Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hot Potatoes

I love discovering produce I've neither tasted, nor cooked with. Especially when it begins by looking as intriguing as this:

And then presented as beautifully as this:

These Argentinian fingerling potatoes are quite colorful and delicious. I just love the pink stripes and the bright greens and oranges. At our cooking class at Federal restaurant, we soaked them in cold water for 45 minutes; drained them, dried them and sliced them in half to serve raw. Drizzle a bit of corn oil (the oil of choice in Argentina) and sprinkle with salt and you won't be disappointed. Now to figure out how to order these suessian-striped little guys in the states...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Pink Spoon TRAVELS!

Here I am in Mendoza, Argentina, in the middle of a malbec vineyard. I am officially a world eater! But that's getting ahead of myself.

There is so much to say about my last 10 days in Argentina eating, drinking, cooking, eating and drinking that I must start at the beginning and leave nothing out. Allow this post to be the introduction, as I won't be able to download any photos to accompany my posts until this coming Wednesday when my travel companion returns with our shared camera.

However, I did manage to capture a few shots of the first dinner we had at Resto, a little restaurant just north of our hotel we stayed, in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It's considered the French quarter of the city, and is just as charming as anything.

We began the B.A. dining scene after unintentionally filling ourselves on cheese and meats as an evening appetizer along with a glass of wine. So we walked about 20 blocks to Resto, where we had a 9pm reservation. As in Europe, dinner is eaten late, and we were still the early birds.

The menu offers three set dinners, each including a salad, main course, and a dessert. You are able to mix and match to your liking however. Each item looked fantastic, and my two lovely travel companions (Beth and Ginna) and I all agreed to order different plates and switch. Because we had eaten (unfortunately) too much prior, we weren't all able to eat a full three courses.

We enjoyed:

The Ensalada de Ranas -grilled frog legs served on watercress in a light vinaigrette and drizzled with a hazelnut pesto. They were as delicious as they sound, and perfectly cooked. There was a nice, subtle "grill" flavor that gave the meat a char characteristic I have not had on anything grilled before. Perhaps it's the Argentine grill pan/BBQ...who knows. Either way, it's delicious.

The Roasted Chicken Terrine-Beautifully served over watercress with Dijon mustard, roasted tomatoes and a light balsamic vinaigrette. Great flavor, especially the roasted tomatoes.

Pan Roasted White Salmon
with olive tapenade, olive oil and lemon pesto, served over french green beans and peas. This was unbelievable. Every bite was balanced and the olive oil lemon pesto was perfect with the white fish, which isn't as fishy tasting as pink salmon.

Dessert was: Basil Mango & Lemon sorbet- Amazing texture and the fruit was excellent; the basil was not overpowering.

Earl Grey Ice Cream
topped with fresh blueberries. Very different, not too sweet, but refreshing.

Truly, everything was delicious, and the presentations were lovely. The service was very attentive and friendly given our hacked spanish and many questions about what EVERYTHING was and how the chef did EVERYTHING. (We liked to write down notes so we could make things back in the states, after all...)

The highlight of the meal, however, was the bottle of Rose that was recommended by the sommelier. All three of us admitted to liking a good rose, but that good rose was hard to find or buy on a guess. So you can imagine our absolute delight at the Brumales Classico 2005 Malbec Rose, available at

It was balanced, dry, crisp with an outstanding finish. A wonderful start to a very delicious two weeks.

Sociedad Central de Arquitectos
Montevideo 938
Tel: 4816-6771

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tomato Challenge 2007

One ingredient. Three courses.

Gazpacho Gazpacho!

Garden fresh tomatoes
A hint of vinegar
Zest of lemon
Perfectly diced red onion
A smattering of pepper
Clove of garlic, minced
Handful of cubed bell pepper, celery, zucchini, corn
One basil leaf garnish

Blanche tomatoes, peel, seed, chop, and process until desired consistency.
Add in all other ingredients except the basil. Top with the basil as garnish.

BLT of Champions:
(With basil mayo, of course)

And Gelato di Tomato:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vintage Kitchen: Style Watch

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but as the summer draws to an end, I've been inspired by this years delectable fall fashions to dedicate my first post in awhile to some amazing kitchen style I discovered: Vintage -inspired aprons!!!
The designers behind the line Jesse Steele is a mother daughter duo, and their current collection, which I discovered via a web surfing session while VERY bored at work, is delicious! They are available at Jesse Steele

...I want this one: Very chic domestic goddess-y:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pinch Me, seriously, I'm Dreaming

The Nancy Drew COOKBOOK!!!!!!!!!

I still have, in my ownership, every hardcover original Nancy Drew book ever written. Obsessed with these novels would be a gross understatement of about four years of my childhood. In my mind, I was her. She was me. We were one.

The complete convergence of two worlds couldn't get any sweeter.

