Cooks & Chef’s III

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It came in the mail yesterday. It’s the Fall 2016 issue, technically #20. Literally, the third installment of the Lucky Peach spotlight on Cooks & Chefs, also dubbed the Fine Dining issue. I still do not have my own kitchen, but stay tuned…there is real potential for p.139, Fried Chicken: Hawaiian Chicken with Spam Fried Rice!

Albany Cafeteria Breakfast

Page 18 – Lucky Peach #17 – The Breakfast Issue

Food 18

Something amazing happened. I cooked a Lucky Peach breakfast in my Mom’s kitchen. Yes, I’m still homeless but her guest room has been mighty comfy lately. After a short gig at Kitchen Mouse in Highland Park (my first ever real restaurant experience, and it was lovely, the peeps there are all fantastic), I have taken up copywriting at an ad agency while burning the midnight oil on my own work (forever). Recently, my friend Bobbo visited from Cordova, Alaska where he’s a forest ranger in the Chugash. He interrupted all my shit and so I decided on his way out we’d have some cocktails while I cooked a warm meal for him and a few other friends. So, here are Brooklyn chef Stephen Tanner’s Bologna Cups, aka the Albany Cafeteria Breakfast. From what I gather from his photos in the LP article, we’d get along fine – smoking and southern boys are right up my alley.

AND I hustled my friend/rad photographer Micah Slay to shoot the pics and drink with us.


Don’t let this breakfast fool you, it’s a juggling act and after I got through my first Capt & Coke, I whipped my crew into shape and put them to work. The bologna cups are easy to make, but I recommend you do them at the end actually, since they take seconds to curl up in a hot saute pan and you want to serve them caliente. By the way, I learned that in L.A. it’s not so common to get bologna sliced at the deli. I witnessed it in some shitty part of Massachusetts with an ex-biker boyfriend I had and thought they did it everywhere, but not so much. Oscar Meyer still rules most deli meat aisles (probably ’cause this stuff is nuclear), but there are many varieties to choose from. I chose the pork & chicken combo over the beef, because after all, bologna is really Italian mortadella sausage. It’s actually a much fancier breakfast than you thought.


It’s the hash browns and salsa verde that take real prep and patience. So, just get right into that. Boil the potato for 9 min, grate it, and then form little piles on a griddle. Put 2 T butter (YEP) on top of each pile on med heat, and let the butter melt all the way through that puppy and then flip it. Add cheddar on top and dream. Tanner reveals that this is his infiltration of the Waffle House hash browns, and holy fuck, he’s got that right.


In the meantime, get someone to make you a drink and then get on the salsa verde. It’s nt the season here in L.A. but since there’s so many Mexicans, you can’t sneeze without finding tomatillos and jalapenos in stores still. Boil the jalapeno for 1 min, then add the tomatillos and turn off the flame. Let them cool, then drain.


Add them to a blender with chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, and salt. I say add as much as you like of all those things, taste it and make it exactly how you like, everyone is different on their salsa code.

The real trick is once you have a buzz, make sure someone else wants to do the poached eggs because they take up most of your attention. Tanner gave us a fancy scientific prop instruction involving a cup. The homie Chris was on it, and a 3 min poach was perfect.

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Get that slice of bologna hot and curled into a cup and add the cheddar hash browns first, then the poached egg, and top with your salsa verde.

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That my friend, is da bomb diggity. Super tasty and pairs wonderfully with Capt. Morgan’s and Coke – and a visit from Ranger Bob.

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A Kitchen To Call My Own


It’s been a long hot endless summer on the road of life. Partly due to a heatwave, but also because I’ve had no real place to call my own since July. I had to leave my cool vintage apartment in Silver Lake before it fell down, literally and emotionally. The building is known for a famous murder in the 1930’s and sweethearts Kurt & Courtney lived there once, so you can just imagine the pain in the walls of that laundry room (plus the electrical pre-dated grunge by decades). I fortunately left somewhat unscathed and found places to dream at night while day-writing: Mom’s spare room, back of my Subaru, hotel rooms, friend’s couches, etc etc…but a home is on the horizon! Which means, you guessed it, a kitchen to call my own. A tiled cook’s dream. A place to cry over onions. A room to cut myself slicing habaneros with no gloves on and then rub my eyes. A space to fulfill one of my destinies (you can have more than one): TO COOK EVERY RECIPE IN LUCKY PEACH!

