2007-07-19 13:02:20.0 Administrator2: Hi and welcome to the chat! Feel free to submit your questions for Russ Parsons!
2007-07-19 13:03:00.0 Peaches: I can't cook
2007-07-19 13:03:02.0 Peaches: I need something quick and easy to fix for a late supper any idea's?
2007-07-19 13:04:01.0 Russ Parsons: How about picking up a roast chicken and some romaine lettuce at the grocery. Pull some of the meat off the chicken, chop the romaine, and then toss them together with some dressing. How's that sound?
2007-07-19 13:04:11.0 jacek: hi
2007-07-19 13:04:12.0 jacek: whats in season today?
2007-07-19 13:05:19.0 Russ Parsons: This is a really sweet time of year for produce. The tomatoes are really starting to get good. There's a lot of zucchini and eggplant and peppers in the markets. Fruit wise, peaches, plums, nectarines. Melons are really starting to get sweet. If youcan't find something to eat now, heaven help you!
2007-07-19 13:05:29.0 Peaches: Sounds good,We have a Publix's right down the street....I am in Georgia
2007-07-19 13:06:36.0 Russ Parsons: There are a lot of prepared foods in the grocery these days and that makes it easy. Also, don't overlook good quality canned foods. One of my fallback dishes is a salad of white beans (canned) and tuna (canned), dressed with just a little good olive oiland some lemon juice.
2007-07-19 13:07:00.0 Administrator2: Do you have any tips for preparing butternut squash?
2007-07-19 13:08:15.0 Russ Parsons: Butternut is a really good winter squash. The best way to prepare it is to split it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, put it in a baking pan, cut-side down with a lttle water, then roast at 400 degrees until it's soft. You can scoop the meat out and use it all kinds of ways. I like to use it as afilling for ravioli.
2007-07-19 13:08:40.0 Administrator2: So would eating butternut squash now be akin to wearing white after Labor Day?
2007-07-19 13:08:49.0 Peaches: Can you give me a few more idea's for the rest of the week?
2007-07-19 13:09:35.0 Russ Parsons: eating winter squash now ... well, let's just say you're not in the peak of season. Most of them won't be harvested until September/October, so it's squash that's been sitting out for most of a year.
2007-07-19 13:10:24.0 Russ Parsons: Hmm, peaches, without knowing what your taste is, that's a little hard. But think about salads with prepared meats or canned beans. Think about pastas with a little bit of butter and some good cheese. There are lots of things you can do with eggs.
2007-07-19 13:10:47.0 Administrator2: I'll be dreaming about the butternut ravioli for months, then. What are some other good ravioli fillings?
2007-07-19 13:11:51.0 Russ Parsons: Boy, there are more ravioli fillings than you can name. any kind of cooked meat can be chopped up and mixed with some ricotta. Also cooked vegetables. I like to use cooked greens, like kale, then mix it with some ricotta and parmigiano and then maybe an egg to hold it all together.
2007-07-19 13:12:06.0 Listener1: Hello. What are your favorite farmer's markets in LA County? Santa Monica Wed, Hollywood Sun, Torrance Sat would be on the short list I think.
2007-07-19 13:13:18.0 Russ Parsons: Oh absolutely. I particularly like the Torrance Saturday market because it's close to my house and because it doesn't get nearly the attention that the others do. I also really like the Pasadena Victory Park market. But even some little markets have amazing stuff. The Sunday Alhambra market has one of the best assortments of Asian fruits and vegetables I've ever seen.
2007-07-19 13:13:29.0 Peaches: My husband love's to eat...He likes meat and 3 side dishes..Good southern cooking...I am in big trouble here...
2007-07-19 13:14:37.0 Russ Parsons: peaches, honey, you're just going to have to break down and learn how to cook. it's really not that hard. don't bother starting with really complicated stuff. start simple and learn as you go along. get a good basic cookbook like Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything", or an old edition of "Joy of Cooking." You can do this. and it's fun.
2007-07-19 13:14:50.0 Listener1: How about farmer's markets in Ventura or Orance counties? Sunday Alhambra sounds worth a look, thanks.
