Friday, August 29, 2008

En Sushi - Review

Von Scrumptious' Mom came to visit her, partially out of vacation and if I were to guess, partly because Kirby recently had a birthday. She treated us to a delightful sushi meal at En Sushi. This was the first time I met the foodie's mother, and I can see where Kirby gets her kindness from. If you were ever in a bind, they would do anything for you.
This time, they were kind enough to share a meal with me. Kirby did all the ordering, but I think we have a Crunch Shrimp Roll, a Spider Roll (Soft-Shell Crab), Philadelphia Roll, Yellow tail, Salmon Skin, and Avocado and Eel roll. My favorite by far was the Crunchy Shrimp Roll, but you guy's probably already knew that. I really enjoyed the Philadelphia Roll as I love my sushi with avocado or Cream Cheese or both. The Eel and Avocado was ok, as well as the Salmon Skin. The Yellow tail was a surprise hit for me. I reminded myself, that eating Soft-Shell Crab doesn't do it for me.

I don't know whether it was the atmosphere, or the waiters, or what, but something was severely lacking for me. I loved the company (Kirby, Kirby's Mom, Joe) but I would never rank this place higher than Niko Niko Sushi which is about a block away. I will leave this as an average Sushi place, if you usually find bad places to eat, go here, otherwise be adventurous and try one of the other thousand sushi places in the city.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


One night, I decided to use up the rest of pizza ingredients that I had lying around, so I made Mushroom, Basil, and Goat Cheese Pizza, which I will hopefully blog about soon, meanwhile Yo Soy! came over and made some Vegan Guacamole.

It was basically, my Avocado Salsa recipe, mashed up with a Mortar (Large Bowl), and Pestle (Fork), to a smoother consistency. One of the best things in the world, is the combination of lime juice, cilantro and ripe avocados.

3 Avocado
1 Small ripe tomato
1 small handful of fresh Cilantro, Washed/Chopped
Juice of 2 Limes
a little Salt and Pepper (I prefer Sea Salt or Kosher Salt) to taste

So grab some chips and ripe avocadoes and enjoy this mashed up version of Avocado Salsa!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mango Berry Milkshake

This is a classic quick milkshake.

I love throwing in a blender
2 scoops of Ice Cream
Some cubed Fruit
Splash of Milk
5 Ice Cubes
1/2 cup of Fruit Juice

I used, Vanilla Fudge Twirl Ice Cream, cubed mango, and berries, 1/2 cup combination of Lime and Pineapple Juice

What is your favorite combination?


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yai Fine Thai

Von Scrumptious, was startled one night, by the fact that on some food rating website, probably, there happened to be a cheap Thai restaurant in the top ten of Los Angeles Thai Joints. Better than that, it is located on Vermont, which in my book, is considered East of Vermont (EOV). You bet your bottom dollar we went there that very night.

Yai Fine Thai
A newly renovated restaurant, that is nestled behind Fatburger, in between Rite Aid and Jons Supermarket on Vermont. This is the new local Thai powerhouse for my food group. But plastic diners beware, cash only.

We started off with some Seafood Cakes, a mixture of Crab and other seafoods.
They were pretty good, especially the sweet and slightly spicy dipping sauce. Von Scrumptious ordered Ginger Chicken (the top dish above), which wasn't my favorite but I would definitely eat it. (I am partial to Curries and Pad Thai or See Ew)

I ordered yellow curry I believe (above), which was a little on the warm side. Joe, a Green curry, which at Medium was HOT!!!!, too much for my tongue to handle. It was great reheated, with a little of John David's Pad See Ew (Tofu).
I of course had a Thai Iced Tea, which was great. Since all of the photos were taken on Joe's Iphone, I think he got tired of sending them to me, so no photos of the 4 Iced Teas that were ordered.

I have since returned and tried the Pad Thai, and more Iced Tea, real consistent, and from what I know, authentic Thai cuisine. Hit it up if you are ever EOV in Los Angeles, just beware the heat, they don't play around, I would suggest starting at Mild.


Yai Thai
1627 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Monday, August 25, 2008

Guest Blog: Momma Fran, Green Tomato Sauce

To start off the week, I have a story and recipe from one of my favorite guest bloggers, my Mother. Last time, she left you with a recipe for simple Fried Green Tomatoes. She continues to give you something to do with the unripe tomatoes as she recalled this story and recipe one night.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on The Food Monster, email me at


-The Food MonsterPhoto: Courtesy of

While eating my fried green tomatoes last night, another memory came to mind and since it involves green tomatoes, I thought it might be timely to share. My husband was definitely born a hundred years too late as he was of a pioneering persuasion. To fulfill a dream of his,
off we went to Alaska for one year, and ended up staying six. His ski patrol leader was a real estate agent who described the merits of owning a duplex in a less-than-booming town 13 miles outside of Anchorage.
Attached to one end of this one-story, three-bedroom, concrete block long rectangle, was a two-bedroom, mother-in-law apt; on the other end, a green house.

