Unrivaledkitch Tamales 2012

The year flew by and I hope each and everyone of you had a great set of holidays. I’ll be catching up on my blogging in the next week so please stay tuned.  Thank you for your support and a healthy and happy 2013 to you all from my Unrivaledkitch to yours!

I’ve been working on tamales every year around Christmas time for about five years. Tamales are a very traditional Mexican/Spanish dish that involves masa, which is dried corn mixed with fat, broth and spices, filled with meat, sauce and/or cheese and are made in corn husks and then steamed. This year I made around 400 tamales for various family and friends. It was a long process, but very fulfilling. This year I made numerous types ranging from roasted green chile and cheese tamales, tomatillo and roasted chicken, salsa Roja and roasted pork to salsa verde and beef. The process takes many hours of hard work and lots of love, which is why I always love the tradition of making tamales. The broth takes time to develop all the delicious flavors and the ratio of meat to masa is always something that can be worked on.

tamales

I also made pozole for my family for Christmas morning, both chicken and pork. Pozole is a delicious soup that’s made of roasted and slow-simmered parts of pork or chicken and is made with simmered chiles and Mexican corn or hominy. The soup is topped with fresh cabbage, cilantro, green onions, Mexican organo and some red pepper flakes to taste. Everyone always enjoys putting their favorite toppings on their Pozole. It’s something that we all look forward to eating on Christmas morning before we open our presents.

Christmas was a wonderful holiday for our family. Maleeya really did score with Santa—she must have been a really good girl this year. We all can’t wait for next year to see what is in store for us all. I’ve been increasing the number of tamales I make by at least 100 each year, so we’ll see what happens in 2013.

I hope you developed some delicious holiday traditions with your family this holiday season.

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you!

Thank you so much for supporting Unrivaledkitch!

Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Maleeya’s First Birthday Celebration and Catering

My niece, Maleeya, just recently turned one on Easter, which was April 8th, so we decided that it would be a good idea to celebrate Easter with our family, including a small birthday celebration for her and then, the following Sunday, have her huge birthday celebration at the park. First birthdays, and birthdays in general, are a huge deal for the Fujitaki family, so we knew it was going to be a big production to get everything together; naturally, I was in charge of the food. As the number of guests grew and grew as we approached the party date, I knew that I was in for a good weekend full of catering and cooking, which felt nice because I haven’t done a large event in a while, but boy did my body feel it after cooking for 14 hours, not to mention the countless hours in preparation, shopping, organizing and sourcing. Needless to say, I slept a lot the next day and took a completely necessary yoga class to get my aching back and feet back to normal. 
I didn’t have time to make the cakes but these are pretty darn cute!
The final count for Sunday was about 65 people and I think there seemed to be even more people than that. I have no problem making a lot of food for a lot of people, but with space limitations, refrigeration limitations and my new time limitations (aka Yoga Teacher Training), I found myself planning a different sort of menu.  One person cooking for 65 people in a residential kitchen can be a tricky thing, but with a little patience, a lot of intuition, and a calm demeanor, anything can happen.  I want to thank my sister, my parents and our friend Valinda for helping me put the last minute touches on everything and hauling it over to the park. The whole party was such a success with everyone’s help and I’m so grateful to be a part of such an amazing family and extended family and friends. It’s such a beautiful feeling to see how much love is surrounding this amazing little girl and how it shapes and molds her lovely little soul. Happy Birthday Maleeya! Auntie loves you so much.
Menu

Roasted Chicken, Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella and Spinach Basil Pesto Sandwich on Rosemary Garlic Bread
Chinese Spiced Pork Tenderloin (Char Siu) Sandwich on Toasted French Roll with Spicy Asian Mayo, Cucumbers, Pea Shoots and Carrots
Roasted Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Quinoa
Sliced Turkey Pinwheels with Hearts of Romaine and CheeseScallion, Black olive and Celery Potato Salad
Rainbow Pasta Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onion and Colby Jack Tossed in Red Wine Vinaigrette
Orzo Salad with Stripped Beets, Broccoli, Cranberries and Fresh Spinach Tossed in Sherry Vinegar Dressing
Purple Cabbage Coleslaw with Honey, Peanuts, Carrots and Granny Smith Apples
Vegetable Platter And Fruit Platter










Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Follow Your Heart

A delicious grocery and dining establishment, Follow Your Heart adorns the streets of Canoga Park on Sherman Way. Amongst the dollar stores, small antiques marts and other dining establishments is a valley landmark for Vegans and Vegetarians alike. A store unlike many, it’s a one-stop for all types of delicious vegetarian goodness. I’ve loved and frequented this place many times since I found out about it in high school, and it’s still one of my favorite places to go.

The store is set up like any shop with isles of whole grains, cultured enzymes, supplements, and every other type of veggie and health friendly items. Some of my favorite things to pick up there are their bulk items like Nutritional Brewer’s Yeast, interesting tofu products, organic produce and interesting grain flours. If you’re in search of something crazy for a vegan recipe, you’re more than likely to find it here.

Also, besides the great options for taking home and cooking, there is a small diner-style eatery available for dining in and taking out delicious vegan and vegetarian foods. A worldly menu of different styles of food, there is something for everyone here—meat eater or not.

I took my friend Stephanie here one weekend afternoon for a little shopping and beautiful patio dining. It was a gorgeous day for a late afternoon lunch and we indulged in the most delicious of options. I ordered the Spanakopita, which is a Greek pie filled with spinach and cheese and then wrapped in light and flaky wheat phyllo dough. I have to say, it was quite memorable—ever so decadent and cheesy, with delicious ricotta and feta running through the piping hot spinach. The dough was so delicate and delicious and for using wheat dough, you wouldn’t be able to detect the difference.  It was served with a side-salad of Greek-style vegetables, topped with cheese, as well as a mixed green side-salad with tahini-tofu dressing that was fabulously creamy, with no oil in it whatsoever.

I love the different ideas that vegan and vegetarian food can offer; it something I’ve always loved. Stephanie ordered the Nut Burger, a specially prepared vegan burger made in-house and served on wheat bread with a side-salad, carrot chips and a tea, all for about 10 bucks—such a steal. The two of us chatted over new upcoming projects and what inspires us, then headed back in the store for a couple of fun treats. Follow Your Heart is an interesting and honestly delicious and inspiration view of vegetarian and vegan food in the San Fernando Valley.

Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Mammoth Eats: Giovanni’s

As we entered town after the long drive from Los Angeles, we decided we needed to kill a little bit of time before we were able to get into the condo and unload all of our things. So we made our way up to Twin Lakes and saw the first snow falling, before the snow storm started to gain momentum. It was such a beautiful and breathtaking moment to see something that I normally see, but in such a different light. With all the cold browns and harshness of the trees’ leaves swept away by the storm’s cold icicles, the lake lay dormant with a layer of hard ice beginning to form at its surface.  As we threw snowballs at each other and took pictures in the windy cold, we definitely built up an appetite. This was the perfect time to head back into town and warm up.

In a shopping center alongside a Vons grocery store and a movie theater, is a small, tucked away pizza place called Giovanni’s. It serves delicious pizza pies and is home to the Mammoth-sized pizza (19-inches across). My family has enjoyed many fond memories here, all while growing up. When we entered Giovanni’s we were cordially greeted as people coming from skiing and snowboarding quickly filled the establishment. We sat down and decided on a pizza topped with Canadian bacon, sausage and roasted red peppers with thick crust and spicy tomato sauce. Delicious. The crust is crispy and chewy and the sauce has just the right amount of heat. After a couple bites of a small dinner salad, which I have to pair with pizza, and some pepperoncinis and parmesan cheese, we devoured most of the pizza with the premise of leaving a couple of slices for a midnight snack.   Our service was cordial and not overbearing, just like most things in Mammoth. Enjoying delicious pizza and an amazing view of Twin Lakes with my brother and sister-in-law, made for the perfect beginning to our Mammoth trip.

