I’ve decided to keep it small and simple this year for our summer garden and we’re only using the two smaller raised beds we have. There’s more space available for gardening, just no space in my life right now for more of me gardening. I’m happy with what I’ve got and so far, so good.
This year, there have been no garden monsters, thankfully, pulling up my plants.
I can’t wait for summer.
Why? Is it because I’ll have big fat vine ripe tomatoes in my garden? Yes…but, no.
Is it because I love bright sunshiney days and summer salads like the one below? Yes…but, no.
It’s because I have plans. Oh yes, BIG plans and they don’t even involve a trip somewhere across the world. Instead of a trip, we’re doing a full-on kitchen remodel. A t
It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? How can something with a name so funky, taste so luscious? It’s the magic of chemistry that turns basic ingredients like sugar, eggs, butter and lemon, with a little heat, into a silky, sweet, and tangy spread that you would swear should not have a name like curd.
The pairing of lemon and chocolate is one of my favorites and goes all
After my recent rant about pesto, I thought it only fair to share a new dish using home made pesto sauce. This recipe gets bonus point for being easy. It’s something you can throw in the oven to cook, then grill a piece of fish or chicken while it’s cooking and you have a meal in about half an hour.
These vegetables are something I’ve been making at least once a week for the p
A few years ago on a trip to Rome, I met an American woman living in Milan who is married to an Italian man. She mentioned how her mother in law is so strict about the provenance of her food that she would never even consider eating pasta al pesto outside her home region of Genoa. At the time, I simultaneously scoffed at the idea and sat in awe of the level of conviction it takes to adhere to on
Slow cooker, crock pot, Dutch oven; call it what you will, but all of these vessels utilize the same cooking process; one that is low and slow and yields the ultimate in slow cooking satisfaction; a house filled with tantalizing smells, and a warm, hearty meal which is easy to cook and serve. We may be into Spring weather now, but there are still plenty of chilly days that have me yearning for s
In Southern California, fennel grows wild along the highway, a product of some long ago wayward seed blown by the wind or dropped by a bird. The frothy fronds with their wispy yellow flowers grow as tall as a tree alongside the stretch of coastline going through Camp Pendleton between Los Angeles and San Diego. I’ve often considered pulling over to see what they’d be like if I tried to dig
There is over a century of history surrounding the recipe for Oysters Rockefeller and as many recipes out there as there are varieties of oyster. Created in 1899 at Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans, the dish was a version of one originally made for snails. Legend has it that when it was first eaten, people said it was “rich enough for a Rockefeller,” hence the name. One
So now that we’ve talked about the history of oysters, the different types and where they come from, and you’ve seen how to buy, clean and open raw oysters, how about making some sauces to go with them? Below are some of the most traditional ways to serve oysters. My favorite is mignonette sauce, or just completely unadorned. How do you like your oysters?
For a historical background on oysters, please read Oysters Part 1-Introduction; The seduction from the sea.
Buying, Care and Cleaning:
Buy the freshest oysters possible from cold waters (look for oysters from the Pacific Northwest, both coasts of Canada, and places in the far southern hemisphere like New Zealand and Chile). Do not eat or buy any whole oysters which are open as this means they
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.” -Ernest Hemingway
Oysters are one o
I was in Istanbul last year, and while I shared the gorgeous markets, I didn’t really share the fantastic food in the various restaurants we tried. I’ve put a post on my travel blog with much more detail. If your travel plans include Turkey any time soon, take a look. Even if they don’t, perhaps you’ll find some culinary inspiration in the photos; I know I did when eating
Has everyone just about given up on their New Year’s resolutions to eat healthy yet? It’s about that time now when people start making exceptions in their new diet and take “just a day off” from going to the gym, isn’t it?
Well, here’s one more thing to tempt you (she said with a devilish lilt in her voice), Ginger Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream. I originally crea
It’s that time of year again isn’t it? When we all start wondering why our jeans are just a little too tight, feeling that post-holiday letdown, and seeing the ads for gym memberships, weights and exercise outfits. Everyone is ready to get fit, get lean, and start eating healthy, myself included.
