Hello Domain Change

Its official. I bought my domain name. HOW EXCITING!! It kind of makes me feel really legit, and the hosting site I am using is a lot more sophisticated. Bear with me though; it is going to be a LONG transfer of blog posts.

This has just been a month of fabulous changes. I got the new phone which takes much better photos than my blackberry. I am still getting used to the touch screen typing though. Look at me with the fabulous technology upgrade!!!!

Now, back to work. I have a final in a week and I need to get to studying.

Hopefully you keep seeing the positive changes. Please feel free to leave any suggestions.

The Foundry on Melrose

 
There are a few places in LA that hold me back from trying something new, simply because I know I will always get a fabulous meal. The Foundry, by Eric Greenspan, is one of those places. 
 
Last night, I got some fabulous news. I began an internship with Lakersnation.com a few weeks ago doing editorial pieces for their blog. I was told yesterday that I got bumped up, and am now a news aggregator, who will write news stories for the blog EVERY DAY. Talk about intense pressure… oh ya… and I start Thursday. GAH! The point is, I deserved to go out to a fabulous dinner, and after looking for a few new places to try, Cellar 55 being booked (I haven’t been, and have wanted to for a long time), I went back to one of my first loves, The Foundry. 
 
I know what you are thinking; why eat the same food again? Ah ha!! Well let me tell you why last night was as exciting as my first night to eat at this wonderful place. The Foundry completely redid their menu. The only thing that remains is the Classics, most of which I have had, which leaves me to a whole 4/5 of a menu not tried. Mmmmm…. Another thing, the Foundry, even in the way it used to be, always changes it up. There are times you go, and they just start passing out samples of things they are testing in the kitchen. The “bread” you get at your table is always something new. Mini biscuits with honey butter. Puffed dough something or other. Last night, it was this delicious salted poppyseed thing that was a mix between a roll and a biscuit served simply with butter. It was divine.

The night started off with a cocktail. The Foundry has a great bar, with some inventive drinks I haven’t seen before. Being a whiskey drinker myself, I got this bourbon lemon ginger drink. It is called the Greenspan’s Reserve and had bourbon / lemon / ginger / angostura bitters. I had never heard of this particular kind of bitters, so I was intrigued. I looked it up, and apparently, instead of focusing on a citrus flavor like traditional bitters, it is bitters made of water, 45.6% alcohol, gentian root, and vegetable flavoring extracts by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. Whatever it was, it was delicious. The sugar is was rimmed with was sweet and tart at the same time, and the cocktail itself didn’t have an overpowering bourbon taste. What was also really cool was the ice; if you look closely, instead of using a handful of cubes of ice, The Foundry freezes a large block of ice and places it in the middle of the drink. With a lack of surface area, as opposed to many small cubes, the drink does not get watered down, while still keeping the entire drink cold. Delish!
 
The menu this time around is focused on small bites. The idea is for everyone to order a few things as one meal. This allows the diner to taste more and have an overall better culinary experience. My handsome date Jacob and I did just that… and boy was it delicious!
 
Charred “Wedge” Salad
bleu cheese / grape / olives / garlic
Foundry Tots
bleu cheese fondue / violet mustard
The Charred Wedge Salad was my favorite thing. I could have eaten 4 of those for dinner and called it a night. It was this warm, charred, explosion of flavor. The garlic was sliced so then and then crisped up. The blue cheese was sensational. Everything just went so well together. So well in fact, I took a piece of my poppy roll… and sopped up all the leftover juices.  The tater tots were  like little clouds of potato air. Unlike any tot I have ever eaten. The lavender mustard it came with was divine, but the blue cheese fondue could have been done without. It really didn’t add much except for heavy flavor on heavy flavor.
 
Fried Chicken
butternut squash waffles / maple bourbon syrup
 
Foundry Burger
winter condiments / Hawaiian bread / onion rings
 
The only complaint I had that night was with the fried chicken. I love Eric Greenspan, but he has got to improve this dish. The problem was, the breading just didn’t stick. It tasted delicious, but it all fell off the chicken, leaving a rubbery piece of skin underneath. The Foundry needs to either do away with the skin, and figure out how to stick that coating, or to make sure that skin gets crispy and the breading does not fall off. It was not appetizing biting into crisp crust, rubbery skin, and then chicken. The flavor though, was very good. I liked the spice on the breading, the maple syrup was delicious, and the waffles were crisp little deserts. Yum!
 
