Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bison Stew With Spring Greens

Divas, did you know that eating lean, grass fed meat has the same health benefits as eating wild caught fish?

That's right, it's chocked full of protein and omega-3's!  In fact, grass fed meat has more omegas and EFA's than 90% of fish.  And you don't have to worry about (1) pesky mercury and (2) overfishing.  Not only that, but grass fed meat is much healthier than both industrially farmed meat and farm-raised fish!

So this explains why my freezer is always full of grass fed bison from Lindner Bison!  Not only is bison very lean, especially when compared to beef, but the flavor is incredible and super meaty.  I'm in love with it.

This preparation, adapted from a French recipe, uses stew meat, which is a very affordable cut.  I sear it stovetop and then gently braise it in white wine.  When it's almost finished cooking, I stir in a ton of fresh spring greens from Sage Mountain Farm (baby chard, spinach), leeks and chives, and serve it over long grain brown rice.  Not only is this a super flavorful dish with great complexity, but it's also incredibly healthy and makes use of the wonderful greens that are in season right now.

And don't forget to enter the Avocado Giveaway!  The giveaway closes on Tuesday, so click here to enter!

Bison Stew With Spring Greens (Adapted From "Food & Wine" April 2010)
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 20 minutes (active); 2 hours (inactive)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound grass fed bison stew meat (may substitute beef or venison)
salt and pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups rainbow chard, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped, plus more for garnishing
2 cups cooked long grain brown rice, for serving

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a braising pan or large enameled cast-iron casserole pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium high heat.  Season the bison with salt and pepper.  Add to the pan and sear on all sides until browned, about 12 minutes.  Add the wine, cover the meat with a piece of parchment paper and the lid and braise in the oven ofr about one hour, until the meat is nearly tender.

Add the chard, spinach, leeks and chives to the stew.  Stir well and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover again with the parchment paper and the lid and braise for another 30 minutes, until the greens are wilted and the meat is tender.

To serve, place the rice on a plate and spoon the stew over it.  Garnish with some chives and some fresh cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
grass fed bison stew meat from Lindner Bison (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic baby rainbow chard and organic spinach from Sage Mountain Farm (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic leeks and organic chives from Hollywood Farmers Market

white cooking wine and long grain Basmati rice from Trader Joe's

Wine Pairing
With this dinner, we drank a Tablas Creek 2005 Antithesis.  The wine is made from one hundred percent Chardonnay grapes and has a very Burgundian style, which was fitting for these this recipe which was created by two Burgundy winemakers. This crisp white wine worked beautifully with this dish! 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New "Flicks & Food" Column Featuring WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Bacon Brownies With Bourbon Caramel Sauce!

Divas, my brand new "Flicks & Food" Column featuring WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Bacon Brownies With Bourbon Caramel Sauce is up on GeekWeek, so check it out!  This is one of my favorite movies of all time and one of my favorite recipes!


Also, don't forget to enter the Domestic Divas Avocado Giveaway!  The contest closes on Tuesday, so you still have a chance to win.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Avocado Giveaway! Enter Now For Your Chance To Win!

Welcome to the first ever Domestic Divas Giveaway!

You all know what a big fan I am of eating seasonally, so this giveaway is in honor of avocado season.  Here's what you could win:
  • Norpro 18/10 Stainless Steel Avocado Slicer - creates perfect slices for sandwiches, salads and snacks; easily separates the peel while slicing
  • Avocado Cutter - includes great recipe for Avocado Pasta Salad With Red Pepper And Feta Cheese
  • Avocado Tote Bag - perfect for replacing plastic bags when you go to the store
  • $20 Coupon For Border Grill or Ciudad (off a check of $50 or more)
  • Free Taco Coupon from the Border Grill Taco Truck
All you have to do is post a comment below with your favorite avocado dish (click here)!  It can be anything from guacamole to a great salad (recipe is not required).  Then, I'll put all the participants names in a hat and draw a winner.  The contest closes in one week, on Tuesday May 4th at 10am!  So make sure to get in your entry.  I'll mail the prizes to the winner.

Not only are avocados versatile and delicious, but they're loaded with great health benefits.  They're high in oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat that helps lower cholesterol), potassium (regulates blood pressure), folate (important for heart health), lutein and vitamin E (healthy eyes).  Not only that, but eating avocado with other vegetables (say in a salad or salsa) increases absorption of the healthy nutrients from these foods.  It's like a double bonus!

