Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Molasses Sandwich Cookies with Ginger Buttercream Filling

At some silly event, I saw him.

All lithe and lovely and glossy haired, shaking his adorable booty on the dance floor. It was the hair that got me. Seriously beautiful auburn hair. When he took a moment to breath I sidled up and complimented him on it. He said it was natural, which caused me to go slack-jawed in amazement.

Then he laid it on me. "I cut hair! Here's my number, call me for an appointment!" And he was off.

I called the next morning and inquired about his first available slot. It was in an hour. Either that, or in three weeks. Well, needless to say, I sped over. (You'll notice I do this sort of thing with alarming frequency)

Two hours later I was glowing. I had become the most fab girl in all of Beverly Hills. Hair wise anyway. Bless him. It was the beginning of my most fulfilling love affair. (Seriously kids, you should never under-estimate how attached a girl can become to her hairdresser...)

He is, without a doubt, the foxiest boy in town and of course, he makes me giggle and feel fantastic. Plus, my hair has never been sassyier. Or bouncier. Bonus is that he is very discreet, so you can tell him pretty much anything and know it will be locked away, safe forever in his keep.

On the flip side, the boy at the station next to him has no such policy. And considering the proliferation of celebs at this joint I'm surprised. The gossip coming out of that man would make the editors at the National Enquirer blush. Too, too fun.

But I digress.

So a few months ago, we were chatting as he sculpted my hair into perfection, and I told him I do a lot of baking with my copious amounts of free time, but that I am constantly on the lookout for people to offload the goods on to. His big blue eyes lit up and he begged me to bring him a treat. How could I say no? He is just so pretty! (I mentioned he is probably no older than 25 and has an adorable BF of his own, right? Just checking.)

With that in mind, last week, in an attempt to get fab for the holidays, I showed up for my appointment, with these insanely over-the-top calorie dense cookies in hand. Spicy, sweet, buttery, hot. Just like him. (Am I terrible or what!)

Not exactly the quickest recipe ever, though it can be made in stages, it is very much worth it. I hope you will try them and see for yourself! The cookie itself is soft and (oh dear, every word I think of here sounds like soft core porn. Oh well. I hope my mother isnt reading.) and moist and heady, and the buttercream adds a deliciously decadant creaminess with a spike of heat.

Bring some to your hairdresser and see if you don't get an extra dose of attention...

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 extra-large egg
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup flour
3 cups flour1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 cups powdered sugar
7 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
4 tablespoons sugar syrup
2 cup butter

Melt the butter in large sauce pan over low heat then add the molasses and sugar and stir until the sugar melts. Remove from the heat.

When it is cooled a bit, stir the egg, vinegar and vanilla into molasses.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, spices and salt, then stir into molasses mixture. Cover and chill 1 1/2 hours to firm.

When totally chilled, form the dough into 1-inch balls, and arrange on a buttered baking sheet. Flatten and chill again for another 30 minutes. (I know! Crazy!)

Preheat your oven to 325F.

Bake the cookies until just set, about 14 minutes. Remove from the sheet and let cool on wire racks.

Meanwhile, blend the frosting together until golden and creamy.Spread 1 tablespoon filling on bottom of cookie, smoothing to edges, top with another cookie and press down to seal.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


I guess I like sandwich cookies!

The forerunner of modern gingerbread was apparently an ancient Greek digestive aid. They would follow a big meal with a piece of ginger wrapped in bread. Over time, the ginger was incorporated into the bread. -

On January 15, 1919, a large 50 foot high storage tank in Boston burst and sent a tidal wave of 2 million gallons of molasses traveling at over 30 miles per hour. Houses, buildings and parts of the elevated track system were crushed in its path. Twenty-one people died, and over 150 were injured. It took over 6 months to clean up the mess. The damage was in the millions of dollars. - Food


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Maccu with Fried Peppers and Minted Onions

The other day, I was reading Delicious Days (a fantabulous blog) and darling Nicky (badump-bump) was chatting about a book that piqued my interest, entitled Working The Plate.

From her description it sounded fun, different, and worth getting. Inspired, I glammed up and headed out to The Cooks Library, to pick up my very own copy.

As I sashayed in, there it was, right on the table at the front of the wee cozy store. I perched myself on the couch and started to look it over. Turns out, it’s a book with some gorgeous pictures and a few recipes only a person with tons of time on their hands would dare attack. Basically, it is a book for how to make a few really glam dishes, not how to make all your dishes glam, which was what I was looking for, and think would have been more practical. Overall, lovely though it is, it just didn't speak to me.

When I stood up to put it back, the (exceedingly charming) clerk pronounced he had never looked it over and asked me what I thought. Being an opinionated girl, I told him it sure was pretty, but not for me. After a futile search for another book I have been meaning to buy for ages, I asked for suggestions and he directed me to Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons. He noted he hadn’t looked at it yet either, but it was a huge hit in the UK and had just come in the day before.