Note to Krissy Wall and Joanna Calo, this does not offer any consolation to the fact that Veronica Mars (the modern day TV version of Nancy Drew and the best show on television) was recently cancelled.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Slightly Obsessed: Bleu Cheese & Tarragon, Take I

So, I’m sort of a tarragon junkie. And the source of this bad good habit is pretty embarrassing: Starbucks. I spent last summer doing a graduate program at NYU in the Barclay building downtown in Manhattan; Starbucks was the drug provider of choice right next door. So it happened that one lunch break, on a whim, I bought the Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich. It was one of the best days of my life. It was so surprisingly delicious I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I bought another on my way home as an appetizer for dinner. I sort of hated myself for buying not one, but two sandwiches at, of all places, Starbucks, in one day. But I was way too smitten with my discovery to care. My love affair with tarragon had begun; the challenge to integrate this sweet little herb into as many different dishes was officially on. When I moved back to L.A., I began working a second job at the Edendale Grill. They had, to my sheer delight, Blue Cheese Tarragon French Fries on the bar menu. After working there nearly a year, and munching on these delicious bits during each shift without fail, I’m still not sick of the combo. So, as I’m now living with my parents, 500 miles from the Edendale, I’ve had to take matters into my own hands. I’ve decided to see how many different variations on the Blue Cheese/Tarragon/Potato theme I can manage before my parents refuse to allow me to cook for them anymore. What else is a stir-crazy girl gonna do on a Friday night when she moves back to the oh-so-quiet-suburbia that is Los Altos? First up was the Twice Baked Potato version. F-ing Fantastic.

Twice Baked Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Tarragon

6 Russett Potatoes, scrubbed
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ C. Half & Half
¼ C. Low-Fat Milk
6 oz blue cheese, crumbled
2 oz blue cheese, reserved
4 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Give the potatoes a fairly generous coat of olive oil. Using a fork, gently poke holes in the uncooked potatoes. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. You can also place them directly on the rack. Bake until tender, about 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cover hand with a dishtowel to handle the potatoes, and, using a serrated knife, slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the baked potato into a large mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the skins. Repeat for remaining potatoes. Mash potatoes well, until smooth. With the exception of the reserved blue cheese, add in remaining ingredients, and mix well, adding salt and pepper to taste. Scoop mixture back into skins, and top with a bit of the crumbled bleu cheese. Pop back into the oven at 375 until warmed through. I like to put them under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey and browning, before serving.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Re-Introducing: The Artichoke

Circa 1961: Julia Child breaks down the boiled artichoke for the American cooking public "Hot or cold boiled artichokes are served as a separate course, either at the beginning of the meal or in place of a salad."

But really, when was the last time you ate a cold boiled artichoke in place of a salad?

Circa 2007: My mom craves the now-retro dish as the salad for a small dinner gathering the other night. And she commissioned my help for the "stuffing." Which was cold little shrimp tossed in a simple herbed vinagraitte. At this point, I couldn't help but wonder: "Does anyone ever serve cold boiled artichokes anymore?" As I stuffed the chokes with the marinated mini cocktail shrimp, I couldn't help but imagine this was more the type of dish a downtrodden smiling housewife circa 1965 would whip up when her hubby's boss came to dinner. For a second, I wondered if we should be serving a nice pot roast instead of organic roasted chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese, but as I finished up with the chokes, I became more intrigued with the concept. I arranged them on a platter, and they actually looked great. As we sat down, with the chicken, a light, Mediterranean-style pasta and the artichoke salad, it actually fit quite nicely. And I have to say, they were delicious. Strange, but delicious.

Cold Artichoke Salad with Shrimp Stuffing:

4 large artichokes
1 lb cooked, chilled baby cocktail shrimp

Herbed Dressing:
1 C. Olive Oil
1/3 C. champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped Thyme
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the artichokes until tender. Strain and let cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Reserving 3 Tablespoons, generously coat the shrimp with the dressing, and allow to marinate while the artichokes cool. When the chokes are cool, slice them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the hearts, creating a small hollow in the center of the choke. Firmly stuff about 2 Tablespoons of shrimp into the hollow. Drizzle the resrved dressing over the chokes, and serve. These can also be prepared ahead, and chilled until ready to serve.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rooms out of Shrooms

And in other green news, one more reason to love fungi:
" 'Growable' Homes Made With Mushrooms"
Spores as the latest means for fire-proof insulation? Sweet.
[Discovery Channel News]

I dedicate this post to the delicious sautéed morels that my dear friends and April roomies Adam and Julia made the other week...
I'll have to follow up with the recipe when I can pin it down.

Bits & Bites: Organic Muses

So far, today's favorite reads are all green.
The official announcement of Slow Food Nation '08 in none other than the glorious S.F. []

Barbara Kingsolver's non-fiction debut, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
[Bon Appétit Editor's Blog]

I'm inspired to plant a midsummer garden and harvest my own veggies...I bet my new roommates won't care. Mom, Dad, objections?

Summer Sipping: Still Life with Rooster

I don't normally look for wine advice in Details Magazine, however, I was enjoying a delicious rosé with my dear friend Xan the other evening, and, while casually flipping through the men's 'zine, was surprised to see a feature on the pinkest of all wines...And they aptly celebrate it for it's invigorating versatility: "Any wine that pairs as well with a bacon cheesburger as it does with butter poached lobster is a poor candidate for overanalysis." Concur.

