Making Kaki (Dried Persimmons) with Bachan

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Persimmons. I love them. I know fall is here when the persimmons are out in farmers’ markets and grocery stores. When I was little, my Bachan’s neighbors had persimmon trees, so we would have a ton of Persimmons, mostly of the Fuyu variety–the crunchy ones. But sometimes we’d even have the Hachiya persimmons,which are best eaten when really soft. The Fuyu Persimmons are one of my favorite fruits, but when we had so many, it was hard to eat them all before they got bad, so my Bachan decided she was going to dry them and that’s what Kaki is. The Japanese word for Persimmon is Kaki. Everyone in our family loves this dried fruit and if you haven’t had it, it’s really something to try, if you can get a hold of any. I’ve yet to see dried Fuyu Persimmons in stores, so you’ll have to make them if you want to see what all this delicious hype is about.

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The process is long and the yield is very small, but they truly are delicious. This year we bought some Fuyu Persimmons and brought them over to Bachan’s house so I could help her get them ready for the dehydrator. This year, Maleeya wanted to help us too, so we did it all together. The process can take my Bachan all day, but with a little help from me, we got about 20 done in an hour. For a 91 year-young lady, she’s pretty amazing with a mandoline.

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Pick hard, bright-orange Fuyu Persimmons without any soft spots. Wash the Fuyu persimmons and peel the outer skin. Remove the stem and cut them in half. Using a mandoline, slice the persimmons to about ⅛ inch thick, so pretty thin. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can slice the  persimmons by hand, but this can affect the drying process if you don’t slice them in uniform slices, so I suggest using a mandoline for this project. Plus, it’s faster, but you do have to be very careful because they are extremely sharp. Use the guard and take your time.

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After the Fuyus are sliced, place them on the dehydrator trays spread out evenly, ensuring that none of them are overlapping or touching. Continue till all the trays are filled. Place them in the dehydrator for about 6 hours or until they are completely dry. Place them in a plastic zip bag and store in a cool dry place.

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You won’t need to store them for long because they are so delicious, they won’t last. And there you have it, Dried Kaki.

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I love these delicious treats and so do my nieces and family. They are truly a Fujitaki tradition and I’m glad we could help Bachan make them this year.

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Cheers,

Unrivaledkitch

Amaya’s First Birthday Party at We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym For All Kids

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A first birthday in my family is nothing to be trifled with. For Amaya’s big day, we had to do something that would keep everyone relatively cool, since August in the San Fernando Valley can get up to 100 degrees or higher. My family has taken Maleeya and Amaya to this amazing play space for a little while now, it’s called We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym and they have so many fun things to play with that allow children of all abilities to come together and be in a very safe and loving super fun space. So my sister decided that we would have Amaya’s Snow White inspired First Birthday at We Rock the Spectrum.
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The decorations were beautiful and the atmosphere was so fun. Between food, jumping on trampolines, zip lining and swinging, the kids enjoyed cake and sang happy birthday to my sweet little leo for her big party. I took some time to make a few apple inspired desserts: little Rice Krispies red apples with graham cracker stems and little green leaves and of course, red candied apples as well as a few caramel ones too. The food was inspired by kids’ favorites so it naturally lent way to finger foods.
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Everyone enjoyed themselves on this beautiful day celebrating this lovely little lady who I can’t believe is already one-year-old! Happy Birthday Amaya, Auntie loves you! I’m so glad I could be with you on your special day.
 
Menu
 
Hot Dog Cornbread Muffins with
 
Turkey Dog Croissants
 
7 Dwarf Layered Bean Dip
 
Fruit Platter and Veggie Platter with Purple Basil
 
Spinach Pinwheels with Hummus and Mortadella
 
Turkey Pinwheels with Cheese
 
Ham Pinwheels with Hummus
 
Mac n Cheese Bites
 
Mac n Cheese with Peas and Carrots  
 
Rice Krispies Treats Red Apples with Graham Cracker Stems
 
Red Candied Apples
 
Caramel Apples

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cheers

Unrivaledkitch

Granny’s 80th Birthday Celebration and Catering

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My grandma is a very special woman. She’s such a loving, kind, strong and wonderful person and we were very happy to host her 80th birthday celebration for all of her friends and family. Granny has always been the talk of the town and never met someone she couldn’t charm or take a photograph of. Her personality is best displayed when she played Choco, the adorable little bear mascot for Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Her dancing and friendly waves along with blowing kisses to all the children, led her to be requested put on the suit well into her late 70s.

