Monday, November 30, 2009

WTF LA Wine Tasting at City Sip!

Divas, just wanted to alert you to a fun wine tasting event coming up this Wednesday night that I'll try to hit up!

WTF LA (Wine Tasting For Los Angeles run by my BDFF Leah) will be hosting a wine tasting at City Sip on December 2nd from 7:30PM - 10:30PM.  The cost for the tasting is $10, but then you get a $10 discount off any purchases of wine or gift baskets.  For those of you who have never been, City Sip is one of my favorite wine bars, featuring a big selection of unique, family-owned wines.

So you can get your tasting on AND purchase great holiday gifts at the same time!  Who knew drinking wine could be so productive?

Event Information:

When:  Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Time:  7:30PM - 10:30PM
Where:  City Sip (2150 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, (213) 483-9463)



Meatless Monday: Individual Plum Crumbles with Homemade Ezekiel Breadcrumbs!

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!

I just got back from Des Moines, Iowa last night, and boy did I have a great time (and several great meals).  I'll be blogging all about it later this week, so stay tuned!  And in more news, the Eat My Blog charity bake sale to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is this Saturday, so I'll be making my Bacon Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Sauce this week!  I can't wait to sample all the deliciousness for myself!

In the meantime, I know the winter holidays are just around the corner, so I'll  be bringing you a few recipes that are fabulous for entertaining, starting with this  simple dessert.  There's nothing I love more than a fresh fruit crumble, and for a fun twist, I baked these into individual ramekins.  I used organic red plums, but any fresh fruit will do, from apples to berries.

I also made homemade breadcrumbs using Ezekiel Bread, a sprouted whole grain bread, which gives this a healthier twist.

These adorable desserts would be perfect to make for any holiday dinner parties you're throwing, and without all the guilt!  They contain both fresh organic fruit and whole grain.  Serve them straight up or with a low fat vanilla ice cream, or for you dairy-avoiders, Rice Dream.

Individual Plum Crumbles with Homemade Ezekiel Breadcrumbs
Serves 4 people 

4 organic red plums, pits removed and chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Ezekiel or whole wheat breadcrumbs (recipe to follow)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the Ezekial breadcrumbs, toast 2 slices of Ezekial bread.  Place in a food processor and pulse until broken down into breadcrumbs.

Toss the plums with the sugar and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Spoon the fruit mixture into four individual ramekins and place a sliver of butter on top.

Sprinkle the tops of each ramekin with the breadcrumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon, dividing evenly between them.  Top with slivers of butter.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the fruit has started to bubble up.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Serve one per person, and top with low fat vanilla ice cream or Rice Dream.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic red plums and Ezekiel Bread from Trader Joe's

organic sugar, organic brown sugar and organic cinnamon from Whole Foods 

Nutrition Facts:

Individual Plum Crumbles with Homemade Ezekiel Breadcrumbs

4 Servings

Amount Per Serving

Calories 158.2
Total Fat 6.2 g
          Saturated Fat 3.6 g
          Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
          Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g

Cholesterol 15.5 mg
Sodium 185.1 mg
Potassium 154.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 24.7 g
          Dietary Fiber 2.7 g
          Sugars 12.4 g

Protein 2.5 g

Music On Tap:

Lady Gaga - The Fame Monster

This new release from huge pop sensation Lady Gaga includes the monster single, Bad Romance, many remixes, and the fantastic new track, Speechless that's been on permanent rotation on my iPod. I can't get enough of her!


Thursday, November 26, 2009


I just wanted to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, filled with joy, love and, of course, great food!  Thank you for supporting Domestic Divas - I'll back with more great recipes and much more next week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Simple Suppers: Carrot-Ginger Soup!

Happy Almost-Thanksgiving!

When we think of T-Day, I know our minds instantly conjure up images of Turkeys, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie, but one of my favorite ways to kick off any epic meal is with soup!  It's like the perfect pre-party before the big game - a warm, cozy bowl of sumptuous flavor that warms up your palate and gets your ready for the main course.

For that reason, instead of a traditional Thanksgiving recipe, I'm bringing you my take on the classic Carrot-Ginger Soup, a perfect holiday dish that has all the flavors you want this time of year, from sweet to savory and from sweet to spicy.  As mentioned, this soup would be great served as a first course to a holiday dinner, or simply paired with a salad for a simple supper!

For an extra kick of deliciousness, I drizzled roasted walnut oil over the soup right before serving it,  If you've never tasted roasted walnut oil, then your life simply isn't complete!  I'm obsessed with the stuff and will be giving it out as a holiday gift this year, that's how much I love it. 

Carrot-Ginger Soup
Serves 4 people

1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large or 3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tsp chili flakes
1 bay leaf
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
salt & pepper

optional: roasted walnut oil for drizzling


In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, reduce heat to medium and saute until softened and slightly translucent, but not browned (about 5 minutes).  Once the onions have softened, add the garlic, chili flakes and ginger and cook for one minute. Add the carrots, potatoes, bay leaf and stock.  Bring to a simmer and then cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, or until all the vegetables have softened.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Once it's cool enough to handle, take out the bay leaf and discard, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree the soup, in two batches if necessary.  Return to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Note: if the soup is too thick, you can thin it with additional stock or water to your desired consistency.

To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl.  Drizzle with roasted walnut oil or good olive oil and top with fresh ground pepper.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic heirloom carrots, organic onion, ginger, organic potatoes & organic roasted walnut oil from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic low sodium vegetable stock and chili flakes from Trader Joe's

organic bay leaf and organic olive oil from Whole Foods

Nutrition Facts:

Carrot-Ginger Soup

4 Servings

Amount Per Serving: 

Calories 172.3  
Total Fat 3.8 g
          Saturated Fat 0.5 g
          Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
          Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g

Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 794.6 mg
Potassium 765.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 32.2 g
          Dietary Fiber 6.5 g
          Sugars 7.1 g

Protein 3.3 g

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wine of the Week: Pisoni Estate 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

This week I'm writing about an exceptional bottle of Central Coast wine: the 2007 Pisoni Estate 2007 Pinot Noir!

Now, some of you Central Coast fans may have come across the name Pisoni on your tasting travels because most of their exclusively pinot noir grapes are sold to other winemakers, who then make their own Pisoni single vineyard pinots (like my winemaker friend, Bill Cates of Tantara - did I mention that I love his Pisoni?). The Pisoni family began growing grapes in 1982, but it wasn't until 1998 that they started retaining a small percentage of their grapes to make their own estate bottling. I should also mention that the Pisoni family is committed to using sustainable practices in their vineyard, so that it may be shared with future generations.

Given the quality of their grapes, it wasn't a huge shock to learn that their most recent effort had garnered high praise and high scores from many of the top wine critics (Robert Parker gave it a whopping high 96 and dubbed it "an exceptional effort").  We ordered a few bottles when our offering came and stowed them in our cellar, finally opening one for a dinner party we threw last weekend for some wine-loving friends.

