Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Cooks Library

A few weeks ago while at Borders, I was thumbing through one of the countless cooking magazines and stumbled across a list of the top ten cook book stores. I was excited to find one right in backyard! The Cooks Library was everything I dreamed of and more! Located on W 3rd blocks from Beverly Hills, it sits quietly waiting for those who find it to come in, sit down and take your time looking through their impressive inventory of everything related to food and cooking. The manager Tim was extremely helpful answering my questions and offering me what would become coveted space on the nearby couch to review my perspective purchases.

My love affair with cook books (and cooking) came from my grandmother...Mildred. Just the name tells you she was a salt of the earth woman. She would stand at the door, as if to say "I've been waiting for you", cleaned and presses apron on and insist you sit down as she promised to "fix you a little something". I would spend every weekend I could with her. My grandpa would retreat to the garage while she and I got busy in the kitchen. I must have been 5 or 6, she'd tie a dish towel around my waste and pull a chair up to the stove so I could add the salt, or stir the pot. She gave me my first cook book The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking. It's signed "To the sweetest granddaughter a Gram could ever want. Cook! Eat!! Enjoy!!!" 5-13-85. It's beat up, stained and barely held by it's binding, but it's one of most treasured possessions.

The Cooks Library reminds me of a place she would love. As I snap out of my fog I notice the store is hoppin. Two women are patiently waiting, books in hand for my coveted space on the couch. I just finished Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits and was looking for a new read. My friend @ Chubby Panda recommended
The United States of Arugula, and I found an interesting cook book Salt and Pepper. Those will do for today.

Next time your in L.A., check out this gem. Get there when they open, find a few books and settle in on the couch. This could be addicting!


8373 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
866-340-COOK (866-340-2665)

Store hours:
Monday 1 - 5pm
Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 6pm
Closed Sundays

Cook! Eat!! Enjoy!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm back....

I me. I feel like a pathetic blogger (or ex-blogger) with not posting since Dec., but things really have been that busy for me.

I got married Feb. 18th on Maui! It was stunning. We decided to take all that dough ($$$) we would have spent on a celebration here, and spent it on a celebration there. Just the two of was perfect.
We got married at Makena Cove and as you can see, it was a beautiful day. It was one wonderful week, everyday was like summer. We stayed at the Four Seasons and spent most of our time lounging by the pool doing absolutely nothing. It was perfect.

Where did we eat? Let me tell you what left us un impressed this trip. Roy's in Kihei. It was extra disappointing since this is one of Mike's favorite places. The atmosphere was drab, unlike the other lcoations we've been to in Fashion Island or on the other Hawaiian Islands. It was located in a strip mall, with an extremely dated interior. We order steak and seafood both of which were very 'common'. The quality of the steak was poor and again all very common, especially for the price (inflated Hawaiian price at that).

Mike and I both love to eat and try new places so he researched the web and found The General Store. The interior was nice, somewhat of a Hawaiian plantation feel. Plenty of local art displayed, but again the food did not match my expectations after reading reviews. Lunch for 2, $85. Just about then Mike and I were wishing we'd headed back to a favorite plate lunch joint. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem paying for a good meal, but I want just that. More often than not, I find that meal at a more local level. The establishment that's been in the family for years, or whatever they serve sends the message that they take pride in what the produce and serve it with a genuine love for what they do.

Spago @ the Four Seasons maybe? We failed to make reservations so no luck. We opted for the Quatro Steakhouse in the Four Seasons. This was the best fine dining decision we'd made. Our steaks were incredible, the service outstanding, and Maui provided us with another beautiful night to dine outside.

When lounging at the pool ordering margarita's, we had these incredible Kalua Pork Casadias The meat was tender and smokey and the margarita's paired perfectly. I've got to make a batch of those at home!

Still, it was my honeymoon and I was not in the 'blog, picture taking' state of mind. I have found that I miss this....writing about what I like and reading what you're chewing on. So with that said...I'm back.

Hope all is well for everyone out there and glad to be back. Keep writing...I'm reading!

Let's eat!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Casa De Liquid Muse!

I know....once again it's been to long between posts and I have no other excuse than being butt kickin busy.

