I am so not in the mood to cook tonight. Ever since we landed our wedding venue, all I want to do is comb the internet for wedding ideas. No need to be worried, I am not gonna be a bridezilla… but this is just now starting to get fun for me. Now that the hard part is over, the designer in me can go nuts. So its gonna be take out tonight and a whole lot of web surfin’.
It is kind of a bummer that neither Mike or I live in San Francisco anymore. One of my absolute favorite places on earth, Flora Grubb Gardens, is there and it would be a dream if they could do the arrangements for our wedding. Too complicated, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t take inspiration from their beautiful creations! I don’t think that many people know that Mike and I both lived in S.F. at the same time, had mutual acquaintances, but did not meet until we both lived in L.A. Weird, eh? This world gets smaller and smaller every day!
The cool thing is that the spot we found doesn’t need much done to it because it is already so intrinsically beautiful. All we really need to do is enhance its beauty and add a bit of us to it. We are really interested in bringing the midwest to our west coast friends and the west coast to our families and midwest friends. I just can’t wait for the two worlds to come together. It is gonna be such an amazing mix of people!!! By the way, anyone know a good steel guitarist???
No cooking for me tonight as me and some work peeps checked out this Korean B.B.Q. joint called Palsaik Samgyeopsal. Get this… it’s all pork belly!!! Holy crap it was so good. Believe it or not, while we view pork belly and bacon as something that is not so good for us, their theory is that it has a ton of health benefits like magically clears the skin, protects the liver, detoxifies the lungs, even cleanses the system of cholesterol according to Jonathan Gold. So all of you health nuts out there, I say eat up!
The food was amazing… we especially loved the bean sauce and the sesame oil and salt dipping sauce. The pork belly is marinated in 8 different potions and then grilled Korean B.B.Q. style until crispy and delicious. They do most everything for you, so it is less intimidating than other places. My favorites were the miso and the curry. You then wrap the pork belly in lettuce and top with the bean sauce, raw garlic, and other yummy traditional Korean fixin’s.
The other really cool thing about this place was the modern decor. There were drawers in every table with silverware, bottle openers, chop sticks, and napkins. The seats were actually metal trash cans with padded tops so you can store your things in without them getting all smoky and stinky, which i think is genius. Def not your run of the mill K-town B.B.Q. joint. One other wonderful thing to mention is that we fed four people with beer for under $70, and the way we drink, that seems virtually unheard of!
I highly recommend this joint for a food adventure. The staff was so awesome and they brought us out a slab of bacon from their secret menu:) I can’t wait to go back! 863 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
Do you ever buy a nice baguette or loaf of fancy bread and only eat a smidge of it? It is never great the next day and I always feel so guilty when I throw it away or don’t have the energy to make croutons or crostini out of it. This recipe is a good use of day old bread and you can make this fancier if you use Italian, Focaccia, Olive, or Cheese breads. Here I used rosemary and olive bread. To make this, you can really use whatever you have on hand or whatever bread, veggie, meat, or cheese combos you like. This is super easy to make for brunch or you can even make this for dinner as a main course. I have made these in advance the night before and popped it in the oven right before company was to arrive the next morning. Here is what you need:
Ham and Veggie Strata:
- 8 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk or half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 cups bread cubes (1 inch)
- 1 cup cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- handful fresh basil, chopped
- bit of fresh rosemary, chopped
Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Stir in the bread until evenly moistened. Let the mixture sit and soak while you get the other ingredients prepared.
Once chopped and prepped, stir in the ham, Gruyere cheese, tomatoes, onions, and herbs.
Butter a 9-by-12-inch baking dish and pour in the strata mixture. Sprinkle the extra cheese on top.Bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let cool slightly, sprinkle with some fresh herbs. Serve with a simple salad.
We had a late brunch with one of Mike’s old high school pals, so we weren’t in the mood to do a big Sunday dinner tonight. We are inundated with various peppers from the garden, so thought we would try and use them. This recipe was inspired by something my Dad makes as well as something our friend Vonnie made for us while we were visiting New Mexico. My fingers are still burning from making these, so a little advice is to wear some gloves and not to touch your eyeballs or face after if you don’t. Man, we be growing some HOT peppers!!! Next time I’m totes going to add some roasted corn to the mixture for a touch of sweet. With the sausage and cheese, they are a bit salty for my taste, but Mike seemed to really enjoy them. Here is what you need:
Garden Pepper Poppers:
- a slew of various peppers (I like the cherry peppers the best, but you can use whatever you have on hand. We also used jalapeno, pasilla, banana, etc.)
