Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I just got a new cookbook. I was reading about it on the Internet and read that the author has a website where you can talk to her about the recipes and share your opinion. I thought that was really cool so I ordered the book.
Around my french table by Dorie Greenspan. I love the recipes in this book and will be cooking my way through it in the next few months.

The first recipe I tried was Endives, apples and grapes. The fruits and endive are cooked slowly in salted butter until soft and caramelized. This is really good.

                                     ENDIVES,APPLES, AND GRAPES

2 plump endives, trimmed
1 tart-sweet apple, such as Fuji or Gala
1 1/2 TBSP. salted butter
4 small clusters white or green grapes
4 small rosemary sprigs
Salt, preferably fleur de sel
Freshly ground pepper

Cut the endives lengthwise in half. Cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Peel off a thin strip of skin down the center of each quarter

Put a large skillet (nonstick is best) over low heat and toss in the butter. When it's melted, put the endive into the pan cut side down and the apples skin side up. Add the grapes, scatter over the rosemary, and cook, undisturbed, for 20 minutes, at which point the underside of the endives will have caramelized and the apples and grapes will be soft and perhaps browned. Gently turn everything over, baste with any liquid in the pan, and cook for 20 minutes more.

Transfer the ingredients to a warm serving platter or to individual plates and, using a sturdy wooden or silicone spoon, scrape up the cooking sugars sticking to the bottom of the pan. You might want to pour a few spoonfuls of water into the pan to help you nab the sugars and make a spare amount of sauce. Season the endive with salt and pepper, spoon over the jus, and serve.

Recipe from AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE by Dorie Greenspan.

The endive, apples and grapes as they started to cook.

The beautiful finished result.

OOOhhh...these were so good! I thought the grapes were to die for. The slow cooking in the butter brought out such a sweet, caramely goodness. I would love just the grapes as a side dish or on a cheese plate. You could also toss grapes with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven and get a similar yummy result.

I served this as a side dish but you could serve this as a main course for a nice vegetarian dinner.

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 for a main course.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Anyone who knows me knows that I do not bake or make desserts. I don't eat sweets often so why make them? I don't eat baked goods often so why bake them?

I was sorting through some food pictures I had taken over the years and one picture really jumped out at me. DID I REALLY MAKE THIS????? Ohhhh yes I did! This is not a cut and paste, I promise. I used a Daisy Ann pan which is a flower-shaped pan inspired by the classic Mary Ann's cake shell pans from the 1920's. It has an indentation in the top for holding custard, curds or fresh berries. I was REALLY proud of this cake. I made it for a 4th of July party. You can buy the cake pan at Williams-Sonoma or you can give me a call and borrow it!


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
16 TBSP. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup lemon curd (you can  make it but I found it at a gourmet market)
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped to medium-firm peaks
12 raspberries or 6 strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
¼ to ½ cup blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350~. Grease and flour a Daisy Ann cake pan.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until blended. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Carefully turn the cake out onto the rack and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Put the lemon curd in a bowl. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir the whipped cream into the curd until no white streaks remain. Spread the lemon curd mixture in the well of the cake. Place 1 raspberry or 1 strawberry half, cut side down, on top of the curd in each flute. Mound the blueberries in the center of the lemon curd. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

Serves 12 to 16

Recipe and pan from Williams-Sonoma.

Friday, November 26, 2010


 I decided to make mole  last week. First I googled mole and yikes....all you fellow followers try it. You get 4 pics of a most disgusting looking rodent and then a very unattractive pic of a man with an unsightly mole on his face. This almost curbed my appetite. But wait.... OH WOW..... there is a National Mole Day. I read on....Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 10^23), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. HUH WHAT??? I bet Ron knows this and understands it too...scary. So, I tried googling Mexican Chicken Mole and I found a cart load of recipes. Some complicated and some not so much. I usually try to be very authentic with my recipes but for some reason a Tyler Florence recipe for Chicken Mole Poblano caught my eye. The reviews were good although there were some comments that said it was not the real deal. I liked the fact that the prep time was only 25 minutes and along with cooking time this dish could be on the table in 55 minutes. I'm not sure what happened but I started making this at 1:00 in the afternoon and it was ready to serve at 7:00pm. That's 6 hours!!!  Well, after thinking about my afternoon I figured out how this happened.

