Saturday, December 31, 2005

Irish Mexican

To commemorate our nuptials, my husband and I came up with this cocktail. Maybe it has already been invented, but I couldn't find anything similar to it on the web. We decided to call it an Irish-Mexican because he is of Irish descent and I'm of Mexican descent. This is an after dinner apertif because it's quite sweet. You can drink it as a martini or on the rocks.


  • 1-1/2 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1/2 oz. Kahlua
  • 1/2 oz. gold Tequila
  • 1/2 oz. good Irish Whiskey
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. You can also mix all ingredients and serve it on the rocks. Try sprinkling a bit of Mexican chocolate over the top. Delicioso!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Minnesota Frost

Minnesota Frost
This is the type of cocktail that one invents when it's minus 7 degrees outside with 5" of snow and there is only Grain Belt beer and Smirnoff Ice in the house. To give my cocktail its faint, bluish color, I added just a dash of Blue Curacao. If you don't like the flavor of blue curacao, you can also use blue Gatorade or blue food coloring, or leave it out altogether.


  • 1 bottle of Premium Grain Belt beer (or any light Minnesotan beer)
  • 1 bottle of Smirnoff Ice
  • Sprite or 7-Up
  • 1 tsp. Blue Curacao (optional)
Pour the beer 1/3 of the the way in a tall, frosty beer glass. Top it off with 1/3 of the Smirnoff Ice and 1/3 of Sprite or 7-Up. Slowly add the Blue Curacao. For maximum hangover, drink the cocktail really fast.

The head will be very frothy and it will remind you of a Minnesota winter.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Rosita Cocktail

Rosita CocktailIf you're one of those people that had a bad experience with tequila back in college and now you can't drink it, then you must try this cocktail. The Rosita cocktail will rekindle your love to this very misunderstood liquor, tequila. Make sure you use a good qualitiy tequila such as Patron or Casadores. The Vermouth and the Campari make this a very luxurious yet refreshing drink.


Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake, shake, shake with ice. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with lemon twist.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Ice cold Michelada
I'm not really sure how this cocktail got started, but in our family we drink micheladas on New Year's day as a hangover cure. I'm not sure if it really works but it's a tradition. Further south in Mexico they add tomato or clamato juice to the michelada. These beer cocktails are very popular down in Baja (or Blaha) California. If you're watching your sodium intake, do not try this!


  • kosher salt or margarita salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle beer (Mexican, such as Corona or Pacifico)
  • 1-2 dash Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
  1. Dip rims of 2 tall chilled glasses into a saucer of water, shake off excess, then dip rims into a saucer of salt.
  2. Fill each glass halfway with ice, then about one-third full with lime juice, and top off each with beer.
  3. Add tabasco to each. Garnish with lime wedges.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mango Mojito

Yummy Mango MojitoEverytime I drink a mojito I daydream I'm in a sandy beach in the Bahamas with warm, clear water and some hunky guys serving me drinks...ahhh. Anyway, I tried this mango mojito at the Island Grill restaurant in San Diego and it was very good. The mango and the mint work so well together. These mango'itos are easier to make than your regular mojitos since you do not have to muddle the sugar--the mango rum has enough is sugar in it already.


  • 2 1/4 oz Mango Rum (like Cruzan)
  • 2 splashes of club soda
  • Muddle 4 sprigs of fresh mint with a squeeze of lime
Mix all ingredients. Serve in a highball on the rocks. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprigs. It's that easy!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Divallini Cocktail

The DivalliniA couple of years ago I tried the Bellini cocktail at the Baccarat Bar in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I fell in love with it. It's a very luxurious and shi-shi drink to be enjoyed for special occassions. For this New Year's eve I invented a cocktail I called the Divallini. Like the Bellini, I use Champagne as the main ingredient. I'm going to be serving these delish cocktails at our New Year's Eve party.


