Category Archives: Female Chefs

i8tonite with Chef Jennifer Hill Booker & Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes Recipe

i8tonite with Chef Jennifer Hill Booker & Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes RecipeChef Jennifer Hill Booker’s culinary path has not always been a linear one. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Tulsa before graduating first in her class, eighteen months later, with an Associate of Occupational Science from Oklahoma State Institute of Technology. Extensive travel while married to an United States Army Officer pushed Jennifer to blaze a trail that fit her unique situation-a female African American chef, living abroad – as a result, Your Resident Gourmet was born.

During her time living in Germany, Jennifer honed her culinary talents by providing cooking classes for both military and German families. She was also able to fulfill a lifelong dream of attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Paris, where she once again graduated top of her class.

i8tonite with Chef Jennifer Hill Booker & Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes Recipe

Twenty years later Jennifer finds herself once again blazing culinary trails as she wears many culinary hats as chef, cookbook author of Field Peas to Foie Gras and Dinner Deja Vu, reality TV personality, culinary educator, and business owner.

She is a Georgia Grown Executive Chef for the GA Department of Agriculture, the Culinary Explorer for the Georgia Department of Tourism and Travel, is the founder of Southern Divas of the New South™ Dinner Series, and currently sits on the James Beard Foundation Food Waste Advisory Council.

Weaving her love of traditional Southern cuisine with her belief in incorporating healthy, seasonal foods and her classic French training, Chef Jennifer created a unique style of cooking that she termed Modern Southern Healthy Cuisine with a French Accent. Chef Jennifer shares this brand of cooking through her cooking segment ‘Chef Jenn to the Rescue’, on CBS46’s Atlanta Plugged In, with original recipes in such publications as Garden & Gun and Essence Magazine, as well as her Food Network debut as a finalist on Cutthroat Kitchen.

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Professionally for 20+ years. As a novice, I’ve been cooking since around 7-when I got my first Holly Hobby Oven.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I love to mesh Southern and French ingredients and cooking techniques together to get what I call Modern Healthy Southern Cuisine with a French Accent. It’s not Creole or what’s typically found in New Orleans-I think it’s more Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama style Southern with classical French mixed in. So more fresh seasonal produce, farm raised meat and poultry, and lots and lots of layered flavors. I don’t use much roux, hot spices, or heavy sauces in my food. It’s my foundation and what I use approach everything I approach-like black eyed pea hummus or a cassoulet with smoked ham hocks and salt pork.

i8tonite with Chef Jennifer Hill Booker & Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes Recipe
Fried Chicken Livers

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Eggs, cream, butter, some type of cheese, capers, olives, and bacon. I can make almost everything from those ingredients.

What do you cook at home?
I’m a Southerner at heart. Nothing makes me happier than cooking a pot of beans with a ham hock or ham bone thrown in. I also love greens-either cooked or served as a salad.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Customers that are adventurous eaters and LOVE food! They are a joy to cook for.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Those who give you the wash list of their dietary ‘restrictions’. You’re a grown up, you know what you can and cannot eat.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Oh my gosh-this is a good one! I grew up on Tupperware but when I got my own place, I couldn’t afford it! Now I use a mix of Rubbermaid and Lexan –  which is commercial kitchen storage brand that ends up in my home kitchen. I do like the glass Pyrex casserole dishes with the snap on lids-how clever is that!?

i8tonite with Chef Jennifer Hill Booker & Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes Recipe
Making cocktails

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktails in polite company-but I really prefer my booze on the rocks. It tastes pure and without any pesky calories from mixers.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I like recipes that work-and Ina Garten’s always do. For inspiration, I have to have lots of bright juicy pictures in the cookbooks I read- and the Culinaria cookbook series are beautiful. But my all time favorite cookbook? Julia Child. She explains her recipes, no matter how arduous, and soldiers through.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Hands down a rubber spatula. You can stir, fold, mix, sauté, and scrape! Scraping the bowl, pot, or pan clean is near and dear to my heart because it prevents waste, you get that last bite that can make or break a portion, and it Saves Money. Why wash food down the drain when you can scrape it out and eat it?!

Your favorite ingredient?
Garlic. I Love Garlic. It adds aroma and enhances the flavor to a dish-and can be strong and pungent or soft and sweet.

Your least favorite ingredient?
I don’t have a least favorite, but I am totally over Kale.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Peel shrimp and clean the oven. I still have scars on my fingers for the thousands of pounds of shrimp I’ve peeled over my culinary career. I just hate taking the time to clean the oven! It takes smoke and a small fire in the oven to compel me to finally clean it.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
My all time go to favorites are Southern, Classical French, and Mediterranean (which for me is just a way to cook everything that has tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic in it). I also get excited by what’s in season or a style of cooking. I went through a period where I grilled everything-fruit, pizza, bones for stock!

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
This is a hard one. I’m going to go with pork. You can coax so many flavors and textures from pork that it never gets boring.

Favorite vegetable?
If I had to eat one vegetable for the rest of my life . . . I guess it would be brussels sprouts. They taste like broccoli and cabbage and are so versatile I’d never get bored.

Chef you most admire?
I have a chef crush on Anthony Bourdain-mainly because of his bad boy imagine and he knows his stuff! A dear friend of mine, Chef Joe Randall, has my unwavering admiration. He’s been cooking as an Executive Chef for 40 years. He’s run kitchens (both North and South), written cookbooks, owned a cooking school, mentored young chefs, and currently runs the African American Chefs Hall of Fame in Savannah, Georgia, and unapologetically promotes Southern cuisine. None of which are easy-especially for a proud Black man in America.

Food you like the most to eat?
I’m all about the savory!

I love big flavors that range from my Mother’s turkey & dressing to roasted tomatoes and garlic with fresh basil and shaved parm or a muffuletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans that I smuggle home and bake in a cast iron skillet with another skillet pressing it down. Now I’m hungry!

Food you dislike the most?
Cauliflower-how can it be a vegetable when it’s white?? It’s almost like broccoli’s twin sister, while broccoli is popular and has personality, cauliflower is bland and boring and hoping people will like her.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I have 2 tattoos. One is food and it’s also my Zodiac sign . . . I’ll let you figure that one out.

 

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes Recipe

i8tonite with Chef Jennifer Hill Booker & Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes Recipe

i8tonite with Chef Jennifer Hill Booker & Pimento Cheese Stuffed Potatoes Recipe

 

– The End. Go Eat. – 

My Favorite Dishes of 2016

As 2016 began, it was planned that Nick, me and the kids — Holly, the 11-year-old pitbull and our 7-year-old Frenchie, JJ — were moving to Denver from Phoenix. Our intention after twelve months in the Sonoran Desert was to relocate to the Mile High City for his work. Our last stop was the Rocky Mountains. However, after all that, we have found ourselves back in Southern California, where we had originally started. Not in Los Angeles – coming full circle — but in Newport Beach, behind the Orange Curtain. Still for Nick’s work, but with a fluffier job description.

