Showing posts with label dinner party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dinner party. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style Porchestra - A Symphony of Swine

Porchestra - A Symphony of Swine

Last week, gluttony was in effect. We had some guests over to film a documentary they are working on based on food of course. Instead of meeting at a restaurant, we invited them over for dinner. We figured it would be most organic and comforting for us to do this at home, since we enjoy cooking. Subject of the dinner was my favorite meat: pork. I was stoked to do a whole dinner based on one theme. It was quite interesting running back and forth between the kitchen and dining room, answering questions and cooking. I felt like a Jamaican with 9 jobs.

For an animal that spends most of its days wallowing in mud, taking in the sun with no source of employment, you would regard the pig as a fruitless mass. But, man, it's lovely how much good food is yielded from this animal.

Porchestra Menu

Porchestra Table

Porchestra Pig Nipples

Crispy Braised Pork Bellies with Cannellini Beans & Quail Egg
With a box of Cracker Jacks, you never know what surprise gift you'll receive. Same thing applies when you buy a package of pork bellies... with the inclusion of fully intact nipples. When you open a package of pork bellies and see this, you can't help but stop in your tracks and take a closer look. The resemblance between pork flesh and human flesh can be somewhat uncanny if you're a Caucasian male haha. But do the courteous thing and grab some scissors for your guests. There's nothing more jarring than seeing a braised nipple. Jeni joked that this could be the new appetizer of haute dining as long as you come up with a new name like... Pork Pez?

Porchestra Braised Pork Belly Le Creuset Pot

There's nothing I like cooking more with than my Le Creuset dutch oven that I got for a freaking steal at Tuesday Morning many years back. These pots are supposed to last longer than your lifetime, as I hope my grandchildren will find a good use for it besides heating up Prego sauce or making Korean Kimchi ramen. These pots can handle 550° in the oven and will heat your food evenly. I've never made a bad braised dish with this pot. Anyway, I did a slow 200° braise for 3-4 hours for the pork belly using the common ingredients – mire poix, chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, salt and peppercorns. I also included my new fave chili pepper... aji, which is an Argentine spice used for things like empanadas.

Porchestra Braised Pork Belly Fat

Pork doesn't taste good for no reason. After the braise, you'll want to refridgerate it overnight. Remove the fat once it has coagulated. Or don't. *impish grin*

Porchestra Quail Eggs

I've been dying to fry a quail egg sunny-side up and apply it to some dish. This couldn't be a more perfect dish to make it with. It's just as enjoyable raw as it is cooked. I am trying really really really hard not to use the "c" word so i'll misspell it. Key-yoot.

Porchestra Braised Pork Belly with Quail Eggs & Cannellini Beans

Before serving the braised pork belly, I seared it fat-side down in a skillet for a good 7-10 mins so that it would crisp up a little. For the cannellini beans, I sautéed them with a little butter, cinnamon, red apples and chicken broth. Although a more hearty dish, it made sense to my stomach.

Porchestra Bacon-fat Seared Scallops

Bacon-Fat Seared Scallops & Shrimp with Greens
As I cooked the scallops and shrimp, I forgot that I had cooked off all the bacon for something you'll see in a bit. One thing I always do, JUST IN CASE, is reserve the bacon fat as you'll never know what you'll be needing it for. I added a few tablespoons of it to the skillet and the oil started popping as though it was an applause for a good deed done by me.

Porchestra Bacon-Fat Seared Scallops

Mmm, bacon-flavored seafood. There's something so wrong about pairing two different animals from surf and turf, but yet it tastes so right. How would you like to know that your destiny puts you in a skillet with a pig, shrimp and vegetables? Weird.

Porchestra Asparagus

To achieve super-green vegetables, according to Chef Thomas Keller, you have to get your watering boiling super high and adding a LOT of salt to the water. I think for these asparagus spears, I probably dumped in one huge handful. You won't taste too much salt afterwards because you have to shock the vegetables in ice water, which also rinses the salt for you.

Porchestra House Cured Pork Chops Zuni Cafe Style

Zuni Cafe House-Cured Pork Chops with Prosciutto Asparagus and Creme Fraiche Mustard
Probably one of our top five cookbooks, the pork chops from Zuni Cafe are killer – and very simple to cure.

