Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Lentils with Roasted Tomatoes

Hey hey sweeties, how are you today? Happy Wednesday! Me, I am recovering from a rockin' good night replete with fine dining, good friends, belly laughs and some extremely quality champagne. It left me floating, and now I am all kinds of hyped for the holidays, if not just a little bit distracted by all the glittering lights and swirling colors around town.

That out of the way, I thought I would say, I'm not the hugest fan of posting just for posting's sake, but since I have these super-licious photos of foodstuffs made with the results of my last Kitchen Project, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, I am compelled to share. They are just two examples of easy ways to incorporate such a tasty ingredient. The uses for this are only limited by your imagination for sure.

First up, French Puy lentils (also known as lentils vert or lentilles de Puy) made heady with garlic, bacon, rosemary and, of course, tomatoes. Simple as can be and not only a wonderful side dish but equally good as a warm or cold salad. What I, and pretty much everyone I'm guessing, love about French lentils (what makes them particularly French, I'm unsure about) is that unlike their more common cousins, they retain their shape when cooked. They also arent quite as earthy as regular (brown) lentils and have a more peppery taste. They are also just super beautiful. They look a lot like little green-grey pebbles. I love it.

So to make this, you just simmer the lentils in a large pot of unsalted water (the water should come up an inch over how ever many lentils you threw in) with a clove or two of garlic and some minced rosemary. They will take about 30 minutes to cook at a medium-low simmer.

When they are done (fish one out and taste it, thats the best way to know, right?) add a generous amount of salt to the pot. Let sit for five more minutes with the flame off. Meanwhile, cook the bacon. Remove from the pan, blot and chop up. Drain the lentils, fish out the garlic, and put them into the pan you cooked the bacon in. Add the bacon back in. Season to taste and enjoy.

Next up, a gratifying slice of wholemeal bread, (thats Brit-speak for whole grain) topped with creamy-tangy boucheron chevre cheese, the aforementioned oven roasted tomatoes with thyme and a little bit of coarse ground salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Recipe unnecessary except to say, I brushed the bread with some of the tomato oil before adding the cheese and served it with oil cured black olives. Nifty delicious. Try it and enjoy.


The Wine Spectator has just annouced its Top 100 Wines of the Year...And the winner is...2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley. "One sip of the 2002 Insignia makes a persuasive argument about the magic of Napa Valley Cabernet when married with its companion Bordeaux grape varieties." Phelp's sensational #1 2002 Insignia, is a spectacular red wine that earned 96 point ratings from both Wine Spectator and Robert Parker. $150.00/bottle - Wally

Israelis eat 28 lbs turkey per person per year, the worlds highest consumption

Thought to have originated in the Near East or Mediterranean area, lentils are known as dal or dahl in India

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Kitchen Project: Roasted Tomatoes

Welcome back to my humble little blog for yet another inspiring (I hope anyway) Kitchen Project. Up this time, the marvelous slow roasted tomato. By breaking down the sugars, and getting some of the moisture to evaporate the tomatoes are denser, meatier, more complex (a word I find is overused in reference to roasting, and yet, really is the most appropriate.), totally multifarious ingredient.

This method truly is the best way to coax the flavor from readily available, yet, not really tasty in the winter time product. The results have versatility is beyond compare. You can use them as a base for many sauces, add them into a stew, or soup, mix in macaroni with cheese sauce, put on pizza or bruchetta, stir in with lentils as a side dish, or use in omelets. The list goes on and on. They also taste amazing all on their own. Mmm. What would you do if you had a jar full in your fridge right now?

You say haven't got any in your fridge right now? Well, my sweet peaches, let's go ahead and fix that.

And before you say anything, yes, it's a long procedure. It is. But that's the idea behind a Kitchen Project. It's something you can do when it's raining out and are spending time in your kitchen anyway lazing a day away. And once you have mastered it, you won't need a recipe to do it again so try it, and enjoy.

You'll need:
Firm Tomatoes, Thyme, Garlic, Olive Oil and Salt

First things first. Preheat your oven to 170F.

Line a sheet pan (with a rim) with foil or parchment or a silicon baking mat

Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil. Then wash off your tomatoes.

Using a small, sharp knife, cut an "X" into the bottom of the tomato. You are trying to pierce the skin, not really cut too far into the flesh. Then use the tip of your knife to cut out the core/stem end like a cork/plug. Don't cut too deeply in here either.

Carefully add the tomatoes, a few at a time (if you add too many, say more than five, the temperature of the water will drop too much to do what you want it to do) to the pot and let them boil for, oh, say 30-45 seconds. You are not cooking them, you are loosening the skin. When you see the peels curling back they are ready to take out.

Using a slotted spoon or your tongs, remove the tomatoes from the pot and set aside to cool enough so you can handle them. Continue doing this until they are all blanched. Now you should be able to slip the skins right on off. If you are compelled to not waste anything, you can dehydrate the skins in a dehydrator, then ground them to a powder and use like you would a spice. Then again, that's pretty durned fussy.

Your next step is to cut the tomatoes in half through the equators, and over your sink, give them a gentle squeeze to get the seeds out. You can totally skip this step, but once you're in, you might as well go for it. If you stopped here, you would have tomato concasse. Worthwhile with sweeter, summertime tomatoes.

Rough chop the now skinned and de-seeded tomatoes. Spread them on the sheet pan in a single layer. Add a few sprigs of thyme, a few cloves of peeled garlic. Douse heartily with some olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Put the sheet pan into the oven and walk away for, oh, say three hours. Peek in here and again and stir, but other than that, you're golden.

I can't really tell you how to know when they are done other than to say they will be a bit shriveled (Hmm. Now there is a word you don't see often in recipes) and dry. They will not be browned though. The oil at the bottom of the pan will be reddish too.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Store the tomatoes and oil in a glass container with a lid for up to three weeks. They freeze well too.


Concasse/Concasser (French): Tomatoes that have been peeled and, seeded and chopped

Grass scattered with rock salt is more appetizing for to cattle. They eat more and gain weight; Rock salt is used to fertilise soil with sodium, which makes sugar beet yield more sugar.

New York is the nation's second largest wine producer after California. The Empire State's 30-thousand acres of vineyards and 212 wineries produce 200 million bottles of wine a year. - AP

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Monday, November 28, 2005


Lemon-Fire Pasta

Let's face it kids, for the most part, pasta recipes are a total bore. They are a medley of cooked noodles and sauce/meat/seafood/etc. Sometimes inspired and transporting, but mostly, not.

So feeling that way, why have I got a lovely picture of noodles tantalizingly posted on the screen? Because kids, that is not a recipe for pasta, that is a recipe for pasta with limoncello.

Limoncello is a lemon flavored cordial that is so simple to make at home there is no excuse whatsoever (barring sobriety) that you shouldn't have some on hand at all times. I first had it sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea, in the ultra-fantastically-dreamy town of Manarola in Cinque Terra, Italy, with my sensationally food-centric, master-chef, Italian-American Step-Father pouring. I was rapturous over it's taste. An instant convert. Later that week I tried to buy a bottle, and was stopped with a smile. "No, no, my dear, this, I will show you how to make." Thus began my flavored vodka making frenzy that has never really abated.

The vibrant yellow color and lemon-rific flavor will send you right into your own dizzying summer sunset. And the bonus of course is that it is great in loads of dishes, from the most simple, to the outrageously complex. (Try marinating squid in it. Sigh.) Here for instance, I simply combined it with some oil and other ingredients for a fiery hot, electrifying, taste sensation. that whips up in a second. Boring old noodles with sauce, this is not. Try it, and enjoy.

For limoncello:

1 750 ml bottle (minus a few sips) vodka or Everclear
8 large organic lemons, scrubbed clean
1/4 cup white sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated to dissolve the sugar, then cooled)

Using a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, remove the yellow zest from the lemons in large strips. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and let steep for up to 3 months in your freezer.

