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May 3, 2014

i committed a subversive, don’t-tell-alice-waters, act the other day.  i bought corn.  in april.  the ears were stacked to the point of overflowing in the bins at the market – green & fresh, the kernels tight, small & shining.  on top of that it is end-of-summertime-hot here right now & actually feels like corn season.   the boy got excited & started talking corn fritters, corn cakes, corn pudding…  similar to a quiche but without a crust, less eggy & fluffier than a frittata.  so that there is an in-season option i also made a version with smoked ham & spinach.  though the custard-base is the same, the resulting flavor of each is distinct.  and, of course, mix it up with whatever catches your eye at the market.


corn & zucchini pudding (serves 8)
3 ears corn, kernels removed
2 zucchini, small, cut into ¼ -inch dice
1 T flour
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
3 C heavy cream
1 ½  tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked pepped

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

place the corn & zucchini in a bowl & toss with the flour evenly to cover.

in a separate bowl, combine the eggs & egg yolks.  whisk briefly, then add cream & salt.  whisk until fully incorporated.

butter shallow 9-inch casserole dish.  evenly spread the corn and zucchini in the pan & pour the batter over the vegetables. bake, uncovered, for about 45 – 50 minutes, until nicely browned on the top & a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

ham & spinach pudding
6 ounces smoked ham, diced
10 ounces spinach
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 ½  tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked pepped

in a dry cast-iron pan, saute the ham over medium-high heat until some of the pieces are golden brown. remove to a plate. add spinach to the same pan, lower the heat & gently toss with tongs until cooked down & liquid has been released.

butter shallow 9-inch casserole dish. add ham to buttered dish.  top evenly with spinach & pour the batter over the top. bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, until nicely browned on the top & until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

(meat) pie for dinner.

April 27, 2014

i made my picadillo the other day & i made a lot. really a lot.  so when my boy & i decided to do some weekend cooking, we decided to make empanadas – those delicious meat pies with various savory fillings – chicken, potato, chorizo…  the list goes on.  picadillo – with ground beef, olives & raisins –  happens to be a fairly traditional filling & also my favorite.  some folks are intimidated by making pastry / dough but this recipe comes together easily & rolls out beautifully, resulting in an incredibly flaky crust.


empanada pastry (makes 12 large empanadas)
from the joy of cooking
3 C all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
10 T unsalted butter, cold & cut into small pieces
2 T solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
10 – 12 T ice water

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 T milk
freshly cracked salt & pepper

picadillo (recipe below)

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

place the flour, baking powder & salt into a food processor & pulse until combined.  add the butter & shortening & pulse again until just barely combined & mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.  transfer the mixture to a large bowl & drizzle ice water over the top.  moisten dough and gather together into a ball.  flatten into a flat disk, wrap tightly in plastic & refrigerate for one hour.

roll out the dough 1/8” thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into 6-inch rounds.  gather scraps and re-roll until you have twelve rounds.  spoon ¼-C of picadillo onto one half of each round of dough.  moisten the edges of the rounds with water (i use a pastry brush but you can also use your finger) & press the edges together, creating half-moon shapes, to completely enclose the filling.  use the tines of a fork, making a nice pattern, to seal the edges.  place on a baking sheet 2” apart.

mix the beaten egg & milk together and brush over the tops of the sealed empanadas.  top with a sprinkle of cracked pepper & salt.

bake empanadas in for 20 minutes or until deeply, golden brown.  serve warm.

picadillo (enough filling for 12 empanadas)

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 lb. ground beef (15 – 20% fat)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 potato, diced (about 1 C)
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. gound cloves
¼ tsp. chili flakes
¼ C raisins
½ C pimento-stuffed green olives, coarsely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
½ C slivered almonds

heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  add onion, garlic & bay leaf & sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  add beef & sauté until cooked, breaking up with back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes.  add all remaining ingredients & simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender & picadillo has thickened. season to taste with salt & pepper.  discard bay leaves & stir in almonds.




keep it simple.

March 29, 2014

there are those days when i want a simple but-not-a-piece-of-toast-simple lunch.  and we all know about my delight for an egg. so here i have a quick salad that is lovely as is or, with the addition of lardons or roasted asparagus, can be dressed-up into something dinner party-special.

salad with egg & dukkah vinaigrette


simple greens with poached egg, avocado & dukkah vinaigrette (serves 1 big salad-eater)
dukkah vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 ripe has avocado, peeled &cubed
3 oz. spring mix
3 oz. baby kale
2 – 3T parmigiano-reggiano, freshly grated
1 egg, poached*

place about ¼-cup of dressing in the bottom of a wooden salad bowl.  place avocado in dressing and coat with dressing.  add greens and toss gently.  top with grated parmigiano-reggiano & poached egg.

