Sunday, November 21, 2010

When you want to flip out - Banana Sour Cream Pancakes!!

We may have vastly opposing spiritual viewpoints (he's a devout Christian and I bend to Buddhism) but one thing's for sure, my friend Chris and I LOVE GOOD FOOD.

Correction, not just good food, but, of course, SEXY FOOD. Preferably of the sugar-based variety.

We've been friends for about 7 years now, punctuating our "tell me about your love life" visits with late-night pie binges or frozen yogurt runs. Everything we do, come to think of it, revolves around food.

Most recently we lounged around my tiny apartment eating wedges of dark chocolate topped with soft, raw honey. SHUT. UP. I knew he liked desserts, but from that moment on, I knew Chris would never fail me in the food lust department. I think the sight of someone losing it over a piece of chocolate with honey on it would make any foodie well-up with pride.

However, we may have topped ourselves, ol' Chris and I.

This last friday we needed to catch up on our love lives yet again, so Chris offered to make me a meal. Being that we are who we are, we ended up making pancakes with sauteed, cinnamon-sugar apples and bacon. Sounds simple enough, but look at this mother-freaking monster of pancake-tastic glory:

Yes, that is bacon crumbled over the pancake. Apples and cinnamon cooked in brown sugar and butter, IN the sour cream pancake COVERED in more butter and maple syrup and a last minute improvisation of slivered almonds. I had three. Then we switched to pancakes infused with a bananas fosters filling.

Then I went home and wanted to die. But not without crying, wondering "why am I so TIRED??" and laughing maniacally, first.

After a hard days work like that, I had to make sure to let everyone know how they, too, can enjoy such orgi-tastic bliss. I owe it all to the best pancake recipe I have ever found. This recipe comes courtesy of Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), and I kiss those bare feet, in spirit, for it.

These are soft, tender little cakes that sit like brown-buttered cloud pillows on your plate.
With Thanksgiving coming up, this is a great recipe to try since we'll be gorging all weekend anyway, right?!

Follow her directions closely, they never fail.

Then praise Jesus. Or Buddha. Or just be thankful you are blessed enough to be eating something so ridiculously wonderful and unnecessary.

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
yield - 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbls. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tbls. milk
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas plus extra for serving (or whatever fruit you want, yo).

Sift together the flour , sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Add teh west ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter and maple syrup.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Day at The Luxury Chocolate Salon - My Favorites


People, what better substance is there on earth? It makes children do this, and it makes us feel like children who are doing this. Honestly.

The Luxury Chocolate Salon in Pasadena has been around for only 4 years, and I've been lucky enough to go 3 times. Most recently, LAST SUNDAY! Whee!

This story begins a few years ago when I met a really nice woman named Diana Malouf at The Chocolate Salon. We got to talking enthusiastically about chocolate-making and her fledgling chocolate business, Ococoa. Today I'm happy to say she is doing really well with Ococoa, and was exhibiting for the second year at The Chocolate Salon.

Ococoa is a really unique company, making
delectable chocolate butter cups - not just peanut butter (which by the way is the best I've ever had) but flavors like sesame fig (drool) sunflower honey and macadamia guava!! That's all different nut-butters folks, how cool is that? Rich comfort food meets exquisite gourmet.

She was gracious enough to get me in for free this year so I could stuff myself silly and report to all of you. Thank you Diana!

I regret my camera battery died before I was able to get a better photo of the Ococoa booth, but she (and most importantly, her butter cups) will be at Artisanal LA Downtown, October 23rd and 24th. So go try some and buy some!

Of course, there were more chocolates to try. So after stopping off at Ococoa, I strolled around and found a few favorites. Behold:

My newest and most favorite this year was Amella Caramels, covered in chocolate and made with cocoa butter. HOLY BANANAS!!!! I could not believe how fresh and chewy-chewy-tastic these caramels were! Caramels are pretty much the sexiest thing ever, when done right, and these brought me to the brink of madness. Dense, smooth, melting... that slight give and creamy bitterness from the chocolate shell around it... GLLLAARARARGGGG! Even the way they were cut in little squares got me all pumped up and happy.

The passion fruit flavor was by far the best. It was like drinking a freshly squeezed glass of juice. The white chocolate covered carrot cake (carrot cake!!) was also a unique and tasty treat. I love their box design too. Do me now Amella Caramels. Do me now.

A favorite I r
emember from last year was back again - Clarine's Florentines. If I had more money I would buy these in droves and pass them out for Christmas. Chewy, crunchy and nutty-sweet, they do one thing and do it so well. Light almond brittle coated with chocolate. Bliss.

