Sans Cristal; Donuts; Bread's Mom; Red Wattles; Gastronauts; Ice Cream Diet; Gold's New Concept

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Laura Avery chats up a dashing Frenchman, Jean François Meteigner of La Cachette restaurant as he's shopping for summer vegetables. He loves pineapple tomatoes (yellow and red heirlooms) and small, striped purple eggplants with a green top. If you're looking for a tasty compliment to your musical adventure, La Cachette puts together fabulous Hollywood Bowl Picnic Baskets.

Ed Munak's melons are in. Look for the cantaloupe, Charente melon, and the green-fleshed, netted Rocky Sweet. Also male and female watermelons; the males are, of course, those with seeds.

Image Not AvailableLaura Avery also mentions the Santa Monica Library lecture series. Santa Monica Farmers' Market presents Farms, Farming, and Farmers' Markets, the first in a three-part series celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Market. The event, which takes place on Thursday, July 20 at 7pm at Library's MLK Jr. Auditorium, and features a panel of food experts who'll discuss farmers' markets. There will also be a sampling of farm-fresh food following the discussion.

Robert Rogness, General Manager of Wine Expo, (310-828-4428) at 2933 Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica, is aware that there's been a little controversy floating around the Champagne world recently. Hip-hop artist, label owner and mogul Jay-Z has called on a boycott of the Cristal brand of bubbly because the company president has expressed little enthusiasm for its most notorious fans. Wine Expo has these alternate suggestions. They're all "grower Champagnes," which means that they're made only from grapes grown from the vintner. (Large champagne producers, like M--et, buy grapes and wine from other areas.):

  • Vilmart Cuvee Creation
    under $100 when you can find it; 1996 is the vintage; rare
    clear bottle, label looks like a stained glass window; similar in flavor to Cristal
  • Margaine Brut
    $40; from Merfy, France; rich and lush
  • Angeline Godel, Grand Cru, Blanc de blanc
    from Ambonnay Village in France; $40

  • Image Not AvailableJohn T. Edge is the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. The author of Donuts: An American Passion, shared the following recipes from that book.

    Lassie Loops
    Yields about 24 loops

    • 6 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided use
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 4 tsps baking powder
    • 1 Tablespoon lard or shortening
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
    • 1/2 gallon vegetable oil for frying
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 2 cups of sugar, salt, and baking powder. Rub in lard or shortening with your fingertips until the mixture is pebbly. Set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs well, then beat in milk. Set aside. Working either directly on your flour board, or in a shallow pan or bowl, create a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour egg-milk mixture into the well and start working the dry ingredients into the wet, using a pastry scraper on your hands to gently fold the dry and wet ingredients together. Be careful not to knead the dough like bread, work it gently to avoid creating a chewy texture. Turn the resulting mound over a couple of times on a lightly floured surface and roll out with a rolling pin to 1/4-inch thickness.
    3. Pour the oil in a cast-iron Dutch oven or other deep, heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches a depth of 3 or 4 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 325--. Using a dough cutter, cut dough into rounds, then cut out a smaller round from each for the center. Gather scraps and reroll dough as necessary. Fry each loop for two minutes per side or until puffed and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on wire racks. Toss cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar together in a large brown paper bag. While the donuts are warm, add a few at a time, shaking to cover with cinnamon sugar.

    Picayune Beignets
    Makes 24 beignets

    • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup barley flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 tsps baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 gallon vegetable oil for frying
    • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose barley flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg, then add the melted butter and vanilla, mixing well. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
    2. Divide the resulting dough into two balls. On a floured surface, knead each ball 10 to 20 times and roll out with a rolling pin into a 9-inch-by-9-inch square about 1/8-inch thick. Next, cut the big square into 12 small squares.
    3. Pour oil into a cast-iron Dutch oven or other deep, heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 370. Fry 3 or 4 beignets at a time, turning once shortly after dropping them in the oil, for about 2 minutes total or until lightly browned on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot.

    Farmers' Market Purse Donuts
    Make these the night before since the dough needs to rest overnight. Use whatever berry or fruit is at its peak for the filling.
    Makes 18 to 20 donuts

    • 1 package (2 1/4 tsps) active dry yeast
    • 1/2 cup warm water
    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • Scant tsp salt
    • 2 large eggs, separated (reserve the whites in the refrigerator for assembly).
    • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 gallon peanut or vegetable oil for frying
    • 2 Tablespoons sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 quarts hulled strawberries or other fresh berries
    1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes for the mixture to foam.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and egg yolks, mixing well. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and mix until a dough forms. Lightly flour a work surface and dump the dough out. Knead in 2 tablespoons of the butter and continue kneading until the dough is no longer sticky. With the remaining tablespoon of butter, grease another large bowl, dump the dough in, and turn the dough to coat in the butter. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
    3. In the morning, remove dough from the refrigerator, remove the wrap, and let it come to room temperature. That should take 30 minutes or so.
    4. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat to a simmer. Stir until sugar is incorporated and the mixture is somewhat viscous. Add lemon juice and set aside to cool.
    5. Flour a work surface and roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Using a wide-mouth glass or 2- or 3-inch pastry cutter, punch out 20 or so rounds. Gather scraps and reroll as necessary, cutting about another 12 rounds, working to get an even number.
    6. Lightly grease two baking sheets with butter or shortening. In a small bowl, beat the two egg whites. Arrange rows of dough rounds on the trays. Brush the edges of the rounds with egg white and top with a second round. Press the two halves to seal along the periphery. Do not mash them together. Repeat again and again, setting the completed donuts aside to rise for about 20 minutes.
    7. Pour the oil into a cast-iron Dutch oven or other deep, heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Working in batches of 3 or 4, slide the donuts into the oil. cook, turning once, for about 2 minutes, or until golden on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on wire racks, and cool for 10 to 15 minutes. With a sharp knife, slit open each donut, working to free a pocket at the core. Ladle in berries and syrup, stuffing until the donuts are just shy of overflowing.

    Image Not AvailableStefan Gates is the author of the book, Gastronaut: Adventures in Food for the Romantic, the Foolhardy and the Brave. The self-described "Epicurean Desperado" has a BBC series that begins July 18 at 8.30pm on BBC4. It's called Cooking in the Danger Zone. Hopefully we'll see it on BBC America sometime soon. Meantime, Stefan leaves us this unusual recipe idea.

    Fanny Sandwich Serves 1
    For best results, Stefan suggests procuring the "posterior of a pregnant woman." (See below.)

    • Bread (crusty French bread or sourdough are perfect, but anything will do)
    • Butter
    • Fillings (choose two from ham, good cheese, chicken, avocado, etc)
    • Mustard (or pesto, charmoula, taramasalata, salsa verde, etc)
    • Mayonnaise
    • Fresh herbs, if you have them (parsley, thyme, and rosemary are all good as long as they go with your ingredients)
    • Watercress or arugula
    Cut bread thickly and butter it lavishly. Make the sandwich with generous amounts of filling and, most crucially, spread on the pesto, mayonnaise, herbs, and watercress (or arugula). Wrap the sandwich securely in a generous quantity of cling wrap, to protect clothes from the greasy ingredients, and the sandwich from any noxious escapes. Instruct guests to sit on the sandwich for as long as possible, an hour is ideal. Unwrap the sandwich and cut into finger-thick strips. Serve with cornichons and perhaps a glass of cider.

    The Venus Sandwich
    This is another fanny-cooked classic and reputedly an aphrodisiac. (Isn't everything?) Take a French loaf and extract its doughy white innards. Drizzle with olive oil, then stuff with anchovies, stoned olives, capers, chopped tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. Wrap it tightly in cling wrap and sit on it. Again, an hour should do it just fine. Spend as much of that hour thinking lascivious thoughts, then eat it in the sack. With someone else, mind.

    Image Not AvailableDan Giraudo is director of bakery operations of San Francisco-based Boudin Bakery, whose sourdough starter dates back to 1849. Dan brings us some tasty news. The legendary San Francisco company has sent a bit of its "mother dough" down to Orange County. Located in the Carousel Court at Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza, Boudin SF serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as extensive take-out and catering menus--with special selections just for kids.

    If you're looking for the 14-day sourdough starter that Evan mentioned, you'll find it outlined in Nancy Silverton's book, Breads from the La Brea Bakery.

    Image Not AvailablePatrick Martins, whose Heritage Foods USA is doing its best to bring old breeds of pigs, cows, lambs and poultry back from near extinction, alerts us to the precarious plight of Red Wattle pigs. Only about 300 Red Wattles exist in the world, and Patrick says that if we want to save them we should eat them. (You can order them on the Heritage website.) The pork is succulent, has nice marbling, and the color of the meat is red. Patrick, who's working on a new documentary which records the farm-to-table life of a pig, recounts some of the positive, inspiring stories that are emerging around the country.

    Pork Ribs with Olives and Rosemary
    Serves 4

    • 4 lbs pork ribs, cut into individual ribs
    • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
    • 4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    • 4 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1 (15-oz) can Italian tomatoes, drained and cut in pieces
    • 1/2 cup Italian black olives
      1. Preheat the oven to 400--. Rub the ribs with salt and pepper. Place them in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Drain any liquid the ribs give off.
      2. Add the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and stir to coat the ribs. Return the pan to the oven until the garlic starts to soften, about 8 minutes, then add the white wine. When the wine reduces completely, after approximately 15 minutes, turn the rubs and add the tomatoes, distributing them evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper. Roast the ribs for another 25 minutes. Just before they are ready, add the olives. Serve immediately.

      Image Not AvailableDr. Will Clower, author of The Fat Fallacy, traces America's historic love of ice cream. Look for Dr. Will's new book, The French Don't Diet Plan: 10 Simple Steps to Stay Thin for Life. Here's the first American recipe for ice cream; written in the hand of the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

      Ice Cream
      2 bottles of good cream
      6 yolks of eggs
      half-pound sugar

      Mix the yolks and sugar. Put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla.

      When near boiling take it off and pour it gently into the mixture of eggs & sugar. Stir it well.

      Put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it's sticking to the casserole. When near boiling take it off and strain it thro' a towel.

      Put it in the Sabottiere.* Then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served. put into the ice a handful of salt. Put salt on the coverlid of the sabotiere & cover the whole with ice. Leave it still half a quarter of an hour.

      Then turn the sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes

      Open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the sabotiere. Shut it and replace it in the ice.

      Open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides. When well taken (prise) stir it well with the spatula.

      Put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee. Then put the mould into the same bucket of ice. Leave it there to the moment of serving it.

      To withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out and turn it into a plate.

      Jonathan Gold visits an elegant Chinese restaurant in Monterey Park called New Concept (626-282-6800, 700 South Atlantic Boulevard). He recommends the tea-flavored pan-fried frog; bacon-wrapped asparagus with cuttlefish corn cakes, dim sum, braised bacon with chile; and deep-fried bean curd, minced clams in a lettuce leaf.