Monday, December 29, 2008


Anyone else overindulge in goodies this Holiday? I tell you, I have eaten my fair share of good, fattening food. And not even really sweets, just things like scalloped potatoes with cream & butter, creamy soups, fatty steaks.... Boy-o-boy. And then last night I roasted a duck. And you know, the amount fat that is in duck skin is just beyond words. This is what came off of my duck last night -- over 2 cups -- and believe me when I say that there was plenty left in the skin! And who can resist that! Crispy duck skin... oh MAN.  (yes, of course I kept the duck fat! it's in the freezer.) 

Last night's dinner was the last straw though. Seriously. I just can't take much more. I haven't gained any weight, but I know I'm pushing my luck. We have dinner reservations at Port on New Year's Eve, and I'll totally be having the filet and lobster, but other than that I am going to try and get back to a more healthy menu. Get back to our normal eats! I feel almost like I do after spending a few days in New Orleans. You just hit that fat overload.
So tonight, it's mashed potatoes with kale and salmon. I chopped the kale very small, then boiled it in water with 1/4 cup red wine, a little salt and some granulated dried garlic. Then I processed the potatoes through the ricer, added the kale and some chicken stock to make it creamy.  

Once mixed, I added a few tablespoons of fresh grated Gruyere for flavor and richness, since a little goes a long way. That's it. No butter, no cream. It was refreshingly light, fluffy, and just delicious. Even my toddler scarfed it! 

Then just salmon, simply grilled with salt, pepper, garlic and lemon. :)  Ahhhh....  It's like an ice cold glass of water on a hot day. Refreshing!

Monday, December 22, 2008


Don't be frightened. It's better than you think. Like lemonade with just a hint of lavender in the background. And It's not lavender massage oil you're using, this calls for fresh leaves. The edible kind. I prefer the tender new growth personally. The flavor is just barely there, and the lemon really brightens and lightens the warmth of the lavender. You can find fresh lavender in some health food stores, and I have also seen it at Whole Foods. I picked mine while out on a walk the other day. Don't like booze? No problem! This is awesome with Perrier too!

So, Merry Christmas everyone! It's been pretty busy, and we've been gone a lot, so there hasn't been a whole lotta cooking going on here lately. And what I have cooked is just the average boring stuff you throw together when you're hungry and have no energy and very little time to get food on the table, definitely not blog material. Hey... here we had buttered noodles, and here we had an omelette. Big whoop.  So instead of letting the blog sit here dormant, I just decided to do another cocktail post. Because it's slightly possible that people might be looking for cocktail recipes for holiday parties, right? 

Why lemon and lavender? I have no clue where I got the idea, but it just works. 

~2 oz Belvedere Vodka
~4 teaspoons simple syrup (50% water 50% sugar dissolved)
~2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
~1 heaping teaspoon fresh lavender leaves. I suppose you could also use dried?
~paper thin lemon slices for garnish

Add crushed ice, vodka, lemon juice & syrup to shaker -- massage lavender leaves lightly to release the oils and add to shaker also. If your lavender seems really potent (there are different varieties), cut to half teaspoon or less -- you can always add more later. The point is to have a very faint lavender aroma in the background, not for this to taste like you're eating a Glade air freshener. So anyway, shake well.... Serve in chilled glass. Garnish with the paper thin lemon slices. 

For a NON-alcoholic version, use 7-up or sparking water instead of the vodka. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I really don't make cocktails often. Maybe a glass of wine now and then, but I'm so not a mix-master of any kind. But for some reason I have been in a martini mood lately. But not traditional martinis, nontraditional ones. Hence the Acai Berry Amazon from the other day. 

Today I was looking at a plate of fudge my husband got from one of his customers and the next thing you know I had out the Bailey's, milk, and the shaker. 

