Mama's Gotta Bake http://mamasgottabake.com she's bad, she's bold…and she likes sugar Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:45:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Rosemary Roasted Potatoes http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/07/09/rosemary-roasted-potatoes/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/07/09/rosemary-roasted-potatoes/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 17:30:16 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7810 I seem to find inspiration in the strangest places. I was asked by a friend of mine who is a caterer If I would help her cater a large 50th birthday party. We needed to come up with several deliciously good, one-bite appetizers. As I sat at my kitchen table munching a bag of sour […]

The post Rosemary Roasted Potatoes appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

I seem to find inspiration in the strangest places.

I was asked by a friend of mine who is a caterer If I would help her cater a large 50th birthday party. We needed to come up with several deliciously good, one-bite appetizers. As I sat at my kitchen table munching a bag of sour cream and onion flavored potato chips that my son had left in the pantry , I had begun pulling out an array of cook books looking for some brilliant ideas for this party.

Half-way through this bag of terribly fattening chips it hit me what a great combination potatoes and sour cream and onion is.  I make these Rosemary Roasted Potatoes all the time, especially for our Thanksgiving dinner, but for this one-bite appetizer I decided to add a flavorful Roasted Onion Crema dipping sauce.

I have found that the Peewee Dutch Yellow Potatoes from Melissa’s Produce work best for this dish, but if you don’t have access to this product Yukon Gold’s are also a good choice.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema 

Print Friendly

Sliced Onions for Roasted Onion Crema

Sliced Onions for Roasted Onion Crema

Mama’s Tips

You can use “spears” of rosemary to act as a toothpick for the potatoes.  Just pull off an inch or two of the rosemary leaves and push the branch part into the potato.

When roasting vegetables, make sure that they are all the same thickness and size to insure even roasting. Smaller pieces may burn, and large ones may not cook all the way through.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Onion Crema

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Recipe: Easy 

The post Rosemary Roasted Potatoes appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/07/09/rosemary-roasted-potatoes/feed/ 20
Panzanella Salad http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/07/01/panzanella-salad/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/07/01/panzanella-salad/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 18:05:57 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7700   I’m sure many of you are faced with the same harrowing dilemma that plagues my family week after week. You go to the market and buy one of those four-foot long French baguettes for dinner, everybody has a piece, and now you’re left with three and a half feet of bread and no clue […]

The post Panzanella Salad appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

 

I’m sure many of you are faced with the same harrowing dilemma that plagues my family week after week. You go to the market and buy one of those four-foot long French baguettes for dinner, everybody has a piece, and now you’re left with three and a half feet of bread and no clue what to do with it.

My solution to this age-old problem is the Panzanella Salad.  Traditionally a Panzanella Salad is a rustic Italian salad made from tomatoes, onion, and stale bread. I personally like  to add crisp Romaine lettuce and cucumbers to mine. But the best part of the salad is the seasoned and toasted cubes of bread that soak of the dressing, and make this dish taste more like a fresh tomato sandwich, than a tomato salad.

Summer is really the time when tomatoes are at their peak, so I urge you to give this salad a try for your 4th of July barbecue, or for a quick summer’s night supper.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad 

Print Friendly

Brush bread with olive oil and toss with herbs

Brush bread with olive oil and toss with herbs

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Mama’s Tips: 

When toasting the bread cubes, don’t toast them too much so that they’re brown and more like croutons. You still want them to have a little bread-like softness to them.

To de-seed the cucumber: slice the cucumber in half length-wise and with the tip of a spoon run it down the length of the cucumber removing all the seeds.

Here’s a nice little tutorial for cutting a “chiffonade” of basil.

