Welcome LOLA !

I have a special guest today!

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, a super fun and surprising recipe by my friend Dolores.  She brings us a vibrant cranberry sauce with a subtle kick, a traditional non traditional and festive sauce that every Thanksgiving table needs. A little perk me up when things can go bland, and when you don’t want that plastic bottle of Sriracha in the middle of the table among the floral arrangements and goards.

Dolores at the Market

I’ve known Dolores for a really long time, we both grew up in Chino, California and have now both long moved from this suburban town.

For the past couple of years Dolores has been traveling through Oaxaca learning the regional cuisine and after some studying in Mexico for her masters thesis, she spent her off time taking cooking classes and getting more in depth with her rich Mexican heritage and her family’s cooking. Easy to say, she has one of those stories that involves a life long passion for cuisine, traditional flavors, cooking which she has now converted into a website Lola’s Cocina.

I am super proud of her and want to give space for her here on my blog, she is absolutely one of the nicest individual who you could ever meet. Not to mention she is also beautiful, and super down to earth.  Go visit her colorful cooking site Lola’s Cocina. 

Please visit Lola’s Cocina and try her other recipes! Thanks Dolores for the pictures and your enthusiasm. Congrats!

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Ingredients:
1 ½ cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cups fresh cranberries
10-15 dry japones chile peppers
½ lemon juiced
¼ teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow sugar to dissolve.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cranberries, dry chiles, lemon juice, and salt.
  3. Continue to cook until cranberries are soft and most of the water is absorbed (approximately 30 to 45 minutes). Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Once soft, remove from heat and cool.
  4. Once cool, add mixture to blender and blend until smooth on medium-high setting.
  5. Pour mixture back into pot and simmer over low-medium heat for 30 minutes or until slightly reduced and darker in color.
  6. Pour into mason jars and allow to cool in refrigerator overnight before serving.

Authors Note: Dry japones chile peppers can be found in the Hispanic section of most supermarkets. They may also be substituted with dry chile de árbol. I used 10 chiles for this recipe and the spiciness was very subtle once the sauce cooled. 

Unlikely Duo

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(Above: Grapefruit, Coconut and Avocado Toast on whole grain bread, Crimini Mushroom and Chevre Frittata w/ Oven Roasted Tuscan Kale)

 

Sometimes, shouldn’t get complicated.  An unlikely and wonderful friendship happens when two creamy components come together.

Crunchy warm toast, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, black pepper, sea salt…

What just happened??? A really great snack just happened.  I spent the night at a friend’s house and she pulled out the ingredients listed above, among a random array of fruits and vegetables.  Breakfast à la hung over girls happened.

It was strangely addictive.

I have to add ingredients really matter with this simple concoction.  Coconut butter will not work.  The neutral quality of coconut oil is the best when making this snack.  I also recommend using a whole grain wheat or seeded bread to toast, a creamy & ripe avocado, flaked sea salt, a good olive oil, and fresh cracked pepper.

Coconut Oil and Avocado Toast

1. Toast Bread

2. Spread 1/2 T. Coconut Oil on toast while warm.

3. Spread ripe avocado.

4. Sprinkle lightly with flaked sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of a good olive oil.

Yum Yum Yum.  Enjoy!  I guess a recipe isn’t needed for something like this.  What do you think?

 

 

 

Good Mornings.

So many new and exciting things are happening.  I am leaving for Italy in about 6 days.

I don’t know if I will do much posting in Italy.  But until I know, here is a quick recipe.

In 2005 I spent a couple of months living on my friends couch.  Claire and Dee were awesome enough to let me sleep in the comforts of their cozy little home.  It was also during this time that I ran into another friend Victoria McKillop, she lived in a very cute little studio apartment on the bottom floor of a San Francisco Victorian, just around the corner from us.  I came over one morning, and she whipped these delicious soft, and just hauntingly comforting crepe like pancakes.  She whipped them up so fast that I was thoroughly impressed with the ease of the recipe.  She didn’t even need to measure!  We ate them simply with extra butter and a little sugar, and I don’t even remember using plates.  I have always been fond of this recipe, and it is up to the cook to add more eggs, and or milk and adjust to their preferred consistency.  Victoria’s Swedish grandmother made these, and she too was fond of very them.  I love most just how easy this recipe is.  It’s quite a non-fussy recipe that just requires some basis ingredients.  Clarified butter isn’t even needed to brush the pans, regular butter is fine but be careful to watch the heat so that the butter does not burn.

These aren’t like your normal American pancakes that are fluffier and sometimes even a bit dry.  Those that need the assistance from maple syrup to flavor and or to moisten them.  Instead enjoy these delicate and satisfying Swedish Pancakes just as they are or adorned with seasonal fruits. They are a great recipe to have in your entertaining repertoire.   These would also be great savory, stuffed with cheeses, or vegetables, and to do this exclude the vanilla and sugar.

Swedish Pancakes 
 
*This makes a small batch fit for an intimate brunch party of 4-6.
 
2 C. AP Flour
4 Eggs
1 1/2 C. Milk
1 T. Vanilla Extract
1/4 C. Sugar 
1/2 C. Melted Butter
pinch of salt.
Softened butter for brushing the pan.  
 
Melt butter, just enough to liquify.  
 
In a separate bowl, add milk, eggs, sugar, melted butter flour and vanilla extract with a pinch of salt. Whisk till thoroughly combined.  Add more milk as needed, you will be looking for a fairly thicker crepe batter.  Thin enough to swirl but thick enough to fold without breaking when they are cooked.  Not as fragile as a crepe.
 
Heat pan, lightly brush bottom and sides with clarified butter.   
 
Add batter and swirl around until bottom surface of the pan is evenly coated.  Let cook till edges brown, or top of pancake is dry to the touch.  Fold in half, then in half once again (as seen in the picture), and overlap.   Serve with fruit compote or jam of your choice.   Or simply with powdered sugar and lemon juice. 
 
*The pancakes pictured above were served with warm bourbon apples. 
 
 

Before I Leave To Italy


This weekend I will be doing a dinner at Big Sur Getaways for an intimate number of people.  My good friend Dee will be helping me out with the overall cooking and prep.

Later this month a cooking demonstration for fifteen lil’ ladies at a newly opened shop KAPPA ZAKKA.

It’s getting so close to my trip to Italy.  The Slow Food Festival will be going on, and it looks like there are high chances will be meeting up with an organization that gives culinary apprenticeships to kids called Worth Our Weight.  Run by the infamously unselfish Evelyn Cheetham, the organization takes a handful of kids to Terra Madre every year, tickets paid for, lodging paid for, and for some it’s their first time ever on a plane.  What an experience, isn’t that amazing?

Until then here is a quick little recipe.

Jicama, Apple, and Cucumber Salad w/ Lemon, Sea Salt and Olive Oil.
 
1 C. Thinly sliced wedges of Jicama 
1 C. Sliced apples
1 C. Thin and long roll cut Cucumbers
1 C. Thinly sliced Red Onion
1/2 C. Picked Parsley
1/2 C. Picked Mint – roughly chopped
1/2 C. Cilantro leaves 
2/3 C. Olive Oil 
1/2 C. Lemon Juice
Salt  & Pepper to Taste 
 
 
To prep the Jicama, cut top and bottom off so that you can have an even base.  Then peel, cut in half and then cut that in half.  Slice thin uneven wedges, until you have you 1 cup.   For the Apple, clean and leave skin on,  thinly slice apples avoiding the core.  Slice cucumbers according to your desired thickness.  Jullienne the red onion.  Clean and pick herbs, and roughly chop. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.
 
Dissolve salt in lemon juice, add pepper, slowly drizzle in olive oil and whisk.   Incorporate all ingredients together, mix well.  
 
 
 
 

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday My Love.

Plum Upside Down Cake
 
*Adapted From Martha Stewarts Plum Upside Down Recipe
 
 
  • 12 tablespoons (1 stick, 1/2 stick salted butter, room temperature)
  • 1 3/4 C. packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. Honey
  • 6 red plums halved and pitted & cut into wedges
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1  Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • Whipped cream (optional) 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place 1/2 stick of butter in a pan;  add 3/4 C. of  the brown sugar, honey, pinch of salt and bring to bubble 4 minutes.  
    Pour molten hot mixture into an 8×8 inch pan. Arrange overlapping plum wedges, covering bottom of pan. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl beat 6 tablespoons butter, remaining  sugar, vanilla & add egg.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt. Stir flour mixture into the liquid mixture.  Add buttermilk until just combined (batter will be thick).
  5. Spread batter evenly over plums. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan; invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if desired.
     
     

Cooking Class

A couple of things happened…

A friend called me up a couple of weeks ago, and asked me how I made this granola.  Then I posted a picture up on Instagram, and a few minutes after that same friend called me, and asked how I made my jam.   I didn’t have time to go through the complications of trying to explain to her two different recipes in 15 minutes, so instead I offered her a class.  We haven’t been able to hang out for a while, so it was definitely positive for both of us. I then offered it to other friends, and found that within a day my little class would be booked.  The last time I had a cooking class, it was probably about 5 years ago…

We started the day with a nice breakfast, and had every one sit around the table to sample some already made granola and jam.

