Brunch Party

Hello everyone, so last month , we threw my dad a birthday brunch in our backyard and I can honestly say that it was perfect. My dad is the kind of person that doesn’t like to go out on his birthdays and would much rather spend the day at home with his family and friends because he goes out to eat so often that he is literally tired of restaurant food. Therefore, my cousins and I decided to throw him this surprise brunch party.

To throw a birthday brunch you need a plan and the first step to your plan is the menu. Get together with your cousins and/or parents and map out a menu. Divide and conquer is the strategy. Have one person make the eggs dish, one make the sweet breakfast dish such as (french toast, homemade waffles, pancakes, or crepes) , and one person make the sides such as (breakfast potatoes, hash browns, fruit salad, and sausages). A fun way to serve the sweet breakfast dish is to have a toppings buffet with all of the yummy treats we all love such as whipped cream, nutella, strawberries, caramel, etc.

Remember to keep the menu short and simple because less is more. Here is our menu:

 

Birthday Brunch Menu

Italian Frittatta  cherry tomatoes, basil, mint

 Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

 Italian Breakfast Potatoes onions, bell peppers, garden rosemary & thyme, jalapenos, cheese

 Mango Cake

 Watermelon Mint Agua Fresca

 

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Set the table with your prettiest plates and cutlery. We used our Portugese printed plates from the World Market , oversized water goblets, and plain cloth napkins. Set the table with your favorite tablecloth, this one is a new satin sheet we had lying around the house. Its fun print and soft fabric made it a perfect tablecloth. A runner also makes for a great decor piece and this floral one is perfect for the summer. Last but most importantly, have a bunch of fresh flowers in the center of the table as the centerpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

Ferry Building Marketplace

The Ferry Building Marketplace is a haven for food lovers. It has numerous local eateries and cafes that create artisanal, organic food that is scrumptious and sustainable. From cheese shops with local cheeses, handmade pastries, organic coffee houses, and other breakfast/lunch time eateries – The Ferry Building has something that will satisfy any palette. It also has some cookware shops, small grocery shops, and flower shops of the garden. This place is THE food lover’s sanctuary in the heart of San Francisco with a view of the gorgeous Bay.

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Outside the Ferry Building

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Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

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Soft Scrambled Eggs with herbs

 

Bon Appetit,

Shiza

LA’s Stunning Cafe’s & Restaurants

Hello everyone. I know that it has been awhile , but we are finally back on! So we are gonna start the year off on a delicious note, with a list of the yummiest places around LA to eat. I love to cook it and try both trending and hidden restaurants wherever I go. I have been to MANY restaurants in Los Angeles, but these ones definitely hold a special place in my heart.

Angelini’s Osteria – 7313 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036

If you are looking for some down home, traditional Italian food this is THE place. The restaurant has a rustic and cozy atmosphere, with an exposed brick wall, large pit fire oven, and be sure to make reservations before hand because the restaurant has only one dining room and some patio seating and it is always packed. The menu is impeccable with food that could have been your Nonna’s food but with a modern twist.

 

Grilled Prime Rib Eye // Swiss Chard Ravioli ( I promise you this is the greatest ravioli that you will ever taste) Who knew Swiss Chard could taste this good?

 

El Floridita Cuban Restaurant – 1253 Vine Street , Los Angeles, CA 90038

This upbeat, authentic Cuban restaurant will take you to the Caribbean and back . With friendly service, nightly dance and music performances, and a menu in which almost everything comes with a side of rice, beans, and fried plantains you will never want to leave!

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Tilapia en Mojo, a Cuban scampi sauce. The sauce is packed with flavors of garlic, tomatoes, onions, and spices and the tilapia is an excellent, delicate choice of seafood to pair with the bold Mojo sauce.

Nobu, West Hollywood – 903 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

This is the shining gem of the LA fine dining food scene. Japanese food takes a whole new level with extraordinary entrees and sushi that have a Peruvian flair.
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These deceptively, un-spicy, Shishito Peppers are crunchy, sweet, and addicting. Hands down the BEST appetizer ever.

