"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

California Tacos

I love tacos. I love being creative with them and amping them up with new, unexpected ingredients. Inspired by Aaron's incredible Korean/Californian tacos - I decided to try something different than the usual tacos. I made a quick trip to the wonderful Mi Pueblo supermarket in San Rafael to pick up cheap ripe avocados, 10 limes for a buck (haven't seen that since my days of China Town in NYC!) and a few other seasonal staples. A few hours later and with a hungry mom and sister waiting at the table - I laid out the spread for these California Tacos. Why California? Because I can't figure out where else they would be from!
California Tacos

I serve these with whole wheat flat bread tortillas (low carb, high fiber - sorry if this sounds like an infomercial - but Trader Joe's has some excellent low cal tortillas!)

Ingredients + Directions:

Cabbage salad:
2 cups red cabbage, shredded to extract the juices
3 carrots grated
2 corn ears - husked
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons apple juice
half a lime - juiced
1/2 cup slivered almonds

1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix to combine, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Arugula Pesto
2 cups arugula
6 cloves garlic - mashed in a mortar and pestle
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup walnuts
lemon juice

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add lemon juice to taste.

Tofu Pieces:
Tofu chopped into rectangles
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Ground pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Place the tofu rectangles on the skillet. Sprinkle with garlic powder and ground pepper. Fry for about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown.

2 avocados
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley
1/3 white onion, chopped
1 ear corn, husked
1/2 lime juiced

You know the guacamole drill. Prepare and combine :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jumbo Garlic & Jerky Galore ~ Oregon Coast

On the drive back from Cannon Beach, Oregon - we were craving blackberries and kept pulling over to road side stands along the one lane highway to check out their produce. We ended up pulling into a gem of a roadside stand. It had over 60 different kinds of locally made jerkys, JUMBO garlic (pictured above) and some brightly colored and sweet berries. I truly think that when traveling, the greatest finds are the least expected and more usually than not - they end up finding you. This nameless roadside stand with no actual address off of Sunset Highway 26 was a sample of what the green and lush state of Oregon has to offer in the world of produce.
Berries for the car ride to Portland. 
Jerky anyone?
Beef-n-cheese - the trucker's favorite:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dehydrator Diaries ~ Apple Rings!

I recently bought a Nesco home dehydrator. It arrived, I was excited, and then it sat in its box next to our washing machine for a little over a month. I was beginning to think it was an impulse buy that would never be used. Then one day my roommate, Nichole, came home with a box full of green apples from a farm. There were so many that it seemed like little apple elves were coming in the night and replenishing the box. Nichole made a whole feast for her friends centered around the apple, she froze them, made some into apple butter and then we pulled out the dehydrator. This is the first of many Dehydrator Diaries:
We've been experimenting with different thickness of apples slices for dehydration and Nichole prefers thinly sliced apples that dehydrate into chips and I prefer thicker slices that dehydrate into rings.

Apples Rings & Chips

For rings: Slice apples into 1/4" - 1/2" thick pieces
For chips: Slice apples into paper thin pieces

1. Place apple slices evenly on dehydrator trays.
2. Turn temperature to 145 degrees Farenheit
3. Dry apple rings for 6-9 hours

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Sausalito Soiree

My good friend's, Yasemin's, parents - Erhan & Sema - just moved to Sausalito and they had us over for a 4th of July BBQ. They have a gorgeous place looking out over the bay - it truly is an ever changing painting. This is a picture from their dining room:
The last time I saw Sema and Erhan was at their gorgeous home in Bodrum, southern Turkey. In Turkey, Erhan prepared delicious barbequed kebabs, fish, and incredible home made burgers. I will have to digup those pictures at some point to share the mouth-watering Turkish food. But now, 4th of July BBQ in Sausalito. As appetizers we had a selection of freshly prepared salsa, a sour-cream based dip to offset the spice of the salsa, and a fantastic guacamole:
As a main course, Erhan barbequed an area of foods, pictured below from left to right: jumbo shrimp, chicken drumsticks, kefta and lamb.
Here is Erhan - introducing the spread....
..which also included perfectly roasted vegetables...
 And a sweet barbecued fruit salad of pineapples, mangoes and apples.
 As a party favor, Erhan made me a take-home bowl of homemade apricot jam! It was delicious and good thing I had a spoon for the long bus ride home :) 
Tesekkurler Sema & Erhan!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Camping + Pulled Pork Burgers = Happiness

There are certain environments that are made for particular foods. Ice cream always tastes great at the beach. S'mores are made for bonfires. And - pulled pork burgers are pretty much the best camping food ever. I recently went to Lake Tahoe on a wonderful, invigorating camping trip with some of my best friends. We are a gaggle of 7 gals and 4 guys. Here's a little bedazzled picture of us:
And here is our Neutrogena ad on the water:
Pictured above is the 2nd best pulled pork I've had after the delicacy at Brooklyn's Fette Sau. After a full day of hanging at Emerald Beach and an uphill hike to our camp site. Ezra, one of crew prepared these divine burgers pictured above, and a sinful grilled cheese version pictured below:
 The pork was marinated begining on Wednesday. Then frozen on Thursday and Friday and slowly defrosted on Saturday to be simmered in a pot Saturday evening.
The buns were warmed on the other burner. Just because you are camping doesn't mean you have to have burgers on cold buns!
The final creations were served in fast-food style cardboard boats with a simple cold and crunch coleslaw.  Camping will never be the same :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Music & Ice Cream Powered by Biking!