- 1 Lb. sweet and spicy sausage
- 2 blocks of low fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 4-5 chopped scallions
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- ground black pepper
Brown the sausage in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Wash the peppers, slice in half, and remove the seeds and ribs. I personally liked how the cherry peppers tasted better and you can also just take the tops off, core, and stuff. They are cleaner and make a better presentation. Can’t wait till the rest pop up so I can try this again! Once seeded and ribs are removed, give them another quick rinse and lay out on paper towels to dry.In a bowl, combine the drained browned sausage, 2 bricks of softened cream cheese, basil, scallions, red pepper, (roasted corn if you prefer), parmesan, and freshly ground black pepper.Mix together well and then start stuffing the peppers. This can be messy and they will more than likely bubble over while cooking, so try not to overstuff them. Mix bread crumbs with a bit of parmesan cheese and some pepper. Top stuffed peppers with this mixture. It makes a nice crunchy top and also soaks up some of the oils from the cheese. Heat up the grill to medium heat and line with foil. Also, preheat your broiler to high. Pour yourself a glass of wine and grill peppers for around 15 minutes. They should soften, cheese will start to melt, and bottom will begin to char. Cook until they appear to be 75% cooked through. When almost done, slide peppers on foil from grill onto a large rectangular cookie sheet . Place under the broiler for around 4-5 minutes until the top gets a lovely brown crust. Let cool for around 5 minutes before eating as the ooey gooey cheese can be very hot. These are the perfect appetizer for a B.B.Q. Looks like we need to have one soon. Deee-lish!
It is sweltering hot this weekend. We actually are using our air conditioner which is something we never do! It is also peach season, we have been buying so many of them, and Mike has been a real peach lately:) We had a couple that were about to go off, so I made Mike a tasty treat.
Peaches ‘n Cream Pops:
Makes around 4 pops.
- 2 large ripened peaches
- 1 cup milk or half and half
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 Tbsp. vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp.honey
- pinch of fresh nutmeg
Chop peaches and put into a blender or smoothie maker. Add half and half, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, honey, and nutmeg. Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
Freeze for at least 8 hours. When they are done freezing and ready to eat, it is helpful to run the mold under warm water for a bit. Enjoy!
Risotto for breakfast? Hells yeah!!! Mike had the idea to make our leftover risotto from last night into pancakes. He just made a cold risotto patty, dropped it into a frying pan full of olive oil, and cooked until both sides were golden brown. They were a bit tricky to keep together. We layered the pancakes over a plate of herb salad dressed with lemon juice and topped with a fried egg. Holy crap! It was so delicious.
After a long week at work and stressing about a wedding venue, I was really looking forward to something rich and comforting for dinner tonight as well as a date with my soon to be hubby. My old Aussie roomie, Brenda, taught me how to make this while we were in college and I have been making it ever since while swapping out and experimenting with different flavor combos. She and I used to use sun dried tomatoes. I know, I know, sun dried tomatoes are so 90s, but damn, I love them in risotto! This recipe is always one of my “go-to’s” as it is easy to always have these basic ingredients in your pantry or you can use vegetables like sweet peas that you may have in your freezer. I think people are always intimidated by making risotto for some reason, but I promise, its like the easiest thing ever. Here is what you need:
Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Risotto:
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 whole Large Yellow Onion, Diced
- 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 cups Arborio Rice, Uncooked
- 2 Whole Roasted Red Peppers (or you can use around 8 sun dried tomatoes if you want the flavor more intense)
- 1 cup Dry White Wine (I use a Sauvignon Blanc)
- 4-6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- Salt As Needed
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 cup Parmesan, Freshly Grated
- 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- Fresh Basil, Chiffonade
Heat broth (I use low sodium) in a saucepan. Set aside.
Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.Add dry rice. Stir to coat and cook for 3 minutes, stirring gently.
Pour in wine. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed and the wine has cooked off.
Then begin adding broth, one cup at a time, stirring gently while the rice absorbs the liquid each time. Repeat this until the rice is done—it usually takes between 4 and 6 cups of broth. The rice should have a slight bite to it, but not be crunchy at all.Add roasted red peppers and basil. Remove from heat, then stir in Parmesan and heavy cream. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Serve as a main dish with a salad, or as a side dish. Because it is so rich, a salad with a vinaigrette is perfect to cut it. Its so yummy and even better the next day.
Not only did my work week end on a high note, we found the coolest wedding spot ever!!! Stress free start to the weekend and a full tummy:) Mike certainly enjoyed coming home to this! He totes cleaned his plate.
One of my B.F.F.s Jamie, and a lovely dude named Brian make up the amazing design duo, Iacoli & McAllister. These two are making some shit happen. They first got recognition from their cutey cupcake pedestals that they make from found powder coated candlestick holders and are now getting a ton of recognition for furniture, lighting, home accessories, and jewelry!!! I want this amazing cake pedestal for our wedding cake! I can’t decide if I like the wooden one or the black one better! http://iacolimcallister.com/ check them out. aren’t they so talented???