Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary

Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary

Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary

A Unique Bloody Mary Blend of Soju and Vegetable Juice
Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Gochugaru
Garnished with
Kimbap, Pickled Yellow Radish, Tomato
Celery Stalk with Roasted Seaweed

Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary

It’s late in the evening on a hot steamy summer night. Come, join us on the patio. We’re having a cocktail that is sure to perk you up, and it’s served complete with its own anju (snacks enjoyed while drinking alcohol).

Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage distilled from rice that has slightly floral and barely sweet flavors. Pleasantly light with a round mouth-feel and an alcoholic content of 20%, it is usually enjoyed neat, sipped from a shot glass. With about half the alcohol content as vodka, soju is also a perfect spirit to pair with our unique Korean Bloody Mary mix, it is tasty as well as refreshing…

Our Korean Bloody Mary mix is a blend of soy sauce for salty-umami flavors, fish sauce for sour-umami flavors and depth, rice vinegar for a bright acidic note, and gochugaru, a Korean red chili powder that is definitely spicy but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried red peppers.

The rim of the glass is coated with a smoky mix of gochugaru, smoked paprika, Kosher salt, and celery salt. Enjoy smoky, spicy, salty flavors even before taking the first sip.

Now for the anju: We have danmuji, a Korean yellow pickled radish that is sweet, sour and crispy. And while our Bloody Mary is garnished with that ubiquitous celery stalk, it is served with a twist! The “tree” is decorated with strips of gim, a seaweed that is roasted with sesame oil and seasoned with sea salt. Munch on crispy strips of gim while sipping the spicy cocktail. And finally, kimbap is a seaweed rice roll filled with yellow radish, spinach, carrot, egg, and fish cake. With so many flavors packed in a tidy little package, kimbap makes a snappy colorful addition to our Korean Bloody Mary.

Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary Recipe

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Korean Grilled Salmon, Gochujang-Soju Marinade

Korean Grilled Salmon, Gochujang-Soju Marinade

Korean Grilled Salmon, Gochujang-Soju Marinade
Mixed Lettuce Salad with Cucumber & Radish Batons
Served with Ice Cold Soju

Gochujang, a red chili paste with sweet heat and a funky fermented umami richness is used as a base for many marinades. Combined with soju, sesame oil, and soy sauce – this gochujang marinade lends a complex flavor profile to the smoky salmon’s unctuous texture.

Ice cold soju makes a perfect accompaniment to grilled salmon. This Korean alcoholic beverage distilled from rice has slightly floral and barely sweet flavors. Pleasantly light and refreshing with a round mouth-feel, and an alcoholic content of 20%, it is usually enjoyed neat, sipped from a shot glass. In this dish, the salmon is obviously the star, a fresh crisp salad and smooth snappy soju play the supporting roles.

Korean Grilled Salmon, Gochujang-Soju Marinade Recipe

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Puff au Chocolat avec Fraises, Basilic, Fleur de Sel

puff au chocolat avec fraises, basilic, fleur de sel

Puff au Chocolat avec Fraises, Basilic, Fleur de Sel

Celebrate Cupid’s holiday with Puff au Chocolat!  Heart-shaped, check. Chocolate, check. Strawberries, check. Plus somethings a bit unexpected on Valentine’s Day – basil and salt. But the combination really is stellar. And you’ll have plenty of time to spend with your sweetheart, as this recipe uses store-bought puff pastry and takes only about 20 minutes (active time) to compose.

You might serve some creme fraiche on the side or pair with a glass of sherry. We like Bodega Dios Baco NV Oloroso Sherry from Jerez, Spain which has wonderful aromas of nuts, vanilla and caramel with rich semi-sweet creamy flavors. Oloroso sherries offer a terrific balance between sweet and dry.


Puff au Chocolat Recipe

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Holiday Fare: Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with a Champagne Truffle Cream

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with a Champagne Truffle Cream

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with a Champagne Truffle Cream
Wilted Butter Lettuce and Generous Shaving of Pink-Veined Italian White Truffle


White truffles are very perishable and very delicate with an intense perfume reminiscent of earth, garlic, shallot and grana cheese. This gem arrived just a few days before our holiday party from my friends at Gourmet Attitude in NYC.

I wrapped the truffle in a paper towel and refrigerated it, in a large glass jar with fresh eggs. My house guests were treated to a special breakfast the morning after our party – poached eggs intensely flavored with truffle! The musky aromas penetrate through the egg shells, and after a simple 3 minute poaching… et voilà heavenly truffle eggs! The tip I learned from the truffle experts at Gourmet Attitude – to eschew standard wisdom and never store truffles in rice as it will dry them out. Store them with fresh eggs and extend the party into the next day.

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with a Champagne Truffle Cream was the first course in our 5-course holiday dinner earlier this week. Champagne/Truffles/Scallops – a fantastic way to begin an elegant holiday feast.

Holiday Table

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Celebrate the First Taste of 2013 Harvest

beaujolais nouveau

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2013

The third Thursday of every November – at one second after midnight according to French law – is when the recently-harvested Beaujolais is launched. Seventy million bottles are distributed around the world with the U.S. market being the largest importer of the nascent wine. Made from the red Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais region – it is a wine that is young and fresh and fruity. A light to medium-bodied wine not to be taken too seriously. It is a wine to enjoy tout de suite.

Easy drinking and not complicated – this wine can be quaffed on its own or sipped with foods. We had the opportunity to taste this 2013 harvest and we were all pleasantly surprised. It is a young wine – that is evident – so there is little in terms of bouquet. But the flavors are quite nice – with hints of red fruits such as cherries and berries and a bit of spice. It is balanced with light tannins resulting in a surprisingly nice structure on the palate.

