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chili night

While many of you may be enjoying {or hiding from} the dog days of summer, our cold grey San Francisco summer has arrived full bore, calling for parkas on the way to morning coffee.  But since we have had a pretty nice summer with plenty of days for seasonally-appropraite meals, I will do my best not to complain.  Plus, weather talk is boring.

I only bring it up to set the stage for chili dinner in August.

A big pot of giant black beans were already simmering on the stove when I decided that chili was in order.  I didn’t use a recipe, just a hodge-podge of versions I like, plus what I had on hand, plus what sounded good.  I wanted something like mom’s version growing up – maybe not authentic in Texas – but a kind that hits the spot.  Ground meat, or turkey generally in my case, beans, tomatoes and lots of spices.  Instead of stock for extra liquid, in addition to tomato sauce, I added a bottle of beer.  Once it simmered together, it became exactly what I was looking for.

We topped it with a bit of white cheddar, greek yogurt and green onion.  On the side, 101 Cookbook’s Firecraker Cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet and a raw kale salad flecked with grated pear brought it all together.

I’m not going to lie, this little dinner got me pretty excited for Fall!

Turkey Chili, Firecracker Cornbread & Raw Kale Salad

Chili Toppings

Chili & Cornbread

Are you holding on to summer or ready for what’s next?  
I can’t decide, which I guess works with the Indian Summer/foggy day combo we have coming.

Bagna Cauda Salad

This is a definite salad of chicken and the egg – did I see the recipe on Food 52 because I spent Saturday morning at the farmer’s market, and knew that beets and turnips and brussels sprouts were still in abundance?  Or did I notice the beets because I had already spied the Bagna Càuda Salad as part of the Oscar Menu ideas on the same site?

Regardless, I knew the bright raw vegetables would provide a nice contrast to the rich and heavenly dinner being planned by friends.


I have always loved beets, particularly in their ever present carnation with oranges and goat cheese, where they are usually roasted to develop a deep, earthy sweetness.

Here, where they are raw and shaved paper-thin the earthiness is more akin to carrot, which we are used to in its saw state.  They combine well with other raw vegetables such as turnips, radishes, actual carrots and brussels sprout leaves.  You could add other roots (ribbons of butternut squash were in the original)or take away some of the components, as long you still have 4 or so different offerings in the mix.

As for the name of this salad, ‘bagna càuda’ means hot bath, and traditional refers to a warm lemon-garlic-anchovy dip that is served with vegetables, fondue-style.  Here, those same ingredients are used to make a {strong, but delightful} dressing, which adds body and bite to an otherwise virtuous salad.

Because the raw vegetables can hold the dressing for a much longer time than lettuce salads, this is also great to make ahead, for a packed/picnic lunch perhaps or just a dinner where you would rather be with your guests that back in the kitchen.  One thing, make sure you have a mandoline or slicer – just a knife would take this from heavenly to torture.

slicing beets

sliced rainbow of beets

For recipe, Read the rest of this entry »

Lots of juggling!

Last year while in NY, I made my first Thanksgiving without adults (I hope you don’t think I include myself in that category – ha!).  My friend Meg and I whipped up a fabulous spread for friends who were staying in town – it was wonderful – both in taste and fun!

This year I am doing it again, except the help in the kitchen will be my mom.  And I can’t wait!  We are breaking in our new place with Thanksgiving AND house guests – so it has been a busy weekend getting it all together.

As for the menu, here is what we are planning.  Just in case you are still looking for ideas – or have suggestions for me.

Butternut Sqaush and Apple Soup

  • A little first course action to whet the appetite.
  • Either with herbed croutons or herb popovers, depending on time and stress🙂

Dry-Brine Turkey & Gravy

  • This is how I did the turkey last year & it was the favorite amongst even self-proclaimed side-lovers.  It is basically the same method as my favorite roast chicken, just salted earlier and cooked longer.
  • For the gravy, get some turkey wings, back, etc. and make stock today so it is done and ready to go by Thursday.  Makes for THE BEST gravy!

Swan Oyster sends you home with real seafood crates!

Oyster Stuffing

  • I have never tried oyster stuffing, but it seems like something I should have made.  Plus, there is a great little oyster shop down the street from me, and it may be the perfect place for lunch out of the house on Wednesday, while picking up the PRE-SHUCKED oysters. (Since they won’t be eaten on the half-shell, I can do things like that).🙂
  • Any tips for a first timer with oyster stuffing?  (And yes, I know, guests should get tried and true recipes, and they mostly are – I just can’t help it!!)

