Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the chicken coop

late in october i moved in with two other ladies: ms kerry & ms olive. we live in an upstairs flat on the best street in oakland. we have a lemon tree and a cat named louis that came with the apartment. there is a big kitchen, a garden and a laundry room downstairs. we call it the chicken coop.

kerry and olive are both artists, and so am i. sometimes we hang out together in the kitchen and drink wine while we make our own dinners. sometimes we're all at home quietly working on projects. we all like going to bed early most of the time. sometimes they wash my dishes for me. i can't believe how lucky i am to have found them.

home is the most important place in the world.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

spice alphabet



bay leaves

black pepper


celery seeds

chili flakes

chili powder




cumin seed



five spice


herbs de provence

fennel seeds

long pepper

mustard seeds








white pepper


Saturday, December 4, 2010

pie off

today i took the entire day off to make a single pie. i am participating in an event called pie off.
it is 11:30 and i still haven't made my pie. the judging starts at 4:00. i have spent almost $50 on making this pie. okay, maybe $35.

i bought butter, milk and cream. i bought 32 ounces of maple syrup because that was the best price per ounce and i want to start making decisions like a financially solvent person. i went to a second location and bought pumpkins: two sugar pie and one japanese pumpkin; a tiny kabocha. i also needed a pie pan.

arriving home i consulted a few different recipes for pie crust. i made one very large recipe and fifteen minutes later decided that by the way it looked and felt it i knew wasn't a winning crust, and that i really wanted to win pie off. i started over with are recipe i made up on the spot. crust #1 went into the trash.

when i finally had a crust i was happy with rolled out and chilling in my freezer i walked to the liquor store by my house and bought some dried beans to weigh it down before i could blind bake. i'm serious.

i have mostly baked and cooked my entire working life, and while i think nothing of spending an hour making a weekday meal even just for myself, i seldom if ever bake at home. it's much more difficult than doing it at work.

pie off. wish me luck.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

blender sauce

for a long time i had a boyfriend i lived with, and we cooked all the time. it's been two months and as okay as i feel this morning i was up at seven biking around oakland crying. it was something i read that set me off.

i was with nate in the grocery store last week buying caramel apples, and someone was listening to what we were talking about... "you know how me and your dad are both chefs? we really fight about food." we had a style we called vitalitarian. it had something to do with eating lamb chops and a lot of raw vegetables. there was more to it than that, but i'm being flip.

this is what we made the last time we cooked dinner together: gluten free (corn) pasta with blender (tomato) sauce and live dinosaur kale salad.

it was right after i told nate me and his papa weren't going to be together forever and that we were breaking up and i was going to move. he said he was surprised, but that it was okay. he rubbed my leg while i tried not to cry. then he asked me to help him with his homework so we could do something fun. we walked to the corner store and bought ice cream and lottery tickets.

josh was at a meeting, and while he was gone i picked all the tomatoes out of our backyard garden. raised beds that he made for me. we collaborated and josh took care of the kale salad when he got home.

blender sauce is something i learned to make from my mom, and a version is in the cookbook of family recipes that she made for me. it's more method than recipe. same with the kale.

blender sauce

1. depending on their size saute slice 1 to 2 onions and cook over low heat with generous olive oil until clear, but not caramelized.

2. wash all of your tomatoes, about two pounds, which could be 4 to 5 really big tomatoes or 10 little guys. cut them in half around their equators and squeeze out the tomato water and seeds.

3. put cooked onions, raw tomatoes, maybe two branches worth of basil leaves and 1 to 3 cloves of fresh garlic in the blender. puree. re-warm the pasta in the sauce. it's better that way.

kale salad

1. wash 1 bunch dinosaur kale. roll the leave tightly and cut straight across (ribbon-cut).

2. add citrus juice or apple cider vinegar and salt and squeeze the leaves with your hands until they soften.

3. dress with a little bit of olive oil and adjust the seasonings.

we were a great team at dinnertime.

Monday, September 6, 2010

summer supper

dinner party @ local 123. summer supper

* happy boy farms mixed watermelon salad with honey chili lime and mint dressing

* polenta timbale with heirloom tomato sauce, summer vegetables and fresh pesto

* creme fraiche panna cotta with local strawberries and crushed maple candied almonds

* glass of wine/beer/coffee

$30 per person



Saturday, September 4, 2010

the healing power of soup

coming up on three years now, and it's over between me and my donutman. right now i'm feeling it less in my heart and more in my stomach. it's unseasonably cold, and we have been apart. i haven't seen nathan in at least three weeks. we both tried our best, and now i'm home alone in our home that i will have to leave soon.

so much of what we had was so good, especially in the kitchen. because of josh i saw how much was possible for me. i made a cookbook that went much bigger than i expected. i have my first ever position as a chef. i had half a kid to love.

with so much lost i haven't been able to eat or sleep, almost at all, and having breaking up be my idea doesn't make it any better. i'm back in town and it's cold outside at my desk in my old room.

while i was away my kitchen hummed along without me. not too many mistakes. this morning i told a friend about my eating problem and he suggested soup. thank you for reminding me of who i am, friend. at 123 my kitchen team took care of the soup for me. this morning i'm eating carrot ginger soup alone at my desk broken hearted. it's a start.

Carrot Ginger Soup

2 onions, sliced

3” ginger, cut into coins

¼ c. olive oil

1 Tbsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. paprika

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

1/8 tsp. cayenne

¼ c. rice

8-10 carrots (2#) peeled and cut into 1” chunks

6-8 c. water

1. In a large stockpot combine onions, ginger, olive oil, spices, and salt. Cook covered over low heat until onions are soft and clear.

  1. Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook a few minutes, until grains are clear on the edges.

  1. Add carrots and water, and simmer until very tender.

  1. Remove ginger coins and bay leaves, and puree in a blender until smooth.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

jons street eats

jon is my hero.

my basic understanding is that jon was on his was to opening a restaurant somewhere in oakland, maybe on auto row or in uptown, but when the economy tanked he lost his investors. through some combination of inspiration or necessity jon brought his food to the street using a food cart, not even a full on truck.

there are usually about five items available, always driven by the season, including a special drink, and sometimes a dessert. his motto is slow food kind of fast.

right now i'm obsessed with the grilled corn. it's served kind of mexican style with lime aioli, grana padana, and chili flakes. it's so good it makes me laugh and cry. nate the great tried it one time and dubbed it heaven.

jon has been at it just over a year now, and i eat his food every chance i get. find them at bike church at manifesto bicycles, art murmer, stanford at hollis in emeryville, and kitty's bar.

peach chutney

this chutney was served at the first dinner party at local 123. originally it was part of a picnic plate with perfect potato salad and fra'mani sausages, but also made it's way into a few chutney goat sandwiches with happy boy lettuces.

1 # peaches, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots
2 " fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp.-1 tbsp. apple cider or white vinegar

1. prepare peaches and set aside.

2. in a dry pan over low heat toast the coriander and mustard seeds gently.

3. add olive oil, shallots, ginger and salt and cook over medium heat until caramelized.

4. add peaches and sugar.

5. cook until mixture has thickened slightly.

6. add vinegar to taste.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

dinner and a movie

first ever summer supper at local 123:

* olive tapenade toasts and assorted salumi

* fra'mani handcrafted sausages with summer potato salad and housemade peach chutney

* happy boy lettuces with fresh herbs and pickled beets

* bittersweet pot de creme

* choice of wine, beer or coffee

$25 per person. 6 to 8pm friday july 23rd
local 123, 2049 san palbo avenue, berekeley

go here to purchase your ticket:

"delikatessen" a french dark comedy about meat and love, directed by marc caro and jean-pierre jeunet will be screened in the back courtyard at sunset following the meal.

please join us for an evening of libations, sausages, dessert and meaty romance-the best kind!

rebecca stevens, chef

Friday, July 9, 2010

recipe testing

maybe it's due to my baking background, but i know how to make a recipe. even for savory dishes. i take out my cups and spoons and measure everything that goes into the bowl until the food is where i want it to be. but in everyday life i put things together with what i have on hand in combinations that may never again be replicated. here are some things i've made lately without a recipe.

for my boyfriend josh on father's day eaten on our back porch in oakland: flank steak marinated with a half-empty jar of el porteno chimichuri sauce, BLT salad, and roasted potatoes with tarragon aioli made in a blender.

same porch with my mom a few days later: BLT made on a quarter wheel of sweet adeline cornbread, bacon from ver brugge, same aioli and lettuce and tomatoes from the berkeley bowl.

