Thursday, May 12, 2011


When I was growing up, I don’t really remember eating that much Thai food. Probably because there weren’t many good Thai restaurants where we lived, but I’ll have to ask my parents why because my life as an adult is not complete without it.  Maybe it was because I didn’t especially like spicy food when I was little.  I don’t know.  But ohhh, how things have changed.

I was fortunate to have been able to go to Thailand several times to film shampoo and skin care commercials.   Working there was great, but my favorite part about being there was feasting on authentic Thai food.  Their dishes are SO flavorful and every bite packs a mean punch.  I don’t think you could dislike spicy food if you were Thai!  Almost every dish set my mouth on fire!

So when my April Bon Appétit arrived one afternoon, and I thumbed through to find the Thai Shrimp - Halibut Curry recipe, it gave me inspiration, despite only having two of the twelve ingredients (vegetable oil and fish sauce), to make a Thai dinner that night!  A few pages further into my magazine (and new best friend) was a great accompaniment to the curry; Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile.  

I was making Jasmine rice to go with the curry and with the pork & asparagus, so I was in search of a salad to round out the meal.  I found a few on Epicurious, so I used them as a guide to make an Asian Napa Cabbage Slaw.  I’d like to warn you that napa cabbage gets soggy rather quickly, so when you’re ready to eat is right about when you should dress the salad.  You can find all of the recipes below. And of course, you can adjust the spiciness to your palette.  Know that Thai chilies are effing SPICY.

Prep 50 minutes  Total 50 minutes
4 Servings

Thai red curry paste, unsweetened coconut milk, and fish sauce are available in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets.  Serve this curry over steamed Jasmine rice.

3 large limes
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch dice
1½ Tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2½  teaspoons Thai red curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen brand)
1 13½ to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
16 to 18 ounces halibut fillets, cut into 1½-inch chunks 
8 peeled and deveined uncooked large shrimp (8 to 10 ounces)
⅓ cup shopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chopped fresh basil

Finely grate enough peel from 2 limes to measure 1½ teaspoons.  Squeeze enough juice from 2 limes to measure 2 Tablespoons.  Cut third lime into wedges.

Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add chopped shallots, diced red bell pepper, and minced ginger; sauté until shallots are tender and peppers soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, 1½ teaspoons lime peel, and 2 Tablespoons lime juice.   Simmer gently, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle fish and shrimp with salt and pepper.  Add fish and shrimp to curry sauce.  Return to very gentle simmer and cook just until fish and shrimp are opaque in center, 5 to 6 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Gently stir in cilantro and basil;  serve with lime wedges.   

Prep 25 minutes  Total 25 minutes
4 Servings

Be sure to have all of your ingredients prepped and measured before beginning to make this quickly cooked stir-fry.

3 Tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 Tablespoon Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
12 ounces ground pork (preferably coarsely ground; sometimes labeled chili grind)
3 teaspoons Asian sesame oil, divided
12 ounces thin to medium asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on extreme diagonal into ½ - ¾ inch pieces
1 red jalapeño chili, minced with seeds
1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce 
1 teaspoon honey
2 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
Fine sea salt

Whisk 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch in medium bowl.  Add pork; toss to blend.  Heat 2 teaspoons oil in heavy large wok or deep skillet over high heat.  Add asparagus, chile, and ginger.  Toss until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer asparagus mixture to plate.  Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to wok.  Add pork mixture and stir-fry until browned, using spoon to break up pork into small pieces, 2 to 3 minutes.  Return asparagus mixture to wok.  Add remaining 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, oyster sauce, and honey; stir-fry until pork is cooked through, adding water by Tablespoonfuls if dry, about 2 minutes.  Add green onions; toss to incorporate.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Prep 15 minutes  Total 15 minutes
4 Servings

¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ Thai green chili, seeded, minced (be careful, they’re really spicy)
3 cups finely shredded Napa Cabbage
⅓ cup grated carrot
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves or ¾ teaspoon crumbled dried
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 Tablespoon sesame oil (or vegetable oil if you don’t have sesame)
3 or 4 Tablespoons chopped peanuts for garnish

sesame seeds for garnish

In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, nam pla, sugar, and salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved.  Slowly add the minced chili as a little goes a long way.  When you’re ready to serve the red curry and asparagus dishes is when you should finish this recipe.

