Deborah Madison Shares From Her Own Cozy Kitchen


When searching for answers to life’s questions we like to defer to the masters, and Deborah Madison certainly falls into that category. She was cooking from an enlightened perspective long before it was fashionable or even acceptable in many circles. From the San Francisco Zen Center to Chez Panisse, Madison has taken every opportunity to engage in the deepest examination of vegetarian cuisine.  And now a lifetime of expertise has been condensed into her latest book, In My Kitchen, a collection of favorite vegetarian recipes she serves at home.

We must start by highlighting the mouthwatering Romanesco sauce inspired by a trip to Spain. This deep, complex, sunny blend is oh so satisfying. We added a big dollop to soup, but honestly we want to slather this winner on everything in the kitchen including the roasted cauliflower recipe she pairs it with in the book.

A crisp, sweet, spicy citrus and avocado salad with lime-cumin vinaigrette atop shredded greens is the definition of invigoration and the ideal accompaniment to heavier dishes of beans or animal protein. Deborah is not interested in pushing lifestyle choices down anyones throat and is thrilled that in this day and age one can choose to be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore on any night of the week it calls to them.

That is not to say that vegetarian and vegan dishes can’t be supremely satisfying.  Their hardiness is clearly demonstrated in her potato and chickpea stew with sautéed spinach. It’s a memorable bowl sure to warm the hearts of all who dive in.

Deborah’s rubarb-rasberry compote couldn’t be easier and the tangy, tart, mildly sweet flavor is a winner served with cookies, over ice cream or as a side dish, transforming any weeknight dinner into a special occasion. It is beyond scrumptious and all we had to do was throw a few easy ingredients together, 3 to be exact. We made a triple batch and enjoyed it for a full week before finally scraping the bowl clean.

Worried Deborah’s healthy style will deny you sweet treats? No need, her walnut nugget cookies pair surprisingly well with the rhubarb and raspberry compote.

While encouraging readers to nourish themselves in the fashion that best suits their mood, Deborah makes the process surprisingly easy and we greatly appreciate that. Those ready to dive into a healthy dose of mother natures best would be wise to pick up Deborah Madison’s, In My Kitchen and transform their cooking with instruction straight from the cozy kitchen of one of the shining stars of the culinary world. Bon Appetit.

 

Joan Nathan Sets King Solomon’s Table Beautifully

The award-winning “Queen of American Jewish Cooking”, Joan Nathan, has pulled together recipes from countries near and far in her latest book, King Solomon’s Table. This compilation celebrates the vast reach of both Joan and the Jewish people. Pages overflowing with explorations of culinary highlights from around the world, personal stories, historic insights, biblical references and health and wellness mentions, make this book a captivating read.

You can expect a delightful journey through Joan’s travels, insights, wealth of knowledge and recipes that guide readers to the heart of Jewish cooking. Local ingredients and produce from far flung corners of the globe add new twists and honor the core essence of these ancestral dishes. The book spans the spectrum from light and refreshing summer pleasures such as Herbert Samuel’s Tomato salad, to hardier dishes including Salyanka, a beef and vegetable stew from the country of Georgia.

Vegetarians, Vegans and Omnivores will all be nourished by the handsome photos, clear direction and comforting properties of recipes including Quinoa Salad with Squash, Feta and Pecans.

Don’t miss one of Joan’s favorites, Harira, a spiced Moroccan vegetable soup made with chick peas, cilantro and lemon that warms the body and soul.

There are treats in the book as well and we couldn’t stop eating the Pizza Ebraica, which is not pizza at all, but a fabulous Italian dessert made with nuts, dried fruit and wine.  These little slices of heaven will be gone in a flash when served at any happy gathering, which is its tradition.

King Solomon’s Table extols the virtues, blessings and warm embrace that Jewish food has always brought to the table. And Joan’s incorporation of a wide array of cultural influences, entices indulgence into the historic traditions and cuisine of the chosen people. To meet up with Joan, check out her book tour schedule and discover when she will be signing books at an event near you.

 

The Perfect Blend Is Just That

Tess Masters, also known as The Blender Girl, always delivers an engaging wealth of information on eating healthy.  So it’s no surprise that her new book, The Perfect Blend, keeps up the tradition with one hundred blender recipes designed to energize and revitalize.

