one exception picked up a bottle of Schnaitmann Rosé from my favorite wine region, Württenberg, it has lots of fruit, dry, well balanced, and absolutely delicious!


Crispy prosciutto and calimyrna figs with caramelized balsamic vinegar

Duck breast with fresh raspberry coolie

Lime tart

Friday, August 14, 2009


I decided to write this after reading Financial Time, Aug 12, 09, on the analysis column, A new twist on Life. After genetically modifying our food, restricting what seeds farmers can use and when they can use them, our Frankenstein scientist are now going into the ocean to modify algae for bio fuel. Not only that, species can be converted from one to another by “genome transplant”; an artificial chemical system that will evolve and self sustain in a couple year? Without strong ethics and strict control and over sight from governments and people, where these remarkable scientific discoveries will lead to is unthinkable.

I am well aware of Franken produces and meats traveling long distance to supermarkets still look perfect and pretty; they don’t smell or taste what they are supposed to. It is also known to me that the animals are kept in a confined space in factory farms. Yet it was awakening to learn what is going on in CAFOs. In order to convert farm animals to meat cheaply and quickly, concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, were introduced to factory farms. A typical CAFOs, would house 1152 chickens in a 6X8 foot room, caged and stacked to the ceiling, and never see grass or sunlight. Animals get physically stressed so they get their routine antibiotics in their feed in order to ward off diseases, and the amount of manure they produce, the health impact, and the pollution this creates??? It is frightening.

While we are enjoying a memorable dining experience, Thanksgiving feast or back yard BBQ, we are also indulging ourselves with doses of antibiotics, pesticide, and GM crops, and the side effects are still unknown to us. In addition, we are indirectly creating pollution and increasing carbon footprints. I had to ask myself if I can still buy the groceries the same way I always do without making changes.

Coming from a food rich culture, I am passionate about gastronomy. I want my food to come from resources that is honest, fair, clean, and the natural way. I can’t change the world but I can change my little world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zenato Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripassa 2006

...Of course the bottle is empty...

I came across this excellent wine while waiting for my girlfriend at Cafe Ugo in Culver City. It was surprisingly delightful, balanced, easy to drink yet just complex enough to challenge your palate with a refreshing finish. At $29 a bottle at Wholefoods, it will not disappoint you.

Pacific Barracuda

Just around noon on this beautiful summer day, my neighbor knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted some freshly caught pacific barracudas; he just came back from sport fishing trip…lucky him!

As I approached his front yard, there I saw three 3-feet long strong, fresh, and handsome fish. He insisted for me to take two of them. After I took them home, I immediately cleaned them up without hesitation.

Barracuda is not a popular fish to be served in restaurants. Only the pacific barracudas do not contain fugu toxin. It is rare to get them so fresh that you can actually enjoy the intense flavor of the fish instead of wondering if the fish has gone foul.

A throughout cleaning is imperative. I always gut, clean, cook, or throw them in a very cold ice box immediately if we catch them ourselves, this helps to keep them fresh and flavorful. Cooking with skin on is OK but I usually don’t eat the skin.

Here is a simple receipt to cook this gorgeous ocean beast:

Scour the fish with a few cuts, top and bottom
Put fish in a oven bake pan
Splash generous amount of olive oil on the fish
Season with sea salt and freshly grounded black pepper
Slice heirloom tomato, different colors make the dish look visually exciting
Sliced yellow and red bell pepper
Well cover the fish with vegetables so they will keep the fish moist.
Add few tweaks of fresh sweet majoring, thyme, and oregano
Sprinkle capers on the veggie bed generously. I love them.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes at 350 F. Check the fish with a fork to make sure it is cooked. Try not to over cook the fish or it will taste flaky and dry.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frida Mexican Cuisine in Glendale, CA

We arrived at the grand and airy setting of Frida at Glendale for lunch and were welcomed by the friendly staffs. Frida at Glendale offers casual hang out for margaritas and wonderful chips and salsa, green salsa was the preferred choice for us. The service was great, decent Mexican cuisine; it makes a nice stop before or after shopping.
The Americana at Brand 750 Americana Way
Glendale, CA 91210
(818) 551-1666

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

GJelina on Abbot Kinney

My hand chopped lamb burger was grilled to one’s liking, sandwiched between arugula, a slightly spicy herbal seasoned red sauce, and pain rustic was to die for. The skinny fries are lightly seasoned with herbal sea salt cooked to perfection, my standard, of course. I have visited Gjelina twice so far, the service is consistently impeccable yet very friendly and casual cool. The décor is arty Italian country modern with lots of aged wood, table and floor. We love the clear light bulb chandelier above the bar! The space is airy, comfortable, and it just always offers a delightful dining experience.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-1429

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cafe Ugo in Culver City

What I love about this place is the tasting room with automatic wine tasting stations. You can taste as many or as little wine from the tasting station as you like. The ambiance is cozy, relaxing and casual. The food was OK on the tasting room side. A great place to hang out, try some new flavors and you don't have to shout to have the conversation.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Perfect Herring

I am crazy about fish roes. These elegantly shaped herring roes can be found in most of Japanese markets in southern California. They are perfect when you feel the need to challenge your palate with an extraordinary crunchy texture.


Roe Dressing
Caper, a few
Parsley, few leaves, finely chopped
Paprika, a dash
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons or as desired
Zest of lemon

For Salad:
Micro greens, as desired

Salad Dressing:
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons or as desired
Muscat vinegar, a few drops
Freshly ground sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Soak the roes in water for ½ day. The ones in the Japanese market will require at least ½ day of soaking.

Mix the roes and the salad dressing separately then set them aside.

Sauté the roes in butter and olive oil in a large pan until brown and fully cooked. Make sure not to over cook the roe or it will be tough.

Place the cooked roe in a serving plate. Drip the dressing over the roe for taste and presentation. Arrange salad next to the roe, pour over the salad dressing and serve.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Sexiest Carrot

Thanks to the local farmer's market and the heirloom culture, we now can get carrots in fun shapes, vibrant colors with uncompromising flavors. Not only they are sexy looking and fun to cook, once you bite into them, they will change your mind about how carrots shall taste.