Friday, January 29, 2010

Simple Suppers: Blackened Tilapia with Soft Polenta

Happy Friday Divas!

Here's the deal.  We should all eat more fish.

Not only more fish, but fish that's sustainable, low in mercury, in this economy, affordable, and oh yeah, tasty, too.


Is anyone else overwhelmed by all the requirements?  Making good dietary choices can be like navigating through a minefield without losing a limb (did you see the ads and read about the new Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet?!). One of the most readily available fish in the supermarket is farm-raised Tilapia.  It's tasty, easy to cook up and inexpensive.  But does it meet the above guidelines?

I've done the research, and while there are some asterisks that I'll discuss, the answer is yesSeafood Watch rates farm-raised tilapia a "best" choice when it's raised in the United States.  It's high in protein and an excellent source of phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12, and a good source of potassium.  It's also exceptionally budget-friendly, which is important.

However, unlike the touted salmon, farm-raised tilapia is not a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.  But this isn't the poor little tilapia's fault - rather it's caused by the corn-based food most farm-raised fish are fed (this is the same reason why our meat supply is so unhealthy).  You are what you eat, and this holds true for fish as much as people.  Wild fish eat a diet rich in algae, which is the reason they contain so many omega-3's, which then trickle up the food chain to us (by the way, the same holds true for grass-fed meat).  So this could be corrected by reforming our farming practices to feed the fish a diet rich in omega-3's.  It's that simple. 

But when you consider all the choices out there and shake it out, I believe that tilapia can be part of a healthy, varied diet.  Just make sure you scoop up a handful of walnuts to get your daily dose of omega-3's from another source.

Here's a fast recipe that I whip up from time to time.  While I made it with tilapia, it would be great with catfish or snapper, too.  I serve the blackened fish over a quick soft polenta.  Just pair this meal with a veggie and you're all set (I recommend my Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan Reggiano).

Also, don't forget to click click click away on my blog Domestic Divas!  In conjunction with Blog Away Hunger, I'm donating 100% of my January ad revenue to the World Food Program's disaster relief efforts in Haiti.  So browse through my archives - the more you view, the more money gets donated.

Blackened Tilapia with Soft Polenta
Serves 2 people
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

2 tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup polenta (or grits), cooked per package instructions
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
salt and pepper

To make the soft polenta, cook the polenta per package instructions (should cook quickly - about 10-15 minutes).  Stir in the fresh thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the tilapia, thoroughly coat both sides of each fillet with the Cajun seasoning.  Heat the grapeseed oil or canola oil in a saute pan over high heat until almost smoking.  Add the tilapia and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for one to two minutes, and then flip.  Continue cooking until cooked through (only a few minutes depending on thickness).  Remove from heat.

To plate, spoon some soft polenta onto a plate.  Top with a piece of fish and finish with fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
farm-raised tilapia, Cajun seasoning, organic thyme and polenta from Whole Foods

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle, The Adorable Monster Sleeps Tonight

It's been awhile since I've brought you new pictures of The Adorable Monster in all his glory.  Now a yearling (and trapped in the house until the dog park dries out), he spends his days lounging on the back of the sofa like some kind of jungle cat or monkey (not sure which) and his nights waiting for Kuzak to come home to play with him.  What do you think?  Monkey?  Lion?  Monster?

Here he is on his favorite perch, so lazy that he's barely even able to raise his head when I stick a camera in his face. It's true, I have a lazy dog.  Except for the whole wakes us up at the crack of dawn only to sleep the rest of the day thing.

We're still working on that...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roasted Baby Carrots

It's all about the vegetables today.

Those critical, often less flashy components of our diets, defined by Wikipedia (my bible) as "an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed."  If you've noticed these last few weeks, I've been writing up a lot of my very best vegetable recipes for your viewing and eating pleasure (scroll to the bottom of article for a list of recent vegetable recipes).  No, I'm not being paid off by the veggie lobby - in fact, I'm not even sure one exists.  Though we'd better off if it did, given that right now we have the Big Food lobby.

Rather vegetables are often neglected, often prepared poorly, or worse often forgotten all together.  But I believe these treasures should be celebrated.  Of course, a beautiful piece of milk-fed Heritage pork makes my heart go pitter-pat, but preparing meat and starches is more an exercise in replicating the proper technique.  I tend to treat proteins as if they were the side dish, and the vegetables the main course.

You see, in my cooking, the real creativity comes when I approach the vegetable and fruit components in my food.  They're the colors that shade my painting, the flavors that deepen my palate, and if you've ever seen me at a farmers market, then you know I go crazy for kale, loopy for leeks and batty for baby beets.

So in the service of our health (and in turn, our waistlines), I have vowed to arm you, my lovely divas, with an arsenal of fabulous vegetable recipes.  Today, I'm sharing a great way to prepare baby carrots.  These puppies are loaded with health benefits (rich in beta carotene, antioxidants, dietary fiber and minerals).  They're also available literally year round and inexpensive to procure.

For this recipe, I used organic heirloom varieties of baby carrots (yes, they come in a fabulous array of colors from blonde to orange to deep purple).  Heirloom connotes vegetables that were farmed during early human history, but were not adapted to large scale agriculture.  They're often higher in nutrients than the regular carrots that populate supermarkets.  I bought them at my farmers market with the greens still attached, so I had to trim them down.

At most grocery stores, baby carrots can be purchased already peeled and cleaned in neat, little bags, and those may be used in this recipe, too.  Just toss them into the roasting pan whole. Finally, you may use adult carrots, too.  They just may need a little longer cooking time.  Note that for this recipe, the carrots need not be peeled as their skins are tender.  Why discard a nice part of the veggie and create more work for yourself at the same time? 

