Thursday, August 17, 2017

Camping and cooking: Yosemite National Park

I moved to the west coast to be closer to the mountains, the national parks, the hikes, and the adventures. Lucky for me, all my transcontinental aspirations are becoming realized thanks to good friends. This past weekend, we road tripped to Yosemite. It is as beautiful and as scenic as all the wallpapers and postcards boast it to be. The pines, the waterfalls, the granite formations were all breathtaking. Even more awe inspiring was the meteor shower. I saw 9 shooting stars and wisps of the milky way! I love falling asleep under the brightness of the moon and waking up surrounded by trees. But it also helps when your tummy is well fed and warm. My buddy Winston has all the gear for all the outdoor activities. For camping, he has a huge cooler, a portable double burner, and a shiny black skillet which all come in real handy for searing pork belly, whipping up fried rice, frying omelets, or toasting up corn bread. And obviously I did not forget to pack plenty of fruits and vegetables (and homemade fig jam). :)

For weekend trips, I definitely recommend putting the time in to prep your foods/meals before arriving at the camp site. Living in Ktown, it's easy for me to grab marinated meats for the crowd. It's delicious, tasty, and all you have to do is sear it over high heat. I also try to pack veggies that don't require much preparation (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), and if they do require some peeling and chopping (onions, garlic, peppers, etc.), I do it all at home and pack them with me in containers ready to go in the skillet. Same with fruits! Even if it's an apple, it's easier to share if it's already sliced up, so definitely recommend preparing a fruit salad for the trip. Happy camping! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

LA Farmers Markets feat. Peaches x3

As I have already expressed my love for peaches, I will now officially declare my love for farmers markets. This is no newfound passion, but relocating has made me appreciate learning about local seasonal produce. Moving to LA, one of the first things I did was try to find the nearest one to me. I've visited quite a few in central LA at this point, however I haven't decided on my favorite yet. What I can tell you is my favorite is having peaches for sale. Nothing compares to the peaches in the south, but farmers market peaches are just always the best. I'll be listing all the markets I've been to then 3 peach recipes to try after the jump: peaches & greens grilled cheese, peach topped acai bowl, and toasted coconut peach granola. 

Echo Park - great Friday late afternoon vibes with a lovely live band. Lots of food trucks and street food, wish I didn't eat in the neighborhood right before coming through. Very impressed with the vegetable farmers and the variety of free samples. 

Hollywood - this is the largest farmers market I've ever been to. I must've spent 30 minutes simply walking around to check out all that there is to offer. Too crowded, had to pay for parking, definitely not my favorite. 

Larchmont Village - quite crowded with families, but there's free public parking! 

Los Feliz - this is the opposite of Hollywood. I love the small town vibe. Great restaurants, boutiques in the area, too. Definitely recommend checking this one out for all the staples if you don't want to spend too much time shopping. 

Silverlake - nice variety of vendors,, convenient but bustling location. Not a bad way to start a Saturday. 

Peaches & greens grilled cheese
2 slices bread of choice (sourdough or rye are my favorites)
2 oz soft / semi soft cheese (I prefer anything spreadable but also a little stinky - I always go by my nose) 
1/2 peace, thinly sliced
1/2 cup arugula 
1/2 tbsp olive oil

1. Place olive oil on skillet and heat on medium
2. Spread cheese on bread and place in skillet open faced
3. Once cheese begins to melt, press down on sandwich with a spatula and allow to melt together and toast until both sides golden brown 

Peach topped acai bowl (for 2)
8 oz frozen acai 
1/2 cup frozen berries
2 Yakult 
1 tbsp chia seeds 
1 peach, sliced
1/4 cup fresh berries 
1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional: toast for 5 minutes at 350F) 

1. Blend together acai, frozen berries, Yakult and chia seeds
2. Pour into small bowls and top with peaches, fresh berries, and coconut flakes 

Toasted coconut peach granola
2 cups steel cut oats 
1 cup nuts (I prefer walnuts or pecans)
1 tbsp honey 
4 slices dried peach, diced 
1/3 cup coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven 325F.
2. Mix together oats, nuts, and honey on a baking sheet 
3. Bake for 25 minutes, mixing once every 7-10 minutes
4. Mix in coconut flakes and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown, mixing every 5 minutes
5. Remove from oven and fold in diced dried peaches 
6. Serve on top of yogurt or as muesli

And of course when I can, I get the kitties a treat of quail eggs!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

California dining along the Pacific Coast Highway at Malibu

When people visit me in LA, I like to bring them out for a day in Malibu. The scenic ocean drive along the Pacific Coast with some old school LA hiphop blasting on the radio melts away traffic and parking woes. Pulling into a public parking between a pair of Bentley's - classic convertible vs. SUV is almost humbling. But actually, I really just came here for the hike.

