Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Gifts from Japan

There is something so outrageously sweet about a friend who thinks to bring gifts back for me when they have been out of town. When darling Andrew got back from Japan he brought me a great little bag full of interesting foods. Some of which, sadly, we still can’t identify. (What with our silly inability to read or speak Japanese and all) The soy sauce is terrific. Very complex and lovely. The chocolates were great, though the flavor (again) unidentifiable as was the jar of mystery food. Was it bamboo? Lotus Root? Don’t know. The best thing though? The mini soy sauce fish. SO cute! I just thought I would put up this quick post to say thank you to him for being such a groovy and thoughtful friend. And for having excellent culinary taste.

During Passover, Coca-Cola makes some of their soda with real sugar instead of corn syrup. The bottles with real sugar are marked "Kosher for Passover. "

Ninety-five percent of peas are frozen or canned.


Gifts from Japan Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 26, 2005



Spices are a strange commodity with amazing history attached. To a lot of us, herbs and spices add an ethnic flair, liven up a dish or are just something sitting prettily in a jar, slowly turning to dust. Of course, back in the day, the lure of spices sparked global exploration because they were so revered and cost more than gold. Using spices is a link to our past and a fantastic way to enliven any dish.

I thought that today I would write a little about some spices (not herbs, which are green, leafy plant parts) that I use frequently. I try to buy spices in bulk (though sadly Whole Foods no longer offers a bulk spice section) so that I use everything I have before it loses flavor. Spices should be kept in airtight containers away from sunlight and replaced every 6-8 months. Seriously.

There is a picture below of all of the spices listed here. I follow left to right. The countries or regions in parenthesis indicates what cuisine is most commonly associated with it, not necessarily where it originated. So here goes. Enjoy!

Syrian Mahlab – (Mediterranean) Really a sour cherry pit. Tiny and with a mild fruity flavor. I coarsely grind and add to oatmeal, cookies or any sweet bread. Or sweet breads.

Star Anise – (Chinese) Not only beautiful, but has a sweet-spicy flavor that is just a little bit bitter. Unless it is ground, it is not edible, so the pod must be removed before eating. A key ingredient in Master Sauce and Five Spice Powder. Makes a fantastic liquor.

Lemon Grass (Thai) A key ingredient in Thai cooking. Has a flavor very similar to lemons. Fresh lemon grass has a stronger (though never really that strong) flavor, but dried works well too and is less woody (since it is ground) so it is edible, where fresh is not easily digestible.

Dried Orange Peel - (Chinese) I am a huge advocate of orange zest, and I find that in certain sauces, adding a touch of the dried minced peel along with the fresh creates another level of flavor.

Bay Leaf – (Mediterranean) Also called Laurel. Typically used as a flavoring for soups and stocks, but removed before eating. Turkish is considered less pungent than Californian Bay, and therefore preferred, because too much bay and your dish will become bitter.

Ground Ancho Chile Powder – (Americas) In recipes I frequently call for ground chile powder, which is NOT a combination of spices, but dried chiles that have been ground up. Easy to find in Latin markets, but equally easy to make. Cayenne is an example of a ground chile powder. Ancho chile powder is sweet and rich peppers with very little heat.

Allspice – (Caribbean) So called because it supposedly tastes like nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Typically used in baking, it is also a great addition to grilling marinades.

Dill Seed - (Northern and Eastern European) Stronger flavor than the herb, and holds up to heat better. A wonderfully suprising spice that is great with potatoes (potato salad in particular), with roast chicken or in your crab boil, in soups or as an addition to salad dressing.

Pickling Spice – (European) A spice mixture used for pickling. (I know, that was obvious) but really under used. Charlie Trotter uses it a lot as an addition to basic sauces and it changed my world. Also good to have on hand so you can pick through it when you just need one little clove or some such.

Anise Seed – (European) Smaller and less aggressive than fennel seeds, (though from the same family. The parsley family actually) anise is more than just “black licorice” it is the key ingredient in Pastis and (when ground) my secret biscotti ingredient. Just a touch goes a long way.

Black Sesame Seeds – (Asian) Tastes the same as white (so far as I can tell) but adds a visual flair.

Turmeric – (India) More of a colorant than a flavoring, though does have a bitter flavor. Recent studies have shown that people in India suffer from Alzheimer’s less than in any other region in the world. Ongoing research suggests it may be in part due to the copious amounts of tumeric used. I say, pile it on. I add a dash to everything from mashed potatoes to tofu. Why not, right?

Chile Pepper Flakes – (World Wide) Dried crushed chiles. Usually full of heat and strong in flavor. Typically used as a pizza topping and in lots of spicy Italian cuisine.

Ground Ginger – (World Wide) Vibrant and with a touch of heat. Try it in a steak spice rub or in chicken soup.

Brown Mustard Seeds – (Indian) smaller and hotter than yellow mustard seeds. Typically heated (until they pop) mustard seeds are great in salads, as an addition to sandwiches (especially roast beef. Add a pinch to your mayo), with grilled meats and with tuna tartare. Adds heat and texture.

Epazote – (Mexican) Add to all kinds of soups, stews and sauces. An essential Mexican herb, it is purported to reduce, ahem, stomach discomfort.


True Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka

Mustard powder was invented by Mrs. Clements of Durham, England, who made a fortune selling the dry, pale-yellow mustard flour.

During the Middle Ages, many European towns assessed taxes and rents and kept their accounts in pepper, counting it out peppercorn by peppercorn.

The Spice Girls are the best selling all-female group of all time

Grinding breaks down the cell structure of spices, making them deliver flavor more quickly and blend into a dish. The finer the grind, the more rapid the release, and therefore the more rapidly the spice looses flavor.

Ninety percent of the international spice trade is in whole spices, paprika being the only spice sold ground in significant quantities.


Spices Posted by Hello

Monday, April 25, 2005


Dinner at the Hotel Bel Air

Words can make a meal sound so much better than it ever really was. I know because I once read a review of an “ethereal” chocolate soufflé that turned out to be a gritty mound of inedible chalkiness. None of that applies to meals at the incomparable Hotel Bel Air. Descriptions that just scratch the surface are more along the lines of delectable, ambrosial, bewitching, nectareous, and divine. And let us not forget sumptuous and just plain delicious.

The Rock Goddess and I went to this heavenly spot last week and indulged our innermost gluttons. And believe me, we were more than satisfied.

If you are not familiar with the Hotel Bel Air, it is an extraordinary (and fantastically posh) spot that makes you feel as if you are living in another city. It is quiet and tranquil, lush and sedate and the perfect place to have an elegant meal away from the spotlight.

It is a testament to them that the very first thing that happens when you pull in is that enough valets come over to open every door. A small gesture, but one that makes an impression.

Once inside we were offered indoor or outdoor (under the jasmine and bougainvillea ladened trellises, near the fireplace) seating, and opted for indoor, thinking it was too quiet outside to really feel comfortable. Later in the summer it will be busier, but that night, it wasn’t.