Duboeuf, the self-proclaimed “King of Beaujolais” is the largest producer by far, with 125,000 cases imported, this wine should be readily available at local retailers during the month of December. This lively bottle will pair well with roasted turkey and is great to have on hand all through the holiday season when friends stop by. But don’t plan to cellar it – this baby is meant to drink young. Consider consuming your last bottle by New Years Eve.

The 2013 release is unique in that the harvest was 2 to 3 weeks later than usual as a result of a rainy spring season which delayed flowering. Hail storms damaged vineyards throughout the region, resulting in a lower grape yield. Low yield can result in a more concentrated wine with a better structure. And fortunately for the producers, a warm September prolonged the growing season which allowed for a more balanced maturation of the grapes.

While not considered the most spectacular vintage, the 2013 is definitely refreshing and tasty and worth seeking out.

rosé salad – a summer dish crafted to complement chilled dry rosé

shrimp, beet, raspberry, radicchio, rose salad

rosé salad
shrimp, beet, raspberry, radicchio, pickled red onion, rose petal salad

Hey summer! Where ya goin’? Not so fast, please! We’re holding on to summer by drinking our favorite pink wines: chilled dry French rosés which are the epitome of summer – light, fresh, and refreshing. This salad is crafted in a way so as to let the integrity of each ingredient shine, taking care not to overdress, but letting the raspberry vinegar and olive oil enhance the flavors. The spectrum of pink colors, fruity and flowery aromas, and range of flavors and textures beautifully complement rosé wines.

rosé salad recipe

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The BLP Sandwich {bacon, lettuce, peach}

The BLP Sandwich {bacon, lettuce, peach}

The BLP Sandwich

Thick Smoky Bacon, Crisp Green Lettuce
Rosemary Balsamic Grilled Summerflame Yellow Peaches
Sharp Salty Bleu Cheese, Saffron Mayonnaise

Oh heavens no. I’m not trying to improve on the classic BLT sandwich. But…this week Food Network is featuring peaches and somehow BLP got stuck in my head. A cute play on BLT, no? I start to imagine other foods that might pair well with the summer peach. Rosemary, syrupy balsamic vinegar, black pepper, bleu cheese, saffron. And just like that the BLP Sandwich was born.


And it just so happens that my absolute favorite wine this summer is MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris 2011 from the Russian River Valley in Somona. Damn, if this wine doesn’t taste like peaches. And baked apples and figs. Oh gosh, it is round and creamy and balanced and just plain luscious. Please try it with my BLP, sweet summer happiness will ensue.

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HENRI Chicago

Henri Chicago
HENRI Chicago

We were a match made in restaurant heaven. Henri is…Elegant yet comfortable. Upscale yet unpretentious. American yet French. With service that is crisp, knowledgable, precise yet still engaging. Dishes that are innovative, exciting yet satisfying. In addition, the designers chose a sea green, chocolate, and white color palette, with chandeliers. Just like my blog design! A definite match.

chicago skyline
Chicago Skyline from Michigan Avenue at Monroe

American architect Louis Henri Sullivan (1856 – 1924) moved to Chicago in 1873 to take part in the building boom that took place after the Great Chicago Fire. Then he moved to Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts and later returned to Chicago where he became the famous architect known as “the father of the skyscraper” and a mentor to  young designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Inspired by Chef Dustin Trani: Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction

Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction
Truffle Scented Tortellini, Veal Reduction
Beech Mushrooms, Olive Oil Toasted Bread Crumbs, Crispy Sage Leaves

Chef Dustin J. Trani is the Executive Chef at J. Trani’s Ristorante in San Pedro as well as DOMA in Beverly Hills. Earlier this year, Chef Trani was well-deservedly named as one of the Top 5 Rising Chefs in the U.S. by Gayot Magazine. On June 6th J.Trani’s Ristorante hosted their first wine dinner.

It was an extraordinary meal. With nearly three decades of dining in San Pedro, I can confidently declare that this meal was the best served in our town. Ever. Chef Trani paired a five course menu with wines from Napa Valley’s Franciscan Estates. Every element of every dish had a purpose, each in perfect balance. He deftly orchestrated a symphony of wine and food. It was an absolute pleasure to experience the Chef”s passion and commitment to perfection first hand.

My version of the Chef’s pasta course is simplified, to say the least. Where the Chef studied pasta making in Italy, I bought packaged cheese tortellini from Trader Joe’s. Where undoubtedly, the Chef simmered his veal stock in an hours-long process, I purchased French Demi-Glace from Whole Foods Market. My recipe is an everyday version of that extraordinary plate served at the outstanding wine dinner.

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Construction Dinner

Orecchiette, Avocado Pasta Sauce
Orecchiette with Warm Avocado Cream

The dilemma was how to add more kitchen counter space for prepping, cooking, and cleaning while keeping the integrity of the 1951 style, leaving the character of the original design unchanged without knocking out any walls. My friend Kirk had a brilliant idea to convert the adjacent room, which had been used as a bar, into an extension of the kitchen.

My home is a unique style for Southern California, the charming Cape Cod is an East Coast design – a style adapted to the stormy New England weather. Common features include: a steep sloping roof, chimney with fireplace, dormers, multi-pane double hung windows, shutters, constructed of wood and covered in wide clapboard, having a symmetrical appearance with the door in center, center-hall floor plan, and hardwood floors.

This remodeled room may have originally been designed for use as a breakfast nook sixty years ago. Now, it is an extension of the cooking area, with a stainless steel sink and 9 extra feet of counter space!

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