Here’s something to stir passions: The best lobster rolls aren’t found in New England. They’re made in New York City at a place in the West Village called Pearl Oyster Bar, owner Rebecca Charles’ love letter to her childhood summers in Kennebunkport, Maine. Unlike so many shacks up north, the lobster at Pearl is never overcooked, the roll never stingy or full of unpleasant claw scraps, and the mayo is always just right. I’ve made it my mission to replicate Pearl’s superlative lobster rolls at home. Turns out it’s not hard at all. The key is to purchase live lobsters under 1.5 pounds, cook them in boiling water for 7 minutes, and plunge them in an ice bath. I like to serve lobster rolls with a heap of hot sea salt fries and a fresh berry tart. Pretty trad for an LA boy, right?



for 4 rolls, recipe by Pearl Oyster Bar:
4 Maine lobsters, about 1 pound each
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 celery rib, finely chopped
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 hot dog buns (preferably top loading)
chopped chives for garnish

Immerse the lobsters in rapidly boiling water and cook for 7-8 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to ice cold water to stop cooking. Cool thoroughly and drain. Separate the tails and the claws from the lobster bodies. Remove the meat and chop roughly into ½ inch pieces. Combine the lobster meat with the mayonnaise, celery, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet and press the buns open in the skillet, turning to coat both sides. Cook the buns until warmed. Fill the bun with lobster and sprinkle with chives.



for the sweet tart dough, recipe by Alice Waters:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 ¼ cups all-purpose unbleached flour

to assemble 5-6 four-inch tartlets:
baked tartlets
2-3 cups of fresh blackberries
1 1/2 cups of lemon curd
honey glaze
thyme leaves for garnish

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the salt, vanilla extract, and yolk until completely combined. Add the flour and mix well until there are no dry patches. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until firm. This recipe makes enough for one 9-inch tart or six 4-inch tartlets. When ready to roll out the dough, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. On a floured surface and/or between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Let the rolled pastry rest in the refrigerator before pressing it into a tart pan. Once the dough is pressed into the tart pan, chill the dough for at last 15 minutes more before baking in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Let the pastry cool before filling and unmolding. Fill each tartlet with lemon curd. Top with a generous amount of blackberries and glaze. Garnish with thyme leaves.

for the lemon curd, 1 ½ cups:
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest

In a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water, continuously whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and lemon zest. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week.

for the honey thyme glaze:
1/4 cup of honey
1 tablespoon warm water
12-16 sprigs of thyme, plus more for garnish

Stir the honey and warm water together in a bowl. Muddle the thyme in the honey mixture and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the thyme.



There they all were, laying in a sprawling heap, shivering, badly frostbitten. Despite their youth, struggle was written all over their faces. Who knew whether or where they had homes. Passerby scarcely paid them any attention.

Sad, this frozen bag of peas.

But wait. With care, simple alchemy, and well-chosen accessories, a luxurious soup beyond its modest origins emerges.


(substantially adapted from a recipe by April Bloomfield)

for 4 servings:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of rustic bread, torn into pieces
2/3 cup of pancetta or ham, diced
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 large shallots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
7 cups of water (I prefer a cleaner pea flavor
but you could also use low sodium chicken broth)
1-2 bags (20 oz. in all) of frozen sweet peas
handful of mint leaves, plus some for garnish
juice of 1/2 a lemon
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
several spoonfuls of plain yogurt

Heat the oven to 350. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium flame and add the bread to coat. Transfer to the oven for about 10 minutes until the croutons are crisp and golden brown. In another skillet, crisp the pancetta and set aside.

In a stockpot, heat the butter and add the shallot and garlic, sauteing until softened but not browned. Add the water (and/or broth) and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and stir for 2-3 minutes. Remove pot from stove and stir in the mint leaves and lemon juice. Transfer the pea mixture to a food processor or blender in batches and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle the pea soup into a bowl (or a small pot). Swirl a spoonful of yogurt into the soup. Add a few croutons, a generous amount of pancetta or ham, and several mint leaves. Drizzle with olive oil. Crack black pepper over the soup and serve immediately.


Within 24 hours of joining Pinterest, it happened. A photo of a Stella McCartney-inspired citrus cake (an obvious case of beauty over function) made me feel grossly inadequate about my life. There was only one thing to do: Drop everything and make it.


(aka. “Stella Cake,” recipe by Apollina)

for the cake:
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
grated zest of 2 oranges & 2 lemons
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
oranges, lemons, limes sliced to garnish
fresh mint leaves to garnish

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10″ round cake pan.* In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the grated zest of the oranges and lemons. Beat in the vanilla and the eggs. Add the flour mixture and the milk incrementally and beat until combined. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick pressed into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely (you can put it in the freezer to speed this up) before turning it out and frosting it. Once the frosting is smoothly applied, artfully arrange the citrus slices and mint leaves on top of the cake.

