Category Archives: wine

steamed mussels in white wine sauce

As another birthday draws near, I was thinking about what I would tell my decade-younger self. One big piece of advice I would give myself is not to be afraid to fail by taking more risks. I wish I would have studied abroad and taught English in Asia before heading to graduate school. Why was I in such a rush to have my life figured out? I often tell my students that they’ll be working for the next 25+ years and delaying grad school or a ‘real job’ for a year or two won’t make significant impact in the long run. Funny how I’ve gained that perspective many years later having been in their shoes.

I can’t rewind myself back to my early 20’s, but having this food blog has challenged me to take more risks in cooking things I’m not familiar with like mussels. I was wondering the aisles of Whole Foods and came across some live mussels and thought about Chef Julie Yoon’s recipe for mussels in white wine. I was able to experiment on my lovely roommate and college friend for dinner as we were celebrating my friend’s birthday. Serve this simple, light, and satisfying dish with a toasted bagette slices or over spaghetti. Btw, Chef Julie’s how-to video was helpful in walking me through the process.

mussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steamed Mussels in White Wine Sauce
adapted from Chef Julie Yoon’s blog
serves 4

2.5 lbs live mussels (see notes below on storing these)
3 TB unsalted butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 lemon
3 roma tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

1. Clean the mussels under cold running water in the sink. Remove beards by slicing them with a paring knife. For ones that are slightly open, gently tap the hinge of the mussel on your cutting board so they close. If it doesn’t, discard. Should take about 15 minutes.
2. In a large pot on medium heat, add 1 TB of butter. Once melted, add your onions and garlic until cooked through (about 2 minutes). Add chicken broth and wine; bring mixture to a boil and add mussels. Cover with a lid.
3. Let the mussels simmer for about 5 minutes (set a timer) and shake in the middle for even cooking. At the end of 5 minutes, check to see that the mussels have opened. Turn off the heat and add parsley, tomatoes, and remaining 2 TB of butter. Gently toss to make sure the butter melts.
4. Toss any mussels that didn’t open. Squeeze half the lemon over the mussels and serve over pasta or with crusty bread.

Note: I bought my mussels 2 days before cooking them. To keep them fresh, I kept them in the mesh bags they came in and placed them in a colander in the fridge with bags of ice. Make sure to place a Pyrex or some kind of plate to catch the melting ice. I also covered the colander with a wet paper towel and re-wet it each morning. I know it sounds complicated but I had to keep them alive before serving for optimal flavor =) I wouldn’t recommend freezing them. 

banish boring summers

It’s no secret that Los Angeles is a highly sought out vacation destination by out-of-state and overseas visitors. Whether you’re looking for staycation ideas (local NPR has a list) or entertaining out-of-town guests, I’ve listed some free or wallet-friendly activities/events.

Hollywood Bowl
This outdoor concert venue is so unique to LA. I love picnicking on the benches and enjoying the music and warm summer nights. Tickets start as low as $12 and there are multiple parking and park+ride shuttle options. I was there last week and we parked at Hollywood and Highland for $13 (versus $20 or $25 for stacked parking at the Bowl). Check out their calendar here for upcoming performances.

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Malibu Wines (website)
Located 25 miles north of Santa Monica, this outdoor space is perfect for celebrating birthdays, showers, or simply enjoying good company. I visited for the first time a few months back and spotted celebrity chef, Susan Feniger (of Border Grill/Top Chef Masters). They have live music during the weekends and you can bring food and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy with wine available for purchase.

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The Getty Center (located in Westwood)
Boasting an impressive private collection of art, the architecture is what woos me for repeat visits. I recently went on a docent led architecture tour where we learned about renown architect, Richard Meier’s inspiration behind this iconic cultural landmark. I highly recommend their free tours offered daily. Admission is free and parking is $15 which is also good for the Getty Villa in Malibu (same day visit only). The Getty Center also hosts summer evening events; check out their website for details.

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Dance in Downtown
The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles (connected to the Dorothy Chandler pavilion) hosts free outdoor dance lessons and live music/DJ on select Friday nights. This is one of my FAVORITE things to do in the summer (especially the Bollywood and 60’s nights). So what are you waiting for? Grab a friend or 2 and shake a tail feather. All levels and ages are encouraged to participate (comfy shoes recommended). You can view the calendar here.

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For my OC friends (didn’t forget you guys), here are a few cool things to do~

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa has an annual summer movies series where they show classics, musicals, animation films in a family friendly environment for free! Check out their calendar for upcoming dates. Tip: park at South Coast Plaza and walk over to avoid a parking fee.

segerstrom movie

Photo credit: shared from Segerstrom’s facebook page.

Anaheim, home of Disneyland, The Honda Center, Angels stadium and the newly remodeled Anaheim Packing House, is home to 20-plus gourmet eateries. This is still on my list of places to visit. Check out this article for details on this new culinary destination (open daily, free parking). See their website for details.

Hope you enjoy long summer days with these suggestions. Don’t be shy, what are your favorite summer activities/events?

white sangria

Hope you had a lovely weekend spent with your families celebrating Mother’s Day. Like many people (including my parents’ pastor who mentioned it in his sermon) was touched by NBA superstar, Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech. I admit I got choked up hearing him thank his mom. What a great reminder to vocalize our appreciation for our loved ones, moms who are unsung heroes.

I had planned on making lasagna for my mom and pairing it with a nice red wine but because of the warm weather (it’s going to be 100 later this week, here in Los Angeles), white sangria would be the refreshing choice. Scored this $4.99 white wine fruity blend from Trader Joe’s (Pancake Cellars Big Day White 2012) which is a decent wine for this price and great in sangria since it has green apple notes (photo credit). If you’re in the mood for a red sangria, here’s an easy recipe I featured last year. I also recommend this strawberry agua fresca that would go well with a spicy Asian or Mexican dish.

good white ed

 

sangria rr recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


white sangria
(adapted from foodnetwork.com)
serves 6
1 green apple, sliced in wedges
1 lemon, half moon slices
1 lime, half moon slices
1 cup, strawberries, quartered
3 TB sugar
1 bottle (750ml) of dry white wine (chardonnay and riesling are great too)
1 pint of raspberries
2 cups (approx) of soda water

Pour a half bottle of wine in a pitcher and add 3 TB of sugar. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Add the fruit except the raspberries and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with ice cubes, raspberries, and a splash of soda water.

Included in the dinner spread was lasagna and strawberry-basil shortcakes (ready for a magazine photo op) made by my sister (click here for the recipe). Not pictured: galbi and kale, brussel sprout, cranberry salad). I’ll share the bolognese sauce recipe once the weather cools down.

M day collage

 

citrus arugula salad and crostini w/fig butter, brie, and prosciutto

I made this awhile ago and thought you might like to see… citrus arugula salad
serves 3-4 (as starter)
4 cups of arugula
1 orange, slices into half moons
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1/4 cups toasted walnuts
1/4 cup of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 TB honey
1/4 tsp salt and pinch of pepper
Throw all ingredients up until the olive oil into a salad bowl. Make the salad dressing and individually dress each portion. Enjoy! crostini-pic3 crostini with fig butter, brie, and prosciutto
serves 4
1 bagette, 1/2 inch slices, on the diagonal
fig butter
brie cheese, 1/4 inch slices
1 package of prosciutto (about 10-12 oz)
1/4 cups olive oil
Preheat oven to 450F. Rub one side of bread slices with oil. Place oil-side down, touching the baking sheets. Spread fig butter on each slice, top with brie, then prosciutto. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Mmm… Perfect with a glass of riesling. Enjoy!

Seattle

Last November, I booked a flight to Seattle after seeing a great deal on JetBlue ($49 each way from LBC to SEA/TAC) and easily convinced my sister since it was MLK weekend that we both wanted an excuse to see the Emerald City. I hadn’t been to Seattle in a decade and she had never been, what the heck, let’s go! Check out some highlights from our trip.

The Seattle Public Library. Sigh. If only all public libraries were this cool. No wonder they’re voted one of the most book loving cities. I wasn’t thrilled with the exterior but the interior was so modern and inviting. Interestingly, an entire floor is completely painted in red. We also found this cool used bookstore in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Imagine a B&N-like bookstore where all the book are half off (and in great condition).

Seattle Public Library (the red floor)

We enjoyed some wine at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar in walking distance from the library. A beautiful, hip, yet intimate restaurant. Check out that winding staircase wine rack!

Purple Wine Bar and Cafe (loved their wine and spiral wine case)

fish market

What Seattle trip would be complete without a visit to Pike Place Market? So cool! I love the fish throwing dudes and the street performers but what I love most is the food! Hands down my favorite was Le Panier’s almond croissant and coffee (Seattle knows good coffee). Ah… the simple joys in life. It was so good, we went back the next day. I also really enjoyed Russian meat pastries and creamy mac & cheese at this place. I’m warning you; this place is carb heaven. We didn’t even have room for the donuts or other foods on a stick. I wanted to try fresh oysters but it was way too cold for this SoCal girl! I even bought wool hiking socks, yeah that cold.

honey

mac and cheese seattle

Beecher’s mac and cheese (taken by alice)

Seattle coffee is bar none! Latte from Panier.

$4 croissant was worth every penny.

We also enjoyed brunch at Portage Bay Cafe with their delicious whole wheat pancakes and toppings bar. What a cool idea!!!

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During brunch, it started snowing! I felt like a little kid mesmerized by snow in the city! For real!!! We just happened to be in Seattle during the first snowstorm of the winter. NICE 🙂 Except that all the buses, taxis were out of commission. We were standing out in the street, waiting for a bus to arrive as it’s snowing. Only 30 minutes later did we realize that the buses had stopped. Seattle is a bit hilly and so they fear driving in snowing conditions (and they take issue with using salt; well, at least prior due to environmental reasons).

snow!

We also enjoyed pizzas at Serious Pie and sushi at Umi Sake House in downtown. These folks know how to eat!!! Next time, I’ll visit Bainbridge island and tour the Theo Chocolate Factory. The Pacific Northwest is without a doubt breathtakingly beautiful and has some of the nicest people. Seriously, even the bus drivers were super nice and hospitable.

Adieu Seattle! Until we meet again.