Best Wine; Tastiest Chips; SNL Seder; Sinaloan Cuisine
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Jonathan Gold eats intense Sinaloan cuisine, while Laraine Newman experiences a special Saturday Night Live Seder. Jeremy Selwyn samples the tastiest chips on the market, writer Mike Steinberger sips the best wine in the world and Clifford Wright cooks bubbly casseroles. Marissa Guggiana organizes the Sonoma County meat buying club, Rob Polevoi brews whole bean chocolate and Laura Schenone searches for her family’s lost ravioli recipes. Plus, Laura Avery finds what’s in season in the Market Report.
The Market Report ()
Laura Avery chats with Zoe Nathan, who is the pastry chef at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar on Wilshire in Santa Monica. She and proprietor Josh Loeb do a Saturday brunch from 9am to 1pm. Featured are Zoe's baked goods including her blueberry corn muffins.
Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Makes approximately 24 muffins
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/4 tsp salt
- 7 oz unsalted European-style butter
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 oz vegetable oil
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder & baking soda.
In a mixer on medium speed, combine cream butter, salt and sugar with the paddle attachment. When nice and fluffy, slowly add vegetable oil, honey, eggs and vanilla. Mix until incorporated, turn the mixer down to low and add 1/2 the flour and mix for a few seconds. Turn off the mixer and add the remaining flour and the ricotta cheese.
Mix on low until just incorporated, then turn off the mixer and fold in 2 cups of the blueberries.
Scoop evenly into muffin tins and top with the remaining blueberries and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until nicely brown on top and springy to the touch.
Fava beans are in season now. These harbingers of spring require two shellings - the first from their puffy, ugly outer pod and the second from the soft, whitish skin that encases the small bean inside. The actual bean is bright green and delicious and can be sauteed and prepared many ways.
Richard Sager, of Two Peas in a Pod farm, brings in fava beans as well as fresh dried Black Turtle beans and Mexican Red beans. These beans can be prepared in many ways and don't need to be soaked overnight.
Here's one of Evan Kleiman's suggestions for preparing fava beans.
Antipasto of Fava Beans and Pecorino Cheese
- 2 lbs fresh fava beans, unshelled weight
- 1/3 lb Pecorino Romano cheese
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Shell the fava beans. Carefully remove the waxy outer covering of each bean. Cut the Pecorino Romano cheese into 1/4 inch dice. Mix the beans, cheese, olive oil and plenty of coarsely ground pepper. Let marinate at least one hour. Serve with crusty bread as an appetizer or as a salad.
Music break: Mountain Greenery by Larry Elgart
Sinaloan Cuisine ()
Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic and LA Weekly columnist Jonathan Gold eats chilorio (bright orange, cumin and chile stewed pork) and Sinaloan machaca (dried beef that's grilled, then pounded in a mortar and crisply fried) at El Sinaloense in Huntington Park. Another restaurant he recommends is Cenaduria Gumacus Sinaloa Grill in South Gate, where he samples smoky marlin quesadillas, machaca and cheese-stuffed enchiladas a la Sinaloense. Sinaloa is state in Mexico and is located near the Pacific Coast.
7601 State St
Huntington Park, CA 90255
Cenaduria Gumacus Sinaloa Grill
8646 State St
South Gate, CA 90280
Music break: Music to Watch Girls By by The Brass Ring
SNL Seder and My Muslim Passover ()
Actress and voice-over artist Laraine Newman talks about experiencing an impromptu Seder in the Saturday Night Live studios using the available food at hand. She is a founding member of Saturday Night Live and is now a contributing writer for online magazine, One for the Table, in which her recent SNL Seder article appears.
My Muslim Passover
by Evan Kleiman
My boyfriend was a Persian Muslim. We spent a decade together starting in the mid-eighties. Neither of us came from a religiously bservant household so our typical couple problems had less to do with religion and more to do with conflicts you would expect when an open-minded, American, risk-taking former hippie (me) hung with a hard-headed (yet remarkably open-minded) Persian muslim educated in Italy (him). The sharing of food was a large part of our learning about each other.
