Announcements!

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Hi friends! You may have noticed my absence from my blog. I feel really bad that I haven’t been putting time into it, but I have a lot of exciting things going on right now that I need to give some attention to.

I’ve just started writing for Campus Circle, a newspaper and Web site geared towards college students. I’ll be writing mostly for the food section, as well as dabbling in some other pop culture topics, so look out for me there!

Here are my first two articles:

This one is a write up for the Kogi BBQ truck, my very first food truck experience that started my food truck obsession—>Kogi BBQ: A Love Story

And I did this one too—>Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month at Clementine: The West L.A. Bakery Puts a Gourmet Spin on the Classic Sandwich

Stay tuned because there is much more where that came from!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter Sauce

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Ahhh gnocchi. It takes me back to the old country. Just kidding. I’m not from the old country. But I do love gnocchi. It’s so comforting and versatile, and actually quite easy to make. Remember that Swai Roulade I made? This gnocchi was the perfect side dish. If you are unfamiliar with gnocchi (and if so, my condolences) it is basically a little potato dumpling. I made mine with squash though for a different twist, and dressed them simply with a sage brown butter sauce. These gnocchi would also be lovely in a soup. You could start with a whole, raw squash and roast it and puree it, but you can also do it the easy way with a block of frozen squash which is super cheap and convenient, found next to the blocks of frozen chopped spinach. Minimal ingredients create a very simple but flavorful dish that will take you straight back to the old country. If you are from an old country, that is…

Butternut Squash Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

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I wanted to make something festive and green for you.

But my school schedule has no consideration for holidays when they decide to plan finals, and I kinda have to study.

Maybe you should make make me something green? Eh? Eh? Help out a starving college kid?

Oh yeah, I’m also in the planning stages of a new feature for you guys to replace Food Truck Friday (RIP). So get stoked and stay tuned!

Here’s a festive song for you though!

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie You’ll Ever Want To Eat Again.

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Period. That’s really all you need to know, but I’ll talk for a bit anyway.

I’ve been on a mission–a mission to find the very best go-to recipes for classic desserts and baked goods. I’m making great progress. I’ve found The World’s Greatest Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, I have a the perfect brownie recipe that I will share with you eventually, and today, I bring you chocolate chip cookies. Everyone loves a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie. I really can’t think of one person who would not find at least some enjoyment in a golden, chewy cookie studded with chocolatey morsels. There are countless chocolate chip cookie recipes floating around out there, and I’ve tried a lot of them. No matter what, I always come back to this one. They come out perfect every time. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, just the right amount of sweetness, and consistently amazing. There’s no voodoo or wizardry involved, and no tedious overnight refrigeration either. It’s just a simple recipe that has the proportions down exactly right for a perfect cookie. Ditch the recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag, and set your grandma’s recipe aside, because this is it

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie You’ll Ever Want To Eat Again.

Pesto and Bacon Stuffed Swai Roulades

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Whenever I make something delicious, healthy, and somewhat classy, for almost no money, I feel like I have won the Grand Prize in my own personal contest against the world. Who said college kids have to live off of Top Ramen? I have only eaten ramen two or three times throughout college, and it was because I crunched it up into broccoli salad. Why is that? Because I am a really good shopper and I’m more resourceful than Bear Grylls.

The other day I was jonesing for some fish, and I found these swai fillets on sale in the fish department. I didn’t know what swai was, but it didn’t look very menacing at all. And it was only $1.29 for two fillets. $1.29!! Almost as cheap as ramen, and much, much better for you. I took it home and did a little homework on it. Apparently swai, a member of the catfish family, is fairly new on the market. I’m not sure how a new fish pops up on the market, but I’m not going to question it. Swai is a very mild, sweet, tender, flaky fish, which is exactly the type of fish that I prefer. I made roulades out of them, filled with a mixture of herbs that I found in my fridge, and it was so fancy, easy, and tasty. Oh yeah, and dirt cheap!

