Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lamb Paillard w/Kasha, Arugula, & Tomatoes

Lamb Paillard

We recently went to, Lucques,  a neighborhood restaurant that we haven't gone to in a while.  Chef Suzanne Goin has gotten quite famous since she first opened her restaurant in 1998.  We dined at her very first Sunday Supper which featured Bunny and the best Tarte Tatin that I'd ever had!  The butter was so good at the time that I had them wrap it up for me to take it home, I think it ended to be Plugra, but at that time it was very rare.  They also actually serve Lucques Olives to munch on while you peruse the menu.  This was also the restaurant that we picked to introduce mine & Hubby's parents before we got married.  Unfortunately, there was a power outage at the time, caused by a Mylar Balloon, and we weren't able to dine there.  They couldn't reach us in time to tell us that the restaurant was closed, but when we showed up they were still very hospitable to us.  My parents showed up first and when we drove up, my dad was standing in the street waving at us with a flute of complimentary Champagne in  Then Lucques called around to other restaurants to find us another reservation (what service!!).  We ended up at Melisse that night.

I'm not much of a lamb person, but for some reason, I've been craving it.  At Lucques they had a Grilled Lamb Paillard  that was delicious!  I've only seen paillard made with chicken & veal, so was very intrigued with the lamb.  It was very tender with only a slight lamby flavor and I learned that it was made with the loin. It was served with  Farro that was mixed with spinach & onions.  I decided to try to duplicate the dish at home :o)

Lamb Loin Chops

When I went to the market, they didn't have any Boneless Loins only the Chops.  I wasn't going to get them, but I figured I could compromise and figure out a way to make thin cutlets out of them...

Cut Off the Bone...

Preparing to Pound...

After cutting the meat off the bone, I accordion cut it like I do to make Korean Short Ribs...

My technique:


Then I pounded them as thin as possible under Plastic Wrap...


I just seasoned them with Salt & Pepper and my Magic Dust :o)


I didn't want to fire up the grill, so I just seared them in a hot Cast Iron Skillet for about 1 minute on each side.  It's so quick and easy!!


I didn't have Farro, but I had tried Kasha before and liked it, so I figured since it's another type of grain it would do :o)  The first time I had Kasha was at a Jewish Deli.  You can get it with their Matzo Ball Soup!  


Since I'm not very familiar with cooking Kasha I looked up recipes and many said to add a raw egg and salt & pepper to it, so the kernels stay separated.

20 Mins Later...

It dries up after 15-20 mins later.

Rice Cooker

I love my rice cooker, so decided to make the Kasha in it. I got this really informative Rice Cooker Cookbook that I've enjoyed tremendously.  The butter is melted first and then the Kasha & liquid is added then cooked on the Regular Rice Setting.

For Extra Flavor...

Swanson recently came out with these Flavor Boosts packets, so I added that to the Kasha liquid.  I know a lot of people don't like using products like this because of the high sodium content, but I like the extra kick of  flavor that it adds ;o)

Cooked Kasha...

I wasn't too happy that the egg got cooked and it looks like scrambled eggs are sprinkled in it, but you couldn't taste the egg. Maybe next time I may rinse the egg off before cooking it, but then that might defeat the process of separating the kernels...


w/Onions & Garlic

I sauteed Onions & Garlic w/some seasonings and then added mature arugula w/a little water to steam it.


I then added tomatoes and cooked those a bit then added it all to the Kasha.

Kasha w/Arugula, & Tomatoes

Bon Appetit :o)

Hubby really liked this dish.  I thought it turned out good, but decided I still really don't like lamb that much, I prefer

Friday, October 14, 2011

Semi-Easy Chinese Roast Duck Lunch :o)

Chinese Roast Duck Served Peking Style :o)

I love Chinese Style Roast Duck, I wish that we could get real Peking Duck around here, but the way it's prepared is outlawed by the CA State Health Dept.  At some restaurants you can get "Peking Duck" with a super crispy skin, but most places don't make a tasty one.  Next best thing is to get a cooked roast duck from a Chinese market :o)

Whole Cooked Roast Duck...

There is an Asian grocery store around here called 99 Ranch Market that sells just about everything Asian that you need! They even have a BBQ section that sells whole roast duck, chickens, BBQ Pork etc....all Asian Style.  It's really inexpensive too...this was only $14 on sale...normally $16 ;o)

The Body...

