A glimpse into the life at Otium LA

 

Otium in Downtown LA is a contemporary restaurant with gorgeous space inside and outside next to the art museum, The Broad.

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It is designed to be a social restaurant with an open kitchen merging indoor and outdoor spaces. The restaurant’s name, Otium, has its roots in Latin, a word that is meant to emphasize a place where time can be spent on leisurely social activities.  http://otiumla.com/about/
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“Chef Timothy Hollingsworth’s 13 year history in Napa Valley, at The French Laundry, blended with his present roots as an Angeleno living in downtown Los Angeles, sets the stage for an environment of sophisticated rusticity with highly eclectic, vibrant and seasonal flavors.” http://otiumla.com/about/

I have dined there before and was impressed by the design and the airy open kitchen space. So when I came up with the idea to do a photography project on the life of a few select restaurants, I decided to approach Chef Timothy Hollingsworth for the Otium to be the first of this series.

I had full support from the staff at the restaurant, and Everyone was very welcoming. They were excited to see those captured moments that would never be seen otherwise. My  project at Otium is now finished.  I left the place with a heavy heart because once again I was lucky enough to have spent time in a kitchen that felt like home.

I hope you all like this little glimpse into the life of this particular restaurant and I will do my best to bring you more!

Let me know if there is a restaurant (in California for now) that you would like to see here!

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Floral and herbal vinegar

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There is not really a complex recipe for making floral or herbal vinegar. You will need to follow only a few steps to make sure you get the most out of your chosen flowers or herbs.

  • For best results always pick flowers that are fully blossomed and not yet started to fade. You can use any edible flowers, that has a unique and strong perfume, such as nasturtium, marigold, or flowers of herbs such as garlic chive, chive. If you want to make an herbal vinegar, tarragon, dill, fresh bay leaf with garlic is a great choice.

 

  • Making floral vinegar I always use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Anything else would have very strong flavor for the flowers. Making herbal vinegar you can opt for white wine vinegar too.

 

  • Clean the blossoms and shake off any bugs. Don’t wash the flowers because you will lose the fragrant pollens.

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  • When making elderflower vinegar make sure you pick the flowers off of the bigger stalks and use only the flowers.

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  • For the nasturtium vinegar, pick the flowers off the stem.
  • Add flowers in the clean jar and fill up with vinegar.

 

  • Close the jar tightly and let it sit at room temperature for 2 weeks, out of direct sunlight. Shake the jar every day. You will need to be patient and wait out this so that you get the most flavor out of the flowers.

 

  • After this 2 week infusing period strain the vinegar, get rid of the flowers and decant the vinegar into a glass bottle, seal tight and store in the cupboard or fridge.

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Spring time fava and garbanzo scotch egg

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Scotch egg was absolutely one of my favorites when we lived in England. I have been thinking about making a vegetarian version of it for a while now, and asparagus season seemed to be the best time for this experiment. Because we all  know it.  Asparagus, egg and breadcrumb go hand in hand in perfect harmony. For this recipe the most important thing I had to come up with is a vegetarian sausage meat replacement. I definitely prefer using vegetables over tofu, tempeh, seitan. I picked garbanzo beans because I knew that can hold other ingredients together very well. Later I will try to make it work with lentil, just simply because lentil is my favorite legume. I paired garbanzo with fresh fava beans, since  they are in season too, and also wanted to add some of that cooked to the dish as well, to bring more brightness and freshness to the plate.

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So what are the components in the dish?

I decided to serve the scotch egg with simply blanched asparagus. Scotch egg is traditionally deep fried and crispy, so it definitely needed a clean, fresh accompaniment, that is the reason for blanching, and not roasting or pan frying the asparagus. For a creamy sauce-y component I made a fresh, vibrant asparagus tarragon sauce.

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How to blanch asparagus?         

