christmas stollen

as you finish your holiday shopping and last minute running around before Christmas this friday, maybe you'll have some time to bake this yummy holiday bread. we did our baking before we headed west for warmer weather and to see family, but this recipe was a hit. it takes some time with the rising and resting but is definitely worth it for two beautiful braided loaves filled with dried fruit. the recipe is adapted from martha stewart's traditional xmas bread in the december issue. happy holidays to all our readers and hopefully we'll have some time to post from our CA and AZ adventures before the new year.

Christmas Stollen
makes 2 loaves

5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk, warmed
5 oz unsalted butter, melted
1 tbs plus 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz raisins
6 oz dried cranberries
1 cup applejack or brandy
1/3 cup crystallized ginger
zest of 1 orange
confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)
whisk together flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. stir in milk and melted butter. add dissolved yeast and eggs. turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. combine raisins, cranberries and applejack in a small bowl and soak until plump, about 15 minutes. drain well and add to bread, with ginger and orange zest. continue kneading for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if dough is too sticky. transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1-2 hours. punch down and divide into 6 equal pieces. roll each piece into a 15-inch long log. braid 3 logs together and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. repeat with remaining 3 logs. cover and let rise until doubled, about 2 more hours. preheat oven to 350 degrees F. bake stollen until golden brown, 36-40 minutes. let cool completely on a wire rack and dust with confectioner's sugar before serving. enjoy!


chocolate bark

it's homemade holiday treat time! this is such an easy candy to make - no boiling sugar, no candy thermometers, no complicated ingredients - just good quality chocolate and mixed nuts. for this recipe we used what we like and what we happened to have in the pantry - but use a combination of whatever you please. break it into pieces and wrap it up in a pretty little tin or glass jar to give to friends and family this year for a simple handmade treat. enjoy!

Chocolate Nut Bark
makes 2-3 gifts

12 oz dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 cups mixed nuts such as pistachios, almonds & hazelnuts

melt chocolate in a double boiler, stirring often, until smooth. once melted, remove from heat and stir in 1/3 of the mixed nuts. spread evenly on a parchment lined 9x13-inch baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining nuts. refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. break into pieces and keep at room temperature for about a week.



the holidays are here! we had a fabulous thanksgiving with friends filled with way too much good food & wine, julian plenti live & late night bowling here, this exhibit at moma and a cozy winter meal with everyone here. this recipe from last year was a big hit again but we added a third cheese and a little bacon to make it even more decadent! another hit were the homemade bloody marys we sipped while playing dominoes to work up an appetite in the afternoon. after reading this article in the ny times and finding an old recipe in saveur, i decided about a month ago to try making worcestershire sauce from scratch. it turned out delicious and was the perfect addition to the best bloody mary mix from bon appetit. this drink would be a great addition to your new year's day football watching - just don't forget the mean beans.

Worcestershire Sauce
makes 2 cups

2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
3 tbs salt
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp curry powder
5 cardamom pods, smashed
3 chiles de arbol, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 stick cinnamon
2 anchovies
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs water
combine all ingredients except sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. meanwhile, cook sugar with water in a skillet over medium-high heat until it becomes dark and syrupy. add caramelized sugar to vinegar and whisk to combine. cook sauce for 5 minutes more and transfer to a glass jar. let cool, cover and refrigerate for 3 weeks. after 3 weeks, strain to remove solids and return to jar. refrigerate for up to 8 months.


vegetarian dinner

we try to have a vegetarian dinner once a week in our house, which doesn't always happen or isn't always very exciting, but last night it was! needed something quick and easy to go with broccoli & cheese soup and realized that i had a few zucchini and some spinach that needed to be used. so that turned into a delicious zucchini and gorgonzola tart! for dessert i made these cookies - great recipe but trouble because we can't stop eating them!! also anxiously waiting for a cute grey slouch hat to arrive from here discovered via mrs. french. excited to have visitors for the holiday arriving soon and can't wait to get cooking - went here this morning for smoked trout for a dip. also on the menu - cornbread, sausage & apple stuffing, susy's spinach souffle, two kinds cranberry sauce, andy's mashed potatoes, both pumpkin and pecan pie . . . and of course herb roasted turkey with applejack gravy. happy holidays & see you next week!

Zucchini Gorgonzola Tart
serves 6-8

1 cornmeal crust, recipe here
1 tbs olive oil
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise & then into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
2 tbs chopped parsley
2 tbs chopped basil
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 egg, beaten
6 oz mascarpone cheese
blind bake cornmeal crust according to instructions and let cool slightly while making filling. heat olive oil in a medium skillet and saute zucchini and garlic until softened, about 8-10 minutes. set aside in a large bowl. in same pan, adding more olive oil if needed, saute onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. add spinach and saute 1 minute more or until wilted. add to bowl with zucchini and combine with herbs, cheese, egg and mascarpone. pour into prepared crust and bake at 375 degrees F 25-30 minutes or until set. let cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and eat warm or at room temperature.


preserved lemons

preserved lemons were a typical moroccan ingredient i'd heard about but wasn't familiar with the taste until now. seeing them while wandering through the isles of this amazing market sparked my interest and then i found a recipe to easily preserve them at home in an old issue of gourmet. ok, now i've got a beautiful jar of opaque sliced lemons, what do i do with them? roast a chicken and make a relish sounded like a good plan to me! this salty tangy herb salad would be great on grilled fish or roast lamb as well - an easy way to dress up any protein. they also add great flavor to soups and salads and will be good in your refrigerator, covered in their juices and a little oil, for about a year.

Preserved Lemons & Relish

6 lemons
2/3 cup kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1 shallot, finely chopped
5 slices of preserved lemons, rinsed & rind only, pulp discarded
bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch whole lemons for about 5 minutes, then drain. when cool enough to handle, cut each lemon into 1/4-inch thick slices, discarding the seeds. toss lemons with salt in a bowl and then pack lemons and salt into a glass jar. add enough lemon juice to cover sliced lemons completely. cover with a tight fitting lid and let stand at room temperature for 5 days, shaking gently once a day. after 5 days, cover with a little olive oil and refrigerate.
to make preserved lemon relish, combine cilantro, parsley, mint, shallot and diced rind in a small bowl. add a few tbs of olive oil to moisten the mixture and a little black pepper. stir to combine and serve at room temperature. enjoy!


fall starter

here's a quick salad that you can throw together to impress dinner guests that is much more sophisticated tasting than it is difficult to make. the combination of sweet pears and maple syrup is offset by salty gorgonzola cheese and smokey bacon - yum! try it with different combinations of cheese, nuts and firm fruit for an ever changing fall starter. is anyone else getting excited for Thanksgiving next week? we have friends coming from santa barbara and boston and can't wait to start cooking - it's definitely the best food holiday of the year.

