Located on Broadway and Hill between 2nd and 3rd, The Grand Central Market reflects the changes sweeping over Downtown Los Angeles. Long before farmers markets appeared all over LA, the Grand Central Market provided the Downtown community with fresh food at affordable prices.
The shoppers who filled the aisles, bought fresh produce, fruit, fish, meat and poultry. Freshly made tortillas traveled down a conveyer belt where they were stacked in plastic bags and sold still warm in the open-air tortilla factory that once stretched along the southern wall close to Broadway.
The Market specialized in health products, fresh fruit juices, herbal teas and homeopathic remedies from around the world. And where there are shoppers, they will be places to eat. Dozens of stalls sold Mexican tacos, enchiladas, ceviche, whole lobsters, plates of fried fish and shrimp in the shell. Anyone who needed an old-school Chinese-American food fix could eat at China Cafe and Broadway Express.
Today, many of the vendors have been at the Market for generations. On the Broadway side next to the floor-to-ceiling Grand Central Liquor, you can't walk by Las Morelianas without being offered a taste of their delicious roast pork inside a freshly made mini-tortilla. A personal favorite, to the moist meat I add mounds of pickled onions and carrots, chopped raw onions and cilantro and a liberal dousing of green chili sauce all freshly made.
Row 34 is party central for non-stop oysters. It's the place for shrimp, lobster rolls, ceviche, Cape littlenecks, pâtés of trout and bluefish, and mussels with fried green tomatoes. Drink? 25 beers from the tap plus 40 more locked up in bottles. Most popular: Trillium's Congress Street pale ale. I see one guy knifing his way into a flat iron steak and really, why not? It's a party. All the hoopla? Well deserved.
Row 34 is born of oysters and beer. High ceilings yield clamor but after all, it is a "workingman's oyster bar." It's Monday and a good thing we reserved. Roseanna and I have hot stuff: for her, Maine crab cake with a tall Ipswich Ale Brewery's Celia Saison. For me, citrus-glazed salmon atop pickled cucumber and fennel. Both preparations are spot-on. Sadly, no sides; won't someone would throw me fries? Dessert: it's a flaky strawberry rhubarb pie that's been fried, really, with a side of white chocolate anglaise: milk, cream, eggs, sugar, white chocolate and vanilla. We can't imagine anyone would pass it up.
Come for oysters, stay for the chilled lobster and smoked everything: salmon, rillette, scallop, shrimp and uni toast. Roseanna's half lobster appetizer pops out of its sea-poached shell. Ethel, who makes them for Island Creek Oyster Bar too, knows her way around lobster rolls she plates with slaw and chips. She puts them up two ways: warm, on buttered rolls, and chilled. Lobster rolls are an endless neurotic contest right now on the East Coast. I'm sure she will understand if you can't make up your mind.
It’s back to school and that means bag lunches. Or maybe like me, you don’t have school age kids, but still want to start packing lunch to take to work. It’s easy to get in a rut, but these three cookbooks offer many ways to jazz up your lunchbox.
The Banh Mi Handbook is the latest book from Andrea Nguyen. In the past she has written about Vietnamese food, dumplings and tofu, perhaps convincing you to make your own. But I had to wonder, when I can get a terrific banh mi sandwich for just a couple bucks, would I want to make my own? The answer is YES because Nguyen goes well beyond what you might find at a Vietnamese sandwich shop.
What I absolutely love the most about this book in addition to the versatility is the focus on ease and simplicity. There are lots of shortcuts and no shame if you choose to buy bread or mayonnaise or doctor some liverwurst to make a tasty pate. The book offers the basics and traditional recipes for fixings like carrot and daikon pickles, headcheese terrine and Chinese barbecue pork but also offers tons of non-traditional options too to keep things interesting. Go vegetarian with coconut curry tofu or an edamame pate. I know I’ll be making the warm sardine and tomato sauce sandwich and the oven fried chicken katsu. These are sandwiches that will make your mouth water!
School has barely started yet and the requests and the obligations are already starting. I am not complaining. I love to do and give. I am the first to respond to the emails offering my services. However, I am wondering where the time goes. Didn’t the kids just get out of school? Didn’t we just begin 12 weeks of lazy days, biking at the beach, basketball in the back yard and staying up late playing Apples to Apples and Bananagrams? Oh, how I am going to miss these long, lazy days of summer.
It is now time to return to packing lunches, the morning rush, the dreaded homework, racing to all the after school, extracurricular activities and driving, driving and more driving. This past week was jam packed. I think I spent almost everyday in the kitchen. I somehow managed to survive.
This torte was the last thing on my very long list. Our school has a tradition of welcoming the teachers and the staff back to school with an appreciation lunch. Nothing says “back to school” like Peanut, butter, and jelly” and this torte was may way of saying, I appreciate all that you do for our community and my children.
I love this cake. I think of it as a dessert for a minor event, like when a couple of girlfriends come over for dinner or I’m celebrating an insignificant birthday, say, turning forty-three. (Okay, fine, so that happened a while ago.)
This recipe is easy and vey forgiving. I am a crabby cook, which is to say that after preparing a couple of courses I am often in a high state of irritability when faced with creating a third, as in dessert.
Once, when making this cake in a fit of impatience, I threw all the wet ingredients in a food processor, even the milk, which actually requires a more gentle, gradual entry. After I hurled in the flour mixture, the batter looked like something you use to make sidewalks but it all turned out beautifully.
I made this one with plums (which I bought way too many of at the Farmer’s Market) but you can use other fruit—peaches, pears, whatever. And if you have any patience left (I didn’t), make some whipped cream to go with it.
Last Saturday a friend and I spent some time traveling the bike trail between Hackensack and Nisswa. Just before we reached Backus, we came upon a bike parked along the side of the trail. I noticed a man picking something from the ditch. As we continued on, I spotted some wild blackberries growing right along side the trail.
My biking partner and I stopped to pick a few, popping the sweet plump berries right into our mouths. We decided to backtrack a bit to visit with the man we had seen picking. His big plastic ice cream bucket was half filled with berries. As we visited, another male voice came from the other side of the trail. He was also busy picking, with a big bowl almost full of berries. Both men said they would be making some jam with the berries, saving some to crown big scoops of vanilla ice cream.
With summer drawing to a close, I'm still not ready to say goodbye. My garden, though less productive, has a lot of vegetables that are still ripening. But, alas, the cooler weather and shorter days will bring an end to summer's bounty. But with all the beautiful late summer produce that's currently available at farmers' markets, like squash, peppers, tomatoes, and more, there's a lot of summery cooking that can still be done.
Take the opportunity to make a tomato sauce, a soup, saute or stir-fry. I love stir-frying because it's such a fun and easy method for cooking up a meal quickly. Plus you can pack it with vegetables. For this summer stir-fry, I use zucchini, bell peppers, and oyster mushrooms. And one of my favorite herbs, Thai basil, makes an aromatic and flavorful addition. What could be a better dish for using up summer vegetables than this?
With Thai flavors, much like Pad Thai, I use sweet tamarind paste and savory fish sauce to flavor the dish. Soy sauce, garlic, and ginger round out the flavor profile. It's all served over rice noodles. But there's one thing to keep in mind. The secret to a well-made stir-fry is cooking the dish in smaller portions so that everything stays crisp instead of steaming under the weight of a full wok of vegetables. Take a few minutes to toss together this healthy and colorful dish. You won't be let down by these summer flavors.
I don't know where I went wrong. Three years of high school French and one graduate school semester of reading French, and I can still barely string together an intelligible sentence. C'est terrible! I have accepted the fact that a French pre-schooler could speak circles around me, but as long as I can say some words, like aubergine, I'm content.
