Monday, July 9, 2007

For the 4th of July (BBQ and Bocce Ball Tournament) this year we barbecued the tri-tip roast from my stash of beef in the freezer.

I used a very simple marinade of garlic, olive oil and pepper coarsely mashed then placed in a bag with the tri-tip for about 1 hour. My roast didn't really have any fat on it at all but if there was fat I would have scored it with a knife to make sure that the garlic paste would flavor the entire roast all the way through.

Seared on the BBQ for about 5 minutes per side, then set over indirect heat to continue to cook until med-rare (around 20 minutes). I let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and then ate it!

It was so juicy and tender. It had a strong beefy flavor and definitely tasted different (better!) than other tri-tip that I have prepared. The grass-fed beef so far is a winner. And it was even better the next day in a Thai beef salad with cilantro, lemongrass, lime and Thai chilies. My husband had a tri-tip sandwich which consisted of a lot of beef and a kaiser roll--nothing else to take away from the taste of the beef!
Can't wait to try other recipes. I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to the other beef at the grocery store!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Grass-Fed Beef: The Delivery

Well, I received my delivery of the grass-fed beef and it looks good! Here are the pics showing how it was packaged, what it looks like and how much space it took up in my freezer.




When I first opened the box here is what I found:
a wonderful book on grass-fed beef, business card magnet,
cooking instructions and lots of beef!




At first it doesn't look like there is too much in there
because of the tight packing and the dry ice...



But as you can see it is actually quite a lot of beef, 40 lbs. in all!


Close-up of the tri-tip roast that I prepared for 4th of July (more on that later).


It didn't take up as much room as I thought it would!

But still, how will I get through 40 lbs. of beef?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grass-Fed Beef from Northern California

Meat Cut Chart from Lazy69Ranch.com

It's been awhile since I have posted and I have to thank my friend Rose for pushing me to keep up with it!!
With all the news, books and publicity out there about food safety, I have been increasingly more aware of where my food comes from. I can get my fruit and vegetables from a farmer's market and talk to the farmer's or employees, I get my eggs from a friend who has chickens (thanks Denise!), but my meat comes from who knows where! So I decided that I was going to find a way to get my meat straight from the farm.

After much research I stumbled across a website with tons of resources for farms in Northern California. Some offered beef, lamb and chicken while others were more specialized. I decided to try beef for my first purchase. I narrowed down my choices to those that would ship the beef to me. I went back and forth to many wonderful websites and I finally settled on Lazy 69 Ranch.

Here is why I choose Lazy 69 Ranch:

1. I could buy 1/10 of beef (40 lbs) at a good price, the others offered much larger packages of beef.

2. They dry-age their beef for 21 days.

3. USDA grass-fed cattle. No hormones, antibiotics, or additives.

4. Organic practices are high on their list. Though they aren't certified organic they are reaching "beyond organic".

5. Wonderful, quick service with really friendly owners (Dan & Malinda) and they work with you to make sure you are getting what you want.

6. Cooking tips are available on their website which is good since grass-fed beef cooks a little different than grain-fed.
My first shipment arrives tomorrow and I can't wait to try the beef. You will be hearing a lot more about this as I go through all the different cuts of beef and recipes!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Best Burger

Last night for my birthday my husband and I went to 25 Degrees in located in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. A new twist on a burger joint created by Tim and Liza Goodell, proprietors of Dakota, Troquet, and the Red Pearl Kitchen concept. I was wondering about the name, 25 Degrees, and I found out that the name refers to the temperature difference between a medium rare and well done burger.

Sitting in the cozy half-moon shaped leather booth, looking at the rich textured wall coverings and chandeliers, we felt like we were transported to another world. But another world that served something very familiar--burgers.

As we settled into the relaxed atmosphere we looked at the menu and imagined what our unique burgers would taste like. The wonderful thing about the sirloin burgers at 25 Degrees is that you can choose your toppings. And since my husband and I have different tastes in burgers we were able to decide what we each thought would be the best burger ever!

