In Drink, Recipes on December 8, 2013 at 8:18 am
I never thought I’d be the kind of girl to be posting about jello shots, but here we are. A couple weeks ago the topic of jello shots came up with my friend Kristi, who had never tried one. I hadn’t thought about those green jello and vodka shooters served up in Dixie cups at frat parties in years, and for good reason. They’re vile. But it got me thinking, what would a Whiskey Sour version with Luxardo cherries bring to the game? So when Kristi and some friends were over the other night at a holiday party, I gave it a go and not only did they give us all a good laugh, but they were fantastic! I might need to experiment with a Pimms Cup shot next…
Whiskey Sour Jello Shots
3 ounces Makers Mark
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce agave syrup
1/4 cup cold water
2 envelopes of Knox unflavored gelatin (5 1/2 teaspoons)
1 cup boiling water
Whisk together whiskey, lemon juice, agave syrup and cold water. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, pour boiling water over gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add whiskey mixture. Mix well and pour into silicone ice cube trays. Add a Luxardo cherry to each. Refrigerate for several hours.
Use a butter knife to edge around each cube to help release from tray.
In Food, Recipes on November 4, 2013 at 10:33 am
You will either thank or curse me for sharing what is the ultimate in banana pudding recipes from one of the best cooks I know. I cannot overstate how mind-blowingly delicious this pudding is. A few months ago, my friend Kim brought us dinner—a comforting slow-simmered bolognese along with a Bouchon butter lettuce salad, and for dessert her banana pudding. I’m not a fan of hyperbole but this is THE BEST BANANA PUDDING I’VE EVER TASTED. EVER. I’ve since made her recipe for my own family, as well as sharing with friends and neighbors, my sister, a friend who just had a baby, and in return have received a couple of marriage proposals not to mention reignited interest from my own husband. It’s really that good. My own twist to Kim’s recipe is making vanilla wafers from scratch, though you can certainly use Nilla Wafers. The homemade wafers are super quick and easy to make, and can be done while the pudding and condensed milk are setting up.
Kim’s Killer Banana Pudding
5-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
14-ounce can condensed milk
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups heavy cream
30 vanilla wafers
3 sliced bananas
In a large bowl, mix instant pudding, condensed milk and water until blended. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whip cream until peaks form. Fold all but about 3/4 cup whipped cream into pudding until there are no streaks of pudding. Then fold in wafers and sliced bananas.
Spoon into individual containers and top with whipped cream. Or spread into a large baking dish and top with remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate for several hours. Be sure to hide some at the back of the fridge for yourself for breakfast the following morning. Because all is fair in love and banana pudding.
In Food, Recipes on November 3, 2013 at 8:09 pm
A couple weeks ago, my friend Kim shared her SPECTACULAR recipe for banana pudding. The recipe calls for Nilla Wafers—those classic cookies you’ll find in no-bake icebox cakes and banana cream pies or simply dipped in milk as a nostalgic treat. Since I’m on a personal challenge this month to reduce what I’m feeding my kids that’s from a box, I was curious to see how hard it was to make my own vanilla wafers. I found this recipe from Alton Brown, and it’s a snap. His recipe calls for vanilla sugar—click here for my quick vanilla sugar method—or if you don’t have any vanilla sugar on hand, use granulated sugar and slightly increase amount of vanilla extract used below. The cookies take about 10 minutes to prep, plus an additional 15 minutes to bake and are totally worth it.
Alton Brown’s Vanilla Wafers
7 ounces all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar
1 large egg
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whole milk
Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.
Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 35 cookies per pan.
Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.
In Recipes on November 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm
If a recipe calls for scraping the seeds from a vanilla bean, don’t discard the pods. Instead, throw them into your sugar jar to make vanilla sugar. Bury the pods in organic cane sugar and let sit for a week or two before using. The sugar’s vanilla flavor is subtle, and I always keep some on hand for sprinkling over crostatas, dusting over frozen berries for a compote or sweetening whipped cream. While I take my coffee black or with a splash of whole milk, I’m told vanilla sugar is the bomb in a cup of morning joe!
In Food, Recipes on August 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm
My friend Mia can always be counted upon to bring the most inspired dish to dinner and to have discovered the most awesome vintage lighting fixtures at last week’s flea market. And so it’s no accident that her food is every bit as inspired as her design aesthetic. This gorgeous salad is classic Mia. Use a handful of your favorite peppery and bitter greens, like arugula and radicchio, and slice up some stone fruit and prosciutto and toss with honey vinaigrette. The sweetness of the fruit and honey temper the bitter and spice of the lettuces, and prosciutto adds a richness that ties it all together.
