Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style Our First Anniversary - All that We've Learned This Year

First Anniversary Dinner

On a Saturday evening, I sat with my wife in our apartment at the dining table and clinked our glasses. We finally did it. We celebrated our first year together as husband and wife. It wasn't easy but for every difficult moment, there were twenty-five or so good moments to outweigh it. Rather than showing a whole slideshow of us doing couple poses in various locations, I thought I might share the things I've learned as the husband to a very special woman and as well as the importance of having someone to turn to. If you're thinking about getting married, consider these few words of advice.

I learned a lot about life from Tuesdays With Morrie. I haven't read it in over a decade but I still remember a lot of the quotes, many of which have influenced the way I approached my relationship with Jeni.

"... there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don't respect the other person, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don't know how to compromise, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can't talk openly about what goes on between you, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don't have a common set of values in life, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike."

MGM

I think the first thing we asked each other after getting married in Las Vegas was, "What do we do now? What does a married couple do right after putting the rings on? Most people will probably buy a house and have children. We decided to skip all of that for the time being.

For a lot of newlyweds, it's the first of many uphill battles. There is such a thing as personal space and it takes at least a year to really find out which buttons you can and can't push. Thank god we got that out all the way. Although I'll occasionally find unclosed drawers or those stupid hair-ties all over the place, I've learned to suck it up and take care of it myself. I know she's done something similar for me. If you don't discuss the things that irritate you, it will only get pent up and be released like an H-bomb. You can't change everyone but you can compromise.

Our First Anniversary

Children. We love my nephew to death and after several days of taking care of him, we knew that a child would not be in the works anytime soon. I know things will change when we do have a child, but for now, it's about enjoying our time together before we both get saggy with nasty stretch marks. Who knew that a 3 year old could need so much attention and sugar. God. I love him still though.

Our First Anniversary

Our First Anniversary

I've learned that you have to live each day like it's the last. Especially on the dance floor. Jeni and I have no problem being the first people to open up the dance floor at any wedding because we don't care what people think. There's no one I'd rather dance with than my Chuck Taylor-sporting wife. And when I'm breaking out into a calorie-burning workout to some 90s hip hop, you know you have a good wife when she's there to hand you a mini towel and say something sweet like, "Here. You're disgusting."

Our First Anniversary

Our First Anniversary

I've learned that even when you don't care to do something, you just have to do it because you're now one unit. I can't tell you how many times Jeni has reluctantly gone with me on taco runs because I was hungry at 1 am. She would sit in the car even if she didn't feel like downing some buche but was still happy to be hanging out.

Our First Anniversary

I've learned that she would be up for any show, even if she had not heard of the band. This photo was taken at the Bon Iver show at the Hollywood Forever cemetery at around 6 am. She was bundled up like a cocoon with dew all over her, but still smiling in enjoyment.

Our First Anniversary

I've learned that we could work together, no matter what we did. When I used to do catering, she served as a waitress and even as my sous chef. She didn't care to do cooking and prepping for all the parties, but was always there to make sure I would keep my cool and make things happen. This year, on top of our full-time jobs, we shot six great weddings and learned how to rely on each other to cover all bases. She would do the couple shots, I would cover the reception – vice versa. Wedding photography is not easy because of the high tension and shenanigans that go on but seeing how calm she was only made things flow "like the salmon of San Juan Capistrano." You can view some of our work here.

Our First Anniversary

Our First Anniversary

Our First Anniversary

Our First Anniversary

I've learned that we could not travel the same way we do with anyone else. While most people will visit scenic spots or tourist attractions, our main motive for traveling is to photograph and eat food. It's a lot of fattening fun. I remember the time we were in Rio de Janeiro during our honeymoon and heading to see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue on top of the mountain. Seeing that it was a big deal to get up there, we said screw it – took a super distant photo of it and went straight to a restaurant. This was taken after our tasty meal at Portland's Beast restaurant. If you're planning on having children, it's best to get the travel bug taken care of first... which is what we're doing!

