Monday, February 28, 2011


This past weekend we lucked out with the most amazing weather.  The forecast called for a torrential downpour all weekend long, so when I awoke to birds chirping, I realized just how fortunate we are in Southern California.

After my morning latte, I called my girlfriend, Tracie, who was making hot toddies for the Oscar Party (at my house) and we did a quick change of plans with the drink menu.  Since the sun was out, she came up with this delicious recipe idea for a blended strawberry margarita using vodka, frozen Minute Maid lemonade, pineapple juice and frozen strawberries.  She garnished the drink with a slice of pineapple, then topped it off with champagne. It was tart and perfectly tropical and we all pretended for 5 minutes that we were on vacation.
While this delicious frozen drink kept us happy as we watched celebrities arrive to the Oscars, I ducked into the kitchen and assembled the Smoked Salmon with Crème Fraiche and Caviar onto blinis that I had made earlier in the day.  Everyone said it was their favorite part of the night.  I was very pleased if I may say so myself.
But I did a disservice to my guests, who fortunately weren't aware at the time, and to you, my readers, because this takes away any anticipation you may have had to hear about the other dishes I served, since my first course rocked everyone's world.  I understand if you want to click to another website now.

So the blinis were followed by a Pan Roasted Chicken with Sweet Sausage and Peppers that I’d found in Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc.  It’s truly a great book for all things rich and heavenly but you will spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  There’s a recipe for Soffritto (this is added into the peppers) that takes 5 hours to make.  Yes, much of the time is spent stirring the onions and tomatoes in oil on low heat, but it is so worth it.  The subtle complexity it brings to any dish will be what makes your guests wonder why your food always tastes so divine.  Obviously, I’d love to find a Soffritto-like recipe that isn't so high maintenance, yet tastes just as great.  Email me if you have one, PLEASE!  And because the Oscars are a fancy event, I decided to use duck instead of chicken and nobody seemed to mind.  The duck was so tender and juicy and the peppers were sweet and flavorful.  I'm so happy I have leftovers...

I also fed my guests Roasted Brussel Sprouts, along with Couscous w/ Currants and Toasted Slivered Almonds.  

For dessert (I forgot to take a picture and now there aren’t any cookies left) we had Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Ivy on Robertson Boulevard and some Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberries.  A simple, yet extremely satisfying end to a long day of eating and drinking…which I don’t think a lot of celebrities did much of in the days leading up to the Oscars.  Except maybe Natalie Portman because she’s now eating for two (CONGRATULATIONS, Natalie, on your baby and your Oscar!).  But Jennifer Hudson…she obviously hasn’t been eating chocolate chip cookies...or much of anything.  But the girl looks good.  

Which I can't really say about Amy Adams' wardrobe/jewelry choice for the Oscars.  But she's great as an actress.  After all, she did star in Julie & Julia, one of my favorite movies revolving around food.  Coming in second place is Big Night starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub.  Stanley Tucci must be a big foodie since he co-wrote and co-directed the film.  Maybe he'd like to be a contributor on our blog someday...


Friday, February 25, 2011


Off to Colorado!

I’m headed to Colorado this weekend to surprise my brother who is returning home from a tour in Afghanistan. I’m most looking forward to cooking him his first home cooked meal in 7 months!! I’m going to leave the choice of meal completely up to him-so I’ll need to think up an extra delicious recipe for it. Wish me luck!

Last time I visited my brother in Colorado, I made the mistake of going on a hike with him. I completely forgot that Colorado was around 6,000 ft above sea level until we were making our way up the rocky incline and I could barely catch my breath. My brother, in ridiculous shape, went breezing past me and patiently gave me encouragement the entire way up.   We didn’t make it to the tippy top, but we got pretty darn high. All I can say is I am glad I did it, but I don’t need to do it again anytime soon! This weekend, I plan on eating, relaxing, and spending time with my family.

 Here’s a shot of the miniature Mt. Everest I battled from my last trip.

Maya, have fun celebrating the Oscars—can’t wait to try whatever you end up making. I have no doubt it will be a hit at your party!


Group Date with Oscar

This weekend the stars will be out and about being glamorous and looking magnificent.  And my friends and I will be plopped in front of my TV on Sunday for the Academy Awards Show.  I haven’t yet figured out what I’m going to feed everyone, but I’m thinking a one pot dish like Beef Bourguignon.  Or maybe chili?  But I’ve also been wanting to make Roman Chicken.  Ugh.  Whatever I decide on, I’ll make it on Saturday, then reheat it for the party.  Stews taste better the next day anyhow. 

