29 October 2006

“Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring” or Top Sushi Chef

The rumor mill has it that Eric Ripert (gush, gush) has said that the current contestants on Top Chef are not so “top”; "this is the best you could find", said he. Ouch! That's gotta hurt. Eric Ripert calling Tom out on his responsibility to this lousy season—because those of you not in the “know” Chef Ripert could out cook Tom Colicchio in any competition. But that being said Tom Colicchio could wipe the floor with me--so I will try to abstain from judgment (Tom's in it for the money).

Okay I’ve rethought that statement above; this would be a rather boring post if I left the deeply intrusive judgment out of it. So for the sake of the readers, for the sake of you, I will go outside my limit of comfort and judge away. But I do this only for you, the readers.

First things first. Who presses their jackets? I mean really! How am I to believe that these folks are "Top Chefs" if they don't even sniff their socks to see if their clean? A chef doesn't have time for laundry! These people have cake lives. They get paid $10, 000 for a month of work, they live in a loft in downtown LA, they get to rub elbows with some of the most infamous chefs in the world, and they get to wake up to Ilan every morning (swoon). Those jackets are a little to clean for my taste. My jackets are all blood stained. Hold that thought—finger cramp—I better go do some yoga…

Next I thought about starting the rumor that Mia is pregnant, but I thought that would be poor taste. She's just sick with the “stomach flu" in the middle of summer in LA. Sure.

The first competition was all about sushi. I was excited because the public had an opportunity to see the intricacies of the work of a chef with something as special as sushi. Bravo really disappointed me. They've made this competition more about the personalities and less about the food. Maybe that's because of the aforementioned comment that Chef Ripert has made--maybe the food isn't that good this time around. They could have had a nice lesson about how to choose fresh fish, how to use a maki mat, how to make sushi rice, etc. But no—this competition was about Mia throwing up.

I’ve eaten a lot of sushi in my day. Sushi Roku is one of my least favorite sushi places I’ve ever visited. So why are these competitors so excited to meet Chef Hiroshi Shima? Is it because he is so authentic he has an interpreter that follows him around making nice with the competitors? I mean the man owns several restaurants in the US, are you really serious that he’s never bothered to learn English? Woah, he must be the real deal.

I voted against Cliff. Not that I have anything against black people, but I have something against fruit and fish. I’m sooooooooooooooooooo over it. I thought Elia would win. She’s very sophisticated and clean. I really liked her presentation. But as this is not taste-o-vision, I can’t know for sure. Apparently the “so authentic he doesn’t speak English” sushi Chef thought that olives and sushi was a good combo, but that mango and oysters were better. Sheesh.

Apparently Bravo is doing their part in international relations and they decided to use a bunch of Americans to stage a cook off between the Koreans and the Vietnamese. FYI Bravo—Kim Jong-Il is using this episode as propaganda, and he is really unhappy about the use of paprika and calling it “Korean food”.

What bothered me the most about this competition (well besides the fact that the people who attended the function were apparently really wealthy and fed really well despite the fact that this was an event to raise awareness about starving Asian-Americans) was that all of the competitors know so little about the countries cuisines that they faux-fusion-ed it. I mean, “Jasmine Panna Cotta”? Do they know that most people of Asian decent do not have the enzyme to digest lactose? How did the competitors even know what country flag they were looking at on their knives? There must have been a prompter off camera that looked a little something like this:

I’m being insensitive. Of course they don’t know anything about “that part of the world”; it has, after all, been wiped out of our history books.

I think my favorite part of the show was when the Korean team drank sangria while creating the menu. BTW Ilan + sangria + pink shirt = good. Have I mentioned how much I love Elia? I think we would be friends if I didn’t have so many already.

So the real controversy was of course all about the lychees. Leave it up to Marisa to get all “rulesy” on us. Of course as we all know it was actually a pretty good maneuver on her part; distract from the cooking and go for the integrity card. Never mind that Otto was the better cook than her in this competition—but he took the lychees without paying for them—now that’s grounds for losing at a competition called, “Top Chef”. Actually I would like to bring up the point that Marisa knew about the stolen lychees about 2 minutes after Otto did and she let everyone leave the store anyway. But Tom and the rest of the crew, even Otto himself, were manipulated into believing that Marisa is oh-so trustworthy and Otto is a lying, thieving bastard that took a box of Lychees from the poor, chain-grocery store owning Koreans. Whatever. If they really had thought this through, they could have asked to see the manager and finagled a free box of lychees for the starving Asian-Americans.

This whole episode bummed me out. The only part that made me feel all warm and fuzzy was when Padma misquoted Ming as saying, “I agree with Ming, ‘if you can’t make good rice you shouldn’t be in the kitchen” when he actually said, “Tom and I both know if you make bad rice, make it again” but he was so busy looking at Padma’s breasts that he didn’t object. Then Padma gets up to go bring “team Vietnam” in and Ming checks out the goods from behind. Awww that’s sweet, Ming has a little crush on Padma. Ming and Padma sitting in a tree…

Overall this episode made me so angry I can’t wait to tune in next week and watch this train wreck again. Until then I’ll be questioning Ilan’s sexuality.



28 October 2006

Brit-O-Lantern, et. al.

by Rachy Rach

OK, so, the really great thing in this country is that we have so many holidays that are, like, not all religiously oriented and biased and rooted in materialism and whatever. Like Martin Luther King Day, which was created to celebrate diversity, or Thanksgiving, which has been around for at least a hundred years and is purely a time for family togetherness and old-fashioned home cooking. And Easter too--bunnies, arts and crafts, plain old fun.

Not to mention Halloween! Halloween is an occasion for wholesome, fun quality time, dressing up and carving pumpkins. It's probably the least corrupted, vulgar, commercialized thing you could come up with! Good job USA. Halloween has already improved my daily life this week, or at least one day of it. We invited all our friends over on Thursday and told them to bring a pumpkin and we would provide knives (safe ones) and fun for the whole family. And we carved the pumpkins and made a killer collection of jack-o-lanterns!