Roasted Baby Carrots make a fabulous side dish to almost any meal or puree them with one garlic clove and vegetable stock to make a fabulous Roasted Carrot Soup.  Season with salt and pepper, heat over the stove top for ten minutes, drizzle with olive or walnut oil and serve.  This is also a great way to make use of leftover roasted carrots the next day.

Also, don't forget to click click click away on my blog Domestic Divas!  In conjunction with Blog Away Hunger, I'm donating 100% of my January ad revenue to the World Food Program's disaster relief efforts in Haiti.  So browse through my archives - the more you view, the more money gets donated.

Recent Vegetable Recipes
Baby Beets with Balsamic and Thyme
Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan Reggiano
Delicata Squash with Basil, Pepitos & Goat Cheese
Kale with Currants and Pine Nuts

Roasted Baby Carrots
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 20 minutes

3 cups baby carrots (about 1 bag)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If not already cleaned and bag, remove the carrot tops.  Cut them diagonally into about 1 inch slices. The goal is that all the baby carrots should be of similar size for even roasting.  If already cleaned and bagged, simply use them whole.  Note to keep the slices large as the carrots will shrink while cooking.

Place the carrots in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Once tender, remove them from the oven.  Correct seasoning (salt and pepper) if needed.  Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
organic heirloom baby carrots from Sage Mountain Farm (Hollywood Farmers Market)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Flicks And Food Column On GeekWeek: IT'S COMPLICATED Apple Walnut Muffins!

Check out my new Flicks and Food with the Domestic Diva Column on GeekWeek entitled, IT'S COMPLICATED Apple Walnut Muffins.  The article turned out great, and it's also a fabulous recipe! So check it out!

Click here for the direct link to IT'S COMPLICATED Apple Walnut Muffins!

Also, don't forget to click click click away on my blog Domestic Divas!  In conjunction with Blog Away Hunger, I'm donating 100% of my January ad revenue to the World Food Program's disaster relief efforts in Haiti.  So browse through my archives - the more you view, the more money gets donated.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Meatless Monday: Risotto With Walnuts And Winter Greens (Plus Music On Tap Featuring Camera Obscura)

It's all about risotto.

It's the first serious dish I learned to cook from Jaime Oliver in fact, right after I'd moved to Los Angeles.  When I was younger, I acquired a taste for it after my mother, The Original Diva, returned from a trip to Italy with a recipe for beet risotto in tow.  Obviously, it had a big impact on us kids, as risotto is one of my favorite dishes to make and a specialty in my Top Chef brother's restaurant (they do risotto fresh on the half hour).  And actually, it's at his urging that I've been blogging more risottos for Meatless Monday.

The great thing about this creamy rice dish is that it's one of the most versatile things you could possibly learn to cook, and once you have a basic recipe down pat, the variations are literally endless.  If you ask me, it's a must have in every divas repertoire!

This special meatless risotto utilizes a vegetable that's currently peaking in season: winter greens!  Right now, winter greens are all over the markets from kale to collard greens to rainbow chard, which is what I used in this recipe.  But any variety will work!  Then to add some protein and nuttiness to this recipe, I finished the risotto by whipping in roasted walnuts, parmesan reggiano and roasted walnut oil (instead of butter as is used in most restaurants).

Umm... delicious doesn't begin to describe it!  The nuttiness of the walnuts pairs superbly with the other flavors in the dish, making this a hearty, rich, but also nutrient dense meal (both winter greens and walnuts are considered superfoods with a stunning array of health benefits).

So try this risotto!  You won't miss the meat.  I promise.

Also, don't forget to click click click away on my blog!  In conjunction with Blog Away Hunger, I'm donating 100% of my January ad revenue to the World Food Program's disaster relief efforts in Haiti.  So browse through my archives - the more you view, the more money gets donated.

Risotto with Walnuts and Winter Greens
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 40 minutes

1 bunch rainbow chard or other winter green such as kale (about 4 cups), chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 shallot, chopped or half small Spanish onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan reggiano, grated
2 tablespoons walnut oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To cook the walnuts, arrange them in a single layer in a pie pan or other oven proof dish.  Toast them in the oven until golden, about 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Then, chop them.

To make the risotto, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the shallots or onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one more minute. Then add the rice and stir for another two minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir until absorbed. Once the wine has been absorbed, slowly add the vegetable stock 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more stock.

Once the rice is almost cooked (you've used about 1/2 to 3/4 of the stock), stir in the chopped greens.  Continue adding stock and cooking until the rice is al dente and the greens are tender (note: you may not use all of the stock).  Finish the risotto by stirring in the walnuts, parmesan and walnut oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, either serve family style or spoon some risotto into the center of a plate.  Top with a little fresh chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

Source for ingredients
organic rainbow chard, organic shallots, organic garlic, walnuts and walnut oil from the Hollywood Farmers Market

arborio rice, organic olive oil, parmesan reggiano and organic vegetable broth from Whole Foods 

Music On Tap
Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career

My current favorite album which I'm blaring on heavy rotation while I cook, this Scottish band brings fellow Scots Belle & Sebastian to mind as well as indie favorites The Smiths.  I simply LOVE it.

Click here to check out Camera Obscura!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Read My Blog - Support Haiti!

I have an exciting announcement to make!

Inspired by Cathy of Gastronomy who also organized Eat My Blog, I've joined my fellow food bloggers in Blog Away Hunger by donating all of my January ad revenue toward the World Food Program's Haiti disaster relief efforts.  Blog Away Hunger is the brainchild of Marc Matsumoto of No Recipes  and was founded to raise awareness for the World Food Program. 

"The World Food Program is a global aid organization dedicated to end world hunger; providing food to those who need it most, while building long term solutions that enable people to provide for themselves. Last year they helped 102 million people in 78 countries with 3.9 million tons of food. They are the only U.N. agency that does not receive regular allocations from the U.N. budget and so they need help from everyone to continue their work."