For the pasta:

1 pound long noodles
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup limoncello
1 teaspoon lemon zest, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted
Salt to taste
Black pepper, parsley and parmesan cheese for garnish

In a large, covered pot bring heavily salted water to a boil. Remove the lid, add the pasta, give it a stir and cook per package directions for al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, shaking the pan often until just turning golden, about three minutes. Remove from the pan and return the pan to the burner.

Lower the heat and add the olive oil and limoncello. Toss in the pepper flakes and lemon zest. It will fizzle. Let warm through while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is done, drain, then pour into a large bowl, toss with the lemon oil, pine nuts, parsley and black pepper (to taste). Pass with parmesan cheese.

Serves six to eight as a first course.

Additions: Capers, black olives, anchovies, frizzled leeks, scallops, broiled chicken, artichoke hearts...well, anything that you would put in pasta, right?


"Why do you think we add vodka to Penne alla Vodka?" says Shirley Corriher, food scientist and author. "Beverage alcohol actually dissolves flavor components and brings them out into the sauce."

In Italy, commercially made limoncello accounts for 65.3 percent of all sweet liqueur sold

The pine nut is also called the pinion nut or pignolia. It is mainly gathered in October in southern Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado from the stone pine (pinion means pine) trees.

From a reader: "Hi, I saw this and thought it was a great idea but badly presented. Check it out." Cooking By Numbers

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Sunday, November 27, 2005


Rosemary Shortbread - IMBB Cookie Swap

The plainest looking foods can also be the tastiest, but a purdy picture sure does make a dish look more appealing and drive us to want to make it, am I right? That being said, it's so totally unfair to the less photogenic dishes out there! We shouldn't shy away from a recipe just because we know it won't turn out red-carpet ready.

Which of course, brings me to my own consistantly unappealing looking baking. Tragic, but alas, true. Not being a baker-kinda-girl, but being all about a pretty presentation, I shy away from home made desserts because I just can't abide shrinking violet foods. Even feeling that way, I still had to make these utterly divine little cookies for Sugar High Friday/Is My Blog Burning.

They are the simplest sort of treat, not requiring much in the way of equipment, just a few minutes of your time, and voila, something buttery (dee-licious), something crumbly, (quick, lean over your plate!) sweet (hey sugar!) with just a hint of sophistication. (That's you Rosemary baby. All sophistication all the time. Yeowza) A grown up cookie that compliments that glass of wine, shot of Ouzo, your cuppa tea or even paired with some apples a cheese. Trouble is, as you can see, they are a bit on the Plain-Jane side, looks wise. Then again, while they may not be the mostest fancy sweets at the ball, they sure do hold their own taste wise. This is the perfect recipe to play with. Try it, and enjoy.

2 cups white flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon minced rosemary
1 cup highest quality butter, cut into pieces

Preheat your oven to 300F

In a medium bowl stir together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and rosemary. Using your hands quickly mash the butter into the flour mixture until it just comes together as dough. Pour that into a well buttered 9x9 glass baking dish (glass works best here, the size is negotiable) and smoosh down (that's right kids, smoosh) to make an even layer.

Using a fork, perforate the dough into small squares.

Bake for 20 minutes or until just slightly golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool. Remove carefully from the pan, they are super duper crumbly.

Keeps up to a week in a covered container.

Makes about 36 shortbreads

Variations: Add chopped nuts, lemon zest, ground cardamom, nutmeg or coarse black pepper. You can also top the cookies with sanding sugar.


Tagged with: +

"Heavy rain in Hawke's Bay (New Zealand) over the weekend has wiped out a large portion of the region's cherry crop. Summerfruit sector chairman Brian Fulford says a third of the crop has already been picked but about a third of what is left on the trees will now be ruined." -

The value of all Danish dairy exports totals EUR 1.6 billion annually. The industry accounts for approx. 10,000 jobs. Denmark is the first country in the world to have banned the use of hydrogenated fat. Since the beginning of last year it’s been illegal to sell products in which trans fat is more than 2% of the total fat.

Shortbread was/is the original Girl Scout Cookie

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My Blog Went Up In Flames!

While trying to rationalize posting my hideous looking (but delicious tasting) Shortbread Cookie pictures for this months IMBB/SHF I had an idea.

I thought as a one off, people could submit your WORST/just plain bad food shot. Obviously, it does not have to have been posted, but bonus points if another version was.

Winners will be judged on the following:

- Description
- Is is obvious what it was? The less obvious, the better
- Lighting
- Backstory
- Unappetizingness (Not a word, but you get my point)

I certainly have a huge back log of terrible shots (Grey Swedish Meatballs in garishly violet Lingonberry cream sauce with a blinding glare, anyone?) and would love to see what YOU have too.

So, if you dare, please email your shots to by December 4th, I will compile a list with links for the next week.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Balsamic & Molasses Sweet Potatoes

I am not the sort of girl who gets all in a dither over made-for-TV chefs. I just find most of their shows to be a teeny bit too chipper and the recipes are typically not anything I would make. Pretty people making pretty food. That doesn't mean I don't watch them sometimes, I just find I tune them out more often than not. (And besides, I get way more ideas from reading other food blogs!) "But, what about your post about Michael Chiarello's show, Easy Entertaining a few months ago?" You say? Well, turns out, on more than one occasion his program has really and truly inspired me. I watch his show and find myself getting excited to try the recipes, and have never been disappointed. This recipe is a prime example.

There I sat, a few days ago, watching Chef Chiarello bring this together for his Thanksgiving special, with my head cocked and eyes glazed over. I leaned forward, I sniffed the air in hopes the scent had somehow filtered through the screen. I may have bounced in my seat. As the show was ending I was half out the door to buy molasses (I used a lot last week baking gingerbread) and get cooking. It was well worth it. I only wish you too could lean forward and smell this through the screen. I have never, and I mean never, encountered such a fantasmagorical combination of flavors.

Sure, its not the most photogenic, but the taste? Boggles the mind. The layers of flavors mingle to a perfect balance. The deeply complex balsamic tames the rich and intense and just a tiny bit acrid molasses, they play off the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the vibrant rosemary and hint of fragrant sage. It is a sensation. All rich and vivacious buttery smoothness with a bite. I praise Michael Chiarello for inspiring this recipe. (I have made a few wee changes) It is just supreme. Please do try it, and enjoy.

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium cubes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 teaspoons minced rosemary and sage
1/4 cup best quality balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat your oven to 350F

Line a sheet pan (with sides) with foil/parchment/a silpat.

In a small saute pan, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the herbs, vinegar and molasses. Pour this over your cubed potatoes, and stir to combine. Its ok if there is a lot of extra liquid, pour that on in too.

Spread the potatoes in a single layer on the sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Roast until softened, about 45 minutes. They are done when you can insert a small knife into a piece with no resistance.

At this point you can serve the sweet potatoes as they are, (which I seriously considered doing) or puree in small batches in your Cuisinart/Magimix/blender.

Taste, adjust seaonings as you see fit and serve.

Makes enough for six - eight people as a side dish.

Goes super well with steamed Brussles sprouts. Mmmm.


Molasses was so important that the founders of the United States colony of Georgia promised each man, woman, and child who endured a year in Georgia 64 quarts of molasses as a reward.

Molasses is the primary flavoring in rum. Prior to the American Revolutionary war, it is estimated that Colonists, (men, women and children,) drank an average of four gallons of rum a year. - Grandma's

Raised in the heart of Brooklyn, the son of a children's clothing manufacturer and a stay-at-home mother, Mr. (Isaac) Mizrahi watched an inordinate amount of television growing up. To this day, he said, he is unable to fall asleep without the TV on. The Food Network is his favorite, he revealed, before offering a 10-minute testimonial to the genius of the chef Emeril Lagasse. He was not being ironic. As a child, Mr. Mizrahi said, he dreamed of being a raconteur: the über-dinner guest sprinkling bon mots over red wine and beef Bolognese. "Isaac," his daily hourlong talk show, premieres Dec. 5 on the Style cable channel. -NY

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Friday, November 25, 2005


Pomegranate, Blueberry & Vodka Cocktail

Phew. After all that giving of thanks yesterday, I could use a drink. This drink in fact. Makes for a festive time indeed. And bonus! This drink is healthy! (Sort of.)

