Friday, April 30, 2010

A Little Announcement.

John is taking the MCAT tomorrow. I know he's going to do great, but a few thoughts & prayers sure do go a long way and are so very much appreciated!

If you'd like to leave a comment, I'll make sure he receives the message.

thank you & happy weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rinne Allen.

There's an incredible southern photographer I'd like you to meet. Her name is Rinne Allen. Some of you may already know her and thus have decided she is the kindest, sweetest person you've ever met. No exaggeration. Anyway, Rinne can photograph food like nobody's business. She's got this eye that can make a plain fork look like the most magical object in the world. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, her photos, so naturally I had to share some with you today.

Aren't they amazing? To see more, check out her website:

Rinne was the photographer forthe book Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, by Liana Krissoff (available right here on Amazon), so if you are wanting to learn more about canning and have some photos by Rinne then this book one to buy. Also, I think it would make the sweetest coffee table book.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two Birds. One Stone.

Good news! NPR released a story today about mild pepper consumption (that's mild peppers, not necessarily mild consuption of them) can burn calories. Y-A-Y. If you eat hummus regularly, slice up some peppers and use them for dipping. Or toss them in a salad. Or snack on them raw if you can handle it. If not, no worries... there are other foods (according to WebMD) that can do the job instead. Hey, green tea is one of them, which isn't a "food" really, but you get the idea.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Egg Cups.

I know Easter has already come & gone, but it is still Spring. Which means you can make these precious, adorable little egg cups if you're in a designing mood...

And then, with the leftovers, you can cook frittatas to your heart's content. Food Blogga has laid claim to the ultimate frittata recipe, saying they are as good as her 99 year old Italian grandmother makes them. Or you could make a quiche! I'm totally sold.

P.S. Eggcups via the lovely Design Sponge
P.P.S. Frittata / quiche suggestion from Gracie. (Thanks girl!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Leek & Pecorino Pizza.

[recipe & photo via Food & Wine]

Today, so far, is one of those days. Which is strange, actually, because it started off so well. This morning I proudly announced to the barista at Jittery Joes that I was making the switch from Splenda (which I can no longer deny is evil) to Raw Sugar. He was so delighted with this news that he gave me a coupon for a free cup of coffee. Then I made it to class on time. Usually I scamper in a little late, but not today, my friends. Later I had a lovely talk with my sister who turned 27 today (Happy Birthday, Alyssa!) and then ... WHAM-O! English class. Sigh. Ugh. Blech. I don't love my English class, which is really saying something. The lady who graded my paper and I clearly had a difference of opinion. So, although I have miles and piles of work to do, I believe it would be beneficial for me to talk about leeks. I think at this point in the day it really will prevent me from tearing out my eyeballs.

So, leeks. Wow, they are pretty awesome. You don't ever find them in restaurants, which is kind of weird. (At least not around here.) And prior to this weekend, I never acknowledged them either. They look like an oversized onion and I assumed they wouldn't taste much different. Wrong. They are so flavorful! They turn the brightest, prettiest shade of snappy spring green when sautéed . In fact, smelling the sweet, oniony aroma they give off is actually soothing. I feel calmer just talking about them. And the best thing is, they can really knock a pizza's socks off. I'm proud to announce that Leeks and I no longer have a difference of opinion. Now time to crank out a paper revision...


  1. All-purpose flour, for dusting
  2. 1 1/2 pounds pizza dough, cut into 8 pieces
  3. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  4. 2 large leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  5. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  6. 3/4 pound ground lamb
  7. 32 cherry tomatoes, halved
  8. 1/4 pound truffled pecorino cheese, thinly sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 500°. Heat a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a large inverted baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes.)
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 7-inch round. Oil 3 large baking sheets and place the dough rounds on the sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.
  4. Generously flour a pizza peel. Place a dough round on the peel and brush with olive oil. Top with some of the leeks, lamb, tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Slide the dough round onto the hot stone or baking sheet and bake for about 4 minutes, until bubbling and crisp. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.
* If you don't have a pizza peel or a pizza stone, you can alternatively bake each pizza on a well-greased baking sheet. Also, if you are one of those people who need pizza sauce, you can incorporate it with this recipe. You don't need much, though. Enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beyond Heavenly.

Yesterday, via Cup of Joe, I discovered this website, which is all about cupcakes. However, these are not just any cupcakes. They are special. Click through to see why. Anyway, last night I made the Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting which were beyond heavenly. John and I ate three (and a half) each. What does that tell you?

A. we're piggies

B. they were the best cupcakes ever

C. all of the above

If you guessed C than you are wrong! The answer is, ahem, B.

