Posts Tagged ‘The Kitchn’

My Favorite Secret Recipes from the 1990’s



I’m so excited to be featured on TheKitchn sharing my favorite recipes from the 1990’s. Remember the era of warm goat cheese on salads, sun dried tomato everything and bagel pizzas? While most 90’s food fads have fallen out of fashion, I still have a few secret recipes I make at home.

Baby Spinach Salads with Bacon, Raw Shaved Mushrooms, Hard Egg and Red Onion with Warm Balsamic Dressing- This was on every cafe menu when I was growing up and I used to order it when I wanted to be “healthy.” I made it all the time for dinner my senior year of college once I had my own kitchen. Easy and satisfying and just as good with turkey bacon.

Sun Dried Tomatoes– I still love them on salads, purred in dips, minced into turkey burgers or added to simmer sauces to bump up the flavor. Maybe if we called them Umami Bombs they would be popular again?

Baked Potatoes– Why did loaded baked potatoes go out of fashion? My Mom used to order a plain baked potato and a side of chili from a Wendy’s drive through when we were on car trips and got to eat fast food. She would top her potato with the chili and enjoy a mildly nutritious fast food meal. I thought she was the height of glamor as I munched on my junior bacon cheeseburger in the back seat. Now days I roll the cleaned potatoes in olive oil and tons of sea salt and roast them until tender. Salty, crispy skin and fluffy steaming flesh inside. I’ve always wanted to have a baked potato party with chic toppings like chives, creme fraiche, aged white cheddar, sauteed kale and caviar. And champagne!

Fusion Pizzas– I miss Thai inspired pizzas with peanut sauce, shaved carrots, bean sprouts and tons of cilantro. Same with BBQ Chicken Pizza! I now make these at home on brown rice tortillas with was less cheese and more vegetables. A GREAT pantry staple or leftovers meal when you have an open bottle of BBQ sauce, left over chicken, half a red onion and some odds ends of cheese to shred and mix on top.

Hard Shell Tacos– As many authentic street tacos as I enjoy in Los Angeles made from fresh masa pressed to order and warmed on a plancha, I crave the hard shell tacos I grew up eating on “Taco Night.” I could fry my own tortillas at home but it seems too indulgent.


What are your favorite 90’s foods? Any secrets you want to share?


xx, Lydia

A Fall Pumpkin Carving Party on


I’m honored to be featured on The Kitchn’s “Gatherings From The Kitchn” series this week. Working alongside the talented Anjali Prasertong, we threw a Pumpkin Carving Dinner Party for some of our closest friends. The day was beautiful captured by photographer Bridget Pizzo.

New posts will be up daily and you can follow along here:

Photo by Bridget Pizzo

I’m especially proud of the interview post, where I reveal some of my hard learned secrets for throwing a stress free, but stylish dinner party. Thanks Anj!

Photo by Bridget Pizzo

A Farewell to Anjali


One of our beloved chefs is leaving the kitchen to go back to grad school full time to become a registered dietician. We had a little goodbye dinner at Gjelina to celebrate Anjali’s next adventure.

Brunette power in our kitchen.


Anjali’s dessert menu had some edits from a previous diner, we happen to agree that the strawberry & rhubarb crisp was not warm enough nor was the chocolate crust on the banana cream pie chocolaty enough. Have you ever gone to dinner with chefs? It’s like being in art school and having your work critiqued. Or maybe it’s like shoving a fork in your eye, it’s just what we do.

Another thing chefs do at an inspiring dinner, take pictures of what they ate and share it on social media.

Some highlights of our amazing meal: this Croatian wine (we mob with a wine expert)


Young Garbanzo beans with goat cheese


Caponata crostini with burrata (sadly not pictured are the orange glazed carrots and squash blossom pizza winners.)

And the desserts!! The banana-chocolate bread pudding and butterscotch pot de creme were outstanding.


We sure will miss Anjali but you can keep up with her on The Kitchn and on her own blog Eat Your Greens.






Lemongrass Pickled Shrimp


Banh Mi

Remember last year when I co-hosted a wedding shower for Anjali and we had a Banh Mi Sandwich Buffet for lunch? I never shared the recipe for the one thing I actually cooked for the shower which was the YUMMY Lemongrass Pickled Shrimp that gave the sandwiches so much personality.


Pickled Shrimp Bahn Mi

Inspired by a Southern Pickled Shrimp recipe my mother-in-law makes for classy cocktail parties. Plump, pink poached shrimp spend the night in a briny bath of lemongrass, lime juice and celery seeds until they are bursting with flavor. Serve alone with tooth picks or as the star of a Banh Mi Buffet.


Lemongrass Pickled Shrimp (adapted from the Southern Pickled Shrimp recipe in True Grits)

Serves 8


For the marinade:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Sriracha chili sauce to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other light oil)

3/4 cup rice wine vinegar

3/4 cup water

2 bay leaves

2 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds

8″ stalk of lemon grass, cut into 2-inch sections and smashed

For the shrimp mixture:

2 lbs peeled, deveined shrimp (tails removed)

2 cups white onions, thinly sliced


Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed. Lightly poach the shrimp in salted water until JUST pink. Do not over cook. (You can use frozen defrosted cooked shrimp instead, I won’t tell). Toss the shrimp with the sliced white onions and cover in the marinade. Let sit, covered, in the fridge at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Before serving drain the shrimp from the marinade and remove the bay leaves and chunks of lemon grass. Season with salt and more lime juice just before serving if needed. Serve with toothpicks as an appetizer or set out on a Banh Mi Sandwich Bar.




