Tuesday, August 25, 2009


So I was just reading about balut. Hmmmm. I hate to be judgmental when it comes to world foods, as many of the delicacies in the world, especially third world countries, came from necessity, but this sort of turns my stomach. Balut is a duck egg that carries a fertilized duck in it, somewhere between 17 and 20 weeks in gestation. This means that inside the innocuous looking egg is a duck, or chicken at times, that is about to hatch. The eggs are then boiled and served with salt, pepper and vinegar. They are supposedly so popular in the Philipines that they have been equated to the American hot dog. Now, I am not one who is going to go to great lengths to defend the hot dog. It is essentially lips and assholes and that is not in any way better than eating a baby duck in one foul swoop. But the grinding of the meat, and perhaps the addition of ketchup and relish if you so choose, make this a much more palatable choice for us squeamish Americans.

I mean what could the texture of this creature (it really is a creature, it looks like something you might find in the Black Lagoon) possibly be? Is it slimy and crunchy all at the same time? Mushy and buttery? I imagine things would squirt into your mouth and throat when taking a bite. On Wikipedia they say they are commonly served with beer. I am going to have to start drinking beer right now and not let up if I am going to taste these. They have called them feathered eggs as well because, well, there could possibly be feathers involved. I am actually scowling as I write this. Well now I am laughing because I'm thinking about what my face must have just looked like. Even Chris Cosentino of Incanto and offal fame has said he can't eat it. One writer called it the culinary Heart of Darkness. I think Joseph Conrad would agree. I sort of feel like it is the equivalent of eating an abortion, actually it might be the equivalent of performing one and eating it all at the same time. Alright, I have now managed to disgust myself. Until next time...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Salad Made Interesting

I know I've been absentee. It's been part laziness and part lack of inspiration. There have been some changes and heartbreak and therefore I haven't been cooking as much, haven't been eating as much (leading to a phantom 6 pound weight loss, huh?) and haven't been taking pictures.

But today my friend Chris asked me what I use to dress the salads that I bring to work with me almost daily and I thought, why waste an email telling him my ideas when I can blog about it and send him the link?

I am usually an olive oil and vinegar girl. I love red wine vinegar and champagne vinegar and typically use balsamic only occasionally. I think that salad can have a bad rap because often times it is made with unhealthy dressing and tasteless boring vegetables. There's nothing weirder than eating a salad made with tomatoes and carrots and the only thing it tastes like is water. (Does anyone else have this experience? Personally I think that Subway sandwiches also taste like water. I have no idea if I am right on or everyone thinks I am crazy. Don't answer that part).

Today, for example, my salad was made up of the following:
heirloom tomatoes (incredibly sweet and in season)
red bell pepper
tiny slivers of red onion
a couple amazingly salty kalamata olives

I dressed it with a few drizzles of organic extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a few dashes of Frank's red hot sauce, just to add that kick.

This salad has tons of crunch from the veggies and then the softness of the mozzarella and the salty bite of the 4-5 olives I added in. It wasn't planned out, more like a cross-section of what I currently happen to have in my kitchen. I also never use bottled salad dressing. It is so easy to make my own, and why would I put any chemicals on all my lovely produce?

A few things that I believe are completely underutilized in salads:

fresh herbs- I made a tuna salad once (lettuce, veggies, tuna, olive oil and vinegar dressing) and I added tons of chopped Italian parsley that I didn't want to go bad. It absolutely 100% changed the salad and made it. It was amazing. I really cannot tell you how much of a difference this made, but you must try it. So chop in some chives, add basil or dill or whatever you have on hand. But it really makes a difference. Imagine a salad with hidden sage, sauteed mushrooms, slivers of parmesan and walnuts. Oooh, I need to make that, that sounds amazing.

Fresh fruit- a chopped apple, pear or peach can really change the entire composure of a salad. One of my faves in this vein is
Butter lettuce
cubed Granny Smith apple(taste your apple before you add it to make sure it's not mealy, nothing worse than that)
chopped prunes
ricotta salata
With a champagne vinegar, shallot and olive oil dressing, add a pinch of sugar and s& p to taste. Trust me, it works. And it's worth finding ricotta salata for, one of my all time favorite cheeses.

