Thursday, November 22, 2012

Candied Yams with Pecans

It's been a while since I've last posted! It's been busy - we've moved from LA to the OC, and we're expecting a baby boy in February!!! We have much to be thankful for.  :)

This year, we went over to my cousin Debbie's home for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for my family is a bicultural feast.  My parents started a tradition of Peking Turkey = eating our turkey in a wrap with scallions/ cucumber / sweet bean paste as if it were peking duck (see photo below). We also like to mix in classic American favorites - stuffing, mashed potatoes, pies. This year, my contribution to dinner was a sweet potato / yam dish.  Although I've been cooking for more than half my life, I had never made this dish before! I browsed many recipes before choosing this one (thanks to my friend Connie for sharing!). It was a hit for Thanksgiving - give it a try for your next holiday dinner!

Candied Yams with Pecans (can do an alternate marshmallow topping)
*Note, I made slight modification -decreasing the butter and sugar just a tad as noted below
Serves 10-12

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 8 medium), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes  '
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 cup water
Pecan Topping:
  • 2 cups pecan halves 
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper 
  • Pinch ground cumin
1. FOR THE SWEET POTATOES: Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of the center of the potatoes with very little resistance), 45 to 60 minutes.

2. When the sweet potatoes are tender, remove the lid and bring the sauce to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced to a glaze, 7 to 10 minutes.

3. FOR THE TOPPING: Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the topping together in a medium bowl; set aside.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pour the potato mixture into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish (or a shallow casserole dish of similar size). Spread the topping over the potatoes. Bake until the pecans are toasted and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Follow the recipe for Candied Sweet Potato Casserole, substituting 4 cups mini marshmallows for the pecan topping. Bake until the marshmallows are crisp and golden, about 5 minutes.

Peking Turkey :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Drink: Green Smoothie - Grapes, Pineapple, Banana and Spinach!

Last month, after months of pining for the Vitamix Blender (I had seen it in action at a few of my friends' homes and was thoroughly impressed) - J and I broke down and purchased one from Costco.  60 smoothies later (we have at least a smoothie a day) - we're still as thrilled with it as we were on day one. I haven't tried to make the hot soup or hummus yet - but have gotten pretty good at making tropical and berry smoothies. Today, I decided to incorporate some veggies into our daily smoothie. I found this great recipe online and wanted to share!

Ingredients (makes 2 tall glass servings)
  • 1 cup (160 g) green grapes
  • 1/2 cup (78 g) pineapple chunks (I used frozen)
  • 2 cups (60 g) fresh baby spinach, packed  (I used the prewashed spinach in a bag) 
  • 1/2 ripe banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) ice cubes
Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Use tamper if necessary but I did not find I needed it. I used the "Smoothie" preset on the latest Costco Vitamix version. However, if you do not have this option, you can select Variable 1, turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High. Blend for 1 minute or until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cook: Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

Last weekend, we went to the Brentwood farmers market for the first time! We usually visit the Santa Monica market, but our friends highly recommended this one so we decided to give it try.

It must be tomato season, since heirloom tomatoes were going for $2.50 a pound (normally you can find them in CA grocery stores for $4.99). There was one stand selling cherry tomatoes - 3 pints for $5! I picked out the super sweet orange variety, a small yellow(squash shaped) variety, and some juicy looking red ones.  Then I had to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes!  I found this recipe for roasted cherry tomato pasta, and followed it with a few modifications. It was a big hit and was super delicious and easy to make!

Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes Recipe, Serves 4

  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half*  (I used the 3 pints minus a few bruised tomatoes = prob closer to 5 cups, and only cut the larger sized red ones in half. The orange and yellow ones were small, so I left them as is) 
  • 12 garlic cloves, cut in half (I did use this quantity and it was perfect!)   
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 lb pasta (I used bowtie)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used a little less)
  • 1/2 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
  1. In a  bowl toss sliced tomatoes, sliced garlic, oil, basil, salt, hot pepper flakes and ground pepper.
  2. Place in a 9 X 13 metal cake pan or baking sheet pan with edges,  and roast at 400°F for approximately 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are shriveled and the garlic tender.
  3. Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water while tomatoes and garlic are cooking.
  4. Drain and return pasta to pot.
  5. Add garlic tomato mixture and parsley, tossing to coat.
  6. Serve with sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  7. If you don't have any fresh Parmesan try other sharp hard cheeses such as Romano or Asiago.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cook: Watermelon Feta Mint and Heirloom tomato salad