On Saturday, I went to the most amazing luncheon hosted by the California Avocado Commission!  The event included a cooking demonstration by the amazing Chef Susan Finger (check her out on this season's "Top Chef Masters") and Chef Mary Sue Milliken, at their restaurant Ciudad, which serves their signature modern Mexican fare.  Wow, what an amazing treat to have two legends teaching us about cooking and preparing our lunch, filled with amazing avocado recipes! We were also put through a "Top Chef" style guacamole challenge, and I'm proud to report that Allison from A For Aubergine and I had the 2nd place winner!  I'll be posting our winning recipe, along with pictures from the event, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, get your entries in to win these great prizes!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meatless Monday: Spring Vegetable Risotto With Asparagus, Savoy Spinach And Fresh Goat Cheese! Plus, New Cooking Video--Watch Me Make Risotto!

This is the best risotto I've made in the history of my culinary career.

And I make a ton of risotto, so that's saying a lot.

The inspiration for the dish came from my Top Chef Brother's restaurant, Picco, where they make risotto fresh on the half hour.  I loved the combination of leeks, asparagus and savoy spinach, all of which are in season right now.  It tasted like the very essence of spring.  Further inspiration came in the form of the fresh goat cheese from Soledad Farms that I scooped up at the farmers market.  I felt the tangy, smooth cheese would really compliment the delicate vegetable flavors. 

And finally, I decided to un-meat the dish for Meatless Monday.  You see, risotto is traditionally made using chicken stock.  But instead, I made a vegetable stock from scratch, and I believe that it transformed the dish, gently coaxing out the sweet vegetable flavors.  This made sound challenging, but it's quite simple.  I just tossed a mixture of roughly chopped vegetables from my fridge along with a few herbs into the pan (a bunch of celery tops, onions, carrots, leeks, black peppercorns, a bay leaf and a bunch of thyme), and then gently simmered it for about an hour.  Presto, Chango!  Great stock!

Now the plating also played a role in the awesomeness of this dish!  Further inspired by my brother's food (he served a fresh penne family style with a scoop of ricotta in the middle), I plated this risotto into a huge bowl and placed a scoop of fresh goat cheese into the center.  Not only was it beautiful, but it slowly melted into the dish, and was fun to scoop out and into your bowl.

And check out my new cooking video for GeekWeek's channel on Justin.TV!  You can watch me make this risotto!  Click play below to watch:

Watch live video from geekweek on
Spring Vegetable Risotto With Asparagus, Savoy Spinach And Fresh Goat Cheese
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 40 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
3 leeks, tender white and green parts chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups savoy spinach, julinned
1 cup asparagus, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese (chevre)
salt and pepper

To make homemade vegetable stock roughly chop two celery stalks, two carrots, two small onions, one leek.  Also, add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme.  Cover with filtered water and simmer for at least one hour.  Strain and keep warm for risottos (can be made a few days in advance - also, keeps in the freezer for up to six months).

To make the risotto, heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Then, stir in the rice, coating it with the oil, and cook 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 at cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more stock.

Once the rice is almost cooked, stir in the asparagus and the spinach. 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).  Once it's cooked, season the ristotto to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, spoon the risotto into a large bowl to serve family style.  Place the goat cheese in the center of the dish.  Top with a little fresh cracked pepper and drizzle with a little good olive oil.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
fresh goat cheese from Soledad Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic savoy spinach, asparagus, garlic and leeks from Hollywood Farmers Market

arborio rice and white wine from Trader Joe's

Wine Pairing
Vegetables are notoriously difficult to pair with wine, so a great trick when pairing with a dish is to pair to another ingredient that is wine friendly.  In this case, that would be the fresh goat cheese.  Traditionally, Sauvignon Blanc is paired with chevre (like from the Loire Valley in France).  Other good choices would be sparkling wine or a non-oaky Chardonnay, which is what I selected to pair with this dish.

We drank The Ojai Vineyard's 2005 Chardonnay, Clos Pepe Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills.  I've been in love with their Pinot Noir for some time, but this is the first white wine I'd tasted from them, and wow, it was stunning!  Full of great acidity and citrus flavors, this wine could almost pass for a Chablis.  It paired beautifully with the delicate risotto, not overpowering it, rather enhancing its flavor.  Robert Parker rated this wine a stellar 93 points and considers it mature and ready to drink.  I love this winery--it's worth checking out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Picco Restaurant: You Had Me At Soft-Serve Ice Cream!

spaghetti, white gulf shrimp, rapini, garlic, spicy tomato, breadcrumbs

When most people think of San Francisco, they picture the Golden Gate Bridge or Park, or maybe they think of Haight Asbury and the Fisherman's Wharf.  We're talking about normal, non-Foodie people.  Because when I think of San Francisco, all I can think about is food, food and more food, and then maybe wine. 