For 4 pork chops (10 to 11z each and 1-1/4" thick), or 2 tenderloins (about 1 pound each) A few crumbled bay leaves dried chiles crushed juniper berries (optional) 5 cups room temp. water 6 tbsp. sugar 3 tbsp. salt (a little more if using kosher salt)

Pat these guys dry after marinating for 2 days and sear them on high heat in a skillet about 3-4 minutes each side, depending on the thickness. For the asparagus, simply sauté them in a little butter, olive oil and S&P. Wrap some prosciutto around a bunch of spears and top it with some of the creme fraiche & mustard if you like. To make the sauce, simply add whole grain mustard to some creme fraiche with S&P to taste and some lemon juice. I added a little smoked paprika and ají chili pepper to it. So simple and good.

Porchestra Bacon Ice Cream

Scoops' Bacon-Infused Salt & Caramel Ice Cream
Well Tai Kim didn't actually offer that flavor that day, so we just made our own bacon ice cream for dessert. Jeni asked Mr. Kim what would go best with bacon and he suggested his Salt & Caramel. I fried some bacon and soaked up all the fat with paper towels. I then cut the bacon into small bits and threw it in the ice cream. Mixed it around and froze it again. My god this was so good. I felt guilty, but it was fabulous - especially with the bacon garnish ha.

After about 4 hours of eating and talking about food, we had concluded our evening. Hopefully our filmmaker friends knew that we didn't 'act' or anything because this what a usual dinner party at our place entails. Sometimes, we get people passed out on the couch like Thanksgiving.

A few days later, we forgot that we were cooking Easter lunch. Easter means one thing... ham. And ham means more pork consumption for us. Sure, why not. We had thought about doing an all-rabbit meal but it would have been too expensive. Maybe even too cruel ha.

We lucked out and found a 9-lb Farmer John ham for only SIX DOLLARS at Ralph's. Score.

Porchestra Ham Basting

Jeni found a great recipe off Epicurious for the glaze. I highly recommend it if you want to veer away from the standard pineapple slice, red cherry and clove-style ham that just feels soooooo antiquated. I can see that on the cover of every food magazine during the 80s. Ugh.

Porchestra Glazed Ham

Porchestra Easter Lunch

Porchestra Gruyère Thyme Gougères by Tartine Bakery

Jeni has been on a baking frenzy and produced these tasty pastries from Tartine Bakery. This was definitely an overload on pork and hope everyone had a good Easter. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Pizza Party for My Nephew & Pizza Snob Friends

Taylor's First Pizza

As a kid growing up, I looked forward to Sundays when the Times would be delivered to our doorstep. I'd get up and run to the door and grab the heap of freshly ink-pressed paper and toss it onto the living room floor. I would then grab scissors and hastily cut the bra and thong off the newspaper with two quick snips. And on my hands and knees, I would quickly shuffle through the stack like a college intern in a file cabinet on a busy day. There it was. Exactly what I was looking for.

No, it wasn't the comics.

Coupons. Pizza coupons.

During that time, the powerhouse pizza companies were Domino's, Pizza Hut and Little Caesar's and were constantly offering deals with soda, an extra pie for X amount of dollars or some weird culinary invention. But it was Little Caesar's who kept it real. For $15, you could get TWO pizzas with TWO toppings, while the other two offered ONE pizza for nearly the same price. Coming from a frugal, Chinese family, we'd be lucky to even get the $15 deal. Domino's and Pizza Hut was for the rich... and plus, they make such damn greasy food. I still refuse to eat that stuff to this day. But Little Caesar's? Yes please! Anyway, it was easier to push a cow off the road than it was to convince my parents to buy us pizza. They just didn't see the point of bread, cheese and sauce cut into triangles? Why? For $15, they could get a whole roasted duck at the Sam Woo bbq zoo. They could buy 7 of those face-sun visors if they made them back then. Thank god they didn't. Sometimes, we'd get those cardboard-like pizzas that came wrapped and stacked on top of each other. One look at it and you knew that it wasn't going to be very good.

My sister and I devised a plan to obtain more pizzas... simply by being on our best behavior. We showed homework, cleaned the house up every chance we could and blew MAJOR smoke up their asses. Most of the time, we failed. But for every 15 tries, we got our pizza. And it was heaven. For some reason, my story wasn't far off from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. We weren't very wealthy but we had hopes and dreams... of getting pizza. I still remember what it was like holding $15 buck in my pocket and happily crossing the street. The all-too-familiar sign with the cartoon Greek guy would widen my eyes. I could see the oompa-loompas walking back n' forth behind the counter processing goodness. A smile cracked on my face and wielding that fabulous coupon that would grant me access into delicious cheesiness. If you remember, Little Caesar's used to package their double goodness on a cardboard and large white 'envelope'... much like Charlie's winning ticket in the chocolate bar. A simple tear in the 'envelope', and wafts of goodness seaped into your nose. Those days are long gone. Now Little Caesars pack their pizzas in boxes and are selling two types of pizzas for $5 each. You've seen their human billboards... spinning and tossing their signs on the corner of the street. Definitely not the same.

