Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From Days Gone By

Vanilla Pudding

I hated elementary school.  For me, it was six hours of sitting in miniature desks that caused my knees to bang against the bottom of the table.  Six hours of staring at the same teacher for 5 days a week, 180 days out of the year.  Six hours of having to put up with what I thought were obnoxious, immature kids who were rude and condescending (even though I probably was just as immature as them).  Six hours of feeling as if I was better than everyone else and that I was too smart for the subject matter being taught and then becoming frustrated when I didn't end up on top.  Thank God though that I eventually grew up and (hopefully) matured.


 the class of 2007- I am anonymously somehwere in this photo


Yet, I want to go back to the time when I was in elementary school.  I miss knowing that I would always be home by 3:00 pm with the whole afternoon ahead of me, free of homework.  I miss having an absolutely carefree attitude and not having to be responsible for anything other than my own happiness (I was am selfish like that).  I miss the days when in early August I would begin crying at the sight of Office Depot's back to school commercial, and starting the cycle of school all over again.  I still reminisce walking door to door in my grandma's neighborhood on Halloween, filling an empty pillowcase with candies and then bartering/stealing all of the Reese's peanut butter cups from my cousins when we all got home.  The memory of me and my cousins sitting at one end of the Thanksgiving table, and then a month later decorating a Christmas tree only to unwrap presents under it's twinkling lights the next week later sits in the back of my head.


Most of all however I miss taking the stapled brown paper lunch bag my mom made me every morning to school and then with great excitement tearing apart the crinkly packaging at lunch time to see what she had packed.  Sometimes it would be something boring like a turkey sandwich, some apples, and a bag of goldfish crackers, but other times the dull, brown paper all of a sudden became the shiniest gift wrap when it revealed something every kid wanted to see such as a box of Lunchables (the pizza one made you the talk of the lunch tables) or a container of Jell-O pudding.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bruxie

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches - Old Towne Orange


carpooling a necessity


Tucked near the end of Old Towne Orange literally steps away from a neighborhood lies Bruxie, a food stand specializing in waffle sandwiches.  I don't know when it opened or how established it is, but all I know is that all of a sudden it became a raging check-in spot on good ole facebook.  Everyday I would see another status that read, "eating at Bruxie", or "stuffing my face at Bruxie".  Who am I to miss out on all of the fun?

More or less a food stand at heart, Bruxie consists of the kitchen/order window surrounded by outdoor tables and umbrellas.  The lot that it sits at is downright puny: about 5 cars at the max can park leaving the majority of Bruxie customers hunting for spaces either in the neighborhood across the street or somewhere in the congested downtown area.


 
the menu


Although lines at Bruxie can wrap around the building, the service is simply outstanding- orders move quickly and the staff is extremely efficient.  Despite the fact that we arrived during what seemed to be peak business hours (late Sunday morning), our entire order (6 sandwiches, 4 drinks, and 2 fries) arrived in under 10 minutes.

 house-made strawberry lemonade


The strawberry lemonade ($2.50) was refreshingly tart- not mind blowing but quite nice on a hot day nonetheless.   The price was just a tad bit higher than I had hoped for though.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Lazy Day Afternoon

Leftover "Tacostada"

Some days you just feel the need to take a leftover tortilla and top it with shredded chicken, beans, onions, jalapeno, and leftover crumbles of Monterey Jack cheese...


And then sticking it in the toaster for a while.


And then halfway through eating it folding it up and consuming it like a taco (hence the "tacostada" name) because you're just too damn lazy to use a knife and fork.


Leftover "Tacostada"

Note: This recipe has instructions that is both pages long and extremely complicated.  So long in fact that I painstakingly spent hours abridging it so the home cook can attempt this recipe without a 100% chance of fail.

SERVES 1


From the fridge take out a tortilla, and put it on a paper towel.  An economy brand one works best, though if you really want to put some thought you can even use a paper plate.  In no particular order pile on shredded chicken, jalapenos, onions, and black beans.  However, if you want cheese that has to go on top.  

Place the layered tortilla in a toaster oven and toast for a couple minutes until the cheese is melted and you can start to smell the crumbs from the toast of that morning's breakfast beginning to burn.  Put the tostada on a plate and eat it at the counter.  When it becomes cool enough to handle, fold it up and eat it like a taco. 
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rags to Riches

Fresh Pasta Rags + Everyday Tomato Sauce

1) Because I don't have enough gray hairs, I've started a photo blog
2) Why is it already half way through July?


I love pasta...  Actually I love Italian cuisine in general.  If I had the choice to come back as a different ethnicity in my next life I would choose to be half Italian/half Vietnamese.  At it's best, Italian food to me is humble and wraps its arms around you on a cold night like the coziest of down comforters.  It's simple food that's extraordinarily easy and rewards you with the greatest feeling of gratification.  To be honest, a lot of Vietnamese food is kind of the same way as well.

get rollin

While I try to make fresh pasta as much as I can, I still haven't found the funds nor the space to buy a pasta machine, so I'm usually stuck rolling out pasta by hand.  Don't get me wrong, rolling out the satiny sheets of yellow noodles is a fun way to spend the day, but in order to achieve the correct level of thinness you're pretty much confined to a few select cuts of pasta, one of them being rags

 raggy

You see, even when well rested I find pasta dough to be pretty elastic/tough when rolling it out in a giant sheet for fresh ravioli or lasagna, so most of the time it remains too thick and doughy.  The only way I can apply adequate pressure is to roll it out noodle by noodle.  Thus, if you ever see me making fresh pasta you bet it's either just for me or for a momentous occasion.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shrimp Fajitas

Shrimp Fajitas

part four of the July 3rd Extravaganza 

 This post is short to say the least, in part because I was extremely busy this week (Deathly Hallow's Part 2 came out for pete's sake!) and also in part of being extremely sick of writing about Mexican recipes

 
ROY (red-orange-yellow)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

In the Fast Lane

Potato and Chorizo Empanadas + Roasted Corn Salsa

Part tres of the July 3rd Extravaganza 


And the onslaught of Latin-inspired recipes continue...  I do promise that after I'm done there won't be any similar recipes for an extremely long time my dear readers!  