Seriously it was SO FUN. People got way into it and the air was full of pumpkin smell and you could really tell that everyone's creative juices were flowing, which I have to say made us kind of proud because it's always good to help stimulate people's minds and make them step out of the box a little bit. And they really crossed that line:

There's a koala my friend carved, and then Britney Spears which I made. That Britney did not look so hot after I carved her, believe me, and I was all worried that it looked more like "Britney shot in the face" as one of my friends said. But the we lit it up and honestly it looks SO good! Ha ha I showed them. It's cool because both koalas and Britney are cute and happy, and I think probably really fun in real life. I only wish we'd had a Kevin Federline stencil to go with Britney because HOW CUTE WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN.

Anyway I just want to encourage everyone to partake in this American tradition and enjoy some time with your family and friends. Also be sure to include any foreigners you might know--we invited our Finnish friend who seriously didn't even know where pumpkins come from, and now she can feel like she fits better into society here.

ALSO, I'm super excited because when I was thinking about this post, I was wishing that I had this recipe for pumpkin pot de creme that I cut out and then could never find again. And then--no joke--I found it on my desk here at my parent's house where I am for the weekend to celebrate my grandmother's birthday! I can't believe it after a whole year it was here at the exact right time. I love that.

Pumpkin Pots de Creme with Amaretti-Ginger Crunch

1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups heavy cream (whoa)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
8 egg yoks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional) (but not really since cinnamon is delicious)
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional) (see above)
2/3 cup crumbled amaretti cookies
1 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger

1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring pumpkin, cream and vanilla bean to a boil; set aside for 15 min., then remove vanilla bean. In a medium metal bowl or the top of a double boiler, combine egg yoks and sugar. Place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture forms a ribbon when you lift the whisk (about 6-8 min.). Be careful not to overheat, or egg mixture could curdle.
2. Whisk in hot pumpkin mixture, and cook over medium heat, whisking often, until mixture has consistency of thick cream (40-50 min.). Mixture should gently steam; be careful not to overheat. Add cinnamon and nutmeg, if using, and mix well. Strain into a pitcher or a bowl with a pouring lip.
3. Divide mixture among 10 to 12 teacups, ramekins or custard cups. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Just before serving, combine amaretti crumbs & ginger, and sprinkle on top of each dessert.

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Cop Out or Date Night #4

Two glasses of wine, two beers, and a cute sweater vest. Believe me, it works.



26 October 2006

Two Restaurant Reviews, Franky Two Stars, Two Days

What with the Rachel Ray rant, the self-boosting, ego-centric interview, and a prediction of the winner of Top Chef—this blog has it all! But does it really? What this blog is missing are some very mouthy, very unforgiving reviews of some restaurants.

As my job situation turned out to be less-than-expected, my friends came to my rescue and took me out for drinks, dinner and brunch. They did this over a matter of days—bless them. My good friend Bill took me for brunch on Sunday. I love going to eat with Bill, because he allows for my pretentious attitude at the dining table. So the games commence at BLD, Neil Frasier’s new restaurant at 1.30 pm on Sunday.

BLD stands for “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner”—but I would recommend “Brunch”—this kills two birds with one stone. And while we are speaking of stone, what is with the nature theme that seems to be taking over LA? I mean is it really necessary to pile a stack of rocks and call it “design”—what does that accomplish? The minimalist theme with the rocks and the sticks has to go—it’s just weird.

Since I recommend brunch the “B” and the “L” are accounted for—but what about that pesky “D”? I recommend doing what Bill and I did; sit at your table long enough that you have sat through all three meals of the day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By the time you leave your post at your
Chilewic table setting, the sun should be setting over the Pacific.

We started with a glass of wine each. I had a prosecco that had been corked the night before and he had a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. I considered sending mine back, but thought better of it as I had consumed half of the glass by the time I figured out the wine was bad. So rather than giving them a chance to correct their mistake, I sat and bitched about the flat prosecco that I was choking down.

Next we moved onto the charcuterie and cheese platter. We ordered jamon and a nice “buttermilk” blue from Spain. The platter was magnificient. The bread was warm, the cheese, buttery, and the almonds nicely seasoned—and all for the measly cost of $12.00. You can’t buy that cheese at the Beverly Hills Cheese Store for much less than that!

We ordered a bottle of water that probably cost $10.00 but it was nice to have French tap water cleansing my palate as opposed to the LA river water that flows from our faucets. The nice thing about ordering a bottle of water is that the hosts and waitress always seem to notice when your glass needs to be refilled. So $10.00 a bottle also seems to get one better service.

Speaking of service, I thought our waitress was cool. After assessing the situation, Bill and I decided that ours was definitely the best. She was a little bit of a hipster, but a professional. And I learned that some people DO look good with green hair.

Our hostess was also charming in her Spring 2005 Low-Rider jeans and her Havanias. She was fresh off of the truck and called us “y’all”.

Next we ordered the main course. I ordered the French Toast with Cowgirl Creamery Crème Fraiche. Bill ordered the Eggs with Luomo and Chorizo. Both were simple, but fantastic meals.

After the main course we both had a coffee; Bill an espresso and I a French press. On a whole the meal was fantastic.

★ ★ & 1/2

The next meal was the next night. My friend Jamie invited me to a screening of “Marie Antoinette” at Sony and so I attended as the third wheel (always). We were starved after, it’s a long movie. We decided to go for Mexican—I suggested El Conquistador but Jamie thought I should experience the art of the flaming Margarita at El Compadre. We drove in tandem, parked on some crazy side streets in the dirty neighborhoods of Hollywood and took a booth in the corner. Sure enough, our ‘ritas came on fire. Chris ordered his blended (girl) but Jamie and I took it like men and had it “on the rocks, salt please.” We ordered the chicken mole enchiladas and one more drink each and ate hungrily. Our service sucked, our food was mediocre—but the drinks were good and on fire!

