This will be of interest to members of the Writers Guild in Los Angeles. Sorry to all others.
Gino’s East is one of the more popular deep dish restaurants in Chicago. A few years ago, they opened a branch in Sherman Oaks, which is owned and operated by longtIme WGAW member Tod Himmel and SAG/AFTRA member Dan Michaels.
They sent an email today with a bunch of new specials, but then wrote (and the bold-face is all theirs) --
"We would not have been able to open our business if not for the wages, benefits, residuals and pensions we earned thanks to our guilds’ collective bargaining.
"We support our WGAW comrades in the fight for a living wage. Bring in your WGA/SAG card and receive 25% off any pizza during the work stoppage."
Well, good on them.
They're located at 12924 Riverside Drive,, Sherman Oaks. (818) 788-5050.
This is a link to their website. Their Facebook page here has more information about the restaurant.
Let's Do Lunch
On this week’s Naked Lunch podcast, hosts Phil Rosenthal and David Wild celebrate the first year of "Naked Lunch," with what they call – “An All-Star ‘Lunch’ For Foodies: One Year To Chew On!” As the show writes, Phil and David “look back and chew things over with legendary chefs including Roy Choi, Nancy Silverton and Wolfgang Puck and a overflowing buffet of celebrity foodies including Valerie Bertinelli, Kevin Bacon, Allison Janney, and Patton Oswalt, and many, many more.”
I can’t embed the audio, but if you click on the link here, it will take you to the website, where you just click on the “Play” arrow underneath the photo.
Let's Do Lunch
On this week’s Naked Lunch podcast, hosts Phil Rosenthal and David Wild’s guest today is renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. As the site notes, “Puck discusses overcoming his abusive stepfather, his singular success culinary story and his many interactions with legendary stars in Hollywood and around the world.”
I will add that, surprisingly, this is a thoroughly entertaining, often funny, periodically serious conversation about “leading a sustainable life, being of service to your community and always staying hungry professionally” – and much more. Just a very interesting tale. There is an excellent documentary about Puck on Disney+, and this is a terrific companion to that
Though I can’t embed the audio, if you click on the link here, it will take you to the website, where you just click on the “Play” arrow underneath the photo.
For Those Who Are a Bit Epicurious
And to complete our Food Day here at Elisberg Industries, here's the return of my article I inaugurated two years ago about cranberry sauce.
Since we're nearing Thanksgiving, I figured it was a good time to bring back my Thanksgiving-related piece from last year that starts with one of the fun "50 people try to make..." videos from Epicurious. It was perfect for a few reasons -- and one of those reasons mean, too, that this will be a bit different than the others we post here. This is for making cranberry sauce.
The main reason this is perfect is because making cranberry sauce seems to scare people off and instead they buy it from a can. Usually the one that's gelatin-style, which is a very unfair thing to do to a cranberry. And the thing is, making cranberry sauce is SO mind-numbingly easy -- I mean truly brain-dead easy, literally not much more difficult than opening a can, though it takes just a little more time -- and it is SO much better than canned that it's almost like eating a different food. Indeed, it tastes like the fruit it is. In fact, cranberry sauce is even easier to make than the professional Epicurious chef describes it at the end, since he says you should keep stirring it all the time, and I've never done that. I stir it a few times at the beginning and a couple times as it cooks, but I don't stand over the pot stirring.
Also, this was perfect because it allows me to present a recipe to show how easy it is. And it's perfect too since it lets me present my own twist on the easy recipe that is almost as easy, and (I believe) soooooooo much better. I love making cranberry sauce not only because it's so easy and people are impressed that "You actually made it?!", but also because the end result is so much better than people think it will be. And they don't realize how easy it was.
First, here's the video. It's a lot of fun, especially when knowing ahead how bizarrely and ridiculously easy it is -- and delicious.
Okay, first, here's how actually easy it is to make.
I package of washed cranberries
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
Yes, that's it. Pour the water and sugar in the pot, stir and bring the mixture to a slow simmer. Then, dump in the bag of cranberries, stir, cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
And that's all. Really. As I said, that truly isn't much more difficult than opening a can. And it's delicious, and tastes like a real fruit, because it is. You could probably eat it hot, but I refrigerate it until it's cool and gels on its own from the sugar.
But here's my recipe to make it even better. You can adapt the amounts according to your taste. You'll note that it uses apple -- I got that trick from my Grandma Rose. I'll explain more about that in a moment.