Christmas Tamales and Morning Traditions

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. This whole holiday season has been the most amazing, honest experience I’ve had in a long time. I love Christmas! It truly does bring out the best (and the worst) in people, but I think that it’s not necessarily Christmas that brings about the worst, it’s our misunderstanding of what is really important: togetherness, happiness, tenderness, contentment and compassion. I hope you carry these things with you always, through theses sometimes strenuous times, and into the new beautiful year of 2012.

This year I decided to offer my “tamale services” to my friends and family. I was both lucky and fortunate to share these amazing tasty morsels with others this year. It’s a new tradition that I decided to take on because the prices, quality and distance I had to travel to buy decent tamales, seemed to not be worth the hassle in the last couple of years. I love being able to decide what to put in  my tamales, from the beautiful homemade sauces: slowly simmered broths from roasted bones, vegetables and lots of toasted coriander and cumin, to the freshly braised varieties of meats, roasted chilies and luscious cheese, which all combine to make the perfect melding of flavor and freshness.  This year I exceeded my previous year’s number by over 100, making around 250 tamales of several varieties for friends and family. It was one of those things where I was able to create without recipes, but with just feelings and intuition: my favorite type of cooking.
Here’s a little photo journey of my cooking adventure.

I also made traditional pozole (you can find that recipe here) for my family for Christmas morning and tested out a new idea for menudo; both were a smashing success.  I want to thank my sister and brother-in-law for allowing me to proceed with my madness in our home through all hours of the night and my little niece for bringing a smile to my face even when I was thinking at 4:00 a.m., “What did I get myself into?” But it was all worth it! I hope you put some of your favorite traditions on the plates of your loved ones this joyous season.
Happy holidays to you and yours and a wonderful 2012!
Love Kimberly
Cheer
-Unrivaledkitch

Chicago; Friday The Dog Joint, Navy Pier, Churro Factory, Harry Caray Tavern, The Gage, BuddieGuy

As we got our stuffed together to exit the Belden Stratford Hotel, I looked out to the beautiful view of Lake Michigan with a happy feeling. This was by far one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. I’m very glad that we stayed outside of the city for a portion of our trip because it allowed me to see many things I probably wouldn’t have been able to see or think to go to.

After we checked out of the hotel we had the hotel hold our luggage so that we could do a little last minute site seeing around Lincoln Park. We set down to get a little lunch at the Dog Joint. The place was filled with working class men, locals on their lunch breaks which I always approved of when going out to lunch. This was a local little gem, with many options at a very affordable price for a quick bite. We had our Chicago style Hot Dogs from here. They were very tasty!

 


After lunch I took a quick stroll through the zoo and the conservatory with Michelle because she hadn’t seen it. After that we walked down to Lake Michigan to see the water and take pictures by the shoreline.

After that we went back to pick up our luggage and got in a cab to go to the last of hotel Swissotel in downtown Chicago.

We settled down and then went off to Navy Pier. The pier has so many wonderful touristy things to do there as well as just a gorgeous view of the whole city from the water.  We saw some stained glass, went on the fairs wheel, ate churros smothered in caramel from the Churro factory and had some good local beer Argus Pegasus IPA at Harry Caray Tavern which had the most horrible music ever.

 

So we made our way back to the hotel and I changed and we headed toward Millennium Park to eat at The Gage.

The Gage was filled to the brim when we got to the restaurant but it was cultural mix of people from Chicago and tourists as well. The affair seemed casual and elegant. Everywhere you looked there were people in large groups sharing food and enjoying themselves with good company.

