Separate Egg Yolk with Plastic Bottle Trick

I subscribe to Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen blog and she posted this super cool trick on her site and I had to share with you all.

http://steamykitchen.com/23079-separate-egg-yolk-with-plastic-bottle-trick.html

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Balsamic Maple Glazed Pork Chops

Homemade birthday dinner for the fiance tonight.  Request: pork chops, asparagus and corn.  Now I usually marinate the pork with garlic, red onions, salt, pepper, olive oil and lime juice for about 30 minutes and then bake in the oven.  This time, I wanted to try making maple glazed pork chops like the one I had at the Playground.

I found Paula Dean’s recipe online. 

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 medium cut loin boneless pork chops
  • Ancho chilli powder
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Season pork chops with the ancho chilli and salt.  Cook on grill pan on medium high heat.  About 3 minutes each side.  Then reduce to medium heat to cook through.

In saucepan, reduce the 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  Add the chicken stock and the maple syrup.  Cook until liquid until syrupy.  Pour sauce over pork chops.  Serve.

Asparagus was roasted in oven at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Corn was canned and warmed up on the oven.

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My First Baking Class

Oh baking, how I loathe thee!  Wait that’s not true, I am terrified of you!  Until the day I signed up for my first baking class at the BlackMarket Bakery in Irvine, Ca.

I was walking through the Irvine Farmer’s Market near UCI one Saturday morning, when I came across the Blackmarket Bakery booth.  The aroma of butter and sugar swirled into my nostrils!  There were cakes, breads, croissants, cookies, bear claws, scones and tarts galore.  I bought an almond croissant and a cinnabon to enjoy at home later.  Ugh, they were to die for!  When I learn about a new food place, the first thing I do is Google their website.  I followed them on Twitter and then noticed their “Classes” tab.  Bingo!  As I scrolled through the classes I came across the Caramel class.   MMMMMM.  “Learn how to make Caramel Cream, Caramel Pecan Bars, Upside down Pineapple Cake, Chocolate Chunk Tarts, Caramel Popcorn, and Caramel Stoned Fruit.”  Click!  Signed up and ready to go.  Since I am a baking newbie, I had to ask my baking buddy to join me!

So the first thing I learned was that there are two ways to make caramel from scratch; the dry method the wet method.  Now each method is good for a different application.  The dry method was used for the Upside Down Pineapple Cake and the wet method was used for the Caramel Chocolate Chunk Tart.

Dry Method: is just melting sugar (white or brown) and butter together in a saucepan on medium heat.  Additional ingredients will be added according to specific recipe.

Wet Method:  pour water in the saucepan, pour sugar in the center of the water so no sugar gets on the walls of the pan.  DO NOT STIR!  Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Additional ingredients will be added according to specific recipe.

I am going to share with you all the recipe for the Caramel Cream.  This was so decadent I’m obsessed with it.  You can use this to drizzle over the desserts or even in your morning latte.

Caramel Cream:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Saucepan and heat proof spatula (we used a wooden spoon)

Pour butter and sugar in the saucepan over low heat.  Stir until the butter and sugar liquefy.  Cook until sugar becomes an amber color, about 7-10 minutes.  The sugar should look smooth and not grainy.

Once smooth, turn off heat, add half of cream.  The mixture will bubble furiously, be careful!  Once it has settled down, add rest of cream.  Stir till smooth.  Add Butter.

Below you will see a picture gallery of the Upside Down Pineapple Cakes, Caramel Pecan Bars and the Caramel Chocolate Chunk Tarts that we made.

Enjoy!

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Playground – Artist’s Village DTSA

Downtown Santa Ana Artist’s Village is a hidden Gem in the OC!  If you don’t know, you best start!

Playground Downtown Santa Ana is not the first restaurant I’ve been to in DTSA but it will be the first I review for my blog for the pure reason that the restaurant fucking rocks and the owner and staff are legit!

