Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Drink of the Week/Made In LA: Dark and Stormy

Sometimes a girl just needs a bit of refreshment to help wash away the blues...

That would be today for me. Without launching into particulars, I will just say that this has to go on record for being the downer week of the summer. The kind of week a nice girl like me doesn't enjoy, or merit.


But after a good long pout, I turned that frown upside down. I got glam, I went out and I got myself happy. Opened wide and let the sunshine in. Or in this case...the rain clouds.

And as I have mentioned once or twice over the past few weeks, I have glommed on to this wonderful new bev (well, new to me) that sends me over the moon.

The amazing, Dark and Stormy.

Doncha just love it?

Made with crisp-spicy ginger beer and sweet-spicy rum, it is the perfect summer delight.


If you can't find ginger beer (which is not always beer by the way...) go on and just whip these up with regular ginger ale (which is never ale by the way) and enjoy.

1 bottle ginger beer

Pour some rum into a nice tall glass filled with ice(yes, the one in the photo is short, but my tall glasses dont photograph well...)top with the ginger beer and enjoy.

Rinse and repeat.


In LA and looking for a bar that serves this? My perpetual haunt, The Mandrake down Culver City way is a great option, as is Blue on Blue at the Avalon in Beverly Hills...

You can buy Cock and Bull Ginger Beer online at the stupendous Soda Pop Stop, at Wally's Wines on Westwood, or (where I got it) at Vendome on Olympic in Beverly Hills.

Cock 'N Bull Ginger Beer is the famous ginger beer that was served for decades in the Cock 'N Bull Pub in Hollywood, CA. There is also a brand with the same name made in the UK.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Chiles con Arrozo y Chorizo (Chiles Stuffed with Rice and Chorizo)

My day started out so nice. And now that I have eaten, I am in a lovely mood once again.

But an hour ago? Ooh baby...I was steaming.

Here is the scoop...

Earlier in July, I went to get a car wash. A pretty standard event I think. Only trouble was, that a few days later I noticed the headlight windshield wiper thingy had broken off, and my guess was the car wash was to blame.

It was so sad, I got a bit pouty. It made my car look all lopsided. Like an eyebrow was missing.

Then today, I went to get it cleaned once again, since its been so dusty and whatall, not thinking another disaster would strike.

I was all clever too, and chose a "touchless" wash. So what do you think happened now? A part of my car FLEW off. I don't even really know how to explain my shock.

It was so bizarre! A huge strip of car came at the poor guys head at warp speed. Nearly severed his arm.


I was so flustered, I hopped in the still wet car and went right to my dealership to beg their assistance in righting this wrong.

Why to the dealership you ask? Why not just to a regular mechanic? Why drive from one end of town to another just to have a bit glued backo on and a wiper replaced?

Why? Because, I swear, the people who sell my brand of car have bullied every independent auto mechanic in the greater Los Angeles area into insisting that owners can ONLY get work done by that dealer. No one else in this town will touch my car. Its a conspiracy I tell ya! A conspiracy.

And when you get there? They are so suave. And kind. And helpful. (Except its all a facade.) Makes me - almost - feel bad that I normally think they are criminals with an agenda...

Then they dropped the info I was hoping not to hear... it would be six hours before they could fix it. Four hours before they could glue the bit back on! They offered me a ride home, and then a ride back when it was done.

I had no choice. I was at their mercy. The bandits.

After the total freak out over the pending cost of this debacle, I took them up on their offer and was ushered right on home. My head swimming, my blood sugar low. I thought I needed to lay down from the trauma, but on further reflection, I realized I just needed to eat.

Trapped a few miles from the nearest market, I made lunch with what was on hand.

Not bad really, not bad at all. Actually insanely tasty! And I got to use my favorite Mexican cheese, Cotija. The best.

A perfect, complete meal, ready in a snap.

Unlike my car...

Try it, and enjoy!

4 large poblano chiles (mild)
1 cup whitea rice, cooked in salted chicken broth
Vegetable oil
1/2 cup chorizo
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup black beans1 medium tomato, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 jalapeno chile, minced
2 T. tequila
1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Slice a portion of the chile off, to create an opening you can stuff (see picture). Remove any ribs and seeds and lightly oil the exterior. Place each chile on a separate piece of aluminum foil that will be large enough to wrap around it.

Saute the chorizo, garlic, beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, chile and tequila rice together in a large pan over medium heat until the veg are soft. Drain if needed (Chorizo is quite fatty) and add the rice to heat through.

Carefully spoon the rice/chorizo into the peppers. Wrap tightly and place on a baking sheet or in an oven proof casserole. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, carefully unwrap, top with cheese and serve with salsa fresca.

Makes four servings.


Native foods that are eaten around the world, but originated in the Americas include: Tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, chile peppers and corn, among many others. From Australia? Macadamia nuts.

"This donut has purple in the middle, purple is a fruit." - Homer J. Simpson

Fears of a supermarket strike this summer in Southern and Central California evaporated Tuesday when the region's largest grocery chains and the union representing 65,000 store employees reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract - LA Times.com

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Monday, July 16, 2007


Eggplant, Tomato & Basil Napoleon

Hidee-ho campers!

