Posts from December 2010

Snow Therapy in London, Tea Time 5 from Bake a Boo to Postcard Teas

When the weather wreaks havoc on our best laid plans, a cozy place, the comfort of habit can be soothing.

In the same way that I enjoy sitting in a quiet pastry shop an a cold day in New York, I am sure that our friends in the UK find the afternoon tea time tradition a welcome break from snow, ice and disruptions to holiday travel.


Here's Tea Time 5 in Time for Tea (as shared by Phaidon Edit):

"Quintessentially British, undeniably indulgent and sometimes downright decadent, the ritual of afternoon tea, served with sandwiches or freshly-baked scones with clotted cream and jam, has been enjoying a recent renaissance. And while the Palm Court at The Ritz might seem like a /nonpareil/ setting, some less conventional venues in London have taken up the baton with aplomb. Whether you are an arty type of a true tea connoisseur, here are five of the best places to take tea in the capital:

1. Postcard Teas - one for true tea connoisseurs. With an endless list of rare teas sourced from across the globe by its owner, tea expert Timothy d'Offay, Postcard Teas is an Aladdin's cave overflowing with precious Oolongs, Assams and Tisanes. Conveniently located just south of Oxford Street, Postcard Teas is a perfect place to enjoy tea and cakes after a hard day of Christmas shopping.

2. Loafing -off-the-beaten-track. Located in London's East End, Loafing is a rustic, cosy and laidback café serving some of the best locally-sourced cakes and pastries accompanied by wide selection of teas and award-winning coffee.

3. Bake-a-boo -for traditional charm. Renowed for its fairy-like hand-baked cupcakes and mouthwatering cakes, Bake-a-boo is a pretty, pastels-and-florals retreat in West Hampstead. Cream tea, together with finger sandwiches, scones and 'many more delicious delights' is served daily and a selection of wheat, gluten and dairy-free cakes is also available.

4. The Gallery Mess - for the art connoisseur. With its neat interior and relaxed buzzing atmosphere, Gallery Mess, in the Saatchi Gallery, makes a perfect venue for afternoon tea for contemporary art hunters in need of refreshment.

5. Les Deux Salons - for smarter occasions. Less formal than West-ends hotels yet still smart, and with an air of Parisian chic, the recently opened Les Deux Salons makes an afternoon tea a truly memorable experience. Cucumber sandwiches, scones and luscious cakes are served with pots of delicately scented teas. For added French factor, a selection of tarts and cheeses is also available."

(* Reproduced courtesy of Phaidon Press, originally published December 17 on Phaidon Edit)

Rosemary and Gluten Free, Kale Tart with Cranberries, Healthy Holiday Recipes

Since many of you devoured the Chick Pea Burger recipe, I am serving a second helping in the healthy-tasty department.

This one comes from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook (Celestial Arts, 2009) by Elena Amsterdam.

Kale Tart with Cranberries

Serves 6

I use rosemary in the crust of this vegetable tart as the sharpness of this herb complements the earthy taste of kale. Deep green and flecked with bright cranberries, this dish is a colorful taste of autumn and a wonderful vegetarian addition to any Thanksgiving feast.


3 cups coarsely chopped kale 

1 tablespoon thinly sliced shallots 

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 large eggs, whisked

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 Herb Tart Crust (Ingredients and Preparation below)

Makes one 9-inch crust

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and rosemary. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil and water. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before filling.


Rest of the Prep:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large pot with a steamer basket, wilt the kale over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until bright green.

Place the kale, shallots, and salt in a food processor and pulse until well-blended. Transfer the kale mixture to a bowl and stir in the eggs, cranberries, and pine nuts. Pour the mixture into the crust.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned around the edges and cooked through. Let the tart cool in the pan for 30 minutes,  then serve.

Sorry we could not get an image of the Tart itself.

More healthy, allergy free holiday recipes coming your way before the New Year...

