Posts

Showing posts from 2016

A Classic Flourless Chocolate Cake Gets a Flavor Twist

Image
New Year's Eve is fast approaching. Super Bowl Sunday isn't that far off. Perfect for both or any celebration, a flourless chocolate cake proves the maxim, a little taste goes a long way. Because the dense cake has so much flavor, a thin slice topped with freshly made whipped cream or vanilla ice cream is more than enough to end a meal or celebrate a memorable occasion.

Many years ago I read my first flourless chocolate cake recipe in Esquire magazine. As created by Jean Banchet, the celebrated French chef, the basics were straight forward. A good quality dark chocolate is melted together with sweet (unsalted) butter. In a separate bowl egg yolks are sweetened with sugar. Egg whites are whipped into peaks. Then, the three are mixed into one bowl.

Like a souffle, a flourless chocolate cake is a delicate confection. Jostled or treated carelessly, the egg whites so carefully aerated will collapse.

My contribution to this classic was a few flavorful ingredients. Instead of a lique…

Cold Nights, Warm Food - Potatoes Au Gratin and Steak Charred on a Carbon Steel Pan

Image
It's comfort food time. Cold nights call for warm dinners with deeply satisfying dishes.

What makes you feel good in cold weather? What about a vegetable soup flavored with roasted tomato sauce and filled with roughly chopped carrots, green cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and string beans? Or spaghetti tossed with charred cauliflower buds and shallots with an anchovy-butter sauce?

I made those last week and they were delicious. Tonight I wanted meat, a starch and a green. Pretty basic stuff. Add in a Prairie vodka martini with an olive and I was definitely comforted.
Usually when I cook a steak, I make mashed potatoes with butter, half and half and sautéed scallions. Tonight I wanted something different. For some reason the idea of potatoes au gratin seemed like the way to go. I'd still have the soft potatoes to contrast with the steak but the au gratin would give me a crunchy top.

The green was my favorite: an escarole salad with blue cheese, pickled green beans, fresh chopped to…

After Fidel Castro, What Next for the Relationship Between Cuba and the United States? Whatever Happens, Travel to Cuba and Have an Amazing Adventure

Image
A year ago we visited Cuba to attend the Havana Film Festival, the first time since 1999 when the country was celebrating the Millennium. 

A lot had changed since 1999. We were able to fly directly to Havana, without a stop over in Mexico. We asked to have our passports stamped at Cuban Immigration instead of asking them not to do that. The old city had been refurbished, with construction indicating more improvements to come. Hotels were being built. The restaurant scene was as thriving as those in Brooklyn and Downtown Los Angeles. The music was as wonderful as before, with bands playing in neighborhood bars and radios on window sills serenading people passing by. 

There was much to enjoy. But also Havana's decay was more evident than in 1999. The old city and prosperous suburbs were bustling. Walk a dozen blocks away from the tourist areas and the streets and buildings in the heart of the city were more crumbling than sixteen years before. Only the colorful street art that took ad…

Roasted Roma Tomatoes and Turkey Pot Pies for the Day After Thanksgiving

Image
I am amazed that it's time to order a Thanksgiving turkey already. 2016 went by very quickly.

Happily in the fall, I was busy traveling for writing assignments and video taping chefs in their kitchens showing me their favorite recipes.

For Thanksgiving I am using a new recipe from one of those experiences.

This recipe is insanely easy and incredibly delicious: slow roasted Roma tomatoes used on sandwiches. When I was working on a profile of chef Andrew Pastore at Clifton's in downtown Los Angeles, to appreciate his menu I ate at the restaurant on the first floor, which is actually a cafeteria. I ate a rare roast beef sandwich that was excellent. The meat was perfectly cooked, moist and tender. But what made the sandwich memorable was the addition of these slow roasted Roma tomatoes.
 Putting the slow roasted tomatoes on a sliced turkey sandwich would be awesome!

With chef Pastore, I wanted him to demonstrate his turkey pot pie, a dish he serves every day at Clifton's and o…

Quick and Easy Mac & Cheese Goes Au Naturel

Image
I remember the "blond" stage of cooking for our sons. White bread, spaghetti with butter and that store-bought, powdered flavorless Parmesan cheese and, of course, Mac & Cheese. We kept boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese in the pantry so we could make the boys food whenever they wanted.

Once they graduated from high school and left for college, we stopped making Mac & Cheese. A few months ago, I was cleaning out the pantry and found a box pushed way to the back. I think it expired in 2007.

Last week we were invited to a pot luck dinner party. For no reason in particular, the dish we were to bring was Mac & Cheese.
As classic American dishes have gotten make-overs in the past decade, restaurants now serve Mac & Cheese with lobster, Dungeness crab, shrimp, truffles, artisanal cheeses, blue cheese, heritage bacon, gruyere béchamel sauce and gluten free pasta.

For the dinner party I wanted to make a Mac & Cheese that was close to the comfort food we served the b…

The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2016 - Up Close and Personal with Chefs, Winemakers and Mixologists at the Lexus Grand Tasting

Image
You may have heard of the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival but you might not have attended. The Festival celebrated food and wine in venues in and around Los Angeles for four days, August 25-28.
In its sixth year, the Festival expanded to the West Side with events at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica and the Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica Airport.
If you have attended Barney’s twice-annual sale at the Barker, you know the cavernous space. A football field sized interior without character was transformed for the Festival. Off-white fabric was draped along the walls, giving the warehouse the feeling of a very large, very elegant tent.
Because the venue was sponsored by Lexus, there were half a dozen beautifully polished cars outside and inside the hanger.
People were dressed like people always dress in LA. Casual, very casual and red carpet premiere chic.

Local chefs from the Los Angeles area were joined by chefs from as far away as Miami to celebrate the Festival. Walking from…