Fall Pear Salad
serves 2

2 ripe firm pears, such as bosc or anjou
1 green onion, sliced
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbs maple syrup
3 tbs hazelnut oil
approx. 1/4 cup olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
core pear with an apple corer, trying to keep pear whole. slice into 1/8-inch thick rounds and combine in a bowl with green onion, bacon, cheese and hazelnuts. in a small bowl, combine lemon juice, maple syrup and hazelnut oil. slowly whisk in olive oil, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. toss salad with dressing, plate and garnish with pepper. enjoy!


coffee & chocolate

chocolate & coffee is one of those perfect combinations. so when i came home from a recent job with some really nice chocolate and saw this recipe while going through old magazines, i knew exactly what to do - run out and buy some haagen-dazs coffee ice cream immediately! this mocha caramel sauce is from a 2006 issue of gourmet and is definitely worth the few extra minutes it takes to make caramel and melt chocolate for an amazing homemade dessert. i'm sure it would be great poured over any flavor ice cream but coffee was just the thing for us. enjoy!

Mocha Caramel Sauce

1 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/8 tsp salt
in a small bowl, stir together cream and espresso powder. cook sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. continue to cook, swirling the pan gently, until a deep golden caramel color. remove from heat and let sit 1 minute. very carefully pour in espresso cream - mixture will steam and bubble. then cook over low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. add chocolate and salt and cook until sauce it smooth. serve warm or at room temperature.

short ribs & polenta

as the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, our bodies start to crave warm satisfying comfort food. for us, it doesn't get any more comforting than braised short ribs with creamy polenta. we were tempted to do another short rib ragu over pasta but decided this was just as easy and satisfying. the recipe calls for the braise to be done in a dutch oven on the stove top and then in the oven for 3 hours but you could probably make it work in your slow cooker as well - either way, this dish will fill your home with a wonderful aroma! make your polenta according to the directions on the bag but be sure to stir in some extra butter, parmesan cheese, mascarpone and salt for a real treat.

Braised Short Ribs
serves 4

3 lbs. beef short ribs
smoked sea salt & fresh ground pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
5 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbs honey
preheat oven to 300 degrees F. season short ribs generously with smoked salt & ground pepper and heat oil in a medium sized dutch oven. add short ribs, brown on all sides and remove. add apple, onion, celery, garlic and thyme and cook 6 minutes. add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes until it deepens in color. add wine, chicken stock, vinegar and honey and bring to a boil. add short ribs, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. cover and transfer to the oven, braising for 3 hours and turning halfway through cooking.
remove short ribs from the pot and set aside to cool slightly, meat should fall off the bone. strain the sauce into a large bowl and refrigerate to solidify the fat. when the meat is cool enough to handle, shred and discard the bones. skim fat off top of sauce and use just enough of the sauce to moisten the shredded meat - serve shredded meat warmed over creamy polenta. enjoy!


grape crush

concord grapes are still in season and covered in bees at the local greenmarket. we've seen lots of great inspirations of how to use them around town - jellies, sorbet and a wonderful cocktail at Gramercy Tavern. we used these delicious seasonal grapes last year in an amazing grape tart. this year we decided to try a cocktail, The Grape Crush. make the grape concentrate and simple syrup ahead of time and keep it in the fridge so you can whip up a cocktail whenever you feel the urge! hope everyone has a great weekend and a happy halloween!

The Grape Crush
serves 1

2 oz Hendricks gin
1 oz fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
1 oz grape concentrate, see recipe below
2 tbs lemon simple syrup, see recipe below
4 oz soda water
in a cocktail shaker, combine gin, lime juice, grape concentrate, simple syrup and ice. shake well and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. top with soda water, stir and enjoy.

Concord Grape Concentrate
1 lb concord grapes, stems removed
2 tbs lemon juice
combine grapes and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over high heat. cook, stirring frequently, until grapes release their juices, about 7 minutes. strain through a fine mesh sieve and cool completely.

Lemon Simple Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1-inch zest of lemon
combine sugar, water and lemon in a small saucepan over high heat. bring to a boil and cook just until sugar is dissolved. remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. discard lemon zest and let syrup cool completely.



this recipe is an adaption of a brittle i discovered in an old issue of gourmet that i found when we were going through stacks of magazines before we moved. we are so disappointed in conde nast's decision to shut the doors of gourmet magazine and will definitely be missing our monthly inspiration, the stunning images and beautiful recipes. this brittle is a play on granola and gathers a lovely rich flavor from the combination of butter, oats and nuts - play with the combination to add your own favorite granola elements.

Maple Granola Brittle

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. on a baking sheet, spread out oats, almonds and sunflower seeds. toast for 15 minutes or until oats are pale golden, stirring often. transfer to a bowl and toss with dried cranberries.
line a baking sheet with a nonstick liner such as a silpat. in a heavy 5 quart saucepan, cook brown sugar, maple syrup, juice and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches 290 degrees F on a candy thermometer. stir in butter until melted and quickly add oat and nut mixture. immediately pour onto sheet pan and cover with a sheet of parchment. roll out brittle as thin as possible with a rolling pin. carefully peel off parchment and discard. cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. break into large pieces and enjoy! can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


two years

just a quick hello today as we are out & about celebrating our second wedding anniversary. my how two years has flown by since that amazing fall day in santa ynez. so many beautiful images to browse through from our fabulous photographer, jose villa. so many great memories and a big thank you to all our family & friends for sharing in such a special day!


spicy mustard

as promised, here is that spicy stout mustard that goes perfectly with all your fall comfort food - sausages & sauerkraut, homemade pretzels, warm toasty sandwiches, etc. who knew mustard was so easy to make? when we moved, we got to start fresh with a fridge empty of all condiments and thought it would be fun to try making most of the typical sauces from scratch. this is a nice grainy mustard with some kick but the flavor will mellow out the longer it sits in your fridge. enjoy!