I love Watermelon year round, but there is something so refreshing about Watermelon in the summertime.  Over the summer, I noticed a few watermelon based salads on a few menus and thought that it seemed to be an interesting idea. Last weekend, stocked with a perfectly ripe watermelon and some heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market- I decided to attempt the salad myself.  We served it with some brioche, grilled sausage, grilled corn, arugula salad and some apps (see bottom photo). It made for a wonderful summer meal!  I loosely based the salad off this recipe that I found online, but adjusted the tomato/ watermelon ratio to my liking, and added slightly less red onion.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used mostly mint, and a few basil leaves)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 heirloom tomatoes (medium size), cut in chunks (mine were approx 1 in cubes)
2 cups (I used a little less than half a mini seedlesswatermelon) cubed
a few thin slices of red onion (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (more or less to your liking)

Directions: Whisk together the olive oil, herbs, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl. Add tomato, watermelon, onion (if desired) and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese, toss gently.  I recommend making this salad just before serving - it tastes best fresh!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cook: LA Burger by Bobby Flay

Summertime is a great time for refreshing salads, watermelon, and of course - burgers.  The other day, J and I were looking for a solid simple recipe to try and came across Bobby Flay's recipe for the LA burger. It was a hit - even more delicious than it looks!

  • 80 percent lean ground beef chuck (1 lb serves four)
  • Cheese - you pick - monterey jack or cheddar (we used cheddar)
  • 2 hass avocado (we picked them up from the farmer's market) 
  • 1/2 diced small onion
  • 1 minced jalapeno
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • greens - watercress (I think we used arugula)
  • tomato slices
  1. Bobby's Perfect Patty -  Shape 6 ounces of 80 percent lean ground beef chuck into a uniform patty, no more than 3/4 inch thick (don't overwork the meat). Make a depression in the center with your thumb so the burger won't bulge; the indent will rise as the patty cooks. Preheat a grill or cast-iron grill pan to high. Brush the burger with canola oiland season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown and slightly charred, turning once (7 minutes for medium-rare). Avoid pressing with a spatula! Add cheese for the last minute of cooking.
  2. Avocado Relish - Avocado is one of Bobby's favorite ingredients. He mixes 2 chopped Hass avocados with 1/2 diced small onion, 1 mincedjalapeno, the juice of 1 lime, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, andsalt and pepper.
  3. Garnish: According to the recipe, "L.A. doesn't do iceberg lettuce, so Bobby tops off the burger with Watercress instead. (we used arugula)".  Add slice of tomato
As seen: served with pan roasted shishito peppers, heirloom tomato salad, and watermelon for dessert. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cook: Mushroom tarts

Just the other day, I found this hand-written recipe for delightful mushroom tarts that my mother in law shared with me a while ago. I had to share the recipe with my deliciousLA readers! I hope you enjoy them as much as our families do! Warning - these mushroom tarts really rich and addictive.  :)

  • 1/2 lb butter
  • 1/2 lb cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cook: Scarpetta Inspired Tomato and Basil Pasta

This is one of J's recipe and it is AWESOME. This is seriously one of the most delicious pasta recipes that I've eaten.  The original can be found at Scarpetta Restaurant in Beverly Hills, but J's version is pretty close.  J derived his recipe from this Serious Eats post, and this Grubstreet post.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Eat LA: Comme Ca Burger Night

Since my last post featured the burger at Plan Check, I felt I should also share my impressions of the Comme Ca Burger for comparison. For my prior review about the Father's Office burger, click here.

Tuesday night is Burger Night at Comme Ca and the menu of high end, fancy burgers, includes: 
  • Comme Ca Burger - $18
  • Swiss Melt Burger - $18 - Angus beef, gruyere cheese, mushrooms, butter lettuce, crispy onion rings, french fries and garlic aioli
  • Black and Blue Burger - $18 - Angus beef, bleu cheese, red onion, bacon, french fries and garlic aioli
  • Lamb Merguez Burger - $16 - Lamb Sausage, roasted peppers and caramelized onions, arugula on ciabatta bun, french fries, harissa aioli
  • Breakfast Burger - $14 - house made pork sausage, egg sunny side up, white gravy, on an English muffin, lyonnaise potato
  • CCVB (Comme Ca Veggie Burger) - $14 - cashew and pine nuts, garbanzo bean, ajuwan-tomato jam on tofu bun, baby kale and spinach salad.

On this particular evening, our party ordered three burgers - the Comme Ca Burger (which my friend Steph is taking a photo of above), Swiss Melt burger and the Breakfast Burger (pictured below).  I ordered the breakfast burger and while it was good, everything about it just seemed a bit too dense and heavy to me. If I could recreate it, I would pair the sausage with a fluffier bun.  I had a bite of J's swiss melt burger which was pretty good, but I still favor Father's office or Plan Check. 
What is your favorite Burger in LA?