Tender Greens- 9523 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

If your a looking for a lunch place that is healthy, fast, and has many vegetarian friendly/plant based options, this should be number 1 on your list. Tender Greens has the BEST salads from varieties such as Vegan Salads ,Backyard Steak, and Tuna Nicoise topped with quail eggs are my particular favorite.  They also have refreshing homemade lemonades such as mint lemonade.

Aroma Bakery and Cafe- 7373 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Aroma has been one of my favorite breakfast spots for as long as I can remember. It’s chic and has no wait time because its a large amount of space both inside and out (because we all know that Brunch in LA always has a wait time, sadly) , Aroma doesn’t follow this norm and gets you seated right away which is one its best qualities asides from the spectacular Middle Eastern inspired breakfast.

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Knowing how to  make Shakshuka at home, I know what makes a Shakshuka (Eggs in Spiced Tomato Sauce) truly spectacular- Harissa and the right amount of Ras El Hanout (Moroccan spice blend) and this particular one hits all of the right notes. Having travelled to Israel, has set the bar very high as to what i classify as a good Shakshuka, and I can honestly say that this is the most well done Shakshuka that I have had in any restaurant in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

This Middle Eastern platter is a glimpse as to what a traditional Middle Eastern breakfast consists of which is IMG_3213an array of fresh cheese such as feta, hummus,  traditional creamy yoghurt called labneh which has a sweet and tangy taste and is definitely my favorite thing on the platter.

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Barney’s Beanery Redondo Beach – 100 Fishermans Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

For a casual , Mexican -Californian breakfast , Barney’s Beanery has a lot to choose from. You can order the Mexi-Cali favorites such as Huevos Rancheros, Ranchero Omlette, and Chilaquiles or opt for a simple American breakfast of pancakes. My favorite thing to order are the Chilaquiles with the classic Chocolate milkshake.

 

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The Chilaquiles are tortilla chips topped with scrambled eggs and a red chili sauce, served with refried beans and rice on the side, and guacamole and salsa.

 

 

 

Il Cielo – 9018 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

This beautiful house turned Italian restaurant with a charming courtyard has an excellent selection of traditional Italian cuisine. However, I personally adore the desserts more than the food itself. The gorgeous Panna Cotta was hands down , sublime. I would come here specifically for the desserts . The silky , subtle texture of the Vanilla bean Panna Cotta is perfectly complemented with the strawberry coulis and fresh berries complete the decadent dessert. The Tiramuisu was delicious but did not match the unparalleled beauty and taste of the Panna Cotta.

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Brunch @ Blu Jam Cafe- 7371 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

 

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Make sure you arrive at this Melrose / West Hollywood neighborhood brunch gem right when it opens because if it hits 10 AM, the cafe has a long line outside of it ( More than an hour …#hectic ) However, the Crunchy French Toast with a Hot Vanilla “Milk”(kinda like a sauce) is a breakfast that is truly worth the wait. This is by far, my favorite french toast in the whole world. Its the culinary balance of textures from the creamy custard like bread to the crunchy bite on the outside and the luscious hot vanilla bean milk all of which pair perfectly with tart seasonal berries and a light dusting of powdered sugar. Also , they have fresh juices, made with fruits that you want. A healthy juice can help you forget having just devour a french toast a few moments ago.

 

XOXO,

Shiza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeade Strawberry Whipped Butter

Whats better than strawberries & cream? Strawberry Whipped Butter is ❤️Next time you need something quick to whip up with just a few ingredients to spruce up some simple french toast or pancakes , this whipped butter will elevate your dish into something truly spectacular. 

All you need is : 

  • A stick of butter at room temperature (salted or unsalted  it doesnt matter I used salted and it still tasted amazing)
  • A few strawberries (4-5), rinsed and chopped tiny
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • Tablespoon of Sugar

   
    
    

Place the whipped butter on the center of a sheet of aluminim foil.

