Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Top recipes of 2008

The review: Huckleberry

HUCKLEBERRY1 

Sometimes at lunch the line at Huckleberry in Santa Monica is out the door, snaking past the tall wooden planters filled with herbs and greens and tomatoes, all the way into the parking lot in back.

From the avid look on people’s faces as they hurry in, intent on that sugar fix, you’d think they’ve never seen a bakery before. And in fact, maybe they haven’t, at least not one quite like this offshoot of Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen, which, despite an occasional rough spot, is already one of the most talked-about new spots in Southern California.

Read the rest of Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila's review here.

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Photo credit: Ann Johansson / Los Angeles Times

This week's L.A. Times recipes

Kale3

The following S.O.S. request from Jeanne Fay definitely caught our attention. (When was the last time you heard someone wax eloquent about kale? Granted, we're talking about a Suzanne Goin recipe. But still. Kale!)

Dear SOS: Last winter, my sweetheart and I went to AOC early in the evening on a gloomy, chilly day. We polished off our feast, and although everything was delicious, the cavolo nero was so melt-in-your-mouth tender and elegantly simple that I swear I can still taste it. I've tried to replicate it several times (my family and I have definitely enjoyed my black kale experiments), but none of them has quite come close to Suzanne Goin's version. If she would share her recipe, I'd be eternally grateful.

Times Test Kitchen Manager Noelle Carter tracked down the recipe for Jeanne. Needless to say, we now agree with Jeanne -- we'll never think of kale the same way again.

Check out more S.O.S. requests here. And you'll find the recipe for cavolo nero below -- it's just one of several you'll find in this week's Food section: 

Continue reading »

Test kitchen baking tips: Midnight chocolate brownie bites

Browniesrobertlachman

Every once in a while we run a recipe that garners a wide variety of reader response. Former test kitchen director Donna Deane's Midnight chocolate brownie bites, which originally ran July 2, 2008, and was selected as one of our Top 10 recipes of 2008, is a prime example.

While we received a lot of positive feedback from readers who really enjoyed the brownies, we also received a lot of comments and queries from people who, in re-creating the recipe, did not end up with the results pictured above.

Given the volume of e-mails we've received, I wanted to throw out some tips to address some of the more common problems readers encountered. Some of the tips are specific to this recipe and some are general tips that hopefully will come in handy when tackling any baking recipe.

Continue reading »

Shopping for shimeji mushrooms?

Shimeji

We've had several e-mails that all go something like this: "Where do I find those yummy-looking shimeji mushrooms?" What prompted this flood of mushroom requests? Our recap of the top L.A. Times recipes of 2008 in general, and this recipe in particular for halibut and shimeji baked in parchment.

Times Food Editor Russ Parsons says you can find the mushrooms -- pronounced she-MAY-ji -- at Asian supermarkets. He adds that specialty food stores such as Bristol Farms are now also carrying them. And don't be surprised if you start seeing these delicate little mushrooms soon at your local supermarkets, as Russ' original story points out.

Here are three chain markets likely to carry shimeji. Click on the store locator to find an outlet nearest you. It might also be a good idea to call in advance to make sure shimeji are on hand, so you don't waste your time: 99 Ranch market, Mitsuwa Marketplace and Marukai market.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times

Your Test Kitchen questions, asked and answered

Brownies

We're glad so many of you enjoyed the list of our favorite L.A. Times recipes for 2008 — thanks for taking the time to write us. We also received two recipe questions that might be of interest to more than just the folks asking, so here goes.

Bob e-mailed to say:

In your recently published recipe for midnight chocolate brownie bites, should one use light or dark brown sugar and should one use salted or unsalted butter?

Thanks for your e-mail, Bob. The recipe calls for "3/4 cup packed brown sugar," so your question is a good one. Times Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter — who tests and perfects all our recipes before they go into print — says you can use either. Noelle also said the "default" for all our recipes is unsalted butter — so always assume the recipe calls for unsalted butter unless it specifically says otherwise.

Rimona e-mailed to say:

Continue reading »

L.A. Times Top Recipes, Take 2

Raisins Message received, loud and clear.

Several wrote to complain about the format we used for presenting The Times' top recipes for 2008. We thought we were being smart by turning it into a photo gallery, and hyperlinking the recipe title to the recipe itself.

Um, not so much.

You wrote to tell us it was too complicated. Too time consuming. And the recipes' hyperlinks were too utterly unobvious. At least one of you wondered why we couldn't leave well enough alone and stick to the straightforward format we used for last year's list. (In our defense, we thought readers would prefer a photo with each recipe.)

Lesson learned. Next year, we'll offer all of these options. In the meantime, here's a handy-dandy list of all the recipes, all in one place, with a photo of every recipe.

Whew!

Thanks to all who took the time to write, and happy cooking in 2009.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo: Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times 

 

The Times' top 10 recipes for 2008 -- plus a few more

Halibut

We tried to come up with the Los Angeles Times' top 10 recipes for 2008. Really, we did. But we failed.

So here's our top 15, as chosen by the Food staff.

The list includes this recipe for halibut and shimeji baked in parchment, which we loved because it's so simple to make: Cook the mushrooms, wrap them in a parchment-paper pouch with halibut and bake. Even better, you can prepare the packets in advance and refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook. If you don’t have parchment, you can use aluminum foil.

If we overlooked any of your favorite recipes for 2008, please leave a comment letting us know -- we'd be happy to retrieve it for you.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times

Top Times recipes of 2008: Dandelion greens and Christmas lima bean tacos

Greens

There are few combinations in cooking more natural and flexible than beans and greens. That's what staff writer Amy Scattergood found when exploring twists on these two fundamental ingredients.

These inventive dandelion greens and Christmas lima bean tacos were our favorites of several very good dishes she came up with. The beans are earthy and rich; the greens are bitter with a slight bite -- just a few of the reasons its lands at No. 2 in our countdown of our favorite recipes of 2008.

On top of that, the combination is prettier than heck -- the dark green of the wilted leaves against the speckled, almost chocolate brown of the beans. If you can't find Christmas limas, you can substitute regular limas or even other beans such as pinto or Northern (though they won't be nearly as pretty).

Here's where we are with the rest of our countdown.

Photo: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Top Times recipes of 2008: Midnight chocolate brownie bites

Brownies

Former L.A. Times test kitchen director Donna Deane, who retired this year, was one of the best bakers we've ever known. Pies with flaky crusts, cakes with delicate crumb, she could do it all.

Few recipes have better demonstrated that than these fabulous chocolate brownies, which she developed for a story about classic summer picnic food.

Start with a deliciously dense combination of bittersweet chocolate, dark cocoa and mini chocolate chips, and add a bright flash of citrus from orange liqueur and peel.

Simply amazing, whether you eat them indoors or out. That's why they're on our short list of the top L.A. Times recipes of the year. Here's where the rest of the list stands.

Photo: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times 

Top Times recipes of 2008: Romesco with grilled bread, spring onions and shrimp

RomescowithgrilledshrimpIs romesco becoming the new pesto?

Just as our obsession with Italian cooking turned that Ligurian sauce of basil, nuts and olive oil into a near-staple, the increasing interest in Spanish cooking is doing the same for romesco, essentially peppers, nuts and tomatoes ground together until they’re nearly smooth.

If so, it couldn’t happen to a nicer sauce. "Earthy, toothsome, definitely habit-forming, romesco is rough magic in a bowl," wrote staff writer Amy Scattergood when she developed this recipe for romesco with grilled bread, spring onions and shrimp. In Spain, it’s traditionally served only in the spring, but if you ask us, this is good enough to eat any time. It's also good enough to land on our list of the top L.A. Times recipes of 2008. Here's where the countdown stands.

UPDATE: Some of you wrote to say we made it too difficult to find an accompanying recipe for "basic" romesco, which is the key component in this top dish. Our apologies. Here it is.

Photo credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.