4.28.2010

Wanderlust


I’ve changed my mind again (surprise). I know I had mentioned recently being a little distracted one day and then saying I had grounded myself the next. Now I think I’m still out there a little bit. I’m a little spirally.

The latest incarnation of my springy-spirallyness is a major case of wanderlust. It’s not just that I feel an overwhelming desire to travel, it’s also that I can’t stay still. I don’t want to be home for very long and, every time I get into my car, I just want to keep driving. I’ve even been inventing errands and taking longer routes to get to my destinations. In this town?! I must be out of my mind.

Clearly all of my errands have been accomplished. I even made a trip to the dry cleaners to drop off one (1) item. I have told my friends that live in, say, Watts, Venice or Long Beach, that I’d be happy to leave my canyon to visit them. I’m not surprised, but I’m pretty sure they think I’m joking as none have taken me up on the offer.

It’s true, I don’t get to travel very much. Not in the past 5 or 6 years at least. But it has never really mattered to me before. I’m a nester. I always love being close to home. In fact I actually hate packing so very, very much that it practically inhibits my urge to travel. But I think I’d hop on a plane, train or automobile in a hot second and take off anywhere right now. So what is going on?

Perhaps it is simply time. Perhaps the last 5 or 6 years has caught up with me. Perhaps I am looking for something.


One result of this wanderlust has been going out to eat. Going out to drink. Going out. And a direct result of the going out has provided me with the emptiest refrigerator I’ve ever had. Seriously, here’s the entirety of what’s going on in there:

7 eggs (which may be bad)
The better part of a package of bacon (which I think is still okay)
Most of a bulb of fennel (I really need to toss that)
An individual yogurt left over from my dad’s visit (still good)
Milk (for coffee)
Part of a wedge of Parmesan (obviously fine)
A package of crème fraiche (must use, post haste)
2 beers (1 from Dad’s visit & 1 from Doug stopping by recently. I don't even drink beer.)
Condiments

On the counter I have various onions, shallots, garlic and potatoes – most of which need to get used immediamente as well. At this point, they may even be doing Fantasia-esque dancing in the kitchen whilst I sleep.

So, this afternoon, being so busy with work-related things that have strapped me to the homestead, I took stock and realized I needed to: (1) try to save as much of the food as possible; and (2) get my arse moving in the kitchen.

Potato salad is springy, it’s even summery. Potato salad elicits memories of home and coziness and also of being outside, being in the sunshiney shine, being with friends. But really, being anywhere and everywhere.


Potato Salad with Crème Fraiche, Mint & Basil

Serves 6

1 lb. Baby Russet Potatoes
¾ cup crème fraiche
2 tbsp grainy mustard
1 large shallot, diced
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 large sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
6-8 large leaves of fresh basil, chiffonade
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, and chop.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, crème fraiche, mustard, shallot, vinegar, mint, basil salt and pepper. Mix together well and refrigerate until chilled.

4.24.2010

Let's Talk About Text, Baby.



I have rules about almost everything. None of them are really very important. No tank tops on men, no skinny jeans on anyone, don’t end a sentence with a preposition, and please don’t say “a whole nother” – nother is not a word. Vanity plates = bad. I don’t like being on speakerphone (does anyone?). And if I call you, call back, don’t text back. And in the realm of texting: no emoticons, no LOL or BRB, etc. I am only now able to tolerate the XOXO.

It never takes me too long to embrace gadgets and new forms of communication. I was a little slow with emails at first. I enjoyed the Instant Messaging on the computer, briefly. I've never been down with the webcam, but I Tweet. And while, as mentioned above, I prefer someone to respond to my communiqué in kind, I have really embraced the text message over the past few years.

It has never been, however, the primary or sole venue of communication between myself and anyone else. Until very recently, that is.

I have a friend with whom I have never spoken on the phone. We do speak with our voices when we are face to face – which is rare. We have emailed once or twice to send a larger file of some kind. But 99.9% of the time we text. And through this texting we have shared and discovered an enormous amount about one another, and perhaps ourselves. It’s quite interesting, actually – like a new form of the pen pal.

It is also a fascinating way to learn about someone, which we rarely do these days, how they write – even in such a casual context. I, for one, feel that I text the way I speak (perhaps slightly less verbosely, of course). But everyone has their text voice.