I still love pizza to this day, but really, who doesn't? My favorites being Fat Slice in Norcal, Abbot's in Venice Beach and Greco's on the corner of Hollywood & Cahuenga. And for a frozen brand, I absolutely love the 5 for $5 Jeno's pizza – my official poor-college-guy staple, amongst Del Taco and Sriracha-sauce hot dogs. But the more you cook, the more you stray away from eating out and I definitely can't eat the pizza from Domino's and Pizza Hut. The sight of that greasy bread and orange puddle of oil laying on top... man. It's inevitable that you'll try making your own pizza.

Finally, after a long hiatus, I got called for a catering gig that requires making pizza in a woodfire oven. I freaked because (1) I cannot stand baking and (2) how the hell do I work a woodfire oven. Why do I hate baking? Because it basically requires a lot of patience, standing around and precise measurements. Once you've done exactly what the book tells you to do, you loiter in the kitchen area. I prefer cooking savory food because it triggers the human senses and requires full attention. I see it as a high maintenace girl that needs love, care, attention, gifts, massages and affection. If something's not right, she'll react and blow up. Such is the case with sauces that break... meat that is overcooked. Very temperamental but I love it.

J and I borrowed her mom's Kitchen Aid mixer and one look at that thing ensures that your food will be good. Tokyoastrogirl sent me a link to a recipe by Heidi of 101 Cookbook's, who now has her first published cookbook. (Congrats to her on a huge achievement – she deserves it). I decided to throw a pizzafest slash practice for the catering event, and to celebrate my nephew's first birthday. Since he has four beaver teeth coming out, he'd be able to eat his first pizza. I tried out the recipe Heidi used and man, this was some GOOD pizza dough. My mom, who never let us have pizza, loved the bread. J called me 30 mins after she tried it, and asked that I save some dough for her. I myself hate eating pizza crust, but couldn't resist. So far so good. The best way to find out if this pizza was really good was to call on my friends ME & EP. These two are pizza snobs slash whores. They eat pizza once a week. They've DRIVEN to the famous Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix TWICE, where people wait for 2 hours in line to get in to this spot. I've seen the photos of their pizza and wow, amazing. If you like the pizza at Batali & Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza, you'll like Pizzeria Bianco because the head chef, Chef Matt Molina, was trained in that same restaurant.

Australia-looking Pizza

These hairy arms are not mine. They belong to my friend ME. Here ME is rolling the dough out for our first pizza. A great dinner party to have is a pizza party, where you buy a bunch of pizza toppings and let everyone make his own pizza. I watched as he rolled the dough, and he looked very happy. Almost with that perverted, sexual offender look. Don't worry if your dough starts to look like Australia like it does in the photo, simply roll it back into a ball and start over. It's a good thing also to roll a few times because you want air to get in there to add some puffiness to the pizza.

Baby Cheese Pizza

Baby Cheese Pizza
For the birthday boy, my sister and I made him a 6" pizza with delicious marinara and mozzarella cheese on it. We then sliced the pizza into 1/2" x 1/2" cubes and laid them out on his baby chair (pictured above). He went to town on it and gobbled it up in about 7 minutes. This pizza reminded me of larger Bagel Bites and was very very fun to make.

Pepperoni Pizza

ME's Double Pepperoni Pizza
First ME laid out 5-6 pepperoni slices on the cheese. I looked at him with a puzzled look. C'mon man, I thought you were a pizza whore... double down on it! He pretty much covered the whole pizza up w/ pepperoni... not a chance for the bread to see the light of day. A classic, delicious pizza!

Marguerite Pizza

My Sister's Marguerite Pizza
She likes simple food and this pizza is a classic representation of food that doesn't need to be complicated. The Italians first devised this pizza as a way to promot patriotism. A marguerite consists of only red sauce, white cheese and green basil... the 3 colors in the Italian flag. I cut the slices of tomato rather thin because 10 minutes in the oven really doesn't cook the tomato fully. Everyone loved this.

