Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Life after John Belushi

Or how the mighty have fallen. 
Dan Ackroyd signs his bottles of skull vodka in Pasadena Friday night.
More info here.
Who knew the ripple effects of an untimely demise?

Monday, April 26, 2010


Braised sauerkraut with smoked meats: delish!  A specialty of Alsace-Lorraine.  Want great meats? Head over to Schreiner's in Montrose. They smoke their own.  This is a riff on Jacques Pepin's recipe. 

Melt 4 tblsp chicken fat or lard in a huge sauce pan. Cook a coarsely chopped onion with 4 cloves of garlic for 10 minutes.  Add three cans/jars/bags of rinsed sauerkraut (6 pounds total).  Stir to coat with the fat.  Add 3 bay leaves, 1 tsp pepper, 20 juniper berries, 1 1/2 cups Riesling,  3 cups stock, one tsp caraway seeds.  bring to a roaring boil, then  bake for 90 minutes at 300 degrees.  Within the sauerkraut bury smoked pork chops ( one per person) high quality franks, brat wurst, half a pound of bacon, a pound or so of kielbasa sliced into two inch thick pieces.  Bake another half hour.  Feeds multitudes.

Serve with assorted mustards, boiled potatoes.  And Riesling.  Dry Riesling.

Me, to my brother-in-law, "Do you like Riesling?"
My brother-in-law: "I don't know, I've never Riesled."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Feeling Sour?

Recently a friend of mine celebrated his wedding last year in Peru with a celebration in Pasadena.  Later we moved to the new couple's home in Altadena, where the bride handed out small glasses filled with frothy stuff and topped with a tiny sprinkling of cinnamon.  People  thought, mini Margaritas? Nah, pisco sours.

She blended Peruvian pisco, sugar syrup, lime juice and egg whites with ice, then hovered nearby with a pitcher of the stuff in case we ran low.

Hmm, what is pisco?  After repeated samplings I decided definitely not tequila, but still, the flavor was somehow familiar...Good lord, grappa!  Maybe that's why I can't remember just how many refills I had--

Doing my share for breaking down borders and reaching out to different cultures, one hangover at a time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Roasted Asparagus

Is crazy easy.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Snap off the woody ends of the vegetable (1-2 inches, depending on how well or poorly cared for they've been at the grocery store), drizzle with olive oil, season with fat chunks of salt.  15 to 20 minutes later you've got a terrific side dish.  Or green spears to dip into your soft boiled egg.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Shall I vaunt the virtues of Eagle Rock's Colorado Wine Company?  Shall I speculate on where my sister and I shall convene for happy hour tonight?  She reminds me she's on a budget, so instead I link to 12 Wines for under $12!

Careful shoppers will notice that a number of those listed can be found for even less than the prices listed.  Some labels are at Trader Joe's; I've seen a few at local grocery stores, again for less than listed at the link.  So, instead of going out, it appears we're staying in.  Hmmm, I still may have to swing by the Colorado Wine Shop to pick up a bottle of their seven dollar viognier.  I promise it doesn't a taste a dollar under 12.

What celebrations do you have planned this weekend?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Opposite of Success

Have you tried vichyssoise? It's a delightful cream soup, leeks and potatoes, butter and heavy cream, pureed, served hot or cold.  Occasionally I add a few oysters, poach them briefly, and it is spectacular.

The other day fresh oysters in the jar were on special.  Why not try another recipe?
How bad could you get?

Well, accidentally boiled the cream which was wrong, wrong, wrong! It separated into its water and milk fat components.  Charming, really, if you like eating cottage cheese soup.
Sigh.  It made for a rather mournful supper.

This got me thinking about failure, this one small terrible batch of soup.   Which got me thinking about rejection, that polysyllabic word that writers particularly despise.  Our inability at times to not help but take it personally.  And at the same time, the implausibility of setting our writing aside for good.  Because, how will we know, whether the soup is any good, or the magazine will publish our work, unless we try it?  Then tweak it and try it again? Kiddos, whether it's baseball bats, ladles or  laptops, let's go out swinging.

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Appoximation of Unattainable Food

For nothing keeps a poet
In his high singing mood
Like unappeasable hunger
For unattainable food.

-Joyce Kilmer

Over at Vroman's the other night Linda Dove dazzled. While I was puzzling over the right menu to perfectly accompany her poetry, with its intellectual foundation and awe-evoking existence, I realized it was not quite possible.

So, here's the almost perfect accompaniment, to be eaten and savored leisurely, just like her poems:

Fig jam
Creamy goat cheese
Crackers of your choice.

Drink rose, merlot or sparkling wine in celebration

Friday, April 9, 2010

Crimes against Crudites

Along with the scents of spring, jasmine, pittosporum undulatum, Burmese honeysuckle, garden-variety honeysuckle, citrus...michelia champaca, osmanthus fragrans, nicotiana alata...
(takk, AH) come cocktail and dinner parties, informal or formal gatherings all fondly accompanied with plates of crudites. Raw vegetables and dip. Usually so weight-conscious people
(read, women) can feign eating.

Upscale parties will decoratively carve out a red cabbage and fill its heart with ranch or blue cheese dressing; aspirational ruling class parties will provide gently blanched spears of asparagus wrapped with delicately thin slices of prosciutto.

I am fond of sliced cucumber, julienned carrots, celery, and red pepper. Raw cauliflower keeps my jaw toned. Even zucchini is palatable. But please please please, don't rinse and slice and serve your broccoli raw. It is inedible.

There. That is my rant for today. I'm off to buy prosciutto and roast some asparagus. See you Monday!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Five things I am delighted to devour, provided someone else does the cooking:

1. Foie gras.
Who wants to deal with the outraged ducks?
2. Macarons
Too hard keeping the pronuncation straight.
3. Shrimp quenelles
Leave it to the French to elevate a cross between gefilte fish and salmon patties into an art form. Bring on the cheese and heavy cream.
4. Doughnuts
I am hopeless with yeast-based foods. And this is a good thing.
5. Red velvet cupcakes with buttercream frosting.
They release my inner Daffy Duck. ("They're mine! All mine!")

And you? What are your favorite foods out?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Eat your greens

Swiss chard is one of those pretty greens that never seem to show up much
on anyone's table. I can understand why not: the stalks are tough and fibrous when
cooked with the leaves. The leaves themselves are rather exuberant, inconveniently poking out of your vegetable baggie.

But I do love greens, and these are easy:

Rinse each leaf. Tear the leaves off of the stalks. Trim the bottom edges of the stalks, then chop, as you would celery, into little half moons. Or dice. Not to worry, either way.
Take a heavy skillet, that has a lid, and slick with olive oil. Mince a clove of garlic (or two)
and heat until the garlic is translucent. Add the Swiss chard stalks, and stir until covered in oil.
Reduce heat, cover, and cook for five-ten minutes. Chops leaves into ribbons. After the stalks have simmered add the green bits, stirring, again, to coat with oil. Salt to taste, cover and steam on low for another 5 minutes.

Your greens will be vibrantly colored, the stalks tender. Add another squirt of olive oil, if you like, a squeeze of lemon and a handful of toasted pine nuts. Or just serve as is.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chinese green beans

What do you do with those elongated beans? Kinda wild and woody looking, you know what I mean?
Irene Kuo, my favorite Chinese cook book author, makes it simple.

Rinse beans, chop into 4-5 inch lengths, discarding the tips.
Heat a wok on mega high; drop a tablespoon or two of peanut oil and swirl your wok.
Add a peeled sliver of ginger (always the size of a quarter, in her recipes). Sizzle for 30- seconds. Add two heaping tablespoons of black bean garlic sauce, listen to it sputter for another half minute, then add your green beans, stirring swiftly to coat with sauce. Add a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth or water, then cover wok with lid and lower heat. Let simmer, until the beans are cooked through, and the sauce is sputtering (five to ten minutes).

Terrific as a side dish. Be sure to have that vent on high!