Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Easter

Marcel Vigneron + Haru Kishi = The Coop, an Easter pop-up

"The Coop"Chef friends Marcel Vigneron and Haru Kishi like eggs so much they've decided to host a pop-up centered around them, called "The Coop." 

"We're always cooking eggs, at home, at other people's houses, in the middle of the night," says Kishi, who recently stepped down as chef of Chaya Brasserie Beverly Hills. After all, he says, the merit of a chef can be judged by the way he cooks eggs. (He also notes that the omuraisu scene in "Tampopo" inspired him to become a chef; see the jump.) 

"We kind of became notorious for our egg dishes," adds Vigneron, known for his appearance on the second season of "Top Chef."

Vigneron and Kishi are preparing a five-course brunch, starting Friday morning and running through Easter Sunday at Gonpachi on La Cienega. On the menu: egg with truffle, salmon mi-cuit with deconstructed egg, deep-fried "nesting egg" with bacon, "black tiger" chawan mushi, and strawberries and sabayon with brioche bread pudding. 

"We got delicious Albion strawberries," says Vigneron enthusiastically, just back from Wednesday's Santa Monica farmers market. 

Vigneron says Devon Espinosa of the brand-new bar Pour Vous will be creating cocktails for the event. 

The Coop, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday to Sunday. $38 per person. For reservations, email [email protected] Located at Gonpachi restaurant, 134 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

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Try an egg topper

-- Betty Hallock

Continue reading »

Easter (brioche) bunnies at Proof Bakery

Brioche bunny at ProofProof Bakery in Atwater Village is celebrating this Passover-Easter weekend with a menu of spring dishes and holiday baked goods. 

Owner Na Young Ma's farmers market quiches with crème fraiche custard are always a big draw. (The last piece usually goes to someone who likes to gloat while the rest of the line suffers quietly.) They include Swiss chard, Gruyere and leek, or, if you prefer, chard, Gruyere and bacon. 

But this weekend the show-stopper might be her brioche bunnies. And if those go fast, there are consolation sweets: coconut macaroons; flourless chocolate torte; and fresh fruit tart with berries and Diplomat cream.

For Passover, there's "Mazel-Toffee!" (crumbled matzo mixed with sliced almonds, butter and brown sugar topped with dark chocolate) and matzo bark (matzo sheets coated with dark chocolate, sprinkled with toasted pistachios and dried apricots). 

3156 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 664-8633, www.proofbakeryla.com.

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-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Proof Bakery

Sotto celebrates Easter with nose-to-tail lamb menu

Sotto

On Easter Sunday (April 8), chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of Sotto will offer a special nose-to-tail lamb menu, channeling, as they do, the traditions of southern Italy. Dishes include Sardinian pane frattau with livers and cardoons; tongue with fregola, salsa verde and olives; and grilled leg of lamb with egg, lemon and artichokes. They are available a la carte and are priced at $15 to $18.  

To complement the dishes, Sotto has a new wine list curated by wine director Jeremy Parzen, featuring "both classical and radical" winemakers from southern Italy and the natural winemakers of Northern California. Dinner only, call for reservations.

9575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 277-0210, www.sottorestaurant.com.

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-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times

Could anything possibly be better than roast pork?

Pork
What did you fix for Easter dinner? At my house, it was a mix of old and new.

We started out with a salad of grilled romaine with radishes, hard-cooked eggs and toasted breadcrumbs. You'll just have to wait for the recipe for that one; it's coming in a couple weeks.

The main course was my old favorite roast pork shoulder. I make this three or four times a year, in slightly different variations, but it always seems to turn out amazing. This time, I served it with sugar snap peas I'd briefly steamed and then reheated in the pork drippings and a couple bottles from the fabulous 2009 vintage of Beaujolais (if you haven't picked some up, you have to give it a try). I seasoned it with a mixture of roughly 2 parts black pepper to 1 part each cloves and allspice.

