Journal entries from February 2015

Penultimate Meal in LA

"Here?" said the Uber driver.  "You sure?"

From the outside N/Naka does not look like a restaurant.  It's just another nondescript building on a nondescript stretch of Overland Avenue in a nondescript section of West L.A.  Inside, however, is one of the most luxurious restaurants in the city, a simple but serene setting where some twenty lucky people are treated to an extraordinary experience.

Niki Nakayama creates a long, languorous meal of modern kaiseki, a ritual meat of seasonal dishes intended as a kind of edible poetry. Oyster

 Sakizuke (something common and something uncommon):

A single kumamoto oyster with a bit of uni, cured salmon roe, a bit of fennel from the chef's garden.


Zensai - main seasonal ingredients served as appetizers: 

Fried lotus root at the top, very rare duck on the right.  But the most exciting part of this dish is the squiggle of squid ink that, mixed into the quail egg yolk, becomes an intensely delicious sauce for the octopus hiding beneath that nasturtium leaf.

Pretty fish

Modern Sashimi

Hokkaido scallop and a bit of pomelo strewn with leaves and flowers from the chef's garden.

Sea trout

Owan - still water 

Served on top of a flame, this little bit of sea trout slowly heated in its white miso sauce.  A lovely play of temperatures, the fish still cool in the hot sauce.

Crab, etc

Tsukuri - sashimi

Many delicious little bites here, but the special treat was that Alaskan crab leg on the left:  translucent, tender and sweet.  It did not resemble, in any way the stringy frozen crab legs you may have tasted elsewhere.


Yakimono - traditionally a grilled dish, although this fish was fried int he most ethereal manner, along with a single fat fried ginko nut.


Mushimono: steamed dish 

Crab chawan mushi, rich with uni.




For me the most astonishing dish of the evening.  This pasta was perfectly al dente, vibrant, almost alive in the mouth.  The pickled cod roe was a perfect textural contrast. 


Niku - meat course 

Wagyu cooked on a hot stone. The evening's least interesting offering. 

Pretier squid

Sunomono - vinegared salad

Firefly squid, sliced kumquat, flowers.

Followed by a rice dish.

The sushi, tonight, is:

  Burri, tuna 2

Buri, tuna 

Sayori, squid

Sayori, giant clam

Ebi, uni

Ama ebi, uni. 


Matcha- green tea


Mizumono - dessert. 

A tart, icy granita, and 


This little cannoli. 


















My Dinner at Alma

When we pulled up for dinner at Alma last night, I went to park the car in the lot next door. Meanwhile Michael sat on a bench outside, having a chat with a man who hit him up for enough to buy a bowl of chili. "I gave him ten bucks," Michael said, "and I bet he's going to enjoy his dinner more than I enjoy mine."


Although Alma is aimed at adventurous eaters, even a reluctant gourmet like Michael is bound to come away happy.  When the dishes hit - which they do most of the time - they're really delicious.  And when they don't, they offer very interesting food for thought.

These were the hits (at least in my opinion) of our dinner. 


Uni on a teensy english muffin with a bit of caviar and a few leaves and petals.  How could this be anything but fantastic?

It was followed by a lovely little tofu and seafood beignet, which I gobbled up while it was still warm, neglecting to photograph it.  I liked that beignet a lot, but I wished it had been a little less timid. Seaweed is such a fine, forceful flavor, and here it seemed muted. 



 Ari Taymor is fond of surf and turf combinations, although he always does it his way.  Here the surf is trout and trout roe, the turf asparagus and nasturtium.  These flavors did a little tango together, weaving in and out, hitting new flavor notes I didn't know any of the ingredients were capable of. Total hit.  



The first time I tasted frozen, shaved foie gras was at David Chang's Ko, and I was totally smitten. Foie gras does something amazing when it melts in your mouth, becoming even softer and richer than it is in its native form.  Taymor pairs the frozen foie gras with coffee granola - which gives it both flavor and texture contrast - and a splash of maple. I loved that combination.  Not sure those carrots were absolutely necessary.....



Bad picture of a totally great dish. Sunchoke soup, which has its own intensity, paired iwth date puree and an egg yolk cooked until it's practically taffy. This is a little symphony of soft textures, and completely appealing.  I'll never look at sunchokes the same way.



Sturgeon and black truffle. Need I say more?


