No new recipes or food experiments tonight. I'm house/dogsitting for some friends that live out by the Arden Whole Foods (yes, the 'burbs!) this week and this cute little pup here is keeping me company. Since I promised the kidlets that I would make them a batch of fruit leather once apricots came into season I'm doing that tonight. If you're interested in making a batch for yourself it's easy, here's the recipe:  Easy-Peasy Apricot Fruit Leather.

How cute is this mug?
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Hope all of your summers are going well. We just had our first vacation of the summer recently. Mr. S., his kidlets and I joined his family on a nice getaway to Fort Bragg for some camping at MacKerricher State Park. The weather was fantastic-- nice and cool and I did absolutely no cooking while we were gone! To be quite honest- it was kind of nice. It truly was a "vacation. " The kidlets rode their bikes around the campgrounds with their cousins and scoured the beach for sand dollars with their dad while I relaxed and caught up on my leisure reading. By the way, have you read Kathryn Stockett's, "The Help" yet? If not, you should. It's an excellent read. I couldn't put it down.

Anyhow, we're back home now, back to the grind and back to cooking. Did I tell you that Kidlet #2 (Mr. Picky Eater) has seemed to have turned the corner and to some degree is willing to try some new foods? In fact the other night before we took the kidlets to see Cars 2, we had a family dinner together. I made a simple potato side dish (which normally he'd turn his nose at just because it's something new to him) to go with the chicken and he loved it! Color me surprised...and pleased!

Funny thing is I can't get PO'd at him for being a finicky eater because I used to be one myself when I was a kid. In fact, one of Mr. S.'s favorite stories about me is the one about me and my Aunt Eleanor. My dad's the youngest of four from a loud Brooklyn family. His family's always been a "tell-it-like-it-is" bunch, which is probably where I get my penchant for bluntness. Anyhow, I remember as a kid being at my Aunt Eleanor's once for dinner. I didn't like what she was serving up and squeaked out some sort of snotty complaint about the night's menu. Next thing I knew, my aunt was slamming the plate down in front of me and bellowing, "IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, EAT SH*T!!" I kid you not. I remember sitting there stunned initially, then fighting to hold back the tears welling up in my eyes. Somehow I got through the meal and Aunt Eleanor's outburst had it's desired scared the bejesus out of me and I rarely complained at mealtime again. Now I have no plans to scream at a small child at the dinner table, but I do plan on continuing to slowly push the boundaries of Kidlet #2's food comfort zone so that his palate expands over time. I'd hate for him to miss out on the delicacies of the world as an adult because we caved to his tantrums and allowed him to eat hot dogs and Kraft Mac 'N Cheese for dinner. Hopefully his newfound desire to try new food continues.

(Print by HipHeart)

Quick 'N Easy Potatoes


1- 1.5 lbs. small potatoes (I usually buy fingerlings at the farmers' market or TJ's Teeny-Tiny Potatoes)

2 T olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

Sea Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper



- Preheat oven 425 degrees F.

- If using fingerlings cut potatoes in quarters. If using TJ's Teeny Tiny Potatoes, cut potatoes in half.

- Place potatoes in bowl. Toss with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

- Spread potatoes evenly on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkly lightly with thyme.

- Roast for 20-25 minutes then turn sheet and roast for another 20-25 minutes.

- Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss. Serve hot.

* PS This would be an easy recipe to do while camping as well.

"Cheese- milk's leap toward immortality." ~ Clifton Fadiman

I was just reading a great blog post about goats today on LA Fuji Mama (did you know goat is the most widely consumed meat on the planet?) when I remembered that I forgot to post Part II of the cheese making party! At Cate's party in addition to the mozzarella, we also made a big wad of chèvre. It was absolutely scrumptious but would I make it again? Probably not. Unless you have the inside track on some cheap goat's milk, it's not very cost effective. However, I do love using chèvre in recipes, it's delish and gives it some tang that you don't get with using cheeses from cows. Try subbing it in on your pizzas or tarts.

Here's the chèvre recipe that we used at Cate's:



1 gallon pasteurized whole goat's milk

1 gallon direct set chèvre set

cheese making salt

sterile 18" square piece cheese cloth/muslin




- Pour milk into a sterilized 6 quart non-reactive pot.

- Heat milk to 86 degrees or place in sink of hot water to raise temperature.

