Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Cocktail of the Week: A Summertime Shandy

Word on the street is that it’s not just this fair city suffering through this crazy heat wave…its pretty much everywhere. (We are so self-centered around these parts that the news only just got to us. Wink.) Well my dearies, that calls for a drink! A cool and refreshing drink. Come on now kids, it’s the best way to beat the heat!

In an attempt to tease me as I served this liquid gold to him the other night, my friendly neighbor The Ombudsman (who adoringly claims he only reads this blog for mocking-material.) light-heartedly queried “Is this lemonade made from lemons your stole from trees around the neighborhood?”

And what was my gleeful reply?


Having been looking for a new place to live for the last few weeks,* I have had the great fortune (in un-occupied homes only) to see not only lemon trees staggering under the weight of their sun-kissed fruit, but several feral gardens just begging to be attended to. Can you blame a girl for nipping a lemon or two? (Or six?) So that is exactly what I did. And with said lemons, I made lemon-fire pasta, limoncello, preserved lemons and lemonade. It was wonderful. The lemonade I poured with Samuel Adams Summer Ale - which, I thought sounded like beverage perfection, owing to the claim it is “brewed with lemon and grains of paradise.” Doesn’t that sound heavenly? It was. The combination, while sounding a bit off, is really exhilarative on a muggy day. So try this, and enjoy. I certainly did.

1 bottle Samuel Adams Summer Ale (available nationwide April – August) or any light ale
1 pint fresh lemonade (1 cup lemon juice, 2 cups simple syrup, water to taste)

Fill two frosted pint glasses half way with lemonade. Top, slowly, with the ale. Imbibe. It should end up in layers. My glassful was, it just didn't come out in the photos! Doh!

Makes two. Doubles, triples and quadruples nicely.

*I know, if you are a long time reader you might be wondering what that is all about. Well, it’s a long boring story, but after just four short months of dwelling this gorgeous, entertaining-friendly, large and breezy house, with a kitchen-to-die-for, troubles with the absolutely sadistic landlady have forced me to find solace elsewhere. Sigh. Good news is, due to her outrageously abusive nature, I’m supposedly getting back every penny I paid in rent these last four months! How awesome is THAT! I know! Pretty awesome. Still, moving is the worst. Sigh. Anyone know of a duplex for rent in the Mid-Wilshire/Bev Hills/WeHo area?


Grains of Paradise: a West African spice with a pungent, peppery flavor. The seeds have a pungent, peppery taste. Grains of paradise are commonly employed in the cooking styles of West and North Africa. Today it is also used in the brewing of Samuel Adams Summer Ale and the distilling of Bombay Sapphire Gin. – Wikipedia

A shandy (shortened form of shandygaff) is a cocktail made from a mixture of beer (often ale) and a non-alcoholic beverage. The non-alcoholic beverage is usually lemonade in Europe and ginger ale in the Caribbean. The proportions of the two ingredients are adjusted to taste, normally half-and-half, although shandy sold in tins is typically much weaker, around 1 part beer to 10 parts lemonade. - Wikipedia

McDonald's, KFC, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons and Unilever were to pledge yesterday not to use soya illegally grown in the Amazon region in response to evidence that large areas of virgin forest are being felled for the crop. The companies say they will not deal with the four trading giants who dominate production in Brazil unless they can show they are not sourcing soya from areas being farmed illegally. The deal, brokered by Greenpeace which, in an investigation, linked the illegal destruction of the forest to large-scale soya farming financed by US-based commodity multinationals Cargill, ADM and Bunge. Investigators spent three years tracing the movement of soya from illegal plantations in the Amazon through the US-based firms to chicken factories in European countries. The Guardian


Monday, July 24, 2006


Cherry-Lingonberry Fruit Pies with Rosemary and Black Pepper

My dear friend The Ombudsman has already predicted this post, so here goes, in his (paraphrased) words:

This weekend was awesome! Forget the record setting heat, it was the company and the entertainment that really made it h-o-t!

