Posted on December 28, 2015
“This is the worst pie I’ve ever tasted.” -my Dad.
How’s that for an enticement? Do keep in mind that my Dad said this after eating a bite of my mother’s pumpkin pie which is always sublime, and keep in mind that my Dad is a little bit set in his ways. I’m thinking if he sees a white pie, he’s thinking cheesecake, and that’s not what he got here.
My husband, however, ate his whole piece and proclaimed it delicious. He is the best Santa’s elf ever! Always such a good sport, will try any crazy thing I cook up.
This pie is an heirloom Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, with German, Quaker and Mennonite roots. It is a very simple recipe and, I think, makes for a very delicious pie. It sort of reminds me of a ricotta cheesecake but with more texture and without the graham crust. You have to be prepared to taste a little bit of savory/sour, along with the sweet, and I think it’s best eaten on its own and not after a bite of pumpkin pie.
I made this pie for Christmas Eve dinner, and also to bring to Fiesta Friday #100. Stay tuned because I’ll be bringing more! Happy Anniversary to everybody who’s been a part of Fiesta Friday and as always I send my gratitude and thanks to Angie for making this all possible.
Posted on December 5, 2015
If you were wondering what I have been doing the past few months, the title of this post covers a lot of ground towards the answer. In addition to visiting a slew of mostly newly-opened, but also older, donut shops in Los Angeles, I’ve also moved jobs twice which has compromised my commitment to blogging.
Donuts have a special place in my heart, even though I am not a true sweet tooth, but more of a savory tooth. When I was a child, on Saturdays my mom used to drive a mile or so down Montana Avenue in Santa Monica to Carl’s Bakery, a small bakery that carried very basic donuts. My donut of choice was the glazed twist. Occasionally I would get a chocolate glazed, raised donut instead. We were not cake donut eaters, we stuck with the yeasted, raised donuts. So donuts signaled a departure from the normal daily breakfast which usually, at our house, involved either pancakes, french toast, waffles, date bread, biscuits, sometimes some bacon, and occasionally cold cereal with milk. Fruit may have been offered, but I don’t remember much beyond orange juice. Clearly, not bad, but still donuts were better!
As I got older I developed a fondness for Trader Joe’s bran muffins and into my later teens I was drinking smoothies and shakes for breakfast, with some fruit. I spent one summer trying very hard to slim down before college by drinking Herbalife shakes (my mom tried them too) until my father, after watching a late night exposé on the company that revealed in his opinion some nefarious practices and possibly quackery, purged our cupboards of all the shakes and supplements and that was the end of that adventure. But back to donuts.
These days our donut tradition is on Christmas Day. Nearly everything is closed, but Stan’s Donuts in Westwood, CA, home to the UCLA campus, is not. And so we go. Some years my beautiful (and . . . vegan!) neice Katy is in town and she accompanies us. Stan has been making donuts for forever, and he’s 86 and still shows up to work every day. What’s neat about Stan’s is he’s named various donuts after local icons, for example, the late Huell Howser donut is a VERY thickly peanut butter stuffed chocolate bar and the Bruin is glazed cake donut covered in blue and yellow sprinkles.
First let’s take a look at Stan’s and some other classic, iconic Los Angeles donut shops and their creations:
Now on to some newer donut emporiums:
The best new donut shop in LA in my opinion is Blue Star Donuts. They use brioche dough and fry in rice bran oil. Yum.
We met the “Duke of Donuts” on opening day at Sidecar Donuts in Santa Monica. He explained that his mission in life is to eat and report on donuts. I said, “what about biscuits,” and he said, ” . . . eh, peasant food.”
I’d love to hear from you and your donut opinions. Are you a cake donut gal? Raised? Apple fritter? What are some of your favorite donut shops where you live? Have you ever made donuts at home? Any tips or cautions?
Have a very happy holiday season, y’all!!
