I love to cook.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite foods: All sandwiches, pozole, pad thai, turkey mole, sushi, cheese, roasted potatoes, all pasta, mandarin oranges, bread, asparagus, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, parmesan chicken topped with a green salad, my dad's Mexican rice and enchilladas.
  • Last bite on earth: Fettucini with butter, cracked black pepper, and lots of Parmesan. Also, maybe some homemade bread for good measure.

Latest Comments

ATTENTION all you beautiful foodie-type people: pumpkin muffins

There is an amazing recipe in the Baked Explorations cookbook by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Seriously, foodgasms are guaranteed. I've converted several people into pumpkin lovers because of these things.

Technically they're pumpkin cheddar muffins that have cayenne pepper and brown sugar in them, which makes them sweet and savory. They're topped with extra cheddar and toasted pepitas, which gives them a killer crunch. If you're interested in the recipe, let me know and I'll post it. I'm not sure if you can find it online, so I may have to type it up.

Cuban black beans recipes

I'm not sure how authentic my recipe is, but I think I make really good black beans.

My process is similar to making pinto beans: Fry up some garlic in oil, add the black beans, toss them in the oil, and add water to cover. In the pot, I throw in two bay leaves, a whole onion cut into chunks, and I think this is the key to black beans, even in cuban restaurants: You have to throw in some epazote, which is an herb also known as "Mexican tea." It's hard to describe the flavor, but it lends something really special to the beans.

When the beans have reached the desired doneness, I drain them, reserving the bean cooking liquid and picking out the onion chunks. While they drain, I add some manteca to a pan and let it melt and get very hot. Then, I throw in the beans and begin mashing them a bit while slowly adding some of the cooking liquid back into the refrying beans until they've reached the consistency I like. Some people like them really soupy, I don't. You have to keep in mind that the beans will continue to soak up the liquid, so you have to add more than you think you'll need or else your beans will dry out once they've cooled or when you're reheating them the next day. I probably end up using 2/3 of the bean cooking liquid.

That's it! That's how I make my black beans, I'd love to hear how others do it. I doubt my recipe is authentically Cuban. I'm Mexican and just sort of took the same approach to black beans as I do my refried pinto beans.

What's on Your Menu?

I actually have no idea how many people are coming to my house this year. I have a ton of work-related stuff to wrap up over the holiday, so I've chosen to make my life easier by purchasing both hor d'oeuvres and dessert- which is something I've never done before. I'm either getting smarter or getting lazier.

Hor d'oeuvres:
Potato balls from Portos and a cheese plate.

Huge, herb & lemon roasted turkey
Spinach gratin
Sweet potatoes with pecan streusal
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Mashed potatoes
Turkey gravy
Rye bread, italian sausage, and mushroom stuffing
And I might try Chuck Hughes' arugula, roasted cauliflower, and bacon salad

Apple pie, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cheesecake- all from Porto's ... because I'm a lazy ass this year.

Hey SE Staffers! Question!

@rasellers0: I wrote the SE Meet & Eat Column for six or seven months and for me, it really was as simple as sending a query letter to the submissions address on the site. Someone got back to me almost immediately and after brainstorming, it was determined I'd make a good fit interviewing West Coast-based chefs.

Well, it was that simple and it wasn't. I'm 26-years-old, went to school for journalism, and have been freelancing for almost six years. I usually work seven days a week, pitch stories to sites/magazines/newspapers constantly, and have about a million stories working at once. Freelancing is incredibly difficult, but being able to do what I've always wanted to do (and work my own hours) is more fulfilling than I can express in words.

My advice to you- and something I wish someone would have told me when I started out: Sometimes, you have to work for free. I don't mean an internship necessarily, but if you want to write about food and you don't have any experience writing, you should approach a food site you love (like SE) and ask if you can contribute. You may get paid nothing you may get paid very little, but at least you'll have clips to show for when you start pitching bigger features.