Overall it was a fine experience, but the food and service were lacking.

★ ÷ 2

All reviews are out of a possible 4 stars.



24 October 2006

Reality Bites

Pros of reality TV:
I got so excited when Nick, ex-Project-Runway-contestant-slash-gayster-extraordinaire liked my heart dress sketch. More excited than I would have if I hadn't been cooing over him with all my P.R.-viewing cohort for the past however many months. Seriously though--he was all, "You know, Rachel, now you're going to have to keep it up and give me something just as cute every week now." Blush! Twinkle! Okay Mr. Nick!
Cons of reality TV:
Having to spend the first have of aforementioned Nick's sketching class today setting up big lights, microphones, etc. for the video cameras from "The Hills" and then literally repeating what we did last week for the benefit of the cameras. So much for reality. They surely won't even use it--do "Hills" viewers care a whit about how to draw a proportional croquis? No, all they want is Nick bending over LC's homework reminding her to draw the backs of the necklines. If they get any footage actually worth watching, I can only imagine it'll be of Nick saying fabulous things, not of LC just sitting at her table. All of us are quiet so that we won't get filmed. Am seriously hoping that I never make an appearance on that show--it's now less a curiosity and more a pain in the ass. Mercy, I just have such antagonistic sentiments toward MTV now.
> r r <


Top Chef

My creative director, Beau, suggested that I write about one of our favorite shows, Top Chef. Now I don’t want to name drop, but was culinary school bff with Dave from last season. We’ve stayed in touch and I knew he was going to be on the show last season—but I was surprised to find my other friends as obsessed as I was (and as keen on Dave as I am.) This season I also have a connection to the show. I cooked for Laura Ziskin (producer of Spider Man) and while she was on location in NYC she had a chef. The chef that was vying for my job was the lovely Suyai.

So I’ve decided to use my skills in the art of all things culinary and use my powerful ESP to opine, predict and rant. What’s new you say? This time I just might get you some inside information—but only if you are good and eat all of your broccoli.

The first show is the introductory show (I know, this is life changing information) so I took a unique (and by unique I mean predictable) approach and I decided to judge the characters based solely on their intros. As is often true, judgment isn’t as fun without a friend (he who judges alone is lonely and judgmental; he who judges with another is witty and neighborly) so I bring you my roommate—who may very well be as catty as I. Here is who we prdicted would be the first to go:

“Four star review guy” (aka Carlos)
“Street food lady” (aka Mia)
“Sports Bar guy” (aka Michael)

“Sports Bar guy” (aka Michael)
“Pastry Chef girl” (aka Marissa)
“Betty” (aka token Insane, Older lady)

So apparently our ability to judge a book by it’s cover is not as good as we once thought. Ultimately we were good predictors of who would be on the “chopping block”, though I was sad to see Suyai go--I thought she classed up the joint—what with that accent and all.

My prediction is that Sam is the new Harold; Marcel is the new Steven; Michael is the new Miguel; Betty is the new Cynthia; and (sorry for this) Elia could be the new Dave.

I think that Emily and Ilan are the two to watch, though I think that Mia and Betty will be good but inconsistent. I’ve already decided that Sam will win. The rest are there to create and entire season out of the show; inedible garnish if you will.



22 October 2006

Me, Myself, and I or Date Night Menu #3

I was saying to mySelf, “self, why did you commit to writing a date night menu once a week?” Well, myself said back to me, “Self, why it is so hard to commit to a date night menu for you?” Next I heard mySelf saying, “I have a hard time committing in general—and since myself and mySelf are single, date night actually happens to be the busiest night of the week.”

Myself conceded and so we (as in the queen's proverbial “we”) decided that “date night menu” will follow date night and not precede date night. Myself apologizes; mySelf cannot seem to manage.

This recipe is from my new favorite cookbook, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. They are very talented food writers from the little news paper known modestly as The New York Times. They also happen to be Amanda Hesser’s favorite—I like Amanda, so I like them. If you like southern food, this book is well planned and intelligently written.

Texas Red-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Grits

Serving for 6 (umm…I’m gonna say that you might need two rounds in the event of a long night…)

Short Ribs

3 ½ pounds Beef Short Ribs
1 ½ tablespoons Kosher Salt, plus more for taste
3 large Yellow Onions, trimmed, peeled and quartered
8 Garlic cloves, husks removed
3 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons Oil
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground Black Pepper
2 cups Sunday Beef Broth (recipe to follow) or one 14 ½ ounce can beef broth
3 Ancho Chilies, torn in half, stemmed, and seeded
3 Pasilla Chilies, torn in half, stemmed, and seeded
One 28-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
¼ cup semisweet Chocolate Chips

Season ribs with salt and pepper
Toss onions and garlic with oil and salt and pepper in a 9-x-13-inch roasting pan and broil three inches from flame
for 8-10 minutes until the veggies are charred slightly
Preheat oven to 325
Bring broth to a boil over high heat. Once it boils turn it off.
Heat 3 T oil in a cast iron skillet and toast all the chilies
until they are soft (about 30 seconds) and then transfer to the broth
Add more oil to the cast iron skillet and turn on high and add the shortribs and sear until the surfaces are brown.
Blend the charred garlic and onions in a food processor. Add the tomatoes and process into a smooth puree and reserve into a bowl.
Add the chilies and broth and puree until smooth.
Add the chili puree to the tomatoes to the degree of heat that you desire.
Once that is achieved stir in the chocolate.
Place short ribs in the roasting pan you used for the onions and garlic and spoon over the “red sauce”.
Cover and bake for two hours or until they are falling off of the bone.
Serve on a plate with simple grits (recipe to follow)

Simple Grits

2 cups Whole Milk
2 cups Water
1 cup Stone-Ground Grits
¾ teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly Ground Black Pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon Butter

Bring Milk and Water up to a boil. Add the Grits and Salt and reduce the heat to medium. Stir until the grits are thick and soupy and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Bring to a simmer and stir every couple of minutes for another twenty minutes.
Cook for 15 minutes more stirring constantly.
When the grits are done turn off heat and season and add butter. Serve immediately.

