Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grape Sorbet

I'm not a sorbet person. Bleh...too much tang and additional tastes and I loose the actual fruitiness.

But I love these. Partly because they are so simple to make.

Buy seedless grapes, red or green

Remove from stems

Wash them

Let them dry

Put them in a freezer bag


Pop 'em in your mouth one at a time or in multiples.

Fruit crack.
Image from here

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Peachy Crepes

I wanted to wait to share more recipes until I have a camera.

But it's peach season, man.'s just gotta share.

So can find the wheat free crepe recipe here. It's the peachy part I wanted to share today.

If your peaches aren't as good as mine (cuz I live in peach growing heaven here) or are over or underripe, you can cook them up. Just peel, then slice them. Put them in a pan with butter and a bit of lemon juice (so they don't get all brown if that's an issue for you). Put in some salt, a bit of stevia or some syrup and lots of cinnamon. Cook the peaches but watch that you don't overdo them. I've tried cooking them with coconut oil, but there's some sort of reaction with the pectin that grosses some people out. I thought it OK, but whatever.

Put the peaches in a crepe, top with plain Greek or regular yogurt and some roasted pecans. Might want to add some syrup if you didn't in the cooking phase as it adds a nice flavor.

If you have perfectly tree ripened peaches like I do you won't want to cook them. Why mess with perfection?

But I do like to add a bit o' further pizazz with my uncooked peach crepes (the ones I had this very morning, in fact).

Instead of just plain pecans to top the fresh peaches and yogurt, I toast pecan pieces until brown (well...they end up kinda black in some places just about every time, but that's OK by me). I then add butter, vanilla and syrup. Cook until the syrup is warmed and gets kinda gooey. I've decided to call these Southern Pecans because they remind me of pecan pralines, which reminds me of plantations around New Orleans.

But whatever you wanna call them, try them cuz they're yummy.

Bon appetite on a perfect Sunday morning made even more so with Peach Crepes.
peach pic from here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Savory, Spicy Yams

Years ago, I used to make a huge, every Sunday I would make an elaborate Sunday Brunch for my family. Eggs Benedict, breakfast souffle, crepes, German Apple Pancakes, coffee cakes, omelettes...loved trying all sorts of different things. I'd crank up the classical music, put on a pot of really strong coffee and be in heaven.

I learned last year that my sister loves to do the same thing. When she told me, we looked into each others' eyes and said "Dad" simultaneously. I remember waking up (often with a splitting hangover headache in high school) to him blaring Capriccio Italiano, the smells of bacon and coffee wafting up into my bedroom. Then coming down to find him pustying around, having fun making us breakfast.

Safety. Comfort. Home.

I looooove Sunday Brunch in any form. Sometimes it's fun to go out. Some of my fondest foodie experiences are Sunday Brunches, outdoors, sipping champagne, lolling and chatting with close friends. Mother's Day brunch at the Ritz in Palm Springs...seeing The Grand Damme with her hat, gloves and retinue. Eating on a balcony in St. Thomas with simple pineapple and coffee, looking out over the blue Carribean Sea. My very favorite was in New Orleans at Commander's Palace. The food (watermelon, fennel, shrimp salad...OMG, to DIE for!!!), the jazz, the snake dancing through the restaurant, the characters that New Orleans is home to...I will remember that glorious morning forever!

Sweet memories...and there are more...but being home, with "my music," the sun shining and stuff cooked exactly as I love it...that's where it's at for me right now.

When I make 'taters for breakfast, I generally do my world famous Breakfast Potatoes. But this morning I wanted something with more kick. I decided on yams with my favorite breakfast scramble.

As I'm the only one in the house that likes yams, I only used one small one. Slice it about a 1/4 of an inch thick.

Coursely chop lots of garlic (I use a whole clove, even though it's only one yam).

Put the yams in a bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil, the garlic; about a 1/2 ts. of thyme; salt, pepper and chili peppers to taste.

Stir to evenly disperse oil and herbies all over the orange moons. After all is evenly coated, lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Broil or bake in oven until soft with a bit of a chewy outside. Be sure to watch them as they can cook quickly. Might also want to turn them over after a five minutes, although I don't always do that.

As my body isn't too happy when it eats gluten, I had a piece of Essene Bread toast. Made myself a cup of strong, mudlike coffee and all come together to = Sunday Brunch Perfect.

These yams are also excellent for dinners with salmon (or probably lots of stuff). In fact, I usually eat them for dinner. But they hit the spot in the morning, when I'm not in "traditional" breakfast mode.

image from here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wheat Free Crepe And Strawberry Breakfast Delight

Strawberries are in season here the Northern California. And I'm not talking about those anemic or orangey pink blobs that pass for an excuse of strawberry in stores. I'm talkin' bout blood red, luminescent, perfectly balanced sweet/tart vine ripened, picked the same day strawberries. I had never tasted a real one until I moved to California. Oh. My. God.

Now, some may herald the strawberry season with ideas of shortcake. Or on a piece of shortbread with custard underneath for a tart. But not me. For me it's all about the Strawberry Crepes.

...which I had for breakfast this morning, and for which I've been salivating about now for a couple of weeks, waiting for the strawberry vendors at the Farmer's Market to appear. I missed the week before, but not this last Saturday. I knew they'd be there. I wasn't disappointed.

I went to each strawberry stall and taste-tested them. I've discovered that it's actually the smaller varieties that tend to be sweeter. I looked around and only saw big ones. While a bit attituded at first, I kept on keeping on. I finally chose the first booth I had gone to. One has to try them all (just in case), but ultimately theirs had that perfect balance of sweet tanginess that I was searching for. Got my three baskets and away I went.

I'm not much of a savory crepe person. I'm actually not much of a dessert crepe person, either. Although these could work for dessert, I'm kinda odd in that if crepes are the after dinner option, I'll just take the guts. An exception might be Chocolate Mousse With Banana Crepes. But for the most part, I'd rather have the innards without the roll.