It’s a good location for us. Far from the histrionics of the world’s entertainment capital. Yet, we discuss missing Camelback Mountain rising out of the valley, the vast blue skies and, of course, the food. Phoenix taught me that good eating can be found anywhere if you are looking for it. It doesn’t have to be in one of the anointed culinary islands such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

While living in Phoenix, I discovered deep blended roots of Mexican and Native American food. Indeed, it’s common for local hunters born of Mexican descent to shoot game such as moose or elk during the holiday season. The braised meat is then turned into Christmas tamales and frozen to eat throughout the year. It’s a practice that goes well beyond the area’s 114 years as a state. Originally, Mexican settlers joined with the natives crafting unique food and then in turn, became Americans when the 48th state entered the Union.

I bring this up because I read a well-known restaurant writer’s suggestions of “best food trends”. In her lengthy piece, she proffered gastronomic extravagances in Copenhagen, Paris, and of course, the Big Apple which is where she is based. I can always choose what is great elsewhere, from Singapore to Argentina, France to Greece. However, I think it’s our duty to describe what is “great” in America. Our culinary prowess is the myriad of cultures creating our nation – borrowing from here and there, making our own indigenous taste profiles such as fried chicken, pot roast or apple pie. Derived from other places, but made here crafting American comfort. We need to recognize that we are great, looking only to our dinner tables.

Unlike the writer, who travels often, I didn’t get on a plane this year except a roundtrip to Vegas and Phoenix. After almost two dozen countries and nearly 250 cities, I’m not big about getting on planes anymore; plus, I love the dining scene in smaller cities such as Phoenix, Portland and even in Orange County, California. They aren’t massive but what’s cooking is robust and lively.

As go into the new year, as a nation, we have dreamed up all types of unique food – Mexican-Korean tacos, Japanese sushi with Brazilian flavors, Thai with Texas BBQ– turning it into one melting pot of goodness. The ingredients simmering on the American stove is where we have always been welcoming, tasting little bits of this and adding some of that. Authentic American flavor is made from our fusion of cultures right here at home and it’s always been great.

Hoja Sante stuffed with Mennonite Cheese, Gran Reserva Barrio Café : Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza (Phoenix, Arizona).

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza should be a nationally recognized chef and it’s a shame she’s not. She is a proud Mexican American born in the United States and is un-WASP-like most Food Network stars such as Giada, Rachel or even Paula Deen.  At her five restaurant mini-empire based in Phoenix, her cooking is Mexican but with European techniques. At Gran Reserva Barrio Café, her new restaurant which opened in spring 2016, Esparza’s creativity is evidenced in the simplicity of a melty hunk Mexican Mennonite cheese, wrapped burrito-like in a large hoya sante leaf and served with two smoky chili pastes. Simple. Traditional and yet still other worldly.

Image result for Hoja Santa Gran Reserva Arizona Latinos

The indigenous plant is not commonly found north of the border, and when it is, it’s usually used in stews and braises. Esparza uses it whole, instead of strips, allowing the anise flavor to compliment the queso’s milky texture. The venomous bite of the peppers is nulled by the dairy and leaving only smokiness. Texturally, the crunch of the leaf, emission of creaminess and a nullified heat is eye-opening. As I sat eating the dish, along with interviewing the Phoenix-based chef for Arizona Latinos, she imparted the history of the Mexican Mennonites and how they are still important to the agriculture of the country.

This gooey delicious dish is modest, and that’s what makes it brilliant.

Chicken Liver Pasta, Sotto:  Chef Steve Samson (Los Angeles, CA)

On a media tasting invite, I went through a selection of items chosen by Chef Steve Samson at his almost six-year-old restaurant Sotto. The cozy space is inviting with blue walls, wooden tables and chairs as is Mr. Samson, who is one of the kinder cooks in the culinary world.

Going through his menu, which is all yummy the standout, became the housemade Rigatoni tossed with Chicken Livers, Parmigiana Reggiano and Porcini. It’s a daring dish for Angelenos to embrace. First, there are the carbohydrates but second the livers aren’t normally found on regular menus much less Italian. Having traveled often to Italy, I didn’t recall pasta and innards used in this way and asked Samson where it was based. It was his unique twist on the typical Bolognese ragu. Instead of throwing away something tasty, he invented this earthy and rustic dish. I’m not fond of chicken livers – and I don’t know many people who are – but this I would eat every day for the rest of my life.

 

Jardineros (Garden) Tacos, Taco Maria: Chef Carlos Salgado (Costa Mesa, CA)

Taco Maria is a high-end eating experience much like the Rick Bayless’ chain Red O or even Phoenix’s independent Barrio Café (see above). White tablecloths, waiters with crumbers and sparkling water served in wine glasses, my type of my place, where a diner feels special. Located inside a mall within a mall, it is an indoor-outdoor space which is a good showcase for the unique tastes presented by Chef Carlos Salgado.

Much has been written about Salgado and for good reason, his fusion of California agricultural and Mexican cooking produce, arguably the country’s best tacos. Ordering a la carte during lunch, there are a five varieties of the national south of the border food: chicken, beef, pork,  fish and vegetarian. Exceptional eats every single one, wrapped with the housemade delectable blue corn tortillas found only at Taco Maria. (B.S. Taqueria gets their masa from here too.) The standout is clearly the vegetarian (jardineros) made with shitake mushroom chorizo, a crispy potato and queso fundido. Separately, each one would make a great filling but together, they create something truly different. The minced fungi spiced with traditional south of the border flavorings texturally give the chorizo a meat-like consistency. However, it’s the flavor which is a standout.

Pasta dishes, Tratto: Chef Chris Bianco (Phoenix, AZ)

Legendary chef Chris Bianco is  renowned for Pizza Bianco. Matter of fact, his pizzas have been called the best in the world by former “Vogue” food writer Jeffrey Steingarten. Therefore, when someone invites you to Tratto, his new restaurant which opened in early summer 2016 in the same mall as his world-renowned pizzeria, you go – but not for his pizzas. At his new space, he has opened his creativity to showcase other goodness derived from Arizona farmers; mostly notably, the wheat growers.

Bianco does everything else but pizzas. Old-fashioned, Italian food but a real display of southwestern growers. I don’t mean peppers, tomatoes and cheese but bold pairings such as beets and gorgonzola roasted in a fig leaf. All ingredients are sourced from the 48th state, crafting Italian food. Don’t question it but eat his handmade pastas which are carefully crafted by Bianco. Get off the carb diet and have a bit of heaven.