  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 2 TBSP. good Brandy
  • 1 TBSP. Sugar
  • Chilled brut champagne
  • Grenadine
  • 2 chilled champagne glasses
First, place the thawed raspberries in a bowl and add the 2 tablespoons of brandy and the 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let it macerate for 15 to 30 minutes. Once it has macerated, mash the raspberries with a fork or purée in a blender. This can be done well in advance and kept in the fridge.

Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoon of the raspberries into the chilled champagne glasses, 1 teaspoon of grenadine and slowly top up with champagne, stirring as you pour. You should ideally have one third raspberry purée to two thirds champagne. Serve straight away and enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Chocolate Bon Bons and M&M Brownie Bars

My cousin Kathy has a knack for baking. She loves to bake cookies, fudge and brownies. Last night, at our annual Amador Secret Santa party, she made for us these yummy chocolate covered marshmallows and M&M Fudgy Brownies. I was so excited to hear that the marshmallow recipe is incredibly easy and really fast to make. And the M&M recipe uses your favorite brownie mix. These were a hit with all the kids!


  • 1 c. (6 oz.) semi sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 lb. large marshmallows (25 to 30)
  • 1/2 cup Jimmy's (optional)
In small shallow, glass casserole or mixing bowl, combine chocolate and milk. Cook uncovered 1 minute 30 seconds or until chocolate melts, stirring twice. Place toothpick in each marshmallow. Dip in chocolate and sprinkle Jimmy's on each marshmallow (this is optional). Let cool and serve cold or at room temperature.


  • 1 (21 to 23 ounce) package fudge brownie mix
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
  • 1 cup plain M&M's
Prepare brownie mix according to package for cake-like brownies; spread batter into greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2-inch jellyroll pan.

Combine nuts, oats, sugar, coconut and butter. Mix well. Sprinkle evenly over brownie mixture. Sprinkle top with 1 cup candies. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Egg Noodles with Tarragon

Tarragon is my new favorite herb. I recently used it on halibut and on a corn and lima bean salad and boy, is it good! The herb has a fresh, woodsy flavor with a licorice flavor. Now, I'm not a big licorice fan, but this herb is quite good. You can use it on fish, chicken and it tastes phenomenal on roast pork loin. I came up with this recipe because I had not gone grocery shopping in a while and all I had in the fridge was fresh Tarragon and egg noodles. This simple dish is great for a lunch or as a side dish to a hearty steak or roast pork.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • 2 TBSP of fresh Tarragon, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 2 TBSP. Butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 8 oz (or two large handfuls) egg noodles
  • Freshly grated Pitxun cheese or Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large pot, start boiling water. Add a good pinch of salt and cook the noodles to package directions. Drain the pasta and mix in one teaspoon olive oil and set aside.
  2. Heat a large, 10" skillet with one teaspoon olive oil and one tablespoon of butter on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add one tablespoon of the chopped Tarragon, 1/2 tsp. each of red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and salt. Cook for another minute, not letting the garlic burn.
  3. Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Add the remaining one tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Add the last one tablespoon of Tarragon and serve immediately. Grate some Pitxun or Parmesan cheese over it and enjoy!

    Thursday, December 22, 2005


    Every year my parent's have a Christmas block party in their neighborhood. Each family visits a neighbor's house for drinks or cookies or appetizers. And every year, their neighbors, the Lovewells, make their famour (or infamous?) glogg. Glogg is a spicy alcoholic beverage made with red wine and whiskey and served hot usually during Christmas. It's a traditional hot drink served in Sweden. Glogg is similar to mulled wine, but it's got more of a kick. You can buy bottles of Glogg now at certain supermarkets (Trader Joe's) and you just need to heat and serve. Basically, to me, glogg is just a more fancy Hot Toddy. Enjoy!

