Thursday, March 29, 2007


Chocolate Brownies


My sweet tooth is working over-time.

I made these and had to off-load them onto The Ombudsman (my favorite non-boyfriend) who devoured them in a flash.

Sometimes, a kid just wants a brownie, ya know?

These are the cakey on the outside, dense on the inside type. Just the way me likes um. It makes a huge batch, so watch out!

Try them, and enjoy! (3/30. Note: I originally made this in a full sheet pan, which most people don't have, so I revised to recipe to half. It still makes a lot, but doesn't call for 10 eggs any more.)

1/2 pound butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup flour
¾ cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9x11 inch pan (or a half-sheet pan) and place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom, then go on and butter that too and dust with some flour. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large stock pot and add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar and butter are dissolved and creamy. (No oil should be separate from the sugar) remove from the heat.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Very slowly while whisking, add in the egg mixture into the sugar mixture a little at a time, careful not to cook the eggs, until all of the eggs have been incorporated. Then sift the flour and cocoa together and add it to the sugar, egg mixture and mix well, making sure you don’t have any lumps.

Add the chocolate chips and mix just to incorporate.

Pour into the prepared baking sheet and place into the oven. (If using the 9x11 pan, there will be extra batter. Dont make it more than 1 ½ inches deep)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Once they have cooled, place the same size baking sheet on top of the brownies and invert the sheet to unmold the brownies. Then remove the parchment paper and place back into the baking sheet or on a cutting board and cut into 2 inch squares.


My birthday was awesome. The Ombudsman took me to dinner at Hatfields.
From Zagat: "Truly extraordinary food, pleasant and attentive service." "A jewel box of a restaurant with some of the best food in LA. " "Worth a try, and worth returning." We loved it. Not a hipster in sight, except The Ombudsman and yours truly. 7458 Beverly Blvd.(Gardner St.) Los Angeles, CA 90036. 323-935-2977 No website.

Federal regulators are considering revamping the rules governing wine labels, and if changes are made, the information revealed may surprise many wine buyers. Additives that supplement what nature failed to provide in an individual wine — tricks of the trade that winemakers rarely talk about — could soon be listed in detail on the labels. The wine industry, through the Wine Institute, the industry's chief lobbying arm, is opposing the regulatory changes. - LA Times


Monday, March 26, 2007


Drink of the Week: Berry-Vodka Cooler

My darling and tolerant best friend The Ombudsman, has a loving way of teasing the heck out of me.

For instance, when I told him (It's been pointed out that I don’t ask so much as tell him things. I’m not a bossy girl mind you, I’m just sure of myself. Heh heh. Oh please, he loves it.) we were going to see a David Mamet play this weekend, at three in the afternoon on the (somewhat staid) Westside. He asked me if my upcoming birthday (this Tuesday. Take note. Send gifts.) is actually my 65th birthday. He asked if he should bring his walker. He made me giggle.

When we arrived at the theater, he noted that the last time he had been there he was watching a local policeman and his cockatoo do a stand up act. He was nine at the time. We pushed past the elderly people congregating at the door and found our seats.

We sat through 75 minutes of Mamet-speak.

Needless to say, after the play, I owed him a drink. A fruity drink to cleanse us.

So I made these berry-licious delights.

We drank two before heading back out for an evening at the symphony (cultural couple, aren’t we? Too funny, considering on Friday night we went to a karaoke bar and played Ms. Pac-Man while doing Kamakazi shots. Just mentioning that so you don’t think we are too pretentious. Oh wait, we are.)

Whatever your reason, this is a bev worth trying. So do. And enjoy.

One cup frozen mixed berries.
1 cup Absolut Raspberri
1 T. sugar
Pomegranate Juice
Lemon-Lime Soda

Mix the berries with the vodka and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Fill a double-old-fashioned glass with ice. Add lemon-lime soda, add a splash of pomegranate juice. Spoon in the berries, stir and serve. Top with more vodka if you like.