A couple of weeks ago I get an exciting! It's from The Liquid I'm thrilled!! Cocktails with the girls at her place. This was my lucky day!!! Check out her book deal (yeah!), cocktail recipes, and local happenings!!!

I've been lucky enough to meet up with several O.C. Food bloggers; Chubby Panda and Monster Munching to name a couple. I million things go through my head before we meet for the first time. What do
they look like, are they funny, will we have a good time? I have yet to be disappointed! Charming, funny and a great time is what I walk away with.

I am flattered to be asked to someones home. What an intimate and gracious gesture! As I approached the door, it opened with a warm "You must be Deb!" and a big hug. We got right down to business and poured glasses of champagne. I like this girl! As the other ladies continued to stream in and introductions made, I felt like I was with a group of girlfriends catching up.

The food was wonderful. A beautiful "Oh it's sooo simple" salmon fillet was nestled between brie & blue cheeses. Wonderfully crisp flatbread was waiting to be layered with the delicious items one plate over. come the most delicious things are the simplest? I love hummus....who am I kidding... I love just about everything! ;) The 'closer' was chocolate covered Fortune Cookies and more great conversation.

This is truly the time of year to embrace our gifts. Friends (new and old), time well spent (slow down) and open that bottle of wine you've been saving! Now is the best time to drink it!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Break of Dawn

A few weeks ago I met up with some of my favorite fellow food bloggers from O.C. Food Blogs for breakfast @ Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills. As soon as I receive the e-vite from Chubby Panda, I knew I was in for a treat!

Chef Dee Nguyen (formerly of the Ritz-Carlton) set up shop in a small Laguna Hills shopping center just off the 5 freeway and El Toro. Break of Dawn is a much over due breakfast alternative to Coco's and Mimi's. The small but airy interior reflects a sense of what I call 'Asian calm'. Inspirational writings grace the walls, reflecting his love of food and his joy in preparing it.

There was a good turn out and I love it. New friends and great conversation as I anxiously wait to see what everyone orders. That's half the fun I think....did they get something I wouldn't have given a second thought to? How was it prepared and what's in it? Is it good???? With Elmo from Monster Munching sitting right across from me, I knew I'd be good for one bite of his dish!

Elmo ordered Corned Beef with Sweet Potato Hash, Tarragon Braised Cabbage, Two Poached Eggs and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce. was delicious.

I landed on the Smoked Salmon & Egg: Oatmeal Galette, Herb Poached Eggs, Marinated Tomato & Preserved Lemon-Caper Emulsion. The eggs were not overpowered by the salmon (which I find with most salmon/egg combination dishes) and the lemon caper sauce complimented everything beautifully.

The menu offered an impressive selection of dishes without leaving me overwhelmed with choices. Open for breakfast and lunch, it's a welcome change from the bland and boring fare we are all to willing to ingest and call a meal.

The Flaky Puff Pastry with artichoke & roasted tomato puree, poached eggs, black forest ham, portobello cream and white truffle essence demands that I return. Who am I to say no? Get there.

Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota #N-6
Laguna Hills, Ca. 92653

Monday, October 22, 2007


While cruising the web I've searched for an Orange County Slow Food convivia and finally hit gold! I sent them an e-mail and received a reply with a potluck invitation to boot! This was my lucky day!! Bring your best "Fall Harvest" side dish, they'll provide the sausages and great company. I'm in....

I head back to the Internet to find a recipe describing itself as 'authentically' German, and found Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Pie). I decide to cook a pie on Saturday to make sure it's 'worthy'. I figured if it wasn't a success, the chances of my teenage sons devouring it were pretty good. Saturday's pie was beautiful. The crust was substantial and was more 'biscuit like' than standard crust. Better to hold the caramelized onions and bacon I think!

Onion Pie
Title: Zwiebelkuchen
Servings: 8

1 pk Yeast; Active Dry
1 t Sugar
1 1/2 t Salt
3 c Unbleached Flour
1 T Shortening
1 c Water; 120 to 130 Degrees F.
6 Bacon; Slices, Cut Up
2 Onions; Medium, Sliced
1/4 t Cumin
1/2 t Salt
Pepper; As Desired
1 Egg Yolk
1 c Sour Cream

Mix yeast, sugar, 1 t salt, and 1/2 cup flour. Blend in shortening and warm water. Beat for 2 minutes. Add enough flour to make a soft dough.
Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a
lightly greased bowl. Cover and let dough rise in a warm place 1/2 hour.
Pat dough into a lightly greased 12-inch pizza pan or onto a lightly
greased baking sheet. Press up edges to make a slight rim.

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from grease and drain on absorbent paper. Add onions to bacon grease; cook slowly until tender and caramelized.

Sprinkle onion,bacon, cumin, 1/2 t salt and pepper over dough. Bake at 400 Degrees F.for 20 minutes.

Brush crust with little yolk & water.Blend egg yolk and sour cream. Pour over onions. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until golden brown and sour cream is set.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Yum! We're good to go for Sunday!

I duplicate my success on Sunday, or so I thought! My pie looked beautiful, but since I cooked it earlier in the morning and refrigerated it, I re-heated it for 30 min @ 300 degrees. The result, a crust too hard to cut. The topping was delicious, but I needed the 2 glasses of wine I had just to cut through it! Don't you love wine?! Note to self, next time, don't re-heat, or consider a puff pastry crust. Hmmm....puff pastry sounds good. Next time!

As I gathered my empty dish and I said my good byes, I was grateful for a wonderful evening under the stars in beautiful Laguna Beach with such a welcoming & gracious group of people. It's not hard to live well. Connect with people that are passionate about food, drink and life. They'll show you how. Does it get any better??? Thank you!

Let's eat!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cocktail anyone?

A good cocktail and something wonderful to eat. I'm challenged to think of anything better. My favorite mixology blogger Natalie, over at The Liquid Muse has something fun going...Mixology Monday's, or Mix Mo. She and her mixologist friends are taking turns hosting this new Monday event (who better than Natalie, right??)and this Monday it's all her.

First off, let me come clean with my lack of experience of what cocktail pairs best with what dish….I just know what I like. Is that a crime??

My favorite food/meal/cocktail pairing is an easy one. I like my cocktails straighforward, my food reliable. That makes it easy...a big bone in ribeye, (medium rare), lobster mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus with lemon and butter, followed by a good single malt scotch.

Let’s just say that’s my favorite way to ‘get down to business”’. ;)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Elephant Delicatessen- Portland

With most of my business travel over, I can now start back to posting. And I'm behind! Mike and I visited Elephant Delicatessen in Portland about 2 months ago and I have to say it's shaping up to be a favorite. I love the small food stations, that can accommodate whatever my taste may be for the day. Brick oven pizza, soothing soups, unique and classic sandwiches, pasta, coffee and yes....even cocktails! Place your order directly with the chef at each respective station then keep an eye out to pick it up. Not only is the food great, but the store is an epicureans dream to browse.The wine selection, the cases of prepared food & the deli case are screaming "come see".

The cheese case if phenomenal! Yes... I am a cheese hound. Andrew, the General Manager can be found behind the counter and is more than happy to to share his love for good food with samples from their case.The meats are all right there...making it easy (or hard) to pick what you'll be taking home!

I'm a staunch believer in good food. Be careful not to confuse this with expensive food. I mean fresh, high quality, simple and flavorful. Can it be expensive? You bet, but then wouldn't it be nicer to have a little bit of the best rather than a lot of mediocre? A little bit of the best, now that's living!

After my browsing, Mike and I were ready to order. Mike went for the Fish and Chips while I chose the Croque Monsieur sandwich with a side or their wild mushroom soup.Delish!

The baked goods, including breads are amazing. Their simple (but obviously delicious) Cowboy Cookies seem to be Mike's favorite.

With a menu that gives you choices like the Willamette Valley Salad with mixed greens, Oregon hazelnuts, bleu cheese, crispy Northwest apple slices & grapes, tossed with Elephants Own raspberry vinaigrette dressing or Picnic baskets and cheese trays to go, and catering to boot there's no excuse not to enjoy fine food.
You gotta go!

Elephant Delicatessen
115 NW 22nd Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97210