Working from home definitely has its luxuries: I take pilates sessions at noon when the studio is empty and quiet, I can run errands whenever I need without having to “clock out”, I work with my dogs at my feet and, oh, I get to watch Dr. Oz at 4pm! Yes, I’ve become addicted to Doc Oz and find myself glued to the TV set to see what health news he is going to share.
Yesterday’s episode focused on gallstones, which was horrific and intriguing all at once. Inspired to eat a little healthier, I whipped up a nice Italian omelette for Chris this morning (no meat!) and it was delicious.
Ingredients: 2 egg whites + 1 egg yolk, handful of spinach, one tomato chopped (I used a San Marzano from our veggie garden), ricotta cheese, salt + pepper, a tiny bit of olive oil
What to do: Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. In a non-stick pan, saute a handful of spinach in a little bit of olive oil and season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Add the chopped tomato and cook a little bit more. Whisk the eggs together and then pour over the spinach and tomato. Add a few dollops of ricotta cheese and then transfer the pan to the top shelf of the oven. Let it bake for 5 minutes or less (watch it, depending on your oven). Remove from oven and add a few more dollops of the ricotta cheese.
I freakin’ LOVE Melissa Clark! No joke. I first heard about this food writer/cook when I bought her book, The Skinny: How to Fit into Your Little Black Dress Forever, which seriously helped me shed some unwanted pounds the healthy way. Then I purchased her cookbook, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite, and made about 2/3 of the recipes in there to my fiance’s delight. And now that she agreed to do a Q&A with little me, I love her even more! So thank you, Melissa Clark! Everyone, enjoy this little Q&A…I am truly honored
Can you tell the readers a little bit about what you do right now and how you became a food writer? Right now I write a weekly column for the NY Times called “A Good Appetite.” I have a book out, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite, that is sort of an expanded version of my column. I give my all time favorite recipes along with essays that share all the juicy details about how the recipes came about – some were born of a complete whim, others are old family recipes or traditional dishes that I’ve modified to suit my own tastes. My newest book, Cook This Now, focuses on how to eat seasonally, healthfully (while still somewhat decadently!), and easily (as in easy for your family) comes out this October. And I just started writing a weekly recipe column for the website Gilt Taste. So I’m dealing with quite a full plate at the moment!
I started out with a graduate degree from Columbia School of the Arts, an MFA in nonfiction, with an eye toward a career as a writer – not necessarily with a designated specialty. But I was raised in a completely food obsessed family (my parents planned our summer vacations around Michelin-starred restaurants) and I found myself pulled toward food-writing. Plus, on the side while I was at Columbia, I ran a wee catering company out of my tiny kitchen, a one person operation with most of my business coming from catering dinner parties for professors and wine-and-cheese receptions for dissertation defenses, etc. Ever since then cooking and writing have seemed to go hand in hand (not to mention eating.)
Describe a typical day’s worth of eats. Since I’ve had my daughter (Dahlia is now 2 and a half) breakfast is usually the crusts cut off from her whole grain toast with butter and jam, which is a huge step up from my pre-Dahlia days of cookies and a cup of tea (can’t set a bad example right?). Lunch is generally on the lighter side when I can control it (eg when I’m not recipe testing a dozen variations on fried mozzarella): a handful of fresh greens with vinaigrette or a tomato and/or avocado sandwich or an anchovy crostini, or some cheese and crackers eaten standing up at the counter. And dinner could be almost anything. Sometimes if I’ve tested a particularly good recipe that day I’ll force myself to save it for dinner with my husband, Daniel. He loves it when I’m working on any kind of chili or braised meat story. The problem for me can be snacking. I always have food (pretty great food, if I do say so myself) in the house and it can be very tempting to nibble away at the recipes I’m developing. Fortunately I have great neighbors who are only too happy to take leftovers off my hands!