Roasted veggies- a sliced beet, some caramelized broccoli and cauliflower will add an extra oomph, not to mention nutrition, to any boring salad.

Cheese- and no, I'm not talking about cheddar. Grated parmesan can do wonders for a salad, as can ricotta salata, a little feta, goat cheese. I used all these sparingly as strangely as much of a cheese lover I am, I have never loved cheese in a salad. But some cannot soar to the heights that they are meant to be without the addition of these cheeses. Go to a cheese store and taste. Try a Tasmanian blue cheese, trust me on this one, or my beloved Fromage d'Affinois.

But experiment, there's really no going wrong. And if you mess up or don't like it, well try it differently next time.

Coming up: my favorite easy vinaigrettes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's For Dinner? Some SPICE!

Not the best picture, but I made some spicy food because of the addition of Sriracha in everything! I made my fave teriyaki chicken which has made many appearances on the blog, as well as zucchini, bok choy, and Trader Joe's Israeli couscous and lentil mix. MMMMMmmmm good. This meal was super simple to make and I had all the ingredients on hand.
The first thing I did was marinate some chicken thighs for about half an hour. Prep on the zucchs and bok choy was easy (rinse and cut in half). I baked the zucchini with some olive oil, salt and pepper and soy sauce for about 10 minutes then added the bok choy for the last 5, it needs very little cooking time. The Israeli couscous was simple, boil a small amount of water, add couscous, cover. Now I happen to be terrible at making things like this, aka, rice. I think it's because I don't read directions and I fuss with it too much. But even when i think I'm doing it perfectly the bottom layer of the rice is usually burned. What's that about? Maybe I should just buy a rice cooker. One day, when I have a bigger/nicer kitchen I will. And a blender... and a microwave. (I know, WHO doesn't have a microwave?? Well, me, but because it broke.) And to be honest the ONLY thing I miss it for is heating up leftovers. Most stuff I can do on the stove or in the oven, but heating up pasta or chicken is really the best to do in a microwave. I'll replace it again. It's in the "death" pile along with two DVRs. Maybe this should teach me that even though a dvr is a bargain at $49.99, it adds up when you practically have to buy two a year. Oh well. Where was I?
Sriracha! There was actually an article in the NY Times all about sriracha recently. I really like it, a lot more than Tabasco. There's something about the taste of Tabasco that turns me off. But Sriracha is Delisha. Ok, I'm a nerd. I think my favorite use is mixing it with honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger and marinating chicken or veggies with it. A little salty, a little sweet, and as spicy as you want it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Picnic in the Park

Ahhhhh, Saturday was so so lovely. It was warm, perfectly warm, and my friends and I headed to the park for some fun in the sun. Yes, I live one block from that park. Many might recognize it from the intro to Full House, and it is also the famous Painted Ladies in Alamo Square. So we hoofed it up the hill, cooler in hand, and had the most amazing picnic/sunbathing session/lie about.
Before the park I went to Cheese Plus on Polk St and bought some amazing cheese and salami. Of course I spent too much money there, but everything was amazing, especially the Tasmanian blue cheese. Mmmmmm.
John's favorite orzo salad also made an appearance, as well as the crunchiest grapes of the season.
I decided after that day that it is the Summer of the Picnic, not to be confused with the Year of the Dog, or the Hair of the Dog for that matter. I live one block from an amazing park, I have a cooler with wheels and a picnic blanket that's actually named picnic time. What else could I need?! And look how happy I am! And how relaxed everyone looks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Seem To Only Make One Thing

I've been slacking lately but I think I'm almost motivated to blog again. I think my main issue is pictures. It annoys me to load them both onto the computer and then onto the blog. I know that's lame so I'll just get over it.
On to some food stuff. More Turkey Burgers. I believe that John may be bordering on obsession when it comes to these. He just loves them, which is great because they're tasty and easy to make and not very expensive. I actually made them for Mother's Day as well and they didn't come out quite as well because we did them on the BBQ instead of an inside grill pan. I had never used the barbeque before to make them and I think that it was a bit too hot, so they cooked too much on the outside before I could get the inside fully cooked. That's the main issue with poultry burgers, the fact that they need to be completely cooked through, which means grilling them at a lower temp is necessary.
At my house I loaded the burgers up with cheddar cheese and then used some leftover feta to complete them. I couldn't really taste the feta, but it gave me some ideas for the future. More on that in a minute.

