Category Archives: Salads

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw RecipeIn our global world, food is often the first thing that changes. Chinese noodles appropriated by the Italians after Marco Polo’s visit. How about al pastor brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, or the deliciousness of a French-Vietnamese banh mi, which features tons of crunchy vegetables and savory pork stuffed into a baguette? This is the case for the much-lauded Revolutionario, near the University of Southern California, helmed by Chef Farid Zadi and his wife Susan Park. The couple came up with an ingenious concept of marrying North African diaspora (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya) tastes with Mexico. The successful result is a delicious fusion of international flavors as noted by the alternative paper, LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, and the queue of college students and food-oriented people standing at the counter ordering their $3.00 tacos.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Revolutionario

Zadi’s career started in his birthplace of Lyon, France, ultimately leading him to working in Michelin starred restaurants throughout the world, including stints in Seoul, Korea, and Scotland. Upon coming to the United States, Zadi focused his epicurean talents on being a chef consultant and culinary educator, teaching cooking classes – for the beginner to the accomplished – at such places as Sur La Table, Whole Foods Market, and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Makroud (Algerian Date Newtons)

Last year, he and Susan wanted to create something different. Park says, “We saw the market going in a different direction towards a fast casual experience. Millennials didn’t really want to participate in the sit down service.” Along Jefferson, Revolutionario is not hard to find, as there are hordes of people waiting for service. Together, the couple have created a refreshing and unique melding of cultures…and the world was ready. Algerian butter and Mexican crema top a cob of corn. An Algerian roasted chicken with rasa al hanout – a Northern African spice mixture — called mechoui — is served up with feta and tortillas to wrap the bird. Wood-roasted cauliflower is also a standout when bound in a corn tortilla.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Mexican Street Corn with Algerian Creole Butter, Crema, and Cotija

Park comments, “North African tacos are an interesting cuisine. Food writers, those who are well-traveled, and people exposed to unique flavors love our food. Where else can you get merguez sausage served like a burrito?

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

How long have you been cooking?
34 years professionally

What is your favorite food to cook?
Dover sole with lemon butter sauce

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter, cheese, and cured meat.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Merguez and Crispy Potato Tacos

What do you cook at home?
Nothing

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Openness

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Don’t know what they want

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer in the summer, wine for fall and winter

Your favorite cookbook author?
Clifford Wright

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Chef’s knife

Your favorite ingredient?
Water

Your least favorite ingredient?
Lard

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Home stove that doesn’t burn high enough

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Roasted Sweet Potato and Crispy Kale, Yukon Gold with Lentil Chili or Charred Vegetables.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean and Californian

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

Favorite vegetable?
Potatoes

Chef you most admire?
Pierre Gagnaire

Food you like the most to eat?
Buttered pasta

Food you dislike the most?
Calf’s brain

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None. Never.

Recipe: Fennel and carrot slaw

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe

• 2 medium fennel bulbs
• 5 carrots, coarsely grated
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup Spanish green olives, pitted and finely chopped
• 1/4 teaspoon dried Aleppo chile or Espelette pepper flakes (optional), or to taste
• 6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and very thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 3 tablespoons and reserve.

Discard remaining fronds and stalks. Cut bulbs into thin matchsticks and toss with carrots in a bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, olives, Aleppo chile (if using), and salt to taste and toss with vegetables.

Chill, covered, at least 30 minutes (for flavors to develop).

Photo WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Mama Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jessica Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Jessica Bullock

Imagine your life filled with music – and good food. Doesn’t it sound like the perfect day, home, mealtime? For food and music writer Jessica Bullock, those two subjects go hand in hand. Her website, MamaBullock.com, is one of the most interesting food sites I’ve seen in a long time – not only for the delicious recipes, but the creativity involved with her music pairings. I had a chance to talk with Jessica, and was simultaneously inspired and amazed by the way she lives music and good food.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Banana bread

Jessica notes:
I’m a post-production producer by day and a food & music blogger by night. I live in Chicagoland, and I have a husband and three sons, 6, 4, and 1 month. My blog, mamabullock.com, is where you’ll find inspired food and music, good for the soul. If music is the language of love, food is the manifestation of love. No matter where you come from, food and music remind us that we are universally creative and loving human beings. That’s why I pair a piece of music with every recipe on the site. You can listen while you cook.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Fruit Pizza

Mama Bullock is for foodies who don’t have a lot of time for meal prep but enjoy cooking and listening to great music. As a working mom, I know how difficult (impossible) it is to have delicious and healthy meals ready for the family every night. Mama Bullock is all about creating delicious food without having to make everything from scratch, while avoiding the packaged, full-of-crap meals you find in boxes in the middle of the grocery store.

