Daily Dish
The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles
Thanksgiving recipe and tips: Pumpkin-thyme dinner rolls

This recipe is a reminder that a well-made roll is something special. Crisp on the outside but tender at the center, and terrific enough to have been named one of our best recipes of the year in 2002. They adapt easily to even the most crowded holiday schedule. Make the dough the day before and give it a long, slow rise in the refrigerator, then bake when the oven is free before dinner.

New to using yeast? Never worked with a yeast-risen dough before? Yeast-risen breads typically call for setting the dough aside for a little while to give the dough time to rise, or proof, until doubled in size.

Next time you're making bread, try this simple trick for keeping track of the proof: After covering the dough with plastic wrap, mark an outline of the unproofed dough with a marker. That way you can easily gauge how -- and how much -- the dough is proofing. Check out this video for a quick demonstration.

Craving more? Check out our handy holiday recipes and cooking tips page to help you with...

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Sweet potatoes versus yams, with 12 recipes

Sweet potatoes or yams? Trick question. Despite what millions of Americans (and many groceries) may call them, those dark orange, moist root vegetables that you roast in sugar syrup and top with marshmallows are not yams, just another type of sweet potato.

True yams in the United States are few and far between, unless you’re shopping in a particularly well-stocked African or Latin American market. And if you want to get even more nerdy, sweet potatoes aren't really potatoes. True potatoes are tubers; sweet potatoes are roots (tubers are enlarged underground stems -- they sprout leaves; roots store nutrients for the plant -- they only sprout more roots).

Plant geekery aside, there are hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes, but for the sake of cooking, we can pretty much divide them into two groups: the pale, dry-fleshed, somewhat nutty types we call sweet potatoes and the dark, moist-fleshed, more brown-sugary types we often call yams.

In addition to slight variations in flavor, the...

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Yuck. Teens use #ThanksMichelleObama to Tweet pics of their nasty school lunches
Thanksgiving video tips: Homemade pie tips and 52 recipes

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without the pie. Whether you prefer pumpkin or pecan -- or perhaps apple, lemon meringue or even mincemeat -- pie of some sort is the classic way to end this ritual holiday meal.

And while you can find a number of great store-bought pies, there's nothing like homemade. I've compiled a list of 52 of our favorite L.A. Times pie recipes for the holidays. And I also want to offer some baking tips to help you out, covering everything from making the crust, to decorating the border, to filling the pie. Whether this is your first pie or your 500th, there's always something new to learn to make the process easier and more fun.

Want to make that beautiful pumpkin pie at the top of this post? I demonstrate the pie in the video here.

Craving more? Check out our handy holiday recipes and cooking tips page to help you out with your Thanksgiving planning. Not only do we cover familiar holiday dishes, we share tips and tricks to save you time and energy during this...

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10 great Italian restaurants

Los Angeles has never been rich in the sort of red-sauce Italian restaurants so common on the other coast, but it has always been notable for the other kind: restaurants in which Italian cooking and the idea of fine dining were not incompatible. It could be argued that the culture of New York’s expense-account Italian kitchens began with Romeo Salta’s Chianti here in the 1930s, that Perino’s led the way for luxury Italian style in the 1960s and that Rex and Valentino established U.S. alta cucina in the 1970s. And the cultural tradition has never faltered: These days, in some parts of town, you’re never more than a few blocks from a temperature-controlled pasta lab or a plate of wood-roasted pigeon Here are 10 of the greats.

Alimento -- This new Italian restaurant from Zach Pollack in just a few months has established itself as one of the better small Italian restaurants in Los Angeles, a place so fantastically popular that the valet station occasionally backs up Silver Lake Boulevard...

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How to make Hello Kitty Spam musubi (rice snacks)

If there's a Hello Kitty fan on your holiday gift list this year, we've got you covered. If he or she also happens to be a Spam fan, you're well on your way to becoming best friend of the year.

All you'll need is the Hello Kitty Spam musubi (or shaped and decorated rice snacks) kit. Yes, it's a kitty mold that will turn Spam musubi into a Hello Kitty head and body in no time. 

The kit, which was a limited edition release from the Spam brand, comes with two 12-ounce cans of Spam, the "less sodium" variety, and a Hello Kitty rice mold. The kits are available from a few eBay sellers, or you can make your own with a couple cans of Spam, and these Hello Kitty rice molds on Amazon. 

To make the Hello Kitty Spam musubi, just fill the kitty head mold with rice, then attach the head to a piece of traditional Spam musubi.

According to the Hello Kitty Spam musubi workshop at the recent Hello Kitty Convention in Los Angeles, you use small strips of nori to make whiskers and eyes, a small piece of...

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