Christmas Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

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Christmas Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

We’re looking towards another Christmas and, despite myself, I’ve made Chocolate-Ginger Cookies for the holiday cookie season. That same time of year when I tell myself (year-after-year) that I’m just not going to bother. I don’t mean I’m not going to bother with the holidays. Though it’s fun to insinuate it just to watch the Scroogey glances shoot my way.

Nope, it’s not that. My halls will be decked with a little Christmas cheer and our menorah is ready to go. It’s the Christmas cookies I always try to avoid. It’s the fuss and muss most Christmas cookies require more than the yuletide yummies themselves that tempt me to skip the sugar and spice each year. Too much sugar, messy food dyes, sticky counters lined with neat little piles of cookies tied up in red and green ribbons. I don’t think so– I try to tell myself– it’s just not my style.

Ha-Ha-Ha!

Or should I say Ho-Ho-Ho? Because behold I bring you good tidings of great sugary joy in the form of Chocolate-Ginger Cookies anyway.

These Chocolate-Ginger Cookies (from Susan Spungen and NYT) are perfect for the season– rich, spicy and most importantly delicious. Christmas cookie purists may disagree because these cookies aren’t frosted, painted, or blitzed in sprinkles. You can’t roll them out and cut them into fancy shapes. They might look like turds if you tried to hang them on the tree. Still, I think the indulgent amount of ginger helps transform these cookies into Christmas essentials.

So go ahead. Spin a dreidle, raise a glass, or bake some cookies. Happy Holidays. GREG

Christmas Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

Chocolate-Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 24Source Susan SpungenPublished
Chocolate-Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 45 gram all-purpose flour (about ⅓-cup)
  • 30 gram Dutch-processed cocoa powder (about ⅓-cup)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 ounce bittersweet (70 %) chocolate (broken or chopped into pieces and divided)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 100 gram granulated sugar (about ½-cup)
  • 55 gram light brown sugar (about ¼-cup)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 70 gram candied ginger slices (thinly sliced crosswise)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Combine 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate and the butter in a small heatproof bowl that fits on top of a small saucepan without falling in. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in the saucepan over high, reduce to a simmer, then set the bowl on top. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Remove bowl from the saucepan to cool slightly.

Combine eggs, granulated sugar and light brown sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on medium speed to combine, scraping down the sides once. Increase speed to high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the ginger and vanilla. Beat to combine.

Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat on medium speed to combine. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer, scrape sides and fold a few times to make sure everything is well combined. Add the 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips and fold to combine.

Use a small cookie scoop to scoop dough (which will be pretty runny) into generous 1-tablespoon portions. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, setting each scoop 3 inches apart. Top each cookie with a good pinch of candied ginger. Bake until the surface is crinkled and edges are firm, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Let cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool further. Scoop any remaining dough onto one of the baking sheets — it’s O.K. to reuse the parchment — and repeat. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie with Persimmon and Spice Compote

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Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie

Although it’s been 3 weeks since I last posted I want you to know that it’s Thanksgiving and I’m giving thanks for this little blog. It keeps me sane sometimes, even though I don’t give it all the care and feeding it’s been used to all these years. Still, I couldn’t let the holiday pass without pie. Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie.

I can’t remember who introduced me to Brown Sugar Pie. I’ve had so many versions that they all seem to run together in my mind. There’s the version made with cream, and the improved version made with buttermilk. I even recall a version so delicious that my host (and my date for the evening), after cutting a tiny slice for me, proceeded to demolish the rest of the pie straight from the tin. “Damn fine pie” I recall him mimicking from a Twin Peaks quote popular at the time.

In this version, I combined both ideas and made mine with sour cream. The sweet and sour tang seems to fit my mood and the mood of the holiday we’re about to celebrate.

Thanksgiving Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie

It’s Thanksgiving and I have to wonder, can you carve a turkey without a knife? Could cranberries be weaponized? Do basters ever get shoved where the sun don’t shine? You don’t need a crystal ball to see that this holiday is going to be contentious for some families. Sure, there’s always been that drunk uncle (usually me) who pushes the political envelope a little too loudly. But this year a lot of tables are going to be elbow-to-elbow in “drunk uncle” bravado and there’s plenty of topical fuel to exacerbate the sparring. Especially if you find yourself a blue sheep in a mostly red flock (or vice versa).