Marti Chocolates
is another favorite from years past. Local to LA and home of the unforgivably sexy goat cheese truffle, they are truly unique. Yes. Yes. I said goat cheese. I didn't get a great photo, but since they are local you can hopefully go check them out yourself! The centers of their truffles are the most fresh and bright and gooey I think I've ever had, with the best flavors expressing the company's ties to the Phillipines: citrus, durian and mango. Super drool.

Then there was The Chubby Chipmunk

I'm so used to seeing tidy little hand-painted truffle squares ala France, that these big, decadent globs of chocolate took me back a bit. They were sampling the truffles dug-out and displayed on tiny spoons, almost like ice cream. They were so rich and intense, immediately melting and creamy... it got me all excited. The toffee crunch and New York cheesecake flavors were my favorites. Cheesecake truffle!!! Lord how I dreamt of shoving one of those golf-ball sized babies right between my teeth and chomping down with glee. Or swallowing one like a python eating an egg, and just let it melt in my throat. *droool*

The Chubby Chipmunk's truffles are the opposite of the hip, French style confectionary we've all gotten so used to seeing, and for that I'm grateful. As much as I respond to tidy, artistic beauty, we all need to be reminded that getting dirty and going for the extreme from time to time (preferably more than that) is really the best way to live. Owner Mary Tautkus further inspired my earthy motto when she told me a story about the first time she was making truffles with her chocolate tempering machine. The thing had broken in transport so it malfunctioned in the middle of it all, leaving her with a bowl of melted chocolate. Of course she did what any reasonable chocoholic would do: scoop it out and smear it all over her face and hands. That, my friends, is a woman after my own heart.

Now go eat some chocolate and enjoy it. And for the love of God, get it all over your face.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Farmer's Market Review - Los Feliz

My favorite thing about living in Los Feliz is the little farmer's market held every Sunday from 9am-2pm in the post office parking lot. Voila. Post boxes:

I've been going almost every Sunday since I moved here and it's helped me feel like a part of a community. So I went and snapped some photos of my favorite things about it, just for a quick review. If you are in the area at all, it's small and charming and well worth a visit. It's got a great vibe.

The Gastrobus!!!! This is one of the best things to find at the Los Feliz market.

Every morning they get there early and make 6-7 great groumet-ish brunch/lunch offerings out of the produce being sold at the market. Best of all, they also serve strong, $2 Armenian coffee!! They also sell preserves and a tomato confit that is sweet, creamy and amazing.

Live music! soothing, oooo, ahhh.

Oxnard Produce! They are my favorite veg stand. They are all super nice and they have great deals on fresh green beans, bell peppers and avocados, especially. I didn't buy anything that day so I didn't want to get up in their face with tons of photos but at least you know where to go when you get there.

This is my FAVORITE fruit stand. They dont' have a name anywhere so I actually have no idea what farm they are (super helpful, I know) but they are so sweet and last weekend I high-fived the girl who works there. It was a special moment. I love them.

They always have an abundance of seasonal fruits, so for months I've been gorging myself on white peaches and nectarines. Then the plums started coming out too - I love the little sweet/tart green ones. It was looking like an oil painting last Sunday...

And recently they have had GRAAAAPES!! Crunchy and sweet and heavily dripping off the vine.

They also sell Chinese dates dried and fresh. yum.

And though I love the Armenian Coffee from Gastrobus - it can't beat my most favorite new addition to the Los Feliz market - DripBarLA! Serving Blue Bottle Coffee. Say it with me -COR FWOR!! swoon!

I cannot get over how gorgeous and black this coffee is. *superswoon*

Maybe best of all, I get to walk to and from the market past the most magnificent trees.

Los Feliz Farmers Market 9am-2pm
Vermont Ave & Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Food Book Friday - The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea!

For the past week I promised myself I'd drink more water and cut out caffeine, "just to see what happens". Well, my skin seems to be more "supple" but hot-damn, I miss my daily cuppa tea!!!!

So for Food Book Friday (what's left of it) I present to you a divine little book on a divine topic: TEA

The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea - The Art and Pleasures of Taking Tea is a fabulous tea-time recipe book full of everything from Welsh Rarebit to Eccles Cakes to Rose Petal Jam.

A bit of history about tea and The Ritz, as well as a tea directory, make it a near-perfect book for those who covet the stuff as much as I do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Frosted Cupcakery - Hollywood and Santa Monica

Today I read on LAist that, thanks to a promo via Bravo's Top Chef, a few bakeries around LA were giving out some goods for free. I thought I'd be all smart and clever, save gas money, and take the metro down to the very newly minted "cupcakery" called Frosted on Highland. Adventure!