Since only one day that summer beckoned to us to swim, it was easy to understand why the tomatoes did not ripen. There they sat in the green house, a zillion little green tomatoes hanging on the vines.

Never wasteful with food, I picked them all, the night before the first frost, sometime in the first week in Sept., washed them, quartered them, then froze them. A short time later,
I put them in a very large soup pot and cooked them to make spaghetti sauce, with lots of chopped onions and garlic. I was flabbergasted!! It was the BEST tasting spaghetti sauce I had ever had! So good, that thirty years later I still remember it.

Quarter Green Tomatoes

In a cast iron skillet as the iron is added to one's diet, or non-stick pan if that
is what one uses, Saute:
Several large onions
Many cloves of garlic

Add sauteed onions and garlic to soup kettle along with quartered green tomatoes
and a small can of tomato paste and or tomato sauce

Cook until tomatoes are the consistency of a sauce

Add whatever spices you like in terms of chili powder or fresh chilies
1 TBS Old Bay Seasoning (always kicks any recipe up a notch, especially, turkey soup)

This is the basis of a basic tomato sauce to which one may add whatever
ingredients, protein-wise, one may like for spaghetti recipies, lasagne, chili, buritoes,
chicken, beef or seafood.

There you have it, another great recipe for Green Tomatoes. Thanks again Momma Fran!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Malo - a malo review

My friends and I went to Malo one night for Chips and Margaritas. I was expecting the Mexican restaurants of the East Coast, all you can eat delicious, warm, salty chips, and cheap meals ($5.00-$8.95). What I got, was completely a surprise. The chips, while delicious were charged per basket. They had dry chips, and then chewy chips, which tasted a bit like they had been left in the oil too long. However, they were also delicious.
My housemate Joe got a Margarita or two, I think they were somewhere between $10.00 and $14.00 per glass, and not that great from what I gathered.
I ordered Carnitas ($6.00) and Guacamole ($7.00) for dinner. I was expecting a little bit more guacamole. The Carnitas were average and oh so tiny. The meat on them (pork) was kind of disgusting and poorly cooked, with tons of flavorless fat. The guacamole was super great. That might have been because it was really fresh and good, or because it sat next to my Carnitas. I believe it was because of the fresh Avocados Cilantro, and Olives for a garnish. Next time though, I would rather hit up a Taco Cart. At least there, I can get some kind of service and a refill on water when I am desperate.

I usually leave the contact info and address for a restaurant that I review, but don't bother going, the prices were a bit on the upside and normally that is ok if you get great food in return. This wasn't worth the investment of time or money.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mango Smoothies

We went through a heat spell here in Los Angeles. And by heat spell, I mean, I was more or less unemployed for a week, and had to endure the high 80's while lounging around figuring out more ways to eat fruit.
I found Mangoes on sale for 3/$1 and got about 6. They all seemed to ripen at the same time, so I tortured my house mates with all you can drink Mango Smoothies. Although, I usually varied the recipe every night, here is an approximation and should be a good base for your own Smoothies.
1 Mango, peeled, de-pitted
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Juice of 1 Lime
a drizzle of maple syrup (or 1 tsp of sugar)
16 oz. of water
20-30 cubes of ice

Optional: mint or anything else from yogurt to milk that you want to throw inBlend until Ice is broken up to an acceptable size. If you overblend, it will become frothy and less desirable in my book. We will save that for when we make Mango Foam.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Life's Lemons, make Lemonade

When life hands you a lemon, make Lemonade.Life did just that. I had an audition a few weeks ago, at the Director's house. Long story short, he had a lemon tree that was growing grapefruit-sized lemons and an assistant gave one to me. I brought it home and made lemonade.If you don't know of anybody with a lemon tree or don't have a fruit stand nearby, you can get one from craigslist. A Lemon Tree not a lemon.
Or this one, they are both free just, go get them.

Simple recipe, for simple lemonade.
Juice of Large Lemon
14 oz. of water
2 TBS of cane sugar

Mix water, sugar, and lemon juice until dissolved. You can also heat up half the water with the sugar to make dissolving easier.