2007-07-19 13:16:14.0 Russ Parsons: Ventura Saturday (downtown) is a really special market. I really love that one. Sunday Ojai is nice, too. In OC, the best market I found was the Irvine on Saturday. Also, my home market is the Sunday Long Beach (in the marina). Great stuff, great view.
2007-07-19 13:16:27.0 Administrator2: Russ, a few questions our readers submitted via email now...
2007-07-19 13:16:32.0 Administrator2: Where do you buy spices and dried herbs? I only recently discovered Penzey's and I really like them, but Torrance is a bit of a haul for me.
2007-07-19 13:17:48.0 Russ Parsons: Penzey's is the best choice for most things. They alsos have a website and mail order (until recently, that's all they had). For spices, you can also find interesting things at Indian markets. Dried herbs are a little tougher. One thing you'll notice when you start buying from them is that the prices are SO much lower. supermarkets really take an unconscionable markup on those little jars of dried spices.
2007-07-19 13:17:59.0 Administrator2: I want to buy dulce de leche from an Argentinian or other South American grocer. Do you have any recommendations?
2007-07-19 13:18:34.0 Russ Parsons: My default Latin grocery has always been Liborio. There are several of them around. But I don't have a specific brand that I recommend.
2007-07-19 13:18:40.0 Listener1: Any inexpensive restuarants or greasy spoons in the South Bay or Long Beach area that you recommend?
2007-07-19 13:19:40.0 Russ Parsons: Oh, that's what we do best! In Long Beach, I go to Bake 'n' Broil a lot, Baja Sonora and Teri House. In the South Bay, I usually go to Japanese places like Shin Sen Gumi. Also, the food court at the Torrance Mitsuwa market is terrific.
2007-07-19 13:20:24.0 Administrator2: What are some of your favorite "comfort foods", and do you have advice on preparing them?
2007-07-19 13:21:37.0 Russ Parsons: Hmmm, comfort food is a tough one for me. Because of my job, I spend a lot of time developing new recipes, rather than going back and cooking old ones. I think my wife's answer would probably be a homemade pizza with caramelized onions and goat cheese. Mine is probably good dried pasta with butter and good parmigiano.
2007-07-19 13:21:53.0 victor: What type of healthy food can you recommend using only the microwave?
2007-07-19 13:22:44.0 Russ Parsons: I'm afraid you've got me there Victor. I just got my first microwave a couple of months ago, but I only use it for re-heating. No snob thing, but I was really lacking in counterspace. It was either a microwave or an espresso machine. You can guess which won.
2007-07-19 13:23:27.0 whiteycox: Speaking of homemade pizza...do you have any recommendations for dough? I know trader joe's sells a premade dough...and while you're at it, have you had any experience doing pizzas in a weber?
2007-07-19 13:24:44.0 Russ Parsons: I use the TJ premade dough. Works fine. I've done pizzas on the grill a couple of ways--one using a stone, the other putting it right on the rack--ala Al Forno restaurant. But I have to confess that I haven't gone back to trying them again.
2007-07-19 13:24:53.0 Barbara Patnode: Last winter in your Farmer Market section you wrote about Cavallo Nero.Is that the same as Lacinato Kale?
2007-07-19 13:25:45.0 Russ Parsons: yes, cavallo nero is lacinato. it's also called black kale and dinosaur kale, for some reason. It's one of thebest cooking greens around. The texture comes up really creamy when you braise it. and it's got a great flavor.
2007-07-19 13:26:00.0 Peaches: We just got a Trader Joe the first in Georgia...What should I be looking for that's real tasty from there
2007-07-19 13:27:51.0 Russ Parsons: Trader Joe's is one of the great Southern California institutions. From what I understand, their produce outside of California is often wanting, so stay away from that. They always have good nuts and dried fruits. Their Santini olive oil is a very good cooking oil at a very good price. Their cheeses are servicable. Not gourmet quality, but perfectly fine for cooking. I also always have a jar of their Dijon mustard in my cabinet and a jar of their capers and their cornichons. how about some of therest of you? any TJ favorites?
