Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Lamb, Radish and Onion Sandwiches with Mint-Aioli

It is always the best time when my father comes to town...I wish you all knew him, because he is just the funniest, most charming man ever. He is world renowned for his kindness and passions, his generosity and dashing style, but most of all kids, the man can cook.. Its all about simplicity with him, (and a exuberant fondness for Pick-A-Peppa Sauce) just take this boneless leg of lamb recipe he made last night.

Take 10 cloves of garlic, slivered and insert into small cuts all over a 5 pound boneless leg of lamb. Put the lamb on a rack in a 350 degree oven, and cook for 17 minutes a pound. Remove from the oven when done, let rest for 5 minutes, slice and serve. Seriously, thats all the man does. No salt, no rosemary, no oil, nothing. Garlic, lamb and heat. A miracle of flavors, and it is the most succulent, tender meat imaginable.

The only trouble is, you end up with leftovers! Wait! Thats not a problem! So after you have done that, why not go ahead and try this recipe, my version of the perfect lamb sandwich. (My second sandwich recipe this week. Go figure) It takes only a few minutes to whip up and it will thrill your mouth with richness, crispy-coolness and general yum. I am not a fan of the classic mint jelly, but am a huge fan of mint in general, so I make this with a garlic-mint aioli, that really perks things up. Try it, and enjoy!

4 demi-baguettes
1/2 cup fresh mayo
2 cloves garlic
1 large bunch mint
tiny pinch of salt and pepper
1 pound cooked lamb meat, shredded
1 small bunch of rashes, sliced thin
lettuce greens
1 large red onion, sliced thin

Finely mince the garlic and mint. Add to your fresh mayo and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings.

To compose the sandwich, first split the bread in half and warm in a 200F oven for 5 minutes.
Spread a layer of the mint aioli, then the onion, greens, meat and radishes. Slice and serve.

Makes four sandwiches


Q: What do you get when you cross fruit with a necklace?
A: A food chain!

Aioli - [French] a cold egg and oil emulsion with olive oil and garlic. Many variations of this sauce are made. Basically is is a garlic mayonnaise

Best Food's Brand Mayonaise is known as Hellman's East of the Rocky Mountains


Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Chocolate-Cherry Risotto Rice Pudding

Peaches! (I mean you kids, not the ambrosial foodstuff) My recipe du jour is chocolate-cherry risotto rice pudding. Does that not just make your mind swirl? It should, because without a doubt it is the mostest yummiest chocolate dessert of all time. Dreamy , rich and creamy dark chocolate with softly cooked plump little grains of rice, mixed with a few choice bites of sweet, chewy, cherries. Everyone (even people who think rice pudding isn't their thing) loves this dessert. Nobody can resist it. It will rock your world. Are you in?

Now, its hardly noticeable in this particular forum, but I have been under a bit of a gloom cloud for the last few weeks (I know, I know, poor little me. LOL) and last night I was thrilled to bits and pieces when my dearest, kindest and bestest friend offered to come over and hang out on the big pink couch, sit through a Myrna Loy marathon and completely overdose on comfort food with me. Trust me when I say, it is a true friend indeed who is willing to throw all caution to the wind and eat with me when I'm in a funk. (That peaches, was my way of saying, this is no low cal dealio) I get so wrapped up in the idea, I end up setting out my version of the gluttons buffet. There was fried food, creamed food, carbs, starches, candies, nuts and chips. Heck, I even put out pate, olives, cotton candy and as a last minute addition, popcorn balls (in case there wasnt enough other food).

It is a rare occasion I would indulge at this level, but lets face it, its a really fun way to spend an evening. We ate and ate, and ate and ate, laughed and drank, and it was heaven. That is not to say that you should ever rollick in such reckless behavior, but if you are wanting to do something fun and try something different, this pudding alone is enough to loft up anyones spirits. Try it, and enjoy.

1 cup Aborio rice
2 cups water
pinch of salt
10 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate kisses and some cocoa nibs)
1/2 cup hot chocolate mix
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dried cherries
powdered sugar for garnish

2 days or at least 4 hours in advance make the rice. In a large sauce pan, add the rice, water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let steam for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit, covered for 10 minutes. Put the rice in a bowl, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool completely.

In a large pan, heat the milk and cream with the cherries and hot chocolate mix over low heat. Add the rice and stir in the chocolate pieces, reserving a few for garnish. Allow to simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit. Garnish with a few chocolate bits, and sifted powdered sugar.

Makes enough for 6-8 people


What? You didnt know Hershey made Dark Chocolate Kisses? Well in fact, yes, they do

Rich in bio-flavonoids and ellagic acid. Studies show cherries to be a good source of antioxidants and darker cherries will have higher levels than red/yellow ones

August is National Sandwich Month


Monday, August 29, 2005


Asparagus, Leek and Chile Grilled Cheese

Mmm. Could there be anything more scrumptious than a classic grilled cheese sandwich?
It's ooey-gooey-deliciousness that makes me smile - and dig in! My all time favorite version of this versatile concept includes asparagus, leeks, chiles and tomatoes. Sometimes I throw in a few anchovies and a slathering of whole grain mustard, but it is also, without-a-doubt, flawless just like this.

I have made this for cooking demonstrations, because it is beautiful and delicious. I've made it for a casual lunch for my family and friends, because it is fun to make, and fantastically yummy, and I make it for myself because I just plain love it.

As a chef, I sometimes do go overboard with recipes. This, for instance, I really did make on the grill. (It's a grilled cheese! Why is it never grilled?) I know this isn’t exactly something you can whip up as fast as, say, putting butter on the bread, slapping on some cheese and frying it up in a pan. It’s more complex, more subtle, and kids, it’s a heck of a lot more tasty. What I have done is include a lot of different textures flavors to make a savory sandwich. The strongest flavor is the goat cheese, which is mellowed by the leeks, and the fontina. By sautéing the leeks with the chiles, the olive oil is infused and adds just a touch of heat. Try it, and enjoy.

8 thick slices country style white bread
Fontina Val D’Aosta (It’s a Raw Milk Italian cheese)
Bucheron Aged Goats Milk Cheese
Olive oil
Two leeks, white part only, sliced lengthwise into long strips.

1 pound asparagus
1 red chile pepper
2 tomatoes

Preheat your grill or a cast iron skillet.

In a sauté pan, add the leeks and chiles to the oil, and slowly warm over low. You are trying to sweat them, which means, cook without adding color, this should take about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the asparagus. Remove and slice lengthwise. Set aside.

Dip the bread into the chile-leek oil. Top with some of the cheese, and grill (lid down) until the cheese is melted and the bread is lightly toasted.

Remove the toasted cheese from the grill, add the tomatoes, leeks, chiles, asparagus and some black pepper. Top with a second slice of bread, slice and serve.


Brilliant! “Dinners Ready, a company based in Mukilteo, Wash., offers customers the chance to assemble 6 to 12 meals in less than two hours at one of its kitchens. Customers go online to select 12 meals from a rotating list that may include chicken fettuccini with red pepper cream sauce, flank steak with blue cheese demi-glace and mashed potatoes, or San Francisco seafood cioppino. Ms. Victa, of Lynnwood, Wash., chooses from among the company's eight sites in the Seattle area, picks a time and pays $216. Each meal will feed six people - in her household, enough for dinner and lunch the next day. That comes out to about $3 a serving.