The simplest dish of the evening, and for me, the highlight.  This was the most delicious duck; if we'd had nothing else I'd go back just to experience it again. The skin was crisp, the meat as funky and metallic as the best aged beef. But what put it over  the top was the bitterness of the endive, and the gentle citric zing of the poached kumquats. (The little duck boudin, up top, was also a treat.)

 It was followed by a few interesting desserts - more savory than sweet - and a finale of chocolate-covered, salt-sprinkled  mentholated marshmallows.  A fine way to end a really wonderful meal. Marshmallow


Dinner Last Night

Perfect little meal sitting at the bar at Osteria Mozza.


A little mozzarella.  One perfect bite.

A few sprightly greens...

....and what may be my current favorite dish in LA


Tripe, stewed until it's soft, tender, almost silken, to scoop up with slightly charred toast.  The best kind of peasant food.


My Second Dinner at Maude


My friend Margy told me that the last time she ate at Maude the woman the counter next to her confessed she ate there once a month.  Margy looked at her in surprise; she didn't seem like the kind of woman who'd routinely spend a hundred bucks on dinner.

"The rest of the month I eat mostly at Souplantation," her neighbor admitted.  "But I like to treat myself every once in a while, and I really look forward to my dinners at Maude."

I like that story, because it pretty much says everything you need to know about this restaurant. It's a special occasion. It's unpretentious. It treats people well. It's something to look forward to.  And on top of that, it's a bargain.  You will never spend a better hundred dollars on a meal.

When Curtis Stone decided to open a restaurant, he followed his passion.  He's one of the few chefs I know who really enjoys cooking. For him this is not a business; it's a labor of love. Feeding people makes him happy.  So he opened this little place with just 25 seats and an ever-changing seasonal menu. 

Please forgive the photographs; the restaurant is candle-lit. Excellent for romance. Terrible for picture-taking. But here's a course by course depiction of this month's theme, parsnips.


 A single delicious little bite, parsnips on homemade shrimp chips.



 Curtis's idea of a bagel: a filling of smoked salmon and cream cheese is hiding inside that little puff of pastry (which in no way resembles the tough chewiness of the classic).  In the front, a kind of "everything salt," a jumble of flavors.


Parsnip gazpacho - an irresistible puree hiding little guanciale cracklings that served to beautifully underline the delicacy of parsnip's flavor.


 Curtis, as you can see, makes very pretty food. This is a single bite of lobster in a garden of grapefruit and herbs, sitting beneath a little cap of watermelon radish. 


 Bay scallops adorned with an entire flower shop's worth of foraged petals and herbs in a little puddle of whey.  The sneaky flavor here was smoked anchovy, which should have been too strong.... but wasn't.


For me, the most memorable moment of the evening.  What you can see are little curls of parsnip gnocchi, a few leaves of spigarello, a heap of beet and some foam. What's harder to see is the marrow, which has been cut into little squares, breaded and deep-fried so that it turns into a version of cromesquis.  When you pop that into your mouth you get a deep, loud crunch, and then your mouth is flooded with liquid richness.  It's a bit like xiao lung bao; liquid encased in crunch.


I love the simplicity of this version of shrimp and grits, and I love the fact that it was served with cured duck egg, a subtle nod to Chinese New Year.  (See previous post.)


Foie gras is legal again.  And it has rarely been so happily served as in this presentation of pear, endive and the surprise of burnt brioche crumbs. Which reminds me: I suspect that burnt offerings are going to be a new trend. I'm starting to see burnt toast cropping up as a new flavor. 



Rabbit in two forms. One is a bit of boudin. The other is a few bites of tender, moist loin. That striated little leaf in the front?  A very peppery nasturtium.


The cheese course: curls of Tomme in a kind of deconstructed salad. And parsnip.

The meal ended with a succession of desserts that started with that airy cupful of bubbles at the top and ended with this adorable plate of cookies.  


If I lived in LA I'd try to stop in every month too. I wish there were more restaurants like it.


The wines we drank:

A rich and wonderful Portuguese Espumante

Domaine du Pelican Arbois, 2013

Verdelho Madeira from the Rare Wine Company

Domaine du Viking Vouvray 2011

Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur, 2012

Ferrandes Passito di Pantelleria 2006 






Eggs from Heaven


They're called hundred year old eggs, and they look the part.  But although pidan may look like scary eggs from hell, when you take a bite you discover something remarkably delicate. I love them.

