Socca (An Italian Beef, Cabbage & Potato Casserole)


What’s the heartiest dish you know how to make? Chances are, this is heartier.

Picture it: a pestata (or paste) is made with lots of garlic, sage, rosemary and olive oil. That paste is used to flavor sliced red potatoes and cubed beef shoulder which get layered in a giant casserole with cabbage. Then the remaining pestata is mixed with white wine, poured over the mix, which has been dotted with butter. Into a hot oven it goes for 2 1/2 hours, after which the whole thing is topped with grated Fontina cheese and returned to the oven for it to bubble and brown. I told you this was hearty.

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Carnitas Tacos with Green Salsa and Pico de Gallo


To understand my Mexican food expertise, consider this: when I was younger, I took several cruises with my family that brought us to Mexico. Cozumel, mostly. Upon arriving in Mexico, my family would immediately trek to the center of town where my mom would shop for jewelry and my brother, dad and I would stand around impatiently. Then it was time for lunch and, without fail, we’d almost always go to the same authentic Mexican restaurant, The Hard Rock Cafe. I even had the Hard Rock Cozumel t-shirt to prove our devotion. Which is why, when it comes to Mexican food, I’m as gringo as they come.

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Park’s BBQ, Neptune’s Net & Marouch


As I gear up to go to New York for three months, I’m starting to check things off my L.A. “first year” bucket list. Korean BBQ was pretty high up there, and in my browser where I have a folder called LaFood and subfolders like “Chinese,” “Ramen,” “Sushi,” “Thai,” there’s a folder that says “Korean” and Park’s BBQ is featured prominently in there. So this past Saturday, I gathered up a group, including our new L.A. transplant friends Jim and Jess and we headed to Park’s in Koreatown.

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Meat Pride

[Image via The Bored Ninja]

The first time that I encountered meat pride was in high school. A new restaurant opened up in our town called Cheeburger Cheeburger. On the wall in the back were framed portraits of people who’d survived the Cheeburger Cheeburger challenge: they’d consumed a one pound burger and, consequently, earned themselves a spot on the wall (but not, I imagine, a free cardiological exam). Someone that we knew, a family friend (who shall remain nameless), once proudly declared that he had won Cheeburger Cheeburger’s greatest honor. I didn’t know whether to cheer or throw up.

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Today’s Meat is Tomorrow’s Sandwich


Of all the shameful things a home cook can do, the most shameful is letting leftovers go to waste.

I’ve been guilty of this; maybe I’m craving sushi instead of yesterday’s lentil soup, and the lentil soup sits, gathering mold over the weeks, and getting tossed when it might’ve provided a perfectly satisfying second night dinner. But lentil soup is one thing, meat is another. And when you have leftover meat, you have absolutely no excuse not to make a sandwich.

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Feasting Before The Feast (Or: Another Sunday Gravy)


Our old friend and neighbor Rob was in town last week and, craving an Amateur Gourmet-cooked meal, swung on over with our friend Luke (am I allowed to say “our Oscar-winning friend” Luke?) on Sunday night. Like a good Italian grandmother, I had a pot simmering on the stove all afternoon and by the time everyone was assembled at the table, my plan to kill everyone with meat was in full effect.

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Two L.A. Sandwiches & A Burger at Bay Cities, Café Tropical & Umami


Stand back, mere mortals. You are about to encounter a sandwich that is not meant for the meagre constitutions of wimpy humans. This is food for giants, food for gods. “God” is even in the sandwich’s name: meet The Godmother at Bay Cities in Santa Monica. A sandwich with so much meat on it, if Noah opened a deli on his ark, he’d still have nothing on this. We’re talking Genoa salami, mortadella, coppacola, ham, and prosciutto. That’s like 40 pigs right there.

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Steve’s Legendary Prime Rib


Christmas Dinner isn’t something I ever ate growing up, being a Jew and all.

For the past few years, though, I’ve been visiting Craig’s family in Bellingham, Washington and Craig’s dad, Steve–a really excellent cook (see his apple pie)–has made some kind of roast to serve on the big night. And this year the prime rib that he made–a “well-marbled ten pounder,” he tells me over e-mail–was so juicy and flavorful, it’s entered the sphere of legend. We’ll be comparing all the prime ribs we eat from now on to this one. What made it so good? How did he do it?

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