Gourmet Junkies

January 28, 2010

An Apple A Day is The Best Dessert in The City!!!!

My foodie partner in crime, we will call him “Shpilkes”, and for those of you who don’t know what that means, well, it means someone who is anxious or on pins and needles, and he is ALWAYS anxious for (or worried about)  something good to eat!  Turrets (and I spelled it wrong on purpose) , of course means someone who has a condition that creates a tic or repetitive behavior.  Therefore, Turrets and Shpilkes kind of embodies the chronic foodie:  ANXIOUS for the next meal and wanting to REPEAT going out for a good (or, unfortunately maybe bad) meal.  Maybe I should have called this Shpilkes and Turrets, but it just didn’t sound right, so live with it.  So where was I?  Oh! Yes! Shpilkes and I decided to visit one of our favorite places, “BLD” (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) on Beverly Blvd. and have the Charcuterie Platter and a smart cocktail, however, in retrospect I really should have had a reeeeaaalllly good glass of red wine.  Oh well, I had a rough day and opted for a Martini…. and it was good.

“BLD” is one of Neal Fraiser (Grace Restaurant) and Richard Draper’s group of eateries and one of my favorite “comfort zone” restaurants.  Sitting at the bar with a big, fat marble platter of “my choice” cheeses and meats, served with toasted baguette, raisin walnut bread, quince and marcona almonds, is a perfect way to end the day.  So….. Shpilkes came over after painting all day and said, “Wanna go to BLD?”  Uh, DUH!  Off we went, not expecting anything unexpected, but Oh. My. God.  got SUCH a big surprise!

Now, just let me say this… I am not a sugar person.  Okay, okay, I know some of you are and cannot FATHOM not eating dessert, but it just isn’t my thing.  And THAT is really weird considering my brother once saved my life when I was going after the Cookie Jar, having made a “ladder” out of the open drawers leading up to the kitchen counter,  only to have him catch me before I fell, cookie jar in hand.  Maybe I just got over “sugar” after that.  BUT….I do love apples.

We finished our charcuterie platter, drank our Martini’s (damn… should have had the Shiraz or a good Cab!!!) and this cute young thing came up to us and said, “How about a little dessert?”  “No, no” we said.  She said, “Have you tried our Caramel Apples?”  SAY WHAT?  “No”, we said.  “Well, you are missing out if you haven’t had them!” (the girl is a GOOD salesperson!)  “So, What is so special about the apples?” we asked.  “Ahhhh….. You just HAVE to taste them and then you will know”, she said with authority in her voice. I suspected she had tasted them MANY times.  Glance to one another….. “Bring it on!”  we said.

OH. MY. GOD.  I’m done.  Gone to Heaven. Junk in the Trunk doesn’t matter AT ALL! I want to stick my FACE into these “Apples” and stay there!!!!  The title of this piece is: The Best Dessert in the City” and I MEAN it!  We are served another one of those cool little marble platters with 3 mini Empire Apples, with sticks coming out of the core.  The apples are dipped and literally swimming in the most delicious, creamy caramel and propped up on the edge of the marble platter.  Trailing down from the apples onto the platter are three “lines” of SUGAR based “toppings”.  But, I’m in another world by now because I know this is going to be better than the  missed Shiraz or Cab. I’m about to dive into pork-dom and don’t care one little bit.

The “lines” of sugar are: Crushed Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chopped toasted pecans and Chocolate Sprinkles.  What is happening here? I’m off on a sugar-trip and loving every bite.  Yummy, yummy, yummy.  Shpilkes and I are looking at one another, our eyes glazed over, scarfing up this very unique and delicious dessert.  Oh my… what fun!   CARAMEL APPLES FOR ADULTS!!  You’ve gotta try these…..

Okay, I can’t top this one, so I’m just going to give you the recipe, courtesy of Mariah Swan, Pastry Chef at BLD for “Those Apples”

For the Caramel:

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 tsp. corn syrup

1/3 cup cream

2 T. apple cider vinegar

1. In a clean saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Make sure the sides of the pan are clean and free of any sugar.