The two of us were, however, thrown off by the fact that the picture accompanying the article was of rosé served in an old-fashioned glass. Which got Xan and I to discussing the most ideal container to serve rosé in: A champagne flute seemed to hifalutin for the modest refreshment...the red wine glass would only warm it up when you really just want to retain it's cool crispness...leaving the white wine glass as the obvious answer...So an old-fashioned glass? I understand the liquid is pink and a picture of a bunch of dudes sitting around drinking Rosé in wine glasses may not resonate with readers, but it's not a cocktail, it's wine. So if you're gonna go pink, fellas, go all the way.

Xan & I's budget fave (I credit her 100% with this discovery!)
2005 La Ferme Julien Rose, Cotes Du Ventoux ($4.99 at Trader Joe's)

We'll be drinking this dry, fruity blend of Cinsualt, Grenache and Syrah through Labor Day. It's summer picnic-ing perfect in a screw-top bottle—strawberry first, cherry second and a teeny little spice in third that will keep you sipping well into the evening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Back to Basics: A Must Read

From the NYT Dining & Wine section today "A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks" was one of the most resourceful and down-to-earth articles I've read in quite some time. An absolute must-read for any of us who can be, at times, daunted by the flood of specialty cookware that high-end companies push as the secret to gourmet food. The whole article was absolutely spot-on, and a must read—a gentle reminder to every earnest, intrepid cook to keep the following close to heart: "Lavish tools and state-of-the art equipment does not necessarily a good meal make."

I will NOT be purchasing an electric vacuum marinator anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bits & Bites: Retail Therapy + Sprinkles

I cannot believe how fast Sprinkles jumped on the retail bandwagon! New at Williams-Sonoma! And you even get the B.H. bakery "visual signature" cupcake decoration...I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. I cannot wait to test this out and compare against the real deal from the bakery. And if it lives up to standard, I will be very happy to know where to get a sprinkles fix given my upcoming departure from L.A. :(

Monday, May 7, 2007

Je Déteste

The great news is that Rachael Ray recently launched a non-profit organization, the mission of which I think is fantastic. I love her three-tiered (Cook. Feed. Fund.) focus and I want to support it. I do.

BUT, the bad news is that she had to go and destroy the credence of the organization by naming it after one of her Rachael-ismsYum-o!

How can you possibly take this seriously?

Direct from the website:
[ "Yum-o!" is the sound you make when you eat something really delicious. It is kind of a combination of "Yummy!" and "Oh wow!" You can't help but smile when you say it because it's such a fun word to say."]

I have nothing against slang, acronyms, even well thought out "isms"...But this is sad. It's a brainless substitution for the many ways to articulate the experience of tasting something delicious.

"Sweetie, do you like the chicken?"
"It's Yum-o!"

Not cool Rach.

House of God PIES: Sunday Confessional

After three years of living on the East side, I managed to fulfill a long-standing foodie fantasy of mine last night: A late night slice of pie and a cup of joe at House of Pies in Los Feliz. I've always had a soft spot for coffee shops, at any hour, and I couldn't wait to try some pie. And HOP meets all expectations. It's a pleasant little diner that envelops you in a safe blanket of coziness the minute you walk in. It's 24-hour coffee-shop familiarity at it's finest. You know the menu by memory, you've eaten breakfast there a hundred times—as a 5-year old with the family, as a 15-year old with your friends after a football game, as a 22-year old, hungover with your college pals. And you'll probably dine there a hundred times more. So perhaps it's that relaxing sense of security the HOP conjures—when you can stretch out, two to a big, plasticy booth—that nudges one to spill personal secrets, but Sunday night with pie was a delightful confessional.

And whether there's a real link between sinfully-sweet slices of pie (Southern Pecan for me, Blueberry for my partner in crime) and the urge to swap guilty confessions, I'll never know. But bite after bite, as stomachs grew heavier, hearts felt lighter, and the moment of food and friendship set in, I realized that sometimes there is no better cure-all (for the guilty or innocent) than a 24-hour coffee-shop confessional good conversation.

The House of Pies, 1869 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027; (323) 666-9961

Thursday, May 3, 2007

MNMC: Children of Men and a Cooking Dervish

MNMC member Sean Freisen was culinary king last night,
and what a feast he created! We convened around 7:30 for a delicious meal of Chicken Piccata, Roasted Asparagus and Rosemary Ciabatta. The chicken cutlets were perfectly cooked, and the sauce was brilliant. It was the perfect consistency, silky and layered from the reduction of lemony-tartness, capery-saltiness and the browned-meaty richness. ( I think I made all those words up). The asparagus were an excellent side dish, holding their own against the pronounced flavor of the sauce, and all of us could not stop eating. But our lively chef of the hour didn't stop there. As we finished up glasses of wine and got ready to start the movie for the evening, Children of Men, Sean whipped up dessert: Rice pudding with raspberries. But the name doesn't do justice to the most amazing rice pudding I've had. One taste, and I detected the slightest hind of citrus (orange zest, I was told). A second taste uncovered sweet basil. A lovely combination with the raspberries and pudding. Yum.

