Category Archives: i8tonite

Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Southern California’s love affair with coffee goes way back to earlier land settlers and cattle-drivers. The pioneers would awake to the rising sun while a blazing campfire is percolating that first pot of mud juice. According to True West Magazine (October 2001), “Cowboys were undoubtedly the most devoted group of coffee drinkers in the West. As a rule, they liked it strong, scalding hot, and barefooted (black).”

Almost two centuries later, coffee houses are a fixture on every well-driven, So Cal street – although mostly emblazoned with a green mermaid logo. True to the western American ingenuity way, the Golden State still has some independent shops crafting luscious java jolts in small batches. Coffee connoisseurs in So Cal have a myriad of baristas fashioning joe in unique ways. Here are some of our favorites, from Palm Springs to Orange County and into Los Angeles. With a full tank of gas and a thermos of rocket juice as fuel, high-octane lovers can make a road trip visiting them in a single day. Go get your jitter on!

Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Portola Coffee Lab (Costa Mesa, Orange County)

Found in an Orange County hipster strip mall called OC Mix in Costa Mesa (in the same place as famed Taco Maria), Portola rose to prominence when the coffee industry’s major publication, Roaster Magazine, honored the caffeine maker with its 2015 “Roaster of the Year.” While already beloved by locals, the award catapulted the four-year-old shop into a nationally known bean-lover mecca. Noted for their lack of syrups and additives while using only mocha and milk for additional flavors, the single store has branched to six locations, all within Orange County. Furthermore, they use three distinct brewing methods to get to the only-in-OC taste: a manual pour-over, a siphon, and the trifecta (a combination of the siphon, pour-over, and French press). For an espresso made from a single origin bean, it’s a one-shot deal with a one-of-a-kind machine. Be prepared to stand in line for your cuppa, but It’s good to the last drop.

Rose and Cardamom Latte at Portola.Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Portola. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

LAMill Coffee (Silver Lake, Los Angeles County)

When LA Mill first opened a decade ago, there was nothing quite like the coffee roaster and maker. For one, it cemented Silver Lake as a destination for good eats. Menu was crafted by Chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence fame, in conjunction with the LA Mill owner Craig Min. The interiors designed were commissioned by their next-door neighbor by Silverlake decorator, Rubbish Interiors. It personified early hipster-hood. And there still is nothing quite like it, as far as coffee shops go. Coffee may be the thing to try, but you’re spending your time here because, well, the grub isn’t just an afterthought. It’s a reason to eat. Coffee is made four different ways, and then there is the $11,000-dollar espresso machine. That’s almost as much as your electric Smart Car.

Outside LA Mill. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip LA Mill. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Koffi (Palm Springs, Riverside County)

For those who have traveled to the Palm Springs area for two decades, Koffi is as much a destination for coffee as is tramway travel to the top of the San Jacinto mountains. The flagship spot located as drivers enter the resort town is a welcome relief. Although the line winds around the counter, it moves quickly, giving the legs movement after an hour and half driving from LA or San Francisco – which can clock in at five to seven hours depending on traffic. What started off with only one roastery has clovered into three locations, with the original, a Rancho Mirage location, and another mid-century outpost on the edge of Cathedral City. Stopping at Koffi and partaking of their java is as important as a warm desert pool on a chilly night or a hike into Joshua Tree.

Koffi and Cake. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip Koffi. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Alfred (West Hollywood, Los Angeles County)

Most coffee lovers would bypass Alfred, as they serve the yummy but ubiquitous Stumptown beans. Alfred, though, with its two chic shops – located just two blocks from each other – is unique without the coffee roastery…and is why it’s on this list. Made in West Hollywood, the liquid energy is chock-full of L.A.’s pretty people, tourists checking out the nearby luxury shopping, and a mélange of neighborhood folks. Matter of fact, if you felt the subway rumble or heard car horns slamming, one might feel they were in New York or Paris. Yes, it’s that cosmopolitan. Yes, it’s that fashionable. And yes, it’s as much a part of the sartorial coffee scene as City of Light’s Les Deux Magot or Manhattan’s Balthazar. If you happen to be in Japan, Alfred lovers can find two Tokyo outposts – making it even more tres, tres chic. Plus, Stumptown, a Portland roastery, is nothing to sniff at – no matter where you are.