To start we ordered Kir Royales. Some people (who aren’t French, I suppose) find it to be a little much, I call it the nectar of the Gods. And of course, they brought by the bread basket with a choice of focaccia, sourdough rolls, cheese sticks, flat bread or olive bread, all of which were perfect.

As an amuse bouche, the chef sent out a demitasse of impressively smooth and warm asparagus soup with black truffles. No more than three sips were offered in that tiny porcelain cup, but what was there was palate-awakening decadence. There was not a speck of pepper, yet a touch of spiciness, not a hint of fiber, only a deep rich springtime burst of asparagus and several large shavings of lusty truffle.

Being the outrageous women we are, the Rock Goddess and I opted to have three appetizers and split an entrée. It would have been obscene to order more, though it still verged on the sinful to do even that.

The three appetizers were: Foie Gras “Trois Facon” – Smoked Torchon, Seared BLT and Crème Brulee ($28), Wild Mushroom Risotto Oregon Truffles and Porcini Essence ($28), Ahi Tuna tartare with Avocado and melon (Can you tell I didn’t write that one down the way I did with the others? It sounds so much less interesting, but trust me, it was incandescent.)

Allow me to start by talking about the risotto. There is no denying it’s really a bowl of rice, but somehow with a little kitchen magic is was a feast. Rich and impressive, perfectly cooked (a tricky thing with risotto, I think.) redolent with truffle slices, buttery and saporous.

The tuna tower was amazing to behold. The fish was bright and sparkling and in perfect cubes with a hint of something spicy, (Radish seeds I think) the avocado was creamy and the lusciously orange and juicy melon set it all off perfectly. Topped with a salad of frissee, radish sprouts and batons of rainbow radish, the entire thing came together as spicy, sweet, fresh, lux and superbly balanced.

I can’t tell you about the Fois Gras. I’m sorry. It was just too, too much. Too swank, too heady, too masterful to describe. On a long platter they served two large bites of culinary bliss and a cup of lasciviously decadent crème brulee. If you are in Los Angeles, and you are willing and hungry, go to the Bel Air and order this. Savor it. Relish it. Worship it. It deserves no less.

For the entrée we split the truly remarkable Fennel Crusted Filet of West Coast Striped Bass with Bronze Fennel, Basil Whipped Celery Root and Niçoise Relish ($42) that they kindly put on two plates for us. I wish I hadn’t burnt out my thesaurus writing the last few descriptions, because this, well, it took the prize. The fish was cooked to be soft and white, but with an outrageous crispy crust of flavorful fennel. It sat on a bed of perfectly seasoned, Kelly green (due to the subtle basil) whipped celery root, which was just light enough to work like magic with the burst of flavor that came from the nicoise relish quenelles.

What did we drink to cleanse our palates during this decadent meal? A bottle of 1996 Iron Horse Brut Rose Sparkling Wine. The review of which will have to wait.

Desert was the last thing on our minds at that point, but they did send out a few little chocolate truffles (smooth and creamy, luscious and lovely) and a chocolate dipped strawberry.

After this soul satisfying meal, we went to their clubby bar and had a glass of Eau De Vie. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.

I forgot to tell you the occasion for this big night out! Absolutely nothing. That’s right. We are just girls who think life is short and eating well is the best thing ever. I hope you live that way too, because it makes everything else a touch more fantastic.

Overall – Dreamlike
Food – Exquisite yet approachable
Ambiance – Evenings are quiet, brunch is more festive
Service – Refined and kind
Prices – How can you put a price on perfection?
Will I return? – Is there a sun in the sky?


Information on Oregon Truffles

Review of The Hotel Bel Air from Zagats: Supplying a “civil oasis in Gomorrah”, this “ultimate romantic hideaway” in the Bel-Air Hotel is renowned for its “gorgeous”, “blue-blood” decor (No. 1 in this Survey) and “breathtaking” grounds replete with “soothing swans” sailing by; “beautifully presented”, “superb” Cal-French fare and “fine wines” are “perfectly” served by the “top-notch” staff, and though it’s “pricey”, it’s “unbeatable for any occasion”, especially if you reserve the private Table One; N.B. jacket required during fall and winter.



Hotel Bel Air

Posted by Hello


Friday, April 22, 2005


Nori Salad

Many years ago a group of dedicated earth-lovers came up with a strategy to encourage us to reflect on what this big blue planet is all about and how we can work to make it a better place (or at least a touch less polluted. Cough Cough). They cleverly called it Earth Day, and today is the 35th anniversary. Of course, as lovers of food, the easiest thing we can do is use organic, seasonal produce as often as feasible, buy products with minimal packaging, and recycle. Simple acts in a complex world. The Earth Day people would be proud.

I really wanted to be cheeky and post a recipe for granola today, but thinking about the ingredients, I realized its just not something I would make. I certainly cannot imagine how it became synonymous with envoirnmentalists either. It's high in fat and made from refined sugars, empty calorie rolled oats and oil. Not so crunchy after all! Instead of that, here is a recipe for Nori Salad. Nori is a sustainable sea vegetable, always in season and really tasty. Enjoy!

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 Tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 t fresh ginger, grated

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup flaked roasted nori

4 cups cooked brown rice, cooled slightly
¼ cup sesame seeds (reserve some for garnish)
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 bunch green onion, sliced

In a small bowl whisk together the oil, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Taste and adjust seasonings

In another large bowl, combine everything else, pour the dressing over toss and serve.

Serves four. Does not hold particularly well, so only make as much as you think you will eat.


Sea vegetables are wild ocean plants, or marine algae

Sea vegetables are rich in minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine, manganese, chromium and more, at levels much greater than those found in land vegetables. Sea veggies also provide vitamins, fiber, enzymes, and high quality protein. – Maine Coast Sea Vegetables

A U.S. team won top honors this week at Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (World Cup of Baking), outscoring the opposition in the three contest categories of bread baking, pastry baking and artistic design. This is the second time a U.S. team has won the competition, which has been held since 1992.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Udon Noodle Lunch

Once in awhile I will try to see how long I can go without a visit to the market. Weird, but true. It's a great exercise in creative cooking and general pantry cleanout. This does not include getting fresh produce, which I cannot live without, its just to see how many of my dry goods I can use up before I go buying anymore. Limited shelf space makes this a must in my little world. Yesterday’s challenge, after poking around in the cupboard for awhile was to find a tasty dish to make with a packet of udon noodles.

Udon is the beautiful Japanese wheat noodle that is interestingly complex to make. Basically you bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add the udon, when it comes back to a boil add a ¼ cup of cold water. Do this four times. After the fourth time, add a pinch of salt, cover the udon and let steam for 15 minutes. That, even to me, who doesn’t mind a multi step recipe, is pretty involved. But then again, they do become the most deliciously fattened, slurpy, flavorful and versatile noodles that can be eaten hot or cold and with sauce or in soups. Yesterday, I made them into a simple dish. Here is the recipe. Try, and enjoy.

