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Appetizers, Salads, Sides, Snacks

The “Don’t be a hero” Dishes.

November 30, 2016


Tis the season to look at your calendar and ponder how it became, seemingly overnight, a microcosm of our universe in its ordered chaos. After enduring several holiday seasons that left me dizzy-as-a-whirling-dervish come January (in no small part due to my STUNNINGLY foolish ideas to make sure everyone is properly accounted for via homemade peanut butter cups, or a 6-hr cajeta, or a hand painted wrapping theme…WELCOME TO BEING YOUR OWN DAMN KRAMPUS Y’ALL), I’ve spent the last couple of years painstakingly simplifying the season in the hopes of returning it to a place of joy, with time spent in calm appreciation of those around me. All that is basically a euphemism for “come at me with one more time constraint and I spend Christmas as Margot Tenenbaum in the tub”. Thus, my holiday party style has become one of being polite, but not a hero.
The best way to go about that is two-fold:
1. Don’t say yes to anything you have to “figure out”. Either it fits in your schedule or it doesn’t, pop-culture acronyms be damned.  If you have to say no to someone who will be heartbroken at your lack of attendance, send them a bottle of something you know they’ll like with an open-ended lunch invite for the new year. This is the “don’t be a hero part”.
2. Don’t show up empty-handed, but do choose something completely simple to bring. This is the “be polite” part. If you can make that something an *unexpected* something, no one will see past the creativity to grasp how little time it took.
With recipes below, here are a few options I’ll be using this season:
Grapes 1

Crostini with pâté, roasted grapes, and a charred-herb salsa:

This…this!  It’s a favorite. You can buy the pâté at the store (I adore Fabrique Delices Duck Mousse with Port Wine if you can find it), roast off the grapes the morning of, and make the salsa up to 5 days in advance. The whole thing is perfect at room temperature, and assembly is as simple as a shmear, a plunk and a drizz.

[recipe id=”686″]
Endive 1

Endive cups with walnut, bleu, tart cherry and pear:

All this app requires is a bit of knife work and a spoon, and can be made a day in advance, which, albeit not *easier*, is a much kinder gluten-free option than rifling through your produce drawer to hand Candace that half-eaten bag of dried up baby carrots before getting back to your good time.

[recipe id=”685″]

Carrot Salad.

Shaved carrot salad with hazelnuts and black garlic dressing:
If you’re going to a dinner, this is the EASIEST. Do you know how to peel a carrot?  Great. Keep on peeling until they’re a tangle of ribbons that resembles the wrapping supplies you threw in the closet with exasperation and blissfully forgot about for a year. You can shave the carrots a day ahead, the dressing can be made a week in advance, it’s gf, df, veegs, and gives reason for the lingering zoodle trend to finally succumb to its rightful culinary dirt nap.

[recipe id=”681″]

Whether you endeavor to be the consummate hostess or the consummate guest, I hope these time-conscious options serve your purposes well.  Happy Holidays!

*It’s worth noting that I cooked, assembled, styled and shot all of these in under two hours, so believe me when I say that whipping just one of these up is a breeze!

Appetizers, Brunch, Lunch, Salads, Sides

Dirt Rubies & Rosé.

July 2, 2016

Formality might dictate that we call what is happening outside right now “summer” but to me it’s “tomato season” (See also:  dirt ruby season; ‘mater time; vine candy days). It’s not hard to glean from previous posts that I’m a veg-centric chick, and tomatoes are the sun around which all other fruits and vegetables orbit in my universe. I love and respect them deeply, grew 12 of my own plants last year carrying them in and outside each day until the night air was warm enough to welcome them, and will spend my life chasing down the perfect recreation of my grandmothers’ summer tomato salad. The excitement I displayed when a fellow Jersey girl informed me that Rutgers had created a hybrid to bring back the perfectly juicy jersey beefsteak tomatoes of our childhood clearly disturbed her California-native husband, but neither of us cared because our sole purpose in life had just shifted to acquiring one of these vines and no judgment could stop us. I don’t even let the grocery guys bag for me for fear of them bruising or puncturing what I spent no less than 5 minutes choosing.

In the course of this love affair, I’ve pushed the envelope of seasonality many times, only to learn my lesson each time (a stark contrast to other arenas in which I’ve pushed the envelope and…well, basically learned nothing except sometimes you can push the envelope). The disappointment I associate with a mealy, flash-gas ripened, flavorless, out of season tomato isn’t much different than what I feel for a gross bottle of “nice” wine (read: over $20, insert see-no-evil-monkey emoji here). As such, I try to keep my tomato intake for the year between the months of July and September, difficult as it may be as this extrapolates to BLT’s and most crostini (a favorite post-work dinner). There’s rarely a day in this ambling season that I don’t eat at least one tomato, and currently have several macerating in a champagne vinaigrette on my counter.


Right. Yes. The reason we are here is that I want to share some of those good good recipes for those good good dirt rubies. This happens to also be a season requiring the least manipulation of ingredients for an incredible outcome, so none of this takes long at all, and like most of my food, is meant to be shared al fresco with a glass of seasonal grape juice (namely a sauvingnon blanc or rosé).

Sidenote: Babs just texted to let my brother and I know that there was a huge thunderstorm happening in our native NewJ. I made her record me a soundbite that I’ve now listened to 4 times and I tell you what, I am getting truly verklempt missing those hot, humid summer days when wrathful weather would sweep through the hills and across the fields, battering the flower beds and soaking the stones, only to give way to rainbows, glistening golden hours, and the smell of minerals as the rain evaporated off of those sun-heated stones, giving way to warm nights and hoards of fireflies. FUG I MISS MY HOME AND EARNING EVERY GORGEOUS SEASON. The tempestuous nature of east coast seasons resonates so very deeply with my character; this california sunshine is infuriatingly consistent and chipper and I just don’t relate. Maybe I’ll move back if Hill is elected. If Trump is elected…..DUECES FREAKS IT’S ABROAD LIVIN’ FOR THIS BROAD.

