Archive for Food

Hidden Gem- Laguna Niguel Farmers Market

If you know me, you have heard me talk about this market tons of times. ūüėÄ Instead of rambling, I will¬†tell you¬†my top¬†2¬†favorite shops I love at this market and I will just post some pictures for you. They will say a thousand words- each.

Asian vegetable stand: You don’t know this, but this stand is very very¬†dear to my heart.¬†They have¬†6-8 kinds of basil ALONE. They have the freshest herbs, vegetables, and lots and lots of dark leafy greens; bok choy, kale, arugula, Chinese broccoli, mustard greens, and so much more. So super good for you,¬†at pretty inexpensive prices, too. I recommend getting here early-9 am- to get the first dibs of all the goodies. They run out of certain popular herbs if you get there late- say noon. The¬†owners are very friendly. They are originally¬†Hmong, which is North of Thailand. So some of them actually speak Thai!!! ūüėĬ†Sweet!¬†

This week, I bought Thai sweet basil (for green curry & chicken and basil leaves), pepper basil (stir fry dishes), dill (potato and dill), cilantro, mint (for mojitos!), and red lettuce leaves. Yumm!

Another one¬†is Mangi Con Amore:¬†Mamma Stella¬†sells Italian home-made¬†pasta, sauces, spreads, cookies¬†and oh, fresh home-made cannolis!! They are sooooo soooooo good!!!¬†Everything¬†is home-made.¬†You can¬†visit her website and see for yourself at Stella is so lively and charming, you will be greeted with her fully Italiano¬†Buongiorno and a big smile. Her warmth makes you feel like you are not buying food from a shop, but¬†imagine¬†your loving¬†aunt giving you food to take home with you. This week, I bought Spinach ravioli and Salamoia (herbed salt.) She tells you how to cook the pasta and what sauces go well on each of them. Gulp!!! You’ll love Mangi Con Amore. So totally bellissima, my friends.¬†ūüėČ

As promised, I will stop right here and share the pictures of this wonderful market I highly recommend for you to visit. It is at the corner of La Paz and Pacific Park Drive in Laguna Niguel- near Henry’s Market. Sundays 9 am – 1 pm.¬†¬†

Perfect tomatoes.

Perfect tomatoes.

Rainier cherries.

Rainier cherries.

Strongly onionated!

Strongly onionated!


Lemongrass. They grow the best I have ever come across.

More fresh stuff!

Stella, the brightest star in the farmers market ūüôā I heart her.

Pluot, blueberries and cherry monster! Is this killer cute or what?!

Flowers selection is huge here.

Pomegranate and apple jelly. Been eyeing this for a while!

Pomegranate and apple jelly. Been eyeing this for a while!

I opened the jar so you can smell the herbs. ūüôā

Yummy herb and lemon salt.

So, that is it, my friends. Take advantage of the beautiful weather with fresh fruits and vegetables. You will love it, I promise. ūüėÄ

See you there next Sunday!

Ciao bellissima! ūüėÄ


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Meet my other friend – Tom– Tom Yum

You must think I’m joking and playing around with this name after I pulled the Clawed-ine joke. ūüėÄ ¬†Tom Yum is actually a name of a soup that is one of the most famous soups in the world. It is the Thai spicy and sour soup. Usually with shrimp or chicken in it. The soup is chicken broth or vegetable broth-based soup, so it is quite light.¬†A good¬†friend of mine¬†went on a diet of this soup for two months along with eating sufficient servings of fresh whole fruits and vegetables and lost a significant amount of weight. Of course, this is not meant to starve you into being thin, because it is unhealhty. If 5-6 small light meals are the ticket to great health, Tom¬†Yum totally fits the bill. The soup is very satifying, because of all the flavors you get and it is not over powered by fatty creams and too much protein. And you serve it with rice, so it is plenty filling.

Here is how you make it.


3 cups chicken broth

1 stalk lemongrass, mashed and cut at an angle

3¬†slices of galangal (it’s ok to¬†use fresh ginger root for substitute, but galangal is better, if you can find it.)

4 leaves of kaffir lime leaves, torn to release the heavenly aroma (or lime zest)

1 Thai chili pepper (or jalapeno)

1/4 cup sliced shallots or red onion

1 lime

3 tbsp. fish sauce or 1 teaspoon salt¬†¬† – Make me proud and don’t use soy sauce in this dish. ūüėČ

6-10 shrimp ( I like to buy whole and I de-vein and peel them¬†and leave the head and tail on. Don’t freak out. It adds such great flavors to the soup. But you can totaly use whatever shrimp you like. :))

4 mushrooms quartered

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Serves 2, but you might not want to share!

Here’s how:

– Bring the broth to a boil.

– Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shallots, and the chili in the boiling broth.

–¬†Season with fish sauce and add mushrooms.

РOnce the broth comes to a boil, add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink. Remove from heat.

– Squeeze in the lime and garnish with cilantro.

– Serve fresh and hot on jasmine rice.

– Mmmm.. Yummmmm… ūüėÄ

Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp

Best soup in the world! ūüėÄ

I hope you will give it a try and let me know how your soup turns out. Feel free to post questions. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Thai it, you’ll like it! ūüėČ

Well, the weekend starts in about 4 hours. Make sure to enjoy every minute of it!

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Meet my friend, Clawed-ine.

This past weekend¬†was¬†a long and savory weekend spent with friends, family, and relatives. All¬†I need are good food and time with friends and family and I am heaven. ūüôā Really, my friends. These are two,¬†if not the top, of¬† the most treasured blessings in my life.

I wanted to share with you about this restaurant I went to on Saturday. It is called Tan Cang Newport Seafood in Santa Ana. It is Chinese seafood restaurant, owned by a¬†Vietnamese family. So I assume they are¬†Northern Vietnamese which is influenced a lot by¬†Chinese traditions and ways of life.¬†Lucky¬†for me. ūüôā¬†The restaurant was slam packed.¬†The food is served family style.¬†A friend who is a veteran foodie ordered for¬†our table of eight hungry boys and girls. ¬†

Once you place the order, the food comes out¬†dish-by dish, fast and furious! So bust out your chopsticks and be ready! Seafood doesn’t take long preparing¬†and served as fresh as possible. The highlight of the table was our thirteen-pounder lobster who sacrificed her life for us (which was still alive when we arrived, too. So, very fresh). She was beautiful and luscious. The meat was juicy, the sauce¬†complemented it very well.¬†The lobster was full of row (eggs), which is a delicacy. It was rich and quite yum.¬†We also had orders of garlic pepper squid¬†(THE BEST I have ever had.) It was crispy on the outside and perfectly juicy inside. The seasoning was simple how it should be for good seafood. We also had a crab dish, beef (I didn’t eat that, but heard it was ok), salt and pepper shrimp, chicken, crab and asparagus soup, Chinese broccoli, and mushroom and bok choy in oyster sauce. And boy, did we make a good use of that lazy Susan. We turned it¬†around and around¬†to sample a little LOT of everything.

The freshness of the food was ultimately the best thing I experienced, apart from the feast-like presentation, the hustle and bustle (always a good sign), the reasonable pricing and the fast service. My tip to you is to make reservations, know what seafood you like and they’ll¬†guide you on¬†how it is prepared best, order a kettle of hot tea to help cleanse your palate, and¬†you must arrive there hungry. You will sooo love it! ¬†So, Tan Cang Newport Seafood. Look them up. Hope you will give them a try. Stop by and say hi if you run into me. ūüėÄ

Lobster claw

The lobster claw was bigger than my head!

One more shot of the claw

Food is beautiful! ūüėÄ

This was the highlight of the night... actually, let's make it the weekend.

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Best Thai Grilled Chicken Recipe by Kanchana Rubino

Quick¬†Thai lesson for today: ‘chicken’ is called Gai, and ‘to grill’- Yang.¬†¬†

So I wanted to share with you my Gai Yang recipe today. I have been meaning to post it for quite a while now, so I am glad I could do it finally! As it is getting sunnier, warmer and beautiful¬†here in Southern California (as it is most of the year!), it is time to¬†get serious about¬†BBQ again. This recipe is a part of the menu of¬†my Thai cooking lessons. However, it is not¬†so widely known yet and is not requested often as much as I like to share it. It is quite easy to make and above all, the flavors explode with every single bite you take. The secret is in the Cilantro roots, which you can find if you buy your cilantro at a farmer’s market. I usually buy cilantro there and what¬†I do is cut off the stem with the roots and clean the dirt off with a pairing knife under the sink. scrub off as much dirt as you can. Then, pat them dry, put them in a zip top bag and freeze. They last months in the freezer. You can also use it when you make home-made chicken stock for a great aroma. Very mmm mmm good!¬†¬†

Your friends and family will absolutely love this recipe, I promise! I probably cook this for¬†gatherings at least 20 times a year. And it is still exciting! So here is the recipe and I have pictures step-by-step. I hope you will try it when you have a chance to.¬†¬†DISCLAIMER: I didn’t have a free hand to take pictures of the end product, since I was busy turning the chicken wings. Be sure to use medium heat¬†and to turn¬†them often for crispy skin and evenly cooked meat!!

Black pepper corn to be freshly cracked.

Garlic & cilantro root

Mash garlic with the cilantro roots.

Black pepper, garlic and cilantro root paste.

Make a paste from pepper, cilantro root and garlic.

Fish Sauce

Add fish sauce(1/4 cup) and sugar (1/2 tbsp) to the paste.

Sauce & chicken wings.

Add the marinate to the chicken.


Marinate at least 4 hours before grilling

So, I hope you will like this recipe. It is super easy and tastier than any other chicken marinate I have ever used myself and I think you will agree with me once you have tried. 

Thai it, you’ll like it!

Kanchana Rubino – – twitter @kanchanarubino

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