Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Grilled Kabocha Pumpkin & Asian Pear Salad

When the phone rang at 8pm (well, did it’s little tune/jingle thing. Can you program a phone to actually just, ring anymore?) I glanced down at the number so artfully displayed and did a double take.

Knowing there is an eight-hour time difference I had to wonder, who on earth was calling me from England at that hour?

I figured it must be a drunk dial, let it go to voicemail and forgot about it. Drunk dialers are only fun for about a second after all.

What a bummer mistake.

It was a British friend and they were calling with a bit of a rambling message, but alas, she was in Los Angeles on a layover to Hawaii and had been trying to reach me all day.


She had called in the morning asking if I wanted to meet for a pumpkin scone.

At noon, she called to see if I wanted to meet for pumpkin curry.

At three, for a pumpkin latte, and at dinner time for a slice of…you guessed it…pumpkin pie.

Turns out the radiant lass loves her some pumpkin and apparently had spent her entire 9 hour layover alone except for one very happy cab driver, hunting it down all over this fair city and consuming with abandon.

Had I only picked up that call. I could have invited her over for a feast.

Happily, she will be in town again on her return and I will be able to offer her this delight.

I emailed and confirmed.

Now try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

1/2 shallot, minced
6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
1 small Kabocha squash
2 large Asian Pears
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 small heads frisee, rinsed and torn
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces

Preheat grill to medium.

Whisk shallots, rice vinegar and Dijon mustard in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing to taste with curry powder (if using) and salt and pepper.

Slice the squash in half. Remove seeds and slice in to 1/4 inch thick slices.

Core and slice the pear into ½ inch slices also.

Toss the squash and pears together with the vegetable oil, salt and pepper.

Grill or pan sear the squash slices until just cooked through about 6 minutes. Set aside and repeat with the pears, which will take one or two minutes.

Toss the frisee and walnuts in the dressing and serve with the squash and pears.

(The vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper were not local. Everything else was.)

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" http://www.freshcatering.blogspot.comIf you are not reading this at the aforementioned URL or in your RSS feed, the site you are looking at are violating my copyright. And that's rude.

Frisée - French, from feminine past participle of friser, to curl. The pale, yellow salad green is a member of the chicory family.

In the last few years plantings of Asian pears were made in New Zealand, Australia, Chile, France, and the eastern and southeastern United States. Since 1984 about 500 acres of Asian pears have been planted every year in California. - Perdue.edu

LONDON, England (AP) -- The British pint has become the latest victim of the global credit crunch, with total beer sales dropping around 7 percent in the third quarter of this year. The British Beer and Pub Association said that 161 million fewer pints were sold between July and September compared with the same period last year -- a fall of 1.8 million pints a day.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Winter Waldorf with Roasted Grapes

The weather forcaster just informed me that she expects the weather to be 80F at the beaches today.

A siren song if I ever heard one.

But I promised to take in an exhibit at the Getty Museum with the fam. Who I love. And am always excited to spend time with. (Because they rock.)

That said...I'm wondering...

What if I show up at the wrong Getty museum (the Getty Villa, which is in Malibu and therefore closer to the beach) and then feel oh-so-sorry and traipse off to get some rays instead?


Better stick with the plan. The beach will be there tomorrow too...

Lucky I have a plan to keep my beach-body (ha ha) through the winter, so it will be there tomorrow too.

What's my plan, you ask?

More salads!

Like this one. A variation of my beloved Waldorf. Crunchy, tangy, full of flavor and with the excellent addition of roasted grapes. Gots to love it.

Try this my peaches, and taste the joy

1 cup red grapes
1/4 cup walnuts
2 stalks celery, sliced
Leaves from celery, torn
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 teaspoon minced winter savory (or other winter herb)
1 tablespoon mayo
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Turn your oven on to 400F.

Toss the grapes with a tiny amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the grapes in an oven proof pan (I used my trusty cast-iron). Arrange the walnuts on a sheet pan. Put both into the oven. Toast the nuts until just browned (about 8 minutes.) and the grapes until just bursting (about the same, but they may need a turn or two.)

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Toss together the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. Add more or less lemon juice as needed.

Add the walnuts and grapes after plating. (They don't look as pretty when they are coated in mayo. And this way the nuts won't get soft.)

(This was 99% local for me. Even the eggs and olive oil for the home-made mayo. The salt and pepper were the only imported items.)

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" http://www.freshcatering.blogspot.com
If you are not reading this at the aforementioned URL or in your RSS feed, the site you are looking at are violating my copyright. And that's rude.

The Franciscans planted California's first vineyards the 1700's.

Today, the average person in the U.S. consumes about 8 pounds of fresh grapes per year. 98% of these grapes come from California.

The name fennel originates from the Greek word for "marathon” which is the famous battle at Marathon in 490 B.C. where the Greeks fought against the Persians on a field of fennel. - Food Reference.com

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Friday, October 17, 2008


Drink of the Week: Tomato Martini

In honor of Columbus Day - a holiday I have never really understood or gotten behind – The Ombudsman and I took a little day trip to San Juan Capistrano.

Have you been? What a fabtastical little town! So lovely and tranquil and darling. Just a slice of purdy. You must, must, must go. The best of the California Missions for sure. No doubt. Loved it.

And after a day full of history and architecture, my good friend didn't have to ask where I thought our next stop should be.

With the lingering light and languid mood, we knew inherently that a cocktail was in order.

So we went by our favorite bar, (the one I can walk home from if need be) looking forward to imbibing in one of their delicious signature drinks.

Not shockingly, it was closed. Not sure if it was the hour (4:30), the day (Monday) or the fact it was a holiday…but none-the-less, we were left standing on the sidewalk – parched.


But after such a flawless day, this wasn’t going to get me down. Oh no, no.
I just had to make my own libation and watch the sun set on another perfect day.

That all being in the past and today being Friday though…I suggest you make one of these yourself. It’s a grown-up bevvie with a hint of Bloody Mary and a kiss of gazpacho. Sweet and sharp, if it sounds appealing chances are you will love it.

Now try it my peaches, and taste the joy.

2 ounces vodka, chilled
3 each cherry tomatoes
2 slices cucumber
Dash of Tabasco
Squeeze of lemon
Olives for garnish

Rinse a small glass with water and place in your freezer, upside-down until frosty.

Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, cucumber, Tabasco and vodka to a large glass. Crush the tomatoes with the end of a long wooden spoon. Strain in to the chilled glass. Add lemon to taste.

Serve with olives.

Makes one incredibly strong cocktail. Please drink responsibly.

(The tomatoes, cucumber, olives and lemon were local. The vodka came via Russia. So, it was a pretty local drink actually.)

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" http://www.freshcatering.blogspot.com

The Gold Medal is one of the sweetest tomatoes.

California is the only state in the U.S. where olives are commercially grown.

Chicken soup, which has been used for years as an effective home remedy to deal with the common cold, can also help fight high blood pressure, researchers in Japan have learned. Study leader Ai Saiga, a researcher from Nippon Meat Packers, says that chicken breast contains collagen proteins with effects similar to ACE inhibitors, mainstay medications for treating high blood pressure. - Japan Herald


Monday, October 13, 2008


Peanut Butter Cookies

So I was invited (asked?) to donate some baked goods for a fundraiser last weekend.

My natural inclination of course was to go all crazy and make some over-the-top extravaganza. That's my typical M.O. afterall.

But the more I thought about it (and after I made the gluten-free fudge. Yum.) the more I realized that as much as I like challenging myself to bake, I believe equally in the power of a classic cookie.

A perfect cookie draws you in and whisks you back to childhood. It is a reminder that no matter what the papers and the politicians say, the world is still a fun place and baked goods are just plain happy making.

Don't know about you, but these past few weeks, I've needed to be reminded of that.

So, I made these Peanut Butter cookies.

After I made them I took that hilarious picture. Which normally I wouldn't post, but it just struck me as being all very domestic, innocent and sweet. And we can all use a bit more of that these days.


Now try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup peanut butter

Preheat your oven to 350F

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugars and blend to incorporate. Add the egg, salt, vanilla, and then the rest of the ingredients.Roll the dough into small balls and space out on a greased baking sheet. Using a fork, press down a cross-pattern into each cookie. (While I wonder if that is actually needed, it certainly is traditional)Bake for 10 -12 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to rack to cool.

(As for my participation in the Eat Local Challenge...these weren't local. Obviously. Well, the egg was, but that's about it. They were organic though!)

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" http://www.freshcatering.blogspot.com

People in the U.S. eat more than 600 million pounds of peanuts a year.

In 2006 a new edition of the Joy of Cooking, based on the writing and structure of the 1975 edition was published to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Irma Rombauer's self-published cookbook. -Simon & Schuster

What is a bake sale? Allow Wiki
to explain.


Friday, October 10, 2008


French Style Tomato Soup

Last weekend took a bite out of me.

It all started innocently enough.

An invitation to a birthday party, a few beers, (my commitment to eating local ends at beverages you must understand) a couple of shots of who-knows-what, a scandalously short skirt and one reckless piggy-back ride, all conspired to land the Ombudsman in the hospital getting stitches at 3 am.

Poor, sweet man. Bled like a stuck pig he did. (Sorry, icky, right?) And after the doctor had his way, he looked remarkably like Frankenstein’s Monster. (With a nicer smile.)

Bless his heart. And his noggin.

Oh. Sweet love. (Thank GOODNESS he never reads this. I swear he would kill me for gettin all gushy. But I’m a girl. And a friend. So there you go.) Needless to say, my guilt is paramount and my heart is heavy and the poor boy is a bit shamed and ego-battered (but enviously well insured! The pay as a city worker may be sputtery but heavens does that insurance rock!) well...all that called for soup.

