Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Simple Suppers: Slow-Cooker Chicken Curry

I'm a huge fan of slow-cooking!  It's a healthy way to cook, needing almost no fat, and it's great for all busy divas.  You throw your dinner together in the morning, and when you come home, presto chango, dinner is ready!  Yesterday, I purchased a brand new crock pot from Target, and I couldn't be more excited to test it out.  The new one is larger, so I can cook whole chickens, and it has a fancy timer!

In celebration of my new purchase, here's one of my favorite slow-cooker recipes for Chicken Curry, one of my favorite dishes in the whole world!  I make this dish at least once or twice a month on average, and maybe even once a week sometimes. Not only do I love chicken curry for its complete deliciousness, I also love it for its health benefits!  First and foremost, curry contains spices like tumeric that have major anti-inflammatory benefits.  You really can't get enough of that stuff in your diet!  Second, this dish has a nice mixture of protein (chicken), vegetables (onions, carrots, peppers, garlic) and carbs (potatoes & rice).  For an extra healthy version, serve the curry over a brown basmati or other long grain rice instead of the traditional white rice.

This is also a great dish to serve for company!  I even made it for my Dad's 60th birthday party this summer.  Allow your guests to serve themselves family style and provide a bunch of fun garnishes for them to choose from, such as chopped peanuts, cilantro, bean sprouts and lime wedges.

Note: For vegetarians & vegans, tofu may be substituted for the chicken and vegetable broth for the chicken broth, making this a perfect meatless recipe!

Domestic Diva's Slow-Cooker Chicken Curry

1 lb organic chicken thighs, excess fat removed
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
6 small yukon gold potatoes, halved
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thick pieces
1 tbsp curry powder
3-4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 can light coconut milk
salt & pepper

1 cup basmati rice or other long grain rice
2 cups water
1 tsp olive oil

garnishes (optional):
cilantro, chopped
lime wedges
peanuts, toasted & chopped
bean sprouts


Place all the ingredients except the coconut milk, salt and pepper into the slow-cooker, stirring to combine.  Make sure that the chicken broth covers all the ingredients.  Cook on high for about 4 hours, or on low for 6 hours.

Once the chicken is tender and cooked through, stir in the coconut milk and season to taste with salt & pepper.

To plate, put some rice in a bowl and ladle the curry on top.  Then, add preferred garnishes & enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic chicken from Trader Joe's

organic bell pepper and organic carrots from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic onion, organic garlic, organic ginger & organic curry power from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Steve Martin - The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo

Doesn't it seem like some people have all the talent?  In addition to his comedy and prolific writing, Steve Martin also happens to be an accomplished songwriter and banjo musician!  His new bluegrass album is fantastic, full of warmth, charm and great wit, all characteristics associated with Steve Martin himself.  Tonight, Kuzak and I fortunate enough to be catching his life performancewith the Steep Canyon Rangers at a small venue called Largo, one of our favorite places to see live music in Los Angeles!  It promises to be a real treat!


My other upcoming live shows include Thom Yorke (of Radiohead) at The Orpheum on Sunday night.  He's performing with Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead) and Joey Waronker (REM, Beck).  Wow!  And, finally, Pearl Jam at the Gibson Ampitheater, my birthday present to Kuzak.  We'll be sitting in our Ten Club fan seats, of course!

It's That Time of Year! Los Angeles Restaurant Week!

Aren't we all always looking for great ways to save a buck, but still dine at fabulous restaurants!  If that's the case, then I have the answer to your prayers!  Los Angeles restaurant week runs Oct. 4-9 and Oct. 11-16.  All participating restaurants offer a three course prix fixe menu with a three level pricing tier (with the more expensive restaurants charge more).  I always hit a few of my favorite spots during this event! It's a great way to support your local restaurants and please both your palate and pocketbook at the same time!

To view a list of participating restaurants, menus and prices, CLICK HERE!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chicken Sausage Ragu with Homemade Whole Grain Spelt Pappardelle

If you ask me, there are few greater pleasures in life than homemade pasta. 

While the boxed stuff is a great shortcut, it pales in comparison to the flavor and texture of made-from-scratch pasta.  To this end, when dining out, I almost never order pasta unless it's homemade, and fortunately, a few of my regular restaurants do offer this option, including Pace in Laurel Canyon and Osteria Mozza, of course.

