Marche Moderne Moves and Improves

It’s hard to believe that it could get any better because it was absolutely exquisite in the old spot.

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When the news hit that the star culinary couple Amelia and Florent Marneau were uprooting their highly successful Marche Moderne restaurant from South Coast Plaza to move to Crystal Cove Shopping Center, I was puzzled. Why change the site of this highly acclaimed market-inspired French bistro?

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Amelia Marneau, executive pastry chef, told me that she and her husband wanted a change. Something new. Something fresh. Walking through the 4,200-square-foot restaurant a few days before the recent opening, I totally grasped their meaning.

Light flooded through the windows, many of which welcomed ocean breezes through bi-folding openings. The new spot has 25 more seats than the previous, and the tables are farther apart making it feel much more spacious.

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An 11-seat bar shows off a gray quartzite counter-top and a snazzy Cruvinet wine dispenser featuring a broad selection of French and California wines.

marcheBarAs the project progressed, Marche fans became increasingly impatient. One eager enthusiast loudly revved the engine of his Harley motorcycle at the kitchen’s backdoor; the racket kept up until someone opened the door. The fellow voiced his concern that coq au vin would still be on the menu. Happily, he got that assurance and was on his way. (Certain dishes will remain indefinitely, Marche classics such as that wine-braised chicken dish and Amelia’s Chopped Salad.)

They had a hiatus of seven months between closing and opening that included research in San Francisco and Paris.

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“The bistro Allard from (Alain) Ducasse is so good, yet simple and so fresh …” he said about the Paris restaurant.

“And I think that l’Arpege is the best Michelin star in Paris not just because of the star … the creativity there is insane, not complicated, but just amazing.”

Many dishes are categorized as “small plates.”

Florent wanted to offer smaller portions to give guests the opportunity to sample refined fare with lower price tags.

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The wild Spanish octopus served with chorizo emulsion, potatoes, celery, lemon and the smoky flavor of Espelette pepper is $17 (you won’t find better octopus anywhere).

marcheravioliFoie gras and chestnut filled ravioli are served adrift in duck stock along with celery root confit for $21 (the stock is so deeply flavored, it made me hum).

marchelangoustineAnd yes, a beautifully cooked New Zealand langoustine rests atop sea urchin risotto that’s adorned with lace-y green sea beans for $25 (the full flavors balanced perfectly).

marchefoieSizeIn a different price category, my husband had the sautéed foie gras on toasted onion brioche with Calvados, diced apples and pears, plus a topping of balsamic croustillant (lightly acidic flakey balsamic vinegar curls that Florent crafted through a magical process of dehydration). My sated mate said that it was worth every cent of $33.

There are Amelia’s luscious interpretations of French macarons. The flavors and textures are extraordinary and their size, very generous – Lychee, Yuzu, Rose and Raspberry Texture, the later enriched with white chocolate feuilletine (crispy bits).

It was comforting to see Florent’s copper cookware made the transition to the new locale, the gleaming pots and skillets that he has owned since his teens. Some are in use, others hang on hooks. It’s comforting to see the old with the new.

 Marche Moderne is located at 7862 East Coast Highway, Newport Beach (across from Javier’s). 714-434-7900. Open 7 days a week for dinner (no lunch), starting at 5 o’clock. Valet is $6. Later they will be offering Sunday brunch. After the holidays, they will offer “Spontanée Dinner Menus” – three course dinners for $38 served on Mondays and Tuesdays.

marchecocktailTo read on more from my point of view go to Orange Coast Magazine’s Site,  http://www.orangecoast.com/cathy-thomas-friends/marche-moderne-new-location-crystal-cove/

And please click to share it with your friends. Thanks!

 

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Easier Than Pie, Watch This Blueberry Betty!

Blueberry Betty is a one-dish wonder, easy to prepare and scrumptious to eat.

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Watch this quick how-to video and see just how quickly it comes together.

When serving this for company, I assemble the dish before guests arrive. When the doorbell rings, I put it in the oven and set a timer. It’s still warm (but not bubbling hot) when I serve it accompanied with ice cream.

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The berries are vibrant and a sweet-tart edge,  the crunchy topping is sweet with a crisp texture. Yum-Oh-Lah!