Makes two drinks.

Warning: Consumption of this drink will not make David Mamet funny. It will on the other hand, taste good.


Raspberries probably originated in Eastern Asia.

A vote by Albertsons Grocery Store Chain workers brought the prospect of a grocery store strike a step closer Sunday and conjured up an unhappy sense of deja vu for employees and customers alike, as they wondered what was ahead.In voting at seven different United Food and Commercial Workers Union locals throughout Southern California, UFCW members at Supervalu Inc.'s Albertsons union gave union leaders the authority to call a strike. - LA Times


Saturday, March 24, 2007


Santa Monica Pier at Sunset



Just wanted to share this picture I took of the Santa Monica Pier at Sunset, on Friday night.
I love this town.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Grilled Corn Salad with Lime

Grilled corn in March? Am I mad?

Well, yes, we sorta knew that, but when we had such amazing weather last week (which has of course, turned to gloom.) and corn was showing up in the market (from whence it came, I forgot to note. So sorry!) I was compelled to gather it up and head out to the much neglected grill to make one of my all-time fave salads (and yes kids, I said fave. Yeowza!)

You know how it is. Your friends want to lounge in your grassy yard on a balmy day, and you want to enjoy their company, but hunger pangs kick in. Well this is the solution. Easy-peasy and delicious with grilled tacos (more on that some other time. The photos were ghastly. Must re-do soon though.) burgers, or whatever. It's the dish that elevates a regular bbq to gourmet, ya know? And everyone loves a gourmet addtion to the everyday, am I right?

Now I know some of you will be thinking this calls for cilantro, but you know how I feel about that so I am leaving it out, but should that be your calling, have at it, ya?

And as my newest mostest favoritest person exclaimed as she took a bite of this..."It's smokey-corn-tastic!"

And with a sheepish grin, I just had to agree.

I hope you do to my peaches after you try it!

4 medium artichokes, tips trimmed
4 ears of corn, husked
2 small limes, juiced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ red onion onion
1 red chile
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Additional olive oil for coating
Parsley for garnish

Fill a a big pot with a few inches of water. Add the artichokes and cover pot with a lid. Steam for about 15-20 minutes, until leaves are easily pulled from artichokes. Remove and slice in half. Sccop out the choke with a small spoon. Toss with olive oil.

Preheat your grill or grilling pan until good and hot.

Toss the corn, onion and red chile with a bit of olive oil, then grill with the artichokes until they are just starting to char.

Remove and shave kernels off corn cob and place into a large bowl. Mince onion and chile and add that to the bowl too. Combine the rest of the ingredients (except the artichokes) and toss well.

Serve with the artichokes.


Q: What is a vampire's favourite fruit? A: A neck-tarine!

Atlanta-based Hooters of America Inc. said in a statement Monday that it has reached a franchise deal with Ilana and Ofer Ahiraz to open the first Hooters restaurant this year in Israel, with several more locations in Israel to follow. The chain has about $900 million in yearly sales and is expected to cross the $1 billion mark for the first time this year. - AP

In the United Kingdom March is National Veggie Month

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


French Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Peel

Now me, I'm fully willing to admit that some things just sound better (and so much more luxe) when spoken of in French. Oui? Oui.

Case in point: which sounds more appetizing, as a sweet something to you to cap off your dinner...Cold Chocolate Pudding or Chocolat-Orange Pots de Crème? (And on your local restaurant menu, which one do you suppose costs $4 and which costs, oh, say $14.)

See? French titles make even the most common of comfort foods seem...faboo.

And while good ol' fashioned chocolate pudding cups are among the most wonderful incarnations of all dessert-delights, there is nothing wrong with occasionally fancifiying them too, right?

So my dears, if you too are compelled to elevate this treat from everyday to...French, change the name, and make sure to use the most divine, luscious, rich and dark chocolate you can get your dainty little hands on. I mean, you are about to consume a chocolate dessert, right? So bring on the chocolate my peaches!

