Chocolate, it’s been used as a currency, an aphrodisiac, and a medicine. The ancient Mayans held it so dear, they took it to their tombs with them. Today, Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year. We are eating more and more dark chocolate especially because of its health benefits like high anti-oxidants and the possibility that it could lower blood pressure. Oh, and it tastes so freaking amazing.
I am thrilled to be working with Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in their Be an Intense Supporter Program. During the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Ghiradelli will donate $50,000 plus one dollar from each specially marked package of Intense Dark Chocolate to the National Breast Cancer Fund- up to $100,000! Like many of you, cancer has affected the lives of many of the women I love. Some, like my best friend, have beaten it, others like my mother and her dear friend Linda have lost their battles. When Ghiradelli approached me with the opportunity to help raise awareness, and do it though chocolate and wine, I knew there was no better way to celebrate these women!
This Saturday, I will host a chocolate pairing party featuring four of my favorite Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolates, some amazing wines, cocktails, and some outstanding parings both sweet and savory. You can also join in the fun with your own pairing party. Wine expert Leslie Sbroco, of Thirsty Girl and host of Bay Area Check Please, has come up with some suggestions- one … get the recipe
I am in the midst of a move, which means I’m packing boxes, cleaning house, and sneaking in my writing time just about whenever I can. Cooking, however, has just not been on the list of priorities. This is partly because I’m so incredibly busy, partly because I am ready to say goodbye to my old kitchen with it’s funky stove, mismatched 80’s tile and hideous cabinetry (one cabinet actually has $25 marked in grease pencil high in the corner). I am so ready to move into our new 1940’s era house which still has it’s 1940’s era tile (turquoise and black!!), even the paper lining the shelves in the cabinets is adorably vintage and in great condition. New appliances are on the way, AND I got to pick them out and contributed some extra money to upgrade them.
This house is so perfect for us. In the past, when I’ve closed my eyes, and pictured a home, it looks like this, with light streaming in from all sides. With mouldings that feature little details like swag bows. With skylights all over and a basement for hanging charcuterie and keeping my home canning projects! With a big garden (well, pile of weeds which will soon be a garden). With plenty of space for Joshua to work on his various projects but not be too far away like he was in our last house. It’s just perfect.
But back to the present… take out! In the form of sushi, dim sum, … get the recipe
I often wonder what it’s like to live the life of a full time food-writer. Would I wake up in the morning, flip open my calendar to see it chock full of assignments and exciting travel? Would I look over notes from my editor as I sipped my morning cup of maté. Could I generally take my time answering emails until I’d walked the dog and fed the chickens? Yes, in my full-time food writer fantasy, I have chickens.
As it stands now, I write two-three pieces a week for The Tomato Tart, two per month for Mission Local and I’ve just been bumped up to two per week for Treehugger’s Green Wine Guide (starting September 1). I also work a pretty cool full-time job for an amazing company which I am fortunate to actually love.
Still, it was fabulous when, on Fourth of July weekend, I had the full-on fancy pants food writer fantasy fulfilled. Thanks to my amazing friend Steven Holt of The Ritz Carlton Northern California, I was treated to a behind the scenes kitchen tour and three-hour brunch at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. Previously, I had only enjoyed cocktails and Bellinis at this ocean-front hotel, but the brunch at their restaurant Navio has a fantastic reputation so I was really excited to sit down and eat as well as get a good behind-the-scenes peek at their kitchens.
The day could not have been more perfect. Anyone who is familiar with the California … 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
I created this recipe to serve with toasted ciabatta for my friends’ wedding. It is so simple to make and so delicious, that I will be making this over and over again. I love the combination of tomato, ginger, & kumquat with the spicy kick of chilies at the end.
For a quick, simple, & elegant appetizer, cut store bought puff pastry into bite-sized squares (I love the ones from Trader Joes or French Picnic) with a bit of cream cheese and a dollop of the jam and cook according to package instructions.
This jam would make a great hostess gift for the holidays. I love that it covers gluten-free and vegan guests or gift recipients. One thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely be canning a big batch this summer when tomatoes are bountiful again.
- INGREDIENTS FOR JAM
- 4 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 cup of thinly sliced kumquats
- 1 hot chili finely minced or cayenne or habenero powder(optional)
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- INSTRUCTIONS FOR JAM
- smush 1 cup of cherry tomatoes over a plate or bowl to catch all of the juices leaving the rest of the tomatoes whole
- add all ingredients to a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat
- lower heat and allow to simmer until thick and jam-like. About 1 hour and a quarter to an hour and a half.
- allow to come to room temperature before serving
Saturday and Sunday mornings are everyone’s favorites, of course. Sleeping in, Saturday morning cartoons, and big yummy breakfasts… I can recall pancake breakfasts from my childhood with so much fondness, and I always loved pancakes for dinner. I always feel so luxuriant when I make a special breakfast, especially during the week, so when I recently started working from home on Wednesdays I knew I had to do a pancake breakfast for Joshua and I.
When I started thinking about what sort of pancakes I wanted to make, my imagination started running wild, but when I looked in the refrigerator, I realized I had no milk and no buttermilk. It was also pouring rain. Running out into the downpour would have put a cramp on my “stay-in-my-pj’s-all-day” style.
What I did have in my fridge was Greek Yogurt which I knew would make a rich, dense, and super creamy yet slightly tart and highly textured corn meal pancake. These hot cakes are the perfect canvas for a maple orange zest butter (which incidentally tasted just like creamsicles). This is a great rainy-day breakfast to eat while hanging with your sweetie while still in your PJs.
- Cornmeal Pancakes
- 2 cups Whole Milk Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
- 1 cup medium ground organic cornmeal
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 heavy pinch sea salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Maple Orange Butter
- 1 stick of organic butter
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- zest of 1 large orange
- Throw everything
… get the recipe
My honey had been working all weekend on his feet keeping a rather famous Buddhist nun safe from harm. The building where she was teaching was on the San Francisco Bay- an old Ford assembly plant. It was beautiful- all windows and incredibly high ceilings 40+ feet if I had to guess. All weekend it had been cold, rainy, and just blustery- a huge departure from the sunny Indian summer we’d experienced the week before.
While I’d enjoyed the teachings of Pema Chodron, the aforementioned Buddhist nun, on Saturday, I opted to stay home on Sunday and be domestic. I wanted to have something warm, toasty and super comforting for my hubby when he got home from work. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are his favorite, but I was looking to create something that was a bit more nourishing. So, here they are my steel-cut oatmeal chocolate chip muffins (and loaf cake too) with crunchy sweet topping Yum!
- 1 ¼ cups quick cooking steel cut oats
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 4 tablespoons ground golden flax seeds
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- ¾ c whole wheat flour
- ½ c unbleached flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Soak oats in milk salt and vanilla for 20 minutes
- Add oil, egg, and mix thoroughly
- Mix flours, flax, baking powder, ½ of pecans, ½ of chocolate
… get the recipe