So to aid me in this cause, click click click away on my pages!  Now is a great time to browse through my recipe archives.  This will drive up my revenue!  Also, if you wish to donate directly, here's a link.  Be sure you select “Haiti Disaster” under Donor Designations.

Click here to donate directly to the World Food Program!

Together we can make the world a better place, one meal at a time.

Here's a list of other participating bloggers!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Divalicious Restaurant Reviews: This Week Don't Forget to Go To Church (+ State Bistro)!

Church + State's Tarte Flambee

There's nothing like a lunch with your two best girlfriends to put a smile on your face for the rest of the week.

Yesterday, we had a threesome divas lunch at downtown Los Angeles bistro, Church + State.  Thanks to Blackboard Eats, I showed up with a 30% off coupon in hand, which only sweetened the deal.  I'd been hearing quite a lot about this little bistro with its old warehouse-like building on an alley-like street aptly named Industrial Street and its quintessentially French menu and wine list.  For you non-natives or non-foodies, downtown Los Angeles is currently undergoing a culinary renaissance, and I've vowed to start trekking down more often.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kale With Currants And Pine Nuts (Also Music On Tap Featuring The National)


This one little four-letter word has the power to strike fear into the heart's of even adventurous veggie eaters.  Of all the cooking related questions I get asked, "How do I cook kale?" has to be in the top five.  Maybe even the top two.  It's fear-induction may be related to its bitterness and toughness, or maybe to the fact that few people liked it as kids, or that the Southern preparation involves cooking the hell out of it with bacon, thus transforming this vegetable into a heart attack on a plate.

That said, it's also one of my very favorite single ingredients to cook, especially deep in the heart of winter.  Alright, I live in LA, so the heart of winter most likely only involves a paltry amount of rainfall, but you get the point.  It's a hearty winter green, after all.  I love serving kale as a side dish, or adding to pastas, or serving it under fish and meat.  It's great raw in salads, too.  It cooks up quickly and has unsurpassed health benefits.  Rarely a week goes by that I don't have kale in my fridge. 

So it should come as no surprise that when my monthly book club rolled around last week and I perused my fridge for what to bring, my eyes fell on a big bag of organic baby kale I'd bought at the Hollywood Farmers Market earlier that week.

"Hmm... I wonder if people will eat kale," I pondered to myself.

I pictured the book club girls eying it nervously, before gingerly placing a single leaf on their plates.  Even worse, I wondered if it might actually be considered insulting to show up to my friend's house with a big bowl of cooked leaves, when everyone else was toting bottles of wine and big bags of cookies. I even worried that I'd be thought of as the weird kale girl from then on.

I took a deep breath to shore up my nerves, grabbed the bag of kale from my fridge and vowed to make a batch of the stuff so delectable, so mouthwateringly amazeballs (without cheating by adding bacon or guanciale), that even the most greens-a-phobic eater would discover their deep-rooted love for kale. As I've often stated, I believe that a lot of people's food aversions (not allergies) exist because they've never had the product prepared properly.  And kale is one of those things that can go really wrong, or really right.

So what happened at my book club?

It went really right!  To prepare the kale, I'd sauteed it first with garlic and chili flakes, and then finished it with lemon juice.  For crunch and richness, I added toasted pine nuts, and for little bursts of sweetness, currants.  I'd theorized that the texture and slightly bitter, caramelized flavor of the sauteed kale would contrast beautifully with the currants.  Yup, it did. 

And then something happened that night that had never happened in the history of kale.  People were fighting over the last leaves left in the bowl!  I even forked some of my portion to another kale-hungry girl (I'd taken a lot, but only because I figured I'd be the only one chowing down).  One of my book club girls who is self-admittedly not a veggie fan even got seconds!  It was like the whole world had turned upside down.  Kale was suddenly the star of the evening, like the ugly duckling who turned into a swan.

By the end of the night, my heart felt all warm and fuzzy.  You see, it's easy to make macaroni and cheese, or steak, or anything cooked in butter taste delicious.  What's really challenging is working with a difficult product and transforming it into a dish people love.  I figure that's why the French prize their offal (organ meats) so highly!

Not that I'll be serving calf brains at my next book club, though I do have this fabulous Mario Batali recipe...

A few additional notes on kale:

I can't finish this column without extolling on its health benefits, so here it goes. Kale contains powerful antioxidants, and thus has anti-inflammatory properties.  It's also a rich source of beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin, lutein, zeaxanthin and calcium, which is especially important for women. Kale, like broccoli and other members of the brassica family, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer abilities, which is strongest when the leaves are eaten raw.

When cooking kale, or anything for that matter, make sure to season it properly!  Just properly salting and peppering a dish can take it from lackluster to revelatory.  Taste everything before you serve, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Kale with Currants and Pine Nuts
Serves 6 people
Cooking time: 10 minutes

1 big bunch of kale (about 6 cups raw), washed and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 heaping tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and salted
2 heaping tablespoons currants
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and chili flakes and saute for one minute.

Add the kale and reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for about three more minutes.  Next, add the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water and continue cooking until the kale is tender, but not overcooked (about five minutes).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, remove the kale to a serving bowl.  Top with the currants and pine nuts.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
organic baby kale, organic lemons and organic garlic from the Hollywood Farmers Market

currants and pine nuts from Whole Foods

Music on Tap

The National - Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers

An indie-rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio, this is the album that first put them on the map.  It was released back in 2003, but I just picked up a copy this week and absolutely love it! I also adore 20005's Alligator and 2007's The Boxer, which many music publications picked as one of the best albums of the year.

Click here to check out this album!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Flicks And Food Column On GeekWeek: AVATAR Grass-Fed Lamb With Honey Balsamic Reduction!