I helped him negotiate his first experience of the American menu with its infinite choices. You know the kind – Soup or Salad? What kind of dressing? Which of four entrée choices? Which dessert? The American way of eating was complicated to him. Sometimes the consternation I saw on his face confronting what should be such a simple task just slayed me.
We shared a mutual language in Italian cuisine. And, of course, I cooked. But until I met this man I had never had Persian food. This was at the very beginning of what was to be the huge emigration of hundreds of thousands of Persians to southern California. A Persian restaurant on every corner of Westwood hadn't happened yet. So he started my introduction to his culture with trips to Shamshiri in Hollywood. We were seated and the first thing to be put on our table was a whole peeled onion. I looked at him and started laughing. This was going to be my kind of food.
Hundreds of plates heaped with Basmati rice and kebabs later I was ready for deeper cultural contact. I was to meet his family and join them for a meal. I am an only child of a single parent. Visits to my Mom's house were quiet and contained. His family had basically escaped through the desert carrying what they could with them. Living in a small apartment were his mother and father, his sister, her husband and their two small children.
It was crowded and loud. The smell of rice and butter permeated the air. They ate on the floor. It turned out that his mother cooked like an angel. Even now I've never had any Persian food like hers. It was essential and deeply flavorful and so satisfying that I quickly developed cravings for strange homey foods like Halim which is like a cinnamon spiced sweet wheat porridge with turkey. It was an addiction.
So years went by, the families came to an uneasy cultural truce, which was occasionally brokered with food. Eventually my mother said the sentence I dreaded. "We should have them over for Passover. "
"Gefulte Fish?" I asked.
"Absolutely," she answered.
"But Mom I can make Algerian fish croquettes or Venetian Pesce in Carpione which they'll like and understand so much better," I think I whined.
She replied, "No! If we have them over we have to share our traditional meal."
I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. So we invited people and started creating menus. She was the field marshal and I, her lowly gofer. Any type of menu détente I tried to slip past her was quickly detected and rejected. She became unbending and arcane. She was out to prove a point. (Which I've yet to figure out, but that's another conversation). So the table was set for 30.
Ten Americans and twenty Persians. She felt outnumbered.
Everyone came in holiday finery bearing gifts. No one was allowed to help which made the invited women feel completely out of place. They were accustomed to always lending a hand but instead had been exiled from the room they knew the best. We sat and began. Thirty plates of beautifully decorated gefulte fish went out to the table. Twenty plates of gefulte fish came back. The silence was deafening.
My mother didn't know that the day before I made Pesce in Carpione which I kept hidden in the kitchen. I quickly plated it and sent it out. It was an international hit. The evening was saved.
Pesce in Carpione is a sauteed white fish which is drenched with copious slow cooked onions and a pungent vinaigrette. It marinates overnight and is served at room temperature. It has a yielding texture and lively sweet and sour flavor. I've served it at the Angeli Passover dinners for 23 years. Here is the recipe.
Pesce in Carpione (Marinated White Fish with Caramelized Onions and Pine Nuts)
- 2 lbs whitefish fillet, skin on
- Matzo meal for dredging
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil for pan frying
- 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
- Small handful of coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 head radicchio or butter lettuce
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
Remove the pin bones from the fish using tweezers, pliers, or your fingers or ask your fishmonger to do it. Cut the fish fillet crosswise into pieces about 1/1/2 inches wide. Place the matzo meal in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. Lightly dust the fish with the seasoned meal, add to the pan, and fry until golden. Carefully remove the fish from the skillet and arrange it in a non reactive baking pan of stainless, glass, or enamel
In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil and saute the onions over low heat until very tender and nearly caramelized. Season the onions with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the onions and chopped parsley over the fish.
To make the marinade, in a small bowl whisk together the remaining 1 cup of olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the fish and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, and up to three days.
Separate the radicchio or butter lettuce head into individual leaves, and arrange on serving plates. Lift the fish, topped with the onion mixture, out of the marinade and arrange on the lettuce leaves.
Garnish with pine nuts.
Essay appears courtesy of One for the Table.
