Superfoods = Super-kids

Getting your kid to eat healthy without whining or hearing gagging sounds as soon as they see the color green is a common battle during mealtimes for many families. Winter is an adventurous eater and for the most part will eat her green veggies and fruits, but lately it has been hard for to introduce new foods, especially green colored ones. Whenever I️ can, I️ try to sneak in spinach or zucchini in her foods, and she won’t complain (too much.) I️ tried hiding some kale into her favorite curry dish, but the “rough” texture and “bitter” flavor made my sneaky maneuver very apparent, and the pieces of kale were tossed aside like, well kale… I️ ate them and made grandiose gestures and comments on how yummy it was and that I️ could feel myself getting stronger. My kid wasn’t buying it. I was willing to try anything to get my kids to eat healthy and nutritious, so that they will make good food choices when they get older.

Another mom friend and fellow blogger, Ruby at Westsidemommy gave us an opportunity to try a new frozen spirulina algae by SP2 Superfoods I was ecstatic. This couldn’t have come at a better time for us, I had powdered spirulina before, but never had a flash-frozen kind. SP2 flash freezes their spirulina to maintain the nutritional value and benefits, that can get lost during the drying process.

Spirulina can really be called a superfood, it contains protein; spirulina is 65% protein, vitamin b1, iron, and calcium; 26 times more than milk. If those stats don’t impress you, then I don’t know what will. What impressed me was that my kids actually ATE IT!

I made a smoothie with choke full of antioxidant fruits, and August was all about it. Winter took an obligatory taste, but beyond that…Nada. I was a little defeated, then I had a lightbulb moment; peanut butter and jelly sandwich! No kid can resist one! So I ninja’d a peanut butter and jelly with some spirulina in the jelly. I used their favorite raspberry preserves, and added about a teaspoon in there. It made the jelly a little darker, and Winter was none the wiser. The taste test, I was on bated breath, and when she took the first bite and didn’t make a face. She just did her happy PB&J dance. She questioned it, only after she saw her brother’s face when his jelly stained his face a little green. But it didn’t phase her, because it was the beloved classic sandwich. VICTORY!!

My (ingeniously sneaky) method made my kids one step closer to becoming Super-kids, so does that make me a Super-mom? Maybe. If I keep making smoothies with the SP2 Superfoods’ spirulina, I just might.

SP2Superfood.com

Can you handle the heat?

KILLER NOODLE

The Tsujita noodle family opened their newest KILLER NOODLE shop on Sawtelle earlier this month. We love noodles and I love spicy foods, so it was an easy decision to come and eat here. We went here for lunch on a Saturday, despite being in their grand opening our wait was only 30 minutes. It was a hot day and I was questioning why was I going to torture myself even more so by eating spicy ramen. But then I remembered it’s been scientifically proven that eating piquant foods actually help cool you off, despite it being the opposite thing you’d want to do. 

The decor of the place is super modern and chic, which kind of reminded me of the joke: “what’s black, white and red all over?” There’s large black and white portraits of random people on the walls, which made me wonder who these people are. It’s a pretty cool conversation starter. Along another wall high up, adjacent to the noodle bar are apothecary jars filled with spices and chilies that make their noodles excruciatingly delicious. 

Their menu has three signature styles of ramen: Tokyo-style, which has more of a ground sesame flavor; Downtown-style, that has a more profound sansho (prickly ash pepper) which creates more of a numbing flavor in your mouth; The Original, is a clear broth with a topping of ground pork and tofu with a super generous helping of black pepper. With each style you can choose having the noodles in soup or dry. 

We tried each style of noodles with soup. We opted for The Original for Winter and August with Zero spice. Each of these noodles, you can customize it suit your mood or weather. You can add more MA (prickly ash pepper) to numb your mouth like you’ve just had dental work or LA (red chilies) to give you the burning sensation like you’ve taken up fire-eating. There are also choice of extra add-ons for a nominal cost. So with the choices you have, you could come and eat here every day and have a different combination every time. 

I ordered the Downtown (level 4 in MA and level 3 in LA) and my Sister-in-Law ordered the Tokyo (both level 4.) She’s more of a fiery badass than I am. With each order you can customize even more if add ons, and as much lemon as you like. 