How did you eat when you were pregnant? Did you apply the same rules as you do now? I was so sick for the first 5 months that I just ate white food – noodles, rice, yogurt. Anything green made me sick, which is completely different from the way I currently eat (lots of green please!). After that passed I ate pretty much what ever I wanted but in very small portions, otherwise I got heartburn. Eating while pregnant was not my favorite activity. Except for fruit, fruit always tasted great to me and made me feel great, so I ate tons of it and still do.
How do you stay in such great and skinny shape for being a foodie?! Please share some of your secrets. For me it’s all about portion control. If I go out to a dinner, I always eat half my meal and get half wrapped up to go. I always order a salad course to fill up on healthy greens so I don’t pig out on my entrée. And I always order a dessert so I don’t feel deprived. And I run two or three times a week in the park, and do a little yoga. Not to mention, running after a toddler.
What’s your go-to outfit and who are some of your favorite designers? Summer go-to outfit, A-line above- the-knee skirt, sleeveless blouse or shirt, gladiator sandals. Winter: skinny black jeans, short jacket over long silky top. Favorite designer is tough, I haven’t bought a lot of designer clothes post-baby. Tracey Reese, Catherine Malandrino, Marc Jacobs…
Please fill in the blanks:
If I wasn’t a food writer, I’d be: I’d be rich! Ha, no, I’d probably be a writer focusing on something else, maybe education or cats.
When you open my handbag, you’ll find: Wallet, phone (with a million pictures of my daughter), laptop (for making last minute changes to my column while on the subway), notebook and pen for ideas. Lots of random receipts that I should file away, paperclips because they always fall off, mints, cookie crumbs, nail file. Flotsam and jetsam.
I never leave my house without: My phone
The first thing I do when I wake up is: Go upstairs and pick up my daughter and hug her! She makes waking up at 5:45 happy (of course if she wasn’t around I wouldn’t be getting up at 5:45 but that’s another story).
If I could go back in time: I’d always finish my dessert.
My fail-proof recipe is: Squid salad! Or maybe mac and cheese…
I never thought that one day I would be: This busy.
For all you aspiring food writers out there, remember this: Really know your subject before you start writing. Everyone appreciates fine, well-turned prose but nothing beats time spent in a professional kitchen to really hone your food writing skills.
If you live in the Manhattan Beach or El Segundo area and have not tried Tin Roof, go! It’s got a tasty lunch and dinner selection and a little bocce ball strip out front (the restaurant is styled like a rustic vineyard). I went there for lunch today and had their delicious Ahi Tuna Salad doused in a mustard-y ginger dressing. Bon appetit is right!
So my fiance – whoa! so fun saying that – LOVES mexican food. Our first meal consisted of leftover tacos on Monday Night Football I usually make him a few breakfast sandwiches during the week before work as my standard go-to breakfast item, but I thought I’d do something a little different this morning and incorporate his favorite white corn tortillas. Here is how you do it:
I swung by the farmer’s market today and to my delight, tubs and tubs of cherries were overflowing so many tables. Yay! I love cherries – they are my favorite! I like to eat them by themselves but maybe one of these days, I’ll whip up some cherry pie or a cherry smoothie for breakfast. If anyone has some good recipes using cherries, do let me know.
Well, it’s official. GILT Groupe is taking over the world! Check out their latest project, GILT Taste.
I was home alone the other night and craving dessert but far too lazy to hop in my car to get ice cream. So what did I have at home to whip something together? Butter, lemon zest, flour, sugar…um, hello shortbread! Below is my recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma for a quick, yummy and very unhealthy shortbread (read: tons of butter). In the words of Paula Deen, “enjoy, y’all!”
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbs. grated lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
Preheat an oven to 325°F.
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt and process briefly to blend. Add the butter and process just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gather it into a rough ball.
Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan or tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the tines of a fork around the edge to form a decorative border, and then pierce the surface every 2 inches with the fork. Sprinkle the surface with a handful of brown sugar.
Bake the shortbread until lightly golden at the edges and the center is firm to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the sides of the pan. Using a long, sharp knife, score the shortbread into thin wedges. Let cool completely before cutting and serving. Store in layers, separated by waxed paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes 12 to 16 cookies.