Happy Tuesday!

Check out my new Flicks and Food Column that's up on GeekWeek, where I write up recipes inspired by my favorite films.

As a congrats to James Cameron's domination at the Golden Globes over the weekend, this week's column features AVATAR Grass-Fed Lamb with Honey Balsamic Reduction.  Not only is there a fun essay and yummy recipe, and I'm even including a wine pairing to boot.

So tell me, how can you resist?  That's what I thought!

Click here for the direct link to this week's AVATAR column!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meatless Monday: Whole Grain Pasta With Vegetables And Herbed Goat Cheese

It's Monday, but for most of us in the United States, today is a holiday.

A day for us to stay home from work and reflect upon the progress that we've made since one man said he had a dream.  We've come a long way; we still have a long way to go.  So in the service of going the distance, I'm bringing you another meatless recipe.  If we all ate less meat by cutting it out one day a week, it would make a huge impact on both our health and our carbon footprint.  Remember, small steps do add up over time to a marathon.  So give it a try!

As you know, I love to mix it up, so today I'm writing up one of my favorite quick pasta recipes to throw together.  I start with whole grain spaghetti (I love the Vita Spelt variety).  Then, I stick my nose in the fridge and pull out the best organic vegetables I bought at the farmers market.  I saute them all together, throw in some sundried tomatoes for a nice tart kick, and then toss them with the pasta and fresh garlic and herb chevre (soft goat cheese).

The goat cheese melts into the veggies and pasta, making for a surprisingly light, fabulously tangy dinner.  This one is quick to make, easy to throw together, and an inexpensive way to feed an army. 

A few recipe tips:

1) Goat's milk is closer in its makeup to human milk, and thus easier to digest.  Many people who suffer from dairy intolerances, do well with goat cheese.  For my goat cheese, I have a kick-ass supplier at the farmers market called Soldad Farms.  They make literally the best fresh goat cheese I have ever tasted.

2) I'm a firm believer in seasonality, so in the winter when tomatoes are out of season and not tasting their best, I love using sundried tomatoes.  I always keep jars in my pantry, and toss them into everything from pasta, to risotto, to salads to my famous homemade hummus (a revelation!).  They pack a huge flavor punch that will up to shame those tasteless, washed-up quasi-tomatoes you see at the store.

3) A further note on seasonality, when I made this pasta, I was fortunate to have some winter corn come into stock (reminding me why I love living in California), but feel free to substitute whatever fresh vegetables you have for this recipe.  It's only a template, a mere blueprint, like all my recipes!  Let your imagination carry you.

Whole Grain Pasta with Vegetables and Herbed Goat Cheese
Serves 6 people
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1 pound whole grain spaghetti, cooked al dente
2 bell peppers, julienned (cut into thin strips)
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (can substitute frozen or another fresh veggie)
2 cups baby arugula
1 bunch spring onion, white parts chopped or 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons herbed chevre (soft goat cheese)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat a pot of water to boiling and cook the pasta per the package instructions. Once cooked, drain the noodles, reserving a little bit of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the spring onion or shallots and saute until softened and translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Next, add the bell pepper and corn and cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften.  Last, toss in the sundried tomatoes and arugula and cook for another minute, or until the arugula has started to wilt.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked pasta and goat cheese to the vegetables, and toss to combine.  Add a little reserved cooking liquid as needed to make creamy.  Check seasoning and correct if needed (salt and pepper).  Top with chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
garlic and herb goat cheese from Soledad Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic bell peppers, organic baby arugula, organic cilantro and organic spring onion from Hollywood Farmers Market

corn, organic olive oil and organic whole grain spelt spaghetti from Whole Foods

sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil from Trader Joe's

Meatless Monday Published My Recipe and Pictures for Bruleed Squash with Pepitos!

This Monday, stop by Meatless Monday to see my photograph featured on their main page, as well as my recipe and photo featured as this week's dinner suggestion.  This is one of my favorite recipes I've put together recently, and if you try it, I'm sure you'll agree!

Also, while you're there, take a second to rate my recipe.  It only takes one click!

Click here for Meatless Monday's main page!

Click here for the direct link to my recipe, Bruleed Squash with Pepitos!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan Reggiano

Ever since President Bush, the first one, declared war on broccoli in the 90's, and children all across American rebelled, broccoli has gotten a bad rap.

In fact, I've found that the mere mention of broccoli divides people into two rival camps, just like say abortion, or gay mariage, or the current Team Conan v. Team Jay debacle.  People either profess undying love for the green vegetable, smugly relishing their healthiness, or express loathing hatred for florets.  How dare that odoriferous plant venture within a foot of my dinner plate?!

Well, my little divas, today marks a momentous day, a day when we will throw down our forks and knives in surrender, and finally broker peace between the broccoli-haters and the broccoli-lovers.  The reason?  I've created an irresistible recipe that will turn even the most avid broccoli hater into a lover.

You see, it's my personal theory that, legitimate food allergies aside, when people declare they despise a particular food, they just haven't had it prepared correctly.  I completely understand why someone would loath limp, steamed, unseasoned broccoli lurking on their plate, or boiled with bacon, heart-attack inducing, barely has a right to call itself a vegetable anymore broccoli crashing their dinner party. But what if you could have gently tossed with olive oil and garlic, lovingly roasted until its caramelized sweetness reveals itself, then tossed with lemon juice and nutty parmesan reggiano broccoli?  Now, that's what I call a broccoli revelation!

Why all the fuss about broccoli?  

Not only is it one of the easiest vegetables to find year round in your grocery stores, its health benefits seem to be never-ending.  It's high in Vitamin C (aids iron absorption, boosts immune function), folic acid (helps women support normal tissue growth), potassium (lowers blood pressure), calcium (combats osteoporosis), fiber (good for GI tract) and contains indole-3-carbinol (a compound believed to prevent hormone-related cancers).

