Tomato season is upon us, and they are everywhere; the Farmers Market, grocery store, and, most importantly, in my backyard. Alas, one variety of tomatoes from the garden did not turn out to be all that I had hoped for - a little watery, a little mushy and not a ton of flavor. I decided to slow roast them to condense the flavor before freezing them to add to meals throughout the summer and fall.
I have been so busy lately. Between working full time and starting Redfield - I'm pretty exhausted by the end of the day. Still, Mike and I love hosting at our house. We do a lot of dinners with family and friends and I have been looking for quick dessert ideas that look and taste beautiful but don't require a lot of effort because come dinner time, I'm usually totally beat.
I've done a version of the following tart using store bought puff pastry and stone fruit a few times recently and it's been a big hit. That said, you can really use any combination of jam and fruit that you have on hand--even frozen fruit works well. It is the tail end of the apricot season here in California so for this version, I grabbed a few of those and some pluot jam I had in my fridge.
My love of tacos is serious and, after visiting Mexico last year, have been obsessing over making tortillas at home. But the toppings on a taco are just as important as the filling and pickled onions are one of my favorites. Here is a quick and easy recipe to make your own for your next taco night at home.
These cookies are inspired by one of my favorite local haunts, Bartavelle and their delicious ginger cookies. They are a comfort food for me and I was craving something spicy and really chewy. So I decided to make my own. This cookie is dense and soft and spicy and sweet. Full disclosure, I ate two in a row hot out of the oven. Consider me comforted!
Perfect with on a cheese plate and delicious as a condiment in a salami sandwich, this olive tapenade is really easy to make. I use my favorite type of olives for this, Castelvetrano, which are buttery in flavor and have a firmer texture than the typical Kalamata black olive. I leave this tapenade on the chunkier side, but if you're going for a smoother texture, feel free to blend longer or add more olive oil to the mixture.
Ah, fava bean season. One of my favorite summer flavor and textures and one of Mike's least favorite tasks... cleaning and peeling. It happens every year, the moment where Mike asks us to stop eat fava beans because I keep asking him to do the hard part. Well, I'd proud to say, I cleaned and peeled these beans myself and Mike just got to enjoy them! Now back to business, this hummus is really easy to make and tastes great as a dip or spread and is sure to be a summer favorite.
The name "pasta primavera" means "spring pasta" in Italian, but it can be used for any pasta dish with fresh vegetables. That said, the name has never been more appropriate than when applied to the dish the way I made it here--the peas and asparagus in California are so beautiful right now that I want to put them in everything. Stick to the veggies listed below, or go ahead and toss in whatever looks best at your market to get the most out of this dish.
This recipe is so simple, it seems a bit silly to really write a recipe for it but I am so inspired by this window where winter is closing out and are we still have beautiful California citrus, but spring is ramping up and I can buy pea shoots. Toss them together with good olive oil and pistachios and you have the most California dish ever! Hah!
One thing I love about eating "California Cuisine" is its ability to truly showcase a single ingredient in a dish. I had the pleasure of eating dinner at Zuni recently and they had a root vegetable and Meyer lemon soup--the Meyer lemon was really on display. With juice and thick chunks of zest, the soup was merely a platform to celebrate the glory of the fruit. To showcase a singular ingredient, in addition to balancing out the rest of the flavors, to me, is what California Cuisine is all about. This slaw is a nod to some beautiful Hawaiian ginger I found at my local market. It has a bit of a kick to it--this recipe is not for the faint of heart!
I first had this cocktail at Drink in Boston (if you haven't been and are a cocktail lover- add it to your list) and it really left an impression on me. Mayahuel in New York developed it and pops up on mescal-focused cocktail menus around the country. I have to admit when I had it at Drink a few years ago, I wasn't really a mezcal fan. Many mezcal drinks later, I can see that this cocktail was a turning point for me. With bright, citrusy, smokey, and tangy notes, this beverage is delicious.
Slow roasted pork is delicious, right? Right. Slow roasted pork that is also fried to have crispy caramelized edges? Yes please! This pork dish has lots of citrus and pineapple making it bright, acidic and great on tacos.
As the weather (sort of) begins to cool down for the fall in the Bay Area, I'm starting to crave hearty stews. This one gets better with time--make it for dinner and enjoy it for lunch the next day. The fennel adds a delicious earthy herbal taste that cuts into the fattiness of the dish. It's a very easy stew to make but be warned, it needs a few hours of simmering to come together.
These popovers are ridiculously easy to make and are a major crowd-pleaser. They also gave mea chance to highlight a beautiful California cheese: Fiscalini's San Joaquin Gold. The cheese monger I bought this cheese from described it as "cheddar meets Parmesan" and that was right on - this stuff is nutty, buttery, and firm. I kept shredding a bit for the popovers and then snacking on it before it could even make it to the batter. Delicious. Don't have access to Fiscalini's cheese? Gruyere or a combination of cheddar and parmesan would work too.
This is my take on a gussied-up version of a classic American potato salad. With corn, herbs, buttermilk and 7-minute eggs you really can't go wrong with this salad. I was so hungry I ate it warm out of the bowl but this is also a great side dish to make the day before to really let the dressing soak into the potatoes.