Spicy Stout Mustard
makes 3 1/2 cups

1 12 oz bottle Guinness Extra Stout
10 oz brown mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbs honey
1 tbs salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
combine all ingredients in a nonreactive mixing bowl. cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 days. transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and puree, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. process until most of the seeds are coarsely ground and mixture thickens. transfer to jars and refrigerate for up to six months.


pork & more pork

fall is here! our favorite time of year for so many reasons but especially for the food. we've been dreaming of warming soups and stews. choucroute garni is an amazing Alsatian dish revolving around sauerkraut and pork, mmm. there are many specific ingredients that are supposed to be in the dish to make it authentic but we decided to put in what we had and what we like. it also involves making a bouquet garni, which sounds fancy, but is really just a combination of herbs and spices tied up in a cute bundle. make sure to serve this feast with a lovely spread of various mustards, pickles or picked vegetables, boiled potatoes with melted butter and your favorite imported beer or a glass of white wine. check back soon for a spicy homemade mustard recipe that would be a fun addition as well. enjoy!

Choucroute Garni
serves 8

3 bay leaves
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1/2 lb thick cut smoked bacon, cut in half
2 onions, cut into wedges
1 lb smoked pork butt, sliced 1-inch thick
4 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
375ml dry white wine
4 smoked pork sausages such as kielbasa
4 veal and pork sausages such as bratwurst
place bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and fennel seeds in a small square of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with kitchen twine. heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. add bacon and cook until crisp and most of the fat is rendered. remove and set aside. add onions and cook 5 minutes until translucent. add pork butt and sauerkraut and fill with white wine. bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes. using the tip of a pairing knife poke a few holes in each sausage to prevent them from bursting. add to the dutch oven with the reserved bacon, cover and cook until heated through, about 20 minutes. heat a large skillet over medium high heat and transfer sausages to skillet. cook about 5 minutes per side or until nicely browned. drain sauerkraut and arrange on a serving platter. add sausages, pork butt and bacon and serve.


french toast

things have been so busy! we missed posting on our year blog anniversary - can't believe how quickly a year of posting went by and we really love all the new friends we've made. also want to wish the "pictures" of pictures & pancakes a happy belated birthday - we had a wonderful new york day wandering the city, enjoying a cup of Stumptown coffee at the new Ace Hotel, a lovely dinner here and cocktails here.

other than that, we've been on a little french toast kick . . . does two sunday mornings in a row qualify as a kick? i think so. there are some amazing bakeries in this city and i actually just worked on a bread cookbook (details to come) with two amazing women - photographer susie cushner and stylist randi brookman harris. baked my buns off (hee hee) for 5 days straight but fell in love with carbs again. french toast is such a quick easy treat - change the recipe to make it your own with different breads, spices and sauces and let me know what your new favorite combination is! we used this blueberry sauce which is also great on pancakes. enjoy!

Brioche French Toast
serves 2

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 slices brioche loaf, 3/4-inch thick
confectioner's sugar & butter for garnish
in a baking dish, combine eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon and salt. place 2 slices of brioche in mixture and let sit for 2 minutes or until bread soaks up some of the liquid but is not soggy. turn over and heat a griddle over medium high heat. cook each slice for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. repeat with remaining slices. serve with a light dusting of confectioner's sugar, softened butter and blueberry sauce.


the big apple

we're back!! it's been so long we almost forgot how to post, sorry. just to update, if you care, our move went pretty well for the most part and we are thrilled to be living in manhattan. it's amazing and every day we have to pinch ourselves to make sure this is all really happening. love our apartment, love our neighborhood, love the greenmarket, love our butcher, love exploring the city and getting used to a new way of life. we've had LOTS of fun foodie adventures so far - visit to murray's, pinot gris, warm olives and hard boiled eggs here, great sandwiches from Defontes, shacks (BLT & shake), and a great waffles from these guys. new york is amazing!! have seen lots of gorgeous plums at a few local greenmarkets and had to make something that reminded me of home - my mom's plum kuchen. it's also great with apples - perfect for fall! changed the recipe a bit to use whole wheat pastry flour and muscavado sugar (cause we had it) but they both add a nice bit of depth to the treat. enjoy & we're glad to be back!

Plum Kuchen

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 cup muscavado or brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs unsalted butter, cold & cut into chunks & 2 tbs melted
1 egg, beaten
1/8 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups sliced plums (or tart apples)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup sugar
preheat oven to 400 degrees F. in a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. cut in butter with a fork or fingers until coarse. add egg, milk and vanilla and stir with a fork until combined. spread batter evenly and very thin in bottom of a lightly greased 8-inch square baking pan - wet fingers or spatula to help spread evenly. arrange sliced plums (or apples) in rows over batter. drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are brown and crispy. let cool before slicing.



apologies again for the lack of posting in the past weeks. it's kind of difficult to cook and create recipes when our kitchen is wrapped tightly and packed in boxes - sheet pans, knives, props, camera gear, computers, everything! lots of changes ahead - we're moving from the beautiful beaches of santa barbara to the urban city of manhattan and we couldn't be more excited! moving is definitely stressful and it was very strange to see all our belongings pull away without us in a big moving truck. as soon as we get settled in our new digs, one trip to the union square greenmarket will surely inspire us and we'll be right back on track. see you soon!



we know it's been an entire week since our last visit but we really can't believe how quickly this week has flown by! lots going on and unfortunately, little time for cooking, baking and creating recipes. getting ready for a huge garage sale tomorrow since we are moving across the country in about 2 weeks - very excited but a little overwhelmed at the moment. our house, and kitchen, is overflowing with boxes and piles of stuff to sell, stuff to store and stuff to move - it's amazing to see how much junk we've accumulated over time! we had a cookie craving this morning and decided to make a bunch of these little gems to nibble on as we pack. who doesn't love nutella?! well, how about nutella sandwiched between two round buttery hazelnut cookies? um, yes please. when baking with hazelnuts, you usually toast them and remove the skins first. well, today i didn't have the patience to do that and the cookies still turned out fabulous, good to know. if you don't have any nutella in your pantry, these would be great sandwiched with your favorite jam or jelly as well. have a great weekend!