This thing couldn't be easier to prepare -– score the skin so the fat can render, rub with the seasoning, refrigerate overnight, then roast at 325 degrees to an internal temperature of 155 to 160, and finally turn up the heat to 450 for the last 15 to 20 minutes to crisp the skin. When that thing came out of the oven, sizzling and popping, I had to take a picture.

The meat is moist and rich (the shoulder is one of the last cuts of pork that actually has enough marbling for flavor) and the skin turns into God's own chicharrones. Maybe most unbelievable of all? A 9-pound cut, enough to serve seven with plentiful leftovers, cost about $16 -– roughly the same as a single bottle of the Beaujolais.

Dessert was my old pal Deborah Madison's Swedish cream, served with blackberries sweetened with a little honey. The evening would have been perfect if the Lakers had been able to figure out what to do with Chris Paul.

Now, tell us what you did.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: Russ Parsons / Los Angeles Times

Counting down to Easter with our favorite Easter candy: The classic hollow bunny

Bunny300 Happy Easter everyone!

We've counted down to Easter by celebrating some of our favorite Easter candies. What are your favorite Easter candies? On this, we can all agree: It just wouldn't be Easter without finding the classic hollow chocolate bunny in your Easter basket this morning. (Dontcha just want to bite his ear off?) And if you have one, there's a good chance it comes from R.M. Palmer Co.:

Price: $.99 to $11.99, depending on size

Where you can buy it: CVS, Amazon, 99 Cent Store, Ralphs, Stater Bros. and many other stores

Claim to fame: The hollow chocolate color Easter bunny with colorful packaging. The company is famous for giving its bunnies “Palmer Personalities” such as "Baby Binks," "Timid Timmy," "Flopsy" and "Wooly Willy.” One personality, “Da Bunny” comes with a yellow bling chain with a large “D.”

How it has changed over the years: There's a new basket bunny, a hollow mold made with a "Double Crisp confection," foiled in one of 3 color foils and packed into a themed window box. And there are now Easter "buddies," such as a bunny paired with a duck and a chick, also packed in themed window box.

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--Jenn Harris

Caption: The Palmer “Sunny” hollow milk chocolate Easter bunny. (Kolin Toney / Flickr)

Counting down to Easter with some of our favorite Easter candy: Pez

Pez We're counting down to Easter by celebrating some of our favorite Easter candies. So far, we've covered the Whitman's Sampler, Cadbury Creme Eggs, Godiva and See's chocolates, and Peeps. Here, we consider the Easter-themed Pez dispenser.

Price: $1.79 for most dispensers, which come with two rolls of candy. Six-packs of candy sell for $1.59.

Where you can buy it: Grocery stores, dollar stores, drugstores, and some toy stores

Claim to fame: Pez bills itself as “the pioneer of interactive candy” and “an alternative to smoking.” The dispensers are collectible items, and new ones are introduced regularly to keep up with popular-culture names and trends. In October 2010, a rare dispenser depicting a white elephant sold for more than $6,000 on EBay.

Has it changed over the years? Pez was invented as a breath mint in 1927 in Austria. Fruity flavors were introduced in the 1950s to target children in the U.S. market. Dispensers took many forms -- cigarette lighters, guns, plush animals. Chocolate-flavored Pez rolls came out in 2008. Other flavors include Cola and Sour.

Bottom line: PEZ Candy Inc. is a privately owned business and does not release sales figures to the public. But various reports suggest that demand has increased in recent years. The company has become more aggressive in offering seasonal items, including a variety of Easter bunny dispensers. In 2009, Pez’s Easter sales posted a 7% jump over the previous year.

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-- Clare Abreu

Photo: Clare Abreu

It's Easter: How to make hard-boiled eggs, and more

How-to-make-a-hard-boiled-egg This is the Easter that you are going to master the hard-boiled egg.