It is a fruity, strong and somewhat tart bev that includes one of the extra delicious super foods - blueberries. I do love the concept of superfoods. Fruits and veg that are tasty and good for us. (Wait a minute here. Aren't they all good for us? Which veg, specifically is not good for us?) What more can you ask for. (Though, I am compelled to note, that while concept of superfoods can and should be used to promote healthy eating choices, it is not proven scientifically and still very much debatable.)

Known for lots of positive properties, blueberries have more antioxidants than most other fruits and vegetables. Research has also shown that a diet rich in blueberry extract, helps people show less short-term memory loss, better balance and better coordination. If that is a fact, my yoga instructor must live on the stuff. I swear. That flexible man can balance in ways that leaves a girls mind wondering (and wandering)...

Blueberry juice mixed with pomegrante juice, which is also highly touted as being something we can all use more of, makes it so this isn't just a little drinky-poo, it's a SUPER cocktail. The perfect libation. Making you feel good, all the way round. Try it and enjoy.

1 1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Pomegranate juice
Splash of pure blueberry juice
Lemon twist or slice for garnish

Run your intended serving glass (I photographed this drink in a martini glass, but am not the type of girl who drinks from those, it was just for effect. They splash too much of the drink, and that kills me) under the tap for a second to wet it, then put it (them) into the freezer, rim side down for a few minutes until nice n' frosty.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the some ice, pomegranate juice, vodka and a small splash of blueberry juice. The blueberry juice is just a splash because the flavor is really strong. Pour a small sip to taste and adjust flavors as you see fit. Strain into the frosted glasses and garnish with lemon. Serve, enjoy and repeat.


The word pomegranate comes from the Latin term "fruit of many seeds." Clever!

This is going to blow your mind. Ready? Bar is short for barrier. No, really, it is. Crazy, huh!

Over 200 million pounds of blueberries, which are native to the continent, are grown every year in North America. Over 1500 new products containing blueberries were introduced last year. -


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Brussles Sprouts

My newest favoritest chicky, (who also happens to be the Ombudsman's sister-in-law, which I only mention because it weirds him out that she and I are friendly...heh, heh, heh) emailed me from glorious San Diego to ask for a Thanksgiving side dish suggestion. Whoo-eee. She turned to the right girl. Of course, my immediate reaction is brussels sprouts with pancetta and parmesan. A favorite of mine and my family for sure. (They have all been clamoring for this recipe for years, btw)

The sprouts come out sweet and flavorful, deeply nutty from roasting, salty from the pancetta (which you can totally leave out. I do most of the time. I just replace it with olive oil) and just amazingly scrumptious. You will be converted. Try it, and enjoy. Oh, and for those of you who will be celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be back later this week...

1 1/2 pounds brussles sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2 strips of bacon or slices of pancetta
Parmesan cheese
salt as needed

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or a silpat and bake the pancetta for 8 minutes, while the sprouts are boiling.

Boil the sprouts in the chicken stock diluted with 1 cup of water, the sugar and salt until crisp tender, about 8 minutes. (Use plain water if you want.)

Remove the sprouts from the stock with a slotted spoon (you can save it to make cabbage soup later, I suppose.) and let drain in a colander for a few minutes.

Remove the pancetta from the oven. Take it off the foil and set aside. Place the sprouts cut side down onto the (greased) foil. Roast for 10 minutes or until browned.

Toss the diced pancetta with the sprouts. Grate parmesan over and serve immediately.

Makes 1 large serving for me, or 6-8 for your friends and family.


It's Wednesday again, and if you have been following for the past month, its time for me to check in and see what is up with The Los Angeles Times and their lack of food blogging coverage. Well cats and kittens, I am pleased to report the Times has indeed reported on Food Blogging. Two years ago in fact. (Gulp. Blush.) Sure, they talked mostly about Clotilde (Challenge: I will send, via paypal, $100 to the first reader who links me to a single legitimate press review of her or her site that does not include the words "cute," "adorable," "darling," or "precious." I am serious too. Get lookin'. I mean this in the spirit of fun, since I too think she is darling, but I am also curious of one such review exisits) and Julie/Julia, and not one Los Angeles based blogger was included, but again, I do stand corrected, and wanted to say so. I still hope some day they will cover some of the great local bloggers, since what they covered is already quite dated, but in the mean time, I will let it go.

Thomas Jefferson, introduced Brussels sprouts to North America in 1812. The vegetable may have been given its name from the fact it was sold in Brussels' markets in the 1200's.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Fried Baby Artichokes with Lemons & Parmesan

Thanksgiving is only celebrated in North America. So for most of the world, it's just not a holiday that resonates or holds any credence. It is, at it's heart, a harvest festival, and a time for giving thanks. (Or, you know, watching American Football) Manufactured or not, it is a day we take to spend with family and eat ourselves silly on very traditional foods. I figure everyone gets that. Any which way, it's here and for the next few days, very much in our faces.

Since not everyone around the world takes part, I'm going to post another cocktail snack that I just cannot get enough of. It's a way to work on your small knife weilding skills and requires a bit caution with frying. All of which is good. Cooking within your comfort zone is always nice, but a little challenge, that results in super delicious food, well, thats a worthwhile endeavor indeed.

Here we have the most adorable of all thistles, the baby artichoke, a tiny version of a Mediterranean favorite. First off, as I have covered (ad naseum, I'm sure) fried is my favorite food group, and second, it is just plain classic and tasty. It has all the same adjectives associated with it that go with pretty much all the recipes I post here. Crispy, salty, piquant, zesty and outrageously mouthwatering. The only thing about this is that it is for sure one of those recipes that takes longer to prep than it does to eat, but is so worth it you won't care. Try it, and enjoy!

24 small artichokes, trimmed
Vegetable oil
1 lemon, sliced as thin as possible
Shaved parmesan cheese

What you are trying to do here is remove the inedible parts of the artichoke. Start by snapping off the outer leaves of the artichoke until you are down to the paler yellow leaves. Cut off the top 1/4 inch, and trim off the lower portion to expose the choke. Cut into quarters and set aside. It does not matter if they turn brown (and they will a little) because they are going to brown when you fry them.

In a medium pan, pour in 1/4 inch oil and heat over medium. It is ready when a teeny-tiny drop of water spritzed into it sizzles. Add the trimmed artichokes in small batches (too many at a time will lower the temperature of the oil and they won't brown properly) cook, turning a few times, until just browned. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a few layers of paper towel.

When the artichokes are done, very, very carefully add the lemon slices. They will splatter like crazy. Be careful! Turn once and remove as soon as there is any browning. Drain on the paper towels with the artichokes. Toss with salt, garnish with a few shavings of parmesan cheese.

Serves four


One hundred percent of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California

Queen Creek Olive Mill in Tempe, Arizona offers tours and a press your own oil experience

November is National Peanut Butter Lover's Month

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Monday, November 21, 2005


Flying Solo/Warm Mixed Nuts

The flight from Los Angeles International Airport to John F. Kennedy Airport in NYC is approximately five hours and 22 minutes. Tack on the hour given to get through traffic to the airport, the two-hour-in-advance security (what a joke) check, plus the thirty minutes to get my bag at the other end, a 25 minute cab ride then a two hour Jitney ride (the worlds most silent form of transportation. It's beyond odd. The coach is packed, and yet no one breathes a word. Then, the ticket girls pass out chips and water. And you stare at the chips, and might even want the chips, but NO. That would break the eerie silence. It is pure torture.) and ten minutes to Auntie Shesh's house, and let's just say that by the time I am there, I am ready to lay my little head down and pass out until I have to turn around and go back.

If that sounds like I'm complaining I am not. It's all worth it to be somewhere wintery for a fun holiday with my family who I so adore. I could have stayed home and gone to Auntie O's house, but this year I wanted to go east. So back to my flight. I get my seat assignment. The flight is sold out/over-booked. The woman behind the counter, giddily tells me the man I will be sitting next to is cute, and she "thinks" might be a celebrity of some sort, but she isn't sure. I blush, thank her, and retreat.

