Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

I absolutely love the show Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network. I literally have compiled a list on my phone of the places they've suggested so if I'm ever out and about in those cities, I know where to go and what to try. Then tonight, it hit me - I should include my own favorites on my fabulous food blog! So I'll start off with the last three episodes I remember watching -

The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Obsession
What am I obsessed with? What food makes me wake up in the middle of the night with sudden cravings? What makes me turn into a puddle of drool at the mere mention of it? Simple: french fries. I am a sucker for french fries. I could eat them for a meal all on their own. I could have ordered a $100 steak and leave some behind, but there would not be a single fry left sitting on that plate. When I've eaten a huge meal and I'm completely stuffed, I find myself still picking at the fries on my
plate, or sometimes my dinner-mates. And where have I had the best fries ever? Michael Chiarello's Bottega in Napa, CA.
We ordered a side of fries, expecting to get a tiny plate. Oh no, Mr. Chiarello doesn't do what you expect. We were presented with this mountainous pile of amazingly delicious parmigiano truffle fries. I cannot explain how incredible the mix of nutty parmigiano reggiano, sea salt, garlic, and truffle oil is with a perfectly fried potato spear. If I had the means, I would fly up to Napa on a regular basis just to have those fries - they're that good.

The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Burgers
Like any good American, I love a good burger. But I've also semi-burned myself out on them from years of crappy fast-food versions. So it's wonderful to find a burger that not only is a good meaty burger patty, but is topped with such surprisingly delicious items, it's criminal. And what makes this burger even better? it's a secret item - it's not listed on the menu! I'm talking about the "Prime" burger at Firefly in Studio City, CA. Aside from this being a ridiculously cool place with a great atmosphere (it looks like an old library in the front bar area), great drinks, and a four-sided fireplace, they have this amazing burger hidd
en away there too! The burger is gigantor, and it's topped with avocado, bleu cheese, grilled onions, arugula, bacon, brioche, with a side of very skinny fries. Now after explaining my love for the pomme frite, it may be hard for you to imagine anything that could distract me from those
delicious french fries, but this burger actually can do that. The patty was incredibly juicy and a perfect medium rare, and the mix of sweet, sour, and tart of the toppings was the perfect compliment. It's amazing.

The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Breakfast
Anyone who knows me knows that after a good night with adult beverages I must take a trip to none other than Corona, CA's "finest" breakfast establishment: the Silver Dollar Pancake House. This place has been in Corona forever - it has been open since the 1950s! They are only open till 4pm, and I can guarantee there's will be a wait if you go on a wee
kend morning. There's an unspoken set of rules that go along with visiting the Silver Dollar Pancake House - if no one is there to write down your name, it's acceptable to write it down in the notebook yourself; patrons should scoot down the vinyl bench as their name gets closer to the top of the list; it's perfectly acceptable to ogle the food of the patrons sitting at the counter; stay out of the waitresses way - they don't slow down! The decor is horrendous - Early American Hodge-Podge - but perfectly suited for the diner. I brought my best friend there recently, and forgot to tell him about the portion sizes - the food comes in only one size: gimongous! He got a stack of pancakes and an egg breakfast - more than any human (even an athletic guy like him) could possibly eat. Me, I stick to the breakfast burritos. I get them with bacon, which is always perfectly crispy and juuuuust salty enough. They serve them with a side of hash browns, but I prefer to unwrap my burrito and spoon a heap of them right inside. It's the perfect cure for the morning after a late night!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catching Up

In the past few months I've been living on fast food and Clif Bars. The good side: I now know which places have the best iced tea. The down side: I've been feeling like a bear shot with a tranquilizer dart. I got the chance to cook a few times, and I will dispense my culinary treasures in just a few moments, though first I would like to personally apologize to my sister for taking so long to update. She apparently enjoys my blathering on about food. :)

Tortellini with Keilbasa

Pretty straightforward meal - cook tortellini, slice up keilbasa and cook in a large pan, jarred sauce, and "poor man's garlic bread" (sandwich bread with butter and garlic powder thrown under the broiler). Delicious and super easy to throw together in a short amount of time.

First ever burger attempt!

I mixed the ground beef with minced garlic and onion and created a mustard/horseradish/malt vinegar spread for this burger. My failure: I made the patty wayyyy too small so there was a bad meat to bun ratio. My success: the spread was pretty amazing paired with the garlic and onion in the meat.

Cheesy Goodness

I felt like alfredo pasta one night, but didn't have any on hand. This was my off-the-cuff replacement. However, I didn't measure anything, so the amounts are approximate.

I started off by mixing a couple Tb. butter, 1/4 c. heavy cream, and an egg in a small saucepan on low heat. I raided my fridge for cheese choices, and threw in a couple torn up slices of deli swiss and provolone. I added a bit of grated parmesan and had a teensy bit of goat cheese left that I threw that in as well. I added black pepper and a bit of dried parsley at the very end. Quite delicious!

Breakfast Sandwiches

This is my sister's favorite thing I cook, or at least her most requested. The finished product varies depending on what ingredients I have on hand, but this is the ultimate recipe:

1-2 slices bacon (or pancetta)
1 egg
1 Tb. spicy brown mustard (or pub mustard)
2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tb. butter
goat cheese, crumbled
English muffin

1. Begin frying the bacon in a shallow pan and turn on the broiler. When the bacon is cooked to your liking (I like mine crispier), allow to drain on paper towels, but retain the rendered fat.
2. As the bacon cooks, mix together the mustard and butter. For more kick, swap the measurements for the two mustards. Spread this mixture on a split english muffin and top with crumbled goat cheese. Place under broiler to toast until cheese begins to brown.
3. Use the bacon grease to fry the egg to your liking (I like a pretty firm yolk). Assemble the sandwich and devour!

