Monday, October 29, 2012

Big Gay Ice Cream & Canter's Deli

I've heard a lot about the Big Gay Ice Cream truck, which is based out of New York and therefore very very far away for me to make a quick run to ... BUT then I found out that the truck was doing a pop-up week in Los Angeles! Even though I had to travel an hour and a half on a Friday night to get to Fairfax, it was worth every minute of the traffic time.

We got there only a few minutes after they opened and it was good that we did ... after we had finished ordering, there were about twenty people in line behind us. We also managed to chat with the owners a bit and advise them to visit Fossilman's in Alhambra.

salty pimp - vanilla, dulce de leche, sea salt, all dipped in chocolate

bea arthur - vanilla, crushed nilla wafers, dulce de leche

I wish the truck were here all the time, because then I'd eat it all the time. Next time I'd ask for more sea salt on the salty pimp; I really like salt. Also, I love how they fill the entire cone with ice cream so I didn't have to eat an empty cone at the end. Genius.

Afterwards, we walked down the street to Canter's Deli for a quick bite. I had wanted to go to Animal but Boyfriend wasn't feeling well and didn't want to super rich food there. We ended up ordering a bunch of different items ... actually, really random items.

chicken broth

complimentary pickles

hot tea with a ton of honey

liverwurst on rye with side of coleslaw

meatloaf, potato pancakes (instead of mashed potatoes), steamed veggies

You know, I never had meatloaf until I went to college ... I was in the Pippen dining hall of Middle Earth (seriously) with my friend Judith and I asked her what she was eating. I was thus introduced to both meatloaf and yellow squash. Meatloaf is magical! I seriously don't know why people make fun of it in books; I had only known of meatloaf's existence up to that point from books. Random tangent, but all you people out there need to appreciate the loaf!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Red Shrimp Chowder with Corn

Cold weather time is finally upon us and that means it's time to make comfort food! Comfort food makes me gain weight. And umm, I know it's getting cold in other parts of the country but here in Los Angeles, it was 85 degrees today. But this morning it was down to about 65 degrees! That's cold. You people on the East Coast probably are shaking your heads right now and have no sympathy for me whatsoever.

This soup is delicious and best to make at the tail end of summer or the very beginning of fall, when fresh corn is still available. You can definitely make it with frozen corn as well, but I've never tried it that way before. Fresh corn has a sweetness to it that frozen just can't capture.

You cut the kernels off the corn and combine the naked corn cobs with the shrimp shells and either water or clam juice to make an awesome broth. I had some lobster tail shells in the freezer so I threw those in as well. Afterwards you add all the ingredients except for the shrimp and let it all cook together until delicious and turn off the heat. THEN stir in all the chopped up raw shrimp. The heat from the soup will cook the shrimp to tender perfection and ensure that they don't get tough and chewy. So genius.

The soup is perfect for a chilly night in., especially in this cold(er) weather. Make yourself a big bowl because there is no oil going into this, just fresh and healthy ingredients. Well except a little but from the bacon, but goes that really count?! Also, I didn't use the bacon. I'm ashamed of myself.

Red Shrimp Chowder with Corn
adapted from The Wednesday Chef

4 cups fish stock, clam broth, chicken broth or water (you can buy bottled clam broth at the market)
1.5 lbs shrimp, shelled, chopped into pieces roughly 1/2-inch thick, shells reserved
4 ears corn, shucked, kernels cut off, cobs and kernels reserved separately
2 sprigs basil cut into fine ribbons, stems reserved
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 lb bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
Red pepper flakes
28-ounce can whole tomatoes, squashed by hand, juice reserved

In a medium pot, bring the fish stock, broth or water to a boil with the shrimp shells, naked corn cobs and basil stems. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

In a large pot set over medium heat, melt the butter and fry the bacon in it. When the bacon is crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Cook the onion, garlic, celery, fennel and carrots in the hot fat until softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.

Strain the shrimp and corn cob broth into the pot. Add the corn kernels, potatoes, bay leaf and red pepper flakes to taste (about 1/4 tsp). Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush about a third of the potato against the side of the pot. Stir in the squashed up tomatoes and reserved juice, return to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Turn off the stove heat. Add the chopped up shrimp, stir well and adjust the seasoning to taste, adding salt, pepper and more red pepper flakes. The shrimp will cook from the heat of the soup; it's a miracle! Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the reserved basil leaves and bacon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Walking Dead S3E2 - Tasty Noodle House

I failed at the cooking this week, as you can see from the take-out box in the picture above. Or did I cook but serve everything in take-out boxes? No, that didn't happen. I went to a wedding this weekend in Vegas and got back just in time on Sunday night to grab some take-out and plop myself down in front of the TV.

I've heard that Jonathan Gold raved about the ja jaing mein at this Chinese restaurant close to my apartment so I thought I'd give it a try. I absolutely love ja jiang mein and always want to have it; I remember being about six years old at the (now closed) Dumpling House in Temple City. I have a distinct memory of my dad mixing the noodles up and explaining to me what the dish was. Ahh good food times.

pork buns

ja jiang mein

The pork buns were very very good actually ... the dough was very fluffy, like eating clouds. The noodles were also good although it was a bit off putting that they were cold. I've never had them cold before and I think I appreciate the hot ones better. But for a quick dinner, it hit the spot. And less than $15, the price can't be beat!

