Mayura Indian Restaurant - South Indian Home Cooking in Culver City

Tucked away in a mini-mall on the corner of busy Venice Boulevard and Motor Avenue not far from Sony Studios, Mayura Indian Restaurant (10406 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232, 310/559-9644) is a treasure. The restaurant is the love child of Padmini Aniyan and Aniyan Puthampurayil. They moved from Kerala, a state on the Malabar Coast on the southern tip of India to Culver City and created Mayura to share their culinary heritage.

A friend had returned from working in Atlanta for half a year. His text said, "I'm back. Let's eat. Someplace new. And good." Most of the places that fit that description were in DTLA or farther east. I live in the Palisades. Dean lives in Larchmont. So we wanted someplace in between.

I skimmed through my restaurant lists. Nothing new and interesting. I looked online. Nothing looked good. I turned to Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants (2017). I scrolled and read and scrolled and read through a list of great restaurants. Many were …

The Best Tasting Dessert You Will Ever Make - Challah Bread Pudding Cake

I love challah, the egg bread traditionally eaten on Fridays for Jewish shabbat. But our family never finishes the entire loaf. The bread is so good, I looked for other ways to enjoy it.

Challah makes great French toast. A slice of dense challah absorbs the frothy egg and milk and still retains it shape. Cooked on a hot carbon steel pan with a pat of butter, the outside gets crusty as the inside stays custard-moist. A drizzle of warm maple syrup on top and we have a delicious breakfast.

So leftover challah is not a bad thing. It's a good thing.

The French toast got me thinking. How else could I use challah? I always loved bread pudding. So why not challah bread pudding?

I could have made the dessert in small cups, but I like to make bread pudding as a cake. The result was spectacular. The easy-to-make dessert is perfect for dinner parties, Oscar watching parties, Super Bowl Sunday, birthdays and anniversaries.

Challah Bread Pudding Cake

At our neighborhood bakery, a full-sized chall…

Korean Chili Sauce Heats up Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day used to make me nervous. That discomfort began in middle school when we were given sugar hearts with little sayings that we were supposed to give to one another. "Love You." "Cutie." "My Valentine." Fearful of rejection, I didn't give out many hearts. In time, as my confidence grew, candy hearts gave way to fresh flowers and picking romantic restaurants. But I was still nervous.
I embraced Valentine's Day when I learned to cook. By preparing a meal, I could create artful dishes with exciting flavors. By preparing a meal, I could show I cared.

A special meal for a special evening

Google Valentine's Day dishes and the many recipes that pop up for this evening of romance emphasize richly extravagant ingredients or over-the-top sweetness. Kobe steaks with buttery sauces. Truffle rich lobster mac n'cheese. Double-dipped chocolate strawberries. Flourless chocolate cakes dusted with candied pistachios.

All those are great. But …

Go Green for Super Bowl Sunday! Cook Easy-to-Make Roasted or Grilled Artichokes

We are planning a Super Bowl Sunday party. My plan is to serve "picnic" food. Carrot salad, potato salad, Little Gem green salad, Persian salad, crispy fried chicken, brown sugar salmon and roasted artichokes.

Super Bowl Sunday food should be fun, delicious and healthy.

Spring is happening and artichokes are showing up in our farmers markets. The dark green vegetable, prized by cooks, is healthy and easy-to-prepare.
Looking at an artichoke, with its hard exterior and sharp pointed leaves makes me wonder how anyone figured out they would be good to eat. With a small amount of effort, that tough looking exterior gives up the wonderfully savory flavor bits at the end of the each leaf.
Choosing a good artichoke

Whether you find one that is the size of your hand or a larger one the size of a soft ball, give it a squeeze. If the artichoke feels solid, you've found a good one. An artichoke past its prime will be squishy like a child's squeeze toy. Make sure all the leaves ar…

Cornalin, a Swiss Grape With Big Ambitions

Which Swiss wines do you love? Hands? Anybody? Nobody? Know why? Only 2% of Switzerland’s wine production is exported. All the rest, 98%, is consumed domestically. The best way -- actually, the only way -- to sample Swiss wines is to visit Switzerland. That’s what I did.
The Valais’ Microclimate
Having grown up with images of Switzerland as a land of snow-covered mountains, when I visited the Valais, a wine-growing, French-speaking canton east of Geneva, I expected cold weather. But the climate was better suited to shorts and T-shirts than to parkas. Neatly trellised vineyards climb up steep hills taking advantage of a hot, dry microclimate. With 300 days of sun a year, the Valais feels like Napa and Sonoma except for the Matterhorn looming in the distance.
In Switzerland, family-owned vineyards and wineries (calledvignerons-encaveurs) are the rule. Even if unprofitable, they stay in the family. During a hosted trip we met one wine maker whose family was regarded as a newcomer. They…

Holiday Baking - Sfogliatella - the Best Italian Pastry You Can’t Pronounce

Growing up in Los Angeles, and this was many years ago, the closest I got to an Italian meal was opening a can of Chef Boyardee SpaghettiOs. Only when I moved to Providence to teach at Rhode Island College did I experience authentic Italian cuisine. Living close to Federal Hill, the historic center of the city’s Italian community, I had easy access to Italian delis that imported cheeses, pastas and charcuterie directly from Italy. Every block had a small bakery making cakes, pies, cookies, breads and pastries according to recipes handed down for generations.
I discovered cannoli filled with ricotta cheese studded with flakes of bittersweet chocolate. Twice baked biscotti with almonds. Pastry cream filled zeppole, a fat doughnut of sugared dough, baked or deep fried. I loved them all, but my favorite was a seashell shaped pastry, the deliciously crisp sfogliatella. What makes this Tuscan pastry so famous is a crunchy flakiness outside and a sturdy, sweet ricotta cheese filling inside.…