Plan Early for Thanksgiving; Hot Dogs; Duck and Tea

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Recipes and resources from today's Good Food:

Carl Chu is the author of Chinese Food Finder: Los Angeles. There are also New York and San Francisco versions. Carl talked about Kim Chuy at 501 West Valley Boulevard in Alhambra. He recommends master cooked duck, which is served cold and on top of noodles or in soups. The house special is a rice noodle soup with a combination of duck, shrimp and fish balls.

Alto Palato, the celebrated Italian restaurant is closing its doors for good at the end of November. For the month they have their top ten dishes available and their entire wine list is 50% off. The restaurant is located at 755 North La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The perfect Chicago dog is at QT Chicago Dogs on Woodman near Moorpark in Encino. It's in a mini-mall quick mart. Ask for the natural casing!

Pink's Hot Dogs is located at 709 North La Brea, on the corner of Melrose and La Brea. From November 6 - 16, Pink's will celebrate their 65th anniversary by offering their chili dogs for 65 cents for 65 minutes, starting at 6pm.

David Barenholtz is the proprietor of Le Palais des Th-s (310-271-7922) at 401 North Cannon Drive in Beverly Hills.

Molly Stevens is the author of All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking, published by Norton.

Braised Cauliflower with Capers & Toasted Bread Crumbs
Serves 4 to 6
Braising Time: 15 to 20 minutes

  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs made from day-old rustic white bread
  • 1 head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought, or water, plus more as needed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. Toasting the bread crumbs: Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread crumbs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice with a pancake turner, until the crumbs are the color of pale toast and lightly crunchy, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Trimming the cauliflower: Cut the cauliflower into florets, discarding the thick core. Cut into individual florets that are about 1 1/2 inches long and just about as wide. You want them small, but not trimmed so much that they are falling apart.
  3. Browning the cauliflower: Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet (12-inch) over medium-high heat. When hot, add the florets and saute, turning frequently, until they are speckled allover with nice bits of brown, about 8 minutes total. Add the capers, stir to dis- tribute, and cook for another minute.
  4. The braise: Pour in the stock or water, season with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt because of the capers), cover tightly, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently until the cauliflower is tender enough to be easily pierced with the tip of a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. If the liquid threatens to dry up at any point, add a splash of water.
  5. The finish: When the cauliflower is tender, remove the lid and boil away any remain- ing liquid, shaking the pan so the cauliflower doesn't stick. Add a squeeze of lemon, and taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the bread crumbs and serve immediately.
Variation: Penne with Braised Cauliflower & Capers
Turn this cauliflower into a meal by boiling up 3/4 pound of short tube-shaped pasta, such as penne, fusilli, or gemelli. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. In Step 5, don't boil away any remaining liquid. Add the pasta to the cauliflower before adding the bread crumbs, and add enough reserved pasta cooking water to moisten the dish. Drizzle with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, stir in the bread crumbs, and taste for salt and pepper. A small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley and some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are good finishing touches. Serves 3 to 4.

