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digest LA

Serious Eats solicited readers for uses for leftover pickle juice and highlights the best ones on their site. This is extremely important to me as a pickle addict. Some of my favorite uses that I am going to try are:

  • Reuse the brine to make more pickles out of different fruits and veggies. Carrots, mushrooms, beets, radishes, green beans (aka dilly beans), the list goes on. Optional: spice it up with hot peppers.
  • Mix into potato salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, or macaroni salad to add moisture and a flavor boost.
  • Sauces and dressings. Replace some of the vinegar in a salad dressing, dress slaw with it, and tartar sauce could always use some.
  • Boil whole potatoes in it. Not only does it season them nicely but the acid in the juice keeps the ‘tato surfaces relatively intact over a longer simmer, while the insides get creamy.
  • Steam vegetables in it.
  • Throw it into a Bloody Mary.

Of course, pickles and their juice are great for replacing your electrolytes after a long endurance workout. Maybe I should just save the juice for a treat after my next race. Read more suggestions at Serious Eats.

chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

chicken steak, spaetzle, and roasted asparagus

After a hard workout at Brick Crossfit, I stopped by Lindy & Grundy to pick up some meat. Lindy & Grundy makes unique cuts of meat to use as much of the animal as possible. Today, I picked up a chicken steak. I guess it is a cut of steak that maximizes the available meat, but is good if tenderized. When I was planning dinner, I realized that I had asparagus in the fridge, but no starch. Luckily, this morning my neighbor left me half a dozen eggs and this ominous note.

note from my neighbor

note from my neighbor

I saw his present and thought… eggs! What can I do with these? So I looked and found a recipe for spaetzle over at Smitten Kitchen. A perfect use for my eggs.

I made spaetzle once long ago when I was engaged and living in Chelsea in NYC. These single LA spaetzle were much better little pillows of buttery goodness. I topped the spaetzle with fried sage leaves fresh from my garden. Now who wants to come over and help clean my kitchen and keep my neighbor at bay?

rhubarb chard from my garden

rhubarb chard from my garden

My mom sent me these planting systems called Earth Boxes for my birthday. An Earth Box is a container that allows your plants to water themselves and it includes all kinds of fertilizer/plant food ingredients. I don’t have the greenest thumb so I went to the nursery and asked for easy to grow and eat plants. My garden now includes strawberries, sage, rosemary, heirloom tomatoes, Japanese eggplants, baby lettuce, thyme, cippolini onions, chives, basil, and rhubarb chard.

The rhubarb chard is one of the plants lucky enough to live in the earth box, which is clearly powered by some alien kryptonite substance because the chard will just not stop coming. I cut all the leaves and a few days later, I have a full chard plant with giant leaves again. The problem is I don’t really know what to do with chard. I usually add some to my salad, but that is not really doing the job. Today I harvested my chard and removed the stems and spines. Then I cut the chard in 1″ strips. I thinly sliced some onions and chopped garlic. I sauteed all of this in a combo of olive oil and butter with salt and butter. Zomg, delicious! Is it so good because it went from my garden to my plate in 10 minutes? Or is chard the biggest secret hiding in our backyards?

I didn’t take a picture of the finished project partially because it didn’t look that pretty, but mostly because I couldn’t stop eating it long enough to photograph it. Huzzah. Three cheers for chard!

flinstone-sized lambchop, quinoa, asparagus

flinstone-sized lamb chop, quinoa, grilled asparagus

For dinner tonight, I made a Flinstone-sized lamb chop from Lindy Grundy. I put a spice rub on the lamb chop and grilled it on both sides and then finished it in the oven. For the quinoa, I cooked it following the instructions using homemade chicken stock instead of water. For the grilled asparagus, I… you know… grilled it. Delicious! The quinoa was rich and amazing. I loved the lamb chop, but it was so hard to eat.

brownie & vanilla ice cream

brownie & vanilla ice cream

I was craving a sweet treat so I baked some brownies. I learned how to bake, as a kid, because it is so easy to whip up a delicious dessert just from pantry items and because I have an incredible sweet tooth. I started with this brownie recipe from Epicurious. Weirdly, I didn’t have a metal bowl or a brownie pan. I have been so focused on cooking since I moved to LA that I had neglected baking tools. Now at least I know what to buy next time I am creeping around Surfas jonesing for something to buy.


meatball & burrata sandwich

meatball & burrata sandwich

porchetta sandwich

porchetta sandwich

Cart for a Cause is a food truck slash non-profit program benefitting St Vincent Meals on Wheels of Los Angeles. Once a month, the truck comes to Helms Bakery near my work and I can spend $10 to get “get a meal prepared by a top celebrity chef with 100% of proceeds going back to help feed homebound senior citizens.”

This month I got to eat a meatball and burrata sandwich made by Chef Tony DiSalvo and Chris Crary from Viceroy Santa Monica. My buddy had a porchetta sandwich. We meant to do halfsies, but both of our sandwiches were too good to switch up. We could barely stop eating just to take the picture. Can’t wait for next month!