After a raucous night at the world famous Hollywood Bowl, watching kitch singing sensation Tom Jones gyrate and the undies fly (actually, much to our disappointment, no panties flew on stage at all, I guess Tom is losing his touch.) and seeing my darling friend The Lucky Artist put on an amazing show, we were off to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (yes kids, cemetery.) to watch that fantabulous camp classic, Dressed To Kill on the big, big screen (wall.) with 1000 of our closest friends (most of which who griped that we didnt stop giggling for one single second of the film. oops.), a few (oksay, five) bottles of fantastic wine and a big fat picnic.

With not a lot of time between realizing we were going and the actual event, temperatures in LA were soaring, and I had to think fast to pull of a meal that would wow The Rock Goddess, tantalize The Ombudsman and leave Ms. McGee salivating for more. (Poor dear had just flown back from a respite in Texas and her presence was more than appreciated) All that and I wanted it to be primarily hand-held food, so no one would have to peel their eyes off of the screen (Rudolph Valentino’s crypt actually) while messing around with forks and whatnot.

What to make! What to make! With no time to run to the market, the answer, while simple, involved a few quick turns, and voila, Cherry-Lingonberry Fruit Pies with Rosemary and Black Pepper. (To compliment the Spinach-Feta and Hazelnut Spanikopita, Dolmas and Israeli Couscous salad) They were, if I do-say-so-myself, glorious. Sophisticated, and yet, still basically cool fruit pies to be savored on a warm summer night. The addition of rosemary from the hedge outside was a last minute one, and I really think made these truly special. I used dried cherries, but fresh, obviously, work too. We had just eaten all my fresh ones the night before! Now try this, and enjoy!

Your favorite pie dough recipe, enough for two nine inch pies
½ cup dried tart cherries
2 teaspoons rum
1 large pinch black pepper
1 tiny pinch of salt
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 pear, peeled and diced
½ cup fresh lingonberries (or lingonberry jam, available at Ikea!)
½ cup white sugar
2 heaping tablespoons corn starch
Milk to glaze

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, a baking mat or foil.

Combine the cherries, rum, pepper, salt and rosemary and heat over a low flame for two minutes. Set aside to cool for ten minutes (you can also microwave the fruit for 45 seconds. That’s what I really did.) then add the pear, lingonberries, sugar and corn starch. Mix to combine.

Roll out your pie dough into four 7 inch circles.

Divide the fruit mixture evenly between the four circles. (On the lower ½) Fold over, pinch to seal. Using a fork, pierce the top of the pies a few times to allow ventilation. Brush lightly with milk. (You could also sprinkle some more sugar on top at this point) Bake for 35 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly.

Makes four large pies.


Lingonberries are a dark red soft fruit, traditionally used in Swedish cooking

Following its venture into healthier cuisine, McDonald's Australia is preparing to cook up "fusion foods". The fast food chain today announced the trial of a new initiative it said would "satisfy the more cosmopolitan palate". The new "My Dinner Now" menu will introduce meals with Thai, Indian and Italian influences. The four dishes on trial are lemongrass chicken with penne pasta, rendang beef and penne pasta, beef bolognese penne pasta, and orange, lime and ginger chicken. But only people living in the New South Wales Newcastle/Hunter region will be able to sample them in the near future. The menu is being trialled in 19 of the region's McDonald's restaurants from July until October this year, with a view to a national roll-out in 2007. Courier Mail News Australia

Jack: Would you like some Egyptian Pie?
Jill: What's Egyptian pie?
Jack: You know, the kind mummy used to make.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006


Weekend Cat Blogging #58

Why hello there my peaches!

I haven’t ever participated in Weekend Cat Blogging, (mostly because I don't own any pets. This poofy pile of fur belongs to Baby Barc) but this picture of sweet little (or, you know, not-so-little) Tiki with her tragic broken paw (The boy cat pushed her off of a chair. It was really quite pathetic.), well, I just couldn’t resist sharing.

