Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lithuanian Fish - Žuvis!

Ventes Ragas
Vente, Lithuania

Tomas and I went with the family out to the western edge of Lithuanian, along the Baltic Seashore. We stopped for lunch at a cottage style fish restaurant where we ate fish in many forms. The map above shows where we were, near the tip of a peninsula. The foggy rainy weather made sitting next to a wood burning stove all the more cozy.
First Course:
We started off with some Gira to drink. Gira is a traditional lithuanian drink made from fermented yeast. The taste is complex to explain in words: it tastes like bread and molasses and has the consistency of beer. Very tasty. To eat we started with some toasted bread and a parsley fish butter spread.

2nd Course:
Next we had some fish soup: fish broth with pieces of white fish, carrots potatoes and dill. The warm soup really warmed us up.

3rd Course:
Next, our server brought out a "snack." A full platter of a variety of pickled, oil packed, and jellied fish along with tomatoes and eggplant. We ate the aperetivo with some rustic lithuanian rye bread.

4th Course:
Lastly, we picked out a fresh fish from an iced bin and a cook grilled our fish in the stone fire place next to our table. We ate the fish with an onion-honey-mustad sauce, berry sauce and ground nut sauce. We also had potatoes (of course-Lithuanians love their potatoes) and a cabbage salad.

Labai Skanu! (Very tasty)


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spinach Salad Medely

This Salad was inspired by what I already had in my fridge. I have become very proficient in the salad process because it's what is the easiest to make when you have already prepared foods and want to put them all together. This salad starts with the following:

red and yellow pepper
roasted brussel sprouts
roasted white sweet potato
wild field greens

I topped it with cottage cheese (lowfat please, it tastes way better than non-fat) and flax seeds for a little crunch. After our medical classes about the benefit of omega 3 fatty acids and their anti-inflammatory effects, flax seeds make a guest appearance in many dishes of mine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Peach, Arugula, and Gorgonzola Pizza

This pizza was inspired by a flavor of the day at The Cheeseboard in Berkeley (Best pizza place hands down....if you love crunchy California flavors and farmers market produce) I did not get to try this flavor at the Cheeseboard and after seeing the toppings and not getting to indulge in what I had anticipated as one of the best pizzas I would ever eat, I had to simply make it for myself. While I didn't have the pizza slab and the 600 degree oven, the result was pretty tasty none the less. I used whole wheat dough from trader joes, but making you own is so easy if you just plan ahead.

For dough:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine water, yeast, and sugar in mixing bowl, and wait until yeast is frothy.
3. Mix flour, salt, olive oil, and spices into yeast mixture (mix salt into the second cup of flour to combine).
4. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
5. Roll dough out into a large pizza peel, or onto two medium-size baking sheets.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes, and set aside.

(From Sugarlaws)

I baked the dough for about 7 minutes before putting any toppings on. Then I put on slices of peaches, mozzarella cheese and Gorgonzola. The arugala went on the last 2 minutes so it didn't wilt too much. I then added a little lemon vinagrette for that added tangyness. It was fabulous!

Serve hot!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

French Crepes (Brittany style)

It was a beautiful sunny day in San Francisco and we met up with Arnaud from Brittany, who works with my roommate Angie. Brittany is a part of france known for their crepes. He cooked up some amazing crepes and we smothered them with ice cream, banannas, cherries, and love. We had them on the stoop of his victorian house in the Haight and we soon had melting ice cream dripping down our hands from the warm was a divine experience. I was also taught how to fashion the crepe in the proper french style (being American I was thinking we would need a knife and fork). I would highly recommend learning how to make crepes because not only is it delicious, it is also a great way to enjoy any stoop on a sunny Saturday. I didn't have time to get the exact recipe, but here is one close to it. The key is using the right amount of butter on the pan when you're cooking the crepe, and getting it thin and slightly crispy on the edges. The inside toppings are up to you, but from my experience with the French, nutella is one of the primo ingredients. I also like sugar and lemon.

