Back in the Kitchen and Out Again

After realizing how much money I had been spending on lunch everyday, I decided to let go of my aversion to microwaved leftovers and start making my own lunches.  Starting off with roasted chicken was probably a bad idea.  Should have stuck to spaghetti.  I hadn’t done any major cooking from scratch in months and trying to butcher my own chicken after such a hiatus was a mistake. Those knives hadn’t been used for much else besides chopping kale or cutting the plastic seal off a tub of salsa.

Not only did I mangle that poor chicken, I also managed to stab my finger and that took a while to stop bleeding. Oy, I could have used a refresher on butchering from Joe.  Chicken turned out decent though and any blood I might have spilled was absent from the finished product.  I tried out Trader Joe’s organic brined chicken instead of the regular stuff and realized that I shouldn’t have strayed. The brine had too many strong, sweet flavors that doesn’t marry well with much else and with such things, you can’t really gauge the quality of the chicken or how long it’s been hanging around the refrigerated section.  This one tasted like an old-timer.

However I was reminded again of why I don’t cook so often anymore.  That’s a lot of chicken for one person to eat and it’s going to last at least four meals which gets old quickly.  And I can’t always pawn it off to the Slumlord (but I will this time).  Until I remember to halve my recipes in the future, I’ll probably go back to being a regular at the taco truck.

Trial Thanksgiving 2011

We call it Trial Thanksgiving. In name only, it’s a dress rehearsal for the actual day. In practice, it’s an excuse to get together with friends who are for all intents and purposes a family as well as to try out new recipes.

In the past few years, we’ve settled on a division of labor.  Tsunami de-bones the turkey with surgical precision and the Dr. makes sticky rice stuffing and bakes the turkey.  Cupcake and Ice Cream Guy provide dessert (obviously).  I make traditional stuffing and gravy because for me, that is an essential part of Thanksgiving.  All the guests bring their own signature dishes to complete the table.

This year’s turkey was dubbed the “Turpiggen” because it was stuffed with sticky rice and…

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In the Season: Simple and Delicious Salads for Fall

My latest lunch obsession is a little hole in the wall on Ritch street called Darwin Cafe.  No bigger than a shoebox and more crowded than the 30 Stockton during the lunch rush, this place churns out plate after plate of simple yet incredibly tasty food.  Two dishes I love from their menu are the Kale and Radicchio salad and the Persimmon and Pomegranate side salad they serve with their sandwiches. Since all of the star ingredients are in season right now, I had to take a turn at making the salads in my kitchen.

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Afternoon Tea Party

I recently hosted an afternoon tea for a few of my girlfriends so we could while away a beautiful fall afternoon with savory treats and warm conversation.  Unlike the expansive displays at tea houses like Lovejoys or Samovar, all you need are a few sandwiches and scones to create a lovely meal and everything was easy to put together.

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Sweet Scoop: Behind the Scenes of Demi Pêche Calendar 2012

February's Persian Love Cake with Rosewater Buttercream

The Droolworthy 2011 Calendar

My friends Joe and Madelene collaborated on a gorgeous dessert calendar for Demi Pêche last year filled with original recipes from Joe and beautiful styling and photography by Madelene. The first venture was such a success that they decided to do another calendar for 2012 with new recipes that Joe had been developing all year.

They invited me to the photo shoot and I was happy to take some behind the scenes pictures and help them figure out what to do with all those delectable desserts once the shoot was done.  It was the first time I had ever watched a food photo session come together from plating to scene styling. The process was detailed and meticulous yet the outcome seemed so effortless.  Every berry, every orange segment, every sprinkle of nut was carefully placed and tweaked for maximum effect and the results were drool worthy.

If you’re wondering whether the desserts tasted as good as they looked, I can definitely vouch for their deliciousness, particularly February.  Be sure to grab a copy of the 2012 calendar when it comes out to try these recipes out in your own kitchen! You can subscribe to Demi Pêche’s news feed here.  For more pictures from the shoot, visit my flickr page.