She may not be mine, but she certainly has my heart.

Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend (heaven knows, I am!) and I’ll see you Monday (or, thereabouts.)


Rachael and Tiki

Thursday, July 20, 2006


MADE IN L.A. - Marsha's Tasty Treats

I love my mother. If you knew her, you would too. Gracious, kind, artistic and yet level-headed. Very positive attributes indeed. She really is a living doll.

Yes indeedy, my mother is a peach. Though I do wonder - what with her knowing me so well and all - if we could ever go into business together. My money is on no. We just don't have that mother-daughter entrepreneur thing going, the way the ladies at Marsha's Tasty Treats seem to. Their super-hot business is the focus of today's installment of MADE IN L.A. my on-going quest to find delectable products made right here in glorious Los Angeles, CA.

According to their website, the extra-fab Marsha and her health-conscious daughter Brooke decided to take on the challenge of creating something tasty that pretty much anyone with any food restriction one could come up with, can eat. Their products are raw, low-fat, low-carb, gluten free, vegan and I'm sure a few other things. But what they really are is simply fabulous.

Or as they would say, TASTY!

First up I tried their adorably named Mango Choc Crocs. They are basically dried (yet still pliable) slices of mango topped with a naturally sweet chocolate-like combination of dates, cocoa and coconut. Chewy and delicious, they are perfect light energy treat. The tangy mango is mellowed by the thick-rich topping. I simply loved the combination of fruit flavors. Yum!

Next up (and what is pictured above) I had the caramel cups. A vanilla-coconut cup filled with raw caramel and topped with chocolate and coconut shavings. Oh. My. Really? This is good for me? I'm skeptical because it tasted so utterly fantastic I started to swoon. As a coconut fiend, its not hard to see why. According to their site, these darlings are comprised of coconut, flaxseed, cacao nibs, agave, banana, dates, spices and sea salt. Sweet, chewy (really quite chewy) and abound with flavor, these are one of my new favorite desserts. And don't be fooled by the diminutive size that one cup made up three servings, it was that fantastically decadent (and yet, guilt free!).

I also got a chance to nibble on a berry slice, made with blueberries, cranberries, coconut, flaxseed, cacao nibs, almond, agave, spices and sea salt. This made it evident that Marsha's Tasty Treats knows what they are doing and who they are catering to. A simple yet elegant dessert, packed with antioxidents, energy and omega three, it reminded me of a very upscale energy bar. And I mean that in a good way! The consumer who wants a beautiful dessert without guilt, but still packed with flavor will not want to miss out on these. Mmm. Tangy, sweet and remarkable.

Marsha's Tasty Treats are available at Whole Foods Markets in Los Angeles. I say, if you are up for something new, (aren't afraid of a somewhat high price tag) and want to eat something that was prepared with love and concern for your balance and well being, you can't go wrong picking up one of these snacks. Try them, and enjoy!


Today is National Lollipop Day

Looking for a Raw Foods restaurant in LA? Try Juliano's!

Its high content of alpha linolenic acids has made the ancient flax seed become our modern miracle food. Alpha linolenic acid is a type of omega 3 fatty acid, similar to those found in fish such as salmon. Benefits of flax seed as shown in many studies include lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. – Health Castle.com


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Coffee and Chile Braised Short Ribs

Does my cooking have deeper meaning? Does it somehow reflect who I am or who I want to be? Does what I chose to serve, and how I serve it, offer insight into my psyche? Is there really a way to analyze my life by rummaging through my sideboard, my cupboards and my crisper?

What would a culinary psychologist think of a girl like me? (And really, aren't these questions a bit heavy for a kid who really just wants to cook?)

Unfortunately, there isn't really any way to find out, now is there? Well, other than to walk you through my latest menu, and ask...what do you think? Does this sound like a meal made by a someone you would want to get to know?

