Wednesday, July 8, 2015

We are weird.


Picture of people taking pictures of food at food blogger event at Melissas Produce.We were attending a food blogger cookbook event at Melissa's Produce and Svetlana leaned over to me and whispered "We are weird." 
We were listening to Ernest's (Ernest Miller, fermentation specialist from Rancho La Merced Provisions) response to a question about dehydrating yogurt. The lively yogurt conversation had taken many interesting twists, leading up to the dehydrated yogurt subject and all the attendees were listening quite intently as Ernest explained the procedure. 
At first I thought Svetlana meant the idea of dehydrating yogurt was weird. But then I remembered her saying this same thing, "We are weird", when we were discussing Halal butchers in the South Bay. I then fully realized what she was saying - We must appear weird to those who don't have an obsession with food.  And I nodded in agreement, not wanting to respond verbally and interrupt Ernest's detailed description.
Svetlana is right, we are weird, certainly not normal, we are obsessed! In fact all the people who were in the room at that moment are obsessed with food and cooking, and cultural history and unique produce and food photography and food writing and recipes too! I was thrilled to be there, listening, learning and finding inspiration. I felt as if I had found my food tribe.
The quality of food discussion among the attendees at the Melissa's events has been amazing. The thoughtful and talented cookbook writers (Cheryl Sternman Rule and Amy Riolo) as well as Robert from Melissa's Produce kept the conversation moving around the globe, touching on history and cultures, natural resources, as well as centuries old techniques still being used today. How stimulating it is to be able to 'geek out' as much as we want and see where the questions and answers take us.  
Picture of Amy Riolo signing a cookbook.Finding your tribe allows you to share your passion with like minded individuals while at the same time being stimulated by the passions of these same people. 
It's interesting to think that when I'm my most alert and mentally energetic, I probably appear weird to most people.  
So, I'm weird, that's fine by me. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cheese Choices for your Macaroni and Cheese

Picture of QuesoBeso with large Swiss cheese
Cheese is my thing. I jumped into the cheese world in 2009 and haven't looked back. I've spent time sampling, selling, portioning, labeling, talking, writing and eating all types of domestic cheeses. I consider myself a domestic cheese evangelist. I work with local wine shops (as QuesoBeso) to help stock their coolers with only the very best cheeses. 

Recently a few of the ladies at Mom.me did a quick interview with me (at Camp Blogaway!) asking about my kid's favorite foods. My kids don't really have a true favorite as I rarely cook the same thing twice! But as a favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese is always at the top of our list. 
At it's most basic, macaroni and cheese is a comfort food. In it's most creative forms it becomes a decadent indulgence worthy of a special occasion. Doing a quick google search will give you over 8 million macaroni and cheese recipes! Rather than simply point you to a few recipes, I thought I'd help you choose your cheeses which will steer you towards the perfect recipe selection for you and your family. 

Picture of Cheeses at a farrmer's marketAll About the Cheese

The cheese is the most important choice you will make for this recipe. Do not make your decisions without careful consideraton. Balancing the cheese choices for taste and creaminess is ideal. 

Cheddared Cheese (yes, it's a verb)

I love a good cheddar cheese with a nice acidic bite. And cheddar is the classic choice for macaroni and cheese. However, the more the cheddar is aged, the less creamy and more crumbly the cheese will become. For these reasons, it is best to either pair an older cheddar with something more creamy (Havarti, Jack, Colby, Fontina, Ricotta) or use a cheddar aged less than two year (no need to seek out Hook's 5 year cheddar!).

Fondue Flavor 

Rich, creamy and winey, fondue cheeses make a delicious macaroni and cheese. Traditionally, Gruyere, Comte and Emmental are used in fondue. Add a little cherry brandy (Kirsch) and white wine to your cream sauce for a true fondue taste.  However, you need not go full-on fondue to enjoy the nutty flavor of these large Swiss cheeses.  Adding just one to your mix can give a bold punch to a basic cheddar mix.

