shake it, get down, and misinterpretation. and a shake.

5 Sep

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For once I did not try to change it. This easily alterable recipe. I went with the flow. It worked REALLY well. What do you know?

Which is not to say I don’t have ideas. Ideas which may happen with the leftover recipe components. But I gave this base, depraved, vile-in-spirit recipe a whirl, and it held up. Really blimey well. So well I wanted it the next night. Then again I find that things involving sugar and alcohol usually hold up solidly in the face of adversity.
Who does not love a shake that can be consumed with a spoon therefore rendering the cup unserviceable when a bowl is nearby?

I’m trying to flow more, generally. Not sweat “the small stuff”. Just do it. Whatever it is. Which changes a lot although pretty soon a brainchild of mine that has been festering in my noggin’ for over a year may just spring forth as vibrantly as Athena from Zeus’ head, and nearly as wise. Less angry.

That was cryptic. More details when it actually has happened.

This recipe makes a boatload of cubes of the recipe base, which are then blended in batches with Kahlua. I know, I know, it sounds so gauche. Gauche comes in large quantities though. So I have leftover cubes of the base to try some variations that I have in mind. Perhaps amaretto would be nice. Or adding in some cinnamon. I’m gonna play with the leftover cubes. However! That is not because I wasn’t fully sated with the recipe just exactly as Bon Appetit told me to make it. Well-what BA told me for the base of the drink anyway. I did not have the stuff for the whipped cream recipe, so I didn’t do that. I suppose that means I was still controlling things, but I just don’t think anything can replace the joy of jetting oodles of Reddi-wip (which I just now realized was “wip”, not “whip”) on top of the shake and into my mouth.

I know, you may be tempted to “make it better” and use something instead of my chosen Reddi-whip. But how about trusting me, the one you trust and tolerate, to guide you? This gauche-ness is good. for once I did not try to change it. I went with the flow. It worked. What do you know?

Kahlua Shake adapted (read, cut in half)from Bon Appetit
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 plus 3/4 cup H2O
1 cup half and half
6 Tbsp. Kahlua (2 per drink)
Whisk sugar, espresso powder, cocoa and salt in a small saucepan. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the water. Place over medium-high heat, then whisk and heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts to boil. Take off the heat and add remaining water and the half and half. Pour into something with a spout. Like a pitcher or a measuring cup. Pour into ice cube trays. I got 28 cubes. Freeze.
However many cubes you end up with, take 1/3 of them (math!), put in a blender (despite my love of immersion blenders, this still makes me long for a Vita-mix), and add 2 Tbsp. Kahlua and blend, blendy blend. Top with whipped cream. Delight. Spoon. Straw? Nah. Spoon.

Yet MORE Pie

4 Aug

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I can’t stop. I just keep posting pie. I am on a crust quest. Both for the perfect basic crust and the perfect frito crust.

It is very important to have ambitions.

Some of my acting goals are getting met at the moment-I start on a web series this week (playing a heroin addict!) and a short I wrote and am acting in is getting produced. So I feel as the metaphorical dessert for my acting repast, I can give pie a sliver of brain space.

They say it is important to not make grand sweeping goals without the accompanying actions you must take to achieve them. So, “win kcrw pie contest” is not a good goal. “Have intercourse with Trent Reznor” is not a good goal either, but for other reasons.

“Get together with pie fanatics to taste-test new crust recipes” is a good goal. It is achievable and gives a concrete course of action. I did that recently. I now have a new base recipe and a couple ideas of tweaks for the next round of crust. That taste-test get-together was just that: a small get-together. What was NOT small was the last pie event I held with my co-hosts Alice and Joel.

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Indulge me as I regale you with tales of the last pie party. Joel HAS achieved the “win kcrw pie contest” goal. He won for best savory pie. Of course now he wants to win both the savory and crust categories so he can have a shot at the coveted “Best in Show”. He offered to help host, since he has a whole dang house with ample parking. Alice and I gladly took him up on that. So as not to step on my pie glory he contributed an apple tart. Then he decided to make a tortilla español. And to use his grill to make paella too. Alice made a cherry-ginger sangria, and one involving bell peppers that was bloody delicious.

