Monday, December 30, 2013

winter alphabet

braising greens
brussels sprouts
dandelion greens
meyer lemons
satsuma mandarins
winter squash

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

warm saffron-honey milk

ceramic spoons by brianna aalborg-volper

i was inspired to share this recipe when i saw this recent post by a food blogger that i like.

i learned to make this when i was pastry-sous at venus. 
my chef had been to india and had learned how to make it there.

the combination of saffron, honey and ginger is an intriguing departure from hot chocolate.

warm saffron-honey milk
makes one-two cups

whole organic milk, preferably raw, measured into one or two mugs

7 coins fresh ginger
generous spoonful raw honey
big pinch saffron threads
one whole cardamon pod, crushed
tiny pinch salt

1. combine all in a heavy bottomed pot over low heat.

2. stir occasionally until honey is dissolved and milk is warmed through, heating very slowly to allow the milk to reduce slightly. 

3. strain into a warmed mug.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

esalen breakfast

sometime i think this blog should be called "things to do with leftover rice".
pictured above is something my dear friend valerie made for me during one of my latest portland oregon culinary retreats. something she called esalen breakfast; which was actually leftover brown rice (soaked before cooking, of course), fresh pears, dried plums, a little water to help things along, walnuts and a dab of raw coconut oil. something she learned to make during her time living and cooking at the legendary retreat center.

when i am busy in my life in the east bay i don't often make a hot cereal at home, but i do sometimes bundle up and bike to bartavelle in berkeley for perfect porridge. it is a mixture of brown and red rice, quinoa, amaranth and flax seeds slowly cooked overnight. there are options but i nearly always choose savory with ghee, sea salt and dates. 

to quote the awesome rachel cole, whose book, the porridge manifesto is in the backgroud above, "an amazing life starts with an amazing breakfast." 

it's cold out there. start your day correctly.

Monday, December 9, 2013

spirit foods

above my spirit meal.

in my childhood it was always a bockwurst sausage, macaroni and cheese, apple sauce and saurkraut. the way my mom made it maximized colors, with purple kraut and bright orange mac from a box. i sometimes leave that element out now, or buy the organic mac in a box instead, which actually isn't as good.

my boyfriend has a thing for canned chili over rice. of course it can be dressed up with a little avocado and hot sauce or even grated cheddar cheese if we have some around, but the only necessary part really is the canned chili; one of the first things he ever cooked for himself.

my spirit kid nate likes chicken ramen with a little green onion and a few drops of sesame oil. or plain is good too and yes he can make it himself. one ice cube to cool it down, please.

my friend olive likes trail-mix. it isn't a spirit meal, more a spirit snack, and if you asked her she would probably say something great about the juxtaposition of the virtue of nuts and raisins mixed with the excitement of chocolate and how every bite offers a different texture.

find the recipe for i created just for her: trailblazer mix, here: in the back section of my latest: LOVESANDWICH.

what are the ingredients in your spirit meals? 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

full belly farm part two

this is me in the pomegranate trees.

every year that i can, i attend the hoes down festival at full belly farm. this year i fulfilled a dream of finally going camping with my dear friend olivia.

while i didn't see quite as many friends as i sometimes do, some of the women of berkeley acupuncture project were there giving free treatments and so was chef charlie, who despite his fame was volunteering in the kitchen sunday morning to make breakfast. we also reunited with our wonderful former kitchen co-worker and friend may, who is now hard at work at say hay farms.

for me the highlight of this particular year was a workshop that could have been called, "so you think you want to start a farm" with farmer chris hay of say hay farms. chris practices certified organic, ecologically sustainable, integrated farming. he talked about solving problems and then going right into solving the next problem and needing to be okay and not taking it out on the few people around you. it reminded me of certain aspects of being a chef and it also reminded me of something my brother once said that i will never forgot: "work, life and love are all four letter words that mean the same thing." whether you are a chef or a farmer the love part is important.

as far as i know the eggs from say hay farms are the best eggs available anywhere. a dozen is eight dollars. that's 66 cents an egg and that is not expensive. it is clear to me when i eat these eggs that they have more nutritional value. aside from superior taste that comes from a diverse diet of vegetable scraps and bugs, i find myself sustained for hours.