3/4 cups all purpose flour (buckwheat flour is also good for savory crepes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

mix everything in a large mixing bown until smooth
(you can also chill the batter for 30 minutes in the fridge if you have the time)
Heat the pan over medium and brush with butter (Arnaud used a paper towel dipped in butter and spread it on the pan)
Pour the batter in the hot pan and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. If there are still uncoated portions of the pan, pour more batter on and swirl. Cook for about a minute and flip using a spatula or a flick of the rist if you're daring.
This makes about 8-10 crepes.

Stack the crepes on a plate and take them outside to the stoop. Be sure to add your toppings only to a small part of the crepe, fold in half, and then fold again so the crepe makes a triangle. It's best to take the first bite from the bottom where all the goodies are, but this does result in a bit of a sticky mess for the inexperienced such as myself. But I'm willing to practice my crepe technique as much as possible if it means I can make more crepes. The next crepe will be buckewheat crepes with ham and Gruyere.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Greek Style Taco

I love the way the yogurt sauce in this taco really balances with the vegetables and creates a very refreshing meal. I stir fried the vegetables with onions, red pepper, black beans, and garlic with a little cumin. The black beans were Rancho Gordo beans from the ferry building farmers market. We had some leftover tortillas from enchiladas we made before and I was inspired by the crisp cucumber waiting in my fridge to be eaten. I added the yogurt and diced cucumber with some salt and pepper and put it on the taco as a finishing touch. The crunch from the cucmber also gave the taco that extra pizzaz. Here is the recipe:

Half and Onion
one green pepper (or other colored peppers)
1 clove garlic
black beans (soaked and pre cooked)
corn torilla
nonfat yogurt
english cucumber
salt and pepper

Saute the chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. Add the cumin unti aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped pepper and let soften about 5-10 minutes. Add the black beans and stir. Meanwhile, made the yogurt sauce with cucumber, salt, and pepper (you cad add dill or vinegar as well). Cook the corn tortilla on a pan with a little olive oil until crispy, about 5 minutes. Put the begetable and bean mixture in the corn tortilla and spoon over the yogurt sauce. Enjoy and make seconds!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Seafood Paella

We finally made Paella! I've been meaning to make paella for a long time now and haven't had the occasion or the excuse to feed that many people. When the roommate bought special paella rice and saffron, I new it was in the works. We used the Trader Joe's seafood mix in the freezer section and it worked out really well. Chicken, peas, and peppers also accompanied our Paella and in the end we had a fabulous Spanish feast. I made arugula with lemon Parmesan vinaigrette inspired by my two favorite food bloggers Alanna and Alex and their blog Two Fat Als. The Paella is also from their site:
Paella Recipe

We modified it slightly but really you can add to this dish anything you have lying around. It is meant to be a dish that can take on many flavors and feed lots of people. Feliz Cocinando!(maybe too much of a literal translation but you get my drift)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Easter Salad

This salad was super easy to put together, mostly because everything was already cooked and I just had to assemble. It's a bit of a hodgepodge of ingredients but each one added it's own character to the salad. I brought everything together with a bit of lemon vinaigrette. The eggs were soaked with beet juice so they turned a pretty shade of pink which makes this salad perfect for Easter.

the ingredient list:

Trader Joes frozen sweet corn (it's super yummy)
red beets
sauteed tofu
green onions
boiled egg

Lemon juice
olice oil
salt , pepper

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Miso Soup

I had the urge to make miso soup ever since I saw it on 101 cookbooks. I'd never cooked with miso paste, and it seemed like the variations on the dish were endless. I made this miso soup with soft tofu, green onions, brown mushrooms, soba noodles, white miso, and leeks (but only because I had them leftover) . It would have been nice to add bok choy or something else green. I topped it off with cilantro which added a really fresh flavor kick at the end. The trick to miso soup is getting the miso concentration just right. I added about 2 tablespoons of the miso paste, let is simmer for about 5 minutes, and then taste. I continued to add more little by little until it reached the right taste profile. But be careful, it's easy to add too much miso. Here is the recipe.

Saute 1 bushel leeks or bok choy, mushrooms, and tofu in a pan with a little oil until wilted (leeks take a fair amount of time to get tender)
Pre-cook soba noodles (boil for about 5-10 minutes in salted water)
Add sauteed greens, mushrooms, and tofu to the noodles in water.
let simmer for 5 minutes
Add 2 tablespoons miso paste and stir until dissolved.
Add more miso to taste.
Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and more chopped green onions.


You can really add anything in the miso to make it your own. Some other ideas are:
egg drop
snap peas

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Beer Can Chicken

We made this for Grace and Rene's Birthday party. It was inspired by our trip to Napa and our dinner at The Bounty Hunter. In an idea world, this would be cooked on a grill. I cooked it in the oven and it worked out great. The key is to cut the top off the beer can with a can opener. Then pour half the beer out and put some of the seasoning inside. Then place the chicken sitting upright over the beer can. The whole point is that the beer will boil up and flavor the chicken. Make sure you have a good rub for the chicken as well. I used the following:

chili powder
brown sugar

The Beer: Tecate

The result: delicious!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Strawberry Balsamic Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I made this cake for a birthday party we had for both of my roommates. I got this recipe from my sister, the queen of cakes as far as I know. As you can see by all our cake posts, she's quite accomplished, so I knew she would have the perfect cake recipe. I altered the recipe slightly because I love the flavors of strawberries and balsamic. It turned out really well, and the cream cheese in the whipped cream frosting has a slight tangy flavor. The cake base is very light due to the whipped egg whites. The strawberry filling has just the right amount of tang and sweetness to complement the yellow cake base. Here are some pictures that show how the cake is put together.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hazelnut Mousse Torte

I decided to call this a torte because it justifies how rich this cake was. It's very important to give dishes and cakes the right name because it has a huge psychological effect on the eater. I just made a devils food cake (split into 3 layers) and filled it with a nutella mousse. Then I gave the cake a ganache blanket for the icing. I used spun sugar and sugar curly q's to make the design. And finally, I topped it with a few chocolate curls and pressed some toasted chopped hazelnuts around the edge. This cake was featured at the neighborhood inagural ball.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Broccoli Waldorf Salad, Pork Ribs, Roasted Potatoes

The roomies and I decided to make dinner together tonight. When we decide to cook together, it means...I get to explain to Rene and Rod what vegetables are and they decide that potatoes are best roasted in the juices of the pork loin. I like our cooking styles...they play off each other, and in the end we create a delicious dinner. Tonight it was Broccoli Waldorf salad which was a great combination of bitter green, sweet fruit, and tangy lemon. Pork ribs and loin were baked at 350 for one hour (two for the ribs) with Shit Yeah sauce (courtesy of Christopher Richard...the recipe includes chipotle peppers and tamarid) and the potatoes were roasted for 1-1.5 hours at 350. After the pork loin has been cooked and the juices are flowing, stick the potoates in the juices and roast for an additional 20 minutes.

Broccoli Waldorf Salad
blanched broccoli
shredded gala apple
dried currants (or raisins)
lemon juice
salt to taste

combine in salad bowl and toss

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Oysters by the Bay

Rene and I got a hands on lesson about Oysters on the half shell from John Myers, head oyster chef of Aquatic Culture. We learned what knives to use when shucking oysters, how to "finesse" the oyster open, and how to make three different oyster preparations. I liked oysters before, but after this little lesson, I simply adore these salty delicacies. John taught me how to shuck the oysters and Rene and I got to try all his different preparations. We had the oyster served three ways: Chili Lime Granita, Seaweed Shallot Mignonette, and Herb Butter with Sourdough Crumb. They were all amazing! My favorite was the Seaweed Shallot Mignonette. I'll post the recipes soon. Until then, you can gawk at the little beauties below......