Malibu Farms is my favorite pre / post hike stop along Highway 1. It's also the perfect place to bring visitors to show off the sunny beach and Californian food. Think: kale, juices, avocado, grass fed, vegetarian friendly, organic, local. Not gonna like, I've been here three times already. Using fresh ingredients really does make such a difference. The crab cake bites were grossly overpriced for the three bites they offer, but at least it was 99% crab and absolutely delectable. I enjoyed the breaded mustard chicken sandwich (I'm a sucker for sandwiches, especially anything that resembles a fried chicken sandwich) and there was a hefty chunk of salmon on the kale salad. Love the assortment of fruit smoothies and vegetable juice assortments; must needed to keep hydrated. And though cauliflower pizza will never really be a thing, it was delicious (probably because of the melted cheese) nonetheless.

Another great place to stop along the Pacific Coast Highway is Malibu Seafood. They have the most amazing thick cut fried cod sticks that are making my mouth water as I type this up. Though most people go for the fried fish, they also have an actual seafood market. The line was so crazy long last time, I unfortunately didn't get to pick up some salmon tartar to go. Definitely will next time.

Nobu: I brought my mom after my first day at work. They fit us in at 3pm on a Monday. We were seated outside on the couches, overlooking the ocean. What a laid back lunch scene! We also got the perfect view of all the ladies dressed in way too tight dresses and way too high heels for a Monday afternoon. We started with the roasted shoshito peppers, my favorite and always a gamble for mild vs. burning spiciness. Other highlights included the lemon meyer albacore with truffle oil, crispy shallots and the classic spicy tuna on crispy rice. I also had king crab tempura for the first time in my life - worth it. I definitely appreciated the bold flavor combinations and modern California approach to Japanese cuisine. Everything here is so Entourage, like most bougie things I do in LA.

Malibu Farm Pier Cafe
23000 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA

Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe
25653 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA

22706 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sqirl, Los Angeles

There are quite a few highly coveted brunch spots in LA, and Sqirl is on top of that list. Is it the vegetarian friendliness? Its hipster Silver Lake location? Perhaps the hip young crowd lining out the door? Or the homey menu items and its elevated use of familiar ingredients? Whatever it is, it's also definitely the famed ricotta toast. 

That's right. This thick cut brioche toasted and smeared with ricotta and topped with homemade jam. It was a hefty portion, probably better shared. But it was so good I was totally content with that, my iced cappuccino, and my summer reading (is it really still spring?). I tried both the blackberry meyer lemon and strawberry rhubarb jam. They were both delectably fruity, so I would highly recommend both to my fellow jam lovers. 

Definitely plan on going back for brunch foods and brunch bowls. And will also get another slice of famed ricotta toast.   

Monday, May 29, 2017

Smorgasburg, Los Angeles

There is just an endless multitude of food choices in Los Angeles. Having Smorgasburg out here really showcases the culturally diverse palate of Angelenos. Coming from the south, it was pretty mindblowing to see the extent of Asian and Mexican fusion flavors and ingredients incorporated into essentially every vendor's menus. There were too many choices and too few of us to try it all, but I think we made a pretty hefty dent. 

Stalls I definitely want to try next time but just didn't have the stomach room this time: Lobsterdamus, Porchetta Republic, Mama Musubi, Paloma's Paletas, Amazebowls. 

Shrimp Daddy: What we came for. Hawai'ian garlic shrimp just sounds
so bomb to begin with that even waiting an hour made it all worth it.
Chinese Laundry: Sichuan spicy cold noodle and hong shao pork belly
tacos - you get me with pork belly or taco anything 
Hot Star Chicken: this spicy Taiwanese fried chicken cutlet
is the first thing I've ever eaten in a Singaporean food court.
So good that it was obviously the first thing I bit into at
Smorgasburg also.  
Popdup: Loved my orange thyme iced oolong tea

Churro Boss: It's great how whenever someone says "churros,"
you will start hearing it circulate and pop up in nearby conversations.
I could really use another basket of fresh fried churros. 
Wanderlust Creamery: A sunny day in LA is never complete without ice cream 

Monday, May 15, 2017

One day in San Diego, CA

When I started planning my 24 hours in San Diego, I only had one objective in mind: eat all the tacos. I drove off straight from a job interview and arrived just in time for happy hour. 

I started at Puesto by La Jolla. They serve fancy tacos and delicious margaritas. My favorite by far was the garlicky mushroom veg taco on a homemade purple tortilla. Amazing vegetarian tacos are hard to come by (sometimes it's just plain lettuce), so I always appreciate an extra yummy one. 

After much time admiring the leisurely life of seals, I went to go meet up with Evan for drinks at Bali Hai. It was the most upscale tiki bar that I have ever been to with sweeping views of the San Diego skyline. It was also the first time I had a mai tai, which they're infamous for. Real talk though, that drink must've been straight rum. 

We kind of failed on the dinner part. We took a little too long with the aperitif and by the time we got to Salvucci's, it was 8:45, and they close at 9pm. Apparently that's normal. We instead shared several appetizers at Stella Public House before heading to Half Door Brewing Co. and a walk through the Gaslamp District. 

The next morning I headed to Pacific Beach for breakfast at Kono's Cafe, a low key surf vibe breakfast joint with oceanfront seating. This was simply the best breakfast burrito I've ever had. The tortilla was soft and the eggs perfectly scrambled. Ample portions, perfect for a full day out. 

