The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture from Downtown Los Angeles, written by Adele Yellin and Kevin West, highlights the recipes and people behind the stalls of this 100 year-old Los Angeles market. Notable recipes include the Smoked Salmon Latke from Wexler’s Deli, Spinach and Cheese Pupusas with Curtido from Sarita’s Pupuseria, Cold Smoky Ramen from Ramen Hood, Watermelon Slushy from Press Brothers Juicery, Nashville-Style Hot Fried Chicken Sando from Horse Thief BBQ, Sauerkraut Salad from Berlin Currywurt, and Salted Caramel Bread Pudding from Valerie Confections Bakery & Café. I will also be sharing a recipe for the Cinnamon Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas from McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Adele Yellin is president of the Yellin Company, a Los Angeles-based real estate management and development firm that owns and operates Grand Central Market. She was named the 2015 Rose Award recipient by the Los Angeles Parks Foundation and was awarded the AJC Los Angeles Community Leadership Award following the revitalization of the market. She also sits on the boards of Bringing Back Broadway, Angels Flight, and LA Streetcar.
Kevin West cofounded Headspace Consulting with Joseph Shuldiner. The two were cocreative directors for the Grand Central Market’s revitalization from 2012 to 2016. He is also the author of Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving and contributor for Truffle Boy.
Chapters are divided according to course: Breakfast; Tacos, etc.; Carbs; Happy Hour; Meat & Fish; Veg; and Sweets.
This book is a celebration of Grand Central Market’s 100 year anniversary with 85 recipes from all the current stalls, behind-the-scenes stories, and interviews with the vendors. The writers begin with a full history of the market from its opening in 1917 and peak capacity at over 90 stalls to its decline and revitalization today. It still sits at the original location, at the corner of Broadway and Third Street, and is now home to thirty-eight unique stalls.
The photography is provided by Johnny Autry. Many of the recipes are accompanied by full-page photos, usually of the finished dish, along with photos of the market and vendors. The dishes include headnotes with tips, background information, notes, and serving sizes. The measurements are written in US Customary. Scattered between the recipes are personal stories and features of the vendors and how they got their start. I especially appreciate the appendix with the list of recipes and what stalls they come from for easy reference.
This book is a great pick for those who already love the food in the Grand Central Market or are like me and just enjoy a wonderful collection of delicious recipes. We will be moving to Los Angeles next summer and I can’t wait to visit the market in person. The assortment of recipes features everything from tacos and ramen to waffles, cookies, pizza, and drinks. They have been adapted for the home kitchen and there is also a few “Market Recipes” which were uniquely created using ingredients found at the market. Having stores with Asian and Latin American ingredients will be helpful for some of the dishes. More difficult to find items include turmeric, masa harina, chiles de árbol, dried guajillo chiles, pork belly, nopales, mole ajonjoli, goat meat, dried pasilla chiles, achiote powder, samba oelek, Thai basil, star anise, fish sauce, ricotta salata, pepitas, tahini paste, sumac, sushi-grade tuna, and harissa paste. Substitutions are provided when available.
Cinnamon Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas
This Cinnamon Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas recipe comes from McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (Stall D-4). The smooth and creamy ice cream with warming spices blends perfectly with the salted caramel topping and the crunch from the candied pepitas. Co-owner Eva Ein recommends serving the ice cream alongside churros.
The raw pepitas are coated with sugar, salt, and egg whites, then baked in a thin layer until crisp. After cooling, they are broken into pieces to sprinkle over the ice cream. They can easily be made in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. For the salted caramel sauce, I used my Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce.
I have been able to find pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds) at Whole Foods. They are usually in the nut and seed section of many larger grocery stores and International Food Markets featuring Latin American and African ingredients. They can also be found on Amazon.
I also made the Breakfast Burrito with Eggs & Chorizo, Curry Udon, Thai BBQ Chicken, and Ensalada Mixta (Chopped Salad).
The Breakfast Burrito with Eggs & Chorizo comes from Jose Chiquito. This stall is less than 200 square feet and famous for their burritos. Crispy hash browns are combined with eggs, chorizo, and melty American cheese, then folded in a flour tortilla and served with salsa. A recipe for the Roasted Tomato Salsa is provided along with one to make your own chorizo.
The Curry Udon recipe comes from Bento Ya Japanese Cuisine. Udon is a favorite of mine and I loved the spiced and vegetable-packed broth. It was perfect for chilly autumn evening. The Japanese version of curry is also a great primer for those who want less heat, but still plenty of flavor.
The Thai BBQ Chicken comes from the Sticky Rice stall. Chicken breasts are marinated for a few hours to overnight in a creamy coconut milk marinade, then grilled until charred. I served the chicken with sticky rice and the provided recipe for Nam Jim Gai (Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce).
Ensalada Mixta comes from the Torres Produce stall. I absolutely loved this. Chopped up pieces of red onion, Persian cucumber, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, lettuce, and avocados are tossed in a light lime dressing. The red onions are first soaked in a baking soda mixture to help reduce its sharpness. The salad can also be easily adapted to include other vegetables, proteins, or even cheese depending on the season.
Cinnamon Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas Recipe
Cinnamon Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas
Excerpt from The Grand Central Market Cookbook
1 1/2 cup raw hulled pepitas
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
Cinnamon Ice Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 large egg yolks
Salted Caramel Sauce
To make the candied pepitas: Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the pepitas, sugar, salt, and egg whites in a large bowl. Stir to coat the pepitas thoroughly. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and, using a spatula, spread it into a thin layer. Transfer the sheet to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pepitas are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.
Peel the pepitas off the parchment paper and break them into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or 1 week in the fridge.
To make the cinnamon ice cream: Make an ice bath by placing a medium bowl into a larger bowl that has been partially filled with ice and water. Place 1 cup of cream in the medium bowl.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the remaining 1 cup cream, the milk, sugar, salt, and cinnamon sticks, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and ground cinnamon, and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and cover it. Let the custard base steep at room temperature for 45 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks.
Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly stream them into the custard base, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon, 5 to 7 minutes, or reaches 170˚F on a candy thermometer. Do not let custard reach the scalded stage (180˚F). Remove the pan from the heat. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl with the chilled cream. Stir the mixture over the ice bath until completely cooled. Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Churn the chilled custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. To serve, scoop the ice cream into bowls. Top with the whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce, and sprinkle the candied pepitas over the top.