I look forward Wednesdays. That's the day the Los Angeles Times comes out with it's food section.
That's not to say I don't have one major beef with them, and that being, their overwhelming neglect of the Valley. There are rarely reviews or articles, that have an even remotely "Valley-centric" view, I aim to change that, as I believe my little corner of Los Angeles has a population with great tastes and a big need for fine dining right in their own back yard....(getting off my soap box).
Even so, I enjoy perusing the section over my cup of coffee, wincing when a restaurant receives less then 1 star and cheering when they receive more. Of course I always turn to my fellow bloggers to see who has gone to the restaurant themselves, and compare reviews.
Then, there are the recipes. Seasonal recipes ranging from simple to complex, some from staffers others from contributing writers. I always tell myself to save the paper, clip my favorites, and actually try making some. But I must confess, after 20 years of reading the paper, and 5 of reading the food section regularly, I have YET to clip or try my hand at even one of their recipes. Handsome cohort has actually clipped, but alas no cooking has resulted from said clipping.
Of course I am not alone in this. ..right?
In that light, as I delve deeper into my "blogism", I am vowing to try at least one recipe from my local food section, per week.
This, of course, is not an original or uber inspired idea, just my way of staying motivated to try new ingredients and cooking methods. Plus, don't you always wonder how good those recipes really are from those setting themselves up as the arbiters of taste?
Before I go further I must mention the Wednesday Chef Website authored by Luissa Weiss, who has been blogging since 2005. She may very well be the originator is this fun way to cook.
She takes, and creates, recipes from the LA and New York Times food sections and then tells her readers like it is, in an honest and amusing way.
Unlike Wednesday Chef, Sunday Dish doesn't have the wherewithal to review more then one recipe a week! Nor do I have a stack of cut out, yet never used recipe clippings. None-the-less, Luissa at Wednesday Chef, and all the other creative bloggers out there, have truly inspired me!
That is why I decided that Fridays will now be: "Food Section Friday." Of course, being an Angeleno, I will draw mainly from the Times. But I'm giving myself a bit of wiggle room, leeway if you will, to borrow from the food sections of other cities.
So without further ado...
Roasted red pepper-Casacbel Romesco sauce
From the Wednesday May 28, 2008 issue:
- 2 dried Cascabel peppers (note: I went to 3 stores looking for these. I live in LA in an area with a large Hispanic population and could not find these. Ooooh! So frustrating. I used a Guajilla pepper instead - but only 1/2 'cause that baby was spicy! I'll find those damn peppers, I swear I will!)
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup almonds - blanched and peeled (I brought almonds that were already blanched, peeled and sliced. Much easier)
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- 1/4 + two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 oz good quality country white bread, sliced - crusts removed (fyi, I didn't remove the crusts, no harm done.)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferably Spanish
- 2 tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar, preferably Jerez
- 1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley.
1. Place a rack in upper third of oven and heat the oven 375 degrees.
Stick a fork (I used a knife) through the peppers and place down in a bowl to keep the peppers submerged.
Cover with boiling water for at least 30 minutes to soften, then stem, seed and set aside.
2. while the peppers are softening roast the red pepper on a gas stove or under a broiler. Place the pepper in a plastic bag or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and cool. Peel, stem and seed the pepper, don't rinse, set aside.
3. toast the nuts in the 375 degree oven until golden and aromatic, 8-10 minutes. If the hazelnuts have skins, cool and remove by rolling them in a kitchen towel. Set aside the nuts and increase oven temperature to broil.
4. Half the tomatoes, length wise and place them skin side up on a foiled lined baking sheet. Coat the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then broil the tomatoes until the skins begin to darken and crack, about 5 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet, then peel, core and set aside. (note: because I didn't read this closely, I pre-cored my tomatoes, and cut them in 1/2 through the middle. It was super easy to use my fingers to scoop the seeds out later. I also broiled my tomatoes and my bell pepper at the same time, didn't really see the point in doing them separately. And as you can see I used parchment, not foil, just a personal preference.)
5. In a skillet heat the rest of the olive oil and fry bread to golden brown. Cool and set aside.
6. In a food processor (note: I used a blender) coarsely chop the garlic, salt, fried bread and nuts.
Add the peppers, tomatoes, paprika, vinegar and parsley and process to a rough paste. Slowly pour the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and process until combined.
This was a an easy recipe to follow considering all the little odds and ends there were to do, in order to get it all together. There was the minor irritation I suffered in not being able to find the peppers, but when it comes to cooking you often have to punt, and so I did.
The flavor of this is terrific (although Little Chef - my daughter - found it a tad too spicy.) The nuts and toasted bread give it an underlying richness, a smokiness, that is unique and very delicious. Be forewarned, if you have a date, you may want to lay off the sauce, the garlic flavor is pretty intense. Since my kissing partner is out town for the next week or so, I dug into it with gusto!!
To go with my Romesco I created another recipe from this weeks Food Section: Peter Reinhart's Thin Wheat Crackers. This one was not quite a success. I'll fill you in on the details of that endeavor, later in the week.