Thanksgiving 2016


I hope everyone enjoyed a very wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and weekend. I am so grateful that I was able to spend so much time with my family and cook this very special meal for everyone.

We have so much to be thankful for with my third niece Adelyn’s first Thanksgiving! My brother had to work but we were able to celebrate with him this weekend for his 30th birthday. There have been so many wonderful celebrations happening that its been so important for me to pause and be grateful for these special opportunities to connect and spread loving kindness with the ones I love and beyond.

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I have so much to be grateful for and I know that gratitude helps me so much in my life to be happy where I am and accepting of what is, while looking towards the changes and strides I want to make going forward. This year cooking was wonderful as always, this is my 7th year of Thanksgiving traditions on Unrivaledkitch and I am so grateful to continue this culinary adventure on my blog. I hope to continue for many years to come and also to continue the holiday season food updates.

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Here is the Thanksgiving menu for 2016.

Honey glazed Ham
Citrus herb brined turkey and turkey breast
Roasted turkey gravy
Mashed potatoes
Marshmallow yams with brown sugar caramel and marshmallow
Sweet lemon cranberry relish
Smashed Yam casserole with cinnamon spice crumble
Beet carpaccio with roasted almonds, arugula, blue cheese, lemon zest and cracked pepper
Roasted mushroom and sausage cornbread kale stuffing
Beef and pork Zucchini, celery and black olive stuffing
Green bean casserole
Roasted Cauliflower and broccoli
Mac N Cheese




Mizumi Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas…. what a crazy, interesting, evocative, and mischievous place to visit. It’s one of my favorite places to people watch and remember why I am where I am now and not where I used to be. Brandon’s grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin live in Summerlin, just outside of Vegas, and we were finally able to take a weekend trip out there to spend time together and with them. We had so much fun with everyone and it was truly the trip we needed to just get away and not work for a few days — both of us are complete workaholics. Spending time away gave me a really great appreciation for everything I do and reminds me that I need to keep my life outside of work a priority as well. Life is too short not to live it fully and enjoy and embrace the present moment.


Brandon and I had a really amazing evening out together and we shared a delicious meal at Mizumi in The Wynn hotel. It is a beautiful Japanese restaurant with a waterside view and an absolutely amazing ambiance. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten at or written about a restaurant of this caliber. It was truly a refreshing breath of air to see this type of service and particular care and attention to detail that Mizumi takes with each plate.
We started with drinks. I had a The Dream (champagne, elderflower liqueur and preserved edible hibiscus) and a Mizumi Cloud (lemongrass, yuzu, gin and ginger liqueur). Both drinks were delicate and flavorful. The slight sweetness of the elderflower liqueur gave the champagne a refreshing flavor. The Mizumi Cloud was sweet, but tart, and gave the gin an enlivening elegance.


We decided to get a selection of hot and cold items instead of ordering sushi rolls.


Shiromi Usuzukuri, thinly sliced white fish (snapper), ponzu, miso flakes, momiji oroshi, scallion oil


Yellowtail Sashimi and Jalapeño Gelée, crispy onion, cilantro oil, ponzu


Robata Platter, sea bass, organic Jidori Chicken, beef tenderloin, shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms


Crispy Brussels Sprouts, toasted almonds, green onion, balsamic soy reduction


Hokkaido snow beef 5 Pieces 2oz Hot Stone

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Seared Foie Gras with Kabocha Puree, Micro Green and Pomegranate Salad, Chestnut Foam Pomegranate-Balsamic Reduction


Kurobuta Katsu Panko Breading, Apple Slaw, Curry Sauce and Tonkatsu sauce


Liquid Lemon-Yuzu Cheesecake, Graham Walnut Streusel, Sour Cherry Compote, Sugared Walnuts, Morello Cherry Sorbet


Mizumi Chocolate Mask, White Chocolate, Hazelnut Dacquiose, Chocolate Mousse, Praline Puffed Rice, Vanilla Ice Cream


Coffee and Espresso


Everything was delicious and presented so well with the descriptions given on each plate. My favorites were the Shiromi Usuzukuri and the Kurobuta Katsu, but everything was really fresh, executed with extreme attention to detail, and the service was impeccable. It was an evening to remember.