Posted on February 4, 2015
Have you ever eaten heirloom beans, cooked slowly with nothing but water and maybe a bay leaf? If it doesn’t sound too appetizing, scout some out . . . . you are in for a big surprise. Here in California we are lucky to have easy access to Rancho Gordo heirloom beans. Not only do they have an astounding number of beans including Red Nightfall, Yellow Indian Woman, Vallarta, Tepary (Brown and White), Santa Maria Pinquito, Rio Zape, Ojo de Cabra, Black Calypso, Vaquero, Yellow Eye, Good Mother Stallard, Lilo, Ayocote Blanco, Sangre de Toro, Flor de Junio, Bayo Chocolate . . . you get the picture . . . but their newsletter is always a fun and informative read.
I thought using heirloom beans would be a great starting point for my guest post for my dear friend Elaine over at Foodbod. I started following Elaine immediately upon reading her “About” page and the moving story of how a tragedy brought her to appreciate life and ultimately find peace with her own body and a new relationship with food. Elaine, despite being a vegetarian, loyally favorited my posts and commented on them, even though they were full of bacon and burgers. We’ve always shared a love of roasted vegetables both whole and “mushed,” especially cauliflower and eggplant, or as Elaine calls it, “aubergine,” and Elaine is the master of mezze. And yet now, a year later, my cooking is meeting up with Elaine’s in a more vegetarian inspired slant. I’m not eating near as many burgers or rashers of bacon since my husband and I started our 40 day yoga challenge (I’ll post about that later), and it’s been so helpful to have Elaine’s blog as a recipe guide and inspiration.
I settled on soup for these beans, but not a pureed soup. I wanted to taste and chew the whole beans. I found the most unusual recipe calling for white beans in the recent tome of a cookbook, Mexico: The Cookbook, by Margarita Carrillo Arronte. I was asked to review the book and I must say that many of the recipes look very good, but I am annoyed by the lack of headnotes. There are no headnotes to any of the recipes, which means you don’t get historical or other background information. Not cool.
The recipe called for toasted sesame seeds, masa, chayote, squash blossoms and mint. I added my own touches — a dollop of jalapeno pepper pesto, a squeeze of lime, and a hibiscus flower. My husband went koo koo for this soup, although I must warn you, as good as it is, it ain’t diet food. You may not eat for a couple of days after a bowl of this stuff. In fact, just for fun I added up all of the calories and it rivals a truck driver’s Thanksgiving plate including dessert. But you do get a heck of a lot of nutrients and it really hits the spot on a cold winter evening, so do give it a try! If you don’t want the truckdriver’s waistline, you could easily use less sesame seed and masa, even less beans, and more broth and vegetables.
As I was cooking up the Ayocote Blanco beans for the featured soup, periodically I tasted them for doneness and I simply could not believe the flavor and texture — buttery, earthy and creamy. No chalkiness or insipid metal flavor, just delicious intact plump beans in a savory broth. I easily could have eaten a bowl solo for dinner. The Ayocote Blanco beans I bought are part of Rancho Gordo’s Xoxoc project that helps small farmers grow their indigenous crops in Mexico, despite international trade policies that seem to discourage genetic diversity and local food traditions.
Here’s the recipe:
Pascal de Frijol (Bean Pascal)
1. Grind toasted sesame seeds in a blender or food processor. Mix masa with 1/2 cup water, stir well, and add to sesame seeds. Stir well.
2. Pour 4 1/2 cups water into a saucepan, add beans and onion, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add masa and sesame mixture to beans and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chayote, squash flowers, cilantro, and mint, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes. Stir in sriracha.
4. Ladle into bowls and squeeze half a lime over each portion. Enjoy!
Note: you can also add a touch of apple cider vinegar to your soup as I often do with bean soups, it cuts the heaviness and I think it helps digestion too. Also, if you have any pesto on hand or some chopped nuts, dollop a scoop onto the top for some added texture.
Posted on February 1, 2015
With a bounty of roses in our front yard I decided to make an Ayurvedic recipe for Rose Petal Spread, also known as Gulkand, Read More