Beef Tenderloin with Mole Negro, Talavera at Four Seasons Scottsdale: Chef Mel Mecinas (Phoenix, Arizona)

To reiterate, I’ve listed the dishes I’ve eaten over the course of the year which I remember fondly. Eating them, at the restaurant, the conversations around them and how good they are. Nothing comes as close to Chef Mel Mecinas and his mole negro and beef tenderloin.

Mole is probably one of the world’s most difficult sauces to make. Consisting of more than two dozen ingredients ground and simmered into a liquid, resulting in something edible which is complex, luscious and fortifying. Fish is too delicate for the earthiness but lean cuts of meat provide a great experience to taste the Mexico pottage which is what diners get at Talavera under the capable hands of Chef Mecinas.

Unfortunately, he no longer works at the restaurant where he was the Executive Chef for more than a decade. Greener pastures beckoned. However, one day I hope the world gets to eat his extraordinary mole.

 

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash​ Recipe

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash RecipeFor over 25 years, Annie Mahle has honed her craft with both knife and pen. Annie and her husband, Captain Jon Finger, run the Maine windjammer, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin. Not only is Annie a maritime captain, she also is the captain and chef of her galley, where she has been cooking meals on her cast iron wood stove, Lucy. In the winter, she continues to create new recipes and shares them on her recipe and lifestyle blog, At Home & At Sea. Her third cookbook, Sugar & Salt: A Year At Home and At Sea – Book Two is the second in a series of cookbooks featuring a collection of recipes, crafts, thoughts, and stories from Chef Annie’s adventurous life on the coast of Maine.

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash Recipe
Lucy

Chef Mahle notes, “In Sugar & Salt, I share more memories, stories, and recipes that are inspired by my life on the coast of Maine. Whether it’s through my cooking, crafts, or gardening, I’m always creating, and I hope that this book will be a inspiration for the reader.”

 

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash Recipe

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
My first cooking memory is of canning tomatoes with my grandma in her kitchen. Several years later, I had a love affair with chocolate chip cookies. I started cooking professionally after I graduated from college and haven’t looked back!

What is your favorite food to cook?
Anything from the garden but kohlrabi.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Half and half, kale, leftovers.

What do you cook at home?
All of the comfort food.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
I love someone who is willing to try something new. Like oysters. And really savor that first bite.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Boorish or selfish sorts who are unaware of how much airtime and space they take up.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Ball jar.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine. Red. Although I do love creating new cocktails.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Lori Colwin, Laura Brody, Dorie Greenspan. I wish I liked James Beard more.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My santoku. One day I wasn’t thinking and used the tip to pry something open. Rookie move. The tip broke. But then Jon, my husband, ground the tip down to look like a blunt sailor’s knife and I love it.

Your favorite ingredient?
Flour. Or eggs. They can become so many creations.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Kohlrabi. Hate it.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Clean.

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash RecipeFavorite types of cuisine to cook?
The type you eat with family and friends.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork. Flavor, flavor, flavor.

Favorite vegetable?
A ripe tomato picked just off the vine on a warm summer day.

Chef you most admire?
Is it a cliché if I say Julia Child? Well, it’s true.

Food you like the most to eat?
I’m loving poached eggs, kale, and avocado for breakfast right now.

Food you dislike the most?
Food that is too clever for its own good. The sort that looks like the height of art on the plate, but leaves you still feeling hungry and wishing for a burger.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I’ve never gotten a tattoo, but my crew has poked at me for years to get one. I think a tattoo would bore me after a time. If I did get one, it would be a ring of a knife, fork, and spoon around my wrist or bicep.

Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash with Poached Eggs and Asparagus Recipe

i8tonite with Maine Windjammer Chef Annie Mahle & Pork, Potato, and Parsnip Hash Recipe

Hash is usually made with leftover meat or fish from a previous meal. Feel free to substitute beef, pollock, or other flavorful fish in place of the pork.
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1⁄2 cups diced parsnips, peeled; about 2 parsnips
5 cups diced red potatoes; about 11⁄2 pounds or 6 potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion; about 1 medium onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic; about 1 clove garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1 pound cooked pork shoulder or other tender pork meat, pulled apart with a fork into bite sized pieces
1 pound asparagus, ends cut or snapped off; about 1 bunch
Poached Eggs
Herbed Salt (recipe below)

Directions:
Place the parsnips and potatoes in a wide saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes or until tender when poked with a fork. Remove from water with a basket strainer or slotted spoon and set aside. Keep the water hot for the asparagus. In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and onion. Sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the parsnips, potatoes, salt, and pepper and cook until the potatoes begin to brown. Add the pork and sauté until the pork is warm. Remove from heat and cover.

Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute or until the asparagus is tender. Timing will vary with the thickness of the stalks. Remove from water with tongs, transfer to a platter and cover. To the same pot of water, add the vinegar (from Poached Egg recipe) and poach the eggs. Plate the hash, asparagus, and poached eggs and sprinkle the eggs with a pinch of Herbed Salt.

Herbed Salt
Makes about 2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1⁄2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Store in a glass jar indefinitely.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and Owner of STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

22i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger RecipeWith a deep breath, I called…a vegan chef. Not knowing what to expect, I was surprised by the endless laughter we shared, and gained a new appreciation for a plant-based diet. But I get ahead of myself….

Rooted deep in the St. Louis food and wellness scene, chef Caryn Dugan is STLVegGirl, a plant-based nutrition and culinary educator with a simple mission, “A Plant on Every Plate™.”

Caryn notes that the A Plant on Every Plate concept is not judgy or difficult, but an easy way to incorporate healthier eating at your own pace. She says, “Eating only plants is not only eating something green – beans, grains, seeds, even cocoa beans (think chocolate!) – plants come in all different forms. However, greens are the most nutrient dense foods. You can be so creative with eating what comes out of the ground. It’s the most healthy way to live, nourish, and thrive.

Caryn adopted a plant based diet in response to tragedy; in 2008, cancer took her father at an early age and ten weeks later, tried to take her. In response to her diagnosis, she searched for an answer and found one in the growing body of literature supporting a whole food, plant-based diet to bolster our natural immune system. Adopting a vegan diet herself and beating cancer, she sought to share her knowledge to help others.

In 2011, Caryn studied in Washington, DC, under the direction of Neal Barnard, MD, at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) Food For Life program, becoming a certified instructor. Bringing this knowledge home, she teaches immune boosting, plant-based cooking classes at the Cancer Support Center of St. Louis for the benefit of others who have, like her, met cancer at the door.

