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Showing posts from 2013

New Year's Eve Treats: Salmon with Crispy Skin and Buckaroo Cookies

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Where does time go? Last I looked, it was almost Thanksgiving. Now it's almost New Year's Eve. 2013 was a good year. Wishing everyone a great 2014.

On New Year's Eve we're having friends over for a late dinner and an evening of movie watching. We've seen most of the movies in Oscar contention and we have our favorites (HerNebraskaPhilomena and Fruitvale Station). But we have more to watch so we'll enjoy the evening with food and films.

Two of the treats I'll make include holiday cookies and salmon filet with crispy skin.  A few months ago for my oldest son's birthday party, we had a dinner at Napa Valley Grille in Westwood. Franklin likes farm fresh food, simply prepared, not fussy. We sampled the menu and the food was delicious. The chef stopped by to see if everyone was happy. A friendly, nice guy, chef Taylor Boudreaux sent out a pasta dish with truffles as a gift to the table. What a nice thing to do.
One of the dishes we had at the dinner was  a …

Risotto with Toasted, Crushed Hazelnuts - a Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish

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For Thanksgiving we have a menu we love. Roast turkey, corn bread stuffing with Italian sausage, shiitake mushrooms and Turkish apricots, baked sweet potatoes with butter, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and sautéed string beans with garlic-toasted almonds.

Since I started doing travel writing, I like to include one dish I've learned to make on a trip. Last year, I made Moroccan style pickled vegetables to go with the Kosher dill pickles I've made for years. This year I am going to make risotto with hazelnuts.
On a month long trip in Switzerland, I enjoyed dozens of meals. Since I was researching local Swiss wines, those meals were wine-paired. Needless to say, I had a very good time. At one of the first stops on the trip, our group of six journalists was treated to a dinner at the chef's table at restaurant Le Mont Blanc at Le Crans in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. One of our group was a vegetarian. We always envied her meals, especially that night when she was se…

A Little Bit of Planning Makes Thanksgiving a Lot More Fun

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Every year I look forward to Thanksgiving. A time to celebrate what is good about our life, to see family and friends we don't see often enough and to have a really great feast. Because we host the meal at our house, there is a lot to do.
Being prepared means less stress and more fun on Thanksgiving. The first step is to make lists. 
Step 1 - invite the guests and see who will bring their favorite Thanksgiving dish
Step 2 - pull out the recipes we want to make
Step 3 - clean the house
Step 4 - borrow extra chairs
Step 5 - pull the extra table out of the garage
Step 6 - shop
Step 7 - cook
Step 8 - eat
Step 9 - clean up
Step 10 - lie down

As of today we've completed Step 1.
Tomorrow we'll start on Step 2 by pulling out favorite recipes, the ones that "it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without."

Which would include: kosher dill pickles, corn bread stuffing with Italian sausage and shiitake mushrooms, cranberry sauce with nuts and orange juice, shiitake mushroom-turkey …

East Comes West at Chi Lin in West Hollywood

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Part of a growing trend to serve Chinese food with locavoire sourcing and an attention to healthy choices, Chi Lin off the Sunset Strip  (9201 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood CA 90069, 310/278-2068) pays homage to the spirit of Chinese cuisine with upscale versions of classic dishes like Peking Duck, soup with steamed dumplings, tangerine beef, tofu with pork and stir fried clams.
Tucked away just off Sunset Boulevard next to the much larger restaurant, Rivabella, the entrance to Chi Lin is marked by a bordello red neon sign suggesting forbidden treats and dangers are inside.

Chi Lin is a restaurant for special occasions. The dining room  is perfect for a romantic liaison with a new friend or to celebrate the love of your life on an important anniversary. A hostess in a clinging black leather dress, cut mid-thigh, will lead you to your table in an intimate dining room.
Rows of lights hang down from the ceiling, their dim rays illuminating not so much the room as the essence of the space. …

Don't Do This At Home! Keep Your Eye On the Barbie When the Corn's On the Grill

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Cardinal sin of cooking. Put a pan on the stove or a steak on the barbie and then go answer a couple of emails. Minutes pass. The emails are sent. A link sent from The Wrap leads to a few more minutes following the latest entertainment news and gossip. More minutes pass as checks are written to pay bills due in three days.
Then....what's that scent in the air? Sweet smoke with a hint of bitterness. Oh, yeah, that's the bacon in the frying pan or the ears of corn on the grill, now burnt to a blackened crisp. Perfect for the trash and compost bin but definitely no good for the table.

First rule of cooking: use a timer.
Second rule of cooking: keep it with you.

Third rule of cooking: when it goes off, check what you are cooking.