Blueberry Betty
Yield: 6 servings
1 quart fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 6 pieces
For serving: ice cream or whipped cream

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put berries in 1 1/2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with juice and cinnamon.
  2. In food processor fitted with metal blade, add flour and sugar. Pulse on/off  1 time. Add butter and pulse on/off until crumbly and butter is cut into pieces no bigger than peas. Do not blend into a dough – it should be crumbly. If you don’t have a food processor you can use two knives or a pastry cutter. Sprinkle mixture over berries. Bake 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. It is best served warm accompanied with ice cream or whipped cream.pastryCuttercathythomascookslogoModified******

 

 

 

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The Best Blueberry Pie!

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I’ve tasted some very-so-so blueberry pies. The fillings were a snooze, too sweet and a little mushy or sometimes too loose. Yes, some are gummy, others runny.

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My favorite recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, the periodical for nitpick-y cooks that want to know every culinary detail imaginable.

 

I love this jammy blueberry filling, and it is their attention to detail that makes the flavor and consistency so delicious. A grated Granny Smith apple is added to the cooked portion of the filling, offering the right amount of pectin to thicken the mixture along with a small amount of instant tapioca. The consistency is perfect.

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But, here’s my pie confession. I don’t want to work too hard, so I will make a pie-making compromise. I’ll use store-bought refrigerated crusts, the type that is rolled into 9-inch disks. I’ll hide the red box deep in my recycle bin and hold my head high.

You are welcome to make your favorite from-scratch dough if you prefer.

Either way, don’t forget the ice cream.

The Best Blueberry Pie
Yield: one 9-inch pie, 6 to 8 servings
1 box (14.1 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts (two 9-inch rounds), such as Pillsbury Pie Crusts, well chilled
6 cups fresh blueberries
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, grated on large holes of box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest (colored portion of peel) and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca, ground, see cook’s notes
Pinch salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Optional for serving: ice cream or whipped cream

Cook’s notes: Grind the tapioca to a powder in a spice grinder. As for the crust, in my kitchen, it is generally pretty cool so working fast with chilled store-bought dough usually doesn’t require dusting the work surface with flour when rolling it out. If your kitchen is warm or the dough isn’t thoroughly chilled, lightly dust work surface and rolling pin with all-purpose flour before rolling it out.

  1. On a cool, clean, dry work surface roll out one round of refrigerated crust to a 11 1/2-inch circle. Ease it into a 9-inch pie pan, glass (Pyrex) preferred, gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into pie plate bottom with the other hand. Put in refrigerator.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Put rimmed baking sheet on rack. Preheat to 400 degrees. Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using a potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices, leaving more than half of the berries unmashed. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of the berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly off heat.
  3. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry over sink. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups of raw berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, ground tapioca and salt; toss to combine. Transfer to dough-lined pie pan and scatter butter pieces over filling.
  4. Roll out second round crust to an 11-inch circle. Lift dough to make sure it isn’t sticking and replace it onto work surface. Using a 1 1/4-inch glass, spice jar lid, or biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough. Cut another 6 rounds from dough, 1 1/2 inches from center hole. Lift dough and place on top of filling. Fold dough around the edge under itself and pinch to make a ridge that is flush with the outer rim. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger. Or press with the tings of a fork. Brush top and edges of pie with egg wash, coating it very lightly.
  5. Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. If edge of crust is nicely browned, cover edge with a pie ring (a ring-like device that covers the edge of the crust – either metal or silicone) or use small pieces of aluminum foil to cover edge of crust. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is deep golden brown and juices bubble. Transfer to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve. Accompany with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine

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Paella Pleasures

A long-ago tale of rice and seafood …

Thanks to pal Judy Shepard for the photo!

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I worried about the waiter. He risked life and limb to deliver my first taste of paella, Spain’s revered rice-based one-dish delicacy.

In a tiny outdoor cafe on the Spanish island of Majorca, perched on a bluff overlooking the sea, I relished every kernel of saffron-scented rice, cherished every morsel of oh-so-fresh, salty-sweet seafood.
Even if the taste had been less than divine — and trust me, it was luscious — the visual splendor alone should have been enough to tune out distractions. Bright red lobster, jet-black mussels, yellow-orange rice and bright-green peas paint quite a picture in the pan. But peril laid in its path from chef to customer.