½ package udon noodles, cooked
2 stalks celery, diced
½ cup water chestnuts, sliced
½ small red onion, sliced thin
¼ cup edamame beans, cooked and shelled
1 red jalepeno, minced
¼ cup water or chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
2 teaspoons mirin
a few drops of sesame oil
Garnish: sesame seeds and ichimi (Japanese pepper mix)

In a large sauté pan, over a medium low flame, add all the ingredients except the garnishes and the noodles. Heat, stirring constantly until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add the noodles and continue to stir until coated, another 2 minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds and ichimi.

Makes enough for two large portions


Rice is the main carbohydrate food in Japan, consumed with every meal. However, the real basis of the Japanese diet is not rice but fish, consumed at more than 154 pounds per person per year. In fact the Japanese consume about twice as much fish as meat

Egg consumption in Japan is higher than in America- 40 pounds per person per year, versus 34 in the US.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Salmon Wrapped In Chard Leaves

A few nights ago I had the distinct pleasure of giving a cooking class to three woman I already know and adore. I cannot begin to put into words what a fantastic time it was. There was a level of relaxation that was beyond delightful. (I was even so brazen as to wear sandals while I cooked, instead of my usual “sensible shoes.” Hee hee) I wish you all had been there.

These women are all television producers who are extremely professional, well-respected and outrageously talented. (Not to mention smolderingly hot. Yeow!) When I typically see them, the talk leans Hollywood more than food…so that this evening was all about what I am an expert in was a nice twist. I may have been exhausted, but I can always talk food.

The absolute best part (aside from just getting to be teaching people who really were interested) was when towards the end I suggested taking a picture of the food. It was like lightning. There was a palpable change in the air and they all, on a dime, switched into professional mode. I suddenly felt a little like a TV star. They were just this incredibly well oiled machine, lining up shots, styling, blocking, you name it. I was entranced. And a little giddy. It was just so cool. I was like a teenager in love. To top that, when they actually sat down and ate the food and loved it all and thanked me oh-so-sweetly with a truely thoughtful gift, my night was complete. Of course, the pictures they took, I dont have yet, so for now, I will post what I shot, (not nearly as glam, Im sure) and the recipe we did, which was delicious! Enjoy!

1 large onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons vegetable oil (or if you have it, grapeseed)
1 750 ml bottle of burgundy wine
10 large mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Dijon mustard
Fresh ground black pepper
1 bunch large leafy greens (either chard or mustard greens or bok choy), separated, ribs removed and steamed
4 skinless salmon filets

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook until browned the onion, carrot, apple, garlic, in your oil. Add the wine and port and reduce over a low flame until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain.

Rinse the fish and pat dry. Rub one side with the mustard, sprinkle with pepper and wrap in the leafy greens. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining oil over a medium high flame. Add the mushrooms and sauté, without stirring, until golden. Add the fish packets to the pan along with the wine sauce. Cover and reduce the flame to low. Cook approx. 6 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Remove the fish and then wisk the butter into the sauce to melt. Serve the sauce over the fish.

Serve with a garnish of chopped chives.

Makes enough for four people


In 2003, shrimp overtook canned tuna as America's favorite seafood.

There are some 2,000 species of shrimp and prawns (the decapod family). About 200 are considered edible. Of those, about 20 different kinds are available in U.S. markets.

The most plentiful shrimp come from warm waters. Cool-water shrimp tend to be smaller and multiply less rapidly. The most-caught shrimp in the United States is the brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus), from the south Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. White shrimp (Penaeus setiferus) and pink shrimp (Penaeus duorarum) from the Gulf and south Atlantic.


Salmon in Chard Leaves Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Dodger Dogs

In an interesting personality twist -- I love going to baseball games. It’s everything magnificent all wrapped into one event. Sun, food, random cheering, wholesome family fun and, well, baseball. I can even follow the game, which is a bonus. Must be something left over from childhood (so I guess I need to throw in a “Thank You Daddy!”). Not only do I love baseball games, I love going to all the different stadiums. I’ve been to quite a few actually. (If you knew me, this might strike you as odd, since I’m outrageously girly most of the time.)

Of course, the best part is trying all of the astonishingly yummy regional snacks. (And in my case, trying to smuggle in sparkling wine in a can.) In my heart, and on my sleeve I am a Dodgers fan (and a Mets fan, and a Red Sox and Cubs fan. It’s all about spreading the love) but I am also a food lover and therefore willing to admit Candlestick Park, (or whatever its called lately, 3-com or Monster) has the best food of all. (Big food loser? Arlington Stadium. Sorry!) Those garlic fries – sublimely crispy golden fried potato perfection drowned in ¼ cup chopped of garlic that has been swimming in warm oil all day, then topped with salt and parsley --- all I can say is Mmmmmm. They also offer turkey legs and the SUSHI. While not traditional, its fun and you can’t ask for much more on a sunny afternoon. Except for your team to win.

The reigning king of ballpark foodstuffs though is the Dodger Dog, brought to you by the good people of Farmer John. (who offer recipes on their site. Eek?) It’s 12 inches long and 76 grams of hotdoggin’ goodness in a steamed white bun. Lets be honest here kids, the Dodger Dog IS nature’s perfect processed food and right around the fourth inning it becomes the only thing on this green earth worth eating. Nostalgia may be a huge factor in how great it tastes, but I cannot imagine a game without one. Well, one or two. And a pretzel with mustard. ($3.50) And some peanuts. ($5.00) And a few beers ($7.00 for Michelob, $8.00 for Gordon Biersch, in a cup or a plastic bottle) and a huge lemonade. Oh and how do all those things taste? Like overpriced, undersalted processed foods that take you back to a simpler time. Ahhh. That’s the life. Welcome to summer.


According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Los Angeles is second only to New York in the number of pounds of hot dogs purchased on an annual basis — 44.7 million.

Dodger Stadium is the reigning ballpark leader in hot dogs consumed, with 2.2 million sold in a season. Among Major League teams, the Cleveland Indians are a distant second place, with 1.5 million hot dogs sold each season at Jacobs Field.

Dodger Dogs are not kosher, (they are, in fact 100% pork) but there is a group trying to bring a kosher hot dog alternative to Dodger Stadium. To get involved, contact the Lou Barak Memorial Hot Dog Committee at

Random shilling: I am selling a Vera Wang dress and darling Gila's wedding gown on ebay. Check them out!


Monday, April 18, 2005


Barney Greengrass

Los Angeles is the perfect lunch city. The weather is ideal and there is a HUGE contingency of people who are free during the day. (Read: Actors, writers, yoga instructors, chefs…) Why, I think finding friends to fill your days with is almost easier than getting a group to commit to dinner! What can I say, I am a fan. Thinking about going, planning where to go, driving there, valeting, ordering, chatting, sitting in the warm sunshine, eating, laughing and over tipping are what make lunch the best thing going. Sure, sure, I could be out doing more important things, but it's just so durned PLEASANT to while the afternoon away.