Mini Panzanella Salad

Mini Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

Recipe: Easy

The post Panzanella Salad appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/07/01/panzanella-salad/feed/ 19
Grilled Shrimp Cocktail http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/24/grilled-shrimp-cocktail/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/24/grilled-shrimp-cocktail/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:47:20 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7681 It’s my baby’s birthday on July 3rd. Okay, so my baby is 26 and six-feet tall, but he’s still my baby. Every year we celebrate his July 3rd birthday with a backyard barbecue, then we bring the whole gang back the very next day to celebrate July 4th with an entirely different barbecue. Yes, we’re […]

The post Grilled Shrimp Cocktail appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

It’s my baby’s birthday on July 3rd. Okay, so my baby is 26 and six-feet tall, but he’s still my baby. Every year we celebrate his July 3rd birthday with a backyard barbecue, then we bring the whole gang back the very next day to celebrate July 4th with an entirely different barbecue. Yes, we’re barbecue obsessed.

My baby, or as I refer to him in this blog as “the chef”, has requested shrimp cocktail on his birthday menu. I am not a fan of boiled shrimp, personally I think it’s a bit of an insult to the shrimp. I’m sure they much prefer to be served grilled. Grilling just brings out their natural sweetness.

Then of course there is the cocktail sauce.  Since we don’t want to offend the shrimp in any way, it is mandatory that you prepare the cocktail sauce fresh. Serving bottled cocktail sauce to these glorious shrimp is a real slap in the face, to the shrimp I mean.

And just because it’s so darn fun, I’m going to serve each shrimp in it’s own shot glass with a little spritz of lemon and it’s own personal dollop of cocktail sauce. Tell me what you’re grilling this July 4th!

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail 

Print Friendly

Marinated Shrimp

Marinated Shrimp

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Mama’s Tips: 

When grilling your shrimp on long wooden skewers, soak the skewers submerged in water for at least 30 minutes (or overnight) so that they will not burn on the barbecue.

I rub my grill with a paper towel dipped in oil so that my shrimp will not stick to the grill. Plus it makes it easier to clean the grill. Home Depot told me so.

Cook the shrimp just til they are no longer translucent, a minute longer and they will be dried out. That could make you very unpopular.

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

Recipe: Easy

The post Grilled Shrimp Cocktail appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/24/grilled-shrimp-cocktail/feed/ 43
Strawberry Aqua Fresca http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/16/strawberry-aqua-fresca/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/16/strawberry-aqua-fresca/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:34:39 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7600   For Pete’s sake, I am obsessed with the Aqua Fresca. What is it you may ask. Well guys, it’s a drink popular in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean, and it’s simple, and refreshing and so darn easy to make. Aqua Fresca is basically sugar, water and fresh fruit, and it’s all I drink all […]

The post Strawberry Aqua Fresca appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

 

For Pete’s sake, I am obsessed with the Aqua Fresca. What is it you may ask. Well guys, it’s a drink popular in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean, and it’s simple, and refreshing and so darn easy to make. Aqua Fresca is basically sugar, water and fresh fruit, and it’s all I drink all summer long.

When entertaining friends in the backyard I like to make these with fresh pineapple, watermelon, cucumber, or if I wanna get funky I might even use some hibiscus. The key to the perfect Agua Fresca is to serve it over a lot of ice. And if you can, get those cute little, striped straws because they just liven things up!

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca 

Print Friendly

Simple Syrup Infused with Vanilla and Thyme

Simple Syrup infused with Vanilla and Thyme

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Mama’s Tips:

I don’t wash my berries until I am ready to use them as water will make them grow moldy quicker.  To “hull” the strawberries, I gently pull off the green, leafy top and then with the tip of a sharp pairing knife, I cut out the white core moving in a circular motion around the top of the strawberry, and discard the white part. There is a tool that you can use if you hull large quantities of strawberries on a regular basis, but I have never tried it.

Look in your cupboards and find some creative or unusual containers to serve the drinks in.

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Strawberry Aqua Fresca

Recipe: Easy 

The post Strawberry Aqua Fresca appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/16/strawberry-aqua-fresca/feed/ 38
Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/09/pretzel-and-potato-chip-cookies/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/09/pretzel-and-potato-chip-cookies/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 18:44:46 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7635   One of the things I look forward to the most in my life, are the weekly visits from son #1, “the chef”.  He’s a hard working guy who works 5 to 6 days a week, 14+ hours a day. So I have come to cherish that hour a week he’ll come and sit at […]

The post Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

 

One of the things I look forward to the most in my life, are the weekly visits from son #1, “the chef”.  He’s a hard working guy who works 5 to 6 days a week, 14+ hours a day. So I have come to cherish that hour a week he’ll come and sit at my kitchen table and just talk to me about what’s going on his life.