I got the duck the night before I was going to eat it, so stuck it in the refrigerator.  This is what it looked like cold, but when you buy it, it's hot, hot, hot and ready to eat!  They also normally hack it up for you, so it's easier to eat, but I like to get it whole and cut it up myself.  I don't like having to pick through the bones ;o)  I also had to have someone in line translate for me that I wanted it whole...

Meat Cut Off the Bone...

You don't get much meat off of a duck, but what you get is oh so yummy!

Pre-Packaged Sticky Rice Balls
They also have pre-made Sticky Rice (Glutinous Rice)...this is one of my favs from Dim Sum outings...

Pre-Packaged Buns...

The buns that are usually served with Peking Duck...

Steaming the Sticky Rice...

I steamed these for about 15 mins...

Steaming the Buns...

and these for less than 10 mins.  It's convenient to have a double-decker steamer ;o)


Filled w/Pork Chunks :o)

Ready to Eat...

I just heated the duck up in the toaster oven for about 10 mins on the toaster setting...

Sliced Green Onions & Hoisin Sauce

The Hoisin Sauce is just out of the bottle and I diluted it a little with water.

Steamed Bun, Duck, Hoisin & Green Onion Sandwich :o)

Peking Duck is traditionally served in courses.  1st is the crispy skin w/buns or thin crepes, 2nd is the meat just served by itself or it can be in lettuce cups, then last course would be a soup made with the carcass.

Making Stock...

The carcass makes a very luscious stock.  I added green onions, garlic, ginger & a little salt.  It doesn't need much seasonings since the duck itself  is so flavorful.

Duck Udon w/Kimchi Gyoza

I used the leftover duck meat & stock to make udon for dinner a couple of days later.  99 Ranch has an incredible produce section! I've never seen so many in Baby Bok Choy, Bok Choy etc. ;o)

The Udon has duck, grated daikon, chopped green onions, Bunapi Mushrooms, Daikon, Baby Bok Choy & Tagu Choy.  You can just about put anything in udon that you desire!  

Hokto is my favorite brand of Japanese mushrooms, you can find them in many Asian markets...

Kimchi & Pork Gyoza (Pot Stickers)

I served the udon with Kimchi Gyoza.  It's regular potstickers, but I put Kimchi in it too :o)  It has  ground pork, napa cabbage, soy sauce, grated ginger, garlic, green onions, pepper, sesame oil & kimchi.  I make the filling, but buy pre-made skins, these were a little thicker than what I'm used to...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Refried Beans made w/Peruano Beans & Getaway to Morro Bay, CA

Refried Beans w/Homemade Tortilla Chips

We went to the most beautiful wedding in Los Osos, CA.  I'd never heard of the city, but it turns out it's a cute little town in the southern part of Morro Bay. The bride & groom had fond memories of the area  and picked that destination for their nuptials.  They were very kind and invited all guests that came the night before the wedding day to their rehearsal dinner!  

The rehearsal was at Mexican restaurant called La Palapa.  I loved the food there!  I especially liked the refried beans. I asked the waiter if it had lard in it because it was so tasty and creamy and he informed me, no lard, but they use a different bean called Peruano...Peru Beans.  I'm not sure why they call it Peru since it comes from Mexico.  These are creamier than Pinto Beans and make delicious Frijoles Refrito!  He told me that I could buy them at the local Ralph's, so I was on a mission to find these new beans.  I was able to find them in the bulk bin and bought about 4 lbs :o) As a bonus I was able to buy Pinquito Beans too, they are the ones that are traditionally served with Tri-Tip and are hard to find in Los Angeles.

It's much cheaper to buy Peruano beans locally, if you can find them, but I also found a couple of websites that sells them...

My Jalapeno Plant :o)

I decided to grow jalapenos, I love my new plant!  Behind it is the basil my girlfriend bought for me a few months ago, I had made pesto with it in a previous post.  I almost killed it, but I was able to revive when I could do that!

My Beautiful Jalapenos ;o)

Cilantro & Parsley

I'm getting a green thumb in our small outdoor space :o)

Peruano Beans

They have a yellowish tinge to them...

Frying the Jalapenos...

It's easier and faster than roasting them if you have the oil available ;o)

Fried Jalapenos...

Nice & Blistered...

