Friday, October 29, 2010

My Fave Bites: Jinya Ramen

Jinya's Tonkotsu Ramen
Hey Divas, I'm launching a new feature on this blog called My Fave Bites. I'll be posting pictures and writing about my favorite places to nosh.

This week's discovery is Jinya Ramen in Studio City! This is my new favorite ramen noodles shop, located in a strip mall in the Valley. This is recession eats at its best (a bowl of broth sells for under $10), and Jonathan Gold is also a fan (read his review here). This place has the sleek feel of a mall eatery, but with the food of a funky, little Tokyo shop. There are lots of indoor and outdoor tables, but on the rainy day I ventured forth for noodles, I opted for indoor seating.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

As Promised, More Wedding Pictures!

As promised, more wedding pictures for you!

Check out my album on Picasa. I know it's not technically food related, but check out our beautiful chocolate wedding cake.

The slide show is below. Click on the side show to link to the Picasa web album or click here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Meatless Monday: Arugula Salad with Figs, Feta, and Marcona Almonds (Plus Tasting Notes on the 2005 Alban Syrah Lorraine Vineyards)

Happy Meatless Monday!

It's a blustery day in Los Angeles, but at least it's a break from the rain. I did manage to sneak in a trip to the Hollywood Farmers Market yesterday, so I've got more great recipes coming in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, here's my favorite salad that I made recently. For years, I've dedicated myself to the art of the salad. There are so many different combinations of ingredients and flavors. Who needs the same old iceberg lettuce salad? There are summer salads, fall salads, winter salads. Your imagination is your guide.

The inspiration for this salad came from the lovely organic figs that have been showing up at my grocery store. For this "fall" salad, I paired the figs with baby wild arugula from Kenter Canyon Farms, one of my favorite organic lettuce and greens producers from Ventura county (available at both Whole Foods and local farmers markets). To complete the flavor profiles, I topped the salad with a raw goats milk feta from Redwood Hill Farms, which has nice tang, and Marcona almonds. The dressing was a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Now, I bet you're wondering, "What the heck is a Marcona almond?" If you've never tasted them, then you're in for a treat! Here's from Wikipedia:
"The Marcona variety of almond, which is shorter, rounder, sweeter, and more delicate in texture than other varieties, originated in Spain and is becoming popular in North America and other parts of the world.[17] Marcona almonds are traditionally served after being lightly fried in oil, and are also used by Spanish chefs to prepare a dessert called turrón."
Both Kuzak and I were "ooohing" and "ahhing" over this salad. Not only was the presentation beautiful, but the flavors were spot on. Even better, this is a healthy dish with plenty of fruit (figs), greens (arugula), healthy fats (olive oil, almonds), and protein (almonds, feta) to go around. I loved it so much, I made it again for dinner the following night...

Arugula Salad with Figs, Feta, and Marcona Almonds
Serves 4 people
Prep time: 5 minutes
Print Recipe

1 pint figs, quartered
4 cups organic arugula
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
1/4 cup goat's milk feta

balsamic vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons good balsamic vineger
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

To make the balsamic vinaigrette, place the balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Slowly, whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Layer one quarter of the arugula and figs on a plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients, placing them on three more plates. Top each plate with one quarter of the almonds and feta cheese. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
organic figs, Kenter Canyon Farms organic baby arugula, Redwood Hill Farms raw goats milk feta, Marcona almonds, balsamic vinegar,  and extra virgin olive oil from Whole Foods

Wine Pairing
Arlight, I'm not writing about this wine here because it pairs amazingly with this dish (in truth, it may be a little too bold). I'm writing about it because it's one of the best wines I've tasted recently -- the 2005 Alban Syrah, Lorraine Vineyards. This seminal wine was rated the coveted 100 points (a perfect score) by Robert Parker, who tends to be a lover of big Central Coast Syrah. Alban is a Central Coast producer who specializes in Rhone varieties.

We decanted this bottle, which is still considered to be drinking on the young side (and should drink well until 2022), for over two hours before drinking it. One first taste, it was clear of the quality of this wine. It was mellower and smokier than I'd anticipated, the fruit on the more subdued side for California (blackberries, darker fruit). The real sensations were the smokey, almost bacon-y smells and tastes. This was it -- I'd found another bacon wine! And the finish on this wine. It lasted for almost a minute, slowly unfurling over my palate like a plume of smoke.

Thank goodness we have two more bottles lurking in our cellar. We'll let them lurk for a while longer...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Fave Bites: Pinches Tacos (Plus Celebrity Chef Sighting!)

Pinches Taco Platter (Mole Pictured)
I've been meaning to write about Pinches Tacos, one of my favorite lunch spots in Los Angeles, for some time now. Chances are you've driven past the bright pink restaurant that's nestled right in the middle of the Sunset Strip. Maybe (in your possibly inebriated state), you've even contemplated pulling over for an emergency taco stop. (No shame in that -- I'm guessing they get a lot of late night business.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meatless Monday: Pasta al Pomodoro with Sweet Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Pasta al Pomodoro
Well, it's been a whirlwind few weeks with my wedding and honeymoon in Big Sur, but I'm back in the kitchen and ready to share more great recipes with you.

