I’m always surprised when people ask me what I like about living in LA. It’s sort of like asking someone, “well, what do you like about 70-degree weather in January, near-constant sunshine, plentiful and inexpensive produce, interesting architecture, weird and creative people, cultural and linguistic diversity, and $1 tacos?” Sure, sure, I’ll admit that LA also has its drawbacks, but where else can you find a warm climate combined with left-leaning politics and a killer coastline? But back to that plentiful produce: JM got back Friday evening (as the photographs below clearly demonstrate) and I celebrated preemptively by purchasing a mandoline from Surfas in Culver City. That thing has some teeth on it, man, like it’s saying, “The better to eat you with, my dear!” And although I kept Saturday lunch simple with a roasted radicchio and pear salad with balsamic and gorgonzola (I know that doesn’t necessarily sound simple, but it really is), dinner that night was a mandoline hoedown. I could have lost a finger.
Fennel and Blood Orange Salad with Citrus Dressing
You will need:
-a large fennel bulb
-two blood oranges
-olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
-a brand new mandoline
-an inexperienced chef
Clean and then slice the fennel on the mandoline in several painstaking, graceless, and terrified swipes. Use the largest blade, so that the salad doesn’t end up looking like cole slaw. Watch your fingers, billy goat! Then, when your adrenaline levels return to normal, peel the oranges and slice them up on a grooved cutting board to collect the juices. Put the sliced oranges and the reserved juice into a bowl with the fennel, add lemon juice, a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a generous sprinkling of pepper.
Stuff Your Mushroom
You will need:
-6 mushrooms of the portobello variety
-1 log of goat cheese (soft, not crumbly)
-1 shell of egg
-1-2 cribs of baby spinach, chopped
-a handful of walnuts or pecans, chopped
-1 “do you think that’s enough?” of olive oil
-1 “is it okay if it’s green inside?” of garlic, chopped
-a gaggle of salt and a flock of pepper
Set the oven to 375. Work fast. You will need to make the mushrooms seem sanitary without waterlogging them–I use a damp paper towel. If the mushrooms don’t talk, pull their stems out and they will totally give you the launch codes. Reward them with a generous dousing of olive oil, and set them in a roasting pan.
Meanwhile, sauté the spinach in garlic and oil. When it’s done, put it in a bowl with 3-4 ounces of goat cheese, an egg, the walnuts, a tiny bit of salt and a big shake of pepper. Mix ’em all up and put heaping dollops of said mix into the mushrooms. Bake for about 20 minutes, until they’re brown on top. And watch JM get a big smile on his face.