The next two hours I sit wondering what celebrity she meant. If it is going to be someone super good, I may have to struggle to maintain my composure. Then again, anyone that good would be on a private jet, right?

My flight is called and at the last possible minute I climb aboard and scan for my seat and for who I will be sitting next to. My eyes land on him, and thankfully he is looking the other way. My heart skips a beat, and not in a good way. I would recognize the back of that head anywhere. I panic. I look around wildly for another seat. I contemplate swapping out for a middle seat in coach. This is awful! 5 hours and 22 minutes next to this man? (And no, it's not Carrot-Top. That would have been a simple fix. I would have rebooked my flight.) This man is no celebrity! (Infamous in some circles, maybe, but that's about it) This man is my ex-boyfriend. What are the odds.

I retreat to the galley, explain everything to a very sympathetic flight attendant, who graciously agrees that is not who I want to be next to for the next chunk of my day. She discreetly starts asking other passengers if they will swap with me, deviously explaining I am a touch ill and need to be nearer to the front of the plane. (Bless her heart) Finally a deal is struck, a woman casually relocates and I sink into my seat, buckle in and pray he doesn't notice me. I am so not in the mood for his charms. He does of course spot me, (foiled!) and comes over after the meal to say hello, I was able to smile bravely and it was over in no time. I was relieved, and ordered another glass of scotch. My annoyance and shock melting away like the miles between us.

Now, none of that has anything to do with the spirit of the holiday, or even food. I just wanted to share because it was so bizarre. So as a consolation, here is my recipe for warm, spiced nuts. Not at all like what they serve on the fact, much better. Sweet, hot, salty and delicious (Not just a recipe for cocktail snacks, it's the recipe for my ideal boy! Ta-dum!) try this quick recipe, and enjoy.

2 cups mixed nuts (any type you like)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary and thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper

Add the nuts to a large saute pan over high heat. Shake vigorously to lightly toast. After 2 minutes, reduce the heat to low. Add the butter, let melt and stir to coat the nuts. When coated, add the rest of the ingredients, stirring constantly for another 2 minutes.

Pour the hot mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper or a cool non-stick baking sheet. Stir as it cools. The sugar-butter mixture will harden, don't worry, just break it up.

Serve immediately or can be kept in a sealed container for up to three days.


California walnuts account for 99 percent of the commercial US supply and two-thirds of world supply. The first commercial plantings in California began in 1867 when Joseph Sexton, an orchardist and nurseryman in Goleta, planted English walnuts. -

Airline crews are advised to drink four glasses of water per hour of in-flight time

Goat meat imports to the U.S. jumped about 140% over a seven-year period ending in 2003. Now some California farmers see gold in goat. They are expanding their herds, hoping to cash in on consumers' broadening tastes. 40% of the goat meat consumed in the U.S. is imported from Australia and New Zealand. The remainder is produced by farmers with herds ranging from 15 to 8,000 animals. In California and across the nation, the fast-growing Muslim, Latino and Asian communities are pushing up the demand for one of the most widely consumed meats in the world. California — with more than 100,000 goats — trails only Texas and Tennessee in the size of its herd.
-Los Angeles Times

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Sunday, November 20, 2005


Squash Soup

Oh wowie. I had a dinner party last night, and here and now will humbly state, it went rather well. I eschewed going to the market (only ended up buying some crackers) and instead just put out and cooked only the contents of my cupboard and fridge. It's something I do on occasion and it always seems to work out nicely, resulting in a somewhat ecclectic menu.

The trouble started when two of my guests showed up with, instead of the customary bottle of wine, a large thermos of pre mixed cocktails. It's as if they know me! (Oh wait, they do know me!) The consumption of that thermos, coupled with an abundance of food, led to quite a bit of silliness, things being flung over the balcony and someone (no names please) going missing and being found after a short hunt, passed out in the hall closet. Oops. Overall, I would say, it was a successful party indeed.

Per usual, I made the typical slew of tasty cocktail nibbles, a full meal and dessert. For the starter, I whipped up this luscious, velvety, warming soup. Flavorful, elegant and simple to pull together, I recommend you try it. Pumpkins aren't just for pies you know. It took about 30 minutes total. Try it, and enjoy!

Olive oil
2 large onions, rough chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and rough chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
5 sage leaves
1 small sugar pumpkin, roasted
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and rough chopped
1 cup corn kernels
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Pinch of sugar
Salt and white pepper to taste

Wild rice blend and minced sage for garnish

In a large soup pot, saute the onion and carrots in a scant tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, until quite soft.

Add the stock, minced sage, pumpkin, potato and sweet potato. Simmer over low heat for 25 minutes to soften the potatoes and combine the flavors. When the vegetables are complete mush, blend with an immersion blender (or a regular blender) until smooth. Season to taste.

Add the corn, vinegar and sugar and let simmer for a few more minutes. Serve with warm wild rice blend and minced sage leaves.

Makes enough for eight


Corn is the largest crop in the United States, in terms of acres planted and the value of the crop produced. It is also the most widely distributed crop in the world. - What's Cooking

Morton Illinois is the "Pumpkin Capital of the World". Home of Nestle/Libby's pumpkin packing plant, 80% of the world's canned pumpkin is processed there.

Six weeks after suffering through Hurricane Stan, Guatemala is facing a second crisis when food gets scarce this winter in rural Mayan villages. While the government has been praised for its response after a slow start, the communities now depend on international aid. But that has been slow in coming, mainly due to bigger disasters around the world this year, including the Pakistan earthquake that struck a few days later. The United Nations has warned of a hunger crisis in Guatemala if enough funds aren't raised to buy food for 285,000 villagers in the next six months. - Witchita Eagle

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Saturday, November 19, 2005


Late Night Snacking

The hang over. A sure sign that liver of yours might not be in tip top shape. It's not like when you (or, I should say, I) were 22 and a night out could (and on occasion did) include two shots of jaggermeister, a shot of goldschlagger, an Alabama slammer (only 22 year olds drink those, right?) a mudslide (yikes!) and then a few gin and tonics or rum and cokes before you got up first thing in the morning and went for a run or wrote a term paper. That may be considered binge drinking and we do not advocate such irresponsible behaviour. No my friends, those days (thank GOODNESS) are well behind us (me) and now, it's all about moderation, a pre dinner martini or a heart healthy glass of red wine perhaps, but overloading on assorted mixed drinks? Well, we are just not that into it, since the effects leave us with less then a good feeling (or taste in our mouths.)

Yet somehow, last night, I found myself taking in some really bad, kinda preachy, theater that a friend was involved in, and afterwards being offered a few rounds of gin and tonics and sake cocktails. All of which led to my current pounding headache and a distinct feeling I left something...oh dear...I left my camera at the sushi bar! OH NO! Wait, be right back...

Phew, they have it. Yikers. I was trying to take pictures for dine and dish, but got thwarted. See what alcohol does to you? (Insert head shaking) Sheesh.

Any which way. Thankfully, unlike other times, we didn't end up at some late night junk food diner after our merriment, but instead I came home (finally, some levelheadedness!) and binged on salty snacks. Totally tasty snacks I had picked up at an Israeli market earlier in the week. You all have local kosher markets too, right? They are the best places. The produce is always incredibly inexpensive, the atmosphere a little bit "old world" (or, third world, it all depends) and the food they sell is just familiar enough to be comforting, and yet just distinct enough to be exotic. A worthwhile journey indeed.

And for my unhealthy snack choices, I had opted for the extra child-like Bamba Snacks and a big bag of Onion rings. While not a recommended combination, they are each delightfully gross and bad for your in their own special ways.

