Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sarkis: The Greatest Place On Earth

It's almost embarrassing to admit this, but I have been eating Sarkis Lorettas for over 15 years.  And I don't mean every once and awhile, I'm talking several days in a row, every time I am back in Chicago and, sometimes, multiple times in one day.  That's just how good these things are.  Now, for those of you that go to Sarkis and order eggs sunny-side up or waffles, that's just pure armature play.  Put your big boy pants on and go for the original.  I've tried every Loretta but my staple has always been the ham with everything, special hash browns and a diet coke.  Feel free to steal my order.  Lucky for Chicagoans, there are two locations; one in Skokie and one on Fullerton and Clark.  They also deliver.  Run, don't walk.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Pork Belly Watermellon Salad With Balsamic Glaze

I must say, I really outdid myself on this dish.  I made this a couple weeks ago for a small dinner party and it was a mega hit.  I created the dish using a memory of a similar dish I ate at a restaurant about a year ago.  I have never made pork belly so I just never got to trying to recreate it.  Then, I came face to face with a beautiful pork belly and I decided it was time to go for it.  I cured it myself using a mixture of kosher salt, brown sugar and fresh herbs.  I cured it over night in the fridge and then cut the belly up into lardons and cooked them in a pan on the stove low and slow. 

While the belly was cooking, I put a small pot on the stove with 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.  I reduced the vinegar until it covered the back of my spoon in a medium thick consistency and set aside.  Probably took about 10 minutes and I whisked it as it reduced.  Then, I thinly sliced a jalapeno and marinated it with a juice of a lime in a ramekin.  Once the bacon was done, I cubed some watermelon and jicima and arranged it on the plate.  I added the bacon, sprinkled the jalapeno slices, drizzled in the vinegar and then topped with some mirco greens.  SO FREAKING GOOD!

Chipotle Coleslaw

I can't believe it but somehow my husband convinced me to go camping this weekend.  I absolutely hate to camp.  No matter what, you wake up wet, your back hurts and the smell of campfire has saturated your clothes.  And that's just the morning.  Don't even get me started on setting up let alone cleaning up a campsite.  So the deal is that I will go for one night but I am in charge of all the meals and there has to be a bathroom. 

We always buy Morton's tri tip steaks at Costco so I figure I'll grill that up and serve it with one of my favorite side dishes of all time- coleslaw- but with a Chipotle twist.  I found the recipe and pic on Cooking Light.  Pray for me...

Chipotle Coleslaw
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small canned chipotle chile, minced, plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce from the can
  • About 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 cups each packed shredded green and red cabbage
  • 7 green onions, green and pale green portions, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 cup tightly packed chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1. Prepare the dressing: In a medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, molasses, sugar, minced chile, adobo sauce, and 1 tsp. salt.
2. In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, green onions, and 3/4 cup chopped cilantro. Pour dressing over vegetables, toss well, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Before serving, add more salt if you like and scatter remaining 1/4 cup chopped cilantro over the top.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Annual Trip to Boonville!

We had a great time up in Boonville a couple weekends ago.  We made our stops at Toulouse Vineyards, the Apple Farm and stayed and ate at the wonderful Boonville Hotel.  The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed playing some bocce and napping in the hammock in the hotel gardens.  Can't wait to go back!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Diavola Restaurant

Drew and I went on our annual trip to Anderson Valley this weekend to stay at the Boonville hotel.  We have a close friend that works at Diavola and we decided to stop there for dinner on our drive up.  I've put this place on my list of top 3 spots in CA.  It's that good. If you're a pizza person, you'll be in heaven.  I've tried two of their pies and they were both awesome.  The crust is paper thin and crispy and they make their sausage, cured meats and much more in house.  The grilled octopus salad that I had on Friday was the best octopus I have ever had in my life.  They boil the octopus whole for 3 hours and then flash grill it before serving.  I know this because I asked our bartender to ask the chef.