Sausage & Zuccini Pizza

Spinach & Fontina Sausage with Zuccini and Red Onions
My favorite pizza has to be a veggie pizza, but the consensus insisted on adding sausage to this pizza. You can use any kind of sausage, it'll taste perfectly fine. I did a quick sauté with the zuccini and added garlic and smoked paprika. This combination was very good.

Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza

Portobello & White Truffle Oil Pizza
I made this for the client and she absolutely loved it. I quickly sautéed the portobello mushrooms in garlic and thyme and added it to the pizza. After it came out, I lightly drizzled some fantastic White Truffle oil. If you plan to buy White Truffle oil, try to fork out the money for a pure bottle of truffle oil, not the truffle-infused olive oil crap you see at Trader Joe's. If you don't use it quickly enough, the oil goes bad and tastes nasty. For many this was the 2nd favorite.

Heirloom, Basil & Burrata Cheese Pizza

Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil & Burrata Cheese Pizza
I think for this election, I'm not voting for Hillary, Obama nor Edwards, I'm voting for Burrata Cheese for President. This stuff is stellar. Tokyoastrogirl gave me the idea for this and I really have to say THANK YOU. The combination of sweet, juicy heirlooms, fragrant basil and soft & milky burrata is heavenly. After I baked the pizza, I dropped globs of the burrata cheese (it comes in a water-filled tub, in some sort of 'casing') all over. I watched as it melted slightly on the surface. Beauty. This was everyone's favorite and definitely mine.

A note to those that wanna try out the pizza recipe. With exception to the Baby Cheese and Pepperoni pizzas, I simply used olive oil on the dough as a 'sauce' base. I'm not much of a tomato sauce person, so I refrained from using it – and it turned out wonderful. Always salt and pepper the pizza after you've added your toppings. You can even add some more olive oil on top of the pizza before you bake it. Pizzas were baked for about 12 minutes, at 450 degrees without a baking stone. I've heard a baking stone does wonders, so I'll try that next.

Here's the link to Heidi's tasty recipe again. Happy belated to my little nephew, you rock. And thanks to everyone for reading.

Eat Drink Style First Anniversary with Oishii Eats

Work has been nuts. And moving during this hectic month of work has proved that thing's couldn't be worse. But my highlight in July was cooking a dinner for our anniversary. I can't get into it, so I'll let J do the talking, or writing, that is. Congratulations J. This has been a frustrating yet rewarding year, and I thank you for being by my side.

***Note. If you start any more petty wars, like whether the overall tone of my photos is too yellow, your next anniversary dinner will be inspired by whatever coupons I find. Hehe.

Hama Hama Oysters with Mignonette

Crab Endive Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Shrimp Ravioli with Salmon Roe and Mushroom Cream Reduction

Maine Lobster Crepe with Pancetta & Vanilla Bean Sauce

New Zealand Lamb Ribs with Lentil Quenelle and Mango Relish

Seared Duck Breast with Raspberry Guwerztraminer Reduction

Eat Drink Style Summer Supper: Braised Short Ribs, Seared Salmon Steak, Spot Shrimp and Tuna Tartare

Summer Supper

The summer heat is here and automatically converts J's 400 sq. ft studio into a 375 pre-heated oven. When I cook, I need to slap on my headband not because I'm a posing, rap-star or deviant NBA star – it IS ridiculously hot in her kitchen. For me, the dynamics of a meal evolve once you move to the outdoors, even if it's in a courtyard, where everyone can peek through the curtains at you or overhear anything said. It's time to eat outside.

This occasion was fitted perfectly for a post-poned birthday like a baby blue prom dress on a high school junior. We had missed my good friend's wife's bday and decided to make it up with a nice 4-course dinner. I had known LL since we were in 2nd grade, and only grew stronger in our friendship through the years. He ended up wedding his highschool sweetheart after nearly 11 years of screaming each other's heads off, tears, abrupt hangups on the phone – you know, the true acts of love.

They came over on a weekday to see the table already set with more cheese that J had hand-selected at the Silverlake Cheese store. As they sat outside munching on the cheese, they didn't see the headband-bearing guy running amok like Remy of Ratatouille. But in the end, it's always worth it to see a smile on anyone's face, especially if it's two people that mean a lot to you. After all, cooking for a friend is the tastiest way to say... "you're not bad, i like you guys."