Thank you for waiting.

photo credit: “Hitchhiker I” by Sleep Weasel

Strawberry Shake with Aperol and Saba

Page 59 – Lucky Peach #12 – The Seashore

The latest issue has been in my hot hands for like a week or so and I’ve been salivating at some of the recipes. The Seashore theme is exactly what you might imagine – snapper breakfast, Balinese prawns, beach reading, anchovies in Italy, a guide to knowing 8 great clams, and a tribute to the movie Goonies.

So, I’m 40. I’m just going to come out and say it. But you know what that means, to my generation (fuck you, we don’t need a name), Goonies is OUR TIME. Chris Ying wrote a great intro to this section that explores food in coastal Oregon, pointing out the edibles plentiful on the shoreline. And if you venture inland, the edibles become more and more green, if you know what I mean (I lived in Eugene in the mid ’90’s). Next year is the 30th anniversary of the epic adventure comedy and LP went all out featuring recipes inspired by the film – they even rented the Fratelli’s Jeep Cherokee and shot photos on the same beach the getaway was filmed. I know, so cool!

Back here in Los Angeles, things are a normal 90 degrees for August, and the only way I think we’ll fight the gentrification on the eastside is by drinking boozey shakes. In homage to Chunk’s amazing scene in the bowling alley window where he smashes his pizza and strawberry milkshake in awe of the infamous opening sequence car chase, they created some new recipes for their photo re-enactment.

Really cool. So we’re making their Strawberry shake with Aperol and Saba because it’s hot here and we need a pick me up.

Though I can drink, I didn’t know what Aperol was. I also didn’t know what saba syrup was, so I did some research, called around and went shopping. The bottle of Aperol ran me $27.99 at Gelson’s, the saba syrup $21.99 at Oaks Gourmet Market. I bought a pint of some killer sweet cream ice cream that ran $7.50 and the strawberries were about $3.50. You know how much that totals? About $61!! More facial expressions on that to come.


Chop up the strawberries and throw it all in the blender. I borrowed Sharon and Stu’s Vitamix, because it’s kinda awesome and I need a new blender.


That’s my ‘you know how much this was, best be good, biytach’ face.



Yes, I want to shank that expensive gourmet product. But, we tasted the saba because we were intrigued. Though costly, I know I will use it again, perhaps when roasting veggies or grilling meat. It’s a fancy vinegar and I have a feeling we’ll become good friends, hopefully it won’t get jealous of the red wine vinegar I brew at home.




It tastes rich. Like a thick walk in the park. ? Okay, next add over-priced ice cream and blend – add a few generous pinches of salt too.


And then you have to try it to check the consistency. Some like it thick, some like it more liquidy. I’m the former.IMG_8876 IMG_8877  IMG_8879

I told you I can drink. That shake is the bomb!!!! So good. It blended well and was a little less thick than I wanted, so we put it in the freezer for like 15 minutes and that did the trick.


Stu, Sharon’s husband, is like me. We both fiend for ice cream and really like The Stooges. He came over with Oli to partake – oh, wait. You haven’t met Oli have you? Oliver Keaton Jenkins is their lovely boy, who was in Sharon’s tummy for a few of these recipes. So, you could say he’s been here awhile, but today, you formally meet through photography.


Why yes, he is also Chewbacca’s stand-in.

Oh, and the shake! It is fantastic – like dynomite! The Aperol is subtle, but with a respectable kick, and the saba compliments the sweet cream, making it a very complex yumminess. We got 3 pints easy out of it, so that’s like a $20 shake! So much for gentrification. I advocate rent control in my neighborhood, but if you’ve been to Silver Lake you know how hard to find that really is!

