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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Starter- Hawaiian Ahi Poke

Happy Summer! Today is the first official day of Summer so I would like to kick it off by wishing everyone warm months of barbecuing, sun tanning, and sweating. In honor of this special day, I wanted to post a recipe that holds the essence of Summer in it's fresh and flaky flesh. This is one of my favorite dishes that has the ability to make me homesick every time I try it. But since I get to visit my home in Hawaii in just a mere 3 days, I've decided this is a great time for sharing.

Growing up in Hawaii, it is pretty much mandatory that you love fish, especially raw. Poke (pronounced poke-ee) is a very popular raw fish salad that is eaten as an appetizer or meal for lunch and dinner. It consists of raw sashimi grade fish cut into cubes and seasoned with ingredients such as soy sauce, onions, garlic, chili pepper, seaweed, tomatoes or sesame seeds. There are many types of poke which has become increasingly popular in fine dining restaurant over the past 10 years. I'm sure you've seen those martini glasses filled with itsy bits of perfectly cubed tuna lightly marinated in a sauce and topped with crispy won tons and sesame seeds. Sure that's good, but let me tell you, it gets WAY better. Poke is not meant to be a fancy gourmet dish. If it doesn't come in a plastic container with a side of shoyu and long toothpick to help you poke da buggahs, it's not legit. Try the Hawaiian versions found in local fish markets and grocery stores and you will know what I mean. Here you can find not only several types of fresh Ahi poke filled with flavor, but octopus and salmon poke too. However, my favorite is still ahi poke either with red Maui onions or sesame seeds.

This recipe is a version of poke that I've tried and made several times. I can promise you it is delicious. It may not be the most authentic or traditional but I love this recipe because it works as whole meal. By adding soba noodles and shredded cabbage to the dish, you don't have to worry about making anything else for dinner. Plus it is better to make ahead of time and chill so you don't have to worry about last minute preparations. It may not be as good as the ones found in Hawaii, but it's definitely legit enough to make at home. So next time you are feeling the Aloha spirit, don a mumu, light a tiki, and play some Iz while you make this ono recipe.


INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/4 pound fresh ahi tuna
  • 4 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4tsp mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 tbs red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup scallions
  • 1/2 maui onion, sliced or any sweet onion
  • 3 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 3 tbs ginger minced
  • soba noodles
  • cabbage, shredded


PREPARATION:

  1. Cube ahi into 1 inch pieces and place in bowl.
  2. Add all ingredients other than soba noodles and cabbage to another bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Pour into Ahi bowl and marinate for 2 - 4 hours. Serve as is or serve over cooked and chilled soba noodles
Recipe Courtesy of Trisha Flynn


Poke Bins- Yum!

Octopus (Tako) Poke
Ahi Poke with Limu

Friday, June 18, 2010

Freaky Fairytale Friday


Since it's Friday, and since I'm in a weirder mood than usual, I have decided to post a warped fairytale. This story has nothing to do with food but it is entertaining and will be sure to waste at least 5 minutes of your Friday. I should probably mention here that I am a fairytale whore. I love nothing more than a very capable lady in distress with no one but an idiotic yet handsome knight to save her. What can I say? I'm a romantic. One day I hope to write a collection of these ridiculous yet peculiarly gratifying stories. This particular story was written by myself and 5 other wonderful people from my creative writing class that took place in our teacher Lisa's living room. We wrote it in 10 minutes during a quick write exercise that required us to continue passing the story along so that everyone had a chance add on.
I would like to dedicate this to our fabulous and brilliant teacher Lisa- Thank you for everything!

Snow White Exposed

Once upon a time there was a lovely queen who was busy aging gracefully. One day her husband, the King, announced he had a daughter by a previous one-night stand. He was tired of running from child support payments so she was coming to live with them. The lovely queen jumped for joy at the thought of having a step-daughter and polished the castle from top to bottom… along with the six maid servants, two valets, a butler, seven gardeners, 3 stable hands, four maids in waiting, the chef, the sous chef and nine jockeys that usually decorated the lawn.

The day of the stepdaughter’s arrival was at hand, so the King had a grand ball to welcome her. She showed up four hours late, drunk as a dishwasher, with a ne’er do boyfriend named Pablo and 46 pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage. She was a chain smoker with eleven tattoos, only six of which were visible despite her mini-skirt and low cut tube top.


The queen wasn’t happy to see how skinny her stepdaughter was. She obviously didn’t eat. So she pulled her aside to find out more about herself.

Snow White- Look, I’m not here to clean and make your life easier.
The Queen- No, I thought we could get to know each other and have some tea
SW- Don’t even think about going in my room
Q- No, that is your space.
SW- You bet your old ass it is. I need time to get this look together. Do you know how
hard it is to get the townsfolk to cobble these platforms?
Q- I’m sorry you are upset. Is there anything that I can do?
SW- Do you know how to pierce a belly button? I bet you don’t. Never mind.


This was how many of the Queen’s attempts to befriend Snow White went. In her determination to be accepted, and because the Queen was never very good with peer pressure, she often agreed to her bizarre and ludicrous pleas. One week it was a belly button ring, the next it was her 12th tattoo. This sent the queen into a fluster, as she was not comfortable “putting ink” on her stepdaughter’s ass. Eventually Snow White’s terrible requests drove the Queen into a state of mental illness. Because of her high stress levels the Queen developed grey hairs, crow’s feet, and nasty warts. Rumors spread that she wandered the castle speaking to a “magic mirror” that reassured her she was still beautiful. The King, wanting a more youthful companion, went back to his one-night stands and locked the Queen in the tower with only her delusions of youth and beauty for company.



THE END

By: Alison Bossert, Steven Bray, Leela Lindner, Susan Martin, Wendy Meyer & Lauren Sarafan

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cozy Kale Pasta


Lately I've been super busy and extra lazy which means I've had less motivation to make good home cooked meals. This has had a very negative affect on my eating habits and has forced me to eat unhealthier than usual. Let's just say Ranch dressing, cheese puffs, and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, have made a strong comeback in my life. But more often than not, I've been spending my meals eating out.

After eating out all week the only thing I want to have on Sunday is a healthy home cooked meal. Since I probably haven't had a vegetable in at least 4 days, there is only one item on my mind... kale. I love kale. I think it tastes delicious and is so great for replenishing the body. It's my go-to healthy upper. So when I'm tired, lethargic, and plump after the weekend, and all I want to do is relax and watch t.v, I make my favorite lazy healthy meal. Cozy Kale Pasta.

Of course it's a pasta since pasta is always the easiest thing to make. And this kale pasta has it all. Even though it's a vegetarian dish, I sometimes add pieces of chicken sausage to make it a complete meal for all the carnivores out there. With the minced garlic, onions and cherry tomatoes, this dish is light and delicious. I usually shred a bit of cheese over the top (can't be too healthy) and use angel hair noodles since they take a whole 3 minutes to cook. If you want to be extra healthy use whole wheat pasta. Make sure to squeeze a whole lemon in the dish and add a little garlic and onion powder to the veggies to really make them stand out. Once you've made this dish, you will want to make it again and again. Whoever said healthy meals can't be quick obviously never tried my Cozy Kale Pasta.


Ingredients:
  • half pound kale (about 1 bunch), large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • One box of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 fresh lemon juiced
  • Finely grated Parmesan cheese


Preparation:
  1. Rinse kale. Drain; transfer to bowl with some water still clinging.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add minced garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add kale and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes 5 minutes before Kale is done cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
  6. Add cooked spaghetti to kale mixture in pot. Add lemon juice and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry. Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.



What's your healthy go-to dish?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Karate Kid Premiere Releases Ninja Hunger


On Monday night I got to help out with my very first event. The Karate Kid premiere! I will admit I was a little nervous. Mostly because of my tough time identifying celebrities. (I once told Gwyneth Paltrow she looked a lot like Gwyneth Paltrow). But don't worry people, I kept my cool. I only asked Jackie Chan for his autograph twice and begged Will Smith to rap like the Fresh Prince only AFTER he had a few cocktails. But let's be honest. What I was really focused on was the food. And there was lots of it. I was like a ninja swooping in on one buffet table to another. Slyly taking pictures between stuffing dumplings in my face. Like a warrior baboon. With panther-like stealth. It was only Jackie Chan who was able to stop me from taking the last wonton.


Wolfgang Puck catered the event and I must say they did a very kick-ass job. Not only did everything look amazing, but the wide variety of options and themed delicacy's were killer. From the chicken pot stickers, chopped chicken salad, to soft shell crab mini burgers, the food was exciting, exotic and arguably erotic. Unfortunately the night was so cold, they didn't put the food out until just before the guests arrived. This meant I wasn't able to snap any sweet shots of the buffet. What I did get a good look at was the dessert table. And if I know anything about people, they tend to be dessert junkies. So For all you sweet tooths out there. Enjoy~




The set up earlier on while all the guests were sill in the screening. Beautiful already but nothing compared to what it looked like at night.

This was Jackie Chan's section, where I made it abundently clear that no one stole wontons from Leela and got away with it.

There were beautiful orchids everywhere. I'm a sucker for orchids, especially colorful ones



The VIP section as night falls. The lighting made everything look magical.

The main buffet before the food was set out :( How pretty is the set up?)

The Dessert Buffet

Chop Stick Caught Chocolate Covered "Brandied Cherry Flies"

Mango Pudding With Almond Ginger Biscotti

Asian Fruit Soup Shooters with flavors such as coconut, mango, berry and kiwi.

