Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Monster and The Unicorn

The Adorable Monster battles the magical unicorn to the death! Or... err.. rather snuggles it to death on the sofa. What kind of self respecting monster are you?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Organic Boneless Pork Chops with Shallot Vinagarette & Roasted Potatoes

In the spirit of my recent column supporting eating organic meat, here's a great, simple preparation of organic boneless pork chops! This is a simple, classic preparation of meat and potatoes, but by using high quality ingredients it's elevated to the next level. All the herbs and potatoes used in this recipe were also organic. I added a beautiful bowl of organic zucchini that I steamed, drizzled with good olive oil and topped with fresh organic dill for a healthy, complete meal.

Domestic Diva's Organic Boneless Pork Chops with Shallot Vinagarette Roasted Potatoes

2 organic boneless pork chops
1 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
3 cups red potatoes or other small potato, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
1 tsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 shallot, diced
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a roasting pan, add the potatoes. Top with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix them up and put them in the preheated oven, allowing them to roast for 30 minutes or until lightly crisp and cooked through. Remove from the oven.

To make the pork chops, mix the herbs together. Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper. Coat the chops in the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and then cover with the herb mixture. Heat the grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the chops, cooking for a few minutes on each side. Depending on thickness, they may cook all the way through on the stove top, but if they require additional cooking, remove the pan from the stove top and place it in your already warmed oven, baking at 350 degrees for a few additional minutes until done.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together sherry vinegar and 2 tbsp good olive oil. Add the shallots, tossing to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from the pork chops from the oven, and serve them alongside a heaping pile of roasted potatoes. Top the pork with the shallot vinagarette Enjoy!

Wine Tasting Notes: Copain 2006 Hawks Butte, Yorkville Highlands

Diva Rating: 3 stars (out of 5 stars)

As I've often blogged, Copain is one of our most loved wineries. Producing fabulous syrahs and pinot noirs, the Hawks Butte is a favorite bottling. The grapes are grown in one of the highest altitude vineyards in California and they produce a hefty, deep purple colored syrah. A young wine that took a full two hours to open up, but one that shows good promise. Good structure and tannins. Not as amazing as the 2005 Hawks Butte which tastes like bacon (it's amazing!). Next time, we'll decant it before drinking.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Divas Night Out At Tasca Restaurant!

I'm back to report that I had a great Divas Night Out at Tasca last night. My BDFF, Alison, arrived at the bar and professed that she was relieved to have left the two men in her life at home to fend for themselves. No, she's not in a polygamous relationship! She recently gave birth to a strapping baby boy, so her husband was on baby duty while she dined at Tasca with me. We cozied up to the bar and seized on the happy hour menu, pleased by both the offerings and the pricing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Off to Tasca!

I'm off to Tasca for happy hour tonight with one of my BDFF's (best diva friends forever). Tasca is one of my favorite wine and tapas bars in Los Angeles! My mouth is already watering just thinking of the salt cod croquettes! I promise to post a recap tomorrow.

New On Domestic Divas!

Here's a Diva Download for you! This week, I have tons of great material planned. First up, my guest blog will be posting on Piccante Dolce, one of my favorite food blogs. To celebrate spring, I made a fennel and apple poached halibut - it's a great dish that you must try. Also, Ms. Piccante Dolce will be coming to us with her famous grilled steak with chianti butter. I can't wait to try her recipe.

Also coming up on DD's:

-A Divalicious Restaurant Review of The Gumbo Pot at the Farmer's Market!
-Recipe for Boneless Porkchops with Roasted Potatoes & Sherry Vinagerette!
-Wine Tasting Notes, including a 2006 William Selyem Pinot Noir!
-More Health News!

So stay plugged into Domestic Divas!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Boneless Pork Chops for Dinner Tonight!

Hey divas! I enjoyed a wonderful day munching at the Farmer's Market (post on that meal forthcoming) and watching Monsters v. Aliens in 3D. Tonight for dinner, I'm making boneless pork chops with roasted new potatoes. Stay tuned to find out how my dinner turns out!

The Adorable Monster Gets a Frisbee!