Pluot, Prosciutto and Arugula Salad with Honey Vinaigrette
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 small stone fruit, such as pluots, plums or nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced
8 cups mixed greens such as arugula, dandelion greens, radicchio
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together first five ingredients. In a salad bowl, combine fruit, lettuces, prosciutto. Toss with dressing and serve.
In Food, Recipes on June 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm
The other night I was at a dinner party with some old friends from the Los Angeles Times. If you follow politics, you have undoubtedly read the force that is Robin Abcarian. You don’t mess with Robin, you just don’t, and so when she told me that I needed to get back to work on this blog immediately, I got into gear right quick. We’ve had a challenging month in our home, during which time I did very little cooking. Our family was fed by incredibly generous friends and neighbors, to whom we will be forever grateful. When I did venture back into the kitchen last week, it was with a simple recipe from Nigel Slater’s Tender for a humble Red Chard Gratin. Comfort food at its best. It all starts with fresh, wilted red chard.
The real surprise in this recipe is that the colorful stems are included. I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve always discarded the stems. Slater suggests boiling them for a couple minutes. It’s truly a revelation—the stems taste sweet and nutty and totally delicious. Next comes the cream mixture. As you’ll see from the top photo, the cream is mixed with a dollop of whole grain mustard for a bit of a kick, and then poured over chard. Finish by sprinkling with a handful of grated parm and stick into a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes or so.
For recipe, click HERE. I followed the recipe as written, however I recommend scaling back to 1 cup or 1 1/4 cups of cream or you will find yourself with a puddle of cream at the end. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing…
In Food, Recipes on April 22, 2013 at 9:21 am
We’ve been up to our eyeballs in a bathroom remodel over here—more on that to come—but we’ve also found a little time to eat dinner, too. I’ve made this wonderfully light and refreshing orzo salad a couple times in the past few weeks. It’s great with grilled fish or roast chicken, and is an old favorite recipe from Dean and Deluca. I can just tell it’s going to be making the scene all summer.
Orzo Salad with Lemon, Mint and Ricotta Salata
From Dean and Deluca
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup very finely diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup very finely diced seedless cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (about 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
Stir together the olive oil, shallots, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the orzo in a large kettle of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta completely in a colander, running under cold water. Transfer orzo to a bowl, stir in the olive oil mixture, and let cool. Stir in the bell pepper, cucumber, ricotta salata, and mint until combined well. You could serve the salad immediately, but we think it tastes best if you let it stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
In Food, Recipes on February 23, 2013 at 9:57 am
Last weekend, four friends and I ran the Pasadena Rock ‘n’ Roll 13.1 Marathon. During our weekly training runs, my friend Laurie and I often talked about dinners we’d cooked during the week. She mentioned a French friend’s Christmas Eve tradition of waking the family at midnight and serving Champagne with roast potatoes, smoked salmon, crème fraîche and chopped chives. The secret, she said, was to sprinkle a little allspice over the potatoes while roasting. It seemed like it might be the perfect post-race recovery brunch—and it was.
Midnight Potatoes & Smoked Salmon
8 medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, skins on
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of ground allspice
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
12 ounces sliced smoked salmon
1/4 cup crème fraîche
Fresh chives, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut potatoes in half (or quarters if larger potatoes) so that potatoes are uniform in size. In a roasting pan or glass baking dish, toss potatoes in olive oil with a pinch of allspice, and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 35 minutes, or until tender (stirring potatoes midway through to ensure even cooking).
Divide potatoes between four plates. Drape salmon slices over potatoes. Drizzle each with crème fraîche, sprinkle with chopped chives and cracked pepper.
In Drink, Recipes on February 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm
If not in the bedroom, then let’s start by heating things up in the kitchen tonight. Last night at cooking club, the theme was recreating your favorite restaurant dish. The evening requires a separate post—Mozza meatballs, tagliata and Brussels sprouts with prosciutto breadcrumbs, Akasha kale salad, Ammo lentil salad, Café des Artiste mac n cheese, Hungry Cat ceviche and chocolate bread pudding, all SO good. (And apparently a lot of us like Mozza and Hungry Cat.)
But for the purposes of romance, for igniting that flame tonight, might I suggest my friend Vanessa’s recreation of the Soho House Picante de la Casa Margarita? Vanessa notes, “There are no real directions for how much pepper/cilantro to add so you just have to experiment and see how spicy and cilantro-y you like it.”
If you know what I mean.
SOHO HOUSE PICANTE DE LA CASA MARGARITA
Makes 2 cocktails
Red jalapeño, chopped, to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste
4 ounces Cazadores tequila
1 ounce agave nectar
2 ounce fresh lime juice, squeezed
In a mixing glass, muddle together chopped red chilies and cilantro leaves. Add tequila, agave and lime juice. Shake hard. Strain into two ice-filled rocks glasses.