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Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Red is the Color of My True Love, Rioja

In Design, Drink, Food, Out of Town on May 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Back from a week in Rioja, Spain. I went for the wine—and more on that later—but fell in love with the place. And if there is one color that defines the region, it’s red. Everywhere you look. Painted flower pots, doors, windows, rooftops.

There were poppies sprinkled throughout the vineyards and barley fields.

And red pequillo peppers in tapas and tossed with morcilla blood sausage…

But yes. Best of all, the very heart of the region is its red wine. Like this pretty glass of 1942 Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia—still so very vibrant and seductive after 69 years, and seduction after all is what Rioja does best.

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

In Baby Love, Food on May 21, 2011 at 7:18 am

I’m heading to Spain for a week, so I promised my husband and son I’d make some ice cream before I left. Tiny G got to pick the flavor: chocolate. Since I had a few discs of Mexican chocolate left over from the turkey mole trials, I took a little poetic license. This recipe for Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream from Gourmet is awesome.

Mexican chocolate has granulated sugar and a bit of cinnamon in it and, adding some vanilla bean, turns out a killer ice cream. Tiny G helped me stir, so the spoon was his to lick. I’m totally in love with this ice cream, but not as much as this little guy.

Now THIS is a Meatloaf

In Food, Recipes on May 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

My friend Alex Malloy recently turned me onto this EPIC meatloaf recipe from the late, great Bill Blass. It’s a dish as classic as his tailoring. Per Alex’s advice, I added a few more onions and herbs. Just as delish the next day for lunch on a sandwich.

Bill Blass Meatloaf

1 cup chopped celery

1 onion, chopped

3 tablespoons butter

2 pounds ground beef sirloin

1/2 pound ground veal

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup sour cream

1/2 cup soft bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 egg

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 cups Heinz chili sauce

3 slices bacon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, saute the celery and onion in the butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and cool.

When the onions are cool enough to handle, add the meats, parsley, sour cream, bread crumbs, thyme, marjoram and salt and pepper to the skillet. Whisk the egg with the Worcestershire sauce and add to the mixture. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, combine the mixture and mold into the shape of a loaf. Place the meatloaf in the prepared pan. Top with the chili sauce and bacon slices.

Bake until firm and nicely browned, about 1 hour.

YIELD: Six to eight servings

Kid Food: Organic Chicken Panko Tenders

In Baby Love, Food, Recipes on May 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

As much as I’d love to tell you that my toddler will eat anything we put in front of him, that is so, so very far from the truth. Like most kids, his comfort zone at restaurants is chicken tenders—those crispy fried sodium bombs kids love to drown in ketchup. Getting him to eat good, healthy protein can be a challenge. So I thought I’d try my hand at chicken tenders at home, where I could control the quality of the ingredients. These are baked, not fried and 100% organic. I use Mary’s organic chicken tenders from our local Whole Foods, Edward & Sons Organic Panko breadcrumbs, and unsalted organic butter. (Yup, that’s ketchup on the side and the fact that it’s “organic” hardly constitutes a health food, but it’s better than the alternative.) They couldn’t be easier. You just need to plan about 1/2 hour ahead to get the oven to come up to temp, but assembly takes 2 minutes and baking an additional 15 mins, then allowing them to cool for another 5 mins.

Chicken Panko Tenders


Strips of organic chicken tenders

Softened organic butter

Organic panko breadcrumbs

Freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, brush chicken tenders on both sides with softened butter. Sprinkle panko on a separate plate and crack a little fresh pepper over. Stir to blend. Dredge buttered chicken in panko until evenly coated.

Place on baking sheet and bake (turning once) until crispy and golden, about 15 minutes total. Optional: serve with organic ketchup and steamed sweet potato.

Belgium Revisited

In Drink, Food, Out of Town on May 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

Talking about the kriek and lambic beers the other day got me a little nostalgic for Belgium. My husband and I went to Brussels and Bruges for a week a couple years ago to research a story that ran last May in Bon Appétit magazine. I realize I never shared my pictures from that trip. Wish I could teleport myself back to a table at Viva M’Boma in Brussels, above—which means long live the grandmother—on this rainy day, and tuck into a dish of Carbonnades Flamande, sprinkled with gingery speculoos and Italian parsley, below:

Or hide out in the Fleur en Papier Doré for a few hours, Magritte’s favorite watering hole and one of my favorite bars on the planet. So romantic and Old World, and a great beer selection.

Or maybe I’d head off the beaten track to the Saint-Gilles neighborhood, and sneak down to the private basement cellar of Chez Moeder Lambic with owner Jean Hummler and taste our way through his stash of 300-some Belgian beers, what is arguably the best beer bar in the country. Here’s a look at the cellar:

And I loved the plate of local goat cheese with toasted barley that he served us. The perfect tangy counterpoint to a spicy glass of De Ranke XX Bitter.

Check back tomorrow and I will post pics of the chicest bed and breakfast in Bruges, where the husband nightly cooks up a superb dinner that rivals the country’s best restaurants. Now, is it too early to tuck into a pint of this?

