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One Delish Dish: Angel Hair Pasta w/ Garlic, White Wine, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Goat Cheese

27 Jun

During the week I wish I could cook nightly lavish feasts, but occasionally the fatigue dominates and I don’t feast as often as I’d like to.  However, I recently made  this simple and healthy meal with my lovely ladies Maria and Phuong and it reminded me how easy it is to throw together a fresh pasta.  An additional perk for me, is that this delish dish gives me dinner and a lunch for the next day (FYI: homemade pastas and soups always make the best leftovers because all the flavors have time to meld together).  We made a simple whole wheat angel hair pasta with fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese in a light garlic and white wine sauce.  This dish is fast to make and is also packed full of fresh ingredients and flavor.

Ingredients:

– 1lb of whole grain angel hair pasta

– 16oz container of cherry tomatoes (rinsed and halved)

– 4 cloves of garlic (minced)

– Large handful of fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped)

– Regular or herbed goat cheese

– 1/3 cup of white wine

– 1/2 a can of chicken stock (about 7.5 oz)

– Salt and pepper, crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

While chopping and prepping all the fresh ingredients, bring a large pot of water to a boil (add a little salt to the water to flavor the pasta more).  Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a medium size sauté pan and then toss in the tomatoes and 3/4 of the chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper them to taste, then after a couple minutes add in the garlic.

Sweat the garlic with the tomatoes and basil for a few minutes until the garlic begins to turn a very light brown color, it’s important to not let the garlic get dark brown or burn because it will become bitter and overpower the dish.  Once the garlic cooks a little, pour the chicken broth and white wine into the same pan.  Bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.
While the liquids in the pan are reducing, put the pasta in the boiling water and cook it for about 5-7 minutes.  Stir the pasta occasionally and ensure it isn’t sticking to itself or becoming mushy.  Drain the pasta and save a small cup of the pasta water on the side just in case the pasta needs additional moisture before serving.  After completely draining the pasta, add a few drizzles of olive oil and pinches of salt to it. Then add the pasta to the sauté pan and toss with all of the ingredients (there should still be a fair amount of liquid in the pan prior to adding the pasta).  Finally, add in the goat cheese crumbles and mix everything together over very low heat.  Feel free to add more salt or pepper to taste.

After plating the pasta, top it off with some fresh basil, goat cheese and crushed red pepper…and there you go, a quick, easy and tasty light meal for any night of the week.

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France and Italy continued…

13 Jun

A few more photos of my marvelous meals in the South of France and Cinque Terre, Italy!  These are all typical regional dishes that are guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Tomato Farci Provencale – stuffed tomato w/beef, parmesan, garlic, onions, sauteed veggies and provencal spices

Salade Chevre Chaud – Arugula, heirloom tomatoes, parmesan shavings, with warm goat cheese wrapped in puff pastry.

Socca –  Similar to a crepe.  Socca is made of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.  It’s perfect for a warm, savory breakfast.

Socca man hard at work!

Fresh from the woodfire oven…almost ready!

Oh wait, there’s more…socca man sells fresh pizza too.

Pissaladiere: Very popular in the south.  Pissaladiere is a light and flaky pastry type pizza that’s generally made with grilled onions (onions confit), anchovies, olives and fresh thyme.  Unfortunately, anchovies are one of the few things I don’t enjoy, so I had to remove it, but luckily my dad was there to pick up the anchovy slack.

Can’t go wrong with some serious charcuterie at the morning market in the old village of La Turbie.

Sanglier meat: Wild boar meat that tastes like a less pungent version of prosciutto.  Tasty over a bed of arugula.

Gambas w/pesto – Big ol shrimps from the Mediterranean Sea.

Panna cotta

Nutella Creme Brulee – seriously as amazing as it sounds.  Surprisingly light and not overly sweet.

Sandwiches!

Pan Bagnat: Raw veggies, green onions, hard boiled eggs, tuna and olive oil on a fresh baguette.  This sandwich is a very typical lunchtime meal in Nice.

Grilled Merguez (Spicy Lamb) Sandwich

Merguez sandwich: Served with dijon mustard and Harissa (spicy paste from North Africa)

Cinque Terre, Italy

I love Italy. I love pasta.

Penne alla arrabiata

Caprese Salad: Burrata (creamy mozzarella), tomato, basil and pesto

Ravioli with zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes 

Testaroli with pesto genovese

 

One Delish Dish at “WoodSpoon”

19 May

Being that I don’t venture out to Downtown LA as much as I’d like to, I’ve completely missed out on great places such as this tasty Brazilian hideout for far too long.  My dinner at WoodSpoon gave me a million reasons to explore Downtown eateries more often – WoodSpoon serves an assortment of freshly grilled Brazilian meats, fried dumplings, juicy burgers, short rib stews, handmade chicken pot pies and of course, Sangria to wash it all down.  Since Brazil has had centuries of immigrants bringing their respective cuisine and cultures from every corner of the globe (i.e. Portugal, Spain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Lebanon), there is no shortage of remarkable food in this country. Restaurant owner and Brazil-native Natalia Pereira, successfully provides amazing homemade Brazilian comfort food with all locally farmed, quality ingredients.  