My lunch haunts are many, but one or two times a month I hear the siren call of Barney Greengrass. Pricer than some places for sure, but absolutely worth every shiny penny for the patio dining alone.

Now, I know you may have heard of the original Barney Greengrass The Sturgeon King, in NYC. I believe I even saw an episode of A Cooks Tour where Anthony Bourdain went and gorged himself on their smoked fish as a “Hometown Favorite” spot. The west coast version has a different menu, (the fish is all the same, but there seem to be more salad choices and they offer a tofu dish) and overall the two places are light years apart. I can actually imagine a “true New Yorker” shuddering in their boots at the idea a fey girl like me crosses the threshold of their sacred institution. To them I say…eh, whatever. For one thing, our Barneys – while still a Jewish Deli at heart - is on top of the store Barneys, and has a terrific view of Beverly Hills. It is also a hot bed of Hollywood industry deal making and star spots. But what truly makes it one of my favorite places is that they have really great meal that you can eat outdoors before going shopping for a new pair of Louboutins (also pictured below.) all in one stop. It’s really perfection in a lunch spot.

Now, in the great tradition of ladies who lunch. I only ever order a salad, and I recommend you do the same. Sorry if that seems boring to you, but its what works. Fresh, crispy, light, a salad is always just what I crave. Which salad varies, but normally I have the Mediterranean (pictured below): Chopped romaine, red onion, feta, and Greek olives with a citrus herb vinaigrette on a bed of hummus. Hold the onions, add baby artichoke hearts. ($14) They serve breadsticks and an interesting flatbread cracker at every table, which is the perfect foil for the house made hummus. The glamazon known as Astrid who (we suspect travels with her own makeup artist) is my regular dining companion/partner in crime typically indulges in the Classic Caesar Salad, ($15.50) or the absolutely surreally delicious Sturgeon and Nova Scotia Salmon sandwich on a bagel (17.50) that was flown in from NY and really is the best around. If you are serious about your smoked or cured fish this is the place to go. Everything is superior. They are the experts after all. They also sell caviar…

So next time you are in LA and wanting for something relaxing, delicious and leisurely to do, give me a jingle and I’ll meet you at Barneys.

Barneys: 9570 Wilshire Blvd., 5th fl.(Camden Dr.) Beverly Hills, California 90212

Ambiance – Relaxed
Food – Top notch breakfast and lunch
Service – Couldn’t ask for more
Parking – Valet $3 with validation (There is self park too, I’m just not sure where)

Will I return? - Yessir!


My older sister, who grew up in NYC, swears that they posh and fabulous Barneys New York that we know and love was once a Lower East side deep discount suit store that offered same day tailoring.

What did the waiter ask the group of dining Jewish mothers?"Is ANYTHING all right?"

There are 77 certified Kosher restaurants in the Greater Los Angeles area.


Lunch at Barney Greengrass Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005


Home Made Crackers

. I was young, I was green and I wanted a job. Somehow - considering at the time I didn’t know how to boil water - I managed to secure a little gig at the local cooking shop, where on my first day they assigned me the task of demonstrating an Atlas pasta maker. Needless to say it changed my life. I grew to love that funky little hand crank machine (despite the fact you have to clamp it to a counter top and in then six places I have lived since I got one, I have yet to come across a single countertop the durned clamp fits over!) especially when I realized you can make things other than pasta with it. For instance, crackers. Mmmm. Now I know, you are thinking crackers are just easier to buy, but trust me, these are simple, delicious and really fun to make. The variations are endless (I can not resist adding adobo sauce from a can of chipotles) and they keep for about a week. The main trick is to prick them with a fork a few times to prevent them getting all poofy, and use bulkier seasonings (any seeds or dried herbs like rosemary) as a topping (versus in the dough) so they don't cause tearing.

I adapted this basic recipe from Flatbreads and Flavors which is a seriously awesome book and overall fantastic resource. Oh, and as you can see, my camera came back to life, so there are some pictures of the process too! The strip of dough in the machine has the chipotle sauce mixed in, which is why it seems reddish. And, of course, ditzy me, I forgot to take a picture of the end product. Whoops. (And there certainly aren't any left to take a picture now. Whoops again.) Anyway, try this and enjoy!

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ cups warm water
Olive oil

In a food processor, combine the salt and flour with a few pulses. Turn the machine on and slowly add the water until the dough forms a ball. The dough should still be a little webbed, (versus smooth) but not sticky. If it is sticky, add some more flour. Remove the dough and divide it into a few smaller balls and coat lightly with olive oil. Let the dough rest, covered for about 20 minutes. If you are making the crackers later, you can put the dough in the fridge for up to 8 hours. If you do that, let them come to room temperature before proceeding.

Using a pasta maker (or a rolling pin) roll out the dough to about an 1/16 of an inch thickness (I got to the number 5 setting on the pasta maker.)., using a little bit of flour to keep it from sticking to the machine.

Cut the strips of dough into any shape you like, as long as they are roughly uniform in size. Pierce each one a few times with a fork. If you like at this point you can brush them with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt (or sesame seeds or whatever).

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes at 350F or until just browned. You will want to sample one to make sure they are crisp.

Makes about 4 dozen crackers.


Major foodborne diseases — including E. coli, salmonella and listeria — have dropped dramatically in the United States since the late 1990s, the government said Tuesday.
The government attributed the decline to better food-industry practices.
The rate of E. coli infections has dropped 42 percent, to 0.9 cases per 100,000 people, since 1996-98, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Similarly, campylobacter infections fell 31 percent (to 12.9 cases per 100,000); cryptosporidium dropped 40 percent (13.2 cases per 100,000), and yersinia infections decreased 45 percent (3.9 cases per 100,000).The drop in salmonella was the smallest — 8 percent, to 14.7 cases per 100,000 — mainly because health officials still know little about the bacteria, the CDC said

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Thursday, April 14, 2005


Kidney Bean and Balsamic Vinegar Dip


This is just a silly little recipe I sometimes make, and had a picture of, so I thought I would share. It is a perfect example of how using high quality ingredients can make something so simple incredibly tasty. Try it and enjoy.

1 cup cooked kidney beans
1 tablespoon best quality olive oil
1 teaspoon best quality balsamic vingar
Fresh ground black pepper, and coarse salt

In a blender combine the beans, oil and vinegar. Pour into a small container and chill for about 1 hour, till thickened.

Season with pepper and salt and serve with crackers.


Clever phrases you can search for that will find this blog:

hummus recipe earl
broccoli go bad
how to make a vodka watermelon
boom i got your boyfriend lyrics salt pepper
prune plums in tamil
fresh water mussles willamette river
Where can I find a picture of a person cooking and there be lots of pots and pans
pickling herring, splenda
honolulu fresh figs may mena suvari eating approach

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Los Angeles Farmers Markets In Peril

I hope you dont mind, but today I thought I would use my blog for good.

I got this email from Nathalie, the director of the West LA Farmers Market. It seems that a city ordinance is being passed that will charge Los Angeles area farmers markets a permit fee for street closures. The cost of this will be so much that the markets themselves may not survive. If you have any questions, please email me and I will send along the full text of the email. Thanks everybody!