No big deal. I can listen to her while I cook. I do this quite often. BUT THEN.....

OMG! This is my all time favorite OPRAH show to watch. Gotta see it, gotta have it, gotta see it again....rewind...rewind again...pause...write it down...run to the computer to see where to buy it, push play and repeat. I know, I'm a sick puppy. This was why it took so long but hey, I had a blast. I'm not going to post the recipe because it was just OK. Not authentic but still good. Mole is a party in your mouth, layers of flavor,lots of fun. This was good but not great. I would say that if I had never had the real deal I would love this dish. I'm going to master mole some day. I just put it on my bucket list along with all of OPRAH'S favorite things.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I had some blueberries in the fridge so I decided to make a Blueberry and Prosciutto salad. It was super quick to make and really deeelish!

8 slices prosciutto (4oz.)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 TBSP. Champagne vinegar
1 TBSP. honey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 qts. (4 1/2 oz.) lightly packed mixed baby greens
1 cup blueberries
6 oz. fresh goat cheese, divided into 4 portions

Lay 2 slices of prosciutto on each of 4 dinner plates. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 TBSP. olive oil, the vinegar, honey, and salt. Add greens and blueberries and toss gently to coat. Arrange a quarter of the salad mixture on top of each serving of prosciutto.

Heat remaining 1 TBSP. olive oil in a small nonstick pan, leaving 1" between portions. Cook until warm and starting to brown on bottom, about 4 minutes. Use a wide spatula to transfer cheese to the top of each salad.

Serves 4

We loved this salad. I think you could use a white balsamic vinegar instead of Champagne vinegar but try to use the Champagne. It gives it a special tartness.


Recipe from Sunset Magazine

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Dinner the other night was my basic roast chicken, sauteed spinach and SWEET POTATO. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet. Adding brown sugar or maple syrup and then marshmallows on top of it is uhhhh...not my favorite. I like taking something that is perfectly sweet and turning it into something HOT and SPICY!

                  Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Chili

4 small sweet potatoes of similar size, scrubbed
1 to 2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream; more for serving
1/2 to 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced to a paste
2 TBSP. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 lime cut into quarters

Heat the oven to 425~. Put the potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Cook until tender, about 50 to 55 minutes. Set on a rack to cool but leave the oven on.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice off about the top one-quarter (lengthwise) of each potato to expose the interior. Scoop out the flesh of each potato and put in a medium bowl. Leave about 1/4 inch of sweet potato attached to the skin to help retain its structure.

Mash the sweet potato flesh, sour cream, chili paste, butter and salt until smooth. Taste to see if you want more heat. Add more chipotle paste if desired. Mound the mixture into the potato skins and set them in a baking pan. Bake the stuffed potatoes at 425~ until hot, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with lime wedges and more sour cream.

Serves 4

Be sure to squeeze the lime juice on this. It really makes these extra good.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It was Taco Tuesday last week.

Let me set the mood.........

This is so simple but so good. I went to a cooking demo with Cat Cora a while back. She was talking about serving tacos in her home and when she has friends over on low carb diets she serves them a lettuce leaf taco. What a great idea. I'm not on a low carb diet but I like to eat healthy. I decided to give the lettuce leaf taco a try. I browned some ground turkey with some taco seasoning, cheese, salsa and avacado and then wrapped it in a Romaine lettuce leaf. It was really good. I think I like tacos better in lettuce leafs than in  tortillas. It's a little messy but that's part of the fun.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I love San Francisco. I HAD to go there for business (woo hoo!) so I took a couple of extra days to shop. Union Square was being decorated for Christmas and they had just opened an ice skating rink there. This was the view from my hotel room. You can see the ice skating rink in the Square.

 One night I was able to meet up with my cousin Scott and we tried a great restaurant named Beretta. We ordered some small plates.
Gnocchi with fresh porcini and guanciale.
Arugula and fennel salad with shaved parmesan.

Artisan salumi with giardiniera. We chose sopressata and hot coppa.
Roasted beets with ricotta salata.

