On being a proper “foodie”

Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year to my Trojan family!

Before I begin this column, I would like to dedicate my writing to a friend and teammate who recently passed, Jon Walters.

On that note, I digress. This semester, it is my pleasure to be the Daily Trojan food columnist where I hope to provide you, my readers, audience and the occasional friend or foe, with delicious recipes, while educating you about our world, but from a foodie’s perspective. As a foodie, I don’t eat to live, I legitimately live to eat. Ask anyone who knows me — even a snack is a gourmet ordeal. Anyone can be a foodie.

Being a foodie is simple — you have to love food and not think about anything else. So enjoy my column as we take on a semester filled with food and holidays, on the daily.

Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 — National Peach Melba Day / Welcome back to school!

The Peach Melba is a fairly simple concept: poached peaches with a lovely, sweet peach sauce over vanilla ice cream — it’s a dessert created by Chef Georges Auguste Escoffier of France for the Australian soprano Nellie Melba upon her stay at the Savoy Hotel in London.

If you want to make this dish at home, be forewarned that it must be served in a silver dish, otherwise you are disgracing its history.

Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 — National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day 

For those who aren’t fans of spicy food, you’re in the clear — “hot” in this situation means warm. When was the last time you had a mouth-watering, warm pastrami sandwich on fresh sourdough bread? Granted, if you’re from New York City, you could probably brag all day about the mom-and-pop delicatessens located on almost every block, where they know you by name and know you better than you know yourself, but they just know how to make a really good sandwich, so relax. This is the day that you make a change in your life. This is the day that you take a leap of faith and enjoy a savory hot pastrami sandwich — make sure to sound like you’re a New Yorker when you say “pastrami” while ordering — really make sure that the long “a” is there. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself because this day comes once a year, so enjoy it.

Great pastrami sandwich locations in Los Angeles include the famous The Hat, Langer’s Deli, Johnny’s and Eastside Deli.

Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 — Strawberry Ice Cream Day

Oh, strawberry ice cream — the forgotten flavor no one thinks about because it is hidden in the shadow of chocolate and vanilla. Treat yourself to some strawberry ice cream today; I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the sweet sensation in your mouth, plus, with this week’s weather forecast, it will be a nice way to cool off.

Thursday,  Jan. 16, 2014 — National Fig Newton Day and International Hot and Spicy Food Day

To the people who can’t handle the spice, look away. To those who enjoy a good spicy meal, by all means, have at it; today is the day to do it.

Personally, I have never been a fan of fig newtons, the fig-filled cookies that your parents used to put in your lunches as a kid. You know, the ones you would trade for some kid’s Fruit Roll-Ups — or was that just me?

Friday,  Jan. 17, 2014 — Hot Buttered Rum Day

Hot Buttered Rum is a popular, warm cocktail that is enjoyed during the holidays, made of rum and caramelized sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract; this drink dates back to colonial times and is also an American five-piece progressive bluegrass group.

Saturday,  Jan. 18, 2014 — Peking Duck Day

Peking Duck is a very popular dish in China, and is now considered the country’s national dish. Peking Duck is served duck three ways: the first is  sliced skin with a little bit of succulent fat with some dipping sauce, the second is the duck meat served with what I refer to as Chinese tortillas, but in reality they are almost like crepes and the third way is in noodle, soup or stir fry form.

Peking Duck makes a beautiful roast center piece for a dinner party, but for a college student’s budget, it’s pretty pricey. Go try some duck. We’re so close to Chinatown, what’s stopping you?

Savory places in Los Angeles to get some great duck are Hong Yei Restaurant in San Gabriel, and if you’re feeling fancy, Wolfgang Puck’s Chinese-inspired WP24 and Tasty Duck.

Sunday,  Jan. 19, 2014 — National Popcorn Day 

Popcorn. Definition: the popping of dried kernels of corn by heating over a flame for a given period of time and adding lovely seasonings for flavor — I just made that up. Popcorn comes from corn, which can be dried into a seed or nut-like form, which can be heated to make a delightful low-calorie snack that people have been enjoying for centuries.

Recipe of the week! Quinoa Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, by Trader Joe’s


4 tablespoons olive oil

7 ounces Shiitake Mushrooms, cleaned and rinsed

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed

5 cups vegetable broth, keep warm in pan

1/3 cup white wine

1 shallot, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup crème fraîche

Salt and pepper, to taste



In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced mushroom and sauté until golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. Lower heat, add shallot and garlic to pan and sauté slowly until they begin to soften and become translucent, about 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the quinoa. Stir for about 3 minutes until the quinoa is coated with oil and lightly toasted. Lower the heat to a simmer; add the wine and continue to stir until it is absorbed. Once the wine is absorbed, pour about 1/2 cup of warm broth into the quinoa and continue to stir and simmer until it is completely absorbed. Allow pan to almost dry out between additions of broth. Keep stirring in broth 1/2 cup at a time until the quinoa is creamy and the quinoa germ has burst, about 20 minutes. Taste for doneness (should be creamy and a little al dente) and add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the last addition of broth is almost absorbed, stir in the Parmesan cheese, remove from the heat, cover with a lid and let stand for 2 minutes to help develop the creamy texture. Then, stir in the mushrooms and créme fraîche. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan on top.


Alegra Hueso is a sophomore majoring in creative writing.  Her column “In Love With the Edible” runs on Wednesdays.