Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cooking: Greek Pastitsio

Around the same time last year I cooked Greek Pastitsio but I was unable to document it because my camera died. Justyn was craving this dish so I decided to make it. Not sure why he picked a warm weekend to crave it but anyway..

I started out by browning some ground chuck (80/20) and then added a diced onion, 4 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, ground cinnamon, tomato sauce, and petite diced canned tomatoes. It simmered for 35 minutes.

While the meat mixture simmered, I cooked the pasta to barely al dente. About 12 minutes. I wanted the pasta to absorb the liquid in the meat mixture to add more flavor to it.

I combined the two in the pasta pot with some Romano cheese.

Then I preheat the oven to 350 and started on the bechamel sauce. The bechamel started with a roux. I slowly added milk to it to avoid clumps. When it thickened, I added cheese, eggs, salt & pepper and a little nutmeg.

I put the pasta and meat mixture in a greased baking dish and then poured the bechamel sauce over it.

It baked for about 40 minutes and here it is! I served it with some cucumber, roma tomato & red onion salad.

I don't recommend making this on a warm day. I was seriously sweating up a storm in the kitchen. Although if you don't mind the heat, you should make this. Srsly good stuff!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Richard Cheese

Last night, Ken, Justyn and I went to the Richard Cheese show at Bimbo's in SF. WHAT.. A.. SHOW!!! When the opening act came on stage, I thought I was going to be bored out of my pants. However when Richard Cheese came on stage he was hilarious, joking with the audience, drinking and sang some of my favorite covers. He even did a cover of the Three's Company intro and the Subway commerical haha! I was either smiling or laughing the entire time. It's too bad I didn't get a better picture of the action.
Waiting in line

Oh yeah... and before the show, we went to a place called Burgermeisters. Don't go there. The burgers are overpriced and lacked a wow factor. I had the Western burger with garlic fries. If you're going to charge $14 for that, it better be a damn good burger. Nope. The bacon tasted weird but I think it was the BBQ sauce that did it. Anyway, here are a couple pictures of my burger and Justyn's.

After the show, we went to a bar near Bimbo's and met some pretty interesting characters. For one, this guy was carrying around this white boombox which he later destroyed by accidentally kicking it.

Overall, I had an awesome time and I totally want to see one of his upcoming shows :D

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cooking: Blueberry Ricotto Pancakes

I couldn't sleep in yet again so I got up at 8:30 and went to the store. Justyn and I had watched Diners Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network where Guy went to a restaurant called Amato's. This guy made his own ricotta cheese and put them in some blueberry pancakes. Justyn was drooling like crazy so I thought I'd be a good wife and get ingrediants to make some for him.

I don't normally make breakfast but I love the genius of Batter Blaster. It makes making pancakes easy with minimal mess. Plus there's nothing unnatural about the batter. It's all organic!

Justyn woke up while I was making these pancakes and helped me. The first 5 pancakes turned out either burned or collapsed. Eventually I got the tempurature right and they started turning out this luscious golden brown.

I didn't so much like the blueberries so I made a couple with only ricotta cheese. Those were OK.

Friday, July 17, 2009

KWerner's Color Inspiration # 56

This was kind of an eerie challenge. I swear, the day before the challenge came out, I made a card with almost the same exact colors. Unfortunately before I thought about taking a picture of it, I mailed it off. I thought about recreating it but when I was sketching for this challenge I came up with something entirely different. I was thinking about how my designs seem to have stitching in almost all of them and how I could incorporate that into this card.

So.. here's how it turned out.

Lots and lots of stitching. I had almost all the colors in my embroidery stash except for the celery & ballet blue. Not a big deal though.. embroidery floss is like $0.59 each? I am guilty of wasting 2 sheets of white cardstock on this challenge though. When I did my sketches for the first two attempts, they didn't turn out quite as well when I tried it out with the actual materials.