Anyway, good grief, I think it might have been better off had my eyes never laid eyes upon this website, because now I have this feeling that things are about to get crazy. Want to know why? Because I looked under the "Savouries" section, and this is what I saw:

and while you might be more of a Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting or a Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Ganache kind of person, these Cheddar Scallion Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese are the manifestation of my true food soul-mate. I have to have them. There is no stopping me. What is life without them? Etc. So, without much ado, and before I eat my computer screen, I'm going to say have a happy weekend & may all your food dreams come true!

(P.S. the creator of this website, Ming, went to Harvard...and I think she's made the world a better place.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Whole Wide World.

In honor of beloved Earth Day, I want to share with you some amazing posts around the web, beginning with this guy, whose name is Mr. Glasheen. He lives on an island off the coast of Australia with his dog, because, he says, "I just wanted the idea of a less stressful life. I figured there had to be something better than this out there." Wow, check it out!

An awesome treehouse from my friend Rachel's adorable blog.

And also some handy home tips for saving energy, ones you will actually like to do!

Seriously cool handbags & jewelry made from recycled materials by another friend Rachel, which would make THE BEST gifts.

An awesome bamboo T-shirt for dudes with a sense of humor (or that like to camp. or both).

The most beautiful garden. Is it in Rivendell? I want.

Recycled owls. Is that a cheese grater? Amazing.

You need to be reading FarmerSouth!

Valencia Oranges and Blooms Photographic Print

And last but not least, and because you are the best, I want you to know that fresh-squeezed orange juice from Valencian oranges (don't worry, this isn't Lillet, you can find them anywhere) is the best thing in the whole wide world. I'm serious. The best. You want to squeeze them yourself too, because they make your whole kitchen smell like a dream.

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time for Something Simple.

Currently, I'm up to my ears in schoolwork. Mainly Shakespeare, specifically, The Tempest. Last night I lugged a back-breaking total of seven books home from the library. They have titles like, "The Tempest as a Mystery Play" and "Reading Shakespeare on Stage." They give off a sweet smell that makes me feel relaxed and intelligent, like only library books can. Good old Shakespeare. Had it not been for re-admitting myself into college I would have otherwise forgotten gems such as these:
O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't! (5.1)

Kind of contagious, that optimism, isn't it? Anyway, I don't really know how I'm going to tie this into food or drink. My first thought was to compare Shakespeare to a fine wine and recommend a bottle of something or other, but my husband and I don't really drink fine wine and even if we did I can hardly remember the labels.

Then I thought about this "brave new world" we live in, and how beauteous it is, and how tomorrow is earth day... but nothing edible comes to mind (besides the usual (local)). So let's have a day off, shall we? Perhaps it is time for something simple, yet beauteous.

(Photos by the talented & lovely Katie Bell Moore.)

P.S. Bookish jewelry, anyone? Genius!

Monday, April 19, 2010

So Sweet.

We all know that the "white stuff" isn't so good for our bodies. That includes you, sugar. However, what seems like unfortunate and sad news has an upside and a healthy alternative. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Agave Nectar, a natural alternative to processed sugar.

You can use Agave as a sugar substitute. It is especially good in sauces, or homemade salad dressing recipes that call for sugar. (The nectar is sweeter than sugar, so make sure you take note of ratio when cooking. ) You can put it in your tea, you can drizzle it over yogurt (yum) or swap it for simple syrup in cocktails. This is the nectar of the gods, people! Go sweeten up your Monday with it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Here's to Lemonade & Friday!

How good does this lavender lemonade look? (The original find was from Cup of Jo and the recipe is from Design Sponge.) A couple served this cocktail at their rehearsal dinner, which was held in a garden. Does it get any better than that? John and I are determined to make it as soon as possible. We've already bought the Lillet, which is delicious. (It also tastes amazing on its own, chilled, with a lemon wedge.)

One tip for making cocktails on a budget is to buy inexpensive vodka and then run it through a water filter. Our bartender friend told us about this trick, which, when filtered through a few times, can make cheap vodka taste as great as Grey Goose. If that news doesn't make your Friday, I don't know what will...

Here's the recipe.



