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New Bites and New Cocktails at Mohawk Bend + NITRO DREAMS

Post by Angela.

Generally, I am a pretty unrepentant omnivore. I love meat without shame or apology, and in the past, I may or may not have stabbed a man for the last piece of pork belly on a plate. But recently, when Los Angeles became the largest city in the country to officially endorse Meatless Mondays (a movement encouraging people to cut meat out of their diets at least one day a week), I surprised myself at how supportive I was of the City Council's resolution. These feelings are in large part due to a recent visit to Mohawk Bend to sample the new seasonal food and drink items.

First, let's talk about the cocktails. Normally, when we go to Mohawk Bend, we get awfully tunnel-visioned about the rows of amazing beers on tap. But the new seasonal cocktails are definitely worth checking out. If I could, I would swap out the typical Thanksgiving candied yams for My Yummy Yammy, with Crusoe Organic Silver rum, yam puree, and brown sugar (below left, $12) every year. It's lighter than you would expect from something made with puree, and the toasted marshmellow that tops the concoction is a perfect finishing touch. The  Drunkin’ Punkin’, with Tru Organic Vanilla vodka, FruitLab Orange liqueur, grenadine, and house made pumpkin pie foam (below center, $12, not vegan) is intensely pumpkin-y but not sickly sweet. And for those with a taste for more herby cocktails, the Thyme Bomb, with #209 gin, thyme, lemon juice, apple cider (below right, $11) is right up your alley.



Now, we've tried and liked Chef Mike Garber's food before at brunch. But this time, we put his vegan cheffing to the test, making our meal entirely out of the myriad meat-free items on the menu. And Garbs hit it out of the park.

It's almost a no-brainer that the salads were fantastic. The endive salad, with kale, pickled Asian pears, red quinoa, pomegranate, candied pecans, and a persimmon vinaigrette (below, $11) is a lovely little plate of autumn, sweet and crunchy.



The beet salad (below, $10) is great as well, hitting you with both roasted and pickled versions of the beloved root veggie scattered across a bed of arugula lightly drizzled with pickled beet vinaigrette. Slivers of apple and hazelnuts add a nice textural contrast, and a smear of earthy, creamy sunchoke puree ties the whole thing together.



The buffalo-style cauliflower with "blue cheese" dressing is Mohawk Bend's most popular item for a very, very good reason. I am not exaggerating when I say I prefer this completely vegan version to the chicken original. Chef Garber's dish hits all the notes of the classic football food - the cauliflower is as meaty as you could imagine a vegetable could be, with a nice, crisp exterior, and the sauce is tangy with just a little bit of heat - without any of the grease and heaviness of fried chicken.



Less mind-blowing, but very solid are the fingerling potatoes with a bright, herby Spanish salsa verde (below left, $7). You can add bleu cheese and bacon to the Brussels sprouts if you want, but for us, the vegan version with apples and almonds (below right, $8) was plenty flavorful.



I was honestly surprised at how much I liked the jerk pizza (below) - the riot of ingredients (sweet potatoes, roasted peppers, pineapple, black beans, and fried plantains) seems like it won't work. But the chaotic combination tastes delicious, especially with Garber's jerk sauce bringing both substantial heat and flavor to the party. 



Even better, in my opinion, is the asparagus and potato pizza (below, in mini size, $8). It throws together some of my all-time favorite ingredients - asparagus, roasted garlic, and leeks - adds slices of crispy potato and caramelized onion, and tops it off with a sprinkling of nutty-tasting nutritional yeast. If this item ever falls off the menu, I will cry and stalk the appropriate parties until it is put back on.



And nowadays, on Thursday nights you can get a little show in addition to your dinner. Starting November 1, Mohawk Bend plays host to Ben Fernebok of NITRO DREAMS. Fernebok throws a bit of flair in as he makes tableside ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Less than 5 minutes after parking his cart at our table, he was placing bowls of wonderfully creamy mango (vegan) and caramel almond (not vegan) ice cream before us. And Fernebok and his cart of mystical goodness are available for catering gigs as well.



Listen, I'm never going to give up meat completely. It's delicious and I love it and you can't make me. BUT I personally see a lot of (environmental & health) benefits to cutting back on my animal consumption. Our Mohawk Bend visit inspired me, and for the last couple of weeks Mark and I have made a conscious effort to significantly cut back on our meat-eating - almost all of our home meals have been vegetarian/pescetarian, and even our meals out have been virtually meat-free.