When I dropped out of college and moved away from my hometown of Los Angeles, I did an internship and began contributing to a collective blog. I didn't get paid, but I made a bunch of contacts at publishing houses and I got cookbooks for free, so it seemed worth it. After several dozen cookbook reviews (and other clips I'd amassed over time), I was able to start pitching food-related pitches to magazines. Long story short, it really is worth it to work for free sometimes. The experience, clips, and free swag really helps.

FYI - Pioneer Woman will have a program on Food Network

Though I'm not a fan or Pioneer Woman and stopped watching Food Network ages ago, it's hard to take a majority of these comments seriously. You have to wonder why people are quick to be so mean and hateful online. Saria in particular really illustrated why I avoid the Talk section these days:

"Jealousy? Really? I think her kids are rather average-looking, never gotten the swooning over her husband, and I certainly have nothing to envy Ree Drummond in the looks department (no, seriously, I'm way way hotter ;))." You attacked her kids, her husband, tried to convince the world of how physically attractive you are, and then finished it off with a smiley face, really?

The Food Network doesn't produce quality programming, that obviously stopped being the goal a long time ago. For every one of us who dislikes the Pioneer Woman or Sandra Lee or whoever, there have to be at least 15 who adore them or FN wouldn't keep doling out contracts to new "home cooks" and renewing the contracts of their mainstays.

Is the Customer Always Right?

Thanks, dbcurrie! Work really picked up for me recently and now I hate sitting at my computer and avoid it unless I have to, which seriously cut down on my Serious Eats time.

Favorite food-related memoirs? (And ones to avoid)

A while back I reviewed Trail of Crumbs by Kim Sunee and I really loved it. She's a great writer and I was surprised that the book never really took off. I would avoid Cleaving by Julie Powell. She may have struck gold with Julie and Julia, but she followed it up with the most horrible, self-obsessed cookbook/memoir ever.

Pasta dinner party need sides....

My boyfriend's favorite meal of all time is fettuccine alfredo with a side of sautéed mushrooms (lots of garlic, thyme, and butter) and roasted cauliflower and broccoli. He requests this meal every time he chooses what's for dinner and though I give him crap for being so predicatable, there's something about all of these flavors that really go together. If you're doing anything with homemade alfredo, maybe you should consider it?

Gift Guide: Food-Related Graphic T-Shirts

This is a shameful admission, but I'm a 25-year-old woman who shops at a website called Girz Lyfe (yes, that's how they spell it), which specializes in cutesy, food related crap that I'm entirely too old to be wearing. It's so bad that my nices, ages 6 and 7, often mistake the stuff I buy for presents intended for them.

Maybe I should just start wearing food-related tees because God knows I'm too old for strawberry shortcake earbuds, peanut butter and jelly necklaces, and donut rings.

The 12 Days of Dumpling in a Halloween Costume: Pumpkin

Dumpling looks like he's got some junk in the trunk ... or just a really stubby tail.

"I only have 1 item. Can I sneak ahead of you?"

I rarely ever stop at a grocery store for just a thing or two, but when I do I'd never ask someone if I could go in front of them. I don't want to inconvenience anyone and I think I'd probably be too shy to ask anyhow.

Every two weeks I do major grocery shopping all over town and I'm always the one with the huge, overcrowded cart. If someone is behind me and they're holding a pack of napkins or diapers or something, I always ask if they'd like to go ahead of me. It just seems like the polite thing to do.

The Food Lab's Top 6 Food Myths

This article made me very happy, especially because I've noticed some of these things to not be true and yet I see chefs on television saying these things as if they're fact. For example, Bobby Flay's always talking about just flipping the burger once and Lydia Bastianich always says that salting the beans will make them tough and anything less than a ridiculous amount of water will make your pasta cook incorrectly and stick together.

Brown Gravy

Saute some garlic, a bit of finely diced onion, and some fresh thyme in pan drippings, add a bit of flour and cook the roux until it's light brown and smells nutty, add good beef stock (preferably homemade), whisk while it thickens. Towards the end I season with salt and pepper and a few dashes of worcheshire. This is how my grandpa's always made it. Boobird's sounds good, too. It's like red eye gravy, isn't it?

