Art of Mexican Cooking; Champagne Prices Climb; Sourtoe Cocktail
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Russ Parsons cooks up succulent spot prawns, while Diana Kennedy makes authentic Mexican cooking. Dick van Nostrand mixes a sourtoe cocktail, George Cossette decants alternative wines to Champagne and Sara Moulton has tasty ideas for weeknight meals. Jack Bishop shares baking secrets, Zov Karamardian nourishes us with comfort food and Laura Avery finds what’s in season in a fresh Market Report.
The Market Report ()
Laura Avery chats with Amelia Saltsman, author of The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, who gives us an idea for using cherries in a savory way.
Laura also talked with farmer Bob Poole about his young berries and boysenberries. They are in right now and great for cooking with.
Cherry Almond Salad
Makes 4 servings
Use several kinds of cherries for flavor, color and texture contrast; a slightly bitter frisee or escarole and wedge of cheese nicely sets off summer’s first stone fruit.
- 1/2 head escarole or 2 heads frisee
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups (about 1/2 pound) mixed cherries, such as Bing, Rainier, Brooks, Garnets, and sour Montmorency cherries if you can find them, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1 Eureka lemon
- 2 Tablespoons grapeseed or almond oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ozs blue cheese or aged goat cheese, such as Redwood Hill Crottin or Boucheret
If using escarole, cut the leaves crosswise into thin ribbons. You’ll have 3 to 4 cups. If using frisee, use the tender, light-colored hearts and tear them into bite-size pieces. Toss together the cherries, almonds, and escarole or frisee in a salad bowl. Use a zester to peel the yellow skin of the lemon directly onto the salad. Add the oil, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad among 4 plates. Cut cheese into 4 wedges or slices and place a slice on each salad.
Adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007.)
Music break: Ritorisione by Girolamo Ugolini
Spot Prawns ()
LA Times food writer Russ Parsons cooks up delicious ways to prepare succulent spot prawns. His most recent book is How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table.
Spot Prawns Roasted in Spiced Salt
Servings 4 to 6
Note: You can find live spot prawns at Pearson's Port in Newport Harbor, Los Angeles Fish Company, Fish King in Glendale, Santa Monica Seafood, selected 99 Ranch markets and other Asian markets. You can use coarse or fine salt to roast the prawns; fine salt will form a firmer, more compact crust that will be harder to crack after roasting.
- 2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 6 whole allspice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp ground smoked paprika
- 2 lbs spot prawns
- 10 cups salt
1. Heat the oven to 400° and place a rack on the top third and bottom third of the oven.
2. In a spice grinder, grind the peppercorns, allspice, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and paprika into a fine powder.
3. Place the spot prawns in a large bowl, pour the spice mixture over and toss to combine. Place the salt in a separate large bowl and stir in 1 2/3 cups water so the texture is that of gritty snow.
4. Line two jellyroll pans with foil and spread some of the salt in a layer about 1/4" deep. Divide the prawns evenly between the pans, arranging them in a single layer. Mound the rest of the salt on top, covering them completely in a smooth, even layer.
5. Roast for 18 minutes until the prawns are fragrant and the meat is firm. Remove the pans from the oven and cool briefly.
6. With a sturdy metal spoon or chef's knife, chip a crack around the base of the salt crust and carefully lift off the top. Use a dry pastry brush to wipe away any salt on the surface of the prawns. Serve immediately with finger bowls for rinsing.
Music break: Rockfort Rock by Sound Dimension
The Art of Mexican Cooking ()
Before Mexican food became ubiquitous in Los Angeles and known throughout the United States, British writer Diana Kennedy set about cataloging the special flavors of Mexico's regions during the late 1950's and early 60's in her seminal work, The Art of Mexican Cooking.
