Homemade breakfast potatoes... That can also pass for dinner potatoes!

There have been a bag of baby yellow dutch potatoes sitting on my kitchen counter for the past week, on this night I was determined to use it.  Once again, as it too often happens, there wasn't much to work with but I had been eyeing that bag of baby dutch yellow potatoes with spite, as if it was it's own fault it was still sitting there untouched.  

I'm not much of a potato person but Mr. Borscht is Russian and he really loves potatoes, potatoes in stew, mash potatoes, garlic mash potatoes, potato salad... He loves all things potatoes.  On this night I surprised him with breakfast potatoes for dinner, which... turned out pretty delicious!

The trick to really great breakfast potatoes is to get that buttery peppery flavor into the potatoes without it being overly buttery, I do this by using both vegetable oil and butter.  You also want the potatoes to be moist yet nicely browned with a bite, I do this by letting the potatoes cook covered for a few minutes and then finish browning them with the cover removed.

3/4 lbs. of baby yellow dutch potatoes sliced roughly into 1/4" thickness
Lg. pinch of pepper (fresh or ground)
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 Med-Lg onion (yellow or red) halved and sliced roughly into 1/3 -1/4" thickness
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1-1.5 tbsp of butter

1.  In a large heavy bottomed skillet heat up the olive oil and the butter until the oil is hot and the butter stops foaming on med-hi heat.

2.  Add the onions and the potatoes into the skillet with the oil and the butter, season with the salt and pepper toss to coat and mix, lower the heat to med and toss occasionally.

3.  When the potatoes are lightly browned on all sides, put the lid on and lower the heat to med-low, cook for about 5 minutes (this will help the potatoes to cook all the way through faster, while still keeping moist).

4.  Take off the lid and continue to cook the potatoes and onion so they brown nicely all over with a bit of a bite.

Brother Charlie Checks In From Turkey

Brother Charlie says the chicken is the cleanest he has ever tasted

Brother Charlie has left for Turkey a week ago, he has been staying at Hostels, walking, talking, walking, making friends, walking some more and voyaging through the towns not often seen by many tourists... and of course, he's been eating.  Luckily he was not anywhere near Van during the recent 7.0+ earthquake that hit recently, else he would not have been able to send Tummy these beautiful pictures of Turkish food.

His biggest complaint?  The coffee is not as good as he thought it would be, and in fact is very much like Greek coffee but not as tasty, or is Greek coffee like Turkish coffee?  Anyhow, as we all know Brother Charlie has a serious addiction to good coffee- I think we can say for a fact that he probably is suffering.

Brother Charlies says the kabobs & yogurt are THE best

The rice looks sweet and sticky but I'm sure it's more of a pilaf

The Village bakery & cafe

Brother Charlie will be leaving to Turkey for 2-weeks, I like to call it "a soul-searching voyage with possible epiphanies" while I'm sure Brother Charlie will simply call it "a trip".  The first thing that goes through my selfish mind is 'awww my food buddy!' And then quickly 'who's going to drive me around?!' And then very slowly crawls by 'I guess I'll have to bike around town... maybe I'll lose a few pounds!'  Yes, yes, these are the sad thoughts of a Tummy comforter.

One last meal before Brother Charlie takes flight?  Yes, of course!  And we decided to make it memorable by venturing out to Los Feliz or more specifically Atwater Village to check out the Village bakery and cafe, which just so happens... to have 4.5 stars and 200-something reviews on Yelp.  We go there semi-excited and ready for some good food, perhaps this was the problem?  Or perhaps Yelp was the problem?  Maybe all the Yelpers were the problem?  Well, whatever the problem was, the Village bakery and cafe didn't quite deliver to our expectations.  But turn those frowns upside down this post is not yet over and I still have positive information or two worth reading!

Upon walking in through the front doors customers are greeted with a display of pastries and goodies of all kinds.  I notice that the pastries here are not your everyday makings, very exciting Chocolate Pumpkin mini bundt cakes, donut muffins?! - I've just died and gone to heaven right?  But it doesn't stop there, Brioche cinnamon rolls, lemon thyme cake- and they all look fabulously delicious.

You order at the counter and get your food served at the table.  The interior is comfortable, casual, homy, welcoming.  A large communal table sits in the middle of the next room, along with counter sitting space and plenty of two-tops.  Everyone is sitting on their laptops, drinking coffee, eating, talking... not loudly nor quietly, it's one of those places, a comfortable space for one to sit, drink, eat and work.  And I think to myself, this is probably one of the reasons why people love it at the Village.

Naturally, Brother Charlie and I try their Mocha.  Nothing has ever, and in my mind, 'will ever' compare to the mocha at Midi Cafe- I have now accepted that this is a fact of life.  But the mocha here is no where near bad and is actually quite good, foamy at top, and tastes of 55% chocolate-ness and 45% milky-ness.

I order from the "Specials" menu, the tri-tip hash, and mainly order this for lack of wanting anything else on the menu, at least this sounded interesting.  Pieces of tri-tip mixed with sauteed mushroom, spinach and squash, with scrambled eggs.  When I receive my plate I am a bit confused and a bit excited, confused because I assumed my eggs would be on the side, not on top and a bit excited because my eggs are sitting on top and not on the side.

Unfortunately, the dish was a disappointment.  The tri-tip chewy, the eggs fairly plain, nothing to write about, how funny is that?  And though the ingredients of the dish is really interesting, topped with eggs?  Makes it very interesting!  The taste was not however.  Perhaps there could have been a way to make it so, but the flavor of the ingredients did not blend very well, it was comparable to that of stir-fry topped with eggs- I have no idea if such a dish exists, but if it did I'm sure it would be very similar to this.  I did not want stir-fry topped with eggs... I wanted something more wet, I wanted the ingredients to soak into each other... I wanted.... something more like... something like... jambalaya topped with eggs!

And if I thought for a second that I would find solace in a nice piece of toast with jam, boy was I wrong.  The jam, similar to it's color, tasted like cherry flavored cough syrup.

Brother Charlie made the wise decision today, sticking to something that can rarely ever be F'ed up, buttermilk pancakes baby!  It was, of course, way better than my Tri-tip hash.

I have a few vital positive information on this trip however disappointed I was with the food, I loved the wall paper- thought it was darling, I loved the fact that you can sit, eat, drink and work on your laptop comfortably, and I especially love the lemon thyme cake I took home with me- it was absolutely delicious!  

And while at home taking large bites out of the lemon thyme cake, I realized that the meals may be so-so at The Village but this is not why one goes there, it's for the PASTRIES!  I look forward to venturing out to Atwater once again, but this time to get my fill on their bountiful and interesting selections of cakes, pies, muffins and things.

Another funny face, and of course, this damn shirt!

The Damage:  $26.00 +/-

2 12oz Mochas
1 Buttermilk pancakes
1 Tri-tip hash special

3119 Los Feliz Blvd.
Atwater Village, CA 90039
(323) 662.8600

The simplest Caramelized Onion Bruschetta imaginable!

A few nights ago Mr. Borscht and I were preparing dinner, or beginning to prepare dinner.  We sauntered around the kitchen wondering what to make, we opened the cabinets, perused the refrigerator, looked at every shelf including that of the island, then opened the same cabinets again, and perused the refrigerator for the third time.  There wasn't much to eat, just a few ingredients here and there that were a few days old that we had yet to use, among these semi-old unused ingredients were half a baguette (still-soft) and onions.  I made the most delicious yet simple Caramelized Onion Bruschetta, I know it doesn't sound like much: onion ontop of bread, but just imagine... Sweet caramelized onions with a hint of garlic topping a fire-toasted, very slightly charred baguette bread.

1 Lg red onion, peeled and sliced
1 Med white or yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1-2 Cloves of garlic, squished or minced
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 Tbsp of butter
1 Tbsp of brown sugar
1-2 Pinches of kosher salt
1 Pinch of pepper, fresh or ground
4-5 Slices of baguette bread

1.  Heat up the olive oil and the butter in a large deep heavy bottomed pan on med-high heat.

2.  When the foam from the butter is almost completely gone add all the sliced onions, toss to coat and separate.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes until most of the onions have begun to soften but are still slightly stiff.

3.  Add the salt, pepper and brown sugar to the onions and toss to mix.  Continue to cook, tossing occasionally until the onion have noticeably reduced in size.  All the onions should be soft, some onions will be browning.

4.  Give the onions one last toss, cover the pan with the lid and lower the heat to low.  The onions will cook until caramelized for about 12-15 minutes.  Check every so often for the progress and a quick toss.  The onions will be finished cooking when they are all completely soft and caramelized brown.

5.  Remove caramelized onions from the pan and into a bowl large enough to hold them, add the minced or squished garlic (I prefer squished garlic and usually use 2 cloves since I love garlic, you can use less or none if you prefer).  Carefully mix the garlic into the caramelized onions.

6.  On Med to Med-low fire, one at a time, very carefully using tongs and your complete attention toast the slices of baguette bread.  30sec-1min on each side or as toasted as your like them (I like my bread medium toasted this way with a few charred lined).

7.  When all the bread is toasted, top with a good mound of caramelized onions and serve.  The caramelized onions can be served either hot, warm or room temperature.

The simplest cabbage stir-fry imaginable

Sorry to burst the bubbles of all the ladies out there who have become quite taken with Brother Charlie through the adventures of Tummy, I know he can be quite a handsome lad when he's not making all those nasty faces, but he does have a betrothed, a nice young lady who I enjoy calling Webbie Mouse.  Webbie Mouse is of Taiwan descent and so naturally she cooks Taiwanese food... or is it Chinese food?  Probably both.  Brother Charlie says she can make one mean stir-fry, and so I asked Webbie Mouse for a very simple cabbage recipe for a head of cabbage that's been sitting in my refrigerator for almost a week. She gave me a cabbage stir-fry recipe, and it really is the simplest cabbage stir-fry recipe imaginable.  I tried it last night and it was pretty fantastic considering the only thing in it is cabbage, so if you happen to have a whole or even half a cabbage head you don't know what to do with, this is a very good way to use it.

1 head of cabbage washed and roughly sliced into strips
1/2 - 1 tsp of red pepper flakes or none depending on how much heat you prefer
1- 1.5 tbsp of kosher salt
1 tbsp of freshly ground black pepper or regular black pepper
2 cloves garlic minced or squished in a garlic squisher
2/3 c of water
1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil

1.  In a wok or large deep heavy bottomed pan or skillet heat up the vegetable oil on med-high heat.

2.  When the skillet and oil are nice and hot dump all of the cabbage into the pan, it will sizzle- this is a good sign as it means the pan and the oil are heated to the proper temperature.  Add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and with a pair of tongs toss the cabbage around as best you can to coat with oil and mix the spices.  Leave to wilt down for about 2-3 minutes tossing every now and then to check the wilting happening on the bottom of the pan.

3.  When the cabbage has reduced by half in volume (about 2-3 minutes), this does not necessarily mean that half the cabbage is wilted but that the amount of cabbage in the pan is roughly half the size, for me the majority of the cabbage was not wilted but only just beginning to wilt.  At this point add 2/3 cup of water and top the pan with a lid, let sit for about 2-3 minutes to steam and wilt down further.

4.  When you see that the majority of the Cabbage has wilted and there is very little water left at the bottom of the pan (about 2-3 minutes) it is time to take off the lid.  Add the minced or squished garlic straight onto the cabbage and toss to mix the cabbage so that the garlic is distributed as evenly as possible.

5.  Keep heating the cabbage until all is wilted to your desired texture.  I like my cabbage stir-fry wilted but still with a slight bite- after adding the garlic and tossing I heated for a further 1-minute only before taking it off the heat.

6.  Taste to season.

The cabbage stir-fry only contains cabbage and a squish of a couple cloves of garlic, thus the taste is rather simple, Tummy found it rather enjoyable to the palate because of the simplicity.  This cabbage stir-fry is perfect as a side-dish for any deep flavored red-meat entree and is wonderful to eat cold as well!

Cha Cha Chicken Caribbean Cuisine

A little over a year ago I used to live in Santa Barbara, when I lived in Santa Barbara I was neighbors with a good friend of mine, her name was Tamra and she was Jamaican.  I would come over for dinners and she would make THE BEST Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Jamaican stew with ox-tail and little floating dumplings with a side of dirty rice.  So what if I've never had Jamaican cuisine before Tamra's delicious Jamaican meals?  My taste buds don't lie!  If I'm slobbering all over myself and experiencing tunnel vision with each bite it's sure to be because it was that damn good.

Sadly, I moved away to Los Angeles and away from Santa Barbara which also meant no more home-made Jamaican cuisine.  And Los Angeles may have a lot of restaurants but there is a vey real lack of Jamaican restaurants, so when I saw Cha Cha Chicken and Jerk Chicken on the menu I got fairly excited.  For two days Cha Cha Chicken was all I could think about and so Brother Charlie and I cruised into Santa Monica for a nice little walk in the sun, ocean-side and of course, some Cha CHA Chicken!

Cha Cha Chicken is a shack that stands on Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica south of the Santa Monica Pier.  The shack is vibrant with oranges, blue and red.  A walk-up counter is where you order and there is seating on both sides of the shack.

The place is called Cha Cha Chicken and so of course we go for the Cha Cha Chicken on the menu, we think it has to be the best, right?  Afterall, the shack IS named after it!

