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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Aug 14, 2014

Bourbon Peach Smash

When stone fruit is in season, I take full advantage of it by buying as many fresh peaches at the farmers' market that I can eat in a week.  I simply can't get enough of summer's sweet nectar, and of course, I can't resist adding peaches to cocktails.  This Bourbon Peach Smash from The Kitchn is a riff on barman Dale DeGroff's version from The Craft of the Cocktail, and it's simple, fresh, and a perfect libation to sip for dessert or during a hot summer night on the patio.  Just muddle in some fresh peach slices, a wedge of lemon, mint leaves, and add your favorite bourbon or whiskey—I opted for the yummy and smooth Four Roses Single Barrel.

Bourbon Peach Smash
  • 1/2 peach, cut into slices, plus a thin slice for a garnish
  • 4 fresh mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 oz water 
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz bourbon (I used Four Roses Single Barrel)
- In a mixing glass, muddle all of the ingredients, except for the bourbon
- Add the bourbon and ice, and shake.
- Strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass.
- Garnish with a mint sprig and peach slice.

Aug 12, 2014

Linguine and Clams with Almond and Herbs

Libations used: 1/4 cup white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with can't go wrong with clams and white wine...
Summers call for quick-cooking dinners, because who wants to heat up the kitchen during this time of year?  I was absolutely craving pasta, but still wanted something on the relatively light side.  This Linguine and Clams recipe from Bon Appétit doesn't use any butter or cheese, and instead packs all the flavor with a crunchy almond and herb topping – it's almost like a rough pesto, with plenty of chives and parsley and a little olive oil mixed in.  The clams are cooked in a white wine broth (I opted for a Sauvignon Blanc) with some garlic and red pepper flakes, and the sauce comes together with a little reserved pasta water.  I'm definitely going to use the almond and herb mixture to stir into another pasta or top on some whitefish.  

Linguine and Clams with Almonds and Herbs - serves 4
  • 1/2 cup unsalted and roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbs finely chopped chives
  • 2 Tbs finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs, plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Oyster Bay's Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 pounds clams, scrubbed (Littleneck or Manila)
  • 12 oz linguine
- In a small bowl, mix the almonds, chives, and parsley with 1 Tbs of the olive oil, and season with some salt and pepper.
- In a large pot over medium heat, add the 1/4 cup olive oil.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, for about 2 minutes.
- Add the wine and bring to a boil, cooking for about 2 minutes, or until reduced to about half.
- Add the clams and bring up the heat to medium-high and cover.
- Cook the clams for about 5-8 minutes, or until they've opened up (be sure to discard any that haven't).
- Meanwhile, cook up that pasta al dente and be sure to reserve about a cup of the pasta water before you drain.
- Once the clams and pasta are all cooked, add the pasta to the pot of clams, along with at least 1/2 cup of pasta water.
- Cook and toss that whole mixture for a couple of minutes until the pasta is nicely coated. Feel free to add a little more pasta water if the mixture is on the dry side.
- Season with more salt and pepper, and serve the pasta topped with the almond and herb mixture.

Aug 7, 2014

Los Gintonic

I'm definitely a whiskey gal, but come summertime, I crave gin and tonics.  With the recent opening of The Chestnut Club in Santa Monica and their menu of gin and tonics, I've been inspired to experiment a little at home.  The June/July issue of Saveur also had a whole slew of gin and tonic recipes, and this Spanish-inspired "Los Gintonic" caught my eye.  I always have plenty of Fever Tree's Bitter Lemon tonic in the fridge and this recipe happened to call for that, along with dry vermouth and a little lemon zest.  I especially love the crushed ice, which makes it feel truly summery.  Simple, refreshing, and potent — just what a gin and tonic should be.  I'll be making these all season long...

Los Gintonic
  • 1 1/2 oz gin (I used St. George Botanivore Gin)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth (I used Dolin's)
  • 3 oz Fever Tree's Bitter Lemon tonic water
  • Strip of lemon zest
- In a shaker filled with ice, add the gin and dry vermouth.
- Shake, shake, shake and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.
- Top with the bitter lemon tonic and garnish with a lemon peel.

Aug 5, 2014

Striped Bass with Tomatoes, Corn & Basil

Libations used: 1/2 cup white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner...
This past Sunday, the summer rain was falling, so it was a perfect night to cook.  I knew when I headed over to the Farmers' Market in the morning that I was going to pick up some fresh corn, those little Sun Gold tomatoes that taste like summer in a bite, and basil – all the flavors of the season.  I had no idea what I was going to make, but how could one go wrong with these three ingredients?  I ended up finding a Martha Stewart recipe for Striped Bass with a corn, tomato, onion, and jalapeño relish cooked in a white wine sauce, with chopped cilantro and basil stirred in.  I picked up a whole Striped Bass at Santa Monica Seafood and had them fillet it for me (I really need to learn how to do this on my own, but hey, they at least give you the bones to make stock!). For the wine, use a dry white.  I used Fess Parker's Parker Family Reserve, a white blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. This is a great lazy Sunday or weeknight dish that comes together quickly.  The fish is pan-seared for a few minutes and then finished off over the relish as the vegetables cook.  It may have been raining, but I felt like the sun was shining as I devoured this.

Striped Bass with Tomatoes, Corn & Basil - serves 4
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 Striped Bass fillets, skin on (about 5 oz each)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño or Serrano pepper, with ribs and seeds removed, and thinly sliced (I actually used a whole jalapeño)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Fess Parker's Parker Family Reserve)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 ears of corn, husks and silk removed, and kernels scraped off
  • 1 heaping cup of cherry tomatoes quartered or Sun Gold tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil (it should be shimmering and smoking).
- Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place the fish in the skillet, skin side down, and cook for about 4 minutes (less if it's a thinner cut).
- Turn fish over and cook for another minute (it shouldn't be cooked through).
- Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, stirring and cooking until tender and browned for about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the corn, tomatoes, jalapeño or Serrano into the skillet.
- Add the wine and water and place the fish on top of the mixture.
- Cover and cook for about 4 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through.
- Transfer the cooked fish, skin side up, to shallow bowls or plates.
- Stir the basil and cilantro into the veggie mixture and spoon around the fish.