Who’s still riding on the British high? Me, me, me! What better way to see England than to experience a tour that includes tea and crumpets? The lovely gals at Ruby PR just informed me of Crown & Crumpet’s upcoming ‘Crown & Crumpet Brit-n-Tea Tour’. In a nutshell, it’s a 12 day tour of England’s poshest estates, most charming tea rooms and best antiquing spots, curated -and attended by- Amy and Christopher Dean, owners of San Francisco’s Crown & Crumpet tea room. (I hear they have the tastiest little tea sandwiches, scones, and sweets – they make everything there themselves.)
A few highlights include:
-a trip to the famous Newark Antique Market where Christopher, a former antique dealer, will give you insider tips when shopping the over 4,000 dealers.
-a visit to Althorp, Princess Diana’s childhood home
-three nights at The Mermaid Inn, a 14th century coaching inn
-a visit to Woburn Abbey, the ancestral home of the Duchess of Bedford, the originator of afternoon tea
-see a fashion exhibit at the exquisite Brighton Pavilion
-a “behind the scenes” tour of Chatsworth, the family home to the Duke of Devonshire
-the elegant “fashionista tea” at the Berkeley Hotel
Everyone will meet in London where the tour will kick off. In addition to some fabulous excursions during the day, guests will be staying at some of the most charming inns and hotels in England, and eating meals at some of Christopher and Amy’s favorite places. For anyone who wants the full itinerary, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the deets:
- Dates: August 13-25, 2011
- Book by: June 1, 2011
- Book at: www.teagardentravel.com
- Cost per person: $4995
You gotta book by June 1st if you want to make this trip. I’m jealous of anyone who can!
What do you get when you mix farmer’s market fresh asparagus with farmer’s market fresh eggs? My breakfast of the week: Poached eggs with roasted asparagus. I threw this together for us and added a shaving of pecorino and truffle oil on top. My man got extra crumbs of bacon on his. I recommend roasting the asparagus at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes in a light bath of olive oil and sea salt. Don’t forget to add vinegar to your (shallow) pan of water when poaching…it really helps the entire process. Don’t ask me why. I just saw it on a cooking show.
This past February we had the pleasure of taking a week-long trip to Kauai. We stayed on the north shore in Ha’ena, which was lush and green and gorgeous and everything you see on those postcards. True island living! We spent everyday frolicking in the crystal clear waters, sunbathing on the beach and taking beautiful coastal drives in our rented SUV. Pure heaven! But even better than that (to me) was all the delicious fresh fish and veggies we feasted on. Instead of dining at the more tourist-type spots like the St. Regis in Princeville, we opted for the more down-home style of eating at the local fish markets and cafes. One of my favorites was the Kilauea Fish Market, a little hole-in-the-wall joint tucked away behind a charming little strip mall. We went there about four times during our stay and every time, I ordered the seared ahi poke salad, which came with the creamiest, most flavorful dressing. I still fascinate about this salad and have tried so hard to re-create it here at home.
If you ever visit Kauai, this is a must stop! It’s pricey but well worth it.
4270 Kilauea Road # F, Kilauea - (808) 828-6244
There is a wonderful little Italian restaurant, Alejo’s, that I live up the street from and they have this one salad that rocks my world. The ingredients are super simple, so I’m guessing it’s their dressing that really does the job. I tried to re-create this salad adding bacon bits to it (well bacon makes everything taste better, don’t you think?) but didn’t quite get the exact taste as my beloved Alejo’s salad (I used blue cheese dressing – my fave!) Either way, this was still delicious and very filling…and I’m a sandwich girl, mind you. I never fill up on salads so this was a good thing.
- 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped and chopped until super fine
- 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 ears of fresh raw corn
- 1 roma tomato
- large handful of shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
- salt and pepper to taste
- bacon bits (as much or as little as you want)
Time to get healthy! Ding ding ding! I spent $75 this week for Chris and I and stocked up on veggies, fruits, nuts, and more veggies from the farmers market. So what have I been eating and drinking?
