Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Squid with Ginger and Scallions

I just whipped up an awesome rice bowl for lunch so I thought I would throw it up here for you folks. It was inspired by a dish I used to get all the time in Boston's Chinatown eatery, a less-then fancy food court with cheap but amazing food that I believe has now closed. Anywho... the main idea with this dish is that the scallions and ginger are not just flavorings, they are almost like the veggies in the meal. That is, instead of chopping everything up into tiny little pieces, there are generous, large slices of both the ginger and scallion. Of course, if you're not super akin to either of these things I suppose you could chop things up small, or just don't make it at all. : )

Squid with Ginger and Scallions
Serves 1

  • 1 cup cleaned squid pieces (rings and tentacles, frozen is fine)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 t white miso paste
  • 1 t corn starch
  • 1/2 t tamari (thick soy sauce, or use 1 t of regular)
  • 1 t mirin
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger
  • 1 serving of cooked rice
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Heat up a pan on medium heat with a little bit of veggie oil or spray.
  2. If using frozen squid, throw it in now and let it cook for about 5 minutes. If using fresh squid, hold off.
  3. Mix the water, miso paste, corn starch, tamari and mirin in a small bowl until smooth.
  4. Slice the ginger and scallions.
  5. Throw the ginger and scallions in the pan and now the fresh squid if that's what you used.
  6. Cook everything almost through on medium to high heat.
  7. Give the sauce a final stir and then throw it in, stir fry until the sauce comes to a boil, then turn it down to low for a minute.
  8. You're ready to eat! Serve it over hot Japanese rice sprinkled with the sesame seeds.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fried mahi mahi, cold soba noodles, and Japanese mushrooms

This Japanse-inspired meal was so tasty, I forgot I was giving up meat on a Friday during lent. I've made separate posts for the individual recipes:

Make one.. or all of them. : )

Cold Soba Noodles = easy and delicious

When I was in Japan I ate a ton of these. I only recently realized how easy they are to make. The important thing is to get the soup base and other accoutrements.. the noodles on their own are kind of boring. The items you could leave out are the dried seaweed (that WOULD be on top of the noodles if I had it in the house) and wasabi (the green spicy paste you get with sushi). So, let's get to it!

Cold Soba Noodles
  • 4 oz dried soba noodles. These are thin, brown noodles made from buckwheat.

  • About 1/3 cup per person of bottled soba noodle soup base(or you can make this on your own but I swear you don't need to.)

  • 2 scallions

  • optional: wasabi

  • optional: Nori (dried seaweed) for garnish
  1. There are some special ways of cooking soba. Some recipes say you should keep putting cold water into the boiling water as it cooks. I haven't found this to add any particular benefit. I think the most important thing is to keep your eye on the noodles and don't cook them too long (5 minutes is plenty). They should be al dente. So, boil some water, cook the noodles, then run them under cold water in a colander.

  2. Pour the 1/3 cup of the soup broth in a little bowl for each person.

  3. Cut up about 1/2 scallion and squeeze a little bit of wasabi out for each person.

  4. Serve the cold noodles sprinkled with seaweed, if you have it.

  5. How to eat: mix scallions and wasabi to taste in your bowl of broth. Grab each bit of noodles with your chop sticks, dip and swirl in the broth, then eat.

Simply Steamed Japanese Mushrooms

Ok, I think I found my second and third favorite mushrooms. (Don't ask my what my #1 is.) These Japanese mushrooms are tiny, tender, and super cute. I made them as a side dish to the fish and noodles on Friday. You may need to pick these up at the Japanese market. That's where I got 'em.

The first kind are beech mushrooms (above). These, as well as the enoki mushrooms (below) can be cooked in a lot of different ways. They can be simmered in a sauce with other veggies and some meat or even pasta. They're small but all mushrooms hold up very well. I've had enoki tempura that was amazing. In this case, I just chose to lightly steam them to go with the delicate flavor of the fish.
All you need to do is cut the stumps from both kinds of mushrooms. Although there are lots of little ones in each package they are really all growing from the same root. So, cut this off because it doesn't soften up enough to eat it even when it's cooked.

Once they're all steamed, let them dry a bit on some paper towels. Then serve them up!

Mahi Mahi fried in Panko breadcrumbs

I made such a delicious meal on Friday that what I'm going to do is create three separate postings for the three simple dishes I made. First off! I was craving my mom's fried fish so I decided to make some with a Japanese spin. The Japanese part of the dish are the breadcrumbs. These are big flaky crumbs the Japanese use to coat lots of different cutlets, croquettes and other tasty fried goodies. The good thing about this dish is that you can get everything you need at Trader Joe's, no need to hit up the Japanese market, and you don't need to go shopping that day because the fish is frozen. I got both the frozen mahi mahi and the breadcrumbs at TJ's.

Mahi Mahi fried in Panko Breadcrumbs
3-4 servings

  • 1 1lb mahi mahi filets
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil like canola (not olive)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Put the panko breadcrumbs on a dinner plate. Grate the zest from the lemon into the pile and then add generous amounts of salt and pepper. Mix it all up.
  2. On another plate, place the beaten egg.
  3. Heat up the oil over medium heat in a frying pan.
  4. Dip the fish into the egg, then coat with the breadcrumbs. Don't be shy, it's OK to press some in if it's not sticking.
  5. Fry up the fish about 5 minutes or so on each side, depending on how think the fillets are.
  6. When the fillets are cooked, scoop them out onto a brown paper bag to sop up a little oil, if you wish.
  7. You're done! Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Johnny Cupcakes is Coming to LA!

You might think Johnny Cupcakes sells cupcakes.. they don't. But they do sell wicked cool t-shirts. Johnny's a college drop-out from Boston who decided to make a few funny t-shirts as a joke. That was in 2001 and today the t-shirts are a cult following. First opened on Newbury St. (as close as you can get to a Rodeo drive in Boston) they are now opening a store in May on Melrose near Kid Robot and some of the other fun clothing stores. I'm pretty excited about it.

There are some really good things about Johnny's company: they make everything in the U.S. in small batches and they don't sell to big chain stores. Everything is quality and limited edition. If I had known this before I would have bought the t-shirt I had my eye on .. a cupcake moving through a large intestine, sweet!! For now, we'll have to choose from what they have available.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My new MP3 player

I know this doesn't have to do with food but I just bought a new mp3 player and it is so sweet I had to tell you about it. It's called the Sansa Clip and it's perfect for working out in between eating cupcakes and Chinese food. It's so light and tiny that you can clip it to your t-shirt when running and not feel a thing. You can load music and audiobooks and it even has an FM tuner with 40 programmable pre-sets. Plus it has a voice recorder should you need it. The only downside of this player is it only holds 2 mg, but that's about 500 songs and enough for me.

The best thing about it for me is that it works with Rhapsody to Go. This is a music services that lets you put any music you want onto specific devices (like this one) for a monthly subscription price of $15. If you usually buy one CD a month, then it's totally worth it. You can listen to new music to see if you like it before buying or find old tunes you had forgotten about. They even have Rhapsody channels, a mix of songs you can download based on genres or artists you like.. it's a great way to find new music. If you want to listen to unlimited tunes on your computer, that's just $10 a month. There are even ways to stream it to your stereo with special wireless adapters and other devices. Check it out!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pho 99: 99 bowls of pho in my tummy

Pho 99 Noodle & Grill on UrbanspoonI posted a while back about Phoreign being fabulous, and it still is. But I must tell you about Pho 99, a place I've been frequenting a lot lately, not sure why, just cravings I guess. They have more of the traditional pho flavors you'd expect such as a variety of different rare beef combinations. You can get a link to their full menu here.

Interestingly, they have both Northern (made with a beef stock) and Southern (made with a chicken and pork stock) styles. My favorite is the Hu Tieu Hodc Mi Thap Cam special combination with rice noodle soup served with shrimp, BBQ pork, golden fried chicken and meat cake. I don't mind my creatures all mixed up together in one bowl, so I like it.

They have other dishes on the menu, such as the Bun - Vermicelli which is just the same rice noodles found in the Pho only served cold with salad vegetables.. not very satisfying. Stick with the Pho!

Pho 99
11819 Wilshire Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New colour palette

I'm not sure if anyone notices, but I often change the colors on my blog. Since I've recently become addicted to, I thought, why not use a nice palette from the thousands available there? So, I chose the palette called "Easily Fooled" by the user "museful". Let me know if you like it.

You can check out my latest colors, palettes and patterns right here.

All my little sushi images and such are also missing right now. You see, there was a little incident with my web hosting company and now I am in the process of setting up a new place to keep all my images and stuff. In the mean time, I'll see if I can find some little images that someone wont mind me linking to. (For all you folks who dont understand what I just said, it's not that important.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cupcake Review: Leda's Bake Shop

With no more great cupcakes left in Santa Monica after Le Cupcake shut down. (Oh, and I investigated the scene myself. The whole mall is shut down for renovation, so it probably wasn't that folks were not enjoying their treats as much as I was.) Anyway, I headed up to Sherman Oaks, CA to Leda's Bakeshop. I had the pleasure of driving past the Sherman Oak's Galleria, which is kind of in the sweet movie Kickin' it Old Skool which you should definately check out if you have not already. Anyway... I really loved Leda's. The staff are so friendly and nice. There are just TONS of samples everywhere.. brownies, cookies, scones... once you pop, you can't stop.

They specialize in mini-cupcakes and they have a wide variety, inluding vegan. I tried the dulce de leche. It had a tasty dollup of real.. leche.. under the buttery frosting and atop the vanilla cake. I also tried the pumpkin, this time with fresh orange, under the frosting. The only thing I would not recommend is eating the cupcakes in the car on the drive home; only because Leda's keep their cuppies in the fridge until you take them home and the cold icing tastes too much like biting into a stick of butter. But, once things warm up a little, you're good to go.

Leda's also has class. Not only do you walk in there and see beautiful displays of mouth-watering treats, but Ledette (the owner) prompty emailed me back when I asked how they go about getting their perfect little fondant decorations. I made some and the fondant is SO much easier than the very difficult gumpaste I have wrestled with in the past. I plan on making some little hearts for V-day.

Did I mention they make the CUTEST cupcakes in town with the prettiest fondant decorations? They also make larger wedding and other cakes which are just as pretty.

Leda's Bake Shop
13722 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And now for something completely different

I guess I could kind of relate this post to the idea that I want to give this blog a new look. It's gonna be funky retro sweet. In the mean time, I need to figure out how to design the graphics I want.

I've been checking out this website for a while: It's basically a community for people who love colors, and now they have patterns as well. You can check out color palettes other people have made or make your own.

I made a pattern called shogun, (shown here) and it's based on the early Autumn foliage I saw in Japan. I guess there are so many colors in the spectrum that 3 of the ones I used have not been used on the site before... so they let me name them! That was fun. Anyway, check out my page on there.

I encourage you to make your own. It's fun and easy and no design skills are required.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Long-Awaited Japanese Restaurant Pick: Miyako Ocean Park

Miyako on UrbanspoonYes, kids, that's right. I haven't posted about Japanese restaurants on here, have I? Why? mainly laziness. But also because I actually don't go to very many.. but I do go to the same one practically every week: Miyako on Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica (full address below).

Where do I begin? They have a good variety of not just sushi, but other Japanese fare as well. My boyfriend James always gets the same thing: A Beef Bento box and a Rainbow roll. I can't blame him. The bento boxes are HUGE, tasty, and come with:

- Beef or chicken in a tasty sauce
- Rice
- Salad
- Cooked been sprouts in a delicious tasty sesame dressing
- Edamame
- Sushi or Tempura (the veggie tempura is killer here!)

This isn't a fancy place.. but the quality is good except the beef or chicken in the Bento can sometimes be a little fatty for my taste. But overall, the good quality and good price makes for a winner. What do I get, you might ask? Sometimes I get the bento, but I often get a California salad. It's basically everything in a California roll in generous portions served on a bed of lettuce. Light but satisfying. I also get many of the different sushi rolls including eel, and some of their specials like the Sexy Roll. The Sexy Roll has no rice.. it's fish wrapped in cucumber with a delicious dressing (all of thir dressings are great here). Oh, and vegetable tempura is AWWWSOME.

There you have it.. delicious food that is almost downright cheap. Most of the items I've had are so good that I haven't made it on to others that look just as tasty. The staff are so friendly and remind me of being right back in Japan. So, you simply must go.


2829 Ocean Park Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 396-5588