Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moroccan Magic Anyone?

Oh happy day! My new Williams-Sonoma catalog came the other day. While perusing the mouth-watering contents, I was excited to see their new collection of spices. Sold individually or in themed sets such as "Butcher's Spice" or "Baker's Spice", the selection is vast. I was happy to see some very unique spices included. One even brought a meal back under my radar.

It was quite some time ago that I watched Tyler Florence make a drool-worthy Moroccan meal that included chicken under a brick with apricot couscous and a Grilled Zahtar Flatbread. I never quite got around to trying it because Zahtar is not a spice you see very often in your friendly neighborhood market. But having seen it being offered at Williams-Sonoma, this recipe is quite high on my "to-make" list. I love breads of any kind, and it never hurts to spice it up a little.


  • 1 pound store-bought pizza dough
  • Olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons za'atar
  • Salt


Preheat grill pan. On a well floured surface, roll or pat the dough into a rustic, oblong shape, about 1/4-inch thick. Brush the crust with a thin layer of olive oil, and dust liberally with za'atar. Lay the oiled side down onto the hot grill. Once the dough looks set, in about 2 minutes, lightly brush with more oil, dust with za'atar and turn the crust over. Sprinkle with salt. Cut into large wedges and serve while warm.

Looks simple enough. I have to say, I haven't sampled Moroccan flavors before, so this will be a new adventure for me. Only the oven timer will tell...

Zahtar Spice

Monday, July 19, 2010

Broccoli Boring? Never!

Let's be real. We all know there are tons of broccoli haters out there. And there may be even more people who are like me: not a broccoli hater, but not a broccoli lover either. For us, broccoli is, well you know, blah. But once again, thanks to Ina, it doesn't have to be.

If you've ever watched The Barefoot Contessa, you know that Ina could probably make fish eyeballs look like the most delicious thing on Earth. Okay, that may be a tall order, but she would get you thinking about trying it. So when I saw her make her delicious Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli, I knew if I didn't like this dish, I would never find anything else to make broccoli taste amazing. As suspected, this recipe delivers.

This broccoli dish has entered our vegetable rotation for good. It is easy, and it takes a bland vegetable and makes it one that you can't stop eating. Trust me, I've caught myself shoveling this broccoli into my mouth like it was going out of style. Then I've laughed at the notion that broccoli would ever be the type of food one would shovel into their mouth. Try it for yourself...


  • 4 to 5 pounds broccoli
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets.

Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot. 6 servings.

My Recipe Notes:

  • The first time I didn't have pine nuts, so I made it without. I've made it several times since then with pine nuts, and while the taste difference isn't Earth-shattering, texture freaks like me will realize that pine nuts included are the way to go for a great crunch against the soft broccoli.
  • The garlic burned the first time I did this. Now I am very careful to make sure that my garlic chips lay on top of the broccoli, and not on the baking sheet. I set the timer for the lower time-20 min. Check a little bit before that just to make sure. I've had perfect, golden garlic chips ever since.
  • My husband and I half the recipe for just the two of us, but I hate measuring , so really I just eyeball everything. This combination of flavors is not ruined by not having exact amounts. A little of this, a little of that, makes it taste just great!
  • Fresh lemon juice and zest is crucial. It takes this from being a good dish to an amazingly bright- flavored dish. Don't skip or skimp!
The Glamour Shot (It's actually not much to look at, but don't let that fool you!):

I'm ready for my closeup Mr. De Mille...

Be careful with this one all my chic chefs! This could be the first time you have people fighting over the broccoli at dinner (I'm not opposed to throwin' elbows. Just sayin').

Glamourous Clothing? Yes Please!

The lovely Roxy at Effortless Anthropologie is hosting a wonderful giveaway for a $250 gift card to Anthropologie. Cue the heavenly ray of sunlight and chorus of angels. Check it out for a chance to win. Roxy does a lot for the Anthro community, so if you are an Anthro lover like me, you need to check out her blog!

Friday, July 9, 2010

One Bengal, Many Spices: A Love Story

Well, there's my cat Cavalli. Isn't it great that even my pets are foodies? She's quite an interesting creature in many ways. One way in particular is her love for spices and fresh herbs. I'm wondering if anyone else's cat has this same trait.

