Thursday, August 26, 2010

i got shot down in southern california tasty things. Southern California is a really, really delicious place. So delicious that I will have to move there and spend years trying out all the stuff that didn't get checked off my to-eat list (although I don't see that happening...) So delicious that I would cry every time I thought about putting on jeans, which are the least accommodating clothing ever. Bring on the dresses. Let's eat some cake.

Last year, in the depths of homesickness for our college towns, us roomies would compare notes. Jena and I would extol the glories of CheeseboardNaan N Curry, and Fenton'sAubrey would regale us with tales of Extraordinary Desserts. Last week, Aubs and I unexpectedly found ourselves in San Diego (at the same time!) and I got my first taste.

Let me tell you, this fine establishment presents a compelling reason to live in San Diego. The beaches, perfect weather, and fish tacos...all good, but this place was BOMB. In the center middle you have tres leches cake...upper left hand is the tortamisu. Between the rose petals and edible gold leaf, I felt thoroughly spoiled and like I was dancing on cloud twenty-five (possibly the effects of way too much sugar).

We went on a food tour! Way, way fun. Here are macarons from The Little Next Door that we ate in the empty courtyard of its big sister restaurant, The Little Door.

Dulce de leche! New goal: learn how to make macarons, feet and all.

The last stop on our tour was at a Japanese place. This sushi is wrapped in soy paper?

It was just less than a year ago that I was raving about xiao long baos in Shanghai. When I found out that there was a Din Tai Fung branch in Arcadia...

Oh hi. Hello cute dumplings full of hot delish soup stuffed with delicate pork surrounded by a soft melty skin. There's a reason that you've inspired a cult following (me irrevocably included)!

(When I look at these photos, I magically forget how much I hate driving there!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

risotto with roasted vegetables

Hello friends of Stephers,
I am Cinr/Cinders/CC/Cindy/... I guess I go by anything.

In college, Steph and I shared an affinity for Italian, and in summer 2005 I had the great fortune of spending the summer in the most wonderful place, Florence, Italy.

As a poor college student living on loans and a part-time job, I had little money to go out to eat. To go to Italy and not have tons of money to spend on delicious food, this is a food crime. However, one food I did get plenty of, compliments of the hotel we were staying at, was risotto.

Before summer 2005, I had not the slightest idea what risotto was and the first time they served it I was in shock. Excuse me, this is Italy, shouldn't you be serving me pasta everyday? Rice? Has Italy recently been taken over by Asians because this just does not make sense to me.

Remember, I was young and ignorant at the time so don't judge me too harshly.

It has now been five years since that splendid summer of risotto and I haven't had much of it since then. As I was flipping through my cookbooks deciding on what to contribute to this blog, I saw page after page of risotto recipes and nostalgia took over.

The recipe used comes from a Perfect Italian cookbook by Parragon Publishing
Serves 4
5 cups simmering chicken stock - I substituted for 4 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of water
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter - we only used 2 tbsp
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 3/8 cups (10 oz.) risotto rice
8 oz of roasted vegetables - we went with red and green bell peppers and added a little bit of garlic
3/4 cup (3 oz.) grated Parmesan cheese - after going to the TJ's to buy this ingredient this morning I forgot to use it *sigh*
salt and pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs - basil from my new kitchen plant

Start off by heating the stock/broth in a pot. Once it has boiled, bring it down and continue to have it simmer. You'll be adding this gradually to the risotto in a bit.

Heat the oil and 2 tbsp. butter in a "deep pan" over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the onions. Once the onions have acquired a nice golden color (if they are brown, you cooked them for too long), reduce the heat and add the rice. Mix to coat the rice in oil and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes, or until the grains are translucent.

At this point you will gradually add the stock/broth you have had simmering on the stove top. I used a ladle to add while my wonderful friend and neighbor, Melly, stirred the rice. This is a long process (15-17 minutes) of adding the stock and then stirring, and as the broth is absorbed by the rice you add more. I recommend having a friend there share in the experience because it will help the time pass faster, but make sure you are paying attention not to overcook the rice or to drown it in broth.

We didn't use all the broth, so don't feel like you have too. There was 1/3-1/2 cup left over when we finished. Once you have finished adding the broth, add the vegetables.

Make sure there is still some broth left because after you add the vegetables you'll cook it for another 5 minutes. We cooked it for 6 minutes, just waiting for the broth to absorb enough to make the risotto creamy and not drowning.

At this point you can add 1 tbsp. butter, mix well, and then sprinkle in the Parmesan until it melts. We didn't partake in this final step mostly because I forgot, tehehe, but despite that the risotto turned out delicious.

Looks good AND tastes good.

Well, it's been nice visiting, I hope we do this again sometime.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the world is my lobster roll

Now do not skewer me, please, because I know that there are some ardent sandwich lovers out there. But this darling (and by darling I mean enormous) lobster roll from Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay was named one of the best 5 sandwiches in America (what?!) by the Today Show. Last weekend's visit to HMB necessitated a trip to Sam's. Sure, I doubt the Today Show's food authority status with the rest of you, but lists of exemplary foods are always kind of compelling to me.

Here is what sold it for me: the (giant) lobster pieces are tossed in butter, not mayo (which is standard for lobster rolls). Also, the freshly baked bun is made of that bad-for-you soft white bread, also extremely buttery. Yes and yes! (Note: I love butter!) Okay, do you see how much stinkin lobster meat they tried to cram into that bun? The chips and coleslaw are pretty superfluous. Come to meeee, lobster roll...well, looks like my one reason for going to Maine has been checked off by California (I know; best state ever!)

So...I know I've been a little quiet lately, and I hate it as much as you do, but to make up for it: guest bloggers  next week!! (Plural intended. Two posts in a week? This blog might explode from overuse!) Hi Cindy and Eunice! We're so excited to hear from you!