Sunday, October 18, 2009

Goodbye, Gourmet!

I heard something on NPR a couple weeks ago that gave me pause. Not that Conde Nast mags were having problems but that they were giving the axe to Gourmet! Gourmet is one of my favorite cooking magazines, just second to Saveur. But Gourmet is different than Saveur and very much unlike it's perky insipid cousin, Bon Appetit.

When I look in my recipe binder or my Epicurious recipe box, Gourmet dominates. Their Mu Shu in moments is my standby for one of those dreaded 30 minute meal nights. I'm planning on making the curried red lentil squash soup tomorrow goes on like that. It is a treasure trove of wonderful meals: quick ones, easy ones, complex ones ---but all wonderful. Years ago, there was an Easter issue and a long article on Eastern European meal traditions which was true to my Slovakian ancestry and scored me a really nice prune ice cream recipe too.

But of course, this would also happen right after I sent in the check to renew my subscription at the low rate for THREE YEARS! worries though, the website says they will honor that time by giving me three more years of ....Bon appetit!

I can only hope that Ruth Reichl, et al, will move onto other wonderful things and I will follow them and maybe if I am really lucky, there will be a coup d'etat at BA and the Gourmet crew will take over. I can dream.......

Friday, August 14, 2009

Who do you love?...Top Chef Masters

Ok, I am a foodie (god, I hate that word) but I am loving Top Chef Masters as it is all about real and classy chefs working for charity. There is drama but it comes from without and not from Spike being a jackass or Leah cheating and scheming or Dale being a retarded hothea...oh wait, strike that one about Dale.
How can I not want Hubert Keller to win? He is so freaking suave and ...French. Yeah, baby, I know you are lookin' at me! But seriously, have you looked at all that he has cooked? From day one, I knew he was the one who should win. That Vietnamese gazpacho this week looked beautiful-- I plan on trying it out next week. He has it all ---remember that girl scout cookie dessert he made a the beginning? He definitely should win, but I can remember a potential spoiler about who really does win...hopefully, it was not true...but...
If anyone else should win, it should be Rick Bayless. I know I think he exhausts Mexican cuisine but I love his PBS show. Once I tried one of his pork, black bean stew thingys and the whole family went crazy for it. He knows his stuff. I love his whole mannerisms and cute little joking snarks he tries out. Seriously though, I don't imagine I would have liked that weird guacamole ice cream no matter what the judges were saying. I loved how he did his take on an Italian Chiarello dish the other week and it looked glorious, even re-done with a little spicier twist. So if Rick wins, that is very cool too. ....but Hubert is still the man!

And thank god the guy swinging the club is Chiarello! I have to admit from his goofy FoodTV show, I never dreamed he was some macho controlling dude, but hey, it's a fun surprize. I have a newfound respect for him. I had taken a cooking class given by two nutty older cougars who spent most of the time bragging about who they worked with in Hollywood and at FoodNetwork. ( p.s. they were the damn prep people but they bragged like they were chef de cuisine) and they kept idolizing Chiarello---saying he really knew his stuff and was all that. I tended to discount them as they idolized Rachael Ray (mostly, it seemed, because she swore like a sailor and liked her liquor--not exactly an unexpected revelation to me), talked about Tyler Florence like he was a hunk of meat (hey ok, before he beefed up? I'll give them that one) and then (horrors!) they dissed my beautiful Giada! Said her knife skills sucked and snickered at her cooking...then I sat back and realized: jealous cougars! bad cougars!!
So I didn't take much to their Keey-ah- rello line until I've seen him here. I like how he is (or is portrayed to be so by Bravo) as the hard ass, nasty dude. I love that he was down on that self-absorbed Zooey for her ridiculous diet demands and then won the damn challenge with something I'd even consider making. Well, I don't think he'll win but hell, go Michael! Love that you shot down that little shit Dale.

But who do you love? Well to quote the man himself:" I am hotter than a mountain goat at the beach. "For god sake, give Fabio his own show already!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nina's cooking day

Went to a vegan/veg cooking class last night and it was actually great! And I love meat. These vegan pumpkin cookies were a hit. Nina decided to make them today and everyone loved them. Don't know if the recipe is copyrighted but pumpkin, toasted walnuts, tart dried cherries and oatmeal are delicious and give a lovely fall touch to our first non sweltering day in SoCal for awhile.
Nina draws much inspiration from Giada and tackled an "intermediate" recipe tonight. Penne with roasted vegetables. She worked hard on her own (my how the kitchen looked when it finally went into the oven!) and did a great job.

Starting to come together here. Everything from scratch but the Cento marinara sauce--hey, Giada said to use bottled marinara sauce!

Coming out of the oven! The house smelled glorious.

Isn't this wonderful looking? We only changed one thing: turned down the oven temp to 375 after 10 minutes otherwise that would have been heckofa crispy pasta. Loved by all and just as good as those vegan cookies. AND! I didn't have to cook--just help with some cleanup. I am so proud of her.

