An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Komol Restaurant (Las Vegas)

IMG_1945T took me to the award-winning Komol Restaurant at the Commercial Center (Las Vegas) last weekend. By award-winning, I mean they are considered one of the best Thai restaurants in Vegas. Having grown up with a Thai nanny as well as been to Thailand countless times, it is as authentic as it comes, in Vegas. It’s not the best I’ve ever had but it was delicious and hit the spot! Best of all, they had a vegetarian menu that was as extensive as their regular one.

If you were to judge this place by its location and interior decor, you’d sorely miss a good dining spot. The Commercial Center is weird. It’s a huge plaza with largely empty store fronts and has rather run-down… erm everything. It’s also located in a not-so-nice, maybe dodgy-looking Chinatown. Inside, the decor is functional. It has your cursory nods and references to Thai culture – some plastic lotus things, pictures of different parts of what might be Thailand and little gold Buddhist shrines in different corners of the restaurants (I think these are really for religious reasons though).

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On the day we were here, we were famished! We ordered a lot and this meal filled us up for hours – a small bowl of “fish” Tom Yum soup (hot – but not), “duck”curry (medium – no spice at all), orange sauce “chicken”, corn fritters (aka Tod Mun) and for dessert, fried ice cream. Everything was delicious but I wish it was spicier. Also, for a Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm (past regular lunch hours), the restaurant was 1/3 filled – with about 5 or 6 tables.

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We paid just under USD50 for everything (including taxes). I think we had our fill and were satisfied till breakfast the next day! Service was polite and efficient – our water was constantly topped up. The wait time between dishes was minimal so we could eat the entire meal together while everything was piping hot.

If you miss the taste of Southeast Asian food while in Vegas, I would definitely recommend this place – for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. I can’t wait to go back again to try the other dishes when my next craving hits! Mmmmmm…

Komol Restaurant
(Located inside Commercial Center)
953 E. Sahara Ave. E-10 & 12
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Phone: (702) 731-6542
Fax: (702) 731-9268
Hours
Mon – Sat 11am to 10pm
Sunday – Noon to 10pm
Food Available To Go
www.KomolRestaurant.com


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Meatless Monday: Easy Baked Eggs

20131031-151333.jpgI was looking at ways to up T’s protein intake and I do try to vary it from soy-based products (soy meats or tofu). There’s definitely something to be said about eggs being high in cholesterol and that people are advised not to eat more than 2 egg yolks a week. However, bearing in mind that vegetarians do not eat a lot of foods that are high in cholesterol – generally meats and seafood, we are sorta in the clear – especially since T and I watch out for trans fats and avoid things like vegetable shortening or margarine.

In this recipe, you’ll see that I made 6 baked eggs in muffin cups (the cupcake baking tray), of which there are only 5 egg yolks because I had egg whites leftover from making a delicious Banana Cream Pie the day before. I ended up serving T two eggs with yolks and 1 baked egg that’s all whites for lunch. I saved the remainder in the refrigerator for another time! Convenience is great!20131031-151512.jpg

Easy Baked Eggs

Serves 1 to 6. Prep Time: 3 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes

6 eggs

Pinch of curry powder

1 tablespoon of diced tomatoes

Pinch of Black Pepper

Pinch of Paprika

Pinch of Garlic Powder

1/2 tablespoon of cooking oil (or cooking spray to grease the pan)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350degF.

2. Grease each cup. (I used a silicon brush and some Canola oil.)

3. Break eggs into muffin pan cups  (use as many or as little as you want).

4. In each little cup, vary your toppings for flavour.

4. Pop the pan into the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and pop each egg out once they’ve cooled.

TAH DAH!

Easy peasy! Just remember that you shouldn’t have too many yolks a week if you’re watching your cholesterol intake but you should still have them because the nutritional value of eggs largely lie in the yolks!


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Meatless Monday: Cabbage & Potatoes Stir Fry

IMG_0558This is one of my favourite things to order at the Economy Rice stalls back in Singapore (otherwise known as point-point rice because you point at the side dishes you want to add to your plain steamed rice). This cabbage and potatoes stir-fry comes in different variations, most I’ve eaten have dried shrimp for flavouring and some have glass noodles for added texture. No matter how you do it, cabbage and potatoes are all you need. It’s also great that cabbage is really cheap (much cheaper than cauliflower and broccoli which T loves).

I’m sharing this recipe because T mentioned that he only liked cabbage “so-so” but he thought that I “managed to make cabbage really tasty”. To him, cabbage is usually a filler, something you add in food when you want to fill space and tummies without spending too much money. That made me happy because this dish is so good with plain steamed rice that I can eat a lot a lot a lot of it. Also, it makes good leftovers – just pop your leftover cabbage/potato stir-fry and steamed rice into a box, store it in the fridge together, and when you zap it in the microwave again, the flavours would have all mixed in. Mmmmm… I do love a good gravy over plain rice!