Holy Cow! 

I know that's not exactly refined language, but seriously, this wine sang from the glass beginning with the very first taste.  It's the kind of wine you take one sip and go, "Yum!" even if you're not a connoisseur.  This is a huge, rich, full-bodied wine, but even with all its incredible raspberry fruit, somehow it doesn't go overboard, and the flavors remain pure and strong.  The nose is also intensely aromatic and complex, and while it tastes nothing like a Burgundy, the nose reminds me of some of the best from that region.

This is easily one of my favorite wines I've tasted this year, and wow, I've had some great ones!  I highly recommend checking out Pisoni and getting on their mailing list.  They're a great operation and worth knowing about!


Upon release, this wine was priced around $60/bottle, a little pricier than some of the wines I've written up recently, but worth every penny!  My first recommendation is always to get on the mailing list first, which you can do via their website, so you can get access to these wines on release at the best prices. It's sold out at most wine retailers and prices have gone up, but I did manage to find one retailer who's selling it for a mere $65/bottle!  They have limited quality, so act fast! 


Winery Information:

Pisoni Vineyards & Winery
P.O. Box 908
Gonzales, CA 93926
(800) 270-2525


Tuesday Round-Up (for the Week of November 23rd, 2009)

Thanksgiving is almost upon us!  In light of that, I'm featuring a great article from The Minimialist - his 101 Quick Thanksgiving Recipes!  Also, for you Angelenos, dineLA has announced their Winter Dates!  So check out what caught my interest this week in my Tuesday Round-Up!
dineLA's Winter Dates Announced: Jan. 24 - Jan. 29 and Jan. 31 - Feb. 5!   
The Minimalist's 101 Quick Thanksgiving Recipes!
The New York Times' Thanksgiving Page with Videos, How-To Guides and More!
Conversation with Baker Jim Lahey of New York's Sullivan Street Bakery & His Recipe for No-Knead Bread!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meatless Monday: Holiday Pancakes with Cornmeal, Apples & Cinnamon!

I know that all the food networks, magazines and blogs are spewing out hundreds of holiday recipes for you try this coming Thanksgiving, but I ask you one very important question!

Is anyone concerned about what you're going to cook the morning AFTER Thanksgiving?

Once all the hoopla has died down, and you've ingested more than enough turkey to last you two lifetimes, don't you want to wake up to one more delicious meal to be shared with family and friends?  Not to mention the fact that many of us are hosting tons of visiting relatives and guests - it's practically like you're feeding an army! Don't wake up in a cold sweat, worried that all your food resources have abandoned you after the holiday!

The Diva is here to help with another fabulous recipe! Now we all love pancakes and they're perfect for feeding a lot of guests, but who wants to make the same, old boring pancakes on a snazzy Holiday like Thanksgiving?  So throw away your mix (you don't need it anyway), and try out this fabulous recipe I whipped up yesterday for breakfast!

Not only is this recipe vegan (and I promise no one will be able to tell if you don't mention it), but I make it with a mixture of whole grain flour and cornmeal, which gives it a big boost of healthy grains and fiber, making these pancakes extra satisfying.  The apples also provide a serving of fruit, and combined with the cinnamon, they imbue this recipe with the flavor of fall.  I recommend topping these pancakes with good maple syrup and preserved or fresh fruit, or if you're feeling extra frisky, stewed apples!

A neat trick used in this recipe is that instead of the customary buttermilk, apple cider vinegar adds that nice kick to the batter.  I used a great organic apple cider vinegar, Johna's Organic Orchard, which I purchased at my local farmers market.  It tasted delicious in this recipe!

Also, starting with this recipe, I'm including nutrition information!  Give me feedback and let me know if this feature is helpful to you!

Holiday Pancakes with Cornmeal, Apples & Cinnamon
Serves 2 people (makes about 5-6 medium-sized pancakes) 

1 cup fortified almond milk or rice milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used spelt flour)
1/2 tsp sodium-free baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, cut into small dice  


Place the diced apples in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to soften.  Set them aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond milk, the maple syrup and the apple cider vinegar and mix together.  Set it aside.

In another bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix together.  Then, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir together until there are no lumps.  Be careful not to over beat!  Add the apples to the mixture.

Heat a frying pan or griddle to medium to medium-high heat.  Coat the cooking surface with vegetable oil or spray (I prefer grapeseed oil).  Pour a scoop of the mixture in the center onto the hot surface and cook until small bubbles appear in the top surface.  Using a spatula, flip the pancake and cook for another minute.  Remove to a plate.  Repeat until all the batter is used.  

Serve immediately along with good maple syrup and preserved or fresh fruit.  Enjoy! 

Businesses Mentioned: 

Johna's Organic Orchard
16529 Highline Road
Tehachapi, CA 93561

(661) 822-8288

Not only do they produce great apples and other fruit, but they make the best organic apple cider and organic apple cider vinegar!  They can be found at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday. 

Source for Ingredients: 

organic whole grain spelt flour, Bob's Red Mill cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt from Whole Foods

organic maple syrup and organic vanilla almond milk from Trader Joe's 

organic apple and organic apple cider vinegar from Hollywood Farmers Market

Nutrition Facts: 

Holiday Pancakes with Cornmeal, Apples & Cinnamon  

2 Servings 

Amount Per Serving

Calories 332.2
Total Fat 3.1 g
    Saturated Fat 0.3 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
    Monounsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 657.8 mg
Potassium 267.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 73.3 

    Dietary Fiber 7.8 g
    Sugars 20.1 g
Protein 7.1

Friday, November 20, 2009

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Lemon-Tahini Sauce & Mint Rice

Friday is finally here!  Let's out let out a collective sigh of relief.


In honor of the weekend, I thought I'd write up a Greek-inspired recipe that I made last week!  Now, I've often mentioned that I let my ingredients inspire me, so the centerpiece of this dish was the gorgeous hunks of rack of lamb that I preordered from Healthy Family Farms, CSA.  They are known for their tender, mild lamb, and I was stoked to try it for the first time.

The only other ingredient I scooped up at the Farmers Market that wasn't a pantry staple was a fragrant bundle of mint from Kenter Canyon Farms, based on the fact that lamb paired with mint is a classic flavor profile.

A few days later, I plotted out my dish.  One of my favorite recipes to serve with spicy curries is my Mint Rice (click here for recipe).  It's so simple - I literally just cook rice, let it rest and then toss in some chopped mint.  The aromatic herb transforms the boring old rice into something transcendent.  I decided the lamb would taste delicious served over this recipe.

