Archives for the month of: February, 2012

there are some places that you just need to try for yourself, and for those who don’t live in los angeles, or don’t have plans to come for a visit, i am very sad for you, because guisados is one of those places. my friend the farmers market fairy has been telling me about this place for a while now, and even called it ‘life changing.’ i recently recommended it to a friend in town looking for good mexican food. he was doing a little research for his new business mexicue in nyc, and it was already on his list of places to check out. i have been throwing this place’s name around without ever trying it myself mind you…until today.

the menu is fairly prolific, so i just chose a selection of three different tacos: hongos, pescado, and mole pollo. the tortillas were thicker than what i am used to, so i was full halfway through my second taco, but i trudged on, not unhappily by any means.

i also wanted to try the habanero salsa, which my fairy friend said to beware of, but it was wonderful, yet so potent only a tad cleared my senses.

my friend raf decided on the sampler of six mini tacos, and went with the first six on the chalkboard, which we were told are the most popular.

the owner armando, personally delivered our plates, and was incredibly friendly. i had heard from my out-of-town friend that his brother eddie makes the homemade masa next door at his market. so on the way out i thanked armando, and asked about the masa. he said he would show me. i thought, ‘are you (expletive) kidding me?’ he quickly washed his hands, and brought us next door.

first the corn is steeped.

after being rinsed to take an outside thin layer off the kernel, it’s ground up into what is basically a corn mealy paste. fat is added to make what is put in tamales.

otherwise, without the fat added, they hand flatten it into disks before cooking to make tortillas. now i understand why they are thicker than usual.

on the way out, he showed us they also make bread, and told us to try one of the sweet bread pastries called conchas, or something like that. i was too damn excited to remember what he said, and too stupid to write it down.

i will ask next time, which may very well be tomorrow. this place is a must. an absolute must.

guisados • 2100 east cesar chavez avenue • los angeles, ca • 90033 

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most of us don’t have to think about where we are going to get our next meal, but living in skid row i see men and women everyday who struggle for just that…food. i love living where i do, if only that it tells me how fortunate i am every single day. i own a loft right next door to the new home of the downtown women’s center (dwc), where women have been going for help and assistance since opening in 1978.

‘the mission of the downtown women’s center is to provide permanent supportive housing and a safe and healthy community fostering dignity, respect, and personal stability, and to advocate ending homelessness for women.’

last year the dwc opened up a shop on the street level called made that sells gifts, pastries, food, teas and coffees. 100% of the proceeds go directly to supporting homeless and low-income women at the dwc.

the teas and coffee are from groundwork, a local downtown roaster.

food comes from room forty, ‘a restaurant without walls’ catering company. pastries are from chinatown’s homegirl cafe (helping formerly gang involved women).

the gifts range from unique ceramics, books about gardening and sustainability, and donated items such as purses, to jewelry, candles, soaps, and journals handmade from the women themselves at the dwc.

i spoke with denise, one of the volunteers since last october and fellow blogger, who told me about her favorite gift: the handmade journals. they take old books, use the pages to decoupage picture frames, and fill the bindings with with fresh blank pages.

i stopped in for a coffee and something for lunch, but also left with a blue denim coach purse i picked out for a very discounted price, just one of the many donated items to the center.

they have enough nicer donated items that can be resold they are soon to open an ‘upscale’ version of a goodwill type store in their original location on los angeles street. although made sells delicious food and wonderful coffee/tea drinks to me, what it has done to put food in my neighbor’s bellies seems more significant, and is only the beginning of what else it provides for these women.

made • 438 s. san pedro st. • los angeles, ca • 90013 

this is a stupid simple way to make brussels sprouts for a side dish, and is much quicker than roasting them in the oven.

serves 2

ingredients:

  • brussels sprouts, about 2 cups sliced thin
  • 1 large clove of garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 lemon, zest and a wedge reserved for squeezing over the top
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • s+p
  • olive oil

heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pan over medium-high until hot.

add the brussels sprouts and garlic to the pan, and sauté until soft and browning a bit, about 3-5 minutes.

add zest and tarragon, and toss to combine. add s+p to taste.

plate and squeeze lemon wedge over the top.

the lemon and tarragon brighten this winter vegetable up without losing it’s heartiness.

this could be another episode of ‘cleanin’ out my fridge.’ i found myself with a bunch of winter veggies, and because i will soon be leaving town i needed to use them up. this time i made a stew.

what i had in my fridge:

  • 2 wild boar italian sausage, about 6 oz each, casings removed
  • 3 small carrots
  • 5 stalks celery
  • 3 small fennel bulbs
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 bunch kale
  • a little garlic + shallot mix, minced (less than a tbsp)
  • 4 cups homemade turkey stock (which is likely more concentrated, flavorful and healthier than store bought, so take that into consideration when you add additional water, and seasoning.)

plus a few things from the pantry:

heat about a tbsp of oil to a large pot, and add sausage breaking apart with wooden spoon while cooking.

add carrots, celery, fennel, leeks, kale, garlic and shallot, with additional oil if needed. add a sprinkle of salt. let cook down until a bit soft, about 5-10 minutes. add several cranks from a peppermill.

add lentils and stock, plus 4 cups of water. bring to a boil. add kale and reduce to a simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 20-30 minutes depending on how tender you like your lentils.

s+p to taste. add a good splash of dry sherry, and mix in for a few minutes.

note: honestly before i added the sherry, i felt it needed some sort of acid, tang or just another level, and the sherry did it. i was thinking of even a citrus like lemon juice, or a vinegar, or maybe even brandy, but i think sherry was the right choice.

makes about 8-10 cups.

ingredients:

  • 8 hardboiled eggs, halved lengthwise, yolks removed and set aside
  • 3-4 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp sweet relish
  • 1 tsp whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • dash of cayenne
  • s+p
  • paprika for dusting on eggs
  • 1 cornichon, sliced thin, for garnish
  • dill or fennel sprigs for garnish

use a fork and mash the yolks in a medium bowl. add mayo, relish, mustard, horseradish, vinegar, cayenne, salt + pepper and whisk together until combined well. dust egg whites with a little paprika. i just used my fingers with pinches dusting high over the eggs to make it uniform, and i still didn’t get it how i wanted. note: my first go around at this was a disaster, which i did so after i had put the filling in the whites. there was paprika everywhere! i ended up scooping out the filling, washing the whites with cold water and starting a new. 

i used a pastry bag with a flower type tip to distribute the filling, but i’m sure using a small spoon works just as well, it’s just not as pretty. i topped mine with a cornichon slice and a sprig of fennel top.

transporting them in my vehicle turned into disaster number two. note: just putting them in a pie dish and covering them with tinfoil just doesn’t work, plain and simple. i wish i would have taken the advice in cook’s illustrated’s the new best recipe cookbook:

“cut a clean piece of rubberized shelf or drawer liner to the size of the dish…with relatively high sides- a square plastic storage container with a lid is perfect. place the fitted liner on the bottom…the liner keeps the eggs from sliding.”

or i might need to invest in something like this:

this was my first attempt at making deviled eggs, and though i had major paprika and transport snafus, they still turned out delicious. regardless how devilish my eggs act next time, i will be prepared.

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