Happy Anniversary Joey!


Six years ago my life was very different.  I had just turned 40, I was single and I had no hope of finding a relationship.  "I Hate Boys Nights" were a weekly staple for Karolyn and me and consisted of pizza, mozzarella sticks and lots of wine.  We usually spent these nights wondering how two such fabulous people could still be single and why boys were such...well, weenies.  Tiring of our situation, though not each other, we decided to take action.  One drunken night Karolyn decided to join eHarmony and proceeded to fill out their lengthy questionnaire while I watched not two, but three episodes of "Will & Grace".  After that ordeal I was rather thankful they didn't accept people of my persuasion. However, not wanting to be left behind I decided to join Match.com at Karolyn's urging. Honestly, it couldn't be worse than my current options of Gay.com where I was working or ManHunt which was much more of a place for PNP than LTR. I was pleased that Match.com did lend itself more towards relationships and, honestly I had nothing to lose.

The very first profile that caught my eye was of this little thug "Lord of da Bling." My goodness he was the cutest thing I had ever seen, but I could not fathom that he would be interested in someone who's current schedule consisted of Knitting Class each Thursday.  Being too afraid to contact him, I bookmarked him for a time when I would get up the nerve to "wink." A couple of weeks went by and I finally decided to dive in and do the dreaded wink.  To my surprise I not only got a wink back but an email.  Hey, this guy is pretty smart and he seems to like me! A phone call followed shortly there after and I have to say, I was hooked. We talked for hours and I felt like I had known him forever.  We decided to meet in a couple of days at a bar near my house.  As luck would have it my ex and his exceedingly annoying new boyfriend also planned to be at the same bar that night, but you know what?  I didn't even notice they were there.  I only had eyes for one man that night and it was Joey.  That was six years ago today and I still only have eyes for that one man.

Joey, you make me so very happy.  I'm so glad you came into my life.


Turkey Enchilada Casserole


I can't imagine my life without the influence of Mexican heritage. When I was growing up Cinco de Mayo was one of my favorite times in elementary school.  The music, the dancing and most of all the food.  If I had to pick my favorite food it would be Mexican food hands down.  Give me some home-made tortillas, frijoles and cheese and I am a happy man. When I was five my mom actually taught me how to make flour tortillas and this was a skill that came in handy when I moved to Japan and buying tortilla at the marketing was certainly not an option.

Now Mexican food is not really known for being figure-friendly and when I found this recipe in my Weight Watcher's Take-Out Tonight cookbook I was skeptical.  How could one take the fat out of my favorite food and still have it be delicious?!  Well, this really does the trick.  While it is not authentic Mexican food, it has all the flavor and reminds me of a culture my life wouldn't be the same without.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground skinless turkey breast
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4 1/2 ounce can) mild green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, halved
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat over to 375° F. Spray a 7x11-inch baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in 1 teaspoon of the oli., then add the turkey, half of the onions, half of the garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.
  3. Cook breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon until browned, about 8 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl in the the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, then add the remaining onions, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the oregano, and cumin.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well softened, about 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the enchilada sauce, chiles, and vinegar and bring to a boil.  
  7. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until the flavors are blended.  About 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.
  9. Arrange on-third of the tortilla halves in an overlapping layer on the bottom of the dish.
  10. Spoon one-third of the turkey misture over the top; top with one-third of the sauce and sprinkle one-third of the cheddar.  
  11. Repeat the layering twice.
  12. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes longer or until the cheese in bubbly.
  14. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Joey Recommends - Poc-Chuc




Poc-Chuc is a little hole-in-the-wall gem! I've never had Mayan fusion food so I was extremely excited to see what it was all about. Walking in I was taken aback by how the decor was really bare-bones but in reality it demonstrated how this experience would be the real deal without all the flash.

For starters we shared the "appetizer sampler" which was amazing. Of the five items on the plate my favorites were the empanada and the salbute. The tortillas are obviously freshly made because it truly makes a difference. And thank goodness they provided a small stack of tortillas and refried beans on the side. I couldn't get enough!