I sat down and gently opened it up to peek inside.

After two minutes of page turning, I sighed with contentment.

After five more minutes of scrutiny, I bounced up and down with excitement (what? I may have squealed too. Problem?). Here was a book that seemed different! A book with ideas in it. A book with exotic, yet do-able recipes. A book for me.

I bought three copies. I had to share!

Recipes like Sausages and Lentils with Sweet and Sour Figs. Greek Herb Pilaf with Shrimp and Feta. Lemon and Rosemary Cake. Jeweled Persian Rice. Breast of Duck with Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce. Socca with Sardines, Roast Tomatoes and Olive and Parsley Salad. Raisin and Sherry Ice Cream. And of course, a recipe for Crazy Water and another for Pickled Lemons. Enchanting indeed.

Simple recipes focusing on all my favorite ingredients. The chapters are even broken down by ingredient group. Spices in one, herbs in the next, then nuts in another. She even has one dedicated to recipes featuring citrus. Brilliant. Each chapter has all courses from meze to desserts.

(My only gripe with the book now that I have read it cover to cover is that some of the photos don’t seem to match the recipes. Frustrating, since they are so pretty and I would love to know what they are featuring. If you have a copy, what do you think that picture on page 90 is?)

At home a few hours later, I made this recipe first, since I had everything on hand. Such a fantastic relief from hummus, lemme tell ya.

I mean, hummus is dear to me, but the variations (Now with wasabi! With horseradish! With roasted garlic, shallots, bell peppers, cracked pepper and goat cheese! Puh-leese!) it’s getting a bit tired. Dig?

So I made this vivid green happiness and there was cocktail hour jubilation. Sweet onions, spicy chile peppers, refreshing mint, smooth and vibrant pureed beans. Rapture on a plate. Try it and see for yourself.

(Note: The recipe called for fava beans, soaked then cooked with garlic. I used soy beans.)


1 pound soy beans, shelled
1 small onion, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 tsp. Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
2.5 oz, olive oil
salt and pepper
12 Turkish horn peppers (I have no clue what those are, I omitted this)

2 onions, finely sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1 green chile, deseeded and sliced into strips
1.5 tsps white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
small handful of mint, torn

Sweat the carrot, onion and celery with the garlic in the olive oil, until soft. Add a little water from time to time to keep the veg from drying out.

Puree the veg with the beans and the stock and oil until it comes together into a puree.

Set aside.

In the same pan, saute the onions in the olive oil until browned. Add the chiles and saute another minute. Add the vinegar and sugar. Stir and cook until the vinegar evaporates. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the puree at room temperature with the onions (horn peppers if using) and mint strewn on top.


An email I sent my most glam friend Tiffany, ended up on her website...check it out here. And while you are there, please click on the the girl raise some cash!

The cultivation of fava beans is so old that there is no known wild form of this bean. It has been used in Chinese cooking for at least 5,000 years.

Vermont cows are being sold to Cuba next year as that country continues to rebuild its dairy and beef cattle industries. A top Cuban trade official said his country would welcome more trade with the United States and Vermont. Since 2001, only food and agricultural products can be exported from the U.S. to the communist island. - Times

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Monday, November 27, 2006


Pink Apple Tart with Almond Crust


Look ev’body! I bought “Surprise!” apples! They are totally pink when you cut into them! Could that be cuter?

They are so excitingly colorful! The ultimate girly apples! Hee. Grin. Hee. (Or as my adorable nephew would say) Gee. (Try to say that without smiling...)

It was a perfect addition to our holiday table.

Color aside, they are really crisp and a little puckery. Not unlike a Granny Smith. And they aren’t at all mealy. Exactly what I think an apple should taste like. The skin is a bit tough though, so peeling is the order of the day if that bothers you.

But what to make with these frivolous fruits? Apple sauce seemed much to obvious, and a pie would have hidden their startling glamour, so tart it was...thats right baby, a tarty little tart.

Simple as pie (ha ha. Do I say that with every pie recipe? I bet I do...aurg) to make, and a romantic shade of blushing pink. Too adorable to resist.

1 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup white sugar
½ cup flour
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons cold butter
4 tablespoons marzipan (optional)
4 large apples
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar

In a food processor, crush the almonds with the sugar.

Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine.

Add the butter and pulse to combine again. Add a few teaspoons of (very cold) water at a time to bring together to a ball. Remove from the bowl, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Preheat your oven to 325F

Peel, half and core the apples. Slice as thin as you can, (this is a good time to use your mandolin), then toss with the additional sugar. Taste and add more sugar if they are tart.

