Birthday Raviolis

Homemade RaviolisThose of you who know me know that April 24th was my 30th birthday (same birthday as Barbra – we’re bffs). If there’s one thing I’ve learned about birthdays, it’s that if you don’t make a big deal about it, no one will. And come on, it’s your DAY – why not make a big deal?

This year my parents came to visit, making the entire week a celebration… and lord did we celebrate. There’s so much I have to report from this week. Some of it you’ve already heard about from me. Like the ridiculous pancakes we had on Tuesday at the Griddle Cafe or the life-changing gnocchi for my birthday dinner at Osteria Mamma. And let’s not forget my favorite chocolate birthday cake. Some of it warrants separate blog entries, like the remarkable fish and chips with mushy peas I had in Santa Barbara or the unexpectedly delicious and refreshing Ahi Tuna Lettuce Wraps I ate in Palm Springs. Oh and there was the OTHER favorite birthday cake I had for the first time on my actual birthday. Dear god….

But today is not about cake or pancakes or fish and chips. Today is about raviolis. HOMEMADE raviolis. My grandmother Emma, god rest her soul, the one famous for her Easter Pie, was also famous for her incomprehensibly thin and delicate raviolis. Both of my parents learned from her and have continued the tradition with the rest of my family. They all gather and make them together, then freeze them and divvy them up amongst themselves. Shockingly, I had never been present for one of these parties and hence never had the opportunity to make them at all. Criminal! So of course when my parents were here I declared that this just needed to be fixed. And, being the only child birthday boy, it did. ::halo appears over my head::

Emma’s recipe is simple:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cap full of vegetable oil
  • warm water
Making Ravioli Dough
Mom kneads the ravioli dough.

On a clean, floured surface, one forms the flour into a pile with a well in the middle and cracks the eggs right in. After adding the vegetable oil, one scrambles the eggs with the fork and then begins to fold in the flour and mix it all together while another person begins to drizzle in warm water until a dough is formed. After 15 minutes of kneading, the dough sits for 30 minutes. During this time you make the filling, which is simply 1 large container of ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper, all mixed together and refrigerated until ready to use. The rested dough is divided into four portions, then, using a well-floured rolling pin on a well-floured surface, one rolls out the dough until as thin as possible – borderline see-through. Then, one dollops the filling out in an equidistant line on the dough and folds it over. Using a glass, you cut out circles around the now covered dollops of filling and voila – raviolis.

For being such an impromptu session and with neither of my parents having made them in over a year, I say we did pretty damn good. The picture above shows them served with a butter sage sauce (just melted butter and fresh sage). You simply boil the raviolis until tender (about 3-4 minutes when fresh) then cover them in the sauce. Of course homemade red sauce would be equally divine, but the butter sage is simple, quick, and fresh. Nothing better. Emma was notorious for keeping count of the raviolis she made and would take a tally of everyone’s intake, making sure every single one was accounted for. We were not quite so ceremonious, but of course we joked about it. I tell ya, of all the eating and celebrating we did that week, this event was perhaps the most special, and clearly the most delicious. Food and love – what more could a starving artist ask for?

Now as mentioned above, usually the raviolis are made then immediately frozen for later use. Since we were looking to eat them right away, we cooked a batch of them fresh and froze the rest. Some of you might be raising your eyebrows at the thought of freezing fresh pasta. Let me tell you they are still equally delicious when boiled directly from the freezer. In fact, the ones that were in my freezer may already be gone….

Salvaging Pot Stickers

BurnedPotstickersSo do you ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong, including the dinner that you’ve made perfectly 100 times before? This happened to my roommate last night. She was in the mood for one of her quick go-tos, Trader Joe’s vegetable pot stickers. So, she prepared them how she always prepares them and for some reason, this time, they got scorched. And I mean like, open the window the smoke alarm is going off scorched. Bummer (and kind of hilarious). Even though she was laughing, the roommate was not quite in the mood for me to turn this into a blogging opportunity (which, clearly I have). So, we collectively came up with a list of things that could be done with these scorched pot stickers. After all, the starving artist is nothing if not resourceful.

Solutions for scorched pot stickers. By Dave and Anna.

1. Go f*** yourself.

2. Take a knife and attempt to scrape off the burned edges. After the third pot sticker falls apart into a messy, charred pile, dissolve into tears while realizing just how alone you are.

3. Scoop out the filling from each of the stickers and discard any burned portions of the shell. Mush all of them into a patty. Fry both sides (this time without burning) and eat with the sticker sauce. Or, instead of a patty, just simply toss with shredded cabbage, lettuce, green onion, and the sauce, and enjoy a light lovely meal.

4. After realizing the stickers are scorched, calmly turn off the heat and leave the stickers in the pan. Go to Chipotle.

The End.

Happy Friday, everyone!!

The Starving Artist Does the Oscars

GMCLA Performs at the Oscars

Click here to see me and the chorus performing at the OSCARS!!!

Happy Monday, readers! So I’m taking a small detour from food today, but for a very good reason. If you happened to catch the Oscars last night, you might have noticed someone singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) who looked suspiciously like yours truly. Well guess what? It was totally me! I couldn’t post anything in advance because we were sworn to secrecy, but now that the cat is out of the bag I can tell you that is was absolutely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. The idea to have us in this number about boobs was all Seth’s and of course we love him for it. Only 24 out of the 220 members of the chorus were chosen for this event. Needless to say I am both proud and honored to represent this deserving organization on such a global stage. This was the first time an LGBT group has performed and been acknowledge at the Oscars. How crazy exciting to be a part of such history.

But here’s the really fun story.

