Wednesday, May 28, 2008


How To Cook a Perfect Steak (With Mushrooms)

I believe I was rhapsodizing to the Ombudsman about my unabashed crush on my butcher.

He is so smart! And his prices are the best! And did I tell you he knows everything about meat? Like, everything?


So what if he is in his mid 70's and has grandchildren! I still lurve him.

As this was going on, the Ombudsman was just looking at me. Quizzically.

I could read it on his face, he officially thinks I may have lost what was left of my fabubbloicity.

The man obviously cannot wrap his mind around that which is the brilliance of a true, old school butcher.

It's a joyful thing.

Noting the look on his face, I paused. I decided to start again.

"So, how do you want your steak?"

Plain. With mushrooms.

Good to go.

Simple steak, simply fantastic.

Try it my peaches, and taste the joy.

2 6 oz. filets of beef, room temperature
2 tablespoons high quality butter
salt and pepper
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thick
1 teaspoon minced fresh savory

Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large, cast iron skillet over a medium flame. When it is good and hot add half the butter. When melted, add the mushrooms in a nice single layer. Then just leave them alone. Don't push them around, don't flip, just let them cook for three minutes. You can peek under one if you must, but really, trust me, just let them cook. Then flip. When they are golden on both sides, toss in the savory (or any fresh herb you are partial to.) stir a moment and remove all to a warm plate. Add the rest of the butter and then the steak. Again, don't touch it, just let it cook. Don't shake the pan, don't press down on it, just let it be. When golden, flip and repeat. When almost done (how long is that? However long it takes my peaches. I suspect you can tell) add back the mushrooms, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Remove from the pan, let rest at least 6 minutes then serve. Voila, perfect steak.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement.

Last year 24,000 cookbooks were published in the U.S.

Wanna read the sweetest thing? That Hazel, what a peach!

Americans consume about 26 pounds of pasta per capita each year. Italians, it almost goes without saying, are the world champions, averaging 60 pounds of pasta a year for every man, woman and child in the country. - WSJ

Wright’s Hickory Seasoning is made by collecting the smoke from burning hickory wood in a condenser and cooling it until it forms water. The droplets are captured and filtered twice, before being bottled without any additional ingredients. -

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Friday, May 23, 2008


Vanilla Scented Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Hazelnuts

Lacto-Ovo Pescatarian
Gluten Free
Lactose Intolerant
Low Carb
Low Fat
Low Sodium
Sugar Free

I wonder which combo would be the hardest to cook for.

My bet is on low-fat, Halal follower with a nut and soy allergy.

Nah, they eat lots.

What about a carnivorous locavore on a sugar and salt free diet. Tricky, but do-able.

Perhaps kosher, low salt, low sodium.


Nursing homes around to world contend with that daily.

I've got it. Low-carb, low-fat, low-sodium, nut-allergic, picky eating fruitarian.

Oh wait, fruitarians are super easy to (not) cook for! Just give um fruit!

My point here kiddies, is that no one diet is really SO out there that you can't find a way to accommodate. Just use your noodle! (Unless they are low-carb...) And make it look pretty. The person you are cooking (or, not cooking) for deserves that.

Now try this my peaches, and taste the (warm, smooth, heady) joy.

1/4 cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 pound rutabaga (aka Swede)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream (yup!)
2 (more) teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, and seeds scraped out

Preheat your oven to 275F.

Toss the hazelnuts with the oil, extract and some salt. Roast for 5 -8 minutes or until just fragrant. Rough chop and set aside.

Peel and chop the potatoes and the rutabaga. Boil in salted water until soft (the rutabaga takes either chop it smaller than the potato or boil them separately.)

Drain and mash with the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning to preference.

Serve garnished with chopped nuts.

(I served it with herb crusted lamb chops. Mmmm.)

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringment.

Yukon Gold potatoes are slightly flat and oval in shape with light gold, thin skin and light yellow flesh. They can be identified by the rosy pink coloration of the shallow eyes. Anthoxanthins are the compound which gives the potato its yellow color. -

Manhattan seafood restaurant Le Bernardin raised prices three times last year due to rising food costs.

