Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Cooking

We had plans to go to the Hollywood Bowl for the second time (we later determined it would be the last visit for this year due to traffic and other stress), so I whipped up some meatball sandwiches. This photo was right before I draped some provolone on the sandwich and wrapped it up.

The meatballs were made of ground beef, a bit of ground pork, grated parm, breadcrumbs, oregano, garlic, an egg and salt and pepper. I cooked them in a pan and let them simmer in a sauced made of canned tomato sauce, garlic and oregano. The sandwiches were deemed a resounding success by Charles!

My lunch today was spaghetti tossed with cauliflower, garlic and grated parm. The first half of the cauliflower was roasted in an oven the other day, but today I was too impatient and opted for pan cooking. I have to admit the cauliflower is better roasted, but a) my kitchen gets pretty hot when the oven's at 400 degrees for half an hour and b) I usually burn the garlic and it never makes it off the baking sheet. Using the pan method did, however, keep the garlic slightly toasty and still edible, thus I was able to incorporate it into the spaghetti.

Now, I'm just drinking Bud Light and watching Kiss of the Dragon (you show them, Jet Li!) before the weekend forlornly comes to a close.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Breakfast

Everything bagel with plain cream cheese from Sam's Bagels and a coffee from Peet's. I enjoyed reading and noshing until the two strangers next to me struck up a conversation and one started helping the other with their English.

Still, I was happy to temporarily get away from the very noisy power washing machine being used next door to my apartment. I am a person who needs not only solitude, but silence, which is really difficult to achieve in my neighborhood. At any rate, happy weekend, everyone! I can't believe October is right around the corner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cheese Quesadillas

I made quesadillas for the first time tonight. So easy! So quick! So cheap! Even with just cheese, the quesadillas were filling, but I think adding shrimp would make it a more substantial meal. I should have been making these years ago, goodness! I think I just had my tortilla awakening (cue the choir of angels).

I'd like to try some non-traditional tortilla combos like Nutella or peanut butter and bananas. I know breakfast burritos are a no-brainer, but I am not a huge fan, although I do have them once in a while. Seriously, though, the tortilla possibilities are endless. So exhilarating, no?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

4pm Lunch

Chili and chicken Caesar salad at Togo's.

I am not all that picky when it's 4pm by the time I get around to lunch. Togo's is a typical lunch spot, although I usually opt for the half sandwich (today, I could not "stomach" the idea of all that bread, Togo's bread is quite thick).

My lunch options are probably not that limited in comparison to other people's, but of course, we all get sick of the same old haunts. I keep thinking that if I read bento blogs, I will get my ass in gear, but that has not been the case so far. Most days, I like to leave the office and get some air, so I am not crazy about eating at my desk (although now, I am having flashbacks of last year's holiday season when I was determined to save money, which had good results, but it was painful blur of Lean Cuisines. Don't know if I'll do this again this year, but I do love small-term challenges).

Anyway, my question is: what do you eat for lunch during the work/school week? I love the minutiae of daily life, so please share!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mr. Ramen and Susina Bakery

Some Saturday eats:

Chashu pork ramen at Mr. Ramen. I put my name down on the list at Daikokuya, but didn't have much time on my parking meter, so opted for Mr. Ramen a few doors down. The broth was a tad too salty to finish it all, but the pork slices were substantial and tender. Next time I'll try a ramen set, which comes with a choice of gyoza, fried rice or curry rice.

After running some errands, I stopped in at Susina Bakery for a snack. Their cake and pie slices are quite large here, so I opted for some little fruit tarts.

I also had a lemonade, which was fine, but I wish it had tasted more like real lemons.

Mr. Ramen
341 1/2 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-4252

Susina Bakery
7122 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 934-7900

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not (At All) All'Amatriciana

Yes, bacon was in this sauce. Yes, tomatoes were involved. But, those factors are not enough to designate this dish as "all'amatriciana," which is usually made with guanciale (cured pork jowls, which is something I never have around the house) or pancetta (the ballsier Italian cousin of Hormel bacon).

I used some of the same ingredients as this Babbo recipe, but these simple recipes make their stand with quality ingredients and I did not have such pork products, the appropriate type of pasta (I had linguine in the pantry, which is flat and does not hold the sauce very well) or fresh parsley at hand. But, it fit the bill for a cheap dinner and got me pining for "real" pasta season's return (cold pasta salads are apropos for summertime, but they're understudies to me).