So if you're unsure about broccoli, give it a second chance, or if you already have amor for the green stuff, get ready to fall in love all over again!

Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan Reggiano
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

2-3 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of chili flakes
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons parmesan reggiano, grated (with mircroplane if possible)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the broccoli with the chili flakes, olive oil, garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place it in a roasting pan in an even layer.

Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until caramelized and tender (parts of the broccoli will be browned).  Remove from the oven.

Place the broccoli in a serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice and parmesan reggiano.  Taste and correct seasoning (salt and pepper) as needed.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
organic broccoli, organic elephant garlic, organic lemon, organic olive oil and parmesan reggiano from Whole Foods

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wine of the Week: Carlisle 2007 Two Acres, Russian River Valley

Divas, it's almost Friday, and you know what that means! 

The weekend is almost upon us.  And what's on many of our minds?  Well, if you're anything like Kuzak and me, you're already contemplating 1) what you're going to cook, and 2) what you're going to drink.  In the service of part two, I thought I'd write about Carlisle, one of our favorite California wineries. 

Located in Santa Rose (Sonoma County), Carlisle produces top quality old vine, vineyard designated Zinfandel and red Rhone blends (syrah, grenache, mourvedre and petite syrah).  The other week, Kuzak and I popped a bottle of their 2007 Two Acres red wine, a Rhone blend dominated by mourvedre (84%), but also containing petite syrah, carignane, alicante bouschete and syrah.  A highly unusual blend to say the least, which made us all the more excited to taste it.  Foremost on my mind as we readied our first taste, was famed Chauteauneuf Du Pape winery Chateau de Beucastel which also makes mourvredre-dominated wines, and happens to be one of my favorite producers in the world. 

The Two Acres was amazingly concentrated with dark ruby coloring and cherry flavors and velvety on the tongue and through the finish.  This wine would hold up well to robust meat and food, spice, flavor.  It's a big wine, the perfect antidote to the cold winter chill.  Given its excellence in youth, it is clear that this wine has the ability to age well over the next decade, or maybe more.  And yes, it did call to mind Chateau de Beaucastel, but displayed its Sonoma Coast terrior beyond the shadow of a doubt.  It's easy to see why Robert Parker rated several of the 2007 vintage between 94 and 97 points (big scores!), and this wine 90 to 92 points. 

A fabulous wine from a fabulous winery, and I can't wait to try more of the bottles nestled in our cellar!  

Most of Carlisle's wines are very reasonably priced, costing between $35 and $45 dollars on release.  While their website is sold out of the Two Acres, it can be purchased from secondary retailers for around $39.99/bottle.  This is a very reasonable price for this quality of wine.

As always, I highly recommend joining their mailing list for first crack at their releases at the best prices! We're members.   Click here for their mailing list.

Click here to buy the 2007 Two Acres from Woodland Hills Wine Company for $39.99/bottle!

Winery Information
Carlisle Winery & Vineyards
P.O. Box 556
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
(707) 566-7700

Click here for Carlisle Winery's website!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Simple Suppers: Grilled Salmon Steaks with Dill and Whole Grain Mustard

Whew, what a whirlwind week!

Between my two new columns, the blog AND trying to finish my novel, I've been going nonstop, but it's all in the service of putting out the best articles and recipes for you, my lovely divas.  I believe that this is the year for all of us to make our dreams come true, whether that's something as simple as eating healthier, or as big as launching a new career, or as daredevilish as learning to skydive, this is the year!

Say it with me one more time.  "This is the year!"

If you haven't had a chance yet, check out my new Flicks and Food with the Domestic Diva column and recipe on GeekWeek, a Hollywood news and entertainment website.  I'm creating recipes inspired by my favorite films for them, and this week, it's "Unforgiven" Spicy Pork Chili (click here for the direct link).  It's a to die for recipe, for a to die for movie, one you won't want to miss out on!  So click the direct link and check it out.

Now let's get down and dirty with a new Simple Supper for your viewing pleasure.  Today I'm writing up my recipe for Grilled Salmon Steaks with Dill and Whole Grain Mustard.

I love the flavor that grilling brings out in fish, especially salmon, smoky, seared deliciousness that's hard to achieve with any other cooking method.  You're probably used to buying fillet cuts of salmon, but I LOVE the steaks, which are actually whole cross sections of the fish with the skin on.  They hold up great to grilling because of the bone structure and aren't prone to falling apart when flipped.  I recommend leaving the skin on because it gets all crackly and crispy (and tastes amazing!). 

Now that we've squared away our cooking method, we all know that great grilling necessitates a great marinade (hello Bobby Flay, I'm looking at you).  In the case of this recipe, I threw together a marinade with whole grain mustard, the sexy star of the mustard world, and dill, one of my favorite herbs (either dried or fresh will work).  These flavors are a classic pairing with salmon, quick to throw together, and the resulting dish is amazing for your health and positively scrumptious!  Pair the fish with some whole grain rice and a vegetable, and you're all set for a complete meal.

Note:  If you don't have access to a grill in winter, or have an indoor grill in your kitchen, you can broil the salmon.  A broiler actually functions like an upside down grill (click here to read my article on broilers).

Grilled Salmon Steaks with Dill and Whole Grain Mustard
Serves 2 people
Cooking time: 30 minutes (including marinade)

2 salmon steaks
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice plus 2 wedges for garnishing
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

To make the marinade, place the lemon juice, mustard, garlic and dill in a nonreactive bowl.  Whisk together first, then slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Then, add the salmon steaks and allow to marinade for at least 20 minutes (this will also allow them to come up to room temperature for grilling).

