Archive for March, 2010

The Little Things

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

with my son Oliver, about to eat an amazing breakfast

I can do so little for my husband and he will thank me. I can make the most thrown together, not interesting mish -mosh of a meal that I haven’t even cooked myself and at the end of that meal, he will not only thank me but HE will clean everything up. That’s what he just said after I threw together some cold chicken that was in the refrigerator. I didn’t even cook that chicken, I picked the thing up at the market yesterday….no, no, no, no, that’s a lie, HE picked it up from the market yesterday, an already fully cooked chicken. I had some side dishes that I picked up today at the Farmers Market. And I did manage to find the left over steamed broccoli and I sautéed it in olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. I told him the truth when I met him. I’m a homeBODY, not a homeMAKER. But I guess since he doesn’t cook, anything he eats is a mystery, a lovely tasting magical mystery. That’s how he acts and I totally understand it. When I woke up this morning, I had an e-mail waiting for me from my son Oliver and I rarely look at the time an e-mail comes in but I did, just curious about how late he stays up. There was one sentence that Oliver wrote. The note read “ when I’m rich I will order a croque-madame at 3:17 am from my personal chef ”.
I thought, I can totally relate, it would be MY “if only I were rich” dream. I would have a private chef.
My husband isn’t THAT gastronomically unlucky because today’s lunch menu was a whole different story. I made pancakes, but not my usual buttermilk pancakes. I love my buttermilk pancakes, the recipe is easy and it always tastes great. When I try other pancake recipes, I am often disappointed. I’m not sure why, but I thought, well today, I will try this other one because it sounded like it could be a good one. It’s not just a good one. It’s great. It’s from a hotel in San Francisco called Campton Place.
I’m just sorry Oliver doesn’t live in L.A. because he’s a big all day breakfast eater and it’s a meal he would have really enjoyed.

Campton Place pancakes recipe
For the Topping (I didn’t make this topping but it sounds amazing)
4 ounces ( Istick) unsalted butter
1 Fuji, Braeburn or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cut, cored and cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup apple cider

For the Pancakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
¼ cup wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Make the Topping Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the apple and sauté until softened and slightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add the cider and cook, stirring for 3 minutes, until the apples are tender and the sauce is slightly thick.
2. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Beat the remaining 6 tablespoons butter until fluffy. Add the apple mixture and stir well to combine. Set aside.

4. Make the pancakes: Sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla and melted butter. Whisk in the flour mixture and combine well, but do not overmix.
5. Heat a griddle until hot. Ladle the batter onto the hot griddle, about 1/3 cup per pancake. The batter should sizzle quietly when it hits the surface. Cook until bubbles break through, a couple of minutes, and turn the pancakes over. Cook for another minute, until the pancakes are nicely browned on both sides. Transfer to plates and serve hot, or if making all at once, keep warm in a low oven. Serve with the apple topping.


Monday, March 15th, 2010

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have me as a mother.  That’s not even true, I am only wondering it right now as I’m about to tell  a having me as a mom story.  So, now yeah, I’m kinda wondering about it.

I’m a big foodie.  Hello? If you’re reading this, you would know that already.  Sometimes I have cravings that just have to be sated.  It could be late at night, so, my kids might be in pajamas, I don’t think I ever woke them up to go on this adventure but it would make the story more fascinating.  But, I like the truth, so here it is.

It would be close to 10:00  at night and the kids  were in pj’s planning on a good nights sleep when I would announce they needed to get “all dressed up” because we were going to Spago for Kaisershmarren.  And MY kids  knew what that meant.  The step-kids will be putting me  and my shenanigans in screenplays and short stories for years to come because of these adventures.   We would all then put our finest clothes on, I would pack up the minivan and head to the fanciest restaurant in Beverly Hills.  We were like the Beverly Hillbillies only sans the newfound money.  Clearly I couldn’t afford to really take them all out to eat at Spago but I never liked the real food there anyway, I love the dessert they have called Kaisershmarren. And if you need “sightings” there really are enough when you arrive at 10:00.  In those days Tony Curtis could be found in the bar area where we were ordering and eating our dessert.

I learned the trick of just ordering dessert in the bar area after I realized all I really love to eat at Spago is the Kaiserchmarren.  I know you’re thinking how many times can I say Kaiserchmarren in one little story.  There is no contest; I just like to say it.

One time, before the famous pastry chef Sherry Yard came out with her book that has the recipe, I was introduced to her.  Sometimes when I’m eating at extremely random great restaurants around the world I run into this guy I know named Andy.  He happens to be married to a famous chef from New York and he is a huge foodie that seems to “know the world”.  He was eating with Sherry Yard this one night , and brought her to my table so I could wax poetic about her talent and well, mainly about my love of Kaiserchmarren.   I didn’t hesitate to ask her for the recipe and she assured me that very soon her cookbook would be published and in it I could find the recipe but that she really shouldn’t give it out until then.  Enjoy the recipe, it took me long to transcribe, it looks too hard for me, so if you are in L. A. I suggest going to Spago and ordering it.emma, barnaby


For the strawberry sauce

2 pounds, 2 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup water

¾ cup fresh orange juice from 3 medium oranges

1 star anise, lightly toasted

1 tablespoon grand marnier

For the pancakes

Softened butter for the pans

9 tablespoons sugar, plus more for dusting the pans

4 egg yolks at room temperature

¼ cup fromage blanc (available at gourmet markets)

¾ cup crème fraiche

2 tablespoons dark rum

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons fat raisins ( I wouldn’t add the raisins and I don’t taste them in it )

8 large egg whites

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup confectioners sugar for dusting

  1. make the strawberry sauce:

set aside 2 cups of strawberries and the 2 tablespoons of sugar In a heavy saucepan, combine the remaining stawberries, the water , the ¾ cup sugar, the orange juice, star anise, and Grand Marnier.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

  1. Remove from the heat and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to infuse for 10 minutes, then remove the plastic and discard the star anise.  Cover with plastic again and allow to sit for 2 hours.
  1. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and set aside, or refrigerate if not using right away.
  1. Make the pancakes:  Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.. Generously butter two 9 or 10 inch 2 inch deep ( recommend pyrex) pie pans or round cake pans.  Add a heaping tablespoon sugar to each pan and tap and turn the pans to dust evenly.  Tap out any excess sugar.
  1. In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until the mixture is light and lemony yellow.  Beat in the fromage blanc and scrape down the bowl and beaters.  Beat in the crème fraiche and rum and scrape down the bowl and beaters.  Beat in the flour and raisins. ( eeuu, I so wouldn’t add those raisins )  Set aside.
  1. In a bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until they foam, then add the cream of tartar.  Turn the speed up to medium and continure to beat while streaming in the remaining 7 tablespoons of sugar, a tablespoon at a time.  Beat the whites to medium stiff peaks.
  1. Whish half the egg whites into the crème fraiche base.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.  Divide the batter between the two pans.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn the pans 180 degrees and bake for another 5-8 minutes, until puffed and brown.  The center should be pudding-like.
  1. Finish the sauce:  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, bring the strawberry sauce to a boil over high heat.  Add the reserved 2 tablespoons sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the reserved 2 cups strawberries and heat through, then divide among the serving plates.
  1. When the pancakes are done, remove from the oven and,  using a serving spoon, divide each one into 6-8 portions.  Place 2 portions on each plate and dust with confectioners sugar.  You can also arrange all the portions on a platter, with the sauce and serve family style.  Serve immediately.