Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Why would I bring up what might be percieved by many as a depressing event? Mainly because nourishment is necessary and feeding/eating is a means to healing.
For those of you who also follow my blog "Food Got to Love It", you may remember my "Ode To Johnnye Burrell". A climax to her celebration of life was a repast held in the church hall. The menu consisited of typical "soul food" entrees often associated with "Afro-American" celebrations and holidays. Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cabbage, green beans, black eyed peas, rice, ground beef and spaghetti, corn bread, green salad and red punch.
Life celebrations always lead to food.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Saturday, August 20, 2005
G and I go out to dinner most Friday evenings. This is a carry over of what the kids use to call family night. I suggested we go to an Indian restaurant in Marina Del Rey as I was also looking to celebrate the resignation and "finally gone" saga of a problem employee (that's another story I wish to forget). As we drove through the parking lot, G commented that Aunt Kizzy's didn't look too busy. Heck, we haven't eaten there in probably over 5 years. Remembrances of the long waits to be seated due to the crowds and the rush to serve and get you out of there had previously driven us away.
We walked in around 7pm to find it wasn't very busy. A man I believe may have been the manager gestered that someone would seat us soon. We were directed almost immediately to our seats.
There is a one page menu which is located under the glass table top. G wanted catfish and I was open to whatever fit my fancy. After what seemed like 5 minutes, the manager offered us lemonade or tea and informed us that our waiter would be there soon. The waiter almost immediately appeared (I'm sure this was due to the prompting of the manager).
Entrees come with a choice of two vegetables plus rice or cornbread dressing with gravy. Cornbread and butter is delivered to the table prior to the meal.
G chose the fried catfish, black eye peas, collard greens and dressing.
The catfish was also served with a side of hush puppies. G was happy. The portion was quite small but he didn't need more anyway. The black eye peas must not have rated honorable mention as I don't remember him making a comment about them. G did love the collard greens after a sprinkling of hot pepper vinegar to cut the sweet taste.
I chose the BBQ pork ribs, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and dressing. I was anxious to eat and almost forgot to take the mandatory blog picture. The collard greens were very good though I could tell they added sugar. I could easily fix this by sprinkling some hot pepper vinegar on them just as G had. This cut the sweet just right. The greens I would now call excellent. After cutting the BBQ ribs, the first thing I noted was that they were baked or steamed and not smoked. The meat literally fell off the bone and to me that's not necessarily a good thing. Tender yes, fall apart- no. It was lathered in a very sweet BBQ sauce. Sorry, I'm partial to a more vinegar based sauce. Don't get me wrong, they were tasty but not great. The macaroni and cheese was excellent. Lots of cheese cooked down home style and I finished them before anything else. The dressing was ok. G and I barely touched it. Whether the rice alternative would have offered more, I can't say.
Eating those ribs made my hands pretty sticky. Our waiter wasn't very attentive and didn't use a little foresight to think anyone eating ribs is going to need more than one napkin nor did he make it back to our table to refill our iced tea glasses. The manager noticed and he asked if we needed refills on the iced tea. We completed the meal. Contrary to 5 years ago when there was a rush to turn a table, it took forever for the waiter to bring us our check. All this for $34.34 tax included. G did tip well as his philosophy is to help a brother out. He was trying. They did look short of staff.
Overall, another lovely evening with G.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Ravioli with Watercress, Two Cheeses and Potato
I have never made pasta dough from scratch and I felt this was not the time to start. I therefore used the suggested wonton wrappers. Cutting large wrappers with a cookie cutter to the size and shape I desired. After cutting a few of these, I questioned the impact on presentation. I probably should have used the small square wonton wrappers.
My selected cheeses included parmesan and an apple smoked gruyere cheese. Both cheeses were finely grated and added to the potato and watercress mixture. I could envision the smoky flavor of the cheese as a welcome addition. This was a great choice. a smoky cheddar, gouda or gorgongola would also have worked.
With my ravioli prepared, I was ready to cook. I used the reserved water from the potatoes plus some addional water. Why waste the garlic flavor in the water.
For color, I selected purple potatoes. I boiled the potatoes with not 4 cloves of garlic but with 6. After boiling, I took two of the softened cloves and mashed them with the potatoes. I then took the suggestion to leave the mixture chunky. The boiling water was also saved and set aside.
The starting recipe:
Ravioli with Potato, Watercress and Cheese
Make a point of using 2 delicious, contrasting cheeses, for example a strong cheese like Gorgonzola or a creamy taleggio and a hard cheese such as pecorino or Parmesan.