Green juices! Lots of them! Daily! Cucumber, spinach, lemon, ginger, apple, and pear. God after a week of cheese and bread, I was LOVING my juice.
Salads galore! I have been adding avocado, hemp seeds, dulse, seaweed, walnuts, and even banana to mine.
Fruit! Here, pineapple chunks that I had for breakfast.
Smoothies. All day, everyday. Here is an avocado lime shake I made. Super easy and tasted just like key lime pie.
Asian inspired meals. I bought a big jar of kim chi, which isn’t exactly ideal to eat all the time since it’s quite salty but it adds so much spice and flavor to your dish. I’ve been eating alot of wakame seaweed and sauteed spinach, too. The plate above has squash that had been baked in the oven and in the dish right below, I added soba noodles to the mix. My only “dressing” is a couple dashes of Braggs Amino Acid, which tastes like soy sauce but is far superior.
So how have I been feeling? Seriously, I have been feeling GREAT. So much more energy, I’m not passing out super early, I am clear headed and focused at work, and I only need half a cup of coffee now. I really do believe in the power of green juices and eating raw and even though I fell off the wagon awhile ago, I’d really like to get back on and pursue a semi-raw lifestyle again. I say semi-raw because 100% raw is impossible for me and I wouldn’t want that. But 50% raw maybe? Now you’re talkin!
So my week’s challenge of eating food for only $5 a day + anything in the pantry is over and thank god. Unfortunately, in Los Angeles especially since it’s so expensive to live here, sometimes the cheapest foods are the unhealthiest. And even though I made a conscious effort last week not to buy junk food (like chips, frozen foods, sweets, etc), a week’s worth of bagels (whole grain, mind you), eggs, and cheese is enough to make anyone’s health plummet a little bit. My wallet may have thanked me last week but my digestion nor my energy did not! I was fatigued the whole time, my focus at work was fuzzy, I was yawning every two hours, and my skin was turning dry and flaky and a little pale. Not good. So what did I learn?
Of course, there is a learning lesson behind everything and making myself do this food challenge taught me to really think carefully about all my food purchases and what I spend my money on. It made me realize that the afternoon hot chocolate from across the street is absolutely unnecessary and the $15 salad with goat cheese from next door is absurd. I learned to plan carefully, not let anything go to waste, and monitor my mindless spending when it came to things like packs of $2.99 Juicy Fruit gum, $1.75 coffee at night, a cup of $4.95 gelato from the market….it adds up!
Anyways, as much as I’d like to only spend five measly dollars a day on food, my body was begging me to cleanse a little from all the dense foods I had been ingesting. Here is a little rundown on some of the things I’ve been noshing on. It’s soooo nice to be back on a healthy kick, by the way. I think I’m going to juice in the mornings for a little bit to get my organs back into gear, followed by my usual cup of joe (because I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a coffee addict and nothing will come between me and that little cup of steaming hot caffeine.) I’m going to try and go raw until dinner, too, but don’t be surprised if I sneak in some cooked foods every now and then for my nooner meal.
Before I go through a reel of my healthy foods this past week, let’s take a look at what I did with pantry items to save some money.
Ah, the good old tuna sandwich. I found a can of tuna in the pantry (zero dollars for me to spend) and had some Ezekiel bread in the freezer, which I toasted and then proceeded to cut off the edges. How elementary school of me, no? I melted string cheese (zero dollars yet again because we have a HUUUGE pack from Costco), some lettuce from the garden and paprika and chili powder.
FAGE greek yogurt is my favorite. I get a large container of 2% yogurt and it’s $4.99 a container, and it lasts me for a good four to five days. I found a really old ruby grapefruit in our fridge (I know, ewww…) but it was still good! No mold or defects. So I drizzled honey over the whole thing and called it a day.