Another highlight of the meal was the Hokkaido Snow Beef. This beef is literally melt-in-your-mouth tender. You cook the snow beef table-side on a hot stone, so even when Brandon isn’t working, he’s still cooking on his night off.


This meal was everything that the decadence, details, and drama of Las Vegas could serve up and we were completely satisfied with our whole meal experience. It was truly a memorable dining event and I am so glad I could spend it with such a special person. We were also fortunate to go to see Le Rev at The Wynn after dinner, which was such a wonderful Vegas experience and our first Vegas show.  I am so grateful to have these memories to share.





Maleeya’s 2nd Birthday

My niece just recently turned two on Monday, April 8th. I can’t believe she’s already two! It really goes by fast and I know that’s a very cliché thing to say, but it does. It feels like just yesterday that my sister told me she was having a baby and now Maleeya is just so adventurous, ambitious and remarkable. She truly is an amazing little girl and I feel so fortunate to be able to see her every day and watch her little spirit grow.

Happy Birthday, Monkey! Auntie loves you very much.




So for Maleeya’s birthday we had everyone over to Encino Park for some food, of course, and lots of other fun things for the kids and plenty of catching up for the adults. Some of my sister’s friends brought their little children and we were able to get a little kids yoga session to happen while the adults watched. I’m so grateful to the little ones who decided to participate, even with everyone watching. It’s amazing how fearless young children are. So we had yoga, party favors, a huge Minnie Mouse piñata, cake and lots of food.

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The menu this year was more manageable with my current work load and shortage of time, but still delicious and fun. I’m so glad I got to cook for over 50 of our closest family and friends. I’m so grateful for all the support everyone has shown me through my yoga and my cooking. I’m truly living a dream I could only have actualized with all of your help. Thank you!








Homemade Balsamic Cumin Barbeque Sauce Chicken

Rainbow Pasta Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette, Italian Herbs, Black Olives, Broccoli, Tomatoes and Roasted Peppers

Cobb Salad with Hard boiled Egg, Crispy Bacon, Roasted Garlic Turkey, Tomatoes, Avocado and Blue Cheese over Baby Mixed Greens and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetable Platter

Fruit Platters

My mom prepared our grandma’s special macaroni salad and potato salad, as well as Bachan’s triple-layered Jell-O, which are all family traditions at any event. My boyfriend made delicious pork sliders with jalapeno coleslaw—needless to say, everyone loved them.

We had such a great time celebrating my beautiful niece, Maleeya! I can’t wait for next year. 🙂

These gorgeous photos are courtesy of the wonderful and talented Lyz Cooper, Brandon’s mom is an amazing photographer! Thanks Lyz for capturing such special memories for out family.



Mammoth Lakes 2012

Mammoth Lakes is a place I never tire from visiting. Throughout my life the anticipation of returning to this majestic platform of nature’s daily miracle always carries me through to another year. For as long as I can remember, my dad has visited Mammoth at least once or twice each year. Mammoth Mountain is located in the Eastern Sierras of California, just outside of Bishop and towers at an astounding 11,060 feet above sea level. This mountain is known mostly for its snow sports and winter wonderland activities, but our family has been enjoying the wonders of summer in the wilderness for many years. We don’t camp—we stay in a condo with full amenities including pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, ping pong table, and pool table, so it’s definitely not wilderness all the time.

Lake Mary with View of Mammoth Mountain

 Twin Lakes from above

Twin Lakes from Below

Convict Lake

I’ve always enjoyed fishing. Though I might not be the greatest fisherwoman, I can still show up, cast out and catch some fish, which is what we often do while we are in Mammoth. Aside from this large mountain that most people know about, Mammoth is situated amongst many lakes, ample hiking trails, bike paths and so much scenery that your eyes are sure to find something new each trip.  I never tire of the beauty that unfolds in this stunning place. This year we were caught in a couple of strange thunderstorms, which made for some of the most breath taking and fierce sights I’ve seen in a long time. The claps of thunder and the swells of rain were something we’ve rarely experienced on our trips in the summer and though it may have taken us off the lake and away from the fish, it gave us some much needed relaxation and togetherness.

