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

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

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

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

Breakfast: Margarita Manzke, Republique:

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

Republique

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

 

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

Lunch:  Alisa Reynolds, My Two Cents

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

My Two Cents

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

 

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

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

ICDC LA

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

 

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

Dinner:  Susan Feniger:  Mud Hen Tavern & Border Grill

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

Mud Hen Tavern

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

Santa Monica Border Grill

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

The end. Go eat. 

 

 

 

 

 

i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable

i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna SableToronto-based Joanna Sable is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who grew up with gourmet foods – her mother started Sable and Rosenfeld (love their Tipsy Olives!) with one condiment – Russian Mustard – and expanded it to the global company we know today. Her grandparents moved to North America after WWI – and by then, people didn’t want to get their groceries from a farm anymore – opening a can of food was a sign of prestige! She grew up in a family that opened said cans, and learned to cook from those humble beginnings. She remembers being quite young and making an after-school snack for her sister of sautéed zucchini – and her life in cooking snowballed from there.

Her innate love of food has inspired her interesting and full career in the food industry, from consulting to writing to chefing to recipe development and testing for cookbooks. Her gourmet canning business, Bumpercrop (which she has since sold), turned unwanted items on farms and made it into good food, such as pickled garlic scapes and green tomato garlic jam. She is currently a consultant to the food industry, and helps food businesses maximize their potential within their existing spaces.

i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable
Blowing out the candles on the birthday cake Benj made me. Gotta love the jacket. I think he is proud to wear it.

When we talked, I was inspired by her love for good, delicious, interesting food. She is also passionate about educating and giving back. Joanna cooks every Sunday with her 20 year old autistic cousin, Benj – and these cooking classes make a difference not only for Benj, but also for other autistic people, to learn to connect with food and cooking. You can follow Benj’s cooking classes on pinterest.

i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable
Nutella granola, drizzled with more Nutella and ripe bananas. Here’s the kicker….skim milk

When I asked Joanna about her work, she noted, “This is the most wonderful industry – the people in it have bigger hearts than anywhere in the world- they are passionate, givers, and every day I am proud to be in this place that I am. There’s not a minute of the day that I don’t love my industry and most of the people in it.”

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? Since I was born! My first food job was in a gourmet food shop and the owner pulled me into the kitchen and put me to work! My first recipe as a chef was chocolate mousse.

Braised Endive. i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable
Without a doubt, braising is one of my favourite ways to cook veggies. Halved Belgian Endive with a hit of lemon and @stirlingbutter Whey butter, a good sprinkling of sea salt and cracked pepper and into the oven they go.

What is your favorite food to cook? Italian. The reason is because you have to buy the best quality of the simplest products. It has to be perfect to start with – the best olive oil, beautiful fresh lemons – there are so few components that everything has to shine. I love the challenge of starting from square one with the most perfect thing.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Water, eggs, lots of condiments, bread, pickles, dog food, Sable and Rosenfeld goods. Always good cheese, always good breads.

i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable
Flecks of saffron and spicy Portuguese chorice are a perfect base with loads of fennel, garlic, onions, white wine and soon tomatoes for a brilliant seafood stew.

What do you cook at home? Everything. It depends on if I am having a dinner party or just home. When I became a chef, I became bored with the same thing every night – I really like cooking like a caterer. When I have a dinner party, everything can be ¾ done before the guests come. The other night, I made a San Francisco style seafood stew – chorizo, seafood, fennel, etc. and everything was ready – just dumped it together 10 min before we sat down to eat and called it dinner. I like to cook where it looks effortless. Simplistic, easy things – what country do I want to cook from tonight? That challenges me. As a chef, I want to be challenged.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Someone who is willing to make changes and allows me to do the job they hired me for.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
People who are stuck and who hire me and waste their money and my time. Procrastinators.

