Sunday, December 6, 2009

braised leeks à la goin

if you know me, you know i'm a huge Suzanne Goin fan. actually, if you follow this blog, you know this as well. i've raved about her and her food before here and here. oh! and here too! not only do i enjoy dining at her LA restaurants, i enjoy making recipes from her cookbook as well.

i recently dined at her newest restaurant, Tavern in Brentwood. and in typical Goin fashion (french-mediterranean fare made with fresh and local california ingredients), the food was scrumptious. one dish i loved in particular was her Devil's Chicken. dijon mustard seasoned chicken thighs covered in breadcrumbs served on top of the most tasty and savory braised leeks ever. it was a party of flavors in my mouth! and with the recipe in her book, i was every excited to make it at home.

the recipe for the Devil's Chicken is actually 2 parts. the leeks and then the chicken. this post is for just the braised leeks (the chicken part will be coming soon!). the leeks prepared this way make a great accompaniment to the chicken but would also make for an outstanding side dish to any meal. i think it would go along well with fish or red meat or even just alone w/ a nice crusty baguette. i can't rave about this dish enough. you must try it for yourself!

mise en place

braised leeks
from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
serves 6

6 large leeks
extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

leeks are part of the onion family. they have a mild onion taste with a hint of garlicky flavor. onion AND garlic?! what's not to love?

i find the best place to buy leeks is at my local farmer's market. you can of course, find them at any supermarket as well. leeks need a really good cleaning. with all the layers they have, a lot of dirt gets tucked inside.

to prepare your leeks, trim off the roots, leaving the root end intact. trim the tops, leaving 2 inches of the light green part. the dark green part is not edible. cut the leeks in half lengthwise.

submerge the leeks in a large bowl of cold water to clean them. shake them to dislodge any dirt tucked inside. continue doing this until they are all clean. then place the leeks, cut side down, on a towel and pat dry completely.

turn the leeks over so the cut side is facing up and season w/ 2 teaspoons of salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat for 2 mins. pour in about 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to well coat the bottom of the pan), wait 1 minute. place the leeks in the pan cut side down. sear them 4-5 mins, until they are golden brown. turn them over and cook another 3-4 mins. then transfer them to a large gratin dish. you will have to do this in batches. be careful not to overcrowd the leeks in your pan and continue to add more oil as needed.

once you're done searing all the leeks, add some more oil to the pan (if there isn't any left). add the shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. cook about 5 minutes, until the shallots are just beginning to color.

add the white wine and reduce by half. add 1 1/2 cups stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

note: i find taking the little thyme leaves off the stems quite tedious and honestly, just annoying. so i just throw in the whole springs. once the stock comes to a boil, most of the leaves have come off and i just fish out the stems and discard. voila!

pour the liquid w/ the shallots over the leeks in the gratin/baking dish. the stock should not quite cover them. add more stock in necessary.

braise in the oven for 30 minutes, until the leeks are tender when pierced.

Friday, November 27, 2009

angelenos: bouchon is now open.

as we pulled up to the valet, the name 'Bouchon' unassumingly stood out from its dark burgundy background of the valet umbrella. we were greeted by five valet men, handsomely suited in the latest in valet fashions and stood at each door of the car eagerly awaiting for us to exit. in a calm voice they spoke, "good evening. welcome to bouchon." the statement was simple but you knew that what was about to come would be one of elegance and class. Thomas Keller needs no introduction. he has become known by far more than just those in the industry as one of the best chefs in the world. knowing that we would soon be experiencing the food of a man who has been awarded countless michelin stars, best chef titles and high honors from the james beard foundation, your heart (and stomach) skipped a beat.

as we walked into the restaurant, erykah badu's "back in the day" streamed across the eatery speakers. somewhat of an odd choice in music, going to show that keller obviously was trying to fit his restaurant into the hip LA scene. somewhat disappointing, but nonetheless, did not diminish the excitement of eating keller's masterful food.

keller's menu brings you back to the basics of artful cooking. no frills, just extreme attention to detail. coupled with the elegant (yet hip) ambiance, it's the kind of place that makes you feel like you have to sit with your back a little bit straighter and your speak just a little bit more proper.

beignets de brandade de morue

frisee aux lardons et oeuf poche

plats des cotes de boeuf
gigot d'Agneau

steak frites

saumon poele

poulet roti grand-mere

valrhona chocholate bouchons

tarte au citron

235 n. canon dr
los angeles, ca 90036
(310) 271-9910

bon appétit~!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

mashed potato casserole w/ smoked gouda and bacon

a few months back, i was lucky enough to have an amazing opportunity to take a cooking class at the bon appetit test kitchen in the los angeles office. the class is not offered to the public and is exclusive to advertising/marketing partners. i had only heard about it through co-workers but when i was invited to participate, my heart fluttered. it was a no brainer and i was there in a flash with my whisk in hand.

when we arrived, we were pleasantly greeted with a glass of wine and an array of appetizers to nosh on, prepared by the test kitchen chefs themselves. asparagus + mushroom tarts. fig + onion bruschetta. pizza with potatoes + tapenade. if it ended there, i would've been a happy camper. but then we were asked to head over to the kitchen with our aprons on and select a food station to cook at. each station had its own mise en place already prepared and the entire group cooked and baked fifteen different dishes such as spice-rubbed beef tenderloin, mixed greens with tangerine and fennel, thai black cod with beets and chinese broccoli, lime shortbread cookies with white chocolate and almonds and so much more! (all the recipes are from bon appetit magazine and can be found on

afterwards, we all sat together and dug into our creations family style and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. all the dishes were fantastic but one stood out from the rest. mashed potato casserole with smoked gouda and bacon. oh yes. it was as good as it sounds. its rich. its creamy. its decadent. no gravy needed here! so i thought i share this recipe with all of you in lieu of thanksgiving. this is a terrific side dish for any occassion but if you want to show off your cooking skills to your family and friends this holiday season...sprinkle some gouda and bacon love into your dish.

