Sunday, July 31, 2005

IMMB - Taste Tea!

This month A La Cuisine is hosting the Is My Blog Burning monthly event where the theme is "Tea".

With so many uses for, I went with a southern favorite- Iced Tea so appropriate for the heat wave we have been experiencing in not the south of the USA but instead Southern California.

Iced tea is a favorite which many would say is not limited to the south however, many in Carolina would say that the best iced tea can only be brewed in the south. Is it the water, a specific type of tea, simple sugar or what? I believe it's more the amount of sugar added which is lots. Southern Iced Tea is very sweet.

My mother in law recently sent us some large tea bags of what she labeled "S&D" tea. This is an orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea.

To make my modified version of Ruth's Ice Tea, I filled a pitcher with room temperture water, added the large tea bag (equivaent to 4 regular sized tea bags) and let this sit in the sun for about an hour. In that I was first torn between lemonade to quench my thirst and iced tea, I decided to combine the two. Thus my modification to Ruth's recipe. I took two lemons and carefully cut lemon peel ringlets. I then squeezed the lemons for fresh juice. After removing the tea bag from the sun brewed tea, I added the lemon juice and the lemon peel. Because it is difficult to dissolve sugar in the tea, I made a simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water (1 cup of each) added to a sauce pan then placed over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. After the dissolved mixture is cooled, it can be added to the brewed tea and lemon mixture to taste.

To serve, simply pour into glass filled with ice cubes. In line with the a taste of the south, use a canning jar for the glass.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Week in Mexico Part 1

We are back to the states after a one week vacation at the Palmas de Cortez Fishing Resort in Baja California. The image is of the daily view I had as I relaxed and just enjoyed doing nothing (these are my feet) while the guys were out deep sea fishing.

Over the next few days, I will present in segments the foods we ate as fishing widows and the adventures we experienced.

Starting from the beginning, before our departure to Mexico, we met up the night before with P and R in Encinitas for dinner at the Sage Grill.

Our plans included flying out of San Diego International airport as the round trip fare to San Jose Cabo airport was $150.00 less per person than flying out of LAX. All six in our group were to be on the same flight. B and
C would meet us at the airport.

Back to the Sage Grill. Bruscetta sytle bread was brought to the table with three tasty spreads which I believe were cilantro, tomato and an olive spread. We started with appetizers of the Buffalo Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes and Chili Lime Calamari. I ordered the "Black Eye", which is a marinated rib eye steak with blackened seasonings served with buttermilk battered onion rings. G ordered the "Miso Black Cod" which was pan seared with a miso-sake glaze served skwer style with vegetables. P ordered "Simply Pasta" (linguini) with Prawns in a parmesan cream sauce and R ordered the "Split Roasted Chicken" which was 1/2 a roasted chicken served with new potatoes and skewered vegetables.

An excerpt from a "Dining Around" review by Wolfgang Verkaaik published in the Union Tribune states

"Sage Grill features an all-day menu and offers a seafood bar and cocktail lounge, in addition to the dining room. Take a look at the seafood bar menu. Items from it make great appetizers, as well. Definitely try the delightful strawberry tartar (ahi sashimi, strawberries, avocado and Tobiko caviar), lobster spring rolls, or the incredible crab cakes. The regular menu also has some nice starters such as heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese won tons, salmon stack, brie and papaya quesadilla and fantastic thick-battered buttermilk onion rings. The menu has some fabulous salads like the chopped Asian chicken, a Caesar, or the spinach with goat cheese and bacon salad. There are several sandwiches, including a great blue cheese burger. Among the hot entrĂ©es, the big signature classic is the miso black cod, based on the same recipe from New York’s Nobu and London’s Zuma that has made this dish a worldwide sensation. The cod filet is marinated, and then pan-seared to melt-in-your-mouth precision and served in a balanced miso/sake glaze with skewered vegetables. Other great picks are the double-cut rotisserie pork chop with apple sage chutney and crispy skinny fries; spit-roasted chicken with new potatoes and vegetables; and black-eye steak with blackened seasoning and those sinful onion rings. Other picks such as tomatillo salmon, buttermilk fried catfish and the creative pasta options round out the menu. Pricing is very reasonable, from $9 to $24. The wine list is marvelous and, speaking of libations, try Sage’s incredible watermelon martini! Find the “wow” at Sage, 1506 Encinitas Blvd. Call (760) 943-7243. "

We did not order any of the seafood bar treats but discussed we would do this next time. We definitely enjoyed our entree and appetizer choices and we will most likely eat there again.

