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What are you baking these days? December 2014 edition! [old]

I bake and freeze my Christmas cookies early so I can give them out to people all December long. Today was lemon iced ginger cookies (combo of a couple recipes) and classic decorated sugar cookies (same recipe I learned from my mom 40+ years ago).

Gjusta great place for your Croissant fix

I am addicted to that bialy. Gjusta has become the bane of my healthy living existence. I work out at Gold's every morning and since Gjusta opened the smells of rv exhaust and questionable personal hygiene have been replaced with those of baking bread and roasting meat. At least a couple times a week I am unable to resist and end up going across the street for a bialy or bagel to go, thus undoing the effects of my workout. I've also enjoyed their soups and frittatas. Only thing I tried and didn't love was a squash (I think) quick bread that was too oily for my taste.

ISO advice from seasoned cookie bakers and/or crafty types

I've done this before with slightly younger kids and would definitely recommend making the dough in advance, especially since most recipes for cut-out cookies require chilling the dough for at least a few hours before rolling and cutting. You could have them prepare the icing and get the experience of measuring and combining ingredients that way.

Nov 28, 2014
cookie monster in Home Cooking

Post your ideas for Thanksgiving sides/dishes and give and get feedback..

I like roasted chick peas a lot but they're more crunchy than creamy. More like a nut than a vegetable.

Nov 26, 2014
cookie monster in Home Cooking

Rule #1...always...

And trust your instinct, not the recipe, regarding how much time. Just did, or rather failed to do, that this weekend with pine nuts. Recipe said 15 minutes at 350'. I thought that seemed way too long, yet I set the timer for 15 minutes. at 8 minutes I smelled the beginnings of burning but was too late to rescue them. Fortunately I had more.

Other than the burger (and beer) what else do you like at Father's Office?

+2 on the sweet potato fries. also the beet salad.

"Artisan" pickled veggies for sale?

Gjusta, the new bakery/cafe from the Gjelina folks on Sunset in Venice, has some really nice looking jars of pickled vegetables. I haven't tried them yet, but the various pickles served at Gjelina are really good.

I've also seen them at the farmers market but of course I can't remember the name of the vendor.

Thanksgiving late night on Maui

Safeways in Kahalui and Lahaina are normally open 24 hours a day. might be worth calling them to ask about Thanksgiving Day hours.

Nov 21, 2014
cookie monster in Hawaii

Lowering Salt and Seasoning on TrJ Seasoned Nuts

Same here. I actually mix them together in the same container so the seasoning gets distributed to the unsalted ones. Seems like a much simpler process.

Nov 19, 2014
cookie monster in Chains

Rule #1...always...

Crack each egg into a bowl separately before adding it to whatever you're making. Nothing like trying to pick bits of shell out of your cake batter, or even better ruining it with a bloody chicken embryo, to reinforce that rule.

Honolulu report (and a footnote about Maui)

Thanks for the background info on Ginza Barin Tonkatsu, macsak. I'm glad we decided to check it out.

Nov 19, 2014
cookie monster in Hawaii

Honolulu report (and a footnote about Maui)

Reporting back following my inquiry here:

Was in Waikiki for 5 days with two friends and we ended up having meals at a mix of touristy spots (hard to avoid when one is indeed a tourist in Waikiki) and more off the beaten path locations. We stayed at the Trump International (long story how that came about) in a condo with a full kitchen so we picked up groceries at Foodland and fixed our own breakfasts at the condo, which worked out well for me in particular since I was up at 5:30 every morning to go surfing :-). I don't eat any seafood, one friend eats very little meat and the other eats everything, so we had to do some negotiating over menus when choosing restaurants. Places we ate and drank, in no particular order other than how I'm remembering them:

Wai'olu Lounge at the Trump – nothing earth-shattering, but the sunset view is spectacular and the happy hour food and drink prices are quite reasonable. Friends had a few sushi rolls and poke, and I enjoyed some fancy nachos. This is where we discovered that Hawaii (or at least Honolulu) has a law that prohibits serving a person more than one drink at a time. So no rushing in 5 minutes before happy hour ends and ordering 2 drinks at once.

Sunset drinks at House Without A Key, Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian, and Duke's Beach Bar – all full of other tourists and yet fun and totally worth doing. I'm not a Mai Tai drinker – I stuck with white wine and the occasional beer – but friends liked the ones at the Mai Tai Bar best. We ended up ordering dinner at Duke's and I was pleasantly surprised by my Korean steak tacos. Seriously spicy sauce, good quality beef, and cooling crunchy vegetable slaw for contrast.

MW Restaurant – definitely the highlight of the trip food-wise. Appealing space once you find it in the back of the shopping center and excellent service. I thoroughly enjoyed my pickled beets and goat cheese (both local) and pork shank, along with a taste of my friend's pork belly buns. Friends were very pleased with various seafood dishes, and we shared a chocolate banana cream pie for dessert. Oh, and they sent us home with little bags of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I definitely want to go back there – there were so many items on the menu that I wanted to try. Highly recommended for a great meal away from Waikiki.

North Shore Tacos (Hauula) – we stumbled across this place during our day trip to see the big wave surfing on the North Shore while we were starving and discovering that a lot of local places were closed on Sundays. Very good beef, pork and fish tacos (although honestly I was so hungry I would've been happy with Taco Bell) and some interesting South American desserts made by one of the owners.

Giovanni Pastrami – I know, I know – what were we thinking? All I can say is we needed someplace with a bunch of tvs to watch college football, and the menu here appealed more than the Yard House. Decent drinks and over-priced but edible omelets and salads. And they didn't mind that we hung out for 4 hours watching the games.