Add Ice to chill, and a sprig of mint for garnish.
We had an earthquake awhile back here in Los Angeles. This is an example of what an earthquake can do.
Actually, the reality of it is, this lamp has been tilted for quite some time, luckily no damage occurred in my neighborhood.

Enjoy your lemonade, and remember to take time out for the simple things in life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

El Tepeyac Cafe

I think El Tepeyac, is Spanish for, the journey. Let me tell you a story about a journey and a giant burrito.

Once upon a time in a busy city on the Western side of the Western world, there lived a Monster. He was a nice friendly monster with an appetite that could not be conquered. Day after day, he would search and search for enough food to fill him up.
One day, he heard that a friend who works on a TV show in Culver City, had a stage manager, who drove all the way East of Vermont (EOV), to a little Mexican joint for a burrito big enough to feed the entire Art Department. The monster, knowing he could probably consume the art department of said show, decided this burrito must be big enough for him.
So, one day, the monster and his house mate, got into a car, and drove the 7 miles down to Boyle Heights, to a place called El Tepeyac. They ordered one overpriced Manuel's Chicken Burrito ($19.50), and an overpriced pint of guacamole ($5.50).
The burrito was served in a cardboard box, that comes in a case of 24 water bottles. Granted, the box had an aluminum lining, but still, ridiculous.

The Food Monster, and friend ate and ate for 4 days, and 4 nights, and one more day, until the burrito was all gone.

Guacomole, was terrible this day. There have been great reviews about it, and I will have to try it again just to make sure, but it was really bad this one day. The burrito: It was enormous, I ate on it for about 12 meals, my friend 1. The sour cream, and guacamole inside didn't keep well after the first meal. They put a rather obscene quantity of chicken, rice, and other goodies inside what seemed like an entire pack of flour tortillas. It was smothered in cheese, a cheese sauce, and some sort of red sauce, which was not quite enchilada sauce. The burrito itself, was bigger than a large baby, twins even.

Get down to El Tepeyac, although it is in The Heights, it is well worth it, to experience that massive burrito at least once.

El Tepeyac Cafe
812 North Evergreen Ave
Boyle Heights
(213) 268-1960
and the giant burrito

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Griddle Cafe

A couple of weeks ago, I was treated to breakfast by Lauren's brother while he was out in Los Angeles on business. When he lived in Los Angeles, he had the chance to eat some of the city's best food, so along with a fantastic breakfast, I got a few great recommendations to try out.

We went to one of his breakfast staples. The Griddle Cafe. The place is known for their gigantic buttermilk pancakes, and sometimes they get carried away with sweetness. Nobody will argue with you, if you try to pass off their "A Time to Love" pancakes as a dessert. The description reads, Enter into a world of Wonder with our streusel, butterscotch chip, and caramel filled "Tis the Season" originals... Topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and caramel. (Signed, Sealed, Delivered!)
In order to fully appreciate this pancake, you have to understand what the "Tis the Season" original is. Which just so happens to be, what I ordered.
"Tis the Season", pancakes are... "Our "Good Ol' Fashioned" recipe mixed with our own pumpkin pie filling. Topped with real whipped cream and powdered sugar (Everyday is like a holiday at The Griddle!). The Good Ol' Fashioned just refers to their original buttermilk recipe.

They don't lie, it felt like a holiday when I took a bite of the pumpkin goodness, which not only had real whip cream on top, but some of the pumpkin pie filling as well. It wasn't as sweet as a pumpkin pie in the cake part, which was a welcome relief. Anything that sweet would have been overpowering in bulk.

I got the short stack (2), apparently, you can order a single cake, which by the size (bigger than my head and the plate), would have been enough for two. Lauren's brother and I made it through half of it, as he had his own breakfast to eat.

He ordered an eggwhite omelet which came with fruit, and a side of Griddle Potatoes, which was more like a Potato casserole. The Griddle Potatoes were cooked well, and were great with a dash of salt, ketchup or both. Definitely worth getting. I didn't hear any complaints from his end of the table, which meant we were free to talk about other exciting places to dine and mundane things like the Olympics.

I hear they also have a lunch menu, if that's what you are into. Even though the place is called The Griddle, sometimes you just want lunch food. Even though, I didn't try any of their lunch foods, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be above par (as in better than the norm, which is different when playing golf, where they use par regularly).

Thank you to Lauren's brother for bringing The Griddle and other Los Angles restaurants to my attention, and if you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, swing on by and give it a try.