My next thought was that I'd simply herb crust the lamb with thyme, rosemary and parsley and rub it with garlic and olive oil, sure to be delicious.   Because of the quality of the meat, which I wanted to taste, I wanted to prepare it simply by pan-roasting it on the stove top.  Finally, to tie the dish together, I settled on preparing a lemon-tahini sauce, both tahini and lamb being classic staples in Greek cuisine.  I also happen to adore the taste of lemon with meat, so I knew this recipe would be a winner!

Not only did the flavor profiles work really well in this dish, but the lamb truly was the star, succulent and tender, melting in your mouth without even a hint of the gaminess that I've often associated with lamb.  This might be the first time I've seen Kuzak clean his plate, even sopping up with lamb juice with the fat!  At the end of the meal, the only thing left to show we'd eaten anything at all were the lamb bones, scattered across clean plates.  It sure made dishes a snap!

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Lemon-Tahini Sauce & Mint Rice
Serves 2 people 

4 rack of lamb pieces (2 bones each) or 1 rack of lamb
1 cup of rice, cooked
1 tbsp mint, chopped
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
1 tsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt & pepper

lemon-tahini sauce:
2 tbsp sesame tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp cumin, ground
salt & pepper


To make the lemon-tahini sauce, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice and cumin in a bowl.  Add water as needed to thin to a nice consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the mint rice, simply toss the cooked rice with the mint and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Also, set aside.

To prepare the lamb, rub it with the rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic and olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper on all sides.

In a saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over high heat.  Add the lamb pieces and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook the lamb on all sides, until golden brown and cooked medium rare.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Note: if working with a whole rack of lamb (not just pieces), I recommend searing the lamb stove top and then finishing it in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the rack.

To plate, scoop the mint rice onto a plate and then top with two pieces of the lamb, arranging them nicely.  Drizzle on the lemon-tahini sauce and grind fresh cracked pepper over it.  Enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned:

Healthy Family Farms, CSA
6780 Wheeler Canyon Rd.
Santa Paula, CA 93060

I loved their lamb so much, I emailed my contact to rave about it!  

A CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, is a way for a community to come together and support a local farm or group of farms by paying upfront for a share of their product.  The benefit comes from supporting a small business and also getting access to their superb offerings.  

In the case of Healthy Family Farms, they provide eggs, chicken, cornish game hens, milk-fed pork, ducks, lamb and beef!  Their animals are all natural, grass-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones.  Even better, if you join for a nominal fee of $50 annually, you can get a discount on their product and access to raw goat and cow milk, cheese and other specialties (I'm a member!).  

They can be found at Farmers Markets, including the Hollywood Farmers Market which I frequent just about every Sunday.  

Source for Ingredients:

rack of lamb from Healthy Family Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic mint, organic rosemary, organic thyme from Kenter Canyon Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic garlic and organic lemons from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic flat-leaf parsley and forbidden rice from Whole Foods

Thursday, November 19, 2009

North American "Pinot Noir, Terroir and Thou" Wine Tasting Dinner At Lou Curated by John Haeger!

On Monday night, Lou, an intimate wine bar decorated with tree-printed wall paper and blackboards, spiffed up their usual Monday Night tasting menu with wine pairings by inviting special guest, John Haeger, to curate the wines.  Haeger's an expert in North American Pinot Noir, the best of which grows up and down the West Coast, and he chose 7 fantastic wines, each of which was lovingly paired with a course of food.  The wines all exhibited a more reserved, Burgundian style that showcased their terrior rather than the customary high-alcohol fruit bombs many of us have sadly come to associate with pinot.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Simple Suppers: New Zealand Trout with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette!

As we're coming up on crunch time for our Thanksgiving binges (I'll be in the great city of Des Moines this year!),  I thought I'd share a quick, light, tempting little dish that I threw together for dinner the other week!  It's New Zealand Trout with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette!

I simply broiled the fish and then threw all the vinaigrette ingredients into my mini-prep food processor, and dinner was done in under thirty minutes.  I served my fish over quinoa, and a nutty, protein-packed whole grain that cooks up in fifteen minutes flat. I loved the vinaigrette so much, that I was eating it on my breakfast burritos for days afterward!

Note: if you don't have access to NZ Trout, Arctic Char or Salmon would both work beautifully with this recipe.   

New Zealand Trout with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
Serves 2 people

2 New Zealand Trout Fillets (may substitute Arctic Char or Salmon)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 serrano pepper
1 garlic clove
1 shallot
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro
salt & pepper


Set the oven to broil.

Meanwhile, rub the fish with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Quickly broil the fish until cooked to preference (I like salmon and this type of trout slightly medium rare) and then remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

To make the vinaigrette, using a blender or mini-food processor, blend together the remaining olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, pepper, shallot and garlic.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, place a piece of fish on a plate and top with the vinaigrette.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

New Zealand Trout from J&P West Coast Seafood (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic serrano peppers, organic garlic, organic shallot, organic cilantro and organic lime from the Hollywood Farmers Market

Music on Tap:

Them Crooked Vultures

Them Crooked Vultures, a/k/a DAVE GROHL (Foo Fighters, Nirvana), JOSHUA HOMME (Queens of the Stone Age) and JOHN PAUL JONES (Led Zeppelin), is the new supergroup!  They played a surprise show at the Roxy on Monday and a show at the Wiltern last night, to which the A-Girl offered me a ticket, but alas I'd already committed to hosting my book club and made an ungodly amount of turkey meatloaf.  But here's their brand-new, just released debut album!  So check it out - I know I just ordered mine!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wine of the Week: Quilceda Creek 2006 Columbia Valley Red Wine!

This week, I'm bringing you a very special Cabernet Sauvignon producer that I want you all to know about: Quilceda Creek!

I must confess that we don't drink that much Cabernet Sauvignon these days.  It's not that I don't love it, but the price point over the last several years has climbed higher and higher, meanwhile the local producers in our neck of the woods (Central Coast California) have begun turning out such a fabulous array of Pinot Noir and Rhone-style Syrah and Syrah blends that we've naturally moved in that direction. However, the West Coast cabernet we do drink doesn't typically come from Napa, but rather from Andrew Will (surely more on this winery down the road) and Quilceda Creek in Washington.

Dedicated to the production of the best Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery was founded in 1979 and has produced a string of such fantastic wines, that Robert Parker has called this the state's premier cabernet producer. Quilceda Creek's 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was rated the coveted perfect score of 100 points by Robert Parker (and luckily we have some in our cellar)!

Today, I'm writing about a bottle we drank last week of the Quilceda Creek 2006 Columbia Valley Red Wine, their lesser priced proprietary blend.  It's made up of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Malbec.  What an interesting combination of grapes!  We opted to decant the wine, and good choice since it took a good hour to open up, but once it did, we LOVED it!  The wine was medium bodied, with intense fruit, but also enough structure to balance it, and lots of the strong earthy flavors I love in my wines. Parker scored this wine 92 points.

