crispy chicken breast

So tonight it was back to Buddha’s Belly in Santa Monica.  Last time, if you remember from my previous post, I had the Thai Green Curry Chicken.  This time, I tried something I had not had before–Crispy Chicken Breast.

crispy chicken breast

The chicken is prepared with mandarin orange peel, kaffir lime leaf and an orange-ginger sauce.  On the side there was edamame sushi rice, a delicious cucumber salad, and steamed broccoli.  The cucumber salad had a wonderful vinegar taste with a dash of red pepper that made the thinly sliced cucumber taste almost like hot pickles!  The sushi rice and steamed broccoli was best mixed with the sauce and juices of the chicken, in my opinion. 🙂

All in all, I was pleased and enjoyed a delicious meal.  I would definitely order it again.  If you are ever at their locations in Santa Monica or on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles I recommend you order this dish.

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blueberry mint jam

blueberry mint jam

Tonight I tried out a new combination for me.  I was inspired by a recipe I saw in the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.

I had some organic blueberries in my refrigerator that I bought at the grocery store along with some fresh mint.  I cooked the jam with the same recipe as my raspberry jam, except I finely chopped the mint and added roughly a teaspoon to the blueberries as they cooked.  The end result was really good, but the mint was a little too subtle for my liking.  Next time I will try to increase the amount of mint.

Next up I have been itching to try a combination of basil and raspberry.  I’ll let you know how it turns out, of course!

Happy jamming! 🙂

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Just a quick note, yesterday I got a new All-Clad d5 LTD2 10″ Fry Pan.  My local Williams-Sonoma had them on sale for 20% off!!  I just couldn’t pass up the deal so I found myself walking out the door with a brand new pan.

all-clad d5 ltd2 10" fry pan

I christened it tonight with a couple steaks (I told you I was making an effort to cook more beef since I feel like I neglect it sometimes).  I cooked them with olive oil and some rosemary, thyme, a diced piquillo pepper and some salt and pepper.  I made a quick gravy out of the pan drippings with chicken stock, white wine, scallions, pepper, a splash of half-and-half and a touch of butter to finish.  It was delicious!

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fusion time at zengo

Last night we were walking around downtown Santa Monica trying to pick a restaurant.  I definitely wanted to eat somewhere that we had not been yet, so we finally decided on Zengo at the newly re-opened Santa Monica Place mall.

Zengo offers fusion cuisine with a mix of Asian and Latin American flavors.  All of the items on the menu are small, tapas-esqe plates that are meant to be shared.  We tried four different items to get a nice sampling of what Zengo had to offer.

First up was the miso soup, probably one of our favorites of the meal, that had tofu, tomato, wakame (a type of seaweed), and truffle oil.

Next came the Thai chicken empanadas with poblano chile, oaxaca cheese, and a mango-curry salsa served on a pool of Thai peanut sauce.  I’m a big fan of peanut sauce, so this was my number two choice for the evening.

thai chicken empanadas

After the empanadas we had pork carnitas rice noodles with pork shoulder, mushrooms, cashews, hot ‘n sour sauce with a soft poached egg on top, and their wok fried rice with duck, shrimp, pork, egg, carrot, and scallions.

wok fried rice

pork carnitas rice noodles

Overall it was a good meal.  However, the rice and noodles were a little bit on the “heavy” side.  The ambiance of the restaurant definitely gets an A+.  It is a beautiful new indoor/outdoor location on the third floor overlooking Third Street Promenade at 3rd St and Broadway.  However, it was very dark so not the perfect setting for picture taking.  Sorry!

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favorite herbs – sage…makes birds happy

Herbs are, I’m sure you would agree, indispensable in the kitchen.  While salt and pepper pack a mean one-two against blandness, a dish just isn’t complete without a trusty herbal sidekick.

I definitely have my favorites, as most people tend to do.  However, I do unlike most people (I’m assuming–please correct me if I’m wrong) codify my herbs into a hierarchy of preference.  My list is definite.  Concrete.  Carved into stone immemorial like a classical Greek freeze.

I love these herbs so much I couldn’t resist sharing them with you.  In ascending order, of course!  My criteria for my list is very simple, and their place on my top three list is set by my criteria.

What is my standard you may ask?  I’m not sure if you could measure it scientifically, but basically it is my gut “damn that smells good” reaction when I chop the fresh herb.  I know all of you foodies out there know exactly what I’m talking about.  The visceral, primal reaction when you smell something that just makes your mouth water and your eyes roll back in your head.  That’s my criteria–how much of “that” reaction I get when using these herbs.

First up, good old #3.  Sage.

Can you imagine a Thanksgiving without sage?  Neither can I.  Just trying to think about it sends me into cold sweats.  A turkey is just not a turkey without sage.  When flanked by #4 Rosemary (also fantastic, but hey, I doubt you would read a 20 part series on herbs, so let’s stick to the top three, ok?) the turkey soars to culinary heights with the addition of sage.

Sage brown butter!  Fried sage! Sage and olive oil crusted lamb! I could go on.

Suffice it to say, if I woke up one day and all of the sage in the world had been magically whisked away to oblivion I would be one sad, sad foodie.

Coming up next–#2


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