WoodSpoon

Brazilian Sausage w/rice, beans, plantains and collard greens

Pork Burger w/roasted cabbage, onions on toasted potato bread and yam fries

Don’t let this messy looking mound fool you, this perfectly prepared burger is nothing short of mind-blowing.

Amazing Mix Plate - Coxinha, Potato Croquette, Portuguese Croquette, Pastel Portuguese, Kibe

Showcase of Brazil’s Popular Street Foods (aka little delish fried treasure balls)

Coxinha: Shredded chicken and spices

Potato Croquette: Mashed potato and cheese

Portuguese Croquette: Potato salted Cod

Pastel Portuguese: Dumpling stuffed with shrimp, coconut sauce

Kibe: Bulgur wheat, mint and ground beef (Middle Eastern inspired)

*All served with a tasty green chili pepper/cilantro mayo dip

Inside a Coxinha

Brazilian Chicken Pot Pie - fresh out of the oven, so fresh it scorched my starvingly impatient mouth

Sorry Marie Callender but WoodSpoon has got you BEAT in the Chicken Pot Pie department

Doesn’t get much better than moist grilled chicken wrapped w/perfectly crisped bacon.
Very simple, colorfully cute and clean decor – reminiscent of an authentic Brazilian eatery w/a little LA twist

Loved the food, coziness and everything about WoodSpoon!  I shall return with a quickness.

Click here to read more on the chef’s unique upbringing and how it shaped her beliefs on what constitutes a top-notch meal.   

107 West 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
213.629.1765

One Delish Dish at “The Little Next Door”

9 May

Every time I’m at El Carmen fulfilling my incessant taco & margarita craving, I always seem to catch myself peeking over at the bustling patio next door.  Any restaurant overflowing with lively patrons always intrigues me, so needless to say, this wonderful French bistro immediately caught my eye. 

I finally had the pleasure of eating at The Little Next Door and my palate was jumping for joy.  This great restaurant not only had the adorably inviting decor of a traditional Parisian bistro or pâtisserie  (even down to the woven chairs and authentically Frenchie waiters), but it also had some amazing cuisine to support the ambiance.  

 Our Dinner:

Appetizers   Chef’s Special (cured meats, pate and yummy cheese plate)

                             Grilled Calamari Salad

                             Creole Soup (with shrimp and crisped bacon)

Entrees         Lamb Couscous (w/zucchini, carrots, garbanzo beans)

                            Steak au poivre (grilled skirt steak w/green peppercorn sauce)

                            Moules-frites (creamy white whine and shallot steamed mussels)

Dessert        Assortment of macaroons: Coconut, Lavender, Chocolate, Praline, Coffee,  Pistachio, Cookies & Cream

Outside patio area - great place for brunch or an early dinner

Amazing charcuterie and cheese plate

Gettin down on these succulent bad boys (aka Moules-frites)

Wine and moules make her pensive...

The steak screamed out "Eat Me," so we did...

Digging into the tasty treats

The Little Next Door – 8164 W 3rd Street Los Angeles – (323) 951-1010

I will most definitely be back again for dinner or a famous Little Next Door brunch!

Get your Matzah Brei on…

26 Apr

So I realize I am a few hours late for my One Delish Dish shout out to Passover and all of its culinary delights, but I’m hopeful that my tasty twist on Matzah Brei can be enjoyed at anytime of the year.  Among the Gefilte fish, bitter herbs and zero-yeast policy, Passover isn’t typically known as the holiday filled with amazing cuisine.  However, my close friend and fellow “Jewish-insider,” Jonathan Cohen, told me that Matzah Brei is the way to go during Passover – well, that and Matzah pizza, but I could never deal with a dough-less pizza.  That’s just not happening, I love a good dough a little too much.

Matzah Brei is an easy, healthier alternative to quiche that’s super tasty when spiced up a bit.  It’s basically softened matzah that is mixed with eggs and either made into a frittata-type cake or broken up into pieces.  It can be prepared in a savory style (served with meat, onions, chives and/or sour cream), or a sweet style (served with cinnamon, sugar and jam).  Since I would pick a cheeseburger over a cupcake any day, I chose to go the more savory route.  They key is to make it as crispy as possible on the outside (without charring it of course).

