Thursday, June 30, 2011

Watching the Sunset on the Beach w/Retro Clam Dip Part 1

Retro Clam Dip

**Watching the Sunset on the Beach w/Smoked Salmon Pizza Part 2...Linked...**

I wanted to thank everybody for all the nice comments from my last post regarding my poor treatment on Chowhound.  You all really made me feel so much better!!  I knew that my blogger friends would be there and be supportive about this for you guys :o)

Hubby gets recommendations about food from a site called Zite.  When he finds one that sounds interesting to either me or him, he forwards it to me.  This time he sent me a Clam Dip  When's the last time that you actually had Clam Dip?  In the '70's?  I don't even think I've actually had Clam Dip before. Hubby said he used to buy the pre-made ones from the grocery store...ugh...  It never interested me and I just had an image of bad food at parties way back when.  But now, I love retro food!!  It's been a while since I made fondue, but I just love stuff like that!  I was very intrigued by this recipe and when I saw the photo that was on the website it clinched it for  It looks like the photo was from Sunset Magazine or Betty Crocker;o) 

I mentioned before that we are very fortunate because Hubby's parents have a place on the beach in Carpinteria, CA, it's about 20 mins south of Santa Barbara.  Even luckier for us is that noone in his family lives nearby, so we get access to it the most of the time.  My favorite time on the beach is watching the sunset.  Our ritual is to have cocktails and some sort of appetizer when we are out there.  Our first toast is always to Mom & Dad :o)  Hubby thought that the Clam Dip would be perfect for our sunset cocktail hour and it was!

I followed most of the recipe, but of course changed up some of it.  I added:  Smoked Clams, Onion, Garlic, Cream Cheese & Hot Sauce.  I also am not that green, so I used store bought mayo unlike the recipe says and did not use everything organic;o)

Fresh Just Picked from the Farm Garlic from Bakersfield, CA

One downside to the beach place is that there are often renters there.  For the most part, they are nice, but we've run across some doozys!  This time we were very fortunate to meet some farmers.  They gave me fresh garlic that they had just pulled that morning!  Can you get any fresher than that!!  Am I the only one that gets giddy and excited about stuff like this:o)  I had planned to make the Clam Dip early on and getting this garlic was perfect timing!

See how beautiful and white the garlic  is...


I may be the only one that appreciates pictures of beautiful garlic;o)

Sauteing Garlic & Onions w/salt & pepper

Can't you just smell the aroma of the garlic ;o)

Smoked Clams

I chopped up some and added it to the dip.  I didn't put too much in it because I didn't want the smokiness to over power the dip.  I also garnished the dip with a few whole ones.

Canned Clams, Bacon, Sauted Onion & Garlic, & Green Onions

I wanted to use fresh clams, but the ones at the grocery store didn't look that great.  Also, if I had used fresh ones this would have turned into a mighty expensive dip;o)  I also saved the drained clam juice and froze it for later use.  I used a little of the clam juice to loosen up the cream cheese and to add more claminess to the dip.

Yum...served it w/just Potato Chips

I think it would go well with crudites too or just about anything that you use Onion Dip for... I really liked this recipe and would make it again!

Caipirinhas & Smoked Salmon Pizza

Who doesn't like sunset time on the beach, right?  Hubby made us Caipirinhas, a cocktail from Brazil.  I think we need to work on the recipe a little more, it's such a simple one too!  It's just Cachaca, Lime & Sugar all muddled together, I think key is to get the right proportions and the right amount of sugar in it.  I also made Wolfgang Puck Style Pizza that I will write about in my next post :o)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chinese Paper Wrapped Chicken made Japanese Style w/Teriyaki Sauce :o)

