Friday, May 29, 2009

House of Pasta in Culver City

A restaurant featuring a fresh concept in Italian Dining is a welcome addition to the Culver City Neighborhood near Jefferson and Mesmer.

House of Pasta is a “choose it yourself” type of venue, the kind of restaurant that is great for picky eaters.

The menu features pick your components pasta dishes and salads. If you want Linguini with in Maranara with Chicken, it's yours, if you want Penne with Alfredo and Peas, you can get it.

As my friend discovered, it helps to have a knack for food combining. This eater didn't appreciate his own creation, an everyday Penne with Alfredo and Chicken, and was jealous of other more creative combinations.
Our favorite creation was the Pesto Linguini with Veggies.

As he says, it helps to be a good cook.

I liked the food at House of Pasta, and the service couldn't have been better for what is essentially a take out place. Every one of the staff, probably all invested in the restaurant, came out to ask us how our meal was.

My only complaint is that I wish for a more dine-in-ish experience when I eat at the restaurant. I think the quality of the food calls for a plate, rather than a paper bowl when eating in. The food was worth that sort of presentation.

11800 Jefferson Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230

Tel 310-313-6077
Delivery 310-313-6078

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blackberry, blackberry, blackberry

We seem to be at the peak of a Mexican blackberry glut here in the U.S., with really nice blackberries showing up at Trader Joe's in New York for $3 a 12 oz. box. We've made blackberry muffins, blackberry clafoutis, blackberry martinis, and today we're having a blackberry tart. Here's a basic recipe that will work with just about any fruit that isn't hard like an apple, but if you wanted to make an apple or pear tart, you could steam, parboil, or saute the fruit to get it to the right consistency, so that the fruit won't be undercooked when the custard sets.

You can even use canned fruit. I've done this with canned mangosteen, which isn't commonly available fresh in New York. If you do use canned fruit, pour the syrup into a pan or a pot and boil it down to about half its volume, and pour it over the tart as a glaze when it comes out of the oven.

Shortbread crust: This all should be done quickly without handling the dough more than necessary. You want to keep it cool. Sift 1 cup of pastry flour into a bowl and cream a half cup (one stick) of cold butter in a stand mixer if you have one, or with a wooden spoon in a bowl. You can also grate the zest of half a lemon or lime or a whole key lime into the butter, if you like. Toss the butter in the flour, make a well in the center, and add an egg, a half cup of sugar, and a little vanilla extract, and mix by hand quickly with a pastry blender or two table knives just until it all comes together to form a dough. Flatten into a disk and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F, and roll out the dough to fill a 10-inch tart pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake the shell for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Right when it comes out of the oven, if the sides have sunk, you can use the tip of the handle of a knife to push the sides back up a bit. Cool in the pan on a rack and turn the oven down to 350 deg. F.

Custard: Bring 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract to a boil, either in a pot or the microwave is handy for this (about 2-3 min.). With a mixer or a whisk, beat four eggs and about 1/3 cup of sugar, and as the eggs start to thicken, add the hot milk mixture in a slow stream while beating continuously.

Put it all together: Arrange the berries or other fruit in the tart shell.

Here's a great trick from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook--Put the shell on the oven rack with the rack pulled halfway out, supporting the rack with one hand so that it stays level, and pour the custard over the fruit just until it reaches the top of the shell. Close the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.

You'll probably have some custard left over for some extra treats. Pour it into some small ramekins or coffee cups, and when there's 20 minutes left on the timer, put them in the oven. Remove the tart and the custards when just set, taking care not to overcook them. Let the tart sit at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

For crème brûlée--If you've got a torch, refrigerate the extra custards, and spoon about a teaspoon of sugar on top of each one and melt the sugar when ready to serve.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Updates--Frozen fish and the Fabulous $6 Wok Grate

I've updated a few past posts with new information.

We've added a new photograph of the iron wok grate showing the grate in action in our post on that topic.

Also, check out our entry on Trader Joe's frozen fish for some more information about the freezing process and a few more varieties we've tested.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hello Family of Food Friends!

Do you remember our very useful money saving post Food and Grocery Coupon Conglom-o-rama? Here is another link for you. Read Below!

Organic Valley eCoupons Now Available

Dear Organic Valley Farm Friends,

We've recently loaded up our web site with a new set of e-coupons worth $8 to help you enjoy the best of health and delicious goodness from our farmer-owned cooperative. Go to and follow the instructions to print them out.

The cows are in the pasture and Organic Valley family farms are working hard to bring the very best organic milk to your local retailer. Thanks to your support, the finest milk available is traveling the shortest distance to you! That means fresher milk and less fossil fuel. And the kids on the farms are growing up to learn the ways of farming in harmony with nature's wisdom for the future of your family and our planet.

You've been fantastic to us, and we'd sure appreciate it if you'd also thank the grocer where you buy our milk. Pat 'em on the back, send a letter, or fill out a comment card. We're all in it together, and your acknowledgment really makes a difference.

Thanks to you, our citizen-partners, for protecting the future of healthy farms and healthy food choices.

In cooperation,
The Farmers of Organic Valley

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Friend of Food CD RELEASE!

Friend of Food Darci Monet has just released her second album called Fusion.

The Family of Food Blog Highly recommends this music. Father of Food says his favorite song is "Breathe." Daughter of Food agrees at the moment, but her favorite changes, sometimes it is "Smoke and Leather" or "Paper Doll" or the lovely rendition of "It is Well With My Soul." You decide for yourself. Get it NOW!!!!
Here's a convenient Amazon Link for your buying pleasure.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Friend of Food Mandi Crocker has started a blog!

If you like food blogs, (you're here aren't you?) you should check it out.

She recently put up a fabulous post on how to make Penne a la Vodka

Mandi is an excellent cook and baker and if you are ever so lucky as to get your mouth around one of her MandiCakes, you will be forever changed as a human being.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bento of the Sea

There is no fish in this lunch, but yet, it is all about fish.

Here is what is in this fish tank:
Goldfish Crackers
A fishlike Red Radish swimming in a "roe" of peas
Bologna, Turkey, and Cheese on Wheat Bread, hand carved to look like a fish.
This sandwich was a special request from the twins, "We want Turkey and Bologna."

I hope they ate it up like sharks.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Best New Kids Joint in The Valley

I have always been a big fan of the local chain of Mexican Restaurants called Poquito Mas, but the newest one on Ventura Blvd. takes the cake when it comes to dining with the kids.

Poquito Mas focuses on fresh healthy food and their newest location is the nicest I've seen. The seating area is split into inside and out, with a more modern look than the others. Clean and bright, the dining room features a tortilla bar were you can watch the tortillas being made by hand. Is that what we see in the picture above? No, that is an image of my two year old playing with the "Mexican Playdough" we were given with our meal. Poquito Mas has thought of something different than the average set of crayons, they give you a small cup of tortilla dough to mash and sculpt. My kids love it! Add in the friendly staff, the delicious food, the abundance of high chairs, the balloons, lollipops, and yes, crayons, and I can barely get my kids to leave. Poquito Mas is a great spot for kids of all ages.

Poquito Mas
13924 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 981-7500

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sushi Zen Happy Hour, From Shutterform

Friend of Food, Shutterform, has given us the heads up to a Sushi Happy Hour in Newport Beach.

Most Sushi is half off from 3pm to 8pm at Sushi Zen.

Check out his post and amazing photography here.

Sushi Zen
1875 Newport BlvdA
100Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 722-2520

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