4.29.2013

I Love L.A.

I’ve been back from California for two weeks now, and am only just getting back into my usual routine. It felt like such a short trip, I wasn’t ready to go back to real life. Or work. And with such a sad welcoming home, the Boston marathon bombing happened as I was getting picked up from Logan airport in Boston. New Englanders in general are a hearty bunch but Boston is their city and to see everyone around me so shaken was a little unnerving but it was also amazing to experience “Boston strong” and see the out pour of love and support from other cities. 

I did receive an enthusiastic welcome home from my cat, Ernie, which was nice. Although she has practically been glued to my side since, and has received extra treats regularly to soothe my guilty conscience. And I've finally gotten used to the idea of going back to work, that was an unusually hard one to accept this time around. 
  
While I’m glad to be back home in NH and (finally) settling back into my life, I feel like I reconnected with my city in a way that I haven’t had a chance to in the past. When I visit Los Angeles I typically have a few places that are a must for me to go eat at so I can get my fill of the things I'm missing in NH, surprisingly I didn't go to any but one. I wanted to, but my schedule didn't really allow for it and in the end I got to see a whole new side to my city. Every place I dined was a new and fresh experience for me, which made me fall in love with the diversity that I’ve always known L.A. to have but sort of limited myself off to the places I was determined to be loyal to, this is a little taste of what I experienced. 



I had my first burger from the restaurant inside the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood called 25 Degress at midnight the night I arrived, I didn't want to miss an opportunity!









The next day my friend Dione treated me to a roasted carrot salad from the cafe where she works called The Sycamore Kitchen on La Brea. A nice little cafe with a full bakery, espresso bar, seasonal breakfast and lunch specials and a lovely outdoor patio.


 




I got to spend a full day with my friend Andrew, my most trusted food and restaurant adviser, catching up and fooding around L.A., mostly Korea Town. Our usual goal is to pack in as much food and as many new places in as possible when I'm in town so I had my first experience with Korean dumplings which were amazing and then headed over to Kyochon chicken, a Korean fried chicken chain that will make you want to eat their garlic soy friend chicken for days. 



After our Korean feast we headed over the La Mill Coffee boutique in Silver Lake for some dessert and coffee. My inner barista geeked out on a new coffee and I got to try a brewing method called Eva Solo which is actually very similar to brewing loose leaf tea. Andrew knows the way into my foodie heart.







More of the food experiences that I failed to photograph included several bags of Flamin' Hot Cheeto Puffs my favorite processed food, and the discovery of Tapatio lays which were almost as tough to stop eating. A trip to Lemongrass in Eagle Rock with my lifelong friend Sara for a long chat over a delicious bowl of pho and crispy spring rolls. Happy hour at Kabuki for the spicy tuna salad with my favorite girls. My first taste of Bulgarini Gelato, scoops of both goat's milk with cocoa nibs (sort of a cool riff on chocolate chip) and macadamia nut, totally killer. A lovely meal from Taix at my dear friend's wedding, where I also indulged in a couple delicious, and strong negronis. Although the nicest food experience while I was home was getting an excellent home cooked Egyptian meal by my new friend, Warda, on my last night in Los Angeles.

While I'm sad I missed out on some of my go-to favorites like Pho Super Bowl in Alhambra and of course my favorite west coast burger chain In-N-Out, it was so nice to break out of my shell a little bit and see the food in L.A. from the point of view of my friends in 2013.

I love L.A.

4.07.2013

Catching Up

Hello Friends! I’ve been a little absent lately with some life changes and planning a quick trip home to Los Angeles for a dear friend’s wedding. I’ve still been cooking, but mostly just trying to run down all the perishables in my fridge. What I’ve made include my favorite clam chowder and super simple seared tofu (recipes to come!) but a few weeks ago I made delicious fish tacos and never got around to posting the recipe.

Fish tacos are one of my favorite warm weather treats. Grilled fish, spicy salsa, rice and beans, and margaritas! The fresh ingredients like limes, cilantro and my dad’s simple guacamole remind me of my childhood, but the grilled fish and rice and beans are my riff on the fish tacos I used to eat at Wahoo's in Pasadena. My “secret” seasoning for the fish is Old Bay. I love it. I also use it as my base for blackened fish and even sprinkle some into clam chowder, too. I usually love to grill the fish on a charcoal grill but I haven’t got it out yet, so I did it in my cast iron grill pan instead.

It does take some time to prep all the necessary components but the tacos themselves are simple enough and a nice way to spend a warm and sunny Sunday. And if you have friends over to help, it makes it worth the while.
  

Grilled Fish Tacos
Four servings, about two tacos each
Ingredients
1 lb flakey white fish such as haddock
Old bay seasoning
¼ of a small cabbage shredded
8 small corn tortillas
Grilled red salsa, see recipe
Daddy's guacamole, see recipe
Fresh Mexican style cheese such as cotija or queso fresco*
Cilantro and sliced scallions for garnish

Method:
Over high heat warm a cast iron grill pan or outdoor grill, season both sides of fish with Old Bay. Oil the pan or grates on the grill and add fish cooking 2-3 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the fish. Place cooked fish on a platter and cover with foil, turn heat down and warm tortillas on the grill. To assemble the tacos place tortillas on a serving plate, add large pieces of fish on top of tortillas and garnish with cabbage, cilantro and scallions. Serve with white rice and beans, and fresh radishes. Set out salsa, guacamole, extra limes and cheese on the side. Enjoy with a margarita or Mexican beer.


Grilled Red Salsa 
This is my basic red salsa recipe that I always use. At the peak of tomato season, I'll blend all of the ingredients together without broiling them for a fresh salsa that is refreshing, quick and just as delicious. 
Ingredients
Five medium sized fresh tomatoes
1 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 jalapeños (remove seeds for less heat)
Small handful of cilantro
Salt to taste

Method:
Remove skins from garlic and onions then halve the tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños. Place the vegetables on a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil and place under the broiler on low until lightly blistered and charred about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. Let vegetables cool. Blend vegetables with cilantro to taste in a food processor or immersion blender until mostly smooth. Blend in batches if your processor is small and mix in a bowl to finish. Salt to taste and chill.


Daddy's Guacamole
This is really just a riff on my dad's guacamole but his is just as simple, and this is how I prefer it. You are welcome to add in tomatoes, onions, etc for a chunkier and heartier guacamole, if that's what you prefer. 
Ingredients
2 ripe avocados
½ lime
1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
Ground cumin to taste, about two teaspoons
Salt to taste

Method:
Halve and pit avocados, scoop out flesh into a bowl, add minced garlic clove, squeeze lime, cumin and salt to taste. Mash with a fork until well mixed, leaving some pieces of avocado for texture.





*Fresh Mexican cheeses can still be hard to find in some areas outside of a large city. So if you can’t find them, a common replacement in Hispanic households is the green can of Kraft parm. It sounds strange, I know. But it’s similar in taste and texture to crumbled cotija and something that I use myself mostly because it’s what my dad always used while I was growing up. I often sprinkle it on top of a tostada spread with guacamole or red salsa, it’s delicious. I promise!