Allison Day
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Chop Daddy’s

Formerly known as Pork Belly’s, Chop Daddy’s is a barbecue restaurant in Venice, CA.

With a LivingSocial deal in-hand, Son and I headed to Venice to try it out late last year.

The Chop

The Chop: Brisket smoked for over 12 hours in their in-house smoker, then chopped. Topped with homemade BBQ sauce and cole slaw on a brioche roll.

The Chop
The Belly Up

The Belly Up: Smoked BBQ pork belly topped with homemade coleslaw on a brioche roll.

The Belly Up
Fried pickles and sweet potato tots

Both sandwiches were juicy and delicious, a perfectly messy barbecue meal. The fried pickles and sweet potato tots (which are delicious dipped in the sauce that comes with the fried pickles) rounded out the meal wonderfully.

We don’t get out to Venice, CA very often, but we definitely want to visit Chop Daddy’s again!

Chinese Beef Curry Pastries

Shumai, har gao, char siu, xiao long bao. It wasn’t always the case, but these days dim sum (and dumplings in general) are among my favorite comfort foods. (Seriously, is there anything better than a steamer full of xiao long bao – soup dumplings – on a cold rainy day, or the soft warmth of a char siu bao?)

Also among my list of foods that make me happy, pretty much anything that Jen Yu ever posts on her blog.

She posted these Chinese Beef Curry Pastries to Fridgg two years ago, and I knew I had to make them.

… which I did, a year later.

… and now I’m finally getting around to blogging about them, another year later.

I’m timely like that.

These do take a bit of time to make, what with the pastry dough and wrapping the dumplings, so this recipe would make a great weekend project.

Even better, get the ingredients for several batches (or different types of dumplings), invite a bunch of friends over, and have a dumpling party! (Also known as the best, and tastiest, way to get all your friends to do all the work.) Woohoo!

But whatever you do, don’t be like me and take forever to get around to making these. They’re wonderful, and delicious, and totally worth the time it takes to make them!

Chinese Beef Curry Pastries, from Use Real Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 batch pastry dough
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 egg yolk
Pastry Dough
  • 3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 9 oz butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 8-10 tbsp water

Cooking Directions

  1. To make the pastry dough, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and cut the chilled cubes of butter into the flour until it resembles pea-shaped pebbles. Add water to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, tossing it with a fork to incorporate until it just begins to stick together when you pinch the dough between your fingers. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill it for an hour in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions and a tablespoon of the curry powder in the oil until the onions begin to sweat. Add the beef, shoyu, and remaining curry powder. Cook until the beef browns. Stir in salt, to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. When the dough is fully chilled, set it on a floured workspace and roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch circles with a biscuit or cookie cutter. Combine the scraps, roll it out, and cut more circles until you are out of dough.
  5. Place 1-2 tablespoons of beef filling on each circle of dough and fold the dough over (in half) to form a semi-circle. Pinch the edges together to seal the pastry (feel free to use fancy dumpling sealing techniques, if you know them). Set the pastries on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Beat the egg yolk and brush it over each pastry.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown. Serve hot. Makes 2-3 dozen (depending on how many circles you got from the pastry dough).
  7. Enjoy!

Fishing with Dynamite

Fishing with Dynamite, in Manhattan Beach, CA.

New England Clam Chowdah’, with Neuske’s bacon, Weiser Farm potatoes, and (super snackable) house made oyster crackers.

Overall delicious, and the clams were really sweet.

Squash rolls from the chef’s mom’s recipe, with rosemary butter.

The rolls were light and airy, and we loved the rosemary butter.

Albacore Tuna Tartare with shrimp chips, spicy aioli, Asian pear, and kimchi furikake.

Definitely on the spicy side, but delicious, super fragrant and flavorful, and we loved the idea of using shrimp chips with it.

Thai Shellfish and Coconut Soup, with shrimp, mussel, rice noodles, kaffir lime leaf, and coriander.

Really loved the flavor of the soup – the only problem is it makes me crave Keizo’s Green Curry Soba like crazy!

Poached Half Atlantic Lobster with aromatic vegetables, pee wee potatoes, and Pernod butter sauce.