Another WTF moment just occurred to me today...  It's almost halfway through July!?!?!  While it does mean that Deathly Hallows Part 2 is just that much closer it also means that I'm only a couple months away from starting college...


 to lessen future shock value please refer to blog title

Now a thing or two about Mexican chorizo: this sh*t is greasy.  It's the same stuff they use for chorizo and eggs or a chorizo and potato burrito at your local taqueria, and oh is it so spicy and delicious.  It's usually encased in a non-edible plastic casing that it's meant to be squeezed out of and the meat itself just crumbles apart on its own when cooked.  If you want to lighten the filling a bit (although there really isn't a purpose considering how much cheese and butter is in this recipe) I assume a fresh pork chorizo that's mixed with only spices and no additional fat would work just as well.  

The original recipe for this called for rolling out entire slabs of the dough and stamping out circles- something I find both wasteful and time consuming.  Any rough edges are going to be hidden by the crimping process anyway, so i just rolled each empanada out individually and was able to squeeze out a lot more than what the original recipe makes.   


 a labor of love

I've had a life-long obsession with the fast food chain Chipotle- their corn salsa in particular.  Is it overpriced for fast food?  Yes.  Is it giving up this false pretense of being a healthy alternative?  Maybe.  But I still love it just the same, especially when they allow me to load up my burrito bowls with an excess of various salsas and guacamole.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stuffed

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Part deux of the July 3rd Extravaganza

I saw Les Miserables at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles yesterday night (A flipping amazing experience that I'd gladly go to again if it were not for the skyrocketing ticket prices).  But do you know what else had sky-high prices?  The theater concession stand.  Begrudgingly I purchased 2 bags of peanut M&M's for $2.00 a piece knowing I wouldn't be eating for more than 3 hours.  In comparison, it was a steal compared to $3.50 for a bag of Pop Chips and the $7 bag of chocolate covered raisins.

happy times

I'm still recovering from a July 4th food coma- the life of a food enthusiast is tough, but someone's gotta take one for the team.

  the braising liquid

This recipe is pretty straight forward and easy compared to what I usually make for big parties or special occasions.  It called for Goya Tomato Sauce, which supposedly includes extra spices but wouldn't you know it none of the markets I know carry it.  As a compromise I just used a high-quality enchilada sauce that has tomato puree as the first ingredient and the results were still pretty stellar if I do say so myself.

 feast

happy happy times


Shredded Chicken Tacos
adapted from here


SERVES 4


shredded chicken
oil for frying
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts 
3/4 cup masa harina
1/2 onion, thinly sliced16 ounces enchilada sauce
2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder (mine was labeled as pasilla chili powder at my market)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar


to serve
tortillas
lettuce
tomatoes
queso fresco 
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat.  Dredge the chicken in 1/2 cup of the masa harina seasoned with salt and pepper.  Fry the chicken until golden brown and take it out.  If you find that some of the harina has burned in your oil, clean at your pan and add a fresh coat of oil.  Saute the onions until slightly browned.  Add the rest of the ingredients (excluding the chicken) and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add back the chicken and simmer on medium low until cooked through, about 20 minutes.  
Take chicken out, and when cool enough to handle, shred and add back into the sauce.  Continue to cook the chicken with the sauce until thick.  If you find your sauce to be runny add a couple tablespoons of masa harina to thicken.   

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy July 3rd!

DIY Edible Arrangements




Happy 4th my dear reader(s)! Are you impressed that I've actually submitted 2 posts in less than a month? Well so am I!

As I sit here typing up this post I'm looking at the thermometer outside, which reads 82 degrees. Admittedly for some that's probably nothing compared to where they live, but for a spoiled Southern Californian that's pretty freaking hot... As in stick your head in the freezer hot. Luckily though it cools down to a much nicer 70 degrees at night, which is the perfect temp for a July 3rd party. Yeah, my family is like that.



The Menu

If there's one thing I have trouble with, it's trying to estimate how much food to make for a party. Every single time I grossly overestimate how much food people are going to eat, and while leftovers aren't necessarily a bad thing at all, having half a sheet cake, 3 pints of ice cream, 14 bottles of snapple iced tea, a couple pounds of meat, and a dozen or two chorizo empanadas probably isn't what a dietician wants to see in one's fridge.

On top of that my cousin also arrived to dinner bringing rice pudding with caramelized apples and a Peanut Butter Napoleon Cake (a euphoric taste that was similar to a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup with the texture of a Kit Kat) that I'm currently scarfing down.


When I first heard about the concept of Edible Arrangements I thought it was a sick joke. Fruit from the grocery store that's cut into silly shapes and then given an outlandish price. I thought it would surely go out of business but years later they seem as ubiquitous as ever which I find a bit mind boggling.


Stars and... stars forever