Table Setting

The Setting
Cheese from the Silverlake Cheese store. Cheese platter from Plates from Crate & Barrel. And a plastic folding table from Costco. Pure class, I know. Call it a form of membership rewards.

Tuna Tartare with Apples, Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil

Tuna Tartare
I must have raw fish in any meal. I do this over and over again because it's simple and tasty. No need to suffer any burns or missing digits with this appetizer. A few drops of soy sauce, fresh apples and a dash of sesame oil and you have a take on a famous hawaiian poké dish.

Spot Shrimp with Tomato Confit

Spot Prawns in Tomato Confit
For the second course, we made some delicious spot prawns. This comes from the wonderful "Sunday Suppers" cookbook by LA chef, Suzanne Goin. After J made this for dinner one night, this one was tagging along with us for a while. After roasting some tomatoes in some garlic, basil and olive oil, they are then puréed and used a dipping sauce for large, succulent spot prawns and baguette bread.

Roasted Tomatoes

Roasting Tomatoes
Tomatoes getting ready for a culinary MRI. You can't hear them, but they are screaming in joy.

Seared Salmon Steak with Artichokes and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Seared Salmon Steak in Thai Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Sautéed Artichokes
Third course. This was a favorite in the restaurant I used to work in. Salmon is seared skin-on and cooked to a medium consistency. The best part of the dish is actually the crispy salmon skin. The restaurant used piquillo peppers and chicken stock for the sauce. I did a take on it and roasted some red peppers and added Sriracha chili garlic sauce, créme fraîche, stock and butter. This was tasty, leaving a slight spice kick on the tongue. My friends ended up sopping up the rest of the sauce with the baguettes.

Braised Short Ribs with Daikon & Asparagus

Braised Sichuan Red Peppercorn Short Ribs, Daikon & Asparagus
For the main course, we served up a dish that J and I had at the wonderful Sona restaurant in West Hollywood. If you have not experienced David Myers' fine cuisine, close your laptop and go – I love it. I put it up there in my favorites along with Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 in New York. They are both masters of the kitchen. If you go into the restroom of Sona, you'll see congratulatory letters written to Chef Myers from notable-chefs like Daniel Boulud, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller and Tom Collicchio of Top Chef (recipient of FIVE James Beard awards). Anyway, I took his braised short rib dish and added some Chinese flavor to it by searing them in sichuan peppercorn/salt mixture. Thanks to the talented Jaden of Steamy Kitchen for her inspirational posting on flavoring salts. I braised the ribs in red wine, a mire poix, red peppercorns, ginger, soy sauce and a little bit of sesame oil. These turned out great. I would do this again and shred the beef for asian style tacos.

Scoops Ice Cream

Scoops Again!
This ice cream shop never ceases to amaze me with new flavors everyday. I believe this one was maple vanilla or something. I don't know, I just eat whatever J gets.

For Miles of Sideways, opening his bottle of 1961 Cheval Blanc which values at $2,600, was a special moment... as with the opening of our 2005 Sea Smoke Southing. The Sea Smoke went very well with the richly braised short ribs. This was a good summer supper. Happy belated to IL.

Eat Drink Style Thank You to the Rat Man - Chorizo, Sake & Manila Clams, Beef Bourguignon Recipe and A Scoop of Scoops

J lives in a great spot in Los Angeles. It's close to our favorite eating spots with Chinatown, Koreatown, Thai Town and Little Tokyo within a 10-minute drive. The 101 is less than 3 minutes away. The complex she lives in has several cottage-style units, a nice courtyard for hanging out, a semi-view of the Downtown skyline and most importantly, warm neighbors. After a few months, we were all on first-name basis and pretty much knew about each of the neighbors. This is great we thought. The grass is green, birds are chirping, dragonflies buzzing around – life couldn't be better.

Or so we thought.

J and I started to notice that the soba noodles and spaghetti pasta packages were being opened. Unless it was a new design, vietnamese rice paper had small teeth marks. Cotton was being removed from J's japanese-style futon. Occasional scuffling in the walls and banging sounds in the oven.