White Christmas Fudge Martini
1 ounce Stoli Elite Vodka (or my favorite, Belvedere)
2 ounces Bailey's Irish Cream
2 ounces Milk
Whipped Cream (optional)
1 piece of any kind of Christmas Fudge

Add liquids to shaker. Add ice and shake well. Pour into martini glass and garnish with fudge and whipped cream.

Kids obviously can't have Bailey's, but they CAN have whipped cream on their hand! 

Friday, December 5, 2008


Acai Berry is all the rage. Well, in California anyway.

It has powerful antioxidant capabilities. Some believe it promotes weight loss. The juice, in my opinion, is delicious.  

Acai Berry supplements are sold in most vitamin shops, but the juice is not that easy to find. The berries are highly perishable, so you will only find it in pill or juice form. I found this juice at Whole Foods.

Acai Berry Martini
Makes 2 - 3 oz. Martinis

2 oz. Acai Berry Juice
2 oz. Belvedere Vodka
2 oz. Hendrick's Gin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice

Add sugar, vodka and gin to shaker. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add ice and lime juice and shake vigorously. Pour and serve with a lime twist garnish. 

For a non-alcoholic martini -- substitute sparkling water or 7-up in place of the alcohol. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Amazing! She ate it! My 20 month old daughter, Charlotte, actually ate a chicken fritter I made, spiked with flax seed and broccoli!  This kid. I tell you. She eats nothing right now. She eats hot dogs. And potatoes. And sometimes, eggs. That's about it. And everything needs a ranch chaser. It's really frustrating. This is not my fault.

She used to eat everything. She ate what we ate, no matter what it was -- I never even fed her baby food. Then all of a sudden, it just stopped about 2-3 months ago and I have no idea why? I read recently on the baby blog that Anthony Bourdain is trying really hard to get his daughter to also eat normal food. Well, his daughter is about a month or so younger than mine, so I wish him luck. And the story made me feel a little better, because at least I know I'm in good company. 

Charlotte also eats salmon, but you shouldn't feed salmon to small children more than maybe once or twice a week. So every day it's a struggle. I make something for her, and she usually just throws it down to the dog. Grrrrr! I try new stuff, I try repeating stuff she's already had (some experts say they have to try something an average of 8 times before they'll eat it) but most days it just gets tossed. 

I roasted a chicken last night, and today was removing the meat from the bones so I could make stock. I decided I'd try some chicken fritters. Unbelievably, she ate it! For the record, they WERE delicious (but I make yummy things all the time, it doesn't mean little miss fussy eater will agree).

1 cup finely diced chicken meat
1/4 cup finely chopped cooked broccoli tops
1 egg
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp Flax seed
3 Tbsp bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp milk or half & half
2 Tbsp Wondra

Mix all ingredients together. Should be thick and sticky, and easy to form patties. Coat patties with Panko breadcrumbs and fry in a generous amount (bottom of pan completely covered) of half olive, half canola oil. Fry until golden.   

Look at how crisp they are.
Intensely crisp outside, tender inside. So flavorful! And although it's fried, it is not at all greasy.

The ranch dressing ..... Ugh.  But she ate. That's all you care about after a while. 

My plate looked a little different than hers. 

The ranch aftermath. The gloss her head, face, hair and hands are covered with -- ranch. Ewww.

Monday, December 1, 2008


This Thanksgiving, instead of turkey, we had Kalua Pork. The inspiration came from a recent trip to Maui. My husband really isn't crazy about turkey, so I thought I'd just make something else this year. Last year I make turkey leg osso bucco, and that was really good, and a nice change-up also. 

My recipe for the Kalua Pig comes from a native Hawaiian. Not everyone has a big pit in their yard to throw a whole pig into, obviously, but you really don't have to have one to get a nice replica of the real deal. It's extremely simple, and each ingredient is very important. You must have the banana and ti leaves. Simply wrapping the pork in foil alone will not do. The leaves lend a particular aroma that is key to get the right flavor. And since you won't be cooking this with real coals, you need to use the liquid smoke. And the cut. You need pork butt. It is the fattiest. The pork ends up basically being almost poached in it's own fat. How bad could that be?!