1.5oz Vodka (Ciroc seems appropriate but we used a local Pennsylvania vodka)

1.5oz Lillet Blanc

1oz Lavender Syrup (recipe below)

1oz Lemon Juice

2oz Chilled Soda Water

French Lavender Flower for Garnish

Pitcher (makes 4 glasses):

3/4 Cups Vodka

3/4 Cups Lillet Blanc

1/2 Cup Lavender Syrup

1/2 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 Cup Chilled Soda Water for each glass

French Lavender Flower for Garnish


Lavender Syrup:

Add equal parts sugar and water to a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Add fresh organic French lavender to taste (or 1/2 cup dried food grade lavender for every 4 cups water/4 cups sugar) and boil for one minute over medium/high heat. Remove from heat and let steep for an hour.


Mix first four ingredients with spoon, pour over ice, add chilled soda water and garnish with lavender flower (or lemon wedges if you can’t find fresh organic lavender).

Enjoy this and your weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Master Cleanse.

John and I have been thinking about trying a DETOX. (Wow, even the typed word looks scary.) Not as a weight-loss tactic, but for cleansing. You could say we're taking spring cleaning to a new level. We're looking to start in May, which seems like the perfect time because I'll have finished exams and he will be finished with the MCAT. (Another word that looks scary typed.) The idea is to remove stress, anxiety and toxins from our bods. So, what do you think? Have you ever tried one? I'd love to hear any and all recommendations. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fine Cooking.

Have you seen the latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine?

It is a must have, if I do say so myself! Tonight I'm making the cover recipe.
Join me?

Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemongrass

2-1/2 Tbs. canola oil
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 lb.), butterflied (cut horizontally almost all the way through and then opened like a book)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 medium shallots (about 4 oz.), peeled and thinly sliced into rings
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers discarded, halved lengthwise, and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
5-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
3-1/2 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered (1-1/2 cups)
9 oz. fresh udon noodles
1 Thai bird chile (or 1 small serrano pepper), sliced into thin rings
8 large fresh torn basil leaves; plus sprigs for garnish
1 medium lime, half juiced and half cut into wedges
1 Tbs. soy sauce; more to taste
2 medium scallions, trimmed and sliced, for garnish (optional)
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks, for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

This soup is also a great destination for shredded, leftover roast chicken in place of the chicken breast. Just add it to the soup along with the chiles, basil, lime juice, and soy sauce.

Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, and cook without disturbing until it’s browned and releases easily from the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is browned and almost firm to the touch (just short of cooked through), 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the shallots to the pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the shallots start soften, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass, ginger, and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the ginger and lemongrass sizzle and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and raise the heat to medium high. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the noodles, stirring, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and run under cold water to cool slightly. Drain well.

Use your fingers or the tines of a fork to shred the chicken. Add the chicken and noodles to the broth and cook until the noodles are completely tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Discard the lemongrass. Stir in the chiles, torn basil, lime juice, and soy sauce; season with more soy to taste. Divide the noodles among 4 large, deep bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles, and garnish with the basil sprigs and scallions, carrot, and cilantro, if using. Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing.


My sister just called to tell me that the above recipe is "not practical." I think she's right. All you busy ladies/mom's out there... make this instead!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Are You Drooling? You Should Be.

For the past five days, John and I have been all about the Asian salads. That head of Napa cabbage, well, it's not exactly the item you fight over in the kitchen, but it ends up staying around for awhile. Talk about some mileage! Five salads down and we still have some left.

The best news is that we're not making the same salad every time. Far from it. A little variation in the dressing and you've got a completely new dish. And, to be honest, it makes me feel good to get that food processor buzzing. And to be eating a delicious salad.

The only downside to these recipes is the long list of ingredients you're probably going to have to buy. If you've already tampered with Asian cuisine you might be in luck. However, the upside of that particular downside is, like the cabbage, they'll hang around patiently waiting for next time. Also, they are all healthy and relatively cheap. ( Make sure you go to an Asian food store/market to get your goods. They have the best ingredients at the best prices. Also, it's just good to support your local genius. )

The inspiration for the first salad came from Goop. (If you haven't checked out Goop you should! Lots of great ideas over there.) Here's the video. Isn't it great to watch a professional chef at work?

The next recipe is similar, but with noodles added. John and I love both of them equally. The best thing about each recipe is the dressing. I'd recommend doubling it and saving it for when you want to make the salad again, or perhaps using it for a marinade. Be sure to stock up on carrots, limes, cilantro, mint and noodles because you're going to want to make these again and again! They are so delicious you forget how healthy they really are.

Almost-Summer Rice Noodle Salad
From Molly Wizenberg, via Orangette
Adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s Splendid Table Weeknight Kitchen e-mail newsletter

This salad is very versatile, and you can't go wrong with any variety of ingredients. Try using shrimp or roasted tofu in place of the chicken and roasted salted almonds instead of peanuts, or substitute basil for the cilantro. If you like, add slivered fresh spinach leaves, diced jicama, blanched and slivered snow peas, or a bit of julienned mint. The recipe makes quite a bit of dressing, so you’ll have some left over; it will keep in the refrigerator for several days and can be used to marinate poultry, beef, pork, or seafood before grilling.

