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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by JFLinLA

  1. Julia has never let me down. Plus, with Dorie Greenspan's involvement in this book, how could you ever go wrong? In direct answer to your question, I have had this book for so long, and used it so much (the binding is broken), that I often don't even think about the source of some of my regular creations that came from here. On the other hand, when I'm thinking about doing something new or different, it's one of the first things I grab.
  2. Melkor asks the real question. What are your options without the hour drive? If you live in a big city, or in a foodie-rich place (wine country) then Harris Ranch may not be worth the drive. On the other hand, if you don't have other options close by, then it might be worth while. Remember, it's the Central Valley. Whether or not you like the beef, I've also had great salads there and other stuff with really fresh produce. Of course that was at other seasons and not mid-fall. Besides, here in LA, you could easily drive over an hour to get to some hot restaurant that may not be worth the drive or the price either. Go and enjoy yourself. So what if it's not The French Laundry or Spago or Chez Panisse or whatever?
  3. JFLinLA


    I love, love, love the challah recipe in the Baking with Julia book. It's my standard recipe and it uses butter as well as honey. If anyone wants to PM me with their e-mail, I'll send you the PDF version of the hand-out I created for the challah class I taught last year at my temple. It's based on this recipe but includes some tips I've learned along the way and step by step instructions with pix for what the dough should look like at various stages and a 6-rope braid, my favorite. Of course for Rosh Hashanah, I make a round challah -- one with raisins and one without. Have I ever mentioned my menorah-shaped challah for Hanukkah? The hamantashen-shaped challah for Purim? Or the lulav/etrog challah for Sukkot? I think you can do just about anything except, of course, for Passover.
  4. Wouldn't a good ganache, with good chocolate, work?
  5. In total honesty, I've had more than one disappointment with SY's Secrets of Baking. I'm OK if a recipe comes out without the exact flavor or texture I expected, but there are recipes in the book which did not perform at all as presented. I even posted the problem about one here and others tried it with the same misfortune (it wasn't a cake recipe). I would expect more from SY but something like that turns me off from a book. That's why I said earlier that the Nick Malgieri and Dorie Greenspan books have always been dependable. RLB is a great reference book. Also, Baking with Julia has never let me down. Of course, that's got DG's finger prints all over it but, then again, anything by Julia (with or without co-authors) has always been dependable.
  6. I love RLB's Cake Bible but didn't originally. When I first got it I was very new to baking and, to be honest, found it intimidating. What I needed was some more experience hands on with baking before I could go back and appreciate what RLB provides. So, it depends where you are and what you are looking for. You may want to start with Nick Malgieri or Dorie Greenspan. Both of them provide recipes that are easy to follow and, from my experience, have always been foolproof. That's just my opinion.
  7. "Little Ethiopia" area of LA is La Cienega, south of Olympic. ← Oops, my goof. Little Ethiopia is Fairfax, south of Olympic . . . not La Cienega. (Too late to edit.)
  8. "Little Ethiopia" area of LA is La Cienega, south of Olympic.
  9. Thanks for the empathy, Dorie, and the insights into this dilemma from both you and Dan. And if anyone out there in egulletland is writing a baking book in the future, I am now available for hire in order to test and convert your recipes! ← Or you can follow my routine. Once I try a recipe, if I decide I like it, I'll weigh everything the next time I make it and just write the wieghts right into my cookbook. (Yea, I'm sure you pros do this all the time but I was pretty proud of myself the first time I figured this out.) By the way, picked up the book on Friday and spent the weekend reading it. (Yes, I read all my new cookbooks first.) I'm stunned. There are so many recipes I want to try. I just need more occasions for baking. The book makes me sooooo happy.
