Category Archives: Cooking

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata RecipeA poet, journalist, author, and gourmet extraordinaire. Ronnie Hess grew up in New York City, attended the Lycée Français de New York and Julia Richman High School, and graduated from Hunter College, the City University of New York. She earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hess began a career in broadcast journalism at Wisconsin Public Radio. In the 1980s, she was a reporter/producer for CBS News in Paris, spending nearly four years in France reporting on political, social, and cultural issues. After returning to the Midwest, she worked for Minnesota Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio and was a freelance writer/producer for the “American Justice” series that aired on A&E. Returning to UW-Madison, she became director of communications in the Division of International Studies, and taught middle school English in France during a sabbatical year.

Ronnie Hess and husband (Ron Rosner) in Lisbon. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
Ronnie Hess and husband (Ron Rosner) in Lisbon

Hess has contributed to many publications – national, regional and local – including Saveur, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Milwaukee JournalSentinel. She was restaurant critic for several years for Madison Magazine and was a freelance arts critic for The Capital Times.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata RecipeRonnie has penned two books in a series with one of our favorite publishers, Ginkgo PressEat Smart in France, and Eat Smart in Portugal (click through to read my interviews with her!). Eat Smart Guides are genius, teaching about history, culture, menus, language, and more for a country – and include recipes. They tell you how to decipher the menu, know the market foods, and embark on a Tasting Adventure. I love them, for the broad introduction to a culture through its cuisine, as well as the travel (and eating) inspiration contained therein. Highly recommended.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe

Hess travels to France and Portugal frequently – find her at MyFrenchLife and http://www.ronniehess.com

Cheese plate, Normandy (Eat Smart in France). From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
Cheese plate, Normandy (Eat Smart in France)

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Well, apart from salads, I have a few favorites: risotto, pasta and pesto, vegetable frittatas.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Yogurt. And granola in the cupboard. I make my own.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Lively conversation.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Bad manners. And not speaking.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Jacques Pépin.

In Belem's Jardim Botanico Tropical. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
In Belem’s Jardim Botanico Tropical

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Tongs.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
None of the above. It’s fish.

Favorite vegetable?
Lettuce.

Chef you most admire?
Generally, it’s not one but all. They keep long hours, are always on their feet, working in stressful and often uncomfortable conditions.

Food you like the most to eat?
Chocolate.

Chocolate cake for lunch in a restaurant in Provence. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
Chocolate cake for lunch in a restaurant in Provence

Food you dislike the most?
I like everything. Well, I’d have a hard time eating certain insects.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Water aerobics.

Who do you most admire in food?
The people who grow my food, bring it to market.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
Increasingly it’s my kitchen. Restaurants are too noisy and I can’t always count on the food.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Typically, a neighborhood restaurant, specializing in Mediterranean or an ethnic cuisine I would never cook. I love Indian food.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Nope.

In northeastern Portugal in January, snowed in for several days in the village of Montesinho. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
In northeastern Portugal in January, snowed in for several days in the village of Montesinho

 

Recipe: Vegetable Frittata

(Serves about 4 people)

vegetable frittata. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe

This is based on Mark Bittman’s recipe that was featured in the New York Times. You can vary the ingredients, depending on what vegetables you’ve got, so it’s never the same. My instructions are below but here are Mark’s.

You’ll need about 6 cups of sliced or diced vegetables. These can be raw or cooked but obviously if they’re raw, you’ll want first to add those to a large oven-safe sauté pan.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the vegetables and cook covered until almost done. (I start with onions and garlic and then add vegetables that need the most time, such as carrots, before adding green pepper or zucchini.)

Season with salt, freshly-ground pepper and any other herbs (fresh or dried).

Break 4-6 eggs in a small bowl, beat, and add to the frittata.

Cook until the eggs are set.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
midway through cooking, with mozzarella cheese on top of the partially cooked frittata

At this point I usually add feta cheese and some grated parmesan cheese and finish off the dish under the broiler.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
After grilling the cheese under the broiler. In this version I used carrots, broccoli, green and red peppers.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken RecipePerhaps you’ve found your way through time and space to The Way Station, the celebrated Doctor Who Bar in Brooklyn. Or, perhaps you’ve been tinkering with cocktails for years to find that perfect match for your fandom celebrations. Or maybe you’re just looking for a great guide to creative, intriguing cocktails. You’re in the right place, with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

Andy Heidel is the owner of The Way Station, a bar and music venue in Brooklyn, NY. As R. Andrew Heidel, he is the author of the short story collection “Desperate Moon” which features an introduction by Harlan Ellison and praise from Ray Bradbury. As a book publicist, he launched the Eos imprint and helped make Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Neal Stephenson bestselling authors while with Avon Books and HarperCollins. He turned to bar ownership when he was downsized, and hasn’t looked back since.

I love when people deeply include things they love into their lives. Such is the case with Heidel, in his work and book! The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy is a cookbook and mixing guide that is genius (here’s another interview I did with him). The recipes (over 100) for cocktails are clever – and hilarious. Whether your fandom is Game of Thrones or Doctor Who, Star Wars or Star Trek, Ghostbusters or Lord of the Rings, this universe of cocktail recipes will enliven your life – and parties. I suggest trying them while watching your favorite shows and movies, to add an extra dimension to your viewing.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
A nice dry aged, bone in porterhouse, purchased from www.fleishers.com down the street from me and cooked in my cast iron skillet.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Cheese, hot sauce, box wine, spoiled leftovers.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who sees cooking as a creative act and a devotional prayer.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who is lactose and gluten intolerant, has nut allergies, doesn’t like spice, insists on eating vegan, then orders a habanero chocolate chip nut milkshake with a side of bacon… and then gets sick.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
All, please.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Mollie Katzen. I still have my Moosewood Cookbook from 25 years ago. I think I last referred to it 15 years ago. I’m much happier making mashups of recipes and cooking on the fly.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken RecipeYour favorite kitchen tool?
My cast iron skillet, which I call “Star Killer.” (Hint: it inspired the name of this dish.) Once a star begins to fuse its elements into iron, it explodes across the cosmos. The cast iron skillet I use came from the heart of a dying star and that’s kind of awesome. Neil deGrasse Tyson, I challenge you to a Star Killer Cookoff judged by Baron Ambrosia and commentated by Eugene Mirman. Maybe at the next Astronomy on Tap at The Way Station?

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Southern Americana, Italian and let’s play: “what’s in my cupboard?”

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Anything but tofu, please.

Favorite vegetable?
My baby’s got Baby Bok, Baby Bok, Baby Bok Choy.

Chef you most admire?
Anthony Bourdain. Man, I want to drink tequila and eat bbq with that dude.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

Food you like the most to eat?
Cheese. Especially stinky soft melty brine washed cheese from Crown Finish Caves in Prospect Heights.

Food you dislike the most?
Tofu and collard greens. Also, sand.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Write with my partner and drink. Sleep. Dream of electric sheep’s milk cheese.

Who do you most admire in food?
The farm to table movement—chefs caring about where the food they are serving is coming from.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
On the couch with my partner.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I’m not telling, then everyone would go there! Secret. Shhhhh.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food, fandoms, or cocktails?
No tattoos, but I bartended an event at a tattoo parlor once, if that counts.

