Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Improvisation at its finest

I am a fan of cooking on the stove. By this I mean that I enjoy putting things in a pan and throwing ingredients to cook and seasoning to taste. This isn't the case when you bake. I try to avoid baking because A) we don't have the best oven at home and B) once it's in the oven, it's pretty much finalized. You can't add ingredients or spices to your edible eats when you bake, so if you mess up, you're pretty much screwed. (Right Ate P? I know how baking cookies made you a bit neurotic those few instances...jk...hehe)

Ok, so here's me taking a stab at baking. It was just pizza, but I had my moments.

Box of Jiffy Pizza Crust Mix:

Next to that fabulous looking pizza slice on the box, it says, "Just Add Water"

With the water added, I mixed it all together. It then required me to cover and store in a warm area of about 85 degrees. Well, it has been pretty "cold" here lately, so I improvised. I placed the covered bowl in front of my space heater and turned it on low. Don't laugh! It required that temperature for about 5mins.

Afterwards, I was supposed to knead it on top of a flour-covered surface. Um well...I didn't have flour, so again, pure magic happened. I busted out with the left over tempura mix we have at home and placed that on my work surface. I figure it's a "powdery" consistency so it could work.

It should not look like this:

I decided to use all of the tempura mix and thank goodness it looked like this:

Now time to shape it onto a 14x10 inch pan...oh wait, don't have that either...Improvise! I busted out with this baking sheet like thing we bake chicken on and removed the top grill part. Voilà, my attempt at shaping my crust into a square:

I then placed it in the oven for 3-5mins to harden...may have placed a little too long:

Then drenched it with sauce:

I had older looking basil that still smelled fresh, but was starting to brown, so I put them on to be covered by the other toppings:

Finished all of my shredded mozzarella and sliced salami:

Confession, I took it out of the oven again and put fresh basil and slices of grape tomatoes on top. I didn't want my basil to burn so I added it during the last 5mins of the baking process:

Oh yeah, I baked this bad boy at 425 degrees for about 18mins, not counting the 3mins to harden the crust. Pure deliciousness! Oh and btw, square plates are on my to-do list. I promise!

Plus, I had a glass (or two) of this sucker...

I bought this bottle at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago cuz it was cheap, $4.95 or so and check out the cool flying pig image. Sold! Not the best, but it did its job. I was definitely satisfied. =D

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Manna hoses you down!

Last Wednesday, we celebrated a friend's bday at this outdoor Korean bbq place in K-town. The week had already been quite a wet one for southern cali, but I am not one to turn down "all you can eat meat," so off I ventured to Manna Korean BBQ. I had been here before, but never like the experience I had that night. I guess they're pretty well known for bringing champagne out for the birthday celebrants with ridiculously loud bday music playing in the background. It was a pretty spectacular production.

All the "condiments" were placed at the table in mini plates. (Sadly the plates were round, not squared.)

We were then asked what kind of meats we wanted from the "all you can eat" selection. I think we were all in agreement, "All of the above please." Two grills, not one, were turned on for us in order to efficiently produce copious amounts of meat for our party of 8. Hite beer was served all around while we waited semi patiently for the meat to cook. Once a piece of meat was cooked, it was served and consumed immediately.

Ok, so the above photo doesn't show cooked meat, but lemme tell you, it smelled glorious! Marinated beef, pork and chicken all combined together, making your mouth water. Confession, probably not the most sanitary of ways to cook all those meat products due to cross contamination of salmonella and such, but it's over an "open" flame so bacteria is being burned on the spot, right? "Right!" says the science major who studied gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. *wink* Nonetheless, all tasted delicious!

After consumption of not one, not two, but 3 rounds of "all you can eat" meat platters for 8, I gracefully excused myself to the restroom...Not to do number 2!!! I had to check to see if I had beef in between my teeth in the mirror! Upon exiting the restroom, I was asked by the server if it was time for the champagne, I said, "Yes, please." The LOUD birthday music came on and servers were then with their prospective tables equipped with a couple of high class champagne bottles, a little something called André. The champagne is then popped, shaken (not stirred) and our birthday celebrant was then approached by our server and he freaking got HOSED like a thirteen year old girl in R.Kelly's rap videos (or home movies). Our birthday boy was drenched in André from head to toe. Luckily it was only his work clothes, so nothing too fancy, ya know? Sadly, I have no photos of the drenched birthday boy, but I'm sure you get the picture. Good times Manna. I will make it a point to say no if anyone ever suggests we celebrate my birthday there. Thank you for the heads up. :) But, No thank you.