I will admit that Cavalli is a recreational catnip user, so I'm sure it has something to do with that, but she is seriously in love with our cooking herbs and spices. When we have them out on the counter, and we happen to look away, you will soon hear the sound of spice containers being knocked down. She loves to rub her face all over the bottles, to the point where you feel a little uncomfortable watching such an intimate scene. It's that intense. I find that Chili Powder in particular is her spice of choice. Out of the fresh herbs, thyme seems to be her biggest weakness. I wonder how many other cats out there have a secret (or not so secret) love affair with herbs and spices.

On a side note, we discovered that Gusteau is not without his secret crushes. For him, it's fresh corn on the cob. He is known to be a beggar, but he usually doesn't ever bother us while we're cooking. But last weekend, while Chris was husking corn over the sink for grilling, he went nuts. Gusti sat behind him and cried, growled and grunted. He couldn't take his eyes off the corn. Weird. It's the only food he's ever done that with.

What about your pets? Do they have a food love that dare not speak its name?

Cute and Practical

Don't you love catalog days?! The other day, some of my favorite catalogs all came on the same day: Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, CB2, and yes, even Anthropologie. The mail gods have smiled upon me! I spotted a couple great finds that would come in handy for any chef/eater.

From Crate and Barrel, I loved the Sprout Serving Collection with its quirky retro pattern. I always find that I am lacking when it comes to serving pieces, so I'm always looking for more. These would fit perfectly with my kitchen colors as well. A serving bowl, platter and trivet are available. The Cucina dishtowel also continues the fun vibe of the pattern, and brings some cheeriness into the kitchen.

ut Serving Collection

Cucina Dishtowels

From Williams-Sonoma, I spied their Artichoke Jute Market Tote. At a sale price of $9.99 it was a steal and super cute, but alas, they were sold out. Not that I needed it anyways, because I already own the regular version of the tote. I will say that even though you can't get the artichoke pattern, I absolutely love my Jute Market Tote. It is very large, and perfect for trips to the Farmer's Market (even when you accidentally leave it in the car, and you don't realize until you're at the first booth like last weekend. Who would do that?), or when I need to carry a bunch of stuff to work. You can even get yours personalized with a monogram. I have used mine a ton, and at $19 for my plain one, I have definitely gotten my money's worth.


Monday, July 5, 2010

What's for Dinner?

Oh that dreaded question. We were faced with it once again this evening. Where we live, temperatures in the summer frequently reach 100 degrees or more. As you can imagine, it's hard to get excited about a complicated, heavy meal. Today we needed a light and quick meal, so as usual, I got some inspiration by exploring Food Network recipes. Ina has never let me down, so I typically look to her ideas first.

What caught my eye was her Provencal Tomatoes. Juicy summer tomatoes stuffed with fresh breadcrumbs and herbs. The verdict: a new favorite in our household. This recipe was light, full of flavor, and incredibly easy! I have always thought that stuffed dishes seem more involved and complicated for some reason. With my husband's help, our prep time was only about ten minutes and we were ready to bake. Even the baking time was quick! Fifteen minutes and dinner was ready. This is a great way to enjoy some fresh tomatoes from your local farmer's market, and something you can throw together, even after a long day at work.

Here's the drill:


  • 6 ripe tomatoes (2 1/2 to 3-inches in diameter)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • Good olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the cores from the tomatoes, removing as little as possible. Cut

them in half crosswise and, with your fingers, remove the seeds and juice. Place the tomato halves in a baking dish.

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, scallions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle the tomato halves generously with salt and pepper. With your hands, fill the cavities and cover the tops of the tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture. Bake the tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until they're tender. Sprinkle with the cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 30 seconds more. Serve hot or at room temperature.