Aubergine doesn't look or sound anything like its English counterpart "eggplant." But, oh, how I wish it did. Let's be honest, could there be a less appealing name than "eggplant"? I mean, it's not an egg or a plant. Plus, phonetically, it's just not pleasing; it's harsh and flat. Aubergine, however, flows elegantly out of one's mouth. I daresay it's almost too attractive a word for the vegetable is signifies. (In botanical terms, an eggplant is actually a fruit, but it's cooked and eaten like a vegetable).
Fortunately I'm mature enough to look beyond such petty issues and appreciate eggplant's attributes. A heavy, firm, eggplant with a glossy purple-black skin borders on the regal. And its flesh, though just an unassuming off-white color, becomes enticingly rich and creamy when cooked. Like a chameleon, eggplant has the ability to transform itself: when grilled, it is appetizingly smoky flavored and tender; when fried, it is irresistibly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
This June, we sold our Lambert’s Cove home in Martha’s Vineyard, and now, it's August, and we find ourselves across the Island in an enchanting ship captain’s home (yes, it has a Widow’s Walk) on Tower Hill overlooking Edgartown Harbor. Goodbye Breathtaking Sunsets – Hello Gentle Sunrises!
Being in someone else’s home with so many personal touches is a new experience for me, and it has taken me at least two weeks before I began the exploration of personal effects: Family photos of towheaded children proudly displaying recently caught fish, water colors from local artist, Ray Ellis (who at one time owned the house), ship models, A 12 foot Herreshoff and Boston Whaler anchored by their pier, 19th Century Currier and Ives prints – one of which is too current for comfort! - and hundreds of Noah’s Arks seen in toys, rugs, chairs, paintings and sculptures. Its’ ghosts speak of wondrously happy summer days and Scrabble/Monopoly nights!
Summer fruits and veggies start coming in this mid to late summertime heat. Often, it is not just a lil’ bit of ‘maters or peaches or squash – it’s a bushel and a peck! Blackberries for us are one of those crops. We have stands of wild blackberries down the dirt roads and edges of the woods on our property that fill our baskets with berries and, in turn, give us all sorts of blackberry delights!
From cobblers and crisps to jams and salads, we have found many an excuse to devour blackberries. Aunt Kathy, with her astute culinary prowess, makes these blackberry muffins that we all clamor and beg for during berry season. The whole wheat flour is heartier and holds up better, since the muffins are laden with berries. A citrus sauce makes for the perfect glaze, and I have found that I love citrus with blackberry any ol’ time!
My sister has been making zucchini bread for as long as I can remember – and it’s always been a favorite quick bread, especially in the summer. It’s a great way to use up overgrown zucchini from the garden.
The pineapple adds some nice flavor and makes a nice alternative to raisins. I like to serve it sandwiched together with cream cheese and thinly sliced granny smith apples.
by Alexis Siemons
In hopes of starting the year with a sweet and steeped memory, I hurried into my kitchen to whip up a quick tea–infused treat. Faced with several perfectly ripe pears, chocolate chai tea and whole grain flower (that never made its way into holiday cookies), I decided to give a basic muffin a delicate, tea-infused twist.
The perfect breakfast...Read more...
by Sue Doeden
Several years ago, when I was visiting an out-of-town friend, she served oatmeal in a very interesting way. She told me we were eating breakfast Portland-style. That’s where she had chilled oatmeal for the first time.
She called it Swiss Muesli, which I think of as a wholesome and hearty granola-type cereal. This was different. The night before...Read more...
by Cathy Pollak
What is a guilt-free muffin anyway? I guess that means something different to everyone. Let's face it, muffins do not usually equal health food, but there are ways to make them better for you. A healthier muffin to me means, a little protein and fiber, with a lot less cholesterol causing ingredients and lower in calories.
I am literally shocked...Read more...
by Susan Russo
End of Summer in Edgartown
by Nancy Ellison