Archives for the month of: September, 2011

summer meets fall by combining delicious sweet tomatoes and vibrant red kuri squash. i’ve also added a bit of madras curry to give it a little bit of heat. i know it was a bit crazy to make soup on a hot so-cal september day, but the colors of these beauties inspired me.


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 onion, diced small, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 3/4 cup carrots, diced small
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs red kuri squash, skin removed, seeded, and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 2 tsp of madras curry powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)
  • 6-7 medium tomatoes, seeded (reserve juices, strained of seeds), roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp of thyme, plus extra for garnish
  • pinch of cayenne
  • s+p to taste (i ended up using about 2 tbsp of coarse hanapepe salt and at least a dozen grinds of a pepper mill)
  • crème fraîche, as garnish
  • 1 cup half + half (optional)

yield: 8 cups, 4-6 servings


melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pan, such as a dutch oven.

add onions and carrots, and a touch of salt. let cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. then add the squash and stir to combine. cook, stirring occasionally, until a slight brown fond starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.

add the curry and cayenne. stir to combine.

add the reserved tomato juice and stock. use a wooden spoon to remove any fond from the bottom of the pan. add some s+p. i added about 1 tbsp of hanapepe salt and several cranks on the pepper mill at this point.

bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer. add the tomatoes and thyme. let cook about 20 minutes, or until the squash is soft.

purée until smooth. i use a hand blender for sheer ease, but a regular blender will work, just make sure you do it in batches and don’t over fill.

taste and add any additional s+p at this point. i added another few cranks on the pepper mill and probably another tbsp of hanapepe salt. then i allowed the spices to meld a little while longer on low heat.

there are a few finishing options. add a dollop of crème fraîche, and a pinch of thyme for garnish.

to add creaminess all the way through, turn off the heat and add 1 cup of half + half. if saving some for the next day, or freezing it, hold off on adding the cream until slowly reheating it.

also, one of my favorite things is grilled cheese and tomato soup, and this makes a wonderful alternative to a mainstay meal.



as the end of summer nears, i feel the need to stock up on all my favorites (avocados, peppers, tomatoes, corn etc), because it just seems like it is going to be so long before these fresh summer fruits and vegetables will be back again. here are two wonderful salads that highlight everything wonderful about summer:

recipes by-

mark bittman: corn + avocado salad (bottom left)

kalyn’s kitchen: mango salad with black beans, avocado, mint + chile-lime vinaigrette (upper right)

this recipe was adapted by tasting table from steven brown, chef and owner of tilia in minneapolis, mn. i also made a few adjustment to my taste, and frankly my pocket book. for instance, i am not too big on salt, so i reduced it in a few places, and chanterelles are just fucking expensive (not to mention halibut), so i easily cut the mushroom amount in half. unless i missunderstood my mushroom vendor’s math, they were selling chanterelles for $30/lb, and they had $5 bags ready to go, which means that would equal 1/6lb. it was a perfect amount for 2 servings, anymore seemed like it would be overkill and take away from the rest of the dish. the original recipe was for 4 and i made it for 2, so i have made all my adjustments above and a few others below. there are a lot of spices and ingredients in general, but this is actually a quite easy dish to make. i even made my own madras-style curry from spices i already had on hand.


  • 2 halibut fillets, 1/4 lb each
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp anise seeds
  • 1/4 cup mirin (japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

sweet corn curry-

  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • zest of 2 limes (or 3 kaffir-lime leaves, if you can find them)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup sweet corn, cut from a fresh ear
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp madras-style curry powder
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (it’s what i had on hand, regular would be fine too)
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock

pickled chanterelles-

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp anise seeds
  • 1 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/6 pound chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1/8 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small carrot, thinly sliced into 2-inch-long slices

prepare the halibut: season the fish on all sides with the salt and anise seeds and set aside for 1 hour, allowing to come to room temperature. this is also a good time to collect and prep the rest of the ingredients. after an hour, in a medium bowl, combine the mirin and rice vinegar and dip the fillets in the mixture. remove and pat dry. set aside while you make the rest of the dish.

make the corn curry: in a medium saucepot set over medium heat, sweat the butter, garlic, lime zest, onion, corn, jalapeño and curry powder until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

stir in the coconut milk and chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer.

simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and purée in a blender. keep warm.

make the pickled chanterelles: in a medium saucepot set over medium heat, combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar, sea salt, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, chile flakes, anise seeds and garlic. bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. place the mushrooms, onion and carrot in a medium bowl and pour the water-vinegar mixture over the vegetables. let sit to soak and marinate.

preheat oven to 375º. place the fish on a lightly oiled glass baking dish and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish is opaque and warm all the way through. i used a glass pyrex pie dish with a bit of coconut oil smeared on the bottom.

divide the curried-corn sauce among 2 bowls, or deep plates, and top each with a halibut fillet. use a slotted spoon or fork to take the mushroom mixture out of the liquid and place on top of the fish. serve immediately.

