Friday, December 31, 2010

A Little Taste of Italy in Iowa: La Quercia’s Artisan Prosciutto

Growing up in Appalachia, right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I learned that great food can come from anywhere—a five star restaurant, a local diner, or your mother’s humble kitchen.

So when I first tasted La Quercia’s signature prosciutto at Picco, my brother’s Bay Area restaurant, I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that La Quercia was located in Iowa.

I thought, “Go Iowa—way to show Italy how it’s done!"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Wow, have we had some weather! Snow, snow, wind, and more snow!

To quote Shakespeare, "Blow, blow, thou winter wind; Thou art not so unkind."

Or put simply, we ain't goin' nowhere today. We're scraping the bottom of the cupboard, but thankfully we're equipped for Meatless Monday. Planning to make Curried Lentils with Butternut Squash, a riff on this dish posted last week.

Maple Tofu Vegan Whip Topping

Maple Tofu Vegan Whip Topping
Adapted from "Vegan World Fusion Cuisine"
Prep time: about five minutes 
Print Recipe  

12.3 oz. Sliken tofu
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch cardamom powder
pinch cinnamon powder

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

My Mother's Vegan Pie Crust

My Mother's Vegan Pie Crust
Makes 1 pie crust
Prep time: about forty minutes
Print Recipe  

1/2 cup organic, non-hydrogenated all vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups all purpose white pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball (only add as much water as needed). Shape into balls. Wrap in plastic, and put in the freezer for thirty minutes or fridge for four hours or overnight.

Roll out dough on a floured counter. Don't over work it. The dough keeps for up to three days in the fridge or six months in the freezer.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Domestic Divas Holiday Dessert Round-Up!

Can you believe it's almost Christmas?

I'm busy today wrapping presents and making butternut squash ravioli (whew!). Usually, I like to share a round-up of holiday recipes from the year. This time around, I decided to share dessert recipes. Every holiday meal should end with something sweet, don't you think?

Here are a few of my favorite dessert recipes. Enjoy!

Bacon Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Blackberry Clafoutis

Blood Orange Tart

Mango-Coconut Biscotti 

Rosemary and Olive Oil Cake

Strawberries with Ginger-Honey Yogurt

Toasted Cinnamon Ice Cream

Triple Ginger Cookies

Vanilla Ricotta with Berries and Balsamic Syrup

Xmas In Your Mouth Vegan Gingersnaps

Monday, December 20, 2010

Meatless Monday: Lentil and Sweet Potato Dal with Forbidden Rice

Lentil and Sweet Potato Dal
Divas, the holiday rush is upon us!

Kuzak and I are off to Floyd, Virginia this week to visit my parents, The Wine Lover and The Original Diva. I'm looking forward to being back on home turf, cooking and feasting with my family.

Before I sneak off, I wanted to share a great Meatless Monday recipe for Lentil and Sweet Potato Dal with Forbidden Rice. This healthy, tasty recipe is the perfect winter comfort food -- sweet and spicy, full of protein and fiber, in short, delicious! I also sneaked some kale in for a healthy treat.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club: Ozark Trails Hickory Smoked Peppered Bacon (Bacon #3)

Ozark Trails Peppered Bacon
This week, an early gift arrived from Santa. That's right, we received our third installment of Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club!

This time, the featured bacon was Ozark Trails Hickory Smoked Peppered Bacon. Now, I'm a big time spice lover, and pepper is one of my favorite things, especially when paired with meat in large quantities. I quickly concluded that this was a bacon for eating (rather then cooking) and roasted it up in the oven for breakfast (425 degrees for 11 minutes = perfectly crispy). I prefer oven cooking bacon, especially for larger quantities. It's faster and cooks evenly.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go Tropical This Holiday Season with Mango-Coconut Biscotti

This year, I was asked to participate in the International Blogger Holiday Cookie Recipe Exchange organized by Lori of Fake Food Free.

I gladly emailed my recipe for Triple Ginger Cookies, one of my favorite holiday treats, to Melissa of My McDonald Meal. Soon enough, a recipe showed up in my email from Marianne of French Fries to Flaxseeds for Mango Coconut Lime Biscotti.

I did a double take -- biscotti?!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Griddle Cafe: Breakfast For Dinner

Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Is there anything better than breakfast for dinner?

Not much, in my book!

So when I was invited to The Griddle Cafe, one of the top breakfast restaurants in Hollywood, for a decadent dinner of pancakes, french toast, and waffles, I jumped at the opportunity. Even better, all the entrees were paired with Java Monster coffee energy drinks.

Pei Wei Asian Diner Feeds the Holiday Spirit

As the saying goes, give and you shall receive! Help feed the hungry this holiday season by bringing a non-perishable food item to your local Pei Wei and receive 25% off one entrée of your choice. All donated food items will be given to a local food bank to fight hunger in your community.

Now that's what I call guilt-free dining! Here at Domestic Divas, local food banks are our primary charity cause. It's great to know that restaurants in our community share our vision for feeding the hungry during this holiday season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meatless Monday: Guest Blog on Piccante Dolce for Wild Rice Risotto with Cranberries and Walnuts

Wild Rice Risotto with Cranberries and Walnuts
For this special edition Meatless Monday, I've written a guest blog for the fabulous Piccante Dolce. The recipe is for Wild Rice Risotto with Cranberries and Walnuts. It's a perfect holiday dish -- a great, gluten-free substitute for bread stuffing, or a wonderful side dish, or simply a stand-alone meatless main course.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Great Holiday Recipe from Jen H. of Piccante Dolce for Toasted Cinnamon Ice Cream

Divas, I'm thrilled to announce a new guest post from the lovely Jen H. at Piccante Dolce!

This time, she's written up a fabulous recipe for Toasted Cinnamon Ice Cream. My mouth is watering just looking at her beautiful photography. Few things in the world taste better than homemade ice cream. And, even if you don't have an ice cream machine, she's included a link to a no machine recipe. She sure thinks of everything!

From Jen H. of Piccante Dolce:
I'm so excited to be back guest posting on Domestic Divas.  Since we are in the throes of the holidays,  I thought I'd share a recipe for a rich and creamy holiday ice cream. I love the flavor of cinnamon and especially love how most desserts and even some drinks during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are infused with cinnamon. One of my favorite winter beers, Harpoon Winter Warmer, is full of cinnamon and nutmeg and thought I'd love to try to turn that into an ice cream, it's unfortunately a Boston craft beer that's not available here in Toronto

So I decided to take the cinnamon, toast it, and turn it into an uber rich ice cream. One that can be paired with pies, put into profiteroles, on top of brownies or even just eaten on it's own, my favorite way to enjoy ice cream.

I am lucky to have received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift this past summer and use it every chance I get. For those of you without a machine it's actually quite easy, if a bit time consuming to make ice cream without one.  Ice cream guru to so many foodies and bloggers, David Lebovitz, posted his no machine method here and I know several people who have used this method and love it.

I made this ice cream for my parents Thanksgiving dinner and it was a hit. Everyone loved it and I loved it so much that I made it again this week, just to keep in the freezer and have little spoonfuls every once in awhile. Total guilty pleasure, but I have convince myself that bites of ice cream hear an there is better than eating tons of Christmas cookies.

Happy Holidays!
Piccante Dolce's Toasted Cinnamon Ice Cream
Piccante Dolce's Toasted Cinnamon Ice Cream
8 cinnamon sticks
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place 8 cinnamon sticks on a baking sheet and into the heated oven. Toast for 10 minutes. Place the toasted cinnamon stick in a saucepan with the milk. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. When the milk starts to bubble, remove from heat and cover. Let steep for 1 hour.

Create a water bath in a large bowl and place a smaller bowl in it with the 2 cups of heavy cream. In a separate bowl whisk the 5 eggs yolks. Add the granulated sugar, salt and ground cinnamon to the saucepan with the milk and cinnamon stick. Rewarm the milk to a slight simmer and temper in the egg yolks by add a small bit of warm milk at a time to the egg yolks, whisking constantly.