Thank God there’s (damn fine!) Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie this year. I may just eat it straight from the tin. GREG

Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie

Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Published
Sour Cream Brown Sugar Pie

Ingredients

  • raw pie pastry (enough to line one 9-inch pie pan)
  • 1 ½ cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • ¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sour cream (at room temperature)
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted and cooled to room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • fruit compote (as topping, optional)

Directions

Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400ºF.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle, about ⅛-inch thick. Carefully transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate and gently press it up the sides. Drape any excess crust over the edge, then fold under and crimp decoratively. Use a fork to prick holes in the bottom of the dough. Chill for at least twenty minutes.

Line the chilled pie pan with parchment or foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and parchment or foil, then continue baking for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the crust is dry and pale-colored. Remove from the oven and set aside on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, cornmeal, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl mix the sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla together until no lumps appear. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir vigorously until the brown sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the partially baked pie shell.

Transfer the pie, on its baking sheet, to the 350ºF oven. Bake until the custard is barely set and a little puffy, about 45 minutes. Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature with a scoop of fruit compote (if using) on the top of each slice.

Persimmon and Spice Compote

Persimmon Compote

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Martha Stewart LivingPublished
Persimmon Compote

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Moscato wine
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 4 Fuyu persimmons (peeled, cored and cut into bite-size wedges)

Directions

Bring wine, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer until thickened, about 7 minutes. Add persimmons. Simmer, covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer fruits to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Cook syrup until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour over persimmons. Let cool. Refrigerate until chilled (up to 2 days).

Pork and Pineapple Tacos. That’s a Post!

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Pork and Pineapple Adobo Tacos

I ate these Pork and Pineapple Adobo Tacos weeks ago. I was so inspired by Ben Mims’ Los Angeles Times recipe for Adobo Roast Pork Shoulder with Pickled Pineapple Salad that I quite literally went out that same day and shopped the recipe. Once I had made the dish I couldn’t stop myself from serving his creation in taco form. I even took a few pictures intending to post my collaboration.

But then something happened to all of my good intentions. I think they call it life.

Sure, I still had the photos (and the memories of those adobo tacos) but I didn’t have much to say.

That’s because I think of pork and pineapple as an awkward duo. Too many slightly queasy adolescent glances across the pizza parlor I suppose.

I’m referring to the awkward pairing of ham and pineapple with the even more unlikely name of Hawaiian Pizza. Even as one of those teenage boys whom biology had predisposed to eat just about anything I thought pineapple was just too weird a pizza topping.

Then I grew into a man and I discovered Al Pastor Tacos. Shards of pork bathed in a chile sauce, dripping with pork fat and roasted pineapple juice– the meat neatly folded into a corn tortilla. Suddenly it was if this pairing had always been meant to sit side-by-side.

Pork and Pineapple Adobo Tacos

Well, I’m leaving for Mexico for a few days. The land where Pork and Pineapple Al Pastor first found it’s way into my heart (via my belly). Naturally, I dug up these photos.

I’m still not so sure that I have too much to say, but I did manage to (not) say it in 300 words. According to Google, that’s exactly enough for a post! GREG

Pork and Pineapple Adobo Tacos

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 10-12Source Adapted from Ben Mims for the LA TimesPublished
Pork and Pineapple Adobo Tacos

Ingredients

  • salt and pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder (about 4 ½ pounds)
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ pound peeled and cored fresh pineapple (cut into ½-inch chunks, divided)
  • 24 clove peeled garlic
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 3 cup apple cider vinegar (plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 red chile pepper (such as Fresno, thinly sliced)
  • cumin-spiced pepitas (optional, see recipe)
  • fresh mint leaves (optional, as garnsih)

Directions

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Generously rub the pork all over with salt and pepper. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 3 days in advance. Allow the pork to come to room temperature before continuing.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the seasoned meat to the pot and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove the pork to a plate leaving the fat in the pan.

Place about half of the pineapple into the hot pan. It should sizzle. Add the garlic and bay leaves. Cook, undisturbed, for 30 seconds, then lightly crush pineapple with a spoon and stir it around to pick up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Continue cooking until the pineapple, garlic and bay leaves are well caramelized in spots, about 2 minutes more. Pour the 3 cups vinegar, soy sauce, and water and scrape the bottom of the pot while stirring to pick up the browned bits.

Return the meat to the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pot, place it in the oven and cook for 3 hours, or until the pork is falling-apart tender and the sauce is reduced by about half.

While the pork cooks, place the remaining pineapple into a bowl along with the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, chopped mint, honey, and as much of the sliced chile as you like. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To serve, remove the pot from the oven and let the pork rest for 10 minutes. Using tongs, twist and break apart the meat into large chunks; remove and discard the interior bone. Gently stir the meat to coax chunks of pineapple and garlic on top of the pork, making sure it’s well-coated in the sauce.