Picture of Black TrufflesTruffles for an Elevated Approach 


Truffled cheese adds a heady sexiness to your mac & cheese. Many recipes use truffle oil as an easy way to impart truffle flavor. Most truffle oils have an over the top manufactured truffle flavor that is quite distinctively not the seductive subtle essence of the truffle. I believe in the power of true truffles as found in truffled cheeses. 
A few examples are: Tartufello (truffled cow milk cheese by Pedrozo Dairy in California), Boschetto al Tartufo (truffled sheep milk from Italy) or Trufusion (truffled cow milk cheese from Independence Cheese in Oregon).  It's best to pair truffled cheeses with milder selections, such as Fontina, Ricotta, Colby or a mild Cheddar.  This will help let the truffle flavor come through in the final dish.

Go for the Goat

For creative flair, macaroni and cheese made with fresh goat cheese is an excellent choice. Fresh goat cheese has a creaminess similar to ricotta but will definitely have a chevre bite which needs to be embraced. By adding ingredients which pair well with goat cheese (fresh bright herbs, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers or roasted garlic cloves) you will enhance the entire dish.
Goat cheeses with more age have a more mellow and nutty flavor similar to the fondue cheeses listed above.
For those with cow milk sensitivity, an entirely goat mac & cheese could be made creating a unique twist.

Blasphemy but Reheats Beautifully

Often you will find Velveeta listed in a mac & cheese recipe. Although it's not really cheese, I do understand the motivation to add this bright yellow cheese food product to the dish.  The reason is stability. When you make a cream sauce for your mac & cheese it will bake up creamy and lovely. But when you reheat that bechemel/mornay sauce the next day, it's going to break (the oils will separate from the milk solids) and lose it's creamy texture. Velveeta acts as an emulsifier and keeps the sauce together.
If you know you'd like to reheat the leftovers, you can use the Velveeta trick OR find a recipe that adds an egg to the sauce (like this one from the Pioneer Woman). Adding an egg creates a loose custard texture to the sauce. Custards are stable; meaning, they won't break when you reheat them.


Add Some Cheesy Crunch

A crunchy cheesy and sometimes even spicy crumb topping is perfect for baked mac & cheese. Be sure to choose a salty, tangy cheese (parmesan or aged cheddar) to mix with the crumbs for your topping. You want this crust to have lots of cheesy good flavor as it hits the palate.

More Than a Side Dish

As a mom, I am quite tempted to make macaroni and cheese into a one dish meal. And really, you can put just about anything savory into your macaroni and cheese. So if you are looking for some ideas on how to create an amazingly hearty dish,  no need to look further than this fabulous chart from Food Republic which uses the shape of the pasta for inspiration.  

Using your cheese choices as your guide, you are sure to create a warm and comforting dish your family will love!

Now let's get to the kitchen and start cooking!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Where to Look for Dinner Ideas


"What's for dinner?"


Everyday across America this simple question weighs heavily on the household cook. And as the day progresses the pressure mounts. We all want to eat well, but often we are out of ideas and don't want to think too much about something so... every day. So, where can we find dinner ideas without too much effort? Here are my go to places for inspiration. 

Picture of Asparagus at the Farmers Market, Dinner Ideas Seasonal
Eat Seasonally  Take a look at your calendar and give respect to Mother Nature's bounty. Need some help figuring out what's in season? Try using this Seasonal Food Guide, which uses your location to create a list of fruits and vegetables which are in season right now in your area of the country.

Take Requests 
This one is really a no brainer, but often overlooked. Most of us are cooking for more than ourselves. The easiest way to please our diners is to ask them what they'd like to eat! 
Take Advantage of the Situation
Picky eaters can effect your dinner choices. So, when they are away, use the opportunity to indulge in the foods they don't like. When your mushroom hating husband is out of town, why not have a mushroom feast? If you normally avoid spicy foods to appease your children's palates, wait for that sleep-over opportunity and get your chile on!

bright picture of grocery store sale mailersWhat's on Sale? or Use those Coupons!
Check out those colorful flyers your local grocer sends you and take advantage of some great prices. Coordinate with the seasonality guide and now you're making some really smart choices!