Recipe: Star Killer Chicken

First, make yourself a drink. I made The Divinian (my 5th Element Cocktail) before documenting this, one of my go-to recipes, then turned to a nice sauvignon blanc out of a box because I was too busy cooking to make myself another cocktail.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

YOU WILL NEED:

One large cast Iron Skillet, one large bowl, a wooden spoon, a cutting board, a sharp knife, moral fortitude, and the following ingredients:

1LB boneless Chicken Breast (two thick breasts).
3 scallions

1 head garlic

1 shallot

1 small yellow onion

8oz fingerling, purple or baby red potatoes

8oz wax beans or green beans

One bunch broccoli

2 sprigs rosemary

salt to taste
pepper to taste

Olive oil

A sense of humor

A warning about the photos: I took them with my iPhone. I was making not only dinner, but also enough leftovers so my partner has lunch to bring to work for the rest of the week.

1) Preheat oven to 425. Get an oven thermometer. I have to set my old gas oven to 560 in order to reach 425.

2) Place the cast iron skillet on stove on low and add enough olive oil to cover bottom of skillet.

3) Thinly slice shallot and coarsely chop garlic. Add to skillet. Add a little salt and pepper.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

 

4) As shallots and garlic caramelize, roughly chop broccoli, onions, potatoes, and put in bowl. Add beans and dress with olive oil, salt and pepper.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

5) When shallots and garlic are nice and brown, place in bowl with the veg and stir till everything is nicely coated in the oil, add more salt and pepper.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

6) Turn up the heat to high under skillet.

7) After a minute, add the chicken and salt and pepper on the top side.

8) After 3 minutes, turn the chicken over. It should be a nice golden brown.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

9) Add all the veg from the bowl. Place scallions over the top.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

10) After 3 minutes put the whole kit and caboodle into the oven.

11) After 20 minutes, give the veg a stir.

12) After another 20 minutes, check the temperature on your chicken with a thermometer. It should be about 145 degrees. Once it is, pull it out and put on a cutting board to rest and leave everything else in the skillet to cook. If the chicken is not at temperature, bake another 5 minutes and check again.

13) Check your potatoes with a fork. If the fork goes through easily, they’re done. If not, put back in for another 10 minutes.

14) Plate and eat and drink.

i8tonite with The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy Author Andy Heidel & Star Killer Chicken Recipe

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Author, Jam Maker, and Hotelier Jamie Schler & Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

i8tonite with Author, Jam Maker, and Hotelier Jamie Schler & Leek and Potato Soup RecipeJamie Schler writes stories inspired by food, culture, travel, and the real people she meets in real life, every day and she’s an advocate for authentic traditional French home cooking. Jamie has worked in the world of art in Philadelphia and New York, as a milliner in Milan, Italy, and gastronomic tourism in Paris. She grew up on Florida’s Space Coast but now lives in Chinon, France, where she owns and runs the Hôtel Diderot with her husband, and where she makes a whopping 1500 pounds of jam a year. An IACP award-winning writer, her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Art of Eating, Fine Cooking, France Magazine, Modern Farmer, Leite’s Culinaria, and The Kitchn, among other publications. She blogs at Life’s a Feast, and she just wrote her first cookbook, Orange Appeal, featuring her favorite fruit, the orange.

i8tonite with Author, Jam Maker, and Hotelier Jamie Schler & Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

Orange Appeal highlights one of my favorite fruits…but the one I always forget how incredible it is until I’m eating it – the orange. Schler is incredibly creative with oranges, and brings them into everyday life with ease.

I asked Schler about including oranges into our cooking and eating repertoires. She noted, “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine” was more than just a familiar television jingle, it was our mantra, emblematic of the culture of my childhood and youth. I grew up on the Indian River in Florida, famed for its citrus and one of the world’s largest producers of oranges. My first cookbook, Orange Appeal, is, in some sort, an homage to my favorite fruit, the fruit I became addicted to growing up in Florida, a central element of our food culture. But a transformation happened during the creation, development, and testing of the recipes for Orange AppealI stopped thinking of the orange as simply a fruit and began thinking of it as an astonishing and versatile staple ingredient. My recipe testers and I were just astonished at how the orange in one of its many forms (fruit, juice, zest, peel, marmalade, orange blossom water, liqueur) transformed the flavor profile of every single dish we made in such unexpected ways!”

i8tonite with Author, Jam Maker, and Hotelier Jamie Schler & Leek and Potato Soup Recipe
Moroccan Orange Slices in Orange Blossom Water

It’s hard to stop reading Orange Appeal. When I queried Schler about her favorite recipes in the book, she said, “My favorite dishes from the book? That’s tough to answer, there are so many! Maybe the Sweet and Spicy Caramelized Onion, Raisin, and Orange Compote; the Blood Orange Hummus Vinaigrette; Mediterranean Lamb Meatballs and the Curried Cod in Coconut Milk, Lime, and Orange. For sweets, the Moroccan Spiced Orange Slices in Orange Blossom Water, and the Oranges in Spiced Wine Syrup; the Orange, Ricotta, and Chèvre Tart, and the Orange-Cranberry Spiced Granola with Almonds. Is that too many?”

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Cake! Always cake! There have even been times when my family has arrived home after a long day of work and school and my answer to their “What did you make for dinner?” is “Cake!”

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Yogurt, milk, mustard and salad dressing, butter, olives and pickles, a jar of cherry jam. Packets of butter and a few out of date packets of phyllo.

i8tonite with Author, Jam Maker, and Hotelier Jamie Schler & Leek and Potato Soup RecipeWhat marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
There are 2 necessary characteristics I love in a person with whom I share a meal: real interest in and knowledge about food and a great sense of humor!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I get little pleasure out of dining with a glutton, someone who swallows down food without savoring or appreciating it.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine, of course! I have never liked beer and rarely think of a cocktail, maybe because I have lived the last 30 years in France and Italy, both wine countries!

Your favorite cookbook author?
Anna Thomas and Françoise Bernard

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A great knife and my Better Zester zester! I love a good whisk, too!

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French and Moroccan – and I have several recipes from these cuisines in my cookbook!

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Lamb! Always lamb!

Favorite vegetable?
Oh, hard question! Garden-fresh tomatoes in summer and zucchini all year round! Although I love Belgian endives and cauliflower, too. And eggplants. Is that too much to love?

Chef you most admire?
Antonin Carême

Food you like the most to eat?
Trick question?

Food you dislike the most?
Liver and offal. Ugh. I’m not particularly crazy about sorrel, either, much to my husband’s chagrin. And don’t ask me to eat overripe bananas or mealy apples.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Read. And write.

i8tonite with Author, Jam Maker, and Hotelier Jamie Schler & Leek and Potato Soup Recipe
Hôtel Diderot in Chinon, France

Who do you most admire in food?
I admire people who break barriers. There are several men on my list, from Antonin Carême, to Graham Kerr to Paul Prudhomme, but let’s concentrate (mostly) on the women. I admire the first women chefs who, against norms and misogyny, worked their way to head great kitchens in France, from women such as La Mère Brazier to Rougui Dia, Anne-Sophie Pic, and Hélène Darroze. I admire women like Anna Thomas, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Mollie Katzen, Madhur Jaffrey, Françoise Bernard, the intrepid and groundbreaking cookbook authors who inspired me, just out of college and just married, to cook and bake fearlessly and adventurously and, in extension, to begin to eat better, too.