The Winemaker's Notes:

The Quilceda Creek 2006 Red Wine Columbia Valley is a blend of declassified lots which reflect the richness and complexity of the vintage. This is one of our favorite Red Wine offerings to date. This medium bodied wine displays black cherry fruit, cedar, spice, vanilla and minerals. Approachable now, this blend will be best enjoyed over the next 15 years.


While their top wines have higher price points, this proprietary blend was only around $37 on release, a great deal as Robert Parker points out.  Unfortunately, they're sold out of everything actually!  As with many of the wines I write about, the best thing to do is get on their mailing list so you can have access to their limited supply of wines upon release at these fabulous prices.

I did find some bottles for sale from wine retailers, but at considerably higher prices.  Flickinger Wines has 17 bottles available for $65/bottle. 


Winery Information:

Quilceda Creek
P.O. Box 1562
Snohomish, WA 98291-1562
(360) 568-2389


Monday, November 16, 2009

Domestic Divas Tuesday Round-Up!

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the Pacific Pinot Noir tasting at Lou last night!  Wow, was it incredible, both the food and the wine.  I'll be sharing my thoughts and pictures with you later this week.  Tonight, I'm hosting my book club and in honor of Thanksgiving, I'll be making Ina Garten's recipe for Turkey Meatloaf - it's one of my favorite of her recipes out of the original Barefoot Contessa cookbook, a must own if you ask me (CLICK HERE).

So today, I'm starting a new series called Tuesday Round-Up!  Each week, I always stumble upon tons of great recipes, health news, restaurant deals and food articles, but I'm always running out of time to post on them all.  It just dawned on me that I should post them all in a "Round-Up" where you can choose which articles interest you and click on the links.  Time crunch problem solved!

Here's what got my attention this week, everything from an award-winning apple pie recipe, to an article on walnut oil salad dressing posted by the lovely Molly at Organic Spark, to sobering news about hunger in the U.S., to an incredible event going on at Sona which I'm sure to attend!
Sona Celebrates 7th Anniversary with a 7 Course Tasting Menu for $77 of their best dishes from over the years! 
Great Walnut Oil Salad Dressing Recipe from Organic Spark!
Hunger in U.S. at 14 Year High!
Vitamin D Shows Health Benefits in Study!

Meatless Monday: Black Bean & Bell Pepper Soup

Happy Monday Divas!

What a busy weekend, full of food and friends, and oh yeah, wine, of course!  I hosted a dinner party on Saturday night and planned a great menu!  I hit up Santa Monica Seafood and picked up 3 lbs each of manila clams and p.e.i. mussels (Prince Edward Island) and Whole Foods, where I found a mix of gorgeous organic heirloom potatoes for only $2.49/lb!  Then, I cooked the bivalves up mariniere style with a huge batch of my oven-roasted garlic pommes frites and served it all with crusty La Brea Bakery bread.


Kuzak also provided an amazing assortment of wines, including one of which I'll write up for Wine of the Week tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Today for Meatless Monday, I'm bringing you a quick soup that I whipped up for lunch one day last week!  I love black beans, both for their array of health benefits (CLICK HERE), but also for their deliciousness!  Because they're packed full of protein and fiber, they're a great choice to base a meatless meal around.  Pair this healthy soup with a great salad and you're all set for lunch or dinner!

Black Bean & Bell Pepper Soup
Serves 4 people

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chopped tomatoes
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper (more if you like spice!), seeded & chopped
2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper


In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and carrots and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add the garlic clove and saute for another minute.  Then, add the peppers and saute until soft, another 4-5 minutes.

Add the beans, tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Once the soup is cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Then, puree the soup either in a blender, working in batches, or with an immersion blender.  Return to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into the bowls and drizzle with good olive oil and garnish with cilantro.  Enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned:

Santa Monica Seafood
1000 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-5244

Other than Fish King in Glendale, this is the best seafood store in the greater Los Angeles area, offering a huge variety of fresh fish and seafood as well as a cafe.  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE!

La Brea Bakery
Original Bakery:
624 South La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 939-6813

Nancy Silverton's famed artisanal bakery, their breads can be found at retailers including Whole Foods!  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE!

Source for Ingredients:

organic black beans from Whole Foods

organic canned tomatoes and organic low sodium vegetable broth from Trader Joe's

organic onions, organic garlic, organic carrots, organic bell peppers, organic serrano peppers and organic cilantro from Hollywood Farmers Market

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pan-Roasted Halibut in Dashi Broth with Bok Choy and Baby Shitake Mushrooms!

I love to cook fish of all kinds, and I'm always looking for a fresh way to prepare it at home!  So for this recipe, I was inspired by Japanese cuisine and the halibut and baby shitake mushrooms I procured at the Hollywood Farmers Market.

I know the concept of making dashi broth may sound intimidating, but I promise you that it's actually really simple and works well with all seafood dishes!  It's also the perfect way to prepare fish for the fall. The broth just warms you up from the inside out. The other components of this dish were all prepared simply - I blanched the bok choy and sauteed the mushrooms - each preparation only take a few minutes. 

When it finally came time to sit down with Kuzak in my "bistro" and eat, we both loved this comforting dish.  It was refreshing, thanks to the ginger, and hearty at the same time, with both sweet and savory flavors, and even had some earthy umami flavor thanks to the wonderful baby mushrooms. I loved sipping the dashi broth from a spoon after I'd finished the fish, slurping it down to the last drop.  It was the perfect way to end a great meal!

Pan-Roasted Halibut in Dashi Broth with Bok Choy and Baby Shitake Mushrooms
Serves 2 people 

2 4 oz. halibut fillets
1 cup baby shitake mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 cups bok choy, blanched
1 tbsp sesame oil
salt & pepper

dashi broth:
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp red miso paste
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp sugar


To make the dashi broth, add the stock, tamari, ginger, mirin, miso and sugar to a pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer the stock for 20 minutes and season to taste with salt & pepper.  Keep warm.

To make the mushrooms, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and gently cook for a few minutes until tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To cook the fish, season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper.  Then, heat the grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the fish, cooking for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

To plate, place the bok choy in the bottom of a wide-bottomed bowl.  Place a piece of fish on the bok choy and top with the mushrooms.  Ladle the broth over the fish, drizzle with the sesame oil and top with some fresh cracked pepper.


Source for Ingredients:

halibut from J&P West Coast Seafood (Hollywood Farmers Market)

baby shitake mushrooms and ginger from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic bok choy, sesame oil, organic red miso paste, mirin, organic sugar & organic vegetable stock from Whole Foods

The Diva Returns to Animal to Get Her Hands Dirty!

Quail Fry, Grits, Chad, Slab Bacon, Maple Jus

If you read my blog regularly, then you know that Animal is one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles!  I had the honor of making a return visit this Wednesday, and wanted to share it with you.

The brainchild of James Beard Award nominees and Food & Wine Best New Chefs in America 2009 John Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Animal restaurant does its name proud by featuring hefty hunks of meat prepared with a surprising amount of love and finesse. This is no land for the vegan, nor the weak-willed among you! After Kuzak ordered the Balsamic Pork Ribs with Delicata Squash and Cippolini Onion Vinaigrette, our server complimented him on his bravery and wished him good luck.

Friday Fun (inpsired by The Adorable Monster)! Videos of Dogs Gretting Soldiers Returning Home!

Here's a little bit for Friday Fun for you divas in honor of The Adorable Monster, who is off at doggie daycare today, hopefully getting out all his monstrousness!

If you're fortunate enough to be the proud owner of a little furry monster like myself, then you're probably well aware of how excited your dog gets every time you come home.  One of my favorite activities is watching the Adorable Monster when he hears Kuzak's car pull up.  The tail begins to twitch, then it wags, then it goes full speed as he pounces on his nearest toy and leaps maniacally at the door.  The second Kuzak walks in, the Monster launches into his celebration dance/victory parade around the living room, prancing around, practically grinning his little head off!  It's the best part of his day.

And if you're really lucky, he'll even excitement pee on you!

So imagine how your dog would react if you'd just returned from a six month tour of duty overseas!  Well, you don't have to imagine because here's a great compilation of videos of dogs greeting soldier returning home!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fantastic North American Pinor Noir Dinner at Lou!

Lou, one of my favorite wine bars in Los Angeles, is hosting a fabulous North American Pinot Noir dinner on Monday night (November 16th at 7PM). The event is being hosted by pinor noir expert, John Haeger, and the cost is $75/person and includes a flight of six wine and food!  That's a great deal!

I've already made my reservation, and Kuzak and I will be there in style!  To make a reservation, call (323) 962-6369.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Local Amberjack with Pea Tendrils & Roasted Butternut Squash Mash!

Divas, hope you're all feeling fabulous today!

This morning, I'm bringing you a recipe for a great dinner I made on Monday night.  The inspiration were ingredients I bought at the Farmers Market on Sunday, including a lovely fillet of local amberjack, a few big handfuls of organic pea tendrils, a rare and delicate ingredient, and the butternut squash that's so plentiful right now.  Because my ingredients were so fresh, I handled them minimally, wanting to make a clean-tasting, flavorful dinner.  I simply broiled the yellowtail and finished it with a little lemon juice, sauteed the pea tendrils with garlic, and roasted and mashed the butternut squash.

Wow, it was so delicious, it had Kuzak all but licking his plate, wishing there was more butternut squash mash!  The pea tendrils also tasted tender and sweet, with a hint of the peas they produce, and the amberjack pulled the whole dish together with its bright, clean flavor and texture!

While I'm writing up the entire dish I prepared with all the components, the Roasted Butternut Squash Mash is a versatile dish that could be prepared to go with almost any type of fish or meat.  It's a fantastic holiday side dish, or puree it with a garlic clove and some vegetable stock for a tremendous soup!

Note: If you can't find fresh amberjack, almost any fish would work, including halibut, salmon or red snapper!  Also, spinach would be a delicious substitution for the often elusive pea tendrils.

Local Amberjack with Pea Tendrils & Roasted Butternut Squash Mash
Serves 2 people

2 amberjack fillets
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups pea tendrils, chopped with twisty parts removed
1 garlic clove, chopped
salt & pepper

butternut squash mash:
1 large or 2 smaller butternut squashes,  halved and seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To roast the butternut squash, rub the inside with the cardamom, thyme, chili flakes, olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the squash face down in an oven proof dish and poke holes in the tops.  Fill the pan with 1/2 inch of water.  Place in the oven and roast for 50 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Once it's cooked, remove from the squash from the oven and allow to cool.  Then, scoop out the flesh into a bowl, add the butter and mash it with a fork.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, rub the fillets with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Then either broil or grill the fish until just barely cooked through (about 5 minutes depending on thickness).  Remove from oven, sprinkle with the lemon juice and allow to rest for a few minutes.

Finally, make the pea tendrils, heat a pan over medium high heat.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and allow to warm.  Then, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the pea tendrils and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted (only a few minutes).  Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, place a good heaping of the butternut squash mash on a plate and top with the pea tendrils.  Place a piece of fish on top and enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

local amberjack from J&P West Coast Seafood (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic pea tendrils, organic butternut squash, organic garlic, organic lemon and organic thyme from the Hollywood Farmers Market

ground cardamom and organic butter from Whole Foods

chili flakes and organic olive oil from Trader Joe's

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wine of the Week: Anthill Farms 2007 Comptche Ridge Pinot Noir!

Divas, I have another very special treat for you today!  This installment of Wine of the Week is brought to you by a guest blogger who is very near and dear to my heart!

It's Kuzak,  my wine-loving, legal eagle boyfriend!

You see, the truth of the matter is that he's the real wine expert in the Domestic Divas household, and I'm simply riding his coattails.  Not only did he commission the building of our wine cellar, but he diligently combs through tracking boards and other resources, all in the name of finding great wine!  He has impeccable taste when it comes to all things, but in particular, fermented grape juice!  So without further ado, here's his article on one of his favorite California producers!


One of my favorite measures of a good wine is the speed at which it gets drunk. People tend to take more frequent sips of something they enjoy. Without noticing, we sipped this particular bottle dry. The wine could definitely be called somewhat "easy to drink." While "easy-to-drinkedness" is not always a flattering quality in wine (Welch's grape juice is easy to drink), in my experience it serves young northern California pinot noirs, which are often angular or overly acidic, quite well. The fresh, ocean-blown textures and flavors in this wine were tremendous. No cloying acidity and no noticeable alcohol (which was low, in the 13% range to begin with). It had an excellent mouth-feel and was a good example of the smooth, cool climate Northern California pinot style that I prefer. The wine kept improving the longer it was open and exposed to air, and was its best when we finished it (less than two hours in).

These 2007 Anthill Farms pinots are some of the most consistently good California pinots I know of, particularly in the price range. The only place I know to get it is shipped directly from the winery via their website. I recommend you try a bottle, particularly the Comptche, Demuth or Abbey Harris offerings.  Score?  970/1000.  

Anthill Farms is a small independent winery founded in 2004 by three partners in Northern California who, at the time of its founding, had relatively little wine making experience. Their wines quickly became a hit and were soon championed by California pinot lovers in the know. Obtaining the better bottlings from Anthill has become increasingly more difficult over the last two years, with allocations to mailing list members and availability shrinking. While there is some variance between the quality of the offerings from the different vineyards (Demuth, Comptche and Abbey Harris are all great), the sub-$40-ish prices are impossible to beat for the consistent quality.


