Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mariscos Chente

Went to the Mar Vista location of Mariscos Chente, knowing full well that there have been all kinds of changes in the Mariscos Chente world over the last year.

The much touted Sergio Peneulas is no longer at the Mar Vista location. You've got to go to Inglewood to experience his cooking. There is a lot of discussion and hand-wringing about this over at Chowhound. Street Gourmet LA does a super job summing up the saga.

I didn't have enough time for Inglewood, last week, yet I was craving ceviche and shrimp. I figured that I would probably not have a 10 experience, but I was willing to settle for an 8. I'll definitely be heading out to Inglewood some time soon to see for myself what all the brouhaha has been about.

I was perfectly delighted by my lunch with Mo in Mar Vista on a very rainy Wednesday, last week. The food was excellent. I'll confess that I feel like I should be filled with self doubt when I say that. Foodies all over Los Angeles will be thinking that I don't know my ass from my elbow. How could it possibly be excellent if Peneulas wasn't manning the kitchen?

So please, take all of this with a grain of salt. When I finally make it to Inglewood, I'll be able to tell you the real story.

For now, please know that the green salsa is addictive -- very citrusy with a heat that sneaks up and makes you feel like your lips are glowing.

The camarones aguachiles also deliver a satisfying slow burn. The raw shrimp are luscious, bathed in lime and jalapeno. My face was damp with perspiration. We didn't bother with the heads here. But Mo and I gobbled up the bodies with gusto.

We also decadently ordered the ceviche mixto, without thinking twice about all the raw seafood we'd be eating. At a point, with only two people eating, I think there can be too much raw seafood. The mountain of ceviche should probably have been shared with a couple of friends.

It is a well executed ceviche. There is no doubt about that. The shrimp and octopus is very fresh and still tastes a lot of the ocean. I think there was supposed to be crab in there, but I didn't notice it.

Our final dish was the camarones a la diabla -- not that devilish in the end. This may have been the mildest dish. But it was nice to have a bit of contrast with the rest of the meal. This dish was warm and rich -- very comforting on a rainy day. I especially enjoyed all the oily onions tossed about. The crunchy heads were good here, but we couldn't finish them all. Mo and I both hoped that we got at least a little credit for the ones we did eat!

I have a feeling that a larger group is the way to go at Mariscos Chente. There are a lot of dishes to try, but one can only eat so many shrimp in one sitting. I was starting to feel a bit freaked out when I realized just how many shrimp I had consumed. District 9 images began floating through my head.

When I eat a meal, I really need textural variety to keep me going. I think in this case, while the food was terrific, our ordering could have been better. I very much would like to try the chicharron de pescado, pescado zarandeado and some of the seafood soups.

If you live in the area or can't make it to Inglewood, I certainly would not turn my nose up at the Mar Vista Mariscos Chente. Not even close. It is very good.

Very soon, I'll be bringing you the other side of the story.

Mariscos Chente
4532 South Centinela Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chicken Liver Crostini

My friend Therese noticed that I shared her enthusiasm for David Tanis' A Platter of Figs, and came up with a smart idea. Why not share our excitement and efforts with friends? Have a Tanis potluck of sorts, focusing on one or two of the seasonal menus in his book.

Last Saturday night, after several months of emailing back and forth, seven of us, pots, bowls, and bottles in hand, showed up at Therese's home to feast together.

And feast, we did! I personally am racked with guilt over how much delicious food we ate. And for me, this was after an orgy of food the night before at Mozza's five course tasting of food from the Veneto (much more on this later, I promise!).

We gorged on Fish Soup with Mussels and Chorizo, Green Lasagne with Greens, Roasted Pepper Salad, and a sprightly green salad. And then finished up with not one, but two desserts -- Panna Cotta, and Italian Plum Cake. Everything was aptly executed, so the eating was very good, indeed.

And with a gang of teachers, poets, lexicographers, and curators -- foodies all --the conversation was lively and compelling. It looks like this may very well become a quarterly celebration for us.