    INGREDIENTS (1 serving)

    • 1/2 teaspoon finely Shredded Orange Peel
    • 1 Stick Cinnamon, Broken
    • 2 Whole Cloves
    • 1 Cardamom Pod, Opened
    • 3/4 cup Red Wine
    • 2 tablespoons Whiskey
    • 2 tablespoons Madeira or Port
    • 1 teaspoon Raisins
    • 1/2 teaspoon Honey, or more to taste
    • 2 Whole, Blanched Almonds
    For spice bag, tie the shredded orange peel, cinnamon, whole cloves, and opened cardamom pod in a double layer of cheesecloth (or you can use a coffee filter). In a 2-cup microwave safe measuring cup combine wine, whiskey, madeira or port, raisins, honey, and spice bag. Microwave, uncovered, 1 to 2 minutes or till heated through, but not boiling. Remove from microwave and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes and up to 3 hours to develop more flavor.

      When ready to serve, microwave for 1 to 2 minutes more or untill heated through, but not boiling. Remove spice bag. Serve in a mug. Add almonds and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

      Wednesday, December 21, 2005

      French Cheese Tasting

      the french cheese trioMy step-mom, Elaine, received an incredible gift from her boss this year: a trio of imported French cheeses and crackers. And so last night, Matthew and I visited my folks for a French cheese tasting. As soon as we saw the cheeses we knew they were special. Each cheese had its own distinct packaging and one could tell that the French really take their fromage seriously. And, I'm happy to report, that last night was a night of indulgence. We accompanied our cheeses with warm sourdough bread and a bottle of 2001 Tamas Estates Cabernet Sauvignon.
      2001 Tamas Cabernet Sauvignon

      First, we tasted a Brillat-Savarin Affiné. This is decadent triple cream cheese and should only be eaten with your loved ones or your friends! It is one of the richest cheeses you will ever taste, so a full pound of it will easily serve 12 people. The cheese if soft and buttery and it has the consistency of cream cheese. Brillat-Savarin is native to Normandy; however this cheese came by way of Bourgogne or Burgundy. The cheese is perfect for dessert and should be served with ripe, fresh fruit and crusty, French or sourdough bread. I don't even want to know how much fat is in this cheese but it was out of this world!

      Super creamy Brillat-Savarin

      Next, we had Pitxun Sheep Cheese. This is an artisanal cheese with a natural crust by way of the French Basque Country. Pitxun is made from raw sheep milk and is handcrafted by the sheepherders. Pitxun has a natural rind which has been rolled in ashes. The rind is quite tough and you will need a sharp knife to cut through it. The cheese tastes the way a cheese should taste: It is firm and has a slightly flaky consistency. Pitxun is quite nutty and a little salty, making it a perfect mate to sweets and to Basque wines. You can also grate it over light flavored pastas. This was probably my favorite cheese and it tasted great on a piece of crusty bread.

      Pitxun and Chevre du Poitou

      Finally, we had Chèvre Du Poitou, which is a soft, ripened cheese from the famous goat-breeding region of Poitou. The flavor is more profound and sharp. It's a Camembert-style cheese and this goat’s milk version has a silky, creamy texture, and a smooth goaty flavor. This cheese would go best with a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

      All in all, we had a great time tasting the cheeses. I can't wait to see what my step-mom gets for Christmas next year!!!

      Tuesday, December 20, 2005

      Easy Atole (Mexican Hot Drink)

      During Christmastime, Mexican families everywhere enjoy homemade atole, a cornstarch-based Mexican hot chocolate drink, also known as champurrado. One of my tias still likes to make her atole from scratch but I learned from my grandmother that one can make super easy atole (AH-toh-lay) from a package: Maizena.

      You can find Maizena in most grocery stores now. Maizena is a brand of Mexican cornstarch. You want to buy the flavored cornstarch which comes in 1.59 oz packages. They have all kinds of flavors from vanilla to strawberry, chocolate to cinnamon. For this recipe, though, you will need the chocolate flavored maizena. You will also need cold water, whole or 2% milk, sugar and cinnamon sticks, and follow the directions on the package.

      First, mix the package contents with cold water. DO NOT mix it with hot water. This mixture is called a slurry.

      Cornstarch + Cold Water = Slurry

      In a large sauce pot, slowly bring milk to a boil. Stir frequently so that you do not burn the milk. Once the milk is hot enough pour the slurry (the maizena and cold water) mixture and stir with a wire whisk.