Wow, is the weekend over already?

I don't know where the time went.

Me, I spend a huge portion of my weekend making shrimp and grits, and chili. Because you know, nothing says summertime like grits and chili...

Oh wait...maybe not. Or may be...

Nah, it doesn't. What says summertime is grilling.

And if you are one of my darling friends who eshews meat in favor of member of the vegetable kingdom...well, a bbq is a whole other animal (hardee har har) and one you should conquer indeed.

So for them, (and the veg lovers amongst us) this came to be.

All the things you want from a grilled-veg-platter, in one heaping, teetering, ooey-gooey stack.

Eggplant Napoleon stack indeed.

So simple, so elegant. SO delicious.

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 large ball-o-mozzarella cheese
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced thick
4 large mushroom caps, cleaned
1 bunch basil leaves

Pre-heat and oil your grill.

Toss the eggplant slices, mushrooms and tomatoes with the olive oil and vinegar. How much olive oil you ask? Enough to coat, not so much it becomes soggy. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill each component until cooked to your liking. The eggplant will take the longest. After the eggplant is mostly cooked, top with a slice of cheese, and close the grill to let the cheese melt, about 3 more minutes.

To compose, simply stack the components together. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy


Basil is Greek for 'royal' or 'kingly'.

Napoleons are usually made in small shapes just large enough for an individual serving

There is a Williams-Sonoma outlet store near Las Vegas! Williams-Sonoma Marketplace, Fashion Outlets Las Vegas, I-15 at Exit 1 in Primm, Nevada

Both Craft and Osteria Mozza opened on Friday night.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Summer of Pie: Cherry-Rum Pie

The Ombudsman would like you all to know that he has declared 2007 the Summer of Pie.

I, for one, have no idea what he means by that.

Summer of Pie?

I mean, I LIKE it, (what's not to like?) I just can't really get him to elaborate. (Though, for you all with your mind leading this direction, I promise he is a nice boy and that is not at all what he meant...besides, I don't think he has ever heard of that band...)

So what is this Summer of Pie? All I know is that so far he has not ordered pie (at least, when dining with me), nor has he become fixated with the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. That, I can assure you. (Though I wouldn't put it past him...)

As a matter of fact, up until today, all that The Summer of Pie has really meant was a whole lotta talkin' and the pie you see on this page. Which, after succumbing to his wiles, I baked as dessert for our Hollywood Forever Movie picnic outing last weekend...but that is it.

Okay, well, we also compiled a partial list of good pies versus bad pies while devouring the one you see here. For us, the top contender, (most unsummerlike, but true) is Coconut Cream. Our runners up were Pumpkin and Apple. Boring, perhaps, but oh-so-tasty. We are categorically opposed to Lemon Meringue though...it's just not our style...and blueberry seems to be a silly use for a delicious fruit...

So will you kindly help with a list of YOUR favorite (sweet) pies?

How do you like your wedge?

Tell all my sweet peaches, I wanna know! And then...I'm gonna bake um'. Maybe not ALL of them, but now that I have mastered crust-making (and I have. And it is GOOD. And I'm getting a touch of the hubris over it all, I must admit...) I figure the time is ripe for a baking bonanza...

So tell me...what pies cannot be missed during this...The Summer of Pie.

Cherry is nice...

Your favorite pie crust, for bottom and top
2 cups pitted cherries (sour cherries if you can get them)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 large apple, peeled and grated
Milk for brushing
Extra sugar for topping

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a bowl, combine the rum, vanilla, salt and cornstarch. Stir to dissolve the cornstarch. Add the cherries, apple and sugar and let rest for 10 minutes.

Pile all that into your pie crust and top with second crust. Using a paring knife, pierce two or three holes in the top crust as vents.

Brush top crust with milk and dust with sugar. Place on a cookie sheet, and then bake for 50 minutes or until golden.

Remove and let cool.

Serves eight.


Pies I have tackled on this site: Peach, Grape , Cherry Lingonberry, Pumpkin and the controversial Strawberry

The average American eats six slices of pie per year.

Check out The American Pie Council.


Monday, July 09, 2007


G'Day Gourmet Indian Curry Tuna Salad with Sweet Potatoes

Australia is just the best.

Not that I've ever been there (I have an aversion to flights that long. Anything that lasts more than 12 hours - and I am out.) but they have such a cool vibe, and a good thing going. Sun, surf, food.

They are so rockin' a country/continent in fact, that they had a party just to introduce some of their fancy-foodstuffs to our shores and wadda ya know...I was invited.

G'Day indeed!

We ate lamb, (natch) and kiwi jam. We had fois gras (take THAT Chicago.) and lots of other things that I forget because of the copious amounts of wine. Lovely Down Under wine.

And as part of their brilliant marketing strategy, these culinary goodwill ambassadors gave out goody-bags. So we could continue the gluttony in the privacy of our own homes. (It's as if they some how knew their product would end up getting reviewed on line...)

