Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Friday!

Ah the weekend. Mostly it's a chance to catch on work I didn't do during the week, but this week is also prepped to be pretty delicious. As you can see, I baked linzer cookies, and they turned pretty good, which I am very proud of. In addition to munching on those this weekend, I was also able to pencil in 2 dates with the bf--something old and something new.

We're going to grab brunch at Bottega Louie on Sunday, which we haven't done in ages because it has just gotten too popular. But we've got a gift card that we've got to use, so hopefully we can get in before the crowds. Tonight, we're trying out the new French restaurant in downtown, Industriel. It's been getting rave reviews! I cannot believe when I moved to this neighborhood it was a Carls Jr. populated mostly by homeless men. Now it is the new chic, trendy spot! Downtown LA still has a long way to go (don't get me started on this subject), but stories like Industriel give me great hope for this neighborhood.

And on the subject of neighborhood updates, Towne, the other new French restaurant across the street from my building looks like it is on the verge of opening any day! If it opens this weekend, maybe I will have to go out for brunch on Saturday too . . . for blog research, you know. What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tiny Hides

After a Bouquet 2 Ways, Blueberry Cheesecake 2 Ways, and Grilled Cheese 2 Ways, you might have been expecting another "2 Ways" post, but I didn't get around to putting one together. Fear not, though! Instead I've got a bunch of cute kitty photos. And who can resist those? This is my kitty, Tiny, and her new favorite toy, a big sheet of paper!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recipe: Grilled Cheese 2 Ways

After years of watching my mom and various roommates, this is the grilled cheese strategy I have developed. I start out by melting some butter in a pan, spreading it around with one slice of bread, and then setting that slice aside to be the top of your sandwich. I assemble the rest with buttered slice on top (the butter side up) and throw it in a pan on medium heat. In order to get my cheese melty before my bread is burny, I place a lid over the sandwich. After a few minutes, I flip so now the buttered top slice is facing down. Then I place the lid back on for just about a minute (less time than I cooked the first side because the pan has had time to heat up). As soon as I hear the cheese start to melt down and sizzle on the pan, it's done! The keys to my strategy are 1) to use real butter, 2) make sure your cheese has a high enough fat content that it will melt well (generally the harder the cheese, the worse it will melt), and 3) be adventurous with everything else! These are some of the variations I have whipped up recently:

Grilled cheese #1: spinach, basil, and goat cheese brie on garlic bread. Goat cheese brie is a millions times creamier than cow's milk brie, which is good and bad. Good because it is unbelievably decadent and delicious on a sandwich. Bad because it is super hard to cut. I added some basil from my little balcony garden to balance the brie out.

Grilled cheese #2: mint, raspberries, and Sartori's bellavitano cheese soaked in raspberry ale on asiago bread. This bellavitano cheese was sharper than I expected, so I'm really glad I paired it with something sweet. The mint (like the basil above) was from my little garden. I feel so sustainable growing food, although admittedly I only grow about .01% of what I eat.

What would you put in your ideal grilled cheese? I'm always looking for new flavor combinations!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Recipe: Blueberry Cheesecake 2 Ways

It is berry season out in California. I know because they have all been on sale like crazy at the grocery store. 16 oz of blueberries for $1! I don't like blueberries that much, but how could I resist?! Plus, I know the bf loves blueberries, and I've had a few blueberry baked goods saved on my Pinterest recipe board that I had been dying to try. So it seemed like a perfect time to stock up and try my hand at making something new.

First up was this no-bake cheesecake. I followed the recipe from the link on Pinterest, but it is Hungarian (or something) translated into English. The result is that the measurements are totally wonky (grams and milliliters), so I messed up the gelatin ratio despite my best attempts at conversion. So don't use that recipe! Try this recipe instead, which looks identical, from what I can tell, except that it is easy to use for us non-metric Americans. Verdict? The cheesecake looked gorgeous and wasn't too hard! But otherwise mine tasted mostly like unflavored gelatin. However, if you actually follow the recipe correctly, I think you might get better results. I'd try it one more time if blueberries go on sale again. Bonus: I really liked using oatmeal in the graham cracker crust. I'm going to do that from now on!