I also try to avoid wheat as much as possible as I've found that the cost/benefit ratio of eating it usually isn't worth it. While I intend on getting that fixed some day, I have a reaction to the wheat. Not totally over the edge into gluten intolerance, but I do get bloated for about three days. In addition, over time I've also lost the taste for most wheat concoctions. But that's for another post.

But Strawberries (soon Peach) Crepes for breakfast what to do? The call me like sirens. L'il boogers.

So this morning, for the first time since last summer I got to make my crepes. Oh, yum.

Wheat Free Crepe And Strawberry Breakfast Delight Recipe
(complete with the appropriate mindset, included)

I reverently got out the eggs, the cream (milk works, too), the stevia the cinnamon, the Trader Joe's Greek Yogurt, the almonds and syrup.

I said a prayer as I chunked almonds, tossed them into a dry pan, put them over medium heat to toast, then let them cool while doing the rest.

I meditated on the eggs as I cracked them open, thanking them for giving their little lives for my nourishment. Figure one egg per crepe. Put how many ever eggs into a bowl, add lots of milk/cream. Then a dash of salt. Put in tons of stevia and cinnamon.* I use about a half tsp. of both the stevia and cinnamon per egg. This sounds like(and is) lots (especially for the cinnamon), but it's not overpowering when cooked and all the elements are combined. Both will glump. This is OK, just combine it all as much as you can. Get out your crepe pan and cook it like you would any crepe. You'll find that they actually fluff up like actual eggy/omlettey consistency or overpowering taste.

I felt myself salivating as I topped the crepes with sliced strawberries, the toasted nuts, the yogurt and a small amount of syrup.

I then sat down, cut a piece, closed my eyes, took my first bite and reveled in the symphony my tastebuds were experiecing. Tart, sweet, creamy, fluffy, fresh, springy goodness. What a way to start the day smiling. Enjoy!


*More on the stevia and cinnamon:

I use Trader Darwin's (Joe's) stevia, not the pure stuff but the stuff that has added milk powder. Raw stevia is tricksy as it's so strong. Using a filler makes it more like measuring for sugar and it has less of the tinny taste. If you use the straight stuff, adjust.

The cinnamon does more than just give the whole a wonderful flavor. I am in the early (maybe not so early any more :) ) stages of insulin resistance syndrome. Cinnamon helps this tremendously. So adding tons of it helps control the insulin response/load of the strawberries and syrup. Also...making the crepes with only eggs helps in this, too. I don't think any of the taste is sacrificed, but, again, I don't like wheat much so that's pretty much a no brainer.

And, actually, as I was looking for stock photos, I realized that in the spirit of full discloser, I should share that I don't actually fold my crepes. I just leave 'em open. I'm lazy, I can have more guts to crepe ratio and they taste just as good.

pic from here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Springy Mint And Fennel Salad

It's Spring!!! The mints are coming, the mints are coming!

This is my my all time favorite salad of the past two years, and I eat it whenever I can find spearmint. I can have it multiple nights in a row and not tire of it. I got the original recipe from a great cookbook called "Best of Gourmet 2001: Featuring the Flavors of Sicily." You can also (of course ;) ) find the original on .

The first time I made it, I followed the recipe exactly. It combines frisee, watercress, mint, scallions, olive oil, lemon or vinegar and pine nuts. Although that combo is great and potentially addictive, my version takes it to the level of crack cocaine.

As I can hardly ever find a good frisee (not sure why, just happens to be that way), I use any sort of lettuce that I have around (barring iceberg). My favorite is a mix of green butterleaf...preferably the kind that comes with its roots still attached with a bit of potting soil. I then add a spring mix of baby greens. Watercress, if around and fresh is tasty.

Thinly slice fennel/anise. I primarily use the stalks and bulb, but also add some fronds.

Thinly slice some scallions

Tear lots of mint into smaller pieces.

Chop and toast almonds. (I love the taste of fresh pine nuts but am very sensitive to rancid oils and find very few pine nuts that haven't turned. Plus, I always have almonds around so the switch was easy for me. Plus they're quite tasty in this mix so a no brainer).

Put all together. Add a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Toss until lightly and evenly coated No need for lemon or vinegar, nonono. The oil and the flavors of the pure salad are enough to fill your taste buds with unimaginable delight. Not only does it taste great, but the mint and fennel are both herbs that make digestion happier.

Happy tummy, happy tastebuds, happy you and me.

Picture of fennel from here Mint from here

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Got salmon, arugula and mint in your fridge, don't know what to do with them? How about not having a great pecan pie recipe? Avocado, artichoke and leeks?

If you're like me and jealous of the natural cooks...those who can just take whatever seemingly disparate ingredients already in the kitchen and turn it into a gourmet can go to your computer and click on, plug in the stuff you want to use and get a list of recipes. You can sort them by ratings, ingredients or whatever. There's this online recipe box so you can save the ones you get addicted to. There are comments with people sharing how they altered the recipe,what worked and what didn't. Because I sort by fork rating, the dishes I've made are always excellent.

I keep learning lots and doing more and more intuitive cooking. I just found out about a book that should teach me even more. Will review it here some day. But in the meantime, thank GAWD for!!! No longer have to buy tons of recipe books (unless that's your thing, which I guess for "real" cooks it often is). I've been introduced to foodie dishes I never would have thought of, just by plugging in a few ingredients: Fennel/Fig cookies which were the star Christmas cookie this year turned out to the best foodie Fig Newtons with oomph I've ever had...who wudda thunk? Salmon With Arugula and Tomatoes; Salmon Mint and Basil... just tons of stuff, really.

So for those of us who didn't get the inborn ingredient-combination-gene and have to keep learning, we now have a friend. Enjoy the experimenting!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Breakfast Hash

Noooo, silly goosies...not THAT kind of hash!!! The food kind (and no, not the food kind that comes from that kind of hash butter, either).

The kind of hash you used to (and probably still) get at Greasy Spoons but all dolled up and spiffified into healthy eats. Almost the same thing as a Breakfast Scramble, I delineate the two as follows: Scrambles always have eggs (or tofu if you don't eat them). I may or may not include eggs in a hash, but always include a sort of starch (regular or sweet potato) or grain. They are, in fact, great for using up those small bits of leftover grains or taters.