And we drink. We all drink.

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We’re currently making Oli do the Truffle Shuffle for milk.

Salt-Rising Bread

Page 18 – Lucky Peach #11 – All You Can Eat

IMG_7933That’s right, I made a quite a comeback. Not only was I dying to get up on a recipe, but I decided to probably do one of the weirdest LP has printed thus far. It’s not the first time I’ve made bread from scratch, but this kind of bread is odd. It’s made with a starter that has cornmeal and boiling milk. That’s not normal, people. The deal with bread is that it’s fermented (in case you’re new). Usually you want some good old fashioned bacteria to get up in your starter and then you use that to make your dough, it rises, you bake it, yadda yadda yadda. Well, in this case, the welcome pathogen is Clostridium perfringens, and as our science-loving-foodie-writer Harold McGee explains, “Its cells can divide every ten minutes, a handful turning into trillions of hydrogen makers overnight. The hydrogen gas can leaven dough just as yeast-generated carbon dioxide does. The result is something known as ‘salt-rising bread.'” As far as the All You Can Eat umbrella goes, he attributes this recipe to “the far shores of edibility.” The situation here is that the bacteria produces acetic, lactic, propionic, and butyric acids. That last one contributes a sharp smell of aged cheese, and the one right before it is typical of Emmental-style swiss. Yeah, trippy, more on that later.

It took me much longer to make this bread then it should’ve, but I attribute that to the fact that the key to the whole deal is the temperature. From the get go, the starter needs boiling hot milk, then the starter and sponge need to kick it at like 100 – 110 degrees, while the dough also needs to rise in a warm environment. The recipe suggests a warm oven (mine doesn’t go that low) or a water bath. I said, ‘Fuck You,’ politely and used my dehydrator (the ol’ Excalibur). To be honest, I don’t really know if it worked, but a day and hours later, I made the bread, so there. Ironically, it was like 90 outside here in Silver Lake when I was doing this, so at one point I actually put the sponge outside because I swear the dehydrator didn’t seem warm enough (yes, it has a temperature gage, but shit…).

I followed the recipe to the tee and then went off-roading (not literally). I made my starter, let it sit in my dehydrator for 10 hours, took it out and it didn’t seem as fermenty or what I like to call “hooch-like,” but I just kept at it. I added the necessary ingredients to the starter to make the sponge, let that sit for 4 hours in the dehydrator, but it never looked as bubbly as I hoped, so that’s when I put it outside for a few hours, then finally caved and brought it in and made the dough. It looked and acted like bread dough at that point though, so bombs away, I spread it in the loaf pans and left it to rise (again, in the dehydrator, which usually is a really good place to proof shit). 6 hours later it didn’t look good, nothing Easter Jesus like about this bread dough. I went out, tried to forget about it, came back by midnight and it had risen! Amen!

Of course, it was now midnight and I really didn’t want to bake the bread, but I did.  After about 27 minutes, it looked pretty brown on the outside, but wasn’t done on the inside. I let it go the full 45 minutes and pulled it. The outside was really crusty and I knew it would be hard, I don’t know if it was the cornmeal, but it was just a bit rough around the edges, if you know what I mean. But the insides were perfect. Here’s how it went down in a much quicker time span than the trauma I went through.

The bread has a curious taste. When I took it out of the oven, my house smelled like a funky cheese. Since we don’t hang out that often, you don’t know that I hate funky cheese, meaning blue or anything veiny or gorgonzolaesque. Fuck that shit. I do love feta, gouda, munster, swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, and even brie – but no blue cheese, YUCK. But the smell was mild, and it was cheesy, which made me believe I did something right since it obviously had that lovely blend of acids I mentioned earlier. The bread does kinda taste cheesy too. I can’t put my finger on an exact way to describe it really. It’s like a thick, creamy tasting bread. It’s rich but not actually that salty to me. It tastes like cheese bread, but there’s no cheese! Sharon, my trusty neighbor really couldn’t wrap her head around it either, but we both ate it up. I actually think it was even better like 2 days later, when I had it with my breakfast. 

20140725_110359*Note: Do NOT eat the raw dough or lick the spoon while preparing this recipe – the microbes in this bacteria are actually associated with food poisoning – told you this was weird – but none of the strains actually produce toxins (thanks to the baking process bacteria and toxins are inactivated).

**One more note: The recipe also appears on Popular Science.


Page 33 – Lucky Peach #7 – The Travel IssueIMG_3895I’m back! First off, let me point out I took the blog off tumblr and we have a new URL – straight up, now, so tell your friends. Secondly, I apologize for taking some time off, there was some traveling to be done. Fittingly, the latest Lucky Peach issue is The Travel Issue and though it’s shorter on recipes than usual, it’s plentiful in adventure stories on food culture from places like Hawaii, Crete, Syria, and Sweden. Plus, there’s some Cocktology, a word I plan to throw around when I’m not talking about drinks.IMG_3758Peter Meehan scored this Butter Mochi recipe from Hawaiian Kamaʻaina Cathy Juhn (a friend of Roy Choi’s they hung with in Oahu when partaking in the food happenings for this issue). It’s very Hawaiian, though she points out many cultures have their own take on it. Your first thought probably is, this doesn’t look like mochi – isn’t that a Japanese ice cream treat you can’t eat just one of? Well, this is a little different, though it has the same consistency but is more like an Americanized cake version. It will all make sense when you make it and taste it. Promise.IMG_3764IMG_3767It’s quick to prepare, which is rad, but takes an hour to bake. Set your oven to 350, find a 13 x 9 baking pan, and then gather your ingredients. I got the Mochiko flour from my local Korean grocery market in Echo Park.

The only thing that takes any time is melting the stick of butter and then cooling it. Just melt it on low, and pull it off the flame immediately and it will cool down pretty quickly.

IMG_3778Be patient (as usual).

Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet stuff in another. Then slowly add the wet to the dry and mix. “There needs to be no fear of overmixing,” advises Cathy. So just mix away. I used the Kitchenaide, because, why not? IMG_3793IMG_3805IMG_3808Pour it all into the baking dish, put it in the oven, and kick back. My friend Sofi and I watched “Cronos” while we waited. When the timer went off, we paused the film and lurked over the pan, waiting for it to cool enough for us to dig in and have a nice, warm piece.IMG_3847The first bite reactions to the Butter Mochi were great.IMG_3867IMG_3914IMG_3904Everyone who tried it immediately tripped out on the taste, then the texture, all the while experiencing ecstasy because it’s really really good!IMG_3889IMG_3919Sharon described it as a cross of cornbread and gummy bears. I think it’s probably one of the great stoner foods, not that the rest of the general population won’t love it too. It has the sweet, thick, kinda super creamy consistency mochi does, but it’s like a brownie. A buttery, yummy, island style brownie.IMG_3891Yep, I’m a true fan of Kauai, as Sofi is pointing out and when I was a wee pup I ran off to live in Waikiki Beach with kids I met on Dead tour. Good times. 

Let the butter mochi cool and wrap what you don’t eat right away in plastic and keep it in the fridge. When you want to scarf it again, either leave it out at room temp or microwave it.IMG_3899


Pg.72 – Lucky Peach Issue #2 – The Sweet Spot


If I didn’t say it enough in the last post, I really love those corn cookies. Like, REALLY. This next recipe for the corn cookie ham and cheese fell on the pages right after the corn cookie and I just couldn’t believe what was happening to me when I first encountered this. I was absolutely floored at the possibility of making a ham and cheese, one of the greats of the grilled cheese world, with a pair of cookies! But, I’ll pretty much try anything (ask every drug addict that knows me) so I ran to the store, bought some sharp cheddar cheese and black forest ham and went at it. You gotta make the cookies first, so please see my previous post on the corn cookie to get the recipe. Here’s the other specifics:




Look at those yummy cookies, I want to eat some right now just from this photo!! Okay, relax, pull yourself together!