well done steven brown. this is one of the best dishes i have ever made. although every single ingredient is a favorite of mine, i just wasn’t sure how it would all fit together in the end. the creamy coconut corn and the tangy earthiness of the mushrooms worked perfectly together with the light flaky halibut and the slight tinge from the anise.


daisy, bo and luke duke had the boar’s nest. norm, cliff and fraiser had cheers. jack, janet and chrissy had the regal beagle…and now with the recent opening of the escondite, i too have a local.

the escondite

when i first moved downtown almost 5 years ago, i went to see the derby dolls when they were at 3rd and alameda, and on the way back my friends and i stopped into the 410 boyd for some food afterward. as i remember it, the food was pretty decent, but the lighting was fluorescent and horrible, and the art on the wall was god awful. i never went back. being that it was only a block away, i have always wanted it to become some place that i would like to hang out and have a drink, or get some late night food. i have been asked many times ‘is there some place nearby that we can just get a drink?’ and i think of the usuals: bar 107, mignon, pete’s cafe, wurstküche, and cole’s, but all of those are easily a 10 minute walk, and for non-new yorkers, you might as well ask them to run a marathon. 410 boyd never even crossed my mind.

a few weeks ago, while walking back from lunch with my friend shirley, i noticed the 410 boyd sign had changed. it was now planks of wood with an eye peering through them. intriguing…

we decided to stop and check things out. erin, one of the owners, was on the patio and asked if she could help us. she was as sweet as my sweet potato pecan pie, told us that they would be opening in a few weeks, and that we would be pleasantly surprised. my neighbor katherine had met brian, the other owner, while doing some guerrilla gardening in their parking lot, and he was nice enough to donate water to them. we decided we would go get a drink on opening night, and as it turned out quite a few other people in our building also wanted to see the new digs. there was easily a dozen of us there.

the escondite, or the hiding place, is dark enough to hide from anyone, but so much so, that i had a hard time even reading the menu that night. i was told that they would be adding candles to the bar area, and reprinting the menus with a darker font. i have been back a few times now, tasted the food, had a chance to chat with erin and brian some more, candles have appeared and fonts are darker.

the menu is pretty simple: mostly burgers, some sandwiches, a few salads and appetizers, and hand cut french fries.

chili cheese fries

cheese stix

most of the burgers have names right out of my generation: boss hogg, rip taylor, ricardo montalban, herve villachez[sic], capt kangaroo, don ho and my favorite gavin macleod.

boss hogg + gavin macleod

dr joyce brothers

they all have some not so usual ingredients on them including fritos, refried beans, pineapple, hashbrowns, mashed potatoes, and cream cheese. they are vegetarian friendly, and can all be made with a veggie burger, or if you prefer chicken breast, that’s an option too. their buffalo mushrooms have a really good kick, and one of the best sauces i have tasted, but it made me want them to be chicken wings.

buffalo mushrooms

brian wants to respect the vegetarians and wont use the deep fryers for both fries and wings, and until they can expand, mushrooms it is. the teriyaki steak tips were tangy and had some good heat and spice as well. i need to try out their sandwiches next, but since i am a bit of a sandwich snob, who knows that outcome? ultimately, the food is good, and for a neighborhood local i don’t need it to win any james beard awards. what i do need is that on a sunday night after a long day at work, without a meal break, to show up after 10pm and erin to happily say ‘we serve food til 1am every night.’ thank you sweet baby jesus! …and this was the view on the patio that night:

and as we left last night:

i have been in enough over the past couple of weeks to know that once the word gets out about this place, my local will soon be popular, but even brian implied he has no qualms about turning people away that don’t give him the vibe that he wants. he and erin set out to make it a neighborhood place, and i believe it.

brian is also an owner at bar 107, which on the weekends especially, can get crazy and over run with usc kids, and what i like to call ‘bridge and tunnel’ peeps. the feeling at the escondite is much mellower and matured. it’s a place where people of any age will want to hang out and have a drink and some food, but has character and isn’t stuffy.

the music has been fantastic. a great mix ranging from obscure 70’s one hit wonders to punk rock, with a little old school willie nelson, and a bit of early 90’s grunge rock thrown in. again, all up in my wheelhouse. although, i have seen both erin and brian on 2 separate occasions run and jump the bar when a certain enigma song came up in the rotation.

i asked brian, why not just take the song off the ipod? he said, ‘cuz it’s fun to run.’

i’m pretty sure chrissy, janet and jack would be jealous.

the escondite is at 410 boyd street, la, ca 90013 • skid row adjacent • parking is free after 6 + all day sunday • happy hour 5-8p m-f.

*a special thanks to shirley shivhon for providing some of her photos.

i love the sweetness of summer tomatoes paired with the earthiness of beets, topped with tangy but creamy chèvre, floral thyme, and drizzled with adams’ olive ranch balsamic vinegar + their lemon infused olive oil.

absolutely fresh and scrumptious! summer you will be missed, and your tomatoes even more so.

adams’ olive ranch products are sold at the santa monica and hollywood farmers markets, fairs, festivals and gourmet shops.

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