Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

About Me

My Photo
The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
View my complete profile


Powered by Blogger.
Aug 29, 2013


One of my favorite things about living in Santa Monica are all the free outdoor activities that take place.  In the summer, they host the Twilight Concert Series on the pier, and always gather an eclectic and amazing group of musicians.  While there's some lovely dancing and rocking out on the pier, my friends and I prefer the massive picnic/illicit wine drinking situation on the beach.  This week is going to be very New Orleans-inspired with Trombone Shorty and the Dustbowl Revival, and that got me craving a there might be some cocktail shaking in the sand...

It's one of America's oldest cocktails and is a New Orleans variation on an Old Fashioned.  The name came from the brand of cognac that was originally used in this classic libation - Sazerac de Forge et Fils - and was sold at the Merchants Exchange in the 1850s.  A gent named Aaron Bird took the space over and changed its name to the Sazerac House and served a cocktail using that namesake cognac, absinthe and some bitters from a local druggist down the street - a Mr. Antoine Amedie Peychaud.  In the 1870s, the cognac got switched out for rye whiskey because of an epidemic that devastated France's grape crop.  When absinthe was banned in the US in 1912, it was replaced with other anise-flavored liqueurs, such as New Orleans' very own Herbsaint.  The history and prevalence of this drink is so tied to the city, that a bill was actually passed in the Louisiana State Senate in 2008 to make it the official drink of New Orleans.  It's such a simple drink to make, and everyone should really have this American classic in their bartending arsenal.  Now time to whip up a batch of these for the beach!

  • 1 tsp absinthe (I used Pernod) or Herbsaint liqueuer
  • 2 oz rye whiskey (I used Templeton) or cognac
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • Lemon peel
- "Rinse" a chilled coupe or Old-Fashioned glass with the absinthe by rolling it around the inside of the glass and evenly coating.
- Shake out the excess liqueur.
- In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the whiskey, simple syrup and bitters.
- Shake and strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
- Take a peel of lemon and squeeze over the drink to release the essential oils and drop in the glass.

Aug 22, 2013

Tegroni Time!

You all know how I love my Negronis, and I'm always looking for fun variations.  Thanks to, they introduced me to the Tegroni, which swaps out the gin and adds in the tequila.  It's a fun, summer twist on a traditional drink.  For the sweet vermouth, I've been a big fan of Punt e Mes lately.  It's one of the more bitter vermouths out there, which is perhaps why I like it so much!  The taste is described by many as halfway between a sweeter Antica Formula and the bitter Campari.  Serve this cocktail up with a grapefruit twist and a giant bowl of least that's what I'll be doing for the rest of the summer and in to early fall.

  • 1 oz silver tequila (I used Patrón)
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes or your favorite sweet vermouth
  • Grapefruit peel or twist, for garnish
- In a mixing glass filled with the ice, add the tequila, Campari and sweet vermouth and stir.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a grapefruit peel.

Aug 20, 2013

Garlic & Herb-Marinated Mozzarella

Libations used: Splash of sherry...
Libations left over: Basically the whole bottle, so pour yourself a little glass to celebrate how easy making this recipe was...
I had just come back from a lovely weekend celebrating a friend's wedding in Lake Tahoe, so I was far too tired to cook anything.  I knew later in the week I'd be going to a picnic at the Santa Monica Pier for one of their free summer concerts on the beach, so I wanted to bring something cheesy and delicious.  The Kitchn's recipe for Garlic & Herb-Marinated Mozzarella is full of fresh herb goodness, as well as a splash of sherry.  I used a mixture of fresh basil, oregano and thyme and added a bit more than 2 tablespoons.  Rather than use a cheap cooking sherry, I purchased a bottle of Tio Pepe Fino Sherry, which is a nicer, mid-range brand and better for sipping.  You can use either bocconcini or ciliegine mozzarella, but I prefer the small ciliegine as they're easier to share with large groups.  The Kitchn also recommends trying this recipe with other cheeses such as feta or goat cheese.  I plan on serving these tasty morsels up in an antipasti platter with olives, roasted peppers and prosciutto...and maybe finish off that bottle of sherry!

