Everyone has a side of the bed. At least I think they do. I always sleep on the right side by the windows, just in case I want to make a quick exit. (Kidding.) Most people, I think, have a dedicated place at the table. We don’t really. We tend to move around, a product of our lifestyle; the view; the sort of loft-like nature of our house; who happens to be at the dinner table. One or the other of us might say, “I want to sit here.” Or one of the children, “Wait a minute, that’s MY place.” And then a shuffle occurs and we all reorder ourselves.
I also don’t believe in the rule that couples should be separated at a dinner party. Sometimes couples should be allowed to sit next to each other (and sometimes not...) depending on the make-up of the dinner party. Inevitably someone protests one rule or another – “I want to sit next to him,” or someone else will say, “Couples should be separated, I can’t help it that I feel that way, I’m British.” If there are only six of you at dinner, it doesn’t make that much difference, anyway. I sometimes wish we had a dining room that accommodated a round table. We don’t. We have a long thin dining room with a slanted ceiling (higher on one side than the other), windows only on one side and not the length-wise side, that one of my nephews refers to as “The Mafia Room.” I’m not sure why.
The backstory on the three ambitious, talented men that created Barolo Joe, a catering company and dinner club, is that they all work in the “business,” meaning food. Such a breath of fresh Southern California air – they’re not peddling scripts. The driving force behind it, Joseph Baker, originally from Vancouver, made friends with Abraham Lukaczer, born and raised in Seattle, about ten years ago. Then, through Tar and Roses, they met and pitched their idea to a third partner, Eric Grant, born and raised in Maine, who had been touring with a band for years, but had also done stints in food in San Francisco and Nantucket. These three food and wine enthusiasts teamed up. Barolo Joe was born.
Serendipity is my middle name.
All right, not legally. I don’t have a middle name. My parents were too lazy to give me one. But I do have many serendipitous moments. I had a big one a few weeks ago. Huge. I’m sitting at my favorite restaurant -- at least it’s my favorite when they keep balsamic glazed ribs on the menu.
Digression. This happens to me a lot, so I’m pretty certain it’s a plot: when I love something on a menu, the restaurant invariably removes it. Tar & Roses in Santa Monica will usually have the ribs, but then they won’t. Once, when they took it off the menu, I freaked out. They put it back -- briefly -– then scratched it one more time -- and now it’s back. Finally, I can safely order my favorite dish whenever I want. I probably just jinxed it.
So... I sit down at the bar one night -– not a table -- because I was being spontaneous and forgot to book a proper reservation.
Butter and white wine…already you know this is good! Literally the French term for “white butter,” a buerre blanc is a traditional sauce with simple ingredients. Quite elegant and versatile for many dishes and full of garden flavors, this beurre blanc can become a backbone for your garden living lifestyle.
Brown an onion in some olive oil. Salt and pepper for flavor and then add garlic once the onion begins to caramelize. This is the background and foundation of your sauce, for the caramelized bits of onion and garlic are the keepers of amazing flavor. The wine will deglaze the pan, releasing the browned goodness of the onion cousins. Allow the wine to come to a simmer and reduce by a third. This step, reducing the wine, intensifies the flavor of the wine, concentrating the bouquet and natural essence of the wine. Tossing in a couple bay leaves awakens the sauce and steeps their flavor in the wine reduction.
Now for the namesake - butter. Add the cubed butter in shifts, whisking the butter into the sauce and allowing it to thoroughly melt it. Once the butter has thoroughly melted into the wine, the smooth sauce can now be livened up even more with some fresh lemon juice and zest.
There's a place in New Jersey where you can have a New York milkshake with your sushi. Seriously. Baumgart's Café, name aside, is Asian with a quirky edge. I spent hours on their menu and I have to say that you can get anything. There's ice cream, of course, because they started as a soda fountain, but then the fun begins with sesame chicken, pastrami, gazpacho, duck crêpes, fries, salads, wraps, pot pies, an entire sushi menu, all your Chinese favorites, omelets, cappuccino, key lime pie, smoothies, egg creams and root beer floats. Those egg creams say we're not in Kansas. Where we are is across the Hudson in Edgewater.
We're zooming to dinner, as much as anyone gets to zoom which is not very much and certainly not in a New York minute. And not when your GPS lady freezes; I don't know why she freaked as soon as I crossed into New York. From Baumgart's patio, I stare longingly at the Upper West Side, the Empire State Building and all the snazzy real estate since the last time I was here. We love Manhattan even from afar but not too far.