It was a Friday afternoon and I was harassing my fiance (like I always do) about what we were going to eat for dinner.  BTW, his number one pet peeve about me is from the moment I wake up to the moment I got to bed I always ask him, “Hun, what do you want to eat for breakfast….lunch….dinner?”  His response: “I just woke up, why the hell would I be thinking about lunch?” Or “I just ate lunch, there’s no way I’m thinking about dinner.”  My favorite: “Seriously, breakfast, that’s like 10 hours from now.”  So, when he was finally ready to talk about where we were going to eat he had a couple stipulations on where we could go.  He wanted to somewhere that was casual, low-key and eclectic.  The first place I thought of was Lola Gaspar in DTSA.  (Post coming soon.)  But we had been there already and I wanted to go somewhere new.  What to do in this situation?  Duh, you gotta Yelp it!  Playground came up as the #3 result (the first two options were Asian restaurants and my fiance was definitely not feeling that).  I click on the Playground, go to the menu, and the first item that catches my eye is ““No Silverware Allowed” Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken  14 pretty aggressive, not for wussies” Score!  My fiance LOVES fried chicken.  I tell him and he says lets do it.  I make a reservation online, through Yelp/Opentable for 7:30 pm that night.

Google maps takes us to a parking lot near the Yost Theater (Hip venue to watch musical acts, aka DJs, kinda like Avalon in Hollywood but smaller).  Playground is on the corner of 4th and Spurgeon.  As we approach the restaurant I’m already getting a good feeling.  When you walk in the first thing you notice is the black board wall behind the bar outlining the craft beers of the night, which I personally think is super cool and wouldn’t mind having one in my house, my fiance would beg to differ.  Then you see mostly high top communal tables and a few low tops scattered in the middle.  It was super packed when we arrived, buzzing with conversation.  I did notice the Dodgers game was on by the bar, which is a plus for my fiance because he is a huge baseball fan.  The host was going to sit us in the middle of a communal table (me on one side, him across from me), which normally I wouldn’t mind sitting at with friends, but for a date night I was looking for a more intimate setting.  I noticed there was bar like seating to the left and asked if we could sit there.  And as awesome as they are, the host sat us there.

The menu, which changes daily, highlighted the specials of the day on the front, and listed their plethora of choices of craft beer on the back.  As of now, the restaurant only serves wine and beer, which for me is not my ideal situation since I am a vodka soda type of girl.  So needing to adapt, I was looking for my go to wine; Sauvignon blanc.  They only sold it by the bottle and it was definitely not a bottle type of night.  I asked the waitress what would be a good substitute and she recommended the Amicus (by X Winery), Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros Chardonnay Reserve 2010.  It was smooth and floral.  I liked!  My fiance went for the Shandy (Beer, OJ and Ginger Ale).  Now it was time to order food!

Dinner:

  • Fried Cauliflower, Calabrian Chile Tapenade, Fresh Lemon
  • Di Steffano Burrata, Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange, Almond, Caramelized Fennel Dressing
  • Maple Glazed Pork Chop
  • Grilled Iberico De Bellota Cheek benedict
  • “No Silverware Allowed” Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken  14 pretty aggressive, not for wussies

Fried Cauliflower, Calabrian Chile Tapenade, Fresh Lemon:my fiance ordered this.  I had never had fried cauliflower before.  Oh boy was I surprised.  It tasted like chips with an awesome garlic topping.  It was so good, it really made me change my view about vegetables.

Di Steffano Burrata, Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange, Almond, Caramelized Fennel Dressing: this was my idea.  I love Burrata cheese and you just can’t go wrong with it.  Its a creamy mozzarella.  Anytime I see Burrata on the menu I have to order it, I absolutely just have to!  It was also served with some greens and it was a fresh and satisfying appetizer.

Maple Glazed Pork Chop: OMG, when this MOFO came out I was like you got to be kidding me.  This pork chop had to be at least 5 inches thick.  This is by far the best pork chop I have ever had.  Juicy, tender, and mouth watering.  The maple glaze was just damn sexy.  It was just sweet enough and left me with a lasting impression I will never forget.

Grilled Iberico De Bellota Cheek Benedict: this was all me again.  If I see something on the menu that looks eccentric or weird, I will order it!  Its cured pork, poached egg, homemade english muffin and some kind of cheese sauce.  The pork was amazing, it was salty and tender.  The dish as a whole was not my favorite.

