Cheap Wine for Celebrations; Holiday Cookies; B-che de No-l; Food From Around the World;

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Laura Avery speaks with Laury Spensley of Cal Pecans about her great gift bags for the holidays. In addition to her regular nuts which are great for snacking and baking, she has cute gift bags for $5.00 that include pecans in the shell and a nutcracker for cracking.

Laura also speaks with Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms about his Technicolor cauliflower. He offers purple Graffiti cauliflower which is on the slightly spicy side, an orange Cheddar cauliflower which is sweet, and two white varieties: Romanescu which is an heirloom with a nutty flavor, and Jesi, which has a slight lime flavor. Romanescu and Jesi both make wonderful soups. Alex also has his "practically coreless", sweet Nantes carrots at the market this week.

Holiday Gift Ideas from Good Food

Local Options in Southern California:

Flor Morena 2742 Rowena Avenue (at Rokeby Street), Silver Lake, CA 323.655.3567
Delicious tamales made here! Buy them for holiday gifts and parties. This new spot in Silver Lake also serves both Southern cooking and Mexican cooking -- the two cultural halves of owner Shawnette Wright.

Sweetcake 5825 W Sunset Boulevard, Suite 112 Hollywood, California 90028 323.960.0738
Local baker Darby Aldaco makes the most beautiful small bite desserts. Each one is like a small gift that explodes in your mouth with flavor. Holiday selections include miniature spicy pumpkin cheesecakes with candied cranberries, gingerbread cupcakes filled with tangerine pastry creme, red velvet cakes and cupcakes, filled with white chocolate cream cheese butter cream. Order a Holiday Sampler so you don't have to decide.

Fraiche 8631 W. Third Street Los Angeles, CA 90048 888.654.7002/323.655.2880
Located in Los Angeles, on 3rd street, this lovely shop offers all sorts of high-end gourmet gift options. -Chocolate truffles from Switzerland, -Gourmet baskets filled with imported Pate, Nova Lox, andother incredible treats, and a box of truly unique tiny pastries presented on edible plates. -All items are packaged in classic wooden boxes. -Hand delivery is available in the Los Angeles area. -Fraiche also ships nationwide.

Joan's on Third 8350 W. Third Street Los Angeles, CA 90048 323.655.2285
The holiday decorations are up and Joan's on Third is a festive destination in its own right for a mid-shopping lunch break. -Their gourmet gifts are also worth the trip. -People rave about the caramel covered marshmallows. You can buy a lovely gift box of 12, tied up with a bow for a sweet hostess gift. -Joan's also offers a wide variety of beautiful gift baskets. -One that caught my eye was the 'Winter White' basket which includes cocoa, handmade vanilla marshmallows, peppermint chews. -Sounds like heaven to me.

Deluscious Cookies 829 N. Highland Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90038 323.460.2370
What says Happy Holidays better than cookies? -Deluscious Cookies offers a vast array of cookie choices. -They don't skimp on the cookieor the flavor. -And they deliver them with a glass bottle of fresh milk. -Perhaps this is a fun change of pace from the classic bottle ofwine you send to your accountant each year. Mail Order Options Rechutti Chocolates Fancy, beautiful, hand-crafted chocolates. -Look for the chocolate-dipped pear slices.

Boule 420 No. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048 310.289.9977
Wonder pastry gal Michelle Myers makes some of the best French Pastry, Viennese Style Pastries, Chocolates and Confections on the planet. Buy some goodies to take to a friend's house or order from their on-line store to send across the country.

Valerie Confections Valerie 888.706.1408
Made by Valerie Gordon, these handmade toffees come encased in bittersweet, dark or milk chocolate. Flavors include Almond, Orange, Ginger, Mint, Classic or my favorite Fleur de Sel. -The best toffees I've ever had. -The Fleur de Sel is the perfect combination of the sweets holy trinity of Butter, Sugar and Salt. Her confections are found in many local specialty shops. -Go to the website and click on "purchase" to find where.

Local shops where goodies can be found:

These three cheese purveyors have been on the show. They have a varied selection of gourmet items and expert staff.

Cheese Store of Silverlake
3926 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 644-7511

Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
419 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 278-2855

Artisan Cheese Gallery
12023 Ventura Blvd
Studio City

Mail Order Options:

Rechutti Chocolates
Fancy, beautiful, hand-crafted chocolates. Look for the chocolate-dipped pear slices.

Wilbur chocolates
Yummy treats. -The Wilbur buds just may have been the inspiration for the Hershey's Kiss. -All sorts of holiday gift packs are available. Don't forget the Malted Milk Balls. -They're Evan's favorite!