SEPTEMBER 20th - L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade
Wilson Plaza at UCLA from 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Decadent and delicious, L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade brings superstar chefs and mixologists from across the country to Los Angeles to lend their support to ALSF and the fight against childhood cancer. Join us!
Each chef and mixologist prepares a signature dish for guests to sample. Guests have the opportunity to taste incredible fare and meet and even chat with the chefs who prepared it.
The leisurely, fun afternoon of sampling food and drink is interspersed with inspiring childhood cancer hero stories, updates on the Foundation’s quest to find a cure and a silent and live auction of spectacular items, including James Beard Award-wining chefs offering to work their magic in the bidders’ kitchens.
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
September 21st - Heirloom Tomato Festival
At Windrose Farm in Paso Robles, CA
Come for a traditional Heirloom Tomato Tasting of over 40 varieties, stay for the local chef’s and venders that will be preparing bites of their favorite recipes using Windrose Farm’s tomatoes and tasty produce. Art inspired by the Farm will be on display and for sale benefiting the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation. The Farm Stand will be open & selling much of the flavorful fare you will be grazing on throughout the afternoon. Tickets are $35.
Gates Open at 1:30pm / Festival Hours: 2pm - 6pm
Click HERE to purchase tickets.
My love of pasta is no secret, but I’m cutting back. An article in the New York Times covering the latest research about the benefit of low carbohydrate diets has me rethinking my noodle consumption. I won’t give them up completely but now and again I can see trying something different. Something like zucchini noodles.
For a long time I’ve wanted one of those spiralizer type tools. But they are rather expensive and I just wasn’t sure how much use I’d get out of them. There is actually an easy way to make “noodles” out of zucchini or other vegetables using a box grater. You just lay the grater on its side like a mandoline! But I’ve just recently tried out the Microplane spiral cutter and it’s an even better option. At $14.95 it’s a lot less expensive than some of the other tools and takes up very little space. It also has two sizes so you can shred larger or smaller vegetables.
The downside to using this gadget is that it takes some time to get used to it, and to figure out how much pressure to exert to get the thickness of noodles you like. It also leaves a little stubby core of the vegetable. But it’s relatively easy to use and clean once you get the hang of it.
I do my marketing on Friday’s. Sunday’s I load up on fruits and veggies at a local farmers market. By the time Saturday roles around, whatever is left in my vegetable bin isn’t so pretty. Inevitably, these items end up in a soup or a salsa or something random.
Cleaning out the vegetable bin (to make room for the newest and the freshest) left me with a few string beans, broccoli, left over roasted cauliflower, sauteed leeks (I keep sauteed leeks on hand to put in weekday morning eggs), about 1/2 cup of cooked lentils (leftovers from a previous meal), a carrot, a few stocks of celery, and a minced shallot.
A pot of soup was whipped up in less than 45 minutes and it was the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch. It is always so gratifying when I can create a healthy, whole meal without a plan or a recipe.
Soup, unlike baking, does not have to be exact. It’s not a science. Check your provisions, be creative, chop away, and make a double batch!
Oscar Wilde said, "I can resist everything but temptation." I think he had fresh figs in mind when he said that.
Consider this: Yesterday morning at the Hillcrest farmers' market, I spotted close to a dozen people eating fresh figs as they shopped. That's because everything about fresh figs is irresistible -- their pleasingly plump stature, their velvet skin splitting with ripeness, their ambrosial pink flesh.
Despite fresh figs' high price tag, usually $4-6 per pound, San Diego shoppers couldn't get enough of them, including me. I also can't get enough of these simple, no-bake Greek Yogurt, Fresh Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits. This dessert proves that opposites attract -- sweet figs and tart black currants, syrupy honey and spicy cinnamon, and earthy rosemary and tangy lemon zest are enfolded in luscious, creamy Greek yogurt.
I just know Oscar Wilde wouldn't have been able to resist them either.
Plump, sweet, and juicy—these are the best-tasting plums. Late summer brings with it all the different types of plums—colors of white, black, red and shapes of round and oval. There are too many varieties to list here. And don't forget pluots, a cross between plums and apricots. I love to eat them fresh—and you know they're good when the juices run down your arm. But as you've seen by reading here, I also adore plums in simple, homey desserts.
