There’s a new cake in town. Actually, it’s a whole boutique full of cake and it’s here to stay! Lady M, the glorious cake boutique with three locations in New York City opened in LA last August, quietly without much fanfare but with a line out the door. It seems word spread fast among cake connoisseurs.
Coming upon it by accident while taking my daughter, in from NYC, to AOC for lunch, my daughter informed me that although I was at the wrong valet parking spot for AOC, I might be at the right parking spot after all.
“Parking for AOC is half a block up, Mom, but if the Lady M on that valet sign is the same as the one in NY, we’re skipping lunch and going straight to dessert.”
“Hmmm , that good?”
“Seriously ridiculous.” (Her highest compliment).
Since we’re both over 21, I figured we we’re old enough to go straight to the good stuff.
What used to be a quiet street is now where it's at. Where there was nothing, there are heady times. It's a place your very own New Jersey food-wise cousins pick from online reviews. It's fun. It's affordable. It's a big deal with something for everyone. Finally.
We're talking three deep at the bar Friday and Saturday and reservations all week. A din to make Gunga deaf. Our first visit comes after an interminable Urban Nutcracker. What nails it for us: they have tastes of wine.
Barcelona's taste is half a glass and this is after the sips they bring first so you can pick a taste. We choose a Viognier from Argentina and white Rioja from Spain. The Viognier is fruity and the Rioja is um, boring, but not as boring as the Nutcracker. There is beer and there are cocktails and there is wine by the glass.
Julie is having carrot salad with arugula and avocado. It's light and filling and if they make this in Spain, authentic. It's not on the menu now but there are others: kale with anchovies; greens with goat cheese and raisins; raddichio with raisins; shaved mushrooms with celery and mustard; plus ensalada with onion and no raisins.
With Easter just passed, who isn't thinking about eggs? When I was a kid I loved dyeing and decorating eggs. But instead of using hard boiled eggs, I thought it was infinitely cooler to de-egg my Easter eggs.
I remember using one of my mother's sewing needles to punch holes on either end of the uncooked egg. Putting my mouth against the egg, I'd huff-and-puff and blow until the raw egg dropped into a bowl.
Admittedly that was a lot of extra work and there were risks. Making the holes and blowing into the egg could crack the shell. Worse, all that huffing-and-puffing sometimes led to hyper-ventilating, so my mother kept an eye on me, just in case I got dizzy and fell off the chair.
In my child's mind, that extra effort was worth it because the feather-weight shells, brightly dyed and covered with decals, were so much more artful than the heavy hard boiled eggs.
The day after Easter I always find myself with a huge pot of leftover ham stock. In my family we traditionally eat boiled ham and eggs for the holiday. It's a very simple meal that I look forward to every year. I love hard-boiled eggs, so Easter has always been a favorite time of year, because I get to eat all the foods I love, including chocolate. But what to do with all the leftover ham stock? My mom typically makes ham and bean soup, but in the past few years I've started my own tradition of making ham and split pea soup.
Since we're already enjoying spring with the suddenly warm weather, it might seem out of place to be making soup. But actually this in-between brisk weather has me craving a soup like this. Fresh peas will be in season soon, but until then split peas are a wonderful substitute. The ham stock is immensely flavorful and works well in this soup. You could also use chicken or vegetable stock. If you have leftover ham, cube it and add it to the soup near the end of cooking time.
Enjoy this Easter leftover soup!
Cooking and eating more sustainably doesn't require that you rethink your entire life. Here are some simple things you can do to get started.
Start canning some of your own pickles and jams when fruits and vegetables are at the peak of season. It will be cheaper than buying store-bought, and likely the quality will be better as well.
Grow your own — either plant vegetables in raised beds in the yard or even just put some herbs in pots on a sunny kitchen windowsill.
Eat lower on the food chain — take advantage of the whole animal by using off-cuts of meat that others might pass up, such as beef shanks or lamb's necks, and try cooking the less popular small, oily fish, such as mackerel and sardines that don't extract such an environmental cost compared with high-end fish such as salmon.
Meatless Monday. Even in the best circumstances, raising meat takes a toll. Make this change only one day a week and you probably won't even notice.
Just in time for Earth Day, we've discoverd two absolutely cute and cost-cutting ways you can help eliminate waste and save the planet.
We all spend a lot of money on plastic wrap and aluminum foil, but let's face it...these items are filling up landfills! Plus they are pricey too. Now you can ditch the plastic/ aluminum foil and give your fruits and veggies a hug that does the same job! Food Huggers is a brand new food gadget that simply slips onto the unused portions of your fruits and veggies.
Food Huggers are silicone covers, and they can prolong the life of your produce by providing a seal around your unused portions. A set of four Food Huggers is around $19 and they last for years. They even make one for our favorite fruit/vegatable - avocados! You can purchase them at www.foodhuggers.com
LOO HOO WOOL DRYER BALLS
Who said laundry can’t be fun? LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls are colorful, reusable dryer balls that reduce drying time (by 25 percent) and soften laundry naturally! LooHoos lift and separate clothes creating a constant motion that allows more air to circulate around your wet laundry so it dries faster. Made of lanolin-rich wool, about the size of a baseball, these dryer balls can be used for years and the hues will never transfer onto your clothes. The wool fibers absorb static cling, and an added bonus, wool absorbs odors too… so no more stinky socks!
Unlike many commercial dryer sheets, LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls are all-natural and contain no harmful chemicals or toxins, making them ideal to use with all laundry including delicate garments such as baby clothes and cloth diapers. Sold individually, or in sets of three. Save money by not spending your extra cash on commercial dryer sheets... LooHoos will last for months! www.loo-hoo.com Retail price point starts at $24.