Paper Wrapped Chicken

First, I want to start out by saying a big THANK YOU to my new blogger friends and to the blogger community. You've all been so supportive and kind with my blog, especially the people from Foodbuzz:o)  I say this because I had the worst encounter with the Chowhound community this past weekend.  If you are not familiar with Chowhound, it is a great website for researching restaurants in all areas of the world and they also have a Home Cooking board.  I've been posting on the Los Angeles board for over 8 years now and just recently started posting on the cooking board and felt like I got bashed (or was it flaming;o) on there this weekend.  I won't go into minute details, but basically I was told I post too many pictures, I clog/clutter their site with too many responses, my posts aren't that interesting, my photos are too food porny and then I apologize for what  I've done (which wasn't really wrong) and that is taken as sarcasm and when I say I will stop posting I am compared to a child stomping off with their ball on a playground!  Can I be insulted  I was very hurt at the time, but can laugh at it now, it's sad to me that grown adults (catty women;o) can treat others this way. I guess I'm a little too sensitive about criticism (which my brother always reminds me) and this took up too much of my time over the weekend, but come on, this is the first time I've been treated so poorly in real life or virtual life.  I have the type of life with very little drama in it, I'm very fortunate this way;o) I also can get along with most anybody and can quickly make friends.  The initial complaint wasn't just against me, there were a few of us that started to post more pictures then in the past and that is what started the negativity.  The plus side was there were only a few people that were complaining about me and of course they are the most vocal and I did hear from many that were on my side, but I am done with that thread.  Ok, I am done with my rant:o) Poor Hubby, he had to listen to my rant all weekend!  Of course his advice was to stop reading the thread, but I couldn't help it, you have to slow down and watch the car Going through this really made me appreciate the blogging community, so thanks, everyone!!

On to the food...  One of the first people I made friends with in the Blogging World is Lyn.  She is just the sweetest lady and was so friendly and supportive from just about day 1!  I think we clicked so quickly  because her birthday is only 5 days after mine (but many, many, many years after mine;o) which makes us both Virgos.  She lives in Singapore with her family where Hubby & I had part of our honeymoon 10 years ago.  She makes the cutest bentos for her two little girls.  I got the inspiration and method of making the Paper Wrapped Chicken from Lyn's blog. Please check it out, she recently updated it...

I did change the recipe a bit, like I always do;o)  This is traditionally a Chinese dish.  I'd never heard about it until I saw it on Lyn's blog.  I guess many Chinese restaurants serve it, but I'd never seen it on a menu. The chicken is wrapped up in parchment paper and then deep fried.  This method slightly carmelizes the chicken and keeps it super moist.  I made it with Teriyaki Sauce instead of the Chinese marinade and I used boneless thigh instead of wings like Lyn used.

Boneless Chicken Thigh
After marinating for over an hour...
This previous post lists the ingredients of my Teriyaki Sauce...

The parchment paper is a square piece.  I may have made mine a little too big.  First step is you make a triangle out of it...

Second step is you fold in both sides, so it looks like an envelope...
Last step is you fold the "flap" of the envelope down and tuck it underneath the folded 2 sides (does this make, so it turns into a nice sealed bundle.  Lyn said to make sure it is tightly sealed, so the oil doesn't seep in while frying...mine leaked...oh well;o)

Frying in Med High Heat...
I turned it over and over while it fried.  The paper poofs up a little, so I had to hold the chicken down.  First batch I fried a little too long..about 10 mins and it got charred on the edges, but it still tasted good.  Second batch was better at 6 mins.  I think you are supposed to go by the color of the paper, but it's more about you learn as you make it;o)

This is the one that I fried for about 10 mins, see how charred the paper got and you can see how the oil seeped in. Next time I will make smaller packets and try to make it tighter.  I also will fry for only about 6 mins.  I'm sure if you use bone-in chicken, it will take longer.

Chinese Paper Wrapped Chicken made Japanese Style w/Teriyaki Sauce

I served this with blanched Broccolini, Rice w/Furikake (Seafood & Bonito Flavoring) and homemade Kimchi...I can eat Kimchi with just about everything!  The chicken came out super moist and flavorful, but I need to make this a couple more times to perfect it ;o)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My second time making Pesto...