The Foundry Burger is a classic for a reason. The meat is exceptional. Its served on Hawaiian bread (can you say best idea ever), has a bacon jam, comes with winder condiments (onion compote of some sort), and is topped with onion rings. PLUS it has this special aoili mayo, little cornichon pickles and some other accoutrements. It brings a smile to Jacob’s face every time he enjoys it and I have to say it is one of my favorite burgers. The flavor just is married so well, AND, the meat is so good, I don’t even care if it is pink in the middle! Now that is saying something.
 
Earl Grey Creme Brulee
candied lemon / honey scones
Last but not least, we shared this little Earl Grey Creme Brulee. It was a close call though, because the other two deserts where Sour Cherry Beignets (almond cherry marmalade) and Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding (banana / peanut butter sauce). Tell me your mouth is not watering right now. Mine was, but I am a creme brulee sucker, and had to take the plunge. I didn’t care for the honey scone too much; I didn’t think it needed to be there. But the creme brulee itself was rich with earl grey flavor and had that delicious crust. My favorite part may have been the candied lemon… honestly… I want to spinkle those little suckers on a lot of things. Like, toast with butter and candied lemon? Eric Greenspan, get on it!!
 
Note: I was a little sad about one thing; the Chocolate Soup. This used to be one of my favorite deserts in LA, and it is no longer on The Foundry menu. My birthday is coming up… and I wonder if Mr. Greenspan would make it for me. I mean, he did give the birthday girl at the table next to us a free grilled cheese sandwich (this is not ANY grilled cheese… it is Grilled Cheese on raisin bread with apricot caper puree and tallegio. Oh and you can add short ribs too if you want). I would also take a birthday girl grilled cheese, don’t get me wrong, but… where is my beloved Chocolate Soup??
 
The Foundry On Melrose on Urbanspoon

Guinness Beer Bread with Scallion Cream Cheese

One of my favorite St. Patty’s Day treats is the Guinness Chocolate Cake I make. A number of people in my office this year gave up sweets for Lent, so I had to come up with something else to treat them. Back in college, my old roommate showed me how to make beer bread for the first time and it was this crusty, hoppy delicious bread. How perfect! To keep up with the Irish theme, I opted to use Guinness for my beer and include some Cheddar. The one thing that was missing was the green… Ah ha! A spread…. I am thinking….Cream Cheese with scallions! Overall, a perfect breakfast treat for my office, and a perfect treat for your St. Patty’s Day celebrations!

This bread is so simple. Essentially, you have 3 steps. Dry ingredients. Add Guinness. Add cheese. That’s it. Well, and baking it… but I guess that is a given.

*Guinness can be an intense beer, so I looked up a recipe to make sure I was not over doing the flavor. The first time I made beer bread, it was with a Bud Light. My recipe is an adaptation of The Kitchn’s Cheddar and Chive Guinness Bread.*

Bread
4 1/8 cups flour
6 tbs granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbs baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
18 ounces Guinness
1 cup grated Irish Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup melted butter

Spread
2, 8oz packages cream cheese
5-7 stalks green onion


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. I am using a mixer, but this is easy enough to do by hand. First, place your flour in a bowl. Add the sugar, baking powder, and salt to the flour and mix well to incorporate all the dry ingredients.

The next step is to just add the Guinness. I had 14 ounce cans, so I added a whole can and then a little extra to get to the full 18 ounces of beer needed.

You should immediately start to see your dough forming.

Grate a cup of Irish Cheddar cheese. Add about 3/4 of it to the bread dough.

The cheese won’t be prominent in the final product, ie… you won’t really see it. But what it does is add another dimension of flavor, and balance out the Guinness. Once the dough is completed, place inside a well buttered loaf pan, about 9 x 4.5in.