I start by laying out 2 very large pieces of heavy duty foil, one vertical, one horizontal, with enough overlap to wrap over the pork later. Then, few pieces of string in the pan, 2 pieces each way also -- then lay down a bed of overlapping ti leaves (wash them before use). 

Lay your pork butt inside, and cut slits into the meat.

Season with liberally with salt, and pour the liquid smoke over the pork, then rub in the salt and smoke flavoring well into the pork and into the grooves and slices on top. Finally, lay the whole bananas on top of the meat (I didn't get a picture of that). 

Cover the pork with more ti leaves, and then gently fold them to cover pork. The strings you laid out in the beginning - tie them snugly over the top of the ti leaves. Lastly, wrap the pretty package in the foil, adding additional foil to the top if necessary. Try to avoid holes in the foil. You want the juices to stay inside.  

Into the oven, 325-350, 45 minutes per pound.  When done, remove from the leaves, discard bananas, and shred pork. 


4-5 pound pork butt
2-3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
4-6 ti leaves (easy to find at most Asian groceries)
2 whole, unpeeled bananas (as green as you can find).

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I've had good and sorta good and not really good at all liver pate. For me, I prefer my pate smooth as silk, and to have a faint sweetness. And I like to have a slight aroma of the Cognac still there. These elements make, for me anyway, the perfect pate. 

Most of the chicken liver pate recipes out there are pretty much just carbon copies of each other, so I had to write my own recipe for it, tailored to my own preference. It's velvety and delicious! 

Here's how it goes ...
I start by soaking the livers in milk. 

And I use sweet onions.  

It's fast to make too. Onion saute, then add the livers, then the liquids. Remove livers when they are medium, and reduce liquids. Let mixture cool, then into the processor for a quick whirl. 

Fill the ramekins, then top with clarified butter. And, maybe a few whole peppercorns for a bite. Chill. 



1 pound fresh chicken livers, cleaned
1 cup milk
10 tablespoons cold butter
1 stick of butter - clarified
1 cup chopped sweet onion, such as Mayan, Walla Walla or Maui
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons green peppercorns, or 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon good sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup Cognac + 1 tablespoon
4 tablespoons good red wine

To Prepare

Soak livers in milk for 2 hours. Drain well. 

In saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons butter and saute onions, thyme, peppercorns, bay & rosemary on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until onions are translucent (do not brown). Add garlic and saute 5 minutes more. Add the chicken livers and gently saute a few minutes, then add 1/4 cup Cognac, red wine and sugar. Continue to cook over med heat until livers are brown on the outside, but still slightly pink inside (not red, just slightly pink). Remove livers to a plate so they don't overcook, and continue to cook liquids until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let livers and mixture cool at room temp. Discard bay leaves, and any stems from the thyme. 

While waiting to cool you can clarify your butter, you will need that to seal the top of the pate. 

Once cooled, put livers and mixture into food processor, along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of uncooked Cognac, and puree until completely smooth. Take remaining 6 tablespoons of the cold butter and cut into cubes -- Add butter to the puree in pieces, pulse to blend making sure it is completely incorporated. 

Fill small ramekins 2/3 full and carefully spoon clarified butter over the top to seal. The butter should completely seal the top of the pate, so depending on the type of dish you use, you may need more clarified butter.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving so it has a chance to really firm up.  

Serve with fresh, warm french bread or toasted slices of baguette. I don't like capers or cornichons with my pate, I never did understand the pairing -- to me they do not go together. I prefer figs or a good orange marmalade to bring out the sweetness in the pate. Sort of like you'd serve with foie gras. 

Pate can be stored in the refrigerator with unbroken butter seal for up to 2 weeks. 

