The Battleship Taco; Perfect Fruit; Bhutanese Cuisine; Pie-a-Day Goes Raw
What is the world's perfect fruit? For one man, it comes in form of a pluot. He tells us why this week on the show. Plus, celebrate Blessed Rainy Day with some of the spiciest food in the world. And the LA Times' Russ Parsons cools off with frozen souffles.
What is the world's perfect fruit? For Chip Brantley it's the pluot. He tells us about how farmers experiment with fruit varieties to create perfection. Lisa Napoli traveled to Bhutan and tells us about the cuisine of this tiny landlocked kingdom. Eating local isn't necessarily better, says James McWilliams. He thinks there are more effective ways to save the planet. In honor of picky eaters everywhere, Good Food Producer Bob Carlson shares with us how he gets his kids to eat their vegetables. Joann Cianciulli shares stories from Third and Fairfax. Russ Parsons cools off with frozen souffles. Plus, Gustavo Arellano takes us out for a Battleship Taco. And chef Ani Phyo takes the Pie-a-Day project into the world of raw food.
Crust: 1 cup almond meal 1/4 tsp sea salt 1/2 cup pitted Medjool or other semi-soft dates
Filling 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest 1/2 cup lemon juice 1 1/2 cups cashews 3/4 cup ﬁltered water 3 Tablespoons liquid coconut oil Seeds from 2 vanilla beans or 2 Tablespoons alcohol-free vanilla extract 1/4 cup lecithin powder
Topping: 1 1/2 cups strawberries 1/3 cup agave syrup
To make the crust, combine the almond meal and salt in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle a pie pan lightly with some of this almond meal. Add the dates to the remaining almond meal and mix into a dough with your hands. Press the dough into the bottom of the pie pan as thinly as possible. The crust should reach at least halfway up the side of pan. Make the filling, combine the zest, lemon juice, cashews, water, coconut oil, and vanilla in the high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Add the lecithin and blend to mix well and thicken. Scoop onto the crust. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to firm up the filling.
To make the topping, combine the strawberries and agave syrup in the blender and pulse only a couple times to coarsely mix into a chunky sauce.
To serve, remove the cheezecake from the fridge, pour the sauce over the filling, and enjoy immediately.
The assembled cheesecake will keep for 2 to 3 days in the fridge. The filling and crust without the sauce will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge and several weeks in the freezer. The strawberry sauce will keep in the fridge a couple days when stored separately.
JoAnn Cianciulli's latest book is L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook: Meet me at Third and Fairfax. The market started as dirt lot where farmers brought their trucks to sell produce. Now it's home to stalls and shops featuring foods from around the world.
Bob's Caramel and Chocolate Glazed Cake Doughnut
Adapted by JoAnn Cianciulli Makes about 1 dozen doughnuts, makes 1 1/2 cups each glaze
Doughnuts 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsps baking powder 1 tsp salt 2 large eggs 3/4 cup sugar 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 3/4 cup milk 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled Canola oil, for frying
Caramel Glaze 2 cups sugar 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup heavy cream Pinch of salt
Chocolate Glaze 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted 1/4 cup boiling water 1 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
To make the doughnuts: Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk, and butter until well blended. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, stirring just until incorporated into a soft, sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour to make it easier to roll and cut. (Dough can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
To make the caramel glaze: Combine the sugar and water in a heavy pot over medium heat; it should look like wet sand. Swirl the pot over the burner to dissolve the sugar completely. Cook until the sugar melts into a syrup and begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook until the color deepens to medium amber, about 5 minutes more. Be careful, the sugar is really hot at this point. Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream a little at a time. It will sputter a bit so stand back as you pour. When all the bubbling has died down, stir to smooth out to a medium-thick glaze. Cool to room temperature. Mix in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin out the caramel if it gets too thick.
For the chocolate glaze: Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Turn off the heat and mix in the confectioners’ sugar, it will be very thick and lumpy. Gradually stir in the boiling water to smooth it out. Set aside.
Heat 3-inches of oil to 360 degrees F. in a countertop electric fryer, cast-iron skillet, or deep pot.
Pat and roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about 1/2-inch thick. Using a large doughnut cutter or 4-inch ring cutter (use a smaller ring to cut out the hole,) stamp out rounds as close together as possible. Fry a couple of doughnuts at a time, keeping an eye on maintaining the oil temperature. As the doughnuts puff up and rise to the surface, flip them over with a slotted spoon, skimmer, or chopsticks; about 2 minutes on each side. Carefully remove the doughnuts from the oil and drain on several layers of paper towels or a brown paper bag. Cool slightly to handle. Set up an assemble line of the caramel, peanuts, and chocolate glaze. First, dip the tops of the doughnuts in the caramel glaze to coat lightly. Now, dip into the nuts and then back into the caramel. Finally, finish with a dip into the chocolate glaze. Place the doughnuts face up on a platter or baking pan. Let stand until the glaze is set, about 15 minutes.
Melting Pot Food Tours offer tours of the Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax. Sisters Lisa and Diane Scalia have a rich knowledge of the market's history and of the current vendors. They also lead tours of Old Pasadena.
Russ Parsons is the Food Editor for The LA Times. Frozen Souffles are a good alternative to ice cream. To make a frozen souffle, you'll need to prep a souffle dish by lining it with wax paper. Russ has a step-by-step guide.