So, after months of promising myself to bust out my newly purchased Kitchenaid stand mixer pasta attachments, I finally went through with it and made my own pasta, inspired by my recent purchase of Mario Batali's Babbo Cookbook.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Simple Suppers: Domestic Divas Fish Tacos

It's another hot day at the end of a hot week, and when I'm sweating my ass off, huddled by my air conditioner, there are typically only two types of foods that appeal to me.  The first is sushi, with its cold, clean flavors, and the second is spicy food!  I know, it seems counter intuitive to crave something that only promises to make me sweat more, but for some reason, it chills me out (pun intended).  Maybe it's the endorphins, or the fact that psychologically, I feel like I'm sweating due to scrumptious food and not out-of-control global warming horriblenes that makes me feel better!  

So yesterday, at the peak of the mid-afternoon heat, I started fantasizing about fish tacos.  Lovely, spicy, limey tacos!  Luckily, I already had some fresh halibut lurking in my fridge, so on the way home from my workout class, I hurried into Trader Joe's to scoop up the rest of the ingredients I needed.  Then, I whipped up a batch of delicious fish tacos and served them with a side dish of black beans topped with queso fresco.

Then, Kuzak and I settled onto the porch to down our spicy meal because it was far to hot to eat in the house.  While the meal was excellent, the Adorable Monster, true to his name, was not.  Left to his own devices after being cooped up in the house all day, he ripped a pillow to shreds, scattering the fluffy stuffing all over the bedroom!  I think he's reached his terrible-one's, although in dog years, doesn't that make him like 7 years old?  Regardless, he was in the dog house.  No taco-plate-licking for him!

So, back to tacos!  Because this dish is so easy to make, so quick to come together and so healthy, I'm decided to include it as part of my "Simple Suppers" series.  So without further ado, enjoy!

Domestic Diva's Fish Tacos
makes 6-7 tacos

8 oz. halibut (any white fish will work, such as tilapia, cod, etc.)
soft corn tortillas
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 large lime or 2 small limes, juiced
1/4 olive oil
2 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
salt & pepper

1 avocado, cut into slices
pico de gallo (or other tomato salsa)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, diced
limes wedges


In a bowl, whisk together the jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro & olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the fish and marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Heat the grapeseed or canola oil in a saute or grill pan over medium high heat.  Remove the fish from the marinade and add it to the pan, cooking for a few minutes on each side until cooked through.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Note: The fish may be grilled for extra flavor!

Meanwhile, in a cast iron or other skillet, warm the corn tortillas and place them on plates.

Next, once the fish has cooled, separate it into flakes.

To prepare the tacos, put some of the fish in the center of each tortilla.  Top with some red onion, cilantro, avocado slices and a heaping teaspoon of pico de gallo.  Serve with lime wedges.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

halibut from the Hollywood Farmers Market

jalapeno, limes, organic cilantro, organic red onion, pico de gallo, organic avocado and corn tortillas from Trader Joe's

Music on Tap:

Okerville River - The Stage Names

So, for a moment, I've surfaced from listening nonstop to Pearl Jam's new cd, Backspacer, and have been digging on Okerville River's The Stage Names.  The album (released in 2007) is a companion of sorts to 2008's The Stand Ins, and boy do both of these albums rock!  Their sound is reminiscent of the overly hyped band, Bright Eyes, but I think these guys surpass them, especially with the maturation of their sounds on these latest two efforts.  I highly recommend checking out this band!  I'm completely in love...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Seared Scallops with Roasted Summer Vegetable "Risotto"

Hey Divas, once again, I'm hunkered down in my one air conditioned room, trying to stay out of the heat with SoCal temps soaring into the 100s.  So, while I'm hiding out with my laptop, I thought it would be the perfect chance for me to bring you another great recipe.  Last Sunday, I made my weekly trip to the Hollywood Farmers Market, and as I stood in line to purchase seafood, I had a food epiphany!

Jumbo Scallops!

Along with two fillets each of sole and halibut, I scooped up four, fresh, scrumptious-looking jumbo scallops.  I know at this moment, if The Wine Lover is reading this, he's probably cringing due to his scallop allergy, but for those of us fortunate enough to indulge, scallops can be like a little slice of heaven.  Along with my seafood purchases, I selected an assortment of fresh, organic produce, and couried it all home, where I proudly showed my purchases to Kuzak.