If you live in Los Angeles please call your city council person today or write them a letter and fax it to them before next Tuesday April 19. Tell them to exempt the farmers' markets from street closure fees and include that in the special events ordinance!


Farmers' markets are currently granted street closure permits including a waiver of all fees through council motions. Under the new ordinance, council motions would be eliminated and all certified farmers' markets that take place on L.A. City streets and parking lots would be required to pay a weekly permit fee of $528. Markets operated by nonprofit organizations can apply to have fees waived for only two weeks out of the entire year. This would still total over $26,000 in fees per year per market and would result in the closure of a majority of the affected markets. It would subsequently have a detrimental effect on food assistance programs based at farmers' markets such as the Food Stamp Program and Women, Infants & Children (WIC) and Seniors Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs. This new policy would also have regional ramifications, setting a precedent for all neighboring cities.

We are asking the City Council to recognize the importance of farmers' markets in our communities and to include additional language in the ordinance waiving all weekly permit fees for farmers’ markets.

We are asking you to help L.A. farmers' markets by writing a letter of support of farmers' markets to your local City Council person and/or all City Council members. The Council will most likely vote on this ordinance NEXT TUESDAY, APRIL 19TH. Please contact your council person by MONDAY. We may also be looking for supporters to testify at the City Council Meeting next Tuesday. We will send out more details about this as they become available.

Thank you in advance for your support,

Pompea Smith
Executive Director

Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles
Operator of Hollywood Farmers' Market, Hollywood-Sears Farmers' Market, Central Avenue Farmers' Market


The USDA estimates that more than one million customers visit farmers' markets each week.

On a sunny Saturday in summer or fall, New York City's Union Square Greenmarket draws more than 100,000 customers.

In 1977 California had 4 farmers' markets. Today it has over 300.

In 1974, there were fewer than 100 farmers' markets in the nation. Now the USDA lists 2,863 farmers' markets in its most recent (2000) directory - up 68% from the 1994 directory.

The USDA farmers' market directory lists farmers' markets in every state, including 22 in Hawaii, and 10 in Nevada.

More than 20,000 farmers use farmers' markets to sell to consumers.

The average supermarket carrot travels 2,000 miles from field to table.

USDA surveys indicate that most farmers' market produce travels less than 50 miles to market

(Information from Harbor Area Farmers Markets.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Fish Tacos

Sunglasses are to L.A. as fur coats are to Moscow. And being the L.A. girl I am, I can't leave the house without a pair. So yesterday when – horror of horrors – my electric blue, mirrored Versace's that I picked up in Vegas got crushed in a strange twist of events while I was tooling through the Valley, I was at a total loss.

Blinded by the sun, I had no choice but to continue, aimlessly searching for a mini mart or Sunglass Hut to save me from the glare while getting more and more lost by the moment. Desperate to see something familiar I drove on. Endless minutes passed as I squinted at passing signs, when suddenly I saw her. The Virgin de Guadalupe on the side of a taco stand. It was a sign, I was sure. In a flash, my quest for restored vision dissipated and my desire for a taco roared. Now, its not as if sunglasses and fish tacos have anything to do with each other, but at that moment (and apparently this moment) I didn’t care. The Virgin had beckoned me. I pulled into the shady lot only to have my hopes for sustinance crushed by a huge red sign declaring “cerrado.” (She must have sensed I’m not a Catholic).

I had reached the edge my friends. The edge. No glasses, no tacos and now, on further inspection, no gas. I sat silently in the deserted lot for a moment. Gathering myself together I got out a map figured out where I was (sort of) and headed off again. To keep my sanity, I spent the rest of the trip mentally sifting through the contents of my cupboard to see if I could make tacos at home. I could, and I did, and lucky you, here is that recipe. Maybe someday I will find that taco stand again, and they will be open, but in the mean time, I will make my own tacos and rejoice.

Vegetable oil for frying (¾ inch deep in your pan)
½ cup white flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 bottle (minus 6 sips) Corona beer
4 limes
Salt and pepper
1 pound red snapper or scrod, cut into finger sized strips
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 red jalapeno pepper, sliced
Corn tortillas, warmed (about 10. Depending on size)
Optional garnishes : Salsa Fresca, Radishes, Cilantro,
Crema Mexicana and/or Avocado

In a bowl sift together the flour and cornstarch. Slowly whisk in the beer and the juice of one of the limes. It should not be super thick, but also not too thin. (Gee Rachael, thanks for that concise info) Season with a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper.

Add the fish to the batter to coat. Using a slotted spoon remove a small batch of fish and let almost all of the batter drip off. Fry each small batch in the oil, over medium high heat until golden (about 3 minutes), remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining fish. If you don’t want to fry them, just skip the batter and sauté or broil with some lime juice and oil.

Compose your tacos by piling some shredded cabbage, a squeeze of lime, the chile peppers and then the fish in the tortillas. Sigh longingly, fold over and devour.

Serves four.

(Oh, and two blocks later I found a gas station, and am now the proud owner of yet another pair of funky $5 sun glasses)


Cabbage is 91 percent water

Taco Bell serves more than 35 million consumers each week in more than 6,500 restaurants in the United States

What does your burrito say about you? Take this
quiz and see

Monday, April 11, 2005


Blue Cheese and Onion Dip with Lavender

Food and glamour are what make my world go round. What I did yesterday is a splendid example of how the two can meld so perfectly. It was another breathtaking Sunday afternoon and Gams, Doll Face and I, (they) looking more like starlets than the serious minded women we are (even in our matching denim jackets) frolicked off to party at yet another drama, drama, sleek and sexy LA home. Without a drop of hyperbole I can say this pad was so staggering it stopped us all in our strappy sandaled tracks. What made it better than most of course, is that the owner is a whip smart woman with a warmth unheard of in these parts and a radiant pixie-daughter who’s giggles melted our hearts. That and the unobstructed ocean view. Sigh.

So there we are, and what did we do? We met, we drank, we schmoozed, we giggled, and we talked film. (Excellent overheard quote of the evening “My last two pictures combined only grossed $25 million. I feel like such a failure sometimes.”) Now of course, none of this has anything to do with cooking (though the kitchen was fantasmagorical) but I did wrestle a recipe from an interesting woman/Australian documentary film maker who agrees with me that young Orson Welles was sexy. (This was mentioned only because there was a magnificent still from The Lady From Shanghai on the wall) So this is her recipe for Blue Cheese and Onion Dip. The secret she says is lots of fresh black pepper and a huge pinch of lavender. Rosemary would work too of course. Try it and enjoy!

1 large pat of butter

2 cups minced onion, shallots or leeks (whatever you have on hand)
Pinch of sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lavender, chopped fine

Cook the onions/leeks in the butter over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 15 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

In a bowl blend together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Add blue cheese, lots of black pepper and lavender. Gently combine, then stir in the onions.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Serve with crudite.


