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Kane’s Cuisine: Alison Roman’s mushroom flatbread

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – Are flatbreads and pizzas the same thing? Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking so, but the answer is technically “no.” 

Flatbread dough keeps company with such delicious, carb-y foods as naan, roti, and matzo, even if it’s topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sliced pepperoni. 

Notice I didn’t include pineapples? Is this because I don’t care for them on my pizzas/flatbreads? Or am I merely sidestepping one of the most divisive debates of our time? Stick around to not find out. 

Anyway, when it comes to food and beverages, there are some distinctions without much of a difference. For example, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really care whether eggplant is a fruit or a vegetable, or whether my sparkling wine is champagne or prosecco or cava. 

The point is flatbread is much easier and less time consuming to make than pizza dough. And while I will sometimes insist on more challenging ways of doing things, folks, the earth is boiling and I’m looking for shortcuts wherever I can find them. 

For this mushroom flatbread, if you can’t harvest cremini mushrooms yourself from the forests of the cremini region of France, store-bought is fine.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Recipe from Alison Roman’s “Dining In”

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve a pinch of granulated sugar and one packet of active dry yeast (2 and ¼ teaspoons) in 1.5 cups warm water
  2. Add four cups all-purpose flour, stirring until fully combined. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 10 minutes 
  3. Add ½ cup sour cream, two tablespoons unsalted butter, and one tablespoon kosher salt, mixing until well blended
  4. Re-cover the bowl and allow to rest for two hours. Punch down the dough and keep covered, allowing it to rise for another two hours
  5. Transfer dough to well-floured surface and divide it into four to six equal pieces. One at a time, roll it out with your hands. Don’t make perfect the enemy of good! 
  6. Cook on a non-stick skillet greased with a bit of olive oil on medium-high for about three to four minutes, flipping to cook the other side for a further two to three minutes 

Toppings

  1. Listen, I understand people have strong opinions on their preferred toppings for pizza (sorry, flatbread), so I am not going to be proscriptive with this. See below for toppings used in the flatbread pictured here
  2. In a Dutch oven, add mushrooms, seasoning them with salt and bathing them in a ton of olive oil (they should be practically submerged). Feel free to add halved heads of garlic and/or onions, shallots, etc. Cook in a 400° F oven for about 40 minutes
  3. Spread ricotta cheese over the flatbread. Top with mushrooms (include at least some of that olive oil), along with grated Parmesan and fresh basil
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Kane’s Cuisine: My easiest recipe (so far)

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based political reporter snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – The toast pictured here was made with a homemade baguette. Yours doesn’t have to be, and there was no reason for me to flex like that because the point of today’s column is to demonstrate how a few easy steps can elevate the mundane into something extraordinary. 

This really is so easy. Low effort, high reward. A perfectly serviceable appetizer to serve guests at a dinner party and an equally satisfying lunch on the go. Plus, learning to make your own avocado toast will save you enough money to afford an undesirable home in the Valley in about 729 years. 

Plus, it’s officially spooky season. IYKYK. 

Using Props Properly: Christina Milian Explains The Toast | THE ROCKY HORROR  PICTURE SHOW - YouTube

The key ingredient, apart from the toast – obviously – is ricotta. From there, you can go sweet or savory. Fruit, fish, mushrooms…the world is your oyster.  

  1. Head a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium and toast a slice or two of bread (store-bought is fine. No, really.) 
  2. Spread ricotta over your toast. You can whip it with a whisk before you spread it. Or don’t. Just make sure it’s full-fat. 

Be creative with your toppings. Pictured here is prosciutto, capers, freshdill, and flakysalt. On other piece: sliced cherry tomatoes, chives, and honey.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

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Kane’s Cuisine: Amatriciana, one of the four pastas of Rome

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based political reporter snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – The head cold or upper respiratory infection or whatever it is that I’m suffering from has worsened over the last 24 hours and I feel like complete garbage. So, what have I turned to for comfort on this weekend afternoon? 

That’s right, NyQuil chicken

But afterwards, a bowl of warm noodles (followed by a bowl of cold ice cream) all while re-watching Dance Moms. Look, if you can’t handle me at my worst, that is completely understandable because I am a monster. 