      Add sugar to taste and keep stirring with the wire whisk until it gets to a slightly thick consistency and a glossy finish. Serve immediately with a few cinnamon sticks for decoration.

      We like to drink our atole super hot and with a side of sweet tamales. YUMMY!

      Pictures courtesy of

      Monday, December 19, 2005

      Sunday Breakfast: The Mission

      The Mission describes itself as a "Chino Latino restaurant" since it serves Latin food with an Asian twist (such as the ginger-sesame chicken roll-up in a tomato tortilla) but I highly recommend going there for breakfast. All their specials are fabulous, specially the Latin breakfast menu. They also serve all types of coffee drinks and have (I've heard) quite yummy bloody mary's. The Mission was also features in $40 dollars a day with Rachel Ray, which goes to show that this place is quite popular. The Mission has three locations, but we like their venue in Downtown, San Diego, it just seems more cozy and less crowded.
      My brother, Tom, and my dad both ordered The Mission French Toast ($6.95), which is fresh-baked cinnamon bread on a palette of berry purée, accented with an array of fresh fruit. Isn't the presentation awesome? My sister, Nathalie, got the Ranchos Verde ($6.50.) plate. It's fresh flour tortillas with over-medium eggs, cheese and topped with roasted chile verde sauce, served with a side of black beans. My husband, Matthew, ordered the Strawberry Granola Pancakes ($6.95). He got three huge pancakes with fresh strawberries and grain cereal and a side of two scrambled eggs and double smoked bacon (you slightly see a picture of it in the background). Lindsey, my sister-in-law, ordered the Scrambled Egg Quesadilla ($6.50) which is a large flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa fresca. Elaine and I ordered the Plato Verde con Huevos ($6.95). It's a huge plate with a sweet corn tamale, eggs over medium, covered with roasted tomatillo sauce and a side of black beans.

      The Mission is located at: 1250 J St. San Diego, CA 92101

      Sunday, December 18, 2005

      Piñon: Beef Plantain Omelette

      Piñon is a thick omelette-style cake filled with ground beef, fried ripened plantains and capers and olives. This dish is the epitome of good Puerto Rican comfort food and it tastes great served with a cold malta (if you haven't tried a malta yet, taste it with caution. It's an acquired taste!). My mom has perfected this dish but mine didn't come out as pretty looking as hers, hence no picture, but the taste was delicious. The sweet plaintains with the beef and sofrito is a winning combination.


      • 3 very ripe plantains
      • Olive oil
      • 1 onion, chopped
      • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
      • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
      • 1/2 pound ground beef
      • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
      • 1 Tablespoon sofrito (optional)
      • 1 Tablespoon capers, rinsed
      • 1 Tablespoon sliced green olives
      • Salt and pepper
      • 6 eggs, beaten
      • 1/4 cup butter
      1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Peel the plantains, cut into 2-inch thick legthwise slices, and fry in the olive oil until golden brown. Remove, drain in a paper towel and keep warm.
      3. Add one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and saute the onion, green pepper, and garlic until soft but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and fry at high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce, the sofrito and add the capers and olives. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (As always, taste first before adding salt).
      4. Beat the eggs, adding salt and pepper to taste, until fluffy. Butter the sides and bottom of a round casserole and melt the remaining butter in the bottom.
      5. Pour in half of the beaten eggs and cook over medium heat (over the stove top) for about 1 minute or until slightly set. Cover the eggs with one-third of the plantain slices, following with layers of half the ground meat. Add another layer of plantains, the remainder of the ground beef and top with plantains. Pour the rest of the beaten eggs over the top.
      6. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, uncovered, being careful not to let the omelette burn. Then place in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown the top of the piñon. Serve with rice and beans.

      Saturday, December 17, 2005

      Halibut and Corn Salad with Broken Vinaigrette

      If you're not a big fan of lima beans, then this recipe will change your mind forever! I got this recipe from Michael Chiorello's NapaStyle website but, as usual, I modified the recipe. Most of my "tweaks" were done in order to simplify the recipe (the original is done in like 10 various stages!) but at the same time still have tons of flavor. My husband loved the lima bean and corn with the broken vinaigrette and the halibut was very tender and flaky. You can serve the lima bean/corn salad with almost any meal. I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did.


