Kreation Kafe – Santa Monica

2014-02-05 14.29.29

 

Sorry about all the irregular updates. I’m in the process moving to Salt Lake City(!!) right now, but should be back on schedule within the next couple weeks.

But for now, here is the first restaurant installment of my Los Angeles trip.

Our first trip within the city limits was the apparently well known Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. We quickly found parking at one end of the street and started walking up and down the length of it. There were so many cute shops – decieving antique shops that appeared to be thrift stores but had a price range of a collector’s boutique, shops full of clothing that we didn’t dare enter for fear of some unknown entry fee, and so many cafés, juice bars, and restaurants!

It was around lunch time so we had a hard time deciding which of our many options looked most appealing (and was vegetarian friendly). While we wandered and pondered my future roommate noticed that no one seemed to be happy. Or smile. Or even acknowledge other human beings’ presence. She started smiling pointedly at the obvious locals to get a reaction out of them. After realizing that it simply wasn’t working she started to count how many people in LA smiled. The number can be counted on one hand, and we are pretty sure they were visitors like us.

But back to the food. Which gave us HUGE smiles of delight and satiation.

The place we ultimately decided on was the super trendy and very obviously organic–very-vegetarian-if-not-vegan restaurant – Kreation Kafe. I call it obviously organic and etc. because the outside featured a little portal covered in succulents and grasses, the floor was covered with astroturf (though, admittedly that’s not very sustainable or organic…) and the walls were mainly windows that let in all the natural light. What little that was solid wall was covered in yet more small succulents.

Luckily, it wasn’t too busy when we got there and didn’t have to wait at all, but the restaurant was completely full otherwise.

The menu was simple and offered a nice variety of breakfast dishes, sandwiches, kebabs, salads, and juices. All of the juices you never knew existed (and still aren’t really sure what their purpose is) and more. The last two pages was solid small type charts of various juices that the restaurant served – to order. Suffice it to say I ignored that page and stuck with water.

The meal I chose was a chicken and veggie sandwich with a side salad. The chicken was so tender, the veggies nice and fire roasted. It was a delicious gourmet and locally grown meal. The salad was the freshest I’ve had in a while. I don’t normally rave over the lettuces and leaves unless I have a craving, but this. was. good. It might have had the smallest drizzle of some light vinaigrette, but for the most part it was pure leafy joy. I was full and so happy from this meal.

Some of the other options were smoked salmon and tapas plate, scottish salmon and eggs, and veggies kabobs. Each and every one of us were delighted with the food. Enjoying it so much that we barely spoke at all while nomming. You know that’s a good meal.

And at the end of the meal, the waiter offered us complimentary juices in little test tube bottles. I forgot what flavours we tried, but one was minty and one was beety. Not bad, but I still don’t understand the juice craze.

It was a cute place and had quality food. I definitely would not mind revisiting Kreation Kafe next time I’m in the area.

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Veggie Enchilada Casserole

This last year of University I was cooking for myself and buying my own groceries. I quickly found out how much cheaper it was to buy vegetables than meat, which I’m sure many of you who live on your own can attest to. After years of eating a meat-centered diet, it was challenging and new to switch over to veggies. I started asking my vegetarian friends for recipes and ideas of what to do with fresh veggies besides stir-fry, salads, and eggs.

One of my dear friends gave me this gem of a recipe and it quickly became a staple meal. I love it especially, because it is very easily customized and never becomes boring. Plus it makes fantastic leftovers!

You can use any variety of sliced and diced veggies. My favorite combinations are: zucchini, corn, mushrooms, onions, carrots (halfway cooked before hand, unless you like them crunchy and slightly raw), and refried beans. I’ve also used blackbeans, canned green beans, tomatoes, and olives in various combos. Every time a success. I don’t think it’s possible to mess this recipe up!

 

Base recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Put some salsa (red or green, whichever you feel like at the time) on the bottom of your dish, lay corn tortillas on top, smother with more salsa, beans, vegetables of choice, and cheese. Repeat until you reach the top of the casserole dish. I like to end with a layer of corn tortillas and cheese so it’s nice and crispy on top.

Depending on the size and depth of your casserole dish, the time will vary. In the dish pictured above – about the size of a loaf of bread – it takes about 40 minutes to heat it through and make the edges crunchy.

Once it’s bubbly on top and heated through, simply cut out a slice and enjoy!

