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I'm a PBS cooking show junkie. I manually have to record the shows every Saturday because for some reason my DVR doesn't remember to do it, but that's part of the fun: at 12 PM, I cue up PBS and set recordings for Lidia Bastianich, Ming Tsai, Sara Moulton, Steve Raichlen, and America's Test Kitchen. As far as I'm concerned, these shows are the best cooking shows on TV (Netflix notwithstanding) and you can learn so much watching them. Case in point: the America's Test Kitchen episode I caught about katsu chicken. Bridget and Julia explained that what makes katsu chicken so light and crisp and airy is that you don't coat the chicken in flour before dredging it in egg and panko. You just go from egg to panko to pan. So that's what I did on Saturday night, and the dinner that I made (see below) was such a huge hit, I think it might become a staple...
What I've Been Cooking:
1. Katsu Chicken with Rice, Green Beans, and Tonkatsu Sauce.
This may look like a lot, but if you go in stages, it's really not that much. Start with the rice: I cook mine in a rice cooker. So rinse the rice, pop into the rice cooker (if you don't have one, consider it: it's a great investment), and press the button. Then move on to the green beans. Cut off the stem ends and drop the beans into heavily salted boiling water for about a minute and then shock in ice water. Drain and set aside.
Finally, make the Tonkatsu sauce. It's a crazy simple recipe but it makes a huge impact: mix 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. That's it!
(Forgive the Hunt's: I sent Craig to the gas station to get ketchup and that's all they had. Normally we're a Heinz family.)
Now for the chicken. Listen how easy: put three eggs in one pie dish and whisk with a big fat pinch of salt. In another pie dish, add a bunch of panko. (Bridget and Julia smashed their panko in a Freezer bag first to make it finer, so feel free to do that. I didn't.) Now take a boneless, skinless chicken breast, put it on your board, cover with a piece of plastic, and bash with a rolling pin until pretty flat.
In a large frying pan (I used cast iron) glug in some neutral oil (I used grapeseed) until the bottom is coated. Crank up the heat.
Now listen how easy: dredge the chicken in the egg, then pack on the panko, and plop into the pan. Keep the heat between medium and high: you don't want it to cook too fast (the panko will burn), but you don't want it to cook too slow. Let's just say you want a nice, active sizzle.
Flip every minute or so until both sides are deep, dark, golden brown and a thermometer registers 165. Remove to a plate to cool for a second and then slice like you saw in the much more attractive top picture. Sprinkle on some more salt too.
Finally, to reheat the green beans, pour some olive oil into a nonstick skillet, heat it, add the drained beans, toss them around until they start to sizzle. When they're warm (it's ok, you can feel them), sprinkle with salt and squeeze on some lemon juice.
To plate: pile up some rice, slice the chicken into strips and place on top. Green beans on the side, and put Tonkatsu sauce into a little bowl. There you go: thank you PBS.
2. Persimmons, Yogurt, and Granola.
If you live in a place that has persimmons and you're not buying them, you're missing out! My favorites are the hachiya, which numb your mouth if you eat them too early... but when they get all mushy, you know they're ready; you slice them up and they taste sweeter than candy. That's what you see in the bowl above with some Greek yogurt and granola and it was such a treat, it was like eating dessert for breakfast. I can't get enough.
3. Freezer Cookies.
I'm always baffled by people who say that they don't bake because they don't want to eat it all themselves. You don't have to! Make only what you want to make and freeze the rest. That's what I do with cookies: any time I make chocolate chip cookies, I bake off the ones that I want to eat or serve in that moment, and the rest I freeze raw directly on the cookie sheet and the next morning I plop into freezer bags for our future selves.
What you see above are freezer cookies from a month ago (a Back in the Day Cookbook recipe; my favorite recipe, actually) that I baked for friends last Tuesday night. I just took the frozen cookies, put them directly on the baking sheet with a Silpat, placed in a 350 oven, and took them out when they were golden brown on the outsides and still soft in the middle. It's the best gift you can give yourself next to going to college.
Where I've Been Eating:
1. The Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel.
We went with our friends Ryan and Jonathan to the Sunset Tower Hotel on Friday night for dinner at the Tower Bar which is a hyper-chic destination in L.A. Apparently, there's a whole seating system with the left side and the right side and the maitre'd determines your fate. Luckily, we were judged left-side worthy and we were led to a table in the same section as Larry David, so we must have done well.
Normally, I'm not so into sceney places, but I really had a fun time at the Sunset Tower. There was live music, our server was super friendly, my pork chop was a little dry, but the dessert was perfect: it was a make your own sundae that the table collaborates on via a sundae ballot. (And this was after last Tuesday's election, so I had some practice checking the boxes.)
