Cobb Salad & California Rolls: Recipes and Cultural Relevance

Cobb Salad & California Rolls: Recipes and Cultural Relevance

As the famous Andrew Zimmern once said, “the common food of a country or a town defines a huge part of its overall culture.” This pays homage to how Sicilians highly value artichokes, and how Filipinos prefer to practically pair any food with rice. There’s so much to be said for the amount of diversity in cultural cuisine.

Labeled California avocados.

Meanwhile, California is considered the “salad bowl” of the United States for various reasons. The cuisine of California is characterized by fresh produce and fusions, from the fertile Salinas Valley, to the wine countries across the state, and the vast diversity of urban areas like Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The health-conscious culture paired with the abundance of local produce has led the way to some modern and creative kinds of cuisine.

Before it was a concrete jungle, California was initially the health-first town. Modern takes on ethnic foods from countries around the world were modified to fit local tastes, evolving throughout the years, especially after immigrants surged to the state.

So the next time you are on the road bound for California, choose among the most ethnic-centered Vernon hotels, stay in for a while, and treat your taste buds with the classic tangy-taste of the original ranch dressing or some tasty California rolls.

Here are some recipes to make your taste buds dance.

The California Cobb Salad

Invented in Hollywood, California back in the 1930s, Cobb salads are staple food choices by the locals. Cobb salad is a dinner salad made from “as many as you can” – flavorful ingredients.

A California cobb salad.

The origin of the original ingredients for the Cobb salad is not known for certain, but its name came from Robert H. Cobb, the pioneer of Brown Derby restaurant chains in the USA. This is where the dish was first served.

Cobb salad is composed primary of iceberg lettuce, romaine, tomatoes, bacon, roasted chicken, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, chives, and roquefort cheese. The ingredients are then all chopped and tossed with French dressing, a mixture of red wine vinegar, lemon, mustard, oil, and Worcestershire sauce. The many ingredients of this salad are often formed into ornate displays before serving, showing off the contrasting colors, shapes, and textures to excite palettes.

A woman preparing a cobb salad.

Classic Cobb Salad Recipe

~ Serves 6 ~

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head of romaine, rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 head of Boston lettuce, rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 4 cups)
  • 1 small bunch of curly endive, rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 bunch of watercress, coarse stems discarded and the watercress rinsed, spun dry, and chopped fine (about 2 cups)
  • 6 slices of lean bacon, finely chopped
  • 3 ripe avocados (tip – use an authentic California avocado!) skinned and pit discarded
  • 2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds total), halved, cooked, and diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 hard-boiled large egg, separated, the yolk grated fine and the white grated fine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Roquefort

DIRECTIONS:

  1.   In a large salad bowl, toss together the Romaine, the Boston lettuce, the curly endive, and the watercress.
  2.   Cook the bacon over moderate heat in a skillet until crisp.
  3.   Prepare the avocados by cutting them into halves then slice them into 1/2-inch pieces.
  4.   Arrange the chicken, the bacon, the tomato, and the avocado decoratively over the greens and garnish the salad with the grated egg and the chives.
  5.   In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, the mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Then, add the oil in a slow stream, whisking the mixture until the whole dressing is emulsified. Stir in the Roquefort. Continuously whisk the dressing then pour over the salad. Toss well.

California Roll Recipe

The California roll is easily the most famous of California’s cuisine, and it speaks a lot about how the state is open to accepting foreign influence. This dish tells tons of stories about the combination of the Japanese and the Californian culture.

Most importantly, it’s healthy. And delicious.

california roll

A sushi roll consisting of crab meat, cucumber, rice and seaweed, it is fused with the essential taste of California – the avocado. The roll has helped make sushi more appealing and “edible” to Californians (and Americans, in general) who have reservations on trying sushi for the first time. Given this, the roll is made inside-out, that is, the rice is outside the seaweed called nori because the American taste buds were not ready to take that culinary leap at the time.