To start, most of us enjoyed the rustic chicken liver crostini that I whipped up for the occasion. The exceptions being the one vegetarian and my liver-and-fowl-phobic husband, who could barely even glance at the dish, let alone dignify it with a taste.

In the end, it was his loss, because the flavor of the chicken liver was excellent. Tanis' recipe calls for either duck or chicken livers. I started out looking for duck livers, but when this became too much of a challenge, I switched to Jidori chicken livers from McCall's Meat & Fish Co. in Los Feliz. You shouldn't feel sheepish about using chicken. They tasted great.

This paté is not a refined, ultra-creamy, liver mousse filled with loads of heavy cream and butter. When I say rustic, I mean it. The texture is coarse and very country, due to the fact that there is no puréeing. The livers are hand chopped and then butter is mashed into them.

My initial reaction to this paté, was to put it down as too crude. In revisiting it at the party with a glass of Prosecco, and even the following morning, I definitely developed an appreciation for this humble liver preparation.

I do have deeper longings for a luxurious mousse with some cognac and perhaps more complexity of flavor, but this is an hors d'oeuvre that is good to know. The thyme, pancetta, and shallot assure a good flavor profile, and this is really quite simple to execute. Even the least experienced cook should have no qualms tackling this.

Tanis suggests toasting slices of baguette. I prefer slicing the baguette on the bias and very lightly brushing the slices on both sides with olive oil and then baking them in the oven at 400 degrees. The crostini seem to keep better that way.

In his fall menu, Another Early Autumn, Tanis serves the duck liver crostini with a roast Double Duck Breast with Baked Figs. My guess is that serving these all together would be a lesson in decadence that I would be very pleased to learn.

I hope to give the duck breasts a go, as soon as I can get A. out of the country.

Chicken (or Duck) Liver Toasts

1 1/2 pounds chicken (or duck) livers
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices pancetta, in small slivers
2 large shallots, finely diced
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
A splash of dry sherry or sherry vinegar (I used the vinegar)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 baguette, sliced and toasted

Trim the livers of any connective tissue or fat, and blot them dry on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the pancetta and shallots and cook until browned.

Raise the heat to high and add the livers. Stir and continue cooking. Shake the pan every so often. Cook until the livers are still pink in the center. Add the thyme and sherry, and turn the contents of the pan out onto a large cutting board. Let cool.

Chop the liver mixture into a rough paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and smash in the butter with a wooden spoon. Taste for salt and pepper. Cover tightly with plastic. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corn with Cherry Tomatoes & Aleppo Pepper

We don't need to have a big conversation about this one.

I've made a variation of this dish many times this summer. I think I've got it where I like it best. Quick, easy, substantial, and kind of exciting. This corn won't blow your mind, but I bet it will keep you wanting more.

I cut the kernels off the cob before cooking them. Some do this the other way around. I'm not sure that it matters.

Shallot is sautéed with a few shakes of aleppo pepper and maybe one and at most two of crushed red pepper flakes. The corn is added and tossed or stirred around a bit. I like the corn with a bit of color on it. There's more nuttiness with the sweet that way. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a wee bit more. Throw in a handful or two of chopped cilantro. Salt and pepper.


Lovely with salmon or really any protein for that matter. It's a very versatile side that would taste great with mint or basil. I've certainly used onion and garlic in lieu of shallot in a pinch.

The aleppo is key. I like the slightly fruity warmth it adds without too much heat. But you'll notice the addition of red pepper flakes, so I clearly I need a little.

Corn with Cherry Tomatoes & Aleppo Pepper

2 ears corn
15 or so cherry tomatoes or yellow pear tomatoes, halved
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful or more cilantro, roughly chopped

Cut the kernels off the cob, shaving down into a large bowl. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and sauté until almost translucent, 5 minutes. Add the corn, aleppo, and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the corn colors a bit, turning golden brown here and there. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and toss a few times or stir a few times, until the tomatoes soften slightly. You don't want them to turn to mush. Remove from the heat and mix in the cilantro. Serve.

