Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spiced Candied Walnuts

Spiced Candied Walnuts

I had a really wonderful Thanksgiving weekend (as I'm sure most people did). My sister was in town from San Francisco and we had a nice combination of relaxing and partaking in fun. We volunteered at a Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate in Santa Monica, we worked off calories by hiking to the Hollywood sign, and of course we ate a ton. As I tend to do, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a couple of extra recipes for our Thanksgiving feast. These walnuts became part of a bigger recipe, but they are amazing on their own. They're a little sweet, a little salty, and warmly spiced making them great for sweet or savory pairings. I'll show you how I used them in a couple of days. Here are some highlights from the weekend:

Pupusas at the Barnsdall Farmers Market
Pupusas at the Barnsdall farmers market.

Volunteering at Westside Thanks
The Civic Auditorium became the setting for a festive dinner

Volunteering at Westside Thanks
My friend Andrew showing off his "artwork".

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Gorgeous centerpieces

Raul checking on turkey
Raul checking on the turkey

Pumpkin Pancake Cupcakes
Pumpkin Pancake Cupcakes

Gingersnap Cocktail
Gingersnap cocktail made with Canton (deeeelish!)

Hollywood Sign Hike

Hollywood Sign Hike
Getting closer

Hollywood Sign Hike
The sun setting

Hollywood Sign Hike
We made it! (The hike takes you behind the sign)

One year ago: Little Ethiopia
Two years ago: Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
Three years ago: Shrimp with Chive Butter

Spiced Candied Walnuts
(Adapted from Dishin and Dishes)

2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch aleppo pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and peppers in a bowl. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the walnuts and let them blanch for 30 seconds. Drain the walnuts, then quickly toss them with the sugar mixture (the sugar will melt).

Spread the walnuts in a single layer over the parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the nuts have toasted and the sugar is bubbling. Use two forks to separate the nuts and allow them to cool completely. Serve with salad or as a party appetizer.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Great Los Angeles Walk 2011

After a wonderful time walking through Los Angeles via Wilshire Blvd. last year, I was ready to take on the Great Los Angeles Walk again this year. I was especially thrilled that the walk would be going through some of my favorite parts of town, like Silverlake and Hollywood. Though there was rain in the forecast, the sun actually came out to play and the weather stayed dry for our stroll around town.

We started at the Triforium in Fletcher Bowman Square. The statue, while not particularly pretty, does light up to music which I would like to see some time.

The Triforium at Fletcher Bowman Square

Right across the street is Los Angeles City Hall. It's hard to believe this was once the tallest building on the west coast.

Los Angeles City Hall

Of course you can't visit downtown LA these days without seeing an Occupy Protest.

Occupy LA Protests

The beginning of the walk was not so scenic, but one of the things I do appreciate about it is that you get to see things you would oridinarily miss while driving around town. Like the beautifully colored leaves hanging from a stretch of the freeway.

Under the 101

Tribal Cafe in Echo Park has a very colorful facade. I must go back and try their eats some time.

Tribal Cafe

At long last we reached Hollywood Blvd. via Vermont Ave. Before you get to the actual Hollywood Walk of Fame, there is an amusing, self-deprecating stretch with signs like this. This was right near Taron Bakery where HC stopped for a delicious spicy beorek.

Pre-walk of fame in Hollywood

At Hollywood Toyota, a food truck "army" was set up to feed hungry walkers. None of the trucks interested us much so we pressed on.

Food Truck "Army"

We instead decided to rest our feet and fill our stomach with brews and food at Blue Palms Brewhouse. Even though this place is right down the street from me, I'd never been. Shame on me! The food and beers were delicious. Hanh and I split the scuplin sandwich and an order of truffle fries ($12). Jon was content with his tuna melt and sweet potato fries ($12) and HC seemed to love his fish tacos ($9). My food went perfectly with the Uinta Monkshine Belgian Style Blonde Ale ($6).