The dining area was on the opposite side of the street from the kitchen. A busy road, teaming with traffic, separated customer and cocina.
Even the casual observer could tell at a glance that the trays were heavy. They were loaded with steaming paella pans, the shallow, two-handled cooking vessels in which paella is prepared.
The bantam-weight waiter held the unwieldy platter of pans over his head with one hand, boldly waving his free arm to stop cars, trucks and motor scooters.
When he made it to the table, in my best Spanish, I asked him if the treacherous nature of his job made him nervous. Calmly, he explained that his two brothers were bullfighters, and that danger was in his blood. He considered his job to be on the safe side.
Besides, he had all the paella he could eat.
And that didn’t limit him to just seafood paellas but an almost inexhaustible number of variations to the classic dish. Paella originated in Valencia, a region on Spain’s eastern coast. Early versions of Valencian paella included rice, chicken, rabbit, green beans, fresh butter beans, tomato, olive oil, paprika, saffron, water and salt.
“The only indispensable ingredients are rice, water and olive oil,” writes Penelope Casas, author of “Paella! ” (Henry Holt, $27.50). “Everything else is the subject of endless debates and discussions by Spaniards, who love a lively conversation and consider their own recipe the one and only. Paellas are as free-spirited as the cooks who prepare them; once the technique is mastered, the sky is the limit.”

Seafood Paella
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/3 cup warm water
2 boneless chicken breasts, each cut into 3 pieces
10 chicken drumettes
About 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice blend, such as chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic or Poultry Magic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups white short-grain or medium-grain rice, arborio preferred
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups chicken broth, homemade or canned reduced-sodium broth
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths (if large, cut in half lengthwise)
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
12 medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined
18 small clams, such as littleneck clams, scrubbed
Optional: 18 mussels, scrubbed 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut into thin strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut into thin strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
Juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 lemons cut in fourths for garnish
Garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Cook’s notes: If clams fail to open during the completion of the paella, remove them from paella and place in a saucepan with 1 cup dry white wine. Cover and bring to boil; check after 3-4 minutes; most of them should be open. Discard any unopened clams.
1. Place saffron in warm water; set aside. Season chicken with Cajun spice blend. Heat oil over medium-high heat in large skillet or paella pan. Brown chicken, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan with slotted spoon.
2. Add onion, garlic and rice. Stir to coat rice. Add saffron mixture, turmeric and broth. Add chicken and cook on medium heat, covered, 15 minutes.
3. Add green beans, pushing into rice mixture. Add tomato, shrimp, clams, mussels (if using), bell peppers, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add peas; cover and cook 5 minutes.
4. Remove lid and cook until all broth is absorbed. Drizzle lemon juice over top. Place lemon wedges around edges and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Yield: 6-8 servings
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Studio, How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Chef Gardener Kathryn Agresto, owner of Native Soil Gardens, tends and oversees the 1,000 square foot garden next to Studio at Montage Laguna.

Studio Executive Chef - Craig Strong

Studio Executive Chef – Craig Strong

Studio’s talented executive chef, Craig Strong,  is inspired by the garden, creating dishes that are rich tasting, yet light and healthful. 

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Here’s a shot of Studio’s raised beds. Fruit trees are espaliered against the wall on the right.

 

Below at my house: I know the joy of edible landscaping. Kathryn Agresto makes my garden into a cook’s paradise.

Chard, tarragon, African blue basil, chives, chilies, sage, strawberries and lettuces – just to name a few. And my yard it tiny!garden2017

A pot of peppery greens: In early spring Agresto planted a container of greens with a pepper edge: mizuna, mustard greens, and the feathery bad boy pictured below, Red Frills Mizuna.

I make a salad with mild red leaf lettuce, then pick a few of these frisky elements to add palate excitement.  Love it.GardenPeppery

Meanwhile, at Studio, Chef Strong is offering a Vegetarian Tasting Menu. It’s so tempting, you even carnivores adore these scrumptious dishes. Read my story at http://www.orangecoast.com/cathy-thomas-friends/studios-vegetarian-tasting-menu-six-courses-reinvented-classics/

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Deconstructed Pistachio Pavlova: This luscious dessert (the finales of the Vegetarian Tasting Menu) looks a little like artistic Tinker Toys.

French meringues, both disks and cylinders, are dried in a dehydrator until noisily crunchy. They team with pistachio ice cream, whipped pistachio ganache and candied pistachios rolled in chocolate. Also on the plate, some pistachio paste, lemon marmalade and crème Chantilly.

And a perfect white and purple pansy reclines on one side.

Mmmmmm.

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Zov’s Pastry Chef Shares Secrets to Gorgeous Flow Icing Topped Cut-Out Easter Cookies

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Whimsy teams with artistry atop Michelle Bracken’s decorated cutout cookies.

Themed to holidays, these impressive treats have become a kind of edible calendar for patrons at Zov’s Bistro and Bakery in Tustin, where Bracken is the longtime executive pastry chef. Valentine’s Day through Christmas, these glamorous goodies represent symbols of the season.

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For me, my favorites are her Easter cookies: chicks, bunnies and eggs, even stunning carrots.

A bed of flow icing forms a canvas atop each cookie, the super-smooth surface adorned with colorful details – eyes, ears, flowers, swirls and pinstripes, plus the occasional dusting of sparkly sanding sugar.

Watch the video and pay close attention to the icing’s consistency.

Royal Icing
Yield: about 2 cups
4 eggs whites or 4 ounces, see cook’s notes
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Additional powdered sugar and egg whites to adjust consistency
For decorating: dyes, plastic or parchment paper pastry bags and tips, lots of small bowls or containers, sanding sugar
Cook’s notes: If you prefer to use pasteurized egg whites, Bracken suggests using Organic Valley Brand (Whole Foods and Sprouts). If piping polka dots on cookies, do so while flow icing is still wet.
1. Place egg whites, powdered sugar and juice in large bowl of electric stand mixer. Disconnect whisk attachment and use to mix ingredients by hand. When thoroughly combined, place on machine and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom; increase speed to medium-high; beat 1 to 2 more minutes. Remove whisk attachment and lift it up. A trail of 3 to 4 inches of icing should stay in place when you lift the whisk attachment above the bowl. At this firmer consistency, the icing is used to outline the top edge of each cookie (this is a little wall to corral the flow icing). If making bunnies and chicks, for example, put a small amount of white in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip and put another small amount in a bowl and stir in yellow dye (a little dye goes a long way, so just use a smidgen) – stir to combine a place in a second pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Thinly outline the cookies; dry. Don’t leave icing uncovered; cover with damp cloth or plastic wrap.
2. Create flow icing. A more liquid consistency is required for the flow icing. In small bowls of royal icing, dyed to desired colors (in this example, one left white, one yellow), add 1 teaspoon of egg white at a time, stirring between additions just enough to combine (don’t overmix), until mixture is a little thicker than thick whipping cream. Place in piping bag(s) fitted with medium-small plain tip (or simply cut off end) and pipe onto cookies starting next to outline, using a tight 1/2-inch long zigzag motion until all of cookie surface is filled inside the outline. Prick any bubbles that appear on the surface with the tip of the pastry bag, using an up and down motion. Or use the tip of a paring knife or a clean finger. Set aside to dry (see cook’s notes). It is best to do up to this point 24 hours in advance to thoroughly dry icing.
3. Place some icing (original, not flow consistency) in several bowls. Dye each a different color, such as black for eyes, green for leaves, orange for beaks and flowers, blue for flowers. If icing needs to be thicker, stir in a little powdered sugar. For flowers use a small fluted tip. When the flow icing is dry, decorate as desired. If you want to add sanding sugar, sprinkle it on when decorated elements are wet and shake off excess. Set aside to thoroughly dry. Cookies can be stored airtight for 3 days.
Source: Michelle Bracken, executive pastry chef, Zov’s Bistro and Bakery, Tustin

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Chef Ross Pangilinan Spreads His Wings – Departs Leatherby’s For His Own Mix Mix

Orange Coast Magazine’s restaurant critic Gretchen Kurz just named Mix Mix Kitchen Bar as “Restaurant of the Year.”

