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Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Frijoles Fantastico

In Food on September 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm

frijoles

Last night my friend Katie—whose day job is managing editor at Bon Appétit—had several SUPERB moments on Hell’s Kitchen. She totally stole the show in the opening challenge! But I’ve gotta tell you, she’s been stealing the show all week at our house. On Saturday night, she brought over some frijoles refritos for my sister’s birthday bbq that we’ve been obsessing over all week, which have just the right hit of spiciness to them—such a diversion from the usual bland frijoles. We’ve had them in breakfast burritos, lunch burritos, dinner burritos…with cheese, with Spanish rice, tabasco. I kind of can’t believe that refried beans can be THIS GOOD. Katie riffed on an Emeril recipe, but like any great cook made the recipe her own with some genius detours.

In addition to the bay leaf, she added a broken-in half chile de arbol, a sprig of oregano, a few whole peppercorns, and a smashed garlic clove to the water when she cooked the beans. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of bacon drippings or lard, which is A LOT. Katie notes:

A word about the bacon fat. I doubled the bean recipe and then some (I used 5 cups dried beans rather than 2, and multiplied everything accordingly-ish), but I still ended up using less than 3/4 cup bacon fat. I started with about 3/4 cup (they sell it at Larchmont Larder), but it was just so much when it melted; it seemed like I’d be deep-frying the onions and garlic rather than sauteeing them, so I spooned off some of the fat.


Roasted Purple Potatoes & Rapini

In Food on September 29, 2009 at 11:42 am

purple potatoes

When I was little, my mother had a green and purple Missoni ensemble that I would kill to have today. It’s a color combination I love to this day—our garden is largely silver and dark green leaves with purple, blue and lavender blooms. And last night’s dinner followed suit. I’m not convinced that purple potatoes make the best roasters, but they were pretty with the rapini (aka broccoli rabe). Thinly slice the potatoes and cut off stalks from rapini. Toss with enough olive oil to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then roast in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Palacios Chorizo

In Food on September 28, 2009 at 12:05 pm

chorizo

One of my sister’s friends sent a care package containing Palacios Auténtico Chorizo Español. Spanish chorizo differs from Mexican chorizo in both flavor and texture. Thanks to pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika), chorizo from Spain has a distinctive smoky flavor, while Mexican chorizo gets its flavor from chile powder. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that Palacios is one of the only chorizos made in Spain that is sold here in the US. (Most “Spanish” chorizos we find here are more likely made in the US with Spanish ingredients.) And they’re fantastic. Their dry-cured sausages are made in the Rioja region of Spain, and they are incredible with a glass of Rioja red.

Happy Birthday, Claire!

In Food on September 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm

birthday cake

It’s been a weekend of celebrating, kicking off on Friday night with a birthday dinner for my sister, Claire, at CUT. (I am still obsessing about the dry aged ribeye with bone marrow, and the blackberry and spice of the Breggo Pinot Noir. Oh lordy.) Last night we continued the birthday bonanza with a bbq, for which Mr. Foodinista grilled carne asada, I made Spanish rice (more on that later this week), my friend Katie made the BEST spicy beans (will try to get recipe), our neighbor Alyssa brought a divine pasta salad, Martha her legendary guacamole, Adam a bottle of Corzo tequila from which he was passing out shots, and then the pièce de resistance, cake! Claire and I drove all the way down to Yellow Vase Bakery in Redondo Beach yesterday morning to pick up this masterpiece for the party. Is any cake worth a three-hour roundtrip drive? You bet your macaron, it is. This one is decadent chocolate with vanilla buttercream layers and whipped cream frosting, and then topped with perfectly chewy and fresh macarons. What I love is that it is not overly sweet. It’s a cake that will break even the most disciplined dieters (which, let’s be clear, I am not). Get more cake than you think you’ll need; it is particularly great for breakfast the next morning with coffee…

Santa Barbara Spot Prawns (Ruh-Roe)

In Food on September 24, 2009 at 10:21 pm

spot prawn

Santa Barbara spot prawns are just one more reason why living on the west coast is superb. My sister stopped by Santa Monica Seafood the other day and picked up half a dozen spot prawns for dinner. These guys are technically shrimp, but are oversized and taste like sweet lobster. Our plan was to throw them straight on the grill for 2.5 minutes a side and serve with heart-stopping cheesy grits with bacon and grilled asparagus. I crushed some garlic into a bowl of olive oil to brush over before grilling, which is when we discovered the roe. Let’s just say we had a bunch of breeders on our hands and didn’t know how the hell to deal with them. I immediately texted my friend Katie, who replied “A delicacy?” Love caviar/roe, so we went with it. Does this look freaky to you?

spot prawn roe

Turns out the roe was scrumptious. As is every part of these little suckers. We skipped the shells and the eyeballs but scarfed just about everything else…

spot prawns

Happy Birthday, Aaaarrrg!

