Vadouvan Chicken Pot Pie

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I never liked chicken pot pie growing up. It’s never been the go-to comfort dish for me. Even to this day friends rave about Marie Callender’s chicken pot pie. Really? In the dish’s defense my first taste of it was probably a frozen version. Perhaps Marie Callender’s.

Unfortunately many food preference hang on that initial encounter. Oh how many edibles have been passed over after a sub par bite. When I was seven I tried mustard for the first time at Disneyland, the kind that comes in a little plastic pouch. The kind that is almost practically glowing yellow. I didn’t eat mustard for a very long time after that. Of course now I am bonkers about mustard. I digress though.

Chicken Pot Pie.

Recently after gobbling down Good Girl Dinette’s delicious curried chicken pot pie I felt motivated to try out my own version at home. I had the last bit of Le Sanctuaire’s vadouvan hangin out lonely style in the freezer. It was calling me.

The vegetables needed a tune up though. Frozen peas? Sure they are great, packed at the greenest and freshest. But with the abundance of seasonal vegetables available I took a more autumnal route. Parsnips, butternut squash, carrots and pearl onions (I cheated and used frozen ones). The pie was missing the pretty green but it wasn’t missed much with the golden warmth of the squash and curry.

The pastry was a basic pie crust with crushed chicken chicharron. Why not? It’s the holidays after all.

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English Pea Soup

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So. Vibrant. Green.

Reminds me of when I attended summer school in the U.K. and how deeply saturated green the scenery was. I really didn’t expect the soup to come out so green. What an invigorating visual pick me up though. English peas were blanched, shocked then blended with homemade vegetable stock. I decorated the surface with Pecorino shards and lemon oil. Simple, straightforward and fresh. Just what beautiful spring produce deserves.

Pork Confit Sandwich

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What better way to celebrate Fourth of July than with great food and friends? I was lucky enough to be invited to Jeni and Dylan’s bbq for some serious eating. If you don’t already know they are a pair of serious cooks and eaters so I had to really think about what dish I was going to contribute to the festivities. I settled on Grilled Pork Confit and turned it into a sandwich using homemade brioche buns, mustard relish, cress and everyone’s favorite, Zuni Cafe pickled red onions.

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Leek Bacon Comte Tart

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This tart came about one cold winter day. I was actually sick during that time and had lost my sense of smell and taste. But instilled with an urge to cook. Perhaps it was all the laying about doing not a single thing.  If I woke up tomorrow minus my ability to taste I would be thrown into turmoil, stripped of life meaning.  How I longed for the aroma of sizzling bacon and leeks cooking in butter. Thank goodness my sickness was only temporary. The day after I made the tart I was fully able to taste again. Hooray. Sweet leeks, nutty comte and smokey bacon topped the homemade Zuni Cafe rough puff pastry. The house smelled absolutely wonderful to everyone’s pleasure.

Holiday Dinner

The rampant holiday eating and cooking continued the day after Christmas. My brother and I hosted a dinner for a few of our friends.

The menu:

no knead bread, preserved lemon butter
roasted walnuts in the shell
chestnuts in warm sage oil, prosciutto
sweetbread nuggets, honey mustard
roasted cauliflower, coriander, paprika, anchovies
merguez corndogs
warm peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, whipped cream

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A Holiday Brunch

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It’s the holidays! Delicious food, drinks and time with loved ones are the best ways to  warm up the chilly hours. I hosted a simple brunch for a few of my friends. The star of the meal was this gloriously tall leek, goat cheese and pancetta quiche. The custard was just perfectly set, silky and jiggly. I used Thomas Keller’s quiche recipe as a blueprint, adopting his call for a two inch tall tart that offers generous bites of luscious custard. The combination of sweet leeks, sharp creamy goat cheese and meaty pancetta was luxurious.

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Mad Men Party

It was my friend Terence’s birthday recently and a fabulous Mad Men party was thrown in his honor by his lady who in turn hired me to cater it. I was excited to do a retro menu and what a hit it was.

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orange elderflower jello shots

Jello used to be a hit back in the days. I made a updated version which is just a fancied up jello shot with orange juice, vodka, elderflower liquer and bitters. I served them up in candy cups and strewn with edible flowers for decoration.

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Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Easy and Quick Hor d’Oeuvres

For this month’s installment of the Foodbuzz 24 event I did a spread of easy and quick hor d’oeuvres. I had some good ingredients in my pantry already so I whipped them up for a lunch with a few good friends.

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Piquillo Peppers, Lemon Oil & Zest, Sherry Vinegar

Piquillo peppers are such a delicious ingredient. They are northern Spanish peppers which are hand-picked, roasted, peeled, seeded and jarred. All the work is done for you beforehand. I seasoned them with lemon oil, sherry vinegar, lemon zest and a pinch of orange-thyme salt.

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Pecorino Bean Crostini, Pickled Zucchini

I’ve made bean crostinis countless times. What can I say? I love them. They are really versatile, inexpensive and of course tasty. This time I added pecorino to the bean puree and paired it with Zuni Cafe’s pickled zucchini. The tangy crunchy pickles were a nice contrast to the creamy bean puree.

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Pickled Cherry Peppers, Tuna, Basil, Pinenuts

I had pickled some cherry peppers recently which were sitting in the fridge unused. They make a perfect hor d’oeuvre base once its top is cut and it’s deseeded. I stuffed them with a salad of tuna, basil and toasted pinenuts. I used imported Spanish tuna which is higher quality and more delicious than the domestic stuff. The cherry peppers had a pleasant kick of spiciness.

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Crostni with Dry Rubbed Home-Cured Bacon, Crescenza Cheese

I made a simple mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar and black pepper and rubbed this over thick-cut home-cured bacon and let it marinade overnight. After baking them off in the oven I combined it with creamy Bellwether Farm’s Crescenza cheese on a crostini. Needless to say these were very popular. Even all the leftover bacon was polished off. Easy and quick hor d’oeuvres, always a pleasure to host with.

Green Bean & Sungold Tomato Salad with Mustard Seeds, Marjoram

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If a salad could convey summer, this salad must be it. Barely cooked green beans and sungold tomatoes tossed in a red wine vinaigrette. Seasoned and flecked with crunchy toasted mustard seeds and fresh marjoram with its intoxicating scent. A wonderful combination of flavors and texture. Juicy and crunchy, sweet and herbal, tart and nutty. Sure, it’s almost Halloween, but rest assured this being LA you probably can still make a summer’s salad to satisfy your vegetable needs.

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