Monday, November 30, 2009

End of an Era: The Premier of DomesticEsq

It's been about a year since LCG first premiered. I had no idea when I started this little experiment whether it would take, but over the year I became pleasantly surprised at the interest it generated as well as my enjoyment of blogging. Unfortunately, it became clear to me that this particular blog has run it's course. So I'm closing the doors on LawyerChefGirl and opening a window to the more ambitious, and hopefully more exciting blogging adventure that I've dubbed DomesticEsq.

Please check out and subscribe to my new blog,

And as always, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Free Concert: U2 at the Rose Bowl

Living above the Rose Bowl definitely has its perks. Not only do we receive a heads up once UCLA scores a touchdown when we hear the crowds roar 10 seconds before the tape delay airs the play on TV, but on occasion we're treated to the musical genius of large bands whose fan base can fill the near 100,000 seats. Last weekend U2 picked Pasadena to host the stop on its 360 Degrees Tour that it chose to broadcast to fans around the world. U2 streamed the show live on YouTube, making it the first band to do so in real time on the site. The concert also broke the record, which was previusly set by U2 in 1987 on its Joshua Tree Tour, to headline a concert with the highest attendance record in US history. And this was the concert the band chose to film its tour DVD. Needless to say the stage was set (literally) for a fantastic event. For a full week before the concert we heard workers building the stage and checking the lights and sound system at all hours of the night. About two hours before the show fans started to arrive and U2 performed its final sound check.
By 7:15, opener Black Eyed Peas took the stage, and rocked it, at one point calling on Slash to join them for a rendition of Sweet Child of Mine. By the time U2 took the stage, shortly after 9 pm, the Rose Bowl was so packed they had park the cars on the fairways of nearby Brookside Golf Course.
U2's massive stage towered above the stadium, and though we couldn't see directly inside, we had front row seats for the amazing light show, heard the songs perfectly, and ran into the house to catch the best moments on YouTube. U2 played old favorites, such as "Where The Streets Have No Name" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and recent hits including "No Line On The Horizon" and "Beautiful Day." My favorite song of the night was the touching performance of "Walk On," written by Bono for Myanmar's benevolent imprisoned human rights activist Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
To commemorate our first free Rose Bowl concert in the new house, we invited family and friends to join in the fun and listen to the show on our outdoor patio, complete with grilled burgers, beer, and wine. By the time the show ended at 11:30 after the 4th encore, our guests left satisfied, and we chuckled, grateful as we stumbled off to bed enjoying a healthy buzz while 100,000 concertgoers had to sit for an hour trying to exit the parking lot.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Adventure: Wyoming

Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, is a bittersweet one for me as it marks the day of my mother's death. Rather than wash myself once more in grief, this year I decided to atone for my sins in Wyoming. Autumn is the perfect time to visit the national parks of Grand Teton and Yellowstone, if you can make it before the weather turns icy. In autumn the leaves of the aspen trees turn yellow and red, the animals are all out in force trying to fatten up before the winter, and the air bathes your skin in electricty as you hike through the bush.
Having never visited a national park outside of California, I was surprised to learn that here, the animals are hunted with camera, not rifle. Amateur photographers and tourists scout for wildlife, then pull off to the side of the road, furiously set up their tripods and cameras with the mamajama lenses weighing at least 1/2 a ton, and snap away at the elk or moose or antelope far off in the distance with an intensity to rival any National Geographic pro. Even Big N and I got into the spirit, pulling over whenever we saw a stalled car and asking "whattya got" to tourists already in prime position. Grand Teton did not disappoint. In a span of less than two hours we feasted our eyes on moose, elk, antelope, and bear. Unfortunately, fires closed most of Yellowstone so we'll have to return there on another visit, after I upgrade my photographic equipment and actually learn how to take a decent wild beast shot. Consider it training for the african safari. Here are just a few shots that I hope capture even a glimmer of the majestic beauty of Wyoming.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

LCG Is An Auntie: Meet Daniel Paul

On Monday my adorable sister-in-law gave birth to Daniel Paul. Already a big boy at 8 lbs. 7 oz, Daniel arrived in style, behaving like an angel and making soft cooing noises when Auntie LCG held him for the first time, and showing off his perfectly developed lungs to the nurses when they poked and prodded him, counting up fingers and toes. Little Danny, clearly advanced for his tender age, seems to have no problem expressing his emotions. My older brother is already smitten with his first born, who in my humble opinion has his lips and eyes and his mother's nose and cheeks (at least for the time being). Watching my brother melt as he gazed into Danny's baby blue eyes brought tears to mine. As soon as I held him and caught the first trace of his baby smell, I felt an instant connection, and knew with certainty that I will love this child and protect him just as surely as if he were my own. The miracle of Daniel's birth reminded me, for the first time in a while, how powerful and unshakable is the bond of family.

Meet Daniel, day 5:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Twice as Nice: French Macarons Two Ways

On my last trip to Paris, I tasted a little piece of heaven in a bite sized cookie: the delectable French Macaron, not to be confused with the coconut macaroon. I love macarons so much I served them at my wedding (along with creme brulee) in lieu of traditional cake. The macarons for my wedding were created by local macaron artist, the very sweet (and very French), Paulette, who custom made them in the colors of my wedding.

I've also tried to master baking macarons so I can enjoy them regularly. But not being a pastry chef has left me somewhat disadvantaged. You see macarons are temperamental. Over mix your batter and they collapse. Fail to use the correct almond flour or proportions of egg whites, and the cookies come out dry and boring. Use the wrong baking sheet, or try silpat instead of parchment paper liners, and the cookies fail to crisp on the edges. In my quest to master macarons, there have been several failed attempts, and I was so disheartened that I stopped trying.