As we sit across the table from one another, there is usually some kind of snack or homemade treat plopped on a plate in between us, because serious talking must always be accompanied by food.  Last week I didn’t really have anything to put out, so I grabbed a bag of chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, some pretzels and potato chips. As we sat talking, we were sandwiching the two kinds of chips and the pretzels in between two large potato chips. We both kind of looked at each other and said damn, this is an amazing combination, bet it would make an awesome cookie!

I thought to myself, wow, how brilliant am I to have come up with this crazy-good flavor combination. Well, then I Googled it, and apparently thousands of other people have the same idea. So, I guess I’m not so brilliant. But you know what, I think you’re gonna really like these Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies.  You’ve got your sweet, your salty, and your crunchy all in one convenient cookie.

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Print Friendly

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Mama’s Tips:

I use an ice cream scoop to form my cookies. You want all the cookies to be the same size so that they will bake evenly.

If you can, get the “Kettle” chips as they are a sturdier chip. You don’t want the chips to get too pulverized or they won’t add crunch to the cookie.

Always add the chips, pretzels and potato chips last, and preferably mix these ingredients in by hand using a large spatula or wooden spoon.  Mix just until ingredients are incorporated.

You can take your butter and eggs out the night before or two hours before baking for room temperature ingredients.

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies

Recipe: Easy 

The post Pretzel and Potato Chip Cookies appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/06/09/pretzel-and-potato-chip-cookies/feed/ 56
Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/27/green-beans-shallots-pancetta/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/27/green-beans-shallots-pancetta/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 15:40:24 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7415   When it comes to cooking in our home, I am the perfect “wingman”.  When my son is at the house, I turn the reigns over to him because he is a professional chef and I cannot compete with his skill and expertise as well as his extensive food knowledge.  If my son is not […]

The post Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

 

When it comes to cooking in our home, I am the perfect “wingman”.  When my son is at the house, I turn the reigns over to him because he is a professional chef and I cannot compete with his skill and expertise as well as his extensive food knowledge.  If my son is not doing the cooking, then it’s my husband, who is as equally skilled and knowledgeable even though he has no formal training.

My son and husband are always in charge of the main course, and I love to watch them go head to head on what to prepare for the main dish, and how it should be prepared. My husband is very “old school” where as my son is displaying techniques he’s learned in the best kitchen’s in Los Angeles. It’s all very amusing.

So where do I fit in to all of this? I am the “queen of the side dish”. I really do excel in this position,  because there is never any limitation on how many sides I can prepare and just how creative I can get. One of my all-time faves in the world of side dishes is Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta. It’s easy, can partially be prepared in advance, and I never met anyone who didn’t love this dish. The combination of fresh green beans, savory caramelized shallots and crispy, salty pancetta with just a sprinkling of red pepper flakes is always a crowd pleaser.  Whenever I’m having company for dinner, these are always on the table.

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Thinly sliced shallots for Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Print Friendly

Caramelized Shallots

Caramelized Shallots for Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Mama’s Tips: 

Don’t crowd your pan with shallots. Overcrowding will cause the shallots to steam and take considerably longer to caramelize.

Don’t slice your shallots “too thin” as you can see they really reduce in size, and if they are too thin they will stick to the bottom of the pan.

Here is a great how-to on the best way to blanch your beans,. Remember, haricot vert is a thinner bean than regular string beans and will take a shorter time to blanch.

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

Recipe: Easy

The post Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/27/green-beans-shallots-pancetta/feed/ 40
Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans and Cranberries http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/20/blondies-chocolate-chips-pecans-cranberries/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/20/blondies-chocolate-chips-pecans-cranberries/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 15:10:24 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7482 Tonight is about combining two of my favorite things in life, Blondie Bars and “The Voice”. I am obsessed with NBC’s singing competition show “The Voice”. I love the concept, the talent and most of all the judges. It’s one of my guilty pleasures you could say. My friend Cindy had a contact at NBC, […]

The post Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans and Cranberries appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Blondies

Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans & Cranberries

Tonight is about combining two of my favorite things in life, Blondie Bars and “The Voice”. I am obsessed with NBC’s singing competition show “The Voice”. I love the concept, the talent and most of all the judges. It’s one of my guilty pleasures you could say.