I'd also like to share a very important fact that the youngest member of the MNMC, Jett, taught me last night: Babies make great knife-sharpening audiences. Who would have thought? Maybe it was the metallic notes of knife striking sharpener, but he was fixated as he sat on Annie's lap watching my every move. And very supportive—breaking out in a huge grin if I sharpened with speed, and shrieking a little cry of encouragement to keep going if I started slacking off. What a kid!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bits & Bites: The real Martini? In.

I generally don't like cocktail snobbery (who cares if someone "orders" incorrectly? To each her own), but a few sage words written by a "Martini Classicist" in the NYT (click here) today gave me reason to pause and re-consider my blatant irreverence for the original, unadulterated martini.

Definition a la Merriam Webster: mar•ti•ni• n : a cocktail made of gin and dry vermouth

And so, as an eager-to-reform member of the “generation lobotomized by vodka,” I'd like to re-visit my penchant for a martini after an official gin tasting extravaganza. Will I be able to detect hints of cardamom, cinnamon, lemon peel in these gins? Who knows. In fact, I may not end up liking any of them, but I'll try it before I knock it...
I prefer ordering my beloved dirty martini Ketel with a splash of olive juice on the rocks anyways!

Any one else game for some gin tasting?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Spring Fever = Monday Escape

I blame my late spring restlessness on our school system. It's classical conditioning at it's harshest: the arrival of May means summer vacation and zero responsibility just around the corner, right? Well, until you grow up. And no matter how many years go by sans summer vacay, I still find myself, like today, hit with a case of near-summer wanderlust, wanting to play outside, adventure to new places, and snack on treats all day long. Which is why I love the NYT Travel section. It allows me to be an escape artist at her finest, reinventing that notion of 2 weeks paid vacation we all know never really works. Today's destination: the French Alps. Snack of the day: Tartiflette. Travel time: 15 minutes. (article here)

Anyone have a good recipe for Tartiflette?
I want to re-create this melt-in-your mouth Mac & Cheese-meets-Scalloped Potatoes casserole asap.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Operation Leftovers: Carbonara Ravioli

The pickings were depressingly slim in the refrigerator when I got home this evening. The roomies were out of town, and I wasn't feeling inspired. After working a 7-hour brunch shift and a hike with my dog, however, I was in need of comfort carbs, fast. A quick inventory (tossing out the moldy cheeses and leftovers from last week), uncovered a package of mushroom & chicken ravioli from T.J.'s, eggs, parmesean and a handful of spinach and half a package of Toll House cookie dough. Not even a can of diced tomatoes to make a little sauce. I checked the freezer and the thought of turning the TJ frozen mini pizzas into dinner actually crossed my mind. Sigh. We were out of any other pasta, and I just couldn't bring myself to make another egg sandwich, so carbonara it was...but with ravioli. I was crossing my fingers. I was too hungry to fail at an edible meal tonight, too exhausted to get in my car and go anywhere, and too attached to my tip money to order in. Once I tossed the ravioli with the sauce, I added some dried herbs, garlic salt and tons of freshly ground pepper. I put the ravioli over a bed of spinach, and it was delicious. The spinach sort of takes the heaviness factor away from the rich carbonara sauce, too. Yum. Dessert: freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. And I had just enough for lunch tomorrow. Total cost: $0. Sometimes being broke can be a delicious thing.

Carbonara Ravioli:
1 Package ravioli (any pasta will do, really)
2 Eggs
1/8 C. milk (water will do if you're desperate!)
1/4 C. parmesean cheese
Fresh or dried herbs, to taste
Garlic Salt
Salt & Pepper

In a small jar or measuring glass, beat the eggs, and mix in the cheese and milk. Add fresh garlic if you have it. If not, garlic salt at the end is delicious as well. Once the pasta is cooked, drain well, and return to pot. Quickly coat the pasta with the sauce, and toss well to coat and cook the egg. The sauce should thicken, as you toss the pasta. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes. If it's not thickening, turn on the heat to medium-low while coating the pasta. Serve over a bed of spinach, or whatever you have in the fridge, with lots of parm and freshly ground pepper on top.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Prince Charmed

Ahhh! From the NYT Food Section (article here): I love that Prince Charles has his very own line of organic products—Duchy Originals—,
is the Royal Patron of the Soil Association, and has charmed the "Slow Food principle" pants off of Ms. Alice Waters herself. I totally want to go find some of these yummy looking ginger biscuits at Whole Foods.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cocktail of the Hour: The Green Tini

Last Wednesday a bunch of friends got together for a little mid-week dinner party. It was a good old-fashioned potluck and the food was fantastic. Grill master Xan served up perfectly-cooked herbed chicken, Julia and Adam made excellent use of the cast-iron pan with a delectable dish of stuffed tomatoes over polenta, and I whipped up a cold orzo salad with feta, olives and a lemony-vinaigrette. Throw in toasted pita, hummus and tzatziki courtesy of Krissy Wall, and it was a serious Mediterranean spread.