Meanwhile, heat your grill.  Once you've finished marinading the fish and allowing it to come up to room temperature, place the salmon steaks on the grill and cook covered for 5 to 7 minutes.  If any pieces are cooking too fast, move them to a cooler part of the grill. Flip the fish, and continue cooking covered for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fish has cooked through.  Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

To plate, place whole grain rice or vegetables of your choice in the bottom of a plate and top with a piece of grilled salmon. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

Wine Pairing
For this dish, toss the whole you have to pair white wine with fish out the window.  If you ask me, Pinot Noir is the go to wine for salmon.  There's something about the pungent, silky, buttery texture of the fish that just calls out for this varietal. In the case of this dish, due to the tangy marinade, I'd suggest pairing a New World Pinot Noir, which will be bigger and fruitier, rather than a Burgundy-style, which tend to be subtler and more earthy. 

The Rivers Marie 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is drinking spectacularly right now (we had a bottle this week).  Recently, I've also loved the Anthill Farms 2007 Comptche Ridge Pinot Noir and the Pisoni Estate 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir.  Any of these wines would be a brilliant choice!  Click on the names of the wines to read my previous articles on them.

Source for Ingredients
salmon steaks, whole grain mustard, organic lemons, organic garlic and organic olive oil from Whole Foods

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Column on GeekWeek: Flicks and Food with The Domestic Diva!

I have a very exciting announcement!

Starting today, I have a new weekly column on GeekWeek, a Hollywood news and entertainment website, where I create recipes inspired by my favorite movies.  This is a perfect fit for me given my Hollywood background and love for all things cinematic and culinary.

The name of the column is Flicks and Food with The Domestic Diva, and this week's features "Unforgiven" Spicy Pork Chili, a rich, spicy, smoky chili inspired by Clint Eastwood's seminal Western.  It's a fabulous recipe for a fabulous movie, one that I'm sure you'll want to check out!  So visit GeekWeek, read my column and keep on cooking!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Meatless Monday: Red Wine Risotto with Radicchio & Rosemary

Do do do da do do!  It's just another Meatless Monday!

This column is dedicated to my Top Chef Brother, who ordered me via email not to forget about the risottos for my Meatless Monday columns.

So here's a great risotto recipe that isn't the usual affair.  Instead of using white wine, this recipe uses red wine which gives the dish a hearty, meaty kick (without the meat, of course)!  It also transforms the risotto into the most stunning reddish-purple color.  This veggie risotto also sports radicchio, a leaf vegetable popular in Italy with a bitter, spicy taste that mellows after it's grilled or roasted, and rosemary, one of my favorite herbs which is native to the Mediterranean region.

Another recipe tip?  This dish is a great way to make use of leftover wine!  I always keep bottles vacuum capped in my fridge for just such an occasion.

Red Wine Risotto with Radicchio & Rosemary
Serves 4 people

1/2 head radicchio, chopped roughly
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup parmesan reggiano, grated
salt and pepper


To cook the radicchio and rosemary, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the radicchio and rosemary and cook gently with the lid on until wilted and tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the risotto, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, sauteing until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one more minute. Then add the rice and stir for another two minutes. Pour in the red wine and stir until absorbed. Once the wine has been absorbed, slowly add the vegetable stock 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more stock.

Once the rice is cooked al dente, stir in the radicchio and rosemary mixture and the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, either serve family style, or spoon some risotto into the center of a plate.  Top with a little fresh rosemary. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic radicchio and organic rosemary from Kenter Canyon Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic shallots and organic garlic from Hollywood Farmers Market

arborio rice, organic vegetable stock, organic olive oil and parmesan reggiano from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights

Soul music is back in business!  Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings hearken back to an earlier time, when Aretha ruled the charts and Motown dominated the radio.  If this CD doesn't get you moving, then nothing will!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Favorite Wine Columnist, My Favorite Wine Bar & The Wall Street Journal!

Lou's Wine Bar

Alright, divas, when I get excited about something I just have to share it, so here it goes.  My favorite wine columnist, Lettie Teague, is now writing for The Wall Street Journal.  Even more exciting, in her new article on Hungarian wines, which are the new front in the wine world, she interviews Lou Amdur, owner and proprietor of Lou, my favorite wine bar in Los Angeles!  There's even an adorable little picture of him pouring wine from his usual spot behind the bar. 

Wow, two of my favorite wine people tied up together in one package! 

Oh, yeah, and the article is interesting, too.  For years, I've known that Hungary produces excellent wines.  I had the opportunity to taste some of them on a trip to Budapest years ago (a city I loved and to which I would readily return).  However, the rub was that precious few of them were being imported to the U.S.  Well, folks, that is all about to change!



Saturday, January 9, 2010

Big Announcement - New Column for The Hawaii Women's Journal!

I just wanted to share an exciting announcement!

I'm going to be writing a column for The Hawaii Women's Journal, an online news and literary magazine, launching on February 25th 2010.

What's my column about?

Food, of course!  What else?  Every column will feature a new recipe, too.  So I just know you'll all want to read it.  And besides, it's going to have tons of other great stuff, too!

From the press release:

The Hawaii Women's Journal is an online news and literary magazine, launching in February 25th 2010. We hope to provide our readers with the highest quality of writing, covering a diverse range of intellectually stimulating, socially conscious, entertaining and practical information.

A Monthly Round-Up delving into the most important global and local news? Yes. Poetry and Personal Essay? Absolutely. A hot mess of columns--on everything from motherhood, science, food, self-development, travelogue, and legal advice? YES YES YES! Is this approach too "everything but kitchen sink?" Well, we hope it will be everything AND the kitchen sink, plus a Corgi, minus ads with emaciated models.