"Check out this cute purple baby bell pepper!" I cooed, cradling the delicate veggie in my palm.  "Oh, and can you believe how cute these yellow haricot verts are?"

He eyed the vegetables.  "You buy food based on its cuteness," he said wryly.

And so what if I do!

For dinner, after some careful consideration, I decided how I'd prepare my scallops.  I pan seared them, until they were caramelized and crispy on the outside, and then paired them with a roasted vegetable "risotto."  Now, a traditional risotto is made with a short grain white rice, such as arborio, and is slowly cooked with chicken broth, but I decided that I wanted to make a less time intensive version of risotto and use a short grain brown rice, cooked with water and olive oil for a cleaner flavor.  I chose short grain brown rice because it's healthier and I felt that the nutiness would pair well with my roasted summer vegetables.

Note:  This dish would work with any combination of roasted vegetables.  So get creative, and use what you have on hand, or what looks especially awesome at the market.  In the winter, for example, roasted butternut squash would be amazing!

Wow, was I right!  This was one of my favorite dinners I'd cooked recently, and it wasn't even that difficult to make.  This "risotto" would pair well with any shellfish or fish, and I had it leftover with a fried egg on top!  So delicious!

Domestic Diva's Seared Scallops with Roasted Summer Vegetable "Risotto"

4 jumbo scallops
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper


1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bell pepper or 2 baby bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 bunch purple spring onions, purple parts sliced into rings
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup eggplant, diced (I used 2 small Thai eggplants)
1 zucchini or other summer squash, chopped
3 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a roasting pan or other oven proof dish, mix the squash, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic and spring onions with 2 tbsp of the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Lay the thyme sprigs in the dish.  Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30-40 minutes until cooked and slightly caramelized.

Meanwhile, cook the rice by placing the water, olive oil and rice in a small pot and bringing to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to cool.

Once the vegetables have finished roasting, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.  Remove the thyme sprigs and mix with the cooked rice, tossing to combine.  Add the 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, the basil and season to taste with salt & pepper.

To cook the scallops, heat the grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium high heat until almost smoking. Make sure the scallops have been patted dry (this is what will allow them to sear properly), sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and then quickly sear in the pan, cooking for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from the pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp lemon juice.

To plate, place some of the rice in the bottom of a wide-bottomed bowl or place.  Top with two scallops.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

jumbo scallops, organic thai eggplant, organic cherry tomatoes, organic squash, organic baby bell peppers, organic purple spring onions, organic basil, organic lemons from the Hollywood Farmers Market

organic short grain brown rice, organic garlic & organic thyme from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Pearl Jam - Backspacer

Alright, I know I already wrote this album up, but this is the section where I like to feature the music I've been listening to while I cook, and frankly, I can't stop listening to this new album from Pearl Jam, one of my all-time favorite bands.  It's one of the best I've heard all year long, and while only time will tell, this may become one of their classic albums.  While it features mostly upbeat tunes like "The Fixer" with some of Eddie's best vocals melodies in years, it also has some acoustic gems that sound like they were conceived during Eddie's "Into The Wild" soundtrack era (also, a kick ass album if you haven't heard it yet!). 

And I promise to bring more new music to the table coming up!  I just got a new Okerville River album, Air has a new one coming out and I'm going to see Steve Martin's bluegrass band at Largo next week.  So stay tuned!

BONUS WINE TASTING NOTES:  Auteur 2006 Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

This bottle of wine was so fantastic from the very first sip, that I had to share it with you!  Auteur is a very cool Sonoma Coast and Willamette Valley winery that specializes in single vineyard pinot noir.  The brainchild of winemaker Kenneth Juhasz, this is hands-down one of the best California pinots I've tasted all year.  Full of big fruit, but balanced and quick on the tongue, I loved this wine from the first sip, and proof of it's charm, it vanished far too quickly from our glasses.  Also, having recently visited Mendocino and had a great experience wine tasting at Narvarro and Roederer in Anderson Valley, drinking this wine made me remember my wonderful trip.


Monday, September 21, 2009

The Diva Cooks Charlie Trotter's Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs with Mustard Spaetzle & Aromatic Vegetables!

Wow, even the name of that recipe is a mouthful!  A delicious, meaty, rich mouthful, but still a mouthful nonetheless!