6 sheets fresh pasta (cut out into 36 circles or squares, or use 36 wonton wrappers)
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
4 or 5 good handfuls watercress, large stalks removed, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup butter
10 - 12 oz. cheese, extra for garnish
Grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and peel the potatoes, put them into well-salted, boiling water with the garlic and cook until the potatoes are just tender (it is very important not to under- or overcook them). Drain them and let them sit for about 5 minutes to enable the excess water to evaporate (if you overcook them or don't drain them correctly they'll be too moist and your filling will be too wet).
When the potatoes have cooled slightly add your butter and your chosen cheeses. Stir and mash with a fork to mix and break the potatoes up (I like to leave the mixture slightly chunky). Add the nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Stir in the watercress, half finely chopped and the rest coarsely chopped.
Place a good heaped teaspoon of this mixture onto the lower half of each of the pasta squares (or circles). To seal, wet the inside edge with a little water or egg wash, fold over and presssing down to seal completely. Cook in boiling salted water, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes, until tender. The ravioli will float when done.
Serve with some extra olive oil or butter, some more of your chosen cheese grated over the top and some torn watercress.Season to taste and serve.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Anyway, I pick up todays L.A. food section note an article by Regina Schrambling on "Tomato Ennui? Peach Fatigue?" where she references a food blog that ..."contended that it might be possible to eat too many raw tomatoes with fresh basil in summertime". Mid August being the time when most tomatoes ripen. My garden then wasn't really behind. While enjoying all those grilled green tomatoes, I wasn't by myself. I just commented to my husband G that my basil plant was doing better this year than any other plant I have had before. As a matter of fact, I had a tomato (ripe), basil and mozzarella on grilled toast for dinner tonight.
This article also suggested that we step out of the box when considering what to do with fresh harvest be it from your garden or the farmer's market. Imagine sauteed cucumbers with fried pancetta. I never would of thought. I have two cucumbers from my garden in the refigerator now and about 5 nearly ready to pull. I know what I'm cooking this weekend. Vegetables usually served after heating- serve them cold. Vegetables usually served cold- serve them heated.
The article ends by stating "This time of year, my little motto would be: Take the tomatoes somewhere hot and the corn somewhere cold. It doesn't even have to take long to be transported."
Sautéed cucumbers with pancetta
Total time: 20 minutes
2 slender cucumbers
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons butter
4 very thin slices pancetta (about 1 ounce total)
Coarse sea salt and white pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives for garnish
1. Peel and trim the cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Cut each half lengthwise into thirds or fourths so each strip is no more than one-half inch wide. Cut crosswise on the diagonal, alternating directions, to make small triangles.
2. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
3. Wipe the pan completely clean with a paper towel. Add the remaining butter, then the cucumbers. Cook quickly, stirring, until the cucumbers are just wilted but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Toss with the chives. Crumble the pancetta over and serve at once.
Each serving: 81 calories; 1 gram protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 20 mg. cholesterol; 57 mg. sodium.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I even had a different type of dinner today and I didn't even take a single picture of it. Johnsonville Brat which I cooked in my George Foreman Grill til nearly done, then I wrapped it in a large wonton wrapper and placed it back in the George Foreman Grill to cook til the wrapper was crisp.
(This is one of those impromtu posts where you have no clue what will flow from your fingers until you write it.) Anyway, the Brats in Wonton Wrappers were good. I had a side of cucumbers and tomatoes from my garden with Ranch Dressing dip plus a glass of white wine.
Life is good.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
The original restaurant was opened in Boyle Heights in 1972. The second Southern California restaurant is located in the Plaza Mexico Mall off the 105 freeway in Lynwood. A third is located in Las Vegas.
For Friday dinner, I twisted G's arm into going to the Lynwood restaurant. The mall is located between Wilmington Blvd and Long Beach Blvd off of Imperial Hwy. For those you not familiar with L.A., this is an area which might be described as a ghetto. Only a couple of miles from where I grew up. While driving I remark to G that there are two helicopters flying over the north and south side of the 105. Because the 105 was backed up with traffic, G decides to exit off Wilmington.
Immediately we are greeted by a backed up offramp. We also noted a lot of flashing red lights from black and white police cars- lots of them. Now we knew why there were two police helicopters flying over. Luckily traffic was diverted in the direction we were headed.
We get to the restaurant. I was expecting quite a crowd. After a positve write-up in the L.A. Times doesn't everyone flock there to experience it. Plaza Mexico is a very large mall complex with varying stores and shops catering to the Latin American crowd. We find the restaurant, park and head in. It is almost empty except for two other occupied tables. The young lady at the front cash register was non-chalant and uncaring. No welcome, please seat yourself or anything. G and I head to a table. A couple of minutes later, a young shy teenage boy comes to the table. I ask for a menu and he points to an acrylic covered index card sized placard where in spanish the 5 available entries are listed. I guess G and I did't fit in with the expected type of customer so the young guy says "you know we only serve birrieria which is roasted goat"?. I told him that's why we are there.