For my main entree I ordered the seared duck breast topped with orange-honey sauce & served with sauted Napa cabbage and mashed potatoes. I'm a big duck fan and this particular duck was seared to perfection, leaving an extremely moist breast meat. And the cabbage was also prepared excellently.

I heard that the slow braised chicken thigh is a crowd pleaser so we'll definitely be back for more! Also they do not have a liquor license so you can bring your own wine and there is no corkage fee! Great deal, huh? You can bring a bottle of two buck chuck or a fine pinot noir of your choice. Poc Chuc is definitely a repeat in my book!


Poc-Chuc
2886 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-3634

(415) 558-1583 | website

Mango Mousse


I live right up the street from Castro and make it down there almost every day whether to pick up some groceries or hop on the train to go downtown. Recently there has been a young man on the corner selling fruit. A few weeks ago I bought a huge box of the most delicious strawberries I have ever tasted and last Friday it was a big box of mangos. I figured that I could surely find some sort of recipe to use them in. Well, easier said than done. I found a few, but they just didn't look appealing to me. I searched and searched and was beginning to have buyer's remorse. What was I going to do with all these mangos? Finally I found one on BigOven.com.

This particular recipe uses Splenda instead of sugar so it's diabetic-friendly, which was perfect since I wanted to share this dessert with Joey's mom. I also have a huge bag of Splenda that I have been curious to use.  I followed the recipe to the letter.  The result was amazing.  It's a really creamy dessert with just the right mix of sweet and tangy.  It's also very light and fluffy so it's perfect for this time of year.  The time involved is a bit long since mangos are not fun to peal at all, but it's well worth the effort.

Ingredients
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups mango puree (2-3 mangos)
  • 1/3 cup Splenda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream - well-chilled
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water, let it soften for 1 minute, and heat the mixture over low heat, stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved.
  2. In a blender blend together the mango puree, the sugar, and the vanilla, add the gelatin mixture, and blend the mixture well. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the yogurt.
  3. In a chilled bowl beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks, fold it into the mango mixture gently but thoroughly, and divide the mousse among 6 dessert glasses or ramekins. 
  4. Chill the mousse for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Garnish the mousses with mango slices, mint leaves, or a small chocolate wafer.


Asparagus with Toasted Pine Nuts & Lemon Vinaigrette


Remember the days when "You've Got Mail" was exciting?  Now when I hear my email ding I think, "What now?" and usually it's an offer for Xanax or well, you know.

Back in the day I sincerely didn't know there was anything beyond AOL. When I found out there was I felt like my entire world opened up. One of the first sites I found was this little no-frills recipe site. Back then most of the sites were no-frill. It's been so long that I can't even remember the site, but they had thousands of recipes.  It was like I had found a treasure trove.  This is the first recipe I ever got online and it is one of my favorites. I still have my tattered little printed copy from my StyleWriter II.

This recipe so simple and easy to make, but so delicious.  Now that asparagus is in season you should really try this.  I know pine nuts are a bit pricey, but you only need three tablespoons.  (You can tell that I obviously went a little nuts on the pine nut front last time I made this.)  Let me know what you think!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper, freshly ground
Instructions
  1. Start boiling water.
  2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, basil and oregano in small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat a small skillet over medium and toast pine nuts stirring constantly. Set aside.
  4. Snap off touch ends of asparagus
  5. Remove scales from stalks with knife or vegetable peeler, if desired.
  6. Place spears in a steaming rack over boiling water; cover and steam 4-5 minutes or until spears are crisp-tender.
  7. Place asparagus in bowl or on serving platter and toss with olive oil mixture.
  8. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Joey Recommends - Icing on the Cake



While in Los Gatos for Karolyn & Kevin’s wedding, Sean & I stumbled upon this pastry shop called Icing on The Cake centrally located in the city’s downtown. It’s a cute little shop and we were instantly won over by the charming sign outside. We both have a sweet tooth so we definitely had to try it out.


