Archive for January, 2009


Takao is our neighborhood sushi bar so we decided a quickie lunch was in order. Takao wasn’t there, but Akira did an excellent job.


Sashimi – John took the photo after half had been eaten – toro and salmon were especially good.


yellowtail belly

toro – not pictured



salmon eggs/quail egg and uni/quail egg


Hama Hama Oysters deep fried – the oysters had been dipped in Panko. Good, but I much prefer the tempura at Takao


Salmon Skin Roll


Jamaican Banana Cheesecake

Prepare the pan – use a 9” springform pan. Lightly butter the sides and bottom. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly butter the parchment. Cut the excess parchment off (after closing the sides of the pan.) Line the exterior of the pan with tin foil to prevent leakage.


Chocolate Cookie Crust

11 Oreo cookies (finely ground in the cuisinart)

3 Tablespoons butter, melted


In a small bowl, stir together the ground Oreos with the butter. Press crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan, best done using the back of a spoon. Make sure the entire bottom is evenly covered.


Place the prepared pan in the refrigerator to chill.


Banana Rum Filling

24 ounces cream cheese

2/3 cup pureed banana (about 2)

¾ cup sugar

5 teaspoons cornstarch

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons crème de banana (Dekuyper brand)

3 tablespoons white crème de cacao

3 tablespoons light rum

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Make sure that the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature.


In a large bowl combine cream cheese and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. You must stop the mixer at least 3 times, scrape the bowl, scrape the beaters and re-mix. It is very important to have a smooth batter. Add cornstarch and banana puree and mix some more. Again, you must stop the mixer 2 times to insure a smooth batter with no lumps.


One at a time, add eggs and egg yolk, beating well after each addition. The trick here is to incorporate each egg, but not to overbeat. You don’t want to have an airy batter. After you have added 2 of the eggs, stop the mixer and scrape. Do the same thing (scraping) after the last egg and egg yolk.


Combine liquers and vanilla and beat into mixture. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust.


Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 225 and bake for 1 hour or until the center no longer looks wet or shiny. The center will jiggle.


Remove the cake from the oven and run a small spatula around the inside edge of the pan. VERY IMPORTANT – this prevents cracks.


Turn the oven off; return the cake to the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Chill, UNCOVERED, overnight.


The next day, place in the freezer and freeze until solid. Then unmold the cheesecake, wrap in saran wrap and freeze until needed.


Can be served with caramelized bananas




Recipe Adapted – NO SCRAPING AT ALL!

I have recently acquired the gadget of a lifetime for those who bake. It is a blade called the SideSwipe. There is another blade on the market called BeaterBlade but it doesn’t work as well as the SideSwipe. You don’t have to scrape the bowl with the SideSwipe. Making a cheesecake is a snap and took seconds as I didn’t have to stop, scrape and start numerous times. It truly is a miracle blade.


I have no financial connection with this company, but it is one of the best “gadgets” I have ever bought.




Le St Julien – Beychevelle

We were not able to get a reservation at Cordeillan-Bages for dinner, but they recommended in Beychevelle the Restaurant Le St. Julien, a little restaurant about 10 minutes away. It is small and cozy with country-type cuisine.



A number of photos didn’t come out so I won’t post them.

Not pictured – An amuse of mousse de champignons on the bottom of a shot glass, then a layer of some type of herb mousse with bacon on top. Nice, with no bells and whistles.

First Course 
Not pictured – my husband – Ravioli of mushrooms – good, well made

Me – Marinated Salmon with creme fraiche and salmon eggs


Second Course Parfait of Artichoke and Foie Gras served cold- this was excellent once I deconstructed the dish and moved the greens to the side





Third Course

My husband – Pork with Ginger



Me – Pigeon en cocotte with small French peas



The Chef – Claude Broussard


This wasn’t fancy cooking; it was more reminiscent of grand-mere cuisine. But it was much better than some of the other non-starred restaurants we tried.

Bazaar – Jose Andres

I have had Jose Andres’ food at Cafe Atlantico in Washington DC, unfortunately not at the mini bar, but his American dim sum brunch.

We waited a bit for the buzz to die down before trying Jose Andres food at the Bazaar in the SLS hotel. Let’s just say the buzz is still there. Joseph Sabato, the manager, said they did 350 covers on Friday and expected about the same on Saturday. The bar has become somewhat of a scene and they have instructed the valets to stop taking cars after 9:30. Jose Andres wants a restaurant, not a club, but that might be an uphill battle in Los Angeles. The early crowd was more food-focused, but the later it got the crowd grew younger, loud and food seemed to be secondary to scene. Also, most of the tables were groups of 6 – very hard for a kitchen to deliver food in a timely matter, particularly when you are serving numerous tapas style dishes. (In fact the servers punch in their orders directly to the kitchen as they take your order).

In terms of service, the FOH was terrific. Lucas Paya, Beverage Director is from ThinkFood Group, Jose Andre’s team out of DC. He worked at El Bulli starting in 2002 (we missed him by a year) and is knowledgeable as well as charming. Our server, Heidi Elizabeth was very good as well as enthusiastic. She had tasted the dishes and was excellent at detailed explanations.  Everyone who brought food to the table appeared to have been trained in how to describe the dishes. 


We brought our own wines.

