Thursday, June 25, 2009

where every man walks out an animal...

unassuming store front, minimal decor on the walls, a splatter of a few tables on the restaurant floor. a very understated restaurant at first glance. yet to much surprise, their menu packs the punch with every animalistic dish they serve. the restaurant has its own napoleon complex of sorts, but an attitude that's rightly justified by what it offers.

for everyone on south beach or atkins, this is the place to be. with the hero of their menu being protein, you'll find everything from pork ears and veal brains to rabbit loins and the ever-so delicate spam. the waiter will tell you to order everything that contains pork belly and foie gras. at first you think it's a ploy to get you to spend all your money, but you realize that he was genuinely looking out for your best interest. every bite increases your carnivorous desires and makes you hunger for more and more. midway through the meal, the waiter brought out a plate of vegetables which helps calm the animal instincts at first but is soon overcome by your overbearing need to feast on more meat.

in the end, you're glazed over from the high you just got from all that you have just consumed. despite the few scratches and bite marks you got from your hungry peers, you walk out satisfied and empowered knowing that you that you are the shit of the animal kingdom. cheers to the circle of life.

the carnivorous adventure... animal

crispy hominy w/ lime

pig ear, chili, lime, fried farm egg

bbq pork belly sliders w/ slaw

foie gras, biscuit, maple sausage gravy

poutine, oxtail gravy w/ cheddar

braised pork shoulder ravioli, porcini, sage and brown butter

foie gras loco moco, spam, hamburger and fried quail egg

zucchini, tomatoes, pine nuts and parm cheese

balsamic pork ribs

halibut, king crab, corn, gold rice, tabasco butter

tres leches cake w/ dulce de leche
panna cotta w/ cherry jam

its no wonder vinny and jon won food & wine's 2009 best new chefs award. well deserved.

435 n. fairfax ave
los angeles, ca 90036
(323) 782-9225

bon appétit~!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Amaro Bar Menu @ Osteria Mozza

established on the corner of Highland & Melrose, Mozza is the brainchild of celeb chef Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery, and winemaker Joe Bastianich. the corner is home to Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and the upcoming Scuola di Pizza, which will house a small take-out pizzeria and another space which will host classes, tastings, parties and such.

the much coveted Osteria Mozza is a great spot for fine italian fare in LA. and the french agree! they just awarded the osteria with a michelin star this year, the restaurant's first. Osteria Mozza just started serving up a 3-course meal, complete with a glass of wine, on mon-wed nights at their Amaro (drink) Bar for just $35/person! call it a recession special, a plea for a packed bar on slower nights, or whatever you want. i call it a real good deal.

the wine
the Bastianich Friulano is the white and La Mozza Morellino di Scansano the red.

the amuse bouche
crostini topped with fresh ricotta cheese, olive tapenade, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. the crunch of the crostini, creamy richness of the ricotta, mixed with the salty tapenade, fruity olive oil and fresh basil completely amused my bouche.

from the Mozzarella Bar
Burrata w/ grilled asparagus, brown butter, guanicale & sicilian almonds. this is one of the heavier of the starter choices due to the fried guanicale (like bacon), brown butter sauce and salty breadcrumbs, but nonetheless, delicious!

on the left
: Burrata w/ speck, english peas & parmigiano. very light & fresh. the peas add a great garden fresh taste. one of my favs. top right: Burrata with bacon, marinated escarole & carmelized shallots. the savory escarole and sweet shallots totally make this dish. great choice. bottom right: Bufala Mozzarella w/ pesto, romesco, tapenade & caperberry relish. it's like a make your own bruschetta platter!

i forget what this one is. will update once i find out. it was also on the light side.

the pastas
Garganelli w/ ragu bolognese. simple, meaty, delicious.

Linguine w/ clams, pancetta & spicy fresno chiles. must try if you're a seafood lover. the pancetta adds that salty bite and the clams & garlic pack in the flavor!

Tagliatelle w/ oxtail ragu. rich & hearty. the oxtail flavor really comes through.

Orecchiette w/ sausage & swiss chard & breadcrumbs. this one was a bit of a disappointment. only because it was so salty. not sure if i just had a bad plate but it was borderline inedible.

Ricotta & Egg Raviolo w/ brown butter. i think the picture speaks for itself.

the desserts
Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes w/ Olive Oil Gelato. LOVE this. honestly, when i saw it on the menu, there was nothing about it that made me want to try it but ended up being one of my favs. the cakes are slightly crispy on the outside, light and soft on the inside w/ hits of rosemary, citrus & olive oil flavors that just go really well together.

on the left
: Bombolini (Italian donuts) w/ huckleberry compote, vanilla gelato and mascarpone. who doesn't love fried dough?! top right: Piccolo Budino Caldo di Cioccolato (molten chocolate cake) w/ bourbon gelato. kinda of disappointing. i'm not a fan of the bourbon gelato. bottom right: Blackberry Jam Crostata w/ yogurt gelato. i thought it was just ok. lots of seeds going on.

not sure what this one is called (i will update once i find out) but it's basically a cherry pie on some mascarpone, served w/ gelato. a great seasonal dessert.

a meal of this caliber at this price is hard to come by. and if you've never been to Osteria Mozza, it's definitely a great way to try it out. just remember, it's only offered on mon-wed nights, at the drink bar, not the mozzarella bar.

Osteria Mozza

6602 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
make reservations online (note: they don't take resos for the bar)

buon appetito~!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

spanish-style oxtails braised with chorizo

the june gloom in LA (go lakers!) has tricked me into thinking its a cold winter's night. so naturally, i wanted to eat something warm, comforting and hearty. i read this great braised oxtail recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook (the big fat yellow one...a GREAT book btw) and my mouth watered when i read it. if you havent tried braised oxtail before, it taste very similar to short ribs but with wayyyyy more flavor.

mise en place
spanish-style oxtails braised with chorizo
recipe from the gourmet cookbook
serves 6 to 8 (but if you are like me and love oxtail, it will most likely serve only 3)

6 lbs meaty oxtails (i got mine from costco)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (i used kosher)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb of mild spanish chorizo (make sure its the cured kind and not the fresh sausage)
1 (28-32oz) can whole tomatoes in puree (i used san marzano)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 turkish bay leaf or 1/2 california bay leaf (i used turkish)
1/2 teaspoon sweet or hot spanish smoked paprika
1 cup dry white wine

to serve:
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

put a rack in lower third of oven and pre-heart oven to 350 degrees.pat oxtails dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. heat oil in an 8 to 9 quart heavy ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. brown oxtails in batches without crowding, turning occasionally, about 5 mins per batch. transfer to a bowl. pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. set pot aside.
remove the casing from chorizo. finely chop chorizo in a food processor; transfer to a small bowl. add tomatoes, with their puree, to processor and coarsely chop.

cook chorizo, onion, carrots, garlic and bay leaf in fat remaining in pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 6 to 7 mins. add paprika and cook, stirring for 1 min. add wine and deglaze pot by bringing to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits add oxtails with any juice accumulated in bowl, and tomatoes (liquid should come about halfway up sides of meat; if necessary; add water) and bring to a boil.

cover pot, transfer to oven, and braise oxtails, turning once or twice, until very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
skim fat from sauce. discard bay leaf and stir in parsley, cilantro, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

-the oxtails improve in flavor if braised 2 days ahead. cool in the pot, uncovered, then cover the surface with parchment or wax paper, cover the pot with the lid and refrigerate. remove any solidified fat before reheating. add the parsley, cilantro and vinegar just before serving.
-if you don't have a large ovenproof pan, you can braise the oxtails in a flameproof roasting pan. brown them in batches in a 12-inch heavy skillet, then transfer them to a roasting pan just large enough to hold them in one layer. cook the chorizo and veggies with the bay leaf in the skillet, then add paprika and wine, as above. add to the roasting pan, along with tomatoes, bring to a boil on the stovetop, and then cover tightly with a lid or foil and braise in the oven.

bon app

Monday, June 8, 2009

swedish meatballs

swedish meatballs
whenever i make marinara & meatballs, i almost always make turkey meatballs. not only because it's a healthier option, but really, it's more delicious! if you don't believe me, please try it for yourself. your friends and family might not even notice that it's turkey. it's that good.

so when i decided to make swedish meatballs, i of course used turkey. you can sub the turkey for meat or pork or a combo of both in this recipe but i highly suggest you use turkey!

mise en place - meatballs

swedish meatballs
makes about 25-30 meatballs
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey (or meat, pork, or combo of both)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

in a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. set aside.

in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable (or other flavorless) oil and sautée the onions w/ a pinch of salt. when the onions just start to turn soft, add the garlic and continue to sautée untill everything is soft and transparent. remove from heat and let cool slightly.

in a large bowl, combine all ingredients - turkey, breadcrumb/milk mixture, egg, sauteed onions & garlic, salt & pepper. using your hands, mix all the ingredients until well combined but do not over mix. try to handle the meat as little as possible. form the mixture into 1 oz. sized balls. you should end up w/ about 25-30 meatballs.

in the same skillet that you sauteed the onions, heat 1 tablespoon butter w/ 1 tablespoon oil, over medium heat. cook the meatballs until nice and brown on all sides and cooked thru.

transfer the meatballs to a platter and cover to keep warm. now prepare the sauce.

mise en place - sauce

the sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper

in the same skillet where you cooked the meatballs, sautée the onions & garlic until just about soft and transparent, adding a little more oil if needed. push the onions to the side of the pan, creating a well in the middle. add the 2 tablespoons of butter. when melted add the flour and whisk together. whisk and cook until the flour turns brown. about 2-3 mins. it's ok to mix it all up w/ the onions. add in the beef broth slowly, constantly mixing to ensure the flour does not leave clumps. add the cream, mix and bring the sauce to a simmer until a desired consistency is reached. the longer you simmer, the thicker the sauce will get. taste of seasoning and add salt & pepper as needed.

add the meatballs back in, heat thru if needed and you're ready to serve.

serve w/ egg noodles, alone, or w/ rice!

bon appétit~!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

vanilla semifreddo

for mother's day this year, we took the mom to Lucques for lunch. the meal was a delight as always and we finished it off with the semifreddo w/ acacia honey & berries. it was so good we were really close to licking the plate clean!

semifreddo a la Lucques...
if you're familiar with Suzanne Goin's cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, you know that she has her recipes categorized by season and then organized in menus. each menu offers a starter, 2 choices for a main w/ sides and a dessert. while i was looking up the Green Rice recipe the other day, i was pleasantly suprised to find her semifreddo recipe as part of the same menu.

semifreddo, an italian word, literally means "partially frozen." the whipped eggs make it light and the whipped cream prevents it from freezing completely. this semi-frozen dessert is like a frozen creamy custard. basically, it's like crazy bananas good!! it's a great alternative to making homemade ice cream if you don't have an ice cream maker.

mise en place

vanilla semifreddo
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
serves 6-8
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of vanilla powder or 1/2 vanilla bean
3 eggs separated

lightly oil a 9" loaf pan (or any mold of your choice) and line it with plastic wrap. try to smooth it out as much as you can and let the excess plastic drape over the sides.

whip the cream until stiff peaks form. cover and chill while you prepare the other parts.

whip together the egg yolks, vanilla powder (or seeds if using a bean), vanilla extract and half of the sugar, until the mixture is thick, pale and doubled in volume and set aside.

whip the egg whites until frothy. slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.

fold the whipped cream into the yolk mixture. once they are well combined, gently fold in the whipped egg whites, a third at a time. you want to do this as gently as possible yet as quick as possible until the mixture is all well combined.

pour the mixture into the mold and tap the pan on the counter 3 times to ensure the mixture is settled and even. place a pieces of plastic wrap over the pan, touching the mixture and smooth it out.
freeze for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. here's where your patience comes into play.

when its ready, it will be frozen yet soft enough to easily yield to a knife.
of course, you can just take a spoon and dig in...

...or invert the semifreddo onto a platter, slice it up and serve drizzled with honey and fresh berries!

bon appétit~!