I learned a long time ago to stop buying those gym memberships (I know myself all too w
One of the pleasures of being a comfortable cook and having some basics on hand is that you can throw together something to eat at (relatively) the last minute. Case in point; after the holidays I had a little over a pound of beef from a standing rib roast. It was beautifully cooked rare, and I anticipated that we’d make sandwiches with the leftovers. But days passed and for whatever reason,
I’m well aware that I’m more than a little whole grain obsessed. Whole grains are certainly good for you, and while I’m always trying to eat healthy, this dish is a little bit naughty, and a little bit nice, if you catch my meaning. It’s healthy in that it uses the whole grain, farro, instead of the typical arborio rice used in risotto, but it’s a little naughty bec
Last month I spent nine days in Morocco and one of the highlights was a food focused tour through the old town medina with Plan-it Fez.
We were met at our riad (a courtyard centered hotel) by Gail Leonard, a British expat who lives in Fez and runs Plan-it Fez with her business partner and fellow expat Michelle Reeves. Gail lives right smack in the center of the souk (shopping area) of Fez which
Last year I visited Naples Italy for the first time. After a lengthy journey from Los Angeles, I met up with my mother at the Rome train station and together we took the high speed train to Naples.
I was so fried from the 24 hours of travel that I could barely think straight, let alone figure out where to have dinner. Normally I have a carefully curated list of restaurants in a neat little (sel
It’s like pudding, only better.
Why? Because it’s richer, denser and well, Italian, which automatically makes it better, right?
This is no ordinary pudding. There is no comparison with anything J-E-L-L-O. The stuff that comes out of those little boxes is like comparing salmon eggs to Beluga caviar, like chopped liver to foie gras, like cubic zirconia to diamonds. This is t
Here in Southern California, summer is not quite over. We’ve been pushing temperatures in the 90′s for the last two weeks and it certainly doesn’t inspire any cooking which requires slaving over a hot stove or even turning on the oven. That’s why I’m so enamored lately by cold salads which can do double duty. They can serve as a side dish or the main course later in
The media is awash in the benefits of “whole grains” these days. So much that the big food companies have jumped on board touting “whole grains” in everything from cookies to crackers to Cheerios. While my guess is that those products might be slightly better for you than their more processed counterparts, I can’t help but feel this is a bit akin to greenwashing.
This year’s garden was a massive failure and disappointment. I’m not saying this to whine about it. Really, it’s more along the lines of ”What the $#@!??” and my ever growing frustration. I’ve had big gardens and small ones. I’ve had very successful ones and this one, not so much. It started well, but while a bunch of big green plants might be pretty, i
It’s been hot here in Southern California. Really hot. Hot, as in the lawn has turned crispy, hot. Hot, as in run the A/C all night long, hot. Hot, as in melt your ipad case in the car, hot. Yep. That last one happened to my husband. He’s lucky the ipad still works.
When the weather is as unrelenting as it has been, I only want to eat cold food, and salads like this one serve double
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you’ll know that besides food, my biggest passion is travel. When the two intersect, I’m in heaven. So it’s natural that when I travel, I search out recommendations for the best food I can find, be it street food, restaurants, or markets. Likewise, I thought I’d share some of my favorite experiences here in case any of
My very first restaurant job was in part, by accident. I was in college and was interested in becoming a chef instead of the psychologist I was studying to be. Ever practical (having 3 jobs to put yourself through college will do that to a person), I decided to try working in a restaurant before spending even more money on a culinary education.
I found myself in a local Italian place which was
I’ve always wanted to make a clafoutis, but never had until recently. Something about the name sounds so romantic to me (maybe because it’s French?), which is odd considering this is really quite an easy, homestyle dessert.
