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Brunch, Cocktails, Lunch, Salads, Sides

Watermelon Serrano Salad.

September 1, 2016

Here’s a fun confession:  I’m a terrible eater. I’ve taken to laughing and telling people to “eat as I cook, not as I eat” when they suggest that I must eat amazingly as I serve them what I’ve prepared. The truth is that while doing the shopping for them, I forget to shop for myself (or choose not to for various reasons including checkout line politeness and tax math).  As a result, I often wind up grabbing something as sustaining yet healthy as I can find from some grab-and-go section, or even sometimes rolling through McDonalds for a trusty #2 (no mustard, yellow mustard is the mustard of sociopaths) on my way to the job. That is if I even remember to eat, which doesn’t happen as often as any medical professional (or all-around reasonable person) would like. Eating before 2pm is a rare triumph that I celebrate by texting my friends who remind me that if I were normal I would be a hangry hellbeast like the rest of them. (Relevant side note: this doesn’t even elicit the culturally positive result of being “perfectly” skinny, so don’t go getting jealous of my un-mandated dietary restrictiveness.)

Preparing food requires a lot of tasting-as-you-go to check seasonings and mouthfeel, so hunger doesn’t often register until I’m back home, out of my chef clogs, and entirely unwilling to prepare something for myself that takes more than 10 minutes. This is why “family meal” exists in restaurants. You might say “enter: the sandwich, dingus!”, but I try not to keep bread around too often. That said, if there isn’t bread around, I’m probably not eating. If there is bread, I’m probably making a BLT. Every other 10-minute meal feels like a carb bomb that I don’t need late at night, or too light and healthy to put a dent in what is now a pit in my stomach as deep and dark as my abyss of a soul.

So, I’m making an effort to do some sort of meal prep. I can’t (read: won’t) do a giant cook-off for myself of things I can then portion into containers and store in the fridge because 1. I’m too fickle about cravings, 2. After 2 days that shit is just SADDDDDD, 3. After I’ve done giant cook-offs for clients I’m in no mood to do that again and not get paid for it, and 4. The ease of meal prep comes with ease of recipes, and I can’t just grill off a piece of chicken; it needs some interest and interest takes time. What I can easily do is make big batches of lettuce-free salads that get better with time and maceration.

Last week I made a huge batch of greek salad and was truly so proud of myself that I felt sure that I was on the road to my best life. I should bottle the juice that forms at the bottom of that bowl and mix it with vodka for a brunch shot; mimosas can take a seat.

This week I want to make a different salad I’ve been making for clients and bringing to pot lucks (hint hint holiday weekend!). It’s so simple, fairly unexpected, takes nearly no time to make, and a big batch of the dressing works well with almost any summer salad that incorporates fruit (I also use it on a salad with nectarines, balsamic caramelized cippolini onions and hazelnuts). Bonus point: you can use the juice that gathers at the bottom to make a yummy little tequila cocktail or shot chaser!

Watermelon Serrano 1-2
1. Pick up two of the same size and always choose the heavier one. I tend to pick up between 5-7 for comparison but I’m the most anal retentive produce shopper you’ll likely see in the grocery store.2. Look for one that has a bright yellow patch. This means the melon wasn’t moved much during growth, letting the flavors really concentrate.
3. Seedless is important, save the seeded watermelons for the kiddos, they love to have spitting contests.
4. If you’re unsure between two watermelons, knock on them like you would a door. The one that sounds the densest is the one to go with.

Watermelon Serrano 1

[recipe id=”622″]

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

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[recipe id=”609″]

[recipe id=”608″]

Brunch, Lunch, Mains, Salads, Sides

Fennel & Citrus Salad.

March 25, 2016

Easter weekend is upon us and this year I’m choosing to celebrate by 1. Thanking our resurrected savior that I don’t have to attend yet another recipe-recycled brunch buffet at the club, eyes scalded by the omnipresence of Lilly Pulitzers overstated prints, and 2. By bringing an unassuming salad to a friends’ pot luck (to which I’ll be wearing a Mara Hoffman frock that immediately contradicts my disdain for Lilly’s designs in color saturation though not form).

I dreamt the dish up for a job interview ages ago and was subsequently offered the job. It’s secured me a couple of jobs, in fact.  I don’t know anyone else who’s been hired for a salad, but for someone who is determined to resurrect salads from the doldrums of caesar and spring greens, I hold that fact in high regard.

This salad is the freshest, brightest version of winters vegetables I’ve ever known, and satisfying as all getup when accompanied by seared and sliced duck breast. Plunk it on your table as a refreshing departure from the crouton-box salads we’ve played out, or, if you’re as over ham as I am, make it as a bed for a platter of duck breast.

Fennel Salad 2

Fennel Salad 3

Fennel Salad 4


[recipe id=”552″]

Brunch, Lunch, Mains

Chanterelle Quiche.

October 29, 2015

I recently went on a jaunt up to Seattle and Olympic National Park with Babs.  Not only did I embrace all the drip droppity draps of rain that fell from grey skies like the pluviophile I am, but my eyeballs soaked in the most vibrant greens in the blankets of moss dappled with mushrooms on every trail, and soaked in tubs sans drought-guilt, and slept like a bump on a log every exhausted night.

While I favored the trails and trees to the city, I will say that Pike Place Market puts all others to shame, and it is my favorite tiny nook of the tiny bit of Seattle that I saw. It had me feelin’ itself so bad that I suggested we cancel the only nice dinner plans we had so we could buy some local mushrooms and pastas and play around in our tiny airbnb kitchen.  Babs was not into it. But that did not stop me, no ma’am.

On our way to the airport, I made a game-time decision as we passed the market that she needed to let me out of the car and circle the block.  I’ll call when I’m ready.  It’ll only take a sec.  Once more into the breach I went, like a bloodhound on the scent, to where I remembered a pile of golden-glowing, fresh foraged chanterelles for many, many dollars less than anywhere else on this parched coast. And so, I requested that the shady looking vendor, whose hooded shadow made this mission feel even more covert than originally anticipated, keep filling up the bag until I tell him to stop (which was an arbitrary-but-hopeful estimation of how much room I had left in my carry-on).  I paid, ate a persimmon sample, and made the call for the pickup.

We went to the airport, TSA made the TOTALLY REASONABLE AND NOT AT ALL LAUGHABLE DECISION to confiscate my Tasmanian leatherwood honey but not bat an eye at the 2lbs of unmarked mushrooms in my bag.  And so I was off (2 hours earlier than I needed to be – Babs gets stressed over the weirdest things like unloading the rental car and taking the shuttle to the terminal), back to California, with some gametime ‘shrooms that I could experiment with.

I did some crostini for a friend’s birthday party, which were great, but right now I’m really feeling quiche, so here’s a quiche, it’s so quiche (hashtag Ja’mie private school girl).


Chanterelle Quiche No2 3

Chanterelle Quiche No2 2


[recipe id=”518″]