It’s pretty simple, bust out a non-stick cooking pan (I tried a stainless steel the other day actually, and it ripped the top off the cookie, so I don’t know if that was my lameness or the pan really makes a difference…so that’s the source of my suggestion on that) and turn the heat on med-high. Step away, let it get hot, then put a cookie top-down with the small slices of cheese on it in the pan.


Then add the ham.


Put the top of the cookie on and walk away. I’m serious, you need to be patient and let the cookie caramelize. 



Let it cook for a few minutes, be patient! Then flip it over – it will look like this, and that’s cool. Plus, the cheese will melt, and let it get gooey!


Another couple minutes and then get it out the pan and eat it!!








Thanks for the photos, Sharon. Part of my last supper (the meal I would have before I die, if I knew it was coming, aka my death row meal) would have to include this. It’s an out of sight taste combination of sweet, creamy, and savory. You MUST make and eat these before you die.


Pg.70 – Lucky Peach Issue #2 – The Sweet Spot

This post ain’t no joke. I solemnly swear that this is the recipe I’ve repeated the most from Lucky Peach. I love these cookies. These are Christina Tosi’s famous corn cookies and you can actually get the OG originals at Milk Bar in NYC (along with several other great treats that will make you gain 5 pounds just looking at them). This famous cookie has made me famous in many circles here in Los Angeles, and I hope none of those people read this post so they can go on thinking I’m the only amazing, wonderful and talented person that makes them. They are really that damn good.

I think the secret to their deliciousness lies in a few different areas – the use of freeze-dried corn powder, the Plugra butter, and the whole 10-minute creaming process that Christina says is “the secret to any great Milk Bar cookie.” But what do I know, really? I’m learning as I go, and I intend to learn it all from Lucky Peach.

Let’s get started. Here’s what you need:

So, Plugra anyone?

I never used this before. Even in all the times I made pot butter, I never used this (I should’ve). It’s 82% butterfat, which is fattier than the average butter. It’s a cultured butter which means it’s made from a fermented cream. During fermentation, the cream naturally sours as bacteria convert milk sugars into lactic acid. The fermentation process produces additional aroma compounds, which makes for a fuller-flavored and more “buttery” tasting product, a more deeper flavor than regular butter (or so says Wikipedia, fuck, that means it’s probably wrong). Anyway, you can buy this at upscale fancypants grocery stores. I think I picked it up at Whole Foods, a place I try to avoid, but that’s another story. One block of it (8 oz) is good for this recipe.

Break out your KitchenAid (I called it a mixer and got made fun of by a biker, so get the name right). You’re gonna mix the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment on med-high for 2-3 minutes. Use a timer for this recipe, it helps so you don’t fuck anything up with your ADD.


It turns a nice fluffy pale yellow color. Then add the egg at a low speed, then pump it to med-high and set the timer for 8 minutes. This is some science shit happening (the 10-minute creaming process). “We’re forcing a whole bunch of sugar and fat together. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become a pale white color, and the creamed mixture will nearly double in volume.”

And, so it did. Looks good, right? I got this shit down. 

Okay, now for the freeze-dried corn powder talk. You gotta either order this online or hopefully find it at your health food store, or maybe in a good grocery store (try the kids food section if they have one). Again, I got mine – called Just Corn – at Whole Foods. The recipe says don’t bother with the organic stuff, it’s not as flavorful for some reason. Sharon and I had a good laugh once at Whole Foods asking if they could see if they had it non-organic. So grind it down in a food processor and there you have your freeze-dried corn powder.

I actually stock up now so I have my own jar of it handy. 

So, after the creaming, take the speed down to low and add all of the dry ingredients (that’s right, there is corn flour and all-purpose flour). Only mix for like a minute, the dough will come together nicely for you that quick.

