A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘valentine’s day’

How to Spice Things Up

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.


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.

Valentine’s Cookies

In Food, Recipes on February 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

peanut butter hugs


My favorite cookie when I was a kid was the classic Peanut Butter Kiss my grandmother made, warm from the oven with the chocolate kiss on top still soft. Someone far more clever than I had the brilliant idea of subbing in Hershey’s Hugs—what Hershey’s describes as a Hershey’s milk chocolate hugged by sweet white cream—and adding some food coloring to the dough make Valentine’s cookies (hers were bright fuchsia and super fun).


I dialed it down a bit and added just a few squirts of red to the dough and then rolled them in red sugar leftover from Christmas baking. Also, you might notice from my photos that in a moment of a peanut butter addict’s overkill, I added 1/2 cup of peanut butter chips to my grandmother’s recipe. Go for it. Or don’t. (But I say go for it.) Finally, if you live near a Vons, Pavilions or Safeway supermarket, their generic Organics “O” Creamy Peanut Butter is my favorite for baking.

Peanut Butter Hugs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup organic creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup Spectrum All-Vegetarian Organic Shortening

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk

2-3 squirts red food coloring

1/2 cup peanut butter chips (optional)

Red sugar for dusting

36 Hershey’s Hugs, unwrapped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together peanut butter, shortening and granulated and brown sugars, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.

With the mixer on low, add the food coloring and flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in peanut butter chips, if using. Shape the dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll in colored sugar.


Place on two un-greased cookie sheets, with about 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes, switching cookie sheets between racks about halfway through. Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate into the center of each cookie. (Cookie will crack around edges.)

peanut butter hugs

Using a spatula, move cookies from sheet to baking rack and allow to cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.

valentine's cookies





Baked Potato with Caviar and Crème Fraîche

In Food on February 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

This past New Year’s Eve was the first that my husband and I spent at home since we met almost seven years ago. The morning of New Year’s Eve, he went by Huntington Meats and got some beautiful ribeye steaks to grill. I went by Larchmont Wine & Spirits and picked up Champagne and a one-ounce jar of paddlefish caviar. Paddlefish caviar costs about $20 an ounce versus close to $200 an ounce for beluga or osetra. It’s lighter in color with smaller eggs than its more illustrious sturgeon counterparts, but is still deliciously rich and salty and is fantastic atop an omelet or a baked potato. I thought our New Year’s Eve dinner would make for good Valentine’s fare—it has all the requisite decadence for romance, but perhaps most important, is there a faster way to your man’s heart than steak and potatoes?

Tray Chic!

In Design on January 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I am totally in love with this change tray in the softest taupe leather that my husband gave me for Christmas. It’s perfect for holding bracelets and organizing clutter on top of a favorite old Indonesian linen press in our bedroom—and with Valentine’s Day around the corner I can’t think of a better excuse to add one to your collection

Be Still My Heart

In Baby Love on February 13, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Tomorrow my two-and-a-half year old will be exchanging valentines with his entire preschool class. Since his mother is illiterate in glue guns, felt hearts and pinking sheers, he’s going old school with vintage-style valentines that I found at Chevalier Books on Larchmont. But nothing—and I mean nothing—can compete with the valentine he proudly handed me after school on Friday. Be still my heart.


The Valentine’s Dinner Dilemma

In Food on February 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

I love my husband, I love restaurants, but I hate going out to eat on Valentine’s Day mostly because I dread having to inhale the cloying smog of 50-odd competing perfumes in an enclosed space. It seems that February 14 unleashes the inner spritzer in so many of us. This year, we’re just not doing it and instead are staying in for a cozy night of fondue. On Monday I plan to hit the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills to pick out some Gruyère, Appenzeller and Emmentaler to make my grandmother’s recipe for cheese fondue. It’s a show stopper, just like the woman herself! Everyone in my family makes this fondue, and we all have the same fondue pot in different colors. Mine is in a fabulous discontinued flame orange—a present from our friends Booth and Adam. But the cherry red pictured above from Le Creuset would make a great gift for your Valentine, don’t you think?