Mashed Potatoes & Celery Root with Crispy Shallots

  • I love the addition of celery root to potatoes – gives it a nice freshness that can be helpful with such a full plate.
  • The crispy shallots are á la Ina, and add a nice textural component.

Brussels Sprouts Lardons

  • An old favorite around here

Kale Salad with Persimmons and Apples

  • A new favorite.  Plus, it is great to have something a bit lighter and with crunch amongst everything else.
  • Still deciding on dressing – vinaigrette vs. walnuts and blue cheese. The blue cheese is obviously tempting, but goes against that whole ‘lighter’ note.  Thoughts?

Cranberry Sauce – two ways

  • Homemade with a touch of orange and ginger. (Here is a fun play on the combo if you are looking for something a bit different).
  • Ocean Spray with the ridges – you just have to!

Apple Crisp from Sonoma Weenend

Pumpkin Pie

  • Not for me, but I think it is a requirement on the table – no?

Apple and Cranberry Crisp with Pecans and  Bourbon Ice Cream

  • I prefer crisps and crumbles to pies, so this one is for me.  I am just gussying up a standard apple crisp with extra pecans in the topping and chewy tart cried cranberries in the filling.
  • As for the ice cream – bourbon as the star?  YES PLEASE!


Whew – I think that is it.  Am I missing anything?  What are you planning?

One of these years I want to do a super-traditional Thanksgiving, and by that I mean ditch the turkey in favor of lobster.  Have you done that?


Kale & Persimmon Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

Just because this is the third recipe from from the ‘fall fiesta‘ does not mean it was the one I liked least – rather it may be my favorite!

Raw kale salads really wonderful – and while people may have been making them for years, I have really only been seeing (and enjoying) them for the last year or two.  They definitely feel a bit virtuous, but don’t let that distract from their absolute goodness.

Slicing persimmons

Because persimmons are in season, and I absolutely LOVE them – particularly raw, I thought they would be the perfect complement to the kale.  That and apples.  I think every kale salad I have had includes apples, and I see no reason to break the streak.

As for the dressing, I made a quick vinaigrette with garlic, lime juice and zest, ground cumin and agave in the well-honed fashion of many-a-vinaigrettes.  Chop garlic and let sit for about 10-15 minutes in the acid (lime juice and a touch of red-wine vinegar for balance), then add salt, a drizzle of agave (or honey), cumin, lime zest and stir.  While stirring, slowly drizzle in olive oil to your preferred flavor balance.  I like about 50% acid to oil, which is a bit more puckery than some may like…

Kale, Persimmon & Apple Salad

Another bonus for kale salads – unlike traditional greens – they can be dressed way in advance.  Which if you are having company, is always a plus.

This combo is really great for the season.  In fact, I like it so much, that I am going to make it again for some much needed balance to the Thanksgiving table.  Only thing, I may swap the dressing for a blue cheese-walmut version, much like The Year in Food’s version.  I mean, it will be Thanksgiving, after all.

Whatever the reason and which ever dressing, it will be something you will keep coming back to.  I promise.  :)

Kale, Apple & Persimmon Salad

Oh – quick thing, before slicing the kale leaves, make sure to remove the stem, as it is very tough.  As for the rest of it, it is just chop, mix and dress.  xx

beer-braised turkey tacos

As I mentioned, I lately found my self in the mood for a fall fiesta, and what is more ‘fall’ – and November, precisely – than turkey?


Thankfully I recalled reading about these beer-braised turkey legs for tacos on The Kitchen Sink a while back, and it was one of those recipes that I immediately wanted to try.  But for some reason another, immediately didn’t.  Luckily, I didn’t forget it and instead stored it in the deep recesses of my surprisingly still-working brain, and after the pomegranate/lime bonanza at the Farmer’s Market, I pulled up this recipe on my trusty iPhone while at the store and bought all the ingredients.


Everything is better with beer!

And the best part?  Turkey legs are damn cheap!!! We are talking $3 for two pounds (2 drumsticks – more than enough for dinner for 4) at Whole Foods.  $3 total.  And this is high turkey season!

Read the rest of this entry »

Pomegranate Margarita

Last week I found myself in Los Angeles for a bit of work, a bit of play and a healthy dose of sunshine.

I mean – summer had made it – just don’t tell the calendar!