Then, the next part sucks. You get to spoon it all out on cookie sheets (and use parchment paper on the sheets) but then you have to let the dough chill for at least an hour (no longer than a week) in the fridge! 

You can’t bake these at room-temperature because when you make a cookie with this much butter (I know!) you want it to be cold so the butter will not melt out too quickly. So, wrap the sheets with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge and take a ride on your motorcycle for an hour, that’s what I did.

After that hour, bust them out of the fridge life and bake them in the oven at 350 for 18 minutes. Use that timer!

They will get a nice soft brown around the edges and that’s it – they’re done!

Bake as many as possible. Everyone will want them as soon as they know you’re making them – I Instagrammed a pic of the dough and I got this text dialogue reenactment later in the day from my neighbor Sharon:

Me: Trina’s making cookies

Stu: Holy Shit

I actually mailed most of these to a friend right after I baked them. He should be getting them in the mail tomorrow. He’s a lucky guy.

Roy Choi & Anthony Bourdain last night

Disclaimer: This is not a cooking adventure from Lucky Peach! It’s a selfish entry about last night. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to the discussion “Guts and Glory, and evening with Anthony Bourdain and Roy Choi” over at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Just wanted to share a few cool things they talked about – I think it’s safe to say these guys are part of the Lucky Peach extended family, so this isn’t too out of sorts to do here.


I know you know who Tony is (I think that’s what the cool kids call him), but in case you’re not familiar with Roy, he is a So Cal native who created the Kogi truck and the fucking DELICIOUS Korean-Mexican food you can find out there on the road or in his restaurant Chego. He’s also on the team over at A-Frame and Sunny Spot and they serve Kogi BBQ over at the Alibi Room. He has a new book coming out soon called  L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food. 


The guys engaged in a Q & A with each other and then opened it up to the audience, who did not completely embarrass themselves (omg, go to one film Q&A in this town and you’ll know what I mean). Tony shared Vietnam is his #1 place to visit and eat in the world, Roy shared if he was on a desert island the three chefs he’d want there would be Eric Ripert (I think he said his name, but I could be wrong, I feel like he said Chef Eric and I’m guessing it’s this one – if I’m dead wrong, correct me internet!), Dave Chang, and Mario Batali. In fact, since my last post was a Mario recipe from Lucky Peach, I just want to add that they both LOVE Mario. Tony said the best restaurant in L.A. hands down is Mozza. So there, men loving men, which is hot.

Roy also asked Tony if he would feed the homeless if they came in with cash dolla bills to pay for their meal – and Tony straight up said he wouldn’t serve them. I was surprised by his answer, and then not surprised, because Tony is a New Yorker and no matter what people say, they are way more fucking stuck up than Angelenos. One thing I loved was that Roy brought up how much extra food there is leftover from the rich foodie festival events that happen during the year and how it just goes in the trash, pointing out that all that food could be given to the homeless in the area. He suggested they show up after the event or have a separate area where this scrap food be collected and then handed out to the people who really need it. I fucking love that he even went there and in front of all the people at the Pantages (that was an $80 ticket I bought back when I had a paying job). Another thing that came up was the use of the phrase ‘ethnic food’ and how it can be pretty fucking derogatory. 

Tony went through a therapy session of sorts when asked about both the foie gras ban in California and Paula Dean – both very sensitive subjects for him. Let me just say, he feels the foie gras ban is total bullshit because the whole point of the way foie gras is harvested (or collected if you prefer that phrase) is done in such a way that the animal is not being sacrificed to the Aztec Gods (brutally tortured) to actually get the fantastic taste of foie gras, so the ban is a total PETA scam. As for Paula Dean, I totally get it, that poor woman really needed to out her diabetes sooner and in fact, quit teaching Americans how to cook to get it themselves. By the way, Tony in fact does like Rachel Ray and it sounds like they’re actually friends.

Wow, lots of fucking food gossip today. I’m hungry. I swear I’m gonna track down the Kogi truck for lunch!