Reichl on NY Dining; Biggest Pan of Pad Thai; Dining from Packages

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Recipes and information from this week's edition of Good Food.

Jonathan Gold is the food writer for the LA Weekly. He spoke about Heydar Baba, a Persian restaurant located at 1151 East Colorado Blvd, just across the street from Pasadena City College. (626-844-7970)

Karen Page, along with Andrew Dornenburg, is the author of The New American Chef, published by Wiley.

Tortilla a la Espanola
Recipe from Penelope Casas

  • 1 cup olive oil or a blend of olive and vegetable oil
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch slices
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt
  • 4 large eggs
Heat the oil in an 8 or 9-inch skillet. Layer the potatoes in the pan, one slice at a time. Alternate each layer with a layer of onions, salting each layer. Cook slowly over medium heat (the dish involves more simmering than frying) until tender. Lift the potatoes occasionally so that they do not brown. The potatoes should remain separated.

Drain the mixture in a colander, and reserve about 3 tablespoons of the oil for the omelet. (Save the rest of the oil for other uses, because it has such a great flavor.) Wipe out the skillet making sure there is no residue; it must be completely clean for cooking the omelet. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until slightly foamy. Add salt. Add the potatoes, pressing down so they are all covered. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil in the pan until it smokes. Add the potato mixture and spread it out evenly. Lower the heat to medium and cook, shaking the pan occasionally to make sure the omelet doesn-t stick. When the eggs begin to brown on the bottom, cover the pan with a plate and invert the potatoes onto it.

Quickly add the remaining oil to the pan and heat until smoking. Slide the omelet back into the pan to brown the other side, and lower the heat to medium. Once the second side has browned, flip the omelet two or three more times, cooking briefly on each side. This helps it finish cooking and gives it shape. Turn the omelet out onto a plate and let cool.

To serve, cut into wedges or small squares so it can be picked up with toothpicks.

KCRW volunteer and Executive Domestic Goddess Laurelle Johnson has come up with rip n' pour, the art of preparing packaged foods that mirror meals you'd prepare anyway. High quality dishes such as pastas, soups and stir-fry are all available in the frozen and canned sections and are easy to make. She says that serving soups for dinner is healthy, filling and a great way to "get veggies down my kids' throats." Furthermore, since nothing disappoints more than a child's outright refusal to eat a dish you've slaved over, it easier to handle the rejection when all you did was open a can or rip open a package. Training your partner in rip n- pour, art of ripping something into a pot, is as easy as boiling water. To get him started, she's offered three successfully tested menus and the approximate price of each meal.

First Sample Menu: Dinner for Four

  • Lentil Soup with Vegetables (28 oz can, $2.99 at Trader Joe-s) Simple heating on a pot on the stove
  • Edamame ($1.49) Half a bag, boiled with salt-more boiling on the stove
  • Chicken Chow Mien ($3.69) Low fat, poured into a skillet and saut-ed
  • Packaged lettuce ($1.89 a bag) with homemade dressing-a bowl and gravity is all you need here
  • One teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons Ume plum vinegar, 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil ($.50) combine in bottom of bowl and throw in salad to toss, "some assembly required"
  • 4 tangerines/apples/pears ($3.20) every one peels their own
  • Free water four times around. Older kids can handle this
Total cost: $13.76
Less than a meal for four at In n- Out Burger. $15.75

Second Sample Menu: Appeals to Children of All Ages

  • Trader Joe-s Breakfast Chicken Sausages ($2.79) 6 to a package
  • TJ-s Chicken Sicilian Sausages ($3.56) 6 to a package (One package for the kids and one for the adults does just fine. They go into the oven at 350 for 20 minutes and come out delicious without the muss and fuss of stovetop saut-ing
  • Farmhouse long grain wild rice ($1.29 a box) 25 minutes prep time
  • Rosarito refried beans ($1.29, 16 oz can) 5 to 7 minutes heat time
  • Tossed lettuce salad ($3.50) with yellow peppers, chopped scallions and a bit of Feta cheese
  • Homemade salad dressing ($ .50) as above
  • Plain yogurt ($1.55) with pre-sliced apples and nuts
Total cost: $10.92

Third Menu: Some Assembly Required

  • Barley soup with vegetables ($2.99, 28 oz can)
  • Roasted chicken ($7.50) fresh cooked and kept warm in oven. Most markets carry roasted chickens, which tend to be low-cost and tender.
  • Farmhouse chicken-flavored pilaf in a box ($1.29) 25 minutes prep time
  • Pain Rustic/artisan bread for chicken drippings ($2.19)
  • Tossed lettuce salad ($3.50) with yellow peppers, chopped scallions and a bit of Feta cheese
Total cost: $15.28

Jet Tila is a cooking instructor, private chef and owner of Bangkok Market in Hollywood.

The Thai New Year/Songkran Festival is Sunday, April 4. The parade starts at 11am; festivities begin at 12:30pm. Jet will be preparing an enormous bowl of pad thai.

Ruth Reichl is the editor of Gourmet magazine. She spoke about the New York restaurant issue currently on newsstands.