The Cha Cha Chicken dish comes in 1/4 or 1/2 orders, Brother Charlie and I both get 1/4 order of the Cha Cha Chicken which comes with two sides of your choice, plus a little tiny salad.  I opt on a side of dirty rice and plantains.

Cha Cha Chicken with a side of dirty rice & plantains

The chicken was smothered in sauce or shall I say the sauce sat on top of the chicken, not quite the Jamaican dry-rub jerk-chicken I had my heart set on.  The sauce was slightly sweet and mildy spicy, nothing to call Tamra about, except maybe to tell her to open up a Jerk Shack real soon, she would blow this place out of the water!

The dirty rice was a little too dry and so were the plantains.  I love plantains that are cooked sweet and gooey not tasteless and dry!  At this point I'm crying inside.

Thank god the fresh watermelon juice was delicious!

... But seriously, it was probably the only thing that was.

Yes, I may have come to Cha Cha Chicken with high expectations and yes Cha Cha Chicken would only have gotten a good review had they surpassed the deliciousness Friend Tamra had fed into me, then again... Why wouldn't you go into a restaurant with high expectations?  Your tummy only deserves the best afterall.

And so unfortunately, my hopes and dreams of finding a Jamaican Fave was dashed, instead of finding Cha Cha Chicken I found Cha Cha Nothin!  

Weekend's at Cha Cha Chicken?  The line is out the door and it makes me think 'perhaps these people have never had real Jamaican cuisine before?'  Because if they had, they would take one bite of that Cha Cha Chicken and realize this tastes nothing like Jamaican cuisine.

Brother Charlie & his pet bird who came to grub and instead
ended up with Cha Cha NOTHIN!

The Damage:  $22.00

2 1/4 orders of Cha Cha Chicken
1 Fresh watermelon juice

Cha Cha Chicken
1906 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica CA
(310 581.1684

Fisherman's Outlet

When Brother Charlie suggested seafood in downtown Los Angeles I didn't know what to think, being an optimist I kept an open mind but really in the back of my head I was thinking, 'seafood in downtown Los Angeles?! Uh... really?'

Located not too far from skid row and the police department with free parking was a place called Fisherman's Outlet.  The men taking orders wore blue work shirts with name tags mended into their shirts and their heads adorned with hair nets.

Outside seating was abundant.

Connected to the Fisherman's Outlet restaurant was a fishmongers' section with fresh seafood to buy.

Brother Charlie ordered the Char-broiled Wild Alaskan Halibut which was suggested by one of the guys working the front taking orders.  Char-broiled on the outside and yet moist on the inside the fish was fresh and tasty, the dish was accompanied with rice pilaf and a mango salsa, the best part however was the butter garlic sauce.  A piece of the Wild Alaskan Halibut dipped in the butter garlic sauce was... pure joy, this is truly the only way to describe it.

I get greedy, this is the only way to explain my ordering samplers, any samplers from anywhere.  Sometimes I want to taste everything, and so... I get the sampler, as I did this day.  The sampler included breaded and fried shrimp, Maryland Crabcake and fried catfish.  The dish was accompanied by a pile of french fries and cole-slaw.  I've had many breaded fried shrimps in my life as well as fried fish, but none that could out-do the freshness of the seafood here at Fisherman's Outlet.  Most fried shrimp and fried fish end up tasting simply fried, at Fisherman's Outlet it tastes of shrimp and catfish!  It was amazing and took me by complete surprise, the crab in the Maryland Crabcake tasted of Crab!  Unbelievable!  This is honestly the best experience I've had with breaded fried shrimp, catfish and Maryland Crabcakes, it just goes to show the seafood here is indeed fresh and oddly enough we found it in the middle of downtown Los Angeles.


Brother Charlie and I shared a small bowl of New England Clam Chowder which was delicious.  Note:  If you are ordering the clam chowder as a side to another dish, do get the small as it is still a lot of chowder, unless your a complete chowder head, in which case by all means go to town and get the large.

I did enjoy the sampler very much but if I had to make a suggestion to newcomers I would suggest the Char-broiled Wild Alaskan Halibut with the garlic butter which was absolutely lovely!  Plus, it's healthier for you.

Brother Charlie trying to look cool

Brother Charlie trying to look EXTRA cool

The Damage:  $33.00 +/-

1 Sampler:  Fried Catfish, fried shrimp, crab cake
1 Sm New England clam chowder
1 Char broiled Wild Alaskan Halibut

529 So. Central Ave.
LA CA 90013
(213) 627.7231

Ord Hoyka Noodle

I love the earth, I really do, planet earth is the only home I've got- you've got- we've all got... so I do my part, I do what I can.  I recycle, I abandoned my beloved vehicle and became a pedestrian/bicyclist, I carpool, I try to share my 'save the world' knowledge with those who will listen... and not listen.  So when my pedestrian ass had to pick up a pair of concert tickets in Hollywood who did I call for a favor, a ride?  Brother Charlie.  Apparently being an earth-loving tree-hugger has it's downside because when you call in a favor you have to do one in return, today it was buy Brother Charlie lunch.

Ord Hoyka Noodle was the place.  A hip urbanized Thai hole-in-the wall noodle shop specializing in noodle soup that is most comparable to that of the Vietnamese Pho.  

The Ord Hoyka Noodle soup comes in a small and large portion and contains rice noodles, bean sprouts, diagonal slices of green beans, fish balls, bbq pork, pork, liver, herbs, chili peppers.  The broth is spicy, warm and delicious but in all honesty doesn't compare to the Vietnamese Pho which I think has more flavor.

A plate of mixed vegetables to share.  Broccoli, sliced carrots, bean sprouts, cabbage, green beans, mushrooms in a slightly sweet brown sauce.  The vegetables were delicious also but nothing special.

The Thai iced tea bordered on the too sweet.

Overall, the Ord Hoyka Noodle soup was delicious as was the mixed vegetables, but none of it was truly special and mouth-waters.  The price is affordable, the atmosphere casual, the service fast and friendly- for lunch on a weekday it's great but if you're looking for a real experience with Thai noodle soup this is probably not the place to come.

The Damage:  $20.00 +/-

1 Thai Iced Tea
1 Sm. Ord Hoyka noodle soup
1 Lg. Ord Hoyka noodle soup
1 Mixed veg

Ord Hoyka Noodle
5401 Hollywood Blvd
LA CA 90027
(323) 463.1339

Cafe Midi Pt. 5, Two avocado Halve Salad

11:30 A.M. Mr. Borscht and Tummy crawled their way out of bed and into the seats of Cafe Midi, coffee was their first agenda and as they sipped and perused the menu their conversation went something like this,

"How come weekends seem more tiring than weekdays?"

And their you have it, their lives summed up in two simple lines.

12:10 P.M.  Mr. Borscht orders the Peasant Omelette again, while Tummy and her adventurous streak goes for the Two avocado halve salad.

For fifteen minutes as Tummy and Mr. Borscht await their food, they sit, they drink, they make fun of the black and white photographs on the walls, they eavesdrop on the conversation of the two Australian women sitting next to them, one of the ladies' say "bloody exciting!"  This will prove to be a line that Mr. Borscht and Tummy will say all day after agreeing upon how they love the sound of it.

12:25 P.M. The food arrives, and as the Two avocado halve salad is being placed before Tummy one of the Australian ladies' say "that looks bloody good", and in Tummy's head she does have to agree,"the food does look bloody good".

One half of the avocado is filled with Tuna salad and the other half is filled with Curried Mango Egg Chutney.  It is the kind of brunch entree that summons wide-eyed stares on all sides and a discussion from a couple of guys sitting two tables down.  At this point Tummy feels proud of her choice, everyone is talking about her plate and somehow this makes her feel special, but in all honesty she doesn't understand what the big deal is.. until she begins to eat it, and then Tummy realizes... the Two avocado halve salad tastes much better than it looks.

Although the tuna salad was quite delicious with a crunch from the bits of apples and celery it did not stand a chance against the Curry Mango Egg Chutney which was exotic and flavorful in a whole different way, it tasted of spice from a world afar, and as you delved deeper into the Curry Mango Egg Chutney you were faced with a fantastic surprise, the mango chutney, a gooey, sweet pool of mango chutney sitting below the Curried Egg.  This indeed was a "bloody great surprise" to Tummy who went at it like a 5-year old who got down to the tootsie in the Tootsie-Roll Pop.

The Smoothie special of the day was a mixture of strawberry, banana, cantaloup.  Indeed a healthy smoothie is what you get here at Cafe Midi, upon first sip one can tell that no sugar or milk products were added, simply fruit and water, what a wonderful change from the so-called healthy smoothies that include ice-cream!... Which really isn't all that healthy for you.

The Damage:  $42.30

1 Mocha
1 Peasant omelette
1 Fruit smoothie
1 Black coffee
1 Two avocado halve salad

Cafe Midi
148 S. La Brea Ave
LA CA 90036
(323) 939.9860


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