Cook-and-carry companies like Dinners Ready are opening across the country and piggybacking on Americans' growing desire for quick but healthy meals at home. At the kitchens, customers follow posted recipes but can control specific ingredients - avoiding anything to which they're allergic, or simply don't like. The companies aim to avoid preservatives and artificial ingredients in their recipes.” NY Times

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Sunday, August 28, 2005


Fried Okra and Green Tomatoes with Tomato-Mint and Almond Salad

In case it hasn’t been extremely well established by now, I am a simple girl who just plain loves taking part in online food events. My only qualm is that when I make food on my own, I feel like I get a pretty picture, but when I take on a food event meal, it never comes out too yummy lookin’. Am I cursed? Perhaps. But maybe it’s something bigger than that. Or not.

The perfect example, (of course) is my entry today for IMBB 18. The topic (topic?) was frying. (Summer Is Flying, Let's Get Frying to be exact) Yup. Fry something. That is so delicious an idea, I had to join in, even knowing the photo of my idea wouldn’t be so glam. Because let's face it, deep fried never looks too pretty (in my experience) but that really is no matter, since gosh darn, it always tastes fantastic.

So my gloriously un-photogenic entry is Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Okra served with a Tomato-Mint and Almond Salad. (Salad, salsa, garnish, medley, whatever!) And the happy upshot is that it was, without a doubt, one of the yummiest things I have eaten in weeks.

The rationally behind my choice was that I am mildly obsessed with the foods of the American South, which I ate with relish one summer during a college internship and am constantly trying to recreate at home. (Its a tougher sell to my clients) Among many other foods, the star of this dish, okra, features prominently in Southern cuisine. A native to Africa, okra is a long pod, (also sometimes called lady-fingers) and it is well known, a slimy mouthfeel when you eat it. Something some people really cant abide. The slime factor is also why it actually works super well when it is fried with a crunchy corn meal coating. It sort of reduces the slime (I really wish I could use a different word there, I just can’t) and makes it a fun thing to eat. It is for sure, a vegetable I wish more people would cozy up to.

In addition to the fried business, the tomatoes are tangy and have a lemony vibrancy making a great combo. I added the salad to round it out, and the mint and chile are a heavenly to the whole thing. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.

Here is the recipe, if you are in the mood to try it's salty, crunchy, spicy, minty, delicousness out yourself. Enjoy!

3 assorted color tomatoes, large cubed dice
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 chile pepper, minced (some set aside for garnish)
Large bunch of mint, chiffonade
¼ cup slivered, toasted almonds
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound okra
3 green tomatoes
2 eggs
½ cup white flour
½ cup corn meal flour
2 teaspoons almond slivers, crushed
1 tablespoon course ground black pepper
salt (lots and lots of salt)

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, chile, mint, almonds, vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste. Set aside

In a shallow bowl, gently whisk the eggs and set aside.

In another shallow bowl, combine the flours, crushed almonds and black pepper.

Cut the tomatoes into ½ inch slices, and the okra into the same (discarding the stems and tips)

In a wide, shallow pan, heat ½ inch of vegetable oil over medium heat.

Toss the tomatoes and okra in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then back into the flour.

Shake off excess and gently and carefully, add to the oil in a single layer. Fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side). Remove and drain on paper towels. Salt liberally and serve with the tomato-mint-almond salad.

Makes enough for four appetizers


Okra probably originated somewhere around Ethiopia, and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians by the 12th century B.C.

Mature okra is used to make rope and paper

Corn flour is made of finely ground corn and is gluten-free


Friday, August 26, 2005


Harvest Foccacia

Poor little me. I wasn't feeling so hot yesterday (might have been due to overindulging the night before, but then again, who knows) and I found myself craving some good-old-fashioned mindless entertainment. I turned on live TV (Tivo just seemed too complex at that point) and there, beaming out in front of me was Napa based Chef Michael Chiarello merrily whipping up some party food. I forget what the pretense for the meal was, (there always seems to be one on that show) but it all looked sort of simple and elegant, yet hearty and approachable. Very appealing indeed. I paid just enough attention to get the idea of what he was doing with his Harvest Focaccia, before leaping up and setting off to make some of my own, cured of whatever was ailing me for sure. (I never really sit through cooking shows, I tend to get too inspired. Or bothered. Depending on the host.)

Turns out, I have always been a fan of Mr. Chiarello's Southern Italian-Californian cooking. Moons ago, when he still ran the restaurant Tra Vigne I had a few friends who worked for him, and would listen to them absolutly rave about what a swell guy he was, (pretty rare in the cook-to-boss world,) which left me quite impressed. And now he is an Emmy award winning TV personality with cookbooks and products and shows and who knows what else. (He has actually had the products for a decade or so too, so its not like the guy is some Johnny-come-lately) And I say kudos to him.

So after watching his intro schpeil on this, grape, raisin and herb topped bread, I went ahead and made it using my own recipe. The topping includes contrasting textures of the raisins and grapes. The milk in the dough makes the crumb softer and the olive oil adds a terrific chewiness and mouth-feel. There was a great sweetness and richness to it that I enjoyed whole-heartedly. Since I typically leave my foccacia plain, this was an inspired change of pace. Here is the recipe as I made it. I think adding black olives would be awesome too. Try it, and enjoy!

½ cup warm milk
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 packet yeast (1 tablespoon)
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
¼ cup raisins
½ cup red grapes, rinsed and halved
1 onion, sliced thin
2 cups all purpose flour
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, yeast and warm milk, stir to combine and let sit, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, gently heat the olive oil. Remove from the stove and add the grapes, raisins, onion, and oregano. Set aside.

When the starter is foamy (indicating the yeast is active) add the remaining flour, a tablespoon of the oil and 1 cup of water, and knead until elastic (or put in your mixer for three minutes on medium speed. Add ¼ of the grape mixture and mix in thoroughly. Coat the dough with some oil, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rise for 45 minutes.

Using some of the flavored oil, coat the bottom of a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides.) When the dough has risen, remove from the bowl, and shape into a long rectangle in the pan. Using your fingers, create a few impressions (dimples) in the dough, then add the grape mixture on top.

Bake in a 400F oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool. Slice and serve.

Makes enough for 8 people


There are at approximatley 850 wineries in California. Roughly half of these wineries sell less than 5,000 cases and the largest 25 ship 90 percent of all California wine to markets worldwide.

"Toasted Sandwiches are hot. In January, The Subway sandwich chain armed itself with new high-tech ovens and began offering customers nationwide the option of toasting their sandwiches. McDonalds Corp. the world's largest restaurant chain, is testing deli-style sandwiches, some toasted, at about 400 of its 13,600-plus U.S. restaurants...Helped along by toasty offerings, sandwich shop sales grew by 9.5% last year, to $16.8 billion...Aside from the novelty of toasted subs made-to-order, customized foods are perceived as healthier" - Wall Street Journal

Does dairy help you lose weight? Doubtful. "It is not a case of drink milk, lose weight. It works only for people who eat a low-calorie diet and who are not already consuming three servings of dairy. That's a bit more nuanced than the "Lose More Weight" and "Burn More Fat" emblazoned across the packaging of a growing array of dairy products..."