Cabbage & Potatoes Stir Fry

Serves 4. Prep Time: 3 mins. Cooking time: 15 mins.

1 large potato

8 cups of chopped cabbage (raw chopped up volume)

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

3 tablespoons of cooking oil

1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetarian oyster sauce (mushroom flavoured)

1 cup water

1/2 tablespoon corn starch

Method:

1. Pull out 5-6 cabbage leaves, roll them up to look like a burrito, then slice them vertically and then horizontally. Repeat until you have the desired amount of cabbage (2 cups worth of chopped cabbage leaves = 1 regular serving after cooking).

2. Scrub the potato and rinse before cutting them up into short, stubby french-fry looking strips. (Don’t make them too thick or it’ll take too long to cook)

3. Heat up cooking oil and put in the potato strips. Fry the potato on high heat for about 5 minutes till it starts changing colour (a little translucent).

4. Turn down to medium heat. Add all the minced garlic into the pan and continue stir-frying/tossing until slightly golden brown.

5. Add all the chopped cabbage into your pan (my 11-inch Jamie Oliver by T-fal stir-fry pan can just about hold everything and is filled to the brim.)

6. Carefully stir the cabbage, potato and garlic. (I use the fold and mix method.)

7. Once the contents of the pan is well mixed, add the vegetarian oyster sauce and stir-fry again. Turn up to high heat.

8. Mix 1/2 tablespoon corn starch with 1 cup water, then add to the vegetables. Stir-fry and mix again. The cabbage should have softened and be half its former volume by now.

9. Take a lid (doesn’t have to be a matching lid), cover the pan and let the veggies steam. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. Lift the lid every 30 seconds to stir.

10. Remove from heat and serve with steaming hot plain rice.

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Tah dah! Cheap, easy and fast!!!


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Outpost Cafe in Oak Hills, California

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Last Saturday while driving through the Mojave desert from Las Vegas to Carlsbad, California, we chanced upon the OUTPOST CAFE and made a pitstop for lunch. We had earlier seen a sign for Franky’s Diner in Victorville but were disappointed to see it all boarded up. I love our roadtrip adventures and eating is such a life’s pleasure. These truckers or roadside diners are as much the highlight of the trip for me, as it is seeing Max the Maximum Dog (who is now ready to come home).

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T and I have previously been to 2 other diners (both in Yermo) and I wrote about them too. Peggy Sue’s and Penny’s Diner were 50s style diners and were basically situated just across the road from each other. We drove quite a while from Las Vegas before we hit the Outpost Cafe and it really didn’t seem like much from the outside. I was so glad we stopped because I was virtually famished and this is the first cowboy-themed diner that we visited. T loved the wagon wheel chandelier and the iron cast finish on the counter seats, while I just wandered around taking pictures of the decor in the entire place. The toilets were spacious and clean. There were many different types of seating – including outdoors, and there was a good selection of food (even for us vegetarians).

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T and I spent under USD35 (including a 20% cash tip) for my breakfast burrito, his Karma veggie burger and fries, our 2 refillable Cokes and a shared slice of Red Velvet Cake. That was not bad in my books. While T thought the patty in his burger and the cakes were “store bought”, I thought the redeeming factor was the small-town feel and their decor! I would definitely love to be back to see what other veggie-friendly options they have.

Ambience 4/5

Food 3.5/5

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OUTPOST CAFE

8685 US Highway 395

Oak Hills, California 92344

Phone: (760) 949 0808

Facebook Page: facebook.com/OutpostCafe

Twitter: @OutpostCafe


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Meatless Monday: Painless Potato Au Gratin

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How are your Mondays coming along? It’s so easy to go meat-free even if you can’t give up your steaks, fried chicken or bacon. Today’s recipe is another one using potato because it’s one of T’s favourite things to eat. He’s quite easy to cook for but strangely enough, he’s not a salad-loving vegetarian, so I have to find interesting ways to pair veggies with his meals to ensure he gets enough fresh greens in his diet. Anyway, this is a new recipe. I usually make a cheat Au Gratin with mashed potato instead and when he was in New York, he mentioned that his Aunt’s Potato Au Gratin was possibly the best he’s eaten… so I thought I’d try my hand at making one. I found 3 different recipes and I combined them through a combination of – what the heck do I have in my kitchen and what method is the fastest to make? It worked!!

This Painless Potato Au Gratin recipe serves up a really crispy hard shell top of cheese; a gooey cheesy middle mixed with the natural sweetness of the onions; ending right at the bottom with flaky and fluffy potato slices. I love food with different textures. Maybe you would too?

