Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Homemade Slice-and-Bake Cranberry-Nut Christmas Cookies

These homemade slice-and-bake refrigerator Christmas cookies are the perfect addition to any holiday goodie bag. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Week of Vegan Eating

After the indulgence of Thanksgiving (I went to three different dinners!) I decided it would be fun to eat vegan for a week. As someone who loves to cook, deciding to eliminate meat and dairy from my diet was an exciting creative exercise. I got to try out some new ingredients (miso, tahini), and discovered some new flavor combinations that I absolutely loved (butternut squash and lemon!). If you've ever thought about trying out veganism, or cooking some vegan meals, I highly recommend the recipes below. Each is ranked out of 5 stars, based on my personal tastes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fuyu Persimmon Pie

Nate had one request for our Thanksgiving menu: Persimmon Pie.
Our first encounter with this starchy, sweet fruit was on a walk last Fall. Nate has a penchant for stealing fruit from the neighbors' trees, and when he saw the stout orange persimmons, he couldn't help himself. Neither of us had ever seen or tasted one before, and we were left a little puzzled. It tasted like...sweet potato? Or corn? It had that same sweetness and utter lack of acidity, with a texture like that of a dry apple.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ginger-Cardamom Cranberry Sauce

I've made homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving pretty much every year since my fourth grade class brought back the recipe from a trip to the cranberry bogs on "Cranberry Day," the harvest festival holiday of the local Wampanoag tribe on Martha's Vineyard, where I grew up. The recipe itself is simple and inauthentic, but delicious.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Spectacular: Spatchcocked Turkey and More

I had a practice Thanksgiving this past weekend, and decided to try a new method of cooking the turkey: Spatchocking! I guess you could also call it "butterflied" turkey, but isn't Spatchcocked so much more fun?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Baked Eggs in Roasted Pepper and Tomato Sauce

Weekend breakfasts are the best!
A strong cup of tea, toasted roasted garlic bread, and creamy eggs baked in a roasted cherry tomato and pepper sauce...This is such a comforting and easy breakfast to make. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vegan Roasted Carrot and Kabocha Squash Soup

The LA weather is SO WEIRD. Three days in the low 60s are often followed by three days in the upper 80s, so I have to cram in as much autumnal cooking as I can on those cool nights. 

Last night I had such a craving for soup. I had carrots, a beautiful kabocha squash, and a can of coconut milk, and I decided to make this deliciously creamy vegan roasted carrot and kabocha squash soup. The ginger, lemongrass, and coconut milk in the broth give it an added complexity and make it taste vaguely Thai. Which is always a good thing!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Slow Cooker Red Wine Beef Stew

It blessedly dropped into the 60s for two days last week (before jumping back to the 80s), so on Sunday I decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and make this hearty slow cooked red wine beef stew. It was super simple to make, very comforting, and very wine-y!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tomato Jam on Rosemary Focaccia with Goat Cheese

Sweet. Tart. Savory. Rich. This tomato jam is so simple to make, yet so complexly flavored.
I made this rosemary focaccia the night before. Topped with a fluffy layer of earthy, tangy goat cheese, the rosemary focaccia stood up to the bold flavors of the tomato jam.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Molasses...for Breakfast!

This Saturday I had a bag of brussels sprouts I HAD to use right away, before they went bad or were pushed to the back of the fridge by Sunday's farmer's market haul. 

Brussels Sprouts, sauteed with molasses and garlic made for an odd breakfast, but would be a tasty side dish alongside a heartier main course (aka, not bagels).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hearty Beef and Bean Chili with Cornbread

The weather is finally cooling down a bit in Los Angeles (though it's supposed to be back in the 80's by Sunday!), which has left me frantically cooking as many warm-weather dishes as possible before it heats up again. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

October 3rd was "National Boyfriend Day." Though my first thought was "HARRUMPPHH EVERY DAY IS NATIONAL BOYFRIEND DAY," I decided it would be nice to surprise Nate with some cookies. What can I say, I am a romantic against my own will.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beet Cupcakes

I love beets, and I had this image in my mind of a beautiful, fuschia beet cupcake, topped by fluffy white cream cheese frosting.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Greek Layer Dip

I've been seeing different versions of this dip flitting around the internet since the Super Bowl, and when I was trying to decide which dip to serve with some freshly made pita chips we got at the farmer's market, I decided that a "Greek" layer dip would be perfect.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Passion Fruit Mojitos

Passion fruit is in season right now, and I have been LOVING these passion fruit mojitos. I mentioned them in a post last week, and I ended up making them again this morning (...without the rum!).