Roll out the pie crust and squish (that's technical terminology, right?) into a 8 inch, removable bottom pan.

Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork a few times and pop it into the oven for about 10 minutes, just to get it started.

Remove from the oven and carefully spread the marzipan on the bottom, then layer with the apples, dotting with the remaining butter. Top with an additional sprinkle of sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the apples are soft.

Remove and let cool.

Makes one 8-inch pie


Suprise is an obscure apple of European origin. Historical records show them being sold by southern nurseries from 1824 to 1870. The name refers to its startling red flesh underneath the pale yellow skin. - Big Horse Creek

North Americans eat an average of 65 apples a year

There are 7,500 varieties of apples grown worldwide. The United States grows 2,500, but just 100 commercially. Apples are grown in 36 U.S. states, but six states -- Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- produce the vast majority. The top five most popular in the United States are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Gobble Gobble.



Once associated almost exclusively with Thanksgiving, cranberries today are found in no fewer than 700 food and beverage products on the market

In 1937, Margaret Rudkin, a Connecticut housewife and mother of three young children, discovers one of her sons had an allergy to commercial breads that contain preservatives and artificial ingredients. So she began experimenting with baking her own preservative-free bread — ultimately perfecting a delicious whole-wheat loaf that contained only natural ingredients. Encouraged by her family and her son's doctor, she began a small business out of her kitchen selling her "Pepperidge Farm" bread to local grocers, named for her family's farm in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Broiled Cauliflower & Asparagus with Truffled Cheese

Snobbery is, by definition, (or so I hear) the cultivation of tastes and interests for the sole purpose of conveying superiority to those the snob considers inferior.

If you ask me, that's a pretty lame way to decide what you like or not.

Personally, I cultivated my taste for Pringles potato chips, Red Vines and cheap jars of generic marinara sauce without so much as a thought as to the hoi polloi’s judgement of my actions. I just eats it cuz I loves it.

Same goes for my love of fine wines and truffles. They just happen to be things I like. If you don’t like them, fine by me! So see, I’m not a snob. Now can’t we all just get along?

Which brings me to truffled cheese, and more particularly, truffles; a culinary delight usually associated with the snobbiest of the snobs, and yet, it is seasonally available in most areas in one form or another, and therefore something everyone can indulge in. And it is an indulgence.

Truffle studded cheese is calorie laden divinity. Heady, earthy, (fill in the blank with descriptions of truffles please) creamy, smooth, scintillating dairy foods perfection. Makes your head swim.

Last year, if you recall, I made a cauliflower soup with truffled cheese as a garnish.

This season, when I brought home a wedge of that fantabulous cheese, my patience was thin. I had to have it. So I skipped making the soup and went right for the basic broiler method. (After, you know, eating a few slices, and then a few more.)

And lo, it was good.

Bubbling hot cheese infused with the aroma of truffles. I admit, the cauliflower and asparagus were more of a device for carrying the cheese to my mouth, but what a wonderful device they were. Sublime. (And cheese and cauliflower, what could be more classic...)

The cheese I used was Sini Fului Sottocenere with Truffles. A soft cows milk cheese who’s rind is gloriously dusted with a mixture of coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, fennel, anise, cloves and additional truffle. It is so wonderful, the heavens must sing its praises.

This recipe is simple, the taste will stay with you. Try it, and enjoy.

1 large head cauliflower
1 bunch of asparagus
Olive oil
Truffled cheese
Fresh thyme for garnish

Slice the cauliflower into ½ inch slabs then steam along with the asparagus. I used a bamboo steamer, the microwave works too.

Let cool slightly. Transfer to a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled. Top with cheese and broil until brown and bubbling. Garnish with thyme and serve.

1 head of cauliflower, sliced, should serve around 4 - 6 people


Pringles Potato Chips were introduced in 1969 by Procter & Gamble.

Top-quality white truffles from Italy are coming into the market. Prices, for now, are comparable to last year's, but if the crop is as good as expected, they may decrease somewhat. Butterfield Market, 1114 Lexington Avenue (78th Street), is selling truffles for $140 an ounce. - NY Times

Excellent search question that brings up this site: "How much to get married at Dodger stadium?"

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Friday, November 17, 2006


Quince Chutney (Sambal)

I couldn't resist picking up a few quince at the market the other day.

They have such a dreamy fragrance. Makes a girl just want to bite in.


Funny thing though. They have to be cooked to eat. Or so I have always heard. And in my limited experience they have always turned a shocking shade of pink when cooked.

Well, not this batch. They just stayed white. Confusing to little ol’ me.

I had a few ideas for what to do with them. Preserves being the first thing that came to mind. But then I realized that I really don’t eat that much jam/jelly/preserves. The apricot jam I made last month is still in the fridge and adding another jar didn't seem like such a hot idea.