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Vision, talent and guts. That’s what it takes for a chef to leave a much respected restaurant to plunge into the hazardous waters of restaurant ownership.  Count award-winning Chef Ross Pangilinan as one of those brave owners.

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In December he opened Mix Mix Kitchen Bar, a globally inspired restaurant and bar in Downtown Santa Ana (in the location previously occupied by Little Sparrow). The restaurant’s name, Mix Mix, pays tribute to halo-halo, the ice cold Filipino dessert that is “mixed;” the two “M’s” honor his children, Madeleine and Maddex.

He smiled when I asked why he wanted to own his own restaurant, his mahogany-hued eyes narrowing a bit, his hands peacefully at rest on the table.

“I wanted a new challenge,” he explained. “I knew it was time for me to either do my own thing, or stay (at Leatherby’s) for the next twenty years.

“I knew it would mean less time for my family, but I’m making the best of my time off. Sunday we are only open for brunch, and Mondays we are closed.”

Read more of my story about Chef Pangilinan and his Mix Mix Kitchen Bar: http://www.orangecoast.com/cathy-thomas-friends/chef-ross-pangilinan-leaves-leatherbys-open-mix-mix/

Spot-On Dishes

Eat in the dining room, or dine in the bar. There are snacks, small plates, entrees and desserts.  Order a la carte or choose one of the three options for prix fixe menus. The cuisine is so scrumptious – it is tempting to repeat the same dishes on subsequent visits. But try them all.

Here is a sample:

Organic Trumpet Mushrooms: Small trumpet mushrooms tossed with oil are cooked to perfection in a perforated pan sat atop a hot grill. The holes in the pan help to sear the little darlings without making them greasy. Topped with herbaceous gremolata made with chives, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and chili flakes yields a lovely brightness.

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(These mushrooms are so delicious! And easy enough to make at home. Scroll down for recipe.)

Filipino Ceviche: It’s the cane vinegar and coconut lime dressing that give this dish Filipino roots. It’s gorgeous on the plate and the palate. Yellow fin tuna pairs with avocado, pork cracklings and Thai chili.

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Soft Egg Raviolo: The inspiration for this delectable dish harkens back to his time in the Patina kitchen. This large disk of stuffed black pepper pasta showcases herbed ricotta, guanciale (luscious cured hog cheek or jowl), Parmesan and brown butter. And of course, a soft-cooked egg.

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Tropical Verrine: A twist on the Filipino halo- halo, the coconut panna cotta base is topped with an irresistible crown of passion fruit gelée, candied kumquat slices, lychees, mango, pineapple, and macadamias. Divine.

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Mix Mix Kitchen Bar is at 300 North Main Street in Santa Ana. 714-836-5158

Trumpet Mushrooms with Gremolata
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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2 (8-ounce) packs of Baby Trumpet Mushrooms (available in Asian markets – see photo)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and pepper

Gremolata:

2 bunches Italian parsley
1 tablespoons minced garlic
2 lemons –  juice and finely minced zest
2 limes –  juice and finely minced zest
Finely minced zest of 2 oranges
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Toss mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Saute 4 to 5 minutes, or caramelized and tender. Chef’s tip: He cooks the mushrooms in a perforated hotel pan over grill.
2. Prepare gremolata. Remove leaves from parsley and finely chop leaves. Combine chopped parsley leaves with garlic, zests and chili flakes. Stir in olive oil. Salt to taste.
3. Toss hot mushrooms with enough gremolata to generously coat; serve.

Source: Ross Pangilinan, executive chef-owner Mix Mix Kitchen Bar

 

 

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My La La Land Escapades

When I was attending college in Los Angeles, downtown L.A. was a ghost town after dark or on weekends. Needless to say, that was a long time ago.

A recent weekend spent downtown, gave me a new perspective. It was a tease – a little three-day taste of delicious fun and thought-provoking sites. The city bustles with activity fed by condos filled with city dwellers. Restaurants, bars and stores (including a gorgeous Whole Foods) are mushrooming.

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Along will pals Marcia Kay and Ron, we checked into the beautiful Omni Los Angeles Hotel. Located on Bunker Hill (Olive Street), this sleek hotel is steps away from The Broad and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

We started with lunch at Otium, the restaurant right next to the Broad where French Laundry vet, Chef Timothy Hollingsworth, is in charge. We had tickets for The Broad later in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to relish each scrumptious bite.

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Otium favorites: Crispy Potatoes with Lemon Salt, Aleppo Pepper and Creme Fraiche (to die for spuds) + Rigatoni with Guanciale, Smoked Pecorino, Snap Peas and Tellicherry Pepper + Roast Chicken with Potatoes (yes more potatoes), Onion, Shishito Chilies and Aji Verde.

We loved our time at The Broad. Over the last forty years, the Broads have built one of the most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. Spending time ogling modern art is of special interest to my husband Phil, who was commissioned in the 70’s and 80’s to precision machine sculptures from artists Roy Lichtenstein,  Joseph and Anni Albers, and  Alexander Calder. Through his work, he got to know the artists and treasures those memories.

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An architectural walking tour offered by the Lost Angeles Conservancy proved to be a delight. Who knew there were so many gorgeous old downtown buildings?

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We learned about Beaux-Arts architecture (first quarter of 20th century), as well as Art Deco (popular in the 1920’s). Of course we explored the Los Angeles Central Library and the Bradbury Building, and Angels Flight. My favorite was the PacMutual Center on 6th Street.  (www.info@laconservancy.org)

The PacMutual Building is a fine example of Beaux-Arts ideals. It has imposing exterior columns and an oh-so-grand marble lobby (Los Angeles’ Water Grill Restaurant is here.)

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Lunch at Clifton’s Cafeteria was a hoot. The Clinton family’s five generations as California restaurateurs began when David Harrison Clinton came to Los Angeles from Missouri in 1888 and purchased the Southern Hotel and its dining room in downtown Los Angeles.

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The setting is truly unique, with waterfalls, bridges, a chapel, foliage and taxidermy. We had cocktails, followed by turkey pot pies.

Here’s a Clifton’s Cafeteria postcard from the 1040’s …

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Dinner at Church & State was a treat. It’s an inviting French bistro located on the ground floor of the original NABISCO bakery and offices built in 1925.  This busy eatery is in the Arts District and offers irresistible French bistro fare (delicious bone marrow, steak frites, and pork belly – salads, soups and ooh-la-la desserts).   

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I had the steak frites. Delicious. But first, an irresistible endive and green apple salad.

 

 

Sunday Brunch at Bottega Louie. This not-to-be-missed experience makes you feel like you are in at the best patisserie in Paris.

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We arrived as they opened in the morning and were filling the cases with just-baked breads, tarts, cakes, viennoiserie, macarons and cookies. I couldn’t resist – even though I ate the Eggs Benedict served with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon … I bought some almond croissants to go!LaBottegaLouieCaseYes

We also explored Olvera Street and Union Station, visits that brought back childhood memories. We’re looking forward to a future adventure in La La Land.  There is much left to explore.

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Chef Yvon Goetz’ Not-Your-Mama’s Braised Short Rib Hash

I bet this isn’t your mama’s hash. Certainly not my mom’s hodgepodge of leftovers and pragmatic whatnots, an impromptu mix of last night’s meat scraps and vegetables from the bin.

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French-born Executive Chef Yvon Goetz creates a hash of an entirely different sort. Served as a brunch entrée at The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar on the waterfront in Newport Beach, Goetz’ well-planned hash boasts flavors that are perfectly balanced, as well as a mingling of textures that make for welcome contrasts.

WATCH THE VIDEO: His Zinfandel braised beef short ribs are cooked classically – long, slow, moist heat yields them alluringly tender. They team with fingerling potatoes, wild mushrooms, grilled asparagus and fresh herbs. Napping each element is the reduced and strained braising juice. The finale is the addition of a sunny-side up egg. Superb.

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Sunday Brunch is served from 11AM to 2 PM at The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar in Newport Beach, 3131 West Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach. Reservations recommended. 949-999-6622. Also try the Crème Brulee French Toast.

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Chef’s loves the shape of a tourne knife. The blade is curved like a bird’s beak. In French kitchens it is used for “tourneeing” root vegetables (skillfully making them into little football shapes). The knife is great for peeling vegetables and fruit.