These virgin passion fruit mojitos are tart, sweet, and fizzy — the perfect drink for a hot day like today

Sunday, September 23, 2012

San Pedro Fish Markets and Things I Ate This Week

This weekend Nate and I went to San Pedro for some coastal sight seeing and some fresh seafood.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beef Roulade with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Tapenade

I made this rather fancy dish on a whim. I had a big piece of discount beef (yum?) and a bunch of leftovers from Tapas Sunday, and I decided that beef stuffed with tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and lots of garlic actually sounded really good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Easy Asian Sesame Slaw

This Easy Asian Sesame Slaw is a crisp and tangy side that pairs perfectly with a heaver main dish on a hot day. It's really simple to make, too, and the leftovers make a great lunch the next day. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tapas Sunday: Eggplant Caponata

Robust and rich, this flavorful eggplant dish makes a wonderful appetizer with flatbread or toasted baguette. Eggplant is cooked with onions, tomato, garlic, olive oil, capers, olives, and fresh herbs until soft, then sprinkled with toasted nuts and served hot, room temperature, or cold. It seems like every cook has their own version of caponata. I looked at several caponata recipes for reference, but in the end I relied mostly on  my personal taste. The resulting eggplant dish was savory and oh-so-satisfying. I can't wait to try the leftovers with pasta!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cantaloupe Fruit Salad with Mint, Lime, and Honey

 These luscious, juicy cantaloupe spheres would have been impossible for me to make before last night...when I finally acquired a melon baller! I feel like melon ballers have gone out of style, but I told Nate that I would definitely use it if we got it. So, last night I balled and froze half of a cantaloupe to use for cocktail making tonight, and this morning I woke up and balled the second half for this light, refreshing breakfast fruit salad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Persian Tomato and Cucumber Salad (Shirazi)

This salad couldn't be simpler or more refreshing. It's quite tangy from the lemon, and the cucumber and tomato are cool and crisp — the perfect antidote to a hot summer's day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BBQ: Orange-Ginger Marinated Chicken and Honey-Soy Marinated Steak


I am kind of obsessed with barbecuing. Nate and I don't have a grill, but the state parks here have small grills that anyone can use, provided you bring your own charcoal. We went to the Santa Monica Airport Park after a long day of lounging at the beach and to our surprise there were open grills - that were clean! Usually the grills are caked with charred food remains and various debris, so it felt like quite the treat to not have to spend the first 15 minutes scraping and brushing it clean.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Miscellaneous Food Stuffs

Sometimes, I make something or eat something that is really, really good - but I wasn't planning on blogging about it. I often manage to snap a picture or two, and I wanted to share with you some of the tasty morsels I've had but haven't written a full blog post about.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Epic Canning Adventure: Homemade Ketchup, Tomato Sauce, and Green Tomato Relish

Tomato Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Relish, Relish, Ketchup!
Last year I had the pleasure of going to Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, CA, and picking Roma tomatoes for a mere 25 cents per pound over Labor Day weekend. It was amazing both how many tomatoes I got for so little money - and how little food I got from so many tomatoes!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Roasted Fig and Mascarpone Tarts

Fig season is at hand! I've been wanting to buy figs for awhile now but the price tag (usually at least $5 for a basket) kept me at bay.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