this annual festival "dedicated to honoring and promoting the knowledge of sustainable rural living through inspiration and education" has a rare integrity. truly green: there are water taps to re-fill the bottle that you bring, all food waste is composted, and the plates that deliver delicious made-from-scratch food are washed by volunteers after meals.

i always return home from full belly farm feeling fully fed and connected.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

summer vegetable frittata

LOVESANDWICH is a little book with recipes for picnics. each section is loosely arranged into a picnic menu celebrating spring or summer produce.

this morning i made a variation of one of the recipes in the first chapter, the only breakfast themed menu in the book, by making a spring vegetable frittata using summer vegetables.

today i used shallots, two kinds of summer squash from lucero farms, scallions i had almost forgotten about, dried thyme and goat cheese that was left over from making salty goat sandwiches. i wanted basil, but i didn't want to go to the store.

frittata is an excellent fridge-cleaner. and really on this one i offer more of a method than a recipe. 


1. pre-cook vegetables of your choice accordingly.

2. in a cast iron pan with generous olive oil and salt, cook the onions and/or other aromatics until tender.

3. in a medium bowl combine eggs, olive oil, herbs and salt. whisk vigorously for one full minute.

4. add vegetables, onions and cheese if using, to egg mixture and pour back into the same cast iron pan.

5. bake at 325 for about 25 minutes, until set in the center.

6. cool slightly and slice into wedges.

more details are in the book!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

the salty goat


over the next few weeks i am going to feature pictures, recipes, and the stories behind the recipes from my latest cookbook lovesandwich: 32 simple recipes for picnics.

a few years ago i had a great job working at, and developing the menu for local 123. one of my first assignments was a new vegetarian sandwich. ease of preparation and simplicity were important. the salty goat has just three components: olive tapenade, goat cheese and greens. 

i based my tapenade recipe from what i observed being made at the phoenix pastificio where i worked over 15 years ago. i'm not sure that i ever actually made the olive tapenade there, but i do remember that part of my job was to squeeze each and every kalamata olive destined to be part of the olive bread to check for pits.

people like whimsically named sandwiches, so the name was supposed to be a reference to what i thought meant something like "wacky guy" in mexican slang, but i've never fully confirmed that-everyone i ask has a different answer. 

 a fruity goat is a good variation. simply substitute super easy apricot chutney for the tapenade.

if you want to forgo bread make a salad with goat cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes and use the tapenade as a rich and delicious salad dressing. 

the salty goat is a simple sandwich that travels well. a nice one to take on a picnic.

olive tapenade

4 oz. mixed green and black olives

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley
1 tsp. capers
1 tsp. fresh herbs (thyme, tender rosemary, mint...)
1/4 tsp. orange zest

1. crush olives using the bottom of a juice glass and remove pits

2. hand chop olives, parsley, capers and herbs and mix with olive oil and orange zest.

3. combine with goat cheese and greens to make a sandwich, use as a dressing, or dab onto almost anything.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

summer alphabet

dry farmed early girls
romano beans

Friday, July 5, 2013

summer solstice

and just like that it was summer.

this year i spent the first days of summer at camp tipsy with joshie, some of his friends, and for the last night and day; nate and olive.

it's not very often we get to spend so many days alone in the quiet away from the city and our work. i planned our meals this time so we had a beautiful dinner every night, usually sharing a big salad out of the same bowl.

in the quiet i figured out some of what is next.

for the rest of the summer i am going to feature recipes from my latest cookbook as well as out-takes that didn't make it into print.

happy summer. so far so good.

camp tipsy salad

one head red leaf romaine
handful of flat leaf parsley
2 nectarines (or 3 pluots, 5 apricots, peaches or cherries)
one avocado

one shallot, extra fine dice
sherry vinegar
olive oil

1. trim off the sandy bottom and carefully rinse romaine and tear into pieces. pick parsley leaves and cut nectarines and avocado into large chunks.