So what did this girl do? Log on to the Food and Wine website of course! Recipes and ideas galore.

Except if you are seeking recipes for quince. Pout.

The only thing that really caught my eye was this recipe for Sambal by hottie Swedish-Ethiopian-American chef Marcus Samuelsson. (Purrr.)

The first sign of trouble was that according to the reviewers, it isn't really sambal - a Malaysian condiment made of fried chiles, sugar and salt. And the second was that, according to me, it was, um, hard to pair with anything.

But I made it anyway, and used it as a salad dressing. Just tossed it over some greens and voila, dinner. Weird but true. It seemed healthy and whatall. Right? Tasty too.

Sweet and spicy, fresh and nutty, it was a good way to spruce up something bland. On futher inspection, I think it would have gone perfectly with some simply grilled pork, a chicken breast or a fat slab of grilled tofu.

Any which way, I hope you will try it, and enjoy! I adjusted it for my taste and what I had on hand, but for the most part, it is really their recipe. Deliciousness indeed. Gesondheid!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 red Thai chiles, very finely chopped
One 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 small quinces—peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Lots of coarsely chopped mint

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the garlic, chiles, ginger and onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the peanuts and cook until sizzling, about 3 minutes. Add the quince, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Cover and simmer, stirring a few times, until the quince is barely tender, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. Stir in the mint and serve.

Makes about 1.5 cups


Tagged with: +

Quince is the only food in the English language that starts with the letter "Q." (Quiche and Quinine are not English words.)

Raw quince has a rough and woolly rind, and the flesh is hard and unpalatable, with an astringent, acidulous taste. When cooked it tastes like a cross between apples and pears.

The term, honeymoon, is derived from the Babylonians who declared mead, a honey-flavored wine, the official wedding drink, stipulating that the bride's parents be required to keep the groom supplied with the drink for the month following the wedding; that month became known as the honeymonth, hence our honeymoon

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Thursday, November 16, 2006


Good Earth Zucchini Bread

Growing up in LA, going to the Good Earth restaurant, a vegetarian mecca, meant one thing...really amazing tea.

I know, that seems silly, but for some reason their private blend tea was just plain better than anywhere else. Almost like chai today, it was heavily spiced and sweet and the smell could send you into a daydream for sure. It transports. No sugar needed.

While the smattering of Westside outposts closed awhile ago, there are still some open, noteably one in just over the hill in North Hollywood (and a few in Minnesota)...only trouble is, I try not to ever go to the Valley.

So as luck would have it, they sell their tea in the market, and when I brew a cup, I inhale deeply filling my mind with the steaming, swirling perfume of a singularly happy childhood.

Since I’m not a regular tea drinker (as my still pearly whites can attest) I have found that using the tea in baking is a spectacular way to bring that otherworldly aroma home.

Not being the strongest baker, I usually stick to my tried and true favorites, but for some reason, yesterday, I could not for the life of me find my recipe for zucchini bread. So I went on line.


See what happened? It was beyond inedible. Man oh man was that dreadful. Kind of like a (raw on the inside, burnt on the outside) squash flan, I was super bummed out, I mean, what a waste of perfectly good ingredients. (Should I include a link to the recipe that created that? Nah...why be cruel.)

Refusing to accept defeat, I made it again. Adjusting with my limited knowledge, I am proud to say, I managed a sinfully delicious toatally original, quick-bread.

It comes together in about 10 minutes (minus baking) and the smell from the oven as it bakes will have you floating on air.

Try, and enjoy!

1 ½ cups flour
1 teabag worth of Good Earth tea (or cinnamon)
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup canola oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon molassas
3/4 pound zucchini, shredded
1/4 cup golden raisins

Preheat your oven to 325F

Spray a 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray (over the sink, you don’t want your floor getting slippery!)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, tea, salt and baking soda

In another bowl, combine the oil, sugars, eggs and molasses. Stir to combine. Add the zucchini and raisins and stir.

Add the zucchini to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 1:15, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool a few minutes in the pan and then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

Will keep, wrapped in plastic, for about five days.

Makes one loaf


The Good Earth® Restaurants & Bakeries originated in 1975 with a commitment to healthy, fresh, & delicious foods which are prepared "better for you".

Looking for something to do? November 18, 2006, from 6:30pm – 11:30pm at the Hollywood Palladium 6215 Sunset Blvd. at Argyle. The French American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles invites you to take part in the time-honored tradition of welcoming the 2006 Beaujolais Nouveau to Southern California. Be part of the West Coast’s largest Beaujolais Wine Festival as corks go popping around the world in celebration of a remarkable harvest and one of the best vintages to come out in years. A worldwide selection of gourmet food and premium wines will be available to accompany the tasting of the new Beaujolais. Tickets are all-inclusive and can be reserved in advance by calling FACCLA at (323) 651-4741.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Wontons with Spicy Mustard Dipping Sauce

The majority of my beloved girl friends are barely-there waifs.

