Monday, April 30, 2012

LudoBites Best of Foie

Rumor is swirling in the air that there will be an official ban on foie gras in California starting July 1st. Chef Ludo is all about "fighting for the right to foie" and is flaunting his love of delicious duck liver in their faces. Whatever happens to the duck liver industry come July 1st is still a mystery, as groups have tried to ban foie gras before and to no avail. We were able to snag hard to get seats to Chef Ludo's Best of Foie event and eagerly waited to see what delightful dishes would be served. In my calorie count log, I wrote 10,000 calories and drew a sad face for the day - but it was worth it.

foie gras cromesqui "mm"

We were told to put the entire ball intt our mouth and bite down, as there was melted foie grad and truffle inside. I guess my mouth wasn't quite big enough, but it did squirt as promised. It would have been hilarious if it landed across the table on Boyfriend, but it just ended up going all over my hand.

foie gras dynamite, tuna, lichi

foie gras miso soup, radish, turnips

foie gras black croque-monsieur, grapes

foie gras "crepinette," morels, pears, green asparagus

foie gras sundae, brioche, black berries

Five courses of foie gras was pretty epic. My favorite dishes were the cromesqui, dynamite and miso soup. I'd eat those dishes over and over again - hopefully they show up on a future LudoBites dinner menu! But that's only if the ban doesn't get overturned by July 1st ...

Gram And Papa's
227 E 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Mexican food is oh-so-delicous but eating out in Mexican restaurants almost always equals 1000+ calorie plates. I think a lot of the calories come from the rice and beans though, because I calculated every ingredient that went into these babies and they come out at a cool 250 calories per enchilada. That's pretty awesome, right?

It is a bit time consuming to make these and will set you back a couple hours so its probably best to make them on a weekend when you have more time. Otherwise you'll have to be content with eating a bit later than usual. But trust me, your family will not mind once they taste these enchiladas filled with chicken, tomatillo sauce and a light sprinkling of monterey jack cheese. Serve with rice and beans, if you want to make them or just some steamed vegetables.

I've decided to do this post in a more step-by-step basis so it's a lot easier to follow along - and so you can see how each step looks. The timeline may be a bit daunting but it's as easy as putting a sandwich together. I've used an entire deli chicken before (like the kind you can get hot from Albertsons/Ralphs/Costco) but this time I had four large poached chicken breasts on hand so I just used those instead as they came out to almost 3 pounds. Boyfriend didn't enjoy poached chicken so I had to think fast to find another way he'd be willing to eat them - bam! chicken enchiladas it was!

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
adapted from Tyler Florence

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
2 lb tomatillos, husked
2 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered or whole
8 garlic cloves
2 jalapeno, seeds removed if you want it less spicy (use 4 if you like more spice)
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, storebought
Chopped cilantro leaves
1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 lbs), boned and meat shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 14 medium corn torillas or 10 large flour tortillas
1/2 lb Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Garnish: sour cream, chopped tomatoes, cilantro leaves, avocado

First, make the tomatillo sauce. Preheat oven to 400F. Remove the paper-y husks from the tomatillos and give them a quick rinse. Put the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos into a baking dish and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of oil, just enough to give everything a light coating so they don't burn in the oven. Roast for about 1 hour, stirring once halfway through. The tomatillos should be soft and bursting a bit.

While the tomatillos are roasting, take time and shred your chicken if you have not done so already. Also grate your cheese through the large holes of the box grater.

Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. You may have to do this in two batches (I did because my food processor is smaller); if so, split the spices and cilantro evenly between each batch.

Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute.

Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute, which is a sort of velvety sauce. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. The sauce should look thick when a ladle is dragged through it.

Turn off the heat, add three cups of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro (about 1/2 cup) and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Change the temperature of the oven to 350F and begin assembling the dish. Heat a medium pan over medium-high meat and warm torillas on both sides until lightly browned and pliable (if you don't do this then the tortillas will break when you try to roll them). Additionally (only if you are using corn tortillas, this doesn't work with flour tortillas) you can fry them lightly in oil but that adds WAY too many calories and I don't think it made a discernable difference when I did it once. Take a large baking dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa.

Set up your work station by having a cutting board in front of you, the pan of chicken with tomatillo salsa, the bowl of shredded cheese and the sauce smeared baking dish all in front of you. Then wash your hands (hygiene, people!) and roll up your sleeves, because this will get a bit messy.

Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas.

Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish with your choice of cilantro, tomato, sour cream and avocado. Or anything else you like - jelly beans, soy sauce, etc. Whatever.

Ta-da! You are totally finsihed. Using the smaller corn torillas and stuffing them to the max, I was able to make 14 enchiladas. If you use the larger flour tortillas then you will probably make 10-11. Bake them right away or put them in the refrigerator and just pop them in the oven the next day for a quick dinner. I made nine in one pan and five in another, which I gave to Sona and her husband. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)

It's not often that Boyfriend is willing to go to brunch - mainly because it involves driving to Silverlake or Downtown Los Angeles. There aren't too many brunch places in the SGV, but if there are then please let me know. When he suggested to choose "anyplace you want" for brunch, I jumped at the opportunity have him take me to someplace I've wanted to try for awhile.