One night, J and I were ready to go out. I went over to her closet to grab my jacket and all of a sudden, we froze to the sound of something rustling in j's wicker hamper. I turned to look at her and pointed my finger at the hamper. Her eyes were widened, eyebrows arched with concern and distraught. I signaled for her to open the kitchen door. She came back and I slowly opened the hamper. And within a flash, something black and hairy with a long pink tail jumped out. He scurried right by J. J quickly watched as it went by and let out the most delayed scream ever. 2 seconds later. It was pretty funny haha. Anyway, the rat didn't see the open door and instead, ran behind the fridge. Great. I went back there with a broom and proceeded to slam the spank the back of the fridge like it liked it. J was annoyed and told me to stop haha – I was probably releasing stress from a few months ago and forgot that I was after a rodent. Anyway, it was nowhere to be found. We moved the fridge and stove. Nothing. Rats are so clever. Did he sneak out while I was on the spanking spree?

We knew of one last option – call JR. JR is J's next door neighbor. A tall, slender early-30's drummer who proved to be one of the most handy guys around the complex. He has helped J out many times with different things. We asked him to come over and help us rat out the rat. After a few minutes of looking, we were all baffled.

JR: "Wait. Did you check inside the stove?"
Me: "You serious. It's freaking hot in there."
JR: "Be right back."

He comes back with a flashlight, and lifts the broiler door open. And sure enough, we see a trembling rat wedged in the back end of the broiler. I couldn't believe that it got through the stove from the back side. We opened the door, stuck something in the broiler and out popped the rat. Thank you JR.

But the story does not end here. Again, we found feces and opened food a week later. Was it the same one? Couldn't be. An Orkin guy was even sent out and he really didn't do anything but give J these stupid old school Tom & Jerry mouse traps. Rats aren't stupid.

Me: "You know what you need?"
J: "What?"
Me: "You need some clear sticky tape. Just tape."
J: "And we throw some bait."
Me: "Yesssssss." *evil*

J found some sticky tape at the store. But we needed something delicious to lure that hairy bastard back in here. Thank god J had some of that delicious cashew butter from Trader Joe's. That stuff lures me too. She put a ball of the butter past the sticky tape line. And within an hour, she reported hearing noises in the kitchen - like nails gliding across the ceramic tile. She called me while I was at work and I could hear the rat making noise. She peeked in and saw the rat, about 7" minus the tail, stomach stuck to the tape - exhausted. It was relief yet cruel at the same time.

Me: "Are you just going to just let it die?"
J: "I don't know what to do."
Together: "JR."

JR comes over and picks up the tape with the rat attached to it. The rat was miserable, tired and nearly dead. JR takes the rat to the back, grabs a big stone and puts it out of its misery. I think it was the right thing to do. Thank you JR.

Now that I've whet your appetite. Let's get on to the food. As a simple thank you to JR for helping J out and for being a really down-to-earth, good neighbor, we invited him over for dinner.

We started off with some delicious cheese that J got at Silverlake Cheese store. The creamy, triple-creme kind. Stuff that looks like butter.

As an appetizer, we made some manila clams. I love the clams served up at Musha, which are cooked with sake, parsley, leeks, mushrooms, garlic and about 10 lbs of butter. Who doesn't like butter?! Our take included sake and white wine, chorizo sausage for a spice kick and korean-style sliced scallions. And it was delicious. JR and J were so hungry that they started sponging up the sake/butter sauce with bread. Not healthy, but good.

Chorizo Clams

Chorizo & Sake Manila Clams
Simply wash and scrub the clams to rid them of any sand or nasties. I bought nearly 20 clams - about 2.5 lbs. First pan fry some chorizo pork sausage and break them down into small bits. Set aside on paper towel to soak up the grease. Sauté some shallots and garlic over medium heat. After you've sweated them, add about 1 cup of white wine, and about 1/2 a cup of sake. Wait a few minutes for the alcohol to burn out and add about 2-3 tablespoons of butter. As soon as the butter melts, bring the clams to the party. You'll see the clams slowly pop open. ***A side note. To identify dead clams, take a wooden spoon and tap the clamshell. If you hear a solid sound, it's alive, if you hear a hollow sound (like cracking open egg shells), it's dead. Once all of them have opened (about 4 minutes, add the sliced green onions and stir - making sure that you spoon butter into all the clams. Serve immediately with french bread.

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon
JR is french, and we knew that he would like this. We sautéed some beef stew meat in olive oil and added a mire poix (onions, carrots, celery). Poured in some red wine and add bay leaves, garlic, thyme, peppercorn and tomato paste. To thicken up the stew, we added potatoes, a little flour and mushrooms. Baked the whole thing in a dutch oven at about 450 degrees for nearly 4 hours. The result is a hearty and savory meat dish that goes well with greens, rice and potatoes - or simply with fresh warm french bread. If you want the recipe, feel free to email me – I'm too lazy to type it out.

