Monday, November 8, 2010

I am Thankful for Roasted Fennel Chicken

The dreaded moment has come. The last few hours of Thanksgiving weekend are upon us. We have feasted, rampaged the mall, eaten leftovers, shopped some more, feasted again and waved goodbye to our friends and family. Now there are two things left on every one's mind. A terrible case of the Mondays, and plausible ways of burning off your gut before Christmas.

Unfortunately I do not have a solution for either. Instead in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to share a recipe that I am extremely thankful for. Alice Water's Roasted Fennel Chicken. This is my favorite go-to Winter recipe. It is from the Chez Panisse Cookbook, is great for weeknight meals, and the flavor is out of this world. Every time I make it (about once a week) it comes out perfect! And its one of the easiest recipes I know! I love that I can come home from work, take 10 minutes to prep it and then go on a walk while it roasts in the oven for an hour. And every time I come back, Voila! Perfection! Alice Waters, this is a true gem.

  • A whole chicken or a few pieces (breast, thigh, drumstick, whatever you like) with skin on (preferably organic and freerange)
  • fennel seeds
  • kosher salt
  • chili powder
  • fresh thyme
  • head of garlic
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. If using a whole chicken remove the giblets from the cavity. Place the chicken or chicken pieces on a bed of thyme in a roasting pan and cover with olive oil.
  3. Season the bird's skin with salt and pepper. Be very generous with the salt, it will make a big difference. Then sprinkle a tablespoon of chili powder over the skin and then add 3 tablespoons of the fennel seeds. You should have enough chili powder and fennel seeds to coat the bird. Use chili flakes if you want to kick up the spice.
  4. Roast in the oven for about an hour uncovered on the middle rack. You will know it's done with the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil. Let is rest for 15 minutes so the juices go back into the bird then serve.
TIP: If you love garlic as much as me try roasting a head of garlic separately and then adding it to the chicken dish when it is done.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Simple Shrimp Tacos

These days I'm finding that I have less and less time to spend in the kitchen. More often than not I'm eating dinners in restaurants or making some pathetically quick meals at home (Trader Joe's frozen chicken dumplings -WHATS UP?!).

When I can't stand it anymore and all I want to do is cook and eat a fresh meal I do what any girl in my position would do- make shrimp tacos! These are my go to quick fix! Since the only thing you have to cook is the shrimp, this dish is easy, full of fresh ingredients and simply delicious. I usually just pull out whatever veggies are in my fridge and chop them up for toppings. Last week I topped the tacos with onions, arugula, avocado, salsa and heirloom tomatoes- YUM! When I'm feeling ambitious, I like to saute thin slices of onion and bell pepper with olive oil, salt and spicy seasoning to add some extra flavor!

The best part about tacos is that you can be as creative with them as you want. Just use this recipe for the shrimp and top them with whatever you like! Cheese, sour cream, guacamole, jalapenos, cabbage, beans, popcorn- hey I'm just saying, there is no limit!

Just a quick FYI- This is an awesome recipe for shrimp. No matter what dish you are making follow these directions for the shrimp and they will always be perfectly cooked.

Perfect Pan Seared Shrimp

. 2 tbs vegetable oil
. 1 1/2 lb (21-25) shrimp, peeled and deveined
. 1/4 tsp salt
.1/4 tsp pepper
. 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
. 1/8 tsp sugar
. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
.1/4 tsp onion powder
. 2 tsp lemon juice

1. Toss shrimp, salt, pepper, flakes, garlic, onion powder, and sugar in a bowl. Heat 1 tbs oil in a skillet over high heat till smoking.
2. Add 1/2 of shrimp to pan single layered and cook until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 1 minute.
3. Remove pan from heat, using tongs flip each shrimp and let stand 30 seconds (all but center is opaque), put on plate.
4. Repeat with remaining shrimp then return 1st batch to skillet, add some lemon juice or whatever sauce you prefer, toss and cover skillet for 1-2 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Favorite Ways to Start the Day

Urth Cafe's The Rustic: Two soft poached organic eggs over toasted
whole wheat bread topped with capers, basil oil,
tomato & red onion.