“No Silverware Allowed” Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken  14 pretty aggressive, not for wussies: save the best for last!  I forgot to tell you guys, when we ordered, my fiance changed his mind and ordered the Maple Glazed Pork Chop.  And when my Pork Benedict came out, it was super small and I knew we had to order more food.  Cue the fried chicken.  I’m telling you, by the time the fried chicken came out we were so stuffed.  But there was no way I wasn’t trying the chicken.  I grab for the chicken and its still scorching hot and at the same time this pungent aroma wafts up my nostrils and stings a little.  “Whoa, that’s vinegar!”  I go for the thigh (yeah dark meat) and bite in.  AHHHH!  Juice drips from the corner of my mouth onto my jeans.  YUMMM!  A tangy sweet and sour flavor envelopes my taste buds.  MMMM I swallow in utter elation (wait maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud).  Oh well.  Yeah, I’m gonna say it.  This is the BEST FRIED CHICKEN I have ever eaten ever!  The skin was perfectly crispy, the meat was perfectly juicy and tender and the flavor was out of this world!

Conclusion:  the Playground rocks!  I’m coming back for Brunch.  I watched their video on their website and I fell more in love with the restaurant.  The owner Jason Quinn is the guy from the Lime Truck, another favorite of mine, seems like a down to earth, culinary bad ass!  Bravo!

Clockwise: Fried Cauliflower, Maple Glazed Pork Chop, Fried Chicken, Pork Benedict and Burrata

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Filipino Bistek

One of my favorite and easiest Filipino dishes to make is Bistek.  Which is really “Beef Steak” but shortened and condensed in Tagalog (Filipino Language).  Like I mentioned in my intro, I didn’t learn how to cook until after college.  And when I asked my Mom for this recipe, I was like “Really?  That’s super easy!”   There’s just 6 simple ingredients needed to make this simple and flavorful dish, which is served with white rice.

So you want to buy the most tender steak at the market so when you cook it, it won’t get hard and chewy.  Today I bought some sirloin steaks and cut them in uniformed strips about 1/2 inch thick.  For every pound of meat, marinate in 1/4 cup dark soy sauce and the juice of one whole lemon.  Also throw several dashes of black pepper.  You are supposed to marinate for 1 hour, but who has time for that after an 8 hour work day and 50 minute pilates class.  So I just marinate for 30 minutes, but I’m sure its better to do it for 1 hour.

Thinly slice a 1 medium sized white onion into rings.  Saute in 1 tablespoon of canola oil on low to medium heat.  You want to cook these guys slow until soft and almost caramelized.  Fun fact:  my eyes didn’t water when I cut the onions in rings but they usually do when I chop them.  I’m guessing not much of that “onion gas” is released.  Google it!  When the onions are soft and brown set them aside on a plate.

I absolutely LOVE garlic and pretty much every savory dish I make has garlic in it.  So for the next step mince 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Saute in 1 tablespoon of canola oil on medium heat.  Saute until just brown.  Be careful not to burn the garlic as it gets bitter when its burned.  This all should take about 1 minute.

After you have marinated the steak, add the steak to the pan with the garlic, no juice.  Saute for 2-3 minutes until just cooked through, don’t over cook, the meat will get chewy and hard.  Take the steak out and put in on a plate.  Add the remaining liquid from the marinade and bring to a boil so its all cooked through and there is not raw steak juice.

Add the steak back in the pan, add the onions on top, and viola!  Filipino Bistek.

Serve over white rice and ladel some of the sauce over the rice as well.  YUMM! My mouth is watering looking at this photo.  Pardon the amature plating, after the fact I noticed I probably shouldn’t have poured the sauce the way I did.  It could look prettier.

Final thoughts: I wanted to share with you all the type of rice cooker I use.  It’s not the typical Asian one that costs $200+ at Ranch 99.  I got this one at Target (My Happy Place), for $38.  http://www.target.com/p/aroma-stainless-steel-rice-cooker/-/A-11122763#?lnk=sc_qi_detailbutton  I like this rice cooker because it has settings for white rice, brown rice and for steaming.  Plus its way cheaper than the Asian ones and works just as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pound of steak
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • black pepper
  • canola oil

Mince garlic, cut onion into rings and cut steak into uniformed slices 1/2 inch thick.

