Friday, September 30, 2011

French toast and Gelson's gelato

I haven't forgotten about my blog.  Really!  It's just that I am a first year medical student.  The increasingly sporadic posting is secondary to impending block exams, so hopefully addressing the primary pathophysiology will alleviate the secondary concern as well.  But for now, here is a post.  In addition to studying more, I've also been eating some more French toast lately.  Remember that sourdough boule from the most recent Farmer's Market co-op?  (Ok, maybe no one remembers it but me).  I turned some of it into this:

French toast is awesome.

And of course, I have to have my fruit and yogurt.

Also, Karthik got a tip from his PBL tutor that there is A Place Nearby Which Sells Handmade Gelato.  Turns out this place is the bakery counter at Gelson's Supermarket in the Westfield Century City mall.  So, last Friday, after a most exciting excursion to Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, we went on a successful gelato quest.  Check it out:

After trying several flavors, I settled on a rather indulgent two scoops - which, as it turns out, is a *lot* of gelato - containing four flavors: chocolate hazelnut, coconut, Amaretto, and frutti di bosco.  Gelato quality is strongly correlated with flavor intensity, and this stuff delivered.  Strong work, strong work.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A feast, first thing Friday

This past Friday morning was our last PBL session of the block.  My group had been rotating who brought coffee and breakfast each time, but for this last session we decided to go all-out, with everyone contributing a different component.  Here was the result:

Quiche (with Swiss cheese and broccoli), chocolate cake (SmittenKitchen's "everyday chocolate cake," which actually turned out more dry and crumbly than I expected, but was still decadent), and strawberries.  Not bad for 8am :-).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekday dinner: Eggplant pseudo-omelet and green beans

For last week's Farmer's Market co-op, I requested eggplant and received quite a bounty, along with green beans, more peaches and nectarines, bell peppers, and a sourdough boule.  On Thursday night, I remembered that my mom used to cook eggplant with ground pork in a certain way that I liked, so I called home and received instructions. 

I sliced enough eggplant to fit in one layer of my biggest saute pan, with some olive oil.  On top of the eggplant, I smushed a thin layer of ground beef (didn't have ground pork) that had been seasoned with soy sauce, minced garlic, ginger, a little salt and sugar; and then beat an egg and drizzled it over everything.  The egg, as it cooked, held the eggplant and beef together.  After a while I flipped the pseudo-omelet over (in sections) to fully cook the meat, sauteed some green beans, toasted some bread, and that was dinner.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Westwood: Pomodoro Trattoria

Last Friday evening, I met up with some old friends (and hometown neighbors).  James is starting his freshman year at UCLA, so I joined him, his brother and mom, and three other family friends for dinner at Pomodoro Trattoria on Westwood Blvd.  Pomodoro is very small, somewhat cramped, and very busy - there were multiple groups waiting outside for the entire ~1.5 hrs that we were there.  Reservations definitely recommended!

To start, warm ciabatta bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  According to Yelp, the gnocchi here is very good, and now I have to say I agree: the gnocchi are tender, sauces are flavorful without being overpowering, and portions are generous.  My dish was the "gnocchi alla paesana" with grilled eggplant, basil, garlic and mozzarella:

James had a "gnocchi caprino" with goat cheese and sun-dried tomato in a cream sauce.  Very rich:

Other plates included the linguine alle vongole, i.e. linguine with clams in white wine sauce:

Scaloppine al marsala, i.e., veal with shallots and mushrooms in wine sauce:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Farmer's Market goodies

One of the things I liked best about living in Palo Alto was the fact that I could walk ~25 minutes or bike <10 minutes to the California Avenue Farmer's Market every week.  Now, not so much.  I really miss the fresh produce and baked goods, though, so I was thrilled when one of my classmates organized a Farmer's Market Co-op.  Max G. is super familiar with the Santa Monica market, and thanks to his efforts, we now reap the benefits on campus.  Last week, for $20 I got all of the following:

Broccoli, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peaches, plums, and tomato basil sourdough bread.  All excellent!  The tomatoes and bread proved to be a particularly good pairing, especially when layered with an over-medium egg, some balsamic vinegar, salt/pepper, and a light shower of grated parmesan:

I'm looking forward to this week's items - supposedly there will be more bread, along with string beans and eggplant.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feta burgers and roasted vegetables

Last Saturday late afternoon and evening: another study group meeting, with another tasty meal.  Burgers with feta, eaten with mushrooms sauteed with a splash of red wine, plus red wine:

Hua wants her burger.  Now.  No more photos.