Sunday Beef Broth

1 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 pound Oxtails
½ diced Yellow Onion
½ cup diced Carrot
3 large Bay Leaves
¼ cup full-bodied Red Wine
6 cups cold Water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in stockpot until it shimmers. Add Oxtails and sear. Remove and reserve to a bowl.
Add onion and carrot and bay leaves to the pot and cook until softened. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon.
Simmer in wine for 3 minutes.
Return oxtails to the stockpot and add water.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer gently for an hour, skimming the surface intermittently.
Strain with a fine mesh strainer and throw away solids. Store stock in a container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator for two days or freezer for a few months.

If the date goes well, then you can use the left over grits for breakfast; just add bacon and cheddar.


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As I live and breathe, tequila has it in for me. It calls me by name. It bats its doe eyes at me, and with a rich caramel voice says, "Tehra, if you drink me all your woes will go away." And they do. Until tomorrow. Well, it's tomorrow and tequila has once again gotten the better of me. So as I haven't posted in awhile, I thought my first post in a few days would be one that might prove useful to a good lot of you--a tour of margaritas in Los Angeles. If you are reading this mom, I swear, this is spread out over time (no it's not). I didn't drink all of these margaritas in one night (yes I did).

As a side note my
exboyfriend had convinced me that margaritas shouldn't be neon green. His margarita is one part Patron Silver, one part lime juice, and one part Cointreau. He would shake it in a martini shaker and add sea salt and a little simple syrup for me. I now drink nuclear margaritas without a bat of an eye. It's called de-evolution folks. Darwin theory applied and tested.

Malo: Happy hour Mon-Fri 5-7 pm. Margaritas are cheap
and they help me choke down the beef and pickle tacos. Drunken factor: 2

Barragans: Happy hour Mon-Fri. Margaritas are TRES
cheap ($2.25 cheap) and I always seem to find my friends there. Drunken factor:
3 consumed.

El Conquistador: Happy Hour Mon-Thurs 4-7 (don't make
the mistake I made and go on a Friday). The margaritas are pretty expensive if
it isn't happy hour—but get this: Drunken factor: 1 consumed. You can drink one
and say very embarrassing things to a person you have a little crush on.

Avalon (the club not the hotel): Free if you travel VIP
like I roll. Drunken factor: As many as you want they're free, duh!

Avalon (the hotel not the club): Expensive but posh.
They'll make 'em like the ex for a fee. Drunken Factor: 1 consumed. This is
actually a bank account factor.

Chateau Marmont: You have to get someone to buy your drinks here—three
margaritas run you $50.00. Valet is $18.00. The outfit you have to wear to get
in will run you $600.00. Drunken factor: 2 consumed.

Go forth with this information and de-prosper.


17 October 2006

Rachy Rach on Rachael Ray

A few days ago, I promised a rant on Rachael Ray. I just got out of sketching class early (despite a simple wifebeater taking waaay longer than you'd think to draw perfectly), so it's obviously rant time. Strangely, though, I'm finding myself with a little writer's block. Not because there's nothing to say--nay, because the volume of wrathful insights crowding the "Rachael Ray" section of my brain is so large that it's creating a sort of bottleneck situation. But I'll just start with the most forceful bit o' wrath, and try to slog through til the bitter end. [If you live under a boulder and don't know of RR, read Slate's intro.]

by Rachel Racherson

1. Her raucous, grating, nauseatingly cheerful voice. Oh my god. She comes from Cape Cod, and as a person with Cape-Cod-ean heritage myself, I fervently hope that people on this coast don't interpret her trashy accent as "New England." Nor her habit of yelling out stuff like "EVOO" (extra-virgin olive oil) or, more gag-inducing yet, her trademark "Yum-O!!!" If you yelled out "yum-o" on Cape Cod, you'd get dunked in the deep-fryer with the clams. "Most people want me to shut up," she's quoted as having said. Take a hint, babe.
2. The truly unimpressive food she makes. It strikes me as representing the most mediocre and 50s-inspired sector of America cooking, as well as equally mediocre American-style interpretations of so-called ethnic food. The fact that she endorsed a Burger King sandwich should speak for itself. Just in the past few days, her
30-Minute Meals show has included: "Renaissance of Tuna Casserole" (renaissance? Renaissance?!), "Mac and Jack Salad" (don't even want to know, but it's reminding me of my grandmother's infamous "Velveeta Surprise"), "Barbecued Succotash" (dear god), and even "My Friend Vicki's Mom's Celery Salad" (somebody PLEASE stop this woman). OK, I understand that there are many people--my friends, even--who would greatly appreciate her "Candy Cornucopia Bowl"...but does that really make her idol-worthy? Worst of all, while her big claim is that you can make all this crappy food super-fast, IT'S NOT TRUE! Slate's reporter, uh, reports that her attempt at a R.R. 30-minute meal took almost 1.5 hours. Rachael even admits, PROUDLY, that she's "definitely not a chef." So why you playin' one on TV, beeyatch?
3. Her awestruck admiration of aforementioned unimpressive dishes. The one episode I've watched of her mind-curdling show had her making a tacky shrimp cocktail in a giant martini glass, then positively cooing over it: "Doesn't that look fancy? Gosh, that just looks so good! And it's so easy--but the neighbors will be super impressed!" The woman is delusional.
4. The unwashed masses adore her and she's going to take over the world. She's slapped her name on not just cookbooks, but also
everything from t-shirts (emblazoned with YUM-O) to CD compilations (including "Rachael Ray's 'How Cool Is That' Christmas"). Even dudes dig her--she was voted #92 on FHM's Top 100 Sexiest Women of 2004. The only thing saving me from complete lack of faith in humanity is the Rachael Ray Sucks online community, proving I'm not the only hater out there (my fave recent post: "When Gayle and Oprah finished in NYC guess which over exposed crack ho was there to give them a hug like long lost relatives. Yep you got it Raytard...Oprah needs to be made to understand how this waste of DNA is ruining America." Raytard the crack ho, our nation's darling. Ahahahaha.
5. She uses Comic Sans typeface on
6. Speaking of FHM--that frightening, unsexy photoshoot:

Enough said. I have to go lie down with a drink and a nice soothing copy of The Silver Palate.
> r r <

16 October 2006

Date Night #2

Okay, so I had a date (well, sort of) with my friend Bill and his two houseguests, affectionately known as “The Swedes”. The truth is that one is Norwegian and the other is Swedish—but that’s a mouthful—so we stick to our very American way of speaking and we disregard the importance of the facts and regard the importance of time and thus I continue to call them, “The Swedes”.