I’ve always admired TV chefs like Graham Kerr and Julia Child, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver who brought the raw passion and casual simplicity to millions and inspired us to cook and to love cooking (even if and especially when we messed up) and sharing food with others.

I admire chefs like Virginia Willis, Kathleen Flinn, Zoë François, Sandra Gutierrez, Nancie McDermott who reach out and teach others to live better and eat better by cooking real food, local food, ethnic or regional food, those loud voices who, with grace, passion, generosity, and humor, continue to instruct and share and inspire and push forward to carry on their mission.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
Living in Europe for more than 30 years, I head straight to the nearest – and best – diner whenever I visit the States. I love a great American diner! I’ve eaten in many Michelin-starred restaurants and bouchons in Lyon and have had such sublime and truly memorable meals, but my favorite place to eat is at home when my husband (or now my son) cooks.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I’ve had some amazing and incredible meals in France, Italy, and the States. It’s hard to commit to a favorite, although I could draw up a list.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Tattoos? No, none. They are against my religion. But I’d gladly wear food-inspired jewelry!

Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

i8tonite with Author, Jam Maker, and Hotelier Jamie Schler & Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

My French husband is constantly busting those myths about French cuisine that I, as an American, have ingrained into my mind, that French home cooking is fussy, complicated and complex, and expensive. This Leek and Potato Soup proves the point: while utterly elegant and flavorful, it is simple and quick to make and absolutely thrifty. Leek and Potato Soup for Two is at once warming, comforting, and sophisticated.

3 medium leeks, whites only + 1 extra small leek for topping
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 medium potatoes (about 10 ounces / 300 g)
Olive oil and butter or margarine
50 g smoked lardons or bacon in small cubes
1 small cube vegetable bouillon (or 1/2 large cube) or enough homemade to cover vegetables (soup for 2 bowls)
Olive oil or equal parts olive oil & margarine
Salt and pepper

Prepare the vegetables by chopping the white parts of 3 leeks, the onion and 1 clove garlic.

Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Simply crush the second clove of garlic, leaving in one piece.

Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil or half oil, half butter into a soup pot.

Heat and add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for a minute or two; add the chopped leeks and bacon and a couple grindings of pepper, stir and cook “until it smells good” as the French cook told me… just a couple of minutes until the onion is transparent.

Add the potatoes and just cover with water, adding the bouillon cube, or bouillon.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat and allow to simmer gently for 15 – 20 minutes just until the potatoes are tender.

Taste, add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the soup from the heat, cover and allow to sit until dinner time (we make this about half an hour or so before dinner).

When ready to serve, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a clean skillet or pot; add a tablespoon or two each of cubes of bacon or lardons and very thinly sliced white leek; cook, stirring, until crisp.

Reheat the soup and serve topped with the crisp lardons or crumbled bacon and leek strips.

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with A Taste of Paris Author David Downie & 1691 Crème Brûlée Recipe

i8tonite with Taste of Paris Author David Downie & 1691 Crème Brûlée RecipeOne of the things I love most is to combine history and food. And no one does it better than David Downie, in his new book, A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food. In A Taste of Paris, Downie traverses time and space (cultural space, that is) to bring us the history of food in Paris over the last 2,000+ years. In doing so, he explores Paris and shares with us places from antiquity (and today), cultural changes, restaurants and reviewers, home cooks and chefs, important food people in the history of Paris, recipes, and more.

Downie, a native San Franciscan, lived in New York, Providence, Rome, and Milan before moving to Paris in the mid-80s. He divides his time between France and Italy. His travel, food, and arts features have appeared in leading print and on-line publications including Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Saveur, Epicurious.com, and Gault & Millau, the premier French food guide. He is the author of over a dozen nonfiction books, including the highly acclaimed Paris, Paris and A Passion for Paris. David and his wife, photographer Alison Harris, create custom walking tours of Paris: www.parisparistours.com. His author website is www.davidddownie.com

Downie writes, “…the city of Paris itself grew like an oyster shell, in layers, built from the intermingling of imported styles, merging the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, and so did the culture that produced the often-complicated delicacies and refined nectars Parisians and visitors adore today or prefer to fashionably disdain as unworthy of past greatness.”

i8tonite with Taste of Paris Author David Downie & 1691 Crème Brûlée Recipe

When I asked Downie about the book, he noted, “A Taste of Paris is a freewheeling, entertaining history of food, wine, and fine dining à la Parisienne. The narrative follows the cityscape, from the Ancient Roman core of Paris outwards, creating what I call a “culinary topography” covering 2,000 years. I take readers by the hand and show them Paris today, telling the city’s story as we go, which is why the book doubles as an insider’s guide to food and dining in Paris in 2017.

And what about history? Downie related, “One big question I ask is, how did gastronomy become a highbrow activity in Paris over 200 years ago and why is the love of food and wine still considered a bona fide intellectual pursuit to this day? The evolution of mere hedonism into the cult of food as high culture was spearheaded in the private dining rooms, literary salons, and pioneering restaurants of the city by a certain Grimod de la Reynière and Brillat-Savarin, two fascinating historical figures and legendary eaters. Their lives and times feature large in my book.”

A Taste of Paris is a book I couldn’t put down, a book I love, a book I’m very happy to recommend to our readers.

i8tonite with Taste of Paris Author David Downie & 1691 Crème Brûlée Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Do we have 90,000 words for this? No? Then anything with wings, lots of fat, crispy skin. Confit de canard or goose, or a perfectly roasted chicken, are hard to beat, but I can also think of 20,000 other things I love to cook at home including a casserole of vegetables and cheese baked for hours at low heat, unctuous inside, crispy on top, redolent of greens and curds.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Everything needed to feed a king and royal court. Also, at least one chilled bottle of fine white wine, often a Sancerre or Menetou-Salon, sometimes a nice little Vire’-Clesse’ from the Maconnais, hugely unrated, all of them organic needless to add.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Well, chewing with her mouth closed and wielding the flatware with skill, naturally. They are a prerequisite for undistracted, intelligent conversation, preferably about history, the arts, literature or politics, never food or wine, honestly, though, as I enter my seventh decade, reminiscences are also appreciated, in other words, I love my wife and love sharing meals with her. She is the ideal dinner partner and after 30 years get better by the day.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
The opposite of what I’ve outlined above. Above all, loudness, vulgarity, and the clumsy placing of dirty implements on the tabletop or the edge of the plate. Also I currently find it impossible to share a meal with anyone bent on defending the politics of 45. That is an act of indecency.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine, wine, always wine!