So my project involves using my pickling cucumbers, like Baba did--Slovakian style brine/garlic pickles. I read Ruhlman's blog awhile ago about how to do it (why did I always doubt Mom when she told me? He did it just like her). 1:20 brine and I added smashed garlic and dill fresh from my crazy dill patch.

I used Baba's small pickling jar that Mom had given me. Baba would always make these throughout summer. The smell of that brine with the dill was screaming summer in Pennsylvania to me.

The creative part of my project was how to keep the pickles at 65 degrees or so for 7 days when there are no basements in SoCal and it is HOT! So I am putting it in a small Igloo with some ice packs which I will periodically change out to keep it cool. If it's too hot, it will slime and too cool will be soggy and yukky. So I will know in a week or so.......

Sunday, July 12, 2009

chicken with olives and roasted lemons

DELICIOUS! A Lydia Bastianich recipe that I played with.

Here's what I did:

Slice 2 lemons thinly . Place on parchment paper on a baking tray. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven at 375 for about 15-20 minutes until browned on edges.


Salt, pepper and flour boneless skinless chicken breast.

Heat olive oil in skillet over high heat. Add chicken and saute until brown each side about 6 minutes total.

Add chicken broth, 2 T capers, sliced green Italian olives, some chopped fresh tomatoes and cook about 8 minutes until reduced.

Add chopped parsley, spinach, 1T butter and the lemons for about a minute or two. Season with S and P and serve hot.

A hit all around. No exact amounts because I winged it. The sauce was so good!

Monday, July 6, 2009


It's amazing how it's only been a week but it seems so much longer than that.

I enjoyed Maui a lot but still Hawaii is my favorite. We did manage to find some authentic areas there---down from Haleakala in the Surfing Goat Dairy area and that coolest of cool spot: Makena!

The sushi at Sansei Sushi in Kihei was killer.

The girls loved seeing celebrities at the hotel. I loved being away. The best thing I did: NO EMAIL for 10 days..aahhh!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I couldn't help myself today. When I went to the nursery there were all these lovely plants, just calling out to me to buy them. They even have some heirloom tomatoes and peppers there. I know it's a little too early with MayGray/JuneGloom coming up but I had to. This is the beauty of living in SoCal. The state may be belly-up, but the weather still is perfect.
Good words of advice I'd gotten in the past that we were laughing about yesterday:
"Never say yes right away. Say I'll get back to you on that"
"I will work for what you pay me."
"You want me to do that for free? Would a lawyer do that for free?"
These are all very funny and very relevant given the day's events yesterday. Now let's see if the change is going to come.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

LJ Farmer's Market

Our favorite: mango with lime and pico

Gorgeous broccoli and all kinds of beans you can imagine.

Love this potato stand. We got the best yams for Thanksgiving ever here.

Kid trying to start the engine while I admire the citrus.

It's almost spring but some of the best looking salad greens are here.

Got a bunch of the pink ones today and they are delicious.

Lettuces and mushrooms.

Love the Farmer's Market on Sundays.

My favorite flower stand. The nicest guy works here and these tulips last a week easy.

English peas are so sweet and the bunch onions are great in cooking.

My favorite fruit stand.

Killer Pink Ladies. We buy a ton to last one week...and they will last maybe 3 days.

There are these Farmer Market snobs in San Diego. This one at LJ is truly wonderful but because there are crafts, the CH'ers knock it and say it's not authentic. But most everything here is organic and there are superb stands with crepes, mini donuts, the best Mexi food, East African stand (my favorite),etc etc. And where else can you buy gorgeous bonsai, buddha bracelets, undersea treasures and the freshest produce. So yah, Hillcrest and Little Italy have some great stuff: HC has the largest produce selection and LI has cheese and meat but I love LJ!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pear cake

Today's project is Mom's Pear Cake. I loved it so many years ago and since it's raining and blustery in San Diego, it will make the house smell good and feel cozy.
The mise en place.

The pears actually are beautiful at Von's. Screw locavore, we want pear cake today!

Mixing the diced pears into the batter.
I love my hand mixer. I'd been only using the Kitchen Aid stand mixer but I love my new hand one. It's what I'd always used many years ago and it's the only thing mom used and it's her pear cake recipe after all.

Covering the batter with the sour cream mix, to be followed by chopped walnuts, sugar and cinnamon.

40minutes later!

A couple minutes after that! It is delicious and we all enjoyed pear cake after our whole wheat penne with chicken, broccoli and sundried tomato dinner.

1-2 Bartlett pears peeled and diced
1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 c softened butter
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/3 c chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon (1/2 tsp) and salt. Cream butter with 1/2 c sugar until smooth then add one egg and milk and mix until smooth. Blend in flour mix. Pour into 9 x 9x 2 greased and floured baking pan. Mix sour cream with one egg until smooth and spread on top of batter. Mix nuts, 1/4 c sugar and 1/2 t cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of mix. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January in So Cal

Beautiful and we love it!

This is not to make you jealous if you don't live here but to show my appreciation