So last week, I once again took on Charlie Trotter, my culinary hero, and lived to tell about it.  The mission?  To cook Trotter's version of Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs featured in the "Beef" section of his wonderful cookbook, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.  No simple task, I'll tell you.  Not only did this recipe require a 36 hour marinade, but it was a full two-pager with lots of individual steps.

The result?  Pure, blissful, heavenly, mouth-watering magic.

Here's a play-by-play of how it all went down!  I'll list my steps, but for the full recipe, you'll have to invest in Trotter's cookbook, money well spent if you want to take your cooking up a whole notch, or maybe even, several notches. The book is currently available on Amazon (CLICK HERE!). 

As I mentioned last week, instead of using traditional beef short ribs, I decided to use grassfed bison short ribs that I was fortunate enough to scoop up at the Hollywood Farmers Market from Kathy Lindner, owner and proprietor, along with her husband, of Lindner Bison.  They use both humane and sustainable practices - their bison are grassfed and raised without hormones and drugs.  I made only one other small substitution - instead of mustard greens, as called for in the recipe, due to their nonavailability, I used collard greens.

The first step involved making the marinade!  This step had to be done at least 24 hours prior to cooking.  I began by caramelizing onions, leeks, Granny Smith apple, garlic and jalapenos.  Then, I added a whole bottle of Zinfandel and brought it to a simmer.  I allowed that mixture to cool, and then I added the short ribs, olive oil, thyme, sage and a satchel of coriander seeds made out of cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine.  I covered the mixture tightly and refrigerated it for 36 hours (the recipe specifies a marinading time of 24-36 hours).  Talk about delayed gratification!

In the meantime, I exercised what I considered to be extreme patience, given my proximity to short ribs, and invited the A-Girl over for Friday night supper.  When she heard the menu, her response was, "Ummm... hell yes!"

I also held a wine pairing summit with Kuzak.  In my cookbook, the wine notes for this dish suggest pairing it with a Zinfandel.  Well, duh!  "The rich meat from the short ribs melts in your mouth and needs the cleansing quality of tannin to cut through the richness," I read aloud to Kuzak.  Cue mouth watering.  He suggested we pop a bottle of Turley Zinfandel, one of my very favorite producers.  Luckily, Kuzak had a bottle of 2004 Dry Creek Valley, Grist Vineyard squirreled away in his cellar that needed to be drunk.

After what may have been the longest 36 hours of my life, I removed the short ribs from the refrigerator and prepared to braise the living bejesus out of them!  This involved first removing them from the marinade and searing them in a hot pan until golden brown.  I did this in my favorite pan of all time, my All-Clad Braising Pan!  It goes from stove top to oven in a flash, and is specifically designed to make this sort of dish, though I pretty much use if for everything.  After searing the ribs, I added the marinade to the pan along with some chicken stock, and then covered it and placed it in a 350 degree oven.  Then, I had to exercise even more extreme patience, while the ribs braised for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat was fork tender.

Two things became instantly clear.  1) This was not a dish for the weak-willed.  Rather, it was like meditation boot camp!  Clear your mind.  Do not think about short ribs.  I repeat, DO NOT think about short ribs, delicious, falling off the bones, tender ass shorts ribs.  2) The smell emanating out of my oven was intoxicating!  I literally couldn't wait for dinner.

But wait, I still had like a gazillion other components to prepare!  Here's the rundown.  After the ribs were literally fork tender, I pulled them from the oven, removed them from my braising pan and set them aside.  And yes, I cheated, and nibbled on a rib, and already I knew this dish was going to be a winner, even if I messed up every single other element!  Next, I reduced my braising liquid by simmering it stove top until it I had about 1 1/2 cups left.

Meanwhile, I roasted some thick cut Yukon gold potatoes and turnip, the aromatic vegetables, in the oven with salt, pepper and olive oil, until they were tender.

After that, it was on to the collard greens.  These were prepared by rendering bacon in a saute pan (yes, this brilliant dish has both short ribs AND bacon, and now you understand why I've been obsessing!).  Then, I added the chopped greens, a little balsamic vinegar, a little sugar and some water, and cooked them for about 15 minutes, or until they were tender.  Lastly, I seasoned them with salt and pepper.  Whew!