*to poach egg:  in a saucepan, bring 2″ water & 1 tsp. white vinegar to a low simmer.   gently crack egg into the simmering water & cook until just set, 4 to 5 minutes.  remove with a slotted spoon to a clean, dry dishtowel.

dressing (makes about 1/2 cup)

1 ½ T orange/champagne vinegar
½ tsp. dijon mustard
¾ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil

2 T dukkah*

place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid & shake well, until emulsified.

*dukkah is a blend of almonds, fennel, coriander, anise seeds & sesame seeds.

behind the scenes.

March 14, 2014
tags: ,

mr. skipper shot these while i was setting up for duck, duck egg.



duck, duck, egg.

March 13, 2014

mr. skipper was on his way over and i was wandering around the grocery store trying to decide what to make for my newish friend who immediately felt like an old favorite.  so i decided to make an old favorite with a newish friend – a blt topped with a fried duck egg.  do we need to discuss the deliciousness that is a blt?  smoky, chewy bacon with bits of fat, juicy tomato & crisp lettuce.  but look at that egg!  when you bite into the soft yolk it will make a little sauce with the mayonnaise, run down your chin & your fingers & make you happy.  promise.


blt with a duck egg (makes 4 )
16 slices pepper bacon, thick-cut (about 1 ½ – 2 lbs)
8 slices wheat bread, very lightly toasted
12 leaves butter lettuce
2 ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
salt & pepper to taste
4 duck eggs, fried*

in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, high bacon until some fat has rendered but not all & bacon is still soft.  remove from pan & place on a towel to drain.

generously spread each slice of bread with mayonnaise, setting four aside.  top four remaining slices with 3 leaves of lettuce, several slices of tomato, a sprinkle of salt & pepper & 4 slices of bacon.  slide a fried egg onto each sandwich and top with remaining slices of bread.

*some say that duck egg whites, because of their albumen (the protein in egg whites which is higher in duck eggs than in chicken eggs) can become rubbery when fried.  i fry mine at a medium temperature – just keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook.

i am inspired.

February 23, 2014

there is a restaurant here in the bay area and in l.a. called café gratitude.  the menu is vegan, largely raw & the dishes have names like “i am glorious” or “i am pure”.  i will admit that at first, ordering with a straight face was hard to do. but after a few visits i got over the ordering & into the food & into one item in particular – a pad thai-inspired salad, “i am terrific”, which i decided to re-create at home.  the mission of cafe gratitude is about being a person who chooses “loving your life & being grateful every day…having fun & enjoying being nourished”.  that is a sentiment that i can seriously get behind while smiling the whole time.


you are terrific (serves 4)
my version of café gratitude’s i am terrific
1 bunch lacinato kale, cored and julienned
6 oz. broccoli slaw (or shredded cabbage)
4 oz. shredded carrots
12 oz. sea kelp noodles*
½ C cilantro
½ C basil, torn
¼ C mint leaves, torn
½ C tamari almonds, coarsely chopped

in a large bowl combine kale, broccoli slaw (or cabbage, if using), carrots, kelp noodles, cilantro, basil & mint.  add desired amount of thai almond sauce (recipe below) & dress well.  top with almonds before serving.

*sea kelp noodles are available at my local market in the international aisle & at

thai almond sauce (makes about 3 cups)
adapted from café gratitude
½ C lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno, seeds removed
¼ C ginger juice*
1 C water
2 T tamari
1 T salt
1 T agave
½ bunch cilantro
½ bunch basil
1 ½ C almond butter

blend all ingredients well in a high speed blender.  store in a jar in the refrigerator.

note: sauce will become t-h-i-c-k in the refrigerator; simply thin with a bit of water.

*i found ginger juice at whole foods & health food stores

spaghetti squared.

February 23, 2014

i have a weakness for slow-roasting / braising / stewing dutch ovens of meaty goodness & this spaghetti sauce is no different. what is different is that i change it up by serving it over spaghetti squash in place of pasta.  i really like the texture of the squash – more sturdy than pasta – against the thick & meaty sauce.


meaty marinara (serves 10 – 12)
3 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. red chili flakes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
½ grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
fistful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

in a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until totally browned. remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon and put it into a bowl. set aside.

over medium heat, add the onion to the fat in the pot & stir it around for a few minutes until softened.  add garlic.  pour in the wine, increasing heat to high & allowing to reduce for a few minutes. add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, chili flakes, thyme & bay leaves. add the ground beef & stir to combine.
after 1 ½  hours, add the grated parmesan & fresh parsley. stir to combine & allow to simmer for another 30 minutes or so. discard the bay leaves & thyme sticks before serving.

spaghetti squash

2 large spaghetti squash

split the squash in half and scrape out seeds.  place squash in a roasting pan flesh side up.  pour 2 cups of water in the pan & roast for 30 minutes or until nearly fork-tender & fully cooked.  remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.  using a fork, scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin.

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