Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mmmmm... noodles

Manfriend and I were looking for someplace to have dinner last night.
We were going to get some tacos, but as we drove to the taco place we saw a new ramen house in Torrance Crossroads (Crenshaw at Lomita).
It's called Chabuya.
It was pretty good.
But then again, I like noodles.
So I finally decided to join Yelp and write a review of it.
I may have to do more of that.
Anyway, if you live in the area and you like ramen, give it a shot.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Commence drooling

Before I went to work yesterday I took out some of my favorite cookbooks.
These are the cookbooks that deal with all the fun little bites.
Finger food.
Call them what you want.
They are my favorite things to serve at parties. They are easy to serve and easy to eat for people who are standing or sitting with the plate balanced on their knees.
I only serve full, dinner style food at dinner parties. Usually that would be for a max of eight people.
For larger groups, it has to be appetizers.
Besides, it gives me a chance to experiment. I usually make a few things I have tried before and that I know will work. Then I make some new recipes. That way I might found some new favorites.
And it gives my guests a chance to get all sorts of little tastes.
So I put the books out thinking that it would be fun to start menu planning for the party. It is only a couple of weeks away at this point.
Here is what I came up with so far:

Chevre and mango steak bites
Spinach and smoked gouda puffs
Pastry cups with creamy mushroom and tarragon filling
Asian meatballs with snow peas and hoisin sauce
Roasted asparagus spears wrapped in Serrano ham
Trio of crostini (traditional bruschetta, olive tapenade, chicken liver with sage and lemon)
Tiger shrimp in onion, caper and balsamic splash marinade
Cheese plate with grapes and candied pecans
Chocolate fondue with fruit and pretzels
Mini cream puffs with caramel sauce

Oh yeah, plus plenty of beer, wine and assorted libations.
I know it sounds ambitious. But parts of it I can start working on now. Like the meatballs. I can make those ahead and freeze them. Same with the spinach and gouda puffs.
I can make the mushroom and tarragon filling and pastry cups a couple days ahead and then bake them and fill them the day of the party. I can cook the steak for the chevre and mango bites a couple days ahead. I can get all the various pieces chopped or prepped a day or two out for everything and really just assemble on that day.
I was so excited and in such a mood to cook last night after going through all those recipes.
So I made oatmeal-pecan shortbread. At 11 p.m.
They look pretty good, huh?

Oatmeal-pecan shortbread

2 cups flour
2/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
6 tablespoons sugar
1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix flour, sugar and oats.
Cut in butter. I use my hands. it is messy, but that way I get a good mix.
Mix in pecans.
Mix until it resembles fine crumbs and starts to hold together.
Form mixture into a ball.
On floured surface, roll dough out to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut into rounds (or whatever shape you fancy). I used 1.5 inch scalloped circles.
Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms just start to brown.
cool on wire rack.

This is the first time I made them with the oats and pecans. It is a nice change from plain shortbread.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Turning the tables

So the manfriend and I went all over town Sunday looking at furniture. Turns out he really likes to look at furniture. Yay!

I have been wanting to get a new dining table and chairs for a while now. Years, really.

There was nothing wrong with the old table except I do not like it anymore. It really does not go with the house. It was purchased almost 15 years ago based on the fact that it was dirt cheap.

And with that dirt cheap price tag came rickety chairs.

The wobble, they creak and they have, on at least one occasion, fallen apart while a dinner guest was sitting on one.

So, time for a new set.

Now I don't usually want to spend a ton on furniture. I have cats. Nothing stays pristine for very long.

I looked at the usual places and found nothing.

Then I found a table I liked, but the chairs were no good for me. Plus it was about 6 inches wider than the existing table. I worried that even though it was only 6 inches, it would make the space feel crowded.

It is one large room for living room (including TV and fireplace) and dining area. And the kitchen right there separated by the bar area. So it is a room full of focal points. I did not want to get a table that is too big.

So I ended up doing some more looking Monday. And then I found it.

I went to Crate and Barrel. I was sure they would only have stuff that was way more than I wanted to spend. And they did.

But they also had a simple, pretty table and chairs that will fit nicely in the space. They are a more modern style and the right size. And on the rare occasion I need more table, it extends to seat 8.

So I ordered the table and 6 chairs. It will be flat-pack shipped to my house.

Which means I get to assemble it all. No problem. I've done that stuff in the past and it did help keep the cost down.

It will be delivered next week. Which gives me plenty of time to have it assembled before my party on Jan. 27.

With luck it will even be done by Jan. 20 stamping. Maybe.