  Wrap the butter in the foil in a log and place in the freezer for it to harden. 

Slice the whipped butter and serve on your french toast or pancakes. Bón Appetit

 Xoxo,

Shiza

Simple, Summery Fettuccine 

Fettuccine is a pasta that is usually served in an alfredo sauce. However, today I changed things up and made some with a simple sauce using fresh ingredients such as rosemary and basil from my garden, sweet cherry tomatoes, and fragrant garlic. These ever so accessible ingredients transformed the fettuccine into a heavenly dish that is perfect for a summer time lunch! 

Ingredients:

  1. Good quality Fettuccine 
  2. About a cup of Cherry Tomatoes 
  3. 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  4. Handful of Basil
  5. 1 sprig of Rosemary 
  6. Lemon Pepper
  7. Seasoned Salt
  8. Parmeasan cheese 
  9. Olive Oil + Butter
  10. Pinch of sugar ( to offset the acidity of the tomatoes) 

Directions: 

  1. In a large pot, boil water up to the brim with some salt.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes lengthwise. Chop the basil and 1/2 of the rosemary. Mince the garlic. 
  3. Once the water in the pot boils, add the fettuccine noodles. I added about 1/2 of a box of fettuccine simply estimating it. No need to be precise, if you have extra pasta you can use it the next day! Cook the pasta in the salted boiling water for about 8-10 minutes of until its al dente.  
  4. While the pasta cooks, heat a tablespoon of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan on medium high heat. Once the oil + butter begin to sizzle, add the minced garlic. Let the garlic infuse its flavor into the oil, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning . After 2 minutes, add the cherry tomatoes into the saucepan. Raise the heat to high for a few minutes and sautée the tomatoes. They should release a sauce yet hold their shape. Add the sugar. Stir well.
  5. Next, lower the heat and add the lemon pepper, seasoned salt, basil, chopped rosemary, and the 1/2 sprig leftover into the saucepan. Stir well. A sauce should develop. 
  6. Drain the fettuccine and add it into the saucepan with the tomatoes. Combine the pasta with the sauce on low heat. Add a teaspoon of butter into the pasta. Turn off heat and add some grated parmesean cheese and mix well. Remove the sprig of rosemary. Voilà, the fettuccine is ready!

   
    
    
 
Buon Appetito❤️

Xoxo,

Shiza

Summer Diaries : Kolkata , India

This summer I visited the majestic city of Kolkata ( prev// Calcutta) . It wasnt my first time , I have visited this once british-raj capital city since I was young . However , I had more fun this summer than visits before because I got to experience the culture through the food. 

 I had an unforgettable experience sampling Calcutta’s multicultural cusine which melds Mughlai , Chinese , Bengali , and British-Raj cuisines forming a diverse food background.

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Chai (indian tea with milk) is a must to start a Calcuttans day. This is a breakfast/afternoon staple for indians. This particular chai is served in an earthen clay pot , which adds depth to its flavor. It is also garnished with fresh kesar (saffron) which adds a floral aroma to a simply delicious chai!

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Lunch// Rumali Roti ( thin indian flatbreads cooked on the stove ) served with the rich curry of Chicken Kassa, a Bengali speacialy. This is from the casual and famous restaurant , Shiraz.

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Peter Cat Restaurant’s famous Chelo Kebab dish features two types of kebabs : one succulent chicken skewer with vegetables and two mutton seekh kebabs seasoned with Persian spices , the dish also comes with a side of rice and a poached egg on top. It is a classic Calcutta dish that survives the test of time! I love the blend of Persian and Indian cuisines in this dish. It is definitely a must try!

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A classic british breakfast of beans on toast at the legendary Flurys in Park Street , Kolkata. This restaurant was founded in 1927 during the British Raj and it still retains its old world charm and offers one of the best European confections and breakfasts in the city.
P.S: I have a blogpost on the recipe for Beans on Toast…..

