Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Edition Weekend Dog Blogging

Ziggy dressed up as Spiderman (yes again). He's not very excited but then I did give him a special treat for being such a good sport.

Sweetnicks is hosting another week of dog blogging with a prize for the best costume.

To stay in theme, I also made some cupcakes. I started out trying to decorate them as pumpkins, but then the happy faces took over.

Happy Halloween with lots of tricks and treats.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Four Q BBQ Getting Ready For Imperial Beach

November 10th and 11th, the California BBQ Association will be hosting a BBQ Charity Event at Imperial Beach in San Diego. The Beachfront competition will be Four Q BBQ's third comp.

We'll keep you posted on cooking activities related to the event.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend Dog Blogging- Wonder What's In the Coolers?

Ziggy watching G unload all the vacuum packed fish he had a San Diego company process for him.

Chicken and Escoveitch Sauce

Inspired by all the fish G brought home, I decided to see if a Fish Escoveitch recipe I had would work with chicken. Though this sauce is primarily used for prepapring fish, there are some web referneces to chicken escoveitch.

So what is this sauce? Redwood Creek Flavors of the Islands in Epicurious states that "Escabeche originated in Spain, where it means “pickled”; it’s a spicy cold marinade that was created as a way of preserving food. Escabeche followed Spanish culture around the world, with scabetche in North Africa, escabecio in Italy and escoveitch in Jamaica. The traditional recipe is made with fish fillets or small fish that have been deep-fried, then marinated for 24 hours. Escabeche is also used in preparations for vegetables, salads, poultry and meats."

My version adapted from Jamaicamekrazy:


4 Skinless Chicken Breast cut into strips
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
oil for frying


1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
pinch of salt; pinch of sugar
1 cup each of julienne strips of carrot, zuchinni, bell pepper
1 medium tomato seeded and cut in juliene strips
1 hot pepper, such as Scotch Bonnet (habanero may substitute)
1 large onion, cut in rings
6 pimento (allspice) berries

After you have cleaned and washed the chicken, pat dry.
Season with salt and ground black pepper
Fry chicken strips in hot oil

Boil together water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer about 15 minutes.

Pour sauce over chicken. Refrigerate for 4- 24 hours for best taste though may be served immediately.

Usually served with rice and peas.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Peruvian Green Sauce (Aji)

Blogging is a major means to stimulate your creativity. Survival Gourmet noted my post on taking more time to use and develop sauces. He posted a recipe for Peruvian Green Sauce (Aji) which is served as a condiment. It's like the official sauce of Peru. Many local Peruvian restaurants in Los Angeles always have a squirt bottle of this stuff on the table. It's use includes as a dipping sauce for bread, chicken and most any other meat or even potato.

I put together a batch of this based on SG's recipe. I added a couple of substitutes noted below.

Here are the ingredients per SG…

1/4 head of lettuce, torn into pieces (iceberg is fine, romaine is better)
3 jalapeno chiles, seeds and veins removed (I used a habanero from my garden- yep- very hot stuff though I only used one)
1/4 cup mayonaise
5 green onions
1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves (try to avoid the stems)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder (I sustituted with about 6-8 cloves of garlic- yea a lot)

(I used a blender instead of a food processor which meant I had to add about a 1/4 cup chicken broth to get it to move.)

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. It should come out bright green in color.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fresh Catch Sashimi and Dipping Sauces


Fresh caught fish anyone? G returned from his 11 day deep sea fishing adventure with a freezer load of fish. Yellowtail, Yellow fin tuna, Wahoo, Pargo, Grouper and Dorado- yep that's right- good stuff for fish eaters (which I am not). Let me re-phrase that. I'm not a fan of cooked fish. I'm crazy about sashimi though.

There is nothing better than fresh, I mean really fresh sashimi, still glimmering bright and no smell. A few fish caught during the later days of the trip are held in a special chilled sea water bath- never frozen. This is what I had to choose from for dinner.

Yellowfin Tuna Belly

Most of the fish caught on board is fresh frozen immediately after the catch and then the fishermen either bring it home to cut up and package or they have a local San Diego company vacu-package it for them to bring home and refreeze.

Zoom In on Plated Sashimi
Saturday night dinner was a sashimi feast. I sliced up (the best I could as I'm obviously not a sushi chef) yellow fin tuna belly- YES- primo belly, Yellowtail, and Yellow fin tuna chunks. No sushi bar had any fresher than Sylvie's Kitchen.

... and the sauces for these to go with included a Ponzu Type Sauce (soy sauce, lemon slice, mirin, garlic and green onion), Soy Sauce with wasabi to taste and my own special concoction.

Sylvie's Combination Dipping Sauce

1/4 C Soy Sauce
1/4 C Chicken Broth
2 Tb Mirin
1 Tb Sesame oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 thin slice Habanero Chile
1 Green Onion sliced
1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 thin slice lemon
1 tsp minced garlic

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cooking Detour- Sauces

So what do I mean by a cooking detour? You know when you get tired of that same old thing for dinner, cooking using the same old techniques and ingredients, going to the store and buying the same things week after week. Now I admit, I do cook a myriad of varying foods. You don't have to look very far to see my stab at a Shabu Shabu meal or plain old fried wontons. Well I just feel something else is missing.

I looked over a number of recipes this week and discovered that there is one specific addition I rarely make to the foods I cook. Sauces. Where are the sauces? There are so many sauces out there from all over the world. Aioli, peanut, cuban garlic, Asian influenced dipping sauces, escoveitch, sesame ginger, Peruvian green sauce, lemon basil, cheese sauce, salsa, tomato sauce, etc etc etc to name a few.

