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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gourmet on the East-side!

It was my husband's golden birthday on the 28th of November, the night we arrived in Kauai. I wanted to take him somewhere nice, so I tried to search for a fancier restaurant along the East coast of Kauai where we are staying. I came across a cute little place called, Eastside which opened in 2008 by a Vassar graduate from California. The cuisine is classified as Pacific Rim featuring a blend of Hawaiian, Asian and European flavors. The atmosphere is casual and beachy, a great place to take your family out for a special occasion. I ordered their hoisin glazed pork ribs with pineapple fried rice. Adam ordered a butter poached mahi mahi atop risotto, green beans and a sweet tomato compote. Both dishes were packed with rich with flavor and beautifully presented. Adam's risotto broth was sweetened with a hint of coconut milk and rich butter glaze. My ribs were fall off the bone tender and sweet with hoisin and soy. I was super stuffed after the meal, but it was highly satisfying after a long day of boogie boarding! 

Check out their website if you'd like to know more:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Fresh Catch, a seafood market in Honolulu means just that, FRESH! Fresh Catch came highly recommended to my by a friend who frequents the Island. It's just like a meat counter at a specialty deli, rows and rows of the best quality product. It was hard for me to make a choice as to what to order because quite frankly, I wanted it all! I settled on a spicy sesame and soy ahi poke, rice, lomi salmon and shrimp poke. Poke can be found everywhere in Hawaii in every variety under the sun from octopus, to salmon to mussels. Modern poke usually consists of cubed raw ahi (yellowfish tuna), marinated with sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, limu seaweed and chili powder (wikipedia). 

I was quite impressed by the powerful flavors and fresh ingredients. This place is not for the seafood novice, sorry guys- no popcorn shrimp at this hot spot :) If you are traveling to Honolulu, don't miss this one!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Only on the Islands of Hawaii will you find sushi and spam in the same store, let alone in the same packaging! Spam has found its way into the hearts and minds of Hawaiian culture- but certainly not mine! Spam is a processed meat product sold in small cans manufactured by Hormel in Austin Minnesota of all places! Spam is so gelatinous, you can cut it with a butter knife. Hawaii and Guam consume the greatest quantities of Spam in the world.  Spam became popular in Hawaii during WWII when meats we hard to come by and which cost an arm and a leg. Spam was a cheap alternative. Spam atop rice in a sushi roll is called, musubi. I told myself I had to try spam at least once in Hawaii, so I bought a musubi roll at a gas station. I ate a small corner of the spam and immediately felt sick to my stomach, the flavor is unlike any meat I know of and the consistency reminded me of cat food from a can, gooey and thick with gelatinous fat! I am glad I can now say that I've tried spam and that I will NEVER do it again :0. 

The other photos shown, represent the unique varieties of snacks offered at all gas stations in Hawaii. Needless to say, these Hawaiians have a slightly different palate from that of Mainlanders!!  


When the dim sum bug bites you, the only option you have is to give in. I know, it seems crazy to go back to the same restaurant twice while you're on vacation in the same city, but I can't help that Mei Sum in Honolulu's Chinatown is AMAZING! Back again, trying new treats and sharing with you! 
Delicious pork and vegetable sui mai 

Mochi rice balls with thin egg shell- sticky goodness!
Bean curd roll- too gummy :(
Juicy Shanghai dumplings- sooo yummy

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Roadside food trucks can be found sprinkled all over the Island of Oahu. Drive out of the chain-ridden Waikiki beach and enjoy great fresh food at a fraction of the cost. Today, we drove along the coast to the East beaches and onward to the North Shore. We took a pit stop at this "Shrimp Truck" and ordered the popular garlic shrimp and spicy ahi poke bowl. Shrimp plates are extremely popular because of the accessibility of cheap seafood. The ahi poke was coated with a finger-licking mixture of fish roe, green onion, mayo, hot sauce and spices. The shrimp was pretty straight forward, cooked shell on with a generous pile of fresh garlic and sweet chili sauce atop a bed of white rice. On the side, you see a macaroni salad. Hawaiians go crazy for their macaroni salad made with mayo, whole milk, brown sugar, cider vinegar, elbow macaroni, carrots and celery. If you find yourself traveling in Hawaii, do yourself a favor and STOP at the food trucks- they are NOTHING to fear :)