This soup is meant to be made during the summer when you have too many tomatoes in your garden or if you get a little overzealous at the farmers market. It is also meant to be quick and simple--I threw this together on a Sunday afternoon for lunch with my family and served it with grilled cheese sandwiches. It was a hit.
When I worked for Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, the owner, Sam, would always make this salad for staff meals. Every once in a while I get a craving for tahini and this dish really hits the spot. The blend of earthy tahini with sweet cooked carrots is just so good. This is a slight variation of Sam's tahini carrot salad and it is great for a quick weeknight dinner side dish.
On weeknights, I often find myself craving a simple vegetarian dinner. One that feels intentional-not thrown together-and celebrates the flavor of vegetables. When I need inspiration, I almost always turn to Heidi Swanson or Yotam Ottolenghi. This dish is a play on a recipe from Ottolenghi's cookbook Plenty.
Banana bread is a total comfort food for me. It is easy to throw together and needs to be eaten while it is still a little warm from the oven (at least for me). My favorite type of banana bread is moist and dense and I love this recipe because the honey adds sweetness and texture. Also, because of chocolate.
As much as summer time means backyard BBQs to me, it also means salsas. Delicious homemade salsas are a perfect way to start a meal dining outdoors. They can also be made up to a day ahead of time (in most cases) and can make menu planning a breeze. This salsa is smooth, tangy, and only takes about 15-20 minutes to put together.
To say that I have been into braising meats lately is an understatement. I am obsessed. Throwing delicious things into a pot to stew together for hours until the flavors are blended and soaked into soft juicy meat? Yep. Sign me up.This dish comes together quickly but be prepared to make a little bit of a mess in the kitchen. Trust me, it's worth it.
One of Mike's all-time favorite restaurants is the Ramen Shop in Oakland. Their ramen is incredible, but what I inevitably have to order each time is their little gem lettuce salad with a garlic miso dressing. It is just so darn good. They do creative variations on the salad but the dressing is always tangy, a little sweet, and salty. This is my ode to their salad dressing.
In a strange occurrence of events, I had both a surplus of olive oil and citrus in my kitchen. Okay... not that strange of an occurrence, seeing as I love both olive oil and all types of citrus. But I was inspired but these blood oranges that were bursting with juice and ready to be devoured. You can use any citrus in this recipe, I happened to use what I had lying around: oranges and limes.
I love refried beans. I always have. One of the first dishes I learned to cook on my own was sautéed carrots and onions with a can of refried pinto beans added to them. I used to make weird variations of this dish, like, say, adding canned tomatoes or peppers. The result was always delicious. For some reason, I have been embarrassed about my love of these smashed beans. I am not sure why, but I am now publicly announcing my love. And teaching you how to make delicious ones at home.
I have been craving this pie all winter and finally took the time to put it together this weekend. It is salty and sweet and gooey and messy and perfect. The key to good apple pie is choosing the right kind of apples (here is guide from Midwest Living, which, given the name, I would expect nothing less than an excellent guide). Here I used half Gala and half Granny Smith and the combo worked out deliciously!
I have a major surplus of lemons right now (disclaimer: I have many more lemons than what is pictured below). By all accounts, this is a great thing. I know that lemonade is a summer thing, but it technically is lemon season right now and I live in California. So, I make lemonade in January. I used meyer lemons (a lemon/ orange cross) in this, but you can use other kinds as well.
As some of you might know, I have a deep love (read: obsession) with sauces. Dipping sauces, salsas, dressings... you get the idea. I have always wanted to be able to make hoisin sauce at home using ingredients from my kitchen (read: no high fructose corn syrup) and caught my sister-in-law Linh making this recipe. She was kind enough to share her delicious recipe and you can throw this sauce together in minutes if you have everything in your pantry.
I use lemons all the time to add acidity to almost any dish, but I rarely let the flavor of the lemons shine. This recipe does just that. This soup is a fast and filling meal that you can pull together in 20 minutes. Sometimes when I need a break during the weekday, I will make this as a lunch for myself and it really hits the spot.
Until recently, tomatillos have been a complete mystery to me. The look nice and they taste great in other peoples' salsa. That's about it. But the beauty of farmers' markets is that everything looks so damn nice that it gives you the confidence to buy things. Well, that happens to me anyway. And so it came to pass that I bought these tomatillos from Blue Heron Farm based in Corralitos, California.
The Bay Area has strange summers. There is a bogus Mark Twain quote out there about this, but I won't get into that now. The point is- cool and foggy days make me want soup. Chicken soup. This chicken soup to be exact. It's great for a weeknight, because it's a one-pot meal and it's fast if you have pre-cooked chicken. It is still pretty fast even if you have to cook the chicken on the spot. Now that I have said the word "chicken" for the past four sentences, let's talk about...
I love rum- there is something so warming about it. I have heard different stories about different types of alcohol giving you a different buzz. I am not sure how I feel about that but I will say that rum makes me feel happy and cozy. This is a classic summer drink- a little sweet, a little fruity, a little bubbly, and a nice kick to back it up. If you have other fruit around that is in season, feel free to substitute as you see fit.