See that flash of amber light on the plate? That's the sun from the garden, reflected through the beautiful eggs. I bought them last night in Chinatown, at what must have been the last market open. The place felt deserted; New Years is best spent at home. 

These spooky duck eggs are often made by mixing tea, lime, salt and wood ash into a paste, wrapping it around each egg and leaving it to harden. After allowing the eggs to ripen for at least a month you crack away the hardened clay to unveil this otherworldly delicacy. This ancient method is still practiced all over China, but there's also an easier way: today lime and sodium bicarbonate are used to make commercial century eggs. 

They're wonderful eaten on their own, or sliced into a bowl of congee.  They're great on tofu.  And if you want to punch up their gentle flavor, cut them into wedges and brighten them with a bit of sesame oil, soy, and a splash of black vinegar.  Happy year of the ram! 


Hiro Knives

 Making Do

Threw a rather insane party the other night here in LA. Tiny rented house. Five chairs. Five plates. Five forks. But people who'd said they couldn't come kept texting to say their time had suddenly freed up, and before we knew it a dozen of us were gathered in this little bungalow.

I told everyone to bring a plate and fork, and that we'd manage. It was, maybe, the best party I've ever given. About as un-Martha Stewart as possible. Totally mad. And somehow liberating.

I'd ordered a prime rib roast from Snake River Farms. It emerged from the oven all crisp, brown and fragrant and I prayed it was going to be rare.  (No meat thermometer.) As it rested, I realized that a sharp knife is another thing this rented kitchen lacks .

"Do you have a saucer?" asked Hiro. "I'll sharpen the knife." And as you can see, that's exactly what he did!

By the time he was finished that knife was really sharp.

And the prime rib? Excellent. (Snake River, incidentally, has a sale through the end of the month.) 


A Little Post Valentine's Day Decadence


A Fascinating Sweet Roll

This isn’t my recipe; it comes from my friend Sukey, but it's so delicious that I'm passing it on.

Sukey prefers orange to cinnamon, and when she discovered candied bergamot in an Armenian grocery store, she was inspired to create this recipe. They're extremely citric; the floral orange filling perfumes every inch of this dough.

Beware: this is a recipe for when you feel like tackling something special. There are no shortcuts here. 

If you can track down the candied bergamot, you’ll be glad you did. But it’s not necessary. Same goes for the anise seed. And the glaze is so light, you could make it with any tangy dairy product you happen to have on hand: yogurt, sour cream, even thinned down labneh.

Sukey's Orange Sweet Rolls

1 1/4 cups milk

1 package active dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar, plus one pinch

2 tablespoons melted butter, plus one stick

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 egg, beaten

4 cups flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

zest of 4 oranges

1 teaspoon orange flour water

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided

3 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel

2 tablespoons finely chopped candied bergamot (not critical; just add more orange peel if you can't find it.)

1 teaspoon anise seed

1 tablespoon buttermilk

Lightly heat the milk in a saucepan (it should be about blood temperature, but no more than 110 degrees). Pour yeast, warmed milk, and a pinch of sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow it to sit about ten minutes, until the yeast begins to foam. 

Fit your mixer with a dough beater. (You can make the dough by hand, but fair warning: it requires quite a bit of kneading.)  Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and the egg; mix to combine. Add the flour, cup by cup, and mix on medium-speed for about eight minutes. (If you’re doing this by hand, you’ll need to knead the dough for about 15 minutes, or until it takes on a smooth elastic sheen and can be stretched so thin it's transparent but does not tear.) Place the dough in a clean, well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for an hour and a half. 

Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix one softened stick of butter with 1/4 cup light brown sugar and the zest of 4 oranges until the mixture is light and creamy. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, orange flower water, vanilla, and 2 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar. Stir in the bergamot, orange peel and anise seed. 

When the dough has nearly doubled in size, roll out into a large rectangle, around 11 x 18 inches. If the dough is too stretchy to roll out, let sit for 10 minutes. Spread on filling, leaving 1/2 inch border. Roll into a tube, lengthwise, and cut into 12 buns. If you have un-flavored dental floss it makes a great dough cutter: run the floss under the roll and cross the ends to get a clean shear. Arrange buns in an oiled 9 x 13 pan, and chill in the refrigerator for at least five hours - or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and allow the buns to come to room temp. Cook for 25 minutes; they should be golden. 