Lake Mamie

Lake George

I’m so grateful to all my family for being able to show up and be together, even as we grow older and time is scarce. It’s nice to know that we can still come together and remember what it was like to be little kids fishing together and joking around. We are also introducing the next generation of fishing fanatics to the sierras; my niece Maleeya was out around the lakes exploring with fresh eyes and that’s always a beautiful thing to see.  So between fishing with mom and dad, exploring with Granny, Maleeya, my sister, and my brother-in-law, as  well as hiking to unknown waterfall territories with my brother and sister-in-law (check out her blog at for her awesome Mammoth pictures and food photographs), we ate delicious food, enjoyed each other’s company, caught our limit of fish, and had a wonderful time in the mountains.

Sunscreen and set up key to a successful day of fishing

While we were there, I enjoyed packing sandwiches and making dinners and breakfasts for everyone, but we also stopped into our usual places, which are written about in these entries from last year.

On our trip this year we were able to stop by Mammoth Brewing Company: a crowded and vivacious place where people were standing in lines to get a tasting of what they had to offer. The set-up is really quite interesting and I’ve never been to another place quiet like it. The outside looks like a warehouse—you have to keep your eyes out for the place, but most likely there will be people outside.   My sister-in-law, brother, grandma, dad and I all went in for a beer tasting, which was definitely a deal. For $4 you can sample nine beers. They range from all different types of beers (light to dark) and finish with a house-made root beer. If you can make your way up to the bar, you’re greeted by very kind bartenders and can start your tasting. Overall, I really enjoyed the IPA 395, which everyone else thought was pretty rough, but I loved the earthiness of the beer and you could really taste the sage and juniper. So as we sampled we had a lot to choose from, but for the five of us to enjoy an hour of fun for only $20, this was a bargain for Mammoth. You can also purchase growlers and kegs, as well as take home bottles of your favorite beers. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you’re up there, just don’t be in a hurry and relax.



The simple pleasures of the eastern sierras; Mammoth Lakes, CA.

As a young girl, and even now in my twenties, I looked forward to our family vacations in the summer all year long. Three pretty rough, very close in age, small kids: my sister, brother, and I, crammed in the back of a car together with enough belongings to last us on our one to two week trip, was always a tight fit. But even with the five and a half hour ride ahead of us, we were able to survive killing each other every year. I love Mammoth. A lot of people do, but it’s most famous for its ski resorts and snow; during the summer time its beauty is astounding. You don’t ski in the summer, so when people ask me if I went skiing up there and I go in the middle of August, please pardon my backward glance–it happens all the time.

Lake George


Lake Mamie


Twin Lakes


Lake Mary


Horseshoe Lake




Mammoth Lakes is home to some of the most pristine clear blue lakes and creeks, thousands and thousands of tall pine trees and other green beautiful vegetation, and nights of pitch black skies with stars all a flutter, like nowhere else I’ve been. The basin of Mammoth Lakes is home to many smaller and some larger bodies of water. The main lakes accessible by road are Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, Horseshoe Lake, Twin Lakes, and Lake George. These lakes are all beautiful with their own mystery and stories to be told. The lakes are stocked with Rainbow Trout and have some of their own native varities at the depths of the clear waters from the winter’s melted snow. We always go fishing and this year, as with most years, we were very sucessful. We catch usually catch over 40 trout, not to mention the ones we let go, but keep and cook, as well as freeze, fish to bring back to family and friends. Catching fish is not all fun and games; I love fishing, but cleaning fish is another thing. I can clean them and I do clean them, but it’s not my favorite part. My dad so wonderfully decided to let me photograph the steps for cleaning trout. I hope you enjoy the labor that goes into the fish you eat.


Here’s a photo log of how to clean a trout. (please click on the pictures for enlarged photos)




Now that’s fresh fish!

Also, in Mammoth we pay homage to the local eateries that we’ve been frequenting for years on end. Places like Angels, Roberto’s, Giovanni’s, and Shogun are likely stops in town for lunch or dinner.





This American style BBQ house is doing well and very crowded on most days of the week. For a nice BBQ sandwich or a very icy cold beer, this is a good place to go. They serve warm scones with your meal and their shoe string onion rings and house made BBQ sauce are delicious. I had a brisket sandwich that was tender and flavorful. They also have a pretty mean rack of ribs here, but I opted to go with the sandwich.





