Show 450, November 6, 2021: MJ Hong, Culinary Instructor & Recipe Developer – The One-Pan College Cookbook

Cookbook Author MJ Hong

The One-Pan College Cookbook: 80 Easy Recipes for Quick, Good Food is from (Orange County-based) recipe developer and culinary instructor MJ Hong. “Graduate from instant ramen and make delicious one-pan meals. Cooking can be a great way to explore new foods, develop new kitchen skills, and save yourself time and money.”

“With The One-Pan College Cookbook, any college student or beginner cook can make nutritious, easy one-pan recipes―no prerequisite required. These dorm-friendly dishes also provide the cooking skills and tips every student will use well beyond undergrad. In addition to easy recipes all made in one pan, you’ll find meal planning tips and creative ideas to make the most out of ingredients and leftovers to save time and money.”

“Save money and shop smart with guidance for stretching your dollar and navigating the grocery store like a pro. Each chapter includes a few recipes that serve one, but most of the recipes produce two servings, either for two people or to have leftovers. And occasionally a recipe makes enough for four people, making it perfect for sharing with friends (not to mention making great leftovers).”

The recipes are a mix of lighter dishes as well as some more filling comfort foods including: Breakfast; Snacks and

“The recipes are a mix of lighter dishes as well as some more filling comfort foods including: Breakfast; Snacks and Small Bites; Burgers, Sandwiches and Other Handhelds; Meatless Mains; Seafood and Poultry; Pork and Beef and Desserts.”

MJ has graciously shared her original recipe for Thai-Inspired Lettuce Wraps with us. “Fresh and tangy flavors paired with crunchy vegetables make for a satisfying bite in these refreshing lettuce wraps.

MJ Hong joins us with a skillet securely in hand.

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Show 436, July 31, 2021: Eric Connolly, The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar, Paso Robles

The Hatch is a simple rotisserie and bar located just off the town square in beautiful downtown Paso Robles wine country. It’s fueled by wood fire, small batch whiskey, and a bustling atmosphere full of mingling locals and visitors. The restaurant is intimate and seating is a mix of banquettes, high wood tables, and tall backed stools at the bar for those who like front row interaction with some of the best in the cocktail biz. Limited sidewalk seating is still available on a first come, first served basis.”

“The Hatch was founded in the spring of 2015 by Maggie Cameron and Eric Connolly who had envisioned a cozy, comfortable joint with great food, interesting cocktails, and weekend late night dining. Those two had lived in Paso Robles long enough to recognize a need in the downtown dining scene so they quit their day jobs (in wine and restaurants) when the opportunity arose to open The Hatch in one of their favorite spaces in the historic Grangers Union Building. Today you’ll find a mix of wine industry professionals, brewers, and visitors from all over California and beyond chatting at the bar, enjoying a mid-week cocktail, or sitting down to tuck into their favorite rotisserie special.”

“Executive Chef Cory Bidwell’s comfort food-driven menu largely changes seasonally while some of the perennial favorites remain with The Hatch year-round. The wood-fired rotisserie is the focal point of The Hatch’s small, open kitchen, and the chef team is always happy to chat with guests passing by the window. Sauces are made in-house daily and longer-term projects like their fermented hot sauce and pickled seasonal produce keep the culinary team busy. Daily specials like fried chicken, smoked beef ribs, and braised lamb shanks are available until sold out!”

Eric and Maggie have just launched Della’s (wood-fired pizza & cocktails) next door to The Hatch under the culinary direction of Chef Cory.

Proprietor Eric Connolly is our guest with a Mockingbird House Cocktail in hand.

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Show 429, June 12, 2021: Bosscat Kitchen and Libations, Orange, Houston, TX and Newport Beach Part One

John Reed and Leslie Nguyen of Bosscat Kitchen and Libations

Orange County restaurateurs Leslie Nguyen and John Reed (owners of Bosscat Kitchen and Libations) launched their third location this March on the corner of Chapman Avenue and Olive Street in Old Towne Orange at the previous Rod’s Liquor location, a 100-year old building..