Find more about the author on Elena's Pantry...Her next book Gluten-Free Cupcakes will be available in April 2011.

(*Reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elena Amsterdam, copyright © 2009. Published by Celestial Arts, a division of Random House, Inc.)

Bollywood with A Few Dashes of Iceland, Yesmine Olsson New Cookbook Video

Besides putting together good looking dishes, Yesmine Olsson has managed to mix careers as choreographer, dancer, trainer, TV Food personality and cookbook author.

Here's the video trailer for Yesmine Olsson new cookbook and DVD


Bollywood with a few dashes of Iceland.

Christmas Shopping in Hollywood? Craft and Vintage Holiday Sale, December 19

You will not find any snow unless it's artificial south of Sunset Boulevard this Sunday, December 19, 2010.

If you like Craft and Vintage gifts and happen to be near Hollywood, you still have time to pay a visit to the Craft and Vintage Holiday Sale taking place on 1445 N. Gardner Street  (just South of Sunset, next to the fire station).


This indoor sale starts at Noon (Pacific Time) and ends at 4 PM.

Please note, most Vendors take Cash Only...

Thanks to Califia of Spooning for the tip.

Spanish Tortilla from The Book of Tapas, Sunday Brunch, Holiday Recipes

Spanish Tortilla

Tortilla de patatas a la española

From The Book of Tapas By Simone and Inés Ortega (2010, Phaidon Press)

Serves 6


2 generous cups olive oil

2 ¼ lb potatoes, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

8 eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil


1 quantity mayonnaise (see below for recipe) to serve (optional)

Scrambled Tortilla


Heat the olive oil in an 11-inch skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the potato slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned. Season with salt, remove from the skillet and drain well. Beat the eggs vigorously with a pinch of salt in a large bowl for 1 minute. Add the potato slices and stir with a fork. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet over high heat. Tip in the egg mixture and cook, gently shaking the skillet occasionally, until the underside is set and lightly browned. Invert the tortilla onto the lid of a pan or a plat, then gently slide it back into the skillet, cooked side up. Cook, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the underside is set and golden brown. Serve immediately, with mayonnaise poured over it or offered separately.


Serves 6-8


1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar or lemon juice, strained

1 generous cup sunflower oil



Put the egg yolk in a bowl with 1 ½ teaspoons of the vinegar or lemon juice and a small pinch of salt. Stir lightly with a whisk or fork and then gradually whisk in the oil, 1-2 teaspoons at a time, until about a quarter has been added. Whisk in the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream. Add the remaining vinegar or lemon juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning. It is a good idea to make the mayonnaise in a cool place and store it in the refrigerator.

(* Recipe from 'The Book of Tapas' courtesy of Phaidon Press, Photograph by Mauricio Salinas)

Ephemeral Bar? LMDW Fine Spirits, Carrefour de l'Odeon, Paris

Forest Collins of 52 Martinis shared the opening of LMDW Fine Spirits on Carrefour de l'Odeon in Paris and I was left wondering if it was one of these Pop-Up stores for the holidays.

Here's what I could gather.

LMDW Fine Spirits is an ofshot of La Maison du Whisky (hence LMDW).

It's mostly a shop with 3 floors offering fine whisky, rum, cognac, calvados, armagnac, tequila, mezcal, cachaça, vodka, gin, fruit eau-de-vies, grappa, vermouth, cocktail well as sake, a selection of teas, coffees, spices and cocktail and tasting accessories.


The first floor is set as a professional bar surrounded by everything the amateur mixologist might want to play bartender at home.

It will also host classes for amateurs and professionals alike and showcases for specific brands like St Germain (made from hand-picked elderflower blossoms) or hosting parties as they did December 2 for GQ Magazine (French edition).

Forest Collins called the 'bar' part, 'bar ephemere' (ephemeral bar) yet it seems to be built to last at least it will not turn into pixie dust come January 1st.

In a nutshell, not a place to spend the evening, rather somwhere to discover new flavors, ideas, concoctions and shop a little before heading out.