But what kind at this crux of the seasons?

Looking around the farmers market the next day, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum. There were tomatoes and pumpkins. Corn and persimmons. Basil and beets. End of summer, beginning o fall. Which to choose? The last of the warm summer harvest or the new and exciting autumn delights?

I opted for both by making a nourishing tomato soup to offer a bruised and battered man. Summery tomatoes in a warm bowl. The orange and fennel and tomato melding in to a perfect meal.

Fresh and spry, simple and delicious. Very quick (quicker than most of my recipes!) Perfect for what ails you or just the right thing for a lovely luncheon…So try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

(As you can see from the photo I did not include the croutons. I mean, I did, but we ate them before the shot was taken...)

1 small baguette, sliced on the bias (yeilding 12 slices. save the rest for something else)
olive oil
1/4 stick butter
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 small fennel bulb, coarse chop
1 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 small tomatoes, cored and rough chopped
1 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
3 cups vegetable broth
Optional garnish (lower calorie if you skip it)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 more teaspoons orange zest

Preheat oven to 350F.

Brush olive oil on both sides of the bread. Season with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until crisp, to make croutons.

In a food processor, chop the onion, fennel, carrot and garlic.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and next 5 ingredients. Cover and simmer vegetables 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Whisk cream, rosemary and 1 teaspoon orange zest in bowl until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Stir remaining 1 teaspoon orange zest into soup. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle cream mixture over and serve with a few croutons.

(For those of you following my eat-local-ism...the bread was local artisan made, but obviously not with local ingredients. Everything else came from the Hollywood Farmers market or my own garden.)

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" http://www.freshcatering.blogspot.com

A 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans contains about 1 1/2 cups beans, after draining and rinsing. One cup dried beans yields about 3 cups cooked beans.

Order your Montery Bay Aquarium
Sushi Pocket Guide now! So "you’ll be able to make seafood choices that please the palate and protect the world’s ocean wildlife."

Restaurants in Los Angeles that I have a hard time Googling: Eat. Local. 8 oz. Food. 15. Milk. (Couldn't find links for some. Because their names are dumb! You try searching for "Food restaurant in West LA" or "Local restaurant on Sunset blvd.") Any to add?

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Monday, October 06, 2008


Texas Caviar (Black Eyed Pea Salad with Speck)

Tell me peaches, are you taking part in the Eat Local Challenge?

You know...one month of 100-mile diet/local eating? Brilliant concept.
Important concept.

I'm on day six and rockin it like no other. (With exceptions of course. Since there isn't much alcohol for those cocktails produced in these parts. Yet.)

And talk about fab-tastic diet! I feel so invigorated and empowered and sassy. Supporting local farmers and the local economy.

Plain and simple, it's the best! (Plus, I swear, I lost that stubborn 3 pounds I am always whinging about. Most happy!)

I could go on and on, but since most of you aren't in a temperate climate, it may not be the easiest thing for you to take part in. But no worries, since this recipe can be made any old place. Texas, for instance. (Since I assume, based on the name - that is where it originated.)

It's just a bean-dream. All kinds of yum. Makes a girl smile.

The flavors are smokey and salty and creamy (that be the beans) and nutty (beans again) and get better n' better after a day or so of marinating. And it is totally open to being fussed with so you can really do whatever you like to make it your own. I personally served it as a side dish, but I hear tell that in Texas it is actually a kind of salsa. (As in, for chips. Seems...tricky to me. What with the beans being round-ish and all. But hey. Texans have skillz.)

So try it my lovelies and taste the joy.

4 cups cooked black eyed peas
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
2 sweet chile peppers, sliced
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1 stalk celery, small dice
1 ounce speck (smoked prosciutto), torn

Toss the beans with the oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Toss in peppers, onions, parsley and celery. Let rest until ready to serve.

Just before serving, in a dry skillet, saute the speck until crispy. Garnish beans with speck and serve.

Serves six to eight

In this recipe, all of the ingredients either came from the Hollywood Farmers Market or my own garden.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" http://www.freshcatering.blogspot.com/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 my copyright. And generally cheesing me off.

Speck is leg of pork which has been cured in salt and spices. It rests for several weeks before being cold-smoked slowley at 20°C or lower. The speck is then allowed to mature for about five months.

We served a version of this at our August Chicks with Knives
Sustainable Supper Club. If you are in LA, I hope you will join us for the next one!

I heart Tiffany.

The suburban New York store where Tom Carvel launched his Carvel's ice cream empire is set to close after more than 70 years. Tom Carvel's ice cream truck got a flat tire on Hartsdale's Central Avenue in 1934. He was forced to pull over and did such brisk business that two years later, he opened an ice cream stand on the spot, about 25 miles north of Manhattan. - AP

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