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Thursday, August 25, 2005


Dill Pickle Flavored Chips

I know, I was a little harsh on the British when I noted earlier that the potato chips there come in all sorts of flavors you wouldn't expect. (Chicken, beef, shrimp and pork to be specific) I admit, I was just being a touch silly, since heaven knows here we have sour cream, barbeque, cheddar cheese and now this. This gift from heaven. This which is the culmination of all of my life's dreams, a the perfect combination of my favorite things. Salt, Pickles and Fried. This which is possibly the oddest, tackiest, and most delicious thing to ever come out of a laboratory. All hail Dill Pickle Flavored Potato Chips. My new most favorite junk food ever. Too bad they don't sell it in Los Angeles. (Or perhaps, that is a good thing.)


It takes one pound of potatoes to make about 150 average size chips
It is believed that pickles date back 4500 years to Mesopotamia
Globally, we consume more than 5,000,000 lbs of pickles daily
The Dill pickle is the most popular, followed by the sweet pickle
Amerigo Vespucci was a pickle merchant before becoming an explorer

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The (First) Really Big Cook-Off ROUND-UP

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in The (First) Really Big Cook-Off! I think these entries are pretty fab! I was excited to see how people made changes, found ingredients that suited them (even if it involved runing to the market half way through cooking.) and (it seems anyway) having a great time trying something new.

To recap - one recipe was dissected and made by different cooks, with different ingredients and their own personal spin. I only wish I could have tasted them all! Here now, with no further ado, are the results.

First up, we have Kathryn at Finn's Space. She made the original recipe (which was changed after she read it, because I realized some people may not have been able to find asparagus) Her version followed that recipe exactly, and her pictures are fantastic. I wish I had been able to try a bite! She says she wasn’t able to find wonton wrappers OR fresh pasta, so she opted for lasagna noodles. How, I don't know, but I love it! Ingenuity at its best.

Next came one of my all time favorite bloggers (and soon to be Food Network SUPER star, since she had a little date with Mr. Tyler Florence recently), Sylvia at Soul Fusion Kitchen. Sylvia got all kinds of wild and used purple potatoes. What a sensational idea! I love how they look. She posted a lot of pictures of the whole process. She opted for a combination of parmesan and an apple smoked gruyere cheese, and very cleverly used the water she had cooked the potatoes in to boil the finsished past too. That is an excellent tip!

The amazing (and I do mean that!) Shauna, of Gluten-Free Girl who suffers from gluten intolerance (yikes!) went and did the astounding. She actually made the pasta herself, and gluten free, natch. I am impressed beyond words. My hat is off to you hon! I wasnt exactly able to paste her beautiful picture here, so please do visit her site to see it!

The dashing Darell, of Darell Eats, used the recipe to spend time with his honey Sarah. Like a few others, they had some trouble finding watercress (who knew it was such a hard to find ingredient!) and opted for arugula. For cheeses, they went classic with ricotta and asiago. For a first time ravioli makers, Darell and Sarah seems hooked! I'm so glad!

The next semi-entrant (who, I fear I may have harrassed into posting about it. Gulp/Grin.) is my dear (virtual) friend Sarah, known far and wide for leading a fantastically Delicious Life. She had a dinner party that included ravioli which I am sure was enjoyed by everyone in her company. How could anyone not love the food made by this woman?

And of course (of course!) I did my own version too, which you can read here.

So, now that you've seen the results, here is the rationale...

I chose this Jamie Oliver recipe for a lot of reasons. It sounded yummy (which it was), different and not-too-hard to make. The other, more nefarious reason is that, while I am a fan, the popularity of his cookbooks sort of confuses me, since I think recipes are hard to follow for a lot of home cooks. I know, he's extra cute, and all kinds of chipper, but if you ever watch his shows or read his books a lot of explinations are left out.

This recipe is a perfect example of that, and the perfect recipe to prove me wrong. Now, as some of you noticed, at first I chose Mr. Oliver's Ravioli with Potatoes, Mint and Asparagus, and then changed it to Ravioli with Potato, Watercress and Cheeses, almost identical recipes, without a lot of description on what exactly to do, and yet everyone managed. I am thrilled at how people took to the challenge, followed the recipe and made it their own. I hope The (Second) Really Big Cook-Off will be as big a sucsess.

See you next month! I'm thinking short you have any ideas?


If I forgot to include you, please email me at

Monday, August 22, 2005


Summer Soup

This past Sunday I spent most of the afternoon at a glorious brunch wishing darling Astrid bon voyage and a very happy birthday. In a few days time the sweet baby-girl is headed off to the big apple to see what is to be seen, and I'm going to miss her like mad. If any woman is LA to the core, it's this child. She makes glamour look effortless and tops it all off with a heart of gold & a platinum card. She knows exactly how much valet costs at every restaurant in town, and always orders the turkey chop. God love her.

She made a few requests for me to bring dishes to the brunch, since it was a sort of pot luck thing, some of which I made, most of which (the list was about 8 pages long) I didn’t. One dish I did manage to concoct in her honor was this simple cold soup. It is just like her, a perfect balance between sweetness and light. I had a lot of fantastically bright yellow tomatoes and the combination of sweet and tangy with the zip of the zest and the sprightly mint was culinary perfection. Try it, and enjoy! And if you are in NYC next month and see a six foot tall glamazon shivering in the cold, tell her hi for me.

1 large cantaloupe melon
2 large yellow tomatoes, seeded
1/4 sweet Maui onion
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
a few fresh mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper (that five pepper blend is what I used. Makes it more festive)
zest of one lime, and a small squeeze of the juice
1/2 cup club soda

Blend all, taste and adjust seasonings. Chill one hour and serve in shot or martini glasses.

Serves six - eight


Round Up For The (First) Really Big Cook-Off will be posted tomorrow, stay tuned!

Today’s entry into “excellent Yahoo searches that bring up this site”: how many woman can produce baby in comoros in 2005

What we call 'cantaloupe' in the U.S., is actually a muskmelon. The true cantaloupe is a European melon named after a castle’s gardens in Italy.

“Dependency on private charity by thousands of people reflects how Holland -- long admired for its fast-paced growth, high employment and prosperity -- is increasingly falling on hard times.

After years of strong growth, the economy has ground to a near standstill and since April 2004, the number of people receiving free food packages at the Dutch Food Bank has jumped from 600 per week to nearly 5,000. Thousands more go without.
The conservative government has been trying to bring under control vast costs for welfare, by limiting the number of recipients, and healthcare, expected to balloon in coming years due to aging population.” – Associated Press



Ravioli with Potato, Watercress and Cheese

Hi ev'body! Here is my very own entry for The (First) Really Big Cookoff. As noted (many times) earlier, the recipe was for the Jamie Oliver treat Ravioli with Potato, Watercress and Cheese. I went a little mad with the camera, so there are lots of pictures to share along with my thoughts. Hee hee.

Along with a few of the other people who took part in this fun little experiment, I started with wonton wrappers, not being in the mood to make fresh pasta. (I never even considered it actually. I have made it plenty in the past and was never impressed. It comes out too, well, actually, too slimy for my taste.) For the optional cheeses I chose to use two very distinct flavors, a Spanish sheeps milk Manchego (I use that a lot. I love it) and a crazy-pungent Amish Blue, (cows milk) cheese both of which I bought at Whole Foods. I was pretty excited about the blue cheese, since after tasting about six differents ones (at an the un-palatable hour of 9 am. No matter how much I love blue cheese, it still doesnt qualify as breakfast food) and this one had a great flavor and it was reasonably priced.

