Gift Guide 2018: A Bit Fishy

November 25, 2018

Okay, I’ll admit it: I am obsessed with these anchovies.  This year I’m giving them to everyone I know.

Because here’s the thing: anchovies are one of those great secret ingredients that make every savory dish taste better. 

I know lots of people dislike anchovies, but that’s only because their only experience of the tasty little fish are the laughably bad ones sold in most supermarkets.  Nettuno anchovies are different: they’re fished by hand in Cetara Italy, then packed in salt.  You have to remove the tail and the bones (with practice it takes about one second).  What you end up with are plump, firm little filets, with a fine fresh sweetness that sings of the sea. Put them on pizza, in pasta, stir them into onions and olive oil before adding spinach or kale.  Add them to Caesar salad.  Or just plop a filet onto a slice of buttered bread for a perfect snack.

The Gustiamo website offers this recipe for pasta with anchovies.  I’m including it to encourage you to look at their other impressive products; that tomato extract, for instance, is the best tomato paste I’ve encountered. If you’re so inclined, you might want to throw in a jar with the anchovies. Any cook would be pleased.


500 grams of bucatini
anchovies (washed and prepped)
2.5 handfuls of raisins 
2.5 handfuls of Italian pine nuts
About 1 teaspoon of tomato extract
olive oil
2.5 cloves of garlic
1.5 handfuls of toasted breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Red wine 

1. Soak the raisins in wine for about 10-30 minutes
2. Crush the garlic, but leave it whole, and sauté in extra virgin olive oil until garlic is golden
3. Remove the garlic and add the cleaned anchovies
4. Stir with a wooden spoon until the anchovies disintegrate, then add the tomato extract
5. Add a few spoons of pasta water to the tomato extract and stir
6. Remove the soaked raisins from the wine and add them to the sauce, along with the pine nuts
7. In a separate pan, add the breadcrumbs and put on low heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Heat until toasted and add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste
8. When the pasta is ready, stir it into the sauce and then add the breadcrumbs
9. When ready to serve, add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 4

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Gift Guide 2018: World’s Most Beautiful Pans

November 24, 2018

You find old copper pots in antique stores all the time, and you stand looking at them, coveting their heft, their color, their sheer coolness in the kitchen. But then you look at their battered state and know you’ll never bother to have them re-tinned.  Which pretty much makes them useless.  And so you buy a new copper pot – which doesn’t make you nearly as happy.

If you want a vintage copper pot, one filled with both beauty and history, go to East Coast Tinning. Jim Hamman not only finds breathtakingly beautiful cookware, he also re-tins it.  So your friends can start cooking on copper right away.

I love this little covered gratin pan so much that I’ve suggested Jim copy it and sell it new.

Jim makes his own gorgeous line of hand-made copper pans.  Some are lined in sterling silver – which is a better conductor of heat than even copper. And now, in an extremely bold move, he’s making a line of solid sterling pans with leather-covered handles.  They’re sexy and gorgeous – kind of like jewelry for the kitchen – and if you have a lot of money and want to give someone a gift they will never forget, consider this incredible solid sterling saute pan.

Want to know how to cook in it?  Here’s Jim’s suggestion.

“I have perfected a process eliminating eggs sticking to tin- and silver-lined copper pans.  Here it goes:

1.)  In your favorite egg pan, set on Medium heat

2.)  Add about a tablespoon olive oil

3.)  Add a thin butter pat – coat the cooking surface

4.)  Heat only until a drop of water dances on the pan (crucial point)

5.)  Add eggs – Scrambled for Omelette – Whole for fried

6.)  Cook….while still slightly wet on top (they should not stick),

     –  Flip fried eggs

     –  Fill and fold an omelette – flip

7.)  Slide off onto a warmed plate

8.)  For the second set – slightly LOWER the heat add a 1/2 pat butter – Repeat.

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Gift Guide 2018: Oil for Nuts

November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving was different this year, because of this wonderfully aromatic oil.  I used it to saute the onions in the stuffing: first it filled the kitchen with the haunting aroma of wild pecans and then it lent the stuffing itself a distinctly nutty flavor.

I’ve tried other pecan oils, but this one, with its lovely golden color, is different. Art of Pecan oil is pressed from the nuts of wild native pecan trees that grow along the creeks of Texas, which have a more intense flavor than cultivated trees. 

There are lots of reasons to love pecan oil.  According to the people at Art of Pecan it has more polyphenols than extra virgin olive oil and half the saturated fat. They claim it’s also rich in selenium and ellagic acid.

I don’t really care about that.  But I do love the flavor, and the fact that it has a high smoke point (470 degrees), which means that if you want to deep fry with it, you can.  (For comparison, peanut and soybean oil have a 450 degree smoke point.)

The beauty of pecan oil as a gift?  Even the most ardent cook is unlikely to have it in the larder – and anyone would be grateful to be introduced to this aromatic oil.

It’s not cheap, but right now if you order from No. 4 St. James and enter discount code AOP during checkout you’ll get 20% off a first order:

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Campanile in the Eighties

November 12, 2018

I found these pages floating about, with nothing to tell me what restaurant they belonged to. But I’m pretty sure this was Campanile – probably the restaurant that made me the happiest.

I loved the food that Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton were making – and I loved the way the restaurant (designed by Josh Schweitzer) looked.  There was a fountain in the front, filled with goldfish, which is why Nick called it “the fishy restaurant.”

Even today, thirty years later, this menu remains incredibly appealing. I think they were the first to serve warm, just-made mozzarella in LA.  And I know they were the first to serve those great Persian mulberries.


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LA in the Eighties: Looking toward Asia

November 10, 2018

Before Night and Market, there was Talesai. As you can see, it was always a family affair.  And always exciting.

And I had forgotten, until I unearthed these old menus, how interesting the food was at Chaya Brasserie.  Note that back then, early eighties, they felt the need to tell their patrons what pesto was. There is so much here I’d like to be eating right this minute.

Meanwhile, my kitchen is filled with interesting new products I’m testing for the annual Gift Guide.  Lot’s of great stuff here; the Guide begins the day after Thanksgiving.

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