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Chicks are brewing their own beer says bartender and home brewer Nathalie BalandranPeter Langenstein buys wine from a negociant -- a high-priced name for a bargain situation. Mira Advani says the route to Mumbai from LA is a short drive down the freeway.  Restaurants are popping up all over LA and Lesley Balla gives us a few to try.  What can happen when you eat a can of tuna every day for five years? Bad things. Stephanie Mencimer traces the beaurocratic maze that regulates canned tuna. Chef Michael Cimarusti loves the fish soup known as boullaibase.  Kallari Chocolate's Judy Logback found that small steps can improve the lives of the Ecuadoreans who grow cacao for the company. Plus Laura Avery talks with chef DJ Olsen about blood oranges and she samples Miner's Lettuce.

Cooking Up a Storm

Marcelle Bienvenu and Judy Walker

Guest Interview Market Report 7 MIN

Lou Wine Bar chef DJ Olsen always has delicious ideas for how to make the best of local produce. He tells us about a cake made with coarse polenta or cornmeal. He uses a turkey baster to inject this dense but moist cake with lots of juice from blood oranges. It results in beautiful red and orange swirls. DJ buys reddish blood oranges from JJ's Lone Daughter Ranch. He also finds good quality coarse cornmeal in bulk at Co-opportunity, 1525 Broadway, Santa Monica.

Blood Oranges
Blood Oranges from JJ's Lone Daughter Ranch


Blood Orange Polenta Cake with Honeyed Mascarpone

8 servings
Keeps up to one week, covered, refrigerated

Pan spray
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse ground polenta
2-1/2 tsps baking powder
Pinch of salt
2oz cold unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon whole milk
1/2 tsp orange extract
Zest from 4 blood oranges
2 cups fresh squeezed blood orange juice (8-12 oranges, depending on size and juiciness)
Turkey baster fitted with a needle point

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Pan spray one 10" fluted tart or cake pan with a removable bottom.

2. Sift together flour, polenta, baking powder, salt.

3. Place butter, sugar in bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle; paddle at slow speed until combined; increase speed to high and paddle until mixture is light and fluffy (8 min).

4. Scrape down sides of work bowl. Return speed to medium-high; add eggs, one at a time, paddling each egg until combined, scraping down sides of work bowl after each addition.

5. Add milk, orange extract, orange zest; paddle until combined.

6. With machine off, add flour mixture; paddle at low speed until just combined and everything is fully incorporated.

7. Pour mixture into prepared pan; use an offset spatula to evenly smooth the top.

8. Place pan on parchment lined half sheet tray; bake 30-45 minutes, rotating pan 180° every 15 minutes to promote even browning, until top of cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch.

9. Meantime, juice the blood oranges; strain juice to remove all pulp; reserve.

10. When cake is done, remove from oven to a cooling rack.

11. Place the tip of the turkey baster into the reserved blood orange juice; fully squeeze the bulb and release it, thereby allowing blood orange juice to be pulled into the baster.

12. With the cake still warm, plunge the needle tip into the top of the cake, near the edge; fully squeeze the bulb to discharge all of the juice into the cake; repeat this process around the perimeter of the cake every inch or so, then into it's middle, in concentric circles, making 20 or so holes in all and utilizing all the juice. Let the cake cool to room temp before serving.

To serve, slice the cake into eight equal sized wedges. Garnish with a good dollop (or quenelle) of honeyed mascarpone, a dusting of powder sugar.

Honeyed Mascarpone


12 oz. mascarpone
1/4 cup sage, orange blossom or wildflower honey (more or less depending on taste)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Tiny pinch of salt

1. Combine mascarpone, honey, vanilla, salt in bowl of stand mixer.
2. Whisk at medium speed until combined and lightened.
3. Add cream; whisk med-high speed until combined and mixture has loosened. Add more cream as necessary to loosen further and achieve desired consistency and texture. Chill before serving.



Mache available at Flora Bella Farms

Miner's Lettuce

Miner's Lettuce sold at Flora Bella Farms


Farmer James Birch from Flora Bella Farms lives in Three Rivers, California. Located at the base of the Sierra Mountains, his farm is flush this time of year with Miner's lettuce. It grows under oak trees and shows up after the rains.

James is also bringing in flats of mache, the very delicate and small-leafed green. He sells them still growing in flats which can be harvested as you need them.


Music Break: Ruff Percussion by One Cut

Guest Interview Women Brewing Beer 7 MIN

Nathalie Balandran brews beer with the Pacific Gravity Ladies Homebrew Club, an offshoot of the co-ed Pacific Gravity Brew Club. The club meets monthly at Culver City Homebrew Supply store. A basic home brewing system costs $70.


Music Break: The Silver Meter by John Patton

Guest Interview Buying Wine from a Negociant 7 MIN

Peter Langenstein is the owner of Brix 26, a personalized wine consultation service based in San Francisco. Peter recommends buying wine from a negociant as a money-saving option. A negociant is a merchant who purchases wine from smaller growers and vintners. The wine is sold under the name of the negociant, not the original producer.

Some well-known French negociants include George DeBoeuf (Beaujolais), Louis Jadot (Burgundy), Guigal and Jaboulet (Rhone). Some California negociants include: Cameron Hughes (sold at Costco), Castle Rock (sold at Trader Joes), Charles Shaw (sold at Trader Joes).

Peter recommends these negociant wines:

Palazzo 2006 Proprietary Red Napa Valley ($55)
L.A.-based former music video producer Scott Palazzo sources this Bordeaux-style blend from vineyards in Carneros for his label to produce one of the most balanced Cabernet blends.
Orin Swift 2007 The Prisoner Napa Valley ($34.99) and Orin Swift 2007 “Saldo” Zinfandel ($27.99)
The negociant label “par excellence,” owner and winemaker Dave Phinney has done a phenomenal job sourcing from great vineyards all over California for these delicious blends that contain varying amounts of Zinfandel and interesting labels.

Coho 20007 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($45)
Owner Brooks Painter and  Gary Lipp, who also works at Chappelet and is able to make their wine there, started their own label called Coho and are making beautiful Merlot-based reds and this great new Pinot Noir sourced from the Russian River Valley.

Twenty Bench 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($19.99)
Nine North Wine Company is like a giant negociant winery that’s created a collection of reasonably priced wines and the Twenty Bench Napa Valley Cabernet is always one of our best buys.

Jax 2006 Y3 Chardonnay Napa Valley ($20)
Sourced from Atlas Peak and Oak Knoll district, the Y3 is a great value in Napa Chardonnay.


Music Break: Somethin' Else by Cannonball Adderley

Guest Interview Finding Mumbai in L.A. 7 MIN

Indian Food


Los Angeles is a sister city to Mumbai, India, which explains the rapidly expanding Little India, a section off of Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia. There you can find Indian ice cream -- both the Kulfi and Falooda varieties -- among many other snacks. Mumbai cuisine is known for its seafood and snacks.

Mira Advani Honeycutt is the chairperson of the Los Angelels-Mumbai Sister City Affiliation. When Mira isn't cooking her own Indian food or eating in Artesia, she likes to eat at <Flavor of India in West Hollywood and Surya on West Third.

Saffron Kulfi Pops


From IndiaSnacks.com

1 1/2 qt whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/16 tsp powdered saffron or 1/8 tsp saffron threads
1 Tablespoon boiling water
8 paper cups, parchment or waxed paper
8 ice cream sticks (optional)

In a 6-8 quart pan over high heat, stir milk and sugar until simmering. Over medium-high heat, boil until reduced to 2 cups, 25-35 minutes, stirring often; slide pan partially off heat if milk threaten to boil over. Let cool; to speed cooling, set pan in ice water.

Place saffron in a small bowl. Add boiling water, stir, and let stand for 5 minutes. Break up threads with a small spoon. Scrape mixture into warm reduced milk mixture.

Set paper cups in a rimmed pan. Or, to make cones, cut 8 pieces of parchment or waxed paper into 7-1/2" squares. Fold each piece in half to make a triangle. With long edge toward you, bring one of the 45' angles to the top of the triangle, and then roll toward other angle. To close hole at bottom, starting from the top, press one inside sheet to the opposite side. Tape the cone in a few places to hold it together. Support each cone, pointed end down, in a cup slightly taller than the cone; set cups in a rimmed pan.

Divide milk mixture among cups or cones. Freeze until kulfi is thick but not hard, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Then, if desired, push an ice cream stick into each container. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours longer. To eat, peel off paper. To store, seal kulfi (still in cups or cones) in a large plastic bag; freeze for up to 2 weeks.


Music Break: Soul Shack by Sonny Stitt & Jack McDuff

Guest Interview Tasting Table Finds 7 MIN

Lesley Balla is the L.A. Editor for Tasting Table, a daily email newsletter spotlighting restaurants around town. Since joining Tasting Table, Lesley has been surprised by a number of spots including Church & State (1850 Industrial St.), owned by Steven Arroyo (of Cobras and Matadors). The chef, Walter Manzke, completes, what <Lesley calls, a most unusual restaurant pairing. Lesley recommends the escargot.

For her Classic Tables column, she recently featured Carlitos Gardel (7963 Melrose Ave.), the Argentinian steakhouse on Melrose. For drinks, she loves Rivera (1050 S. Flower St.), owned by John Sedlar. They have their own house tequila, grown and distilled in Mexico. Enjoy a glass in Eddie Sotto-designed tequila chairs.


Music Break: Spiritual Wife by Reno Isaac

Guest Interview Mercury in Canned Tuna 7 MIN

Stephanie Mencimer is a writer for Mother Jones. A recent article she wrote about a woman's mystery illness describes a complex and baffling maze of regulatory bureaucracy. After eating canned tuna every day for years, Deborah Landvik-Fellner's hair began falling out and she experienced painful and strange symptoms. A blood test revealed that she had ten times the level of mercury deemed safe by the EPA. In 2006, Landvik-Fellner sued Tri-Union Seafoods (owner of Chicken of the Sea tuna). The case revealed a disparity in EPA and FDA mercury safety levels. Landvik-Fellner's case is still making its way through the courts.


Music Break: Step Lightly by Bobby Hutcherson

Guest Interview Bouillabaisse 7 MIN

Michael Cimarusti is the chef/owner of Providence (5955 Melrose Ave.), where they sometimes have bouillabaisse on the menu. This French soup is traditionally from Marseille and contains various types of fish and shellfish. The soup is topped off with croutons and rouille, a pesto made from bread, soaked in fish broth and emulsified with extra virgin olive oil. The rouille is then seasoned with saffron, red chilli. It can be stirred into the bouillabaisse broth or spread on the crouton.


Music Break: Sweets For by MC 900 Ft. Jesus

Guest Interview Conscious Chocolate 7 MIN

Judy Logback is a co-founder of the Kallari Association, a co-operative of 850 indigenous cacao farmers and producers in the Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Kichwa people grow, harvest and produce the chocolate under the Kallari label. All the proceeds from Kallari chocolate bars go straight to the indigenous group. Find Kallari chocolate at Whole Foods. Read more about Kallari.

Fermented Cacao


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