Yesterday I was making grilled corn for one of my favorite summer salads: chopped italian parsley with grilled corn. Simple, easy-to-make and delicious, the salad is such a summer treat. The perfect kind of dish to serve with grilled meats, fish and poult…

Tomato Pintxos for Labor Day or Any Day

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On a trip to Northern Spain in the spring, I discovered pintxos.
In Spanish bars, the appetizers served with beverages are tapas (about which everyone knows), pintxos and bocadilas. There's an easy way to distinguish one from the other. No bread on the plate, it's tapas. One slice of grilled bread, pintxos. Two pieces of bread (or a roll), bocadillas.
Bar food can be as simple as a bowl of beer nuts, but in Spain having a bite to eat in a bar means something very different.
On the trip, we ate elaborately designed pintxos with shrimps riding bareback on saddles of caramelized onions and smoked salmon that topped freshly grilled slices of sourdough bread.
Others featured anchovies with hardboiled eggs, whole roasted piquillo (small red peppers) stuffed with tuna fish, prosciutto wrapped around wild arugula leaves, delicately thin omelets rolled around finely chopped seasoned tomatoes and flat strips of roasted red bell peppers topped with slabs of brie and an anchovy fillet.
Th…

Mark Bittman Visits Adana in Glendale for an Armenian Feast

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Located in Glendale, on the border of Burbank, Adana is a great introduction to the cuisine of the Armenian community. Mark Bittman was in town last fall. He asked me for a list of my favorite restaurants. Adana was at the top of the list.
Adana has many great qualities. The interior is unexpectedly elegant. The portions are large. Most dishes are priced under $10.00. The waitstaff is friendly and helpful. Chef-owner Edward Khechemyan treats his customers like they are guests in his home. 
A family business, Khechemyan and fellow chef Sonik Nazaryan work in a New York sized kitchen, the size of a large closet. With an added area for his gigantic gas powered grill, Khechemyan and Nazaryan turn out a varied menu with more than two dozen dishes.
The food is eclectic, with classic dishes from America (hamburger), Armenia (kabobs and salads) and Russia (salads and soups). For a description of the menu, here's a link to my review: "For An Armenian Feast, Try Adana Restaurant in Glen…

Ice Cold Sangria Fruit Salad Keeps Everyone Cool and Happy

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When summer temperatures go up, my appetite goes down. I want less to eat and more to drink.

Homemade lemonade with mint is a great favorite. Iced tea in a tall glass filled with cracked ice is a great way to cool down. On a recent trip to Spain, I rediscovered sangria, which might be the best remedy for double and triple digit heat waves.
In the summer, the Iberia Peninsula bakes under an unforgiving sun. Spaniards long ago learned that the best way to beat back the effects of hot weather is to eat small plates ("tapas") and drink wine flavored with fresh fruit.
When I was served a glass of sangria in a bar in San Sebastián, a small resort town on the coast of Northern Spain, I loved the way fresh fruit added flavor to the wine. Fortified with brandy and  sugar, sangria goes well with small sandwiches, salads and snacks. 
Visit Spain and you'll see sangria pitchers. Wide at the base, the large pitchers have a spout pinched at the end. When the pitcher is made, the potte…

Summer's Best Picnic Food for Fourth of July - Freshly Made Salads and Chicken Wings Two Ways, With Rosemary and Kimchi

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Days at the beach, long hikes into shady woods cooled by running streams and gatherings on the grass in parks set back from the road, all cry out for picnic lunches with salty, savory dishes. Each dish should be a treat, a respite from the heat and the exertions of the day.

A cheese sandwich with a good comte or brie with a slice of ham on whole wheat bread or a fresh baguette is a good start. Bring along homemade Moroccan style pickles or kosher dills and a snack becomes a feast. These days many supermarkets have deli counters selling made-to-order sandwiches and prepared food that can be basic (salads, meatloaf, baked chicken breast and cold pasta) or elaborate with gourmet ingredients and high prices to match (arugula salads, grilled vegetables, large shrimp with remoulade sauce and baby back ribs with a whiskey glaze).

A little bit of effort--not too much effort because who wants to be in a kitchen when it's hot outside--and the picnic basket can be filled with home cooked dis…

Tuna Tartar Swims into Summer at MoMA's The Modern in NYC

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Earlier in the year I had a great meal. Change that. A really great meal. Working on an article for Bespoke Magazine about multi-course upscale dining, I interviewed Chef Gabriel Kreuther at MoMA's The Modern.

We talked on the phone for half an hour during which time he told me about his culinary background ("Alsatian"), his opinion about double-digit multi-course dining like Thomas Keller's 24 course-meals ("afterwards, aren't there maybe 2 or 3 dishes that were memorable? why not just have those next time.") and why he loved cooking in a museum ("the art inspires me in the kitchen").

At the end of the conversation he offered, "Next time you're in New York, I want you to come to the restaurant and taste my food." Happily I was flying into the city the next day so I could accept the invitation.
His multi-course meal took ten dishes, four deserts and 6 wine pairings before we folded up our napkins. I had a combination of dishes wi…