But I think I have to hand the Luckiest Pot-of-the-Evening award to the biggest green tea enthusiast in Silver Lake: Grant Saltarelli. We all know how much he loves his green tea (some one get this kid sponsored!), but he really proved himself a mixologist-in-the-making with this brilliant signature cocktail: the Grant Green Tini. And the boy's got heart. He hand-measured, shook, and poured each one for each guest, and—after one sip—wanted to make sure it was just right. I know talent when I see it. Or something like that. So I sat him down for the full recipe and a few insider tips:

1 batch of brewed green tea (white tea also works well)
Stoli Citron Vodka
Martini Shaker

Brew the batch of green tea in advance. Brew it stronger than you would if you were just drinking it by itself, but not too long. You want the flavor to stand up against the citrus vodka, which can be overwhelming. Sweeten the tea with a little honey; let cool. In a martini shaker, mix 2 parts Citron Vodka with 1 part Cointreau. Add 60 mL of tea, and shake over ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Serve immediately. If it's too strong, add some tea.

Advice for future Green Tini Makers:
"Follow these guidelines, but suit yourself," says the Boy. "Make a batch, and see where you want to take it; adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly. And—most importantly—when shaking the shaker, shake it really hard and pour quickly!" As far as the type of Vodka goes...
"Stoli is great, but if you want some T & A to impress the ladies, go with Grey Goose Citron." G.S.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

South Carolina's Low Country Highs

The weekend before last, I went on my very first Southern Adventure. Well, that's not exactly true, but considering I didn't eat much besides PBJ sandos, corn dogs and french fries for the first 12 years of my life, the family Alabama trip back in '92 doesn't count. My dear friend Natalia tied the knot in the very quaint and delightful town of Charleston, and I couldn't have been more thrilled to satisfy some of my Southern food fascination. After checking into my hotel in the historic downtown area, I rented a beach cruiser, and had the entire weekend to trek around town discovering all sorts of yummy treats.
The highlights of the Low Country included:

Kitchen soap at Charleston Cooks! They call themselves the maverick kitchen store, and it really was one of the most amazing specialty cooking shops I've been too. There was a class going on as I was in there that I got to peek my head into (culinary school, ahh, so excited), and they sell a ton of unique spices geared for cooking Low Country cuisine. The oyster bar at Hank's Seafood.
The baskets
at the City Market near the waterfront
The Shrimp & Grits at Nat's wedding, yummmm... And the Citrus Mint Martini (I didn't think a mint julep could be rivaled!) at the bar at Fig

I could have stayed another week!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Killer Shrimp!

On Friday night, my best friend and I ventured out of Silver Lake to try a restaurant by the name of KILLER SHRIMP [sweet logo,right?]

I have never been so excited to try a new restaurant since my Dad visited L.A. last year and we went to A.O.C. (a meal I will never forget) We walked in, and I seriously was so excited I couldn't talk. The low-lying haunt in Studio City exudes the dark, seedy aura of a dive bar but with the lively decór of a 70's disco roller rink (yes, those are plastic beads hanging from the ceiling). They serve one thing for dinner: Shrimp. It's served Louisiana-style in a big bowl of cajun-spiced, buttery broth. A heap of crusty french bread in a paper-napkin lined metal colander arrives with the broth, along with some naked spaghetti noodles and a serving of white rice. Classy. And killer. In fact it's so good, you can only eat about 15 bites before you die. But not from the shrimp. From the let down that ensues when eating a dish you get sick of so fast [Side Note: there needs to be a phrase for that..."killer shrimped" perhaps. As in: "The pasta was good at first, but then the overpowering flavor of fennel killer shrimped it."]

Killer Shrimp promises a lot, and it does deliver—but only for about the first 10 minutes. Then it's over, and your taste buds are left, wanting, needing more. So we ordered a bottle of wine and asked for the dessert menu. We certainly weren't leaving this one-of-a-kind, killer environment just yet. And it's a good thing stayed, because the ginormous slice of chocolate cake with raspberry filling could never be killer shrimped.

Killer Shrimp, Ventura Blvd. & Colfax, Studio City, 818-508-1570

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Small Potatoes = Big Spring Salad

I did some very light grocery shopping at Gelsons last night (sometimes avoiding the disastrous Trader Joe's parking lot situation is worth the extra $10 on food) and for whatever reason the teensy fingerling potatoes, all squished together in a little package, caught my eye. But I had been craving a grilled chicken salad...Which led me to discover quite possibly my new favorite salad: Mixed baby greens, roasted fingerlings and grilled chicken tenders with sliced avocado. Toss it all together with olive oil, lemon juice, tarragon, honey and a dash of apple cider vinegar...mmmm. There's a lingering sweetness that is just wonderful with the creamy potatoes and avocado. A couple of paper-thin slices of red onion would have been nice...but it was still a lovely spring salad: fresh, light and filling...