While our publication's name implies that it targets a specific demographic, we expect HWJ to be smart and compelling enough to appeal to anyone who enjoys reading excellent writing, and likes to think for thinking's sake.

Come out of the nerd closet with us as we take media back, and form a community of badass writers in the process.



Friday, January 8, 2010

Triple Ginger Cookies

Divas, here's a sweet recipe in the hopes that you have a sweet Friday!

I'll let you in on a little diva secret - I LOVE ginger!  In large quantities.  I've yet to meet an amount of ginger I can't handle.  So for these cookies, I used three preparations of ginger - fresh minced, ground & candied. I made these puppies for Christmas, and they turned out fabulous.  Serve them with fresh berries or ice cream.  They make the perfect desert.

Triple Ginger Cookies
Makes about 40 small cookies

4 oz. (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled & finely minced
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup + 2 tbsp spelt flour (a good wheat alternative)
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 cup crystalized ginger


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer or with an electric mixer until smooth (about three minutes).  Add the minced ginger, ground ginger, vanilla, flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix until the dough comes together.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured parchment paper until 1/8 inch thick.  Cut out cookies with a round cookie cutter.  Push a small piece of crystallized ginger into the center of the cookie.

Bake in the oven on parchment paper until the edges are lightly golden (about 10-12 minutes).

Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

spelt flour, crystalized ginger, ground ginger, fresh ginger, brown sugar, organic butter from Harvest Moon (Floyd, VA)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lobster "Bouillabaisse" with Poached Yukon Gold Potatoes & Bacon

Today I'm bringing you a very special dish - something I whipped up for The Wine Lover, The Original Diva and Kuzak on Christmas Eve! 

It's sort of my take on a Bouillabaisse, a traditional Provencal fish stew with a saffron broth. 

Sort of.  

Well, let me start at the beginning of my thought process here, something about which I often get asked.  I believe that creating and constructing new recipes is my biggest strength as a chef, especially considering that I have no formal training whatsoever.  So I'll let you in on the secret process.

It all began with lobster meat, which The Original Diva had lovingly procured from Indigo Farms, her rockin' local fish supplier.  We had this great protein - already shelled and ready to use - but how were we going to use it?  I'd already planned to make a homemade ravioli dish, but after careful consideration, I decided against a lobster ravioli.  The lobster just wasn't going to work with the other flavors I already had in mind (goat cheese, caramelized shallots, "bruleed" delicata squash, red kale, roasted pepitos).  Rather, it would have proven a pricey distraction. 

How did I decide that?

Before I ever set foot in the kitchen or hand on saute pan, I envision the complete dish and do a virtual taste test in my mind, something at which I prove rather adept.  So after I nixed the lobster ravioli idea, opting to make the goat cheese ravioli with whole grain spelt for a starter instead, I concentrated on a main course that would showcase the lobster as the star.

The Diva Making Goat Cheese Ravioli

After careful pondering, and many glances at the snow-filled landscape, I decided a rich soup would be perfect for that chilly day.  Rich, warm, comforting, decadent, sumptuous.  But what kind of soup?  The Original Diva can't eat cream or milk, and I prefer to limit my consumption, so after surveying the cupboard, I settled on making a homemade bouillabaisse-like fish stock as the base for the soup, using saffron, achoveys, herbs, tomatoes and a bunch of other flavors.  This is my original recipe.

With that settled, I finalized my components.  The lobster would be quickly poached in butter.  I had purchased some stunning Yukon gold fingerling potatoes.  I planned to poach those in the saffron-based stock, which would transform them into a gorgeous yellowy-orange-ish color. 

Ravioli Filling (Goat Cheese, Parmesan Reggiano & Caramelized Shallots)

The final major component?  Bacon!  Not only does bacon, like butter, make most things taste awesomer, but I loved the meaty, smoky, fatty, indulgent flavor it was going to bring to an otherwise rather austere dish.  I knew it would compliment my flavors, rather than overwhelm them, especially since I planned to crumble the bacon over top, adding punches of flavor rather than a whole chunk of meat.  Luckily, I had purchased a package of applewood smoked, center cut bacon (nitrate-free of course!) earlier in the week.

Goat Cheese Ravioli with "Bruleed" Delicata Squash, Red Kale & Pepitos 

All of this, and I hadn't even stepped into the kitchen yet.  This is how I work.  I let my ingredients guide me, rather than trying to force what's available into a preconceived mold.  I find that I turn out better, more creative food that way that conforms to the seasons, rather than the other way around.

I sort of hate being right all the time, but this was a spectacular dish!  I labored over my stock all day, simmering it, straining it, and further reducing it to a pure, rich broth (and this was sans dairy or thickening agents).  The plating, the flavors, everything came together into a restrained, comforting, tasty soup.

What's left but to give you the recipe? 

Lobster "Bouillabaisse" with Poached Yukon Gold Potatoes & Bacon
Serves 4 people

2 cups lobster meat, poached in butter, removed from shell and seasoned with salt & pepper
2 cups Yukon gold fingerling potatoes, quartered
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper

bouillabaisse stock:
1 shallot, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp tomato paste or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
4 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp saffron
3 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, rinsed, patted dry & chopped
6 cups filtered water
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper


To make the bouillabaisse stock, add the olive oil to a pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the shallot and carrots and saute for a few minutes, until softened.  Add the garlic and anchovies and cook for another minute.  Push the mixture to the side and add the tomato paste or tomatoes, cooking it alone for a minute before stirring it into the mixture.  Cook for another minute.  Add the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the herbs, saffron, peppercorns and filtered water and simmer uncovered over low heat for about ninety minutes (can cover and continue simmering longer).

"Bouillabaisse" Stock After Straining

Remove from heat and strain the stock.  Return to a sauce pan and continue to simmer until reduced to about 4 cups.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.

