Monday, September 29, 2008

Carr Valley Billy Blue

I was looking for a blue cheese to go along with my figs and arugula in the salad below. I wanted something a little bold to kick up the subtle fleshy figs I found for my salad.

The dude at my cheese shop recommended a great goat's milk blue called Carr Valley Billy Blue. It was brilliant!

The goat's milk cheese part is pretty classically chevre with its crumbling, mild, almost sweet white creaminess. The blue is salty, bold, and sharp. This cheese is aged four months and is made from the milk of pasture-raised goats.

This cheese comes from a maker in Wisconsin that has been making cheese for like 100 years and wins a bunch of awards all the time.

Can't wait to try this one in some other ways!

Fall Figs

Before we talk recipes--let me just tell you that figs are a lot of fun. They really truly are the sexual deviants of the fruit world.
Figs are actually a bunch of flower seeds that are "born" on the inside of the fruit. They grow inwards and never get to bloom.

There are caprifigs and edible figs. The first are ghastly and not usually consumed by humans. They are basically there to trick female wasps. Ok--so wasps are what help pollinate figs. So the male wasp is born inside of the caprifig and never leaves. The female gets restless and heads out to find other suitable places to check out. The edible figs have no male pollen--so as the female wasp searches for a female flower--she can not find it. While searching, she leaves behind some pollen and thusly pollinates the edible fig plant. it's pretty kinky I guess if you are a botanist.

Figs are thought to be from Syria. The Greeks associated figs with fertility, and Cleopatra is said to haved loved their delicate fleshy meat. Figs are best when grown in the Mediterranean. The most local we can get is California typically due to weather and wasp needs.

Selecting figs:
-they should be ripe when picked
-touch them; they should give a little and definitely not be firm
-they aren't very pretty to look at so get over it

So--figs are in season. Let's get cooking!

Fig, Arugula, and Blue Cheese Salad
Sometimes I like to just build a salad on the plate when it is just one or two people eating. This is a perfect salad to do that with--plate your arugula and build on top.

1. Figs; sliced into quarters or 1/8ths
2. Baby Arugula
3. Pancetta; sauteed in a pan to be crispy
4. Blue or Gorgonzola Cheese; I used Carr Valley's Billy Blue--a goat's milk blue (more later)
5. Walnuts
6. Blood Orange Vinaigrette (juice of 1 blood orange--measure this and combine with 3x extra virgin olive oil)
7. Fresh Black Pepper

What to do:
1. Once everything is prepared as above, assemble on a plate
2. Drizzle with dressing or before adding cheese toss with dressing--then add cheese

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Zucchini-Orange Marmalade Tea Muffins

So, I was wanting to do something with carrots or Zucchini, sugar, and flour. I called into Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer on Sirius Satellite Radio to ask Alexis Stewart (she bakes a lot) if she had a favorite carrot recipe. She suggested this great Zucchini-Orange Marmalade Tea Cake from Tartine in San Francisco. Tartine is a this really amazing bakery at the corner of 18th and Guerrero near the Mission in SFO. It is a really great spot for brunch--but be ready to wait if you aren't among the first to arrive when they open. Their baking book has a lot of amazing treats that are surprisingly simple to put together. It is a great read and a beautiful book.

The recipe is for a tea cake--but since I am taking these babies to work I thought muffins were more friendly. This option significantly cuts down on cooking time. Mine took closer to 33 minutes. Yes, 33.

For the marmalade in the recipe, I found some wicked organic orange marmalade at WFM called "Mediterranean Sun." They grow the fruit in the Mediterranean--not sure if that makes them better but it sure is slightly more wicked to list Mediterranean fruit as an ingredient, right? I also saw some marmalade made from three fruits. I think that would taste really brilliant as well. I am thinking you could use apricot, lemon, or peach as well. Could be rad to test them all out one weekend.