 

And unless you are feeling generous, hide it from your roommates because they WILL devour it all. Everytime! XD

Omurice and Kdramas

A few years ago one of my close friends introduced me into the crazy, antic-ridden, fairytale setup of kdramas. This began a a complicated addiction to the rather sexist world of poor girl meets rich boy and through a series of lies and coincidences ends up marrying him against all odds and traditions. (And if this at all interests you, let me know and I can give you a list of the least sexist and most fun shows!)

But the point of kdramas is that they always feature the main actress stuffing her face (oh most becomingly) with food and drink.

Korean food is one of the most delectable cuisines I have come across. Everything I’ve tried I’ve loved – bean sprout soup, short ribs, seaweed soup, kimchi, bibimbap, jap chae… The list goes on and on. But of all these dishes there is one that is revered above all. The omurice!

Inspired by the series Rooftop Prince, I had decided it was time to attempt this most scrumptious looking meal.

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(Yes, those are late 17th century Korean goofs [the goofiest of all being the crown prince] on an impossible mission trapped in modern day Seoul being fed omurices by the adorable Park-ha [who just can’t catch a break].)

I looked up a bunch of recipes and, getting the gist of the process, proceeded to make my own!

I used whatever vegetables I happened to have (garlic, carrots, broccoli, peas, onion and kimchi!) sautéed that up till soft, added some leftover rice, soy sauce and ketchup and set aside.

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(Please ignore the clorox wipes in the background… They completed eluded my notice until I had eaten everything.)

Then I made a thin omelette with the most basic of seasonings and assembled!

I thought it was going to be tricky, but it was easier than it sounded.

(The process, in case you were wondering, is to put the omelette mostly on the plate – with about a third hanging off the side – put the filling in, wrap the egg around it and tuck it in like a burrito.)

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I decided to top it off with a ketchup heart and then dug in. Doesn’t that just make your mouth water and stomach grumble?

Now excuse me while I go make another one…

Fluffy like a pillow pancakes!

This morning I was bored and craving some moist and airy pancakes. It had been ages since I’ve eaten any and longer still since I made them. Ever on the search for the most flavorful, easy, and consistent recipe I looked up (yet another) to try out.

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And I found a pretty close contender with this recipe. The Fluffy Pancakes recipe (with a dash of cinnamon) created sky high pillows of yum as promised.

My only complaint is that they weren’t flavorful enough to eat without garnish or syrup.  So I whipped up a refreshing topping of strawberry jam, vanilla yogurt and fresh mint to dip my pancakes in.

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Overall I was very pleased and I was able to freeze some extras for even quicker breakfasts this week!

Lemon Custard Tart

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Tonight my friend came over and we commenced a thrilling and silly adventure in the baking of the above pictured lemon custard tart!

She provided the tart crust recipe (from a trusted coworker who loves to bake) and I had searched Allrecipes for a simple lemon pie recipe. We ended up making the Down Under Lemon Tart and we were not disappointed.

The crust was a breeze to make – powdered sugar, butter, flour, a “medium pinch of salt” and milk. We added some cinnamon, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice to accent the lemon custard. Formed it into the “large and fat sausage shape” and threw it into the freezer to chill while we mixed the filling and preheated the oven.

We made some adjustments to the lemon custard filling, having to be creative with what was in the kitchen at the time. We ended up using coconut milk instead of cream and supplementing the lemon juice with some lime juice to reach the right amount of citric liquid.

After cooking it for 30 minutes (we didn’t read the bit about the pie supposing to be runny in the center till after it had cooked a bit longer… oops!) My friend and I were only able to wait an additional 10 minutes before we could no longer resist the sweet pastry taunting us from across the room.

We cut into it and took our first bites… It was so good. The lemon custard filling was a lovely slightly gooey and mostly creamy affair, just sweet enough to offset the lemony tang. Neither too sour nor too sugary. And the tart crust was flavorful and crumbly. The bottom was slightly chewy – like a thick cookie – and the edges were a nice crunchy golden brown.

Was it a masterpiece? Not really. Did it taste good? Hell yeah. AND we had fun singing along to Phantom of the Opera and dancing in my flamenco apron  like fools whilst mixing and spreading and pouring.

And this lemon custard tart went absolutely PERFECTLY with the cozy cute scenes of Love, Actually. And for once, I didn’t have to crave pie and bemoan it’s absence at the scene where Keira Knightly comes offering a banoffee pie in exchange for her wedding video. (Such a cute and heartbreaking scene. This movie is brilliant and just gets better every time I see it! And his acting is brilliant. He has maybe 3 lines the whole movie but he conveys such complicated and heart aching emotions with just his body language and eyes! <3)

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