*The original recipe calls for 2 cake rounds with lemon curd in between — highly recommended if you have time.

for the frosting:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons very finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
a pinch of salt

Beat the butter, orange juice, and lemon zest on high until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add the sugar and salt. Beat until smooth. Keep at room temperature.



Some people have extreme difficulty naming favorites. Invited to rank their preferences, they become paralyzed. Mr. Alpenglow has zero hardship in this department. Early in life, he rejected ridiculous phrases like “to each his own” and “taste is personal.” Every obsessive cook knows: Like a gemstone, taste is to be ruthlessly turned over and scrutinized in the privacy of one’s own mind. Once it is finely burnished, taste can be foisted upon the citizenry at large. Listen for cries of delight.

All this to say — here is the best sandwich ever.



for 8 buttermilk biscuits:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk

Heat the oven to 450. Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor or blender. Cut the butter into small cubes. Add to food processor and pulse a few times (do not over mix) until the mixture resemble coarse meal. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk and stir until just combined (again, do not over mix). Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Gently pat the dough until it is about 1/2 an inch thick. Do not use a roller. Gently fold the dough about 4 times, pressing the dough down to about 1-inch thick. Use a round cutter to cut the biscuits. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or so until the top and bottom of the biscuits are light golden brown.

for the fried chicken:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 quart buttermilk
6-8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
canola oil for frying

Heat about 3-4 inches of oil in a heavy cast iron pot on medium-high flame. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour the buttermilk into another bowl. Tuck the edges of the chicken thighs down to create a semi-round piece. Press it into the flour mixture, dip it in the buttermilk, and coat once more in the flour mixture. Repeat to finish all the chicken. When the oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. Turn them over once in the oil. When the chicken is deep golden brown, remove them and drain on a wire rack. Let them rest for several minutes. Place one chicken thigh onto each biscuit and drizzle with a spoonful of chimichurri. Serve immediately.

for the chimichurri:
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup or so of olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Pulse the ingredients in a blender.


As a home cook, I have fun playing with California cuisine, French bistro fare, and Italian classics, but I’ve always approached Chinese food with unusual trepidation. It’s not just fear that I won’t be able to reproduce the flavors that I’ve grown so fond of over the years. I’m afraid of what clumsily rendered Chinese dishes might suggest — that my Americanness has crowded out my Chineseness. Yet more and more, I feel the need to bring traditional Chinese food part into my everyday repertoire. I’m particularly drawn to the subtle flavors of Shanghainese cooking and the spicy stalwarts of Sichuan — not surprising, since my family has roots in both places.

All or nothing — that’s Mr. Alpenglow’s way. With my mom at my side, I tackled four of my favorite dishes, bringing different regional cooking styles together in one meal. I love the typically restrained Shanghainese technique of accentuating fish and shrimp with seaweed and tea, respectively, on display in the first pair of recipes. In stark contrast, the vegetable dishes that follow — from Sichuan and Sichuan-by-way-of-Taiwan — are maximally assertive, relying on the technique of layering intensely fragrant ingredients, one after another.

My initial trepidation subsided after making these dishes. Each one tasted familiar, true, and deeply comforting. Each one was made by a guy who’s spent 30 years in America and 1 wide-eyed month backpacking in China.


苔條黃魚 / tai tiao huang yu

for 4 servings:
about 200 g fish fillet, such as flounder
5 g Chinese yellow cooking wine
3 g salt
1 g white pepper powder
30 g wheat flour (xiao mai feng)
3 g active dry yeast
2 g five spice powder
15 g dried seaweed, thinly sliced
warm water
canola oil for frying

Heat 3-4 inches of oil in a heavy pot on medium-high flame. Slice the fish fillets in half lengthwise, then cut them again to make 4-inch pieces. Marinate the fish in the cooking wine, salt, and white pepper for 30 minutes. Combine the flour, yeast, five spice powder, and seaweed. Slowly add warm water until the batter is just thick enough (slightly more watery than pancake batter) to evenly coat the fish. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes. When the oil is hot, dip the fish in the batter and place gently in the oil. The batter should puff up. Fry the fish in batches until light golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and serve piping hot with a condiment of Sichuan peppercorn powder mixed with salt.


龙井虾 仁 / long jing xia ren

for 4 servings:
3 g Long Jing (Dragon Well) tea leaves
12-14 oz. very small shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp egg white
1 tsp corn starch
2 tsp cooking oil

Marinate the shrimp with the rice wine, salt, warm water, egg white, and corn starch for 30 minutes. Pour 1/4 cup of hot (but not boiling) water over the tea leaves and let it sit for 5 minutes. Heat 1 tsp cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok on high flame. Stir in the shrimp with the marinade until it is about 50 percent cooked, then set the shrimp aside. Wipe the skillet/wok clean and heat it again with another tsp of oil. Return the shrimp to the wok, adding the tea leaves and at least 2 tsp of the tea-flavored water. Stir-fry until the shrimp is no longer translucent. Transfer to platter and serve immediately.