Painless Potato Au Gratin

Serves 4 (or 2 very greedy people). Prep Time: 10 minutes. Cooking Time: 1 hour.

3 large baking potatoes

1/2 cup diced onion

2 1/2 tablespoon butter

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

1 cup bread crumbs

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400degF.

2. Scrub potatoes well and rinse. Do not peel.

3. Cut potatoes into 1/4 thick slices (I can never get them even but who cares).

4. Layer 1 1/2 potatoes worth of the slices in the baking pan.

5. Pour 1 cup of milk over the potatoes already in the pan.

6. Melt about 1/2 tablespoon of butter and brown the diced onions.

7. Sprinkle the browned diced onions over the first layer of the potatoes.

8. Layer the rest of the potato slices and spread 2 tablespoons of butter over them (you can just drop dollops all over).

9. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the potatoes, then the breadcrumbs and lastly the cheddar. Make sure to cover the surface well.

10. Put the baking pan in the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes.

11. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes before serving!
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Meatless Monday: Easy Rustic Corn Cakes

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I love the taste of meat so much and I crave junk food all the time. I miss chicken nuggets, I miss bacon, I miss deep fried chicken wings and the bad stuff. I would care less about them being unhealthy (broiled chicken breasts are not my thing ever) if they weren’t made of animal. Sometimes I do think that someday I might just cave in and give in to my meat cravings. For now, food like these thai-style corn cakes fill the void and hits the spot. I swear it’s just the grease and texture I miss – what is chicken nuggets made of anyway (okay, let’s not go there… yith!).

This recipe is something I modified from what I observed from my father’s sister, Auntie Mary. I can’t remember what she was battering but the essence of the method can be applied to anything you want to deep-fry. I was so impressed with how she whipped it all up in a matter of minutes that I secretly vowed to be the kind of hostess who has a fully stocked pantry where I can easily pick ingredients and whip up a snack or meal for surprise guests.

If I can do it, so can you!

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Easy Rustic Corn Cakes

Serves 4. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes.

450g whole corn kernels

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 large egg

Cooking oil

Method:

1. Heat your deep fryer or frying pan with enough cooking oil for deep frying – the amount of oil obviously depends on the type or size of vessel you’re using.

2. Mix flour, egg, salt, pepper, basil, curry powder and corn kernels together in a large mixing bowl. Be sure to mix, flip, turn, fold – do whatever you need to mix it up real well.

3. Once oil is hot, scoop a tablespoonful of the corn mixture and drop it gently into the vat of hot oil. You can and should do several simultaneously if there’s enough space in your cooking vessel.

4. Turn over the corn cake when it starts to turn light brown.

5. Remove each corn cake quickly and allow to cool/drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

6. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

7. Serve with sweet Thai chili sauce, ketchup or salsa! TAH DAH!

There is enough in this recipe for 4 people as a side dish or snack (I strongly recommend this… oh yum!). And it’d also be perfect for 2 when served with steamed jasmine rice!

ENJOY!!

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Meatless Monday: Easy Roasted Potatoes

20130830-192509.jpgI love potatoes but T loves them even more than I do. I have been trying to create different ways of cooking potato at home. I love that they are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese and dietary fibre. Unfortunately, potatoes have a bad rep for being fattening and unhealthy because the most popular ways of eating them are usually in the form of french fries and chips. My Roasted Potatoes recipe, I feel, is healthy and possibly low calorie, as long as you don’t load it up with fattening condiments like sour cream or bacon bits.

You can pretty much roast other vegetables with the same seasoning and method too! Think carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, brussel sprouts, cauliflower…

Easy Roasted Potatoes

Serves 2. Prep time: 15 min. Cooking time: 60 mins (most of which you can relax)

3 medium-sized potatoes

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Method:

1. Peel potatoes then parboil for 10 minutes in boiling water (add salt to water). (This step makes it crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside)

2. Set aside to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 400f.

3. Cut cooled potatoes into quarters.

4. Place in mixing bowl and toss with garlic, rosemary, pepper, brown sugar and olive oil.

5. Transfer to sheet pan and spread them out.

6. Roast for 45 minutes to 1hour. Flip twice during cooking to ensure you get more browned crispy bits.

6. Remove from oven and serve hot.

20130830-192520.jpgI served mine as a side dish to the stir-fried green beans (from last week’s recipe) and rice. For some reason, T didn’t quite believe that I made up the recipe myself from the ingredients I found in the pantry. He said he loved them as much as those store-bought, pre-seasoned ones he got for more than twice the price of what we paid for the ingredients. I still think it’s a fluke and with me, my cooking is still a hit and miss. I’m sharing this recipe because it’s a hit with T and I hope it will be with you too!

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