This is my final edition of this newsletter before I head off on a new culinary adventure. Thank you for being a wonderful community of cooks and readers. It’s been a joy creating recipes for you and getting to know you through your emails and direct messages, and you’ll continue to hear from cooking columnist Ben Mims and other members of our Cooking staff each week.
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In my professional and personal life, cooking is always as much about people as it is about food. That’s been true of my time here, where I’ve been honored to collaborate with talented people whom I’m lucky enough to call friends.
They’re a generous bunch who inspire with their strength, creativity and kindness, as evidenced by the recipes below. Even beyond my food colleagues, there are many others who ensure all things cooking come out right. I’m so grateful for all of them.
Even though we’ll no longer carpool to the office (will anyone ever again?), we’ll be bonded by this great city and its food. And whether they like it or not, I’ll find some way to keep making them try my endless experiments with cookies.
Time 35 minutes
Yields Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies
Ben Mims and I share a love of cookie baking and peanut butter. He’s been my closest collaborator since I created these treats, my first recipe here, and I’m thankful for every minute together. I knew this cookie was a winner when Ben ooooh-ed at a bite and then packed some up to take home. The following fall, he made me a three-layer birthday cake that was a testament to both his kitchen talent and generous soul. He combined his fluffy chocolate sheet cake with the most delicious peanut butter frosting, which I hope he publishes someday for the sake of us all.
Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6
Patricia Escárcega gave me some of my most memorable L.A. dining experiences through lovely shared meals and her thoughtful reviews. She provides meaningful looks at food culture and the people behind it, whom she writes about beautifully with the courage and compassion that define her. When Patricia showcased Southern California’s best moles, she introduced me to chef Christy Lujan, who shared this unique chicken mole recipe with us.
Time 10 minutes
Yields Makes 1 sandwich
Jenn Harris knows fried chicken — and every other good thing to eat in L.A. — and she’s quick to tell us her insider tips and in-depth takes with her smart stories and profiles. She’s as gracious in real life, driving all over town to bring us what’s new and delicious. Jenn also welcomed me as a guest on her fantastic show, The Bucket List, and cheered me on to create my own ideal version of a fried chicken sandwich. Jenn gave her stamp of approval to this crunchy, spicy, pickle-y version.
Time 15 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Lucas Kwan Peterson connects food to culture in brilliant ways that make me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. He also examines the social and economic impacts of chefs and restaurants and takes us on journeys that reveal the significance of L.A.’s culinary neighborhoods with his show Off Menu. When he invited me on the San Gabriel Valley episode, he helped me appreciate my hometown and its food even more, including this uniquely Cantonese-Californian fried rice.
Time 2 hours plus cooling
Yields Serves 12
Bill Addison makes the most flavorful from-scratch ice cream. You know him as a restaurant critic who writes eloquent reviews and insightful stories on books, tea, wine and culture, which he certainly does, but he also whips up amazing desserts. When Bill swooned over this pie, I swooned too. It was a taste of how chefs must feel when he praises their restaurants, but I got the privilege of hearing it face-to-face.
Ask the cooks
Any tips for keeping salad greens fresh and crisp as long as possible in the fridge? What type of lettuce stays fresh longest? What about the bagged salad mixes? Even with good “best-by” dates, they get soggy after using half of the contents. I keep them in the fridge drawer with humidity control. Any advice will be appreciated as I enjoy a tasty salad almost every day since the pandemic started.
To keep salad greens fresher longer, get rid of extra moisture. The fridge’s produce drawer is a start, but you can blot really wet greens dry with paper towels first and also store any greens with a paper towel wrapped around them to absorb water. Once you’ve opened a bag or container of salad mix, you can slip a paper towel in there too before sealing and chilling again.
Sturdier greens, such as kale, cabbage, romaine and iceberg, keep longer than tender ones, such as Boston, red leaf and baby greens.
You can revive greens that have wilted by soaking them in ice water for 15 to 30 minutes. The leaves will soak up that water and become crisp again; this works best with greens that were crunchy to begin with. Once the greens are crisp again, spin them dry in a salad spinner or gently blot dry with paper towels.
The L.A. Times Dinner Series returns
The Los Angeles Times Dinner Series returns at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 with a Porridge & Puffs and Alta Adams collaboration and a live discussion hosted by L.A. Times Food columnist Ben Mims. The three-course soul food meets Asian inspired comfort food dinner will include black sesame vichyssoise, beef -oxtail-stuffed scallion rice-cassava crepes, and brown-butter mochi. Tickets, $160 per person, can be purchased at eventbrite, and dinners will be available for pickup on the day of the scheduled event.