Gorgeous tacos filled with the most lovely moist pulled park and plenty of good crunchy veg. Best part is the sweet hot jalapeño relish. i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable
Gorgeous tacos filled with the most lovely moist pulled park and plenty of good crunchy veg. Best part is the sweet hot jalapeño relish. From @Morocochocolat

@Morocochocolat

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Wine

Your favorite cookbook author? Fanny Farmer and Craig Claiborne. These were my first two books when I was 19 and going to Europe to cook for the first time just before I went to Cordon Bleu in London – my best friend gave me those two books and to this day, they are my go to for reference. Also Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything – a phenomenal book for the start out cook. The other cookbook author I think is truly genius is Jamie Oliver – every recipe works.

Your favorite kitchen tool? My 8 inch chef knife.

Your favorite ingredient? Olive oil

Your least favorite ingredient? Anything processed

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Wipe down appliances

i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable
Cavernous heaven. Porchetta the way it should be. Crack, crunchy, moist and tender. Inspirational. From @porecllocantina

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian, French, Mediterranean, Spanish, Portuguese, Jewish

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? Pork

Favorite vegetable? Artichokes

Chef you most admire? Daniel Boulud, Dan Barber – and for his generosity of spirit, Paul Boehmer

Food you like the most to eat? Simple, perfectly made food from any cuisine

Food you dislike the most? Bad pizza, soggy, gross, yucky pizza

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? 0

 

Recipe: 5 Ingredient Mock Kimchi

Shred Napa cabbage and chinese cabbage – use both or whatever you can find. Dump it in a bowl with a jar of Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce, a few shots of Tamari, a few spoons of rice wine vinegar, and a sprinkle of sugar. Massage well and leave in bowl. Every once in a while, give it a mix. Cover overnight, drain, and use as a side for pork tenderloin or on sandwiches.

Joanna Sable's Mock Kimchi. From i8tonite with Toronto Chef, Consultant, and Entrepreneur Joanna Sable
Joanna Sable’s Mock Kimchi

 

More of Joanna Sable’s recipes without amounts.

 

– The End. Go Eat. – 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Joanna Sable

 

i8tonite: with James Beard Award-Winning Chef Naomi Pomeroy from Portland, Oregon’s Beast featuring her recipe for Lacquered Duck Confit

NOTE: This is the first post of 2016. You would think I would write something with a little more auspiciousness or something marking the occasion. However, I loved this story from 2015. I feel Naomi Pomeroy is a great chef making amazing inroads into an industry dominated by men. The recipe — although difficult is amazing. I would love to highlight more entrepreneurial female chefs like her, Kelly Chapman of Macolicious and Monica Glass.

I’ve been to Portland and had delicious food many times but not to Chef Naomi Pomeroy’s restaurant Beast. Portland has become one of the great food cities of our country. It’s placement on that list is certainly attributable to Chef Pomeroy.

Naomi with greens by door - Alicia J Rose
Photo Credit: Alicia J Rose

She has many accolades including stories in Gourmet and Elle Magazine; Bon Appètit named her one of the top six of a new generation of female chefs in September 2008; Food & Wine Magazine recognized her as one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America for 2009. In 2010, Oprah magazine named her one of the Top 10 Women to Watch in the Next Decade, and Marie Claire named her one of the top 16 Women in Business. She has given several lectures on creativity, including a TedX talk given in 2013.

In the local Oregon publications, Portland Monthly voted Naomi Chef of the Year in 2008. Beast was honored as Restaurant of the Year in 2008 by the Oregonian and chosen as best Brunch by the Willamette Weekly. Naomi has been the sole owner of Beast since 2009 when she paid back her investors.

In 2010, 2012, and 2013, she was selected as a finalist for the James Beard Awards in the category Best Chef Pacific Northwest. In 2014, she was selected as the recipient of this prestigious award.

How long have you been cooking? Since I was 5.

What is your favorite food? Corn Dogs.

What do you always have in your fridge? Condiments.

What do you cook at home? Right now I’m working on my cookbook, so whatever recipe I’m testing. Currently, that means a lot of soufflé.

What marked characteristic do you despise in your customer? I hate it when people really examine their food, pick it apart, and look at it too long before the eat it. I’m standing right in front of them!

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? When people come up after a meal and take the time to say that they loved it.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex, I don’t cook in plastic.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Rosé.

Your favorite cookbook author? Madeline Kammann.

Your favorite kitchen tool?  Ricer.

Your favorite ingredient? Demi-glace.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Scoop ice cream.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Indian.

Chef you most admire? José Andrés.

Food you dislike the most? White pepper.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? One. Not food.


Lacquered Duck Confit with Cracked Green Olive & Armagnac Prune Relish

Serves 8

For the spice blend:

  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorn
  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 6 juniper berries
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 bay leaves

For the duck:

  • 10-12 duck legs (preferably 6-8 ounces each, from Muscovy ducks)
  • 1 head garlic, cut into quarters (no need to peel the cloves)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 3 quarts duck fat (more if the duck legs are closer to 10-12 ounces)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt per leg for duck /8 teaspoons

For the lacquer:

  • ½ cup aged sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • ½  teaspoon salt

For the relish:

  • 1 cup cracked and pitted castelvetrano olives
  • 1 cup Armagnac prunes, quartered
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
  • 1 generous pinch chili flake
  • ½ teaspoon fennel pollen
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Make the spice blend: In a medium skillet, lightly toast all spices, with the exception of the bay leaves. You will know the spices are properly toasted when they begin to slightly change color and their aromatic oils begin to release a lovely fragrance.

Add the toasted spices and bay leaves to a spice grinder (or a coffee grinder reserved for this purpose) and finely grind. Shake spices through a mesh strainer to ensure that there are no large, un-blended spices. Re-grind as necessary.

Make the duck legs: Rinse the duck and dry it well on a paper towel. At the end of the long bone opposite the meaty side, use a sharp paring knife or good kitchen shears to score all the way around the circumference of the bone to cut away any tendon, which helps prevent any meat from tearing. This will create a more beautiful presentation.

Combine the salt with the spice mix. Season each leg with about ¾ teaspoon of the salt-spice mix, evenly on both sides, and place in a single layer in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish or Dutch oven. Place the dish in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, take the duck legs out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325°F. Remove and dry each of the duck legs. Clean out the dish and return the dried duck legs to it. Add the garlic and thyme. In a small saucepan over low heat, gently warm the duck fat. Pour the fat over the duck legs so that they’re completely submerge and covered by at least ¼” of fat. (If necessary, some of the legs can be moved into a second dish and covered in fat, so long as they’re all still completely submerged, meaning that you may need a little more fat.)

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the top of the dish, then completely cover the top with foil. Place the dish onto a sheet tray to catch any bubbling fat that might spill over into the oven. Place the dish into the oven and set a timer to check on it in one hour. Depending on the size of your legs, they can take anywhere from 1 ½ to 3 hours to cook.

You’ll know the duck is finished when you carefully remove one leg from the fat and place it on a plate, then, using your tongs, press down with medium pressure at the place where the meat and the bone join in the crook of the thigh. The meat will begin to release easily from the bone.

When the duck is cooked, remove the foil and parchment and allow the legs to cool for 20 minutes in the duck fat before moving them onto a parchment-lined sheet tray. Reserve the duck fat in a plastic container and place the sheet tray with the legs in the refrigerator overnight.

For the relish, combine the olives and prunes in a medium mixing bowl. In a small saute pan, warm half of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallot, garlic and chili flakes. Lower heat to ensure nothing gets color. Add fennel pollen. As soon as the shallot and garlic are translucent, after about 5 minutes, remove them from heat and add to the prune and olive mix. Add sherry vinegar and additional olive oil and stir. Set aside.

On the day of serving, make the lacquer: Pull the duck legs out of the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature.

In a small saucepan, heat the sherry vinegar over medium-high heat. Add muscovado sugar and salt and bring to a boil until slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

If this mixture has thickened too much upon cooling, add a splash of sherry vinegar. Its consistency when hot should be slightly thinner than honey (when room temperature it should be thicker, but still brushable). Leave this out at room temperature; it will harden it it gets too cold.

Preheat oven to 400F°. In each of two medium-sized nonstick or cast iron (oven-proof) pans, heat 2 tablespoons of the duck fat used to confit the duck over medium-high heat. Sear the duck legs, skin side down, weighing them down onto the pan with a heavy plate, until golden brown, approximately 1-2 minutes. Check frequently for an even, golden brown, crisp surface. Remove the plate and flip the legs.

Brush the legs with a thin layer of the lacquer. Add about ¼ cup water to the bottom of each pan to prevent the sugars from sticking. Move the pans to oven and cook until the lacquer is bubbling, 5-6 minutes.
Remove the pans from the oven and serve immediately. Serve with cracked green olive & Armagnac prune relish.

 – The End. Go Eat. –

I8tonite: Gratineed Cauliflower with Parmigiana -Reggiano

20151003_180219I was in a yet to be opened LA restaurant at a friends and family tryout. It’s  a common practice among well-financed restaurants –  a testing of the waters before media reviews and the paying patrons type of thing.  Invited along with some media, local chefs, restaurant bon vivants and a few Los Angeles gadflies my fellow dining compatriot who was actually the invitee. I was along for the ride. We had met over several bottles of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay, Russian River at the Four Seasons Los Angeles years before.  (One of my favorite — I used to drink it like water back in the day.) As we sat there eating the comped food — testing and trying – I was disappointed. I mean, I know it was free – and had I been paying I would have sent some of it back. (The waitstaff was tipped on the bill that we would have been charged.) There was too much sauce on everything, the squid had been broiled too long and the flatbread – which used to be known as pizza — was a blackboard with artisanal toppings.  Seated at the next deuce to us, were the lovely husband and wife team of one my favorite LA eateries. My dining companion, the unnamed couple and I were talking amongst ourselves about how the best food is sometimes the simplest.  It doesn’t always need the sauce or maybe a little less of the herb; perhaps the watermelon radish pesto needs to evolve into something less. As we chatted about how disenchanted with the food we were, the phrase “keep it simple” kept popping up. Matter of fact, the female half – she was the pastry chef — of the cooking couple said, “Always take one thing away.” (Famed fashion designer Coco Chanel said that about dressing but it works for food just as well.)

Simple. It’s something that the famed chefs Alice Waters references in her cookbook, The Art of Simple Food; Cal Peternell’s Twelve Recipes – a series of cooking instructions for his college-going son on the essential twelve recipes – and Marcella Hazan, the Queen of Italian home-cooking who said, “What you keep out is as significant as what you put in.”

I try and apply this to my everyday life now – what I keep out is as significant as I put in.

(October 1 was Ms. Hazan’s second anniversary of her death. I didn’t know her but I’ve cooked from her books often.  This recipe is adapted from her Essentials of Italian Cooking and is dedicated to her.)

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets. Keep the rest for a vegetable or chicken stock later on.
  • 1 – 2 grated cups really good parmigiana-reggiano.
  • Half stick of unsalted butter
  • (Optional and my suggestion: A clove or two of garlic, several dashes of red chili flakes and parsley).

Let’s make this puppy:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. While that gets nice and toasty, boil a large pot of salted water. Once the H2O it’s roiling and toiling, throw in the cauliflower and cook al dente – about 10 minutes. (It should have a little bit of a bite.) Drain in a colander.

Take a baking dish which will go from oven to table. Using the butter, grease up the dish liberally. Add the florets packing them in tightly. Dot with more butter and cover with the cheese. (This is where I slide in some garlic and sprinkle lightly with the chili flakes. You don’t have to – it just adds a little to the final product.) Place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes until the cheese is a browned and beautifully crusted.

Chop some fresh parsley, throw on top and serve.

You can also do this with ramekins so you serve individually. That’s up to you….isn’t it amazing what you can do with three ingredients?

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: Country Captain, a Carolina’s LowCountry Dish

437px-Moving_Day_1856

By now, dear reader, you’ve ascertained I’ve moved from the City of Angels (Los Angeles) to the Valley of the Sun (Phoenix). And, it’s been pretty stellar. I’m loving the constant dry heat, no traffic and beautiful horizons. Moving takes you out of your comfort zone and encourages exploration whether you want to or not.  So that’s what I’ve been doing exploring –  discovering new foods, markets and restaurants in Phoenix –determining my own growth, both professionally and spiritually. (Yep…I said it.) I know my cooking is now reflecting that change.


300px-Map_of_the_South_Carolina_Lowcountry.svg

In the month that I’ve lived in the Southwest, I’ve cooked with all sorts of peppers that I wouldn’t normally use: pasilla, ancho, Anaheim, hatch, jalapeno and habanero. I’m also trying to find different recipes – not so much for techniques but unusual combinations that I haven’t heard.  This brings me to a dish called country captain, a low country Carolina poultry tradition that I had never, ever heard of.  (Even though my grandmother lived in South Carolina and cooked lowcountry food.) Since making this the first time, it has now become one of my top ten favorite things to eat. I’m not even going to get into the history of this recipe as writer Robert Moss details it incredibly well on the blog Serious Eats. The Southern-based culinary siblings’ team of Matt and Ted Lee do the same during a “throwdown” with Chef Bobby Flay on this dish.

IMG_20150819_174424

Country captain is a gastronomic flavor treasure and can be made in one pot or deep skillet which is also one of my favorite things about making it. It’s also not something – although I’m not certain — you will find in hip foodie restaurants. In my opinion, it would be hard to make it “restaurant pretty”. It’s a thick, lovely sauce poured over buttered rice …or noodles, mashed potatoes or a delicious toasted bread. (Although, I can see it plated in individual cast iron pots.)

20150823_165541 (2)

I’ve tested out three different recipes and as always, I find the simplest way to be the best. You can make it a little leaner — for the calorie counters — by using pounded skinless and boneless chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. I found that the butter used to crisp the chicken was enough fat. Ultimately, the resulting dish is a cross between an Italian chicken cacciotore and a simple Indian tomato-based curry. Regardless, the aroma, sapidness and textures are extraordinary, making it great for family meals, parties and gatherings.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken, cut up into pieces or skinless boneless chicken pounded into uniform thickness.
  • Seasoned flour for dredging
  • Half a stick of butter for frying. (Keep the other half close…you might want to use it.)
  • Chopped onions: Spanish, yellow or Maui.
  • Fresh thyme.
  • Green peppers – lately, I’ve been using poblano. I find the dish is a little more pepper pungent – not spicy – but greener tasting with the poblano but use whatever is on sale at the farmers market.
  • Yellow curry. Go to an Indian market. The stuff at your local market is dreck. It needs to be as fresh as possible.
  • 1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes or other can without salt. (Please make sure you get it without the salt. With the salt….OMG, horrifying…it was like a sodium cocktail with tomato.)
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped blanched almonds
  • Raisins or currants.
  • ½ cup or so of white wine for deglazing (or chicken broth).
  • Optional: Garam marsala. (Also, if you do use garam masala, get this at your Indian market too. The stuff at your local market is adequate….but just that, adequate. You will taste a difference. But don’t let that impede you from making this dish before running out and getting the curry and the masala.)

Yellow Curry

Let’s make this puppy:

  1. Melt half stick of butter. While this is going on rinse and dry chicken and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, big enough to toss the chicken, eyeball out 2 cups of flour. Season heavily with salt and pepper. Stir.
  3. Throw in the chicken and coat well with the flour. By this time, the butter should have melted. Place the chicken into the skillet or pan. Depending on the size of the chicken, you might need to use two pans. Overcrowding doesn’t allow for the browning.
  4. Brown the chicken well on both sides. While chicken is browning, slice up the peppers, onions and garlic. Cut the vegetables into quarter inch strips and mince the garlic.
  5. Once all the chicken is browned – you can strain, removing the burnt flour and re-use the butter. Either way, deglaze the pan with a little wine or stock. Add the butter back to the pan or refresh with that butter I told you that you might need.
  6. Add pepper, onions and garlic. Cook until softened.
  7. Pour in the can of tomatoes. Stir in the curry, thyme – adjust the seasoning and if wanted…add the garam masala.
  8. Stir until bubbly. Turn down the heat, add chicken back to the pan and cover until cooked through about 20 – 25 minutes.
  9. Chopped parsley for garnishing. Serve chicken on top of rice with parsley, currants/ raisins and almonds.
  10. F******g AWESOME!!!

– The End. Go Eat. –

Chef Questionnaire with Chef Scooter Kanfer-Cartmill, Palm Springs’ Tropicale Cafe.

SInce I’m still traveling here is a re-dux in case you missed it of Chef Scooter Kanfer-Cartmill. Next week, Chef Christopher Hill, Bachelor Kitchen.

What is Sonoran-style Mexican Food?

SInce I’m not cooking this week but traveling in Arizona, I’ve become fascinated by the difference between Tex-Mex, Southwest, New Mexican and Sonoran as well as the state food which is the Arizona Cheese Crisp or Chimichanga. I wanted to be able to share this food experience as I learn about what is truly Arizona cuisine.

I8tonite: A Simple Roasted Chicken

As I was making my roasted chicken on Friday night, I thought to myself how gloriously easy it is. The only thing I added was the leftover jalapeno and lime compound butter from the grilled London Broil the night before; otherwise it was a simple roasted chicken.

Preheat the oven to about 380 – 390. While the oven does its thing, take a small bird of about 3 – 5 pounds and stuff if with some, salt, pepper, wedges of lemon and onion, garlic and herbs. Put some butter under the skin (optional); drizzle the skin with olive oil. Cover for the first 30 minutes. Uncover to brown. In about an hour, at 12 to 15 minutes per pound. Chicken is done when the juices run clear. (If not done, tent again for another 15 minutes.) In roughly an hour to an hour and a quarter, a herbaceous, citrusy and succulent dinner is on the table (or coffee table in front of the TV or computer) for a party of 2 to 4; possible, leftovers for lunch.

Ostensibly, any home-cook can take this variation and change it. Using only thighs or legs. Breasts. Half-chicken. Quartered chicken. Spatchcocked. Make a bed of all the ingredients and put into the roasting pan. Instead of wedges, cut everything into slices so the chicken lays evenly and place chicken on top. Salt and pepper.  Drizzle olive oil and cover for half of cooking time; uncover for duration. Again, same period of time 12 – 15 per pound. You don’t even have to cover the chicken. I only do it speed up the roasting time with a little steaming before the browning.

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I’m preaching to the choir, me thinks. ….

And here, with the recipe first, dear reader, you will not have to listen to my diatribe about cooking at home. It is such a wonderful thing to cook for yourself (meaning by yourself as a party of one) or your family. Before Nick came along, I was cooking by myself all the time. Experimenting. Changing things up. I love cooking. It gets me out of my head. Stirring. Blending. Roasting. Chopping. I don’t need the audience. I really love to do it.

Recently, on my favorite social media site, someone queried, “If you could leave one thing behind, what would it be?” I answered, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

After writing this, the one thing I would really love to instill is a love of cooking. It separates us from the rest of the species on our planet and yet, it binds us to the world as well.  Our choices in how we eat, what we eat and how it gets to that table is the binding. It’s cyclical.  Cooking encompasses all of our essential human needs in one act. Sharing, loving and caring.

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Cuban Mojo (pronounced “mo-ho”, not Austin Powers “mojo”) Chicken

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Nick is cooking tonight…and he’s making Cuban Mojo Chicken which is a marinade or sauce of only 5 ingredients: bitter orange, freshly ground cumin seeds, garlic, fresh oregano and olive oil. Having lived in Miami for most of his adult life, Nick loves Cuban food. According to LAist, there are quite a few Cuban restaurants in Echo Park, which we will need to check out.

Mojo originally appeared in The Canary Islands which are not far from Spain. As the frisky Spaniards started conquering The New World, we know they brought much of their language and food with them. This marinade which is fairly international, as the travelers dropped anchor at every island, can be made with any combination of acid/ oil such as red peppers (roasted and ground), green peppers (roasted and ground), cilantro, onions, and on and on.

In Cuban cooking, mojo typically applies to any sauce that is made with garlic, olive oil, and a citrus, in this case, bitter orange. Home cooks will notice in Cuban recipes that mojo is frequently used to flavor the yucca and is also used to marinate roast pork.  Cubans supposedly refer to the sauce as ‘mojito’ – not to be confused with the mint, rum and cachaça drink — and used for dipping fried plantain chips and yucca.  (I don’t know that for sure because the closest Cuban I have to is Nick. And he’s half Ecuadorean, not from Cuba but only lived in Miami where there is massive Cuban community. HA!)

If finding bitter (Seville) oranges is difficult – but not impossible — you might find it easier to add a couple of tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime and lemon to the fresh orange juice which is what Nick does.

(Incidentally, consumers can find this bottled and made with cornstarch. Don’t buy it. Make it. It’s so much better.)

1 to 1 ½ heads of garlic

1 cup fresh bitter orange juice (or if you can’t find  that substitute ½ cup of fresh orange juice, 1/8 cup of fresh lime juice (or approximate) , 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1 ½ teaspoons of dried)

1 full teaspoon toasted and freshly ground cumin seeds (Easy to find in your local market and will make a HUGE difference in the outcome with a wonderful smoky flavor.)

(With salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste)

Mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle or smash it into a paste which the flat side of a knife. Toast the cumin seeds in a skillet until fragrant. Grind.

Place everything into a bowl and stir well. Marinate any meat (chicken, pork or beef) for in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Grill, roast or broil according to your taste. It’s a taste of the islands…and drink lots of mojitos.

 

 

 

 

Mâche, Lamb’s Lettuce or Corn Salad: It’s Delicious Whatever You Call It

Lamb's Lettuce

Have you ever eaten something that was so divinely simple and loved it? No cooking, no baking?  I mean almost completely unadorned that you thought your tastebuds were flawed because it was just two ingredients? Essentially, that’s how I discovered mâche (corn salad, lamb’s lettuce) while in Provence. (I know. How much more pretentious can I possibly get? I did eat my Southern grandmother’s biscuits with Scrapple too in South Carolina….but that’s another story.)

We were staying at this particular luxury hotel over the holidays and dining on the New Year’s Eve menu. The property, as well as the menu, was brimming with all the French finery that one finds while eating in a Michelin-starred, French- country side restaurant. We were drinking champagne out of a Nebuchadnezzar, eating foie gras on toast, as well as a beautiful yet delicate leaf served with pickled beets.  I’ve eaten richly fat foie gras on toast, hard-boiled eggs topped with Russian caviar and steak tartare prepared tableside but this tiny and delicate lettuce, with some roots still left on, in that moment, captivated my tongue.   While the compact waiter hefted up the Nebuchadnezzar to refill my flute, which was roughly the size of him, I asked what the delicate green was and he replied in French, “Mâche, monsieur.”

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Since then, I have eaten the nutty-tasting, tender mâche every chance I get during the late winter. It’s a hearty plant, albeit delicate to the taste, and stands up well to frost. It’s hard to believe it was thought to be a weed. Mache is a native lettuce to France, where it has been cultivated since the 17th century under the name, “doucette”. Shockingly, there are now over 200 different mâche varieties, with each noted for its character and climate agreeability.

Mâche was presented to the United States by Todd Koons, farmer and agricultural innovator (he created the supermarket staple of bagged mixed greens). Mache became slightly popular amongst the culinary set during the late 20th century.

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I won’t say that cooking mâche is unacceptable. I’ve just never had it cooked but it’s nature and tenderness to the palette makes me feel it wouldn’t be stellar. I would mix it with other cooked ingredients though such as beets, or small potatoes, perhaps, a form of citrus and apples. For me, the best way to eat mâche is raw, washed well, and drizzled with walnut or olive oil and a touch of salt; add a little well-aged shaved mimolette to the mix and a roasted fish or poultry. That is a meal.