At this point, I know, it seems like I should be finished, but I still had one major component left to make: the mustard spaetzle.  Now, I could have easily forgone this step and the dish would have been great, but I knew the mustard would pair well with the short ribs.  So, I jovially called out to the A-Girl, "It's spaetzle-making time!"  She smirked at me, "You sound like an old, Jewish woman!"  And maybe I did, but I didn't care.  I quickly stirred together eggs, mustard, flour and milk, whipping them into a stiff batter.  Then, I spooned teaspoons into simmering, lightly salted boiling water, cooking the spaetzle for a minute, until they floated.  Finally, I quickly sauteed them in butter and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

The last hurtle in this marathon?  Plating.  I reheated the ribs in the oven.  I placed some greens in the bottom of each bowl and topped them with the ribs.  Then, I arranged some potato and turnip wedges in the bowl, sprinkled them with the mustard spaetzle, spooned on the braising reduction and finished the dish with a dusting of fresh ground pepper.

Wow, what a marathon!  Over twenty-six culinary miles, multiple hurtles, obstacles, but was it worth it in the end?

The short answer to this short rib question is YES!  We sat down at the table on my porch, each with a hearty glass of Turley, and dug into the dish.  The ribs were everything I've ever wanted from a piece of meat - tender, rich, melt in my mouth goodness.  Every component of this dish was delicious, from the greens, wow, what amazing greens, to the sweet turnips and potatoes, to the rich braising sauce.  Even the mustard spaetzle was great!  Even better, we all decided that bison was a complete revelation!  It seemed to possess a deeper, richer flavor than beef, and it worked perfectly for this recipe.  Even the Adorable Monster agreed, as he greedily licked a bison bone clutched in Kuzak's hand.  I can't wait to try more bison!  Thank you to Lindner Bison!

Oh, and did I mention the Turley?  A wonderful, full-bodied wine with great tannins and flavors of raseberry.  It paired beautifully with the meal and disappeared far too quickly, as did the short ribs on our plates.

And there you have it, my Divas!  Another victory for Charlie Trotter!  And, if I may be so bold, another victory for the Diva!  I know I'll be making short ribs again in the near future, just as soon as I feel I've built up enough patience to withstand the delayed short rib gratification yet again!

Businesses Mentioned:

Lindner Bison
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
(661) 254-0200 

Run by the husband and wife team of Kathy and Ken Lindner, Jr., they specialize in bison raised humanely and sustainably.  Their bison are grassfed, free of drugs and hormones.  Bison meat tastes similar to beef, but with what some describe as a fuller, richer flavor.  They can be found selling their grassfed bison at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday.  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE. 

The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter
by Charlie Trotter  

This is hands down my favorite cookbook.  At this point, my copy is stained, dog-eared, but still working its magic in my kitchen, just the way a good cookbook should be! This is the book that changed my cooking and, therefore, my life.  Working with his recipes, and his flavor profiles, one cannot help but be blown away by his culinary genius.  Like a jazz musician, he takes an improvisational approach to cooking, which allows flexibility in the kitchen to work with the best ingredients available.  Every Charlie Trotter recipe I've ever made has turned out nothing less than stellar.  Currently, in stock at Amazon. 

Source for Ingredients:

Lindner grassfed bison short ribs from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic turnip, organic Yukon gold potatoes, organic collard greens, organic Granny Smith apple, organic leeks, organic onions, organic garlic, organic bacon, organic thyme, organic sage from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Pearl Jam - Backspacer

Wow, this album is incredible!  Now, I'll confess up front that I'm a huge Pearl Jam fan, but even the casual listener would enjoy this new album, easily their best effort since 1998's Yield.  It's a tight listen, with a runtime under 40 minutes, super-catchy and upbeat.  The first single in particular, The Fixer, will stick in your head for days.  It's in mine right now.  I can't wait to see them in Los Angeles at the Gibson Amphitheater on October 6th!  I already have my fan club tickets reserved.  So check out the new album!  You won't be disappointed! Available exclusively at Target and on iTunes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Simple Suppers: Seared Ahi Tuna with Wild Rice

Happy Friday Divas!  Let me share with you what I've got planned!  It's only two words.

Short Ribs!

Today is dedicated entirely to the execution of a Charlie Trotter recipe I've been dying to try for Zinfandel Braised Short Ribs.  My mouth waters just typing those words.  The recipe heralds from his amazing cookbook, the one that changed my cooking and therefore my life, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.  Now, if you ask me, there's nothing in the world better than tender as hell, falling off the bone short ribs.  This recipe pairs the short ribs with roasted root vegetables (yukon gold potatoes & turnips), greens cooked in bacon and mustard spaetzle (something I've never cooked before).  But just reading those flavor profiles, I'm positive this recipe is going to be a winner.  The ribs have already marinaded for 36 hours in a concoction of a whole bottle of red wine mixed with caramelized apple, onion, leek & jalapeno and finished with thyme, sage and coriander seeds.

