Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nectarine Prosciutto Salad

Summer is definitely here and this post is dedicated to my friend Chelle.  Summer is her all time favorite season and growing up she would look at us and say,” What time is it?!!!!!”  And we would have to say (with huge enthusiasm), “SUMMERTIME BABY!!!”  Seriously, we did it and we loved her for making us do it. 

Now that summer is here, fresh fruit is abundant.  I had mentioned last post that I was heading to a BBQ at my friends house and I made some delish corn cakes.  Oh, did I also mention that I am from Hawaii and growing up there, we have a need to have way too much food at any gathering?  For us, the worse thing at any gathering would be if we “ran out of food”.  So of course I couldn’t just show up with just the corn cakes, for my second item I wanted to make a sweet and savory salad that would be refreshing but also quench that savory craving at the same time.  You know how it goes… salty/sweet cravings all day long. 


I love how easy this salad is and how it all came together so nicely.  You may look at this salad and think it might seem a little “girly” but my friends husband also liked it!  I think he said something like,” Hey this pasta salad thing is pretty good!!  Oh wait there is no pasta in it…”  LOL!!  Boys… gotta love them.     

Nectarine Prosciutto Salad

4 Nectarines, bite size pieces
1 4 oz. pkg prosciutto
1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. fresh mozzarella balls (or pieces)
3 Tbsp. Pesto sauce
Sea Salt
Olive Oil
Basil, cut into ribbons

1.  In a large bowl combine nectarine, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls.  Tear prosciutto into large pieces and mix into bowl.

2.  Season the salad with sea salt, pepper and drizzle the mixture with some olive oil.  Dollop the pesto sauce over the mixture and mix well.  Garnish with the basil ribbons and serve!


Please make this salad, you won’t be sorry!  It is best served the day that you make it, however I did eat some the day after over a bed of spinach.  It was a little juicier, so I didn’t even need dressing! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Corn Cakes

Sorry if I have been MIA for the past couple of weeks, a lot has been going on and I find myself starting another chapter in my life…  It seems like change is all around, as my good friend and freshmen year roommate from college is about to start an exciting chapter in her life!  In a few short months she will be marrying a great guy.  He’s really sweet (and a foodie) my first memory of him is him working the grill making portabella bruschetta's and bringing it to all the girls in the hot tub and being jealous when he planned a surprise trip to a Hollywood Bowl concert- complete with a gourmet picnic and wine for my friend.  Can we say dream date and a keeper?!  A bunch of my friends flew in from across the country this weekend, and an amazing shower and bachelorette shenanigans ensued…  I’ll try to post some of the great eats we had soon!    

But back to the point of this post, I have been wanting to make corncakes forever!!  I am a huge corn lover, so when my friend who also loves corn, invited me over to hang out and BBQ I knew it was time to try these babies.  Let me tell you they did not disappoint and they were the perfect compliment to our BBQ feast!


Summer Corn Cakes
adapted from several recipes from epicurious

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
3 ears fresh corn, shucked
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. jalapeno
3 stalks green onion, chopped
olive oil

1.  Shuck 3 ears of corn and remove kernels from the cobb.  *Place ear of corn on a small bowl and place in a bigger bowl to catch all the kernels.*

2.  Heat skillet and add olive oil to the pan.  Sautee corn and red bell pepper for a couple minutes, to soften the bell pepper.  Remove mixture from heat and set aside.


3.  In a large bowl add in cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, Jalapeno, cheddar cheese, green onion and corn mixture and mix.  Add in the buttermilk and egg and mix well till ingredients are well blended.   


4.  Add a small amount of olive oil again to the hot skillet and drop about 1/4 cup of mixture into the pan to form cakes.  Cook till each side is golden brown. 


I ate this a couple different ways… Serve with some chopped tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and green onions or try it with some mashed avocados.  I think it would be REALLY good with some chili on top too.  Yum!!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot Cocoa in the Summer, Eat Real Fest

This weekend the 405 freeway in Los Angeles shut down for about 40 hours.  It was supposed to be an event of epic proportions, causing chaos that would ripple throughout the entire city.  For months it was advertised on the streets, on billboards and talked about on the radio and the news.  For the first time in LA, people canceled plans, rode their bikes and stayed local to their area as much as possible…  The result?  There was NO traffic at all in LA!  Friday afternoon, hours before the freeway was going to close, you could get across town in 15 minutes.  Unheard of for a Friday or for 5pm!!  This is where it should have been the worse, right before the 405 to the 10 interchange.   


Even though LA can be a hot mess, once in a while, I am reminded that Los Angeles is a pretty great place to live.  Check out the view while I was working out last week!


