Sunday, March 20, 2011


Dear Friends,

Life around here has been very you may have noticed from the lack of finished posts here at the Food Hotline.  I've still been taking some calls and emails, dispensing advice, collaborating on new meals and recipes, and cooking a lot at home.  I also recently catered a whole wedding dinner (and baked three cakes!) for a dear friend, and that was quite the undertaking.  But aside from that, working my regular job and attempting some kind of personal life and art practice has pretty much consumed my time.  Hopefully I will have more time soon to add to the blog!  And callers - if you call and I don't respond right away, sometimes email is better, or even texting, since I'm in a library basement most of the day.

Now a photograph of the happy bride and groom I cooked for.....

And one of the cakes...

Such lovely friends!
Happy cooking & problem solving. XO

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Meyer Lemon Overload

About a week ago, a coworker of mine brought a huge bag of Meyer lemons to work.  Most people only took one or none (!), so my friend Becky and I split the bulk of them.  And so began a week and a half of lemon debauchery.  I didn't preserve any, which I kind of wish I had now.  Instead, I made as many desserts as I could. 

I made two Shaker Lemon Pies, one pan of Last Minute Blueberry Lemon Bars, and one incredible Meyer Lemon Cake.  And I still have one lemon left.  I think I will be making the Meyer Lemon Cake again - it was a veritable knockout.  I am salivating just thinking about it.  So moist! So tangy, and yet so sweet!  I will be adding pictures when I get home to further excite your taste buds.  For now, here's a quick pic of some sliced up lemons just waiting to get macerated...

In other Food Hotline news, I have been failing to bring you most of my call and email requests for advice and assistance.  Here I will share a few gems from recent weeks.  There was the question of trussing a chicken - what to do if you don't have any twine to tie the legs together.  And then a call about making a quick birthday icing for a lovely lady's last minute cake.  Oh, and let's not forget about Scuffins, or the muffins that call for chia seeds (what!), which I have still yet to try!  Don't worry, reader, I will flesh out all of these exciting thoughts momentarily...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Taurat Tandoori

Mike may look tired here, but he is probably just trying to hide his excitement at the prospect of tearing into some Aloo Gobi, Vegetable Coconut Masala, Rice, Garlic Naan and Mango Lassi.  We found Taurat Tandoori by accident tonight, while we were looking for a different Indian place called Aladdin Sweets & Cafe.  We didn't find it, but the window of Taurat was on the block where Aladdin was supposed to be, and it caught my eye.

They have a great vegetarian selection, and some yum sounding dishes I haven't had as well (like Bhindi Bhaji - Okra with onion and garlic in a Curry sauce - which I want to try ASAP!), and 8 different kinds of naan.  The Vegetable Curry Masala was creamy and rich, and each vegetable stood out on its own.  None tasted like their flavor had been all cooked out (the cabbage was especially delicious).  And the Garlic Naan was light and flavorful without being too oily.  Of course the Lassi was just what I needed after a few spicy bites.  Nothing disappointed here.  I was shocked that we were the only patrons eating in, but perhaps they have more of a lunch crowd than dinner?  They do have a $7.99 lunch buffet that I intend to try soon.

I also enjoyed that it was clearly a family run restaurant.  The children played together at a table toward the back and helped their mother bring chutney and plates out to us.  There was a feeling of warmth and welcome at Taurat.  Even though one of the walls was barely patched and some of the decor didn't mesh, personality and ambiance were strong.  I guess I've also just been hankering for some serious indian food, and that was exactly what I got.  Thanks, Taurat Tandoori!

And in case you have the chance to go, here is the location:

Taurat Tandoori
101 South Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(213) 383-6780

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chocolate Chippies

Here is my foolproof method for chocolate chip cookies. It's easier than pie. I've had it memorized for about 15 or so years, and I think it's mainly adapted it from the Nestle Toll House recipe and the Roundy's generic brand chips...

2 1/3 c flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 to 1 c sugar
3/4 c b. sug
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs at room temperature
lots of chocolate chips! (of good quality please)
extra sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.

1. You will need two bowls. In the smaller bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder/soda and whisk to combine. Sift together if you have a sifter.

2. In the larger bowl, beat butter til lighter in color and fluffy (few minutes). Then add sugars and beat again until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and mix/beat until again fluffy and smooth.

3. Slowly add flour mixture (in 3 rounds) and combine well. Should be thick and smooth looking. Remove whisk and use a wooden spoon to stir in at least 2 cups choc chips.

sea salt on choc chip babies

4. Drop small balls of batter onto un-greased cookie sheet, sprinkle a bit of sea salt on each cookie, and place in oven for about 7-8 min depending on altitude and oven.

5. You know the cookies are done if they are barely golden on the bottoms/edges but still light on top. I take them out before they look totally done because they will continue to bake as they cool. They will remain softer this way, but still crisp at the edges. My dad taught me this, and he couldn't have been more right.

Eat and enjoy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mystery Stew with improvements requested

Today I received a question about adding flavor to a catch all stew of dumpstered veggies. I will relay a sampling of our correspondence about it below.

For those unfamiliar with dumpster diving, it refers to seeking out the trash behind restaurants and grocery stores for their expired or unwanted items, and putting them to use. There is a large population of people that subsist on dumpstered food, and it uses up perfectly good food that otherwise would contribute to landfills. What could be better than that? Of course, those who practice this "freeganism" must use their own judgment about whether a rotten tomato is safe to eat or not, but there are many ways to put almost anything to use - even a half rotten tomato!

Here is an example of some stew, not made with dumpstered items, but made with everything bu the kitchen sink...
sweet potato black bean stew
mmm, stew...

Hi Jennie!

Hope you're well. Aside from being busy, I''m doing alright.

I have a mystery for you. Yesterday, my roommates and I made our weekly trip to the Food Lion dumpster, where we came out with some barely-okay vegetables. We're veterans enough to know that nothing is better for stew than mushy veggies, so now we find ourselves with a slow cooker, a pot full of peas, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and black beans. It's filling and warm-- two very important factors. But something's off, which brings me to you.

It doesn't taste like anything! I've thrown in salt, pepper, basil, and chili powder, but it's still bland as could be. What will make this hearty stew taste like... something?



Hi Hannah!

Well, there are a few possibilities.

One simple trick might be to add a small can of tomato paste. There is a bit of salt in there and in general, tomato paste is a good base to rely on for veg to play off of. You could also add a bit of soy sauce, cumin and teriyaki, or a dash of balsamic vinegar, some roasted garlic and some parmesan, or PEANUT BUTTER and mustard and nuts and a bit of brown sugar to make it like a west african nut stew! Also, maple syrup is a sweetener that add depth and subtlety without overwhelming a dish.

In the future, one good way to give automatic richness of flavor to not-so-great veggies that you want to stew with is to roast them first in olive oil, salt and pepper. That way, the salt and oil soak into the veg, and the sugars of the veg are activated (like how onions caramelize and get sweet). Some people brush the veg with an olive oil and tomato paste mixture for added flavor, yum!

Sometimes with kitchen sink stews like this, I like to eat it on crackers to make it last longer, or pile it on a bed of greens and toast like a sammich, and thin it out toward the end with water or stock to make a soup...and continually add more ingredients as I find them, like pasta, tomato, any other veg that comes along, or chili leftovers! I love meals that can extend into new ones.


PS you will love the blog below, as I do.


Jennie to the rescue!

That was amazing. I read your response aloud to my housemates, who were in jaw-dropped awe. None of this comes naturally to us, so it's incredible to have your emergency services at hand.

The dumpster-diving living is great. I have been munching on perfect grapes for three days. What college kid can afford fresh fruit? Perfectly ripe fruit that's been sitting atop partly moldy bread and dented cans is fine by me.

That blog is by a woman after your own heart. I need to know where she finds all that! I've forwarded the link on to friends in Sarasota, who feed a house of 9 solely on dumpstered food. I think that means 9 new readers.

Hope LA is treating you so, so well. Happy St. Patrick's day! Here's to finding corn beef and hash behind a Trader Joe's.

Love, Hannah


While I don't know for sure what Hannah and her pals decided upon to improve their stew, it sounds like some ideas began moving around in there. I can only imagine what that many young brains could concoct when given so many free foodstuffs!

Also, the blog I mentioned above is terrific and I highly recommend reading it. I think we have a similar view on frugality and a waste-not-want-not attitude, but she is far more active in seeking out wasted foods than I am. It is quite inspiring! For now, I will continue my focus on problem solving.

I hope everyone has a lovely St. Patrick's Day. I will be baking and eating Irish Soda Bread in just a few hours. Here is a picture of the St. Pat's day party I co-hosted last year (with soda bread remains):