Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Right Ingredients

There was a Pasta Sauce competition recently among some friends. Two sauces, one winner... Iron Chef style. One of them remarked on how it was hard to find some common Italian ingredients at the local Big Grocery Chain, Ralphs.

Luckily for her we are not far from one of the best little Italian Markets in Los Angeles, Sorrento Italian Market on Sepulveda. This market has many imported goodies, sauces, pastas, and the like. If you don't need a can of white beans, stop for in for dough or pastries. Stand in line at the deli counter for some of the best sandwiches in LA. I usually get a turkey and cheese sub with their famous tomato sauce. That's all the sandwich comes with, yet the sauce makes it addictive.
The people who run this place could not be nicer in that old fashioned way. Ask and they might throw in an extra roll or piece of fruit with your order. Has a big grocery ever done that for you?

My friend won the competition with the components she gathered from Ralphs, but imagine how good that sauce might have been if only she had the right ingredients.


Sorrento Italian Market
5518 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 391-7654

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Seder Plate Box

As it relates to this blog, this week was a whirlwind of food in combination with family. Disaster brought me home. As I met with my grieving relatives and sympathetic friends, I was treated to a brief gastronomic tour of my childhood. It did what Comfort Food does best, providing a distractingly familiar sensation in the hind brain, capable of calming the rush of thought threatening to overwhelm the frontal lobe.

At the Shiva (the traditional gathering of a Jewish family after a death), the coconut bars made of chocolate, not yellow cake, found their way into my mouth as dessert and out of my mouth as conversation. The astoundingly fresh Raspberry Russian Tea Biscuits were both a sweet to savor and a souvenir to keep me reminiscing on better days. Whether from Pincus or Davis Bakery, the trays of cookies and pastries overflowed with sugar, butter, and kinship.

After visiting the cemetery, my husband and I took a trip to Ho Wah so I could share with him the pu pu platter with it's incredible beef teriyaki and barbecued spare ribs. I showed him the purity of a won ton soup unencumbered by wor bar embellishments rather simply accompanied by shrimp chips. My children loved the shrimp chips.

I went to Corky and Lenny's to meet with a cousin and got chopped liver and corned beef extra lean, the way our family always ordered it. And if you are a hard core Family of Food reader, you may wonder is the ceiling still covered in a mural of trees? Check the comments. Well, it's not. Although the decor has been modernized, the food is still great.

After eating and eating on this tour, I was too full to want more, so I met a friend at Tommy's on Coventry, just to have a place to gather. Thinking of how my waist was growing I resisted ordering the banana milkshake that is my favorite from this old haunt. Husband of Food ordered one of those legendary shakes with whole fresh bananas and my husband promised me two gulps and a sip to satiate my desire to taste. An extra shake came anyway. Somehow, that banana milkshake needed to be in my ever expanding belly. So in it went.

This constant tide of food kept me from facing the sad reality that one of the people I loved most on this Earth was truly gone. It was not until I was home when exhaustion and hunger finally broke the dam holding back emotion. As I unwrapped a small keepsake given to me, one that will remind me of so many gatherings at the table of my Aunt, I faced the truth.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

O sole mio!

Our plan was to hit the strip for about an hour or two and then go home for dinner. I was going to make some chicken livers, onions and eggs. During the ride back to the condo I mentioned to Mother of Food I was in the mood for some pasta. Since we had the chicken livers I decided to cook up one of my favorite dishes - “ Spaghetti alla Caruso”. This is how I prepared the dish that night.

One pound chicken livers
One half chopped onion
Quarter pound chopped mushrooms
Four cloves chopped garlic
Olive oil as needed
Three ounces butter
Cup of red wine
Barilla spaghetti sauce with garlic and mushrooms
Eight ounces of fettuccine
Flour
Seasonings
Flat leaf parsley
Parmesan cheese

Sautee the onions and mushrooms in two tablespoons of olive oil and one ounce of butter for about four minutes (kosher salt and pepper to taste). Remove the onion mixture from pan. Add a little more olive oil to same pan and add the livers, which have been cleaned and trimmed of any fat or connective tissues, dried then slightly floured. Cook the chicken livers for about three minutes before adding the garlic; continue cooking for another few minutes until the livers are browned. Now stir in one ounce of butter and begin scraping the pan for the flavorful brown bits waiting to be absorbed by the cup of wine you are now adding to deglaze the pan (I used some very good Chianti given to us by Cousins of Food). Pour in the Barilla and a little butter to smooth out the sauce. Mix everything together, cover pan and begin to simmer. Add your fettuccine to a pot of boiling salted water and when the pasta is ready to serve so is the sauce. Garnish the dish with some flat leaf parsley and some grated Parmesan cheese.

This dish really hit some high notes with Mother of food and me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vintage Vegas

It was Mother of Food’s thirty-ninth birthday again and to celebrate we decided to try a restaurant we had never been to - De Stefano’s. We knew that owner Bobby Capozzoli had owned other successful restaurants, the very popular Capozzolis on Maryland Parkway and Tower of Pizza on the strip. I called to make a reservation and found out on Saturday nights they also have music (an unexpected bonus).









We entered the restaurant only to be greeted by the owner and host and seated immediately. De Stefano’s is a cozy spot seating maybe seventy-five to a hundred people. There is a small bandstand and a dance floor in the middle of the room with a bar at the back. For atmosphere there is an artificial tree and vines with tiny white lights. Within moments a basket of hot bread was on our table. There was a lovely song stress singing and four musicians backing her up; trumpet, keyboards, bass and drums. As the night went on other musicians and singers stopped in and joined the quartet and jammed. The music consisted of jazz, standards and show tunes. Terry James the headline singer was fantastic. After the set she would stop by the tables and ask for requests. By the end of the evening we had a new friend. I commented to MoF that many of the songs we were listening to were over fifty years old and still sounded fresh. I wonder how many of today’s hits will be around in fifty years? The crowd was a mixture of couples, people from the entertainment industry and customers who seemed to be regulars or as we used to say “from the old neighbor hood”

The food was a little slow coming out but we were enjoying the music so much we hardly noticed. The food is cooked to order and was worth waiting for. Mother had prawns wrapped in prosciutto and panko crumbs and topped with pomodoro sauce, a favorite of Steve and Eydie Gorme. I had the Chicken Française. Dinner comes with a choice of salad or soup and a side of pasta or vegetables. My complements to executive chef Timmy on the preparation of these meals. The menu consists of many of your favorite seafood, chicken, veal and steak dishes cooked in chef Timmy’s Italian style. There are of course all different types of pasta and pizza,

Mother’s birthday celebration was a terrific success. Bobby Capozzoli makes everyone feel like family, stopping by your table checking to see if you need anything and even danced with MoF. The night felt like old Vegas during the era of the supper club. As Bobby came over to say good-bye, I shook his hand and said book us for next Saturday.

Location - 3430 East Tropicana
Phone# - 702-364-8424

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Aunt of Food

Recently we had some very fine blogs on brisket. Bome of the best brisket I ever ate was made by Aunt of Food. It was always something I looked forward to at her incredible Passover seders. I'm sorry to say they will only be memories now. Aunt of Food passed away yesterday. We vill all miss her very much.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Zoozacrackers

Zoozacrackers is a self-service New York style deli located in the Wynn resort and casino. It abuts the spots book. You enter and stand in line to order. While in line many of the menu items are displayed behind glass counters. They have deli sandwiches, salads, soup, burgers and desserts. Portions are large and food is good. I couldn’t decide between a cheeseburger and deli so I had a pastrami burger. A half-pound burger topped with Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and strips of hot pastrami with lettuce, tomatoes and onions on the side. Mother of Food had chopped liver on rye bread (two huge scoops). I thought the burgers a little pricey at $10.95. If you want fries that’s another $4.00 and a medium soda in a plastic cup, also $4.00. My sandwich was $13.95 no bargain but probably fair. When your order is ready the staff brings it to your table. Remember in Las Vegas many of the local casinos offer burgers and fries for less than $5.00. But none look as nice as Wynn.

Location - Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, Nv, 89109

Telephone # - 702-770-3463

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