Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spaghetti with Greens

Last weekend, I had two lovely friends in town, so I was too busy flitting about town to make home-cooked meals. But, now that life has settled back into its usual groove, I was able to make some wonderful greens last night. Then, for today's dinner, I tossed some spaghetti with them, grated pecorino cheese on top and called it a day.

I adore greens (kale and collard are my favorites) and even if I wasn't from the South, I believe our love is so meant to be that we would have found each other some way somehow. And... ending crazy talk. But, seriously, try making them at home; I made mine by heating olive oil, throwing in chopped garlic, and adding in a mix of kale, chard, and mustard greens. Once the greens wilted down, I poured in some chicken broth and cooked them for 20 minutes - 25 minutes more.

Although greens are supposed to be high in nutritional value, I admit I don't know how much is left after you cook the hell out of them. But, they're one of those rare comforting non-fried foods that make me very happy and are fabulous with pasta (spaghetti in this case as I haven't had it much lately and had a package in my pantry).

I am submitting my dish to Presto Pasta Nights, the brainchild of Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. This week's host is Erin over at The Skinny Gourmet. Looking forward to the lineup as always!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thyme-Roasted Yams

I bought these yams with the intention of eating them with butter and brown sugar, but when I saw this Epicurious recipe, I saw a golden opportunity to make it through an entire package of fresh thyme (not a small miracle for me). As I adore sweet potato fries, it's no wonder that I also enjoyed this savory (and pretty garlicky) preparation of yams.

Obviously, I substituted yams for sweet potatoes and I only used 2 yams, which were sliced about an inch thick, so they'd cook up faster. My total cooking time was 25 - 30 min. (I checked obsessively because I was fearful of having burnt-to-black-bits garlic). These yams fit the bill of simple, but flavorful food I want to start taking to work, so I'm betting they're going to be in heavy rotation!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My First Pita Pizza

I've seen pita pizzas on cooking shows or magazines for a while and always planned on trying this brilliant, no-fuss dish. Well, as you can see, I bit the pita bullet and made a "pizza" with goat cheese, mushrooms, red onion and parsley. My favorite aspect is that the pita gets crunchy and crisp, which surprised and delighted me.

Here's what I did: lightly cooked the onions and mushrooms in a pan (separately), put the goat cheese and veggies on the pita and popped it into a 350 degree oven for 10 - 15 min (probably could've used a few more minutes, but per usual, I was impatient). Then, I sprinkled on the parsley and voila, I had an unusual, but very simple breakfast! I recommend trying your hand at making these pizzas; I know they're going to help break up the at-home eating monotony for me!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vietnam Restaurant

I fell asleep last night thinking of recipes and restaurants I want to try and when I woke up this morning, I picked up where I left off by immediately wanting to try a new Vietnamese restaurant somewhere on the "authentic" side of town (i.e. San Gabriel Valley-dom). With the sheer number of Vietnamese restaurants in greater LA, I find it too overwhelming to just waltz in here and there and have my own string of trial-and-error visits. Thank God for the internet and food bloggers! I read about Vietnam Restaurant over at Wandering Chopsticks and thought it'd be a splendid way to start off my Saturday. I drove over to San Gabriel for a late breakfast and ordered the following:

Rice cakes with crushed dried shrimp and coconut milk

I felt like venturing outside my usual standard dishes and trying something wonderfully new. The rice cakes themselves were nice, but this dish was neither good nor bad to me (the coconut milk was served in a separate dish and I hadn't poured any on it when I took the picture). I didn't figure that "crushed" dried shrimp would be such a fine powder! I thought it'd be a tangle of dried shrimp bits, but I rather like the look of the bright orangey powder. I ate about half of this dish, but would not order again just because it didn't knock my socks off. Anyone have any ideas on what the yellow crumbles are? The flavor was hard to pinpoint, they tasted kind of like rice powder or masa dough.