In addition to creating recipes, the site is also about sharing products, ideas, and healthy eating tips. One of my most important goals is to educate as many people as possible about how both food and music can be used as medicine. I cook. I eat. I listen. I share.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Tangy arugula with crispy lemon chicken

See? She’s amazing! I asked Jessica about how she decided to pair music with food. Her answer was longer – and more interesting – than I expected. Are you surprised to discover that music is a big part of her life? She grew up exposed to a variety of music, from church to jug bands. What? I know! I listened carefully as she said that her parents had a jug band for years – and that her dad can play the 1812 overture on his jug (and he was named best jug player in the world)! She loved going to blues clubs, and then started in orchestra, playing the viola.

As you can imagine, when Jessica said that music has been the common thread throughout her life, I nodded. I could see this even more so when she talked about her kids and gave tips on how to get kids to love music. Her husband was a professional DJ (see where I’m going with this?), and they always have music in their house, from playing the piano to a variety of music to listen and dance to. Perhaps the best part was when she said her 6 year old’s favorite composer is John Williams, because of all his incredible superhero movie soundtracks (genius kid!). Talking with Jessica has inspired me to incorporate more music into our lives – and my teen is one happy listener! She’s now the house DJ, following in Jessica’s footsteps, pairing music with our meals.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Glazed carrots

And on to the food that Jessica shares on Mama Bullock. She noted that buying good food is really important – and advises people to look for locally grown, sustainable food. But there’s not just great recipes (and great music) on her site. She also includes gourmet hacks, such as making things from scratch easily. Through her work, she tries to educate about the health benefits of certain foods, and help others. For, as she says, “not only is food medicine (there’s evidence of preventive health care and reversing ailments through food), but musical therapy can also help people. Music therapy (music as medicine) is helping people with Alzheimer’s and stroke patients, as well as people in nursing homes. Life gets better when you have music. Music should be important to our whole life – and it’s good for our health!

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
One-pot meals of any kind.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Forgotten celery. Wine. Lemon juice. Did I mention wine?

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – the everything cookie.

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

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

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Vermonter sandwich

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail-y wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Lidia Bastianich or Spike Mendelsohn. I like laid back, gracious writing and simple food made delicious.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A good sound system.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean for its simplicity and use of fresh herbs.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Depends. What are we drinking?

Favorite vegetable?
Avocado

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Detox Smoothie

Chef you most admire?
All of them. It’s a tough gig. My hometown favorite is Rick Bayless. The food is inspired, delicious, and healthy.

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything made with tender loving care is usually wonderful.

Food you dislike the most?
I really hate boiled zucchini.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Walk in the woods and be musical.

Who do you most admire in food?
People who are taking the time to feed and educate lower-income communities with urban gardens. Also doctors who are committed to the proliferation of using food as medicine.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At my dining table with friends and family.

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Crispy Peaches

What is your favorite restaurant?
I pretty much stick to the West Loop in Chicago. I really like La Serina Clandestina mostly because I can’t get enough of Chef John Manion’s kale salad and daily empanada creation, but also it’s just a cool place with a cool vibe and great cocktails. I also love a place called La Luce. It’s super yummy Italian with a great staff. It’s the kind of place you take your grandparents to and visit for hours.

Do you have any tattoos?
No, I’m not that cool.

 

Recipe: Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

i8tonite with Food and Music Writer Jess Bullock & Recipe for Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada
Simple Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Ensalada

6 oz cherry tomatoes
6 oz sweet corn
6 oz cooked black beans
1 palmfull chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp course sea salt
1/2 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp lime juice

Wash and cut cherry tomatoes in half, length-wise. Combine tomatoes, corn and beans into a large bowl. Add 1/2 the cilantro, salt, agave syrup and lime juice. Mix well. Garnish with remaining cilantro. Serve chilled as a salad or with chips as a salsa. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Music Pairing:

This recipe lets the vegetables speak for themselves. The only thing added is salt, lime, cilantro, and syrup. Today’s music pairing is a duo who lets the music speak for itself. No frills. Just two guitars. These two are from Mexico City but got their start in Dublin, Ireland during an eight-year stint playing pubs. They’re what I’d call “flamenco rock.” Both on acoustic guitar, they grew up with flamenco, jazz, and rock – but also love heavy metal, which comes through in their sound. They’ve been performing together since 1999, and have released five studio albums together. They’ve collaborated on movie soundtracks, performed at the White House, and continue to tour around the world. They’re also vegan, so I thought it a good pairing for today’s recipe, which is clearly Mexican-inspired, like the music. Please enjoy Rodrigo y Gabriela, performing live at the 2014 Montreux Jazz Festival.

HAPPY EATING + HAPPY LISTENING!

 

Note: All the gorgeous food photos? Discover the recipes on her site!

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Author and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

i8tonite with Hawaiian Author and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahiSonia R. Martinez was born in the island of Cuba, and has always been drawn to tropical climes and cuisines. For the last 22 years she has lived on the Island of Hawai’i in a beautiful rain forest where she loves to play in the garden, grow herbs, collect cookbooks, test recipes, visiting farms; learning and reporting about new sustainable growing techniques, read voraciously, and work on crossword puzzles.