My Recipe Notes:

  • I sprinkled a little Fleur de Sel on top after these came out of the oven for extra flavor.
  • The cheese was not quite brown enough after the baking time, so we popped them under the broiler for a couple minutes.
  • Some reviewers mentioned the breadcrumbs were dry (most likely store-bought breadcrumbs were used), but I followed directions and made fresh breadcrumbs in the food processor. I did not find it dry at all.
  • Fresh herbs are a must.
  • We made this our main course, and this fed two of us perfectly (we had smaller tomatoes). As a side dish, this would easily feed four. We paired this dish with a small pesto focaccia that we love from our farmer's market (made by Beckmann's Bakery in Santa Cruz).
  • It states on the Food Network site that Ina's recipe was inspired by Julia Child. Ina Garten and Julia Child? How can you go wrong with that?
The before:

The after:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life's Simple Pleasures

As someone with a very hectic and stressful job, it is easy to forget to enjoy the small moments that brighten your day. I've become more cognizant of these moments in recent years, and many of them have come from my new-found love for cooking: the bright colors of fresh produce,the aroma of garlic in the air, how a homemade stew warms you to your core on a cold day.

Then, there are other moments that make you happy. For me, walking Gusti on the trail behind our house gives me time for quiet contemplation. Taking a deep breath as the perfect breeze cools my face is exhilarating. It makes me feel like I can conquer the world. There is no better feeling.

Despite the fact that I love and crave glamour in my life, I have come to realize that sometimes it can be found in the most unexpected places. Here is my little piece of glamour today that brought a smile to my face...

A lone sunflower on the walking trail...

What are your simple pleasures?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Powerhouse Pantry

Woman's Day

As I finished my first book of the summer (a re-read), I got to looking through my collection of books for what to read next. I came across one that I scored at Target (I think) quite by accident one day. It looked cute, and it was cheap. I read it a couple years ago, and haven't looked at it since, but I was reminded of what a fun summer read it was. The book is city chic by Nina Willdorf, and it is a perfect reading choice for any chic chef.

As the cover proclaims, it is the "modern girl's guide to livin' large on less." This book has so many great ideas on how to live glamorously (don't we all want that?) while saving your budget from utter ruin. From home decorating, fitness, entertaining, cooking, and shopping tips, a girl can have a little luxury, and not feel remorse about breaking the bank.

One thing in particular that this book did for me, was lay the groundwork for my eventual love of cooking. Now that I cook frequently, I of course find lots of pantry lists in my cookbooks. But before that, I never knew just how vital it was to have a well-stocked pantry. This cute pink book actually showed me my first pantry staples list, and I became determined to have these things on hand. Since I used to be one of those people that never cooked, I know that when you actually do look at a recipe, it can be overwhelming to see that you need 25 items. I can honestly say, that with a well-stocked pantry, my husband and I are still surprised to this day when we look at a challenging recipe, and we only need 3 or 4 items. It gives the home cook a great feeling of ease and confidence to know that you are ahead of the game. It gives you so much flexibility and versatility in what you can make, even if you're trying to throw together a last-minute meal. Of all that I have learned in cooking over the years, the concept of a powerhouse pantry is still the greatest piece of knowledge I have attained.

And just for fun, here are some of my most-used pantry staples:
  • Olive Oil (I use this almost everyday in some capacity)
  • Some other kind of oil (we like Vegetable)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Soy Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Chicken and/or Beef Stock
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes (I found a grocery store that sells the San Marzano brand!)
  • Onions (I like yellow, and sometimes I'll keep 1 or 2 small red onions, but I don't use them as much)
  • GARLIC (Well, you know how I feel about this one. Honestly, I would bathe in garlic if I could. Sorry. Too much?)
  • Black Peppercorns for fresh grinding, and two kinds of salt: Kosher, and some type of coarse sea salt (I keep two sea salts on hand: Maldon and Fleur de Sel)
In the Fridge:
  • Cheese (All different kinds, but especially Parmigiano Reggiano for grating)
  • Lemons (Never realized how important it was to have lemons on hand! Great flavor brightener!)
  • Tortillas (So versatile)
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter (My husband laughs at me because I have to have "stick butter" and "tub butter.")
  • Dijon Mustard (Nice tang to it, and used by me frequently in salad dressings. Great for marinades too!)
  • Fresh Herbs (Love them! Especially Basil!!)
  • Truffle Butter (a new one for me, but adds a touch of elegance and decadence to many dishes.)
As it happens, almost all of these items are also featured on the city chic pantry list. I have more pantry items, and so does the book, but just wanted to give you a sneak peek!