Marinate steak in 1/4 cup soy sauce, juice of 1 lemon and pepper for 30-60 minutes.

Saute onions in 1 tablespoon of canola oil on low to medium heat until just caramelized.  Low and slow.  Set aside.

Saute garlic in 1 tablespoon canola oil until just brown.  Add steak and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Set steak aside.

Pour the steak marinade into pan, boil for 1 minute.  Turn off burner, add steak, add onions and serve over white rice.

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Krusteaz Pancakes with Farmer’s Market Berries

So there’s a really cool farmer’s makert on Saturdays by my house.  It’s in the In & Out parking lot across from UCI.  They have everything from fruits and veggies, meats, baked goods and arts and crafts.  I typically go by myself but I was able to drag my fiance yesterday with me! (Actually, I just kept on whining until he said yes to coming with me ;p)  Anyhow, we picked up some cool raspberries in colors I had never seen before, fresh strawberries and pluots!  What’s a pluot?  Its a plum and apricot.  Cool right?  Well this post is not about a recipe, I just wanted to share my cool pic of the Krusteaz pancakes I made with the fresh berries from the farmer’s market.  #foodporn

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Mexican food is one of my absolute favorites types of food and Chicken Enchiladas is my favorite dish.  When I first learned how to make chicken enchiladas, (I downloaded a recipe off of FoodNetwork.com) I said to myself, “This is a super messy dish to make!”  You had to dip the tortillas in the enchilada sauce, put the filling in the middle, then roll it up and put it in the casserole dish.  Trust me, it sounds easy but my kitchen looked like a war zone when I was done.  Also, my casserole dish could only hold 4 maybe 5 enchiladas, which ended up not being enough food for my fiance and I, and if you know me, I like to grub.  So I googled online other recipes for enchiladas and came across a chicken enchilada casserole recipe.  And I was like, BINGO!  Now I have a recipe that utilizes all the space in the casserole dish and makes enough servings for at least 2 days.  The following recipe has been adapted to some of my personal tastes; i.e. chillies, red onions and corn.

Here are the ingredients, I forgot the mexican shredded cheese, 2 cup size bag for the picture.  I used chicken breasts this time because thats all I had in the freezer but I prefer thighs because they are more flavorful and juicy.  Chicken breasts can tend to get dry when cooked.

Then you throw all the spices in a pot of boiling water and add the chicken and boil for about 25 minutes or until cooked all the way through.  While the chicken is boiling I start cutting up the red onion in thin slices and open up the chillies and corn cans.

I saute the onions first in a tablespoon of olive oil first until soft and a little caramelized.  Then throw in the chillies and corn and heat through.  This step is the one I made up because I like these veggies but you can add anything you want.

Once the chicken has cooked I chop it up in bite size pieces and then sprinkle the meat again with the spices.  One thing I learned from all the cooking shows I watch on TV is that you have to flavor as you go.  Flavor in layers.

Take a casserole dish, pour a layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom, put one layer of tortillas on top, then add a layer of chicken, layer of corn and chillies, then a layer of cheese, as seen above.  Spoon a thin layer of sauce on top and then repeat one more time.

After that second layer top off with tortillas, sauce and a bunch of cheese!  Doesn’t it look YUMMY?  Can’t wait to dig into this baby!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until cheese is gooey and sauce is bubbling.   Tick tock tick tock…

Ta Dah!  Mine looks a little burnt, I forgot my oven runs a little hot.  Set aside and let cool.  Serve with Cholula and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of chicken; thighs preferably
  • 1 package of tortillas; corn
  • 1 can of enchilada sauce
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of chopped chillies
  • 1 package of shredded mexican cheese
  • red onion
  • Cumin powder
  • Chipotle pepper powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chilli powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper

Boil chicken and spices for about 25 minutes or until cooked.

Saute veggies.

Chop up chicken into bite size pieces.

Layer ingredients into casserole dish: sauce, tortillas, chicken, veggies, cheese.  Repeat.  Top off with tortillas, sauce and cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Cool.  Serve!

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