- Add starter and let sit 5 minutes to re-hydrate. Stir in using an up and down motion without breaking through the surface of the milk.

- Cover and let sit for 12 hours at 72 degrees. (We placed ours on a seed starting mat, but you could fill a cooler with hot water and set it on there or turn your oven on low/then turn it off/then set it in there.)

- When whey is clear or clean break* is achieved, carefully scoop out curds into sieve lined with cheese cloth and tie four corners. Hang and let drain 6-12 hours until desired consistency. The longer it drains the firmer it'll be. (We hung the cheese and cloth off of Cate's patent cheese hanging system AKA "a hanger.")

- Mix in salt. A little bit more whey may drain out after salt is added if cheese is soft.

- Can be stored for a week, maybe a bit more.

* "Clean break" can be done by inserting a sterilized implement into the whey at a 45 degrees angle and lifted through the surface, the curds will appear to 'crack' instead of having a soft yogurt like texture. If it doesn't break easily, let it sit for some more.

During the summertime one of my favorite drinks to whip up for BBQs is sangria. Now mind you, the sangria that I make is no frou-frou lightweight cocktail garnished with some ma'am, it's a knock-you-on-your-butt weapons grade sangria. Sure there's some fruit in it but a good portion of it is made up of red wine which I then I fortify with rum. Anyhow, as of late I've been getting some rager migraines when I drink anything more than a glass of red wine so when I offered to make a batch of sangria to take to a friend's on Thursday night, I decided to dig up an alternate recipe. Something milder, lighter and without red wine. I looked at a few white wine recipes but then came across this gem from Martha Stewart (yep, Old Jailbird Marty). The recipe actually came out really good...sweet but refreshing...I'll probably make it again this summer.

Prosecco Sangria  (Martha Stewart)
Yields About 2 Quarts


1 peach

1 nectarine

3 apricots

5 ounces peach brandy

1 bottle (750 mL) chilled Prosecco, (Italian sparkling wine)

1 cup peach nectar

Superfine sugar (optional)


- In a pitcher, combine peach, nectarine, and apricots, all pitted and cut into wedges.

- Stir in peach brandy; let sit at least 1 hour.

- Stir in Prosecco and peach nectar.

- Add superfine sugar, if desired.

- Serve chilled or over ice.

2215 10th Street, Sacramento, CA 95818. (916) 446-6857.

How do you make a 12 year old grin from ear to ear for less than $3? Take him to Osaka-ya for a sno-cone.

Mr. S. and I found ourselves one Saturday morning recently with only one kidlet in our possession. (Kidlet #2 was at a sleepover.) We decided to pile into the car and take an excursion to the Sac Zoo and perhaps stop off for some frozen yogurt or an ice cream scoop along the way as a treat. When I mentioned Osaka-ya as an option, I got two blank faces staring back at me. Turns out neither Mr. S. nor Kidlet #1 had ever had an opportunity to experience a sno-cone at Osaka-ya before! I was a bit shocked as Osaka-ya is a downtown Sacramento institution. I believe it's been around since the mid-60's. The little mom and pop store on 10th street sells various homemade Japanese confectioneries like mochi and manju and a smattering of dry goods. When the temperature begins to creep up, they open up a walk-up window where you can order ice cream, freezes and the aforementioned delicious sno-cones. The sno-cones here are actually made from shaved ice; so they're soft, flaky and easy to spoon not those hard-as-a-rock mounds that you get at the State Fair or sporting events. There are a rainbow of flavors to choose from and for the more adventurous type, you can get a scoop of ice cream or some azuki beans thrown into the center of your frozen concoction. (Note: the portions are HUGE. We got the smaller size and were still unable to finish.) Anyhow, Kidlet #1 had a blast and has already asked when we can return to Osaka-ya. With the dog days of summer just around the corner, I'm sure we'll find ourselves at their sno-cone window soon enough.
Sacramento has some great restaurants but some of the best dishes I've eaten in town have been at friends' homes. Last weekend Mr. S. was on a trip to Miami with his brother so I accepted invitations to two parties being thrown by friends and went alone. The first was at the Casa de Queso and was being thrown by one of the cutest couples in town, Cary & Jenny, to celebrate the 100 year birthday of their Sacramento bungalow (aka the Casa de Queso). It was a BBQ/potluck so I went simple and made some of my carmelized onion-goat cheese tartlets. The food that everyone brought was delicious and I hope to share Cary's Chile Colorado recipe in a future post. It was so good, I went back for seconds!