Favorite Music for Dinner Party / Potluck

Right now I'm completely obsessed with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It's just completely joyful music. Check out when they played their beautiful song "Home" on Letterman:

What IS The Best Tip, Trick, Recipe etc You've Gotten At SE?

I could eat pasta every day of my life, so any pasta recipe featured on Serious Eats is a blessing. That being said, the BEST things I've gotten from Serious Eats are Rick Bayless' recipe for Enchiladas Especiales Tacuba Style (which I make about twice a month) and The Crisper Whisperer's Jícama, Black Bean, and Corn Salad (which I make about four times a month).

5 Ways to Celebrate Fall with Chocolate

I actually think Mexican hot chocolate is the perfect fall drink. It's oh-so-chocolatey, but it has that nice little kick from warm spices like cinnamon.

This belly would burst

I have the same problem. I don't even particularly like baking, but I like being able to do something nice for my dad and great uncle so I bake something each week and get stuck with the leftovers. I give things to neighbors and friends, but perhaps since you're new to the area maybe you can mail your goodies to family and friends in other areas. My boyfriend often benefits from my baking leftovers and he always seems more than happy to get brownies, breads, and cookies in the mail.

Fall foods, yes, but. . .

I really love a lot of the food you requested we not mention, but I'm also ready for Persimmons to show up at the farmer's market. I had my first one last year and couldn't get over how sweet and delicious they are. I'm also looking forward to figs. My dad planted a fig tree in his backyard for me and it's already giving off fruit. They're the green kind though and I'm pretty excited to find brown turkey figs at the farmer's market, they're my favorite.

Fall is my favorite season, it makes me so happy and I find mysefl using certain incredients around this time of year that I don't usually use, like fresh sage and woody herbs like rosemary. As someone else mentioned, sweet potatoes are really great this time of year, but I only like them in savory applications liked stuffed in ravioli.

Your last dinner party menu?

My last major dinner party was basically a BBQ for Father's Day. There were maybe 15 people over of various ages, with the youngest being four-years-old.

The party featured:

- Grilled carne asada and pollo preparado (marinated by the local Mexican market)
- Grilled corn done up "Mexican style" with cilantro lime butter and a sprinkling of cotija cheese
- A Serious Eats recipe from the Crisper Whisperer for black bean, corn, and jicama salad with cumin vinaigrette
- Homemade tortillas
- Beans refried in lard
- Rice
- Homemade tortilla chips
- Guacamole
- Pico de gallo salsa, roasted poblano salsa, lots of other salsas

My cousins picked up dessert (also from the local Mexican market) because we all suck at baking. They got a glazed fruit-topped cheese cake and a glazed fruit-topped chocolate cake.

Drinks included various Mexican beers, Jarritos, and bottled water. I was going to make jamaica to drink, but after prepping for the party for two days I stopped caring.

Poll: Are These Dishes Played Out?

I really hate the idea of food trends or certain foods being "played out" or passé. I think it reeks of food snobbery. I mean, good food will always be good food, no matter what asshole food writer deems so last year. When the hoopla dies down about chimmicurri sauce or mole or kimchi or whatever ethnic ingredient being given its 15 minutes of fame, I will still eat those things because they will still be good.

Anthony Bourdain On Culinary School

I think Peechie brings up a good point. I'm twenty-five, write about food often, and have really been wondering if I should give up freelance writing and head into the food world. I think I'm at a point where it's now or never, but I always figured cooking schools were a sham and I'm not willing to put myself in debt.

But what about culinary arts programs at community colleges? Has anyone attended one, is it worth the trouble? Here in CA these classes can basically be taken for free if you apply for the Governor's Waiver, but I don't know if I should take time away from making a living at writing to pursue something that might not be all that beneficial.

To someone important at Dominos

My line of thinking is: What kind of "side of marinara" did you expect for a $5.99 pizza?

Zucchini Blossoms

I have had them stuffed and fried and fried plainly, but was hoping for something different. After reading your posts, I'm now hungry for fried blossoms so that's what I'll do!

Thanks for the convincing!