2. put shallot into a small bowl with just enough vinegar to cover and a generous pinch of salt. let sit as long as you can stand it, then whisk in olive oil to your taste.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

cheese puffs

a few months ago my mom and i submitted a recipe to a contest in food and wine magazine. it was for the kerrygold company, and the requirement was a recipe that featured both butter and cheese.

certain that we might win i was excited to be traveling to a food and wine extravaganza in austin, texas, but with no word yet dear readers; i will be sharing this adaptation of a family recipe with you.

a while ago my dad reminded me of how extraordinary my mom is, with the example that she is "so quiet" that he has to look around the house to determine whether or not she is home.

there are so many other things: lynne stevens started her career using a manual typewriter and was soon in high demand for her shorthand and dictaphone skills. she has worked at magazines and in advertising doing cut and paste production and is now literate in several design programs. she is fluent in both mac and PC. an avid gardener and cook she believes "by hand" is usually the best way. she works at a women's literary club in san francisco that will remain nameless.

she typeset both of my cookbooks. she always made ten or more different varieties of cookies at christmas time. she stayed home. she went to work. she drove me places and picked me up late at night. she taught me how to drive. once, when i was inconsolably heartbroken somewhere around age 30 she offered to wash my hair and i accepted.

i know how to cook because of my mom. prodigious herself, i grew up with recipes from mastering the art of french cooking. she took me to hear julia child speak. i had a child sized pasta machine and would make pasta until all of the chairs and broom handles were put into use as drying racks or until we ran out of flour. whatever came first. i rolled out a lot of fondant. and i think the main thing was that she never attempted to steered me in some other direction.

these puffs make an elegant spring nibble. something to have with a cocktail. something nice to have ready in the freezer. you and your guests are worth any trouble. thank you for teaching me everything i know.

cheese puffs 
makes about four dozen

1 loaf pullman bread or other firm un-sliced white bread 

4 oz kerrygold butter
3 oz natural cream cheese
4 oz. kerrygold dubliner cheese, grated
1 tsp. dijon mustard

2 egg whites

1. trim crust from bread and cut loaf into 1-inch cubes.

2.  using a double boiler combine butter, cream cheese, dubliner cheese and dijon and beat until smooth.  

3. beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into melted cheese mixture. 

4. dip bread cubes into cheese mixture and place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze solid.

5. to finish bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until browned. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

peanut-sesame noodles

todays recipe is based very closely on a recipe from the ny times by sam sifton. when i originally saw this recipe i had never had, or heard of take-out sesame noodles. this recipe so intrigued me that it made it's way into my most sacred hand written recipe book. note the little stains on the paper.

there are a lot of differences between the east and west coasts. during my brief time living in new york, working there, and when i was in cooking school i noticed fewer vegetables on the plate.

this recipe is fabulous as written; the kind of thing you might scarf down straight from the fridge. but as a california girl, a west coast person, this is how i adapted this classic warm weather recipe.

i bought the egg noodles and cucumbers at the berkeley bowl, and the radishes and scallions at the new tuesday farmers market near sweet adeline. everything else was already in our pantry.
peanut-sesame noodles

1 pound fresh chinese egg noodles

3 1/2 T. soy sauce
3 T. toasted sesame oil
2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
2 T. tahini
1-2 T. chunky peanut butter
1 T. grated ginger
2 tsp. grated garlic
2 tsp. chili-garlic paste

6 scallions cut into 2" lengths
2-3 persian cucumbers cut into fine batons to match the size of the noodles
1 bunch radishes, cut in half, and then into wedges

black or blonde sesame seeds and/or chopped roasted peanuts

1. cook the noodles until just done in well salted boiling water. rinse well with cold water and drain thoroughly.

2. in a large bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients. i use a microplane for both the ginger and garlic. add noodles and combine.

3. fold in vegetables reserving a few scallions and radish wedges to garnish the top. sesame seeds and/or peanuts add texture and are a nice touch as well. serve chilled.