My sister, my brother and I spent countless hours with grandma when we were little. We’d get picked up and taken all the way out to Huntington Beach to stay with grandma for the weekend; some of my fondest memories as a little kid are feeding the ducks at the park, eating toast and tea for breakfast and having French bread and string cheese for snacks. I associate a lot of joyful activities with food as you can see. Grandma was never short on hugs and kisses or presents and spoiling and she’s passed down the fun to my little niece Maleeya. Grandma has the biggest heart and the attitude of someone half her age. Believe it or not, she still cruises out to Vegas in her Corolla on a whim and vacations whenever she can, all between traveling back and forth to come to visit all of us (over 100 miles away roundtrip).

Brandon and I put on a very special catering for all the guests and we were very happy with the outcome. Brandon was in charge of pastries and I helped him assemble some of them, while I took on the savory options, which he lent a big hand in helping with as well. My mom was assigned the snacks department and made our family’s favorite macaroni and potato salad, homemade beans for the chili and mini lemon cupcakes. My sister made the beautiful flower arrangements, all the gorgeous decorations and photo collages. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and everyone else helped out so much to make this a beautiful, delicious, smooth event for everyone involved. I’m so glad I have this amazing family to call my own. I want to thank everyone who came, who helped, and who made this amazing event happen.
Happy 80th Birthday, Granny! We all love you so much!
Ruthie’s 80th Birthday Party Menu

Appetizers
Fruit Platter
Vegetable Platter
Chips and Dip

Salads
Macaroni Salad
Potato Salad
Baby Mixed Greens with Shredded Cucumber, Mozzarella Cheese, Diced Tomatoes, Pickled Red Onions and Blue Cheese Dressing

Entrées: Served Family-Style
Roasted Pulled Pork
Country Spiced Fried Chicken
Homemade Chili Beans

Sides
Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Gravy
Peanut Coleslaw with Red and Green Cabbage, Shredded Carrots, Green Onions and Asian Dressing
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Orange Honey Glaze and Marshmallows

Bread Basket
Corn Bread Muffins
Rolls

Dessert Bar
Lemon Meringue Pie
Banana Cream Pudding
Lemon Cupcakes
Cream Puffs

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unrivaledkitch

Carrara Pastries

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Years ago, I had a conversation with Damiano about his vision of bringing his family to the United States to build an Italian pastry business in California. Even then, as we spoke I knew that I would see his idea come to full fruition. Damiano is one of the hardest working and most driven persons that I’ve ever met. His passion for flair bartending, all things Italian, his family, and his business is exemplary. When I first met him, he was a bartender, but he’s put that passion on hold to build a family Italian pastry business called Carrara Pastries located in Moorpark, CA. With the help of his brother, Massimiliano Carrara, who is the Pastry Chef, the success of their business has lent to the expansion of a second location in Agoura, CA.

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On 05.05.13, Carrara Pastries opened its doors to the Agoura community at their location on Roadside, just off the Kanan exit of the 101 freeway. Both new and old customers flocked to the beautiful and elegant modern storefront in Agoura to enjoy friendly company and beautiful Italian pastries and espresso. Large glass cases of freshly-made delicious pastries line the back of the store. Beautiful photographs and mirrored walls offer a modern, but warm atmosphere.  Not only do they have mouthwatering desserts, everything is prepared fresh with the finest imported Italian ingredients and to accompany your sweets, you can choose from a variety of Italian refreshments and espresso drinks. As the community welcomed Carrara Pastries with open arms, I’m delighted that such hard work can and has developed into this beautiful reality for the Carrara family. As they cut the ribbon and served the deliciously large and gorgeous white cake with fresh fruit and white chocolate, everyone lined up for a slice.