The second party I attended was being thrown by my friend Melanie, who's a sweetheart and quite hilarious. The party was touted as a "Gourmet Ghetto" party and the idea was to bring a non-fancy "ghetto" dish and gourmet it up. I showed up over a hour late but was still able to taste several of the dishes. It was quite the creative spread. For my contribution, I decided to make smoked salmon deviled eggs using a recipe I found on The Red Spoon.The recipe is listed below:

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs  (Adapted from Fine Cooking)
Yield 24


12 large hard-cooked eggs

6 ounces cold smoked salmon, finely diced (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup chives, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish

1/4 cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons red onion, finely minced

4 tablespoons capers, rinsed and finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Ground black pepper


- Peel and halve the cooked eggs lengthwise.

- Scoop out the yolk and crumble them into a medium sized bowl.

- Add the salmon, chives, mayonnaise, onion, capers, lemon juice, lemon zest and a few good grinds of pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon).

- Stir until well combined, if too dry add 1 tablespoon of mayo at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

- Mound the filling into the cavity of the egg whites.

- Garnish with chives and several grinds of black pepper.
It's been Baby Week here at Girl and Her Fork. Visited with Misa & Baby Eri on the patio of Pangaea Cafe on Monday. Brought a cherry-almond clafoutis to Amy & Baby Enza yesterday. And today is a double whammy- I get to see new momma Carren with Baby Oliver (I'm baking some fresh spanakopita to bring over to her family) and Mr. S. and I are stopping by this evening to drop off some homemade jams to Cousin Sarah and newborn Baby Jane.

The Gerber Baby, created in 1928.
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"Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon."
~Doug Larson

Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up early all bright eyed bushy tailed and rarin' to go? Me neither...just kidding! Usually I'm crabby in the morning and the promise of a fresh cup of coffee is the only thing that lures me out of my comfy bed; but once in a awhile, I have that rare morning where I'm up at at 'em and this past Sunday was one of those days. I hit up the farmers' market, picked up my homemade jam and even swung by the awesome Mexican mercado by my house-- all before noon! While I was at the farmers' market I ran across some fresh garbanzo beans. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them but I bought them anyway. I was a bit surprised when the vendor handed me a monster-sized bag with the plant, roots, pods and all. I had a fun time though plucking them off the plant and then shelling the pods. It one of those activities that's simultaneously tedious and relaxing. All I was missing was a rocking chair for the porch.

Come Monday night, Mr. S. and I decided to grill up some fresh swordfish that we had procured from the Nugget in West Sac. We served it up with some delectable truffle butter, basmalti rice and some sautéed beet greens. Have you had beet greens before? They're fab! We love them. Kind of like chard but a tad sweeter and super easy to cook. Anyhow, I wanted to serve up the fresh garbanzos but wasn't quite sure how I wanted to cook them. On the web, I found suggestions for eating them raw or roasting them in the pod, so I decided to just wing it.

Beet Greens


Greens from 2 bunches of beets

1 T olive oil

1 small sweet onion, diced

Fresh ground pepper & salt, to taste


- Wash the greens in cold water. Tear into 2-3 inch pieces.

- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat

- Add the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Simmer until translucent.

- Add the beet greens. Stir continuously. Cook until wilted.

- Season with salt and pepper.

Feisty Fresh Garbanzo Beans


2 cups fresh garbanzo beans, shelled

1 t or T sriracha, depending on how spicy you'd like it

1 T olive oil

Salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Half a lime


- Boil a pot of water. Once water is at a rolling boil, blanch the beans for about two minutes.

- Remove beans from water. Drain. Then shock the beans in ice water. Drain and dry.

- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet.

- Add blanched beans. Sautée.

- Add sriracha. Stir well.

- Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

- Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top.
John Lennon was once quoted as saying, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Wise man, that John Lennon.  I know that my life always seems to fly by and before I can get a blog post written, I'm off to another activity. So pardon my tardiness but this should have been completed back in late April. Yes, I said late APRIL (hangs head down in shame). What can I say? I've been busy living. ;) 

Anyhow around Easter time, I was singing the blues and my friend Cate took it upon herself to break me out of my funk by graciously inviting me to her family's home and vineyard (Twisted Roots Vineyard) in Lodi. I took her up on her offer and am so glad I did. Her family was so hospitable and friendly, Easter dinner was delicious and look at how beautiful the view from the patio was:

Though we were just a hop, skip and a jump away from Sacramento, it felt like we were much farther away. I relaxed, drank some wonderful wine and came back refreshed. Anyhow, this same awesome friend recently hosted a cheese making night at her own home here in town. Her and my friend Katie allowed us to pick what kind of cheese we wanted to make and assisted us with instructional tips. We made mozzarella, cream cheese and chèvre. (Can you guess which one I made?) Anyhow, all three types turned out outstanding. The chèvre and cream cheese had to sit overnight but the mozzarella was pretty much devoured while we hung out afterwards. It was a night of giggles, chatter and cheesy goodness (sorry, I couldn't resist!).

Can't wait until the next party!
[The mozzarella recipe we used is posted below. Stayed tuned for the chèvre recipe in a follow-up post.]

30 Minute Mozzarella (recipe by Ricki Carroll, New England Cheesemaking Supply Company)


-A 6 to 8 quart stainless steel pot. Aluminum or cast iron will not work.

-A stainless steel or strong plastic slotted spoon.

-A two quart microwave safe mixing bowl

-Measuring spoons

-A thermometer which will clearly read between 80 - 120 degrees F.


The Milk:

Make sure the milk you use for this cheese is NOT ULTRA-PASTEURIZED. Homogenized milk will work fine. Fresh farm milk will also work well but we encourage you to try with 1 gallon of store bought whole milk first. Low fat milk will work but the cheese will be drier and less flavorful.

1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

1/4 tab or teaspoon rennet


- Crush 1/4 tablet of rennet and dissolve it in 1/4 cup of cool unchlorinated water and set aside to use later.

- Add 1.5 tsp. of citric acid (diluted in 1 cup cool water) to 1 gallon of cold milk and stir well. (Add the citric acid solution to the empty cold pot.)

- Now pour cold milk into your pot quite quickly to mix well with the citric acid . This will bring the milk to the proper acidity to stretch well later. Next heat this milk to 90F. As you approach 90F you may notice your milk beginning to curdle slightly due to acidity and temp.
* NOTE: if you're having problems with milk forming a proper curd you may need to increase this temp to 95 or even 100F.

- At 90F, remove the pot from the burner and slowly add your rennet (which you prepared in the previous step) to the milk and stir in a top to bottom motion for approx. 30 seconds, then stop. Cover the pot and leave it undisturbed for 5 minutes.

- Check the curd, it will look like custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey. If it's too soft or the whey is milky, let it set for a few more minutes.

- Now cut the curd into 1 inch squares with a knife that reaches the bottom of the pot. If a drier cheese is desired, carefully cut and stir this curd to release more whey.

- Place the pot back on the stove and heat to 105F, while slowly stirring the curds with your ladle. (If you will be stretching the curds in a hot water bath then heat to 110F in this step.)

- Take the pot off the burner and continue slowly stirring for 2-5 minutes. (More time will make a firmer cheese)

- Then scoop the curds with a slotted spoon into a heat proof bowl to be used in the microwave. (If the curd is too soft at this point let sit for another minute or so)

- You will now press this curd gently with your hand, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve this whey to use in cooking. (We used gauze as a filter for this portion)

- Next microwave the curd on high for 1 minute. You will notice more whey has run out of the curd. Drain off all the whey as you did before. Quickly work the cheese with a spoon or your hands until it is cool enough to touch (rubber gloves will help since the cheese is almost too hot to touch at this point)

- Microwave 2 more times for 35 seconds each and repeat the kneading as in the last step. Drain all of the whey off as you go.

- Knead quickly now as you would bread dough until it is smooth and shiny. Add salt near the finish.

- At this point the cheese should be soft and pliable enough to stretch like taffy. It is ready to eat when it cools.

- Form it into a ball and drop it into ice water to cool and refrigerate.

- When cold, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and it will last for several days but it's best when eaten fresh.



"Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer." 
~ Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)

863 Arden Way, Sacramento, CA 95816. (916) 641-8226.

Mmmm, tacos! Tacos are one of my favorite foods--when done right. Trust me they can be done wrong- poor tortilla to filling proportions, bastardized BBQ-ing of the meat or the ultimate-- food poisoning (yep, it's happened to me before folks). So when I started hearing all the initial chatter about Chando's Tacos, I wasn't too quick to get my hopes up. However, when numerous friends started hyping it and even my own neighborhood mailman started extolling the virtues of Chando's I figured it sounded like a solid choice and that it was time to trek out there and check it out. So for one of our date nights, Mr. S. and I headed to Chando's.

