Brownies & Lemonade: $20 Cooking Challenge

Los Angeles is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to be at.
Cook 5 servings + enough for samples for under $20: Can you do it?
budget banquet
Some of L.A.’s dopest chefs (from animal restaurant!) and good friends…
Coming on top is the new Whim Kitchen‘s ‘dough burger’, cheeky.
& the icing on top: their milk and cereal brownies.
i had the honor to be invited to judge the event

…while genuinely enjoying a microwaveable red-baron pizza

we have a pillow fortress themed art event next!
so BIG UP to my friends at BROWNIES & LEMONADE
making moves

not flashy, winning dough burger

bbq sandwiches with apple slaw & home-made pickles

yum, enchiladas

heart-stopping milk & cereal brownies from whim kitchen
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portobello mushroom sliders & roasted red pepper pesto

my weekend
new friends (thanks nick)
sunny san diego: always brings out the BEAST in me
eyes closed, bass pounding, menthol cigs and the heavy weight of a hand on my shoulder
my arms, back, neck, thighs
good vibes
consequences now

this classy recipe makes up for my weekend behavior

Balsamic-Marinated Portobello Mushroom Sliders with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
& Raw Kale Salad

2 large portobello mushrooms, gills scooped out, quartered
good balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
dinner rolls or mini brioche buns, brushed with olive oil (and garlic salt!)
spinach or arugula
asparagus cut in thirds
parmesan cheese
1 large red pepper (or a jar of roasted red peppers in oil)
8 – 9 large fresh basil leaves
1bsp lemon
1 tbsp roasted pinenuts
e.v.olive oil, salt, pepper
kale, stem removed, sliced
dried cranberries
slivered almonds
soy sauce
scallions, sliced 

in a mortar & pestle, crush a few leaves from a sprig of thyme and a clove of garlic with about 3 – 4 tbsp of good olive oil. whisk in about 1.5 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. drizzle over portobello mushrooms, toss, and leave alone to marinate. Toss asparagus and arugula, separately, in olive oil, splash of lemon juice, s/p.
meanwhile, in an oven at 350F or over a gas stove, char the red peppers, when cooled, peel. Or take 1 pepper from a jar of roasted peppers and place in a small blender. add basil, pinenuts, lemon juice, and a good drizzle of olive oil (3 tbsp). blend until smooth. add olive oil, salt and pepper as needed. Set aside
roast asparagus at 350F for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, roast for another 5 minutes.
in a grill pan or over a grill, grill mushrooms and bread

meanwhile, toss kale, cranberries, almonds, avocados and scallions in 2:1 parts olive oil and soy sauce. add pepper as needed.

to assemble, roasted asparagus, arugula, mushrooms, dollop of red-pepper pesto, and a slice of avocado
serve the kale salad on the side


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braised chicken breasts & garlic mash

despite having a mostly vegetarian diet, i love braised meat of any sort.

dear lord look at that gravy, salt, fat, and garlic content.

& tell me that isn’t heaven.

go ahead, i dare you.

braised chicken breasts
2 large bone-in, skin on, organic chicken breasts or thighs
2 large carrots (or pack of baby carrots)
2 stalks celery
1 onion, halved and sliced thickly
1/2 c. pearl onions
1 leek
1 clove garlic, minced
9 – 10 thickly sliced crimini mushrooms
low-sodium chicken stock
fresh thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage
5 potatoes

preheat oven to 300F/150C
using a mortar and pestle, grind herbs with about a tablespoon of good olive oil and a tsp ea of salt and pepper. gently rub herb mixture on chicken meat, under the skin. if using thighs, marinate in mixture for 30 minutes to an hour.
in a large dutch oven, heat olive oil and sear chicken breast over medium-high heat until browned on both sides. remove, set aside. drain some oil.
in the same pot, reduce heat to medium, add garlic until fragrant then add aromatics (celery, carrot, onion) and gently saute veg until fragrant.
add a sprig of thyme, mushroom, and sliced leek, saute.
season with s/p
return chicken to pot and gently pour chicken stock until covered halfway.
cover and place in the oven for 3 – 4 hours or until chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender

in the last hour of braising, peel & boil potatoes in salted water with a sprig of rosemary. when soft, after about 15 minutes, mash and add generous amounts of cream, butter (3tbsp), and herbs of your choice. i generally like to saute the herbs in some butter and add the flavored butter to the potatoes. yum.

separate yummy bits and drippings, set aside. in a large pan, melt 2 tbsp butter and a tbsp of  flour. whisk to make a roux. add drippings and stir until
errthing is gravy.


{think about going to the gym but then just food coma and die.}

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chicken & veg soup

So pollution has been pretty bad here in Shanghai for the last few days.
and I have been, to say the least, smoking a lot
got sick last week with a fever and cough and paid a visit to a local Chinese hospital
questionable cleanliness…
went home, made some chicken soup, special soy milk tea and passed out for the day

needless to say, i’ve been going out at it again.
keep ’em crossed that the cough doesn’t return.

chicken & vegetable soup

1 large carrot, cubed
1 cucumber
1/2 onion, sliced
(6 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced)
helpful serving of spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
5 large cherry tomatoes, halved
1tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 liter (about 4 – 5 cups) lemon-soaked water (or salt-free chicken broth)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
(1 chorizo or spicy italian sausage)
(1/2 c. brown rice)
1 bay leaf

in a large pot, brown chicken and chorizo in 1/2 tbsp olive oil. remove and set aside. in the same pot, sweat onion, carrot, & garlic until fragrant. celery at this point would be nice too. add meat back in and saute. slowly add broth or water. add thyme and bay leaf(or any bouquet garni) along with tomatoes and brown rice. bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer. add salt to taste. simmer for an hour or more. 20 minutes before serving, add shiitake & cucumber; continue to simmer until cucumber is softened. add spinach and wilt.
ladle into large bowl and serve with a piece of crusty bread & fresh mint tea.


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it ends and begins

untouched… mostly because I couldn’t cook here but I’ve moved into a new place in Shanghai for the next three months and will be using the kitchen, then it’s back to the states. Expect more, expect simplicity. For now, pictures.


Shanghai Week 2

More of Malone’s and Shanghai. Check flickr. Went clubbing the other night after meeting some Fudan kids at Helen’s. Fun Times. Chinese for a good 60% of the conversation. Pulled an all-nighter, sounds of a waking city and the scent of cigarettes still clinging to my skin.

Shanghai: Week 1

view from my uncle’s apartment

shanghai: you’ve destroyed me.