Comme Ca
French Brasserie by Chef David Myers
8479 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA. 90069
(323) 782-1104

Monday, May 14, 2012

Must Eat: Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, Los Angeles

There's quite a bit of debate in LA regarding who has the "best burger".  J and I are fans of the famous father's office burger. We also enjoy the burger at Rustic Canyon and the options at Comme Ca.   However, recently, we came across a new favorite - the "Chefs Favorite Burger" -  at the hip new spot for "Modern American Comfort Food" on Sawtelle Blvd -  Plan Check.  
The "Chef's Favorite Burger" consists of "akaushi red wagyu beef, cheese two ways, bacon two ways, ketchup leather, sunny fried egg and hot sauce."- $12.  It is not for the faint of heart - as you can see from the photo above, this is quite a decadent burger.  If the above combinations do catch your fancy, they also offer the Plan Check Burger, and the Blueprint Burger.  The menu has a number of tasty snacks and apps, sides/salads and dishes to choose from. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bake: DIY Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcakes

A year ago, my friend Shannon requested that I bake red velvet cake for dessert for her birthday. I  received a lot of rave reviews about that recipe. This year, Shannon requested red velvet for her birthday again.  I figured I'd mix things up a bit and try this recipe. It is a totally different approach to red velvet cake. This recipe contains significantly more cocoa and rather than vinegar for the twang, buttermilk.  Shannon liked it just as much. I'm on the fence. J prefers the one from last year. If you make these let me know, what do you think?
Recipe credit goes to Carrot Top Mom! I love her tip about using a ziplop bag with corner tip cut off as a piping bag for the frosting! It worked like a charm. The only modification I made was to reduce the red food coloring to just 2/3 of a bottle.  For the recipe, please visit:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Must Eat: Blockheads Snow Cream, Los Angeles, CA

This is probably the most exciting dessert I've eaten in the past year! The first time I tried Blockhead Shaved Ice, I literally became giddy with excitement. It is THAT good. Blockheads Shavery came up with an interesting twist on Hawaiian shave ice by adding ice cream. The resulting "snow cream" is a light, yet rich, icy treat!  I think it's absolutely brilliant.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Must Eat: Thai Vegan, Santa Monica, CA

Tofu Satay
J and I enjoy Thai food, but have been having some trouble finding really good Thai on the Westside.  After reading rave reviews on yelp, we decided to give Thai Vegan a try.  It is a mom and pop little shop inside the Thai Teak store across from Urth Caffe. The atmosphere is unique and quite cozy - probably best to do take out, or go as a small group.  

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cook: Al Forno's Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses, Tomato, Cream, and Corn

Al Forno's in Providence, RI is one of my favorite all-time restaurants, in the world!  In fact, their baked pasta and grilled pizza may very well be amongst my top 10 favorite foods ever!!!   I always enjoyed the opportunity to dine at Al Forno when I lived in Providence. However, since moving to LA, I haven't had a chance to make it back to RI.  Fortunately, Johanne Killeen and George Germon published a cookbook "On top of Spaghetti" that allows me to recreate the delicious baked pasta whenever I have the craving! The following recipe is a definite hit - it has received compliments with everyone who I've shared it with.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Must Eat: Sushistop

The other night, J and I went to watch the documentary - Jiro Dreams of Sushi at the Nuart Theater in Westwood. It was a beautiful film (both in cinematography and in regards to the story) and we highly recommend it!
When the movie was over, quite predictably, we were craving sushi.  Lucky for us, the theater was only a few blocks away from Sawtelle Blvd, also known as "Little Osaka."  Although we were inspired by the 30,000 Yen ($362) per person meal depicted in the film, that is a little over out budget. So we settled for the $2.75 per roll sushi at Sushistop.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bake: Irish Cream Mocha Dream Cake

 When I was in college, I was known amongst all my friends for my baked goods. One year, they encouraged me to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off!  That is when I came up with the the recipe for my Irish Cream Mocha Dream Cake. Although I never heard back after I submitted my entry, I've been told this cake is a winner. In honor of St. Patrick's day, I'm sharing the recipe with all my blog readers!

