Help Fight Childhood Hunger

I will be participating in Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale to help end childhood hunger along with the Abs of Cakes.  Childhood hunger is a bigger problem than we know it to be in America.  One in three people served at a food bank is a child.  

If you would like to support the cause please come to First Fridays in Long Beach.  We will have a table inside the Gallery Expo and we will be selling treats such as petit fours (tiny decorated cakes), salted caramel brownies, and s'mores.  I will also be hand-making Valentine grams for sale (when was the last time you got or gave one of those?)  All proceeds will go to charity.  Please support this great cause.  It would mean a lot to these kids and their families.   

Happy Hour

Express top, boutiqued sunglasses, H&M jeans and scarf, Michael Kors watch, F21 earrings, Seychelles shoes
Limbert's awesome combat boots
Firecracker wings
Chinese garlic noodles with shiitake mushrooms
Bernaise sliders

Sometimes during the week you just need to go to happy hour, and sometimes during the week you need to go more than once.  One of my favorite places to go to is the Yard House.  It's simple, classic, has good food and good vibes.  I go to the one located nearest to me and happens to be the first one built in 1996 in Long Beach.  It overlooks the docks and Downtown Long Beach.  I think it's the perfect place to be between 5-7pm to watch the sun set and enjoy a cold glass of beer.  They have a large array of beers and if you're feeling up to it you can do a yard-long beer, hence the name Yard House.  More than the beer, I like to go for the food.  It is consistently good and tasteful.  I usually get the Chinese garlic noodles and any of their wings (they're all good) and share them with friends.  Stop by and you may spot me here during happy hours.  If you do, join me for a beer.

The Yard House Long Beach
401 Shoreline Village Dr. 
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 628-0455

Bottega Louie

If ever you are in Downtown Los Angeles you have to stop by this cafe/restaurant/patisserie/bar/market, Bottega Louie.  This place has it all.  A cafe for breakfast, a market for lunch, a bar for happy hour, a restaurant for dinner and a patisserie for a sweet, late-night snack.

As soon as you walk in you are mesmerized by the pastry case and, oh yea, I have to put my name down for a table.  On your way to the host an open-view kitchen takes your attention.  Finally, after you put your name down you sit at the bar with a martini and chat with the bartender while you wait for your name to be called.  The host calls your name.  On your way to your table flying dough catches your eye, a pizza maker in the back of the restaurant is tossing dough.  No wonder they have such minimalistic design, there's so much action going around you.  Here are a few glimpses of my experience.

 portabello fries ($9)

diver scallops in proscuitto with beluga lentils and salsa verde ($25)

 asparagus with fried egg and parmesan ($9)

 trenne with braised ribeye and black kale ($15)

hanger steak with black truffle sauce ($18)

   chocolate souffle ($14)

 assorted macarons and eclair

The food was at a higher caliber than other Italian restaurants that I have visited.  Possibly the atmosphere played a role, but none the less the food was definitely superb.  The famous fries made of portabello mushrooms attract people from out of state.  The dehydrating technique that they put into the trenne pasta dish gives it a perfect crunch.  The diver scallops were crispy on the outside and moist and tender inside.  The hanger steak was well seasoned and tender.  The vegetables on top of the steak were so fresh.  Lastly, the sweets... a perfect ending a wonderful meal.  The server elaborately drizzled our creme anglaise into the souffle.  It was so light and rich at the same time.  A solo espresso with the souffle was enjoyed.  

I enjoyed my experience so much that I wanted to savor it when I got home so I bought a box of macarons.  Special thanks to my friend Chef Kenneth for the sweets.

700 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 802-1470
no reservations taken

Bottega Louie on Urbanspoon

Gorgeous in Green

Watching the glamor and the sparkle of the Golden Globe Awards ceremony the other night left tingles down my spine when I saw the stars come onto the red carpet with their gowns and bowties. One in particular gave me inspiration to create this board. Angelina Jolie's emerald, sequined Versace dress.  It is the perfect color for her skin tone and hair color and contrasts the red carpet.  The dress has a vintage appeal and the sparkles and low-cut back makes this dress extra special, not to mention the accessory she had on her arm (ahem Brad).

For inspiration, I chose this Lanvin wrap dress that carries the same color and also has a vintage feel.  The sparkles from the clutch and the jewelry make the outfit perfect for a special event, and the natural makeup do not compete with the color of the dress.  The Charlotte Olympia shoes have red on the bottom of the soles so you would feel like you are walking on the red carpet.  Strike a pose!

How To: Poach An Egg

I have an obsession with poached eggs (or oeufs poches as Julia Child likes to say).  The soft, white protein and the runny yolk minus all the grease that frying adds makes it perfect by itself or on top of warm toast. With the right tools, a poached egg can add a little pizzaz to your morning.

slotted spoon
paper towels

fresh eggs
1Tsp. white vinegar or red wine vinegar.  Because I refuse to take out my measuring spoons to add more dishes to wash I just add a splash of vinegar enough to make a "ploop" sound.