Hazelnut & Nutella Sandwich Cookies
makes about 36 cookies

1 cup hazelnuts
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup nutella or jelly
in a food processor, grind hazelnuts until they are finely ground but not clumping together. in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. add vanilla and combine. add flours, salt and ground hazelnuts and stir until well combined. divide the dough in half and press each half into a flat disk. wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. remove one of the dough disks from refrigerator and let soften slightly. roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until about 1/8-inch thick. using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out dough and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. gather scraps and continue to re-roll until all the dough is used, returning briefly to refrigerator if the dough becomes too soft. bake cookies 14-16 minutes or until the edges begin to brown slightly. cool completely and sandwich with 1 tsp desired filling. enjoy!

frozen treat

sometimes we forget how simple it is to make homemade ice cream and sorbet and what a special treat it really is. this buttermilk sorbet is originally from a martha recipe for a rhubarb float which we'll have to try another time - instead, i adapted the recipe and folded in ripe fresh cherries for a sweet & tart combination. did anyone see this great article from the new york times magazine back in april? it got me on a serious buttermilk kick! have a great weekend and treat yourself to something cold, rich and creamy.

Buttermilk Sorbet
makes 1 quart

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbs corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cherries, pitted & halved (or other ripe fresh fruit!)
in a small saucepan, combine sugar with 1 cup water and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves. let cool completely. whisk together cooled simple syrup with buttermilk, cream, corn syrup and vanilla. freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. transfer to an airtight container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving.


french macaroons

macaroons are one of those delicate french pastries that make a beautiful display at a fancy patisserie but something i never thought of tackling at home. remember when i mentioned that we are going through years of old magazines and ripping out recipes and inspiration? well, leave it to martha stewart to have a great french macaroon recipe. you can read her recipe here which is basically what i used but with a few variations for flavors and fillings. they turned out beautifully and it was such a fun adventure! piping perfect circles took a little practice and unless you are a naturally patient person, make sure you attempt this recipe on a day when you feel especially patient. even if they don't turn out perfectly round and pretty, they'll still taste wonderful! i used the basic recipe to make three different flavors - pistachio with chocolate ganache, chocolate with lingonberry jam & espresso with caramel - check out martha's recipe for even more variations.

Pistachio Macaroons
makes about 35

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup finely ground slivered almonds
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
pulse confectioner's sugar, pistachio flour and almond flour in a food processor until combined. sift mixture and if not fine enough to go through, grind again in food processor or spice grinder. whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. increase speed to high and whisk until soft peaks form. reduce speed and add sugar. whisk until stiff peaks form and then fold in flour mixture. preheat oven to 300 degrees F. spoon batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. pipe 3/4-inch rounds about 1-inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. let macaroons stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or until a light crust forms. bake on upper and lower third racks until crisp, rotating halfway through, about 22-26 minutes. cool completely on baking sheets to harden bottoms and remove carefully with a spatula.
meanwhile, bring cream to a boil over medium high heat. pour over chocolate in a heatproof bowl and let sit 2 minutes, covered with a small sheet pan. remove cover and whisk until smooth. let cool and slightly harden before assembling cookies.
sandwich two same size macaroons with 1 tsp chocolate ganache and serve immediately. can be stacked between layers of parchment, wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to three months.


oscar mayer

just saying hi on this hot southern california day.  it's a little too hot to turn on the oven, but maybe it will inspire a new drink of the week.  we'll keep you posted on that front.  we came across the oscar mayer wiener mobile last week on the same day mr. mayer died.  if you're craving hot dogs, maybe this time you can enjoy one as a tribute to a classic!?!  this hot dog on wheels feels like the perfect polaroid inspiration, almost like the camera was made to photograph the vintage feel of the mobile.  enjoy your summer monday & we'll see you soon...


almond cherry cake

the last time we were in los angeles, i took a little excursion to one of my favorite stores in culver city - surfas! it's a very dangerous place because i can't leave without spending under $100 and it takes at least an hour to wander around the aisles looking at all the great supplies and ingredients, tasting cheeses and grabbing lunch. i discovered a great almond paste made in CA by these guys and even though i had nothing in mind to bake, i knew i had to get it. this recipe is adapted from the almond pound cake recipe on their website - i love the rich moist flavor almond paste adds to pastries and thought it would pair nicely with sweet ripe cherries. a slice of this cake would be an especially sweet treat with a pot of coffee for breakfast - enjoy!

Almond Cherry Cake

5 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
16 oz natural almond paste
zest of 2 lemons
5 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup cherries, pitted and cut in half
confectioner's sugar for dusting
preheat oven to 325 degrees F. with an electric mixer, beat together butter, olive oil and sugar until fluffy and combined. add almond paste and lemon zest and beat until smooth. beat in the eggs one at a time. add flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. fold in cherries. pour batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan and bake 40-45 minutes or until center is set. cool in pan for 20 minutes, remove and cool completely on wire rack. dust with confectioner's sugar to serve.


hippie salad

today we are taking a healthy turn with a little hippie salad. quinoa has been gaining popularity and is a very beneficial grain but can sometimes be a little boring. in this easy salad we've added tons of flavor and fresh summer vegetables to liven things up. we rarely call for store bought products in our recipes but this salad utilizes trader joe's roasted garlic hummus to create a quick "dressing" - feel free to make your own hummus if you're feeling adventurous! and throw in whatever summer veggies and herbs you happen to have on hand. enjoy!

Quinoa & Carrot Salad
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
2 carrots, peeled and made into ribbons
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 ripe avocado, pitted and cut into chunks
3 tbs roasted garlic hummus
3 tbs fresh basil, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 lime, juiced
salt & pepper to taste
in a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well to coat evenly.


pictures & pickles

our post today is inspired by many different sources - momofuku ssam bar, farmer's market and old magazines. on our recent trip to nyc, we had a great plate of pickled vegetables at ssam bar and tasted some ingredients i'd never think of pickling! farmer's market on sunday was beautiful but all i could think of was which vegetables could bath in vinegar, salt and sugar when we got home. we've also been going through years of old magazines to recycle and ripping out loads of recipes and photo inspiration - food & wine, gourmet, domino, the list goes on and on. but i found a fun recipe for david chang's sweet & sour pickles in an issue of Food & Wine from 2007 and adapted it for this recipe. the brine works for almost any veggies you'd like to pickle. enjoy!