The Ramen Diaries

In Drink, Food on February 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Where to begin? The lost hours shopping for ingredients in Little Tokyo, the multiple visits to Jacob at Huntington Meats in search of pork bones, the phone calls and texting between me and my coconspirator Alex, the recipe that redirected us to no fewer than seven other recipes, or the mountains of dishes occupying every last inch in our kitchen? Well, let’s begin at 7:30 am yesterday, when I ignited the gas flame on our monster of a Wolf range and started this damn broth.

7:30 am Chang’s ramen recipe begins, apparently without irony, by saying “First, get everything ready.” Yeah, thanks. So the way Alex and I divvied up labor meant that she spent the previous evening slow-roasting pork butt and belly for HOURS on end. I was starting a broth that would take over 10 hours to make. It begins with rinsing konbu and then simmering over high heat.

8 am … feed Tiny G breakfast, remove konbu…shiitakes simmering for 1/2 hour.

8:30 am … spoon out mushrooms with a spider…chicken legs go into the broth, pork bones go into the oven to roast for an hour

9 am: flip pork bones, back into oven

9:30 am: pork bones come out of oven

9:45 am: chicken legs come out of the broth; pork bones and bacon go in. Mr Foodinista and I walk over to Larchmont for bagels and run into GastroKid’s Hugh Garvey with Violet and Desmond at Sam’s Bagels, continue up street and run into Alex and her kids. Alex pulls a tupperware of pickled vegetables for our dinner from her daughter’s stroller for us to try. They’re insane! Particularly the pickled Asian pear.

10:45 am … back home in time to remove bacon (don’t worry – Tiny G and his Aunt Claire were at home keeping an eye on the broth)

11: 30: Tiny G goes down for nap. Shower. Drive to….

12 pm: Chanel “Blue Satin” manicure with Sandra on Wilshire x Crescent Heights (310-292-2263)

1 pm: bring dashi and mirin to boil, simmer pistachios for one hour (for salad course)

2pm: fry ground chicken patty, reheat puréed cauliflower and chop apple for Tiny G’s lunch

2:10 pm: drain braised pistachios and purée with water … chop radishes and toss with salt and sugar (for salad)

3 pm: write out place cards and set table for 10.

4:30 pm: chop two bunches collard greens and simmer with water, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, brown sugar for 40 mins.

5:20 pm: change into Dolce & Gabbana ghetto gold leaf bracelet, J Brand black twill and an Anna Sui top—the latter is not only Chinese red but a nod to Chinese New Year!

5:30 pm: add scallions, chopped onion and carrot to broth

6 pm: test water for temperature (140 – 145 degrees) and add eggs to slow poach for 45 minutes—Chang’s signature technique is also known as onsen tamago, or “bath eggs”

6:15 pm: Alex and her husband Greg arrive with roasted pork butt and pork belly. I remove bones and veggies from broth and strain thru cheesecloth into pot. As you may have ascertained, I’ve also uncorked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc…

6:25 pm: Alex removes layer of fat from pork belly.

6:30 pm: Greg preps sashimi course with spoils from Fish King in Glendale:

6:45 pm: Remove eggs from hot water and put into ice bath. My sister’s date arrives to take her to Avatar at the Cineramadome and a late dinner at Street. Claire has spent most of the afternoon outdoors so as not to smell like rendered fat when he picks her up…

7:05 pm: Neighbors Martha and Alex A. arrive with Sapporo.

7:10 pm: Neighbors Alyssa and Chris arrive; Chris is pulling his kids’ radio flyer wagon with a cooler full of assorted Hitachino Nest beer. Here he is serving our very chic neighbor and documentary film producer Martha.

7:10 pm: Tokyo expats and neighbors Whit and Jen arrive with Yebisu beer and sake. Jen designs the MOST amazing Japanese baby clothes under her NOKO label.

