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Grilled, seared, or baked in the oven, caramelized lemons are a revelation, says danieljdwyer. “In the parts of the world that have been growing lemons for a millennium or more, raw lemon is basically unthinkable,” says danieljdwyer. “Outside of lemonade, I can’t think of any time a lemon is better raw.” Cut in half and caramelized to perfection, cooked lemons are great squeezed on everything from clam pizza to paella.
Caramelizing the lemon adds a depth of flavor that can’t be approached by raw lemon juice. When you squeeze them, you’re getting “something more than just brightness and acidity,” says danieljdwyer. Squeeze those caramelized lemons gently, though—even though lemons dry out in the cooking process, cooked lemons release their juices much more freely than raw lemons.
“In Valencia, they often stick salted lemon halves flesh side up in the paella pan when it goes into the oven,” says danieljdwyer. “A paella oven in Valencia is about as hot as a good pizza oven in the northeast US (so 800 degrees is the low end of the scale). Words can’t describe how much better this is than the comparably pathetic raw lemon wedges you get around here with paella cooked in a 475-degree oven.”
sodagirl agrees, and adds a tip: “Dip the cut end in simple syrup and put it face down on the grill. It burns,” she says. “You get a whole different flavor from the juice.”
Board Link: What makes a good clam pizza?
Last night’s potatoes and cabbage have never been so delicious. Bubble and squeak—commonly abbreviated as “bubble” in English parlance—is a delicious dish of leftover potatoes and greens (usually cabbage, but spinach is fine, says Soop) refried to perfection. Fried in a metal skillet, in copious amounts of butter, it is “sinful and delicious,” says RedTop.
Leftover potatoes and cabbage may not sound like much, but bubble and squeak is a classic. Fydeaux “loved it and couldn’t get enough of it” on a trip to London. Bubble and squeak even appears on upmarket British menus, says Harters. “It was a childhood standard appearing for dinner on Monday evenings as leftovers along with any cold roast meat from Sunday lunch,” says Harters.
Fans of “bubble” make sure to cook extra cabbage and potatoes—good mashing potatoes—to ensure the dish’s appearance the next day. “We mix the two with lots of pepper and then fry in butter,” says Harters. “If you’re clever, you can turn it over by covering with a plate and flipping it to cook the other side,” as with a Spanish tortilla. “Brown sauce is an absolute requirement and I’d have any leftover gravy as well,” he says.
Board Link: Bubble and Squeak
Gnocchi are “fluffy light pillows of flavor,” says hummingbird. At least, they are when they’re good. Potato gnocchi consist of “rich, buttery mashed potatoes with a slightest texture of skin (toothiness)—a structure around the richness,” says alwayscooking. “Cover them with the things you’d want in mashed potatoes or a rich baked potato—a red sauce, a sage butter, or just oil/butter/garlic.” Gnocchi are “like eating clouds with incredible flavor,” agrees bnemes3343.
But gnocchi need not be made with potatoes—there are also Roman-style gnocchi made with semolina, says limster. They can even be made with a ricotta base, says tatamagouche (although, technically, these are called gnudi, says Ima Wurdibitsch). “You can also add ricotta to potato or semolina gnocchi to lighten them a bit,” says tatamagouche.
Heavenly when done right, but beware: When badly done, gnocchi are “pasta bubble gum,” says fourunder.
“The president is the president 24 hours a day. I don’t think he should drink on the job.”
That’s a brief sampling (via Louisiana radio station WWL)
of the puritanical crazies who don’t think President Obama should ever get to enjoy a beer. Footage of the president at an NBA basketball game touched off the brewhaha, with callers split between thinking the guy’s only human, and saying that taking a moment to relax during a national crisis is borderline criminal.
Writing in the always engrossing Gastronomica (article not available online), Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft meditates on Adolf Hitler’s (in)famous vegetarian diet. Jewish vegetarians have fought to debunk the dictator’s meat-free diet; Wurgaft argues that it shouldn’t matter either way:
“Hitler’s ‘vegetarianism’ would have no power to make us anxious if we simply thought clearly about dietary choices. Though they can become markers of political affiliation, they don’t start out that way.”
Minneapolis chef and 2009 Beard Award nominee Stewart Woodman opens up a can of worms on his blog as he strings together interesting if poorly documented molecular gastronomy–related health concerns:
The temporary closing of Heston Blumenthal’s (pictured above) Fat Duck due to a food poisoning scare;
The charge by Chef Santi Santamaria that “recipes made popular by Ferran Adria and his court of followers are putting people at risk”;
Pouring gasoline on the fire, Woodman then observes:
“For the conspiracy theorists out there, if it’s worth anything, Ferran Adrià, and Heston Blumenthal are regularly crowned the best chefs in the world by the British publication Restaurant Magazine, sponsored by Nestlé (San Pellegrino), the world’s largest food processing company.”
“Mornings have never had it so good,” says cvc about pastries and breakfast at Huckleberry Cafe, crowded with eager, happy people. It’s a place “where even the Harbor patrolman in front of me was greeting and smiling at the crowd in line while we all waited patiently to order and pay,” says cvc. Have patience—the pastries are beautiful. The American standards (muffins, bread pudding, lemon bars) will make you rejoice, says cvc, as will the sour cream crumble coffee cake ($5) and cinnamon sugar doughnuts ($2.50).
The maple bacon biscuit is “phenomenal, moist and flaky without feeling like a rock in the stomach,” says sidwich. The tarts are good too; baloney’s favorites are the banana caramel and salted caramel. Try the crunchy croissants too, says keepon.
There’s also heftier food like green eggs and ham, BLTs made from Niman Ranch bacon, and an excellent veal meatball sandwich, says cvc. But Azizeh thinks the sandwiches are merely good and too expensive, though the desserts are totally worthwhile. Her favorites: chocolate truffle pudding and the salted caramel square.
Huckleberry Cafe [Westside – Beaches]
1014 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica
The secret to home cooking in Los Angeles, says aliris, is subscribing to Tierra Miguel. Tierra Miguel is a CSA (community supported agriculture) that brings subscribers regular deliveries of locally grown, organic produce. Essentially, says aliris, buyers are business partners with the growers.
Tierra Miguel’s vegetables are better than those at the organic groceries and the LA farmers’ markets, says aliris. “How good are the veggies? Well, I like to think of it this way: when I cook elsewhere buying the best organic and locally-grown vegetables I can find, my cooking still suffers,” says aliris.
And the variety is enormous, says aliris. The local farmers’ markets are a little more varied than the grocery stores, but not by a lot. Tierra Miguel’s deliveries, on the other hand, have oddities, heirloom varieties, and other stuff that you won’t see anywhere else. And the amount of high-quality vegetable you get for your dollar is a bargain, says aliris. theotherone agrees: “My years of subscribing weekly to TMF have been one of the greatest joys of my life–mostly for the challenge and exploration of the veggies.”
A subscription isn’t for everyone; you get a lot of vegetables with each delivery and don’t have much choice over the selection. You get what’s ripe each week, and that’s that. It’s sort of like, you know, actually living on a farm.
Tierra Miguel is located in the Pauma Valley east of Oceanside, and delivers to Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and a few other areas in Southern California.
You can subscribe on the Tierra Miguel website.
Tierra Miguel Foundation [South of Orange County]
14910 Pauma Valley Drive, Pauma Valley