Well, my intention was good, but after having one of those unexpectedly-long, cars-wizzing-by, dirty-bus-wind-in-my-face, sun-blaring-down-on-endless-concrete-trash-swirling-Los Angeles wasteland walks, I was feeling like the whole thing was so not worth it.

But Frosted was cool and clean and made of my favorite color turquoise, so once I walked inside I was able to chill out and enjoy my freebie:

Look at these fat little things!!! They call these "hottops" which I think is totally adorable. That's two cupcake tops sandwiching buttercream. Cute idea, cute looking, cuuuuuuute overloooaad. Mine was even better than it looked: sexy, sticky, moist... yea baby. I love the sprinkles on there. They are just over a buck so it's an easy treat to splurge on for next time and try the other flavors. The chocolate was so rich. No complaints!

The store itself reminds me of Dot's Cupcakes in Pasadena and Lark Cake Shop in Silverlake... that sort of "shabby chic", sterile but charming (is that possible?) girly/retro thing. I also got a 50's vibe from Frosted which I liked. I bet rows of women like this come out at night, grinning perpetually as they top every perfect cupcake with a special candy or swirly frosting design.

The big cupcakes are less than $3! So, dammit, my frugal, metro-taking self totally broke down and bought one of these mint chocolate ones...

Look at those chocolate chips!!! They get me EVERY TIME. I was going to wait for dessert, but I just ate it. This is a grade-A cupcake people! Dense, tightly-crumbed, "cake-like"cake (not dry), divine minty frosting that has that more "crunchy" (powdered sugar-y) consistency that makes salivary glands shudder. HEHEHEHHAHAHAA!! sugar rush!!

I also wanted to try their flavor of the month for September: Chocolate Malt (MALT!!!) and these strawberry ones. I loooove those candy toppings...

And these orange ones too! wowee. These are the ones that looked really 50's to me for some reason.
Thanks Frosted! Good luck with your new store! Being a match for Dot's is no small feat. But next time I'm driving.

Frosted Cupcakery (how cool is it that they call it a "cupcakery" too, by the way?)
1200 n. highland ave.
los angeles ca 90038

(323) 467-1080

closed monday
11am - 7pm tuesday - sunday

Monday, September 13, 2010

Noodles With Cabbage! Noodles WIth Cabbage!

Last Friday was a fun day.

After dancing like a hippie to Jesus Christ Superstar, I built up a crazy appetite and decided it was time to make something special and new for dinner.

I wanted something casserole-y, hearty, creamy/comforting, but didn't want to break the bank OR use my oven - which sets the smoke alarm off every time I use it. After toying with a tasty looking cream and tomato pasta sauce, I flipped through my Beard On Pasta book and found a glorious creature titled "Noodles With Cabbage".

NOODLES WITH CABBAAAAAGE!!!!??? *pop*pop*pop* went the hearts in my eyes.

A simple, yet unique and comforting meal made of soft sauteed cabbage and cream. I had planned to add ground beef too so I was very excited indeed!

You can make this dish with any noodle of course, or even dumplings, but I opted for good old fashioned "egg noodles" so I highly recommend those. They were thick and chewy enough to compliment the big pieces of cabbage and the creamy cream.

It's so fun to cook cabbage but beware, I "blacked" (not browned) my cabbage TWICE. Oops. So BE CAREFUL that you keep an eye on it as it gets soft in those last minutes before you add the cream.

I cut the recipe way down - this one is for 6-8 servings.

NOODLES WITH CABBAGE -From "Beard On Pasta" by James Beard

One 2-3 pound cabbage (I used plain green cabbage, it's so sweet and slightly bitter when cooked. Perfect.)
5 tablespoons butter or bacon fat
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup light cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound noodles

Put the cabbage through the slicing blade of the food processor (or just chop that shit up, yo). Melt the butter or bacon fat in a large skillet and saute the cabbage until it is lightly browned. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and continue to cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Then add the cream, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened.
Cook the noodles. Drain them, add them to the pot, and let everything bubble together for a few minutes to blend the flavors.

That's it! How easy is that?! Like a casserole without having to bake.

I agree with James Beard that it would be a great meal to have with a glass of beer .

My suggested additions:
*Ground beef - cooked with onions - simple but hearty addition
*Dill - when I had my leftovers the next day I sprinkled some dill over the noodles and holy lord it was a beautiful pairing.
*Mushrooms - I didn't try this but I can easily see some chopped, sauteed mushrooms being a great compliment to this dish as well.

Bon Appetit! Sherman wants some too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2 for 1 Wine at Palermos in Los Feliz

Palermo's in Los Feliz has initiated a 2 for 1 wine bottle special!