Hey divas, you all know how much I love my puppy, the insatiable, incorrigible Adorable Snow Monster. He happens to be one of the world's most spoiled dogs based on the treasure trove of toys Kuzak and I have thrust upon him - a giant mound in our living room that once prompted the UPS man to ask if we have multiple children. "No, kids in this house," I replied, "unless you count my boyfriend." The fact that our weekly puppy class takes place inside a Petco does not help this fact. Yesterday, after our class in which the Monster was so distracted by the traffic that he wouldn't even sit for me, I rewarded him with a new toy frisbee. For months, Kuzak and I have been fantasizing about training him to be one of those graceful, acrobatic pups we see at the dog park that leap into the air, fluidly snatch a frisbee out of midair and then blithely trot back to their owners, dropping their prize generously at their feet.

Readying the frisbee for its inaugural toss in our living room, I floated it up in the air and yelled the creative command, "Go get it!" The Monster took off from his usual spot on the sofa like a bull charging through a china closet and bounded down the hall, a goofy grin on his face. Then, to our amazement, he leaped in the air on a trajectory with the frisbee as if he had the natural instinct for this game after all. But then, instead of gracefully grabbing the frisbee from the air, he headbutted it across the room in a full on collision of dog cranium and frisbee toy.

"Ouch!" Kuzak grimaced.

"That looked like it hurt," I said, shielding my eyes.

However, the Monster, used to banging his head on foreign objects several times a day, was not to be deterred from his new prize. He righted himself and charged down the hallway, retrieved the frisbee and raced back toward my legs.

"Bring it here, boy!" we both yelled in unison, thrilled that our little part golden retriever was accessing his genetic material and retrieving, but right before he would have arrived at our feet, he veered left and jumped onto his sofa perch and proceeded to chow down on the frisbee, more interested in chewing on it than fetching it.

"Frisbee tastes delicious! Diva, you should try some."

"Some retriever," Kuzak muttered.

"I think it's the poodle genes throwing him off," I explained. "It's like he's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll wants to retrieve, and Mr. Hyde just wants to sit on the sofa and look cute. Very very cute."

"Where'd my frisbee go?"

With that, Kuzak reached for the frisbee, hoping to try again. "Drop it!" he commanded sternly. Instead of obeying, the Monster commenced evasive action. He wiggled his butt, bowed down on his front legs, and right as Kuzak was about to wrench the frisbee from his mouth, took off around the house like a banshee, taunting us with his trophy clutched tightly in his jaws. As he wound tight circles around the living room furniture like a figure skater with a dysfunctional hippocampus, emitting random Woofs as he went, Kuzak and I watched him with the same expressions I'd imagine we'd wear if our kid was the one eating his own boogers at the playground.

"I guess that's the end of fetch," Kuzak noted wryly.

"Agreed," I said, admitting defeat.

"Woof!" said the Monster.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Great Cooking Video!

Hey divas, I'm a fan of The Minimalist's cooking videos on NY Times. Mark Bittman approaches simple food with gusto and humor. This week he shows us how to make a simple Tuscan Soup. I have to try this recipe.

Click here to watch the video!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Diva Goes to Wine Country!

The Diva and The Monster at Tantara (vineyards in the background)

On Sunday, in the blazing California heat, I loaded up my boyfriend, Kuzak, and my incorrigible six month old puppy, The Adorable Monster, and drove up to Tantara Winery for their biannual open house. Known for their single vineyard pinor noirs, they're a favorite of ours. We've been happily drinking their wine for years and were curious to see how the 2007s turned out this time around. As we zipped up the coast, the Monster was slightly antsy in the car, insisting on hopping from my lap to Kuzak's in an effort to determine which of his owners was most worthy of the honor of hosting his furry ass. But all things considered, he did remarkably well for his first long road trip.

The Diva Download

Hey Divas, I hope everyone's weeks are progressing beautifully! I actually managed to get some work today! Woo-hoo! And I took the Adorable Monster to the Laurel Canyon dog park where he molested a sweet spaniel, humping it incessantly. Sadly, we might need to think about removing his balls soon. Poor little guy. Tonight we're drinking the 2005 Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir - take it from us - the 2005 California pinots are drinking wonderfully right now, so dig in. I'm making my old stand by for dinner - braised white bean and chicken sausage cassoulet - which is currently bubbling away in the oven. Click here for my recipe! Meanwhile, stay tuned this week for lots of great blogging, including, a recap of our wine tasting trip to Santa Maria & Los Olivos and several great recipes. Plus, an upcoming guest blog from none other than Piccante Dolce.

Also, I'll be updating my twitter account more regularly with wine tasting notes, food notes, and possibly even a recipe here and there. So sign up to follow me by clicking here!