The lip-smacking Bambas are puffed, extruded (mmm. extruded) corn with a coating of peanut butter and a hint of rosemary. They are sort of sticky and leave an excellent coating of oily peanut butter in your mouth after each crunchy bite. And the onion rings, well, they are just puffed, fried, circular rings of starch with really strong salty, powdery onion flavor that can linger for hours. They are airy and crisp, and hard to impossible to put down. Part of me is wondering why I am even posting about this, but I just think they are hilarious things to eat. Cheap, fattening and all together bad for you, I cannot recommend them more. Delicious.

Buy them, and enjoy.


Calorie count of some of your favorite mixed drinks: Long Island Iced Tea - 780, Margarita - 740 (AHHCK! Bad news!), Pina Colada - 644, White Russian - 420, Mai Tai - 350, Champagne Cocktail - 250, Fog Cutter (Rum, Gin, Brandy, Sherry, Illness) - 225, Gin/Vodka Tonic - 200, Mojito - 160, Cosmo - 150

Bamba is the best-selling snack in Israel. Bamba was first produced with a cheesy flavor in 1963, but in 1964 it was changed to the peanut flavor. The Bamba Baby was first presented to the public in 1992. -

The Blommer Chocolate Co. factory in Chicago is being accused of releasing too much choco-pollution. The EPA sent an inspector to check out the factory, after a neighbor complained about the aroma of chocolate in the air and cited them for violating limits on opacity, or the amount of light blocked by the factory's grinder dust. The family-owned company has been making chocolate since 1939. Machines run around the clock, and depending on the weather, the smell of ground beans spreads through much of the Chicago Loop area. Blommer acknowledged problems with the factory's chocolate-laden exhaust. The company says it is installing new filtering equipment designed to prevent the opacity violations from recurring.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Pomegranate & Walnut Chicken

The taste of a pomegrante is a perfectly rhapsodic burst of sourness. When split open the seeds appear like little garnet colored jewels (cliche alert!), beckoning to stain your fingers and lips. They are so wintery, (and according the the Greeks of old, a part of why we have winter at all, right?) they become the focus of a zillion recipes this time of year. Everyone wants to play with these beauties.

Which of course is the main reason I am posting this recipe today, I too am enchanted by their pulchritude. The recipe itself is yet another example of something I made using what I had on hand, and yet another example of super-duper, seasonally appropriate, deliciousness.

The sauce is rich, vibrant and tart, the chicken, nutty and juicy and together they are just plain tasty. I based this on the concept from a book I have mentioned several times before, Flatbreads and Flavors, a thoroughly investigated and lovingly produced compilation that I draw great inspiration (and envy!) from. This dish, for instance, is, according to them, a standard in Georgia (as in, the Eastern European country. Not the Southern US.), that I made using most of the same ingredients, but in a simpler, sleeker and more contemporary fashion. Try it, and enjoy.

1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 teaspoons flour (I used rice flour)
pinch of salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
Pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup fruity red wine
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Minced thyme
olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, combine the pomegranate juice, seeds from half the fruit, red wine and broth. Simmer on medium for about 15 minutes, or until reduced by a third. Swirl in the butter, taste and add a pinch of sugar if you think it is too sour, also season with salt and pepper and add the minced thyme. Continue to simmer on low, while you make the chicken.

In a small chopper, combine the walnuts and rice flour until finely chopped (but not turned to walnut butter!) pour onto a wide plate and dredge the chicken (both sides) in the mixture then saute in a large skillet over medium high heat for about 4 minutes (each side) until throughly cooked. Remove from heat, garnish with the remaining seeds and serve with the sauce.

Serves four


To remove pomegranate seeds, slice off the crown end, then lightly score the rind from top to bottom 5 or 6 times around the fruit. Immerse the fruit in a bowl of water and soak 5 minutes. Hold the fruit under water (to prevent juice from splattering) and break sections apart. Separate seeds from the rind and membrane. Seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl; rind and membrane will float. Skim off and discard the rind and membrane. Drain the seeds and pat dry. -

The San Joaquin (Whah-keen) Valley is home to the only concentration of commercially grown pomegranates in America. Spanish Padres brought pomegranates to California 200 years ago.

Sales of foods used as natural remedies have soared because of the support of Prince Charles, according to the supermarket chain Sainsbury's. Fresh cranberries and pomegranates have sold in "record volumes" following a study of complementary therapies commissioned by the Prince, according to the retailer. "The biggest impact has been upon fresh cranberries and pomegranates, which have sold in record volumes since the Prince's report was launched." of pomegranates are up 79 per cent on last year. And cranberries have recorded a 67 per cent sales boost, Sainsbury's said. -

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Thursday, November 17, 2005


Autumn Veggie Tacos

Me and my friends, well, one thing we find imperative to our happiness (oh dear, I can hear the Ombudsman cringing. That boy, I swear, he teases me mercilessly) is a good Mexican take out. Now, I know you know that I know that you know that fish tacos RULE. But its not just tacos mariscos that gives me such a blissed out sense of contentment, it's pretty much anything you can roll up in a tortilla.

That is why when I was running late to a viewing party (at which, I seem to have over indulged in merlot), and called to explain it was traffic (its always traffic, isn't it), I was instantly forgiven after offering to pick up some alimento delicioso from Loteria grill. This spot, in the historic Farmers Market is a love it or hate it kind of place, and me, well, I'm on the lovin' side of that fence for sure.

So you know how when you are in a hurry you just start ordering like a crazed person? I started with six items, and I swear, $150 later, I ended up with about 32 while just trying to make sure everyone would get something they liked.

That done, I headed back out, completely missed the show I was supposed to be seeing (whoops.) and was still hailed as a hero for showing up with good grub.

The most unexpectedly popular item was, well, I don't have a clue what it was actually called since my ordering had been so frenzied (and I mentioned the wine right?) I just know it was potato and mushroom and poblanos, no extraneous salsa or cheese, but a few other things that I have tried to recreate here. (Next time I swing by there, I promise to write down what really went in it, I'm sure I'm so's probably cauliflower and pork cracklin's. Hee) Any which way, what I came up with is outstanding good. For one thing, it's a balanced meal, (all the colors of the rainbow! And isn't that what we tell little kids we should eat at every meal?) full of autumnal flavors, deep carmelized flavors, meatiness without meat (thanks to the mushrooms, which I sliced super thick) and truly filling.

It's different for sure, being kinda earthy and cheeseless and meatless and whatnot, but you will be suprised at how outstanding it is without those things too. Then again, if you are finding you are missing those things, go right ahead and add away! Either which way, please do try it, and enjoy!

4 whole wheat tortillas
1 large sweet potato, baked
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thick and sauteed until browned
1 large onion, sauteed until golden
1 large poblano pepper, roasted (or green bell)
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 leaves fresh sage, minced

Compose by mashing the sweet potato onto one half of each of the tortillas. Top with the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper or chile flakes, fold over and enjoy!

Makes four


You love me right? Then go see Zathura!

Today is National Home Made Bread Day

Interested in quaffing wine made by Celebrity Winemakers? Here are some to choose from.
Olivia Newton-John, (Singer) Koala Blue Shiraz $7.95
Francis Ford Coppola, (Director) Diamond Series Claret Cabernet Sauvignon, $19
Vince Neil, (Mötley Crüe frontman) V Cabernet Sauvignon $17.95
Richard Branson, (Record mogul) Virgin Vines Shiraz, $9.99
Bob Dylan (Yes, Bob Dylan) Planet Waves Table Red, $100

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Cucumber, Mango & Jicama with Chile & Lime

The food hawking street vendors of India are (in)famous. So are the numerous falafel/hot-dog/everything-else carts that dot the landscape of New York City. Thousands of other cities around the world are also home to portable kitchens of all sorts.

But lest you think us Angelenos are too much of a car culture (well, we are, but whatever) to have our own version of street food, I have to point out that Downtown, along Miracle Mile, even out by the beaches, there are indeed some (sparsely dispersed) interesting street food to be found. For instance, when downtown shopping for fabric and notions (a girly past-time if there ever was one) for H'ween, Mrs. B, Dr. Feisty and I came across several industrious sorts selling this incredible treat in large plastic cups. While of course, the people selling this were just doing something that is common in their native cultures, for us, it was an inspired treat.