Cooking the Beans w/Bay Leaf, Onion & Garlic

After soaking the beans overnight or at least 6 hours, they need to be cooked without salt (it toughens the beans if you add salt) for at least another hour or until they are soft.  I usually don't add anything to it at this stage, but this time I decided to add an onion, bay leaf & garlic, I didn't like the results, it added an odd flavor.

Sauteeing Onions, Garlic & Jalapenos

After cooking the beans for an hour I add this saute mixture to it w/seasonings and cook it for about another 20 mins to meld the flavors.  I like for the liquid to get a little thick, but add more water if it gets too dry.

Bacon Drippings...Yum!

After the beans have finished cooking, I transfer it to a fry pan and add bacon drippings to it.  I try to leave some of the liquid behind.

Mashing the Beans...

As it heats I mash the beans and add more liquid if it seems too dry.  I like to keep it a little lumpy.  I love my bean masher!  It doesn't have holes in it like a potato masher, so it seems like it's easier to mash the beans. It's called a Machacador and I was able to purchase it here.

Peruano Frijoles Refritos

I fried the tortilla chips with corn tortillas and then sprinkled it with Mexican Seasoning.

Sand Castle Wedding Cake

The wedding theme was Beach and Sand Castles, they even went to Tahiti for their Honeymoon :o)  This cake was so beautiful and all edible!

Los Osos, CA

The view for the wedding ceremony.  It was a very intimate and casual affair, I loved it!  It was outdoors on the grass and they had the chairs assembled in a circle around the bride & groom.  They got the idea of circling the chairs from mine & Hubby's wedding 11 years ago :o)  It's nice setting the chairs that way, everybody gets a great view of the ceremony!

Los Osos, CA

Los Osos, CA

La Palapa Mexican Restaurant

This is a family owned placed.  The waiter I talked to about the refried beans turned out to be one of the family members.  They really pay attention to the small details.  They make their tortillas, both corn & flour!  We stayed next door at the Bay Wood Inn where breakfast is included.  They give you choices to several restaurants to go to, La Palapa serves breakfast on the weekends.  They serve both American & Mexican food in the morning.  I'm not sure why you'd go to a Mexican restaurant to order an American breakfast, but the table next to us was up for  I had an awesome Chile Verde Omelette and Hubby had the Chilaquiles.  They even grow their own Epazote Herb for the chilaquiles!

Los Osos Mural

Mural painted on the side of a building...

The Merrimaker Bar

We had some time to spare before the rehearsal dinner, so we decided to walk around the town.  The main area is less than a half mile stretch :o)  We poked our heads in to the Merrimaker Bar and decided to get a cocktail, err drink. It has a very interesting "local color"...we were there at 5pm on Fri night and there were only a few seats open at the bar. We normally would order Martinis or Manhattans, but at a place like this we just order "Bombay On The Rocks", you can't mess up something like that, unless they add a squeeze of lime juice to it..which they did ;o)  

Inside, we met a couple of the locals.  It first started with a woman accusing us of moving her stuff over and stealing her  She had more than a couple of drinks, I told her we swear we didn't move her stuff over and Hubby just wanted to sit next to her.  She replies, "You are full of S*&% and I mean that in a good way."  Hilarious!  Then we had some more incoherent conversation with her.  The man on my other side heard we were going to La Palapa and he gave us the tip that the Chile Verde was really good, even better than what his deceased father used to make ;o)  I love conversations like this!  You can get a lot of info in 30 mins.

I found the  funniest thing about the place later that night. I was looking on Yelp (I have a love/hate relationship with Yelp;o) and looked up the Merrimaker, it kept mentioning that if you looked up Dive Bar on Wiki you would find the Merrimaker, I thought it was a joke, but it's  I'm easily entertained ;o)

Montana de Oro

Everybody kept telling us that we should drive to Montana de Oro and take in the view.  We didn't regret it, it's breathtaking!  It's just a few miles from Los Osos.

Montana de Oro

Big Fat Squirrel @ Morro Bay

My friend warned me of the overstuffed squirrels around Morro Bay, she wasn't

Noisy Bird @Morro Bay

I think this bird was looking for his Mommy, he wouldn't quit

Adorable Otters @Morro Bay

I loved these otters, I could have spent hours watching them.  With Hubby's long lens and lens extender I was able to get these great close-ups of all the fun!