In Food on September 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm

pirate parrot

Yesterday was our friend Adam’s birthday, which required a pirate theme and a parrot named Eli that we affixed to the birthday boy’s chair. My sister stopped by Vine American party store, and managed to find some chocolate gold coins, jolly rogers and assorted pirate accouterments for the dinner table.

jolly roger

The menu continued the theme with Walk the Plank-Roasted Salmon, which we roasted in the oven on a cedar plank. The cedar imparts a smoky sweetness to the fish, and is heavenly with a honey-mustard-rosemary glaze. Happy Birthday, Matey!

plank roasted salmon

Warm Calamari Salad with Spinach and Chorizo

In Food, Recipes on September 21, 2009 at 8:11 am

squidsalad

Lured by the thought of two of his favorite ingredients—chorizo and squid—commingling in a single dish, on Saturday night Mr. Foodinista undertook a recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin. It’s a favorite cookbook of ours, given that it comes from the restaurant where we got engaged! However, I’ll be the first to admit that one can usually bank on using an annoying number of pans with one (or three) too many steps. However, this salad is so freaking insane that it’s worth it. I scaled waaay back on breadcrumbs (her recipe had us making a cup, which was too much). Also, we omitted the black olives since Mr. Foodinista is not a fan…

Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo, and Black Olives

Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

Serves 4-6

2 1/2 lbs small squid, cleaned

2 lemons, zested

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons sliced flat-leafed parsley

1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

3/4 cup, plus 1 tsp olive oil

3/4 lb Mexican chorizo, casings removed

1 1/2 cups diced onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

5 ounces baby spinach

1 cup cilantro leaves

1/2 cup sliced scallions

1 cup chopped pitted Nyons olives

6 tablespoons sherry vinegar

squid

Cut the squid bodies crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rings, and leave the tentacles whole. Season with lemon zest, 1 tablespoon thyme, and parsley. Refrigerate for a few hours.

squidseasoned

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Spread onto baking sheet, and toast until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

breadcrumbs

Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in two tablespoons olive oil and wait about a minute. Crumble chorizo into pan, and cook 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, and remaining thyme. Sauté 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until chorizo is cooked and onion is translucent and starting caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside.

chorizo

In a large bowl, toss together spinach, cilantro, scallions and olives. In a small bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 6 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.

Heat two large sauté pans over high heat for 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to each pan, and wait 2 more minutes (pans need to be very hot to sear squid). Divide squid between pans, and season with salt/pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes, without stirring, allowing squid to sear. Stir with wooden spoon, and cook another minute or two, until squid is opaque and just cooked through.

squidpans

Return chorizo pan to high heat, and add squid, stirring well to combine and coat well.

squidchorizo

When mixture is hot, add it to bowl of spinach. Turn off heat and add vinaigrette to pan and heat quickly, until just hot. Pour 3/4 hot vinaigrette over spinach and squid. Season w/ salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette if needed. Arrange salad on platter and scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Seriously, it’s worth the effort.

That is, until you have to wash all those pans…

skillets

Meet Zsa Zsa, the Turken

In Food on September 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Meet Zsa Zsa, who is an exceptionally pretty turken who lives in Northern California. Here she is laying her first egg! Turkens, also known as Naked Necks, are not half turkeys but rather a breed of chicken that lays light brown eggs. Apparently Zsa Zsa’s eggs are superb in a salade niçoise. Incidentally, I’ve recently learned courtesy of Zsa Zsa’s owner, Devora, that the color of eggshell is determined by the breed of chicken. I also learned that Zsa Zsa’s story is something of a miracle:

When she was 6 months she was bitten on the neck by a rattlesnake. Of course she should have died immediately. I hand fed her for weeks and, somehow, she hung in there. Now she can scamper down the driveway at a good clip when she hears my car in the driveway. Imagine being greeted by a running bird every time you came home from work.

Let’s hear it for Zsa Zsa, the prettiest turken in the great state of California! Thanks, Devora, for sharing this video!

Cacio e Pepe

In Food, Recipes on September 19, 2009 at 6:10 pm

pecorino

The last leg of our honeymoon a couple summers ago was spent in Rome, where I ordered cacio e pepe—pasta mixed with pecorino and cracked black pepper—every chance I got. It’s a Roman classic, and the superlative example is served at Ditirambo, near the Campo de Fiore. But it is also also a blasphemous version in that it uses goat cheese instead of the traditional pecorino. Ditirambo serves its cacio e pepe with tonnarelli pasta, sort of like a square spaghetti, which I’ve had trouble finding back here so in a pinch I’ll substitute a fat linguine. While the tanginess of the goat cheese is inspired in this dish, I still love the saltiness of pecorino, so I’ve split the difference and have arrived at the following.

The Foodinista’s Cacio e Pepe

Serves 4 as a main course

17.5 ounces tonnarelli or linguini pasta

1 1/2 cups grated pecorino (or more to taste)

2 ounces goat cheese

3/4 cup reserved pasta water

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salt the hell out of boiling water, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 cup water. Return to pot and add pecorino, goat cheese, 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, and cracked black pepper to taste. (Add additional water if mixture seems dry.) Toss well to melt cheese. Serve with a dry white Italian wine, such as orvieto. I love the 2007 Salviano Orvieto, available at K&L in Hollywood for $12.99.

cacioepepe

Project Runway’s Newsworthy Challenge

In Fashion, Film, Media on September 18, 2009 at 8:22 am

Last night’s Project Runway featured one of my best friends and Tiny G’s gorgeous godmother, the “celebrated fashion critic” for the Los Angeles Times, Booth Moore. Booth delivered the challenge: Designers had to craft garments out of newspaper. Here’s the link. Check her out! And for added bonus interview, click here for the Project Runway Blog interview with Booth.

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