Blue Palms Brewhouse

Sculpin Sandwich

Truffle Fries

Tuna Melt with Sweet Potato Fries

Blue Palms Brewhouse

This was also the point when our walk turned into a bar crawl. It was all downhill from there. We followed up our lunch with a few cocktails at Loteria Grill. Dos XX Ambers for me and Jon ($6 each).

Esi 018

A spicy jalapeno margarita for Hanh.


And a tamarind margarita for HC.


The downward spiral continued at Musso & Frank. The oldest restaurant in Hollywood has bartenders and waiters almost as old as the location. It's quaint, quiet, and kind of hilarious. Our bartender Manny has been serving at the restaurant for over 20 years.

Manny the bartender

Musso and Frank

Musso and Frank

At this last stop, the walk (crawl) was basically over for me and Jon. We managed to hobble a few more blocks to Hollywood and La Brea before turning back. HC and Hanh kept going and walked the full 19.5 miles to the ocean (their energy is amazing). Though this is only my second year participating, the Great LA Walk has become one of my favorite LA traditions. I can't wait to see what the route is next year!

One year ago: Little Ethiopia
Two years ago: Pavlova with Pomegranate Curd
Three years ago: Penne with Pesto, Mascarpone, and Bacon

Taron Bakery
4950 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 663-4809

Blue Palms Brewhouse
6124 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 464-2337

Loteria Grill
6627 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 465-2500

Musso & Frank Grill
6667 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 467-7788

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Apple, Pear, Membrillo, and Manchego Turnovers

Apple, Pear, Membrillo, Manchego Turnovers

When this time of year rolls around, I always turn to the nearest person and say "I can't believe it's Thanksgiving". Well, once again, I can't believe it's Thanksgiving. Though I sometimes sound like a bit of a scrooge, I'm looking forward to sharing a table with friends and forgetting about the hecticness of life and being grateful for what I have around me. Of course, with my group of friends, no celebration is complete without a massive feast, so here is my contribution. I think I came across this recipe even before I thought of making my own quince paste and in my crazy mind, I decided I should make my own (that's just how my brain works). I love the fruit flavors combined with the salty, nutty cheese and the buttery crust. These are a little sweet, but just savory enough to be served as an appetizer to the meal. I'm making them small so people don't fill up too much before the main event. I'm looking forward to it all and once again I hope you all have a happy and delicious Thanksgiving!

One year ago: Braised Short Ribs with Autumn Root Vegetable Puree
Two years ago: Cannoli
Three years ago: Dumpling Noodle Soup

Apple, Pear, Membrillo, and Manchego Turnovers
(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Makes about 12 appetizer-sized turnovers

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed, and kept in the refrigerator until needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pink lady apple, peeled and finely diced
1 Bartlett pear, peeled and finely diced
2 tablespoons membrillo
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
12 1/2-inch thinly sliced squares of manchego cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of milk or water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the apples and pears and cook until the fruit softens, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the membrillo, sugar, and salt an cook for another 3 or so minutes until the fruit softens even more and thickens.

Add the flour and cook for 1 minute until thoroughly combined in the fruit mixture and the raw flour taste is gone. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. The mixture should resemble pie filling.

Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured board to a 12x12 rectangle. Use a 2 3/4-inch cutter to cut out rounds or cut 3x3-inch squares. Lay a piece of manchego on the lower half of each cutout. Top with a half teaspoon of the fruit filling. Dip your finger in some water and seal each turnover. Use a fork to press the edges together. Brush the top of each turnover with a bit of the egg wash and then use a paring knife to lightly score the top of each turnover so the steam can escape.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden and the filling is steaming hot within.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Slow Mondays at Ombra Ristorante

I can't believe I hadn't even heard of Ombra in Studio City. Now I find myself recommending it to friends who live and work in the area. I recently had the pleasure of attending a comped dinner during Notte Slow Mondays. Every Monday for $35 you get a lovely three course dinner. For an extra $12 you can spring for a special carafe of wine. All month of November, the restaurant is featuring mushrooms on the menu.