Want to know more about Chef Yvon? Or see other stories that I have written about OC restaurants? Go to the Orange Coast Magazine’s Website  http://www.orangecoast.com/cathy-thomas-friends/

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Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs, Wild Mushroom & Fingerling Potato Hash
Yield: 8 servings
4 (14-ounce) beef short ribs (bone-in or a smaller amount of boneless meat)
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon oil (canola combined with olive oil)
1 cup large onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup (white and light green portion) leeks, diced
1 cup peeled and diced carrots or cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, diced or cut into 3/4-inch chunks
5 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bottle Zinfandel or other full-bodied red wine
1 quart veal stock (sodium-reduced beef broth can be substituted)
1 teaspoon black peppercorn, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
Hash Assembly:
16 ounces cooked short ribs
1 cup stained and reduced braising liquid, plus more if needed
1 bunch green asparagus, grilled or roasted, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more left whole for garnish
2 cups chopped mixed wild mushrooms ( or sliced button mushrooms), sautéed in butter, garlic, salt and pepper
2 cups fingerling potatoes, oven roasted with little oil, salt and pepper, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
About 3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Canola oil
8 large eggs, fried sunny-side up
1. Braising Meat: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season meat with salt, pepper; dust with flour, shaking off the excess. Heat oil in large skillet on medium high heat and sear the short ribs, turning as needed to deeply brown each side. Remove meat. Reduce heat to medium; add onion, leeks, carrots, celery and garlic in the remaining oil and cook about 4 minutes, tossing as needed. Add the tomato paste and toss to coat; cook about 1 minute and add wine. Turn heat to high and reduce in volume by 1/2 to 2/3. Add veal stock (or broth) and bring to boil; add black peppercorns, bay leaf, bay leaf and thyme. Place meat in ovenproof casserole. Pour the red wine mixture over meat. Cover and cook in preheated oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until meat is very tender. When cooked, remove the meat from the stock, strain the stock in a fine mesh strainer and reduce on medium-high heat until syrupy.
2. Cut meat into bite-sized cubes and heat up in the braising liquid in a saucepan. In a large deep skillet, heat asparagus (put garnish aside), mushrooms and potatoes in butter. Season with salt and pepper. Add meat mixture and chopped chives. Make sure the mixture is not too dry. Transfer servings to shallow bowls or small individual cast iron skillets. Top each with one or two fried eggs and if desired, two asparagus spears. The dish can be served with a side salad if desired.

 

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Start the Party: Glamorous, Luscious, Easy Appetizer

Five minutes and you have starters that are as delicious as they are glamorous. These beauties are lavash (bought at Trader Joe’s) spread with cream cheese and rolled around watercress (or arugula) and pickled ginger. EASY.

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Got 5 minutes?

(Thanks to videographer Curt Norris for taping and editing this quickie video!)

Ginger Roll-Ups
Yield: 16 servings
One (8-ounce) plus one (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 (9-by-12-inch) sheets of lavash, see cook’s notes
2 1/2 cups baby arugula or 1 large bunch watercress (large stems removed, washed, patted dry)
One (8-ounce) jar pink pickled ginger, liquid squeezed out, see cook’s notes
Cook’s notes: Lavash is soft, thin flatbread; it’s sold at some supermarkets, Trader Joe’s and Middle Eastern markets. It should be pliable enough to roll, but if it isn’t you can moisten it with a damp paper towel. Pink pickled ginger is sold in many supermarkets in jars, either in the refrigerated deli close to the wonton skins, or in the sushi section.
1. Place cream cheese in food processor; whirl until soft. Spread cream cheese on one side of each lavash. Place leaves in a single layer on top; cover with pickled ginger. Starting from long side, roll each into a long roll (if it cracks don’t worry, just keep rolling). Trim each end.
Do-Ahead: Wrap each roll in a dampened paper towel (slightly moist, not wet). Refrigerate up to 3 hours in plastic bag or airtight container. Cut crosswise into 1 1/4-inch pieces. Place cut-side down to display spiral design created by ingredients.

lavashtraderjoes

pickledginger

quickiegingerrollups

cathylogocabbage

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