Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recipe - Corned Beef Hash

When life gives you corned beef brisket, you make corned beef hash. That's how the saying goes right? Well it doesn't matter - I did it anyway. It wasn't quite the one I'm used to in restaurants that are super mushy but I'm guessing it's because I didn't run the meat through a processor. Oh well. Still delicious!

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 4 servings)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, for pan
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. cooked corned beef brisket, finely chopped
  • 4-5 medium potatoes, diced

Step 2: Prepping ingredients
If you haven't already cooked the beef brisket, I suggest you do the hash the day after since it might take a while to cook. When I say 1 lb. of it cooked, I mean the weight should be taken after it's cooked. Finely chop it into very small pieces. Chop onion and dice potatoes too; the number of potatoes you use depends on what your preferred meat:potato ratio is.

Step 3: Cooking
Heat a large skillet. Add oil. Cook onion until semi-transparent. Add beef brisket. Add potato last and push down on entire mixture with your spatula for it to brown. It'll make beautiful sizzling noises. Flip once golden brown; you may flip in sections.


Step 4: Finishing

Add butter if you so desire to give a little bit more savoriness. Then add black pepper to your tasting. Stir around a bit more and then serve!


Photography provided by Duc.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Quips & Anecdotes - Interactive Bar

I went to an Open House yesterday for Baker Party Rentals who were celebrating their 30th birthday - they're one of the vendors we use at my workplace. I was excited to go because they said on their invitation that there would be "gourmet food trucks," and lo and behold there were. They actually had a lot of interesting food-related things such as an open bar, sommeliers to answer questions at a tasting bar, and an interactive bar! The interactive bar was pretty neat as guests got to muddle their own cocktails with guidance from the bartenders. I enjoyed it quite much and made myself a very tasty drink. More reasons to pursue bartending eh? I'll have to recreate my drink at some point; it had muddled raspberries and blackberries, basil, simple syrup, soda water, and my favorite - gin. Delicious! I want an interactive bar for something at some point...someday.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quips & Anecdotes - New Social Media

I finally got around to making it - a blog-specific Twitter and a Facebook fan page. You can follow me at @MuchAdoBlog and "like" my fan page at I highly suggest it as I ride into a new horizon on my trusty blue bird (despite others telling me my rendition looks like a deformed whale). In fact, I'm going to do a giveaway once I hit 123 fan page "likes" so get hopping to inviting your friends over.

As for some new news, I've decided to stop doing the categories of "Deals," "Equipment," and "Food Tour" at the very least for the blog. Any deals I come across will be tweeted instead on the Twitter so you better follow it! Also, I'm removing equipment reviews as I haven't been posting there anyhow. Food tours are a little long-winded, especially since I'm doing restaurant reviews. So yes, that's what's new for now in terms of content changes! By the way, I hope you've noticed that I've been making an effort to increase my recipe posts! That's for you, you readers.

Oh yes; I made a logo. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recipe - Pasta Puttanesca

I first had this dish at Mama D's Italian Kitchen, and I had chosen it because it contained everything I absolutely loved with pasta: garlicky tomato sauce, olives, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and onions. I decided I ought to give it a try since I've always been meaning to make my own sauce anyhow. I learned an interesting thing on this dish though - in Italian, it's named so to mean "whore's style" because it's spicy, hot, and easy. Okay well that's not the only reason; apparently ladies of the night would draw patrons in by placing pots of this dish on their windowsills. How silly.

NOTE: I didn't make the sauce with the traditional usage of anchovies due to not having them but garlic salt worked.

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 4-6 servings)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce, 8 oz.
  • 1 container white button mushrooms, sliced (standard size)
  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta
  • 2 tsps chili powder
  • 2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 3 on-the-vine tomatoes, crushed (with juices)
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (or more!)

Step 2: Preparing the sauce
In a large pot, start heating water to cook pasta. Cut up your garlic and onion as indicated above and set in a bowl. Crush tomatoes but keep all juices. In a saucepan, heat up and add a generous amount of olive oil. Cook garlic and onion after oil gets hot until onion is slightly translucent. Then add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Lower heat; add garlic salt and thyme. Keep at a simmer. In other pot, cook angel hair.

Step 3: Preparing the tossed ingredients
Slice the mushrooms, olives, and artichoke hearts appropriately (my apologies about the mushrooms as I forgot the size of a standard container). In a large skillet with heated oil, start cooking the mushrooms and olives together. When mushrooms brown, add artichoke hearts and stir for about 3-5 minutes. In the last minute of cooking through, add capers. If pasta is done, drain in a colander and set aside.

Step 4: Finishing
Place pasta in a bowl. Pour sauce over and top with other vegetables. Toss together as desired! Enjoy.

All photographs provided by Duc.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eatery - Pho Thang Long (CA) Revisited

Pho Thang Long on Urbanspoon

9550 Bolsa Ave, Ste 115A, Westminster, CA 92683
Pricing - $ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Vietnamese

[Read the first review here.] After a rainy long day of watching Hunger Games early in the morning with my younger brother, getting Jamba Juice, shopping for clothes for him, and getting him a haircut, we wanted to get some soup in us. Unfortunately I had spent cash on his haircut and most places in the Little Saigon area for phở only take cash. We decided that we'd go back to this restaurant since we knew they took cards; once again, it's the cleanest and most chic phở restaurant I've been to. Everything was plush and orange. They did change their name to just Thang Long Restaurant as they have other foods there now but we went for the phở.

The phở got more expensive than my last visit! It was $6 for a small and $7 for a large (which is considerably bigger). I ordered a small of the phở tái nạm gần sch. The meats in it weren't very plentiful but they were good whenever I did manage to get some. The beef slices were thin just as they should be but the tripe was scarce. However, once again, they had a very clean broth for the soup. The taste was just a smidgen above average but it sure isn't the phở from Phở 79 down a few streets. It served its purpose of keeping us warm though with some good broth.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Event - Fleming's Steakhouse Blogger Event

I had the pleasure of attending a blogger event at Fleming's Steakhouse in Newport Beach at Fashion Island this past Saturday to taste their "5 for $6 until 7" menu. My first impression when I walked through the doors was that I was fond of the interior design as it was quite clean and classic. There was a prevalence of dark wood that invoked a steakhouse-y feel without the rough and tough mood of "cows are actually killed here by our butchers." I wish I had snagged a picture of the interior but I was quickly taken to our private room; darn that excellent and courteous service!

The low murmur of conversation slowly began as more and more guests arrived. The wait staff was quite attentive, and we were all introduced to Russ Bendel (Operating Partner), Chris Hutten (Chef Partner), and Xavier Quintanilla (Manager) once everyone had arrived. Quickly, the first cocktail of the afternoon was brought out in addition to all the wines already set on a side table for anytime access. It was the Tropical Martini (pictured topmost), a refreshing cocktail of Malibu Coconut Rum, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, and Meyers Dark Rum. The skewered cherry and orange were a nice touch. The other cocktails were brought out throughout the afternoon were the Pomtini (Belvedere Vodka, POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, and orange juice) and what I believe was the Stoli Bombshell (Stoli blueberry vodka with fresh blueberries?). I didn't hear what the last cocktail was but I managed to finagle myself the last glass by taking pictures of it. I definitely like that last one best as it was light but flavorful.


In terms of food, everything was superb. I'd go into detail about each dish but frankly, there were too many for me to adequately speak about each without writing your eyes off! In order we had the tenderloin carpaccio (oh those capers!), sweet chile calamari (saucy yet crisp, sweet yet spicy; a perfect appetizer), wicked Cajun barbecue shrimp (tender and full of flavor), roasted mushroom ravioli (hearty chunks of mushroom), baked brie in puff pastry (got mine too late so it had cooled but it was fair), and Fleming's prime burger with wonderfully seasoned onion rings. Writing about the burger now is making me hungry as I remember the specially spiced bacon on top of a thick and juicy chunk of beef. It was the best burger that I've had in ages. Check out the pictures below.


As we finished up our good conversations and eating, we were gifted with a box of melt-in-your-mouth truffles topped with caramel. I had a great time meeting some fellow OC bloggers and hope to become more aware of more in the future. I'm still a newbie on the scene (probably the youngest person there!) but I hope to be of use to the food blog readers out there. My thanks to Mike (and Katie) of Eating My Way Through OC for the delightful conversation that Saturday!


Fleming's Prime Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Recipe - Caribbean Curry Chicken

Slow cooker loving, here we go! With so many chicken breasts to cook, Duc and I needed to get rid of them quickly in a big hearty meal. We browsed through the slow cooker tome I have and found a recipe for "Caribbean Curry Chicken," which I immediately changed up based on what we had access to. I mean, we did make a grocery store trip but for the most part, the changes were based on what we had. The meal turned out deliciously with a fun kick from the peppers and a smooth finish from the peanut butter. Try it out!

Step 1: Ingredients (serving size: 4-6 portions)
  • lime wedges, to garnish (optional)
  • cilantro, to garnish (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 medium lemon, juice only
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1.5 cups white rice
  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 cans chicken stock, 14.5oz (or 3 cups)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter, smooth
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, in strips

Step 2: Prepping the chicken

In a large bowl, mix 1 tbsp of the sunflower oil with all of the curry powder, garlic, lemon juice, and thyme. Slice the chicken breasts into strips and add to the marinade. Mix thoroughly before covering the bowl with plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator between 1-2 hours.

Step 3: Prepping the vegetables
Chop and slice up the vegetables as noted in the ingredients list above. Start a pot/saucepan with the chicken broth and bring to a boil (once boiling, add to the bowl of peanut butter and stir until dissolved). In a skillet, heat the remaining oil and cook the onion until just turning translucent. Pour into the slow cooker pot and add tomatoes & peppers. Add the peanut butter mixture. Cook for 1 hour on high.

Step 4: Finishing
In the last half hour, take the chicken out from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature (approximately 30 minutes). Then add the chicken with any salt & pepper to the pot. Cook for 1 hour. After, add the rice and cook for 45 minutes - 1 hour depending on when the rice becomes fully cooked. Leave lid open after to prevent rice from getting soggy. Garnish with lime wedges & cilantro if wanted and enjoy!

Photography courtesy of Duc.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eatery - Taste of India (CA)

Taste of India on Urbanspoon

8890 Warner Ave, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Pricing - $ | Dining - Casual, To-Go | Cuisine - Indian

On a whim, Duc and I decided to have an "adventure time" and go to Boomer's for some random arcade fun. Since it was near dinner time, we looked up restaurants in the area and settled on Taste of India since we hadn't had Indian food in a while. Because of this, only a phone pic - sorry! Anyhow, the restaurant was small and looked just like the take-out place it was (with steamer items). The meals were adequately priced, and we ended up grabbing their two entree combo with Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Korma.

The meats were delicious, just succulent and with the nice smoky taste of the tandoori. I preferred the tikka masala over the korma but it might've also been because the tikka masala came out fresh. The sauces weren't incredible but pretty good in themselves. I would've preferred everything to be spicier but even so, it was still delicious. The garlic naan was amazing; it was crisp yet chewy, garlicky yet not vampire-killing, and fresh with a lot of healthy basil. I'd come back for sure.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Recipe - Lime Pie

I'd call it key lime pie but that'd be a lie since no key limes were used. I'd call it lemon-lime pie but the taste was overwhelmingly lime despite the pie having both. So here we go with the lime pie, created in honor of Pi Day, March 14th!

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 9-inch pie)
  • whipped cream
  • lemon & lime slices, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, fresh
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust, 9-inch
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz. each
  • 4 egg yolks

Step 2: Mixing ingredients
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. This pie is so simple that you just need to stick all ingredients except for the pie crust into a bowl and blend. If you want to make your own pie crust, do so by all means but I personally didn't have enough time. Pour into the pie crust and stick in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Step 3: Finishing
Take the pie out of the oven and let it cool completely before doing anything to it. You don't want it to crack or ooze everywhere. If you'd like to decorate/garnish, add whipped cream, lemon slices, and lime slices. Enjoy the tart wonder!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Eatery - Blake's Place (CA)

Blake's Place on Urbanspoon

2905 E Miraloma Ave, Ste 3, Anaheim, CA 92806
Pricing - $$ | Dining - Casual, To-Go | Cuisine - Barbecue

Seems weird to call this place a cafe as the name states it to be. It's a barbecue joint - why would you call it a cafe? Anyhow, I came across here when I needed to get dinner really quick before going to see a movie with Duc. We found out that it is literally down the street from where I work so we stopped by based off of Yelp reviews. It had a nice atmosphere to it. I didn't have my camera with me so used my phone for my snap of our plate (sorry for the poor quality).

We shared a plate of the beef ribs and pulled pork which came with sides of coleslaw and baked beans. Typical barbecue fare indeed! It came with yummy garlic bread. I found the pulled pork to be pretty decent and the sides good, especially the baked beans. As for the ribs themselves, I haven't had beef ribs before so I don't know if it was because it was beef or just because of the cooking but I was disappointed that the meat didn't peel easily away from the bone. It was just okay ribs and sauce. Unfortunately, I've lived in "the South" for a while and have also visited St. Louis for ribs so perhaps it's unfair. Since I haven't had many ribs here in Orange County, I don't have a good comparison point; it was fair though. It made us full enough. I'd like to come back for their lunch specials and other types of ribs before overjudging!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Recipe - Corned Beef Sandwiches

Due to St. Patrick's Day, there were quite a lot of Irish-inspired recipes that popped up on Bon Appetit that were emailed my way. One that I saw and wanted to try were their corned beef sandwiches, with a few changes of course. The day before St. Patrick's Day, Duc and I decided to celebrate with these sandwiches and thoroughly enjoyed their heartiness. A hiccup in our planning was finding out that we couldn't buy pre-cooked slices of corned beef and had to cook the brisket ourselves; please make sure you know what your local stores carry before you think of making this meal "real quick." I love love LOVE corned beef; the similarity to pastrami makes it even more enjoyable. Oh what brining does to meat!

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 2 hearty sandwiches)
  • Dijon mustard
  • unsalted butter, sliced (for pan)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced & carmelized
  • 1/2 lb. corned beef brisket, sliced
  • 2-3oz. Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices onion dill rye bread

Step 2: Prepping the ingredients
Slice up the onion and cheese. If you don't have the beef brisket cooked, you should do that before even starting any of the other ingredients. If you have it cooked, slice it appropriately. I messed up on the sandwich that is pictured with too small of slices so make sure you get nice big slices that don't fall apart on you when you eat. Carmelize the onions.

Step 3: Constructing the sandwich
Spread Dijon mustard on the first slice of bread. Then layer on the corned beef brisket. Place carmelized onions on top. Layer with cheese. Spread Dijon mustard on the second bread slice and top.


Step 4: Finishing
In a skillet heated on medium, add just enough butter to brown the bread (a nice pat will do). Spread it around the hot skillet before adding the sandwich. After about a minute, flip the sandwich over. Remove and enjoy!


Photography provided by Duc.