干煸四季豆 / gan bian si ji dou

for 4 servings:
1 1/4 lb. string beans, washed & dried
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 inch piece of ginger, finely minced
1 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 heaping tbsp of dried shrimp, finely minced
2 tbsp pickled mustard cabbage, finely minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
canola oil for frying

Place the dried shrimp in 1/2 a cup of very hot water for 30 minutes, then drain. Trim the ends of the green beans and cut them to 2-3″ pieces. Make sure the beans are dry. In a large pot, heat about 2 inches of oil on medium-high flame. Once the oil is hot, fry the beans in several batches until they are slightly softened (but still crisp) and blistered on the exterior, about 2 minutes. Drain the beans thoroughly and set them aside. Next, heat a large skillet or wok with 2-3 tbsp of your frying oil and add the garlic, ginger, green onion, dried shrimp, and pickled mustard cabbage. Stir-fry until very fragrant and slightly caramelized. Stir in the green beans along with the remaining ingredients — the soy sauce, salt, sugar, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. Stir-fry for a minute longer and transfer to a serving platter.


蒼蠅頭 / cang ying tou (“fly’s head”)

for 4 servings:
2 tsp canola oil
about 6 oz. of ground pork
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 fresh red chili peppers, seeds removed and finely minced
3 tbsp fermented black beans
about 8-10 oz of flowering garlic chives, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp of hot bean paste
1/4 tsp of salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok on medium-high flame. Fry the pork, using a spatula or wooden spoon to break it into small pieces. Add the garlic, chili peppers, and black beans. Stir-fry until very fragrant. Add the garlic chives along with the remaining ingredients — bean paste, salt, sugar, and sesame oil. Stir-fry for a few minutes longer until the chives are softened but still a vibrant green. Transfer to a bowl and serve with white rice.


The last time I was in California, for Christmas, it was the height of Dungeness Crab season. This time, in mid-May, it’s the height of Spot Prawn season. Prized for their sweet flesh, spot prawns claim pride of place on menus like that of Providence in LA and Coi in San Francisco. In fact, the bulk of commercially caught spot prawns go directly to restaurant kitchens. So when I saw them in a tank at a local Asian market (“WILD SANTA BARBARA SPOT PRAWNS”), I felt a rush of adrenaline. This, dear readers, is how Mr. Alpenglow gets his high. I served them for lunch — grilled for two minutes with olive oil, seasoned with a little salt, and served with lemon.


olive oil, sea salt, lemon

If available, buy a dozen live spot prawns. The sooner you serve them, the better they will be. Heat a charcoal grill or stove-top griddle until it is very hot. Use a sharp knife to split each shrimp down the middle, leaving the head attached. Drizzle the shrimp with olive oil. Place the shrimp on the grill, sliced side down, and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Transfer to a warm platter. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. With your hand high above the shrimp, season very conservatively with sea salt. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. I recommend eating the tail first, then sucking the juices from the shrimp’s head.



After some ten years of being on the opposite coast, this year I have the treat of being home for Mother’s Day. I’m hoping that my mom is still as good at pretending to be surprised as she was each time my brothers and I woke up early — pots and pans clanging — to make breakfast for her in years past. Here are two sweet and two savory options to consider for your own Mother’s Day breakfast menu. Feel free to mix ‘n match. They’re all easy and very delicious.



for 4 servings:
4 thick slices of rustic bread
1 cup of fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of lightly toasted shelled pistachios
1 cup of fresh raspberries

Place the bread under a broiler until golden brown. Whip the ricotta with a spoon. Spread a scoop of ricotta onto each slice of bread. Top with pistachios, raspberries, and a drizzle of honey. Serve immediately.



for 8 scones, adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Use your hands to work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal, with a butter chunks remaining. Mix in the heavy cream and vanilla extract until the dough begins to form. Be sure to avoid overmixing. Gently fold in the raspberries. They’ll break, but don’t worry. If the dough gets too wet from the raspberries, you can use a paper towel to soak up excess moisture or add a bit of flour. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and flatten the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Either slice the circle into 8 pieces or use a round cookie cutter to make 8 scones. Place scones on baking sheet and brush them with cream. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the scones are light brown and crispy on the outside. Let cool for a few minutes and serve warm.



for 4 servings (2 per person):
8 white corn soft tacos, warmed
8 fried eggs
1 pound of spicy pork chorizo sausage
1 yellow bell pepper, cored & diced
2 ripe avocados, cored & diced
1/2 cup of small tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup of Cotija cheese, crumbled
sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper

Fry the chorizo in a skillet, using a spatula to break it apart. Set the chorizo aside. Fry the eggs 4 at a time (leave the yolks runny) and set aside. Assemble the tacos by placing one fried egg on each warm taco along with a spoonful of chorizo, bell pepper, avocado, tomatoes, Cotija cheese, and salt & pepper. Serve with hot sauce if desired.


served with baguette

for 4 servings:
1 warmed & slightly toasted baguette
1 large chunk of gruyere, sliced
2 clumps of Hen of the Woods mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
4 free range eggs

Turn on your broiler. Spread out the sliced gruyere in an heavy casserole pan. Crumble the mushrooms over the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the lower rack under the broiler until the mushrooms are nicely browned and the cheese is completely melted. Crack the eggs into the mushrooms and broil for 1-2 minutes longer until the white are just beginning to set but the yolk is still runny. Remove from oven and serve immediately with baguette.



I tend to shop at the market in one of two ways. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll reach instinctively for things that I know I can incorporate into any meal: tortillas, eggs, spinach, potatoes, ham, pasta. If I’m feeling leisurely, I’ll methodically survey everything on offer and choose only the freshest, most enticing things: ramps, Morel mushrooms, rhubarb, pork cheeks, scallops, breakfast radishes. This past weekend, I took a different approach: I shopped maniacally for things that would complement a Provençal rosé I had been waiting all winter to enjoy.

Never get in the way of a grown man in the mood for rosé. He behaves like a well-trained pig on the scent of a truffle, grunting past thorn and thicket as if nothing else mattered. With dozens of market vendors proffering thousands of goods, distractions abound. FRESH HAND ROLLED DONUTS! LOCAL FREE RANGE CHICKEN EGGS! WORLD’S BEST CHEESESTEAKS! All of them distractions, designed to ensnare his wet snout. His mind is lucid with the promise of rosé — crisp with a hint of strawberries, utterly refreshing, dry and pale as can be. Item by item, a meal begins to take shape: first a carton of colorful tomatoes, then several bunches of green garlic and basil, Vidalia onions, one whole rabbit, salty knobs of cheese, and the season’s first cherries. From this, a feast fit for rosé:






2 large handfuls of ripe cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
aged balsamic vinegar
kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper
a small handful of basil leaves

In a large bowl, drizzle the tomatoes with just enough olive oil to coat. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar, adding just enough to accentuate but not overwhelm the tomatoes’ flavor. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the tomatoes on a platter and scatter the basil leaves on top.


6 oz. bucatini (or spaghetti)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup of hot pasta water
3/4 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
1/3 cup grated Pecorino cheese
freshly cracked black pepper
kosher salt

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until not quite al dente. Drain the water but reserve about 1 cup. Heat a large non-stick skillet and add the butter. Once it has melted, add 1/2 a cup of hot pasta water and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and gradually add the cheese until it melts and coats the pasta. Season very liberally with black pepper. Add salt to taste.


for the rabbit:
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
5-6 Vidalia onion bulbs, diced
several sprigs of thyme
kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper
1 whole rabbit (or chicken) cut into pieces

for the sauce:
1/2 cup of green garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of basil leaves, packed
about 2/3 cup of grapeseed or light olive oil
1/2 tsp dried red chili pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper

Heat the oven to 400. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a large oven-safe skillet. Add the onions and thyme and cook for 3-4 minutes. Push the onions to one side and add the rabbit pieces to brown in the pan. Once the rabbit is nicely browned, transfer the skillet to the oven and finish roasting for about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile blend all the ingredients for the green garlic sauce and set aside. Remove the rabbit from the oven and serve with the caramelized onions and sauce.


recipe from The Kitchn:
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries
2 eggs
1-2 cups half and half (depends on amount of cherries used)

Preheat oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugar – cream it well, so that the butter is pale, light, and fluffy looking, about 5 minutes. Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder, and add to the butter and sugar mixture and and mix briefly. The mixture should be crumbly but moist enough to hold together when pressed. Set aside 1/4 cup of the mixture, and press remaining dough into tart pan, making sure the sides are strong and even. Add the cherries, spreading them evenly over the bottom of the pressed in dough. Sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup of dough mixture over the cherries, carefully place the tart pan on a baking sheet (being sure not to accidentally push up on the bottom of the pan, which would dislodge your crust), and slide it into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl, then add the half and half and whisk until it is well combined. After 15 minutes, open oven door and pull the baking sheet half way out of the oven. Carefully and quickly pour the custard mixture over the tart, then carefully and gently push the baking sheet back in, and close the oven door. Bake the tart for another 25 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden brown and the custard is set and beginning to brown.