Fresh Baked Bread at 9:45am Cailifornia Time

Fresh baked bread just out of the oven. The one on the right is kalamata olive bread. On the left is crusty white bread. The crust turned out really well. There are a few dark spots which give it some character.

I am bringing it to my business partner. We are looking at a few sites in San Gabriel Valley and are hoping to get a restaurant opened in the next few months. Keep you posted.

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French Macarons

For the last two days Anne and I have been trying to bake French Macarons. We are a long ways from getting it, but here is our first one photographed beside a short espresso.

The macaron did not puff up like it should. Although it was shiny and crisp on the outside. We will try again.

Chives

What’s the big deal with chives and why do people like them so much on their baked potatoes? I spent 22 years working for a steakhouse in Los Angeles. We specialized in prime rib and big steaks. We served rib eyes, top sirloins, fillet mignon, New York strips and tri-tips. We accompanied these steaks with a starch and the most popular as you can imagine was baked potatoes. Our baked potatoes were really good. We brushed them with canola oil and sprinkled them kosher salt. They baked for about an hour and when they were done the skin was nice and crisp. There was almost a shine to them.

I learned the key to a great baked potato after just a few days on the job. It’s all about how you cut it. Most people at home will slice the potato right down the middle leaving two perfectly smooth discs. When you put butter on them it slides right off and onto the plate.

We opened the potato using a fork. We made a crisscross pattern lengthwise and then pushed slightly on the sides. The potato opened like a flower and the fluffy potato inside resembled the peaks of a mountain. The butter seeped in drenching the potato.

Back to the chives. Everyone always had chives on potatoes. I had never seen them used for anything else. They smell really nice and I have learned recently that they’re great in a salad. I don’t eat too many baked potatoes. I am trying to appear healthy.

I have some chives growing in a pot in the back. I recently added some compost to the chives and they have taken off. They are green as can be and seem to be shooting right up to the blue sky above.

I know I won’t use them for a baked potato and when they are plentiful I will figure out what to do. Any suggestions.

Lunch Today

Anne and I are going crazy with simple salads for lunch. we are trying to eat healthy and at the same time come up with some new ideas and recipes.

Anne made a lentil salad with radishes, tomatoes, fennel, fresh cilantro from a pot outside our door and roasted red peppers. I added just a little balsamic and olive oil to dress it. It was terrific and easy. She used canned lentils to save on time. The lentils were firm and held up well in the salad. Sometimes lentils can be very mushy.

I made a watercress and celery root salad with red wine vinaigrette and freshly grated Parmesan cheese . This salad looked a little better than it tasted. It needed a more flavor.

Raw Beets?

As a kid the only beets I came in contact with were the ones in a can. They were deep purple and stacked neatly in the tin. I could never eat them. I didn’t like the taste or the texture. When I got them in my mouth I would get that strong urge to spit them up. My parents were pretty cool and they never forced me to eat my beets. Maybe they didn’t like them much either.

Over the last few years I have developed a fondness for beets. I love them when juiced with apples, carrots and lemon. I like them roasted, peeled, diced and tossed in a salad. I like them paired with cheese and drizzled with a light dressing.

Today I tried something a little different. I made a raw beet salad with orange segments and fresh mint. I sliced the beets as thin as I could with my chef knife. It would have been better had I used a mandoline, but I don’t have one. I cut off the peel of an orange and cleanly removed the segments. I then place them in a white bowl and and squeezed the juice of another orange over the beets and oranges. I drizzled red wine vinegar and olive oil on top and then seasoned the salad with kosher salt and pepper. I got a few mint leaves from the garden to garnish the plate.

I was really surprised on good the salad was. The beets were really crunchy and the fresh orange juice added just enough sweetness.

Next time I will use a mandoline for an even thinner cut.

Seamus O’Conner’s Espresso Bar

Seamus O’Conner’s Mobile Espresso Bar will be up and running soon. My addiction to espresso has gotton so bad that I have decided to invest in my own move able espresso bar. That way I can take it anywhere I like and I am assured of a quality espresso with lots of crema like the ones I enjoy in Italy.

Sounds a little absurd I know, but if you have an event coming up and would like to provide your guest with a REAL coffee alternative let me know. Ciao.