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While Brandon and I were there, we couldn’t help but pick up some delicious profiteroles with light pastry cream, a delicious cheesecake and a beautiful hazelnut chocolate cake. Carrara Pastries has something for everyone: large cakes for special occasions, small bites for an after-dinner sweet tooth and everything in between. Massimiliano and Damiano were born and raised in Lucca, Italy. There, Massimiliano studied with top pastry chefs in Italy and trained in the exquisite art of fine Italian pastries. As you take a look at the various pastries, you’ll see things you’ve never seen before and others that you’re very familiar with; this is all part of the charm of this lovely new bakery. The Carrara family is a model for the American dream and with lots of sacrifice, time and effort, they’ve manifested their dreams into reality. Please visit the Carraras at either of their lovely locations and explore the sweetness they’ve created.

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476 West Los Angeles Ave, Unit A-13
Moorpark CA, 93021
Contact: 805.552.4250

28914 Roadside drive, Ste #107
Agoura Hills CA, 91301
Contact: 818.661.9006

Cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

 

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.

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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!

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Menu

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.

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Channel Island Harbor Farmers Market in Oxnard, CA

On a beautiful Sunday morning, Brandon, Lyz (Brandon’s mom) and I decided to go to the Channel Island Harbor farmers’ market to see what we could find.  The freshness of fall produce entangles through the various booths and stands of fresh vegetables just picked from the earth. There are different types of fall root vegetables, lots of delicate lettuce, string beans, pears, and the last of the end-of-california-summer delicious plums, peaches and nectarines. Fall gourds and pumpkins start to show themselves in preparation for the holidays, just around the corner. As the last bits of summer start to vanish from the gardens, the air turns crisp and something warm and hearty to eat, after a long hot summer, sounds divine. Fishing boats line the harbor bringing in some of the freshest prawns and other local surf.

The stalls are lined with people looking for the best products; something special to take home for the week on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.  I’ve been to this market a couple of times and it always has something that brings me back.

Address

Farmers Market – Channel Islands Harbor
(Every Sunday 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M)
3600 S. Harbor Boulevard – adjacent to Marine Emporium Landing Shopping Center
Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard
For further information call (805) 985-4852

cheers

-Unrivaledkitch

Farmer’s Market on Fairfax and Third

If you live in Los Angeles you’ve more than likely been here. In fact, you’ve probably been here many times. You’ve fought the traffic, gotten a little bit of your personal space encroached upon and decided that this could be a little bit of sensory overload for your foodie sensations, but still, you go back time and time again. Maybe this isn’t your experience, but for the most part, every time I visit the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax and Third, this is the way I feel. There is so much to see, so much to eat, so much to explore and it’s pretty awesome. I love California for just these reasons. There is never a shortage of food adventures and even if you go to the same place during a different month, your experience will be different. We have the seasons of fruits and vegetables, even if there isn’t any snow here and most of the time it’s sunny.

On a recent beautiful weekend in sunshiny California, I decided it would be a nice reminder to get out and walk the farmer’s market and look for a little inspiration. Not only do they have a plethora of fruits and vegetables, but there are also many butchers and meat purveyors, pastry makers, small markets, specialty ingredient stores, cured meats and deli’s, as well as small restaurants and little food shacks with plenty of people lined up for a delicious bite. I don’t normally like to come here hungry, because the overwhelming amount of choices is just too much.
This market is on the expensive side of looking for produce and fruit, but has its own charms. It’s an alluring place to explore options and see the colorful, multicultural and flavorful side of Los Angeles.
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

The Hungry Cat and Santa Barbara Farmers Market

Brandon and I seem to find our way out to Santa Barbara pretty often. It’s far from where I live, but only 30 minutes away from where he lives, so when I visit him, which is often, we have a tendency to head up there to see what’s going on. We knew there was a farmer’s market there on Tuesdays, so we decided to drive up to see what kind of beautiful vegetables we could get and also have a nice dinner.
The season is showing its spring-like colors at the market with beautiful citrus, lots of wonderful radishes, rainbow tomatoes, and strawberries peeking around each stand. The wonderful smell of citrus and fresh picked greens always makes me have a little longing for a garden of my own one day, but I’m not sure that would work, seeing as I can barely keep a plant alive, but one can hope.