Chocolate Turtles from Sunnyland Farms 800.999.2488
Amazing, individually wrapped chocolate turtles. -Gift packaging available or you can order a box sent to your home and make your own gift packages.

Western Sky's Jerky Company
They make and ship all sorts of gourmet jerky: -Beef, Buffalo, Elk, Venison, Antelope, Alligator and Turkey Jerky. -Certainly a way to your sweetie's heart.

We can never seem to get enough pork on Good Food. -How about sending a loved one a box of delicious bacon? -In Southern California, we havethe luxury of being able to find Niman Ranch bacon at Trader Joes. But friends and relatives without this option might find this bacon a real treat. Bacon-of-the-Month Club Just like is says, bacon every month! -All different kinds of small-producer styles of bacon. This unique gift will never be forgotten. We also like the "Sow" and "Boar" t-shirts available here.

Honey Sampler Marshall's Farm Honey (Helene Marshall) 800.624.4637
They offer all sorts of Holiday gift baskets. And this is more than your grocery store variety honey. They have orange blossom honey, pumpkin blossom honey, he-man honey, and about 20 other varieties to whet your appetite, including honey sticks for the kids. -You can givethem a price point and they will custom design gifts just for the caller. --Marshall's Farm Honey will be shipping right up to December 23rd, but to get things for the holidays, a two week notice would be nice, one week notice o.k., says owner Helene Marshall. --It all depends on last minute supply and demand. -It takes about 3-5 working days from the time the order is received for the order to arrive.

Mars Cheese Castle - Kringle pastry
At the holidays, Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin ships endless orders of Kringle. There's a good reason for this. -I grew up eating this Kringle and it is a divine sweet treat. It holds up well to freezing for a later date. You can also get your fix of cheese curds here. -Nationwide shipping available.

Lee Brothers' Boiled Peanuts
Boiled peanuts are nothing like their dried and roasted counterparts. These are more like fresh soybeans or edamame. Southerns go nuts for them. The Lee Brothers ship all over the U.S.

Williams-Sonoma - Croissants
Only available through internet/mail order, these croissants were first recommended to us by David Rosengarten who listed them as one of his ten favorite things. -I gave them a try and I must agree, they are fantastic. -Presentationally, maybe not the best for a holiday gift, unless you're giving them to a foodie. They can't be gift wrapped and they arrive frozen at your door. -But with a bit of prep, thawing the night before, and brushing with an egg wash before baking, they are delicious. -They come in plain and chocolate. -I think they'd be the perfect breakfast item for Christmas morning. -I'll be sending them to myself this year!

How about some gadgets for your foodie friends? These came as recommendations from the foodiest of foodies: The Thermapen My friend Sam, on whom I base most food-related judgments, highly recommends this item. -He says it is many orders of magnitude better than any instant read thermometer, ever. -It makes the other 12 thermometers he's owned look like pointy sticks for making holes in food. Cookie Scoop Sam says he gives these as gifts and people laugh at him. -They call him a silly gearhead. -"Who needs a special scoop for cookies?" -And then they use it and realize that, yes, Sam is wise in the ways of food. -He claims that by using a cookie scoop, he can make chocolate chip cookies in less time than it takes him to go to the store and buy them, though this is not scientifically tested. Spoon Shaped Spatula available at Chef's Catalog, as well as many other retailers. High heat resistant silicone variety is great. Silpat Mat also available at Chef's Catalog and many other retailers. A great invention for baking.

Surfas (the new and improved store) 8777 W. Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232
Monday - Saturday: 9AM to 6:30 PM
Sunday: 11AM to 6:30 PM
For that special friend a knife from
A Microplane
A Japanese Mandoline

Abby Dodge, contributing editor of Fine Cooking magazine and author of The Weekend Baker, is here to tell us that it's time to cover every surface in our kitchen with holiday cookies.

See more of Abby's recipes in the Holiday issue of Fine Cooking, or try this Gingerbread Biscotti recipe she shared with us.

Gingerbread Biscotti
Yields about 24 biscotti.

Biscotti are very forgiving, and you can bake them to your taste: chewy, crunchy, or somewhere in between.

  • 10 ounces (2 1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) lightly packed dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from about 1 medium naval orange)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350 F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda on medium-low speed until well blended. On low speed, briefly mix in the pecans and apricots. In a measuring cup, lightly whisk the molasses, eggs, and orange zest. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the egg mixture. Continue mixing until the dough is well blended and comes together in large, moist clumps, 1 to 2 minutes.

Dump the dough onto an unfloured work surface. Divide into two equal piles (about 1 pound each). Shape each pile into a log that's 10 inches long and about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, lightly flouring your hands as needed (the dough is a bit sticky).