8 pm: Sashimi course, beautifully assembled by Greg…

8:20 pm: Fry oyster mushrooms in grapeseed oil and finish with sherry vinegar. Plate salads…pistachio purée, radishes, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, radish greens, pickled sunchokes and braised pistachios…

8:40 pm: Whit delivers treatise on saké. He knows his stuff. And we toast to living on the greatest block in all of Los Angeles!

9 pm: Alex D. and I sneak out to kitchen, aided by Jen, to assemble ramen. Water boiling for ramen, running long poached eggs under hot water, seaweed torn and distributed among bowls, broth ladeled into bowls, stewed bamboo shoots (prepared previous evening) reheated and distributed among bowls along with ramen, chopped scallions, collard greens, eggs, INSANELY good roasted pork belly and pork butt…

9:10 pm: And here’s a funky one of me peeling and liberating all those damn eggs…tricky…

9:20 pm: Ramen is served! Was it worth it? OH. MY. GOD. YESSSSSSSSSSSS. What followed involved mochi for dessert, an ill-advised late-night decision to crack some Champagne, 30 Year Balvenie single-malt for some, vodka + tonic for others, more beer and Cuban cigars. Yowza.

1 am: And the aftermath? Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

In Design on February 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

I’ll post more later on last night’s raucous ramen affair, at the center of which was this beautiful arrangement in a red vase from Heath Ceramics. Mr Foodinista surprised me with this yesterday afternoon. I am in love. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here Comes the Sunchoke

In Food on February 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Can you believe this gnarly thing is a sunflower? Well, the root of it anyway. Known as sunchoke, Jerusalem artichoke, earth apple or sunroot, this tuber is destined to be pickled and served in a salad at tomorrow night’s Valentine’s dinner party. So let’s get down and dirty.

First I made the pickling liquid: sugar dissolved in hot water and rice wine vinegar.

Next you boil the pickling liquid and peel/slice all those ‘chokes. Not fun—plus I sliced my finger, which almost always happens when I’m peeling. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. Finally I mixed a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder) into the boiling pickling liquid and poured over the sunchokes. They’ll sit in the fridge and think about their behavior until tomorrow night when they are called to action!

The Romance of Ramen

In Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on February 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm

What, I ask you, is more romantic than a big old hunk of pork belly?

My friend Alex and I struck out this morning to shop for our Valentine’s Day dinner party this weekend and the first stop was Huntington Meats at the Farmers Market on Third/Fairfax. We’re doing a Japanese-themed extravaganza, and the main event is the ramen recipe from Momofuku, my favorite restaurant in NY. The broth alone takes 10 hours to make. Here is our menu:

Sashimi + Champagne


Roasted Mushroom Salad with Braised Pistachios, Pickled Sunchokes + Radishes


Momofuku Ramen with Roasted Pork Belly + Slow-Poached Egg


Japanese Pickles



It’s a ridiculous undertaking, but we plan to divide and conquer. This morning’s mission: pork. Alex picked up 6 lbs of pork belly (above) and butcher Jacob deboned a 6+ lb pork butt, below. Alex is slow-roasting the belly and butt; I’m making the broth so I snagged the pork bones and have asked Jacob to hang onto any more bones, which I’ll hopefully pick up tomorrow morning. I need 5 lbs. I have .75 lbs. Stress.

From there, we headed to the Little Tokyo Market Place on Alameda (an enormous Japanese/Korean supermarket) to do a serious shop. Thank god, Alex was with me or I would’ve been there for HOURS. (I don’t read Japanese, PS.) So here’s what we got: konbu, dried shiitakes, fresh ramen noodles, nori, fish cake, radish shoots, canned bamboo shoots, instant dashi, mirin, oyster and enoki mushrooms, shichimi togarashi…

Now all that’s left is to secure the rest of those pork bones, find some sunchokes to pickle and get my hands on some Japanese feathered “fleur-ever” eyelashes from Shu Uemera: