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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Thankful for You

In Food, Recipes on November 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm


Oh, hi there! It’s been a while. Thank you guys for continuing to visit the site (we are at almost a million views!!!!). So where have I been? I’ve been cooking, a lot, over on my Instagram feed. But with Thanksgiving approaching, which is my very favorite day of the entire year, I had a little more to say! This year we’re celebrating with a few of our favorite friends and combining two family traditions, and I can’t wait. I started planning the menu a few weeks before Halloween (like around Labor Day) but wasn’t allowed to talk about it out loud until November rolled around.

I’ve ordered our BN Ranch Heritage Turkey from Gwen Butcher Shop, which comes with Curtis Stone’s homemade cranberry sauce. And I’m buying the pies. There I said it. I ordered one of these Winter Luxury Pumpkin Pies from Valerie Confections, which uses roasted ‘Winter Luxury’ pumpkins and is topped with whipped cream.

pumpkin pie

I had planned to make a pecan pie for my husband, because it is the only thing he wants at Thanksgiving really, but then I got to talking to my barista the other day and learned that Go Get ‘Em Tiger is making Brown Butter Pecan Pies with toasted California pecans, brown butter sauce and a whole wheat crust. Whoa!


So what else will be on the table? This incredible Mushroom Thyme Gravy, for sure. It’s vegetarian and make-ahead. I put it together in the morning and keep it warm in a thermos all day.


Both families are making a stuffing, and I’m going back and forth between three options for ours. Stay tuned! Mashed potatoes, check. Green beans, roasted carrots, check. My husband is grilling Brussels sprouts which he tosses in parm, and our friend Justin is mixing up Whiskey Sours and Shrimp Cocktail while we all cook. Would love to hear your must-haves for Thanksgiving, particularly if you have any favorite stuffing recipes.


In Food, Recipes on January 4, 2014 at 8:38 am


It’s a New Year, and we’re trying to eat clean during the week (tonight’s pork rib roast followed by steamed persimmon pudding and hard sauce will be another story). Last night I made a favorite Tunisian breakfast dish, shakshuka, for dinner. The flavors are so rich and indulgent with just a bit of heat, you’ll forget that this dish is totally guilt-free. The recipe comes from my current cookbook obsession, Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi. I modified only slightly (using canned tomatoes instead of fresh). This would serve four for breakfast, or two very hungry adults for dinner.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons harissa

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 large red peppers, diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained

4 eggs

A couple dollops of Greek yogurt

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and  add the harissa, tomato paste, red peppers, garlic, cumin, and  1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté for 8 minutes, until the peppers soften. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

Make four indentations in the sauce and then crack an egg into each. Use a fork to swirl around the whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks.



Simmer until the whites are gently set and the yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes (you can cover pan with a lid if you want to speed things up a little, but check frequently). Spoon eggs in the sauce onto plates, and serve with a dollop of yogurt on the side.

Shrimp Roast

In Food, Recipes on December 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm

shrimp curry

About a month ago, a friend gave me a copy of Canal House Cooks Every Day and I can’t put it down! So far my favorite recipe—the one that has already become a weekly obsession—is a wonderfully complex curry that is even more wonderfully easy to prepare. This fiery  curry, which gets its heat from Kashmiri chile powder, is meant to be served over a delicious sounding curd rice, but given that we’re trying to lighten things up during the week, I just steam a small head of orange cauliflower florets and serve the curry over that.

India Spices & Groceries

For those in Los Angeles, you can find Kashmiri chile powder and fresh curry leaves at India Spices & Groceries on Pico Blvd., just west of Fairfax.

Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
Serves 2-3
For the spice blend:
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon Kerala-style garam masala
1/4 teaspoon lightly crushed fennel seeds
For the shrimp:
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (scant) coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon peeled and finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon tomato paste
For the tarka:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
10-15  fresh curry leaves


For the spice blend, mix together the coriander, garam masala, and fennel seeds in a bowl. Set aside.

For the shrimp, pat the shrimp dry and put them in a medium bowl. Add chile powder, pepper, turmeric, and salt and toss to coat. Set aside.

Heat scant 1/4 cup coconut oil in a large wide skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they begin to brown around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, tomato paste, and fry for 1 minute. Add spice blend and fry briefly until fragrant. Increase heat to high and add shrimp, stirring constantly until the shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish.

For the tarka, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry leaves and fry briefly until they crackle. Pour tarka over shrimp. Serve over steamed cauliflower or rice.

Shrimp Roast

Artisanal Jello Shots

In Drink, Recipes on December 8, 2013 at 8:18 am

Whiskey Sour Jello Shot

I never thought I’d be the kind of girl to be posting about jello shots, but here we are. A couple weeks ago the topic of jello shots came up with my friend Kristi, who had never tried one. I hadn’t thought about those green jello and vodka shooters served up in Dixie cups at frat parties in years, and for good reason. They’re vile. But it got me thinking, what would a Whiskey Sour version with Luxardo cherries bring to the game? So when Kristi and some friends were over the other night at a holiday party, I gave it a go and not only did they give us all a good laugh, but they were fantastic! I might need to experiment with a Pimms Cup shot next…

Whiskey Sour Jello Shots

3 ounces Makers Mark

2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ounce agave syrup

1/4 cup cold water

2 envelopes of Knox unflavored gelatin (5 1/2 teaspoons)

1 cup boiling water

Whisk together whiskey, lemon juice, agave syrup and cold water. Set aside.

whiskey sour mix

In a separate bowl, pour boiling water over gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add whiskey mixture. Mix well and pour into silicone ice cube trays. Add a Luxardo cherry to each. Refrigerate for several hours.

jello shot luxardo cherry

Use a butter knife to edge around each cube to help release from tray.

Kim’s Killer Banana Pudding

In Food, Recipes on November 4, 2013 at 10:33 am

banana pudding

You will either thank or curse me for sharing what is the ultimate in banana pudding recipes from one of the best cooks I know. I cannot overstate how mind-blowingly delicious this pudding is. A few months ago, my friend Kim brought us dinner—a comforting slow-simmered bolognese along with a Bouchon butter lettuce salad, and for dessert her banana pudding. I’m not a fan of hyperbole but this is THE BEST BANANA PUDDING I’VE EVER TASTED. EVER. I’ve since made her recipe for my own family, as well as sharing with friends and neighbors, my sister, a friend who just had a baby, and in return have received a couple of marriage proposals not to mention reignited interest from my own husband. It’s really that good. My own twist to Kim’s recipe is making vanilla wafers from scratch, though you can certainly use Nilla Wafers. The homemade wafers are super quick and easy to make, and can be done while the pudding and condensed milk are setting up.

Kim’s Killer Banana Pudding

5-ounce package instant vanilla pudding

14-ounce can condensed milk

1 1/2 cups water

3 cups heavy cream

30 vanilla wafers

3 sliced bananas

In a large bowl, mix instant pudding, condensed milk and water until blended. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whip cream until peaks form. Fold all but about 3/4 cup whipped cream into pudding until there are no streaks of pudding. Then fold in wafers and sliced bananas.

banana pudding

Spoon into individual containers and top with whipped cream. Or spread into a large baking dish and top with remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate for several hours. Be sure to hide some at the back of the fridge for yourself for breakfast the following morning. Because all is fair in love and banana pudding.

homemade banana pudding

Nilla Wafers from Scratch

In Food, Recipes on November 3, 2013 at 8:09 pm

homemade nilla wafers

A couple weeks ago, my friend Kim shared her SPECTACULAR recipe for banana pudding. The recipe calls for Nilla Wafers—those classic cookies you’ll find in no-bake icebox cakes and banana cream pies or simply dipped in milk as a nostalgic treat. Since I’m on a personal challenge this month to reduce what I’m feeding my kids that’s from a box, I was curious to see how hard it was to make my own vanilla wafers. I found this recipe from Alton Brown, and it’s a snap. His recipe calls for vanilla sugar—click here for my quick vanilla sugar method—or if you don’t have any vanilla sugar on hand, use granulated sugar and slightly increase amount of vanilla extract used below. The cookies take about 10 minutes to prep, plus an additional 15 minutes to bake and are totally worth it.

