LA Burrito Project; Restaurant Architecture; Banana Leaves
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Jonathan Gold discovers Thailand's Issan-style salads, while Evan Kleiman gives producer Bob Carlson his fourth cooking lesson. Jeremy Adams turns his love of roasting coffee beans into a business, architect Stephen Francis Jones talks about sound and comfort when dining and the LA Burrito Guy delivers homemade burritos to the homeless. Plus, Nancy Zaslavsky has tips for cooking with banana leaves, chemist Ted Breaux demystifies "the green fairy" - absinthe, and Laura Avery has a fresh Market Report.
The Market Report ()
Laura Avery catches Evan Kleiman as she's about to tape her next video for Good Food. She'll make Cianfotta, a spring vegetable sauté that can be used over pasta, by itself as a side-dish or in a risotto.
Cianfotta (Roman Spring Sauté)
½ cup olive oil
1 white of leek, sliced and washed, tops reserved for soup
2 garlic cloves (or 4-6 fresh garlic cloves or 1 stalk green garlic) peeled and sliced
½ bunch pencil-thin asparagus, tough stems cut off and discarded, stalks cut into 1½ inch pieces
¼ lb sugar snap peas, stem end and string removed, each pod sliced open vertically so the peas inside are exposed
Spearmint leaves to taste (at least 15)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium to large skillet cook the leek slices in oil over medium high heat. When the leeks have started to soften add the garlic and cook until you smell the characteristic aroma. Turn the heat up to high and add the asparagus, sugar snaps and mint. Move everything around so there is maximum contact of veggies with heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook to your liking. I like this dish when the asparagus and sugar snaps no longer have that raw edge but are still al dente. Take the veggies off the heat and put them in a bowl or on a plate before they are actually completely done. They will continue to cook off the heat.
Eat hot, at room temperature, or cold as is or add to pasta or risotto. YUM!
Plus, Laura finds that green beans are now in season. Look for them at many different farmers stands. Also, low-acid Japanese tomatoes are in season this week.
Finally, most exciting is the start of cherry season. You'll find them beginning this week. Cherries are predicted to have a great year and should be around for 4 to 6 weeks.
The 2nd Annual Farmers Market Gala at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica will be held on May 18 at 6pm. Tickets are on sale at the Southland Farmers Market Association website. Twenty farmers are pairing with 20 chefs to make a 20-course tasting menu. Proceeds go to the Southland Farmers Market Association.
Join the Santa Monica Library Panel conversation on Thursday, May 15 at 7pm at the Main Library in the MLK Jr. Auditorium. Chef Mary Sue Milliken and farmer Phil McGrath will discuss food security issues and how to keep locally grown produce near the Los Angeles area. The event is free.
Khun Dom ()
LA Weekly columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold discovers Thailand's Issan-style salads at Khun Dom in Hollywood. He recommends nam kaow tod (ground pork, fried peanuts, deep-fried rice, chile and lime juice,) beef nam tok (grilled marinated beef,) papaya salad with raw crab, grilled Thai sausage salad, beef tendon soup and Thai pork jerky.
4681 Melrose Ave
Hollywood, CA 90029
Cooking Lessons with Bob ()
Evan Kleiman continues her cooking lessons with producer Bob Carlson. After discussing his success or failure in making pasta fagioli, Evan gives him his fourth lesson, in which she teaches Bob how to make a frittata.
Bob has documented his cooking adventures with the making of his asparagus with fried egg and spaghetti carbonara home movies.
Zucchini and Basil Frittata
1 lb small, firm zucchini
4 Tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (or 2 tsps dried basil leaves, crumbled )
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Trim the ends off the zucchini. Grate on the largest hole of 4-sided grater. Salt the zucchini, place in a colander, and let drain for 30 minutes. Press out the liquid.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small nonstick skillet. Sauté the garlic briefly. Add the zucchini and sauté 5 or 6 minutes over high heat until the excess moisture evaporates and the zucchini turns bright green. Let cool.
Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the Parmesan, basil, cooked zucchini, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
In a small, nonstick, oven-proof skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Swirl the oil in the skillet to coat all sides. Add the egg-zucchini mixture. Lower the heat. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the eggs have formed small curds and the frittata is firm except for the top. To cook the top, place the skillet under a hot broiler or into a preheated 400°F oven until the frittata browns lightly. Remove the skillet from the broiler or over. Let cool in the skillet 1 or 2 minutes. Place a plate over the top of the skillet and invert the frittata onto it. Serve at room temperature, cut into wedges.
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups cooked pasta with marinara or other red sauce
Lightly beat the eggs with the Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Heat the oil in a small, nonstick, oven-proof skillet. Sauté the garlic briefly. Add the pasta and heat through. It is all the better if some of the noodles get crispy; it improves the texture.
Beat the eggs briefly again and pour over the pasta in the skillet. Lower the heat. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the eggs have formed small curds and the frittata is firm except for the top. To cook the top, place the skillet under a hot broiler or into a preheated 400°F oven until the frittata browns lightly. Remove the skillet from the broiler or over. Let cool in the skillet 1 or 2 minutes. Place a plate over the top of the skillet and invert the frittata onto it. Serve at room temperature, cut into wedges.