Mammoth’s answer to Mexican. We always go here. My dad loves Mexican food and I think everyone knows, so do I. We stopped in with the whole gang to have chips and salsa, some margaritas, and a little lunch. I had a chili con carne burrito and my family had a very affordable lunch special consisting of one cheese enchilada and one taco, choice of chicken or beef, with rice and beans for six dollars. My dad always gets the chimichanga here, a fried burrito with all the fixings. Delicious.


This pizza parlor is always packed with kids and families, all getting in a slice of pie. Though rather expensive–most things are in Mammoth–the pizza is hot, scrumptious, and huge. Giovanni’s is home to the Mammoth-size pizza which is an impressive 19-inch pizza that feeds 6 or more. It’s not on the menu anymore but ask for the Meatzza pizza with all the types of meat they have. Order it to go and relax at the cabin with a slice of pizza and a nice movie.


As the mountain has become vastly more popular with tourists many new establishments are up and coming in the area. Supporting local eateries in such rough economic times definitely helps. While we were visiting town didn’t seem to be hurting but we were in mammoth for their music and wine festival.

So between the eating out, fishing, hiking and enjoying the beautiful sunshine and weather, we went swimming and soaked in the hot tub, and of course, I cooked for my family.

Everyone that came up was very excited we brought my little niece on her first vacation and trip to Mammoth. She was so awesome up there; I think she loved it. The altitude and the car ride are rough on kids, but she was great. So my sister, brother-in-law, mom, dad, and grandma all came up and we enjoyed our week together. My sister only stayed with the baby for 3 days because they had to get back and didn’t want to overdo it, but it was still really nice. My uncle, aunt, and cousin joined us for a day on the lake, which was a nice surprise as well. Unfortunately, my brother and sister-in-law couldn’t make it, but we hope the entire family can go up next year.

click for enlarged photos

While in Mammoth, I made scallops with sautéed spinach and bacon, mashed potatoes, tomato and goat cheese salad, roasted artichokes and spinach with flank steak. We enjoyed this on my mom’s birthday, August 14. The next night we enjoyed rosemary and mushroom pork chops with scalloped potatoes and green beans. On another night we had BBQ chicken quarters with mixed green salad. It was very nice to make food for everyone to enjoy all together. High altitude cooking is very interesting because there is less oxygen and atmospheric pressure in the air. The boiling point is only 208 degrees instead of 212 degrees and evaporation of water is therefore faster, so liquids have to be increased for even cooking.



Times flies whenever I’m in Mammoth and before I knew it, we woke up and it was time to go home.


On the way back home we stopped at the famous Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ  for some cheese bread and raisin bread. They have loads of amazing things, from the most extravagant breads to the simple sheepherders. Sandwiches, sweets, drinks, and so many different eats are piled high into this tourist attraction. It’s like a bread Disneyland–you will

definitely wait in line.


We also always stop to buy beef jerky at Mahogany Smoked Meats. This place has some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever tasted. It’s so flavorful and it’s tender, not like those leathery pieces of meat you get at the supermarket in the check out. We always get Sweet and Spicy and my brother and dad like Habanero, which is very spicy. They also sell sausages and smoked bacon and have other meats made into jerky, so ask for a try and stop in to get some. It’s really very tasty.




And just like that, we were back in Los Angeles. I love Mammoth and I love condo life in the Sierras, so skip the snow one time and see for yourself, all the beautiful sites that this area has to offer in the summer sunshine.

Also pictured Convict Lake just outside of Mammoth and Grant Lake in the June Loop.

Convict Lake


Grant Lake





Maleeya, Welcome home Feast, and Nothing Bundt Cakes

My baby niece Maleeya  was born 4/8/11 at 810pm at Kaiser Woodland hills. She is 19.5 inches, 7.2 lb

My sister gave birth naturally and was in labor for over 19 hours, honestly child birth is one of the most traumatic experiences I’ve ever witness and I wasn’t even watching the whole time because I couldn’t it was terrible. Every baby maker out there I put my hat off to you cause there’s no way I could do that.

Maleeya is a precious gift, she’s so beautiful and the Fujitaki family and Mickelson family are so proud and happy to have a healthy baby addition to the family.

Maleeya came home today and we had family and friends over to welcome her. Of course I couldn’t resist making a little welcome home feast for my beautiful niece even though she couldn’t eat it.

I threw together some things that my sister and family would like from what was left in the fridge.