Now try this, and revel in it's super-yummy-fantastic-glory.

1 orange
1 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp finely grated orange peel
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier (or other orange flavored alcohol)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar

Using your vegetable peeler, remove the zest from your orange in long strips. Cut those strips lengthwise into 1/8-inch-wide strips.

Stir 1 cup sugar and a cup of cold water in small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Add in the orange peel and let that simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Put the rest of the sugar cup in a small bowl. Remove your peels from the syrup and toss to coat in the sugar. Cool, tossing occasionally. This can be made a day or so ahead. I did it three hours ahead and it was fine.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Bring milk, cream and Grand Marnier, to boil a in a medium sized saucepan. Remove from that from the heat. Add chocolate and stir it until it’s all melted and smooth.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl until pale yellow. You can use a hand mixer for this too. Then go on and whisk that egg into the chocolate. Strain into a container you can pour from (I used a large measuring cup)

Pour the chocolate into eight 4-ounce ramekins.

Put them into a baking dish, then add enough water to baking dish to come halfway up sides of the ramekins. Cover that tightly with tin foil and bake until the custard is set. That should take about 45 minutes.

When they are set, remove the cups from the water/pan. Put them into your refrigerator uncovered, until cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. Garnish with candied orange peel, and serve. They can also be served warm. Tasty!


Authorities have unsealed a 19-count indictment that alleges wine industry entrepreneur Mark S. Anderson of setting a $200-million fire at a Northern California wine storage warehouse to cover up a scheme to steal and then sell his clients' wine, authorities announced Monday. The 2005 blaze at Wines Central, which destroyed millions of bottles of premium wine, obliterating entire wine libraries as well as some highly rated blends that had not yet been tasted by the public. Numerous boutique wineries were forced out of business when their inventory was decimated. - LA

This was kinda-sorta adapted from an recipe in Gourmet Magazine I write all my own savory recipes, but baking, well, that's a whole other story!

Kraft Handi-Snacks Pudding Cups have less than 100 calories per serving.


Monday, March 19, 2007


Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Sauce

Hi ev'body! Did you have as rockin' a weekend as me?

(Minus the outrageously killer Sunday morning hang-over, I should say...and for that I am compelled to give a shout out to The Ombudsman, provider of beverages and my date for an awe inspiring evening of food and revelry with Ghetto Gourmet...check it out if they come to your town. Oh, and while I'm promoting things to do, if you love LA, and her history, all served up with strong drinks and an uber-cool vibe, get thee to The Edison.)

And now, on to the post at hand...

Ignore the salmon in that photo. This here post is NOT about that pink fish.
(Which was tasty, by the way. I cooked it over high heat in some olive oil, then salted it. That's all. Simple. Gourmet.)

Nope, this post is about my new addiction. Cucumber, uh, sauce. Cucumber-dill sauce? Wait, is it raita? (I guess not, since raita is made with yogurt...) How about Cucumber-Dill-Sour-Cream sauce. Sure, that works. (Now that the hang-over is fully worn-off: Actually, I think its tdziki. Thanks for reminding me Kalyn!)

I gotta tell you, as a girl who loves her dill, this is like, all kindsa gonzo-goodness. A mouthful of yum. Big grin tasty.

And it just gets better the longer it sits. So make it a few hours in advance, and then enjoy (doesn't work as a dip with carrots though, it's not minced enough. If you want to go that direction, totally mince the cucumbers.) it any which way you can think of. Salmon is a natural match, but I loved it on cooled, roasted potatoes too. What can I say. I'm an addict.

Try this, and enjoy.

1 medium hot-house cucumber (I didnt peel it)
1 lemon
1 large bunch, dill
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon white vinegar
white pepper and salt to taste
sugar if needed

Shred the cucumber using the largest holes on your box grater. Using the smaller holes, zest the lemon. Stir the cucumber and the resulting liquid together with the zest and the rest of the ingredients. Adjust all as needed. (I added a touch of sugar at the end, which was nice.)

Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, or in the fridge for up to six hours. Serve with grilled salmon, cooled roasted potatoes, as a sandwich spread or with roast beef.


Sour cream is made by adding a special bacterial culture to light cream. The bacteria produce lactic acid, which sours the cream. Sometimes manufacturers use food-grade acid instead of bacteria to make sour cream. The product must be labeled "acidified sour cream" if this process is used. -

Tonight in Birmingham, Oakland County, Michigan, the City Council is meeting to decide the fate of "the controversial but hugely successful Blue Martini lounge" by holding a vote to allow them to renew their license. If you are in the area, and want to get involved, find more info here.

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Friday, March 16, 2007


Shrimp Salad

Do you ever want to run away from home?

I guess that is another way of saying...go on vacation.

So my question really is, do you ever want to go on vacation? (My, what a silly question! I liked it better the other way!)

I know I feel that way sometimes.

Happily, my daily life is like a vacation, minus room service, so I don't have too much to complain about.

Then again, I do long to escape here and again.

And my solution?

Make something to eat that I would only eat on a tropical island. Far from prying eyes. Something I can pick at with my fingers. Or slurp with abandon.

Something lush and opulent. Jewel-like in its precious beauty. (Wow Rachael, feeling over the top today? Why yes, yes, I am.)

Something like this.

Shrimp salad.

Salty, succulent, crunchy, rich (and riche), cooling and finger-lickin' good. And if you really want, you can eat it with your fingers (though, wrapped in a lettuce leaf is nice too)

Try it, and enjoy!

1 pound cold small shrimp, cooked and peeled
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup sliced cornichons (gerkhins)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: oregano, parsley and dill or tarragon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Whisk together the mayonnaise, herbs, mustard, and lemon juice in medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serves four as a light entree.


The California freshwater shrimp is a federally listed endangered species

97% of American homes keep ketchup in their kitchen and we consume approx. 3 bottles worth a year. 4 tablespoons of ketchup have the nutritional value of an entire ripe, medium tomato

The flavor of zucchini is best when it is less than six inches long

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Thursday, March 15, 2007


Kimchi Soup with Silken Tofu

Oh Miss Leiha, my dearest, most delightfully hedonistic (and you know what I mean) friend...why didn't you tell me about this earlier! My life has changed! I am smitten. I am ravenous for this delight. And soon, sweet reader, I bet you will be too.

Shall I tell you the story?

There I was, innocent as a lamb in springtime...enjoying the dwindling sunlight, while driving down Wishire Blvd. when I dared to give her a call.

Somehow (gee, I wonder how) we got on the topic of dinner. She, being on the east coast, had already eaten.

She had eaten something called Kimchi soup. I was tantalized. I mean, struck. Struck with desire. I had to make it. I made a sharp left turn and headed towards Whole Foods. My mind was spinning.

Could kimchi soup be good? Was it worth my effort?

I called her from the store to discuss possible ingredients. We contemplated and rejected taro, broccoli and bean sprouts. We agreed on silken tofu, green beans and celery.

The bicoastal call (to the chagrin of other shoppers, I'm sure) diverted to me telling her all about the new simply adorable shopping carts they have debuted that I am mad for (they are so...wee! The cutest ever). I sent a snapshot from my phone.

See, it's all about technology. Gotta love it. I mean, without it, I would not have had heard of this soup, come up with a recipe or been able to share it with you, my peaches.

And I did make this soup (though, not until a few days later) and I loved it. I mean, I loved pickle soup, so it wasn’t that big a leap, right? This is just pickled cabbage soup!

It's spicy and sour, and a perfect blend of crunchy and smooth, liquid and solid (if you know, that appeals to you.) It's light until you add the rice, and then it is hearty and it has a million ways it can be varied, which makes me love it all the more.

So try it my dears, and enjoy. I know I did!