This was the case when I journeyed up California with the A-Girl.  The reason for our trip, technically speaking, was to catch Faith No More's intimate reunion shows (the A-Girl is a confessed Mike Patton groupie).  But the unspoken pact between us was that we were going there to eat.  A lot.  We had a fabulous lunch at Zuni Cafe with two old friends (we feasted on oysters, fresh pasta and pizza), fresh ginger-lemon cocktails at the Slanted Door in the Ferry Building, and two homemade dinners at the house where we were staying, but the real highlight of the trip was our dinner at Picco, my Top Chef Brother's restaurant in Larkspur.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Check Out The New Cover Of The Hawaii Women's Journal, Featuring My Cover Story Interview With Charlyne Yi And My Column "For The Love Of Pork"!

Divas, I just had to share!  This is the cover of the new issue of The Hawaii Women's Journal, which features my cover story and interview with Charlyne Yi, the comedian and actress ("Knocked Up").  It was a great interview and the article and photographs both came out fabulously.  Also, the new issue includes my column, "For The Love Of Pork" and my recipe for Bone-In Pork Chops With Apple-Bacon Slaw.

While the issue hasn't hit newsstands yet, it will very soon.  I'll be sure to post when it's out!  And thanks to everyone at HWJ for their great work and support!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Meatless Monday: Blackberry Clafoutis

Happy Meatless Monday!

Today, I'm going back to dessert-land and bringing you another recipe sure to satisfy your sweet tooth without expanding your waistline.  This recipe is inspired by the baked French dessert usually made with cherries and a flan-like batter called "clafoutis."  I substituted blackberries (which have been wonderful lately) for the cherries (not in season yet), but raspberries would be wonderful, too.  I also used an unsweetened almond milk in place of milk (no lactose and healthier) and a whole grain spelt flour (more fiber and nutrients).

The resulting dessert had both Kuzak and me licking our plates and hungrily dividing up the remaining dessert for the next day!  The lemon zest and fresh blackberries really stood out, making this an irresistible dish.  Not only is this a cinch to make, as desserts go, it's relatively healthy--low in sugar, high in protein and with lots of fresh fruit.  I'd even eat it for breakfast!!

Blackberry Clafoutis (Adapted From "Food & Wine" April 2010)
Serves 6 people
Cooking time: 50 minutes (includes baking time)

1/2 cup whole grain flour (I used spelt flour)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 pints fresh blackberries
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9-inch gratin dish.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt.  Whisk in the eggs, butter and lemon zest until smooth.  Add the milk and whisk until light and very smooth (about 3 minutes).  Pour the batter into the gratin dish and top with the blackberries.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden.  Let cool slightly.  Dust with confectioners' sugar and cut into wedges.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
organic eggs from Healthy Family Farms, CSA (Hollywood Farmers Market)

fresh blackberries, unsweetened almond milk, organic unsalted butter, organic lemons and organic sugar from Trader Joe's

organic whole grain spelt flour from Whole Foods

Wine Pairing
With this dinner (for our main course, we had a Braised Bison Stew With Spring Greens), we drank a Tablas Creek 2005 Antithesis.  The wine is made from one hundred percent Chardonnay grapes and has a very Burgundian style, which was fitting for these two recipes which were created by two Burgundy winemakers. This crisp white wine worked beautifully with both dishes!

National Food Bloggers Bake Sale Raises Over $16,500 For Share Our Strength!

Divas, I'm pleased to announce that Saturday's National Food Bloggers Bake Sale raised over $16,500 for Share Our Strength! 

I participated in the Los Angeles portion of the event, donating a batch of my famous Bacon Brownies With Bourbon Caramel Sauce (for the Cooking Video and Recipe click here!).  I also swung by the event, chatted it up with some of my fellow bloggers and snatched up an armload of goodies for Kuzak and I to feast on that night. Special thanks to Gaby of What's Gaby Cooking for organizing the fabulous Los Angeles bake sale.  And if you missed out this year, we're hoping to make it an annual event, so stay tuned...

For great photos and a summary of the event, check out Gaby's post!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Live Streaming Cooking Video On GeekWeek! Bacon Brownies With Bourbon Caramel Sauce!

Watch live video from geekweek on
So here's my first ever live streaming cooking video for GeekWeek on Justin.TV!  For this live video, I made my famous Bacon Brownies With Bourbon Caramel Sauce to donate to the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale (taking place today at The Grove).  The video is about 35 minutes and includes the cooking demonstration.  I had a blast making it, but I'm not used to talking so much while I cook!  I'm sure it will get easier as I continue making videos, and I plan to pop onto the channel at least once a week with cooking demonstrations. 

Bacon Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Makes 9 brownies

2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup thick cut bacon, chopped

bourbon caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

To make the bourbon caramel sauce, cook the sugar over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and caremalized.  Add the bourbon and stir to combine.  Then, add the butter and cream and stir to combine.  Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the sauce comes together.

To make the bacon brownies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the bacon in a saute pan over medium heat until crispy.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Whisk together the eggs, vanilla and sugar until smooth. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring to combine. Add it to the eggs/vanilla/sugar mixture and stir to combine. Then, sift together the flour and cocoa powder, and fold into the wet mixture.  Fold in the bacon.

Spread the batter into a parchment-lined 8 inch square pan.  Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool in the pan.  Cut into 2 inch squares (should yield 9 brownies).

Friday, April 16, 2010

New "Flicks & Food" Column On GeekWeek! Also, Live Streaming Cooking Videos!

Divas, I have an exciting announcement! 

GeekWeek, the website where I write my "Flicks And Food" column, has signed a deal with Justin.TV and asked me to do live streaming cooking videos for them (click here to check out their channel).  To find out when I'm streaming, follow me on Twitter (click here)!  I'll be sure to post before I go live.  There's a chance I may be doing a demonstration of my Bacon Brownies With Bourbon Caramel Sauce later today, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, I've just published a new column for "HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Pacific Rockfish With Tomatoes, Capers And Garlic!"  It's a meal truly fit for a dragon, but that I'm sure you'll love, too. 

Here's the direct link to my new column!

And also, don't forget about the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale taking place tomorrow!  Be there or be square!

National Food Bloggers Bake Sale (Los Angeles)
Saturday April 17th
Morel’s French Steakhouse and Bistro at The Grove (189 The Grove Dr) 

10:30am – 1:30pm

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rack Of Lamb With Mint-Shallot Vinaigrette

I've just returned from San Francisco--it's a foodie's heaven up there!

I had the most incredible meal at Picco, my Top Chef Brother's restaurant.  Maybe the best meal I've had there yet, and that's saying a lot!  They are doing truly exciting food up there (and details of the meal are forthcoming).  I'll be attempting to replicate some dishes on my own, though I know they're certain to pale in comparison to the originals.  Sigh...maybe I'll have to move one day.

Today, I'm writing up one of the best recipes I've made lately—Rack Of Lamb With Mint-Shallot Vinaigrette.  The lamb came from Healthy Family Farms, my farmers market CSA.  They have the mildest, most tender grassfed lamb!  I topped it with a quick mint-shallot vinaigrette.  I served the lamb over jumbo heirloom Runner Cannelini Beans (simmer in chicken stock for two and a half hours, saute onion, carrot, celery and garlic, then add beans and stock and reduce to sauce).

Not to toot my own horn, but I cooked this lamb perfectly!  So don't be afraid--this dish is actually surprisingly simple. Give it a shot!

Here's a special treat--this is what The Adorable Monster does while we eat dinner!  He curls up in the corner and sleeps  Aww... cuteness!

Grassfed Rack Of Lamb With Mint-Shallot Vinaigrette
Serves 2 people
Cooking time:  30 minutes

1 rack of lamb (preferably grassfed)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
salt and pepper

mint-shallot vinaigrette
5 sprigs of mint, stems removed and discarded
1 small shallot, peeled
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse the lamb and pat dry. Then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on all sides and rub with the garlic, thyme and olive oil. Allow to come up to room temperature.