Pesto and Bacon Stuffed Swai Roulades

800 Degrees, $8, Infinite Possibilities

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Just a small indicator of the perpetual line. (not my picture)

800 Degrees, Westwood’s newest addition to the already overwhelming selection of restaurants and eateries, came in hot with a lot of hype. It draws huge lines from opening to closing time, and people have been raving about it for the last several weeks. I just tried it out, and (oh my god) it definitely lives up to the reputation. I’m. In. LOVE. 800 Degrees is a Subway style Neapolitan pizzeria. You choose from one of three base pizzas–Margherita, Bianca, or Marinara, and then you choose from a huge selection of gourmet meats, cheeses, and veggies. They build it assembly line style and bake it right in front of you in a brick oven, and in minutes, you have a hot, fresh, perfect pizza with a thin and chewy crust and a ton of flavor.

Topping Selection (not my picture)

They also have salads, burrata plates, and gelato, all which look to die for. Aside from the amazing food, a huge draw for 800 Degrees is the unbeatable price, which fits nicely into a college kid’s budget. The pizza bases cost $5-6, and each topping costs $1, so for about $8 you can have a delicious pizza big enough for one really hungry person, but also good enough size to share or save half for later (if you have the willpower).

With beautiful topping choices like rock shrimp, soppressata, truffled cheese, broccolini, and marinated heirloom tomatoes, it was really hard to narrow it down.

Read on to see what I decided on!

Red Velvet Happy Birthday Cake

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Yesterday was my best friend/roommate’s 21st birthday! Happy Birthday Alexa!!

As you should be well aware, I bake birthday cakes for my friends. Today’s cake du jour is Red Velvet! Red Velvet cake is delicious all the time, but a Red Velvet Birthday Cake is even better. Something about adding the birthday ingredient in there just makes it so much more tasty. Also, when said cake is really easy to make, and comes with the most perfect cream cheese frosting you have ever laid eyes on, then it is even more wonderful. This cake is moist, has a very nice density to it, and came out in a lovely deep velvety red. The frosting makes enough to frost the cake very generously, which in my opinion, is the only way to frost. Skimpy frosting is simply unforgivable. Don’t wait for a birthday to make this one, celebrate any day! How about today? It is Leap Day after all! That seems like it would warrant a nice cake, especially this very nice cake. Besides, you won’t get to enjoy cake on this day for another 4 years!

Red Velvet Birthday Cake

Portobello and Enoki Mushroom Soup

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*Announcement*

The food trucks are no longer coming to the UCLA campus! I’m absolutely devastated. I’m so sorry, but Food Truck Friday is now going to be much more infrequent, because I’m going to have to trek off campus to find them, and it’s hard to say when I’ll be able to pencil that in. I’m trying to figure out something interesting to fill that void with, but for now, I’ll share with you something I recently cooked up.

I may or may not have mentioned this, but I’m souper into soup. I’m also souper into cheesy puns. Souper? How lame. I love a good creamy soup, but I hate all of the fat and calories that come with that, so I try to find ways to lighten things up. I found some souper (aye, make it stop!) awesome sales on mushrooms, so I bought a couple interesting looking varieties and got to work brainstorming on what to do with them. The weather just begged for some soup, so I thought a cream of mushroom soup would be pretty wonderful. I picked up baby portobellos and enoki mushrooms. I was a little intimidated by the enokis. They looked pretty freaky and I’ve never had them before, but I figured I’d just go with it, and it worked out really well. My soup came out earthy and comforting but not too heavy. Other than the mushrooms, the ingredients for this soup are extremely basic which makes this really easy and fairly inexpensive to make. You could probably use any kind of mushrooms to make this as well, so be creative!

Portobello and Enoki Mushroom Soup

Triple Layer Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookie Dough Bars

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Happy Mardi Gras! In honor of Fat Tuesday, I’m gonna make you all fat. I devised these bars for my friends so we could have some road trip snacks on the way to Mammoth, and they got devoured. It was almost scary. These are so wonderful and decadent and perfect in every way. They please cookie lovers, brownie lovers, chocolate lovers, and lovers of all things delicious. They’re so beautifully divine that I’m running out of adjectives to describe how luscious and exquisite they are. Seriously, don’t make me pull out a thesaurus and just trust me and make them right now.

Funny anecdote to reinforce how heavenly these are…

Upon tasting one, my friend told me that he would “wife me in a second.” That thought was so horrifying that I almost boycotted my own dessert on the spot, but if you’re looking for a marriage proposal, then this would probably be a good start.

Pick up your jaw and wipe the drool from your chin, and get in your kitchen now. Put on some oversized shades and a nondescript outfit, because your popularity is going to reach such heights that you won’t be able to pump gas or walk your dog without appearing in the next issue of People magazine.

Here we go…

Triple Layer Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookie Dough Bars

Food Truck Friday: Food Truck Panel

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We’re doing something a little different this week for Food Truck Friday. A few days ago, my school was genius enough to host a food truck panel event, where founders of some of LA’s favorite food trucks, an acclaimed blogger, and a Pulitzer Prize winning food critic came together to talk about about all of my favorite things: food and food trucks. I feel like this panel was hosted specifically for me. In attendance were Roy Choi, founder of the Kogi BBQ truck, Freya Estrella and Natasha Case of Coolhaus, Erik Cho of Frysmith, as well as Cathy Nhu, the girl behind gastronomyblog.com, and food critic Jonathan Gold.

Kogi BBQ is the first food truck I ever experienced, back before my blogging days. I cannot wait for them to be in my hood, so I can share with you one of the single most intoxicatingly delicious foods ever to pass my lips. Kogi’s Roy Choi is really the man that started the food truck craze. When he went from slinging tacos on the street at hungry club goers, to taking his grub mobile, LA went ape shit. There are many Korean taco trucks trying to do what he does, but none come anywhere close. The passion that Roy puts into his food is remarkable, and his tacos are divine without being pretentious or contrived. Hearing him speak about how he got started and his philosophies on food, food trucking, and living life was fantastic.

Kogi tacos

Natasha Case put her UCLA architecture education to use in a medium that does not typically come to mind immediately. Rather than design houses, she designed Coolhaus. This is not your neighborhood ice cream truck. They made their debut at Coachella in a truck purchased from Craigslist for less than three grand that didn’t even run. They are now extremely successful, constructing sandwiches all over LA as well as NYC and Miami. With ice cream flavors like brown butter bacon, Manhattan cocktail, and white chocolate olive, these frozen treats are truly unique. Coolhaus served free samples after the panel, and I tried a red velvet cookie with pistachio black truffle ice cream. My first bite left me a bit confused. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the black truffles in my ice cream. But after a couple more bites, I realized that it was just off the wall enough to work. The truffles lend some salt and an almost meaty quality to the ice cream. I’m sure that description did not convince you, but it was pretty good, nonetheless. The cookie was quite nice, but really not overly impressive. All in all, I think Coolhaus has an interesting, innovative concept, but based on my flavor combo, I’m not their number one fan. I’ll have to try it again!

Coolhaus sandwich

I was happy to see Frysmith‘s Erik Cho at the panel, as I have already featured his truck here. He too, gave out samples at the end, which were really a pretty healthy portion of fries. I got to try the Rajas fries this time–crispy fries topped with fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions and shawarma-marinated steak with Jack cheese. When I got my boat of fries, I had the most ridiculous grin on my face, because I knew that I was about to experience magic. Something about Frysmith’s flavor combinations just sweep me away on a wave of fry-cstasy. The Rajas fries were a lot different from the Sweet Potato fries that I tried before. While those were much sweeter and creamier, these had an intriguing slow burn from the poblanos, and a lot of body to them from the steak. I was in utter bliss.

Frysmith's Rajas fries

Aside from the food truckers, we got to hear from Cathy Nhu, whose gastronomyblog honestly stomps all over mine. The primary focus of her blog is the food that she experiences in her travels. She has done restaurant reviews for eateries all over LA, the US, and the world, highlighting her experiences in Vietnam. She has an overwhelming list of recipes for dishes both exotic and familiar. I actually just made some cookies that I found on her blog, which I will be featuring in the coming weeks.

Banh Mi, featured on Saigon's Top 10 on gastronomyblog

The panel was moderated by Jonathan Gold. He currently writes for LA Weekly, and formerly for Gourmet Magazine. The way he talks about food is so eloquent and captivating, which explains why he is the first food critic to win a Pulitzer Prize. I tried to talk to him after the panel, but apparently I only possess the skill of written word, and not spoken, because I stuttered and blanked. It was quite silly. Next on the to-do list, learn how to talk…

Jonathan Gold

It was such an awesome experience to be in the presence of people who have such passion for food. I felt at home among foodies and the other foodie groupies like myself in attendance, and it reinforced the glaringly obvious fact that food has to be in my future. Whether I’m in a truck, a brick and mortar establishment, a byline on the pages of a magazine, or on TV, look out for me : )

Food and I, we belong together <3

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