Foodie Films:
Babettes Feast
Mostly Martha
Like Water for Chocolate
Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
Big Night

A Chef In Love

The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water and it was from the Latin word "lavo" meaning "to wash" that the herb took it's name.

French farmers send lamb to graze in fields of lavender, so their meat will be fragrant.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005


Cafe Marly

There are weekends when you cook, and there are weekends where you end up eating out a lot. This weekend, which isn’t even over, has seen lot of the latter. Since I have officially decided not to take pictures of food in restaurants anymore you will just have to let my words convey the dining spot that is Café Marly, Beverly Hills.

Now before I start talking too much, I just want to clear up something about good ol B’Hills. Yes kids, there is a lot of money there, and yes, there are some fancy stores, but for the most part, and you see this more at night, when the tourists and the worker bees have gone away, that it is a city with a decidedly aged population, which doesn’t exactly make it a place the girls and I head to on a regular basis for dinner. (Lunch on the other hand, is a dream) But because a friend was performing with his jazz band at this little spot we got glam and decided to find out what's what in the world of Beverly Hills Bistro Dining.

We got to the little store front and took in the décor, best described as Provence chic (you know, that yellow and red fleur de lys fabric was everywhere) we were immediatly seated and loving the music when it dawned on us that (GASP!) have only a beer and wine license. We suspect that has something to do with the neighborhood, but aren’t quite sure. Looking around, we saw that the place was packed with patrons of the older and hushed variety.

The menu is a cliché of bistro classics, so in order to have the full affect, we went ahead and ordered a veritable smorgasbord of French delights. First up, French Onion Soup and Escargot de Bourgogne. The soup was quite good, with just the right amount of gooey cheese and mounds of softened onions in a clear broth that had just a hint of wine or sherry. The escargot, well, I’m no aficionado, so imho they were great. Lots of buttery-garlicy sauce over 12 plump little snails.

For entrees we had the Salad Nicoise, Moules Frites, and the Vegetarian (Savory) Crepe. Let me just put it this way, while everything was tasty, nothing was very stunning looking. French Fries with dill (Dill?) which were served along side the huge bowl of delicious, hot and flavorful mussles were divine. The crepe was served the traditional French manner, with the fillings underneath, in this case, some large ripe chunks of avocado, nicely softened sun-dried tomatoes and lots of cheese (which may have been Swiss.) under a gorgeously turned out crepe that was obviously the work of a master. The Nicoise was made with all organic ingredients, which was nice, but seemed a little limp altogether.

For dessert we split a perfectly turned out, not overly sweet Crepe Suzette, which was enough to merit a return trip, but maybe during the day.

Overall food rating – Lovely
Décor – Southern French/Crafty
Noise level – Low
Odds of returning – Good
Parking – Free in city lots

Café Marly is located at 9669 Little Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90210


In a study in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers compared the effects of adding 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of dark chocolate or 90 grams (3.2 ounces) of white chocolate to the normal diets of 15 healthy Italians.

The participants ate a daily dose of dark chocolate for 15 days, followed by a seven-day no-chocolate phase, and then ate the white chocolate for another 15 days.

Researchers found that blood sugar metabolism was significantly improved after the dark chocolate phase, as evidenced by reduced insulin resistance and higher insulin sensitivity. But no such healthy effects were found after the white chocolate phase.The study also showed that the participants' systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) was significantly lower after 15 days of eating dark chocolate -- an average of 108 mm Hg compared with 114 mm Hg. Again, no effects were found after eating white chocolate.


Saturday, April 09, 2005


10 Books About Food

I love cookbooks almost as much as Heidi. As a matter of fact, upon a recent inspection, it came to light that I may even have more than my fair share. (What can I say, its an addiction!) But as an avid reader, I also like books on food that aren't strictly recipes. Of course there are the standards, A Year in Provence, and anything by Elizabeth David or MFK Fisher, but there are also so many more that I love and read over and over for their way of transporting me to far of places (and meals. Ah the meals.), their quirky humor, insight and knowledge. I thought today I would include a few of those and maybe inspire you to check some out for yourselves. Admittedly, some are out of print, but in this digital age, and what with you being so clever, I'm certain they can be found someplace! So, with no further ado, my list of 10 great food-related books that aren't cookbooks:

Blue Trout and Black Truffles – Delicious, divine, decadent and inspiring tales of eating in Europe (mostly France). Pick it up and you will not be able to put it down.

Perfection Salad – An interesting look into women and food in America. Covers some topics you just would never have thought of (why cookbooks fall there they do in the Dewey Decimal system for instance.) not scintillating, but fascinating for sure.

Burgundy Stars – Detailed and luxurious account of how Bernard Loiseau achieved his third Michelin star at La Cote d'Or. My copy is old, so I don’t know if the newest version has an update, but you may know that Bernard Loiseau tragically took his own life last year.

The Rituals of Dinner - An exploration of table manners, food taboos, and eating rituals found in cultures throughout the world. Impossible to put down.

The Unprejudiced Palate – Absolutely my favorite food book ever. Written in 1948 it is essays and anecdotes from the authors amazing life that will awe and inspire you. Lovingly written, hysterically funny and eye opening, this book is a true treasure. If you can find a copy, buy it. You will fall in love. (Includes some outstanding recipes too)

Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom – Another sort of sociological/anthopological (hey, I was abn Anthropology major, what do you expect?) explores how the availability of certain foods shaped our nation and ourselves.

Physiology of TasteI think this treasure should be required reading in high school. It is sophisticated, intellectual and brilliantly written. It has its detractors but I find it perfect. Look for the MFK Fisher translation, I find its a litte more accessible.

Sacramental Magic in a Small Town Café – Peter Reinhardt was a chef instructor at my cooking school, so of course I was compelled to read his book. I found it simply lovely and easy to read. The recipes are also top notch.


A surplus of diet food for the overweight has been a boon for the hungry in Appalachia.
Once hot and trendy, low-carb Atkins diet foods that never got sold are being shipped to food banks.
Since September, 14 truckloads of Atkins Nutritional bars, shakes and breakfast mixes have been
sent to charities that hand out free food.
Those who follow the food industry say a decline in the public's appetite for low-carb foods is leaving
manufacturers with a surplus. Industry estimates indicate the number of Americans
following any low-carb diet peaked in February 2004 and has fallen dramatically since
then. Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Technomic Inc., a food industry research and
consulting firm, said many companies overproduced low-carb foods and now are stuck with it.
``The market has just cratered for those products,'' he said. ``Typically when it shows up in
food banks, it's got very little commercial value.'' Atkins Nutritionals said in a statement
that the company routinely donates food to a number of charities. - AP

Friday, April 08, 2005


Kitchen Design

To know Don Silvers is to love him. Myself, I met him late last week and am completely under his spell. You see, Don is a kitchen designer. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface because what he really is (a gentleman and a genuine firecracker) is a kitchen designer with a difference. As a former chef instructor, Don and his (positively adorable) partner (and goddaughter) Moorea design kitchens based on the cooks needs. That may sound simple, but in fact, it is something most designers don’t do. Sure, other people can tell you where to put the stove in relation to the sink, but do they know why? Do they talk to you in detail about what you cook, for how many people, how often and with what tools? Most likely not. Don on the other hand, does. He also knows more about kitchen appliances than anyone I have ever met…but with a difference…he doesn’t care what brands you buy. He cares what it can do for you and if it is right for you. That’s all. He is not a salesman; he is a man with knowledge and experience that he wants to share. He is driven by a passion for cooking.

