Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Gifts

DIY cookbooks from Shutterfly

PizzaIf you're looking for a unique gift idea this holiday season, you might want to think about writing your own cookbook. Shutterfly.com has recently launched its custom-path photo books that allow anyone to publish their work.

You could write a cookbook of treasured family recipes or your favorite holiday treats.  Whatever the subject, this is a way to preserve your family's food traditions. 

The photo books range in size and price, beginning at $9.74 for a 5-by-7-inch book to $41.24 for a 12-by-12-inch book. Each book contains 20 pages with the option to add more pages. The website has two different recipe layouts with various color and embellishment choices. Additionally, you can add, move and resize pictures and text anywhere on the page to suit your recipe needs.

You might not be able to go back to giving sweaters as gifts again.



Forklore: roots of pepper

Maison Giraud finally opens

Cookbook Watch: 'Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden'

--Leah Rodrigues

twitter.com/ LeahRodrigues24

Photo Credit: Leah Rodrigues

Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila declares her pasta allegiance

Vermeil-1 Declare your allegiance to pasta asciutta -- dry pasta as opposed to fresh noodles -- with this necklace from Monaco jeweler MissBibi. She's rendered a single penne in silver or gold and simply strung it on a chain. And it's on sale right now for 50 euros (about $71 at today’s rate) instead of the normal $150. (Shipping to the U.S. is 10 euros or about $14.) 

 She's also designed a necklace or ring featuring a gold Bague-farfalla-or farfalla (butterfly-shaped pasta) and a pair of mismatched pasta earrings -- one penne, one farfalla. Guys can order them as cuff links.    

Those pasta earrings? I could easily see wearing a pair. Nothing like wearing your allegiance on your, er, ears.

MissBibi, Le Park Palace, 5 Impasse de la Fontaine, MC-98000 Monaco; 011-377-9798-1828; missbibi@missbibi.com


Dry your food!

What's in your summer vegetable garden?

Where to drink in Japan

-- S. Irene Virbila

Photo credit: MissBibi


Do not panic -- we repeat -- do not panic: We've got last-minute holiday gift ideas


Oh brother. You waited until the Very. Last. Minute. to do your holiday shopping.

No worries.

Here's a roundup of suggested holiday gift ideas, including measuring spoons. (You think that's too dinky for a gift? Every cook we know would love the luxury of having several sets. This set cost us $2.59. You could buy a few such little trinkets without breaking the bank, and put together a swell gift basket for the cook in your life.)

Now, be forewarned: Some of these gift ideas might require a jog to the mall or a bookstore, a night in the kitchen, or spending a small fortune on overnight shipping. But don't blame us -- you're the one who waited until the very last minute:

--13 great cookbooks from 2010

--35 gift ideas to buy, give, inspire, make...and receive

--Foodie holiday gifts at every price point

--Give the gift of booze: 94 wine suggestions

--22 food gifts to give and keep for yourself

--An L.A. shoppers guide to last-minute gifts

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch 

Photo credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times 

What do you want in your stocking this holiday season?

I was listening to Kevin & Bean on KROQ this morning (am I the only one who has trouble telling the two of them apart?) and they joked that “everyone” knows you can’t give your wife/husband/significant other a kitchen gadget for their birthday, anniversary or Christmas –- that that’s just asking for trouble.

Do you think that's true? Or do such rules not apply to foodiots like us?

I'd happily sign on the dotted line to receive kitchen gadgets, appliances, cookbooks and anything else cooking related for every gift-giving holiday for the rest of my life. What about you?

And since we're talking gifts, what are you hankering for this holiday season? I'm thinking about an espresso maker. Any suggestions out there for a brand you love? (Or one I should avoid like the plague?)

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter.com / renelynch

Building a better bag

Reusable shopping bags are ubiquitous these days, so when you find one with features that make life a little easier, it’s always worth a closer look. JP Monkey totes, manufactured in Los Angeles by a Santa Barbara company, include clever extras such as a key chain for keeping grocery store club cards handy. This means you can give your bag to the cashier, and the cashier can scan your membership before passing the tote to the bagger. But wait! There's more...

