Monday, April 14, 2014

BBQ Chicken Tostadas

This dish is American BBQ meets Mexican Street Food. I love incorporating barbecue sauce into my favorite Mexican dishes and the cabbage and fennel slaw adds a delicious bright balance to the sweet and smokey flavor of the chicken. The slaw is tossed in a super simple lime vinaigrette - this is a fabulous summer weeknight meal and one of our favorite ways to repurpose leftover roast chicken! 

BBQ Chicken Tostadas 
Serves 2

2 corn tortillas 
Grapeseed or Corn oil, for frying 
1/2 head green cabbage
2 Chicken breasts, seasoned and grilled 
1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce 
1 head fennel 
1/2 cup fennel fronds 
1 lime, juiced 
1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Tapatio or your favorite hot sauce, to taste 

1. Heat grapeseed or corn oil in a pan. Fry corn tortillas in 375 degree oil until crispy - set aside and let cool. 
2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and grill. Finish by brushing with your favorite BBQ sauce. Slice and place on top of crispy corn tortilla. 
3. Shave cabbage and fennel on a mandolin and toss in fresh lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt with pepper. Place slaw on top of chicken and sprinkle with fennel fronds and queso fresco cheese. 
4. Add a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Enjoy! 

Note: You can have fun with the toppings, sometimes we add caramelized onions, roasted poblanos, pickled onions, fresh cilantro, etc, all depending on what we have on hand. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Things I'm loving this week: 

Le Creuset has just launched a new Matte Collection in Cotton, Sisal, and Mineral Blue. Absolutely dying over everything. Stunning. Well-played Le Creuset.

Heath Ceramics has released their newest seasonal collection inspired by the flora of Iceland in matte green, lavender, and warm basalt grey. 

This lavender and grey salad bowl is blowing my mind. SO pretty. Also loving the glossy moss vase and bowls. 

Bravo Heath. [Insert Slow Clap]

My amazing twin sister made sparkly bunny ears for all of our nieces and nephews to wear next weekend during our family-filled Easter festivities. She made a super rad DIY guide for them on her blog over at Wylie West Creative. See it below and you can check out more of her ideas HERE

These drink stirrers have the perfect bit of whimsy!

 Set of 10 - $20 - via Provisions by Food 52 

This is a brilliant idea for summer entertaining - use oyster or clam shells as salt wells on the table! 

Jacobsen Salt Co. sells the ones below (by the pair) for $16. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Strawberries & Cream

One of my most favorite summer desserts is, in fact, one of the simplest. Fresh strawberries and whipped cream. I keep the whipped cream simple by adding only vanilla bean and sometimes a pinch of confectioners sugar - all depending on how sweet the berries are - if they are super sweet, I don't sweeten the cream and if they are more acidic, I add a touch of sweetness. You be the judge. 

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream 
1 Grade A Tahitian Vanilla Bean (or whatever type you can find!)
Pinch of Confectioners Sugar (optional)

1. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape pod with back of knife to remove all teeny tiny seeds. 
2. Add seeds to Heavy Cream. This is when you would add that little bit of confectioners sugar if you want it.
3. Using a stand mixer with whisk attachment or hand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the cream until light and fluffy. Soft Peaks should stand on their own. Whipped cream will hold, refrigerated, for 24 hours. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Things I'm loving this week: 

I had my very first Apple Pan experience this week. Once you get past the fact that there is no wait list or host and you are on your own to to grab a seat amidst a group of hungry waiting customers lining the plaid wallpapered walls like vultures - you are overcome with nostalgia and it's clear why so many Angelenos treasure this place. The staff running around in paper hats. The sodas served in paper cones. The way the server pours your ketchup for you when your french fries arrive. The homemade pies. The Hickory Burger and Banana Cream Pie hit the spot. It was pure retro diner gloriousness from start to finish.  

Strawberry Season is officially HERE!! We celebrated this week by having a strawberry tasting at home this past Friday night, for dessert. I picked up all three varieties that Harry's Berries offered at the Santa Monica Farmers Market: Gaviotas, Seascapes, & the much sought after Mara Des Bois Strawberries. With a range of acid and sweetness it was the perfect trio - this was a great way to taste the nuances between each variety and a supremely fun way to enjoy all the options at your local farmers market. 

Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. I'll be dreaming of Mendl's Courtesan au Chocolat for weeks to come. Everything about the confectionery shop was perfection from the powder blue uniforms to the pink boxes each treat was packaged in. I would expect nothing less from Mr. Anderson - the film was packed with whimsy and fun - a real treat. Thanks to Fox Searchlight and Wes Anderson, there is a video of how to make the Courtesan au Chocolate and an official recipe!

Mendl’s Courtesan au Chocolat

The exact recipe for the Courtesan au chocolat has never been published or publicly disclosed as per the conditions of Herr Mendl’s will. However, the following has been collated and adapted from a several “pirate” sources in the Nebelsbad archives (including a 1963 recipe from the kitchen of the Grand Budapest Hotel using powdered eggs that was printed in the Lutz Daily Fact).
Make a choux pastry of flour, water, butter and eggs. Though correct proportions may vary depending on one’s elevation and humidity, we recommend:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup fresh water
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
4 eggs beaten in a bowl
A pinch of salt
A larger pinch of sugar

Bring the water, butter salt and sugar to a boil. Remove from the fire and quickly mix in the sifted flour. Return to heat for a few minutes, stirring, and cook until the dough forms a single lump. Allow to cool just enough to keep the eggs from cooking and stir in very gradually with a strong wooden spoon.
Cover your tray in parchment and pipe the dough into spoon size dollops. You will need small, medium, and large size pastry balls (large tablespoon, teaspoon and hazelnut size dollops) to make a courtesan. Bake in the oven at 350F(180 C) for about 25-35 minutes. The smaller pastries are best put on a separate tray as they will cook more quickly.

Remove from the oven and discreetly make a small piercing in the choux to allow the steam to escape.

Once cooled, the large and medium choux should be filled with a crème pâtissière of chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Several large pieces semi-sweet chocolate
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 spoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon flour
Cornstarch to thicken

Heat the milk gently and add chocolate, stirring to melt into a rich, almost-steaming chocolate milk. Whisk egg yolks, flour, sugar, cocoa and a few spoons of cornstarch into a smooth mixture. Add half of the hot chocolate milk to the bowl, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Then add this mixture back into the rest of the hot milk, stirring over gentle heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens to a custard. Remove from heat and chill.
Once cooled, spoon the chocolate crème into a pastry bag and pipe into the large and medium pastry balls.
Prepare sugar icing of confectioner’s sugar, a dash of vanilla and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. Separate into 3 small bowls and add food coloring to each - one pink, on lavender, one pale green. Reserve a small amount of white icing.
To assemble a Courtesan, dip a large ball of filled pastry in the pink icing (to the midline) and place icing side up on a small tray. Repeat with a medium pastry into the lavender icing, and place it, iced side up, atop the first ball. Press it gently so it sticks in place. Repeat with the smallest pastry in the green icing. Decorate with filigree of white icing as desired. Place a cocoa bean atop the tower as a garnish.
Serve fresh.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Vietnamese Salad Rolls

These light and fresh salad rolls are a popular Vietnamese dish that can be bulked up with added protein - I used firm tofu - but you could use grilled shrimp, chicken, or beef as well. Pick your favorite farmers market veggies and julienne slice them and then wrap up in rice paper (banh trang).  My favorite dipping sauces are peanut, sweet chili sauce, or miso dressing - you can mix and match your favorite combination - there are enough options to keep this dish changing all summer long.

Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Peanut Sauce 
3-4 servings 

1 package Rice Paper (banh trang)
Bowl of Warm Water - deep enough to submerge rice paper 
 2 Carrots, julienned 
2 heads little gem lettuce, shaved 
4 persian cucumbers, julienned 
1 cup  sprouts
2 avocado, sliced thin 
1/3 cup fresh mint
1/3 cup fresh basil 
1 package Firm Tofu 
Peanut sauce (recipe below)

1. Prepare Peanut Sauce (recipe below) and let cool.
2. Prep all of your vegetables - slice very thin - and set aside. Pick your fresh herb leaves too. Slice the tofu into matchstick size pieces to match the vegetables. 
3. Take the rice paper and submerge in bowl of warm water until softened. Remove and lay flat on surface. Place desired filling in middle of wrap, fold ends over, and roll tight. Cut in half on the bias before serving. 