The decision to cook this recipe this week was precipitated by the availability of Lindner Bison Short Ribs at the farmers market this weekend.  I purchased the ribs directly from Kathy Lindner herself.  Her farm represents the kind of responsible, local agriculture that I most wish to support.  Lindner's bison are humanely raised, grassfed, and free of drugs and hormones. I couldn't be more excited to cook her meat!  Bison meat boasts a flavor similar to beef, but because it's grassfed, is leaner than typical short ribs (healthier) and bison typically has a richer and fuller flavor than beef.  

In addition to his amazing recipes, Charlie Trotter's cookbook also offers great tips for wine pairings, and for this one, drinking a great California Zin is obviously the best choice.  Kuzak has a few potential suitors at his fingertips, including a Turley that must be drunk soon and a great Outpost Zin.

Luckily for me, and for the Adorable Monster, the A-Girl is coming over this evening to tackle Runyon and then feast on my short rib dinner, and undoubtedly endure an extensive leg humping session courtesy of the Monster.  In fact, we're considering changing his name to Sir Humps-A-Lot.  It has a nice ring to it.  Or, maybe, Humpy von Humpson.  Now who could resist humping and dinner on a Friday night?

I promise to report on how my Trotter experiment proceeds tonight, but in the meantime, I want to bring you another installment in my Simple Suppers series.  We're all always looking for quick, healthy meals to whip up after a long day at work, and this one is a cinch.  Ahi Tuna is delicious and so easy to cook, in part, because it doesn't even really need to be cooked, just seared which takes only a few minutes.  I paired the fish with a great whole grain wild rice blend.  Add a salad or steamed vegetable, and you have the perfect meal!

Note:  I don't recommend eating tuna every day due its higher mercury content, but once or twice a month, it's a great treat.

Domestic Diva's Seared Ahi Tuna with Wild Rice

Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna (4 oz. fillet per person)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil

quick marinade:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt & pepper

1 cup wild rice
2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
optional: 1 vegetable bouillon cube (I buy natural bullion from Whole Foods)


To make the rice by placing the rice, water, olive oil and bouillon in an uncovered pot and bringing it to a boil.  Cover and cook for approximately 40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Remove from heat, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice & thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Give the tuna a quick marinade for about 20 minutes (can be left in marinade for longer).

In a hot saute pan, add the grapeseed oil.  Remove the tuna from marinade, sprinkle fillet with salt and pepper, and quickly sear, cooking on each side for only about a minute or two.  Remove from pan and allow to rest for a few minutes. Then, cut into thin slices, revealing the beautiful, raw middle.

To plate, pile some rice in the middle of the plate and then arrange the tuna slices on top.  Squeeze a little more lemon juice on top.  Enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned:

Lindner Bison
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
(661) 254-0200 

Run by the husband and wife team of Kathy and Ken Lindner, Jr., they specialize in bison raised humanely and sustainably.  Their bison are grassfed, free of drugs and hormones.  Bison meat tastes similar to beef, but with what some describe as a fuller, richer flavor.  They can be found selling their grassfed bison at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday.  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE. 

The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter
by Charlie Trotter  

This is hands down my favorite cookbook.  At this point, my copy is stained, dog-eared, but still working its magic in my kitchen, just the way a good cookbook should be! This is the book that changed my cooking and, therefore, my life.  Working with his recipes, and his flavor profiles, one cannot help but be blown away by his culinary genius.  Like a jazz musician, he takes an improvisational approach to cooking, which allows flexibility in the kitchen to work with the best ingredients available.  Every Charlie Trotter recipe I've ever made has turned out nothing less than stellar.  Currently, in stock at Amazon. 

Source for Ingredients:

sashimi grade ahi tuna & wild rice from Whole Foods 

Music on Tap:

Devildriver - Pray for Villains

Having established their hard-driving sound over there previous albums and countless live shows, one of my favorite metal bands brings it on their new album, a slickly produced studio effort that captures the ferocity of their live sound.  This album has been on heavy rotation in my car and at the gym (there's no better place to listen to metal).  One of the guitarist also happens to be a friend.  Check this album out if you get a chance!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beast Restaurant: Chef Naomi Pomeroy Slays the Beast!