Pour the warmed yolks and milk back into the sauce pan. Cook over low heat stirring constantly, scraping the bottom with a silicone spatula. Custard is cooked when it coats the spatula and leaves a line when you drag your finger through it.

Strain the custard and brown sugar to the cream. Stir until cool. Cover and place in the fridge until completely cooled.

Freeze according to your ice cream makers instructions. If you don't have a maker, check out David Lebovitz's instructions.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish

There's nothing better than hitting up the farmers market and returning home with an armload of great product.

This week, I was lucky enough to procure milk-fed heritage pork chops from Healthy Family Farms, my local CSA. Their pork is so delicate and flavorful that doing anything other than cooking it sous vide felt like a crime. Enter my trusty Sous Vide Supreme and Vacuum Sealer (this is the must have holiday gift for any serious cook). Previously a technique limited to high end restaurants due to the exponential cost of immersion circulators and gastrovacs (though some brave home cooks have jerry-rigged their own devices), with the advent of the Sous Vide Supreme, home cooks can now rejoice and sous vide to their heart's delight.

Vacuum-Sealed Pork Chop with Bacon Fat
To cook the pork, I first cut out the bones to make them boneless pork chops (the bones are in my freezer, soon to be used to make stock). Then, I set my Sous Vide Supreme to 140 degrees. Meanwhile, I rubbed the meat with garlic powder, dried sage, dried thyme, salt and pepper. The final ingredient? A little rendered bacon fat that I'd squirreled away from Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon from the first installment of Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club.

Given the beautiful apples that are in season right now, I decided to make an Apple-Ginger Relish to serve with the pork chops. The dish turned out fabulous -- it tasted like the epitome of the season -- hearty, succulent, tangy, sweet. I served my Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish over fresh shell beans (simmered in water with a bay leaf and olive oil) tossed with a little sauteed baby kale, however just about any whole grain or bean concoction would work great with this dish.

I loved this dish so much, I can't wait to make it again!

Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish
Serves 2 people
Prep time: 15 minutes; Sous Vide Cooking Time: 2.5 hours
Print Recipe  

2 boneless pork chops (1 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons rendered bacon fat, cooled in the refrigerator until solid (this will allow you to vacuum seal the bags -- liquid is sucked out)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (for searing)

apple-ginger relish
1 Granny Smith apple, diced (I leave the skin on, but you can remove it)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper

Fill the Sous Vide Supreme with water and preheat to 140 degrees.

Meanwhile, rub the pork chops with the sage, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place each pork chop into a separate plastic bag with 1 teaspoon of the bacon fat. Vacuum seal both bags.

Once the Sous Vide Supreme has reached 140 degrees (hint -- filling it up with hot water will help it heat up faster), place the pork chop bags into the water bath making sure that the meat is submerged and that the bags are not touching each other. Cook in the Sous Vide Supreme for two and a half hours (for one inch thick -- longer cooking time is needed for thicker cuts of meat -- see the temperature chart that comes with the Sous Vide Supreme).

Pork Chops Fresh Out of Sous Vide Supreme
When two and a half hours have passed, remove the pork chop bags from the Sous Vide Supreme and cut open them open to remove the pork chops. In a saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Quickly, sear the pork chops on both sides until nicely caramelized (about 1 minute per side). Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, make the apple-ginger relish in the same pan where you seared the pork chops. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute. Add the apples and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar and cook for 1 more minute. Then, add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, deglazing the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for a few minutes, or until reduced in half.

Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish
To plate, slice the pork chops and lay out on a plate. Spoon the apple-ginger relish on top of the slices. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
milk-fed pork chops (Healthy Family Farms), organic garlic, and ginger from the Hollywood Farmers Market

organic Granny Smith apples from West Hollywood Farmers Market

organic apple cider vinegar, organic chicken broth, and grapeseed oil from Trader Joe's

organic dried sage, organic dried thyme, and organic garlic powder from Whole Foods

rendered bacon fat from Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon (received as part of Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Regal Discovery Tour with Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson (plus Chef Samuelsson's Recipe for Shrimp and Red Grits)!

Chef Marcus Samuelsson
On Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the Buick Regal Discovery Tour at the SLS Hotel, sponsored by Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure magazines. Los Angeles was the final stop on the cross-country tour, which began in Chicago and hit cities including Orlando, Dallas, and Cincinnati. I guess they saved the best for last!

Our stop featured guest speakers, including Jorge A. Chicas, the executive chef of The Bazaar by Jose Andres (one of my favorite LA restaurants), mixology expert Michael Green, road food guru Michael Stern, and Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson.

The Bazaar's Liquid Olives
After test driving a 2011 Buick Regal (not a bad way to begin a cold Los Angeles morning -- the car even has seat warmers!), my group entered a conference room, where we were greeted by Chef Chicas, his sous chef, and a table full of molecular gastronomy delights.

Chef Chicas showed us how to make tomato and watermelon skewers, demonstrated the technique for The Bazaar's famous liquid olives (encapsulated olive juice that explodes in your mouth), and passed around liquid olives for us to taste. He also answered questions and spoke at length about The Bazaar's new upscale tasting room, Saam, which I can't wait to try in the new year.

Mixology Expert Michael Green
Next up, we were greeted enthusiastically by mixology expert Michael Green, who demonstrated how to make a Ginger Gin Sour Cocktail (we mixed the mocktail version, but were promised the real deal later in the day to sip for Marcus Samuelsson's presentation). Not only did Michael work the room like a pro, but he demonstrated an astounding depth of knowledge on everything from the perfect drinks to serve for holiday brunch (low alcohol wine like Riesling or Prosecco cocktails), to perfect wine pairings, to essential bar tools.

Then, we hit the road (metaphorically) with road food aficionado Michael Stern, who writes the wonderful website Road Food. He spoke about the best way to find great food (hint -- roll down your windows and use your nose), his favorite BBQ dives, and his recent meal at Phillippe the Original in downtown L.A. (read his review here). The next time I plan a road trip, I'll be using his website to find great places to stop for grub along the way.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson
The foodie extravaganza came to an end with Chef Marcus Sameulsson's cooking demonstration. We were handed Michael Green's Ginger Gin Sour Cocktail, suffused with gin this time, and ushered into a large conference. The second I entered the room, I was bowled over by the delicious smells emanating from the stage -- fragrant and potent, hinting at powerful spices and complex flavor profiles.

After taking a seat, we were served steaming hot bowls of Chef Samuelsson's version of Shrimp and Red Grits (recipe below). The savory dish was packed with flavors (spicy, sweet, umami) and textures (grits, shrimp, tomatoes). No wonder he won Top Chef Masters -- I can't wait to try making this recipe at home.

Chef Samuelsson answered a number of questions from the audience, offering advice on essential cupboard spices and cookware, waxing poetic about the superiority of California's farmers markets (sorry New Yorkers!), and complimenting the meal he has last night at Animal (interestingly, the last time I dined there, Chef Samuelsson ate at the table next to me with fellow masters Jonathan Waxman and Rick Moonen -- my review and pics here).

"New American Table" by Marcus Samuelsson
The event came to a close with us being given Chef Samuelsson's new cookbook, New American Table, as a parting gift. The thick tomb is chocked full of exciting recipes that I can't wait to try at home. I even hung around after the event to have my book signed by a very gracious and smiling Chef Samuelsson.

Thank you to Buick, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure and everybody who worked the event for making it such a fantastic foodie occasion.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Shrimp & Red Grits
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Print Recipe

1 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grits
1 bay leaf
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup corn
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups water
juice from 2 lemons
12 U-12 shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tabelspoon chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
8 cherry tomatoes, halved

Add the onion, garlic, half the dry spices and half the olive oil in a pan. Add the grits and bay leaf, saute for 30 seconds. Add the canned tomato. Add corn. Add half the white wine and water. Let simmer for 25 minutes.

In a bowl, add half the lemon juice, a tablespoon of the olive oil, remaining spices and shrimp. Let sit for 15 minutes.

