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Showing posts from 2012

For New Year's Eve: A Favorite Cocktail

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The holidays are a great time to break the work routine, slow down the daily tempo, and hang out with friends and family.

Cold weather makes the outdoors less hospitable. A warm kitchen invites like no other room in the house.  Pulling together appetizers, a salad, main dish, and a couple of desserts, is a lot of work but also great fun. 
With New Year's Eve tonight, I'm turning to an old favorite, a drink that evokes the sweetness and excitement of the tropics.
Because there are edible pieces of fruit at the bottom, include a spoon so the cocktail can be enjoyed as a drink and an appetizer all in one.
Tropical Rum Cocktail
Yield: 4
Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients
1 cup white rum 2 Fuyu persimmons, ripe, slightly soft, finely chopped 1 cup fresh orange juice, sweet 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 4 tablespoons powdered sugar 16 ice cubes
Method
Pour the white rum into a pitcher, add the powdered sugar, and stir well to dissolve. Add the finely chopped persimmons, orange and lime juice, and s…

Sexy, Seared Scallops Help Say Goodbye to 2012 and Hello to 2013

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Cooking long hours is fun on Thanksgiving but on New Year's Eve nobody wants to be in the kitchen except to pass through on the way to the freezer to refill the ice bucket.
The perfect at-home meal on New Year's Eve is one that has pazazz, great flavor and doesn't take long to prepare.

With expectations high, everything about a New Year's Eve party needs to be special
Take-out deli sandwiches are fine to watch the weekly football game. Pizza and beer works for a Netflix festival of Tarantino movies. But for the night when you say goodbye to a whole year's experience and celebrate what's-hoped-for in the coming 365 days, it isn't enough to simply put food on the table.

If you're having a small gathering of friends and loved ones, easy-to-make scallops are an elegantly delicious way to tell everyone how much you love sharing this end-of-the-year evening with them.

Experimenting with samples of Alaskan seafood sent to me by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Inst…

Il Fornaio Santa Monica Closed

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It is strange the assumptions one makes. Some places seem fixed in your life like anchors. Long-lived businesses become friends-of-the-family and, as such, seem guaranteed to be experienced whenever one wants. And then, just like that, they are gone.
 For seventeen years we had a dining out routine.

During the first two weeks of every month, we would go to Il Forniaoacross from the Santa Monica Pier for the Festa Regionale. We would enjoy dishes and wines that celebrated specific culinary regions of Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Piemonte, Umbria, Sicilia, Toscana, Campania, Lombardia, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche.
Antipasti, salads, soups, pastas, risottos, grilled and baked meats and fish, and braises would come to the table flavored by the unique preferences of the region's traditions.
Designed to fight off the cold, Northern Italian dishes had a "rib-sticking" quality, featuring luscious, thick sauces and soups topped with croutons and cheese. From t…

Apple Pie Gets Whisky Tipsy

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For the holidays, old favorites are entitled to special love. Case in point, apple pie. Nothing is more American and no dessert is more satisfying than apple pie, hot from the oven, topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Delicious as it is, special occasions call for special ingredients.

Whisky's smoky sweetness seems like a perfect companion for apple pie's richly comforting wholesomeness.

My mother made apple pie for Thanksgiving and Chanukah. Her recipe was the essence of simplicity. One of those dishes that intuitively adheres to the principle of "let the ingredients speak for themselves."

At a time when farmers markets didn't exist in cities, my mom would pack my sister and myself into her Dodge and we'd head out to the farms in the areas surrounding Banning, California, the small town on the way to Palm Springs where we lived during my high school years.

Sometimes we'd stop at stands along the highway and buy a basket of apples, maybe a pum…

Morocco, Closer than Paris and a Lot More Exotic

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To get a good photograph of Casablanca's Mosque Hassan II took a lot of backing up and avoiding the crowds of international tourists who had come to visit one of the world's largest mosques.
The building is not only about size, but details. The mosque invites visitors to appreciate the scale of nature and the intricacies of life as represented by the exquisite metal and tile work. As if it were the land's sentinel protecting man from the violence of the world, the Mosque stands on the edge of the North African continent, on the edge of a palisade overlooking the turbulent Atlantic Ocean.
A trip to Morocco often begins in Casablanca and frequently tour guides make the Mosque one of the first stops. After the majesty of the Mosque, we traveled north-east toward Fez, stopping in Mouly Idriss, a historically important hill city where we had lunch at Restaurant Alaambra with an open air-patio and grill.
The Mosque and Restaurant Alaambra were two good tent poles for our Morocca…

Before and After Thanksgiving: Turkey Liver Pate Appetizer and Turkey Stock

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The best Thanksgiving appetizers are ones that are light, more about flavor than satisfying hunger.