Shockingly, I was the first person to arrive at dinner, so I was glad to have the bread and caponata to tide me over. It seemed that most tables were being treated to arancini and I can never say no to a fried rice.

Eggplant Caponata



The first part of the main meal was a poached farm egg with truffled fonduta and swiss chard. The truffle aroma hits you the second the dish gets to the table. It's rich, but not overpowering and just the right amount of green from the chard.

Poached Egg with Truffled Fonduta and Swiss Chard

I probably would never have ordered the potato ravioli with fresh porcini mushrooms and tomato sauce on my own. Mushroom and potatoes don't normally do it for me, but this was great. The housemade pasta was perfectly cooked and the sweet tomato sauce helped balance the potato and mushrooms.

Potato Ravioli with Fresh Porcini Mushrooms

Dessert was gorgonzola cheese with fresh persimmons and aged balsamic. It sounded strange, but the chef explained this is a fairly common dish in the Parma region of Italy. This is without a doubt, my new favorite flavor combination and I can't wait to try it at home as long as persimmons are in season.

Gorgonzola with Persimmons and Aged Balsamic

As an extra little treat, we had the chocolate salami served with cannoli cream. This is basically a chocolate log with pieces of nougat and nuts made to look like salami. It's as delicious as it is fun.

Chocolate Salami

I'm still sort of in shock that I never knew about this place and it's so close to my home. I always poo poo going to the valley, but Ombra has certainly given me a reason to go back (often).

One year ago: Crostini with Poached Pears, Gorgonzola, and Honey
Two years ago: Apple Gruyere Tart
Three years ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Ombra Ristorante
3737 Cahuenga Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 985-7337

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Vanilla Sauce

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I recently became a part of an on going supper club called Dinner at Eight. The focus is mostly Southern food with our own California twist. When trying to decide what to make for the next supper, I was tasked with coming up with dessert. Nothing says fall quite like pumpkin and longtime readers know I love me some pumpkin (just as long as it's not in pie). This bread pudding is simple to make. It's warmly spiced and comforting and the bourbon vanilla sauce pushes it over the top! This coming Sunday's dinner is sold out, but keep checking the website to find out about future dinners.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Vanilla Sauce

One year ago: Great Los Angeles Walk 2010
Two years ago: Osteria Mozza: Amaro Bar Menu
Three years ago: Pumpkin Oatmeal

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Vanilla Sauce
(Adapted from Use Real Butter and Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 6-8 servings

For the sauce:
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons - 1/4 cup bourbon (depending on your taste)

For the bread pudding:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 cups day old bread (I used a semi-fresh challah, but a baguette or similar crusty bread would work), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch ground cloves
2 tablespoons bourbon

To make the sauce:
Heat the milk and cream in a medium saucepan until boiling. Remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan and add the pod. Cover and let steep for an hour.

Remove the vanilla pod from the pan and reheat the cream and milk mixture. Whisk the sugar and eggs together. Remove the cream/milk from the heat. Whisk some of the cream/milk into the yolks, a few tablespoons at a time to temper the yolks, until you have incorporated about half of the cream.

Whisk the yolk mixture into the cream and milk. Stir over medium heat until the custard thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and strain to remove any lumps. Let cool. Slowly stir in the bourbon until it reaches your preferred flavor.

To make the bread pudding:
Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the melted butter together with the bread cubes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and bourbon. Pour this liquid mixture over the bread cubes and toss to coat well. Pour into an 8x8 baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the custard sets. If you make this in individual ramekins, check them after 15 minutes. Serve the pudding with the bourbon vanilla sauce.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nutrilite Giveaway Winners

From a whopping seven entries, the winners are:

3. Kelly
5. Mrs. Bear
6. Sarah

Email me at dishingupdelights [at] gmail [dot] com to claim your loot. Congratulations!!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

City Tavern

Table taps at a restaurant? When do we get to go? One of downtown Culver City’s newest offerings is City Tavern. It’s brought to us by the same people behind Rush Street a few doors down with a decidedly more casual feel. One of the main draws is that you can reserve a table with taps, thus eliminating the need to wait for your next drink…they also serve food so how could I say no to a comped media dinner?

