The French 75

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Whoa! A cocktail on I Pray to Gouda?

One cannot live on food alone.


Well, whatever, anyway. It’s time for me to blow your mind with a simple but classic summer drink. It’s also time for me to attempt to convince you not to drink three. You live and you learn, folks.

Do NOT buy that bottled lemon juice. I will hunt you down and beat you.

The French 75

makes 1 drink

1 lemon

3 Tb gin

1 1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice

1 Tb simple syrup

1 cup ice cubes

1/4 cup dry sparkling wine (brut Champagne, etc.)

Using zester or paring knife, slice peel from lemon in long, thin spiral. Reserve lemon for another use and set peel aside.

In cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled Champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.

Curl lemon peel around finger to create twist at least 6 inches long. Garnish drink with twist and serve immediately.

Farfalle with Salmon, Mint and Peas

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I wish I hated pasta. But I can’t. I can’t hate it. I don’t care if it’s long and skinny, shaped like a bow or shell or comes stuffed…I want it and I want a lot of it. Give me a choice between a slice of chocolate cake and a bowl of pasta smothered in Parmesan and I’ll eat both go right for the bowl of carbs.

Here’s a pasta dish you can feel good about eating. Fresh salmon, lemon and a touch of mint gives it a complex mix of flavors, but it’s a cinch to make (especially when you have five girls coming over to watch Bachelorette and
play drinking games based on how many times that idiot Ashley says the name, “Bentley”).

Farfalle with Salmon, Mint and Peas

1 lb farfalle (bowtie)

    1 1/2 lb skinless salmon filet

    Coarse salt and freshly ground paper

    Juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons

    1 pkg frozen peas, defrosted

    2 Tb unsalted butter

    1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water; return pasta to pot.

  2. Meanwhile, season salmon with salt and pepper, and place in a medium skillet. Add 1/4 cup water and lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover, and let steam for 10 minutes.

  3. Add peas, and continue to steam, covered, until peas are tender and salmon is opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes more.

  4. Slide entire contents of skillet onto pasta; add butter and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Toss carefully to combine, gently breaking salmon into large flakes. Add reserved pasta water as necessary to smooth sauce. Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional mint, if desired.

When in Portland…

Saturday, May 7, 2011

“Why are you going there?”

This tends to be the response you’ll receive from sunshine-loving Californians when you inform them of an upcoming weekend jaunt to the cloudy Oregon city of Portland. The answer? “Why not?” Portland is quickly establishing itself as a progressive actor on the arts and cuisine fronts and if you know me, you know I like to eat my way right through a vacation. I can skip the stupid tourist sites and simply go to bed happy if I’ve conquered a city’s best eats. Here are the highlights of my recent trip to Portland. It’s mostly food-related. Why do you look so surprised?


Touche Restaurant and Bar

touche-diningDo NOT go into this restaurant expecting much by the way of its innards. As in, I think my travel buddies and I may have witnessed some of the worst art we’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what the heck was going on at this place, but I’ll tell you this – their food took my mind off the hideous wall hangings. The lasagna di forno nearly made me faint and Julia’s and Kristie’s gnocchi rendered them almost unable to talk. Pair all that with a reasonably priced Malbec (Trabiche 2008) and a hot, Italian waiter (what? How can I not include that part?) and you’ve got an amazing meal.



Why do I love traveling with my friends? Well, because after stuffing ourselves so full of Italian fare

Cacaothat we nearly had to roll out of Touché, instead of trekking to a martini bar like any good 30-year old girl would, we  hopped right on over to Cacao for sipping chocolate. And promptly made ourselves sicker than dogs because we. couldn’t. stop.  The girls and I ordered the samplers (cinnamon, spicy and dark). I think I’d go back and just get the cinnamon, to be honest. But you’re the star in your own chocolate world, so go take a spin at Cacao.


Public Domain Coffee

Public DomainWhoa. This place actually made me feel bad for ever going to Starbucks. Downtown Portland sees coffee as an experience, not a simple caffeine quencher. That being said, it means your cup of joe isn’t going to only take 30 seconds to get to you at Public Domain. Instead, they are going to make sure it blows your mind and slooowly drip it into its awaiting cup. The girls bought espresso drinks (hand-pulled!) and I went with an Ethiopia Sidamo drip. Public Domain also serves pastries from a local baker (literally. Down the street). Go for the almond croissant.

Mother’s Bistro

Look. You aren’t going to find a better breakfast joint. Just face it and roll with it. From pecan

Mother's_Bistro_015cinnamon rolls (holy isssssh) to crab benedict to OMGTHEBESTOMELETTEOFMYWHOLELIFE, Mother’s has breakfast down. My only warning is that we waited for roughly 45 minutes and I thought the girls were going to gnaw off their own arms. Or mine. Seriously one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had (I say “one of” because I’ve been to Pancake Pantry in Nashville, and let’s just leave that for another travel post).