Is Twitter the New Face of Food?

Hey divas, as you may know, I'm a convert to Twitter, regularly posting updates on my life. Moving beyond being simply a status marker, Twitter is now evolving into its own creative platform, and some of the most exciting advancements are in the culinary arena. This month, I'm writing an article on Kogi BBQ tacos, the roving taco trucks that post their daily location via twitter, for LAX Magazine. And I've also just stumbled across a woman in Northern Ireland who reduces her recipes to the 140 characters required by Twitter (! Now that's some fancy cooking.

So is Twitter the future of cooking? Will our lives become more and more socially networked? This Diva certainly hopes so, at least for the sake of her blog. Click here to follow The Diva on Twitter! Now I'm inspired to begin posting more details about food and wine tasting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Hey my busy divas, I know we're all looking for ways to do it all. To eat healthy, perform at our jobs, work out, and oh yeah, still have time for a jumpin' social life. Maybe some of us can do it all perfectly (not), but most likely you're a lot like me. We strive for perfection, but we fall a little short. Well, don't worry, because The Diva is here to help make your quest to do it all a little bit easier. With the economy in its current state, we're all trying to cut back, too. So here's a recipe based on a few simple, inexpensive ingredients I scooped up at Trader Joe's. It's healthy, a cinch to throw together, and as Kuzak admitted, "divalicious."

Domestic Diva's Quick Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

1 package organic chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1 bottle BBQ sauce
2 whole wheat buns
1 bottle ginger mango chutney (from TJs)
1 cup organic microgreens


In a crock pot or slow cooker, add the chicken. Cover with BBQ sauce. Simmer for approximately 5 hours, or until very tender. Shred the chicken with a fork.

Once the chicken is cooked, toast the buns. Spread with chutney, add a good helping of BBQ chicken and top with the microgreens. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Off To Santa Maria!

Hey divas, I'm so excited about my day, I had to write about it! After I do my morning yoga and whip up a quick bfast, I'm rounding up Kuzak and the Monster and driving to Santa Maria for Tantara's Winery's open house (click here for info). It should be a great time with food, wine and music. Time to get our pinot on! Then, we're zipping over to Los Olivos for dinner at the lovely Los Olivos Cafe (which is also monster friendly on their patio) before trekking back to LA. I'll report back with tasting notes and stories from the adventure, so stay tuned! xoxo

Rotini Pasta w/ Homemade Pesto, White Beans & Chicken Sausage

If you ask me, there's nothing like the smell of fresh basil, especially in the spring. Hands down, it's one of my favorite herbs, and one the best things I like to do with it is make homemade pesto.

Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts and parmesan cheese, but I make mine with walnuts, for their big health benefits, and without cheese (while I love cheese it does not always love me). Plus, I find that with the richness of the olive oil and garlic, it's not necessary for a great tasting pasta. I swear, you won't even miss it!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Organic Eggs with Grilled Polenta & Baby Arugula Salad

If you know me, then you know that I believe that breakfast is one of the great pleasures in life! Besides the obvious palate pleasing reasons to chow down in the morning, studies who that if you eat a healthy breakfast you'll have more energy throughout the day and consume less total calories. I suggest ensuring that you get a good dose of protein in the mornings to help stave off hunger. Now, this can come from yogurt, nuts, or proteins like bacon, but I'm a huge fan of organic eggs. One egg contains tons of vitamins and minerals and a good dose of protein. I buy the organic omega-3 variety. To get the omegas into the eggs, they feed the chickens a diet that contains flax seed. My favorite breakfast to make this week which I'm completely obsessed with is an egg served over parmesan reggiano strewn grilled polenta. I sprinkle arugula on top and finish it with a dash of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can fry or poach the egg, but for maximum deliciousness, make sure the yolk is runny so it mixes with the arugula and polenta.

Domestic Diva's Organic Eggs with Grilled Polenta & Baby Arugula Salad

1 slice polenta
1 organic omega-3 egg
1 cup baby arugula
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cooking olive oil
good olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper


Heat a skillet to medium high, add the cooking oil, and grill the polenta on each side until golden and crispy. Remove from heat. Note: you may substitute plain grits for the polenta. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, fry the egg over easy.

