Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pork with Apricots

Underneath the mess of apricots are some boneless pork chops. I like apples with pork, but wanted to try something different and unusual. Peaches were quite tempting, but I felt motr drawn to the orange-golden hue of the apricots. Well, the pork turned out fairly juicy and well-seasoned (salt, pepper and oregano), but the apricots were a bit too subtle and not very sweet (even with a drizzle of honey).

The watercress and sugar plum tomato salad, however, was a wise choice. Dressed with (a little too much) lemon and extra virgin olive oil, it was slightly tangy and spicy (this bunch of watercress had a real kick to it). I haven't abandoned apricots, but I may have better luck if I get them at a farmers' market and leave them off of pork.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Burger and Corn

After several days of eating restaurant food, I wanted to cook something homemade and simple. Enter the burger. For the patties, I threw in minced onion, Worcestershire sauce and Mrs. Dash seasoning. Even though it's easy to make burgers, I don't make them often because getting raw ground beef out from under my fingernails isn't something I like to do on the regular (and I keep my nails short!). But, these burgers were much better than the last couple times I've had them eating out, so maybe I will incorporate them into my rotation. And that pat of butter looks much bigger photographed.

Pairs well with: Dazed and Confused
I can't think of any other movie that stirs up so much nostalgia for teenage summers (it takes place in the '70s, but high school never changes, does it?). A burger and Wiley Wiggins will put a huge smile on your face. Guaranteed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicken Fried Rice

I've always liked sriracha chili sauce fine, but never really loved it to the point of buying it for home use. Well, that changed tonight when I was thinking about what to do with my leftover rice. While musing about ingredients for fried rice, I was hit by a sudden craving for sriracha sauce. So, I bought my first bottle at Whole Foods of all places; I don't even want to know how much more I paid for it than if I had gone to an Asian supermarket.

Moving on. Fried rice made at home tastes better to me because I can make it less salty, without as much oil and throw in whatever my heart desires (tonight, I felt like some broccoli). I think whenever I've seen it made on cooking shows, there is an emphasis on cooking things separately and not adding everything together until the end. That may be the case for the best possible fried rice ever, but I don't have a ton of counter space to keep ingredients in separate bowls and go through all of that. I did scramble the eggs first and take them out of the pan, but I didn't do that extra step for the chicken and vegetables.

In typical fashion, I accidentally got sriracha sauce on the back of my couch. The way my apartment is set up is that there is a kitchen "counter window" of sorts that looks into the living room. My love seat is against that window and, of course, while I was cleaning up possible raw chicken bacteria overzealously, I knocked the bottle over the counter onto my couch. Luckily, it was only a few small drops, but my dabbing with a wet paper towel was not very successful. Anyone know of a good furniture stain remover?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Red Corner Asia

After a long week, cheap Thai food is a satisfying way to kick off the weekend. There are several good places in Thaitown, but we go here because they take credit card and have a parking lot (valet on Fri nights/weekends), although I somehow scored a meter with nary a turn around the block.

Green papaya salad with dried shrimp. We've had an interesting history with ordering papaya salad here. We used to order it medium spice, but it was always a gamble because each server would interpret it differently. We've just resorted to ordering it "not spicy/very mild," which isn't the ideal way to eat papaya salad, but at least, we know what we're getting. I think the major factor in the inconsistency is that I'm Asian and Charles is white, so there might have been conflicting accounts of Asian spicyness and Not-An-Asian spicyness in the kitchen.

Pad thai with fried tofu. I find their version sweet, but Charles likes it.

Red curry with chicken. You have to be careful about what you order at Red Corner because it's not a place where everything is good. Roast duck over rice is my usual, but every now and then I get bored with it and try something else. I usually end up regretting it (for example: crispy duck with panang curry - the coconut milk was overwhelming). Not the case with this red curry! Maybe because I asked for a medium spice level, but the flavors were well-balanced and tasty. Not the best curry I've ever had, but good enough to order again.

Red Corner Asia: 5267 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 466-6722

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bacon and Spinach Pasta

I love making a basic tomato sauce with canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and oregano; it's easy and tastes better than the murky taste of jarred sauce. There was a time when I kept tomatoes and pasta stocked in the pantry for those days when I didn't want to have to think about what to make for dinner. Those days have faded, or rather, I put an abrupt stop to them when I started noticing that I was consuming way too many carbs for someone who has to will and then drag themselves to the gym for a 30 minute run. Nowadays, when I do make pasta, I try to do something different and not so dependent on tomatoes to stretch my horizons. Enter bacon and spinach.

Many Italian recipes I see use pancetta, but bacon works just as well for me and costs less in most cases. I was looking for a pasta dish that would be filling, but not coma-inducing: this recipe fit the bill nicely. The bacon tasted wonderful (I used Niman Ranch bacon that may or may not have contributed to the flavor) and the baby spinach wilted quickly and cut the bacon's fatty intensity. The spinach helps especially in ignoring the fact that the sauce, so to speak, is mostly bacon fat (but in a good way!).

