Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Creamy Grits with Blistered Tomatoes, Pickled Serrano Chiles, and Sunflower-Miso Tahini

Tuck into this novel version of grits.

Tuck into this novel version of grits.

 

Let it soak, let it soak, let it soak.

Yes, that’s me taking liberties with the refrain from a certain Christmas song that we’ll all be hearing on repeat soon enough.

But it’s also the mantra that Chef Josef Centeno adheres to when it comes to making grits.

San Antonio-raised Centeno is chef-owner of six Los Angeles-area establishments: Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, P.Y.T, and Penny-Ante Provisions catering. Before opening those, he worked at Daniel in New York, and was chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos.

I zeroed in on his “Creamy Grits with Blistered Tomatoes, Pickled Serrano Chiles, and Sunflower-Miso Tahini” recipe when I received a review copy of his new cookbook.

“Baco: Vivid Recipes From the Heart of Los Angeles” (Chronicle Books) is by Centeno and Betty Hallock, former deputy food editor of the Los Angeles Times.

BacoBook

The cookbook showcases his imaginative dishes that reflect Los Angeles’ dynamic, exciting food scene today. His dishes are inventive — not in the molecular, shake-your-head kind of way — but in the clash of ingredients and flavors that somehow make potent magic together.

Read more

Kicking Back on the Central Coast of Oregon

A view of the Oregon coast.

A view of the Oregon coast.

 

Gleneden Beach, OR. — If all you know about this state is its artsy, quirky city of Portland, take a drive to the central coast to see a whole ‘nother side.

That’s just what I did when I was invited with a few other food writers a few weeks ago to stay at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, following its multi-million-dollar renovation and opening of its new restaurant, Samphire.

The hotel is about two hours from Portland. Its 250 acres of forested land hug the rugged coastline that gets its share of sunshine and misty days at this time of year.

The view outside my room at Salishan.

The view outside my room at Salishan.

The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.

The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.

You'll be relaxing in no time at the spa.

You’ll be relaxing in no time at the spa.

The 205-room property was developed in 1965. The cozy, rustic-chic hotel is decorated with $500,000 worth of art, created by Native American, and other Oregon and Washington artists.

Read more

The Joys of Cherry Snow Cones in Summer

When the weather gets hot, reach for a cherry snow cone with a dash of kirsch.

When the weather gets hot, reach for a cherry snow cone with a dash of kirsch.

 

On Christmas long ago when I was a kid, my aunt gave me a snow cone maker.

It was one of those plastic, hand-cranked ones in the likeness of Frosty the Snowman. You’d plop ice cubes into the top of his “head,” turn the lever like mad, until fluffy shaved ice started filling his “stomach.” I’d scoop it out and fill a paper cone or cup, then drizzle on the syrup that came in the kit, which no doubt back then was made with all manner of artificial flavors and colorings.

No matter, it did the trick — offering up an icy, slushy, syrupy sweet treat that I couldn’t get enough of.

Decades later as an adult, I was gifted another snow cone maker much like my childhood one.This one, however, was in the likeness of Snoopy, and a cross between a real and a gag Christmas gift from a best friend who knew only too well my adoration of Peanuts characters. I’m not above saying I used it, too.

After all, no matter what age you are, there’s just something magical about snow cones, how mundane ice can be transformed into something so incredibly delightful.

Food52IceCream

That’s why when I saw this recipe for “Cherry Snow Cone” in the new “Food52 Ice Cream & Friends” (Ten Speed Press) by the editors of Food52, of which I received a review copy, I knew I had to make it.

Read more

Paula Wolfert’s “Unforgettable” Duck You Can Eat With A Spoon

With crisp skin and flesh so tender you can cut it with a spoon, this duck by Paula Wolfert is a masterpiece.

With crisp skin and flesh so tender you can cut it with a spoon, this duck by Paula Wolfert is a masterpiece.

 

She is not a star of the Food Network. She doesn’t own a four-star restaurant that has a three-month wait for reservations. And she doesn’t write pithy food articles laced with expletives and bro-talk that everyone feels the need to read, dissect, and re-post again and again.

But Paula Wolfert should be as revered and renowned as any of those folks. More so, even.

She is one of the most influential cooks of our time — a woman who has dived deep into authentic Mediterranean cuisine long before most of us ever knew what a cassoulet or tagine was.

Over the years, she published eight seminal cookbooks. But when her friend, Emily Kaiser Thelin, a former editor of Food & Wine magazine, pitched the idea of writing a biography of Wolfert, no publisher would give it the green light.

So in a modern-day version of a barn-raising, Thelin rallied her friends and colleagues to the mission, recruiting photographer Eric Wolfinger, designer Toni Tajima, and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen to do editing duties. They mounted a Kickstarter campaign, which more than 1,100 folks supported, including yours truly.

UnforgettableCookbook

The result is “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life” (M&P) by Thelin.

The title has dual meanings — and hints at why Thelin and her team were so driven to put Wolfert’s life and recipes down in perpetuity. Wolfert was diagnosed with dementia in 2013. The woman who once prided herself on studying up on almost a dozen languages in order to converse with cooks around the world, now finds most of those once familiar foreign phrases elusive. Even reading in English now and retaining its contents is difficult for her.

Read more

What The Halibut — And A Food Gal Giveaway

Halibut cooked in olive oil -- a lot of it.

Halibut cooked in olive oil — a lot of it.

 

Yes, this recipe uses a lot of olive oil.

Yes, you’ll wonder what to do with all that oil afterward.

Yes, you can strain it, store it in the fridge and re-use it.

But yes, it may taste fishy.

That’s because you’ve poached halibut in it, creating a warm, bountiful bath of olive oil to cook it gently and slowly until the flesh is moist and incredibly silky. Best yet, it’s almost impossible to overcook the fish with this oven method.

If you’ve never tried olive oil-poaching here’s your chance with this dish of “Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Chermoula.”

Bathed in olive oil.

Bathed in olive oil.

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Home and Away: Simple, Delicious Recipes Inspired by the World’s Cafes, Bistros and Diners” (Arsenal Pulp Press) by Darcy and Randy Shore, of which I received a review copy.

Read more

« Older Entries