Lunch plates at Ono's Hawaiian Foods, as featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations!!
The Hawaiian plate lunch typically includes:
      - White rice
      - Poi = pureed taro root
      - LauLau = slow cooked pork wrapped in taro leaf
      - Lomi Salmon = tomato and salmon salad
      - Kalua Pig = pork shoulder cooked in an underground   
                          oven and then shredded
      - Pipikaula = Hawaiian beef jerky 
      - Haupia = coconut pudding


Yesterday we took the car into Honolulu's Chinatown. Chinatown in Honolulu is like no other Chinatown I have been too because of the wide array of countries represented. You can find Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Cantonese and many other cultural groups selling their goods and products. I heard about a great dim sum spot called Mei Sum, so we checked it out. Below is a description of our tasty meal!

Mochi rice cake wrapped in lotus leaf 
Sticky mochi rice pulled apart
Scallop and spinach dumpling
Corn and fish cakes with mushrooms
Pan-fried pork and vegetable bun
A look inside the bun!
Dumpling steamers

Friday, November 25, 2011


Aloha from Waikiki Beach! For the next week I will be spending my honeymoon on the Islands of Hawaii and want to include you on my foodie encounters. We landed in the afternoon on Thanksgiving day exhausted from our 13+ hour day of travel ;(. Starving because of time change, we rush to the first restaurant we find, a Mexican joint of all things for a snack and then proceeded to a decent sushi bar on Waikiki. Below are a few highlights from our first days meal. 

Please keep checking for further postings on our best Hawaiian finds!! - Thanks for joining me on my foodie adventures, I hope you enjoy :)

Chips & Guac at a Mexican Joint off Waikiki
The View from the Sensei Seafood Restaurant we Dined at
Delicious Sweet Chili Glazed Calamari in a Fried Wonton Basket at Sesei Seafood

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Anchor Fish & Chips

Friday night I joined my family at the Anchor Fish and Chips for dinner. The Anchor opened about two years ago off of 13th Avenue NE and University, just down the street from Erte and the Modern. I have been wanting to try their famous fish and chips since they opened, but never got around to making the drive... or waiting an hour for a table. The restaurant is quite small and features a large open kitchen, a small bar serving beer and wine, a few tables and some intimate booths. The restaurant feels perfectly placed in it's NE working class home, feeling as if they had been a staple in the neighborhood for a lifetime. The decor is dark and cozy, without any fuss; much like their food.
My party and I arrived around 7pm on Friday night (they don't take reservations) and had to wait for nearly an hour and half so we passed the time with a drink and trivia at the 331 club down the street. Because seating is limited and demand is high, people wait and wait they do! When we finally sat down to eat, we were all starving and ordered right away. I ordered the fish and chips (of course!) with a side order of their homemade tarter sauce. The menu as pictured above is quite small. If you are looking for a salad or a light meal you better head on down to Erte, because everything on the menu is fried and heavy, but well worth the indulgence. Our food came up quickly after we ordered and we didn't waste any time before chowing down. The fish was perfectly tender, and battered with a light, airy dough, fried to a crisp golden brown. The chips are thickly cut in the traditional style, and sprinkled liberally with salt. They are tasty but a bit too soft for my liking, a crispier fry would have sent me soaring! Tarter sauce comes at an extra 50 cents and is well worth it. White vinegar is available at each table to dip your fish and chips, a traditional favorite of the Irish and Scottish. The meal was extremely satisfying and as they say on their menu, "it's the real deal"! I would like to return for another go and try their famous pasties. However, I'll be sure to arrive when they open or late at night when the lines have died down. 

Click here for a link to their website!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Trip to Asia...