At my mom's house I topped the burgers with pepper jack which gave them a nice bite. I also made Ina Garten's brownie pudding, which I should have photographed, and it was easy, rich, and delicious. At my house I roasted some new potatoes and zucchini to go along. A tasty meal, I must say!

Now, when I added the feta to the turkey burgers I started thinking about how to make a Greek Turkey burger. (I know I sound like Rachael Ray, who I don't really like but yet I watch her show. I'm not sure what's wrong with me. Sometimes she makes stuff that looks ok and sometimes she creates such revolting meals that those are actually entertaining in their own right. The hot dog salad or whatever she made with a dressing of relish and yellow mustard? Gross) Anyway, I lived in Greece for a summer once a million years ago, and that summer I subsisted off Greek salad and chicken souvlaki, chicken skewers essentially, for those who don't know. So, I could make a chicken burger and stick the tomatoes, cucumber, oregano and feta inside it and maybe top it off with some tzaziki. Mmmm, that would be tasty. perhaps I must experiment next week. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I sadly did not photograph my dinner last night, but it was a-mazing. Two syllables A-MAZING. (That is a joke because some girl once said that to my friend Emily and her response was "even if you emphasize the first syllable, the word still has three syllables"). SPQR is a relatively new restaurant on Fillmore St. and when it was first opened I was actually quite sad because it took over the space of one of my old favorite restaurants, Chez Nous. But last night we went there to celebrate Alyssa's birthday and everything was to do for. And it was Fried Chicken Tuesday!!!! I'll take pictures and elaborate more soon!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chicken Marsala

I don't think I actually grew up eating chicken marsala. Strange to some people, I suppose, but I cannot think of a single time I had it until one night 2 years ago at my friend Rob's house. He made dinner and it was delicious and I thought, well why hasn't this been in my repertoire? And since then I have been reading recipes and experimenting with good old chicken marsala.
This time was not without slight mistakes, I should have made more sauce for the amount of pasta I cooked, but it was still delicious. And John loved it, even though I think he loves everything I make (except brussel sprouts).

This time i made some steamed broccoli on the side, a real departure for me since all I ever seem to do is roast my veggies, and the meal was complete. It was delicious. I actually think that I might add some sundried tomatoes into the sauce next time, and perhaps some capers. The reason I say this is because there's a restaurant in Hayes Valley, in San Francisco, called Il Borgo and every time I go I get the Fettucine del Borgo, yes not very imaginative. It is homemade fettucine (something I'll probably never venture upon) and chicken, sundried tomatoes, capers and a lovely sauce that I am sure contains more butter than I would like to think. But it is just so yummy. Ok, I have completely changed the subject. Actually that makes me want to go to Il Borgo for dinner tonight. I'll let you know tomorrow if I get there!

Monday, April 27, 2009

American Wife

Oh, by the way, I am reading the best book. Amazing actually. I am so completely absorbed by it I wish i could just stay home and read it all day. Ok, full disclosure, I wish I could stay home and read every day, but this is particularly enjoyable. It is "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld. It is one of those long, old fashioned, readable novels, the type I just love. I have about 100 pages left, it's long, almost 600 pages, and I can't decide whether I want to sit and read it all in one sitting or draw it out longer. i know I'll be at a loss as to what to read when I am finished. Actually that reminds me of "Marjorie Morningstar" by Herman Wouk. I actually felt like I was in mourning when I finished. How did I move on??

I'm Baaacckk

I have been the worst blogger ever. I won't make excuses, but I am back and hopefully won't go away for that long again!
What have I been eating and cooking? Well, lots of tasty treats, but I only have a few to share. The other night I made a lovely dinner for John and myself. Sometimes meals are absolutely delicious, and sometimes you learn from them. This was more of a learning meal.

I took chicken tenders and wrapped them in in prosciutto and a sage leaf. Now I almost never buy boneless, skinless chicken. It is more expensive, but more importantly, I think that when you cook chicken with the skin and bones it comes out soooo much moister and more flavorful. I think I could have cooked these for a few less minutes and then perhaps they wouldn't have been quite as dry. Oh well, I'll try next time. I think this might be better with chicken thighs, since the meat is darker and less likely to dry out. On the side I made roasted brussel sprouts and some wild rice from Trader Joe's. For some reason I sort of suck at rice. Huh?? you say? How can one suck at rice? Well perhaps it has something to do with my inability to follow instructions. I am sure that the rice wouldn't have burned if I had actually read what to do with it instead of sticking it into a pot of boiling water and then jumping in the shower. Oh well, better luck next time.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Miso Soup Face Off

Many mornings, and afternoons, at work I like to have miso soup. It warms me up and fills me up with very little effort and calories. Recently I bought the Kikkoman brand as well as Trader Joe's to have a little contest between the two.
Each of them come in a little packet that I pour into my coffee cup and then add hot water to. I don't measure the water, simply add enough so the salt isn't too overpowering. I then let it sit for a minute so the tofu, seaweed and scallions can reconstitute a bit. I happen to love and adore miso soup and have read many times that it is a breakfast staple in Japan, and they seem to be healthy, so I have added it to my morning routine. Well I never really eat breakfast and just much on what's around if I'm hungry (carrots, an apple, string cheese, jelly beans, depends on what I have in my office. You know that they say- jelly beans, the breakfast of champions!) The first miso I tried was the Kikkoman. It was full of authentic miso flavor, as well as soft disks of tofu and the seaweed that I adore. This was just lovely. And for under $3.00 for 3 packets, not so bad a deal.

Next up was the Trader Joe's, pictured above. I was excited about this because my roommate hoards this stuff because it is apparently hard to find. Sort of like the TJ's couscous. WTF happened to that stuff? I used to get it and now it has disappeared. I asked once when I was shopping and they said it had something to do with the distributor. Whatever, I want my couscous back. Ok, back to Miso. TJ's came with little squares of tofu that never really softened up. They had the consistency of astronaut ice cream or something. NOT a good thing. And the flavor of the soup was just meh. It was grainy and too salty even though I added a crap load of water.
This is a no brainer, but the winner is...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chinese Food

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hawaii- Part II: Dream Cake

Oooh, Dream Cake. I must say that it is perfectly named. Dream Cake is this light and fluffy air filled mildly chocolate cake that is from my favorite bakery in Honolulu. They also make Haupia cake which I think that I would swim in if I got the chance. Layers of coconut pudding between thin mattresses of fluffy cake (there's that word again, fluffy. But there really isn't a better word to describe these creations.) We were lucky enough to celebrate Maggie's birthday while on vacation. She turned 7 1/4. Huh? you ask. Well she was born on Leap Year, February 29, so she only gets to celebrate her real birthday every 4 years. But around midnight on February 28th, we brought out this lovely cake to surprise Miss Maggie with.
Mmm, I dream about these cakes. And I don't even have a sweet tooth!
I'll leave you with another lovely photo of Waikiki. It really is "just another day in Paradise" every day there, as my mom always says. It's hard to have a bad day in Hawaii.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Sunset from my grandparent's porch. That's the Waikiki Harbor and the Hawaii Yacht Club is there too. Where I had the best lasagne I may have ever eaten. I should have taken a picture.

