Thursday, September 1, 2011

Moving Day!

I've decided to try out a new format. Please follow me over to my new cooking site:

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Wow! Evidently summer was way busier than I had anticipated... but as promised, here is post numero dos honoring the summer tomato. Head to your local farmers market quick before they're all gone!

Whole Wheat Angel Hair with Fresh Tomatoes

1/3 box whole wheat angel hair noodles (I favor Barilla)
4 ripe on the vine tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I like to stick them over an open flame until the skins pop right off the flesh, becoming super easy to slide off the 'mater; also I seed the tomatoes over a bowl through a sieve to remove the seeds but retain the juices)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt + fresh ground black pepper
Several basil leave, torn or chiffonade

Throw together the tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt (about 1/2 tsp) and add a couple turns of cracked black pepper. Stir well and let it sit while you cook your whole wheat noodles.

Once your noodles are al dente, strain them reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Serve the noodles in a bowl, drizzle some of the cooking liquid on top of the noodles, and top with a heaping amount of the fresh tomato mixture. Give the bowl one more drizzle of olive oil (optional) and top with basil and parmiggiano!

This is the perfect dish to weather these last few summer heatwave days.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fresh Tomatoes: Get 'Em While You Can

Hey there, everyone! It's been awhile... but I'm back and right in time to take advantage of all the peak produce summer has to offer.

I've recently received a request to post more vegetarian recipes. So I will oblige that request by spending the next couple of posts on vegetarian-friendly dishes. I also plan to honor the splendor of tomato season with the next two posts.

We're having an extended Spring here in Southern California. May Gray and June Gloom just won't give up. So, I've used the cooler days to make my most favorite soup in the world: Tomato Soup. Even as summer progresses and the days warm up, this soup is so delicious it's completely worth heating up the kitchen. And of course the best accompaniment for any tomato soup is a grilled cheese sandwich. I have searched and experimented and tasted and have finally found the optimal cheese combination for the PERFECT grilled cheese. Fontina and Muenster. Each melts superbly and the flavor is smooth, pairing oh-so well with tomato soup. Please to enjoy:

Heirloom Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Serves 4

5 heirloom tomatoes, quartered (any variety; diversity is optimal here)
1/2 large yellow onion; quartered
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
olive oil
salt & pepper
3 c veggie stock
2-4 tbsp butter
half-and-half (optional)

1 loaf of French bread, sliced
4 slices of Fontina cheese
4 slices of Muenster cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place quartered tomatoes, onions, and garlic in a large baking dish. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and toss to coat thoroughly. Roast in the over for 30 minutes.

Next, spoon 1/3 of the roasted veggies into a food processor or blender, puree until completely smooth. Empty the pureed veggies into a large soup pot. Repeat 2 times until all the veggies have been pureed and are in the soup pot. Then, add veggie stock to pureed tomatoes.

Heat soup on medium-high. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered at a slow simmer for 10-15 minutes. Then add the butter (the more butter you add the richer the soup will taste).

In the meantime, butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of Fontina and Muenster each between two slices of bread. Toast on a griddle (butter side down) over medium heat until golden brown on each side.

Serve the soup with a drizzle of half-and-half and the grilled cheese. Don't forget to dip!

Bon appetit!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

You Outta Pasta

I'm really excited about this recipe for Spring. It's a wonderful creamy pasta dish that incorporates some seasonal spring veggies, making it both filling and fresh. It can be made with any of the thicker pasta varieties, like fettuccine, linguine, orecchiette... the version featured in the photo below is made with pasta rigate. Please to enjoy:

Creamy Pasta with Spring Veggies and Prosciutto

8-10 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 box of pasta rigate
4-5 slices of prosciutto, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
freshly cracked black pepper

Quickly blanch the cut asparagus spears in a large pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove the asparagus and set aside. Return water to boil and add pasta.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a nonstick skillet. Add prosciutto and saute for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and peas, then cook for another 2 minutes. Add the half and half and allow to cook down until it becomes creamy, about an additional 3-4 minutes. Next, remove the skillet from the heat and add the cherry tomatoes.

When the pasta reaches al dente, drain it and transfer to a large bowl. Pour the creamy vegetables and prosciutto over the pasta and add the parmigiano-reggiano, stirring gently.

When serving this dish, be sure to add freshly cracked pepper over the top of each bowl... the pepper makes it really something special. And if you're like me, and pasta alone doesn't satisfy your carbs carving, serve the dish with a big chunk of toasted french bread... believe me, you'll want to sop up every bit of the melty parm sauce at the bottom of your bowl.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eggsellent Breakfast

Is that title too dorky? Well, I'm going with it.