If I say, "She's so granola," you know exactly what I mean -- she's a tree-hugging, free-spirited, hemp-wearing woman with long graying hair who wears her well-worn Birkenstocks to walk to the local co-op where she buys only fair-trade goods.
Does that mean that a short-haired, Anthrolpologie-wearing, Cosmo-drinking girl with a 401K like me can't be "granola"? Cause I eat a lot of it.
I don't buy it at the local co-op; I make my own, while wearing high heels. Making homemade granola is easy and allows you to control the fat, sugar, and calorie content. It's also less expensive. Don't pay $5.00/pound for pre-made granola when you can buy oats for 79 cents a pound.
My current favorite is Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola, a hearty maple-coated granola loaded with clusters of sticky walnuts and coconut, crisp banana chips, and tart cherries. I know it's expensive, but you have to use pure maple syrup.
Recently someone said to me, "You're so Mad Men in that dress." Hah. Little do they know I'm so granola.
I’ve spent most of my life turning up my nose at mushrooms. That all changed last summer when I discovered the sublime flavor of chanterelle mushrooms plucked fresh from the forest floor and sauteed in butter with garden-fresh sage leaves. I blogged about my foraging experience in Duluth with Dick Ojakangas last summer. Beatrice Ojakangas immediately transformed our chanterelle harvest into a luscious appetizer.
That foraging experience was followed by my weekend at Mushroom Camp. After that, a visit to Dallas Flynn’s farm in Frazee, Minnesota. He sent me home with some of the shiitake mushrooms he raises. Those beauties went into a pasta dish. I became hooked on mushrooms.
On this Earth Day weekend, I’m making Mushroom Crostini. Buttery cremini mushrooms or creamy and light shiitakes are both good choices for this appetizer or snack. It’s so easy to make.
First, toast some baguette slices. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil. I toast them in a grill pan. When the weather is nice, use your outdoor grill.
I haven’t had homemade cookies in the house for a while. My only explanation is…I eat too many of them. I can’t help it. They caaaalllll to me from their tupperware prison. I’m not making this up.
So I wanted to inject a little bit of health into what I know will turn into a feeding frenzy of cookie love. But before I go on, have I told you all that Kashi Go Lean is my absolute favorite cereal (no one is paying me to say that)? I have loved it forever. I don’t like the crunch one, it’s too sweet for me. But the Go Lean…I love. And here’s the thing, it really is a super-healthy cereal. A crazy amount of protein and fiber in every serving with barely any sugar. Now, if i would just stop enjoying it with whole milk it would be perfect.
Funny thing is, I don’t eat cereal for breakfast. I eat eggs. But I often have Kashi Go Lean as an afternoon snack. It’s satisfying. I even use it in my vanilla Greek yogurt instead of granola. It has the perfect crunch and is far less in calories.
So, I usually use 4 cups of chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies. With these I halved my chips and used two cups of Kashi Go Lean instead. My kids said they were one of the best cookies I had ever made. Please know they do not like dark chocolate or healthy cereal. So wow, I certainly surprised them.
This is what spring looks like. Truly. So why not make a dish that takes the best of those green, grassy, sweet flavors, adds garlic, great olive oil and a hit of salt and serve it up in one dish? The subtle beauty of all these colors of green tangled together help us understand the idea of renewal inherent in the spring holiday celebrations of Easter or Passover.
In Italy it’s called cianfotta, the all purpose dish that changes with the seasons as new vegetables appear and leave the markets. This saute is one of my master recipes. Serve it as a side dish. Or to make it a bit more substantial for vegetarians add a handful of toasted pine nuts or almonds. For a one course dinner add nuts and a bit of soft or aged goat cheese.
This recipe is a template. You can add sliced and trimmed baby artichokes or fava beans. You may omit the mint or use onions instead of leeks. Some folks leave out the lettuce. It’s up to you.
Over 10 years ago, my friend Karen offered to bring a spinach salad to one of our many Sunday night, 5 family dinners. Being the gracious hostess that I was, I gleefully said of course. Then I thought spinach salad, big whoop. Not so exciting, right? Wrong!
Spinach is spinach. It’s great in a baked pasta, sauteed with garlic, tossed in a big pot of lentil soup or eaten on a sandwich instead of lettuce. But spinach tossed with a dressing so out of the ordinary is addicting. The dressing is the perfect balance of savory and sweet therefore the “accessories” that are thrown in with the spinach is what makes this salad a winner.
A few years back, Karen picked up and moved her family back to Florida. But, she left her recipe and all of our great memories behind.
by Amy Ephron
My dad wasn’t much of a cook! He even burned the bacon. His idea of making baked beans was to put them in a pan of boiling water – in the can with the top still on. This might actually work, although the only time I remember him doing it, he forgot about them, the water boiled down, the can exploded (EXPLODED!!!), luckily no one was in the...Read more...
by Susan Salzman
Growing up, we spent the month of August at a tennis resort near La Jolla, California. For me, it was like going to camp each year. The same families came back year after year and our days were filled with lots of tennis, stealing golf carts, movie night, and lunch at the “club house”. As a young child, sitting in the club house with my...Read more...
by Amy Sherman
Would you like to know the secrets to great grilled cheese sandwiches? Heidi Gibson, the Commander-in-Cheese of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is a serious grilled cheese champ. She has won more grilled cheese sandwich contests than anyone. Last night I learned from Gibson how to make breakfast and brunch versions of grilled cheese...Read more...
Spring Begins at Descanso Gardens
by Lisa Dinsmore