Pairs well with: True Lies
With good comfort food, you need a movie that will distract you gleefully from whatever drove you to the plate of pasta/corn dogs/chicken fried steak. I love this movie dearly and always watch it whenever it's on. Some choice scenes: 1) Jamie Lee Curtis's misguided yet saucy striptease; 2) Arnold riding a horse into an elevator; and 3) Bill Paxton as a car salesman who pretends to be a spy to get lucky with gullible housewives. I leave you with this bit of dialogue when Jamie Lee Curtis gets the call for a secret assignment:

"The codename of your contact will be Boris. Your codename will be--"
"No. Doris."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bad Cookies

Charles loves desserts, so as a token of love, I made these refrigerated dough Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies (I know, I was really pulling out all the stops with that one). Unfortunately, I cooked them too long and they turned out... crunchy. My cookie-making track record is abysmal, so I should have erred very much on the side of caution and pulled them out even when they looked too smushy. Apparently, cookies can firm up a bit after they've cooled; I would know these things if I didn't run for the hills at the mere suggestion of making baked goods.

Lucky for me, Charles is a doll and is planning on eating every last one of them. I will not be discouraged, though. I am going to keep trying my hand at baking cookies until I am fairly pleased with the end result. I don't know how many batches of dough (pre-made or from scratch) it'll take and I don't know how many times my face will scowl at bad cookies, but by God, I will do it. My favorite cookie is oatmeal raisin, so I think that'll be my next experiment. I will, however, have to try my best to forget the time there was a mixup and I ended up with a salty batch that needed to be disposed of immediately.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bacon Quiche

I am as shocked as you are, but yes, I made a quiche. It was my first time making this classy number and I was nervous as it was, so of course, I had to drag it down to my level and use a frozen pie crust (maybe my next big hurdle will be making pie crust from scratch, but let's not get carried away). If you're like me and have never made a pie in your life, the pie crusts were in the frozen desserts section and I baked off the crust before adding the filling (which were eggs, almost-fully-cooked bacon, heavy cream, milk and Mexican shredded cheese - I'm really taking liberties here).

Here it is about to go into the oven. Tip: make sure to use a tray as I cannot imagine the horror of egg mixture spilling in the oven.

While I waited, I drank a blueberry/banana smoothie. Then, I got distracted by Eraser's boisterous Bronx Zoo scene and didn't hear the timer go off.

Luckily, I did not miss the mark much in terms of baking time. I was a wee bit alarmed when I pulled it out of the oven as it looked puffed up.

But, after it sat for about 15 minutes, it deflated some and was ready to eat. Getting a piece of quiche onto a plate is like trying to listen to Ray LaMontagne without needing a drink. But, I persevered and now have the slice shot as proof of my cooking achievement.

Now, I'm off to watch Lust, Caution. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Canned Corn Chowder

I did not make this corn chowder. But, I did crush the saltines.

I am in a temporary lockdown period where I'm on a very tight food budget, which means I've been consisting on variations of frozen pizza, instant udon noodles and in tonight's case, canned soup. What falls to the wayside in my frugal eating are vegetables, so I also had a bowl of salad greens.*

*Sheepish admission: I added some Hidden Valley Ranch dip/dressing I made from a packet I've had for months and 16 oz of sour cream. For some reason, I delight greatly in purchasing the large tub of sour cream rather than when I usually opt for the smallest possible container since I never use up the whole thing for tacos, nachos, etc.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Kimchi, how I love thee. This little dinner is my lazy girl's version of bibimguksu (try saying that five times), a cold Korean noodle dish that is spicy and sometimes mixed with kimchi. Let's back up for a second: kimchi is an extreme sports edition of pickled cabbage. Like much Korean food, its aroma is unapologetically pungent and its taste is not for the faint of heart nor is it suitable for a first or even a second date.

[Personal tangent: As a tween (although this phrase did not exist when I was actually that age), I wondered where Koreans went for first date meals as I could not fathom wanting to kiss anyone who had eaten kimchi in the last 12 hours.]

My mom is a much better cook than me, so what I made tonight does not even compare to what she could whip up. But, for a quick comfort food meal, I did pretty well. Usually, there'd be a hard-boiled egg thrown into the mix, but unfortunately, my eggs in the fridge were way past their expiration date. Cucumbers, lettuce and carrots often make appearances as well, but I couldn't be bothered (and the only veggies I had on hand were some questionable carrots).

If you haven't tried kimchi before, get yourself to a Korean restaurant; it's served at every meal and is the ubiquitous condiment (although I'd call it more of a side dish) of the Korean people. You should have no problem finding it, but be aware it can show up in several forms: cabbage, radish, and cucumber, just to name a few. You will probably either love it or hate it; it falls under the same category as smoked salmon, mayonnaise, olives and other polarizing foods. But, once you're bewitched, get yourself ready for a life-long obsession. And a lot of toothpaste.