Scoops Ice Cream

A Scoop of Scoops Ice Cream
Any dinner party we have, J will get stoked. Her first choice for dessert is always Scoops Ice Cream over on Melrose/Heliotrope. Owned by a very nice Korean man, Scoops conjures up very interesting ice cream flavors daily. He even has a white board for people to write down suggestions for future flavors. I believe he has even made a foie gras ice cream. Mmm. Not a flavor any PETA person would like to see on a menu. Pictured above is the brown bread and chocolate, banana and cinnamon flavors. A delicious way to end a hearty meal.

Thank you to JR for being a good neighbor and friend to us, and thanks to everyone for reading. I know this was long.

Eat Drink Style I'm Sorry For the 29 Years of Torture - Mother's Day Dinner

Raising a child is probably life's biggest challenges. From the day your child is born, your eyebrows will start to curve downwards. Your forehead develops creases like a shar pe's fur. And your blood pressure raises everytime you have to send a message to him/her. But you keep going. You keep going every single day until you see that they can function on their own. And even then, worrying never leaves your mind until they day you sleep infinitely. I was never a bad kid. I never got into any fights. Never hung around the wrong crowd - I was a schoolboy/soccer jock. Never got suspended from school - well maybe once for having a Motorola Pager with me during school. And it wasn't even one of those cooler pagers that everyone had – it was the one that held like 4 numbers and when paged, sounded like a semi backing the hell up. Never got anything below a B- (college was a different story). I never got a DUI (crossing fingers). But my mom always found a reason to worry. Then in college, I got into some serious trouble - nearly got me kicked out of school. And it was with utter shame and guilt that I called my mom and informed her of my deviance. I was prepared to have my head ripped off over the phone. But my mom surprised me. Even in time of peril, no matter who was at fault, a mother will stand by your side. Everytime I saw some news report of a juvenile crime, I was always amazed that the parents faced the music and stuck with their kid - even if it was attempted murder. It wasn't until this situation that I knew how important parents are and how down they were. As I sat in the deans office with my mom, I knew she was embarrassed. But she held my hand so tightly that I knew we were going to get through it. And we did thankfully. The dean simply wanted my mom in the conference so that she was aware of the severity of the incident. I dreaded the car ride home because I knew she would let me have it, but she didn't. She simply said "I know you won't do that again" and smiled at me. And ever since then, I made sure that I would never have to bring my mom into a situation like this again. And since then...

...I have not publicly urinated on a college campus.

So for mother's day, instead of taking her to a dim sum restaurant in SGV like every other Asian family, my sister and I cooked her a meal at home. After all, what's a few hours of cooking versus 29 years of nurturing this insanity called Dylan.

Scallop Pear Salad

Seared Scallop & Pear Salad
I love scallops and I'll continue to cook scallops until I stop writing this food blog. Because I love tater tots, and to me, this is the marine version. A simple drizzle of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, a searing hot pan and you're well on your way to the Olympics. I'm lazy when it comes to making my own dressing so I just call on my good friend Angelo Pietro because he gets the job done. I have to add fruit to all my salads now, it just creates a nice balance of savory, fresh, sour and sweet in every bite. I usually have a problem searing scallops nicely because of the amount of water that leaks out of them. A sign of a chemically-enhanced scallop is its high water content. They basically inject something to 'fill' the scallop up and when cooked, it ruins everything.

Lobster Crostini

Lobster & Garlic Aioli Crostini
A few weeks ago, J and I ate at Hungry Cat in Hollywood. Its run by Suzanne Goin of AOC & Lucques' husband and it's a great place to enjoy oysters and super creative drinks. Their most popular dish is the Lobster Roll Deluxe which consists of chunky lobster, garlic aioli, parsley baked in a greasy roll. It's so rich but so good. If you try it out, I recommend sharing it or you'll get sick. Anyway, this was my attempt at recreating it. I simply boiled some lobster tails and cut the meat free from the exoskeleton. I then added it to a makeshift aioli prescribed by my incredibly talented friend, Yoony of Immaeatchu. I took mayo and added some cayenne pepper, freshly ground pepper, lemon, grated garlic, chives, shallots and lemon juice. It was very light and went well with crunchy texture of the baked crostini. This makes a great summer picnic dish.