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Farmer's Market Tacos

These tacos were inspired by the fresh farmer's market produce. It all started with some of the most rich and tender avocados I've ever had. They were melt in your mouth good. I then had to try my very first bag of Rancho Gordo beans. These beans quite famous for their freshness and flavor. I went for the black beans, recommended to me by a friend, and they stood up to their reputation. Next time I think I'd try the garbonzo beans. The taco's were slowly coming together. I found some great looking green and purple cabbage and I knew I was getting close. After I grabbed some cilantro and green onions, taco's were going to be on the menu. I made these babies with pulled chicken sauted with onion and cumin. I also fried up some corn tortillas (don't eat them raw....I was a mistake). All together they came out beautifully and quite tasty. I added some lime on top and yogurt or sour cream.They were so good!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cheese Tour San Fran

Last weekend Maryn and I had a great idea to go cheese shop hopping around some nearby neighborhoods in the city. Our first stop was the friendly local cheese shop called Cheese Plus." Right on Polk and Pacific, we stepped in a got to sample some of the lovely cheeses along with a slew of tapenades made with some very interesting combinations like the fennel and blood orange ( pictured here). We moved on down Union Street to Sputino, a cute little cheese enclave with other italian treats. While on Union Street, we stumbled upon Cocoa Bella, an adorable little chocolate shop with some exotic flavored treats. We sampled the hazelnut truffle and the rosemary truffle. The rosemary was surprisingly good. I ended up getting some strawberry balsamic truffles, one of my favorite flavor combinations of all time! We saw some blue cheese truffles (pictured) which were intruiging, but I was not daring enough to expose my pallet to that tempting oxymoron of flavors. Then we strode down fillmore in search of the closed down Artisan Cheese shop....apparently it had been closed for 2 years! We took a long walk down California to our final destination....AG Ferrari, where I stumbled upon some of the best italian cheese I've ever tasted. After having been in florence for over a week, I had to buy the Buchetto a la tartufo. It had wonderful truffle flavor (the mushroom that is all over Tuscany) and reminded me of the cute little osterias of Florence.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bistecca a la Florentina

In Florence, the best place to get bistecca florentina is Cipolla Rossa. We walked into the small cozy restaurant with dark wood tables and italian wines lining the shelves of the walls. The dinner started off with appetizers of sopressata and ricotta topped parmesean crepes, and anchovy crostini. We then ordered the house Chianti, the best wine of the Tuscany region made from Chianini grapes. After we ordered, the waitress brought out the slab of steak on a plate before it was cooked. We approved the cut of meat, and it was sent back to the kitchen for it's florentine searing. This bistecca is no joke, here they don't ask you how you want your meat cooked. You can only get it done one way, and it's some of the most flavorful meat I've ever tasted. Here is a little peek at what we were working with.

As a sidenote, the cappuccinos in Florence were amazing and let's just say the sweets were delectible. The gelato creamy, rich, and plentiful. The winter sweet panforte was by far my favorite dessert. This Christmas treat is a combination of dried fruits and nuts with some fabulous spices.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chicken Parmesean

The roomies and I decided to make dinner together. One of Rene's specialties is chicken parmesean, an I must say, it tasted pretty special. The mozarrella was amazingly soft, the tomato sauce, courtesy of 101 cookbooks, it one of the simplest recipes, with garlic, onions, salt, pepper, and crushed tomatoes. The flavors are so great that you don't need to dress up the tomato sauce with fancy spices. I would suggest some oregano if you have it.

We breaded the chicken in egg wash and bread crumbs. Then we baked it for 35 minutes. We put the tomato sauce on top and mozorella and let it bake for 10-15 more minutes. When the chicken was fully cooked, we transferred the chicken with sauce over pasta. Serve with a green salad. The green salad has a tomato, garlic, and lemon juice dressing.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

This was inspired by Tartine, one of the best bakeries in San Francisco. This place is always so packed you can barely walk to get a table, but it's location in the mission is the perfect place for this not-so-secret culinary gem.

I had some extra baguette bread and roasted pumpkin so I thought this combo was too good to pass up. I mixed and egg with some milk, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and a little sugar to taste. Then I poured the mixture over cubes of bread and mixed in the shredded roasted pumpkin. I don't have measurements because I eyeballed most of it, but make sure the bread gets its fair share of the wet ingredients. Then bake the bread for about 20 minutes. I topped it off with some yogurt and honey right after taking it out of the oven.....It was sooo delicious still warm from the oven. I highly recommend this breakfast, especially if you have leftover stale bread.