In a large bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, mint, coriander, and oil.  Toss the salad well.  Add the lime juice and nam pla dressing and toss again.  Sprinkle the peanuts and sesame seeds as you like, either in the salad bowl, or on your individual plates.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I find myself constantly daydreaming about kitchens. Big, spacious, open, tons of counter space, large islands...I’m obsessed. I’ve never had a big, pretty kitchen to call my own, but it is definitely on the top of my “things I want someday” list.

Here are a few kitchens that are currently causing me to drool and swoon.



{Elle Decor}

{Lonny Mag}

{Elle Decor}

{Elle Decor}

{House Beautiful}

{House Beautiful}


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


A few weeks ago, I had some time on my hands, so I reorganized my spice drawer.  The thing with my spice drawer is that you can only see the lids of the spice jars, so it's difficult to identify what is what.  And there are just so many of them.  I used to waste so much time lifting the jars, then putting them back down if they weren't the spice I was looking for.  Lifting them up, putting them down.  Up and down.  Most days, I would only use crushed chili pepper or cinnamon, so of course, I'd know exactly where those spices were located.  But for anything else, it was always such a drag to have to go searching.

My Brother changed my life.  And I mean my P-touch 1180 label maker.  I do have two older brothers, but they have busy lives, so I didn't bother to call on them for help with this particular task.

Then I decided to be totally OCD and alphabetize my spices!

This labeling method has saved me a ton of time, money, an unnecessary stress;  Such as when I'm figuring out what spices I don't have and need to buy at the supermarket, or when I'm in the middle of cooking and need to rush into the spice drawer for a forgotten ingredient.  

I think when you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, organization is key to keeping your sanity.  If you don't know what you have stocked, you may make double purchases.  Or triple purchases!  What a waste!

Maybe the way I've organized my spice drawer is a little much for you, but it has streamlined my way around the kitchen.  I hope you get inspired to tackle an area in your kitchen, or somewhere in your house that is in disarray.  I guarantee you will only benefit from this! 


Monday, May 9, 2011


I had a wonderful and lazy weekend...which definitely doesn’t happen often enough. Saturday, I went over to a friend’s house for a BBQ and watched the Kentucky Derby (way to go Animal Kingdom!), and Sunday I hit up the nursery for some pretty flowers to add to my little garden. And that was about it. The rest of my weekend was spent reading, napping, and watching movies. Ahhhh.

But Sunday night, I found myself craving something light and sweet, so I decided on Wine-Soaked Strawberries with fresh Whipped Cream.

Whenever I drink sangria, I find myself constantly fishing the wine soaked fruit out of the bottom of my glass, savoring each bite, and wishing I had more. Enter Wine-Soaked Strawberries. The wine perfectly brings out the sweetness of the strawberries and paired with fresh whipped cream, it makes for a delightful and dreamy dessert.

Wine-Soaked Strawberries

2 cups fresh strawberries (cut into quarters)
1/2 cup red wine 
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine all three ingredients in large mixing bowl. Let soak in refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving. 
When ready to serve, place strawberries in a small dish or bowl. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Place sugar and whipping cream in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until cream reaches stiff peaks.


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Friday, May 6, 2011


For as many times as I eat Bossa Nova Brazilian Cuisine, I feel I should either own a time card because I'm there so much, or buy some equity in the company.  More than pho, I fill my weekly meal schedule at least 3 times with either the Bossa Salad with chicken (romaine, chopped fresh tomatoes, roasted almonds, gorgonzola, homemade croutons and chopped red onion, tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette), or the Traditional Boneless Chicken (marinated in Brazilian herbs and spices served with buttery white rice, black beans, salsa and yucca flour with your choice of french fries or fried plantains).  

Today for lunch, I got the Traditional Chicken with plantains.  Good story, I know.  I don't really stray from these two dishes because I don't need to.  I never get sick of either entree.  If you have a Bossa Nova in your area, you must try my suggestions if you haven't already.  I promise you'll love them both!

Add caption
This West LA location is at 10982 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA  90064 (310) 441-0404.

I like to mix the rice, beans and salsa together, then sprinkle the yucca flour...basically over everything.

It's really difficult not to polish off all of the rice.  It's so buttery and flavorful.  But if I plan on having chicken pho for dinner, I'll skimp on the carbs for now so I can save some room for them later!


Thursday, May 5, 2011


The 137th Kentucky Derby is this Saturday so dust off your favorite hat, and get ready!

It’s been 33 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 and although we have come close with Funny Cide in 2003, Smarty Jones in 2004, and Big Brown in 2008…I’m hoping 2011 (just like I hope every year) will be the year a horse dominates all three races; The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and The Belmont Stakes.

Personally, I love all the classic traditions that go along with The Kentucky Derby. Namely, the Mint Julep. It’s not Derby day unless there’s lots of big hats and Mint Juleps present!

Mint Julep
Makes 1 drink

1 scant ounce minted simple syrup (recipe below)
2 cups crushed ice
2 ounces bourbon (such as Woodford Reserve)
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish

To highball glass or silver Julep cup, add minted simple syrup, then 1 cup crushed ice, bourbon, and splash of water. Add enough of remaining ice to almost fill glass. Stir well and garnish with mint sprig.

To make minted simple syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bunch fresh mint

In heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Increase heat slightly, then simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take pan off heat, add mint leaves, and steep 15 minutes. Strain, then refrigerate syrup until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

Now, if you're like me and you're not a regular bourbon drinker....add an extra ounce of the minted simple syrup to your drink. I really like to taste a strong mint flavor.

May the best horse win!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

I can only imagine how stressful it would be to plan a wedding.  But to then plan a wedding the whole world is watching, I cannot fathom the pressures involved.  Then to be the caterer for this event? Does someone from the royal family call on Wolfgang Puck?  I mean, he caters the Oscars.  

Well, apparently you have to be a Royal Chef to cook for the Royals.  Turns out that in order to become a Royal chef, all you have to do is apply.  Just like a real job!

So my girlfriend, Maggie (with whom I always eat chicken pho), emailed me a link to a website that did great coverage of the food served at the reception at Buckingham Palace.  She thought I'd want to make some of the recipes for a tea party at my house sometime with the girls.  What a great idea! When I decide when and what dishes I'd like to make, I'll be sure to blog about it.  

Here's the fantastic website with a description of all the delicacies served in Buckingham Palace on the day of William and Kate's wedding:


Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This past weekend, I was pleasantly reminded how much I love living in LA.

On Saturday, I spent my day at the beach followed by a BBQ at a friend's house. I managed to get a slight sunburn on one of my legs (not attractive), but it's ok. The day was definitely worth it, and then some.

Sunday, I headed up to Malibu Wines. Visiting Malibu Wines has been on my list of things to do for a looong time so I was pretty excited to finally go.

In my opinion, the best part about the winery is that their tasting room is entirely outdoors. You can bring in as much food as you want to picnic, (they don't sell any food at the winery) but no outside alcohol is allowed. (and yes, they will check your bags) There are plenty of tables, chairs, and grassy areas to lay out a blanket and picnic to your heart's desire. 

Ok, so the wine wasn't the best wine I've ever tasted, but it wasn't bad either. Their Semler 2009 Sauvignon Blanc went perfectly with my turkey sandwich and kettle chips. It was my favorite wine of the day...light, crisp, and fruity.

Starting in June, they will begin staying open until 9pm. I noticed that they have plenty of outdoor lights strung, so I can only imagine how pretty it will look at night. They also have live music 1pm-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays! 


Monday, May 2, 2011


Yesterday I had the great privilege of going to Cochon 555, which took over the space in the beautifully renovated St. Vibiana's church in downtown Los Angeles.  Five heritage pig farmers and five vintners were paired with five local chefs:

Octavio Becerra of Palate Food + Wine  /  Berkshire Pig from ReRide Ranch

Chad Colby of Mozza  /  Hampshire Pig from Hopkins Hog Farm

Tim Goodell of Public Kitchen + Bar  /  Spotted Poland China Pig from Hopkins Hog Farm

Ben Ford of Ford's Filling Station  /  Hereford Pig from Hopkins Hog Farm

Joshua Whigham of Bazaar  /  Red Wattle Pig from Walnut Keep Farm

Utilizing all parts of the pig, these rockstar chefs were challenged to create a feast for 400 attendees, who would then cast their vote alongside a selected panel.  The winning chef of the Los Angeles event would be competing for one of ten spots at the The Grand Cochon throw down at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen in June.  

Before we were allowed inside the event, vendors set up outside and we were treated to wine and cheese, oysters on the half shell, a butchering demo by butchers Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada of Lindy + Grundy, and some simple appetizers before the big feast. 