Ricotta/Yogurt Pesto & Spaghetti w/Potatoes & Green Beans

Not to bore you all, but here is my update on "moving" my blog.  First, I need to thank Nami's husband for giving me some great pointers...thanks Shen!!  Even after waiting a week for my new domain to kick in at  Wordpress, nothing happened!  So, I registered at GoDaddy a new name and that kicked in immediately!  The day after that I finally heard from Wordpress and the good thing was that they refunded my money :o)  Then they accused me of registering elsewhere and that's why they couldn't register my domain, ha!, I told them that the reason I registered somewhere else is because they didn't do anything for over a week!!  For now, I'm going to stay put here at blogspot and go slowly and decide where my new "home" will be.  I also looked into TypePad and will look into Yahoo Small Business. I may just stay with Blogger, but just use my .com name with it.  I know some of my terms may be wrong, I thought I had things to learn about blogging, but moving my blog is even harder...I have so much more to learn, my head is

On to the food :o)  I don't really like pesto and I never really have.  I like Basil, Pine Nuts, Parm Cheese, Olive Oil & Garlic...all the components to the pesto, but for some reason I don't really like it all combined.  Hubby has always asked me why I don't like it and maybe I should try making it.  I did try making it years ago and thought it was just okay.  A girlfriend of mine recently gave me a beautiful basil plant (thanks Kris!!) and so I thought it was time again to try to make pesto.

I'd been contemplating making pesto for about a month and then I saw an episode of Tyler Florence's Tyler's Ultimate show where they featured a Pesto dish.  It was actually a Lasagna show and featured a man that had a Basil farm and he made Lasagna Pesto out of it.  What intrigued me was that he put both ricotta & yogurt into the Pesto to make it creamier and then he layered his no-bake lasagna w/the pesto, potatoes & green beans.  I thought it would be easier to make spaghetti out of it;o)

My Beautiful Basil Plant

It got a little leggy, I should have cut it back some, but lately I've been VERY lazy with plants, I usually kill them by not watering  At least I did water my basil and it is still thriving;o)

"Toasting" the Pine Nuts

I read that toasting the pine nuts would give it a nice roasted flavor to it.

My Beautiful New Red Le Creuset Mortar & Pestle

In the Lasagna Pesto episode it said how much pesto would taste better if you made it in a mortar and pestle. Since my old one broke years ago I decided to get a new one, I love red and I love Le Creuset, so that's how I picked this one.  Well, it turns out either this one is too small or I just don't have the strength to crush the basil because I gave up making the Pesto in the Mortar and instead used my Immersion Blender to mix everything  After mixing up the base, I put it back into the mortar to finish it off.

The order would have been:  Crush Garlic & Salt; Pound/Crush Basil; Crush Pine Nuts then add Olive Oil & Pepper

The picture is with all the above ingredients blended together...

Adding Parmesan

Adding Greek Yogurt & Ricotta Cheese

Garnished w/Pecorino Romano, Green Beans, Fingerling Potatoes & Pine Nuts

I blanched the Green Beans and Boiled the Fingerling Potatoes and cut them into strips and then tossed it with the spaghetti & pesto with a little of the pasta water.  I added Romano Cheese for saltiness and whole Pine Nuts for extra nuttiness.

The final verdict about Pesto...this one was better than most that I have tasted, but I'm still not a fan.  I also didn't really care for the potatoes in it, too starchy.  I still can't pinpoint why I don't like it.  Good thing was that Hubby loved it :o)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dinner the Other Night...Japanese Style Hamburg Steak Made w/Tofu :o)

Japanese Hamburg Steak Served w/Zucchini & Rice

I'm still trying to switch over to Wordpress, but it's just not happening yet ;o)  I'm not sure exactly why it's not working.  Maybe someone can enlighten me...  I registered the domain as a .com, but that's not showing up on my domain list.  The one does show up.  I got a receipt from Paypal saying that I registered the .com site. It's been a week since I registered it and I also contacted WP about it on Thurs, but haven't heard back from them. On their site it says it can take up to 72 hrs, but it's way over that type frame!    Ugggghhhhhh!