Frozen Blackberry Souffle Serves 8-10
Note: If the sugar crystallizes while cooking in step 3, try the step again in a clean saucepan and add one-fourth teaspoon corn syrup before cooking the sugar, but proceed with the rest of the step as written.
1 1/2 lbs fresh or frozen blackberries 1 cup sugar, divided 1/3 cup blackberry or raspberry liqueur 1/4 cup water 4 egg whites 2 cups whipping cream
1. Cut a sheet of waxed paper that is long enough to fit around a 1-quart soufflé dish and fold it in lengthwise thirds to make a ribbon about 4 inches wide. Wrap this around the top of the dish to make a collar and tape the ends together. The collar should extend about 3 inches above the rim of the soufflé dish. Secure in place with a rubber band or tape and place the dish in the freezer to chill. Alternatively, prepare 8 (one-half cup) ramekins in a similar fashion, making sure the collars extend about 1 1/2 inches over the rim of the ramekins.
2. In a large saucepan, cook the blackberries and one-third cup sugar over medium heat until the berries soften and collapse, about 10 minutes. Puree the blackberries in a food mill, blender or food processor (strain the seeds if using a blender or processor); you should have about 2 cups. Stir in the blackberry liqueur and chill.
3. Heat remaining two-thirds cup sugar and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat to a temperature of 235 to 240 degrees, soft-ball stage, about 15 minutes. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring but keep handy a brush moistened with water to wash down the sides of the pan should any sugar crystals form.
4. While the sugar mixture is cooking, beat the egg whites in an electric mixer to stiff peaks using the whisk attachment. With the mixer running, pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream (avoid hitting the whisk with the sugar or it will spray over the bowl). When the hot sugar syrup first hits the whites, they will swell tremendously. Continue beating until the whites have cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.
5. In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream to soft peaks with a whisk or hand mixer.
6. Stir about one-third of the egg white mixture into the blackberry puree to lighten it. Then pour the blackberry mixture over the remaining egg whites and fold gently until well combined. These cooked egg whites are more stable than uncooked, but you still need to be careful not to deflate them.
7. Gently fold the whipping cream into the egg white mixture and spoon the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish or ramekins. It should come at least halfway up the paper collar. Smooth the top and freeze until very firm, at least 4 hours. If you freeze it overnight, transfer it to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to soften before serving. If you make it more than 1 day in advance, once the mixture is frozen solid, cover it with plastic wrap and gently press the wrap against the surface of the soufflé.
8. When ready to serve, carefully remove the collar and serve the ramekins or cut the large soufflé into thin slices.
Chef Mark Gold of Eva restaurant loves linguine and clams. His version starts with cooking the fresh, closed clams in a pan with olive oil, white wine, garlic and chopped shallots. He puts the lid on the pan and steams them under medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until just after they open. The clams are removed from their shells and chopped up then added back to the pan with butter, olive oil and parsley. The linguine is cooked in boiling water until almost done then put into the pan with the clams to finish cooking. The water from the clams along with the starchy water from the pasta creates an emulsion that glazes the pasta. Finish with a small bit of finely chopped shallots.
David Karp, fruit researcher and columnist for the LA Times, found California-grown lychees at the farmers market. Their tart juicy flesh has a taste similar to a muscat grape with a hint of rose. Lychees are native to Southern China and attempts to grow them in California have been difficult. Mud Creek Ranch has five Brewster lychee trees. They are best eaten very soon after they are picked.
Music Break: Takin' State by The City Champs
Guest InterviewHappy Blessed Rainy Day
8 MIN, 12 SEC
Lisa Napoli, formerly of Public Radio's Marketplace, has been traveling to the Kingdom of Bhutan for last two years. She has been working to start a radio station in the tiny landlocked country.
Bhutan is a Buddhist country located in the Eastern Himalayas. It borders Tibet and India. Blessed Rainy Day is a holiday that marks the end of the monsoon season in Bhutan and the beginning of the harvest.
Big hot chilli peppers, fresh or dry (quantities depend on the number of people eating and the courage for chilli) Philadelphia processed cheese, Kraft cheddar cheese, cream cheese or other shredded cheddar cheese. 3 Tablespoons butter Salt to taste, salt also helps the heat (Bhutanese are high on salt, the taste just does not come through if too little is added) Water
1. Wash and split chilli lengthwise into 2 or 4 depending on size 2. Add the butter, salt, water to cover half the ingredients only, and cook for a few mintutes and bring to boil till chilli is tender 3. Add the cheese (more cheese here to make a thick gooey sauce) and let it melt 4. Mix the chilli and cheese well so that the chilli and the cheese are stuck well in a thick cheese sauce. 5. Take off heat and serve.
You can modify this recipe by adding onions and tomatoes to reduce the heat.
Music Break: I Changed My Mind by Lyrics Born/Quannum Spectrum
Much of Chip's research took place at Zaiger Genetics, which pioneered the creation of the pluot, a plum/apricot hybrid. Zaiger is world-reknowned for it's stone fruit varieties. Read the LA Times' review of The Perfect Fruit.
Gustavo Arellano is the food writer for the OC Weekly. Taco trucks are a staple of Southern California food culture. One of the best Orange County taco trucks is Alebrije's which serves tacos acorazados, or Battleship Tacos. These tacos are made with milanesa, or breaded fried beef, placed on a large corn tortilla.
Find Alebrije's Grill on Cubbon Street between Main and Sycamore Streets in Santa Ana.