The weather forecast predicts rain the whole weekend, so this hearty one-dish seems like the way to go and it’ll be low maintenance.  I want to relax with my guests and not have to run around the kitchen like a maniac.  I’ll drink some champagne, hang around the cheese plate, maybe even socialize and enjoy the show! 

Have a safe trip to Colorado, Rachel.  Tell your mom and brother I say hello.  I’ll save you some of whatever I make so we can figure out how to make it better for the next go-around (we like to perfect recipes).   XO


Thursday, February 24, 2011


I have to be honest, I'm a little reluctant to post the name of my favorite sushi restaurant in LA because it's every regular's best kept secret.

When I first had dinner at Sushi Park (there you go, everyone), I couldn't believe how much it reminded me of authentic Japanese sushi.  My mom is Japanese and I lived in Tokyo for many years, so I do consider myself somewhat of a sushi connoisseur.  Living in Tokyo, I think I took for granted just how difficult it is to create such a masterpiece.  The key is to assemble the sushi with the least amount of ingredients as possible and to use a garnish that creates a perfect harmony with the flavor of the fish.  At Sushi Park, I appreciate the sushi chefs letting patrons know which fish they don't want you to dip in soy sauce.  I see a lot of people in the states dousing their sushi in soy sauce and it masks the flavor of the fish, not to mention, it makes you bloated!

Some fish goes best with just a few drops of lemon juice, like sweet shrimp and some white fish such as sea bream, flounder or flat fish.  Other garnishes, like a dash of salt and yuzu pepper, bring out the sweetness of the fish (yes, surprising).  Also very tasty is grated daikon with a splash of ponzu sauce, which is a marriage of soy sauce and lemon juice (along with mirin, rice vinegar and dashi).  Whatever garnish, everything in moderation is a great way to enjoy your sushi.

Albacore Belly w/ Grated Daikon and Green Onions in a Ponzu Sauce

Blue Fin Tuna, Blue Fin w/ Yuzu Pepper, Toro

Scallop and Oyster w/ a Ponzu Sauce
Yellowtail, Kampachi, Sweet Shrimp

Deep Fried Santa Barbara Sweet Shrimp (great souce of calcium)
Steamed Abalone
Skipjack, Baby Tuna, Crevalle Jack
Uni and Salmon Eggs
Grilled Black Cod

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Don’t get me wrong, I “like” carrots. I enjoy the occasional carrot dipped in some ranch dressing or hummus as much as the next guy….but that’s about as far as my “like” for carrots goes. So, when I saw this recipe here I thought no way could a salad entirely made up of shredded carrots be delicious. But the ingredients looked like such an interesting flavor combination, so I decided to give it a go. It was delicious and so much MORE! It’s a great salad for a picnic, a dinner side dish, or a light lunch. It’s crunchy, sweet, and spicy with a hint of creaminess from the feta. Two thumbs WAY up.

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint
¾ pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
½ teaspoon caraway seeds (ground
¾ teaspoon cumin (ground)
½ teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon harissa* (add less or more depending on how spicy you want it)
½ teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
¾ cup feta, crumbled or chopped into bits

In a small sauté pan, cook the garlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs and mix. Leave to infuse for an hour and add the feta before eating.

*Harissa is a spicy chile paste that can be found at specialty gourmet markets. It’s very popular in France so if you have a French market near you, you will definitely find it there. It’s delicious on almost everything and is very inexpensive. (yay!) This tube only cost $3.00 and it will last me quite a while.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The date went well.  I will definitely be seeing him again.  This decision was not swayed in any way by the shaved and/or grated truffles that accompanied each dish during our 4 course meal at Mélisse.  Let's just say that all aspects of the night far surpassed my expectations.  I mean, committing to a Saturday night date is kind of a big deal.  Neither of you has to work Sunday morning, which means the only reason you'd be turning in early is because one of you wasn't feeling it.  

So back to the food.  Mélisse offered either a 4 or a 10 course menu.  I was very impressed.  What didn't impress me were the pictures I took of the food: they don't do it any justice.  And I didn't want to make my picture taking a big production because you have to act like you've been there before, right? So mediocre pictures of a most spectacular dining experience. The dishes were almost too beautiful to eat...but after my first bite, I concluded that I had found utopia.  It exists at 1104 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica (310.395.0881).

First Course - Red Monterey Abalone (ok, maybe truffles didn't come with every dish) with Celtuce, Salt Cod Cream, Abalone Broth

Second Course - Maine Lobster "Flavors of Thermidor" 2011 

Third Course - Tagliatelle and Risotto with Truffles

And if the first three courses (plus plenty of full-bodied red wine and an amazing selection of gourmet bread rolls) weren't enough, we ordered the Rotisserie Chicken stuffed with Summer Truffles and Morel Mushrooms, Root Vegetables, Sauce Albufera

We learned that ordering this entree actually brought Chef Josiah Citrin out of the kitchen to personally carve our chicken tableside!  

And to everyone's surprise, Chef accidentally dropped a deliciously roasted-to-perfection chicken breast onto the floor.  I didn't know whether to burst out laughing (which was my initial reaction...I was a bit tipsy) or to honor the 5 second rule and dive down to the ground and dust off my breast.  He was fuming and didn't hide it well.  When I saw the reaction of the wait staff, who were silently thanking the heavens it wasn't their fumble, I decided to make light of our somewhat formal and tense surroundings and tell them that I actually preferred dark meat to light.  True story.  I'm sure Chef wouldn't appreciate me blogging about his botched carving job, but I have to say that it only makes him human.  

The food at Melisse will take your breath away and if you haven't been, GO. You'll be talking about your experience for years to come.  I know that I'll also close every Melisse story I tell with, "And they actually charged us for the whole chicken."

But it was well worth it.  As were the calories in the sticky toffee pudding.


Monday, February 21, 2011


If I could use one word to sum up my wonderful weekend in Santa Ynez, it would be Jenga. Due to the fact that we had some seriously heavy rain all of Friday and Saturday, I played more Jenga in two days than I have in my entire life. And it was amazing.

We braved the rain and ventured out to several wineries on Saturday. Our itinerary included Firestone, Zaca Mesa, Curtis, and Gainey. Gainey ended up being everyone's favorite because their Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvingon Blanc were outstanding.

Other highlights from the weekend included:

A delicious meal at The Hitching Post (of "Sideways" fame). My favorite part was the so simple, yet so good roasted garlic with crostini.


The beautiful view from the backyard of our house. It FINALLY decided to clear up as we left on Sunday.


Last but certainly not least...a stop at Cold Spring Tavern for the world's best Tri-Tip sandwiches.


Friday, February 18, 2011



To celebrate a friend’s birthday, a group of us rented a house in Santa Ynez for the weekend. I am over the moon excited, but slightly bummed it is supposed to rain all weekend. I won’t let it get me down though! Worst case, it pours both days and I get to spend that much more time in the BEAUTIFUL kitchen of the rented house. (I’ll post pics on Monday) If you haven’t made it out to the Santa Ynez Valley, GO! About 20 minutes east of Santa Barbara, you’ll find beautiful landscapes, lovely wineries, quaint restaurants, stunning homes, and an adorable grocery store. (

All in all, Santa Ynez equals a really good time. 



I've been told you should ALWAYS say "yes" when asked to dinner at Mélisse in Santa Monica.  Here's why:

You may not be into the whole delicate and artful plating that most French restaurants offer, but I'm just so curious as to how they can make each dish look so effortlessly beautiful.  Not to mention, feed so many people AND make sure the right sauce goes with the right course.  I'm overwhelmed when I have to make just ONE sauce at home!  I have such an appreciation for chefs at fine dining restaurants (or at any restaurant, for that matter) because they have a tremendously high standard they need to maintain at ALL times.  But sometimes those restaurants can be formal and stuffy.  I hope Mélisse is fun and the food is as delicious as everyone says.  I have a hot date there on Saturday night.  I shall investigate and report back!  What awful homework for this weekend.  Woe is me.


Thursday, February 17, 2011


Whether we're talking about food or breath, anything stale is just plain gross. That's why, when I went to Cabo over the New Year, I jumped at the chance of chartering a fishing boat with my friends in hopes of catching something fresh and tasty for dinner. Seeing as this was my first time fishing, I was really hoping to catch a trout or…something cute.  You can imagine my disbelief when we reeled in this 50 pound mahi mahi!

Thank you Mr. Mahi for an amazing and unforgettable meal, and to the Sea Grill at Las Ventanas for preparing our beautiful catch. Pictured below is Tiradito with pickled shallots topped with guacamole and tortilla chips.  Also pictured is the mahi mahi blackened, and then grilled.  

I have to say that everyone preferred the grilled to the blackened, which just goes to show you, when you're using the freshest ingredients in a dish, most times, the less you do, the better it'll be.

R.I.P., dear fishy.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This past weekend I made the very happy decision to try Sweet Rose Creamery for the first time and I officially now have a new favorite ice cream. Drum roll please……Sweet Rose Creamery’s Salted Caramel. I cannot put into words how my taste buds reacted after taking my first lick.  It was as if they all jumped for joy at the same time; a moment of celebration for the creamy, salty, sweet, and heavenly flavor that just entered my mouth. As my Grandmother would say, it’s divine. I immediately purchased two pints and brought them over to my friend’s dinner party later that evening. Needless to say, it was a humongous hit.

Get yourself over to Sweet Rose Creamery and try it if you haven’t already. You will thank me.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The Old Place....a true hidden gem that surpises and satisfies!

I was thrilled when I noticed "The Old Place" featured on the cover of Los Angeles Magazine's "Hidden LA" issue. My most recent Birthday was spent there with my closest friends enjoying a fantastic meal in a wonderfully special setting. You feel as if you are in another time and place when dining at "The Old Place". A large antique bar runs down the length of the restaurant and a rustic antique piano greets you at the door. The service is warm and genuine and the food is hearty and homey. (You must make sure to try the bread pudding with leeks...oh boy is it delicious!!) If you have a group of 9 to 12, you can rent out The Mail Room which is their private dining room in the back of the restaurant. Make sure to bring your favorite records with they have a record player in the room!

Whatever the occassion or number in your party, The Old Place is sure to provide you with a rare Los Angeles experience....


Monday, February 14, 2011


Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts

These are some of the best brownies we've ever had—fudgy in the middle and chewy on the outside with a shiny, crackly top. The browned butter adds a rich, nutty flavor.

February 2011
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
10 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces


  • Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

      • Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

    One serving contains:
    Calories (kcal) 199.7
    %Calories from Fat 57.2
    Fat (g) 12.7
    Saturated Fat (g) 5.2
    Cholesterol (mg) 45.3
    Carbohydrates (g) 20.8
    Dietary Fiber (g) 1.9
    Total Sugars (g) 16.1
    Net Carbs (g) 18.9
    Protein (g) 3.7
    Sodium (mg) 45.3
Many of you probably already know about these super rich chocolatey brownies or have seen a picture of them as you've passed by a newsstand. They have juuust the right amount of crisp and flake on top and are so dense and cakey in the middle. We guarantee they'll rock your world. We've made 4 batches already (for different events) and they've garnered rave reviews. Thank you to Bon Apptit for finding this fabulous recipe from Alice Medrich, who is a chocolate expert, cookbook author, cooking teacher and our hero. These cocoa brownies with browned butter and walnuts made the cover of the February 2011 issue, edging out other oh-my-god-that-looks-so-delicious recipes. These brownies are no joke. This Valentine's Day, treat yourselves to this amazing dessert (or what we like to call "breakfast" for the next several days). They're easy to make and a sure fire way to make everyone ooh and ahh. You'll be glad you did. Now our next step is to buy Miss Medrich's most recent book, "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies." She definitely knows what she's talking about! Love and Hugs on this special day. 



We're best friends and we love to cook.  Food inspires and enriches our lives and we've wanted to share our passion with everyone for quite some time.
Introducing our blog: DINE AND DISH!

We love to seek out new experiences and create wonderful settings where our friends and family can get together and have a great time.  We lose track of time planning menus for parties and we love getting our hands dirty.  We want to fill you in on our gourmet experiences; whether it's a cool new restaurant we've tried, a delicious recipe we found, random cooking tips or tantalizing kitchen gossip, we want our readers to enjoy the benefits of all our amazing finds as we journey through life (which can be quite the adventure, and at times, the misadventure). We hope you enjoy our daily entries and allow us to bring a little sugar, spice and everything nice into your lives. Thanks for visiting!