Your favorite cookbook author?
If I name a living author other than Paula Wolfert, who is not only great but a wonderful human being and a mentor, if I have such a thing, the ones I fail to name will seek to murder me with a sharp knife. How about someone long-dead and uncontroversial like Apicius or, if you insist on modernity, Massialot, for a time Louis XIVth’s valet/maitre d’ and the inventor, it is thought, of crème brulee? I give his recipe for it, with fixes, in A Taste of Paris.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
The fly swatter. Just kidding. Sort of. The mortar and pestle taken together must be among them, the whisk is another.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I’m an amateur home cook, but if I’m allowed to be immodest and you will agree to dine with me, I suppose I would make you something Italian, French, or improvised Californian, in that order.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Surely you jest? I would pay to never eat tofu again. The first three choices are equally swell. I would refer you to my earlier answer about favorites, including duck. I’ve come to love cows, so eat little beef these days and while I like pigs, I cannot resist cooking them in a thousand ways. As one of the fathers of French gastronomy, Grimod de la Reyniere, said, they are the “encyclopedic animal.” Everything in them, leaving aside the contents of their bowels, I would think, is good to eat. It’s tragic for the species but I can do nothing to save them from their own deliciousness.

Favorite vegetable?
Artichoke: a great aphrodisiac, especially if you believe in aphrodisiacs.

Chef you most admire?
Let’s go with another dead one, for safety’s sake: Raymond Olivier. He ran Le Grand Vefour at the Palais Royal in Paris for decades, had three Michelin stars when they meant something, but wasn’t smarmy or cynical, and actually did the cooking himself. He helped nudge French cuisine from the glom and goo and silly flimflam of Escoffier into the modern age. He also happened to be the first chef ever, anywhere, to have a TV show about food. That was in the 1950s, long before Julia Child who was, by the way, a huge admirer of his and a regular at Le Grand Vefour.

Food you like the most to eat?
Egad, we need another 90,000 words. Simple food, delicious, wholesome food, authentic, satisfying real food, food that tastes like food and not silly putty styled by sorcerer’s apprentices calling themselves great chefs and artists! Give me a leg of lamb roasted with rosemary and garlic, a poule au pot, a blanquette de veau, a plate of pasta alla carbonara without whipped cream for chrissakes, and no daubs of color and edible skyscrapers on an outsized designer dish!

Food you dislike the most?
See my last answer and add in processed or semi-processed karaoke cooking made by microwave practitioners serving schlock to tourists, cyborgs, and bobos born without taste buds.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Beyond making love? Walking!

Who do you most admire in food?
Without naming names, because I fear the knives and tongues of fanatical foodies: those who are modest and sincere and nurturing and do not seek to turn tables and ravish wallets or torture diners with high-stools and other discomforts for the infantilized, taken by many in the business as prerequisites to hipness, chicness and sophistication. The latter three are inimical to good eating.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At home.

What is your favorite restaurant?
If I tell you on the Internet I’ll never be able to get a table again. Read my book and you’ll go on a treasure hunt and discover all of my many favorites in Paris.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
My thumbs, in particular, are permanently stained by the juice of artichokes. If stretch marks are tattoos, then all of them are food tattoos, at least, they are caused by the overindulgence of food, and make me resemble lardo di Colonnata or perhaps some French country ham.

 

The Original Healthful Crème Brûlée Recipe au Citron Vert Recipe by François Massialot, 1691
(With a few modern tweaks in parenthesis)

 

Take four or five egg yolks, it depends on the size of your serving dish. Stir them together in a casserole (or nonreactive pot maybe) adding a generous pinch of flour (I’d skip the flour and add the four tablespoons of sugar the chef forgot to mention). Pour in two cups of milk a little at a time and keep stirring.

Add stick-cinnamon (about half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon is more practical) and (about three teaspoons) minced fresh lime zests and (the same amount of) minced candied lime zests (which don’t add much and might even subtract from the deliciousness). Alternatively use minced orange or lemon zests instead and call it Crème Brûlée à l’orange (or au citron).

To make your Crème Brûlée even more refined add (about five tablespoons) ground pistachios or almonds and a drop of orange blossom water.

Put the pot on a (medium-low source of heat on your) stovetop and stir gently, making sure your Crème Brûlée does not stick to the bottom of the pot. When the crème is cooked (nearly set without being scrambled), put a serving dish (oven-safe is best) on the medium-low stovetop, pour in the crème and continue stirring until the mixture starts to stick to the edges of the dish.

Remove to lower heat and sprinkle on lots of sugar (as much as you need to generously cover the top of the crème) in addition to the sugar already in the mixture (which chef forgot). Get a red-hot fire shovel (or maybe an iron rod or blowtorch) and scorch the (sugar on top of the) crème until the top is a beautiful golden brown.

Pin for later:

i8tonite with Taste of Paris Author David Downie & 1691 Crème Brûlée Recipe

Excerpted from A TASTE OF PARIS: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food by David Downie. © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

 

– The End. Go Eat. – 

 

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-FryWho wouldn’t love to cook like a Michelin star chef? According to Dr. Stuart Farrimond, the only way to truly uncork our culinary potential is to get a handle on the science of cooking. In his new book The Science of Cooking: Every Question Answered to Perfect Your Cooking (DK Books), he provides cooks of all abilities with a comprehensive and visually stunning guide to every question you’ve ever had on sautéing, searing, slow cooking, and more, providing the building blocks for becoming a great chef.

Specializing in food science, Dr. Farrimond is a science and health writer, presenter, and educator. He has conducted wide-ranging food science research and makes regular appearances on TV, radio, and at public events, and his writing appears in national and international publications, including the BBC, The Daily Mail, and New Scientist. Stuart is an experienced science communicator and founded the online lifestyle-science magazine Guru, which won support from the Wellcome Trust – the world’s largest medical research charity.i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

The Science of Cooking answers over 160 of the most common culinary questions, drawing on the latest research available, to give a deliciously accessible jargon-free read, full of practical know-how. He explains flavor and alcohol pairing, cooking techniques, essential equipment and more, making it the go-to book to master any dish.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Anything stir-fried. When you cook small pieces of food in a searing-hot wok, you coat them with a unique complex smoky flavor, called ‘wok hei’ (meaning ‘breath of wok’). Stir-frying is a fast and exciting way to turn out great tasting dishes. Unfortunately, most of us Western cooks do stir frying a disservice by not letting our pan get hot enough, meaning that ingredients simmer and steam, rendering them soft and oily.

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
A selection of cheeses. At a minimum, there is a super-strong mature Cheddar, something very stinky (like a traditional Camembert), and a more delicate-tasting soft cheese (like a goat cheese). Who would have thought fermented, moldy milk could taste so good?

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who can be both silly and serious.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine. Preferably red.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Ken Hom. I discovered his cookbooks while at University, and his easy-to-understand writing opened my eyes to the idea that cooking was more than simply putting frozen food in the oven. I was never taught how to cook anything other than scrambled egg when a child!

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Surely the quintessential kitchen tool is a chef’s knife? If a knife doesn’t count as a ‘tool,’ then my instant read digital thermometer is easily worth its weight in caviar.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I think good, old-fashioned stews are woefully underappreciated. With nothing more than heat, time, and a sturdy casserole dish, an inedible, rubbery joint will miraculously transform into mouth-wateringly succulent morsels that are deeply infused with deep meaty flavors. Beef bourguignon is my favorite slow-cooked meat dish. Because, let’s face it, few countries do it better than the French.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef. Good quality fillet steak, bought from a local butcher, served rare or medium-rare.

Favorite vegetable?
The humble carrot.