I remember vanilla. I remember hot fudge. I remember some debate about Heath Bar vs. Peanut M&Ms. The Peanut M&Ms won. But, man, sometimes the simplest things are really the best: dipping my spoon into that sundae and eating all of that stuff together was maybe my favorite bite of the week. I want to get a giant sundae goblet like that and serve a huge sundae at my next dinner party. Tell my assistant to make a note of it!
2. Turkish Breakfast at Kismet.
I met my friend Diana for breakfast last week and we decided to go to Kismet, which is normally a favorite for lunch. Well when one goes to breakfast at Kismet, one feels compelled to order their signature breakfast item: the Turkish breakfast.
That's what you see above. It comes with all kinds of goodies: cucumbers in yogurt, salad, dates, olives, a spicy egg, and the most delicious bread. Actually, breakfast is the perfect time to go to Kismet: it's quiet, the room is just starting to light up, and you can even open your laptop and no one will bat an eye. Maybe I'll become a breakfast regular. Have my assistant make a note of it!
3. Bon Vivant in Atwater Village.
There's this place in Atwater Village (where we live) called Bon Vivant that's really starting to charm me lately in how college-like it feels. I say college-like because it reminds me so much of the places I used to go in college: cozy, comfortable, just a place to grab food, maybe a beer, kick up your feet, meet friends, meet your improv troupe, you get the idea. The food here is fine; it's not amazing, but it hits the spot. And I'm kind of obsessed with this smoked salmon sandwich:
It's served on a bad baguette (like super bready and not well-made, but somehow that's what's good about it?) with dill cream cheese and pickled cucumbers. I don't know why I like this sandwich so much. It tastes like airport food, but in the best possible way.
Also: fun fact, I made an Instagram video the other day in my stories, panning the room, and a woman come up to me afterwards and said: "Not everyone wants to be in your video, sir!" I apologize to her. I hope she's not on the run from the feds?
4. A Slice of Nicole Rucker's Blueberry Pie at Dinosaur Coffee.
Nicole Rucker is a pastry superstar who's about to open her own place here in L.A. Meanwhile, she bakes her famous pies and sells them at various outposts throughout the city. One of those outposts, Dinosaur Coffee, is where I like to work most days and so when I saw a slice of her blueberry pie for sale the other day, I couldn't say no to it. And I'm so glad I didn't: this pie is good. When her cookbook comes out, we'll all find out how she keeps the pie so fresh-tasting: the berries taste barely cooked; they still have that brightness. And the crumble on top is amazing. I'm ready for another slice.
Links & Things:
[Went to the Huntington Library in Pasadena for the first time on Sunday and absolutely loved it.]
* 8 Spectacular Pies That Taste as Good As They Look, The New York Times
* In Praise of Pumpkin in a Can, Los Angeles Times
* The Disgusting Food Museum Curates 80 of the World’s Most Repulsive Dishes: Maggot-Infested Cheese, Putrid Shark & More (still looks better than the food at Noma!), Open Culture
* What Happened When I Started Intuitive Eating, Cup of Jo
* No-Knead Potato Pizza, David Lebovitz
* Roberta’s Roasted Garlic Caesar Salad, Smitten Kitchen
* Inside Dorie Greenspan’s Upper West Side Apartment, Curbed
* The Story of America, Told Through Mark Twain’s Favorite Foods, The New York Times
* Ice-T has never eaten a bagel in his life (he’s missing out!), Celebitchy
* America’s 38 Essential Restaurants, Eater
* Ryan Sutton gives one star to Misi on Eater and Pete Wells gives it three stars in The New York Times. Who do you believe?!?!
As mentioned above, Craig and I went to the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena for the first time on Sunday and it was such a lovely place to roam around and explore.
Otherwise, I mentioned to Craig on Sunday that I'd never really seen The Godfather II all the way through (I'd seen it in pieces on TV). So we did a two night viewing of The Godfather I (on Sunday night, with a stir-fry not worth mentioning in this newsletter) and The Godfather II (on Monday night, with pizza... a better pairing). Well, I know I'm stating the obvious here, but those two movies are really stunning works of art. The second in particular is such a powerful statement about the futility of revenge; though it's funny, because I'm sure there are plenty of people (Donald Trump may be one of them) who think Michael Corleone was perfectly reasonable in taking the steps that he takes at the end of that second movie. Either way, if you've never seen them, The Godfather movies are all on Netflix. (We still need to see the third. Or maybe we don't?)
OK, that's all for this week folks!
Until next time....