Monday, November 17, 2008


Last night's dinner was a Veal cutlet - browned in a skillet and  topped with a Chanterelle and Morel mushroom white wine sauce. Side dish was a simple spaghetti with brown butter and a splash of cream. Our neutralizer to this rich Sunday dinner was an vinaigrette Arugula salad. 

Simply seasoned, salt and pepper. The flour I used to coat the cutlets had a little onion and garlic powder, as well as s&p also. 

I used dried mushrooms. I reconstituted them in a little boiling water (about 1/2 C). I reserved the lovely flavored water to add to the sauce later. 

Lightly coat the cutlets with the flour mixture, and brown in a hot pan of olive and canola oil. 

The mushrooms were chopped and sauteed for a minute in a little butter.

Then I added about 1/2 C Chardonnay and reduced until almost gone.

Lastly, I added the reserved mushroom broth with about 2 cups of homemade chicken stock. Let it reduce by two thirds, and then finished it with a pat of butter and a small splash of half & half. 

For the pasta ... 
I have started using this brown rice pasta I found at Trader Joe's. It's actually really good. I actually don't like brown rice, but that is mostly just because of texture. This pasta is good, tastes every bit as good and chewy as white pasta, but it has an aroma of rice. It's nice. And, much healthier than bleached white pasta. They way I look at it, it helps compensate a little for the brown butter and cream I added to the noodles. :)

Browned butter. We all love it, don't we? It's so good on so many things! The tasty little bits of browned cream that give all the flavor are obviously where all the yum comes from. Wanna know how to get more without using tons of butter?  

Yeah. Powdered milk. And no, I'm not kidding. Add a little sprinkle to your butter in the pan as it's melting and let the pieces of dehydrated milk brown with the butter.

Some final words.
I love veal, who doesn't... But I never buy it at the grocery store. I don't buy veal when I don't know where it came from -- I am an animal lover and I will only purchase free range Veal. But this was a rare exception. I saw 3 packages of Veal at Von's supermarket, in the "marked-down bin." It still had a few days left before the pull date, so it was still good, but they always throw out food a few days before their exp date, so I didn't want to chance it. Because the only thing worse than veal from an animal that has been been inhumanely raised, is when it is then thrown out as garbage. To me that is the ultimate in disrespect. So as hard as it was for me to buy this, at the same time it was impossible not to. I just had to get that off my chest.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


(you like food p*rn? go ahead, click it. you know you wanna.)
When you were a kid, and you roasted marshmallows, did you like them barely toasted, or totally black? I liked them burnt to a crisp. And as an adult, I still like them super-crispy. Eat off the crispy layer, and re-char it. Oh yeah. 

Speaking of marshmallows. I bought a bag of mini marshmallows for a fudge recipe I recently acquired. The ingredients for the fudge have been sitting there for weeks -- I'm not into sweets too much. But for some reason, my mind has been crazy with recipe ideas lately. Maybe it's because I was on vacation and away from the kitchen for a week? 

The inspiration for this recipe came from the season. I have never seen anything like it before, but candied yams were always a favorite of ours at Thanksgiving. I don't know why, but I saw those marshmallows in the cupboard, and I had a vision;  pork + marshmallows = maybe something really good?  And guys, it works! Very well :)

I figured, for this recipe, the boneless loin chops would be best. 

Coat pork with veg oil and season simply with salt and pepper. 

Sear chops on a really hot cast iron pan, about 2 minutes on each side, then transfer to a 500 degree oven. Cook 4 minutes on each side for a 2" thick chop. Remove pan from oven. Increase the oven heat to broil. 

Add marshmallows to chops. Put chops on bottom rack (so marshmallows melt slower, and don't burn).  Cook until desired marshmallow doneness. 

Here's MY chop. :)

A-MAZING. This was every bit as good as it looks. The pork was tender and juicy, and the marshmallow candy crust was crunchy on the outside, gooey underneath -- My only complaint was that there wasn't enough marshmallow!