Salmon Fillets Braised in Pinot Noir with Bacon & Mushrooms
Serves 4
Braising Time: 15 to 18 minutes
  • 4 thick skin-on salmon fillets. preferably wild-caught. about 6 ozs each and 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 1/4 lb (4 ozs) mushrooms-button mushrooms or a mix of specialty mushrooms such as chanterelles or oyster mushrooms
  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ozs), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1 leek, finely chopped and thoroughly washed
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups light red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais
  • Three 2- to 3-inch leafy fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Removing any fish bones: Run your finger down the flesh of the salmon fillets, near the center of the fillet. You will sometimes find a thin row of bones, called pinbones, that need to be removed. But many markets remove the pin bones themselves, so if you don't find any, don't be concerned that you're missing them: you'll notice them if they are there. The best tool for removing pinbones is a pair of pliers or strong tweezers: failing that, a small paring knife will do. If using pliers or tweezers, grab the end of each bone and yank it free. With a small knife, choke up on the blade of the knife with your thumb and fore- finger, snag the end of the bone between your thumb and the blade, and yank the bone free. Continue until you've removed all the pinbones. There may be anywhere from a few to a dozen wispy, soft bones in each fillet.
  3. The mushrooms: Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. If they are very sandy, give them a quick rinse. (For more on cleaning mushrooms, see "Shopping for and Handling Cremini and Portobello Mushrooms," page 221.) Trim off the very base of the mushroom stems, then remove the stems and coarsely chop them. Set aside. Thinly slice the caps and set these aside separately.
  4. The aromatics and braising liquid: Choose a deep ovenproof skillet or shallow brais- ing pan just large enough to hold the salmon fillets without crowding (I use a 12- to 13- inch pan). Add half the bacon to the cold skillet, set over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon has rendered much of its fat and is just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Don't let it become crisp. Add the leek, carrot, shallot, reserved mush- room stems, and salt and pepper to taste, and saute, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Pour in half the wine and add the thyme. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook until the wine has reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining wine and return to a simmer for 5 minutes:
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the bacon and mushroom garnish: As the wine is reducing, place the remaining bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat and fry until crisp. Transfer to a small bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off most of the grease from the skillet, add 1 tablespoon of the butter, and swirl the skillet, off the heat so that the butter doesn't burn or brown too quickly. Add the sliced mushroom caps and set the skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and saute, shaking or stir- ring often. The mushrooms will throw off a fair amount of liquid: continue sauteing, stir- ring frequently, until all the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are tender and nicely browned. Transfer the mushrooms to another bowl. Return the skillet to the stove, with the burner turned off-you will use the skillet later for finishing the sauce.
  6. The braise: Season the salmon on the top and sides with salt and pepper. When the braising liquid is ready, reduce to a gentle simmer and arrange the fillets skin side down in the simmering liquid. Cover tightly and slide the pan onto a rack in the middle of the oven. Braise the salmon for 15 to 18 minutes, checking once about halfway through to make sure that the liquid is simmering gently and to baste the fillets with the wine. If the liquid is simmering vigorously, lower the oven 10 or 15 degrees. (Since the salmon is delicate and cooks quickly, there is no need to turn it halfway the way you would a pot roast or other large cut.) Check for doneness by discreetly cutting into the thickest part of a fillet and peeking to see that it is opaque on the outside but still translucent toward the center. Remove the pan from the oven and, with a fish spatula or other slotted spatula, transfer the fillets to a platter to catch any juices. Cover loosely with foil and set in a warm spot.
  7. The finish: Strain the braising liquid into the reserved skillet, pushing on the vegeta- bles to extract as much liquid as you can. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. After a minute or two, lower the heat to medil.Jm, and when the simmer has slowed to a gentle one, whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir in the parsley and taste for salt and pepper. Add the reserved crisped bacon and sauteed mushrooms to the sauce and heat through.
  8. Serving: Place the salmon fillets on dinner plates and spoon the sauce over the top.

World's Best Braised Green Cabbage
Serves 6
Braising Time: about 2 1/4 hours
  • 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 large yellow onion (about 8 ozs), thickly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought, or water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a large gratin dish or baking dish (9-by-13- inch works well).
  2. Trimming the cabbage: Peel off and discard any bruised or ragged outer leaves from the cabbage. The cabbage should weigh close to 2 pounds (if you don't have a kitchen scale, consult the grocery store receipt). If the cabbage weighs more than 2 pounds, it won't fit in the baking dish and won't braise as beautifully. To remedy this, cut away a wedge of the cabbage to trim it down to size. Save the leftover wedge for salad or coleslaw. Then cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. Arrange the wedges in the baking dish; they may overlap some, but do your best to make a single layer.
  3. The braise: Scatter in the onion and carrot. Drizzle over the oil and stock or water. Season with salt, pepper, and the pepper flakes. Cover tightly with foil, and slide into the middle of the oven to braise until the vegetables are completely tender, about 2 hours. Turn the cabbage wedges with tongs after an hour. Don't worry if the wedges want to fall apart as you turn them; just do your best to keep them intact. If the dish is drying out at all, add a few tablespoon of water.
  4. The finish: Once the cabbage is completely tender, remove the foil, increase the oven heat to 400, and roast until the vegetables begin to brown, another 15 minutes or so. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with Fleur de sel or other coarse salt.
Variation: Braised Green Cabbage with Balsamic Vinegar
Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the cabbage to enhance its sweetness. In Step 4, after you remove the foil, sprinkle on 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic and turn the cab- bage with tongs to distribute the vinegar, then roast for another 15 minutes, uncovered, as directed.