Serve the pork with on tortillas topped with the pickled pineapple and garnished with cumin-spiced pepitas and fresh mint leaves (if using).

Cumin-Spiced Pepitas

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Cooking LightPublished
Cumin-Spiced Pepitas

Ingredients

  • ½ cup green pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt (to taste)

Directions

Combine pepitas, cumin, and oil in a bowl; toss to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add pumpkin seed mixture to skillet, and toast, stirring often until lightly browned 2 to 3 minutes.

Scrape the pepitas onto a paper towel-lined plate in as close to a single layer as possible. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and set aside. Once completely cool place them in a small covered bowl. Store them at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Simply Italian Great Wines: Pinot Grigio

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Simply Italian Great Wines: Pinot Grigio

The Simply Italian Great Wines Tour, 2019, at the SLS Hotel, West Hollywood, was a rapid carousel of peaches and pears, violets and cherries, honeysuckle and linden blossom. Starting at 10 am with a yawn and eight glasses of Pinot Grigio, Ken and I spent a glorious day by invitation spinning between tasting seminars.

I usually think of Pinot Grigio as a safe choice wine because of its fresh flavors, food-friendly acidity, and wallet-friendly price point. It is an easy Summer tipple to drink with cheesy snacks, but I don’t usually take it very seriously. This seminar changed my thinking somewhat. We tasted a diverse array of 2018 Pinot Grigios from the D.O.C. Delle Venezie, each with its own very distinct characteristics but all with the through-line of acidity and minerality typical for the region. A little look at my tasting notes illustrates the kind of variety we were treated to:

Di La-Vis  Pinot Grigio

Kroger, from Cantina Di La-Vis. This is a dry mountain wine with refreshing youthful effervescence. It delivers apples and pears on the nose, minerals, and spice on the palate, and releases a little brine on the finish. A winner that retails for only $8.99.

Pinot Grigio Villa San Martino, from Cantina Di Bertiolo S.P.A.

Villa San Martino, from Cantina Di Bertiolo S.P.A. Aromas of white peach and biscuits, dissolve into pithy citrus fruit on the palate with a subtle hint of almonds on the finish. This wine would complement Asian dishes perfectly.

Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie from Bidoli. This is a salmon pink white wine, as distinct from a rosé. The color is achieved by leaving the juice on the skins for about six hours. I wonder how many people would identify this as a white wine with their eyes closed. I am not sure I would be able to as there is a distinct hint of strawberries on the palate that I associate with rosé wine… and yet, the mouth-watering wet stone minerals tell another story. This is a very interesting tipple.

Dorsiduro Pino Grigio

Ai Palazzi Dorsoduro from Masottina, for me, is the most complex of the wines tasted. The nose is fragrant with honeysuckle and herbs. It is blended with a small amount of Chardonnay (The DOC requires that at least 85% of the varietal composition must be Pinot Grigio. All the previous wines mentioned use 100%). This combination leans in towards the Chardonnay, to provide a strong backbone of apples, pears, and citrus fruits with a rich toasted almond finish. By contrast, Ecco Domani, a supermarket favorite, also cuts a tiny (5%) percentage of Chardonnay into the bottle but I wouldn’t have known that by taste alone. Here the nose is delicate chamomile but the palate is bright with kiwi-berries and raunchy acidity.

 Pinot Grigio 2018 DOC Friuli Grave from Albino Armani

In a different seminar, Fresh and Fun Wines from Fruili, #TheSparklingLife, we tasted Pinot Grigio 2018 DOC Friuli Grave from Albino Armani. Round, dense, approachable and delicious notes of ripe Bartlett pear and yellow apples mingle with hints of toasted almonds and salty stone. It’s from the wrong DOC for purists, perhaps, but I absolutely loved it and I have a much greater respect for the Pinot Grigio grape than I did going into this day. HELEN

Tayson Pierce: Rothchild Rosé and Lobster, It’s a Wrap

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Tayson Pierce Rothchild Rosé paired with Grilled Lobster Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Remoulade and Pomegranate

An invitation to taste through the new line of Tayson Pierce single-vineyard, limited production Napa Valley wines, paired with Wally’s Santa Monica Executive Chef Ryan Kluver’s gourmet cuisine, came at just the right time.

I’ve been somewhat down lately. It seems to me that good ol’ common sense has gone out the window– disrupting everything from what’s politically acceptable to what’s environmentally necessary. Our views are polarized and most people are unwilling to cross the aisle. Well, I decided to breach one of my own boundaries and cross La Cienega Boulevard (LA’s east-west dividing line whose crossing represents a real commitment).