Garlic & Herb-Marinated Mozzarella - serves 6 to 8
  • 3/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (I used 6)
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano and/or parsley)
  • 1 tsp black or rainbow peppercorns
  • 1-2 bay leaves (I used 1)
  • Peel from half a lemon, thinly sliced
  • Splash of sherry (I used Tio Pepe Fino Sherry)
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 16 oz of ciliegine, drained
- Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it's bubbling gently.
- Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
- Stir in the herbs, peppercorns, bay leaf and lemon peel.
- Add the sherry, red pepper flakes and salt, to taste.
- In a large bowl, pour the mixture over the mozzarella and toss gently to evenly coat.
- Transfer the mozzarella and mixture to a mason jar or airtight container.
- Refrigerate overnight or up to two weeks.
- Bring to room temperature before serving.

Aug 15, 2013

Miso-Glazed Halibut

Libations used: 3/4 cup sake, 3/4 cup mirin...
Libations left over: Just enough sake left to do a shot and say Kanpai!"...
A good friend of mine has been fishing off the shores of Alaska and Mexico this past summer and catching oodles of amazing halibut, yellowtail and blue fin tuna.  And I'm lucky enough that this friend shares his bounty with us all!  I'd been wanting to make the Miso-Glazed Cod recipe from the Bite Me cookbook for a while, and decided to use the lovely halibut my friend caught me.  Any mild white fish is fine for this recipe, so use something yummy, fresh and seasonal if you can.  The marinade uses both sake and mirin, which is a rice wine similar to sake but lower in alcohol content and used frequently in cooking.

Miso-Glazed Halibut - serves 6
  • 3/4 cup sake
  • 3/4 cup mirin
  • 1 cup white miso paste
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • Six 6 oz halibut, cod or sea bass fillets
- In a medium sauce pan over high heat, add the sake and mirin, and boil for 30 seconds.
- Turn heat to low and add the miso paste and soy sauce, stirring until the paste is dissolved.
- Add the brown sugar and turn the heat back onto high, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let the marinade cool down to room temperature.
- Pat the fish fillets dry before adding into a large plastic bag.
- Add the marinade to the bag and seal.
- Let the fish marinate for at least 12-24 hours, turning the fillets in the bag occasionally to ensure they're evenly coated.
- When the fish is ready to cook, preheat the oven to 450.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
- Remove the fish from the bag and lightly wipe off excess marinade before placing on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 6-7 minutes.
- Place the fish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to get a nice glaze on top.

Aug 13, 2013

Lavender Lemonade Mojito

This past Sunday, I came home from the Farmers' Market with a fistful of my favorite mint from Maggies' Farms.  It's a special combination of chocolate mint, peppermint and spearmint (thank the bees!) and it's awesome in cocktails and desserts.  So of course, I needed to make a drink that would highlight it, and since August is National Rum Month, it had to be a mojito.

Rather than make a typical mojito, I decided to make use of all the lavender syrup I had in my fridge.  And because lavender pairs so nicely with lemon, I added fresh lemon juice instead of lime and balanced the sweetness with Fever Tree's Bitter Lemon Tonic Water.  It's a refreshing twist, and I think this just may be my new favorite way to make a mojito!

Lavender Lemonade Mojito
  • 2 oz white rum (I used Bacardi)
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz lavender simple syrup
  • 12 mint leaves, plus some for garnish
  • 4 oz Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Soda
- In a shaker glass, add the rum, lemon juice, simple syrup and mint leaves and muddle.
- Add ice and shake.
- Pour into a glass and top with the soda.
- Garnish with a mint leaf.