Scampi with pancetta and cannellini.

Great time and great food.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I have never been a big fan of flank steak. Once in a while I would find a good sounding marinade for flank steak and grill it and then remind myself not to do it again.

I have had some good grilled flat iron steaks in restaurants but never noticed this cut in the grocery store. One day my friend Sharon saw one and tried it. She told me it was great so I dashed over to the store to find one.

I marinated it overnight and then we grilled it.  This is one tasty cut of meat.
Charred on the outside......
But rare on the inside. We like our meat really rare so you could cook it a little longer but PLEASE do not cook this beyond medium rare. It would be sacrilegious.
Yum! My favorite way to cook the Sweet Potato you see in the photo will be in another post.


1 Flat Iron Steak
4 large shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce

Season the steak with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag. Combine the shallots, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce in a mixing bowl. Pour the marinade into the bag and toss everything around to coat the steak evenly.

Marinate the steak for at least 2 hours but overnight is better.

Grill the steak 5-7 minutes for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice at a 45 degree angle, across the grain, into thin slices and serve.

Beef heaven...where I want to end up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


OK, so I said it. Now I'm going to out myself. I'm a closet (and sneaky) potato eater. Whenever I eat potatoes my body fluffs. I try not to eat them but I LOVE POTATOES. When I go to a restaurant and I have a choice between fries or salad I choose the salad BUT...I get really excited when the person next to me orders fries. I'm great at the distract and snatch technique. When I go to a party and chips are served I graze on the chips all night. Sometimes if I'm lucky the hostess (usually my skinny sister or my Mom) decides that she does not want leftover chips at home so she will send me  home with a Lexi bag. I usually play the game and say "oh thank you but I don't usually eat chips"...and then with a slight of hand they just end up in my bag. I go home and quietly munch myself into chip euphoria.

 Mashed potatoes are a major fluffer. I stay far away from them. Potato skins don't seem to be too bad because most of the fluff has been removed. But I still fluff a little after eating them, it must be the cheese, bacon and Ranch Dip that does it.

If I do decide to buy a potato I will buy just one. I figure that Ron and I can split one for dinner and that should have a minimal fluff effect.

I know potatoes are really fattening. In writing this post I did what most good journalists do...I mean beginning bloggers do...... and I did a fact check on potatoes. OMG! I discovered that potatoes are one of the greatest nutritional values in the produce departments. At 25 cents per serving, a medium potato (5.3oz) eaten with its skin on has just 110 calories. It has 1/2 your daily value of vitamin C and one of the best sources of potassium. AH-MAZING.

So, where am I going with this ramble? My husband does not have my problem. When he goes to the store I am sure he looks at one potato for 25 cents or.....

10 LBS. for 79 cents! I can't believe it, even the bag says It's "OK."

Ron said he wanted to make dinner tonight so I suggested he use potatoes...ya think? He baked about 6 potatoes until they were slightly firm and them he sliced them into 1/2 inch slices. He melted about 1/2 stick of butter in a cast iron skillet, layered the potatoes with cheese, salt, pepper, garlic salt and a sprinkling of herbes de provence. Then he returned it to the oven and baked it for 20 minutes and then topped it with cooked bacon pieces and a couple of eggs. He cooked it until the eggs were set and then served it. It was really good.
Looks like there was some parsley on top too.

Plated with a nice green salad. The man is awesome.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Last night I tried out my new toy.
I decided to  try smoking mozzarella cheese for a Caprese Salad.

YES...that is smoke everywhere. I'm surprised that Ron got this picture as he was frantically running around opening windows so the smoke alarm (which is connected to the Fire Dept.) would not go off. I'm not sure if I loaded the chamber with too much wood or if this happened because it was the first time it had been used. The smoke filled the zip lock and then I sealed the bag and let the smoke permeate into the cheese. I used apple wood chips for flavor.

The results were pretty good. The smoky flavor added a new dimension to one of our favorite salads, however, we did need to add a lot more balsamic vinegar to balance out the flavor of the smoke. The verdict...I would do it again but use a little less smoke.