My friend Cindy had a contact at NBC, and was able to get us in to last night’s show.  I have to say it’s extremely fascinating to see how a live show works. It really looks nothing like the final product you see on television. Her contact was nice enough to give a bunch of old broads a thrill, and let’s us sit in the judges chairs…the big, red ones that turn around when they hear an amazing voice. I’m pretending I’m Shakira.  Oh c’mon let me have some fun!

Anyway, tonight I’ve invited those same girls over to my house to watch “The Voice” finale. And for the finale you’ve gotta have treats, right. Which leads us to my other latest obsession;  Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans and Cranberries. What! You’re rolling your eyes at the addition of cranberries. You have to trust me on this. The cranberries add that little bit of tartness that combines perfectly with the crunch of the pecans and the richness of the chocolate chips. I guarantee, these will become your latest obsession too.

Blondies

Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans & Cranberries

Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans and Cranberries

Print Friendly
Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans and Cranberries

Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans and Cranberries

Mama’s Tips: 

When I bake “bar cookies”, like brownies or blondies, I like to line the pan with parchment.  I always have a couple rolls on hand so I’m never out of it. This way I can just lift the baked bars right out of the pan without anything sticking to it. It makes cutting the bars into cleanly cut squares so easy and professional looking.

IMG_1240

Recipe: Easy 

The post Blondies with Chocolate Chips, Pecans and Cranberries appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/20/blondies-chocolate-chips-pecans-cranberries/feed/ 49
Santa Barbara Public Market http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/08/santa-barbara-public-market/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/08/santa-barbara-public-market/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 16:49:58 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7300 This week my friend Lori came to visit here in Southern California from Ozark, Alabama which if you don’t know is 22 miles from Dothan, which is 30 miles from Enterprise, just to give you an idea. As I am the self-proclaimed Senior Vice President in charge of Tourism, it was my job to entertain […]

The post Santa Barbara Public Market appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Belcampo Meat Co.

Belcampo Meat Co.

This week my friend Lori came to visit here in Southern California from Ozark, Alabama which if you don’t know is 22 miles from Dothan, which is 30 miles from Enterprise, just to give you an idea.

As I am the self-proclaimed Senior Vice President in charge of Tourism, it was my job to entertain her with a classic California day of food, sun and more food. My friend Joni had told me about a new venue that had recently opened in Santa Barbara called the Santa Barbara Public Market.

The Pasta Shoppe

The Pasta Shoppe

Located on Victoria Street, right off of State Street, the heart and soul of downtown Santa Barbara’s retail center, this 22,000 square foot space is home to some of the area’s best purveyor’s of “handcrafted, regionally sourced and sustainably made foods”.

Rori's Artisanal Creamery

Rori’s Artisanal Creamery

For me this market is very reminiscent of my visits to The Ferry Building in San Francisco and Eataly in New York City.  So, the Santa Barbara Public Market may not be an original idea, but it’s certainly a good one, and one that I hope the community as well as tourists will embrace if it is to do well and thrive.

Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar

Chicken Lettuce Wraps at Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar

The market itself is open and bright, modern and industrial looking, making it for me a very welcoming space. Sunlight streams in from skylights overhead. Scattered throughout the marketplace is seating, so when you purchase your food there is ample space to sit and enjoy it comfortably.

Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar

Chicken Curry Soup at Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar

Everything you would need to prepare an elegant dinner party, to stock your fridge, or if you just need to grab a bite during your lunch break is under this one roof. There are 14 different purveyors offering everything from gourmet meats and seafood, to artisanal breads,  coffee, ice cream and homemade pasta.

Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar

Steak Salad at Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar

We stopped and had lunch at the Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar which was very tasty as you can see from the photos, and then we proceeded to the other businesses to take things home to share with our families. I, of course, had to buy the Orange/Chocolate Bread from the Crazy Good Bread Co. and I can confirm to you, that it was in fact, crazy good bread.

Crazy Good Bread

Crazy Good Bread

There’s already a pretty vibrant food scene in Santa Barbara with Olio e Limone being one of my favorites, and this is just one more option that will bring me back again and again. On this particular sunny afternoon, the marketplace was buzzing with shoppers and lots of positive energy.  Each shopkeeper was cheerily handing out samples and were more than willing to chat with you about their particular product.

Culture Counter at Santa Barbara Public Market

Culture Counter at Santa Barbara Public Market

I think they’ve done a spectacular job with this concept and I wish someone would bring an idea like this to the San Fernando Valley, cause we sure could use it.  I should also tell you that the market does have a parking lot in back of it  which in the summer may not be large enough to hold all of its customers, but there seems to be several public parking lots in the immediate area.

It was certainly a delightful way to spend several hours if good food is your hobby. And you know it’s mine, so…

Santa Barbara Public Market

Santa Barbara Public Market

 Santa Barbara Public Market – 38 West Victoria (at Chapala) Santa Barbara, CA 93101  (805) 770-7702   Open Daily from 7am – 10:30pm

 

The post Santa Barbara Public Market appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/08/santa-barbara-public-market/feed/ 20
Tropical Yogurt Parfait http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/02/tropical-yogurt-parfait/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/02/tropical-yogurt-parfait/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 16:10:01 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7267   There appears to be a slight misconception out there among my friends and associates that Mama only indulges in things likes cakes and cookies and all things made from sugar, butter and eggs.  And though that may be true to some extent, it should be noted that I am a devotee of fresh fruit […]

The post Tropical Yogurt Parfait appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Tropical Yogurt Parfait Shooters

Yogurt Parfait Shooters with Pineapple, Kiwi and Mango Puree

 

There appears to be a slight misconception out there among my friends and associates that Mama only indulges in things likes cakes and cookies and all things made from sugar, butter and eggs.  And though that may be true to some extent, it should be noted that I am a devotee of fresh fruit and vegetables. And, that the combination of tart yogurt and fresh fruit is probably one my all-time favorite breakfast combos.

For Mother’s Day I have invited an array of mother’s to my home for a brunch, and I plan to start the festivities off with Tropical Yogurt Parfait Shooters. It’s a fresh and light way to start off the meal, and I think it will appeal to everyone.  These parfaits combine organic yogurt sweetened with a little honey, with fresh cut pineapple and kiwi, a smooth mango puree and are topped with some toasted coconut for an added crunch.

Tropical Yogurt Parfait Shooters

Tropical Yogurt Parfait

Tropical Yogurt Parfait 

Print Friendly

Makes 8 mini parfait shooters or 4 larger yogurt parfaits

Tropical Yogurt Parfait

Tropical Yogurt Parfait

Mama’s Tips:

You can prep all your ingredients in advance, and then assemble just before you’re ready to serve the parfaits.

Tropical Yogurt Parfait

Tropical Yogurt Parfait Shooters

DSC_0001

Recipe: Easy

The post Tropical Yogurt Parfait appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/05/02/tropical-yogurt-parfait/feed/ 30
Gracias Madre West Hollywood http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/04/27/gracias-madre-west-hollywood/ http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/04/27/gracias-madre-west-hollywood/#comments Sun, 27 Apr 2014 15:40:40 +0000 http://mamasgottabake.com/?p=7231 I know I recently stated in a previous post that I was unable to find great Mexican cuisine in Southern California, but I guess the food gods were smiling down on me. They led me to Gracias Madre which is tucked away on LA’s tony Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. I was in the neighborhood […]

The post Gracias Madre West Hollywood appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
Gracias Madre in West Hollywood

Gracias Madre in West Hollywood

I know I recently stated in a previous post that I was unable to find great Mexican cuisine in Southern California, but I guess the food gods were smiling down on me. They led me to Gracias Madre which is tucked away on LA’s tony Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. I was in the neighborhood with friends on business, and on a recent weekday we decided to stop in for a bite to eat.  And I’m glad we did.