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger RecipeCaryn went on to form STLVegGirl, LLC, St. Louis’ first fully plant based entity providing cooking instruction, personal cheffing, and catering services, regularly appears in cooking segments on local television morning shows, and teaches cooking classes in many locations around the St. Louis area.

What I love most about Caryn’s approach to cooking and teaching healthy eating is that she’s not the Vegan Police. Instead, she inspires us to incorporate nourishing, healthy foods into our lives. And when I asked for her best tip for someone wanting to move toward putting a plant on every plate, she said, “start with whatever you already have in your fridge and pantry, because those are going to be the most familiar foods to you. Don’t make it hard on yourself. Make the food you already like, and veganize it.”

She started slowly herself, moving from a microwave and frozen-meal diet to learning and researching – and teaching – how nourishing, healthy foods can change your meals – and your life. She worked hard on gaining certificates and education because she didn’t want to lead people down the wrong path with her work – she wants them to learn, eat, and say, “WOW! That was totally worth my time and my money.”

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

Perhaps our loudest laughs came from learning about her biggest pet peeve – the phrase “Vegan Food.” Caryn said, “It’s just food!!! It’s just real food. It feeds into that view of vegan as unattainable and hippie. Just because you change what’s on your plate doesn’t mean you have to uproot your entire life. You’re just using real food…not food that is processed, crazy, or something you can’t say or spell. This can be very simple stuff.” Indeed.

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

 

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since 2008.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I enjoy seeking out the new food trends and then making them into plant-based dishes.

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger RecipeWhat do you always have in your fridge at home?
I’m often trying new recipes for a TV segment, cooking class, or to post on my website, so you’ll typically find random ingredients.

What do you cook at home?
If I’m not in work mode – I usually one-pot meal our nights. You might call them kitchen sink nights: open the fridge and freezer and start pulling things out and throwing them in a large pot. You’d be amazed at how many recipes have come out of nights like this.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
The one who wants to learn.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
The one who has no time for “rabbit food.”

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine!

Your favorite cookbook author?
Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My husband bought me a NHB Knifeworks Chef Knife for Christmas and I LOVE it!

Your favorite ingredient?
It varies, right now I’m using a lot of tahini paste and dates are high on the list too. Adding one more: fresh rosemary from the garden – does anything smell nicer?!

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

Your least favorite ingredient?
Eggplant

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Clean the stove

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I love experimenting with making the perfect veg burger

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Tofu

Favorite vegetable?
Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes tie for first place

Chef you most admire?
Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows

Food you like the most to eat?
Veg Burger

Food you dislike the most?
Mushy eggplant

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No ink

Recipe: The New Summertime Burger

i8tonite with Professional Plant-based Culinary Instructor and STLVegGirl, Caryn Dugan & New Summertime Burger Recipe

2 1/2 tablespoons ground flax
5 tablespoons water
1 cup shredded sweet potato (one very small sweet potato)
8 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced pinch of sea salt
1 14 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cooked chickpeas (if from the can, drain and rinse)
1/4 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2-3 green onion stalks (green part only), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt & 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups whole oats

Mix the flax and the water together in a small bowl and allow it to sit for 15 minutes or until it begins to become gelatinous (this will be your “egg” and act as a binder).

Wash, but do not peel the sweet potato. Shred it by using a hand grater or run it though a food processor using the shred blade.

To a large non-stick pan, add the sweet potato, red onion, and mushrooms. Over medium heat and stirring often, allow the vegetables to cook down. Once they begin to soften, add in the garlic and a pinch of sea salt. Transfer to a food processor. Add the black beans, chickpeas, parsley, green onion, sunflower seeds, spices, and flax/water mix.

To a blender, add one cup of the oats and grind down until it is a coarse flour.

Add the flour and 1/4 of the whole oats to the food processor with the rest of the mixture.

Pulse the mixture until well mixed, but not blended or pureed.

Making the burgers

Transfer to a large bowl and add the rest of the oats.

Mix well with your hands and taste. Adjust spices to your liking.

Cover and refrigerate the mixture for an hour up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375-F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Patty up your burgers. I made mine about 3″ in diameter and 1/2″-3/4″ thickness.

Bake for 18 minutes on one side, flip and bake for another 10 minutes.

NOTES:

These can be made into sliders or meatballs; remember,you’ll have to adjust your cooking time down the smaller the patty.
You can either refrigerate the mixture or patty up the burgers and and refrigerate them – either way, be sure to cover them.

 

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for BorschtA cursory internet search on Lithuanian chefs yields one or two male names located in Europe. Narrowing the searching to California leads us to San Francisco’s East Bay and the Los Angeles’ Annual Lithuanian Festival, which recently celebrated its annual event in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood.  Digging a little deeper brings us to Doma (which means “home” in Lithuanian) Kitchen in Los Angeles County’s coastal community of Manhattan Beach. It’s a delicious neighborhood bistro with a heavy focus on Eastern European foods using seasonal California ingredients. In other words, going to Doma Kitchen is an enlightening travel experience without having to leave the county.

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Owned by three people, Chef Kristina Miksyte and entrepreneurial couple Angelika Corrente and Stanislav Mayzalis, Doma Kitchen brings together a taste of Lithuania to the Southern California food scene. The latter was already a working chef in her homeland before winning the green card lottery and becoming an American citizen.

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Having attended a culinary school in her hometown of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, like so many immigrants, Miksyte’s dream was to live and cook in the United States. She says, “I love my country but it didn’t give me the opportunities to work. In Los Angeles, I have a restaurant, I am married, and I cook what I want.”

Lithuanian food is characterized by the cooking of potatoes, beets, pork, barley, berries, and mushrooms. The use of indigenous herbs such as dill, caraway, and juniper mimic their Eastern European neighbors (Uzbekistan, southern Russia, Latvia, Poland, and Belarus). And Doma Kitchen’s menu reflects this rich, fragrant cuisine with plov (braised rice or rice pilaf), kasha (braised barley or buckwheat-like risotto), and vareniki (similar to pierogies).

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

However the food isn’t all relegated to the “stans” of the world; Chef Miksyte makes liberal use of other Mediterranean ingredients, such as burrata, basil, tomato, and walnuts to showcase her global tastes. “I wanted to come to the States to become a better cook and learn more of what the world offers,” says Doma Kitchen’s stove director.

Los Angeles is all the better for it.

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
I’ve been cooking for almost twenty years.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I love to bake and also enjoy cooking good meat

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for BorschtWhat do you always have in your fridge at home?
Fresh veggies and fruits, fresh meat or fish, few cheeses and salami. Almost nothing in the freezer. Basically I’m stocked with produce for all meals, something for breakfast, snacks and for a nice dinner.