Before I could even take a picture of the kids’ noodles or my SiL, they dug into it. The first sight of my bowl of noodles made me sweat, I thought, “what if I ordered it too spicy?” The bright red, thick soup intended to coat your tongue and mouth, so you can’t escape the heat. I panicked for a millisecond, they sell a yogurt drink to help take away the burn if one was too overzealous in their spiciness eating abilities. So I had a fallback plan if I overestimated myself. (PHEW!)

I tried the soup first and I LOVED it, I was handling the spice ok, but maybe the spiciness builds? I decided to stop slurping my ramen noodles after the third time, when some of the soup nearly missed my eye, I didn’t want writhe in pain around a bunch of strangers and embarrass myself for a rookie mistake. I gingerly ate some noodles and drank more broth and yet no crazy burning sensation, and just when I was confident in my spicy level, it hit me. I instantly began to sweat, my mouth was starting to burn and my lips were feeling tingling, thanks to the MA factor. I was determined to follow through, my SiL said she likes to add lemon juice to mellow out the flavors. I thought it was a little weird, but I gave it a shot. The fresh squeezed lemon juice was my saving grace, it gave it a sweetness that cooled the fire in my mouth. The broth became more addicting, I couldn’t stop. 

Winter’s Original noodles with zero spice was umami incarnate. It was heavenly. Winter & August ate almost 3/4 of an adult serving. They were mad for it. I couldn’t have been more proud. We will definitely be back, and I can’t wait to take my in-laws, they’re the hottest chili heads I have ever met. I am curious to have a sip of their combination of spicy and numb. I will most definitely have to order the yogurt drink after one taste I am sure, but it’ll be worth it. 
KILLER NOODLES Tsujita

2030 Sawtelle Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90025
(424) 293-0474
www.killernoodle.com

From bean to chocolate bar

CHOCXO 
~The ultimate chocolate tour~

I remember my first bit of chocolate; it was nothing like anything I had ever tasted. It was a rich, decadently creamy sweet brown kiss that warmed my soul and melted on my tongue. It danced and tantalized my young taste buds, it possessed my senses in one bite, and I fell in love. Since then, I have considered myself a chocolate fanatic, and you don’t have to ask me twice to try anything with chocolate. So a local chocolate tour? BRING IT!


ChocXo is a local chocolatier in Irvine, CA. It is a relatively new company, and they are known for their small batch and single origin chocolates. They are the only company in SoCal that makes the chocolate from bean to bar. Our tour guide, Brett, is the resident chocolate master. He is the heart and soul of the single origin dark chocolates. His passion for chocolate exudes with every fiber of his being. His knowledge of the whole process of chocolate: from pod to chocolate was thorough and informative. 

The tour was interactive and had a lot of samples to try; we were able to taste every process of chocolate making. We learned that chocolate pods grow on the trunk of trees. We got to shake a dried out chocolate pod and it was like a stemless maracas. It would make for a great baby toy. 


The pod contains a white pulp, we were able to have a small taste of the frozen fruit pulp, it was sweet and slightly tangy. The taste kind of reminded me of a slightly more tangy lychee and the texture was similar to a durian. Winter and August loved it. 

We also got to crack open our own cocoa seed and try a roasted cocoa nib. It was pretty easy to crack open, and the fresh cocoa nib was a lot like eating a roasted coffee bean but a lot less bitter. Winter was daring enough to try and she seemed to like it, but our journey to the chocolate bar she wanted was still further in the chocolate making journey.


The step right before chocolate is made is the grinding process, where the cocoa nibs are ground down to their finest particles creating the chocolate liquor. It has no sugar, and is the purest chocolate you’ll ever taste. Since the liquor looks like melted chocolate, Winter was excited to try it. Her reaction was priceless. 


After the chocolate liquor, we finally got to the liquid chocolate tasting. ChocXo has a wall that pours outs two different types of single origin Ecuadorean chocolate: a 70% Yaguachi dark chocolate and a 72% Camino Verde dark chocolate. Even though only there’s only a two percent difference between the two chocolates, you can really taste the 2% difference. The subtleties are complex, closing your eyes help to hone in on the discreet flavors of a high end chocolate. 


