Red curry paste is simmered in a creamy bechamel sauce for classic mac 'n cheese. The resulting taste offers a hint of curry with a subtly spicy finish.Read More
You know The Boiling Crab's Whole Shebang sauce? Here it is... well, my version of it. It's bold, buttery, slightly lemony and slightly spicy. Prep is a cinch and it cooks in under 10 minutes.Read More
I made this recipe for my facially-injured roommate. She's one of those weirdos who doesn't really like mashed potatoes. So I improvised, treating her to this dish plus some braised short ribs.Read More
Living on a budget is hard enough. If you love gorging yourself with all kinds of food, it's even more difficult to keep that wallet shut. So, in order to balance it all out, I'm figuring out cheap meal plans. But I'm done eating like a college kid.Read More
I know, sometimes Brussels sprouts taste like feet. But when coated with the right vinaigrette, flash fried, or sautéed, these tiny vegetables have a complex richness, an earthy savoriness that fills your mouth. There's nothing like it.Read More
It's almost the end of summer (though you wouldn't know it if you lived in Los Angeles) and you might find yourself with a bunch of extra tomatoes. Try this fresh tomato soup. It's thick, like a bisque, but healthy, sans the cream.Read More
Tuna tartare is one of those things that literally makes my mouth water upon thinking of it, and I never feel guilty about stuffing my face silly with the stuff. I like it with a little extra kick so I use prepared horseradish or at least a squirt of Sriracha.Read More
I'll admit it -- I was always nervous about cooking plantains because it's a common mistake to overcook them. But in this recipe, green plantains are twice-fried, so it can be made in a pinch.Read More
I'm always on the lookout for party food recipes, and it's an added bonus when the leftovers can be used for meals for the rest of the week. This tilapia ceviche is one of those dishes: your guests will eat bowls of it, and if you have any left over, you'll be blessed with a healthy, protein and vegetable-rich treat. It is, after all, made with fresh fish, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, bell peppers and cilantro. Savory and juicy, this ceviche is a substantial yet refreshing appetizer. I like the Marcela Valladolid recipe -- it's easy to follow and isn't too juicy. I've just simplified it even further.
Serves: 8 Prep time: 30 minutes
Ingredients: 2 pounds tilapia fillets (about 8 fillets), cut into small cubes 1 cup lime juice (from about 10 limes, or buy lime juice) 3 tomatoes, small cubed 1 cucumber, small cubed 1/2 medium-sized red onion, small cubed 1 green bell pepper, small cubed 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (about 1/3 of a bunch), finely chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 serrano chile, finely chopped (optional) 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced or cubed Tortilla chips (for serving, optional)
1. In a medium bowl, pour the lime juice over the cubed tilapia and mix gently to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the fish is white and opaque, about 1 hour. (Or, you can start this recipe a day before, and leave this overnight.)
2. Remove fish from the refrigerator and drain the lime juice. Discard the juice. Mix in the tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in the chile, if using. If desired, mixed in the cubed avocado. Or, garnish the top with avocado slices.
3. Serve with tortilla chips or corn tostada.
My Notes What I did differently: Rather than measuring out the quantity of each vegetable, I figured it was easier to go with actual vegetables quantities. It doesn't need to be precise, and it's easy to grab and chop 3 tomatoes rather than measure our an exact cup or half-cup. I also added green bell peppers -- the added crunch and color makes it a perfect addition.
Aren't you supposed to cook fish?! Technically, by immersing the fish in lime juice, you are cooking it. More specifically, you're denaturing the proteins. So don't worry -- this tilapia is cooked thoroughly. Just make sure before adding the vegetables and seasonings that it's opaque and white all over.
I'll admit it: I'm lazy. Although I try to be mindful to give ingredients the time and respect they deserve, I also try to cut corners whenever possible. This means blanching all my veggies in one pot -- regardless of color (and yes, I've blanched a whole beet, potatoes and peas all in one pot and had no trouble at all), and periodically reaching for the can of crushed garlic in my refrigerator (but don't tell anyone that shameful secret!). So I figured it only makes sense that I'd "cheat" my way through a potato chip recipe. Ordinarily, one would fry these in a big pot, but I try to bake rather than fry whenever possible. Usually, you can just leave the food in the oven and forget about it temporarily. Plus, it's healthier. When making potato chips, you have to slice the potatoes very thinly, about 1/8 of an inch. You may be able to do this with your trusty chef's knife, but I prefer to use a mandoline. It's much faster and more accurate. Just be careful you don't shave your fingers!
Serves: 4 Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Ingredients: 2 large Russet potatoes 3 tablespoons olive oil kosher salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wash and scrub the potato. Leaving the skin on, slice into 1/8" rounds.
3. Soak the slices in a bowl of water for a few minutes to rinse some of the starches off. Dry with paper towels.
4. In a clean bowl, toss the potato slices in olive oil. Arrange in one layer on a silicon baking sheet mounted on a sheet pan.
5. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Sprinkle with salt again.
My Notes: Can I use additional seasonings? Of course! Be creative! When the chips are done baking, try sprinkling some cayenne pepper (for a spicy kick) or grating some Parmesan cheese over the top (because who doesn't love cheese?).
This is one of the few recipes that takes two basic foods that foodies love -- bread and cheese -- and folds them together into a super yummy, elegant treat. As a warning, this is not for the health conscious. I figured after all my recent posts about Nicoise salad, kale chips and a green smoothie, I was long overdue for a rich, cheesy, gourmet recipe. Call it by its original French name, Brie en croute (or "Brie in pastry case"), if you like, but for your guests who will stare at you blankly, you can just call this baked brie in puff pastry. If you're in a time crunch and planning a party, this Brie en croute can be done in a snap. Save time with store-bought puff pastry, or read on to learn how to make your own.
Serves: 8-10 Prep time: 5 minutes (when using pre-made dough); or about 50 minutes (when making dough from scratch) Cook time: about 20-25 minutes
Ingredients: For the dough: Homemade puff pastry dough
1 store-bought puff pastry sheet 1 egg, beaten (for eggwash)
For the cheese filling: 2 4-ounce wheels of Brie cheese OR 1 8-ounce wheel of Brie cheese
For serving: Crackers (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap dough.
2. Roll out the finished or store-bought pastry puff dough to slightly more than 1/4" thickness. Using a ruler as a guide (if needed), cut two 5" squares, or one 10" square.
3. Place each wheel of Brie cheese onto the square(s). (The 5" squares get the two 4-ounce cheese wheels; the larger, 10" square gets the one 8-ounce cheese wheel.) Gently fold each corner/flap of the square onto the middle of the cheese wheel. Brush with eggwash. Flip over and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with eggwash all over.
4. Bake at 350 degrees until the puff pastry is golden brown all around, about 20-25 minutes. Every oven is different, though, so be sure to check on it at the 15 minute mark! When it's finished, allow to cool slightly before serving.
5. If desired, serve with crackers.
My Notes: Why use eggwash? The eggwash gives the pastry that lovely golden sheen. Plus, it acts as a sealing agent.
Why fold the dough 2-3 times? Puff pastry is a pretty complex dough, one that needs to be folded repeatedly in order to correctly (and beautifully) flake.
Kale chips -- they're delicious! I swear! Lately, I've been keeping an eye out on healthy meal choices (hence my recipe for a Green Smoothie) partly because of the disapproving looks I get from my boyfriend whenever I bury my face in a bag of Tapatio-flavored Doritos ("You're not better than me!" I cry as I return to my chips, sinking into a spiral of shame), and partly because of the super-yummy but rich and fatty dishes I've been learning to make at culinary school. I had been hearing about these crispy kale chips for awhile now. Heck, just about every food blogger has a recipe. (I'm partial to the one from For The Love Of Food, mostly because of the pictures.) I was excited to try them out, but didn't have particularly high expectations because, to me, nothing can ever replace Doritos... or Flamin' Hot Fries. And wow. Wowowow. Delish. Megish. Indeed. They're really crunchy, super light, savory, earthy, salty, nutty. These aren't lame diet bagel chips. Or bland, unsalted raw nuts. These are the real deal potato chip alternative. Without further ado, the recipe for baked kale, oven-roasted kale, crispy kale, kale chips -- whatever you want to call them:
Serves: 2 Prep time: 2-5 minutes Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Ingredients: 1 bunch kale (the curly kind, about 4-5 stalks) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt Cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Start with dry kale. Otherwise, they'll turn out soggy. Either wash the stalks hours beforehand, or pat to dry and make sure there's no visible moisture. Rip leaves off stalks.
2. Toss in olive oil. The kale shouldn't be fully covered in olive oil, just a very light coat.
3. Place kale on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mat. Bake in oven until the leaves' edges brown slightly, about 10-15 minutes. My oven tends to run a bit on the hotter side, so I bake mine for 10 minutes.
4. Set aside to cool, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and if desired, cayenne pepper.
My Notes: What if I overcook the kale? Hey, it happens. It'll have a bitter, burnt flavor. Be sure to check your kale at the 8-minute mark. When the curly edges look brown, they're done. They should have a light, crispy, papery texture.
Can I use cooking spray instead of olive oil? You sure can! Some might say this would be a fewer-calorie-alternative. I just tend to shy away from foods that come in spray cans. It's a personal bias. Plus, I like the vaguely fruity, clean taste of olive oil.
Can I use other seasonings? Yes! The sky's the limit. When I'm in need of a spicy snack fix, I dust on some cayenne pepper. If you're introducing this recipe to a reluctant friend, try sprinkling on some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Scallops can be tricky. Leave it over heat an extra few seconds and you get stuck with little balls of rubber. But when you cook them just right, you have a lovely, succulent treat. This classic French appetizer, also known as Saint Jacques Provencales, includes a light and tart but savory tomato sauce that complements the simply seasoned scallops.
Serves: 4 Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cook time: About 15 minutes
Ingredients: 8 scallops (2 scallops per serving) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1.5 shallots, finely chopped (or about 3-4 tablespoons) 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 2 tomatoes, chopped 1/4 cup chicken broth 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon dried oregano 4 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped Coarse salt and white pepper
1. Rinse scallops with salt water and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and white pepper.
2. Prepare vegetables for the sauce: finely chop the shallots and garlic. Chop the tomatoes.
3. Heat saute pan over medium heat. Add oil. Sear scallops on each side until light golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Wrap in foil to keep warm and set aside.
4. Turn the stove down to low-medium heat. Add shallots and cook until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes and chicken broth. Add thyme and oregano. Season with a pinch of salt and white pepper. Let simmer until sauce looks mostly chunky but still wet, about 5-7 minutes.
5. Prepare the garnish: Finely chop parsley and set aside.
6. To serve: Place two scallops and a heaping tablespoon or two of tomato sauce on a small plate. Add a few coarse salt crystals to the top of the scallops. Garnish with parsley.
My Notes: How do I know I cooked the scallops correctly? Put short, undercooked scallops will be mushy. Overcooked scallops will be tougher or rubbery. Be mindful of the color of both raw and properly cooked scallops. Raw scallops will look translucent. But when they're cooked they'll look more white and opaque.
Why should I heat the pan before adding the oil? It's a simple little trick to help keep the scallops from sticking to the pan.
Since beginning my education at Le Cordon Bleu this past September, I've made about 50 recipes -- mainly, various sauces, soups, salads and vegetables. But of all the ones I've learned, this Spinach-Endive Salad is by far my favorite and so, I've decided to share my spin on this classic dish. Called Salade d' Epinards by the French, it has enough protein to stand as a main dish, enough greens to make you feel like you're treating your body, and enough acidity from the garlic-parsley vinaigrette to give it that fresh, bold flavor that keeps your tastebuds tantalized. Still unsure? It has egg. And bacon. Read on...
Serves: 1 Prep time: 15-20 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes
Ingredients: For the salad: About 1 cup spinach, trimmed 3-4 stalks endive 1 strip bacon, sliced in 1/4" pieces About 2 teaspoons olive oil 1 egg, poached 2 teaspoons white vinegar salt/pepper
For the vinaigrette: 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or less, if desired) 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped About 1/4 cup olive oil (or less, if desired)
1. Prepare the vinaigrette: Finely chop the garlic cloves. Whisk in with red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking throughout.
2. Wash and trim the spinach. Wash endive and pluck the leaves from stalks. Season the greens with salt and set aside.
3. Start boiling water to poach egg.
4. Cut up the slices bacon and saute in 2 teaspoons olive oil, until colored. Set aside on a paper towel.
5. Remove pan from heat and let cool about 1 minute. Do not throw out fat. Add vinaigrette, mixing with the fat. Add spinach and endive to the pan, tossing well into the dressing.
6. Poach the egg: When water comes to a boil (some bubbling at the surface) add 2 teaspoons white vinegar and turn down heat to a low simmer. Crack egg and gently open just over the water (so as to avoid splashing). Or, crack the egg into a separate small dish and pour into simmering water. Let cook just until egg white is set, about 3-4 minutes.
7. Mound spinach and endive on a plate. Sprinkle bacon bits on top, then set the poached egg on top.
My Notes Why should I keep the fat in the pan? Because bacon is delicious! The fat rendered from this salty pork product is a flavor that mixes with the vinaigrette well. Plus, that meaty kick is then incorporated throughout your entire salad.
Why so little Dijon? Why even bother adding the mustard if it's so little? Well, the Dijon acts as a binder to help the ingredients of the vinaigrette mix together better. And I'm a mustard fiend. It also helps mellow out the bright acidity of the red wine vinegar.
Too much dressing? This recipe may yield a touch too much vinaigrette for your liking. I don't always use all of it. One good indicator of whether your salad is overdressed is making sure there isn't dressing pooling beneath your greens.
What: American; tapas/small plates Where: XIV by Michael Mina in West Hollywood
Must-Order: Steak sliders; Stuffed Avocado; XIV Grilled Cheese
The Verdict: XIV can be best described as an ideal second date place. A first date here would have your date wondering if eat exclusively at posh, trendy restaurants; but a second date here says you're a classy, fun-loving foodie. At least, that's how I'll describe myself if I ever take a date here. And sure, it'll likely end there, but, what a way to go!
A large establishment with a huge "XIV" sign that you can't miss, the Michael Mina restaurant is located on the northwest corner of Sunset Blvd. and Crescent Heights -- smack dab in the middle of West Hollywood. (So if you meet your date here, neither of you can pretend you couldn't find the place.)
The inside is exactly what you think it would be: elegant, classic, cool and cozy. The menu, a wide range of eclectic offerings, makes for fun topics for conversation. What do you like? Is there any food you dislike? What are pickled cherry peppers? How good could sliders possibly be?
And that is exactly what you need to order: The Classic Steak Burger Sliders ($12 for 3 burgers). The brioche is fluffy, the sharp cheddar cheese is melted just right, and the meat, grilled medium-rare, is thick yet delicate and incredibly juicy. A full bite is succulent, hearty and small enough to keep you wanting more.
My second favorite dish: The Stuffed Avocado ($16). The crisp freshness of the stuffed avocado will immediately transport you to a breezy summer day by the beach. It's stuffed with fresh dungeness crab, lightly marinated in a lime vinaigrette, and paired with crispy rice to give the firm yet yielding small plate added texture. It's a dish I'd order every time I dine at XIV -- and I don't even like avocado. I cringe whenever my girl friend mashes it and spreads it on toast. The only other way I can eat the fruit is when it's guacamole; this way, it's doused with lime juice and garlic, and covered with tomatoes and onions.
And don't miss The XIV Grilled Cheese ($14). Bringing the old-school homemade treat to new heights, small slices of grilled pimento cheese are served with caramelized short ribs and crispy shallots. It's salty, gooey and best of all, substantial.
What: Seafood, Japanese/French/American fusion Where: Providence in Los Angeles
Must-Order: Wild Striped Bass (pictured below), Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Japanese Kanpachi, Santa Barbara Spot Prawns
The Verdict: Providence in Los Angeles, near Hollywood, doesn't just offer remarkable dishes; it presents a culinary experience unlike any other. This is one of those "package deal" type places: The dining staff is welcome and eager to impart all the knowledge they have on Chef Michael Cimarusti's food. Best of all, the servers pace each course so that you're not barraged with dish after dish; they time it well and don't rush you. The ambiance is simple and elegant; the decor evokes the sense of being underwater... if a swanky bistro existed under the sea.
But just a warning: Providence ain't cheap. Save up or come here when you get a bonus at work or when you're celebrating a special occasion. The best way to maximize your experience here is to get a tasting menu; five courses is $95 (or $140 with wine pairing) and the chef's menu goes for $175 (or $270 with wine pairing). My friends and I enjoyed the in-between option, the full tasting nine course menu for $125. We opted not to get the wine pairing, which would have been $190.
Normally, I'd pick out a few stand-out dishes to write about but every single dish from Chef Cimarusti was perfection. Flavors were balanced perfectly, portions were small enough to keep you wanting more. So below, read on and take in the food porn of the nine dishes I enjoyed, including two extra small dishes I shared with my friends.
We kicked off the meal with an amuse bouche, which, by Providence tradition, always involves spherification, the process of shaping liquid into spheres. From left to right: Mojito Gilette, Greyhound Sphere, Gruyere cheese bread, ad a shot with a savory port at the bottom. My favorite was the Greyhound Sphere; it was like eating a bubble that popped to release the refreshing flavors of vodka, grapefruit and lime.
Here, the Japanese Kanpachi brings sushi to new heights. The raw, clean, oh-so-fresh fish was paired with crispy rice crackers, Australian finger lime, and perched atop a small pool of creme fraiche.
The presentation of Santa Barbara Sea Urchin is what entranced me first: The plate or base resembled a tree trunk and the wire basket served as a nest for the brown egg that held bits of sea urchin swimming in a bath of champagne beurre blanc and herbs.
I'm a sucker for scallops and it's disappointing when they're overcooked. They become rubbery and tastless -- ick! Of course, here, Nancy's Down East Sea Scallops are cooked just right; the outside has just a little bit char and the inside is soft and yielding. These were perfect with buckwheat, dashi and napa cabbage.
If I had to choose one favorite, it would be the Wild Striped Bass. Served with a brown butter, lemon and nori sauce, it also comes with braised cannellini beans. The bass is slightly smokey and firm, and the beans are surprisingly soft without being mushy and grainy.
Here, the Tasman Sea Trout marries fish with fruit and vegetables. It's served with with cooked beets radish and orange slices. A few springs of fennel add just a hint of licorice flavor.
If you're a veal virgin (as I was, up until last night) you might be uneasy as to what it should taste like. But this is a meat that's best served medium-rare; cooked any more than that and you end up with a gamey clump. The Marcho Farms Veal Tenderloin here is slow cooked at 140 degrees with a curry-daikon sauce. Daikon radish is braised, chanterelle mushrooms are slightly crispy and pearl onions are smooth and delicate. The black truffle fondue is icing on the cake.
These Santa Barbara Spot Prawns weren't part of our nine-course meal. They were just an extra goody we ordered. Salt seasoned with sprigs of rosemary is heated at 350 degrees and the prawns are cooked in them for just a few minutes. Served with just a touch of olive oil, they're salty and simple.
Some fine restaurants boast garnishes of truffle, a type of rare and expensive mushroom, but they shave about a teaspoon atop your food. Thankfully, Providence is generous with their portion of Black Winter Truffles, that's served with risotto, pasta alla chitarra, a little bit of soft scrambled eggs and raviolo all'uovo. This dish is vaguely Italian, vaguely French, and slightly garlicy -- it features hints of layers upon layers of earthy savory flavor.
No fine dining experience is complete without an assortment of cheeses. Various types of goat, sheep and chow milk are used and served with candied walnuts, dried figs, apple and apricot jam, and a pumpernickel baguette. My favorite was the Sotto Chenerre, cow cheese with truffle rind.
To cleanse the palette after that epic meal, we had lemongrass granita with sake jelly and ginger foam. It definitely reset our appetites to prepare for a memorable dessert.
And finally, our very last course: dessert. Banana Bread Pudding served with barley ice cream and drops of orange sauce evokes flavors of autumn and winter. The ice cream is somehow savory and sweet and the whole dish tastes like a holiday on a plate.
Depending on who you are, when faced with a pound of raw shrimp, you either roll up your sleeves, get peeling and whip up your favorite recipe, or you cringe and tentatively poke the cold, gray bag. If you fall in the latter category, fear no more -- though this dish has several ingredients, it's easy to make and it's foolproof. And if you already have your own go-to shrimp prep steps, give this recipe a whirl. It's savory, saucy and has hints of Cajun flavor.
Serves: About 6-8 Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 7 minutes
Ingredients: 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined 1/2 stick of butter (or 4 tablespoons) 1-2 tablespoons minced or crushed garlic 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon basil 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) salt and pepper, to taste
1. Melt the butter in a skillet on medium-low heat. Add garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and add the peeled and de-veined shrimp. Stir.
2. After about 2 minutes, add the Worcestershire sauce, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper and a dash more salt and pepper. Keep stirring and turning shrimp until they curl and turn slightly pink. (Hint: Cook until you don't see any more gray).
My Notes: Changing the proportions: My favorite thing about this recipe is that while the flavors are sophisticated, cooking is a snap because you don't have to measure out each ingredient. Does the shrimp look a little dry? Add a dash more Worcestershire. Not seeing enough flecks of herbs? Toss in another pinch of oregano and basil. Not enough heat? Of course, sprinkle a bit more cayenne pepper.
How to de-vein shrimp: Some chefs would say de-veining is an absolute necessity; the cooked shrimp looks fuller, curlier and neater. And after all, it is cleaner; eating poop isn't necessarily on everyone's to-do list. Others shrug off the practice and prefer the shrimp in their natural state. In order to properly de-vein, take a small knife and cut a small slit across the back of the shrimp, inserting your blade about 1/3 of the way through. From here, wipe off the intestinal tract, or what looks like black thread.