Vodka remains the spirit of choice among many Americans. In 2007, it captured 24% of the $18.2 billion distilled-spirits market, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

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Monday, May 19, 2008


Quick Pickled Fennel

Inspiration! Isn't it just key? Key!

My fully-fantastic friend The Hostess, who is just the peachy keenest, is forever inspiring me to reach for the stars when it comes to my cooking. She is such a natural talent I just can't help but be in awe.

Seriously, every idea she has just sounds so yumlicious, it makes it hard to resist heading right to the market whenever we finish chatting.

This, for example, was her idea. We were talking cheese plates (you do that all the time with your girlfriends too, don't you?) and somehow ended up rhapsodizing about fennel and pickles and well, the rest is pretty obvious...

Pickled fennel. Tart, tangy and salty with a hint of sweetness and a whisper of something divine. It is just too, too perfect with an assortment of cheeses and a well balanced gin and tonic. (Or, um, you could pair it with something non-alcoholic if that is your thing) Crisp, simple and sassy.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

1 large bulb fennel, sliced into large matchsticks
1 cup water
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon white pepper corns
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced onion

Have your chopped fennel in a glass bowl or jar.

In a medium sized sauce pot, simmer all of the ingredients except the fennel. Let simmer for 3 minutes to meld.

Pour the pickling solution you have just made over the fennel. Let rest 3 hours and up to 1 week.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

I am growing fennel in my garden this summer, I got the seeds from
Seeds from Italy.

Burpee's best-selling new vegetable last year was Golden Mama, a yellow-fleshed, egg-shaped tomato designed to make paste. It cooks down to a golden-yellow sauce instead of the unattractive grayish-brown that other yellow tomatoes typically produce.-

Are fennel and anise the same thing? No. Fennel is truly a vegetable and should not be confused with the herb, sweet anise. Even though they share a similar mild sweet licorice flavor, fennel comes from an entirely different plant. - Tony

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Monday, May 12, 2008


Noodles with Olives and Corn

Hee hee.

If by some interesting twist of fate, the Ombudsman and I have a child, we have decided it would be best to name it Rutherford, after our 19th President, Rutherford B. Hayes. (Not that we know much about him, only that in 1876, he was elected by a margin of one - yes, one - electoral vote. Talk about controversal!)

We also get a tickle from the name because The Ombudsman's last name is pronounced (though not spelled) something akin to Ball, and we think that Rutherford B. Ball is pretty much the most rockin' name imaginable.

Good thing we aren't having children, right?

But should baby Rutherford ever come in to being, I have to say, one aspect I really and truly look forward to is the exciting challenge of choosing his/her (because Rutherford could be a girl's name too, right?) comfort food. I mean really! Talk about a control-freak foodies dream...choosing another persons comfort food! I tell ya, that lil' desicion right there must make motherhood totally worthwhile. I mean really! (Again.) What if every time your adult child gets a bit down they suddenly CRAVE - um, I dunno - BBQ'd eel like Mother used to make?

Not that I wish my (as now unrealized) offspring to be total oddballs, (that is bound to come naturally...tee hee) but there is just something so cliche about craving mac n'cheese or ice cream when one gets pouty, why not make it more festive?

For instance, I could introduce this recipe...which as an adult I have added to my personal comfort food list. If you have ever spent a prolonged amount of time in the South Pacific, you've seen it too, ya? It's the Polynesian go-to vegetarian afterthought side-dish extraordinaire. Honestly, go anywhere in Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea or their neighboring islands and I can promise you, this will be presented. Again, and again, and again. Until you finally get over the fact it is a bit off, and realize you too love it.

It's one of those dishes that is 100% from the cupboard and perhaps not the most gourmet. It is though, ideal for island pantries, boats at sea, and naturally, that makes it a flawless dish for moments when you are in need of comfort...the contents are easy to have on hand and can be put together in a snap.

