Category Archives: winter

Cassoulet for two…with a pretzel bread crust…

This French, succulent, stew made with white beans as a fundamental, is a one pot rustic dinner that will have you + one = swooning.  The dish gets its name from the pot in which it is cooked, the cassole, a cone shaped earthenware dish.  The shape of the dish helps to ensure a nice crunchy and luscious crust on the top.  So, traditionalists…close your eyes and cover your ears…well maybe to be safe, just stop reading now.  I did not make this dish in a cassole, nor did I use meat, not even a mirepoix involved in this recipe.  However, I was still seduced by this dish and its deep flavor and we had a simmering romance over the stove.  I made my own broth for this dish, it worked out perfect, wasting nothing.  Just throw in the scraps from the peeled vegetables and onions that you will use for the cassoulet into a pot with water, some pepper corns, a bay leaf and herbs, olive oil, some kosher salt, and let simmer to your desired depth of flavor.  The pretzel bread crust is just…well…just the unpredictable crispy balance to the earthy anchor of the stew.  Thank you honey, for being my anchor.

Cassoulet for two…with a pretzel bread crust…

1 ½ cup dried great northern white beans 

***In preparation you will need to soak your beans overnight.

water for the soak, just enough to cover the top of the beans.

1 large leek, rinsed and sliced

3 carrots, peeled and cubed

2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed.

¼ yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bouquet garni (again, no need to be super traditional use what herbs you have, but I would encourage the rosemary)

4-8 cups broth

salt and pepper

olive oil

pretzel bread baguette

canned whole tomatoes (I was fortunate to have a small jar of tomatoes that were canned this summer from my mother in law’s garden)…skip the tomatoes if you do not have a good version. You can add a touch of good quality tomato paste for flavor, and you may require more broth. 

*** This dish was made in a 2qt round dutch oven.

In olive oil, sauté leeks, onion and garlic over low heat until translucent.  Then add carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes. Let simmer for a couple minutes, stirring regularly.   

Add beans and 3-4 cups of broth (enough to cover beans and vegetables), salt, pepper, and the bouquet garni.  Let simmer on low heat mixing regularly until beans and vegetables are tender.  You may need to add broth throughout this process little by little.  Just ladle it in as necessary. You will have a thick stew in the end. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice pretzel bread baguette into thin coins.  Toast lightly.  Once the beans and vegetables are tender, form pretzel bread into concentric circles over the top of the dish and place in oven until set, crunchy, and lightly browned.  Garnish with a little fresh herbs. Serve right in the pot with two spoons.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Homemade garden burgers…

So hitting rock bottom can be an intimidating but exhilarating place to be.  I found myself sitting on the floor in sweats, eating a frozen, microwaveable, garden burger…rubbery patches and all.  No bun, just the burger and some melted cheese.   My little daughter came toddling over and said “bite?”, and my heart sank  as I shook my head and went scrambling for something worthy for her to eat.  Shameful performance mom. But… I will never cheat on good food again.   My instincts reminded me that I should not be eating food that I do want my daughter eating. I began to see my kitchen in a whole new way, why buy granola bars, I’ll make my own! crackers, those too!  So these garden burgers are not only delicious and healthy, but they can save you when you are in a cooking depressive state…or just in a pinch.  The recipe makes about 15 burgers and they freeze well, and don’t crumble apart when you cook them.   We toasted ciabatta bread and adorned the burgers with grain mustard, Havarti cheese, cornichon pickles, and crunchy lettuce.  Swoon.


Homemade garden burgers…

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup rolled oats processed into flour

2 cups breadcrumbs

½ cup sliced almonds

½ cup pepitas, toasted

3 large carrots, shredded

1 ½ cup black beans, smashed (dried preferably)

¾ cup dried cherries, chopped

1 small onion, diced and caramelized

1 tbs harissa powder

1 tsp gram masala

for the binder:

1 ½ cup water mixed with 3 tbs flax meal

Prepare the binder by mixing ingredients together and set aside.  Over medium-low heat, caramelize onions in olive oil.  Add all ingredients together and mix.  Then add the binder at the end and mix again until evenly combined.  Using your hands, scoop out palm sized portions and roll and flatten into paddies.  Reserve a few for dinner, and then freeze the rest. We fried ours on a pan with a little olive oil, but you can grill them or bake them at 350 in the oven on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes- flipping in the middle. 