Chicken Katsu, Spam Musubi, Sweet Sesame Miso dressing Salad  with carrots and tomatoes, Fried tofu, tofu with black goma and bonito flakes, macaroni salad, Inari, Mixed vegetable curry and rice

My brother and my sister in law bought some mini bundt cakes from nothing bundt cakes

These cakes are lovely. they really do melt in your mouth. I had the lemon one and it was really yummy, very moist and the sweetness in the frosting is not overwhelming. So if your around one of the shops i’d say to give them a try, something different than the conventional cupcake.

Twitter and Foodbuzz

A tasting… of DineLA

A tasting… of DineLA
Just a little reminder to all the Los Angeles Foodies out there

Please enjoy LA with a tasting menu.


picture property of DINELA website.

I love tasting menu’s…

I even more so loved making tasting menus for people. That was really one of my most cherished and missed moments of being at Cafe Firenze. During that time that i was able to express myself as Executive Chef with my art, taste, and food ingraining the tools and traditions that are so very dear to me with the infinite help of so many amazing people . I was able to show case some of what I knew I could do what I knew I could get away with and what I felt had been for whatever reason oppressed for a long time. I love the process of creating a new menu. Drilling over countless pieces of paper, waiting for that moment when inspiration struck or pushing myself too hard and finally dreaming about just the right combination of things also usually was some time that i was in the walk in freezer and i write down a flavor combination or something that hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. Its such a beautiful creative process.

Customers were so receptive to the food that I created. Tasting menus and weekly specials that were not the typical what do we have to get rid of but instead what was the freshest, seasonal creations i could get my hands on. I still cook this way at home but seeing how they would really light up to the flavor combination, and the process I had explained to them how things came together on the plate. It was one of the most amazing feelings in the world to be able to talk to people and see what they really felt when they saw their plate and the other 6 more after it. I felt as if i could truly paint a meal for each of those people and share in their expereince.

So I invite you, even if you aren’t in a big city or somewhere that is having dineLA. Please once in your life go somewhere you never thought you could afford, try something that was completely outside of what you would of ordered, go with someone who wants to participate in the event, and fully experience a chef of your preference, view of culinary arts.

I’ve spent probably thousands of dollars on tasting menu’s because it teaches me more then i could ever get by reading a cook book. It brings me to life, it shares someones heart with my mind and in return i could have no greater respect and gratitude.

here are a couple of pictures of things I’ve eaten that I’ll always remember… a lot of these are really old…

Grace Salmon Tartar I loved that lotus chip with it everything just melted

Spago Tomato Sorbet  just unbelievable

Nobu oysters… I dream about these oysters…

Tama Tempura some of the best lightest tempura ever and i mean lobster tempura comm’on!

Red O Yellow tail ceviche

If you want to see other pictures of the rest of the food i’ve eatten click on this Fotki link it has pictures of places I’ve eaten.

I wish I had all my Vegas pictures also. Now that’s a food playground.

Can you tell I have a hardcore passion for fish, seafood, and vegetable? haha

I think knowing what you like also helps when ordering dishes if you go somewhere to eat and just sample off the menu. I always get fish when I go out. I think that its truly a spectacular display of beauty, simplicity, and technique. Fresh Seafood daily is one of the things I miss dearly.

I hope one day. I could make a tasting menu for each one of you… I wonder what would be on the menu… If i had a resturant i’d love to do affordable adventurous tasting menu’s. A girl can dream, i’m working on making all these kinds of dreams into one big reality. One day at a time.

I’ll be headed off to The Bazaar tomorrow night with one of my greatest foodie friends of whom I’ve been an acquaintance with since we were in Kindergarten. She went with me to Red O restaurant in Melrose my interpretation of that menu is located here Red O Interpretation
When I get back from The Bazaar which has been somewhere i’ve been wanting to go to for a very long time by Chef Jose Andres I’ll have some pictures of the meal and a little writing on my experience. Everything is about those few experience we can share with someone who understands. Its like a beautiful painting expect this one vanishes and my taste buds get to rip the benefits.

I’d love to hear if anyone has been anywhere amazing. It doesn’t have to be michelin rated or anything like that,  I love all kinds of food from 10 courses to one taco. I’m always looking for places to eat, please share with me as often as possible. I hope to do be able to do the same with you all.