Noodles wit Olives and Corn. I tell you, the future Rutherford B. Ball will be forever appeased with this whiz-bang delight in his/her repetoire.

It may seem like a strange combo, but it really does taste quite nice. Sweet corn, salty olives, chewy pasta and fragrant olive oil. It is comfort indeed.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

1/2 pound whole wheat fettuccine
2 T. olive oil
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup picholine olives
1/2 cup corn
Green onion for garnish (optional)
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta per the package instructions.

Pit the olives and rough chop.

Meanwhile, saute the onion in the olive oil until just softened. Add the olives, warm through and remove from the heat.

Drain the cooked pasta and toss with the onions-olives. Add corn, toss and serve with additional salt and pepper and green onion as garnish (if desired).

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking is guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

First Lady, Lucy Webb Hayes (one of the most popular First Ladies of her era) was also known as 'Lemonade Lucy', due to her strong support of Temperance.

The French Picholine is a green, torpedo-shaped and brine cured olive.

Tokyo, Japan has more Michelin stars than Paris, France.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008


Wild Rice and Artichoke Bake

Oh hai! I'm Rachael. I write this blog that I call Fresh Approach (because I'm fresh n' cheeky of course!) and I have been at it for four years.

The Ombudsman (who wants me to call him Sparkplug from now on. I mean, really. Sparkplug? Ha ha ha. Not gonna happen.) is my good friend. (The kind who takes me to the Dodger game even though it is the hottest day of the year, or the kind who helps me dig in the garden even though I am so obsessed with getting the soil perfect that I actually may never plant anything.) He is that for lots n' lots of reasons, but that he is endlessly tolerant of my antics and indulgent of my whims makes him one of my all time favorite people. (Tied with my mother who is the true saint in that category.)

Do you ever test your friends tolerance? Like say, when you wake up super-duper early and you are in a kinda sorta bouncy mood (is that just me?). So you put on your pink hat, fill up your pink water bottle, slip in to your pink clogs and hop on your fantastical pink beach cruiser. Then, you show up on your friends doorstep. And despite the fact it is 7 am on a Saturday, he opens the (three locks, security gate and) door with a smile.

That my readers, is a friend.

But I didn't show up empty handed! No, no, I did not. I showed up with this fantasmagorical calorie laden delight. It is rich and nutty and kind of tangy (the artichokes do that), it is dense and cheesy (but not too cheesy). It had just been so good the night before (with pecan crusted fish and garlic-green beans. So awesome.) I had to share (and be earth friendly by riding my bike too.) asap. So, I showed up at first light to share. Because I am a sharing, caring kind of girl.

And in that spirit, I am here to share with you too. Because really my darlings, is that not the point of this site? It's not to ramble on in pithy couplets about my life, or promote's simply my way of sharing the tasty treats.

So try this my peaches, (with the best ingredients you can get your hands on) and taste the joy.

1 cup marinated artichoke heart quarters, drained
1 cup cooked brown rice, chilled
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and mustard. Add salt stir again. Stir in the artichoke hearts, rice and cheeses.

Pour into a well-buttered eight-inch square baking dish.

Sprinkle the top with paprika, and additional salt and pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes, uncovered. When done, cut in to squares.

Serves nine, hot, warm or cold.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

Please help support disaster relief in Myanmar (Burma)

California's wild rice industry began in 1972 when white rice farmer Vince Vanderford decided to plant Minnesota wild rice seeds at his Yuba City farm in Northern California. Commercial production of California wild rice began around 1977.

The amount of food Britons throw away unnecessarily is at record levels, costing the economy 10 billion pounds a year. More than half of the 6.7 million tons of food that households throw away annually is still edible, the study from the Waste and Resources Action Programme revealed. About one billion pounds worth of wasted food is still "in date", the report concluded, while about 6 billion pounds of food was bought but left untouched. An average household discards about 420 pounds worth of unused food a year, the study said, while for families with more children that rises to over 600 pounds. - Reuters

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Monday, May 05, 2008


Made In LA - Heaven Scent Cookies

And now, for another edition of Made in L.A., my quest to find foods made right here in my home town...but available everywhere.