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Littlest Sous Chef

Let me just put myself out there again and tell you that naming my pets is quite an involved process. I am slightly over-the-top in this respect. Rather than just listing names I like, I create an entire persona for my pets, and then select a name that fits.

Now, stay with me here, and don't be afraid. Yet. For poodles, which is what we have, most people think of France. So, we created a back-story of a young, sophisticated French chef in training, who spends his time in the outdoor cafes of Paris sipping fine wines and wooing young female poodles while wearing a jaunty beret. We settled on a French name of Gusteau (from Ratatouille) and since I love to cook, my Parisian poodle is my littlest sous chef.

How appropriate then that I headed over to one of my favorite home improvement/decor blogs, Young House Love, and saw a giveaway for these charming French inspired tea towels from To Dry For:

I think Gusti would approve! The pattern is just too cute and so much fun! I love these towels! I had never heard of this company until today, but they have tons of other cute styles and patterns that would add so much fun to any kitchen. I'm hooked!

And, just for kicks, since it's been quite awhile since I shared the first pictures of our sophisticated gentleman, here he is all grown up:

Le Petit Gusteau!! So French!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What are Your Measurements?

When it comes to me and measuring in the kitchen, I guess you could say I'm more of a fancy-free kind of girl. My measuring consists of, "that looks good." I guess that's why I'm not much of a baker. But these measuring cups from Anthropologie (of course) might just inspire me to buckle down and discipline myself.
Flower Farm Measuring Cups

So quaint and cute!
I think the handle is perfect for scooping flour or sugar.

Perfect for the gardener/chef in your life!

Primary Confection
Measuring Spoons


So bright and cheery! You just can't help but smile when you see these.

Shell Measuring Spoons

Perfect for anyone trying to capture that beachy feel in the kitchen!

Izmir Measuring Cups

I've been eyeing these forever! The colors are gorgeous!

These are so great because not only can you measure with them, but they would look great being displayed anywhere in your kitchen instead of being hidden away in cabinets and drawers like most measuring gadgets.

They would also make the most unique bridal shower or housewarming gifts. You could be the coolest gift giver at the party. And who doesn't want that?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vintage Chic

As you may have guessed, I am an Anthropologie addict. As such, I follow many Anthropologie blogs, and the lovely ladies over at In Pursuit of Pretty Things are hosting a fabulous giveaway.

I love Anthro for the uniqueness of their items. This is why I love Etsy as well. If you're looking for one-of-a-kind items for your wardrobe or home, it is the place to go. The giveaway is for a wonderful pocket watch necklace from Etsy seller, Oh, Hello Friend. I have checked out her store and it is fabulous! I'm definitely on a vintage kick as of late, and her jewelry fits the bill beautifully.

Oh, did I mention you could also win a $25 Anthro gift card in addition to the necklace? (minor details) It's a win-win! Head on over to check it out!

The Loot!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tomato Bruschetta: I'm Obssessed!

As most food lovers can attest to, the movie Julie & Julia will make your mouth water. One of the scenes that I remember most is the one where Julie is eating tomato bruschetta with her husband. The simplicity, the colors, the crunch. Yum!

I decided that it was high time I discovered the secret behind it. Now, I realize that movie magic makes things look better than they are, but I was determined to see if the makers of the movie had given away the secret of how this delicious bruschetta was born. Luckily, they did. In an article for The Atlantic, the culinary consultant and food stylist for the movie spilled the beans here.

I've done this twice now, and I'm hooked. During the hot months, quick and light recipes are always on my radar, and this is a great one. No need for a side dish. Just simple fresh tomatoes on bread. What could be better?