Happy Eating


Twitter or Foodbuzz

Some of my own cooking Theory…

I’ve been cooking a good amount. I mean eating is a priority in my life but cooking is the means to the madness.
I haven’t been motivated to write, seeing as it’s just a medium to which I love to get my food out there, sometimes I just crave the visual satisfaction of pictures and the instant gratification of cooking and serving. I think that’s how I distinguish my true passion for food… a chef normally doesn’t have to explain the small lingering process it kind of comes together in a magical sense of who knows what’s going to happen. Or at least that’s the way I see it.

Sometimes it’s amazing, most of the time you can improve on some part of it… composition, plating, flavor, techniques there’s always something that can make it better. I love that. Though I believe I’m pretty hard on myself for a lot of things sometimes too much, there’s always that drive as a chef to be better to try new things, to create on a new level, as often as possible so that’s where I am right now.

My cooking is about perfecting the favorites, fixing the flourishes, and most of all creating a new experience each time. I used to think all the time about first dining or one night stand dining (a little cruder concept). I know that seems a bit strange but let me explain. I’m an experience junky. I love that first everything. The first time you try something, the first time you do it right, the first time you see something that changes your life, all those firsts are the feelings that I really love, remember, and dream about.

I think adventure in food is missing for lots of people. They eat the same things every day and their comfortable with those things so they just feel like why should you change something that already works. I can’t live like that. I mean I wouldn’t say that I’m not like that either. We all are but part of my process of cooking is about trying to really break you out of those routine habits and expecting that this time your turkey club is going to be a roast turkey dinner. No I don’t think people really think that but I hope you get what I’m saying

I think even if you change small things in the tried and true recipes you never know it could get better if not put it back to the way it was before. I believe that a lot of things should be left alone too all those sentimental foods that people associate with certain things which is what first dining/ one night stand dining encompasses. It’s the belief that dishes are what they are in that instant and some things aren’t duplicated again in your life you just remember them the way they are. I’ve eaten at places where this was just the case. I ordered something and it was so amazing that even if I had it again it was made the same way everything it still would never be that feeling of what it was. It all lends to the experience, the atmosphere, the moment, the company all those outside things are what I believe is a true dining experience. If I was in the company of the best chef in the world and there was no experience I wouldn’t have the best meal of my life. But I could be sitting on a curb eating a tuna melt with my best friend and it could be the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten. That’s why I’ve always loved food. I love the way it brings people together. I used to stand around a group of microwaves eating whatever my line cooks could put together in 3 minutes and we would have some of the best meals ever. They were just that the meals we had together, one night stands.

My theory of food is very long, ever growing, and I think about it all the time. Food is ever changing and that’s what I love about food in general. I’ll never be bored, never have to have the same things, I just need to look outside of my comfort zone like so many others and I can find instant inspiration in so many places. It’s really a beautiful thing.


Here’s some of my visual process and when the writing finally escapes me I’ll have the explanations and recipes hand written with all my love.

Worcestershire and dill shreaded chicken with herb and garlic wild rice topped with balsamic raw zucchini and oven roasted eggplant

Oven roasted Crushed black pepper and Thyme encrusted russet potatoes, with braised honey carrots and Balsamic, brown sugar, red chili rubbed tri tip.

Spiced asian black goma (sesame seed) boneless chicken legs pan fried in katakuriko (Japanese potato starch) served along side Roasted celery, scallion, shredded cabbage and red onion Oyster sauce Rice noodles

Monterrey jack and roasted balsamic vegetable salad over romaine lettuces with fresh made sourdough and smoked paprika croutons

Pineapple orange sweet and sour chicken with roasted peppers and red onions

Thanks for enjoying my randomness

As always thanks to all my LJ buddies for keeping an eye on me.

And Everyone taking a peek from foodbuzz and twitter

Thank you guys! You are all an awesome inspiration



Happy New Year! I can’t believe its almost 5 days in already. Time really does go by fast.

Osechi-Ryori and Kagami mochi

I’ve been taking a break from writing but now it feels like I’m good to go. More focused less tired and have that nice motivation I need.

The new year has a lot in store for me personally, professionally, and all together I feel like lots of awesome things are happening and not just cause its a new year. I don’t really do all the hype that people put on new years, I’ve never been happier and I’m really glad that my food has been coming along so well.