Cakes at Aroma. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip Alfred Coffee and Donuts. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Aroma Caffe (Studio City, Los Angeles County)

Another mainstay of the entertainment set is Aroma Café on Studio City’s treelined Tujunga. Aroma, which started as a small house and grew into a house with a garden, patio, backyard, and sidewalk café, has served up frothy cappuccinos, bracing espressos, and sipping lattes for 20 years. That’s a long time for a television series (only The Simpsons can beat that) and a restaurant. While delicious java juices and herbal teas can be imbibed on site, the coffee house is a hybrid of a one-time java house which morphed into a full-blown restaurant. Mud-drinkers can fulfill their need for high-octane lattes while filling up on fortifying salads, crusty paninis, and savory egg dishes throughout the day. If in the Los Feliz area, the independent coffee and eatery has another tree-lined outpost on Hillhurst, serving up a twinned menu for the artistic side of the hill.

Cakes at Aroma. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip Aroma Coffee and Tea. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

 

– The End. Go Drink. –

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

Get ready, readers! Cheese Tea is a new and interesting drink…boba with a twist! Have you tried it yet? What do you think?

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese TeaJenny Zheng, 25, is the Founder of Little Fluffy Head Cafe, one of the first cheese tea boba shops in Los Angeles of its kind. She graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a Master’s degree in Bioengineering in 2016. While on a trip to Asia before graduation, she stumbled upon the latest millennials craze: cheese tea. Being a big fan of cheese, she obsessed on bringing the concept to the U.S.. So upon graduation, instead of going a traditional route with her degree, Zheng decided to spend the time to develop her own version of creamy cheese tea and opened her very first cafe in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles in the summer of 2017. Right now, she is fully dedicated to running the cafe to provide her customers the highest-quality and authentic cheese tea.

Find her online at https://www.instagram.com/littlefluffyhead/

Cheese Tea from Little Fluffy Head Cafe, LA. From i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
My mom used to make me a tomato noodle soup every morning when I was younger, utimately it has become my favorite Asian comfort food I like to cook at home. It reminds me of my family.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Different kinds of cheese to pair with wine

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
One characteristic I look for in a person is the ability to criticize or the ability to question. Especially if I am going to eat with this person, I want the dinner table conversation to be as meaningful as possible, talking about things that we could be better at.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Unreliable

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Definitely wine!

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese TeaYour favorite cookbook author?
I don’t have one yet. At this moment, I spend most of my foodie time searching for great restaurants to eat at, rather than a good cookbook to teach myself how to cook.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Hand mixer

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
East Asian cuisine

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken

Favorite vegetable or fruit?
Tomato

Chef you most admire?
A sushi chef by the name of Kazunori Nozawa

Food you like the most to eat?
Squid ink pasta with lobster sauce. So yummy!

Food you dislike the most?
Anything with mushroom. My mom made me eat a lot of mushrooms when I was little, and I am mentally afraid of mushrooms now.

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

Who do you most admire in food?
My mom. She could make you a platter of seafood like the ones you see at high end restaurants.

Where is your favorite place to eat? What is your favorite restaurant?
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar inside the Grove in Los Angeles. Great atmosphere and fresh sushi.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I have two tattoos. I got them before I turned into a foodie, so sadly none of them were related to food.

Recipe: Jenny’s version of cheese tea

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

1. Prepare:
9 teaspoon of whipping cream
3 teaspoon of milk
0.5 oz of cream cheese
a pinch of salt and sugar

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whip together using a hand mixer until the texture is thick.