Place the polenta on a plate and top with the egg. Add the arugula, topping it with the lemon juice, good olive oil, salt and pepper. If you refrained from adding parmesan reggiano to the polenta/grits, you may shave some on top of the arugula here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Organic Asparagus Soup

The other night for dinner, I made one of my favorite soups in the whole world: organic asparagus soup. I whipped up this dish in honor of asparagus season, which coincides with the advent of spring, running from April to May. Great organic asparagus has been available starting this month, and I've been taking advantage of this crop.

Not only is asparagus delicious, it's also renowned for its health benefits. It's great for your heart, containing a good dose of folate which is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. Just one serving of asparagus contains 66% of the recommended daily amount of folate. It's also a good source of potassium (288 mg per cup) and low in sodium. Asparagus also contains inulin, a special carbohydrate that promotes the growth of good bacteria in our large intestine, an crucial part of our immune systems.

This recipe was inspired by Charlie Trotter, who makes this soup with a filo packet of caramelized onions and chevre. That version is delicious, but I've adapted it to a simpler version that I make regularly. It's a light, clean, healthy, delicious soup. I made a diary free version, but if you want to make it with goat cheese, simply crumble it on the soup before you serve it.

Domestic Diva's Organic Asparagus Soup (adapted from a Charlie Trotter recipe):

1 bunch organic asparagus
2 cups vegetable stock
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup good olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp chopped black olives
salt and pepper


Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus to blanch, cooking in the water for a few minutes until tender. Drain the asparagus and cool down under cold water. Cut off the tips, reserving them.

In a blender, place the asparagus stalks, the vegetable broth, the garlic and the 1/4 cup olive oil. Puree until smooth. Return to the stovetop and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until warm. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle some soup into a bowl. Add some of the reserved asparagus tips, the olives and drizzle with good olive oil. Serve along with the grilled cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tourvnevent Chevre & Roasted Red Pepper Confit

For those of you who worship at the cheese alter, this months is your holy time. That's right, it's National Grilled Cheese Month. You may have noticed many great restaurants hosting grilled cheese specials, like Clementine (read my review here) and Campanile (which features a grilled cheese menu once a week year round). Also, many food bloggers, like my favorite Piccante Dolce, have been posting their take on the grilled cheese. I'm here to make my confession - I have a soft spot for this sandwich, even though it has everything I'm not supposed to eat, namely bread and cheese! But even I can't resist a whole month dedicated to this food.

So I'm here to offer my healthier take on the grilled cheese! I started with a sprouted whole grain bread, lathered it with whole grain mustard and fresh dill, and then stuffed it with roasted red pepper confit and Tournevent Chevre Noir Cheddar cheese, a fabulous, sharp goat's milk cheddar (for many people with dairy issues, goat's milk products are far easier to digest). What grilled cheese would be complete without soup? Instead of the traditional tomato soup, I opted to make a delicious pureed asparagus soup, garnished with black olives and the asparagus tips (recipe coming this week). This meal is great for lunch or as a simple dinner. The result, pure comfort food pleasure, but without the guilt!

Roasted Red Pepper Confit

Domestic Diva's Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tourvnevent Chevre & Red Pepper Confit

4 slices sprouted whole grain bread or other whole wheat bread
2 tbsp good olive oil
2 tbsp cooking olive oil
2 tsp whole grain mustard
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced into ribbons
1 tbsp fresh dill
slices of Tournevent Chevre Noir Cheddar or other sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper


To make the red pepper confit, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pepper in an oven proof dish. Toss with the cooking olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until very tender.

To make the grilled cheese, spread the mustard on the bread. Add a heaping spoonful of peppers and layer with the cheese. Sprinkle with fresh dill. Brush the outsides of the bread with the good olive oil. Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwich, grilling on each side until browned and the cheese is melted. Remove, slice in half, and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This Sunday Come to Tantara Winery's Open House!

Tantara's Vineyards

Hey Divas, I'm so excited about my weekend, I had to share! On Sunday, I'm loading up Kuzak and The Adorable Monster into my Prius and zooming up to Santa Maria with them. This Saturday marks the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival, and in association with that event, many local wineries also have their open houses on Sunday. Tantara is no exception! Located on the grounds of Bien Nacido, they make divalicious single vineyard pinot noirs and also a few wonderful whites to boot. I can't wait to meet with winemaker Bill Cates and to try some of his new offerings! The event is open to the public and the cost is $25.

So even if you can't make it up this weekend to hang with the Diva, look for my article on the trip as well as reviews of the wines we're fortunate enough to be able to sample!

From Tantara's email invitation:

Sure, Tantara will be represented at the Vintners' Festival on Saturday, but we're saving our A-game for Sunday. The Open House is where we'll preview as-yet-unreleased wines from the 2007 vintage (an historic year that has everyone anticipating great things), as well as sample bottles from the 2006 vintage. A mouthwatering Santa Maria Style feast, live music, and the pastoral beauty of the surrounding Bien Nacido Vineyard always make this a day to remember. The cost to attend the Open House is $25 and reservations are not necessary.

from Highway 101 in Santa Maria, California

1. Take Betteravia exit and go East.
2. Drive approximately 8 miles from Hwy 101 overpass and Betteravia - take left at the "Y" onto Santa Maria Mesa Rd.
3. Drive approx. 0.6 miles to Ontiveros Lane and turn Left.
4. Drive about 1.3 miles through vineyard on Ontiveros Lane until you arrive at Tantara Winery.

Caution: Do not use GPS or any other mapping device/software to find your way to the winery.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Organic Pork Chops w/ Southern Style Green Beans & Grilled Polenta

Hey Divas, so I have a confession to make. Pork is back on the menu at the Diva household! Having been raised mostly vegetarian by a converted Jew, and currently in a relationship with a man of the Jewish persuasion, I've never had much exposure to pork. However, recently, with my Top Chef Brother's affinity for butchering and curing his own pigs and the influx in the marketplace of affordable, healthy cuts of organic pork, I've turned to cooking this protein to great results! In fact, I loved this recipe for pork chops so much, I want to marry it!

Earlier this week, I picked up two large, organic pork chops and settled on rubbing them with herbs, garlic and olive oil and then frying them up in a pan. Keeping with my recent Southern roots theme, I cooked up a healthy version of Southern style green beans (that's minus the bacon) and served it all over grilled parmesan reggiano polenta (using my leftover grits from my Cajun Catfish dinner - click here). This meal cooked quickly and is perfect for the busy diva! So check it out. I promise you'll be as in love as I am.

Domestic Diva's Pork Chops w/ Southern Style Green Beans & Grilled Polenta

2 large organic pork chops
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grapeseed oil or canola oil
salt and pepper

Southern Style Green Beans:
2 cups green beans, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper

Grilled Polenta:
2 cups parmesan reggiano strewn grits (see catfish recipe), spread into a pan and allowed to rest overnight
2 tbsp olive oil


To make the green beans, heat the olive oil in a small pot over medium high heat. Add the shallot and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Ad the green beans and saute for 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the green beans are extra tender. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the grilled polenta, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Cut slices of the polenta and fry them in the pan until browned and crispy, flipping them once.

To make the pork chops, rub both sides with the herb mixture, garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. In a saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the pork chops, cooking for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove from heat.

To plate, place the grilled polenta on the plate. Spoon some of the green beans over the polenta. Top with the pork chop. Enjoy!

Wine Tasting Notes: Tablas Creek 2006 Grenache

Diva Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Kuzak and I love both love Tablas Creek, a fabulous Paso Robles producer of Rhone blends and varietals. We've been in their wine club for years. Recently, we received our new shipment, including their 2006 Grenache. Typically, I'm a sucker for a good bottle of grenache, and this wine lived up to my expectations. Rich with nice fruit and a smooth, structured finish, I could drink this any night of the week (and considering the inexpensive price, I just might). I highly recommend checking out Tablas Creek!

Cajun Spiced Catfish w/ Sauteed Chard & Parmesan Grits

Hey Divas! Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Kuzak and I found ourselves feeling pretty sluggish most of the weekend and OD'ing on Los Tacos, which did not help the sluggishness. The Monster, on the other hand, had an active two days, first with puppy class and then at the Laurel Canyon Dog Park, where he ran with a pack of other miniature, white fluffy dogs. On the culinary front, I made some great meals over the weekend that I'm excited to share this week! First up, I bought some beautiful catfish fillets and decided to give them the Cajun treatment. I served them with local, organic sauteed chard and parmesan reggiano strewn yellow corn grits. The combo was positively divalicious! Not only is this a healthy meal, it's also fast to whip together. So Divas, give it a shot!

Also, we paired this dish with a great bottle of Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir, so make sure to read to the bottom for my tasting notes!

"I love the Diva's grits!" said The Adorable Monster.