Easy Summer Peach Crumble

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I’ve been starved for time lately with the new job and all. But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to starve my sweet tooth.

This easy dessert took just 25 minutes to prep and cook!

All I did was to slice up one ripe peach, add a teaspoon of small tapioca pearls, and throw on a crumb topping I had made last week and kept in the freezer for days like this.  This sweet little thing sat in a 350 degree oven (pre-heated) for 20 min and now will make its way to my happy belly!

P.S. The tapioca pearl addition is a trick my friend Beth taught me. It helps to stabilize the juices without the muddled taste of cornstarch.

An East Coast Lunch

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The Slumlord brought back some corned beef tongue from Zabars after returning from a quick trip to NYC.  I was initially skeptical but the tender slices of meat quickly won me over.

For lunch today, I made a corned beef tongue sandwich on Jewish rye bread from the farmers market with some slices of Armenian cucumber that I had quickly pickled in vinegar, sugar, salt, and dill.  Dessert was a slice of cheesecake from Juniors.

I miss New York.

Peach Canapé with Cowgirl Creamery Panir, Basil, and Honey

Despite the Bay Area’s mellow year round weather, nothing can sustain the all too fleeting presence of perfectly ripe peaches and plums at our local farmers’ markets during the summer.  Around this time of year, you can always find me at the farmers’ market cradling a bag of peaches under one arm and impatiently winding my way through the throngs of people so I can get my charges safely home.

I didn’t always love peaches this much.  As a child, we used to play stone fruit roulette at the supermarket produce section. You never knew whether the fruit you bought would be juicy and bursting with flavor or bland and mealy. The odds were stacked against us and more often than not, we lost our money to the house.  As a result, I disliked peaches until one summer in my teens when my family took a road trip to Ventura County.

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Nutty Piggies: Maple Glazed Bacon Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Unless you’ve been in a food coma for the past few years, you can’t have missed the trend of bacon as dessert that’s been front and center of many a blog, food mag, and tv show.  Perhaps this fascination with bacon and sugar has been around for a while, but personally, I feel like the use of bacon as a dessert ingredient really became part of the mainstream when Richard Blais wowed the judges with his bacon ice cream on the finale of Top Chef Season 4.  Guest judge Eric Ripert made no secret of his desire to steal the recipe for use at Le Bernadin and true to his word, bacon ice cream was on the menu when I dined there Fall 2008.  After that, I feel like the pig just went on a roll and hasn’t stopped since with bacon showing up everywhere and worshipped by addicts in all its forms — bacon donuts, bacon jelly, bacon cupcakes, chocolate covered bacon…you get the drift.

Yet with all that sweet love for bacon, there are surprisingly few bacon-based cookie recipes out there on the web.  To that end, I decided to solve the problem myself by dreaming up some Nutty Piggies (Maple Glazed Bacon and Pecan Shortbread Cookies).  Can you tell that I love puns?  The inspiration came from a favorite breakfast meal of pancakes with maple syrup and crispy strips of bacon. That combination of salty, sweet, and buttery was ideal for a bacon based cookie.

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Something to Drool Over


The Texas Board of Education would have been proud of me. You see, I spent all of Saturday slaving in the kitchen cooking for friends. The proper place and vocation for someone of my gender.

Babyfigs hosted the party to commemorate the first anniversary of The Spain Trip, a vacation so epic that it deserves a definite article, capitalized and in italics no less. Eager to recreate the culinary landscape that devoured us last year, Babyfigs, Cupcake and I prepared an ambitious menu.

On the list were gambas al ajillo, empandas de atun, tortilla, pan con tomate, croquetas, pulpo a la gallega, sangria, and even home made churros con chocolate. The endeavor took hours and there were some incidents including a broken bowl and copious tears shed over pungent onions.

Ever the consummate kitchen dwellers, we managed to pull off everything except for the pulpo which unfortunately, retained a flaccid texture that was highly unappealing. I had such high hopes for that one monster tentacle. The picture of the tortilla is courtesy of Cupcake.