Estate Proprietor Taylor Rothchild graciously hosted the evening and introduced the history and distinctive qualities of each of his wines. He began by telling us that the brand name Tayson Pierce is a mash-up of his and his brothers’ names: Taylor, Grayson, and Pierce. Taylor followed in his father Eric’s winemaking footsteps (foot stomps?) and traveled to France, Italy, Greece, and Croatia to broaden his oenological experience. Once settled back in Rutherford, California, Taylor introduced a line of vintage, NV and Rosé Champagnes (produced in France of course) and crafted the wine we’ll explore in this post, the Rothchild Rosé.

Champagne Éric Philippe

But first, a few words about Champagne Éric Philippe. I was especially taken with the Extra Brut, made from a blend of Grand Cru and Premier Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The toasty notes of brioche, almonds and green apple along with a healthy dose of acidity loudly spoke French to me. I found it a delightful, true representation of classic, slightly funky Champagne flavors– enhanced by a low 1% dosage (added sugar) to naturally express terroir. My favorite of the three Champagnes we tasted.

Tayson Pierce Rothchild Rosé

2017 is the first vintage of the Tayson Pierce Rothchild Rosé. A lovely salmon color, the wine is primarily composed of Grenache with the support of Carignan and a soupçon of Syrah. If you’ve read my past posts here on Sippity Sup, you know that I love Rhône varietals. This blend does not disappoint. Neither did Greg’s recreation of Chef Ryan’s Grilled Lobster Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Remoulade and Pomegranate.

Seafood cries out (unfortunate lobster connotation) for a wine with a fair amount of acid and minerality. The Rothchild Rosé is bright and somewhat saline, with a distinctly round and juicy mouthfeel. Citrus and stone fruit flavors, with tart raspberry notes from the Grenache, complement the pomegranate arils in the wrap. The wine’s bracing acidity, along with fresh crunchy lettuce, cuts through the succulent texture of the lobster and the rich celery root remoulade. This new Rothchild Rosé is elegant and rich, with layered lingering flavors and a nice weight. Yum! I do feel better. KEN

Tayson Pierce Rothchild Rosé paired with Grilled Lobster Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Remoulade and Pomegranate
Grilled Lobster Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Remoulade and Pomegranate

Grilled Lobster Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Remoulade and Pomegranate

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Adapted from Chef Ryan KluverPublished
Grilled Lobster Lettuce Wraps with Sesame Remoulade and Pomegranate

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon tahini
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • ½ cup sesame oil
  • salt and pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 4 (6 to 8 oz) raw lobster tails
  • 1 celery root (peeled and cut into fine julienned "matchsticks")
  • ¼ olive oil
  • 8 whole little gem lettuce leaves
  • 8 whole baby red butter lettuce leaves (or similar red lettuce)
  • 8 whole parilla sesame leaves (you may also use shiso leaves)
  • micro-green or fresh baby herbs (as needed for garnish)
  • 2-3 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

Directions

Make the sesame remoulade: In a medium bowl combine tahini, lemon juice, Dijon and whole-grain mustard. Whisk until smooth and then begin to slowly add the sesame oil, whisking the whole time, until emulsified and thick. You might not use all of the oil, use your judgment. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss julienned celery root with just enough of the sesame remoulade mixture to coat. Set aside up to 2 hours in advance.

Just before serving heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high.

Leaving the lobster in its shell cut the lobster tails in half lengthwise. Brush the exposed flesh with olive oil and season them with salt, and pepper. Run a skewer lengthwise through each tail section to keep it straight while grilling. Set the tails aside while prepping the serving plates with the rest of the ingredients.

Create the lettuce wraps by placing a green little gem lettuce leaf onto the center of each of 8 salad plates, top each with a baby red butter lettuce leaf, and then a sesame leaf. Scatter a few fresh micro-greens on top of the lettuce stacks.

When ready to serve grill the lobster tails flesh side down for approximately 5 minutes, then flip for another 3 or 4 minutes until cooked through. Quickly remove the tail meat from the shells and place them together in a large bowl. Gently toss with pomegranate molasses. Season lightly with salt and pepper if you like.

Top each of the lettuce stacks with one section of lobster tail, about 2 heaping spoonfuls of the celery root mixture, a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and a few more fresh micro-greens. Serve immediately, encouraging the diner to pick the wraps up and eat them out of hand.

Turmeric and Cauliflower: A Soup Made for the Season

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Velvety Turmeric and Cauliflower Soup

Just like that and I’ve turned the seasonal page. It’s Chilled Dragon’s Tongue Beans followed by Celery and Jicama Salad one week. Then, with barely a look backward, I’ve got a coolseason soup featuring Turmeric and Cauliflower.

Not that it’s exactly cool in Los Angeles.

But it’s not really hot either.

In fact, it’s perfect. Blue skies, cool nights and warm days. I love autumn in Southern California.

Turmeric and Cauliflower Soup

What I’m trying to say is soup-season is more of a state-of-mind where I live – and in my mind it’s soup-season.

This first soup of the season is rich with the colors and flavors we associate with fall. Vibrant yellow with a cream-free velvety texture and fragrant cumin-spiced pepitas. I think turmeric pairs fantastically with cauliflower and most other winter produce. Its brightness, astringency, and tart character balance the earthy sweetness of these vegetables.

A Few Cooking Notes

Make sure you take the time to create a slurry with the flour and stock before you add either to the pot. The creamy dairy-free texture comes about once this slurry is heated. Of course, you can use plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream (or skip it altogether) if you prefer a truly dairy-free version of this soup. Briefly cooking the pumpkin seeds and cumin in hot oil – a process known as blooming – draws out the aroma of the seeds and spices and deepens their flavor. Which is perfect for the season. GREG

Cumin-Spiced Pepitas

Cumin-Spiced Pepitas

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Cooking LightPublished
Cumin-Spiced Pepitas

Ingredients

  • ½ cup green pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt (to taste)

Directions

Combine pepitas, cumin, and oil in a bowl; toss to coat. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add pumpkin seed mixture to skillet, and toast, stirring often until lightly browned 2 to 3 minutes.

Scrape the pepitas onto a paper towel-lined plate in as close to a single layer as possible. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and set aside. Once completely cool place them in a small covered bowl. Store them at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Velvety Turmeric and Cauliflower Soup

Velvety Turmeric and Cauliflower Soup

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Adapted from Cooking LightPublished
Velvety Turmeric Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 8-10 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon ground tumeric
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 cup vegetable stock (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 heads of cauliflower (cut into florets)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • cumin-spiced pepitas (optional, see recipe)
  • sour cream (optional)

Directions

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add turmeric, and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour and about 1 cup stock in a small bowl until smooth.

Pour the flour-stock mixture into the soup pot. Add salt, cauliflower florets, and remaining 3 cups stock. Turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is very tender about 20 minutes.

In batches, place soup in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in lid. Process on high until smooth. Return soup to the pot and gently warm it to serving temperature. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, and white pepper.

Serve in bowls; garnish with pumpkin seeds and sour cream (if using).

Celery Leaf Pesto: Time Well Spent

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Chicken and Jicama Salad with Celery Leaf Pesto

I made Celery Leaf Pesto because I spend a lot of time at home these days. My duties as a caregiver for my MIL mean I often have hours on my hands where I have nothing much to do. However, I need to be able to drop whatever I’m doing at a moment’s notice. So I’m always looking for tasks that can be stopped and started at that same moment’s notice.

Things like Celery Leaf Pesto can keep my hands busy but allow me to keep my mind on my responsibilities.

Celery Leaf Pesto

That’s because Celery Leaf Pesto requires no great skill. It does, however, require you to sit in one place and remove the leaves individually from stalks of celery. Much like shucking beans it can be a bore if you let it. So I try not to let it. I have a fabulous interior life…

Of course, if you say the word pesto it won’t be long before an Italian food connoisseur in your exterior life will declare the basil-centric pesto alla Genovese as the only true pesto. But don’t worry because the name pesto is derived from the Italian word pestare (to pound or crush). So as long as you can pound it or crush it then I say – there is no such thing as the one true pesto. Because pesto can be unexpected. It can be creative. It can be made with celery leaves that have been patiently plucked one-by-one until you have a great big delicious pile. GREG

PS: It doesn’t have to be served with pasta either. You can serve pesto on (or in) anything.

Chicken and Jicama Salad with Celery Leaf Pesto

Chicken and Jicama Salad with Celery Pesto

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Inspired by Nancy SilvertonPublished

Use the pesto immediately or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two days — any longer and it will lose its pretty green color and vibrant flavor.

Chicken and Jicama Salad with Celery Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more if needed)
  • ¼ ounce flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 ounce celery leaves (light green leaves are best, divided)
  • 1-2 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast (about ounces, cut into 3/4-inch dice)
  • 1 pound fresh jicama (cut into 3/4-inch dice)
  • 3 stalks celery (cut into ¼-inch slices on an extreme bias)
  • 4 scallions (cut into ¼-inch slices on an extreme bias, both white and green parts)
  • 8 ounce burrata (optional)
  • 3-4 fresh sprigs tarragon (leaves only)
  • whole lettuce leaves (for serving, optional)

Directions

To make the celery pesto: Combine the pine nuts, garlic, salt, and about half of the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the parsley and pulse until it is finely chopped. Turn off the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add about two-thirds of the celery leaves, the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining olive oil and purée, stopping as soon as the ingredients form a homogenous, but not too smooth paste, and adding more olive oil if necessary to obtain a loose, spoonable pesto. Cover and set aside. (see notes).

To assemble the salad: Combine diced chicken, diced jicama, sliced celery, and sliced scallions in a large bowl. Drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons celery pesto (or more to taste). Toss to combine.

Pile the salad in the center of a large serving plate. If you are using burrata, nestle it in the center of the salad. Use the back of a spoon to create a shallow crater in the center and spoon more pesto into the crater. Garnish with remaining celery leaves and tarragon leaves, and serve it “taco-style” wrapped in lettuce leaves, if you like.

Dragon’s Tongue Beans: Charred and Chilled

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Spicy Charred and Chilled Dragon's Tongue Beans

Isn’t this a pretty bean? It’s a sweet bean too, with a fierce name. Dragon Tongue is a ”Romano” bean, which means its pods are flat rather than round. Though technically it’s still a wax bean (another questionable name) because its pods have a yellow background.

This is a summertime recipe. At least in Los Angeles. That’s because I never see Dragon’s Tongue or other types of wax beans at the Hollywood Farmers Market until the last dog days descend. I also consider this recipe as a warm-weather friend because it’s served chilled. Well, charred and then chilled.

Dragon's Tongue Beans

Charred Dragon’s Tongue Beans? Isn’t that just another way to say burnt beans?

Burnt food. It used to be the mark of a distracted cook. The phone rings and the carrots get singed. A kid asks a question about algebra and the chicken comes out black. You capture a Pokémon in the pantry and your “go-to” burgers have gone too far. “Oops” would be your only excuse. Nowadays, though, blackened, charred and blistered is not only acceptable but it’s a whole new cooking trend that’s worth mastering.

However, you have to learn to burn artfully… There’s a difference between a carcinogenic pile of ashes and the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-caramelization that can amplify the flavor. I like to cook with high heat and I’m hoping you take a look at these Spicy Charred and Chilled Dragon’s Tongue Beans and see the latter. Their flat shape makes them a particularly good choice for this method of charring. GREG

Spicy Charred and Chilled Dragon's Tongue Beans with Mustardy "Frenchy" Dressing

PS: This recipe was inspired by the Los Angeles restaurant Hippo. I found it in the Los Angeles Times and adapted it to suit my tastes. But I do plan to make a trek to Matt Molina’s restaurant to try the original.

Lastly, I can’t let you go without suggesting you take a good look at Mr. Molina’s “Frenchie” Dressing recipe attached below. I’ve made a lot (a lot) of mustard vinaigrettes in my time and very few of them are as simple and as good as this one. The recipe makes way more than you need for these Dragon Tongue Beans. Which is a very good thing.

Spicy Charred and Chilled Dragon's Tongue Beans

Charred and Chilled Spicy Dragon’s Tongue Beans

Print This Recipe Total time Yield Source Adapted from LA TimesPublished
Charred and Chilled Spicy Dragon's Tongue Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound "string" beans (such as wax beans, haricots verts and dragon tongue beans, stem ends trimmed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more as needed)
  • kosher salt (as needed)
  • "Frenchie" Dressing (as needed, see recipe)
  • 3 scallions (cut in 3-inch lengths and thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • ⅓ cup roasted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 serrano chile (very thinly sliced)

Directions

Toss the beans with the oil and salt until evenly coated. Heat a griddle or two large skillets over high heat. (Work in batches if necessary.)

When the surface is smoking hot, spread the beans in an even layer on the griddle or in the skillets and add another drizzle of oil (about a teaspoon per skillet or a tablespoon for the whole batch). When the bottoms brown and blister, toss the beans and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until there’s a nice char on the beans but they still have a little bite, 3 to 5 minutes. Thinner beans will brown more quickly, so pull them from the heat first and place them in a large bowl. As the batches of beans cook continue to transfer them to the bowl.

Once all the beans are cooked toss them (while still warm) with about 2 tablespoons “Frenchie” dressing. Let them sit uncovered until they come to room temperature then cover and refrigerate them until chilled.

When you’re ready to serve, soak the scallions in a medium bowl of ice water until crisp, about 5 minutes, then lift out and gently pat dry with paper towels.

Put the almonds on a cutting board and crush with a heavy skillet or the flat side of a knife until they crack into smaller pieces. On the board, drizzle the nuts with ½ teaspoon olive oil, sprinkle with ⅛ teaspoon salt and toss until evenly coated. Transfer two-thirds to the bowl with the beans. Add scallions, lemon juice, and as many of the chile slices as you like and toss well. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Transfer to serving plates, top with remaining almonds and serve immediately.

Matt Molina’s “Frenchie” Dressing

Print This Recipe Total time Yield generous ½ cupSource Matt Molina for the LA TimesPublished
Matt Molina's "Frenchie" Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic (grated on a Microplane)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Pulse both mustards with the vinegar, garlic and lemon juice in a mini food processor until smooth. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Or, you can make the dressing by hand: Whisk both mustards with the vinegar, garlic and lemon juice in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue whisking until the dressing is emulsified.

Pick Your Parking: Pickled Shrimp Toasts

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Pickled Shrimp Toasts

I’m going to say “Pickled Shrimp Toasts” out of one side of my mouth and say “Hollywood Bowl” out of the other side. Of course, I’d rather be putting Pickled Shrimp Toasts into both sides of my mouth. But before I do that I think I need to explain why I would attempt such a ridiculous feat of Pickled Shrimp/Hollywood Bowl verbal dexterity.

Let’s start with the Hollywood Bowl. You see, I live quite close to the Hollywood Bowl, which is lovingly known as “The Bowl” where I live.

In case you don’t know, The Bowl is one of the leading outdoor music venues of the world. It has a long, glamorous history. It’s a mecca for summer concerts in Southern California. Making it one of the top 10 reasons to live in Los Angeles. Which means pretty much every Angeleno who’s able goes to The Bowl at least once a summer.

As wonderful as the Hollywood Bowl is, there’s only one problem. It’s a problem a lot of places in Los Angles share, but it’s a particularly large problem at The Bowl.

Of course I’m talking about parking. It’s stacked, it’s horrendous, it’s hard to avoid. It can destroy a perfectly wonderful night of music under the stars.

Fortunately for me, I live close to The Bowl. So close I can walk.

Problem solved, at least for me. Unfortunately for my friends – many of them do not live close. So my driveway has become a much-coveted parking spot. Some of my neighbors actually charge to let folks park in their driveway. It’s true.

But I’m not one of those people. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. My driveway is open to a first-come-first-served basis. It also comes with an unspoken open door policy.

Which means any night of the week a grateful friend might show up (sometimes with a bottle of wine in hand) to (ostensibly) say thank you for that once-in-a-summer opportunity to skip the parking hell at The Bowl and actually enjoy the experience.

What I’m trying to say is not only do I not charge, I provide appetizers!

Pickled Shrimp Toasts

Sweet and briny, faintly spicy pickled shrimp are one of those surprising taste treats that has everyone rushing into the kitchen to see how you made them. In fact, you didn’t do very much at all, which is what makes pickled shrimp such a great choice for those first-come-first-served parking friends.

They’re a great make-ahead because the shrimp can remain covered with the pickling liquid and will last for a couple of days in the fridge. Keep in mind that the longer they sit in their pickle liquid, the picklier they get.

But no one seems to mind how pickley they get because they know they’ve avoided a “pickle” of a parking situation. GREG

Pickled Shrimp Toasts

Pickled Shrimp Toasts with Tomatoes and Whipped Ricotta

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 18Published
Pickled Shrimp Toasts with Tomatoes and Whipped Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil (plus more for bread slices)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds (lightly crushed)
  • 18 medium raw shrimp (peeled, deveined, tails removed)
  • 1 jalapeño (thinly sliced)
  • 2 pound small to medium heirloom tomatoes (various colors would be nice)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 18 slice rustic bread (cut into about 3x 3-inch pieces, 3/4-inch thick)
  • chopped chives (as garnish)
  • lemon wedges (for spritzing)
  • hot sauce (optional, as garnish)

Directions

Pickle the shrimp: Stir together vinegar, ½ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, and coriander seeds in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high. Remove the pan from the heat and add shrimp, and jalapeño slices. Cover pan and let stand about 10 minutes before uncovering the pan and stirring. Re-cover the pan and allow the shrimp and jalapeño to come to room temperature before using. Alternatively, the room temperature shrimp and jalapeño may be left in their liquid, covered and refrigerated up to 48 hours before using.