Rice and quinoa are both good. I'm sure barley, rye, millet or any of the other wonderful grasses of the earth would work really well, too. But barley and rye affect me the same way wheat does and while millet is OK, it does not give me orgasms. The grain that does is Steel Cut Oats. I cook them on the "al dente" chewy side so they fluff instead of goo. Plus, we know me and chewy. Vital stuff.

This morning's version:

Sautee leeks, kale, garlic, mushrooms in olive oil. I steamed them a bit so they wouldn't stick.
Add the precooked oats (if cooking fresh, I usually make a fair amount so they are handydandy for other meals) and stir until all combined.
Turn off stove. Add tamari/soy sauce, lots of fresh dill and cilantro. Add sprouts (my mix was home sprouted garbanzos, azukis, black beans, lentils). Mix up so all is coated and hashy.
Put in bowl. Add avocado slices, chilies, and chunked almonds.

Although I didn't have an egg this morning, I often do an over-medium egg and lay it on top so that the gooey goodness of the yolk flows over the hash.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's Fer Dinner, Honey? Burritos!!!

I live in a household with two different eating patterns. One is mine, the flavor of which is slowly developing on this blog. The other is my Man. I'll call him "D" on here. He's a meat and potatoes guy. A before-his-heart-attack-last-year-no-vegetable-eating-guy.

Since that ever so fun episode, things with him are changing. It's been a fun challenge to get him to shift his diet in a way that supports better heart health. I've been easing him gently. Even though I have always been snarky and a brat to him about his eating patterns,* I have great compassion for him because he has to change the way he loves and is accustomed to eating. As I've said to him: I'd be really attituded if all of a sudden someone told me the only thing I could eat was cow meat.

Even though his eating habits have drastically changed, we still eat separate meals. Well...we often eat at the same time, but what we eat is very different.

For instance, last night, I had Salmon, Herbed Roasted Sweet Potatoes and a my favorite salad of mint and other goodies which I'll share soon.

He had burritos.

He luuuurrrrvvvves burritos. I love how easy and quick they are.

You'll need:

Protein- I always use chicken for him, although beef or turkey would be fine, too. If I was using tofu I would get the ultraultraextra firm sort (as I hate the squishy stuff)
Refried beans (this could be enough of the protein for most people. But not him)
Tortillas- as he's a Big Boy I get the gungahumungous ones.
Cheddar Cheese
Tomato sauce
Spices- Chili powder, powdered cumin, onion and garlic granules, orgegano

Sautee chicken/meat/protein. When done, slice, dice and shred with knife and fork. Return to pan. Add tomato sauce and a can of water. Let this all simmer until the sauce is thick
Heat beans. Shread lettuce, cheese. Slice tomatoes in smallish cubes.
Heat tortilla until soft (this is important so it doesn't tear when folded)
Put a layer of protein on the right side of center, leaving about 2/3 of the tortilla empty to the left of it and about a quarter to third empty at the bottom (damn I wish I had a camera).
Top with beans, then cheese, then lettuce, then tomato. Watch that it doesn't get too very much stuff as it will be a bitch to roll.
When the perfect amount is on there, roll the bottom up and hold it there. Then take the edge of the wrap and roll the stuff toward the other side of the empty tortilla. I usually put the burrito face down so it doesn't unroll and flop all over the place.

I don't usually eat burritos because of the wheat in the tortilla. Trader Joe's has a wonderful rice flour tortilla. But/ doesn't soften up too much and stiff burritos just don't make it. Plus I kinda got used to eating just the guts, sans tortilla a bowl. I didn't eat them last night as I had had a veggie bowl earlier that day for breakfast so was in the mood for the salmon that had to be eaten before it went bad.

But if I had been inclined to eat Mexican last night, I would have made rice in the same way I did the other words, cook it then add tomato and the spices. Instead of the alium granules, I would have used fresh onion and garlic (he likes the flavor of them but hates the texture). I would have then heated up some black beans. I would have made a salsa fresca (which is so easy to make, cheap and way better than store bought...will share that soon, too) with tons of fresh cilantro. Heap in some avocado and voila.

The good news about this dinner is that it's fast. If I had eaten, the rice would take some time, but often I have it in the fridge to use as needed. The other takes about a half hour to do everything if you slice and dice while the chicken is cooking, beans warming. If I had company and was serving more courses, I would probably add a jicama salad with lime, red onion, cabbage, cilantro and cayenne.

*As any self respecting food snob would.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Presto-Changeo Tabouli

Not your typical Middle Eastern variety, nope.

First off, Tabouli (or tabouleh) is traditionally made with couscous which is wheat. As I don't do wheat very often, I had to find a replacement. To my mind the perfect one is quinoa.

I'd like to sing the praises of quinoa and why I think it makes a superior Tabouli even if you eat tons of wheat and your body likes it.

First off is that the little grains are so cute. Check out their little tails. The grains kinda look like really interesting looking spermies (the kids love it when I say that stuff).

I cook my grains (rice, steel cut oats, quinoa) a bit on the chewy side. I add less water than the usual recipe calls for, adding more at the end if it looks too dry (it's all about balance). When cooked like this, Quinoa Tabouli is crunchy and crisp (=good), not mushy and soggy (= BAD).

But the quinoa virtues don't stop there. It has tons of nutrients and one of the highest protein contents of all the grains.

In this post, I talked about how using different herbs and spices can make a generic dish a different cuisine, depending on what was used.

For the Basic Tabouli Recipe, the springboard, the backbone, I make the quinoa. When the tails appear and the grain is chewy but done, I then remove from heat, putting it into a bowl and add olive oil, minced parsley and salt. Could it be any easier?

Now, depending on which cuisine I have a hankering for, I'll add different things.