Music break: Night in the Forest by Ananda Shankar
Tastiest Chips ()
Potato chip aficionado Jeremy Selwyn samples the tastiest chips on the market. His favorites are Walkers Crisps, flavors include beef and onion, from England and Tim's Cascade Style chips, which you can find in the United States. He also mentions ketchup chips which are available in Canada and Tim's Limon con Salsa Potato Chips, which comes with a packet of salsa. Pringles has a high-end brand called Selections that are in a bag and cut from real potatoes. Jeremy loves Pringles Select Szechuan Barbecue Rice Crisps (which are not made from potatoes.) He is the Chief Snack Officer and contributing writer at Taquitos, a snack food website.
Music break: No Name Bar by Isaac Hayes
Best Wine in the World ()
Slate wine columnist Mike Steinberger decants the best wine in the world, the 1947 Chateau Chevel Blanc which sells for $12,000 a bottle. You can read more about this wine in Steinberger's recent Slate article.
Music break: Oceans of Venus by Dengue Fever
Author Clifford Wright cooks delicious casseroles from around the world in his latest work, Bake Until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook. It includes new and improved classic recipes as well as some upscale and unusual ones.
Blackberry Breakfast Casserole
Makes 8 servings
For the blackberry syrup
- 1 lb fresh or frozen blackberries
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup cream of coconut
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the bread
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 loaf French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
- 1/2 lb cream cheese, softened
- 8 ozs sour cream
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
For the eggs
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
For the garnish
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Lightly butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking casserole.
2. Prepare the blackberry syrup. Place the blackberries, sugar, water, cream of coconut, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring the liquids to a boil and continue boiling, stirring often, until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
3. Prepare the bread. In a small but wide saucepan or a small skillet, melt the butter with 1 cup of brown sugar and the molasses over low heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is dissolved and the mixture is syrupy, about 5 minutes. Dunk the bread slices into this syrup to coat both sides and then arrange half of the coated bread slices in the baking casserole. Spread half the cream cheese over the bread, then spread half the sour cream over the cream cheese. Arrange all of the sliced apples over the sour cream. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar, half of the cinnamon, and 1/3 of the almonds. Cover with the remaining coated bread slices. Spread the remaining cream cheese and sour cream over the bread. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the remaining cinnamon, and 1/3 of the almonds.
4. Prepare the eggs. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla to blend. You should have about 3 1/2 cups of this egg mixture. If you don’t, add enough water so the egg mixture equals this amount. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Dot the top with butter. Pour 1 cup of blackberry syrup over. Sprinkle with the remaining almonds.
5. Bake until the liquids bubble vigorously, about 35 minutes. Pour the remaining blackberry syrup over the casserole, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, and serve hot.
Makes 4 servings
- 3/4 lb Swiss chard with stems, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 ozs prosciutto fat or pork fat, chopped
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
- 1 tsp unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Butter a medium baking casserole, preferably a 9-inch round earthenware one.
2. In a food processor, place the Swiss chard, onion, pork fat, and parsley and blend until very finely chopped and almost paste-like. Do this in batches if your food processor is not big enough to blend the mixture all at once. Blend in the salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, flour, and eggs until smooth. Add the vegetable mixture and stir until blended. Transfer to the prepared baking casserole.
4. Bake until the pounti has set and skewer pushed to the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Music break: Once Around the Block by Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Meat CSA ()
Marissa Guggiana organized a group of cattle ranchers in Sonoma and Marin counties to provide grass-fed, free-range meats in partnership with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County. She's started a meat community supported agriculture, CSA, and formed the meat buying club. Guggiana runs Sonoma Direct, purveyor of meats.
Music break: One Mint Julep by King Curtis and Earl Palmer
Brewed Chocolate ()
Cabaret Chocolates founder Rob Polevoi brews whole bean chocolate. It's made from whole cacao beans and evaporated cane juice. Polevoi was inspired by the chocolate drinks of the Aztecs, who drank their chocolate for its effects and not just the flavor.
Music break: One Step Ahead by Big John Patton
The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken ()
Laura Schenone travels to Italy to find her great grandmother's ravioli recipe in her book, The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family.
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