So plans for Friday were to have a fun little cook/eat/play sess with one of my dearest girlfriends, her beau, and whomever else wanted to stop by.  So that morning before work, Peter and I ventured to the Venice Farmer’s Market for a little shopping and inspiration.  The summer weather and price on limes (8 for $1) sealed the deal – margaritas and Mexican food.  But since the day was firmly in November, regardless of what it felt like, I thought we should take a seasonal spin on our favorites.

And first up, pomegranate margaritas!


You can of course buy the seeds already shelled and have these ready in a flash, but I recommend buying the fruit whole, cracking open a beer, and seeding the lil’ guys while catching up with a friend.  It’ll do wonders for your soul!!

After that, it is just juice, blend, strain, mix and enjoy.

We had about 1½ cups of FRESH lime juice and the seeds from 2½ pomegranates (we reserved the seeds from about ½ of the third fruit for garnish), which we blended together with a hand blender (a regular blender would work great too) and then strained. The pomegranates were really ripe–sweet and just a little tart–and balanced perfectly with the lime juice, although we did add a touch of agave nectar for a teeny bit of added sweet.


Mix that sweet and tart juice with good tequila and you have an almost perfect marg. The final addition is a bit of Pellegrino (or the like) – I think all margaritas are improved with a bit of bubbly – and there you have it!

The perfect fall margarita!

And gents, don’t be scared – just because it is a bright pink drink, feel free to imbibe as well.  As long as you leave some for us.

Pomegranate Margaritas

Thanks Kar + Pete for having me – it was lovely!

And up next – the rest of the Mexican Fall Feast!!  xx


Pomegranate Margaritas

Read the rest of this entry »

Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Tahini Salad

I know it is now properly fall, but seeing October on on my calendar isn’t nearly as big of a signal for me as seeing winter squashes pop up in the market.  So when I first saw butternut squash arrive, I through one in my bag, with plans to make Orangette’s warm butternut squash and chickpea salad with tahini.

Expect then it got hot.  Hot like I didn’t know it got in San Francsico.  Hot like there is no way I am eating anything more than ice cream tonight, let alone turning on the oven to make a cozy fall dinner.

Ingredients for Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Tahini Salad

So the butternut squash was relegated to sitting on the counter while we soaked up/hid from that heat wave that flushed over California.

Thankfully winter squashes are hearty and can handle just hanging out, being neglected for days on end.  It really comes in handy come winter so you can stock up in advance to wait out the storms.  But I have a feeling we won’t be having too many of those in the coming months – I’m pretty sure we left them all in New York.


And so once the heat broke, and things were again looking like fall, I was happy to know that this salad was still waiting for me – just hanging out until I could pull it together.

Read the rest of this entry »

French-ish Onion Soup

Ugh.  So I caught a cold. A nasty wiped me out kind of cold. And since I rarely get sick, I did not handle it well. I mean, I handled it like a dude – which is to say whined about every little part of it and made it worse that it was. But thankfully, that part lasted only a day. And so when I was feeling better, but still not great, I was pleasantly surprised to remember that I had just made a batch of stock and had a few pieces of homemade bread left.

Since we all know that good soup makes you feel better even when you aren’t sick, I figured I should make a batch.

Growing up, my mom made a mean french-onion, and so it has always been one of my favorites. (What – another favorite? Well, she made a lot of good things, and I obviously like a lot of things, so it works out).

LOTS of onions

But seeing as how I hold firm in my beliefs that homemade stock, even the wrong kind, trumps the store-bought stuff any day, my onion soup often uses chicken stock – and therefore, it isn’t too traditional, or “french.” Although I would gather that many French women would agree with me, but that is neither here nor there.

The real thing with onion soup, French or otherwise, is you have to let the onions cook for a really long time. And when you think they are done, let them keep cooking.  At least an hour.  Maybe and hour and twenty. You want them really carmelized – dark, sweet and reduced down to almost nothing. You can’t rush it.  Some recipes include a touch of sugar part way through the cooking, but I like to just let it happen with time, and the butter of course.


From there, it doesn’t take much to turn it into something special.  Stock, wine, thyme – and of course the bread and cheese!

Read the rest of this entry »


Martha Stewart I am not -
I have no intention of
whittling my own table
and can handle a martini
like nobody's business -
but I do have lots of
great ideas on cooking,
entertaining, and living
that I want to share with you.

Together, perhaps we can find
ways to have a bit more fun!


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