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

 

3. Brew a cup of tea

4. Sugar to taste

5. Add ice to cool down the tea

6. Layer the cream on top of the tea

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite: One New York Woman’s Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Gluten-Free to Industry: Allie Luckman Overcame Food Allergies for Her Family and Found a Calling

Allison Wolin Luckman. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery“Do you mind if we chat while I’m driving?” starts CEO and owner of Allie’s GF Goodies, Allison Luckman. “I couldn’t find allergen-free gumdrops, so I’m on my way to the store to buy the ingredients to make them.” With that as an intriguing conversation starter, how could one not want to talk to her via Bluetooth? The Long Island, New York-based Luckman, like many of today’s mothers, found that she had genetically passed her many food allergies onto her kids. Therefore, she started baking for them to make sure her kids could eat baked treats just like their friends – without feeling left out of any celebration.

Black and White cookie. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Starting with a hobby crafting cakes and muffins for tiny tots birthdays and celebrations in 2012, Luckman found the flowering enterprise grew into a bakery. The certified gluten-free and qualified kosher shop concentrates on baked goods free of potential allergens such as dairy, egg, soy, gluten, coconut, peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame. Hence, most of the products are also suitable for vegans. As her business grew, Luckman developed a following among those in the entertainment business. Her clients have included rapper Snoop Dog and hip-hop impresario Steve Lobel, as well as having been featured on A & E’s Married at First Sight and on an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker.

Allison Wolin Luckman. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning BakeryAlmost two years ago, Luckman found a growing need to serve the gentile and Jewish communities by turning her baking business into a complete kosher pareve (dairy-free) enterprise. “I was getting more calls to omit eggs and milk products, so we decided to make a go. Our business gets supported by the many rabbis recommending our goods,” Luckman comments.

When asked what she finds the hardest to do, she doesn’t pause. “Finding good bakers. If they have been working for as a baker for a while, they don’t understand how to work with my recipes that I have personally developed, sometimes working on them for weeks, if not months. When someone fresh comes in, I can train them to work with the types of flours we use. It’s a specific process particular to our products.”

Luckily, those with allergies can now have some of the best in award-winning baked goods (TasteTV’s “Healthy Gourmet Snacks of the Year Awards” and ““People’s Choice Award for Most Innovative New Product” at the International Food Service & Restaurant Show) in the world including bagels, black and white cookies, and challah. Seriously, what child or adult could go through life without devouring a bagel and a smear? They won’t have to go without, due to Allie Luckman and her GF Goodies. #nochildleftout.

Bagels. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Allie GF Goodies are available online and can be shipped throughout the U.S. Follow on Facebook, website: www.alliegfg.com, or by calling (516) 216 – 1719.

Allie's GF Goodies. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I love to make either a full roasted turkey or chicken. My family loves it, giving them the feeling of comfort. Along the same lines I love to make them traditional chicken soup, and they have always loved mine the best.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
In my fridge at home, we have freshly sliced turkey breast, a variety of cheeses, and kosher pickles, both half sour and garlic dill.

Mandelbread (Jewish Biscotti). From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I enjoy eating with people who enjoy and appreciate good food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I hate eating with people with bad table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
I am definitely a wine person.

Your favorite cookbook author?
My favorite cookbook author has always been Mark Bittman.

Buddies. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
I have three favorites in the kitchen. Every baker/ chef needs a whisk, a KitchenAid stand mixer, and a food processor.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I like to cook all types of cuisine as long as there is flavor, room for personal flair, and not too spicy (although my husband will eat as spicy as I give him)!

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
I’m either a chicken or beef person. Never tofu.

Favorite vegetable?
I love asparagus and broccoli, although I’m not personally allowed many vegetables.

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
I admire Florian Bellinger, the pastry chef.