What do you cook at home?
I’m constantly experimenting and messing around with new recipes. Often go back to authentic recipes either from Russia, Lithuania, or Persian. Weekends are BBQ.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
I love to make my customers happy through eating my food. When I see the excitement after first look at the food followed up with “Wow,” “OMG,” “This looks so good and tastes even better.” The love is mutual between us – I love to cook and they like to eat.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
I hate when the customer changes the ingredients in my dishes. It’s basically changing the whole dish completely, and creating a new dish.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Your favorite cookbook author?
My Grandma

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Knives

Your favorite ingredient?
Fresh herbs and dill, of course!

Your least favorite ingredient?
Don’t have one

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Wipe down and polishing the dishes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Central Asian, Middle eastern, and whatever that’s on my mind

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for BorschtFavorite vegetable?
Fresh cucumbers from my mother’s garden

Chef you most admire?
Egidijus Lapinskas in Lithuania

Food you like the most to eat?
Good piece of meat, sushi, or fish

Food you dislike the most?
Overly spicy food that you can’t taste anything else.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I have two tattoos. No food tattoos to date.

Recipe: Doma Kitchen’s Borscht

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Doma Kitchen Borscht recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Lamb, stew meat, or whatever kind of beef you like, bone-in or boneless
  • 1 Tbsp salt + more to taste
  • 2 large or 3 medium beets, washed, peeled and grated
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ head of small cabbage, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced (**see note)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley and dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Garnish: Sour cream and fresh sprigs of parsley or dill.

Instructions

  1. Wash meat in cold water, cut into 1″ pieces and place in a large soup pot with 14 cups cold water and 1 Tbsp salt. Bring it to a boil and remove the foam crud as soon as it boils (if you wait, it will be hard to get rid of the crud as it integrates into the broth and you’d have to strain it later). Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer 45 minutes – 1 hr, periodically skimming off any crud that rises to the top.
  2. Grate beets on the large grater holes (a food processor works amazingly well). Place them in a large heavy-bottom skillet with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar and sauté for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to med/low and add 1 Tbsp sugar. Mix thoroughly and sauté until starting to soften, stirring occasionally (about 10 min). Remove from pan and set aside. In the same skillet (no need to wash it), Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp butter for 2 min. Add grated carrot and sauté another 5 min or until softened, adding more oil if it seems too dry.
  3. Once the meat has been cooking at least 45 min, place sliced potatoes into the soup pot and cook 10 min, then add cabbage, sautéed beets, onion & carrot, and chopped tomatoes. Cook another 10 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Add 2 bay leaves, ¼ tsp pepper, and more salt to taste (I added another ½ tsp salt).
  5. Chop parsley and pressed garlic then stir them into the soup pot, immediately cover and remove from heat. Let the pot rest covered for 20 minutes for the flavors to meld.

The End. Go Eat. 

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Pinot Noir Sauce

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet SauceA little more than two years ago, Chef Jennifer Russo opened The Market Restaurant + Bar in Phoenix’s burgeoning Arcadia neighborhood. The restaurant with a neighborhood vibe is reflective of Russo’s use of Arizona-grown produce, dairy, and meats in both her catering and brick and mortar. More importantly, Russo’s growth as a decade-long successful caterer to a full-fledged restauranteur is an indicator of the quality of chefs and restaurants being developed out of the forty-eighth state. The Valley of the Sun, known for safe, corporate restaurants, is literally hungry for independent chefs.

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce

Born in New Jersey but raised in Arizona, Russo has long been cooking. She started learning some of the family secrets with her father’s grandmother, who emigrated from Italy. As a teen, Russo’s passion for cookery led to a variety of food schools in her Scottsdale-area home but eventually – at the age of twenty-one – became a San Francisco transplant at one of the city’s noted gastronomic institutions. Russo says, “I waited to go to school so I could learn the cocktail classes. I wanted to be of legal age.”
After graduating, realizing the expense of living in the City by the Bay, she returned to The Grand Canyon state and worked with two venerated Sonoran desert chefs continuing her epicurean education. It began with Vincent Guerithault of Vincent’s on Camelback, which led her to a sous chef position with Mark Tarbell at Tarbell’s.

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet SauceAfter working the line for years, Russo’s knees needed medical recuperation which led to the founding of her catering company. As her enterprise grew, so did the demand for her wares; clients would constantly ask when she was opening a restaurant.

Now, with a young son and several decades of operating her businesses, Russo has become as renowned as the gentlemen she worked with in Phoenix.

Below, Russo shares recipes for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce, Braised Baby Peas with Pearl Onions and Herbs, and Hot, Buttered Cauliflower Puree

Chef Questionnaire with a nod to Proust:

How long have you been cooking?
For as long as I can remember. But as soon as I could get a job, I started prep cooking @ Lewis Steven’s Catering Company at the age of 16.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I love working with proteins and seasonal veg.

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Beverages…Let me be honest, wine and water.

 

What do you cook at home?
I don’t get a chance to cook at home since opening The MARKET restaurant+bar. It seems silly to dirty my kitchen at home, especially when I can do that at work. But if I am cooking at home we go pretty big. As long as someone brings the dessert. You don’t want me making dessert.

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
The excitement they have for the food, wine, and cocktail menus. It makes it all worth it when they love it!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
When they share their negative thoughts on social media. I’m here a lot. Just tell me to my face and I will do everything in my power to fix it.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
I seem to have a lot of items in delis.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
I love cookbooks from restaurants, so anything Thomas Keller is high on the list. I like how visual they are. But if I had to choose one go to, it would be Julia Child’s Mastering the art of French cooking.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Knives

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet SauceYour favorite ingredient?
That’s not possible. Flaky salt.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Peanuts * I’m allergic!

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Peeling things

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean. So everything…

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

Favorite vegetable?
Mushrooms, if I had to choose one

Chef you most admire?
Julia Child past, Thomas Keller present

Recipe: Rack of Lamb with Pinot Noir Sauce

i8tonite with Phoenix Chef Jennifer Russo of The Market Restaurant + Bar & Recipe for Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce

INGREDIENTS
Three 8-bone racks of lamb (1 1/2 pounds each), trimmed of all fat, bones frenched
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 T minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of one lemon
1 cup Pinot Noir
1 garlic clove
1 thyme sprig
1 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the lamb racks all over with coarse salt, pepper, minced garlic, & lemon zest. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet; both skillets should be ovenproof. Add 2 of the lamb racks to the large skillet and 1 rack to the medium skillet, meaty side down. Cook the racks over moderately high heat until well browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the racks and brown the other side, about 3 minutes longer.