I package of cranberries
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of dry sherry
3/4 cup of sugar
1 apple, cut to cranberry-sized pieces. (I generally use Red Delicious)
You make the dish almost the same way. Bring the water, sherry and sugar to a slow simmer. (Let it boil to cook the alcohol out.) Mix in the bag of cranberries and the chopped up apples. Stir, cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
And that's it. Ideally, let it cool. And taste it -- if you feel that the apples didn't sweeten it enough for your taste, just mix in some more sugar until it's how you like it.
Why apple rather than orange peel and orange juice like many recipes suggest (including the Epicurious chef)? A few reasons. First, orange peel is bitter and orange juice is acidic, and since cranberries are bitter to begin with, I think the sweetness of apples are a better complimentary mix. Second, what Grandma Rose knew is that because apples are so sweet, you can use less sugar (which also brings the calories down). Third, she also knew that the blended flavor of apples and cranberry was especially delicious, almost like strawberry (or strawberry-rhubarb). And finally, the main reason Grandma Rose liked to use apples is because they have natural pectin, so it creates it's own "gel." So, way to go, Grandma Rose!
And to those concerned about the alcohol from the sherry, know that boiling the sherry cooks the alcohol out of it. But if you don't want the sherry, fine, leave it out and just use a cup of water. But I think it adds a rich flavor.
But that's how incredibly easy it is to make cranberry sauce. And to make it even better.
Food, Glorious Food
This is one of those times when I need a breather, so we’re going All Food today.
This morning I’m going to write about something that people who bake most surely know intimately. And even people who don’t bake likely will think, well, yes, of course that makes sense. But making sense and “Really?? That much difference??” are two different things. More to the point, this didn’t occur to me, and I’m sure I’m not totally alone.
To be clear, I don’t bake much. If I did, this wouldn’t be the topic of the day. I cook semi-okay, but I only really bake two things with any regularity – pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. You can probably pick up on the theme. Yes, I love pumpkin.
One constant in my various cooking adventures (and the eating end of things) is that I try to keep my fat intake down for health reasons. In fact, when I make my “pumpkin pie,” I just make the filling. Much as I love pie crust, it’s overwhelming in fat. So, I basically make a custard. It’s very good, and when made with non-fat evaporated milk, an entire pie is something like only 500 calories. (And when topped with non-fat whipped cream, it’s rich and delicious.) It’s thin, without the height you get when a crust is involved, but it’s the pumpkin part I love. So be it.
I’ve been making both these dishes for many years, probably 20-25 years. Another health change is that I use egg white Egg Beaters-type products. It’s fine, and the end results are still quite good.
Within the past year, though, I’ve started getting eggs on occasion after a very long time. (That was always another reason I used Egg Beaters in my baking – I didn’t eat eggs, so I just didn’t have them around, and most of the carton would go to waste.) But as much as I was absolutely fine with the flavor of Egg Beaters in my baked items, I wasn’t crazy about them scrambled. And of course, you can’t make fried eggs, which I do sort of, kind of like a little. So, I read up on eggs and saw that one or two eggs a week is perfectly fine, so I figured it was worth getting once in a while. Now, I have a couple eggs on the weekend, and maybe egg white dish during the week.
Which brings up to the baking part of our show.
Now that I had eggs around, I figured I’d use them in my pumpkin bread first. And it was revelatory. The pumpkin bread was far more moist and richer than it’s ever been. I brought a loaf over to my cousin and his wife – and they almost wolfed down half of it while I was there, and asked for the recipe. Hmm, I thought, I appear to be onto a good thing…
And then I made the pumpkin pie, with real eggs, not Egg Beaters.
O my heavens.
I could tell the moment I took the pies out of the oven that there was a different. They were as thick as any pumpkin pie I’d seen. It turns out that they weren’t thin in the past because there was no crust to support them and give them height – it was because they weren’t being made with actual eggs and the egg yolks that come with them. And rather than being a bit soft and crumbly, the filling with compact. I didn’t have to oh-so-caaaaarefully transfer a piece to my plate without some collapsing and having to reshape it. (Something I thought occurred because there was no crust underneath to support it.) Now, a bit, thick piece of pumpkin pie cuts and transfers with ease. And…tasty as the pie was before, the flavor now is rich and delicious.