So yeah, Los Angeles City Council, I'm on board with Meatless Mondays. Especially if I can spend them eating food as good as the vegetarian/vegan fare they're slinging at Mohawk Bend. 

Mohawk Bend - Echo Park
2141 West Sunset Boulevard  
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 483-2337
Twitter: @mohawkla

Hours: Monday-Friday, noon to 2:00a, Saturday, 9:30a-2:00a, Sunday, 9:30a-1:00a


Border Grill's Quinoa Fritters at Home (with Aji Limon Aioli)

*Post by Angela.

After our trip to Border Grill the other evening, there was one thing over which we couldn’t stop obsessing: those incredible quinoa fritters. Thank goodness chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are too nice to keep the recipe a secret – it's posted on their website, and appeared in the June issue of Bon Appétit along with a recipe for ají amarillo aioli (we had aji limon paste left over from our ceviche last month, so we swapped that in). These fritters are amazing, so good we made them two days in a row. This might be my new favorite quinoa recipe.



Ingredients for the aioli:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons ají limon chile paste (or less, or some other chile paste – it’s your world)
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

I made my own mayo with my man Alton Brown’s recipe, but obviously, that’s a step you can skip, as it can be a little fussy. But making mayo into aioli? Easiest thing in the world. I whisked the mayonnaise with the lime juice, chile paste, parsley, and salt, seasoned it to taste, then stashed it in the fridge to chill while I worked on the fritters.  



Ingredients for the fritters:
  • 2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup finely crumbled Cotija cheese (use feta if you can’t find Cotija, but try to find it!)
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Vegetable/canola/grapeseed oil for frying

First up? Toasting the quinoa. I heated a dry pan over medium high heat and toasted the quinoa until golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan to prevent scorching.



I added about 1 1/3 cups of water to the pan and brought it to a boil, then covered the pan and reduced the heat to a simmer, cooking until the quinoa was tender and the all the water was absorbed, about 12-14 minutes. Once it was done, I turned off the heat and left it alone (covered) for 15 minutes, then uncovered it and let it cool all the way down.

Once the quinoa was cool, I stirred in the flour, Cotija, salt and pepper. I added the minced scallions, parsley, egg, and egg yolk and mixed it up with my hands until a sort of soft dough had formed. Using two spoons, I formed the mixture into oval shapes (called a quenelle).



Using a large skillet, I heated over medium-high heat enough oil for a depth of about 1/2-inch. Working in batches, I fried the quenelles until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side, then transferred them with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. The quinoa quenelles are a little delicate to work with (before they are fried, they have a tendency to fall apart), so be gentle!



We dabbed the top of the fritters with the spicy aioli and devoured the entire plate within 10 minutes. Obviously, practically all fried things = wonderful tasting. But the quinoa adds so much texture and nutty flavor, and the Cotija cheese brings delicious saltiness. If you can’t make it to Border Grill for cocktails and eats, do yourself a favor and make these. You won’t be able to stop thinking about them.



Crispy Kale Salad with Peaches and Ricotta

*Post by Angela.

As much as I loved living in D.C., summer there was the absolute pits. Temperatures in the high 90s or higher, so much humidity that walking outside felt like moving through steamy hot damp towels, and mosquitos lurking in every dark corner. Summer in the District required coming up with dinners that required very little heat, particularly in my tiny apartment. 

In contrast, summer in southern California is…well, much like the rest of the year here. In our little corner of WeHo, temperatures rarely reach above 85, and both humidity and mosquitos are pretty rare. While we tend to save hearty stews and heavier meals for the winter, there isn’t the same need to avoid the oven/stove from June-September. Even so, old habits are hard to break, and during this summer season, I'm always on the lookout for meals that require little-to-no cooking time. This lightning quick, easy, and cheap crispy kale salad from Bon Appétit is a great example.




  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 medium peaches (or plums), halved, pitted and thinly sliced
  • About 1 lb kale leaves, rinsed and dried well, any large center stems removed
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta

First I whisked together 3 tbsp of the olive oil, the vinegar, the thyme and the honey, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I tossed the peaches into the vinaigrette and let them sit a bit while I prepped the kale.



I preheated the broiler, then spread my kale leaves out on a couple of baking sheets. I brushed the kale with the remaining oil and sprinkled the leaves with salt. I broiled the kale until crispy and charred at the edges, about 4 minutes. If you have an outdoor grill, 1) I’m jealous, and 2) you can use it to crisp the kale.