Tonight I wanted to capture the flavors of Asia by making a twist on lo mein using an oyster and black bean base. I visited an Asian grocer I had never been to before to gather my ingredients. The grocery is called, United Noodles located off of 
E 26th and Hiawatha. United Noodles is nicer than the groceries I frequent on Eat Street. United Noodles has an vast inventory of foods both fresh, frozen and pantry including a small cafe featuring fresh sushi and authentic Asian classics. I even picked up my favorite snack, dried squid!!, believe it or not, dried spicy squid is pretty tasty. Follow my recipe below and satisfy your chinese food craving without the grease and msg of take-out without losing flavor!

United Noodles
2015 East 24th Street  Minneapolis, MN 55404 (612) 721-6677

Vegetable and Shrimp Lo mein in an Oyster and Black Bean Sauce
(serves 4-5)

1 package lo mein noodles
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced carrot
2 tsp ginger 
2 cups broccoli
1 can chopped water chestnuts
1 can baby corn 
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp garlic black bean paste
1 cup thin strips of red pepper
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup diced shrimp

Boil noodles according to package directions and set aside. Heat wok with half of your sesame oil and add onion, ginger, garlic, shallot and carrot and saute over medium high heat for five minutes. Add broccoli and saute until tender. Add water chestnuts, baby corn and sauces and saute over med-low heat. In another large saute pan add the rest of the sesame oil and drained noodles over high heat. Stir noodles until the edges just begin to crisp. Add noodles to vegetable mixture as well as the shrimp and red pepper and saute until shrimp cooks through. Plate with a few bean sprouts on top for crunch and enjoy!

Beauty of the Bounty

Have you ever eaten a purely seasonal meal? If you have, you'll know that the flavors are intensified and without a lot of fuss with sauces and glazes, the natural beauty of the food can shine. Last night, I decided to make a healthy meal using foods readily available in the grocery store. With asparagus, delicata squash, carrots and brown rice, I made an extremely simple meal something extraordinary, solely based upon natural chemistry. I was excited to try delicata squash, a unique variety I sampled during dinner at a friends home. Delicata is a winter squash but shares more similarities with summer squash varieties like zucchini and spaghetti squash.  Delicata is unique because the skin is quite thin making it delicious to eat, just like you would a potato skin. The taste of the roasted squash is unlike any squash I have tried, this squash is richer and packed with intense flavor reminding me of candied butter. The squash is creamy and sweet, but not overly sweet. I would compare delicata to a fabulous sweet potato mixed with sweet corn puree. If you are looking to try delicata squash, hurry up and head to your nearest farmers market or Rainbow Foods before the season concludes. 

In the photo posted above, I have roasted asparagus with a fried egg gooing over the vegetable. If you have never mixed asparagus with an egg, you are missing out! Restaurants all over the country have been rushing to get this to-die-for combo on their app menus. There is something about the creaminess of the yolk with the salty, earthiness of the asparagus that makes this a fearless pair. I recommend a poached egg or fried and adding a bit of toasted panko breadcrumbs over the top for crunch factor! 

If you are curious as to how to roast vegetables here is the skinny:

Roasting Delicata Squash- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and half squash. Remove seeds and excess skin. Place on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter and salt. Cook in oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on how creamy you like your squash. The skin should be beginning to brown when you take them out of the oven.

Roasted Asparagus and Carrots- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut and wash vegetables, arrange on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. The carrots will likely need to bake for 10 more minutes past the asparagus. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Sweet Corn and Cod Chowder

Today marked the first day of snow, actually for the record- the first day of snow flurries! To me, it's all the same. Cold is cold is cold is cold. Whether it's snowing or just plain blustery, I need something to keep my mind off the winter blues. My main go-to for nipping the winter blues in the bud has often been to come home, light a few candles, play some Tori Amos and start chopping! Soups tend to do the trick for a few reasons, one being that they perfume the entire house with scents of warm home cooking, secondly they warm and soothe a sore throat and third, they are damn tasty when slow cooked. Tonight I made a delicious chowder with sweet corn and cod. Chowders for those of you who may not know, are any seafood or vegetable soup which contain milk or cream. Chowders are often thought of as being thick, but this is not always the case as shown in my recipe. Enjoy the recipe and stay warm this winter ;)