You see, all of this yammering is leading up to this...I wanted to make something that would wow the boy without giving the impression I was going overboard in my quest to impress. (And, so he would make out with me afterwards. My friend The Chemist claims this should have led to a proposal -- he had the leftovers after all -- but I was satisfied with the aforementioned make-out session)

It had to be appealing, but not intimidating, simple and elegant, yet familiar. And of course, rife with big, bold flavors. I aimed to make something that seemed complex, but was actually a breeze to pull off (Then again, I will always feign it was easy. True or not. I’m just a 1950’s throw-back girl that way. Service with a smile.) and serves up in a flash.

With all that in mind I devised a menu that I was able to make almost all of ahead, leaving time to enjoy the night, the company and (of course) the bottle of bubbly.

We started the night off with some basic appetizers, while enjoying fresh mango margaritas (it was sweltering that day, and they come together SO easily in my ice cream maker!) and a bottle of Champagne, then it was on to the main event.

What was the main event? Why my dears, it was a delightful plate of coffee and ancho chile braised short ribs on a bed of smoked mashed potatoes that were garnished with Maine smoked sea salt (I actualy did smoke the potatoes too, in my smoker. Silly, since it only imparted a little bit of flavor, but a fun experiment none-the-less. Next time I think I will just add liquid smoke to the mashed potatoes and top them with the smoked salt. Less dangerous.) blanched then buttered haricot vert with minced garlic; and balsamic glazed cipollini onions. And for dessert? A tart and refreshing pudding cake. See? Simple, elegant, yet bold.

The combination of flavors and colors was perfect. Spicy, smoky, rich and smooth, crisp, bitter, sweet and all together delicious.

So what does this all say about me? Have I exposed my inner self or is it just a tasty meal truly devoid of Freudian undertones. I wonder. I really do. Though whatever it may say about my inner workings, it certainly looked and tasted divine.

I admit the picture up there is of the leftovers, (which is why the meat isn’t quite falling apart the way it was the evening before) and there weren’t much of those to contend with, but I hope you get the idea, and that you will try this, and enjoy! And when you do, tell me, is that not perfection? I think so.

2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
½ cup flour
Vegetable oil as needed
2 carrots, peeled, large dice
1 large brown onion, large dice
3 stalks celery, large dice
3 cloves garlic, in paper (in other words, not peeled)
3 large dried New Mexico chiles
½ cup boiling water
1 chipotle chile
1 teaspoon adobo sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup brewed coffee
4 cups water or beef stock
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt to taste

Salt the meat generously and set aside for at least two hours.

Pour the boiling water over the dried chiles and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water (reserving the liquid), de-stem and de-seed and add to your mini food processor (or just chop by hand).

In a dry skillet, toast the garlic cloves until slightly browned. Remove, let cool slightly, peel and add to the chiles.

Puree the re-hydrated chiles, the chipotle and the adobo with the garlic and some of the reserved water until smooth. Set aside.

Pour the flour onto a plate.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven on your stove top over medium heat.

Dredge the meat in the flour and add to the pot in small batches, turning once or twice to brown evenly. When all the meat is browned, remove and set aside while you quickly sauté the vegetables. When the vegetables are browned, add the chile mixture, the coffee, tomato paste, vinegar and 4 cups of water. Reduce the heat and simmer for three hours or until the meat is falling apart. (Check periodically, if the liquid level gets low, add more water) Remove the lid and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes to slightly thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings.

This is best made the day before and re-heated, but it is also good right off the stove top.

Serves six


Cipollini Onions: Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee this is a smaller, flat, pale onion. The flesh is a slight yellowish color and the skins are thin and papery. These are sweeter onions, having more residual sugar than yellow onions, but not as much as shallots. The advantage to cipollinis is that they are small and flat.

Adobo: A seasoning paste, usually containing ground chiles, vinegar, garlic and spices

Save The Reel Inn!

