There are occasions that call for luxury—times when sumptuous textures and rich flavors are the only option. I created this butterbean and white truffle pâté for just such occasions. With its velvety texture and deep flavors coming from caramelized onions, a Riesling reduction, and a good dose of white truffle oil, this dish would be at home on the finest table, but it’s also just as comfy at a simple picnic in the park.
No one will ever guess it’s healthy (ahem vegan and gluten free) easy to make. I make a double batch and eat it for lunch by the spoonful- because, hey, I’m a girl who loves luxury.
Now, speaking of the luxuries in life, we need to talk truffle oil. *Most truffle oil uses truffle essence, not actual truffles. This means, when you see that big bottle of white truffle oil for $8, don’t buy it. It’s not worth wasting your dough on. Look to spend at least $25 on a couple of ounces of truffle oil and look at the label to make sure it contains actual truffles. Also, buy it from a reputable source, and ask your shopkeeper. If they don’t seem sure, and your label is iffy, wait. It is so worth it to have the real thing. The good news is that with the real stuff, a little goes a long long way. Store it away from the light in a cool place. I tend to put truffle oil on lots of things. … get the recipe
Ginger and vanilla are both on the list of my favorite flavors. The two couldn’t really be more different. Ginger is bright, heady, floral, and bitey. Vanilla is warm, round, so soft and inviting. The funny thing is, ginger holds a stronger association to childhood for me. While my grandmother baked, she was French, and her desserts often took the form of galettes and tartes. I loved her custards and cream puffs, but strangely enough vanilla doesn’t evoke childhood memories for me like it does for so many.
Ginger, however, does. It’s not because my mom or grandmother made gingerbread or spice cookies. It’s all about the Chinese food. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and some of my family members had lived in Asia, others had just traveled extensively. As a result, we were always hunting down the most authentic and amazing Chinese food. Seafood banquets at Hon Lin or Hong Kong Flower Lounge featuring exotic items like Jelly Fish and Sea Cucumber along with lobster and crab were the first choice for birthday dinners out on the town. If we went to another Chinese joint, we would always be sure to request black vinegar and shredded ginger for the table. I can’t even speak those words, black vinegar and shredded ginger without my mouth watering. To this day, if I walk into a Chinese restaurant and I smell real black vinegar, I can guess my dinner will be better than average.
I don’t know that, … get the recipe
I love eggs. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl, and I still believe that my dad made the best scrambled eggs in the world. What I wouldn’t give for one more breakfast at our kitchen counter with him cooking me a fluffy buttery pile of them with toast and OJ.
When I was 16, I became a vegetarian, and I started to learn about the way hens were raised. I tried to be a vegan in my late teens and 20s but I really missed eggs. When they became widely available, I began buying cage-free eggs, but I’ll never forget when my aunt’s neighbors in Napa began selling farm eggs. I would always make my parents buy a dozen when we were up there. They just tasted different.
These days, I can buy farm eggs at my local market, Bi-Rite, and at the farmers market. These chickens are pasture-raised which is way different than cage free. They live out in the sunshine acting like chickens are supposed to act. Their eggs taste magnificent and I know that I’m not contributing to an animal’s misery. That makes me a happy chick(en)!
Right now, I am about two weeks into a pretty serious vegan cleanse. I think I miss eggs the most (oh, and gluten). This frittata was made just two days before I started my cleanse. It was lovely. As a matter of fact, I made it one night for dinner with the girls and then I made … get the recipe
The Girls from eco.love winery, the girls of VCO, and lil ol’ me decided at our first wine night, that we had to have a second girls night and and third and a fourth. We even named it. Jane kindly opened her (GORGEOUS) home for the occasion, so I offered to do the cooking and of course, eco.love provided the oh so delicious sauvignon blanc and reisling wine.
This group of girls is so fun and eclectic; interior designers, foodies, winemakers, yogis, editors, and marathon runners just to mention a few. Our little group expanded to nine for this party- even though two of our original group were unable to make it and were very sorely missed.
I knew the food had to be super simple since I’d only have about two hours to prepare it before our gathering. Normally I’d do shopping and prep the day before, but I’d just had another dinner party the previous evening as well! Laissez les bons temps roullez.
I decided to do a build your own crostini bar because it’s fun, and interactive, and allows people to eat to their own tastes and dietary restrictions. For this, I toasted and sliced ciabatta. I made toasted pecans with a little salt, sugar, and pepper. I put out two kinds of cheeses, gorgonzola and honeyed chevre. The true stars of the bar though, were, my homemade blueberry, ginger, vanilla jam and the candied rosemary vanilla bacon! Since all of the ingredients worked together, it … get the recipe
I am about to begin a vegan cleanse. I’ve been stepping down- adding more vegan meals to our weekly routine. Recently, I’ve even been hard at work practicing some tofu cooking techniques that make tofu truly loveable rather than just reliable.