Our First Anniversary

Our First Anniversary

A year later, we're older but we're also stronger as a couple. Instead of going out to dinner for our celebration, we decided to lay low and keep things between us. With all the new restaurants opening up in Los Angeles, it can get a little tiring eating out. Not to mention the consumption of all that butter in each dish. It can get a little much. On a cold night, we headed to the Fairfax Farmer's Market. It was a surprise menu so I sent her off towards the Grove while I headed for groceries.

I walked by all the butchers and seafood stores and really thought about all the food that we ate this year. At one point, we were heavily into places that did gorgeous plating, but that appreciation slowly faded because after a while, it didn't look like food anymore – it was art really. At the end of the day, I'll take a dish cooked by a loved one over the hottest chef's creations. It's about warming the soul, not so much the eyes.

First Anniversary Dinner

Since this was a special occasion, I decided to cough it up for one of the tastiest mushrooms around. To me, I think this is a more well-balanced, wholesome mushroom than a truffle. And a fraction of the cost although it clocks in at a whopping $20+/lb. Ouch.

First Anniversary Dinner

Risotto is one of those dishes that like a child, needs constant nurturing. It's easy to spoil it and ruin it, but with a careful hand and a glass of wine, making it can be rewarding.

First Anniversary Dinner

Cold weather is a clear indication that it's time to break out the Le Creuset and braise something. The chances of making a bad braised dish are low as you can pretty much make meat taste good with very little vegetables, stock, herbs and wine.

First Anniversary Dinner

Fanny Bay Oysters
Every day is a good day for oysters. Jeni wasn't too fond of shellfish before she met me but I'm very happy now that I have an oyster partner in crime. These oysters were from Whole Foods, and they weren't that fresh. I'd suggest Carlsbad Aquafarm at the Hollywood Farmer's Market or Glendale's Fish King.

First Anniversary Dinner

First Anniversary Dinner

First Anniversary Dinner

Seared Diver Scallops and Corn/Cherry Tomatoes with Jalapeno Creme Fraiche
I went simple with this Fall combination. I basically put together three things that I really enjoy… scallops, corn and creme fraiche. This was light and really tasty. After searing the scallops, I quickly sauteed the corn and cherry tomatoes and lightly glazed it with a dollop of creme fraiche and chopped jalapeno.

First Anniversary Dinner

Pan-Fried Veal Sweetbreads with Bacon/Brussel Sprouts and Spinach Cream Sauce
I was lucky to find these sweetbreads at one of the butchers. A big portion of it only cost a few dollars. I soaked the sweetbreads in a bowl of milk with salt for 6 hours. I then lightly dipped it in some salted-flour and pan-fried them in a little butter and olive oil. Most sweetbreads I've had are extremely moist, but because I only let them sit for 6 hours, there was still a nice bite to the already-soft sweetbreads. The combination of the spinach cream and slightly-charred taste of the bacon/brussel sprouts were really good together.

First Anniversary Dinner

Alaskan Halibut with Chanterelles, Curried Lentils and Sauteed Swiss Chard
One of our favorite restaurants is A.O.C. for Suzanne Goin's mediterranean style. I decided to do a fish dish similar to something I had eaten there a while back. As you can tell, I like pan-seared dishes because they are light and maintain a simple taste to it. To save time, we bought Trader Joe's pre-cooked lentils which is SO HELPFUL. Add some curry powder, thyme, butter and finely-minced carrots and onions and your side dish is done.

First Anniversary Dinner

Braised Short Rib with Chanterelles & Creamy Reggiano Risotto
This dish was obviously a bit on the heavier side so I only served up a small portion of it. I loved eating the tender meat with the nutty & earthy chanterelles. The risotto was flavored with Sauvignon Blanc wine, heavy cream and freshly micro-planed reggiano cheese.