      • 4 slices of bacon
      • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (low-salt, if possible)
      • 1 tsp. Balsamic vinegar
      • 1 TBSP. water
      • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
      • 1 lemon, the juice of (about 2 TBSP)
      • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
      • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
      • 3 sprigs of fresh Tarragon, chopped
      • 1 cup of lima beans, frozen
      • 2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
      • 2 Halibut filets
      • Olive Oil
      • Kosher salt
      • Ground black pepper

      1. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Place the bacon in a baking pan lined with foil. Bake it the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until cooked and crisp. Then chop the bacon into 1/2" pieces and set aside. Remove 1 tsp. of bacon grease and also set aside. To the same baking pan (still with the foil) , add your halibut filets seasoned with salt and pepper. Top each file with a sprig of Tarragon and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until fish is opaque and flaky.

      2. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, water and the minced garlic. Cook on medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the tomato sauce into a small glass bowl. Sprinkle a little fresh ground black pepper over it and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil but DO NOT MIX IT IN. Set aside.
      3. In another small bowl, add the lemon juice, jalapeno, apple cider vinegar, chopped Tarragon and 1/2 tsp. salt. Blend in the bacon grease and 1/4 cup olive oil. Let it marinate at least 10 minutes.
      4. Place a large pot filled with water on high heat. Bring to a boil and add the lima beans. Cook for 10 minutes. Then add the corn to the same pot and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove and strain lima beans and corn. Add them into a glass baking dish and mix in the chopped bacon. To this, add the vinaigrette (after it has marinated) and the tomato sauce. Mix to combine and place it in the oven (at 350) for 5 minutes. Make sure you taste the salad first and season it, if necessary.

      5. To serve, place the lima bean/corn mixture on your plate and top it with a halibut filet.

      Recipe courtesy of Michael Chiorello. Original recipe located here.

      Friday, December 16, 2005

      Happy Hour at the Prado

      A frozen passion fruit margarita and my regular margarita on the rocks!What is one of the best kept secrets in San Diego: Happy Hour at the Prado. This is the place to be (Monday to Thursday from 4 to 6PM) if you are looking for the best margaritas, well-drinks and house wine (in large glasses) for $2.50. Yes, two-feetie.

      But that's not all, they also serve some of their most popular appetizers for half-price such as the crispy calamari with a chile-lime cabbage slaw and a sweet & spicy dipping sauce ($4.50), shrimp stuffed jalapeno poppers with a chimirri sauce ($4.50), or their yummy beef taquitos with a spicy sauce ($2.50). The Chicken Quesadilla

      The Prado was formerly named Cafe Del Rey Moro and it is located in the historic Balboa Park. Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the nation. It's home to 15 museums, various performing arts organizations and the world famous San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park is also acclaimed for its horticultural treasures. So, whether you're a native San Diegan or a tourist, make sure you stop at the Prado for happy hour. You may, just may, find my husband and I at the restaurant since it's only minutes away from our place!

      The Prado at Balboa Park is located at:My favorite: beef taquitos with a smoked spicy sauce

      1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 (in Balboa Park at the House of Hospitality) Tel: 619.557.9441

      Sorry the last two photos are blurry. I was already a little tipsy when I took them!

      Thursday, December 15, 2005

      The Perfect Grill Marks

      The Perfect Grill Marks Have you ever been to a steak house or to a dinner party and the grill marks on your steak were perfect? Have you wondered, "how did they do that?" Believe me, I have, and I've been learning the art of grill marks for a while. I'm still an intermediate beginner but my husband has mastered the art. Check out his perfect steak pictured above!

      To acquire the perfect grill marks on your steak you will need:

      • A hot grill
      • Patience, and
      • Timing

      Place your steak directly onto a hot grill for a few minutes. Then using tongs or a spatula give your steak a quarter turn to create the second set of marks resulting in a crisscross pattern.

      When it is time to flip your steak repeat the process of grilling for a few minutes and then give it a quarter turn.

      You may need to practice a few times before mastering the art of presentation, but once you've learned it you shan't forget it. Don't forget to baste your steaks in your favorite BBQ sauce or one of my new favs, Sweet Baby Ray's barbacue sauce.

      Wednesday, December 14, 2005

      Butternut Squash Soup

      As soon as winter rolls around, I begin to crave creamy and yummy soups. I know what you're thinking: Winter in San Diego??? But it actually does get cold here. Maybe we don't get down to freezing temperatures but 45 degrees in quite freakin' cold to a San Diegan. This soup is quite easy to make; the roasting of the butternut squash is the only part that takes the longest. You can also substitute creme fraiche for the sour cream. And if you want your butternut squash soup to be more dense and richer, add heavy cream to the soup.


      • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/4 pounds)
      • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
      • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
      • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 3 cups chicken broth
      • 1-2 cups water, as needed
      • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
      • Sour cream for garnish
      1. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Arrange the halves cut side down in roasting pan that has been sprayed with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Bake squash in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until very tender. Set aside to cool. When the squash is completely cool, scoop the flesh from the skin.
      2. While the squash is baking, cook the onion and the ginger in the butter in a saucepan, over moderately low heat, for 5 minutes or until the onion is softened, Add the broth and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, covered. Add the squash pulp to the sauce pan.
      3. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, in batches, and puree until smooth. Add enough water to achieve the desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste.
      4. Return the soup to the sauce pan and cook over moderate heat until it is hot. Garnish each portion with the heaping teaspoon of sour cream.

      Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

      Tuesday, December 13, 2005

      Imitation Crab Meat Ceviche

      The ingredients: crab meat, tomatoes, avocados, jalapeños, red onion, limes and cilantroI'm very proud to say that my mom invented (okay, maybe not invented but perfected) this dish. Back in the day, when I was a wee child, we used to live in Tijuana, Mexico—yes, this is back in the 80's—and my grandpa used to bring us goodies from the U.S. One of the most peculiar of these goodies was a package of imitation crab meat. Since my mom had not used it before she decided to make it "ceviche" style and the rest, as they say, is history.

      What is ceviche? [Usually] raw seafood marinated or “cooked” in a citrus mixture. When using seafood that is already cooked or par boiled, you do not need as much citrus (usually lime) mixture.

      What are tostadas? Tostadas are toasted or fried whole corn tortillas. You can find them in the Latin foods section of your grocery store.


      • 16 oz. Imitation Crab Meat, cut into small bite size pieces
      • 2 limes, halved
      • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
      • 1 Jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
      • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
      • 2 ripe avocados
      • 1/4 cup Cilantro leaves, lightly chopped
      • Kosher salt
      • Fresh ground pepper
      • Tostadas or good quality tortilla chips
      1. In a small glass bowl, add the diced red onion. Squeeze the juice of one lime (about 2 TBSP), 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. The marinated red onion
      2. Add in the imitation crab meat, jalapeño, tomatoes, the marinated onion and the lime juice, and the cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Add an additional 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper, if needed (make sure you taste it first before adding salt). Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for 15 minutes.
      3. Just before serving, put the ceviche into your serving dish. Dice up the two avocados and add it to the ceviche and mix to combine. Squeeze in the remaining lime and serve with a side of tostadas or good quality tortilla chips.

      YUM! Imitation Crab Meat Ceviche Ceviche on a tostada

      Monday, December 12, 2005

      Riesling Roasted Pears and Grapes

      As you all may know, I'm a big fan of Rachel Ray and when I saw her new magazine in the newstand, well, I just had to buy it. There are tons of good, easy recipes in her mag, which you can also find in her website, Everyday with Rachel Ray. I saw this recipe in there and I just had to try it. In the original recipe, it calls for fresh thyme sprigs but I ommited them becasue I could not find any in my market. Also, instead of ice cream, the recipe asks for fresh whipped cream. I really like the cold vanilla ice cream paired with the warm, tender pears and grapes. The flavors and temperature of the two make your tastebuds go crazy!