It is so simple and so refreshing, it will stop you in your tracks. Be careful with the cayenne, because it can overpower you pretty easily, but if you are sparing, I promise, this combination of spicy, juicy mango, clean cucumber and the sweet and crisp jicama mixed with a burst of lime and the crazy smoky heat of the cayenne is new and exciting and different and fab. It's also a fat free snack, for those of you who care...try it and you will indeed, enjoy.

1 large hot house cucumber
1 medium jicama
1 semi firm mango
1 lime
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of kosher salt

Peel and de-seed the cucumber, mango and jicama (well, the jicama has no seeds), and cut into thick spears.

Arrange in a low glass or on a plate and squeeze lime (to taste) over all but the tips (so you can pick it up without getting all messy), dust lightly with cayenne pepper and again with salt.

Serve immediately

Makes enough for three to six people depending on the size of your fruits and veg.

Goes great with tequila


The animated character Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) has a deep love of Wensleydale cheese, which is made in northern England. UK supermarkets have seen a 23 percent sales increase since "The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" featuring the character hit cinemas. Alain Gulpin, who is head cheese buyer for the Tesco supermarket chain, says, "Since the film came out last month, the 'Wallace Effect' has been extraordinary. -AP

Jicama, a brown root, is a member of the morning glory family that hails from Mexico and South America. At the Whole Foods in Beverly Hills this past week, they cost $0.79/pound.

Wednesday is Food Section day at the Los Angeles Times! Did they mention Los Angeles' own, fantastic Food Bloggers? Nope. Not this week either.

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Monday, November 14, 2005


Roasted Potatoes

I am once again visiting the realm of roasting. Hmmm. Must be something to do with the early nights. Sigh. Well, that and I was inspired by an early post on Rock n' Roll Kitchen, where my favorite guitar slinger is cooking up a storm.

So today I will cover for you, my dear readers, the art of roasting most-awesome potatoes. I love them little spuds when they are done to perfection, but it is a rare thing indeed. Seems that most people (restaurants that is) buy frozen bits that never quite get crisp, or do something to make them extremely dense, or worst of all, they are served undercooked. Shudder. Since they are simple enough to make at home, and work as a breakfast, lunch or dinner treat, I say eschew the whole thing and whip them up for your own rock-star selves. For breakfast, I would add garlic, onion and some bell pepper to the roasting pan, for lunch make them into a roasted veg and pesto potato salad. For dinner, well, they are perfect all on their own next to a juicy steak or simply dusted with some smoky paprika. Seemingly unsophisticated tubers brought to your table as a dizzying dish. It's all about the care you put into it.

There are a few ways to make sure your potatoes come out crispy on the exterior, with an excellent salt crunch, and as creamy as can be on the inside. I go with a two step process that I promise, if you follow correctly, cannot fail.

First off, pick the right kind of potatoes. I use (and urge you to also use) creamers, also known as the waxy type. The moisture content is high enough that they won't get fluffy, and instead the interior will become smooth and supple. Choosing golden colored minis, red bliss and rose apple finns are a good start, but any old creamer (small, round) will do.

Scrub the potatoes well under cold water. They grew underground and we want them clean, ya? When they are dirt free, slice them in half. Unless they are quite large, I suggest this as the maximum amount of cuts. More exposed sides and you have to turn them half way through cooking.

Fill a pot with cold water, a good large pinch of salt and the potatoes. The rule is if it spends it's life underground, you start cooking it in cold water (versus boiling the water first.) Bring to a boil, and let simmer until just soft. This depends on your altitude and the amount of potatoes, but you should start checking (inserting a knife to see if it goes through one with relative ease) after about 8 minutes. They shouldn't take very much more than 15 minutes tops.

When the potatoes are just cooked, pour off the water and let drain until quite dry. If you want to eat the potatoes the next day, you can refrigerate at this point.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil (don't use a silpat here, it doesn't give the same results) and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Place the potatoes cut side down onto the pan, salt liberally and roast for 30-45 minutes or until browned.

And that kids, is all there is to it! Voila! Perfect potatoes every time, so long as you pay attention...


Don't refrigerate uncooked potatoes--doing so converts some of the starch to sugar. And don't expose them to direct sunlight, which turns them green and makes them bitter.

Jell-O was invented in 1897 by Mr. Pearle B. Wait in Leroy, NY. Of all of the Jell-O flavors, only cranberry contains real fruit -

The Pauliesaurus Rex is a 10-pound, 28-inch pizza that serves 12 to 20 adults. As part of a contest, Paulie's Pizza of New Brunswick, New Jersey will award money to a pair of eaters who successfully eat the pie inside the store within one hour. Each time challengers fail — yesterday marked the third such time — the pot goes up $25. Challengers, who cannot leave the dining area at all during the contest, must call a day in advance for a reservation. The meat-lover's pie, costs $50. The Easton Avenue business had to have wooden pizza peels and carry-out boxes specially made to accommodate the Pauliesaurus, perhaps the biggest pie in the state, (GM Louis) Ford said. Paulie sells a few such pies each week to those having parties or special events where several guests are invited. - The Home News Tribune (

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Sunday, November 13, 2005


Noodles and Cabbage

One way I know for certain I am a lucky woman is as simple as this. Whenever my darling Auntie Shesh jets in, she comes prepared with a huge supply of noodles and cabbage that she has lovingly stirred for hours (it does take hours) just so her West Coast family can indulge old world style. I also know I am lucky because when I was making it the other day and she wasn't around to answer my call, I just dialed up my first cousin twice removed (or some such interesting relationship nomenclature I have never fully grasped) and asked her, and we had a 20 minute discussion on the topic. That my friends, is a bond worth having. Family ties indeed.

So let's just say this isn't part of your particular culinary heritage. Or maybe, the idea of cooking something that calls for 1/2 pound of butter (margarine works here too. If you care to go that route) and has to cook for four hours just doesn't exactly appeal to you, well, to that I say, um, well, nothing actually. To each their own. I am posting it because it is really one of lifes better pleasures, that I encourage everyone to try. Me, I only make it at most once a year, and since it freezes oh so well, you really only need one batch to be able to defrost a bowl at any given moment. Why would you want to? Mostly because it is delicious, rich, deeply flavorful, and not all ALL cabbagey. More like buttery. Or cozy and most of all, excellent. Yup. Noodles and cabbage is excellent. Three ingredient perfection.

Please be forwarned, the reduction of the cabbage (as already stated) can take an eternity (or a fraction thereof) but it is also something you can easily walk away from for up to 45 minutes with no trouble at all. Classic addtions: Sour cream, poppy seeds, onions or smoked sausage. Non-traditional additions: Minced rosemary, a pinch of nutmeg or paprika. Thats about all I would suggest. Much else and you are just gilding the lily.

This dish is best made in a large, enamel coated cast iron (read: Le Creuset) pot, but any heavy bottomed (yeowza!) pan with a lid will do. Oh, and this is the excuse you have been looking for to bust out your Cuisinart/Magimix/Mandoline/V-Slicer to make fast work of the shredding. That said, here is the recipe. Try it as a side dish with roast chicken, a nice brisket or even with a warm bowl of soup. Make it as an indulgence, sigh with happiness, and enjoy.

1 large head green cabbage, shredded thin
1 stick unsalted butter
1 pound wide egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

In the aforementioned heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the cabbage and stir to coat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and walk away. Stir every 30 minutes for up to 4 hours. You want the cabbage to reduce to about a 1/2 cup of deep brown strands. Divide the mixture in half. When cooled you can freeze the second half for up to 6 months, or add another pound of noodles and double the batch.