Her passion for food and cooking led her to own kitchen/gourmet shops and cooking schools first in Orangeburg, South Carolina and later in the Miami, Florida area. After moving to Hawai’i, she and her son owned Akaka Falls Inn, a B&B, cooking school and gourmet shop in Honomu for several years.

She has been a food writer and columnist since early 1999, writing a monthly column for The Hamakua Times newspaper of Honoka’a. Sonia is also a regular contributor to Ke Ola Magazine as well as many other local publications. I first met Sonia in the early days of Gather, a website that featured great writing and an even greater community. Her recipes, photos of life in Hawai’i, and generous, smiling personality attracted many followers, including myself. Her care and attention is genuine and I consider her decade+ friendship one of the best things coming from the islands to Michigan! She has been a beacon for visitors to visit Hawai’i, promoting the delicious local foods there, as well as encouraging healthy and fresh eating. Her recipes, food photos, and sharing of local farmer’s markets, island food, and the beautiful place she lives in has inspired countless readers.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahiHer cookbook Tropical Taste, published in 2001, is a compilation of three years’ worth of monthly columns published in The Hamakua Times and is now in its second printing after being picked as one of the “Best of the Best” cookbooks in Hawai’i by Quail Ridge Press. Her second cookbook, From Soup to Nuts, was published a year ago .

Sonia has maintained a blog for several years, sharing her adventures in food and gardening and her ongoing love affair with Hawai’i at www.soniatasteshawaii.com

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

 

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Mainly simple and fresh…but I grew up with the ‘waste not’ concept and love to find creative ways to recycle leftovers so they don’t look or taste like leftovers.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Eggs, butter, cheese…I can live on cheese.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Appreciation and enjoyment of the food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Inattention to the food or the other extreme, showing off their ‘gourmandise’

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Definitely wine…unless I’m eating a paella or Arroz con Pollo…then I do enjoy a very cold beer. I am not fond of cocktails.

Your favorite cookbook author?
This is a hard one. At one time I owned a collection of well over 3000 cookbooks. Lost them in a fire, but in no time at all, my ‘new’ collection grew by leaps and bounds with gifts from friends who were trying to replace the lost ones, plus the many I added through the years. A couple of years ago, I started going through them and culling them to a manageable 4 shelf units in my office and hallway instead of all over the house. It was a time of hard decisions, but now know exactly what I have and where to find it…No mean feat, since I still own about 500, give or take.

I have an extensive collection of Cuban and Hawaiian cookbooks; a few Spanish & Portuguese, some Italian ones and Tropical Fruit ones, plus several on herbs & spices, a few single topic ones (sushi, dim sum, chocolate) and several of the classics that don’t fit into any of the categories mentioned…and of course, my own two titles, Tropical Taste and From Soup to Nuts.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My Santoku knife…I seem to reach for that one above all other ones.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Tropical, Cuban, Italian.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
I’ll eat anything but am most creative with chicken. I am not fond of tofu.

Favorite vegetable?
Asparagus, any way it can be prepared.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

Chef you most admire?
Although I have met a few of the well-known chefs in the culinary world, and admire several of them, I will have to say that there are three ‘local’ chefs I admire the most on this island. Sam Choy of Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai in Kailua-Kona, James Babian of Pueo’s Osteria in Waikoloa, and Diana Soler of Aloha Bayfront Café in Hilo, for their commitment to using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and their honest approach to food. Simple, fresh, beautifully prepared and presented without ostentation.

Food you like the most to eat?
Any shellfish but love scallops

Food you dislike the most?
Anything that is an imitation of the real thing

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Play in the garden…I love planting edibles among our ornamental landscaping (I even joy weeding!), and am a voracious reader.

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi
View from Sonia’s back yard

Who do you most admire in food?
My mentor and inspiration from way back has always been Shirley O. Corriher, who came to my first cooking school as a guest cooking teacher fairly often in the early 80s. She demystified so many of my preconceived notions in cooking and her enthusiasm and love of all things food served as great encouragement.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
A good sushi or seafood restaurant.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Takenoko’s Sushi in Hilo, is in my opinion the best sushi restaurant anywhere. We’re lucky if we can get reservations since the waiting list is so long, but it is well worth the waiting. I also enjoy dropping by Aloha Bayfront Café in Hilo for lunch. The food is always fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented, the staff is friendly, and you’re never rushed to vacate the table.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. My mother would have killed me!

Recipe: Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

i8tonite with Hawaiian Chef, Author, and Food Writer Sonia R. Martinez & Recipe for Salade Niçoise with fresh ‘ahi

One of my favorite simple and healthy meals to prepare at home when I can buy fresh ‘ahi (tuna) is my version of a Salade Niçoise.

Season to taste fresh ‘ahi (tuna), sear in avocado oil, serve on a bed of fresh spinach or Manoa lettuce, boiled potato wedges, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, sliced onions, a handful of lightly steamed haricot vert, and asparagus, dressed simply with Honey Wine Vinegar to which I had added a vanilla bean.

 

The End. Go Eat. 