To poach the potatoes, simmer them in the stock until tender and cooked through, about ten minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the stock and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To cook the bacon, quickly saute it over medium heat until crispy.  Drain on paper towels. 

To plate, arrage some of the potatoes in the center of a wide-bottomed bowl.  Top with a generous portion of butter-poached lobster.  Ladle the broth over top.  Finish with crumbled bacon, chopped parsley and fresh cracked pepper.


Business mentioned in this post:

Indigo Farms
(540) 763-2323

Serving the New River Valley since 1993, they're providers of fresh seafood and specialty meats.

CLICK HERE to visit their website and see their schedule!

Source for Ingredients:

lobster meat from Indigo Farms (Floyd, VA)

Yukon gold fingerling potatoes, thick-cut nitrate-free bacon, saffron and anchovies from Harvest Moon (Floyd, VA)

Pinot Days this SUNDAY at the Santa Monica Airport Hanger!

Divas, I just wanted to let you all know about a big Pinot Noir tasting even this Sunday at the Santa Monica Airport Hanger.

The tasting features over 70 wineries and 200 wines, but it will cost you $50 to get in the door - $45 if you offer up the 10% off LA Weekly reader code (enter the code LAWeeklySC10 when you buy your tickets).  Keep in mind that the entry price is less than what most of these bottles cost.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wine of the Week: Justin 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Welcome to Wine of the Week!

Today, I'm bringing you one of my favorite low-priced California cabs.  I know, low price and cabernet rarely go hand in hand.  And if you happen to risk buying one, it's an oaky, syrupy mess that promises a headache or worse the next day.  Good quality cabernet typically costs an arm and a leg (and maybe the Adorable Monster, too), which is why the majority of Kuzak's cellar is composed of Syrah, Rhone-blends and Pinot Noir (more bang for the proverbial buck).

However, sometimes there's an itch than only cabernet can scratch, and if you're on a budget, than look no further than Justin Vineyards excellent Cabernet Sauvignon!  Kuzak and I discovered this gem of a Paso Robles winery years ago at Wally's, a fantastic wine store in Los Angeles, and we've been drinking it on and off ever since.  We recently picked up two bottles in Florida and served them with a dinner I cooked of meaty pasta and "Bruleed" Delicata Squash.

What's great about Justin's 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is that while, yes, it has some oakiness (a mix of French and American oak sweetness to be exact), it's restrained and in balance with the fruit and the tannins.  This is a concentrated wine, deep in color, with a long finish that can stand up to any protein you hurl its way.

And the price is right!  This wine costs only around $20/bottle.  For Cabernet.  Sauvignon.  From California.  That won't kill your palate.  Need I say more?


As mentioned, the Justin is a good-quality, reasonably priced cabernet sauvignon, a rarity these days.  We scooped up two bottles at a large wine store in Florida for around $20/bottle.  Justin sells the 2007 Cabernet on their website for $26.25/bottle ($21/bottle if you join their wine club).  However, a quick Google search yielded merchants who were selling it for prices as low as $18.99/bottle (Wine Access).



Winery Information:

Justin Vineyards
11680 Chimney Rock Rd.
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 238-6932

Not only do they make great wine, but they also boast a 5 star hotel on their 160 acres in Paso Robles (midway between LA and SF).  Visit their website to read all about it!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Meatless Monday: "Bruleed" Delicata Squash with Basil, Pepitos & Capricho de Cabra (Spanish Goat Cheese)

Divas, I'm back!

Back to LA that is!

And back to full-time blogging!

This is going to be a big year for Domestic Divas, and I've got a lot of great surprises in the works, so stay tuned!

I'm starting this Monday off with a bang of a recipe!  I conceptualized this squash first to pair with a homemade whole grain spelt goat cheese ravioli I made for Christmas Eve diner, and then I honed it as a standalone dish. 

For this recipe, I used organic delicata squash, which are peaking in season right now.  I halved, seeded and thinly chopped them, with the skin on, and then gently roasted them in the oven.  Once they were tender, I spinkled them with brown sugar and cranked up the heat to "brulee" them. To finish the dish, I topped the squash slices with fragrant basil, nutty, toasted pepitos (pumpkin seeds), which add texture and flavor, and crumbled Capricho de Cabra, a high fat, creamy Spanish goat cheese similar to chevre, to add contrast to the sweet squash.

Holy cow!  

This "meatless" dish packs a huge punch!  It's rich and creamy and sweet and sour with nice bursts of pepito crunch.  I served it to Kuzak's clan, along with my Chicken Sausage Ragu, and everyone loved the dish.  A revelation for many was that the skin of these squash are edible and actually tasted delicious.

"Bruleed" Delicata Squash with Basil, Pepitos & Capricho de Cabra
Serves 6-8 people

3 delicata squashes, halved & seeded
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp basil, cut into long, thin strips (chiffonade)
1/4 cup pepitos (pumpkin seeds), roasted & salted
1/4 cup capricho de cabra or chevre
salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the squash, cut the halves into slices (they'll be semi-circles) and place in a single layer in oven proof dishes.  Brush with olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Fill the dishes with about 1/4 inch of water (shouldn't cover the squash).  Place in the oven and roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until the squash are tender.

To "brulee" them, remove the squash from the oven and set the oven temperature to broil.  Sprinkle the tops of the squash slices with brown sugar.  Place under the broiler until the sugar melts and caramelizes.

To plate, layer the squash in a serving dish.  Sprinkle with the pepitos.  Then, crumble the goat cheese on top (hint: place in the freezer for a few minutes first for easy crumbling).  Top with the chiffonade basil and some fresh cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic delicata squash, organic extra virgin olive oil, pepitos & capricho de cabra from Whole Foods (Boca Raton, FL)

fresh basil from Shelley B.'s herb garden