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):


Monday, January 25, 2010

Egg in the...

Here are a couple of the new ways I have been trying to make egg in the middle (toad in the hole, egg in the bread, birds nest, etc...). I love love love the egg in the waffle with a bit of syrup and hot sauce. I dash the hot sauce on with a little salt and pepper before I flip it over. The bagel is delicious with the hot sauce as well, and I also generally add some additional spices before turning that one (garlic powder, onion powder...).

I'm usually rushing around when making these guys, but given the time, I think I would get pretty elaborate with them. Maybe sauteing a bit of garlic and green onion and throwing that on before flipping. Some diced bacon or shredded cheese. The possibilities are obviously endless.

I do still use the hole from the waffle to toast and dip in the yolk, and usually cut out a bit more of the bagel to make the hole big enough for the egg. It's not as pretty to toast and present the cut out bits of bagel, but it's just as delicious!

I have plenty more photos of this, my favorite breakfast treat, but will have to get on that later when time permits!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Holiday Spritz Cookies (are not just for holidays)

Here's a lovely little recipe I've used time and time again out of my grandmother Helen Blood's Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. She's the one that taught me how to make them, back in the late 1980's, around the same time that she taught me to cut meat against the grain and how to get just enough dry breadcrumbs in a good meatball. The recipe is just as easy today as it was back then:

1 1/2 cups margarine or butter

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional but highly recommended)

-Beat margarine with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.

-Add 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, egg, baking powder, vanilla and almond extract.

-Beat till thoroughly combined.

-Beat in remaining flour.

-Force dough through cookie press onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

-Bake in a 375 degree oven for 7-9 minutes...edges should be slightly firm, if they're golden, get 'em out!

Years ago I misplaced the cookie press from my grandmother (hopefully to be found again someday in a box in Wisconsin...), and I was so so happy to find a new tiny one at an antique mall in Carlsbad, CA. Here's a plate of some yums that I made for Christmas. I separated the batter into three bowls and mixed in red, yellow and green food coloring....then sprinkled some cute stuff on top and popped them in the oven. Delicious.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Update: More Roasted Veg Soup!

I thought it would be nice to show some pictures from my most recent venture into the roasted red pepper soup. This time I added a few more beets, which made the soup even more rich in color, and used leeks instead of green onions. The other proportions remained mainly the same to the recipe I described here. I was making a meal for about 25 people, and the soup would be one of a few side dishes.

Below you can view the pics in chronological order and see the process.

First, the fresh veggies go in the roasting pan.
Done roasting!Ready for blending...All blended up...A delicious looking pile of veggie liquid...Adding the maple syrup, buttermilk, veggie broth and skim milk.All done!This meal was a collaboration with my sister, Laurel (who assisted me in the kitchen and made some delicious breads) and was created for a party in my stepfather's honor. He just received his masters, in addition to starting an amazing new job. We did out best to make the meal reflect what a great person he is!
Congratulations, Jim!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tofu Veggie Yellow Curry with Basmati Rice

This was a delicious meal of convenience. We had most of the items at home already, just had to pick up the tofu and salt (I have been out of salt since Christmas! Can you believe it?)

1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Yellow Onion
a few cloves Garlic (I like a lot, personally)
1 block Extra Firm Tofu
1 can Coconut Milk
1-2 tsp honey
1-2 tsp Yellow Curry (I had a little ziploc of some sweet yellow curry from a friend )
dash Turmeric
Salt (to taste)
Basmati Rice (or any other rice that you enjoy, this is what was in the cupboard)

I started off by slicing up the onion, green pepper, cutting the tofu into long thin strips, mincing the garlic, and tossed the onion and pepper in the pan with some olive oil on medium-high heat. After a few minutes I added the garlic and the tofu, a dash of salt and some cumin, and poured in a couple of tablespoons water to help the veg cook evenly. Stir occasionally, and work on the curry sauce and rice while the veggies get nice and tender.

In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, honey, curry, turmeric, a bit of salt (or a dash of soy), and whisk together over low-medium heat until well combined. Taste a few times as it heats up and add more spice or sweet as needed. Cover and let sit warm until the veggies and rice are ready.

With the veggies going and the sauce nearly ready, I put the rice on, covered it and let it go til it seemed like it wanted to be ready (I rarely set a timer, but it usually seems to work out alright anyway somewhere around 15 minutes...). I also added a little bit of the curry sauce to the veggies at this point as well, to make sure the flavors were getting in all the crevices.

Right about when the rice was done, the veggies were as soft as I like them, and the sauce was still hot, and I put all of the ingredients together for a couple of bowls of PURE JOY.

Sadly, I have no pictures to share from this meal, we were too hungry, it was too late, and I was too tired. But here is a picture of some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market to give your eyes some excitement.