Pickled Veg
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 cups daikon root, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 cup carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 pickling cucumbers, sliced 1/-inch thick
combine water, sugar, salt and vinegars in a pot and bring to a boil. simmer until sugar and salt are dissolved and remove from heat. arrange prepared vegetables in clean glass jars and cover with hot liquid. let cool to room temperature, seal and refrigerate overnight or up to two weeks.


crab & corn

as promised, here's a little appetizer that will go perfectly with our pretty in pink cocktail! sweet corn is nice and ripe right now and a great friend to big lumps of crab, a squeeze of lime and a hint of spice in these crab & corn cakes. serve them as an appetizer with some homemade meyer lemon aioli or make it a light refreshing meal with two cakes and a little salad of mache, avocado and grapefruit. 

Crab & Corn Cakes
makes 10 cakes

1 lb lump crab
3 ears corn, white or yellow
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
3 green onions, chopped
1 egg
juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for garnish
2 tbs fresh chopped cilantro
1 tbs dijon mustard
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sambal chili garlic paste
olive oil for frying
drain crab well and place in a large bowl. cut kernels of corn off cob carefully. use the back of the knife to scrape some of the "milk" and bits left on the cob and combine with crab. add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. form 2 1/2-inch patties with your hands and place on a sheet pan. refrigerate for 20 minutes. heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and carefully add a few cakes, not overcrowding the pan. lightly pan fry cakes for 2-3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. remove any corn kernels that fall out from the pan while frying, as they will jump and pop. let rest on paper towels, repeat with remaining cakes and serve immediately. enjoy!


pretty in pink

here's a bright refreshing cocktail for you since the weather seems to be warm everywhere now. this drink is inspired by something similar we had before dinner here and is kind of a ramped up greyhound proper, one of our favorite go-to beverages. a splash of aperol gives it a unique flavor. it's an italian aperitif we've been seeing more of lately and is also a great addition to a glass of champagne. enjoy this cocktail on a sunny patio or rooftop deck with friends and check out a crab & corn appetizer recipe here on friday that would go perfectly. cheers!

Pretty in Pink
5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
2 oz gin
1.5 oz aperol
5 drops bitters
combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. pour over ice into a highball glass and serve.


the big apple

back from a busy but great week in nyc! we had a little rain, a little sun and a lot of great meals. we had a fabulous lunch at momofuku ssam bar which included steamed pork buns (of course!) and amazing pork scrapple with thick cut bacon, a perfectly poached egg and a little salad of frisee and mizuna on top - unreal!! another great lunch was had sitting at the bar of gramercy tavern for a late afternoon cocktail and delicious pulled pork sandwich. we had an amazing dinner at locanda verde in the greenwich hotel - the garlicky fava bean crostini and homemade ravioli were great but the best part of the meal was dessert - a scoop each of malted milk chocolate and rice custard gelato. another highlight of the meal was meeting jeffrey steingarten, food critic and author, and his lovely wife at the bar after dinner. can't wait to go back again for more foodie adventures!


natural beauty

we are having a very busy week but wanted to say hi and leave you with something pretty to look at! the two polariods are from this trip to napa & sonoma last fall, when persimmons were growing and leaves were changing color. remember this sneak peek? well, the berry recipes i developed are in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times as well as a beautiful beach picnic article i styled and this lovely lady shot - check it out & have a happy holiday weekend!



even though there isn't much booze in them, these are popsicles for adults only! limoncello is an italian liqueur made with loads of fresh lemons and traditionally served after dinner as a digestivo. we used to think all limoncellos were equal, until we tasted this one from just down the coast in ventura - it's vibrant and fresh like no other we've ever sipped. these popsicles would be a perfect after dinner refreshment on a hot summer night - the texture is similar to sorbet and they melt rather quickly so don't linger too long. enjoy!

Limoncello Popsicles
makes 10

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup limoncello
1 cup fresh lemon juice
in a small saucepan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar dissolves. remove from the heat and let cool. add limoncello and lemon juice and stir to combine. pour into popsicle molds and freeze for an hour. insert popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.



ribs are something we have wanted to make for a long time, but they always seem to be something that we figure are always gonna be better at a bbq joint somewhere in the south.  but this week, we decided to give it a try.  these pork ribs are made with our spice rub and a homemade bbq sauce.  we think they can be great on their own, but we think the combo of the two is heavenly.  we decided to go the route of not smoking, just a little time in the oven and a few minutes on the grill.  we thought they were amazing, but let us know what you think.

BBQ Pork Ribs

dry rub
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs smoked paprika
1/2 tbs cumin
1/2 tbs instant espresso 
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
in a small bowl combine all ingredients.

bbq sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup applejack
1/8 cup dijon mustard
2-3 tbs hot sauce
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs butter
1 tbs cider vinegar
in a stock pot melt butter, add garlic and onion and cook until onions are translucent.  add all other ingredients into pot, and bring to a boil.  lower heat and cook 10 minutes to combine flavors, stirring every minute or so.  with a emulsion blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.

pork ribs
2 lbs pork babyback ribs (a little over or under 2 lbs is fine)
1 12 oz. beer
remove the white membrane on the back of the ribs.  sprinkle the ribs with the spice rub and work into entire rack, top and bottom.  place rib rack into roasting pan and pour beer into bottom of pan.  cover with foil and cook in oven for 2 hours at 300 degrees.  remove from pan and place on bbq grill at medium heat, top side up.  slather on bbq sauce and flip to other side and slather on more sauce.  repeat for 10 mins flipping and slathering frequently.  remove from grill, cut and serve with side of bbq sauce.  


roasted grapes

apologies for the lack of posting last week. having a cold in june is no fun at all! at least in the winter you can bundle up in a cozy blanket on the couch with a cup of hot tea and watch holiday movies - but in the summer, it's warm and uncomfortable inside, tortuously sunny outside and there's nothing on tv worth watching but old reruns of top chef and real housewives of where ever. but we are feeling better and ready to cook! this tart is a random creation born out of buying too many beautiful red grapes. the flavors are mostly savory with a hint of sweetness from the roasted grapes and a little wintry with the addition of thyme. perfect for lunch with an arugula salad and a glass of viognier!

Roasted Grape & Shallot Tart

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
3-4 tbs ice water
preheat oven to 375 degrees F. in a food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal and salt to combine. add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. add ice water while pulsing, just until dough comes together. press evenly into a 10 1/2 x 7-inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom. chill 20-30 minutes or until firm. blind bake using foil and pie weights or rice for 12 minutes. remove foil and bake for 5-8 more minutes.

