Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bread Pudding with Smoked Figs

About two months ago I entered a food photography contest and won, which was exciting in and of itself, BUT what I was most excited about was the prize. A $250 gift certificate to Nordicware. YAY! Of course I got a multitude of bundt and cake pans, (even a pumpkin loaf one shaped like a pumpkin patch!), but one of the greatest kitchen accessories I ended up getting was their stovetop smoker. The first thing I tried smoking with it were the figs I used in this recipe. Jeremy wasn't a huge fan of the smoky and sweet combination, I think his exact words were  "it's good, but it will take some getting used to".

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ramen with Poached Quail Eggs

Yesterday me and Jeremy went over to Koreatown to hunt down some octopus. Back home my Theio Soulis always has some on hand, and I've brought some down here before when I've gone home to visit, but I've never tried to find any around here in LA. After some thorough google-searching, I found that the Koreatown Galleria had some in their marketplace downstairs. So we hopped in the car and drove over. The market itself was pretty amazing, they had a huge number of fruits, vegetables, meat products, and various ingredients that I had never seen before. At the seafood counter they also had octopus prepackaged by the leg, which was GREAT. While I was staring at the wide array of seafood items, Jeremy was wandering around the store looking at all the other fun stuff. One of the things he found, which he brought over to me immediately because of my fondness for delicate/unique ingredients, was a box of 20 quail eggs for three dollars. THREE dollars!!!! I was pretty ecstatic, because I'd seen them before at farmers markets and they were always ridiculously overpriced, especially considering how little edible matter is in each egg. So, along with my octopus legs I also picked up the quail eggs and, after walking through the amazing ramen-filled food court, decided to try my hand at making a ramen from scratch. It's not specifically Korean, but more of a blend of various Asian ramen styles. I used Japanese red pepper, Thai fish cause, and Malaysian shrimp paste among other things to create the broth, which tasted wonderful. Just the right balance of spicy and savory. It smells amazing, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strawberry Banana Bread

Sorry it has been a bit since my last post, things have been slightly hectic lately with work and side projects. I'm really enjoying being a Page, it's the best job I've ever had by far. The first time I supervised a section of The Tonight Show audience by myself someone in my section threw up during Justin Timberlake's interview which was....stressful. BUT, I figure that that's probably the worst thing that could possibly happen, so now that I've gotten that over with I'm pretty much good to go.

Back to the food, I made this banana bread a few weeks ago, simply because I was craving banana bread and happened to have some extra strawberries on hand. It tasted wonderful and was really moist, the flavor from the strawberries kind of leaks into the bread when you cook it, so there's a nice strawberry tang as well. Plus, it looks really pretty when you cut into it and it appears as though you've put waaaaay more effort into the preparation than you actually have. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seafood Paella

Lately I've been craving a nice, hot, spiced rice dish. I thought long and hard about what to make, and remembered how much I loved paella, and how long it's been since I've tasted it, (I haven't had paella since I went backpacking through Spain in 2007!) I had it twice there, the first time was at a touristy restaurant and it was terrible because the rice wasn't cooked all the way through, which pretty much ruins the dish. The second time, however, was at a small, inconspicuous cafe/restaurant in Valencia, and it was amazing. Richly seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Paella is traditionally made with vegetables, rice, meat and/or seafood, smoked paprika, chorizo sausage, and saffron. The chorizo sausage typically used in paella is different than Mexican chorizo, it is a dried sausage much like salami, rather than the raw Mexican chorizo sausage that requires additional cooking. Much to my chagrin, I was unable to find Spanish chorizo sausage to make this dish, but I figure that most people probably won't be able to find any either, so I made it with a tasty easy-to-find Italian salami and added a little extra smoked paprika to make up for the lack of chorizo. It is particularly important to use smoked paprika and not regular paprika, as the smoked paprika has a distinct and intense flavor. Think of the difference in taste between smoked salmon and plain salmon. Miles apart. It is also key to use saffron, which is the signature spice of the dish. Unfortunately, saffron is really expensive, BUT, I looked around and found that the best deal for it was at Trader Joe's, where you can buy a small bottle for $6, which is much less than the $14 bottles that were available at other grocery stores. I also tossed in some miniature heirloom tomatoes to give it an extra punch of color and acidity. It came out looking wonderfully, and tasted amazing, very rich and full of flavor. Hope you enjoy it!