Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pineapple Buckwheat Muffins

In the grocery store I came across an organic buckwheat pancake mix that rendered me curious. I've never eaten nor heard of the stuff and wondered to the taste: I expected it to be 'earthy,' maybe a little dense, and when I had my first batch I was surprised it was edible. Ideally I'd make my own home-made batter, but I couldn't imagine myself utilizing buckwheat in too many future recipes. I felt that the foundation in place may serve well for this recipe: an easy-to-make Pineapple Buckwheat Muffin. With a few tweaks came this moist muffin, which may lead to future switches in batter (buttermilk, wheat, gluten-free) and an endless possibility of mix-ins!
Thursday, July 26, 2012

Elephants Delicatessen

Portland, OR. Stepping into this deli is like stepping into a proudly-owned boutique shop, with the eager faces ready to explain the curious items available and from where they originated. Is it though? No, let's instead go with a specialty, gourmet food marketplace.  Words like "shop" or "store" could minimize the extent of the experience, and when it comes to food: why do such a thing? It has a grill, a wood-fire oven, pastries, a cheese counter, sauces and dips galore and so much more, hosted in a brightly lit space known as Elephants Delicatassen.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cheddar Chicken Lasagna


That homestyle approach to cuisine can sometimes be easier than we think. Throughout my childhood I experienced casseroles at potlucks, dinner parties, social events, and well...anywhere that making food for a crowd was the goal. It ranged in style, from saucy to creamy, salty to sweet, crispy to buttery, but therein was a lot of the goodness! This 'casserole' is merely a reflection of those thoughts and a little tribute to those dishes: a simple Cheddar Chicken Lasagna that gets the taste buds going and mouth watering!
Friday, July 20, 2012

El Carmen Tequila and Taco Bar


Los Angeles. It’s a cross between a bordello and a Lucha Libre stadium. When you actually FIND the door you have to push your way through heavy red curtains to enter the red-tinged room, ringed with mirrors and portraits of Mexican wrestlers. A dozen wrestling masks peer down from the skylight, inspecting the bar, the wall of small (very small) tables, and the lone large booth in the corner. 

Bienvenidos a El Carmen. Come for happy hour, 5-7pm on weeknights. Margaritas are $5… beer is $3. And you can make a pretty fine meal for $6 or less.
Thursday, July 19, 2012

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Watermelon Cotija Salad


I love making tacos at home – they’re simple, fast, and can use pretty much anything I have in the fridge – but this preparation elevates the flavor without adding any additional work! Fire up the grill, chop up some juicy summer fruit and vegetables, and serve this to friends with a good tequila cocktail. To save time I bought my chicken pre-marinated (mine was from Trader Joe’s, but you can find it in most good supermarkets or Hispanic grocery stores) – it cuts hours off the prep time. Enjoy!
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Casa Bianca Pizza

Eagle Rock, CA. A friend of mine, aware of my interest in pizza particulars, kept repeating "I have to take you to this place I grew up with..." until the day we actually had a free day to venture.  Yes, venture; for anyone who understands the detail called traffic in this city, traveling even within 5 miles of a locale can take an hour. After setting up a time to avoid any rush, we went on our away, all while he excitedly described what I was about to savor.
Monday, July 16, 2012

Sushi Sasabune


Los Angeles. This is a town filled with architecturally stunning restaurants, al fresco dining options, lovely nooks and crannies in which to find a meal. Sushi Sasabune is not one of them…it has all the charm of an office-building foyer. 

It’s on Wilshire: the 405 part, not the hip part. You sidestep a series of ill-placed cement planters to enter the front door, and though the room is very large, with floor-to-ceiling windows and ample seating, the tables and chairs are of the average strip-mall Japanese variety, the lighting a little too bright before sunset and then a little too dark for the nighttime rush. 
Friday, July 13, 2012

Irv's Burgers - MOVED


West Hollywood, CA. "What's your favorite burger place in Los Angeles? Have you tried...?" are the two most popular questions asked by friends, friends of friends, and anyone who likes that classic American flavor. Coming to one answer isn't easy, and in complete indecision I name all of my favorites: "Well...I like this one...and...and...and...and..." and for anyone who knows me, that usually comes with pictures. This little food stand is up higher on my list, and with good reason.
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Stonefruit Salad with Burrata


When I get invited to summer picnics, cookouts, or dinner with friends, I inevitably bring this salad. It tastes and looks much fancier than it is, and all you have to do to make it portable is pack each ingredient in a separate Tupperware and assemble it when you arrive so it doesn’t get soggy. It could not be simpler.

If you can’t find burrata in your neighborhood (I usually get mine at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s), I’m very, very sorry for your loss. But chin up – you can replace it with buffalo mozzarella or a small log of goat cheese. Add protein and perhaps some toasted hazelnuts to this salad and you’ve got an entire meal… Enjoy! 
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Berry Meringue Pie


'What am I going to do with all of this fruit?!' Is a thought that occurs to me when I'm staring at a fridge full of fresh berries that will inevitably spoil in the days to come. I considered a fruit cobbler, maybe a berry cake, but I went for a good ole 'humble' pie. The meringue entertains the chew, the berries provide the sweet and tart, and the crust provides the crisp - all packaged in a pretty tasty dessert. A friend inspired me with his ever-delicious crust recipe, and I tip my spatula to him for sharing the basics. A nice end to a heavy meal and tomorrow may not feel so guilty!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shrimp with Farmer's Market Pasta


One of my coworkers has been bringing in zucchini from his garden – big monstrosities, the size of my arm – and I’ve been coming up with ideas to use them. Last week I simply sautéed zucchini ribbons with olive oil and feta, but on Sunday night I wanted something heartier. I remembered reading a great recipe in Gourmet magazine, so I followed their general guidelines and adapted it to what I found in the farmer’s market and added a bit of protein (I used shrimp; this would have also been nice with simple shredded roast chicken). Toasted some sourdough with a good olive oil & balsamic dip, and it was a full meal, without feeling at all heavy. In fact, the vegetable to pasta ratio makes this dish pretty virtuous! 
Monday, July 09, 2012

Faux Pas Bistro - CLOSED

Los Angeles, CA. It takes some guts to name your restaurant Faux Pas – defined as an embarrassing social blunder, something you mustn’t do. It would be like naming your restaurant “Mistake!” in red blinking lights above the door.

Despite the name, there is no mistaking the charm in this restaurant’s décor, with a wide façade that opens out onto the intersection of Fairfax and West 3rd Street, the perfect perch from which to people-watch. The marble-topped tables, the mirrored walls, the zinc horseshoe bar… someone obviously spent a lot of time in French bistros and attempted to recreate the atmosphere here. They’ve largely succeeded in Faux Pas, but like The Grove across the street, there’s something a bit Disney-fied about this place, something a bit inauthentic, a bit too American to truly imitate a bistro.

Thursday, July 05, 2012



New York, NY. I have a soft spot for mac-n-cheese, one of my childhood splurges that seems to make things feel so very right. S'MAC, a mac-n-cheese specialty eatery located in New York's East Village came recommended from a friend's colleague. On a recent visit to the city, I added it to my "food to-do" list and ventured here with a friend of mine for an afternoon attempt at sheer cheesy indulgence. 
Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Chocolate-Frosted Brownies


Oh chocolate, what else can I do with you? I made Spiced Fudge Brownies previously with a little heat - adding a note that most guests wouldn't expect in a brownie. It was tasty, especially with the creamy macadamia nuts in the mix. This time around I went for something a bit more decadent, and unnecessarily so...but the result was something that caused a salivation in my friends I didn't anticipate. Sadly, I only cooked up a batch of one and within a few hours all were gone!

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