In my humble little life, new clients are constantly noting their (pleasant) surprise that when I come to give cooking lessons I am not selling anything. I have no special spice mix, I don’t represent a line of cookware and I don’t have a book. I really am there to teach you how to cook for the pure joy of sharing that skill. That is where Don and I are completely in synch. He doesn’t care if your stove is by Viking or Whirlpool, if your cutting boards are by John Boos or from Target, all he cares about is that you have the best kitchen set up for your cooking style. That is something I can get behind.

Unlike me, Don DOES have something to shill, (his kitchen design services for one) and since I am a fan, I will let you know. His new book Kitchen Appliances 101 came out this week, and it is a must have if you are any kind of foodie. No, its not about cooking, (and honestly, its not the most aesthetically pleasing book I have ever seen) it’s about equipment, but it is still a great read, a must have (along with his other book, Kitchen Design With Cooking In Mind) and fantastically inspiring.

I have spent many hours mentally designing my ideal kitchen. Conjuring the perfect space, looking at plans, talking animatedly about how high the counters should be, what material the flooring should be, how many sockets there should be (while debating the merits of slow food) and what fab little perks it will have. (You know, with my unlimited fantasy-budget) While all of this is still just a simple girls dream, (me not even owning a house and all), knowing the incomparable Don and reading his books make it seem within reach.


April is national soft pretzel month.

Under a new federal law that took effect Monday, stores must post information about where their fish fillets,
oysters, shrimp and the rest of their fresh seafood come from, clearly, either inside or outside of the display case. The law applies only to fresh seafood, not cooked, canned, smoked, breaded or marinated fish. Frozen fish will be covered in six months.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


L.A. Breakfast Spots

I am a girl who lives in a world of hyperbole. There is no aspect of my life that doesn’t include an exclamation point or an over the top description. “Fantastic” and “terrific” are almost as good to me as a well cooked meal. “Spectacular” and “divine” run neck and neck with a bottle of fine wine. So when I write about food, or as I am today, restaurants, just keep in mind, I mean every word I say, I just happen to think everything is better when it's big, wow and pow! Inspired by the ethereal Tiffany, and my own blessed little existence -- I have had the supreme pleasure of dining at more than my fair share of joints around these parts and (lucky lucky!) have an opinion for one and all -- I give you a list of the places I have been in the last month or so:

C & O – Washington Blvd. Venice. Are garlic knots are part of your breakfast regime? Do you require all mimosas to have more sparkling wine than orange juice and enough food on one plate to feed a family of four? This is the spot then kids! Gorgeous outdoor seating and freaky-people watching. I know this place is top notch kitch at night, but trust me, for breakfast by the water, it kicks ass.

Café 101 – Franklin Blvd. – It’s a coffee shop. It was in the movie Swingers. They play rock and roll on the jukebox. No outdoor seating, no liquor license, and yet I return. Go figure. Must be the blueberry pancakes.

Coffee Shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel – Sunset Blvd. Yes, its geriatric, but the food is good, the orange juice is fresh squeezed, there is never a wait and they have a touch of class a girl and her hangover sometimes needs.

Eat Well, Various locations – You're young, you're hip, you need your coffee fix. This is it kids. Outdoor seating, delicious food, swishy boys and random celebs (Breakfast with Jack Black anyone?) dogs welcome and cheap eats.

Flora Kitchen – La Brea Blvd. Miracle Mile. My first choice, always. It’s a flower shop that serves breakfast, and they pour them like they know me. High quality food, open air room, and flowers, flowers, flowers. Smells like heaven, perhaps because it is?

Fred 62 - Vermont Ave. Los Feliz. Another common stop for me. Verges on “Too Cool For School” but worth it. (And besides, Too Cool For School is just right by me!) Totally scrumptious food. Liquor license and excellent outdoor seating if you can get it.

Hamburger Marys – Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood. Its early on a Sunday, your broke, hung over, and want breakfast. The choices are boundless, but the best bang for your buck, including (sort of sketchy) $2.00 Bloody Mary’s is this West Hollywood spot. It’s a little disco, a lot of fab and the food is just ok, but at these prices, who are you to complain!

La Dijonaise – Washington Blvd. Culver City. – French breakfast food. Pastries and the like. Outdoor seating. I don’t care for this place, but it makes do in a pinch. (The pinch being someone wants to either A. hang out in Culver City or B. Go furniture shopping afterwards next door at HD Buttercup.)

Original – 3rd Street. I love Original, but man, oh, man is the service bad. Always. Huge portions, great food, no liquor license. Outdoor seating but never a wait since they are on the shady side of the street.

Pacific Dining Car – Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica. Are you old school? How about a Republican in a sea of liberals? Does your idea of a star spot include seeing Richard Meier live and in the flesh? If so, and you crave eating poached eggs in the dark (good when that hangover is just too glaring) along with a really good Bloody Mary, this is the spot for you.

The Rose Café – Rose and Main, Venice. I love the food here, I really do. The French toast is perfection on a plate. But they don’t serve drinks and ever since they put up that huge awning over the patio, I don’t know, it just lost its appeal. Why sit outdoors in the shade?

Toast – 3rd Street. I go back and forth with this joint. Yes, its on the sunny side of the street. Yes the food is spectacularly good and yes it is the hippest, trendiest place in the area. But if there is a wait, you can bet, I’m out of there. Outdoor seating, but no liquor license.

Urth Cafe - Beverly Blvd. Beverly Hills. This is the spot that hits the spot. Huge mugs of delicious coffee, counter service and a sunny outdoor patio. Sensational pastries, divine food, all together the tops. Just ignore all the other people there and enjoy.

Normandie Towers - West Hollywood. This is the perfect little hideaway. The service is smooth as a babies bottom, the food is better than any, anywhere, ever. Outdoor seating only, champagne and Bloody Mary's are always on the house. Heaven can't possibly hold a candle to this decadent little spot.


A hearty and well deserved congratulations to Carpal Fish for his Paper Chef winning Garlic Chive and Goat's Cheese Ravioli with Sherry Vinegar Reduction and Prosciutto Shards. Recipe! I too would have chosen that as the winner! And thank you to Fatima at Gastronomie for judging, it certainly seemed like a challenge!

