Recipe: Sous vide top sirloin with garlic roasted broccolini

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One of the last meals I had before leaving Orange County was the Ultimate Steak Dinner at Playground 2.0 in Santa Ana (info), an over-the-top beef party (yeah, I said it) that only left me with the craving for more bloody red flesh.

If I’m ordering a steak out, chances are it’s a ribeye, skirt or hanger cut. But Costco sells packages of prime top sirloin in quantities of four to six for between $20 and $25. Top sirloin’s one of the leanest cuts of red meat, so it makes for a great weeknight dinner in portions that aren’t of the XL steakhouse variety.

I’ve been trying to pair simple meats with simple veggies since I got back in the kitchen. We cooked the meat first in a water bath and then pan seared it to produce a very flavorful dish. Keep reading for the recipe and how-to.

Continue reading

A great way to start off in the Bay

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I posted an announcement on the Fat Dude Facebook page a couple weeks ago, but for those who haven’t read it, I packed up in Orange County and headed north, back to where I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve started Knife & Spork Public Relations, a firm dedicated to the communications needs of emerging and established restaurants here in the Bay.

I’m also excited because now that I have my own schedule, I have more time to dedicate to this blog, cooking and building an exercise routine that works for me. I’ve been here a week and a half now and the focus has been on cooking, walks and weights. I even caught a guest invite to a cooking demo by James Syhabout, chef/owner of the revered Oakland restaurant Commis.

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He cooked the kohlrabi and salmon soup, pictured up top, at the Google Test Kitchen in Mountain View where my friend works. There, Syhabout shared his tips in the kitchen and lessons learned as the owner of multiple restaurants. As I embark on my own entrepreneurial journey, hearing the successes and challenges of others definitely helps craft my business sense and outlook for Knife & Spork and Fat Dude On A Diet.

There’s a lot going on these days, but I’m happy and incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to continue finding happiness and health in this new year.

Time to get to work!

OC Weekly: Niyaz’s Top 5 Dishes of 2014

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I was fortunate that 2014 was a year of great eating across the country: Spicy Pie slices on the Coachella sprawl (an old favorite); the best steak of my life in Maui; impossible gnocchi in D.C. But there were many dishes to be discovered in Orange County as well. From new twists on old classics to simple things done right, I knew right away what dishes inspired me in the kitchen, or simply kept me coming back for more.

Read my Top 5 Dishes of 2014 at OC Weekly’s Stick a Fork In It blog.

Here’s how I cooked my Thanksgiving turkey, and what I did with the leftovers

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We had guests in town for the holidays, so I was honored to cook the Thanksgiving turkey in our house this year. It’s not every year that I get to cook because we typically eat Thanksgiving lunch out with my family and then fill our bellies at night with Nadia’s family, but lucky me, this bird had my name on it.

I wanted to make something a little different this year, so I went with orange and orange juice, and a few Asian ingredients I had in the pantry. I guess we’ll call this one Asian Orange Turkey. Keep reading to see how I brined and cooked the bird, and what I made with the leftovers. Continue reading

OC Weekly: Eat This Now—Confit & Caramelized Pork Belly at Marché Moderne

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Before our friends Neil and Gina went back to Norcal on Monday, we stopped by South Coast Plaza to share with them our favorite “celebration” restaurant, Marché Moderne. Plates aren’t cheap here, so we don’t come often, but when we do it’s typically for their insanely delicious, insanely priced 3-course $25 lunches (more on that here).

I’ll post more photos from that lunch soon, but for now, here’s a menu item we ordered separate from the prix fixe, which I ended up writing about for OC Weekly. Check out what I have to say about Marché Moderne’s Confit & Caramelized Pork Belly here, at OC Weekly’s Stick A Fork In It blog.

22 crazy courses and more at SAAM at the Bazaar

saam_1My wife Nadia’s 30th birthday is today and we were lucky enough to celebrate with our many of our friends over the weekend. Our group of five—myself, Nadia, middle school friend Neil, his wife Gina, and high school friend Matt (known nerdily to ourselves as the Pentapod)—have made it tradition to celebrate our milestone birthdays together. I’ve blogged about those epic trips before, like when we ate through San Francisco, CoachellaSolvang and Las Vegas (twice).