Portland Paragon

Fresh, local food and a gorgeous ambience (fireplace!) Only drawback? They wouldn’t serve us another glass of wine at 10:01 because they had “closed.” Major malfunction. However, the gorgonzola cheesecake made up for it. What a genius idea. If you order wine and there is more than one of you imbibing, I’d heartily suggest ordering a bottle, as their prices justify it. Well, in my mind, anything justifies a full bottle, but…you know.


Waterfront Bike Rentals

Portland Bikes

Well, with all of the food intake, there unfortunately comes a time when the caloric intake catches up to you and you should probably get in some exercise. Enter Portland’s Waterfront Bike Rentals. I was a tad bit wary (I’m clumsy. I fall off my own feet, I could barely imagine two wheels), but I consider this one of the best parts of the trip. The staff is incredibly helpful, knowledgeable about the trails and routes, and the prices are cheap. Take your bike up to the Oregon Zoo and come back down through the Nob Hill District and hit Kenny and Zukes for lunch. Their subs are to. die. for.


And there you are – a quick guide to an active, cultural city on the West coast. I’d lastly recommend jumping on Portland’s MAX rail – great public transportation on the cheap. Happy travels!

Pork + Broccoli Stir Fry

Monday, April 4, 2011

You know why I love stir fry? I love stir fry because it’s a one pot meal that gives you a protein, a starch and a veggie. I don’t have to think about what healthy green thing I’m going to put on the side, because it’s already in there.

            That’s what I call efficiency, friends.

(P.S. COW. Have you tried those Jell-O Temptations pudding thingamabobbers? Sweet baby Jesus. They tout that they’re only 60 calories each, but damn if it doesn’t become a moot point when I eat three of them.)

Pork  and Broccoli Stir Fry

adapted from Martha Stewart

1 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons vegetable oil, such as safflower

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced

3 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced

1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), cut into bite-size florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced


In a medium bowl, combine orange zest and juice, soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch; set stir-fry sauce aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium. Working in two batches, cook pork until browned on one side, 1 to 2 minutes (pork will cook more in step 4). Transfer to a plate and set aside; reserve skillet.

Add remaining teaspoon oil, garlic, and scallion whites to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add broccoli and 1/2 cup water; cover and cook until broccoli is crisp-tender and water has evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add pork (with any juices) and stir-fry sauce to skillet. Cook, stirring, until pork is cooked through and sauce has thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Top with scallion greens.

Parlez-Vous Coq au Vin?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chicken in wine. That’s what it is. If you tell yourself, “It’s simply chicken in wine,” then coq au vin will become a jumpable hurdle, a reachable goal, a climbable wall.

Or, you can just walk into your friend’s house after she’s already labored over it and nearly lick your bowl clean.

Coq Au Vin

courtesy of Ina Garten

4 ounces good bacon, diced

1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy

1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy

1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade

10 fresh thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 pound frozen small whole onions

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlicand cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to thestew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.

Shrimp Farfalle with Peas and Cilantro

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I was off from work today. Something about Cesar Chavez, yadda yadda. I had all of these grand plans – laundry, work, bathing the dog…


What did I really do? Watched copious amounts of 48 Hours, Dateline and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, napped, pondered the state of my eyebrows and went to Target to buy roughly $75 worth of stuff I totally did not need.


Yeah, I’d call that success.


Unfortunately, 5pm rolled around and I was ravenous. Hi – I may as well be living in a nursing home. Blue plate special, anyone?

Luckily, this meal is delicious, easy and fast. I recommend following it up with Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food.


Shrimp Farfalle with Peas and Cilantro

2 cups farfalle pasta

1 Tb unsalted butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cups frozen green peas

1 Tb chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 lb frozen cooked shrimp

1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and shallot to pan and cook until shrimp are dethawed; add garlic, salt and pepper and peas and cook on medium for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta. Drain pasta and add to saucepan; stir in cilantro and Parmesan.

Girls’ Night Gets Fancy: Curried Carrot Soup and Tarragon-Braised Chicken

Monday, March 28, 2011

Look. I’m the last person who is going to get on your case about whipping up a quick lasagna, or ordering a pizza when your friends come over for a low-key movie night. This gets harder and harder to do now that 98.4% of my friends have figured out I’m a food blogger (the other 1.6% just think I’m a nutcase for photographing a pan of sautéing onions). However, some nights just call for adding a

touch of pizzazz. Enter my friend, Carolyn (I affectionately refer to her as Caro Syrup. I dunno why. I could be because everything = food to me) who brought over the ingredients for a delicious soup and a comforting side dish.


Curried Carrot Soup with Roasted Almonds

1/4 lb frozen carrots

2 tsp olive oil

1 small white onion, sliced

1 tsp minced garlic

3/4 tsp mild or medium curry powder

1/2 tsp salt

4 cups chicken broth (use veggie to make vegan!)