Like Sylvie, I too wanted the potatoes to have a bit of flair, so I went with the buttery yellow Yukon Golds (At first I wanted the pink-ish Rose Finns but I couldn't find them anywhere. Sigh). After that I pretty much followed the recipe as it was written. Filling in all noted gaps. Here it is in case you wanted to see it again. As I mentioned earlier, this was re-printed without any permission what-so-ever.

Serves 4-6

6 sheets fresh pasta (cut out into 36 circles or squares, or use 36 wonton wrappers)
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
4 or 5 good handfuls watercress, large stalks removed, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup butter
10 - 12 oz. cheese, extra for garnish
Grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash and peel the potatoes, put them into well-salted, boiling water with the garlic and cook until the potatoes are just tender (it is very important not to under- or overcook them). Drain them and let them sit for about 5 minutes to enable the excess water to evaporate (if you overcook them or don't drain them correctly they'll be too moist and your filling will be too wet).

When the potatoes have cooled slightly add your butter and your chosen cheeses. Stir and mash with a fork to mix and break the potatoes up (I like to leave the mixture slightly chunky). Add the nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Stir in the watercress, half finely chopped and the rest coarsely chopped.

Place a good heaped teaspoon of this mixture onto the lower half of each of the pasta squares (or circles). To seal, wet the inside edge with a little water or egg wash, fold over and presssing down to seal completely.

Cook in boiling salted water, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes, until tender. The ravioli will float when done.

And then, I ate. I loved how the strong taste of the cheese and watercress came through. I could not detect the garlic at all (I think next time, I will saute the garlic first. Bring out the flavor, and then use it as a garnish) and was pleasantly suprised at how the flavor of the potato came through too. It was nice. I had worried it would be too pasty, but it stayed light. The suggestion to leave some chunky was also a good thing, adding variation to the texture. Like a lot of other participants I also had a lot of extra filling, but that may have been my fault for under filling the pasta. Since it was in essence, blue cheese mashed potatoes, it was a great treat the next day. Mmm.

So overall, I was thrilled with the results. This isn't something I would have thought up on my own, but I am ecstatic I tried it. Next time, I think I will serve it with a watercress pesto, jazz it up a bit.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005


L.A. on $40 a Day - Dine and Dish

Limiting yourself to spending $40.00 a day to eat in LA is pretty simple. (If you were trying to do a Rachael Ray kinda thing.) I mean, there must be a thousand places you could grab a bagel (not that there are really any decent ones to be found) burrito, falafel platter or sandwich. You could get a $5.00 lunch in Westwood Village (lasagna, salad and a soda) or the soup combo at Tokyo Fast Food (which, I love. The udon soup there is unreal.) in West LA and still have cash to blow through for dinner. We really do have it all. $6.00 all you can eat vegan Ethiopian buffet? Check. $5.00 Ba-Bim-Bop at the mall? Sure thing. How about a donation-only 10 course Thai banquet at the largest Wat in the western world? You bet. BBQ shacks, drive through Oaxacan and take out Basque, it's all right here. Or hey, if you have the patience, you could even wait in line at (world famous) Pink's hot dog stand for breakfast lunch and dinner and not even come close to blowing that 4 bill budget! That could take up a whole day in itself (the lines are that long. For hot dogs.)

I have mentioned many times that restaurant reviews aren’t really my gig. I am not super keen on taking snaps in restaurants, and "It’s nice" and "the food is good" is usually about as descriptive as I get…but…in keeping with the theme presented by Ms. Posh Sam for her turn at LA Restaurant Reviewer Extraordinaire Sarah's, Dine and Dish, I will forge ahead because despite my descriptive limitations, it's still fun.

What makes one an Angeleno isn’t what they eat, it’s what we DON’T eat, and where we are when we aren’t eating. (Let’s face it, this is also a town of skinny women and superlative salads) So in that light here is what I would spend $40 on in one days dining to get a full Los Angeles style experience.

Breakfast. 10:30 a.m. – After a hard night of schmoozing, caffeine is the call. And the siren song for me rings sweet and clear from Urth Caffé. Grungy celebs, Beverly High kids, middle-Eastern prince/sses and the hoi-paloi (meaning, actors and people working on scripts) all get a good fix at this adorable location in a converted cottage on a commercial strip. If you want to sit outside and not deal with the lines at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and get something organic, fair-trade and veggie this is your stop. They offer a full menu of exotic and not so exotic coffees, teas, smoothies, chocolate, pastries, soups and salads. You can also buy beans and leaves to go. The deep dish cherry pie is particularly scrumptious, but who can spare the calories? My trainer would kill me! A café Americano in a large ceramic cup costs $3.95. Parking, as in all of the B’Hills, is a drag, but there are free, 2-hour city lots all over.

Lunch. 1:30 p.m. – So your head is a little cleared up, and lo and behold it's lunchtime. There are choices galore up and down Beverly Drive and Canon (pronounced canyon, for those of you who are new on the scene) chains range from Chipotle (warning, this joint is owned by McD’s – verboten in my world), Islands (tropical themed burger joint), Cheesecake Factory (my what large PORTIONS you have) and Johnny Rockets (retro themed burger joint) let alone all of the higher end places. There is also the really tasty Basic Bites on No. Beverly. Salads to make your head swim. Happily, all of these spots deliver if you can’t get out of that conference call.

Me, I don’t have conference calls, but I do have a deep love for Porta Via. It’s Italian food, with a quiet glamour. They are the nicest people, the owner and his girlfriend (wife?) are almost always on hand, and the service is sublime. For lunch, try the half panini and a half salad. It’s a decent sized sandwich, hot, tasty and gooey (that is, if you get the turkey and cheese as I normally do), on beautiful grilled rustic bread, and the salad is always fresh mixed greens. They automatically bring the dressing on the side too. (Knowing your audience is so cool) You can sit outside on the sidewalk (great people watching, but the service tends to slow down), at the long bar or at one of the cozy tables. (And by cozy, I mean it’s a small, tight space. The restaurant is quite deep but not so wide) The sandwich/soup or salad combo is a dazzlingly inexpensive $7.95. If you are really on a $40 budget, I guess you could have water to keep the tab down, but they do have a nice list of wines, and a full bar to tempt you.

Dinner. 7:30 p.m. - Ah, here we are. Dinner time. Of your $40 you are down to $28.10 which should be plenty to imbibe at Jones Hollywood. I know, it’s almost common to eat there at this point, but since you can’t get a decent meal for much less than that in the Beverly Hills area, I urge you to take the trip. (Don’t panic, West Hollywood is the next town over. 10 minute drive tops) Valet will cost you $5.00 if you don’t find street parking (which you should be able to) Just so you know, they do take reservations, but will only seat you if you are all there, so be on time.