After dinner, we headed back to P and R's home where we spent the night. The next morning we planned to get up early and go out to eat breakfast on our way to the airport.

The best made plans aren't always successful. We arose and were ready at our stated time. We packed the van and headed to breakfast. We first thought to go to IHOP but it was away from the freeway. We then headed to Coco's. With a very sort window to enjoy breakfast, we noted that the wait staff at Coco's was limited and they were not going to be able to accommodate us quickly. We jumped back in the van and headed for the airport deciding we would have airport food fare.

The ride was uneventful except for some traffic and remarks from G that something was wrong with the van. Some increasing vibrations and the temp guage indicated overheating. We continued to the airport and we made it. After unloading, G headed to long term parking. When he returned he indicated that the van died just as he parked. Oh well, we'll deal with that when we get back.

Breakfast in the airport was not worth talking about. It was just a source of needed calories as we knew our America West flight would only include peanuts and we would not get to eat anything other than junk food treats until later that evening.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Gone Fishing!

We are headed south for about a week. Baja Calfornia to be exact. North of San Jose Cabo (East Cape) there are quite a few pretty nice sportfishing resorts. The kind of place where G and his guys can go out deep sea fishing all day and I can just relax in the shade by the horizon pool (see actual picture of where I will be).

Hopefully I'll return with some fun stories of food in Los Barriles, Baja California, Sur Mexico to make up for the lack of posts over the next week.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Paper Chef # 8 Awards- The Golden Tomatillas

I want to thank Sarah of the Delicious Life for awarding Soul Fusion Kitchen the Golden Tomatilla Award for Special Effects in this event.

Best Special Effects goes to...Sylvie of Soul Fusion Kitchen for her use of a George Foreman Grill to make Cuban Style Pressed Sandwich with Spinach, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Olive Tapanade
My acceptance speech went something like this:
I want to thank G for supporting my food related quests, George F. for the grill and food bloggers all over the world for inspiration. Thanks to everyone who has eaten my food, attempted cooking in my kitchen, my day job staff and the boys in the neighborhood who were my test kitchen. Most of all, thank you Sarah for your support. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Just think, just last week I was just a food blogger and now today I'm riding the wave.

Follow Up- Collard Green Cafe

I wrote a post May 1st about a new restarant advertising that it was coming soon in a small strip mall in Inglewood. Collard Green Cafe- is now open. I passed by there this morning and saw the "Grand Opening" sign up. The Banner displayed on the outside says "Collard Green Cafe Now Open". I'll for sure have to check this place out this week.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ethiopian Dinner At Fassica

Beckoning me from all angles has been the call to try Ethiopian cuisine. A number of reviews from bloggers like Sarah at the Delicious Life and conversations with friends prompted G and I to check out Fassica in Culver City. It is located on the north-west corner of Washington Blvd and Motor Ave. Though in Los Angeles most Ethiopian restaurants are clustered in an area know as Little Ethiopia (Fairfax District), it is welcome to have one located a bit closer to our home.

It was a fairly late dinner for us as we didn't arrive until 8:30pm. Parking was no problem as there are a number of spaces directly in front of the restaurant. For those who are not familiar with the area, Fassica is located directly across the street from Sony Studios, a very busy, traffic congested area by day. This Friday night, the intersection was fairly dark with little traffic. The only indication the restaurant was open was for two other cars parked outside and a lit "open" sign in the window.

As we entered Fassica's, we noted two other tables of diners. We were directed to sit at any table we pleased. A very personable young waitress came to our table with menus. We ordered a bottle of wine and reviewed the menu. I mentioned to G, that most of the reviews I previously read were for diners who ventured there during the lunch hour. They described that the cook/owner usually was the only person manning the restaurant during the day serving also as the waitress. Tonight there were two waitresses, an older lady in the kitchen (cook) and an older gentleman behind the cash register.

Set up in front of the cash register area was an electric piano and microphones. Possibly entertainment tonight.

Our waitress returned with a room temperture bottle of Pignot Grigio and she then painstakingly opened the bottle to pour nearly to the rim two glasses of wine. Though the wine was good, it would have been better cold. Oh how I wished for a couple of ice cubes. I even asked for a glass of water hoping there would be ice cubes in it. Nope, I got room temperature water. I didn't complain. We were ready to order. I recommened to G that we get the $22.00 combination platter for two as were not familiar with the cuisine and that woud be a good way to try a variety of dishes. I also commented that I was surprised there was a knife and fork on the table as Ethiopian meals are meant to be eaten with your hands by using a sponge-like bread called injera.