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin – we happened across this place while returning to our condo and were intrigued by the menu and the vibe, so we came back for dinner a few days later. I have to admit that Tonkatsu was a totally new concept to me, and I really enjoyed both the cutlet and ground pork versions. And grinding our own sesame seeds to make the sauce was fun.

Arnold's Beach Bar & Grill – no view, no fancy appetizers, no hula dancers, just cheap drinks and a young mixed local and visitor crowd down a little alley half a block from the Trump. Probably not a place I would've wandered into on my own, but a friend took me there the last time I was in Honolulu so I had to go back this trip for a nightcap.

*Footnote re: Maui – I also spent 5 days in Paia solo where I pretty much cooked all my own meals (love the Kahalui Whole Foods!) other than a trip to the Flatbread Company for some of my favorite pizza anywhere and a couple stops at local bars for happy hour and football viewing.

Thanks everyone for all your input. I'm already planning for my next Hawaii trip!

Nov 18, 2014
cookie monster in Hawaii

Late Thanksgiving in LA?

That is a helpful list. I would also try to get a sense of places that are serving that late and still have availability.

Santa Monica

Wilshire Restaurant has a beautiful back patio with a couple different areas that can be separated for private parties.

burger and a glass of wine

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I ended up at Golden State because I wanted to try some place I hadn't been before. Plus it was 3pm by the time I was ready to eat so that eliminated some options. (Also Perk, J.L. - unless their website was wrong, Morton's in BH isn't open for lunch.) Anyways, I make no claim to be a burger expert but I really enjoyed the one at Golden State. Cooked exactly to the requested medium rare, good brioche bun (just a little too big for the patty), cheese and bacon. And a pretty good deal given the quality at $12 with a side (I was trying to leave some room for dinner so I got the cucumber salad rather than fries.) Also had a glass of decent pinot noir for $8. Next time, Plan Check, or Morton's after 5pm.

burger and a glass of wine

Looking for some quick suggestions as today is a rare weekday where I'm not working and not around my usual Venice/Santa Monica haunts. Instead I'm running around Culver City, WeHo, BH etc and I'd love to find a place to stop in a couple hours for a great burger and an at least decent glass of wine. So far I've come up with Father's Office in CC and Plan Check Fairfax. Any other suggestions?

Little cocktail wieners

I've purchased the Boars Head ones at various Ralph's in LA. They're typically in the service deli section, not in the case with the Oscar Meyer, Ballpark, etc.

Great Dessert at the Grove Los Angeles

Sorry - I meant to say maybe Monsieur Marcel has a chocolate soufflé. I know that's what you're looking for.

Great Dessert at the Grove Los Angeles

Maybe Monsieur Marcel at the Farmers Market has chocolate mousse? Otherwise Short Cake has some great desserts. And I know I'm not supposed to admit to liking anything at the Cheescake Factory, but they do have a decent chocolate mousse cake.

Once I tasted ___ from a farmer's market, I could never go back to the grocery version.

My literal answer is nothing. Yes, the farmers market versions of berries, tomatoes, asparagus, cauliflower, etc. are all markedly better. But sometimes I just want blueberries in December, so I'll deal with the imported version from Chile.

One thing that did surprise me recently was plain old romaine lettuce. Farmers market version is so much crisper and sweeter, and lasts a long time in the fridge.

Oct 15, 2014
cookie monster in General Topics

group dinner in Brentwood/Westwood area

Budget? Tavern in Brentwood can handle large groups.

Saturday Night Dinner for BFFs in Santa Monica - WHERE TO GO

This Saturday night? Do you want to be able to make a reservation or are you ok with waiting a bit (or more than a bit) for a table?

Need beautiful unique lunch spot for special BD

Same here. I don't eat sushi, or seafood of any kind for that matter, and I would happily celebrate every special occasion with lunch at Nobu Malibu.

Need beautiful unique lunch spot for special BD

You mean Saddle Peak Lodge, I assume? It is beautiful, but it doesn't serve lunch. Dinner and weekend brunch only.

Can't say I agree about the lack of beautiful restaurants in LA. although maybe it depends on one's definitions. I second the vote for Geoffrey's in Malibu. My personal vote for most beautiful goes to Nobu Malibu. Absolutely breathtaking, but not necessarily quiet.

Jiraffe or Josie for Anniversary Dinner this weekend?

Smoked bucatini, gnocchi, fried chicken, any of the vegetables.

Jiraffe or Josie for Anniversary Dinner this weekend?

Not sure where you got that information from, but as AAQjr said Superba Snack Bar on Rose most definitely takes reservations. They may even be on Open Table, although you might have better luck calling. And it's really good, especially the pastas.

Jiraffe or Josie for Anniversary Dinner this weekend?

Superba Snack Bar or Superba Food & Bread? Superba Snack Bar is excellent and slightly more special occasion-like than Food & Bread, and it does take reservations.

Critique my Sonoma wine itinerary please

Agreed. I'm not crazy about the wines, but the tour is really fun and educational.

How to replace Red Medicine as a bar with great food open late

A somewhat difficult order here in early-to-bed LA, especially if the standard is great, rather than pretty good, food. Of course there's the Pacific Dining Cars in downtown and Santa Monica, open 24-7. On the westside, Freddy Smalls (west LA), The Misfit (SM), Chaya Venice, Scopa (Venice) and Hal's (Venice) all have full bars and serve food late, although I would probably check if late means past midnight. Close to your WeHo base, I also like The Churchill, although again (as someone who is rarely up past midnight) I'm not sure how late "late" is, particularly during the week.

DTLA - near Staples

And another vote for Rivera . . .