Vegetable Love; Mexican Comfort Food; Chinese Noodles; Edible Book Art; Malibu Wine; Swedish Waffles

Hosted by
At the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, Laura Avery speaks with Barbara Spencer about her tomato plants. She also finds some cardoons at Coleman Farms. Spring onions in the market remind us to shake off the winter blahs and get ready for a little sunshine. Laura finds them at Tutti Frutti Farms and McGrath Farms, among others.

Barbara Kafka's latest book, Vegetable Love, contains both notes and recipes all about vegetables. She also includes a Cook's Guide which details how to buy, store and cook veggies, but this is not a vegetarian cookbook by any means. There are plenty of recipes that include meat.

Nettle Soup
Makes 6 1/2 cups

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
  • Leaves from 1/4 pound nettles, cut across into 1/4 inch strips (about 1 1/2 cups packed)
  • 3 medium floury potatoes (1 1/4 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large pot. Add the nettles (leaves only). Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; the water will be almost evaporated.

Add the potatoes. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the cream.

Pass the soup through a food mill fitted with a medium-coarse disc. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Parsnip Ice Cream
Makes 1 1/2 quarts

  • 2 1/4 lbs parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 6 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Combine the parsnips, 1 cup milk and the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes, or until the parsnips are very tender.

Put the parsnips, cooking liquid, the remaining 1/2 cup milk and heavy cream in a blender. Puree until very smooth. Transfer the mixture to a metal bowl. Chill, covered for 2 hours, or until cold.

Churn the parsnip mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions for about 25 minutes. Transfer to a container and store in the freezer.

Nancy Zaslavsky, author of A Cook's Tour of Mexico, shares a recipe for a Mexican "comfort soup." Nancy also runs culinary tours to Mexico. Visit her website or call 310-440-8877 for tour dates.

Sopa Seca de Fideos
Dry Soup made with Pasta Nests
Serves 3 to 4 as a casual meal, 6 as a first course
For easy tomato sauce

  • 2 jalape--o chiles
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 medium white onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 12 large, red-ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Black pepper and kosher salt to taste
  1. Toast the chiles, garlic cloves, onion and tomatoes on an ungreased hot griddle until black spots appear all over, about 10 minutes. Cool enough to handle, peel (except stemmed chiles) and put vegetables (1 chile) with their collected juices into a blender or food processor. Pur--e. Taste. Add the other chile if desired.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy pot with lid. Pour in the sauce (it splatters!) and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until it thickens and turns color. Taste for seasoning. Remove from heat.
For the pasta
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8- to 10-ounces dried Mexican fideo nests, or Italian vermicelli nests
  1. Heat the oil in a wide skillet. Place the nests in the sizzling hot oil and fry until browned, about one minute.
  2. Turn each over and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels as they finish browning.
For the dish
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsps dried Mexican oregano
  • 2/3 cup grated queso a--ejo or parmesan cheese
  1. Pour the broth into the tomato sauce and stir in the oregano.
  2. Add the browned fideo. Cook, stirring to break up the pasta nests until they are cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Some like al dente, others soft.
  3. Stir in half the cheese. Scoop onto plates and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • Fideos pancake
    Stir the browned pasta and sauce in a large, non-stick skillet, breaking up the pasta. Cover and cook 15 minutes over low heat. The pasta will absorb the sauce and become firm. Remove the cover and continue cooking until the bottom gets crisp. Cover the top with remaining grated cheese and slip the skillet under a hot broiler until the cheese is golden and bubbly hot. Slide the pasta pancake onto a cutting board and cut into wedges.
  • Smoky-spicy, richly flavored sauce
    Replace the jalape--o chiles with 1 to 3 canned, chiles chipotles en adobo. Add to the sauce 8 ozs browned chorizo meat, clumps broken up and fat drained, and 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves. Garnish each portion with a dollop of crema, cr&egrav;me fraiche or sour cream and a sprig of cilantro. Serve with Mexican lime (Key Lime) wedges.
-- Nancy Zaslavsky 2006

Lisa Deutsch of the Los Angeles Book Arts Center has an event that will really whet your appetite. The 7th Annual Edible Book Arts High/Low Tea takes place on Saturday, April 1. Co-sponsored by the Center and the City of West Hollywood, the event comtines delicious art, creative fun and an opportunity to meet the book arts community. The edible books are exhibited at 2pm and consumed at 4pm with tea. If you're interested in creating a piece of edible book art for the show, contact the Center at 310-657-2616 or email For more information and photographs of past edible book shows, visit Books2Eat.

David Rosengarten, who spoke about Chinese noodles, is the editor-in-chief of the Rosengarten Report, a newsletter covering the most exciting, undiscovered food products, restaurants, wines and travel destinations in the world. The report received the James Beard Award in 2003 as the best food and wine newsletter in the country.

In 2004, Michael Barnes founded the Malibu Wine Classic, the Malibu Small Vineyard Association and his Republic of Malibu winery. He grows and vints Syrah, Barbera, Malbec and Touriga Nacional winegrapes. This year's Malibu Wine Classic takes place on Saturday, April 1.

Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly introduces us to Rasthal Vegetarian Cuisine (2751-2755 W. Lincoln Avenue; 714-527-3800), a tasty Indian restaurant in Anaheim. He especially recommends the thali with soft basmati rice or khichdi, rice pressure-cooked with lentils, the dosas, samosas, and upma.

Swedish Waffle Day is observed on March 25 -- today! To help you celebrate in style, our own Eivor Carlson provided this simple waffle recipe.

Eivor Carlson's Frasv--fflor
Makes 8 - 10 waffles (each 5 hearts)

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tbsps butter or margarine
  • 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • Dash of salt
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Let cool. Stir together flour, water, dash of salt and cooled butter into a smooth batter. Whip the cream and fold into the batter. Let stand in refrigerator for approximately one hour. Using a Swedish-type electric waffle iron, preheat, and before the first waffle, brush the iron with melted butter. Bake each waffle 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Serve, dusted with a little sugar. Don't stack!