At ChocXO chocolate making is an art form that has to be seen and tasted to appreciate their delicious labor of love. I highly recommend you take this tour and stock up on their chocolates or handmade truffles for the upcoming holidays, or squirrel away some for yourself (I won’t judge.) Or pop in for the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had in your life, I’ve had dreams about it.


ChocXO 

9461 Irvine Center Dr.

Irvine, CA 92618

(949) 825-5781
http://www.chocxo.com

Recipe: Curry Pan

Every meal is a challenge for me, especially if I don’t have a particular craving, or if my husband and/or daughter give me the same answer of, “I don’t know,” when I ask them what they’d like to eat. Actually I lied, Winter always says, “Noodles,” but there’s only so much noodles you can eat before you say, “ok, that’s enough.”

Cooking shows; the rare chance I get to watch something other than the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, or food-related animes are shows I draw inspiration from. This particular time, I was browsing through Facebook and a short video of this amazing anime called, Restaurant from Another World (episode 11), came on. It showed a clip of one of the patrons eating Curry pan. I was hooked, who doesn’t love the crispy, crunchy texture of fried bread with a savory curry to balance out the texture. Crunchy on the outside, soft and mealy on the inside. HEAVEN~~~~

I have never made curry pan before, but browsing through multiple recipes and watching a video of how to make them. It seemed doable for a novice like me. Plus Winter could help me roll out the dough, it’s like playing with clay. So I figured it’s Friday, let’s experiment! I wanted to have the dough to be a little sweeter to balance out the slightly spicy and super savory filling. Here’s the recipe I created:
Japanese deep-fried curry bread

aka

カレーパン
DOUGH INGREDIENTS:
1.5 tsp active dry yeast

1 tbs brown sugar

1/2 tbs granulated sugar

1/4 cup lukewarm warm

2 tbs unsalted butter (melted & cooled)

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup room temperature water

1/4 cup lukewarm milk

2 tbs honey

1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tbs of water

panko (as much as you need)


CURRY INGREDIENTS:
3/4lb ground beef*

1 cup yukon gold potato peeled and diced

1/2 cup carrot peeled and diced

1/2 cup onion diced

1/2 cup lacinato kale diced

1/4 cup frozen spinach 

1 small tomato diced

1 cup water

1 tsp garlic powder 

4 cubes of House Vermont curry roux (HOT)*

1 tbs gelatin grass-fed, organic*

2 tbs water*

ghost chili powder* 

charcoal powder*

In a large pan heat up a little olive oil to coat the pan. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for a couple minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until half the beef is browned. Then add the potatoes, cook until the the beef is all browned. Add the water and bring to a boil, then simmer with a lid on for 10 minutes. 


Turn the heat off, add the kale and the curry roux. Stir until all combined. Turn on the heat to low and simmer the curry until the potatoes are soft, but not mushy. Add the frozen spinach. Bloom the gelatin in water for a few minutes. Then add the gelatin to the curry, mix until combined. Turn off the heat and cool. 


To make the dough activate the yeast in the warm water with the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Let it bloom for 10 minutes. 

Melt the butter and add the salt. Once the yeast blooms; add the honey, lukewarm milk, and room temperature water. 

Add the flour and knead the dough in the bowl until it all combines. Once combined, plop the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes to build the gluten. The dough will become less sticky, and smooth to the touch. Lightly coat the dough with a little bit of olive oil and place into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in an area without a draft and is warm. Like an oven or microwave oven. Let the dough proof for 90 minutes. 


After the dough has its first proof, punch it down and knead again on a lightly floured for 2 minutes. Then oil, wrap and proof the dough again for 60 minutes. Once the dough proofs a second time, roll out the dough into a large ball. Cut the dough into six pieces with a pastry cutter, then cut the dough so you have 12 pieces. Roll the dough pieces into a small ball and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 2” circle. Add about 1.5-2tbs of the curry. (Make sure that the curry is cooled and it is on the drier side. If not, you risk the filling oozing out during the fry process and it will be a splatter-y mess.)



Then pinch the dough pieces to close the circle. Place the pinched ends on a flat surface to seal it, let rest for about a minute. Repeat until all 12 dough pieces are stuffed. 