New Years is a huge huge deal for me food wise.

When I was little I used to stay with my Bachan (Bachan is Japanese word for Grandma its my dads mom) from Christmas day till New Years Day. I would get away from my other siblings and mom and dad and just hang out watching Shirley temple movies, japanese tv which i had no idea what was going on, and the sound of music. Along with honing my crafts of sowing, knitting and crocheting. I would eat all kinds of fun Japanese food that was so delicious, home style, and simple. Things i crave all the time. Some of them i explore often cooking them over and over again others I just don’t even want to try, the memory is just good enough for me. But during this time of the year i would wait till new years eve to start getting ready for a big food feast. Mostly watching and remembering i could always smell the wonderful scents of seaweed, dashi, soy sauce, and sweetness of mirin and sake would fill the house. All these strange vegetables would be cut into these strange shapes and marinated and cooked in a wonderful broth. I would peel dikon and carrots and cut them into 5 sided flowers and shave thin strips of this funny looking thin root called gobo to make Kinpira Gobo. We would candie small sardines called tazukri. I would cut small slices of Kamaboko and Bachan would make California roll and chicken Teriyaki. On new years eve Bachan would always hand me a warm bowl of Soba that was in this wonderful broth with Kamaboko and spinach and maybe a little green onion. Toshikoshi soba we would have it before the new year and i would watch the japanese count down on tv. the next morning we would finish preparing the colorful foods together and my family would come to food and to pick me up.

My Bachan will be 88 in July. She is one of the biggest inspiration I have for being a chef and learning whatever i can about food. There is a huge amount of work that goes into making osechi-ryori. Which is the Japanese name for the colorful new years food that is put in jabako tiered containers served for Oshogatsu (new years). So i’ve taken on making most of everything for new years from all the best things i can remember a long with some other items to add my syle to the plate.

I love this tradition it is my very favorite. I worked two days on the food and my Bachan was sick so she couldn’t make it. But my brother sister mom and dad and my brother and sister in law and grandma all came by as well as a couple of my friends to share the day with me. It was a really beautiful time to share with everyone but i missed my Bachan and i was really glad everyone could be together. The next day i packed up the rest of the osechi and took a trip to my Bachans to give her the food i prepared. It was honestly the best feeling I’ve had cooking for anyone in a long time. She was just so proud and happy with what I made and I was really just over joyed to see her smile even though she wasn’t feeling well she seemed so happy.

All the food means something though the meanings are a little blurry to me I know in my heart they bring me closer to my heritage and that’s a wonderful feeling.

This is an extremely sentimental entry for me thank you guys for sharing in it.

Happy New Year again!

toshikoshi soba

Kimpira, Sato shoyu Snow peas, Namasu (pickled carrots and Daikon)

jabako boxes with varying japanese vegetables5 sided carrot, 5 side daikon, kombu (rolled seaweed), takenoko (bamboo shoots), shitake mushrooms, Satoimo(tarro root), Renkon (lotus root) Konnyaku (jellied yam)

Char siu style pork tenderloin, Korokke ground beef and green onion  breaded and fried potato dumplings, and Sweet Soy Ginger New York

Wagashi I didn’t make these they are bought from Mikawaya in Little Tokyo that is flavored and filled sometimes with red beans or white sweet beans. Some of my favorite Japanese confections.

Zōni  this is a japanese soup that’s made from a seasoned dashi and 7 different ingredients for good luck. This Zoni has Kamaboko (pressed fish cake), Kombu (seaweed), 5 sided carrot, shitake mushroom, mochi(glutenous rice cake that’s toasted), sato imo (taro root), rekon (lotus root)

Salmon and Tuna Sashimi, fried shrimp, and  tazukri (candied dried sardies)

Inari (fried tofu skins stuffed with sushi rice) , jabako boxes with varying japanese vegetables dikon, carrot, kombu, shitake mushrooms, Satoimo(tarro root), Renkon (lotus root) Konnyaku, Kimpira, Sato shoyu Snow peas, Namasu (pickled carrots and Daikon)

My mom made dessert

we all had a really good time.

If New Years day is an example for the rest of the year. I’m having a really amazing year to come, I hope you all are as well.

Happy 2011