While waiting for your fish tacos and grilled halibut, sign the petition to rescue your fave fish shack from being shut down by the man.
Mon.-Thurs, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.Where: 18661 Pacific Coast Hwy, near Topanga Canyon Blvd., Malibu (310-456-8221).

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Monday, July 10, 2006


Raspberry Tequila Pops

So Pearl Jam played a concert last night. Ah, Pearl Jam. One of the world’s most rockin’ bands (at least, back when I was a kid), featuring a hot singer and the word Jam in their name. Mmm. Jam. What more could a girl ask for? Oh wait, I’m so silly! I didn’t go to the Pearl Jam concert! I went to see Kristin Chenoweth. I must be growing up.

You know Kristin. That tiny lady with the crazy-big voice from Wicked, and, apparently, The West Wing. (Who knew? Wait, I know. People who watch that show!) Yea, her. Cute little thing, and lordy, can she ever belt out a tune. A. May. Zing. Kinda a different vibe than a rock show: lots more children and middle-aged couples, but you know what? It still kicked A**!

Anyway, the nice thing about The (beautiful, outdoor) Greek, where Ms. Chenoweth was playing, versus The (giant, arena) Forum, where Mr. Vedder and crew were rockin’ out, is that the good folks at the Greek allow picnicking and practically encourage alcohol consumption. Friendly-like, wouldn’t you say?

So with that grand knowledge Ms. McGee and I traipsed off to the lovely venue with our basket overflowing. Booze and snacks and more booze and some more snacks, and it was good. Actually, the best part (aside from the company. Natch.) were the popsicles. It was just so flash-back fabulous to have something icy cold to enjoy after our gluttons feast. How did I get them there? Why, I transported them with dry ice! Yes, I'm that hard-core. You on the other hand, can enjoy them in the privacy of your own home, or wherever the fancy strikes.

These are my grown-up version of a childhood favorite (kinda like Pearl Jam today versus Pearl Jam circa 1992 I suppose) and they are slurpy-slushy, tangy-sweet, delicious treats indeed. The garnish of rock salt wasn’t my best idea ever (melted the ice you see) but it did compliment the pops. Including it will have to be your call.

Oh and you have to have a Popsicle mold too, which I picked up at recently on the cheap at Target, but this time of year (Northern hemispherically speaking) they sell them pretty much everywhere. If not, you can always use small (Dixie style) cups and Popsicle sticks. Whichever you have, please do try this recipe, and enjoy!

1 ½ cups water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup raspberry fruit syrup (I used Torani)
½ cup water
Juice of three limes
1 cup tequila
Salt for garnish

In a saucepan or the microwave, heat the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. This is your base. Set that aside and let it cool while you start the pops.

Combine the ½ cup water and the raspberry syrup (or whatever fruit juice or syrup you have on hand) then pour the raspberry mix equally into each mold about ¼ inch depth. Do not insert the sticks. Freeze for 20 minutes.

While the raspberry is freezing, and add half the lime juice to the simple syrup you made earlier. Taste and add as much more lime as you prefer. Add the tequila and pour on top of the partially frozen raspberry syrup already in the molds. Add the sticks and freeze until solid, at least four hours.

Serve alone or with a small bowl of salt for dipping.

Makes six medium sized pops


Looking for something fun and foodie to do in LA? Check out Burger Tour

"In 1905 an eleven-year-old Frank Epperson was mixing powered soda and water to make soda pop. Frank accidentally left the mixing bucket outside. During the night the mixture froze solid, with the wooden stirring stick standing straight up. But the frozen pop tasted great! Frank started selling Epperson icicles for five cents, later changing the name to popsicles." Hungry Monster.com

Water molecules arrange themselves in an orderly pattern when they freeze. But when salt or sugar is dissolved into the water, these substances interfere with the regular ice crystal structure. This makes it take longer for the liquid to freeze and can make the frozen liquid less hard once it does freeze. - Chemistry.org


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