Chef you most admire?
The British chef Michael Caines is truly inspiring. Despite losing his right arm as a young chef in a road accident in 1994, he returned to the kitchen in just two weeks. He defied the odds by going on to become one of the world’s best chefs, winning multiple Michelin-stars and countless awards. I have had the privilege of eating at one of his restaurants several times – and his fantastically flavorful dishes are elegant and unfussy, with a focus on seasonal produce.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ice cream. Sweet, icy-cool and soft – I love ice cream so much that I have sometimes wondered whether it should be considered as a food group in its own right! (Just kidding.) The Italians and (oddly enough) the Germans know how to make truly great ice cream.

Food you dislike the most?
Pork rinds. They are a traditional British bar snack, but these pieces of deep-fried and salted pork rind are utterly repulsive. I’d rather chew on my shoe.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Cycle. The freedom of riding a bicycle on the open road on a summer’s day is hard to beat. It helps to clear the mind and the spirit.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A small eatery in the city of Bath, in the South West of England, called Menu Gordon Jones. Tuesday through Saturday evenings it opens up to serve a six course ‘surprise’ tasting menu, which is put together by the chef based on the fresh food that he has been able to source that morning. You don’t know what you are going to be served – it could be snails and chocolate bread – but it always tastes great. It is quirky and achingly stylish and has fun little touches, like flavored oil served out of test tubes.

What is your favorite restaurant?
My all-time favorite restaurant is The Dining Room restaurant at Whatley Manor. This two Michelin star restaurant is in a manor house hotel nestled in the picturesque green rolling hills of the English countryside. They understand that eating is an experience that involves all the senses and every dish is like a work of art – that tastes even better than it looks.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. Although if I were to have a food-related tattoo, it would probably have to be a strawberry. Because who doesn’t love a strawberry?

Make a stir-fry

i8tonite with Food Scientist Dr. Stuart Farrimond & How to Make the Perfect Vegetable Stir-Fry

To capture an authentic-tasting stir-fry flavor, get the wok as hot as you dare on a burner running at full-tilt. The metal should be smoking or shimmering.

Add a good slug of groundnut/peanut oil. This is the best oil for stir-frying as it can tolerate very high temperatures without burning.

Never use olive oil.

When the pan is steaming and smoking, drop in finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few moments to brown off and flavor the oil.

Now add other, ingredients chopped into equal-sized slices. Add onion first then other ingredients in small batches in quick succession – too much at once will cool the pan down. Crank up the heat and keep the food moving! Add vegetables in the order of how long they take to cook – harder vegetables first. If food starts to burn and stick, try adding some more oil. Don’t turn down the heat but instead add extra ingredients to cool the pan or momentarily lift it off the flame/hob.

If some ingredients won’t soften, add a tablespoon of water and immediately cover with a tightly fitting lid. Keep the heat up on maximum and don’t lift the lid. After a couple of minutes, everything should have been steamed to ‘al dente’ perfection.

For a ‘quick marinade’ of meat:
Place cubed chicken in a bowl and cover with equal quantities of light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil – about a tablespoon of each is sufficient for a pound/500g of meat. Add a crack of black pepper or Sichuan pepper. You can leave the meat to soak for 30 minutes in the fridge (leaving for too long can make the meat turn mealy). Mix in about a tablespoon of corn flour so that the chicken is coated. Drain off excess liquid then add to your stir-fry!

Tips:
Steaming, as is described above, is a technique known as chao (pronounced as ‘chow’, as in chow mein). Rather than using water, try adding a good splash of light soy sauce with an equal quantity of rice wine (optional). It is well worth getting hold of some rice wine as it helps gives a dish genuine flavor. When you have tried it in your cooking, you won’t go back!

Experiment with other ingredients and flavors – try adding lemon grass or Chinese Five Spice!

Dark soy sauce is a stronger tasting, stickier sauce that has been fermented for longer than light. Use it for marinades rather than for adding to a stir-fry. (‘Light’ soy sauce does not mean it has been diluted or is low in calories!) Always go easy on the soy sauce – our sense of saltiness is dulled at high temperatures and will taste saltier when served. Diners can always add more later.

When cooking meat or fish, make sure that it has been cubed or thinly sliced evenly. Don’t add meat too early to a multi-component stir fry else it will overcook. This is especially true if finishing with some ‘chao’ steaming. Instead, try cooking the meat pieces at the start with garlic and ginger until they have a nicely browned crispy coat then set aside. Add it back in with the other ingredients toward the end of cooking.

Finish your dish with a drizzle of sesame oil. For a warming, spicy kick, grind some Sichuan peppercorns. Don’t cook with sesame oil because it will smoke and burn, producing an acrid taste.

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon FrittataMatthew Dolan  is an established chef and restaurant owner who trained at The Culinary Institute of America in New York. His restaurant, Twenty Five Lusk, was named Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurant and Open Table Diners Choice Top Hot Spot Restaurants in the United States since its opening in 2010.

Dolan notes, “I am an American, aware of my Celtic roots, and I blame these roots for the passion that I carry forth in all things, especially my love of cooking and creating dynamic experiences through food. Cooking for others is a joy rewarded by seeing the enjoyment of others. Passion and care are the fundamentals of excellent food, and I am passionate about fish.”

Chef Dolan has a new venture out, one that is accessible to food lovers around the world. His new cookbook, Simply Fish, is a treasure.

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

“Simply Fish is your definitive guide to preparing seafood that is sustainable, healthy, and delicious. Matthew Dolan’s recipes are accessible and brilliant, and his stories are engaging. The bounty of the sea is here, in a book you’ll treasure.” — Drew Nieporent, restaurateur, Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Bâtard

Simply Fish explores many recipes, techniques, and secrets to delivering a restaurant-quality experience in your own home, simply through cooking fish. You’ll learn about fish, sustainability, and enjoying cooking with seafood, and get inspired by the beautiful, delicious, seasonal recipes (including no-fish desserts!). I especially love the section of each recipe entitled ‘what to tell the fish guy’ – because I think many people are stumped by fish right from the point when you need to purchase it. Genius!

Chef Dolan has also included a few stories of travel, fish, and eating that showcase his humor, quick wit, and thoughtfulness. About a sauna, swimming in the frozen sea, and the meal afterward, Dolan said, “One by one, these crazy Finns leapt in and swam about as if it was noon and they were at Club Med somewhere in the Caribbean. What else was I to do except take the plunge—literally. What a contrast as I felt my heart implode and an unexpected feeling of warmth. I thought I was dying. Then this passed and it was time to get out. Thanks to a little insane moment of ice swimming, we were ravenous and alive. At the center of the table was a beautiful arctic char, roasted whole and awaiting its place in our bellies. Dill and butter-poached potatoes, smoked whitefish, pickled herring, roasted beets, butter lettuces, caviars, and mind-blowing sour breads encircled this magnificently roasted cold-water fish. There were marinated cucumbers known as grandma’s cucumbers, sausages, wine, and beer. The inherent simplicity and care with how this feast came together would later redefine my cooking.

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Risotto, seasonally driven, usually with mushrooms.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Beer and ham. Simple staples.

Caviar+Lobster. i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata
Caviar+Lobster

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Excitement for the experience, the food, and the effort that surrounds it.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Inferior table manners. I am worried that we are losing sight of the importance of table manners. I still believe that good manners shows that we respect each other, as well as the time we have committed to one another. And speaking with food in your mouth is silly and awful…it would be nice if we stood when others join the table, but I realize this is asking too much.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer mostly, softer and gentler wines always, but I am not a tough guy who can handle heavier brown spirits, so if it’s cocktails, we are talking Dark and Stormy or a very fresh margarita – no salt nor triple sec.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Michel Roux

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Tasting spoon. The difference between good and great is determined by this tool.

i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Tough question. I’m an Irish-American with a classical French background. I employ the French and Italian, borrow from the Chinese at times, but the favorite path is driven by sustainable seafood and making the most of ethical choices that are market driven.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork.

Favorite vegetable?
Asparagus

Chef you most admire?
Pierre Gagnaire

Food you like the most to eat?
Szechuan Dumplings

Food you dislike the most?
Kidneys. Can’t do it.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Sky dive – only been once, but need to go again quickly

tuna cucumber persimmon terrine. From i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata
tuna cucumber persimmon terrine

Who do you most admire in food?
Anybody that agrees that food has the ability to take people away from their lives, their issues, and create a moment of joy. There are loads of us doing this, but those that care about the individual receiving the food first, I admire you. And we waste too much food in the USA. So if you are controlling your portion size and making efforts to reduce food waste, I admire you even more.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
There is a Korean inspired place here in San Francisco, Namu Gaji, and it has become a regular thing. They do a really good job.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I have to say, Farm Shop in Brentwood (LA), California is a very amazing and consistent place. That said, Liho Liho Yacht Club in San Francisco is a stunner, as well.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I only have accidental tattoos, or scars from burns if you will, after twenty-eight years in the kitchen. I think that they are a lot cooler and less of a time commitment. Not opposed, maybe one day?

Recipe: smoked salmon and farm egg frittata with basil, lemon, chives, and tomato

serves 4

Recipe for smoked salmon and farm egg frittata. From i8tonite with Chef and Simply Fish Author Matthew Dolan & Recipe for Smoked Salmon Frittata

what I cook at home, actually this is also from the book

10 free-range or organic eggs (if farm-direct, the flavor’s even better)
½ cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ pound Pacific or sockeye smoked salmon, sliced into thin strips
1 cup basil leaves, destemmed, torn
2 Tablespoons (½ bunch) fresh chives, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise (reserve ½ cup for garnish)
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

what to drink
Blanc de blanc champagne
Txakolina Rosé from Spain
Your favorite daytime drinking beer
Bloody Mary

what to tell the fish guy
You probably don’t need the fish guy for this one. There is usually a refrigerated case close to the fish counter that will have what you are looking for. But, if the fish guy has some smoked fish options that are not pre-packaged, you can ask where the fish is from and when it was smoked. Normally, fish will be brined or cured before smoking. If you go the prepackaged route, check the sell by date; the fresher the better.

method
Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and cheddar cheese. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the sliced smoked salmon, basil, chives, and ½ cup tomatoes. Heat a cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over high heat and add the oil and butter. Once the butter has melted and the combination begins to slightly smoke, add the contents of the mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir everything in the pan in an effort to evenly distribute the garnish throughout the egg mixture. Cook for 3 minutes and place in the oven. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggs are fully cooked. Remove from the oven and allow the frittata to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the frittata over onto a cutting board and serve.

plating
I usually cut this into pie-shaped slices. Add ½ cup of the sliced cherry tomatoes on the side to serve.

 – The End. Go Eat. – 

 

Photos copyright 2017 by Anne-Claire Thieulon

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Vineyards Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesA cursory internet search on Los Angeles wineries pulls up lists such as 10 Best Places to Go Within 50 Miles or 18 Spots to Go Wine Tasting. Although we are sure the wines are good, they don’t have the star power of, say, Napa’s Opus One or Santa Barbara’s Au Bon Climat. But, as they say, times are a changin’, and last year Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased Moraga Vineyards in the tony neighborhood of Bel-Air.  Celebrities who have resided in the area include actress Meg Ryan and rocker Avril Lavigne; Star Wars creator George Lucas recently purchased his only Los Angeles home in the wealthy community, according to Variety, at nearly $34 million. Other residents over the years have included Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Candy and Aaron Spelling. Therefore, Mr. Murdoch’s winery, once owned by Tom Jones, CEO at Northrup, and the former home of Gone With The Wind and Wizard of Oz director Victor Fleming, is probably one of the most expensive pieces of land in the United States…and possibly wine world.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesEmbedded in the Santa Monica Mountains, winemaker Scott Rich, who started the making the wines under the Jones ownership, spoke to us from his home in Sonoma, where he lives part-time, tending to his vineyards and grapes at Talisman Vineyards. He travels down to the City of Angels once a week, staying three to four nights, crafting Moraga Wines under the new owner. He says, “It’s a unique grape growing area. It’s like a refrigerator at times, as we get cold Pacific Ocean air, which is only 9 miles away. We consider it hot if it reaches more than 85 degrees.”

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

He continues, “Because of that, our wines are soft and elegant, not big and overpowering, as most associate with California.”
Rich also says that the wines they produce are from soils much like that of Bordeaux. However, true to California form, the vines sit on a fault line. “We are bisected by the Benedict Canyon fault. On one side, we have ground that was churned up two plates millions of years ago. On the south side, we have primarily uplifted sea bed. At one time, this was the Santa Monica Bay.”

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesBut at the end of the day, it’s not about the growing region so much as how they taste on the palate. Rich says, “We don’t do lots and lots of things to the fruit. We have perfect grapes, and we try not to mess them up while we craft our delicious wines.”

At the winery, the winemaking team only makes an Estate Red and an Estate Sauvignon Blanc. The white’s aromas are of peaches and nectarines, while the red is soft with currants and tobacco, which is indicative of the limestone soil. Only 10,000 bottles are produced annually, and are generally over a $100 per bottle. Not inexpensive, but it’s definitely more economical to taste the terroir in the bottle than it is to plant your mansion in the multi-million-dollar neighborhood.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

Food Questions with Winemaker Scott Rich (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Puffed Pancake with Macerated Strawberries. It’s this beautiful lemony doughy-bottomed, airy-topped steroidal (pan)cake with slightly sweet clouds of ricotta, topped with strawberries from the garden that have been soaked in Meyer lemon and Grand Marnier

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Tortillas. Coffee. Milk (plain and chocolate). Veggies. Fruit. Leftovers.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi CanapesWhat marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A love of food and flavors. The sharing part is important. Curiosity.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Lack of the above.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Do you have to make a choice? There’s a lot of territory to explore in everything.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Christopher Kimball and the whole gang at Cook’s Illustrated. They do a remarkably rigorous job of testing and tweaking recipes to arrive at the best result.

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
A sharp knife and a corkscrew.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian and California/Mediterranean. It’s all about the best, freshest ingredients, rather than the process. I have a pretty decent garden and lots of fresh produce most of the year. My go-to dish during tomato season is caprese – simple preparation, rather than cooking.

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
Yes.

Favorite vegetable?
Bok choy.

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
Daniel Patterson of Coi (and a few other ventures). Daniel is curious, creative, discerning, demanding, humble, and very thoughtful in his pursuits. His interests run the gamut from creating the finest, fussiest, artistic food in San Francisco to providing delicious, wholesome, inexpensive fare in one of L.A.’s poorest communities. Then there are his projects in the East Bay.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

Food you like the most to eat?
I’m a sucker for really good French fries. Crunchy outside, soft pillowy innards.