7916 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90046 (cross street is Fairfax)
(323) 874-0377
Hours: Mon-Fri: 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sat & Sun: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Asian Themed Night Part 3: Sushi, Crab and Crunchy Shrimp Roll

This is the part 3 in a 3 part series from one night of gourmet Asian cuisine.
You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

I always love making Sushi. As a Westerner, an uneducated Westerner at that, I don't know the true definition of Sushi, I refer to it is as Seaweed and rice rolled around something. You could have avocado, cooked or raw seafood, or even fruit, just something inside.

Sashimi, on the other hand, I like to think of, as something similar without seaweed paper. So, maybe a pad of rice, with raw fish as an example. Again, I may be way off base here. But those are the two terms I use and the definitions I have for them. If you know what they truly mean, please enlighten me.

With that, my favorite sushi roll by far is a Crunchy Shrimp Roll. Ever since Lauren and I had a date at Akai Hana in Carrboro, NC, we have been going back, just for the Crunchy Shrimp Roll.
Now, when we go, we order a new roll to try it out, 1 Spicy Tuna Roll, and 2-3 Crunchy Shrimp Rolls. For me, this was what inspired Asian night.

In Part 1, we made the Tempura Shrimp.

To make Sushi, you have to start with Japanese Sticky Rice. I used the recipe from the above link, easy enough. Also, I believe in lieu of the Vinegar, Salt, and Sugar, you can buy something called Seasoned Rice Vinegar, which is pre-combined for you.
Once you have your rice, take your bamboo sushi mat, lay down a sheet of Nori (Seaweed Rolling Paper), and press your rice into a flat layer, leaving 2 inches from the bottom, and about 4 inches from the top.

If you are a beginner keep the rice on top of the paper as you roll, once you have mastered that, you can flip the mat, so the rice is pressed onto the seaweed, and is the middle if it were a sandwich. That way, when you roll it comes out on the outside. It is much harder to cut into pieces, and requires a sharp knife.

We cut up Avocado, Cucumber, Carrots, Celery, we had Crab from a can (sad times), Tempura Shrimp, and Cream Cheese.

Next, add your ingredients in a line, don't overload it. One line per ingredient. Carefully tuck the rice and paper over the inside ingredients and wrap it on itself. All the while, don't let the mat get in the roll. Then with constant pressure, form the roll, and gently pull the mat away from the roll.
Then place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to allow the rice to cool, cut into 8 pieces, and serve with pickled ginger soy sauce, wasabi and chopsticks.

Garnish with some toasted Sesame Seeds.

This last picture has all three pieces from the night. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Asian Themed Night Part 2: Chicken Stir-Fried Rice

This is the part 2 in a 3 part series from one night of gourmet Asian cuisine.
You can find Part 1 here.

One housemate is a picky eater. I shouldn't say that, he actually doesn't try foods he thinks he won't like. That makes him well a little difficult when we have family dinner. It also means, we get another wonderful option to tantalize our taste buds. This was the case for Asian night.

The main ingredients that we were going to use for Sushi involved either crab or shrimp, and Seaweed paper to roll them up in. Difficult housemate, wouldn't try any of the three.The solution. Boiled rice, marinated semi-grilled chicken, and chopped vegetables, all fried up in a wok (skillet, my wok is on the East Coast).Ingredients:

2 TBS of Soy Sauce
2 TBS of Lime Juice
1 TBS of Lemon Juice
2 TBS of Olive oil
2 TBS of Italian Dressing
2 TBS of Rice Vinegar
Splash of Pomegranate Juice
Drizzle of Maple Syrup
Salt and Pepper

1 pound of Chicken Breast, fat removed

Head of Broccoli, washed chopped,
1/2 large white onion diced
1/2 Red Pepper, Chopped

Cube chicken, place chicken and marinade in a bowl, refrigerate for at least an hour.
Cook Rice, while rice is cooking, add a small pad of butter, and 1 TBS of Olive Oil, and 1 TBS of Canola Oil (or some other vegetable oil) and 2 TBS of water to a wok, heat up the oil then add above vegetables.Stir fry until Onions are translucent.
Sear or Grill Chicken.
We have a middle grill part on our stovetop that has recently been repaired. However, There is no drip pan that I am aware of, so I used foil and faux grilled the chicken on the outside, then finished it off in the wok.Add seared chicken, rice and 1 TBS of Soy Sauce, when Chicken is fully cooked and everything is mixed up, serve.

