Grant and I are convinced the Wachowski Brothers live on our street. We saw one out last week foraging for costumes for their next movie. (you can’t really tell but he’s rummaging through a box of old clothes that someone put out on the street) Check back for more sightings.
At some point we got the crazy idea to make tapas. I think we were just craving a little bit of everything. So we went for it. The menu consisted of figs with prosciutto, roasted beets with basil and buffalo mozzarella, pan fried baby artichokes, deep fried cauliflower, fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with anchovy and mozzarella, mussels in a white sauce, tortilla Espanola, and cheese and olives.
Everything was pretty easy to make. We used a little Cuisinart deep fryer for the cauliflower. Just break a full head into pieces and toss them into light canola oil at around 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until they turn golden brown. For the baby artichokes, remove a few layers of the outer leaves and then steam them for about 12 minutes and then fry them in oil until they get crispy. The other recipes were a bit more involved.
Baked Beets with Basil and Burrata
4 medium sized red beets, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
salt and pepper
Place the beets on a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Sprinkle generously with olive oil, vinegar, salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover tightly with another sheet of aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the top foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, depending on how juicy or crispy you want them. I like ‘em juicy so less time is better.
Mussels in a White Sauce
1 lb black mussels
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup cheap dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 shallots, diced
italian parsley, cleaned and torn
Soak the mussels in salt water for ten minutes and scrub them together to clean. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and let them brown for about 4 minutes. Add the white wine and let it reduce by about half (maybe 2 minutes) Add the mussels and italian parsley, cover and cook on medium until the mussels open. Remove from heat so you don’t over-cook the mussels. Serve with bread to soak up the sauce.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms
zucchini blossoms, cleaned with stamens removed
1 cup flower
1 cup cold water
1 egg, beaten
pinch of salt
mozzarella cheese, cut into strips
To make the batter, mix the flower and salt together and then add the water and egg and mix until the consistency is very thin. Stuff the blossoms with a small half inch piece of anchovy and a chunk of cheese. Heat about a quarter inch of oil in a pan. Dip the blossoms and cover completely in the batter and place into hot oil. Fry until light brown and crispy and then flip and repeat. Dry on a paper towel.
On July 2nd, I went downtown with Scott. Not that downtown, LA downtown. It was actually, surprisingly, fun. Downtown is a pretty cool area, it just needs more people walkin’ around to feel like its not constantly deserted. We started in Little Tokyo with some red bean buns and some peach tea. I don’t have pictures of anything because I’m new to documenting every moment of my life, as hard as that may be to believe. I only took two, one in the store where we bought the tea. I love Japanese grocery stores, everything is so cool and the packaging is always so interesting and ridiculous.
We walked over to Olivera Street after and took a stroll down the main drag. Also nice, much better on the weekends, Scott tells me. We went to an old place called Paul’s Kitchen for lunch. We had the Chicken Salad and the Sweet and Sour Pressed Duck with extra MSG. It made me so sleepy. After we checked out this awesome Italian deli called Bottega Louie which I would definitely recommend visiting and eating at if you’re downtown. It’s a special place and a really cool space. That’s kind of when we got inspired to make Tapas for dinner. Nothing to do with Italian food, more just the quantity in the deli displays. That and the farmer’s market we happened upon in Westwood when we got back. Check back for that feast later.
These guys were out in numbers, like 30 of ‘em, to control the crowds and crowds of folks that came out to see Villaraigosa speak (there were really maybe 10 people there).
Now, at the 518, we get a lot of house guests, and one weekend things got a little out of hand and our downstairs toilet flooded. Here’s the letter we got from our allstar manager, David. The thing to note here would be that it’s addressed to David + Toni…. He think’s Peter’s name is Toni, and that’s just racist and hilarious.
Just as a side note, neither Peter (Toni) nor I use that bathroom. However, a list of people not to trust in your bathroom is available upon request.
I decided to take Scott on a little trip to Italy, through food: Chicken Milanese, to be exact. He made his famous Spanish potatoes. Corn was there for emotional support. Grant provided mediation and character reinforcement and refinement.