Food Photographer: Dwight Eschliman


Thanks to Anjali, I have discovered the most amazing food photographer, Dwight Eschliman.


01_StillLife Burritos

photo by Dwight Eschliman


This picture of burritos in the shape of a heart is like a slideshow image from my dreams.



04_StillLife Beef Stew

photo by Dwight Eschliman


Beef stew broken down into it’s most elegant form.


15_StillLife fruit and veggies

photo by Dwight Eschliman


Health foods show off their beauty. Reminds me of these inspiring pics.





Mini Chicken n’ Waffle Appetizers


Check out this recipe featured on the mega site The Kitchn!

Mini Fried chicn n Waffle Bites


By FAR the biggest food sensation of our wedding day was these mini chicken n’ waffle appetizers. The In n’ Out Truck for dinner, Sarah’s divine spiced nuts, a buffet of homemade desserts and hot french fries that arrived at each table in silver Revere bowls were no match for these tasty hand held treats.


Fried Chicken Steps

seasoned flour and buttermilk soaked chicken


Many friends (and a few parents) have admitted to waiting at the kitchen door where the servers walked out with the trays in order to take down a whole tray’s worth. The servers had to start taking a secret route in order to get through the crowd.


Fried Chicken Nuggets

hot out of the fryer


Since I never got to eat or see even one appetizer that day (joy, pictures, hugs and congratulations), Sarah and I have recreated the recipe to share with all of you.


Fried chicken n waffles

drizzle with maple syrup


I wanted the wedding appetizer’s to be Southern themed as a nod to Drew’s heritage. My fantastic caterer, Dan Molnar perfectly executed my whimsical menu of Mini Chicken n’ Waffle Bites, Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Watermelon and Mint Skewers and Crudite with Americana Dips.

This is what I imagine they tasted like that day. Enjoy!


A & O Mini Fried Chicken ‘n Waffle Appetizer
Serves 8-10

10 sprigs fresh thyme
3 chicken thighs, boneless with skin on, cut into small ½ inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot sauce- Texas Pete or Tabasco
1 16oz bottle of peanut oil
Maple syrup
Mini Toaster Waffles (at least 20 individual rounds)

For the flour mixture:
2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne

Remove the leaves from 5-6 sprigs thyme and mince finely.  Set aside. Cut the chicken thighs into small ½-inch square pieces leaving some skin on each little piece. Toss with 1 teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper and 1 tablespoon of the minced thyme. In a medium bowl mix the buttermilk with 1 tablespoon of hot sauce (I like Texas Pete) and add the seasoned chicken pieces to the buttermilk mixture. Stir well and add any remaining sprigs of thyme to the buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the chicken in buttermilk from the fridge and drain in a colander.  Scoop 2 cups of flour in a pie plate or shallow bowl and season with 2 teaspoons salt, black pepper and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the flour mixture and toss well, thickly coating each piece. In a large saucepan heat 2-3 inches of peanut oil to high heat, (approximately 350 degrees). Carefully add your chicken in batches, being mindful not to splatter or crowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop. Stir occasionally until nicely browned on all sides and then remove to a paper towel to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Toast the mini waffle rounds until golden brown and top each round with a piece of warm fried chicken. Drizzle with warm maple syrup before serving.


Fried chicken n waffle bites


Happy St. Patrick’s Day



Anjali and I made Ina Garten’s version of Irish Soda Bread yesterday at work to accompany the traditional Irish dinner we cooked for our clients. Dense but very moist, lightly sweet from the currants and just a hint of orange zest. Slathered with salty Kerrygold butter it spoke to my inner heritage, satisfying a deep longing for home made rustic bread.

vintage Kerrygold Ad

Skip the green beer this year but whip up a loaf of Irish soda bread to eat cold with afternoon tea or toasted in the morning with coffee.

Irish Soda Bread

Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wishing you the luck of the Irish on this St. Patrick’s Day.


The Weekend Dish: Halloween Spirit


Hi pals, what’s in store this weekend?


Sarah and I are getting into the Halloween spirit. I’m planning to visit a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect Cinderella Pumpkin to decorate at my friend’s pumpkin carving birthday party.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins

I think I’ll bring my famous mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Dense and deeply pumpkin and spice flavored to celebrate the season.

Halloween cookies

I might also make our mini Halloween cookies by substituting the chocolate chips in a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe for black and orange M & M’s as seen above. These are irresistible, I want to eat the picture.

Thirsty Scientist drink

I’m dying to try this Jack-O-Lantern Martini (a Manhattan with hints of pumpkin, apples, and fall spices) created by my friend Jason of The Thirsty Scientist. His mobile mixology services were featured on The Kitchn blog this week! I hear he may have an opening still for Halloween weekend if your party wants to chic it up a notch.


I heart Martha Stewart glitter crafts (as seen here) so much that I actually made these glitter pumpkins 3 years ago and highly recommend the project.

LE glitter pumpkins

Mine are not a prefect as Martha’s but I was still proud of myself. Wishing you all a crisp and cool weekend.