Braised Rabbit with Curry Cream Sauce

My lovely Divas, it's the moment you've all been waiting for, the one where I reveal the name of the restaurant where I had the best meal of the year!  As I mentioned, it wasn't in Los Angeles, or even San Francisco for that matter, but rather in Portland, Oregon, the final pit stop on my recent West Coast tour.  For months, I'd been hearing about Chef Naomi Pomeroy, one of the recipients of this year's Food and Wine Magazine Best New Chef Awards, and her unusual eatery that specialized in meat.  So on my recent trip to Portland last week, I jumped at the chance to eat at her restaurant and made a reservation.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Summer Succotash with Purple Spring Onions & Baby Squash

Happy Monday Divas! Yesterday, I hit up the Hollywood Farmers Market and scored and incredible bounty of food, everything from Santa Barbara black shrimp, to Bison short ribs, to organic wax beans in three colors, to organic heirloom bell peppers! I have some fabulous recipes planned this week, including Zinfandel braised bison short ribs, which I'll be begin marinading tomorrow so that can soak for 24 to 36 hours before braising. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share a quick side dish that I threw together using ingredients easily found at the Farmers Market this time of year! This is also a vegetarian dish for all your veggie lovers out there.

Now, a succotash is traditionally made with corn and shell beans or lima beans, but in this case I made mine with corn, purple spring onions & baby squash for a lighter take on the dish. This is quick to make - taking less than 30 minutes to throw together - and it's a great way to spice up a vegetable side dish. Serve this succotash with fish, shrimp or chicken for a lovely, light summer meal! Or, if you'd prefer to keep it vegetarian, add beans or tofu and enjoy! Happy Cooking Divas!

Baby Squash from the Farmers Market

Domestic Diva's Summer Succotash with Purple Spring Onions & Baby Squash!

2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 bunch purple spring onions, purple parts sliced into rings (regular spring onions may be substituted)
2 cups baby squash, thinly sliced (regular squash may be substituted)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp chili flakes
salt & pepper


In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute for a 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute longer.

Add the squash and corn, saute until cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and season to taste with salt & pepper. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic purple spring onions, organic corn & organic baby squash from Hollywood Farmers Market

Music on Tap:

Okkervil River - The Stand Ins

The sequel to 2007's The Stage Names, this album has been on heavy rotation in my car all week! Similar musically to Bright Eyes, except more focused (and less pretentious), Okkervil River has quietly become on my favorite music acts. Check out this album (and their others) and I promise you won't be disappointed!

Friday, September 11, 2009

San Francisco Pt 2: The Diva & The Top Chef Visit Chez Panisse Cafe

Wood Fired Vegetable Lasagna

What trip to San Francisco would be complete without a stop at Chez Panisse, the famous Alice Waters restaurant that started it all? We chose to dine at the cafe instead of the more formal, Prix Fixe restaurant. The larger array of choices suited our big party best. Also, My Top Brother prefers the more casual atmosphere, especially on his days off from kitchen slavery. But just because the restaurant is more casual, doesn't mean it's lacking in any way. The service and food remain stellar, and exemplary of Water's style. The menu is packed full of fresh, local, seasonal offerings, and while the menu items may sound ordinary - a vegetable lasagna for instance - they are anything but ordinary when eaten.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Simple Suppers: Black Mussels with Saffron, Baby Tomatoes & Basil

Ah, it's so nice to be back on LA, hanging with the Adorable Monster, who by the way continues to be both adorable and monstrous, and cooking up great food! I have more restaurant reviews from my West Coast trip coming your way as well as tons of great recipes! In the meantime, I'm happy to announce a new series of posts called "Simple Suppers" that will feature easy, healthy recipes for busy divas. The first recipe I'm featuring is for Black Mussels with Saffron, Baby Tomatoes & Basil.

I know the idea of cooking mussels can sound intimidating, and many people stick to ordering them in restaurants, but I'm here to tell you that they are actually one of the easiest things in the world to cook! Not only that, but they're protein and mineral packed and very affordable, usually costing only around $4 a pound. This dish should take under thirty minutes to cook, from start to finish. For a compete meal, pair it with a quick mixed greens salad and some toasted bread to sop up the sauce. Enjoy!