One of our favorite dishes from her stunning, image-rich book is, Gentle Lentils. This sensational soup is impossible to put down. The addicting qualities radiating from the bowl are due in part to the incorporation of her Basil-Is-The-Bomb sauce, which helps forward this transcendent pairing. Try this soup!

Tess puts a new spin on everything. The book is broken into chapters titled for what they can do for you instead of a more traditional organization. You can look up instruction that will help promote detox, energy, immunity, weight loss, probiotic formation, and so on. We love knowing how our meals are benefiting us. Bravo Tess.

Raw Broccoli Brilliance, transforms raw broccoli florets into a panoply of textures that complement the bright, tangy, sweet and spicy flavors of her dressing. You’ll find this one in the protein chapter. Be sure to check out the chart on page 2 of the introduction to discover which categories ingredients fall under. Produce, spices, herbs, seeds and nuts all play into a number of benefits and readers are introduced to a basic understanding of how each supports stellar health.

Cauliflower rice is a base which can be doused with a vegetable rich melange, featuring sweet potatoes, Swiss chard and roasted almond butter in Sustenance Stew. Supremely satisfying.

Tess believes that the blender is the greatest tool we have for making delicious, beautiful, healthy, fast food. This book enables home chefs at every level of expertise to easily incorporate plant power and body revitalization into everyday meals. Look for lots of unique produce like Melissa’s fresh coconut water, where the sweet, natural nectar runs circles around bottled alternatives.

There are also treats, from Classic Cheesecake to Chocolate Mint Mania, lest you think eating healthy is out of alignment with a sweet tooth. The two come together beautifully.

The Perfect Blend, dishes out practical step by step guidance and health benefits of blending, combining and cooking hero foods. Be prepared for a focus on eating well and having fun. What’s not to love about that? The Perfect Blend can be purchased on Amazon through the title links in red. It is definitely time to dust off the blender and enjoy mother nature’s delicious bounty.

 

Turkish is an Inspired Addition to Westwood’s Eclectic Culinary Mix

Our exhilarating explorations through Istanbul, GaziantepUrfa and Cappadocia in Turkey last year, left us hungry for the UNESCO honored cuisine we sampled there.  Special thanks are in order to culinary connoisseurs, Faye and Yakir Levywho introduced us to The Kitchen @ Westwood.

This quaint, centrally located, gem of a restaurant, offers dishes we thought we could only indulge in after a 13 hour flight.  For starters they display samples of the quintessential Turkish snack and breakfast specialty,  borek. These flakey pastries, either baked or fried, savory or sweet, are filled with a wide variety of tempting ingredients from meat to cheese, potato to spinach and feta. But alas these tasty wonders are just the beginning of an array of inspired Turkish delicacies.

A sampling of The Kitchen’s dips proved to be a great choice.  We savored the smoothest, creamiest hummus from a secret recipe (all we know is that tahini is involved) that is worth its weight in gold. The smokey eggplant dip is about as habit-forming as they come and the refreshing yogurt with cucumber revitalizes the palate when eaten with or between any items on the menu.

The Fusion Salad is a reminder that although Turkish ingredients are used, this restaurant is firmly planted in Los Angeles, where our quest for the best tasting and healthiest salads mimics what the Turks have known all along; healthy food can be delicious. This combination of dark leafy power greens, broccoli, quinoa, strawberry, apple, sliced almonds and a pomegranate vinaigrette are the pinnacle of cuisine combining. We could eat this riot of health and wellness on a plate every day and strongly recommend doing just that.

Pide, is often referred to as Turkish pizza because of its obvious resemblance to the world famous pie. At the kitchen we found a delightful version topped with cheese, egg and Turkish sausage that rivals pide in Istanbul. A meal in themselves, one can also share a variety of uniquely topped pide as an appetizer when dining with a large group.

Turkish doner is recognized locally as shawarma and prepared traditionally on a rotating vertical spit. The dark meat and skin elevated by Turkish spices, keep the chicken well marinated and succulent.

Shaved hot off their towers, the doner is presented in numerous ways, from stuffed inside sandwiches to plates piled high. The luscious, moist, mildly spiced meats showcase the high quality ingredients and skill that go into the preparations.

The beef doner is topped with crispy lamb skin and fat, keeping it super tender.