To make this you need:

– 4 or 5 pieces of matzah

– 4 eggs

– about 10 finely chopped chives

– 1/4 cup of fried onions (either freshly fried or dehydrated)

– salt and pepper to taste

– 2 teaspoons of garlic powder

– 1 tablespoon of butter

– 3 strips of turkey bacon, chopped into small pieces

– one large dollop of sour cream

avocado slices

Preparation:  In a large bowl, break the matzah into bite-sized pieces, then pour hot water over them (enough to cover).  As soon as the matzah is soft, drain out the excess water.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.  Then add the eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and chopped chives to the softened matzah, mix and set aside.  Heat the butter in the frying pan and fry the chopped turkey bacon.  When the turkey bacon is crispy, pour the egg/matzah mixture over it and let the mixture cook over medium heat.  I prefer to cook this like a frittata, so allow it brown and crisp on one side, then carefully flip it either by hand or with a spatula.  After both sides are crisped, slide it onto a plate and top it off with some sour cream, avocado slices and fresh chives.  You can either cut it up and serve it like a quiche, or simply dig in with a fork.  Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner…and of course, don’t forget the Tapatio!


 

Finally tasted the elusive Gjelina – worth the wait

12 Apr

So here lies the long-awaited Gjelina verdictit was an amazingly savory and scrumptious dining experience.  The restaurant has a modern, yet warm feeling to it, mainly comprised of wood and brick decor and dimly lit antique light fixtures.  There are distressed wooden tables inside and a cozy courtyard out back (complete with lap blankets and heaters for people like me who are freezing if it’s under 75 degrees out).  The space has a lot of great character, the service was good, and the FOOD, ohhhhh the food…

Just to be clear, if I could have gotten a sample platter that consisted of everything on the menu I would have done so in a heartbeat.   The dinner menu was a mixture of Italian, French, and to my delight, even some North African cuisine.  It was beyond difficult to narrow things down, but here’s the breakdown of what we feasted on:

Salad – Grilled asparagus, frisee, pancetta vinaigrette, topped with a crispy fried egg and parmesan shavings

“Vegetable” – Salt and pepper fries with romesco and aioli dipping sauce (I know, a fried potato is a sad attempt at ordering a vegetable side, but they were irresistibly perfect!)

Charcuterie – Jidori chicken liver pate w/spicy greens, balsamic & grilled bread

Main Plates

  • Pizza w/Gruyere, caramelized onion, fromage blanc & arugula
  • Pork Meatballs braised in tomato and red wine w/parmesan & grilled bread

Everything we had was beyond amazing, but I’d have to say my top two faves were the chicken pate and the braised meatballs.  The flavors in each dish came together effortlessly and left you hoping for just one more bite…

Also big hits that I will be sure to order during my next visit:

  • Braised artichokes w/burrata, mint-pistachio pesto & crispy shallots
  • Mussels w/spicy chorizo, confit tomato, white wine & grilled bread
  • Braised chickpeas with greens, cous cous, harissa & spiced yogurt
  • Grilled housemade Merguez (North African spicy lamb sausage) w/sauerkraut, red onion, caraway & mustard
  • Mitake mushroom toast w/creme fraiche & truffle oil

Gjelina’s chef/owner, Travis Lett, has had an appreciation for organic and locally grown produce years before it was fashionable among the LA masses. Gjelina’s menu incorporates Lett’s long-standing belief that creating dishes based on seasonal availability and only the freshest ingredients will result in happy customers and a highly successful restaurant.  Alongside co-owner Fran Camaj, Lett opened Gjelina less than 3 years ago in late 2008.  It has since been featured in Vogue, was awarded 2nd best new restaurant by Los Angeles Magazine and has 4 stars on Yelp with nearly 800 reviews.

I’m ecstatic that this place didn’t stay a secret for long among Venice locals and LA foodies, and I will definitely be back for the tantalizing Gjelina experience very soon!

   Gjelina ~ 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd ~ Venice, CA ~ (310) 450-1429

Mmmm…tequila and tacos at El Carmen

7 Apr

This place is one of my favorite spots in LA.  El Carmen is an unassuming tequila bar/restaurant tucked away on 3rd st. in the Mid-City West area.  The entrance is just a plain door with a small awning and an old neon sign above it, but the tacos, insane tequila selection and Mexican wrestler decor make El Carmen stand out above the rest.  Their bar has every kind of tequila imaginable, complete with a tequila sampler and a novel-size list of margaritas.  My personal faves are the jalapeno and the cilantro-ginger margaritas, but the pomegranate and blood orange margaritas are also really tasty and popular.

 This place is great for happy hour, a light dinner or also for drunken munchies (since the kitchen is open late).  The menu has a variety of options like nachos, ceviche and flautas, but I have a soft spot for their carnitas taco, the chicken enchiladas, and the sweet corn tamale.  At $4.25 for one carne asada taco, I wouldn’t classify this place as the absolute cheapest in town, but they use quality meat and the unique art and music filled ambiance is a lot of fun and definitely can’t be found elsewhere.

          8138 W. 3rd St ~ Los Angeles, CA 90048 ~ (323) 852-1552

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