Back to our regularly scheduled program, here are a few super simple tomato recipes to class up your backyard bbq’s this weekend, wherever it may have you!

Tomato salad 1-4

Tomato salad 1

Tomato salad 1-3

[recipe id=”611″]

[recipe id=”609″]

[recipe id=”608″]

Appetizers, Mains

Spring Flatbreads.

June 2, 2016

Sometimes I don’t have much to say about a recipe, or what inspired it. Sometimes it’s just driven by an experimental spirit. I certainly don’t want to try to squeeze blood out of a stone in an attempt at a fully fleshed out post, because whenever I do that I wind up with something infuriatingly trite. In this case I got excited about spring vegetables, read Local Milk’s newest post on flatbreads, and decided to try my hand at it.  Really it was an exercise in styling a food shoot, in which I learned that morning overcast is the best light ever if you don’t want to spend loads of time in Lightroom, and that I’m hopelessly addicted to abundance and curated messes, try as I might to navigate the ever-enticing minimalism of todays design and decorating musings.

So, with that, I say give these a go while the ingredients are still available (a painfully short window when considering they are baby plants from first-thaw), invite some friends over for a mise-en-place-party, pour some rosé, and enjoy the first few days of al fresco opportunities!

Garlic Scape, Oyster Mushroom and Fiddlehead Flatbread   Flatbreads 2

Asparagus, Ramp, radish, flatbread

Asparagus, Ramp, Oyster Mushroom, blossom, radish, egg flatbread


[recipe id=”595″]

Appetizers, Snacks

Fried Green Tomatoes with Tzatziki.

September 11, 2015

Tomatoes are probably my single favorite source of calories. I eat them as often as possible in as myriad ways as possible.  Unlike other vegetables (fruits, dirt candies, edible ovaries, WHATEVER), I get unreasonably upset when I buy a bad tomato. Also unlike other vegetables, when I get a good tomato, I turn into a full heathen, juice down my face, not caring that I ate the part where the stem is. I also use them (PRO TIP!) as a gauge to tell if my knives are sharp.

This year, I’m growing my own because I have the space and farmers market tomatoes are priced like loose diamonds. I just got back in from pruning them, talking to them, and making them cozy, and I’m now comfortable admitting that I went beautifully overboard with twelve separate varieties that I planted WAY too close together.  LEARNING EXPERIENCES, HOMIES. 

At this point, they’ve branched out into two long rows, indistinguishable from one another save for fruit shapes. In other words I NEED TO DO A LOT OF PRUNING.  Sometimes it doesn’t go well.  Sometimes I host my own impromptu, un-face-space-related hack-a-thon. Sometimes, like any NORMAL ADULT HUMAN I start ripping and clipping branches away like Christmas morning, seeking the bounty within. Sometimes I clip the wrong branch.  Sometimes I clip a branch with fruit on it and as a result I wonder who gave me a college degree. BUT THEN I REMEMBER FRIED GREEN TOMATOES ARE A THING AND I’M COOL WITH IT.

I have to suspect that clever (albeit as hack-a-thon-proned as I) southerners figured this out to also save their gorgeous young tomatoes, and I thank them dearly for that (as well as for saving me the embarrassment of a semi-public tantrum as I plunk down in the dirt, clutching sticky tomato stems, cursing my cavalier cutting, as chitlin in the playground across the street stare, probably thinking I’m upset because I have so many vegetables to eat).


Tzatziki mise


Tomatoes mise

Tomatoes assembly line

Tomatoes Frying

Tomatoes Final

[recipe id=”110″]


Devils on Horseback.

July 26, 2015

Truth be told, when I decided to start a blog, I only planned to post once a week.  A schedule more demanding than that threatened both the integrity of the recipes and my threshold for burnout. Then my focus in the grocery store made a small shift from “what do I want to make” to “what can I showcase from this season”. Immediately after that happened the myriad fruits and vegetables that are in season right now, for not very long, jumped up and bit me in the bum, demanding a cameo while the window is still open.

Enter, the fig.  I’ve been side-eyeing them for a while, wanting them for no particular reason or recipe.  I’d walked away until now because all I was thinking of was a plentiful cheese plate with nuts and figs and honey drizzles and a crisp baguette. Then the reality of the cost of that set in, and it became a much less desirable treat-meal-for-one, as it so often happens when desire meets reality (other common meeting places for a desire v. reality battle royale: foie gras, duck, wild salmon, lobster rolls, oysters, caviar and truffles).  Ultimately, because I’ve purported myself to be (and believe myself to be) all about ‘dem seasonal ingredients, I can’t circumvent one of the top fruits of the summer. So let’s make devils on horseback!

Weird name, and I won’t pretend to know the origins of it, but devils on horseback is the only thing I’ve ever seen my unfailingly reserved and modest uncle George get gluttonous about.  It’s a fig, cut in half, with a small nugget of bleu cheese stuffed in its cavity, wrapped in bacon and broiled.  When I first read that off of the menu at Freemans on the LES, the heavens opened up (then my friend called to say she was scared to walk down the alley to the restaurant and I, ever the jerk who will not placate your irrational behavior, yelled at her until she walked down the beautifully lit, potted plant lined alley and in the door). They’re an awesome warm app, or, if you’re like me and would rather have cheese than dessert at the end of a meal, a really great closer, drizzled with honey.

Mise Cheesed2





[recipe id=”298″]