A passion for food + fashion

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Chicken and Spice and All Things Nice

In Food on January 31, 2010 at 9:28 am

While Tiny G was napping on Friday, his nanny, Ana, planned the BEST surprise in honor of my husband’s recent birthday. I came home to find chilies soaking in water (above). On the stove, a fragrant onion was simmering with red beans.

Though Ana is from El Salvador (where black beans are favored), she prefers to make red beans with rice and cooks amazing Mexican fare, which she learned from her former Mexican mother-in-law. While the red beans simmered, chicken and oregano sizzled in a skillet.

She makes a killer fresh tomato and chile sauce to spoon over rice and beans…

Which are the bomb along with my husband’s very favorite chicken enchiladas, which she drizzles with crema and tops with mozzarella and green onions.

Next time I’ll try to observe the technique for the tomato sauce. It tastes super fresh, and I love the heat. I also think it would be great in a Bloody Mary situation. Speaking of which, one of those might be in my immediate future… I’m meeting SinoSoul blogger Tony C and former colleague / current editrix of EaterLA Kat Odell for brunch at an undisclosed location a couple hours from now…


In Drink on January 29, 2010 at 10:11 am

This morning I wanted to share a few snapshots from writer Nancy Rommelmann (below) and roaster Din Johnson’s (bottom, right) recent expedition to Panana in search of the best coffee beans for their excellent café, Ristretto Roasters in Portland, Oregon. More pics on Nancy’s blog, nancyrommelmann.com.

Nancy writes: Panama was wild! Mountain roads that, when you turn a corner, the road has eroded away so that you are a foot from plunging hundreds of feet into a river; I would have trusted no human but my husband to be driving. Tropical storms with winds I have never heard the likes of; amazing coffee farms being farmed by the local Indians, including 12-year-olds with their babies strapped to their chests. A rental house with a huge deck in Bocas del Toro, where, in the midst of a storm, the howler monkeys started their undeniably primate screaming in the jungle just behind the house, and playing on one of the world’s prettiest-ever beaches, Playa Bluff, where my husband smashed us open a coconut. Only thing Panama NOT good for is eating; we came back skinnier! That’s okay.

Advantage: Home Office

In Fashion, Media on January 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm

One of the greatest perils and perks of working from home is the potential for procrastination. Today I blogged over on HERMAN MILLER LIFEWORK about my favorite flavor of procrastination, namely watching the Australian Open with a cup of freshly brewed Mexican Santa Cruz coffee. The item includes commentary on the genius color scheme Nadal wore vs Murray the other day (click here to read). But what I didn’t get into was my disappointment in Murray’s, I mean Judas’s, sartorial selections. Murray is the highest-ranked Brit to swing a racket since Fred Perry, who was #1 in the world from 1934-1938, and Murray paid tribute to his predecessor by donning the laurel logo until last November, when Adidas came calling to the tune of £10 million. Sorry, Murray. You may play like a champion, but you no longer dress like one:

Andy Murray for Fred Perry: Awesome

Andy Murray for Adidas: Not Awesome

Unhappy Hipsters

In Design, Media on January 27, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Favorite new blog of re-captioned photo spreads from Dwell Magazine: Unhappy Hipsters / It’s Lonely in the Modern World


Seared Scallops with Tarragon and Pea Purée

In Baby Love, Food on January 26, 2010 at 9:07 am

When I was pregnant, a coworker gave me a Beaba Babycook—a French baby food maker that steams and blends vegetables, and fetches a hefty $149. However, it’s probably the most useful baby gift we received and as a result, Tiny G eats fresh organic vegetables every day. A couple weeks ago, my sister wondered whether we might employ the Beaba Babycook to make a purée for one of our own dinners. So, while she steamed and puréed peas à la Tiny G…

…I seared scallops—just the freshest from Santa Monica Seafood—in a tablespoon of Irish butter….

Then I made a beurre blanc by deglazing the pan with a 1/4 cup each of of white wine and white wine vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice and added a minced shallot. When the juices had reduced, I cut the heat to low and whisked in some butter and fresh tarragon.

Place scallops on purée and spoon beurre blanc over top. The tarragon is wonderful at balancing the richness of the scallops and beurre blanc, and the peas add a fresh, sweet note.

Pot (Pie) Can Be Habit Forming

In Food on January 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm

When my friend Katie emailed yesterday that she was making chicken pot pie for dinner, I had to SWF her. She was using a recent recipe from the LA Times for Classic Chicken, Leek and Fennel Pot Pie, which offered two different savory pie crust options. We both opted for Savory Pie Dough #2 (I am, after all, the Jennifer Jason Leigh to her Bridget Fonda), which involved cream cheese in the dough. And by “we” opted, I mean my sister made the crust. I did, however, make the filling with my haul from farmer’s market yesterday.

I’m not going to lie. There was a fair amount of drama making the filling, namely, I burned the bejesus out of my arm with scalding water when draining the chicken. Then I realized too late I didn’t have any bacon, so used pancetta instead. Also, if you are using Mary’s organic chicken from Whole Foods, the breast pieces tend to be larger and by no means will be cooked through after 10 minutes of simmering. So adjust as necessary. But look at how yummy this looks as the flavors meld in the pot:

The pie crust was inspired. Not the easiest dough to work with (I’m told) but worth the effort:

Finally, upon comparing notes later, both Katie and I found the final filling mixture a little bland. I upped the acid with more lemon juice and a splash of sherry, while Katie dialed up the heat with red pepper flakes. We were both pleased with the differing results. So pleased, that I ate mine again for breakfast. Next time I think I’ll use Madeira instead of sherry and serve it with a glass of the stuff to really knock this out of the park.