This is my second attempt at making gazpacho in as many weeks. The first one had potential, but the recipe called for the tomato mixture to be pureed, then strained. After straining the soup, it was so thin it resembled a juice more than a soup. Without the vegetable puree to add texture, the flavor seemed lacking as well. I was disappointed to say the least, but when I had a friend over for dinner this past weekend, I decided to try my hand at this chilled soup one more time, to accompany a side of Asparagus and Red Corn Salad.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Asparagus and Red Corn Salad

My friend Dave came over for dinner on Saturday. I didn't want to use the oven at all, so I decided to make a couple of cold sides to accompany a main dish that could be cooked on the stove top.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pad Thai Sauce with Marinated Pork, Grilled Vegetables and Rice Noodles

Please excuse the terrible lighting. By the time I finished cooking it was dark outside :(
I love Pad Thai. LOVE IT. But I've never been able to match the flavor of homemade Pad Thai with restaurant Pad Thai. According to the ninety bajillion recipes I've looked at online, this is because I don't have any tamarind paste.

Tamarind paste helps authentic Pad Thai achieve the sour/sweet taste that makes it so addictive, but even though I live a reasonable distance from Thai Town in LA (the largest concentration of Thai people anywhere in the world outside of Thailand!) I can't find tamarind paste anywhere in Santa Monica. Someday I will force Nate to go to Thai Town with me so I can raid some of the grocery stores there.

I love grilled vegetables...
In the mean time, I found a recipe for Pad Thai sauce without tamarind that claims, "The original pad Thai didn't contain tamarind at all (the makings of pad Thai being brought to Thailand via the Chinese)."


The sauce is sour, sweet, and salty, and though it doesn't taste exactly like the take-out Pad Thai I'm used to, it was delicious!

I served the sauce with rice noodles, grilled pork chops marinated in soy sauce, honey, and garlic, and grilled peppers, eggplant, and green onions. The garnish of lime wedges, peanuts, and cilantro helped liven up the appearance AND flavor of the dish. I heartily recommend this recipe, and it has Nate's seal of approval too.

Pad Thai Sauce
1/3 C Chicken Broth
3T Rice Vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
3-4 T Brown Sugar
2T Fish Sauce
1T Soy Sauce
1/8 tsp Pepper
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce

Whisk all ingredients together. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly reduced; add cooked noodles and let simmer in the sauce for a couple of minutes to soak up the flavors; add vegetables. Serve on a plate garnished with lime wedges, crushed peanuts, and cilantro. 

Delicious grilled eggplant, peppers, and green onions. I want to marry my grill pan (DON'T TELL NATE)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hungarian Pepper, Paprika Chicken, Orzo and Romaine Salad

Sometimes it's just too hot to turn on the oven. In my probably-fire-code-violating apartment that doesn't have a vent over the stove, it's too hot to turn on the oven, or use the stove top for more than 20 minutes, for most of the summer.

I end up making a lot of salads for dinner, but they can get boring after a while. So, when I got back from my vacation and saw that Nate had gotten a bag of brightly colored, sweet Hungarian peppers from the Farmer's Market, I was excited. After some extensive web searching I found a recipe that seemed promising. I had to turn on my grill pan and boil some orzo, but other than that there was no cooking involved. I even skipped the side of toasted baguette that the original recipe includes, because even the toaster oven is too much to handle when it's hot out ( 

The result was a tangy, filling, and interesting salad that satisfied my hunger pangs, taste buds, and imagination. What more could a girl ask for?

Hungarian Pepper, Paprika Chicken, Orzo and Romaine Salad

Chicken tenders are rubbed with garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper, then grilled. When the chicken tenders are done, take them off the grill pan and add the peppers, cooking until they are crisp-tender and have some grill marks. Squeeze half a lemon over the chicken and peppers and set them in the fridge to chill.

The orzo is cooked with sauteed onions and chicken broth until tender. Drain and drizzle with some white wine vinegar. Let chill, then toss with a head of chopped Romaine lettuce. I added about 1 T olive oil and the juice from 1 half of a lemon to the lemon/orzo mixture. 

Make a bed of the lettuce/orzo mixture, then layer the chicken, peppers, and a sliced tomato on top. 