A post-Christmas cookie: a sablé recipe from Ludovic Lefebvre

Cookie2 Post-holidays, most people may have had enough of cookies. But not me, or my mom, apparently, who asked for a "good recipe" for sablés for Christmas. "Why?" I asked her (not that you need a reason). "I have a lot of butter," she responded.

If you also are flush with butter, and still in the mood for a cookie, here's a recipe that chef Ludovic Lefebvre kindly sent along. (Note: It hasn't been tested by the Times Test Kitchen, but my mom was very happy.)


250 grams flour
65 grams powdered sugar
150 grams butter
1 egg
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Transfer the flour and sugar to a food processor and add the butter and egg; pulse only until the dough is crumbly. Do not overmix; the dough should have a coarse texture.

2. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and pulse once to combine.

3. Transfer the mixture to a work surface and knead the dough to bring all the dough together in a large ball. Roll the ball into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, twisting the ends and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap log and cut the dough into slices about one-fourth-inch thick. Place the cut rounds onto a cookie sheet about two inches a part. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until edges are golden brown.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Gifts for wine lovers: Wine books of 2009

To accomWine bookspany a story on wine gifts for the holidays that appeared in the Dec. 16 edition of the L.A. Times' Food Section, I’d like to recommend a few that don’t involve uncorking a thing: Just open and turn the page. This was a very good year for the printed word in wine, and having sifted through several heavy tomes, here are a few to consider in your holiday gift giving:

"Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology" by Randall Grahm (University of California Press: 318 pp., $34.95). Bonny Doon’s owner, winemaker and president for life started taking pen to page in the mid-'80s to promote his line of wines, then an obscure collection of Rhône varieties and little known selections from Italy and Spain. But Grahm’s literary gifts got the better of him: He remains one of the most prolific, voluminous and outrageous writing winemakers we have. His great gift is for parody, whether it’s of the works of James Joyce, J.D. Salinger, Basho or Coleridge, or the unnervingly faithful send-up of Dante called, appropriately, “The Vinferno.” Perhaps the most illuminating segments are the author’s annotations of his work, which reveal a thoughtful, self-critical, frank devotee of all things vinous.

"Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, 25th Anniversary Edition" by Kevin Zraly (Sterling Press: 224 pp., $27.95). The sommelier and educator has published updated versions of this groundbreaking tutorial for more than two decades, since converting notes for his staff at Windows on the World, in the World Trade Center. For the 25th edition, Zraly hit the road again and revisited more than 100 wine regions in a year, tasting more than 4,000 wines in the process. The result is his freshest take yet on the world of wine for novice and expert alike, in what remains one of the more comprehensive and inclusive instructional books we have.

Continue reading »

Gifts for Cooks: 'Japanese Hot Pots'

HotpotHot pot cooking might not be described as esoteric, but I can't think of any English-language book devoted to the subject other than "Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals," published just this fall.

I first experienced the cooking of Japanese chef Tadashi Ono when he opened a restaurant called Sono in midtown Manhattan (he's now the chef at Matsuri). Years later, I met food journalist Harris Salat while attending the Japanese Culinary Forum at the French Culinary Institute. And I was pretty thrilled when I found out that the two were working on a book together about Japanese hot pots -- because, well, I happen to LOVE hot pot. It inherently brings people together, often with everybody leaning over the pot to pluck their favorite ingredients from the broth with their chopsticks. If you're going to share hot pot, you might as well be chummy about it.

The Japanese communal dishes called nabemono, a combination of meat, seafood, noodles, tofu and/or vegetables, are poached in broth, usually in a pot set over a burner at the center of the table (though many of the recipes in the book call for preparing them on the stove and bringing them to the table). 

The book outlines ingredients and cooking equipment, along with sources, and preparation methods; it's an easy-to-follow guide to how to approach hot pot cooking and aesthetics ("your hot pot's got to look good"). "Think of hot pots as a mingling of tasty layers": the broth, the main ingredients, additional flavorings such as soy sauce and miso, and garnishes and condiments. With a bowl of rice and a beer, you're set.

Recipes include mushroom hot pot with a combination of shiitake, oyster, shimeji and enoki mushrooms; tofu hot pot; crab hot pot; tuna belly hot pot; beef shabu-shabu; and a personal favorite, hearty chanko nabe, known as sumo wrestler's hot pot, the traditional lunch of training sumo wrestlers.

-- Betty Hallock    

Photo credit: Lucy Schaeffer / Ten Speed Press

More bacon gifts for the holidays

Baconfrying The problem with telling people you love bacon is that you'll receive a slew of awful bacon gag gifts. Bacon mints, bacon toothpicks, bacon air freshener, bacon gummy candy, bacon neckties... I have them all. This year, if you have a bacon fanatic on your list, love them enough to get them a quality bacon-themed gift. If you can't manage that, just get them some bacon.
-- Bacon Christmas tree postcards ($5 for a five-card pack). Etsy
-- Sir Francis Bacon Peanut Brittle ($16 for 9 ounces). Dean & Deluca
-- From the makers of bacon salt: bacon popcorn, bacon ranch dressing and bacon envelopes.
-- Candied bacon treats ($13 for a four-piece box). The Sticky Pig
-- "Have Yourself a Meaty Little Christmas" with Aqua Teen Hunger Force ($8.99).
-- 4505 Meats' gift basket ($60): a “Bacon Is the New Black” apron, a letterpress poster, a T-shirt and crispy porky treats.
-- Make your own bacon lamp. Oddity Central
-- Make your own bite-sized bacon caramels. The Kitchn
-- Don't make your own Tac Bac -- Tactical Canned Bacon ($15.99 per can).
-- Don't make your own Yoder's canned bacon ($79.98 for half a case).
-- For those with a sweet tooth: maple bacon bundt cake ($32). Kiss My Bundt
-- There's always the Bacon of the Month Club ($190 for six months; $325 for 12 months).
-- Wearing bacon in style: a Hail Bacon T-shirt ($20). Etsy

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Gifts for cooks: 'Gourmet Today'

“Gourmet Today” is a big book, topping 1,000 pages, giving the impression it will have everything. It doesn’t. There’s banana bread but no cranberry bread (unless you count the dried cranberries in Portuguese Honey Bread). No recipe for applesauce among the recipes I happened to recently be looking for.


But that’s not really a criticism, because I found plenty in this book to make me happy and to inspire me. There’s the pumpkin pie recipe I’d clipped from the magazine a few years back, and keep returning to, because the caramel sauce used in the custard gives the pie a deep flavor other recipes don’t match. The Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops were a hit at dinner (sort of a “now that’s what I’m talking about” from my kids).

The book is not meant to be all-inclusive. It is meant to document the way people are eating today – lighter, using recipes that take less time and are easier to make – and inspire readers to take advantage of the huge array of ingredients available these days, writes Ruth Reichl, editor of the book and of the now-closed magazine. It’s a good gift for a cook who might be ready to break out a bit from Joy of Cooking.

For chicken alone, recipes include burritos; Chicken Stir-Fry with Shiitakes, Snow Peas and Watercress; Chicken Cacciatore; and Cajun Chicken Stew.

Ingredients and dishes from the world over are included, but so are the directions for clearing a consomme or making an omelet. And in recognition of the political decisions involved in buying food, there are discussions of “sustainable” caviar and seafood, and the environmental impacts of eating meat.

It’s a cinch to find dishes you’ll want to make: Easy Carrot Soup with Toasted Pecans – just 15 minutes of work. Maple Walnut Buche de Noel, with a line drawing demonstrating how to roll and cut the cake to fashion a log. The dozens of salads reflect a “versatile dish that can show up anytime, anywhere,” such as Thai-style Crab Salad in Papaya, Grilled Zucchini Salad with Purslane and Tomatoes, or Winter Tabbouleh that calls for fennel and cauliflower but no cucumber. There’s really easy Toasted Bread Crumb Topping for Pasta that can be frozen for up to three months and tastes ridiculously great, on pasta or roasted vegetables, considering how simple it is.

There are a bundle of short stories, explaining various kinds of greens and grains, how to cook a turkey, using a pressure cooker, a grilling primer and other useful background information. A sign of today’s styles is the chapter of vegetarian dishes, from tarts to enchiladas to stir fries and curries.

And truth be told, the demise of Gourmet magazine makes this cookbook that much more appealing. My copy has a sticker on the cover offering a free subscription with book purchase.

-- Mary MacVean

Gourmet Today, edited by Ruth Reichl, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40. Jacket design by Stolze Design



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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.