Peanut Sauce 

1 can (13.5 oz) unsweetened coconut milk 
2 oz red curry paste
9 oz crunchy peanut butter 
1/2 cup sugar 
2 T unseasoned rice wine vinegar 
1/2 T kosher salt
1/4 t sesame oil 
1/2 lime, juiced 
Sriracha, to taste (optional)

1. Put all peanut sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan, whisk until combined, and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and let cool. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Strawberry Basil Gin Smash

We are huge Hendricks Gin and Tonic fans at our house. After a big farmers market delivery last week from FarmboxLA we had some beautiful strawberries, lemon, and basil to play with and decided to add a bit of "summer" to a truly classic combination.

Instead of just muddling the strawberry and basil - I went a few steps further - no bruised basil or awkward chunks of strawberry here! See the details below.

Strawberry Basil Gin Smash 

1 lb Strawberries
1 lemon, juiced + extra wedges
1 bunch basil
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Hendricks Gin 

1. Make a basil simple syrup. Place 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan with a bunch of fresh basil. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolves. Strain out basil. Let cool completely. 
2. Place strawberries in vitamix blender with juice from 1 lemon and puree until smooth. If you need a bit more liquid to get a smooth consistency, add a splash of water. 
3. Fill glass with ice. Add 2 oz fresh strawberry puree, 2 oz gin, and 1 Tbsp basil simple syrup. Finish with tonic water and a squeeze of lemon. stir. enjoy.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Things I'm loving this week: 

Pressed Juicery's seasonal green juice is so delicious. A combination of spinach, kale, asian pear, coconut water, cucumber, and lime. So completely refreshing. 

The Chinese American Museum here in Los Angeles has opened a Sriracha and Tapatio inspired art exhibit called "LA Heat: Taste-Changing Condiments" that will be running through  July 12th. Suggested admission is $3. 

Sriracha Hot Chili Sauces, Ching Ching Cheng
Thanks to my gal pal, Amy, I'm officially addicted to Pop Chips. So is my hubby. In fact, we've been ordering them by the case from Amazon (we take full advantage of our Prime account).  Not baked or fried. Super light and crunchy.  The sour cream and onion and barbecue flavors are our favorite! 

Katy Perry for Pop Chips
Last Friday, Outstanding in the Field launched ticket sales to their 2014 tour! They've got an amazing line up - Jim Denevan has really outdone himself this year. For those of you unfamiliar with Outstanding in the Field, it is a sort of movable feast - a restaurant without walls - they set up dining experiences in vineyards and fields, on mountains, in sea caves, you name it, they've done it. Amazing farmers and chefs coming together to create incredible seasonal menus for each location.  

Outstanding in the Field
I'm dying over these lino cut prints by Hugo Guinness via John Derian.  The simplicity is perfection. 

I mean... the ice cube tray and cheese graters...amazing. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Salmon Cakes

Whether you've got leftover salmon from last night's dinner or you are looking for a fresh take on cooking with salmon, I've got you covered. These flaked salmon cakes are perfection as a bite-size appetizer, as the base for an eggs benedict, or sandwiched between a grilled brioche bun as the perfect summer burger smeared with lemon herb aioli or tartar sauce. 

Salmon Cakes 
makes 8-10 small cakes 

2 lbs wild or sustainably raised salmon 
1 cup panko bread crumbs 
1/2 cup mayo
zest of 1 lemon
 1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup minced fresh dill 
1 Tbsp dijon mustard 
1 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal work great)
1 egg 
kosher salt and pepper, to taste 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Season salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake salmon until cooked through.  Let cool completely. 
3. Carefully remove all pin bones and skin. Flake salmon into a large bowl - you simply pull it apart with your hands and it will naturally flake into small pieces. 
4. Add all ingredients except panko. Mix gently to combine. Add 1/2 cup panko and reserve remaining 1/2 cup of crumbs. 
5. Using a small ice cream scoop portion the salmon into 8-10 small cakes. Roll each cake gently in the last 1/2 cup of panko - you don't want a ton - just enough to add a little texture. 
6 .Pan fry in grape seed oil and/or butter until golden brown. 
7. Serve with your favorite aioli or tartar sauce. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Squash Blossom Rellenos