The greatest part about this place is their meat case in the front by the hostess stand.  You can buy house cured pancetta, beef cheek ragu, pork belly cuts, salamis, cheeses and olives.  Some of the items sell out fast.  I was hoping to get more pancetta this trip but they were out.  I bought some pork belly instead.  Next time you're up in Healdsburg or the Dry Creek/ Sonoma region, make sure to stop here.  They have a great wine and beer list, friendly services and every dish is out of this world. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Squeeze Inn Cheeseburger

Drew and I hit up Squeeze Inn in Napa last week to try their famous Squeeze Inn burger with cheese.  I posted the picture above on Facebook and I had a trillion comments asking where in the world they could find this restaurant so I figured it was worthy of its own blog post.  The Squeeze Inn has various location in Sacramento and just opened up in Napa.  It's a small joint with a long counter where locals (mostly high school kids) roll up their sleeves and get down.  The menu is small, I mean it's really about the burger, so don't expect much variety.  It's cheap, delicious and I suggest you workout before you go or the next day.  Go and get yourself some!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Every diet requires an 'ah-ha' moment.  Unfortunately for me, I had one on Friday.  It's been a long time coming.  I mean, my yoga mat has dust on it and we buy cheese in bulk from Costco.  As we plan our memorial day weekend, I realize I will probably be in a bathing suit.  Now my friends, it's go-time and my yoga studio will be sick of my sweaty red face in no time.  To pair against my physical activities, I'm lightening our meals.  Tonight, this recipe is on the menu. 

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Cooking Light

  • Chicken:
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Salsa:
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato (about 2)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 avocado, peeled and finely chopped

1. To prepare chicken, combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss and let stand 3 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done.

2. To prepare salsa, combine tomato and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a medium bowl. Add avocado; stir gently to combine. Serve salsa over chicken.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Fried Potatoes With Spicy Aioli

Recently I discovered that Micheal Symon has a new show on the Cooking Network called Symon's Classics.  Now, I love this guy.  He has a thick Midwest accent, his food is inventive but heavily rooted in classic American cuisine and he's always laughing.  We never eat carbs at home so when I am in the mood for a potato or some bread you better get out of the way.  When I watched Chef Symon whip this together on his show, I was sold.  You can spice this recipe up or down depending on how much Sriracha you use.   

Fried Potatoes With Spicy Ailoi
Potatoes: 1 1/2 pounds 1- to 2-inch Yukon gold potatoes (about 16)
Kosher salt 
Spicy Aioli:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, zested and juiced
Kosher salt
Favorite fat, for frying (I love saved bacon fat or duck fat)
2 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias, to garnish
For the potatoes: To a small saucepan, add the potatoes and cool water to cover. Salt the water generously and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork, 10 to15 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool. While the potatoes are cooling, make the spicy aioli.

For the spicy aioli: In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha, paprika, garlic lime zest and juice and a pinch salt. Stir to combine and set aside.

To finish the potatoes: Heat a large cast-iron skillet with your favorite fat until it reaches 350 degrees F. The fat should come 1 to 2 inches up the side of the pan.

With the heel of your hand, smash the potatoes so they are relatively flat but still holding together. Add the potatoes to the fat and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the fat with a slotted spoon and place in the bowl with the aioli. Add a spoonful of the hot fat, stir to coat and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the scallions and serve immediately. I guarantee you will never look at a French fry the same way again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Italian Sloppy Joes

We're going to host a Super Bowl party this year and by the look of the 49ers last week we may actually be rooting for a home team!  I watch all the dorky competitive cooking shows and Cooking, Bravo and Food Network.  It's amazing that Drew puts up with it.  Anyway, I was totally cheering for Jeff Mauro, aka the Sandwich King and a Chicago native, to win Next Food Network Star and he did!  So, I feel obligated to post one of his Big Game recipes I found.  This is a do-ahead recipe which makes this a cake walk to pull together and serve warm just before guests arrive. If you are anti veal, no problem.  Just go equal parts beef and pork.   Happy Super Bowl 2012!

Italian Sloppy Joes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 8 ounces ground veal
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices aged provolone cheese
  • 8 hinged hoagie/sub rolls
  • Oil-packed hot giardiniera, for serving
  • Chianti, for serving
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the sirloin, pork and veal, and brown until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and store in a bowl, leaving the juices and fat in the Dutch oven. 

Sweat the garlic, onions and Italian seasoning in the Dutch oven, stirring frequently to insure they do not burn. Once the onions are translucent, add the meat back to the pan and then add the wine to deglaze. Add in the tomatoes and milk and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Sandwich Build: Place a piece of cheese in each hoagie roll. Place some meat on top and the some giardiniera on the top of it all. Serve with a pint of Chianti.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken

What is with this heatwave?  Ski resorts are closed, we grilled tri tips on Sunday and people are jet skiing on the bay.  It's just down-right bizarre.  It's winter!  We should be bundled up in front of the fire and braising short ribs.  While we wait for the weather to change, we might as well eat light.  Half of you probably made the resolution to lose weight for New Years anyway.  Here's a recipe from the folks at Cooking Light that's guilt free and simple to pull together.  If you have access to Meyer lemons that are ripe around this time of year, sub the regular lemons with those instead.

Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken

  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind 
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast 
  • 1/2 cup diced English cucumber 
  • 1/2 cupvred bell pepper 
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
  1. 1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain and place in a large bowl.
  2. 2. While orzo cooks, combine lemon rind and next 6 ingredients (through black pepper), stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture over orzo; toss to coat. Add chicken and next 4 ingredients (through dill); toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with cheese.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bubba's BBQ, Jackson WY

Drew and I just returned from a much needed 2 week vacation in Jackson Hole, WY.  There we skied, ate, napped and drank.  It was glorious.

I've been on a big BBQ kick lately.  It all started with a trip to Memphis Minnie's, a joint in the lower Haight in San Francisco just before we left for our trip and it was delicious.  It's been tough to find good BBQ in the bay area so if you visit or are from here, check it out.  This kick continued through out our trip with BBQ stops during our road trip through Nevada and Idaho and we tried a upscale place not too far from Bubba's in Jackson.  None of them beats Bubba's in my opinion.  It's the same good food and great low prices that I remember from my college visits.  Drew had a giant bowl of chili and went for the brisket lunch platter.  Here's why I love the place:
  • It's a locals spot and if they don't know you they'll call you honey or sugar anyway. 
  • The service is down-home and friendly.
  • Their baked beans are totally legit.  Don't miss out on them.
  • Each dish is served with a massive, buttery slice of Texas toast.
  • If you want greens they have a fully stocked salad bar.
  • It's cheap.
If you're planning a trip, be sure not to miss Bubba's in Jackson.  It's perfect food for the big appetite you work up skiing, hiking, rafting or whatever else adventure awaits you in WY.  


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Steamed Crabs With Garlic Aioli

I decided against the rib eye roast for my birthday dinner after I re-read this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, I'm Almost Always Hungry, by Lora Zarubin.  Right now is peak season for Dungeness Crab in the bay area so I would be a fool not to indulge in it (and its market prices).  Prep wise, this meal is a snap.  All you have to do is cook the crab and serve.  I did not clean and crack each one for my (12!) guests, I just gave them a tutorial at the the table and had them do it on their own.  While the crab is the star, the garlic aioli is close behind.  This requires a little arm work so be prepared to do it in shifts with a partner or switch arms back and forth for rest. 

    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
    • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
    • 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, for thinning
    • 6 2-to 2½-pound live whole Dungeness crabs
    • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Make the aioli:
Place the garlic and salt in a mortar large enough to hold all the ingredients, and pound it to a smooth paste. Add the egg yolks and beat with the pestle until well combined.
Begin adding the oil, a few drops at a time, letting it run down the side of the mortar, beating continually until the mixture starts to thicken. The aioli mixture should begin to thicken immediately. Continue adding all the remaining oil slowly in a steady stream, always adding to the side of the mortar. If the ailoi becomes to thick to beat, add a few drops of Meyer lemon juice to thin it out. Then stir in the remaining Meyer lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare the crabs:
Wash the crabs under cold running water. Bring a large stockpot (at least 12 quarts) of water to a boil. Add the salt and 2 to 3 crabs. Return the water to a rapid boil, cover, and boil the crabs for 12 minutes. To test doneness, pull off a leg—the meat should be firm and white.
Using tongs, remove the crabs from the boiling water, and rinse under cold water. Bring the water back to a boil and cook the remaining crabs in batches.

To clean the crabs, remove the top shell and then the gills on either side of the body. Rinse under cold running water. Turn the crabs over and remove the triangular piece off the breast body. Cut the crabs in half and tear off the legs.

Place the crab pieces onto a large platter. If not serving immediately, cover the crab, and refrigerate. Serve chilled with the garlic aioli.

Tip for making aioli: Drip the oil from a teaspoon to begin the emulsion process to prevent the aioli from separating.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Thanksgiving Turkey!

A lot of work went into this little sucker including brining over night, an herb compote butter and lots and lots of basting.  Not bad for my first time!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Rib-Eye Roast

It's my birthday next week and it just so happens to be the same day that the town of Sausalito is having their annual Christmas Light Boat Parade and fireworks.  We've decided to have 4 couples over for dinner and I think this has to be what I am going to make.  I found this recipe while I was flipping through the new December issue of Bon Appetit and my mouth started watering.  I've never made a rib-eye roast but there is no time like the present! 

Bacon and Spinach-Stuffed Rib-Eye Roast
  • 1 pound applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked (or three 10-oz. bags frozen, thawed) spinach, squeezed dry, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from day-old white bread
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, whisked to blend


  • 1 5-bone standing beef rib-eye roast (10–13 lb.), chine bone removed, fat trimmed to 1/4" thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme



  • Pulse bacon several times in a food processor to coarsely chop. Scrape bacon into a large skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring often, until brown but not crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off and reserve 2 Tbsp. bacon drippings for another use. Return pan to medium heat. Add celery, shallots, and garlic; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and crème fraîche; cook, stirring occasionally, 2–3 minutes longer. Scrape mixture into a medium bowl.
  • Stir breadcrumbs, scallions, sage, thyme, and nutmeg into stuffing mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic and refrigerate, Stir in eggs. Spread stuffing out on a rimmed baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and chill until stuffing is firm, about 1 hour.


  • Let meat stand at room temperature for 4 hours.
  • Arrange a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 450°. Set a V-shaped rack inside a large roasting pan. Place roast on a work surface with bones standing straight up. Using a knife, cut along bones so only 1" of meat is attached at base of bones.
  • Season roast (including the bones) generously with salt and pepper, rub with oil, and sprinkle with thyme. Place roast, bones facing up, in prepared pan; wrap bone tips in foil to prevent burning.
  • Pull bones away from meat to create a 3–4"-wide pocket at the top. Lightly pack stuffing into pocket. Starting at one end, tie kitchen twine horizontally around bones to keep them in place and secure stuffing. Tie the roast vertically between each bone.
  • Roast beef for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue roasting for 3 hours–beginning to probe center of roast at the 2-hour mark–until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast registers 110°–115° for rare and 120°–125° for medium-rare.
  • Transfer roast to a carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Remove twine.
  • Carving option 1: Cut between ribs to make 5 large bone-in steaks to share.
  • Carving option 2: Spoon stuffing into a serving bowl. Slice off rib rack by cutting through strip of meat at base of bones. Slice between bones and transfer ribs to a platter. Place meat on a work surface; cut into 1/4–1/2"-thick slices. Transfer slices to platter with ribs and serve with small spoonfuls of stuffing on the side.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brooks' Sweet Onion Tart

I am cooking my very first Thanksgiving meal at my house this year - WOO FREAKING HOO!  This has been a dream so needless to say, I am pretty excited.  I really want to incorporate recipes and traditions from my family and this onion tart is one of them.  My aunt really goes all out on Thanksgiving and I will be serving up some of her best dishes from over the years but this tart has always been a staple.  It's actually from a local specialty store called Foodstuffs in the northern suburbs of Chicago and the only dish she doesn't make from scratch.  They couldn't ship them to me on the West Coast but they were kind enough to share the recipe. 

Brooks’ Sweet Onion Tart
Serves approximately 6-8
Ingredients :
Spanish Onions 1 lb
Unsalted Butter 1 Tbsp
Brown Sugar 1/2 cup
Baby Swiss Cheese, Shredded 1 cup
Eggs, Beaten 1 cup
Heavy Cream 3/4 cup
Pie Shell, Pre-Baked 1 each
Puff Pastry Sheets 1 each
Preheat oven to 350. Slice onions 1/4” thick. In a sauce pan, add butter and cook onions.
Add brown sugar and caramelize onions. In a separate bowl, add beaten eggs and cream.
Add cooked caramelized onion mixture to egg mixture and blend. Add all ingredients into
the pre-baked pie shell. Bake in a 350 oven for approximately 60-90 minutes until set.
Slice puff pastry sheets into 1/2” ribbons. Place on baked tart in a lattice (criss-cross)
form. Place back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes until pastry is golden brown.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Leeks Vinaigrette