Carmel Bell's open-faced avocado with local olive oil & sea salt on country toast

Organic Omega-3 Berry Boost Oatmeal (v) served with organic soy milk, flax seed oil and flax seeds from Le Pain Quotidien

A sunrise papaya filled with plain yogurt, fresh squeezed lemon, and topped with Anahola Granola

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Summer Salad Finale With A Side Of Bacon

Last Sunday I got the chance to visit the Farmers Market for the first time in a month. That's what happens when I am forced to choose between oogling at veggies or shaking my booty at African Brazilian Dance class. Dancing is almost more addicting than food... almost. So why was this Sunday any different? Let's just say SOMEONE got an email from a farmer about a freshly slaughtered and extremely succulent pig whose parts would be sold at market. And perhaps BACON was one of those parts. Well booty shaking may trump squash, but Bacon blows butt thumping out the window. Especially bacon from an organically pampered and beautifully spoiled pig. If you aren't following I believe a reading of An ode to bacon is in order. This little piggy went to market and NEVER came home. MWAHAHAHA

Once I was there, I obviously wasn't leaving without picking up a few things. By the end my arms were filled with arugula, sprouts, heirloom tomatoes, onions, white peaches, yellow peaches, nectarines, plumbs, avocado, bagels, and of course, the fattiest whitest bacon I had ever layed eyes on.

I'm sure anyone living in the greater Los Angeles area remembers that day as the day we learned what it felt like to live inside a lizards mouth. And what did I decide to do that day? Yard work! Crazy? Perhaps, but would I have been inspired to create this deliciously refreshing salad? Perhaps not. Plus I had to make use of all the fresh veggies purchased only a few hours ago which were so tasty you hardly needed dressing. If this concoction can't cool you down, then nothing but an iced bath with Cruella Deville can. And with that I bid you a very fond farewell to grilling and hello to chilling.

A Cooling Farmer's Market Salad
1 avocado
1 heirloom tomato
1 cucumber
Sunflower sprouts
1/2 red onion finely chopped

1 lemon
1 tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic minced

Whip up a vinaigrette by whisking a few teaspoons of vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic and 1 tsp salt together. Continue whisking while you pour a slow stream of olive oil in (about 1/2 cup). Taste and adjust seasoning.

TIP: This is my favorite way to cut an avocado. When you spoon it out they are already nicely cubed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Breakfast By The Sea

I know this is a little dated as it was from my visit to Big Sur and Carmel during Labor Day weekend, but this restaurant was too good a find to not mention. It's not often I find a true gem like this with fresh, organic, seasonal, and local ingredients. We ate breakfast here 3 days in a row. Can you see why?

Carmel Belle
Doud Craft Studios
Corner of Ocean and San Carlos
Carmel By The Sea
Spoondilicious Rating- 10 out of 10

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Eatin' at Street

Last week I had a bloggie date with my fellow foodie Mealmuse. The destination? Susan Feniger's newest ethnic venture- Street. A restaurant inspired by street food from around the world? LOVE IT! Since it's opening, I have been overly excited to take a trip to this eatery on Highland and experience some flavorful explosions.

The vibe was awesome. Unlike most restaurants in Los Angeles, it feels hip and funky with loud orange painted walls and a large outside dining area that glows red from the reflection of the awning. Fun hand painted art covers the walls and the bathroom is equipped with soap made from recycled and cleaned kitchen grease.

The food, I must admit, was good but a tad disappointing. That's usually what happens when I come in with the highest expectations. When I think of ethnic street food I think spice, explosions of flavor, perhaps exotic and a bit erotic. I want to take a bite and say "wow, that is incredible, I've never had anything like it!" Out of the six dishes we ordered, only one nailed it. Not surprisingly, it was the weirdest item on the menu. Toasted bread smothered in coconut jam with a side of soy sauce and a sunny side up egg for dipping. Crazy! I know, but also CRAZY good! The saltiness of soy sauce mixed with the sweetness of the coconut and richness of egg yolk made this dish ridiculously tasty. I had never tasted anything like it before.

I will say that the dishes were innovative. Ukrainian dumplings filled with cheesy spinach and smothered with lemon marmalade, were good but left something to be desired. Lamb meatballs drizzled with molasses had a nice kick to them and the Mexican ricotta noquis (steamed cheese dumplings in a tomatillo salsa) were nice but the wow factor wasn't there. The other dish that caught my attention was the black kale and white bean puree served with toasted bread and anchovy butter. To eat this I made a little tartine and spread the anchovy butter on the toast followed by the bean puree and then kale. I loved the first piece but went too heavy on the anchovy butter with the second and it was a little overwhelming.

I have a lot of respect for a restaurant as innovative as Street, especially since it strives to push the boundaries of Los Angeles cuisine. Street has some really interesting and unique dishes to offer and is a refreshing treat from the endless California inspired eateries that dominate LA. If you are looking for something new and fun I would take a trip to Street where you can travel the world and still be home in time for bed.

These savory snacks tasted exactly as if a rice krispy treat and a bowl of yellow curry had a baby. I would never order these but they come as a complimentary snack so you might as well try a few.

That is not a grilled cheese. Kaya Toast- Coconut jam toast dipped in soy sauce and egg. Absolutely amazing.

