Wednesday, September 28, 2011

With James out of town I've been hitting a few of my local favorites. Tonight, yogurt kebabs (pictured) at carousel in Glendale along with cabbage salad and tangy muhamara dip.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Like Ships In The Night

I finally made it back and James is on his way out the door. We barely had time for one dinner together and not much in the fridge. I chopped what vegetables we had (kind of made for an unusual winter-summer combo -- corn, cauliflower, butternut squash, and onion) and tossed them with S&P, olive oil, 6 peeled cloves of garlic and fresh thyme. I put a whole chicken, cavity stuffed with parsley, thyme and lemon, right on top and drizzled with more olive oil and S&P. The whole pan roasted for 30 minutes at 475º and then about an hour more at 400º. Next time I might put the veggies in later as they did get a bit soft -- although still very appealing. But the corn, surprisingly, held up to the heat and picked up a sweet caramelized roasty flavor.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Something I Have Never Seen

At the recommendation of our dinner companion we all (well almost all) ordered what was described as parmesan pasta -- with homemade noodles. What it turned out to be was a bit of pasta theater. First oil was drizzled on a crosscut section from a wheel of parmesan cheese, and set on fire.
Next our pasta in tomato sauce was heated (in a frying pan) over the flame.
Then the pasta was dumped into the still warm cheese wheel and tossed as bits of parmesan were carved (with spoons) from the wheel.
The final result, chewy homemade pasta and slivers of delicious parmesan. A table side pasta first for me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Very Composed Nicoise

What James didn't have for dinner. A French stye salad in an Italian restaurant in Budapest. Tourist fusion.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Simple Soup

A quick snack before an afternoon meeting in Budapest turned out to be a very interesting idea. Smooth broccoli soup with sauteed wild mushrooms and a poached egg. To be honest I like my poached eggs a little less firm (well a lot less) but I love the idea of the runny yolk flavoring the grassy, simple soup.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Burger And Goodbye

I am off for ten days out of town and leaving James home with a very meager fridgeventory and 3 dogs. The least I could do is whip up some burgers (broiled burgers and then griddled in a pan on the bread for a homemade patty melt, grilled cheese style) and crispy roast mini potatoes.
Stay tuned for updates from Hungry in Hungary.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lentil Soup

Finely chopped onion, celery, carrot, garlic and crushed red chiles in olive oil is a pretty good way to start a soup. I had cooked lentils I was determined to use up and a nice bunch of broccoli rabe. I let the aromatics sauté until soft and then added in water, chicken stock, the last of a bottle of white wine and a couple of grated plum tomatoes (I really wanted tomato paste but we were all out) along with a bay leaf. Since my legumes were already cooked I let the liquid bubble for a bit but it just didn't have the depth of flavor I was looking for (I really was missing that tomato paste) so I poached a couple of links of Italian sausage in the liquid before adding in the lentils. I sliced the sausage into rounds, added them back into the pot and let everything simmer for about 10 minutes to really combine the flavors. For a bit of pleasant bitterness and a bright green flavor I boiled up some broccoli rabe and put a dollop (along with a drizzle of olive oil) on top of the soup. Simple and hearty and no need to go to the store -- a perfect Sunday night supper.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another Pizza Saturday Night

Garlic herb crust topped with onions, mushrooms, capicola, parmesan, chiles, mozzarella, and more garlic -- finished off with a fresh, lightly dressed arugula salad.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spaghetti With Pancetta and Peas

I started a saute pan with pancetta, garlic, olive oil and onion. I figure that's a pretty good place to start. While the spaghetti boiled I added in a good quantity of fresh peas and a drizzle of white wine and let the mixture simmer.
When the pasta was cooked and drained I added in the contents of the frying pan, a handful of parmesan cheese, a knob of butter, and a splash of the pasta cooking water and gave everything a good stir until a light sauce came together.
Nothing fancy, just dinner in a hurry.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Clams With Garlic and Tomatoes

I used my basic recipe for mussels and substituted clams. I made a quick tomato sauce with garlic (lots of it), butter, oregano, and white wine. Then steamed the clams in the sauce for about 6 minutes and served it up with plenty of crusty bread.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dinner With Eric and Shari