Ha, this was my gourmet lunch. We always have sweet onions lying around so I sauteed a giant onion with some sundried tomatoes I found in our pantry in melted butter, olive oil, and garlic. Then, I pulled out some frozen fish from Costco (I HATE eating farm raised fish but then again, I was on a budget) and baked it in tin foil in olive oil, herbs, and spices. Mmmmm! Very tasty although the thought of ingesting farm raised fish really grossed me out the whole time. Farm raised is BAD! Unless you’re saving money and need to have fish, always go for fresh.
Mmmm pizza. I had frozen cornmeal pizza crust in the freezer from decades ago and poured a container of pesto sauce over it, then layered string cheese and red pepper flakes on top. Baked in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. It came out super oily (what was I thinking with all that pesto) and the crust tasted stale. BLAH! That’s what I get for eating a thousand year old crust from the freezer!
So there you go. I may have saved some good money but my energy completely plummeted! Onto the healthy foods….
Am I the only one who thinks we should have four day work weeks and three day weekends?? I truly believe that if we did, everyone would be ALOT happier, MORE productive, and WAY LESS stressed. The weekends fly by too quick – what gives?? I absolutely love my job but I love hanging out at home with a cocktail so much more.
Onto Monday. I really wanted to go to the gym this morning but for one thing, I was SUPER sore from spinning and core work this weekend. My thighs were on fire. Secondly, I had to take a few puffs of my asthma inhaler at, like, 3:30am and my medication can make me sleepy. So everytime I use it in the middle of the night, it makes me extra tired when I’m supposed to wake up in the morning. No worries, I’ll just go to the gym tomorrow. I’m trying not to turn into a gym rat and get completely burnt out on exercise, which has always been my problem. Nice and slow, steady I go is my motto these days.
Breakfast was black coffee (very healthy. NOT!) in this super duper cool cup I got from Bed, Bath & Beyond. How hilarious is it?? And it’s totally recycable and microwavable. See, I have this bad habit of constantly heating and re-heating my coffee. The problem is that when I re-heat coffee in a regular to-go coffee cup, the bottom gets burnt and it leaves a foul stench in the room. But this cup from Copco is awesome – it looks and feels like a regular to-go coffee cup but with all the benefits. And for some reason, there is pyschological satisfaction when it comes to having your coffee in a to-go cup…I don’t know why. When I drink coffee out of a mug, it’s not the same. I am weird.
Lunch was made at home. I have so many groceries in the fridge, I feel guilty going somewhere to eat. So I made a rather healthy spinach and goat cheese salad with raw asparagus bits and lemon juice as the dressing. Then, I toasted a sandwich thin and made an open-faced sammie with spinach, a veggie patty, and tzatziki on a sandwich thin.
Oh, I ended lunch with a cup of steaming hot chocolate made with soymilk.
I planned to make dinner at home but Chris insisted we go out to instead so we hit up one of our favorite joints, 26 Beach, in Venice. I love this place. Their menu is enormous, the portion sizes are generous, the ambience is chill, and the quality of food is always consistently good. We shared an appetizer of fried jumbo shrimp and fries with tangy cocktail sauce (yum), and then for the entrees I got the grilled salmon salad with a soy dressing (see below) and Chris ordered his favorite Chicken Chipotle Pasta. I finished my entire salad except for a couple leaves.
After dinner, we were both craving something sweet so rather than ordering dessert at the restaurant, we opted to stop at the grocery store and pick up a medley of sweet treats, which included sour patch kids, chocolate covered pretzels, peanut brittle, ice cream, and s’mores. Sounds like we’re both PMSing. Nah, just one of us
Words cannot express how much I love asparagus. My favorite way to eat them is to roast them for about 20 minutes with plenty of celtic sea salt and pepper. That’s it. They come out perfectly seasoned and soft on the inside yet crisp on the outside. I could seriously eat a pound of roasted asparagus for dinner any night. PS: see that nonstick silpat beneath the asparagus stalks? It’s a must have for lazy people like me who hate having to scrub a cookie sheet clean. Awesome.