Meanwhile to make the vinaigrette, put all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and puree until forms a bright green sauce. Adjust seasoning (salt) if needed. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed saute pan, heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the lamb and quickly sear on all sides. Place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes (mine cooked for 22 minutes) until it reaches 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer for medium rare. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

To plate, slice the lamb into pieces. Place around 3 pieces on a plate and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
grassfed lamb from Healthy Family Farms, CSA (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic mint, organic shallot, organic garlic, organic thyme and organic apple cider vinegar from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic sugar from Trader Joe's

Wine Pairing
With this meal, we drank a delicious bottle of Auteur 2007 Willlamette Valley, Pinot Noir!  This small producer makes fabulous wines, and I've yet to encounter a bottle I haven't loved.  The cherry flavors paired well with the minty, grassy lamb without overpowering it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Food Bloggers Bake Sale - Saturday April 17th At The Grove!

For those of you NOT going to Coachella (I bypassed the festival to catch a Faith No More show in SF this weekend), check out the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale taking place this Saturday!  There are events all over the country (click here to see the full list).  I'll be participating in the Los Angeles sale and donating a big batch of my signature Bacon Brownies With Bourbon Caramel Sauce!

Here are the details:

The first annual National Food Bloggers Bake Sale, part of the Great American Bake Sale, will be held on April 17. Organized by Gaby Dalkin of, food bloggers from across the country will unite to support the cause by holding bake sales in their states. Readers will have the opportunity to taste the baked goods from their favorite food blogs at each state’s bake sale location.

Funds raised through Great American Bake Sale support Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America.  Nearly 17 million— almost one in four—children in America face hunger. Despite the good efforts of governments, private-sector institutions and everyday Americans, millions of our children still don’t have daily access to the nutritious meals they need to live active, healthy lives. More information on SOS can be found at

Los Angeles Bake Sale
Saturday April 17th
Morel’s French Steakhouse and Bistro at The Grove (189 The Grove Dr) 

10:30am – 1:30pm

Click here to see a list of participating bloggers!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meatless Monday: Kimmy's Toffee With Almonds And Walnuts

I love visiting San Francisco!

The people, the wine and the food!  Not the weather, however.  It's been pouring cats and dogs since we got here--I always feel cold in this city.  So far, it's been a great trip filled with wonderful things to eat.  Yesterday, we had lunch at Zuni Cafe (pictures and write-up are forthcoming) and then a lovely meal of salmon, mashed yams and salad at my family friend's house.  My Top Chef Brother brought over two cauliflower gratins made with smoked cheddar and onions so caramelized, they were almost a jam (you can eat this at his restaurant, Picco).  We drank several delicious bottles of wine, including a Tablas Creek 2007 Syrah that I'd brought up from Los Angeles.

 Top Chef Brother's Cauliflower Gratin

Today, we're headed into the city to have lunch (and eventually dinner) with my Top Chef Brother.  No idea where he's taking us, but I can't wait.  And tonight, we're seeing Faith No More!!!!!  Tuesday night, we'll hit up Picco!

Today's recipe comes from my family friend, Kimmy S.!  She's an accomplished baker and pastry chef, and now she's making candy, too (oh, and she's only 17!).  She came by two nights ago and whipped up a batch of Toffee, studded with almonds and walnuts.  We've been eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner it's so delicious.  I figure we all need a little something sweet in our lives from time to time.  Enjoy!

Kimmy's Toffee With Almonds And Walnuts
Makes about 10 pieces
Cooking time:  about 20 minutes

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Line an 11-by-17 inch baking pan with foil and grease well, or line with a silicon baking mat (we used aluminum).  Combine sugars, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons water, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil.

Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture reaches 298 F, hard crack stage (use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature).  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture into baking pan.  Sprinkle with the almonds and walnuts.  Let it cool slightly before using a sharp knife to score into squares.  Let cool completely before breaking into pieces.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
everything came from 1) Whole Foods or 2) Doug's pantry (where I'm staying)

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Fave Bites: 8oz Burger Bar

Suds And Sliders Sampler

It's true that on occasion, I don't feel like cooking.

This usually happens after I've tackled one a challenging supper project.  This week, it was Roasted Rack Of Lamb (from Healthy Family Farms, CSA) with mint-shallot vinaigrette (organic mint from the farmers market) served over jumbo cannellini beans ("runner" heirloom variety) that had braised in homemade chicken stock for close to three hours, and then been simmered down with sauteed onion, carrot, celery and thyme.  Lamb, mint and white beans are a classic combination. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Green Garlic Soup

Green garlic is one of the great pleasures of springtime.

