Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pasadena Wrap Up (Home Edition)

Today, a rundown of the things I cooked at my parents' house.

One of the reasons I stayed so long in town was for my dad's birthday (it was a big one). I asked him what he wanted for dinner.

"White bread and water."

I said this was not an option and he should choose something else. He said a small steak would be great. So I went to Taylor's Ol' Fashioned Meat Market and picked up some Spencer ribeyes.

A few minutes on the grill on each side, then a few minutes resting.

It was glorious, USDA Prime steak, buttery soft. (Although my dad likes his steak much more well-done than my mom and I, so his was cooked far beyond the steaks in this picture.)

I wanted something for lunch one day that wasn't from a restaurant or fried or microwaved, and chicken fajitas sounded great. Taylor's has them already mixed: peppers, onions and chicken in a marinade. I bought a pound and a half and cooked it in a skillet.

And then into a tortilla with lettuce, sour cream and Taco Lita hot sauce. It was fantastic.


Either that night or the next I got home after having been out watching football with some friends, and quite hungry. There was enough of the chicken and peppers left over for me to throw them in a tortilla with cheese and grill it. It sure as hell beat going by Carl's Jr., you know?

For another meal, burgers sounded good, so it was back to Taylor's for some of their ground beef. (Their "leanest" ground beef is my favorite ground beef I have ever purchased anywhere, including my new love Paisanos in Brooklyn. Over the years, when you have seen me make burgers, sliders, tacos, or anything for my friends and family that involves ground beef, there is a 99% chance it came from Taylor's. Not once has there been a complaint or problem.)

I grilled the burger patties, melting some Tillamook cheddar on top, and adding caramelized onions.

And then a healthy amount of steak sauce.

Damn this was a good burger.

I slow-cooked a brisket one day in beer and chili sauce, then removed it and sliced it up and put it on a bun.

A slice of Swiss cheese on top and Russian dressing.

Then topped it with slaw. Another great sandwich.

There were still tortillas left over from the fajitas, and there was certainly plenty of brisket, so the next day when my mom and I were trying to decided what to do for lunch, I suggested quesadillas. Into mine I put brisket, blue cheese, steak sauce, and sauteed onions. My mom's received brisket, cheddar, mozzarella, and barbecue sauce.

I grilled the quesadillas for a couple of minutes and added more cheese and a drizzling of steak sauce to mine. My mom ruined hers by adding fresh slices of avocado, but whatever, it was her quesadilla.

Obviously I love Trader Joe's, but I certainly miss Fresh & Easy, too. I went by there one day and got a couple of items for lunch: Firecracker Shrimp, and Herb & Parmesan Breaded Chicken.

The instructions said to cook the shrimp for ten minutes... that seemed excessive. So I cooked the veggies and sauce for that time, then cranked up the heat and tossed the shrimp around for about two minutes. They turned out great. The sauce was spicier than I expected, which is a good thing. I served it all over jasmine rice.

The chicken was good, too. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the shrimp, but I liked it. (The shrimp had been raw and I cooked them; the chicken was already cooked, so it was much more likely that it would dry out when reheated.) But we ate most of it.

On one of my last nights in town I made pizzas, using Fresh & Easy's dough as the base. This one here is my favorite pizza and will not surprise anyone who has been reading this blog for long: roasted garlic and fresh basil.

The second pizza is my mom's favorite: sausage (Taylor's sweet Italian sausage, of course) and mushrooms.

And I dug out the California Pizza Kitchen recipe book to make what was my favorite of their pizzas when I was a teenager: the teriyaki chicken pizza. Chicken breasts, yellow peppers, green onion, and a sauce made of orange marmalade, teriyaki sauce and brown sugar.

I think I only have one more place in Pasadena to write about, and then the vacation posts are all done.


Amy said...

Have you seen that fresh and easy may be closing?

JustinM said...

I have, Amy. To be honest, though I really like the place, I'm surprised they have existed this long. I'm not sure what it is - are they a Trader Joe's-type place selling their own label products? If so, they should have a lot more items.

Or are they a place selling staples like Coke, Tide, Heinz ketchup and Kleenex? Because if they're THAT, then their prices aren't all that great.

In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, I bet a place like F&E would be really successful. But in the Southwest, I don't know that people who need to stock up on a lot of items will actually drive to F&E. (Whenever we had to stock up on a lot of household items, we always went to Target or Ralph's.)

Amy W said...

again, love your blog, I read it everyday. I am the one that keeps bugging you to try Sal & Carmines on the upper east side, BUT I have some new intel for you. My italian buddy (who lives in NYC) has found his new absolute favorite place in NYC - Rana in chelsea market. He is a good italian boy from Long Island (His mother is old school and has a whole kitchen set up in the basement like the old school italians do. I bet it is amazing. AND the very best sandwich I have ever had (in my LIFE) is the steak sandwich at Pastis in the meat packing district. TRUST me, this will BLOW YOUR MIND and haunt your dream, it is that good. I should not oversell, but I have confidence you will agree.

JustinM said...

Hi Amy. Sal & Carmine's sounds doable one of these days, but I went to Pastis many years ago and was not impressed. True, I didn't have the steak sandwich, but I don't think I'll be going back.