Domestic Diva's Cajun Spiced Catfish w/ Sauteed Chard & Parmesan Grits

2 catfish fillets
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups chard, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
pinch chili flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups grits, cooked
1/4 parmesan reggiano
salt and pepper


To make the grits, stir in the parmesan reggiano and season to taste with salt and pepper. Then, to make the chard, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute for 1 minute. Then, add the chard, stirring until cooked. Drizzle with 1 tbsp lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the fish, coat both sides of the catfish fillets with Cajun seasoning and sprinkle with the fresh thyme. In a large saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. At the fish, sauteing for a few minutes on each side until cooked. Remove from heat.

To plate, place some grits in the bottom of the disk. Top with a heap of chard and place one fillet on top. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp lemon juice. Enjoy!

"Yum, more grits for me! Now, if only I can get them
off the bottom of this pot!"

Wine Tasting Notes: Rivers-Marie 2005 Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

Diva Rating: 4 stars (out of 5 stars)

Today I was reflecting on how blessed we are to have both amazing local food and local wine. If you've been following my blog, then you've noticed that we drink mostly local, California wines. It's not that we don't love the wines produced in other areas of the world, it's just that we love the connections we form through what we eat and what drink to where we live. I've often blogged about Rivers-Marie, one of our favorite boutique Sonoma Coast producers. They make both excellent pinor noir and cabernet, and this particular bottling was no exception. A lovely Burgundian style wine, full of cherry and blueberry fruit up front. Light bodied with just enough structure to support the fruit, and a smooth, delicate finish. It drank well all night, down to the last drops I pilfered from Kuzak's when he fell asleep on the sofa. I highly recommend checking out Rivers-Marie!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mussels Mariniere & Garlic Pommes Frites

Hey divas, hope you're all enjoying your weekends, that respite from a busy week. For many, this is a holiday weekend, filled with friends and families, and if you celebrate like mine, then it's also filled with lots and lots of eating! To get you ready for Monday, I thought I'd post one of my favorite dinners to make in my "kitchen bistro." It's fresh, simple and healthy - perfect to throw together after along day at work. It's my Mussels Mariniere, big black bivalves steamed in white wine, and served with my famous garlic pommes frites! Mussels cook fast, they're inexpensive (only about $4 a pound), when they're farm raised, they're actually good for the environment because they filter the water, and they're packed full of beneficial nutrients. So next time you're at the grocery store, pick up some and try them out!

The Adorable Snow Monster Supervises Dinner

Note: When buying live mussels, you want to make sure they're shells are completely closed (indicating they're still fresh). Also, do not allow them to be packaged in a plastic bag as it will smother them. They should be wrapped in paper only, or a mesh bag. When you bring them home, promptly unwrap them and store in the fridge until you're ready to cook them.

Domestic Diva's Mussels Mariniere & Garlic Pommes Frites

2 lbs black mussels
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, diced
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp olive oil
10 yukon gold or new potatoes, chopped into spears
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper


Preheat the often to 425 degrees. Place the potatoes in a roasting pan and toss them with 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until cooked through and a little bit crispy. Remove from the oven, season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss them with the raw garlic and 2 tbsp of parsley.

DD's Famous Garlic Pommes Frites

Meanwhile, in a stock pot over medium high heat, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the shallots and saute until translucent. Then, add the white wine and herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer the wine for 3 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Then, turn the heat down to medium and add the mussels. Cover and steam them until cooked - you know they're ready when all of the shells have popped open - about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat, top with the lemon juice and remaining two tbsp parsley. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana with Homemade Guanciale

Divas, as promised, I'm here to blog the divalicious pasta I made for dinner the other night from my neighbor, John's, homemade guanciale (cured pork jowl that can be used like pancetta - click here to read the article I wrote about guanciale!). I've made this pasta many times - it's one of Mario Batali's favorites, a specialty at his New York joint, Babo. "all'Amatriciana" literally means that the pasta originated in the Italian town of Amatrice. I love the rich flavor of this dish, but I've only ever used pancetta when making it because I've never had access to guanciale, a popular ingredient in Italy that's rare in this country.

Diced Homemade Guanciale

So thanks to John, I had my first chance to work with the protein. The result was spectacular, lending the dish a deeper, meatier flavor than I've experienced when using pancetta. If I had to give this dish a nickname, I would call it Face Bacon Spaghetti! How can you say no to that? Instead of the traditional bucatini pasta (a thick spaghetti with a hole in the middle), I used a whole grain spelt spaghetti that worked wonderfully with the dish, and made it a tad bit healthier at the same time! I served it alongside steamed cauliflower drizzled with good olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. We drank a lovely bottle of Ampelos Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir, a wine I've been wanting to try, so scroll to the bottom for my tasting notes.