Red potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and red onion, roasted with garlic, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper:

Then some conversation about ethical issues and psychologically difficult diagnoses ("What would you do if you found out you had Huntington's?"), followed by rapid-fire digital flash card review, which we wrapped up by midnight.  Just another day in med school?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beverly Hills: Harajuku Crepe

On Labor Day morning we didn't have PBL, so instead, Hua, Karthik and I headed to Harajuku Crepe, which we'd been meaning to try for almost a month.  We arrived right after opening time, after a quick visit to Crate & Barrel, and between the three of us tried four crepes. 

For sweet crepes Harajuku offers several batter options, including green tea and Earl Grey, fruits, homemade whipped cream (which unfortunately wasn't ready yet when we were there), assorted sauces, ice creams and mochi ice creams.  There are also savory crepes which revolve around egg/ham/cheese or various salads.

Savory crepe with ham, egg and cheese:

Savory crepe with egg, cheese and tomato (blurry picture, sorry):

Earl Grey crepe with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, and Nutella:

Earl Grey crepe with black sesame ice cream, strawberries, and azuki beans:

Harajuku Crepe also offers Intelligentsia coffee brewed by the cup, and it's excellent.  The combination of great crepes and great coffee (plus free parking), reasonably priced and relatively close to Westwood, is a wonderful find!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chinatown: Dim sum at Empress Pavilion

Last Sunday morning was a dim sum outing to Empress Pavilion in Chinatown.  I hadn't had dim sum in quite a while, and had never been to LA's Chinatown.  Turns out that it's rather underwhelming, but I can't argue with some good dim sum that is a little closer than San Gabriel, Monterey Park or Arcadia.  Empress Pavilion is huge (Jon compared it to a Costco) and predictably busy during weekend brunch hours, but we were still able to get a table within 10 or 15 min after our first group member arrived.

Various steamed dumplings, including shao mai (top left), xia jiao (middle), something with dried shrimp (bottom left) and something with chives (bottom right):

Some sort of fried shrimp dumpling, and taro dumplings (one of my favorite):

The aforementioned, plus rice noodle rolls:

Empress Pavilion serves several dim sum items "to order," namely plates of boiled Chinese broccoli (extremely important as a green counterpart to all the other steamed/fried protein-heavy offerings), as well as fried turnip cakes as shown below:

In addition to all the standard dim sum offerings, there were also pearl milk teas being wheeled around on the carts; apparently they were good, but quite sweet.  We tried some egg tarts for dessert, being too full for anything else, and they were satisfyingly fresh.  Including tip, the bill came to $13 per person.  I forsee many more dim sum excursions over the next several years!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Salmon with citrus salsa verde

Another study group dinner last Friday, this time without much studying since we were all feeling rather tired and also a little brain-dead.  Dinner was good, though: Karthik had a new grill pan, so we decided on salmon with citrus salsa verde (Giada's recipe), accompanied by couscous and peas.  I'm a fan of well-cooked (i.e. not overcooked) salmon, and I really liked the sweet/tangy/herbal flavor of the "salsa verde."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lemon yogurt cupcakes

For PBL last Friday, I made lemon yogurt cupcakes.  Again, a trusty recipe (Ina Garten's), with additional lemon zest for a stronger flavor and some walnuts for additional breakfast value.  Doubling the recipe resulted in 30 cupcakes.

Later, I turned one of the leftover cupcakes into a pseudo strawberry shortcake.  Cake, whipped cream, fresh fruit and a sprinkle of sliced almonds is a lovely combination.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Birthday potluck and birthday cake

Two Fridays ago, I got to participate in two delicious birthday parties.  The first was for my second-cousin-once-removed Hollyn's 1st birthday and involved a family lunch of fish, stuffed chicken breasts, steak, rice pilaf, roasted asparagus, and salad, and ended with a many-layered chocolate peanut butter buttercream layer cake from Vanilla Bake Shop, plus berry cobbler and vanilla ice cream.  Mia definitely knows how to throw a party!  And Hollyn was, I am certain, the most adorable birthday girl I have ever seen :-).

After returning home to Westwood, I assembled a birthday cake for Alex and Brandon's joint birthday potluck.  I had baked the chocolate layers the previous night (following Amanda Hesser's Dump-It Cake recipe), so before the potluck I leveled the layers, stacked them with raspberry jam in between, frosted the entire thing with whipped cream, and used red frosting and decorating gel for the nerdy inscription:

My decorative border skills leave something to be desired

Thanks to everyone's culinary efforts, we had a tasty and varied dinner spread, most of which I managed to photograph.  Mushroom soup:


"Spreezy & Breezy's World Famous Mac n' Cheezy":

Tuna croquettes:

Roasted Brussel sprouts:

There were also meatballs, green salad, Chicken parmesan, and made-from-scratch mojitos.  We finished with a birthday toast, cake and ice cream, and a plate of lemon bars: