Archives for the month of: August, 2011

as you may have noticed from my top 5 favorite sandwiches post, i am a big fan of the croque monsieur. they may seem daunting to make just from the name, but actually, they are really quite easy to make.

you will need:

  • good rustic bread
  • thinly sliced ham
  • grated gruyère
  • béchemel sauce (milk, butter, flour, nutmeg, s+p)
  • fresh parsley, for garnish

first, toast the bread.

then, layer the ham on the toasted bread, top with the cheese, and put in the oven until the cheese melts and the ham is warmed. about 5 minutes at 350º.

in the meantime, make your béchemel. for one sandwich: scald about 1/4 cup milk in a small pan. melt 1/2 tbsp butter in another pan, add an equal amount of flour and whisk together to make a roux. then gradually add the milk on medium-low heat while continually whisking until it starts to thicken. if it gets too thick whisk in a little bit more milk. add a pinch of nutmeg, and s+p to taste.

drizzle the sauce over the open-faced sandwich, and sprinkle with parsley.

it’s not quite like the one at mignon, but it’s close enough in a pinch.

mignon is a wine + cheese bar in downtown los angeles @ 128 east sixth street, la, ca 90014 • phone: 213-489-0131 • open 5p-midnight daily. 




if eminem can clean out his closet, and make a single go platinum…

…i figure the least i can do is clean out my fridge, and make a quick delicious meal. i often find myself at the end of a week with not necessarily no food in my fridge, but an odd assortment of things. tonight i found these things in my kitchen:

i defrosted the shrimp quickly by running under cold water. then drained and blotted them well with paper towels, and tossed them in cornstarch.  i sliced the garlic thin, cut the pepper and flower chive into bite-sized pieces. i heated some coconut oil in a pan, and sautéed the garlic until fragrant, added the shrimp and cooked for a couple of minutes. i added the pepper, cabbage and chive and stirred to mix for a few minutes. squirted on some sriracha, tamari, and honey to taste, and tossed to coat. finally, i sprinkled in some sesame seeds and put over rice.

i might switch up the veggies, or condiments a bit, but it usually takes on an asian flare.

note: this post is dedicated to my dad who introduced me to lots of great music (including eminem), was an inspiring improvisational cook, and would have been 70 on august 28, 2011. happy birthday pops!

i have been getting my clams from a stand at the hollywood farmers market since i can remember. i just know them at the cute oyster boys. (seriously, what is it about fisherman? they must have the same genes as fire fighters and soccer players.) i found them on facebook, and you can follow them on twitter, but are fairly new to both. well, every sunday morning at their stand, they offer to shuck any oysters you want to eat on the half shell, but normally it just doesn’t occur to me to have oysters for breakfast. this past sunday it did. yummo! along with some mussels, i picked up a half dozen of their oysters. i went to ross cutlery today and got an oyster shucking knife, and pulled out a thick rubber glove and towel to prepare for my first shucking experience.

then i watched the oyster boys video on how to shuck an oyster…a few times.

it was really a lot easier than i thought it would be.

i put them on ice, and brought them down to the courtyard of my building to share with my neighbors. i served them with lemon wedges, a tamari sauce and ponzu mix, horseradish, and yuzu pepper on the side. good stuff!

i received a lovely card from my friend dana recently that had a recipe for roasted beets and peaches. not only did i think it was a wonderful gesture, the recipe intrigued me.

i decided to take it one step further and add goat cheese and nuts. i chose pecans for this attempt, because it was what i had on hand, but i think walnuts might be a better option in the future. also, it called for golden beets, which i couldn’t find at the hollywood farmers market this past weekend, so i decided to do a mix of red and purple. the red one’s actually turned out to be more golden on the inside anyway, and the purple ones complemented the deep red flesh near the pit of the peach.


  • 10 small beets, about 2 inches in diameter
  • 2-4 peaches, the one’s i got were huge, so i only used 2
  • 1 + 1/4 cup bubbly, you can use champagne, but i chose a cheap prosecco i picked up at buzz wine + beer shop since i’d be cooking with part of it
  • olive oil, enough to coat the beets
  • 2 tbsp honey, plus more for drizzling
  • s+p
  • 3 oz chevré cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

serves 4-6

prepare the beets by trimming all but 1-2 inches of the greens, clean the beets throughly with a vegetable brush if needed. dry them and coat them with olive oil. place them in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. pour in 1 cup of bubbly.

cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast at 375º for about 1 hour. you can check for doneness with a knife. let cool enough to remove the remaining stems, and tails of the beets.

while the beets are roasting, cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. rub the flesh with 1/4 cup of the bubbly, place in another roasting dish, and drizzle with honey. season with some salt, and roast uncovered for 20-30 minutes.

once both pans are out of the oven, turn on the broiler. slice the beets and peaches into large chunks and combine into one of the roasting dishes.

toss in the nuts, crumble the cheese over the mixture, and drizzle a little more honey over the top.

put it under the broiler until the cheese is melted slightly and a little golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them so as not to burn.

serve warm.

this would go well as a side dish for pork or beef.

i love most sandwiches. i really like to make them, but i enjoy eating them even more. here’s a run down of my top 5:

5. the reuben

this is a photo of the one from canter’s deli, but i have had them at langer’s delicatessen, jerry’s famous deli, katz’s delicatessen, and many other random deli’s from coast to coast. the one that sticks in my head as my favorite, though i haven’t been back in years, is art’s delicatessen in studio city. there’s just something about pastrami and sauerkraut together…mmm.

4. grilled cheese

you may be surprised at this simple sandwich making the list, but i have loved them ever since i was a kid. my mom used to make them for me with kraft singles and onions on white bread, and i would dip them in dijon mustard. grilled cheese and tomato soup was one of my favorite lunches growing up. a couple of years ago my friend krista had me over for dinner one evening for the best grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup meals of my life. i also posted recently of my favorite grilled cheese that my sister kate made me, with our dad’s tomato jam.

3.  le croque monsieur

even though this is sometimes served open faced, i still consider it a sandwich. i have had a few of them in the past, and my favorite was probably at my friends jon and jenny’s place for dinner one night, but my love of this sandwich has only recently come about because of the one at mignon, a new wine + cheese bar that has opened very close to where i live. being that mignon is easily accessible to me, and their croque monsieur is only $5 during happy hour, makes me a very happy girl.

2. tuna fish

this sandwich can be easily screwed up, but also, if made well, one of the most satisfying of sandwiches. i stopped eating catering around season two of the tv show i worked on for seven years, and would mostly eat sandwiches off the craft services truck for lunch. thankfully they would have canned tuna and all the fixins to make my own. somedays i would just mix in some mayonnaise, pepper, and fresh lemon juice. other days it would be red onion, peperonchini, spicy mustard, sweet relish, mayonnaise, and pepper. at home (as shown above) i like to put in marinated artichokes, garlic, red onion, and herbs with greens, avocado and sweet cherry tomatoes on top.

1. the blt

the unfortunate part about the blt is that good tomatoes are a must, and finding them in any other season besides summer is almost impossible, but thankfully right now it is prime tomato time. i crave them. i had one today for lunch as a matter of fact, and it was the inspiration for this post. damn they are good!

honorable mentions:

the ‘big fish’ sandwich at big fish on main street in grapevine, tx

i couldn’t list fish sandwich (not to be confused with tuna fish, which i think is a different category) in my top 5 because i have had so few that are actually good. i have tried many attempts at recreating the one at big fish, but to no avail. short of flying back there to do some research, or calling the restaurant for their recipe, i am left with searching for a local substitution. suggestions are welcome.

(note: i have emailed big fish to see if they would submit a photo of the sandwich, or even better…the recipe, but at the time of posting i haven’t heard back from them. if that changes in the future, i will add it to the post.)

e’s pulled pork sammy

i really enjoy a pulled pork sandwich, and would probably list it at #6, but my friend john’s version is especially exceptional. his pork shoulder is dry rubbed with special spices overnight, slow cooked in butter and apple juice, and then finished off by smoking it on the grill. the juicy, tender and full of flavor meat is put in a steamed white bun and topped off with dreamland bbq sauce and slaw…com’ on!

as my inspiration, julia child was my inaugural post back in april when i decided to start this blog, mostly because i have always admired her adventure in cooking. she would have been 99 years old today, may she rest in peace.

photo by paul child.

“the only stumbling block is fear of failure. in cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” -julia child

exactly julia. exactly. bon appetite!

i prefer to make my own salad dressings. i toss some oil, acid and herbs in a mini blender and purée. today i decided to use a lemon infused olive oil from adams’ olive ranch that i had picked up at the santa monica farmers market several weeks ago when i was following the farmers market fairy around for the day. i added some fresh lime juice, a little bit of avocado for creaminess, fresh cilantro leaves, and a touch of s+p.

it was really tasty tossed with all the fresh greens and colorful vegetables that i picked up yesterday at the hollywood farmers market.

i just couldn’t get over the array of colors this morning at the hollywood farmers market. being that it is pepper, tomato, and flower season i shouldn’t have been surprised, but wow. just wow.

i saw, and bought, my first chocolate brown bell pepper. i want it to taste like chocolate, but the vendor tells me it is more like a red bell pepper, which sounds equally delicious.

even the clams were especially pretty this morning. normally i don’t notice their beauty, because i am drooling over the hot fishermen who sell the bivalves. they even suggested a quick recipe: simmer them in coconut milk, fresh ginger, lemongrass, and cilantro until they open. add a little sriracha for some spice. i mean, who doesn’t love a man who can fish and cook? you can find them on facebook. here is their recipe come to fruition:

there was a lot of other color there today too:

black eyed peas.

tomatoes + hot peppers.

strawberries, raspberries + tomatoes.


yes. these are indeed tomatoes.

flowers at finley’s.

more sunflowers.

tropical fruit.

peppers + eggplant.

camomile. oh my, it smelled floral and sweet. period.

i can’t remember a more colorful market.

it’s tomato season! that, and our national heat wave, makes me think of delicious and refreshing gazpacho. i can’t remember how old i was (probably early teens?) when i first learned of cold soup. i was with my dad in nyc during an especially hot summer, and gazpacho was on the menu. he told me that it can vary depending on the freshness of the tomatoes, ingredients used, and done wrong will just taste like salsa, or worse, like cold campbell’s soup. i was intrigued. i ordered it, and it was amazing.

as a cook’s illustrated recipe tester, i made their authentic spanish gazpacho last year and fell in love with the recipe. it reminded me of that first time. they have adjusted it a bit from the test version, and it can be found on the america’s test kitchen website as creamy gazpacho andaluz. there is also a video.

i have made a couple of minor changes:


  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
  • 1 medium green pepper (i used a sweet hungarian this time, which is white in color, and like a milder green pepper, but depending on your taste any type of bell pepper will work.)
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small serrano chile, stemmed, halved lengthwise (and seeded if you don’t want as much heat.)
  • 2 tbsp hanapepe salt (i prefer the smokiness of hanapepe, but pink hawaiian or sea salt are good substitutes.)
  • 1 slice high-quality sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp finely minced parsley, cilantro, chives or basil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • avocado, sliced thin for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish

roughly chop 2 pounds of the tomatoes, half of the cucumber, half of the bell pepper, and half of the onion. put them in a large bowl with the garlic, chile and 1 1/2 tbsp of the salt. toss until mixed well. set aside.

cut up the remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper into 1/4 inch dice. mince the remaining onion and add to the diced vegetables. toss them with 1/2 tbsp of salt and transfer to a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl to collect the juices. set aside for 1 hour.

transfer drained diced veggies to a medium bowl and set aside. add the bread pieces to the exuded liquid and let soak for 1 minute. add the soaked bread and any remaining juice to the rough chopped veggies. toss to combine.

transfer 1/2 the veggie-bread mixture to a blender, or food processor, and process for about 30 seconds. then, while blending, slowly drizzle 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the mixture. strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, or container you are able to cover. using a rubber spatula press the soup through the strainer, until you are basically left with any left over veggie chunks or skin, and discard.

repeat with the remaining veggie-bread mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil. stir in the vinegar, minced herb, and 3/4 of the diced veggies. season to taste with more salt if needed, and black pepper.

cover and refrigerate preferably overnight (or at least 2 hours) to allow the soup to chill completely, and let the flavors develop. serve with remaining diced veggies, avocado, and sour cream as garnish.

i have had bad gazpacho, but nothing as bad as cold campbell’s soup. though, i have to wonder if you have good ingredients and a good recipe, how can it be bad? really.


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