Where in the World is The Hearty Serving: New Orleans 2013


In desperate need of a good getaway, two of my good friends and I decided to take a a ladies trip to New Orleans. While seeing the sights and nightlife of Bourbon and Frenchmen Street, we collected some great stories and met some fun people along the way. Absolutely jetlagged, but the trip was worth it!

(Sorry to disappoint – not much food or recipes to go with this post – just wanted to update with why I’ve been so silent. A recipe to come soon!)

Thanks and happy (southern) eats,


Make It: Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

In an effort to reuse some of the noodles and veggies that I used yesterday for my Thai Fresh Spring Rolls, I chose to make another favorite and a close relative of what I made yesterday: a Vermicelli Noodle Bowl.

Vermicelli Noodle Bowl:


  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Shrimp and Noodles:

  • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 skewers
  • 8 medium shrimp, with shells
  • 1 (8 ounce) package rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup finely chopped lettuce
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pickled carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped diakon radish
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped Thai basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts

Whisk together vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes in small bowl. Set the sauce aside.

Heat vegetable oil a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook and stir and softened and lightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Skewer 4 shrimp on each skewer and grill until they turn pink and are charred on the outside, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Set aside.

Note: I used the precooked shrimp that you can buy at the fish and poultry counter at the market, saves time and you don’t have to worry about extra fat since all they do is boil it. I also used some of the noodles that I already had prepared, so it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add vermicelli noodles and cook until softened, 12 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water, stirring to separate the noodles.

Assemble the vermicelli bowl by placing the cooked noodles in one half of each serving bowl and the lettuce and bean sprouts in the other half. Top each bowl with cucumbers, carrots, daikon, cilantro, Thai basil, mint, peanuts, and the caramelized shallots. Serve with shrimp skewers on top and sauce on the side. Pour sauce over the top and toss thoroughly to coat before eating. (I microwaved my sauce for about 40 seconds to make it warm before tossing it in with my noodles, makes all the difference.)

Thanks and happy eats,



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Make It: Thai Fresh Spring Rolls

In trying to be healthier, I wanted to eat clean while trying other types of ethnic cooking (thus making lentils a few weeks ago.)

So, this week, I thought I would try making one of my Thai favorites: Fresh Spring Rolls with tofu and shrimp, complete with Soy Ginger dipping sauce. Really not too hard to do, it just takes patience and finess when dealing with the sticky rice paper wrappers. Safeway surprisingly had everything I was looking for, but most of these ingredients can be found at your local Asian market or online.

Thai Fresh Spring Rolls:

  • 5 ounces thin rice stick noodles
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 pound unpeeled small shrimp, cleaned and cooked
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 large cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil
  • 12 (8 1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers

Note: If you like your rolls spicier, you can also add some chili paste to the inside of the wrapper. These rolls are pretty forgiving so if you want to add any other veggies like lettuce, sliced peppers, or sliced mushrooms, feel free. DO NOT overstuff your rolls; the paper is a fragile creature and can easily rip if the stuffing is too intense. This recipe was adapted and modified from Alton Brown’s recipe for spring rolls, but feel free to add your own spin on it as well.

Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil



Soak the rice sticks in enough hot water to cover by 1 inch for 10 – 15 minutes, until soft and pliable but not overly mushy.

Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil in a large pot set over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Add the shrimp and cook until just firm, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the cooked shrimp to a cutting board and cool for 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel, devein, and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Return the water-soy sauce to a boil. Drain the rice stick noodles and add to the hot soy-water. Cook until tender, approximately 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, chili paste, and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl.

Drain the noodles in a colander. Add the noodles to the lime juice mixture, toss, and set aside while preparing the vegetables.

Toss the cucumber, carrot, cilantro, and mint together in a small bowl.

Fill a pie dish with warm water. Dip 1 rice paper wrapper into the water for 10 seconds, then transfer to a cutting board until the wrapper is pliable and slightly tacky, approximately 1 minute. Best to do it one at a time, to make sure that the wrappers don’t stick to each other.

Place 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture on the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper nearest to you. Spoon 2 tablespoons chopped shrimp on top of the vegetables. Top with 1/4 cup noodles. Bring the bottom edge of the wrap tightly over the filling, and then fold in the 2 sides. Finish rolling from bottom to top until the entire wrapper is rolled. Be careful not to tear the rice paper. Place on a parchment-lined half sheet pan and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the remaining wrappers until the filling is gone. Serve with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce or your favorite Peanut Sauce.

Don’t get me wrong: the first few rolls were definitely not pretty. Once you get the rhythm down, your rolls should start to look more like the rolls you see at your local Thai restaurant. Work in progress but I think for the first time making them from scratch, it was definitely a win!