It is no longer like eating tasty pumpkin pie filling – it’s like eating a piece of pumpkin pie. Yes, crust would be even better. But I don’t miss it. (And honestly, I usually don’t eat most of the crust when I get a piece of pie…)
By the way, for those who count such things (I really don't, just the fat), the calorie and fat content is still incredibly low. For this large slice (cut six pieces to a pie, not eight) -- with the whipped cream -- it's only around 200 calories and 1-1/2 grams of fat. For comparison's sake, a regular slice of pumpkin pie this size with crust and as much regular whipped cream would be about 600 calories and 30 grams of fat. And (for my taste) it's delicious. Is it as good as a standard piece of pumpkin pie? Hey, there's no crust, how could it be??! But everything other than the crust -- y'know, the whole pumpkin part of the pumpkin pie -- that's personal taste, but I truly don't think it would disappoint. And this is why I have a piece every night. But separate from the point here. I digress...
The point is the eggs. So, back to the matter at hand.
Yes, as I said, I know that all this about the eggs is “Well, duh” territory for bakers. And it's something that likely sounds obvious to many non-bakers. And even to me now. But – I didn’t think the difference would be this significant and even this noticeable. And it is. Noticeable even from the moment I took it out of the oven.
[UPDATE: In response to a question, I posted my recipe with tweaks below in the User Comments section.]
And that’s today “Well, duh” episode of Chef’s Corner.
Getting a Little Saucy
We’re going low-key and into the kitchen for this one. It’s a “food hack” that I came across the other day that sounded great (for my purposes), so I tried it – and it worked absolutely wonderfully, solving a problem I've dealt with for far too long.
I love pasta, and eat it 3-4 times a week. Though I do have a tomato sauce recipe I like, I tend to get jarred sauce because…well, it’s so much easier. And I've found a few that I like which are very low in fat, an important issue for me. The one downside of tomato sauce is that it can go bad semi-quickly. Not quickly, but if you don’t finish the jar in 2-3 weeks (and usually it’s closer to 3), you risk having to throw it out.
Because I have pasta so often, that’s not usually a problem. And it's probably not a problem for big families. However, it is a problem for me (and I'm sure for others) because sometimes I like a change of pace and want to make a lot of different sauces -- lemon-garlic-red pepper-anchovy is a big fave, but there are others. And so, usually I wait until a jar of tomato sauce is finished because I go off the beaten "tomato sauce path" for a while. That's fine, but I’d much prefer to mix-and-match throughout the week for more variety, not wait until a jar is finished.
Hence the “problem.”
One thing I do know is that tomato sauce freezes well. I make low-fat pizza every other week (“every other” because I eat half “fresh,” and freeze the rest for the next week) and get little jars of pizza sauce. And being little jars, the fit easily in the freezer. So, I just defrost it the night before Pizza-Making Day. But a tomato sauce jar takes up too much room in the freezer.
Which brings us to the hack.
It said to get silicon cupcake holders. Fill each one with tomato sauce. Freeze them. And then, being silicon, the frozen sauce pops out easily. And you can put the little hockey pucks in a freezer bag and simply defrost whatever portion you need.
It sounded good, so I tried it out. I bought a packet of 12 Amazon Basics cupcake holders for a little over $5. (If interested, you can get them here.)
Since portion size will be different to people’s needs, my own use won't matter for everyone, but I happen to use about 130 grams of tomato sauce for a meal (and yes, I do portion it out, in order to balance a full jar) -- and augment it with diced tomatoes and tomato paste to make it even richer, because I love a rich, thick tomato sauce, and additional spices for my taste. And as it happens, if you fill one of the cupcake holders near the brim, it holds around 65 grams. So, two holders works out (for me) to one portion. Perfect.
Since a jar of tomato sauce holds five portions (for me…) and because I did this on a day when I was making pasta that night, I had four portions left over in the jar That meant needing eight filled-cupcake holders to freeze.
I put them on a tray, carried them in the freezer, and the next day checked it out…
And as promised – they just simply popped out.
Lovely little, tomato sauce hockey pucks! I put them all in two quart-sized freezer bags. And now can have mix-and-match pasta all the time without being concerned about having to use the jar of tomato sauce up before it goes bad.
I defrost them overnight when planning my next-day's meal, though popping them in the microwave for a minute or so does the trick.
And so, the long-hold Great Tomato Sauce Problem has at last been solved!
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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