MB Post is the new restaurant of David LeFevre. He is a highly acclaimed chef, earning The Water Grill one Michilin-star while he was at the helm; additionally, he has worked at Charlie Trotters. When we walked in to the restaurant, he saw my Cookie Monster shirt and complimented me on it - shows he has good taste in cartoon mascots.

The restaurant has an airy, comfortable feel with a lot of natural lighting and wood. Since it was a nice day all the doors up front were opened to let in the beach air. I wonder if it can get too cold in the winter. The menu has "small plates" that are meant to be shared - the waitress suggested one bread, one side and an entree for each person. We were happy to comply.

personalized "post" containing menus

Intelligentsia coffee

spiced apple hand pies, salted caramel sauce

nueske's bacon, rosemary, brown sugar, chili

burrata & roasted pepper sandwich, green olive pesto, house chips

truffle honey laced fried chicken,kholrabi slaw

We were definitely stuffed after all that food. The sandwich was a bit run-of-the-mill, though very well prepared. But how can you go wrong with burrata? Everything else was divine, especially the hand pies (which Boyfriend wasn't impressed by) and the fried chicken. He especially went crazy over the bacon. Whoever is the "neuske" in "neuske's bacon" is a winner. Definitely need to come back to try the steak and eggs, the poached eggs over polenta and the chimichanga.

Now that I've started counting my calories during the day (those suckers add up SO FAST), I've decided that weekends would be my cheat days where I'm careful but not counting - allows me to be a bit more free in my fooding choices. I think it works out best this way. Yay for fried chicken! Your calories don't count on a Saturday morning.

Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)
1142 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wang Jia Restaurant

My parents love getting together for lunch or dinner and if it were up to them, we'd do it weekly. Or even bi-weekly. And there is no way that is happening. My mom and I have very similar personalities so whenever we are in a confined space for a long period of time, someone will up the crazy meter and all of a sudden, no one is having fun. Innocent bystanders caught in the cross-hairs are Boyfriend, my brother and my dad.

However, sometimes I have to humor her, right? She suggested trying out a restaurant only a couple blocks from where I live so Boyfriend and I were able to walk over. The place wasn't very crowded and specialized in Shanghainese food - a lot of braises, noodles and buns/dumplings.

complimentary egg drop soup

stir fried rice cakes

loofah with tofu balls

three ingredient crispy noodles

sauteed A-vegetables

Wu-Xi spareribs, spinach

beancurd sheets, yellow chives, shrimp

General Tsao's chicken

I have no idea if my mom ordered that last dish to be funny since Boyfriend is Italian. The food was good, though one of our dishes never arrived. Incidentally, that was the one I wanted the most. There are lunch specials too so be sure to take advantage of it! Afterwards you can walk two more blocks to Half-and-Half for some boba.

Wang Jia Restaurant
156 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Walking Dead S2E13 - Beef Short Ribs in Rice Wine

Honestly, after the post on Urasawa, I never wanted to update my blog again. It was so epic that I wanted it to the very first, top post that people saw when they came to my page. For all five of you that read this blog! (hi there)

But the blog must be updated, and a few weeks ago was the Season 2 finale of The Walking Dead. All I can say is, someone really really needs to kill Carl. Apparently I'm not alone in this sentiment either, because if you look around online there are plenty of blogs and posts and Facebook pages dedicated to this mindset.

Since it was the season finale, I wanted to make something that epitomized our dedication to watching every week and that wrapped up our Sunday dinners. Enter Gordon Ramsay and his short ribs. I was really intrigued with the soy and fish sauce in the recipe, as well as the Shao Xing wine. They made my house smell so delicious in the 4-5 hours they were braising in the oven. If anyone else watches the show, what did you think of the finale? I know some people said they were a bit disappointed. Can't wait till next season - you're invited for dinner anytime.

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Rice Wine and Spices
Serves 4
from Gordan Ramsay's Twitter account

3 1/3 lbs (1.5kg) short ribs, cut into individual ribs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbsp (100g) plain flour
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
2cm knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
6 shallots, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 red long finger chillies, finely sliced
3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp tomato purée
1 cup (225ml) rice wine
about 4 cups (1–1.2 litres) beef stock
3/4 lb (400g) fresh tomatoes, cored and diced
2 Tbsp dark sweet soy sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 350F. Dust the ribs in seasoned flour. Heat a large casserole or Dutch oven and add 2–3 Tbsp of oil. Season the beef and fry for 3–4 minutes until golden brown, then fry the other side until the meat is browned all over, adding more oil if necessary. Do this in batches, transferring the meat to a colander set over a bowl when browned.

Add the garlic, ginger, shallots, carrots, chillies, star anise, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds and bay leaf to the casserole. Heat for 1–2 minutes then stir in the tomato purée. Cook for 2–3 minutes more. Deglaze the pan with the rice wine. Bring to the boil and use a spoon to scrape the caramelised cooking juices from the bottom of the pan – this will give the stew more flavour. Return the beef to the pan. Top up with the stock, making sure the ribs are submerged in the liquid. Cover with a lid or foil and cook for 2 hours.

Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Strain the liquid and return it to the casserole. Put the beef in the liquid with the tomatoes, soy sauce, fish sauce and honey. Return to the oven, covered, and cook for 1 hour. Serve immediately with steamed rice and vegetables.