Showing posts with label cuisinerd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cuisinerd. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Buvare: Shiso Lovely


I had never sampled Korean cuisine before moving to Los Angeles. Casual as a boisterous group trip to Soot Bull Jeep for KBBQ may seem now, I am well aware of the benefit we have living in this city to enjoy such motley experiences. To many though, even LA denizens, the overwhelming bounty that is our Koreatown (with one of the highest population densities of all neighborhoods in Los Angeles and the United States) remains still an indecipherable mystery. Determined to enlighten international diners about the diverse flavors and health benefits of Hansik (Korean cuisine), The Korean Food Foundation has launched a series of city restaurant guides, including a slick 200-page guide to LA's Korean restaurants, from Koreatown to Marina del Rey, Buena Park, Garden Grove, Pasadena, and Los Feliz. Edited by legendary LA Times & LA Weekly food writer and cookbook author Barbara Hansen, and written with the help of many top local bloggers, the guide is now available at The Korean Cultural Center, through PDF download on The Korean Food Foundation's website, and as a handy iPhone app available in iTunes. To put the guide to the test, I teamed up with my recurring foodventure cohort Kristin "the Cuisinerd" to embark on a mini K-town food marathon. Bibambap, we don't stop!
Check it out over at theCuisinerd.com.


During our walkabout through K-town and its eateries, pubs, markets and banchan delis, I became inspired to craft a cocktail from Hansik ingredients, with a fresh profile to compliment its flavors, and involve the Korean concept of Ssam (literally meaning "wrapped," in which edible leaves are used to wrap meat, condiments, and banchan).
Perusing Han Kook Market, I decided to start with the obvious base spirit - Soju (소주). Known mostly to me these days as the cocktail spirit of choice for restaurants with a beer/wine license, this clear, slightly sweet distilled spirit is made from grain or sweet potatoes and typically has an alcohol content of 40 proof (20% ABV) - Half that of, say, most vodkas. Nevertheless, it is the most popular traditional Korean spirit, deserving of a second chance. I was also intrigued by Makgeolli (막걸리), a milky, sweet low-alcohol (6% ABV) beverage made from sticky rice, known for its high fiber, protein and vitamin levels. With some fresh produce and a lucky hand, Shiso Lovely practically made herself.

Shiso Lovely

1 1/2 oz Jinro Soju
1 oz Jinro Makgeolli
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Honey Tangerine
1/2 oz Lemon
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
3 Shiso Leaves

Add shiso leaves and honey syrup to a shaker and muddle. Combine remaining ingredients, pack with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass lined with a slapped shiso leaf.

Shiso Lovely also works well as a long drink. After shaking, strain instead into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with soda and garnish with a green maraschino cherry, candied lotus root and shiso leaf ssam.

*For the Honey Syrup:
Combine 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until honey has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gala Parfait: Feast of the Seven Fishes


You know what they say, Italians do it better.
Christmas is no exception. I had heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a coursed Christmas Eve tradition to count down the hours to Christ's midnight birth, but never have I experienced it. Until this year.
On the Table Set's holiday episode this year we decided to shake up tradition and go intimate dinner party instead of all-out Xmas bonanza like last year. Add my co-host Greg's recent collaborators Alaska Seafood graciously sharing some of their top-of-the-line sustainable seafood and our Buone Feste was heartily underway.



AND the table is set (no pun intended). In fact, Greg is such a pro I believe it was set a full day in advance.


As per usual, we had too many cooks in the kitchen — That's because some of our most talented friends were in attendance. Seven courses for seven wonderful cooks. And for extra credit, seven beverage pairings. No lazy bloggers 'round here!


To serve as guests arrived, I thought Philadelphia Fish House punch seemed a fitting choice.


Course #1: The Cuisinerd and her main squeeze are no amateurs when it comes to sea bugs, and they knocked us flat with their Grilled Alaskan Oysters and Mignonette Trio: Spicy Chipotle, Cilantro Lime, and Classic Cocktail Sauce. (Seriously, these sauces should be sold in jars.)


Their offbeat pairing choice of Cantine Elvio Tintero Grangia frizzante (90% Favorita and 10% Moscato) created a wonderfully dry and fizzy bridge to the next course.


Course #2: I volunteered for the amuse bouche. Starting with salmon roe, I got inspired by dishes from LA's Son of a Gun restaurant and in the sexy NOMA cookbook. For added depth I first cured the roe in a beer brine. I used Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's sweet and spicy Route Des Épices rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.


The finished amuse comprised of a Rye Crisp with Maple Cream, Beer-cured Salmon Roe, Green Chile Sugar and Fennel Top.


Course #3: Jackie the Beeroness (also behind Domestic Fits) wowed us all with her comforting Seared Alaskan Scallops wtih Smoked Sweet Corn Puree and Stout Balsamic Reduction. A sparkling wine cocktail with fresh basil and elderflower liqueur was an elegant brace.


Course #4: Chef, artist, and former Table Set guest Brian wove a tapestry of a "soup course" with his Seared Halibut over Forbidden Rice with Miso Pork Broth. For a cleansing respite, fresh lavender-infused spa water was paired.


Course #5: It wouldn't be a Table Set supper without something showy from Andy. His "Surf 'n' Turf" entree was no exception. Here, oceany Uni Capellini with Scallop, Bonito and Nori Crumble met earthy Rye Toast with Pine Nut Porcini Butter for a unique twist on the concept.
It was paired with Kabaj Rebula, a full-bodied Slavic white wine (100% Ribolla) capable of standing up to the intense flavors of the dish.