The burgers were incredible! I got the sirloin burger topped with midnight moon goat cheese, garlic aioli, avocado, prosciutto and arugula. He got the sirloin burger topped with smoked mozzarella cheese, bacon, chili and jalapenos! The burgers were served inside an incredible bun, much like a brioche and they were hot and juicy. And huge! It took us quite awhile to finish the burger.

And what is a burger without fries and onion rings? We had to share the 1/2 & 1/2 (1/2 french fries and 1/2 onion rings) which was served in a large chinese take-out container. Instead of the traditional ketchup we went with dipping sauces for the fries and rings--garlic parmesan and horseradish cream. So good!

I had to save room for the chocolate shake which was a wonderful ending to the perfect meal. The waitress did recommend the Guinness float and we will definitely try that next time.

If you are looking for an outstanding burger and a unique dining experience you should definitely try 25 Degrees. My husband said that it was the best burger he has ever had and I would have to agree. Oh yeah, and they were showing "Legends of the Fall" on the flat screen televisions...interesting choice!

25 Degrees is located at 7000 Hollywood Blvd, inside the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Open for breakfast daily 7am-10:30am
Monday to Wednesday 11:30am-1am
Thursday to Saturday 11:30am-3am
Sunday 11:30pm-10pm

Monday, April 2, 2007

H&H Nursery

In planning my vegetable, fruit and herb container garden this year, I found out about H&H Nursery in Lakewood. I wanted find something different than Armstrong, Home Depot or Lowe's and this is a great find! H&H has so many different varieties of trees, flowers, fruits and vegetables that it was hard to choose what to bring home!

In lieu of a large orchard, I buy the semi-dwarf or dwarf fruit and citrus trees and keep them in containers. This year I added to my collection with a Fuji apple tree, an almond tree and a papaya tree. The 5 gallon apple and almond tree were $30 each and the 2 gallon papaya tree was $20. I also bought most of my herbs and vegetable plants from there as well. The price for the 4" plants were $2.49 each--just a little more than you would pay at the grocery store and you don't have to drive to the store for just a little sprig.

They have very reasonable prices for organic gardening and potting soil. 1.5 cu ft for $7.99 for the potting soil. I also saw the cocoa shell mulch and if you are wondering if it smells like chocolate, yes, it does! I was tempted to get it but since my dog loves to eat almost everything, I wasn't sure if the cocoa shells would harm her so I resisted. But I will do some research to see if it would be dangerous and if not, I will get some cocoa mulch!

Check out their newsletter for news, tips and a recipe of the week. http://www.hhnursery.com/current/

H&H Nursery
6220 Lakewood Blvd
Lakewood, CA 90712
Hours:
Mon-Fri 7:30-5:30
Sat 8:00-5:30
Sun 9:00-4:30

Laurel's Heirloom Tomatoes

I love the look of heirloom tomatoes. The odd-shapes, unique colors, a variety of types and tastes are what draw me to them. The prices for these in the grocery store can be quite expensive and are a little better at farmers markets. But for those who want to try their hand at growing them, keep reading!

A friend recently told me about a local grower of heirloom tomatoes and since I am starting my vegetable & herb garden this year, I had to check it out. Laurel from Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants offers 150 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, from small cherry tomato varieties to the huge beefsteaks. Her website lists each tomato along with a picture and a description and lots of good notes on each variety. This past weekend she had a plant sale where I picked up the green zebra and san manzano plants. I can't wait to pot them and see the beautiful fruits! She ships the plants from Gardena, with a minimum order of 1 plant, and she has tons of tips on her site for first time tomato gardeners (like me!). If you live close enough, you can also pick up your order at the nursery.

Most of the 4" plants are $4.50 and some very unique varieties are a little more. She also offers some pepper and basil plants as well.

I'll keep you updated on my tomato plant progress as the season goes on!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Famima!!