Ok- I admit it, I've been a bad blogger. Well, perhaps just a lazy one. Part of the reason is that I went on vacation for a week. To beautiful Hawaii. I found a good price on a ticket and then jetted off to Honolulu to stay with my grandparents for a week. I am quite the lucky girl because I have lovely grandparents who live in Waikiki and like it when I visit them, so going to Hawaii is not that unusual of an occurrence for me, but it's not like I don't appreciate and love it! there's just something about the air there, or maybe it's the weather. It's everything. I love visiting my grandparents because they live in walking distance of three things, The Ala Moana Center (quite possibly the world's best shopping center), Waikiki Beach (self-explanatory), and the Outrigger Canoe Club. What's the Outrigger? Well I guess you could say it's like a golf club for canoes! And they have a snack hut where I love to get grilled cheese sandwiches.
But back to the food. I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend Maggie with me on this trip. I say lucky because not only is she one of my best friends and favorite people, but she's also an amazing chef. She went to the CCA (California Culinary Academy) and worked at Cyrus in Healdsburg, CA for the past 2 years. She's now starting her own non-profit called Koolinary. And she made us a lovely dinner one night in Waikiki!
We started out with a delicious salad of mixed greens, mango, crushed macadamia nut, bean sprouts and a gingery avocado vinaigrette (I think). The above photo is another photo from Tutu and Kane's lanai. That's what I call my grandparents by the way. Tutu means grandmother in Hawaiian, and Kane (sounds like Connie) means Man. this is because Hawaii is a matriarchal society and there is no word for grandpa, so they call them Tutu Kane, which means grandma man. This was too confusing to my brother when he was a kid, so they became Tutu and Kane. Or "Toot & Cane" as my dad calls them!
After our refreshing salad we were served the main course: breaded shrimp with rice and sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions. Once again, I couldn't get enough. And we topped this with a little of the avocado vinaigrette. YUM. Double yum. The shrimp were so good warm, and equally as good cold the next day eaten straight out of a tupperware in the fridge.

It was a very satisfying meal. Light enough to feel good in my bikini the next day, but so flavorful and yummy. Kudos Mags! And thanks!!!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Italian Tacos?

Q:What do you have when you sautee carrots, onions, zucchini, and garlic, add some Trader Joe's portobello mushroom chicken sausage, and decide that as a carb you'll add some tortillas with melted parmesan on them?
A:Something delicious, and also perhaps the first Mexi-italian fusion meal I have made.
I know it doesn't look too exciting, but it really was just scrumptious. I'll have to make it again soon, as it was Johnny approved!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Everyone Has to Be Addicted to Something

So- it's time to come clean. I think that I am addicted to something and I don't know how to stop. I think about it all the time, crave it when I don't have it, overindulge to the point of sickness. What can I possibly be talking about? Well, namely this. I am addicted to Cheez-its. I don't know how it happened. I hadn't had Cheez-its for years. I don't even recall liking them as a child, but then one day someone offered me some and it's been downhill from there. I try not to buy them because I can't control my portion size. I eat handfuls upon handfuls to the point that I feel nauseous, like I do right now as I am writing this! Last time I bought a box I ate it in 3 days. That's too many Cheez-its!

I'm not sure what to do about my love/hate relationship with this small square shaped creature. I love them, but sometimes I think that they hate me. They run around my stomach expanding it and making me feel overstuffed and tired. Hmmm, perhaps I should keep the box elsewhere (co-workers office maybe?) and only dole out little portions to myself from time to time. All I know is that I must be stopped. Do they have a 12 step program for crunchy, crispy, cheezy addictions? And switching to the lower fat kind is not an option. They just aren't the same.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On A Different Note...

I must say that before I loved cooking, i loved reading. i still do. And I love to read food lit to combine the two things I adore. But I decided to take the BBC test below. They say that most will only have read 6 of the 100 books below. Let's see how I do...

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Tally your total at the bottom.
2) Put in a note with your total in the subject

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible X
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte X
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've read a good chunk of them, so I'm counting it) X
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier X
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien X
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger X
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck X
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy X
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (darn, movie don't count)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X
34 Emma - Jane Austen X
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen X
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini X
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden X
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving X
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan X
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel X
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen X
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon X
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (1st page a dozen times, guess it doesn't count)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov X
63 The Secret History - Donna Tart
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold X
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding X
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath X
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro X
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert X
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry X
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad X
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupéry X
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

HEY!! I got 49! Not bad I must say myself. Some of them I read in school, others as a child (The Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Charlotte's Web) but I read a bunch on my own as well. This makes me realize I need to read more Dickens. I don't think seeing Great Expectations with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke a hundred times counts. Copy and paste the quiz and check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Day Spinach Lasagne Bolognese

John and I decided that for Valentine's Day we would stay home and cook together. Well, originally he was going to cook for me, then we decided we would do something together. On the rainy Saturday that was V Day I sat on my couch and looked through a bunch of cooking magazines for ideas. I decided on a recipe in Gourmet for Spinach Bolognese Lasagne. Valentine's was cold and rainy in San Francisco, so I didn't change out of my sweats all day. I had a notion to shower and put on a pretty dress but John told me he didn't care, and I was sooo comfortable, so sweats it was.

