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Profile: Jewelry Designer Lena Wald

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    Lena Wald
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    Cioppino
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    Clockwise from top left: bay leaves, red pepper flakes, onions, salt and pepper, garlic
  • 4/8
    Fresh herbs. From left to right: oregano, basil, parsley
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    Tomato paste (top), tomatoes
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    White wine and chicken stock
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    Seafood. From left to right: shrimp, littleneck clams, halibut
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    Garlic bread ingredients. From left to right: fresh parsley, garlic, butter, sourdough bread

Text, photos and food cooked by Michal Martinek

Dec 5, 2014

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Lena Wald is a very good cook. She has loved food as long as she can remember. Even as a young girl, she enjoyed time in the kitchen with her mom, who cooked every day and made everything from scratch. In her 20s, Lena decided to further feed her curiosity about cooking. She signed up for culinary arts classes in Los Angeles and emerged with perfect knife skills and practical knowledge of French cooking techniques.

Today, when she’s not making potato latkes and faux chicken liver for the Jewish holidays, or duck confit (discovered for the first time in Paris, where she lived with her family for two years), this mother of two sons works as a furniture curator and designs fine jewelry for her eponymous jewelry line. Best known for her spike pyramid earrings, dainty charm necklaces, and rings carved from ruby, turquoise and other precious stones, Lena Wald pieces are both current and timeless.

Hometown Los Angeles — Where do you live? Hollywood Hills — Occupation Jewelry designer, furniture curator — Signature dish There are so many, but I would say guacamole/homemade chips and blinis (though not together) — Who taught you how to cook? My mom — Favorite kitchen tool My super thin slotted spatula—couldn't do blini's without it—and my favorite chef's knife from E. Dehillerin, Paris — Always in your pantry Maldon salt — Go-to snack Bananas and peanut butter — Favorite cuisine Japanese — Do you diet? I eat healthfully — Food addictions Fried artichokes — Food allergies None — Food fad pet peeve Farm to table. I know that's a good thing, but it should just be that way without having to say it — Who’s your sous chef? My kids, William and Lincoln — Drinking while cooking? Yes! — What’s for dinner tonight? Something Indianesque: chicken tikka type of recipe, basmati rice, raita, and spiced cauliflower — Do you ever cry over spilled milk? No, just spilled beer — Best meal you ever had I recently went to a dinner at my friend Lela Rose's house, prepared by Mario Batali, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Dan Barber and Dominique Ansel - that was pretty good — Contact lenawald.com

Cioppino

Cioppino is a delicious fish stew created by Italian immigrant fishermen in the late 1800s in San Francisco. The name comes from the Italian word for “chopped up,” and historically the dish consisted of what they caught that day.

“I developed my own version because I don’t like big chunks of fish, and I prefer white wine over red,” says Lena. “It’s easy to make, and you can eat it both in summer and winter. My friend Kelly Wearstler calls it Seafood Delight.” Serve it with a good sourdough garlic bread.

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  1. Serves 6-8
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 6 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  7. 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  8. 3 teaspoons salt
  9. 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  10. 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  11. 1½ cups dry white wine
  12. 2 28-ounce cans whole plum tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
  13. 2 cups chicken stock
  14. 1½ pounds clams, such as littlenecks, scrubbed
  15. 1 pound red snapper or halibut filets, skin removed, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  16. 2 pounds large shrimp (about 16–20), tails left intact, deveined
  17. ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  18. ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish

1

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes

2

Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.

3

Stir the clams into the stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Halfway through cooking, begin checking for any opened clams and transfer them to a bowl. Continue cooking, checking frequently and removing newly opened clams. Discard any unopened clams after the full 20 minutes of cooking.

4

Lightly season the fish and shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the stock. Stir in the parsley and basil. Cover and simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard Lightly the bay leaf and return the clams to the pot. Taste for salt and serve each bowl garnished with basil.

Garlic Bread

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  1. Serves 6-8
  2. 1 large sourdough bread, sliced lengthwise
  3. 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  4. 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the butter, garlic and parsley and spread on both halves of the bread.

2

Place the two bread halves, buttered side up, on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

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