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Huaraches, aka Your New Favorite Mexican Dish

September 29th, 2015 — 10:59pm Other posts by

When Michael came to California this winter, we went to a little Mexican restaurant in Highland Park. I hadn’t been to the area before so it felt like vacation for me too. What we found was some of the cheapest, most delicious Mexican food I’ve had in all my years in LA. I knew these places existed, but I’d never really looked until then.

We went to El Huarache Azteca, as the name would indicate, for huaraches. The Spanish word for sandal is also an oblong masa patty filled with a thin layer of refried beans. Imagine a thick, doughy tortilla, slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Then top it like a taco. Oh, and only charge $2.50 for this baby.

We knew we had to recreate them. My first few attempts to spread beans in the corn flour mixture, then shape it like a sandal were messy and ugly, but I eventually got it down. We had ours with marinated flat iron steak (Have I mentioned that’s my new favorite cut? It’s cheap and tender and cooks in two minutes once you slice it up).

Huaraches are really something. If you don’t have an authentic place near you that serves them, you should definitely try them at home.

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Rosemary, Olive Oil, Potato Pizza and Lemony Zucchini Ricotta Pizza

May 29th, 2010 — 8:06pm Other posts by

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At first mention, the idea of a sauceless, cheeseless pizza doesn't seem too enticing, so if it makes you feel better, you can call these flatbreads or something else. I'm happy thinking of them as pizzas where the focus is all dough and toppings. (In case you're new here, I LOVE dough.)

These are both Smitten Kitchen recipes I made last weekend with my friend Allie. The zucchini pizza I first made last summer, but this time used ricotta instead of goat cheese. And a recent LA Times article reminded me I had never tried the potato pizza I saw on Smitten Kitchen two summers ago.


Both are great summer pizzas, in my mind. Light and fresh tasting. (I know, carbs on carbs, how is potato pizza light? But the potatoes are sliced thinly and there's not sauce and cheese to weigh it down further.) The two pizzas with a side salad make a perfect evening-on-the-porch meal.

I won't post the full recipes since I didn't make any significant changes, except as mentioned, this time I used ricotta instead

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of goat cheese. For the potato pizza don't be shy with the sea salt and cracked pepper. For both, I used Trader Joe's dough, then cooked the pizzas individually in a 500-degree oven on a preheated pizza stone until the toppings were cooked and the crust turned golden brown.

Rosemary, Olive Oil, Potato Pizza

Lemony Zucchini Ricotta Pizza


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Grilled Cheese with Butternut Squash, Onions, Balsamic Syrup

May 2nd, 2010 — 3:14pm Other posts by

Harvest Melt

Los Angeles, great city that it is, has a gourmet grilled cheese truck that announces its location on Twitter each day. My coworker Aaron had been keeping tabs on it, so when it came near the office he drove me and our other coworker Allie to the parking lot where the truck had set up shop. We had to wait in line for 25 minutes, but we weren't disappointed. Aaron got a sandwich filled with mac-and-cheese, Allie had brie and pears on cranberry-walnut bread, and I had the Harvest Melt: Gruyère, roasted butternut squash, leeks and balsamic-agave syrup. Brilliant.

Harvest Melt

Yesterday Allie came over and I tried to recreate the Harvest Melt in all its glory. I'm happy to say it was a success.

The grilled cheese was so good, so satisfying, that I didn't even think about other food until dinner. A rare occurence for me. But the squash, the onions, the balsamic… the cheese… the perfectly grilled toast… Pause for a few moments of reverie.

Even better, I don't need to use Twitter or get in a car to have one.

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My Favorite Quesadilla

April 25th, 2010 — 11:15pm Other posts by

No, I don't think anyone needs a recipe for a quesadilla. All you need to do is melt cheese in a tortilla. You can make them in the microwave, under the broiler or in a skillet. (My roommate last year actually had a designated quesadilla maker.)  You can keep them cheese-only, fill them with extras or put all the fun stuff on top. To each his own, really.

But let me tell you about my own.

My favorite quesadilla starts with a hot cast iron pan. With a little olive oil, I cook sweet bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and diced jalapeno. Salt and pepper. I push that to the side and lay down a tortillla…ideally it is a Trader Joe's Truly Handmade tortilla. I add shredded Monterey Jack (not a ton) and put the vegetables on top to melt the cheese faster. When the cheese is gooey and the tortilla slightly crisp, I slide it on a plate, squeeze fresh lime juice all over and fill the quesadilla with cilantro before folding it in half. Depending on the day, I might also smother the whole thing with sour cream.
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So, no, you don't need a recipe for a quesadilla. But if you were looking for some inspiration, just gaze at that photo a little longer.


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Okra Gumbo with Sausage and Fish

April 18th, 2010 — 5:29pm Other posts by

My friend Mike offers us his classic gumbo recipe with okra, andouille and seafood. I wish I had gotten a chance to taste it, but the color of that roux is evidence enough that it must have been great.

This recipe was adapted from several in Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. This gumbo is a family favorite. It isn’t too spicy, has a delicious toasty, nutty complexity from the roux, and the okra keeps it from being too thin (the darker you make a roux, the less thickening power it has). It is, however, a definite time commitment. This is a recipe where you should have everything completely prepped and lain out before you start heating the oil for the roux.

Gumbo previously: Gumbo with Chicken, Andouille and Shrimp
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Spiced Apple Pancakes

April 14th, 2010 — 1:11am Other posts by

I’m not much of a pancakes person, to be honest. But whenever we had big sleepovers at Kat and Marissa’s house last year, we’d make big breakfasts with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and Kat’s apple pancakes. So when

And care for few tested scent with to perfumes throwing.

I was contributing to breakfast for a group of friends this weekend — several states away from Kat — I just had to make apple pancakes.

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It was my first attempt at all-from-scratch pancakes, and I have to say I was happy with them. Real butter and buttermilk are the foundation for great homemade pancakes. These are enhanced by warm spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger — and apple chunks that still pop when you bite in. They’ll make a pancakes person out of anyone.

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