Hamantaschen. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Food you dislike the most?
I truly dislike mushrooms. I loathe the texture. However, I don’t mind the flavor in a sauce or soup.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
My favorite nonfood thing to do, aside from catching up on sleep, is spending time with my husband and grown children, either watching television or traveling.

Whom do you most admire in food?
I admire Ron Ben Israel for his cake business that he’s created.

Where is your favorite place to eat/ drink?
I live on Long Island. My local faves are 388 Restaurant, where they make excellent family style Italian food. They carry and use my products, and are hyper vigilant about my celiac disease so that I can eat safely. I have always been a Peter Luger’s fan—like every New Yorker. And my go-to in Manhattan these days is Felidia, where they take celiac disease very seriously.

Crumb cake. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I do not have a tattoo, nor will I ever. I’ve had so many surgeries that I’m marked up enough.

Recipe: Allie’s Banana Bread

Recipe: Allie's Banana Bread. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Ingredients:
2 c Allie’s flour
3/4 c sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter or Earth Balance, softened
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 T lowfat or hemp milk
1/4 c chocolate chips or blueberries (optional)

Directions:
• Preheat oven to 350.
• In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar
• Beat eggs in separate bowl and add butter/sugar to the mixture. Then add bananas, milk, and vanilla until well blended.
• In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Then add to the banana mixture until fully blended.
• Add chocolate chips or blueberries, if desired.
• Pour into greased pan and bake 50-60 minutes for loaf.

 

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake RecipeSimon Thibault is a Halifax-based journalist and radio producer whose work focuses on food. His written work has been featured in The Globe and Mail and East Coast Living. He has contributed to CBC Radio, and The Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast. He was also a judge for the 2015 James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Awards.

Thibault’s new book, Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, is a fantastic read – and resource. This expertly written and beautifully produced new title is part cookbook and part history guide exploring the culinary legacy of Canada’s Acadian Diaspora located within the eastern Maritime region. We don’t know enough about Acadian history and food – and I am glad to have the opportunity to learn more, in this book.

 

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake RecipeAcadian food is humble, homey, and comforting, which is what inspired Thibault to highlight the cuisine. It is made with love and devotion from a larder that is small but mighty, and holds history within itself. Each recipe is adapted from Thibault’s own family collection or from various women’s auxiliaries within the region – the result is a cookbook of extraordinary value and uniqueness.

I LOVE IT.

Tip: Make the apple pie (it was the first thing I made from the book!). It’s incredible.

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I think readers of cookbooks falsely imagine that the authors cook nothing but the food they extoll in their books. I did do so when I was recipe testing. I think I ate more lard and molasses than one perhaps should on a regular basis while living a semi-sedentary lifestyle. But I tend to cook, for lack of a better term, Pan-Asian food at home. I’m lucky that I know farmers here in Nova Scotia who grow a lot of northern Chinese/Korean/Japanese vegetables. So I often will cook extra rice in a rice cooker while I am doing other things, and then will cook the vegetables à la minute. I usually top things off with an egg or two.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Eggs. Always. At least a carton and a half. That way the older eggs can be used for boiling, the fresh ones for poaching and frying. Salted onions, which is a condiment from my book. It lends a nice salty/umami kick to soups.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
For them to chide me when I say, “I screwed this up, this could be better,” when realistically, they are right. it’s usually quite good. I just always have this platonic ideal of a dish in my head, and it doesn’t always happen. But the other person is happy that someone has cooked for them. And cooking for another is something I love to do.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
If I am in a restaurant, if they are dismissive of staff. As someone who has worked the front of house in various places and times in my life, I find that to be especially heinous.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
If I am at home, amaro. I am learning to embrace the bitter. And all I need is an ice cube. If I am in a bar where I can see what’s behind the bar in terms of booze, I tend to go for a cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I have to say Naomi Duguid. She wrote the foreword to my book, Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, but the books that she wrote with her former partner, Jefferey Alford, taught me how to cook. I am still very grateful that I have gotten to know her. I even cooked an apple cake from her book, Home Baking, today.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A food mill. Apple sauce is magical, and the best whipped/mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten. And they’re very inexpensive.

