Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Son of a Gun

(posted by Jules)

So I love food and I love eating out. Unfortunately my British husband is more of a “food is fuel” type of man. He would happily eat a batch of what he calls his "10 Day Curry" ... for literally 10 days in a row. In desperation to save my gastronomical senses, I enlisted the girlfriends who appreciate food as much as I do to hit the city’s best restaurants.

It wasn't too hard to convince my sister Kim and my friend Jenny once I told them the basic outline of a monthly splurge on amazing food and amazing wines at fabulous eateries. We haven’t come up with an official name yet for our unofficial dining out club, but on our first, and slightly booze-soaked, venture we tossed around “Marmalade and Moonshine,” which I love but don’t really think it has anything to do with our club. “Circle of Trust,” only because we used the meal as a bit of a therapy session. And “Twirly Birds Special,” a play on the fact that we will probably always end up dining around 6:30 pm since it is right after I get off work and we should be able to get a table, even at the most popular places since no one in LA dines that early. We thought "Early Birds Special" made us sound old, hence the “twirly.” Anyway, it is obviously a work in progress, but regardless, our first meal was a smashing success.

 Jenny started with the Buggy Whip Punch and I went with a Moscow Mule

I picked the first restaurant and so we went to Son of a Gun on Third Street in Los Angeles.  I have been wanting to go there for awhile and was not disappointed. The place is small and welcoming. The staff was incredibly friendly, especially our waitress who offered great suggestions, let us try out wines to see if we liked them, and didn’t rush us off, even as the restaurant started to fill up. And how was the food? Divine. It is a fairly small menu of small plates with a variety of culinary origins.

We started off with the Smoked Mahi Fish Dip with Celery, Radish and Crackers. It was amazing, especially since smoked fish rillettes and dips are my favorite right now.

Smoked Mahi

After that, the plates just kept rolling out: Gem Lettuce with Pickled Beets, Creme Fraiche & Bread Crumbs (the crunch of the tiny breadcrumbs made the dish); Dungeness Crab with Daikon, Melon & Yuzu.

Dungeness Crab

Blackened Rock Fish with Tomatillo Salsa and Crema:

Blackened Rock Fish

Fried Chicken sandwich with Spicy B&B Pickle Slaw & Rooster Aioli (the chicken was so tender and the sandwich was so tall, we almost didn't know how to eat it); Uni with Burrata, Button Mushrooms & Yuzu. Yes - I tried Uni which I now know is sea urchin. It was interesting, especially with the Burrata since it has the same texture. Not sure if I will have it again, but I am glad I tried it once and the flavors were very good.

Normally I am not a dessert orderer, but since these nights are going to be about trying something new and fully experiencing the menu, we figured that we would have to indulge in dessert. Especially since they had something on the menu called an Italian Hamburger, which is a scoop of hazelnut ice cream covered in caramel on a sweet brioche with a dusting of Maldon sea salt and powdered sugar.  

Italian Hamburger

Needless to say, we practically licked the plate clean. (and I am sure this dish would have even lured my husband out of the house).

It was a fantastic night, the start of many wonderful meals. Thanks to my dining companions for helping me indulge in my foodie side.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Plum and Mascarpone Pie

(posted by Jules)

I have been craving pie and recently I cut out a beautiful looking plum pie recipe from Bon Appetit. When my sister and I were growing up, one of our favorite fruits was plums, and since they are in season right now, plum pie seemed like the perfect Sunday afternoon activity.

Full disclosure: I didn’t make my crust. Have I made crusts before? Yes. Did I want to make a crust when it was 95 degrees out and I only had time to make the entire pie during my son's nap?  No. So I used store bought. However, my goal this fall now that I have conquered canning (or at least figured out the basics) is to perfect the crust. Another Fay family talent that I will not let pass me by.

Sugar Plum Fairies

I followed the directions exactly, which I don’t always tend to do, and I would suggest cutting back on the sugar. It made the plums very sweet, and I think the best part of a plum is the tartness. It would have been nice to have that come through a bit more. The mascarpone & crème fraîche filling was excellent, and I plan on using that as a base for many other fruit pies!

Ready to roast

Satisfied customer

Recipe from Bon Appetit, August 2012

  • 1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought 
  • 4-5 pounds firm ripe plums (20–25 plums), halved, pitted (with skin)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I used 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Whipped cream


Preheat oven to 350°. Line pie dish with crust; crimp edges. Fully bake pie crust according to recipe or box instructions.

Place plums in a large bowl; add 1 1/2 cups sugar and lemon juice. Scrape in seeds from half of vanilla bean; toss to coat. Divide plum mixture between two 13x9x2" glass baking dishes, arranging plums cut side down and overlapping slightly. Roast until juices are bubbling and slightly thickened and plums are tender but not falling apart, 40–60 minutes (cooking time will depend on ripeness of plums). Let cool slightly.

Using a slotted spatula, transfer plums to a rimmed baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; chill. Pour juices in baking dishes into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened and reduced to a scant 1/2 cup, 4–5 minutes; set glaze aside.

Combine remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar, mascarpone, crème fraîche, and honey in a medium bowl. Scrape in seeds from remaining half vanilla bean. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until mixture holds firm peaks (do not overbeat or mascarpone may curdle). DO AHEAD: Plums, glaze, and mascarpone cream can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Spread mascarpone cream evenly over bottom of crust. Arrange some chilled plum halves tightly (but not overlapping) in a single layer over mascarpone mixture. Starting at edges of pie crust, arrange remaining plum halves on top of base layer, overlapping tightly and forming a spiral to cover. Pie should dome slightly in the center.

Using a pastry brush, spread some of glaze over plums (if glaze has firmed up, gently reheat, adding 1 Tbsp. water and whisking to blend).

Cut pie into slices. Top with whipped cream and drizzle with more plum syrup.