“The 5,000 sq. ft. result is a beautifully modern space that is as authentic and nostalgic to Old Towne Orange as it is bold and eye-catching to fit Bosscat Kitchen’s brand. Leslie Nguyen, Chief Designer, has drawn her inspiration from the century old pre-prohibition style building, making certain every detail is on brand for Bosscat’s rustic industrial aesthetic but also throwing back to the auto repair shop and the beloved neighborhood liquor store that had decades of commerce and stories before it.”

“Bosscat Kitchen & Libations creatively meshes upscale and casual dining with an expansive whiskey selection and unique menu of American comfort food. The high energy, open-spaced concept promotes a lively experience at all locations: Newport Beach, CA and Houston, TX (with the third location newly opened in Orange, CA on March 17th). Their brick, metal, dark wood and whiskey barrel decor suits its comfort menu.”

“One of the restaurant’s most coveted attractions is the famous whiskey room that houses hundreds of whiskies from several countries (including: Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Canada and the US). Bosscat Kitchen’s Executive Chef, Peter Petro, cultivates new ideas with seasonal produce, meats and spices.”

Bosscat Kitchens’ Leslie Nguyen (in-studio) and John Reed (on the phone from Houston) join us.

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Show 429, June 12, 2021: Bosscat Kitchen and Libations, Orange, Houston, TX and Newport Beach Part Two

John Reed and Leslie Nguyen of Bosscat Kitchen and Libations

Orange County restaurateurs Leslie Nguyen and John Reed (owners of Bosscat Kitchen and Libations) launched their third location this March on the corner of Chapman Avenue and Olive Street in Old Towne Orange at the previous Rod’s Liquor location, a 100-year old building..

“The 5,000 sq. ft. result is a beautifully modern space that is as authentic and nostalgic to Old Towne Orange as it is bold and eye-catching to fit Bosscat Kitchen’s brand. Leslie Nguyen, Chief Designer, has drawn her inspiration from the century old pre-prohibition style building, making certain every detail is on brand for Bosscat’s rustic industrial aesthetic but also throwing back to the auto repair shop and the beloved neighborhood liquor store that had decades of commerce and stories before it.”

“Bosscat Kitchen & Libations creatively meshes upscale and casual dining with an expansive whiskey selection and unique menu of American comfort food. The high energy, open-spaced concept promotes a lively experience at all locations: Newport Beach, CA and Houston, TX (with the third location newly opened in Orange, CA on March 17th). Their brick, metal, dark wood and whiskey barrel decor suits its comfort menu.”

“One of the restaurant’s most coveted attractions is the famous whiskey room that houses hundreds of whiskies from several countries (including: Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Canada and the US). Bosscat Kitchen’s Executive Chef, Peter Petro, cultivates new ideas with seasonal produce, meats and spices.”

Bosscat Kitchens’ Leslie Nguyen (in-studio) and John Reed (on the phone from Houston) continue with us.

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Show 406, January 2, 2021: Executive Chef / Proprietor Michael and General Manager / Proprietor Sarah Cherney of Peasants Feast, Solvang

Sarah and Michael Cherney of peasants FEASTThree years in the making the dynamic husband and wife team of Chef Michael (Executive Chef / Proprietor) and Sarah Cherney (General Manager / Proprietor) debuted the full-service Peasants Feast restaurant in Solvang in April just at the time restaurants were restricted to takeout and delivery only.

Peasants Feast started as a catering company and they have adapted along the way as best they can. Peasants Feast’s cuisine focuses on local, seasonal comfort food with a twist. The couple met at the Nichols Brothers’ Sides Hardware and Shoes (now closed,) a well-received restaurant in Los Olivos. Michael was the Chef de Cuisine and Sarah the General Manager.

In a what’s wrong with this picture moment Peasants Feast was recently cited by California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for their employees (6) eating inside the closed restaurant for Family Meal. Hard to believe…The Cherney’s join us to share their truly unfortunate experience of navigating a bureaucracy during a pandemic. Staff now enjoy their Family Meals in their cars (including the Cherney’s children) or sitting solo on a curb well away from the restaurant.

Peasants Feast is currently serving their guests with take-out and delivery Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

“Inspired by the earth and rooted in community, we’ve built good relationships with the planet & our table, we present a changing menu of mostly seasonal, locally sourced food.”