Serves 3

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homemade Ricotta -- Fun with Buttermilk Part I

This ricotta recipe was another one of those too-good-to-be-true recipes swirling around the cuisinet a while back -- maybe 2005 or so -- just like the no-knead bread recipe. As with the no-knead bread, the ricotta recipe is absolutely not too-good-to-be-true.

I had forgotten all about it, until my mom handed over one of the Los Angeles Times' Food Sections that she saves for me. Right on the front page was Russ Parsons singing the praises of making your own ricotta.

Thank you, mom! Thank you, Russ!

If you love fresh cheese and/or amazing science projects, you should rush out to the market and buy the necessary 9 cups of whole milk, and buttermilk. I'm betting you have the salt and distilled white vinegar at home already.

That's all you need.

Oh! Don't forget the cheesecloth. Most of us have it in the kitchen on a regular basis. But if you've run out, you may end up lining your strainer with ripped up disposable tea bags (These are so handy for making tea and bouquets garnis!) like I did. Certainly, less classy.

Making your own ricotta is more of a snap than you can imagine, and it is so cool to watch your hot milk turn into curds. It is almost unbelievable. Oh, Science!

You heat the milk and buttermilk until they reach 185 degrees, and then you add the salt and the vinegar and remove the pot from the heat. As if by magic curds start to appear. The smell is warm and a bit sweet, reminiscent of bread baking, really. And ten minutes later, you are scooping out curds of your very own house-made ricotta. All that is left is the straining.

The straining is important, because the wet whey is all over your curds. You want to get rid of it, by straining the curds in a cheese-cloth lined strainer. The recipe says to drain the curds for five minutes. I did it for a little longer and even pressed on the curds a bit, to accelerate draining. Ever the impatient one.

Don't go overboard like I did! My ricotta was slightly drier than it should have been, although still mighty delicious.

The taste is so far superior to the Precious stuff that you get in the market. Certainly, the substantial improvement in flavor is well worth the little investment in time.

My parents, sister, Fe, and I hungrily ate it up on whole grain toast drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with salt. Another route would be to eat it with figs and honey -- deservedly a classic. Or stir it into hot pasta with some olive oil and your best homemade tomato sauce. Or make bruschetta with garlicky cherry tomatoes and basil.

It went quickly, so I plan on making another batch to stuff into tomatoes or as Russ Parsons suggests, roasted peppers.

Homemade Ricotta

9 cups whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons distilled vinegar

Heat the milk and buttermilk in a heavy pot over medium heat until it reaches 185 degrees. Add the salt and vinegar and stir. Remove the pot from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Line a large strainer with cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a bowl. Scoop the curds out of the pot using a perforated spoon or skimmer. Place the curds in the strainer. Repeat until all the curds have been removed. Discard the remaining liquid, called whey.

Drain the curds for 5 minutes. Transfer to a covered container to store in the refrigerator. Tastes best the first day, but is still good for 3 or 4 days after.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Linguine with Cauliflower, Lacinato Kale, Hazelnuts, and Raisins

Last week for Meat-Free Monday, I threw together a tasty pasta dish that was chock full of vegetables. It was much more appropriate than what we're having tonight -- leftover rack of lamb.

I'm doing my best!

I had been in the mood for something with cauliflower and mint, but I needed to somehow turn it into an entrée. I picked up a beautiful bunch of lacinato kale -- a.k.a. black kale, dinosaur kale, and cavalo nero -- at Cookbook, along with a head of garlic and a red onion. There was mint in the garden, hazelnuts and raisins in the pantry, and cauliflower in the refrigerator.

I was set.

There's not much to what I did, but the flavors mixed rather well. I'm a fan of toasted nuts with pasta. The contrast of the crunch of the nuts and the slipperiness of olive oil slicked noodles is satisfying.

Nuts and raisins are naturals with cauliflower and with kale, so I figured that marrying them all together would most likely work out well for the whole family. The garlic, red onion, and mint tied it all together. And to my mind, these ingredients would all feel a little bit naked without a healthy dose of crushed red pepper flakes.