In my travels to Europe, New York and San Francisco, I realized that I love to walk to local places for a cup of coffee or for some food. Unfortunately in my suburban neighborhood in Long Beach, there aren't that many good places that are in walking distance. So when they were building a new modern looking structure close to my house, I was hoping that it wouldn't be another cell phone store but something food related. I was out walking and noticed that they finally had signs up to promote what would be moving into one of the spaces and that is how I found out it would be Famima!!

I didn't know exactly what Famima!! was so I went to their website to find out. It is a chain of stores that began in 2004 and are located in Los Angeles. They describe themselves as a "Convenience Store", "Premium Grocery" and "Quick Service Restaurant". In describing the store to a friend, I realized that it could be described as a gourmet Asian-fusion convenience store. The kind of place that you can make a quick stop at if you need something fast to eat, a snack, a loaf of bread or some milk. The difference between Famima!! and other convenience stores is that Famima!! offers good-quality sushi, specialty teas, gourmet chocolate, pocky and many, many more unique items.

With deli choices, magazines, stationery, snacks and beverages, this is a wonderful store that you really must visit. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or a fresh grilled panini, sit at the round tables and enjoy the clean, bright atmosphere. Stop by sometime to check it out--and it is open late for those of you craving some sushi at 11:00pm. A question that I still have yet to be answered, why the two exclamation points after Famima?? I hope to find out soon.


Locations in Long Beach:


Los Coyotes Diagonal
Open 7 days/week
7am-12am

2nd Street COMING SOON

Certified Farmers Markets in Long Beach














A few years ago I found out about the farmers markets in Long Beach. There are three different markets throughout the week and each of them are unique. They have many of the same vendors but take place on different days and at different locations. For farm lists, websites and more information, visit harborareafarmersmarkets.org

Thursday's from 4pm-7:30 pm. This market is in transition. It has moved around multiple times and is now held on the southwest corner of the Long Beach Health Dept. parking lot, a block south of E. Willow St. and just east of Redondo Ave. along E. Burnett St. This is the smallest of the three markets and seems to lack the most customers. I think it is at an odd time, but they were probably trying to get those people who come after they get off work. I would like to go to this one more often but I honestly forget about it.

Friday's from 10am-4pm. The downtown area market is busy and has a lot to offer. Located on the Promenade North between E. 5th and E. 4th Streets, this is a fun one to visit. On one side of the street are the food vendors, selling shaved ice, kettle corn, Mediterranean bread and on the other side are the fruit, vegetable and flower vendors. Then you turn the corner and there are more vendors. Then another corner and you are surprised with just a few more. This one also moved locations awhile back and I felt that at the old location, there were many more food vendors, music and it was just larger. This is still relatively a nice size, but doesn't seem to have the same feel as before. You could go there on your lunch break and choose from many different types of food, take it and sit down on the amphitheatre steps while enjoying some entertaining, and sometimes cheesy music. I wish that it had that same atmosphere now, but it is still a good market. On the other side of 4th street is the craft fair, for those who enjoy the handmade candles, purses, art and other craft items.

Sunday's from 9am-1pm. I haven't been to the Sunday market in awhile and just went this past Sunday and told myself that I need to go more often. Located in the parking lot of the Alamitos Bay Marina, on E. Marina Drive one-quarter mile south of E. 2nd St., just west of Pacific Coast Highway. Some of the unique items at the Sunday market are: grassfed bison meat, fresh fish (first come, first served), Japanese maples & bamboo for sale, face painting, and the list goes on and on. I knew that I would pick-up some bison meat because I have read a lot about how good and healthy it is for you and I had a few other items on my list as well. As I was walking along on the cold, drizzly morning I was hit with so many different wonderful smells. The first was kettle corn, then tamales, then fresh flowers. I wanted to try everything! There were a few newer vendors there and so I had to try a few things that I have never seen before. Chinese artichokes were one of them. I asked the owner how to prepare them and he said they could be eaten raw or sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper. The flavor is a bit like jicama and has the texture of a radish. I can't wait to try those! I wish that I had brought more cash so that I could stand in the long line and get some fresh fish--it looked amazing and I know that you have to come early to get the best and when they run out, they run out. Across the parking lot is the craft fair and I was so cold that I didn't have a chance to stop and browse. It was a fun morning and I came home with lots of wonderful fruit and veggies.