Today's Meatless Monday inspiration comes from the fabulous tomatoes that are still pouring into my grocery stores and farmers markets. Instead of the classic tomato sauce, this is a fresh pasta tossed with sweet cherry tomatoes that have been sauteed with olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil. The result is a delicious, satisfying, healthy pasta that cooks up in less than twenty minutes.

For an even healthier take on the dish, use a gluten-free and/or whole grain pasta. There are a ton of great ones flooding the market right now (check out this New York Times article). I used a gluten-free spaghetti made from rice and quinoa that was full of fiber and protein. I also love whole grain spelt pastas, and at times, make my own version fresh at home.

Pasta al Pomodoro with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Print Recipe

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pint sweet cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 pound spaghetti
parmesan reggiano

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. Reduce heat to medium-high and add the garlic cloves. Cook for two minutes until lightly browned. Add the cherry tomatoes and basil. Quickly saute them until almost bursting (about 4 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti per package instructions. Drain and add it to the pan with the tomatoes. Toss over high heat for 1 minute, then transfer to four warmed pasta bowls. Top with a little parmesan. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
quinoa spaghetti, organic cherry tomatoes, parmesan reggiano, and extra virgin olive oil from Whole Foods

organic garlic from West Hollywood Farmers Market

fresh basil from my garden

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Domestic Diva Gets Hitched!

Photograph by William Cates
I have an exciting announcement. On Saturday, Kuzak and I got married in Santa Barbara, California in front of a small group of family and friends. I'm on honeymoon for the rest of the week in Big Sur, enjoying the weather, food, wine, and everything in between. Enjoy the picture, courtesy of friend, winemaker extraordinaire, writer, and photographer William Cates.

Much love,
The Domestic Diva

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Fave Bites: Urban Belly (Chicago, IL)

Lamb & Brandy Dumplings
On my recent trip to Chicago, at the Chicago Foodie's urging, I had the good fortune to visit Urban Belly, Chef Bill Kim's modern take on a noodle joint. We drove out to the 'burbs and pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall (many of my favorite eateries are in unassuming locations like this one).

Ever since my trip to Japan, I've been on one hell of a noodle kick, eating more than my share of ramen, soba, and other noodle concoctions. All that said, Urban Belly has got to be at the top of my noodle-eating list.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meatless Monday: Roasted Asparagus with Sous Vide Egg

Roasted Asparagus with Sous Vide Egg
Our Meatless Monday journey continues...

My favorite way to prepare asparagus is to roast it in the oven, and finish it with a little lemon juice and parmesan reggiano. To kick it up a notch and make it more of a complete dish, I decided to whip out my Sous Vide Surpreme and use it to make the perfect egg, a dish that challenges even the greatest chef.

The cool thing about a sous vide egg, as opposed to a regular poached egg, is that the texture of the egg becomes like a custard that is cooked evenly throughout. So instead of the yolk being runny and the white firm, it's all a nice even texture. And believe me, few things in the world taste better than egg yolk.

The other great thing about making sous vide eggs is that you don't even have to mess with the vacuum sealer. Eggs are already naturally sealed in their shells. All you have to do is drop those puppies in the water bath and let them cook. The recipe for the perfect egg? 148 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to one hour.

If you don't have a Sous Vide Supreme (yet), then you can simply poach the eggs and serve them with this dish. That's also delicious.

Roasted Asparagus with Sous Vide Egg
Serves 2 people
Cooking time: 45-60 minutes 
Print Recipe

2 eggs (organic farm fresh if possible)
1 bunch of asparagus, tips snapped off
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
parmesan reggiano
salt and pepper

Preheat the Sous Vide Surpreme to 148 degrees. Also, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Once the Sous Vide Supreme reaches temperature, carefully place the eggs in the water bath. Cover and allow to cook for 45-60 minutes. Once they're finished cooking, remove from the water bath.

Meanwhile, place the asparagus in a roasting pan and top with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the asparagus is lightly caramelized and tender, but not overcooked.

Remove that asparagus from the oven and spread on a serving platter. Carefully, take the eggs out of their shells and place on the platter with the asparagus. Top with the lemon juice and shave some parmesan reggiano over the dish. Finish with a little fresh cracked black pepper and good extra virgin olive oil if desired. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
organic eggs, asparagus, and lemons from West Hollywood Farmers Market

parmesan reggiano from Whole Foods

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Etouffee (and Why I Love to Eat Raw Chicken)

Chicken and Andouille Etouffee
If you've ever hung out in my kitchen, then you know that there is one protein that I cook the least. No, it's not beef, although this one is in the minority, too (partially due to the high cost and scarcity of organic beef). It's chicken.

Are you surprised?

Most people are. In fact, when friends ask me for recipe advice, the number one thing they want to learn how to cook is chicken. My immediate response is, "Why would you want to cook chicken?"