Archive | April, 2011

Get your Matzah Brei on…

26 Apr

So I realize I am a few hours late for my One Delish Dish shout out to Passover and all of its culinary delights, but I’m hopeful that my tasty twist on Matzah Brei can be enjoyed at anytime of the year.  Among the Gefilte fish, bitter herbs and zero-yeast policy, Passover isn’t typically known as the holiday filled with amazing cuisine.  However, my close friend and fellow “Jewish-insider,” Jonathan Cohen, told me that Matzah Brei is the way to go during Passover – well, that and Matzah pizza, but I could never deal with a dough-less pizza.  That’s just not happening, I love a good dough a little too much.

Matzah Brei is an easy, healthier alternative to quiche that’s super tasty when spiced up a bit.  It’s basically softened matzah that is mixed with eggs and either made into a frittata-type cake or broken up into pieces.  It can be prepared in a savory style (served with meat, onions, chives and/or sour cream), or a sweet style (served with cinnamon, sugar and jam).  Since I would pick a cheeseburger over a cupcake any day, I chose to go the more savory route.  They key is to make it as crispy as possible on the outside (without charring it of course).

To make this you need:

– 4 or 5 pieces of matzah

– 4 eggs

– about 10 finely chopped chives

– 1/4 cup of fried onions (either freshly fried or dehydrated)

– salt and pepper to taste

– 2 teaspoons of garlic powder

– 1 tablespoon of butter

– 3 strips of turkey bacon, chopped into small pieces

– one large dollop of sour cream

avocado slices

Preparation:  In a large bowl, break the matzah into bite-sized pieces, then pour hot water over them (enough to cover).  As soon as the matzah is soft, drain out the excess water.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.  Then add the eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and chopped chives to the softened matzah, mix and set aside.  Heat the butter in the frying pan and fry the chopped turkey bacon.  When the turkey bacon is crispy, pour the egg/matzah mixture over it and let the mixture cook over medium heat.  I prefer to cook this like a frittata, so allow it brown and crisp on one side, then carefully flip it either by hand or with a spatula.  After both sides are crisped, slide it onto a plate and top it off with some sour cream, avocado slices and fresh chives.  You can either cut it up and serve it like a quiche, or simply dig in with a fork.  Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner…and of course, don’t forget the Tapatio!


 

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Finally tasted the elusive Gjelina – worth the wait

12 Apr

So here lies the long-awaited Gjelina verdictit was an amazingly savory and scrumptious dining experience.  The restaurant has a modern, yet warm feeling to it, mainly comprised of wood and brick decor and dimly lit antique light fixtures.  There are distressed wooden tables inside and a cozy courtyard out back (complete with lap blankets and heaters for people like me who are freezing if it’s under 75 degrees out).  The space has a lot of great character, the service was good, and the FOOD, ohhhhh the food…

Just to be clear, if I could have gotten a sample platter that consisted of everything on the menu I would have done so in a heartbeat.   The dinner menu was a mixture of Italian, French, and to my delight, even some North African cuisine.  It was beyond difficult to narrow things down, but here’s the breakdown of what we feasted on:

Salad – Grilled asparagus, frisee, pancetta vinaigrette, topped with a crispy fried egg and parmesan shavings

“Vegetable” – Salt and pepper fries with romesco and aioli dipping sauce (I know, a fried potato is a sad attempt at ordering a vegetable side, but they were irresistibly perfect!)

Charcuterie – Jidori chicken liver pate w/spicy greens, balsamic & grilled bread

Main Plates

  • Pizza w/Gruyere, caramelized onion, fromage blanc & arugula
  • Pork Meatballs braised in tomato and red wine w/parmesan & grilled bread

Everything we had was beyond amazing, but I’d have to say my top two faves were the chicken pate and the braised meatballs.  The flavors in each dish came together effortlessly and left you hoping for just one more bite…

Also big hits that I will be sure to order during my next visit:

  • Braised artichokes w/burrata, mint-pistachio pesto & crispy shallots
  • Mussels w/spicy chorizo, confit tomato, white wine & grilled bread
  • Braised chickpeas with greens, cous cous, harissa & spiced yogurt
  • Grilled housemade Merguez (North African spicy lamb sausage) w/sauerkraut, red onion, caraway & mustard
  • Mitake mushroom toast w/creme fraiche & truffle oil

Gjelina’s chef/owner, Travis Lett, has had an appreciation for organic and locally grown produce years before it was fashionable among the LA masses. Gjelina’s menu incorporates Lett’s long-standing belief that creating dishes based on seasonal availability and only the freshest ingredients will result in happy customers and a highly successful restaurant.  Alongside co-owner Fran Camaj, Lett opened Gjelina less than 3 years ago in late 2008.  It has since been featured in Vogue, was awarded 2nd best new restaurant by Los Angeles Magazine and has 4 stars on Yelp with nearly 800 reviews.

I’m ecstatic that this place didn’t stay a secret for long among Venice locals and LA foodies, and I will definitely be back for the tantalizing Gjelina experience very soon!

   Gjelina ~ 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd ~ Venice, CA ~ (310) 450-1429

Mmmm…tequila and tacos at El Carmen

7 Apr

This place is one of my favorite spots in LA.  El Carmen is an unassuming tequila bar/restaurant tucked away on 3rd st. in the Mid-City West area.  The entrance is just a plain door with a small awning and an old neon sign above it, but the tacos, insane tequila selection and Mexican wrestler decor make El Carmen stand out above the rest.  Their bar has every kind of tequila imaginable, complete with a tequila sampler and a novel-size list of margaritas.  My personal faves are the jalapeno and the cilantro-ginger margaritas, but the pomegranate and blood orange margaritas are also really tasty and popular.

 This place is great for happy hour, a light dinner or also for drunken munchies (since the kitchen is open late).  The menu has a variety of options like nachos, ceviche and flautas, but I have a soft spot for their carnitas taco, the chicken enchiladas, and the sweet corn tamale.  At $4.25 for one carne asada taco, I wouldn’t classify this place as the absolute cheapest in town, but they use quality meat and the unique art and music filled ambiance is a lot of fun and definitely can’t be found elsewhere.

          8138 W. 3rd St ~ Los Angeles, CA 90048 ~ (323) 852-1552

Please adopt me Tony Bourdain!

3 Apr

Bourdain’s No Reservations trip to Vietnam where he discovers some Cao Lao to die for and feasts on an amazing Banh Mi

For those of you that don’t already know of my minor obsession…for me, Anthony Bourdain is the ultimate bad ass chef and food connoisseur.  He is an author and world-traveler with an honest, unbridled passion for food and cooking.  Bourdain went from working in seafood restaurants in college, to running some of the greatest restaurant kitchens in New York City. Nowadays, Bourdain mainly focuses on his show, No Reservations, where he travels to far off lands and immerses himself in the history, customs and cuisines of the locals.  Whether he is writing, cooking, traveling or chowing down on some good eats, Bourdain always stays true to his dynamic convictions regarding life and cooking, and above all, the man can spot quality cuisine anywhere in the world.

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