Wine is sexy! CHIANTI is even sexier! So I suggest buying this one when you want something dependable.

Cheap, strong and blood red.

Palermo's is a great "classic" Italian place and thanks to their special we got 2 bottles of the Chianti for $11. The second time around, we chatted with one of the owners (or maybe manager?) about wine long enough that the young guy behind the counter counseled us to "leave before he's starts talking about his ex-wife". Love it.

They have a handful of wines to pick from and most seem to be in the $5-10 range. A good chance to try them all.

Two for one people! Get yer tannins.

1858 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027-4215

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Farmer's Market Review!!! - Silverlake Saturdays with Soledad Goat Cheese and Cam Slocum's Tomatoes

OH MY GOD I am in love with life. Food, once again, is the channel for which I am finding such love inside me and this crazy modern world.

In my first installment of "Farmer's Market Review" (in which I will give you tasty local updates on the weekends for various farmer's markets in the area), I am gloriously overjoyed to say I found two fabulous local food vendors at the Silverlake Farmer's Market this morning.

I came to the Silverlake Farmer's Market because my J man lives nearby and introduced me to it a few weeks ago. I was in a bad mood that day so I was a little nervous today returning to the 'scene of the crime'. I know, I know... but seriously! I'm a gentle flower sometimes :P

As I passed by the rich and practically frothing color of all the fresh veggies and fruits dripping over tables and plastic bins, I could feel my shyness creeping up.

As well as my absolute awareness that I am currently flat broke.

I snapped a few photos, splurged on a bundle of fresh and fluffy dill and wandered back up to my car feeling sort of lame that I hadn't tried harder. I thought of the thing I most admire about Jamie (outgoing) and bucked myself up with some pioneering spirit and walked back, determined to talk to strangers and actually make this a post worthy of the people that will hopefully read it.

I bee-lined to the Soledad Goat Cheese table but in waiting to take photos I scooted to the next table and stumbled upon Lina Slocum tending to her Father's pickled green tomato and salsa display.


The theme of this post is now officially DISCOVERY. Lina loves Daft Punk and we chatted about them and their album Discovery, so that was amazing, but most amazing of all was discovering her dad's local tomato goods!

I looked down at the frosty little jars of pickled green tomatoes on display and she almost immediately handed me a big, beautiful plastic spoonful of the stuff. It was so sexy I almost felt naughty. GOD I LOVE LOCAL FOOD! The idea of it, the fact of it, the look, the character, the stories behind it. It's the best. And DUH, that's what farmer's markets are for.


I adored the pickled concoction - so fresh and bright, tangy but not too acidic. *Shmack shmack shmack*. I thought of Jamie and his pickling attempts and had to buy one for him. Well, me. I mean, him. :) I so rarely buy the "fun stuff" like this at Farmer's Markets (other than veg and fruit that is) so it was invigorating to do so. $8 was a lot for me but it just had to be done. Like being on vacation and collecting memories that you can't possibly find anywhere else.

After that chunky, tender and juicy pickled green tomato, Lina gave me spoonfuls each of Cam's 2 salsas. The green was very pleasant and mild, with a welcome, warming spice creeping up at the finish. Mm! Good for people who don't love lots of spice but want something super fresh that honors the single flavor of the tomato.

The next one was really different, a salsa with 5 types of radishes. Radishes in salsa!!?? So RAD! (No pseudo-pun intended). I could see this one being great for something like an omelet or hell, even eating it like Gazpacho, or with big chunks of soft french bread "just cuz". It was also relatively mild, very fresh tasting and unique as hell.

Shortly after this mid-morning salsa sampling I got to meet the man behind the tomatoes - Cam Slocum, the "East Side Tomato King". It just kept getting better! Super local food, folks. Cam grows these tomatoes at his farm in Lincoln Heights. Lincoln Heights people. So rad. He poured me a cup of lemonade and was fantastically welcoming and pleasant as we chatted about his farm. My heart and eyes were opening wide with appreciation - yup, food love does it every time!!

Cam is also an artist and has a new gallery (called "Old Fucks", ha) that is holding it's first opening tonight. Perhaps you will see the same picture that adorns the t-shirts he sells.

Old Fuck's Gallery
220 E. Ave 32
LA, CA 390031

You can chat with these awesome peeps and sample Cam's fab tomato creations at these local East LA markets:

Silverlake on Saturdays from 8am-1pm
Atwater Village on Sundays from 10am-2pm
and the NEW Farmer's Market in El Sereno Fridays from 4pm-8pm - DJ's and all! Sounds fun.

I wanted to hang out with them more and talk about food and art and Daft Punk, but there was goat cheese to be had! And you know me and goat cheese. Well, you probably don't, so I'll tell you. I F-ing LOVE it. Back off, I'm going to spread it all over my throat and sing it songs until it becomes a human being and marries me... I love it.

So I saddled back up to The Soledad Goat Cheese table, ready to take some pics and learn more about MORE local food! I was raring to go now! Pumped up on Cam's local tomato fire!

Rob is the name of the man behind the table who works for the husband and wife team who own 300 goats on their goat farm in the Mojave Dessert. As he was bustling around with his samples he told me the two were originally goat-farmers in England with something like 2000 goats! (My pen was on the fritz when he told me, so I hope I'm not quoting that totally wrong). Tragedy struck when a freak fire burned the whole place down, goats and all, leaving the married couple with literally the shirts on their backs. Chilling story that lead them to the States where they now operate a goat farm and supply us with...







This cheese was like ice cream.

Rob handed me a soft, white spoonful of their god-infused plain goat cheese and I had to do some serious will power action to keep from leaping on the table and screaming my head off with lustful food joy. But I could tell if I started to crow like Peter Pan over this bloody amazing goat cheese I might scare Rob, so I sort of stood there speechless like a dope as my body cranked into high gear. My pupils were probably like saucers. The cheese was fresh and white as newly fallen snow. Thick and soft like cream cheese but lighter in texture with a mild, openly sweet tang that only made sense when it was in my mouth... I'm doing my best to describe it but you'll just have to visit them and try it.

But, the worst was yet to come - the worst for what was left of my frail will-power, that is.


AAAAUUUUUUGGGHHH!!!!!! This was not some cloying, conceptual flavored cheese you guys, this was the universe blossoming on my tongue. I have not had such simple and true flavors in anything, let alone goat cheese, for a long time. I'm honestly humble and speechless about it. The lemon was light, the lavender slight and scent-like on the palate, and the honey, well...for anyone who knows how much I adore honey you'll understand that adding a touch of honey to this food-coma party is like giving me a Rufus Wainwright blood transfusion.

As it slid down my throat and dissolved on my tongue, the whole of my senses suddenly tasting and smelling like a sweet summer garden, Rob told me of restaurants that use it as the sole topping for thier cheesecake.

WHAT WHAT!?!?! Super swoon. As soon as I earn some more money, I'm buying cases of the stuff and inviting my friends over for a cheesecake orgy.

Nothing could really follow that first burst of bliss, but Rob generously sampled two more cheeses that were both fantastic. The first was a Cabernet-infused cheese, gently mottled with pretty veins of the wine flashing through as though it were a small slab of marble. It was beautiful and subtle, dense and creamy.

Second was a great, hearty little cheese that didn't taste "goaty" at all. (Not that I mind that, but some people do). He said it was great for kids and he's right, I think it would be. It had a true, straight forward flavor that was just as fresh as the others and full of creamy cheesy tang. I'm a dope because I dont' remember the name of that one. I was so overstimulated, I'm amazed I'm even writing this all down. Maybe if Rob reads this he can comment what it's called :D

Soledad Goat Cheese can be found at over 20 Farmer's Market, the most local for us Eastsiders being:

Hollywood on Sundays from 8am-1pm
Silverlake on Saturdays from 8am-1pm
and Atwater Village from10am-2pm.

*NOTE* they will be at the Hollywood one this Sunday, the 12th.

And with that, my warm food heart and wild food brain, I bid you a very happy food weekend indeed.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Food Book Friday - "Food Lover's Companion" Is My Best Companion

I had a thought just now that I should do a "theme" day, and this was one that came to mind: Food Book Friday.

So I'm doing it. This food book is my most favorite!

The Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst. Mine is the 3rd edition and looks just like this:

Awww, cute little Food Lover's Companion...You can get the newest edition here.

It's a mini food-dictionary/encyclopedia that has had great information on almost everything food related that I've ever been curious to look up. From cooking utensils to ingredients to food terms, you name it, it's got it.

My favorite thing about it is reading the vitamin/nutrient characteristics and benefits for most of the veg/fruit/edible entries. I often look up the abundant vitamin content for most vegetables I eat. And let me tell you, it's a thrill.

Random page flipped open reveals:

Short Ribs: Rectangles of beef about 2 inches by 3 inches, usually taken from the CHUCKCUT. Short ribs consist of layers of fat and meat and contain pieces of the rib one. They're every tough and require long, slow, most-heat cooking.


Brandy Alexander: A sweet COCKTAIL that is usually served after dinner. It's made with brandy, chocolate LIQUEUR and cream.