Shortcuts

I’m one of those fancy chefs who serves small portions, treats the plate like a canvas and uses flowers and ingredients you’ve never heard of. But I’m also a fan of shortcuts.

Many of the world’s best chefs will readily admit to resorting to shortcuts when they’re cooking.

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While we were staying at the Casa Tres Coronitas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last October, I asked the house chef, Marilu, to show me how to make her famous salsa. She was giving me a lesson and it was nothing out of the ordinary — tomatillos, onion, garlic, chiles de arbol, salt. And then she reached into the cupboard to pull out her “secret ingredient” — Knorr powdered chicken bouillon. Sure enough, when I tried it at home (with the bag of Knorr powdered chicken bouillon Marilu picked up for me at the supermercado), it contributed a salty umami depth that was missing before I added it. Couldn’t have been the MSG, could it?? More

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Old School

Many years ago, I’d reconnected with a high school friend, Tracy — whether it was on Facebook or not, I can’t recall — and we decided to meet for a drink. She suggested Monty’s.

In the Monty's dining room

In the Monty’s dining room

Monty’s is an old school steak and chop house. It still has the same sign in the same groovy Mad Men font from the 1960s. It used to have several locations, and now it’s down to two — one in Westwood, and one in Woodland Hills, where I had arranged to meet up with Tracy. More

What’s the Bigoli Deal?

Oftentimes when I have a specific ingredient I want to cook, I’ll have a vague recollection of a wonderful dish I had once, read about or made myself that uses said ingredient. And then I’ll set out — sometimes successfully, sometimes not — to remember what it was and find it.

Venetian bigoli in salsa

That was what was happening on a lazy Sunday afternoon as I contemplated what I was going to make for dinner. I felt like Italian, and moving jars, bags and boxes around in the pantry, I discovered a forgotten bag of whole wheat spaghetti. More