Cooking together was a really nice change from me being in the kitchen alone most of the time. We chopped and stirred together, John did all the spinach defrosting and ringing out plus all the ricotta filling. Actually, how goofy is this, when we were at the store we grabbed what we thought was 2 boxes of chopped frozen spinach. Upon returning home we discovered one was actually chopped frozen broccoli. We used it anyway. I have no idea if the lasagne would have been better or worse without the broccoli, but too bad. I thought it was still tasty, and broccoli is green and good for you, I doubt I would have noticed if I hadn't seen the package.

Part of the proposed menu was a Brownie Pudding that I saw Ina make on the Food Network. we searched high and low for Framboise and bought all the ingredients even1 In the end we bought some raspberry extract. But after cooking the lasagne, which I made the mistake of not noticing that the bolognese was supposed to simmer for one hour before putting it in the oven for another hour plus!, we were tired and I was not in the mood to dirty the kitchen again. Champagne and lasagne on the couch was our Valentine's meal and I couldn't have asked for anything better. I must admit I think I kept the bolognese on the stove for too long. Because we used the no-cook noodles they suck up a ton of liquid, leaving our lasagne a bit dry. It was solved by adding a splash of olive oil, which really brightened up the flavors too, but next I will make sure my bolognese looser before I add it. Check out how close my lasagne looks to the picture on the recipe!

Green Pea, Leek & Potato Soup

Mmm, there's nothing more comforting or inexpensive than my green pea vichyssoise. I got a bunch of leeks in my organic delivery and was excited about making it. basically, all I do is chop up some leeks (and clean them of course, never forget to clean your leeks) and chop some potatoes. Stick in large pot with some butter. Cook for a few, add a bunch of chicken stock and water, and garlic if you want with the leeks, and cook. Add a bag of frozen peas after 20 minutes, cook more, and puree. Boom, done. Nothing more to it. Season to taste of course and this time I served it with some heavy whipping cream, chives, and bay shrimp on top. Lovely. The soup is very healthy so there need not be any guilt involved with the cream. I hadn't added shrimp before, but John's one of those protein guys, so I was trying to be creative.

Johnny likes his soup warm, I like it cold, it really doesn't matter, whatever your taste buds are craving. Traditionally vichyssoise does not have green peas, but I love the addition. The peas add such a vibrant color, nutrition, and a lovely taste. But to each his own. I am not a traditional girl like that. Oh, and there are real recipes out there for vichyssoise, ones that include actual measurements and not "add as many leeks and potatoes as you have on hand, use up half package of chicken stock before it goes bad." That's just the way I happen to cook!

Mercedes- Hair of the Dog Cantina

No, I didn't need or have the hair of the dog during a work lunch, that's just the name of the restaurant we went to! It's right around the corner from my office and sort of a hidden gem. My only complaint about my chicken tacos was that they were sort of expensive. Eleven bucks for tacos?! I live in San Francisco which basically means you can find dirt cheap Mexican food that's really good all over the place. Ok, or maybe in the Mission, but I was shocked. All the lunch entrees, burritos, etc, were over 10 bucks. Yeah, the portions were big, but I don't know if I'll return. Maybe if I am in desperate need for the hair of the dog I might, but other than that, I'll save my pesos for $4 jumbo burritos.

Friday, February 06, 2009

New Look

Tell me what you think about my new header! I've changed things a bit. Do you like it?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Man vs. Food

I think I have a new show. It's on the Travel Channel. I stayed up the other night til almost 3 in the morning watching what must have been a marathon of them.
It is just great. Adam Richman is so funny and charming and yes, it is mildly disgusting what he puts in his body, but for some reason it is incredibly entertaining. In the episodes I saw he ate about 15 dozen oysters in New Orleans,Atomic hot wings in Philly (apparently higher than high on the Skoville scale), ate the Carnivore Pizza Challenge in Atlanta, well you get the gist. The guy is nuts, but in the most endearing way. I think I may have developed a bit of a crush.
Check out the show. it's amusing at worst and amazing at best. And check out the show here.