Blueberry cheesecake #2 is the baked kind. The bf was not impressed with the no-bake variety (not that I can blame him), so I went back to something a little more traditional. This one was actually a lemon-blueberry cheesecake with a blueberry sauce. I liked it a lot more! (But that may be because I didn't screw this one up too much.) I used the same delicious crust from the no-bake cheesecake, and from there on, I followed this recipe from this incredibly talented teenager whose calling in life must be pastry chef. Bonus: the blueberry sauce was amazingly easy. Did you know it only takes 3 ingredients and a few minutes to make a delicious fruit sauce? I'm about to put fruit sauce on everything now! French toast? Grilled cheese with brie? Vanilla sorbet? Hellz yeah! This berry sauce technique might be the most useful thing I learned in the last 3 years. (Sorry law school.)

The final step in all cheesecake making is, obviously, to enjoy. Repeatedly.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bouquet 2 Ways

I've been saving up a ton of posts, not purposefully but mostly because I have so many awesome things from the past that I haven't blogged about. So then new stuff gets pushed back while I blog about the old stuff. But this week is going to be all about the new stuff! Starting with two ways I styled the same bouquet.

First, the random assortment:

Second, blossom arranged in order of height and type:

Which style do you like?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Friday!

How about a couple of cutie sea lions to start your weekend? I saw these guys on a whale watching cruise I took with my parents, which is what I wish I had lined up this weekend. Instead I will probably be studying at the new Starbucks that opened on the bottom floor of my building (so convenient!) and hopefully going to the mall to buy some summer sandals. I'm looking for something simple and clean like this. What do you have planned for the weekend?

PS: If you're in LA, the LA Film Festival is going on right now. I went last night and saw About Face, which is an HBO documentary about aging supermodels. It was surprisingly touching! I only wish the film maker held delved more deeply into the women's experiences with drugs, sexual abuse, racism, plastic surgery, and AIDS. Their stories were so interesting. I wanted to know more. The movie made me wish I could sit down with them all over a few bottles of wine and just listen to them talk for hours! Especially Jerry Hall. She was hysterical! It's playing again on Saturday, and for all non-LA residents, it will debut on HBO on June 30th. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dinner at Baco Mercat

I rarely go out to a restaurant and voluntarily order only vegetable dishes. Usually I am lured away from healthy options by the cheesiest, meatiest, and/or carbiest thing on the menu. So you know a menu is good whenever forgo sandwich and pizza options for brussels sprouts, beans, and peaches. Baco Mercat's menu is that good.

There's a few appetizers, a dozen or so veggie-based small plates, and a handful of both baco (sandwich) and coca (flatbread) items on the menu. In addition, there's also around 15 to 20 entree-sized dishes in the meat and seafood sections on the menu. Some how they squish everything onto one page, but there's a lot to digest (visually and gastricly). I chose three veggie small plates: 1) the caesar brussels since Yelp reviewers spoke highly of them, 2) the peaches with goat cheese, honey, and hazelnuts, and 3) a dish involving blue lake and romano beans. Even though it was all fruits and vegetables, it was a lot of food, and I ended up taking the entire bean dish home. My friend got the picadillo flatbread and the ricotta stuffed squash blossoms. Everything was so so fantastic, but if I had to pick my favorites, it would be the caesar brussels and the squash blossoms. Even though I really want to try more of the menu, I'm incredibly tempted to order both of those again.

And, because I clearly cannot go through a meal eating only healthy things, I convinced my friend to split the strawberry-marshmallow cobbler with homemade vanilla semifredo with me. But I have no regrets about it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hello Summer

Goodbye Spring means hello Summer! Doesn't it always seem like the first day of summer is scheduled a little too late in the year? I know it's scientifically decided with the axis and the sun and whatnot. But maybe next year the Earth could just spin a little faster so summer could here a little sooner? These are some images I've collected over the past year on my Pinterest summer board. Right now they're inspiring me to give up studying for the bar, take a job that involves drinks with paper umbrellas, and live in a uniform of easy, beautiful dresses.