Instead of the typical preparation, these plums are grilled. Grilling fruit is not a typical technique, but it's great for bringing out the flavor of fruit, especially when it's a bit underripe. Imagine pineapple slices, peaches, or nectarines on the grill. These fruits nicely caramelize, especially when they're brushed with a sugar mixture. And what goes better with warm fruit than ice cream? This is a dessert to savor spoonful by spoonful.
With just three ingredients, this recipe is almost a nonrecipe. Brush the plum halves with a mixture of sugar and butter that caramelizes on the grill. Serve with ice cream, like my lavender-crème fraîche ice cream, which lends a unique flavor to the dessert. Take the opportunity to grill some fruit before summer ends!
Did you grow up with lots of muffins in your household? I didn’t. In fact, I don’t remember having them around at all. Cakes? Yes. Pies? Yes. Cupcakes? Yes. Muffins…no. Maybe that’s why I love them. I’m making up for lost time.
Now, my favorite muffin is hands down the Peanut Butter-Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffin I make often. It’s more labor intensive and fits the bill when I have ripe bananas available and want some chocolate in my breakfast. It’s really fantastic.
I do have one criteria for breakfast muffins. I don’t want them over the top sweet. These Streuseled Honey-Butter Breakfast Muffins fit that bill perfectly. And the streusel makes the perfect crunchy-crunch. Just look at it. This is so good with my black coffee, it’s “off the chain”…as someone said to me on Facebook the other day. I love that Triple-D saying.
Anyway, these are also one of those exceptional looking muffins. They pop up and rise into a perfect dome shape, don’t brown too much and stay moist. They are keepers forever, I hope you try them soon.
Double-dipped Justice at Philippe's
If you are a criminal defense attorney as I am defending cases in downtown Los Angeles, you will eventually find your way to the tangled skein of ceiling fans, neon soft drink signs, and sawdust floors of a restaurant called “Philippe - The Original The Home of the French dip sandwich Since 1918" in nearby Chinatown. This restaurant and the sandwiches contained within played a central role in defending my first felony trial which took place in 1987.
In that case, my client was twenty years old and stood no more than 5' 4" weighing 110 lbs. It wouldn’t have hurt him to eat a sandwich himself. He had just been released from prison after serving time for burglary. He was told by his parole officer to obey all laws, don’t possess a gun, and stay away from gang members. He did very well in following those directions for the next 24 hours.
Located on Broadway and Hill between 2nd and 3rd, The Grand Central Market reflects the changes sweeping over Downtown Los Angeles. Long before farmers markets appeared all over LA, the Grand Central Market provided the Downtown community with fresh food at affordable prices.
The shoppers who filled the aisles, bought fresh produce, fruit, fish, meat and poultry. Freshly made tortillas traveled down a conveyer belt where they were stacked in plastic bags and sold still warm in the open-air tortilla factory that once stretched along the southern wall close to Broadway.
The Market specialized in health products, fresh fruit juices, herbal teas and homeopathic remedies from around the world. And where there are shoppers, they will be places to eat. Dozens of stalls sold Mexican tacos, enchiladas, ceviche, whole lobsters, plates of fried fish and shrimp in the shell. Anyone who needed an old-school Chinese-American food fix could eat at China Cafe and Broadway Express.
by Alexis Siemons
In hopes of starting the year with a sweet and steeped memory, I hurried into my kitchen to whip up a quick tea–infused treat. Faced with several perfectly ripe pears, chocolate chai tea and whole grain flower (that never made its way into holiday cookies), I decided to give a basic muffin a delicate, tea-infused twist.
The perfect breakfast...Read more...
by Sue Doeden
Several years ago, when I was visiting an out-of-town friend, she served oatmeal in a very interesting way. She told me we were eating breakfast Portland-style. That’s where she had chilled oatmeal for the first time.
She called it Swiss Muesli, which I think of as a wholesome and hearty granola-type cereal. This was different. The night before...Read more...
by Cathy Pollak
What is a guilt-free muffin anyway? I guess that means something different to everyone. Let's face it, muffins do not usually equal health food, but there are ways to make them better for you. A healthier muffin to me means, a little protein and fiber, with a lot less cholesterol causing ingredients and lower in calories.
I am literally shocked...Read more...
by Susan Russo
End of Summer in Edgartown
by Nancy Ellison