in our trailer "the golden nugget" the day before 4th of july: tacos made with trader joe's fish crispies, guacamole, two kinds of hot sauce and raw cabbage, cilantro, white onion and lime wedges. on this trip i seasoned only with salt, and you know what? everything still tasted great.

you don't always need a recipe.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

recipes for summer

there is a part and place in my creative process where i think i'll never finish. it happens when i'm about 80 to 85% there. it seems impossible. i think i'll never accomplish anything. i think about doing it, but i don't do it. i think about what other people are doing. getting depressed is part of my process.

i want to make another cookbook with recipes for summer. this is my recipe for perfect potato salad.

perfect potato salad

1 1/2 pounds golden fleshed potatoes

1/4 c. olive oil
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 tbsp. dijon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. seasalt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

3 to 5 ribs of celery
3 scallions

1. put the potatoes in cold, well salted water in a medium sized pot. bring to a boil. lower the heat to a simmer and cook until easily pierced with a small knife.

2. whisk the olive oil, mustards, lemon juice, salt and pepper together. add scallions and celery.

3. slice the potatoes into quarter moons when they are still warm, but cool enough to handle. add potatoes into the dressing.

this is the basic recipe, but it can be expanded upon. some excellent substitutions are using fennel instead of celery. adding italian parsley in addition to scallions is what i do if i have both. just using a lot of basil as the herb can be sexy.

this salad is perfect next to a sausage, but is also really good with dabs of seared sausage stirred into it, especially sausage with fennel seeds if you are using fennel bulb instead of celery. also nice with cold slices of roasted meat if you are lucky enough to live with someone who still makes roasts.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

pirate soda bread

pirate soda bread is the invention of a bread genius named eric that i worked for age 21 to 22.

i call it pirate for two reasons: 1. that i recreated the recipe from observation, but was never given the recipe, making the recipe technically stolen, and 2. the whisky, so loved by pirates.

this bread is so irresistible i usually give the second loaf away. it is best eaten toasted with unsalted butter.

pirate soda bread

1 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. white flour
1 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. molasses
2 oz. melted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten

20 turkish apricots or prunes, soaked overnight in 1/4 c. whisky

3/4 c. currants

1. whisk together dry ingredients and make a well in the center.

2. add all wet ingredients and dried fruits and mix quickly until just combined.

3. form into 2 balls and bake at 375 for 10 minutes, and lower to 350 and bake for 20-25 minutes more.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

portland part three

a lot has changed since my trip to portland. mostly i changed jobs. the right way this time with a respectful letter of resignation, two weeks notice and a plan. i'm at local 123 now on the green belt of san pablo in berkeley, california.

i'll be making soup again. we have a sandwich on the menu that i made up called the salty goat. it has goat cheese, happy boy farms letttuce and my recipe for olive tapanade, with a whisper of orange zest and thyme. i'm a chef again. savory and sweet.

everyone has their own strengths in the kitchen, and every person i work with and job i have leaves me with a little something i learned. a little system or trick, a different way of doing something. even the people and jobs that i didn't like.

when i went to portland i knew i needed to get away and look at my life from a different angle. luckily i fell deeply back in love with food. when i arrived in portland and my sweet chefriend tressa introduced me to everyone as the first chef that she worked under i was in a fog of self doubt.

a few days later in her kitchen at home i teased and reprimanded her about chopping wet parsley. i saw her struggle to slice olives off of their pits. she didn't know that you can pit olives by crushing them under a juice glass. a good chef is a teacher.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

san francisco underground farmers market

the haul:

4 san francisco homegrown avocados
1/4 loaf gluten free rye bread
1 macaroon
homemade mustard
raw oakland honey
2 sea salty chocolate chippers
some of the best beef jerky i ever had

Monday, April 5, 2010

perfect asparagus soup

i'm working on my next recipe book called recipes for spring. i decided to start with soup.

asparagus soup

2 bundles asparagus, 1’ chunks, tough bottoms reserved

1 leek, white and light green into quarter moons, tough dark bottom part 1 “ chunks

1 onion, cut in half

1 ½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. white pepper

3 black peppercorns

8 c. water

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 strips orange peel

1 bay leaf

3 small waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

juice of 1 orange

1. in a small stockpot combine asparagus and leek trim, ½ yellow onion, water, ½ tsp. sea salt, ½ tsp. white pepper and black peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes.