1. In a sauce pan, bring about 3 inches of water (enough to cover the egg) to a simmer, not a boil.
2. Add the vinegar to the simmering water. This helps keep the proteins of the egg together once you drop them in so that you don't end up with egg drop soup.
3. Crack the egg into a bowl for two reasons: to check for a bad egg, and to gain control of the drop into the simmering water.  Very fresh eggs have tighter proteins and the whites will stay together when dropped into the water.
4. Slowly slip the egg into the water. Once in the water, gently scoot the whites over the yolk with your spoon for a few seconds.
If you are cooking more than one, repeat steps 3 and 4 for each egg.  Make sure the water stays at a low simmer.

5. For a runny yolk and firm white simmer for 4 minutes.  For a firmer yolk, simmer for 5 minutes.  You can check the doneness of the yolk by carefully picking up the egg with a slotted spoon and gently pressing the yolk with your finger.

6. Drain the egg on a paper towel.  No one likes vinegary, watery eggs.  You could even place the eggs in a bowl of cold water to completely rinse off the vinegar and to stop the cooking process.  Patting it with a paper towel is enough for me.

As complicated as it seems, it's all very simple.  Try it a few times and soon you'll become a pro.  I like to simply enjoy mine in a small bowl sprinkled with s+p and with toast for dipping into the rich yolk.

Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Waking up to a weekend breakfast sizzling on the stove is my ultimate favorite thing to wake up to.  I'm not a morning person but when I smell the bacon in the morning it's almost like I don't need coffee (almost).  When I have time to make breakfast I usually just stick to the bacon and eggs but every now and then I stray from the usual and go towards a sweet direction.  French toast, but not just any plain 'ol french toast, this time I changed it up and added a little cream cheese for that tangy creaminess. 

Makes 4 x-large toasts
1 loaf of day-old Challah bread
cream cheese
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
2 Tbs. of sugar
2 cups of milk
1 tsp. of vanilla extract

First slice the loaf to about 1/2 of an inch thick.  Spread the cream cheese on one side of a slice and sandwich it with another slice.  Basically, we aren't stuffing anything and really just making cream cheese sandwiches.

Egg mixture:
Combine the eggs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, milk and vanilla extract and whisk thoroughly incorporating the egg with the milk.

Soak each sandwich in the egg mixture.  Make sure to soak both sides.  I like to leave them in the mix while I melt butter in the pan under medium heat.  After the butter is melted place the sandwich in the pan and cook until it is golden brown on both sides and the cream cheese has warmed through, about 4 minutes on each side. 

Plate your yummy goodness and sprinkle with powdered sugar, dollop with more butter, and drizzle with maple syrup....mmm.  It's crispy and buttery on the outside and gooey and creamy on the inside.  Perfection can't be any more simple than this.  These cream cheese stuffed French toast will definitely make a wonderful start to any weekend.  Enjoy!

Animal Restaurant

Grilled octopus with chorizo ($17)
Bone marrow with chimichurri and Texas toast ($10)
BBQ pork belly sandwiches ($12)
Balsamic pork ribs with a delicata squash and pecan salad ($16)
Tres leches cake with caramel ($7)
For my past birthday Andrew took me to a restaurant that I have been wanting to go to for quite some time now.  Where the menu stays seasonal and the chefs are up and coming.  Where they have been acclaimed as L.A.'s most influential restaurant by L.A. Weekly and the chefs have already gained quite some recognition including Best New Chefs and Top 10 Best New Restaurants by Food and Wine Magazine and LA Magazine, respectively.  Animal Restaurant.  What can I cay that hasn't already been said?  Except that I can't wait for the day that I return.

These pictures really don't do justice to the flavors and taste that these dishes present (it's hard taking pictures in a dark restaurant without bothering people with your flash!)  The bone marrow was melt-in-your-mouth delish, the pork ribs were slightly sweet, smokey, sticky, fall-off-the bone good, and the octopus... oh man.  You have to try the octopus.  I really wanted to try the bacon chocolate crunch bar for dessert but we figured that we would have pork overload with the pork belly sliders and the pork ribs that we already had.  The tres leches cake would have to do.  Who wouldn't want cake for their birthday anyway?  I will be back for you bacon chocolate crunch bar.  Sooner or later.

Did I mention they have one of the Top 10 cookbooks of 2008?  Of course.  I wouldn't expect less. 

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
ph: 323.782.9225 

Animal on Urbanspoon

Warm You Up Bread Pudding

Southern California as been experiencing some chilly weather lately.  That means it's the perfect weather to fill the house with warmth and yummy smells from the oven.  Try this bread pudding recipe with chocolate chips instead of raisins.  The comforting smell of chocolate, vanilla, and bread can make any home feel warm and toasty.

1 loaf of stale French bread
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
4 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the bread into cubes and place in a baking dish.  Drizzle the melted butter over the bread.  Over low heat, warm the milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.  After the sugar has melted, strain this mixture then slowly pour into the eggs while whisking together.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and lightly mix throughout the bread allowing some of the chips to fall throughout the bread and leaving some chips still up top.  Bake for 45 mins.  Let cool for 30 mins then eat.  It should still be warm. Enjoy!

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