As I'm finishing up on this posting, I'm staring at both of our plump backpacks. It's that time again where we escape the lovely City of Angels, and head somewhere far for some R&R. This year, we're heading to half of Jeni's motherland, Vietnam, my dad's home country of Laos and Cambodia. I could not be more excited about the street food in every country. Time for 2-legged, 4-legged and 6-8 legged delicacies. I've never been to Southeast Asia and I'm imagining some of our photos will look something like this...

Jeni & Dylan in Southeast Asia

Jeni & Dylan in Southeast Asia

Jeni & Dylan in Southeast Asia

Happy Holidays and thanks for your readership – it's been another great year.
See you in 2010!

Eat Drink Style Happy Mother's Day Dinner - Mom, the Eternal Ass Kicker

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

Ever since I started walking, my mom was there to make sure I didn't get into trouble. She passed on mannerisms that her mom had pass, as well as providing the natural love, care and attention a mother burdens herself with. But we as children don't usually respond the way they want. That's why there is something called 'ass kicking'. It comes in many forms. Sometimes it makes you cry, sometimes it makes you angry and sometimes, it outright HURTS. My mom's method of shaping me into a proper gentleman... a feather duster. Not just any kind, but one made in Hong Kong. It looks soft, fluffy and purely for cleaning right? WRONG. You switch the ends of it and you've got the Chinese Ass-Kicker. Two things for the price of one – now that's a deal in any Chinese person's eyes.

I remember one time when I was 5. My sister and I were out in the front having productive fun, like throwing rocks over at the neighbor's yard. You kids nowadays have cooler things to play with like all-too-real video games and internet. Back then, we only had rocks and Garbage Pail Kids - take your pick. An hour later, after my sister and I had grown tired of chucking rocks into the neighbor's pool. I hear the most ear-deafening scream of my name.

"DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN
NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!"

The second I heard that, I knew very well where my ass was destined. My sister and I quickly scoured the living room of our tiny house and took refuge in a nightstand behind the couch. I looked over at my sister, who looked liked a deer in headlights. The door opened and it slammed. I could hear her footsteps in the living room and could hear her running around the house. Every time the footsteps got louder, my sister and I ducked our heads into our knees, shaking. FUCK. We were so fucked. And all of a sudden, I see my mom's face at the end of the nightstand. NO GOOD. She told us to get out and we sat there like still wildlife. MAN, we were so fucked. I eventually walked out and I can still remember the look on her face. NOT HAPPY. I admitted to throwing the rocks at the neighbor's yard because I was bored and didn't have those all-too-real video games and internet. Next thing I know, she's equipped with Mr. Feather Duster. And I looked over at my little sister who was really feeling bad for me. She looked so sad. I slowly turned around and closed my eyes. THE END.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

Before you call any social workers, you'd be glad to know that after this one incident, I didn't get into any trouble until I was off on my own. No more visits to Mr. Feather Duster. My sister and I got our ass whooped as little kids, but we now understand the importance of it as adults. She meant well, as did my dad, who instead of using the feather duster, preferred his right foot. And we thank them both for keeping us in line.

So here we are on Mother's Day 20-plus years later. I'm married now to a woman I love dearly and on the path to starting my own family. Mom will become a grandma one day and will be there to see our children. But one thing is still on her agenda... kicking my ass. Not the feather duster way... but with health, work, saving money, buying a house, blah blah blah. It never ends. But its what a mother does. I have to say that my mom and dad are the biggest influences in my interest for cooking and nothing makes them happier than providing them with soul food. This year was different though... it was our first time doing a dual Mother's Day dinner for my mom and Jeni's mom.