Middle Eastern Tabouli- the traditional recipe calls for lemon juice, spring onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper added to the base dish. Don't by shy with any of those. I also add Greek olives, garbanzo beans, lots of feta, shrimp, thinly sliced, raw fennel, mint and shrimp. Sometimes I mix in some toasted almonds or pine nuts as I'm a nut freak. (What's life without crunch?) This dish is Totally Addicting, on the top list of requested summer dishes in my household.

Mexican Tabouli- add lemon and lime juice, red onions, lots of cilantro, tomatoes, peppers (green and/or red), strained whole black beans, cukes and/or celery, jicama, hot chilies, salt and black pepper. Avocado on each serving (but don't put it in the salad itself as if any is left over, the avocado won't keep.) I usually add shrimp or a white fish for protein.

Italian Tabouli- lemon, tomatoes, red onions, mozerella in small chunks (the stuff that comes in water not the stuff wrapped in plastic), basil, walnuts and/or pine nuts, shrimp, fennel.

Asian Tabouli- lime, ginger, shallots, spring onions, pea pods, sprouts, cilantro, toasted almonds (peanuts would be more authentic, but I don't usually have them around and I like almonds), hot peppers, sesame seeds, sliced and seared ahi layed over the top.

I always make Tabouli the meal, mixing it with lettuce (the kind usually depends on the dish, but a good romaine and mixed greens is always safe). I don't add any other dressings, except perhaps a tad bit more olive oil if needed to bring it all together. Anything else would detract from the dish.

So, yeah...Tabouli is really versatile. It's cheap and even cheaper if you leave out the feesh. It's quick and easy to make...neither stage takes much time or effort at all and there aren't any tricks or esoteric cooking skills required. It's great for summer. I make up a big batch then add the different things for variety on different nights . I have yet to get tired of it. It's a meal in itself, needing nothing more than a glass of wine to make life good.

Quinoa picture is from here. There is also a really nice writeup on the grain worth reading.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Transformative Magic Of Herbs And Spices

There are times I amaze myself (in both positive and eye rolling ways..not sure which one this story is :) )


So a few years back I has this, to me, culinary epiphany.

I was thinking about different types of cuisines. I was thinking about the ingredients, when it hit me: The key to a dish being Thai or Mexican or Italian or whatever was in part from the ingredients but primarily from the combination of herbs and spices.

Light bulbs turned into lightening bolts. I felt absolutely brilliant.

...then realized that probably everyone on the planet had figured that one out and I was just slow on the uptake.

Brilliant/slow? Brilliant/slow?

Whatever...I'm going with the former.

So, yeah...

Want a Mexican dish? Put in chili powder, cilantro (in it's leafy form) and it's seed/spice cumin, onions, tomatoes, salt, lemon, chilies, parsley and oregano. Onions, tomatoes, avocados, mangos, green and red peppers. If I want a more South American influence, I'll add garlic and cinnamon in addition to the above.

Asian Fushiony Thai? Ginger, garlic, cilantro, pepper paste, basil, lime leaves (I hear they are illegal here, but I can still get them so maybe you can, too), mint. Lime, green onions, shallot, papaya, mango.

Basil,bay, oregano, marjoram, garlic. Tomato, onion, green pepper, fish sauce, tamari.

Indian? Cumin, turmeric, mustard seed, tamarind, coriander, amchoor, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, asafoetida, garam masala, kalanji, saffron, fennel, mint, hot peppers. Sometimes garlic, onion, lemon, lime.

Tarragon, chervil, chives, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Mediterraneanish? Oregano, olive oil, onion, garlic, parsley, feta, olives

I know there are other herbs and spices that each cuisine uses, but I have these in my kitchen. There are foods that are better pairings for the different kinds of cuisines, but I'm not going to go into that today. Suffice it to say that I have made many basics then, changed them into a completely other dish, simply by playing with the spices and adding things to go along.

Wonder what I'm talking about? Check out the mutable magic of Tabouli....
(recipe(s) soon)

Herb Garden from here
Spices from here

Monday, March 2, 2009

Eating In The Wine Country

I ate most of my meals out last week.

The adventures started on Tuesday at the restaurant at L'Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley. I wish I had a camera to take proper pictures of the view and the food. But it is what it is :)

I am blessed to have a companion from my Courtesaning days who still takes me to marvelous meals. These meals are sweet interludes for me. We have great conversation, great food and completely adore doing it together because we are perfect partners in foodie crime.

We had eaten breakfast there before on one of our Napa jaunts, but this was my first luncheon experience there. Oh, Yum.

I love almost all vegetables, hate only a few. One of the few are Sunchokes or Jerusalem Artichokes. They aren't really artichokes, they are the roots of a type of sunflower. They are roots that taste vile to me. About a year ago, I noticed some at our Farmer's Market and forgot how much I hated them (as it had been about ten years since I'd had one). Mistake. Ba-luck.

Then a short while after that, this same foodie friend took me to The French Laundry. One of the courses was a Sunchoke soup.

As we were at TFL (for heaven's sake) I HAD to at least try it. First Second bite with a sip of the wine pairing...oh My GOD!! A food epiphany of the highest order. A new relationship with Sunchokes.

So when I saw the same sort of offering at lunch, I decided to see if the magic could return.

This restaurant offers double mini first courses that are paired both with each other and a glass of wine. I got

Sunchoke Soup with Crispy Fried Oyster and
Maine Rock Crab, Shallots and Bearnaise Glacage
Paired with an amazing Chardonnay

Yes, the magic returned. The soup was creamy with just a hint of the cursed sunchoke flavor...just enough to turn it's vile ickiness into "differently interesting." The wine made it whampowdelicious. The crab concoction was kinda like a mini pot pie thing...warm, with a light crusty thing on top. Scarf city...politely, of course.

For the second course we both had a difficult time deciding on the Grouper or the Ahi. So we did the smart thing and ordered, then shared, both. Good thinking on our parts.

Grouper came prepared with Chorizo (I was sausagely adventureous that day and ate to my heart's content), Escarole and Pimenton Nage. I sure wondered what that last thing was when I read it in the menu. It was the sauce, made from peppers, frothed and with all sorts of subtle, yummy flavorings. Great feesh course.