After enjoying the beach, Balboa Park, and the marina, it was time for the long drive back to LA. I went to the nearest Oscar's for a final meal, and man did it live up to the hype! Those shrimp tacos seem so simple, but I have never had more delicious ones. Succulent shrimp topped with avocado is just the best. 

Next time: Tacos El Gordo! 

Breakfast burrito at Kono's on Pacific Beach

Shrimp tacos at Oscar's is a must

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Case of the leftovers: breakfast hash

Happy Easter! As y'all know, I am the leftover queen (case 1, 2, 3). I hate to see good food go to waste, so in honor of Easter and resurrection, here's a recipe of a bunch of leftovers I had in my fridge brought back to life as this beautiful breakfast hash. 

Last weekend, my cousins brought me to eat at the Original Pantry Cafe in DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles). It's one of those very old school menu on the wall, pay at the door, cash only, 24 hr joints that's just a LA staple. Let me tell you how the thick cut buttered sourdough toast just blew my mind away. It was just inexplicably good. And yes, it was just simple thick cut buttered sourdough toast. That's it. Needless to say there are none of those leftover, but I couldn't finish my bacon and homefries because sourdough toast. 

A few evenings ago, my niece and I spent the afternoon exploring the Arts District and after what seemed like endless miles of meandering, we finally made it back to my place to whip up a quick dinner and some necessary fresh mango margaritas. I bought a rotisserie chicken, which I shredded the breast and tossed it with homemade pesto, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls. It was delicious, and we even made it in time to get taiyaki (fish shaped cake traditionally filled with red bean) soft serve sundaes. 

Which finally brings us to this hash. Part Pantry, part chicken salad, all delicious. As always, feel free to free style. 

... how do you all feel about my recent slew of no-recipe recipes? Just got to go with the flow always. 

Breakfast hash (serves 2)
1 cup cooked potatoes
1/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded
2 slices bacon, minced
1/4 cup mozzarella, sliced or shredded
2 sprigs green onion, diced 
2 eggs, beat 
1 tbsp olive oil

Optional: serve with Crystal hot sauce (my favorite) or balsamic vinegar 

1. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add bottom half (white portion) of green onion and bacon. Once sizzling and browning, add chicken and potatoes 
2. As everything in the pan becomes a nice golden brown color, turn the heat down to medium low and immerse the pan with egg
3. As the edges of the egg start to crisp, top with mozzarella. 
4. Dare to flip! 
5. Sprinkle with green onion tops and serve immediately over arugula

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Papaya lime fruit salad

Not going to lie, one of the main reasons I've been slacking on the blogging (in addition to picking my life up and moving across the country for a second time) is Mardi Gras. It's not just a day or a holiday; its a lifestyle. This time around, my krewe had it so together because we are all in our mid 20's and so good at adulting and because the Dinner Club Squad just knows how to throw down. Gone are the days of gas station fried chicken and biscuits (except Ash Wednesday because real life was just too real that day), and in are the impromptu daily brunches and crawfish boils. Just call us over and there will be strata, bacon, french toast, fruit salad, mimosas, rum fruit smoothies, and frozen Irish coffees in no time. 

So here's a recipe for a perfectly refreshing fruit salad that will take you no time to put together and can serve a crowd. As a dietitian, I always feel obligated to bring the fruit or salad just in case no one else does. As a human, everyone loves fresh fruit, so it's the perfect addition to any pot luck. Feel free to improvise! 

Papaya lime fruit salad (serves 6-8) 
1 large papaya, cut into chunks 
1 apple, diced
1 cup green grapes, halved 
1 lime, juiced 

1. Gently toss fruit together in a large bowl with lime juice
2. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve

Optional: pineapple, blueberries 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bowls in Los Angeles

We got so much catching up to do.

Acai bowl and veggie empanada at Ubatuba

I've been going through some life transitions in the past few months, mostly picking up my life in New Orleans and moving it to Los Angeles. Let me ask you, do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Though I can no longer get a shrimp po-boy, fried catfish, or cheesy grits whenever I want, there is quite an abundance of acai bowls, street tacos, and specialty desserts. It's not the belly filling soul warming comfort food that I got used to, but I can get used to this too.

My first pokebowl during my first week in Los Angeles from Sea Salt. Not
gonna lie, there's a bit of a learning curve for building the ultimate bowl!
Now I know to go for the grains + greens and of course ALL the toppings.

A gorgeous and delicious granola bowl at Republique. Highly recommend
brunch here. Everything from the mushroom toast to the shakshouka and
creamfilled doughtnut holes... I can't wait to come back.

Cava just came to Culver City, and it is my homie's favorite. It's a build your
own bowl Mediterranean style with so many veggie options! 

Accidentally stumbled upon my friend photographed in LA Downtowner, so
had to visit him at work for some Taiwanese street food. I will definitely be
back for Lao Tao's Rub a Belly braised pork belly bowl and oyster pancake.
Don't forget the limeade! 

And last but not least, the first thing I cooked in my new home! Of course
it's a shrimp fried rice bowl with garlic sauteed bok choy.