So because I had a date with three men, I was too busy getting my hair done to write date night menu on Friday. Well, I doubt there was much loss of sleep out there amongst the twelve of you reading this—and if there was, I apologize and I will personally come to your house and cook you date night dinner to make up for it. The thing is that I was able to pick up a couple of extra recipes for this week’s date night. So there--I was doing RESEARCH. Yeah…that’s right. Research.

South East Asian Beef Salad and Trader Joes Molten Chocolate Cakes with Cardamom Chantilly

• Marinate Flank Steak in a mixture of Sambal Red Chili Sauce,
Lime Juice, Garlic, Brown Sugar and Salt and Pepper—let marinate for half an
hour at room temperature.
• Make quick pickles of any various vegetables (I like to use; radishes,
red onion, carrots and cauliflower) by heating a bowl of the veggies in homemade pickling juice (red wine vinegar, sugar, pickling spice). Once the veggies have adopted the vinegar flavor—place bowl in refrigerator to chill.
• Make salad dressing with Lime Juice, chopped
Shallots, Greek Yogurt, Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper. Blend well.
• Take Beef out of marinade, sprinkle with Sesame Seeds and grill
• Cut Beef into strips and let cool slightly
• Toss Greens with Dressing and Pickles and Beef and serve
• Follow directions for Molten Chocolate Cake
• Whip Cream with a little Sugar and ground Cardamom and serve.
• Rub whipped cream on your date and serve.



14 October 2006

"Rachel" only has one "a," STUPID.

this photo is a placeholder for a future mean ranting verbose posting. for now, this picture will have to sum it all up:


> r r <


12 October 2006

The Interview, Part I

I’ve learned that a blog isn’t a real blog until it has at least one interview posted. In order to keep up with the Jones's and do some cookbook name dropping (Amy Sedairs’s book I Like You), I’ve (Tehra Tehrason) decided to use these questions to interview a real life chef. The gracious, Tehra Thorp (or me), has agreed to answer my questions as I (Tehra) sit down with her (me) over a cup of tea (vodka).

Q: I’d like to set the tone a bit before I break into the real meat of the matter (so to speak); why did you become a chef?

A: The answer I give everyone is that my mother couldn’t cook—but I didn’t learn to cook until long after, I think I became a chef out of desperation. I was hungry—in more ways than one.

Q: What is the best thing about being a chef?

A: Impressing the boys.

Q: The next series of questions come from Amy Sedaris in her new book, “I like you” available at The Cooks Library in Los Angeles:

• “Does the sun make noise?”
• “Do you tip a cobbler?”
• “How do you teach hope?”

A: Yes, the sun makes noise. Yes, tip the cobbler but only at Christmas. And finally, Hope is not something you can teach. It’s something you buy, “hope in a jar” I think it's called. So go out and get yours today.

Q: Wow, you really know a lot Tehra (me). This is turning out to be a terrific interview.

A: Thanks. You’re a pretty good interviewer Tehra (me).

Q: This next series of questions come from some dude, named Proust. He asks the tough questions, hard hitting journalism.

• What do you consider the depths of despair?
• Your favorite occupation?
• Who would you have liked to be?
• Do you know how to do the funky chicken?

I think that last one…well, maybe it…not sure. I think maybe that last question is from Amy Sedaris. We’ll leave it in for arguments sake.

A: The depths of despair happen when I finish a book and have nothing on the night table to read. My favorite occupation is sitting and talking about how great of a chef I am. I would have liked to be Mrs. Clause; she married well. I do know how to do the funky chicken and many other dance moves that involve food; i.e. “fry like bacon”.

Q: Red or White?

A: Pink

Q: Chocolate or Vanilla?

A: Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

Q: Still or bubbly?

A: Since when is champagne still?

Q: Here is your soapbox. Tell me (Tehra) what are your (my) food related pet peeves?

A: I HATE it when people use utensils improperly. (I also hate it when people use adverbs wrong too). I like my red a little cold and my white room temperature. Flavors are best tasted at room temperature. Show me a person that likes lukewarm food and I’ll show you a real gourmand.

Stay tuned, next week an interview with the other co-founder, the beautiful and tres fashionable Rachel Racherson will answer some tough questions that she will ask herself.

Amy Sedairs’s book, I Like You is available at The Cook's Library. Please call the helpful folks Alan, Tim, Amy or CP and they will be sure to show you this book and several others that will drain your wallet and keep you from making rent.


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11 October 2006

"Viva La Revolution!" Said the Celery

In the wake of the food supply contamination conspiracy being conspired by (presumably) arugula farmers, I think it might be a good idea to explain some common ailments that food can [ahem] bring to the table:

Salmonella (not the color, though as I’m sure my better half would agree salmon is a difficult color to wear and may cause one to look diseased) is a bacterial infection most often caused by poultry, specifically chicken. It was explained in culinary school that it is not the problem of the actual chicken, but it is the problem of the government sanctioned “fecal water” that is used to [ahem] (excuse me—I have a cough) “clean” the chicken. Apparently there is no rule as to how many times this water must be changed and that the disease is actually spread amongst the flock via this vile liquid. To avoid: Cook chicken to 160 degrees F and let sit for 10 minutes out of the oven.