I made another version of my southwest purple potato pie, and the first stab at a dual-crusted upscale frito pie. And then just cause I’m nutty decided I really wanted to make the this recipe I had been ogling for some time.

I was quite scared of how things would pan out for the frito pie. It was really only the second time I have concocted a pie all on my own. This monstrosity has a regular bottom crust, a spicy black bean and mushroom filling, and a top crust with involving Fritos that have been ground up, as well as regular and corn flour and butter. In an ideal world I would have gotten my hands on some huitlacoche but I’ve yet to locate any. If anyone has a source for corn smut, I want to know! So I’m still working on the frito pie. It’s a dang tasty thing though. And a lot of folks cited it as their favorite of the night.

And a lot of folks there were! Our pie parties have grown from tiny, to a group of five learning about crust, to having more teaching plus a matching cocktail, to having two matching cocktails, to having a dark side and a large group, to this July’s MASSIVE pie, paella, and sangria FEAST, with around 30 guests.

It was an epic night. It was a beautiful night. It was a filling night.

When I finally perfect the frito pie I will tell you more about it. Same with the purple potato pie. In the meantime, the cherry streusel one was already perfection, compliments of those wacky people at Bon Appetit.

And in case all this is not enough pie for you, check out what I am proud to say is my most popular Hello Giggles column yet. I am particularly happy because I was writing about Greg‘s amazing Savory Pies cookbook and the potato-crusted macaroni and cheese pie.

But first, dessert!

Cherry Streusel Pie adapted from July 2005 Bon Appetit
Crust: I made a butter rendition, but as I mentioned I am still tweaking it. Here is a very basic, reliable, and (I think) tasty crust recipe I frequently use. You can also read there why I sometimes think a shortening crust is preferred.
Filling:
1 scant cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 14.5 oz. cans sour cherries. Most of the liquid strained.
dash almond extract (my addition)

Streusel:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the rack in the middle. Place a baking sheet lined with foil below this rack, if you fear spills. As you should.

Line your pie pan with your crust and put it in the freezer. Mix the first four filling ingredients. Add cherries and almond extract and stir. Allow to sit ten minutes.

Mix all dry ingredients for the streusel. Add the butter and vanilla and use your fingers to get a nice pebble-like consistence.

Pour the filling into the crust. Top with the streusel. Put it on the middle oven rack and bake about 20 minutes then tent foil over the top to keep the streusel from burning. Bake until the streusel is golden and and the filling bubbly, around 10 more minutes. Cool on a rack.

Nancy is THE best

15 Jul

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I almost do not want to tell you about The Copper Still. But I will. It deserves attention. Nancy deserves attention.

Nancy Kwon is Los Angeles’ best bartender AND best mixologist. I stand behind this opinion and anyone who challenges me should pay her a visit. Being a good bartender and a good mixologist are not the same thing. Nancy is also hella hot (and yet told me not to have pictures of her in this post), warm-hearted, brilliant, and prefers her Sazerac heavy on the absinthe rinse which makes her a woman after my own heart.

Oh hell she is not after it. She has it.

Just take a look at what is behind the bar. She has a collection of booze and bitters I could spend a month exploring. And on any given night she is experimenting and having people taste to help her perfect her next drink. For instance last night I saw a plate out with various little piles of salt. She was trying to determine which smoked salt was the best rimming mix for the mescal drink she was developing. I’d be impressed just at the smoked salt. But she gets so detail oriented that she had to choose which type of smoked salt to use.

This tiny lil’ unassuming Koreatown joint is easy to miss. It is attached to Jaragua, which is not. But through a curtain in the bar is indeed the restaurant which serves its creations late. It is a pretty tiny place. It is dark and red and black, and welcoming and not toooooo loud.

And here is a kicker: there is a parking lot. Which is too bad considering I would avoid driving here if I want more than one drink. All the same. Parking! I swoon, I faint, I would knight this bar if I were Queen of England. Which would be weird.
The Copper Still
4485 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Chocolate Pecan Tart

24 Jun

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Seeing as the next of my epic pie parties is scheduled for next month and I still haven’t given you the tart recipe from the last one (although I more than repaid you in giving the horchata cocktail, methinks) I thought it was high time to post this.

