Local Flavor

South Bay culinary wizards offer their favorite holiday fare for a memorable and merry meal.

Gingerbread Truffles

Provided by Devin Alexander, Manhattan Beach

1 cup pitted dates
2 tablespoons molasses
¼ teaspoon ground   
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Two pinches ground cloves
Two pinches ground nutmeg
2/3 cup + 2½ tablespoons
   old-fashioned oats, divided

Place the dates in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process them until they are very finely chopped and stick together. Add the molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and process until well combined, stopping the processor intermittently to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, if necessary. Add 2/3 cup oats and process until the oats are slightly chopped and the mixture sticks together. (Do not over-process the mixture at this point or it will become extremely sticky and very difficult to work with.) With a spatula, transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl.

Place the remaining 2½ tablespoons of oats on a large plate. Divide the truffle mixture into 12 equal amounts (about 1 tablespoon each). Shape each into a ball. Gently roll the truffles, one at a time, in the oats, making sure the outside is coated. Serve immediately or store in an airtight plastic container for up to three days. Makes 12 truffles.

Devin’s Note: This truffle mixture is sticky, so I recommend you remove any rings before shaping the truffles. Though the process is a bit messy, trust me that the end result is so delicious, you’ll quickly agree it’s worth it!


Mother’s Homemade Albondigas Soup

Provided by Valerie Caldera, Hermosa Beach

3 cobs of corn, cut in halves
2 pounds ground beef
1 egg
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup uncooked long-grain rice
salt & pepper
onion powder
garlic powder
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can chicken broth
garlic salt
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled & cut into cubes
2 zucchini, chopped
Optional toppings: lemon zest/juice,
   fresh cilantro, tortilla strips

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Set corn in boiling water with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes on high heat.

Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to boil. Prepare meatballs by placing ground beef in a large bowl with egg, cilantro and uncooked rice. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder (to your liking). Form into 1” balls and cook in separate pot of boiling fresh water for 20 minutes on medium-high heat. Drain and set aside.

Fill the same pot with enough fresh water to cover veggies and meatballs (may vary depending on how large your pot is). Add tomato sauce and chicken broth to water. Season with onion powder, garlic salt and garlic powder (to  your liking). Add carrots, celery, potatoes, corn and drained meatballs to pot and cover.

Cook on low for 30 minutes. Add zucchini after about 15 minutes of cooking time. Top with lemon zest/juice, fresh cilantro and tortilla strips.


Snow White Martini

Provided by Leo Villalobos, Lobby Bar at Terranea Resort

1 vanilla bean
1½ ounces simple syrup
1½ ounces Ketel One vodka
½ ounce Cointreau
½ ounce half & half

Muddle vanilla bean in simple syrup, then add to shaker with ice. Measure remaining ingredients into shaker and shake well. Pour into martini glass and top with nutmeg.