Upon entering the shop I was taken by the whimsical colors and eye catching signs for all their products. It really seemed like a sweet haven. The showcase had a myriad of cookies, cakes, cupcakes, bars, and muffins to try. I wanted to sample each and every one of them but that would not have been possible. The wedding was the following day and we didn’t want to bulge out of our tuxedoes, so we didn’t want to overdo it. Plus we didn’t want to ruin our appetites for the rehearsal dinner that night.

The lady behind the counter seemed genuinely friendly and more than happy to answer all our questions and make recommendations. We ended up picking up three things to share: the lemon poppyseed shortbread cookie, a chocolate dee-luxe cookie, and a caramel miranda bar. We ended up saving it and having them after we got back to the hotel from the rehearsal dinner. All three were scrumptious with buttery goodness!

Before leaving Los Gatos we had to make one more pilgrimage to Icing on The Cake and pick some treats to bring back home to enjoy. In the early morning we made our way to the shop and was once again tasked with deciding what to select! For breakfast the next day we decided to pick up a couple of cinnamon rolls. And for future consumption over the next several days we also purchased two each of the swirly cake, chocolate buttermilk cupcake, classic vanilla cupcake, and red velvet cupcake. The server highly recommended the banarama cake so I decided to pick up a slice for my Mom since she likes bananas. Anyway, the swirly cake is their version of hostess’ chocolate cupcake with cream filling and white swirly icing on the top, hence the name. However, this version is so much better. Like all the other cupcakes, this one is extremely moist and each bite brings you that much closer to nirvana. And sinking your teeth into and eating that cinnamon roll was pure bliss.

If Los Gatos wasn’t so far we’d be frequenting this place a lot. Actually, maybe it’s a good idea that it’s not close to us. But if we ever have reason to be in Los Gatos, like to visit Kevin’s wonderful Mom Pam, we will have to make sure that we drop by Icing on The Cake and get more treats!

Check out their website at: icingonthecakebakery.com

Icing on the Cake
50 W. Main Street
Los Gatos, CA 95050

408-354-2464 | Website

Sausage Rolls


Last Friday I got it in my head that I wanted to have finger foods for dinner.  We already had some amazing cheeses we had bought earlier in the week as well as some herring. Having some fresh veggies was easy, but I wanted to try something new.  So many times we have had little get-togethers and made some real duds.  (Salmon spread quickly comes to mind.)  It's always a bit scary to test your new creations on guests so I decided to test something on Joey instead.

I had picked up Half-Baked Gourmet Party Food: Partly Homemade Totally Delicious at a bookstore ages ago and decided I would make something from that.  Since I had Italian sausage and I love making things with crescent roll dough this was the perfect recipe. I made it two ways - one with Italian sausage and provolone and the other with prosciutto and mozzarella. The verdict?  Both were tasty, but I liked the sausage a bit more and Joey liked the prosciutto.  Yay! We were both happy and I felt so Sandra Lee.  I would totally make these again.  They would be perfect for game night (sports or board) and are really easy.  This makes about 40 pieces and, no, we didn't eat all of them. (They do reheat well, though.)

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound Italian sauage
  • 1 package (8 ounces) crescent roll dough
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
Instructions

Part 1
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Remove sausage from casings and crumble into skillet.
  3. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink, breaking it up while it cooks.
  4. Drain well and let cool completely.
Part 2
  1. Unroll pastry but do not separate into triangles.
  2. Pinch the perforations together making four rectangles.
  3. Sprinkle one fourth of the sausage on each dough rectangle then top each with two slices of cheese.
  4. Roll up from long edge and place each roll, seam side down on a sheet of wax paper.
  5. Roll up in the paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Part 3
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Bake the rolls on an ungreased baking sheet for about 18 minutes or until golden brown. 
  3. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  4. Cut each into 10 pieces.
Variation

Substitute 1 package (4 ounces) thinly sliced prosciutto and 8 thin slices of mozzarella for the sausage and provolone.  Prepare as above.

Ronald McDonald Makeover


I love living in San Francisco and our "San Francisco Values."  I am very proud of our city on the bay and our passion for various causes.  Once in awhile, however, there is a protest that is just plain silly.

