Saturday, February 5, 2011


Really, this should go without saying, but there is one type of restaurant that should be avoided on Chinese New Year.  That would be Dim Sum.  It's like trying to go to a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo; unless mobs of people and waiting for hours for a table turns you on, I would highly recommend avoiding them at all costs.  So mistake #1 that we made today:  Going for Chinese food on Chinese New Year.  Mistake #2:  Choosing a restaurant in China Town right next to the parade route.  (I'm sure you're just sitting there shaking your head at this.  I know.  I know.)  Mistake #3:  Trying to get a table for more than four people. We attempted to go to Ocean Seafood Restaurant in China Town.  The restaurant takes over the entire upstairs of a building that spans about one fourth of a city block.  And in this huge space, they claimed there were only 3 tables that accommodated a party of five or more.  So at 11:30, they said the wait was 30 minutes.  At noon, they told us the wait was still 30 minutes.  At 12:30, they said the wait was still 30 minutes, and I began questioning the theory that all Asians were good at math.  Sam began questioning the real situation with the tables upstairs, raised some hell, and finally got us seated!  Within 90 seconds, thanks to some overly assertive servers, our table looked like this:
Oh, how we shoveled that sweet, sweet dim sum into our gullets!  The food was excellent.  And speaking of sweet, why is it that those sweet shrimp are just so much tastier with the eyeballs and legs on?!  Oh yes, that's right, they're fried.
May the year of the Rabbit bring you happiness, prosperity, and shorter wait times for delicious food!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When I was 19, 20, & 21, I hadn't quite learned what great food was, and I had just begun the journey to becoming the foodie that I am today.  Living in middle class Orange County, the only food variety I ever experienced to that point was American, Italian, or Mexican.  Oh, and cheap Chinese every once in a while.  Needless to say, when I attempted to make a good meal, for instance, for a boyfriend, I had very little skill, let alone inspiration, to make much that would impress.
But I had to come up with something, so a recipe that I regularly threw together was chicken with grilled onion & mushrooms.  It always turned out decent, but how could I really go wrong if I added enough garlic?
Well I was feeling nostalgic the other day and decided to make my old go-to recipe, but maybe this time with some skill.  And with steak instead of chicken. Because, well, I just wanted some red meat.

(serves 2)


1 lb Beef Ribeye Steak (or steak of your choice.  Filet would be delicious as well)
8 cloves Garlic  -  crushed
Season Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
4 tbsp Butter
1/2 Yellow Onion  -  Sliced
4 oz Crimini Mushrooms  -  Sliced
1 tsp Raw Sugar
1 tsp Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 cup Red Wine


1)  Massage steak with 4 cloves of the crushed garlic, season salt, and black pepper.  Leave at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.

2) Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a saute pan, then add the onion and other 4 crushed garlic cloves and saute over medium until clear.  

3)  Add the raw sugar to the pan and stir, and then add the mushrooms.  Allow these to saute slowly for about 20 minutes.

4)  In the meantime, cook the steak on a heated skillet or on a heated grill, whichever you prefer.  Grill the steak until it's medium rare, then remove the steak and set aside.  

5)  In the same skillet you cooked the steak in (or in a new one if you used a grill), melt the other 2 tbsp of butter, and add the balsamic vinegar, red wine, and brown sugar.  Simmer until the alcohol burns off and the vinegar reduces by about half.

6)  Add the onion & mushrooms into the balsamic sauce, and cook for about 2 minutes.

7)  Slice the steak, plate, and spoon the balsamic onion & mushrooms over the steak.

If you are a big fan of vinegar, pour some of that reduced vinegar sauce over as well.  But be careful...too much of it can overwhelm the flavor of the steak, instead of enhance it. 
I decided that I wanted some mashed potatoes and spinach on the side, so I wilted fresh spinach in the saute pan that the onions & mushrooms were in first, letting it soak up some of that buttery garlic that was left.  As for the mashed potatoes I totally cheated.  I won't even say how I made them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Before this ridiculous summer weather hit in January, it was lovely, and cool, and had me in the mood for a hot bowl of chili.  Now a couple of years ago, I used to live off of Trader Joe's turkey chili.  Somewhat healthy, filling, and most importantly, fast, I would have it at least twice a week for dinner.  There was one major problem with it though.  Unless you are exacting revenge on a friend or significant other, or dutch ovens just really crack you up,  the gas that is the result of this chili will put you in self imposed isolation.  It's horrific, and no amount of bean-o will stop it.  Not wanting to plan my meals around weather or not I wanted to hang out with friends anymore, I finally stopped eating it.
So, cut to last week...I figured not ALL chili can have this effect.  If that were the case,we'd be blaming our global warming on chili cook-offs.  So I set out to attempt a fart-free chili recipe.

I succeeded!