Acting is getting busy AGAIN! Just look at my star ranking, haha. Super.

Exciting Moment in Improv

Exciting Moment in Improv

Between acting and improv (which as you see from above frequently ends with me splayed out on the floor) and this lil’ column I’ve got my hands full. You should click all those links. Because the other thing keeping me so busy is self-promotion. Haha, again. Sort of. I jest. Or do I? Even I do not know.

So let us discuss the edibles. This pie is like a giant hunk of candy. It looks pretty, it tastes like dark sunshine (the kind with antioxidants) and is much easier than you would surmise. It is one of those things I made on a whim first when I was probably not even a teen yet. If I recall correctly we bought just enough cream to make it. My dad was helping me and the two of us burnt the cream. We had to wait until we could go back to the store the next day and get more cream to finish it.

But it was so blimey good I’ve held on to and repeated the recipe many a time since the Great Cream Incident of Nine-ty Something-or-Another.

Do make this. Don’t be me and get behind on your pie. It’s important.

Chocolate Pecan Tart adapted from Bon Appetit (from their RSVP section so they got it from a restaurant I know not any longer which one though because I wrote it down and tossed the magazine long ago)
2 cups pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, room temp
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
8 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. Semisweet chocolate
Heat oven to 325. In a food processor blend nuts, sugar and cinnamon until finely ground. Add butter and blend until mixed. Press into a 9-inch tart pan with a re moveable bottom or follow my lead and line a 9-inch pan with foil so you can lift out and unmold your tart later. Bake until lightly browned, around 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Chop chocolate. Bring cream and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Stir in chocolate until melted. Pour into tart crust, removing cinnamon stick. Put in fridge to chill. Unmold before serving.

Too darned good again, I never learn my lesson

1 Jun

IMG_2468I initially made the basis for today’s edibles when I had just delved into the sordid underbelly of food blogs. Hence the shabbier than shabby pictures, and lack of recipes in many of my early posts.
My friend Maurice lived for those cakes, which originally were made with potato. He is an awesome friend. Also my acting partner in crime as we get together and help each other prep for auditions and such. Then we don’t feel so alone like the tortured artists we are. Ennui, etc…Being as such, I will make (almost) anything for him. And I let him finish the original batch of these cakes. I should have made more, as he kept asking for the “things with kelp”. He is now more than well schooled in kale, fortunately or not.
I didn’t get a chance to share my butternut squash version of these with him because again, they were TOO DARNED delicious and I devoured them all.
Butternut Kale Cakes adapted from this recipe in the January 2011 Bon Appetit
For Cakes:
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash
2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil spray
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. minced garlic (I used jarred)
8 lacinato kale leaves, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. dried powdered thyme
dash nutmeg
For Rouille:
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
Heaping dashes of cayenne and paprika OR Sriracha
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Mash up the squash with the buttah, 1/4 tsp. salt, and some pepper. Heat olive oil spray over medium then sauté the onion until softened. Add kale, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, and sage and sauté until the kale is wilted and all liquid has evaporated. Stir into the squash with the thyme, nutmeg, and more pepper if you like. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake 20 minutes on one side then gently flip and cook 20-30 minutes more. These are delicate. If you like broil for maybe one minute to get a bit crispy on the outside. Meanwhile, thoroughly mix up rouille ingredients. That was difficult. Hot or cold, these are grand.

Blue Marg- serve w chips and salsa

5 May

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Fact: Margaritas should be served with chips and salsa. Soft salted pretzels are also okay if you serve the margarita unsalted. That works, my sweet babies.

More facts:

I am doing a staged reading of a spec script at a snazzy place with some good people to meet this coming weekend and I am excited because I am the “wise-cracking best friend”. So I get to make fun of people, including myself.

Fact: Margaritas should be served neat.

Fact: Margaritas require fresh lime juice. I know, there is a shortage. Shell out a spare penny, you spend more on crappy coffee and you deserve a good adult drink.

