Saturday Brunch: Grilled Cheese with Carmelized Onions and Bacon from “The Stores”

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Ms. Foodie has been a travelin’ fool lately, and that means the kitchen Stores have gotten waaay low. But, ever resourceful, Ms. Foodie found something to start off my and Mr. Foodie’s day. With the help of Potato Bread, some Cheddar-Jack blend shredded cheese, some bacon I had stashed in the freezer (defrosted, of course), and a bit of carmelized onions, we had our brunch!

Mr. Foodie gets to go to a game, and Ms. Foodie plans to get in her Yoga later this afternoon, so this will just keep the energy flowing until I can scrounge through The Stores for dinner.

Happy Saturday!

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Off the Beaten Path: Rumi Cafe

Some parting wisdom, compliments of Rumi Cafe

Some parting wisdom, compliments of Rumi Cafe

Not really. This place is in Sherman Oaks, near Ms. Foodie’s Yoga studio. Thanks to the magic of Yelp! Ms. Foodie stumbled upon it, and I am so glad I did.

Rumi Cafe is a brand new establishment, only open three months; but they are working hard to make a good impression. The Cafe has a Middle Eastern vibe, with comfy seating (actual cushions on the chairs!), and a nice selection of books and music to go along with your coffee or meal. But they aren’t low-tech—there are two flat screens, and plenty of plugs for laptops—which was perfect for Ms. Foodie’s purposes today. I just needed a space on the way home from Yoga to patch off a few emails and do some research, but being early afternoon in the San Fernando Valley, I knew my usual haunts would be packed to the gills with the usual wannabe screenwriters and actors. So I decided to flip a coin (via Internet search) and try something new.

The Cafe had good reviews on Yelp! and since it is relatively new, Ms. Foodie took a chance that it probably would not be running a crowd. Sherlock Holmes would be proud of my deduction skills, as I was right. Ms. Foodie practically had the place to herself, on top of the focused attention of Mike, the Barista/Server on duty that afternoon.

The Cafe serves breakfast, lunch AND dinner, different from most cafes that only serve pastries or prefab sandwiches that are often too little sandwich for too much money. Ms. Foodie got her money’s worth with a delicious Spinach Omelette with hash browns and toast. One of the best Spinach omelettes Ms. Foodie has ever eaten. Fresh, light, and flavorful, yet hearty—Ms. Foodie couldn’t even finish it all. The price: less than $7.00.

The delicious Spinach Omelette, including bread (not pictured). All for less than $7.00.

The delicious Spinach Omelette, including bread (not pictured). All for less than $7.00.

Ms. Foodie also ordered an iced Vanilla Latte. Why is it 80 degrees in February? I digress, and most the nation is telling me to shut up. Where was Ms. Foodie? Yes, back to the Vanilla Latte. Ms. Foodie will be wired for sound for the rest of the day. The espresso was super strong (just the way Ms. Foodie likes it!), and the Vanilla was delicate—a mere hint of flavor without overpowering the espresso. A rare thing, especially if you frequent the majors like Starbucks and the Coffee Bean. Mike, being very gracious and solicitous, charmed Ms. Foodie into ordering another one—this time, blended. The blended Vanilla Latte was even better than the iced one, but now Ms. Foodie will be wired for sound for the rest of the night! But it was well worth it—Middle Eastern- type cafes make coffee and espresso like nobody’s business!

The cherry on Ms. Foodie’s sundae was Mike offering a sample of their soups of the day: Tomato-Basil, Carrot-Ginger, or Bean.   Ms. Foodie chose the Carrot-Ginger Soup, and thought I had died and gone to Heaven! The soup was so creamy, and lightly laced with Ginger and other spices, it made Ms. Foodie feel like she was being enveloped in a warm comforter.

This place may appear to be off the beaten path and tucked away, but Ms. Foodie has no doubt that this will change very soon. I recommend you pop by and give them some business—just give Ms. Foodie a few more months to feel like I have the place to myself….

13368 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, California 91423. Hours of operation: 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. You can also find them on Facebook at LA Rumi Cafe.

Kickin’ Turkey Tacos

So Ms. Foodie is still hot to trot… for spicy foods, that is!