Ok, so about my Hamburg Steak :o)  It's another Japanese comfort food dish that I grew up with. I love how the Japanese come up with their own version of "western" stuff or they call it Yoshoku.  It's basically a meatloaf made into a burger patty. It's sort of like a Salisbury Steak.  My theory is that in Japan, people don't eat a lot of beef and a meatloaf would either just be too big for the family or it wouldn't fit in the oven to cook since their's are so small. Typically, it is made with just ground beef and the regular stuff you'd put in a meatloaf and then served with a plain brown sauce made with soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce & ketchup.  I mentioned that ketchup is used in unusual ways in Japan in my post of Roast Chicken stuffed with Ketchup Fried Rice.  Every family has their own recipe for Hamburg Steak. I kicked it up a bit by using the meat I ground for my Green Chile Cheeseburgers and adding tofu to it to lighten it up a bit.

Post about grinding meat...

Post about ketchup being used in unusual ways...

Squeezing Moisture Out of Tofu...

When I add tofu to my meat mixture I squeeze out the water first.  I put it on a cutting board with paper towels then put more paper towels on top and then put something heavy on it like a saucepan filled with water and a pyrex measuring cup filled with water (I know, sounds complicated)  and  let it sit for about 30 mins.

Hamburg Steak Mixture...

I had ground my own meat when I made Green Chile Cheeseburgers the night before.  The blend was:  Beef Chuck, Beef Short Rib, Pork Butt & Bacon.  The bacon adds extra tastiness;o)  When I add tofu I don't use breadcrumbs in the mixture.  The mix was:  Ground Meat, Tofu, Eggs, Sauteed Onions & Garlic and seasonings including soy sauce, ajishio & Magic Dust.  I just noticed that I didn't put any milk in  I guess I really didn't need it since I didn't use breadcrumbs in it and I certainly did not miss it.


Here in the US it seems like they always say not to handle your meat too much when you make meatloaf and meatballs, but in Japan they mix it up alot!  I made spaghetti & meatballs once and had my sister-in-law from Japan mix it up for me and she mixed it so much that it almost seemed like she put air into it, so the meatballs were super fluffy and light!  She mixes it by hand like I do, but I can't get it as airy as she can;o)  I like adding the tofu to make it a little healthy, I'm definitely not known for my healthy cooking, but I try a little  You can't even tell that tofu is in it when it's done. It's about 50/50 tofu to meat...maybe just a tad more meat, so 60/40 :o)

Cooking in a Cast Iron Skillet...

I cook it about 3-4 mins on each side covered.  I don't want it over done because I put it back in the sauce to heat it through.

Mushroom Sauce...

After taking the "steaks" out of the pan, I sauted garlic, onion & mushrooms (I used Shimeji Mushrooms) then deglazed with a little bit of wine then added soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce, Japanese Worchestershire sauce,  ketchup & water.  You can add just about any flavoring that you like!  I then added a potato starch (Japanese use Potato Starch more than using Corn ) slurry to thicken it up and then added the "steaks" back in to warm them up.

Japanese Tonkatsu  & Worchestershire Sauce

Bulldog brand is the most common...  Love these sauces;o)

Japanese Version...

Hubby really enjoys this meal especially with the tofu added.  You can make the sauce a little bit more soupy if you like...

vs American Style Salisbury Steak ;o)

I made this about a year ago, see how similar it is to the Hamburg Steak...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pork Chops w/Scratched Potatoes AND my 2 Month Blog Anniversary :o)

Pork Chops & Scratched Potatoes

You know what they say, "Time flies when you are having fun...", well today is my 2 months anniversary since I started my blog.  It's hard to believe how fast the time has gone, it's seems like I've been doing this much longer!  It could be because I did start posting my food photos about a year and a half ago on Facebook.  I had registered on Blogger about 5 months ago, but never did anything with the blog. Then 2 months ago I couldn't sleep and was tossing and turning and thinking that maybe I really should start the blog.  I got up at 3 am and went on my Facebook account and I saw that one of my friends "liked" about 20 of my food photos at once and that is why I made my final decision to start the blog (thanks Blair!!).

I think I've improved my blog tons since I first started.  Especially my photos!  The first person I showed my blog to was my brother since he likes my food and is into photography.  His comment was "You need better photos and don't do a half assed job!" was very offended then, but now I completely I understand what he was talking about. Criticism is hard to receive most times, but it can be helpful at times:o)  You really do need a thick skin when writing a food blog since there is so much competition out there.  My thorn is Tastespotting & Foodgawker, they are such great sites, but I have such a love/hate relationship with them.  I think the people that have submitted know exactly what I'm talking about;o)  I'm so happy when I get accepted, but so miffed when I get rejected.  After the rejections I start mumbling and yelling at the computer and Hubby thinks I'm bonkers.  He just nods his head and smiles and acts like he agrees with  He's been the best with supporting me and my blog.  He still helps me a lot with taking photos and is not peeved even when the food is half cold by the time we sit down to eat it some nights!  

The upside of the foodie blogging world is that there are so many nice people out there!  I've already made some good friends from all over the world.  Everyone is so supportive of each other.  I've heard that their are some catty people out there, but fortunately, I  have not run across anybody like that yet.  Thank you, to all the super sweet people I've met so far!!

Pork Chops

I mentioned in my Roast Chicken post that I've been "dry brining" lately and is what I did with these pork chops.  I think with pork I need to stick with the wet brine.  They tasted good, but I think they would have been more tender if I had brined them in salt water.  I scored the fat, so the chops wouldn't curl up during the cooking process.

Scratching Yukon Gold Potatoes...

My hairdresser loves eating and cooking ALMOST as much as I do.  I think we spend half the time discussing dishes that we've made.  He is really great at baking which I am not and makes the best cookies during Christmas time.  I got the idea of "scratching" the potatoes from him.  He said that he learned this from an English friend of his.  I don't remember exactly how he said it was done, so I improvised...thanks, Mark!!  

I boiled the potatoes with the skin on for about 20 mins until I could easily poke a chopstick in it.  I didn't want to cook it too much because I'd be roasting them too.  After taking them out of the water I peeled them, cut them in half and then scratched them with a fork.  I then seasoned them and rubbed with olive oil and then roasted them for about 40 mins @400 degees in the toaster oven.  The scratching helps them to get crisper and more flavorful.  This is even better when you roast them with a chicken and you get all the luscious flavors from that!

Searing in Cast Iron Skillet...

I seared the pork chops in a hot skillet for a few minutes on each side...

Nicely Browned...

After turning the chops over, I seared the other side until it was browned then put the whole skillet in a 450 degree oven until the chops reached 135 degrees.  I then covered with foil and let it rest.

Scratched Potatoes


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dinner the Other Night...Roast Chicken Stuffed w/Ketchup Fried Rice :o)

Simple Roast Chicken

Who doesn't like Roast Chicken, right?  It's one of my Hubby's favorite meals.  He says that he could eat it everyday! I don't do anything fancy to it, I don't even truss the legs and stuff and I usually don't stuff it ;o)  My mother rarely made it for us when I was growing up, but when she did, it was such a treat!  She turned it a little Japanese by stuffing it with Ketchup Fried  I know that sounds a little odd and gross, but it is very tasty!  It seems that most of my favorite meals are comfort foods from my childhood.

I got this chicken from the Butcherettes that I've been raving about, Lindy & Grundy.  They are seriously the nicest ladies that you can ever meet!  This was only my second time at their store and they remembered me!  They even said they'd give me a tour of the meat locker next time I come in.  I know it doesn't sound that exciting, but I love getting tours of the kitchens at restaurants and I've never been in a butcher's meat locker and there,  I may get to see half of a steer!  The closest I've come was going inside the dry aging chamber of a steak place near us called Wolfgang's:o) Oh, I've also been in the meat locker at Lawry's restaurant too!  It's customer service like that that will keep me coming back!  It just makes you feel special when store owners and restaurant people remember that you've been there before.  It's sad, but such a rarity nowadays.