The dining experience here is rather chic. White linens and an extensive wine list are presented to you upon arrival. Our server was very cordial an extremely busy. We looked over the menu and I let Michelle pick things that seemed to shine out to her seeing as I’d already eaten at many lush places. She has an excellent pallet and likes most of the same things I do so we finally decided on

Hot Poached Shrimp Sambal, Sticky Rice, Herb Broth

these shrimp were perfectly poached the sticky rice was actually black rice that I’m very familiar with it has a floral beautiful scent and a brilliant texture that goes well with the delicate flavors of the shrimp. The sambal had a quiet heat to it with a finishing burn that was pleasant and over the top was poured a small amount of very green cilantro broth. A beautiful simple dish.

Gage N-17 “Fondue” Butter Kaase, Brie, Spinach, Toast

This fondue was very rich. Almost border lining too rich but very delicious. I loved the flavor of the kaase which I would akin to a sweet butter rich and a very pleasant melting cheese along with the brie. Came with these delicious long pieces of toasted baguette

Caramelized Lobster Lemon Quinoa, Basil, Chili

Lobster was caramelized in a very sweet almost orange flavored type of mild candying and the texture of its mild cooking process with the crunch of the quinoa and the cooling of the basil was a really beautiful way to express this dish.

Maple Leaf Farms Duck Roasted Breast Duck Confit Tortellini, Roasted baby beets, purslane, goats cheese


Duck breast was cooked almost medium which for me leads to a bit of a chewy texture. We were told it would be medium rare but I think it was slightly over cooked. The flavor was delicious, the small duck confit ravioli were so perfect and small you could barely spot them on the plate. The braised endive gave bitterness so the sweet cherries and beets while the radishes cleansed the pallet.

We finished our bottle of wine and opted to skip dessert, over all this experience was an interesting expression of a chef’s notion.

After dinner we went to see some blues at Buddie Guys and finished our evening with a stroll back to the hotel.

Cheers

Unrivaledkitch

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Shattered Cauliflower Farfalle

Shattered Cauliflower Farfalle with kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and spicy garlic rosemary olive oil

Shattered cauliflower is just boiled cauliflower till it melts off of its stems. I kinda wack it with the back of the knife and it shattered into small pieces. I love names for food.

I love this pasta I made it when I came home from yoga, glanced around the fridge and decided that salad just wasn’t going to do. The oil that goes in this pasta I had on hand because I use it as a very beautiful dip for fresh bread  or brush over crostini which has gotten good feedback so you should use it as well.

This is Vegetarian and can be made vegan if you’d like by just not adding cheese at the end.

I love simple pastas such as these which are not heavy and loaded with sauce because honestly I could eat pasta boiled perfectly al dente with some extra virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper and rock salt for the rest of my life. I’m forever a pasta lover, I really believe I always have been but it’s something I cook naturally and it comes out wonderful.

I’ve made 100′s of pasta dishes I’ll make a million more in my life time. Pasta station at the restaurant was and forever will be my home. Countless water burns and sauce splashes, I miss those times.

This pasta can be made with short or long noodles whichever you prefer. I like farfalle in this because it makes the dish look elegant. I called it shattered cauliflower because I like this pasta to have the cauliflower a little softer then the way I normally eat my vegetables because it kind of melts into the oil and gives it a little sauce. You are more than welcome to cook the cauliflower less or to your liking.

Shattered cauliflower farfalle with kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and spicy garlic rosemary olive oil

Ingredients
½ lb of pasta
¼ to 1/2 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes
About 12- 15 pitted kalamata olives smashed or chopped
6 leaves of basil
2 -3 tablespoons of spicy oil with the garlic and chili flakes
3 tablespoons of pasta water

In a medium sized pot add water and salt to taste bring to a boil

Cut ¼ head to ½ depending on the size of the cauliflower off of the large stems, rinse with water till clean and place inside the boiling water

When it reaches your preferred doneness take out from water reserving water in pot and place cauliflower on paper towel hit it with the back of the knife to break it into small pieces then let dry