4 C. mixed baby greens (or one pre-washed package)
1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes
1/2 lb. chicken breast tenders, washed, dried and sprinkled lightly with: salt, pepper, garlic salt & garlic powder.
1/2 ripe avocado

Dressing (amounts are estimated, play around with them to taste):
6-8 T. olive oil
2 T. Lemon Juice
1/2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 T. Honey, plus additional to taste
1 T. chopped fresh tarragon
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the dressing: combine all the ingredients in a jar, mix well, and taste for adjustments. Set aside.

Toss potatoes lightly in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. Roast until well-browned and tender in the middle, about 20-25 minutes. While potatoes are roasting, heat a grill or sauté pan, lightly coated with olive oil over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken tenders for about 4 minutes a side, until well-browned. At this point, I covered the grill-pan with a loose foil lid, and moved it into the oven to finish cooking the chicken. This keeps it very tender! Once the chicken is done, allow to cool slightly.

Toss the greens with enough of the dressing to coat. Cut the fingerlings into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad. Slice in 1/2 the avocado, and top with sliced chicken breast. Lightly toss to mix the ingredients, adding more dressing if necessary. I like to mix in the avocado especially well, as it lends a subtle creaminess to the salad that is a great substitute for cheese.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Bits & Bites: Bon App's Beets

I finally had the time to indulge in the entire April issue of Bon Appétit yesterday. If you don't subscribe, go get it, or find the time to browse it online, because there is truly some awesome material in this particular issue. My favorite article, though, was At the Market: Beets

Fresh ideas, creative recipes, and they highlighted my absolute favorite: The Dr. Seuss-esque Chioggia beets. I love them, even though I can never find them. I welcome any suggestions on finding these little treats.
Beautiful, just beautiful...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

M.N.M.C. Concessions Edition

Despite the fact that the Monday Night Movie Club has been on hiatus for a variety of reasons, we managed to convene this past Monday to enjoy the cinematic sampling we'll call: "Zodiac." Mmmm...Mark Ruffalo...yum.

Here's the thing...I would have liked to do dinner before hand...perhaps come up with a zodiac-appropriate (nor-cal influenced) menu...fresh, creative, organic...Is that creepy??

BUT, due to busy schedules and life in general, we had to settle for meeting at the theatre...which leads me to the theme of tonight's menu: Candy. I want to add, at this point, that this candy-centric post is officially dedicated to the one and only BEN STEIN. He's the newest member of the M.N.M.C., voted in on his unwavering stance on milk duds..always gotta have your own box, baby. always.

Top 10 Candy Accoutrement for Making the Movies THAT much better:
1. Milk Duds (own box, obvy)
2. Peanut M&M's
3. Haribo Gummy Worms
4. Violet Crumble (shot out to wallasaurus)
5. Skittles, Red pack
6. Starburst, Yellow pack (keep it real, originals...)
7. Red Vines, twists
8. Junior Mints
9. Haribo Gummy Cherries (anything Haribo, actually, is acceptable)
10. Pop Rocks. Just to be annoying.

Ben Stein, you're in.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Death By Mole (poblano)

Two words: Las Glorias.
One Special of the Day (everyday!): Mole.

"Las Glorias del Buen Comer" is the unpretentious little taco stand on Silver Lake Blvd. that may have the best mole I've ever discovered stateside. Since my first bite of their mole enchiladas, a serious addiction began developing and I'm beginning to think it may kill me. (Full disclosure: I've been there for a Mole fix 6 times in the last two weeks.) What's so different about Las Glorias' mole? For starters, it takes the form of Enchilada, Pollo, even special-order Burrito and/or Tacos. You can order Mole on everything. On anything. You can never get sick of it, because it's constantly changing form. And it's insanely affordable, making my addiction even more justifiable. Who could pass up a plate of 3 Mole enchiladas (chicken), a side of refried beans, rice and a handful of chips for $5? Exactly. And the ingredients are delicious and fresh—i'm yet to encounter a nasty piece of chicken. I've never been disappointed.

Go now. I dare you. Get your mole addiction on.

Las Glorias is located right across the street from the very baffling Silver Lake haunt: Mom's Donuts & Chinese Food To Go. There are two ways to enjoy your mole: the lovely, lush outdoor patio where the sounds of soft jazz muffle the traffic on Silver Lake Blvd., or you can get it to go and eat at home—where no one can judge you.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Great Design

I love this:

Italian Murano Glass bowl

and I LOVE these:

Stonewear platters

Now where, oh where, can I get them??? I will find out, and modify this post...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Break 2K7

So I was listening to my iTunes on shuffle and NO JOKE, as soon as I typed in the title, "Spring Break 2K7," good ole Frank just had to sound off...
"Tall and tan and young and lovely/ the girl from Ipanema goes walking/ and when she passes each one she passes goes ahhhhhh..."

Oh, Sinatra, how you knew how to coin the allure of the beach beauty...