Honey-Glazed Five-Spice Baby Back Ribs
Serves 4 as an hors d'oeuvre
Braising Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • The Spice Rub
    • 2 Tablespoons five-spice powder
    • 1 1/2 tsps coarse salt
    • 1 slab baby back ribs (1 3/4 to 2 lbs)
    • 1 1/2 tsps brown sugar (light or dark)
    The Braise
    • 1 cup lager beer
    • 1 Tablespoon molasses (dark or light)
    • 3 Tablespoons honey
    • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
    • 1/2 tsp Asian fish sauce (soy sauce may be substituted)
    1. The spice rub -- 12 to 24 hours in advance: A day before (or ealry the morning before) you plan to serve the ribs, combine the five-spice powder, salt and brown sugar in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the ribs, turning and rubbing until it adheres; this may take a few turns. Place the ribs on a tray or baking dish, cover loosely and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
    2. Heat the over to 325F
    3. The braise: Place the ribs bone-side down in a deep roasting pan or baking dish large enough to accommodate the slab (9" x 13" works well). Measure the beer in a large glass measuring cup and stir in the molasses. Pour this mixture around, not over, the pork. Cover tightly with foil and braise, basting every 30 minutes or so, until the ribs are tender enough that you can easily slide a knife between the meat and bone, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven. (The ribs may be made ahead to this point and held at room temperature for a few hours.)
    4. The glaze: Heat the broiler on high. Whisk together the honey, ketchup and fish sauce. Separate the ribs by cutting down between the bones with a sharp knife. Discard the braising liquid. Place the ribs on a broiling pan or baking sheet and paint them on all sides with the glaze. Broil about 4 inches from the heating element, turning once, until glazed and blackened in spots, about 7 minutes total. Serve hot or warm.

      Heritage Foods USA is run by Patrick Martins and Todd Wickstrom. Go to their website to see a live web cam of turkey farms. You can order your own Heritage turkey for Thanksgiving!

      Here's the order form:
      If there are questions, write to Please print and snail mail it to the address below. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Your Name:____________________________________________

      Your Phone Number: ___________________________________
      (we'll only call if there's a problem)

      Your Email address: __________________________________
      (we need this to confirm everything. we will not send any spam. just turkey)

      Your preferred pick up location (choose one):

      ___Sun, November 21, Hollywood

      ___Wed. November 24, Santa Monica
      Your preferred size (we'll call you if your size isn't available);
      _____10-15 lbs -- $50

      _____16-20 lbs -- $70
      _____21-30+ lbs -- $90
      Please send this form with your $30 deposit to:
      Jill Smolin
      349 North Ridgewood Place
      Los Angeles, CA 90004
      Make checks payable to Peter Schaner. Jill will email you as soon as she receives your deposit.

      Laurelle Johnson is a KCRW volunteer and obsessed with doing as little in the kitchen as possible with the best home-cooked flavor. She talked about mail order Thanksgiving.

      By making a list of what you are ordering, try ordering from as few Internet sites as possible. This keeps the shipping charges down considerably.

      Food Safety: Go to for guidelines on safe delivery of perishables and what to do in case you suspect something has gone bad. There is an 800 number and a diagram on how your item should look and feel. Most important is to tell the recipient that the package will need to be refrigerated immediately!

      Laurelle says Honeybaked Ham has the best prices on meal combination with side dishes. She calls it a really one-stop shop where you can get a turkey or ham pre-sliced for $61.00 with NO SHIPPING CHARGES. Laurelle orders desert (pecan pie or apple pie) as well as a trio of side dishes which include 1 Quart each of Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, Creamed Corn & Cranberry Salad for $25.00. Ordering these dishes sounded great and saved her from having to "smile and eat my mothers' horrible mashed potatoes!" Their deserts -- cheesecakes, carrot cakes, individual chocolates, etc -- look like they are to die for and so why not? They're priced at around $38.00.

      Vegetables and lettuce can all be ordered in various degrees through Diamond Organics. Fresh veggies and lettuce can be hard to come by in out-of-the way retirement communities so ordering them this way offers a better chance of getting something fresh. In addition, Laurelle orders fresh and dried fruit and nuts at the same time. She highly recommend Vosges Hot Chocolate -- UMMM - to die for and the kids just want more and more!!!! Their web site is designed to turn you into a chocolate addict. Everything from Aztec hot chocolate with a chili's to French style chocolate au lait! Be forewarned! (Also available through Zingermans.) Finally, she offers as a great web site for ordering "gourmet" foods, cheeses, caviar and other very stylized foods. Three other websites Laurelle mentioned include:
      Olivier & Co