Potted Veggies; Pillsbury Bake-Off; Dark Dining; Food Network Stars; Peruvian Sushi; Food Photos

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Local landscaper Scott Daigre is the leader of the massively popular Tomatomania suggests planting in containers, a great alternative to LA's clay soil. He cautions to use a rich potting soil and a container with good drainage and large enough to support the plants. He reminds us to be consistent with watering and to fertilize plants every week to 10 days.

Go to the website to learn about the world's largest tomato-seedling sales, including the one in Encino at Tapia Brothers on March 24-26. Look for the new tomatoes that they are offering this year. You can also purchase seedlings online, so don't worry if you can't make it to the sale. Scott shared this recipe from the Tomatomania website.

Stuffed Tomatoes, Italian Style

  • 6 nice ripe tomatoes
  • 2 ozs of bread crumbs moistened with vinegar
  • 1 oz cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs and a small wisp of parsley
Cut the stem end off the tomatoes; remove the core and seeds, and fill with the following mixture: Add the bread crumbs, cheese, and two of the eggs boiled hard and finely chopped, a dessert spoon of finely chopped herbs (basil or savory); pepper and salt to taste; mix well with the other two eggs well beaten; fill the tomatoes with the mixture; cover the top of each tomato with bread crumbs mixed with finely chopped parsley; put a small piece of butter on each, and put on a greased baking pan; cook in a slow oven for 20 or 30 minutes.

Laura Avery bumped into Mary Sue Milliken of Ciudad (check out the restaurant's new Latin American Dinner Series) at the booth of Windrose Farms where she's shopping for her family. Mary Sue tells us about the under appreciated vegetable, kohlrabi, which she says looks kind of like a spaceship. She recommends peeling, slicing them thin, and serving them as a crunchy salad, like coleslaw, with a lemony mustard vinaigrette. She also likes to cook with the orange cauliflower in the market, by slicing it into 3/4-inch slices and saut--ing it briefly in olive oil and giving it a squirt of lime juice to finish it off. Mary Sue says that she serves these market veggies with a Pot Roast with Barolo and her family goes nuts. See why, when you try the recipe for yourself.

Beef Braised in Barolo
Brasato al Barolo

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 3-lb boneless beef chuck roast, patted dry
  • 2 tsps kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped pancetta or bacon
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 bottles Barolo, or other dry Piedmont red wine, such as Dolcetto or Barbera
  • 2 to 4 cups beef stock
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef and cook, turning, to brown on all sides. Remove from the pan.
  2. To the fat in the pan, add the pancetta and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Return the beef to the pan and add the wine, 2 cups of the stock, whole cloves, rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, occasionally turning the meat and skimming any foam that forms on the surface. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock, as needed, to keep the meat covered with liquid.
  4. Remove the meat from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
  5. Strain the sauce into a saucepan and place over high heat. Cook until the sauce is reduced to a consistency thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  6. Thinly slice the beef across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Serve the beef ladled with the sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2004

Laura also visited with Cheryl Gaines of It Began In The Garden, who's offering lovely fresh dried herbs (these are definitely not your ancient supermarket herbs), and even provides a little muslin bag so that you can make your own bouquet garni. Known for her decorative, fresh herb-gardens-to-go, Cheryl also carries several varieties of scented geraniums, herbal tea blends and stevia (a natural herb sweetener). She's also a generous source for information on planting and growing herbs. Visit her website or visit her at the Santa Monica Farmers' Markets (Wednesday or Saturday) or Pacific Palisades (Sunday).

Mary Edwards and Kathy Sweeton are finalists in the bi-annual Pillsbury Bake-off, which dishes out a $1 million grand prize to the winner of this contest which uses various Pillsbury products and generates millions of dollars worth of sales from their grocery check out stand recipe books. Mary, a local home cook, regales us with tales of the competition and her star Pi--ata Pork Roast and tells us what it's like to compete against that attention hog, Black Bottom Peanut Butter Pie. Kathy, an elementary school teacher in Long Beach, hopes her Raspberry Nut Dreams are going to win the pot.

Ben Uphues returns to tell us how his Dining in the Dark restaurant experience is becoming all the rage for Angelenos. Not only are they expanding to the South Bay, they are also organizing (truly) blind wine tastings. Go the the website to learn more about Dining in the Dark, currently held at the West Hollywood Hyatt on the mezzanine level. Dinner runs $99 per person.

Southern California residents Reggie Southerland and Nathan Lyon are two of the eight finalists in the The Next Food Network Star, competition on the Food Network. Nathan, a personal chef who also works at farmer's markets, and Reggie, a self-taught baker from Los Angeles, share some delicious snacks and give us the sweet lowdown on reality food TV. You can learn more about Nathan and his "market-to-table" fresh food philosophy online at GoodTasteChef.com. For some of Reggie's fabulously fine baked goods from his business, Mildred Fierce, contact him at 323-668-1663.

Jonathan Gold of the LA Weekly, who has written about Peru as a Mecca of amazing seafood, surprised us with the information that Nobu Matsuhisa's first sushi restaurant was in Peru. For those who want to sample South American sushi, Jonathan suggests Kotosh at Kamiyama in Lomita. Dinner for two runs $16-$36, more with sushi. Recommended dishes include tiradito de lenguado, pulpo al olivo, chupo de camarones.

Adam Seifer started taking pictures of his food on October 17, 2002 and nearly 4000 meals later he is still going. He never expected to document his life photographically through his meals, but it has turned out to be both interesting and fun. He calls it "a nice way to take a moment to think about my meal before I tear into it, kind of like a non-religious way of saying grace--and it's a great format for remembering important stuff that happened in my life. Meals punctuate every single day and really capture who I was with and where I was and what I was doing." Adam has found that food is a great way of connecting with other food photo bloggers around the world who download their own photographed meals and respond to his photos with comments. You'll find his photo log at www.fotolog.com/cypher.