The Mad Search for Zucchini Flowers

Yesterday I made pizzas for a party of 25 in Beverly Hills. The client’s(Amy) one specific request was for pizza with zucchini flowers and burratta cheese like they make at Mozza. She said her husband was a big fan.

The burratta cheese was no problem I get it from the same place everyone in LA gets it from Gioia Cheese Company in El Monte. The zucchini flowers are a different story. I have only seen them in two farmer’s market in LA, the Culver City farmer’s market and the Hollywood farmer’s market.

Zucchini flowers are definitely seasonal and usually are not available until late spring, but I saw them in Culver City in December which amazed me. When I asked the vendor about zucchini flowers in December he said they’re grown year round in San Diego. With this being said I thought that I would have no problem zipping over to the Hollywood farmer’s market on the way to the event to pick up some.

My brain must have been snoozing when I told Amy that it would be no problem getting the zucchini flowers. I had forgotten that yesterday was the LA marathon and the Hollywood Farmer’s market is in the middle of the marathon. What was I thinking????

At 11:00am yesterday I found myself with my son Patrick on Cahuenga Blvd walking about 8 blocks, zigzagging through traffic and cutting in front of marathoners to get to the farmer’s market. Only to find after walking up and down the rows of stalls that the vendor, the one and only vendor who sells zucchini flowers, was not there. He probably stayed home because there was too much traffic.
I asked other vendors and their reply was “It’s too early- zucchini flowers are available in May.” They gaveĀ  me a look like I was stupid to think I could find Zucchini flowers this soon.

Amy understood completely and I think her husband was more than satisfied with the mixed medley of mushrooms with thyme and mozzarella cheese.

The hands in the photo are of my friend Anna from La Vecchia Quercia ristorante in Italy. She is preparing the zucchini flowers to be stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella cheese which she will then lightly batter and deep fry.

Green Olives

I love Whole Foods, but I don’t shop there very often for a couple of reasons. Number one their food is expensive and number two I ALWAYS buy more than I intended to. I guess it’s because it looks so damn good. I have to admit they do a great job making everything look so appealing.

The one item I love is their olives. They have a huge selection and some that are a bit difficult to find in other stores. Again, I don’t but them very often because they are $9.99 a pound, but I am baking pizza Sunday for a party and I want some of these super green olives. I don’t even know the correct name of the olives, but I just love them.

I did tinker with the shot so they are greener in the photograph.

Converse Allstars

As a boy growing up in Chicago and then outside Chicago I wore Converse Allstars. Sometimes low cut, but most often I wore high tops. I wore them so much that by the time I got a new pair nothing was left. I remember on one occasion my father took me for a pair and I was still wearing the worn out ones. They were maroon with very gray shoelaces. The soles were gone and the heel of the shoes had a big hole in the back. I could feel the pavement through the shoes. They not only looked bad, but they stunk terribly. Mainly because I wore them without socks. I would tie the shoelaces half way so I could slide them on and off real easy. When we got to the store the salesman wanted no part of us. He probably smelled me coming through the door.

I continued to wear Converse Allstars all the way through college. I don’t think I owned another pair of shoes. I had no where special to go so had no need for fancy shoes.

After college I stopped wearing Converse Allstars. I started a career that now required fancy shoes and the Allstars never would have made it with my dress pants. I found cooler Nike hiking type shoes to wear on my days off and pretty much abandoned the idea of wearing any type of athletic shoe(Especially white ones. Yikes). By this time in my life I thought they were uncool.

Recently I have become unemployed which has given me a bit of freedom. I got my other ear pierced. Thought about a tattoo but was persuaded against it by my loving wife and I bought my first pair of Convers Allstars in probably 20 years. They are black high tops and they feel terrific. It’s funny they feel exactly like they did 40 years ago. (I can’t believe I wrote that. Did I write 40 years ago? I must be bloody old) I feel like I got nothing on my feet. Like my soles are just gliding along the ground. I feel like I do when I drive in one of those really small British cars when you are so low to the ground you feel like your butt’s almost going to touch it.

i think the shoes look a little funny on a 48 year old man. I notice that people kinda snicker when I walk by especially the kids. The other thing I notice is that I walk funny, really funny like a little boy without a care in the world. I saw myself in the window today when I was buying cupcakes for my son and I said “Man that guy looks funny”

I guess that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with looking funny every once in a while. I even think it might be cool.

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