Friday, May 29, 2009

French, Italian, and Family

I absolutely love breakfast foods, so when I had french toast at the dining commons in college, I fell in love with it! So, as with all things that I come to love, I want to learn how it's done so I can replicate it at home. This week, my mom and I went to Costco and bought this cinnamon swirl bread. They are some THICK slices of bread. Perfect for French toast, I thought! Two days ago, I finally made myself some French toast, and it was absolutely amazing! I personally like to tone down the sugar in the things I make, which turned out perfectly fine, since I think that's how it was originally meant to be: savory rather than sweet. On the side, I added some cinnamon apples cooked on the skillet. The apple was a tiny little organic gala apple - the perfect size for one thick slice of French toast.

Simple French Toast with Cinnamon Apples
1 slice Cinnamon Swirl Bread (or any thick toast)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
Vanilla extract
Small apple, sliced thin or however you like them

1. Beat egg, milk, and vanilla extract together. Sprinkle cinnamon over sliced apples.
2. Place bread slice in large plate or bowl and pour the egg mixture over. Let sit for 10 minutes to soak in. Then flip to the other side and let soak again. I spooned the liquid over the bread to help it along.
3. Lightly butter a pan over medium heat. Cook bread on each side until browned and the egg inside is sufficiently cooked. Remove from pan.
4. Add a little more butter and cook the apple until a little brown and soft.
5. Plate, add any other toppings if not sweet enough to your liking. You can add powdered sugar or maple syrup, or cook the apples with some brown sugar.

Restaurant Review: Piatti Ristorante & Bar 5/5

Today, my aunt wanted to go eat out with me and my sister. First, my aunt wanted Cheesecake Factory, but my sister suggested that we try out the better selections around the town. She jumped on Yelp and looked at some nice restaurants nearby and found an Italian place called Piatti Ristorante & Bar. I have been deprived of real good Italian food since going to college. Oh man, the dining common pastas are simply distasteful: unloved pastas with watery sauces. This was definite heaven here.

We went inside at 6 pm and the place was packed! The hostess said we wouldn't be able to get a table, but we could have a seat at the bar. So we decided to wait at the bar and have some appetizers first. We ordered the Fritto Misto, which came with lemon aioli and mariana dipping sauces. Very good. The texture of the shrimp was really nice and juicy and the lemon aioli hit the spot. Even the water that they gave us was delicious. My sister kept raving over it and tried to drink as much as she could because the bartender kept passing by and refilling. He said something about the water being filtered; I couldn't hear him too well.

Anyways, we decided just to eat at the bar then since it seemed like we wouldn't be able to get a table. The bartender set us up and brought us some french bread. We got to dip it in this mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Really good. I love garlic!

I ordered the ravioli filled with ricotta and butternut squash, topped with a basil (and lemon?) cream sauce and walnuts. I was first thrown off by the sweetness of the butternut squash inside, but once I realized what it was, it was delicious. I also liked how the ravioli was green-colored, which meant it was probably made of spinach or some green.

My aunt and sister both got the Orechiette: shell-shaped pasta with chicken, sundried tomatoes, and asparagus in a gorgonzola sauce. My sister and aunt really liked it.

As we were driving back home, my sister continued to rave over everything about Piatti. So much better than Cheesecake Factory. A definite recommend in La Jolla.

Taking the Plunge

I have to admit: I am a foodie. I've always spent a lot of time on food blogs, restaurant reviews, and restaurant sites. It's just how I wasted hours and hours of my day. By the nighttime, I'd look at the clock and realize that I have got nothing done - all because I was letting my eyes feast upon the amazing food people would make around the world. It just really is fascinating, though. Spending time on a variety of people's food blogs let me draw connections between all types of ethnic dishes. In the end, though, this was all just absorption without production. I feel the need to actually put these recipes and techniques that I'm seeing to something tangible.

Now that it's summer, hopefully I can actually start testing out recipes and learn how to cook. I'm pretty excited. The hard part, though, is competing with my mom! Wowee! My mom can seriously make the best food ever; not just traditional Vietnamese cooking that she's perfected since she was a child, but everything from burgers to pasta to curries. I want to learn from her this summer, as well as try out the recipes I've seen on others blogs. My goals are to learn to make pho, bun bo hue, pad thai, pancit, yeast breads, sweet and sour pork, and a bunch of other foods. I've always been labeled the baker at home (I admit, I have a sweet tooth!), so you'll be seeing some baking more often than not!

All right. My 3 month plan: start out as a simple amateur and advance to chef! Keep your fingers crossed for me!