Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it; and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied; and it is all one." - M.F.K. Fisher

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Parsnips are, like, not from California

When I moved to the East Coast parsnips were all the rage. Well, maybe not the rage, but they were most definitely abundant and served everywhere! In all my 20+ years of California living, I had never had a parsnip and suddenly felt very left out when I first had them. It reminded me of discovering the magic of a grilled cheese sandwiches in the parking lot at a Phish concert. I had no idea camping stoves could be put to such good use, just like I had no idea parsnips could make potatoes taste so much better...if only I'd known sooner!

Turns out that parsnips grow best in cold frosty weather, so it's no wonder I'd never had them. They weren't growing next to the fig or apricot tree. They look a lot like carrots, but they're paler in color and much more pungeant when cooked. The flavor can be exquisite, and maybe it's because I've linked them to East Coast tradition, but my palette reads them as sophisticated and elegant.

I just made a really edible puree, much like mashed potatoes, with 3 parsnips, 2 small white potatoes, 2 small red potatoes, butter, 1/2 and 1/2, and a little bit of truffle salt (a very much loved gift from mom!). I highly recommend this combo for a yummy fall side dish.

Friday, June 30, 2006

"Artie chokes 3 for $1.00"

Whenever I think of artichokes, this punch line always comes to my mind. I can't really remember the joke--something about a criminal named Artie who gets his stupid self written up in the newspaper for some cheap crime. Like the joke, artichokes are kinda funny - and equally tasty. I always boil them up plain, but this time around cooked them with lemon slices, garlic, and olive oil. While I wish I could attribute this fabulous recipe to Giada or my grandma, it comes right off the back label of the Trader Joes artichoke pack! Just one more reason to love that market like family.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fizzy Lemon Drop

On my stroll around the Stanford campus today people were sporting flip-flops (me, included), short shorts, and all sorts of skin was poking out of tank tops and skirts. At least for today, spring is in the air. This drink is my dedication to the season.

My husband and I went for a jog the other day--in a short break between cloudbursts--and zig-zagged by the community lemon tree on the way home. I swear, I'm not stealing my neighbor's lemons! When we got home I turned these magical fruits into the most delicious and refreshing drink imaginable--perfect for Spring. I probably should have started with some post-jog water, but instead, sucked this down right fast! The little white sculpture to the left of the lemons is by my friend, danielle, who makes these delicate and beautiful porcelain pieces that look like they've been plucked from nature. The painting you see in the photo below is by Steve Keene, one of my artist-heroes for his accessible approach to artmaking and selling.

(serves 2)
-juice of 2 lemons
-3 shots of lemon vodka (I use the Trader Joes brand, Citron)
-simple syrup, to taste (about 3 tbsp.)
-7-up (about 1 cup)

Mix lemon juice, vodka, and simple syrup in a small pitcher. Add more simple syrup if you like it sweeter. Put a bunch of ice in 2 highballs (or your favorite glass). Divide the juice-vodka mixture between the glasses. Cover with 7-up and serve.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mazto Brie (rhymes with Pie)

It's Passover, my mom offers to MAIL me a box of matzos (I think she's worried my husband is goyifying me), and I'm feeling the fire to, er, cook Jewish. Enter stage right, matzo. Enter stage left, eggs. Put it all together and you've got the Passover favorite, Matzo Brie.

Really easy directions follow.

But first, I have to share my find of the day. I wanted to compare my Matzo Brie recipe to others online, and came across a description on the HORMEL website. Since when is Hormel the last word on Jewish cooking??? Here's what they have to say--I saw others make it this way too, but my recipe is from mom, much heartier, family tested and really frickin' good.

"A traditional Jewish breakfast or brunch food that is made by moistening broken pieces of matzo with hot water and then drying the Matzo before dipping it in egg batter. The matzo is then sauted in butter and served with sweet toppings, such as honey or syrup." -Hormel

MATZO BRIE, or FRIED MATZO...the low cholesterol version
(feeds 2 hungry people)

-3 pieces of matzo, broken into small pieces
-warm water to cover matzo
-1 egg
-1 egg white
-nutmeg, dash
-cinnamon, a few dashes
-salt, pinch
-canola oil, splash

Place the broken matzos in a mixing bowl and cover with warm water. When well-saturated, drain the water off (I usually use my hands to press it out). In a separate bowl, scramble eggs and mix in spices. Salt can be added at the end to taste if you prefer. Mix eggs into moist matzo and blend well. Lightly oil a large frying pan over medium/high heat. Drop matzo-egg mixture into frying pan and flatten it out to fit the pan. Cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until lightly brown or firm. Separate MB into 4 pieces with your spatula for easy flipping. Traditionally topped with sugar or jelly. I love it with yogurt, fresh fruit and real deal maple syrup.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Casanova's Risotto

Is it my imagination or did risotto go out of style and then recently return? It seems that not too long ago risotto was the equivalent of today's tuna poke or seared fois gras, but it's showing up again, often accompanied by a fashionable crowd of lobster, saffron, and pumpkin. In recent years I've stayed clear of this usually overcooked mushy catch-all of flavors, but on a recent trip to Carmel my husband I were tempted to give this comeback another shot.

We splurged out of our student budget on a dinner at Casanova, a quaint European-style chateau with a charming twinkly-lit outdoor patio, and a place aptly referred to as "Carmel's most romantic restaurant." Designations like this imply that a place is touristy and formulaic, but it was much less Thomas Kinkaid than I expected and really was such a damned cute place that we got sucked in. No complaints, because dinner, a three course prix fix affair, was delicious. And I went for the--gasp--risotto. Filled with crisp peas and crunchy asparagus, it was wonderfully creamy and just the right texture. Risotto, so glad you're back!

Round Food

Themes like Italian, finger food, and comfort are what sculpt a meal. So why not make it round? Makes me think of a restaurant chain in Massachusetts that I always wondered about yet never stopped in--the Ground Round. What kind of food do they serve? I could never figure it out. Mushy round food? So here's my take on how to shape a meal.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hot Toddies at Nepenthe

Guide books claim that a trip to Big Sur without a stop at Nepenthe, the original location of a cabin Orson Welles purchased for Rita Hayworth, is a big cultural miss, so we stopped. And were happy we did. The sunset, which we had hoped to catch, was shrouded in clouds, but the southern views of the Santa Lucia Mountains dipping into the Pacific were breathtaking. While diners and drinkers warmed up by the indoor fire pit we braved the cold with hot toddies in hand in order to take in the spectacular fog-draped views. The hot toddy is a new favorite, and with the current chill in the air, less unseasonal than you'd think.

Hot Toddy (from

1 tbsp honey
3/4 glass tea
2 shots brandy
1 slice lemon

Brew tea and fill a tall glass 3/4 full. Mix in honey. Mix in brandy shots. Add lemon slice and enjoy.

FoodStorm note: I believe Nepenthe's Hot Toddy is made with hot water in place of tea, which will work just fine. And, the bartender pressed 1/2 lemon into the drink, making it nice and tart...a true tonic!