If you've spent much of the last few years following the food adventures of Diane Cu and Todd Porter, you have someplace to be tonight. Cu and Porter will be presenting and signing their new cookbook Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden, at Book Soup in West Hollywood tonight.
If you can't make it, no worries: The pair will be at Vroman's soon. Or you can just get the book, or read their utterly gorgeous blog — or consol yourself by making their broccoli grilled cheese recipe, which consolation you might want anyway.
You may of course know the couple not from their actual names, but from that blog and website, WhiteonRiceCouple.com, or maybe from their Instagram or Twitter feed, or any number of other pathways or sites or publications — or maybe even their Costa Mesa garden itself, in which they've cooked for many foodists over the years, including this one.
Cu, whose family moved from Da Nang, Vietnam, to Southern California when she was a kid, and Porter, a native of Oregon, have run cooking classes and a photography studio in Costa Mesa for some time now. Bountiful, published this month by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, showcases 100 recipes, the vast majority of which are not from their recipe-intensive blog. That each recipe features a fruit or vegetable is not just whimsical happiness, but because their Costa Mesa garden is home to dozens of fruit trees, as well as the myriad vegetables and fresh herbs that go into their cooking.
The cookbook also has, as you might expect, gorgeous photography done by the pair, as well as many stories — of their respective childhoods (see: Viet Nam, Oregon), their own love story, gardening and planting tips, pickling and sauce-making notes and recipes, and more and more stunning photos. Among the recipes: Lettuce Wraps with Almond-Basil Chicken, Red Tomato Jam with Fresh Ginger, Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, Olive Oil-Baked Beet Chips with Sea Salt and Black Pepper, Blistered Shishito Peppers with Yuzu Kosho, Gin Cocktail with Pomegranate and Grapefruit.
Although the couple has photographed for other authors and produced many cookbook video trailers, Bountiful is Cu and Porter's first cookbook of their own. It will very likely not be their last.
At 7 p.m. tonight, Oct. 15, Cu and Porter will be presenting and signing copies of their book at Book Soup, at 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Maybe bring a sandwich.
Roasted Broccoli and Grilled Cheese Melt
From: Bountiful, by Diane Cu and Todd Porter
Makes: 3-4 sandwiches
Note: Life would not be complete without a great grilled cheese sandwich. As many of them as we eat, we never get tired of great bread and good cheese. We also love to experiment with different fillings to enhance the grilled cheese experience, but without distracting from the bread and cheese. This is one of our answers, in which we add roasted broccoli for extra flavor and texture. It's an addictive variation on the classic grilled cheese sandwich — kids love it, and it's a great way to get them to eat their greens.
Florets from 1 medium head broccoli (about 1⁄2 pound / 225g), chopped small
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 slices bread
1 cup (120g) cheddar or good melting cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
2. On a sheet pan, mix the broccoli, oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is evenly roasted but not burnt. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
3. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat.
4. Spread butter evenly on one side of each slice of bread. Dividing the ingredients evenly, layer cheese on the unbuttered side of half of the bread slices, then add chopped broccoli in the middle and more cheese on top so that the broccoli lies between two layers
of cheese. (This keeps the small pieces of broccoli from falling out as the cheese melts.) Top each with another slice of bread, butter side out.
5. “Grill” in the skillet, turning the sandwiches over once, until the cheese melts and the bread is evenly toasted.
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