Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lucky Devils - Hollywood

Do you remember this Diet Coke commercial from the early 90s? Do you ever wonder what happened to the hunky model that starred in it? Well, his name is Lucky Vanous and he opened a restaurant in Hollywood that bears his name. Lucky Devils has been on Hollywood Blvd. for five years slinging what can best be described as "man food" in a fun and casual environment. A few weeks ago, I was invited to sample many of their offerings.

To get the evening started. We had glasses of The Jug, Mercury Geyserville and of Eccelstone, Tangent 2007. Both were light and fruity on the palate in each of their wine ways. The Jug in particular paired well with many of the foods we tried.

Ecclestone, Tangent 2007, EValley, California

You can order The Jug by the glass or by the bottle. We agreed, the bottle is so cute.

The Jug, Mercury Geyserville

Right off the bat, we noticed that almost all of the dishes had some sort of spice to them. The sweet potato fries come with an addictive pasilla garlic aioli.

Sweet Potato Fries w/pasilla garlic aioli

The jalapeno hummus is served with the restaurant's house-made flat bread. The bread is done every day and grilled to give it a smoky flavor. You can also get the bread as part of the Flaming Goat. I'm not the biggest fan of goat cheese, but I love when it is transformed with a few herbs. I almost didn't mind the bell peppers on top of it too since the goat cheese was so good.

Jalapeno Hummus

Flaming Goat

We sampled two of Lucky Devils most famous burgers, The Diablo and the Bacon Bleu. The Diablo is topped with white cheddar, double smoked bacon, avocado, arugula, 1000 Island sauce, and lucky devil hot sauce. It's a mouthful to say the least, but so good and of course spicy. I actually preferred the Bacon Bleu burger better with the sweet caramelized onions and bleu cheese providing a nice contrast to the bacon.

The Diablo Burger and Bacon Bleu Burger

The white pizza is topped with herbed ricotta, mozzarella, grana padano, Parmesan, portabello mushrooms and wild arugula. By the time we got to it, the pizza was a bit cold and the arugula had wilted to the point of sadness, but we could see how it would have been better if we hadn't waited so long.

White Pizza

The hickory smoked baby back ribs arrive on a plate with fries. They have that signature Lucky Devils sweet and smoky flavor. This is certainly "stick to your ribs" food. Not pictured are the BBQ Chicken sliders with almost indiscernible "spicy" and "sweet" sauces. They both tasted spicy AND sweet to me. Also not pictured is the Lucky Pig sandwich with beer braised pork and spicy pickled vegetables on the side. I expected this to be spicy and sweet like the other meaty dishes, but it has a lovely smoky flavor with none of the sweetness. It was really good the next day and the pickled vegetables helped cut through the smokiness.

Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs

I should have been a good blogger like HC and written down the names of all the beers we tried, but I can tell you, my favorite was the Belgian Pale Ale. With it's medium body and fruity notes, I could have sipped it all evening long if it weren't for all that food.

Craft Beers

Chili cheese fries and rosemary fries to soak up some of the beer. I could only manage a bite of the chili cheese fries because at this point all of the meat items were starting to taste the same to me, but I became addicted to the rosemary garlic fries. The rosemary was strong, but not overpowering and I think by now, we all know that I am a garlic fanatic. I loved them. Another picture I didn't get was the onion battered of course and paired with a habenero ranch sauce. These onion rings were way better than the ones we tried at Nic's just a couple of weeks before and were well seasoned with that great oniony flavor.

Chili Cheese Fries

Garlic Rosemary Fries 

By this point, I was unsure as to how I would fit more food in, but we were then presented with the Liege Sundae. This was a bit too rich for me and the waffle had a funky texture, but I really enjoyed the vanilla custard with the Belgian chocolate sauce and salted caramel beer sauce which helped cut through the sweetness of the waffle.

The Liège Sundae

So. Much. Food.

Lucky Devils

We left the restaurant loaded down with bags of leftovers. The bacon and bleu burger made an excellent breakfast the next morning. In an ideal world, I would have a work schedule that would let me attend happy hours and I would certainly suggest Lucky Devils. Though the wine selection is limited, they have some interesting craft beers and the food can be easily shared with a group. Despite the nightmare parking in the area, I would go back and sit on the patio to sip some brews. I'm looking forward to checking out the restaurant again after the remodel.

*All food and drinks were comped. Opinions are my own

Lucky Devils
6613 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 465-8259

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Prosciutto and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeno Mustard

Prosciutto and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeno Mustard

This was my other contribution to the slumber party. I figured we would be in the mood for something snacky and indeed we were. Chips are fine, but here is a way to kind of class up your snack table. After my successful pass at pretzels a few months ago, I was interested in making more. The only thing is that pretzels are kind of a time consuming process. Much of that period is downtime so you can do other things like make donuts, but I think these are even more of a treat because of the work that goes in to them. That said, the work is totally worth it because these are delicious. They definitely curb a salty snack craving, but there is a hint of sweetness in the pretzel itself and more than a hint in the honey mustard dressing.