Table Taps

We started with a few appetizers. Burrata with butternut squash, pepitas, sweet anise crisp ($10). It’s nice to see burrata paired with something other than tomatoes whose season are coming to an end. There was pureed butternut as well as a few chunks with the pepitas making this a sweet, salty, creamy treat.

Burrata with Butternut Squash

Poutine purists may scoff at City Tavern’s version. With short rib, pimento cheese, and braising jus ($11), it lacks the traditional curds and gravy theme, but is nonetheless, equally pleasing. Perfect beer food.


Meatballs with sweet and spicy sauce ($8) were good and also great beer food.


Cheesy poofs ($8) (yes, named after the snack made famous on South Park). These funny shaped gourgeres are filled with manchego and come with a  house buttermilk dressing. They are light and crispy and totally addictive.

Cheesy Poufs

Buttermilk fried chicken ($12) is a little bit of a letdown. The succotash and sauce take up too much space on the dish taking focus away from the chicken and making it kind of soggy. The succotash adds a bit of freshness, but I think it should have been on the side of the plate or a separate side dish.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken
One thing that City Tavern does surprisingly well is seafood. We tried a variety of dishes. First up steelhead trout with warm potato salad, capers, smoked bacon ($14). The fish is perfectly cooked and the capers add their signature briny bite.

Steelhead Trout

Shrimp and grits with grilled shrimp, fried cheese grits, braised collard greens ($13). The shrimp is a touch overcooked, but I really appreciate this new spin on shrimp and grits.

Shrimp and Grits

I don’t remember exactly what went in to the skate wing special, but I do remember liking it a lot.

Skate Wing

Ben was not such a fan of the roasted opah with baby artichokes, figs, almonds, port reduction ($14), but I loved the sweet and salty flavors and this was actually my favorite of the seafood dishes.

Roasted Opah

We had a few sides that were not what I hoped and dreamed they would be. Brussels sprouts with bacon, and preserved lemon ($5) were a tad too lemony and the bacon was kind of soggy.

Brussels Sprouts

The curry roasted cauliflower ($6) had good flavor, but I would have liked a bit more char on the cauliflower.

Cumin Roasted Cauliflower

The spinach and bacon salad was forgettable, but the special fall salad with Asian pears, and mix greens more than made up for it with it’s crunchy textures and sweet and tangy flavor.

Fall Salad

As always, I was totally full by this point so I only managed a few bites of each dessert. Rustic apple tart with apricot, apple, and mango sauce, vanilla whipped cream ($7). The crust was nice and flaky. I only tasted apple, not the apricot or mango.

Apple Tart

The restaurant also sells half pints Carmela ice cream ($8) each. Carmela is one of my LA favorites (when I’m not making ice cream myself). The cardamom had an intensely grassy flavor which would probably pair well with another dessert, but on it’s own was kind of strong. The salted caramel paired perfectly with the apple tart and was reminiscent of my apple cheesecake bars.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Chocolate tart with marshmallow topping ($9). Ben did the most damage on this since he doesn’t like fruit (what?!). I enjoyed it, but was really too full at this point to think too deeply about it.

Chocolate Tart

The beers came out pretty foamy, despite us tipping our glasses when we poured. We were assured this was only an effect of the first few glasses, but pretty much all glasses came out this way. The restaurant charges by the ounce, not by how many times you pour so it’s a pretty accurate measure of how much you’ve consumed. Service is quick and friendly, so I assume it wouldn’t be a pain to go and order beers at the bar as well. City Tavern is a great spot for after work drinks and a nibble, or gathering your friends for some birthday debauchery (like a table that was near us).

One year ago: Mixed Berry Acai Smoothie
Two years ago: Cotija Corn Off the Cob
Three years ago: Kale Chips

City Tavern
9739 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 838-9739

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