But we both thought the star of the meal was the Seared Ahi. It was on a serving of spinach, tapenade sprinkled throughout. But this was the cool part: on the side was an egg, perfectly soft boiled (yolk still perfectly gooey, no snot in the white). After that they put panko crust on it and flash fried it. Then they took a tiny piece of crustini and cut a hole in the center to hold the egg up, adding a sort of meshed potato chip triangle inserted in the egg for pretties. You break the egg so the yolk gooies go all over the dish. A. Ma. Zing. It sounded really unusual, so we had to try it and the combination was sublime. Highly recommended.

I didn't choose so well for my dessert. It was rice pudding with a sorbet, and some sort of squishy thing, paired with a Muscat. The quality was excellent, but what was I thinking? I'm not much of a sorbet person. My companion's chose really well, though...sauteed bananas on top of some sort of pecan tart thingie, with chocolate and an espresso froth. I was totally jealous and a bit frustrated as the way they described it, it certainly didn't sound like what it was. I am a pecan pieaholic and if I'd known I would have been in dessert heaven, too.

But, in the worries...cuz while making plans for this adventure, I made him promise to take me to Bouchon Bakery before we left.

Oh boy.

Let us all bow our heads in thanks that Bouchon has Almond Croissants again. Yes, they are Sacred.

I discovered Bouchon on a trip we made to Napa years ago. Since then I have made the two and a half hour drive there simply for the pastries. I cannot find as good of ones in Los Angeles or San Francisco. I doubt they exist. Even in France.

So it was with a light heart that I took a detour on my way to a birthday celebration lunch in the Bay Area last summer to treat my birthday self to some Almond Croissants.

I left with a heavy heart as they had discontinued Almond Croissants in favor of Raspberry Almond Croissants.'s not that they were bad. Not possible. But they weren't Almond Croissants, you see. I get that, don't you? I was devastated. I was told that I could order them on my next trip and the chef would happily accomodate me.

I spaced doing so this trip, but it didn't matter. It appears I was not the only person who wanted them back. Power To The People!!!

So, a few minutes after entering my favorite bakery in the world, I had tasty treats for me and my eldest daughter all safe and happy in their little brown and green box. And this time I didn't eat all of them on the way home. Cost benefit ratio is totally on the side of full-on bloat with these. Thank goddess I don't live near enough to go more than three times a year.

It had been raining for a week and was scheduled to rain again Wednesday. But that Tuesday, the sun was shining, the world was green and lovely. A truly beautiful, peace-filled, happy day. I am Blessed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Grapefruit, Avocado, Yogurt Delight

Combo always triggers a wrinkled brow when suggested, but always a smile once tasted (well, if you like the ingredients to begin with).

I learned to make it like this:

Peel and section the grapefruit like an orange. Peel off the skins so you have the tender inside bits bare naked, in their full slice form = Very Pretty.
Slice avocado
Place both on a plate in a pretty arrangement
Add some honey to yogurt to make it a bit saucy, then pour over the avo and GF in a perty artful fasion.
Sprinkle with nutmeg

I'm lazy. Plus I am addicted to nuts, adding them to lots of things for the crunch factor. Over time, the recipe and execution morphed into:

Slice GF in half. I lurve the Red variety. Get GF spoon (one of those little suckers with the knife-y edges on it). Take out the tender morsels in whatever way you can get them...if intact, great, if not, it works, too.
Slice avo (I usually use a half per person)
Put GF, avo, and a handful of almonds in a bowl.
Slop on yogurt (Nancy's is best....good tang)
Put a dab of maple syrup on (not too much...just a dab)
Sprinkle tons of cinnamon on top (helps with that glycemic stuff)
Stir so all sludged up.

Divine. Had it, this morning. Yum.

photo from here

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Fine Art Of Yogurt Pairing

I don't make yogurt from scratch. I've tried it, but found that the cost/benefit ratio of making it, given the varieties easily available to me, isn't worth it. Plus, somehow mine does not taste as good as the stuff I can buy.

Let me be clear...I don't mean Dannon yogurt. In nosying around google search, I found documents where Dannon says it's only gluten free yogurt is the plain. While not a consideration for everyone...I gotta ask...why the hell put gluten in yogurt...or any of the other crap that's not needed?

ANY yogurt eaten should contain...and ONLY contain...milk and bacteria. One kind I eat regularly has milk powder, too, but I count that as milk without the water. But that's it. No sugar. No corn syrup. No aspartame. No cornstarch, fructose, gelatin, malic acid, phosphates (are you kidding me??? phosphates???) and other stuff that's derived from other real food that are whole...but the stuff isn't. It's chemically processed. It's not nessary. And, the biggest affront of all: it makes for an inferior tasting product. What the heck is wrong with these cheaterly thickened, sweet milk, fake, yogurtlike stuff producers?

Rant over.

The bacteria that digest the milk into yogurt for us are our friends. They break down the unhappier elements of dairy that so many want to avoid and help us grow a happy intestinal tract with all their little lactobacillus glory. I love the way my daughter put it..."Mom..I love eating my bacteria poo every morning." ...the circle of life....


There are tons of different kinds of (non-Dannon) yogurts. I only buy nonsweetened, plain yogurt. Why? Because the sweetened kinds, even the healthy ones, are too sweet for me. Definitely too sweet for my morning meal.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about yogurt, eventually figuring out and discovering the Art Of Yogurt Pairing. These days I always have three kinds of plain yogurt in my fridge, available for different kinds of dishes.

Nancy's Organic Plain Non-Fat Yogurt

I tend to buy non-fat yogurt, not because of the fat content issue, but of the protein content one. If you look at the labels, you'll find that buying nonfat amps the protein by a factor of two, usually more. It's also tangier, if you want that. I, obviously, do.

You'll notice that Nancy only sells plain, vanilla and a honey yogurt. If she offers fruit, it's in a separate container on top. Nancy is the one who adds the milk powder.

I've been buying her product for over two decades. It used to be the only kind of yogurt I ate. My kids devoured it.

We consumed it in all sorts of ways in addition to simply adding fruits.

