pink’s

both cameron and lena saw a food network show featuring pink’s in hollywood so last weekend ken, shelley, lena, cameron, and i went there to enjoy some heart-stopping goodness.

pink's
“mmm… hot dogs!”

we went on sunday around 2, and there was a pretty long line. i think it took about an hour to get our dogs. we got really hungry because we could smell the food the whole time we were waiting.

here’s our food:
dogs
five dogs and…

fries and onion rings
fries and onion rings

it was quite tasty. i had the bacon chili cheese dog, and i didn’t feel bad at all afterwards. i think it was the perfect size. big enough to fill you up but not so large as to make you feel disgusting afterwards.

bacon chili cheese dog
bacon chili cheese dog (topped w/3 strips of bacon, tomatoes & cheese)

i took a bite of lena’s millennium dog, which was pretty good but kind of too big and messy:

millennium dog
millennium dog (12-inch jalapeno dog with chili, guacamole, grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce)

cameron and shelley both tried the martha stewart dog. i took a bite of cameron’s and liked it a lot.

martha stewart dog
martha stewart dog (10″ Stretch Dog, relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut & sour cream)

ken had the intense looking mullholland dog:

mullholland drive dog

mullholland drive dog (10″ STRETCH dog grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, nacho cheese & bacon)

the fries and onion rings were also nicely seasoned and had the perfect crispiness. too bad this place has such long lines. but i guess if you have time, you will enjoy a tasty dog. don’t forget to get extra bacon!

christmas eve dinner

my brother, jen, and i prepared a yummy christmas eve dinner for our family and dr. shia’s family. we spent about $20/person.

first we made a sesame crusted seared tuna with some fields greens drizzled with a mango dressing my brother made. we also had some fresh tomatoes and basil served on the side. and my brother made a mustard wasabi sauce for the fish. this was really really delicious. i love raw tuna. and the sauce and dressing were both very good.

seared tuna and salad

then my brother made his favorite salad. it is a really great salad. it has spinach and watercress, roasted almonds, and then a warm orange, red onion, and sherry vinegar dressing.

we also made some oven-roasted red potatoes with just some extra virgin olive oil, pepper, and kosher salt…

potatoes

and poached salmon using the recipe from cooking class.

poached salmon

we also made some pea sprouts (dou miao), garlic bread, and STEAK. for the steak (filet mignon), my brother found a recipe that called for lots of pepper on the outside and some other stuff. we used my handy dandy dutch oven to cook them. and we used our handy dandy meat thermometer to get them to perfect medium-rare. my brother also made some sort of tasty sauce by cooking down beef broth and red wine. and mushrooms i think.
here is my plate:

my plate

let’s get a better look at the meat…

mmm... meat

mmm… it was all really tasty. then jen baked a yummy chocolate cake with cute holiday sprinkles:

cake

and the shias brought a tiramisu ice cream cake. and we had some vanilla ice cream too.

dessert

it was a great meal. well-balanced and all the food complemented each other very well. success and deliciousness!

finally, fancy picture my brother took using his new camera (it looks so professional!):

fancy picture

we won!!!

the caltech women’s basketball team WON a CONFERENCE game!!! 55-53 against pomona-pitzer.  i saw andrea at interhouse and she was so excited she screamed.  i saw lindsay too and we hugged.  oh, what a happy day!

we won!!!

vegetarian chili

during the holidays i made vegetarian chili for the christmas potluck with my high school buds. jean’s a vegetarian and i remember one time we had a potluck and everyone brought meat. hahaha. this christmas potluck ended up being very vegetarian friendly.

here’s my plate:

yummy food

there is salad, vegetarian chili, vegetarian lasagna, tofurkey (jean made it in the shape of a fat christmas tree), fried rice, roasted chicken, chicken wings, chicken nuggets, and football sushi. all very tasty.

i didn’t get to get seconds :( mr. clyde the rabbit got sick so i went to take care of him. (he is better now!)

anyway, the vegetarian chili was really tasty and really easy. compared to the work and time involved in the meat chili i make, this so much easier and really fast. i will definitely make it again. and it’s from rachael ray!

i read some of the reviews and got the idea to add a can of corn and some fresh tomatoes, which were both nice additions.

veg-head three bean chili
from the food network (rachael ray’s thirty minute meals)

this recipe made a huge pot. it serves A LOT of people!