Make the glaze by mixing a tablespoon of buttermilk into the remaining cup of powdered sugar. Add a splash of orange juice. Brush glaze over warm buns and serve immediately. 

These are best just after they're baked. If your household can't finish a dozen rolls in a day, bake six and freeze the rest for another time. 


Red Hot Recipe for Valentine's Day

Some people say New York has no good Mexican food. Those people are wrong. 

But it can't compare to LA, where the Mexican food is so rich and varied I dread the thought of returning back east. The bar is high here: great tacos are everywhere. The only reason to make your own salsa is to avoid the traffic; getting to East LA can be a challenge.  And so, even here I sometimes build my own tacos. 

I get good tortillas, add beans and melt some cheese.  I make a quick salsa by chopping fresh tomatoes, chiles and onions, then squeezing in a bit of lime. Then I add this extremely easy no-frills cooked salsa which I try to keep on hand. Guajillos aren't very hot, but they have a wonderfully fruit flavor with great depth. One warning: this recipe isn't worth your time unless you can find fantastic chiles that have been dried in the not-so-distant past. 

Easy Guajillo Salsa

12 dried guajillo chiles

1 large can whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 onion, peeled but not chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon vinegar - white or apple cider



Wipe your chiles (they tend to be dusty). Remove stems, seeds and veins.

Gently toast them in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until the aroma fills the kitchen. Be careful not to let them get too brown. 

Throw the chiles, tomatoes, whole onion and garlic into a saucepan over high heat, breaking up the tomatoes on the side of the pan. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little water. When it begins to bubble rapidly, turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add salt, sugar and vinegar, and cook for another minute.

Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Cool and refrigerate.  

If I'm not adding a layer of fresh salsa, I like this seasoned with finely chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. You will undoubtedly have ideas of your own. 


Truffle Mania


What I stupidly neglected to take a picture of was the truffles themselves - huge, gorgeous black diamonds, just a day or two out of the earth, and so fragrant one whiff was enough to make me dizzy. I've never had truffles this good outside of France.

This is the peak moment in black truffle season.  My friend Samir Arora invited a group of us to share his bounty, showcasing his truffles in a truly spectacular kaiseki-like meal, and pairing them with an array of Rhone wines.  

We began with a thick slab of truffle on a buttered slice of toasted brioche. Eaten slowly, while sipping Condrieu, the presentation emphasized the earthy taste of the truffle. I could have stopped here and gone home happy.


But there was so much more. This is truffle in an entirely different mood.  Served in a clear and extremely delicate dashi with a tender ricotta dumpling, the truffle shed its earthiness, becoming a gentle whisper of flavor.



Is there anything better than truffled scrambled eggs?  Probably not, although Samir gave these a Japanese twist, scrambling the eggs in dashi.  And then, moving back to France, he added a crips little bit of truffle butter toast.



Truffle and artichokes.  They were born to be together.



Truffled poached salmon. We were drinking a Clos des Papes with this, which is about as perfect a pairing as I could possibly imagine.



A medley of truffled vegetables (the celery root was especially felicitous).  Beneath that truffle hat hides a plump seared sea scallop.  Truffles love seafood, and they seemed especially happy here.



A simple arugula salad.




How do you end a truffle feast?  With a few truffled cheeses of course.

Thanks Samir.  It was a truly memorable evening.


Comfort Food

My friend Laurie Becklund passed away the night before last, after a heroic struggle with cancer.  I admired her so much; she refused to accept the definition of herself as "a sick person," doing more in these last few years than most people manage in a lifetime.  She outlived the experts' predictions by so long that those of us who loved her kept expecting one more miracle.

Alas, even miracles come to an end.

People react to death in different ways.  I cook.  And so last night, as people gathered to remember Laurie, I made a meal.

It was a very last minute decision.  How do you feed a crowd on the spur of the moment?  You go for easy. You go for comfort.  You go for a big piece of meat and a heavy load of carbs. 