What is a clafoutis, you ask? Think of a cross between a dense custard and a thick pancake, baked with fruit. Some recipes call more more or less flour or fewer
Morocco has become a bit of an obsession lately. Maybe it’s cooking from Paula Wolfert’s book, The Food of Morocco, or maybe my trip to Turkey just whet my appetite for that part of the world, but now I’m planning a trip to Morocco in the fall.
Paula Wolfort’s book is fantastic and I even had the good fortune to hear her speak in person and have her sign my book a few m
I was recently called in to do jury service and was placed on a panel for five days. While it was a somewhat interesting case, and I was happy to do my civic duty, I most looked forward to lunch. At first glance, the downtown area around the Superior court building and city hall might look like a culinary wasteland, but if you’re willing to walk a few blocks there are literally hundreds of
It’s safe to say that just about everyone likes ice cream, right? What’s not to like? Good ice cream has all the qualities of the perfect husband; sweet, rich and satisfying. Ok, just kidding. Maybe. A little.
But once again, I’ve had my assumptions challenged, this time by a fifteen year old boy who told me at dinner the other night he just “doesn’t like ice cream
I seriously debated whether or not I wanted to spend the time, effort and money to do a garden this year. In the past we’ve built raised beds, I tracked every expense to see if it’s worth it, and last year only planted half a garden. This year, even though I was a bit late in getting started, I decided to jump in all the way and plant every bit of space in our raised beds. With a lit
Cooking in the vortex.
That phrase could have multiple meanings, both literally and figuratively.
Figuratively, it could stand for so much; cooking while the world spins around you, cooking at the center of the storm, cooking amid chaos. We all have our own types of chaos in our lives. One person’s version of chaos, could be another’s good day. I try to remember this when I have on
My mother doesn’t know it yet, but she already had her Mother’s Day Dinner at my house, a couple of weeks ago. Once again, she’s off galavanting around the world and will be gone on Mother’s Day, this time to Istanbul and Italy. Had she been in town, I would have made this for her on Sunday. Instead, a few weeks ago she asked if I could get some wild salmon, the first of
Recipe for Middle Aged Weight Creep
1 cup sit all day
2 lbs eat whatever is put in front of your face
1 dash too much work
1 generous spoonful of no exercise
1 pinch of laziness
Serves: two ever-widening hips.
I’ve got to do something about this. In the past I’ve tried cleanse diets, and they work, like any diet will, until you stop doing it and slide back into old habits.
A couple of months ago I mentioned I got Paula Wolfort’s gorgeous book, The Food of Morocco as a gift. The first thing I made was preserved lemons but had to wait a month for them to finish curing. Then, a few weeks ago, we had family visiting and I decided to go all out, making five dishes from this book, a veritable Moroccan feast. In later posts I will share some of the other dishes I made, b
I was never a Girl Scout, but I am always prepared.
Make that almost always prepared.
Every year we throw a New Year’s Day brunch party. Over the years it has grown to about 40 people, complete with pounds and pounds of bacon, kick ass Bloody Marys, Hoppin’ John, crepes, pizzas and more. Two years ago, the party which started before noon, lasted well into the evening. We literally
I’ve always said “I don’t like cabbage.” At least I thought I didn’t, until I had this dish. I am now a convert.
I’m still not a huge fan of regular head cabbage. I’ve never understood the allure of traditional cole slaw, brussles sprouts (I don’t care how you roast them or how much bacon you add) and I don’t particularly care for kimchi. If
I’m frugal, I’ll admit it. I don’t mind spending money when I feel there is good bang for the buck (example, I’ll spend more for hotel room with a great view), but if I can make it myself, better and cheaper, then I will. That’s just a bonus, isn’t it?
When I decided I wanted to make a cheesecake with a chocolate crust for Thanksgiving (and then again for Ch
A gallon of preserved lemons? What was I thinking? The more the merrier? That I wanted to have a big Moroccan themed party and I’d need a lot of preserved lemon? I honestly don’t know. I think it was something along the lines of , “well, if a little is good, then a lot must be great!”