Tips when going out for Korean BBQ:
  1. Make sure the meal prior to having your KBBQ meal is a small one, or better yet, just don't eat beforehand.
  2. Wear loose fitting clothing, you know the ones where you have room to "expand"
  3. Lastly, try to keep one of the cooking tongs at all times, so you can have free range to pick and choose the meat you desire. It's just better when you're in control, right?

p.s. I was sooo full when I got home later that night, that going to bed was just not an option. So what is a girl to do to pass the time? I painted my nails! It took over 2 hours to paint this little number on both my hands and feet. Long much? I know, but I'm pretty pleased with the outcome. Elise, this is for you. Look beyond my beautifully painted "electric blue" nails and check out that brown-ness of a leg behind it. This is me in the "winter" time during the rainy days of L.A. Are you ready for me in August?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mirabelle's on Sunset

A couple of Fridays ago, I was invited for drinks for a friend's birthday. I had my reservations about heading out to the Sunset Strip because...

A) I don't frequent it due to mass amounts of traffic getting since you can only take side streets (I know I should be used to it since it's L.A. but I can still complain!)

B) I always feel like you have to get super dressed up or put in tons of effort to look as if it just took you a few minutes to get ready since it IS the SUNSET STRIP

and C) the drinks are mucho expensivo!

So after overcoming aforementioned reasons, I put on a dress, a thick black belt and my black boots as an attempt to look put together. The drive wasn't too bad, but as soon as I hit La Brea, I started getting that nervous anxious feeling because I didn't want to be THAT driver who drives ever so slowly on Sunset because they're a tourist and trying to take in all the sites...oh no, I was not gonna be THAT girl. I had google mapped it beforehand, but as I got closer to the cross street, I have to admit, I did slooow my pace.

Upon arriving, I found my way to the bar area and surveyed the room for my friends. No one recognizable, so off I went to the bar area to send my text that I was there and to not look like a loser standing in the middle of a bar all by my lonesome with a dumb, perplexed expression. Immediately after taking a seat, the bartender asked if I wanted a drink...great customer service on her part. I kindly refused and said that I was waiting for a party to arrive. She then called the Host over and he asked who I was waiting for. With no names mentioned, I was graciously directed to my friend's table, all seated right behind me...THE WHOLE TIME! I had a "duh" moment and then immediately dismissed it when a glass of vino was poured for my drinking pleasure. =D

And here was the first taste of deliciousness that night:

The service was impeccable! My water was constantly being refilled and my plate with my empty lobster/prawns/oyster shells were constantly being switched out for a brand new one when there was nearly zero part of the plate to add food to. AH-mazing! Thank goodness I brought mass amounts of Lactaid pills cuz the next thing they brought out consisted of a large amount of cheesy goodness. One dish was this amazingly delicious cheese from Greece that was pan seared and then a flame thrown on the sizzling platter. The second was this dish with giant prawns with feta cheese...mmm...so good!

But here's where it got interesting...the desserts looked like little bits of heaven. At this point, I had to remove my chunky black belt to make room for the sweets and to be honest, it started to feel like bondage, so I ditched the sucker. Bring on the desserts!

crème brulée

chocolate soufflé

and lastly...apple pie à la mode

All were unbelievable, but my fave had to be the soufflé. Every bite was pure deliciousness...mmm...the perfect spoonful consisted of the soufflé with a bit of vanilla ice cream, doused with chocolate syrup. Pure ecstasy in yo mouth!