At this time, if you want to make super spicy curry pans, you can sprinkle the ghost chili powder in the dough. 


Coat the stuffed curry dough balls with the egg wash, then place the egg washed dough into the panko. Then fry in oil that’s been heated to 375 degrees for 2-3 minutes on each side. 



Cool on a wire rack with some brown paper bags and paper towels on the bottom. Try to be patient and wait at least 7-10 minutes, otherwise you’ll burn your mouth. Not that that happened to me or anything. 🤐

I sprinkled on top of the super spicy curry pans with a bit of charcoal powder to differentiate between the regular and spicy. I didn’t want Winter to accidentally eat the wrong ones. 

*You can substitute or exclude these ingredients to make it friendly for your diet. The House Curry roux contains milk products, so if you want this recipe to be vegan, substitute for curry powder and garam masala. I add the gelatin to help the curry firm up during the cooling process and it’s easier to shape the curry into a ball. 

Substitute the meat with whatever you like, ground turkey for a healthier option or diced cauliflower or broccoli for a vegan option.

I found a great article to create a vegan “egg-wash” for frying. Check it out here: Gaper’s block

I hope you enjoy making it! It was fun and not as hard as I thought it was going to be. So get your fry on! 

Oh balls!

WEIRD AND STRANGE EATS VOL II:

Rocky Mountain Oysters aka Bull testicles
Ever since I saw the scene in Funny Farm as a child I wanted a chance to try these elusive deep-fried orchis. I didn’t actively seek them out, nor did I ever mention my desire to try them, but I knew if I ever came across them; I wouldn’t pass up the chance. A part of me was afraid I would chicken out if I saw them. Luckily when I finally did see them on a menu, I was able to eat them with my temerarious family. (Honestly if I were by myself, I would have definitely would have wimped out.)
Last year we went on a road trip during Christmas break, it allowed us to eat some local delicacies. A friend raved about Harris Ranch, she said that it was her favorite steak house. When we planned our road trip, we knew we had to put it on our route. Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant is a great one-stop tourist spot, it has three restaurants all lined up together. Varying from a casual bar to a proper steakhouse. We are at the mid-level family style restaurant, since we were road tripping we weren’t exactly dressed for the fancy steakhouse and traveling with a baby and toddler, meant weren’t the right company for the bar/lounge area. 

We were seated fairly quickly considering it was during the holiday rush. Upon opening the menu and browsing through their appetizers; my eyes locked onto their “oysters.” I got so giddy and ordered them straight away. The waiter asked me if I knew what I was ordering, and I replied, “yes, I have been waiting my whole life to try them.” He chuckled and said, “ok, as long as you know what you’re ordering.”

Winter looking at her Papa to make sure it was safe to eat. 

When they arrived, I was expecting a large fried “baseball,” but instead the testicles were cut into slivers and were bite-size for ease of eating. It came with a cocktail-style sauce that didn’t have the horseradish bite. My first taste was filled with excitement and trepidation; would it taste salty? Like sperm (bleach-y)?
Will it be slimy?! 

I couldn’t turn back now, I had to eat it, both my husband and daughter were looking at me for approval. I dipped it into the sauce, and bit into it. The chewiness took me by surprise, it kind of had the texture of a more chewy calamari with a slight briny flavor. It was tasty! If you served this to people without telling them what it was, people would think they were eating fried calamari. 

Winter took one bite and couldn’t stop eating them. 

Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant is the only place I have seen it served, so if you’re ever in the area drop by and have some bull’s balls or for the timid, their steaks are mighty fine too. 

Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant

24505 W. Dorris Ave.

Coalinga, CA 93210
‭(559) 935-0717‬

“Weird” and strange eats 

My obsession of trying to eat new (or strange) foods didn’t start until I was older, probably not until my mid 20’s. I knew that when I had kids I wanted them to “taste-the-world,” so to speak. Granted when I was growing up, we didn’t have that many ethnic grocery stores; my mom would drive an hour from our town to go to the closest Japanese market to buy her essentials for the week. 