Breakfast is the name of the game today... and the star player is the wondrous egg. This is a great dish for any weekend morning and particularly if you have leftover french bread from the night before. Please to enjoy:

Scrambled Eggs with Herbed Croutons

1/2 loaf or more of day-old French or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
6 large eggs
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss the bread cubes with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil and the fresh herbs. Spread out the herbed bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven when the croutons are golden brown and crunchy.

Next, heat a nonstick skillet on medium. Whisk the eggs and a splash of half-and-half with salt and pepper in a small bowl. Melt the butter in the skillet. Then pour the eggs in the skillet. Slowly scramble the eggs (careful not to cook them too fast or they'll end up tough). When the eggs are still just slightly runny, toss the croutons in the skillet and continue cooking for another minute or so, or until the eggs are no longer runny.

You can eat this dish alone with your favorite breakfast drink or serve it up with bacon. I recently had mine with Trader Joe's Tangerine Juice and coffee. De-lish!

Bon appetit!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Grill. Fiesta. Fun.

It's been a little while since I posted a recipe in which beef plays a substantial role. So may I present to you... a colorful and scrumptious dish that will hopefully have you ready to fire up your grill ahora.
I like to make these tacos with skirt steak. It's relatively inexpensive, as far as steak goes, and it has a marvelous flavor, which is likely attributable to its characteristically generous marbling. Just remember when you're working with skirt steak, you must, must, must marinate. Otherwise, it'll end up tough and chewy... and that is no bueno! What is muy bueno about this recipe, however, is the roasted corn salsa. It adds a delightful crunch and dazzling color to the dish. Please to enjoy:

Skirt Steak Tacos with Roasted Corn Salsa
Serves 2-3

1 lb skirt steak
2-3 limes
chili powder
salt and pepper
2 ears of corn
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, diced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
red wine vinegar
Guacamole (I've said it before: simplicity is splendid. Avocado, tomato, red onion, lime juice, and salt)
flour tortillas (get Trader Joe's Truly Handmade flour torts if you can; they're the tastiest)

Marinate the skirt steak in a shallow bowl with your freshly juiced limes. Rub 'er down with chili powder on both sides and let 'er marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour (in fact, if you can, set it to marinate in the morning).

Preheat the grill on high. Season the marinated steak with salt and pepper. Throw the skirt steak and ears of corn on the grill. They'll both need to cook about 10-12 minutes. Be sure to flip the steak once at around 5 or 6 minutes, and rotate the corn several times to ensure all kernels get their fair share of flame.

In the meantime, wrap the flour tortillas in aluminum foil and heat them on the grill (or in the oven at 250 degrees).

Before removing the steak from the grill, test the doneness by pressing on thickest part of the steak with whatever cooking utensil you have handy. If it's firm to the touch, it's ready. If it's very soft, then it needs a few more minutes.

After removing the steak, corn, and tortillas, let the steak sit for at least 5 minutes. To make the corn salsa, slice the kernels off the ears of corn and add to a medium bowl. Then add tomatoes, onion, and chopped cilantro. Add two dashes of red wine vinegar to the salsa and mix well. Finally, slice the skirt steak on a bias before serving.

I like to serve each component of the tacos family-style, so diners can assemble their own. One flour tortilla, a couple slices of steak, healthy scoops of corn salsa and guacamole, and a squeeze of lime makes this taco fantastico!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Potato and Leek Soup with Bacon

As winter has passed and spring is upon us, I can't help but lament the inevitable end of soup season. So, while we're still getting a few cool days here in Southern California, I'd like to present a delicious, and quick, soul-soothing soup.

Potato and Leek Soup with Crumbled Bacon

3 slices of bacon, cut into strips
olive oil
5 large leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup cream or half-and-half (optional)
2 tbsp butter (optional)
salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned. Remove and set aside. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the dutch oven and add the sliced leeks. Cook until soft and caramelized, stirring frequently, approximately 10 minutes. Add chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer until the potatoes are tender, approximately 15 minutes. Using an emulsion blender (or working in batches using a food processor/blender), puree the contents of the dutch oven until smooth. Add the cream and butter. Stir until the butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve up the soup with crumbled bacon on top. I had mine with a nice, big piece of crusty bread and green salad.

Bon appetit!