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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.

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Pie parties, horchata cocktails, and what the hell am I doing?

8 Apr

Goth-chata

Goth-chata

Firstly, I devised the horchata cocktail. Me. Moi. Then literally a few weeks after I came up with it the recipe I’m going to share, a new trendy restaurant called Gracias Madre opened and everyone is talking about their horchata cocktail. But mine is better. And…goth-er. Which is to say I made my own horchata OUT OF BLACK RICE.

I devised the horchata cocktail for a pie party. Details to follow the following brain hemorrhage:

In between planning amazing pie parties like the one I shall regale you with tales of, I am pretty busy as an actor. I’ve been having a boatload of improv shows every
week, but in between all the performing I see the rest of the world, the people with real jobs wondering what the heck I do all day. And when asked on the spot I stammer and can’t quite remember it all because it’s a lot and so I come off as…I dunno. A not-busy person. God forbid. So I’m gonna tell you today’s activities (which now was a week ago). First off, I open up my laptop and email like a madwoman. Then I check the breakdowns to submit myself for roles that if I’m lucky I get called in to audition for. After fielding my email the breakdowns are my first stop. I go back to email and breakdowns a dozen times a day. Then I had an audition. This one was not too far, and it was in the golden hour when traffic is less horrible, so it didn’t take long. But between traffic and depending on how behind the casting office is running, an audition will bite several hours out of your day. Not counting all the prep time for it. After my audition I worked on scripts for another couple of upcoming auditions. What’s my motivation? No, really. What is it? Then I researched agents (I’m trying to find a new one) and wrote the perfect cover letter to send to one particular agent. This took a while. More work on scripts. What are my obstacles? Then I worked on the column I write for Hello Giggles. Then I updated my website with info on upcoming shows I’m doing and who my manager is because it just changed. Then I got in touch with a headshot photographer because I need new shots. Next I need to put the finishing touches on a pilot script I want to enter in a contest. And then I get to have late night coffee or who-am-I-kidding wine with a friend I want to collaborate with on a project. Because in LA your friends and the people you work are often one and the same. Which is both good and bad. Many evenings I’d be headed off to a class or a workshop or a practice or to do a show (after which there may or may not be wine) but tonight I get to skip to the wine.
And that, folks, is how I have “no job”.

And of course, there are the pie parties.

The last one was “Dark Side of the Pie” and took place right after Valentine’s Day as a palate cleanser. I made horchata with black rice, and designed a cocktail using it. I made a dark chocolate tart (recipe to come at a later date). Because I am still trying to perfect a southwest potato pie I made that but used purple potatoes to add some darkness. Guests were instructed to try to where black and red. Not all my friends came through on the attire, but many did bring red wines with delightfully goth labels.

It was pretty swell. Really, I am not sure where I’d be without my friends. Either slightly crazier or saner?

This cocktail had two variations for the party, but my friend Joel brought me a bottle of cinnamon liqueur that I later plan to use to create a third variation. Cinnamon liqueur was probably invented for the purpose of boozifying horchata.

Cocktails from the Dark Side: Amaretto and Chocolate
For horchata (adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe here)
2/3 cups black rice, ground in the blender
3 cups warm water
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups almond milk (chocolate almond milk for the Kahlua version)
Soak the rice and cinnamon in water for a minimum of eight hours in the fridge. Remove cinnamon. Stick an immersion blender in there and blend more. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth twice. Add sugar and milk. Refrigerate.
For cocktail:
1 oz. black rice horchata
1 oz. rum (light or spiced, take your pick)
3/4 oz. amaretto (or 1/2 oz. Kahlua if you made the horchata with chocolate almond milk)
a few dashes of chocolate chili bitters
cinnamon to garnish
Shake all except the cinnamon up. Strain over one giant cube. Garnish with cinnamon. Sigh in delight. Then sigh with great melodramatic tones. Nowwwwwww you’re doing goth right.

Today’s post as a meal in courses: reel, party, pie, brains and a Clifford original

13 Mar

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Whoa. Like, whoa.

So much to share. I shall serve it up like a long tasty dinner. I swear it is worth it. There is a drink recipe at the end your reward. The dessert for this post.

Before I even get to what’s first, I redid my dramatic reel, y’all:

Now the real first course. The reel was the amuse bouche.

Next up we have an appetizer of comedy (very funny), a soup course of party (quite fine). Then a beverage and a main coarse of pie and brains. Yes, brains!
And dessert.