  10. Amazon claims they are already shipping it!
  11. It's more than just the cost, it also depends what atmosphere you are looking for. Here are some ideas: The Nook Bistro -- on Santa Monica Blvd, west of the 405 (probably on the high side of what you're looking for) Here's a thought -- get a little adventurous in terms of ethnic food. Have you explored Sawtelle between Santa Monica and Olympic? Lot's of Japanese and different varieties and all price ranges. Have you explored Westwood Boulevard, south of Wilshire all the way down to Pico? This area is rich with Persian restaurants and markets. A Little Taste of Hoboken -- On Westwood Boulevard, between Olympic & Pico. Another Italian place. More casual and relaxed and the have funky hours but worth checking out. A ton of Italian places along San Vicente in Brentwood. From plain to fancy. Westwood Village is a problem if you want something a little nicer. However, I do enjoy lunch/brunch at Le Pain Quotidien. There's one on Broxton in the Village and another on Barrington, just south of Sunset. JR Seafood (Chinese) on Santa Monica Boulevard, west of the 405.
  12. Dorie's Baking with Julia and Paris Sweets are standards for me and no recipe has ever let me down. (And, yes, love those Korovas) If judging by the past, the recipes will be well explained and never let you down. (Not like some other unnamed books by well known bakers I have purchased over the years.) Gotta go get this one. Hey eG, how about an interview with Dorie to promote her new book?
  13. Whoever told you this probably thinks that blueberry or jalapeno are legitimate bagel flavors. 'Nuff said!
  14. Let me just add in that black and whites are definitely available, and have been for a very long time, here on the west coast. That is, of course, for those of us who grew up in LA which has a long tradition of great Jewish delis and bakeries and the like. (See threads elsewhere on pastrami and Langers.) However, it does depend on your areas tradition in this area. My parents were transplanted NYers who moved west in the middle of the 20th century as did many others. Grandma followed them out here and lived in the Fairfax area where there were any number of great Jewish bakeries along Fairfax and 3rd and other such places (Schwartz's, Star, King David, etc.). When I was 10, the family moved up to San Francisco which had great bread and other food but no tradition of NY-style bakeries and delis. The lack of black and whites was a real disappointment. However, grandma would come up to visit often on PSA (the Southwest Airlines of its day.) Before she would visit, she would B&Ws by the dozens at one of the better bakeries, have them frozen individually before being packed in the bakery boxes with those wax sheets in between. She'd get off the plane with stacks of pink bakery boxes tied together which would live in our freezer till her next visit. Not as good as fresh but they were a real treat. Of course, my Mom would always eat the blacks and leave the whites which was another issue. There are still many good Jewish eateries around LA. The concentration in the Fairfax area has thinned out as the Jewish population has shifted to Pico, West LA, the Valley and even further.
  15. And, besides the food, have you decided which, if any, of our fine institutions of higher learning you will attend?
  16. Those aren't real black and whites!!! No self-respecting New Yorker would consider those the real thing. Oh my! Those are on a par with blueberry bagels!! Worse, in fact. BTW -- we never ever called them black and white cookies. They were simply called black and whites. Because they're not cookies, really. They're not even close to a cookie. I blame Seinfeld for this misnomer. And, um, nix on the mocha. Although I've seen black and whites in all different sorts of colors these days. Sometimes with the Yankees logo, sometimes with the Mets logo, with a pumpkin face on Halloween. They're very pretty, but I can't quite bring myself to buy one. There have been other black and white threads on eGullet, IIRC, so perhaps they contain recipe links. Black and whites. ← Ah . . . someone who knows a real black & white. No fruit in real bagels and not real black & whites wrapped at the cash register. Okay, I gotta go get some, from a real bakery where they are baked and frosted fresh every day.
  17. "The government" is not going to destroy Surfas. As I already said:
  18. You can make yourself nuts trying to recreate the black & white cookie of someone's childhood memory. These are among my favorites but I've found that people have different opinions as to what they think a classic version is. Yes, they are really cake like and frosted half & half but after that, it breaks down. It's like trying to come to a single conclusion on who has the best pastrami or bagels or whatever. Here in Los Angeles, where we have many Jewish bakeries, people will disagree over who has the best one's. Most people I know like Bea's and they're not bad but the ones at Juniors are my fave. You get the idea. You can find several versions of recipes for black & white cookies on line. Here's one from Martha Stewart's site. Here are 3 from Food TV. One from Wayne Harley Brachman. And two from Gale Gand -- Gand #1 and Gand #2. I didn't look at the 2 Gale Gand ones closely to see if they are really different. I seem to remember that I made one of them some time ago. I've had them with both a shiny glaze sort of topping and also one more fudgy. You'll have to try a lot of trial and error. I know you can order them online from Zabar's so you should at least check there to get a picture of what you're working toward. Good luck.
  19. I love Surfas. Maybe if you're a pro and know exactly what you want, you can find it elsewhere. But for a committed amateur like me, it's great. I often know what I'm looking for but wandering the aisles at Surfas has also allowed me to stumble onto items I never would have thought of on my own. Also, I've always found the staff to be helpful. Of course, a busy Saturday afternoon or close to the holidays in December they are more stretched but that's true anywhere. I've found them generally more knowledgeable than at other cooking or gourmet stores available to the average person like me -- Sur la Table, Williams Sonoma, etc -- and certainly more helpful than other "restaurant supply" places that, while open to the public, are really more geared for the trade. Of course, I live on the Westside and commute back and forth on the 10 freeway so, geographically, they are easy for me to get to. I've read all the stuff from the story in the LA Times last Wednesday to some of the other stories posted here. I'm also a little familiar with what's going on in Culver City. While I don't have any inside info, there are a lot of forces at play here. The vote in November has a lot of cities really scared. A lot of the statements and quotes in the articles sound like a fair amount of posturing to me -- on the part of the City and Len Surfas. Surfas has been in Culver City for a long time and the folks at the City know what they've got in terms of how it's been important to putting the City on the culinary map. I think that a solution will be found to allow Surfas to keep its store at its current location. Just my thoughts.
  20. You know, as I read this and the many others from visitors to our fair state, I think there is a real chance of driving yourself stark raving mad. (Did anyone see Tupac's last list of restaurants for his visit here?) It's a big state and, in your case Jakob, all of the coastal areas you are thinking about are gorgeous. There's absolutely no possible way to do it all and don't even try. Sure you'll "miss out" on what you don't get to but just enjoy what you do see. Just pick one or two of the places on your list, a few wineries and restaurants -- both plain and fancy -- and enjoy yourself. Quite frankly when I go somewhere I don't know, I'd rather spend a little while in one place and get to know it better than trying to rush from place to place and spend all my time traveling.
  21. I'm from LA too but we love Big Sur. The Ventana and Post Ranch are expensive but, if you can swing it, really special. There are other places too in Big Sur, just haven't been in a while.
  22. I know folks here at eG like to trash Harris Ranch. However I've had some perfectly respectable meals on that drive up and down I-5, including one this time of year where I had an amazing steak and tomato salad. August -- you can't go wrong with tomatoes. Yum. Let me stress again, when you're done at Caltech, think about heading into LA's Chinatown or the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese. Both a relatively** short hop. It would be too late in the day for dim sum but you can get some good food. ** Remember, distance (and therefore travel times) are different in California.
  23. Seems not all is well at Spago. Check this out from the Bon Apetit Editor's blog. Click here.
  24. It is quite a list. I think you're missing out by not doing Chinese in LA. From Pasadena, you're really close to the San Gabriel Valley. Or, in LA's Chinatown in the downtown area -- Phillipe's is close by. You need not go to Castroville for artichokes. They're everywhere these days. Just get them at a good farmer's market or, depending what routes you are driving, some road side farm stand. Same is true for berries though it may be getting a little late for strawberries. Enjoy.
  25. I love doing finger-food dessert buffets. Chocolate biscotti, korova cookies and chocolate dipped berries all come to mind. Also, Jacques Torres bite-sized almond brownies are great and easy and I bake them in mini-muffin tins with festive liners so they look pretty. Don't forget cupcakes. I have done and love doing bite-sized cheesecake squares. To avoid waste, bake in a square pan, sprayed with non-stick spray, lined with foil pressed will into the corners and up and over the sides to create a sling for each removal. Once baked and chilled, freeze, then thaw slightly and slice with a long sharp knife dipped in hot water for pretty cuts. Then, put each square in a nice wrapper. Depending on the size you can use anything from little paper dessert cups to full size muffin tin liners.
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