NV or some say Multi-vintage Krug Champagne–wonderful as always, clean, crisp, delicious.  I would have it all the time if it was affordable.
2004 Wm. Fevre  Chablis Le Clos–probably the best vineyard in Chablis.  We love the Dauvasset  and Raveneau from the same vineyard.   It drank perfectly and was a very good pairing with most of the food.  Yes, we might have had some red [Spanish preferred] with the Philly Cheese Steak, but at $30.00 per bottle corkage it is not a good idea to have too many bottles.
Caviar Cone – brik pastry cone filled with cauliflower creme fraiche puree and topped with coast of Maine caviar – good, but I am not sure I would re-order these at $10 a piece.
Cottton Candy Foie Gras – absolutely spectacular – foie gras terrine was rolled in corn nuts and then wrapped” in vanilla cotton candy 
Special forks were provided for the the tapas. Also note the wine glass used for the white wine.
Close-up of forks
The next dish was presented in this tin. The menu states that “canning was invented in 1810 in france by Mr Nicolas Appert. Spain adopted this technique and today is known for producing the best canned products in the world. Here at SLS, we make them in house daily.”
Fresh Kumamoto oysters, lemon, black pepper – absolutely delicious
Octopus terrine with potato, airy mayonnaise, sorrel – another A+ winner
Japanese taco – grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi wrapped in thinly sliced jicama and topped with black sesame seeds and chicharron (the skin of the pork seasoned and deep fried) – this was very reminiscent of a sushi bar eel roll, but with a Spanish twist.
Tortilla de patataas, new way – warm potato foam, caramelized onion with a slow cooked egg 63 and topped with baby croutons – an ode to comfort food
Philly Cheesesteak – air bread filled with oozing cheese and topped with Kobe beef – I could have eaten 3 of these – absolutely perfect and a must order
Inside of the bread
Uni in a Bao – this was the only loser of the night – the bun was horrible and the dish just didn’t work. To the restaurant’s credit, they took this off our bill.
I would definitely go back to Bazaar. There were many dishes that I wanted to try the miso linguini, the sea urchin in the can with pipirrana and Andalusian vegetables, the fried squid, the lamb loin just to name a few.
One interesting aspect about Bazaar that Joseph mentioned is that they don’t want people to see Bazaar as a “special occasion” place. They don’t push you to order a huge array of dishes, suggesting 3 or 4 plates per person with most being served family style and meant for sharing. They are trying to get people to select a more random and lower priced package of dishes so they are at $ 60.00 per head without wine/drinks. 

Rostang’s Truffle Sandwich – Paris

There is one dish at Michel Rostang in Paris that is an absolute must. It is Rostang’s truffle sandwich – the most decadent take on a grilled sandwich ever invented. It is worth going for just that.

Yes, it is expensive.


au pain de campagne grillé et beurre sale


But then, you could always make it at home!

Recipe: Le sandwich tiede a la truffle fraiche au pain de campagne grille et beurre sale


1 oz. fresh very aromatic black truffle

2 T salted butter (beurre de guerande) at room temperature

2 slices of country bread (poilane style) tsp. salt preferably french fleur de sel. * more info.


Cut the truffles into slices about 1/2 to an inch. Lavishly place the butter on both slices of bread.

Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Place one slice of bread with overlapping slices of truffle and cover with the other slice of bread.

Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. When ready to eat, grill on both sides under the broiler or in a toaster oven, one side at a time. 








The Best BLT

THE BEST BLTS –  Bon Appétit,  August 1999 

What makes this dish is the basil mayonnaise and the avocado.  Sometimes, I serve this just as a “BT”  sandwich. Sometimes, I add turkey to the sandwich. I add more bacon than the recipe calls for ( 2 slices per sandwich is very skimpy plus my husband loves bacon) and deep-six the red onions. How much tomato, bacon, lettuce, avocado you add is really a matter of personal taste. It is important, however, to make the basil mayonnaise a day in advance so that it becomes a more solid mixture.


Basil mayonnaise 

 2  1/2 cups (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves

 1 cup mayonnaise

 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

Mix basil, mayonnaise and butter in food processor until basil is finely chopped and mixture is well blended. This takes some time as you want the mixture very well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 




 12 thick-sliced bacon strips (about 1 pound)

 12 1/2-inch-thick slices fresh country-style white bread

 3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

 2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, sliced

 1 red onion, thinly sliced

 6 lettuce leaves


 Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels; drain.

 Spread half of mayonnaise mixture over 1 side of 6 bread slices. Top each with 2 tomato slices. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Top tomato slices with avocado, then with bacon strips, onion and lettuce. Spread remaining mayonnaise mixture over remaining 6 bread slices. Place bread slices atop lettuce. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.


BLT without the bacon and the lettuce, but turkey, avocado and tomato




BLT with the bacon, but no lettuce




Mahogany Buttercrunch Toffee

Another of my favorite recipes from Rose’s Christmas cookies is her Mahogany Buttercrunch Toffee.

2 cups blanched sliced almonds 
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar 
2 tablespoons water 
1/2 cup unsalted butter 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 


2 (3-ounce bars) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (coarsely chopped) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place almonds on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10 minutes, or until golden. Cool. 

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the almonds until they are finely chopped. Sprinkle half of the nuts over a 7 inch by 10 inch area of a greased baking sheet. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, heavy saucepan combine the brown sugar, water and butter. Have your baking soda and vanilla extract ready. Over medium heat bring the sugar mixture to boil. Stir occasionally to prevent burning until the mixture reaches 285 degrees F (140 degrees C) (soft-crack stage) on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat as the temperature will continue to rise to 290 degrees F (145 degrees C).

Immediately add the baking soda and vanilla extract. Stir. Pour this mixture over the nuts on your baking sheet. Immediately scatter the chocolate squares over the hot toffee. Press the squares lightly with your fingers so they start melting.

After about five minutes, the chocolate will be soft enough to spread with a long metal spatula in an even layer over the toffee. Spread the remaining chopped almonds over the melted chocolate. 

Cool completely and break into irregular pieces using a sharp knife. (I just break with my hands)

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for about one month.