Add more water to the pot and bring back to a boil adjust water and use this for boiling the pasta

Cook your pasta as directed for the shape you’d like

To prepare spicy garlic rosemary olive oil

This oil is more than is necessary for the recipe so you can have extra for bread or just store in a jar with lid and can be used for up to a couple of days.
In a small sauce pan place about ¼ cup of good extra virgin olive oil
Add teaspoon of black pepper
1 pinch of salt
1 ½ teaspoons of red chili flake changed on your preference of heat
1 spring of rosemary leaves taken from the stem and minced
2 cloves of garlic sliced
Put oil on very low and add all the ingredients to oil
Heat till oil become fragrant and infused with spice, herbs, and garlic
When oil is done

Take about ½ of it and place it at the bottom of a small sauce pan
Smash pieces of the cauliflower so they become small and then put them in the pan
Sautee till coated with oil and seasoning
Add sundried tomatoes, kalmata olives and chopped basil to the mixture cook till everything is heated through
Then use some of your boiled pasta water about 3 tablespoons to create a little sauce with the cauliflower
Taste for seasoning and adjust black pepper and salt
Toss your pasta in with the cauliflower mixture
If you find it a little dry add a combination of oil and pasta water to create a little more sauce if you’d like
Put on a plate and top with cracked pepper and little Parmesan cheese and basil


Things to remember
:
Pasta is very much about how you cook the noodles, so make sure you keep an eye on it and know how to make pasta the way you like it. Also this doesn’t have a lot of sauce you’re getting a lot of flavor from the oil and the olives and tomatoes but make sure you season things in stages, don’t add too much salt in the beginning because you have the olives in the dish.

Pastas like this you have to have very good olive oil to make so please look into that and I hope you enjoy it.

Variations:

This can be done also by taking the vegetables and just putting them in a bowl marinating the cauliflower in the oil over night. The next day cook the pasta quickly and toss it all together. I would also add fresh arugula a squeeze of lemon at the end and make it into a salad. Fried capers would be good too.

Cheers

Unrivaledkitch
Twitter and Foodbuzz

So tomorrow is the big day for the Online bake sale to aid Japan

The preview with pretty much everything to bid on thetomatotart.com

Bid Bid Bid

Check out the other bloggers and biding tomorrow will start at 6am eastern time

here’s the link to my auction items that I’ll be supporting the cause with!

Dinner… Ricotta, piselli, di pollo cannelloni con pana

Ricotta, piselli, di pollo cannelloni con pana
Ricotta, peas, and chicken filled rolled pasta with cream

This is a super lush fantastic way to have filled pasta.
I used a bunch of crap i had at home
and made is snazzy

Italian my go to under pressure…

So here’s whats inside

3/4 bag frozen peas
1/2 lg container of ricotta cheese
about 1 1/2 cups of grated mozzarella
3 cups of heavy cream
2 chicken breast cut in half
1/2 box of lasagna sheets
about 2 tablespoons of dried parsley
about 2 tablespoons of dried basil
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1/2 white onion minced
1 tablespoon of red chili flake
salt
black cracked pepper

this is what you get when your done

okay here’s the deal kiddies
get a big pot of water boiling away add some salt to it so that you can taste it in the water
preheat oven to 400 degrees
Clean up the chicken breasts so there’s none of that nasty connective chewy stuff on them or fat. Then slice them across the center not down the middle but length wise so you have flat pieces of chicken this will help you to cook the breast more evenly and faster
looking like this

now season the hell out of em
use the basil, parsley onion powder and garlic powder as well as some salt and pepper and get those babies lookin coated but not too much salt there’s enough salt in the cheese and both sides mind you

okay now i always sear my chicken in a pan 1st getting those nice juices locked into that chicken. so you get a real hot pan put enough extra virgin olive oil in the bottom to just coat it a bit. and place the chicken in the pot. you should have 4 pieces don’t crowd the chicken or it will cool the pot down too much and you’ll get white chicken that looks boiled not what you going for.

so you can do 2 at a time if your pots not big enough. Okay good now cook each breast about 3 minutes each side. They should still be kinda raw your gonna put them on a sheet tray or you can use a casserole dish cause your gonna need it anyway. so one less dish and put them in the preheated oven   cook for an additional 5-6 minutes till cooked through out.

