friday fun: vintage downtown LA

take a trip back in time to downtown LA in 1946! a special 10-minute silent treat for classic car lovers and vintage architecture fanatics, this ride-along is a wonderful look at places i walk all the time from a time when my parents were only a year old. so sweet!

thanks to LAist for the link.

summertime green gazpacho

i recently got an amazing vegetarian cookbook that contains a green gazpacho recipe, which unfortunately had neither the zest or the grassy celery flavor i was hoping for. so i used the idea behind it as the basis for a truly summer celebratory green gazpacho, which you can make vegan with coconut milk, or non-vegan with greek yogurt.

green gazpacho
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 anaheim chili pepper, chopped [or go hotter with jalapeño]
1 medium green heirloom tomato, chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
1 cup steamed spinach
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk or greek yogurt
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp celery seeds
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lemon
fresh garden herbs of your choice [i used some basil & oregano leaves]
salt & pepper

add all ingredients to the blender and pulse to incorporate larger pieces. once you achieve a pulpy mix, blend until smooth or desired consistency. you may have to stop and scrape down the sides, or add a bit of water to achieve the texture you want. chill 1-2 hours & serve.

optional: finish with a float of pesto, sliced avocado, chopped herbs & yogurt or tomatillo salsa. whatever you like, just keep it green!

porcini & parmesan cauliflower crust pizza

fresh porcini mushrooms
fresh porcini mushrooms

it’s an exciting time of year when fresh porcini mushrooms come into season. this year, they’re a bit pricey, so while i’m not exactly buying them as the main ingredient for anything, i am enjoying giving them the spotlight on this new pizza crust i’ve been playing with.

in an effort to skew my diet more in the paleo direction without completely giving up on pizza, i went searching for alternative crusts, and found this one that completely busts out of the common gluten-free pitfall of substituting a million different flours for a dough that just isn’t all that great.

aside from being healthy, i think the thing i like best about this pizza is that it tastes pretty darn good, and can be made in minutes. if you rice an entire cauliflower head, it keeps well in the fridge whenever you want to whip up a pizza. no dough kneading or rising, the only thing you’ll be waiting for is your oven to preheat.

porcini & parmesan cauliflower crust pizza
porcini & parmesan cauliflower crust pizza

porcini & parmesan cauliflower crust pizza

2 cups riced cauliflower [first chop it, then rice it in a food processor]
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil, for drizzling

2 small porcini mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella [optional]
pesto [or your preferred condiment, optional]

preheat oven to 450º. place riced cauliflower in a mixing bowl with eggs, garlic and salt, and mix with a fork to break egg yolks and incorporate to a fairly uniform mixture. add almond meal, mix to incorporate, then coconut flour, mix to incorporate completely. you’ll have a fairly wet “dough” compared to any typical pizza crust, but this is normal for this type of crust. you will have enough dough to make 2 pizzas of about 8″ diameter.

place a piece of parchment over a cookie sheet or pizza pan at least 10″ wide. you may be tempted to use foil if you don’t have parchment, but don’t do this—this crust will lift effortlessly off parchment, but cook down and stick to foil. place half your cauliflower dough in the middle of the parchment and push and mold it with your hands into a pancake about 1/4″ thick and 8″ diameter. the dough moves and shapes easily, just keep pressing it out and shaping it until you like it. drizzle olive oil [or flavored oil] over the top, and spread with a brush or your fingertips. bake at 450º for 10 minutes to set the egg.

unlike traditional pizzas, this pizza has 2 baking phases: one to set the crust, above, and one to melt any cheeses or heat toppings through. once your first 15 minutes is done, remove the crust from the oven and spread half the parmesan cheese over the surface in a thin, even layer. this acts as a nice barrier for any wet ingredients, but you may add more for the love of cheese, if you like. then, layer half of the sliced porcini over the surface. finally, sprinkle half the mozzarella, if using, over the top. return the pizza to the oven for 10 more minutes, to melt and lightly cook the toppings.

once your cheeses are melted, finish the pizza any way you like. if you’re using condiments that don’t need oven baking, like pesto, soffrito or the like, add them at this phase. add any finishing salts or pepper here too.

repeat this process with the remaining half of your ingredients, or adjust the recipe so you can try 2 different toppings on each pizza. enjoy!

lemon verbena oil

lemon verbena shrub 2012
lemon verbena shrub 2012

it’s the time of year for lemon verbena again. i have my own potted plant, but it’s nothing compared to my mom’s perennial, which has come back in fuller force every year. this year, i’ve trimmed off a goodly amount, merely sculpting the shrub into a small tree, but hardly making a dent.

since my diet is decidedly off added sugar, the typical simple syrup is out of the question, but perhaps an oil to add a twist to my vinaigrette dressings is in order. i tried it two ways, by heating and steeping, and then by blending and straining. the fresher of the two is definitely blending and straining. since this preparation macerates much of the leaf, you’ll want to store it in the fridge if you don’t use it immediately.

lemon verbena oil
lemon verbena oil

lemon verbena oil
1 cup lemon verbena leaves
1/2 cup canola oil

blend leaves and oil in the blender, stopping periodically to scrape down sides and incorporate into a pulp. pour out and let the mixture sit in a jar for up to 3 hours. strain out the oil into a storage jar and store in the refrigerator.

happy monday

happy monday
eclipsing crescents through the shadow of the loquat tree

we had a lovely time watching the eclipse yesterday. LAist posted a nice gallery from photographers around LA as well as this

epazote, mint & ginger tea

epazote mint & ginger tea
epazote mint & ginger tea

i found myself wondering if i was running out of new things to write about for seasonal eats, but my guy at the highland park farmer’s market came through with yet another green i haven’t tried: epazote. i’ve heard of it forever, but never really encountered it for purchase before. i asked him about it, and he listed off many favorite mexican dishes its commonly used in, so i thought it’s time to try it out.