Fresh Pineapple, Celery, Cilantro Juice & Ice Tea at Gracias Madre

Fresh Pineapple, Celery, Cilantro Juice & Ice Tea at Gracias Madre

Their menu is vegan and 100% organic. But don’t let the word vegan scare you. It doesn’t mean less flavor or weird textures. On the contrary, Chef Chandra Gilbert created a great array of dishes packed with fresh Mexican flavors using locally sourced organic ingredients with nary a meat product in sight.

As it was a typically warm Southern California afternoon, we started the meal off with their fresh pressed juice. I can highly recommend the fresh pineapple, celery and cilantro juice ($6).  It’s a light refreshing blend, not overly sweet and definitely thirst-quenching.

The menu is small, but I kinda’ like that. My feeling is do a few things but do them right, and so they do. We started off with the Brussels Sprouts with lemon, cilantro and almond ($10) and the Cauliflower with cashew nacho cheese ($10).  It seems everyone’s serving brussels sprouts now, but these guys nailed it. With veggies this good, you won’t give meat a second thought.

Flash-fried Cauliflower with Cashew Nacho Cheese

Flash-fried Cauliflower with Cashew Nacho Cheese

Flash-fried Brussel Sprouts with Lemon, Cilantro and Almond

Flash-fried Brussels Sprouts with Lemon, Cilantro and Almond

We liked the dishes we saw on the table of the young hipsters sitting next to us, so we ordered the Flautas with sweet potatoes and caramelized onions ($10), the Potato and Chorizo Quesadilla ($10) and the Avocado and Coconut Bacon Torta ($11).  Everything was extremely fresh and showed a respect for the ingredients.  They’re not heavy-handed on the spices, yet all the dishes had a nice little kick to it. Shame on me for thinking El Torito was Mexican food.

Flautas with Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

Flautas with Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Onions

Potato and Chorizo Quesadillas

Potato and Chorizo Quesadillas

Torta with Avocado, Coconut Bacon, Beans and Chipotle Aioli

Torta with Avocado, Coconut Bacon, Beans and Chipotle Aioli

Okay I thought, you nailed it with the veggies, but the real test would be show me a great vegan dessert.  We tried two of their six desserts. They’ve got a Strawberry Cheesecake with fresh strawberry sauce and orange cream ($9) which unfortunately fell into that strange texture category , but none-the-less we had no problem finishing, and a Gluten-free Brownie with Salted Caramel Sauce and Coconut Bacon ($9).  Vegan, schmegan, the brownie was great, and we literally licked the sauce off the plate. Yeah, I did that.

Gluten-free Brownie

Gluten-free Brownie with Salted Caramel Sauce and Coconut Bacon

Strawberry Cheesecake with Orange Cream

Strawberry Cheesecake with Orange Cream

The restaurant itself is warm and welcoming.  The space, during the day, is flooded with lots of natural light, rough-hewn wood floors and artisanal Mexican tiles.  It’s actually a perfect complement to the food in keeping with that organic theme.  Since the weather here is good 364 days a year, they have a stunning brick patio with a fireplace, trees and white umbrellas, making the meal feel like a mini vacation.

Executive Chef Chandra Gilbert

Executive Chef Chandra Gilbert, Gracias Madre West Hollywood

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood

The beautiful outdoor garden at Gracias Madre

The beautiful outdoor garden at Gracias Madre

The service was friendly, but coulda’ been a teeny bit more efficient, but I still felt like they appreciated our business. We didn’t have a problem with parking either, there seemed to be plenty of metered parking on the streets.

Gracias Madre succeeds in paying homage to the fruits of Mother Earth, and to all the mothers who nurtured and fed us.

Gracias Madre,    8905 Melrose Avenue West Hollywood, CA 90069    (323) 978-2170

 

The post Gracias Madre West Hollywood appeared first on Mama's Gotta Bake.

]]>
http://mamasgottabake.com/2014/04/27/gracias-madre-west-hollywood/feed/ 25