1 cup red seedless grapes
4 shallots, peeled & sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 small bunch fresh thyme
2 tbs olive oil
8 oz goat cheese, softened
1/2 cup ricotta
1 egg
1/4 tsp lemon zest
salt & pepper
combine grapes, shallots and 5-6 sprigs of thyme on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. roast at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until grapes are shiny but not wilted. remove thyme and set aside. in a small bowl, combine goat cheese, ricotta, egg, lemon zest, salt and pepper. spread evenly in baked tart shell and top with roasted grapes and shallots. bake 20-25 minutes or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned. garnish with a little fresh chopped thyme and fresh cracked black pepper. enjoy!


cherries, blackberries & goat cheese

we love all the fresh sweet fruit that comes along with the summer months ahead and really love baking with it. i rarely bake with cherries though - even with the best intentions, i end up eating the whole bowl before they make it into anything as an ingredient! amazingly we had some leftover cherries from farmer's market earlier this week and i was just thinking of what to make when the July issue of martha stewart living arrived in the mailbox. perfect timing! since i can't ever follow a recipe, i changed things up a bit - added blackberries, crumbled goat cheese between the layers and substituted whole wheat pastry flour for the all purpose. the outcome is delicious and we've already put quite a dent in the cake since it came out of the oven. a word to the wise - buy a cherry pitter! it will make life, or at least baking with cherries, so much easier. and put an apron on because that cherry juice goes everywhere!

Cherry Blackberry Crumb Cake
(adapted from July 2009 Martha Stewart Living)

For the topping
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbs unsalted butter, cold & cut into small chunks

For the cake
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cup mixed cherries and blackberries, pitted & cut in half
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. grease a 9-inch square baking dish. make the topping by combining flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. work in butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers until it resembles a coarse meal and set aside. to make the cake, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. beat in eggs and vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl. working in batches, add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. beat until combined and pour into prepared pan. spread out evenly with a spatula. cover cake with cherries and blackberries and then evenly distribute crumbled goat cheese. sprinkle with crumb topping and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean. let cool before cutting.


crisps & crumbles

rhubarb is a such a wonderful summer ingredient - i love the tart tangy flavor it adds to fruit and it makes a perfect pair with vanilla ice cream. i got one of these in the mail recently and it's a whole new taste of rhubarb! i tend to prefer crisps to cobblers or pies. well, i'd definitely eat and enjoy any of them but making a crisp couldn't be simpler - just combine fruit and sugar, sprinkle a crumbly mixture on top and pop it in the oven! the combinations of fruit are endless and you can use this recipe all year long with whatever fruit is in season - apple & currant, nectarine & blueberry, cherry & blackberry. but you have to top it off with this great haagen-dazs flavor i just discovered and help save the bees while you're at it!

Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp
serves 2

1 pint raspberries
2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
preheat oven to 375 degrees F. in a small bowl, combine raspberries, rhubarb, zest, juice and granulated sugar. toss together and put in a greased 1-quart baking dish. in another bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cardamom and salt. add butter and cut in with a fork or use your fingers to combine until mixture resembles a coarse meal. sprinkle evenly over fruit. bake 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and lightly brown on top. enjoy!


tea time

if you haven't noticed, summer is here! summer solstice is around the corner, stone fruit is ripe and sweet, and evenings are warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a cocktail. so we came up with a tasty beverage that you can sip all summer long - perfect for picnics, bbqs, the beach or just lounging in your backyard or front porch. hope you enjoy this spiked peach tea as much as we did! on a non-alcoholic note, check out this great new website for moms and kids - i'll be a regular contributor in the nourish section and already have a pizza party article running.

Spiked Peach Tea
serves 8

8 darjeeling tea bags
1 lemon, sliced
4 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups peach vodka, such as absolut apeach
1 cup simple syrup
3 peaches, pitted & sliced
10 sprigs fresh mint

in a pitcher, steep tea and sliced lemons in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. remove tea bags and lemons and cool completely. stir in vodka, simple syrup, peach slices and mint. serve over ice.


palm springs

you probably won't feel sorry for us, but it's a tough transition back from the hot sun of the palm springs desert to the june gloom of the southern california coast! here are a few images from our amazing, relaxing, way-too-short, sunny, fun weekend. the top two images are from part one of the weekend which was spent hanging out with great friends around the pool, drinking cuba libres and playing lots of dominoes. the two polaroids on the bottom are from our little retreat to the Parker Palm Springs which was spent sleeping in the cold air conditioning, eating the most amazing blueberry pancakes for breakfast and getting a good dose of Jonathan Adler design. we're ready to go back next weekend!


the greek burger

for the final entry of our unofficial burger week, we decided to go with classic mediterranean flavors. it's like a lamb kebab and a greek salad together on a bun and we call it the greek burger. it was so much fun coming up with different out of the box burger recipes that we're thinking we will definitely need to post more of our creations throughout the summer, so stay tuned. we are off to the hot sun of palm springs for the weekend - have a great weekend!

The Greek Burger

cracked wheat bun
ground lamb patty with crumbled feta
cucumber, yogurt and mint tzatziki
thinly sliced red onion
mache or arugula
sliced tomato (optional)


the pig burger

when planning out a burger week, i think we might have had a list of choices twelve to fourteen deep.  when narrowing them down, we had a discussion about whether a burger has to be beef or if the only suitable substitute is turkey or veggie.  we came to the conclusion that if its ground, it can be a burger.  well, to a point i guess.  here we wanted to bring a variation of a sort of pulled pork sandwich, but with a burger twist.  in our minds we nailed it, but it is all up to personal interpretation.  again we just have a list of what we had involved, but feel free to add and take away as you wish.

The Pig Burger

onion bun
honey mustard
ground pork and chorizo patty (2 parts pork, 1 part chorizo)
thick & sweet bbq sauce
sweet dill pickle slices


all american

happy memorial day everyone!!!  since it looks as though the entire editorial world is burger happy these days, we decided to do a little burger week here at pictures & pancakes.  today is a great day to kick it off with all the grilling going on, and we thought it fitting to have our all-american burger be the first.  a simple, juicy burger to satisfy your bbq needs.  we are also experimenting for the first time in a long time with a friend's 4x5 camera - thanks megan.  it couldn't be more fun, i think i just fell in love with photography all over again.  so this week will feature 4x5 images of different burgers.  we hope this inspires you to eat and fall in love with something of your own!