Sopa de Albóndigas
1 Tablespoon unconverted long-grain rice
6 ozs (180 g) finely ground pork with a little fat
6 ozs (180 g) finely ground beef with a little fat
1/8 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
3 leaves fresh mint
1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped white onion
4 black peppercorns, crushed
Sea salt to taste
1/4 cup (65 ml) finely crumbled chicharrón (optional)
1/2 lb (225 g) tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 heaping tablespoon roughly chopped white onion
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
About 7 cups (1.75 l) homemade chicken, beef or vegetable broth, or water
Sea salt to taste
4 ozs (115 g) potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch (6.25 mm) cubes
6 ozs (180 g; about 3 medium) carrots, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch (6.25 mm) cubes
6 ozs (180 g) zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch (6.25 mm) cubes
4 yellow wax (Fresno) chiles or 2 chipotles en adobo
2 large sprigs mint
3 large sprigs cilantro
Cover the rice with boiling water and leave to leave to soak for 20 minutes. Mix the meats together well in a large bowl. Put the remaining meatball ingredients, except the chicharrón, in the blender jar and blend until smooth. Add this to the meats with the crumbled chicharrón and work, preferably with your hands, until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside to season while you prepare the broth.
Put the tomatoes, onion and garlic into the blender jar and blend smooth. Heat the lard or oil in the soup pan, add the blended ingredients and cook over medium heat until reduced and seasoned - about 5 minutes. Add the broth or water and salt to taste; bring up to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook for 8 minutes more. Add the zucchini and continue cooking over low heat. Divide the meat mixture into 24 or 36 small balls and add to the broth with the chiles and herbs. Continue cooking over low heat until the meatballs are cooked through and the vegetables are very tender. A thin sheen of fat will cover the surface - about 45 minutes.
Music break: A Room with a VU Meter by Chris Joss
Sourtoe Cocktail ()
Bar owner Dick van Nostrand serves up a sourtoe cocktail using a real, preserved human toe at Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon (Canada). This drink has even got a club of intrepid followers called the Sourtoe Cocktail Club, whose rule is that drinker's lips must touch the toe.
Music break: Run with the Hunted by Tommy Guerrero
Champagne Alternatives ()
Wine expert George Cossette decants delicious alternatives to expensive Champagne. He owns Silverlake Wine, which offers Sunday and Thursday night flight tastings.
- Domaine J Laurens Blanquette de Limoux Non Vintage - $12.75
- Juve & Camps Cava 2003 - $16.50
- Luis Pato "Maria Gomes" Bruto Vinho Espumante Portugal Non Vintage - $16.50
- Anselmann Riesling Brut Deutscher Sekt 2003 - $21.50
2395 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Music break: What Have I Been Doing Since I Wa by Tommy Guerrero
Weeknight Meals ()
Host Sara Moulton shares her secrets for tackling weeknight meals. She's the executive chef at Gourmet, author of Sara's Secret for Weeknight Meals and hosts Sara's Secrets on the Food Network. Her new cooking series, Sara's Weeknight Meals, airs on KCET and KOCE.
Eggs Baked in Ham with Sofrito
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
1/2 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
1 small onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large plum tomato coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup packed rinsed and dried fresh cilantro leaves
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (about 4 tsps)
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
8 thin slices Black Forest or Virginia ham (without holes; 6 to 8 ozs)
8 large eggs
2 ozs plain or jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
8 large tortilla chips (3-inch triangles), coarsely crushed (about 1/2 cup)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine the bell pepper, onion, tomato, cilantro, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. Fit a slice of ham into each of 8 lightly-oiled muffin cups, custard cups, or mini soufflé dishes (they must hold a scant 1/2-cup) with the ends of the ham extending above the edges of cups. Divide the sofrito mixture among the cups, shaping a hollow in the center. Crack 1 egg into each, and divide the cheese over the tops. If using custard cups or soufflé dishes, place on a rimmed baking sheet for easy handling.
Bake in the center of the oven until the whites are cooked but yolks are still runny, about 15 minutes. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and carefully remove (with the ham) from the muffin cups, using 2 spoons or spatulas. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and serve.
Music break: Who's Gonna Save My Soul by Gnarls Barkley
America's Test Kitchen contributor Jack Bishop shares baking secrets in The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. He recommends adding vodka for making a great pie crust that won't roll out. Jack is Editorial Director of Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country magazines. He's also a cast member of public television's The America's Test Kitchen. The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book will be published in late August or September 2008.