Ricotta dumplings, Ukranian dumplings, Lamb meatballs, Black Kale with white bean puree and anchovey butter

Ricotta steamed dumplings in tomatillo salsa

Susan Feniger's Street
742 North Highland Ave
Los Angeles CA 90038
Spoondlicious Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, August 16, 2010

The ACD Salad- Avocado, Cucumber and Dill

As I mentioned in my recent post, Summer makes me hot for salads! Which is why I'm giving you another cool and crunchy recipe! I first laid taste buds on this amazingness at the St Regis buffet in Kauai last month. It was by far the yummiest dish of the spread and opened my eyes to what dill can really do. The cucumbers make this dish very refreshing and the avocado adds a creaminess that goes nicely with the dill. If you're not a huge fan of dill then this dish isn't for you. But if you ARE into dill, then I can promise you pure enjoyment with this healthy, simple and cooling combination.

I want to mention that the salad tastes best with a homemade vinaigrette but if your rushed on time or feeling lazy, just squirt a lemon on top and drizzle with olive oil s&p. It's still insanely good.

Cherry Tomatoes
Red Onion
Fresh Dill
Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Dice the onions finely and place them in vinegar to soak. This softens there intense and harsh flavor. Dice the cucumber, avocado, and halve, or quarter the cherry tomatoes. You want the vegetables to be roughly the same size. Mince the fresh dill. Throw everything into a bowl and squeeze half a lemon on top to keep the avocado from browning. Whip up a vinaigrette by whisking a few teaspoons of vinegar and 1 tsp of mustard together. Continue whisking while you pour a slow stream of olive oil in (about 1/2 cup). Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and be dillighted! (ha ha sorry, I'm a sucker for cheesy jokes ;)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Favorite Bites - Whole Foods Sandwich

When I want a quick and delicious lunch I grab a sandwich from Whole Foods. They use good quality ingredients and prepare you sandwich however you desire. I find that they put a lot of care and love into their work so your sandwich always comes out just how you like it. Beware though, not all Whole Foods make quality sandwiches. I find the Hollywood location on Fairfax and across from the grove to be the place where the real sandwich artists reside.

There are so many delicious sandwiches out there but this is my usual go-to (at Whole Foods). A vegetarian sandwich on whole wheat bread with vegenaise, mustard, olive tapenade, mixed greens, onions, pickles, cucumber, avocado, oil & vinegar and S&P.

What's your go-to sandwich? Which Whole Foods do you like best?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Strawberry, Arugula & Fennel Salad

During the Summer there is nothing that I crave more than salads. Except for my strange and sudden addiction to pink berry. I've waited in line for their happy 3 days in a row! I'm honestly ashamed. One free parfait sampler led to an out of control addiction. I'm hoping that by coming clean on Spoondles, the secret won't weigh me down as much. This also may be a good time to mention my addiction to the Bachelor? I know it's trash. But the cat fights are quality. OK I feel better all ready. We all have guilty pleasures right?

Moving on to a not so guilty pleasure. Salads. I've always loved salads. I was what you may call a professional salad maker at age 14. When I was in high school it was my duty to make the salad every night. Wash the lettuce, spin it dry, top with hand grated carrots and beets and a dash of sunflower sprouts. Voila! I was the best in the household. This salad profession inevitably led me to become a salad connoisseur. Now I try salads all over the United States of America and beyond. Recently I tried a green leaf concoction that left quit an impression on me for 3 reasons. It's simplicity, uniqueness and surprising harmony.

This salad (recipe below) surprised me for the sole fact that I have not been a fan of fennel (until now). Thinly sliced fennel mixed with the sweetness of strawberry and bitterness of arugula topped with a light citrus dressing was a refreshing summer treat. You can add goat cheese to give it an extra creaminess but it is in no way necessary. Trust me when I say that this is a salad worthy of any other professional household salad maker out there ;)

Strawberry, Arugula and Fennel Salad
Red wine Vinegar
Olive oil
S & P
Crumbled goat cheese- optional

Thinly slice the fennel and chop the strawberries. Mix them in a big bowl with the arugula and lemon juice. Pour 1-2 tbs olive oil and 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe courtesy of Kali Lindner

Monday, August 2, 2010

Taste My Photos

This past Saturday I decided to sign up for a Phototasting class to unleash my inner photographer. It was held at Cube Marketplace which is a wine and cheese bar, restaurant and uh... marketplace. It was the smartest decision I made all week. (Other than sideswiping a trash can on Monday which cleanly sliced off my passenger side mirror.) The class was taught by food bloggers from Rants and Craves and The Kitchy Kitchen.

This was the deal. We listened to and watched an hour tutorial slide show while sipping wine. We waited for tasty morsels to be brought out so we could eat... ugh um... I mean photograph them. We took pictures of the delicious food, and then... ate the display . A perfect piglet class. It's nice when you can eat the art. Besides learning a few new tricks on my camera, I also met some really cool bloggers. Am I proud of myself? Hell yes! Are my newfound sweet photographic skills too classy for Spoondles? This has yet to be determined.

Cube Cafe

Heirloom tomato and fresh peach salad with buffalo mozzarella

Black truffle pizza topped with eggs

Bacon wrapped pork with a side of creamy polenta

Peach shortbread topped with whipped cream

The next day I decided to go out for another fatty lunch at il Pistaio and take some pictures on my own...

Baby artichoke and arugula salad

Seafood pasta

Eggplant with smoked mozzarella on pappardelle

Man, does Spoondles look classy or what?!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Tropical Taste of my Travels- A Hawaiian Farmer's Market

Hello fellow Spooners and Happy Monday! A lot has happened in the past few weeks since I've written. Allow me to update you.
  1. I traveled home to Kauai along with 30 family members to celebrate my Granddad's 90th Birthday. Can you believe that? He worked out every single morning. Simply astonishing...
  2. While I was there I had my first taste of Spam Musubi (A little like spam sushi). Although this is a popular snack in Hawaii, and I should have eaten it hundreds of times during my childhood, I was never one to accept Spam, even it if was fried and wrapped in seaweed and rice. Surprisingly it was not bad. If you don't mind the taste of cat food ;)
  3. I witnessed a toe molestation! As my cousins and I were happily enjoying a lunch at Tropical Taco with our feet dangling from the patio, an 80 year old man with his wife walking by extended his index finger to stroke my cousins middle toe that was painted a bright blue. He gave the toe 2 quick strokes as he casually passed. Not a word was said and no eye contact was made, but the deed had been done. "That's what you get for being a toe slut" I explained to my cousin.
  4. I learned a new joke: Knock knock. Whose there? Smell Mop. Smell mop who? Haha Get it?
  5. I discovered my love for almond butter. Just try it and you will know what I mean.
  6. I over-ate everyday. How can you not when your surrounded by ripe mangoes, sweet coconuts, fresh fish and creamy smoothies and purple sweet potatoes. Oooh and lots of POKE!!!
  7. I was introduced to Uncrustables- pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! This is obviously the creation of Smuckers and pharmaceutical companies in a conspiracy theory to increase obesity and unhealthiness in children. I plan on getting to the bottom of this immediately!
  8. I got a job! Starting in August I'll be working full time for a Special Events Company. Yay for me!
  9. I remembered just how much I love my family.
That being said, I wanted to devote this blog post to the Hanalei Farmers Market which I visited twice during my stay. I thought it would be fun for you to see how a tropical farmers market differs from a "mainland" one. Both times I went it rained on and off which made for a beautiful foggy effect in the mountains with lots of waterfalls. The feeling of this Market was so different compared to the ones I go to in LA.

The market was held in an empty grass lot behind a soccer field right next to family owned taro fields. Instead of walking on concrete you meandered through dirt roads and onto grassy patches where you could sit and enjoy a bag of lychees while looking up at the beautiful view of mountains and waterfalls. Live Hawaiian music played in the background and people strolled aimlessly eyeing the produce and sipping on a smoothie or fresh coconut. The farms had hippy names like "One Song" and I noticed many people snacking on freshly purchased arugula or watercress as they shopped. Although there were many locals that had come for their weeks supply of produce, I noticed an equal amount of tourists that had made the drive just to browse, buy a fresh mango, or buy something from one of the shell jewelry stands.

Everyone was so friendly and so calm. No one was in a hurry and no one was dressed up. Bathing suits, slippers, shorts and a t-shirt were the standard attire. There was no sound of traffic or car horns and the air smelled fresh and sweet after the rain. My sister and I went with my Grandparents to show them around. Everyone was so nice and helpful which made the experience enjoyable, especially my Grandmother who likes to ask lots of questions. :)

If you are ever in Hawaii I would highly recommend checking out a farmers market. It is honestly a wonderfully relaxing and positive experience.

There was live Hawaiian music under the green roof to the left

Hawaiian Farmers Market Shopping Attire

Fresh tangy pineapples- YUM!

Strolling the market with my Gramcrackers. Isn't she cute?

Sunrise Shells and niihau shell necklaces. The big sunrise shells are extremely difficult to find and must be searched for during the early morning. Hence the name SUNRISE shell. I have still never found one :(

I watched this woman knock out 15 coconuts in 5 minutes. That takes some serious skill and muscle.

I'm not sure what the orange part of the fruit is but the tops are raw cashew nuts!

Home baked goods

Hawaiian Ginger and Birds of Paradise are the local flowers sold at the market

Lei making while selling your produce is quite typical

Just enjoying a freshly opened coconut's tender meat with breathtaking views of the mountains behind. No big deal...

My sister and I with our Grandparents.

Our family attempt at a goodbye Hula


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