Note: When buying mussels, make sure they are all closed. If they're beginning to open, that means they're not fresh. Also, ask that your fishmonger not wrap them in a plastic bag - it suffocates them. A mesh bag or just plain paper works best. Upon returning home, unwrap them and store in the refrigerator. If possible, consume the same day after purchase.

Tomatoes, Saffron & Basil Simmering in White Wine

Domestic Diva's Black Mussels with Saffron, Baby Tomatoes & Basil

Serves 2-3 people

2 lb black mussels, scrubbed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup baby tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp saffron
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper


In a big pot with a lid (I use my braising pan), heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallots and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes). Then, add the tomatoes and continue to cook until soft (another 5 minutes). Add the white wine, 1 tbsp basil & saffron and simmer for a few minutes to reduce the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the mussels and cover tightly. Cook them for about 6-8 minutes, or until all of the mussels have opened to indicate they're done.

To serve, pour the mussels and sauce into a large serving bowl. Squeeze with the lemon juice and top with a little fresh cracked pepper and the remaining 1 tbsp basil. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

black mussels from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic baby tomatoes & organic shallot from Whole Foods

spanish saffron & white wine from Trader Joes

Music on Tap:

Air - Moon Safari

From the esteemed French duo, this is my favorite of their albums and the first I ever heard from them. Kuzak brought it out to Harvard during a visit my freshman year of college, and I instantly fell in love with the group. This is a must listen to album!

On another note, I'm off to see Nine Inch Nails tonight at the Wiltern for their final farewell show!! I promise to report back on the concert.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

San Francisco Pt 1: The Diva Dines at Picco!

Monterey Bay Grilled Squid

Divas, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but I've been on a road trip with the entire family (see the National Lapoon's Vacation for details), and unfortunately, hippie cabins on the coast of Oregon offer little promise of Internet access. I planned to post when we finally reached Portland for Kuzak's brother's wedding, the blessed event that spurned this trip, but as fate would have it, our entire hotel was overrun by a massive anime convention.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Domestic Diva's Late Summer Composed Salad

Oh, Divas, what a crazy world! Los Angeles is on the cusp of burning to the ground, I just pray the Monster survives. My thoughts and prayers go out to the firemen bravely battling the blaze. Today begins my trip up the coast from San Francisco to Portland, a three day odyssey, that may or may not bring me Internet access. So please bear with me, and in the meantime, here's a great recipe to celebrate the end of summer. It's inspired in part by Alice Waters, in whose restaurant I had the pleasure of dining last night - what a spectacular meal!

Ever go to the farmers market and just get absolutely overwhelmed by the bounty late summer offers? Huge, bulging, succulent heirloom tomatoes the size of a child's skull, crisp, tangy lemon cucumbers, bright red bell peppers, butter lettuces! I could go on and on, but here's a great way to make use of these ingredients. Make them into a composed salad! For protein, I added some quail eggs from the market, but regular eggs would work, too! I also threw in some high quality yellowtail tuna packed in olive oil. This salad is hearty enough to be dinner all by itself!

Domestic Diva's Late Summer Composed Salad

1 head butter lettuce, washed and torn into pieces (any other lettuce will work)
1 large heirloom tomato, chopped
2 lemon cucumbers, peeled and chopped (can sub regular)
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
6 small yukon gold potatoes, blanched and halved
1/4 cup basil, chopped
6 quail eggs
1 can high quality oil-packed tuna
1/4 cup black olives, pits removed


1 egg yolk
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 tsp mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper


To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the egg yolk, vinegar and mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Finally, whisk in the garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the composed salad, first cook the quail eggs by placing them in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then into cold water. Allow to cool, and then peel shells (their shells are much thinner then normal eggs). Once cool, cut in half. The whites should be cooked and the yolks soft.

Next, place the lettuce in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Arrange each of the ingredients grouped together around the bowl. Place the quail eggs in the middle. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic butter lettuce, organic lemon cucumbers, organic heirloom tomatoes, organic basil, organic bell pepper, quail eggs from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic yukon gold potatoes & yellowtail tuna packed in oil from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown
Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits
Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam
Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism
Air - 10,000 Mgz Legend
Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
Mojave 3 - Out of Time

The road trip begins today, so these are just a few of the albums I intend to play!