My Recipe Notes:
  • Pugliese Bread or a Rustic Loaf work quite well. We decided that we would use Pugliese in the future just because it is a bigger loaf and can hold more tomatoes. French bread did not work well. Make sure you go early to your grocery store to get the best loaf possible. If you go after 5 pm where we live, it's always slim pickings.
  • I tried toasting the bread in the oven like the article says, and also frying the bread slices in olive oil as the article also mentions was done in the movie. Frying the bread is the clear winner in my book. I pulled out my trusty cast iron skillet, poured in some olive oil and went to town. Delish!
  • I kept to the recipe photo and used red, yellow, and orange tomatoes on the vine. That's just for the pretty factor!
  • I have Maldon sea salt as is recommended, but I will also try my fleur de sel in the future because, as I've said before, I love that salt!
  • Try this even if you don't like tomatoes! I have a weird thing about tomatoes. I like them warm, but usually can't stand them cold. I hate them on burgers, sandwiches, and salads, but love them in stews, pasta sauces, etc. I was worried about this recipe because the tomatoes essentially go on raw, but the heat of the bread actually warms them up just enough for me. Try it and you might be surprised!
And here it is in all its glory!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Looking Chic in the Kitchen

I guess this actually is Part 2 of my Culinary Confessions. I have a secret obsession with aprons. Do I wear them often? Um, no. But I can't help it. A girl needs a great wardrobe, doesn't she? And a great wardrobe in the kitchen is no exception. These are my favorites, from my favorite store of course, Anthropologie.

First Up:

The Three-Star Apron
Love, love, love the cut of this! The scalloped bottom, the bib collar. And ruffled trim?! Yes please! And since I do have this tiny neurosis that your outfit should match your apron, this is great because of the muted color palette. It would go with a ton!

Next Up:

Ant's Art Apron
I love that this apron almost looks like a beautiful summer party dress rather than an apron. I love the v-neck, and the black squiggly (is that a technical term?) pattern on the top against the soft pastel colors of the bottom.

And then we have:

Seasonal Specialties Apron
The contrasting patterns of this one are great, but subtle enough not to overwhelm each other. What really drew me to this one is the adorable collar. Something about it strikes me as adorably retro. The pop of coral around the collar adds the perfect touch of bright color, and I am a sucker for coral and aqua during the summer.

And Last but Certainly not Least:

Tea-and-Crumpets Apron
Um, swoon! This is just all kinds of good. First, the name:too cute! The aqua color: to die for, and perfect for summer! The ruffled tuxedo top: perfect for hosting a party. The flower embellishment: a fabulous touch of whimsy. It's like you're the prom queen of your own culinary prom! And a pocket?! You're killing me! I feel inspired to maybe even bake in this! And for me my friends, that is a very big step! (Can you tell I like this one?)

Summer Flavor at its Best!

Well, school is out for the summer, and that means more time for cooking for me! Last night, I had the typical dinner debate: a tried and true recipe that takes a little longer, or something new and easy? Since I got a late start yesterday (hey, it's summer), I opted for something a little quicker. But what would it be?

As I was searching Ina's recipes (have I mentioned I'm a fan?) on Food Network, I found myself gravitating to sandwiches. Quick, easy, and light. Perfect for summer. Then I stumbled upon a recipe of hers that I had seen a long time ago, and never got around to making: Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches. Bonus point: it required basil, and I just happened to have some leftover from another recipe that I needed to use before it went bad (I am notorious for having too many herbs and not enough uses.) This was the winner! And let me tell you, this sandwich was phenomenal! Fabulous flavor, and as easy as making a PB&J sandwich (mmmm. That sounds good too. But I digress.)


* 4 large red or yellow bell peppers, preferably Holland
* 2 tablespoons good olive oil
* 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons drained capers

For assembling:

* 1 large ciabatta bread, halved horizontally
* 1 (11-ounce) garlic-and-herb or plain goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet) at room temperature
* 8 to 10 large basil leaves
* 3 thin slices red onion
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them twice during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove the stem from each pepper and cut them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the peppers. Stir in the capers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom half of the loaf with the goat cheese. Add a layer of peppers and then a layer of basil leaves. Separate the onions into rings and spread out on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with the top half of the ciabatta and cut into individual servings.

My recipe notes:
  • Since I was running behind (hey, cut me some slack, it's summer) I used a jar of roasted peppers to save time instead of roasting my own. An already easy sandwich was made even easier!
  • I toasted the ciabatta bread for a nice crunch.
  • My store doesn't carry the Montrachet brand, but I did find a log of herb goat cheese, and I really could tell that the herbs in the cheese add a lot to the flavor-I really don't see plain goat cheese working anywhere near as well-but that's just me.