      • 2 large firm-ripe Bosc pears, cored and quartered (skin on)
      • 2 cups green seedless grapes
      • 1 cup Riesling
      • 1/4 cup clover honey
      • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
      • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      • Good vanilla ice cream
      1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a baking dish large enough to hold the pears comfortably, arrange the pear quarters, cut side down, and scatter the grapes around them. In a bowl, combine the wine, honey, apricot preserves, and vanilla, and pour over the pears.
      2. Transfer the dish to the oven and roast the fruit until tender, about 40 minutes, basting several times. Spoon the pears and grapes into serving dishes.
      3. Serve the pears and grapes topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

      Friday, December 09, 2005

      Torta Alemão & Girlsrock Christmas Party

      The food spreadI consider myself a very lucky person. By no means am I rich but I do have the best husband I could ever ask for, a wonderful family and friends that LOVE FOOD, and that is a very important factor for me. I don't "get" people who consider food just a source of energy and not something to enjoy. And that's why I think I'm blessed with friends and family that enjoy food and like to cook just as much as I do.

      Which brings me to a gathering I attended last night for the Girlsrock Christmas party. The group is made up of single and married professional females that work at Qualcomm and since most of us work in various departments and are scattered throughout San Diego, we keep in touch through our Girlsrock mailing list.

      Chicken Salad

      We had a lot of fun and the food was quite good. Most of it was ready-made, but still very yummy. We had ready-to-eat Sushi, mini quiches, baked egg rolls, cheesecake, chicken salad, cheese and crackers, and a 5-minute sangria. My friend, Ana, made a great dessert she calls, Torta Alemão, although in Mexico is called Pay de Limon. It's a very easy dessert to make that requires no baking. It's creamy and crunchy, light and very refreshing.

      So if you're having a get together this year and don't have time to cook, buy ready-made food at your store. Sushi and the mini-quiches are always a hit...and who can resist egg rolls?

      To make the 5-minute sangria you will need:

      • 1 (4 LTR) bottle of Carlo Rossi Red Sangria, chilled
      • 1 Apple, cut into bite size pieces
      • 1 Orange, cut into eight wedges with the skin on
      Pour the chilled wine into a your serving pitcher and fill it 3/4 full. Add the cut fruits and let it sit for 5 minutes then serve!

      Torta Alemão

      Refreshing and light Torta Alemão INGREDIENTS

      For Pie:

      • 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
      • 1 can (12 oz) of evaporated milk
      • 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
      • About 3 packages of Gamesa's Galletas Marias, availabe at most grocers in the Latin Foods department
      For Ganache:
      • 8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
      • 3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
      • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

      First, make the cookie pie:

      In a blender, blend thcondenseded milk, evaporated milk and the juice of the limes for about one minute, until mixture becomes homogeneous and creamy and slightly thick.

      In casserolele or a glass baking dish place a layer of the galletas marias cookies then a layer of the condensed milk mixture. Repeat the process, ending with a layer of cookies and a layer of the milk mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours or overnight.

      When ready to serve, make the ganache (at this point you can take out the pie from the freezer and let it thaw out in the refrigerator).

      Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside.

      Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Immediately pour the chocolate ganache over the thawed out pie and spread with a spatula. Wait 5 minutes for ganache to set then serve!!!!

      The Finished Torta Alemão

      Torta Alemão

      Sara and Rach

      Sara (our wonderful hostess) and Rachel.

      Ana & Baby

      Mamma Ana--that's a non-alcoholic beer!

      Nathalie, Marie-Claude & Aisha

      Nathalie, Marie-Claude and Aisha

      Thursday, December 08, 2005

      Wine Notes: 2002 Opus One

      I don't consider myself a wine snob nor am I an expert in wines, but I am very picky about the wines I drink and when I found out that my husband bought a 2002 Opus One, I was beyond ecstatic. I had only savored this wine once before: It was a 2000 Opus One that my good buddy, Bill, shared with the cooking club. Ever since, I've been hooked on this wine, but considering its high price, it is definitely a wine for very special occasions. The price range for an Opus One ranges from the low $100's up to thousands of dollars.