Chicken Milanese is pretty easy to make. The hardest part is pounding it flat to about a quarter to a half inch thick. Here’s my special recipe (inspired by Dr/Chef Bordow):
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
about 3 cups breadcrumbs – you want about 3/4 cup for each breast, I just bought mine pre-made at Whole Foods but you can make your own from bread that’s a few days old or with a new baguette that’s been baked at low temperature for about an hour until its real hard
2 large lemons
pinch of salt and pepper
2 tbsp. italian seasoning – pre-made or use oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc. to taste
4 large shallots
1 clove garlic
1 cup cheap white wine
3/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs (2 eggs per 3 pieces of chicken) beaten in a small bowl
Breadcrumbs: In a food processor or blender add baked baguette or pre-made breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, teaspoons of salt and pepper, lemon zest of 2 lemon and italian seasonings. You can also add a little lemon juice if you like citrus, lord knows I do. Blend until very fine and then pour out into large mixing bowl.
The Chicken: Marinade the breasts in a sealable container with the olive oil, salt and italian seasoning (and fresh spices if you have them) for at least 30 minutes, an hour is better. Place the chicken on a cutting board and place a sheet of wax paper over it to prevent splattering. With a mallet or a pan or something hard, pound the chicken to about 1/2 inch thick. Dip the pounded chicken into the egg and make sure to cover it completely. Then put the chicken into the breadcrumb mixture and cover it completely, patting it and making sure not to leave any open spots. Place the chicken in a lightly oiled oven pan, like a cookie sheet (see pics below). For a little extra flavor, put a little slice of butter on each piece. And how. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 450° depending on the thickness of your chicken.
The Sauce: Dump the rest of the chicken marinade into a large pan and heat. Add diced shallots once the oil gets hot. Add crushed garlic (I use precrushed frozen garlic from Trader Joes… it’s easier). Squeeze in the lemon juice from the lemons and then dice up the lemons and add them in as well. Once they’ve sauteed for about 5 minutes, add in the wine and let it reduce on medium heat until the chicken is ready.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with italian parsley. Mmm mm good. The potato recipe will be coming soon courtesy of Mr. Scott.
Have you ever eaten so much that you want to die? I often feel this way after meals with Grant but this time we took it to the max. We bought everything fresh from Nijiya Market on Sawtelle near Olympic and made spicy tuna maki rolls and tuna nigiri.
To make the rice we used a rice cooker and added butter and rice vinegar to taste. We made it fluffy but not too sweet. We wafted it outside to cool it down.
To make the Spicy Tuna, we used the following ingredients:
1/2 lb Tuna (negitori if they have it – just means it’s mashed)
3 tbsp QP Kewpie mayonnaise
1/8 lb Masago (fish roe)
3 stalks green onion
half a lemon’s zest
2 tbsp. panko (kind of like tempura flakes)
hot japanese red pepper – any kind will work – to taste
The consistency was thick and I messed around with the mayo and the panko and then added the hot pepper until it was juuuuust right. If it gets too hot, you can always add more panko to neutralize the heat a bit.
I attempted to make my roll without seaweed on the outside, the way the real chefs do it. I wrapped the bamboo roller thingy with high quality Japanese plastic wrap (it was just regular wrap) and then laid a sheet of rice on top of it with wet hands. It’s the same process when using seaweed, except there is no plastic wrap involved, you just lay the seaweed (nori) down on the roller and add the rice on top of that. Then you add the fillings; we added the spicy tuna, avocado and japanese cucumber.
I forgot to put seaweed on the inside of the roll which probably would have made it hold together a little better. I put a little Masago and some roasted sesame seeds on the outside of the roll to give it a little pizazz. A little Gushi sauce on top and it was delicioso.
Grant’s first roll came out a little lopsided but it tasted divine. Also, he had on his extra-sanitary cooking shirt which kept any chest hair from getting into the rolls.
We used about a third of a pound of Blue Fin Tuna to make the nigiri. Nigiri is just a small lump of rice with a little wasabi and a slab of sashimi (raw fish) on top. I think these are what put me over the edge.
Reider was a natural, rolling the maki like a pro. He knew it too.
The full feeling only got worse as the rice expanded in our little bellies. We had to retire to the den to sample the visual delicacies brought to us by HBO. We tried Hung. It was terrible, I would recommend against ever watching it again. Ever.
It was an action packed weekend and time for some rest upon returning to LA. Carbon is the perfect place. It was overcast when we got there but warm and windless, perfect. I think I would like any job where I could combine living on the beach, reading and working from home. I’m very open to suggestions but no Ponzi Schemes please. And yeah, that’s a murse. And?
I also spent so long trying to remember the name of the song that samples The Pharcyde’s, Passing Me By. Finally, Joe – Stutter. A middle school hit!