Osso Buco Linguini

Veal Osso Buco & Linguini
I've neglected my wonderful Le Creuset pot for quite a while and brought her out of the attic for this special occasion. There's something nice about braising food in a quality porcelain pot - like I live in a French chateau surrounded by sheep and drink wine endlessly under a willow tree with my paperboy beret. Two and a half hours of braising the veal shanks in chianti wine, fresh thyme, bay leaves, chicken broth and mire poix and you're good. The sauce that's produced tastes really good over pasta - like gravy on mashed potatoes.

Hope everyone did something special for mom. My mom might have killed me if I took her to Hometown Buffet instead. Thanks again for everything mom. You're the best. Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style The Avocado Company Party

Two words: office party. You'll either see eye-rolling, deep sighs or head-nodding. Yes, it can be dreadful. When I think of the obligatory company party or event, I immediately imagine tech nerds with short-sleeve JC Penney shirts w/ paisley pattterns, Docker's khakis (tapered only), clip-on building access cards and white running shoes. The kind of running shoes that are never sold with a box, but tied together with a plastic strap. Yeah, awesome. Girls drool at this I know. But maybe this is really a misconception of company parties and merely a coincidence that one of my favorite movies is Office Space.

My agency announced that they were hosting a luncheon for us with tacos, rice, beans, salsa and of course guacamole. But a curveball was thrown in as well... there was an Iron Chef Avocado challenge. Nobody budged when they heard that. But the second you mention that cash prizes are involved, the enthusiasm level in human beings is triggered. Not that the world is full of greed or anything.

I figured people would make guacamole, and I wanted to try integrating the avocado as a sub-ingredient and not the core. A few weeks back, my coworker RM and I headed over to a mariscos restaurant nearby. We tried out the ceviche there and loved it. So we asked the owner how she makes her ceviche.

Me: How do you make ceviche?
Maria: Es facil. Vas al mar con un barco y capturas pescados, camarónes, pulpos y conchas.
Me: That's it?
Maria: Sí. Entonces le pones sal y limón y lo guardas en el refrigerador por lo menos cuatro horas.
Me: How are your smoothies here? I saw your sign outside.
Maria: Oh si, nuestros jugos naturales están muy frescos.
Me: Mmm sounds good. Can you make me a seafood smoothie?
Maria: (kitchen sounds halt with cold stares)
Me: Nevermind.

Dialogue provided by Google Translator. Just kidding, Maria was awesome. Totally joked around with us and provided great service. Last time, I messed around with a server, I got shafted.... literally.

Ok, so basically you use lime, lemons and salt to 'cook' the selected seafood. I went for shrimp and scallops. Tossed them in a bowl with garlic, cilantro and the juice of lemons and limes. Sealed them in a bowl and let them party together for at least 4 hours in the fridge. The next morning, I took out the mix, eager to smell the flavors... wow. I just made my nosehairs very jolly.

Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche with Avocado & Lime
I've eaten ceviche from a styrofoam cup (which I love) and I've eaten it this way on a tostada chip. Both will make you happy. I smothered the chip with the ceviche mix which was later flavored with more salt, black pepper, tons more lime, jalapenos and avocados. I gave it to my mexican friend RM to guinea pig it. *drum roll*

RM: "Super-delicioso! I like it spicier and with more lime though."

Blue Crab & Avocado Mulitas
Well I thought I was making quesadillas, but RM corrected me. In fact, when you're not folding the tortilla in half, but stacking it, it becomes a mulita. Whatever, I just hope it f*cking tastes good and nobody dies. I've never tried this before and this was actually my favorite. The sweet crab, salty cheese and creamy avocado turned out to be a culinary ménage-á-trois.

RM: "Mmm. Si ménage-á-tres!"

Avocado Mousse Poke on Wonton Skins
I know I know, but I had to throw this in. This dish is played out but actually got the best response from fellow coworkers. I will never buy wonton skins from Whole Foods - they are horrible.... so floury!

RM: "Muy bueno! Mis pantalones están mojados!"

My coworkers put up some really creative dishes, making this a really fun yet competitive event. Someone made avocado cream pasted in between cookies from avocados, créme frâiche and sugar. Someone else made an avocado soup and served them in coconut cups. And overall, there was a nice spread of avocado-ish dishes. I didn't win but still had a blast. The company party could've been worse. We could've all been forced into a meeting room and forced to sing happy birthday to the boss. And may be not even get a piece of that Albertson's cake.

Thanks for reading.