Tasty Noodle House
827 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap Year 2

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

It is that time of year ... the time for cookies. Or, to be more exact, time for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

My friends were slightly worried last year when I told them I was participating because they thought maybe I'd get poisoned. But here I am, still alive and kicking! Nothing was poisoned or anything less than delicious. I know nothing was poisonout because I made Boyfriend eat a cookie first from every batch I received. If he didn't start foaming at the mouth or kneeling over after five minutes, the cookies were safe. I made molasses spice cookies in 2011 so now I have to brainstorm as to what to make in 2012.

Interested in joining? The more the merrier! In its inaugural 2011 year, over 600 people participated. The deadline to sign up is Monday, November 5th and there will be a $4 donation required this year. All proceeds will go towards Cookies For Kids' Cancer and OXO will be matching every donation dollar for dollar, up to $100K. So not only are you baking (fun), you are getting three dozen cookies in the mail (more fun, that eating part) and you are making a difference in the lives of children. How many better reasons would there be for participating?

Plus, you get to virtually meet some great people and get introduced to some new blogs which are full of good eats ... last year, I received or sent cookies to:

Carroll (Vanilla Lemonade / twitter handle @CarrollVMohler)
Amanda (an organic process / twitter handle @loveandnachos)
Madison (Dessert Pocket / twitter handle @dessertpocket)
"Susie" (Susie Freaking Homemaker / twitter handle @M_Olson1)
Chirstina (Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe / twitter handle @SwtLvndrBkeShpe)
Kate (Kate's Ideas / twitter handle @KateSnapp)

Hello ladies! Hope you are all joining again this year ... maybe we'll get each other again via luck of the draw!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Walking Dead S3E1 - Soy Brined Roast Chicken

THE WALKING DEAD IS BACK!! After a bleak summer without any zombie killings, Boyfriend and I were super excited that the new season was starting. Lookit Carl in the screenshot above, shooting his gun like a seasoned professional veteran, even though he's only eight years old. Anyone else notice how every single shot or arrow fired by the group were all dead-center-head-shots? What kind of crazy Ricktatorship action did Rick employ to whip them all into shape, I wonder.

plates waiting to be filled

This week, for the inaugural dinner, I went with roasting a chicken. Doing something like that seems to only work on the weekends, when you have time to sit around for a couple hours. Otherwise during the week, the only roast chicken I'm eating are the already prepared ones from Ralphs/Albertsons/Costco.

I went through some old emails from Vanessa and tried to find the recipe she had given me via Facebook about two years ago, when she roasted two chickens for Christmas Book Club (Hi Vanessa! Remember that?). Luckily, I was able to find it pretty quickly after searching "chicken Vanessa" in my email account. Although I still think hers was better, the chicken was pronouced to be the best I ever made by Boyfriend.

Served it all nicely cut up with garlic rosemary potatoes, cumin scented roast carrots and a tomato/avocado salad. Along with a couple slices of cake for dessert - cookies'n'cream cake and a strawberry shortcake cake. Yumz.

Then the axe scene happened and it was the first time in The Walking Dead watching history that I totally regretted making any sort of food.

Soy Brined Roast Chicken

1 gallon warm water
3/4 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

6 lb chicken
Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil
Garlic powder, chili powder, fresh pepper, kosher salt

Combine all brine ingredients, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Allow to cool to room temperature. Put in chicken and brine for at least 4 hours or overnight. This recipe makes a lot of brine so feel free to put in other chicken pieces as well, or pork chops.

When ready to cook chicken, rinse the brine off, pat dry with paper towels and allow it to come to room temperature (about 30-45 minutes). Preheat oven to 375degrees.

Truss the chicken, if desired. Rub chicken with a layer of soy sauce, a layer of toasted seasme oil, a layer of rice wine vinegar and another layer of soy sauce. Season liberally with a layer of garlic powder, chili powder and fresh pepper and less libarally with a layer of kosher salt (the brine already has salt in it). Cut two tablespoons of butter into 4 slices and lay it over the breast of the chicken.

Bake on a rack in the oven for about 2 hours, if you have a six pound chicken. Roughly estimate to do about 20 minutes per pound, plus a bonus 20 minutes. Baste the chicken every 20 minutes or so with the fat that accumulates at the bottom of the roasting pan, paying especial attention to the breast section.

Let chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving so the juices can redistribute.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fishlips Sushi

Sushi from a food truck? Come again? That's what I originally thought when I first saw Fishlips Sushi parked in Abbot Kinney. They were offering pieces of their shrimp crunch roll as samples and to be honest, it wasn't shabby. Better than what I would have gotten at some sit down restaurants like, let's say Octopus. However, I was on a mission that day to eat at the Kogi truck and Jin Patisserie, so I passed up the opportunity to have any more.

A couple years later, I noticed via my Twitter feed that Fishlips sushi was parked relatively close to my work. On a rainy day, I decided to brave the rain and give it a try. I was delighted to see that their pieces of sushi were rolled into adorable little balls. Though the rice was the slightest bit too vinegar-y and the fish-to-rice ratio was the slightest bit off (a bit too much rice), the fish was remarkably fresh; the salmon and eel were my favorites. The above California Set Combo was perfect for lunch!