1 onion, halved and sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 cup green beans, sliced
Two cups chopped kimchi with 2 cups of the liquid
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup silken tofu, diced
1 lime
3 green onions, sliced
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Sesame seeds to garnish
Vegetable oil
Fish sauce, as needed
Rice to serve

In a soup pot, saute the onion, celery and garlic, until slightly browned. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Add the green beans, kimchi and it's liquid. Allow to simmer for five minutes. Add fish sauce, red pepper flakes, lime juice and zest to taste.

In four soup bowls, add some rice and the silken tofu. Top with the soup. Garnish with sesame and green onion.

Serves four


Cadbury-Schweppes the British maker of Dr Pepper sodas and Dairy Milk chocolate, said today that it planned to split off its American beverage unit from its candy businesses, following pressure from shareholders. Cadbury, which also makes 7Up, Snapple and Trident chewing gum, said a separation of the businesses would help the company focus on expanding its confectionary unit. - NY Times

Green onions are a good source of Vitamin A

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Moroccan Carrot Salad

When I was a precocious (and let's face it, opinionated) tween, I remember being on a flight with my beloved Auntie. (No idea where we were headed or why I was with her and not my parents, but I digress)

We were flipping through a fashion magazine (Elle if you must know) and she was indulgently allowing me to give her fashion tips. (Bless her heart. She is beyond amazing.)

Im not sure why this event has stayed with me for so long. But, I specifically remember telling her never to mix bold purple stripes with orange checks.

Yes, I was a wise 12 year old. Because you know, that is a common fashion faux pas.


Funny thing is that today, my world revolves around the color orange.

I LOVE it. I am wearing it right now as a matter of fact. (I’m tempted to take a picture of my shoes, because they are awesome, but I shall resist). And I like my dining options to be as rich in beta-carotene as possible. Oh yea!

And that of course means that I love me the carrots. Orange! Bold! Sweet and vibrant! Score.

So yesterday for lunch, I grated some carrots, chopped up some parsley, dressed it all and ate it with relish. I love it so much, I think I may have it again today.

It’s a North African inspired dish, replete with all kindsa vitaminy goodness and whatnot. (I am convinced that parsley is a superfood by the way.)

Tantalizing, tasty, sweet and hot, it’s...choice.

Try it, and enjoy!

And if you want to read MUCH more about said Auntie, check out her fantastic blog, Daily Bread Journal! It's super, and I am so glad she is blogging!

3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup parsley, rough chopped
Zest and 2 teaspoons of one small orange
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small chile, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pepper and salt to taste
Small handful of golden raisins
5 dried apricots, sliced

In a large bowl, combine all. Let it sit for five minutes. Serve. Mmm. Alternatively, you can mix everything but the parsley, wait about 30 minutes, then toss that in and serve.


Parsley contains three times as much vitamin C as oranges, and twice as much iron as spinach

Kerri Anderson, who became chief executive officer of a shrinking Wendy's International Inc. in November after six months as interim CEO, received compensation valued at $6.7 million in 2006. .Jack Schuessler, who retired abruptly weeks before a May 1 deadline to become eligible for a portion of his stock option awards, received compensation valued at $5 million. Since Anderson took over, the nation's third largest hamburger chain completed the spinoff of the Tim Hortons coffee-and-doughnut chain, sold its money-losing Baja Fresh Mexican Grill chain and cut 355 corporate jobs. She had been executive vice president before her promotion, and served as chief financial officer for part of 2006. - AP

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Monday, March 12, 2007


Ultimate Mac & Cheese

This is not my recipe. I'm saying that first up, because as much as I would LOVE to claim that it is isn't.

But let me tell you why I am posting it anyway.

You know how you can search for eternity for the "perfect" version of something? Maybe it's a good haircut. Or a couch. (listen to act three there) Maybe it's a spouse (ha ha) or just a really comfortable pair of slippers.

Well, for me, the quest has always been for Mac & Cheese.

Something gooey and warm and filling and soothing. Something robust with flavor. Something that didn't come from a box. (I know that blue box is a classic. I know people love it. I don't hold it against you. I just think it's time for a change...and that time is now. Now that perfection is being offered to you.)

