Cooking lessons from mom

"Mom started baking whole wheat bread and making yogurt, we thought she went crazy," said Akasha Richmond.

Richmond, owner of Akasha's in Culver City, is famous for her organic and natural cooking. It's something she learned early on.

"Mom's right. She looks great. This is what I'm gonna do, and I started working in a natural food store and eating more like mom," said Richmond.

Richmond perfected her mom's sour cream coffee cake, a staple at her bakery.

"She taught me how to really bake, where you alternate the wet and the dry into the butter and sugar mixture," said Richmond.

The alternating is a good way to make sure the batter is mixed thoroughly.

Then there's Jason Trevi of Fraiche, who claims his dad, not his mom, taught him to cook.

"The only thing she really hammered home to me was you always ask how things are made," said Trevi.

That's important to him as his family is Lebanese and he wants to hang on to his culinary culture.

"So I had to start asking my mom for all the Lebanese food before I don't know how to make it," said Trevi.

And while Margaux Elliott and Neil Kohan aren't chefs, both appreciate mom's values of family dining.

"My mom was an amazing cook and one of the most important things she always did is she made dinner every weeknight at least," said Elliott.

"When we were growing up, it would be we'd come home and it would be home cooked dinner together, the whole family," said Kohan.

It's no surprise my mom was instrumental in helping me to eat healthy. She made sure I ate from what used to be the four basic food groups: protein, carbohydrate, produce and fat. They all had to be on my plate.


Both Chef Akasha and Margaux Elliott shared their recipes from their mom's and are listed below:

Mom Richmond's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

For the cake:

2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

For the streusel:

1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped semi sweet chocolate or mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees. Grease and dust a 9-inch tube pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a free-standing or hand held electric mixer, cream the butter for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually and cream for 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix well after each addition.

Gently add the dry ingredients alternately with the yogurt (or sour cream) to the butter mixture, starting and ending dry. Mix lightly, do not beat.

Spoon 1/3 batter of the batter into the pan, pan, sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the struesel mixture, repeating two more times, ending with streusel on top.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Akasha Restaurant, Bar, Bakery
9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 845-1700


Margaux Elliott's mom gave her the following chicken recipe which she makes weekly.

Mom's Easy Chicken & Broccoli

Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
10 oz box frozen broccoli, thawed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chicken broth (divided)
2 tbs. cornstarch
1 tbs. olive oil
Garlic Powder

Preheat oven and cook pastry shells as directed.

Clean chicken breasts and cut into small cubes. Salt and pepper as desired.

Add olive oil and garlic to medium hot pan. Once pan starts to sizzle, add chicken cubes. Cook chicken, flipping regularly.

When chicken is browned, add broccoli and chicken broth (reserve 1/4 cup broth). Bring to a slow boil.

Mix cornstarch with remaining chicken broth and slowly pour into boiling chicken mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to add cornstarch until it reaches desired thickness. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper as desired.

Immediately spoon chicken and broccoli mixture into individual pastry shells and serve.


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