Oh yea baby.


My favorite item, by far, was this adorable can of tuna. G'Day Gourmet (TM) Tuna.

I know what you are thinking, I do...can of tuna? What gives?

But seriously kids, this is more than just a can-o-tuna. Its sustainable, low/no mercury, TASTY tuna. Seasoned tuna. Mild Indian Curry seasoned tuna. Lip smackin' goodness right out of a can.

This stuff is my idea of pre-made food heaven. It is just what I look for in a quick-bite-delight. Really flavorful and earth friendly.

Can I get a "hallelujah!"

(The packaging is way cute too...seriously adorable.)

And I didn't just slap this stuff between two slices of bread and call it luncheon...no I did NOT! I made it into Empanadas (omg, SO perfect with that recipe) and into this tuna salad extraordinaire.

This light, wiz-bang-pow flavor packed, nutrient dense, high protein, low-carb (ack, sorry, had to say it) wonderment. It may seem like a funky combo, but the sweetness of the pickles, and the crunch of the water chestnuts perfectly match the richness of the fish and the fire of the (0optional) chile.

So good.

SO good.

So if you find some of this on your grocers shelves (Whole Foods has it.) this is the perfect way to indulge in its savory sinfulness (actually, not sinful at all, I was just going for alliteration.) and if you don't have access to it...well, for one, ask your grocer to add it, or try adding some curry powder to your regular tuna. Not as good, but still a plan.

Okay, and now the recipe! Enjoy!

3 cans G'Day Gourmet Mild Curry Tuna
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup peas
1 small Thai chile, minced (optional)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced and cooked
Some parsley, minced
1 heaping teaspoon sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup water chestnuts, slivered

Combine all, season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit to meld, about 15 minutes.

Makes enough for four servings. Can be reduced or increased as you like.


62-year-old Jennifer Brown was thrilled to be awarded second place for her Victoria Sponge in a baking contest at her her village carnival in Wimblington, Cambs England... and she was intrigued to find out which cake had beaten her tasty treat to the top spot. Then judges revealed her cake had been the ONLY entry. Organisers had spotted her sponge had rack mark indentations from where it had been in the oven - and decided it just wasn't up to the high standards demanded of coveted top place. "I must admit I have never heard of coming second in a one horse race before. "But I haven't taken it personally - I had a good laugh about it." - The Mirror, UK

The term curry was invented by the English, East Indian Trading Co.

G'day Gourmet offers seasoned tuna and salmon. Other choices include:Chili, Lemon Pepper, Mild Indian Curry, Tomato Basil, Tomato Onion, and Tomato Salsa. I tried them all, and loved them all.

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Monday, July 02, 2007


Bay & Lemon Beef Kebobs

Over one too many cocktails this weekend, (as evidenced by the odd comments The Ombudsman and I left on the last post - read at your own discretion...) the boy pointed out that I mention the 4th being my favorite holiday much too often.

Apparently, get one drink in me, and instead of going on about how much I love him, or the Dodgers, or a really well curated art exhibit, stinky cheese or a really good fish taco, I rhapsodize about the 4th. Ad naseum.

Strange, but true. (And better than being a hostile drunk I think!)

So, since I am currently sober as a judge, I will refrain from going on and on about the topic once again...sparing you my mooney-eyed drivel.

But it is you know. The best holiday ever. Gosh I love it! So I am also wishing you (people in this country that is) an extremely happy Fourth of July!

There, I did it.


I mean come on, it's good times!

And to add just that much more enjoyment to your day, may I humbly suggest you work this wonderment onto your menu. It is a sort of light and refreshing (if beef can be called refreshing) kebob-o-delights. Simple, beautiful (don't you agree?) and tasty as all get-out.

Try it my peaches, on the 4th (the best holiday ever) or any time you just want something a bit different from the everyday. Just make sure to take the lemons and bay leaves off before you dive in.

2 - 3 pounds sirloin steak
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons (Meyer if you can get them)
Fresh Bay leaves (California) soaked in cold water
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mint, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

If using wooded skewers, soak them in cold water until ready to use.

Cut the steaks into large cubes. Toss with the Worchestershire sauce and oil, add some pepper and let marinate for up to four hours, turning three or four times.

Slice the lemons very thin. Remove any pits and pour any juice that comes out in with the beef marinade.

Thred the beef onto the skewers, alternating with bay leaves and lemon slices.

If the kebobs are at all dry, roll them around in the marinade to coat. The leaves and lemons cannot be dry or they will burn.

Grill for 6-7 minutes, on medium-high heat turning once or twice.

Remove from the heat.

While they are resting, combine the yogurt and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the kebobs.

Makes about 10.


Turkish bay leaves are smaller and less pungent that California bay leaves

A day after regulators in the United States placed a partial ban on imports of certain types of seafood from China, the Chinese government promised Friday to cooperate in tackling its food safety problems but urged a quick resolution. - NY Times

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