Since that is my quest, I have tried many a recipe. I've made my own, I've made the recipe of others. I've done so many of the durned things I started to wonder if the secret really was something as frightening and elusive like "processed cheese food."

Until last week.

There I stood confronted with another recipe for pasta with mornay sauce (that is what it is after all) and thought...well, might as well give it a try! It was in the January issue of Sunset magazine and since I have a deep love for their publication, I thought...why not give it a whirl.

And I did. And I am SO glad I did. Because I realize now, that there is such a thing as Mac & Cheese fulfillment. True transcendence. And this my sweet peaches, is it. This is so darned tasty that there is no going back. It's adult. It's glam. It's rich and warm. It's beyond compare. It is cheese and carbs bliss. And I say, bring it on...

So try this my loves, and enjoy!

Ultimate Mac ‘n’ Cheese by Amy Traverso for Sunset Magazine.

8oz macaroni, or other tube-shaped pasta
½ tsp coarse salt, plus more for cooking pasta
3 ½ tsp unsalted butter
½ cup finely chopped shallots
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups dry white wine (I used Charles Shaw Chardonnay)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
7 oz. gruyere, grated
5 oz. aged gouda
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp. minced fresh chives
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp each cayenne and freshly ground nutmeg
4 oz. crusty sourdough bread (about ¼ loaf), torn into large pieces

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling, well-salted water until just cooked, around 7-12 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the shallots and cook until just browned, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the warmed butter with your flour and then cook, stirring continutously, for one minute. Add the wine and cream and stir well.

Pour in the cheeses, and stir until melted. Add 2 tablespoons chives, mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Stir cooked pasta into cheese mixture, then pour all into a shallow baking dish.

In a food processor, pulse bread with remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon chives, and ¼ teaspoon salt until coarse bread crumbs form. Sprinkle bread crumbs over pasta and cheese and bake until top is browned and cheese is bubbling, 15-20 minutes.


Mornay Sauce: A basic béchamel sauce to which cheese has been added. It is sometimes varied with the addition of eggs or stock

In 1914 -- J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co. opened their first cheese factory in Stockton, Illinois. A year later, they begin producing process cheese in tins. In 1937 The KRAFT® Macaroni and Cheese Dinner is introduced with the slogan, "Make a meal for 4 in 9 minutes." -

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Friday, March 09, 2007


All-American Spinach-Artichoke Dip


Wowee, another artichoke recipe!

I know! It’s practically un-American, but until last night, I had never (to my knowledge) consumed that which is...(the oh-sure-now-you-tell-me it’s glorious) Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Of course, now I’m wondering if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Sure, it’s come across my path. I mean, it’s on the buffet at most parties, and available in the market pre-made, but since I’m not much of a hot-creamy-cheesy-dip girl, it’s just never really drawn me in.

And truth be told, I’m pretty durned sure that somewhere in the back of my mind I just KNEW it would be supremely tasty and yet so insidiously bad for me that I should just plain avoid all contact. Kinda like cheesecake (which, I have had, I'm not from Mars!)

I have self restraint most of the time mind you, it's just that last night, what with the combination of good friends (one who a top-notch mixologist with a heavy hand) sitting around catching up, and well, self control with me?

I dug in.

Sure, sure, it most likely could be pinned as the second biggest culprit in the American Obesity Epidemic...well, we’ll just have to turn a blind eye to that.

So now that I have taken the plunge, I suggest you do too, because it is hot-creamy-cheesy-goodness, with just enough spinach to let you deny it's ALL bad for you.

Oh and as for you skinny types, I just have this to say...the low fat version is for suckers. Go for the gusto, and let out your pants, because one bite, and you will be hooked...

12 oz. fresh baby spinach
3 Tbsp butter
1 (8oz.) package cream cheese
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 (16 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese to top
Tortilla chips and salsa for serving

Rinse the spinach, then pile it all into a large pan over high heat until wilted. Drain spinach well, pressing between paper towels. Chop spinach.