Kebabs of chicken, beef or salmon are also charred to perfection, plump chunks, complemented by grilled vegetables and rice or layered into sandwiches with customers choice of pita or French bread. Try not to miss the in-house baked focaccia which exemplifies the culinary diversity and expertise of the talented chefs.

Another Turkish, under-the-radar dish is manti, which are beef stuffed ravioli smothered in yogurt and paprika sauce. This pasta plate is a warm and comforting tradition enjoyed throughout Turkey.

Iskender Kebab starts with beef doner that is lovingly placed on top of cubed bread and then doused in a rich tomato sauce. It is served with yogurt, pickles and pita bread.

Turkish tea is a staple at breakfast and throughout the day. We consumed more cups in Turkey than anywhere else we have traveled. So our meal was not complete without many glasses that we enhanced with just a touch of sugar.

However the sugar may not be necessary if you choose the flakey, buttery, pistachio laden baklava that is the pride of Gaziantep. The Kitchen’s version is on point and a scrumptious interpretation we would happily indulge in with our Turkish tea for an afternoon snack, dessert or anytime we need a well balanced sweet.

As one of the few Turkish restaurants in Los Angeles offering stunning renditions of Turkish favorites, we encourage visiting The Kitchen @ Westwood for a chance to savor this specialty, hard-to-find cuisine right here in our own UCLA centric neighborhood.

Sara Moulton Makes Life Easy

Sara Moulton is sharing her best tips, techniques and secrets with the goal of making all of us better home cooks through guidance from her latest book, Home Cooking 101.  The TV Chef superstar incorporates step by step instruction and photos, giving readers a visual manual that instils confidence and promotes efficiency.  Fans can easily follow along and craft dishes that make dining at home a pleasure.

She decodes the mysteries of the culinary arts that prevent many of us from achieving success. Pointers in the details, various preparations, flavor pairing, timing, equipment and how to stock a pantry make the magic accessible.

Interested in traditional dishes like fancy stuffed eggs? Sara lays out uncomplicated and enticing versions with advice on fashioning stunning presentations of the melt-in-your-mouth standard.

Moulton points out that King’s Hawaiian rolls are the perfect, comforting foil for her Beef Stroganoff Burgers. If your family adores substantial, meaty dinners, try these.  Not to worry if carbs are not your thing, she gives alternatives such as sour cream, dijon mustard and porcini mushrooms which replace the bread and top the burgers beautifully.

Spicy creamed corn is a swoon inducing dish, uniting summer’s freshest (in winter frozen corn can be used) with Serrano chilies for a zesty kick punctuated by fresh lemon or lime. This heavenly combination is a winning side dish that complements everything you serve.

Chef Moulton takes into consideration dietary preferences, with her omnivore focused book giving nods to vegetarians and vegans through blissfully versatile menus.  Dishes such as root vegetable bourguignon highlight the rich umami found in the original beef based dish without a trace of animal derived ingredients.

Something Sweet, the last chapter of the book, simplifies all those gorgeous desserts we thought were too difficult to even attempt. Now we can impress with the best of them.

Robert Schueller, produce expert and director of public relations at Melissa’s Produce let us know that colorful, prepackaged, simplified preparations of fruit and vegetables are what’s trending in 2017.  We think color and easy to use produce are philosophies that are here to stay and in perfect alignment with Moulton’s message of ease and joy in the kitchen.

If simplicity and grace are what you’re looking for, Sara Mouton’s Home Cooking 101, delivers expertly to those of us who lack the training but still embrace the desire to put out stunning meals for friends and family. Thank you Sara.

Dorie’s Cookies: the Guidebook for the Season

The holidays could aptly be named cookie season, as the tantalizing bites seem to pop-up everywhere this time of year. Which makes Dorie Greenspan’s new book impeccably timed. Timing is a trait highlighted in chapter one, The Perfect-Cookie Handbook. This entree into her world delves deep into techniques, ingredients and gear, exploring the secrets she has amassed over her renowned baking career and lovingly corralled into Dorie’s Cookies.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, these are not your standard cookie recipes. They span continents, ethnicities, cultures, occasions, creative expression, a myriad of textures, tastes, ingredients, the spicy, savory and of course the sweet. We were swept away by the Cocoa-Cayanne (pictured above) and couldn’t get enough of the brilliant Rosemary-Parmesian Cocktail Cookies (below).