E. coli is the Salmonella of the bovine community. It lives in the intestines of the foresaid animal and is only spread to the meat if the butcher does a poor job fabricating the animal. That your spinach supply was contaminated with E. coli is not because spinach has developed an intestinal tract, but because some hippie decided it was a good idea to use poo to plump (so to speak) the dirt that the said spinach was growing in. Now the truth is that there was a lack of news the week that spinach got a bad rap—and CNN kind of went a little crazy. Apparently this law that was passed in the Congress that allows citizens to be tried in a military court without cause was not enough to for alarm. Spinach that poops—now that’s hard hitting news. To avoid: Don’t buy spinach that poops and eat beef that has been butchered by someone you trust—like an uncle or Santa Clause.

Botulism occurs when someone is trying to be thrifty and agrees to buy a dented can from the market at a fraction of the cost (usually 10% off). To avoid: Don’t be cheap.

I hope you find the above information helpful. In the event that you become contaminated with FBI (food borne illness) go to the ER (emergency room) and take the contaminated food with you. It also helps if you take the time to bake some cookies before you go for the desk nurse, so that you may get in to see a doctor more quickly.

Let me also say that it is more likely you will die of a heart attack from all of the red meat or lack of fiber (that you may find, oh I dunno, say in spinach) in your diet than from an FBI. Actually I think it is probably more likely you will die via the FBI than a FBI. Good luck out there--I think the carrots seem a little hostile these days.


Salmon and Celebrities

All right, so, yesterday Jenni and I had a date to make a delicious dinner. It was going to be a leisurely process--cosy little grocery shopping trip, a few glasses of wine, perhaps some romantic music to cook by--but my school day ended up three hours longer than it was supposed to have been, so we had to expedite the process. It's a long story, so I'll just skip to the food.

HA HA HA HA. Yeah right--it's not that long a story, and it's by FAR the most blog-worthy topic (sorry, Jenni). So recipes, just shut up and wait your freakin' turn--I have CELEB GUSHING to do here.
Okay, so remember Nick from last season's Project Runway? The super nice sweet one who never said anything (terribly) bitchy except sometimes in the solo confessional-style parts? With the snappy wardrobe and little faux-hawk? The one who teaches at my school? Oh right, that one. Whether you remember him or not--though you SHOULD, since anyone worth anything should have been watching P.R. and commiting every detail to memory since Episode One--the point is that as I was sitting in Mrs. Something-or-other's Fundamentals of Sketching class yesterday afternoon, I realized that if I did a little scheduling magic, I COULD BE IN NICK'S CLASS INSTEAD. And that, kids, is what I did. So three short hours later I found myself making big eyes at Nick himself, asking for permission to join his roster (success!), and listening to him call everyone "honey" in the most flamboyant possible way (it seems that, since P.R., he's turned up the volume on the flamitude.). He also managed to name-drop more substances that he'd like to ingest in the name of relaxation (Xanax, Jager--since when is that relaxing?--, margaritas, and at least a few others) than I'd have imagined possible in one three-hour class. Anyway, despite all the show, he looks to be a really effective teacher. He guided us through making our own croquis (sketching model) and assigned an armload of homework (never mind the armload of actual materials for the class...I'll definitely be in serious need of a chiropractor soon).

And for the other celeb, or something: I was so absorbed in Nick and his spiel that I didn't even notice that the (in)famous
Lauren from "The Hills"was sitting in the seat across from mine, overly tan, tapping away at her sidekick. Woo. We all had to sign release forms saying that we don't mind if MTV uses our images, words, "and any lyrics we may sing on tape" for their own skeezy purposes. I can't decide whether having a chance appearance on "The Hills" will be funny or just bad. Oh, as for LC--hard to tell What She's Really Like. The only glimmer I saw was when, standing in line, another girl introduced herself to me and LC as Valentine. LC's reaction: "That's a neat name." Silence. Ooookay.

ANYWAY! On to the food! After class, I jumped on the bus, picked up salmon and spinach at Trader Joe's, and then got Jenni (with neato oyster mushrooms and Japanese eggplants in hand). We made a delish vegetable sautee:
-ginger, onions & garlic sauteed in oil
-oyster mushrooms & normal mushrooms added
-soy sauce and fresh spinach added & cooked just until spinach wilted.
All of the above served over sauteed eggplant rounds, next to:
-salmon fillets, sauteed in sesame oil with a black pepper & sesame-seed crust. SO YUM.

Speaking of salmon, I just read a neat tip in Russ Parsons's book: to cook salmon so that the skin is crispy and good instead of slimy, "use the back of a knife to 'squeegee' the skin of the salmon until you see moisture come out and collect on the knife. Wipe the knife and the salmon dry with paper towels. Repeat until moisture no longer appears. Cook skin side down, and flip over only at end." Huh. Neat.

> r r <

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10 October 2006

I've Found the Second Coming (so to speak)

Holy cow; fashion + chocolate = …well, it equals things that I haven’t even experienced yet. The ninth annual (I’ve missed 8 years of this???) Salon Du Chocolate will be held in NYC on the weekend of the 28th birthday of yours truly. I will be in attendance. Will you? In the meantime, I will share a recipe brought to you by my favorite blog Chocolate & Zucchini.

Spiced Chocolate Peanut Butter

125 grams (1 cup) raw peeled peanuts
40 grams (1 1/2 ounces) Xocopili (substitute bittersweet chocolate,
chopped, plus a teeny-tiny pinch each of ground chili, curry, paprika, and
Sea salt, to taste

Makes about a cup.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Spread the peanuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 5 to 7 minutes,
keeping an eye on them and stirring halfway through, until golden and fragrant.
Let cool.