Transfer the skillets to the oven and roast the lamb for 15 to 20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 120°or rare and 125° for medium rare. Transfer the racks to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, set the medium skillet over high heat. Add 1/2 cup of the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the wine into the large skillet and add the garlic and thyme. Set the large skillet over high heat, add the remaining 1/2 cup of wine and boil until reduced by one-third, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and discard the garlic and thyme sprig. Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Season with salt and pepper and strain the sauce into a warmed gravy boat.

To serve, cut the lamb into chops and arrange 3 chops on each dinner plate. Pass the Pinot Noir sauce at the table along with a little coarse salt for sprinkling on the lamb.

Recipe: Hot, Buttered Cauliflower Puree

INGREDIENTS
Two 2-pound heads of cauliflower, cored and separated into 2-inch florets
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup mashed potato
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
Salt
Pepper
Chives, chopped

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower florets until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well. Spread the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes, to dry it out.

In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream with the butter and bring to a simmer over moderate heat just until the butter is melted.

Working in batches, puree the cauliflower and mashed potatoes in a blender with the warm cream mixture; transfer the puree to a medium bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and chives.

Recipe: Braised Baby Peas with Pearl Onions and Herbs

INGREDIENTS
12 pearl onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound baby peas, blanched
3 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon snipped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

METHOD
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the pearl onions and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Peel the onions, leaving the root end intact.

In a medium, deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the pearl onions and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and simmer over moderate heat until the peas are tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the mint and chives, season with salt and pepper and serve. When plate is complete,  garnish with roasted cauliflower florets and fresh mint.

 

The End. Go Eat. 

Photos: Joanie Simon

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles Chef Kathy Fang is the daughter of one of San Francisco’s legendary chefs, Peter Fang of the House of Nanking. To the uninitiated, those who have never eaten Chinese food in Shanghai or one of the major Asian-American urban hubs such as Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Vancouver have probably eaten the domestic version normally laden with excess soy sauce, oils and fried. Shanghai food mixes a variety of regional Chinese cooking, primarily because the twenty-four million inhabitants  come seeking work in the big city. Street carts characterize the cuisine – eat and run – such as steamed buns, scallion pancakes, and a variety of rice balls. Each morsel can produce bold, complex flavors if placed in the correct hands – such as Chef Fang. Even today, more than twenty-five years later, queues are outside the first Chinatown located restaurant with far-flung travelers, guidebooks in hand, ready to dine on Fang’s Shanghainese-type eats.

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesAlong comes his daughter, Kathy Fang, who is every bit her father’s progeny but personifies the new generation of chefs, realizing that there is more than just the kitchen to cooking. After working in the corporate scene, the younger Fang decided to follow in the family’s footsteps, learning about European cooking techniques at a premier local culinary school. Together, in 2008, the father and daughter team opened Fang Restaurant, an elegant establishment focusing on the Chinese regional foods, but with a more refined, gastronomic approach.

“I’m very blessed to be around my dad and parents,” states Ms. Fang about working with her parents and father. “My dad can be very stubborn but we work together many hours of the day. Ultimately, we have a very loving relationship inside and outside the kitchen.”

Last year, Ms. Fang, was a winner on Food Network’s Chopped, the broadcast cooking competition show which places four chefs against each other with the hopes of winning ten thousand dollars. Ms. Fang, a petite and attractive woman, beat three burly Caucasian men. She says of winning, “Now, we get customers, mostly female, who come into Fang. They say, ‘I was rooting for you all the way against those guys. It was great to see a woman win.’ “

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles Ms. Fang’s future is bright as she continues to cook with her father at their eponymously named gourmet hall. Outside the kitchen, though, she is branding herself as a culinary leader with My Fangalicious, her website and family recipes. Her hopes are to become the next Martha Stewart with a “branded wok” and other gastronomic items like her Caucasian predecessors. As her clientele has attested, it’s good to see diversity in the food mix, so all people can be included in the conversation.

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust)

 How long have you been cooking? Since I was 6 years old

What is your favorite food to cook? Pasta

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesWhat do you always have in your fridge at home? Eggs, hot sauce.

What do you cook at home? Asian and Italian food

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? I’m lucky in that a lot of our customers come in to Fang knowing to trust the chef. I love customers who come in with an open mind to try new things to eat.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Customers who finish their meal and then tell you afterwards they didn’t like it. If you don’t like it, mention something right away. I feel like any restaurant would apologize and offer to make something different for you. Just be up front in the beginning, and we would be more than happy to make any changes for you.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Wine to wind down at home or when having dinner. Cocktails for a night out, a gin martini to be exact.

Your favorite cookbook author? David Chang. I love how he weaves his own story into the growth of all his restaurants. You learn about him, his restaurants, and his recipes all in one book.

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles
Sesame Chicken

Your favorite kitchen tool? This may seem weird but my electric kettle at home. I’m obsessed with it mostly because it heats up to boil so fast. I boil water for tea, water for boiling pasta, water for blanching. I also heat up soups using the kettle because it’s so fast. I just let it go, brush my teeth, work on my computer and then it shuts off after it boils. I also boil eggs in there in the morning.  For the cost and how often I use it and in so many different ways, it’s really one of the best little kitchen tools I have.

Your favorite ingredient? Soy sauce (I grew up eating this and I can’t imagine my cuisine without it)

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon Noodles
Fang, lower dining room

Your least favorite ingredient? Lemon pepper. I always think it has this weird fake element to it. And I never understood why you wouldn’t just use fresh lemon or citrus and freshly cracked pepper.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Dishes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian, Chinese, and Japanese

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Pork

Favorite vegetable? I know it’s an overused vegetable and it seems like it’s that overly popular girl at school that everyone seems to talk about, but KALE is truly one of my favorite vegetables. For one, I’m a health nut, so any vegetable that I find healthy, I like. But aside from that, I find kale super versatile. I buy in big amounts because I can go through it all week. I can bake kale until it’s crisp like chips, I can sautée with eggs in the morning for breakfast. Kale works well in soups and stews. It also makes great salads if done right.  And finally toss it in smoothies to get extra vitamins and fiber. There are just so many ways to eat kale!

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesChef you most admire? Grant Achatz, Dominique Crenn, and Thomas Keller.

Food you like the most to eat? Sushi

Food you dislike the most? Natto

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None.

 

Recipe: Pesto Udon Noodle Salad

i8tonite: with San Francisco Chef Kathy Fang, Fang Restaurant and Pesto Udon NoodlesServes 2.