2007-07-19 13:28:00.0 victor: What type of "summer" food can you recommend that is very quick to prepare. Keep in mind that it would be for one person only. I am trying to eat healthier, but cooking is too time-consuming.
2007-07-19 13:28:46.0 Russ Parsons: When the vegetables are as good as they are now, that's what I'd go for. Just cook some zucchini along with some tomatoes. It'll be done in 10 minutes and it'll be delicious.
2007-07-19 13:28:52.0 Listener1: Russ, any inexpensive wine recommendations? Red, white, rose, whatever. btw, I like those Australian screw caps, how about you?
2007-07-19 13:30:20.0 Russ Parsons: I do like the screwcaps, too. Personally, I'm at the point in my wine buying where I prefer to buy from people I know--not for safety or anything, but that way I think of them when I'm drinking. It's more personal. I always order wine from Navarro. And I buy a lot of wine from Sinskey Vineyards. For everyday wine, I've always had good luck with the Big House label Randal Graham used to run out of Bonny Doon.
2007-07-19 13:30:28.0 Gladys: When TJs opened in NYC the NYTimes did an article on them. What surprised me was one of the best sellers aside from the 2 buck Chuck is the Mandarin Orange Chicken. consumer Reports just rated their chunky chocolate chip cookies as number one.
2007-07-19 13:30:34.0 Gladys: My favorite TJs products are the basic ones:the fresh slasa, the milk, the eggs, the cream the non-fat yougurt and the breads.
2007-07-19 13:31:04.0 Listener1: TJ favorites include: canned red salmon, inexpensive Reislings, cage free eggs, Ezekial bread $2.19, walnut halves and pieces, figs, organic bagged romaine and spinach.
2007-07-19 13:31:06.0 Russ Parsons: Oh that reminds me--Strauss Family Dairy yogurt! i eat it every morning.
2007-07-19 13:31:19.0 Barbara Patnode: Thank you. In the article you mentioned that you cooked it with some olive oil and garlic. I could be wrong . Do you remember your suggestion?
2007-07-19 13:31:58.0 Russ Parsons: That certainly sounds like a good way to cook cavalo nero! maybe some lemon zest or juice at the end? it's also good if you brown some pancetta in the pan first.
2007-07-19 13:32:01.0 victor: Does pesto sauce take long to prepare? Do you know or can you refer me to a good recipe?
2007-07-19 13:33:18.0 Russ Parsons: i can't really give out recipes because of time. I do know there's a fail-safe pesto in Marcella Hazan's book. I do think that's one of those dishes that seems a lot simpler than it is. the balance of ingredients has to be right. I think back to some of the pestos I made when i started cooking and, well, they're a lot better now!
2007-07-19 13:33:35.0 Listener1: TJ's CoQ10 is very reasonably priced, as are most of their supplements, including milk thistle. TJ organic tomato paste can't be beat.
2007-07-19 13:34:14.0 Administrator2: Here's another question submitted by email, Russ: I really want to get into the habit of making my own bread. Is supermarket yeast just as good as the French import that Williams-Sonoma sells?
2007-07-19 13:35:24.0 Russ Parsons: different yeasts have different properties, but the differences are subtle (except for the difference between rapid-acting and normal). my advice would be to start with the supermarket brand and then once you decide you love baking bread, experiment with some of the fancier ones. there's nothing like spending a lot of money early in a hobby to kill your interest.
2007-07-19 13:35:41.0 Peaches: Thank y'all I will be gong to TJ tomorrow...I know they have single package's of Fish That is real good and you can microwave them....
2007-07-19 13:36:14.0 Russ Parsons: they also have very good frozen shrimp, the jumbo in-shell. really, really convenient and a very clean flavor.
2007-07-19 13:36:40.0 Administrator2: What are some of your favorite soups?
2007-07-19 13:38:39.0 Russ Parsons: I make a lot of lentil and bean soups during the winter. And I like gazpacho in the summer--the real Spanish one, add some stale bread you've soaked to the blender. The result is really creamy and still fresh tasting. lately i've been testing recipes for soup au pistou for an upcoming story: cut up a bunch of summer vegetables. Cover them with about an inch of water. Bring to a boil. After they're quite tender, add a handful of macaroni. When the macaroni is done, serve the soup and stir in some pesto at the very end. Very simple, but very nice complex vegetable flavors.
2007-07-19 13:39:02.0 Gladys: Last live chat you suggested eating mackerel. That is one fish I can't imagine embracing. Maybe because of a dark experience in my childhood with canned mackerel.
2007-07-19 13:40:13.0 Russ Parsons: i've eaten it three times this week (i'm also working on a story on fish on the grill). canned mackerel and fresh have about the same relation as canned tuna and fresh. they're very, very different things. mackerel--when it's fresh--is a very rich flavor.
2007-07-19 13:41:15.0 Administrator2: What's a good, easy appetizer to make when hosting a dinner party?
2007-07-19 13:41:58.0 Russ Parsons: at this time of year? bruschetta: toast somesliced sourdough, rub it with a cut garlic clove, top it with some chopped fresh tomatoes tossed with some basil and olive oil.
2007-07-19 13:43:28.0 Russ Parsons: I also like to serve vegetables as appetizers for dinner parties. Make 2 or 3 vegetable salads and serve them so people can choose. that way they really get a chance to focus on the flavor of the vegetables, rather than havingto share the spotlight with the main course.
2007-07-19 13:43:38.0 whiteycox: I don't know if this was covered before I got here, but there seem to be no end of websites with recipes. Is there any you like better than others? Cooks Illustrated, Saveur or something more general?
2007-07-19 13:44:31.0 Russ Parsons: I'm a little leery of website recipes in general. Who knows where they come from and how thoroughly they've been tested. That's one of the great things about LA Times recipes ... we've got a test kitchen here in the building and every recipe is tested thoroughly, so you know it works.
2007-07-19 13:45:18.0 Administrator2: You mentioned vegetable salads...what are your favorites?
2007-07-19 13:46:14.0 Russ Parsons: The other day I did: blanched green beans tossed with lemon and olive oil; steamed eggplant with garlic, olive oil and red wine vinegar; and roasted red and yellow bell peppers.
2007-07-19 13:47:22.0 Russ Parsons: the steamed eggplant was kind of funny--i'd never heard of anyone doing it. but a couple of years ago i was doing a piece on the different eggplant varieties and i wanted to see how they differed in flavor, so i steamed them (no added or subracted flavors). i found they all pretty much taste the same, but that steamed eggplant was really good!
2007-07-19 13:47:55.0 Gladys: Anyone see Shaq's program this week. He brought in a chef to cook great school lunches. Didn't go over very well with most of the (obese) kids.
2007-07-19 13:48:41.0 Russ Parsons: i do think that once your palate has been trained to respond to high amounts of salt and sugar, it takes a little bit before you can really appreciate good food.
2007-07-19 13:50:58.0 Russ Parsons: Any more questions? don't be shy!
2007-07-19 13:51:46.0 Mike: Could you name a few of your favorite sushi restaurants in the Southern California area?
2007-07-19 13:52:57.0 Russ Parsons: I like sushi gen downtown. and there's a little place in a strip mall on Carson just west of the 710 that I go to a lot. Can't remember the name, though! what are your favorites?
2007-07-19 13:53:12.0 Russ Parsons: make that the 110!
2007-07-19 13:53:17.0 Gladys: Ok I see all the different colors of carrots at the farmers markets. Is there a difference in taste?
2007-07-19 13:54:15.0 Russ Parsons: There are subtledifferences in flavors not only among different colors, but different varieties. And often times not-so-subtle differences between different farmers! but for the most part, they taste like carrots. some are sweeter, some are crisper, some are more tender.
2007-07-19 13:54:20.0 Mike: I also like Sushi Gen for straightforward sushi. I was really impressed recently with the variety and quality of fish at Sushi Zo in Culver City. And I've found Kiriko in West LA to be consistently very good.
2007-07-19 13:54:56.0 Russ Parsons: I've heard a lot of good things about both of those places. I'm still saving up my money for urasawa, too!