In a pan, saute the shrimp and remaining garlic on high heat for 3 minutes. Toss in remaining lemon juice, remaining white wine, chopped parsley and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add cherry tomatoes and serve.

To serve, place 2 tablespoons of grits in a bowl. Top with 3 shrimp per bowl.

Photo Gallery:

The Bazaar's Executive Chef Jorge Chicas
Chef Chicas Making Watermelon Skewers
Liquid Olives in Olive Oil
"Old Way" Olives
Ingredients for Liquid Olives
Ginger Gin Sour "Mocktail"

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Ultimate Street Food Celebration: Malayasian Street Food Comes to Los Angeles!

What could be better than an evening of ultimate street food?

Malaysia Kitchen for the World, a campaign launched by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation to promote Malaysian cuisine and restaurants in the United States, is hosting the ultimate street food celebration in Los Angeles: a lively Malaysia Kitchen Night Market featuring free samplings of classic Malaysian hawker foods by local restaurants. The event occurs Friday, December 10 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

With colorful tents, umbrellas and lanterns inspired by the open-air markets of Kuala Lumpur and Penang, the Malaysia Kitchen Night Market is the perfect opportunity to try the spicy flavors of Malaysian cuisine from top LA restaurants, from traditional Malaysian restaurants like Yazmin, Manja, Belacan Grill and Mutiara to Santa Monica's popular Monsoon Café. Southeast Asian and Malaysian food expert and cookbook author Chef Robert Danhi will also prepare a special Malaysian dish for the occasion.

Sounds like a great event -- I can't wait to check it out!

Malaysia Kitchen Night Market
Friday, December 10th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA

Eat My Blog Charity Bake Sale Raises Over $12,000 for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank!

Breaking news this morning -- the Eat My Blog charity bake sale to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has raised over $12,000 in just over a year.

On Saturday, our third sale raised $3,750, just in time for the holiday season. Thanks to the organizers (Cathy, Diana, Laurie, and Amy), all the bakers (list of bakers here), Tender Greens in Weho, and everyone who came out to support the sale. I donated my famous Bacon Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Sauce, a recipe I designed especially for Eat My Blog.

For pictures and a recap of the sale, click over to Gastronomy (Cathy's blog).

Meatless Monday Features My Recipe for Ginger Cherry Quinoa!

Happy Meatless Monday!

Click on over to Meatless Monday's killer website to check out my recipe for Ginger Cherry Quinoa. It's featured as their dinner recipe this week. This super healthy, flavorful dish is perfect for the holidays. Also, while you're on their site, check out this week's recipe for Spicy Peanut Chutney from Karen of Sprouts in the Hood. It sounds amazing -- I can't wait to try it.

Click here for the link to my recipe!

And remember -- one day a week, cut out meat!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Eat My Blog Menu for Tomorrow's Charity Bake Sale!

Divas, the Eat My Blog charity bake sale is tomorrow! To wet your appetites, here's the menu for tomorrow's smorgasbord. My mouth is already watering...

Eat My Blog
Saturday, December 4th
10am - 4pm
Tender Greens
8759 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

Be there or be square!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Foodie Dream Job: Pei Wei's Search for the Ultimate Blogger and Q&A with Executive Chef Eric Justice

One blogger. Two weeks. Five countries. Ten thousand dollars.

No, it's not television's newest reality show competition -- it's Pei Wei Asian Diner's search for the Ultimate Blogger. Pei Wei Asian Diner, the fast-casual restaurant concept by P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, has launched a search for an international correspondent to accompany Executive Chef Eric Justice on a cross-country tour across Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea.

Chef Justice and his team will search for culinary inspiration across the five Asian countries that influence Pei Wei’s menu. The chosen blogger will capture and share the international adventure. In addition to the experience of a lifetime, the blogger will receive $10,000 for his or her time and skills.

Chef Justice in Asia
The Pei Wei international correspondent will eat everything from street food to five-star cuisine, trek from remote villages to world-renowned cities, and meet everyone from rural farmers to cutting-edge chefs. Throughout the two to three week trip, they will capture the culture, travel and tastings on video, film and in daily blog posts. It sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime!

Domestic Divas jumped at the chance to interview Chef Justice about this incredible opportunity. He talks to us about his favorite foods blogs, what it takes to be an "Ultimate Blogger," and what's next for Pei Wei (hint -- small plates!).

Chef Justice (center) in Asia
Q&A with Executive Chef Eric Justice:

Domestic Divas: You’ve launched a search for the “Ultimate Blogger” to accompany you on a cross-country eating extravaganza across Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea. Why did you decide to choose a blogger?

Chef Justice: We really wanted to share the experience of our culinary tour with our Pei Wei fans and bring them into the action. We thought finding a blogger to document the journey would be the best way to engage this audience and give them a real sense of Asian cuisine and culture.

Domestic Divas: Do you read any food blogs? If so, what are some of your favorites?
Chef Justice: Yes, a few. I don’t seem to have enough time, but I'm trying to look at more new things instead of going to my same sources. Chez Pim is a really good blog with great pictures and hearty real food that you can make at home. I love baking and I love sweets so Applemint is a really well done blog/site. Great recipes, beautiful pictures.

Domestic Divas: What qualities should an aspiring Pei Wei blogger have?
Chef Justice: Adventurous is high on the list - they should be open to new experiences, willing to try new cuisine, have a strong passion for food, high interest in Asian cultures, some talent for writing about it, and most importantly be willing to run like mad across cities for long hours chasing the best food to eat.

Domestic Divas: Does traveling and tasting different cuisines influence your cooking?
Chef Justice: Yes, very much so. I really like to pick up the sights, smells, tastes of food culture when I travel to create dishes. Sometimes it’s an ingredient that speaks to me and other times it may be the colors and smells of a market that inspires a dish. When you go to the source of the ethnic cuisine there is a sensibility you get about it, what makes it special. You don’t often find that in recreated versions. Its best to see it in its truest source, from there you can create something relevant from that experience.

Domestic Divas: What are some of your favorite dishes that you discovered while traveling?
Chef Justice: We created a very popular Thai Mango Chicken dish inspired from the markets of Bangkok. They don’t serve a dish like that there but all the colors and flavors are represented in the market. I wanted the reds, yellows, and greens. The sweet ripe mango to be the center of the dish since it is so prevalent. We used Lemongrass and Kaffir lime which are strong aromatics waffling through the market. It was a mash-up of all the senses that were hitting me while walking through the market. Seeing Caramel style dishes done in a claypot in Vietnam inspired Caramel Chicken for us. We took the caramelized sugar flavor you find in the slow cooked dish and made it brighter with aromatics, gave it umami with fish sauce, then lightened it up with a crispy slaw for a cooling effect. 

Domestic Divas: Aside from Asia, where would you most like to travel next?
Chef Justice: Turkey, I want to go to Istanbul and really dig into their cuisine. It’s a combination of Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences. I love all the accompaniments, the spreads, roasted meats, kebabs, and wood fired breads. I like how it is influenced from a few different cultures creating this unique combination of Mediterranean food.

Domestic Divas: What’s next for Pei Wei? Any new developments?
Chef Justice: Lots on the horizon for us, we are diving into Korean next year in a big way. I love the uniqueness of the cuisine, but it has some similar flavor profiles that the Western palate will accept. I think we are going to introduce a lot of people to something they have never had, and they are going to like it. We are working on small plates as well. We think it is a great way for our guest to try something new without the risk of not liking their entrée. It’s a low cost, low risk way to let them be adventurous.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eat My Blog Charity Bake Sale - This Saturday, December 4th at Tender Greens!

Divas, don't forget that the Eat My Blog charity bake sale is this Saturday, December 4th at Tender Greens in West Hollywood from 10am - 4pm. Come on down for the best baked goods in town, including my signature Bacon Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Sauce (show up early if you want to snag some). All proceeds go to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Eat My Blog
Saturday, December 4th
10am - 4pm
Tender Greens
8759 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

Be there or be square!!