Lisandro Madrigal's family-owned business is a small well-kept, cheery-colored taqueria on Arden Way in the midst of several industrial buildings and across from the Old Lumberjack. Look for the giant BBQ outside with smoke and delicious smells wafting from can't miss it. Orders are placed at the window on the right and picked up at the window at the left. The staff was extremely friendly and I loved chatting with the older gentleman running the grill as we waited for our order; although, I kept thinking, "Grill faster! Grill FASTER!!" (Sorry but my stomach was grumbling and I was starving...almost like a "zombie-eat-your-brains" kind of hungry.) Both Mr. S. and I had decided to go with the three taco combo that came with a drink for $6. With the combo you can mix and match the street tacos. We tried the fish, steak carne asada, pork adobada and the grilled chicken tacos. ¡Ay, caramba! They were all amazing! The charbroiled steak carne asada was cooked flawlessly and was extremely juicy. The pork adobada, which they cook upright on a rotisserie slowly, is succulent and seemed to denote a subtle pineapple flavor. The chicken tacos were cooked in achiote, super moist and sported a nice citrus tang. But our favorite was the fish tacos...tilapia marinated in a homemade citrus juice sauce and then thrown onto the grill to sizzle--it was wonderful. I'm used to fish tacos being made from fish that's a bit denser like mahi mahi or halibut but Chando's makes the tilapia work perfectly. Although we didn't get a chance to try the other tacos, it looks like Chando's offers veggie, lengua, buche, birria (from beef, not the traditional goat) and pork carnitas. Tacos aren't the only thing on the menu though, Chando's also rocks some terrific tortas, burritos and yes!--mulitas. By the way, word has it that Chando's is working on bringing all of these scrumptious eats to the Grid via food truck soon (fingers crossed). In the meantime they do some catering in addition to running the modest little taco shop.

So now that the dog days of summer are encroaching, take the short jaunt to Chando's. It's the perfect place to meet up with friends - you can indulge in some cheap but tasty eats and knock back a horchata all while relaxing to some festive (salsa?) música on the outdoor patio.

It's springtime and despite the odd weather Sacramento's been experiencing love is in the air and weddings are afoot. Mr. S. and I had the opportunity to attend the exchanging of nuptials of some wonderful friends on Saturday up in Forest Hill. The couple rolled with Mother Nature's punches and had to move the outdoor ceremony indoors at the rustic Forest House Lodge but everything still came together perfectly. The bride looked beautiful, the decorations were whimsical but tasteful and the guests had a great time. Now this wouldn't be a food blog if I didn't comment on the food, right? The food served at the sit-down dinner was good, but what caught my eye was the various inventive touches that the happy couple had taken the time to incorporate into their wedding day: the personalized wedding cake topper (looked just like the bride and groom), a delicious mashed potato bar in the lobby, tasty street tacos in the bar area and an enormous homemade cookie buffet (about a dozen large glass jars ranging from snickerdoodle to gluten-free) in the sitting room. Now I will admit that Mr. S. and I did get reprimanded (albeit it good-naturedly) by the groom for sneaking a cookie pre-ceremony; turns out they were supposed to be taken home as party favors. However I will point out in my defense, as we were being sat for dinner I noticed most of the jars had been ravaged, so we weren't the only cookie bandits on the guest list. :) And yes, we can now answer that age old sing-songy question, "Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"  "Ally did...Ally stole the cookie from the cookie jar!" (And that snickerdoodle cookie was so chewy and delish-- that I'd do it again.)

(before the cookie pillaging began)

~ Mazel Tov to the Newlyweds! ~

"The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star."
~Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

6227 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento, CA, 95824. (916) 424-5550

While zig-zagging back and forth down Franklin Blvd to shop at the South Sac Mexican mercados and the Asian supermarkets a few weeks ago, a small restaurant caught the corner of my eye. There was no flashy signage or ornate entrance. There was simply a sign that read, "Laos Kitchen," between a liquor mart and a tiny Laotian meat store. Now I like to think that I've dabbled in more cuisine types than the average Joe, but unfortunately I'd never had the opportunity to check out Laotian food. The unassuming sign and plain-Jane storefront intrigued me immensely . Nothing ventured, nothing gained -- right? Lucky for me, I have friends that are adventurous eaters and I was able to convince one to do a little culinary exploring with me. We decided to pop in during a weekday lunch. I tried to do a little food recon prior to my lunch date but it seemed that most people I knew were not too familiar with Laotian cooking or described it in terms that made it sound akin to being the redheaded stepchild of Vietnamese cuisine.