We started dinner with another great appetizer courtesy of Nancy Silverton. Her caprese with roasted tomatoes is always a hit around here. The September issue of Bon Appetit featured Silverton's recipe for home made ricotta with oven baked peperonata. We have a yard full of peppers and though I have made ricotta many times the goal of dinner was to use up ingredients in the fridge and freezer so I spread the pre-made ricotta on garlic rubbed crostini and topped with the pepper stew. I added a little olive oil to the mix and sprinkled the crostini with chopped basil for rave reviews.
Mini potatoes from our garden doused in olive oil and roasted in a hot oven (450º) with rosemary sprigs until they were crisp outside and tender inside. A perfect way to use those tiny potatoes. The steaks were the last of our store from Hearst Ranch. I marinated them in garlic, olive oil and lemon and gave them a turn on the grill.
Oven roasted green beans and grilled squash. I'd never tried roasting the beans before and I will certainly do that again. Tossed in olive oil and salt, after 15 minutes at 425º these were a real treat.
Simple ice cream sundaes for dessert. A couple days ago I put aside a bowl of plums, nectarines and grapes that were a bit past their prime. Today I cut the fruit into small pieces, mixed it with sugar and delicious, flowery Navarro vineyards Gewurztraminer grape juice and bubbled it down to a loose jam to use as a syrup with pistachio gelato and marsala whipped cream. I served cornmeal thyme cookies on the side.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

French Bread Burgers

Nothing special, broiled burger blend from nearby McCall's Butcher shop topped with salty peppered pecorino cheese.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Taste Of LA

A Labor Day weekend tasting fest on the Paramount studios backlot. My friend Monette had an extra ticket for this event called Street Eats which translated into a lot of offerings on toast. It didn't seem like such an enormous selection of restaurants but even I couldn't taste it all.A purely forgettable lamb flatbread and a griddle corn cake with black pepper horchata from Firefly in Studio City. The standout of their plates was the blackberry salsa, almost dessert almost savory blackberries and chilis. Not a great match for the corncake but it'd be great on game meats or even with ice cream. That salsa showed promise at least.
A cheerful heirloom tomato pizza from Pitfire Artisan Pizza. Pretty good, but I was pretty stuffed by the time this pie came around.
One of the many, grilled cheese offerings at the event. This duo offered by Justin vineyards with assurance it would be the best grilled cheese we ever ate. It's wasn't, but the pumpernickel fontina combo wasn't bad.
More grilled cheese. This time from The Grilled Cheese truck. Brioche slices stuffed with macaroni and cheese and melted American. Mush.
Ice cream truck sensation Coolhaus offered a variety of unique cookie flavors (pistachio black truffle cookies?) and ice creams (pineapple serrano chili sorbet). These are the Double chocolate Black Pepper and Red Velvet cookies with Marker's Mark ice cream. Honestly I don't see what the fuss is about. The cookies could have just as easily been from the Costco bakery and the Marker's Mark flavor was way too strong. Nice texture on the ice cream though.
A sweet display of cupcakes from Cake Mamas. I really liked the idea of the peanut butter and jelly cupcake, an airy white cake with a drizzle of jelly and peanut butter frosting. Good idea, so-so execution. The frosting was like biting into a jar of Jif -- way too overpowering for the cake.
The most fun exhibitor of the event, Chef Eric Greenspan of The Foundry and the recently opened Roof on Wilshire. Chef Greenspan is a former winner of the Grilled Cheese Invitational and brought his award wining sandwich and trophy (a hint of what's to come at his soon to open grilled cheese restaurant) to Taste of LA.
The best savory dish of the event. Eric Greenspan's grilled cheese featured raisin bread, pungent taleggio cheese and an intoxicating apricot caper marmalade.
Some chefs brought the thunder and others barely showed up. TiroVino Wine Bar offered this unhappy sausage sandwich. They should stick to wine.
A food sensation on the LA scene, Susan Fenniger's Kaya Toast has foodies running to her restaurant. Street, and has inspired a T shirt for fans. Kaya toast is a popular street food in Singapore that combines a silky sweet coconut jam with dark soy sauce eaten with brioche. Fenniger made waves on Top Chef Master's when she presented a version on the show. I'm glad I tried it. It's interesting. I'm not sure that I'll be running back for more.
Another sad little plate from TiroVino. Brisket rolled around a cabbage that Monette declared a combination of Passover and St Patrick's Day.
Chicken mole tamales from LA Oaxacan standby Guelaguetza.
Caramelized bacon trail mix from cast Iron Foods, like a Trader Joe's package with bacon added.
Another chicken dish. Chicken Itza brought these fried corn tortillas, black beans, and chicken. Not bad, but the best part was the super, super hot sauce served on the side. My lips were tingling.
Tingling lips were a great excuse for a quick bite of creme caramel from, where else -- Creme Caramel LA, a small business selling out of farmer's markets and online orders. This little bite was creamy and delicious and exactly what creme caramel should be. It would have been the best bite of the event if not for . . .
Caramelized bacon bread pudding, also from Creme Caramel LA. Outrageous! Probably doesn't qualify as street food but it was by far the best bite of Taste LA.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Spicy Dinner With Friends

