The Food We Want To Eat; X'otik Kitchen; Truly Vegan; Wildwood Ovens; Chef Interruptus; Truffles

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Laura Avery speaks with Edgar of Jaime Farms about his multi-colored carrots, enormous radishes, and Brussels sprouts on the stalk. Edgar says the radishes are mild this time of year and you can even eat them like an apple. He also recommends using the Brussels sprouts to make a centerpiece for your holiday table.

Laura also speaks with Armando Garcia about their Mexican pear guavas from San Diego County. He also has a large selection of key limes, Meyer lemons, and Satsuma mandarins.

Dr. Will Clower tells us that the "Not One Ounce" campaign now has 368 members. Although the focus is not to gain any additional weight through the holidays, members have already lost a total of 200 pounds since October.

This week Dr. Clower tells us to watch our snacking at the office. He gives us some strategies for avoiding all those diversions. The most important thing for us to work on is to eat only at mealtimes, not snack throughout the day. He says that we should try to drink something instead of eating, when we feel the temptation strongest.

Carl Chu, our Chinese Food Finder, has finally unearthed a "not quite Chinese" place on the west side for us to try. X'otik Kitchen's chef is a woman whom Carl says has great heart and inspiration in her dishes. There is a mixture of Indian, Chinese, and Indonesian flavors mixed with Western influences as well.

Carl recommends the Indian Spice Chicken which is flavored with mango powder and tandoori. He also really likes the sesame and lime juice marinated skirt steak.

X'otik Kitchen is a take-out and delivery restaurant which also offers catering.
X'otik Kitchen, 6121 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232 (310) 280-3961

Our new Good Food friend and Vegan/Vegetarian food finder, Michelle Sass, is in studio to tell us about Truly, a take-out restaurant that has an extensive menu of over 85 items.

Michelle tells us that we might become addicted to the Cowboy Burger, a meat-free burger that starts with margarine and cilantro to flavor the "meat". We will also like the vegan "chicken nuggets", Michelle promises, and we won't even miss the bird. She also recommends the Oriental salad, with bean noodle strings, garlic, tofu, bean sprouts, carrots, beets, and more.

Truly also offers raw living foods and shabu shabu hot pots.

Truly, A Vegan restaurant, 5907 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. (323) 466-7958. Free Delivery. Additional parking at the 76 gas station.

Michael Gerard of Wildwood Ovens tells us about the wonderful qualities of his ovens. He tells us how we can use these ovens in our outdoor gardens, and even inside in some cases.

Michael offers demonstration courses which teach people to use their ovens and prepare dishes like alder plank roasted salmon or Brazilian churrascaria. To find out more about the upcoming classes, visit the website below or call 323-255-6578.

To see the different styles of ovens, visit Michael's website

Melissa Clark, prolific cookbook co-author, has now written a cookbook on her own,Chef, Interrupted. It takes the serious, demanding recipes from celebrity chefs and breaks them down into recipes which are more accessible for the home chef.

For her simplified versions of Laurent Gras' Coffee and Cardamom Spiced Squab or Mario Batali's Mint Postcards with Spicy Lamb Sausage and Minted Pea Puree, see below.

Mint Postcards with Spicy Lamb Sausage and Minted Pea Puree

At Babbo, Mario Batali's original dish, called mint love letters, involves stuffing homemade pasta ravioli with a sweet minted pea puree. My shortcut version takes the puree out of the pasta and dollops it on top instead. You get the same ingenious flavor combination, but the whole dish is ready under an hour- less time than you'd likely spend trying to get through the deservedly popular Babbo for a reservation.

Preparation Time: 1 Hour.
Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen peas, or 2 cups fresh shelled peas
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, plus additional chopped mint for garnish
  • 1 cup (about 3 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds merguez (spicy lamb sausage), sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta
  • 1 1/3 cups (about 1/4 pound) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the peas with 1/4 cup water until they are just tender, about 2 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to a blender along with the mint, Parmesan, and cream (reserve the pea cooking water). Blend until smooth. If the puree seems too thick (it should drop from the spoon easily), blend in a little of the pea cooking water.
  3. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the merguez and saut- until brown, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a plate lined with paper towels. Toss the garlic into the pan and saut- until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer, mashing the tomatoes a bit to break them up, for 20 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and simmer until the mixture is a thick sauce, about 20 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain, add to the tomato sauce, and toss well. Remove the bay leaf. Divide the pasta among 4 to 6 plates. Dollop the pea sauce over the top of each serving, garnish with the Pecorino and mint, and serve immediately.

Coffee and Cardamom Spiced Squab
Preparation Time: 1 hour, plus 20 minutes marinating and 25 minutes roasting
Serves 4 to 6
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • Seeds from 10 cardamom pods
  • 4 squabs, 1 pound each
  • 4 cups coffee, brewed with 15 cardamom pods
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. In a blender, whirl the grapeseed oil with the cardamom seeds, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the squab in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag or two, depending upon the size of the bags you have, then add the coffee, dividing it between the two bags if necessary. Squeeze out all the air and seal the bags. Let sit for 10 minutes, then turn the bags and let rest for another 10 minutes. Pat the squab dry with a towel and place them in a roasting pan.
  3. Season the squab with salt, drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and roast for 25 minutes, flipping the squab after 10 minutes. The meat should still be a little rare, that's okay for squab.
  4. When you remove the squab from the oven, brush them all over with the cardamom oil, and preheat the broiler.
  5. To finish the dish, broil the squab until the skin turns crisp, about 2 minutes per side. You can serve each guest a whole squab or carve and portion them out.

Mort Rosenblum, author of A Goose in Toulouse and Chocoate: The Bittersweet Saga of Light and Dark, is with us tomorrow to unfold some of the mystery behind the esteemed truffle.