(serves 8 - 10)


1 lb Ground Turkey
12 oz Gound Meatless (or other ground meat substitute)
3 slices Bacon  - chopped
1 Red Onion  -  chopped
5 cloves Garlic  -  minced
1 Zucchini  -  chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can Organic Black Beans  -  drained
1 (14.5 oz) can Organic Corn  -  drained
1 (28 oz) can Diced Tomato
1 (8 oz) can Tomato Sauce
14 oz Beef Broth
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbsp Oregano
2 tsp Season Salt
2 tsp Cracked Pepper
1 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa
2 tsp Raw Sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Cholula Chipotle Sauce
1/2 can/bottle Beer
Shredded Cheddar Cheese & Sour Cream to taste


1) Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large pot.  Add the onion, garlic, and zucchini, and saute until the onion is clear.

2) At the same time, at the other 2 Tbsp of oil to a large saute pan and begin sauteing the bacon.

3) When the bacon is almost cooked through, pour off about half of the grease, then crumble in the Turkey & Ground Meatless.  Keep separating and stirring occasionally to get the turkey into the smallest bits possible.

4) Once the turkey is cooked all the way through, add it to the pot with the onion & zucchini.

5) Stir in the Black Beans, Corn, Diced Tomato, Cumin, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Oregano, Season Salt, & Cracked Pepper.  Mix well.

6) Stir in the Beef Broth, and let simmer to reduce liquid slightly, about 8 minutes.

7) Add the Tomato Sauce, Cocoa, Sugar, Worcestershire, & Cholula.  Crack open a bottle of beer and pour half of it in.  Drink the rest.  (Some of you might choose a can of beer,  which will work as well, but I am morally against purchasing cheap beer.)  Stir well.

8) Let the chili simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, then another 45 minutes covered.  

9)Remove from heat and allow to cool a couple minutes before serving.  Add some shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream to each serving.


The Chili has some heat, but not so much that you can't taste the flavor.  If you aren't into spice, you can cut the Cayenne, Chili Flakes, & Cholula Sauce by half.
This can also easily be made a vegetarian recipe.  Just omit the turkey & bacon, adding 18 oz more Ground Meatless in their stead.  And replace the beef broth with Vegetable Broth.

So was it using black beans instead of the traditional kidney beans that did it?  Maybe merely cooking with the intention of getting rid of the gas?  Who knows.  I do know that it was damn delicious, and I didn't offend anyone in the process! 

Friday, October 15, 2010


Once in a while it’s good to give your artistic side a little kick start, and go see other artists that are being productive.  So this weekend I attended the LA Brewery Art Walk.   The Brewery Artist Lofts is the largest art colony in the world, and twice a year they host an event where many of the artists open their homes and display their art. 

Though there were so many talented artists showing, there were a few whose works really jumped out at me.  Here are some of my favorites from this year……

Wendy Hall

Wendy does these stunning photographic collages that are printed on transparancies, allowing them to be mounted on any surface or mounted as a light box.  Most of what she had displayed were mounted on copper sheeting, which created even more depth, and accentuated the grittier atmosphere that the collages already portray.

I go to Dave's Studio every time I go to the Brewery. I love the pop art aspect of his reduction linocuts.

Joyce Aysta of Live Your Dreams Designs
I fell in love with these "origami architecture" pop up cards.  The cut outs are so delicate and detailed!  I would mount them in a shadow box and hang them as art.  I'm even thinking of taking one of her classes where she teaches how to do this.

Ben Hoffman

Ben was displaying work from a project called Project1, it's concept being to create a finished image every day of 2010 that was either gallery worthy, honed his craft, or healed his heart.  I think we all can learn a lesson from his self-issued assignment.  Most of us have some sort of art or hobby that makes happy, or a little more fulfilled.  But quite often we get swept up with work and life, and this hobby gets pushed farther and farther down the priority list.  But your happiness should be a priority.  We should, at least once a week, or every other week if we're really that bogged down, do that one thing that makes us happy.  Even if its just an hour or so, work on your own project, nurture your own soul, and feel that high that a sense of accomplishment and pride gives you.

Friday, October 8, 2010


My friend Rachel has been saying for a couple months now that her fig tree out back has been producing far more figs than she knows what to do with.  She unloaded a bag-full to some friends that turned them into jam.  She picks some here and there to eat just as fruit, but mostly these Black Mission figs just fall to the ground and rot.  I’m not normally a fan of figs, as they are a bit too sweet for my taste as fruit, but the last time she mentioned them, I recalled a delicious dish that I had Tinto in West Hollywood that involved figs, bacon, and cheese.  I decided I had to try to make them for myself.

I went over to Rachel’s house, picked some of these beautiful fresh figs, picked up some port from Silverlake Wine (because you need a port good enough to drink as you cook), and headed home to make these decadent treats.