I order the #4 which is boneless served in a tasty gravy. G promised Ziggy a bone, so he ordered the foreshank the #5.
Serving only goat, these restaurants must go through quite a bit of it. We notice that a lady coming to pick up carry out is handed a very very large pot with a bag of the condiments and tortillas. She pays and leaves the restaurant.
The dinners include hot corn tortillas, diced onions, quartered limes and cilantro.
The onion and cilantro is sprinkled over the birrieria, you squeeze lime juice over the meat and eat using the tortillas. Only a large spoon is provided for the sauce/soup served on or with the meat. G also ordered a diet Coke which we were told they were out of. They were also out of diet Sprite and serve no alcohol. G then ordered coffee which turned out to be instant Maxwell House.
Overall dinner was nice though not great. Total cost was $19.83 not including the tip. I still like birrieria but probably won't be returning here soon.
We get back to the car where I note a new rather large obvious dent from an adjacent car door which was probably parked next to us. The paint on the dent did not match the current car parked next to us lucky for its owner. G is ticked and vows never to return to Plaza Mexico. All he said on the way back home was "I hope you enjoyed that meal".
This month she chose a recipe from Jaime Oliver's collection. Based on the initial comments on her post, the original recipe must have utilized an ingredient not readily available this time of the year in some areas. The recipe was apparently revised and voila! here's Rachael first recipe choice:
Ravioli with Potato, Watercress and Cheese
Thursday, August 11, 2005
A review in this weeks L.A. Times Food Section was for a restaurant described as "Authentic Taste of Guadalajara". Birrieria Jalisco with two locations speciallizes in roasted kid= goat from an old family receipe. I am looking forward to eating there this weekend. The writeup by Linda Burum was very positive.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
These were baked in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes (or until the bacon was browned). The date stuffed figs were the best offering a sweet taste against the smoky flavor of the bacon. I can't tell you what the fig variety is but though very soft, and obviously ripe, they were not very sweet, yet still tasty.
Stuffed with goat cheese or a date stuffed with an almond!
They are Ripe!
Monday, August 08, 2005
Sunday, August 07, 2005
The theme for this months EoMEoTE #9 was to develop a post with a Harry Potter theme. I'm sorry but I have not read any of the books so I'll have to make something up.
Egg Salad on an English Muffin. Everything will be ok in the morning when the sun comes up. Harry fell asleep.
He drifted into a deep slumber and began to dream. His abracadabra world replaced by the comfort of a warm quilt covering him in his Kansas farmhouse bed with Toto at his feet. The earth shook, the farmhouse was lifted into the sky, twirling, twirling. Harry looked out of the window but all he could see was the sun shinning with an egg salad sandwich as its face.
Hold it! Wrong story, wrong part of the world.
I previously posted about my interest in a new eatery soon to open in Inglewood. Collard Green Cafe, It's All In The Name in May 2005. The Grand Opening was in July. I vowed I would go here as I was so intrigued by the name.
Collard Green Cafe is located in Inglewood in a little strip mall across the street from Smart and Final. They describe that "all food items are natural, no preservatives or pesticides. Each recipe means a journey into the incredible richness of savors and scents. Shape and color arise through the combination of Grandma's influences and ?????". (I wonder what the ????s mean???)
All dinners and lunches are served with your choice of greens (collard, turnip, mustard, spinach or combination) plus your choice of either chicken wings (baked or broiled), turkey wing or sliced beef. Also included is a choice of two side orders chosen from a list including collard green black eyed pea soup, candy yams, macaroni and cheese, red beans and rice. Both lunch and dinners are served with a corn muffin. (hot water cornbread is also available for an additional charge.)
Lunch plates are $6.99 and dinner plates are $11.99(add $1.00 for combination greens). Sanwiches are also available at $8.50 each. Choices include tuna salad, turkey salad or chicken salad served with chips or the soup of the day.
I had lunch there on a sunny Sunday afternoon. There was a large motocycle group who also stopped by before me so the place was packed. There are only three eat-in tables seating 6 total patrons. I'm sure this crowd is not the norm so seating is probably adequate. I was greeted by a very kind man who gladly explained the menu and choices to me. I ordered the lunch plate to go with chicken wings, collard greens, candy yams, macaroni and cheese with a corn muffin. The lunch plate portions were quite large. (The dinner plate could probably serve two.) Everything was quite tasty, really good. The macaroni and cheese reminded me of my own recipe. The meal was indeed prepared with healthy soul food in mind. There was no or minimal fat in the greens, the chicken was baked compared to most soul food restaurants where it would most often be fried. The seasonings were very good, not too much salt.