This time of year, as the pollen clogs the air and nature full-on blooms (in Los Angeles, it's like a tropical jungle this year due to all our rain), you'll find green garlic lurking at your farmers market.  When I spot it, I do one of my excited vegetable dances and scoop up several large bunches.  While I'm sure all of you are familiar with regular garlic, probably not so much with the green stuff.  It's just immature garlic, harvested before the cloves have formed.  Green garlic looks kind of like a large scallion (click here for pictures) and has a slightly sweeter taste than regular garlic. 

My favorite thing to do is to transform green garlic into a wonderful soup!  It's actually a very simple recipe, almost peasant-like, but powerfully flavorful and showcases the green garlic in all its culinary glory.  To add to the rustic appeal, I left the skins partially on the potatoes (this is also where many nutrients are).  I made this for a casual Friday night supper along with a homemade pizza (whole wheat crust, asparagus, red pepper, prosciutto and fresh buffalo mozzarella).

I love this soup so much, I just might have to make it again next week, after I get back from San Francisco (can't wait!).  So give it a try!

Green Garlic Soup
Serves 4-6 people
Cooking time: 40 minutes

6 green garlic bulbs, bulbs and tender green parts chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped   
4 cups chicken stock
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, half-peeled and chopped
salt and pepper

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and the green garlic and saute until softened (about 5-7 minutes).  Then, add the potatoes and the chicken stock.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove from heat.

Once the soup is cool enough to handle, working in batches, puree it to a nice consistency.  For a more rustic soup, you can skip this step, or go for a less smooth puree.  Season to taste with sale and pepper.

To serve, ladle some soup into a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh cracked pepper.  If desired, sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
organic green garlic, organic onion and organic Yukon Gold potatoes from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic chicken stock and organic olive oil from Whole Foods

Wine Pairing
With this meal (green garlic soup & homemade pizza), we drank a bottle of Blackbird 2004 Proprietary Red (a blend of 95% merlot and 5% cabernet sauvignon), which had been in our cellar for some time.  Until 2004, Blackbird vineyards only sold grapes to top Napa producers, and when you taste this wine, you can tell why.  Wonderful fruit in this wine (plum, black cherry) with a long tannic finish--a very Pomerol-ish wine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chef Bruce Hill Reveals Plans For New Pizzeria In San Francisco!

The Space Being Redone By Michael Brennan For Zero Zero

Bruce Hill, executive chef at Bix in San Francisco and Picco in Larkspur (and also my Top Chef Brother's boss) has unveiled plans to open a brand new pizzeria in San Francisco proper called Zero Zero, no doubt a reference to the flour used to make pasta.  Modeled after Pizzeria Picco, in addition to serving Neapolitan-style thin crust pizzas that are fired in a brick oven for only two minutes, the restaurant will also feature fresh pasta, specialty cocktails and to die for soft serve ice cream.

Construction is just beginning on the 120 seat restaurant, which is set to debut in June or July.  Michael Brennan is over-seeing the redo and will try to capture the feel of "old San Francisco," according to Hill.

Click here to read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle on Zero Zero!

Also, I'm headed up to San Fran this weekend, and plan to drop in on Picco!  So stay tuned for my posts on my trip!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meatless Monday: Rainbow Chard Omelet With Shallots & Goat Cheese

Did you know that you should eat within one hour of waking up?

That's right--your body has been in starvation mode all night, and the sooner you can get some fuel into it, the better.  This will jump start your metabolism, otherwise your body stays in starvation mode and you burn less calories.  This is why breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day.  Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast, actually end up consuming more calories during the day than those that chow down.

Another breakfast issue?  Empty Carbs.  The typical American breakfast is a processed, empty carb fest.  Take almost any name brand cereal.  Most are highly processed, high in sugar and low in protein.  That means you'll get some energy, and then crash.  Instead, I recommend that every meal consist of a good protein source, which is a longer-lasting, slower-burning energy source.  Eggs are a fabulous source of protein and nutrients, quick to cook up, and one of the most delicious foods in the world, if you ask me.

One of my favorite things to make for breakfast is a quick omelet stuffed with fresh greens, shallots and goat cheese. Instead of the usual three egg monstrosity served in most restaurants, I make a light, thin shell by whipping together one whole egg and one egg white.  For the filling, I saute shallots with organic baby rainbow chard (from Sage Mountain Farm), but any kind of green from spinach to kale would be fabulous.  The final ingredient?  A little bit of garlic and herb goat cheese from Soledad Farms and fresh basil.

Now my stomach is grumbling.  I'm going to make one of these right after I post this!  So next time, bypass the cereal aisle and try a healthy omlette.