Make fresh pesto by blending fresh Italian basil, 2 garlic cloves, 3 tablespoon grated parmigiano reggiano, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 4 tablespoon high quality evoo, and salt. Taste and set aside. Bring a pot of water to boil (or use electric kettle) and pour the hot water over packaged udon noodles. Separate the noodles and let sit for 1 minute and stir.  Remove from water and run under cold water.  Set aside.  Dress the udon with freshly made pesto and plate. Slice some grilled chicken breast or roasted chicken and top the udon with it. Mozzarella balls and cherry/grape tomatoes are a great addition to this dish, as is a generous sprinkle of parmigiano reggiano.

  • The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco’s Famed Acquerello

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed Acquerello“When opportunity knocks on your door, you have two choices (and) if I had waited until I felt ready, I would’ve missed what has turned out to be the greatest opportunity of my life,” says Chef Suzette Gresham, referring to Acquerello, the almost 27-year old Italian restaurant she co-owns with Giancarlo Paterlini. A friend had tipped off Gresham that there was an opening for an executive chef under the management of Paterlini. At the time, as a young chef, Gresham didn’t feel qualified, but decided that failure was nothing more than not meeting someone else’s expectations. She applied for the job – and the rest, as they say, is culinary history.

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed AcquerelloSince the opening of Acquerello in San Francisco’s posh Nob Hill neighborhood, the recognition and accolades just keep coming. Acquerello received its first Michelin star in the introductory 2007 Bay Area guide. In 2014, Gresham received the second star, making her the third woman in the United States and the second in San Francisco to receive this prestigious honor.  Chef Gresham is also only one of two women to receive the American Culinary Federation’s “Antonin Careme Award” – the other was Julia Child.

Chef Gresham remains true to her belief that you must understand the very basics of cooking before you can become a great chef.  She takes an innovative approach to Italian cuisine at Acquerello, allowing her curiosity, creativity, and passion for all things Italian to manifest in an innovative manner. However, she remains true to the heart of Italian cuisine: clean fresh ingredients, sourced locally, prepared lovingly and with attention.

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed AcquerelloWhile Gresham believes in flavor above all, she prides herself on the definability of her food. “If you close your eyes and put the fork in your mouth, you should still be able to tell what you’re eating,” she comments. In the end, there are no tricks to the cuisine at Acquerello, no attempt to dazzle beyond the inherent capability of the plate’s ingredients.

Over the course of her thirty-five year career, and beyond the laurels, Chef Gresham’s approachable manner has allowed her to mentor over sixty interns and apprentices at Acquerello. It’s her belief that she has had more than her share of the “good stuff” in life. In giving back, Gresham shares her knowledge and commitment to turning out the very best in every person who works in her kitchen. In an industry dominated by men, Chef Suzette Gresham has become one of the most influential chefs in the world.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed Acquerello

How long have you been cooking? Chronologically: For two-thirds of my life.

What is your favorite food to cook?  At home: Soup. Japanese Chiriashi. Hainan chicken. Duck Larb. Or, whatever my daughters request.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? I am a condiment whore. I can cook in almost any cuisine at a moment’s notice based on what I have on hand. I am never without a variety of imported butter, mustards, multicultural pickled items, truffle oil, and oodles of hot sauces.

What do you cook at home? From one end of the spectrum to the other: Seafood sashimi and crudos to long-cooking braised items like pig’s feet with cannellini beans.

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed Acquerello
Chef Suzette Gresham and co-owner Giancarlo Paterlini

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Curiosity.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?  Closed mindedness.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? All three: Clear plastic containers with matching lids, Vintage Pyrex, heat resistant Rubbermaid spatulas.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? All three: Chilled, fresh homemade beer, Italian Barolo wine, and a “Mountain Man” cocktail or other crafted drinks created by Christopher Longoria.

Your favorite cookbook author? Seriously? There are cookbooks in every room of my house, including the bathroom.  I want to hear everyone’s voice.

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed Acquerello
Papparedelle with Duck Ragu

Your favorite kitchen tool? At home: Super sharp, pointed scissors. At work: “tickets” which are micro tongs. (A gift from a past employee carried back from Spain.)

Your favorite ingredient? Monocultivar Olive oil.

Your least favorite ingredient? Lavender. Although I can cook with it.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Stand around.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Global.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?All three: Wagyu Beef seared, Chicken stock with Matzoh balls, Nonna’s skin-on pork roast, Tofu skins stuffed with mushrooms.

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed Acquerello
Truffled Leek Torta with Seasonal Mushrooms, Sunchokes and Vegetable Glaze

Favorite vegetable?Leafy greens: Swiss chard, rapini, spinach, and all bitter greens.

Chef you most admire? Massimo Bottura: He has never relented in following his dreams. He is true to himself AND his food.

Food you like the most to eat? Great naked salads of wild greens. Unusual sushi. Properly seared Foie gras. Big pearl Royal Osetra caviar.

Food you dislike the most? Sea slugs.

How many tattoos?  As a Chef and a woman… I always leave something to the imagination.

And if so, how many are of food? Notice above. I listed “chef” first… you can decide.

Recipe: Acquerello’s Scallop Crudo with Carrot Vinaigrette

i8tonite: Two-Michelin Starred Chef Suzette Gresham from San Francisco's Famed Acquerello
Scallop Crudo with Carrot Viniagrette

*Chef Suzette Gresham notes: The photo of the scallops is beautiful. It is meant to inspire and not restrict. It seemed to be one of the most do-able of our recipes and is open to interpretation. The Scallops create a clean canvas with which to pair your favorite flavors. The carrots are a surprising and colorful yet underrepresented vegetable in an elegant setting. It just shows that with a little mindfulness, what you can create. You don’t need to have exotic ingredients to create something delicious, as long as you are creative.

The recipe can be adapted any way you like and you can use whatever tools you have. For example you can poach, sautee, or steam the scallops if you like. You can use beets instead of carrots. Or any veggie, Drizzle with olive oil. You don’t really need xatham gum. Make it your own. This recipe is just meant as a template.

Recipe/Instructions

Scallops:

  • Size 16/20’s scallops
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon zest
  • Salt

Place scallops, olive oil, lemon zest, and salt in vac bag. Vacuum seal. Place vacuum-sealed scallops in a circulated water bath at 54C for 25mins.  After cooked, ice down until 33F. Slice scallops.

Carrot Vinaigrette:

  • 2C fresh carrot juice
  • 1T Apple cider vinegar
  • .2% xathan gum
  • Salt to taste

Blend carrot juice in vita-mix with apple cider vin. Add xathan gum. Season to taste.