We found our way into a quiet, non-descript dining room during what should have been the rush hour at lunch. Instead we found a few slightly nefarious looking characters focused on slurping noodles, several empty booths and one friendly waitress. The menu was simple and we took heed of the waitress' warning that the cook was heavy-handed when it came to making dishes spicy. We decided to with the Thum Muk Hoong papaya salad, Laotian sausage, kapoon and a side order of sticky rice. The papaya salad consisted of a giant mound of slivered unripened papaya, sliced tomatoes, peanuts and bean sprouts served over rice noodles and seasoned with spicy chilis and fish sauce...a lot of fish sauce. Just a heads up, the fish sauce in this case was highly pungent; the strong taste hits you like a train but then the flavor segues into a nice spicy burn. The Laotian sausage was plump and juicy with the perfect amount of coarse fat encased in a nice snappy casing. It paired well with the house chili dipping sauce. The showstopper though was the hefty bowl of steaming Khao Poon (pronounced "ka-poon") that the waitress set before us. We ordered a medium and it was more than enough for two people. The soup base consisted of a fragrant blend of red curry and coconut milk. From this delicious foundation a cornucopia of herbs were added- lemongrass, basil, galangal, mint and cilantro to name a few. When I tilted my face over the bowl and inhaled, it was a bit like getting an aromatherapy facial. A few of the other menu items that the restaurant offers are Laap, Khao Soi, stuffed chicken wings, Laotian beef jerky and Khao Piak. (The menu definitely lends itself to being heavy on the noodle and soup dishes.) Some items are limited to availability on certain days of the week.

Overall, the portion sizes at Laos Kitchen were plentiful and I really enjoyed the Khao Poon and the sausage. I'll definitely be repeating those items on a future visit. The papaya salad, with it's strong flavors, I think is more of an acquired taste and probably won't make the rotation for me (my lips were numb from the spiciness...and we got the mild!) The meal, on the whole, was good and the visit was a nice opportunity to try some traditional Laotian fare. The restaurant has only been open for roughly a little over two months and is still trying to find it's groove but it seems to be finding it's footing quickly. Currently, it is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and is a cash-only establishment. If you're in the neighborhood, give it a try!


( photo from the )

Mr. S. looooves fish tacos. I kid you not, hand him a nice grilled fish taco and he'll think you're the bee's knees. Last week we made some quick ones from tilapia and topped it with this Spicy Sriracha Mayo Sauce I stumbled upon on White On Rice Couple's food blog. It's super easy to make and quite versatile- you can throw a dollop on a burrito, slather it on a burger or use for simply dipping crisp fries or fresh veggies in.

Spicy Sriracha Mayo Sauce


3 Tablespoons mayo

1 Tablespoons Huy Fong's Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (I like to mix it up sometimes and sub in the Huy Fong's Chili-Garlic Sauce)

1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1. In bowl, combine ingredients until smooth.

2. Use as dip or spread for your favorite dishes.

1757 W Carson Street, Ste A. Torrance, CA 90501. (310) 781-9407.

When I look back on my early twenties, I remember the late nights at local watering holes like Benny's, Zebra and Pine Cove. My liver can't take the onslaught of beer, Patron shots and countless glasses of Jack on the rocks anymore. These days it's more like a glass or two of wine or maybe a glass of Chimay. Anyhow, the one gripe I repeatedly had with the bar hopping back in the day was that there wasn't really any places to grab a bite afterwards besides joints like Lyon's or Del Taco. I always thought Sacramento could use a late night yakitori/ kushiyaki stand. Yep, that's my brilliant idea. In Japan, these stands blaze their lights well into the night feeding the masses of bar revelers. For a few hundred yen, you can buy yourself a couple of skewers of grilled chicken thighs, livers or hearts to placate your drunken munchie cravings. It's so delicious...seriously, there's something about food on a stick at 2:30 in the morning that rivals sheer nirvana.