Food Media
Flip through a magazine and get some dinner ideas from the recipes. With today's technology there is no need to tear the page out, simply use your phone and take a picture of the recipe. Or browse through some food blogs during your lunch hour. Put your Pinterest playtime to good use and find an easy recipe that catches your eye. Or go old school, take out your favorite cookbook and find a favorite.  Even better, flip to a dog-eared page you have been meaning to try and this time, just do it!
Picture of ingredients from a pantry, Dinner Ideas Pantry ItemsLook in Your Pantry, Cupboard or Refrigerator
Find inspiration in the odd ingredients left lingering in your kitchen. Often we purchase a unique ingredient to make a specific dish. Give those stragglers new life! Google up a recipe which uses the ingredient and try something new!

You see, it's not so stressful.  Just use your noggin and keep cooking.

Enjoy!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Scene: hotel bar in Barcelona

I was waiting for my husband. He was at a conference and I was boondoggling in Barcelona.

Sitting at a bar. Sipping soda as it was a little too early for a glass of Cava. I began to absorb the modern feel of the crowded hotel. The hustle and bustle of business being done, connections being  made. As usual, I was more interested in the kitchen staff, the ebb and flow of the food workers, than I was in the conversations around me.
Somehow I had seated myself in a front row seat for the Jamon show. A full leg of Iberico pork, aged to perfection, is bound in a metal cage, captured tightly. One young man spends his day attacking the pork, one thin slice at a time. He doesn't speak, simply slices tiny bits off the leg, changing cutting tools to suit his needs.
He covers small plates with the meat. As each one is completed, it is quickly whisked away by a very busy waiter. The task seems endless. In this modern setting his task is basic, old fashioned and greatly appreciated.
My husband finds me and we leave.

Found this memory, scribbled on a piece of hotel WiFi instructions, from 2013.

Monday, February 2, 2015

How to Read a Recipe

  Reading is a basic skill we learn at an early age. We use it every day to navigate through our world, gain knowledge or be entertained. But reading a recipe in order to decide if you want to make a dish, is a different type of reading which is less casual and much more serious.
  A recipe is like an instruction manual for creating something, but these instructions don't come with any of the parts needed for building the item. So, we need to read recipes paying close attention to the ingredients needed, equipment required, and the steps to be performed before the cooking even begins. 

  In my opinion there are two types of recipes; those written for the professional (or very experienced) cook and those written for the novice. Recipes written for the professional assume you are familiar with and use the practice of 'mise en place'. In French, mise en place, means 'everything in its place'. In the kitchen what this means is, have all your ingredients and equipment out on the counter, ready to go, BEFORE you begin cooking. 
Picture of Cookbooks on a Shelf  The ingredient list of a recipe for the professional may include things like, 4 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced. It's obvious that this 'ingredient' requires a few time consuming tasks - boil a pot of water, blanche the tomatoes, put them in an ice bath, pull the skin off, cut them open, remove the seeds and finally, dice the tomatoes.  Using the mise en place method, all these tasks should be performed well before the dish is started. 
  Recipes for the novice will usually have all the required steps in the procedure section. Recipes like this assume that the cook will look at the procedure steps as the ONLY steps needed to make the dish. 
  This is why reading a recipe carefully is so important. Understanding everything about a recipe before you begin will set you on a path to becoming a very good cook.
  These are the steps I use when deciding whether to use a recipe. Step 1 is what I do as I browse through cookbooks, magazines, blogs or other recipe sources.  I only move on to Step 2 once I make a conscious evaluation using Step 1. 

Step 1. Read the recipe and evaluate. 
Do you have all the equipment needed? 
Can you compromise and use what you have on hand and still make a decent dish?
Are their ingredients you don't like, but that can be substituted?
Does the recipe require 2 days to marinate or 4 hours to chill in the refrigerator; time you don't have available? 
Still interested in the recipe? Continue to Step 2.

Step 2. Read the Ingredient list more carefully. 
Make a list of the ingredients which will need to be purchased. 
Make a second list of items which may be in your pantry. 
Check the pantry and move items from the second list to the first as needed.
Still interested in the recipe? Go shopping and continue to Step 3.

Step 3. Visualize and Create a Timeline. 
In your mind, picture yourself performing each step in the recipe. 
This will familiarize you with the dance you are about to perform, the steps needed, their order and duration. 
Jot down estimates for the duration of each step.
Pick a time you'd like the recipe to be completed and back track to create a timeline.
Plan your time accordingly, you will need some extra time for Step 4. 