Aug 8, 2013

Kentucky Maid

About a month ago, my friend Justin made a couple of pitchers of a Kentucky Maid cocktail for a birthday party.  The man loves bourbon — one of many reasons why I'm glad he's marrying one of my dear friends next weekend!  It's a refreshing drink created by the legendary Sam Ross of Milk & Honey in NYC and now Hinoki & The Bird in LA, where there's a whole menu dedicated to Negronis (YES).  This libation is simple and smacks of summer with just some fresh lime juice, muddled mint and cucumber.  Perfection.  Justin, love you for introducing me to this drink, and here's to many more Kentucky Maids.
Kentucky Maid 
  • 2 oz bourbon (I used Four Roses)
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 6 mint leaves, plus some for garnish
  • 4 cucumber slices, reserving one for garnish
- In a mixing glass or shaker, combine all the ingredients and muddle.
- Add ice and shake, shake, shake.
- Pour into a glass and garnish with a mint leaf and cucumber slice.

Aug 6, 2013

Rum & Coconut Banana Bread

Libations used: 2 or more Tbs of dark rum...
Libations left over: None, but you can swig from the bottle like a pirate...
When you have super ripe bananas, there's nothing better to do than make banana bread.  I had just gotten back from a quick trip to San Diego for a friend's wedding last weekend, and the few bananas I had left behind were definitely asking to be made into bread.  I was going to a concert later that night at the Hollywood Bowl, and had told everyone I was bringing dessert.  Joy The Baker's recipe for Brown Butter Banana Bread with Rum & Coconut seemed like the perfect dessert-like bread for a balmy summer evening.  Not only is there dark rum baked into the bread, but you can spread some on top when the loaf is done baking for some extra boozy goodness.  I think next time I make this, I may even add in some chocolate chips to really give it that dessert boost.  Either way, we all devoured this with plenty of wine and the hippie sounds of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros wafting through the air — a perfect LA night.

Rum & Coconut Banana Bread - makes 1 medium loaf
  • 12 Tbs of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs dark rum, plus more for brushing on top (I used Meyers's Rum)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • 1/4 cup untoasted coconut
- Heat oven to 350.
- Grease and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt and brown the butter.  It will foam and crackle as it melts.  When the crackling is about done, the butter will start to brown.  Be sure to swirl around the pan as it browns, and then when it smells nutty, remove from heat.  Transfer the butter into a small bowl, so it doesn't continue browning and begin to burn.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, rum and yogurt.
- Whisk in the bananas.
- When the butter is cool, whisk that into the banana mixture.
- Fold in all the wet ingredients into the dry, thoroughly combining to make sure there are no pockets of flour.
- Fold in the toasted coconut carefully, trying not to over stir.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and top with the untoasted coconut.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, until done.
- Remove from the oven and let the bread cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the pan onto a wire rack to cool.
- Brush the top with some more dark rum.

Aug 1, 2013

Blood Orange & Thyme Paloma

I had picked up a bunch of blood oranges last week to make this Boat House Punch, and had some left over.  So when I saw this recipe from Aida Mollenkamp for a Blood Orange & Thyme Paloma, I just couldn't resist.  Palomas are like a twist on margaritas, except there's grapefruit soda in place of the Cointreau.  I took a slight departure from Aida's recipe, by combining fresh blood orange juice and club soda instead of using San Pellegrino's Blood Orange Soda.  Either way is fine — I'm just a sucker for fresh juices.  

Blood Orange & Thyme Paloma
  • 12 sprigs of thyme with leaves removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 oz tequila (I used Patrón Silver)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 3 oz blood orange juice
  • 3 oz club soda
  • Lime wedge and sprig of thyme, for garnish

- In a small dish, combine the thyme and salt, using your fingers to crush and combine the mixture.
- Run a lime wedge along the rim of the glass.
- Dip the edge of the glass into the thyme and salt mixture.
- Add ice, a pinch of the thyme salt, tequila, the lime and blood orange juices and club soda.
- Stir and garnish with the lime wedge and thyme sprig.