La Femme Epicure
cooking with my friend Sarah, Los Angeles, California
On a fresh morning , on Halloween day, my friend Sarah, from La Femme Epicure, and I gathered to slice a whole shoulder of Ibérico ham and make some simple Spanish recipes. Sarah is a private chef who started a side business, Lady & Larder, through which she delivers incredibly well crafted cheese and charcuterie boards in Los Angeles. I had gifted her my precious mechanic slicer to start her business , when I decided to stop cooking more than a year ago, with one condition: that I could use the slicer when I needed to.
This was the perfect excuse to spend time with Sarah. I had purchased a huge piece of Iberico, and needed to slice it. We were both very pregnant expecting baby boys and our big 8-month bellies made us move slow. Since then, she has given birth to a beautiful baby boy, and I am about to welcome my second child. So today, as I write this words, all feels very emotional and sweet, and on that October day, cooking with her, it all felt charmingly clumsy as I sliced the Ibérico.
Sarah and I made 3 simple recipes: Olives marinated in orange and fresh rosemary; my classic Gazpacho; and Ibérico toast with rubbed garlic.
Sarah and I met in a creative retreat almost 3 years ago, along with her twin sister Boo, a creative entrepreneur. I immediately fell in love with them, and they have always been so supportive and helpful with all of my ventures. They have this uncomplicated way of cheering one's projects, that it makes you feel so special. While they are very hard working and mostly always busy running their business, they make time for me, and whatever I ask them help with, they go off their way to help.
So this is a little story about friendship. How we are lucky enough to have certain people around who make it all meaningful. The reason why we do things in our professional path that just make you feel good for the sake of it, and not thinking about any kind of retribution... and this is exactly what Sarah and Boo make me feel.
This feeling comes in especially handy as I wash away the frustration of how hard I find it to run my own creative business. As I wrapped the last event of the year yesterday afternoon, after working so hard on my holiday shop and finding it impossible to make ends meet. As I looked around the event, the jewellery maker, the potter, the designer, the bed linen maker, and a long list of creatives who truly invest in their passions.. it is just beautiful to find friends that make it all special.
ORANGE & ROSEMARY OLIVES
This way of marinating olives is a true ode to smell and color. Extracting directly from Mediterranean ingredients such as oranges and rosemary, slowly pouring golden extra virgin olive oil over it all until it soaks.
- 1/2 liter of Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 1/2 lb of your favorite cured olives drained (I used Spanish Manzanilla variety)
- 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
- The skin of 1 pretty orange
- 1/2 cup of whole black peppercorns
1. In a large glass jar, combine the rosemary, the orange peel and the peppercorns.
2. Pour over the olive oil and then the drained olives.
3. Let sit for 3 days in the fridge and serve at room temperature
This is an unsophisticated recipe where the taste of the tomatoes is key for the result. Find the most tasty ripe tomatoes you can. The Sunday market in our neighborhood has the sweetest ones, grown by a family that I have been supplying me for years. They plant few vegetables, but they are always seasonal, and good. This was the last batch of the year as California fall approached.
- 3 lbs of good ripe tomatoes
- 2 cups ox extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 sweet red pepper
1. Wash the tomatoes and cut off any imperfections that might affect taste.
2. Mix in a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients to taste.
3. The Gazpacho has to be very smooth and might require you to strain it for perfect results.
Acorn fed Ibérico pork shoulder imported from Spain is what I have been using on all my Iberico recipes. The taste is strong and pure and cannot be compared to any other quality meat made in the U.S. The providers are few and the price is high, but we choose to eat less charcuterie but better quality, and we purchase a whole shoulder of 3 pounds, and then slice it and pack it to last at least a couple of months.
- Ibérico de Bellota pork shoulder sliced thin.
- Grilled bread with Extra Virgin olive oil
- Ripe tomatoes
- Garlic cloves
- Sea salt
1. Once the bread is grilled or toasted, rub a piece of garlic on it.
2. Rub a tomato cut in half on the bread and allowing the inside flesh to stain the bread.
3. Sprinkle with sea salt and Extra Virgin olive oil
4. Add Ibérico