View of St. Vibiana's

Erica Nakamura on the left, Amelia Posada on the right giving a butchering demo.

Outside atmosphere...what a gorgeous day...

This event was for the true pork lover.  I very much appreciate when chefs use every last part of the animal to create meals, and that's what this event was all about.  I think people are becoming more open to what was once thought of as bizarre food, such as dishes containing offal.  Now you see top chefs coming up with inventive ways of preparing innards or glands and people pay top dollar for the fine dining experience.  Think of how amazing eating out would be if everyone in the country was this adventurous with food!  Baby steps.

Each chef/restaurant set up shop inside the church and lines for the tastings were long.  But well worth it.  

We started with Joshua Whigham who heads the kitchen at Bazaar in the SLS Hotel.  

Here, among other dishes, he was serving pork sausage with a cream sauce along with a cream croquette.  

Delicious, but we soon found that other chefs were doing more elaborate tastings... like next door at Public Bar + Kitchen with chef Tim Goodell.  His line was long.

Look at this gorgeous plate!!!

I thought I'd taken a picture of the menu here at Public (for whom I voted) so I could later dish about the food, but I didn't...I apologize!  And it happened to be the favorite tasting plate of 4 of 5 people in our group.  You idiot, Maya!

The master, above, hard at work.  Along with help from his team.

What I found to be a little disturbing was a pig that was on display on the altar, behind the butchering competition.  Yeah, I get that we're sacrificing pigs for the event, but was that really necessary?

These butchers, staged with the altar behind them, were given 40 minutes to cut up half of a pig, and another 20 minutes to freestyle the head (of the pig).  They were then judged on their cuts.

Brady Lowe (in black), who started Cochon 555 in 2008, in front of the swine shrine, kicking off the butchering competition.

This young lad, Tim Havidic, from Lindy + Grundy, can't be older than 21.  He actually helped me 3 weeks ago when I bought some lamb at their new store that's awesome and then some.  Go Tim!

As the butchers were doing their thing, we wandered to the next station, where Chef Octavio Becerra of Palate Food + Wine was dishing up his creations.

Clockwise from top: Bahn Mi - crispy shoulder, spicy head, kumquat-lardon-pistachio relish, Offal Soup Dumpling with quail egg, ginger, pickled brussel sprouts,  Belly with Bossam Kimchi, Kushi oyster, krill sauce, Petite Hot Dog on a Stick with sauerkraut, purple mustard.

A closer look because it's so fun to look at!

Then over at Mozza, Chef Chad Colby did an impressive Porchetta, along with shank and trotter stewed gigante beans, 10 hour roasted shoulder with cracklings,  mortadella dogs and a simple salad.  Great, but I don't think he should've won the competition.  Oh, yeah, Chad Colby is going to Aspen in June.  We all thought (well, our group anyway) Tim Goodell of Public Kitchen + Bar should've won...

Our last stop was at Ford's Filling Station headed by Chef Ben Ford.  I was stuffed and didn't think I could eat anymore, so I was kind of glad Ben was starting to run out of food. But we did manage to  eat a few dishes here...

Chef Ben Ford is at the end of the table with the goatee.

Scrapple with Broken Yolk and Candied Bacon

Holy pork balls was the scrapple delicious.

At the end of the tasting competition, as if we weren't all gluttonous enough, Chef Neal Fraser, who will open his Grace restaurant at St. Vibiana's later this year, treated everyone with a whole pig roast. I asked him exactly how he roasted these pigs in case I wanted to do it myself (my boyfriend just bought a smoker, yay!) and he told me he'd smoked these pigs at 240 degrees fahrenheit for 7.5 hours using Oak wood.  Good to know.

Chef Neal Fraser on the very left

 I can't believe people were still hungry and in line for more!  Ok, I tasted a small portion because how could I not?  It was deliciously tender and moist, but I could hardly taste the smokey flavor.  I'm not complaining, just taking note that maybe Oak isn't the wood for me.  Maybe I'll get my boyfriend to try Apple wood.  Mmm.

Thank you, Brady Lowe, for creating this pork phenomenon.  I will definitely go again next year, with my foodie friends in tow, but maybe you could lower the price of tickets.  Chef Chad Colby, we wish you all the best at the Grand Cochon competition in June!  And Tim Goodell, I've never been to your restaurant, Public Kitchen + Bar, so expect me in about a week, which will be how long it'll take to work up an appetite after yesterday's pig out.