Thanks to the wonderful servers at Mirabelle and my fabulous friend Bianca for such a wonderful dining experience! (and getting the tab taken care of a la el boss wasn't too shabby either *wink*) A satisfied customer may be coming back real soon...hehe...Happy Birthday B!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Filipino Torta

I’m not sure if this is really the definition of a Filipino torta, but it’s what I’ve been calling it for as long as I remember my mom making the concoction of the giniling babi (Kapampangan for ground pork, which my mom made with potatoes and some bell peppers) all mixed in a scrambled egg. We called this a torta. If it’s not called that, well I’m still calling it a torta. So I was running a bit late this morning and I ask my mom to make me one like hers since hers looked so appetizing for breakfast. Sadly, we ran out of Jufran (this sweet Filipino banana ketchup), so I settled for the organic ketchup from Trader Joe’s instead. I packed this torta on top of white rice with the ketchup on the side. This is what I took with me to work cuz I didn’t have time to eat it for breakfast at home.

Looks more like a tortilla española, huh? Except... it's filled with pork deliciousness!

the New Year's First Eats

January 4th, first Monday of 2010 and it was already go go go. Work was actually eventful, which I think is a good sign in ringing in business for the new year. I brought my lunch for work which consisted of a salad made with:
  • lettuce
  • tomatoes
  • red bell peppers
  • corn
  • black beans
  • grilled chicken
  • homemade salsa and guacamole
I totally forgot to bring a lime wedge, but I made do (sorry no photo). I also brought extra salsa and guac for my tortilla chips, purchased from Fresh ‘N Easy. It’s starting to be a staple grocery store for me since it’s right below the gym I go to. I also brought a banana and an apple, but the apple was only consumed post gym time.

Around 5ish, I jammed and headed home so I could change for the gym and try to beat all the “new year’s resolution” goers…but alas, they beat me to it. The treadmill was a pain to get to, the weights I needed were impossible to find, so I had to alter my gym time routine. After the treadmill, weights, then a few extra miles on the bike, I did the best I could at stretching and utilizing some of my breathing skillz I acquired from my free yoga sesh yesterday at YogaWorks. I may have annoyed the people I was stretching with due to my heavy and yes, oh so loud, breathing, but I didn’t care. Hello, yoga is a state of mind, thank you! I made an appearance at Fresh ‘N Easy. I immediately gravitated towards the bag of lime flavored kettle chips and then after lollygagging for a few, grabbed a butternut squash soup for mom and an extra sharp cheddar cheese for moi. I hadn’t really committed to what to make for dinner yet, so I bought extra cheese just in case my taste buds were in the mood for a quesadilla.

Upon getting home, I realized I had some WAY overdue basil in the fridge that I needed to utilize stat, or else I’d be wasting foods. And in these tough economic times, there is no room for being wasteful. So I committed to a pasta dish for the evening and threw my chicken in the pan with a RIDIC amount of crushed garlic. (Sidenote: it pays to have parents and a gma who also love love garlic that they peel and grind/crush that shizz for you and bottle them up!) While the breasts were slowly cooking, I decided to Magic Bullet it up and put all my tomatoes with the basil together so the sauce would be all chunky. Alas, I think I put too much basil, to be non-wasteful of course, and a bit too much parsley that it was kinda potent and not so tomato-ey tasting. Oh yeah, and I over did it on the salt-age, so it was slightly salty as well.

Then I diced some onions and threw them into the pan after turning over the chicken. When they were a bit ready, I cut them up, threw them back in the pan and then doused it with the Magic blended goodness. In the end, there was still a bit of saltiness that I couldn’t dilute, no matter how much water I put, so I blended another tomato and just threw the pasta in the sauce to soak up the rest of the delicious goodness.

Oh yeah, I failed to mention that while this whole process was going on, I munched on the kettle chips, but only a few handfuls, and tried a bit of the butternut squash soup. At first the soup was sorta sweet, which I guess is to be expected. But then, I added some croutons for crunch and a dash of freshly grated parmesan cheese…hehe…lactose intolerance, you don’t bother me when I’m at home! A very delicious dinner indeed...Lastly, I topped it off with some cut up strawberries for dessert. I had to sift through them cuz the whole package was only $0.99 from Jon’s. And yes, it’s called Jon’s, not Von’s. Not a spelling error. They’re a pretty prominent store on this side of L.A., and cheaper too! Not too many greens in the meal, but at least I made it from scratch, right?!