The All-American Burger

sesame seed bun
thousand island dressing
thick sliced beefsteak tomato
ground sirloin patty, seasoned with salt & pepper
sharp cheddar cheese
applewood smoked niman ranch bacon
caramelized onions


maple almond popcorn

in keeping with the easy snack theme of the week, we decided to whip up some of our favorite salty & sweet treat - maple almond popcorn! this popcorn is similar to caramel corn but much easier and we've substituted maple syrup for traditional sugar. feel free to sprinkle the finished product with even more salt to up the salty & sweet factor. this stuff is dangerous though - once it's cooled, we can't stop eating it!

Maple Almond Popcorn

4 cups popcorn
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt
in a large bowl, toss popcorn and almonds together. prepare a sheet pan by lining it with foil and lightly oiling. in a small sauce pan, melt butter. add maple syrup and bring to 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer without stirring. quickly pour over popcorn and mix well with an oiled wooden spoon to coat evenly. spread the mixture out on prepared sheet pan and let cool before breaking into pieces. enjoy!


quick & easy

everyone needs a few simple but beautiful go-to appetizers to throw together at the last minute. or a little something to nibble on with a nice glass of sauvignon blanc when 5 o'clock rolls around. these are two snacks we've been making lately. the white bean dip is a nice change from hummus, which we love but eat way too often. it's always a good idea to have a few cans of cannellini or garbanzo beans in the pantry for just such an occasion! mixed olives are so easy and available everywhere and this is a nice way to make them a little more unique. enjoy!

Marinated Olives

10 oz mixed olives in brine
4 kumquats or 1 small tangerine, sliced
4 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup olive oil
drain olives reserving a few tablespoons of brine. in a small bowl, mix olives with sliced kumquats, rosemary and olive oil. refrigerate for 2-6 hours and bring to room temperature before serving.

White Bean Dip

15 oz cannellini (white kidney beans), drained
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 green onions, chopped
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
in a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, green onions, parsley and vinegar and pulse to chop. with processor running, slowly add olive oil and puree until smooth and creamy. adjust seasoning with salt & pepper to taste. serve with assorted vegetables and crackers for dipping!



we were inspired to make cupcakes when we saw these adorable paper liners from martha stewart crafts at michael's recently. almost too precious to use! we love most flavors of cupcakes - chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, coconut - but one of our favorites is definitely carrot cake. we even had them at our wedding! this carrot cake cupcake has a traditional cream cheese frosting (my favorite part) but a few nontraditional additions like banana and chopped candied ginger. hope you like it as much as we do!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
makes 1 dozen

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded carrot, about 4 carrots
1 ripe banana, mashed
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. in a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. in another bowl, combine eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla . add carrot and banana and stir until smooth. mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened and combined. fill lined muffin cups about 3/4 full, using all the batter. bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. let cool completely before frosting.

cream cheese frosting

8 0z. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
with an electric mixer, whip cream cheese and butter together until combined. add vanilla. add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl. use frosting immediately.



i grew up in a house that holds many different food traditions and some of them happen to be danish. frikadellers are danish meatballs and common in most scandinavian countries - if you've ever been to ikea, i'm sure you've seen the swedish meatballs in the frozen foods near the lingonberry jam, creamed herring and that awesome soft serve ice cream! we make frikadellers every christmas eve but i was recently reminded of them in gourmet's may review of this cookbook which sounds great. has anyone gotten it yet? i think everyone probably makes their frikadellers a little differently but this is my favorite way - enjoy them with some boiled red potatoes and chopped dill!

Danish Meatballs

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 egg, beaten
1 small red onion, diced
1 tbs ground cardamom
4 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
lingonberry jam for garnish
in a large bowl, combine beef, pork, egg, onion and cardamom and season with salt and pepper. form into small balls about the size of walnuts, rolling them between your hands. heat 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs oil in a skillet and fry the meatballs in batches, turning to brown on all sides. transfer the cooked meatballs to a small sheet pan and set aside. continue to fry, adding remaining 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs oil, until all meatballs are cooked. add remaining 2 tbs butter and melt. whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes until golden brown. remove from heat and very carefully add 1 cup water (pan will bubble and splatter). return to the heat and whisk in sour cream and season with salt and pepper. add meatballs and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until sauce thickens and meatballs are cooked completely. serve frikadellers with sauce, lingonberry jam and boiled potatoes. enjoy!


happy mother's day

our second post for mother's day comes from the same amazing woman who gave us mom's famous chili recipe. my mom is a wonderful cook and always let me help in the kitchen growing up - i think i owe a lot, if not all, of my passion for food to my grandmas and mom. growing up in arizona, there were plenty of hot summer days that my mom didn't feel like turning on the oven or cooking at the stove. this salad is part of a vivid memory of dinner on those 115 degree days, right out of the pool, sitting at the kitchen table with my mom and dad in the cold air conditioning. the original recipe is from this classic cookbook but my mom put a few of her own improvements on it. it's refreshing, crunchy and wonderful! enjoy & happy mother's day on sunday to all those great woman out there.

Chicken Chow Mein Salad

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cups bean sprouts
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 5oz can chow mein noodles
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup snow peas, sliced
in a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, soy sauce and ginger. refrigerate until ready to dress. in a large bowl, combine bean sprouts, chicken, noodles, green onion, bell pepper and snow peas. toss with dressing to combine and serve immediately.


moms days

since mother's day is coming up, we had an idea pop into our heads - why not get our moms to pick their favorite recipes they cooked for us growing up. they are after all the reason why this blog works so well. they were our teachers and early enablers. as they flipped through recipe boxes, lots and lots of tasty memories came floating to the surface.  one dish that came to the forefront of my (andrew's) culinary memories was my mom's unreal mint bars.  it's a little bit cake, a little bit chocolate and a lot of taste.  it reminds me of mint chip ice cream flavor, in a nice bite-sized hand held treat.  it's been a long, long time since i tasted these, but they are really amazing, simple yet amazing.  

chocolate mint bars
makes about 28 bars

for cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 16 oz. can chocolate syrup
mix all ingredients together in stand mixer with paddle attachment.  preheat oven to 325 degrees.  pour into 9x13 baking dish.  bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  let cool to room temperature.