It's the time of year when gorgeous summer squash blossoms start popping up at local farmers markets. If you haven't tried them before its totally time to jump on the bandwagon. They taste like zucchini and yellow summer squash only more delicate. I love them on thin crust pizzas with fresh mozzarella, chili flakes, & dried oregano or stuffed inside cheesy quesadillas with caramelized onions and spicy salsa verde. 

My newest favorite is a play on chile rellenos minus the egg batter and deep-frying - you simply stuff the squash blossoms with cheese and fresh cilantro and bake at 400 degrees until golden and melty and then top with warm rojo or mole sauce. I used homemade ricotta but you could use a more classic relleno cheese like monterey jack or asadero. It is the perfect summer side dish for Mexican night at our house which is usually at least 2 days a week - my husband would eat only Mexican if I let him. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Things I'm loving this week: 

Chef Roy Choi's Alibi Room on Washington in Marina Del Rey; super thoughtful and well-executed cocktails. Ridiculous bar food. From the Korean Spiced French Fries (served with sriracha, ketchup, & sesame mayo) to the Sweet Chili Chicken and Blackjack Quesadillas, everything was insane. Of course he is know for his Short Rib "Kogi" Tacos (always tasty) and then we also dabbled in the Hot Wings and the Sour Cream Hen House Bowl. Can't recommend this place enough. It's very small inside. No reservations. Very Casual vibe - everything is served in disposable containers. 

This past Sunday the gals of Bash Please hosted the yearly LA edition of The Cream Event - a sort of wedding vendor showcase which focuses primarily on the new wave crowd - not your average old school big name vendors. It was hosted at The Book Bindery in Culver City and it was a super fabulous showcase. Here were some of my favorite food highlights:

Bon Puf is fresh take on cotton candy - featuring organic, all natural confections in super fun flavors like chai, mango chili, coconut, strawberry, pear, rose, and raspberry. No crazy artificial dyes or flavors.  LOVED this cotton candy. 

The Paella Project put a serious show for the crowd - every hour or so, they brought out a new giant paella- from vegetarian to seafood to short rib - all served with fresh lemon and a drizzle of tangy aioli.  Other favorites were the "nacho trough" from Room Forty, the mini Chicken Shawarma bites from Hungry Bear Catering, Mini Ice Cream Sandos from Cool Haus,  and Stunning Cocktails from Pharmacie

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Arancini with Sriracha Marinara

I had some mushroom and black truffle risotto leftover from dinner the other night and risotto loves nothing more than to be reinvented as arancini [the name comes from the Italian word for "little orange"]. Arancini has Sicilian roots dating back to the 10th century. In their simplest form they are deep-fried rice balls often stuffed with meat sauce or cheese.  Day-old, cold risotto makes the perfect base for arancini. 

Here's how to pull it off: use an mini ice cream scoop (or spoon) to portion equal size amounts of cold risotto (about 2 tablespoons per ball).  Place a little piece of mozzarella cheese in the center of each ball and form into a sphere with your hands. Place aside until all are complete. Next, crack an egg in one bowl and add a splash of water. Whisk together. In another bowl combine combine a 2:1 ratio of panko crumbs to Parmesan cheese with a pinch of kosher salt. Take each ball and dunk in egg wash and then roll in panko cheese mixture.  Once all are ready, fry in 350 degree oil for 2-3 minutes each. I used grape seed oil but you can use canola if you want.  Finish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs (basil or parsley or both) and some Parmesan Cheese. Serve with Sriracha Marinara sauce. Simply add sriracha to your favorite marinara sauce (keep adding until you reach desired level of heat). 

Serve as a bite-sized appetizer when entertaining company or with a Lemon and olive oil dressed arugula salad for a meal. These are very kid-friendly too - you can play with an array of dipping sauces including béchamel, pesto,  meat sauce, etc.