When the cabbage is done, boil some heavily salted water and cook the noodles until al dente. Drain and add to the remaining cabbage. Season well with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes about 20 servings


The B. Manischewitz Company was founded in 1888, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1930, U.S. per capita consumption of margarine was 2.6 pounds (vs. 17.6 pounds of butter). Today, per capita consumption of margarine in the U.S. is 8.3 pounds (including vegetable oil spreads) whereas butter consumption is down to about 4.2 pounds. -

In San Francisco, CA. crab season starts today at dawn and they should be back with a fresh catch by afternoon. Berthing fees for crabbers who dock their boats at the wharf are going up 60% starting in January. Some fishermen say that could put them out of business. Others say they'll dock their boats somewhere else. -
"Also getting the ax at Fox is the freshman comedy "Kitchen Confidential," whose order will not be extended beyond the initial 13 episodes." - Variety

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Saturday, November 12, 2005


Branston Pickle (Ploughman's Lunch)

My juicy peach of a cousin, the indomitable Va-Voom, who is residing in London these days (oh what a glam life that chicky leads!) is constantly reminding me of the dramatic differences between their comfort foods and ours (ours meaning us kids residing in the US of A, theirs being England). And even going past comfort foods, just to every day staples, the variations can be astonishing culture by culture.

Which leads me to that British favorite (I tried to add the extra "u" in there, but I can't seem to figure out where it would go. My English teachers would be so proud), Branston Pickle. I've mentioned it before of course, and I would hardly say it's something the Brits claim as a national dish, or even particularly indicative of their culture, but I doubt any of them would deny that along with HP sauce (another ubiquitous brown condiment) it is so ingrained in the fabric of their lives, that they hardly know it's there, until they leave the comfort of their shores and end up someplace it is not...and that my friends, is where cravings originate. Wanting that foodstuff you may not be able to find. It can bring a tear to your eye.

When I was living deep in the heart of the West Midlands, (an area in the UK) this past summer (Why? Simple. I'm a silly girl) I had the great fortune to eat a lot of Branston Pickle and Cheddar Cheese sandwiches. I ate so many in fact, I had to start going to the gym twice a day just to combat any negative affects. (Well, that and the excessive drinking those Brits led me to, what with every night ending up in a pub and all) I came to love the combination of sharp, crumbly local cheddar, and the tangy-sweet-crunchy, thick taste of this combination of fruit and vegetables, vinegar and sugar.

In my quest to find this stuff, to make this sandwich, in ex-pat heavy Santa Monica, I still had to visit three stores (though, in fairness, it was sold out at the first spot) and plunk down $6.00 for a jar of this delight. And it is, in fact, a delight. I havent actually found any other things to do with it other than this, but as this is so sublime, I figure I'll stick with it. And of course, I strongly suggest you seek out a jar of it out in your town. It will be a pantry staple for sure. Try it, and enjoy.

1 small roll (I used cibatta)
Branston Pickle
Cheddar Cheese

Compose as you would any sandwich. Serve with gerkins (small pickles), grapes, apples, almonds and a beer. British delight will ensue.


Check out this excellently angry tirade and slew of responses regarding a Ploughmans Lunch recipe at Epicurious.

A ploughman's lunch is a midday meal often served in an English pub. The first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary of this phrase dates from 1837. The OED's next citation is from 1970, indicating a long period of time when the meal was virtually unknown. It is this long disuse and recent rediscovery that has lead some people to portray the dish as being a recent invention dressed up as a traditional meal. A ploughman's lunch usually consists of a lump of cheese (usually Cheddar or Stilton), pickle (often Branston Pickle) and salad, accompanied by crusty bread and butter. - Wikipedia

900 new restaurants open each year in Los Angeles. 60% of them go out of business within 5 years. In the next five years, 60% of the remaining restaurants go under.

In Orange County, CA more than two dozen Japanese American farming families will be honored Sunday for their contributions to California's $1.3-billion strawberry industry. Japanese farmers started strawberry farming the early 1900s along the entire West Coast,
and came to dominate strawberry farming since. Now, Latinos have replaced Japanese Americans as the industry's dominant players. They now make up more than 56% of the state's 518 strawberry growers, compared with 14% for Japanese Americans. - Los Angeles Times

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Friday, November 11, 2005


I Confess

Amy, (of Cooking With, fame) via the extra fantastic David Lebovitz, (and a few others) has asked for our culinary confessions. So kiddies, in the spirit of this fun little experiment, here goes...

I peel button mushrooms
I prefer my Red Vines stale
I microwave chocolate to melt it
I love citrus zest
Wheatgrass juice is the best
I cut up my spaghetti
I always ask for a sample before buying cheese. Even if I've had it a million times
I am perfectly happy to eat ugly/poorly presented food
I love salt
I love salt
I. Love. Salt.
I have more than 5+ whole sets of pans, three sets of cutlery and service for at least 28, but only three wine glasses
I eat cold rice even though I know it could give me listeria
I prefer brunch to dinner
I use my melon baller every time I buy a melon
All of the labels in my refrigerator face forward
I am a sucker for packaging
I believe in the 5-second rule
I love ice
I would drink diet champagne if they made it
I really don't get white chocolate
Everyone who loves lobster should have to eat it without butter before making that claim
Gelatin kind of scares me
I never rinse berries
Fish tacos are the world's most perfect food
I will eat pretty much any vegetable that has been pickled
I would rather do something by hand than clean my Cuisinart
I put a lot of food I shouldn't down the disposal
If I owned a goat, city ordinances allowing, I would feed it lavender and orange blossoms and live on the cheese
I am a food enabler
I don't drink directly from a bottle or a carton, or eat from a can or a box
My drink is a dirty vodka martini without the olive garnish
Cilantro is the devils weed
I believe heaven smells like oranges
I make my own ketchup
Ethiopian food makes me sick every time, and I still love it
Fried is my favorite food group
I like three bean salad
I love tofu
I have never had a cup of coffee
The only vegetable I don't like is turnips. And I keep trying
The only fruit I don't like is papaya. And I keep trying
The only legume I don't like is lima beans. I gave up trying
My motto is "Don't yuck someone's yum"
Caviar, champagne and fois gras are perfect.
Then again, so are fresh bread, pickles and peaches (though not all at once)
Reading other peoples food confessions makes me smile

Now you've seen show me yours!


Please have compassion for the children who work on cocoa plantations. Buy Fair Trade Chocolate

The British eat more confectionery per head than any other country

The pineapple is a sign of hospitality

Left-handed people are 20% more likely to sample a forkful of food from the plates of fellow diners than are right-handed people. - Turner

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Harvest Tart

I have a cookbook by a woman named Crescent Dragonwagon. Can we just pause right here so I can proclaim how much I adore that she named herself that? Adore it. Could she be cooler? Doubtful. I mean let's face it, you have to have personality in spades to pull off a sparkling moniker like that, so I know, I just know, she is my people.

Who better to talk to about food than someone who is bubbling over with good vibes? Vibes that radiate right off of the pages. The cookbook I am referring to is her award winning tome, The Passionate Vegetarian. Again, points for Ms. Dragonwagon. To be passionate is to express strong emotions, or, in my context, really super-dig something. And we can all feel that can we not? Let's all be passionate today, shall we?

My point to all of this is that a few weeks ago I was flipping through her book, reveling in the prose and passion, inspired by the titles of exotic and instantly recognizable fare, when I saw something that sounded new and different. It was a sort of autumnal tart, using lots (seriously, the most ingredients I have ever put into anything barring bouilliabaisse. Mmm. Bouilliabaisse.) of interesting techniques and combinations I would not have normally concocted. I suspect that is why I read cookbooks in the first knock myself out of the routine of adding mint/lemon-zest/olives/profound amounts of salt to every dish I make. Is that what you do too?

Now, because I found her recipe to be a touch time consuming, I have taken the liberty of altering it, (drastically, I admit) but the spirit remains, and the dish does not. We ate it all. In one sitting. It was glorious. All the various textures came together perfectly. Crumbly, buttery crust, highly seasoned vegetables and the smooth pumpkin topping to balance it all. Simply sensational. It is still (I fear I must confess) a bit time consumming, but obviously, well worth the effort. Try it, and enjoy.