Food you dislike the most?
Mayonnaise.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Play.

Whom do you most admire in food?
See the question four above this one.

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink?
At home with a bunch of friends.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Coi in San Francisco for something mind-blowingly fancy and beautiful.
Pizza Azzurro in Napa for their margarita pizza and an Anchor Steam beer.
Any number of taco trucks in Sonoma.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food/wine?
No.

i8tonite: How to Put a Million Dollar Hollywood Landscape in a Bottle with Moraga Wines Winemaker Scott Rich & Recipe for Tuna Wasabi Canapes

No-Recipe Tuna Wasabi Canapes

• Pound of Ahi Tuna
• Package of won ton wrappers (found in the Asian section of your grocery store, by the tofu)
• ¼ cup of grated fresh wasabi (Japanese markets)
• Vegetable Oil
• Wok or deep skillet
• Alfalfa sprouts
• Freshly made aioli or grated garlic, mayo, and a dash of lemon juice to thin.
• Salt and Pepper

In the center of each wonton wrapper, smear some grated wasabi and alfalfa sprouts. Fold the wontons like a miniature taco and quickly fry them in about a quarter inch of oil. Drain on a paper towel. Salt and pepper the tuna and then sear in a hot pan about two minutes on each side. Cut the tuna into bite size pieces and place on a wonton. Add a dash or two of mayo for a little fat and the perfect appetizer to accompany our Moraga wines.

 

– The End. Go Eat. – 

i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Umami burger. From i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle SauceAccording to food history, the earliest known burger recipe is mentioned in a Wikipedia citation alluding to a 1798 recipe from The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy written by Nigella Lawson’s forerunner, well-known English cookery writer Hannah Glasse. In it, she refers to a “Hamburgh sausage” which is roasted and served on top of bread as her serving suggestion.

However, California took the idea and ran with it. While some 20th century chains began in Minnesota and other far-flung places such as Connecticut or Ohio, the burger became part of the surf and sand culture. Perhaps it was because of the portable ease of the sandwich, but chains such as Bob’s Big Boy, In-n-Out, and the grand-daddy of them all, McDonald’s, were conceived in the Los Angeles metro area. This truncated past of ground chuck meets roll leads us to Adam Fleischman, who in 2007 essentially revitalized the patty culture for today’s standards.

i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle SauceIt’s a familiar script; an East Coaster comes to Los Angeles like so many starving artists before him. However, Fleischman is different. His medium isn’t film, and he isn’t an actor. He’s an entrepreneur, and his business is the stove. Like many food inventors before him, he had minor success with dabblings in wine and other dining experiences around the city.

In an October 2016 Inc. Magazine article, he states, “I was trying to start a business around umami, a savory flavor that’s found in every country’s cuisine. Basically, I Googled the foods highest in umami and took out my cast-iron pan and improvised a recipe with some ground beef. The concept of the restaurant was also quick. I just wanted to make Umami Burger gourmet, an adult place that had waiters and served alcohol.” And the Umami Burger was born. With progeny gaining ground in Dubai and Tokyo, the more than two dozen locations have made Fleischman a million many times over.

800 Degrees Pizza. From i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Now he is a “passive” owner stealthily building new concepts and food ideas, such as 800 Degrees Pizza (which he sold), and most recently, the Culver City-based Ramen Roll, which closed after four months.

Regarding the original Los Angeles location of Umami Burger, Fleischman commented, “We opened on La Brea because it had a lot of potential. It was languishing. It was risky, but this area seemed like a good bet.”

On the future of food, Fleischman said, “I think food is changing. I think the internet has made everything sort of cross-cultural. It used to be that people would only make the food in their town. Now, people have more information and access to recipes.”

i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle SauceFleischman talked to i8tonite while in his Los Angeles office, located behind his Hancock Park home, mentioning that he had a couple of new food ideas in the future…and a cookbook, too.

Food Questions (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I like to cook Italian food at home. I make everything.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
I always have club soda for cocktail making. And, lemons and limes.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I only share meals with people who don’t have dietary restrictions. They have to be drinkers. They can’t be sober.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I won’t invite anyone I don’t like. I’m picky about who I eat with.

Umami burger. From i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
I’m a mixologist and a sommelier, so wine and cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Paul Bertolli. He has a great cookbook.

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
My cast-iron pan. You can cook anything in it. It retains heat well.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French, Italian, American, and Spanish.

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
Seafood.

Favorite vegetable?
Artichokes.

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
Heston Blumenthal. He is such a technical brilliant chef.

Food you like the most to eat?
Moroccan and Indian.

Food you dislike the most?
I like everything if it’s cooked well.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Driving.

Whom do you most admire in food?
Everyone, really.

pumpkin spice latte umami burger. From i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink?
Copenhagen.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I like Castagna in Portland.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Zero tattoos.

Recipe: Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

i8tonite with LA’s 21st Century Burger King, Adam Fleischman & Recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

Chipotle Sauce:
Take two large, ripe tomatoes (heirloom), half an onion and three small cloves of garlic and broil until dark. Blend with two dried chipotles, reconstituted in ¼ cup water and some sherry vinegar and s/p. Strain and blend with meat juices from shredded beef.

Shredded Beef: 
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) beef brisket flat, chuck or any well marbled beef.
1 ancho or New Mexico dried chile, stemmed and seeded
I small diced onion onion
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add oil and brown the beef on all sides. Pour off as much oil as possible.
Just barely cover the meat with water. Bring to a boil.
Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
Add remaining ingredients.
Cover the pot and place it in the oven until the meat is tender about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the meat, reserving broth.
When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it. Hold a fork in each hand, and shred the beef with the forks.

Serve in griddled tortillas and top with grated cotija cheese.

– The End. Go Eat. –  
Recipe photo courtesy and copyright Wikimedia Commons: helmadatter

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupThanks to the entertainment industry, the City of Los Angeles creates opportunities arguably better than most cities in the United States. Case in point is the The Lucques Group, headed by chef Suzanne Goin and her business partner Caroline Styne, who has been the sommelier and wine director for the company since its inception.

A scant 20 years ago, there still weren’t many women who owned restaurants. Of course, Josie La Blach had her eponymous Santa Monica eatery. We also can’t forget the Border Grill ladies, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feininger. Nancy Silverton was baking bread and scones at La Brea Bakery, and Joan McNamara, a caterer turned restaurateur, are about a few of the holdovers from the previous century.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

Started in 1998, the now legendary Lucques was a success cementing at least the future of the two young women at the helm, Goin, in front of the stove, and Styne, managing the business and front of house and beverage direction.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupFormer Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbilia noted in her 2009 review of their Brentwood Larder, “Styne and Goin are the food world’s equivalent of Lerner and Loewe or Leiber and Stoller. Everything they do just seems to work effortlessly. The two share a certain sensibility and aesthetic. At any of their restaurants, there’s a sense of comfort and sensuality, contemporary rustic cuisine and warm but crisp service, and enticing environment. But most of all, they each have a strong sense of place.”

Ms. Styne, along with Ms. Goin, are native Angelenos, which is as hard to find as needle in a haystack. Both exude the clean living of a California life, but Ms. Styne was the epitome of West Coast style at a recent Hollywood Bowl media event. She appeared nonplussed by the media attention around her and her partner. In LA style, she smiled for the camera in a black and white herringbone frock perfect for the chill air on the stage of the arena. A glass of white swirled in her hand as the lightbulbs burst; she looked elegant and fit.

In her blog, Styne on Wine, she noted, “At my home, I played the role of wine steward and service captain. I would set the table, open the bottles of Bordeaux and pour wine for my guests throughout dinner.”

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupNow as part owner of one of the most thriving restaurant businesses in Los Angeles, with not one but five restaurants, a James Beard nominee, and catering for the Hollywood Bowl, Styne is a quintessential L.A. person living out their California dream in food and wine!

Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I’m the vegetable and grain cook in our home. My husband does the grilling because I’m the least comfortable with that. I love roasting or sautéing vegetables, making salsas and other yummy sauces to spoon over them.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
We always have Greek yogurt, olives, an array of cheeses, and wine!

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I love sharing a meal with people who love food and like trying new things. I don’t necessarily need to discuss each morsel and aspect of the food to death, but I like to know that I’m with someone who appreciates food and the art of cooking.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I don’t love eating with people who are uber picky or don’t love or appreciate food. It makes me feel uptight and uncomfortable. I’d rather just meet that person for coffee.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupBeer, wine, or cocktail?
There is a time and place for all three, but usually cocktails and wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Suzanne Goin

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
Breville Citrus juicer

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Indian and Mediterranean

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
Chicken and seafood…love pork, too

Favorite vegetable?
Romanesco

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
Jose Andres….great chef, great attitude, great humanitarian.

Food you like the most to eat?
Cheese – all kinds, from all milks in all shapes and sizes

Food you dislike the most?
Offal…just not into it

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
I’m big on physical fitness. I really like to keep active and actually enjoy walking, jogging, and just moving my body. I also love fashion in too big a way.

Whom do you most admire in food?
Danny Meyer

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink?
I think Italy is one of the most fun and satisfying places to enjoy food and wine.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupWhat is your favorite restaurant?
If I’m not at home, I really love eating at my restaurants. I obviously love the food and the drinks. Suzanne and I always try to create restaurants that we ourselves would like to patronize, so I guess we’ve succeeded in that respect

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos…I’m boring that way.

Recipe: Asparagus and Proscuitto

Recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. To drink, Styne recommended in a William Sonoma blog post, “You can never wrong with champagne or rosé. I think both say, “Party!” and can take you from appetizers to dessert.”

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

Ingredients:
• 1¼ pounds asparagus, pencil-thin variety
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
• ½ cup creme fraiche
• 12 thin slices prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele
• ½ lemon, for juicing
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:
Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before you’re ready to cook.

Snap the ends off the asparagus to remove the tough woody portion. Toss the asparagus on a baking sheet with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some pepper.

Stir the mustard and crème fraîche together in a small bowl, and set aside.

When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, drape the prosciutto over a platter. Grill the asparagus 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly charred and tender.

Arrange the asparagus on the prosciutto and drizzle the mustard crème fraîche over the top.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks
credit Sanna-Mari Jäntt

Few people are experts, but then there are folks, like cookbook author and opera professional Fred Plotkin, who are knowledgeable on many topics. A native New Yorker, Plotkin became a student of opera while in college, working with various classical musicians and mentors, such as late mezzo soprano and director of the Lyric Opera House, Ardis Krainik, and well-known Broadway lighting designer Gilbert Helmsley. Always found in the back or front of the house, Plotkin has never graced the stage but has written compelling articles on the singing subject in books and articles. His bestselling and definitive tome Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera, leads the pack for appreciation on the vocal art form. His literary essays have been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Daily Telegraph, to name but a few.

Apart from being a fount of operatic history and knowledge, Plotkin, who has traveled to Italy since the early 1970s, has become a resource for all edible things in Italy. In the nineties, he wrote arguably the greatest book on eating throughout the peninsula, called Italy for the Gourmet Traveler (Kyle Books), making him a famous food person on this side of the Atlantic.

He recalls, “Italy, being the birthplace of opera, was a must (life experience) for me. Of course, eating and learning about the regional food became another obsession.”

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks
credit Lana Bortolot

The book is currently in its fifth edition and, rightly, has become a must for all gourmands traveling to the boot country. Although still known as an expert on classical singing, Plotkin has become a foremost authority on Italian cuisine as well, penning another five bestselling and award-winning books including Recipes from Paradise: Life and Food on the Italian Riviera, The Authentic Pasta Book, and La Terra Fortunata: The Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. After writing about opera for many papers and magazines, Plotkin now finds himself interviewed about on all things epicurean, appearing in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast, and other leading food publications.

Plotkin can be found discussing his first love — all things opera — on Manhattan’s WQXR. And, in his New York City home, he resides in the kitchen with his mistress – Italian cuisine — making some of the best regional food from the country.

Food People Questions (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Everything Italian

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Parmigiano-Reggiano; Organic eggs; Sweet butter; Greek yogurt; Austrian apricot preserves; Organic Italian cherry nectar; Whole organic milk; Prepared mustard; Still water; Oranges; Lemons; Limes

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
The actual savoring of the food or drink being consumed.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Trendy, faddish foodiness, with no real awareness of what a food or ingredient means.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Carol Field

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Spade for cutting Parmigiano-Reggiano

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian; everything made with fruit.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Fish and seafood!

Favorite vegetable?
Spinach

Chef you most admire?
Michael Romano

Food you like the most to eat?
Pasta

Food you dislike the most?
Sardines

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Opera

Whom do you most admire in food?
Organic farmers; Seed-savers; anyone who provides sustenance to those who need it.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A tie: Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Liguria, two of Italy’s finest food regions.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Ristorante San Giorgio in Cervo (Liguria), Italy

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None. If I did, it would be of a bunch of cherries

Scrambled Eggs Recipe

i8tonite with Food Person Fred Plotkin: Opera Expert and Author of Six Cookbooks

One of the most difficult things to prepare, and among the most gratifying when done correctly, are scrambled eggs. Doing it right required LOTS of practice. Here is what I do:

Break two large or extra large eggs into a chilled glass bowl, taking care to not get any shell into the eggs. Beat the eggs only until yolks and whites combine. Do not overbeat. Fold in any added ingredient, such as small dollops of scallion cream cheese or a grated cheese, such as cheddar or gruyere. Do not beat the egg mixture if you are adding ingredients. Instead, give the mixture a quick stir.

Melt 1 tbsp. sweet butter in a non-stick pan over the lowest heat possible. This should be a pan you only use for eggs and nothing else. Add the egg mixture, let it set for about 15 seconds. Then, using a non stick (and non metal) spatula, gently move the eggs about, occasionally stopping for a few seconds to let them set. Keep nudging them and sliding them in the pan. No violence…no intense heat, no flipping, no active stirring. Gradually the eggs will come to the degree of doneness you desire and then slide them out of the pan and onto the plate. By cooking slowly, you allow the flavor of the added ingredients to permeate the eggs and also achieve the same temperature as the eggs.
– The End. Go Eat. –