      There is a reason for the high price: Opus One is a very expensive wine to produce, and has been since day one. "The standard is not to be excellent here, it is to be perfect," co-Winemaker Tim Mondavi declares matter-of-factly. No compromises are made, no corners cut. Opus One is meticulously "hand massaged," with frequent topping of barrels and six rackings during its 18 months in barrel, making it extremely labor intensive. The wine is moved only by the gentle force of gravity; mechanical pumps are banned. And, at a cost of more than $29 million, the Opus One Winery ranks as one of the world's most expensive single-product facilities.

      Tasting Notes

      The 2002 Opus One shows really dark with ruby edges. Beautiful blackberry, intense black current, some plum. The fruit is very concentrated. Powdered cocoa, and vanilla from the oak round out the flavors. Very well integrated even at this early stage. Tannins spread out in the finish, and they are slightly dusty but well incorporated into the wine. They coat your mouth but are very gentle. Finish is a little short, but it is pleasant. A blend of 86% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot, 3% malbec, 3% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot. Drink from 2007 - 2019.

      Wednesday, December 07, 2005

      Grilled Salmon Teriyaki

      I just love Teriyaki sauce but sometimes the bottled stuff is either too sweet or too salty for me. I learned how to make homemade teriyaki sauce when I was in college and have been a big fan of it ever since. Making your own terikayi is quite easy and once you get the hang of it, you'll be making it all the time. You can also baste chicken and beef in this wonderful sauce or use it as BBQ sauce.


      • 2 Salmon fillets 1/2" thick, with skin on
      • Kosher Salt
      • Pepper
      • 2 tbsp sake (rice wine)
      • 4 tbsp soy sauce
      • 4 tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
      • 2 tbsp sugar
      Prepare the teriyaki sauce: Place the soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in a small pan and simmer on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes slightly sticky. Set aside

      Prepare the salmon: Season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Get your grill pan or a large, non-stick skillet and place it on a medium heat. Place the salmon, skin side up, on your grill pan or skillet and cook for 6 to 8 minutes then turn the fish over. Brush the top of the salmon with 1/3 of the teriyaki sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Keep brushing salmons until you use up all the sauce, about 4 more minutes.

      Serve the salmon with a side a sticky rice and steamed broccoli.

      Tuesday, December 06, 2005

      Eating out at Pizza Nova

      My husband and I went to Pizza Nova on Sunday night. This was our first time at this pizza joint which specializes in wood-fired, hand-stretched pizzas. They also make their pasta fresh everyday. The decor is classy chic and the food is very affordable. I really liked their food although they do need to have a better wine list available. Now, to the food!

      For an appetizer, we ordered the Cheezy Garlic Bread ($3.75). It is sourdough bread topped with garlic butter and Parmesan cheese. It's no lie, this bread is garlicky. Vampires, beware!

      For dinner, my husband ordered one of their new specialties, Swordfish Piccata ($14.95). This was my favorite dish. It consisted of grilled swordfish topped with a white wine lemon and caper cream sauce. Served with fettuccine and sauted vegetables. I highly recommend this dish.

      I ordered the Portobello Mushroom & Asparagus Fettuccine ($11.50), which are portobello mushrooms, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic atop fresh egg fettuccine in a light wine and garlic cream sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese. This was a so-so dish. It was too rich for me and I was only able to eat 1/4 of it. I took the rest of it home and we had it as a side dish the next day!

      I recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a low-cost night out. All their food is made fresh, their wood-fired pizzas are quite good and their prices are very reasonable. Many of the patrons stop by here for lunch or dinner first then head on to the Landmark Theatre in the same complex.

      Pizza Nova - Hillcrest is located at 3955 Fifth Avenue, (619) 296-6682