Coffee Roasting ()
Jeremy Adams is obsessed with coffee, so much so that he began roasting green coffee beans in a popcorn popper from his basement. He now runs his own business, where he tastes and samples small batches of freshly brewed coffee. Adams, who owns and roasts organic, fair trade coffee at Cellar Door Coffee Roasters in Portland, recommends Sweet Maria's for getting everything you needed to roast coffee.
Cellar Door Coffee Roasters
5231 SE Long Street
Portland, OR 97206
Design for Dining ()
Restaurant architect Stephen Francis Jones tackles noise levels and comfort when designing for dining. Jones, whose architectural firm is SFJones in Marina del Rey, is the former in-house architect at Wolfgang Puck Food Company. He designed the new Kumo restaurant on Melrose Ave. (The word kumo means "cloud" in Japanese.)
Jones also designed Typhoon at the Santa Monica Airport.
LA Burrito Project ()
The LA Burrito Guy feeds the homeless residents of Los Angeles' Skid Row homemade burritos on a bike through his endeavor, the Burrito Project. He believes in getting involved in the community by sharing food with others, and his idea has spread throughout the United States and the world. Forbes magazine featured him and his fellow bikers in a photo. The LA Burrito Guy wishes to remain anonymous.
Banana Leaves ()
Culinary teacher Nancy Zaslavsky shares tips on how to cook with banana leaves. She specializes in Mexican cuisine and leads tours to Mexico throughout the year.
Cochinita Pibil (Pork Roasted in Banana Leaves, Yucatan Pit-Style)
Makes 8 to 10 servings
4 heaping Tablespoons packaged achiote paste
2 tsps sea or kosher salt
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup lime juice
4 lbs semi-boneless pork leg or shoulder roast, meat deeply scored (may substitute skinned chicken thighs, deeply scored)
2 fresh banana leaves, about 6 ft x 2 ft each (some yellow spots are okay, but they should not be brown). Unfold leaves, and with scissors trim out the hard center vein and any brown places. Each leaf side should be about 1 ft x 5 ft
2 white onions, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 red-ripe tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
2 large sprigs fresh epazote
1 habañero chile, toasted in an ungreased skillet until black spots appear all over
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. Mix together the achiote paste, salt, orange and lime juices. Rub the mixture into the meat.
3. Line a large pot with lid (a Dutch oven is perfect) with banana leaves and center the pork (or chicken) the center. Cover the meat with the onions, tomatoes, epazote and chile. Wrap with more banana leaves, tucking some top leaves under (there will be wastage). Cover the pot tightly.
4. Bake at 325°F for 3 hours (1½ hours for chicken thighs). Remove the pot from the oven and let it stand, covered, for 30 minutes (not for chicken thighs). Remove the meat and place on a serving platter. Discard the banana leaves. Cut the meat into chunks and spoon some sauce and vegetables over.
Traditionally served with Cebolla Curtida, Red Onion Condiment: Slice a 4-inch red onion vertically into ¼-inch slices. Break into rings, put into a strainer and rinse 3 times with cool water. Dry, and put into a bowl. Pour ½-cup white vinegar mixed with ½ teaspoon salt over the onions. Mix. Toast one habañero chile until black spots appear all over and snuggle it in the middle of the onions. The chile is not necessarily to eat, but adds traditional flavor and spiciness to the onions.
Fish Fillets Baked in Herbal Banana Leaf Perfume
1 fresh banana leaf, or a package of frozen banana leaves, thawed
2 lbs fish fillets, skinned (grouper, halibut, yellowtail, snapper or sea bass) cut into 6 equal pieces, 1/2-inch thick at the thickest point
3 Tablespoons pure, mild ancho chile powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 fresh limes (Mexican, aka Key limes), thinly sliced (discard end pieces) and seeded
2 fresh hierba santa leaves in 6 pieces, and/or 6 avocado leaves, or 1 bunch cilantro
1. Preheat an oiled baking sheet in the oven to 400°F.
2. Unfold the fresh green banana leaf and tear out the center vein. (Begin at the pointed end because the leaf can split if torn from the wide end.) You will have two sides. Discard the center vein. With scissors, cut 6, 1-foot squares, plus a few extras, as they easily tear. Put the squares of fresh leaves in a wide pot, with water to cover. Simmer 20 minutes until they are pliable. Turn off heat and cover to keep leaves moist.
3. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and sprinkle all over with the mild chile powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet to hot. Sear the fish 1 minute per side to toast the chile. Immediately remove the fish from the skillet to a plate.
4. Center a banana leaf on the work surface with the ribs facing horizontally. Place a piece of fish horizontally on the banana leaf. Place 2 lime slices on top, and cover with herbs. With 2 hands, turn up the bottom third (long side) of the leaf, flapping it over the filling. Turn down the top third over the bottom third’s flap. Carefully turn under both sides to form a package without tearing the leaves. Continue with the others.
5. Arrange the packages on the hot baking sheet so they don’t touch, and bake about 12 minutes. Remove one and check for doneness by cutting through the banana leaf into the fish. The center should barely be translucent - the fish will continue to cook in the leaves until unwrapped.
To serve: Each person unwraps his/her banana leaf to enjoy the blast of herbal perfume. Do not eat the banana leaf.
Recipes courtesy of Nancy Zaslavsky.
Chemist Ted Breaux spent the last 14 years trying to resolve the mystery behind "the green fairy" by reverse engineering the original version of absinthe. The absinthe historian owns Jade Liqueurs and makes his own absinthe called Lucid.
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