Indian food- I find it the best for raita because it's pretty tangy and not too thick. It makes outrageous lassi's. These are yogurt drinks. Put yogurt (1/4 cup or so), water, a drop of honey or maple syrup into a blender. Blend until the consistency you want it, adding more yogurt or water as the case may be for you. Indian restaurants usually add a drop of rose water. Quite yummy, if you ask me, but be careful how much you add. My kids usually put in way too much for my tastes.

Sour Cream replacement...if you are one who thinks the fats in sour cream are not what you want to put in your body but love the taste, adding yogurt instead totally changes that for you. You can still have the taste of the cream but instead of adding tons of fat, you are adding indesputable goodness. I have used it in my Gillette's Grandma's World Famous Sour Cream Coffee Cake (which has been dubbed the best coffee cake in the world by more than one person fortunate enough to have tasted/gluttoned on it and which may or may not be shared here as it's a closely guarded family secret ).

It is great for breakfast with puffed corn or rice, almonds and honey. Just add ingredients and sludgify.

It sill remains my favorite pairing for bananas, coconut and almonds. Or pineapple, coconut and almonds. The tangies complement the sweetnesses. No additional sugars are needed.

Nancy's is the ONLY variety to perfectly pair with my absolutely favorite way to eat yogurt these days: Grapefruit And Avocado Salad. Will share that recipe tomorrow.

So, as I mentioned that I used to only eat Nancy's. This was until the arrival of Trader's Joes in my life. We lurve Trader's Joe's for all sorts of reasons, one of which is these products:

Trader Joe's Plain Organic Non-Fat Yogurt

It's the best one for berries and berries are why I buy it. It's actually in a white container with the same cow, but I could not find an online pic. It's pretty bland, without the tang of Nancy's. It's runnier than I tend to like my yogurt, kind of like Pavel's Russian Yogurt, which I like but is not available at TJ's. But it's perfection for Blueberries and/or any other sort of berries. I always add nuts to my fruit/yogurt mixes. Because it's yummy-er. And because of the health benefits of adding a fat to counteract the sugars of the dairy and fruit high glycemic response. I find walnuts to be the best nut pairing for the berries. If I want things sweeter, for some reason I always use Stevia as the sweetener of choice for these berry/yogurt concoctions. And always cinnamon (again...aside from the yum factor it helps with the insulin response).

It's a good one for the raita, too, especially if you want it more saucy.

Trader Joe's Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

I got introduced to Greek Yogurt in Greece. It was Fage. OMG!!! Heaven...peaches and full fat fage on a boat at harbor in the Medterranian. It was sublime, creamy goodness.

I got home and Good Ole Fage wasn't around much in these parts, yet. It also costs an arm and a $5+ for a small container.

Then when TJ's came to town, I saw that they carried not only it, but their own, expensive-but-still-relatively-cheap-to-the-Fage Greek Yogurt. The picture on the right was pilfered from this blog. And the price is still pretty steep as you can see. But to this hedonist, it's money well spent.

This stuff is amazing. Greeks definitely have their yogurt down. If you put it on a fork, it sticks to it. Plus, if you buy the non-fat, it's got tons of protein.

I use this for treats. Like on top of my non-wheat crepes with fruits. And my Cooked Fruit Desserts. It's not as tangy as Nancy's, not as bland as TJ's cow stuff above. A dab is amazing on black beans, rice and salsa as a sour cream replacement. In fact, these days, if I use yogurt as a sour cream replacement, I use this stuff as it's more like sour cream than the Nancy's.

I usually have at least two containers in my fridge at all times for yogurt emergencies. Beyond yum.

And it's also fantatic all by its lonesome right outa the container. Or with peaches on a sailboat in any lake close to where you are.

I'm sure there are tons of new yogurt pairings to be discovered and explored. Would love anyone who comes by to share their favorite yogurt experiences.

Be well and give great thanks for the little bacteria.

Monday, February 16, 2009

'Tater Soup

It's been raining for days. Love it. Soup weather.

I don't know about you, but I get on craving jags with different soups each year. Three years ago it was Gypsy Soup (garbanzos, peppers, tomatoes and spicies). Last year it was Lentil with Kale. This year it's 'Tater Soup.

Ah, the potato...such a maligned food. I believe it's gotten its bad rap from the reductionist nutritionists who take everything down to molecules, forgetting that we know about 1/100th of what there is to know about the synergistic aspect of whole foods. (another ranty sort of post in the making about that one!)

Yes, it's a high glycemic index food. But when combined with fats, that aspect of it is toned down. It's high in vitamins, a "...source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.

Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals." (this quote taken from here, wherein you can read even more about the wonders of Mr. Potato).

This soup is amazingly simple. I got it from one of the two friends I've dubbed "My Iowa friends." It's actually, in the end, simply mashed potatoes in a soup base with cream and butter. I'm not much of a mashed potato sorta gal, but this soup...ah this soup. It invokes safety, cuddles and groundedness. My body feels happy after eating it. Yum.


5ish pounds of potatoes
A large onion or leeks ...depending on how alium-y you like your soup...I generally use two large leeks, sliced small or minced
Water or veggie broth to cover potatoes
Butter- a stick, preferably organic and NOT margarine
Cream- preferably organic
French Sea Salt
Parsley (if you want to get fancy)

Cut potatoes into a number of different sizes. When I first started to make this, I cut them all uniformly. I learned to cut about half of them in very smallish under 1`/2 inch. Then cube or whatever, the rest in larger pieces...closer to 1 1/2 or so. This way the smallish pieces fall apart to make a thick broth, but you still have the larger pieces to get hunkies of potatoes, which makes the soup satisfying.

Put potatoes and alium in pan. Cover with the broth or water. Cook until the large potato pieces are tender but not falling apart. Put in butter, and enough cream to give the broth some color, to taste. Add other stuff and serve.