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

Honey preserved lemons…

Over Thanksgiving we made a little road trip to see some family for some good eats and company over the holiday.  It is pretty amazing what one can grow and keep in Southern California. Pumpkins, zucchini, varieties of squash, herbs, lettuce, kale, orchards of lime and lemon trees, and soon to be persimmon trees, avocado trees, oh…and a handful of chickens, some playful cats, and the ever fetching pup. Their citrus trees were so heavy with fruit, the branches were literally breaking, so they spoiled us and sent us home with a trunk full of lemons and limes.  Now what to do with a mountain of citrus other than give some away and freeze the juices? Well, this little darling of a recipe is proving to come in more and more handy as we creep closer to winter.  A snotty nose here, cough there, sneezing here, fevers and chills there.  All of these little bugs are making the rounds and making us want to curl up on our couches with a hot cup of tea and a blanket.  These lemons are amazing in tea, minced in yogurt, on toast with herbed goat cheese, as a preserve in breads. I’m sure preserving tangerines, clementines, or oranges..oooh or blood oranges…would prove equally delectable and delightful. Raw honey has some amazing antimicrobial properties to it created by an enzyme left by our friends the bees, so the lemons will keep refrigerated for up to 3 months…if they hang around that long.  Also, let me know if you turn this into an adult libation, warm scotch or bourbon anyone?

Honey preserved lemons…

6-8 Meyer lemons, cut horizontally into rings (any variety will do, but I like the floral essence of Meyers)

1 cup raw honey

½ cup organic cane sugar

6-8 whole cloves

a cinnamon stick, just for fun


*You will also need sterilized jars any size.


In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of water, honey, sugar, and cloves to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and slowly add the lemons. Simmer for about 10 minutes.   Remove from heat and let steep covered, for 8 hours. Re-heat mixture to a low simmer, then slowly transfer to your jars.  Let cool to room temperature, then seal and refrigerate for a week before using. 

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

Asian noodles with kumquat relish…

Here is how my kitchen works, “Hey honey? Have you seen that 20% off coupon laying around anywhere?”, “No, why?”, “Well it has a recipe for relish written on it”, and “Oh dang it! I mailed my student loan bill, and the recipe for this noodle dish was on the back!”. I do have a notebook that I keep in the drawer by our stove, however I usually end up grabbing any piece of stray paper in sight and scramble to keep track of what I am doing.  I am a pinch here and a dash there kind of girl, so real time measuring is the only way I have any idea what I put into my dishes.  I cannot count the number of times I have mailed off a recipe, or went to go use a coupon and had to evaluate if the recipe was worth the 20% discount.  I do have to admit, I have a little fantasy that the recipes that accidentally get sent out into the universe will make some credit card-bill-envelope-opener a happy dinner one night.

This dish is all about the kumquat relish, tangy and sweet, balancing out the salty soy sauce that flavors the rest of the dish. Delicious and good for you.  We had this recipe tested out by one of our carnivorous foodie friends, and it passed with more than flying colors. So good it necessitated seconds. Plus, you get to buy kumquats which are super cute.

Asian noodles with kumquat relish…

1 8 oz package wild yam soba noodles

1 package firm tofu (we are lucky enough to have locally made)

4 scallions, sliced

2 crowns broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces

2 heaping handfuls of snap peas

1 tbs vegetable oil

2-3 tsp Sriracha sauce

soy sauce

toasted sesame oil

tofu marinade:

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

¼ tsp shredded fresh ginger

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic minced

kumquat relish;

10-12 kumquats

¼ cup orange juice

2 tbs peach preserves (or apricot)

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

¼ tsp shredded fresh ginger

pinch of salt

pinch of black sesame seeds

Begin by marinating the tofu.  Because tofu is so porous, it will absorb the flavor of anything in which it is soaked. However, to maximize flavor absorption, cut tofu into thirds so that it maintains its length and width, but you now have three thinner pieces, so cutting across the tofu’s tropic of cancer and tropic of capricorn if you will. Lay pieces on a plate wrapped in paper towels or a dry, clean dishtowel, and place another plate on top for 15 minutes.  This will help press the extra water out of the tofu.  In a shallow dish mix together marinade ingredients, add tofu coating all sides. Cover and let sit for at least one hour.  You can flip the tofu halfway through.