I'll admit to you that my vegetarian cooking lacks some imagination. I never know how to put together a complete meal. I know how to make terrific vegetable sides and I can throw together a mean vegetarian pasta, but I need some help working out anything beyond this.

What do you folks do?

While I work on it, here's a recipe for my last-minute, thrown-together Linguine with Cauliflower, Lacinato Kale, Hazelnuts, and Raisins. Toasted bread crumbs would also be great in here, as would a few anchovies. The exact measurements are not important at all. A little more here, a little less there -- you'll still end up with a hearty and healthy meal.

Linguine with Cauliflower, Lacinato Kale, Hazelnuts, and Raisins

1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut or broken into smallish florets
1/2 a bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped into wide ribbons
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 or so cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plumped raisins
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/2 bunch chopped mint
1/2 pound linguine
Red pepper flakes
Lemon for squeezing over and/or a drizzle or two of white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano for passing at the table

Put a big pot of water up to boil.

When the water is boiling, salt it generously and put the linguine in the pot to cook.

Heat about 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and sauté. When the cauliflower starts to soften, add the sliced red onion and a pinch or two or three of the red pepper flakes. Sauté until the vegetables start to color a bit and are becoming tender. The cauliflower should retain a bite. Add the kale and the garlic and stir to encourage the kale to wilt. You may add a splash or two of the pasta cooking water to help with the process. Add the raisins and hazelnuts and stir to incorporate. Take about a quarter of a lemon and give it a good squeeze over the vegetables. Perhaps you'd like a drizzle of white wine vinegar as well. A hit or two of acid almost always helps! Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is done to your taste, drain it and add it to the skillet of vegetables. Add enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the pasta well. Shower with the chopped mint. Toss together and serve in soup plates with Parmigiano-Reggiano to grate over, if desired.

Serves 3 or 4, depending on hunger etc.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


I've heard a fair amount of buzz about the newish "modern Mediterranean" place called Momed on South Beverly in Beverly Hills. I finally got to check it out, when my kind mother took pity on grouchy, exhausted me and offered to wrangle Fe. for the day.

Freedom! Lunch and a movie with Mo!

Naturally, we opted to try Momed. Cough.

Momed is an inviting clean white, with near perfect lighting. You order at the counter from an array of delectable salads, dips, and olives. There are also a whole host of items to chose from on the menu. These include soups, mezze, pide (Turkish flat breads) with a wide selection of toppings -- soujuk sausage, piquillo peppers, haloumi and akawi cheeses.

The dips are what you would expect to see in any decent Mediterranean restaurant -- hummus, baba ganoush, muhammara, and tzatziki. We were particularly moved by the vivid, green avocado hummus, so that's how we started our meal. Ultra creamy and quite tasty, this hummus was quickly devoured with house-made pita.

And the menu doesn't stop there. There are pita hand rolls, the obligatory skewers, and bowls of rice pilaf and dirty potatoes (roasted Weiser Family Farms potatoes tossed in olive tapenade) to be had.

Mo and I took quite a while deciding, because there were so many tempting offerings. I wasn't sure about the skewers, especially the chicken. I thought it might be too ordinary, but when I saw the chicken skewers cooking on the grill in the open kitchen, I was justly swayed.

The yogurt marinade and the chickpea aioli, kept the chicken moist and exciting. With the skewers, you may choose two sides. We opted for some of the fantastic Muhammara that showcases roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate, and a cucumber salad. Sadly the cucumbers were completely forgettable -- the only low note of our meal.

I don't spend a lot of time in that part of town, now that my career in finance is on hold -- hopefully forever. But I'd be willing to trek across town to Momed for the duck "Shawarma" alone.

I wish I had a more evocative photograph to share. This one does not come close to doing this dish justice.

The house-made, whole wheat pita hand roll is stuffed with duck confit whose spices will instantly transport you to Morocco or some other exotic land. The aroma of cinnamon wafts over you, the moment your order is placed on the table. The oven-dried tomatoes and fig confit tucked within add moist acidity and sweetness that play gorgeously off the rich duck meat. Add a bit of garlic spread and bright green mache and you've got a new addition to Jonathan Gold's Essential 99.