Farmers Market Tips:

1. If you are planning to purchase a lot of items, bring a rolling cart. This can save you from having sore arms from carrying so many heavy items.
2. You must have cash and the vendors appreciate smaller bills.
3. Keep your cash in your pocket or a small change purse so that it is easier to get to (but be careful and keep a close watch on it!).
4. Walk through the market once to see what each person has and to compare the prices and quality on the items you are looking for before you make a purchase.
5. Try something new. There are so many items that you won't find in a grocery store and what better way to expand your culinary tastes than to find something and try it out.
6. Accept the free samples! Even if it is something that you don't normally eat, try it--you could find that you really enjoy it.
7. Go to the market on a regular basis and get to know the sellers.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Five Things to Eat Before You Die


The Travelers Lunchbox is putting together a comprehensive list, from food bloggers, of the things to eat before you die. I think this is a wonderful idea and it has challenged me to keep trying new foods until I try everything possible that is out there! In thinking about my favorite's I thought about those that I remember with the best memories or the foods that I can eat over and over again.

It was tough but here my list of what I think you should eat before you die:

1. Pho. An amazing Vietnamese beef noodle soup that you can tailor to your tastes by adding cilantro, thai basil, lime juice, jalapeno, bean sprouts, soy sauce and rooster sauce. I have only had the Pho here in California and I can't wait to be able to take a trip to Vietnam to try the original, authentic Pho. Check out the Pho-King blog for all Pho news, all the time.

2. Fresh Baked Homemade Bread. If you have never tried to bake your own bread, not in a bread machine, you definitely need to put this on your list. The fragrance of bread baking is amazing and the taste is incomparable to what you would purchase at the store. My favorites to bake are baguettes, ciabatta and pane siciliano.

3. Chocolate Truffles. From La Maison Du Chocolat--stores in New York, London and Paris. Amazing.

4. Fish and Chips. Preferably at a pub and washed down with a Boddingtons (or two). A comfort food of sorts--crispy, hot & fried.

5. Cinnamon & Sugar Crepe. When the weather is cold, get a crepe from a Paris street vendor. Walk along the Seine, inhale the sweet fragrance, let it warm your face and savor every bite.

As I was thinking about the list, I kept debating on what were the top foods and I'm sure I will think of different things as the days go on, but these are the first that I thought of so I am sticking with them. I encourage you to try these and check out all the others on The Travelers Lunchbox website (click on the guide to the globe logo).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Favorite Food Podcasts

I recently started listening to a few wonderful food podcasts driving to and from work during the week and they have made me look forward to driving! I had to weed through a few pretty poorly executed podcasts and luckily found some real gems. Here are my top 4:


Bon Appetit: This is a weekly podcast that focuses on a different section of the current Bon Appetit issue that is on newsstands. Always informative and with wonderful guests speaking this is one that I wished aired more than once a week. The show normally runs under 30 minutes. They also have a great blog that you should check out.


Eat Feed: Based in Chicago, Anne Bramley discusses a wide variety of subjects on Eat Feed. The show is divided up by category. The main categories are Amouse Bouche, The Tastes of the Month, The Latest News from the Food World, Cookbook Reviews. My favorite is the Amouse Bouche. In this she will cover the history of a term, a new food or just give background on something that you know little about. The times of each show vary from 5 minutes to 1 hour. This podcast was listed as #64 on Saveur Magazines Top 100 favorite foods, restaurants, drinks, people, places and things (February 2007 issue). And it is definitely in my top 2!


KCRW's Good Food: A local radio show on KCRW in L.A. is Good Food. If you are like me and are not normally in your car on Saturday mornings to hear the radio show then you too should download the podcast. It starts off with a live market report telling what is in season at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Then there are a range of things discussed, normally new restaurants or new foods, and there is usually a prevailing theme surrounding the show. It is a great podcast and was also in the Saveur Magazines Top 100 as #81. The show is normally 1 hour in length so it is perfect for a longer run, bike ride or drive! Oh yeah, and they also have a video podcast.


Jamie's Podcast: Jamie Oliver hosts a very entertaining and lively show from London. I have been a fan of his because the way that he cooks is just so simple, yet so wonderful. The programming isn't set for weekly, monthly, etc. but when you do come across a show you will have a lot of fun listening. Awhile back there was a two-part series on Italy and it inspired me to try to make more Italian food. And just last week there was a Valentine's show that was on the simple foods you can prepare and taste delicious. The shows are normally 1 hour. Definitely should check this one out!


**All logos are copyright from each respective website.**

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Coffee and Tea Infused Chocolate Truffles


After trying the disappointing chocolate at the chocolate festival this past weekend, I decided to try making my own. I went with the basic chocolate truffle--bittersweet chocolate and cream, coated with chocolate then tossed in cocoa powder. I loved the taste of the truffles so much that I had to try them infused with coffee and tea.

There are a few different ways to infuse the flavor into the truffles. Depending on the item you either infuse it in the cream the day before or you infuse into the cream after heating it and before you pour onto the chocolate. For both the coffee and tea I added each into the cream for 24 hours before heating, chilling, shaping and eating.


For the coffee flavor I used Winter Blend from It's A Grind Coffee House. Winter Blend is a combination of vanilla, cinnamon, hazelnut, irish cream and other spices. It is one of my favorite coffee's and it makes a perfect match for the bittersweet chocolate.




I went with Tea du Hammam Rouge for the other truffle. A new tea that I have been enjoying from Le Palais des Thes, I thought it would be a great compliment to the chocolate. It is a fruity red tea with green date pulp, red fruits and I think passion fruit.

The flavors were subtle with the first bite but with each additional bite the flavor intensified and both were great! I am so happy they turned out so good and I am planning to try the next batch with rosemary and other herbs.

A few of my favorite chocolate cookbooks, where I got my inspiration:

Bittersweet by Alice Medrich
La Maison du Chocolat by Robert Linxe
Truffles, Candies, and Confections: Techniques and Recipes for Candymaking by Carole Bloom



Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ventura Chocolate Festival: Part II


After much anticipation, my friend and I finally were going to the chocolate festival! We were very excited to check things out and get to sample all the wonderful chocolate. I am sorry to say that it was extremely disappointing, to say the least. For a chocolate festival, there wasn't very much chocolate at all. There were more craft booths than chocolate booths. After spending an hour walking the halls (twice) we did come across one good booth, Diva Chocolates, that offered chocolate flavored beef jerky and cocoa steak/rib rubs. It was pretty good jerky and I will be trying the rub on some steaks! Maybe after a few years they will draw more of a crowd for chocolate but until then I won't be travelling to Ventura for the chocolate festival.


Oh yeah, I forgot about the camel and zebra! Not much to say there but it was fun to see some animals...

Wat Thai Temple: Open-Air Food Fair











I have a few friends who have been to Thailand and when I came across an article about a Thai Temple in North Hollywood that had a food fair with an authentic Thai street-food I knew I had to check it out. Every Saturday and Sunday from 9-5 you can go to the temple and eat tons of wonderful Thai food! First step is to exchange your money for tokens to use to purchase the food. There are many different entrees to choose from as well as desserts. Just a warning, if you don't want your food spicy--make sure to ask for it mild! Their idea of medium is pretty hot. I had only $5.50 and I was able to get a chicken skewer, fresh papaya salad (they made it in a mortar & pestle right in front of me), some Thai donuts and another dessert, and I had food leftover! It was an incredible experience and I will definitely be going again to try all the other food.