While tofu is marinating, begin kumquat relish.  Slice kumquats into thin coins.  De-seed.  Add orange juice to a small pot on low heat, add kumquats.  Then stir in preserves, ginger, oil, and salt to tastes.  At the end add the sesame seeds.  Set aside.

Boil noodles in salted water, making sure not to overcook. These noodles get very starchy, very quickly and will alter the taste of your dish if overcooked. I cooked these for six minutes exactly, and they were perfect. Then rinse under cold water.  Add a little soy sauce to the rinsed noodles, and mix.

In a pan over medium heat, add vegetable oil and Sriracha sauce and whisk together. Then add broccoli, snap peas, and scallions.  Coat evenly.  Allow to cook until tender but still crunchy.  Then finish with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.  Add noodles to the dish at the end.  Mix.

In a hot pan with vegetable oil, fry tofu until outer edges are caramelized and firm, careful not to burn.

Top vegetables and noodles with tofu sliced into squares, and a dollop of the kumquat relish.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

Streetwise a series on street food… savory potato and pea pancake with a cherry chutney…

Having never been to India, I will be honest, this recipe is all part of a daydreamy experience of what I imagine Indian street food to be like. I pieced together bits of stories from family and friends and my mind’s images from Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts, to create a savory chaat experience. Chaat is the generic word for small savory dishes usually served roadside. These pancakes are a nod to aloo chaat, a potato street-cart dish usually found in the north of India.  I made an easy cherry chutney, but really you can use any preserves you have. You can also serve this dish with my mint chutney if you would like a little heat,

This whole dish just fell out of the refrigerator and pantry. Tubers and peas are always winter staples and the chutney is a “use what you have” accoutrement. The warm, earthy spices are not overpowering but you immediately recognize India in there.

savory potato and pea pancake with a cherry chutney…


4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and shredded

1 yellow onion, shredded

½ cup peas

2 eggs

2 tbs flour

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp turmeric

large pinch of salt

1 tbs oil

1 tbs butter (or ghee if you are fancy)


2 heaping tbs cherry preserves

1 tbs rice vinegar

¼ cup roughly chopped red onion + 2 tbs extra

pinch of salt

½ tsp ground fresh ginger

small pinch of allspice

Prepare chutney in advance.  In a small pot, over medium-low heat, add ¼ cup chopped red onion, vinegar, preserves, ginger, allspice, and salt.  Cook until the onions soften. Remove from heat. Then purée in food processor or blender.  Pulse extra 2 tbs of onion in processor until coarsely shredded, or chop finely, then add to chutney, raw.

Place shredded potatoes and onion in a salad spinner or strain by hand in a hand towel, making sure to get out as much water as possible. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, flour, spices, and salt.  Whisk until well incorporated. Fold in potato/onion mixture, add peas.  Make sure mixture is evenly coated.  In a heavy pan over medium-high heat, add oil and butter.  Scoop out handful sized portions, place into pan and flatten.  Cook until crispy, 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Streetwise…a series on street foods… Coconut and chili toasted cashews…

Winter has me dreaming of travel, mostly for the warmth, but also for some color and energy and experience of the senses. Street food is one of the best ways to get to know a culture and to discover what the people and food are really about.  I always find myself wondering about the back story of the vendor’s lives, what their homes look like, their family, and what actually goes on their dinner table. I love the sounds of food being cooked, sold, bought, and wrapped up on the streets.  One scene in the film Monsoon Wedding has always particularly captivated me. It depicts a betrothed couple stopping for chai at a makeshift, roadside café. The colors, sounds, and the exchange between the vendors and customers shows a local intimacy that I like to imagine streaming through the street food. There is such warmth and familiarity, and it illustrates a utilization of a local food culture.

One of my favorite places for exploring the street vendors was in Bangkok.  There is a market for just about anything; fish, fruit, vegetables, meat, flowers, fabrics, and little plastic do dads.  Food vendors sell an array of meats on sticks (which seems to be popular cross culturally), noodle soups, sodas tied up in plastic bags with crushed ice, caramelized bananas, and my favorite: spicy toasted cashews.  I’m sure the real thing sits in a well oiled, well seasoned pan for days, absorbing the savory goodness.  However, this recipe is quick and delicious.  Here is my first installment of recipes inspired by street foods.