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Chinese. Grace Young’s “The Breath Of A Wok” was the beginning of my understanding of how chinese food works from the act of cooking.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Grass-fed beef, that has been well-reared. Preferably something like a flank, or a hanger steak.

Favorite vegetable?
Chinese long beans. The season is short, and you can cook them in a minute or two, or make a variation on the Vietnamese Som Tam, or green papaya salad. Just substitute the long beans cut into pieces and flattened with the side of a knife.

Chef you most admire?
The people who work at America’s Test Kitchen, behind the scenes. They teach so many people to feel comfortable in kitchens, and answer all the questions you may have when creating a recipe. I admire any chef who thinks it’s important to give people agency in a kitchen.

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything made with flour. I live for carbohydrates, whether sweet or savoury.

Food you dislike the most?
Although I love Japanese food in so many forms, and I like fermented foods, I can’t wrap my brain around natto. It’s fermented soybeans that have long white mucilaginous tendrils when you pull it apart. I can’t.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
I can’t stop reading about food. I have a (bad? good?) cookbook habit. I went to Kitchen Arts and Letters in New York City, and walked out $700 poorer. And I practiced restraint in doing so.

Who do you most admire in food?
Women.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
An apple, in my parent’s orchard.

What is your favorite restaurant?
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I live, there is a wonderful spot called The Highwayman. Small plates, Basque-inspired cuisine. In New York, I have a love for Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune. Every. Little. Thing. Is. Thought. Out. From the amount of servers on staff, to the wine list, to the price point, to the friendliness of staff. I went there with my friend Sofia, who is a native New Yorker, and she and I ate like kings and queens.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I don’t actually, though I can see why people would assume. If I did, it would probably be of fruit that grows in my parent’s orchard. Peaches for my sister, who passed away and loved them. Apples for my parents, who taught me the value of work. Blueberries for my nieces, who love picking them. And I would be a quince.

Molasses Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Excerpted from Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault © 2017, Text by Simon Thibault. ©2017, Photographs by Noah Fecks. All rights reserved. Published by Nimbus Publishing

Ingredients
2 cups molasses
1 cup lard or shortening
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (optional)

Directions
• Preheat your oven to 375˚F.
• Grease a 10×10-inch cake pan, and then dust generously with flour. Alternatively, add greased and floured parchment paper and place into cake pan.
• Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, fold the flour and lard
together on low speed until completely combined, about 4–5 minutes.
• Add the molasses, cinnamon, fresh ginger (if using), and allspice, and mix on low. Make sure to occasionally stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the molasses, lard, and seasonings are blended.
• Add the baking soda and salt, then the milk to the batter, and stir until well incorporated.
• Pour the batter into the pan, and place into the oven.
• Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake has receded from the edges of the pan and a toothpick placed in the centre comes out clean. Depending on the size of your pan, it may take a bit more or less time. Just keep checking until it comes out nice and clean.
• Leave cake in pan for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto a rack.

Serve on its own, or as a dessert with Maple Whipped Cream (page
176), Easy Caramel Sauce (page 177), or Brown Sugar Sauce (page 202).


– The End. Go Eat. –

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. – 

i8tonite with Vicente del Rio of Frida’s: A LA Mexican Institution & Roasted Pork with Mole Recipe

i8tonite with Vicente del Rio of Frida’s: A LA Mexican Institution & Roasted Pork with Mole RecipeWhen Frida’s first opened in 2002 along the forgotten strip of Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, there was a lack of well-crafted Mexican food in Beverly Hills. The world-renowned town at the time celebrated tomahawk steaks with martinis rather than reposado tequilas and molés. Upon opening, the small but mighty restaurant fostered a growing interest in the cuisine outside of the standard Tex-Mex that populated the City of Angels. More than 17 years later while other area restaurants have come and gone, Frida’s still stands, crafting south of the border dishes one might have in the very cosmopolitan Mexico City.