Shrimp paste, charbroiled pork and egg roll rice plate

I love a good rice plate and this one did not disappoint, especially the shrimp paste (my first ever!), which is more like a mashed shrimp cake (if that helps you understand the concept any better). Slight downside: I like Vietnamese eggrolls a lot and Vietnam Restaurant's version is tasty, but the skins were a bit too chewy for me and stuck a little in my teeth. Not sure if they fried these to order, but for $6 a plate, I'm not complaining too much.

And yay for caffeine, a coffee with condensed milk

It's been years since I've ordered one of these coffees and I have unknowingly missed them dearly! I think these will have to be a must from now on.

Off to see Rachel Getting Married! Happy weekend, everyone!

Vietnam Restaurant
340 W. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Salad

I finally got a bottle of fish sauce, but my joy was short-lived when I realized I was at a loss about what to make with it. I love Vietnamese food, but I wasn't up for a lot of marinating or complicated recipes (I know, shocking!). After some research, I landed on Nigella Lawson's Vietnamese Shrimp and Glass Noodle Salad recipe, which I used as a guide with some substitutions and improvisation.

I liked the dressing a lot (love the zing of fresh ginger) and the sugar snap peas were a good call, but I should have cut the noodles for easier eating. By the way, I used rice sticks, which seem pretty similar to what Nigella refers to as glass noodles.

Overall, this salad served me well as a light dinner and it'd be great to take to a potluck (I can count on one hand the number of potluck-esque events I've been to, but maybe that will change this year). I'll be submitting this for Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Ivy at Kopiaste. Back into the PPN groove!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thyme Mushrooms On...

Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking, but it sounded good to me. So, I sauteed mushrooms with olive oil, butter and thyme and put it atop Kraft Mac and Cheese. Isn't one of the many joys of home cooking the right to throw stuff together in a haphazard manner and call it dinner? It may horrify some, but it went great with my vodka cocktail! This week's been a doozy, I can't believe New Year's Eve was only a week ago? It feels like it's been an eternity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kielbasa and Red Cabbage

I was in the mood for a comfort meal the other night; apparently the kind that Eastern Europeans long for. I wasn't sure if I should go for jarred sauerkraut or cook up some red cabbage to accompany the Polish kielbasa. I went with the cabbage as I'm pretty sure if I ever buy a jar of sauerkraut, it'll get used once or maybe twice before its expiration date (please pipe up if you can put the kraut away like nobody's business!).

I've seen Rachael Ray make many a sauteed red cabbage side dish before, but had never attempted it myself until now; I used this recipe from her website as a guide. The cabbage came out better than expected and I'm betting it'll taste even better after a day or so. Boy, do I love cabbage (and anything from its family, such as cauliflower, bok choy, collard greens, etc.)!

I still have half of the kielbasa left in the fridge, which will make for another dinner this week. I will have to eat it with rice or pasta, though, because I found it a bit salty and fatty to eat on its own.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Natalee Thai

Needing a quick bite to eat before heading to a showing of Australia, I stopped in at a place I used to go much more often before discovering Thai Town: Natalee Thai. This restaurant is not a destination for those seeking an authentic Thai meal (for example, they have a sushi bar), but there are some good items on their menu and they allow you to split the bill without complaint (now, if I could find a place like that in Koreatown).

I got their wonton soup, which is a favorite of mine. It has plump shrimp in delicate wonton skins, bokchoy and a garlicky broth:

I also ordered spicy monsoon noodles with beef, which is rather greasy for the faint of heart. I liked that the beef was slightly charred due to its sweet marinade. And can we agree that flat noodles rule?

A nice solo lunch, though I have to admit, I had to pick up an americano afterwards to settle my stomach (those noodles are probably best as a once-a-year occurrence).

Natalee Thai
10101 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90230
(310) 202-7003

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve 2008

Our last meal of '08 was strip steaks with blue cheese butter, fried shrimp and buttered green beans. It was a lovely meal that was eaten on the couch while watching How I Met Your Mother DVDs. The star for me was the fried shrimp, which I dipped in flour, egg and breadcrumbs before frying in a bit of oil in a pot. Happy New Year, everyone!