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.

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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
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Mar 18, 2014

Shrimp & Pasta Stew

Libations used: 1/2 cup white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner or drink a glass while that shrimp is cooking...
The first day of spring is this Thursday, but while we have sunshine and 80 degree temperatures in Los Angeles, many of you across the country are still feeling like it's winter.  This Shrimp and Pasta Stew from PureWow is comforting, hearty, and is a nice winter to spring transition dish.  It's incredibly thick, so feels more like a saucy pasta, but whatever you want to call it, it's delicious!  The lemon, kale, and parsley give it a bright flavor and texture.  The vegetables are cooked in a little bit of dry, white wine, so use a decent wine that doesn't break the bank and that you'd actually like to drink the rest of — I used a Red Diamond Chardonnay. This dish comes together fairly quickly, so it's great to make on a weeknight.
Shrimp & Pasta Stew - serves 6-8
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups pearl onions 
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used Red Diamond Chardonnay)
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbs lemon zest, plus more for garnish
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • One 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups seafood or vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 cups rigatoni pasta
  • 1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3-4 cups roughly chopped kale
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil.
- When it's warmed up, add the onions and celery and sauté until tender (about 5-6 minutes).
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute more).
- Add the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer, cooking until the liquid is reduced to about half (6-7 minutes).
- Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, lemon zest, salt, and pepper, simmering until fragrant (about 1-2 more minutes).
- Add the tomatoes with juice and the broth, and return the mixture to a simmer.
- Stir in the pasta and cook until it's nearly al dente (about 5 minutes).
- Reduce the heat to low and add the shrimp and kale, continuing to simmer until the pasta is tender, the shrimp is cooked through and the kale is wilted (about 4-5 minutes).
- Ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with lemon zest and parsley.

Mar 6, 2014

Right Hand

Continuing my ode to Miracle Mile Bitters Co., I bring you lushes a little variation on the Right Hand cocktail.  If you're a Negroni fan, then this is a great drink to shake up your routine.  I made slight changes to the recipe Miracle Mile's Louis Anderman sent me, only because I had no aged rum in the house (yeah, gotta change that situation) and combined it a little bit with Michael McIlroy's (formerly of Little Branch and Milk & Honey) original recipe.  Sometimes you just have to use what's stocked in the home bar and experiment a little.  I opted for Crusoe's Organic Spiced Rum and Punt e Mes for the Sweet Vermouth.  I've included their recommendations below, so feel free to play around!  For the bitters, I used Miracle Mile's not-for-sale "The 7 Deadly" which is infused with tobacco and has hints of clove, cinnamon, and coffee (from what I gathered).  Since you can't get these in stores, any aromatic bitters such as Angostura or Peychaud's is fine, but why settle when you can get more creative flavors that Miracle Mile does actually sell, such as their Chocolate Chili or Forbidden Bitters.

Right Hand 
  • 1 3/4 oz aged rum (Louis recommends Zaya Gran Reserva 12 Year Old Rum or Zacapa and Michael's recipe calls for El Dorado 15 Year)
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth (Michael's recipe recommends Carpano Antica)
  • 3/4 oz Campari
  • 2 dashes of aromatic bitters
  • Orange peel, for garnish
- Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Option to garnish with an orange peel (I forgot to add this because I was too excited to just drink it already).

Mar 4, 2014

Brown Butter Apple Bread

Libations used: 3 Tbs apple brandy
Libations left over: None, but make yourself an American's as American as this apple bread...
We're finally getting rain here in Southern California and it's been coming down with a vengeance. So on these rainy nights, I'm either making soup or baking bread.  Bread won out this week, and it was this recipe for Brown Butter Apple Bread from The Kitchn that won me over.  This is probably some of the moistest bread I've ever had and there are oodles of apples and pecans in it. You really can't go wrong when you see crème fraîche and apple brandy in a recipe for baked goods — and you do taste the brandy in this recipe.  I'm a fan of Laird's Applejack, but if you don't have any apple brandy in the house (I'll be sad for you), feel free to sub in regular brandy or bourbon.  For the apples, I used a combination of Granny Smith and Pink Lady.  Always do a mix of tart and sweet apples when you're baking, as it varies up the texture and the flavor.  In addition to the above varieties, The Kitchn also recommends Braeburn, Gala, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, McIntosh, and Honeycrisp.  I brought this bread to work the next day, and it was perfect paired with everyone's morning coffee, and a great way to kick off the week.  I can't wait to make this bread again with pears and other stone fruit too.

Brown Butter Apple Bread - makes 1 loaf
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 3 Tbs apple brandy (I used Laird's Applejack)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used 1 Granny Smith and 2 Pink Lady)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a large loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
- Place the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, and melt until it turns golden brown and takes on a nutty aroma (swirl the pan around to prevent it from burning).
- Set pan aside to cool slightly (you don't want scrambled eggs).
- In a large bowl, add the white and brown sugars, and eggs.
- Add the butter into the large bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Add the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, stirring until just combined.
- Add the crème fraîche, apple brandy, vanilla bean paste, apples, and pecans and carefully stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth out the top.
- Bake for one hour, and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before removing from the pan.