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Winter

Lentil-Veggie Stew, a One Pot Winter Pleasure

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by David Latt

lentilsoupA few years ago a press trip took me Spokane, Washington and Moscow, Idaho. The area is well-known for its agricultural products, most importantly lentils. A representative of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council gave us a "Lentils 101" talk that described the many varieties of lentils, their nutritional value and economic importance to protein-starved regions of the world. Each of us was given a copy of The Pea & Lentil Cookbook: From Everyday to Gourmet which has recipes using dried legumes in dishes as varied as appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts.

Cooking with lentils is easy.

The basics are wash and rinse the lentils. Discard any broken or misshapen lentils. Generally speaking lentils are cooked in water at a ratio of one cup of lentils to two and a half cups of water. Simmer covered for 30-50 minutes, tasting the lentils as they cook and removing the pot from the stove when they are to your taste. Cooked longer, lentils will soften and can be used in purees for soups, dips, sauces and spreads.

I like the lentils to retain their shape so I cook them only until they are al dente.

This Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup Is Like a Best Friend

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by Susan Russo

mushroomsoupMushroom soup should be like a good friend -- there for you when you need it, full of understanding and comfort, and spicy enough to make you laugh. Consider this Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup a best friend.

We met rather informally last fall in my kitchen while I was entertaining a number of other friends including tender red bliss potatoes, earthy chestnuts, and aromatic sage. We liked each other instantly, and our friendship has continued to grow.

Meaty, smoky chestnuts and savory fresh herbs add depth to an otherwise ordinary, creamy mushroom soup. Use bottled, dried, or -- if you're up for the challenge -- freshly roasted chestnuts. For a richer soup, I suggest using cream; 2% milk is best if you're looking to save calories.

I'm not a possessive person, so I'd like to introduce you to her.  She'll be one of the truest friends you've ever had. 

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad with Wheat Berries

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by Joseph Erdos

grapfruitfennelsaladIf it wasn't for citrus fruit, winter's selection of produce would be pretty sad and boring. Once you've had your share of squashes and root vegetables, it's time for something different. Citrus offers a welcome respite. When markets begin to overflow with oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, things finally get exciting. You may even see unusual citruses, such as blood oranges, tangelos, and pomelos. I love them all, but I particularly adore the sweet-tart flavor of grapefruits. This time of year, they replace my apple-a-day routine. But grapefruits aren't just for a dessert or snack, they shine in savory dishes, like this salad.

The classic fennel and grapefruit salad is a wonderful combination. Crunchy and sweet anise-flavored fennel goes well with the tart citrus flavor of grapefruit. This recipe reinvents the salad by adding wheat berries for a wholesome twist. The actual grains of wheat—the berries, as they are called—come in hard and soft varieties, where the hard is higher in protein and the soft higher in starch. Both work fine in this recipe. Once cooked, the berries are chewy on the outside, but tender on the inside. Enjoy them as a side dish like a pilaf or add them to any salad. They are especially nice in this recipe as they absorb the vinaigrette and grapefruit juices.

Mixed Green Arugula Salad with Orange Marmalade Vinaigrette

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by James Moore

orangearugulasaladHomemade vinaigrettes just taste better and it's really worth the extra few minutes it takes to shake up a batch in jar.

I like to use this recipe during the winter, when there are lots of great citrus fruits to choose from in the grovery store.

Blood oranges, clemetines, or any favorite orange make a nice additiion to this simple green salad and compliment the marmalade in the vinaigrette.

What's More Fun Than Saying Lemonquat?

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by Susan Russo

lemonquatecakewholeIs there another name as fun to say as "kumquat"? Yes. Lemonquat, limequat, and orangequat (also called mandarinquat). I didn't make these up; they are citrus hybrids -- part kumquat and part lemon, lime, or orange, respectively.

A soft-spoken, affable farmer named George T. Schnurer, who owns and operates Betty B's Ranch in Ramona, California, sells a wide variety of cheerful citrus, including orangequats, lemonquats, and di rigeur Meyer lemons.

Though the juicy sweet-tart orangequats have a robust orange flavor that I love, I am positively smitten with the lemonquats. You might expect given their name that lemonquats are overly sour or acidic. They aren't. Like lemon drops, they're rather sweet with hints of tartness.