This weekend however, I was inspired to try again. My dear friend "Dolce" is getting married today. She was the one who picked up the macarons for my wedding from Paulette and hauled the delicate cookies all the way to Ojai; no easy feat. Last night I decided to repay the favor by baking macarons as a special treat for her before her wedding. Luck was on my side-- the macarons I created for Dolce, Green Tea with Coconut Cream and Toasted Coconut, were nearly perfect! The cookies came out crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and the coconut butter cream frosting was sweet, but tempered by the toasted coconut.

I was so pleased not to have messed them up, that I baked another flavor this afternoon to bring to my friends Sage and Turquoise's house for Turquoise's birthday tomorrow: Chocolate with Tahitian Vanilla Bean Frosting and Fresh Raspberries. (I brought the Tahitian vanilla beans back from Tahiti on my honeymoon). Recipes for both macarons follow, but make sure you put on your "patience" cap because speaking from experience, it may take you a few attempts to get these right. Trust me when I tell you however, they're worth the effort.

French Macarons:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
7/8 cup almond flour
1/2 cup egg whites (from about 3 large eggs)
2 tablespoons sugar
For green tea cookies, add 3 tablespoons matcha green tea powder, plus a few drops of green food coloring to the egg whites
For chocolate cookies, add 3 tablespoons of good quality cocoa powder

Sift confectioners' sugar, almond flour, and green tea or cocoa powder, set aside. Whip egg whites until frothy, and add sugar and food coloring if using; whip until stiff. Gently fold in the almond flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, until the batter looks like deflated marshmallows; be careful not to over mix. Place batter in pastry bag with large tip and pipe onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let sit for 20 minutes (to let the batter dry a bit so it develops a harder shell). Bake at 300 degrees for about 17 minutes.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
For coconut frosting, add 1 teaspoon imitation coconut flavoring
For vanilla bean frosting, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and scrape one full Tahitian vanilla bean

Using whip attachment, cream softened butter. Add confectioners' sugar and mix. Drizzle in flavorings and mix again until incorporated.

Extras: toasted coconut (toast sweetened flaked coconut in the oven until fragrant and crunchy), or fresh raspberries

Assemble macarons by spreading frosting and "extras" between two cookies. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Baby Shower Cupcakes: Just Nice To Look At

This weekend I threw a baby shower for my sister-in-law, who is due to give birth to my soon to be nephew in September. Though I would have loved to cater the entire shower, I quickly wised up and realized 30 people requires an entire week of serious preparation so I ordered deli meats for lunch and resigned myself to making just cupcakes for dessert. Making 3 dozen cupcakes only requires one long Friday night of work, totally doable.
I decided to make vanilla (recipe courtesy of Amy Sedaris, she's a hoot) and red velvet with cream cheese frosting. I also cheated a little and ordered baby themed sugar toppers on line.
The cupcakes were darling, and I displayed them on my cupcake tree at the shower (yes, a cupcake tree is a complete necessity in my book). I was convinced before the shower my perfectly decorated cupcakes would be the hit of the party. Unfortunately the attendees weren't quite as excited to eat cupcakes as I'd hoped and they didn't exactly fly off the tree. Perhaps I should have considered that my sister-in-law is a nurse and naturally all of her nursing buddies would ponder their health and their thighs before stuffing their faces with sugar and butter filled treats. My first hint was that most of them passed on the rye bread and pasta salad at the lunch buffet. Only 12 of the 36 were savored, leaving me to fill the to-go boxes I bought for just this contingency and force them on my family members. Next time I'll stick with something healthier, sugar free jello anyone?

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Dining in Montrose: Bashan

Always in search of a great new restaurant, on Friday I consulted my handy KCRW "Fringe Benefits" guide and found reference to Bashan Restaurant, located near the heart of hip Montrose area (but with an unfortunate Glendale zip). The ambiance at this 16-table bistro style restaurant was warm and casual, and staff were friendly and upbeat. Little did I expect that the executive chef, Nadav Bashan, would delight and amaze us with his impressive skills. Bashan got his start working for some of the greats before going out on his own two years ago, after impressive stints as sous chef at Michael's and Providence (see my other posts here and here re the delights of Providence). In his own restaurant he blends french techniques with asian and mediterranean influences.
We started off with a refreshing amuse bouche of papaya and watermelon aqua fresca
before proceeding to our starter of thinly sliced albacore with red and yellow beets and pickled enoki mushrooms. Impressive knife work on this dish, with light and tangy marriage of flavors between the beets and fish. For the main course I ordered New Bedrord Scallops with cauliflower puree, sea beans, soba noodles, crispy pancetta, peas and blood oranges. Big N ordered Alaskan Halibut with pappadew peppers stuffed with eggplant, tahini, sumac, and grilled mini eggplants.

Our plates were beautiful works of art with color and flair, while the fish was seasoned simply so it could shine all on its own. The sides were gracefully paired to personify the cleanness of the fish.

We paired our meal with a non-vintage Conde de Subirats Cava from Spain. Cava is a light sparkling wine without the pukey after taste of some Champagnes. It's fairly dry but crisp and slightly sweet, and paired extremely well with our albacore and fish dishes.

If you're not too aghast to leave behind the overinflated egos and overinjected faces of the Westside scene for a night, then head over to the Eastside for a relaxing walking tour of quaint downtown Montrose and a delightful dinner at Bashan. You'll be rewarded for near-Providence quality food without the annoying Westside crowds.