Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nana-Fana Chocolate Chip Muffins

As usual, I have some catching up to do. A normal theme in my life...

But I wanted to share some pics and tempt you with these banana chocolate chip muffins. I don't remember why I made them. I think I made them just because I could.

Or, maybe it was because I have had this large bag of chocolate chips in my fridge for some time now. So I think I had just decided that it was time to do something with them.  I decided on a banana-fanna chocolate chip muffin. Oh, I also have some new-ish to-the-building-neighbors, so I wanted to give them a little "welcome to the building" gift. So there, that's why.

Can we just be happy today with some nice pics and my cute-but-useless intro?

So that I don't have to bother with finding the recipe for you???

Can we be happy with that? Is that ok??

Well, just in case it isn't, I think I actually used the recipe found here. Ok, are you all happy now? Can I finally go back to watching Top Gun and finish my glass of zin? Thanks!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Parmesan "Swamp Thing" Kale Chips

mmmmm..... cheese and kale. Sounds yummy, no??? Well, it is. Just toss some chopped up curly kale with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and parmesan, and bake in a fairly hot oven for 10-15 minutes, and you have yourself a yummy little addictive snack. One little trick I learned during some kale chip experimenting, is that using older and slightly dried out curly kale is best. It seems that the moisture in fresher kale can prevent them from a perfect crisp. Seems obvious, though, now that I said it, yeah??

Think they still don't sound appetizing to you? I know, they do look like you may be eating something off of the Swamp Thing. But not to worry, Dick Durock won't mind. In fact he would probably enjoy these too. And afterall, I did get a pretty picky 2 year old to really enjoy eating kale, by making these tempting little snacks for him. So enjoy your kale! The "vegetarians vegetable".

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Indoor Picnic Time!

Marinated Portobello Sliders with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, and Sweet Potato Fries

It's July, and it's summer time, and that means that it's the perfect time of year for some picnic-ing. And I love me a great picnic! So even though it was a Friday evening after an exhausting week of work,   I still had me a little picnic, indoors. I dusted off my George Foreman grill, and got to work on this simple and completely satisfying meal.

I marinated these mini portobello mushrooms in a mix of teriyaki, light soy sauce, fresh garlic, olive oil, black pepper, and some lime juice. Let them sit for a few hours, covered, in the fridge. And when it came time to start dinner, I simply grilled them on my countertop grill...

While the mushrooms are working, I baked up some sweet potato fries. First, coating them in a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, dried parsley, and cayenne. Then laid them in a single layer on a sheet pan and baked at 400 for maybe 15-20 minutes. 

I had this sun dried tomato pesto that I prepared the day before. It's totally delish, and I thought it would taste great on my little portobello sliders. In this pesto, we have sun dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Yum...

I toasted the slider buns on the grill, and grabbed a handful of arugula, sliced some gruyere cheese, and popped a chilled bottle of vino, and our picnic was on the table...

I can't wait to make these again! Aren't they cute?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Plum and The Goat

Arugula Salad With Baked Goat Cheese, Plum, and Blueberries
Today wasn't a bad day. It started out pretty good, then it had some incredibly frustrating moments, then it got good again, and it ended on a fine note, really. And funny how all I can think about is the really frustrating part of my day. It's just that I can't help but to wonder why in the world did that part of the day go the way that it did. I have this feeling that there was some sort of rhyme and reason behind it all. Or, maybe I just like to think that there is some secret hidden reasoning behind things that just don't seem to make any sense. Ah well. It was only an hour out of the day, so let's get over it already!

And let's think about this dish that I made for dinner. Now, I had this similar dish at a popular little place in Berkeley, called Jupiter. We ordered the arugula and plum salad as an appetizer, and their fancy mushroom pizza to share as an entree. The pizza was a hot mess. And not in a good way. It was over baked and had hardly any mushrooms. booo! But the salad was delish! And the live band, atmosphere, and my date surely made up for the poor pizza.