For the quality, these pinot noirs are reasonably priced, with many costing under $40/bottle!  The best way to get deals is to sign up for their mailing list, as Kuzak mentions, and order directly from them upon the release.

Winery Information:

Anthill Farms Winery
4791 Dry Creek Rd. #3-4
Healdsburg, CA 95448


Eat My Blog! Charity Bake Sale!

Divas, I have a very exciting announcement this morning! Domestic Divas will be participating in the Eat My Blog Charity Bake Sale to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank!  I'll be donating some scrumptious baked goods for this very worthy cause, along with many other Los Angeles-area food bloggers. So what am I cooking up?  Well, right now I'm leaning toward making Bacon Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Sauce!  You heard me right:

Bacon + Chocolate + Charity = Irresistible Taste Explosion with no Guilt!

So mark your calendars!  The event will take place on Saturday, December 5th from 10 AM to 4 PM at Zeke’s Smokehouse in West Hollywood (7100 Santa Monica Boulevard), who has generously offered to host the event on their outdoor patio.  The event will feature over 600 different baked goods, and all proceeds will be donated to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank!

Special thanks to Cathy Danh, the author of Gastronomy Blog, for organizing this event! 


Here's the official press release: 


 Bloggers to donate 100% of sales to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank 

LOS ANGELES (November 4, 2009) - Angelenos with a penchant for gourmet sweets are invited to attend the first ever Eat My Blog bake sale on Saturday, December 5th. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Zeke’s Smokehouse in West Hollywood (7100 Santa Monica Boulevard) will generously host this event on their outdoor patio where Eat My Blog will feature over 600 baked goods including classic whoopie pies, pumpkin swirl brownies, handmade macarons, and black sesame cupcakes with matcha frosting. In addition, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® will be featuring a wide selection of pastries and fresh brewed coffee to help wash down all of those scrumptious sweet treats! All proceeds from this tasty event will be donated to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank and help raise a greater awareness for those looking to give back to the Los Angeles community.

"Eat My Blog is an opportunity for the blogging community to give back to those in need,” said Cathy Danh, author of Gastronomy Blog and founder of Eat My Blog. “If this event goes well, we plan to make it a biannual occurrence.”

“It’s a way to connect with our readers in an intimate and real way,” said Diana Hossfeld, author of Diana Takes a Bite and a member of the Eat My Blog organizing committee. “It’s Tastespotting come to life – for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. 

About the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank 
The Los Angeles Regional Foodbank is a nonprofit charitable organization that has been mobilizing resources to fight hunger in the community since 1973. The organization is at the heart of a charitable food distribution network that includes nearly 900 agency sites in Los Angeles County. For more information, visit 

About Zeke’s Smokehouse BBQ 
Zeke’s Smokehouse opened its doors in Montrose, CA in November 2002 and branched out to a second location in West Hollywood in June 2004. Zeke’s delivers the kind of authentic barbecue dishes one would find in Kansas City, Memphis, or Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information, visit

Monday, November 9, 2009

Meatless Monday: Organic Mixed Greens with Apples, Walnuts & Chevre (Goat Milk Cheese)!

Hope all you lovely Divas had fabulous weekends filled with fabulousness!

I know mine was!

It began with the Adorable Monster's first birthday.  For this blessed event, I whisked him off to the Laurel Canyon dog park where he had a blast, rolling around in the dirt, humping other smaller, unsuspecting dogs (ball surgery has not deterred him in the least) and generally acting like a maniac.  You gotta love him!

I also attended a fabulous workshop, hosted by my BDFF Kate, where I gave a talk on Domestic Divas and brought a batch of my freshly baked Apple-Walnut Corn Muffins (CLICK HERE for recipe) and hit up the Hollywood Farmers Market as always, stocking up on tons of goodies including grass-fed rack of lamb from Healthy Farmily Farms CSA, local yellowtail, organic pea tendrils, baby shitake mushrooms, organic mustard greens, organic blueberries, organic walnuts and much more!  I'll be cooking some amazing recipes and sharing them all, so stay tuned!

Today for Meatless Monday, I'm sharing one of my favorite winter salads.  As I explained at the workshop yesterday, making a hearty salad is one of the best ways for busy women who feel they don't have the time to cook dinner to still prepare themselves a healthy dinner.  There are endless variations on the salad, and they can be served as a side dish to a bigger meal or prepared in a bigger portion and eaten as an main course!

This salad makes use of the wonderful organic apples that are at the peak of their season right now!  Choose whatever variety floats your boat.  I toasted walnuts and threw them into the dish for a dose of healthy fats and protein, but almost any nut from hazelnuts to pecans to almonds would taste fabulous.  Finally, I crumbled in some award-winning chevre from one of my favorite local producers, Soledad Farms, and tossed it all with organic mixed greens and a balsamic vinaigrette.  For the dressing, I used Villa Manodori aged balsalmic vinegar (CLICK HERE to read my article about it) and Ruben's Mission local olive oil made from the first press of hand-picked estate-grown olives (CLICK HERE to read about it).

Note: For a fun twist on this salad, try substituting pomegranate seeds for the apple!  

Organic Mixed Greens with Apples, Walnut & Chevre (Goat Milk Cheese)
Serves 2 people

4 cups organic mixed greens
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1 apple, chopped
2 tbsp chevre (goat cheese)
1 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the walnuts in a pie dish in an even layer and toast in the oven for 4 minutes.  Remove, allow to cool and then chop.

To make the dressing, pour the balsamic vinegar into a bowl with the minced garlic.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the apples, walnuts and organic mixed greens into a salad bowl.  Crumble the goat cheese on top (note:  if you place the goat cheese in the freezer for a few minutes, it will make it easier to crumble).  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently until evenly distributed.  Top with some freshly ground black pepper and enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned:

Soledad Goats
6501 Backus Rd.
Mojave, CA 93501

Producers of award-winning goat cheese (literally the BEST fresh chevre I have ever tasted), they can be found selling their artisanal cheeses at the Hollywood Farmers Market on Sunday.  Stop by their booth for a free sample and I promise you won't be able to leave without bringing some home with you!

Source for Ingredients:

organic mixed greens from Kenter Canyon Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

chevre from Soledad Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic apples, organic walnuts, organic garlic & Ruben's Mission olive oil from the Hollywood Farmers Market

Music on Tap:

Sufjan Stevens - The BQE

One of the most unique, talented and fiercely independent musicians around today, I've been in love with Sufjan Steven's work since I first heard Michigan many years ago when Kuzak was still attenidng in college in that very state (Sufjan is also an alum).  While Seven Swans remains my favorite of his albums, this brand new one, a symphony-like opus commisioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, sounds like nothing you've ever heard before, and that's a great thing when it comes to Sufjan!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Happy Birthday to The Adorable Monster! He turns 1 year old today!