2. in another small stockpot combine olive oil, leek, ½ yellow onion, orange peel, bay leaf and 1 tsp. sea salt. Cook medium until tender.

3. add potatoes to onion mixture and strain stock directly into 2nd pot. Cook until potatoes are tender.

4. add asparagus and cook until just done, about 2 minutes.

5. remove orange peel and bay leaf and puree in a blender in batches with orange juice.

6. garnish with orange-mint gremolata.

orange-mint gremolata

zest of one orange

several branches of mint, leaves removed and cut into a fine ribbon cut (about 1/4 c.)

1 clove of garlic, grated

2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil

big pinch sea salt

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

portland part two

let's just say that the first day of spring is march 21st. after the gala at salt, fire and time my friends all went to a house party, but i went to bed. still on my early morning bakers schedule i was up at 7:30 walking down alberta.

i seldom go to yoga classes, but today i did. hatha yoga. the focus is on your breathe.

i had a text from shunafresh with answers to the question: i'm in pdx where must i go? this was how i found random order coffehouse and bakery. i introduced myself to the baker, but i didn't say good-bye when i left. it wasn't exactly that the bacon cheddar scallion muffin made me cry, but as i sat eating and looking up at their menu board i couldn't help it.

bob's red mill corn, handmade all butter crust, maybe 13 flavors of pie. one day into my trip and i'd already gotten a lot of the perspective i was looking for. i missed my pepples. i miss working with high integrity food. i was humbled by this muffin, and a day or two later the coconut cream pie.

i went back to my friends house and made everyone breakfast. it was a frittata in honor of spring portland style. here is the recipe:

big yukon gold potatoes from the bargain bin at alberta food co-op sliced and simmered until tender in salted water.

yellow onion and fennel cut saute slice and caramelized in raw butter

5 chicken eggs from chickens we knew personally whisked together with a splash of raw milk, basil, the last green onion in the house and a few lonely tablespoons of goatcheese.

potatoes get added to onion fennel mixture, and then egg mixture to that. all gets baked in a 325 oven until just set in the center.

my friend and i ate outside by the coop.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


i'm never sure when the first day of spring is. march 20th or 21st? my parents anniversary. march has always been significant for me. it's my birthday on the 29th and often the time of year when i make moves, change jobs and start projects. it's the beginning of spring, and the end of bundling up.

i've been at my latest job for a year now. there has been a lot of rain and to my dismay i haven't been feeling very grateful for everything in my life that's good. i smartly made a plan to get away to visit my old friend tressafresh in portland.

for some reason i hadn't packed and was chilled out on the other side of town eating a hamburger at mealticket. it was a mad dash to the airport but my boyfriendhero got me there in time.

when i landed i took the lightrail to a central location and was picked up and taken to a gala party at the salt, fire and time kitchen. tressa was there and she was in full goddess mode: strapless gray dress and red high heels. she had a team of what looked like gender queer american apparel models mindfully plating hor douvres and washing dishes in the open industrial kitchen.

the rose cardamom kombucha was flowing, a guy name dj lifepartner was djing with his laptop, and a crowd of amicable food obsessed portlanders gathered.

after the raffle of local products and services including lamb bacon and yoga classes we all helped clean up. my new friends went to a dance party, but i just went to bed.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

jerk chicken salad

i met a lot of great cooks when i worked at brown sugar kitchen: shunafresh lydon, dre penny, amyfresh shaw, and queen tanya. lotsa ladies in that kitchen.

me and joshfresh were living in west oakland at the time and i really needed to catch a break and find a job. i had flirted, stopped by, dropped my resume but no phonecall. i came in a lot and ate at the counter. finally one day chef tanya asked me if i was still looking for work and i started within a couple of days. the day i came in to interview i met shuna who at the time i only knew from the internet. just walked right up and shook her hand and i haven't been the same since. it was my first time working in a restaurant that had just opened.

amyfresh shaw is a well seasoned chef who at one time was jimmymealtickets boss at 4th street grill. she is known to some as the leftover queen. even though we were very busy there was often food left over at the end of the day. fried chicken and cornbread mostly. her genius solution was something like this: romaine, celery, radish, cherry tomatoes, chopped cold fried chicken, garlicky cornbread croutons and a creamy viniagrette with tarragon. like an italian bread salad all souled out.