Breakfast: Whole Grain Toast w/ Avocado, Heirloom Tomatoes, Poached Egg Sea Salt, Soy Sauce & Black Pepper

The first student was my friend Chona, and we had an impromptu egg poaching lesson before everyone got to the house.  When everyone finally arrived, we ate, then went to hike.  The berry excursion was a good one, as the students fruitfully filled their baskets with dark berries, it seemed like the cotton of our shirts were hooking onto every branch and berry with gentle warnings of the treacherous fall down the Bernal slopes.  Luckily the overcast day and the mild warmth gave way to a great adventure in city berry picking.  Unstained and hungry we headed back to the house.

We divided the project into 2 groups – Jam and Granola.  I gave them instructions and let them ask questions as I cooked them lunch.

Lunch- Penne w/ Walnut Pesto and Pecorino Romano & Mixed Lettuces w/ Honey Shallot Vin.

MUSIC CHOICE VIA BENJAMIN KASMAN

What a great class!!! Love Love Love to Chona, Jennifer, Dee, Noah and Benjamin.

Homemade Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 C. Oats
  • 1/2 C. Coconut Flakes
  • 1/4 C. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Honey Or Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • 1/4 C. Flax Meal
  • 1/4 C. Coconut Butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon or ground ginger
  • 1/8 C. Sesame Seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • other ingredients to add – Nuts, seeds, dried fruits, dried berries etc.  For this class I used a raw trail mix blend, which I added at the end of the toasting after the granola has been cooled.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine coconut butter, vanilla, honey, sugar and salt bring to simmer and dissolve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut flakes, sesame seeds, cinnamon.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together till well coated
  5. Spread in sheet pan and bake.  Stirring occasionally to even toasting.  20-30 minutes
  6. Let cool to dry.  Mix nuts, trail mix, or your blend of choice.

Chicken and Clams

Nothing goes together like chicken and clams.  Nevermind…

Surf and turf they call it.  Long associated with stained red lobster claws and tails, a hunk of juicy aged steak butter and potatoes.  Nothing says steak house like good ol’ drawn butter a bib and meat.   I like the flavor that clams and other seafood creatures lend to land critters when thrown together in a pot.  Just when I thought I was cooking for two, I then found out that I would be welcoming a third, so I decided to head down to my local seafood monger and bought some clams.   As I tasted the broth I knew that clams would be a great addition, not only would it stretch my meal but it would also give the braise additional broth when the clams open.

There is a heavy Italian influence here.  The kitchen staples to work, aromatics to start with and creating an inviting and aromatic dish.  This recipe allows the avid home cook to gain access to cooking a basic and delicious nonchalant dinner.  From this simple dish you can add olives, lemons, different meats,  different herbs.  Allow yourself to experiment with other root vegetables, as well as spices,  as well as using canned verses fresh tomatoes.

The marjoram and fresh herbs in this dish as well as the freshness of the tiny plum tomatoes sweeten and freshen the braise.  Instead of a braise it becomes a juicy stew, and thus is lighter than a thick and unctuous sauce.   Served over rice, or over pasta, maybe cous-cous, and even polenta it creates a delicious dinner for a mildly breezy summer night.

My pantry needs, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Lemons, Onions, Garlic, eggs, herbs, and canned tomatoes.  If I have that I can make and create a dinner in no time.  .

Chicken and Clam Stew w/Plum Tomatoes and Herbs over fresh Tagliarini
Serves 2-4
 
3-4 Chicken Legs
12-16 Manila Clams
1 C. Red Wine
1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1 C. Carrots
3 Cloves Garlic
1 T Each – Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme
Capers
1 1/2 C. Plum or Cherry Tomatoes
Olive Oil 
Salt 
 
You will need a pot that could go from stovetop to oven.   Salt and pepper chicken, let sit, pay dry.  Heat pan, add Olive Oil.  Add chicken and brown well.  
Remove chicken when skin side is well seared and browned.  Remove some fat from pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, and add onions and garlic and salt.  After about 4 minutes, add red wine, vinegar scrape pan.  Add herbs, carrots, tomatoes and 1 C. of water-cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes till tomatoes blister and pop.   Assist the popping by puncturing the tomatoes with a fork if needed.  Add Chicken, capers continue to cook for another 20 in a 375° oven. Take out of oven and add clams, place back into oven for another 10 min or so just enough until the clams pop open.  
 
Place atop fresh pasta and drizzle with some young olive oil. Yum.
 
 
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