So how stoked am I??? We have a brand new Canon digital camera in the house! Yep, Chris purchased one so he’d be able to capture 2009 Thanksgiving memories – yay! With that being said, let’s move on to the most important topic: the food. I’m not going to dilly dally over the prep work that went into it, so I’m just going to skip ahead to the end product of what we indulged in.
Chris’ mom made some light and healthy apps (she found the recipe in Sunset Magazine): endive leaves topped with white beans and some herbs.
Cranberry from the jar. Chris’ mom also made her own (not pictured)
Gobble gobble. The turkey was stuffed with onion, rosemary and sliced lemon. I opted for the breast…and only had a little bit of it. Nice sepia filter on the picture, eh?
Here’s my plate at the table: a tiny bit of turkey, braised ‘n glazed carrots, sweet potato mash, a whole wheat roll, UH-mazing stuffing with mushroom and heavenly goodness, and a dollop of homemade cranberry sauce
Dessert was by me! Brioche bread pudding with raisins. I was way too lazy to make the recipe as it was stated so I eyeballed it which I know is (gasp!) a big no-no to eyeball when baking but you know what? It turned out soooo good. I also had it for breakfast this morning hehe
Get outta here and enjoy the rest of your holiday!!
This is going to gross some people out but I have an addiction to peanut butter. I have a jar of the 365 brand crunchy peanut butter from Whole Foods sitting on my desk with a spoon in it at all times. Every ten minutes, I take a teeny itsy bitsy amount and nibble on it. It’s sooo good but kind of disgusting at the same time (when you calculate how many calories I’m ingesting per hour.) I really need to mix things up by bringing in sliced bread and jam so I can have a toasted PB&J at the office.
What do you do when you have leftover Kings Hawaiian sweet bread, a handful of chocolate chips, and cream? You make an individual-sized bread pudding dessert. I pulled together some measly scrapings of the bread that we had sitting over from burgers, whipped up an egg with sugar and whipping cream, tossed in a small amount of chocolate chips and let the thing bake in this pint-sized ramekin (small size = less guilt!) Serve with decadent vanilla ice cream and share it with a lover. (Blackberry photo below = poor image quality)
PS: speaking of photos, we sent one of the broken Canon cameras in and they quoted us $110 to fix. How ridiculous is that?! Might as well spend a little extra money and get a brand new one…which is exactly what we are going to do. Hopefully we’ll have a newbie in time for holiday season.
I had Fatburger earlier in the week and was inspired to make my own this weekend. I’ve been too tired to cook during the work week so I’ve been eating on the go recently: grilled cheese sandwiches, Fatburger, falafel wraps from The Hungry Pocket, tuna melts from Whole Foods…I’m about to exhaust all possible lunch options in my work neighborhood of Santa Monica soon!
I wanted to make burgers for lunch so I picked up ground beef with 10% fat content from Whole Foods (on sale for only $3.99/lb) and I got a small pint-sized roll for my burger and a larger panini roll for Chris. When eating meat, cheese and bread, I definitely try to exercise some sort of portion control. A good example is Fatburger, who offers something called the “Baby Fat”, a 2.5 oz burger that weighs in at 400 calories. Considering it fills me up for about 7 hours until dinner time, that’s not too shabby.
Back to my burger. I made the patties by combining 1lb of the ground beef with 1 egg, 1/2 cup of chopped onions, a handful of minced parsley, salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of Panko breadcrumbs. I formed patty rounds and grilled them on the stovetop for about 4-5 minutes per side.
To assemble the burgers, I toasted the rolls then slathered them with mayo, ketchup, BBQ sauce and layered spinach, sliced cheese, tomatoes and the burger patty on top. Such a tasty and filling lunch!
What better way to end Saturday night than with a few back-to-back episodes of Flash Forward, a couple glasses of merlot and a decadent dinner of juicy steak with blue cheese sauce and buttery braised carrots. I was in the mood for steak so early in the morning, I headed over to Whole Foods to check out the butcher section to see what specials were going on. I hadn’t been in this department in Whole Foods in so long, it all looked foreign to me. But Mr. Butcher Man was kind, and recommended a sirloin cut that was on sale for only $6.99/lb. Not bad, considering the normal price was $10.99/lb. I love sales.
