Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Holiday cooking

Fourth of July 2012 dining guide: Holiday food and drink specials


Throwing a Fourth of July backyard BBQ is a fun way to spend the holiday, but sometimes it's nice to sit back and have someone else worry about the cooking. Here's a list of restaurants around town offering special Fourth of July cocktails, menu items and discounts:

Rock & Reilly's Irish whisky bar is having a "Reilly's backyard BBQ" with brats and burgers on its backyard patio. The bar also came up with a Fourth of July cocktail called the "Miss American Pie" made with Old Shine Apple Pie, basil, cranberry juice, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Pink Taco is serving its El Presidential Margarita made with Don Julio's 1942, fresh lime, raw agave nectar and a splash of Combier. Get a 2 for 1 margarita pitchers from 3 to 7 p.m. and 10 to 11 p.m. at both the Sunset Strip and Century City locations.

Fuku Burger will offer a special Declaration Burger topped with mac & cheese and crispy onion rings. Wash it all down with a Fuku Firework (Sapporo with a shot of sake) or the Independence flight of Fuku's domestic beers. 

PHOTOS: Fourth of July recipes

Napa Valley Grille is celebrating with a patriotic happy hour from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 4. The extended happy hour will be available at the bar and on the patio. It includes 50-cent sweet chile-glazed chicken wings, $2 PBRs and a $4 Firecracker cocktail.

Burger Lounge is offering grass-fed beef corn dogs with spicy mustard and organic ketchup ($5.95) or with onion rings and a Maine Root "Agave Pink Drink" ($10.95). 

Cecconi's will celebrate the Fourth with its new seasonal pizza night featuring different pizzas from chef Andrea Cavaliere. The pizzas are inspired by what's fresh at the Santa Monica farmers market that morning.

STREET is serving a Backyard Barbecue for four that includes the Jamaican Gingerbrew chicken, a slider assortment of Yuzu Kosho burgers, black bean veggie burgers, fried chicken and Korean BBQ shortribs, a variety of sides (Malaysian baked beans, chilled soba noodle salad) and for dessert Mexican spiced dulce de leche double chocolate fudge and toasted coconut jello ($100 for the group, plus tax). The restaurant will also offer the world-flavor bento box with tastes of the Burmese melon salad, Japanese potato salad and more ($30, plus tax).

Moon Juice is offering some figure-friendly juices that you can drink on their own or with tequila or vodka for a cocktail. The new summer flavors include honeydew, cilantro and lime; cantaloupe and nectarine; watermelon, tomato and lime; and cucumber, pineapple and jalapeno ($9-12).

Magnolia Bakery is offering Fourth of July-decorated cupcakes ($3.50 each) and a variety of blueberry desserts, including the Blueberry Jamboree or classic Blueberry Pie (slice $4 to $4.50 and pie $24).

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below or fill us in on your plans for the holiday.


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Photo credit: Spencer Weiner /Los Angeles Times

Celebrate Three Kings Day with Rosca de Reyes


The holiday season isn't quite over just yet. Friday marks the 12th day of Christmas, known as Three Kings Day or El Día de los Reyes Magos, the Epiphany. Christians believe that on this day the three kings, also known as wisemen, arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts for the newly born Jesus.

Celebrations typically include caroling and of course culinary treats, the most famous being the Rosca de Reyes, a festive round cake topped with trinkets and candy. Baked into the cake is a small plastic baby Jesus. If you find him in your slice, tradition says you must throw a party on Feb. 2, Candlemas Day, and serve tamales to your guests.

KingscakeTo celebrate the big day, Pink Taco in Century City is offering patrons their own version of Rosca de Reyes. Their smaller, individual cakes still feature the signature hole in the middle but are made with a gummy bear instead of a baby Jesus, and fresh raspberries, blueberries and a raspberry sorbet take the place of more traditional candy.

If you're in the mood for a full festive meal, you can feast on items from their special Three Kings Day menu such as the signature pink taco with Yucatan-style panuchos, achiote grilled chicken and habanero pickled onions, sweet corn tamal and their signature En Fuego cocktail, made with El Jimador Blanco Tequila topped with a float of high-proof rum to set a fire at your table.

La Morenita bakery in Cypress and La Monarca bakery in Huntington Park also specialize in making the round cakes for the holiday.

If you'd like to try your hand at making your own Rosca de Reyes, check out a recipe from our test kitchen:

Continue reading »

Santa's feeling crabby!

Russ Parsons says his all-time favorite holiday tradition is his family's Christmas Eve Dungeness crab feast
I'm a sucker for Christmas traditions, but my all-time favorite is my family's Christmas Eve Dungeness crab feast. Somehow there's nothing that better expresses the simple pleasures of Christmas in California than a big pot of crabs and many bottles of champagne.

We keep it to just immediate family -- my daughter and her boyfriend, my brother- and sister-in-law and my wife and me. And we keep the menu simple -- when you've got great crab, all you need is a little something to nibble on first (sliced sausage, toasted almonds and Okie b-i-l's Rotel cheese dip), a good green salad and lots of Christmas cookies, persimmons and Kishu mandarins after.

One of my favorite parts of the meal is the shopping. This year, I went to the 99 Ranch in Gardena that's fairly near me. The scene was a panorama of California's Christmas celebrations -- the guy in line before me was a Nigerian buying live tilapia (to steam with red peppers, he told me); the Asian guy behind me was negotiating with his cute little boy, Giovanni, about whether to buy two crabs and two lobsters, or all crab, or all lobsters (oddly, Dungeness crab and Maine lobsters were exactly the same price this year); and the lady in front of me in the checkout line was an Australian buying oysters and lobster to make some kind of ceviche -- she wasn't quite sure exactly how but said she'd "follow the inspiration."

And a merry Cali Christmas to you too!


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-- Russ Parsons

Photo credit: Russ Parsons / Los Angeles Times

Holiday cookies: Bourbon balls

Bourbon balls
Kate Wheeler of Pasadena was one of the winners of last year's Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off with this recipe for bourbon balls. "Something about the flavor of liquor in desserts just screams 'holiday' to me," she said. "Maybe it's a nod to fruitcake and plum pudding, or maybe it's just a way to get through all the family gatherings of the holidays." Cookiecover

They're among the 50 favorite holiday cookie recipes we've collected in our "Holiday Cookies" e-book, which is on sale now.

All of them have been vetted by The Times' Test Kitchen, so you know they work. Download it on the Amazon Kindle, the Nook or via the iBookstore. Or go straight to the source.

And don't forget: Thursday we'll be unveiling a whole new collection of sweets from this year's contest.

Photo: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Continue reading »

Holiday cookies: Banbury tarts

Jacqueline Shubitowski of Sherman Oaks was one of the 10 winners of our holiday cookie contest last year, with these simple but delicious Banbury tarts she learned from her mother-in-law.They're among the 50 favorite holiday cookie recipes we've collected in our "Holiday Cookies" e-book, which is on sale now.

All of the recipes have been vetted by the Times' Test Kitchen, so you know they work. Download it on the Amazon Kindle, the Nook or via the iBookstore. Or go straight to the source. Cookiecover

And don't forget: Thursday we'll be unveiling a whole new collection of sweets from this year's contest.


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ArtBites explores the history of desserts on Dec. 11

Buche 600

Explore the history of desserts Sunday in a hand's-on class through ArtBites.

The day starts at LACMA, where participants will explore the museum's collection of Latin American, French, English and Italian paintings and decorative arts. After the museum visit and discussion, the group will meet at Surfas' test kitchen for a hands-on cooking class.

Holiday desserts to be made include büche de Noël, gingerbread baby cakes, a fresh berry galette, a maple-pear upside down cake and chocolate-peppermint bark.

ArtBites was founded by Maite Gomez-Rejón in 2007 to combine the history of art and food. She has worked in the education departments of various museums and also as a private chef, so her resume is perfect for the endeavor. ArtBites hosts classes that tour museum galleries, tracing the historical role of food through art collections, followed by hands-on-cooking classes.

Sunday's four-hour class starts at noon and is $100 per person. The price  includes museum admission, tour, recipes, ingredients and wine.


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Photo: Büche de Noël. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

The Bracebridge Dinner in Yosemite

Yosemite 4 600

Since 1927, the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite has hosted the Bracebridge Dinner, a recurring event in the month of December that transforms the hotel into a 17th-century English manor for an "eat, drink and be merry" experience. The hotel's dining room is decked out in yuletide decor, inspired by Washington Irving's legendary Squire Bracebridge and the English Christmas traditions described in "The Sketch Book."

The four-hour event features a seven-course feast and performances by more than 100 professional singers and court characters telling the story of a Christmas feast. Yosemite itself is already a wintry wonderland this time of year; add food, song and cheer to get your ultimate Christmas spirit fix.

The event will take place Dec. 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 25. Dinner-only tickets are $425 per person. One- and two-night lodging packages for two at the Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and the Wawona Hotel are also available (prices vary). To make reservations, visit www.yosemitepark.com/bracebridge.

Yosemite 2 600


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Photos: (Top) The Ahwahnee. Credit: Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times; (bottom) the Ahwahnee dining room. Credit: Kenny Karst / DNC Parks & Resorts

The genesis of the pop-up turkey timer

PopUpTurkeyTimerSome good ideas actually do make it out of committee. Consider the genesis of the now-half-century-old pop-up turkey timer.

My interest was piqued in how this simple gadget came to be when I ran across a cute little pop-up timer that was shaped like a turkey. Its drumsticks pop up when the bird is ready. Soon after, I pulled up a 2005 San Francisco Chronicle obituary of the man credited as the original timer's inventor, Eugene Beals.

At the time of the timer's invention, home cooks were grossly overcooking their turkeys in fear of poisoning their families. The California Turkey Producers Advisory Board, of which Beals was a member, heard the complaints loud and clear and anticipated it might be just a matter of time before Americans would move on and make some other food a Thanksgiving icon.

The article says that Beals asked the board, “Why donʼt we find some sort of gadget, something to stick in [the turkey] and tell when the turkey is done?” The solution “came from above” some days later when member Goldy Kleaver looked up at the ceiling sprinklers and made an entrepreneur's connection. Heat causes something inside the sprinklers to melt, which triggers the sprinklers to pop out.

Beals ran with the idea, and a year later -- after they figured out the right temperature at which an alloy inside would melt -- they had the first pop-up turkey timer. The company they formed to manufacture the timers was later sold and developed further by two other companies, most recently Volk Enterprises.

It appears safe to say, regardless of whether you abhor the gaping hole these timers may leave in the thigh of a turkey or the fact that a meat thermometer set to 185 degrees will do the same thing, this little invention likely did its part to save the Thanksgiving turkey as a culinary icon.

Perhaps the earlier entrepreneurs would appreciate these fun turkey timers made by Kikkerland.com, which retail for $17.

Also: A little-known fact is that it's possible to reuse any pop-up timer by dipping the tip in hot water, then pushing the pop-up piece back into the metal. Once it cools, the piece will be back in its original position ready for reuse.


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-- Susan Silverberg

Photo credit: Kikkerland.com

Last-minute Thanksgiving questions? We can help!



You've got questions? We've got answers! Well, to cooking questions anyway.

Thanksgiving can be a high-stress time in the kitchen. If you find yourself stumped, drop us a line on our Facebook page.

We'll check throughout the next few days and try to help. Obviously, we can't do specific recipe searches, but we'll try to answer as many of your general cooking questions as we can.


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Photo: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Spork Foods wishes you a very vegan Thanksgiving

Seitan WellingtonLast year I wrote about two sisters who founded a vegan cooking company called Spork Foods. Enthusiastic, vivacious and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to eating vegan, Heather Goldberg and Jenny Engel have just released their first cookbook, "Spork-Fed."

Between promoting the new book, teaching their cooking classes, filming their online classes and giving in-home healthy-eating consultations, the sisters are short on time. But they still managed to take a moment to share two of their favorite holiday recipes with us. One is for seitan Wellington with creamy spinach sauce; the other is for pumpkin cheesecake.

I tried the Wellington when I attended one of their cooking classes last year. It was savory and delicious, with mushrooms, onions and red wine adding earthy flavor. The advantage of eating a meal like this as opposed to a traditional Thanksgiving turkey is that you don't feel as heavy afterward. 

Also, many families have at least one vegan, and it's nice to have a festive option instead of just a medley of veggie sides. I once had a vegan boyfriend, and when he came home with me for Thanksgiving, my mother was kind enough to make a variety of vegan dishes for him, which really made the difference in his experience that day.

So in the name of Thanksgiving options we give you these Spork Foods recipes after the jump. (Note: These recipes have not been tested in The Times' Test Kitchen.)


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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.