After we placed our order, we conversed not noting that the entertainment had arrived. Something we were not expecting, the sound of the Captain and Tennille's- Love Will Keep Us Together was sung by let me say, a non-Ethiopian 40ish woman, accompanied on piano by a 50ish also non-Ethiopian man. (Wouldn't have predicted this.) Though they were good and entertaining, it just didn't fit the cuisine. Let me also add, that during the course of the evening, a number of "guest" singers also performed.

After about 10-15 minutes, our waitress delivered a large platter of our entree and an accompanying basket of injera bread. There were 10 different items on the platter. I asked the waitress to describe them however, her english was quite poor and she was unable to really explain each dish. Presentation was colorful and inviting. G and I dug in, tearing off pieces of the injera bread and scooping up flavor after flavor. It was quite tasty though some dishes were served cold and others were warm (not hot). I wasn't sure if that's the way it was supposed to be. We were not asked if we wanted anything prepared extra spicy so I believe all the spicy dishes were "gringo" style. Heck, I would have preferred some heat.

What did we have? Because the waitresses' descriptions were not toally understood by me and I wasn't sure of the names of the dishes, I relied on reviewing other Ethiopian web site menus for similarly described dishes.

Starting at the left hand side of the picture and going left to right to left to right upwards (confused you?)
1-A potato like dish spiced with garlic and ginger flavors.
2-Yatakilt Alitcha – a steamed vegetable combination of cabbage, carrots, and potatoes seasoned with garlic, onion, and ginger.
3- Pumpkin Wot made with chunks of the pumpkin and seasoned with tasty spices .
4-Yemiser Wot- Split Lentil in red pepper sauce, seasoned with assorted spices.
5-Doro wot - a stew of a cut of chicken stewed in pepper sauce with an assortment of spices simmered in flavorful sauce, with incised hardboiled egg.
6-Ayib- Ethiopian-style farmer's cheese.
7- Gomen- Chopped collard greens
8-Kitfo Mitmike- ground beef cooked with hot chilies
9-Yebere Siga tibs- slices of beef cooked with rosemary, onions, carrots, spices, and hot peppers. 10-Yebeg Tibs- lamb dish (our least favorite as it was quite tough and hard to eat)

Though we enjoyed the meal, it didn't rock our world. I think we'll have to do as others, that is ventrue to other Ethiopian restaurants to compare and contrast. I believe we would probably return to Fassica, hoping the entertaining duo and guest vocalist won't be there.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Paper Chef # 8

Paper Chef #8 Holiday Edition (cheddar cheese, olives, spinach and a choice- either potato or cream but not both)

Owen at Tomatilla is giving us until July 11th to post for this event. The judge this time around is Sarah of The Delicious Life.

I thought and thought deciding that I would refrain from making any type of salad. A Cuban Type Sandwich using some olive tapenade I had in the refrigerator, 1 (8-inch) long piece French bread, halved lengthwise, 1/2 cup sauteed spinach (drained), 4 tablespoons olive tapanade, 4 slices (1/8th inch thick) sharp Tillamook cheddar cheese and 2 slices bacon cooked crisp.

Preheat Foreman Grill. Spread olive tapanade evenly on each half of bread. On the bottom half layer the cheese, bacon, spinach and then another layer of bacon and cheese. Cover with the top half, and wrap sandwich tightly in aluminum foil. Place sandwich on the grill, and then press top of grill to flatten; try to distribute the weight evenly over the sandwich. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally to flatten the sandwiches.

The result was a sandwich with perfect grill marks, crisp crust which when cut ouzzed melted cheddar cheese.

Cuban Style Pressed Sandwich with Spinach, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Olive Tapanade served on a French Bread Loaf with a side of Potato Chips

I must admit, this was quite tasty and I will be making it again.

The Ingredients!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

IMMB #16 Roundup Is Posted

IMMB #16 featured Eggs. Seattle Bon Vivant has compiled a roundup of the 81 entries in this event. This makes for a great assortment of recipes.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Surfas New Building Addition

Some changes are coming for Surfas. Building on the corner of Washington and National which use to be a well known Culver City automobile dealership is now being remodeled for Surfas. The sign states "Summer 2005". Looks like they are a little behind. The upside of this is maybe there will be more parking spaces avaialable. Can't wait.