AND FINALLY

Fact: Margaritas are best when blue.

Don’t you sass me. Blue curaçao is the shiz-nit. And it is pretty and refreshing to look at. Like a stale browser, you need refreshing. Because–last fact: it got hot.

Blue Margarita from the Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich (wording mine)
Lime wedge
Kosher salt
2 oz. blanco tequila (I used Sauza)
1 oz. blue curaçao
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
Run lime wedge around chilled glass edge. Dip in salt. Put in freezer whilst assembling your drink. Shake up everything else with ample ice then strain into the glass. Serve with an extra slice of lime, big spender. You’re worth it.

I do like flowers

20 Apr

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It’s spring! Sunshine! Rebirth! Daffodils! Matzo!

Etc.

Time for new stuff, I say. Time for a trip to visit Faith & Flower. It has been open less than a month, but I wanted to visit. I’m trying to be a more intrepid reporter here. I can’t be totally intrepid. Maybe more in-tepid, since I do know one of the folks behind this restaurant, and therefore am not visiting undercover. I’ll save disguises for my glory days.

So, Faith and Flower. IT IS BEAUTIFUL.
And things are big.

It all started with a business card. Would you look at the weight of this thing?!

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They say it all starts with first impressions and my first impression was that Faith and Flower wants to impress. The heavy card stock connotes a certain luxury and opulence. Fortunately the actual restaurant follows suit.

It is Luxe with a capital L. A big chandelier (please pronounce French-ishly) welcomes you. There are longgggggg mustard couches for the banquette style seating, that are plush and ridiculously comfortable. I am one of the most persnickety people about comfort of couches and restaurant seating and I loved me some mustard couch.

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Sit down and a rather weighty tome or so are put into your hands. There is a wine list. There is a menu. There is a table of contents for handy navigation. Beyond the menu pages there seems to be a book in…Latin? When I go back to Faith and Flower I’m getting the scoop on that one. But seeing as I am The Book Cook I like it.

Also very important? The things you put in your mouth and don’t swallow.
I REALLY did not mean to make it sound like that. I’m talking about the cutlery and stemware. Get your mind out of the trash. This is a place where you drink your water out of chunky rather medieval goblets. I enjoy a glass with some serious weight to it. It feels encouraging to grasp that sort of cup, like it is full of the elixir of life. Actually it kind of is. Hydration is key. Your wine, if you are drinking a red like I was, was out of glasses that are Texas-sized. The better to let the wine breathe, my dear.

Service is also super-duper important to me. Based on our server’s and sommelier’s knowledge and enthusiasm you would not guess Faith and Flower had barely opened. This joint is driving like a well oiled machine: smoothly. No mistakes.

On to the food and drink. They had fantastic salad. You know me. I judge restaurants on salad (please also pronounce French-ishly-sal-AD) and stemware. My friend thoroughly loved her branzino with a blood orange reduction. Induction? Sauce? It was liquid ok? And it was pretty and according to her tasty.

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I really do apologize for that shot. It was dark in there. I know. Slap on the back of the hand.
Sommelier Jared Hooper recommended a wine to challenge our palates, an RPM Gamay. Normally you think of Gamay as a Beaujolais grape but this wine tasted like anything but. It was robust and had a pleasant bite. Later he brought a French gamay to the table so we could compare and contrast. The whole wine list is like this: full of wine to challenge and surprise your taste buds. Do the work and you are well rewarded. Later in the evening I sipped a glass of Roederer and upon learning that vodka was her calling, my friend was recommended the Vaudeville, which is the concoction you see at the top of the post.

I honestly need to go back to try more of the food and cocktails. And wine. And to lounge on those couches. I will report back, but if Faith and Flower keeps up the performance I saw it give, it is in excellent shape to be a downtown staple. Not to be confused with the downtown Staples center because that is hell on earth.

Oh, and lastly, goth me wants to smuggle the candelabra home.
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Oh, and incidentally I do LOVE flowers.

Faith & Flower
705 W. 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA
90015
213-239-0643

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