Rainbow Chard Omelet With Shallots & Goat Cheese
Serves 1 person
Cooking time: 8 minutes

1 organic egg and 1 organic egg white
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
1 cup baby rainbow chard, chopped (spinach, kale or any green would work)
2 tablespoons chevre (goat cheese)
1 fresh basil leaf, julienned
salt & pepper

To make the omlette shell, beat together the egg and the egg white.  Add a pinch of salt and a little pepper.  Then, coat a small frying pan with nonstick grapeseed oil or canola oil cooking spray.  Add the eggs and cook for a few minutes on each side over medium heat, until cooked through.  Remove to a plate.

Add the olive oil and shallots, cooking for one minute.  Then, add the chard and cook for a few more minutes until tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To finish, spoon the shallot-chard mixture onto the omlette shell.  Crumble the fresh chevre on top.  Close the shell around the filling and top with the fresh basil.  Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
organic eggs from Healthy Family Farms, CSA (Hollywood Farmers Market)

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

organic baby rainbow chard from Sage Mountain Farm (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic shallots and purple basil from Hollywood Farmers Market

grapeseed oil cooking spray, olive oil, Kosher salt and organic black pepper from Whole Foods

Wine Pairing
Alright, I'm not going to pair a wine with this dish (though I lovely Roussanne from Tablas Creek would be heavenly).  Instead, I recommend having a cup of green tea like Immortal Green from American Tea Room.  This tea is my current obsession, and I first tried it at their lovely tea room in Beverly Hills.  Check out this description from their website:

In this blend, sencha the color of nori is flecked with brilliantly colored marigold blossoms. Juicy, thick scents of candied peaches and ripe passion fruit give this ethereal, misty yellow brew an almost palpable aroma. The infusion’s delicately grassy and richly fruity flavor gives way to a clean aftertaste with light astringency and lingering passion fruit notes.

Oh, man, this stuff is so wonderful!  Not to mention, green tea is chocked full of antioxidants and has been shown to lower the risk of certain types of cancers.

Here's the information on their tea room, where they serve tea and delicious little cakes and pastries.

American Tea Room
401 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4819
(310) 271-7922

Click Here For The Website

And if you want to buy some Immortal Green, here's the direct link!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Braised Bison Stew

That's right, it says "Bison."

You didn't read it wrong--I love eating bison!  Not only is is a nutritionally dense, protein rich meat, but it tastes amazing, almost like a meatier, richer beef.

I know what you're probably thinking:  "Where the heck do I buy bison?"

Many grocery stores now carry bison meat, but I actually buy mine from Lindner Bison at the Hollywood Farmers Market.  They a family owned operation that raises their animals on grass (so it's rich in Omega-3's) and without the use of antibiotics, hormones or feedlots.  Click here to visit their website!

For this recipe, I slowly braise bison stew meat for two to three hours into a tender, rich stew loaded with onion, carrot, celery, garlic and potatoes.  It's simple--once you throw it in the oven, just let it cook until the meat is superbly tender.  It makes a great, healthy meal, especially when paired with a green vegetable or salad. 

So give it a shot--I promise you'll be eating bison regularly in no time.

Short on time?  This recipe would also works for a slow-cooker (Crock Pot).

Braised Bison Stew
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 2 to 3 hours 

1 pound bison stew meat, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
8 fingerling potatoes, halved
1 garlic bulb, halved
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 cups organic beef broth
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a braising pan, add the grapeseed or canola oil over medium high heat. Then, add the onion, carrots and celery, cooking until lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes).  Add the bison, stirring it around until browned, about 3 minutes.

Next, add the red wine and reduce it over high heat until reduced in half, about 4 minutes.  Once it's reduced, add the garlic, potatoes, beef broth, bay leaf and cardamon.  Note that the broth should cover the ingredients.

Cover and place in the oven, braising for about two to three hours, or until the beef is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Source For Ingredients
grass-fed bison stew meat from Lindner Bison (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic beef stock from Healthy Family Farms, CSA (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic carrots, organic celery, organic onions, organic garlic from Studio City Farmers Market

ground cardamom, organic bay leaves and grapeseed oil from Whole Foods

Wine Pairing
With this rich dish, we drank the rest of the Anthill Farms 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Timber Crest Farms, Dry Creek Valley.  Not only did this wine drink better on the second night, but it complimented the bison stew perfectly. 

To read more about this wine, check out my tasting notes under this recipe.