epazote has a pungency that almost seems un-food-like, with a petroleum-ish aroma not unlike tea tree, and an antiseptic oil released upon chewing that seems to bloom in the mouth—a similar feeling to chewing mint leaves, but a different flavor. i’m definitely going to try it in food, but since i’m no expert in traditional mexican cooking, the herb’s medicinal properties caught my attention first [i’m going back to highland park to have it served up by the pros]. here’s a tea of 3 digestive aids that will sooth your system after a meal or anytime you like.

epazote: acts as a carminative preventing intestinal gas, and has antihelminthic properties. its limonene content can relieve gastrointestinal reflux disease and heartburn.

mint: aside from the delicious flavor that goes well with epazote, mint’s essential oil is menthol, which stimulates the flow of bile to the stomach promoting digestion. menthol is also an antispasmodic, calming the muscle action in the digestive system.

ginger: soothes indigestion and acts as a carminative. it’s a mild stimulant, promoting circulation and motility in the gastro-intestinal tract. the volatile oils found in ginger also have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic and antibacterial properties, and testing suggests that gingerol may kill some cancer cells. ginger has also been found to treat nausea associated with pregnancy, motion sickness and chemotherapy.

epazote, mint & ginger tea
1 5″ sprig of fresh epazote
2 5″ sprigs of peppermint
1 long piece of ginger root, .5″ wide cut into matchsticks for maximum surface area
20 oz boiling water

take the epazote and mint sprigs and twist them between 2 fists to help release essential oils. place the sprigs and ginger sticks in a large glass and pour boiling water over. let steep 5 minutes and either sweeten to your preference or take it straight. optional: flavor with lemon juice.

rutabaga carrot & apple salad

rutabaga carrot apple salad
rutabaga carrot apple salad

i was wandering around the farmer’s market last week, thinking about how i’d written about so many different foods that what else could i experiment, and then i saw some rutabagas and realized i’ve never even had one. from what i’ve read, these weren’t the finest examples [the best advice is to pick smooth, unblemished roots, and the ones i found had cracked ridges around the tops], but i thought i’d take them home and do a little experimenting.

i can see why they’re only preferred in desperate, world war famine times. they’re sort of neither here nor there, and often served in a group with a selection of other root vegetables. one reason may be its natural bitterness which comes out with cooking. i decided to try my hand at baking my own root vegetable chips, and while sweet potatoes and beets turned out nicely, rutabagas are not a good choice for this.

this brought me back around to eating them raw, which is quite nice. they’re crunchy, lightly sweet, full of fiber, and taste fine on their own or with your favorite dressing or dip. since i love shredded salads, i thought the taste would work well with some carrots and apples, and a light vinaigrette.

rutabaga, carrot & apple salad

1 rutabaga
1 large carrot
1 fuji apple
1 tb roasted walnut oil vinaigrette dressing

break out your julienne mandoline [or super chef knife skills] and shred up the rutabaga, carrot and apple into a mixing bowl. prepare your favorite vinaigrette, or use the one i suggested [i’m way into this roasted walnut oil lately] and drizzle it over the top. mix well to coat, season with salt & pepper and enjoy!

pea shoot, radish & apple salad

pea shoot salad
pea shoot, radish & apple salad

i’ve been trying to work pea shoots into my life ever since i tried this kohlrabi slivers and pea shoots with sesame dressing. though you can cook them, i’m not all that into the wilty texture in comparison to the fresh crunch of the raw shoots. i thought i’d whip up another shredded salad today and i like this one just the same. i guess it’s time to plant a container of them outside to eat every day!

pea shoot, radish & apple salad

1 large handful of pea shoots
4 large radishes, julienned
1 granny smith apple, julienned
1 tb sesame oil
1 tb rice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame seeds [i used black and toasted]
1 tb toasted pepitas

use a mandoline/julienne slicer or your expert chef knife skills to cut the apple and radishes into matchstick slices. roughly chop the handful of pea shoots into 1″ pieces. toss everything in a salad bowl, adding the oil, vinegar, sesame seeds and pepitas. toss to mix and coat through.

butternut squash salad

butternut squash salad
butternut squash salad

i’ve been eyeing the butternut squash in the farmer’s market since september, but hadn’t bought one till this week. when researching recipe ideas, i found lots of delicious baking, roasting and cooking / puréeing ideas, so naturally i wanted to fill in the gap of something fresh mixed with greens. i thought i’d work on a variation of this spicy squash salad since this is in line with how i like to eat. i’m halfway through the bowl i photographed above as i write this, and it’s delicious.

butternut squash salad
1 small butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1/2 cup black mung beans [urad, available at indian specialty markets]
2 cups water & salt for cooking beans
3 tb olive oil
1 tb cumin
1 tb paprika
1 tsp salt
2 oz light feta cheese, crumbled
1 large handful baby arugula leaves
2 tb balsamic vinegar
pepper to taste

peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler or knife, slice the neck down to the gourd, cut the gourd in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and cut all pieces into .5″ cubes. place in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle cumin, paprika and salt over all pieces. mix to coat with a spoon and roast at 400º for 40 minutes, flipping pieces halfway through to cook evenly.

while squash roasts, cook urad in 2 cups salted water about 30 minutes until soft. when both squash and urad are done, set out to cool. when cool, add both to a mixing bowl, add crumbled feta, arugula and balsamic vinegar, and toss to mix well. serve with fresh pepper over the top.