My favorite part about beer bread… is that you top it with butter. MELTED BUTTER! Yum. It gives it this insane buttery top crust that just completely compliments the dense hoppy inside of the bread. Your next step is to melt 1/4 cup of butter and pour it over the top of the bread.

Once you have successfully covered your loaf in butter, stick it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

When 30 minutes has gone by, remove the bread and place the rest of the cheese on top of it. I kind of like to place it in a nice thick line down the middle. Put it back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.

When the 20 minutes is up, your bread is done! Pull it out of the baking pan and set it on a rack to cool. The outer crust should give you the ability to pull the bread out of the pan without breaking it apart.

Now on to the cream cheese. This is super simple. First, you need to clean and chop your stalks of green onions. Cut them into little uniform rounds. Remember to cut off the hairy looking ends of the onions, using only the rest of the white part and greens all the way up until about an inch from the end.

Next, take the cream cheese and place it in a bowl. Add the scallions and thoroughly mix them together.

Place it in a pretty bowl and serve it next to your bread.

What I usually do is cut off slices of the bread, toast it, and then add the cream cheese…. YUM!!

mmmmmmmm looks like someone got to my bread before I did ;)

Green Spinach Smoothie

Yes… I am pureeing vegetables. And drinking them. And I LOVE IT!

I have to admit, I am stealing this recipe from my dad. He started a whole bunch of smoothies and other health conscious items for the yoga-pant-wearing-but-I-never-work out- moms in Los Angeles for his cafe. I’ve mentioned it before, but I am going to hawk it again. Its called Cafe Midi and its so good. The green smoothie he makes though, is phenominal. I make it and drink it at least 2 times a week. And when you aren’t feeling quiet yourself, this is what you need to drink.

1 cup ice
1 banana
1 1/2 cups spinach (baby spinach works best)
1 cup lemonade (not from concentrate)

This recipe is simple… throw it all in the blender. Well sort of. Place a whole banana into the bottom of your blender.


Next, throw in the ice.

Add the spinach on top of the ice and banana. It looks like a lot, but trust me its not overwhelming.

Lastly, pour over the lemonade.

Turn the blender on medium and get the ice moving. Once the ice is ground up a bit, shake the blender to start bringing everything else down towards the blade. Blend until everything is incorporated and you see a smooth stream of liquid repeatedly flowing in and out of the blades and through the blender. This should be creamy.

Make one of these, and go on a hike. You will feel exhilarated. Spring is upon us, summer is coming up, and I am sure you work hard enough. Treat yourself, and treat your body. I understand you might be skeptical since spinach is a key factor to this drink. But don’t be. The lemonade and the banana completely balance it out. Happy body, Happy mind, Happy life :)

NOTE: I intern for this amazing website called fitnesscenter.com. If you are into staying healthy, getting healthier, finding out about diets, about different kind of workouts… anything related to your body, you need to sign up for this site. I also intern for MIT Fitness USA, and we host FREE mixed intensive training classes in LA four times a week. If you are interested, please email me at thingsimakeinmykitchen.com or leave a comment.

Little punk got tired. Don’t worry, he’s a 10 pound weight :)

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Pasta Bake

Its that time again. Where I show you what delicious things you can make from stuff laying around in your pantry. Honestly, this is my favorite thing to do. I love puzzles… in fact… I played chess extensively growing up. Google me; you will find my Chess Federation records. That is right; number one nerd.

“Pantry Shopping” as I like to call it is taking things you have laying around, and getting inventive. For me, when I shop, I buy certain staples that I like to eat a lot. I imagine that you do much of the same. But, sometimes I see something funky, something I haven’t tried before, and I buy it. Eventually, I use it and most of the time its when I am Pantry Shopping. This post is a also leftover reinvention because I had chicken breast and roasted vegetables from my dad’s cafe leftover.

2 cooked chicken breasts (mine were grilled)
3 cups roasted vegetables
500 g dry pasta
1 carton/ can condensed cream of mushroom soup
12 ounces goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

The first thing to a pasta bake is to get the pasta going. You want to cook it to almost done. This is because you are baking it in a sauce in the oven, which will further cook the pasta. The last thing you want is mushy grains. Yuck.