Anyway, I've babbled on enough hope you guys like it :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Japanese Obon Festival

Today we went to Downtown San Jose's Obon Festival. After a long night of drinking, I needed gyoza, chicken salad, teriayki & sushi. I'm still shocked that they don't have yakitori or tako yaki. I mean how good would that be? I'm thinking about opening a tako yaki stand next year and totally sell out of those things. You can't have street food without tako yaki ya know? Or what about okinomiyaki?

Anyway, we got there about an hour earlier so we grabbed some much needed coffee before venturing into the farmer's market. As we perused the stands, we found a guy that was selling hummus, dolmas & olives so we bought some pita, hummus and olives for dinner tonight. Justyn's going to grill up some meat.. I can't wait!

After walking around a bit, we finally passed enough time for the festival to start. First thing's first, we went and got some food.

We walked around a bit more and Justyn bought me these beautiful flowers that almost have a ginger like scent. I'm a happy girl today!

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Won!!

Haha... the Iron Chef judge just came out with a ruling. I won!!

Here's what he wrote about my dish:

"fantastic presentation the fish was so tender that it was a slice of heaven in my mouth. the sesame seeds really do make a fine addition to the fish itself the infusion of the sauce and the Jap Chae make the flavor combination very exotic tasting. the sauce in particular was very well rounded and really was a fine addition.while eating this i could close my eyes and pretend that i was at a fine dining establishment. it was this well prepared."

And here are the results by point system:

taste: 10


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Battle: Halibut

Earlier in the week one of our friends went to Alaska and did some fishing. He caught a buncha huuuge fish and didn't know what to do with all of it. He offered a big slap of halibut to us since we love to cook. Since it was such a big piece of fish, I decided to make it fun and do an "Iron Chef" battle against Justyn. He quickly agreed.

Justyn went with flavors from Europe and I knew that I had to go with aZn. He cooked yesterday and made a White Bean & Halibut Stew. Here's how it turned out. It was rich, smoky (from the bacon) but not too heavy for a summer night's meal. Here's what our judge (Eric) said about his dish:

"what a combo.white beans bacon and halibut. the fish was perfectly cooked as was the bacon.the marriage of flavor between the 3 main ingredients was a cacophony of flavors all working to bring me much was a hearty flavor but still felt very light and refreshing. the seasoning was perfect and not too salty. being a white fish there was no fishy smell. the meat of the fish was firm yet fell apart perfectly when i ate it.this was easily the best thing i have eaten all week.i hungrily anticipate the other half of this challenge."

So onto my portion of the challenge. I actually did a lot of searching for a recipe that touched my soul. Eventually I found a recipe by Hosea (last season's Top Chef winner). Sesame Crusted Halibut w/ Ginger Cream Sauce served with his version of Jap Chae (Recipe:

It was perfect! Except... you know me. I can't go without modifying recipes. Instead of heavy cream, I used coconut milk and instead of tuna, it was halibut of course. So I needed a recipe to help me time how long the halibut needed to cook. So I used this recipe: I skipped the step of baking the fish since I didn't want to overcook it. 2 minutes on each side turned out perfect. The fish was tender and moist.

At first I wasn't even going to make Jap Chae but I figured I might need the extra boost to help me win. After cooking everything and tasting it, I'm pretty sure I'm going to win hehe..

It was a fun battle and I can't wait to see what the judge says about my dish. Cross your fingers for me! I wanna win this one bad! And who knows, even if I lose, we'll probably do future battles against each other. It's too fun not to heh.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cooking: Chicken & Rice w/ Saffron

Well, I finally found an opportunity to use the saffron my sister got for me when she was in Italy.

I can't imagine how much she paid for this but I figure she'd appreciate me finally cooking with it. It's just too bad I decided to cook this dish on a weeknight, otherwise I'd have her over. Next time for sure :)

I browned the chicken on both sides in an equal mixture of melted butter & olive oil.

After the chicken browned, I removed some of the oil and sauteed the onion and garlic w/ some salt & pepper.

I added the rice and sauteed that for a minute before adding the broth, water, bay leaf & saffron.

I reseasoned it and then added the chicken back in, brought it to a boil and then dropped it down to a simmer for 27 minutes.

Here it is plated. I looove this recipe! And it's simple enough for a quick weeknight meal.