veggie chili

2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) olive or vegetable oil
1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 cup pale beer or vegetable stock/broth
1 (32- ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can black beans
1 (14-ounce) can dark red kidney beans
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne hot pepper sauce, several drops
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup spicy vegetarian refried beans
Toppings:
8 ounces (2 cups shredded) spicy monterey jack or smoked cheddar
Chopped scallions, whites and greens
Diced fresh seeded plum tomato
Blue and red corn tortilla chips or black bean tortilla chips, for dipping

Over moderate heat, add oil to a deep pot and combine onion, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes to soften vegetables. Deglaze pan with beer or broth, add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, and stirring to combine.
Season chili with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and salt. Thicken chili by stirring in refried beans. Simmer over low heat about 5 to 10 minutes longer, then serve up bowls of chili and top with shredded cheese, scallions, and tomatoes. Place bowls on charger plates piled with assorted tortilla chips.

cooking class FINAL

so for our final class, each group had to come up with an original 6-8 course meal. we weren’t allowed to use any recipes from class or from outside, but we could ask our TAs/Tom/judges for help with our ideas. At 1pm the ingredients were all out for us to look at, and the cooking started at 3pm. our group was awesomely hardcore so all of us met at 1pm to look at the ingredients and we spent 2 hours talking about our menu and planning our cooking.

each group got a big chest of meats:

meat chest
chest o’ meat

inside each chest was a rack of lamb, salmon, shrimp, pork, ground beef, frog’s legs, 5 lb. tenderloin, chicken, yogurt, lump crab, and maybe a couple other items.

there were also several tables full of produce and spices:

veggies
veggies

fruits
fruits

spices
lots of spices

more ingredients
more ingredients, like tahini paste, sauces, nuts, oil, etc.

the two ingredients we had to use were frog’s legs and astronaut ice cream.

i think we cooked for about 2.5-3 hours. it was pretty busy but a lot of fun, and our group was very happy with what we’d made at the end.

we brought a sample of each course to the judges’ table in turns, and they gave some comments and ranked each group. i think there were about 10 judges.

first course: tomato, mozzarella, and basil with some balsamic vinegar

mozzarella, basil, and tomato

comments: tom made this for us the first class. simple but delicious.

second course: we wrapped shrimp in bacon and grilled it until cooked. served with a slice of lime skewered to it.

shrimp wrapped in bacon with lime

comments: we tossed around several ideas for wrapping things in bacon. mmm… bacon.

third course: pan-fried frog’s legs with a roasted pepper chutney

frog's legs

comments: we didn’t really know what to do with these. we spent most of the time planning our main courses and desserts, so this was kind of an afterthough. we just put a light batter and pan-fried it. the first batch needed more seasoning. then we roasted an orange pepper and put it through the food processor with a couple other things. it wasn’t our best dish, but it was okay.

fourth course: palette cleanser in the form of a tropical juice drink served in a pineapple

juice

comments: after seeing all the fruits we had available, we decided to make some sort of fruit drink. we ended up putting in pineapple, oranges, bananas, and i think mangoes. after blending the fruit, we also added the astronaut ice cream with made it a little creamier and thicker. it ended up being really tasty and refreshing.

fifth course: fennel, pepper, and thyme rubbed tenderloin with a mushroom and onion marsala sauce served with butter garlic potatoes, crispy string beans, and small red and yellow peppers.

tenderloin

comments: this course was our baby. i think we spent the most thought and effort on this dish, and it turned out beautifully. we just rubbed the 5 lb. tenderloin in the spices and gave it to the kitchen to bake it to medium rare. the potatoes were first boiled then cooked in the pan with butter and garlic. the vegetables were blanched. it was damn tasty.

sixth course: roasted persimmons and pork (grilled?) salad with a creamy honey dressing

salad

comments: it’s been a while since this class so i kinda forgot some of the ingredients. this one turned out really well though. i think this was janice’s baby, and it was awesome. tom mannion said this one was most likely to be served in a restaurant out of everyone’s dishes. i think the persimmons were grilled so they got a little soft. then the pork was marinated with a bunch of stuff, like ginger and garlic and some sauces. i know the dressing was sweet and i remember honey, but i forget what else was in it.

seventh course: i think we were limited to 7 courses so we served these two desserts together. flourless chocolate cake with a mango cream dressing and mango creme brulee
flourless chocolate cake

creme brulee

comments: some of the creme brulee’s didn’t set, so we used those as sauce for the cake, which ended up being really tasty. both these were very yummy.

here’s some more photos from the night:

greg cutting meat
greg cutting our delicious tenderloin

potatoes and veggies
pretty potatoes and veggies

at the end, our team won! yay! everyone’s food looked really good though. our team worked really well together the whole term, and it felt really good to take all we’d learned in the term to design and prepare a great meal together. yay for team three!