Absent from the menu is anything pork and there were no dessert choices. The missing dessert may be temporary until clientele picks up. I can't imagine no sweet potato pie or seven up cake for long.
Collard Green Cafe
1580 Centinela Ave.
Inglewood, CA 90302
Saturday, August 06, 2005
So I go by my neighbors fig tree while out walking Ziggy. I notice a few of the figs look ripe. It won't hurt to pull of a handful and see what I can do with them. She did say I could have some when they ripened. Once I cut one I found they weren't quite ready. But since I had good success grilling green tomatoes, why not these. I cut them in half and I coated them with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. As they grilled, they became moist with a clear liquid in the center beginning to bubble. I wasn't sure what I was going to produce.
They came out quite good. Though not at the height of ripeness, they were a little sweet. A roasty taste worthy of doing again.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
P and I had a daily routine, lay by the pool, shade, relax, read, mp3 player for music, water, SPF 50, swim, Margarita, Pina Colada. Enjoyed every minute. After completing my two books (Patricia Cornwall's -"Trace" and Amanda Hesser's "Cooking For Mr. Latte"), P and I traded books. I then read Janet Evanovich's "Ten Big Ones" from the Plum Series and John Sandford's "Naked Prey".
Tuesday night the guy's decided we needed to get out of the resort and eat in town. What the heck? G had spotted an advertisement (sign on a pole) for a restaurant specializing in "mariscos". Seafood, shellfish, sounds good. B, C, P, R G and I get dressed, forfeiting dinner at the resort and head on foot for "Los Barilles Mariscos". We walk down the one main street through town and see another sign on a post. After walking the equivalent of about a 1/2 mile, we are at the end of the main drag and still do not see this restaurant. G is determined to find it and he solicits, B and C to accompany him out of down and further down this main drag. R spotted another restaurant which looked ok (only the second in the town, the other being Tia Pablo). We wait for the guys. After about 10 minutes they return and try to convince us that they found Los Barilles Mariscos but since they knew we didn't want to walk any further, they decided we should pick one of the two places we already passed. (Yea sure they found it.)
We decide on "Otra Vez". It is nicely decorated, a few "gringos" are already dining and we are hungry. The chalk board states today's specials which included Perot Fish, Sliced Pork and Rib Eye Steak.
Of course, I ordered the Rib Eye Steak medium rare which came back rare. C ordered the Roast Pork and loved it, B, R and G ordered Perot fish which they loved, P ordered Shrimp in a lemon sauce with linguini which she loved. We ate the salad hesitantly (no one got sick later). No one drank the water opting to order canned drinks, beer or wine. I probably would have been happier eating at the resort, but I was in the minority.
When it is time to prepare to return to L.A., the guys spend a lot of time breaking down rods, packing reels and other accessories (big boys with more expensive toys). G is passionate about his fishing gear. Everything is caressed and packed with care.
While packing on our poolside patio, G is approached by a woman who wants to know if he is the resort maintenance person. Duh, he is packing expensive fishing tackle in our room patio. G is nice and just states "no, I'm just packing my tackle to return home". She just says "oh, ok" and walks away. No forgive me, I'm sorry or any gesture of apology. This is where I get on my soap box. Why is it so hard to believe that Afro-Americans at a resort are not wait staff, maintenance people or second class citizens? As an FYI, never assume.
I spend the rest of the evening also packing. Our flight is scheduled to leave San Jose Cabo airport at 3:05PM Thursday. I can't help but feel I am giving up relaxation though I do want to get back to the familiarity of home.
Well, we get to the airport, check in and wait for our flight. We are delayed multiple times until 3 hours later we find out our flight back to San Diego is cancelled. Something about bad weather in Las Vegas. America West offers to accomodate us for one night at a hotel with ground transportation vouchers. Why not? I ask the clerk if there are any flights going to L.A. We could all fly to L.A., stay at our house Thursday night and then G and I could drive the rest of our party back to San Diego in the morning. We were in luck. Got a flight to Phoenix with a connecting to Los Angeles.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Saturday night is Mexican Fiesta night. Tables are set up on the patio overlooking the ocean, a singer serenades us with a variety of selections from disco to Mexican folk songs. A vendor has a table set up with varying art pieces which you buy a lottery ticket to see what you win. Great way to assure that somebody buys something. A Play on our wish to win. G and I bought 3 tickets and won nothing.