2. Place over high heat and cook until the mixture turns a medium amber color. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the cream. Be careful as the caramel will bubble up and spit a little as the cream is added.

3. Turn the heat to medium and place the saucepan back on the burner. Whisk in the vinegar and stir until it is creamy and well blended.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To Dip the Apples: Per 2-3 servings:

3 mini apples (BLD uses mini Empire apples.  Use your favorite crisp, tart apple, but keep them small)

3 lollipop sticks or caramel apple sticks

Toppings: (chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chip cookie crumbs, chopped toasted pecans, chopped English Toffee, graham cracker crumbs, chopped peanuts, etc.) Use any choice of 3 toppings.

1. Firmly place the stick into th bottom end of the apples. Dip the apples into the cooled caramel 3-4 times to generously coat.  Rollin topping of your choice.

As I mentioned, BLD serves these puppies on a marble slab with the toppings spread across the surface.  We would take a bite with one topping and then go for another.  Great way to serve!

BLD Restaurant
<a href="BLD on Urbanspoon“>

Advertisements

January 19, 2010

Come to my "House"

Filed under: Uncategorized — Deb @ 23:05

I’ve been in the foodie biz for a long time.  Former restaurant owner, cooking school instructor, spokesperson for some big food/liquor companies and so I think I know a little about food, presentation and how to treat your customers.  That is why I decided to become a quasi food critic.  Warning: I can be a bit irreverent…. but fun.

First off: you will never know when I visit your restaurant or decide to do a review, so don’t try and bowl me over with your “best” day’s service or food.  Just be the best you imagine you can be and I will either like it or not.  Since the food scene has become such a “celebrity chef” scene, a lot of people out there equate good food with “celebrity”.  well, guess what?  It isn’t always so.  Take for example the new Bruce Marder digs “House” on Beverly Blvd. in LA.  Now, Bruce has had some pretty interesting places including the vastly overpriced “Capo”, the clubby “Brentwood”,  breakfast-y “Cora’s” and “The Broadway Deli”.  Of these, my favorite has been Brentwood  because he kept the food exactly what it should be, clubby and comfortable.

Now I do know that Bruce doesn’t go out seeking celebrity, but he is a bit of an institution in this town.  The fact that he isn’t a very polished maitre ‘d (to the point of being a bit weird and sullen) doesn’t help when you are greeted at the door by this “institution”.  I suppose I expected something or someone a little more engaging and polite, but oh well.

Which brings me to our dinner at his new “House” Restaurant.  Situated in the old Pastis location at 8114 Beverly Blvd, House is a combination of flea market finds and posters with a little patio in front.  It kind of looks like a House, which, I’m sure, was the intent.  But, it lacks something. At the bottom of the menu decorating credits were shared by Bruce Marder (really?) and Dean Singer, a well-known designer/architect.  I would bet that Singer wanted more to do with it, however Marder was quick to say that he did most of the interior design.  Singer must have laid it all out leaving Bruce to his own devices. I’m not sure what he was trying to convey, but it is sweet and simple, woodsy and non-discript and I’m sure there are those who don’t even look at the decor, but I do.  I love places that make me feel like I’d like to LIVE there, you know what I mean?  Places that give you a feeling of sheer comfort, like when you go to a good  hotel and the bed is just PERFECT with the cushy comforter and down pillows… that kind of comfort.  I also like hot, lively places so don’t take me for some old fogey, okay?

Dinner: Wellllllllll…… again, maybe my expectations were a little too high. We ordered a glass of wine from the generous wine-by-the-glass menu and started to discuss the various dishes.  It is a little bit comfort food, a little bit Moroccan and a little bit bistro, the menu encompassing breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We decided on the Grilled Artichokes, Meatloaf and  the Filet of Sole.  Bruce, you need my recipe for Grilled Artichokes.  Yours were very average, served with Horseradish Mayo. Horseradish??  Even Culinary Artistry doesn’t list horseradish as a match to Grilled Artichokes!! At the end of this article, you all will find the recipe he should have put on the menu….Grilled Artichokes with Truffled Mayonnaise.

Now on to the meatloaf. Oh dear. Bruce, Bruce, Bruce…what are you thinking?? Have  you tasted this?? Meatloaf should not have the consistency of rubber!  It was so rubbery and tasteless that I’m going to  give you a new recipe for this, as well.  Swimming in a pool of an unctuous tomato-y sauce, I couldn’t help be wonder who was in the kitchen that night and did they overdose on the egg content of the “meatloaf”.  I do have to say the mashed potatoes that came with were silky, soft, perfectly seasoned and very delicious.  so at least 1/2 of the meal was yummy. Here’s the deal on Meatloaf:  it should be almost falling apart, but not.  It should be moist. It should never scream “I have eggs in me” and it should be served with homemade ketchup. Period.

The Sole was pretty good.  Perfectly cooked and simple in it’s seasoning.  The accompanying Roasted Potatoes, however were crispy on the  outside (a very good sign), but dry as a bone on the inside.  Another disappointment since Roasted Potatoes rank up there with sex as far as I’m concerned.  Maybe he should have tried to roast small red new potatoes in a 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, removed them, smashed them and then plunged them into very hot fat for a few seconds to crisp them.  This leaves the centers creamy and soft while the outside “smashed” potato takes on a crunchy crispness.  Sprinkled with a bit of sea salt and Truffle dust, and you have a DISH!

Okay, so I’m kinda blasting this new place of his, but I will go back, hoping that my next choices will be more satisfying and that I’m greeted by a warm, engaging person who will make me feel like I want to stay and linger over good food, conversation and good wine.  After all, Bruce Marder IS an institution.

Grilled Artichokes

4 large artichokes, rinsed, top third removed, leaves trimmed

3 T. salt

2 lemons, cut into 1/4’s

1 cup olive oil

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

2 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 T. Italian parsley

1 tsp. chopped chervil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Lemon Truffle Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

1. Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water. Add the salt and bring to a boil.  Rub the artichokes with lemon. Add the lemons to the boiling water along with the artichokes, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender when a knife can be inserted into the choke easily or an outer leaf pulls off easily.  Drain upsidedown on paper towels and cool

Cut the artichokes in 1/4’s and remove the hairy choke and prickly purple leaves.

While the artichokes are cooking, in a bowl combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, shallots, parsley, chervil, salt and pepper. Place artichokes in a large plastic bag, pour in the marinade, squeeze out all the air and marinate 2-6 hours.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high  Remove the artichokes from the marinade and grill, turning occasionally  until slightly charred on the edges and warmed through.  Place on a platter and serve with Truffled Mayonnaise

Truffled Mayonnaise

1 Lemon, cut in half and grilled  until charred

1 cup mayonnaise

1 T. good quality truffle oil

Squeeze the lemon juice into the mayonnaise and stir. Add the truffle oil and blend well.  Refrigerate until serving.

Meatloaf

2 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork or sausage

2 large onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

3 T. A-1 sauce

3 T. ketchup

2 T. Dijon mustard

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup finely minced walnuts

2 eggs, beaten

Place everything in a big bowl and mix with clean hands until very well blended.

Place into a loaf pan or pat into a loaf form.  Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees.  Let rest for 5 minutes and then pour off any accumulated grease.  Unmold and slice into 1 inch slices. Serve with mashed potatoes.

there you have it… this also makes a mean sandwich the next day.  Slather a baguette or Ciabiatta with mayonnaise flavored with Chipoltle seasoning.  Slice the meatloaf and place on the bread along with grilled onions and butter lettuce.  EAT!!

Blog at WordPress.com.