Prosciutto and Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeno Mustard
(Adapted from Gourmet, October 2009)

*Note, I used a smoked prosciutto because the original recipe called for country ham which I did not have, but smoked prosciutto is similar in flavor.

Makes about 36 bites

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped prosciutto
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons wildflower honey
2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded fresh jalapenos
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pretzel salt or coarse salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon brown syagr, and warm water. Let it stand for 5-8 minutes until foamy. If the mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.  In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar into the warm milk until dissolved.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and the milk mixture to the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until soft dough forms. Add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it to form a smooth ball. Transfer the dough ball to a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hanfs with flour, then gently roll and stretch one piece of dough to form a 12-inch long rope. Flatten the dough and arrange so a long side is nearest you, then roll out to a roughly 12x4-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Press one quarter of the proscitto and cheese into the lower third of the rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the bottom edge. Stretch the bottom of the dough up over the filling and press tightly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible to form a rope. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces and transfer to the baking pan. Make 3 more ropes with the remaining dough, prosciutto, and cheese and cut them into pieces. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The dough will rise slightly.

Bring 6 cups of water to a gentle boil in a 4 or 5 quart saucepan. Reduce the heat and stir in baking soda. Cook the pretzel bites in batches in gently simmering water, turning once until slightly puffed, about 20 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pretzel bites back to the sheet pans.

Bake the pretzel bites until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

Brush the warm pretzel bites with butter and sprinkle with salt. Meanwhile, stir together the Dijon, honey, and jalapenos. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve the pretzel bites warm or at room temperature with the jalapeno mustard for dipping.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Blueberry Pomegranate Donuts

Blueberry Pomegranate Donuts

Last week I got together with a few close friends for a potluck/slumber party. I love the idea of a bunch of thirty-somethings hanging out in PJs sipping cocktails and catching up. A fun time was had by all and my friends are really good cooks. We ate like crazy and tried to work off the calories by playing various games on Kinect. Too much fun! These donuts were one of my contributions to the party. I saw them a few weeks ago on Foodgawker and could not stop thinking about them. Now that blueberries are back in season, I could not pass up the opportunity to make these. I didn't have the regular pom juice called for in the original recipe, but a while back POM Wonderful sent me some of their new pomegranate juice concentrate. I particularly find this ingredient helpful because it takes a loooong time to make pomegranate molasses and the concentrate gets the job done in no time, but it can also be used in other recipes like these donuts. The donuts are not too sweet and have a slight tartness from the pom. The glaze is a good mix of sweet and tart and if you add sprinkles, it just makes them that much more fun. I dare you to eat just one.

Blueberry Pomegranate Donuts

Blueberry Pomegranate Donuts with Pomegranate Glaze
(Adapted from All Day I Dream About Food)

Make 32 mini donuts

For the donuts:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon POM Wonderful pomegranate juice concentrate
3/4 cup whole milk at room temperature
1 cup blueberries, roughly chopped

For the glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
*if you are using the POM wonderful concentrate, mix 1 tablespoon of concentrate with 1/4 cup of water. Use some of the juice in the glaze and drink the rest!

To make the donuts:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lightly spray a donut pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, vanilla, pomegranate concentrate, and milk. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.
Fill each donut whole 2/3 full. Bake for 8 minute or until a toothpick inserted in the center donut comes out clean. Let the donuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Clean out the pan and repeat with the remaining batter.

To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and pomegranate juice until smooth. Dip each donut with glaze. If desired, top the donuts with sprinkles before the glaze hardens.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Parmesan Truffle Popcorn

Parmesan Truffle Popcorn

I recently came across a popcorn recipe I wanted to try. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to attempting it, it seemed a bit too involved and I wanted something easier to kick back and watch the Lady Gaga concert on HBO. I'll get around to the other recipe eventually, but this was really great in the meantime and satisfied my immediate snacking needs. It tastes more indulgent than it is and you feel like you're in one of those fancy theaters with a waiter instead of your barely furnished living room curled up on your big comfy arm chair while eating.

Parmesan Truffle Popcorn
(By Esi)

Makes about 3 cups of popcorn

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon black truffle salt

In a large saucepan or skillet that can be fitted with a cover, heat the oil and 2-3 kernels of popcorn over medium heat. Once the kernels have popped, add the remaining kernels and pop, shaking the pan constantly, until the popping stops.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, Parmesan, and truffle salt. Toss to combine and serve immediately.

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