I will hopefully manage to fetch a couple of Cocktail Recipes from them soon.

Opening Hours Are: 11 AM to 8 PM (Tuesday and Wednesday), 11 AM to ( PM (Thursday and Friday),
10 AM to 8 PM (Saturday)

(* Photo from Opening Night album on 'LMDW Fine Spirits' Facebook Page, both their website and Facebook page are in French only)

Wasting Bread is a Sin, Involtini from Tartine Bread, Holiday Recipes

Amongst all we have published so far in our Holiday Recipes marathon, Italian flavors and influence has been lacking.

We correct that slight with this Involtini recipe straight from the pages of Tartine Bread (Chronicle Books) by Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.


Involtini, derived from a word meaning “to wrap or bundle,” are preparations in which meat, fish, or vegetables are wrapped around a filling that often includes bread crumbs. Depending on the recipe, the rolls are served cold or baked with sauce as we do here. In southern Italy, religious tradition regarding the use of old bread advises one to waste none - a welcome respect for a loaf labored over.

Serves 4 to 6


Tomato Sauce

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

One 3-ounce can tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

One 16-ounce can whole tomatoes

Red wine vinegar



Bread crumbs made from 4 slices day-old country bread, whole wheat bread, or semolina bread (recipe follows)

2 cups whole milk ricotta

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 or 3 medium globe eggplants


Olive oil

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup finely grated Asiago cheese



To make the tomato sauce, heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sauté until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste turns a deep rusty red, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, using a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes into chunks. Season with vinegar and salt.

Meanwhile, to make the stuffing, in a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, ricotta, lemon zest and juice, thyme, and salt.

Trim the stem end of each eggplant. Using a mandoline, cut the eggplant lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick. You should have 12 slices. Sprinkle the slices on both sides with salt, layer them in a colander, and let stand for 1 hour. Press the moisture from the eggplant and blot them dry with a kitchen towel. Pour olive oil to a depth of 1 inch in a deep, heavy saucepan or large skillet and heat to 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Place 3 or 4 of the eggplant slices in the hot oil and cook until the slices take on some color, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, remove the slices and put in a colander to drain. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pour the tomato sauce into a medium-sized baking dish. Place a spoonful of filling at the one end of each eggplant slice. Roll the slice around the filling and place it seam-side down in the dish on top of the tomato sauce. Spoon a generous tablespoon of cream over each roll to moisten it. Bake until the edges of sauce around the sides of the dish are dark and the rolls are nicely caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes.

Garnish with the Asiago cheese before serving. 


(* Involtini recipe from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, published with permission of Chronicle Books, Photographs by Eric Wolfinger)

Pub Quizzes, Curries, Corsets, Just Don't Expect A Good Shower, Ms Marmite Lover London

After De Young Yes, Starbucks No in San Francisco with David Patterson we take a cross-atlantic flight and ask Ms Marmite Lover her 10 Do's and Don'ts (actually 11) for London.

There she goes.

London is without a doubt the best city in the world. So there! And I've travelled everywhere, lived in Los Angeles and Paris. I always return to London. It may be filthy, expensive, cold, grey and sprawling, but it's also a powerhouse of culture and innovation and a repository of history. 


1) History: where to start? This city is chocker with the past, from Jack the Ripper walks in the East End to famous architecture.
I recommend visiting museums and galleries, most of them are free. My faves: the Victoria and Albert museum (great gift shop!) and the Tate Modern.
Do find out about London's occult side past and present: visit Treadwell's bookshop for books or interesting talks (I went to one by ex Blondie guitarist Gary Valentine who has become an occult writer) or visit Cross Bones burial ground where there is a monthly vigil on the 23rd, honouring the outcast dead, mostly prostitutes and paupers in the 19th century.

2) Kinky sex: the French call homosexuality 'the English disease', we've always had our fair share of stately homos. Even straight English men come across as camp! Soho in the centre of London was historically a red light district, it's now Boystown UK. I highly recommend the fascinating talk and walk by  around Soho given by David Thompson every Sunday at 2pm meeting outside the Admiral Duncan pub on Old Compton st. 
Wanna get kinkier? 
Try a club like Torture Garden. It's S & M lite with beautiful women and men striking poses, looking like escapees from the set of Blade Runner/ Interview with the Vampire. There is a dress code to get in, but girls, to hell with going to gym and trying to nip in your waist via your own muscles, buy a corset at Blackrose in Camden market), just like in the old days, which does all the work for you!


3) Curry: Britain has some of the best curry houses in the world, better than India even. In London, curry hot spots include Southall (on the Piccadilly line) like little India; Drummond Street round the back of Euston (I like Zeen, bit posher) and finally the East End. Brick Lane in the East End used to have many good curry houses, it's now a bit touristy but a real authentic gem Tayyabs is near Whitechapel. Not only is it the best naan breads, rice, tandoori meats you'll ever eat but it's also hard to spend more than £15 a head.Order the tinda masala (squash curry) and tell them I sent you.Best to book, there are always queues.

Morroccan stall  

4) Green Spaces: despite the pollution and grey skies of London (Woody Allen says he loves the light here) we have some of the best parks in the world. Unlike Paris, with their regimented planting and 'do not sit on the grass' notices, our green spaces are wilder, more organically designed and, a plus in this rather sprawling city, large enough to feel like you are actually in the countryside. My favourite is Hampstead Heath,  where you can find edible mushrooms, watch bunny rabbits hop, and see the odd celebrity taking their Sunday walk. 

5) Food: visit Borough market, but best on Thursday and Fridays. The weekends are ridiculously crowded. There are plenty of tastings to be had, as well as hot food. If you love cheese you must check out Neal's Yard Dairy. Britain now has over 1,200 cheeses, beating the boast that De Gaulle made about France: "How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?". Other recommendations: Broadway market on Saturdays near London Fields and Portobello Road. 
Also do visit a supper club;  London is now the world centre for supper clubs, pop ups and home restaurants. This is the only way for a tourist to eat in Londoner's homes. I have listed a whole slew of them on my Supperclub Fan Group or visit the Underground Restaurant, my own Supper Club.

6) Pub Quizzes: the British love a quiz, and most local pubs have a quiz night. My favourite and possibly the toughest is Tuesday nights at the Prince of Wales in Highgate. It's a historic pub filled with spirits, both ghostly and alcoholic located in a historic and pretty 'village' of London. But there are plenty of others: check out the list at  Pub Quiz Help. Join a team if you can and share a few pints with the locals. There are usually some tricky questions about US geography so you'll be very popular.


1) Don't move slowly in the centre of town. We are busy, you are in the way. Don't stand in front of the tube barriers pondering your next move, you will likely get mowed down, but naturally with a very British and apologetic 'terribly sorry'.

2) Do not eat at crappy tourist restaurants in the centre of town. We do good food, despite our reputation, but if you eat at Angus steak house, Wetherspoons pubs or other chain restaurants, you will only be disappointed. Sometimes it's inevitable, being a tourist is exhausting and you inevitably end up flopping in the nearest place where you can have a sit down and a cup of tea, but don't judge us by those places.

3) Do not boast: about your country, your white and even teeth, or your salary. The British way is to be modest. If saying something good about yourself or the United States is unavoidable, merely mutter 'it's not bad', that's code for "it's bloody brilliant".

4) Don't mention God or religion. We are a post Christian nation, nobody overtly believes in God. If you do, we will think you are a nutter.

5) Don't expect a good shower: our water pressure is not particularly powerful compared to US style power showers. Also, we often take baths. Remember it's not a warm country so washing is not very high up the list of priorities.

Hope to see you back next Saturday or Sunday for another helping of 10 Do's and Don'ts in a different locale.

(* all photos by Kerstin Rogers, Typical HP sauce with Big Ben on it and Tower bridge in the background, David Thompson who gives the Soho talk, Morroccan street stall in Portobello market) 

Healthy Quick Bite, Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers, Holiday Recipes

You don't want to run out of gas in the middle of getting your holiday dinners on the road or while shopping til' you drop.

On a more prosaic note, some guests or family members with dietary needs might want alternative choices.

With them in mind we will share some Healthy Recipes.

We start with Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers by Rebecca Katz (and Mat Edelson) from The Cancer- Fighting Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2009), a great dish for vegetarians too.

These chickpea burgers are similar to a Middle Eastern falafel. But the Americanized version of falafel usually resembles carnival food: they’re often deep-fried in some unhealthy oil. It makes me want to cry, because falafel done right is so delicious and nutritious. It’s all in the blend. Here the secret ingredient is basmati rice, which holds the chickpea mixture together and creates a complete protein. I love the mini-burger concept; the whole wheat bun is like putting falafel in a top hat and tails, and it’s perfect for folks who like the taste of beans when they’re broken down and combined with heady herbs and spices. Gently pan-seared or baked, these burgers are bountiful bites of health, especially topped with a dollop of Tomato Mint Chutney (page 176). Makes 17 patties


2 cups cooked chickpeas (see page 110), or 1 15-ounce can, drained, rinsed, and mixed with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

21/2 cups cooked brown basmati rice

3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup loosely packed minced fresh flat-leaf parsley



Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the chickpeas, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth and well combined, scraping the sides occasionally. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the rice, bell pepper, and parsley.

Moisten your hands to keep the mixture from sticking, then shape the mixture into 1/4-inch-thick patties about 21/2 inches in diameter. Place them on the prepared pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the patties start to get dry and crisp on the outside. They will firm up as they cool.

Variations: For a crispy burger, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the patties for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Want a delicious dip for fresh, raw veggies? The chickpea and spice puree from the food processor makes a delicious hummus.

Prep Time: 15 minutes • Cook Time: 25 minutes

Storage: Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Burgers can also be frozen in cooked or uncooked form for 2 months (see Rebecca’s Notes).

Per Serving: Calories: 100; Total Fat: 3.5 g (0.5 g saturated, 2 g monounsaturated); Carbohydrates: 15 g; Protein: 3 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sodium: 223 mg

Rebecca’s Notes If you want to cook just a few patties, pop them in your toaster oven. To freeze these burgers, either cooked or uncooked, stack them up with parchment paper between the burgers, then wrap first in plastic wrap, then in foil. The parchment paper makes it easy to remove the desired number of burgers from the bundle. Once thawed, cooked burgers can be reheated at 350ºF for 15 minutes, and uncooked burgers can be baked as above, at 375ºF for 22 to 25 minutes.

(*Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.)

Heartthrob Baker Gontran Cherrier Opens His First Shop in Paris

In France, if Yves-Marie Le Boudonnec is the maverick butcher, Gontran Cherrier could qualify as the heartthrob baker.

Gontran was born and raised in a family of boulangers.

He just opened the first Gontran Cherrier Bakery in Paris.


Gontran invites us to "pay him a visit and taste life's each and every moment with the breads of our dreams" like the Panettone with orange zest, lemon essence, raisins and bergamot (above).

The shop also offers sweet and savory tarts such as an Onion, Comte cheese and Thyme tart.

As for the decor, it blends ceramic titles, oak wood and mirrors.

Gontran Cherrier Bakery is located 22 rue Caulaincourt - 75018 Paris.

Opening hours:  7:30 AM to 8:30 PM (Tuesday through Saturday),

7:30 AM à 7:30 PM (Sunday)

Closed on Wednesday all day

His latest book Pain ('bread') has received many awards.

An English version of Pain is in the works.

I will have to wait until my next visit to France to visit the shop for a tasting session.

(* Unless I am mistaken, photos copyright Marie Taillefer)