Here are the pies coming out their respective ovens:

Katie's Pot Pie

The Foodinista's Pot Pie

And for a look inside it becomes immediately obvious that I should have used more dark meat like Katie did….

Pie à la Katie...

Pie à la Foodinista


In Drink, Media on January 24, 2010 at 9:06 am

You know you’re living in LA when a dinner party is planned around a bottle of wine that your friend got as a gift when her company, Suicide Girls, was featured in an episode of CSI:NY. (For the uninitiated, SuicideGirls is an alternative pinup site featuring punk rock, goth and indie girls.) CSI creator Anthony Zuiker is a fan of the girls and wrote an entire episode around them back in 2006. The episode was pretty awesome, and my dear friend Missy Suicide, who appeared as herself in the episode, was fantastic. And, holy hangover, so was this wine! This wasn’t just any bottle—but a magnum (1.5 liters) of 2005 Quintessa Red Wine. It’s a Bordeaux-style blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot—velvety smooth with lots of spice, smoke and dark cherry flavors. In a word: seductive, much like the vixen who shared it with us all. Missy uncorked it last night in honor of her husband’s and Mr. Foodinista’s recent birthdays. Our friends Brooke, Jill and Dan, and my sister, Claire, helped bury the evidence, glass by delicious glass. Here’s the crime scene:

Pâté Animal

In Food, Recipes on January 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

As you can see, the creamy chicken liver pâté I made last weekend was a huge hit with everyone—including Tiny G’s favorite toy elephant, hand-painted from Sri Lanka. I used a recipe from Mark Bittman, and it could not have been easier. My sole complaint is that it needed more salt, hence the bowl of fleur de sel next to it. We alternated bites of pâté sprinkled with salt with baguette slathered with honeycomb and stinky cheese, and washed it all down with a little pink bubbly in front of a roaring fire.

Creamy Chicken Liver Pâte, from Mark Bittman, The New York Times, December 24, 2009.

10 – 15 peppercorns

2 allspice berries

1 clove

4 coriander seeds

1/2 cup butter

1 onion, chopped

1 pound chicken livers


1/3 cup cream

1 to 2 tablespoons brandy

Bread or crackers for serving.

1. In a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, combine peppercorns, allspice, clove and coriander seeds; grind until fine and set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat; when foam subsides, add onion and cook until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add livers to pan and sprinkle with salt; cook livers on one side until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes, then flip them and cook the other side. Be sure to keep heat relatively high so that the outside of livers sears and inside stays pink.

3. Put onion, livers and their buttery juices into a food processor or blender with remaining butter, the cream, spices and brandy. Purée mixture until it is smooth; taste and adjust seasoning. [The Foodinista’s Note: Add a little more salt than you think you should.]

4. Put pâté in a terrine or bowl, smooth top and put in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours or until fully set. Serve pâté with bread or crackers.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Steaks, Stiff Drinks and Slippers (Sorta)

In Drink, Fashion, Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on January 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

© Jar Restaurant

Last night to celebrate my lovely husband’s birthday, we cabbed it in the pouring rain to JAR on Beverly. It’s a favorite spot thanks to its cozy, clubby atmosphere, fantastic bar and comfort food done right. It’s where we went the night we found out I was pregnant back in 2007, and where we had dinner the evening before I went in for a scheduled C-section to welcome Tiny G into the world. But this time, I was able to drink! I started off with their signature Manhattan, made with Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon, Vya Sweet Vermouth and Angostura Bitters. And a cherry of course. My husband predictably ordered a Ketel One and tonic. Here’s what we had (brace yourselves): crab deviled eggs, fried squash blossoms, 1/2 dozen oysters, rib eye (me), Kansas City steak (he), braised Brussels spouts, Japanese purple yams, hot fudge sundae (he) and the best chocolate pudding (me). Oh, and there was a bottle of Morey St Denis involved. Oops! And what did Mr. Foodinista want for his birthday? It makes a girl proud, a pair of crazy Stubbs & Wootton velvet evening slippers. They are a little aggressive, however humorous. Personally, I think The Foodinista’s Father-in-Law—whose shoe collection is to be envied above all others, I’m not kidding—might raise a brow. We’ll have to test that out next month when we visit.

LIVE with Paul Bartolotta!

In Food, Media, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on January 20, 2010 at 9:35 am

Last Friday night, my husband, our friend Amy and I went behind the scenes at Jimmy Kimmel LIVE to cheer on our friend, Chef Paul Bartolotta, who did this awesome cooking demo w/ Jimmy and actor Dax Shepard. Not only is Paul a friend, but one of the most talented cooks in the US (he has a couple James Beards Awards to prove it), and Mr Foodinista and I make at least one pilgrimage a year to Sin City specifically to eat at Ristorante Bartolotta at the Wynn Las Vegas!! On the heels of the Jimmy Kimmel/Jay Leno tango last Thursday, we were super excited to go to the show on Friday. We hung out in the Green Room for most of the taping, but were ushered backstage to watch Paul’s segment! So much fun and seriously funny stuff. Dax Shepard was hilarious as sous-chef, and helped prep one of my favorite recipes of Paul’s that we make a lot here at home, Gamberi e Fagioli Cannellini (warm shrimp with cannellini beans). I’m making it tonight for my book club. It’s really easy and is a great way to feed a crowd!

And here are a couple nerdy backstage shots with my second-generation iPhone: