Summer BBQ @ Tastemade!

Last weekend, my friend Mark and I attended a fun, lively summer barbecue hosted by Tastemade.

If you haven’t heard of or checked out Tastemade yet, you’ve gotta! Think of a young food channel meets the playful food section of Buzzfeed. This fresh, hip company creates awesome videos (both instructional and conversational) about food. Tastemade also recently launched an amazing app any foodie will absolutely love! (I’ll discuss the AMAZING app in more detail in a separate post)

The event took place outside the Tastemade studios in Santa Monica, complete with live music by a country/bluegrass band! Chefs from YouTube’s best bbq channels cooked up delicious bite sized treats, while attendees tasted and voted on the best food! Honestly, everything was delicious, so casting the votes was a hard decision. The ice cold drinks, diverse selection of barbecue and even some homemade ice cream made it my food heaven. Check out some pictures I snapped at the event:

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Look at all that meat!

Look at all that meat!

Delicious sides- cole slaw, black eyed peas and potato salad

Delicious sides- cole slaw, black eyed peas and potato salad

Ice cold beer with naan, bbq and chutney along with bbq skewer... so yummy

Ice cold beer with naan, brisket and chutney along with bbq skewer… so yummy

 

Three Weavers, an LA microbrewery with BOMB beer

Three Weavers, an LA microbrewery with BOMB beer

Smooth, creamy homemade ice cream by McConnell's Ice Cream

Smooth, creamy homemade ice cream by McConnell’s Ice Cream

Mark and I reppin' Texas with the flag

Mark and I reppin’ Texas with the flag

 

 

 

 

 

DeLuscious Goes Vegan!

DeLuscious Cookies, an LA-based bakery that serves up some of the best cookies in the city, recently released a brand new line of vegan cookies. Ask any dessert fan (that pretty much includes everyone!) in Los Angeles, and they’ll tell you DeLuscious bakes the most delicious, decadent desserts in town.
I couldn’t help but feel giddy when a cute box of DeLuscious cookies arrived at my door. The packaging was simple yet sophisticated, with a playful ribbon to polish it off. Pink wrapping tissue surrounded the cookies, which are individually wrapped and sealed with a brand sticker.
I’ve tried various gluten free and vegan baked good options around Los Angeles, but they always fail in some respect – too dry or too artificial tasting. DeLuscious, though, has put in the time and hard work to craft the perfect vegan and gluten free variations on classic treats. The DeLuscious vegan and gluten free creations are hard to distinguish from their regular cookies that contain flour and animal products. Those who, whether by necessity or choice, are vegan or gluten-free will rejoice at the amazing flavors that are compatible with their dietary restrictions!
The box of cookies included three products from the new DeLuscious line: vegan gluten-free chocolate chip, vegan chocolate chip and vegan oatmeal raisin. DeLuscious also included the regular chocolate chip for comparison to the vegan/gluten-free options.
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The regular chocolate chip was thin, chewy and not too sweet. The rich dark chocolate chips were evenly allocated throughout the cookie, and the dough portion was lightly sweet, balancing the rich chocolate flavor.
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Vegan chocolate chip, like the other cookies, is moist and chewy. I had a hard time distinguishing between the regular chocolate chip and the vegan chocolate chip flavors, which is definitely a good sign for those of you who have specific dietary needs!
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The gluten free vegan chocolate chip is much thicker than the original chocolate chip cookie. The cookie crumbles easier than the vegan chocolate chip and the regular, but is not dry. The gluten free vegan cookie is slightly sweeter and buttery tasting than the vegan chocolate chip. DeLuscious has created this cookie that retains all of the buttery, sweet goodness of a regular chocolate chip cookie, but without the flour and animal products… I don’t know how they did it! 
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The last vegan option, the vegan oatmeal raisin reminded me of the cinnamon and spice flavors of fall and winter desserts. The cookie is dense and includes plenty of sweet raisins, creating a perfect texture. DeLuscious also offers vegan cookie options in cinnamon sugar, peanut butter and chocolate decadence. I’m sure these options are just as delicious as the flavors I sampled!
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The representatives at DeLuscious also included some of their most popular flavors, cinnamon sugar, chocolate decadence, the red velvet white chocolate brownie and the limited edition kimchee sriracha peanut butter cookie!
The cinnamon sugar cookie contains a thin, crunchy layer of cinnamon atop a chewy, buttery cookie. You can smell the cookie the moment it comes out of the packaging. The cookie itself is not too sweet, a result mainly of the thinness.
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Chocolate decadence is a brownie-cookie hybrid that will quickly satisfy any chocolate cravings. The gooey, moist center will have you thinking that these popped right out of the oven. A thin, crispy sugar glaze covers the entire cookie from top to bottom, providing a pleasant initial crunch at first bite. The balance of texture gives the dessert a nice dose of both cookie and brownie qualities. Chocolate decadence was by far the richest cookie in the bunch.
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Kimchee sriracha Peanut butter, which is a limited edition cookie, has a unique fluffy consistency that sets it apart from the others in the bunch. At first chew, the peanut butter flavor sets in, but after a few bites you’ll discover the spicy aftertaste. The combination was unlike any I have ever tasted. Peanut bits provide a subtle crunch that nicely balanced the fluffiness of the cookie.
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The red velvet white chocolate brownie has a half-baked consistency that is completely decadent. White chocolate chips pack on the sweetness, which is a perfect supplement to the light chocolate flavor of the red velvet brownie. This one would be overwhelming to eat in one sitting – I recommend splitting this treat with a friend.
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Along with these amazing treats, DeLuscious bakes monthly “Couture Dozens” that include a variety of cool, unique flavors. The August dozen includes cranberry white chocolate walnut, red velvet white chocolate brownie, a gooey butter cookie with dulce de leche and chocolate chip.