We decided to do seafood as the dinner theme. Making me eat seafood as a kid was the bane of my mother's existence. I was food poisoned at an early age by some Chinese-style black clams and it traumatized for nearly 20 years. TWENTY YEARS without SEAFOOD. My sister used to shake her head and say, "you don't know what you're missing," while devouring something delicious like Chiu-Chow style garlic fried crab. Jeni and I got up early and headed to our favorite farmer's market in Hollywood. We had been so busy during the week that we didn't have time to plan the menu. But that's where farmer's markets come in handy. With some spontaneity and creativity, you can make a fine meal with the purveyed goods. Not to mention the freshness of the food.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner White Shitake Mushrooms

Some young shitake mushrooms. An earthiness that goes well with seafood.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner English Peas

Sweet, crunchy English peas - good enough to be eaten raw with a little salt and spice.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Fruit Bowl

Jeni made a delicious fruit bowl with the farmer's market fruit with wine and simple syrup.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Manila Clams

Manila clams from 99 Ranch Market. Not so Farmer's Marketish, but hey we're not rich.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Filleting Turbot

One of the hardest things for me is thinking of a fish to cook with. There are just way TOO MANY. Check out 99 Ranch and the filipino market, Seafood City, and you'll know what I mean. I wanted something light and remembered a delicious fish I had at Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 in New York. Olive-Oil Poached Turbot with Smoked Bulgur and Coffee-Saffron sauce. The turbot is a goofy-looking flat fish found mainly in the North Atlantic.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Carlsbad Blonde Oysters

I always pay a visit to Rob of the Carlsbad Aquafarm. He's a super nice guy that really enjoys watching people eat oysters. Not in a creepy way. He's just passionate about his seafood. I picked some Carlsbad Blondes because of their delicate cucumber finish. You can find him at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Saturdays and at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Sundays. $10/dozen oysters.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Alaskan King Crab & Haricot Vertes

Alaskan King Crab, Poached Egg & Haricot Vertes Frisee Salad
I mixed the king crab with my favorite, smoked paprika, and the haricot vertes in some creme fraiche, lemon juice and S&P. Served it on top of some frisee with Jeni's citronette vinaigrette with a poached egg. The idea here was to crack the poached egg over the frisee and bring in the crab and green beans. It was very light and fresh.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Poached Egg

ED&B Mother's Day Dinner Manila Clams and Chorizo Sausage & Leeks

Manila Clams with Spanish Chorizo, Leeks & White Wine
You can't go wrong with clams + butter + wine. I sautéd some shallots, spanish chorizo, garlic and leeks and added the clams. Then I poured about a 1/4 bottle of white wine with some chicken stock and dropped in some butter. Cover the pot for a few minutes until you see the clams open up and stir them around, making sure all that delicious juice gets inside the clam shells. Note: I used to do this with Mexican chorizo and I think it tastes better with Spanish chorizo because it's more firm and spicy. Serve this with some toasted bread slices so your guests can sop up all that goodness.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Pan Fried Turbot & Shitake Mushroom, English Pea Spatzle

Pan-Seared Turbot with Shitake Mushrooms, English Peas & Spatzle
I originally wanted to poach this in olive oil and thyme but I didn't have enough olive oil. Instead we pan-fried the fish in a skillet. I had marinated the fish about an hour before in some olive oil, thyme, pimenton (Spanish chili powder) and S&P. The fish took about 5 minutes on one side over medium heat, just long enough for the skin to crisp up. I have to say, I have never had a more milky/moist fish like turbot. It is fabulous and highly used for its delicate flavor/texture and similarity to halibut. In fact, it's BETTER than halibut. Our moms were flipping out on this fish because they had never heard of it. The combination of the delicate fish, earthy shitakes, crunchy peas and buttery spatzle was perfect.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner Sauternes Cake & Fruits

Farmer's Market Fruit & Cake with Frozen Balsamic Vinegar Cream & Sauternes Syrup
We found this cake for $1 at 99 Ranch and just topped it off with fresh fruit and cold balsamic vinegar cream. This was an excellent way to finish off the seafood dinner.

ED&BM Mother's Day Dinner

To my mom, thank you for everything - love you.
And to my Mom #2, I'm glad we're one family now.