It’s a low-lit place, with a bar and another separate dining room, it’s loud as hell and great for star spots (hey, even if outwardly you’re blasé about it, we all know it’s still a secret thrill) There is also a not-so-secret smoking room for those of you with nic fits but no food or drinks are served there. The main draw of Jones for me, (other than the pervasice rock and roll attitude) is that they serve martinis in the shaker, so you really get two for the price of one (score!) and the pizza’s are huge and crispy goodness big enough to share, but cheap enough to keep the bank from breaking. If you are avoiding carbs, the chicken dishes are also all amazing and the prime rib is out of this world. They have all the usual fare, salads and burgers, plus really good specials. Oh, and keeping with the rocker theme, the drinks menu has a lot of hilarious names: you can get blitzed on a Sid Vicious (Jack Daniels, vermouth, orange juice), or Joan Jett (Jack Daniels, triple sec, lemon juice, grenadine) if that is your thing. Drinks are $10 and entrees run $8-25, so you should be able to squeek by and not exceed your budget. Save room for the hot apple pie too, it comes on an iron skillet and is outrageous.

So there you have it, how I would spend $40 in one day in Los Angeles. Of course, it would be more my style to stay home for breakfast and lunch, spend the afternoon at a spa then meet my friends for dinner at Hirozen, but that would be about triple the price. So much for me and Ms. Ray.


None of the places I mentioned seem to have live websites. (The one for Jones is blank) But here are their reviews from Zagats.

URTH CAFFE - 267 So. Beverly Drive. A “guilt-free” “decadent dream”, this “popular” pair attracts a “hip clientele” with New American dishes made with “all-natural ingredients” (including vegan selections) and “rich, dark” fair-trade organically grown coffee; though the “wait’s a killer”, for most the “tasty”, “healthy” fare is “worth the hassle.”

PORTA VIA - 424 NO. Canon. Known for years as a place to grab a cappuccino while shopping along Canon Drive, this casual, understated cafe recently expanded into the space next door, adding an outdoor patio straight out of a piazza in Milano; now a full-scale Italian restaurant, it offers a well-balanced menu that runs from light bites such as baby arugula with mushrooms and Parmesan, to a hunger-satiating grilled rib-eye.

JONES HOLLYWOOD - 7205 Santa Monica Blvd. A “film industry hangout” with a “rocker vibe”, this “dark, dark” WeHo “fave” is a “guaranteed good time” thanks to the “sexy ambiance”, “old-school leather booths” and “hot” crowd; though the service “can be nonexistent”, the Italian-American fare is “decent”, and you’re really there for the “excellent martinis” and the “slim shot you’ll run into George Clooney.”

Friday, August 19, 2005


Quince Paste and Manchego Cheese

Just a passing thought for the day.

Membrillo, kythonopasto or quince paste, whatever you call it, it is a sweet, jam like foodstuff made from quince, (a fruit that can only be eaten cooked,) that seems to have only one purpose. For years, I have wondered what else a girl could do with such a delicious thing as quince paste, (which I buy at Whole Foods or The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills) but other than finding (dozens upon dozens) of recipes for how to make it, (which is super easy, when quince are in season, in the late fall) the only recipe I have ever found for how to use it is this: Serve with cheese and crackers. I guess this is an instance where perfection was found, and has never been improved upon, because a slice of Spanish manchego cheese topped with a sliver of quince paste really is ambrosia. The zenith of food combinations.

What makes it so delectable is the combination of the sweetness of the quince paste (with a gelled mouth feel) and the crumbling smooth tang of the cheese. It may seem basic and humble, or fancy and a touch exotic (I guess that depends on where you live. Its quite common in Spanish speaking countries), but either or, it is worth trying.


Don’t forget, today is the deadline for The (First) Really Big Cook-Off! Email a link to your recipe to me at, and if you are willing, include the cost of the ingredients…it would be fun to compare. Entries so far came from Sylvie and Kathryn. I hope you'll join in too!

B y happy chance, this post fit into the theme for this month's Blog Party at Dispensing Happiness. Fancy that! Heaven knows most of my posts fit into the catagory "Cocktail food" (Me being obsessed and all) so I am thrilled to be part of this!

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jeff Grocott compares wines aged in inexpensive home wine coolers and those aged in cellars. The outcome of his simple tasting? The winners were all from his cooler, (which he had been fearing was ruining his wines) and not the fancy cellars. They also try out home deli slicers, and conclude the best bet for the home chef is (in the best value category) was the Heavy Duty Meat Slicer from Cabelas. A bargain at $99.00. Buy one, and see how, in the immortal words of Kramer, with home-sliced meats "The taste has no where to hide."

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The Wall Street Journal - A Different Kind Of Foodie Paper

Sure, sure, most on-line food lovers read the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times Food sections religiously. I mean, they are well established and based in real food mecca cites. But me, I read The Wall Street Journal. You learn a LOT reading that daily, and I am not ashamed to say, I read it every day. (I know, I’m so uncool!) For those of you who think it may not be relevant in a foodie kind of way, I am here to point out that it IS a foodie read, if you just take the time. Here are some highlights from the last week.

“Once Dowdy, the Apron Ascends To Costly Kitchen Couture” I personally have three aprons from Kitch'n Glam, who they feature. According to the article "The latest, hottest-selling feminie designs represent women's new embrace of domesticity on their own terms..." and "Apron chic taps into a rising interest in home entertaining and gourmet cooking - the same trends that have spurred more people into staying at home to catch the spate of new cooking programs hosted by beautiful people such as Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver."

On the front page of the Marketplace section last Friday, the headline read “Champagne’s Land Lock: Grape Growers Lack Space To Match Surging Demand; The Legacy of a 1927 Law.” News that caught my eye. The article goes on to say that “Independent grape growers own 90% of the Champagne regions vineyards,” “Even a 2 ½ acre tract of high-quality Champagne-grape-growing land can fetch as much as $1.2 million.” And most importantly “ Champagne makers have a bittersweet problem: They are literally running out of room to grow. Though global sales of Champagne reached $4.5 billion last year – up 54% since 1990 and still strong – the amount of land available to grow Champagne grapes is fixed at about 84,0000 acres. That is due to a 1927 French law that set the boundaries of the country’s Champagne region.”

They also had a blind tasting of national and international lagers and the overall winner, with a average score of 7.0, was Heineken. “Panel was a bit shocked they’d blind-tasted this familiar beer to No. 1. Balance was the key.” And you think they are all stuffy over there. Ha.

And of course, it was from the WSJ that we learn “McDonalds was by far the Dow industrial average’s best performer” and that “Coke Zero Looks for Positive Spin: Failure to define diet drink in ads confuses consumers, but a new pitch is coming” Information I find fascinating.

OK, well, you know, That’s my random thought for the day. I think more foodies should read the WSJ. Tomorrow, back to my food issues!


Don't forget August 19th is the deadline for The (First) Really Big Cook-Off! Post your entry on your blog and let me know you did it by emailing

A print subscription to the Wall Street Journal for 52 weeks costs $215. Plus you get 4 free weeks (56 in all) when you pay by credit card

Did you know that dandelion greens are edible? Most people boil them until tender (change the water once to mellow their tangy taste), then garnish with butter or lemon juice.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Philly Cheese Steak


This was the most spectacular weekend! I went to a (Uncatered. Sigh) party on Saturday night that was built around watching a few episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. A seriously funny show, that you should check out. (Feel the plug. Watch the show.)