At $14, this is not a cheap wrap, but its succulence (I don't use this word lightly!) makes it worth every penny.

There is a nice selection of beverages including beer and wine, yogurt drinks (my favorite!), smoothies and intriguing sodas. If you are so inclined, which we were not, there are some pretty fabulous looking desserts at a back counter that looks to serve all manner of espresso drinks, featuring Intellisgentsia beans, as well.

I wish there was a Momed East located in Echo Park, because I would enthusiastically sample most of the menu. Not only is the food good, but they deliver!

233 South Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Monday, October 04, 2010

Molly Stevens' Lamb Shanks Braised with Lentils & Curry

Just in time for the cooler, wetter weather -- braised lamb shanks! Soft sweet meat that falls off the bone and hearty, earthy Le Puy Lentils with the exotic perfumey flavor of Madras curry are perfectly suited for autumn. They're exactly what I crave.

As soon as the air begins to cool, I am ready for slow-cooked braises. I'm not sure any other method of cooking works as well to soothe all of your senses. No other method produces as succulent results, and certainly no other method is as forgiving and flexible.

I wasn't always a big fan of lamb. I liked it fine, but I didn't lust for it. Spending all these years with A. changed me -- in so may ways. But pertinent to this conversation -- he turned me into a full-fledged lamb lover.

I am so grateful!

Now that it is fall, I cannot encourage you enough to buy Molly Stevens' James Beard Award-winning, All About Braising. I can state with absolute certainty that this is my favorite cookbook. Stevens gets it right with every recipe. Her directions are easy to follow, extraordinarily thorough, and the results make you look like a brilliant chef.

Just as with all of her recipes, Lamb Shanks Braised with Lentils and Curry follows a strict set of steps. You begin by preparing the meat, and then you brown it. You follow by adding the aromatics, preparing the braise, braising the meat, and then braising the meat and lentils. Appropriately, you end with the finish. All of her recipes follow this map.

In the end my braise was not as soupy as she suggests it should be. It was still absolutely delicious and A.'s family was delighted with our meal. I will however, pay closer attention to how rapidly the braise is bubbling and adjust my oven accordingly in the future.

And there most definitely will be a future.

I served the lamb shanks with a big green salad dressed with an acidic, mustardy vinaigrette, a crusty baguette from Cookbook down the street, and a bottle of Syrah. I only wish I had this simmering away in the oven right now.

Lamb Shanks Braised with Lentils & Curry

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 lamb shanks (about 1 pound each)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion (about 8 ounces), coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Madras
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
2 bay leaves
1 cup canned whole peeled tomatoes (about 6), drained and chopped
2 cups lamb, veal, or chicken stock
1/2 pound Le Puy lentils (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges or red wine vinegar for serving (optional)

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Trim the lamb shanks, removing some of the excess fat (not all of it!)

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven (6 to 7 quart) over medium heat. When the oil is quite hot, brown the shanks in 2 batches, turning so as to brown all sides, approximately 15 minutes per batch. Transfer the shanks to a platter, but do not stack.

Leave only 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir to coat the vegetables with oil, and cook until slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in the curry powder, 1 tablespoon of the thyme and 1 bay leaf and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stock, and raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot. Boil for 4 to 5 minutes.

Place the lamb shanks in the pot, along with any juices that have accumulated. Overlap the shanks, if necessary. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cover with parchment paper, pressing down so that it almost touches the lamb and the edges extend about an inch over the sides of the pot. Put the lid on the pot, and cook in the lower third of the oven to braise at a gentle simmer. Check the braise after 15 minutes. If the liquid is braising violently, lower the temperature by 10 or 15 degrees. After 1 hour, turn the shanks over. Continue braising for another hour.

Place the lentils in a saucepan with 6 cups of water, the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of thyme, the remaining bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the lentils and transfer to a plate. Spread them out to stop the cooking and to cool. Set aside.