Have you got this problem too?

Waifs as in, “For the love of Pete, eat something!”

But do they listen to me? No. They just keep going to the gym and limiting their calorie intake to a reasonable number for active people and only indulging in high fat foods once in a awhile. Oh. wonder they are so thin. Doh!

Okay, so maybe they are just super clever and know the secret to staying fit. But when it comes to cocktail hour, (In this case, featuring some sublime lychee cocktails) calories don’t count.

What? Hadn’t you heard? It’s totally true! And isn't that just the best news ever?

So when theses skinny Misses gathered at my inviting little abode the other night for a non-stop chat-fest, I offered them a small bowl of these incredibly tasty, deep-fried delights. Not enough to over indulge, just enough to entice. With this sort of trear, that is the best way to go.

A basic play on the classic Chinese-American table snack. (Remember going out to Chinese food when it meant sickly-sweet neon-orange sauce and chop suey? Good times. Good times.) It may seem like something you could just buy, but freshly made, with aromatic spices, these take on a whole new meaning. Truly special.

Easy to make, easier to eat. The sauce is spicy sweet, the wonton strips are golden crunchy fantasticness. The whole thing is beyond tasty.

Try this and enjoy!

20 wonton wrappers, cut into strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons water
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons sesame seeds
Coarse salt
Oil for frying
1/4 cup colemans mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons sweet chile sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds

Arrange the wontons in a single layer on your countertop.

Combine the cornstarch and cayenne. Add water to create a slurry.

Brush each of the strips with enough of the slurry on one side, to just moisten. (Do not make them soggy) Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

To the side of your stove top, have a sheet pan with a few sheets of paper towel on it for draining.

In a cast iron pan, heat 1/4 inch depth of oil over medium low heat. Add the wontons a few at a time and crisp until just golden (should take about 35 seconds) flip, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the towels. Repeat with the remaining strips.

Sprinkle the hot strips with salt. Will keep, covered, for a day or so.

In a small bowl, combine the mustard, sugar, chile sauce, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Taste and adjust as needed.

Serve the wontons with the dipping sauce.


Tagged with: +

American Chop Suey is a pasta dish consisting of short noodles (macaroni, ziti, etc) mixed with tomato sauce, ground beef, and often sauteed onion and peppers. It is often prepared and served casserole-style.

The official State Drink of Rhode Island is Coffee Milk and was adopted on July 29, 1993. Similar to chocolate milk, it is a beverage made with milk and coffee syrup

The first American pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 1848, by a Frenchman named Antoine Zerega

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Monday, November 13, 2006


Chestnut & Endive Salad with Goat Cheese

The super-fab Ms. Va-Voom stopped into town for about 48 hours and I was beyond giddy to see her. I do adore the girl. She has sass and glamour to spare. She is the female equivalent of Charlie, but without the habit of getting me in to all kinds of trouble. Oh wait...

Part of our plan was for her to pop in to ma maison and indulge in a bit of luncheon. I thought of a thousand things (as I am prone to do) she might be delighted by, but didn’t want to A. Get bogged down cooking, and B. Make so much that we wouldn't want to eat dinner. Plus, the weather had gone nutty. Global warming, Indian Summer, whatever you want to attribute it to, it was hot. As you can expect if you know me at all, I was as happy as a girl can be. Chill-Be-Gone I say! Bring on the heat!

Of course, the trouble with the weather being so out of wack at this time of year, is that it creates a certain amount of confusion at the market...there are autumn-oriented foods but the temperatures are in the high 80's. The only answer was to make a dish like this.

A salad of fall foods. Rich, creamy chestnuts; crisp, perfumed Asian pears; tangy goat cheese, and a vibrant apple cider vinegar. The endive is briefly cooked, to tame its bitterness and the sweet tender greens add just the right amount of softness to the whole dish.

You can see, I got a bit out-of-control with the plating, (or, more precisely, bowling) but it would taste just find tossed together. Either or, it is worth making for sure. We loved it. Try it, and enjoy.

2 heads of Belgian Endive. quartered, lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
10 chestnuts, roasted*, peeled and halved
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 large Asian pear, quartered, cored and sliced
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Salad greens
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoon honey-mustard
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and oil. Add the cider and honey. Taste and adjust as needed. Season with salt and pepper. (Don't worry if it doesn't emulsify, it's okay)

In a large pan, sear the endive in hot oil. Remove when just browned.

Combine the rest of the salad ingredients and serve with dressing on the side.