Position the logs on the lined cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake until the tops are cracked and spring back slightly when gently pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a rack and let cool until the logs are cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

Carefully peel the biscotti logs from the parchment and transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, saw each log into diagonal slices 3/4 inch wide. Return the slices to the cookie sheet (no need for fresh parchment) and arrange them cut side down. It's all right if they touch because they won't spread.

Bake until the biscotti are dried to your taste, about 10 minutes (for slightly moist and chewy) to 20 minutes (for super-dry and crunchy). Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let the biscotti cool completely. The biscotti will still give slightly when pressed, but will harden as they cool. When cool, store in airtight containers.

Dr. Will Clower tells us that the "Not One Ounce" campaign now has over 700 members. Although the focus is not to gain any additional weight through the holidays, members have already lost a total of 216 pounds since October.

This week Dr. Clower tells us to keep our holiday party noshing at a minimum. He recommends that we should have a normal meal before attending the party, not starve ourselves to prepare as many of us are wont to do, and try to stick to the healthy offerings. Holding our drink in our dominant hand might help us keep our mitts out of puff pastry wrapped brie and chewing gum might keep us from hoovering the bourbon-laced egg nog.

Jean Francois Meteigner, chef/owner of La Cachette gives us an idea of what France is like at Christmas time and gives a recipe for making a classic buche de Noel.

To attend a cooking class at La Cachette restaurant, call (310) 470-4992. The Holiday Feast class featuring the buche de Noel is Saturday, December 17, from 9:00 - 12:30pm. The class includes lunch with wine for $100/per person.

Buche de Noel Biscuit
  • 4.5 oz. Sugar
  • 4.5 oz. (Cake Flour)- Sift two times
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 5 Egg Whites
  1. Whip the egg whites adding the sugar at the end.
  2. Beat the yolks and then add to the egg white mixture.
  3. Add the sifted cake flour to the above mixture.
  4. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and put the above mixture on the sheet.
  5. Bake in 450-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • 7 oz. Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of water
  • Dark rum or coffee liquor
  1. Boil sugar and water together and add the alcohol.
  2. Moisten the biscuit with the punch
  • Boil 1 cup of cream
  • Add 4 oz. Chocolate
  1. Whisk together until melted.
  2. Put in stainless steel bowl and let cool down until creamy consistency. It should be ready to put on log.
Chocolate Mousse
  • 7 oz. Bitter chocolate cut in very fine
  • 3 Tbsp. Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup whipping cream (whipped and put aside)
  • 1/2 Cup Egg whites
  • 2.8 oz. Sugar
  1. Whip the cream until very stiff and put aside (outside)
  2. Melt chocolate in double boiler with coffee put aside to cool down.
  3. Whip the egg whites and add the sugar to soft peak.
  4. Add the chocolate when almost cold to the whipped cream and foil the egg white to mixture.
Put the chocolate on the biscuit and roll it like a wooden log. Make the decoration with the fudge then design with a fork.

Note: Make chocolate mousse the day before so it will be easier to roll.

Harry Orlove of Cheap Wine Club, offers some holiday choices for entertaining. He suggests a few wines that the wine aficionados amongst you might disregard because the label seems too familiar, but he says the choices he's offering are truly delicious and won't break the bank.

Here are the wines he recommends:
  • Sweet dessert wine 1999 Anselmann Ortega Trockenbeerenauslese
  • Cristallino Cava Brut and Brut Rose'
  • Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Walnut Crest Chardonnay
  • David Frost "Jack Nicklaus" Sauvignon Blanc
  • Firestone Riesling
  • Rex Goliath Pinot Noir Central Cost
  • Ravenswood Zinfandel "Vintner's Reserve"
  • Vina Alarba Old Vines Grenache

Photographer, Peter Menzel and writer Faith D'Aluisio, have been looking in people's fridges all over the world. From one family living in a refugee camp in Chad to another family they solicited from a street corner in Cuernavaca, Mexico, they managed to learn what people put on their tables across the globe. Loaded with spectacular photographs and sensitive writing, The Hungry Planet is a phenomenal work and it is a powerful assessment of how our global relationship with food is undergoing tremendous change.

Ellen Rose, owner of the Cooks Library in West Hollywood, drops by to tell us the best books we should wrap and put a bow on this season.

  • Arabesque by Claudia Roden
  • Artisanal Cooking by Terrance Brennan
  • Bones by Jennifer McLagan
  • Boulevard by Nancy Oakes
  • Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best by Max McCalman
  • Don't Try This at Home by Kimberly Witherspoon
  • Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
  • Matzoh Ball Gumbo by Marcie Cohen Ferris
  • The Arab Table by May S. Bsisu
  • The Seasoning of a Chef by Doug Psaltis
Cook's Library, 8373 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048, (323) 655-3141