I didn’t try hummus or kim-chi until later in life, more so because it wasn’t readily available in my local grocery store as it is today. I think my children are fortunate enough to be able to try other countries’ cuisines without having to travel so far, these culinary delights are mere blocks away instead of oceans. 

I try to expose Winter to as many flavors, so her palette will be indiscriminate, though she’s not a fan of spicy foods…yet. At the tender age of 3, she has tried and eaten more foods than I would have dared to at her age or even in my teens/20’s. I commend her for her fearlessness in her curiosity of all things gastronomic, so I wanted to have a special place in our blog of the “weird” and “strange” eats of Winter-Hinata and hopefully, August-Yoshinari. 

Volume I:

Winter’s delve in the “strange” eats was when she was a year and a half, and is still her OBSESSION; seriously I can’t say the Japanese word of it without her begging to eat it: Ikura a.k.a. salmon roe. 


She had her inaugural taste was from an ikura donburi (rice bowl) from her Auntie Yan. It was love at first bite, it was the first food she wanted and called by name. Her eyes light up at the mere mention of it. The bright orange mini spheres filled with tantalizing, salty-umami “poptastic” oceanic delights is her crack. At the first burst of one salmon roe, her tongue danced with a flavor that captured her very soul. Any time we go to a Japanese restaurant she always asks for it. 

Since then, we have had her try different foods to test her expanse in flavors, textures & colors. She does not disappoint, it’s not always a success, but we are so proud that she at least tries. 

Marugame Udon


Tonight, we were able to attend the media event for Marugame Udon, a big thank you to WestsideMommy. It is their first location opening in the US; they have 186 stores located in 13 countries and over 770 locations in Japan. The Sawtelle branch is a cafeteria-style with fresh handmade udon is made-to-order. Marugame specializes in Sanuki-style udon; this udon’s birth place is from the Kagawa prefecture in Japan. Sanuki udon’s shape is square-ish with a slightly toothy chew that is undeniably addicting. It is the perfect shape to practice the noodle slurp, it’s a must when enjoying Japanese-style noodles. 


The menu is extensive with traditional to modern udon soups. Winter ordered the Nikutama, beef and soft-boiled egg udon; and I tried their Tonkutsu, a pork broth soup with chashu and ground pork miso udon. We watched our udon being prepared in their open kitchen, where you can watch the chef expertly boil the udon to perfection. The udon prices range $4.50 to $9.50. 

After we received our udon, we walked along a mouthwatering bell curve of fried delights from karaage (Japanese fried chicken) to tempura. They have everything out on display, and it is hard to just pick one. With the prices being less than $2/piece, it’s an amazingly delicious treat you can’t pass up. A final pièce de résistance is their rice bowl station. 


The size is just enough as a decadent treat along with your udon. Winter CANNOT resist with anything that has ikura (salmon roe), so we ordered two small salmon-ikura dons. Their drink station consisted of some fresh squeezed lemonade, fresh juice combinations, and a couple latte (milk, not coffee) based drinks. They, also, have a complimentary toppings center, where they have chopped green onions, tempura crumbs and other sauces for your rice bowls. 

Inside the restaurant there is ample seating: some booths along the walls, tables, a long center table that single purveyors can eat at without taking up a whole table just by themselves. Outside, they have a small patio with some tables and chairs if you would like to dine alfresco. 

The true test is in the taste of the food, and we were impressed. Winter has a love for udon that knows no bounds, so she has a very discerning palette for all things noodle. She learned how to use chopsticks for the sole purpose to eat noodles more efficiently and quickly. 

The udon passed Winter and August’s taste test, they slurped the noodles with such gusto. Winter has taught her brother well, and he has slowly been learning the subtleties of slurping. Even though he is only a year old, he has the technique down pat. I couldn’t be more proud.


We were all stuffed to the brim after our fantastic feast. We bussed our own table and placed our nearly empty bowls to the dirty dish window, which marked the end of our dining experience at Marugame. We can’t recommend this place enough, it’s unlike any udon shop. The staff is very friendly and are eager to please. The restaurant is kid-friendly, which gives it a huge thumbs up for us. We will definitely be frequenting this place, we have found our udon home. 

Marugame Udon

2029 Sawtelle Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90025

(424) 317-2222