The problem with being in a baking program is that I do not learn much about meat or fish. Granted we did take a class in culinary basics I have never broken down any sort of animal. The boss thought maybe we should learn so we decided to take a field trip to the fish market. There she talked about how to find good fish, and then we stopped at the Asian Market to get some whole fish to take it apart. Turns out to filet a fish is not as intimidating as I thought.
All weekend I’ve been working with my co-worker and her friend setting up for an epic party that was thrown yesterday. The point was to have great food and innovative drinks. There were three lofts in the same building participating, each loft had a different theme and were in charge of two cocktails and food. Here’s how the schedule looked:
The Cocktail Party
6:00 People start to arrive in the pool lounge in the basement of the lofts. There we find sangria, capirinhas, and hors d’ouevres, shrimp cocktail, vegetable platter, and sushi platter. Guests mingle and hosts set up for part 2.
8:00 Loft One
Butter popcorn infused rum and coke
Hot pepper and cucumber infused liquor.
Deep fried anchovy stuffed olives
9:00 Loft two
Dry Ice five fruit cocktail
Tiki blood: A participatory drink where there is an ice shot glass filled with red fruity liquor and dropped into a pineapple based drink. The shot glass acts as the ice for the drink.
Curry coconut chicken skewers
Pineapple and bacon skewers
Vegetable skewers with plantains, onions, and vegetables in with soy based marinade
9:45: Loft Three
London Burning (shown above)
I left before the second cocktail but was a similar fruity drink
Bacon mac and cheese
The cocktails were kept secret so I cannot share the recipes however it was a great party idea. I can however share the recipe for the curry coconut chicken skewers which were found here.
Since I have arrived in LA all my co-worker talks about is the garlic noodles from Crustacean. So, after a long 6 weeks of hearing about it I finally suggested we go there for lunch last week.
What I knew about Crustacean before I went there:
It is expensive.
The garlic noodles are amazing.
They have a secret kitchen that only the family has the key to get into.
They have a secret menu for the secret kitchen.
We walk into the restaurant and the first thing I notice is that we have arrived during the hours between lunch and dinner so half of the restaurant is not being seated. The ambiance however is still very beautiful. It is dark despite the LA sun shining through the windows, the ceiling is gold and they have cabanas you can sit in with pillows and curtains. What I did not notice was the coi pond beneath the floor as I was so busy admiring the rest of the place.
I had my mind set on garlic noodles and the dungeness crab as my co-worker said those were the best secret kitchen items however at $42 and a non-paying externship I stuck with the garlic noodles and the small shrimp and we split the appetizer sampler. The sampler was a bit small for what we paid for it and the sauces I think made the dish. I found the dumplings flavorless and the crab wontons to be lacking. The coconut shrimp was pretty good but it is hard to mess that up with coconut, shrimp, and deep frying. As far as the garlic noodles go however, delicious. The two of us sat there trying to figure out what went into them. We came out with garlic (obviously) cheese (gruyere maybe?) sesame oil….really I have no idea. It looks as if they make the pasta there and have some of the ingredients actually in the pasta itself.
It was an enjoyable meal, we were given two free desserts which I was so grateful for. Pineapple bread pudding and Godiva Chocolate Cake. The bread pudding was the better of the two although neither one blew me away.
Things I left knowing:
Crustacean is very expensive (I spent $40 anyway and should have just splurged for the dungeness crab).
They have a secret kitchen with a secret menu (obviously not so secret anymore).
Crustacean is good but in my opinion not worth all the money (unless you are spending it all on garlic noodles.)
It seems like every other recipe request I see at work is for kale salad so this week we experimented with a few. Above is a photo of the kale salad with winter squash. The butternut squash can stand alone but is still a positive addition to this kale recipe. Recipe published here. The key to a good kale salad is massage. No, really. I had no idea that just massaging the kale with a little salt and oil breaks it down to a soft and silky consistency. There is no need for cooking and this tough and bitter vegetable becomes a great base for a salad.
The LA Times Kale Salad with Butternut Squash:
For the squash:
1 pound section of butternut squash, unpeeled (preferably the thinner neck)
2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about ¼ cup loosely packed)
For the salad:
1 pound kale
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise into quarters, then seed and remove any of the stringy center. Cut the pieces crosswise into slices a little thicker than one-fourth inch. Place the squash in a large mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, the thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat well. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss again.
2. Line a jellyroll pan with metal foil and arrange the squash wedges in a single layer. Roast until the squash is tender, fragrant and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. Remove and discard the stems from the kale. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Grab the leaves by the handfuls and massage them roughly. Don’t be timid. After a minute or two, the coarse, stiff leaves will turn soft and silky. You’ll have about half the volume of kale you started with. Add the sherry vinegar and toss well. Season to taste with more salt and vinegar if necessary.
4. Arrange the greens in a low mound on individual serving plates or on a platter. Scatter the cooled squash pieces over the top. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and serve.