Warm Banana Custard Filled Donuts with Coconut Flakes.

Chinese Black Rice Pudding with Vanilla Bean and Pineapple

Red Velvet Cake Dipped in Liquid Nitrogen (which freezes the cake and makes it cold and crunchy)

A Leela stuffed with caramel cream then dipped in dark chocolate.
Ha-Ya!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Whole Lotta Class- Some Noteworthy Experiences From Napa



Oh Napa.
Your rolling hills,
Barrels of wine,
Wicked ass food,
And sunshine,
I love you.



I was fortunate enough to spend this Memorial day weekend in one of my favorite places, Napa. I had forgotten how much I love Northern California, especially when it is sunny and 90 degrees out. No seriously, I love hot weather. I had been to Napa many times before for the typical wine tasting trips with lots of eating and boozing. But this time was different. I went with my family, and they don't drink. So what the hell do you do in Napa without wine? Let me tell you, it may have been my favorite visit so far. This may be the Grandma in me speaking, but between bird watching, water aerobics, sightseeing, bargain shopping, croquet, and a "Rock n Roll" workout class that featured the music of John Mayer, I was in heaven.


Obviously what I was most excited for was the food. Particularly Saturday nights reservation at Ubuntu, a restaurant I had been dying to try for the past year. I had heard about this revolutionary vegetarian restaurant from a friend who always knows the best spots for dining and is usually very reliable. He told me their unusual menu would please even the most carnivorous person and the Chef who was an absolute genius, had won a Michelin star for his creations. Obviously I was excited. I called 3 weeks in advance to book a table and spread my excitement with my sister and dad every time I spoke to them.

Saturday night approached and I was in excited. As we hopped in the car with our stomachs growling, we speculated about the many tasty vegetarian treats we would feast on. Would they have a vegetarian lasagna covered in thick layers of melted cheese with a pesto spread? Or perhaps a macaroni and cheese with truffle oil? Would a fabulous and exotic soup with mind blowing flavors be on the menu? Pizza? Chili? Amazing salads? The most flavorful tofu you had ever tasted? Our minds soared as our hunger intensified. I should mention that at some point during the car ride, I texted my friend to let him know about our future eating plans. His response was short. "New Chef, can't promise anything" "Oh whatever," I thought, "it can't change that much."


Flash forward to Ubuntu. I'm not sure if you can read the menu below but let me help you. MENU ITEM EXAMPLE: Arbuckle grits, slowly cooked with goats why, salsa MARO spezzato fresh ricotta, blackened and braised FAVAS, lavender mint.

There are 4 items in this dish that I can not verify. This is not always a negative thing, but in this case it was. See below to follow the course of our dinner.




Unfortunately the best part of the meal came first and was free. Their amuse bouche of deep fried fava beans. Obviously the best part was the fried goodness.


The Beet salad with a goat cheese horchata. Or as what my dad referred to as "Goat spit."





The second salad with burratta and greens. The cheese was the only part worth mentioning and the only thing I can say about that is that I wish there would have been much more.


"The Dragon!" As they called it. Or as I would appropriately rename it. "The Disappointment!" Smoked yams with turnips and a poached egg just seems wrong.


Yes it looked beautiful. But how can you be excited for a third course salad?

Feasting on turnips and whey

Finally! Something hot with some substance! This was honestly the only decent dish. At the time it seemed amazing, but I have no doubt it was only because by the time it finally came we were ready to eat our feet and were beginning to become nauseous from healthy overload.



Grits with strawberry jam. Need I say more?


I don't usually like potatoes. But potatoes atop of overworked scrambled eggs? It wasn't long before I had my head deep inside the toilet. After dinner there was only one thing on our mind- FAT. We needed some ASAP. We salvaged our stomachs on the ride home with malt balls, a milkshake and gummy bears from Dean & Deluca.

Though Ubuntu was disappointing, there certainly were other points of the trip that made up for it. My favorite would have to be the day we played croquet, (we're a classy family like that.) As we were about to take over the court in our bathing suits and tie dye, we were rudely informed that the dress code was all white. Of course we did not have all white clothing, what kind of family travels with all white jumpsuits? So we were faced with no other choice than to visit the local thrift store to purchase the necessary items. My dad found a white local hardware shirt for $4.90 and my sister got a great deal on a juicy couture tennis outfit for $0. I searched in vain for a ridiculously pompous outfit (something befitting a European Elitist) but had to settle for a pair of used banana republic shorts for $12 bucks. Adorned with our new purchases, we returned to the court resembling a white trash family more than ever. As I proudly swung my mallet and hit my ball into an elder ladies shin, I couldn't help but think how oddly at home I finally felt.



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