On the Saturday of Carmaggedon I decided to volunteer with my friend at the Eat Real Fest in Culver City.  This was marketed as a festival for food lovers, DIY-ers and cooks!  It was held at Helms Bakery and they had multiple stages, food trucks, beer gardens and several areas with terrific vendors! 


My friend and I were assigned to volunteer in the Marketplace, where we assisted vendors and helped do some set up for several of the presenters.  Some of my favorite local vendors were there like Cast Iron Gourmet, and I discovered a bunch of new vendors too!  I picked up some super spicy caramel corn (I think my nose hairs singed off), tried some excellent raw cacao chocolates from Chocolatl.  There was this super delish looking bread pudding place that I was hoping to stop by before I left; but as luck would have it they completely sold out!  Here are some of the cool things I saw in the Marketplace!

ERcheese    ERkitty

The event also had some cool art stuff going on.  I believe there were crafts for the kids, as well as an artist completing a mural while we were there.  They had also decorated the building with some cool looking graffiti advertising vendors and the event itself.  At the beer garden they also had the cutest Eat Real Fest mason jars that they were allowing people to purchase and get refills for their beer with.  By the time I made it over there, they were sold out for the day.  However I was able to choose from one of their 15 beers that they had on hand!!  No generic beers here either, all local brews or some IPA’s!  Can we say AWESOME!   

ERart2ERart My friend I assisted at the demo where C. Salt shared a recipe on how to make homemade hot cocoa.  C. Salt has totally delish chocolates (all with a pinch of salt), this lady knows her stuff.  We also saw bits and pieces of a honey demo, lemon preserving and sauerkraut making.     


Here is the recipe for Cocoa they shared at the event.  I know it’s the middle of summer and certain areas are going through a heat wave, but just bookmark this for later, you won’t regret it! 

C Salt Cocoa 
provided at Eat Real Fest, makes 6 1/3 cup dry mix

2 1/2 cups powdered milk
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process)
1/3 cup instant coffee
1/2 cup chocolate chips (butterscotch, peanut butter, white chocolate)
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

1.  Sift together all ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, into a mixing bowl.  Mix well and stir in the chocolate chips.  Seal in an airtight container and keep in a cool dry place.

To serve:  Fill cup half full with the dry mix and pour in hot milk or water.  Stir well to combine.  Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, a dash of vanilla extract or even a splash of peppermint schnapps! 

Eat Real Fest was a totally fun event and I really enjoyed volunteering.  I think the event was a great success, as it was packed on Saturday afternoon.  I hope they have it again next year as well so that I can attend more of the demos!  If you are in the LA area, another great food and art event is coming up, Unique LA!  It will be at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica.  Go check it out!  

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Living in Los Angeles for the past 10 plus years and going to college at USC my friends and I are taco connoisseurs.  We’ve done taco trucks, gone to taco drive thrus where the pick up window is on the passenger side (CHANNOS!), had tacos from street vendors and even done 3-4 taco tours around the greater Los Angeles area.  (I think it’s time do another taco tour soon)  It’s fair to say, that we have had our fair share of good and bad tacos.  We’ve even tried birria (goat), tounge, potato and of course all of the fusion tacos that have hit LA in the past two years.  No matter how many tacos I have tried, I most often come back to and judge any taco establishment by their Carnitas taco. 


My friend J and her hubby recently had a cutie patootie named Mila (you might have remembered her baby shower).  After all the friends and family had cleared out, I had wanted to bring a meal over to their house.  Something that would make them a lot of food and would be easy to heat up.  I sent J a list of options and she choose the Carnitas!  I was excited since I had seen this recipe on Just One Cookbook and the Culinary Chronicles and had bookmarked it to make soon.  I was super excited since I had never made carnitas before and was curious to see how it was done.  Let me tell you super easy (though time consuming) and super delish! 

Braised Carnitas
adapted from Culinary Chronicles and Just One Cookbook

3-4 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 5 inch pieces
3 Tbsp. Sea Salt
2 Tbsp. oil
2 bottles Fat Tire Beer
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. Chile powder
1/4 tsp. Paprika
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
1/4 tsp. Cumin
2 Bay Leaves

1.  Cut the pork shoulder into 5 inch pieces.  Rinse the pork pieces and pat dry with a paper towel and season pieces well with salt.