Tone is often something that can get greatly misunderstood in text-land. A lot of my friends use an abundance of exclamation points to ensure they don’t appear terse. There is a lot of "Yay!" and "Of course!" that goes on with my girlfriends. Sarcasm is often lost in text-land (which may be why some people feel the need to insert that pesky “winky” emoticon). Me - I still try to find the right words for my sarcasm, which often doesn’t work, and I get a snippy reply – with a “frowny” emoticon. Oh, well. I said I have rules.






Of course, my rules extend into the culinary world as well. So, I have recently been noting the things that occur while dining out that are just not okay with me:


1. In the realm of servers and staff: it’s a fine line, I realize, but know when to be there or when to stay away. I am there to enjoy my food with my friends. I don’t need an army of people wiping a lone crumb off the table or adding a teaspoon of water to my glass at all times, interrupting the conversation and the enjoyment of the food and wine. That being said - please know when my wine glass is almost empty, and please don’t make me wait 38 years before bothering to take my order.

2. On the water tip: Do not lead the diner with, “Bottled, sparkling or just tap?” That is condescending and makes the diner feel like a simpleton for wanting tap water. We all know either is just fine.

3. DO NOT clear a plate from the table unless everyone in the party has finished their course. Rude. Rude. Rude.

4. There are so many wines that are absolutely delicious, complex and inexpensive these days. We know that restaurants make most of their money on the booze, but Good Lord, there is no reason not to have a selection of reasonable wines in the $50 and under category.
  
5. I don’t care if you are the fanciest chef with the fanciest restaurant. Provide salt and pepper for your diners. Or, at least, don’t give them the stink-eye if they request it. Everyone’s palates are different and there is just no need for the pretense in assuming someone is trashing the food by sprinkling a dash of sea salt or cracked pepper on it. And I always taste the food first.


I clearly have more peeves to share, but I thought it best to leave it at my current top 5. Please feel free to share yours in the comment section.

By the way, I admittedly am guilty of a major diner’s no-no: often, one may see me texting at the dinner table. I know. It’s really horrible. Perhaps even worse than using an emoticon… 



4.20.2010

30. EatPhamish


It’s been a little bit since I’ve written, I know. I have been on a tear of eating out, actually, but as it was a result of my dad visiting, I have been unavailable to share it all lately. One of our dining experiences, however, was, of course, a food truck. It was Dad’s first food LA food truck experience. And it was a good one.

Last Thursday we pulled up along Miracle Mile to scope out our options of which there were many. After some discussion, he decided he wanted to try the Dogtown Dog truck AND Eatphamish. I had eaten at the Dogtown truck previously with little fanfare, but he’s a huge hot dog fan. So we agreed to split a dog and then grab a couple of banh mis down the block at Eatphamish.

I have to say, I am so glad I gave the Dogtown truck another day in court as we were both very impressed with our dog! We ordered the Trailer Trash Dog (all beef snap dog topped with hearty chili and crumbled Frito’s - $6). While neither of us recognized much of the promised snap in our dog, we both agreed that it was great: big and bold. The chili was great and the Frito’s added a fantastic crunch – they really made the whole thing. So, kudos, guys. I’ll be back.


After our dog we ambled down the block to check out Eatphamish’s menu. Now, I had actually checked them out about a week or so prior to this but I only ordered the grilled steak spring rolls (served with lettuce, cucumber, pickled carrots & daikon, bean sprouts, fresh basil and mint in a rice paper wrap - $6 for 2), and didn’t think it was enough to report on. The spring rolls were chubby and ginormous, and the steak was grilled nicely and was quite tasty. But I really only tasted the meat and not much of the vegetables. I will add that they were not very tightly rolled. I also was not a fan of the dipping sauce. It was a little too sweet for my taste and I missed the peanuts. Lastly, the fact that they were just as expensive, if not more, than the banh mis, was very odd. They should make them smaller and cheaper.


But last week with Dad, I tried their banh mi. I ordered the grilled steak banh mi and he ordered the grilled lemongrass pork banh mi, and my buddy, Doug, ordered the lemongrass chicken banh mi (12” baguettes served with garlic mayo, pickled carrots & daikon, cilantro, jalapeños and a dash of soy sauce - $7, $5 & $5, respectively).  It was a banh mi festival. And it was delicious. 