The crazy, lovable, sock-eating, dish towel-stealing, humps-no-more, Adorable Monster turns 1 year old today!  He got a host of toys for his birthday, including a brand new frisbee, and he's going to the dog park for his party!

My dog is spoiled, I admit it, but I just can't help myself.

Also, Happy Birtday to The Original Diva (my mom)!  Her birthday was yesterday!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cornish Hens with Plum-And-Leek Stuffing and Celery Root! The Diva Cooks The Four CourseMen's Recipe As Featured In Food & Wine Magazine!

No matter how great we think we are at what we do, there's always someone who's better! Alright, maybe if you're James Cameron and Avatar turns out to be as amaze-balls as I hope in my wildest nerd dreams, that's not the case, but for most of us mere mortals, this nugget of early morning wisdom applies!

I'm often reminded of this with respect to my cooking, when I dine at a great restaurant, or watch a talented chef's cooking show, or read a cookbook, or in this case, when I was perusing November's issue of Food & Wine Magazine.  I stumbled upon a feature on The Four Coursmen, a cleverly named group of amateur cooks who get together to prepare four course meals for lucky diners in Athens, Georgia, one of my favorite cities!  Even back in high school, when I would load upwards of six rubbermaid tubs packed full of research on China into a van that would courie me to policy debate tournaments at The University of Georgia, I loved being in Athens for two reason:

1) The food!  For a small-town girl, I was amazed by the variety - actual VEGAN restaurants?!  How shocking!  I even had a t-shirt from The Grit.

2) Michael Stipe once lived there.  Thus, it was possible I was breathing the same air molecules that once circulated through his lungs! Yes, I'll admit it, I used to be slightly REM obsessive, well, maybe more like a groupie.  I know Kuzak is probably reading thinking, "Used to be?  How about still are!"

So I wasn't surprised to read that Athens plays host to the Four Coursemen!  According to the article, for their dinners, there's no advance menu and they're donation-only.  You can make reservations on their website.  They even have a wine expert who arranges the wine pairings! 

I LOVE this idea!  I'm so jealous I didn't think of it!  And so sad at the same time that I'm not in Athens to attend one of the dinners!  I love the wonderfully, casual, impromptu nature of the events, the reverence for food and wine, the pure affection for the craft.  It reminds me a little bit of Beast, Naomi Pomeroy's restaurant where I had the best meal of the year (CLICK HERE to read about it!).  I can only hope that more places like these crop, as we move toward local, seasonal foods prepared simply, but deliciously. 

The closest I could come to actually dining with The Four Coursemen was making their food myself at my home!  Using a recipe culled from the article, I lovingly made their recipe for Cornish Hens with Plum-And-Leek Stuffing and Celery Root.

Mise En Place including Housemade Chicken Stock and Bread Crumbs (from Ezekiel Bread)

Wow, this dish was a total winner!  The stuffing was decadent, sweet and sour from the plums, rich from the pancetta, creamy from the leeks.  The Cornish Hens, procured from my favorite CSA, Healthy Family Farms, turned out perfectly tender and beautifully bronzed.

Oh, and the celery root, cooked under the hens, was a complete revelation, having absorbed so much flavor from the chicken, yet retaining their delicate sweetness.

I have to confess, I didn't read the wine pairing note because I already knew what wine I wanted to drink, Tablas Creek 2007 Espirit De Beaucastel (95-97 points Robert Parker and under $40 a bottle).  This wine was fantastic and held up beautifully to the food, and when I finally revisited the recipe, I saw that they had recommended pairing a Rhone blend with the dish, though while they went French, I went Central Coast.  Great minds think alike!

After Kuzak and I finsihed our meal, I realized that I was even more jealous than before!  Not only did they have great ideas, but their food tasted fabulous!  Based on this recipe, I can testify to the fact that these guys are the real deal.  If you happen to be fortunate enough to find yourself in Athens one of these days, I'd recommend checking out The Four Coursemen!

For the recipe for Cornish Hens with Plum-And-Leek Stuffing and Celery Root as published in Food & Wine Magazine, CLICK HERE!

Businesses Mentioned:

The Four Coursemen
Athens, Georgia

A group of six, they host four course dinners for lucky diners!  CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEIR WEBSITE AND MAKE RESERVATIONS!

Healthy Family Farms, CSA
6780 Wheeler Canyon Rd.
Santa Paula, CA 93060

This CSA is my go to place for eggs, chicken, cornish game hens, milk-fed pork, ducks, lamb and beef!  They can be found at Farmers Markets, including the Hollywood Farmers Market where I can be found every Sunday. Their animals are all natural, grass-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones. If you email them (email above), you can get on a list to receive what they have available each week, allowing you to pre-order and reserve your product (they often sell out of the higher demand items like the pork and lamb).  Also, for fifty bucks annually, you can become a member and receive discounts on all their products, as well as access to members-only items like fresh goat milk, fresh cow milk, fresh butter and goat's milk ice cream!  If you cook as much as I do, this is a great deal!  

This Sunday, I'm picking up lamb loin and bone-in chicken breast, which I can't wait to cook this week!

Source for Ingredients:

cornish game hens from Healthy Family Farms, CSA (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic celery root, organic thyme and leeks from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic plums and Ezekial bread (I made my own breadcrumbs) from Trader Joe's

La Quercia pancetta and organic flat-leaf parsley from Whole Foods

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Is Where I'll Be Tonight! Great FREE Event at the Santa Monica Public Library!

Diva Alert!  

I wanted to let all you divas know about a FREE event at the Santa Monica Public Library tonight on Farmers Markets!  This talk promises to concern issues about which I'm passionate, and is being hosted by Even Kleiman from KCRW's Good Food and the fantastic Chef Ben Ford is a panelist!

I'll be checking out the event with two of my BDFF's!  So if you're in the neighborhood and have the time, check it out!  How can you say no to FREE?

Here's the event information:

hur., November 5, 7:00 pm, MLK Jr. Auditorium
The Nose to Tail movement is the latest in sustainability, flavor, and community.  Join us to discuss how Farmers Market farmers, customers, and chefs are working together to revitalize traditional farming and cooking practices by growing, and eating, everything on the farm. Panelists: Greg Nauta from Rocky Canyon Farms, Phil McGrath from McGrath Family Farm, chef Ben Ford from Ford’s Filling Station, and moderator Evan Kleiman from KCRW’s Good Food.

100 Things Restaurant Servers Should Never Do!

We've all read a lot of lists I'm sure, but this new one intrigued me!  It offers one restaurant owner's perspective on the nuances of perfect service.  I know that we've all experienced both good and bad service at a restaurant, but have we ever really thought about what the entails, aside from those with experience working in the service industry?  Give it a read and let me know what you think!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Simple Suppers: White Bean & Turkey Chili!