The invaluable tips and tricks include achieving uniformity in your cookie size by using baking rings or placing them in muffin tins. Pretty clever in our estimation. Dorie is intent on making us all better bakers and on that she delivers big time.

Crisp French Vanilla Sables are simply divine and had us swooning at first buttery bite.

While Classic Jammers reminded us of grandma’s best.

A perfect holiday gift for all the talented bakers you know or those who aspire to be, Dorie’s Cookies guarantees superior treats for years to come. Check out the two day shipping opportunities at Amazon.com if you want to pick up a few copies of the best seller before the holiday weekend and be sure to luxuriate in the deliciousness of cookie season.

Zapien’s Mexican Delicacies

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With Chef Marco Zapien presiding over the Grand Reopening of Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria in Pico Rivera, customers are guaranteed a delectable adventure through a wide variety of regional Mexican specialties. Named the best Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles seven times, Marco has a lot to be proud of and he took time out of his extremely hectic schedule to demonstrate the steps that go into the creation of their well regarded chile verde. The dish of tender pork cubes braised in tomatillo salsa is crafted with a melange of chili peppers, herbs, spices and the distinctly tart tomatillos, often referred to as Mexican green tomatoes.

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The restaurant’s menu is loaded with exceptionally flavorful dishes starting with a mildly spicy chipotle bean dip that is as addictive as any we have ever had the pleasure of digging into. And that’s just the beginning.

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Freshly made guacamole satisfies brightly with its use of perfectly ripe avocado, tomato, onion, and cilantro.

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The secret to the success of Zapien’s dishes is integrating only the freshest ingredients including the savory tortillas prepared throughout the day. Everything is made in house, so be sure not to miss the salsa ranchera which can be used to add a spicy dash of invigoration.

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Their potato tacos burst forth with an abundance of shredded lettuce, cheese and a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes. We love this refreshing interpretation that elevates the staple potato tacos to a higher level of refinement and gusto.

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The enticing artistry and scrumptious flavors of Zapien’s Enchilada en Mole, tantalize with chipotle braised chicken, freshly prepared corn tortillas, a slathering of their specialty mole poblano salsa and a creative drizzle of sour cream.  This rich and complex dish has us singing Chef Marco’s praises to everyone we meet.

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The extensive menu highlights Zapien family recipes including chiles rellenos, fajitas, carne asada and sopes to name just a few. Your favorite Mexican dishes are sure to be found here with Chef Marco’s innovative spins and traditional interpretations. For those as taken with the cuisine as we are, Zapien offers cooking demonstrations, each with a different theme.  The price of these classes include techniques, tips, all you can eat tastings and drink specials throughout the evening.

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When dining with the Zapien family, be sure not to miss the comforting and dense bread pudding with caramel sauce. It is a treat best savored slowly with coffee or tea for a satisfying end to a memorable meal.

Zapien’s Salsa Grill and Taqueria is located at 6702 Rosemead Boulevard in Pico Rivera.

Rachel Hollis Makes Comfort Food Easy

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Rachel Hollis’ new cookbook, Upscale Downhome, is forcing us to come clean.  First, cooking is not one of our well honed talents and on top of that we love comfort food. So when the opportunity arose to witness Rachel’s cooking in person, we grabbed it and can honestly say we were amazed not only by how tasty everything was, but also by the abundance of short cuts she incorporates into her book. Upscale Downhome is just the home cooking cheat sheet we have been searching for.

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We found the charming presentation and vibrant pesto mayo of her BLT Bites (page 42) too adorable and delicious to refuse and admit to grabbing a few extra for the trip down memory lane they conjured. Perhaps a more seasoned chef would find a recipe for a BLT mundane, but we would proudly display and serve this particular version at all our festive gatherings for the delight they bring to everyone who sees and tastes them.

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One of the best features of this book is that each step is not only explained, but also clearly detailed in photos, so readers know they are on the right track all through the process, not just at the end when it is too late to make amends. Turkey Chili (page 105) puts the slow cooker to good use and we love dishes that practically cook themselves by simmering away for hours.

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Comfort food comes in all forms and there are plenty of produce based dishes to indulge in, including a snappy Fresh Green Bean Salad (page 121).

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But when we think hard core comfort food, we have to say we fell in love with Rachel’s Sticky Ham and Cheese (page 39) which combine the sweetness of King’s Hawaiian Rolls with salty and savory melted Swiss and ham slices. The enchanting miniature size of these beauties make them all the more irresistible.