As I use this for the main course of my meals, I want some protein. So I had this idea to put fish in. I got totally addicted to Psarosoupa (fish soup) in Greece. This is a much simpler way to make it and the fish does not overpower. I never had that problem in Greece, where each family has their own recipe, but when I tried to make it, I guess I overcooked the fish stock or something. Plus, my understanding from a couple of cooks over there, they use this really small fish to make the stock and we don't have it here. This recipe of potatoe soup tasted close enough to those traditional soups to bring back memories of balmy nights on the beach tavernas after a day of sailing. I use Rock Fish or Cod. Cook up (I generaly fry/steam it in Grapeseed oil). Add to the soup after it's in the bowl. If I have leftovers, I store the fish seperately and add at the end of heating up the soup so as to warm it but not recook it.

You can also add other veggies. My daughter makes an Italian version of the soup with kale and Italian sausage, fewer potatoes and more cream.

While the variations are wonderful, for me, it's the simplicity of the potaoes, and the mild fish that keep calling me back. Yup...this is what's for dinner tonight. I'm trying it in the crockpot for the first time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Me And Meat

Yeah. So...vegetarianism. Almost always associated with healthy eating. Often a cause for which people are willing to do all sorts of reactionary deeds, from trying to convert others to "The One Right Way" to attacking fur wearing individuals.

To them I say: Yawn. I see you as Vegeterrorists.

Gillette at age 16....reading all sorts of esoteric treatises from all sorts of spiritual paths about that "One Right Way." One Teacher said that since all of Life is energy, and that everything is connected, when we eat the flesh of something that has been killed, we eat the energy of trauma that the animal felt when it was in the stock yard and then cruelly killed. Didn't appeal. I started the process of stopping eating flesh.

Chicken was easy. My Mom and I used to get KFC and put it in the oven to crisp up. Yum. But then there was the issue of veins snapping back when I would eat the legs. Eeeuw. It was the first to go.

Then I let go of beef. Not a well received decision, given that my grandparents were in the cattle raising business. When I was a kid, I used to cry hearing the young steers braying in the fields at weaning and de-balling times. But yeah...tongue sandwiches. Burgers on the grill. "Rocky Mountain Oysters." Pickled Pigs Feet. Steaks. This was my Midwestern legacy.

So there I was, age 16...the Teenage Vegetarian Weirdo smack dab of middle America in 1972. I was a freak. The last thing to go was crab on my birthday at age 17. But I was ready.

My lacto-ovo vegetarianism was not something I found difficult. I am such a hedonist, that if it had been, I probably wouldn't have been one for 28 years. I never missed flesh. Didn't want it.

Until I hit age 45-6ish. For some reason, all of a sudden I wanted fish. Or as I call it...feesh. I then went from cooked fish to sushi in about three months.

In the interim, I never proselytized. As I have said, I don't care what you eat. It's none of my business. I also think that some bodies require meat to be whole and healthy, others don't. Sorry...I simply don't believe there is only One Way. (even though, as I have clearly indicated, I do have my opinions...and that, obviously, my opinion that there isn't only One Way is, itself, an indication that I think that "The Way," yes?...ah...Gillette...).

I am now 52. I enjoy all sorts of feesh and seafoods. Since age 50, I've been trying more land animals. I'm able to consume a bit of fois gras (because when I do, it's at a top notch restaurant, with an amazing wine pairing and accompaniments). I've made pate at home and can have one bite. I'm able to eat a small, couple bite lamb chop and then I'm done. I tried one steak at The French Laundry. Got down two bites and then I was done. Word has it by my two steak eating companions that it was the best on the planet, so my guess is it's safe to say I'm not a steak fan. Venison, the same. I'm able to eat small pieces of pork items in small amounts in things that disguise it.

I'm not sure if I will ever want a full portion of land animal food. I don't force myself, I merely listen to urges and experiment. It's all about fun.

I don't usually talk about my preferences in the flesh department but I am doing so here to explain one aspect of this blog. Although I've always lived with meat eaters and cooked for them, I don't taste the stuff so have no idea if the dishes are good or not. The eaters tell me they are. And they eat the stuff. And they are not polite enough to eat crap, so I believe them.

I confess, I've never gotten the beef thing down. Anything but hamburger in small bits and chicken fried steak always end up tough. Ironically, even though chicken is the LAST thing I would eat (ba-luck, veins), my kids all say I make the best chicken they've ever tasted outside a high end restaurant. Go figure.

But the upshot is that you won't find much in the way of recipes of the landlocked/airborne flesh sort here.

Unless I start to eat more of them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kale, Feta and Sun Dried Tomato Scramble

The current favorite incarnation of the Sublime Scramble. If you've never made a scramble before or want some new tricks, see about the basics here.

I generally make this for one (that would be me. There is usually a bit left over for a mid-morning snack the next's good cold, too):

Eggs- 2
Kale- 1 1/2 c current favorite is the curly variety. Dino is good, too....well...actually they're all good
Leeks- 1/2-3/4 c raw
Mushrooms- three large crimini or any other sort
Garlic- as much or little as the mood strikes you
Sun Dried Tomatoes-about 2 TBS...the best I've tasted are the Julienne Strip ones from Trader Joe's. Yum.
Feta- about 2-3TBS
Fresh basil leaves or pesto to taste
Walnuts- to taste...I generally do about 1/4 c
Hot chili peppers (if'n you like yer food spicy)- to taste
Oil- preferably olive or grapeseed..1-2 TB

Chop all veggies. Mince garlic if you use it. Put oil in pan. I put all the veg in at the same time for this one. Stir and cook, watching that the kale doesn't stick and burn...might want to add a couple of TB of water after a few minutes of sauteeing to steam it.

When veggies are cooked to your liking, add the eggs, the cheese and the tomatoes. Scramble until thickened to your desired tastey doneness.

Top with basil, walnuts, and chilis if you desire.

Great with green tea or a cup of good, strong coffee. Also goes great with a piece of Essene bread toasted, with almond butter.

Put on some nice classical music in the background, sit by a window looking out over the great Earth and enjoy this most wonderful way to start the day with all senses aglow and happy healthy food in your belly.

Picture of curly Kale from here This site looks great for gardeners!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sublime Scramble

Ah, breakfast. If we believe Jack and others, it's the most important meal of the day.