So tonight, after a pretty long day of driving, interviewing for a new position, more and more driving in terrible and even worse traffic, with cops out at every turn and street sweepers down every other street, taking a few too many wrong turns, and tunnel traffic, and..... ok, then a few hours of working in a catering kitchen, getting home, cleaning my own kitchen, and walking my dog, it was finally time for me! To sit down and enjoy a simple meal and a nice chill glass of vino. Finally.

I had a perfect ripe plum and some blueberries that needed to be used up, and a little log of herbed goat cheese. I decided to re-make the lovely little arugula plum salad from our evening out at Jupiter.

I coated a small ball of goat cheese in oiled panko bread crumbs, and sliced up a fresh baguette, and baked both till the bread were crusty little soldiers, and the goat cheese was just melty.
Tossed the arugula and blueberries in a simple olive oil and white balsamic dressing...
And my day is complete with these purty little crostini's...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jolly Green Pancakes, Lime Butter & Cherry Thai Basil Sauce

Pancakes. Is there anything better than a fluffy, warm, buttery pancake? I mean, really?? Well, ok, there are probably a few things better, but not by much. And especially if you are in the mood for pancakes, nothing else will curb that craving.

Now let's think about pancakes for dinner. Ohhh yes! Now we are talking! So it was well past breakfast time, and not even in the area for brunch, and I was in the mood for pancakes. So what better way to celebrate dinner time, than with a big plate of savory sweet pancakes.

I recently became the happy owner of Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Plenty, and this is where my savory pancake idea became a reality. I wasn't the only one out there wanting a savory pancake to sink my fork in. So I set out to make his dish, that you can find here.

A few days prior, I picked up a small bag of cherries, because I simply couldn't resist them. They were sitting so pretty and practically singing my name. I was hesitant because I have a slight allergy to raw fruits. But the cherries were at a quite reasonable price, so I picked some up. I figured I would try a few in their raw state, and see if I have any reaction. And If I did have an allergic reaction, (which I did), I would make a sauce or syrup from them, (which I did).

I also had some stunning Thai basil, so thought I would combine the two to make a savory sweet syrup sauce...
To make the sauce, simply throw the cherries and basil leaves into a pot, add a few pinches of sugar and a little bit of water, and bring to a simmer to let the cherries cook down. 
Once the cherries are cooked, and cooled, you can easily take the pits out. Remove the basil leaves. Taste and adjust sugar if necessary. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Lastly, strain to get rid of the skins.

Next let's move on to the lime butter for the pancakes. In mine, I used butter, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, cilantro and salt...

Mashed all that together and rolled into a log shape using parchment paper...
And finally it is time to start on the pretty little pancakes! Finally! I really liked the batter recipe for these, as it calls for whipped egg whites as a leavener. Awesome. I chose to do this by hand rather than using my hand mixer, because I am not a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater! It just takes some elbow grease, which we all have somewhere in the depths of our kitchen...
And, as I always like to make my own mostly minor adjustments to recipes I find, I did make some small changes to this one. So rather than using spinach in the batter, I used parsley and cilantro in mine. I did do a taste test on the first cooked pancake, as I wanted to make sure that my cherry Thai basil sauce would be a compliment, and not an unnecessary accessory. And I found that the cakes definitely called out for a something sweet sauce. Because even though these are a savory pancake, they are still a pancake, that yearns for the safety and comfort of a sweet syrupy blanket.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Say Miso, You Say Miso, Now Go Miso Glaze Me Some Japanese Eggplant

Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant over Garlic Roasted Asparagus and Jasmine Rice, with Thai Basil, Scallion, and Toasted Sesame Seed
It's been an interesting few weeks here in my small island town of Alameda. So I have a few little stories to share with you today. Three main events come to mind so let's start with that and see where we go....