Wat Thai Temple
8225 Coldwater Canyon (Coldwater Canyon & Roscoe Blvd)
North Hollywood
170 Fwy to Roscoe Blvd West.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

REDCAT Presents Food for Thought: Great American Writing About the Food We Eat

If you enjoy reading food essays then you must check out this event at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater). REDCAT celebrates the publication of American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes with a roundtable of columnists, chefs and food writers reading their favorite passages from the anthology. With passages being read from authors such as David Sedaris, M.F.K. Fisher and Eric Schlosser the discussion is sure to be entertaining! The roundtable takes place at REDCAT on Tuesday, May 1 at 8:30PM and tickets are $8 for general admission.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Cooks Library


Reading is a favorite hobby of mine and my favorite type of books to read are cookbooks. I found out about The Cooks Library a few months ago and I just had an opportunity to visit the store and I was in heaven. Rows and rows of cookbooks line the quaint storefront. I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start but of course found the chocolate section and spent quite a lot of time there! If you are looking for a place to find that unique cookbook or reference book then you should definitely visit The Cooks Library.

The Cook’s Library
8373 W. Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
www.cookslibrary.com

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Huge Variety of Gourmet Teas


If you love tea then the place to go in L.A. is Le Palais des Thes. After trying their tea at Jin Patisserie in Venice (great chocolates, pastries and tea), I had to find them to buy some more. I have tried a number of different teas and they are all amazing. After the suggestion from an employee, I tried the coconut and it's a black tea with a nice balance of coconut--not too much but just enough. They offer over 225 different green, black, red, white teas from all continents. Each package gives you brewing instructions and recommends the best time to drink each type of tea (morning, afternoon, evening).

Gourmet Doughnuts and Coffee


I enjoyed one of the best cups of espresso con panna and a moist buttermilk glazed doughnut at Frittelli's Doughnuts and Coffee in Beverly Hills. It was so good that I want to drive there every week just for a coffee and doughnut. Located on Canon Drive, there are many other wonderful places to eat and shop, but you should definitely start your day at Frittelli's. Check out their site for a menu of delectable designer doughnut options.

Ventura Chocolate Festival

Next Saturday and Sunday (Feb 10th & 11th) is the second annual Ventura County Chocolate Festival. It is from 10-6 on both days and is $7 per adult. This year will be my first year going and I am excited to check out what they have. There will be chocolate competitions, music, booths selling all types of chocolate, cooking demonstrations and more. In addition to the good chocolate it is also for a good cause. It is sponsored by Restoring Hope Foundation of Southern California (RHFSC). RHFSC is a non-profit organization that provides medical assistance to children from the Chernobyl region still enduring the emotional and physical consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

I will let you know all the details next week :)

Boule


Chocolate. There are going to be quite a few posts about chocolate as I am always looking for the best chocolate out there. And one of the best I have found so far is Boule. If you love chocolate you need to visit Boule in Los Angeles. They offer many unique pastries and chocolates--from curry-gianduja to fleur de sel caramels-and they are all delicious. They also offer french style macaroons and ice creams. The packaging is reason to go there itself. When you receive a package of a blue box with a chocolate brown ribbon you know you are in for a treat.

Benley Vietnamese Kitchen

I thought that I would start my blog with one of my favorite restaurants in Long Beach--Benley. I started going to Benley's a few months after they opened and started telling all my friends about it. For those who are not so sure about Vietnamese food, you have to try it. It is truly incredible and affordable! A few of my favorites are the pho, pan seared salmon with cilantro aioli and bok choy, and of course the melting valhrona chocolate cake. I have tried almost everything on the menu and love all the food. You can bring your own wine and enjoy the wine and food in the minimal, casual atmosphere. They are getting so popular now that you should call to make reservations. It is a very special place and I highly recommend it.
Benley, A Vietnamese Kitchen 8191 E. Wardlow Road, LB 90808, 562.596.8130

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