If you're a leek lover like me, this recipe is right up your alley.  I was reading my new issue of Bon Appetit yesterday while getting my nails done and this jumped right off the page.  I served it last night with a steamed lobster (like that isn't rich enough on its own) and it stole the show.  My husband's favorite part was the vinaigrette that it's served with and I'll argue that using coarse- grained mustard is a must.  This would be an easy recipe for a dinner party that would wow guests.  A big thumbs up. 
 Leeks Vinaigrette
  • 6 medium leeks (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken stock
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, whites and yolks separated and chopped
Heat oven to 425°F. Trim dark-green tops from leeks, leaving root end intact. Remove tough outer layer. Starting 1" above root end, halve leeks lengthwise. Wash leeks, making sure to clean all sand from between layers. Dry slightly on paper towels.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil and butter in a large, deep ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, turning occasionally, until light golden in spots, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, 3–4 minutes. Add 1 cup water, chicken stock, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon parsley, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer leeks to a platter, drizzle with vinaigrette, top with eggs, and garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.


Steamed Lobster with Lemon-Herb Butter

If you live in San Francisco, head over to Clement Street and grab some fresh seafood at discount.  They have everything from live lobster, blue crabs, oysters, fish- you name it.  Yesterday, Drew and I cruised over there to pick up a 3lb lobster to steam and share for dinner.  It was delicious.  For a 3lb lobster we steamed it for about 15 minutes.  It came out tender and perfect.  I served it with my fontina and chive risotto cakes and braised leeks. 

Steamed Lobster with Lemon-Herb Butter

  • 6 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound live lobsters
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • Lemon wedges
Cook lobsters in 2 large pots of boiling salted water until shells are pink and lobsters are just cooked through, about 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan. Add lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve lobsters with lemon wedges and warm herb butter.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Shaved Fennel Salad with Avocado and Fresh Herbs

Drew and I ordered a fennel salad at a local restaurant to compliment a pizza several months ago and ever since I have been making it at home every other week.  I made up my own little version of it after poking around at recipes on the Internet.  It's a good balance of acid and fat (yes, fat) and it tastes even better if you make it and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so.  Unless you have super hero knife skills, you'll need a mandolin slicer. 

Shaved Fennel Salad with Avocado and Fresh Herbs

1 bulb of fennel, sliced thinly
1 bunch of flat Italian parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 avocado, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.  Season and serve. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Grilled-Tomato Pizzettes With Basil and Fontina Cheese

I love Labor Day weekend.  In fact, one year ago this Monday, I married my handsome husband on a sunny beach.  To celebrate the weekend and our anniversary, we have a lot planned.  First, 2 nights up in Napa hosting friends.  I don't want it to be too fussy because I want to relax so these pizzas are a perfect recipe for afternoon grilling by the pool.  I recommend picking up some store-bought dough from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.  Costs just a couple bucks and saves you time.  This would go great with chilled rose. 

For the Grilled Tomatoes
  • 3 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat grill to high. In a bowl, toss tomatoes with oil and thyme; season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Starting with cut sides down, grill tomatoes until soft and charred, 8 to 12 minutes per side.
  3. Return to bowl; cut into rough pieces with kitchen shears
Now, for the pizza!

  • 1/2 recipe Grilled Tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound store-bought pizza dough
  • Flour, for work surface
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Fontina cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves
  1. After preparing grilled tomatoes, reduce grill to low. Divide pizza dough into four pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, shape dough into rough 12-inch-long ovals. Alternate between rolling the dough with a pin and stretching it with your hands. If it tears, pinch dough together to patch.
  2. Place dough on grill. Cook until lightly charred on one side, 3 to 4 minutes; press lightly with a spatula to deflate any air bubbles.
  3. Flip dough; layer with cheese and grilled tomatoes, dividing evenly. Cover grill; cook until cheese melts and bottoms of crusts are charred, 4 to 6 minutes. Garnish with basil.