Food in Provence, Party Food-Assembly Required, the Evil Carbohydrate
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Jonathan Gold is a food writer at the LA Weekly and the author of Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles. He spoke about Mandaloun (818-507-1900) at 141 S Maryland Street in Glendale. He recommends:
roasted eggplant salad
sauteed dandelion greens with onions
Michael Batterberry is the author of On the Town in New York: The Landmark History of Eating, Drinking, and Entertainments from the American Revolution to the Food Revolution, published by Routledge.
Jackie Keller runs Nutrifit, a healthy food delivery service
Laurelle Johnson is a mother of two. She's perfecting a way of preparing good food quickly with her "Rip N' Pour" concept. By being clever with frozen appetizers to a hand-tossed pasta right before the meal, Laurelle has crafted something for a summer party from the Rip n' Pour, Some Assembly Required concept.
Laurelle suggests avoiding messy pan cooking, as well as microwaved dishes, which never taste right. Having discovered the "mother lode" of ready-made boxed, frozen appetizers at Trader Joe's, she combines those with cooking temperatures within 50 degrees of each other. She begins with the dish requiring the lowest temperature, and enlists her kids to keep track of the timer, working her way up to the temperature gauge.
Pita and Hummus:
Cut the bread into quarters and arrange around a bowl of hummus. Let the kids do the rest, circulating and serving guests.
Large Black Olives:
Pitted and from a can, they're very tasty!
Sausages: main course
Martha Stewart taught us how to pre-saut-e, then bake sausages at 350o-375o for 20 minutes. Because it's the same temp as appetizers, there's no need to fiddle with the oven.
Whole Foods has a terrific variety: ham and chicken; chicken apple; chicken, feta and spinach; vegetarian special; etc. Slice a selection of flavors on a diagonal, and let the kids put toothpicks in each slice, using different colors to define each type. Serve with Dijon, hot mustard and/or deli mustard.
Vermicelli with Zucchini:
This dish satisfies Laurelle's need to feel she's participated in making something special for her friends. Easy to prepare, some ingredients can be cooked a day in advance. Vegans love it because it contains no meat, and it's a great accompaniment to the sausages. It's fresh, pretty and very tasty, the perfect self-serve dish.
Serving rip n' pour bagged lettuce with some side additions and homemade vinaigrette. Try Feta and/or Parmesan, sliced yellow and red bell peppers and white mushrooms.
Trader Joe's frozen apple pie is so easy it's a sin--and it's sinfully delicious! Heat it up slowly (45 minutes), cool a bit, then serve it with vanilla ice cream.
Apples, tangerines, pears are the staples of an after-meal desert on a French table. Laurelle recalls how friends and family would drone on while peeling the fruit, then jab the air between bites with his knife to make his political point.
So rip n' pour away. (This dinner will serve anywhere from 4 to 18 people.) Enjoy your guests, knowing that your efforts will be well received. This dinner can accommodate anywhere from 4 to 18 people.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Small zucchini (courgettes)
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Sausages (4- 6 lbs of your choice; select at least 4-5 different types for variety)
Pita and hummus
Frozen wrapped shrimp
Breaded calamari strips
Border Girl chips
Dijon and hot mustard
Baby spinach leaves
Salad du Midi
Trader Joes's frozen apple pie
Vanilla ice cream
La Brea Bakery baguette
Large black olives
Patricia Wells is a food writer and restaurant columnist who lives in France. Her most recent book is The Provence Cookbook, published by Harper Collins. You can find out about her cooking tours in France at www.PatriciaWells.com.
Linguine with Saffron from Provence
6 servings as a main course; 12 servings as a side dish
Equipment: Pasta pot fitted with a colander
- Generous pinch of best-quality saffron threads (about 1 heaping tsp)
- 1 1/3 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons course sea salt
- 1 pound imported Italian linguine
- 1 cup (4 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Fine sea salt to taste
- At least 8 hours (and up to 48 hours) before preparing the pasta, combine the saffron and the milk in a covered container. Shake to blend. Refrigerate until the pasta is prepared.
- In the pasta pot, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the salt and the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pasta pot from the excess heat. Remove the colander and drain over a sink, shaking to remove excess water.
- In a large saucepan, warm the saffron milk over low heat. Add the drained pasta and stir to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add half of the cheese and toss once more. Add salt to taste. Taste for seasoning. Cover and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to individual warmed shallow soup bowls. Serve immediately, passing the remaining cheese at the table.
Penne with Basil, Mozzerella, and Pine Nut Oil
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons pine nut oil, plus 1 tsp for garnish
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into a thin ribbons
- 1/2 cup (2 ozs) freshly grated Parmesigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 5 ozs buffalo milk mozzarella, cubed
- 3 Tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 8 ozs imported Italian penne
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Fine sea salt
- At least 2 hours (and up to 6 hours) before serving the pasta, prepare the sauce: In a bowl large enough to hold the pasta later on, combine the olive oil, pine nut oil, basil, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Toss to coat all the ingredients evenly with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to marinate at room temperature, tossing from time to time.
- At serving time, in the pasta pot, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the coarse sea salt and the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Remove the pasta from the heat. Remove the colander and drain over a sink, shaking to remove excess water. Immediately transfer the drained pasta to the sauce in the bowl. Toss to evenly coat the pasta. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper, and drizzle with the one teaspoon pine nut oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to thoroughly absorb the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to individual warmed shallow serve bowls. Serve immediately.
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