Friday, January 28, 2011


angel food cake with chocolate ganache

featherlight and fluffy, glazed with decadent dark chocolate. a serrated knife works best for slicing. 

for cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
12 egg whites at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

for ganache:
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

preheat oven to 325 degrees.

whisk 3/4 cup sugar with cake flour. set aside. 

in standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar and salt to soft peaks on medium-high speed. gradually whip in remaining 3/4 cup sugar. continue to whip until egg whites are thick and shiny and hold firm peaks, then beat in lemon juice and vanilla.

sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over egg whites and fold very gently with rubber spatula until no visible flour remains. continue folding flour mixture into egg whites, 1/4 cup at a time, until just incorporated. 

scrape batter into ungreased tube pan, smooth top, and lightly tap bottom of pan against work surface to set batter. bake 50-60 minutes, until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. 

invert tube pan over funnel or sturdy long-necked bottle to cool completely upside down, 2-3 hours. turn tube pan right side up and carefully run flexible knife around sides of pan and center tube to release cake. gently invert cake onto serving platter.

for chocolate ganache, place chocolate chips, heavy cream and butter in heat-proof bowl set over pan of simmering water and stir unti chocolate melts (you can also do this in microwave, stirring every 45 seconds or so until melted.) pour chocolate over top of cooled cake to cover completely, allowing it to drizzle down sides.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

you say potato, i say gratin de pommes de terre

potato gratin

transport your dinner guests to a bistro in france with these golden coins of potatoes layered with rich, garlicky cream

6 baking potatoes, such as russets
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
7 garlic cloves, smashed with a knife
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided

preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

combine cream, milk, garlic and herbs in saucepan. season with salt and pepper. bring to low simmer and cook 30 minutes. strain, discarding garlic and herbs. 

meanwhile, peel potatoes. using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice them 1/8-inch thick into large bowl. cover with cold water to rinse their starch. drain potatoes and pat as dry as possible with paper towels or kitchen towels.

butter a 10x14-inch (or thereabouts) gratin dish with 1 tablespoon butter. arrange first layer of potatoes in concentric circles, overlapping them by nearly half. season lightly with salt and pepper. pour 1/2 cup flavored cream over potatoes. repeat layering process of potatoes, salt and pepper, and infused cream three more times, equalling 4 layers in total. dot with remaining tablespoon butter. cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. remove foil and bake, uncovered, for another 15-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbly. let cool a few minutes for cream to set before serving. 
you could also bake as individual gratins

Thursday, January 20, 2011

pork out

roasted pork loin

earthy, succulent and juicy, infused with a trio of fresh herbs and drizzled with a flavorful pan sauce

4 garlic cloves, peeled
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dijon mustard
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 3-pound boneless pork loin, trimmed and tied
a few sprigs fresh rosemary
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup chicken stock

with mortar and pestle, pound garlic with 3/4 tablespoon kosher salt to a paste. add thyme leaves, parsley, dijon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a few grinds of pepper, and stir to combine (you can also make marinade in food processor.)

slather half of marinade over pork, reserving other half. cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to overnight. take pork out of refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. season with salt and pepper and allow to sit at room temperature for another 30 minutes. 

preheat oven to 325 degrees.

heat a large pan over high heat. add 2 tablespoons olive oil, wait until pan is extremely hot, then sear pork on all sides until caramelized, about 10 minutes (don't rush this step or turn meat too quickly or else it will stick to pan.)

transfer pork to roasting rack set over roasting pan. spread with reserved marinade. scatter thyme and rosemary sprigs on top and dot with 3 tablespoons butter. roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat reaches 135 degrees, approximately 1 hour 15 minutes (all ovens are different, so cooking time may vary.) cover pork loosely with foil and let rest at least 15 minutes. discard herb sprigs and remove strings before slicing.

while pork is roasting, return searing pan to stove over medium-high heat. wait a minute or two, then deglaze with chicken stock. bring to boil, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. remove from heat and whisk in 3 tablespoons butter.

just before serving, add any juices meat gave off during roasting/resting to pan sauce. bring to boil, reduce until slightly thickened, and spoon over slices of pork.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

all dressed up

dijon vinaigrette
-makes about 1 cup-

gently toss tender young lettuces, such as little gems or red and green oak leaf, with just enough vinaigrette until leaves glisten.

1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespooons finely minced shallot
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper 

with a mortar and pestle, pound garlic to a paste with kosher salt (you can also do this directly on your cutting board with the back of your knife.) in a small bowl, combine garlic, shallot, dijon, vinegar and lemon juice. slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified. season with freshly ground black pepper. taste and adjust for acid and salt if necessary. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

dip it good

fresh and zesty, my guacamole and pico de gallo are surefire crowd-pleasers, perfect with a big bowl of warm tortilla chips and icy cervezas!


8 ripe haas avocados 
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 2 limes
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño, minced, seeded if desired
1 big handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

halve and pit the avocados. using a tablespoon, scoop the flesh out of their skins into a large mixing bowl. add the rest of the ingredients. using two small knives, slice through mixture until blended but still a bit chunky, then give everything a final stir to combine. (if you prefer a smoother guacamole, mash with a fork to desired consistency.) serve with tortilla chips.

*to keep guacamole green, store in refrigerator covered with plastic wrap pressed directly against its surface.

pico de gallo (fresh chopped tomato salsa)

6 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño, minced, seeded if desired
1 big handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
a drizzle of good extra-virgin olive oil 
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. let stand for 15 minutes for flavors to marry. serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

farm to table

a final dish is only as good as the quality of ingredients one starts with. which is why, schedule permitting, every wednesday and saturday i hurry to the santa monica farmers' market to forage my way through the stalls and revel in the season's bounty. i'm not alone. the santa monica farmers' market is frequented by some of LA's coolest chefs looking to get their hands on beautiful produce harvested at the peak of ripeness.

i always decide what to cook after visiting the market where i'm hugely inspired by the colors, smells and flavors unique to each season...meyer lemons, persimmons and cauliflower in winter...asparagus, fava beans and rhubarb in spring...tomatoes, corn and berries in summer...apples, wild mushrooms and pomegranates in fall. i could go on and on. 

i encourage you to eat market-fresh. befriend your own network of farmers and purveyors providing locally grown and sustainably farmed produce to your neighborhood. think globally, act locally!

x, b

whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

a healthier alternative to a classic, big on taste and texture

*makes approximately 18 cookies
*special equipment: large baking sheets, parchment paper, food processor, electric mixer (optional)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons light agave nectar
1 extra large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 - 3/4 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

combine flour, oats, baking soda and salt in food processor. pulse until finely ground. set aside.

using an electric mixer, or by hand, cream butter, sugar and agave until light and fluffy. add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. add flour mixture until just combined. stir in chocolate chips.

drop heaping tablespoons of dough (i use a small ice cream scoop) onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (approximately 9 cookies per sheet). transfer sheets to refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes. meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

bake 1 sheet at a time until golden around edges, about 15 minutes, rotating tray midway to ensure even baking.

remove baking sheet from oven. let cookies cool slightly on pan then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.