12 Figs (not overly soft), stemmed and half peeled
1 cup Port
6-12 stips of Good Quality Bacon (amount depends on size of figs)
12 Toothpicks, soaked in water

2 medium Scallions, minced
¼ cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded
¼ cup Whipped Cream Cheese
1 Tbs Olive Oil


Figs can be eaten peeled or unpeeled, depending on a person’s personal preference.  For this recipe I peeled half of each fig.  The peeled part allowed for the port to soak in, and the rest of the peel gave a firmness that  helped with the ease of wrapping and toothpicking the figs.

1) In a saucepan, combine the figs and the port.  Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

2) While that’s steeping, make the cheese stuffing.  Sauté the minced scallion in the olive oil until slightly browned.  Combine the sautéed scallions with the gruyere and cream cheeses in a small bowl, and set aside.

3) After the figs are done steeping, remove the figs.  Slice each one from stem to end, only cutting half way through.  Stuff each fig with the cheese mixture…..the more the better in my opinion.

4) Wrap each fig with bacon….enough to go around once overlap slightly at the end.  For small and medium figs, half of a strip of bacon is usually perfect.  For larger figs, cut the bacon accordingly.  Use a toothpick the secure the bacon strips.

5) Place the wrapped figs in a non-stick frying pan or skillet,  and cook on medium-high heat until both sides of the bacon are crispy.  To cook the rest of the way, put the whole pan or skillet in a pre-heated oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees.

My roommate, Malinda, ended up getting home way to late that night, so I refrigerated some of those figs in a bacon blanket, un-cooked, for me to make for her the next day.  They were just as delicious, so now I know preparing these ahead of time for a party is a great time saving option.

By the way, they turned out AMAZING!  It was so fun to see Chris and Malinda’s eyes get huge as they enjoyed their first bite.  That’s what makes cooking worth it to me.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I love animals!
Though I don’t own any at the moment, for fear they’d be neglected with my busy schedule, I really do enjoy them.  I’m not even sure I could hunt animals, though I’m a strangely talented markswoman.  So it made me very happy to discover that my yard is a virtual wild kingdom.  Huge brown squirrels are everywhere, dining on our overly abundant avocado tree.  We have possums, very common all over Southern California. 
A skunk almost sprayed my roommate when Malinda startled it walking out to her car.  And we have a family of raccoons, FIVE babies and a momma, that love to hang out in our trees. 
I was so excited when I saw my first neighborhood raccoon!  I was washing dishes when I looked out the window and Momma Raccoon climb out of the tree and onto our trellis four yards away.  Weeks later I squealed when I went outside to investigate a commotion on our roof, and a little baby raccoon head peaked over the edge of the roof to look at me.
Then, the other night I came home to this……

Apparently these adorable little creatures like to dig, and rather love to attack my succulents.  I had noticed one day that a single plant was taken out of it’s pot and was nowhere to be found, dirt and all.  I was annoyed.  But to come home to this? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  It’s not for lack of food.  They’ve been eating heartily on avocados, I’m sure. 
I cursed those little buggers up and down, then looked up ways to deter them.  I sprinkled Critter Ridder around all of the succulents, with no luck.  I can’t cut down the food source that may be encouraging them to hang around, since I’m renting.  Do I really need to buy coyote urine to spray around?  Gross!  Hell, if that’s going to smell to high heaven I’ll most likely sacrifice the succulents.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


As our Southern California weather is rather indecisive as to what season it wants to fall under, last week some late season warmth prompted me to do some grilling. To go with the NY strip steak I had marinading in my Worcestershire/Dijon/garlic/pepper spread, I wanted to try to whip up some home made potato salad. I was wanting something more on the light, gourmet side, and less on the mayonnaise, typical picnic side. Here is what I came up with……

Red Potato Salad with Truffle Oil


8 Medium Red Potatoes 

1 Medium Shallot, Thinly Sliced
3 Stalks of Celery, Thinly Sliced
½ Cup Fresh Chives, Chopped
3 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, Minced
¼ Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Truffle Oil
Sea Salt  - To Taste
Cracked Pepper  -  To Taste


1)Cook the potatoes until cooked but slightly crunchy, about 30 minutes.  Let cool a bit and then slice into rounds or half rounds.
2)While the potatoes are cooking make the dressing.  In a bowl, combine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, thyme and truffle oil.  Mix well.
3)Before serving, combine potatoes, celery, shallots, chives and drizzle with dressing.  Add the cracked pepper and sea salt and toss.  
If you want to make this dish in advance, it is just as delicious cold.  Follow the same directions, then refrigerate.  Serves about 6.

There were only two of us eating, so I had leftovers for days.  Every day it was just as yummy as the first.  And I do believe I may have impressed the person that I was cooking for.  ;)