Alton Brown’s Vanilla Wafers

7 ounces all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar
1 large egg
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whole milk

Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.

nilla wafer batter

Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 35 cookies per pan.

homemade nilla wafers

Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.

Vanilla Sugar

In Recipes on November 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm

vanilla sugar

If a recipe calls for scraping the seeds from a vanilla bean, don’t discard the pods. Instead, throw them into your sugar jar to make vanilla sugar. Bury the pods in organic cane sugar and let sit for a week or two before using. The sugar’s vanilla flavor is subtle, and I always keep some on hand for sprinkling over crostatas, dusting over frozen berries for a compote or sweetening whipped cream. While I take my coffee black or with a splash of whole milk, I’m told vanilla sugar is the bomb in a cup of morning joe!

vanilla beans

Pluot, Prosciutto and Arugula Salad

In Food, Recipes on August 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

plum prosciutto salad


My friend Mia can always be counted upon to bring the most inspired dish to dinner and to have discovered the most awesome vintage lighting fixtures at last week’s flea market. And so it’s no accident that her food is every bit as inspired as her design aesthetic. This gorgeous salad is classic Mia. Use a handful of your favorite peppery and bitter greens, like arugula and radicchio, and slice up some stone fruit and prosciutto and toss with honey vinaigrette. The sweetness of the fruit and honey temper the bitter and spice of the lettuces, and prosciutto adds a richness that ties it all together.

Pluot, Prosciutto and Arugula Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

Serves 4

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 small stone fruit, such as pluots, plums or nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced

8 cups mixed greens such as arugula, dandelion greens, radicchio

4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together first five ingredients. In a salad bowl, combine fruit, lettuces, prosciutto. Toss with dressing and serve.


Comfort Me with Chard Gratin

In Food, Recipes on June 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

swiss chard gratin

The other night I was at a dinner party with some old friends from the Los Angeles Times. If you follow politics, you have undoubtedly read the force that is Robin Abcarian. You don’t mess with Robin, you just don’t, and so when she told me that I needed to get back to work on this blog immediately, I got into gear right quick. We’ve had a challenging month in our home, during which time I did very little cooking. Our family was fed by incredibly generous friends and neighbors, to whom we will be forever grateful. When I did venture back into the kitchen last week, it was with a simple recipe from Nigel Slater’s Tender for a humble Red Chard Gratin. Comfort food at its best. It all starts with fresh, wilted red chard.

red chard gratin

The real surprise in this recipe is that the colorful stems are included. I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve always discarded the stems. Slater suggests boiling them for a couple minutes. It’s truly a revelation—the stems taste sweet and nutty and totally delicious. Next comes the cream mixture. As you’ll see from the top photo, the cream is mixed with a dollop of whole grain mustard for a bit of a kick, and then poured over chard. Finish by sprinkling with a handful of grated parm and stick into a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes or so.

chard gratin

For recipe, click HERE. I followed the recipe as written, however I recommend scaling back to 1 cup or 1 1/4 cups of cream or you will find yourself with a puddle of cream at the end. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing…

Orzo Salad with Lemon, Mint and Ricotta Salata

In Food, Recipes on April 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

lemon mint orzo


We’ve been up to our eyeballs in a bathroom remodel over here—more on that to come—but we’ve also found a little time to eat dinner, too. I’ve made this wonderfully light and refreshing orzo salad a couple times in the past few weeks. It’s great with grilled fish or roast chicken, and is an old favorite recipe from Dean and Deluca. I can just tell it’s going to be making the scene all summer.

Orzo Salad with Lemon, Mint and Ricotta Salata

From Dean and Deluca

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup very finely diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup very finely diced seedless cucumber
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (about 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves

Stir together the olive oil, shallots, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the orzo in a large kettle of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta completely in a colander, running under cold water. Transfer orzo to a bowl, stir in the olive oil mixture, and let cool. Stir in the bell pepper, cucumber, ricotta salata, and mint until combined well. You could serve the salad immediately, but we think it tastes best if you let it stand at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.