I was there for an hour or so when I realized the man sitting across from me was actually dear friend I had not seen in ages. I hardly recognized him, (he was sort of dazzling actually) but the minute we started talking, it was just like old times. Seems he had moved to Philly for med school and only came back to LA last year. (His Philly connection was what got him invited to this shin-dig I suppose)

We happily chatted about food for awhile, especially Douglas Rodriguez’s Alma De Cuba, the first (and best, in my opinion) Nuevo Latino restaurant in the country, Philly's renowned rich custard style ice cream and the world famous (sic) Philly Cheese Steak, which to his chagrin, I had never tasted. You know, now that I think about it, for a cardiologist, he sure can wax rhapsodic over some outrageously bad-for-you foods. Hmmm.

Anyway, I was super stoked when he invited me out to his beach house the next day to hang out and play. I promised to bring all the fixin’s (Hee hee. I love saying fixin’s) for some Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, in keeping with the theme of the weekend, so he could show me how it’s done. Turns out, that wasn’t the best idea ever, since it ended up of the 8 people there, three were vegetarians, one on a juice fast, but the rest of us were loving it. Too funny. He got the recipe from a Philadephia area news website, and I fancied it up a bit, so I’m including my changes. I didn’t have a camera on hand, and it wasn’t that photogenic, but it is tasty, so try it, and enjoy!

1 ½ pounds of double shaved (ask your butcher to do this. We got it from Bristol Farms, after explaining what we were doing they were all over helping us. They also told us you can buy this in the frozen section at Costco. Who knew!) Sirloin Steak
2 thinly sliced sweet maui onions
2 tbsp of vegetable oil for grilling onions
1/4 tsp each, salt and pepper
1 pound of sliced: Provolone cheese, (or Cheez Whiz. Seriously, that’s what they use)
4 (7-inch), Sliced Italian Soft Rolls (we got these at Bay Cities in Santa Monica. I don’t know how authentic they were. Then again, we weren’t going for authentic!)
1 large bunch of watercress, cleaned

On a flat top griddle or your largest sauté pan grill the onions, with the oil until browned and set aside. Open up roll and heat on grill, place raw steak on another part of grill, season with salt and pepper and brown and break apart steak pieces, cook evenly to about medium, incorporate onions. Make a mound the same size as the bread, place cheese on the steak. Place the heated roll on the meat and cheese and onion, and when melted, slide griddle spatula under the steak turn over, garnish with watercress and enjoy.

Makes four sandwiches


Don't forget about The (First) Really Big Cookoff! Where everyone makes the same recipe and compares. Good fun all around!

The History of Ice Cream in Philadelphia

Review of Alma de Cuba from Zagats “It would take another revolution for Havana to look and taste” like this “Alma-zing” Center City Nuevo Latino from Stephen Starr and Douglas Rodriguez (Patria); nine-to-fivers sip “incredible” mojitos in the “sexy” first-floor lounge while “gawking”, not “talking”; upstairs in the “modern”, “stark” dining room, “bursting-with-flavor” food “makes you want más”; still, critics counsel “bring night-vision goggles” to find your date in the “darkness” and mutter “Fidel had a point” when they see the check; N.B. dinner only.

The Cheez Whiz website is a total let down. I'm guessing, Cheez Whiz fans don’t have internet access. (Oops. Did I say that?)

Friday, August 12, 2005


The (First) Really Big Cook-Off

Whoo-eee its time kids! Time for The Really Big Cook-Off. (Yes, that name was offered up by Charlie, and frankly, since I think I owe him one, the dubious honor of having named this event is his to cherish. On the other hand, I want my 10 quart stock pot back buddy. I don’t care where you claim it’s gone.)

So here is how it is going down my friends. Each month, check back here for a new and exciting recipe which we will all, in a sort of global-oneness kinda way, (Can I get an OM?) make at the same time. It may be something as basic as “Your best spaghetti sauce,” “The cover recipe from Gourmet,” a recipe to try a new ingredient, or even something fab from one of your sites! Who knows. I’m 100% flexible, and suggestions are always welcome.

The rules are as follows: The recipe will be announced on the second to last Friday morning of the month (Pacific time) and you will have one week (seven days) to make it, then email your entry to Blog or no blog, all entries will be accepted (if you don’t have a blog, please consider starting one, because we would love to hear from you, but if you really don’t have the time, I will post your entry here.)and a round up will be posted by the next Wednesday. Then, you will have the chance to comment, complain, boast or just commune with other people on a common meal. What worked, what didn’t, what you liked about it, what you didn’t. Sounds like fun, right? There are no winners or losers either, just a good time to be had by all.

In the interest of having as many people as possible enter, I will strive to have all of the recipes use easy to find ingredients, (or offer suggestions for substitutes) with nothing overly seasonal, for people in other hemispheres (Moment to pause. How cool is it that someone in Australia is reading this! Rockin! For that matter, it’s cool someone in Akron is reading this. Of course, if I keep babbling off subject, no one will be reading this, so let me get back to it.) The recipes will always be (what I judge to be) easy to medium difficulty, and will never (if it can be helped) require any specialized equipment (which is why I am avoiding including grilling and baked goods. Fluted tart pans and hibachis are specialized.)just things most cooks have at home. I will also avoid (to the best of my ability) dishes that may not photograph well. So please consider oatmeal and grits off the list.

The fun part is seeing how the dish is interpreted. Did you follow the recipe exactly? (I hope someone will!) How did you fancy it up? What did you add, substitute or take away, and why? Did you add a regional flair? We want to hear (and see) it all. I am a chef instructor (for those of you who don’t read my blog regularly) and am always super excited when people challenge themselves to try a new dish. I am also constantly amazed at how people build on something to make it their own, and I look forward to seeing what you all do.

And now, with no further ado, I present our first recipe, Ravioli with Potato, Watercress and Cheese. This recipe, by Jamie Oliver was printed with no permission whatsoever. It was chosen for (incredibly cheeky) reasons I will discuss after everyone makes the dish. (Heh, heh.) I know making ravioli will be a challenge for some of you, but that is sort of the idea. Try something new! Please have your recipe in by August 19th!

As for the ingredients, watercress should be easy to find, but any bitter green can be substituted.

Thanks SO much (in advance) to everyone for participating, I can’t wait to see the results!

Ravioli with Potato, Watercress and Cheese
Serves 4-6
(My thoughts are italicized)

Make a point of using 2 delicious, contrasting cheeses, for example a strong cheese like Gorgonzola or a creamy taleggio and a hard cheese such as pecorino or Parmesan.

6 sheets fresh pasta (cut out into 36 circles or squares, or use 36 wonton wrappers)
2 pounds all-purpose potatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
4 or 5 good handfuls watercress, large stalks removed, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup butter
10 - 12 oz. cheese, extra for garnish
Grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash and peel the potatoes, put them into well-salted, boiling water with the garlic and cook until the potatoes are just tender (it is very important not to under- or overcook them). Drain them and let them sit for about 5 minutes to enable the excess water to evaporate (if you overcook them or don't drain them correctly they'll be too moist and your filling will be too wet).

When the potatoes have cooled slightly add your butter and your chosen cheeses. Stir and mash with a fork to mix and break the potatoes up (I like to leave the mixture slightly chunky). Add the nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Stir in the watercress, half finely chopped and the rest coarsely chopped.

Place a good heaped teaspoon of this mixture onto the lower half of each of the pasta squares (or circles). To seal, wet the inside edge with a little water or egg wash, fold over and presssing down to seal completely. Cook in boiling salted water, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes, until tender. The ravioli will float when done.

Serve with some extra olive oil or butter, some more of your chosen cheese grated over the top and some torn watercress.Season to taste and serve.