To prep asparagus cut off woody ends and carefully peel asparagus 2/3 up. (see picture above)  Bring a big pot of water to the boil and season with salt generously. Blanching takes a few minutes, s no worries, the vegetables will not be salty. When the water is rapidly boiling, add asparagus and make sure boiling never stops! After a minute or two, depending one the freshness and thickness of your asparagus, transfer them into ice cold water. Now they are ready for any kind of dish to use. You can warm them up with butter/oil, pan roast them quickly or continue cooking for a few minutes in sauces. 

I blanched asparagus, freshly shucked English peas and fava beans. After blanching, I simply warmed them with some butter and seasoned with salt, black pepper and meyer lemon zest. Be careful if you have the urge to add lemon juice, it will quickly take away the fresh green color of your vegetables!

 To introduce my choice of herb, tarragon, to the dish I made a sauce using the asparagus scrapings that you can see in the top picture, as a base. Blanched the scrapings and tarragon is salted water, then dropped them into ice cold water to retain color. Separately sautéed white onion and let that cool and blended quickly with the blanched asparagus and tarragon. Seasoned with salt and ground black pepper. Right before plating added some meyer lemon juice to taste.

See below detailed recipe for the scotch egg, included some tips for making them. It is really up to you what you serve these scotch eggs with . They are great cold, as part of a green salad, or warm with a simple asparagus soup. Scotch eggs may not be the quickest and easiest things to make but they are worth the work.

Garbanzo and fava scotch eggs

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Ingredients (for 4 eggs)

  • 4 eggs
  • olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 oz cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cooked garbanzo beans (or canned)
  • 1/2 cup fresh fava beans, cooked
  • 1/2 T chopped parsley
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • 1/4 t Hungarian paprika
  • salt, ground black pepper to taste

For standard breading procedure and deep frying the eggs:

  • flour
  • 2 eggs and 1T water for egg wash
  • breadcrumb
  • grapeseed oil for deep-frying the eggs

 

  1. Start with cooking the eggs. Boil water in a pot. Cook eggs in simmering water for 5 and 1/2 minutes, so the yolks stay runny. If you plan to eat some of the eggs later, I recommend cooking them longer, around 8-9 minutes. Cold eggs are just better when the yolk is not runny. Once the eggs are cooked, immediately put them in ice-cold water to stop them cooking. This is very important if you want to keep nice runny yolks.
  2. In the meantime start sweating the chopped onions on olive oil. Carefully cook them until translucent, not to burn them. Add the garlic, cook for a minute and finally the chopped mushrooms. Cook until you get rid of moisture. Let it cool.
  3. Rinse cooked garbanzo beans and transfer into a food processor. Add the onion mushroom mixture, the cooked fava beans, dijon, parsley and spices. Process until it forms a paste with chunky bits.  A few tips : In case the mixture is dry, add a bit of olive oil. If you added too much oil at the beginning and feels too soft, add breadcrumb or even oatmeal. If for any reason your paste is not sticking together, add an egg and mix well. You will need to use this veggie mixture to coat the cooked eggs.
  4. Before coating the eggs with the veggie mixture, dredge the eggs in flour. This step will help the veggie mixture hang onto the egg’s surface.
  5. It is time now to coat the wobbly soft eggs in the veggie “mince”. The easiest way to do this: Place a portion of the mixture on a piece of clinging film. Cover it with another clinging film and with a rolling pin flatten it out evenly.  Take off top clinging film and lift flattened disk, wrapping it carefully around the egg and molding into the right shape. It is a delicate task if you want runny yolks and your eggs are soft. I did break an egg, so take your time. Once the eggs covered in the garbanzo mix, let them cool in the fridge. If you want to make them in advance, this is the stage where you can keep them covered in the fridge for a day.
  6. To finish off the eggs, use the standard 3 step breading procedure to coat the egg: dredge in flour, moisten in the egg wash and coat in breadcrumbs.
  7. Fill a small pot with enough oil to cover whole eggs. Deep fry the eggs in batches if your pot is not too big, so that oil will not cool down while doing deep frying, to avoid soggy coating.
  8. Serve the eggs with your choice of accompaniment, such as salad, cooked vegetables, soup, sauce.

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