Pairs well with: Con Air
This pasta is the kind of meal where you lounge on the couch and eat leisurely, which calls for a movie that requires very little processing or who-dun-its.This Nicolas Cage starrer from the Bruckheimer catalog is one of the best action films to be spawned during the '90s and is perfect for comfort meal dishes. I conjecture it's got the best dialogue-per-minute stat that will have you laughing heartily. The absolute best part, though, is John Malkovich as Cyrus the Virus who says things like, "my own proclivities are well-known and often-lamented facts of penal lore."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Couscous Salad

I don't eat couscous much, but after enjoying a ready-made version from Whole Foods, I thought I'd try my hand at it. Well, it was easy to make, but turned out a bit bland and lacking in strong flavor. In this cold salad, though, the couscous is mostly a vehicle for the fresh vegetables and feta cheese as well as a good source of fiber (at least, I think that's what eating grains is good for). Although I had it for a light dinner, it'd be more suitable as a side dish, particularly at a picnic or a BBQ.

Couscous anecdote: my first introduction to couscous was when Cindy Crawford prepared it on "House of Style" and I remember thinking it did not look very good. Still, you have to give props to Cindy; her worldly travels as a supermodel must have led her to be way ahead of the food trend curve (at least in American; obviously there are parts of the world where couscous has always been a mainstay of cuisine).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Scallops With Peach Salsa

I never order or buy scallops. It's not that I dislike them, they've just never made my heart sing like oysters, clams or mussels. But, a few days ago, some scallops caught my eye at the store, so I picked some up today. I thought I'd mix things up for Friday night by cooking up my least favorite mollusk. I wanted something crisp and fruity to off-set the richness of the scallops and I found the perfect mate in this cheerful peach salsa. This Epicurious recipe piqued my interest, but of course, I did a less involved version. I think the scallops could have used 30 more seconds of cooking time, but they turned out tasty enough and look Ma, I got good caramelization!

The real star, though, was the peach salsa (Epicurious used the term, don't look at me if you want to get into a debate about what constitutes salsa); lime, cilantro, jalapeno and red onion are a glorious quartet and they perfectly complemented the sweet, but not quite ripened peach (which is exactly how I like to eat peaches). This darling accompaniment will be making many more appearances in my kitchen this summer.

Pairs well with: After The Sunset
Pierce Brosnan as a thief? Woody Harrelson as a main character? The creepy Jamaican lady from the Pirates movies who makes saying Davy Jones so fun? Done deal. The icing on the cake is Salma Hayek who just wants a deck for their island bungalow and to retire from their life of crime in peace. The briny scallops and spicy salsa go great with the breathtaking island waters and Salma's stunning bikini scenes that make you wonder how her body is at all possible.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Super Skinny Steak with Arugula and Parm

On the way home, I stopped for gas and in the first time since I've started driving, the gas nozzle fell out of my tank and splashed some gasoline on my wedges and jeans (my nice ones at that). For fear of a homeless person setting me on fire, I capped off at $20 and hightailed it out of there. After briefly Googling how to properly wash gasoline stained clothes, I threw my jeans in the washer and got this super skinny steak in the pan. I saw Giada do a version of this on her show ages ago and though this lady-sized portion was too thin to be anywhere near juicy, it was refreshing and easy to make.

I was most excited about the cheese, though; I haven't gotten good parmiagiano reggiano in a while. The arugula added a pleasant zing and balanced the dish perfectly. It was very refreshing, possibly due to the fact that it was a real live produce bunch rather than the pre-washed kind. I think it was my first time cleaning arugula, there was a lot of dirt! I must admit, however, I had to have some leftover pasta from the other night; I'm not much of a lady when it comes to eating.

Pairs well with: The Long Kiss Goodnight.
Something cheesy, slightly bitter and something you can (sort of) sink your teeth into? Sounds like it's time for some Charly Baltimore. Gasoline actually helps Charlie out of a pretty tight bind in this movie, so it's even got a tie-in with my unfortunate gas station incident. There are many great scenes of Geena Davis being pale and destructive in this '90s extravaganza, but a favorite of mine is when she uses ice skates as a method of transportation to go after some bad guys in cars. I am shit on ice, so I find this move particularly impressive. Plus, Samuel L. Jackson acting bewildered and pissed? It's a no-brainer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Shrimp Linguine

At the end of the day today, I really wanted to unwind by having a drink and dinner out, but I resisted. I knew I'd feel very disappointed with myself since I had determined this week would be the one to kick off the great kitchen resurrection of '08. So, I headed to the store instead and picked up a few things for a basic shrimp linguine. I usually do not like a lot of parsley because of its grassy quality, but I have been craving fresh herbs lately (I believe the summer weather is the culprit) and this parsley not only hit the spot, it smelled strangely intoxicating. Or maybe I'm just thinking of the wine.

Pairs well with: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
I watched this movie on TV and cried profusely (I don't recall the plot particulars that made me so weepy, but I cry very easily while watching movies). But, that's not why I am recommending it. No, the reason is that the bright lemon and fresh parsley flavors in the linguine were very clean and sunshine-y, which brought the Greece scenes in "Sisterhood" to mind and how they made me want to jump in the ocean, eat seafood all day and wear all-white outfits.


Me in a nutshell: I’m a screenwriter hopeful living in LA and I spend a lot of my money on food.

Me in a larger shell: I also read a lot of food blogs and thought it was high time to start my own. Though fairly competent in the kitchen, I have gotten horribly lazy in the last year. I hope this blog will compel me to cook more, venture beyond my usual recipes and curb my restaurant spending.

Lastly, one of my favorite combinations in life is dinner and a movie. Therefore, I will occasionally offer movie pairings to accompany the food I put up here. Look for it!

Thanks for reading.