2 medium zucchini diced
1 small onion, diced
3/4 cup corn (hey man, frozen corn rocks)
1 poblano chile, diced
olive oil
1/2 cup cubed tofu (optional, of course)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon each smoky paprika, cumin and cardamom
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup diced tomato
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup pumpkin puree
pinch of nutmeg
salt and black pepper
large pinch cayenne powder
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon corn starch combined with
1 tablespoon cold water

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a large bowl combine the melted butter with the bread crumbs, flour and water. (Add some salt if you feel like it too.)Mix to combine. It will still be crumbly. Press this mix evenly into a 10 inch, removable-bottom tart pan that is lightly coated with oil. (I used some of the oil from my roasted garlic for this) Bake at 400F for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Saute the zucchini over high heat in a teaspoon of the olive oil, stirring often (you are trying to release most of the moisture, more than trying to brown it) add the onions, cover and continue to sweat* for three minutes. Remove the lid, and add the corn, chile, tofu, garlic, spices, parsley and tomato. Continue to cook while stirring until softened, about 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. When slightly cooled, add the cornstarch slurry (mixture of equal parts cornstarch and cold - it must be cold - water) and mix.

Mix together the pumpkin puree, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, cayenne, milk and egg. Set aside

Remove the crust from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.

When everything is a little cooler, pour into the tart shell, and top with an even layer of the pumpkin.

Bake the tart for 45-55 minutes or until the top is just starting to brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Slice and serve.

Makes eight servings

Excellent additions: Roast chicken, bell peppers, steamed carrots or cauliflower or any other squash.


Sweat - A technique by which vegetables, are cooked in a covered pan with a small amount of fat. With this method, the ingredients soften without browning, and cook in their own juices.

At Smoky Mountain High School in Sylva, North Carolina, drink and snack machines in the school hallways and lounges bring in $8,000 to $12,000 a year, said principal Alex Bell. Money from those machines generates general school funds, which can go toward any school need. According to 2004 statistics, 47 percent of children in Jackson County where Smoky Mountain High School is, are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Overweight is defined as 10 percent above ideal body weight. - Smoky Mountain News

There are about 23,000 restaurants in New York City

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Roasted Garlic & Leek Savory Bread Pudding

OK now my friends. If you have been following along, (from my post earlier this morning. Scroll down just one post. See, there it is) you've got a big-ol' crock of roasted garlic (wait, did that sound at all appetizing? Maybe I should have said, a lovely pile? Nope. Glorious quantity? Excessive amounts? Oh well, whatever.) and you may want to actually do something with it.

Well, it just so happens, I cannot think of anything more fantastically divine to combine that garlic with than a heady, savory bread pudding. (That is not in the slightest bit lo-cal.) Specifically roasted garlic and leek bread pudding. It's a staple on my Thanksgiving (and by my, I mean, it's what I contribute to the harvest bounty that buckles Auntie Shesh's buffet-o-plenty) table and is a fam-fave indeed.

I know it may sound a touch out there, but it is extra-durned tasty and the smell as it is baking is so enticing, it could lure in passersby straight off of the street. I kid you not. (So, you know, make sure the doors are locked and the alarm is set, ok? I cannot be held responsible.) If you have any kind of love for garlic, this is the side dish for you. The top is crunchy, the interior is soft and redolent with the nutty warmth of the garlic. To glam it up, you could add, say, shallots, red onions and maybe some caramelized brown onions, or even some rosemary, olives or toasted walnuts, but for me, this is sinfully delectable just the way it is. Try it my dearies, and enjoy.

6 slices stale roasted garlic bread (or any whole wheat)
1 cup heavy cream (yup)
1/2 cup milk (full. 3%. whole...whatever you call it)
2 tablespoons roasted garlic puree
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
2 leeks, white part only, rinsed and sliced thin
1/2 brown onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
4 egg yolks

In a small sauce pan, gently simmer the cream, milk, garlic puree, thyme, leeks, onion, garlic, salt and pepper for about three minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for another few minutes. (Exact, aren't I?)

Meanwhile, cut up the bread into cubes. Put into a large bowl and add the cream mixture. Mix to coat the bread and let soak for about 10 minutes, and up to a half hour.

Preheat your oven to 375F

After it has soaked, mix the egg yolks in to the bread.

Coat a 8x8 baking dish with (roasted garlic) olive oil, or 6 individual ramekins

Pour the bread mixture into the dish, cover with foil, place on a baking sheet (in case it bubbles over) and bake for 30 minutes. The pudding will have puffed up for sure. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden brown on top. This will take about another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it.

When browned, remove the pudding from the oven, let cool slightly and serve.


General Mills' brands include: Pop Secret,
Muir Glen, Green Giant, Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs, Bisquick, Old El Paso, Wheaties, Yoplait, Hamburger Helper, Cascadian Farms and Pillsbury, among others.

Waddya know. Another Los Angeles Times Wednesday Food Section is out, and still no mention of Los Angeles' Amazing Food Bloggers. Harumpf.

Leeks are a delicately flavored member of the onion family, native to the Mediterranean

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Kitchen Project: Roasted Garlic

For my second (whoo-hoo!) Kitchen Project installment, where I share some culinary basics, I thought I'd cover (brace yourself) roasting garlic. I know, I know! It was the ingredient du jour about 10 years ago, and these days, it has fallen off of our collective radars. But not here! Here, I am going to (hopefully) remind you of how nutty and rich an ingredient, slow cooked cloves of garlic really are. And just because I'm cheeky, this recipe is actually for oil poached garlic, but the outcome is the same, flavor wise, as roasting.

Now, some people have gone so far as buying a fancy garlic roaster, but that just leaves you with a messy head of garlic, and yet another gadget cluttering your kitchen. Not here though. Here its all about (admittedly time consuming, but still fab) simplicity.

As with my last foray into this idea of sharing the little concepts, this is not something that you can whip out in a flash. It's a process that will take patience and time, but in the end you will be rewarded indeed. It is the perfect thing to do while you are making roasted peppers, carmelizing onions or just have an urge to spend some time by the stove.

First off, pick up a few bulbs of garlic. Did you know there are (at last unofficial count) 600 different varieties? It's crazy man. But no matter what type you choose, you should look for compact bulbs with dry paper exteriors and plump cloves.

Once you've got that settled, its time to peel. Go ahead and break the bulb apart by turning it root side up on your counter and pushing down on the root with the palm of your hand. Presto. Individual cloves. Now peel. You can use a garlic peeler (I kinda dig um) or you can just continue smashing down on each clove with either the broad side of a knife or your palm. Of course, you can also buy pre-peeled, but those tend to have less flavor. When they are peeled (I tend to do about 4 bulbs at a time. The time is well worth it) slice the tiny root end off.

Add the cloves to an oven proof pan, dish, ramekin, whatever, that will just hold them. Pour your cheaper olive oil over to cover, then cover with foil and bake in the oven at 375F for about 35-45 minutes. (Oh, and in case it bubbles over, put the pan on top of a baking sheet or some foil) They are done when a knife goes through a clove with ease. Remove from the oven and let cool. (Hot oil is a nasty burn, so be careful, ya?)

Puree the cooled garlic with just a little of the oil. Reserve the rest for another use. Bonus, two for one!

Store the garlic in the refrigerator covered with a thin layer of oil for up to six days. Delicious.

It is a perfect spread on its own, as an addition to hummus, as a thickener for soup, mixed with butter and smeared under the skin of a (to be) roasted chicken or in (tomorrows exciting recipe) Roasted Garlic and Leek Savory Bread Pudding.

Try it, and enjoy!


Joey Buttafuoco, who made headlines when his teenage girlfriend shot his wife, is working in craft services on the sets of TV shows, according to Inside TV. Buttafuoco runs a concession that doles out protein shakes and ice cream to the stars of "Desperate Housewives" and "Crossing Jordan," the magazine reports.

Garlic has been utilized as both food and medicine for more than 5000 years. Curing garlic is the process by which the outer leaf sheaths and neck tissues of the bulb are dried. Under favorable climatic conditions in California, the garlic is usually cured in the field.

If you have trouble peeling garlic cloves, try soaking them in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes first.


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