DeLuscious cookies are so decadent and packed with flavor that you will want to enjoy them slowly and savor every last bite. The cookies are perfect, regardless of whether they’re meant for satisfying your own sweet tooth or for brightening someone else’s day. If you’re looking for a creative, delicious gift to give a friend or loved one, consider sending them a box of DeLuscious cookies. Ordering from their website is simple and quick- check out their order page here. My experience with DeLuscious from first email to first bite of the amazing cookies was impeccable. The employees are warm, responsive and made sure that my experience was positive! Thanks DeLuscious!

Badmaash LA

I love what’s happening downtown! New restaurants are popping up at a fast rate, revitalizing the area that was once only a business district. A friend of mine recently discovered Badmaash LA, so a group of us tried it out!

The first thing I noticed about Badmaash was the awesome vibe – with a friendly staff and hip, modern decor, I knew this place was going to be a dining experience. My group sat in the lofted second floor of the restaurant. The walls are painted chalkboard and are filled with various Hindi sayings and random drawings. Bollywood film posters adorn the walls, giving the place a modern feel.

Now onto the menu. I’m a huge fan of Indian food so I geeked out over the various dishes that combine Indian flavor with other known dishes – the first thing that caught my eye was the Masala Fries! As the tradition when we go to Indian restaurants, my friends and I split a few dishes. For three people, 5-6 dishes was about right to be full by the end. We ordered the Masala Fries, Butter Chicken Samosas, Papri Chaat, Seekh Kabaab, and Butter Chicken.

The portions are small, but big enough to split and have 3-4 bites per person. My favorite dish was the Seekh Kabaab because of the spice and tenderness of the meat. The Masala Fries were basically fries with Indian Spices, good but not something I would order again.

Overall, I think Badmaash is a great place to hang out with friends, order some Kingfisher beer and have a few bites to eat. The atmosphere and the small plates make it a good place to relax and have fun. However, if you are looking for Indian food with big portions, more variety and a more traditional flavor, check out some other places around LA such as India Sweet House or India’s Flavor in Glendale.
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3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

One of my freshman year roommates taught me how to make these simple peanut butter cookies. This is by far the most simple cookie recipe… all you need is:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix the three ingredients in a bowl, place the dough in chunks on a cookie sheet, then pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. These are so simple and taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven but have cooled for about 5 minutes. If you have a cookie craving late at night but don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen, this is the perfect treat.
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Weekend French Toast

Normally I do not prefer sweets in the morning, but sometimes you just have to make cinnamon rolls or french toast to mix things up. Last weekend, my friend and I made french toast loaded with strawberries, blueberries, jam and powdered sugar. I never keep syrup because I rarely eat pancakes and french toast, so I just worked with what I already had. The copious amounts of sugar may not be healthy, but who said you can’t enjoy a delicious breakfast every once in a while?



Quick & Easy Cooking with Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Last Friday I attended a food event at Traveler’s Bookcase, a precious, whimsical bookstore full of globes and literature about every place you could imagine. Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, author of Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking, talked about her cooking and travel experiences.

Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee writes about food, travel, arts and culture. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Cecelia was raised in Los Angeles and graduated from UC San Diego. After college, she lived in Mexico where she learned about the regional cooking. She even wrote the Frommer’s Guide to South Korea, during which she visited every single place she wrote about during her seven month adventure. After hearing about her traveling experiences and opportunities, I’m convinced she has one of the coolest jobs ever.

Besides exploring the world, Cecilia also develops simple, easy to follow recipes. During this event, she featured her latest book – Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking. Oftentimes I find recipes that claim to be simple and easy only to discover that they involve 15 ingredients and time I just don’t have. Thankfully, Cecelia’s book doesn’t deceive, the recipes are actually very quick and easy. She even timed herself when cooking the food – if it took her over 30 minutes, then she revised the recipe to fit the time limit.

I walked away from the event with some interesting food facts:

1. To determine the heat level of a chile, simply cut the top portion off, swipe your finger along the inside and touch it to your tongue. The heat level of that quick taste will tell you the heat of the overall chile.

2. Korean and Mexican food are similar in that both are regional and seasonal. The ingredients are based on the spices, vegetables and other ingredients available to the region. Also, both have bold flavors. The main difference is that Korean cooking does not involve baking and the food, because it is eaten with chopsticks, must be bite sized.

3. Casita Mexicana, is indeed the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. Everyone at the event seemed to agree!

After the event, I drank wine and ate several light and subtly sweet Mexican wedding cookies… and to add to the food bliss, the store owners served up a dish from Cecelia’s book – vegetable quesadillas with a cilantro sour cream sauce. The food and good conversations were a wonderful way to end the evening.

I can’t wait to attend more events at Traveler’s Bookcase!

Traveler’s Bookcase | 8375 West Third Street | Los Angeles

Facebook: Travelers-Bookcase

Twitter: @travelersbooks