I received Paula Wolfort’s gorgeous book, The Food of Morocco as a Christmas gift
Last week was one of the most personally challenging in recent memory. You know the expression “when life hands you lemons…”? Last week, life threw oranges the size of softballs at me. The week included the death of our beloved cat Basil (ode below), a wicked cold which left me gasping for breath (still am), and hurricane force winds (in Los Angeles!) which caused damage to our
Lately I’ve had an obsession with vanilla beans. Don’t ask me why, I just think everything tastes better with a little real vanilla bean added to it. This is coming from someone who has always been a chocolate girl at heart. While chocolate is my longtime love, vanilla beans are my latest crush. Unlike adding vanilla extract, using the fresh bean will actually perfume your food. You
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, probably because it’s all about food and there’s no gift buying pressure.
Our family’s Thanksgiving tradition is a little different from most. It started back when my mother was a young graduate student at Berkely in the early 70′s. I remember it clearly and I couldn’t have been more than 4 years old at the time. We
This is the last installment in a three part series on some of my favorite food experiences in Tokyo and Kyoto Japan. If you missed it, make sure you check out part 1, Noodles, Unagi and Tempura and Tonkatsu and part 2, Yakatori; Izakaya, Sushi, and Okonomiyaki. This post will focus on the incredible and diverse markets and food halls in Tokyo and Kyoto.
Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market
If people kn
We have an ongoing battle surrounding our persimmon tree with the squirrels in our neighborhood.
It’s actually pretty simple; they eat the persimmons, sometimes tossing them aside after only a few bites, and we shake our fists at them, yell, and sometimes cry. It’s quite sad, but only for us. I think the squirrels are fairly happy with the deal.
To add insult to injury, it seems th
The height of tomato season in my garden seems to be mid August. It doesn’t matter when I plant, or how I stagger the planting, every August shows the bulk of the tomato crop. This year I did a little better, getting some tomatoes to last into September, including a second crop off my Celebrity plant. Some of you who live in colder climates may not start planting until later (I plant in Ap
This is part 2 of a 3 part series on some of my favorite food experiences in Tokyo and Kyoto Japan. If you missed it, make sure you check out part 1, Noodles, Unagi and Tempura and Tonkatsu.
Yakatori Daitoryo in Ameyoko Market, Tokyo
We were strolling though the market when we found ourselves stopped in our tracks by the smell of grilling meat. The mouth watering smell was coming fr
When our neighbor offered figs from her tree, I called my mother and asked her if she wanted some to make jam. She had been in a jam making frenzy this summer making over 100 jars of various flavors (strawberry vanilla bean being my favorite) to the point where I threatened a canning intervention. But since neither of us could let good home grown food go to waste, she took some and I used the re
The tagline for this site is “Cook. Eat. Travel. Grow.” I’ve been a little remiss in keeping up with the “Travel” part, so I thought it’s time to include some of my favorite food experiences from a trip to Japan over the next few weeks. In October I’m headed back to Rome, Naples and Paestum (the home of buffalo mozzarella!) so I’ll also be writing
In Southern California summer starts early and ends late. Some people say we have no real “seasons” here, but that’s not really true. We have them, they’re just a little more muted than in other places. That, and we don’t have to suffer things like ice storms or 90% humidity, so really, I can’t complain. Still, as we head into October, I find myself craving th
There is a saying, “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”
We had plans for this weekend, oh yes. Big ones which involved flying to another city, a nice hotel room and dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant with friends. We’d been planning it for months. Those four days were going to be the only getaway my husband David and I would have together this summer and we were
Wow! It tastes like pizza! said a friend when I gave him a scoop.
That’s not exactly what you want to hear when you’re making a dessert sorbet, right?
Inspired by some fresh berries and an abundance of basil sitting on my counter, I made this sorbet for a party last month. I was surprised at how much everyone seemed to enjoy it (the pizza comment notwithstanding). And no, I donR