1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds


Steam carrots on stove or in microwave according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium pot. Add onion and sauté on medium heat until translucent and beginning to brown. Stir in garlic, curry powder and salt, and cook until fragrant. Transfer to a blender or food processor and add cooked carrots. Add 2 cups broth, and blend until smooth. Transfer mixture back to pot, turn heat to high, and stir in remaining broth. Bring to a simmer and season with more salt, if necessary. Divide among bowls and top with almonds.


Braised Chicken with Red Potatoes and Tarragon Broth

2 tsp olive oil

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, chopped into bite-size pieces

2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 12-oz package red potato wedges

2 Tb chopped fresh flat-leaf pieces


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots to pan and sauté 1 minute. Add chicken and sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Add broth, wine tarragon, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes; simmer 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.


Yam and Black Bean Tacos

Monday, January 31, 2011

No, trust me. They’re good. This coming from someone who eats a whole lot of the more traditional version of this dish. 

Side note: whoever invented Taco Tuesdays should win the Nobel Peace Prize.



Yam and Black Bean Tacos

3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1” cubes

2 Tb olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 Tb cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 14-oz can black beans

1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

corn tortillas

Cilantro sour cream (see recipe below)

Heat olive oil on medium heat in sauté pan. Cook garlic for about 30 seconds, then add chopped sweet potato. Cook for five minutes, then add in black beans, cumin and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Warm corn tortillas in a dry sauté pan or in the microwave. Top tacos with fresh cilantro and cilantro sour cream.

Cilantro Sour Cream

This is pretty easy. Don’t hurt yourself.

1 cup sour cream

1 cup cilantro

Blend in food processor. Lick bowl.

What a Crock.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


In my years (what, like, 5 maybe?) of cooking, I’ve tended to snub the crock pot. Or, “slow cooker” is the new, politically correct term for it these days, I guess. Visions of pot roasts (haven’t warmed up to those yet), sticky stews and weird oatmeals have turned me off to this machine.

Now I think that maybe Baby Jesus sent his angels down in the form of crock pots. There’s no other explanation for something that takes a bunch of ingredients, sends you on your merry way for hours on end and cooks your dinner while you’re gone. It’s a dang Christmas miracle.

 I should warn that this particular slow cooker recipe takes a bit more work than the usual, “stick that there chicken in with some salsa and you got yourself a dandy meal.” But stick with me.


Meatballs in Tomato Wine Sauce

adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes

For the sauce:

2 TB olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup dry red wine

One 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice

One 6-oz can tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp minced fresh basil

1 tsp minced fresh oregano

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1 bay leaf

2 Tb minced fresh parsleyIMG_0829

For the meatballs

1.5 lbs lean ground beef

1 cup plain dry bread crumbs

2 large eggs

3 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp minced fresh basil

3/4 tsp minced fresh oregano

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

dash of ground allspice

1.5 Tb olive oil

1/4 cup dry red wine


1. To prepare the sauce, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and continue boiling for 1-2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits stuck to pan.

2. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, allspice and bay leaf and stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH while you prepare meatballs.

3. To prepare the meatballs, put the ground beef in a large bowl, breaking it up a bit with your fingers or a large fork. Add bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley and allspice. Gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients, using your hands or a large fork. Be careful not to compact the meat, which will make your meatballs tough. Gently shape the mixture into 12 meatballs.

4. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, turning carefully, 6 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the sauce. Pour off any fat from the skillet, return to the stove and add wine. Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour over meatballs. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours. Remove bay leaf and serve over pasta.


Bolognese – Light & Quick

Friday, January 21, 2011

“Oh, my God. I found a magazine full of fatty sauce recipes that don’t have as much fat! We can eat     all the damn fettuccine alfredo and bolognese we want!”

So said my coworker (and friend) Kiana one cold, blustery day at the office. My response? “Dude. I’m in.”

And that’s how Kiana and I spent a cozy Thursday night, eating fabulous meat sauce, cramming our faces with cupcakes and figuring out what to wear for our next night out.

Which is, like, weeks from now, but you can never plan too far ahead to look your best, right?


Lazy Bolognese (it’s ok if I call it that,

right, Kiks?)

Makes about 8 servings

What you’ll need:

1 Tb canola oil

1 lb. ground turkey

8 oz. Italian turkey sausage

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

1 Tb minced garlic

1 cup 2 % cottage cheese

1/4 cup tomato paste

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice

1 cup dry red wine (plus the rest of the bottle for drinky)

2 Tb balsamic vinegar

1 tsp each of dried oregano and basil

1/2 tsp each kosher salt and red pepper flakes

1/2 cup cream cheese

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add turkey breast and sausage and cook until browned.

Process onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a fod processor until minced; add to browned meat. Cook vegetables until softened, 5 minutes. Process cottage cheese in food processor until smooth, 2 minutes; stir into meat mixture in saute pan.

Stir in tomato paste, cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, wine, vinegar, oregano, basil, salt and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted, then stir in parsley.