Category Archives: Recipes (Savory)

Festive Red (Wine Risotto) For the Holidays

Barbera wine colors and flavors this hearty risotto.

Barbera wine colors and flavors this hearty risotto.


At this time of year, the color red rules.

In “Red Wine Risotto,” it really dazzles, too.

The recipe is from “Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking” (Phaidon, 2016) by Eataly, the Italian food brand with mega food emporiums around the world.

The 300 recipes are surprisingly pared down, more like what Italians make at home rather than what four-star chefs labor over at restaurants. The recipes are one-page each with most having just a few paragraphs of directions.

Find everything from “Fresh Pea Soup with Smoked Ham” and “Spaghetti Pasta with Mussels, Clams, Jumbo Shrimp, and Bell Pepper Puree” to “Egg and Pancetta Tartlets” to “Chocolate Puddings with Caramelized Oranges and Amaretti Cookies.”


At the end of the book, there’s also a great primer with photos that gives the lowdown on types of Italian salumi, pastas, rice, fish, beans, grains, breads, and cheeses.

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Get Ready for Chicken Adobo Tacos

Stuff tortillas with chicken adobo, and get ready to do a happy dance.

Stuff tortillas with chicken adobo, and get ready to do a happy dance.


Wes Avila thinks of a taco as a blank canvas.

If so, his Guerrilla Tacos is the Matisse of taco trucks.

Who knew a taco could have such vivacious personality? But in his imaginative hands, it comes awash in vivid colors, flavors and textures that dance with verve on the palate.

It’s no surprise that Guerrilla Tacos of Los Angeles was named “Best Taco Truck” by LA Weekly, and singled out by the great critic Jonathan Gold as one of the best things to eat in Los Angeles.

A former forklift driver, Avila went to culinary school in Pasadena, before going to work in such esteemed kitchens L’Auberge Carmel and Le Comptoir in Los Angeles. He even did a stint in Paris under Alain Ducasse.


In 2012, with his life savings of $300, he started Guerilla Tacos out of a humble push cart. It wasn’t long before word of mouth spread, and Gold’s review put him on everyone’s radar.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I chased down his truck one afternoon just in time to snag a sushi-grade hamachi tostada that was bright tasting and adorned with micro beet leaves. He makes everything from scratch, and sources locally and sustainably.

He makes no claims that his is authentic Mexican food. Instead, it’s much more personal.

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Gail Simmons’ Pastrami-Style Roast Turkey

Turkey perfect for a small holiday gathering.

Turkey perfect for a small holiday gathering.


Tea for two?

How about Thanksgiving turkey for four?

It can be done — beautifully, and without a lot of hassle, too.

Thanks to Gail Simmons’ recipe for “Pastrami-Style Roast Turkey.”

It’s from her new cookbook, “Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from A Life of Adventurous Eating” (Grand Central Life & Style), of which I received a review copy.

“Top Chef” fans, of course, will recognize Simmons as a regular judge on that popular Emmy-winning TV show. She’s also the special projects director at Food & Wine magazine, as well as a wife and mother.


Cooking chops runs in her family, as her mom was a freelance food writer and a part-time cooking teacher. Simmons followed in her footsteps, graduating from culinary school and apprenticing at some of New York’s top restaurants.

Which means, in short, that she knows her stuff. These are recipes that she cooks at home for family and friends, so nothing is overly fussy.

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State Bird Provisions Part I: Persimmons with Kinako Dressing and Black Sesame Seed Salt

Fresh fuyu persimmons accentuated by a roast-toasty sauce.

Fresh fuyu persimmons accentuated by a roast-toasty sauce.


It’s a given that “State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press) is one of the most anticipated cookbooks to arrive this year.

After all, Chef-Owners and husband-and-wife Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski (who wrote the cookbook with J.J. Goode) own one of the hottest restaurants in the country. When State Bird Provisions opened in San Francisco in 2012, it wasn’t long before Bon Appetit magazine named it “Restaurant of the Year.” That was followed by a James Beard Award in 2013 for “Best New Restaurant,” as well as a Michelin star.

The restaurant’s inventive dim sum-like service, where diners choose dishes from cart or trays ferried to their table, proved irresistible, especially because of their array of eclectic, globally-inspired small plates. The place got so mobbed that hackers even broke into the restaurant’s reservations system to try to snag a hard-to-get table.


Even after opening a second restaurant next door, The Progress, State Bird Provisions remains a tough ticket today, with folks still lining up on the sidewalk long before the doors open to try to get a walk-in spot.

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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.


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.

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