To experience the1960-born experimental fusion of both traditional Japanese and California ingredients, you can follow this recipe:

hand roll

For the sushi core filling:

  • 1/2 lb crab meat
  • 1 Avocado, ripe but still firm
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into long julienne strips
  • Toasted Nori Seaweed
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the rice:
  • 2 cups Japanese short or medium grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water
  • 5 Tbsp Sushi Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt

Preparing the rice:

  1. Wash the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain well.

For stove top method:

  1. Put drained rice in a heavy sauce-pan and add 2 cups cold water. Add in sushi vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar and salt into the rice mixture.
  2. Cover tightly, set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium and let the rice cook or until all the water is absorbed (7-8 min).
  3. Do not remove the cover to check. Instead listen for the bubbling to stop.
  4. Once you hear a faint hissing sound, reduce the heat to very low and cook for another 6 min. Remove from the heat, and let it stand for more 15min covered.

Using a rice cooker:

  1. Follow the suggested cooking instructions of the rice
  2. Include the sushi vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar and salt when adding the water to the raw rice.
  1. Once the rice is cooked, transfer the hot rice to a large bowl.
  2. Let the rice cool down just a little. tt should still be warm when made into a roll.

Now, to make the rolls:

  1. Fold the nori sheets in half and cut them into two equal parts.
  2. Toast your sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden.
  3. Dice up the avocados, cucumber and crab meat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. With damp fingers, spread a generous handful of sushi rice onto the 1/2 sheet of nori.
  5. Flip the rice covered piece of nori over so that the rice side is facing down the sushi rolling mat. Place your filling along the length of your nori.
  6. Start rolling the spread, applying pressure as you go along to make a tight roll. Rolling it tighter makes the sushi easier to slice.
  7. Once the roll is complete, sprinkle the roll with toasted sesame seeds while it is still on the mat so you can turn it easily.
  8. Run your sharp knife through a damp paper towel before slicing so the rice would not stick as much. Cut the roll in half, then line the two halves up and slice into even 1-inch rings.
  9. Serve with soy sauce with wasabi paste or powder.

4 Foods For the Broken-Hearted

Having your heart broken seems to (at least at the time) be one of the toughest things that you can experience in your lifetime. What’s hard to digest is the fact that it’s an unavoidable ordeal – not to mention there’s a possibility that it could happen more than once! If you’re thinking that a broken heart can only be the product of your significant other parting ways with you, you should think again.

heartbroken

Various factors can affect a persons emotions, thus leading to a ‘broken heart’. This may come from a personal trauma like having to see your beloved dog die, failing and having to repeat your board exam for the 5th time, or seeing your parents go through a divorce.  These factors can easily cause you to feel like you need to get away from it all.

If you do feel like moving out, call True North Mortgage and find a new place to stay. Otherwise, you might be on your way to a broken-hearted life.

However, what you can’t get away from is the fact that each person undergoes these kinds of dilemmas with surprising frequency. All these experiences, whether good or bad, actively contribute to your mental and emotional state as a person.

Having a broken heart has actually been proven to physically damage your heart. The American Heart Association found that being emotionally hurt can make a person prone to what is called broken heart syndrome. Typically, it is a disease born from the mix of depression, mental health, and heart disease. It proves to be quite a challenge to the inflicted, as it’s symptoms include things such as angina, or chest pains, and shortness of breath, to name just a couple.

So what can you do to prevent your heart from being broken? Bad news: the answer is nothing. Again, this is an inescapable phenomenon each person should expect to go through in their lives. So, to rephrase the above-mentioned question, what can you do to survive having your heart broken?

You might be shocked, but the answer is actually quite delicious.

Food proves to be the solution to a number of things, including saving you from the clutches of being heartbroken. Science has shown that eating specific foods can actually help you to uplift your mood and spirits.

Try to move on with these foods for the broken-hearted

Wine oh so Fine

If you’re thinking of wasting away from that heart-broken feeling, then waste away- the healthy way.

Red wine has been proven to be a surprisingly healthy alternative to your traditional double scotch. With good reason, considering the fact that it contains some really healthy substances – including antioxidants which keep your cells replenished and revitalized.

Of course, the alcohol in the wine also helps you to relax and let go of the heavy things you keep in that big heart of yours (at least temporarily). Not only does it help prevent heart attacks in healthy does, it also gives you a more relaxed rest.

red wine

So if you’re thinking about a night out with your college buds or your life-long girlfriends, then make sure to grab a red wine or two. Drink away and walk away!

Nutty Goodness, Hearty Goodness

Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts are not only delicous; they also offer some wondrous health benefits that can lift your heart in no time. These nuts actually have nutrients in them which can help to lower blood pressure when you’re feeling stressed, keep your arteries clear, lower cholesterol and body fat, and ultimately reduce your chances of having heart diseases.

nuts

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, ice cream with nut flavors is actually a good way to go about eating these little heart pumpers in an even tastier way. In gloomy times, a little dairy wouldn’t hurt.

And if you’re stuck at home wanting comfort food, there’s always peanut butter and some bread. Now that’s tasty.

Lighten the Feeling with Dark Choco

Over the course of research, many people had found that eating dark chocolate gives excellent benefits for the human body. It is nutritious in the sense that it improves brain function as well as protects the skin from diseases. However, what is most outstanding among all of them is its significant impact on the heart.

Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, and others. So what antioxidants do to help the body?

dark chocolate

Antioxidants help prevent free radicals from inducing illnesses in your body by counteracting them and therefore neutralizing them in the bloodstream. In the same way, you can say that an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals can be major factor that affects one’s health, especially during the stressful experience of being broken hearted.

What other things does dark chocolate give a person? With regards to the circulatory system, this scrumptious food improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure – which is significant in providing the body the oxygen it needs to perform its daily activities.

With all these benefits at work, dark chocolate presents itself as a delightful alternative to your common milk chocolate, with all the health advantages. Dark chocolate is the answer to these similarly dark times.

Beans there, done that

One of the more uncommon foods that can help mend a broken heart is beans. But really, how do beans help you in your most challenging time?

Beans are known to have substances which lower cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol is good for the heart (up to a point) since lower cholesterol levels allow blood to flow to the body’s veins and arteries.

beans on toast

In this regard, beans help lower blood pressure which is important because they prevent high blood pressure that, when left unchecked, may be fatal to any person who has incurred it.

What separates beans from the others?

According to studies, beans are abundant sources of numerous vitamins and minerals that are associated with improved heart health. These vitamins and minerals comprise of zinc, potassium niacin, and magnesium. In another study on beans consumption, it has been proven that one B vitamin in particular, folate, reduces levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which can actually damage your blood vessel walls. In fact when you have higher concentrations of homocysteine, chances are higher that you’re going to have heart attacks and strokes. Folate in beans makes sure that that doesn’t happen.

***

Without a doubt, having your heart broken is a thing that causes mental, physical and emotional traumas for you. It infects every other facet of your daily life. You would immediately want to get rid of the feeling right away, but this proves to be a nearly impossible task.

Thanks to the people who go the extra mile in research, science has found out that behind your ordinary stress-eating habits, your life might take a turn for the better.

Furthermore, food has indeed provided the answer to yet another modern problem the world is facing today. However, the question remains, what exactly are the foods that helps you with the pain?

In recent years, it has been found that eating a desirable amount of dark chocolate, nibbling on some tasty peanuts, gobbling up quality beans and drinking that fine red wine can save you from heartbreak and perhaps even save your life. The common denominator of the following foodstuffs is the fact that it gives the heart nutrients, improves the overall function of the circulatory system and of course…tastes great!

The inevitability of having your heart broken is daunting to be sure. Then again, there is more to life than just your broken pieces.

Eat it away, drink it away, breakaway!

Guilt-Free and Delicious – 4 Probiotic-Rich Recipes For a Healthier You

Everybody needs probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria, like yeasts, that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Usually, people think of bacteria as something that causes diseases, but your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your tummy and digestive tracts healthy.

There have been numerous studies that prove how important probiotics are, especially to the body’s digestive system. Plants and animals, even your pet dog needs dog probiotics.

asian meal

While there many ways to get your daily dose of probiotics through commercial drinks, tablets, supplements, or some preserved foods, they are not necessarily natural. The thing about probiotic dietary supplements is that they are not aptly backed up by scientific studies about their safety and effectiveness, hence food supplements’ favorite label “no approved therapeutic claims”. In addition, these supplements are often too pricey. The best way, still, is to get these good bacteria from reliable sources.

And the best source is from nature itself. Here are some natural and organic probiotic-rich food and some recipes that you can try out:

Kimchi

No Korean meal goes off without kimchi. This spicy and sour traditional Korean side dish is made from fermented cabbage, cucumber, radish, or a mixture of these ingredients. “Mak kimchi”, or simple kimchi, is made with cut cabbage, radishes, and scallions, and a seasoned paste of red pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, salted shrimp, or kelp powder.

kimchi

The best thing about it is that these pickled vegetable treats are a good source of fiber with very low calorie content because they are veggies. Also, research shows how Kimchi consumption leads to better immune system regulation because it is rich in nutrients brought about by the innate nutrition of vegetables and the process required to make kimchi.

Remember – when making sandwiches, stir-fry, or soup with this unique ingredient, just be sure to add it last to avoid cooking off the good bacteria. The trick is to lightly sautee or steam.

Kimchi Grilled Cheese Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 2 ozs cheese (comté, sliced with a vegetable peeler)
  • 2 ozs kimchi (squeezed well)
  • 1 scallions (thinly sliced)

Directions: To start, brush the olive oil on the sandwich bread slices, and distribute all the cheese, kimchi, and scallions well before grilling.

Delicious and easy to prepare, this healthy snack is full of the much-needed probiotics to treat your hungry tummy.

Miso

From Korea, it’s now time to go to the prime essence of Japanese cooking: miso. Miso is a rich, salty condiment that characterizes a ton of Japanese dishes. As such, the Japanese traditionally begin their day with a bowl of homemade miso soup. They also use miso to flavor a variety of foods in other meals throughout the day. No wonder Japanese people are ranked first in life expectancy. It is all thanks to this all-natural condiment that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.

miso

Miso is also very flavorful as it goes through a complex process. To make miso, soy beans and sometimes grains – such as rice or wheat, are combined with salt and a mould culture, and then aged in cedar vats for one to three years. The aging process creates a unique taste of salty, sour, cream-like, brewed and earthy, leaving a mild savory texture to the palette.

Miso Soup with Chards and Tofu Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped green chard or other sturdy green
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup firm tofu, cubed
  • 3-4 Tbsp white miso paste with or without bonito (fish flavor)
  • 1 sheet (1/4 cup) nori (dried seaweed), cut into large rectangles

Directions: Place water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a low simmer. Add nori and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

In the meantime, place 3 tbsp of miso into a small bowl, add a little hot water and whisk until smooth. Then add the miso mixture to the nori soup and stir. This will ensure it doesn’t clump. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and add more miso or a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve warm and add to a nice and tasty sandwich as main course.

Pickles

Probably the most common yet most undervalued source of healthy organisms, these tasty and cheap greens provide for a lot of probiotics which are perfect for digestion. Other than that, many people cite the health benefits of pickles, saying that these greens can help with weight loss. The sweet or sour treats are filled with healthful antioxidants, and can even fight off certain kinds of cancer.

pickles

Pickling has been used for thousands of years to preserve food beyond the growing season. They are made for a more affordable solution to hunger and are most revered by the natural health benefits that come by their cost-effective nature. Most pickling recipes call for salt, vinegar, and seasoning.

Cucumber Pickle Recipe

Prep Time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 ounces sea salt (about 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cups bottled water
  • 1 1/2 pounds cucumbers, thoroughly washed and dried (best if you measure the cucumber accordingly to the container on which you will preserve it).
  • Few sprigs fresh dill, washed and dried

Directions: What you need to do is mix the sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and water and bring them to a boil. Let it simmer for five minutes.

Remove the brine from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Arrange the cucumbers upright in a container large enough to hold the brine, perhaps a mason jar, like this one. Place the dill sprigs in amongst the cucumbers in the jars. The cucumbers should be fitted tightly and should come within probably half an inch to an inch of the top of the container. Fill the container with the brine to the top and tap on a flat surface to remove any possible air bubbles.

These pickles can last a few weeks.

Yogurt

yogurt

Of course, you should never ever skip yogurt when you’re talking about probiotics. Yogurt has literally millions of good bacteria in it.

Yogurt is made by adding a number of types of harmless bacteria to milk, causing it to ferment. This thickens the milk and gives it its characteristically tangy flavor. Cow’s milk is the most common type used, but goat’s, ewe’s, sheep, or buffalo’s milk are also suitable.

There is a lot to gain and few to lose through a proper consumption of yogurt. In fitness, yogurt is believed to give you faster flat abs, if reinforced with good workout, that is. Yogurt is also loaded with vitamins to help give you energy during exercise. A cup of yogurt a day can help you recover faster after a heavy lifting session or just a simple exercise at the gym because it also has casein protein.

Mango Yogurt Recipe

Prep Time: 5-10 mins

  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup whole milk or low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Directions: In a blender, combine mango, yogurt, sugar, and 1/2 cup cold water. Pour through a fine sieve (to remove pulp), if desired. Serve immediately over ice.

You can practically use yogurt with almost any smoothie that you want to prepare. Basically, it’s an alternative for whole milk. You can do it with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla.

Cheers to you, and your gut health!

smokey, spicy clams & chorizo

clams-chorizo 1
I would like to thank mother nature for this post. The 14″ of snow that were dumped on us last night not only inspired me to make this dish, but it also gave me the time to write and post today. Part of my winter comfort food repertoire involves things that are smoky and or spicy, like BBQ brisket or like this dish, clams and chorizo. So yesterday when I was in the grocery store stocking up on food in preparation for another intense snow storm, I wanted something comfort food-ish. I could not get clams and chorizo out of my head. And here we are. I wish I could describe in words how insanely delicious this dish is. Just be sure you have lots of toasted baguette nearby because you are going to want to soak up every smoky, spicy drop.

clams chorizo 2

Ingredients:

2 dozen clams
5 oz of cured chorizo, cut into small cubes
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 of a 14 oz can of san marzano diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of dry white wine
a pinch of spanish smoked paprika
olive oil
salt & pepper

In a large sautee pan, cook the chorizo and garlic in olive oil until the garlic is browned. Add in the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Then add around 1/4 cup of the wine and reduce until it is almost gone and you have a thick sauce developing. Add the clams and the remaining 1/4 cup of wine. Shake the pan to coat the clams, cover, and cook for about 9-12 minutes (until the clams open). When all or most of the clams have opened, transfer to a bowl removing any clams that did not open. Spoon the sauce over and inside the clams. Serve immediately with lots of toasted bread.

garlicky pesto

I love pesto that has so much garlic it should come with a warning.  Something like: do not eat if you are planning on going on on a first date within 24 hours, and especially if you plan on kissing the person goodnight. Because if you do, you may not have a second date.

I love it to have so much garlic that it is zingy and spicy. Not to downplay the basil.  The basil plays just as important of a role, if not the most important. It is the perfect partner for the garlic because it balances it out and tells it when to slow down and take it down a notch.

Because basil and garlic get along so well, you can bring them out with a lot of different ingredients. In the pesto form, it goes well with pasta, sandwiches, and even on chicken or fish.  The possibilities with pesto are endless.  My personal favorite is over spaghetti with green beans and potatoes, or on a baguette with fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.  Yum.

Ingredients

1 large bunch of basil
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
around 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil

A little side note : you can easily make this by throwing these ingredients into a blender, but you will not get the same results as you would by doing it the real deal way by chopping it by hand.  So, leave the blender in the cabinet and get out your sharpest knife and a large cutting board.  Don’t worry, it will not take that much longer and you’ll get a little workout.  Best of all, the taste and texture will be much more intense. It is well worth the extra effort.

 

Start by chopping the garlic.   Then add in a handful of the basil.  Keep adding basil until there is no more and keep chopping until it is in little green flakes.

Add in the pine nuts.  Keep on chopping. Scrap and chop, scrape and chop.

Add the cheese along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Continue chopping away until you have a thick paste-like substance.  Transfer the pesto to a small bowl, and stir in the olive oil. You’re done. You can store your pesto for later, or better yet use it right away over pasta, bread, or whatever your heart desires.

Enjoy.  And remember … no kissing, unless of course you are sharing 😉