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Next, dice up your chicken.I tend to like large chunks to ensure it stays moist in the bake, and also to make this meal hearty.

Get out a deep pan and place the chicken inside of it. You want something deep to help ensure that your chicken and vegetables dry out. You want a crisp top, not a crisp meal.

Next, its time to start on the vegetables. You can 100% use raw vegetables in this that you saute. I happened to have a bunch of roasted vegetables from my dad.

My bevy of veggies included tomatoes, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, and leeks. I also sweated down some strips of onions, because…well… you should know by now… I LOVE onions! Just like the chicken, we want chunks of vegetables in this dish. I just rough chopped everything.

Put some olive oil in a big pan and turn it to medium high. Throw all the vegetables in a pan to get them hot and to start marinating all their flavors. You should cook them for about 5 minutes, stirring the veggies every so often. Also, make sure you are watching your pasta! Drain it whenever it is almost completely done, but has a little bite.

I started with the onions for a few minutes, as they were not roasted down like the rest of the vegetables.

While the vegetables are simmering, its time to add the cream of mushroom soup as a base to the chicken. This pasta is not super saucy. You will see later on, with the topping of the goat cheese, when you take a scoop of pasta, the mixture of the mushroom base and the goat cheese make a creamy sauce around the pasta. For this step, follow the directions on the box/can. This soup calls for adding one cup of equal parts water. Pour the soup and the water over the chicken, and stir.

Next, add the vegetables. Stir all the elements together.

Look at all the great colors using a variety of vegetables creates!

Hopefully by now, your pasta is complete. Make sure it is fully drained and then add it to the chicken and vegetable mixture.

Stir it around until everything is incorporated. make sure you have bits of chicken and veggies mixed in with all the pasta noodles for a delicious bite every time.

Taste it. Add salt and pepper if needed. Lastly, top the pan with chunks of goat cheese. Bake it for 25 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

Once the pasta comes out, It is time to eat! Scoop some out, stir around the goat cheese to create a creamy sauce for the pasta, and dig in. Enjoy! :)

Sidenote…. please appreciate this oober cute sudy distraction I have been having the past few days. Its hard to focus on work when you have a plump ball of warmth snuggling up to you.

Spicy Black Bean Tex Mex Pizza

Summer is coming, meaning more sun, beach, and barbeques. In anticipation of the bright weather we are about to have, I bring you my vegetarian Tex Mex pizza.

1 pizza crust
1 can black beans (I like to get a can of cuban style black beans)
2 tbs BBQ sauce
1 tbs minced garlic
1/4 cup corn kernels
1/4 a red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, sliced into strips
1 jalapeno
12 ounces Mexican Cheese blend

To start, its important to let your pizza crust sit in the counter and rise. Once it has had time to rise a bit, place cornmeal on your pizza stone and work your crust into a circular shape. Place the crust on the stone, ready to add the toppings. Our base for this pizza is the black bean mixture. First, pour the beans out of the can into a bowl and crush them.

Next, add the BBQ sauce and the minced garlic.

Mix the ingredients together and set aside. Next, place the corn in a bowl.

Cut up the onion and tomatoes (I had heirlooms which I used for their awesome yellow color) and place them over the corn in the bowl.

For the jalapeno, dice it up WITH THE SEEDS. For this pizza, you want the heat. That’s what gives the pizza its heat. If you are worried about it being too hot, its not. The heat is spread out between so many layers of flavor there isn’t an overwhelmingly hot bite.

Add the jalapenos on top of the other vegetables, and mix the 4 ingredients all together.

Now its time to start building the pizza. Add the black bean base and cover the entire pizza crust with it.

Next, add about 3/4 of the cheese. I got a Pepper Jack, Colby, Munster blend that worked perfectly for this pizza.

Put the vegetable mixture on top of  the pizza, spreading each component around. Add the remaining cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 13 minutes. Make sure the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

For the BBQ I went to that night, I put the pizza into little square pieces for everyone to manage. Hopefully this pizza is a hit at your next BBQ. Enjoy :)