I recently biked to the San Francisco Bicycle Music Festival - a gathering of music and bike enthusiasts who all have an inner (or outer) hippy that needs to get out and dance bare foot every once and a while. There is something to be said for working for your entertainment and food. At this festival, everything - EVERYTHING - was powered by folks on bikes. Anyone could volunteer to bike for 15 min to an hour on the generator that kept the sound system going. Then when you tired of that, you just skip on over to the ice cream and smoothie station and hop on the creamsicle colored bike to make some smooth and creamy ice cream.  Pictured above is my cup of ice cream and in the background is the bike on a stationary platform that is powering the ice cream churner sitting next to the handle bars.
I love San Francisco
Powering the music on bike and a paper mache tree - no big deal.
Flowers at my Dad's house...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Eu Amo o Brasil ~ Figueira Rubaiyat

I fell in love with Sao Paulo, Brazil this past May. I had the best lunch of my life and it was the first day of Geeks on a Plane South America. Upon arriving in Sao Paulo after 17 hours of transit, we went to the world renowned Figueira Rubaiyat. One of my coworkers, Bedy Yang, had organized an impressive 'welcome lunch' that will be impossible to top. We had no idea what was in store for us as we were flying into Sao Paulo....
This restaurant is ranked number 4 in Sao Paulo which has more restaurants than New York City! The design of the restaurant is stunning. It is built around an old fig tree - Figueira means fig tree. The ambient here is really upscale, unique and memorable. This is an expensive restaurant but well worth the price as it is not just a meal - but rather an entire experience. Here is a picture taken from the entrance of the restaurant:
The bar was gorgeous. Long wooden shelves with warm colored bottles and a huge vase with impressive fuscia orchids and hibiscus flowers. Our lunch was in the private backroom but if I recommend trying to get a seat in the jardin, beneath the fig tree and having a drink at this bar while you wait for your table.
Welcome to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is Geeks on a Plane with incredible cuisine all along the way...
The tables settings were unique and gorgeous. Bread displayed like vintage books...

The experience began with a small plate of warm Brazilian cheese balls - Portuguese cheese puffs brought to the table. They were soft and uniformly golden to perfection
 As soon as we all sat down, waiters promptly brought out white plates of superb antipastos. There were small marinated Bocconcini, roasted heirloom tomatoes with pesto sauce, thick slabs of grilled summer squash with pesto, marinated mangoes and peppers, and slices of spicy Sopresetta. The colors and flavors were all beautiful, vibrant and went together magnificently.
As a main course we were served large cuts of delicious tender, medium rare Kobe beef with a side of roasted olive oil potatoes. I am normally not a big meat-eater - but I decided to indulge when in South America and I'm very happy I did!
As an alternative to meat you could have the fish dish cooked in a cast iron skillet with a tomato vera cruz sauce and basil and cheese broiled on top.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the meal was the 20 foot long dessert buffet. Complete with freshly cut fruit, flans, tarts, cakes, dulce de leche, puddings, crumbles - this was a table of heaven on Earth.
Here is a plate of my dessert selections (I seriously love buffets). The small yellow round in the upper right corner is a traditional Portuguese egg custard tart. There are pieces of grilled fruit, peaches and plums, a square of heavenly flan and a dulce de leche custard tart.
Just in case a dessert buffet was not enough - an additional tray was brought to each table with an assortment of chocolates, cookies, and sweet delicacies. By this time, all the Geeks had fallen into a food coma...let the adventures begin.
Rua Haddock Lobo, 1738 - Jd. Paulista - Sao Paulo
Reservations recommended

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Aaron's Central Coast Tacos. DELICIOUS

One of my best friends, Erica, recently returned from Thailand and she came over with a friend she met there - Aaron for dinner one evening. Apparently Aaron had been talking about these 'Korean Tacos' (we renamed them Central Coast Tacos - because there is more about them that is 'Central Coast' rather than Korean) for a while - so there was a lot of excitement to try these. These tacos are ridiculous. Probably the best chicken tacos I've ever had. Aaron said he has been working on perfecting this recipe for a while and he hopes to one day open a food truck. I will be one of the first in line. These tacos are fresh and flavorful. The slaw has the perfect amount of tang to constrast the mildly spicy chicken. And the pesto ties it all together. Served on a fluffy whole grain tortilla - these tacos are nothing less than divine. Here is a picture of Aaron and Erica :)
(Insert cheesy line here) - Aaron's creation really puts the TAsty in TAcos.
Korean BBQ Chicken Tacos
1. Buy or Roast 1 chicken and shred it by hand into a pot
2. Pour Korean BBQ Sauce (see recipe below) over the chicken and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until chicken has absorbed most the sauce.
3. Turn off heat.
Korean BBQ Sauce:
3/8 cup or 6 tbsp of Korean fermented hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 to 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (to your taste)
2 tbsp sesame oil

Asian Slaw
  1. Shred a head of cabbage
  2. Shred 1 or 2 carrots
  3. Chop a bunch of green onions
  4. Mix together in a bowl
  5. Pour Dressing (see below) over the slaw
  6. Mix every 2 minutes about 5 times
  7. Let sit until ready to eat (at least 5 or 10 minutes)
3/4 cup olive oil (extra light if possible)
1/4 cup white sugar (or a little less)
3/8 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Lemon Pesto
4 to 6 oz pesto
1/4 cup lemon juice (personal preference, do it by taste)
*Note - Can either stir or blend together depending on the type of pesto.

2-3 small fresh flour tortillas or gorditas per person (fluffier tortillas are better)
*Note - Recipe serves about between 10 and 12 small tortillas 

Putting it all together
Heat flours tortillas, put season chicken on, put slaw on, put a spoonful of lemon pesto on.