Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Buttery Soy-Braised Pork

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I don't have a sweet tooth. What I do have is a fat tooth, impacted and impossible to remove -- one whose roots can be traced to, among other things, a pork chop recipe my mom learned from my papa as a kid growing up in Hawaii. It is as delicious as it is simple: pork chops, browned in a healthy pat or two of butter, are finished in a quick simmering bath of soy sauce and water. The pork chops were occasionally dry, but the sauce - the sauce! Only the annual Christmas Scattergories game inspired the same kind of family drama like the fights over the last bit of sauce-sopping sticky white rice. 

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Pie with Graham Crumble

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It is never too early to start making, or thinking about, those holiday favorites for the coming season of eating! Pumpkin Pie has always been the easy treat served annually by my family and friends. What isn't to enjoy from a dessert that is simple to throw together and can be made in advance well before any guests arrive? This version takes the classic approach, less the roasting of a gourd, and pairs it with a graham cracker and flour blended crust and crumble. Enjoy!
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Test Kitchen

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Los Angeles.  Why bother writing about a restaurant where the chefs and the prix-fixe, multi-course menu change every night; where the servers are barely trained, the foodrunners are still memorizing table numbers, and every night is opening night? Because Test Kitchen has food that sustains the circus; and the circus is the point.  Only in Los Angeles are there pop-up restaurants within pop-up restaurants within brick-walled restaurants in Skid Row.

Test Kitchen is a sort of a rotating who's-who in the L.A. culinary world: the chefs breeze in, take over the kitchen at whatever restaurant plays host (currently it's the soon-to-open Bestia, on the fringes of downtown), and cook the food they want to cook. You pay what they ask, and you eat what they give you, or you just don't participate in the whole event.

Whatever I ate won't be there on the night you choose to go (they have a blessedly easy reservation system on OpenTable... just book early), but the offerings by chefs Ori Menashe, Walter Manske and Neal Fraser were delicious, and if they're any indication of the talent booked at Test Kitchen 2012, y'all are in for a treat.

Charcuterie board
To start, house-made charcuterie, including a stunning rabbit porchetta and a "faux gras" mousse with Asian pear.  We suspected the "faux" gras was actually chicken liver mousse but it was nearly as rich as the real thing and just as decadent. 

Grilled Octopus with lentils
Next up: grilled octopus, deliciously charred, with warm lentils...then Mediterranean turbot with sunchoke puree (oh boy, oh boy do I love sunchokes) and black truffles... and finally: duck breast served with a confit-filled pastry, perfect little grapes, and a little dollop of what we guessed to be parsnips but was as addictive as chocolate. 

Turbot
We wrapped up the night with two desserts by two different pastry chefs (Genevieve Vergis and Mariah Swan) - an ultra-rich rice pudding with roast plums, and a teeny tiny bite of a s'more that was the perfect nightcap to the evening.

Rice pudding with plums
The downside to this "let's do it LIVE!" style of cooking?? The TIMING.  Dinner took nearly 4 hours.  We had a 45 minute wait between courses... twice.  And several tables around us sat down after and finished before our little table of four.  But a couple cocktails from master mixologist Julian Cox helped soothe the nerves, and frankly, the food was so good it was worth it.  The open kitchen was a perfect theater - more than once, harried food servers rushed off with hot plates, only to bring them back, tails between their legs, when they went to the wrong table.


What will be on the menu when YOU go?  No one knows until about a week in advance - but snag a table, get started with some drinks, settle down for a looong night, and enjoy the show.  Your tummy sure will.

Test Kitchen 2012 
2121 East 7th Place
Los Angeles, CA 90021
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Butternut Squash Loaf

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Tis the season for breads and loaves...or at least an excuse to make some of the sweet variety. My grandma makes a pumpkin bread every year that remains fluffy and moist, and I wanted to create something of the sort with a different gourd. This Butternut Squash Loaf also gets fluffy, remains moist, and has that slightly varied flavor to be certain it is not pumpkin (the resulting bread survived my friends less than 24 hours). With the coming holiday parties, this could make for a great homemade treat to add to the dessert table. Enjoy!
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Onion Marmalade and Fennel Salad

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My brother-in-law, Nate, makes the best onion marmalade.  It's idiot-proof, because the longer you let it cook, the better it tastes. You simply can't make a mistake with this.

Here, I've paired it with a simple pork tenderloin and a salad that's pure October - thinly sliced fennel and whatever autumn fruit floats your boat.  The crunch of the salad, the gaminess of the pork, and the sweetness of the onions hits every taste bud.  I even made extra toasted pecans, set them aside, and put them on pumpkin ice cream for dessert. (Yep, this is a full-blown autumn obsession, now.)

Pork tenderloin's elegance belies its simplicity. This dinner looks fancy... but takes less than an hour and uses a pot, a pan, and a tray. That's it.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Lucques

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Los Angeles, CA. Given the choice between being held hostage on the gridlocked 405 during rush-hour and eating dinner alone at a restaurant, most Angelinos would prefer the traffic; in traffic, at least, no one will judge you for singing solo. If more of them knew about the bar menu at Lucques, however, they might change their minds.
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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Chicken Sausage with Autumn Vegetables

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Ah, fall.  Without even noticing the change in weather, my cravings have changed: over the weekend I bought a new pair of boots and picked up as much pumpkin-flavored goodness as I could find at the grocery store.  The light fell at a different slant today, the breeze had a slight chill, and at dinnertime I found myself pulling out all the ingredients for an easy autumnal feast.  I whipped up this Chicken Sausage with Autumn Vegetables with ingredients I already had (no pre-planning), and you can substitute whatever root vegetables or protein may have piqued your interest at the market and is sitting in YOUR fridge.  From start to finish it'll take less than an hour... and you'll be cozying up to a hearty bowl of autumn in no time.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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The discernable seasons in this seemingly season-less city vary between summer and spring with the occasional fall day. It seems up to us, eaters of seasonal treats, to make the feeling come alive, at least in the kitchen. This simple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup was put together in minutes from ingredients around the kitchen. The butternut squash had sat for some time with nowhere to go, and with the season of tasty gourd-saturated food fast-approaching, its moment finally came. The soup is smooth, warming, and has just a little 'kick.'
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