"Several big food and beverage companies are looking at a new ingredient in the battle for health-conscious consumers: a chemical that tricks the taste buds into sensing sugar or salt even when it is not there.
Kraft Foods, Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Campbell Soup are all working with a biotechnology company called Senomyx, which has developed several chemicals, most of which do not have any flavor of their own but instead work by activating or blocking receptors in the mouth that are responsible for taste. They can enhance or replicate the taste of sugar, salt and monosodium glutamate, or MSG, in foods.
By adding one of Senomyx's flavorings to their products, manufacturers can, for instance, reduce the sugar in a cookie or salt in a can of soup by one-third to one-half while retaining the same sweetness or saltiness.
Now, for instance, a 10 3/4-ounce can of Campbell's Home-style chicken soup, which the company says contains two and a half servings, has more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That would probably be cut to a little over 1,500 milligrams when the chemical is added. (The government recommends consumption of no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day.)
Unlike artificial sweeteners, Senomyx's chemical compounds will not be listed separately on ingredient labels. Instead, they will be lumped into a broad category - "artificial flavors" - already found on most packaged food labels." –


Monday, April 04, 2005


Braised Garlic With Prosciutto and a Sherry Wine Vinegar Reduction

I thought I would make this dish last night after I saw the Paper Chef contest ingredients. I have never tried to do one of these before (Paper Chef's I mean) so I hope I did it right! Of course that was the moment my camera decided to conk out, so I have no proof of how glorious this dish came out. I actually had all of the ingredients on hand, and even with reducing the vinegar, it only took about 30 minutes total. Braising the green garlic mellowed it out a little (I found it harsh when fresh) and the reduced vinegar took on a sweetness remeniscent of balsamic, but with more depth and a sensational burnt caramel color. As for the cheese, I love the dried goat cheese, it has a texture like parmesan but less of a bite. I buy it at Whole Foods when it is available, but if it werent, I assume a smattering of fresh goats milk cheese on top would have been great too. Try it and enjoy!

½ cup sherry wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
2 bunches large green garlic (the ones that seem like really overgrown chives), trimmed to 6 inch lengths
1 bunch leeks, cleaned and trimmed to white part only, to six inch lengths
½ cup best quality chicken stock
A few pinches of rosemary and thyme, fresh or dried
6 slices prosciutto, torn into strips
1 stick Coach Farm Dry Aged Goat Cheese
1 large bunch watercress, washed
Fresh black pepper

Add the vinegar to a saucepan and reduce by half, over a low flame. Taste and add sugar if needed. (The sweetness will depend on your taste and the quality of the vinegar.) Add a pinch of rosemary and or thyme and continue to reduce until it is almost syrupy, another approx. 20 minutes. You should be left with about 2 tablespoons worth of reduced vinegar. Remove from heat when done.

Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, melt the butter and add the green garlic and leeks. Saute for 3-5 minutes or until slightly browned. Add the chicken stock, rosemary and thyme and cover. Lets simmer for 6-8 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and let cool.

To plate:On a large oval dish, layer the braised garlic and leeks on a bed of the watercress. Layer the prosciutto on top and drizzle with the reduced sherry vinegar. Season with fresh ground black pepper and then grate the dry aged goat cheese over it all. Serve family style.

Serves four


Simple Asparagus

Well, in case it wasn’t terribly obvious from my last few posts, I gave a cooking demonstration this past Sunday at the West Los Angeles Farmers Market. Thanks to the dreamy weather, and the crowd who were so attentive and asked such great questions, it went super well. Thank you so much to everyone who came. Darling Nathalie, the market organizer, had requested some simple recipes based on the season -- specifically leeks and asparagus and I did my best to rise to the occasion. It was a delightful challenge, since I adore both and am always excited to show people new ways to prepare vegetables. Leeks I feel are especially underused, finding their way into the soup pot more often than anything, instead of as a brilliant side dish, so it was a thrill to offer up this most simple, but elegant recipe. I was lucky enough to use Spring Hill butter (since they are vendors at the market) and am now a convert to their ultra-rich Jersey cow butter. If it is available in your area, I do suggest you pick some up. Anyway, here is the recipe for asparagus that I demonstrated, try it and enjoy!

1 pound of asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chicken stock
Zest of one lemon

In a medium sized soup pot melt your butter over moderate heat and add the asparagus.

Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, about three minutes, until they are slightly browned. Add the broth and zest. Cover and simmer for 3 more minutes, or until they are just crisp tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Can be served hot, but I prefer them cold.

Serves four


Margarine was first produced in France in the late 19th century.
Barley was mentioned in the Bible as one of the foods that was destroyed by the plagues of Egypt. (Exodus 9:31)

Anchovies are members of the herring family


Fresh from the Farmers Market Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005


West Los Angeles Farmers Market

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY! Yes, I know, this is a shameless plug…but since I am sincerely excited about my Cooking Demonstration at the West Los Angeles Farmers Market, THIS SUNDAY at 11:00 am, I feel like shouting it from the rooftops. It is going to be great fun, an extraordinarily gorgeous day, and I will be making a few recipes using local, organically farmed ingredients. Plus, if you have never taken one of my classes, it will be a great peek into my silliness/utter passion for all things culinary. I really do hope (if you live in the area) you will come down, ask questions, watch the demo, hear some great live music, buy some of the amazing produce that is the bounty of SoCal, and have a sensational day. I look forward to seeing you!

Here is some interesting information I took from the University of California Agriculture and Natural ResourcesNews and Information Outreach Website on healthy eating and its impact on California's economy. (Which, btw, is the 5th largest economy in the WORLD.)

If Californians were to follow long-established recommendations to eat more fruits and vegetables, it would benefit more than their health. The increased produce consumption would also provide a healthy boost to farmers’ bottom line.

Depending on the dietary scenario, the estimated annual net nationwide benefits for fruit and vegetable farmers range from $460 million to $1.44 billion, according to a report published by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center (AIC).

Despite the known health benefits, many people do not eat these recommended levels of fruits and vegetables. In some cases, the difference between actual and recommended consumption is quite large.

National surveys indicate that currently adults consume about 3.9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, excluding potatoes consumed as french fries or chips. Fruit consumption between low- and high-income consumers is similar, but high-income households eat 17 percent more vegetable servings a day than low-income households.


West Los Angeles Farmers Market Posted by Hello


Wild Mushroom Update

Nothing thrills me more than when the people's voices are heard.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services recently took the unprecedented action of banning sales of wild mushrooms in certified farmers' markets. The reason given was that the source of the wild mushrooms was not "an approved source" according to their definition. David West, a Southland member and long time vendor of wild mushrooms at the Santa Monica Certified Farmers' Market was essentially put out of business. Protests from customers and calls to the County Supervisors advising them that all wild mushrooms come from the same source added pressure on the Department of Health Services. In the end, the Department backed off its ban on wild mushrooms in Los Angeles County. - From the Southland Website


Frank Perdue, the folksy CEO who turned his father's backyard egg business into one of the world's biggest chicken companies by appearing in TV commercials that featured his remarkably bird-like face, has died. He was 84.

He died Thursday after a brief illness, the company said Friday.

Perdue was one of the first CEOs to pitch his own product on television in 1971, turning on the down-home charm as he delivered his famous line, ``It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.'' -

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