Appetizer: Last weekend I did a wee bit if stand-up. Me likey. People laughed a lot. Tis interesting that I hated being laughed at as a kid. Yet being laughed at is now my chosen form of crack. That was 7pm Saturday.

I rushed home for the soup coarse of this post, a party.
Let me explain the soup, a fine melange of friends, food, drinks, and celebration. Garnished with hugs.
Yes, I had another party with pie. The party was to celebrate 3 years of still being alive after I had that accident from which I incurred some smashing (literally) good injuries. That last link will also hold the recipe for delightful vegetarian Scotch eggs, incidentally. Delightful.

I digress. I am alive and more or less well and grateful for life. I wanted to get down, get down, and party.

For the occasion, and this post’s main course beverage, I cracked a red bubbly recommended to me by Whitney at DomaineLA that was more robust than sweet.

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Yes please may I have another? Twas a manly red sparkler.

My amazing neighbor brought this post’s main course side dish, a very smart centerpiece:

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Oh, jello molds!
And the entree! Just in time for pi day tomorrow! Get a little 3-14 in your maw!
I made an English Cheddar Farmhouse Pie from the cookbook by Greg of Sippity Sup. His book from which I got this recipe is called Savory Pies and I’m not giving you the recipe because I think you should get the book. Greg, if you are reading I was tempted to invite you to the party but I sort of had performance anxiety over serving you your recipe…
I barely got to taste the pie. I swear it it demolished so rapidly. I got a sliver while slicing it then ran off to make cocktails for my friends and turned around and it was gone. I gotta make this one again so I actually get a full on slice.

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My friends were totally forgiven for Bogarting the pie, as thy brought me offerings of books, music, crack (aka cookie butter, not pictured) and pseudo health crap (the “powerberries in the pic).
And have I mentioned how I LOVE getting girly flowers?

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LOVE. Take note.

And now the dessert, my gift to you, a beverage I invented playing on the many Negroni themes. I’ll call it the Clifford Negroni. Maybe someone invented this already but I googled and haven’t found it. It’s great if you crave a slightly less alcoholic Negroni with more flavor than an Americano.
Ginger ale. The happy gin.
The Clifford Negroni
1/2-1 oz. Campari (aka my lifeblood)
1/2-1 oz. sweet vermouth
Ginger ale (I wish I could say I was loyal to my childhood Vernor’s but I’ve recently been taken by Hansen’s)
Orange twist
The amounts depend on the size of your glass and how much you already drank. I’d had champagne at my party so I had smaller amounts of the Campari and sweet vermouth. Pour these into a champagne flute, top with ginger ale. Run twist around rim then twist the twist to express some oil and drop it in.
Toast to your exquisite life. If you are lucky enough to have life, it is exquisite and worthy of many toasts.

American, Americano

20 Feb

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It’s a two-fer! You get a drink, and a dish. An some random facts about me.
The “American” salad got me thinking about this here country, which got me thinking about race issues, which got me to pondering how I seem to have an affinity for being the minority, which is somewhat of a feat for a white girl from the Midwest.
I grew up in a school where being white put me in the minority. In college I played taiko drums, so I hung around a lot of Japanese folks. I acted with the St. Louis Black Rep (token white chick?). So when I moved to LA I moved to Koreatown because it felt good to be in the minority. Now I’m just East of K-town, almost downtown, in a pretty diverse neighborhood.
In general I think I am accustomed to not quite fitting in, to the point that I am actually more comfortable feeling like I am not blending in.
The exception being a trip to, say, Whole Foods, where white English speakers abound but no matter how nice I thought I looked before going I will never measure up to the super-hip clientele in all their lululemon glory. I may be in my demographic but I’m itchy as all get-out.

I get my chia seeds and run.

Safely at home I might just mix up some nibbles. And an almost-a-Negroni drink to make myself feel better. Which is inevitably dumped out before I’m done because I cannot drink too much alone. Nor should I drink whilst trying to chop potatoes for a nice potato salad and simultaneously working on scenes for an audition.

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And so it goes.

Americano from The Ultimate Bar Book by Mittie Hellmich
1 1/2 oz. Campari
1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
3 oz. club soda
Twist of lemon peel
Twist of orange peel
Stir Campari and vermouth over ice, strain into glass of ice. Add club soda. Stir. Twist peels over and drop in. Salute. And salud.