for peppermint filling
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 tbs milk
1 tsp peppermint extract
about 3 drops green food coloring(use to desired mint coloring)
whip all ingredients together in stand mixer with whisk attachment.  spread onto cooled cake. allow to set, about 1/2 hour.  

for topping
4 tbs unsalted butter
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate 
melt butter and chocolate in a small pan over low heat stirring constantly.  pour over top of peppermint filling.  Let cool. we like to put them in the fridge or freezer and eat cold.  


lavender and orange

little delights should be a part of everyone's day.  whether sneaking of a bite of chocolate or a kiss from your kids as they go off to school, i think we can all agree that the more smiles on your face per day really make it better.  we would like to think that these cookies fall into that little bit of goodness to brighten your day category.  light and flaky, subtle but addicting, we think these cookies are the perfect part of any coffee break in your downtime. but be careful, this subtle delight can turn into major delight if you keep the whole bag of cookies within reach.

lavender & orange shortbread
makes 22 cookies

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lavender
1/2 tsp orange zest
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
in the bowl of an electric mixer w/ the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar.  add flour, salt, lavender and orange zest.  mix until this forms a ball.  put in fridge for 20 minutes. preheat oven to 350 degrees. between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out dough until a thickness of a 1/4 inch thick.  place dough on a sheet pan and back in fridge for 20 more minutes.  with a 2" round cookie cuter, cut round cookies and place on an ungreased sheet pan.  when all cookies are cut out, use remaining scraps of dough to form new ball and return to fridge for 20 minutes, roll out and repeat.  place cookies in oven for 18-20 minutes or until slightly browned.  transfer to wire rack and let cool.


spring rolls

we're experiencing some warm humid weather in southern CA today and it's making me think of hawaii, the beach and anything tropical. this is a nice light dish, simple to prepare and easy to impress. there are plenty of fried spring roll recipes out there, which i consider an egg roll, but these vietnamese spring rolls use tapioca sheets and plenty of fresh crunchy vegetables. they are easy to make ahead of time and keep in the fridge wrapped in a damp paper towel until you're ready to eat. rolling takes a bit of practice but once you get the hang of it, it's a lot of fun!

Chicken Spring Rolls with Sesame Peanut Dipping Sauce
makes 12 rolls

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
14 oz light coconut milk
2 keffir lime leaves, bruised
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
2 carrots, peeled & julienned
1 persian cucumber, julienned
3 green onions, julienned
1/2 cup micro greens
1 small bunch cilantro, leaves only
6 large tapioca sheets
1 cup sesame peanut dipping sauce (see below)
in a small saucepan, combine chicken breast with coconut milk, lime leaves and 14 oz water. bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked. cool completely and shred. fill a large rimmed sheet pan with 1/4-inch warm water and dip 1 tapioca sheet in the water for a few seconds until it softens. carefully lay wrapper flat. in a row slightly below center and about 1-inch from the sides, place a small handful of chicken. then layer with a few strips of bell pepper, carrots, cucumber and green onions and top with a little of the greens and cilantro leaves. bring bottom of wrapper up and over filling, then fold in sides tightly and roll upward until sealed. repeat with remaining ingredients and sheets and slice in half with a sharp knife. serve with dipping sauce.

Sesame Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup water
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs lime juice
2 tbs creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp chili garlic paste
combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend.


baby pancakes

i've always been partial to fancy bite-sized appetizers that go well with a nice glass of champagne. blinis are traditional Russian buckwheat pancakes and great with caviar - lucky for me and my pocketbook though, i don't love caviar. but i DO love baby pancakes and the endless number of tasty toppings you can think of! a great snack to bring to a wine tasting party, an easy way to impress friends for the start of a dinner party or a fun kid-sized treat, blinis can go sweet or savory depending on your mood. here's a basic blini recipe and two quick toppings to get your imagination going!

Sweet or Savory Blini
makes approx. 16

6 tbs buckwheat flour
6 tbs all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs, separated
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking
optional: herbed goat cheese & soppresatta or lingonberry jam & creme fraiche
in a bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. add milk, egg yolks, lemon zest and cooled butter and whisk until smooth. in a separate bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. fold  egg whites, 1/2 at a time, into batter until incorporated.
heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and melt 1 tbs butter. cook 1 tbs of batter until little bubbles begin to form on top and then flip, about 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown.


salty & sweet

have you ever noticed that the best and most loved cookbooks in a collection usually include oil stains, chocolaty fingerprints, and stuck together pages? we've mentioned this amazing cookbook before and if you haven't already added Baked to your library, you really must! it's well on its way to being covered in gooey sweet deliciousness and is one of our favorites for creative baking. their signature salty & sweet cake was the grand finale of urban family easter and was a huge hit. we devoured it so quickly that we didn't even think to take a photo of the whole cake! guess, we'll just have to make it again sometime. the combination of chocolate, caramel and fleur de sel is absolutely amazing. you can watch matt lewis bake the sweet & salty with martha way back in 2006 here. does anyone else have a favorite recipe they've baked from this great cookbook yet?


beef, it's what's for dinner

looking back on recent posts, we realized that we haven't shared many beef recipes. with weather warming up, bbq season fast approaching and cinco de mayo just around the corner, we thought this simple marinade for easy & fresh carne asada tacos sounded perfect. you are welcome to throw in some sour cream, pico de gallo or any of your favorite taco garnishes but we wanted to keep this recipe basic and fresh, just like the delicious tacos we get at our local taqueria or taco truck. enjoy these tasty tacos on a warm afternoon with good friends and a great margarita!

Carne Asada Tacos

for the carne asada:
1 1/2 lbs flank steak
1 red onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1 chipolte chili in adobo, chopped
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs olive oil
place flank steak and all remaining marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag and massage to evenly distribute flavors over meat. refrigerate for minimum of 1 hour and up to 6 hours. preheat grill or grill pan over high heat. grill steak approximately 3 minutes per side, or until center reaches 145 degrees F, for medium doneness. let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

for the tacos:
1 1/2 lbs grilled & sliced carne asada
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1/2 onion, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, pitted, peeled & sliced
1-2 limes, cut into wedges
to assemble taco, place a few slices of steak in warmed tortilla and top with avocado, onions and cilantro. squeeze generously with juice from lime wedges.