I always cook my chicken this way it comes out much more moist. if you have an old ass oven or its not hot enough just make sure your chicken isn’t raw when you take it out.  check the thickest part of the breast, also it doesn’t have to be dry as a bone which most people believe chicken has to be which is disgusting so don’t do that… you want nice tender pieces of chicken so keep to the time table. take the chicken out and let it rest on the counter. the juices should run clear . when the chicken cools down so your fingers can handle it your gonna then shred it. I use two forks with a back and forth movement over the chicken that makes for nice shredded pieces. If you find a part of your chicken you think is still not cooked just throw it in that pan you used and cook it a little more. No harm, no foul…

if you already had chicken from a left over meal this is a good use for it as well just chop it up and use it

your pasta water should be boiling have a bowl with ice water ready along side of it and put the pasta in the water. Cook per instruction about 8-10 minutes and then drain the noodles and put them in the ice water so they don’t get over cooked


Tada noodles

So now the sauce. In the pan you seared the chicken in add just a tiny bit more oil if it seems like there is enough still left in the bottom of the pan to cook the onions in it then you don’t have to add anymore just use the chicken juice to cook the onions. so anyways add the onions to the pot cook till translucent add chili flake. more or less depending on if you like spicy or not. crack some pepper in that bad boy… now add the cream let the sauce simmer so turn down the heat and make sure you stir every once in a while or the cream will bubble over and thats not a nice mess to clean up at all…


oolala panna… this is what the sauce should look like. Its not supposed to be thick like Alfredo its supposed to be just a cooked cream so it should reduce about 1/4 its previous volume…

Now the pea mixture… easy get frozen peas and run them under warm water until they are no longer frozen… add the ricotta and peas together crack some pepper in that bad boy and add about a 1/2 of a cup of mozzarella


and this is what that looks like

So now you got noodles you got chicken cheese and peas

great
put it together

Alrite now to make the cannelloni is the tricky part and i made a video of how to do it but I’m to embarrassed to post it cause i sound like a chipmunk

So you’ll have to envision it
and to help you envision it i’ve made this ms paint horrible diagram hahahahahahaha!


you lay the pasta out flat on a board now take a tablespoon and a half of the pea mixture and place it 2 inches away from  the end of the pasta add a few slices of the shredded chicken on top

then as the picture clearly shows you fold over the pasta so that it covers the filling and do it on both sides till the meet in the middle
Keep going til you make them all and they fit in a 9 13 dish

PS if you aint got time or patience to roll em up just layer the fuck out of it and you’ll be fine

when their all done
add the sauce over the top of the noodles
then add reminder of cheese and if you have left over pea filling and chicken through it on top there too waste not want not


mmmmm

now put it back in the oven for about 15 minutes until the whole thing gets melty and delicious

and looks like this

holy fuck after all that you got yourself a boat load of pasta

get some bread and carb it up my good friends

Veggie it up with broccoli and eggplant or whatever else you’d like
have fun
and eat well…

oh i also figured out what the hell was wrong with me today

I hadn’t been cooking. and its like my crack i have to do it often and a lot of it in order to feel good about myself. :D

Latest Meals


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Chili Roja salsa

re-hydrating peppers


Red Cabbage and sweet white corn chowder

simple yum! Chicken with pan gravy and biscuits roasted carrots and mash

Gnocchi

Marinara

Sunomono

Beef, celery, and scallion wontons,potato croquettes, Chicken Katsu, tofu, white rice, and sunomono

Cheers

Unrivaledkitch