The chicken was only about 2 1/2 lbs, what chickens are supposed to be!!  Why is it that at the grocery store you can't find a chicken that is under 4 lbs??  Some are even 5 lbs, and they are frying chickens not roasters.  The taste of this was much nicer than a normal chicken too.  

Chicken w/Feet & Neck...

I was so happy to see that the feet were still attached when I got it home! I would have been ecstatic if the head was still attached  But I was happy with just the neck.  I love adding feet and neck when I make stock, it adds extra unctuousness to it!  The stock is even better when I use all the roasted bones too. I'm going to have a separate bag of bones in the freezer from L&G chickens...  I chopped up the other chicken and froze it.

Feet & Necks...

There's a place in Chinatown where they have live chickens and they slaughter them right there at their store.  Those chickens have both their feet & head!  When you take the chicken home, it's still body temperature warm;o)  It's just a little bit of a pain to drive down there for me, so I'm glad that L&G is only 15 mins away from me!


I don't usually brine my chickens in salt water anymore, it's much easier to "dry brine" it.  There's a restaurant called the Hitching Post II about an hour away from Santa Barbara that was featured in the movie SIDEWAYS, I actually talked about it in my very first food post on my blog.  I love their seasoning called "Magic Dust" and always have some on hand.  I buy their product, but add some more of my own seasonings  to it and use it on just about everything I make.  I gave some to my sister-in-law in Japan and now she can't live without it's that good;o)  

The chicken has the "Magic Dust", salt, fresh ground pepper, ajishio, & olive oil.  I try to season it at least a few hours ahead of time.

Ketchup Fried Rice

I know that this sounds very odd, but it's so good!  It's something that kids in Japan grow up with.  It's usually in a dish called "Omu Raisu"...Omelette Rice.  It's the fried rice that's covered in a thin egg omelette and served with ketchup on top.  The ketchup is "cooked", so the rice doesn't taste ketchupy. If you ever saw the Japanese movie TAMPOPO, they had the OmuRice in that.  It was the scene where the homeless man sneaks into a restaurant kitchen with a little boy to make him something to eat.

I'm not sure why they started using ketchup like that in Japan, but they also have another dish called Spaghetti Napolitan.  The simple version is spaghetti sauted w/ham or even sliced hot dogs with  It's really a child's dish, but I still crave it sometimes;o)  It's just not the same if you use real spaghetti sauce!

To make the fried rice I sauted onions & garlic w/salt, pepper, dashi powder, & ajishio.  After the onions softened, I added the rice and mixed that up then added just a little ketchup and stir-fried that then finished it off with soy sauce. I let this all cool down to room temp before stuffing it in the chicken.  I didn't want us to get salmonella poisoning or something;o)

Peeled Celery

I like to peel celery to get the stringy fibers off of it.

Tip for Celery...

I read this tip in Cook's Illustrated years ago to make celery last.  I wash and trim the celery (I don't peel until I'm going to use it) then place a paper towel on top of foil then wrap all the celery up in that and then put it into a large baggie and refrigerate it.  The celery can last up to two weeks this way!


I roasted celery, zucchini & carrots with the chicken.  It's seasoned with the same stuff as the chicken including the olive oil.  Since the chicken was so small it took less than 1 hour to make it.  I go by the color of the skin to see if it's done, but I do also use a temp probe;o)  

Roasted Veggies...

I added the veggies the last 30 mins of cooking, so it wouldn't be mushy.

Roast Chicken!

After the rice is cooked inside the chicken it gets the nice flavor of the chicken juices and doesn't look so orange;o) After stuffing it, I did use a prong to seal it up, so the rice wouldn't fall out while it was cooking.  I'll confess to my most favorite part of the chicken..the tail, it's called Bonbochi in Japanese and I think that American's sometimes call it the Pope's Nose;o)  What's your fav part??