Cheese, olives, vegetable crudite and pickles are an easy way to anticipate the meal while everyone is getting settled and beverages are being served.

Years ago I discovered turkey liver pate when I was stumped by what to do with that very large turkey liver inside the turkey. Ever since, I have happily served the pate as an appetizer with crackers or thin slices of fresh Italian bread.

This year, having bought beets to make a Thanksgiving beet salad, the beet greens were a healthy substitute for Italian parsley. The sweetness of the greens are a perfect compliment to the richness of the liver.

The other part of Thanksgiving that is important to me is the turkey stock that I start making while dinner is still in progress.

Everyone has their favorite after Thanksgiving left-over sandwich. For me, nothing is better than the turkey stew with dumplings made with the thick stock prepared fro…

80+Thanksgiving Recipes

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For those of you who are subscribers to Men Who Like to Cook, my last post--It Takes A Village (of Bloggers) to Get Thanksgiving on the Table--has 80+ recipes from Food Bloggers, Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the email that notified you about that new post did not carry with it the links to those recipes.

Please click on this link, which will take you to the web site where you find an amazing collection of recipes for appetizers, soups, muffins, side dishes, entrees and desserts. All perfect for Thanksgiving. All tested in the kitchens of Food Bloggers, Los Angeles.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

It Takes a Village (of Bloggers) to Get Thanksgiving on the Table

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To feed a large number of people takes planning, listsand help. Lots of help.

Happily, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when pot-luck is very much a part of the celebration.

When the door bell rings, you'll greet friends and family bearing gifts of appetizers, side dishes and desserts. Many of those recipes are the result of years and, in some cases, generations of kitchen-tested, holiday cooking.

We have a cousin who brings her signature pumpkin pie. Another cousin comes from San Francisco carrying his ice cream maker in the trunk of his car so he can prepare fresh ice cream that he tops with his home made hot fudge sauce.

I make an apple pie with crystalized ginger in the crust. Besides the roast turkey, my wife cooks her corn bread stuffing with shiitake mushrooms, dried apricots and Italian sausage.

A helping hand
A few weeks ago, the members of Food Bloggers, Los Angeles (FBLA) met in an Ocean Park member's home to share Thanksgiving recipes.

Belonging to a group of f…

Election Eve Munchies

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I want the election to be over. I'm tired of partisanship, attack ads and endless news cycles of pontificating pundits.
I want the election to be over as long as my candidates and propositions win. That's what I meant to say.

If my side needs more time to win the day, so be it. Take all the time you need.

Skin in the game
Every election cycle feels special. The stakes are always high. The choices game changing. The amount of campaign money spent on elections stupefyingly large.

If you are a conservative, you are convinced the moral fabric of the country is on the line. Our economic future is at risk. 

If you are a liberal, you have seen the Ryan budget and the writing is on the wall for all the Progressive advances since Teddy Roosevelt. If you care about social inequality and women's rights, you are bewildered by the seemingly unending attacks that come from Republican candidates.

On Election Night this Tuesday, given the number of key battle ground states and the voting difficu…

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

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There was a chill in the air today even if last week it felt like summer. The grocery store ads are carrying discount coupons for turkeys. It's beginning to feel a lot like Thanksgiving.

At the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, the once a year $5.00-for-all-the-pumpkins-you-can-carry event was held in the middle of the intersection of Second and Arizona. Three and four year old kids were encouraged to pick out pumpkins too heavy to carry and "roll them down the street."
Adults were more ambitious. For $5.00, one person was allowed one trip to carry off as many pumpkins as they could manage, as long as they carried them 24 feet away from the pumpkin pile. No bags allowed. No help from associates. This was an individual effort. Everyone with a strong back, grabbed two, three and as many as four pumpkins and crab walked away with their treasure.

I managed to carry away three large pumpkins to use as house decorations and, ultimately, to turn into pumpkin pies for Than…

What's Cooking in New Orleans

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Mention New Orleans and anyone who's been says, "The food's so great. And the music. If you go, you'll love it."
I hadn't been so when I was able to stay for a three day weekend in early October, I jumped at the chance.

With so few days in town, I asked for suggestions on Facebook and Twitter, read guide books and got recommendations from friends who are NOLA aficionados.

Certain restaurants appeared on multiple lists:

Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville Street, New Orleans 504/522-5973) in the French Quarter (for oysters although I was advised the place is so crowded, a good workaround to get in is to sit at the bar between 3:00pm-4:00pm).

Donald Link's restaurants are popular, especially Herbsaint (701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans 504/524-4114) and Cochon(930 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans 504/588-2123) I made it to the latter, but more about that in a minute.
Fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House (2401 At. Ann Street, Seventh Ward, New Orle…