Indulgent Aubergine

Aubergine venison

venison with salsify, birch syrup and the twiglike devils club root.

Our economy still sputters and coughs, and the days of high-end, pretentious dining may be behind us, but there is still a market for classy, dress-up, adult experiences with delicious, artfully crafted food.

With Club XIX’s closure last year, the list of fine-dining places has really shrunk to three: Marinus at Bernardus Lodge, Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn and Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel.

Under wunderkind chef Justin Cogley, Aubergine in Carmel really stands out in my mind as a place to splurge and indulge, with the memories fresh in your mind weeks or months later. In 2011 the restaurant earned a No. 5 Zagat ranking throughout the San Francisco Bay Area region.

Cogley was appointed chef de cuisine of Aubergine restaurant a year ago, taking over for mega-talented Frenchman Christophe Grosjean. Cogley comes to Carmel by way of Chicago, where he was instrumental in opening the Elysian Hotel’s new kitchen as executive sous chef. He previously worked at Chef Charlie Trotter’s critically acclaimed namesake restaurant for four years, earning the title of chef de cuisine.

His sophisticated style and playful creativity work well together, and while he strikes a chord with innovative, modern twists, he doesn’t create dissonant tones by serving inaccessible chemistry experiments.

Cogley’s menu descriptions exude simplicity: braised lamb shoulder, charred scallion, elephant garlic, pickled tongue; or guinea hen, smoked potato, foie gras, mizuna. But the result is always a sophisticated, exciting flavor profile that tickles all the senses. There seems to be spontaneity (and always seasonality), but it’s certainly just not thrown together on a whim.

“If I had to describe my food,” Cogley says, “I would say each plate has a purpose.”

Equally talented, and a perfect sweet note for Cogley’s savory sensations, is executive pastry chef Ron Mendoza, a Thomas Keller disciple who was recognized as a “Rising Star” by StarChefs.com.

Mendoza cut his teeth at LA’s famous Patina Restaurant, where he undertook pastry training from Michelle Myers. Later he helped open Boule Patisserie in Los Angeles as the director of operations, overseeing the launch of one of the city’s most highly regarded specialty pastry shops.

In 2006, Keller offered him the position of pastry sous chef at the famed French Laundry in Yountville.

Pastry chef Ron Mendoza's "painted landscape."

Mendoza uses a modern style steeped in classic technique and has a reverence for raw ingredients. “Everything starts with fruit,” he says. Mendoza strives for balance in flavors and textures. He firmly maintains, “the best desserts are made in the moment.”

While talent such as this can cost a pretty penny, a new monthly dinner series called Terroir allows diners a less expensive entry into this world created by Cogley and executive pastry chef Ron Mendoza. The series, inspired by landscapes, includes wine pairings and costs $75 per person.

Hay-smoked, pickled quail eggs.

December’s dinner was titled “Forest and Fields,” and we were lucky enough to be present. Wow. It started with amuses of foie gras on flatbread served on a log with forest scents, followed by hay-smoked pickled quail eggs and a small shot of warm apple cider and bourbon. And it only got better from there. We ate squab cooked in smoked butter, with apple and strips of succulent lardo; porcini mushrooms with caramelized onion and black garlic; and venison with salsify, birch syrup and devils club root (a crunch component that looks like a twig). Dessert was a “painted landscape,” with guanaja cremeux (a decadent chocolate cream), bits of torn chocolate cake and eucalyptus ice cream playing the moon and a sweet, dark orange gelee serving as the setting sun. Edible art, and visually stunning.

Jan. 24 brings “Pacific Coastlines.” Call 624-8578 for reservations.

The winter chill isi mitigated by a shot of warm apple cider and bourbon.

 

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Bacon mania

Bacon cheese ball

Bacon is delicious, but it appears to be inspirational as well. When we announced free Baker’s Bacon for the best bacon love story and accompanying recipe (see previous blog post), the queries came pouring in.

And the winner is Tammy Hansen from the San Joaquin Valley town of Brentwood. Tammy and her bacon-loving husband when two packages of Baker’s Bacon (delivered to their door) and a B.B. T-shirt. Here’s what Tammy had to write about this popular pork product, followed by the runners-up:

Marini's chocolate covered bacon.