Let's first, and quickly, get the ugly out of the way. As some of you already heard, I had an almost-run-in with a large van about a week back. No, I wasn't in my car. And, no, I was not on my cell phone. Thank you very much. I was walking. With my tiny little angel-dog. In the cross walk. Thank you very much. Oh, and, yes, I had the right of way, as the little green man in the box was blinking at me, telling me to "go, it's your turn!".

And even now, I can't help but think what would have happened had I just been one or two steps ahead of where I was. If I hadn't paused that extra five seconds to let my dog sniff around in the bushes. Just exactly what would have happened? To me, and to my wee little girl that I cherish so much. I wonder....and I can't help but wonder if my dear passed momma has had anything to do with my just scooting out of any harm to come my way lately. If so, I hope so. I'd like to think that she is here, all around me, watching over me. I wonder.....

Luckily, this week has been starting off on a much brighter note. Again, this story involves my precious little pup, Rocky. She is actually the main star in this story. I am so proud to say that she has won herself on the Jones Soda label contest. Yay for Rocky! I submitted this picture to Jones Soda a few months back, when my best girlfriend suggested that I should submit it. It is definitely a cool shot...

It was taken at Crown Beach in Alameda. I noticed the bench, and of course, because I am kinda obsessed with taking pictures of things, especially my dog. I had to get some snaps. And, Rocky, being the perfect little poser dog, we got this awesome shot.

And just yesterday, I checked my mail box, and got the letter from Jones Soda...

And here is here label...look for it on your shelves today! We are pretty excited over here, and on the search for our very own bottles....

My final happy story for the day, is to share with you this amazing recipe I found of Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant. This is, afterall, supposed to be a food blog! I was craving a particular dish that I would order at Tamarine in Palo Alto. Theirs was a baked eggplant, with some sort of savory-sweet sauce, that was just addicting. So I decided to try a version of my own. I found this online recipe that I thought sounded pretty darn tasty. And it sure as heck-fire was!

I started with these gorgeous ingredients...Japanese Eggplant and Thai Basil

My only changes were that I used wine, a Rose cause that was all I had opened, in place of sake. And I used a bit more mirin because my sauce seemed to be too thick. I also added some chopped garlic to my sauce to give it more depth of flavor. I may have also added a touch of water to thin it out the sauce even more. And to round out my dish, I added some roasted asparagus with garlic, and Jasmine Rice. And garnished the plate with some chopped scallion, Thai basil, and toasted sesame seed.

As I sat down to saveur this dish, I had no idea that I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. It had beautiful bold flavors, and exciting textures. The miso glaze actually crisped up under the broiler, while the eggplant inside was soft and creamy. The cripsy, smokey, tangy, sweet glaze reminded me of the BBQ chicken I would eat as a kid. (You know, when you get a good piece with all that crispy chicken skin! ) And, as being a vegetarian today, boy, have I missed that flavor and texture combination.  I was so excited to have that experience again!

So, even to all of you eggplant haters out there, I highly recommend you give this dish a try. Trust me, you won't be disappointed :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Fungi Trifecta

Brown Buttered Corn Bread with Sauteed Mushrooms and Black Garlic
The fungus that we have among us today are shimenji, king oyster, and shitake. That last one, shitake, is not one of my favorites, as I think their flavor can be very overpowering, so their presence in my dish today is quite limited. But I do believe that they certainly have their place in the world of fungi. Which, by the way, is probably my all time favorite vegetable variety. I love their savoriness, earthiness, textures, and their elegant and organic shapes and colors. They are simply exquisite.

This is very reminiscent of a dish that I learned of from a former chef that I had the opportunity to work for. Ever since I saw his dish, I have been wanting to make a version of mine own. And in my last few trips to the Berkeley Bowl, I have been noticing something new. They started carrying black garlic. So I took that as a sign that it was time to make this dish.