To serve, I heaped the ricotta on our plates and seasoned it with a little salt and pepper.  I topped it with the crispy kale leaves and a few slices of peaches, and drizzled the whole thing with some of the vinaigrette. We really enjoyed the combination of creamy ricotta, salty, crisp kale and sweet peaches in that tart vinaigrette. With just a handful of ingredients and no more than 5 minutes of oven time, we had a meal I wish I could send back in time to my D.C. self.



Wheat Berries with Charred Onion and Kale

*Post by Angela.

“That is awesome.”

Mark had snuck in a taste of this finished wheat berries with charred onion and kale dish as I was cleaning up the kitchen before dinner. I was skeptical – I had picked the dish out of Bon Appetit because it looked easy, healthy and cheap (and it is all those things), but had not had particularly high hopes about it taste-wise. But that’s because I forgot a very simple food rule: a tiny bit of char can improve most everything.



  • 1 ½ cups wheat berries (available in bulk at Whole Foods)
  • 2 medium onions, halved, divided
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 packed cups)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

First, I threw the wheat berries in a saucepan with half of one of the onions, chopped up, the thyme sprigs, and 1 Tbsp. of the salt, then added enough water to cover everything by about 2 inches. I brought the mixture to a boil, then reduced the heat to medium and simmered until wheat berries are just tender but still firm to the bite, about 35-40 minutes. Once the grains were done, I drained the little water remaining, threw out the thyme sprigs and put the wheat berries in a large bowl to wait for the rest of the ingredients.



I sliced the remaining 3 onion halves crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, then charred them in our cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat (with 1 Tbsp. oil). As the onions cooked (about 6-8 minutes), I sprinkled the slices with salt and pepper. Once the onions had had a chance to char up a little, I transferred them to the bowl with wheat berries.



Using the same skillet, I heated up another tbsp of oil and cooked the kale in three batches, seasoning with salt and pepper as I went and adding more oil as needed.  It only took a minute or two for the leaves to start to char and crisp, at which point I added them to the bowl with the onions and wheat berries.



Finally, I drizzled the whole shebang with lemon juice and the remaining oil, tossed it all together and added just a bit of extra salt and pepper. This was so simple, yet so tasty, and surprisingly filling. In fact, we probably only took down a 1/3 of this, and ate the leftovers for the next day (with fried eggs on top!). The combination of slightly chewy wheat berries, sweet onions, and just barely cooked, bitter, crispy kale is indeed, awesome. That’ll teach me to doubt Mark.




*Post by Angela.


I'm thinking of adopting this, the name of a traditional Israeli poached egg dish, as my battle cry (in the event that I ever finally go into food-related battle). I saw this recipe for shakshuka back in the spring of 2010, and just never got around to it. Then last fall, I spotted this fantastic-looking Indian-spiced version of the dish from one of my favorite food bloggers and dear friend Shulie over at Food Wanderings. Even then, it took me several months to work it into the dinner rotation, and now it’s taken up a permanent slot. This dish is the epitome of comforting and tasty, and is really cheap and relatively healthy as well.



  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • Salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Crusty bread (or pita bread)

First, I heated the oil in my cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. It’s a 12-inch skillet, I think, which was just big enough – you need enough space so that each egg will have some room to spread out. I added the jalapeños and onion and cooked, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. I threw in my mountain of garlic along with the cumin and paprika and cooked just a couple minutes more.



I  dumped the can of tomatoes into a medium bowl and crushed them up with my hands, then added them (along with all the liquid) to skillet along with 1/2 cup of water. I brought it up to a boil, then reduced the heat to medium to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce had thickened a little bit, about 15 minutes. At this point, I threw in a little salt to taste.



I carefully cracked the eggs over sauce, trying to make sure that they were evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Keeping the sauce at a gentle simmer, I covered the skillet and cooked until the whites were just set, about 6-8 minutes. Then I sprinkled the shakshuka with feta and parsley.



To serve, I spooned the sauce and a couple of yolks over slices of warm crusty bread. The tomato sauce is fantastic, hearty and spicy, and the yolks are unsurprisingly delicious sopped up with bread. My only quibble?  Not enough. The next time I made shakshuka, I doubled the sauce. And we still managed to polish it off.

Shakshuka! A powerful weapon to have in your food arsenal, for sure.