If you are like many of us, you set out to make hard-boiled eggs to decorate for an Easter egg hunt but you typically end up with a stinky kitchen and eggs that are overcooked or cracked. But no more. Pull up a chair and let Times Food Editor Russ Parsons tell you what you've been doing wrong -- and how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg:

"Perhaps the most common problem with hard-boiled eggs is overcooking. That's what happens when the yolks are pale yellow with that familiar green band around the outside. There is frequently the odor of sulfur. This is due to a reaction between traces of iron in the yolk and sulfur in the white. It happens only when the eggs have been overcooked. Perfectly cooked yolks are moist and deep orange. Needless to say, there is no chemical smell. The second-biggest problem is cracked shells that leak yolk and white out into the cooking water. This is caused by too-rapid heating.

How do you avoid these problems? There's one very simple method. Place the eggs in a pan just big enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover them with cold water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cook for one minute, then remove them from the heat. When the water has cooled enough that you can put your hand in (about 20 minutes), the eggs will be perfectly cooked."

From there, you can decorate like you're Martha Stewart and have a ball. And when the Easter Egg hunt is long over, you can use your perfectly hard-boiled eggs to make this egg salad. If you are one of those science types and want to know more, you can read about the science of the hard-boiled egg -- and the rest of Parsons' story -- here. But before you go, check out a veritable Easter basket full of recipe offerings from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen, and more:

--Want to impress your guests? Stuff a leg of lamb. Parsons walks you through it, step-by-step. Photo gallery here.

--Looking for something completely different? How about a look at how Easter in celebrated in Scandinavia, recipes included. And if you're looking for something a bit more traditional, the Times Test kitchen has you covered. Click here.

--It wouldn't be Easter without a chocolate bunny. Take a spin through this photo gallery look at our favorite Easter candies. What's your favorite Easter candy?

--Finally, please let us know how you're celebrating this special time of the year, and the special dishes you prepare for your family. Upload your Seder and Easter photos here so we can all enjoy them.

-- Rene Lynch
twitter.com / renelynch

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

Counting down to Easter with some of our favorite Easter candy: Peeps

Peeps-by-Kelsey 
You know it's Easter when the Peeps arrive and take over the supermarket shelves.

We're counting down to Easter by celebrating some of our favorite Easter candies. What are your favorites? What did we miss? So far, we've covered the Whitman's Sampler, Cadbury Creme Eggs, See's chocolates and Godiva chocolates. You can read them all here. But nothing says Easter quite like a marshmallow chick.

Price: $1.99 for 10 peeps

Where you can buy it: Grocery stores, drugstores

Claim to fame: Peeps, most popular around Easter, have a reputation for being indestructible.

Pedigree: Peeps were born in 1953, tediously made by hand in a process that took 27 hours to create a single marshmallow. In 1954, the company mechanized the process and it now takes six minutes to make one Peep. Starting with orange pumpkin-shaped Peeps for Halloween in 1958, the company soon began making shapes other than the familiar chick, so we can get our fix year-round: ghosts and cats for Halloween, hearts and teddy bears for Valentine’s Day and snowmen and trees for Christmas. Sugar-free marshmallows debuted in 2007 and the newest Peeps are dipped or covered in chocolate.

Fan favorite: According to the latest survey, the chick still holds the No. 1 bestseller spot, though it has at times been closely challenged by the bunny. Yellow is the bestselling color.

Sales figures or production figures over the last five years: The privately owned company produces over 2 billion Peeps a year -– enough to circle the Earth twice. Eight hundred million of those are for Easter alone.

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This is what a Scandinavian Easter looks like

Impress your guests. Stuff a leg of lamb

Meet the princess of Peeps

--Kelsey Ramos

Photo: Kelsey Ramos

Counting down to Easter with some of our favorite Easter candy: See's chocolates

Easter-eggs We're counting down to Easter with some of our favorite Easter candy. We've already used this as an excuse to gobble up and "research" Cadbury Creme Eggs, Whitman's Sampler and Godiva chocolates. (Click here to read where we are in the countdown.)

Today, we take a look at a homegrown favorite: See's chocolates, including the signature rocky road chocolate Easter eggs, which are hand-decorated at the See's operation on La Cienega Boulevard.