Today, we’re making one of the four pastas of Rome, amatriciana. I made some modifications that Italians might not approve of, but I don’t care. Oh, you learned everything there is to know about the Italian culinary arts from your study abroad? I don’t think so. 

“When I was in Lazio, our Pecorino Romano was crafted by local cheesemakers who raised sheep on the hillside, playing Giuseppe Verdi’s operas for at least four hours per day. These farmers, who were all named Salvatore, would sooner have eaten their own shoes than tasted an amatriciana prepared with canned tomatoes. Calling what they serve here in America ‘pasta’ is an insult. And don’t even get me STARTED on how much better the coffee is in Italy…”
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil 
  2. In a large skillet or fry pan with a couple tablespoons olive oil, cook 4 ounces guanciale or pancetta, cut into ½ – inch cubes, on medium-low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally 
  3. Increase the heat slightly and add a sliced onion and cook for about 5-8 minutes. Add two teaspoons red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds to one minute
  4. Add a 28-ounce can of tomatoes (crushed, or whole and then crushed by hand or with a wooden spoon). Add a dash of fish sauce and season to taste with salt. Cook for about 20 minutes and set aside
  5. In your pot of boiling water, cook a 12-ounce box of pasta – whatever kind you like –until a few minutes before al dente (refer to package directions for cook times). Reserve one cup pasta water, strain the noodles and set aside 
  6. Add the pasta and half the reserved pasta water to your pan with the sauce. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring to make sure the noodles are evenly coated and the sauce is thickened 
Photo by Dan Balinovic

Optional but encouraged: Season with flaky salt, black pepper, grated raw garlic, more red pepper flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, and garnish with basil 

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Food

Kane’s Cuisine: potato salad doesn’t have to be boring

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

Published

on

Photo by Dan Balinovic

The LA Blade’s intrepid Washington D.C.-based political reporter snarks his way through another delicious weekly recipe while dishing tea on other subjects…

WASHINGTON – Is anyone ever that jazzed about potato salad? Always the side dish but never the bride, it’s somehow simultaneously the most omnipresent but least memorable food brought to a barbecue or potluck situation. Friends, I’m here to tell you there’s a better way. 

To make my point, I should have done just the potato salad and not distracted you with the fried chicken pictured therewith. If you would like to make the fried chicken, I used the same recipe from my August 14 column

What makes this potato salad so special? Everything. It’s so much more than mayonnaise and boiled spuds. It’s got tangy citrus, salty umami-rich anchovies, fresh dill. Your German immigrant ancestors could never. Sorry. 

Oh, another thing: For those of us who are not infants and still have use of our teeth, I do not understand the appeal of any food that doesn’t have some texture. Another issue I have with other potato salads but not this one, which has a delightful crunch.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Bring this to a potluck and it will be gone faster than the Queen’s spirit traveled to Trisha Paytas’s baby. I need to get off Twitter because it’s rotting my brain. Also, when looking up the spelling of Paytas’s name, I discovered she named the baby Malibu Barbie. Don’t really have further comment on that matter but I thought you should know, too. 

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  1. Boil two pounds baby potatoes in three quarts of water with one cup of salt cup (yes, you read that right) until they can be easily pierced with a fork, or about eight to ten minutes. Strain out and discard the water 
  2. Smash and peel a few garlic cloves, adding a pinch of salt as you mash them into a paste. Chop a few anchovy filets and mash them into a paste, too. Combine your pastes and mash them together until their color and texture is uniform
  3. Add paste to a large bowl with a third cup mayonnaise, a tablespoon Dijon mustard, and a teaspoon black pepper, whisking to combine. Continue whisking as you slowly add two tablespoons olive oil and the juice from one lemon. Season with salt
  4. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, smash them lightly into a cutting board with your palm so they split open but aren’t totally mashed (does that make sense?) Add them to the dressing mixture, tossing evenly to coat
Photo by Dan Balinovic

Add six to eight thinly sliced radishes, a few scallions, or chives, radish and sunflower microgreens, and an ungodly amount of fresh dill. Some of the ingredients in this step are optional. The dill is not. Season again with salt and black pepper

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