Dark Greens are Good For You

Most people probably don't think, mmmm, kale. But that's exactly what I have been thinking recently. So I made some, easy solution, right? In a pan I sauteed some shallots and mushrooms in olive oil. When they were pretty soft I added the kale, stuck a little water in the pan, and placed a lid on it. Steam city! A voila, dunzo. I had told Johnny that I wanted a light and healthy dinner, and boy did we get one! I added a salad with my new favorite dressing. I make a faux French dressing.

Squirt about a tablespoon of ketchup in a small glass jar with a lid or in a bowl. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of garlic powder, a big pinch of sugar, a tablespoon of vinegar (or more) and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add salt and pepper to taste and either shake or whisk.

It is really good, sweet and vinegary, just like I like. I like to make a jar of this and bring it with me to work to add to my salads. Adding some chopped shallots makes it even more divine. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Something's Fishy

What would be fishy? My house- for days after I actually cooked fish. But it was worth it. John and I bought some lovely cod at Molly Stone's and went home to make a quick and tasty dinner. I turned on the pan, stuck some zucchini in the oven, grabbed my salad stuff and went about quick coating the fish. Instead of using buttermilk or eggs, I simply sprinkled salt and pepper over the fish and then coated it with breadcrumbs. Did they coat it perfectly? No, but it was fine.

I did the fish on the stove top at first and then stuck the pan in the oven to finish its cooking. Here's a great cooking tip. When you take the crazy hot pan out of the oven and place it on the stove again, the handle is STILL HOT. Don't grab it with your bare hand. Because that HURTS. And sadly, yes, I am speaking from experience. Wise words from a klutz. Following the sad burning hand, I stuck ice all over it but it insisted on throbbing all evening. Oh, my other tip is don't take a hot shower after burning yourself. Even if you think it feels better. And even if you think you need to because you are in gross sweaty gym clothes. Do NOT take a shower. Because every time the water hits that sad red mark on the side of your hadn ti burns. Badly. I am glad that everyone can learn from my mistakes. So sad.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sometimes A Girl Just Wants Crab

The other night John and I were discussing what to eat for dinner. Something healthy was my main criteria, and not too heavy. I threw out chicken but he said no and I agreed that I make too much chicken. Fish? Hmm, I could go for some salmon. and then it struck us... CRAB!
Off we went to Molly Stone's to pick up some crabbies and sourdough bread. The crab was good price, I can't remember exactly but I think about $8.99/pound. I had tons fo salad fixings at home plus cocktail sauce and mayonnaise (yes, I like to dip my crab in mayo. Some people may not, but I do.) John melted some butter and squeezed a lemon into it. While I made the salad Johnny fixed up the crab and set the table with all the additions that I love with my crab.

And dinner was perfect. Fresh, delicious crab, a large green salad loaded with raw veggies and my favorite Semifreddi's seeded sourdough baguette. To die for. We sat at my nice round table in the alcove of the house and had a lovely and romantic meal. It felt pretty good to be able to have a delicious and good for you meal for under $20 and 15 minutes of prep. Always remember to take your trash out that night though. I think the house was stinky just having all the crab in there for a few hours! I can't wait until our next crab meal. Next time I'll steam some artichokes to go along with it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Moroccan Chicken with Stewed Prunes and Tomatoes

This is one of my all time favorite chicken recipes. You stew this chicken with a bunch of spices like cinnamon and then add the sweet prunes. Ok or you can call them dried plums. Apparently the prune industry is trying to change the name from prune to dried plums to escape the apparent bad reputation that prunes have. I suppose that prune does bring up the negative connotation of grandparents and an attempt at being "regular" but I think that a prune is delicious no matter what you call it.
While I cooked the chicken I also made some egg noodles which I added a little butter and some poppy seeds too. This was a lovely base for the chicken and all the sweet and yummy pan juices to run over. I had a drumstick with my noodles on the first night and kept the breasts for the following evening.