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Street side Sutha ( Thread) Kebabs are flavorful and moist kebabs with an extraordinary texture caused by it being wrapped in a thread while cooking. After cooking , the thread is opened and the kebab opens up into small pieces of meat packed with spice and garnished with lime wedges and chopped onions.

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Thai Chicken Curry served with burnt garlic rice is a must try at the whimsical 111 year old Bengali Bungalow turned into a restaurant , The Corner Courtyard. This curry is rich in thai spices and the coconut milk in the curry adds a depth and body to it . The Corner Courtyard has become one of my favorite restaurants for global cuisine and the menu offers a wide range of Asian and Western offerings.

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Image of The Corner Courtyard

Xoxo,
Shiza

Cleo @ SLS Las Vegas

Aloha❤️
This past weekend I went to Las Vegas for a mini-vacation. Las Vegas is known for its flamboyant restaurants and culinary acclaimed cuisine. At my stay , I dined at several amazing restaurants but none compared to the Cleo . This restaurant truly captivated me from the minute I walked in. I felt as though I had walked into an ancient wonderland. The ambiance had a rustic look with a book shelf lining the walls which was filled with an array of vintage images in black and white and numerous books stacked almost messily. To make things feel even more picturesque, there was a massive wood fire oven and open kitchen in the center of the restaurant . It felt as though I was dining with Cleopatra herself.

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Aside from the ambiance, the food was divine . Cleo is known for its Mediterranean inspired cuisine, and it lives up to that. All of the dishes have a sublime flavor from the use of traditional spices and cooking techniques . My favorite dish was the Branzino Tagine , which is cooked in a ceramic dish in the wood oven . A tagine is a Morrocan layered pilaf with a meat and rice or cous cous and cooked in spices. I requested the chef to make it with fish instead of meat or chicken ( fish tagine is not on the menu but they were kind to make it for me) but my parents ordered the chicken tagine and that too was spectacular.

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This is the branzino tagine.

We also ordered a grilled haloumi salad with heirloom kale, hazeulnuts, tarragon, and citrus. This salad had a refreshing flavor and the grilled haloumi was perfect. Halloumi cheese has bedouin roots from the middle east and is semi-hard and has a high melting point which allows it to hold its shape when grilled.

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We also ordered a shrimp and salmon kabob . Both were well seasoned and had an earthy flavor from the dill. The kabobs were served with a spicy chilli sauce that complemented the kabobs well.

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I recommend this restaurant to any one visiting Las Vegas.

Xoxo,
Shiza

Summer Salad Recipe

Aloha ❤️Today I am sharing with you guys a mouthwatering summer salad recipe. This recipe is super healthy and flavorful. It is like eating California in a bite. With local ingredients and lovely flavors, you will forget that you are eating a salad!!

Ingredients:
– 1 Box of Spring Mix Greens
– 1 Tomato , thinly slices
– 1 Persian Cucumber, sliced
– 1 Lime
– 1 Avacado, sliced
– Handful of Blackberries
– 1 Fuji Apple , thinly sliced with a squirt of lime juice to prevent it from browning
– Handful of fresh mint and basil
– Pinch of Red Chilli Flakes
– 1 tsp. Red Chilli Powder (optional)
– Handful of Walnuts, chopped
– 1 clove of fresh Garlic, minced
– dash of lemon pepper
– dash of Italian Seasoning
– dash of Mediterranean seasoning salt
– Salt & Pepper, to taste
– drizzle of Olive Oil, for sautée
– leftover roasted/baked chicken

Directions:
Part 1: Cook Chicken
Drizzle some olive oil into a pan on medium high heat. Add minced garlic. Allow the garlic to infuse into the oil for a minute. Then, add the chicken.
Allow the chicken to warm through and get slightly browned. This adds flavor. After, add the spices ( lemon pepper, seasoned salt, chilli powder & flakes, italian seasoning) . Stir the chicken on low heat. In the end, add a handful of chopped basil ( about 1/4 cup or so). The basil adds an earthy and fragrant flavor to the chicken. Voilà , your chicken is ready! Set aside.

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Part 2:
Wash all of the fruits and vegetables needed for the salad. In two bowls add some of the spring mix. This is the base layer of the salad. Next, add the sliced avacado on both salads. Squeeze a bit of lime on the avacado so that it doesn’t go brown. Sprinkle some salt and pepper to flavor it. Next, neatly arrange the cucumbers, tomatoes, blackberries, apples, and mint on top of the salad. Afterwards, add the chopped walnuts. Lastly, place the chicken on to the salad.

Tips:
Add the same amounts of fruit/vegetables to both salads. Arrange in a pattern for a pretty presentation.

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Variation: You can leave out the chicken for a vegan salad. It will taste just as good!

Bon Appetit
Xx,
Shiza

Best Ice Cream Ever…..

Hey guys , so today I went to a liquid nitrogen ice cream lab and fell in love. I am not exaggerating, it was simply extraordinary. The Ice Cream Lab in Beverly Hills serves up ice cream with a fun and modern twist. The flavors are unique and some of them are seasonal. The flavors most of us ordered were Blue Velvet, Banilla ( Banana + Vanilla) , Salty Caramel Pretzel, Cookies & Cream, and Vanilla . I ordered the Banilla and was in love. It tasted almost like a banana cream pie but in ice cream form. What I particularly love about this place is that the ice cream bases are pre-made , but they mix all the flavorings and liquid nitrogen in front of you. It is a really fun experience to watch them adding the liquid nitrogen and the ice cream base is magically transformed into a delectable concotion. The liquid nitrogen makes the ice cream have a smooth texture. In my opinion , the ice cream had a richer and creamier taste that ordinary ice cream. This is definitely one of the best ice cream places in LA! Here are some pictures of what we got.

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Thats the Banilla…

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This is the Salted Caramel Pretzel

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This is the Blue Velvet

Xoxo,
Shiza

British Breakfast Classic : Beans on Toast

This breakfast classic is a traditional part of a typical English breakfast and is a recipe that can be made in minutes and is absolutely delectable and gratifying. The recipe I am sharing with you today has an Indian flair to it, because it is inspired by my visits to Calcutta . It is a common breakfast food in Calcutta , because of the mix of Indian and British cultures that were a result of the British Raj.

Servings: 4
Ingredients:
1) 4 slices of toast, toasted well ( it needs to be hard/dry enough to absorb the beans well, if the bread is not well toasted the dish will become too soggy which is not good)
2) 1 can of Chilli Beans or Heinz Beans
3) Few dashes of tapatio sauce ( tabasco or any other hot sauce is fine too)
4) 1/2 red or yellow onion , chopped small ( Indian kick)
5) 2-3 green chillies , optional (Indian kick)
6) Butter
7) Shredded cheddar cheese ( or any other kind , I used a mexican spiced cheese that I had in the fridge)

Directions:
1) Toast bread in a toaster.
2) Open a can of beans and pour the beans with the liquid and all, into a saucepan.
3) Heat the mixture on medium flame, and cook until some of the liquid has slightly reduced. Lower the heat, add a few dashes of Tapatio for a spicy flavor.
4) Spread a tbsp of butter onto each slice of toast. Be generous. Don’t care about the fat, the butter makes this dish even more delicious. Besides it really makes ALL the difference. Trust me….
5) Now its time to assemble. Carefully spoon out enough beans and sauce to entirely cover the surface of your toast.
6) Top with some shredded cheese. Then, add some of the chopped onions and chillies. This is what makes a Beans on Toast an “Indian Beans on Toast”. It seriously makes the dish taste 100 times better.

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( Sorry the plating wasnt the best )

Xoxo
Shiza