Join me next time as I finish off the series with Handmade Sushi!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Guest Blog: Momma Fran, Fried Green Tomatoes

I am going to interrupt my series on Asian night, to bring you a guest blog post by none other than my mother. Momma Fran as she is known to my peers, could always be heard at athletic events as the one concerned mother yelling, don't you push him Number #22, I have my eyes on you... Also, she has an infectious laugh that can be heard anywhere around Hendersonville. Theater productions seek her out for Dress Rehearsals to give the actors confidence before opening night. More importantly though, she has been a huge inspiration and supporter in my culinary exploits. I think it started with my blueberry muffin stand on the side of the road that my brother and I had, she of course made sure we never burned ourselves or the muffins. So, without further ado, I present to you, Momma Fran in her food blog debut.It is that time of year again--the end of the harvest season is fast approaching and what to do with those tomatoes that keep ripening and ripening?
Of course, pick them before they ripen! I visited a friend last night who has a very healthy garden because she is a worm farmer...but that is another story.
She sent me home with some beautiful green tomatoes when I exclaimed that I had all of the ripe tomatoes I could use without them spoiling.

Everytime I think of fixing fried green tomatoes, the movie version automatically comes to mind. So you might want to fix this recipie for dinner tonight, and watch the movie: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES!!

(The Food Monster: read as Fried Green Tomatoes!!! Mom, loves typing in all caps)

Quantity: one big tomato for each person or several medium-sized ones, having just the faintest blush of pink coloring, cut into 1/4" slices.

(The Food Monster requires several big tomatoes)

Add just enough Olive Oil to cover the bottom of a non-stick or cast iron frying pan. One does not need to use the most expensive Olive Oil for frying.

Plastic sandwich bag with flour --my first choice is whole wheat.

Coat the tomato slice in the flour bag.

Add the oil just prior to placing the flour-coated tomato slices into the pan
(If you prefer butter or a combination of the two, use just enough to keep the tomatoes from sticking, and to get the flavor from the butter, oil, or butter/oil)

(The Food Monster: As an aside, I use the butter/oil, combination when frying an egg, as I think the 100% oil is too overpowering of a flavor for a fried egg)

Gently fry for 3 mins. on each side, turning. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Oh, summer tastes to savor!!

So, there you have it, one of the simpler ways to make Fried Green Tomatoes. I hope you enjoyed this guest blog and are beginning to appreciate where I get my personality from.
Here is a photo taken from my HS graduation, 6 years ago, the resemblance is striking I know. I guess I need to take a more recent photo of Mom and me.

Enjoy the Fried Green Tomatoes and let me know how they turned out!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Asian Themed Night Part 1: Things Tempura

Blogspot has a new gadget, that allows readers to easily get The Food Monster's RSS feed. Just look at the right column.
This is the part 1 in a 3 part series from one night.
Part 2 can be found here.

Things Tempura:Kirby Von Scrumptious and I got together the night before the opening ceremonies for the Olympics to make Sushi. It turned out we made much more than that (I'm only talking food here). All of the food turned out to have an Asain theme to it, and is perfect to eat while watching the Olympics, the NFL, or for a midday snack.
We started with Things Tempura. This started out as Shrimp Tempura, however, we had lots of tempura batter left over and Kirby went to town, therefore, I call it Things Tempura now.

The Tempura batter comes from the easy recipe on the side of a Tempura box. I am not sure where Kirby got this box from, but we had it, so logically, we used it. I was ready to use this site, Shrimp Tempura Recipe before the box. The ingredients looked similar, so give it a read, at least for the helpful hints, especially tip #5 on how to keep the Shrimp from curling while cooking.
We bought pre-cooked shrimp, as they were on sale, and they worked just fine, pre-curled and all. So, we dredged them in the tempura batter, held them in the air for a couple of seconds to drip off excess, and put them right into the hot oil. We tempuraed (is tempura a verb, is there a past tense of said verb?) Shrimp, Carrot sticks, and Broccoli. The Broccoli turned out crispy on the outside, cooked on the inside, the carrot sticks could probably be a little thinner so they aren't a giant crunch stick. The Shrimp, needed just a little bit of Salt and Pepper afterwards. Once golden brown (Adam breaks down the term, "Golden Brown"), they were removed and plated with a simple dipping sauce, made by Kirby.

The dipping sauce:

A splash of Soy Sauce (you don't want to overdo it)
2 TBS of Wasabi Mayonaise
3/4 cup of Rice Vinegar
Small handful of toasted Sesame Seeds (Mitch Hedberg says: What is a Sesame...we never give it a's a street...)Final product, Shrimp Tempura, dipped in the sauce, I believe this is the hand of Kirby's boo, (man friend) Joe. Enjoy!
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