I started by baking off a small pan of corn bread, then sauteed the corn bread in some browned butter, and set that onto a plate. I prepped my mushrooms, and sauteed them in some butter, garlic, salt and pepper, then laid them on top of the corn bread. I chopped up my black garlic, and arranged some beet tops onto the plate to add color and a fresh leafy texture. And there we have it folks, my mushroom trifecta!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Marinated Burrata

Heirloom Tomato and Basil Marinated Burrata
I absolutely love fresh and vibrant flavors, and colorful and lively food on a plate. So, what better way to spend a relaxing spring evening at home than with a beautiful plate of fresh burrata with baby heriloom tomato's and a Semifreddi's fresh baguette? Just add a chilled bottle of Francis Coppola Sofia Rose, a cozy spot on the couch, my pup and some good movies and it's going to be a fantastic night!

For this simple dish, I spiced it up just a wee-bit by toasting some fennel seed and then crushing it, to add to the marinade. I chopped some baby heirloom tomato's, minced some garlic, and chiffonaded some fresh basil. Tossed all that in a bowl with a light coating of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and let marinade for a bit. Gently cracked open the fresh burrata cheese and laid it out onto a plate. Then drizzled the tomato basil mixture onto the burrata, and sprinkled with fresh cracked pepper and lemon zest, and let that sit for about 30 minutes.

Slice up a french baguette, pour a glass of vino, press play on the remote, and... Cheers!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Empire State of Empanadas

I was in an empire state of empanadas recently. It was a few weeks ago, so yes, I am doing some catching up on my postings here. I was offered an assignment, to make 140 empanadas for a woman's 50th birthday party on Cinco de Mayo. And I gladly accepted the mission.

The details of my mission were simple. Make 70 pulled pork empanadas, and 70 black bean and corn empanadas. Yet, the actual work of completing these little pockets of goodness were not so simple. It was a time consuming process. So let's quickly get started on this review of my mission a la empanada madness....

The first thing I did after getting home with all of the needed ingredients, was to get the pork and its braising liquid prepared. I seared the pork to give the outside some color and flavor, and sauteed some onions and garlic. Then all the braising ingredients got tossed together in one large container...
dried chiles, oranges, onions, garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper.
...then covered with chicken stock, and covered with foil, and placed in the oven for a good four hours.

While the pork was cooking, I put together the black bean and corn filling...
black beans, corn, diced tomato, onion, garlic, jack cheese, fresh cilantro, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper.
Next, it was time to get started on the dough. Ohhh, the dough!! I used the same recipe that I used when I made empanadas in school. I was so proud of that dough as it came out beautiful, so I was hoping for the same results this time around.

I threw together the ingredients, and worked it up with my fingertips in the bowl. I remembered that the dough is supposed to be of "pea size" lumps, so it was looking good...
Then dumped the mix out onto a lightly floured work surface and formed into a ball...
The dough rested for 30 minutes, then it was ready to be rolled out...
And cut into small rounds...
I think I did all of this three or four times. I lost count. I needed a lot of dough, and I had to consider the size of my containers. So I just put my head down and focused. I became a dough making machine!

Then it was time for the filling and stuffing, folding and pinching, coating with egg wash, and finally baking! I did a few of the veggie ones first as a test batch...
And once those came out of the oven, nicely browned, perfectly delicious and melty in the center, I knew I was good to go on the whole lot. After making over 70 of the veggie ones, I moved on to the pulled pork...
I was pretty thrilled to finally get down to the very last batch, filling the dough and folding each one over into a half moon. Pinching the ends together gently but assertive. Laying the soft pillowy shapes down, and sealing the ends together with the twines of my fork. And lastly, brushing on the egg wash, and sliding the tray into the oven. Timer set for 15 minutes. Go!
Once they were all out of the oven, counted, and cooled, they were carefully laid to rest, side by side, like sardines in a can, so that they could travel easily to their final destination...
I chose to also make a fresh salsa verde as a dip, or dressing. Because I just can't seem to be happy with simply putting these on the plate alone. I mean, they are so much more than just some browned baked thing on a plate. They deserved to be dressed for the party too!