June 7, 2013 |
This week may be the best of the year for high-flavored fruit that's worth a special trip to local farmers markets, because it's almost never available elsewhere. Start with boysenberries, whose rich, complex, sweet-tart flavor reflects their ancestry, part raspberry, part trailing blackberry. To be at their best, they must be picked dead-ripe, when they're too soft and perishable for supermarkets, and even at farmers market just a few vendors take the trouble. Look for containers in which all or most of the berries are deep purple, indicating full ripeness; less ripe berries are better for baking or making preserves.
May 31, 2013 |
After a month of mediocre early-season apricots, the prime varieties, sweet, juicy and flavorful, are here or will be soon. Beyond the celebrated Blenheim, there are other worthwhile varieties, and a few are even better. Here are the leading apricots and apricot-like hybrids, in order of ripening, rated on a scale of 1 to 10 for flavor. The crop is about a week early this year and looks good in size and quality. • Apache (5 rating). Season typically May 5-25. Introduced by Ledbetter, USDA, 2002; has Royal and Perfection in its pedigree.
May 18, 2013 |
When Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu opened their Bell restaurant 15 years ago, some customers wondered if they knew how to cook. Accustomed to Mexican food laden with sour cream, melted cheddar cheese and mild salsa that has long been served up in the Los Angeles area, patrons balked at eating La Casita Mexicana's enchiladas covered in pumpkin seed mole, cotija cheese and red onions. Many of the doubters, to the restaurateurs' surprise, were Mexican American. Regional Mexican cooking isn't a tough sell anymore.
May 16, 2013 |
The director of the controversial new production of Wagner's "Tannhauser" that made ample use of Nazi imagery -- including swastikas on costumes and a set that featured a pseudo-gas chamber -- has expressed bafflement over the decision to cancel the staging earlier this month in Germany and said it was a form of censorship. In an interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel published this week, Burkhard Kosminski said he is "shocked and speechless and cannot understand" the decision made by leaders at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf, Germany, to call off all remaining performances.
May 13, 2013 |
Who doesn't love a cucumber? Picklers, slicers, green or yellow, smooth or bumpy, thin- or thick-skinned, chubby Kirbys, little cornichons, English, Japanese, Persian. Good thing then that with the impending heat comes cucumber season. They peak with the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and those other cucurbits, squashes and melons, but among all these, cucumbers are the most like Johnny Depp -- very, very cool. With their refreshing herbaceous flavor and their snappy crunch, cucumbers are exactly what we want to eat right now -- still (they've been cultivated for more than 3,000 years)
May 3, 2013 |
Brewers have long used anything and everything they can as a source of fermentable sugars in their mix of brewing grains -- called the "grist", but malted barley is by far the favored grain. Barley is full of the enzymes needed to properly convert the starches contained in its kernels to the sugars that the yeast can eat, and it's fibrous husk eases the brewing process. Wheat is another very popular ingredient that is important to many styles of beer, but it is better suited to bread-baking than it is to brewing.
April 26, 2013 |
The craft beer movement is fueled by inventive brewers who will turn to just about anything to flavor their beer, and beers with creative ingredients are becoming more common as craft beer grows in popularity. Additions like coffee and chocolate have become positively pedestrian in craft beer, and it often seems as though brewers are racing to one-up each other with their concoctions. We recently told you about Angel City Brewing's -- surprisingly drinkable -- seaweed- and rosemary-laced beer, the French Sip . Here are five more craft brews from Southern California that are more than just gimmicks.
April 13, 2013 |
Funny how the chicken has become our most beloved bird. My neighbor is raising some exotic chicks, but even those of us who don't go to that extreme have our own favorite named chickens to buy - Rosie, Rocky, Mary or the more exotically named Jidori. Roast chicken is the go-to dish for every chef I can name. And chicken is a perennial favorite on most restaurant menus - fried, pan-fried, rotisserie-roasted, in tagine , salad, soup, pot pie, curry and every which way. Here are three of my favorite chicken dishes in L.A. Bouchon Bouchon may be famous for its lusty fried chicken, and that is one of the great fried chickens of the world, but my heart is firmly fixed on Thomas Keller's roast chicken grand-mère , which may be the prettiest chicken dish in L.A. It arrives tall and proud, the breast stacked on top of the leg and thigh, with dainty pearl onions, demure fingerling potatoes, button mushrooms and bacon lardons strewn around the plate in the bird's winter savory-infused juices.
April 13, 2013 |
Here in California we love to brag about our abundance of wonderful seasonal ingredients and how that makes good food easy. That's more or less true, but I have to confess that I've also always had a sneaking admiration for those cooks who can whip up something from nothing. Sure, it's wonderful to be able to just pick up a sack of Ojai Pixie mandarins and a box of medjool dates and call it dessert. But you've really got to admire someone who can take a couple of wilted zucchinis, a sprouting onion and some canned tomatoes and turn that into something delicious - the real-life equivalent of the proverbial stone soup.
April 8, 2013 |
Sometimes the smallest thing can arouse the most passion. Last month I wrote a Daily Dish post about my fava bean harvest. I measured how many pods I harvested and what that worked out to in double-peeled beans (8 pounds turned into 3 cups). I thought it was kind of interesting, so I posted a link on Facebook. And boy did I hear about it. Good cooks from Italy and Spain chewed me out in terms as diverse as gently corrective and “How Dare You!” It seems double-peeling favas (removing them from their pods and then taking off the skin as well)