Step 4. Mise en Place. 
Pull out all the ingredients for the recipe.
Prep all the ingredients as required by the recipe.
Professionals will put each ingredient in it's own container/bowl. This isn't necessary but it is visually impressive! 
Get out all the equipment you will need, including measuring spoons, cups, etc.
Pat yourself on the back, you've done all the preparations that will make this so much easier!

Step 5. Get cooking!
Use the timeline you created in Step 3 to figure out what time to start.
Follow the instructions step by step.
By now, you should be quite familiar with the procedure. 
With all of your ingredients ready to go, you can now pay close attention to the cooking process and not be distracted by prepping other ingredients. 
When you are finished, consider writing a few notes on the recipe that would help you the next time you want to make this dish.

Enjoy!  You did it!

Next up: What are the skills needed to cook multiple dishes and serve them all at the same time!







Friday, January 30, 2015

Review: The Izaka-ya by Katsu-Ya, Manhattan Beach

    Katsuya's Izakaya in Manhattan Beach opened its doors in 2010 and has been busy ever since! And yet the name of this place has me a bit confused.
   An Izakaya is defined as a bar which serves small dishes. But there are no sake bombs, or loud chugging of beer by drunken business men here. It is usually crowded and sometimes loud, but the high quality food, traditional Japanese decor and friendly staff create a warm, family-friendly atmosphere.


  Katsuya is the name of the founder of a small kingdom of Japanese restaurants. Katsuya's restaurants are known for giving fresh California inspired twists to traditional Japanese dishes. For example, Katsuya's version of yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, which delivers a spicy overtone to the light and delicate fish. 
The yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno
    So, it's not a bar, in fact the only bar in the place is a sushi bar! And it's named after a creative guy; who has no creativity in naming his restaurants. He has two other restaurants with the same name! This is in no way a reason to avoid what is certainly the best Japanese food I have found west of Gardena. 
    The sushi and sashimi are just the beginning of their creative menu.  For a great introduction to Katsuya's innovative dishes, try their Izaka-ya plate. Here you will see his creative mixture of taste, texture and color. Each of the dishes on this platter packs a real flavor punch and I have found it's a good idea to share the bounty of this plate (i.e. it doesn't make the best lunch choice, rather a great appetizer to share among friends). 
The Izaka-ya plate
  The food is delicious and of the highest quality, but can also be expensive. During a recent visit I noticed that the entire first page of the menu, the 'seasonal specials', had no pricing at all. It made me a little uncomfortable, but didn't stop my husband from ordering some Toro, no matter the price. I prefer to know what I'm getting myself into.  Subtly waving down a server to ask pricing questions would be quite uncomfortable if one were on a date.
   If you are on a budget consider their Saturday and Sunday afternoon Japanese Tapas menu which is available from 3-5pm. Tasty bites range from $2 to $6 with specials on beer and wine as well. 
    As I mentioned, this place is popular and can get quite crowded.  Call ahead and make a reservation or be prepared to wait in the tiny screened off space by the front door, remember, no bar!

These are our favorite dishes at The Izakaya by Katsu-Ya: 

  • Salmon Skin Salad
  • All of the high quality Sushi and Sashimi
  • Crispy rice with spicy tuna
  • Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeƱo 
  • Grilled yellowtail collar (rarely seen on menus!)
Uni Sashimi - very generous portion!

Things on my list to try on my next visit:

  • Halibut Carpaccio w/Granny Apple
  • Seafood Ceviche (Japanese ceviche?)
  • Halibut Cheek kara-age (Southern fried fish cheeks?)
  • Okinawa Style Spare Rib

Have you eaten at the Izakaya by Katsu-Ya in Manhattan Beach?  
What are your favorite dishes? Really, I want to know! :)