All photos courtesy and copyright Sonia R. Martinez

i8tonite: with Phoenix’s “Best Chef” 2015 Peter Deruvo and Pollo Arrosto (Roasted Chicken)

Evo-ChefDeRuvo-01
Chef Peter Deruvo: Courtesy of Awe Collective

Phoenix-based Chef Peter Deruvo has been called “the crazy cook”, partly because he cheffed at a defunct restaurant called “Cuoco Pazzo”, meaning crazy cook. Names like that stick to a person. But his food isn’t crazy, it’s well-crafted, rustic Italian starting with housemade pasta and sauces. This year with the opening of Citrine, a Tempe, Arizona-based restaurant, Deruvo is at the top of his game. In 2015, he’s even been named as “Best Chef” by Phoenix New Times, an accolade that’s been attributed to three Valley of the Sun nationally recognized names Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco), Nobua Fukuda (Nobua at Teeter House) and Christopher Gross (Christopher Crush), all of whom have been recognized as a James Beard award-winning chef.

Interior of Citrine: Courtesy of Awe Collective
Interior of Citrine: Courtesy of Awe Collective

While living in San Francisco, he apprenticed with famed Bay Area Chez Panisse chef Paul Bertolli, San Francisco’s Mike Tusk, owner of the Michelin-starred Quince and Paul Canales at Oakland’s Oliveto where he refined his cooking, learning much about the restaurant world including a kitchen is not just about the chef but the hard-working support team surrounding him.

The City by the Bay afforded an introduction to award-winning olive oil producer Albert Katz, who sent him to Tuscany to learn everything he could about olives and olive oil. It was in Tuscany where Deruvo spent time tending the olive groves and farm at Montecastelli, a well-known Italian producer of gourmet wines, oils and vinegars. He also learned everything there was about the art of Italian cookery from neighboring trattorias, chefs and nonnas. All of this – including a stint working in Chicago — eventually lead him to Phoenix, with soaring tastes of his epicurean travels.

ChefPeterDeRuvo_CitrineOver the past three years, Deruvo has opened three restaurants including the much-lauded EVO, one in the past six months and had three kids with his wife, Christine. He’s not a crazy cook, just a busy chef with a family.

 

Chef’s Questionnaire

How long have you been cooking? I’ve always been cooking! From a young age to spending my twenties in Italy to now, I just can’t stop.

Lasagna: Courtesy of Awe Collective
Lasagna: Courtesy of Awe Collective

What is your favorite food to cook? Pasta is the game. It’s a staple in my life in both kitchens that I run and develop, at Citrine and EVO.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?    Lots of fruits, vegetables and cheeses. With three children, I’m a stickler for balanced meals!

What do you cook at home?  I like to visit fresh farmers markets with my family to get inspiration. Whether it’s Asian, Italian or what have you, it’s never the same and always guaranteed fun!

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? I love eaters who grow with the restaurant. As our dishes change, they try, adapt and change too, that’s my favorite.

Farmers Salad: Courtesy of Awe Collective
Farmers Salad: Courtesy of Awe Collective

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Eaters who are afraid to challenge their palate. I promise it’s worth it!

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex.

Beer, wine or cocktail?  Amaro.

Your favorite cookbook author?  Madeleine Kamman.

Your favorite kitchen tool? Olive oil.

Your favorite ingredient?   Also olive oil.

Your least favorite ingredient?  Hmmm… I’m stumped!

Charcuterie1
Charcuterie Board: Courtesy of Awe Collective

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?  Develop new pasta with old techniques.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?  Asian, Italian, Polish, Spanish.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Pork.

Favorite vegetable?    Any and all types of greens.

Chef you most admire? The chefs who are still behind the stove, developing, mentoring and creating.

Food you like the most to eat?  Pho.

White Aspargi with Egg: Courtesy of Awe Collective
White Aspargi with Egg: Courtesy of Awe Collective

Food you dislike the most?    Liver. It brings back bad childhood memories!

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?  One but none of food, food should be on the plate in front of you!

Pollo Arrosto, Fall Pan
Pollo Arrosto, Fall Panzanella Salad

Momma’s Pollo Arrosto + fall panzanella salad + natural jus      Yield   Serves 3

Ingredients  

  • 2 lb whole roasted chicken
  •  ¼ cup of butter
  • 2 lemons quartered

Magic Rub for the Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of ground chili flake
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • Combine all ingredients and set aside for the chicken rub down

Brine Solution for Chicken

  • 1 gallon of tepid water
  • ¼ salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns crushed
  • ¼ cup of white vinegar

Procedure:  

Combine all dry ingredients and spices with tepid water and submerge the chicken in liquid keeping it in the solution for over 24 hours.

Remove, dry, and season with salt, pepper. Under the skin of the chicken tuck all the butter.

Combine all chili, garlic and herbs and rub chicken down generously.

Truss chicken and set aside for roasting in an oven at 350 for 55 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Fall Panzanella Salad ingredients:  

  • ¼ cup roasted butternut squash
  • 1/8 cup of roasted cauliflower
  • 1/8 cup of rinsed and cleaned kale
  • ¼ blanched and sauteed green beans, sauteed in garlic, lemon and olive oil
  • ¼ cup quartered tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of toasted croutons
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:   Combine all ingredients, toss lightly with olive oil and vinegar and season to taste; After the  chicken is fully cooked and rested, the salad will go underneath roasted chicken and garnish with quartered lemons.

Note: Chicken is also great served cold as a chicken salad.

The End. Go Eat.

No Cook Thanksgiving But If I Were…..

I stopped cooking Thanksgiving meals about 5 years ago. I know, I know. It’s one of the big days that all caliber of cooks want to shine showcasing their adeptness in the kitchen, commercial or home. If you know anything about me, cooking is one my favorite of the things. Therefore, you would think that I would be all over this but I’m not. Not anymore. I stopped cooking for the holiday when I was ending a decade plus relationship that entailed my work and my personal life. I also moved from San Francisco, where I lived for 3 years, back to Los Angeles at the same time. (Hey, no one ever said that I liked to do it easy). That first Thanksgiving, as a single man, turned out to be a horrible experience as I was invited to eat at one of my ex’s friend with their 30 plus dinner guests. My only excuse for going was I that I was still delirious from the break-up.

With each progressive year, I feel less and less like big festivities. This year, I think it’s just Nick, Holly, JJ and my mother. I don’t really think of the holiday as exceptional anymore but I celebrate it quietly with people who love me and I, them.

At the heart of it all, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday and New Year’s Eve clustered together in a 6 week period, is that I really just want to spend quality time with the people whom I cherish. I don’t want to wrapped up in a kitchen anymore for the entire day. Let someone else shine and enjoy learning about cooking. (To brine or not to brine? Fried or not to fry? Oysters in the stuffing or sausage?) I’ve made a lot of turkeys, roasts and hams in my life and I’m now willing to give up the “big star” turn to others. Cooking quietly, simple easy meals on a daily basis.

However, if I were to cook for a dinner of 8 to 10 (LOL), this is what I would make and why:

Butternut Squash Soup: Simplicity. Ease and elegance. Besides, Butternut Squash Soup screams fall!

Roasted Turkey Stuffed with Prunes: Mario Batali’s way of cooking a large bird is ingenious. Have your butcher remove the bones and use them for stock and gravy. Beautiful. Easy. Delicious and quick.

Homemade Bread: There is nothing in the world like homemade bread. Nothing. It can be made two or three days in advance and frozen. Just one of the most beautiful things ever. No Knead Bread is revelatory.

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Salad: If I were making the dinner, the recipe for this Kale, Fennel and Apple Salad would be it. And I would leave it at this. It feels very European this meal. A protein. Bread. Salad. Soup.

This would be the meal. You don’t have to do too many things. If you want to throw in a traditional dish of roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, go for it.

Oh, but don’t forget for dessert. HA! I don’t make a lot sweet things and there are reasons for it. I don’t want it around because I will eat it…ALL…but if I find something sweet and light.

Sparkling water and flat. Always.

White Wine: Duckhorn or Cade Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley. Both are perfect wines for cocktails and for the first course. Lovely and herbaceous.

Red Wine: Oregon’s Sokol Blosser Pinot is lovely for this dinner. Light, bodied, earthy red with hints of cherry.

Beer: Brouwerij West “Saison”. Not to hoppy, excellent flavor, Belgian-style beer. Craft beer made in Los Angeles.

Happy Turkey Day. Enjoy your family, friends and food!

And The Beet Goes On…

Sadly, I didn’t have a good food childhood. Once my parents divorced, it was mostly canned stuff my mother (or I) prepared, since the only one who cooked was my father. My mother would make the occasional meatloaf, with packaged breadcrumbs and Heinz ketchup. That was pretty much it except for the holidays when all the vegetables we ate would be canned. String beans. Corn. Beets. I wasn’t a fan of any of them, especially the beets. Oye. I thought canned beets were disgusting. I know she tried. She just wasn’t a cook. (Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like them.)

Cut to living in New York City, and a very awkward young man walking through the Union Square Farmers Market. I would only buy potatoes, not sure what else to purchase or do with any of it. I was fairly ignorant of food, until I started working in restaurants. First as a waiter; then, as a bartender. Not only was I learning how to do pattern-making (it went the way of geometry)  while attending Fashion Institute of Technology, but I began to acquire knowledge of food and drink. A lot about the drinking. One of my favorite sayings was and still is, “Pour me into a cab.” I learned about wine while working at Soho Kitchen & Bar as well as scotch, cognacs, gins, and beer. We sold over 110 wines by the glass, 60 types of bottled beers with 24 on tap and all could which would be paired with simple bar food, like Spicy Buffalo Wings, pizzas, easy salads. But the star was the grape: chardonnay, cabernet, merlot. The restaurant had on the menu a Grilled Chicken Salad with Roasted Beets. It was a fairly simple meal of grilled chicken breast sliced against the grain, on a bed of mixed greens with roasted beets in a mustard vinaigrette.