2.  Heat up the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cook the pieces of pork in a single layer, making sure not to over lap the pieces.  Cook the pork until they are well browned on each side.  Be sure to brown each side of the pork, this may take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes.  *The browning is the best part, don’t skimp on this part since it creates the best flavor. Bits of fat and meat will stick to the bottom of the pan, don’t worry we’ll take those bits into the braising liquid.*


3.  Once pork is browned remove the pieces from the pot and blot of most of the excess oil using a paper towel.  Absorb most of the oil, leaving just 1 Tbsp. remaining in the pot.  Lower the heat to medium and add in the diced onions and cook until they are translucent.  Add in the garlic cooking for a minute, then slowly add in the beer.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. 



4.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add the spices and the pork back into the pot and place into the oven with the lid off.  Turn the pork about every 30 minutes, and cook for 3 to 3/12 hours.  The liquid will be mostly evaporated and the pork will be so tender it will almost fall apart.  Remove the pork pieces from the pan and let them cool. 


5.  Shred the pork into bite size pieces and serve!


This carnitas was so yummy!  JK and her hubby loved it.  We picked up some additional rice and beans to go along with the carnitas tacos and chips that I had brought over to the house.  This would be a great recipe to make when you have friends coming over.  While this recipe is time consuming, it’s relatively easy and for the most part you just have to flip the meat every 30 minutes. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Truffled Egg Salad

The Plaza hotels afternoon tea was a delicious treat that I shared with my mom in New York.  One of my favorites was the luxurious truffle quail egg salad sandwich (pictured below).  I knew I wanted to come home and try to recreate it!  One of my favorite types of foods are simple comfort classics that are elevated with a gourmet twist.   


Truffle Egg Salad Sandwich
inspired by Plaza Hotel

4 eggs
1 Tbsp. truffle oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. truffle salt
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. crème fraiche

1.  Boil and peel eggs and place in a bowl.  Coarsely chop/mash the eggs.  *I normally remove some of the egg yolk since I don’t like it too yolky.*

2.  Add in truffle oil, truffle salt, mayo and crème fraiche.  Mix well and add chopped chives and season with pepper. 


Serve on toasted bread or crackers.  *My favorite is to serve it on Japanese bread!!  This would also taste amazing with a nice thin piece of crispy prosciutto. *

For those of you in Los Angeles, you have to be living in a hole not to have heard about “carmaggedon”- aka the closing of the 405 freeway for 53 hours.  This is supposed to be an event of epic proportions causing a traffic nightmare impacting all the way to Oregon, Vegas and Mexico.  *That is what KROQ said, so I choose to believe and quote it.*  For those of you looking for something fabulous to do in West LA the Eat Real Fest is happening in Culver City.  There will be DIY demos, food vendors, food crafts and even some celebrity TV chefs!  I will be there on Saturday and hopefully have a recap and some pics that I can post.    

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roasted Figs and Prosciutto

My friend MC and I had volunteered to make some cake pops for our friend GL’s dessert table at her wedding.  If you have ever made cake pops, you know that this can be a long process.  Baking the cake, waiting for it to cool, making it into balls, chilling them, etc.  I had wanted to make a quick and easy appetizer for us to enjoy while we had some wine and worked on our cake pops!  Good thing we had snacks, since we ran into a few snags and had to work late into the night.  The wedding was fabulous and the dessert table was super cute!  Congrats again to GL and her hubby, gorgeous bride and wonderful wedding!



Anyways back to the snack the helped to power MC and I through the long working session.  I saw these on Pink Parsley and thought I would whip up half of a batch for our “working snack”.  So delish and they even fit into MC’s low carb diet!  


Roasted Figs and Prosciutto
adapted from Ina Garten

10  fresh figs
4 oz. prosciutto
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. honey or agave

1.  Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wash the figs, trim the stems and cut them in half.  Prepare prosciutto by cutting into strips about an inch thick. 

2.  Wrap figs with prosciutto, overlapping the pieces.  Place seam side down on the cookie sheet.

3.  In a bowl combine olive oil and honey and mix together.  Brush or drizzle the mixture over the figs and season with salt and pepper. 


4.  Roast for 10 minutes, until the prosciutto starts to crisp. 

These were so yummy!  I think next time I might toss in some red chili pepper flakes to add some heat.  I’ll probably also make a full batch cause the left overs (if there are any) would be great on a salad as well!  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Taste of Hawaii in LA

Last week I was able to attend an event that Los Angeles Magazine put on, The Island Style Cook-off.  Chefs from Los Angeles competed to create the best “Island Style” appetizer (aka pupu) and they were then judged by a celebrity panel that included two chefs from Hawaii.  Roy Yamaguchi from Roy’s and Ed Kenney from Town in Kaimuki!  Funny enough I had shadowed Roy in high school through our career shadow program.  I believe he showed us how to create a risotto, short ribs and his famous lava cakes.  I’m not really sure it was sooo long ago!  Town is another great place that opened up near my house with a great farm fresh mentality and an ever changing menu. 