Owner Vicente del Rio, who was born in the metropolis’s historical and well-to-do borough of Coyocan, said during a phone interview, “I learned how to cook from my mother and grandmother, and I wanted to bring that authentic experience here. I feel that’s why we are successful.”

After a fruitful debut year, del Rio started to spread out to other parts of Los Angeles. As CEO of  FriMex Hospitality, he has launched eating experiences throughout Los Angeles County with Frida’s Tacos in five locations (Brentwood, Old Town and East Pasadena, Melrose, and Campus Village) and a Taco Libre in Santa Monica. His team has also expanded the original experience of Frida’s to Westwood, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Cerritos, and opening soon in Sherman Oaks.

i8tonite with Vicente del Rio of Frida’s: A LA Mexican Institution & Roasted Pork with Mole Recipe

Asked about why he thinks Frida is so successful, he says, “We don’t reduce the quality of our food to increase profits. We also have a great team of people working to make sure that we embody the Mexican culture. We want everyone to enjoy our delicious history.”

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home? 
Barbeque and paella

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
All types of fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
That they enjoy the food that they ate and are interested in trying diverse foods

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
They complain about the food and service

i8tonite with Vicente del Rio of Frida’s: A LA Mexican Institution & Roasted Pork with Mole Recipe

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Martini

Your favorite cookbook author?
Laura Caraza

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
Knives

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mexican and Spanish

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

Favorite vegetable? 
Mushrooms

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
My mother and grandmother, who taught me everything

Food you like the most to eat?
Besides Mexican and sushi?

Food you dislike the most?
Cheese

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

Whom do you most admire in food?
Jose Andres

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink?
Mexico City

What is your favorite restaurant?
Frida Beverly Hills

i8tonite with Vicente del Rio of Frida’s: A LA Mexican Institution & Roasted Pork with Mole Recipe

Do you have any tattoos?
And if so, how many are of food?
None

Recipe: Roasted Pork with Green Mole

i8tonite with Vicente del Rio of Frida’s: A LA Mexican Institution & Roasted Pork with Mole Recipe

Total time: 3 hours, 15 minutes, largely unattended.  Serves 8

Ingredients:
3 1/2- to 4-pound pork shoulder roast, fat trimmed
Salt
Pepper
6 tablespoons oil, divided
6 cups chicken broth, divided, plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup if needed
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 tomatillos, husked and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup shelled raw peanuts
1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), hulled
1 bunch cilantro (tough lower stems removed)
1/2 bunch epazote (1 cup leaves)
1 cup chopped iceberg or romaine lettuce
1 corn tortilla, torn into pieces
1 bolillo roll, sliced
3 whole jalapeno chiles (not seeded)
2 whole serrano chiles, seeds removed7 poblano chiles, seeds removed, chopped (4 cups chopped)
1/2 cup toasted pepitas

Directions:
1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven. Add the pork shoulder and sear on all sides. Pour 2 cups chicken broth into the pan and cover.

2. Place in a 325-degree oven and cook until the meat is tender and easily pulled apart with a fork, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and tomatillos and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peanuts and the raw pepitas and cook for 2 more minutes.

4. Add the cilantro, epazote, lettuce, tortilla pieces, bolillo slices and chiles. Stir in the remaining chicken broth and bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat. Simmer until the chiles are soft and flavors have melded, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Let the mixture cool slightly, then blend in batches until smooth. Add a little water or broth (one-fourth to one-half cup) if necessary to make a thick but pourable sauce.

7. Return the sauce to the pan and heat to serving temperature. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste. Makes 6 cups sauce, ½ cup per serving.

8. Serve on shredded pork, arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with pepitas.

 

 

– The End. Go Eat. – 

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 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 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