We recorded the number at Capitol Records on Sunday Feb 17th. Seth MacFarlane was at the session and made it a point to come in, say hi, and encourage us to be completely over-the-top with our diction, vibrato, and facial expressions so as to heighten the comedy (and let’s not kid ourselves, boobs are not a topic any of us are familiar with). After we finished, Seth stood in the doorway to thank us and shake our hands while the producers stood by. I was the last one out of the room and of course, I couldn’t let such an opportunity pass without throwing something into the mix. So, in my normal tone of voice (loud and obnoxious) I said to Seth, “I’ve never been more excited about boobs in my entire life.” Laughter ensued from both him and the producers, reminding me just how lucky I am and how much I love my life.

Tune in tomorrow when we get back to food posts, including the fish and chips I found while “camping” in Malibu and my progress with bootcamp and weight loss. Hooray!

Party Time

Balls and BrowniesToday I leave for Malibu on my very first Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) retreat. 170 gay men in a campground for three days – I’m both excited and terrified… it should be an unforgettable experience. Now even though I’m considered a newbie, somehow I, along with a group of my fellow newbies, got charged with the task of planning a party for Friday night…. for an even that none of us have attended, at a place none of us have ever been to. Hilarious. Though I have to say, it’s actually been really easy for us – everyone is chipping in, and since we’re going to be in a gymnasium in a campground, no one is terribly concerned about frills. Just two things: alcohol, and snacks. Done.

All you know me well enough by now to know that I am of course involved in providing food for the party. I recruited another newbie friend help with the baking, since there will be 150 people in attendance. Good lord. What did I make? Balls, of course. Peppermint almond coconut and, by popular demand, peanut butter. Now you know I love sharing with you all, but my ball recipes are the one thing I keep to myself. Surely you understand. Also on my menu are outrageous brownies, which are always a huge crowd pleasure. The trick to making all of this? Planning. Obviously one can’t do all of this in a day. I started on Tuesday and was done by Thursday evening. Perfect.

Truthfully there are few things that make me more happy than sharing goodies with friends. It’s just so much fun – who doesn’t love a homemade treat? Very much looking forward to a fun filled weekend

Happy New Year

Roasted Pheasant with Port Wine Reduction

Some of you may have lost hope and thought I had disappeared forever – not a chance. December was an insane month full of music making, choral singing, working, partying, and of course, food. All this activity meant little time to blog. But, fear not: I am bringing back the sass in 2013. I have much to share, much to catch up on, and lots in store for all of you faithful readers. Thanks for being amazing!

So let’s kick off the new year by talking about New Years. I hate New Years.  Not the holiday itself or the sentiment behind it. I actually quite like the idea of starting fresh – renewed and refocused goals, an entire year in front of us full of possibility. And who doesn’t love lazing around watching movies all new year’s day? What I don’t like is the “scene” of New Years Eve. My experience has always been huge build up, huge expense, huge let down. Let’s face it, I don’t drink, and to pay an overpriced cover just to get in to an overcrowded bar and buy an overpriced drink is not for me.

For as long as I can remember, I have always gone the low-impact, stay-in route for New Years Eve. Board games, movie nights, or sometimes just going to bed. I fondly remember a NYE in New York City spent with my friend Amanda on her couch in Queens eating chicken wings and vanilla pudding in our pajamas. Heaven. And not a drop of remorse. But still, as much as I was content in having no part in any of the mayhem, there was always a tiny little part of me that felt… I don’t know… empty. Like I was missing out. On what, I have no idea.

This year, 2012, I am happy to say was the best New Years ever. My evening began at 6pm with my dear friend and mentor, Byron Adams, who invited me as his guest to a three course prix fixe menu at Le Pétit Café, an amazing french restaurant in Santa Monica that I blogged about several months ago. The setting was perfect – quiet, cozy, tastefully decorated for the festivities. All the staff were friendly and gracious. Byron and I shared brie en croute (a chunk of brie baked in phyllo dough) and escargots for our starter. We both enjoyed the roasted pheasant entree, which was masterfully prepared with a port wine reduction sauce, baby vegetables, and wild rice. Dessert for me was a mini apple tart. Divine. If had to give one criticism, it would be that the chef seemed to be afraid of salt as I found myself adding quite a bit to the main course, but such an issue is easily rectified and didn’t take away at all from the exceptional meal. Even more so, I enjoyed Byron’s company. As we sat and caught up on each other’s lives, I realized in a perfectly serene and peaceful moment just how lucky I am to have such supportive and generous people like him in my life, not only here and now in LA, but in all parts of my life, near, far, past, present, and future.

NYE Party in Venice
NYE Party in Venice

We finished dinner, I brought him home and then made my way to Venice where I attended a 1920s-themed house party hosted by my dear friends Sherri and Joe. Perhaps you remember these two from my post on potato wedges and secret sauce? Complete with red lights, period cocktails, spot-on decor, and exceptional attire (I wore a tux, Sherri wore feathers), the party was outstanding. Not crazy, but not boring – the perfect balance of fun and civility. I spent the evening surrounded by people I care about, laughing, talking, and generally having a great time. Yet another affirmation of how blessed I am. Of course I would not be the starving artist if I didn’t contribute to the spread. Dave’s Balls were-a-plenty, but I’ll tell you more about those in a forthcoming post.

As I made my way home with a car full of friends, I reflected on what an affirmation the evening had been – evidence of a full life and a glorious year to come. Exactly what New Years Eve should be. 2012 was not a perfect year, but I can with great contentment say that it brought me some wonderful new friends, an amazing new community of musicians and brothers in the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles that continues to unfold and surprise me, a supportive new community of fitness and nutrition at RPM Fitness in Toluca Lake, and the continued support of family and long-time friends that keep me going.

Here’s to a great year, friends! Stay tuned!