I also roasted a couple of pork chops and when they were finished I put them in a Pyrex dish, covered it with plastic wrap and then I put the smoke tube into the dish and blasted them with some apple wood smoke. Ron didn't get a picture of this technique. I think he was running for the fire extinguisher about that time. The verdict...a slight smoky flavor on the chop. Next time I would add more smoke.

Next weekend I am going to smoke a Bloody Mary! Yes....it can be done, I saw it on YOU TUBE.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


This was our first time planting a vegetable garden. Not only did we learn from our  mistakes but the weather wreaked havoc on our poor vegetables. We had a full summer of fog and then right after we planted our fall/winter garden we had 95 degree weather followed by rain, lightning and thunder, more sun and more rain. I had intended to cut some chard from the garden for dinner but I had a little trouble finding a good uh...leaf.

So, sorry little chard disaster. I came home with this.

Lately I have been removing the ribs and then heating some EVOO with two smashed garlic cloves. I prefer smashing them, and then letting them cook for a few minutes in the olive oil before putting the chard in the pan. I remove the  garlic when the chard is ready. When I used to chop, mince or grate the garlic I would find that sometimes there would be a bitter garlic taste.

The chard cooking and the plated meal. Grilled chicken breast, Swiss Chard and a garlic cheese biscuit.

I'm new at taking photos of my food. This photo reminds me of the first model kicked off The Next Top Model. Too stiff, too composed and no personality. My cousin is a professional photographer and he has promised to help me over Thanksgiving or Christmas. Thanks Scott!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


California voted NOT to legalize marijuana. I was shocked. Even my ultra conservative 88 year old father voted for it. GO DAD!! When we were discussing the issue I asked him if he remembered prohibition. He told me that he remembered when people started growing figs out on the Channel Islands. They would make fig brandy and the boats would bring it in to Henry's Beach here in Santa Barbara. I asked him if his family would go to the beach to buy hooch and he said no....his father was a chemist and figured out how to make his own hooch at home. GO GRAMPS!

After all the brouhaha over prop 19 I felt like smoking something so I went to the only legal pot store I know and this is what I came home with.


Disclaimer...I don't smoke pot, I just think it should be legalized and taxed.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese and a Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Dinner last night was Ravioli Carbonara with browned butter and sage and a great Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese and warm Bacon Vinaigrette. The Ravioli came from Trader Joes (fresh) and then I browned some butter and threw in some fresh sage leaves until they crisped. I wanted to put fresh figs on the salad but after visiting 4 stores I gave up.
                        Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese and Warm Vinaigrette

2 slices thick-cut Smoked Bacon
1 Shallot peeled and thinly sliced
4 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
Sea Salt and fresh cracked Black Pepper
1 large bunch Baby Arugula
4oz. Smoked Blue Cheese
1 pint fresh Figs

Cook bacon until crispy, remove from  pan and set aside. Pour off most of the bacon fat and reserve it for later. Leave a small amount of bacon fat in the pan. Add sliced shallots to the pan and quickly cook over medium heat until soft.

Remove pan from heat and add the vinegar to the shallot mixture. Whisk well. Put mixture in a small bowl and add the mustard. Combine well.

Put 3-4 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat back into the pan and heat over medium heat. When fat is hot, carefully and vigorously whisk in the shallot mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss together the arugula, the bacon (cut into slices) the blue cheese and the figs. Drizzle the bacon vinaigrette over the salad and serve.

Cooking the Ravioli with this really cool scoop my friend Sharon brought me from Europe.

The meal.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


 It's fall and creeping up on winter. We are finally having the summer that escaped us this year. Yesterday screamed for a barbecue but last week when it was cool and even rainy we stocked up on some of my fall favorites. We found a beautiful Acorn Squash and some nice Sweet Potatoes at the Farmers Market. I decided to go for the fall meal despite the warm weather. I roasted the Acorn Squash and then stuffed it with herbs, dried cranberries, quinoa and spicy Italian turkey sausage. I topped it off with a mix of Panko breadcrumbs and grated asiago cheese. Ron, (my DH) said he wasn't really hungry when  he saw the squash. I think he couldn't wrap his head around the fall meal on a summer night. I asked him to at least take a nibble. He did, and after the first yum he finished the whole thing.

and it was healthy too...woo hoo!