This weekend the Pentapod was in L.A. and Orange County so we found places near home to enjoy together. Neil and Gina are fans of molecular gastronomist and chef José Andrés, having been to two of his restaurants—é in Las Vegas and SAAM at the Bazaar. They wanted to share the experience with us and I’m glad they did because the 3 1/2-hour meal we had at SAAM turned out to be one of the best dining experiences of my life.  Continue reading

Tattoo No. 6, Version 2.0

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Recently the blog went offline for a while, but now it’s back and I have an iPhone’s worth of food to write about this winter. I’m also going to write a lot more about non-food stuff because I’ve been in the mood to stretch these fingers out on the keyboard for a while, so let’s do this.

First up: My new tattoo!

Here’s what I’ve learned over sitting for 6 tattoos:

-Always research your tattoo artist and their work
-Always check your design stencil twice (four! five!! six times!!!) before it gets inked
-Never get something without thinking through how it will look on your body

With all that said, I recently got a new tattoo to cover up an old one that didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. The positive: I know have a piece of art that I really love, and it’s much better than the one on there before. I found the picture online after searching for art related to the band Tool and their album “10,000 Days.” Their last two albums featured liner note art by Alex Grey, who makes some of the most beautiful and unique paintings I’ve ever seen.

I had three qualifiers for the artist: 1) Can tattoo feathers; 2) Female; 3) Local artist. All of my previous ink was done by men and they tend to hunker in and drill down until the work is done. There’s something to be said about having a light touch—especially when you plan on having multiple needles jammed into your skin over and over.

The lovely and talented Latisha Wood at Vatican Studios in Lake Forest drew the piece directly on my arm and went away at it for 6 hours until we had the final product above.

Feeling good about yourself is important, and as a tattoo “collector” (as I was recently called), fixing the old tattoo was important to me. I couldn’t be happier with the final result, and now I’m already thinking about what No. 7 should be!

First on, last off

IMG_0760.JPGIt’s been a while since I posted to the blog, but mostly because it’s been the most transitional time I’ve experienced since launching Fat Dude.

Long story short, what I’m doing at work has evolved more this year than at year prior in a very satisfying way. Also, the atlas adjustment treatment I’m doing for chronic severe back pain has been effective for the first time in four years. It’s a strange process and an even stranger journey to learn how to keep the adjustment. It’s not something I have really written about much, but I feel positive about this experience for the first time, so I might as well celebrate it.

The secret to holding the adjustment according to the doc is to be free of stress by keeping my mind calm, and tiring out my body by hitting the gym regularly. If not, my physical or mental stress tightens up the muscles around my neck, pushing out of alignment the top bone of my neck, called the atlas. This causes a lot of problems in my body, which are fixed when I’m in adjustment. In my mind, I’ve likened it to a lifebar in a video game and I need to maintain it to feel good. Trying to maintain consistency in being active and making healthy food choices has been my jam in the last month because it has to be.

With consistency in mind and the desire to light light but long so as to reduce the stress on my adjustment, I’ve been working on a full body circuit for lifting, one set of 100, for each machine. The goal is to lift every other day, with cardio days and rest days in between. A workout is better than no workout at all and I’m really enjoying this for now.

In general, I’m at a point. A crossroads of care. Where I finally see the way out, and now I have to push myself forward to get there.

Reminder to self: “Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.”

Nadia says I look like a Ninja Turtle these days because my legs and arms are smaller/slimmer and more toned than before, though my gut’s still hanging on for dear life.

I tell her I’m Michelangelo then, because we both like pizza. Lol.

But I’m back from a great vacation where I made it a point to exercise and stretch almost daily, and I’m ready to keep going. When I don’t take care of myself, it all goes straight to my gut. Now, my gut’s the only thing left to eradicate.

First on, last off.

I’m shedding a mindset. Gaining perspective.

Just Mauied

IMG_1160-0.JPGThe day Nadia and I got married was one of the best days ever … my boo, my family, my friends, the food.

For our honeymoon, we jumped in the car and headed to Palm Desert because it was what we could afford at the time. But we always wanted to take a far away vacation together, just the two of us, and this year being our five-year anniversary, Nadia picked Hawaii. She planned an adventure that I luckily reaped the benefits of. Continue reading

Inspiration from the master

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Thomas Keller just posted this amazing “avocado louie” to his Facebook page. The hashtags lead me to believe it’s his contribution to Vanity Fair’s Oscars party.

Such simple ingredients, turned into art. Legit x100.

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