A Few Words About Reviews

Before I start posting my opinions, let's get a few things straight.
Everyone eats. We have to. Each of us has our own unique palate. What some consider their favorite foods may be other's least favorite.  
So how is it that we trust other's opinions about restaurants? Are reviews really a useful tool for discovering a great place to eat?
I'm not going to attempt to answer these questions.  What I am going to do is attempt to write reviews designed to open up discussion about a particular restaurant. 
Also, let me be honest here; I'm not compensated in any way for my food writing.  I don't solicit invitations to restaurants hoping to get free food and offering them free publicity.  Without a corporate budget to support my dining habits, I find it difficult (or impossible) to eat through an entire menu before I make an opinion on a restaurant. 
I'm a social eater.  I like to go out and eat.  I like good food. I like good service. I like restaurants to be clean and have a comfortable atmosphere. 
I also love to hear from others about their experiences. What is YOUR opinion? Really, I want to know!
So, please, comment - tell me what YOU think! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Black Garlic Adventures

     I'm a fearless cook and I like a challenge. A few years ago I saw black garlic being sampled at the Fancy Foods Show. It was a magical ingredient that I had never seen before. The cloves were completely black, chewy and fruity with no garlic heat or pungency, at all. The ingredients on the container said only garlic! How can this be?
     I was curious about the pricing for this ingredient.  It was expensive, which was interesting since it was only garlic, right? Rather than find a source to purchase some, I decided to find out how to make it. I did some research and found that it's a bit tricky to make; a bit of a hit or miss whether you will get good results. This worried me. But I remained curious.
   Black Garlic originally comes from Korea where it has been used for hundreds of years.  There, it is aged like kimchi, in containers which are buried under the ground - using the heat of the earth to do the magic transformation.
    I'm quite lucky to have a friend who grows beautiful organic garlic on her farm in Oregon. This past summer, she sold me two large braids at a very good price. With so much garlic on hand, I decided it was time to dive into a black garlic adventure!
   I rigged up a Coleman hot/cold box, with my oven probe thermometer so I could check the temperature inside. I put 15 heads of garlic in a rubbermaid container and sealed it up and put it inside. Then, I did nothing. The hot box kept the temperature around 143F, which is just hot enough to kill bacteria and allows the garlic to transform. I checked on it at 4 weeks, but it was brown, not black. I waited two more weeks and there it was; BLACK GARLIC! 
     Last week I was reading my Saveur Magazine for January 2015, which features 100 cool ideas and items. One of the ingredients highlighted was something called Black Crack. Say what? It turns out a clever guy in New Jersey not only makes black garlic, he then dries it out and sells it in a grinder as a spice!  To me, this seemed almost like a personal challenge. Can I do THAT?  Sure, I can do THAT!

So, last weekend my oven was set at  200F for over 72 hours; delicately drying out one of my precious black garlic heads into a homemade version of Black Crack. It's now done and the results are... I'm not sure because I haven't tried the original product!  He wants $24.99 for 2 ounces! 
     We have put a few cloves of the dried black garlic into a nutmeg grinder and used it to create delicate little shavings as seasoning. It has a smokey flavor over the black garlic fruity richness, unlike any other spice.

Our first use of the homemade black crack was as a seasoning for a chicken dish.  I found a recipe on the Black Garlic Love website. Black Garlic Love has lots of tips and recipes for using this ingredient including a  recipe for one pot chicken with black garlic. I have updated the recipe to my taste, adding a few ingredients and French technique. The results are... Delicious!

Get the recipe hereEnjoy! 



Recipe: Creamy Pan Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms over Fettucini

Creamy Pan Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms over Fettucini
Serves 6
Ingredients: 
    Picture of Chicken Breast over Linguini
  • One 4-6 pound whole chicken cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 red, orange or yellow pepper, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms sliced thickly
  • 3-5 cloves minced black garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound fettucini noodles
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche 
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, divided
  • Black Crack, salt and freshly ground black pepper
Procedure


Preheat oven to 375F. Season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper.
Heat a large oven proof pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil.  Brown the chicken a few pieces at a time; about 3-5 minutes per side. Set the pieces aside in a large bowl to collect any juices as you finish the remainder of the chicken pieces.
Turn heat down to medium. Add the onion, pepper and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until quite tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the black garlic and the white wine. Bring to a boil and let the liquid reduce by 1/2. Stir in chicken broth, thyme, and bay leaves. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Return chicken pieces to the pan skin side up, pour in any juices which have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.
Place the pan into the hot oven and roast until completely cooked; about 30-40 minutes. A knife should easily penetrate the chicken thighs. 
While the chicken cooks, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. When the water boils add a hand full of sea salt. When the chicken has been in the oven for over 25 minutes, add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pan, off the heat. 
Remove the pan from the oven. Take the chicken pieces from the sauce and put on a serving platter.  Stir in the cream cheese, creme fraiche and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. 
Pour the sauce into the pan with the fettucini and combine gently. 
Serve the pasta with chicken pieces on top.  Shave black crack over each plate and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. 
Enjoy!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fig Jam - The Delicious Glue

   Friendship is a good thing. The best of friends are those who can expose you to wondrous things you never thought possible. And when those things are related to food they can create delicious memories.
   Lars and Lena are friends of this caliber. They helped trace my Swedish heritage and exposed me to a culture which runs through my veins. In addition they opened my palate to phenomenal, culinary adventures.
   One of the most unique of these tasteful discoveries is the combination of blue cheese and ginger cookies. This is a classic Swedish pairing usually enjoyed at Christmas time when there are plenty of delicate little ginger snaps in every household.
Much has been written about this odd duo, including a discussion on Reddit about choosing the perfect blue cheese partner. 
   During their most recent visit, Lars and Lena brought a few jars of fig jam. 
   I had recently portioned out a wheel of a Echo Mountain Blue made by Rogue Creamery in Oregon. Lena put two and two together real quick and firmly requested a Ginger Snap, Blue Cheese and Fig Jam dessert.
   Years ago Lena and I made Swedish ginger cookies during the Christmas season. This was before we both had children running around our households; taking up our time. The process of making delicate Swedish ginger cookies is quite laborious. It also requires some skill to roll them out thin enough for a Swedish cook's liking, yet thick enough to pry off the cutting board and transfer to a baking sheet without them breaking. 
   This year we decided store bought was a fine idea. And so it went, Oregon Blue Cheese, a box of American Ginger Snaps and Swedish Fig Jam devoured by our two families one evening during their visit.
   A schemer of fig jam is the glue which holds the two together; bridging the flavor gap between the sweet and savory. Just as shared memories tie our two families, no matter the distance. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Culinary Vixen's New Vision

Look for new things up here at Culinary Vixen.  Its time to revamp the blog, give it new life and find my food voice again. I have a few themes up my sleeve; ready to be pulled out, dusted off and unfolded to share with the world. Here's a preview of some of the topics I'll be concentrating on in the future:

  • Recipes from cooking school
    • Sharing recipes I've kept for over 20 years.  There's a reason I still have these! 
  • Exploring Culture - One recipe at a time
    • I love ALL cuisines and exploring flavors from around the world keeps me excited about food. I will post amazing recipes from around the globe, to inspire your palate!
  • Can we pickle it?
    • In 2014 I became part of a kickstarter campaign called Kraut Source, an ingenious device (I hope, haven't received it yet. If you want details go to their kickstarter page for more information.). I plan on using these things to pickle any veggie I get my hands on. Small batch is where it's at!  Can't wait to dive into the healthy bacteria world! 
  • We want cheese please!
    • If you know me, you know I'm a cheese freak. QuesoBeso is slowly dying as the cheese world in the South Bay is being inundated by Murray's of New York via Kroger/Ralphs grocery stores. But fear not, I will still bring you awesome cheese selections, information and pairings. 
  • I ate it - Here!
    • Living in the South Bay of Los Angeles county we have an amazing choice of restaurants to choose from.  I enjoy eating out with my family and doing quick reviews to help others sort through it all and find the gems. Look here for lists of regional favorites - El Segundo, Hermosa, Redondo, Manhattan, Gardena and Torrance; just to get us started. 
  • What do you do with this?
    • Gadgets can be fun; let's explore them!
  • MY food network
    • I've been cooking, hard core cooking, for about 20 years. I have met many very interesting food people along the way.  Some of them I don't even remember how I met. I want to use Culinary Vixen to reconnect with my food family and share their particular knowledge with my readers.
Well, that's the gist of it.  New ideas and a brand new start for 2015.  I'm excited to get started.  If I can only figure out how (really, remember how) to get this thing formatted beautifully.

Thanks for your patience! :)

Vickie - Culinary Vixen