mise en place

mashed potato casserole w/ smoked gouda and bacon
recipe from bon appetit
makes 6 to 8 servings

6 slices of thick-cut smoked applewood bacon
3 large green onions, finely chopped
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1.5 inch thick rounds
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 stick butter
2 cups coarsely grated smoked gouda, divided

butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish.

cook bacon in a skillet until golden brown and crisp. transfer to paper towels to drain. chop the bacon and toss with green onions.

place potatoes in large pot and add enough cold water to cover. sprinkle with salt. cover and boil with lid slightly ajar until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 mins. to test doneness, poke the center of a potato round with a knife. if it goes in smoothly then its done. drain well and return the potatoes back on the stove. continue to cook on low heat, stirring often until potatoes are dry and light film forms on bottom of the pot, about 2 mins. add in sour cream, milk and butter to the pot. using a potato masher, mash until smooth. stir in 1 1/2 cups of the gouda cheese and almost all of the bacon and green onion mixture, reserving about 2 tablespoon of bacon/green onions. season with salt and pepper. mix well. spread potato mixture in prepared baking dish. sprinkle remaining gouda over the top. (this can be prepared ahead of time. cover and chill potato mixture and remaining bacon mixture separately)

preheat oven to 375 degrees. bake potatoes until cheese melts and edges of potatoes are bubbling, about 30 mins (40 mins if chilled). sprinkle reserved bacon mixture over and serve hot.

i promise you, this will be a crowd favorite. hope you have a great thanksgiving holiday.

bon appétit~!

more holiday recipes:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

viva las vegas

lets just state the obvious here. it's been a little while since we've posted something. catk and i have been getting some pretty humorous messages regarding the lack of posts, such as:
-i've been checking your site daily, and all i get is brownies =\
-when is the next blog??? i'm hungry! there are at least 460 others who are hungry as well...

good to know our readers are hungry for a new post (no pun intended). my excuse...i have senioritis. i have been so busy this summer with weddings (i kid you not, i attended 6 weddings this summer and i still have 3 more to go this fall), bridal showers, baby showers, milestone birthday parties and not to mention, my one year wedding anniversary. which is a great segway to the real content of this post...VEGAS EATS!

for our one year anniversary, my husband and i went to las vegas to celebrate. since the traditional year 1 anniversary gift is paper, we thought we go make some papers in vegas. lucky for us, vegas has become a culinary mecca for rockstar chefs (not to mention where this season's Top Chef is being taped). so we made a game plan of all the places we wanted to check out. after hours of research, recommendations and reading reviews, the result came to this...Daniel Boulud, L'atelier Joel Robuchon and Bouchon.

Daniel Boulud Brasserie (Wynn)
3131 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89136
(888) 320-7110

started off with the shellfish plateau

onion soup (guinness beer, gruyère cheese, beef shank)
the original ny db burger: sirloin burger stuffed with braised short ribs, foie gras, and black truffle on a parmesan bun

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon (MGM Grand)
3799 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-7925

amuse bouche....poached egg
eggplant, anchovies and peppers
mediterranean vegetables layered with buffalo mozzarella (zucchini, eggplant, sun dried tomatoes and buffalo mozz)

crispy langoustine fritter with basil pesto
braised pork belly with confit sweet onion
selection of imported cheese
selection of gelato/sorbets

selection of tarts
compliments from the chef: triple chocolate

Bouchon (Venetian)
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 414-6200

how happy was i to see this sign? answer: uber bliss

seasonal homemade jam: cherry

croque madame

roasted chicken and bacon/chive waffle

served with tahitian vanilla bean butter, sauce chasseur (bacon/mushroom), and maple syrup

we took the beignets to go
[end scene: fade to black]

for those of you who are planning to go to vegas for the long weekend, check out some of the great deals during vegas restaurant week.

bon appétit~!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

dulce de leche brownies

recently jDub gifted me w/ this jar of dulce de leche from argentina.

i remembered seeing a recipe for dulce de leche brownies on david lebovitz's blog (one of my favorites!) so i decided to whip up a batch. being david's recipe, i knew they'd be fail proof. and fail proof, they are!

i doubled his recipe and used a bigger pan. i also added some instant coffee and salt.

dulce de leche brownies
inspired by David Lebovitz
makes one 13x8 inch pan
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (i used chips)
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1-2 cups dulce de leche

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

line your baking pan (mine was 13x8 inches) with one sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides.

melt the butter in a medium saucepan. add the chocolate pieces or chips and coffee powder and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and salt until smooth. mix in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. (note: i transfer the melted chocolate & butter mixture into the bowl of my kitchen aid and did the rest of the steps w/ my mixer)

pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. take one-third of the dulce de leche and drop spoonfuls, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining dulce de leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the dulce de leche (as pictured below).

bake for 30-45 mins. the brownies are done when the top is set and the center is just slightly firm.

note: david's recipe says to bake them for 35-45 mins. i set my timer for 35 mins because as with most recipes, i find that i like baking things on the lower end of the time limit because 1) i believe things continue to bake even after you take them out of the oven and 2) i'd much rather have a slightly under baked and moist cake than an over baked and dry one. i found that at 35 mins (even though i doubled the recipe) the brownies were a little more done than i would have liked. next time i make these, i think i'll bake them for only 30 mins. hence i wrote the baking time as 30-45 mins...knowing everyone's ovens are different!

remove from oven and cool completely before cutting them up. david noted that these brownies are even better the next day and i have to agree! so if you can, wait! or make them the day before you plan to serve. obviously, store them in an airtight container or covered very well with foil.

bon appetit~!