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Show 402, December 5, 2020: Co-Host Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group with “Ask the Chef”

Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant GroupOur own Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group provides another timely and informative “Ask the Chef” segment where Chef Andrew responds to listeners thoughtful inquiries. Chef Andrew is regularly updating us on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis in the hospitality field and what we, as diners, can do to support the very survival of restaurants which is a genuine (and increasingly growing) concern.

New restrictions for restaurants (no dine-in for at least 3 weeks) are now in place for all of Southern California as we approach the all-important Holiday dining season. It’s takeaway only until the end of the year (and possibly longer.)

Our thoughts now turn to festive Holiday entertaining at home. Chef Andrew presented his recipe for Lobster Pot Pie (guaranteed comfort food) on the Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” show this week. We’ll “Ask the Chef.”

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Show 389, September 5, 2020: Chef John & Roni Cleveland, Proprietors, Post & Beam, Los Angeles Part One

John Cleveland of Post and BeamEstablishing itself as a South L.A. cultural institution, Brad and Linda Johnson opened up the fine dining restaurant, Post & Beam in 2011 — its location adjacent to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall. Govind Armstrong served as head chef and partner, mentoring and eventually passing the culinary baton to John Cleveland. Last year, John & Roni Cleveland took over ownership of Post & Beam, keeping it a black-owned business. “With the changing of the guards, John will benefit from business consulting and access to senior leadership as well as mentorship in the kitchen from Govind, while Linda and I will focus on extending the brand through Post & Beam Hospitality LLC,” said Brad Johnson.

This year the team behind Post & Bream received the Los Angeles Times Gold Award, named for the late Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold. “The Los Angeles Times Gold Award is given annually “with the idea of honoring culinary excellence and expanding the notion of what Southern California cooking might be. The award celebrates intelligence and innovation, brilliance and sensitivity to aesthetics, culture and the environment,” described Gold in 2017, prior to his death.”

“I consider myself a ‘working chef,’ and I love creating California comfort food. Comfort food is simple; yet it requires perfect execution, said John Cleveland. “The secret ingredients to good cooking are love and patience. You can taste it in every bite!”

“Post & Beam focuses on “California comfort food.” The restaurant offers a variety of hand-stretched pizzas and traditional southern comfort food, using local ingredients. Born in Oakland, California and raised in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Cleveland draws his influences from southern soul food, Carolina BBQ, coastal seafood as well as Neapolitan cuisine, culminating into what he’s coined as “California comfort food.””

“Favorite menu items include the hand-stretched pizzas with such toppings as pepperoni, turkey meatballs, shrimp and wild mushrooms; smoked BBQ baby back ribs and red cabbage slaw; fried jerked catfish; buttermilk fried chicken; shrimp ‘n’ grits; slow-cooked collard greens with smoked turkey and classic pound cake – just to name a few. In addition, dishes are seasoned with fresh herbs and seasonal fruits, grown from Post & Beam’s garden, such as basil, rosemary, sorrel, and lemon verbena along with panache figs, cara cara oranges and Meyer lemons.””

Chef John and Roni Cleveland are our guests. They will chat about becoming the 2nd proprietors of the well-established Post & Beam and the responsibility to the community that entails.

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Show 389, September 5, 2020: Chef John & Roni Cleveland, Proprietors, Post & Beam, Los Angeles Part Two

Roni Cleveland of Post and BeamEstablishing itself as a South L.A. cultural institution, Brad and Linda Johnson opened up the fine dining restaurant, Post & Beam in 2011 — its location adjacent to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall. Govind Armstrong served as head chef and partner, mentoring and eventually passing the culinary baton to John Cleveland. Last year, John & Roni Cleveland took over ownership of Post & Beam, keeping it a black-owned business.

This year the team behind Post & Bream received the Los Angeles Times Gold Award, named for the late Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold. “The Los Angeles Times Gold Award is given annually “with the idea of honoring culinary excellence and expanding the notion of what Southern California cooking might be. The award celebrates intelligence and innovation, brilliance and sensitivity to aesthetics, culture and the environment,” described Gold in 2017, prior to his death.”