1 pound thin rice noodles (roughly the thickness of linguine)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
2/3 cup water
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ to ½ cup brown sugar, to taste
1 to 2 hot chilies (red bird, jalapeño, or serrano), seeded and minced, or to taste
6 to 8 leaves Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded or julienned
½ cup tightly packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 grilled or roasted chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Drain the noodles into a colander, rinse with cold water, and then place them in a large bowl.

Place the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to mince. Add the fish sauce, water, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, and chilies, and purée them together. [The mixture will get quite frothy.] Taste, and if necessary, add more chile and adjust the sweet/tart balance. Pour the dressing into a serving bowl, and set it on the dining table.

Toss the vegetables and cilantro with the noodles, and mound the mixture on a platter. Scatter the chicken and peanuts over the top, and serve. Traditionally, this salad is eaten in individual bowls, so invite your dining partners to scoop their own portion from the platter and dress it as they see fit.

Serves 4-6.

And one more that looks amazing, for good measure:

Asian noodle salad with tofu and mango

Asian Noodle Salad with Tofu and Mango
Via Food Blogga
Makes 4 servings
Print recipe only here.

2 teaspoons sesame oil
12 ounces tofu, thinly sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and julienned**
4 celery stalks, julienned
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
4 green onions, thinly sliced into long strips
2 small mangoes, thinly sliced into strips

8 ounces rice or soba noodles
2 tablespoons dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 minced jalapeno chili, or to taste (the more the seeds, the hotter the flavor)

1-2 tablespoons fresh mint, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Once hot, add tofu and saute until browned and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place all other salad ingredients (except noodles and peanuts) in a medium bowl and toss gently. Set aside.

To make the dressing, in a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together sugar, vinegar, and salt until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat, and whisk in remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and add to the bowl of vegetables. Add cooked tofu and dressing, and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and sliced mint. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Da Dum De Dum...

Along with all things Parisian, Spring also is that most beautiful time of year when (drumroll, please... tatatatat)... people get marrrrried! My wedding was in December, but my good friend Lauren Anne's was in April and it was as dreamy as can be.

Aaah. Beautiful, no? (P.S. That's her Dad, not her hubby.)

Anyway, I know that these days brides have selected registry items and it is becoming sort of taboo to stray off of The List. However, (and take it from me, I was one of them) most brides don't know what to register for, especially when it comes to what they will need in the kitchen. When I was engaged, I had to harass people for advice about which pot, pan or utensil was most used most often. I was very clueless. The point I'm trying to make is that even if these items aren't on the registry, it's still okay to get them because they are handy.

So whether you are a bride or a guest, here are some ideas for gifts and registries. Some of them I have mentioned before, and still hold true. Before I continue I think we need one more breathtaking photo of Lauren Anne's wedding.

1. A good teapot. You could go for an electric tea kettle, but the teapot has a cheerier presence. And it whistles! This happy guy is from Williams Sonoma.

Le Creuset Teakettle, Red
2. Some pretty & practical dishtowels. Anthropologie's are spot on. This makes for a sweet but not too pricey gift. When I was a bride-to-be I received an Anthropologie basket full of tea towels, cookbooks, and other little knickknacks. It made me very happy.
Afterglow Dishtowels Sweet Stack Dishtowel Wide-Eyed Dishtowel, Pink

3. Honest to goodness, I don't know what I would do without this pot. You can cook pasta and steam veggies at the same time. Genius!

Calphalon Contemporary Multipot
4. For an exceptionally beautiful and practical wedding present, check out Nambe. Their pieces are stunning. I especially love the wooden bowl.

5. And lastly, (I consulted with John on this one) our biggest love in the kitchen is something that, though very basic, makes the biggest difference in the world. So whether or not you are giving or receiving - make sure you have sharp knives. If you already have good knives make sure you have a sharpener, and keep them sharp! Knives are meant to be sharpened often. So here's a fine recommendation of both. I was taught Henckels were the best knives, but opinions vary. Here's a practical set from Williams Sonoma, sharpener included.
Henckels Twin Cuisine 3-Piece Starter Knife Set with Bonus Steel

Good luck with all your shopping (and registering). Let me know if you have any other staples in the kitchen I might have missed. Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy all those beautiful weddings!
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