It was an appropriate musical interlude to my past weekend spent spring breaking by the beach. Inspired by the thoughts of sexy Ph.D. candidates sand and sun, my girls and I staged the 9-5ers weekend version of spring break at the closest locale to Ipanema we could manage: Santa Barbara. Ok, truth be told, the real reason for the coming together of good people was a dear friend of mine's engagement soiree, but given the nature of being in the singles crowd in such a party situation, we decided on an under-arching theme: "Spring Break 2k7, High-Low Edition" [cheap champagne at the beach-front condo is classique]. Despite the failure of said students to materialize, there were some seriously epic food moments, notably in the subject of kabobs.

One word: pineapple. I've seen it used with kabobs before, but never really understood the importance of THE key ingredient to the most amazing chicken kabobs you will ever grill. And I've made many a kabob in my day, but never has the success of one so clearly been achieved as when the addition of pineapple is had. Whatever chemical reaction occurs when you grill red onions, chicken, bell peppers and zucchini on a stick, sandwiched between thick slices of yellow pineapple, and sprinkled with a generous layer of salt and pepper, I don't know. But the end result is unbelievable. The chicken oozes with perfection, and the veggies take on a supple, grilled-ness (light char, slight crunch on the outside, perfectly cooked in the middle) I was previously unaware could exist.

Just make sure you soak your wooden skewers in water for 30 min. prior to adding the goods, otherwise the little wood sticks burn to a crisp.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dining Out: Supper Club, LE experience!

My dad called the Saturday we had reservations, around 4 pm, to confirm. The voice on the other end of the phone asked him very pointedly if we would mind wearing all black. Everyone was being asked to wear all black. Say what? "Just what is this place," I wondered. Well, it's The Supper Club. From the minute you begin to think about what you will wear for the evening, the supper club in San Francisco is an experience. With food. My three sisters and I (all visiting the folks at home for the first time in ages) dolled it up. My parents even pulled out the stops with their own very chic noir ensembles. From the minute we stepped inside the unimpressive, non-descript building on Harrison between 2nd and 3rd, the experience continued to reveal layers of ridiculousness, equally mixed with delight and it was..le exciting. Diva Dan took our coats. Diva Dan is a transvestite with a great smile, a coy attitude and one hell of a rack. He also means business, especially when doling out birthday/bachelorette/anneversiary “spanks” with a knarly paddle straight out of woodshop class in Dazed and Confused. No freshman allowed at the supper club, though. 18 and up only. And appropriately. Between the flowing booze and the cross-dressing cabaret style performance art that takes place in between courses, this private dining experience (one seating a night, no in-and-out) is outta control fun. You lounge on cushions for three hours, all while being served hand and foot. Massages cost extra, but, hey, they're available. Our server was a cross between cupid and Angel from X-Men III and was particularly skilled at passing plates of food up through the balcony to more efficiently serve the upper level diners. The food was excellent— impressive, even considering it was a five course plated extravaganza for 200. Can't wait for the excuse to go again...though I wouldn't recommend a birthday unless you don't mind Diva Dan's paddle...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kitchen Experiments: Perfectly Im-PEAR-ed

When you set forth to make a dish for the first time, there is an established process we food people have. Usually, I rely on similar dishes I've been successful with [insert calls to my mother here for her version and advice], and scan a recipe or two for the general ground rules. I've even dug back into some culinary disasters for what not to do. And then there's the adventure of attempting a dish for the first time—from scratch—with no recipe. I turn it into a personal little contest to see if I can pull it off or not. It's fun, and hell, why not just see what you can come up with, right? However, I don't usually do this when cooking for or with someone, for the sole reason there is no recipe. It's a huge gamble on the "garaunteed edible at the end."

But I actually found myself the other day challenged to take on a dish I'd never made before, sans recipe. My challenger had suggested a dessert. And rather than heed the advice of an easily accessible recipe, we agreed to display a blatant dismissal of conventionality, and engage in some serious culinary lawlessness. What form did our anarchy take? Poached Pairs in a Sweet Wine Reduction. The suggestion was perfect, actually: totally doable, and totally destroyable at the same time. I almost smirked at the moment—it was as capricous as us challengers, inspired by a free-wheeling, total disregard for responsibility or reality that can sometimes happen when tempted by a difficult culinary adventure with a like-minded seeker.

Diaglogue was blithe with a dash of audacity: How much poaching liquid? Who cares! What kind of wine? The Muscato, clearly. One vanilla bean or two? Suprise me. Nutmeg, cinnamon, freshly ground pepper? Hell, throw them all in. Did it need something sour? A dash of raspberry vinegar, perhaps? Are you grossed out yet? Never! It smells too spicy...I dare you to drink the poaching liquid... Why don't we just add some sugar instead? Brilliant!

And the success of the dish wavered constantly—between moments of faith it would end up a genuis creation, and moments where there is nothing but extreme certainty it's headed for the trash. But you can't have any expectations when discarding the recipe—like I said, there's no garauntee it's edible at the end. The case in point is that the pears were a bit overdone and the reduction destroyed by a microwave attempt to reheat it. But I'm not one to give up easily. And that's where you remember to improvise. Because served a la mode, the nuanced hint of sweet spiciness that had infused into the pears was startling delicious. Well-worth a future attempt with a few adjustments. So given the right circumstance, I highly recommend trying a new dish and challenging yourself beyond the recipe. Because sometimes NOT following the rules can be unpredicatbly yummy. Not to mention, entertaining.