“I like my meat well done. How should I cook this steak without it being too tough?” Sure, I’m eating meat again but it has to be cooked to the millionth degree, and I won’t touch chicken or turkey just yet. White meat still gives me the shudders. To all my carnivore friends, it’s baby steps! Let me start with the red meat…and maybe I’ll move on to the other stuff
“Sear it then bake it in the oven for awhile!” Mr. Butcher Man replied. “You can’t go wrong with that!”
After googling numerous recipes for a blue cheese sauce to accompany the steak, I finally settled on this INCREDIBLE one from The Pioneer Woman, which I have to say, is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs right now. Awesome photography, awesome pics (makes me want to buy a new camera right now and not waste another minute using the iPhone and Blackberry to take my crappy pics. Booooo!!) The sauce recipe was too simple: butter, onions, blue cheese, cream. Yeah, boy. You basically caramelize the onions, stir in heavy cream and cook it down so it thickens slowly, then add crumbled blue cheese.
Chris simple seasoned the steak with salt and pepper and took care of grilling, then baking it. As for the braised carrots, I followed another simple recipe from Mark Bittman of The New York Times. Rather than printing out the recipe, I just watched his video short, which you can view here for the “Braised & Glazed” carrots. Again, super simple: sliced carrots, butter, orange juice, and ginger.
The carrots smelled like nothing I had ever smelled before and tasted divine. It was somewhat sweet with a ginger tang and the butter added a rich, tasty, filling edge to the dish. We didn’t have dill (which the recipe called for) but a squirt of lemon juice at the end provided a refreshing citrus shot that cut through the butter and was the perfect complement. What can I say, butter is heaven sent. Check out the dinner below. It’s an iPhone picture, but kudos to Chris for trying to capture it in a more artistic angle.
One of my most favorite food blogs is At First Bite NYC, which is run by Lucky magazine editor, Noria Morales. A girl who loves her food and fashion? Now that’s what I call a Perfect 10! In addition to a writing style that brings the food to life (no wonder she’s a fashion writer), Noria also has an awesome approach to food. She pretty much eats everything and takes the reader on a culinary journey through all sorts of NYC eateries. I don’t eat meat, but reading some of Noria’s posts makes me want to feast on some prosciutto or juicy steak. (Once again, I’m a pescetarian – I eat NO meat except fish and eggs - because of health/digestive reasons, NOT because of animal rights), so don’t be surprised if I blog about a breakfast of scrambled eggs and pancetta down the road. I was going through AFB the other day and Noria’s post on arepas totally caught my attention and had me looking up places on YELP to find arepas in my neighborhood.
Mission accomplished! Apparently, there’s a place in Santa Monica (perfect!) called Cafe Bolivar, which got rave reviews from patrons about their arepas. Before I go any further with my story, if you don’t know what an arepa is, according to WIKI it’s a type of bread made from corn (so wheat-free + gluten-free) originating from South America but it’s more known as a type of Venezuelan mini-sandwich (and do I mean mini. The arepas from Cafe Bolivar were seriously the size of my palm, which makes them perfect for portion control.) So, of course, I had to try. Fast forward to today and I called ahead to place an order for pick-up. Since their arepas are made to order (as most are), it would take about 20 to 25 minutes. Minimum order is 2 for $6, so I ordered the tuna salad (solid white albacore tuna with bell peppers, tomatoes, red onions, extra virgin olive oil and mayo) and the one with Mango, Avocado, Panela cheese, rosemary and roasted garlic aioli. On the side was a little container of what tasted like cilantro pesto. YUMMY! I thought that the two pint-sized sandwiches weren’t going to fill me up but believe it or not, I couldn’t even finish my second one. I’m definitely going back here for more arepas. So sorry for the sucky quality of my pictures (taken with my Blackberry). I need to get my camera fixed, I know.