But still, I had a lovely little pescatarian tartine (open faced sandwich) for lunch yesterday. It was inspired by Captain Mike’s Holy Smoke at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market which is appropriate, because it featured their naturally sweet and earthy smoked albacore* along with fresh red beets, avocado, and some special touches to make a lunch for one seem really sweet and special even though it takes all of five minutes to make. I had a cup of green tea and a little salad with this and sat in the window watching the rain pour down. The blush of the albacore, with the deep jewel tone of the beets and the creamy green of the avocado provided a welcome punch of color on a dreary day.
- 1 slice slightly toasted ciabatta
- 2 teaspoons cream cheese
- 2 thin slices red beet
- 1 leaf Belgian endive
- 4 slices smoked fish
- 1 slice avocado
- drizzle of olive oil
- few grains fleur du sel (optional)
- sprinkle of lavender sugar (optional)
Top toasted ciabatta with ingredients in the order listed and enjoy.
What is your favorite lunch for one? Is there something special you make just for you? A rainy-day trick you have to make the world seem a little bit brighter? … get the recipe
I have always been intrigued by the idea of canning and I LOVE the rustic charm of mason jars. Last summer, I bought 10 lbs of heirloom tomatoes with the intention of jarring up the bright red taste of warm summer days. Upon reading Ball’s canning instructions, I gave up on my plan fearing there was too much room for error. As time marched on, my wariness of canning grew, but so did my varied collection of mason jars.
This holiday season, I stared down my canning fears. I resolved to finally can, and in doing that, I’d preserve the essence of the holiday. Though I’d missed out on those summer tomatoes, now it was the season to combat cold by catching warmth itself, trapping it in glass, and giving it as a gift.
At the farmers market, I found comice pears- still firm, speckled green and brown, smelling wet and sweet. A few stalls down, I was greeted with the bright and woodsy scent of apples and my mouth began to water. Though countless varieties were piled high upon the market stall, my eyes immediately jumped to a basket brimming with red fruit whose shoulders kissed by the sun, glowed yellow- the gala. Apples and pears, every day fruit, comforting and familiar would be transformed into an exotic, heady, winter chutney.
- 3 lbs comice pears, peeled, cored and diced into ½ inch pieces
- 2 lbs tart crisp apples, peeled, cored and diced into ½ inch pieces
- 2 cups
… get the recipe
The holidays don’t have to be a stressful cooking time. You can make these simple recipes in a flash- or make ahead of time and just relax and spend precious time in with your family and friends. Of course, you can act belabored and harried and hide in the kitchen too.
Here are my top 5 easy and delicious holiday appetizers. You could make these hors d’oevres for any occasion like Christmas, New Years, or any cocktail party and just coast through the soiree.
5 More Simple Ideas For Holiday Appetizers
- Cook pre-made fig jam with sage leaves, mix chevre with a bit of honey, and pile crostini up with cheese first, jam next, and a slice of prosciutto.
- Steam frozen prawns with water scented with cilantro and lime, chill and chop into small pieces, mix with avocado chunks, lime, chilies, and salt and serve in lettuce cups.
- Turn French onion dip on it’s ear! Caramelize shallots and mix with creme fraiche and sea salt and watch people fight to dip just about anything in this delicious concoction.
- Make a grown up cheeseball. Mix gorgonzola with high quality deli cream cheese. Roll around in chopped dried figs and roasted chopped pecans.
- Top store-bought puff
… get the recipe
eco.love wine is one of the coolest wineries in the world. They are the very first carbon-zero winery which means they are committed to sustainable farming practices, they use the most environmentally sound bottles and inks, and they’re helping to restore the wetlands around their vinyard.
The McBride sisters, Robin and Andrea, run the winery. They generously donated wine for my Thanksgiving celebration and I was thrilled to do a wine pairing for them for the Winter Holidays as well.
The Riesling from eco.love is made from grapes grown in the Nelson and Marlborough region of New Zealand. At first whiff, I get citrus and flowers and upon drinking I’m met with bright flavors of fruit with a hint of spice and a nice acidy finish. I was immediately struck with the idea to make a Riesling and thyme caramel and the rest of the appetizer just came together from there.
- INGREDIENTS FOR PUFF PASTRY SQUARES
- 1 package of frozen puff pastry (I like the Trader Joe’s Brand and French Picnic- the Pepperidge Farms uses hydrogenated oils)
- 1 firm, but ripe pear- cut into tiny matchsticks
- Gorgonzola cheese for slicing
- ½ cup walnuts chopped
- INGREDIENTS FOR RIESLING AND THYME CARAMEL
- 1 cup of eco love Reisling
- ½ cup of organic WHITE sugar
- large sprig of fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces
- good quality sea salt to taste
- INSTRUCTIONS FOR CARAMEL
- Dissolve sugar in the Riesling over a medium-high flame in a small, but heavy
… get the recipe