And this time peaches, we have a real treat! No, really...its a treat. Well, if you are the sort of person who considers a cookie a treat...because these are cookies we are talking about. See? A real treat!

So please allow me to introduce to you Heaven Scent Cookies. Made in Santa Monica, California (which is a city on the West side of the urban sprawl that is LA. SM has a fascinating history and is home to Douglas Aircraft, The RAND Corporation, public radio power house KCRW, the world famous Santa Monica Pier and of course, it's most celebrated son, talk show host Carson Daly!) they are available nationwide. I actually picked mine up at a grocery store in New York City. (I wonder if that is bad? I mean, that both me and the cookies travelled so far to meet...)

They are organic and Kosher and come in fourteen different varieties. For scientific (okay, not scientific) purposes, I tried Double Thick Chocolate Fudge, Gingerbread Boy, Old World Chocolate Sandwich and Brown Sugar Cream (which didn't make it in to the picture because they were so darned delicious!) And I have to say, those are some winning treats! Each one was better than the last.

So if really delicious, buttery, crumbly cookies with a lot of flavor and all natural ingredients sounds good to out and find some of these little gems. You will thank me. They are beyond fantastic and absolutely worth seeking out!

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

Other things "Made in L.A." - Carl's Jr., Trader Joe's, Dennys, the Monte Cristo sandwich, Hot Dog on a Stick, Fosters Freeze, the French Dip sandwich, Orange Julius, FatBurger, Taco Bell and the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail

The average American eats 35,000 cookies in his/her lifetime.

In England, Schweppes makes a quinine soda called "Indian Tonic Water," which is somewhat less sweet than the American version. The sweetness Indian Tonic Water does have comes from saccharine.


Friday, May 02, 2008


Super Spicy Habanero, Tomatillo Salsa

I don’t know what happened! Honestly…looking at my calendar for the next three months it seems as if I have exactly 28 minutes of unblocked time coming to me – sometime in July I think.

It’s as if I got caught up in a tornado. Wait, sorry, is that the funnel cloud one? Yes, what I meant is I got caught up in a funnel cloud of social engagements and activities and meetings (well, not so many of them thankfully) and all sorts of summer-centric-paloozas.

I’m not complaining though, as a matter of fact, I am quite looking forward to it. I’m a bit of a planning calendar (“diary” if I were British) addict. (Do you use Google calendars? The best! The BEST!) and happy to see all the good times that lay ahead.

And due to that, I have got to dust off my BBQ/Potluck/Cocktail Soiree recipes and get myself in gear. Like a soldier going in to battle I must be prepared!
I have to bust out the good stuff! Bring out the big guns! (My, MY, lots of military references today. How…odd.)

So peaches, if you want to arm yourselves too…try making a big batch of this scorching salsa. It’s sure to put a bit of zip in your step (and tears in your eyes. Seriously.) and get you in the mood for Cinco de Mayo and the long, hot summer.

Try it, and taste the joy.

2 habenero chiles
2 jalapeno chiles
2 serrano chiles
1 large onion, large dice
2 cloves garlic
6 tomatillos
Juice of 3 limes
½ cup minced cilantro
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large cast-iron pan, roast the chiles until charred on all sides. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam.

Meanwhile, char the onion and garlic in the same dry skillet.

Next up, (carefully!) rub the charred skin off and pull out the seeds.

Puree everything in a food processor. Taste and add salt as needed.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of infringing upon terms of copyright.

My dear friend EB produced some great Office Workout shorts for MSN...try them out and feel the burn!

The Naga Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) is the world's hottest chile pepper.

Burger King Holdings Inc. said Thursday that strong same-store sales in each of its segments and new restaurant growth helped to boost profit 21 percent in its third fiscal quarter.

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