“For my husband’s 50th birthday I surprised him with a trip to Monterey. The grand finale to our romantic weekend? Chocolate covered bacon from Marini’s in Santa Cruz. The chocolate coating was a culinary dud. Still, when he talks of that weekend, I’m sure the bacon will be the centerpiece of my man’s tale. Sadly, negligees and ocean views are a waste of time when dealing with the pork possessed … unless there’s a pig in there somewhere. This is my Grandma Rose’s cheeseball recipe. The bacon addition is courtesy of my sister-in-law.

Grandma Rose’s Bacon Cheeseballs

  • 2 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
  • 1 8-oz. Crakerbarrel sharp, grated
  • 1 T. pimento
  • 8 T. green onion, chopped
  • 3 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. tobasco
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Dash salt, to taste
  • 6-8 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Steps: Mix first eight ingredients in mixer, reserving 4 T. chopped green onion. (I often adjust seasonings to taste. Horseradish is a good add-in if you want that kick.) Roll in bacon and remaining green onion. Wrap in plastic wrap, then foil and refrigerate. Serve with crackers. This one is better if it sits a day or two. — Tammy Hansen

First runner-up

 “Since bacon is of it’s own food group, I do try to incorporate it in my recipes as much as possible! I make my salad and pizza healthier with bacon crumbles. But one of my favorite recipes is cauliflower and broccoli with bacon. Start with 1 cup fresh cauliflower and 1 cup fresh broccoli in a bowl. Fry five slices of bacon crispy, and set on plate lined with a paper towel. Brown a pack of crumbled ramen noodles in bacon grease, then add to bowl of veggies. Drizzle 2 tsp. hot bacon grease over veggies. Toss mixture. Add 2 tsp. sugar dissolved in ¼ cup water. Then add bacon crumbles. Toss well. Chill for at least an hour and serve. People who swear they hate broccoli LOVE this dish! — Sue Good, via email

Second runner-up

Well, I love bacon for breakfast and I love a BLT sandwich. Yummy! But when I cook my rice and beans I like to use bacon. For my beans I use olive oil, chopped garlic, chopped red and green peppers, one small pack of sazon (Goya Con Culantri y Achoite), a chopped red potato or two, and chopped bacon. Stir it all in the pot. Just when the bacon and potato browns, I add the beans and a small can of tomato sauce and a little water. Stir it and let it cook on low, then I cook my white rice and it’s delish! That bacon makes the beans taste so good. My son just loves it! — Maria Gomez, Salinas

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Vintage Tequila Dip … and more

Vintage Tequila Dip

Momofuku's Vintage Tequila Dip is a creamy, boozy concoction and a conversation starter.

What is it about dip that’s so damn satisfying? The act of lowering a chip or cracker (or anything else equally sturdy and crisp) into a creamy or cheesy concoction is primal, agreeably self-indulgent and, yes, addictive.

In this way we shun the use of eating utensils and any civilized manners we may have attained. It drips and splatters and smears, and we simply don’t care. At large parties the dip can become a virtual cesspool of bacteria (double-dipping has not waned since “Seinfeld” shined its sardonic spotlight on the practice).

The perfect chip-and-dip companion is football, or rather the act of watching it at home, with or without a side of testosterone. And ‘tis the season, with NFL playoffs around the corner and the New Year’s Day football hangover/coma approaching.

Which brings me to Momofuku, a family of wildly successful New York restaurants, and the brain-children of David Chang, the bad-ass chef-entrepreneur who gives new meaning to avant-garde.

Chang held a company-wide “dip off” this year and the winner was Beth Lieberman, the beverage manager for the family of restaurants. She concocted something she calls Vintage Tequila Dip, an innovative mélange that is creamy and limey and boozy, with a slow, mild burn of jalapeno.

I halved the recipe and the end result was more manageable. I also added a bit of salt because it plays so well with tequila. Making the jalapeno powder was a kick. I dried chunks of peppers in the oven and pulsed the dehydrated pieces in my food processor, wearing a mask to shield me from the dust cloud that filled the kitchen. Paired with crisp, homemade flour tortilla chips, the dip is delicious, and a true conversation piece.

I also solicited the help of two local restaurants. The Monterey Cookhouse creates a yummy Brisket Dip, combining cream cheese, mozzarella and ranch dressing with bits of house-smoked brisket and barbecue sauce. It’s served with crostini, but is off the charts poured over French fries.

“Our brisket is the best seller at the Cookhouse, and something creamy really puts it over the top,” said owner Linda Cantrell. “It’s the whole thing in one package.”

Finally, chef Johnny deVivo of TusCA inside the Hyatt Regency Monterey donated his Creamy Artichoke Dip.

Enjoy the games … and the dips into decadence.

Beth Lieberman’s Vintage Tequila Dip

  • Half bottle blanco tequila (she uses Espalon)
  • Enough lime simple syrup to flavor the tequila as you like it
  • 5 cups sour cream
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • Juice from 4 limes
  • 3 oz. charred jalapeño puree
  • 1 chopped jalapeño
  • Handful of chopped mint
  • Palm sugar to taste
  • Jalapeño powder to taste (see note)
    Steps: Mix everything together then serve with tortilla chips and a large side of shit talking.
    Note: To make jalapeño powder, seed, devein and cut into even chunks six jalapeños. Place on a sheet pan and dehydrate in a 250-degree oven for at least 3 hours. When cool and completely dry, put in spice grinder and pulse into powder (consider wearing a mask to avoid breathing pepper fumes).

Cookhouse Smoked Brisket Dip

  • 2 lbs. smoked brisket, chopped into small cubes (barbecued tri-tip may be substituted)
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced into rings and grilled
  • Two-thirds cup barbecue sauce (see note)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • One-third cup ranch dressing
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
    Steps: Smoke brisket or cook tri-tip, let cool and cut into small cubes. Grill sliced onions and chop fine. Add to chopped meat. Add barbecue sauce and stir. In a separate bowl, mix together cream cheese, ranch dressing and mozzarella cheese. Put meat mixture into bottom of a shallow baking dish. Pipe cheese mixture on top. Put under the broiler until cheese is brown and bubbly. Spoon onto crostini, or pour over French fries.
    Note: The Cookhouse sells its special barbecue sauce in bottles, as well as with smoked brisket (call ahead).

Chef DeVivo’s Artichoke Dip

  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced canned artichokes
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 2 8-oz packages thawed and drained spinach
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • White pepper
    Steps: In a large pot with the oil, sweat the onion until transparent (about 4-5 minutes). Next add the artichokes and cook until soft. Add both cheeses and slowly melt them in the pan until creamy. Add the chopped spinach and heavy cream. Reduce the cream by three-fourths or until tight. Fold in your seasonings and serve with your favorite chip, pita or crouton.

 

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Free bacon: Are you in?

Baker's Bacon

Baker's Bacon makes an English-style bacon from the back of the pig.

Why are we obsessed with bacon, that fatty, salty, yummy, porky goodness that enhances the flavor of everything it touches?

Chef Tony Baker with his Baker's Bacon.

Well, science says it’s due to what is called the Maillard Reaction, a process that occurs when reduced sugars react with amino acids under heat. It’s the same reason we love roasted coffee, chocolate and caramel. The reducing sugars in the bacon fat are the key to our Pavlov response when that aroma hits the kitchen air above the frying pan.

Science aside, there is a certain primal urge to chew the fat, if you will, and to give the one-fingered salute to all that is healthful and reasonable. We love bacon, clogged arteries be damned.

How would you like to start your New Year off with two resolution-blowing packages of free bacon from Tony Baker, the Montrio Bistro chef who started making and marketing his own line of English-style bacon earlier this year. Baker’s Bacon is made from all-natural pork, without the use of growth hormones or antibiotics. It’s hand rubbed and dry cured with no added water or phosphates.

Here’s how to bring home the free bacon:

Contest: One lucky Grub Hunter reader will win two packs of Baker’s Bacon (a $24 value), the all-natural, English-style Back Bacon and the Applewood Smoked Bacon that Americans are used to eating. Try them both and compare for yourself!

Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Dec. 28. Winner will be announced on Dec. 31.

How to win?

In 75 words or less, tell The Grub Hunter why you love bacon, and then submit a recipe for your favorite dish using bacon. Email to grubhunter@comcast.net.

Here’s my own bacon love story and recipe:

Nothing soothes the searing heat of chile peppers like the melty fat and salty goodness of bacon. I enjoy watching friends wipe tears off their cheeks with a smile when I make them my bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed jalapeños. The chiles are hot, the sun-dried tomato-spiked cheese is soft and slightly sweet and the bacon is crisp and salty. It’s the perfect flavor combination and the ultimate snack, especially during football season.

The Grub Hunter's bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed jalapeños.

Grub Hunter’s Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños

  • 1 package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (fresh tomatoes add too much moisture)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pinch salt
  • 10-15 jalapeño peppers (medium size)
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced bacon (room temperature)
  • Toothpicks

Steps: Preheat the grill or the broiler. Mix the cream cheese with chopped garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and the cilantro. Add a pinch of salt. Mix until soft and manageable.

Slice each jalapeño lengthwise on one side, careful not to cut the pepper completely in half. Blanch in salted, boiling water for 1-2 minutes before dumping in an ice bath to retain color and texture.

Stuff the pliable peppers with the cream cheese mixture and press closed.

With a tiny spoon or knife, remove the seeds and membranes from the now-pliable pepper. Using a pastry bag (I prefer a teaspoon), pipe the filling into the opening of the peppers and press sides together until closed. Careful not to overfill as the filling may spurt out during cooking.

Wrap each pepper with 1 strip of thin-sliced bacon, effectively sealing the opening in the pepper. Secure the end with a toothpick (you may want to soak the toothpicks first to avoid burning).

Cook the peppers over medium heat to slowly render the fat, until the bacon is lightly charred, fully cooked and crispy. A grill is recommended because the peppers can be turned easily and the fat can drip away (if using a broiler, use a drip pan to avoid over oily peppers).

Serve with ranch dressing or a little Mexican crema as a dip.

 

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Bread in your spare time

Loaves of Italian bread are easy to make and cost about 30 cents each.

When I was an oblivious 7-year-old, a loaf of bread had “Wonder” stamped on the bag and cost 25 cents. It tasted good to me (especially as part of a Velveeta grilled cheese sandwich), and I certainly didn’t have to pay for it.

In 2008, the cost of a similar loaf had risen to $2.79. The other day I spent $4.29 for a loaf of ciabatta. I know “bread” means “money,” but that’s just madness.

We all know we can make our own bread at home for just pennies. After all, we’re talking flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water. But it’s a painstaking process, if done correctly, and in the end it’s almost worth paying that four bucks for an Italian loaf.

Almost.

Counting the time it takes to rise, or proof, you can make three loaves of crusty Italian bread in about 2½ hours, most of it spent watching the San Francisco 49ers notch another victory. Continue reading

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Turkey Yucateca

Turkey Yucateca

Turkey Yucateca rests before carving.

Giving thanks in Mexico comes naturally — the wonders of sun, sand, salt and tequila working harmoniously to help peel away layers of tension left by fretfulness and angst that define our lives back home.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner south of the border requires a little more effort, and a bit of creativity to boot. But we arrived in the sleepy Mexican fishing village of La Manzanilla with a plan for our holiday meal, put together with help from Chef Julio Ramirez and his wife Marie Perucca-Ramirez. The Ramirezes, of course, founded The Fishwife restaurants and Turtle Bay taquerias on the Monterey Peninsula, and left us all with an invaluable resource in the form of  “The Turtle Bay Cookbook.”

Julio Ramirez and Marie Perucca-Ramirez

Julio Ramirez and Marie Perucca-Ramirez.

We took along our copy, with promises from Chef Julio that anyone who tasted his Turkey Yucateca would become instant amigos.

Turkey? In Mexico? Actually, yes. The modern domesticated turkey descended from one of six subspecies of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), found in the area bounded by the present Mexican states of Jalisco, Guerrero and Veracruz. Ancient Mesoamericans domesticated the bird, and used its meat and eggs as protein, and today many Mexicans enjoy turkey for Christmas and New Years, often with a liberal dousing of mole rojo. Continue reading

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Yes, soup IS a meal

Mary Chamberlin's classic minestrone

Mary Chamberlin's classic minestrone (with meatballs added).

As the days turn dark and cold, our moods seem to follow suit. But as we shut ourselves inside to brave another winter, a soup pot can be the antidote for much of what ails.

No one knows this more than Mary Chamberlin, Carmel’s most gracious host andTraveling Soup Pot thoughtful philanthropist — a kitchen maven and author of the new cookbook “The Traveling Soup Pot: A Savory Journey Through Many Lands.”

“I’ve had a lifelong love affair with good soups made from fresh ingredients,” said Chamberlin, who serves as chair of the Monterey chapter of American Institute of Wine and Food, hosting charity dinners in her gorgeous home in Carmel Knolls.

Nearly four decades ago, her romantic first meeting of her husband-to-be Roy Chamberlin, a TWA pilot, started her on a whirlwind journey. “Marry me and fly for free,” became part of his proposal.

Her love of soups blended with her love of travel. In the coming years, the Chamberlins sat and slurped together at cafes in Paris, trattorias in Italy, cottages in Wales, noodle shops in China and countless spots across the Pacific and beyond. “Everywhere I traveled, I ate soups as unique and different as the cultures that produced them … and I collected the recipes.”

Mary Chamberlin

Mary Chamberlin.

Along the way she found time to attend the Cordon Bleu Cooking School and was awarded a Certificat de Presence from La Varenne in Paris.

In between trips, Mary taught International Cuisine at Ohlone College in Fremont and owned and operated both Mission Delicatessen and Mission Gourmet Catering.

Soup was always an integral part of her repertoire, and each day she prepared a different 3-gallon pot for her customers. She estimates she’s prepared more than 140,000 servings of soup. That’s nearly 9,000 gallons of potages, broths, cream soups, bisques and chowders.

While soup is found in every country and region around the world, it is probably cherished more in Italy than anywhere else.

An old Italian saying reads: “La zuppa fa sette cose.” Continue reading

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Sweet Elena’s Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie

Sweet Elena's mincemeat pie is completely vegetarian.

Each holiday season Elena Salsedo-Steele tries to reconcile us with mincemeat pie. That’s no easy task. She’s fighting ignorance, misconceptions and the sheer gall behind the jars of that gooey glop sold in supermarkets.

Elena Salsedo-Steele

Elena Salsedo-Steele prepares her mincemeat filling.

Salsedo-Steele, the owner and creative force behind Sweet Elena’s Bakery in Sand City, veers away from the centuries of tradition behind these pies, which developed in England as a way of preserving meat without salting or smoking. Most of us have never tasted a true mincemeat pie (also called mince pie or Christmas pie), a remnant of a medieval tradition of spiced meat dishes, usually minced mutton.

Today, we are accustomed to eating mince pie as a dessert, but actually it began as a main course dish with more meat than fruit (a mixture of meat, dried fruits and spices).  As fruits and spices became more plentiful in the 17th century, the spiciness of the pies increased accordingly.

“We use no meat and no suet,” says Salsedo-Steele. “It is completely vegetarian, and has nothing to do with the jars of mincemeat filling that have traumatized millions of people!” Continue reading

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Phil’s famous cioppino

Throwdown with Bobby Flay

Chef Bobby Flay, right, laughs it up with Phil DiGirolamo during filming of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" in 2009.

  As Phil DiGirolamo faced the camera to shout the familiar send-off at the end of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” the show’s star leaned in to whisper in the victor’s ear: “Things are going to get crazy for you now.”

The owner of Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing blinked, gulped and said his line (on hand as a judge, I can tell you it took the completely flabergasted DiGirolamo three takes!).

He was “ready for a Throwdown!” beating Chef Flay in 2009’s Battle Cioppino, but could not even fathom the coming onslaught of national interest in his famous Sicilian stew.

“It’s been crazy, crazy, crazy,” said DiGirolamo recently from his iconic restaurant. “Bobby told me it would be like this.”

Since the original airing (and following subsequent repeats on Food Network), orders for buckets of cioppino have come from across the globe (Phil’s website crashed four times the first day). DiGirolamo has since expanded his operation, freezing the cioppino and shipping it next-day air.

“It got bigger than all of us here,” he said. “It’s changed the way we do business.”philcooks

Phil’s has always been a popular spot, but after “Throwdown” it’s a dog-eared page on everyone’s travel itinerary.

“People come from all over the world,” he said. “They hold rehearsal dinners here, memorials. They say things like ‘my father’s favorite place was Phil’s,’ so they scatter the ashes on the ocean and come back here for cioppino.”

It even changed the way DiGirolamo viewed his recipe. What was always a closely guarded secret is now given away to anyone who asks.

“What the heck,” he said. “I got tired of saying no to people.” Continue reading

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Noodles from ancient Siam

Siamese Bay pad Thai

The pad Thai at Siamese Bay in Monterey.

When perusing exotic menu items at Thai restaurants, Americans tend to gravitate toward Pad Thai, a simple, dry noodle dish with authentic roots dating back to ancient Siam. But this dish would never have reached cult status on the streets of Bangkok, or crossed the oceans to America for that matter, if not for some fierce nationalism, political maneuvering and clever marketing.

In the years before World War II, Thailand’s Prime Minister Luang Phibunsongkhramget launched a campaign to increase Thai nationalism and centralization. To make more rice available for export, he branded a popular Chinese-style noodle dish as “Pad Thai” (“pad” meaning stir-fry). His campaign educated the poor in the production of rice noodles, and soon the dish was being prepared in every small cafe and street cart in the country.

It quickly became a widespread staple and one of the national dishes of Thailand. Traditional Pad Thai is dry and light-bodied, with a fresh, complex, balanced flavor. It should be reddish-brown in color, not bright red and oily as seen in many Americanized restaurants. Pad Thai includes stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, fish sauce, scallions, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, red chili pepper, lime and a variety of optional ingredients, including shrimp, chicken or tofu.

There are as many ways to make Pad Thai as there are moods of a cook. Whatever the combinations or ingredient list, it’s important to retain the tell-tall flavors of hot, sour, sweet and salty so characteristic of Thai cuisine.

Pad Thai in wok

Chef Vanisee stirs the pad Thai at Siamese Bay.

When it comes to flavor and authenticity, I like the Pad Thai at Siamese Bay in Monterey. I order it medium spicy (enough to draw a small pool of tears), with shrimp and ground peanuts. Owner Sam Taisaeng says it’s a top seller, and quite easy to make. It’s a version his wife and restaurant cook Vasinee learned at culinary school in Bangkok, where it’s quite common to get a bowl of such noodles on the street for the equivalent of $1.

Vasinee starts with an extremely hot wok, adding a bit of vegetable oil. Then she puts six cleaned, butterflied shrimp in a bowl with one egg. She dumps that mixture into the hot oil, quickly adding one ladle of her homemade pad Thai sauce (a secret mixture containing, among others, vinegar, paprika, sugar and salt). The shrimp cooks and the egg scrambles, and she adds the softened rice noodles, simmering until the liquid is absorbed. The plate is garnished with strings of red cabbage and carrots, bean sprouts, cilantro and ground peanuts.

Annabelle Liscomb

Annabelle Liscomb in the kitchen at the American Legion in Seaside.

Thai-born Anna Liscomb of Louisiana Thaibelle (read more on Liscomb in this week’s Grub Hunter column in The Herald) makes a quick-and-easy version of Pad Thai served at the American Legion Post in Seaside from Friday through Monday. Liscomb shaves steps off the process by using bottled Pad Thai sauce, a concoction that includes sugar, tamarind, soy sauce, fish sauce, tomato paste, salt, vinegar, lime juice and other ingredients to effectively mimic the authentic, labor-intensive process.

She does not use eggs, but is liberal with condiments of bean sprouts, raw red cabbage, cilantro and crushed peanuts. For those who prefer it spicy, she adds ground chile pepper. Her recipe follows.

Finally, I have included an easy-to-follow recipe from one of my culinary heroes, Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet and former heralded restaurant critic for The New York Times in the 1990s. Continue reading

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