But it was the beets that I ate. And ate. And ate. I realized that when cooked properly, they have a sweet, buttery quality with a chewy, yielding texture. I loved them. Their colors are brilliant hues such as a bright orangey, yellow which is tantamount to the color of a fall sunset or the purple, reddish color that reminds me of exotic, richly colored Indian batiks.

Now, I cook them all the time and love every minute of it…and the beet goes on….

Let’s make some beets.

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  While the oven gets up to speed, cut off the beet leaves and save them for a salad the next day. Wash the beets thoroughly and cut up the large ones in quarters, then wrap them loosely in foil. No need to dry the beets before wrapping.

2. Place the wrapped beets on a baking sheet and roast for 50-60 minutes.

3. Let the beets cool before handling them. Using a paper towel, rub the skin off. It should come off easily.

4. Now, cut them up to eat. My favorite thing is to dress them with a little olive oil and mix them into a salad of butter lettuce, bleu cheese and filberts with garlic chives. Awesome!!!

Lettuce Eat Lettuce, Then Lettuce Talk About Sex (Kidding about the second part!)

Lettuce is one of those funny foods that I don’t think anyone really thinks about. There was a time when it was just diet food, especially the much maligned iceberg. Iceberg is not the most nutritious,but it’s so edible and fun. You can use it in place of taco shells, make cole slaw, use it in place of chips for dips. It’s sturdy just like it’s sister lettuces, romaine and red and green leaf. Funny to think that this vegetable, formerly thought of as a weed by Egyptians, is sturdy and durable….the Tonka truck of the food world.

Personally, I love lettuce and yes, even iceberg. It’s all about the texture. Crunchy. Watery. Green. It’s then about the toppings, the dressings, the vinaigrettes, the lovely sauces that cover and cling.

Let’s think about some of the lettuces: Bibb (probably the Queen…expensive); the red and green (Fraternal Twins); Romaine (the Glamourous one….in the Caesar, dressed up in bleu cheese too) and then the Iceberg (the Stalwart). We also have raw spinach, lamb’s leaf (my favorite….tossed with a little olive oil and really good salt! Dreams are made from this…), arugula. There are also Endive (the European…it’s curly, fancy…has an accent). However, lettuce stick to the well-known lettuces on this little episode.

Fun Facts about Lettuce:

1. It’s the number two vegetable behind potatoes of most consumed in the United States.

2. 75 %  of all lettuce is grown in California. (Since, the state is currently in the middle of one of the worst droughts in history, it will be very costly soon.)

3. You can’t preserve it. It is impervious to canning, pickling, bottling or freezing.

4. Lettuce was introduced to the New World in the mid-15th Century.

Just a little fun trivia…to lighten your day.

 

Grilled Romaine

You Will Need:

 

Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

1 head of Romaine lettuce (Outer leaves peeled off)

Worcestershire sauce

Salt & pepper

Olive oil

Lemon

Dijon Mustard

Garlic

Parmesan cheese

Let’s Make This Puppy:

1. Heat a gas grill. (If using a charcoal, cook all the meat and let them embers cool. We want grill marks and a slight wilt….not blackened vegetables.)

2.  Cut the lettuce into fourths. If it’s a small head, maybe only in half…you be the judge. (You have the knife in your hand….I’m not going to tell you what to do.)

3. Brush the cut side with olive oil. Not a lot just enough to glisten and place cut side down on hot grill. DO NOT COVER. This is really just to give a slight taste of char, that BBQ outdoor flavor. It’s like parboiling a potato, we don’t want to cook it, we want to add a little character to it’s existing personality. Remember the first time your parents scolded you in public….and left a scar in your psyche, it’s like that; a little character development.

Leave the lettuce on the grill, creating the lovely grill marks. The rest of it might have a little bit of brown around the edges….again, a little character development or taste enhancement.

Remove and place on a plate.

4. Now onto the dressing: Take a wooden bowl that’s been thoroughly chilled in a freezer. (You don’t have to do this step. It’s only if you want to be fancy.) Rub the garlic clove on the inside of the bowl. Pour in about 1/2 cup of olive oil….couple of dashes of Worcestershire, a dollop of Dijon mustard, squeeze a little lemon…about 1 tablespoon….and add freshly grated Parmesan. Whisk it together in the bowl. (If you want it a creamier consistency…like in a chain restaurant….add some mayo.). Add the salt and pepper to taste.

5. Arrange the lettuce with the cut side up, Drizzle the dressing over the lettuce. If it’s a little thick, you can whisk in a little more olive oil. Grate some more cheese over it….and voila, Grilled Caesar Salad.

Note: I don’t like to add croutons to this. There is already a lot of crunch and we are dealing with half a head or a quartered lettuce. You won’t miss the croutons. Trust me.