Combine the nuts and chocolate in a food processor, and process until
the mixture turns creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl every once in a while.
This will take a few minutes, and you may want to sing your latest favorite song
(such as Forgotten Christmas Gift) at the top of your voice to cover the sound
of the motor and keep yourself entertained. Add salt to taste and mix
Transfer to a jar and close tightly. The texture is best for spreading
at room temperature, but keep in the fridge if you're not going to consume it
right away or if the weather is very warm

Sheesh. Heaven in a jar.


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09 October 2006

Caution, Lessons Learned Ahead

We have an opportunity to learn a great lesson this week. A little over 5 years ago, planes flew into buildings and killed a massive amount of American men and women. It was said that this was done to show our weakness; the world (specifically Al-Qaeda) was fed up with our arrogance. Our response as a country was to wear American flag tee-shirts and wage a war on those who would dare show our vulnerability. We seemed to say, “Us vulnerable? We’ll show you vulnerable.”

So here we are engaged in the war five years later; raw. The anniversary was marked with still a great bit of sadness and the ongoing battle concerning the memorial is fraught with bureaucracy.

Last week a man who was said to be “angry at god” opened fire on group of children in an Amish community. It is said that the first child killed asked to be shot in order to let the others go free. She was 13 years old.

There were tears and solemn faces, but mostly there was a lot of talk of forgiveness. Hours after the milkman killed 5 of their children, the Amish were more concerned with the effects of anger than the passing of these young lives.

I think their faith must be strong enough that they feel the children are safe in heaven now. But we are still here, vulnerable on earth. Here, earth, is where anger and hatred lie. Not where those that have passed have gone—but here where those live.

The Amish community attended the funeral of the gunman, in a show of solidarity of their ability to forgive and to set his soul free.

I see the potential for great healing in this community. In five years time, they will not still be erecting a memorial. They will not be shaking at the sight of the murder weapon. Nor will they argue over where the memorial fund should go. They will be healed as best as they can be and will find their peace once again on earth.

Amish Friendship Bread

1 cup
Amish Friendship Bread Starter
2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In mixing bowl,
combine all ingredients.

Grease and flour well 2
9″x5″ bread pans.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Variations: Add
1/2 cup of one or more
of the following - raisins, chopped apples, crushed
pineapple, candied fruit,
coconut, chopped dates, nuts or chocolate chips.
Add to batter just before


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06 October 2006

Kickoff Date Night Menu

Friday is date night. I don’t actually have a date, but I assume that the other 51% of women in the world must be going on a date with the leftovers out there and that is why I’m single this evening. I’m not a jealous girl, so I will offer a date night menu for you…that is until I’m busy.

Salmon with Dill and Cilantro Aioli
Cous Cous with Currants and Toasted Pine Nuts
Broccoli Rabe with Roasted Garlic

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Cut off the bad ends of the Rabe and cut into bite sized pieces
Toast the Pine nuts on the stove
Juice two Lemons
Clean 4 Garlic Cloves and slice two
Clean the Salmon with a paper towel and Salt and Pepper
Heat a sauce pan and throw the two whole cloves in
and after 20-25 seconds pour the lemon juice, cilantro and dill in and turn off
the heat.
For 1 C of cous cous you’ll need 1 C of liquid. The mixture
is ½ OJ and ½ chicken stock. Heat the liquid to a slow boil on the stove.
Once cooled put this mixture in a blender with some prepared
mayo and olive oil. Blend until thick, and season until it tastes good to you.
Pour boiling liquid from the stove over the 1C of cous cous and add some
currants. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Place fish in the oven and bake until it is cooked to your liking; I like 10 minutes.
Meanwhile sauté garlic slices hot oil. Add broccoli rabe and hot pepper
flakes. Season and serve.
Add pine nuts and fluff the cous cous with a fork.
Plate all dishes, pour aioli over fish, pour a glass of wine and
don’t do anything I wouldn’t do…



05 October 2006

This Just In: Holy Trinity Found in Candy Corn

With the craze of finding a religious experience in food, we decided to do some digging and found something that has been under our noses since we were, well, ‘nose pickers’. Candy corn is a metaphor for “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”--Halloween is a Christian holiday after all! Who knew? God, that’s who.

There are some guidelines to eating the candy in a holy manner. First start with the candy pointy side up. Bite just the white part. Be careful with this, as we are talking about the “Holy Spirit” here. Next bite the orange part, again carefully avoiding the next layer of God. As you do this mutter the phrase, “thank you Jesus.” Before consuming the last nibble, take time to meditate over the perils of the world. Once you have thoroughly chewed on the horrors of the day, you may now ingest the body of God.

There is a new movement on the horizon; “Children for the Advocacy of Candy Corn for Communion”.

Candy Corn Popcorn Balls

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine

1 pkg. (10-1/2 oz.) JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows

1 pkg. (4-serving size) JELL-O Brand Gelatin, any flavor

12 cups (3 qt.) popped popcorn

1 cup candy corn

MICROWAVE butter and marshmallows in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed. Stir in gelatin until well blended.

POUR marshmallow mixture over combined popcorn and candy corn in large bowl. Mix lightly until well coated.

SHAPE into 16 (2-inch) balls or other shapes with greased or wet hands.



03 October 2006

Evidence, Analysis, Results.

Before telling my latest disturbing celery story, I want you to know that I'm currently in a computer lab disguised as some sort of beach-resort-meets-pop-art-space-station-type situation. Think all white, with a translucent blue cube (a.k.a. meeting room) suspended from the ceiling at one end, and a fake pool. I'm reclining on a mod white lounge chair on an elevated wooden platform, my laptop resting on the swiveling stand (built into the chair) just above my lap, looking up at screen-printed palm trees above a shallow square pool set into the platform and lined with gymnastics-style blue matting. It is SURREAL. I'm in nerds' paradise as imagined by Andy Warhol. And...I love it. Computer lab as luxury resort is fine by me. I just need a tiny white minidress and a bubble helmet.