G gets back from an eleven day deep fishing trip this Saturday. He'll have a heaping load of fish ready for cooking. There are so many ways to cook fish with so many sauces. How does Seared Tuna with Wasabi Butter or a Saffron Sauce or Ginger Aioli sound?

My mission is to cook each meal using a diffferent sauce each time. I'm not committing to a sauce a week or a sauce a month. No, just a different sauce whenever.

My first attempt tonight was a Cuban Garlic Sauce better known as Mojo. The official sauce of Cuba. Mojo is a citrus sauce combining oregano, cumin, garlic, sometimes onions with sour oranges if you can find them or you may substitute with lemon or lime mixed with fresh orange juice. In Los Angeles, we are fortunate to have a very good Cuban Restaurant named Versailles. Their specialty is a marinated half roasted chicken with a crispy skin served laced in this garlicky mojo sauce and covered with sliced onions. I didn't recreate it but did find a sauce remniscent of Versailles.

I had some leftover chicken in the refrigerator that I used this sauce on. Very tasty if I do say so myself. I'll have to tweak the recipe more to get closer to that Versailles flavor.

Cuban Garlic Sauce- Mojo (pronounced Moho not Mojoe)

1/2 cup olive oil
8-10 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
2/3 cups sour orange juice or substitue using 1/3 cup lime juice plus 1/3 cup fresh orange juice. (I'm going to have to play around with this ratio of lime to orange juice or maybe try using lemon juice in place of lime.)
1/3 cup water
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the chopped garlic and onions cooking until a pale golden brown. Stir in the citrus juices and water plus the dry herbs and spices- cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil for 4-5 minutes. Add more salt or pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and let cool. The cilantro can be added at this time. Stir and enjoy. The sauce can be refrigerated and may be kept for several weeks.

Serve over fish, chicken, pork.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Heck- What To Cook?-Smoked Chicken, Wontons

I'm sitting at the computer when the phone rings. It's Survival Gourmet. The conversation went to "what ya doing"?

"Just on the internet looking for something to cook for dinner." G is somewhere on the Pacific doing macho testotesterone deep sea fish catching stuff, Ziggy is just keeping me company and I can't find anything that will quench my appetite.

Well after many suggestions,including pasta with carbonara sauce using smoked pork butt and a slew of other recipes, I still hadn't touched on anything I had a taste for.

So I just went to the freezer came up with some frozen chicken thighs which I seasoned with a name branded seasoning salt then smoked with pecan wood on the lil smokey joe and a bag of left over wontons stuffed with purple potatoes seasoned with garlic, watercress and smoked gruyeye cheese, parmesan cheese plus a large a ziplock filled with frozen tomatoes from my gardening efforts. Added some seasonings to the tomatoes including rosemary, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper and chile peppers to make a sauce after running through a sieve.

Smoked the chicken thighs on the lil smokey joe

...and fried the wontons. Dipped the wontons in the the tomato sauce. Just sliced the chicken and ate as is. Not a matched treat but I'm not hungry now.

Smoked Chicken

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm A Winner- Crazy About Cupcakes

Cupcake Queen (CQ) at 52 Cupcakes held a contest this past week which featured a prize of an autographed copy of Krystina Castella's new book Crazy About Cupcakes. Things went so well that actually two prizes were offered. Queue and I were the two winners.

Can't wait to receive my copy and looks like it will be in time for some holiday baking.

Thanks CQ

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shabu Shabu Soul Fusion Style

This past weekend, G had a taste for Shabu Shabu. Now we haven't been out to dinner at a restaurant specializing in this style of food preparation in a couple of years so I guess it was about time. I searched through the web on sites such as Chowhound, Open Table, Foodie Universe and the Delicious Life for a restaurant in the West L.A. or even Downtown L.A. area. From this search I concluded that there are only a couple of recommendable restaurants in the medium priced range. Even more intriguing is what caught my attention in a post by Sarah. Not to quote but only paraphrase-'For someone who was brought up in a Japanese family, going out to eat Shabu Shabu at a restaurant is like ordering a $20 peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a restaurant to most Americans'. Whoa, that common?

With that in mind, I also took her recommendation to try to prepare this at home myself. Armed with my infrequently used electric fry pan filled with chicken broth, a thinly sliced tri tip steak, large tiger prawns, sliced chicken thighs, a bottle of soy sauce, mirin, wasabi and fresh veggies (including baby bok choy, shitake mushrooms, brown mushrooms,cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, green onions, sweet onions, raddish, garlic, bean sprouts, lemon grass, cilantro and ginger) from the vegetable stand, I prepared Shabu Shabu for my G. I had no recipe but only descriptions from post on the web and what I remembered from our previous venture. Now before you pooh pooh this adventure, I know my ingredient choices may not be typical but that's where the Soul Fusion comes in.

To follow is Sylvie's Shabu Shabu Soul Fusion Style.

Bok choy, cabbage, green and sweet onions, bean sprouts
Thinly sliced meats
Ready to sit down and enjoy
Yellow bell pepper, cilantro, shitake and brown mushrooms, raddish, carrot, garlic, lemon grass, sliced green onions, ginger
Large Tiger shrimp

Chicken broth with garlic, lemon grass, cilantro and ginger. Sauces: soy, mirin, sesame oil, chicken broth and the same plus hot chile peppers, green onions and garlic
Prepared and ready to eat