Domestic Diva's Spaghetti all'Amatriciana with Homemade Guanciale

1/4 lb (125 g) guanciale or pancetta, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
pinch of chili flakes
3 cups canned tomatoes, passed through a food mill
1 lb spaghetti or bucatini (I used whole grain spelt spaghetti)
salt and pepper
grated parmesan reggiano or pecorino romano, grated
Italian parsley, chopped


In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium and add the guanciale or pancetta, sauting until golden (about 10 minutes). Add the onion and saute until tender, about five more minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute for 1 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water. Cook the pasta to al dente and drain, reserving some of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to combine. If dry, add a little cooking water to the mixture.

To serve, place the pasta in a bowl and top with the cheese and parsley. Enjoy!

Wine Tasting Notes: Ampelos 2005 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Diva Rating: 3 stars (out of 5 stars)

Kuzak and I have been wanting to try this wine for some time, so I picked up a bottle the other week, finally popping it open while I made the pasta. I should first confess that I'm a little bit obsessed with Santa Rita Hills pinot, having flipped head over heels for The Ojai Vineyard Santa Rita Hills I had last month. This wine, while not as explosive as The Ojai, had a lot of the same characteristics. Lovely bouquet of ripe cherries and florals, nice structure but still light on its feet. It opened up well over the course of the night, and I would drink it again in a heartbeat.

Wine On Tap?

So I read a fascinating NY Times article today about the new phenomenon (in this country at least) of wine being served by the glass on tap at restaurants, much like beer. Serving wine on tap eliminates the phenomenon of the old, half empty, oxygenated bottle behind the bar. Like beer, the wine is stored in barrels with a cooling system. Gas enters the barrels to push the wine out. Sang Yoon, owner of Father's Office in Culver City, was one of the first people to try this, rigging up a system that uses nitrogen and serving several great wines on tap. Now that I know about this, I plan to make a field trip down to Culver City to give it a try and see if I can taste a difference! So look for my blog post on this!

Domestic Diva's Croissant Sandwich

So the other week, I blogged about a wonderful Los Angeles gem, SK's Donuts and Croissants (click here to read my review). Over the weekend, at Kuzak's urging, I loaded the Adorable Monster into my car and jetted off to SK's, loading up a box with fresh donuts and a couple of croissants larger than my head. While I'm not a huge donut fan, I have a major weakness for croissants. Wanting to make the most of them, and on a roll after making my Zingerman's reuben sandwiches, I decided to make breakfast sandwiches, stuffed with scrambled eggs, prosciutto, goat cheddar cheese and fresh dill. I served them alongside an arugula salad. While not the healthiest dish on the planet, I'd like to think the salad makes up for it, right?

Domestic Diva's Croissant Sandwich
1 SK's croissant, halved
2 eggs, beaten
2 slices prosciutto
a few slices of goat cheddar cheese
1 tbsp fresh dill
salt and pepper


Toast the croissant and then layer with the prosciutto. Meanwhile, scramble the eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the cheese and allow to melt, placing it under the broiler if needed. Load the eggs onto the prosciutto and sprinkle with fresh dill. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Diva Drops In On The Cheese Store of Silverlake

Today, after I discovered that my volunteer tutoring program in Echo Park was closed today due to spring break, I found myself with a few Adorable Monster free hours on my hands. Jetting down Sunset in my Prius blasting Death Cab (so very indie lame of me), I drove past the Sunset Junction and made a screeching left turn, deciding this would be a good afternoon to pop into The Cheese Store of Silverlake, a lovely little shop specializing in artisanal cheeses from all over the world.

Tilapia En Papillote with Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers & Olives

I know we're all always looking for new ways to cook fish. Well, one of my favorites is called En Pappillote which means in parchment paper. It involves wrapping the fish up in parchment paper with some other ingredients of your choosing, and then cooking it in the oven. It's a lovely way to serve a dish - each diner gets their own lovely packet to open. It's also an incredibly healthy way to cook. You can use almost any fish from salmon to halibut, but the other night I used some tilapia, adding some Mediterranean inspired ingredients, and served the fish alongside some lovely organic baby yams and organic green chard, that I sauteed up with lemon, garlic and chili flakes. So invest in a roll of parchment paper and give this a try! I promise you'll love it.