Glazed Ham

Big Salad

Macaroni and Cheese

Strawberry Shortcake


Macaroni and Cheese to Feed Twenty

1/2 pound butter, melted

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons salt

7 cups to 2 quarts milk, warmed

1 pound sharp Cheddar, grated

1/2 pound grated Pecorino Romano

2 pounds elbow macaroni

1 1/2 cups panko


Make a bechamel by whisking the flour and salt into the melted butter, over low heat, and slowly whisking in the warm milk.  Keep whisking until you have a thick white sauce.  

Meanwhile, cook the macaroni until just al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain.

Stir the cheeses into the bechamel.  Add pepper to taste.  Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce.

Butter a large flat casserole or baking dish and spill the macaroni mixture into it.  Top with panko, dot with a bit of butter and bake in a 400 degree oven for about half an hour.

This is very American, comforting and rather bland.  Which seems like perfect funeral food to me. But should you want to jazz it up, you could add any of the following:

thyme, sage, rosemary, chile flakes, chives, bottled horseradish








Random Notes from LA


This is the MOST delicious congee from the Hollywood restaurant, Porridge and Puff.  (In the daytime it's known as Field Trip, and is equally worthy.)  The restaurant focuses on various kinds of congee - all wonderful.  It's right in the Hollywood Farmers' Market, so it makes a great Sunday morning breakfast stop.


Sea urchins are everywhere now.  They even sell them, in the shell, at the Whole Foods on Fairfax. (They'll clean them for you if you ask, but I like doing that myself.)  This one, however, is from Connie and Ted's, my favorite seafood shack.  Everything they do is great, but I'm especially fond of the extremely fine fried clams below - and excellent cole slaw.


Here is Evan Kleiman, making knishes. The dough is really amazing - I think it must be at least half chicken fat.  Lovely to work with.  


And here are her knishes.  (Do you want the recipe?  I didn't ask her for it, but I could...)


Evan, incidentally, caters entire meals out of her house. Not surprising, given that she was the chef/proprietor of the much-loved Angeli for thirty years.  But there's this: she doesn't have an oven! I'm trying to persuade her to write a book about how she manages this feat.  She has a lot to teach the rest of us. 

This is Shawn Askinosie, who not only makes the most delicious chocolate I've ever eaten, but also is among the more inspiring people I've ever met.  



And this is the tasting of his chocolate. 


After the chocolate tasting at Farmshop, I bought this Kalona cottage cheese.  I am now a hopeless addict; it's rich and tangy, the kind of cottage cheese that makes you understand why people first fell for this usually dull stuff.


I've written here about the amazing meal I had at Chi Spacca, but here's just another little taste of what I ate there: Anchovy. Butter. Toast.


Lunch at Pok Pok, in Chinatown. It's just a little hole in the wall in a grubby mall, and you take your food to picnic tables. But the food's cheap, big and delicious - and there are often celebrity sightings. 


And then a spectacular meal at Spago, a place that never lets me down.  The service is superb.  The space is calm and lovely, and if you sit outside, you find yourself on the perfect patio, with huge trees and a roaring fire. The food from chef de cuisine Tetsu Yahagi is constantly exciting, always new.  We had a long dinner, whose highlights included this superb version of abalone chawan mushi...


made with a fascinating dashi that used not bonito flakes, but "petrified"  chicken breast (it's dehydrated, smoked, and then shaved into flakes)


This luxe version of a Thai greeen curry; fish cooked en papillotte with coconut, lemon grass, lime, basil, and served with jasmine rice. 


and the MOST luxurious truffled agnolotti, little pillows filled with pureed celery root and swathed in cream sauce.  The meal went on for hours, one fabulous dish after another.  I loved everything we ate, but what I loved best is that the food ignored all international boundaries, taking us on a world-wide trip. It was a wonderful evening.


 Downtown LA, Marugame Monzo, where they hand-make the udon. It's quite a show. 



and the udon is clean and silky, a joy to eat. (This is a cold version, with spicy cod roe.)


One of my favorite LA places is the bar at Jar, a dark, sexy space that is congenial and consistently delicious.  The other night I had this lovely squid pasta with truffle cream sauce

Truffled pasta

 followed by the best lamb chop I'ver ever eaten (it was from Elysian Farms).