If you're reading this, that means you've made it halfway through the week!  Way to go!  I don't know what you have on tap today, but the Adorable Monster is getting a much-needed trip to the groomers.  Due to his ball choppage, it's been longer than usual since he's had a bath, and let's just say that it's TIME!  Though his hair has grown out and he's looking pretty frickin' adorable lately.

Every time he steals and sock and I go to yell at him, I end up laughing at his cuteness instead.  I just can't keep a straight face!

Hence, he's fast becoming the worst behaved dog in Los Angeles!

One of my favorite dishes to make this time of year has got to be White Bean and Turkey Chili!  It's a comforting, delicious, spicy, hearty food that makes your mouth water and warms your bones, but without all the guilt sometimes associated with comfort foods.  This recipe is high in protein (beans and turkey), low in fat and packed with vegetables! Try it out for a simple supper, or make a big batch on Sunday night and eat it all week for dinner!  It almost tastes better leftover.  I love it by itself, or paired with a mixed greens salad for extra health points, or even served over a plain baked potato.

For a fun dinner party idea, do a help yourself chili bar!  Simply whip up a big batch of chili and provide a number of great garnishes for your guests, including cilantro, chopped red onions, chopped peppers, avocado, aged cheddar cheese, or whatever your heart can dream up!  I promise, it will be a major hit!

Note: For my chili, I used dried Bob's Red Mill Cannellini Beans because of their superior taste (compared to canned beans), however this is more work intensive.  They need to be soaked over night and then simmered in water, before being added to the chili.  So for those of you who are feeling adventurous, you're welcome to give this a try!  I purchased my dried beans at Whole Foods and they can be cooked per the package instructions!  However, for the sake of busy divas everywhere, I'm writing the recipe with canned beans!

White Bean & Turkey Chili
Serves 4-6 people

1/2 lb low fat ground turkey 
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

optional: 2 cups brown rice or quinoa, cooked


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Then, add the bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and saute until softened, about another 5 minutes.

Next, add the ground turkey, breaking it up as you combine it, and continuing cooking until well-done, about another 6 minutes. Once the turkey is cooked, add the chili powder and cumin, stirring it into the meat mixture, and cook for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and half of the cilantro, and bring the chili to a simmer.  Cover partially and simmer over medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the chili has reduced slightly and begun to thicken.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, place some brown rice or quinoa in a bowl and top with a generous helping of chili. Garnish with some of the remaining cilantro!  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic onion, organic bell pepper, organic garlic and organic jalapeno from Sage Mountain Farm (at the Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic ground turkey, Bob's Red Mill cannellini beans, organic chili powder, organic cumin, organic canned diced tomatoes, organic low sodium chicken broth and organic bay leaves from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Chris Thile & Mike Marshall - Into the Cauldron

For all you bluegrass fans and newcomers, Chris Thile is a name you have to know!  He's one of the founding members of Nickelcreek and one of the best mandolin players in the world! I've had the pleasure of seeing him perform a number of times, and he never ceases to blow me away with his musicianship.  This collaboration is a great album that showcases the range of the mandolin on songs that range from jazz to bluegrass to quasi-classical!  I listened to it last night while I cooked up a snazzy dinner - it was truly inspirational!


Pantry Update! Villa Manodori Organic Balsamic Vinegar!

I just ordered a bottle of the Villa Manodori Organic Balsamic Vinegar for my cupboard!  Alas, I used the last drops the other week, and well, frankly, the other stuff I scooped up at the store just isn't holding up.  I've been spoiled!  I'm a huge fan of this aged balsamic and can't go without it in my cupboard.

In fact, I consider balsamic vinegar to be a pantry staple.  It's great for throwing together quick salad dressings and seasoning food.  Just last night I made a fabulous recipe for Roasted Beets that I seasoned with the vinegar (I promise to share the recipe soon!).  It also makes a great holiday gift! 


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wine of the Week: Rivers Marie 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir!

The brainchild of Thomas Rivers Brown and Genevieve Marie Wels, who met while working at Turley in 1999, Rivers Marie makes small production, single vineyard pinot noir in the Sonoma Coast region of California.  How small you ask?  Well, on the high end, they may produce as many at 225 cases, or as few as 84 cases, which is very small!  Another bonus?  Robert Parker doesn't even review their wines, which means they're still under the radar! However, if you ask the wine experts at Domestic Divas, their Burgundian-style pinot noirs rank among the best produced in California.

The 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, one of their most affordable bottlings, was drinking beautifully when we popped it the other night.  With a bright nose, great clarity of taste, and nice balance, this wine showcased both great fruit (strawberry & rhubarb) and finesse from the winemakers.  It's young, but drinking awesome right now!

In addition to their pinot noirs, for which they are best known, they also produce great cabernet sauvignon!  In fact, I first fell in love with this winery due to a 2004 bottle of their cab!

So check out their site, sign up for their mailing list for the best deals and taste these wines!  They won't stay under the radar forever!


The Rives Marie 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir can be found for around $39.95 from select stores or auction sites.


Winery Information:

Rivers Marie
Calistoga, CA 94515

Monday, November 2, 2009

Meatless Monday: Black Bean, Brown Rice & Organic Vegetable Hash!

Happy Monday, and with an extra hour of sleep, everyone should be starting their week a little more well-rested than normal!  Unless you're Kuzak who's in trial, and well, then all bets are off, or The Adorable Monster, who sleeps away most of the day anyway, so you're always well-rested.

Here's another Meatless Monday's recipe for your cooking pleasure!  This is a dish I whip up all the time, using a variety of organic vegetables I pick up at the Farmers Market.  I'll write up the combination of vegetables I used in this recipe, but feel free to get creative and use your own mixture.  I cook them down in my favorite cast iron skillet and then add in black beans and rice, which gives the dish a whole grain component, fiber and a complete protein!  This is a one pot, one-stop shopping kind of meal!

A neat trick?  This is a fabulous way to make use of leftover rice!  I usually make rice for another meal, for example to go with a fish entree, and then use the leftover to make a hash the next day. Also, try topping this hash off with an organic poached egg for breakfast - it's heavenly!

Black Bean, Brown Rice & Organic Vegetable Hash
Serves 3-4 people 

1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 Japanese eggplants or other smaller eggplant, diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 zucchini or other squash, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt & pepper


In a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Next, add the onion and saute until beginning to caremalize, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for one more minute.  Then, add the eggplant, the peppers and the squash, and saute until cooked.

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the rice and beans and stir into the vegetables.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 more minutes.  Squeeze with the lime juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic onion, organic garlic, organic Japanese eggplant, organic squash, organic bell pepper & organic serrano peppers from Sage Mountain Farm (at the Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic brown rice and organic black beans from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Buddy Guy - Stone Crazy 

This weekend, I went on a Buddy Guy rampage, and this is one of my favorite live recordings from this Chicago blues legend!