Course #6: Salad after entree? Why not?! Salad with crab? Hit me! Joy the Baker made magic with her crisp and refreshing Alaska Crab, Apple and Pomegranate Salad — a new Insalata di Mare classic. Get her recipe here.


Six courses in, I can hardly recall what we were drinking anymore... but my blurry photo shows that it was bubbly, and that we were having fun!


Course #7: And boy, the fun wasn't over yet. Greg built a mountain of it with his festive Caffè e Frittelle Dolci (Coffee & Donuts) — Glorious rosemary glazed donuts studded with gummy Swedish Fish, a highbrow/lowbrow win. I think I had seven.

In all, a beautiful night of subtlety, skill, festivity, and togetherness. Thank you to Alaska Seafood and all of our lovely guests!


Video and additional photography courtesy of Ted Houser

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: A New Tradition


Thanksgiving is the best holiday.
A celebration of the autumn bounty and togetherness... It's all so cozy and insular however that it can be easy to forget about those without a home, food, kith and kin.
Looking back on the past year, I am very thankful for the luxuries I've been afforded amongst friends, cooking meals, hosting events, and bringing people together. But there is a point when I have to question what else I could potentially be doing, bigger picture, to share with the community at large, outside of my social group.

Over the summer my friend Katie organized a volunteer "cooking club" one night to prepare a meal for the residents of the Downtown Women's Center in downtown Los Angeles. The DWC is an organization aiding the many needs of homeless women, serving as both a day center offering hot meals, showers, computers, phones, and case management, as well as 71 units of permanent supportive housing. The center has been a fixture in downtown since 1978 when founding director Jill Halverson offered a much needed respite to the man's world of Skid Row - its shelters, pantries and social services accessible only to men. Today, the DWC is nationally recognized as a prototype for programs striving to meet the unique needs of homeless women.

Preparing a meal that would feed 130 homeless and low income women that night was an amazing experience, and ever since I've been wanting to gather a group of my own to come to the center and cook a meal. And what better time than Thanksgiving to give back? Of all the food bloggers and culinarily-astute friends I have I didn't expect recruiting to be an issue.
Because budgets are tight and ingredients to cook for so many women can be costly, I submitted to Foodbuzz 24 x 24 and was so pleased that we were selected for their sponsorship. Now to organize a menu, and shop!


Collard greens. By the case. I suppose there's a first time for everything!


15 pounds of black-eyed peas: check.


(*Flair).


Heaviest cart I've ever pushed! I panicked a little how I'd store the perishables until the next day in my little fridge... Move over beer, I've got 30 pounds of chicken to get in there! (Ah, it's amazing the things you can accomplish with determination and a little elbow grease).


Day of! Katie, the DWC's volunteer coordinator welcomes us to the kitchen, and gives the group a little background about the center.


Hairnets on! Aprons tied! Hands washed!


Kristin The Cuisinerd harnesses her inner cafeteria lady and perfects her hairnet.


Our Menu

Oven-fried Chicken
Sweet Potato Fries
Collard Greens
Black-eyed Peas

We only had two hours in the DWC kitchen to complete our prep work. Clock ticking, I delegated tasks and everyone manned their work stations with good-natured dedication.


Popular lifestyle blogger H.C. of L.A. and O.C. Foodventures shows off his Nutty Professor apron, and mad chicken tender-making knife skills.


Teal tackling the collards, while Christine volunteered for the arduous task of sorting the peas...


Robin, our resident chicken man. Michael opted for sweet potato duty.


Project Collard: Complete.


Cat's laugh could be heard throughout the kitchen, and Alexis came all the way from Iowa to peel yams!


Kristin couldn't believe that 30 bunches of collards and 15 cartons of vegetable stock would fit in her cauldron.


Just like at Spago...


I couldn't have asked for a more enthusiastic, fun, and spirited group. We prepped a meal for 130 women in 2 hours flat, had everything labeled and in the walk-in for the following day's lunch service.
Before we parted, Katie lead us to the front of the building where Made, a new cafe/gift boutique run by the DWC was having a holiday reception. The beautiful space was created to "break the cycle of poverty and chronic unemployment by helping low-income and homeless women discover their talents and develop their skills through job readiness training and product development opportunities." The shop sells gift-ready homemade goods by DWC residents, such as vintage teacup candles, beaded ornaments, repurposed journals, and succulent arrangements. The cafe proudly serves Groundwork Coffee and prepared foods by Tiara Cafe (both also native to downtown). All proceeds go directly back into the DWC for job training and skills-building workshops. It felt SO good to get some early holiday shopping done there versus the Black Friday circuit. Highly recommended!


According to Katie the meal was a hit with the women, receiving rave reviews. While I think our group was confident about creating a good menu, what made me the most proud was how many people (almost everyone, really) thanked and told me how much they couldn't wait to come back and do this again, and soon!


If you want to find out more about organizing your own group or how to get involved as an individual, visit the DWC's volunteer page at http://dwcweb.org/volunteer.htm. And of course, the center has many holiday needs right now as they're giving each woman a personalized gift this season. To learn more about that, visit http://dwcweb.org/holidays/index.htm.
I urge those outside of Los Angeles to find an organization in your community that would benefit from a home-cooked meal. Food is love, fit to be shared.

Happy Thanksgiving!