When the shanks have braised for 2 hours, transfer them to a platter. Skim the fat from the braising liquid. Stir in the lentils, and return the lamb shanks to the pot. Cover again with the parchment and lid. Place the pot in the oven and continue cooking for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the lamb is fork-tender and the lentils are soft but still intact.

Transfer the lamb shanks to a platter to catch any juices, an cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Place the lentils in a deep serving dish and rest the lamb shanks on top. Pour any accumulated juices over the shanks. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Pass lemon wedges or red wine vinegar at the table, if desired.

Serves 6

Friday, October 01, 2010

Mexican Spareribs with Salsa Fria

Do you have these moments when you're cooking, where complete insecurity washes over you? When, although you are an able cook, you have nagging questions at every step of a recipe?

I hate those moments. I feel so pathetic.

The other night I was planning to prepare another one of the easiest recipes I know, and I was so full of doubt that I had to call my mother four times with questions, and my sister, once. Maybe it's because Mexican spareribs and salsa fria are something they typically serve. Maybe I was just having an off day. Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to chat with them again that day (usually the case).

In any event, you'll be laughing when you see what a cinch this recipe is.

It was weird behavior, although not totally out of the ordinary for me. Without too much shame, I'll admit that every time I cook a tri-tip, I call my mom to confirm the temperature of the oven, the cooking time, and the internal temperature for medium rare.

What is wrong with me?

Yes, I hear you Mo. Where do I start?

I've mentioned before how terrific, Craig Claiborne's The New York Times International Cookbook is. Published in 1971 and organized by country, this cookbook helped to bring international cooking to the United States.

The recipes are still delicious, although some of the techniques may not be as authentic as we'd see in ethnic cookbooks published today. We keep advancing, thank goodness!

So whether these spareribs are authentically Mexican, I cannot say for certain. I do feel very confident stating that they are incredibly tasty and a snap to prepare, as is the salsa fria.

Some may turn up their noses at the use of canned tomatoes in this salsa, but don't be one of them! You simply toss all the ingredients into the food processor and give it a whiz. I recommend adding a handful or two of chopped cilantro to give the salsa an even brighter flavor. This salsa fria is as good on chips and tacos as it is on these ribs.

Fe and I were just out of town visiting, my wonderful Mother-in-law, Dolly, in Washington state. We left poor A. at home, as sick as a dog. He devoured the remaining salsa fria, quipping that the delicious gazpacho in the refrigerator was what was helping to cure him!

So, what's your stance on MSG?

The Mexican spareribs recipe calls for it. Monosodium glutamate is one of the four ingredients. The three others being salt, pepper, and spareribs. My feeling is that the pinch of MSG can easily be eliminated.

I'll confess that I did use the Japanese Aji-Shio (essentially MSG coated salt) to season the ribs. Does this make me a horrible person, a cheater, a fake? Probably not.

All you do to the ribs, besides seasoning them, is bake them for one and a half to two hours at 300 degrees. Right? So simple. They taste like pure, salty pork pleasure.

I like to serve these ribs with some kind of white rice, usually basmati or jasmine and a vegetable or salad. This last time around, I served it with wilted escarole with garlic and anchovy.

Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

I'd be curious to know what you folks think. Please chime in!

Mexican Spareribs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of monosodium glutamate
2 to 3 pounds spareribs

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the salt, pepper, and monosodium glutamate in a bowl. Mix well and rub all over the ribs.

Place the ribs in a baking pan with a rim and bake one and a half to two hours. Pour off the fat as it accumulates. Cut into individual ribs. Serve with salsa fria.

Serves 4 to 6

Salsa Fria

1 28 ounce can solid-pack tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
4 jalapenos or serrano chiles, chopped (or more depending on your heat tolerance)
1 teaspoon coriander, or to taste
1 clove garlic chopped with 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pour the tomatoes into a mixing bowl and chop fine. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Alternatively, place all ingredients in a food processor and purée until chunky. Serve cold as a dip for spareribs.

About 2 1/2 cups