Eat Drink Style The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

When I think about it, it's only been 9 years since I started eating seafood again. Before that, I was on a nearly 18-year hiatus from eating seafood due in part to a bad food poisoning incident and being a picky kid. And when I was able to take down my first sushi after so long, new doors to weight gaining opened up and I was loving life. Now, I really can't imagine having a meal without seafood. There's a reason why the french refer to seafood as "fruits of the sea", and they sure are. Abundance and variety allow us to eat copious amounts of it, as though we're doing a favor by keeping them from overpopulating the sea. But we do stay away from over-fished things like tuna, and Jeni and I try to follow this Seafood Watch guide provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. With McCall's Meat and Fish Co. providing a very nice selection of seafood, our love for seafood was taken to another level of aquatic heaven.

Rather than the usual coursed dinner, we thought it would be fun to do a hands-on East Coast seafood "bake". Also in the style of the local favorite, Boiling Crab. We had just come back from a trip to Boston and enjoyed eating at a delicious tapas place called Toro, which inspired me to try cooking more Spanish style food. And thanks to great Spanish food purveyors like La Española in Harbor City (South Bay), we had access to essential ingredients for Spanish cooking.

The Sea of Seafood

One. I used garlic, shallots, leftover English shelling peas for color, Pamplona Spanish chorizo and canned piquillo peppers. Piquillo peppers are actually chilis found in Spain that when roasted take on a deeper and sweeter taste like roasted red peppers. They are used in tapas, for braising and making sauces. I love these things. A little salt and olive oil and you're in Spain. I first discovered Pamplona Chorizo at the Silver Lake Cheese store and loved it for its nice sustaining spice kick. When I saw how much cheaper it was at La Española, I just bought the whole MF'r. Great for appetizers and for sauteing.

Two. I had Nathan McCall order these in for me and he was kind enough to reserve the squid ink sac for us too. Cut off the "wings" and slice them up. With calamari, you want the nice rings.

Three. Jeni used to work at Sanrio if you couldn't tell. Along with the menu, she depicts our guests on a boat large enough for them, leaving me stranded on what looks like the tiniest island in the world, or maybe an oil barrel. I'm also holding a frying pan and sword like a crazy person. Her clams and mussels are actually housing for little children. The shrimp and the monkfish are scary too.

The Sea of Seafood

One. It's important to note that dish, as much as you would like to, can not be cooked in one pot at the same time. All the proteins have different textures that require various cooking times. For the shrimp, I kept them shell on because I actually love the taste the shell gives off when grilling or sauteing. But in my case, I basically punished them on a skillet that I left on high for nearly 10 minutes. The guests were concerned by the smoke building up as they could only see the lower half of my body as I was cooking. With a skillet that hot, you really only need to cook the shrimp on one side for about 3-4 mins, and flip over one last minute. Once you take it off the skillet, it is STILL cooking. If you overcook shrimp, it really doesn't taste good anymore. Keep the shell on as it holds in juices.

"Spanish Shrimp" Marinade Recipe (for 4 people)
- 2.5 lbs of shrimp (i like 16-20 count sized shrimp)
- 2-3 rosemary sprigs
- 5-6 thyme sprigs
- 2-3 tblsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tblsp. cayenne
- 1 tblsp. cumin
- 1 tblsp. salt
- extra virgin olive oil

This is a starting ground because I don't know what you're looking for. It's best to mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and add as much olive oil as you need to make a "sludge". You need enough to coat the shrimp and mix it well. It's very important to take a test drive first to see what it tastes like. Eat the spices off the shell and crack it open. I found myself adding way more smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne and salt. Adjust accordingly and you'll be happy. I marinated these overnight and flipped them around in the morning. You can actually cook them after 15-30 minutes.

Two. This is my first time working with a dried Spanish pepper called a ñora (nuh-yo-ruh). It's a round, pudgy pepper that comes dry and needs to be reconstituted in warm water. I treated this much like a chili de arbol and used it for sauteing along with garlic, shallots and Pamplona chorizo. Soak it in some warm water for 15-20 minutes and remove any seeds. Chop it up and saute with it.