Price: Varies, but includes $6 for a bag of milk chocolate foil eggs,  $39.80 for an extra fancy assortment, $11.05 for a rocky road Easter Egg, shown here, and $5.60 for my favorite (in case you were wondering): Scotchmallow eggs.

Where can you buy them: Available online and in shopping centers such as South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa or Westfield Shopping Center in Culver City.

Claim to fame: See's Candies is celebrating its 95th anniversary, and was the training ground for Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance for the famous "I Love Lucy" conveyor-belt scene. Come Easter, the La Cienega operation looks like a sweet, sugary garden as employees hand-decorate each Easter egg candy. It is a busy time because each egg must be made at the very last minute. "We don't use preservatives," explained spokesman Richard Van Doren. "These are not meant to be sitting around on a shelf." In all, See's will probably produce about 5 million chocolate eggs this season.

How have things changed: "Actually, our existing line hasn't changed all that much. It's been around a long time, so certain items become a tradition for families."

Is it us, or has Easter candy exploded this year? Van Doren says it's not our imagination. Easter is late this year -- coming at the end of April. And the last big "candy" holiday was Feb. 14. Purveyors are taking advantage of that big gap to roll out items that well enjoy a longer display period. And consumers are gobbling it up, he says. "Due to the separation of Valentine's Day and Easter, that's a big gap to go without some sort of fun holiday. There's an impulse to pick up one of the decorated eggs, or something else."

How does Easter rank in terms of sales? "Easter is our second-largest holiday, after Christmas. Valentine's Day is No. 3."

Who buys more chocolate? Men or women? "70% of our customers are female, until you get to Valentine's day. Men procrastinate and then line up on the 14th, or else they'll go home and get in trouble."

ALSO:

This is what a Scandinavian Easter looks like

Impress your guests. Stuff a leg of lamb

Meet the princess of Peeps

-- Rene Lynch
twitter.com / renelynch

Photo credit: See's Candies

Counting down to Easter with some of our favorite Easter candy: Godiva chocolates

Beaded_egg_with_chocolate We're counting down to Easter with a look at some of our favorite Easter candies. What's your favorite? Earlier this week, we caught up with Whitman's Sampler and the Cadbury Creme Egg. Now we go upscale with Godiva Chocolatier.

Here are prices for some of their Easter highlights: the Easter Carrot (4 ounces of milk-chocolate pearls coated in orange-colored candy held in a carrot-shaped bag): $8. Spring Gems (32 pieces of white-, dark- and milk-chocolate truffles in cellophane): $18. Bertie (he 9-ounce traditional hollow milk-chocolate bunny that is the foundation of many Easter baskets): $23.50. A keepsake Beaded Egg, shown here, containing 12 pieces of milk- and dark-chocolate foil-wrapped eggs: $25. And then there's the Easter Luxury Basket, which includes more than 2 pounds of most of the candies listed above and a few other delights, $110.

Where these are available: all over the world. Godiva chocolates are available online at Godiva.com and at the company's stores, generally in high-end malls such as the Glendale Galleria, the Beverly Center and Westfield, Century City. This year, Godiva has teamed up with Target, where the company’s limited-edition 1.4-ounce milk-chocolate Easter bunny will be sold until April 24.

Claim to fame: Godiva is best known for its truffles. The company, named for Lady Godiva -- whose legend involves nudity, a horse and long hair (but not chocolate, as far as we know) -- was founded in 1926 in Belgium. The first U. S. Godiva boutique opened on New York’s Fifth Avenue in 1972 and helped set off the craze for high-end chocolate -- an affordable luxury for most.

History: Godiva, purchased by Campbell’s Soup Co. in 1967, was sold in 2007 to the Turkish company Yildiz Holding. At the time, Godiva sales were about $500 million. The company does not release sales figures.

Bestsellers: The company says its Bertie Chocolate Bunny and Beaded Egg are “always popular items” during the Easter candy season.

-- Robin Abcarian

Photo: Godiva

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.