This recipe is more in line with Southwestern, than Mexican cooking, with a Foodie twist, of course. I started by sauteing Mushrooms, Kale, Green Onions and Garlic in Chicken stock to create a nice flavor base. Then I crumbled Ground Turkey into the mixture, and seasoned it with Cayenne, Chili Powder, Sea Salt, Cumin, Coriander, Cilantro, Thyme, Basil and a bit of Lemon Juice.

I let that simmer along for 30 minutes or so, while I chopped up Vine-ripened Tomatoes and Avocado for topping.

 

 

 

 

 

Surrounded by warm flour tortillas, with Trader-Joe’s Three-Cheese Blend, Sour Cream, and their wicked Fire-Roasted Salsa to complete the package–all I can say is… Smokin’!

More fun with Chobani!

So Ms. Foodie made good on her promise to whip up a recipe using Chobani Greek Yogurt. I took 6 oz. of the plain flavor and made a zesty marinade for our chicken breasts last night!

It’s only me and Mr. Foodie, so I used the six ounce size of the yogurt to cover two breasts, and even had some leftover marinade after coating the chicken. But, if you use more breasts, you can double, triple, quadruple the recipe–you decide…

I threw in three teaspoons of Olive Oil, 3/4 teaspoon of Ground Ginger and Cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of Thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of Garlic Powder, 1/2 teaspoon of Minced Onion, 1/4 teaspoon of Rosemary, and a 1/2 cup of Lime Juice.  After mixing all the ingredients into the yogurt, I used it to coat the breasts on both sides, then let them sit in the fridge for 20 minutes while warming up the broiler.

At 500 degrees, the chicken flash cooks, but the lovely yogurt coating holds in all the flavor–no dry breasts on this watch.  Lots of taste with a bit of zing!

But here’s the best part: I refrigerated the leftover yogurt marinade and stirred it into eggs this morning to make myself a Ms. Foodie Omelette.

This is back to pure Kitchen Cabinet Cooking, because everything was already in the store: two eggs, some leftover roasted turkey breast, and Roma tomatoes.  And with all the flavors packed into the yogurt, who has to season?

I also had some potato salad with dill in the fridge, so it accompanied the Omelette, along with Sourdough toast.

Mmmm Good!

Chicken Pot Pie–the ultimate comfort food

So the Holidays are coming to a close, but it’s still winter, and Ms. Foodie is still needing some comfort and joy!

Chicken pot pies were always my favorite meal as a child, and they are easy to make with ingredients in the store, or quickly bought.  What better way to not only get rid of some of my leftovers, but create a meal that is filling and satisfying.

I had a couple of roast chicken carcasses leftover from my festivities, so I opted to use those.  Otherwise, you can buy cubed chicken breast, or whatever chicken meat you prefer.  Saves you time too, but you know me–love the process!  I also like the double-crust method, so purchase two shells if that is also your bent.

I threw both chickens in a pot, chopped up about 1/2 cup of yellow onion, and stew it on low until the meat falls off the bones.  I sifted the bones and transferred the chicken and a cup of the stock to a skillet.

In another skillet, I sautéed about a 1/2 cup of mushrooms and 1/2 cup of celery in 2 tablespoons butter.  I transferred this to the chicken and stock skillet, along with chunky organic carrots, and organic green peas.  I added about a 1/4 cup of whipping cream and 1/2 cup of whole milk, then seasoned the mix with Thyme, Pepper, Sea Salt and Rosemary to taste.  Finally, I added about 1/3 cup of flour to thicken the mixture, covered the skillet and let it simmer for 25 minutes.

While the mixture was doing its ruminating, I prepped a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick spray, then spread the crust, covering the bottom and sides of the pan. After poking a few holes, I placed it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes in order to crisp the crust and keep it from turning gummy during cooking.

I transferred the cooked mixture into to the pre-cooked crust, filling it to the top, then took the second pie crust and covered the mixture to complete the pie!

30-35 minutes in that same 350 degree oven is all that’s needed.  Before you know it, a perfect (and yummy) Chicken Pot Pie is born!

What’s for Dinner?

Ms. Foodie is having Garlic Chicken Fragrant Rice tonight!  Allrecipes.com is the place to go for this quick and easy recipe.  This could be called a “one-pot” meal, because it’s all prepared in a rice cooker.  If you don’t have one, you must purchase it as soon as possible!  Perfect rice every time, and it steams vegetables beautifully.

Of course, I use any recipe as a launch point to do my own thing: I prefer more chicken, so instead of one thigh, I add two. I  also use two green onions, where the recipe calls for only one–Double the pleasure, double the fun!

Mmm… Mmmm… Mmmm!

On the Plate…

Image Artwork: Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

If Ms. Foodie Patootie had had any sense, she would have been at the 1st 8th annual Grilled Cheese Invitational on Saturday.  Another premier event at the L.A. Center Studios that featured vendors like Tillamook Cheese and food trucks!  Will definitely have to put it on the calendar for next year…

And speaking of trucks, we have a new one to stalk!  The Munchie Machine rolled out its fare on April 20 at Bigfoot West in Venice.  Which is apropos, since the truck decor and menu would definitely appeal to a certain crowd that appreciates umm… herbal refreshments.   There’s much there for the rest of us too, with lots of tasty sandwiches with even tastier ingredients; and of course, salads and vegetarian fare for the non-carnivores of L.A.  The website is not up full blast just yet, but The Munchie Machine menu is viewable, as well as their follow link to Twitter.

When I worked near LAX in the early ’90s, there was little to speak of food-wise except fast food and greasy spoons.  Thankfully that has changed considerably, and now they are really upping the ante with the new Century Food Truck Lot!  On it’s premiere date a week ago, it hosted nine of the L.A. Food Trucks, including Komodo, India Jones, and The Buttermilk Truck.  Schedules are viewable in Google calendar–very convenient for those times when Ms. Foodie is near the airport!  Century Food Truck schedules.

H/t LAist.

Breakfast in a Biscuit

So Ms. Foodie Patootie had an epiphany: instead of making plain ‘ole biscuits to eat, why not create a tasty treat?  Uh, oh! Watch out!  I’m a foodie and a poet.

But seriously, chefs of every culture have been filling dough with all kinds of good stuff, from Empanadas to Pierogies–so my idea is nothing new, just a variation on an old theme.

My first trick was going back to that Kitchen-Cabinet Cooking principle: What’s in the store?  Lucky for me, I always keep on hand a baking mix–any baking mix, whether it’s Bisquick® or a generic store brand.  They usually have a quick n’ dirty biscuit recipe on the back of the box, and so that is where I began!

Once I formed the dough mixture, I set it aside and attended to the stuff inside.  Going back to the stores, I still had some ham left, so I finely chopped some of that, and combined it with Sharp Cheddar and a couple of pats of butter to enhance the flavor of the dough.

Once again, the beauty of the Kitchen-Cabinet Cooking method is improvisation.  Nothing’s set in stone, it’s whatever works with your diet and your budget.  I already have visions of stuffing them with ground beef, Swiss cheese and mushroom.  So, whether you’re a carnivore, omnivore or herbivore, adapt to suit your fancy!

I filled my dough just enough to fill the center, then wrapped it around from the corners to join them in the center.

Once your filling is all wrapped and snug, pop them in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, and whaddaya know?  An instant breakfast or brunch appetizer!

What I most like about these is that they are freezable: so you can store and eat the remainder at your leisure.

That is, if there are any remaining…

What’s for Dinner? Potato Gnocchi with Peas and Ham Béchamel

Yes, yes… still going through the Kitchen Cabinet cookbook, and ham happens to be the major meat store–good thing I’m a fan.  But I will say it again–you can substitute any protein of your choosing.

For this recipe, I took my lovely chopped ham and added it to my own Béchamel Sauce.  In English, that’s simply melted butter mixed with flour, and hot milk.  

But I decided to throw in some traditionally Carbonara Sauce ingredients: peas, ham and a twist–my wild mushrooms.  I even poured in some of the mushroom broth to extend the sauce.  Sprinkle in some pepper, and ooh la la, yummy for the tummy!

I stock packaged Gnocchi, which is a potato pasta; it soaks up all that good stuff.  Gnocchi is easy, cheap, and if you have the potatoes, something that you can make from scratch.  But that, my friends, is a recipe for another day.

To modify an advertising slogan: Stay hungry, my friends.