Prepare the tomatoes: Halve the tomatoes and then slice halves into ½-inch-thick pieces; place on a plate, and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Make the ricotta: Place ricotta in the bowl of a mini food-processor fitted with the metal blade. Season generously with salt and pepper. Process until smooth and light, about 30 seconds. Set aside. You may alternatively whip by hand.

Make the toasts: Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil.

Preheat grill or grill pan to high. Place bread on grill, and grill, uncovered, until toasted, about 1 minute and 30 seconds per side.

Assemble toasts: Spread about 2 tablespoons ricotta mixture on each toasted bread slice. Choose the nicest tomato slices to top toasts from edge to edge. You might not use them all. Nestle in a drained pickled shrimp and a couple of slices of jalapeños on top of each toast. Garnish with chives, a squeeze of lemon, and, if desired, a dash of hot sauce. Serve immediately.

Chilled Sungold Tomato Soup

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Chilled Sungold Tomato and Corn Soup

It’s hot in Los Angeles. It’s not supposed to be hot here. It’s supposed to be 76 and sunny. But, more and more it seems, it gets hot in LA. When that happens a cold soup – full of ripe, summery flavor – is a refreshing relief. Sweet like summer and a little bit spicy, this chilled Sungold tomato soup combines tomatoes and corn to find just the right balance to cool down a hot summer night. It’s remarkably sophisticated despite how few ingredients are actually in the bowl.

That’s because the tomatoes are the star of this chilled soup. But not just any tomato. I made this golden bowl of chilled tomato soup using super sweet Sungold tomatoes fresh from the farm.

Sungold Tomatoes

Sungold tomatoes are sweet. They have one of the highest Brix ratings (a measurement for the sugar content in fruits and vegetables) of any tomato. Meaning Sungolds are just about the sweetest tomato you will ever eat. In fact, they’re so sweet and juicy they’ll remind you that tomatoes are indeed fruits. Put a bowl of these bite-size, bumblebee-yellow beauties on the counter and watch yourself sneaking handfuls like a kid in the cookie jar.

But you probably won’t find Sungold tomatoes at a supermarket near you. They don’t travel well because their skins are so thin. They can crack on the vine when it rains or burst during shipping. The big farms stay away from growing them. Thankfully, Sungold tomatoes, which aren’t an heirloom variety but are a hybrid bred specifically for sweetness, are a staple of many backyard gardeners and can also be found at many farmers’ markets.

Chilled Sungold Tomato Soup

I could call this Chilled Sungold Tomato Summer Soup a gazpacho – but I’m not going to. True it’s a chilled soup featuring raw vegetables, but this summer tomato soup is more delicate than its rustic Spanish cousin. Besides I like the idea of a summer soup – whether it’s a traditional blending of tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, onion, oil and vinegar as in gazpacho – or something less expected like today’s sweet tomato and spicy corn pairing. However, there’s a secret to keeping these soups from becoming little more than pulverized salad.

That secret is balance, and you probably knew that.

Traditional gazpacho balances bright acidity with aromatic flavors. A poorly made gazpacho has aggressively raw flavors. Good gazpacho or summer soup, like a good wine, will linger on the palate in a pleasing way that transforms the initial taste experience.

Because Sungold tomatoes and summer corn are so sweet they need a savory balance to keep from becoming a ghastly ice cream topping. I tried to achieve that balance in this Sungold Tomato Soup with a big splash of vinegar and a scoop of chili-garlic sauce. It’s just salty, spicy, and pungent enough to keep those sweet, sweet Sungold tomatoes in line. GREG

Chilled Sungold Tomato and Corn Soup

Chilled Tomato and Corn Soup

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Published

Chili-garlic sauce is slightly salty, spicy, and pungent; it can be found in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at some specialty foods stores and Asian markets.

Chilled Tomato and Corn Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 pints halved Sungold or similar sweet yellow cherry tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 5 ears raw corn (kernels only)
  • 2 yellow bell peppers (seeded and diced)
  • 1 large shallot (peeled and chopped, about ¼ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup chili-garlic sauce (see notes)
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • sour cream (optional)

Directions

Set aside separately about 1-cup each tomato and corn kernels to use as garnish.

Add remaining tomato, corn kernels, bell peppers, and shallots to a large bowl. Stir in salt and let sit for thirty minutes.

Working in batches if necessary, transfer the tomato mixture to a high-speed blender along with chili-garlic sauce, vinegar, and lemon juice. Cover and pulse the machine several times. Once the mixture is uniformly chopped, turn the machine on and slowly pour in the olive oil. Blend until smooth.

Chill the soup at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

To serve season with a little more salt if necessary, then ladle the cold soup into bowls. Garnish with reserved tomatoes, corn, and a drizzle of sour cream (if using).