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cream cheese and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly until cream cheese melts. Fold in spinach, artichokes, sour cream, and mozzarella cheese; stir until cheese melts.

Transfer mixture to a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.


In September 2006, The Scripps Research Institute and McDonald’s announced a collaboration regarding research and educational initiatives to drive progress toward a solution to childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. McDonald’s will contribute $2 million to The Scripps Research Institute to address these critical health issues facing America’s youth. -

The first Chili's Restaurant opened in Dallas, Texas in 1975.

The artichoke is an unopened edible bud of a perennial thistle plant native to the Mediterranean.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Steak with Artichoke Hearts

Is it true that sometimes a girl just wants a steak? Just to bare her incisors, bite in and devour it? Can that be fact? And if so, how do we account for vegetarians?

Shall we debate it? Nah, let's just cook, so much more fun than getting political. (Though, I voted yesterday in the Los Angeles elections and I believe my friend The Ombudsman and I were the only two voters who showed up at our polling place that whole morning. Sigh...come on people! Vote!)

Well, whatever the reason you crave a steak, there is no debating that this dish is super delicious.

What isn't in the picture thought (because it was decidedly un-photogenic) was the béarnaise sauce.

Béarnaise. That which makes good, spectacular. That which makes double strength work-outs necessary. That which makes me lick-the-plate. Oh heavens above, do I love me that béarnaise. I can't - in good conscious - advocate eating it with an regularity unless you are on a mission to ruin your health, but once in a while - go for it! Calories? Phewey.

So indulge in this my peaches and rejoice and devour and then...hit the gym.

6 filet mignon medallions
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans artichoke hearts (the kind in water), diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 shallots, sliced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Toss the beef with the next five ingredients and let marinate for 45 minutes. If you are going to go longer, place in a shallow non-reactive dish, cover and refrigerate. When ready to use, let come to room temp. before cooking.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan over high heat. Remove the steaks from the marinade and cook for 2 minutes, then turn and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the heat and let rest.

Wipe out the pan and add the butter and oil. Sauté the garlic breifly then add the artichoke hearts. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and add the basil, salt and pepper and toss to incorporate. Serve on a platter and place the cooked fillets on top of the artichokes with some of the béarnaise sauce on the side.

Bernaise Sauce
1/4 cup White wine vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp fresh tarragon, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 egg yolks
Salt and pepper

Combine the vinegar, wine, shallots and tarragon in saucepan. Cook over low heat until reduced to half, about 8 minutes. Add some salt and pepper.

Strain mixture into top of double boiler. Using a whisk, beat in beaten egg yolks and salt. Cook over hot water until thickened. Carefully add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir over heat till creamy, about 1 minute.

Serve with the steak.

Makes more bernaise than you will need, but less than you will want.


I was super thrilled on Monday night to meet the exceptionally cool and talented Dani, another local food blogger. She is beyond glam and I adore her. If you haven't checked out her site, get on over there!

Bearnaise is a sauce similar to hollandaise. A reduction of white wine and seasonings is blended with egg yolks until emulsified. Traditionally, the sauce is seasoned with shallots and tarragon.

Pepsi and Coke will soon introduce new carbonated drinks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals: Diet Coke Plus and Tava, which is PepsiCo’s new offering. They will be promoted as The companies are not calling them soft drinks, but instead “sparkling beverages ”because people are turning away from traditional soda, which has been hurt in part by publicity about its link to obesity. While the soda business remains a $68 billion industry in the United States, consumers are increasingly reaching for bottled water, sparkling juices and green tea drinks. – NY Times

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Monday, March 05, 2007


Salmon Tartare & Fava Bean Salad

I was supposed to bring food to a Post LA-Marathon Party on Sunday afternoon.

Something indulgent, but light, high in protein, but balanced. A tricky combo indeed.