I will add the rest of the updates soon. And hopefully I will get back to cooking more often. Oh, and I'll present my first ever Thanksgiving meal!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who Ya Callin' Chicken?

I've been ridiculously busy this week with schoolwork and rehearsal that I've been living off of McDonalds and Jack In the Box, rather than cooking actual meals. Tonight I made it a goal to make a real meal, and it was well worth it!

Breaded Chicken
2-3 pieces of bread, toasted
2 eggs, scrambled
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
2 chicken breasts
2 pinches poultry seasoning
2 pinches Mrs. Dash

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put bread in food processor and pulse to create small crumbs. You'll need three separate shallow dishes for the breading. Put the eggs in one dish, the flour and one pinch of each seasoning in a second dish, and the bread crumbs, cheese, and rest of seasonings in a third dish.
2. Heat EVOO in a medium sized skillet, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Coat each chicken breast in the following order: flour, egg, bread crumbs. Once coated, place in skillet and cook until each side is golden brown.
3. Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and put in oven for 10-12 minutes.

Super delish!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Food Find #1

For those days when I really don't want to deal with the clean-up from cooking, its nice to have a list of places to get a good meal. I was thrilled to find such a place tucked away in a completely unassuming location - hidden in plain sight. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Kabob Hutt!

Kabob Hutt
I ended up at his place yesterday for lunch, and it was amazing! I wasn't sure what to get, it being my first time getting Persian food, so I played it safe with some hummus for an appetizer and the chicken kabob for my meal. I couldn't have been happier with my selection! The hummus was really good and the flatbread it was served with was perfect. The chicken on the kabob was supremely well seasoned and the veggies with it were gloriously grilled. Basmati rice with saffron? Um, YES PLEASE! It's hidden in plain sight on Main street, right next to the Econo Lube 'n' Tune. The building has been a hundred different things over the years, but this is its best incarnation by far! I will definitely be coming back to this place soon!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bacon and Pasta, AKA: A Sign There's A God And He Wants Us To Be Happy

I'm seriously overworked lately, and definitely behind on household projects. I decided to actually cook dinner tonight for the first time in about a week. I've been surviving on sandwiches and leftovers, which are not the most exciting of meals. Then, of course, I'm watching Food Network and they're talking about the best comfort foods in America. This inspires me to make a meal that is in no way a healthy meal - but damn, is it good! Tonight: spaghetti carbonara.

Spaghetti Carbonara
2-3 slices thick cut bacon
1/2 lb. spaghetti
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
2 Tb. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping

1. Put a pot of water on to boil as bacon is placed in a cold cast iron skillet to cook. When bacon is cooked through, remove from skillet and let drain on paper towels. Keep rendered fat.
2. While bacon is cooking, chop onion and garlic. Add to bacon fat and stir until transluccent. Add pasta to boiling water.
3. Drain pasta and add to skillet, coating in rendered fat. Whisk together eggs, milk, and cheese and slowly add to skillet, stirring continuously to prevent egg from scrambling. Crumble bacon and add to pasta.
4. Top pasta with extra cheese and devour. :)

Seriously - this meal is a sign that there is a god and he wants us to be happy. It's pasta, cheese, and bacon! How could you go wrong?! This is definitely in the top ten favorite meals of all time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Culinary Boyfriend

Alton Brown - My culinary boyfriend. I have a special little nook in my heart for this nerdy chef. But tonight I was watching the latest Iron Chef America on my DVR and could not stop laughing at one of his comments. It is Battle: Truffle, and his favorite Canadian, Kevin Brauch, asks Alton to describe how good truffles are for those at home who have never tried them. Alton's immediate response:
"Those white truffles are better than 97% of the sex you'll have during your lifetime."

Alton, I know you're married, but I love you and want to have your nerdy food babies.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Tonight I was feeling both hungry and ambitious. It probably also didn't hurt that I was desperately avoiding work. I knew I wanted sweet potatoes in some form or another, but didn't know what else to make. Inspired by "What Would Brian Boitano Make?", I decided that steak with basalmic glaze would pair perfectly with my lovely, orange treat. Might I just say, it was a wonderful decision.

Pan Seared Steak with Basalmic Glaze and Sweet Potato Fries

For steak:

1 top sirloin steak 1 Tb. butter 1 clove garlic, smashed pinch of thyme

For glaze:

1/4 c. basalmic vinegar 2 Tb. brown sugar 1Tb. butter

For fries:

1 large sweet potato EVOO Season salt S&PNumbered List

  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Slice sweet potato into fry-sized sticks. Toss with EVOO, season salt, and salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been greased with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing about halfway through.
  2. Preheat a cast iron skillet with a thin layer of canola oil. Thoroughly salt and pepper the steak and sear in skillet for about 2 minutes, each side. Meanwhile, add butter and garlic, basting the steak as it sears. Transfer the steak to the oven and cook for 5-7 minutes for a medium rare-medium steak. Let sit for at least 5 minutes before adding glaze.
  3. While steak is cooking, heat basalmic vinegar, brown sugar, and butter in a small saucepan on med-high. Whisk ingredients together and stir on occasion until it thickens. Drizzle on top of steak. Extra glaze can be used with olive oil as a dipping sauce for crusty bread.

I was honestly impressed with my own abilities tonight. The meal turned out more delicious than I expected. I actually ended up dipping the fires in some of the glaze, and the flavor combination was surprisingly good - sweet, salty, and savory all at the same time. Success!