Start off by purchasing your favorite chocolate cake mix and a container of vanilla frosting.  Prepare the cake mix according to directions, but instead of water, add brewed coffee - this is what will create a mocha tasting mix.  Bake in two round cake pans.  In the meantime, prepare the Irish Cream frosting by putting the frosting in a bowl and mixing in Baileys Irish Cream to taste (you don't want it to be too watery so be mindful of the proportions!).  When cake is cool, assemble cake by placing one layer then frosting, then the top layer. Enjoy!

Bake: Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Happy St Patrick's Day! Today I'm sharing this recipe that always gets rave reviews!  Not only is it super delicious, it is extremely easy to make! It is great served with butter and jam for breakfast.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Must Eat: Tar and Roses, Santa Monica, CA

A few weeks ago, decided to take a break from cooking and explore a new restaurant in our neighborhood. We heard that this fantastic new restaurant by Chef Andrew Kirshner - Tar & Roses - had recently opened and were excited to check it out.  We didn't have reservations, but it was still early, so we took a seat at a bar and enjoyed our tapas style meal!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Must Eat: Father's Office, Santa Monica, CA

This was one of the first places we ate at when we visited LA in May 2010 to search for an apartment in Santa Monica.  Now we are lucky that it is just a few blocks from home!  Father's office is a cozy bar on Montana with many beers on tap, a hipster vibe, and a yummy bar menu.  People rave that they make one of the best burgers in LA - It's one of mine for sure!
The Juicy Burger loaded with deliciousness.   However note - "No substitutions, Modifications, Alterations or Deletions" allowed!
 Shoestring Fries served with Aioli! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cook: Shrimp with Chili, Parsley, Ginger and Garlic onToast by Jamie Oliver

J surprised me one night with this delicious and creative dinner.  The shrimp was bursting with flavor! 

Shrimp with Toast (serves 4) Recipe by Jamie Oliver.

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2-3 fresh red chilies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 16 large whole raw strip, tails left on
  • 1-2 lemons, to taste
  • 1 good handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 long slices of ciabatta bread toasted
  1. Into a large, hot, frying pan, put around 4 tablespoons of olive oil,  ginger, garlic, chili and shrimp. fry for about 3 minutes, then turn the heat down and squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Add the parsley and a a couple "glugs" of olive oil. 
  2. Toss over and remove from the heat. You should have a nice juicy sauce, add lemon and salt /pepper to taste.
  3. Serve shrimp and sauce over the ciabatta and have a few more slices of bread on the side to mop up the juices!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Must Eat: Bru's Wiffle- A Waffle Joint, Santa Monica, CA

There is something so comforting about Fried Chicken and Waffles.  We've heard the hype about Roscoe's, and have been craving it for a while.  But we just couldn't quite muster up the motivation to venture east of the 405 for brunch this morning. 

Lucky for us - Bru's Wiffle is only a few blocks from home.  J and I both ordered fried chicken and waffles - I got the Festive Chicken which came with a Mango Salsa, and J got the original with a mix of sauces on the side (Gravy, Louisiana Hot Sauce and Ranch).  We both got our waffles with a piece of white meat and dark meat. The chicken was boneless, perfectly moist and juicy, and crispy on the outside. The portions were hearty and satisfying.

If you're looking for fried chicken and waffles on the West Side, we highly recommend this spot!

Bru's Wiffle
2408 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Must Eat: Mama Lu's Dumpling House, Monterey Park, CA

In the spirit of Chinese New Year (it's the year of the dragon!), this week I'm sharing a delicious Chinese food spot in LA! Living on the West Side, we don't make it all the way over to Monterey Park very often. But when we do, it is always worth the drive! You just can't find Chinese food like this on the West side unfortunately. Unless my parents are visiting. Sigh.
After hosting 23 people for Christmas this year, we decided to take a break from cooking and went out for a Chinese feast the day after.  This is what we ate and enjoyed ...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cook: French Meat Pie

Since the last couple of posts were recipes for salads, I thought I'd post something meaty!  Both J and I enjoy meat pie,  but hadn't had it since we moved to LA.  I'm sure we could find it somewhere, but we decided to try making it ourselves. It was easy enough (weeknight dinner easy!), and very delicious.  We modified this recipe slightly by adding a few sliced jalapenos.  We served it with sauteed green beans and a side of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cook: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

This is a gorgeous and hearty salad, perfect for fall or winter.  I made this salad for our new years eve dinner last night, and it was a big hit! I have many fantastic recipes to share in 2012, so be sure to keep checking back on the blog!

This salad recipe another gem by Ina Garten.  The only modification I made was a little less oil in the dressing. Here is the recipe I used which is doubled to serve 8-10 (party size)  To make it for 4, you can follow the original recipe here (but reduce the oil in the dressing by half).