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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

Chef Leslie brings California flavor back home

If we can’t be in California right now enjoying the winter snowbird routine, then we’re going to brighten things up by recreating some of our fondest food memories at our home base in Washington state.

“Chef” Leslie’s going to walk us through the process of trying to mimic a few of the sweet and savory dishes that have been bringing a little sunshine into our winter mealtimes. Check out our Going Mobile blog for some  of the recipes.

Posole from Chico’s in Highland Park: Of course, we love ALL the taco joints we’ve visited in and around Los Angeles, but this cozy, family-run spot has a special place in our hearts because it makes the best posole ever. That soul-satisfying soup with hominy gets its slightly tangy character from a combination of fresh tomatillos in a deeply flavored broth.

When making this classic, I went off-script and incorporated some smoked chicken we had purchased at an incredible fish market and cafe in Oak Harbor, Wash.. Yes, Seabolt’s is known for its awesome fish and chips, but also produces a staggering amount of smoked fish and -- surprise! -- smoked chicken. It added another layer of flavor to this warming bowl of goodness that’s topped with shredded cabbage and chopped onions.

Tri-tip steak sandwich from Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ in Paso Robles: The wine country near San Luis Obispo is gorgeous. When sipping on a glorious Syrah or Cab, nothing tastes better than a steak sandwich. This regional specialty is good stuff, but that unique cut of beef is elusive in the Northwest. So, unless you have a trusted butcher, you can substitute with sirloin, grill it and slice it on the thin side. Slide between a buttered and toasted bun and get ready for yum.

Avocado and orange salad from my sister’s house in Pasadena: Winter citrus season is special, especially when it involves walking into my sister Laurel’s backyard to harvest some fruit right off the tree. This classic salad was first served to us by our eccentric grandmother when we were kids and we thought she was nuts. Until we took a bite. Yeah, that’s pretty good, especially the way the velvety rich avocado mellows out the tangy fruit. Also, it took me a long time to figure out it’s best to buy avocados before they ripen and stick them in a paper bag with an apple to speed that process. No more bruised and brown fruit that way.

Chicken and waffles, Roscoe’s-style: I was so proud of myself last winter when I successfully made fried chicken in our tiny kitchen. The secret to my flavorful bird? Adding a little bit of bacon grease to the cooking oil. Serve on a crispy waffle and pass the syrup. This combo used to be exotic, but it’s pretty mainstream these days and that’s a good thing, right? I can really do it up right now after I found a small waffle iron under the Christmas tree.

French onion soup burger from The Stand: A couple of years ago, I wrote a story for on where to find the best burger in Los Angeles. I probably pushed my cholesterol to the next level doing all the research. In the end, this sort of fancy burger is my fondest memory of that epic eating experience, especially because I was fortunate enough to share it with my grownup kiddo. I cannot recreate this beauty exactly, but the recent discovery of a upscale version of onion crisps gives me hope that I can get closer. The fabulous George Foreman Smokeless Grill is genius for executing this kind of project.

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.