26 November 2010

How About a Little Trek, Since We’ve Had So Many Treats?

Sam promised he would plan a surprise hike for us last weekend, but I didn’t expect to be blindfolded and driven to the beach!  We started with a hearty breakfast (sorry, I had to sneak a treat in there somewhere!) at Champagne Bakery in Carmel Mountain Ranch, followed by my eyes being covered with a dark blue bandana as he drove for about 25 minutes toward the secret destination.  I was certain that we were heading toward Julian, or somewhere in the mountains, so I was so astonished to see the waves as we pulled up to Torrey Pines State Beach!  I cannot believe that I’ve lived here for nearly six years, have worked down the road from this site, and ran (er, shuffle-grunted) up its hill in the La Jolla Half-Marathon, but still had never hiked any of its gorgeous trails!  What a splendid morning by the lovely gal known as Mother Nature, working her magic in Southern California as always…

The Knave of Hearts Assuredly Would Have Stolen *This* Tart, & Maybe the Muffins, Too!

What does one make when hoping to give the lovely Thanksgiving gift of a baked good to one’s manfriend’s mother and vegan sister?  (Insert said ‘one’ dashing around, tugging on her blonde locks, trying to make this decision on Wednesday).  Well, with a multitude of sliced apples remaining from the classroom’s Grandparents’ Day festivities, an idea began to sparkle its way to the surface…how about some Carrot/Apple Muffins (vegan), and an Apple/Almond Tart (vegetarian)?!  Fantastico!

I’ll start with the tart, because it was:

a) absolutely divine

b) très facile! (very easy, my dears)

c) an opportunity to purchase my very first tart pan!  (Removable base superbly handy for serving!  Hurrah for Analon!)


Apple & Almond Custard Tart
(Everyday FOOD - Dec 2007)

-3/4c all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
-1/4t baking powder
-6T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
-1/2c sugar
-1 large egg
-1/2t pure almond extract

-4T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
-1/2c sugar
-1 large egg
-1 1/2t finely grated lemon zest and 1T fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
-3T all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
-1/2c heavy cream
-1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, & sliced 1/4" thick
-1/3c sliced, blanched almonds

1. Make crust: In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder; set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter & sugar until light and fluffy.  Ad egg and almond extract; beat until combined.  With mixer on low, add flour mixture; mix just until combined.

2.  Using an offset spatula or table knife, spread dough (it will be soft!) in a 9" removable-bottom tart pan, evenly covering bottom and sides.  Freeze for 20 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° and make filling: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter & 1/4c sugar until light & fluffy.  Add egg & lemon zest; mix until combined.  With mixer on low, add flour and then cream; mix just until smooth (do not overmix).  Set aside.

4.  In  medium bowl, toss apple with lemon juice; arrange evenly in tart pan over chilled dough.  Spread filling over apple; sprinkle with almonds and remaining 1/4c sugar.  Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until golden and set, 40-45 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield = 8 (or…3.  Leave 1/2 of the tart with manfriend’s mother, taste one lil’ piece, observe manfriend feasting repeatedly upon the tart for next day…)
(Source: Jo-Ann Zador, South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada)


Vegan Apple-Carrot ‘Apple Pie’ Muffins

The recipe can be found at this website.  The egg-subsitute, Ener-G, can be found at Henry’s, Sprouts, and Whole Foods.  It would be great for gluten-free diets, as well!  Before you try this recipe, please note the following alterations:  I did cut the salt in half (used only 3/4t) as well as the baking soda (used only 2t).  Additionally, I substituted 1/2c of whole wheat flour for 1/2c of white, and used a little less oil and about 1/2c more applesauce.  In hindsight, I would only add about 1/4c more applesauce, but increasing the oven temperature to 400° and cook time to about 30 minutes.  The insides will be gooey, but will firm up quite a bit overnight, or while cooling.   Mmmm!  They’re just like little apple-pie muffins! 

11 November 2010

Michigan-Marie Shares a Sweet-Peppery Delight!

Sometimes this California-transplanted gal finds life a little lonely with friends so far away.  However, I can often feel just a bit closer by enjoying tales of tasty treats savored by distant compadres.  Exhibit A: Couscous-Stuffed Peppers with Basil Sauce.  Since we couldn’t be with the Phillips fam in Michigan when they created this treat, Sam + I recreated it in our neck of the woods.  Thanks for the recipe, Marie!  Quote of the day, “Wow, Henry’s is proud of their crème fraiche,” solemnly stated by Sam after graciously picking up the groceries needed to create this lovely, savory, and filling delight.  Although a bit pricey, the crème fraiche provided the sauce with the perfect nutty twang.  If you do not have access to this ingredient, here are two additional substitutions for your next dish:  Crème fraiche substitute #1, or Nutty Twang substitute #2

Please, Miss, May I Have Some More?

Nov2010 033 Nov2010 024

If there is a poster-child for autumnal soups, perhaps it would be any variety created from Butternut squash.  We adapted M. Bittman’s recipe to make it a bit more veg-friendly (i.e. nixed the bacon and meaty broth).  This was my first foray into working with a raw Butternut squash, but found that my good vegetable peeler made quick and easy business of separating this tender treasure from its sturdy exterior.  Although we do not have a hand-held mixer, which many would feel is essential for soup-creation, we thoroughly enjoyed the hearty textures provided by spoon-crushing the roasted squash, apples, and onions against the heated sides of the stock-pot.  All at once rustic, buttery, comforting, and traditional, this soup made an ordinary evening feel like a holiday.  We recommend creating your own holiday around this soup – and toast it with a nice glass of dry white wine.  After all, you’ll have the rest of the bottle available after using just a smidge in the soup! Great pairing (and ingredient) = Pinot Grigio: Bela Sera ‘05, Maso Canali ‘08 or (Angela’s choice) Santa Margherita ‘09.

Roasted Butternut & Apple Chowder

1 small, Butternut squash (1 1/2-2 lbs.) peeled, seeded, + cubed
1 large onion
2 large apples; peeled, cored, + chopped
2T minced garlic
salt + pepper
3T olive oil
1T chopped fresh sage or 1t dried
1/2c dry, white wine
4-6c vegetable stock (to your preference)

-Preheat oven to 400°
-Spread squash, onion, apples, + garlic in a deep roasting-pan or baking sheet
-Sprinkle with salt + pepper; drizzle with oil
-Roast until all tender, about 45 minutes (stir occasionally)
-Remove roasting pan from the oven
-Stir in sage + white wine; scrape up all of the browned (yummy) bits from the bottom and include in the mixture
-Transfer the contents of the pan to a large pot or Dutch oven + set it over medium heat
-Add stock + cook until squash, onion, + apples break apart/thicken/flavor the broth (about 25 minutes).  Use the back of a spoon, or handheld blender to break up the mixture.

Yield = 4-6

07 November 2010

“She’s choppin’ broccoli[ni]!”

Let’s reminisce for a moment, to bygone days of exceptional SNL casts.  Good casts have come and go in phases but, for the sake of today’s treat, I’d like to take a moment to remind you of Dana Carvey singing, 'The Lady I Know.'  Alright, here’s another…just for the sake of the memories.

You may already have recognized our budding obsession with all things ‘galette.’  Did you know that there’s a French children’s song about this tasty pastry?  “J’aime la galette, savez-vous comment? Quand elle est bien faite, avec du beurre dedans.” (“I like galette, do you know how? When it is made well, with butter inside.”)  Mmmm…there’s truly a lack of butter-themed songs in the world.  *Sigh*

At any rate, we discovered a recipe in the most recent edition of Everyday Food – the only culinary mag to which we subscribe.  Scandalous?  Perhaps.  Our adaptations included bread crumbs in the center, prior to adding the filling.  New culinary technique for Sam: blanching.  Not to be confused with this, of course.

Broccolini & Feta Galette

2c all-purpose flour
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt & ground pepper
2 bunches broccolini (1 lb.)
1/4c grated Parmesan (we used Asiago)
2/3c crumbled Feta (we used 4oz.)
4T bread crumbs
1/4t red-pepper flakes
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Combine flour, oil, 1t salt, and 1/3 cup ice water (add it by the T until you have a stiff dough).  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 30mins.
2.  Preheat oven to 400° with rack in the lower third. 
3.  Blanch broccolini in a large pot of boiling, salted water (until it turns bright green).  Remove with tongs, and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
4.  Roll out dough to 1/4" thick, approximately 14" round (doesn't have to be perfect).  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet or pizza stone.
5. Sprinkle dough with Asiago/Parmesan and top with Broccolini leaving a 2 1/2" border.  Top with feta and red-pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper.  Fold dough border over filling and brush with egg.
6.  Bake until crust is golden brown, 35-40 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield = 6-8

01 November 2010

Happy Halloween! (part the second: Pumpkin Cookies!)

Every once in a while, I get a little nostalgic about making treats from my mom’s recipe box.  These little, cloud-like pumpkin delights are every ounce autumn yumminess.  I decided to make the icing for just half of the batch, and realized…”Hey, my mom never made this icing!”  After getting over the feeling of being slighted, missing out on this homemade caramel-maple-esque glaze in lieu of its cream cheese frosting cousin, we decided this was just enough sweetness to turn this cookie from a sleeper to, “Jazz hands!”  Bonus points for using our new housewarming gift to ourselves: sassy Melamine mixing bowls!


1c sugar
1c shortening
1c pumpkin
1 egg
1t vanilla
1t baking powder
2c flour
1/2t baking soda
1t cinnamon
1/2t salt
1/2t nutmeg
1c raisins (optional) – we opted out
1/2c nuts (optional) – we used walnuts


Preheat oven to 350°, line two cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

Cream together shortening and sugar.  Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and beat well.

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, then stir in optional raisins and nuts.   Place on cookie sheets by the tablespoon, or use a fancy-shmancy cookie scoop to keep the size uniform.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until puffy, delightful, and as golden brown as the newly-fallen leaves in Julian pie country.  (Sorry, got a little carried away).


3T butter
4t milk
3/4t vanilla
1/2c brown sugar
1c powdered sugar


Cook butter, brown sugar, and milk to boiling point.  Cool, and add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Drizzle over cookies and allow to cool.  Share with your most favorite of companions.

Yield = 2 dozen

31 October 2010

Happy Halloween! (part the first)

Halloween2010 004I couldn’t wait to post our first treat creation of the day…baked apples!  So simple, just core a couple of apples, fill them with a sweet blend of (1T) brown sugar, (1t) nutmeg, and (1t) cinnamon and a dollop of Brummel + Brown.  These tasty lil’ guys roasted at 350° for 40 minutes, and made the house smell of all things autumn-tastic!  Sam suggested the addition of chopped walnuts as well.  More treats to come later, as baking offers a bit of Zen amidst the report-card writing that will consume the remainder of the day!

03 October 2010

Foods That Start with the Letter ‘Z’

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Zingers.  Zagnut.  Ziti.  Zatar.  Zucchini.  Ah, zucchini.  The golden child of the squash family, due to its versatility.  With the heat-wave passing in central San Diego, we felt the need to sing a torch song to this blessed vegetable by baking it up into the old standby, ZUCCHINI BREAD!

As a frequent baker, one would assume I had all-purpose flour in the pantry.  Well, I assumed that myself, and we all know the dangers of assuming.  It makes an…well, let’s just say I was lucky to have had a big old bag of whole-wheat flour instead.  Please note that, while the bread did appear ever so slightly drier than usual (just merely), the nature of the whole-wheat flour gave a heartier flair to this quickbread.  I’d use it again, perhaps adding just 1/8c more of zucchini or increase the oil by 2-3t.  Otherwise, yum!

Namaste, Saturday.

Let’s just say that any location near Miramar Road is not the place you wish to include on your errand list on the day of the Air Show.  However, with Whole Foods bereft of paneer and fenugreek (methi) leaves, we had no choice but to venture the way of the traffic jam in order to obtain our necessary ingredients for Saag Paneer and Aloo Gobi. 

Half way down the road, Sam made a quick jaunt down a side street where we saw a sign for Annapurna Indian Cafe.  A-ha!  After convincing him to pull over so I might attempt to persuade the restauranteurs to sell me 14oz of paneer and a handful of fenugreek, I returned to the car with one block of *free* paneer!  The price?  Only a quick bat of the lashes and a friendly smile.  What kindness!  Please go there, eat a lot, and smile at the owners as a thank you from us.

With just one more item to obtain, we took the back roads up to Black Mountain Road to the gem of a grocery store, Bombay Bazaar.  This place is *amazing*, to say the least.  I don’t head up there but once a year to purchase items for the third grade India unit, so this was a rare treat.  We found a stalk (?) of fenugreek/methi, and also picked up a box of ready-to-heat samosas…or so we thought.  It may seem like cheating, but we thought making two Indian entrees and rice from scratch was enough.  Unfortunately, the samosas were ready-to-FRY…and please note that this means baking them will not provide the same result.  That is, unless they were meant to have the consistency of potato-filled phyllo dough bricks.

This was our second go-around with the recipes from the book, World Food Cafe: Global Vegetarian Cooking.  This cookbook was a Christmas gift from my dear friend, Marie, in 2004.  These recipes are so easy to execute and offer a diverse assortment of cuisines for a plethora of palates.  Highly recommended. 

With autumn upon us, the pumpkin ale was a nice supplement to this meal.  Likewise, the pumpkin soup (Ecuador) recipe from this cookbook is quite tempting…

01 August 2010

Tostada Time!


Have you heard of the book, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman?  Any book that over-simplifies love and all that it entails could be trite, but this one often helps to put things in perspective. 

BLOG READER:  What the heck does this have to do with food, oh great blogger of all things yummy?

TREK OR TREATS:  Grasshopp-uh;  you should know by now that kitchen ninjas, such as yourselves, can activate all 5 love languages at once: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, & receiving gifts.

BLOG READER:  Sensei, you digress.

I have to say that, for me, to create is to show love.  Likewise, when someone creates something especially for me – I feel the love.  From macaroni necklaces fashioned by former students - to this tasty tostada creation assembled for me by my darlin’ – that’s feeling the love right there.  Side note – he is a master of the mise en place.

I’d love to know with what love language you identify! Take this quiz to find out, and feel free to share your findings.

12 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison – The Fourth Feast

Fresh Fig & Honey Galette (p.696)

My mother is the true pastry gal, as I barely claim to partake in the cake arts.  My grandmother used to say that you could only be a master of pies or cakes, but not both.  I grew up cheerfully volunteering to run out to our backyard to pick tart cherries, gooseberries, blackberries, apples, or (huzzah!) rhubarb, or strawberries – knowing that a warm, gooey, juicy pie would exist on the other end of that chore.  After making my first cakes in college, I thought my fate was sealed: I would be a cake girl, never to know the ways of the pastry life.

Fresh figs have made their annual, albeit brief, arrival in San Diego!  In honor of my father’s birthday, I decided to create this galette using some of Big J.B.’s famous Texas honey from the family farm! 

Maybe I redeemed myself in Pastryland this weekend, maybe not.  This was as beautiful as it was delicious, and I owe many thanks to Sam for grinding the anise seed by hand in my small (but mighty) mortar and pestle.  Sometimes I like to think of him as my ‘chef de partie’, but he deserves a better title and role.  Maybe the ‘chef d'hilarité beau’ is more appropriate!

Side note:  I’m starting to feel like Julie Powell a la The Julie & Julia Project, made famous by Meryl Streep and Amy Adams last year.  However…I would (gladly and ambitiously) rather conquer Madison’s 724 pages of vegetarian goodness than brave a chapter on aspics by the glorious Julia Child (may she rest in peace).

10 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison – Part the Third

Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Coconut Rice (p.601)

I’m finding that this cookbook is quickly surpassing my loyalty to Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook due to Deborah Madison’s accessible ingredients, process, and über-tasty results.  Hey, isn’t that what really counts?

The next time I decide to go out for Thai food, I’ll really consider making this again to appease my taste buds’ desire for a little pizzazz and sweetness.  (Sorry – the photos don’t do it justice *at all*). 

At any rate, everything except the coconut milk, anise, and cloves were in my pantry – just waiting to be celebrated in the perfect dish. 

I would like to think that Eric Northman would have enjoyed it as well. 

09 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison – Part Deux

Another Mushroom Pizza

The title is not derogatory, folks – it was titled by this weekend’s ‘Deity of Dough’ (pizza & tart) and ‘Vixen of Vegetables.’  Now that I’m all out of monikers, on to the real treat:  the pizza!

I gave myself a little break (I hear you crying out, “Cheater! Cheater!” already) by obtaining some refrigerated herb dough from Trader Joe’s, and focused on the filling.  Procuring one pound of tasty mushrooms, such as shiitake and oyster, sauté them in olive oil with garlic, grape tomatoes and onions, as well as some thyme and red wine vinegar.  Fontina and parmesan cheesified the top of Madison’s (p.514) AMAZING pie.  I don’t know how I’ll ever top this for Sam; I think he is hoping to see this treat on many a future dinner plate!  Thank heavens for leftovers…

05 July 2010

All Hail Deborah Madison! – Part One

Please don’t mistake one for the other:

Dolley Madison = The First Lady of Fashion

Deborah Madison = Goddess of Vegetarian Cooking

We have spent the past couple of weekends in homage to the latter of the two, after I finally procured a gently used (but autographed!) copy of Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  May I also mention that, somehow, most of this weekend’s treats were divined by the grace of my infrequently used food processor.quesa2

The first recipe choice was the Quesadilla with Smoky Black Bean Spread (p.123) & Salsa, including the Black Bean-Smoked Chile Dip (p. 98) .  Who knew that San Diego’s version of the grilled cheese sandwich could be a little fancy pants?!  It could be made with staples that you should already have in your pantry:quesa1

  • black beans
  • coriander
  • cayenne
  • cumin
  • salt
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime 

This little ditty of a dip is spread on corn tortillas, then topped with scallions, queso fresco (or goat cheese), a serrano chile, some additional cilantro and some fresh salsa.  After topping with another tortilla, the quesadilla is toasted (er, lightly fried) in a buttered skillet.  Served with the guacamole mentioned in a previous blog entry, and….oh my.  Just enough of a kick to keep us tuned into the Padres action and True Blood’s sassiness.  Delicioso!!

04 July 2010

Roasted Pasilla/Poblano Guacamole

Adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexico, One Plate at a Time

Happy Independence Day, folks! For this holiday, Sam and I chose to play in the kitchen while watching the Padres play some ball, followed by a little True Blood.

As Sam is Guacamole's (yes, with a capital 'G') biggest fan, we decided to make a very special variety -- roasting the peppers and tomatoes under the broiler and then blending them with garlic in the food processor.  The (adapted) recipe is included below!

Side note: the Black Bean Quesadillas and Boca Negra cake are the other creations in progress right now...with the bourbon cream currently chilling in the refrigerator.  Details to come...


Roasted Pasilla Guacamole

2 medium, fresh, poblano chiles

2 small, tomatoes

2 cloves, roasted garlic

3T cilantro, chopped

3 large avocados (I love California for its readily-available HASS avocados!)

2T fresh lime juice

1 jalapeño (to your preferred heat level)

-Lay the large peppers and tomatoes on a aluminum, baking sheet and broil for about 10-12 minutes until they blister and become blackened a bit.  Then, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a towel (the steam will soften the skin and make it a bit easier to remove).  After about five minutes, remove the stem, seeds and skin.  Although I've heard that it's easier to use a damp paper towel to remove the skin...fingers worked much more efficiently.

-Toss the skinned (?) peppers into the food processor with the garlic and pulse briefly.

-Coarsely chop the tomatoes and mince the jalapeño.  Add to the peppers, but do not process

-Pit the avocados and remove the flesh with a spoon.  Mash with the back of the spoon or a potato masher.

-Add the pepper/tomato/garlic mixture to the avocados.  Juice half of a lime over this green gorgeousness, then add the cilantro and salt (to taste), and blend.  Taste, and add additional lime juice and salt to taste.

-Serves 1-2 hungry guacamole fans over the course of a couple snacks and a meal.  Happy Fourth of July!

03 July 2010

Loving Hut

North Park/University Heights - San Diego, CA

Let me start by saying that Jyoti Bihanga has been my absolute favoritest of the favorite spots for a hearty, comfort-food meal since moving to Sandy Eggo five years ago. It has become a tradition for my pre-race, carb-loading dinners:feasting on the Infinite Blue (veggies, tofu, brown rice with tamari dressing) or PLB (Peace, Light, & Bliss) Burger; the iced Nirvana Tea never fails to quench my thirst. They’re known for an entirely vegetarian/vegan menu, but Loving Hut may be the newest discovery for meatless choices, choices, choices!

Back to Loving Hut, evidently an international chain; one would not necessarily expect such a contemporary culinary treasure to be hiding out in a strip mall on El Cajon Boulevard, adjacent to a Laundromat, Subway, and Domino’s Pizza. However, Jenna had recommended this for many a moon, so we decided to check it out after experiencing the entertaining, frequently shirtless, teen-angst-fest flick, Eclipse. Yum, yum, yum! The food, not the flick.

We started with the Summer Rolls, which lived up to their moniker - both light, crisp, and cheery. Well, maybe not the latter of the three. It’s no secret that I love surprises, and frequently ask servers to pick between choices for me; allowing them to use their (hopefully) thorough knowledge of the establishment’s ‘best’ so my selections aren’t always a gastronomic shot in the dark. We couldn’t help but be humored by the response our server gave when I asked for him to assist with the decision between the Yum Yum Wontons Soup or Lemon Grass Soy-Chicken for an entree and Mango Tango or Peaceful Pink smoothie. “Um, it depends what you like. They’re two different things. One is mango, one is cranberry.” I asked which was better, and he looked extremely puzzled. “Like I said, one is mango and one is cranberry. They’re just different.” When I probed a bit further for input on the entree, “One is soup and one has rice.” Again, I asked which was better; which he would recommend for my first Loving Hut meal. “They are different. Do you want soup or rice?” Loved it, Loving Hut.

I decided I liked mangos and also rice. So, that’s what I got - and both were soooo delicious. Sam had the Delight Broccoli (sautéed veggies and tofu on brown rice) with the Compassion Orange libation. (Us:”Why is it called the ‘Compassion Orange?” — Server: “Um, it is compassionate, I guess. No meat?”)

We’ll head back, maybe not for the oddly feathery, soy chicken (where did the feathery/hairy bits come from?) but definitely to try something else or enjoy one of the other delights one of us shared. I am dying to taste the vegan carrot cake!! Loving, loving, loving the Loving Hut!

02 July 2010

Indigo Grill – Date Night!


Date night on Friday meant joining Sam for dinner at a fave San Diego spot –Indigo Grill– for one of my fave, go-to vegetarian dishes, ‘Good Things Growing.’  Unfortunately, part of the ambiance is the dimly lit interior, so I couldn’t get a photo. :(
We started with the Stacked Beet Salad (orange segments, shaved fennel, lime-caraway dressing & dried beet chips) and the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup flavored with cilantro pesto, roasted corn, beet puree, creme fraiche. The delicate, white sangria was a perfectly mellow accompaniment to the salad and the entree to come…’Good Things Growing.’
If you are ever looking for a warm, savory dish with a variety of flavors, then quickly ‘trolley’ yourself down to Little Italy, my friend!  The presentation is gorgeous, celebrating the earthy sampler of Indian corn pudding, baked whole butternut squash with bourbon-pecan butter, caramelized plantain, honey roasted garlic, chile relleno, flatbread, pipan tofu with mole negro.  My fork couldn’t help but repeatedly dive into the corn pudding and tofu…chased with the mole and chile relleno.
Dessert?  I had picked up a slice of Irish Cream Cake from
Heaven Sent Desserts earlier in the day, to follow a chilly little walk on the Bay.  Hurrah for date night!

24 June 2010

North Park Farmers Market


The market was hopping today!  I like heading over there before the after-work rush, when the produce is buffed and begging you to take it home!  Eclipse Chocolat (sic) was there today, and the ‘usuals’ as well.  I couldn’t leave without a small bouquet of Gerbera daisies, a couple of pints of freshly pressed apple cider, some pluots, macaroons, and a chocolate croissant.  Oh, and some fresh ceviche for a post-yoga brunch tomorrow.

17 June 2010

Pine Street Bakery

Edgewood, Texas

It's no secret, this is a must stop on any visit to the family farm.  Jennifer is a self-taught culinary delight, and her quiches and all baked goods never fail to make any visit superb!  I'm not quite sure what was in her *amazing* chocolate cake, but it inspired me to bake one for this upcoming weekend.  Stay tuned...

15 June 2010

Graham's Produce Stand

Edgewood, TX

Every time I stop by this little wonder on a visit to east Texas, I'm greeted by the staff and a taste of some freshly cut watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, or other Texas-grown produce.  Delightful!  They even have their own pecan sheller, a handy service for those who have tidied their yard under a Paper-Shell tree.  My first taste of a Dublin Dr. Pepper was had on this visit.  Made with real cane sugar, it is a rare find.  Well, until it was discovered at my favorite pizza place upon returning to San Diego!

24 May 2010

LOST – Finale Dinner!

I just started watching LOST (thank you, streaming NetFlix!) this spring.  Yes, I’m often behind the times…

As Sam is a big fan, I decided to make a post-finale LOST dinner for him, featuring my yummy vegetarian chili (recipe below) renamed ‘Smoke Monster Chili’ for the event.  Thanks to printing labels from this site, the tomatoes and beer seemed to originate from the Dharma Initiative itself!

Smoke Monster Chili


  • 2T Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored/seeded/diced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, minced (Taste + check the heat of the jalapeños before adding both.)
  • 1 28oz can tomatoes (low-sodium), chopped + including liquid
  • 1T ground cumin
  • 1-2T chili powder
  • 2t dried oregano (or 2T fresh, chopped)
  • 1t fennel seeds
  • 1 15oz can black beans (low-sodium), drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans (low-sodium), drained and rinsed
  • 3T lemon juice + zest of one lemon
  • 1/2c red wine (remember, if you wouldn’t drink it - don’t cook with it!)
  • 1t sugar
  • 1/3c chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste

Order of Operations 1 In a large stock pot (not kidding - it would make enough to feed 10 Hurleys!), heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 4mins. Add the garlic + cook about a minute more. Add the bell pepper, zucchini, and jalapeños. Cook about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Add the tomatoes with any liquid that may have been in the can. Add oregano, cumin, + fennel seeds. Add chili powder to desired heat. Simmer for 20 minutes over low.

3 Add all of the beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, + cilantro. Add salt + freshly ground pepper to taste. Simmer 5 mins.

Serve with any combo of sliced avocados, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, + chopped green onions.

Serves: Hurley, Jack, Kate, Locke, Sayid, Charlie, Sun…you get the idea.

18 May 2010

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Cake inspired by the book by Eric Carle

Created for the Lower School faculty birthday celebration in May.

The fondant was tinted by hand, resulting in a marbled, red color.  All other details were created in fondant as well, covering chopsticks for antennae and then painting toothpicks for the bristles on the caterpillar's back.  This was probably one of my quickest cake-creations, because report cards were due that week!

06 May 2010

Hike, Brew, Feast

After a hike up to Lake Ramona at the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, we headed over to Stone Brewery for a tour...only to realize that a zillion other San Diegans had the same idea. The tour would have to wait for another day, so off to the bar for some macaroni & [beer] cheese and a taste of some fine brews. My favorite from the 30+ unmarked taps: Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, and a bottle of Fox Barrel Cider. With a taste of the Imperial Russian Stout, an epiphany was had...why not create our own mac n' beer n' cheese? Here is the recipe, with Guinness Draught used. Mmmmm!

09 April 2010

Godfather & Cannolis


"Leave the gun. Take the cannolis." 

I have never seen 'The Godfather.' (Gasp) Enter Sam and a copy of this classic film, with a promise from me to make a fabulous Italian dinner, complete with fresh cannolis. I headed to the Hillcrest Farmer's Market to pick up fresh, garlic-basil fettucini and walnut pesto from the divine owner of Lisko Imports to cook as a main course, and asked him if he knew where I could find cannoli shells. "How many do you want? I'll bring them by your house when I'm in the neighborhood tomorrow morning; my treat." Free cannoli shells!? Whoa. Sure enough eighteen, lovely, golden, crisp cannoli shells were left in a bag on my porch the next morning. Michael Chiarello’s recipe was used to craft the dessert as a tribute to The Godfather. Loved the film, loved the cannolis, will need to top this for The Godfather II. Any suggestions?

21 March 2010

Baby Shower Cupcakes – Groovy Owls!


jenna_cake_cupcakes T & J are two of the sweetest people I know in Sandy Eggo, and everyone was so jazzed as they prepared to welcome their new baby, Maya, into the world with a shower at Kate Sessions Park. 

It was my first visit to the park, and Chauncey, Sam, & I were digging the ocean views and kite-flying breezes!  The theme was inspired by ‘Bumpto’s’ nursery design: owls!  All of the embellishments were created out of fondant, except the sugar eyes which were created by the lovelies at Do It With Icing.  Between the two of us, Sam and I created somewhat of an assembly line to make a plethora of owls and details for the cupcakes and cake.