To put this into context, I'm taking a breather from my first day at design school. I've already seen jillions of fashion Dos and Don'ts, but will try to hold off until I have more days under my (vintage, leather, empire-height, of course) belt. The crowd of carefully accessorized and coiffuered mademoiselles stalking around on their brand-new platform cork-heeled stilettos is more intimidating--or I guess just disconcerting--than I'd expected, so here I am trying to soothe my overmascara'd senses before my lecture on "Concept to Consumer" (yesss!).

ANYWAY: Last week I got to spend a few days in San Francisco, and after
taking me to hug redwoods, my uncle said that we had to visit Yum. It's an adorable shop full of exotic or hard-to-find foods, and a lot of quaint/local/retro/etc. brands. You must go, dahling. I love old-fashioned glass soda bottles (I even smuggled them back from Kenya, where they're the norm), and I stood transfixed in front of their rainbow wall o' bottles; my uncle was excited to find Moxie, the soda he'd been looking for for years. It's kinda yummy--like root beer, but more subtle and spicy. HOWEVER, in my perusing I came across another cute glass bottle that turned my happiness to dismay:

OH. MY. GOD. You've got to be kidding me. Celery not merely as an unfortunate addition or sidekick to other stuff, but actually distilled and intensified into 100% noxiousness? Apparently so. My uncle saw my horrified face and I had to explain; he then said, "Oh, but you've got to try it now, right?" Excuse me? Take something that I know is guaranteed to induce gagging, and consume it willingly? If someone offered him a beverage made from essence of human sweat, would he feel the need to sample? Methinks not. I couldn't understand its continuing popularity (rutabaga soda, anyone? Right.) and wondered if perhaps it didn't actually taste of celery. According to reviews of Cel-Ray, I was sadly wrong. "Just like the name and ingredients imply," raves the lady who loves this crap enough to spend time writing on the internet about it, "it tastes like celery [and] smells exactly like celery. It is fresh and clean and really tasty...I really like it, and I used to drink it back in college all the time." She even goes on to say that "If a deli in New York City did not offer this to drink, it would lose its deli license, I'm sure." OK, so let's construct a little mathematical proof here.

Given: Cel-Ray tastes and smells exactly like celery. Celery is inherently disgusting.

Claims: Reviewer loves Cel-Ray. Said reviewer drank it constantly as a college student. New Yorkers regularly swill down their giant bagels and droopy pizza slices with it.

Conclusions: 1. This woman is an idiot with no taste buds. 2. College kids are idiots with no taste buds. 3. New Yorkers are idiots with no taste buds.

And with that, I'm off to learn about, like, concepts.

> r r <

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Mission Accomplished

Our government did a fine job waging a “War on Spinach”—but, indeed, spinach prevailed and now you can find it again on your grocers’ shelves. I am so excited that I am running off to Trader Joes to buy bags and bags of the iron-clad leaf.

Below are a few suggestions of spinach-laden meals;

Poached Egg with Sautéed Spinach and
St Andre Cheese
Wilted Spinach Leaf Salad with Sweet Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Egg Soup with Spinach and Israeli Cous Cous
Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets and Baked Goat Cheese in a Pine Nut Crust
Creamed Spinach with Nutmeg and
Roasted Garlic

And one of the best recipes of all time from Diane Worthington’s book, “Seriously Simple."

Baked Pasta with Spicy Tomato and Sausage Sauce

1 pound Hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Onion, finely chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2/26-oz boxes
Pomi brand Marinara
6 Tablespoons Basil Pesto
1 pound Penne Pasta, al dente
½ pound Smoked Gouda, finely diced
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
1/6-oz bag of Baby Spinach Leaves

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees
• Sautee Onions and Sausage being sure to break up the meat with the spoon
• Add Garlic and Marinara
• Stir in Pesto and season
• Spread a thin layer of Sauce over the bottom of a casserole dish
• In a bowl combine all ingredients, but for the Parmesan
• Pour into the casserole dish and sprinkle with Parmesan
• Bake until the cheese is browned


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02 October 2006

"It's Not Me, It's You."

Tehra heard those sentiments a year ago from an ex—and she immediately couldn’t wait until she could use it on someone. Well, you're not exactly someone, dear celery—but you are something—something that is worthy of dislike, disgust, and just plain ole "dis-ing."

Though Tehra’s little brother loved you enough to name a cat after you—we do not have the same sentiments. This blog humbly began in the (appropriately humble) Barragan’s Restaurant & Bar on Wednesday night, when they have margaritas for $2.25. One of our party foolishly ordered a Bloody Mary—NOT we might add a bargain drink on Wednesdays—and Rachel commiserated with our friend Jenni over the inexcusable presence of celery in that particular libation. Tehra joined in the complaining with a vengeance, and so the conclusion was reached that no food should ever, ever include more than 5% celery (and that only if essential). It is a vile food, both nasty-tasting and stringy, and it cannot be disguised even by appealing fillings such as peanut butter and raisins (really, wouldn’t “Ants on a Log” taste better without the LOG?). Otherwise-commendable, vegetable juice is rendered undrinkable by that unmistakably rancid eau de celery. And people who lust for its anti-caloric qualities, you’ve obviously got the wrong idea about the purpose of eating.

Yes, mirepoix would not exist without celery. But we propose that rather than the 25% carrot/25% celery/50% onion classical ratio, we whittle the celery down to 5% max. We also have a bunch of other propositions, which as of now aren’t exactly clear, but will be as we happily blog along in the worlds of fashion, food, and general frivolity. Welcome to 5% Celery, where celery is not the only thing we would like to excommunicate—but we're willing to start there.
Celery-less Bloody Mary (don't say that three times in the
mirror...we warned you.)

46 ounce can tomato juice
4 ounces
fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Sea Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 ounces vodka per serving
20 ice cubes
10 thin slices lemon

Combine the tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Pour into
container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Put 2 ice cubes in each 8-ounce glass; add 1 1/2 ounces vodka and 5 ounces tomato-juice mixture. Garnish with a slice of lemon. Voila--drink and enjoy. Drink more, enjoy even more.


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