I don't know if you heard about it, but a group called Corporate Accountability International recently launched a campaign to force McDonald's to retire the clown.  Apparently, it's Ronald's fault that Americans are obese.  That's right, ole Ronald has forced our children to eat his food.  Now, I grew up with Ronald McDonald, I even had a really nerdy McDonald's flag on my bike. When we got vaccines we went to McDonald's and got them and ole Ronald was right there to wipe away our little tears.  Rather than get rid of him why not give him a makeover?  Well, those clever Japanese have already done that and years ago.  Below are two McDonald's commercials from Japan.  Look, problem solved! No protest necessary! Don't you wish everything were that easy?





Okonomiyaki


Having lived in Osaka for a number of years I am very fond of food from that region.  In my opinion Osaka has the best food in all of Japan.  One of Osaka's signature dishes is okonomiyaki.  This dish is often referred to as a "savory Japanese pancake" and I suppose you could call it that, but to me that always sounded gross.  Another term is "Japanese Pizza" but they have pizza so I wouldn't call it that, either.  I think it's more like a really thick crepe. Whatever you call it, it's my absolute favorite dish from Osaka.  I have many fond memories going to a little dive near my house run by two elderly sisters.  They bickered like crazy, but always had a huge smile for me and my Japanese family and we went there often.  In fact, almost weekly.

When I moved to San Francisco I could not find good okonomiyaki anywhere. It's really not a dish that appeals to a lot of Americans.  Since I couldn't find it, I decided to learn to make it.  Now, I cheat on this.  I use a kit.  I have tried a lot of kits, but my favorite is by Otafuku. I get mine in Japantown, but you can buy this kit in three-packs through ImportFood on Amazon.  Besides the kit, you are going to need to buy Okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie Mayonaise, Bonito Flakes, and aonori.  All of these can be found online.

I used to be able to buy this kit with English directions but they don't seem to have them anymore.  I decided to post them here in case anyone had a hankering for okonomiyaki and couldn't read Japanese.  (I really can't very well, either.  I just follow the pictures!)  I have provided a picture below of what comes in the kit for reference.

This is really a fun meal to make and eat.  It's also healthy(ish).  Lucky for me Joey loves it, too, so we have it often.

Ingredients

Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet or griddle over high heat and brush lightly with vegetable oil.
  2. Add water to large bowl and mix in Yam Powder (pink package) until dissolved.
  3. Add Batter Mix (large clear package with orange writing) and blend until wet. 
  4. Add green onion, cabbage, Tempura (yellow package) and eggs and mix gently until incorporated.  Don't over mix.
  5. Pour the batter on griddle to form two 6-inch pancakes and cook for 3 minutes
  6. While cooking add the pork to the top of each pancake.
  7. Flip each pancake and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Flip once more and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  9. Remove from griddle and top with okonmiyaki sauce, mayonaise, aonori (green package) and bonito flakes.
  10. Add pickled ginger (optional)

Joey Recommends - AQUA








For Sean's birthday we, with our friend Suella, went to Aqua, voted one of the five most beautiful restaurants in San Francisco by Michael Bauer on SFGate.com. Aqua is definitely eye pleasing with the simple lines, the subtle colors, artwork, and oversized mirrors hanging on the wall. We started off with an amuse bouche trio compliments of the chef. The teaser consisted of duck gyoza, a salsa soup, and a croquette.

We had the option of proceeding with three courses or seven. Although the seven courses were tempting, the offerings found on the regular menu won us over. It was difficult to select from the appetizer list because we wanted to try each and every single one of them. Ultimately Sean opted for the foie gras terrine, Suella the Maine diver scallop with sweetbread ravioli, english peas, and chantrelle mushrooms, and I chose the hamachi with charred pineapple. Of course we tried each other’s selections. The foie gras was accompanied by these toast points with a hint of orange marmalade. It was the perfect pairing with the smooth and buttery foie gras! Presentation wise Suella’s was the prettiest and in the satisfaction department, it did not disappoint. My hamachi was so fresh and with the sweet tartness of the pineapple, it was perfection!