Anyhow, while I was in LA recently my friend Mayumi and I decided to hit up the popular Torihei in Torrance before going to spend a relaxing evening at a newly opened onsen (bath house). Torihei only seats about 30 patrons and upon our arrival was packed (which is the norm from what I hear), but luckily my dining companion had had the foresight to call ahead and make a reservation. Within minutes, we got to bypass the long line snaking out the door and take a seat at the busy counter where we were front and center to all the grilling action. Deciding what to order was a bit more difficult...there were several yakitori and kushiyaki choices, some sashimi, oden and izakaya fare. Dishes are prepared in a tapa-esque manner so Mayumi and I decided to order several and share. Since we would be hitting the hot baths at the onsen post-dinner we decided to forget the alcohol, but Torihei does carry a  nice selection of sake, beer, wine and shoju.  The service was a bit erratic (this may or may not have had to do with the fact that the staff was dealing with a dine and dash situation while we were there). The first two dishes were brought out quickly but the others seemed to come after what felt like an eternity. In fact, our waitress completely forgot to bring out the last two dishes and after an awkward amount of time had passed, we inquired about the MIA dishes. The situation was quickly righted. The pate was smooth and the honey, which I wasn't sure would pair well, actually complemented it nicely. The oden egg was creamy without being slimy and the roe added a wonderful contrast as it burst on my tongue. The tin foil squid was tender and buttery. The much lauded jidori chicken was perfectly grilled. We alternated between seasoning the skewers of chicken parts with sansho, shichimi togarashi and Yuzu-It sauce. In fact, I got a bit addicted to the Yuzu-It sauce and bought some when I got back to Sac (if you haven't had it, you can pick some up at Oto's). The liver was absolutely divine...dense with just a hint of metallic taste. I could have eaten a dozen skewers of the liver alone, I love the stuff. We also ordered one of my favorite Japanese dishes- shishamo (grilled smelt). The fish was nice and crispy with the charred edges that I like. In fact almost every dish was delish...the only dish I didn't care for much was the Torihei meatballs (tsukune), I'm a texture person and the tiny bits of cartilage mixed in with the ground chicken turned me off. Regardless, we were stuffed to the gills at the end of our meal and to my surprise our bill was quite reasonable. If I lived in the area, I'm sure I'd be a frequent customer. So Sacramento, how about it? We need another sushi bar or burrito shack like we need a hole in our head; how about opening up a nice yakitori joint for some late night grinds?


Remember awhile back when I posted about the film, Forks Over Knives? Well it looks like they've gotten a slew of great reviews and have now added a showing for Sacramento. It'll be at the Crest, starting July 1. Put it on your calendar so that you remember to get your tuckus over there.
"Slicing a warm slab of bacon is a lot like giving a ferret a shave. No matter how careful you are, somebody's going to get hurt."  -Alton Brown

So for those of you have been keeping up with the blog, you probably remember me mentioning in a previous post that I stuffed my face with bacon trail mix at a recent BBQ. C'mon, like you wouldn't! Well, I'll have you know I wasn't the only one scarfing down this delectable treat. Quite honestly, I'm surprised there wasn't a brawl over the stuff. It was damn good.

Anyhow at the persistent urging (ok, ok I didn't need much urging) of Mr. S. and the kidlets, I decided to try and bake a batch of bacon trail mix earlier this week. I learned two valuable lessons in the course of an hour. 1) When you're cooking bacon, everyone wants to be your best friend (even the dog), 2) Keep an eye on the oven, things can burn to a crisp in mere seconds. I made this recipe at Mr. S.'s on Wednesday night and his oven's a bit more fickle then mine. My first batch of bacon trail mix was slightly...just slightly...overdone. The second batch was however was perfect.

So here's the recipe, give it a go. Just be prepared to beat the masses off with a stick.

Bacon Trail Mix (aka 'Tiki Trail Mix' from Food & Wine)


8 thick slices of meaty bacon

3 cups salted roasted peanuts and cashews

4 candied pineapple rings, cut into 1/3-inch triangles

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey (you might want to add just a skosh more if you like your trail mix a bit more "wet")

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Kosher salt


1.Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Drain on paper towels and cut into 1/2-inch strips.

2.In a bowl, toss the bacon with the peanuts, pineapple, sesame seeds, soy sauce, honey and cayenne. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once, until the bacon is browned. Season the mix with salt and stir occasionally until cool, then serve.

Makes 4-1/2 cups.