For a sure-fire recipe I love for Poached Pears, Click Here

Thursday, March 15, 2007

To Do: A Thursday Trifecta, Silver Lake Edition

I used to go to the wine tastings at Silver Lake Wine fairly frequently. And then I became more discerning when loads of people started cramming the place and the free Hors d'oeuvres (paired for the wines of course) would run out way too fast for my pre-dinner appetite. I still receive the shop's email blasts, and every once in awhile a certain flight sounds good enough to brave the scene. Tonight's flight is all about the bubbly...a red and white flight to choose from. I'm there!

Afterwards, I will go to Pho Café and finish up at Pazzo Gelato for my new favorite triple scoop: The neo-neopolitan: Farmer's Market Strawberry, Dark Chocolate Martini and Madagascar Vanilla Bean with Limone. Nothing like a Thursday Silver Lake Trifecta: Buzz Wine, Binge Pho, Binge, part II Gelato.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bits & Bites: Yay! Wednesday is Food Section Day

Oooooh! PINKBERRY, you've been warned! The NYT put our L.A.-based tasty treat/trend of the year winner in check with a new competitor today. Full article here Too bad the enemy has got nothing on Pazzo Gelato in Silver Lake...

From the SF Chronicle, I highly recommend printing out Georgeanne Brennan's piece on Irish Cuisine, full article here Brilliant. Not only do I have a completely new perspective on Irish food, but the recipes make me want to throw a St. Patty's Day party. Lucky Irish.

Baby artichokes, are, as Russ Parsons points out in today's LAT's Farmers Market column irresistible. They taste just like the big ones, but they are so much cuter. I'm thinking fried baby artichoke hearts served with a side of Romesco sauce, yum.

My mom's fail proof method for fried baby artichoke hearts:
"No recipe, I just clean and quarter the hearts. Keep them in lemon water to reduce browning. Dry and dust them in a little flour/cormeal mixture, and then deep fry. A little salt and romesco sauce."
Thanks Bethina425. You rule.

We all know Trappist monks have been brewing ale for centuries, but did you know what Trappist nuns in Rome are known for? Sour black cherry preserves... Click here. Delicious!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wine Tasting in Napa Anaheim

On Sunday, the roomies and I went wine tasting in Napa. And it was all three of our first times! Well, sort of. Technically, we were simulating the Napa Valley tasting experience at Disney's California Adventure Park. In Anaheim. It was a sweaty 85 degrees, and after two hours of Disneyland, we wanted adult beverages. Alcoholic ones. After the tasting, we purchased a lovely, horribly overpriced bottle of rosé. Don't get me wrong, it was a very nice wine, but what sold me was the promise of a "frisky finish." WTF? I suppose that's part of the tourist-driven copy created for just such a simulation. I sort of wished it meant that after you finish tasting it, you become uncharacteristically frisky. Considering what followed, there may have been a grain of truth to the label. After polishing off the bottle, a stroll through Hollywood led to a detour in San Francisco. We needed food, and we were undoubtedly frisky. And so it goes that somewhere between the Mission Tortilla Factory and Pacific Wharf Distribution Co., we tamed our buzz with the most amazing burritos I've ever encountered. Amazing in a "simultaneously the worst AND best burrito of all time" sense. In a "Taco Bell" sense, but not so fast nor food, really...utterly delicious.

And then we used our little "park hoppers" to go back to Disneyland—the happiest place on earth, where all your dreams come true...

Friday, March 9, 2007

Gourmet Astrology

So I read my horoscope everyday. I don't put much stock in what they say, but it's still fun to read. So you can imagine my delight when I found my culinary horoscope! I don't believe one word of it, but it was entertaining to know that somewhere, someone figured that anyone born between January 20-February 18 should stay away from the sweets...

Check yours out!

click for your horoscope

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lovely Layers: Arts and Crafts You Can Eat

I found an article (link here), in today's LAT Food Section to be very humorous and very inspiring. The subject of the piece was a popular French dish defined as a verinnes:
(n.) an appetizer or dessert of multiple layers, arranged artfully, and served in a "protective glass."

The article makes this verinnes notion sound lavish, luxurious and so post-modern artsy to the point where I feel it's necessary to point out two things:
1) that the main course version of this concept, of course, is casserole.
2) That Oreo Dirt Cups definitely count (I'll take gummy worms over foie gras any day...well, maybe not, but still).

Not so much haute glamour after all...though I suspect some fancy-pants chefs out there may not agree.

Anyone have a good Dirt Cups recipe? I'd love to see some artful arrangements, color variation of the worm, texture variation of the pudding/frosting/whatever you put in dirt cups...

Best little bit from the article: The mention of this hip new restaurant in Paris called Sensing. If I could suddenly be in Paris in 1 hour, this is where I would want to eat. They offer a—and I quote— "Le Snacking" menu. Love it.