It all started with a pork shoulder. I had one in the freezer from our poultry CSA and it was too big for just James so I needed friends to help us eat it -- time to call K&D. I decided to stew the meat, New Mexico style with chili powder for a crock pot batch of carne adovado, a staple in the Land of Enchantment but little known elsewhere.
Once I had started on that path I naturally came to beans. Although the occasional bowl of posole fits the bill it's kind of hard to imagine spicy food without beans and so I went from New Mexico to old Mexico with a pot of drunken beans, pintos cooked with bacon, onion, oregano, garlic, jalapenos, and beer. You saute the aromatics first (can bacon be considered and aromatic, I wonder) add in the beans, peppers, and beer, water and bring to a boil The beans bake in the over (300º) for about an hour and a half leaving the stovetop free for other dishes.
One of our favorite salads isn't a salad at all, really. It's a cuban style platter of avocado and red onion dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil. A perfect cooling side dish.
Pork, chili powder, crock pot . . . main dish for company.
Cilantro rice, based on a recipe from Rick Bayless (he's my go to guy for Mexican). I heated chili peppers (Rick called for poblanos but I have these darling peroncicni in the garden and tossed 3 -- seeded and stemmed -- in) in chicken broth (3 1/2 cups) along with a handful of cilantro -- stems and all. I brought the liquid up to a boil and let it simmer, covered for 10 minutes. When the peppers were softened I transferred the liquid to the blend and pureed it all until smooth. Next I sauteed rice (2 cups) and chopped onion (1/2 medium) in olive oil until the rice was chalky and the onions starting to soften. I added the liquid from the blender and the rice from the pan to my rice cooker. With company coming it's nice to have a dish, or two, that doesn't need last minute attention from the cook. When the rice was finished I gave it a fluff with a fork and let it stay in the cooker staying warm until dinner was served. Because my peppers were a bit more red than green my rice didn't have the vibrant color this celebratory dish is famous for but the flavor --and the aroma -- were all there.
I could call this cake cuatro leches I suppose. The super sweet, creamy Latin favorite is basically a spongy light cake soaked in 3 kinds of milk -- condensed, evaporated, and heavy cream. Following a recipe from Saveur magazine I added a topping of dulce de leche -- a caramelized milk topping popular pretty much throughout the Spanish speaking world. I had a jar I brought home from Uruguay a while back. I love that this recipe offers the airiness of beaten egg whites but only uses one beater and one bowl to get ready. I topped our cakes with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Dreamy texture, sweet topping, the perfect dessert.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Something For Starters

Stay tuned tomorrow for the dinner that followed, but we started a spicy dinner with this platter of cantaloupe and cucumbers sprinkled with lime and chili powder and my secret super easy Mexican style shrimp cocktail. Based on a recipe from Rick Bayless (so it has to be good), I mix 1 pound of bay shrimp with 1/2 cup of ketchup (yes ketchup and shrimp), 2 TB of hot sauce, 2 TB of olive oil, chopped cilantro, 1/2 small onions finely chopped, 1 cup diced cucumber, 1 avocado cut into small cubes and the juice of 1/2 a lime. Tossed together and served with chips it's an appetizer people just can't stop eating. Just the kind I like to serve.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chopped vegetables, fresh peas, leftover chicken, broth, and egg noodles (and of course some butter, oil, ad flour): 30 minutes later it's soup for dinner -- sprinkled with chopped parsley and basil.