After we walked the market, we decided to stop in at The Hungry Cat. This beautiful, small restaurant captures the quaint and simplistic nature of Santa Barbara. We came in for a midday meal around 5:00 p.m. and it was still happy hour, so drinks were half off–a steal for such gourmet cocktails. I ordered the Greyhound Proper, which was Plymouth Gin, fresh grapefruit juice, and candied grapefruit; a deliciously prepared strong and wonderful cocktail.
The kitchen at The Hungry Cat is half-open with a conjoining bar and a long set of seats, set along the back side of the restaurant. Small decorations and open glass windows keep the restaurant open and inviting. We perused the midday menu to see what we would get. Brandon and I have been known to devour large towers of seafood together, so we decided to go with that again. We ordered the medium-sized seafood platter, which came with peel-and-eat shrimp, clams on the half shell, oysters, snow crab legs, a half Maine lobster, marinated mussels, rock crab claws, and caviar. The large tower was a fantastic sight to see, so wonderfully prepared, freshly shucked, flawless seafood done with just the right touches.  We were also served accompaniments to aid in the seafood flavor development: housemade tartar sauce, housemade cocktail sauce, housemade thousand island, and mignonette. All the sauces were delicious and went well with everything. We had fun making small bites of delicious sauce and seafood and we were also given toast points with chives, hardboiled egg yolk and white, crème fraiche, and shallots, which made for some delicious seafood morsels. Everything was so wonderful. I’m still not the biggest fan of raw clams, but everything else was excellent, especially the most delicately poached and tender peel-and-eat shrimp; I could eat those every day.
A beautiful day in Santa Barbara with wonderful food and food adventures along with the best company a girl could ask for. I’m sure we’ll frequent The Hungry Cat again, you should too.
cheers
-Unrivaledkitch

Camping and a Going Away Party

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creek to oceanwalking beach and pier

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My life seems to have evaporated in front of me this last month, but in a very amazing way. I’m so lucky all my friends and family are so amazing and I’ve had such an amazing August and September already. There’s so much coming up and I’m getting ready for so many big moves in life—it’s scary and exciting. My friend is on the same journey, but hers is educational bound. My best friend from high school got into grad school at University of California, Santa Barbara. I’m so proud of her. Since I won’t be seeing her as often, we decided to take a weekend trip together in the great outdoors about 30 miles from where she’ll be attending school at Gaviota State Park. The beach was beautiful. We spent the days in the sand drinking sangria and eating snacks in the evenings. We had campfire meals and were blown away, literally, by the howling wind. So much for camping, but we tried. I had so much fun. The night sky was just gorgeous and the water crashing on the shore was amazing.

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foil grilling

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sweet and savory

sangria

rib eyes

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Menu
Dinner Saturday night: Togarashi and ginger soy sauce marinated steak skewers with red bell peppers, Steamed soy broccoli, and Grilled corn on the cob. A completely utensil-free meal made on the wood burning campfire.
Breakfast Sunday morning: Scrambled garlic and swiss cheese eggs, grilled turkey sausage, mixed fruit, and French bread toast with Cinnamon and vanilla Mexican hot chocolate made on a outdoor propane stove.
Sangria made with Pinot grigio white peaches, granny smith apples, nectarines, raspberry rum and cranberry vodka mixed.
Dinner: Grilled herb marinated Bone-in Rib eye steaks, Roasted Rosemary fire potatoes, Grilled home grown green and yellow zucchini.
Cooking outdoors on a fire that can’t be controlled, not to mention the howling wind, is pretty intense, but I’d say we still ate very well and had lots of fun with it all. Anyone else been beach camping this year? You should go! It’s really fun to get out there, get dirty and cook up some grub under the stars. Beautiful!

So the next weekend Michelle had asked me if I would be able to cater her going away party for about 20-25 people and of course I told her I would. This is the menu. Everything went over so well and we had so much fun drinking, going in the hot tub and enjoying summer time as it quickly fades away.





Menu
Dry ground Mexican chili compound butter smeared grilled corn; Carne asada tacos with smoked paprika and sweet chili; Marinated lime and lemon ginger roasted chicken tacos; Spanish Rice with scallion and roma tomato; Three grilled chilies serrano, jalapeno and pasilla; Taco toppings: lettuce, queso fresco, sweet white onions, and cilantro; Vegetarian chorizo slow cooked homemade re-fried pinto beans, Pico de gallo, Salsa roja with vinegar marinated jalapeno

Good Luck at school Miche. I love you!

As for it being 9/11, I hope with these friendships and loving memories we remember the people that lost their lives and who still believe in our great country.

In gratitude

Cheers
Unrivaledkitch