Lindy Grundy

Lindy Grundy

I have been excitedly waiting for Lindy & Grundy to open for months. Lindy & Grundy is a new sustainable butcher shop opened in my neighborhood by two butchering ladies. I went in tonight and asked for something easy to make after a hard week.  I got a single pork chop figuring the shop is so close I can come by every day for meat if I want to.

pork chop, chinese broccoli, garden salad

pork chop, chinese broccoli, garden salad

Of course, I didn’t expect to disrespect Lindy & Grundy’s beautiful pork the way I did. I decided to try a breaded chop since I had awesome panko bread crumbs. I put the chop in the pan and ran outside to cut some fresh salad greens (zomg, can you believe that lettuce came from my garden?!) and came back to some burning breadcrumbs. I don’t think I had enough oil in the pan. It ended up okay, but a bit overcooked. If I have learned anything from Top Chef it is that you have to respect your protein. I also steamed some chinese broccoli and served it with a little garlic oil and lemon.

spice rub station

spice rub station

I definitely know where to find more pork chops when I need them. Now, how to cook them?

roasted chicken, asparagus and tomatoes

roasted chicken, asparagus and tomatoes

I revisited Chow’s You’re Doing it All Wrong series and found a video about roasting veggies. Well how convenient. I happened to have a chicken and butternut squash in my fridge. Why not have a whole roasted Sunday dinner while watching HBO’s Mildred Pierce on tv, who by the way is roasting chicken as I type this? I always follow The Best Recipe’s roasted chicken recipe because it is so simple. You just brush butter on the chicken, salt and pepper generously. Then you roast it 15 minutes per wing-side up at 375 and then 20 minutes breast-side up at 450. Simple and delicious!

I also roasted asparagus and grape tomatoes at the same time as cooking the chicken. The asparagus tasted great, but the tomatoes were too sweet for my taste.

butternut squash pre-roasting

butternut squash pre-roasting

I found out from the Chow video that I was doing two things wrong. I was roasting veggies at too low a temperature (under 500 degrees) and in the wrong kind of pan (not a shallow metal pan). I did the butternut squash following these new rules and it came out… well… I didn’t love it and this whole roasted dinner has had my smoke detectors going off all day.

butternut squash soup

butternut squash soup

Instead of serving the squash (to myself), I sweated some shallots in butter, added the roasted squash and chicken broth. I pureed the soup and finished with a touch of butter and milk and it was delicious. Such rich flavor and excellent texture. Not a bad Sunday dinner to treat myself to.

my healthy dinner - shrimp, black beans, spinach salad

my healthy dinner - shrimp, black beans, spinach salad

The whole reason I got involved in endurance sports in the first place was to continue eating any old food I like. And I sure like a lot of food. I recently joined the cult of Crossfit and there is a lot of talk about nutrition and eating clean. I am definitely not going to start eating the Paleo diet, but I was thinking that it can’t hurt to try my hand at cooking healthy during the week.

So for tonight’s dinner, I kept it simple and healthy. I made my family’s Cuban frijoles negros recipe. Then I just sauteed some shrimp with some extra sofrito (onion, garlic and peppers) from the black beans and served with rice and a spinach salad. I made the black beans last night after a crossfit class and I was so tired by the time they finished cooking that I may have forgot some finishing steps. Even better than being healthy; the meal was delicious, simple and super cheap. If only I had time to make dry beans every day.

By the way, my crossfit workout included handstand pushups, sumo deadlift high pulls and hang power cleans. What the heck am I doing? If you are my dad, please don’t comment on that question.

Miso-glazed black cod - day 3

Miso-glazed black cod - day 3

It was the third day of miso marinade on the black cod and do you think I was scared to eat 3 day old fish? A little bit, but not really. I am putting my faith in this Epicurious recipe. Plus I made sure to check the fish before I cooked it. So did it taste any better day 3? I think the marinade got sweeter over time, but otherwise it wasn’t much different than marinading it over night. It tasted pretty awesome either way, but would probably be too sweet for weaker women than me by day 3.

To be honest, the cod tasted great every day so I got way more excited about changing my salad a little bit every day. For today’s salad, I used spring mix and baby spinach. In the salad I put tomatoes, carrots, grapefruit, a tiny bit of sliced onion and the best part… toasted pine nuts. I used the same dressing as yesterday because I think it is perfectly simple. Now all I can think about is all the stuff in my kitchen that will be great in my next salad. My eyes have been totally opened to how good a simple salad can be when you put a little love into it.

Miso-glazed black cod - day 2

Miso-glazed black cod - day 2

I am not sure I realized what a commitment this black cod experiment was going to be. Here I am, planning to go out around dinner time, so I had to make my day 2 version and eat a late lunch/early dinner… linner. Luckily, black cod is amazing so I win either way.

So my pops was worried that the marinade may contain an acid, which would cook the fish in the fridge. It doesn’t seem to. The glaze/marinade/whatever it is contains sugar, white miso, sake and mirin. Mirin is a sweet rice wine. I checked around for a few other recipes and they are all the same as the Epicurious one except they only call for 24 hours of marinade. Here’s the recipe that someone posted for Nobu’s famous version of the dish.

Does it taste better day 2? I think so. One problem with the fish may be that I am grilling it instead of broiling it. I am scared of the drawer broiler in my kitchen. I also updated yesterday’s salad dressing. With the same base as yesterday, I added a bit of balsamic vinegar and honey to the dressing and onion to the salad. I think the grapefruit juice needs a bit of balsamic to compete with the olive oil.