Coconut and chili toasted cashews…

2 cups cashews, whole

1 tbs raw coconut oil

¾  tsp kosher salt

¾ tsp chili powder

1 tsp red pepper flakes

pinch of sugar

2 heaping tbs shredded, dried coconut shavings

2 heaping tbs fresh cilantro, minced

serve with lime wedges

In a large pan over medium heat, melt raw coconut oil into liquid.  Add cashews, coat in oil and begin toasting, mixing regularly.  Add salt and chili powder.  Toast until medium golden brown, and the aroma of cashews is evident. Add pepper flakes and sugar.  At the very end add shredded coconut. Careful not to burn the coconut as it toasts quickly.  Remove from heat. Add cilantro. Serve warm and with a wedge of lime. They can make a beautiful appetizer at a party served in cones of colorful paper lined with parchment paper. You know, kind of like an amped up beer nut.

I would love to hear suggestions, requests, stories, and ideas about street food experiences…good ones that is!

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

Avandaro poached eggs…

With all this cold and snow, I have found myself daydreaming about warm places, far, far away.  My memory stumbled upon my time spent in Mexico, just outside of Mexico City, in a beautiful lake town called Valle de Bravo.  I was fortunate enough to live there for about six weeks on a pear orchard nonetheless, right near Lake Avandaro. As I was imagining my body consuming the sun’s heat on my favorite rooftop, I also remembered this breakfast.  This is a very quick version of a more authentic breakfast, but my memory’s appetite was pleasantly surprised.

Avandaro poached eggs…

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1/2 poblano pepper, diced

1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, diced

1 14 oz can white/black beans, rinsed

1/4 tsp chipotle powder

½ tsp chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbs olive oil

4 eggs

corn tortillas

tomatillo salsa…

4 tomatillos

½ small red onion

2 cloves garlic

½ jalapeño pepper

handful of cilantro

salt and pepper

juice of ½ lime

olive oil

salt and pepper

Start by making the tomatillo salsa.  Roughly chop ingredients.  Cook all ingredients (except cilantro, lime, salt, and pepper) in olive oil, in a pot, over medium heat, until softened. A little char adds a smoky note if you like that kind of thing. Transfer to a blender or food processor and purée.  Add cilantro and lime, and olive oil as needed for consistency, process as needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Then for the eggs. In a large pan over medium heat, begin with olive oil, shallots, and garlic.  Cook until softened.  Add poblano pepper, cook until softened.  Add tomatoes and beans.  Add spices, salt, and pepper. Simmer.  Then, one at a time, crack eggs into a small bowl or cup, making sure no shell came along for the ride.  Then pour egg directly into the tomato sauce.  Repeat with all four eggs.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer until eggs are just cooked and yolk is desired consistency (I like mine runny). They will poach in the tomato sauce. Serve a portion with egg over corn tortillas and top with tomatillo salsa.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

Ginger molasses cookies…

I am forever on the hunt for the perfect ginger-esque cookie.  I buy them in coffee shops, I test them out at every new grocery store or market, I try friend’s mother’s and/or grandmother’s recipes, with and without molasses, crunchy or chewy. It can’t be too gingery but still needs a little heat. The closest to perfection that I have found in my search, was a little gem of a cookie called Ginger 3 Ways at Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz, California. Little chunks of crystallized ginger in a perfectly chewy cookie dough.  I have no idea how they do it, but this is my ode to that amazing cookie.  I added molasses. I like the sweet yet mineral-like essence that it adds to the cookie.  I went for an organic, unsulphured molasses rather than the blackstrap.

While testing this recipe out, I was fortunate enough to have a seasoned and talented baker in our home.  This recipe reminds me watching my daughter giggle and play with her grandma, while sipping my coffee and munching on this cookie-all the while it was snowing outside.

Ginger molasses cookies…

preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 1/4 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

sift together and set aside

with a paddle mixer on low (or elbow grease), combine:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

then add:

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 tsp shredded fresh ginger

then add the dry ingredients to the wet, combine

then add:

1/4 cup finely diced crystallized ginger

and mix until combined

roll dough into tbs balls, roll in sugar, place an inch apart on a baking sheet

bake 10 minutes (no more!), they will feel under baked initially, but when they cool they are amazing and chewy

eat together, toast to each other, and share!

Roasted sunchoke soup with feta croutons…

All that I have wanted to eat for the past two weeks is soup. Soup, soup, soup.  The temperature has been in the teens, and there is about a foot plus of snow on our balcony right now…with more to come!  When I saw sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) at the market, their warm, earthy flavor just made sense.  They are a slow to grow tuber, not actually related to the artichoke at all (which is a thistle), but rather are related to the sunflower. They are usually harvested in the late fall or early winter.  Sunchokes have the texture of a potato, with a thin, edible skin, and have a subtle artichoke essence that you can both smell and taste.  When you roast them, the skin caramelizes and creates a nice depth of flavor in the soup.  If you want something easy and hearty and rich for dinner to warm your belly, give this soup a try. These homely little tubers will steal your heart.

Roasted sunchoke soup with feta croutons…


7-10 small sunchokes, roasted

2 small cloves garlic, roasted

1 shallot, minced

2 cups vegetable broth

touch of cream

salt and pepper

olive oil


French bread

truffle infused olive oil

feta cheese

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and scrub sunchokes clean. Cover both sunchokes and garlic in olive oil and place in the oven. Cook until fork tender. Allow to cool. Dice sunchokes. In a pan over medium heat, cook shallot until translucent.  Add garlic and sunchokes.  Then place sunchoke/shallot mixture in the blender with broth.  Puree.  Add cream, salt, and pepper to taste.

For croutons, cube bread. Cover in truffle oil, salt, and pepper.  Then cover in crumbled feta cheese.  Place in oven at above temperature, and toast. Turning regularly.

Serve soup with ample croutons on top.

I also added a small dollop of crème fraiche with a dash of cumin, it really complimented the earthy notes to this soup.

Stay warm, toast to each other, and share!

Bowie’s Zucchini bread…

Zucchini and orange marmalade tea cake…

There are so many good things about this bread I don’t even know where to begin. My brain is going into overdrive thinking about all the things that I love about it. First, let me tell you a little something about myself.  Once I make my mind up about something or someone, it is usually very difficult to persuade me otherwise. I form my opinions quickly and viscerally. I knew I was in love when I first laid eyes on this bread recipe and the cookbook that it came in: Tartine by Elizabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson.  It was a Christmas gift from California. I also think it was a subtle nudge by my sister in law intended to change my “I am not a baker” opinions and attitude about baking.

The book itself is beautiful, creative and unique recipes, and beautiful photographs. It also abides by the one rule that I judge a cookbook by; that there must be a photograph for each recipe. It is all about the art. The bread recipe that I absolutely love is the zucchini and orange marmalade tea cake. I love it because it is simple, not too sweet, made with common ingredients, and it is adaptable. I have already made it four times and each time I made it a little different. My favorite version however, was the one I was able to make in Los Angeles with Bowie, my nephew.  As we did not have any marmalade available to us when we began the baking process, and it was too rainy and windy to leave the house, we were proud to use the two lonely persimmons that were the last standing soldiers in the CSA box. Bowie came up with a delicious concoction for these persimmons and was responsible for all the manual labor. I think this is the main reason why I love this bread so much, because it reminds me of this warm and cozy day, staying inside baking bread with my nephew, on an unusually rainy, southern California day.

Zucchini and orange marmalade tea cake…

From Tartine

1 ¾ cups + 2 tbs all purpose flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon, ground

2 large eggs

½ cup + 2 tbs vegetable oil

¾ cup sugar

½ cup orange marmalade (or Bowie’s persimmon concoction, recipe to follow)

2 ½ cups zucchini, grated

½ tsp sea salt

sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour the bottom and sides of a 9” x 5” loaf pan, knocking out the excess flour.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon into a mixing bowl and set aside. In another mixing bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar, and marmalade (or persimmon concoction) until combined.  Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface.  Sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

OR if you are like us and cannot wait, eat it hot out of the pan.

Bowie’s persimmon concoction

2 persimmons

½ cup orange pineapple juice

1 tsp sugar

dash of salt

dash of cinnamon

Dice persimmons.  Place in a small pot over medium-low heat. Add juice and salt.  Cook until persimmons can be mashed.  Then add sugar and cinnamon to taste. The texture should be that of a chunky preserve when finished.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!