Cold Weather Ice Cream

In Food on May 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Purchasing an ice cream maker in Los Angeles in May seemed like a fairly safe bet. And so, when my two-year old went cuckoo over a purple Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream Maker on sale for $49 at Sur La Table last week, I thought why not? He was reacting to purple plastic, but I admit I kind of used him as an excuse to indulge my ice cream habit.

And then fate rewarded me by sending pouring rain and gale force winds the very next day. Which is when I remembered a recipe I’d seen in the New York Times back in February 2000, a recipe I’ve wanted to try now for the past ELEVEN YEARS. Spicy and just the right amount of sweet, it’s a recipe for gingersnap ice cream made with fresh ginger, cracked black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg. And let me just say that it was well worth the wait!


Adapted from Gramercy Tavern

Time: 45 minutes, plus chilling and freezing time

1/2 cup fresh ginger, sliced

3 cups milk

1 cup cream

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns

1/2 whole nutmeg, crushed

2 cracked cardamom pods

12 large egg yolks

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons dark molasses

1. Bring small saucepan of water to boil. Add ginger, and blanch for 1 minute. Transfer ginger to large saucepan.

2. Add milk, cream, granulated sugar, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and cardamom to saucepan; bring to simmer. Turn off heat; let spices infuse for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk yolks, brown sugar and molasses.

3. To make the base, bring milk mixture back to boil, and remove from heat. Add a little hot milk mixture to yolk mixture to warm it, stirring constantly to keep yolks from curdling. Pour yolk mixture into rest of hot milk mixture, stirring constantly.

4. Return custard to stove, and cook it over low heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until it thickens enough to coat back of spoon. Remove from heat, and strain custard through fine sieve. Chill until thoroughly cold, for at least 4 hours.

5. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Foodinista note: Serve with a favorite cookie, which in my case was a crispy chocolate number from Canter’s Deli on Fairfax.)

Yield: about 5 cups.

Pink Beer

In Drink on May 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm

On Thursday night I had a few girlfriends over to drink pink wine while Mr Foodinista was away at a conference. My friend Anna instead brought a bottle of dark pink beer from Belgium. I had my fair share of “kriek” (cherry beer) when we were in Bruges a couple years ago, but not the coveted Liefmans Cuvée Brut, which is brewed once a year and then aged for several more and sells out faster than you can say beer me. It’s wonderfully tart and slightly sour and if I could drink it every night, I just might.

Coconut Shrimp with Cauliflower Couscous

In Food on May 9, 2011 at 9:57 pm

My younger, fitter, blonder, nicer—and all around fantastic—gorgeous sister came over for dinner tonight. She’s been giving the Paleo (aka “Caveman”) diet a whirl. It’s based on meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and nuts, and avoids grains, dairy, refined sugar and processed oils, which sounds reasonable enough. That said, Claire rightly points out that Cro-Mags did not have the highest of life expectancies, but we figured one meal probably wouldn’t do any more harm than 13 misspent years during which I smoked a daily pack of Marlboro Reds. But I digress. Dinner was delicious. Claire brought over some gorgeous Mexican shrimp from Santa Monica Seafood, which simmered in coconut milk, a tablespoon each of minced garlic and fresh grated ginger, with a little salt and pepper for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I steamed a head of cauliflower until just tender and then chopped in food processor until it looked like couscous. The “couscous” went into a skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of curry powder, a pinch of ground ginger and pimenton. I sautéed for about 5 minutes:

We spooned the shrimp over the cauliflower couscous and my, my was it good. But the real takeaway here is the Cauliflower Couscous. So freaking great and I loved the way it soaked up the coconut sauce; the couscous was so toothy and a little bit nutty. Next time I order any kind of Indian or Thai takeout, instead of steamed rice I’m going to make this instead.

Easy Sipping: Bonnet Bordeaux Blanc

In Drink on May 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm

We don’t see a ton of dry white wine coming out of the Bordeaux region—and why would we? Less than 10% of the region’s vineyards are used for producing dry whites. But, as a “savvy b” (aka Sauvignon Blanc) girl, I grab a bottle when I see it. Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon are Bordeaux’s classic white grapes, and are most often used for those sublime Sauternes dessert wines with lofty price tags. But check this out. Currently, Whole Foods is offering a delicious dry white that’s 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon and 10%Muscadelle called Chateau Bonnet Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc. It’s crisp and refreshing with light grapefruit and mineral notes—and at less than $12 a bottle, it’s priced to please. We’ve been enjoying with fish and salads, but also with salty snacks before dinner.

Happy Mother’s Day!

In Baby Love on May 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm

On Friday when I picked up Tiny G from preschool, he was holding a cellophane-wrapped gift, which handed to me and said, “A present for Mommy.”  Inside was a jewelry box he painted containing a necklace decorated with pipe cleaners and beads.

It’s the first thing he’s ever made for me, and I couldn’t be more proud!