Lisa Le, the chef of EatPhamish, gets the wonderful baguettes from a Vietnamese bakery in Alhambra fresh every morning. I loved the creative addition of the garlic mayo and jalapeños. It’s so interesting how an imposing 12” sandwich is actually so light and fresh and easy to finish off (if one doesn’t eat a chili dog beforehand). I preferred my steak to Dad’s pork. I thought its marinade complimented the garlic mayo perfectly and the occasional splash of cilantro cut through the peppers - a sprightly surprise on the palate. And unlike the spring rolls, I thought the ratio of meat to veggies was spot on.


The prices were right, the food came out at a fairly good speed and this sandwich is tidy and ideal to eat on the go. I very much doubt I will return to order the pho. I simply cannot imagine how I would eat a large bowl of steaming soup on the side of the road. That, and my lukewarm feelings about the spring rolls aside, I will certainly return for their exceptional banh mi.

4.09.2010

Aaahhhhh, the French: Ludobites 4.0.

I've been wanting to use that title for some time now. Here's why.


Ludobites 4.0 is here and everyone is all aflutter. And guess what? I’ve got the inside dish for you. But first, a splash of back story…

As many of you know, prior to the Ludobites concept, Chef Ludo Lefebvre earned his chops as executive chef at L’Orangerie and Bastide. But in the Fall of 2007, he tossed aside the concept of the brick and mortar establishment with reckless abandon and introduced LA to a 4-month special, guerilla style, dining event, thusly called Ludobites. It was such the to do that Jonathan Gold said procuring a seat was “harder than getting into UCLA film school.” Then there was Ludobites at Breadbar in 2009 followed by Ludobites at Royal T, which sold out a day after being announced. He popped up with a fried chicken truck at the LA Street Food Fair a few months back, and most recently fried up some chicken with Eric Greenspan at The Foundry in a most spontaneous way. Bing. Bang. Bop.

Now, here we are with Ludobites 4.0 at downtown’s Gram & Papa’s: a 2-month stint sold out entirely a mere 18 hours after being announced.

And I am such a charmed girl. Wednesday night I was among the lucky dozen bloggers to be invited to a special 9 course tasting menu/preview dinner of said stint sponsored by Fooddigger. The real deal opened just last night. Jealous much?

This was an interesting evening. A lot of us bloggers recognize one another by our written word but remain faceless for the most part. However, Wednesday night 12 of us were revealed to one another. Our personalities had to stand for themselves – which can be scary when you are accustomed to saying whatever you want under the shield of your moniker. 

The table. 

  The lightbox Krissy supplied for us to shoot the food - which perhaps I should have taken advantage of.

Everyone had a camera (even the LA Times was there with theirs) and no one was afraid to use them. In fact, it was food paparazzi. It was quite freeing, actually. Often, us bloggers feel as though we must wear a hair-shirt for using our cameras in restaurants, pressure exerted by both our dining companions and the restaurant staff. Here, however, cameras were very much welcomed. In fact, that was the whole point.

After a few glasses of champagne, provided by Jill of Domaine LA (who did all of the pairings which were extraordinary), we were seated in front of our place settings inscribed with only our first names and blog titles. I love it.

Our first course was the Tartine Plate of 3 Fat textures. We were each given a small baguette to accompany the textures which included whipped lard with lavendar, clarified butter with Chablis and emulsified brown butter. This was paired with a beautiful Cremant. I loved all three of my fat textures. It seemed the gang was mostly geeking out about the lavendar lard but my vote was with the clarified butter with Chablis. So far, I’m really excited.


Then I turn around to gawk into the open kitchen, right behind my back, and I see a sea of vibrant strips of orange. Carrots. Beautiful carrots. This brings us to the Carrot Salad, Saffron Anglaise Cream, Pearl Onions, Citrus, and Mustard Powder. This was paired PERFECTLY with a California Rosé. Oh my word. The carrots were prepared two ways, gastrovac’d and marinated with orange blossom water, and somewhat carmelized with a blowtorch. There was saffron cream. There was a little heaven. This was exceptionally fresh and inspired. It was also aesthetically jumping off of the plate into my eyes. Honestly, I was starting to freak out a little bit at this point. I was perfectly happy at the moment I was in, but COULD NOT WAIT for the next moment. The next dish. I felt like a little kid at the amusement park. I was having so much fun on the Rebel Yell, but couldn’t wait to ride the Grizzly Bear.