Easy Pound Cake
Makes one 8-inch loaf
This recipe will also make four miniature pound cakes; use four 2-cup mini loaf pans and reduce the baking time to 40 minutes.
1½ cups (6 ozs) cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¼ cups (8 3/4 ozs) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1½ tsp vanilla extract
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and hot
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
2. Process the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a food processor (or blender) until combined, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, pour the hot melted butter through the feed tube in a steady stream until combined, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
3. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and whisk to combine until just a few streaks of flour remain. Repeat twice more with the remaining flour mixture, then continue to whisk the batter gently until most lumps are gone (do not overmix).
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Wipe any drops of the batter off the sides of the pan and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
5. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then flip it out onto a wire rack. Turn the cake right side up and let it cool completely, about 2 hours, before serving.
Music break: Would Be Killer by Gnarls Barkley
Comfort Food ()
Chef-owner Zov Karamardian built her Orange County restaurants around the concept of comfort food. She's the owner of Zov's Bistro in Tustin and Zov's Cafe & Bakery in Newport and Irvine, and the author of Zov: Recipes and Memories from the Heart.
Zov’s Meat Loaf
Many times meat loaf is made in a loaf pan, but I find this makes the meat loaf soggy and only allows a delicious golden brown crust to form on top of the meat loaf. So, instead, I bake my meat loaf on a rack set on top of a baking sheet so that it browns nicely all over. Lining the baking sheet with foil makes cleanup easier.
- Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
- 1 cup (about 1½ ozs) cubed day-old white bread
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
- 1½ lbss ground beef (22% fat)
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 2 whole large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tsps chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1½ tsps freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ tsps salt
- 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- Mushroom Sauce, see recipe below
Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven then preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a heavy large baking sheet with foil. Place a cooling rack atop the baking sheet. Spray the cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray.
Toss the bread cubes with the half and half in a large bowl to coat. Set aside until the bread is very soft and all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the ground beef, parsley, shallots, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, eggs, oregano, thyme, pepper, salt, rosemary and seasoned salt. Using your hands, mix just until all of the ingredients are thoroughly blended but do not over mix since doing so causes the meat loaf to be tough.
Form the meat mixture into a 9x4-inch oval loaf. Set the meat loaf atop the prepared rack on the baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour or until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 160°F when inserted into the center of the meat loaf. Let the meat loaf rest for 15 minutes (this will help keep the meat loaf moist). Using a large sharp knife cut the meat loaf crosswise into thick slices. Transfer the slices of meat loaf to plates. Spoon the Mushroom Sauce over the meat loaf and serve.
Cook’s Note: I love to serve my meat loaf with mashed potatoes and garnish it with crunchy onion rings. To make onion rings, simply peel and thinly slice a large yellow onion into very, very thin rings. Then, working in batches, dip the onion rings into 1 cup of buttermilk and then into rice flour to coat. Deep fry the coated onion rings in a large frying pan filled halfway with hot vegetable oil until crisp. Transfer the onion rings to paper towels to drain any excess oil. DELICIOUS!! You must use rice flour since it is what gives the onion rings their crispy texture.
Makes 3 cups
I like to use a combination of mushrooms for this luscious gravy-like sauce. Shiitake, enoki and cremini work well; however, I do not use white mushrooms since they tend to exude too much liquid when sautéed, which prevents the mushrooms from browning as well.
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ozs fresh assorted mushrooms (such as cremini, enoki and stemmed shiitake), sliced
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 tsps finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
- 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups hot beef broth
- ¼ tspfreshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp seasoned salt
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter with the oil in a heavy large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are nicely browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic and oregano and sauté until the shallots are tender and the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and mix well for 1 minute. Slowly add the hot broth, whisking until it is well incorporated. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmer for 2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Add the black pepper, salt and seasoned salt. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and stir until well incorporated. The sauce should have the consistency of a creamy soup.
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