 

 

 

How to NOT Make a Cabbage Patch Dull

cabbage_0

My friend Mark is a homecook like me but he loves to make complicated Moroccan food. The dishes that are thirteen thousand ingredients and counting. I do not. I want my food and cooking. It’s not that I don’t think that dishes with a lot of ingredients aren’t tasty; on the contrary, I find them delicious. I just like making things that are unfettered. Personally, I just want to taste 4 or 5 ingredients.  Good quality ingredients with a simple preparation; very much like Alice Waters.

Mark recently asked me to help him cook a Moroccan dinner which was a thoughtful gift that he gave to a recently married couple. I was honored that he would ask for my help and since it had grown into a party of 10, he needed it. As part of the menu, he already planned two tagines: one lamb and one chicken, a fish b’stilla (the savory pie), cous-cous and roasted vegetables along with several appetizers. The one thing that the host specifically wanted was a series of Moroccan salads.

Cabbage 1

Mark, Mary (another homecook friend also asked by Mark to assist him) and I sat down to look at recipes that would be easy and complementary to his tagines featuring figs, dried apricots, preserved lemons and exotic Middle Eastern spices such as zatar and sumac. We started to look through several including a couple from Paula Wolfert.

Cabbage     cabbage_0

 

Since, Mark was already making several tagines from Paula and another cookbook, I scanned “Morocco” by Jeff Koehler. One of the first that popped out was a Moroccan Cabbage Salad with Olive Oil, Lemon and Garlic. With a quick look at the recipe, I knew this was a keeper. It’s delicious with freshly ground Himalayan pink salt for finishing. (This is my adaptation of it.). I also knew that I wanted to make it. 

What you need:

One head of Cabbage

2 Lemons

5 Garlic cloves

1/2 cup of oil

Let’s make this puppy:

1. Wash and slice the cabbage about a 1/4 inch thick into a large bowl for tossing. Don’t slice it too thin. (For color, you can add a little red cabbage.). 

2. In a smaller bowl, press the garlic cloves and extract all the liquid. Throw the pulp into the bowl too. 

3. Squeeze the juice out of lemons (removing all the seeds) into the same bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk. 

4. Depending on when you serve this salad and how “cooked” you want the it to be, is when you should mix dress the salad. If you let the cabbage sit in the liquid too long, it will get less crunchy. So, I like to dress it about 20 minutes ahead of time, set aside and then serve with a finishing salt and parsley. 

Awesome. Really. 

Cabbage Bowl

Farmers Market Haul and Lulu’s Gardening Class

Let’s begin with lovely Lulu’s gardening class before we get to Farmers Market Haul.

Lulu's Gardening Class

Shelley, Lauren, one of Lulu’s co-workers and Lauren’s husband, Chris, along with me, were students in Lulu’s backyard for her first-ever gardening class. Lu has been gardening since she was a child back in her homestate of Pennsylvania. It was always one of her aspirations to create an edible garden where she could cook and share her plantings. Since she purchased her home over 8 years ago in the PicFair District of Los Angeles, she has fashioned a dozen raised beds where many varieties of home-grown edibles have ripened to seasonal perfection. Being an urban/surburban kid and thinking for many years that vegetables came hidden in a supermarket’s underbelly, I’m massively awestruck by her cultivation of cantalopes and watermelons…. along with being supplied gifts from her seasonal harvests which have included lettuces (romaine, red leaf, and green leaf), tomatoes (some which she has used for canning and I used for sauces), cucumbers, artichokes, eggplant, basil, spaghetti squash, raspberries, blueberries, lemons, limes….and on and on. In each one of the approximate 2 1/2 feet by 6 feet areas, the soil has been tilled, rested and loved to reap some of the most deliciously edible gems I’ve had. There is nothing like direct farm to table to do a body good.

In this class, Lu’s immense knowledge was demonstrated when she dug up her compost turning out a dark, rich and thoroughly alive concoction with do-gooding worms (pictured). The class was a fully active hour and a half experience. For this city slicker, it still shows the difficulties of being a 21st century farmer. Farming is an arduous task. It’s about the right amount of water, sun and nutrients but I can absolutely see it’s rewards for the grower as I was rewarded cuttings from Lulu’s hardwork such as baby kale, zucchini, squash blossoms, and fresh mint.

Lulu's Compost

All of this, on this Memorial Day weekend, brings me to Farmers Market Haul. Today, it was tiny Japanese bell peppers (Yakatori Farms), purple baby artichokes (SunCoast Farms), beautiful frisee, mizuna and baby chard (Windsor Farms), green Zebra Rita’s and baby spinach (McGrath Family Farms), small sweet Maui onions for grilling (Can’t remember the farm…), and rosemary (ABC Rhubarb).

Farmers Market Haul_5_26

(It was a small shopping excursion as I had the vegetables Lulu gave me from the class.)