Baked Baby Yams with Fresh Dill

Domestic Diva's Tilapia En Papillote with Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers & Olives

2 tilapia filets
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp black olives, diced
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp basil, julienned
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper that's 2 1/2 times the width of your fish. Lay it out and fold it in half, brushing one side with olive oil. Lay the fish on the olive oil coated side. Top the fish with half of the cherry tomatoes, peppers, garlic, basil and olives. Drizzle with olive, a little lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Fold up the ends of the paper, twisting them in to create a packet. Place the packet in a Pyrex dish or roasting pan. Repeat with the other filet of fish.

Place the dish in the oven, cooking for 15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Remove the packets and serve, allowing each diner to open their own fish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Green Chili Chicken with Roasted Asparagus & Pepper Hash

Ever want to find a way to make boring old chicken less boring and old? The other day I picked up some lovely free range, organic chicken breasts, and found myself asking the same question. Because chicken has such mild flavor and must be cooked all the way through to avoid intestinal distress or worse, it's a challenging protein to work with. The answer came to me in a flash. I'd also picked up at the grocery store some canned green chilies from Hatch, New Mexico, near where my mother grew up. Channeling Bobby Flay, I decided to make a marinade in my blender out of them, and then to broil them for a grilled flavor. I also had some lovely organic asparagus - in season right now and affordable. I decided to serve everything over a rice and bean hash studded with lovely red bell peppers. The resulting dish was both gorgeous and flavorful - the perfect combination. So without further ado, here's my recipe.

Domestic Diva's Green Chili Chicken with with Roasted Asparagus & Pepper Hash

2 organic chicken breasts

1 small can green chillies
2 tbsp honey
1 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper

2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
salt & pepper


In a blender, combine the marinade ingredients and puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the chicken breasts in a bowl and pour the marinade over them, coating them well. Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes. Then, to cook the chicken by either broiling or grilling it until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes and then cut into thin slices.

To make the hash, heat a heavy bottomed saute pan or cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Then, saute the onion and pepper until lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for one minute longer. Then, add the rice and beans, cooking for an additional five minutes. Add the lime juice and dill, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pepper Hash in Cast Iron Pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the asparagus, place it in a roasting pan and drizzle with the olive. Salt and pepper it to taste. Then, cook it in the oven for ten minutes, or until tender.

Organic Asparagus in Roasting Pan

To plate, place the hash in the bottom of the dish. Lay some asparagus across the top. Finish it by adding the slices of chicken. Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Organic Eggs with Organic Micro Greens Salad

Hey Divas, are you tired of the same boring breakfast? I know I'm always looking for ways to spice up my morning. Well, this week at Trader Joe's, I found the most beautiful organic micro greens. They're gorgeous, delicate, healthy and delicious. So my favorite thing to eat for breakfast lately has been an egg, fried over easy, and then topped with a micro greens salad. I added a piece of Ezekiel toast and was all set for the day!

Note: If you can't find micro greens, arugula or baby mixed greens would work for this recipe!

Domestic Diva's Eggs with Organic Micro Greens Salad

1 organic egg
1/2 cup organic micro greens
1/4 lemon
1 tsp good olive oil
salt and pepper


In a small frying pan, fry the egg to desired doneness. I prefer mine over easy so the yolk is still runny. You may also poach the egg - that would be delicious, too! Place the egg on a plate and put the greens on top. Squeeze with lemon juice, drizzle with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Arugula Salad with Apples and Prosciutto

Looking to put a fresh twist on the same boring old salad? I made this lovely arugula salad the other night for dinner. Pairing the crisp greens with sweet apples and salty prosciutto was a winning combination. I served my salad with a homemade Roasted Acorn Squash Soup (click here for the recipe). It was a healthy and tasty dinner that even Kuzak really enjoyed!

DD's Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Note that this salad is great for company - easy to make - but with a beautiful presentation sure to impress!

Domestic Diva's Arugula Salad with Apples and Prosciutto

4 cups arugula
1 apple, cut into thin slices
6 strips prosciutto
1 tsp good balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper


Lay the strips of prosciutto flat along the bottom of a plate or wide-bottomed bowl. Place apples slices on top.

Meanwhile, in a big bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Add the arugula and toss to coat in the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Place the arugula on top of the apples and prosciutto. Enjoy!