So back to the event, it was held at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, which created a beautiful backdrop and created a nice ocean feel since you could see and smell the beachy vibe.  As we entered we were greeted with orchid lei’s and there were several bars serving beers from Hawaii, wine and Pineapple Mosquitos!  Pineapple Mosquitos (Belvedere Vodka, Liquor 43, pineapple juice and mint) I think are served at the Fig in the Fairmont.  There were also tables of Kona Coffee Island cookies, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts as well as some tasty Taro Chips! 


Four LA chefs competed for the title, as well as a trip to Hawaii to participate in the 1st Annual Hawaii Food and Wine Festival.  Readers had the opportunity to visit the chefs restaurants to taste some of the appetizers that were being offered for the competition and then vote online for their favorites.  Neal Fraser from BLD and Mark Gold from EVA were the top 2 vote getters and were at the event to offer a demo on their dishes.  Mark Gold offered up a Foie Gras Sushi and Neal Fraser did a Tuna Poke dish.  Neal also did an amazing Spam Bahnmi that I am going to recreate soon!  The winner was Mark Gold from Eva, though I actually liked Neal’s dishes more.  (Sorry Mark)


The highlight of the night for me though was when Ray Gracia, head chef at FIG demonstrated how to do a modern day Kalua Pig in a steel box.  He then turned the kalua pig into delicious tacos that were served with homemade tortillas and garnished with radishes and a pineapple habanero salsa.  I may or may not have had 3… Allegedly I had a nice juicy piece of pig that was pulled off with a beautiful crispy skin.  There are no pictures of that- so I’m saying for my diets sake, it did not happen.  FIG by the way is amazing- they serve you mini baguettes and seasonal butters with your meal.  And have dishes like bacon wrapped bacon and over a dozen types of bloody mary’s.  The staff there is so friendly too!!                         


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wasabi Arugula Pesto and the weekend recap

Hope that you all had a great 4th of July!  I had TONS of fun this weekend, starting with the NKOTBSB concert that I went to with my friend SL.  The concert was so fun, growing up I was a huge New Kids (and Nysnc) fan!  Ladies let me tell you, they still got it!  It was so fun to hear some of the old classics remixed and updated as well as a couple mashups of New Kids and Backstreet.  The boys all still look great, Donnie especially- since he ripped off his shirt and he had amazing abs!  I tried to take pictures, but they came out horribly…  

The next day my friends and I went out to the Camarillo outlets for my friends birthday.  This is becoming our traditional birthday celebration since her birthday just so happens to fall on the amazing 4th of July sale weekend!  We spend the WHOLE day shopping and filled the car to the MAX.  What you see below is the result of 9 hours of shopping and 5 determined girls.  Reganomics and trickledown theory at work, just doing my part to stimulate the economy!  


While I didn’t cook much over this long weekend, I did have some great eats.  One of them was at Bulgarini gelato in Pasadena, CA.  One of the best things about Bulgarini is that one cup allows you 3 flavors of gelato!  I went with almond, chocolate with sea salt and goats milk with cocoa nibs.  It was just the thing to beat the summer heat! The other place the Brazilian and I went to is called Salsa and Beer where they had a yummy bean/salsa concoction and some of the best taquitos, which I will try to duplicate soon! 

You may have seen in Trader Joe’s they now carry something called Wasabi Arugula!  What a perfect matching the spiciness of wasabi and the peppery notes of arugula.  On the bag Trader Joe’s put a nice little recipe for some Wasabi Arugula Pesto sauce. 


Wasabi Arugula Pesto
adapted from Trader Joe’s

1 1/2 cup Wasabi Arugula
1/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 garlic clove
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1.  Fill a bowl with ice and water and set aside.  Add 2 1/4 tsp of salt to a sauce pan full of water and bring to a boil.  Add in the arugula and let the water return to a boil.

2.  Remove arugula from the pan to stop cooking process and place in the ice bath.  Squeeze out the excess water from the arugula (use paper towels if necessary) and place in a blender.

3.  In the blender add in olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, garlic and parmesan cheese.  Blend until the mixture is well combined and resembles a pesto paste. 

Serve over pasta, on toasted bread or use as a marinade!  The wasabi heat was very subtle in the pesto, I just served it over some left over macaroni that I had lying around.  This is a great way to use up that arugula that’s a little past its prime for salad eating.  I think this pesto would be great as a sauce over fish!  The rest of my pesto will probably go towards a veggie stir fry.