Three. Using the same marinade for the shrimp, I quickly tossed the calamari rings in the mixture. These don't really need to sit overnight. But the key to making good calamari is high heat and a quick hand. I had my skillet running for at least 10 minutes on high and tossed them in. Using my tongs I quickly moved them around to get a nice sear. Total time: 30 seconds MAX. If you overcook it, you'll be eating rubber. So make sure you see the flesh change from pink to white and take it out immediately.

Four. The Spanish are known for their mastery in canning. Due to fresh ingredients and excellent olive oil, you'll be happy knowing that you won't be tasting aluminum much like a lot of canned food. I threw in some anchovy-stuffed olives which were so good. Also with the piquillo peppers, I reserved the juice for sauteing – don't waste that liquid gold!

The Sea of Seafood

Ok. So now that you've got your shrimp and calamari cooked, it's time to make the base for steaming clams and mussels.

Dylan's "Spanish Style" Seafood Base
- 5-6 garlic cloves smashed
- 3-4 large shallots sliced
- handful of quartered Pamplona chorizo
- handful of English shelling peas
- small jar of piquillo peppers (roughly chopped, juice reserved)
- 1/2 can of Spanish olives (I used anchovy-stuffed green olives)
- 2 dried ñora peppers (soaked), or a handful of Chili de Arbol
- 1 bottle of dry white wine
- salt & pepper
- sugar
- 1 stick of butter
- smoked paprika to taste
- cayenne pepper to taste

Ok, here we go. On high heat, toss in some olive oil and start sauteing the garlic, shallots, chorizo sausage, peas, piquillo peppers and ñora chilis. It doesn't really matter about order since you're going to be making a liquid soon after. After everything is nicely sweated, add some white wine and let the alcohol burn out. Throw in half a stick of butter to create a nice thickness and sheen. If your wine is tasting too sour, add some sugar to balance it out. Add more butter as needed. Add about 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika - there's nothing wrong with too much smoked paprika because it's so goddamn tasty.

Once you get your sauce to your liking, it's time to give the clams and mussels a bath. Dump them both in and stir them around with a wooden spoon to make sure they get some love from that sauce. Because I used a large pan, I took a large baking sheet I had and covered it. Foil works fine but be careful not to burn yourself.

The Sea of Seafood

After 4-5 minutes, the majority of clams and mussels should be opened. At this point, it's critical you mix them around vigorously so that they take in that sauce. Make sure at least 90% of the clams are open and you're done. Shut off the heat and throw them into a large bowl immediately. Add the nicely punished shrimp and calamari rings to the mix and pour any remaining sauce over them. And get ready to embark on the Sea of Seafood...

The Sea of Seafood

Oh. My. For me, I thought this was ridiculous. Not to mention how heavy that bowl was ha. I usually don't like to serve food in large quantities, but with seafood, it's a must. We laid out newspapers over the dining table and encouraged our guests to use their hands and eat like cavemen. God gave us hands, not utensils right? I had to say, this meal was fun, delicious and great for a group of 6. I watched as our friends devoured the food and grabbed the wine glass for a drink, not minding the saucy smudge that was imprinted on the glass from their hands.

The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

I watched as our guests created their own pattern of eating seafood. Some would bring the mussels to mouth and drink out all the juice before eating the meat. Some would suck off all the flavoring from the shrimp shell, undress it and redip it back into the buttery sauce. Some just ate the shrimp with the shell on. However you do it, there's no right or wrong. It's how eating should be.

The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

The Sea of Seafood

Bread plays an important role when it comes to sauces. There's nothing like using it as a sponge to sop up all the juice.

The Sea of Seafood

I forgot to mention that I included monkfish in here – it was a bit too mushy from undercooking it. Monkfish is a good way to go because it really has a muscular build to it and can endure longer cooking times. Next time, I may try salmon or simple basa catfish. Thanks for reading.