Course number three was the Egg, Potato Mousseline, Lobster, Borage Flower. I will try to keep it together here. I will try to be succinct. This was lobster sashimi lining the bottom of the dish, topped with a perfectly poached egg, topped with a delicate and creamy potato mousse, topped with 4 perfect borage flowers. Now, I know I have a penchant for drama, but this may be one of the most spectacular and perfect things that has ever graced my palate. After my second bite my chest felt tight and I thought a tear might well up in my eye. I’m quite serious. Everyone at the table was silent for the 38 seconds we spent scarfing it down. My fellow blogger, Tze, literally licked hers clean (see picture). This was paired with an heirloom white from California.

Literally, licked clean.

I couldn’t imagine what could possibly follow that, and then, I looked down and there it was… the famed Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur, Lemon Turnip Chutney. The gasps across the table could be heard across downtown. Delicately placed between two slices of bread, dyed with squid ink, was a heaping portion of exquisite foie gras, ham and cheese. It was served along side a dollop of chutney comprised of lemon, turnip and seaweed. Its acidity and tartness provided a pleasant kick to cleanse the coating of the Croque and prepare you for your next bite. This was actually paired with a sparkling cider, which normally I would poo poo in a New York minute. But nothing was escaping the realm of possibility for me on this night. And guess what? It worked beautifully!


Four courses in and I was feeling like standing on a grassy mountain top, swirling around with arms out, singing about the hills being alive.

Next up, we had the beautiful and colorful Burgundy Escargots, Garlic Flan, Green Jus, Yellow Flowers. Perhaps it was its placement in the lineup, but this was too much for me, which is unusual for me to ever say. It was too rich, way too rich. There were 4 escargots, but I could only eat 2. The 2 I ate were a little over cooked in my humble opinion. Upon further thought, this dish would be ideal as an amuse-bouche: just one perfect little bite of decadence that can be as rich as it wants to be. It was paired with a Spanish Benaza Godello, which I found to be the only pairing that didn’t quite work. I think a Sancerre or a white Bordeaux would have been more appropriate.


The next dish, Columbian River King Salmon Confit, Spring Cabbage, Orange Skin & Juniper Berries, left me a little lost. I should say that I’m not a huge fan of cooked salmon in the first place. This however was beautifully cooked at 85 degrees, and the skin (I always love the skin) was cooked to crispy perfection. While I enjoyed the bites of salmon with the juniper berry sauce, the cabbage and the agar held no intrigue or appeal for me.


The two somewhat lukewarm reactions prior were more than made up for in Ludo’s next, and final, savory course: Poached Jidori Chicken, Crispy Skin with Hazelnuts, Garden Vegetables, Bacon Royalé. My lord, I only wish I wasn’t getting so insanely full. I think I was already commenting to Will, from Fooddigger, about needing a wheelbarrow to cart me away at the end of the affair. I find it so interesting that chicken is usually the dish no one would dare order in a fine restaurant, yet Ludo thrives on it and constantly recreates our definition of it. 

 
This was like a Dadaist chicken dinner. The chicken had been rolled and poached, topped with its own skin and hazelnuts, and was moist and delicate. The bacon royalé was a tiny, savory bacon custard. All of this came with a portion of fresh, pickled leeks and English peas. Flavors, textures and colors danced together beautifully on both the plate and in my mouth.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have not mentioned the pairings for the last couple of courses. While I will say that they were all dynamic and well thought out, at this point in the evening I was so overwhelmed with flavors and stimuli, I guess I stopped being able to even understand the wine if I was to understand the food. I hope that makes sense.

And here we move on to the first dessert course, Brie Chantilly Napoleon, Honey Comb, Balsamic, Frisée Salad. I’m not much of a dessert person but this mother blew me away. This could perhaps be because it was more of a savory dessert. Brie, removed of its rind, then whipped for over 2 ½ hours by hand. Wow. Put that buttery cheese bite in your mouth with a little honeycomb and a teardrop of balsamic. You see what I mean? Ambrosia. The calm in the eye of the storm, wife of Ludo, and her own powerhouse, Krissy, added that this is her favoritest thing her sweet husband makes for her. Lucky lady.