Here's the noshworthy version of the Tartine recipe:

Zucchini-Citrus Marmalade Tea Cake/Muffins

Two Mixing Bowls and Mixing Tools (spoons, etc)
Measuring Tools
Baking Pan (either a 9x5 "meatloaf" pan or cupcake pan)
Knife--for chopping walnuts

1. 1 3/4 cup + 2 TBSP All-Purpose Flour
2. 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3. 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
4. 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
5. 2 Large Eggs
6. 1/2 cup + 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil (I used Sunflower Oil)
7. 3/4 cup Sugar
8. 1/2 cup Orange Marmalade (see header notes about other options)
9. 2 1/2 cups grated Zucchini (try to use the smallest option possible--but not "zest". You get about a cup from an average-sized Zucchini)
10. 1/2 tsp Salt
11. 1 cup Toasted Chopped Walnuts (toss them in a pan on your stove for a few minutes to lightly toast)
12. 2 TBSP Sugar

Warming Up:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)
Oil and flour the pan (unless making muffins)

What To Do Now:

A. Sift together # 1, 2, 3, 4 and set aside in a mixing bowl
B. Beat # 5, 6, 7, 8 until combined
C. To C, add#9, 10
D. Add # 3 to wet mix slowly to avoid clumps and mix until combined
E. Add # 11 and mix until combined
F. Pour mix into pan
G. Sprinkle top with # 12
H. Bake 60-70 minutes for cake; bake 33 minutes for muffins (always check with toothpick for doneness--should come out clean)
I. Cool on a rack.
J. Eat and share.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quick Herby Tofu

Okay. This one is for RyMo. A quick and easy dinner for a sinle Angeleno. Lemon, herbs, and tofu is a pretty classic nosh. Stick to these dried herbs if they sound good or venture beyond if you want. No rules as long as you are putting stuff you love in this dish. Awesome served over a bowl of quinoa. Also, delicious with some steamed brocolli.

1. 4 tbsp lemon juice (probably equal to one large lemon or two medium; give 'em some rough love by rubbing them around the counter to get the "juices flowing")
2. 2 tbsp soy
3. 2.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4. 1.5 tsp dried oregano or rosemary
5. 1 tsp dried thyme
6. 1⁄2 tsp dried basil or garlic powder
7. 1⁄2 tsp honey, maple syrup, agave
8. salt and pepper to taste
9. Extra Firm Tofu (put onto a plate with tall walls--place something heavy, and sanitary, on top to drain some liquid off; drain the liquid; cut into 5 even slices)

A. Preheat oven to 375°F
B. In a baking dish, mix 1-8 until it looks like a nice even dressing.
C. Add #8 and toss around to blend.
D. Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes.
E. Turn it over and bake uncovered for 15 more minutes.
F. Most of the liquid should be gone. If not, turn and coat again bake a few more minutes. If the liquid is gone, then you are golden.
G. Let it cool for a minute. Toss it on top of some quinoa, alongside some steamed veg, or just start munching.

Quick Quinoa

1. Add two cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa.
2. Bring to boil.
3. Turn down heat to low-medium and cover.
4. Continue like this until all the water is gone.
5. Top it with tofu and nosh.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Malbec has long been the big, bold, fruity, and delish wine of South America's sleeping giant, Argentina. It is in your face, unapologetic and pairs well with lots of things--not surprisingly, Argentina's Pampas raised beef. But there is a another great wine being made in Argentina. Okay, actually two. Bonardo--we will discuss later. Today, my wine loving friends, is all about the white prince.

Torrontes is a white wine thought to be connected to the Malvasia grape group. Probably brought over by Spaniards like a lot of other delicious food and drink. Oddly enough, in Chile it is used to make Pisco. Other than that, it is pretty distinctively Argentine.

Torrontes is somewhat similar to to Viognier in that it is aromatic, somewhat floral, and a bit fruity-sweet with a nice acidic finish. While I can enjoy Torrontes on it's own, it also is pretty delish with Thai food, smoky meats, and grilled veg. In fact, tonight we enjoyed a bottle of moderately-priced bottle with some grilled veg, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and tingly chimichurri.

One of my favorite things about Argentine wine is the wicked great price. You can enjoy a $15- $20 bottle that rivals a French or California bottle at three times the price, or a Spanish or Italian bottle at two times the price.

If you are looking for a fun, new white to bring to a "end of summer" party, you gotta wow your friends with some Torrontes.

Determination and Veggie Burgers

So I last night I started making a pretty involved veggie burger. Now, there are easy veggie burgers that are simple and clean. There are store-bought veggie burgers that are disgusting and full of chemicals. And then there are the type of veggie burgers I like--lots of delish veg, seasonings, and flavor.

Last night, I started making one out of black beans, sweet potatoes, Incan Red Quinoa, some Chilean spice (Mapuche--soooo delish and smoky and spicy), and lots of other sauteed veg. So, I had NONE of this ready to go. So I started with the quinoa (my favorite varietal). Then worked on the sweet potatoes by boiling them--quick, but not as sweet tasting. Then the beans and veg. I got all that done and decided to refrigerate overnight.

Now, I am looking at a bowl of mix--which needs some bread crumbs. I have these really delish ones made from actual whole grains. Mix that together. Coat with some cornmeal. Perfection.

Okay. I just spell checked this. This thing didn't recognize Incan or Quinoa. What????!?!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


On Sunday, I was feeling the need for crunch so I made a red cabbage asian-esque slaw/salad with apples and a bunch of yummy veg. But I was left with a bag of local apples, half of a yellow onion, and half of the head of red cabbage. Tonight being a cool and autumnal evening, I decided to braise some cabbage.

Yummy Fall Braised Cabbage

1. 1/2 head of red cabbage; chopped unevenly into 1/2" chunks
2. 1/2 yellow onion; diced into little pieces
3. 1/2 TBLS fennel seed
4. 2 tennis ball-sized apples; diced into little chunks
5. 1/4 cup balsamic
6. 1 TBLS brown sugar
7. Salt (start with 1/2 TBLS)

A. Heat up a pan
B. Add olive oil
C. Sauté 2 and 3 until onions are translucent
D. Add 4 and cook for about 30 seconds
E. Add 1 and allow to soften; stir
F. With heat still on med high, add 5, 6, and 7; stir
G. Once 5 has started to bubble slightly, turn down heat, cover, and let sit for about 1 hour
H. It's done when the cabbage is nice and sticky and most of 5 has cooked off

Other stuff:
1. Add some chunks of goat cheese at service
2. Would be good with pork if you are into that kind of thing
3. Toss in 1/4 cup of red wine at step F if you happen to be drinking some while cooking--and why wouldn't you be?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Burgers and Ketchup--why would you think those go together?

So last night Ry and I walked down (or up depending on your preference) Sunset Blvd.

We were starving and decided on this cool, trendy little joint called Ketchup--which Ry thought was known for having really cool burgers. We read the menu outside and decided it indeed had yummy burgers. So we went in and had to sent in the bar/lounge because we didn't have reservations. It was super awesome. White leather couches, really cool lighting, second floor window seats overlooking Sunset. Hip red and white interior.

The scantily dressed server finally brought us menus--we honestly sat doubting our self-worth as diners for 10 minutes. Where we cool enough to dine at KETCHUP? Did we have the right haircuts? Shoes? Jeans? Teeth? We peruse the menus and decide that the burgers we saw downstairs on the menu are missing. We ask the server and she says " We don't serve burgers. Everyone always thinks that is weird since we are called Ketchup." Hmmm... or maybe because they read the menu downstairs? Could be that too. Just saying.

Ry and I dined on delicous apps decided we might be crazy. Had some amazing drinks made from a new Acai liquor that was seriously serving up some heaven in a bottle.

On the way out, guess what we saw? BURGERS! At least on the menu at the door. Our server was crazy.


So, I took a short holiday from my early morning muffin baking in the Silicon Valley to head down to the Valley of Silicone. I am here in LA visiting my friend, Ry, in her WeHO abode.

LA is lovely. I forgot how much I loved being in awesome weather with beautiful people who were amazing jeans!

I love when you remember things about yourself and relationships that are essentially quintessential to the essence of yourself or that relationship. For example, I forgot how much fun Ry and I have doing completely random things--like sit outside the Chateau Marmont and chat about everything and nothing.

Today we had an amazing lunch at Pizzeria Mozza--Mario Batali's cool little pizza/wine bar. After that we shipped off the Fred Segal to see the big 50% off sale--which was less than overwhelming. Although, we did see Jeremy Piven--whom is the biggest star we have seen thus far. Ry has this amazing capacity for picking out the most obscure actors from obscure rolls in movies I actually do remember.

Maybe tomorrow we will see a big celeb--at the book fair.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fumbling Towards Perfection

I mean aren't we all really?

"They" tell us--and we spout back in return--that perfection isn't attainable and how we should all be happy being real. Screw that. If we wanted real, we wouldn't watch TV, subscribe to insance magazines, or join pricey gyms in the quest of the perfect body.

I found myself listening to music leaning on the bathroom sinking and picking myself apart today. Why? Who cares? and better yet--what am I doing about those things? I wasn't working out. I didn't not eat the cookie earlier.

Ahh... life.