For our entree, Sean went with the Maine lobster with english peas, heirloom carrots. Suella had the John Dory with pork belly and leek fondue. I had difficulty picking between the salmon with cardoon and white bean terrine and prosciutto and the halibut with Artichoke, Fennel, Saffron Fumet. Ultimately I decided on the former. Again, we sampled each other’s entrees and of the three, my favorite was Sean’s fare. The lobster was perfectly cooked and the vegetables complimented it sublimely.

The last course was dessert and again it was tough to pick! As it turns out, there were six selections and we ended up ordering the odd numbered items, because we are such an odd bunch! Anyway, Sean found himself gravitating to the carmel soufflé. Suella’s interest was piqued by the citrus parfait with lemon curd and orange ganache. And I selected the dark chocolate pear tart with almond custard and honey ice cream. I liked mine but wasn’t terribly thrilled by it. I would have liked more crust on my tart and the pear was the obvious focal point in that dessert. On this round the winner goes to Suella because, as per our server, this one was actually the most “chocolate-y” on the list. And that chocolate went so well with all the citrus notes in the dessert.

In the end were happy to have selected the three courses, not only because of the amazing food, but because we were absolutely stuffed! Aqua proves that fine dining can be satisfying! Definitely a keeper!



AQUA

252 California St
(between Front St & Battery St)
San Francisco, CA 94111

Website | Reservations | (415) 956-9662 

Stuffed Cabbage


The other day I had a free afternoon so I pulled out one of my slow recipes.  These are the recipes I make with my favorite music playing, the birds on my shoulder, and I have plenty of time to enjoy the process of cooking.  Now usually these recipes tend to be on the fattening side, but this is an exception.  I found the original recipe on Weight Watchers, but I have modified it quite a bit.  For one thing, their recipe only made four servings.  Well, if I am going to spend an hour preparing something I am certainly going to make sure it serves more than four!  My version makes about nine or ten servings.

The first time I made this recipe it just made me mad because it really does take a long time to prepare and I couldn't figure out how to roll the cabbage.  Then finally I figured out the secret.  TIME.  Just give yourself time to do it.  Get your favorite music going; maybe a glass of wine; and enjoy the process.  This can be a very relaxing dish to make if you let it.  This dish is totally worth it and and you will also have a new-found respect for ladies that make lumpia or pot stickers!


Ingredients
  • 1 head Chinese cabbage, (see picture)
  • 1pound uncooked lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs 
  • 2 medium carrots, grated 
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped 
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp table salt 
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 - 29 oz canned diced tomatoes, with basil, garlic and oregano
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


Instructions
    1. Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
    2. Cut the bottom inch or two off the cabbage and separate the leaves carefully.
    3. Blanche the leave in the boiling water and put in a strainer and set aside.
    4. Combine beef, rice, water, bread crumbs, carrot, onion, garlic, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl; mix well.
    5. Spoon about 1/4 cup of beef mixture near the top of each leaf. 
    6. Fold over the two sides then roll the top over the beef then continue rolling to make loose rolls (rice will expand during cooking so it is important not to roll them too tightly).
    7. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; add rolls and sauté until golden brown on all sides, turning frequently, about 5 minutes.  Do this in batches.
    8. Gently add the rolls to a large stockpot or dutch oven.
    9. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
    10. Reduce heat and cook at least one hour checking pot every 15 minutes or so and stirring to prevent sticking.
    11. Serve in a bowl sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

    About Sean & Joey

    Joey and I are just a couple of guys living in San Francisco. I love cooking and we both like trying new things. Planning our meals is one of our "together" things. I hope you enjoy our blog! - Sean

    Dedication

    This blog is dedicated to the two most important people in my life - my mom, Ernee Jean O'Brien, and my partner Joey Concepcion. They both have showered me with unconditional support and love and have always encouraged me to be myself. I will always miss my mom and I don't know what I would do without Joey.

    Recent Posts



    Take Action