The result is tasty, healthy, refreshing, and best of all - COLD!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Eating in Galicia: Nate's Guest Post

In June, Nate went to Spain to record the music for the movie Invasor. Knowing how badly I wanted to be there to explore the sights and flavors of Galicia, he promised to take pictures and document his favorite meals, so he could share them with me, at least visually, once he returned.

Gastronome Gone Galicia 
by Nate Underkuffler

At midday I could feel all the heat of Iberia pouring forth from the land and colliding with the undulant swells of the Ensenada Del Orzan. The water was sparkling and iridescent, lunging and swaying without respite towards the sun. The coarse quartz beach lay against the age-old stone and concrete rampart of the city’s promenade as a pile of finely-washed translucent gravel, swishing beneath the bare feet of beachgoers.

This being a travelogue of Europe, we quickly reach the subject of describing the people and their myriad eccentricities…. I can barely find a person under the age of 50, but the amount of exposed skin might exceed the modesty of an American 20 year old on spring break.

The heat may bombard us from the arid heart of Iberia, but the Atlantic sea breeze pushes right back against it; and on “The Groyne” it’s the ocean that securely claims authority. The salty air washes like a transparent extension of the cresting swells from which it originates, filling every winding, narrow cobble-stone paved alleyway in the city of A Coruña.

 As a stout Galician waiter hastily delivers me a platter of the reddest and sweetest, tiniest little shrimp you’ll ever taste (freshly yanked from the bay that morning), I can nearly see a crust of sea salt condensed from the air and accreted with loving embrace upon every window ledge and doorframe. My olfactories barely detect a distinction between the aroma of the array of tiny crustaceans adorning my plate and that of the greater ambience.
The sweet shrimp of Galicia
(These guys did a pretty decent job of embodying the 'old world charm')
It’s a damn fine place to dig into a plate of shellfish, this oft-overlooked maritime corner of Europe. A Spain that isn’t particularly Spanish. A resource-rich oasis on a typically resource-exhausted continent that isn’t particularly rich. Or particularly continental for that matter; most at first glance would be apt to mistake this for the emerald isle or maybe even California’s central coast; as long as you ignored the almost goofy rickety thicket of concrete and glass architecture. The Romans technically claimed it, but really only to satisfy their famed desire for completeness. The Arabs never really noticed it was here. And the Spanish national government has always had more than it could handle with the far more unruly provinces of the peninsula to give the little corner of Galicia much notice.

I was there to record with their Orchestra, which turned out to be a world-class assemblage of musicians ranging in origin from Bulgaria to Pennsylvania. The graciously arts-supportive government of Spain gave us free reign of the orchestra for an entire week for the purposes of promoting the Spanish film industry, and we were more than happy to take them up on the offer to inject our modestly-budgeted film “Invasor” with a healthy of dose of symphonic muscle.

But the food. Oh the food! It was heavy, light, fresh, fermented, diverse, traditional, daring and celebrated. Everything good grub should be. Here are some highlights: 

A typical lunch, delivered to us at the recording studio and presented Tapas-style:

THIS is a casual peasants’ lunch in Galicia:

Sardines wrangled from the bay strait into the sports-pub where I snacked on them like french fries while watching España trounce France in the world cup (yeah, it was legit):

Padron Peppers from Padron itself (it’s down the street) that have laid eyes upon a select few elements: a lush field, a touch of exquisite olive oil, a hot pan, and a few hefty chunks of Atlantic sea salt: 
Editor's Note: "I think your Padron Peppers are just as good...if not better!" -Nate

Lots and lots of flaky-soft pescado:

Lounging by a pool on the outskirts of Madrid at the end of a 100-degree day nursing a pitcher of ice-cold gazpacho:

Home-made empanada and Spanish omelet (true mainstays of the diet):

Pay your respects to the one and only Iberian ham sliced table-side:

It's Europe man; wheel out the obligatory life-affirming cheese platter: 

And a proper burn-it-all finale to the week, where the whole city runs around like maniacs on the beach for a night of leaping over giant bonfires. Truly, a land free from Lawyers: