Monday, May 11, 2009

A dog day at Dodger stadium

Mom's took to the field before the start of the game to create a human pink ribbon for breast cancer survivors.

Sunday was Mother's Day, but also marked game 3 of 3 in the Dodgers/Giants series in Los Angeles. A group of us, both Dodger and Giants fans decided to make the trek from San Diego to Chavez Ravine and Dodger Stadium.
Philippe is located just outside of Chinatown at 1001 N. Alameda St. It was filled with Dodger fans on the way to the game.

On the way up we stopped at Philippe home of the famous french dip. You can get a french dip with just about any type of meat your heart desires: beef, pork, lamb, turkey. Walk inside this establishment and it feels a little bit county. There is sawdust on the floor and the tables are set up in rows with bar stools near the order counter. Lines are queued up between these table tops, but go fairly quick. For $5.55 you get about a 6-inch sandwich filled with meat straight off the bone. I was expecting to get a side of au jus, but instead that is applied directly to the meat on the sandwich. We also ordered a few slices of apple pie to enjoy while tailgating before the game.

Just about the time we finished our wonderful french dip sandwiches, the parking security came through the lot telling people that they were not allowed to hang around our cars and we needed to proceed into the stadium. Well we weren't happy about that since we had just poured our second round of drinks (which we also found out it was against the rules to drink alcohol and grounds for removal).

Boo to the Dodger organization for making people pay $15 to park and not allowing them to enjoy their time before the game chillin with their friends and enjoying some good food and drink. After going to many a Padre game in San Diego where the tailgating parking lot costs some $30, this was part of the baseball game experience I was greatly looking forward to. And this is another reason why:

Yes people, $12.25 for a large domestic beer. I bought a 6-pack of blonde ale at Trader Joe's the week before for only $6.99! That is robbery. At Petco these days I think a beer will set you back some $7 or $8, but $12,25?! I was just silly enough to purchase one, though.

And then what's visiting a new stadium if you don't partake in the food they are known for. So, even after being full from apple pie and french dip, in the 8th inning I opted for a famous Farmer John Dodger Dog. Here's what I got:

That is one long, skinny wienie. Hope that's no reflection on anything else in the Dodger club.

But I will say, that even though it didn't look too appealing, it did taste mighty fine. Much better than the standard hot dog at Padres games.

And I'm very glad that I did chose to get a hot dog in the 8th inning since the game went for 12. And I'm happy to announce that the Giants game out victorious winning 7-5! Huuuuuuummmm, baby!

Andrea, Alexa and I outside of the Dodger Stadium. We did have to console Alexa a little after the Giants took 2 of 3 in the series.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kitchen gadget

A great kitchen gadget is something that you can use for any meal, no matter what time of day. I have been looking to get an indoor grill/griddle for quite some time. I nearly purchased one from Crate & Barrel only to find when I got to the cash register that it didn't work on my glass-top stove.

I kind of forgot about the quest for a while until I was flipping through my Costco coupon book and came across the Cuisinart Gourmet Griddler 4-in-1 grill/griddle. At $79.99 with coupon it was a little more than I'd wanted to spend, but after using the new gadget 3 times in one day I was convinced that it will be a good investment in the long run.

Meal: Breakfast
Setting: open griddle

I LOVE banana pancakes and was so excited that all of my pancakes turned out perfectly golden brown on my new griddle. I set the temperature at high, as recommended by the instruction manual.

Meal: lunch
Setting: closed grill/panini press

I didn't have any artisanal bread so I just used some of the whole grain sandwich bread I had in the refrigerator. On my panini I put turkey, Gouda cheese, mushrooms and avocado. I lightly spread some butter on top of the bread before putting it on the grill.

Meal: dinner
Setting: open grill/closed grill

A few weeks ago a friend of mine passed along a bag full of lemons. With those lemons I made a fantastic lemon & asparagus pasta dish. Since it was such a light and delicious meal I decided to add a few ingredients, including grilled chicken and zucchini.

2 small to medium sized chicken breasts
1 medium sized zucchini, cut in rounds then in half again (half-moons)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 pound bow-tie pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 3 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Accompaniment: freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Grill or bake chicken. Season with pepper and lemon juice.
Grill zucchini or add it with asparagus in steamer. In a steamer set over boiling water steam asparagus, covered, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus well.

In a 6-quart kettle bring 5 quarts salted water to a boil for pasta.

In a deep 12-inch skillet heat butter and cream over moderately low heat until butter is melted and stir in zest, lemon juice, and salt. Remove skillet from heat and keep sauce warm, covered.
Add pasta to boiling water and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Ladle 1/4 cup pasta water into sauce and drain pasta in colander.

Immediately add pasta and asparagus to sauce and cook over moderate heat, tossing, 1 minute, or until heated through. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste and toss well.

Sprinkle pasta with a little Parmesan and serve more Parmesan on the side.

Friday night food

Key lime coconut cake, yummy!

In case you didn't realize, I've been out of touch with my blog lately. The reason for this being 1) I went on a two week vacation to Panama in the middle of April and 2) things have been a little stressful at work after 192 coworkers were laid off on Thursday.
But I'm here, and I'm ready to share with you a Friday night experience that took place the night before I flew to Panama. My roommate and I decided to invite some friends over to continue a semi-regular Friday night tradition of watching a few episodes of Freaks & Geeks (a Jud Apatow tv series that went off the air after one season). We'd come across some fabulous recipes and decided to make it a mexican-themed night.

Here's what was on the menu:

Since Liz had made the Mexican chicken soup before, she took the reins on that, while I made the empanadas and we both worked on the cake.

I searched through a few empanada recipes and kind of combined a bunch to come up with my final product. One thing that REALLY saved me was the use of Trader Joe's pre-made pizza dough. It's found in the refrigerated section and comes in plain, wheat and herb flavors. For the empanadas I used the plain.

Before working with the pizza dough I cooked the filling. The base of my recipe came from a chicken and chorizo empanada from Smitten Kitchen. Here's what I used inside:
1lb ground turkey
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 California (can also use 2 Turkish bay leaves )
1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; 1 1/2 oz; casings discarded if desired)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (not hot)
1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives (I used jalapeno stuffed olives)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup shredded mexican-blend cheese
3 bags of Trader Joe's pre-made pizza dough
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté onions, garlic, and bay leaves in, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until turkey starts to lightly brown.

Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add olives, wine, and broth and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Reduce heat to moderately low and simmer mixture, covered, 25 to 30 minutes total.

Discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes.

Form Empanadas: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Divide dough equal pieces and form each into a disk. (The remaining dough can be stored in the freezer for future use.) Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Or if you find it easier to work with, stretch the dough with your hands.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling onto center, sprinkle some cheese on top and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or tines of a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Recipe made about 18 hand-sized pockets.


The Key lime coconut cake was also from Smitten Kitchen and was probably the most popular plate of the evening. I won't type out the recipe because we didn't deviate from what was given to us, with the exception that we used Malibu coconut rum instead of plain rum in the glaze.