“I consider myself a ‘working chef,’ and I love creating California comfort food. Comfort food is simple; yet it requires perfect execution, said John Cleveland. “The secret ingredients to good cooking are love and patience. You can taste it in every bite!”

“Post & Beam focuses on “California comfort food.” The restaurant offers a variety of hand-stretched pizzas and traditional southern comfort food, using local ingredients. Born in Oakland, California and raised in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Cleveland draws his influences from southern soul food, Carolina BBQ, coastal seafood as well as Neapolitan cuisine, culminating into what he’s coined as “California comfort food.””

“Favorite menu items include the hand-stretched pizzas with such toppings as pepperoni, turkey meatballs, shrimp and wild mushrooms; smoked BBQ baby back ribs and red cabbage slaw; fried jerked catfish; buttermilk fried chicken; shrimp ‘n’ grits; slow-cooked collard greens with smoked turkey and classic pound cake – just to name a few. In addition, dishes are seasoned with fresh herbs and seasonal fruits, grown from Post & Beam’s garden, such as basil, rosemary, sorrel, and lemon verbena along with panache figs, cara cara oranges and Meyer lemons.””

Post & Beam is again open for limited (space available) dining on their garden patio for dinner and for To-Go and delivery. Weekend Brunch service has just resumed.

Chef John and Roni Cleveland continue the conversation about becoming the 2nd proprietors of the well-established Post & Beam and the responsibility to the community that entails.

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Show 375, May 30, 2020: Cooking Instructor Pamela Salzman with Quicker Than Quick

Pamela Salzman“From Los Angeles-based cooking instructor and author of Kitchen Matters, Pamela Salzman, comes Pamela Salzman’s Quicker Than Quick: 140 Crave-Worthy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Foods in 30 Minutes or Less– a cookbook complete with quick, delicious meals and kitchen hacks that make home cooking a breeze.”

“Life, whether one works outside the home or not, is really, really busy. In a perfect world, we would write out our meal plans for the week, shop accordingly, and cook nutritious meals every day with ease. But some days, the orthodontist visit runs late, or there’s more traffic than usual, or the chicken was never defrosted. And some days, we just don’t have the energy to cook for an hour even if we have the time.”

Quicker Than Quick is the book you will reach for time and again when you need to make something quick but nutritious. In her second cookbook, Pamela shares an arsenal of cooking class-tested, family-approved, easy, healthful recipes that will have you covered through breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and almost everything can be made in thirty minutes or less.”

“These inventive sheet pan dinners, stovetop skillet meals, Instant Pot recipes, and quick versions of time-consuming comfort foods require minimal hands-on time and don’t use exotic, hard-to-find ingredients. Equally useful are the techniques and tricks that teach you great ways to hack your meals, without sacrificing quality.”

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Show 337, August 17, 2019: Chef Scooter Kanfer, The Tropicale Restaurant & Coral Seas Lounge, Palm Springs

Scooter Kanfer of the TropicaleChef Scooter Kanfer is the menu maker (with proprietor Tony Di Lembo) at Palm Springs’ The Tropicale Restaurant & Coral Seas Lounge (Comfort Food for a Modern World.) “Every night at Tropicale is a party.”

Newly published is The Tropicale Restaurant Cookbook.

“A chic and sophisticated décor provides the setting for our distinctive “world cuisine”, a provocative mix of zesty influences that creates a delightful dining experience in Palm Springs, California. Plush high-backed semicircular banquettes surround our dining room and offer comfortable and private seating. The cuisine has a light, exotic feel with an emphasis on Pacific Rim specialties, from Chilean Sea Bass baked in Banana Leaves or Kahlua-Barbecued Pork Chops to all sorts of tasty tapas, salads, wood-fired pizzas, and desserts.”

“The Coral Seas Lounge, a hip mid-century style bar is lined with sexy black leather bar-stools and is reminiscent of the upbeat lounges of old Palm Springs. It wraps around the dining room and leads outside to a lush, tropical, 2000 square foot dining patio where a variety of specialty cocktails and old-school favorites are mixed – an ideal place where friends gather and martinis are sipped under the starlit desert sky.”

We spirit Chef Scooter away from her busy kitchen at Brunch for a chat.

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