Makes two large salads

To roast chestnuts: Carefully score each nut with a sharp knife. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 350F for 20 minutes. Remove, let cool and peel.


Chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes

Belgian Endive is a young broad-leaved endive plant deprived of light to form a narrow whitish head

Northen Praire Chevre is amazing, you should totally order some today

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Friday, November 10, 2006


When Bad Things Happen To Nice Girls - Caption Contest

I'm just too traumatized.

I can't even talk about it.

How did this happen to me?

I'm at such a loss, I'm hoping you can help with a caption for this photo. Best caption wins a fab prize.

Thanks and good luck.

I'm going to go crawl under the sheets, and hope the maid doesn't quit in abject horror when she spots this in the trash/recycling.

Disclaimer: I had NOTHING to do with this combo of foodstuffs appearing in my world. I just stared. And took pictures. None of this passed my lips. I promise.


Frito Lay has recipes on their website. Sigh

Europeans heard the Spanish word for jerked meat, charque, and Anglicized it to a word that was easier for them to pronounce - jerky. When the first Europeans arrived in the New World, they found the indigenous peoples making and eating dried meat that was added to either dried fruit or animal fat and called “pemmican” by some of the American Indian tribes - Beef

For my international readers. Hi. That photo is of what we in the US would call White Trash Food.

As of February 2006, White Zinfandel accounted for 10% of all wine sold by volume, making it the third most popular varietal in the U.S. - Wikipedia

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Wine-Spiced Pickled Cherries

Cheese trays at cocktail parties being all the rage, it's hard to present something on them that isn't expected.

Grapes, almonds, even a bit of quince paste (which holds a place in my heart for sure) are all a bit done, you know what I mean? So why not add a little more inveiglement? (That means appeal. It's my word of the day. Hee.)

Adding these sass-a-rific cherries are an awesome solution to the every day. They are a total mind-bend. Popping one into your mouth causes a double take. While expecting sweet, they are in fact really puckery, and boozy and tangy and outrageous.

Palate cleansing, addictive and a perfect foil for rich cheeses and any manner of charcuterie - especially bresola - these are a shocking little delight.

The Workaholic and I brought some to a party a few weekends ago when we were in a mad dash and didn't have time to hit up a market, and it was there we also discovered they go freakishly well with beef jerky...who knew.

Now, I am perfectly aware that cherries aren't in season in the northern hemisphere, but for my readers south of that, the second you see them in the market, buy some and make these. The rest of you can make them too though, never fear...

The batch pictured here were pickled in the summer, but I’ve made them with frozen fruit and that works like a charm. See, seasons can't stop this train!

So take a few minutes (that's all it takes my dearies) and make yourself a batch. Mmm. Enjoy!

1 pound cherries, stem on
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
tiny pinch of cloves
tiny pinch of cinnamon

Rinse the cherries and pat dry. Carefully place in a very clean, glass container.

In a large pan, combine all the ingredients except the cherries. Simmer a few minutes to combine.

Pour the hot liquid into the jar with the cherries, enough to cover. Cover and refrigerate for at least three days.

Strain and serve.


Studies show that charcoal-barbecue smoke, and the smell of cherries are the biggest turn-offs to women

In ancient Egypt, bread was a standard form of currency

Each winter in Korea, the average family of five eats enough kimchi to use up 30 large cabbages

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Monday, November 06, 2006


Green Beans with Ginger-Tomato Chutney

If I could get down on my knees and admonish you to make one single recipe from this site, this would be it.


Not because it is the most beautiful, or because it is the easiest (though it is both beautiful and super quick) but because it is the best thing ever.

I just downed that entire bowls worth and I may have to go buy some more green beans to make another batch.

The main ingredients - those elegant Blue Lake green beans and the glorious black and yellow heirloom tomatoes - that went in to it were for sale at the farmers market this past Sunday. The tomatoes were certainly glam and decidedly tasty, but any tomato would be good in this recipe, I’m sure.

Every bite has a different taste. Sweet, hot, spicy, earthy, salty, garlicky, it is a mouth full of wonderment. I am truly in awe. (Wow Rachael, pat your own back much?)

With no hyperbole (which is tricky for me, so try to appreciate the magnitude of this next comment) this is a dish worth making.

Try it, and enjoy.

1 pound blue lake green beans, trimmed to 1 inch segments
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 inch piece of ginger, rough mince
3 cloves garlic, rough mince (I used the pre chopped kind)
3 medium tomatoes, diced
Jalepeno, minced to taste (I used a scant ½ teaspoon)
1 tablespoon ground dried cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
Lots of fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In a large pot of heavily salted water, boil the green beans until just crisp tender. Drain and shock in cold water to stop cooking.

In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and let simmer for a moment. Toss in the tomatoes, chile and cumin.