These fiestas are held every Saturday night and Wednesday night. Some of the entrees vary but are basically the same. The food is very delicious, authentic and plentiful.
G had two fish he caught sent to the kitchen for them to prepare a Dorado Ceviche and a White tuna (Bonita) Sashimi. The sashimi was excellent, melt in your mouth fresh. The Dorado Ceviche was a disappointmet. Tooooo much ketsup and not enought citrus, cilantro and onions.
Wednesday night fiesta included tostadas in addition to the choices served Satruday night. Also very good and authentic. After dinner everyone either heads for the bar or back to the room to ready tackle for tomorrow. I wish I could provide a better scenario on the actual fishing, but that's G's thing not mine. I know that at this point they did catch a Dorado, Bonita tuna, and released two Marlins and a Sailfish. The goal to to focus on fish such as Pargo and Rooster fish and less emphasis on Tuna and Marlin. They also remind me that it's the fishin" and not the fish that is important to them.
I continue reading Cooking For Mr. Latte. I want to like this book, but so far Amanda is a real food snob. The recipes are nothing that I would typically throw together but I do love the relationships built around preparing meals. The Food- Got To love It. All my friends want to do is eat and could care less about how the meal came to be. Don't get me wrong, I still love cooking for them and I do love the praise.
Monday, August 01, 2005
The rustic ambience of the old Palmas de Cortez was missing. A place where we came to avoid cell phones, television and radio was a thing of the past. Yes, we still had the option of turning on these devices and most of the time we didn't.
I should have foresaw the changes when we entered the new entrance greeted by a concierge. He described that the resort was building a clientele from within to eventually overflow to the impoverished barrio (Los Barilles) and one day become the hip place to go just like Cabo. We were here to fish (or rather G was) not party with the beautiful people.
Friday dinner included a green salad, creamed corn soup and a bacon wrapped beef fillet with a mushroom gravy, vegetables and a banana pudding dessert. Very American. Very good once you got past the salty gravy. After dinner, the guys headed back to the rooms to get their fishing gear together. One of the books I brought with me was Amanda Hesser's, Cooking for Mr Latte. I sat back and started reading under the cool air conditioner. Yes it was very hot and humid.
The guy's cruiser would depart around 7 am to return around 3 pm. Eight hours with most of the fish heads gone and only those left at the resort to lounge or those heading back to reality that day (return to the states).
Tomorrow, P and I would rise early and claim our lounge chairs in the shade. We talked about taking an early morning walk on the beach. We'll see.
Saturday morning I slept in until 8am. G had already left. I took a quick shower, put on my bathing suit, a pair of shorts to cover and a T-shirt so I would be presentable in the dining room. P wasn't up yet so I ate alone. Breakfast choices at Palmas were the same every morning. A buffet serve yourself selection. I always ate the scrambled eggs, bacon and toast with a cup of coffee. Might I add, lots of bacon.
The bacon served was not in strips but more like bacon pieces. Still tasty. The eggs varied day to day depending on how long they were in the warmers. Lunch would not be served until 1 pm. Like I needed these calories. I decided not to take a walk down the beach but to instead just lounge by the infinity pool and chill.
Only one other person had already claimed a place by the pool. Her name was Gina I would find out later. Later that week, her boyfriend fished with G and R.
I chose two lounge chairs with an umbrella each. There was a large palm tree behind the chairs. I selected this site because it was closest to our rooms. I later discovered that this was the most shady site around the pool. Hooray.
P joined me later. This is what vacations are about. Rest, relaxation and no pressures to do anything. We read, snoozed, read some more and then it was lunch time.
Lentil soup, cheeseburger and fries and vanilla icecream for dessert. Did someone tell the chef that soup when it is 90 plus degrees outside and humid is not a good choice. However, it was good.
After lunch, back to our chairs . The guys would be back in a couple of hours.
3 pm and the first boats returned. P and I watched for G and R's boat. I walked not 20 feet away from "our" spot and waited. Note, all our "things" were still around the lounge chairs. I turned around and saw this bleach blonde out of shape woman pulling my umbrella from around my chair to another chair she occupied. She comments to me that I don't need it as there is some shade provided by the big palm tree behind my chair. I simply commented- "You could have asked" and she went ballistic. (Courtesy-duh). I didn't go ghetto on her but instead pointed out that all she had to do was ask (and honestly I would have given it to her), but to blatantly just go over to my area and take my umbrella was simply rude. No need to argue, I'm on vacation. Speak to the hand! Why me when there were other occupied partially shaded areas with umbrellas. I have my theory but I'll keep it to myself.
Part 3 will continue with nothing but good times ahead.