Technorati Tags:

Jamie Oliver’s television program Jamie’s Kitchen airs in 30 countries. Oliver’s Twist airs in 41. They are both produced by Fresh One Productions (owned by Oliver)

Link to a
great article on Jamie Oliver, chef, and man with “a notorious love of swearing”

“He’s so much the flavour of the month that one in every 100 books being sold in the UK is a Jamie Oliver cookbook.” –Manchester Online (2001)

Here, Clarissa Dickson Wright (one of the Two Fat Ladies) accuses Jamie Oliver of 'selling his soul' over his endorsement of controversial salmon farm.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been forced to put his North London home on the market, saying he was fed up with people stumbling from the local boozer, ringing the door bell and shouting; “hey Jamie cook us a bacon sarnie.” Daily Star 25/10/2004

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Chiles, Peaches, Flowers & Charlie - A Recipe for Fun

Sometimes life just gets too hilarious for me to handle. This week for instance, has been a long series of calamities, hijinx and mishaps that only make me shake my head in wonder. And most of it was caused by Charlie.

We all have a friend like Charlie, don’t we? That guy who ate paste as a child and now is willing to try pretty much anything the sushi master puts on his plate. That guy who meets up with a Colin Farrell type at a bar and then has to ditch him because “He's not very cool. And besides, the guy only parties at 80%.” (Which is actually a true story and a real quote. Eek.)

I mean, I really wanted to take part in this months Paper Chef, it just happens that Charlie is staying with me (its always nice to have an attorney in-house, when you are drinking like mad and not sure how you got into a limo, let alone who’s paying for it, don’t you think?) and ate the ingredients before I could cook with them. And then when I went and bought more peaches, more chipotles, more jumbo shrimp, more queso fresco, more freshly made (local!) corn tortillas, more epazote (yes kids, he ate the epazote) and more yellow tear drop tomatoes, (through the haze he couldn’t figure out a way to devour the orange blossom honey I suppose) he surprised me with dinner, and it wasn’t exactly, um, edible. (It was a stir fry of sorts) Or photogenic. Sigh.

But since he is a dear man, a world champion friend, (can you hear the air in the room being sucked up?) and he really had the best of intentions, I gave up, and with his encouragment, (every step of the way) made cocktails.

We tried layering them at first…peach nectar (fresh made from a local taqueria), then hibiscus and rose-hip iced tea and a floater of chile infused tequila (which, tragically, and possibly, really bad for our livers, a bottle of which we demolished, literally and figuratively. What can I say, it was a festive evening) which was tasty as can be but too murky to be photographed, so please accept my entry for Paper Bartender…Peach Nectar (with rum) Hibiscus Tea (with vodka) and Chile-Tequila Shooters. (The garnish on the plate in the photo are dried hibiscus and rose hips)

I know, its beyond creative, no need to point that out. I am humbled in my own presence with this amazing beverage (it was actually kind of tasty. I suggest going easy on any two of the three ingredients so as not to overpower the others, should you dare concoct this on your own…for no apparent reason)

Charlie also wants me to include this information: “Hey. So whatever you do, don’t try this as a flaming cocktail, fire and booze should be left to the professionals.”

I'm off for some much needed detox. Tomorrow, back to food.


Epazote - An herb well-known to Mexican and Caribbean cooking. The name comes from the Aztec (Nahuatl) epazotl. It is also known as pigweed or Mexican tea and is frequently regarded as a garden pest. Much like cilantro, it is referred to as an "acquired taste". The herb is quite pungent and some say it smells like gasoline or kerosene.

Early morning yellow flowers.
Thinking about the drunkards
of Mexico.
-Jack Kerouac

Tuesday, August 09, 2005



Deep happiness. I went and had a fantastic al fresco lunch with my most intriguing friend, the amazing E. yesterday. He is such a good (lookin') guy, and boy does he know his food. Whenever we get together it is a non stop foodie-frenzy. I love how he challenges me to explain the why behind everything I love (food and otherwise. Hee hee) and insists I stop saying chic or fab to describe things. (What can I say, its a turn of words that I overuse for sure)

I always want to do something really special for him (to thank him for the outrageously expensive lunch!) and since he always requests it, I made him these biscotti, that he gave me the recipe for, but never seems to have the time to bake for himself (he may be a foodie, but he doesnt have a lot of time for baking) And they really are just too outrageously divine.

In keeping with the theme of saying what I mean without using little catch phrases, I will elaborate and say that these are great because they are a perfectly crunchy cookie, the butter makes them, how can I say this? Not so dry. The anise is hard to identify, it is there for sure, but doesn't dominate, balancing with the lemon and the almonds which create texture and a deeper taste. All that and they are simple to make. Just mix shape and bake. And if you have never had a biscotti before the crucial second baking (what makes them so crisp) this is a great chance to nibble on that too. Try this recipe, and enjoy!

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
9 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole aniseed
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat your to 350°F.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Grind your anise in a spice grinder and all to the sugar, melted butter, eggs and lemon zest in another bowl. Combine the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir until well blended, then gently mix in almonds. Cover and chill for 15 minutes if your kitchen is warm.

Shape the dough into two long flat rectangles. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake until golden, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat (leaving oven on) and allow to cool completely (about 30 minutes).

Using a bread knife, slice the biscotti on the diagonal. Place back onto a fresh piece of parchment and rebake for another 10 minutes (turn over once to brown both sides). Remove and cool.

If you want, dip one side of the biscotti in melted chocolate when cooled.

Makes about 40 biscotti.


GOOD & PLENTY candy was first produced by the Quaker City Confectionery Company in Philadelphia in 1893 and is the oldest branded candy in the United States.

Red Vines Candy Tour (Red Vines Road Trip) will be in Detroit this weekend
Saturday, August 13
10:00 AM - 1:30 PM

130000 Middlebelt Road

This is my first attempt at tags, sorry if it seems awkward!;;


Friday, August 05, 2005


Just Here To Help

I saw this on Craigslist (I just love me that Craiglist!) and thought I would pass along the info to all you cooks/chefs who crave your very own slice of the TV spotlight. Of course, they explicitly say this post can not be reposted elsewhere, but hey, I'm a risk taker, what can I say! (I should also note, that I was unable to find a link to this anywhere on
Bravo's website....curious, don't you agree?)

If you get on the show and win, don't forget to thank me! :-)

Bravo needs "Top Chefs" ASAP!
Reply to:
Date: 2005-08-04, 1:09PM PDT


The Emmy-Nominated Producers of
are launching the search for the world’s next top chef!

Bravo will give a group of talented chefs the opportunity to show America their talent and creativity, and become a star of the culinary world as they vie to become the next “TOP CHEF.”

We are looking for trained and self-taught professional chefs as well as non-professional cooks. You do not need years of experience but you do need to be creative, highly skilled and ready to compete.


To schedule an interview and to find out more information about this show, please email with a picture and resume of your past experience.
or go to BRAVOTV.COM to find out how to submit a home tape.

In addition:
-you must be 18 years of age or older
-you must be a legal resident of the U.S.
-neither you nor anyone in your household can be an employee or NBC or Bravo.

Job location is Los Angeles
Compensation: HUGE cash and prizes!!!