Now, as an aside, I really shouldn’t go into my thoughts on this act known as a marathon because I find it doesn’t win me any friends…but then again, it's my blog, so here it is…don’t these people know that at the end of the original run, the guy DIED? I’m just saying. Food for thought, if you will.

And forget about the traffic jam it causes in a town that really doesn’t need that sort of headache. Insanity.

I say take the whole nutty shin-dig out to the desert and let me be…but then again, if they did that, I wouldn’t have gone to the party of the year. So there you go.

And don’t you want to know what I brought? (Of course you do, or else why would you have read this far?)

I came with this simple, vibrant, perfectly balanced delight. So easy to make you will wonder why you haven’t done it before. Took three minutes to make, dicing the salmon being the most involved task.

So my dears, try it, and enjoy!

2 medium filets sushi-grade salmon, skin removed
1/2 cup fava beans
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
Light olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything together in a bowl. Let sit for five minutes to meld. Serve.


Tarragon was used by the Greeks as early as 500 BC. The Arabs named it “turkhum” which means dragon. The tradition has been continued by the French who call it “estragon.” - Food

Chinook salmon are the largest of the Pacific salmon, with some individuals growing to more than 100 pounds.

Why did the cookie go to the doctor? Because it was feeling crummy.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007


Thai-Style Duck Bites

You like to eat duck right?

And Thai food? You like Thai food too, right?

Oh yeah baby, you know you do...

And I do too.

Heck yea, I do.

And what else do we all love?

That's right...cocktail foods.

Small bites of salty-tangy-sweet-sour-puckery-blistering that make that Friday night-end-of-the-work-week bev just so much more enjoyable.

Or, at least, foods that makes it easy to have something resembling dinner while standing up at a function...

Which leads me to this. This which is (yet another) cocktail food you simply must try.

I fully admit that I didn't come up with this play on Tom Yum Goong soup, but once I heard of it, I did make it, and I did tweak it and I did eat it (and then eat some more, and well, you get the idea) and lo, it was tasty. Really tasty.

Rich, dense duck meat paired with fragrant Thai basil, cooling cucumber, sour lime zest and a touch of soy, it was hard to just eat one (which, I didnt. I ate more like, oh, twenty).

Trust me, its worth making. So try it yourself, and enjoy!

Meat from one duck (I bought a fully cooked Peking duck in Thai Town), shredded
5 teaspoons soy sauce
Zest and juice of two small limes
2 kaffir lime leaves, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 small bunch of Thai basil, chopped fine
Sugar as needed
2 or 3 English (hothouse) cucumbers to serve

In a medium bowl, stir together the soy, lime juice, lime zest, kaffir (if using) and ginger. Taste and add sugar if you want it less tart. Add the meat and toss to coat. Let marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, slice the cucumbers into rounds, or - as I did - make them into cups, by using a melon baller to scoop out some of the seeds from a 1/2 inch piece that was cut flat on one side and at an angle on the other (see photo above).

Toss the basil with the duck and divide the mixture onto the cucumber rounds. There should be enough for about 40 servings.

Serve room temperature.

Thai Basil is a major ingredient in many Thai dishes. It is also known as Sweet Basil and its aroma is reminiscent of anise or liquorice when fresh, cooked of fried. It is easily confused with Holy Basil which has a completely different aroma. - Wikipedia

As of a 2006 poll, there were 750 Thai restaurants in the UK - London had 37%, Home Counties, 22% and Scotland/Wales 6%. Comparatively there are 3500 Chinese restaurants and 50 Vietnamese.

Prince Charles suggested Tuesday on a visit to the United Arab Emirates that banning McDonald's was crucial for improving people's diets. Charles made the comments while visiting the Imperial College London Diabetes Center in Abu Dhabi for the launch of a public health campaign, The Press Association reported. 'Have you got anywhere with McDonald's? Have you tried getting it banned? That's the key,' Charles was quoted as asking one of the center's nutritionists. – Associated Press

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