"Breaking the Winter Blues" Chowder  
(serves 8)
5 baby red potatoes, diced 
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp olive oil 
2 cups diced celery 
1 cup chopped carrot
1 whole onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp thyme
Pinch salt, pepper and sweet paprika or old bay seasoning 
3 pieces smoked bacon, diced 
2 cans low-sodium chicken broth 
1 cup milk
1 can sweet corn 
1 can creamed corn 
2 cups diced cod, or any white fish
Garnish- white cheddar cheese and sour cream

Start by boiling diced potatoes until tender and set aside. In large pot, heat olive oil under medium high heat. Add celery, onion, carrot, garlic and spices to pot and cook 5 minutes. Add diced bacon and cook until lightly browned. Then, stir in chicken broth and potatoes, bringing to a boil. After sauce boils, add milk, corn, creamed corn and cod and simmer on low for 10 minutes. After fish cooks, remove heat and serve with garnishes if you like!

Fiesta Fajita Salad!

Dinner tonight featured left-over black and pinto bean mixture from the burritos I made earlier this week (pictured in previous blog post). The grilled shrimp atop the mound of lettuce was rubbed with a "bold" taco seasoning from Penzeys Spices located in the heart of uptown. Penzey's Spices uses only the best quality herbs and features a wide array of wonderful blends. The taco blend I used to highlight the shrimp included: salt, onion, paprika, tomato powder, cumin, red pepper, garlic, cilantro, oregano and black pepper. Remaining in the fiesta fajita were Trader Joe's fire-roasted pepper and onion mix, which is ALWAYS a staple in my freezer as well as sour cream, salsa and my favorite Valencia hot sauce!

Click here for a link to Penzeys Spices!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Black & Pinto Bean Burritos

Tonight I made delicious vegetarian burritos from cookinglight. In the recipe, they specify kidney beans- but I decided to use refried pinto beans instead. Another ingredient I added to the recipe were fire-roasted green and bell pepper mix, found in the frozen aisle of Trader Joes. The peppers add a great smokey flavor to the already delicious
combination of beans and spices. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dinner Tonight: Angel Hair Pasta with Jumbo Shrimp and Cremini Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce

Dinner tonight took it's form beginning from the jumbo shrimp I had ready to be used. When you buy a great product like meat or fish, it's best to use them right away when they're fresh versus waiting until they fall out of the freezer at you! Normally I will gather inspiration for a recipe at the grocery store, where I often find a great product on sale and build from there. 
One thing I try to keep in mind is price, one big reason to cook at home is the cost in savings as compared with a restaurant meal.  For this reason I always try to build a meal from a sale and use products I have already at home to fill. Tonight, I decided on a pasta because it had been a while since I'd made one and I choose angel hair, because I don't typically pick angel hair and felt like a change. The recipe I created is pretty simple and tasty. The cremini mushrooms add a rich earthy flavor to the pasta, while the white wine adds a beautiful floral aroma, sure to fill your house :)

Angel Hair Pasta with Jumbo Shrimp & Cremini Mushrooms in a White Wine Sauce
(serves 6-8)

1 box angel hair pasta
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil 
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 sm box cremin mushrooms, or your favorite variety 
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup milk
1/2-1 cup cup dry white wine
2-3 tbsp butter
16-20 jumbo shrimp, cleaned and thawed
Salt, pepper, onion powder and red chili flake if you like heat

Begin by cooking angel hair to box instructions and set aside (drizzle noodles with olive oil in colander to prevent sticking), reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid for sauce. Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat, add garlic and onion until lightly browned, turn heat down to low and add mushrooms. Saute mushrooms and onion mixture with reserved cooking water, thyme and oregano for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Add white wine and saute until bubbling, add milk and butter and saute 5 more minutes. Add shrimp to sauce until shrimp turn pink and add salt, pepper, onion powder and chili if you like. Add more wine if the sauce looks thin, or add a tab more or butter. Toss sauce with noodles and combine. Drizzle with a final touch of olive oil or truffle oil if you have, and a sprinkle of aged fontina or parmesan. Enjoy!