And here's what I'm drinking at the moment.  I've fallen in love with this coffee. Roseline



Recipe for a Snowy Day

I've been reading Alice B. Toklas a bit, and just came across this funny recipe. Seems perfect for a snowy winter day.  (Should you be fresh out of mutton, plain old lamb will do.)
Toklas writes: 
The recipe for the Roast Beef of Mutton is by no less a person that Alexandre Dumas, senior, author not only of the Three Musketeers but of The Large Dictionary of the Kitchen.  This recipe is entirely devoted to the manner he recommends for skewering the hind half of a sheep that is to be roasted on the spit. For this reason it is not given, but there are in my collection two other of Dumas' recipes. They too are for the preparation of mutton: 
Seven-hour Leg of Mutton
In an earthenware pot place the rind of pork fat cut in small pieces. Interlard a leg of mutton with ham, garlic and lard. Put your leg of mutton into the pot with salt, pepper, 2 large onions, 3 glasses water, 1 glass white wine. Cover the pot with a plate and paste paper around the pot and the plate. In the plate pour some wine and allow it to simmer for 7 hours. 


Come on Collards!

Are you experiencing kale fatigue?  Much as I love the stuff, I sometimes think it's time to look at other greens. Yesterday, standing in the produce section, my eye landed on a beautiful—and mammoth—bunch of collard greens. I've always loved their clean, nutty snap, and I decided to take them home. 

I had a sudden memory of filming Adventures with Ruth in Brazil, where I learned an amazing way to eat collards. You de-rib each leaf—the stalks are extremely bitter—and then stack each half moon on top of another, 8 or so to a stack. Roll each stack into tight little tubes, and cut into extremely thin ribbons.  We julienned them to  1/16 of an inch. Fried in hot oil for a mere ten seconds the result was like savory air that dissolved on the tongue like cotton candy. 

This time, I thought, I'd try something different.

I cut the collards into quarter inch strips.  Then I sauteed a couple cloves of minced garlic and some chile flakes in olive oil, added the collard ribbons with a bit of salt and pepper, and quickly sautéed until the collards were a brilliant bright green (no more than two minutes).

From here, you need nothing more than the zest of half a lemon and a splash of juice, but I added pickled chiles, some crisp homemade breadcrumbs, and a bit of grated Parmesan. These would probably be delicious with  sautéed onion, a little bacon fat and a splash of apple cider vinegar, too.

The possibilities are endless. 

This is not exactly a new discovery; we've all been eating collards forever. But kale's been having its moment in the sun, and it's time to make way for collards.




Superbowl Sunday Piri Piri Wings

Okay, I'll admit it.  I was at Whole Foods the other day, and marinated chicken wings- in about a dozen different permutations  - were on sale.  I bought their version of Spicy Korean Chicken Wings and brought them home.  Put them in the oven, took them out. And threw them right into the garbage.

They were dreadful.

So now I felt compelled to make my own. 

This is my version of the classic buffalo wings. Roasted instead of fried - less hassle - and spiced with a more intense sauce.

I apologize for the picture.  It's terrible. The wings are not. They are utterly messy, and everything you want in a game-day wing: the sauce, slightly sweet and fiery as hell, gives way to crispy skin. 

They're great for the game, but they’d make an equally fine a snack for a movie night.

Baked Piri Piri Wings (Buffalo style)

3 pounds chicken wings, separated at the joint

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 egg whites

1/2 stick butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup piri piri sauce, preferably Mazi brand

Whisk the baking soda, salt and egg whites together in a large bowl. Add the wings, and coat. Shaking off excess egg white as you go, lay wings on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. (I needed two.) This coating helps the skin get crispy and caramel-colored.

Let wings dry in the fridge, uncovered, skin-side up, for at least an hour. (Longer is better; overnight is great.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Move wings, still on the racks, directly to the oven. Cook for fifteen minutes, turn over, and cook for another ten. Turn them back to skin-side up and cook for a final ten minutes. The wings should be a nice light brown.

While the wings are cooking, make your sauce. Melt the butter with the sugar in a small saucepan. Turn off the flame. Add the piri piri sauce and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning as you see fit.

When the wings are done cooking, let them sit for at least five minutes. Then toss, madly, with the sauce. Serve immediately, with celery stalks - and blue cheese if you're so inclined. (An homage to the Anchor Bar.) 


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About this journal
Where am I eating? What's for dinner tonight? And what books have I been reading? For a look at what's going on in my life lately, take a look at this journal, which I try to update on a regular basis.