If that doesn't fit into your schedule, maybe a trip here will:

August 5
56th annual Rotary Crab Feast
Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, Annapolis, MD
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
All-you-can-eat jumbo crabs, Maryland crab soup, corn on the cob, beef barbecue, soda, beer, silent auction and crab souvenirs. Admission

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Spotted Dick

I just had to put this up. I mean, come on. If you are not British, (IE, you are North American) this should make you giggle. (I only say North American, because I don't know if that is funny world wide, but here, well, it is.)

I may not be as adventurous as Steve, but for me, this was a little bit of culinary exploration. When I saw it in the market, I just had to buy it and do a taste test! (It was $6.00 at The Mayfair Market and I guess, could serve three or four not so hungry people) The bonus is that the empty can is a great mold too! Whoo-eeee.

So get this, despite the name, Spotted Dick is a Nursery Pudding. The origin of the name is pretty much unknown (there are theories but no really proof) In Brit speak, that means, its a dessert children are served. It is also traditionally made with sultanas and suet. Mmm. Nothing says sweetness like suet. The canned version was vegetarian (something I tend to look for in a dessert product.) but you can substitute butter when the mood strikes you to whip one up.

It really is a can of convenience cake that you boil (the whole can) in water for 30 minutes then open and eat warm. I liked it a lot actually. The spots are raisins and the cake has a spicy-sweetness that I thought was really quite tasty, (seemed to be flavored with golden syrup and cloves) but, whoa bessy, was it dry. Experts in this treat tell me it should really have been served with toffee sauce, or custard (which is what English speaking North Americans call pudding. Extra confusing, I'm sure). Oh well. For a cake-in-a-can-with-a-hilarious-name it fit the fun-time bill to a tee. Dessert oddness indeed. If you see it on your grocers shelf, I do suggest you grab yourself a can and indulge.


Suet is raw beef or mutton fat, especially that found around the loins and kidneys. It is a solid at room temperature, and melts at about 21°C (70°F). It is a saturated fat.

What is the significance of "57"?
The Heinz 57 Varieties slogan is synonymous with the name "Heinz." Our corporate history tells us that in 1896, Henry John Heinz noticed an advertisement for "21 styles of shoes." He decided that his own products were not styles, but varieties. Although there were many more than 57 foods in production at the time, because the numbers "5" and "7" held a special significance for him and his wife, he adopted the slogan "57 Varieties." Thus, a new advertising campaign was launched for Heinz 57 Varieties — and the rest is history! - From

I read Spotted Dick Sil Vous Plait, a few years ago, and liked it. Maybe you will too!


Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Salad Nicoise

Isn't summer just too wonderful? (I know, its like a recurring theme with me. I just am a fan, what can I say)

Last night, it was absolutely sultry, the sky above Los Angeles was clear, the lights of the city were twinkling, and my guests were telling such funny stories, we almost weren't able to eat for laughing so hard (isn't that the best thing in life?)

I had invited a select few of my glittering friends over for an early evening soiree (byo wine) but didn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen since I hadn't seen so many of them in so long! I even got all the ingredients in a one stop shop at one of my all time favorite grocery stores, the fantastic, family-owned neighborhood favorite, San Vicente Foods (on San Vicente in Brentwood) I was so relaxed about the whole endeavor, I didn't even have a plan when I got there. I just knew I wanted something light and delicious. Which is how I ended up making this incredible seafood nicoise salad. It has lots of great summer ingredients, doesn't require much cooking, and can be made ahead since it is served cold. A dream come true.

Nicoise means (I think anyway) from the city of Nice (pronounced Neice) in southern France (Sigh) and this salad is pretty ubiquitous there. I could eat it every day. The idea is that it is composed, meaning not tossed, but if you want to toss it, go right ahead. Either way, it is perfection. Try it, and enjoy!

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon style mustard

lots of fresh cracked pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon and basil

4 small tuna steaks

1 pound medium sized shrimp (shelled and cleaned)

2 large eggs
1 large head bibb lettuce, leaves washed and leaves separated

12 small red potatoes

1/2 pound blue lake green beans, trimmed

1 pint (pint? thats what they have at the self serve olive bar, right?) marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 pint black nicoise olives (with pits is classic, if you want to pit them, do it yourself, don't buy them pre-pitted, they will have less flavor)
2 vine ripe tomatoes (I didn't have any. Whoops. I ate them all as I was making the salad), cut into wedges

1/2 red onion sliced thin (this is not classic, but I like it)

Arrange the shrimp and tuna in a single layer in a shallow dish.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk lightly. Pour enough of it over the seafood to coat. Reserve the rest to dress the salad. Now you can broil, grill or (hey, its what I did!) Lean-Mean-Grilling-Machine until the shrimp are just cooked and the tuna is seared.

While you are grilling, hard boil the eggs. Remove, shell and cut into quarters

Add the potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. (Remember, when boiling, if it starts underground, its starts under water) after about 8 minutes, add the green beans, and continue to cook for 4 more minutes or until the beans and potatoes are cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into quarters.

Arrange the salad by putting on each item on the plate in a little pile.

Serve the dressing on the side.

Makes four dinner sized salads. ______________________________________________________

In July, Takeru Kobayashi 27, ate 49 hot dogs in 12 minutes to win the Nathans famous hot dog contest in NY

Bean can be used as a near synonym of (The rhythmic contraction and expansion of the arteries with each beat of the heart) pulse, i.e. an edible (An erect or climbing bean or pea plant of the family Leguminosae) legume, though the term "pulses" is usually reserved for those leguminous crops which are harvested for their dry grain.

The record for egg laying in domestic chickens is held by a Black Orpington which laid 861 eggs in 864 days.

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Monday, August 01, 2005


A Food Blog Event? Cool!

Hey there cats and kittens.

I have a wacky idea for an online food event, and I invite all of you to participate!

It's super simple. Every month, a new recipe will be announced and you will have 7 days to make it. The recipe will be chosen based on suggestions from readers. (Rules to be explained more in depth when the first recipe is announced/when I think of some)

The dish will be something reasonably simple but interesting, that doesn't involve baking or any specialized equipment (and yes, a grill is specialized) And we will skip all recipes that call for esoteric ingredients like fennel pollen, temple rice and/or loquats, so everyone around the world can join in.

Then, everyone will make the SAME THING. Yup. That's the idea. Have everyone make the same dish, following a recipe as exactly as you want, or getting all kinds of fancy, then submitting your photo of the completed dish (with any changes, or just noting you followed it exactly) for a fun look at how one recipe can be interpreted in a million different ways. (And the whole shebang will have a great name too! As soon as I think of one...SUGGESTIONS WELCOME.)

There will be no judging, just a monthly round up, and hopefully, a lively discussion on what makes a recipe work. The event can be hosted by others too...all you have to do is ask!

If this sounds fun to you, suggest a dish and come back here on August 12th for the announcement of the first recipe!


How great is this? In an attempt to reduce problems with drunk driving, 30 states now allow restaurants to give open bottles of wine to go (you know, if you didn't finish it during your meal. They don't want you to feel compelled to drink it all just because you can't take it home. Heaven knows I've been known to do that. Blush.) Of course, the open bottle must travel home with you in the trunk of your car per state open container laws. Participation by restaurants is voluntary. To find out if this is legal in your state (it is in NY, TX, VA and AZ for sure) check with your local Alcoholic-Beverage-Control (ABC) - Info from Real Simple

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