I love the Hollywood Farmers Market. A weekly Sunday ritual like heading to church without the pie bake off at the end. It’s reminiscent of NYC’s Union Square Market. I prefer HFM before 11:00am, before my shins are black and blue from the strollers, wagons and pushcarts but still appreciate that families bring their kids to learn about food and its production. I love the urbanity of it: hipsters with their multiple canvas bags; the mid-thirty parents, who gave their nanny the day off, and are clutching too many children and too many vegetables; the single women holding onto lattes and the bottom of their maxi-dresses; the married gay men, leering over organic zucchini and the street musicians giving the market it’s soundtrack.
There’s no competition between farmers. One of the farmers didn’t have Bloomfield spinach, a fave lovely lettuce, and pointed me to another canvas stall ala “Miracle on 34th Street”/Macy’s vs. Gimble’s sort of way. I feel like this is the way life should be, simple, uncomplicated, free of CNN’s ticker tape, which is located around the corner.

One of the great things at HFM, I get to learn about my food and ask questions of the individual purveyors. I get to know them, they know me. They become a constant. I like that. It’s a small village atmosphere in a metropolitan city. The market is there to serve and keep me, in my mind, safe…that’s why I go. Its one of the few times in my week…when out of my car and out of my apartment… I feel sheltered and we are there to buy nourishment and feel nourished.

And…no matter what I think of war or our politicians, it’s people whom I’ve known such as the farmers who had many children go to war, who help feed the young men and women who have served our country….to both, I salute you.

Meatless Monday: Grilled Caesar Salad (just Meatless) and Family Suppers

Restaurant and Waiting Tables
Restaurant and Waiting Tables

It’s a funny thing about Caesar Salads. They bring me right back to waiting tables/bartending or working in a restaurant kitchen. Many of the “family meals” when I worked in restaurants consisted of a salad, burgers, pizza or pasta. There was never any of the slaved over staff dinners that is being touted in the new cookbook “OFF THE MENU: Staff Meals from America’s Favorite Restaurants”. (Lucky them!) In the almost 2 decades of not working in eateries, clearly the times have changed since I plied my trade for tips or peeled potatoes. (I wonder how many publicists actually worked in a commercial kitchen?)

Secondly, I love the salad…when made right. They have a wonderful garlicky and salty crunch that reminds me of eating a potato chip. It’s that bite of lettuce snapping and saltiness from the dissolved anchovy. (Yep, a Caesar with anchovies…kind of novel, huh?) And, then made with a coddled egg, (yep, again a little more novelty… made with an egg) just cooked so the yolk is still runny to give it the unctuouness, clinging to the Romaine and holding the freshly grated Parmesan.

Thirdly, bringing me back to where I started, the family meal at a restaurant…when the dinner shift began at one of the five New York City restaurants that I had worked in during the 80s and early 90s, and my co-workers, some of who are friends to this day, would talk about their mornings and afternoons, of auditions, of gallery installations, of stapling resumes to headshots, of writing….or of getting over last night’s hangover…of being in my early 20s.

Lastly, they remind me of warm New York City summer nights with blaring taxis horns, beautifully curvaceous women wobbling in excessively high shoes, worked out men in tight T-shirts and baggy jeans, neon lights, shots of tequila and one of the happiest times in my life. (Of course, I wish I knew it then.)

Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons
Grilled Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Who knew that all these memories came in a salad and some nourishment too?

YOU WILL NEED (2 servings):
1 clove garlic
2 anchovies (or paste).
1 egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 juice of one lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan (However much you want)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heads romaine lettuce
Croutons (Store bought or homemade. Make it easy on yourself. Do what you want and have time to do.)

GRILL THE LETTUCE (Or skip this altogether and chill lettuce for about 5 minutes in the freezer. If you do this, just tear the lettuce apart just before you dress it.)
1. Heat grill.
2. Peel outer leaves of romaine off until you get to the heart. (Or you can leave a couple of the dark leaves on.) Cut in half.
3. Brush cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Place on grill until slightly charred and wilted.
5. Remove from grill.
6. Arrange prettily on plates, cut side up.

LET’S MAKE THE DRESSING:
1. Using the blade of a knife, carefully make a paste with the anchovy and garlic. Just mash it together and add a little…just a drop or two of oil.
2. Put this paste and the remaining ingredients… egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice… into a mixing bowl or food processor.
3. Whisk or process for about 30 to 40 seconds until the mixture is smooth. (If whisking, go a little longer. If you are really anal about it, pull out the timer and set it for a minute…and whisk.)
4. Now add the olive oil slowly until it becomes mixed and a little thicker, similar to a thin aoili (this may not happen if you are using a whisk…but give it a try.)
5. Add some Parmesan, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Get a pepper grinder if you don’t have one. It makes a huge difference.) You can refrigerate the dressing if you make a little too much.

LET’S FINISH THIS PUPPY UP:
1. Arrange the heads of lettuce cut side up.
2. Pour the dressing in a ‘Z’ pattern over lettuce.
3. Use enough dressing for you to be satisfied and happy. Dress the the salad to your liking but don’t over do it. (Remember, you pay that trainer at the gym a lot of money.)
4. Sprinkle with the freshly grated Parmesan.
5. Arrange croutons, ever so….
6. Voila!
7. Take a picture and upload to Instagram. (Most important part. You can use my photo if you don’t think yours is photogenic. You have my permission.)