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Creative ideas for pulling together a variety of festive events abound. Besides sections dedicated to dips, snacks, casseroles, slow cookers and dishes to bring to potlucks, Rachel also has a delightful dessert division. Her Cookie Pudding Pie (page 187) combines all our favorite sweets and serves them in divine, tiny canning jars.

For those interested in endearing recipes, party ideas and presentations for family-friendly comfort foods, Rachel Hollis’ Upscale Downhome is just the guide for you.

Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese and So Much More

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Stunning photos by award-wining photographer Masano Kawana are just the tip of the wonton in Katie Chin’s newly published Everyday Chinese Cookbook, 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mothers Kitchen.  Leeann Chin, Katie’s mother, was a celebrated restauranteur and together they cohosted the PBS cooking series Double Happiness. Katie’s passions for Asian cooking have led to a successful career as a caterer, culinary consultant and writer along with numerous TV appearances, a gig at the White House, and many articles featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, O, the Oprach magazine and Cooking Light.

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The visually stunning book highlights not only the mastery of Chin family recipes, but also explains Chinese ingredients, cooking techniques and tools. All the dishes we know and love are present and accounted for with simple, easy to replicate instructions.

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The Chinese Chicken Salad, Katie explains, was invented in Los Angeles, and her version on page 56 is as invigorating and enjoyable as any we’ve tried.  We will be making this one to impress friends and family for many years to come.  It’s a winner and practically effortless to pull together.

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The Starters and Dim Sum section is loaded with dumplings, lettuce cups, summer rolls and an assortment of mouth-watering singed meats on a stick.  For those like us who adore appetizers, this section is worthy of some serious exploration.

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We also received an education on Chinese fusion desserts.  If you didn’t know, and we certainly didn’t,  five spice powder and chocolate cake make an unbelievably exhilarating pairing. This is our new go to when we want to deliver a unique cake that both surprises and delights.

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While Nutella-Raspberry Wontons are as much a treat for the eyes as they are for the tongue.

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Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook is just that, a compilation of recipes easy enough for everyday cooking, that is also punctuated with creative inspiration keeping things fresh. Thank you Katie for rekindling childhood favorites and crafting inspired new meldings.  It all works beautifully.

Turkish Treasure

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The hard to find cuisine of Turkey has a new roving venue in Kuzine Foods Co., brought to us by Los Angeles and Orange County caterers extraordinaire, Eda Akarsu Smith and Hülya Nigar Aksu.

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The authentic flavors and dishes of their homeland are tastefully presented, allowing those planning parties to set a beautifully hospitable Turkish table.

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The exceptional baking skills of the Kuzine chefs is evident with each mouthwatering bite of the freshly baked traditional Turkish breads.

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Açma sometimes referred to as Turkish bagels, come plain or stuffed with Nutella, an inspired melding of sweet and savory.  Poğaça, often sold by street vendors, are stuffed with cheese, olive or potato as well as served plain wth tea at breakfast or as a snack. Catal, are a slightly sweet and savory pretzel shaped pastry that is also great for breakfast or snacks with tea.

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The Borek of Kuzine is loaded with tender spinach and tangy feta that simply melts in your mouth.  It is our dream snack and honestly we have been having a hard time finding versions this tasty anywhere in Los Angeles.

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Tabouli from Kuzine Foods is a well balanced mix of greens, onion, tomato, dressing and a sprinkling of bulgur, making for a most refreshing salad we could eat all day long.

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Cemen, a spicy red spread, explodes with the famous Turkish red pepper paste, tomato paste, ground walnuts, olive oil, garlic, cumin and bread crumbs.  This famous dish is not to be missed for its traditional taste of Turkey.

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Refreshing salads and starters abound on the vast meze table presented by these talented kitchen enchantresses.

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After salads and appetizers, the Turkish table is famous for its kebab and meatballs.

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Formed patties and skewered meats are available in a variety of styles based on what the host feels will be best for each particular event Kuzine will be catering.

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And of course no meal is complete without a sweet and what better way to finish off a meal than with flakey, butter layers of walnut baklava.

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For a new spin on a dinner party or event, the traditional preparations of the mesmerizing cuisine of Turkey is presented with grace and exceptional skill by the highly recommend Kuzine Foods Co., www.kuzinefoods.com    818-484-0757