There was nothing about the meal that we didn’t love, however this was by far our favorite dish of the meal. The lobster was sweet and tender, and the broth was wonderfully fragrant. Oddly enough, it smelled and tasted quite a bit like pho (perhaps from the Pernod?), which got us contemplating how delicious lobster poached in pho broth might be. I’ve been dreaming about this lobster ever since…

Key Lime Pie, with a graham cracker crust and kaffir lime meringue.

This was just tart enough, and not too sweet. We LOVED it. The contrast between the cold lime filling and warmer meringue topping was refreshing, and the roasted marshmallow flavor of the broiled meringue really took the dessert up a level. A fantastic ending to a fabulous meal.

Garlicky Oven-Roasted Chicken

Garlicky Oven-Roasted Chicken

Is there anything better in this world than shatteringly crispy, crunchy chicken skin?

I think not.

Except, perhaps, when it comes attached to an incredibly moist, flavorful chicken thigh… and the entire package is insanely easy to make.

Son‘s been craving Vietnamese food lately, but we’ve been spending a ton of time working, so I haven’t had much time to cook lately. Luckily for me, Andrea Nguyen’s wonderful cookbook, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors, came to the rescue. I needed a meal that would be quick, delicious, Asian enough to satisfy Son, and hopefully something that would make enough that I wouldn’t have to cook much the rest of the week. This recipe fit the bill perfectly – so well, in fact, that I’ll be making it again this weekend. :D

Just look at that crispy skin!

Ingredients

  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 tbsp Maggi sauce, or shoyu
  • 2 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in (about 10 thighs)

Cooking Directions

  1. In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, mix all ingredients except the chicken well, then add the chicken pieces and massage the marinade into them. When possible, peel back the skin to get some marinade between the flesh and the skin as well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hrs, or up to 24 hours (recommended).
  2. Half an hour before cooking the chicken, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Line a baking sheet with foil and put the chicken pieces on the sheet, skin-side down. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
  3. Put the chicken in the oven. After about 15 minutes, when you hear sizzling, use a pair of tongs to carefully flip each piece of chicken. Continue to roast for another 25-45 minutes, or until the skin is browned and crispy, and the juices run clear.
  4. Enjoy!

Fig Tarts

Fig Tarts

There are a lot of cool things that come from being a food blogger. One is the community – there are so many amazing people out there whom I now consider friends, that I never would have met if Son didn’t have the silly idea that I should start a sushi blog eight years ago.

Another cool thing, at least for me, is discovering a world of foods outside of what I grew up with. Don’t get me wrong – my parents are great parents, and did their best to feed us well (or as well as you could feed super picky kids who hated vegetables), but I think most families, like mine, have a list of foods that they do eat, and other foods that they don’t.

And in the last few years, my list of “do eat” foods has expanded to include quite a few foods that, for one reason or another, I never (or rarely) ate before my 20s.

fish.

dill.

tomatoes.

pickles.

brussels sprouts.

asparagus.

eggplant.

fish sauce.

anything Vietnamese.

figs.

Wait… figs?

Okay, I did have Fig Newtons, like, all the time when I was a kid. (Also, raise your hand if you always think of Ramona Quimby when you have Fig Newtons.) But until last summer, I had never, ever in my life eaten a fresh fig (that wasn’t Newtonized) before.

At the very, very end of summer last year, I got a basket of figs in my CSA box. Having never eaten a fresh fig before, I turned to my trusty list of “recipes I want to make someday” to figure out what to do with them. I came across this recipe from Sophisticated Gourmet, and a few sheets of puff pastry later, I was eating a super-simple but very delicious fig tart.

Since it was the end of fig season (and it takes me forever to get a blog post up anyways), I set aside the photos to post next year during fig season. And, well, we can all see how well that worked.

So, since I’ll likely never get this post written if I keep waiting for the next fig season, here’s a fantastic recipe for fig tarts!

You should totally make them next year.

Fig Tarts

Recipe adapted from Sophisticated Gourmet

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • granulated sugar (or, if you have it, vanilla sugar)
  • 4 ripe figs, quartered
  • brown sugar

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry. Cut the pastry into quarters, then place on the cookie sheet.
  3. Sprinkle each piece of puff pastry with the granulated sugar, then top with figs.
  4. Lightly sprinkle the brown sugar over the figs.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the puff pastry is puffed up around the edges and golden brown.
  6. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!