Let this simmer for a minute. You are going for warmed through more than cooked.

Add the sugar, lime juice and pepper. Simmer until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and pour over the beans. Salt to taste and serve.

Makes four servings


Tagged with: +

Chutney: A spicy side-dish used to add piquancy. The word is now almost a synonym for Pickle. In North America and Britain chutneys are usually sweet, spicy, and made from vegetables. In their country of origin, India, they are more often sharp and sour, and can be made from an enormous range of ingredients, notably lime and mango

Blue Lake beans are tender, round, stringless 6" straight pods with white seeds. They are known for being sweet and juicy. - Kitazawa Seed

French fries are served with 22% of all restaurant meals in the United States


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Roasted Pears with Caramel & Giandua

Everybody gets all hyped about apples this time of year, don’t they?

What the heck?

What about pears?

Me, I love a good apple, but at heart, I’m a pear girl (though, happily, not pear shaped).

I devour them by the basketful. Sweet and juicy pears. Mmm.

With so many to choose from, I find it impossible to stop buying them every time I set foot in the market. Which means, for as many as I just pare and eat, just as many end up in my salad or in desserts.

Desserts like this for instance.

The simplest thing ever. And delectible.

At first I though pears and chocolate sounded kinda, eh, but in the end I was swooning. Must be the roasting.

And with my dear friend (and gaurdian angel) The Workaholic panting for something sweet (any single ladies out there? Have I ever got the boy for you...) I had this on the table in less than 15 minutes. Miraculous.

Try it and enjoy!

4 ripe (but not mushy) pears, peeled, halved and cored
1t ablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup giandua

Preheat your oven to 400F

In a large heavy pan (cast iron is best) melt the butter over a medium high flame. Add the pears, cut side down along with the salt, and saute until just golden. Put the pan in the oven for about 8 minutes. Add the hazelnuts and roast another 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and put back on the stovetop. Add the additional butter and sugar, stir gently and heat until melted. Add the lemon juice. Remove from the pan while HOT and serve with giandua.

Serves four


Giandua - A spread made of chocolate and hazelnuts. Nutella is the most commonly available brand

Worldwide, Nutella outsells all peanut butter brands combined

Since the 1920s, hazelnut breeders in the eastern and central United States have crossed native and European hazels, attempting to combine the superior qualities of the European hazel with the disease resistance and cold hardiness of the American species.

Tina, of OMG Food! Wins my prize for coolest chick around, with this post.


Friday, November 03, 2006


Duck Legs With Figs


I’d better post this recipe quick, before the last of the figs are gone from the market.

What? It’s snowing where you live? Eek! Bummer! But if that’s true, book mark this for next year, when the figs are bursting-ripe, it’s absolutely worth it.

It was 5:30 am last Sunday morning. Must have been daylight savings that had me up early and enjoying the sunshine that was brazenly peeking through my kitchen curtains.

Puttering around in an early morning haze (which, if I must be honest, tends not to wear off later in the day so much as thin out a bit) I kept gazing around. I was wondering what to do for the next five hours, when I was supposed to meet The Queen of the Valley for brunch.

Next thing I knew, I was cooking duck legs.

Sure, sure, it’s not the most conventional breakfast, but I was there, they were there, and a party ensued.

But it was in fact, practically dawn, and I wasn’t really hungry. Which normally would have meant I would have just put aside the dish until lunch...but fate intervened.

My phone ringing (actually, singing “What’s New Pussycat” if you must know) broke into the Arcadian moment. My darling savior of a friend, (for reasons too long to list) The Workaholic, was on the line. He had locked himself out of his (insanely clean, large, brightly lit and highly coveted) apartment on the way to grab the paper, and as luck would have it, I had a spare key and live a few blocks away. (Hey, I like to keep my boys close by!) In a flash he was over, (dressed in his PJ’s....awww) and got the unexpected gift of not only his keys, but a boxed lunch bonus. Duck legs done, photos taken, I certainly had plenty to spare.

Later, just as I sat down to eat, I got an email from The Workaholic (still at work) saying it was superb and the perfect luncheon for a boy on the go. I was pleased as punch to have been able to share.

This recipe is quite simple and full of fruity, rich, dense flavors. I served the duck with cannellini beans that had been cooked with a bit of rosemary, the hint of alpine spice, a great combination for the richness of the duck.

Try this, and enjoy

4 duck legs
½ small shallot, minced
16 figs, halved
Juice of one small tangerine
2 oz vermouth
1/2 cup fig or apricot conserves
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy pan, saute the duck legs, skin side down until browned. Because duck is so fatty, you will have to periodically drain the fat out of the pan. Pour it into a clean glass jar and reserve for other uses (sauteing potatoes for instance. Mmm.) When the duck is golden, (depends, but should take about 10 minutes) on one side, turn and let finish cooking. (Another 4 minutes should do.) Remove from the pan, drain most of the rest of the fat, then add the shallot to the pan and let wilt a few moments before adding the figs, tangerine juice, vermouth and conserves. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. When the sauce has thickened slightly, pour over the duck legs and serve.