I can't believe how deceptively wonderful this meal was. How can something so easy be so great? I guess that's what Ina's famous for though. We added some simple Parmesan roasted green beans to the meal, and we had a quick, light summer meal. The fact that this sandwich doesn't have meat really makes it a nice choice on a hotter day. A chilled glass of Chardonnay was an extra treat. The flavors in this sandwich really remind me of Ina's Grilled Panzanella Salad-one of my favorite flavor combos of all time. My husband has already declared that this should become a staple in our home. I guess he twisted my arm.

*Eye Candy Alert!*

Update: Here is the short version of the Parmesan Green Beans recipe we use:

We use Tyler Florence's recipe, but you don't really need any quantities. And I love that you could adapt this for any vegetable you want.

1.Preheat oven to 400
2.Place the green beans (or whatever vegetable you choose on a baking sheet)
3. Drizzle with olive oil, salt (not a ton-the Parmesan is salty) and pepper.
4. Grate fresh Parmesan on top (a generous amount so you get a nice crust)
5. Bake for 10 minutes (cheese should be nice and golden, and crispy)
6. Let cool for a few minutes, and then use a spatula to scrape up the green beans and all the crispy cheese. Easy Peasy!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

iPhone Produce Guide

Now that I cook more at home, and take advantage of our local farmer's market, I buy produce on a pretty regular basis. And as I'm sure many people can relate to, a lot of money is wasted when that produce goes bad.

Luckily, there are many more tools available nowadays to the home chef to remedy this problem. My newest iPhone app is a really handy companion when shopping for produce, or storing it at home. For $1.99, Harvest lists about every type of produce you could think of.

Not only does it tell you what to look for when selecting produce (which admittedly, I never know), but tells you the peak season, pesticide residue content, and also the best way to store it to get maximum shelf life. All of this is easily referenced in the palm of your hand.


This app makes a great shopping companion, and will ensure you get the most for your money, and the best possible tasting produce for your recipes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Casual Elegance

For our last family dinner, I wanted a simple, relaxed, but still special menu. Since I just got my new order of truffle butter delivered (yum!), I wanted to be able to use it to add an elegant touch to our meal. I decided to pull out Ina's Truffled Filet of Beef Sandwich (yes, again!) for it's simplicity, and I needed a side dish that could match the casual, but chic nature of it.

Tyler Florence's Kettle Chips with Parmesan and Herbs to the rescue! We had tried this recipe once before and it didn't come out quite right, but the flavor was still excellent. The problem the first time was my insistence on slicing the potato chips by hand, because I'm a freak, and love to slice and chop. But as you've probably guessed, it's nearly impossible to get them thin enough and a consistent size. So this time, we used the slicing blade on our food processor and we had perfectly sliced chips that turned out beautifully. I even got the herbs perfectly fried this time as opposed to some slight burning last time.

What we had was the perfect menu that was simple, casual, but with an unexpected twist of elegance. A gourmet sandwich with gourmet chips. It was the perfect meal for a quiet dinner with family, but shows you care enough to put that extra special touch on it.


* 6 large Yukon gold potatoes
* Canola oil and olive oil, 75/25 ratio for frying
* 6 whole cloves garlic
* 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
* 1/2 bunch sage
* 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Wash and clean the potatoes in cold running water. Using a mandoline, or vegetable peeler, finely slice the potatoes into chips. Drop the chips into a bowl of ice water as you work to prevent them from going brown. This will also remove any excess starch.

Set a large pot of 75/25 canola and olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic (paper and all) and whole stems of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme. Bring oil up to 375 degrees F. As it heats up the oil will get infused with the garlic and herbs. Once the herbs crackle and get crispy they will go clear and you know they are done. Using a strainer drain the herbs and garlic and set aside on paper towels.

Fry the potatoes in batches until golden and crispy. Drain the chips, dry well on paper towels and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with crispy fried herbs, garlic and shower with Parmesan.