Thanks and happy eats,


Local Shoutout: La Penca Azul (Formerly La Pinata #3)

Throughout the Bay Area, Mexican restaurants old and new are a dime a dozen. But finding a good one with quality ingredients, culinary expertise, and old family recipes with new inspiration that come through on every plate is a much rarer find. Enter here: La Penca Azul.

Formerly part of the La Pinata chain, the owners decided to split off and make their main Alameda location into it’s own thing. La Penca Azul, which means The Blue Petal referring to the tequila making process, has a fantastic, rather lengthy menu and a full service tequila bar with a great selection of tequilas local and from all over the latin world.

One of my favorites, pictured above, is the “Joyce special:” fresh sautéed shrimp, a filet of tilapia, and lots of fresh veggies. Perfect away to enjoy the mexican flavors without all the carbs. If you’re around the area and need a quality margarita and street style tacos, I highly recommend a visit.

Thanks and happy eats,


Make it: Shrimp Po’ Boy Wrap/Tartine


Such a gorgeous day in San Francisco today! Perfect for drinking some summer shandy’s and frying up some shrimp.

My favorite culinary exploring partner/boyfriend had his heart set on sandwiches for lunch today. We decided to spruce up this recipe for the classic Shrimp Po’ Boy by Jeff Mauro a.k.a Food Network’s The Sandwich King.





In an effort to cut some carbs and focus more on the the contents, we switched out the hefty dutch roll for a low-calorie, high fiber wrap. We then piled high with more veggies than the King asked for, so it basically turned into an open-face tartine/shrimp salad hybrid.


Vegetable oil, for frying
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay (we used regular cajun seasoning instead)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper shrimp
1/2 cup buttermilk (we switched it out for regular 1% milk)
2 teaspoons Sriracha (consider adding more or less to taste)
1 egg
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied
4 Soft Hoagie Rolls, brushed with butter and slightly toasted in the oven
Horseradish Remoulade, recipe follows
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced into rounds
8 leaves green leaf lettuce
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced


Fill a Dutch oven halfway with oil and heat to 375 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, seafood seasoning and sprinkle with salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, Sriracha and egg and set aside.

Place the shrimp into the buttermilk mixture, let the excess drip off, then dredge in the flour mixture and shake off any excess. Place the shrimp onto a wire-racked baking sheet. Repeat until all shrimp are breaded.


Fry the shrimp in batches, not overcrowding the oil, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Place the shrimp onto a paper-towel-lined-plate. Repeat until all the shrimp are fried. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spread both sides of the rolls heavily with the Horseradish Remoulade. Place the shrimp on top and then the tomatoes, lettuce and some onions.

Horseradish Remoulade: (Worth buying all the ingredients, this makes the dish!)
1/2 cups mayonnaise (we switched out low-fat mayo)
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice (we love our lemon so we put in half a fresh lemon, it offsets the horseradish)
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard (chunky! the type of mustard you’d find in a German restaurant)
1/2 medium shallot, cut into chunks (1/4 cup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Add the mayonnaise, capers, Sriracha, horseradish, lemon juice, relish, vinegar, mustard, shallots and sprinkle with salt and pepper in a food processor. Blend until slightly chunky.

Whether you choose to make it his way or with my changes, this one is a winner. The shrimp turned out crispy and well-seasoned, pairing perfectly with the fresh veggies and remoulade.

Thanks for reading and happy eats,


Local Shoutout: Tapas and Scoops


Honestly, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t explore the Mission district of San Francisco enough. Such delicious yummies to be discovered there!

My fellow foodie friend and I decided to try a tapas bar we’d never been to: Picaro. This spanish-themed rustic gem is right in the heart of the Mission, near 16th and Valencia. Of course, a large pitcher of their highly acclaimed sangria was a must!



We decided to pair it with some garlic chicken (which ended up being more red sauce than garlic), grilled artichoke hearts, snapper strips with garlic mayo. Side note: bones galore, in both the fish and the chicken. Eat slowly and carefully.





Struck by the bright idea that sweets were needed badly after our tapas, it was time for a trip to the legendary Bi-Rite Creamery

I decided to try their seasonal Honey Lavender flavor. Two words: MIND BLOWN. It got even crazier when I decided to make it the base of my sundae. BEST CHOICE EVER. Splash of orange infused olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt, topped with hot fudge. Quirky yet amazing.




My foodie partner in crime decked hers with oodles of toffee on top of her cinnamon snickerdoodle ice cream and never looked back.


Another night in the San Francisco complete due to yummy food feats. Both locations serve up locally sourced ingredients and amazing options, worth a trip next time you’re willing to take a walk from BART.




Thanks for reading and happy eats,