Monday, April 29, 2013

italian style fried rice

i always feel good when i have leftover rice from my rice cooker and am able to use it all up without wasting any of it. lately my main interests with my cooking are health and economy. i hate to waste food and i want to be as healthy as possible.

on this thread i have sometimes been making fried rice in the morning with seasonal vegetables like asparagus and spring onions along with chilis, ginger, garlic, tamari and sometimes toasted sesame oil.

this afternoon i was inspired and decided to use the same method to achieve a very different and delicious result. this was all made with food i had on hand at home.

italian style fried rice
serves one

part of a cauliflower
half a bulb of fennel
3 green onions
a few sprigs of basil
olive oil
leftover rice
one egg
a few gratings of parmesan
fennel fronds

1. in a medium sized pan saute sliced vegetables, onions and basil with olive oil and salt until golden.

2. add about half a cup of cold rice, breaking up a little bit on top of the vegetables. heat for a few minutes and stir together.

3. in a medium sized bowl combine the egg with parmesan, a tiny splash of cold water and a big pinch of sea salt and whisk with a fork for one minute.

4. lower heat to medium low and pour egg mixture over the rice and vegetable mixture. allow to cook briefly and fold over using a spatula a few times until the egg is set.

5. garnish with chopped fennel frond.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

pork of my heart

i recently had the pleasure of preparing a special birthday dinner for a friend. when she asked me i was a little bit hesitant, but i am so glad that i said yes.

being in the event business herself, pilar was a dream client. she swung by my work with a little list that included a few foods that she wasn't interested in and finished with this, "i love pork and pork products." here's what i came up with:

the menu

* candied bacon, two goat cheeses; one creamy, one crumbly, rosemary seasalt walnuts, pomegranate seeds, crackers and assorted acme breads 

* pumpkin soup with sage-parsley-miso & pine nut pesto

* baby spinach & mixed green salad with endive and apples with apple cider vinaigrette and maple candied pepitas

* spice roasted pork shoulder with mashed sweet potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts

sounds good right? well, despite all of my experience in the kitchen i did not have confidence cooking a roast, so i called my longtime friend matthew in seattle to ask for help. i consider him to be something of a pork expert. he walked me through the candied bacon and pork roast. here's how you do the roast:

spice rub for pork 

3/4 c. sucanat

3 T smoked paprika
3 T chipotle powder
3 T kosher salt
2 T ancho chili powder
2 T cinnamon
1 T cumin

12 cloves garlic, sliced

one pork butt aka pork shoulder


1. using a whisk combine all ingredients for the spice rub.

2. being mindful to never double dip, rub pork butt all over with a generous amount of spice rub. using a small sharp knife make little cuts into the meat and press garlic slices in. ideally do this step at least an hour ahead of time. put roast into a deep pan tightly covered with foil. 

2. heat oven to 450 and bake at that high heat for 30 minutes. then lower the heat to 300 and cook for up to 6 more hours. 

after cooking gently this way the meat will shred into tender, succulent ribbons. 

this thursday is valentines day. you might want to make something special. 

there is nothing that says "i love you" like slow roasted meat. maybe pick up some flowers on your way home from work.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

food trends 2013

last week me and my donutman went to the fancy food show in san francisco with a lot of anticipation. 

i've been several times before and was excited to go together, but the day before i woke up in somewhat of a panic thinking, "it's just gonna be a lot of candy and cheese."

and indeed we went and there wasn't a kale chip in sight. the fancy food show is essentially the packaged food show, and going made me realize how much my relationship with food is changing.

last year i noticed what i thought were some very distinct trends: coconut products, figs, truffle infusions, popcorn, nut butters and heavily seeded crackers. this year there were definitely a few more companies doing fine cured meats and one company in particular called field trip that caught my eye with a great booth doing some decent beef jerky. but overall the fancy food show is the packaged food show and there is a lot of candy and cheese. 

food trends 2013: what's up for me and the people i eat with:

identifying with broader dietary terms like plant-based and health-supportive

wide-spread nation-wide rejection and outrage over GMO foods

celebration of old school superfoods like plain whole milk yogurt, raw honey and gelatin

brick & mortar restaurants based on street food

rockstar baristas


chipotle powder


salt cured pickles

long-fermented whole grain breads


interpreting whole foods in a more bone-in, skin on, full-fat paradigm

gluten free indicators on menus

health care for the food industry