Red Pepper gel :

  • 6 Large bell peppers juiced
  • 2 tien tsin chilies
  • Chili Flakes
  • Gellan gum 1%
  • Xathan gum .02%
  • Salt to taste

Bring bell pepper juice and tien tsin chilies to boil in small pot, turn off heat cover and steep for 10 mins. Strain out chilies with fine mesh strainer. Weigh reserved juice in grams. Add 1% gellan gum and bring to boil to activate. Cool until set in metal 3rd pan.

Once set, blend gel in vita-mix with a small pinch of chili flakes. If need, add water to get desired consistency. Add Xanthan gum just to keep gel from weeping. Pass gel through fine mesh strainer to remove chili flake particles. Vac to 100% in Cryo-Vac machine in metal 6pan to remove suspended air and brighten color.

Carrot ‘Flowers’:

  • Carrot tips, about 3″ in length.
  • Fry oil

Slice carrot tips into rounds on mini mandolin, bring fry oil up to 250F add sliced carrots.

Fry until carrots curl up. Drain carrot flowers off onto paper towels and place in dehydrator for 2 hours to crisp up.

Garnish:

Pulsed Marcona Almonds, High quality finishing oil to drizzle, Micro Greens/Herbs

The End. Go Eat

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles

Women work hard, and that includes being a mother, an actress, or a chef. Therefore, regardless of gender, women should be paid equally, and that’s this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Parity.  It’s the reason we decided to highlight women-owned places – more specifically female chefs of Los Angeles –  for our bi-monthly edition of Food Destinations. Tuesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day.

In the City of Angels, not only are there delicious places to eat, but there are many women creating delicious dining experiences, whether as an owner or as an owner-chef. If you want to choose an eating theme, why not an interesting food tour of women-owned restaurants?

Margarita Manzke, Republique. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Margarita and Walter Manzke

Breakfast: Margarita Manzke, Republique:

Start your day at Republique with one of the pastry creations by Philippines Islands-born Margarita Manzke, co-owner of the famed space with her husband Walter. While Mr. Manzke is noted for his French-inspired culinary prowess in the evening, the mornings belong to “Madge.” Her pastries are clouds of flour and butter in the former of buttery croissants, brioches, scones, muffins, and breads. Go ahead and eat her Brioche French Toast, dipped in the egg and served up with fresh fruit. The idea of never eating carbs won’t enter your mind again. Or even better, for something just a little lighter to get the energy going with a cup of the couple’s hand-selected coffee, have a few slices of Ms. Manzke’s daily selection, fresh from the oven, daily served with housemade butter, jam, or honey. Everyday it’s something different – rye, whole cracked wheat, 7-grain, raisin, pumpernickel, sourdough ($4).

Republique

  • 624 South La Brea Avenue
  • Los Angeles, CA  90036
  • (310) 362 – 6115
  • www.republicquela.com
  • Breakfast 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Coffee and pastries until 4:00pm

 

Alisa Reynolds, My Two Cents. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Chef Alisa Reynolds

Lunch:  Alisa Reynolds, My Two Cents

In a residential part of Los Angeles, far from the maddening crowd, Chef Alisa Reynolds crafted a small eatery, with a dedicated following – including Beyoncé – cooking healthy soul food cooking, definitely words you don’t hear together. With six tables on the sidewalk and about as many on the inside, Reynolds has become known for her gluten-free quinoa macaroni and cheese, Creole Shrimp and Corn Grits, and BBQ Fried Chicken. Her recipes are still rich in flavor and family tradition, but have lower calories and a higher nutrition value than what she grew up eating. Yes, you can have your mac and cheese, but with a dose of healthy grains as well. What a concept.

My Two Cents

  • 5583 West Pico Boulevard
  • Los Angeles, CA  90016
  • (323) 938 – 1012
  • www.mytwocentsla.com
  • Closed on Mondays
  • Tuesday – Thursday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Friday – Saturday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Sundays: Brunch only  11: 00 am – 4:00pm

 

Restauranteur Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan: ICDC. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los AngelesSnack: Restauranteur Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan: ICDC

Last year, co-owners Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan created a loving ode to ice cream, donuts, and coffee (ICDC), right next door to BLD (Neal Fraser’s eatery — Amy’s husband’s place — with breakfast, lunch and dinner). Out of the gate, the freshly churned cream made into adult type flavors such as the Guiness with Bourbon Fudge Ripple, and the Grapefruit Campari, or the Salt and Pepper Donut, or Beer Nuts and Pretzels have become an immediate hit — sort of like a Stars Wars sequel. Everything is handcrafted and single-batched, so once a flavor is out – it’s out for the rest of the day (or even the week). Therefore, you keep coming back hoping to catch that favorite flavor – but never quite making it, so it’s discover another taste – which keeps you coming back for that, and before you know it – you are in a 12-step group saying, “Hi, my name is (your name here) and I’m an ICDC addict.”

ICDC LA

  • 7454 1/2 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
  • (323) 746-3346
  • http://icdc.la/
  • Monday-Friday, 11am-10pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, 11am-11pm

 

 Susan Feniger: Mud Hen Tavern & Border Grill. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Chef Susan Feniger

Dinner:  Susan Feniger:  Mud Hen Tavern & Border Grill

Long before the Food Network was stuck on Guy Fieri road trips and Bobby Flay contests, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were broadcast to millions of homes. Then, the gourmet duo known as Two Hot Tamales showcased mostly Mexican but Latin flavored cuisine in an epicurean setting at Border Grill. Prior to that – in the long forgotten eighties — the cooking partners had another nationally-recognized establishment named City, changing Los Angeles’ culinary landscape much like Spago’s Wolfgang Puck. Milliken and Feniger still operate Border Grill together in Santa Monica – but Feniger wanted to explore other tasty riches and opened the much-lauded Street in Hollywood – showcasing global cuisine. After a couple of years, Feniger morphed Street into Mud Hen Tavern – a cozy neighborhood eatery and bar. Whether you are eating at Mud Hen Tavern or the legendary Border Grill, the food you are tasting isn’t just by a female chef but by an historical figure in the culinary realm. Delicious food, farm-to-table, nose-to-tail — Susan Feniger has been there, done that, and thankfully is still cooking some yummy eats.

Mud Hen Tavern

  • 742 No. Highland Avenue
  • LA, CA 90038
  • (323) 203 – 0500
  • www.mudhentavern.com
  • Sunday – Tuesday 5:00 – 10:00pm
  • Wednesday – Sunday 5:00 pm – midnight

Santa Monica Border Grill

  • 1445 4th Street
  • Santa Monica, CA  90401
  • http://www.bordergrill.com/
  • Sunday – Thursday 4:00 – 10:00pm
  • Friday – Saturday  4:00 – 11:00pm

The end. Go eat.