American Potato Salad (adapted from The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition)

1 pound potatoes (not the starchy type)
1 celery rib, dice dice baby
A couple Tbsp. diced bread and butter pickles
6 Tbsp. reduced fat mayo
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. brown mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle of dried parsley
Boil taters in salted water until cooked. Drain, chop into whatever bite-sized means to you. Toss with remaining ingredients. Put in fridge until cool.

Gatsby time again: #

9 Jun

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Yes indeed. Another succulent hash.

It is feeling like summer.

Summer makes me think of the Great Gatsby.

Hashes make me think of The Great Gatsby.

So in honor of The Great Gatsby’s location, East and West Egg, I opted for an egg hash. So logical.

The Great Gatsby also think about Daisy and how she made people have to lean in to hear her as she spoke in her whispery way.

I’d sort of love to draw people to me like that but…I’m not like that.

So I draw people to me with hashes instead.

Daisy and Gatsby make me think of lovers.

So I turned to my lover Bittman, for a hash.

So damn logical.

Not quite as toothsome as this succulent one.
Less spicy than this one.
Easier to make than this one.

And with it, I believe I’ve conquered just about all Bittman’s hashes. Now to conquer him.

And to re-read Gatsby.

But before the recipe, a bloggerific notice: I am headed into tech week for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and will not be posting next week. I’ll return to you with a very, ahem, cosmopolitan week of recipes on Monday the 18th. If you desire more Ellen in your life before then, come to the play! Tickets here: http://m.bpt.me/event/243225 or call 323-601-5310

Egg Hash(adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Olive oil spray
1/2 lb. roasted potato wedges
2 hard-boiled eggy-weggs(whites chopped, yolks mashed separately)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. chopped scallions
Spray pan with oil and heat to medium high. Add egg whites and cook undisturbed. They’ll start to hiss at you at around 3 minutes. Try not to take it personally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss, scraping pan. Lower heat to medium. Add garlic. Cool another couple of minutes, stirring that mofo from time to time. Add taters and scallions, cook til hot and succulent, them add yolks.

Poturnip, potato

6 Jun

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I admit I really like that old-school mayo-mustardy potato salad. Oddly enough I’m generally not the biggest mayonnaise person, but that salad I can get behind.
I wanted to use up the spate of potatoes and turnips I got from the CSA so I decided to adapt this recipe from the May Bon Appetit into a potato-turnip salad.

I also left out the chopped red onion because I can’t take tasting red onion all day.

Then, whilst mashing the hard-boiled egg yolks for the filling and looking at the whites I realized it:

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This potato-turnip salad makes the best deviled eggs on earth.

And then you don’t waste the whites or have to eat them plain.

Seriously, BA, why did you not think if this? Slackers.

Eggy Potato Turnip Salad adapted from the May 2012 BonAppetit
1/2 pound boiled red potatoes, halved
2 c. Chopped boiled turnips
2 hard-boiled egg yolks, mashed
2 Tbsp. juice from a jar if sweet pickles
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. Reduced fat mayo
Heaping 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
Sweet pickle chips to garnish
paprika to garnish
Mash the potatoes, yolks and turnips coarsely, part it should have large chunks amidst the sea of mash. Mix salt, pepper, juice, mayo, and mustard. Stir into the mash. Divide amongst you, yourself and whoever and garnish with the sweet pickle chip and paprika. Yah.

OR be brilliant and fill the discarded whites with the salad. Pshaw.

Purple ftw

18 Dec


First off, eat at Jar. Even if you are a vegetarian, perhaps even vegan. The vegetable sides are brilliant.
Second(on? off?), be adventurous. I do not like sweet potatoes. I saw purple Okinawan sweet potatoes on the Jar menu and decided to throw caution to the wind in the name of purple. I like purple though I do not know that I will wear it when I am old. I’ll probably still be in black. These do not taste like potatoes or sweet potatoes. They taste fantastic.
Thirdly, frequent a Korean market in Koreatown in the fall/winter and find yourself some of these. The California Market is the only place I’ve found these gems. Do not be afraid. Koreatown will not bite. And I need some visitors over here on the more easterly side of LA, I’ve been trekking west far too much these days.
I’ll stop whining.
Lastly but hardly leastly, nor yeasty, bake these up and serve with a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Don’t attempt the mustard aoli dip you see in the background-it was a bit of a fail.
I imagine some Bearnaise would be smashing, though.

Do you like foods better when they come in a cool color?