Lemonquats like kumquats are entirely edible. Though wonderful raw, they're simply amazing in baked goods. Despite their playful name and unique flavor, there aren't too many recipes for lemonquats, that is, except for hard drinks. Since this is G- rated blog, I figured I'd do something more wholesome, like cake.

Hearty Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

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by James Moore

3beanchiliI love hearty spicy chili, especially during the winter months. This one is quick to make with just basic ingredients and guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day.

The variety of beans – red kidney, black and pinto – gives the chili a nice “meaty” quality. I think it has a nice balance of heat, but you can add extra cayenne or a chopped jalapeño to add a little more “fire”.

Butternut Squash, Apple, and Onion Galette

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by Matt Armendariz

GALETTE 550pxI get downright giddy when I think of galettes. Rustic, free-formed, and shockingly beautiful, they are everything I want in a baked good and then some.

Simplicity is rewarded tenfold in my opinion, and if there’s one in a bakery case or counter chances are I will order it, no matter the ingredients.

Because I love them that much. I had to share the recipe for this savory pie comes from the Food Network Kitchens. This is a group I know very well and every time we photograph their recipes I know I’m in for a creative treat that works. They always work. And they are always delicious, so thanks, FNK!

What can I say about this galette? It’s gorgeous, both in appearance and flavor. It makes me feel like I am a million miles away in a cafe, and pairing a slice of this with a glass of rosé or sancerre might possibly make you the happiest person on the planet. Did I mention how gorgeous it is?

A Winter Pick-Me-Up: Roasted Vegetable Salad

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by David Latt

wintersaladNow that the fall has given way to colder weather, enjoying winter’s chill outdoors requires a well-insulated coat and good gloves. Indoors, the kitchen fights back the cold with a hot oven and good food ready to eat. The best winter food comforts our spirits and nourishes our bodies. Nothing does that better than a roasted vegetable salad.

In summer, a ripe tomato salad mixed with peppery arugula leaves and bits of salty, creamy Bulgarian feta can be a meal in and of itself. When the weather cools and a weakening sun denies farmers the heat they need to grow nature’s leafy wonders, we still hunger for salads but now it’s time to look to hearty greens and root vegetables to satisfy that craving.

In winter, walking through the local supermarket’s fresh produce section, it’s easy to believe we live in a one-season world. Vegetables and fruit that require summer’s heat are stacked high in the bins. But one taste and it’s easy to tell, these delectables have been grown out of season or traveled long distances to reach our tables.

Root vegetables like celery root, beets, turnips and potatoes grow well in the colder months. When roasted, their starches convert into sugar, coaxing the best out of these subterranean gems.

Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate with Frozen Peppermint Whipped Cream

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by Cathy Pollak

Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate

Are you still making hot chocolate from the store bought mix? This winter season, try something different. Make it from scratch, with real chocolate. It's a totally different taste experience. And there's a good chance you won't go back to a mix. And honestly, this doesn't take much longer (unless you are using instant).

I remember the first time I discovered hot cocoa did not have to come from a powdered mix, I was shocked. And this Peppermint Bark Hot Chocolate will make you a believer. I hope you will give it a chance.

The kid's eye's will pop when they see you add the Frozen Peppermint Whipped cream to the top of their mug. Cue happy music.

I broke up my peppermint bark chocolate bars into my saute pan. I love using a large saute pan to make hot chocolate. The large surface area makes it come together and heat up quickly. Easier to stir too.

Homemade Pink Grapefruit Curd

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by Hillary Davis

grapefruitcurdThere was a wicker basket filled with pink grapefruit sitting on my counter. In the background, my kitchen window was like a snow globe, showcasing big flakes falling thickly in the woods.

Scones were baking in the oven, sending off curls of cinnamon aroma, and they were almost done. Now was the time to definitely decide what to make to serve with them, and the quickest recipe I could think of was to make curd. It's one of the most asked for recipes from the students in my cooking classes so I could do it with my eyes closed, but the problem was, no lemons. Thank goodness! The pink grapefruit made the most luscious, tart, sweet, amazing curd. And it only took minutes.

Requiring only 4 ingredients, I was able to whip this up and cool it in time to serve with the scones, which also needed a few minutes to cool down to room temperature.

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