The tuna salad arepa
The mango/avocado arepa
In case you happen to be near Ocean Park and 17th in Santa Monica, stop by here. This is the full menu of arepas, so choose as you please:
1. Black beans and panela cheese
2. Plain cheese with your choice of gouda or panela cheese
3. Solid white albacore tuna with bell peppers, tomatoes, red onions, extra virgin olive oil and mayo
4. Jamon cooked with our choice of panela cheese or gouda
5. Mango, Avocado, Panela cheese, rosemary and roasted garlic aioli
6. Chicken breast and avocados with rosemary and roasted garlic aioli
Ayara Thai Cuisine is by far THE best thai place in the ‘hood. If you live around the Westchester area near LAX I urge you to go there. Service is impeccable and food is amazing. The curry dishes especially are not heavy at all, which is usually the case with Thai and Indian food at times. We ordered delivery because we wanted to enjoy the dinner in our own backyard, sipping on wine and taking our time without worrying about having the table turned over by a waiter. We got sticky rice (of course), a shrimp and veggie curry dish, sauteed vegetables (incredible!) and the green papaya salad. Sooooo good.
Why spend close to $8 at Whole Foods for a jar of almond butter when you can make your own at home? I don’t know why I haven’t done it sooner but I did this weekend and it was so easy, I couldn’t believe it. I bought a bag of roasted almonds from Trader Joes, dumped about 2/3 of the bag into a food processor, added a dash of salt and let the thing spin and whirl for about 4 minutes. First, the nuts got crushed into nut dust and then all of a sudden the oils began releasing and voila! Almond butter! So far I’ve made almond butter jelly sandwiches, dipped frozen bananas in there, and eaten it straight off the spoon. What can I say, I love my almond butter
I have owned Giada de Laurentiis’ DVD set from her earliest “Everyday Italian” days for about five years now …FOREVER. Last week, I busted them out to watch at home because I have no television and no internet (disconnected both!) so all I can really do for entertainment is listen to music CDs, watch DVDs or read books. I watched her BRUNCH episode and got inspired to make her recipe for a Frittata with Asparagus, Tomato and Fontina Cheese except I changed it up a bit. I went to the farmers market early Saturday morning and picked up some sweet peppers and fresh farm eggs that were picked the day before according to the vendor – how cool is that? I used the peppers instead of tomato and I added smoked gouda cheese because I didn’t feel like getting a block of fontina from the market I was worried the thing would stick to our All Clad pan but I buttered it so well that after I finished it off in the broiler, it slid right out of the pan. Perfection! I sliced it into 8 wedges and helped myself to two
I’m 95% over that nasty sinus cold bug I caught over the weekend, which had me laying like a limp doll on the couch sniffling, coughing, blowing my nose, exhausted….yuck! Something is going around because I know so many people who are going through the same deal – I guess it’s the new season and all. Luckily, I think all my juicing and healthier eating has boosted my immune system somewhat because it would normally take me a good five full days to recover from something like this and this time it only took me around two and a half days to feel better. Not bad!
So this morning I happily bounced into the kitchen with a renewed sense of energy and whipped up delicious breakfasts for Chris and I. Always inspired by Amanda at The Grains of Paradise, I made a breakfast wrap for Chris. Mandy made a mediterranean version (which is soooo yummy) but I made him a California version (hehe) which consisted of avocado – that’s the California part – with salami and cheese. I used this awesome lavash wrap that I got from the farmers market near our house (only $1.99 for 18 pieces!! What a great deal! And healthy, too) and then grilled the whole thing on our Le Creuset grill pan. I loved hearing the crisp, crackle and crunch noise of the wrap when I cut it in half – it was perfect and Chris inhaled everything down to the last bite. He gave me the thumbs up. Woohoo! Again, it’s an iPhone picture
And for me? I made a super tasty cucumber, carrot, ginger juice and used one of those disposable juice cups you get at the juice bar. It makes it more fun to sip, I think Note the pretty light orange color.