Lastly, Ludo, as though he wasn’t French enough that night, provided us with our own personal mountain of chocolate. This was the Dark Chocolate Soufflé, Black Pepper Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, Chocolate Cream. The soufflé was warm, light, chocolatey, and ginormous. I enjoyed the surprising kick and depth the pepper ice cream added to the bites of the soufflé. This pairing I do recall as it was divine: a 2003 Pietre-Geraud Banyuls, Cuvée Méditerranée from France. I strongly suggest you all run to Domaine LA and ask Jill about this, post haste.


And so. Ludo has morphed yet again. Gone are the fusions. Now we have his classic twist on French cuisine. This menu is beguiling, arresting, elegant, artistic and absolutely delicious. But don’t get attached to anything you’ve read here or any version of the menu you’ve seen. After our meal, Ludo chatted with us and explained that it was very likely that two weeks into Ludobites 4.0 he would get restless and have that compulsion to push the envelope yet again and change everything up. 


I believe it was Dashiell Hammett who once said something like, The moment it is discovered that you have a style, you are doomed." It would seem our Ludo is far from that fate.

I would like to thank Ludo, Krissy, Fooddigger, Jill at Domaine LA and my fellow bloggers for a rare and special evening, and perhaps one of the best meals I have ever had.

Here is our menu from Wednesday, complete with pairings.

Ludo Bites 4.0 at Gram and Papa's in Los Angeles

4.06.2010

Take Me Out To the Ball Game.


Things are making more sense now. Or, perhaps, I am making more sense of things now. Or, perhaps, I am feeling more sensible now. Maybe yesterday’s earthquake shook me back to my overly organized self. For this, I am relieved. I accomplished all of my Monday paperwork and tedium before noon, then ran errands, did laundry, and even made my bed (which I never do). Captivating stuff, right?

I’m also very excited that today is opening day of baseball season. Yes, it's true, I love baseball. I actually went to a game this past Saturday. I have always loved baseball but it got pretty serious about 10 or so years ago in Atlanta. I dated a major Braves fan. It all made sense at the time. I grew up in Richmond, VA, which was home to the farm team for the Atlanta Braves, aptly called the Richmond Braves. If you showed up after the 4th inning you’d be let in for free. My friend Sam and I would go all the time when we were in high school. And, of course, Dad took me to games as a kid. The Richmond Braves have since been sold. Richmond's farm team is now called the Flying Squirrels. Don't even get me started...

Anyway, at the time, Mark, the Atlanta Braves fan, still collected baseball cards, went to games by himself, kept score at the games (which is quite a process if you are familiar with what I'm talking about), and even listened to them on the radio. He taught me more than I ever thought I wanted to know about the sport. I recall an entire inning being spent with him explaining the intricacies of the balk rule. You’d be surprised, but this endeared me to him enormously.

Chipper Jones (Braves) at bat and Paul LoDuca (Dodgers) catcher. Circa 2002. Mark gets photo credit (shot through his binoculars).

Many moons have passed since Mark and I went our separate ways, but I still keep up with the sport (as, I’m sure, does he). I still love the Braves, but am also a Dodgers fan now. I don’t really listen to games on the radio, or watch much of them on TV (depends on the game), but I just love going to them. The smell of the stadium, the energy in the air, the complete melting pot of cultures, classes and ages, the spirit, the Americana, the hot dogs, peanuts and beer. Interestingly, this is one of the very few occasions during which I will drink beer. Or wear a baseball hat. Or hat of any kind, for that matter.

With the nostalgia brought on by the familiarity of what I associate to be the onslaught of all things Summer, my thoughts are brought back to the kitchen - or in this case, the grill.

A while back Chris found a recipe in The Week illustrating how to prepare the perfect steakhouse steak. You know, with the super crusty outside? We loved it and cooked it on both a grill pan and the grill with equal success.

There’s something about the sights, smells and sounds of the promise of Summer:  the clanking of the spoon against the glass stirring the pitcher of lemonade, the smell of fresh cut grass, cicadas chirping at sunset, picnics on red checkered blankets, a late-afternoon thunderstorm and the smell of the charcoal grill wafting down the streets of the neighborhood.

This steak has all of these things wrapped up in each stage of preparation: the smells and sounds of the meat searing and every bite breaking through the crusty exterior into the tender, medium-rare meat. The perfect steak. It really just can’t be beat.

So tonight, as I applaud the Braves 16-5 win over the Cubs and mourn the impending loss by the Dodgers to the Pirates, with comfort and calm in my soul, I sparked up the old grill for the first time in months and cooked me up a steak.