Scrambles. My favorite.

One of the things I like about them is that they can be the repository for that little bit of leftovers all mishmashed together with a bit of cheese and seasonings to create an endless variety of tasty breakfast meals. The end result is that they end up more than the sum of their pieces and parts. And what better way to get in a bunch of veggies?

In fact, mine are generally mostly veggies, with the egg barely holding them together. Since crunch is one of my favorite flavors, I almost always put in some sort of nut. Always a cheese. Usually an herb or two...when possible, sprinkled fresh over the top. Sometimes I even put in leftover grains. They truly do taste yummy with the egg, even though they don't sound like they would. I'll be sharing different combos I've developed, but would love to suggest that you be bold and give things a try. You might be really surprised at what you come up with.

Basic cooking directions-

Most of mine have some sort of allium- onion, shallot, garlic, scallion, etc. These days my allium of choice is leeks. I'm addicted. I know the most American's are most familiar with them in soups. But they're great sauteed. Just cut the greenest stem off and mince, cooking like you would any onion.

Chop other veggies. For a single serving, I generally use 1-2 eggs (two ends up being too much food for me, but they're good cold, for a healthy snack). Veggie amounts? Raw, I usually have 2-3 cups with every thing combined. They cook down. If you want meats, then get them together- cook your bacon and crumble, get your ham in bite-able hunks, whatever. Get out your nuts, cheese and herbs. Lightly whisk the eggs. Everything is now eager and happy to be combined to sublimeness.

Put oil in your pan (butter, olive, grapeseed, etc.). You want enough to give it some oomph, but you don't want overly oily scrambles. I usually use about a TB of oil for a single serving. I'm not that worried if there's a bit more because healthy oils are GOOD for me. But I want it to taste good. It's all about the taste.

Heat the oil...medium heat is OK, but watch it. Put in the allium(s) for a minute. Then add the other veggies. If you have veggies that take varying amounts of time to cook, put the more hardy ones in first and cook for awhile, like you would do with a stir fry. If I have kale (which I generally do), then I will often put in some water (2-3 TBS) for it to steam as I don't want it to stick and burn.

You want the veggies to be slightly undercooked, still having substance and taste. You can tell when they're ready when they are bright colored and/or you take out a piece and it's a little less cooked than you would normally like it. (If you aren't a cook, ultimately all this stuff becomes second nature, but everything takes time to learn.)

When the veggies are in their perfect state of delicious doneness, add your whisked eggs and the cheese. Cooking the cheese with the eggs( instead of adding it at the end to melt) renders a different quality to the dish. It's these subtle differences which all add up to something being amazing vs. good. These things are Important.

We all have our preferences in eggs. Some are quite passionate about it and will send their eggs back if a restaurant over or under cooks them. I, myself, prefer my scrambled eggs a bit on the side of overdoneness. Just watch them. When they are your verson of perfect, happy eggy goodness, serve, adding nuts either at the end in the pan or simply on top. I usually add my herbs after serving.

Voila...protein, veg, vitamin goodness all rolled up into a far better breakfast scramble than you can find at any high end restaurant. And oooh...the endless possibilities for discovering new, uncharted tasty combos...!!! Makes me very happy.

(And darn I wish I had a camera. Not much in the stock photo department with egg scrambles. Will post one when I get one)

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Flavor Of Food Snobbery mostly about me and what I'm willing to put in my mouth.

I eat whole foods. Usually organic. Usually locally grown fruit, veg and nuts. Why? Partly because they are healthier for me. Partly because I can as I live in California in an area which grows just about everything. Mostly because they simply taste better (once you allow your taste buds to remember what real food tastes like).

I eat real, whole oils and fats. I avoid sugar and other foods that adversely affect me (wheat, corn and some other grains). This does not mean I never eat them. But I know when and how I will pay the price if I do.

Yeah, I have a can or four...I'm not completely neurotic about this stuff it's just how my life evolved given my choices. But my pantry has very few boxes and cans. Most of my food comes in bulk or without packaging. I do most of my cooking from scratch. It's not difficult and (usually) doesn't take as long as advertised. It's worth it to me. It tastes better. And for this hedonist, it's gotta taste good or I spit it out.

I don't care what you eat. It's your body and you get to do what you want with it.

But that does not mean that I don't have opinions. (Gee...imagine that? A Leo with an opinion!)
And I have more than a few in the food and nutrition department.

And I do get a different kind of snobby then the just me snobby sort from time to time.

Just being honest.

Where does my impatient food snobbery show up?

-If you tell me that all sweeteners are the same
-If you tell me that eating canned veggies is the same as eating fresh.
-If you tell me that the only thing that matters in losing weight is the caloric count of a food
-If you tell me you are depressed or bi-polar and have to be on meds when you eat a diet that consists primarily of chemicalized shaiza...or that your ADD child is not affected by the abysmal lunch you pack for him...and you are unwilling to TRY to eat healthily before turning to meds that are dangerous
-When I hear that real food somehow doesn't taste as good as crap food
-Or that it's too expensive to eat healthy
-when people tell me their M.D. said it's perfectly OK to eat shaiza...when I know allopathy knows very little about food and how it works
-When people tell me that low fat foods are good for me...or margarine...or Splenda

And I know there are more. I'll be addressing all these in future posts, but mostly focusing on the fun stuff.

We are what we eat.

I want The Best for my body. That means I want it to taste better than just good. That also means I want it to be a good thing for my health.

I admit it. I am a food snob. But a cute one. Usually.

image from here

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Good Day!

I've been blogging in the relationship/sex blog world for a few years now. I love food and consider myself a cute, unpretentious food snob. I've been thinking about starting a foodie blog for some time now. And we go.

The header art is by Frieda Kahlo. It's been cropped from her painting "Still Life With Parrot."

My intention is to combine art, food (both that I cook and from restaurants I may visit) and fun. I have no clue as to where this will go. Unfortunately I don't have a camera at this time (mine's broken and has not been replaced). So pics will have to be stock for the time being.