that salad was somewhere in my memory bank last weekend when i was keeping an eye on natefresh who was having a fizzy drink stand in our front yard.

the chicken was from yardie jerk a west oakland spot on san pablo at 32nd. chefgene actually built the smoker behind brown sugar kitchen when he was the tenant. yardie doesn't keep consistent hours so if the open sign is lit, pull over. his jerk chicken is divine.

my salad was something like this: red romaine, romanita tomatoes, celery, avocado, radish, daikon sprouts, carrot, pulled jerk chicken, lemon juice dressing and cornbread from sweet adeline on the side.

we ate on our front porch.

Monday, February 22, 2010

circus cookies

last week was winter break and we had nathan. i was doing one of my early morning baking shifts and got word from joshfresh that he was having one of his donut emergencies, and could i take nathan? i had plans to deliver cookbooks in sanfrancisco.

i biked home, got the bug and picked nate up at the donut factory in west oakland.

we dropped some books off at atomic garden in oakland and hit the bridge.

our first sanfrancisco stop was the curiosity shoppe in the mission, where famous blogger heidi swanson bought her copy of souplove. we stayed a while and got back in the car to go to the outer sunset to visit our friend serena one of the owners of general store, that also carries my book.

i just recently discovered this magical block and while i'd definitely noticed trouble coffee i had never bought anything there. natefresh was antsy so i let him go next door. he bought us two circus cookies and one glass of milk. they upsold him on the milk but it was the right idea and probably organic. the cookies had looked good when we walked by.

circus cookies are basic chocolate chip with, i shit you not, crackerjacks baked into them. they were also slightly underset in the middle which i normally don't like, but did. they tasted like childhood.

nate and i walked to the beach eating our cookies, and went on to have more fun than i can remember having. so much much epic fun. i went along with the idea of taking off our shoes and going into the water, even though it was so cold, and i'm sure his mom would have *so* not appreciated us doing that.

soggy and wet we decided to stay and eat in the city. we went to outerlands and this is what we had: hot lemon ginger apple ciders, artichoke with aioli, bacon, leek and cheese tart with green salad, shepards pie, braised cabbage with dark toasted almonds and coffee pot de creme with mixed citrus supremes. all delivered to us with true sacred service.

nathan drew pictures of the ocean while we waited for our food. they are on display in the kitchen gallery at outerlands.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

hearts and crafts

valentine love faire at local 123

2049 san pablo in berkeley
february 14
3 to 7

hand made local craft featuring:

amanda gordon: conceptual artisan
chef beckyfresh with her cookbook souplove
ms. jules of thread together handmade
lisa aurora: fine feathered finds
lizzy b. sweatshop-free handmade panties
lori lockheart: vintage love beads
steffy sue on the uke
queen tatiana of florentinacraft: love infused apothacary

and josh the donut man with new flavors

thank you katy and frieda.
best valentines day ever.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


my first trip to outerlands was right around new years. dm had been out of town for a few days and i'de been having a good time finishing projects and reflecting. a few of my foodie friends had mentioned outerlands; it was on my list. i had a free sunday and use of a car so i went.

outerlands captures both my personal and culinary aesthetic. it's simple and small with most of the kitchen visible. behind the stove is a row of made-there loaves of bread, and the walls are covered in driftwood mosaics. everything looked handmade.

dining here was a magical experience. i was seated outside. i had my own water pitcher, and although all the small wares were from ikea the effect was heath pottery. it was a brunch day and there were maybe six choices. i had the savory pancake with bacon, a side of salad greens, and a hot lemon ginger apple cider. it looked and tasted like they'de steeped organic apple juice on the stove with coins of ginger and then juiced half a lemon and added it right before they serve it to you. so good.

the food runners were cute. kind of a matched set, they had gucci mohawks and wore their rags for wiping down tables in the back like little tails. they made up for their lack of professional serving skills by being caring and genuine.

posted in outerlands i found my new motto: to the past thanks. to the future yes. outerlands: outer sunset in san francisco on judah at 45th. they share their block with some other interesting businesses; trouble coffee co. and general store where you can buy my cookbook souplove.