The Perfect Steak

Ingredients

1  14- to 16-ounce New York strip steak (about 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions

Pat steaks dry with paper towel and rub in salt, pepper and cornstarch.

Wrap steak in wax paper and put in freezer for 30-45 minutes (until a bit hard on the outside but not completely frozen).

Grill steaks on very high heat 4-6 minutes on each side. Douse a little Worcestershire sauce on while grilling.

Plate and serve.

4.01.2010

All Lost in the Supermarket.


It seems like it has been a while since I’ve written. Has it? Maybe not. I feel like my sense of time is a little warped right now. Why? I don’t know. The days and weeks are whipping past me at lightning fast speed. Yet the days are theoretically longer now. I think I’m just distracted.

Spring is being so springy right now. It makes me want to be springy, too. I want to play. I want to fly. I am enjoying my distractions. I am still accomplishing what needs to be done, so it should be fine that I’m distractedly springy, right? But, admittedly, I feel guilty. I have not been swimming in food thoughts as much as I’d like, and this is unusual.

I actually haven’t really even cooked in about a week. I don’t feel like I’ve been eating out an unusual amount. Hell, am I eating? This, to me, seems to be a bit strange. Is Mercury in retrograde or something?

Am I escaping something? Am I running towards something? I’m not sure. I imagine it will all figure itself out. I will focus.

Chris came over last night to do his laundry and have dinner. We do this every couple of weeks. So I ran to the store, with nary a recipe in mind, to find inspirato. Interestingly, my shopping was also distractedly springy and unfocused. I bought a bunch of random things hoping some meal concept would jump out at me. I knew I wanted to make something lighter, springier than usual: fish. The trout looked fresh and beautiful, so I bought that. Then I picked up, among other things, a bulb of fennel, a shallot, some green grapes - something was coming together in my head, but only very vaguely. Then, I remembered Chris’ various steamed mussels recipes he has prepared for us in the past and wanted those as well. So I ran back over to the fish counter again. All very disorganized, I know.

When I arrived home, I rifled through the refrigerator to find a bounty of Crimini mushrooms. So I decided to make a soup. Now why, I wonder, did I decide to do that? I just bought a mountain of seafood. See what I mean? Scattered, scattered, scattered.

But it was a good thing to do. Perhaps I was trying to get my footing back in the kitchen by making something I am so comfortable with. And while I made my soup I concentrated on how I was going to put together dinner.

We had steamed mussels in white wine and garlic with crusty, French bread as an appetizer. For the main course I decided to very loosely adapt Suzanne Goin’s grilled pancetta-wrapped trout with verjus, crushed grapes, and fennel gratin. Except I didn’t wrap the trout in pancetta, grill it or use verjus. I served this all with a side of bacon-wrapped asparagus.


I went at this meal strangely. I didn’t really refer to her recipe, except to get the broadest concept of ingredients. And I didn’t exactly adhere to those either. I would say I primarily maintained some of the basic flavor combinations. In the end I was happy with the way everything turned out. Chris absolutely loved the fennel gratin but we both decided it was more of a hash than a gratin. He wasn’t wild about the fish. He was surprised that I would ever use fruit, moreover cooked fruit, in a savory dish and found it to be too sweet for his taste. Shockingly, I really liked it.

It was a nice meal that I was perfectly pleased with. However, it was unlike anything I usually serve and unlike any way I usually go about preparing a meal. I think it’s tremendously interesting that whatever orbit I am in right now came through in every facet of this meal and its composition.

What I will share with you here is the fennel hash recipe. It was great with the fish, but would be equally appropriate with a grilled skirt steak or a roasted chicken.


Potato Fennel Hash

Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tbsp chopped fennel fronds
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh thyme
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
3/4 lb fingerling potatoes, boiled and drained
½ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Trim the root end of the fennel, cut the stalks off where they meet the bulb, and peel off any outer layers that are brown or bruised. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise, leaving the core intact. Place the halves, cut side down, on a cutting board, and slice the fennel thinly lengthwise.

Toss the fennel in a large bowl with the shallot, thyme, bay leaf, fennel fronds, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet until it is very hot and then toss in the fennel mixture. Once the mixture is tender and somewhat translucent (about 10 minutes), toss in the potatoes, and smash them up a bit with a potato masher. Add lemon and stir everything together for about 5 minutes and add cream.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until golden and slightly crispy on top.

Top with parsley and serve.