2007-07-19 13:55:20.0 Listener1: Tutti Frutti vendor (SM Wed and Hollywood Sun markets) has bulk carrots of different colors, yellow is sweetest from my experience, but their carrots have not been as tasty for some months now. Weather, mother nature
2007-07-19 13:56:07.0 Russ Parsons: i think that's probably weather. Carrots don't do so well once the weather starts to get hot. Tutti Frutti is in the Santa Ynez area, so they do stay cooler, longer, but it's still pretty warm!
2007-07-19 13:56:40.0 Mike: I recall your grilling/barbecue articles from last year. Are you planning to do another extensive grilling/barbecue section in Food this year?
2007-07-19 13:57:31.0 Russ Parsons: I don't think we're doing another issue just on grilling this summer, but we will continue to do occasional stories on it. My next piece, in fact, is on fish on the grill. Yumm.
2007-07-19 13:57:39.0 Listener1: Have you had good success with baking fish on the planks?
2007-07-19 13:58:01.0 Russ Parsons: To tell you the truth, I haven't tried that yet. Have you?
2007-07-19 13:58:36.0 Listener1: First plan experience was a mess, forgot to soak the plank. Have not tried #2 yet.
2007-07-19 13:59:20.0 Russ Parsons: yeah, that'll do it. that same thing happened to me the first time i used wood chips. couldn't figure out what the big deal was (though there was a BIG fire). then i read theinstructions. doh.
2007-07-19 13:59:31.0 Listener1: Chenin Blanc is under appreciated, what do you think?
2007-07-19 13:59:45.0 Listener1: Oh yeah, the instructions. Been there.
2007-07-19 14:00:24.0 Russ Parsons: i agree completely. And back in the stone age when i started cooking, chenin blanc was one of the better california varietals. My house pour for the summer is still the chenin from Navarro. really clean, very crisp, good acidity. very nice wine for around $12 a bottle.
2007-07-19 14:00:32.0 Gladys: Just wanted to say that I have been reading out loud to friends your description of the fig's unconventional sex in your How To pick apeach book. Who would have known!
2007-07-19 14:01:04.0 Russ Parsons: They are a kinky fruit, aren't they! but you could probably guess that just by looking at one.
2007-07-19 14:01:12.0 Gladys: Plank info. I also had a big fire. Second time I weighted it down and let it soak for 24 hours. No problemo...
2007-07-19 14:01:37.0 Russ Parsons: how much flavor did you get from the wood, versus using oak chips or something.
2007-07-19 14:03:16.0 Gladys: Second time it was in the oven and the flavor was discernible. Haven't got back to the grill with it yet.
2007-07-19 14:03:46.0 Russ Parsons: I'm going to have to give it a shot. sounds interesting. Any more questions?
2007-07-19 14:03:48.0 Mike: I recall in one of your grilling articles that you liked mesquite chips best for grilling. Is it still your favorite?
2007-07-19 14:04:47.0 Russ Parsons: I like mesquite for mild flavored meats like chicken and fish. i like hickory for beef and pork. and i also use hickory for some chicken --like when i do it on the rotisserie.
2007-07-19 14:04:51.0 Listener1: What coffee shops do the best job at roasting and brewing straight coffee? I like Groundwork best.
2007-07-19 14:05:32.0 Russ Parsons: i keep meaning to go by and try that clover machine. i get my coffee from a local roaster called "supreme beans".
2007-07-19 14:07:44.0 Listener1: Thanks Russ, enjoyed the chat and the info.
2007-07-19 14:08:30.0 Administrator2: One more question before we wrap it up for the week:
2007-07-19 14:08:34.0 Mike: Can you recommend a really good fish market besides the usual suspects (Fish King, Santa Monica Seafood, Chinese markets, Japanese markets)? Have you ever shopped for fish in downtown from one of the major distributors?
2007-07-19 14:09:33.0 Russ Parsons: I do buy fish from American fish every once in a while. Though I have to confess that I usually buy from either Mitsuwa or Marukai. Also, try J&P West Coast Seafood at teh farmers markets. They often have great fish at pretty good prices.
2007-07-19 14:09:49.0 Russ Parsons: Thanks for coming by y'all. See you next week, same time, same channel!
2007-07-19 14:10:07.0 Mike: Thanks Russ.