Serves four


In the United States, on November 3, 1966, a law passed stating ingredients were required to be listed on food packages. It was the first truth in packaging law.

In 1991, Food & Wine magazine named Emeril Lagasse "One of America's Top Twenty-Five New Chefs."

" If current trends of overfishing and pollution continue, the populations of just about all seafood face collapse by 2048, a team of ecologists and economists warns in a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science." - AP

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Thursday, November 02, 2006


MADE IN L.A. - Bennetts' Sodas

Welcome one and all to another addition of MADE IN L.A. The Fresh Approach quest to find nationally available foods made right here in the heart of happiness. The kingdom of glitter. The epicenter of bling. Good ol' Los Angeles. My home sweet home.

This week I am pleased as punch to review the startlingly satiating Bennetts’ sodas.

I picked up these lovelies at the adorable soda store in the Farmers Market (the original market. 3rd and Fairfax. You know it, you love it. Ya?) A place I hardly ever mention on this blog, (the shame! the shame!) but frequent regularly.

Made in Los Angeles since 1963, Bennett’s was invented by B. Scott Bennett, The Ice Cream Man, right there at the market and has been sold from his stand, The Refresher, to adoring fans ever since. With additional flavors including the habenero laced Hot Cola and a divine Root Beer (both of which I have had in the past, and liked) these kids are doing something right.

The cola, made with real lemon juice and no caffeine is a real show stopper. Sweet and spicy, with an acid punch it is what I suspect cola started out tasting like. Crisp and refreshing indeed.

The water is plain water sure, but bubbly and fun and somehow old fashioned tasting, which I realize isn’t a taste, but somehow is. Must be the glass bottle. Good on its own, better mixed with gin...but that’s just is just good stuff.

So when you are looking for something local and fab, please do pick up some Bennett’s soda and enjoy!


Iceland consumes more Coca-Cola per capita than any other nation
The 3rd and Fairfax farmers market began in July of 1934
Soda water is made when carbon dioxide is injected into plain water


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Fish Soup with Saffron

Saffron. Not just a character on television any more.

Nope that itty-bitty hard-to-harvest crocus stigma has found its way into my little heart.

Sure, sure, it’s the “world’s most expensive spice,” and that has a certain cache, but honestly kids, that's no reason to go adding something to your pantry! You use something because it's tasty, right? Right. (Sure. Right.)

In this case though, the sunburst orange filaments are really quite affordable in small doses. And heaven knows nobody (outside of a professional kitchen) needs a full ounce of the stuff. Do they? That would be madness. It's too strong a flavor to go (reasonably) overboard on. But as a hint. As a back rounder. As that “certain something” it really can elevate a dish to a whole other level. (In this case, the cliche level, I believe.)

For instance, in this fish stew (soup? I never can tell) it is a perfect foil. The sharpness cuts through the fish adding a unique and heady flavor. Catches you unawares for sure. The soup itself is hearty and filling and yet outrageosly good for you. What fun, right? So indulge my peaches! Grab some saffron, try this, and enjoy!

3 teaspoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large onions, chopped
2 large red bell peppers, large dice
1 green bell pepper, large dice
2 14 1/2-ounce cans chopped tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-salt chicken broth or 2 cups fish stock, 1 cup water
2 pounds mixed fish and shellfish (I used squid, large and small scallops, cod, shrimp, shark and halibut)cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
salt and white pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes and lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Crush the saffron threads and add to a small bowl with a few teaspoons of the wine.

Heat the olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté until just golden, about 4 minutes.

Add the bell peppers and stir. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomato and zest and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the white wine and stock and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add the fish and reduce the heat to low. Add the parsley and saffron and let simmer another three to five minutes. You do not want the fish to over cook. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serves four to six


Saffron is the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus and is the world’s most expensive spice. It requires intensive labor and more than 4,600 Crocus flowers (Purple Saffron Flowers) to make a single ounce. Saffron crops quickly deplete the soil and so other crops must be planted and harvested for about seven to ten years in order to replenish the land.

The only commercial scallop fishery in Alaska is off the outer coast from Cape Spencer to Yakutat. There are only nine permit-holders that fish for scallops. They use large nets to dredge the sea floor with. Crews can be as large as 11 members who run up to two dredges while shucking, washing, and bagging scallops around the clock. Alaska scallops are among of the largest in the world.- Fishermans

Stew: Any dish that is prepared by stewing.

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