market to table: summer good spoon

Saturday night I held a Market to Table: Summer Good Spoon Class. I wanted to offer up a seasonal menu using some of our great ingredients in a new and different way. I was pretty excited for this class because well, Audrey came down for it from the bay area! Fun to have such a special guest and really wonderful to have a little sous chef.

heirloom tomato and avocado stacks
tomato and corn pie
barbecue roasted salmon
creme fraiche and peach pie

Recipes and more pictures to come but for those of you who need instant gratification, here are some twitpics Vanessa took throughout the night.

blue cheese. dates. carmelized onions.

Another impromptu "yeah I have a lot I 'could/should' do but come on over" barbecues of a Sunday. It was communal in the sense that we came together with what we had, and it was great. Yes, more squash was had, but then, I made up a little appetizer for us with some bread, carmelized onions, goat cheese, and dates on top. Popped those babies into a 375 oven and in about 8 minutes when the cheese was nice and hot, salty, sweet, and oh, another drizzle of local honey.

A lesson in caramelized onions. Now is not the time to get out your fat free cooking spray. You need to slice your onion, put some oil in a pan, maybe even a touch of butter, and then let the onions hang out on lower heat for about 15 minutes, letting them get nice and yes, carmelized. About 5 min in I threw in a pinch of sugar.

You probably are going to want to make these now. Pop them into the oven and say, "oh, don't worry about it, just popped in a little something..."

pan-fried chicken and ham parmasan

This is a good basic thing for you to know how to do. How to bread and pan fry and bake chicken. How to do this for a simple salad, or with some ham and cheese is a good thing. It's easy, and it's impressive. Let's say it again. It's easy, and it's impressive.

Preheat your oven to 350.

Place a skillet on medium high heat and add about 2 T olive oil. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Dredge each breast in flour, then egg mixture of 1 egg beaten plus 2 T water, and then into breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess and place in skillet until golden, about 3-4 minutes per side. If you want to be a bit more fancy, place a slice of ham and then mozzarella on top. Move the skillet to the oven and bake for about 8
min more to finish off the chicken and melt the cheese.

Serve alone, on top of salad or pasta. Delicious.

goat cheese canapes drizzled with orange blossom honey

Ain't no thang. Goat cheese, herbs, orange zest, fresh bread, local honey. As my friend Audrey might say, "Perfection." Maybe though you need to see some spoons in some happy taste testers mouths.

the flavors are fresh. the ingredients are standard. you can do this.

cut one baguette into 1/2 thick slices brushed with olive oil

mix 8 ounces of goat cheese with:
  • 2 T minced chives
  • 1 t. grated orange zest
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 2 T minced basil
  • 1/2 t. black pepper.

Place a bit of the cheese mixture onto a baguette slice and place in a 400 degree oven for 10 min. Drizzle some warm honey on top and enjoy. you can prepare the cheese spread 2 hrs ahead of time!

friends. flowers. faithfulness.

the other night we had an impromptu gathering of ladies. what's for dinner? the garden. again. see- recession chic. people picked up wine and pizza dough and we were set. i love the garden, I love summer, and I love His faithfulness. It was a fun night to sit around the table and smile, to relax and unwind and giggle. Yup.

garden patch

I will always grow a garden. When and where I can. It's such a good idea and oh so recession chic. I've been living off the land and loving it. What a gift. Often times my lunch break includes watering the veg, picking some beans, tomatoes, lettuce, arugula, zukes, and making a salad. This is me showing off my veg.

summer kitchen

it should really come as no surprise that I judged this book by it's cover (yes it matched my blog, bathing suit, beach umbrella, etc.) and picked it up and read it. a good beach read but nothing too wonderful to write home about. it did hit hard the fact that food is more than just filling ones bellies or as my friend ct more articulately once wrote:

dinner sunday night was an experiment gone right. the food only seemed to compliment our conversation, which was spiced with the meanander of questions, thoughts, challenges, perspectives, and hopes that fill the heart and its mind. i came away reminded that there can be something so sacred about sharing a table. like our days the conversation can begin without objective, happen into the strangest places, hopscotch subjects and places, and land in the final square of satisfaction. the night’s final square for me was simply this: can this very table be one of intentional encouragement– even to the point of ministry? can food hosted at this simple table open more than mouth and fill more than bellies?

i think and i pray it can.

Julia's Kitchen

Enough already, right? Wrong. I went to her kitchen. I had to. I remember wanting to go when I lived there but well, I remember wanting to do a lot when I lived in DC that never happened.

We went, and it was wonderful. I must now share a story that... must be shared. While at Westmont I knew that Julia Child lived somewhere up in the hills of Montecito, right where I rested my head at night. When people talked about Oprah and Rob Lowe sitings, I just wanted to run into Julia at the farmers market.

Well, "run" into her I did one day on a run through the hills of Montecito around campus. I was stopped at a stop sign and a car pulled up. I looked in and thought, "That's Julia Child! That's Julia Child!!" And so, she kept driving and instead of going on my route, I ran after her. Sadly, the story ends there but still, really fun. I saw her.

classic french chocolate mousse

Last Saturday I did a Girls Night Spoon: Budget Friendly Meals for One, or Two in Solvang, CA. A dream come true of a day really. Some ladies around a table, an oven, a stove, drinking local wine and learning some new techniques. I wanted to do a simple yet elegant dessert. Something they could do, and might do, and should do. Something with all the ingredients you would seemingly have in your pantry for baking, but dolled up.

6 ounces quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
4 ounces unsalted butter
pinch of salt

4 tbs. powdered sugar, dissolved into 1/4 cup espresso or coffee
4 large eggs

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler so it won't burn. When melted, add the sweetened coffee, then butter, whisking well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in 4 egg yolks, one by one. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peak forms. Gently fold into the chocolate and place in ramekins then the fridge until you're ready to serve it. It's fancy, can be made ahead, and the ingredients are far from pricey.

farmers market. in virginia.

When I was "home" a couple weeks ago we went to the Leesburg Farmers Market Saturday morning to get some things for dinner Sunday. Tomatoes, sweet corn, and berries abounded. Interestingly enough, the prices seemed higher, because they were, and the political movement crew was more invasive than those in SB. I remember leaving DC feeling a bit relieved to be leaving the land of protest after protest, and then I remembered I was moving back to California. Needless to say, the woman who couldn't stop yelling at everyone there was a bit obnoxious screaming about how she loved her mother. I'm still not sure how that tied in to what she was talking about. Politics aside, it was fun seeing the different faces of farmers, and some sense of a bit more southern influence with vegetables like okra.

zucchini basil soup

So much zucchini. What to do what to do. Well, I've been getting crafty with it and have thankfully not been sick of it like I was after about week 1 of grilling it- all the time. I saw this recipe and yes, I have zucchini, I have basil, I will make this. Well, I did and it was a hit. Some friends were over for the creation and consumption, and Annemarie commented that it tasted like something you would pay a lot of money for at an expensive restaurant but really, it was easy and delicious. It gave me another reason to bring out my immersion blender which is pure joy. If you don't have one and enjoy making soups, you should invest. Mine has a handy chopper at the end and powerful whisk as well which is great for making homemade whip cream. I should be a salesperson for them.

Anyways- go get your zucchini from your backyard, the market, or your grocery store and make this. So simple, and oh so good.

Zucchini Basil Soup

serves 3-4, from Gourmet, July 2008

  • 2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and cut crosswise into thirds
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup packed basil leaves

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 3- to 4-quarts heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chopped zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Purée soup with basil using immersion blender.

boy bait

Let's not be silly. Of course I'm going to make a recipe called Boy Bait. You have to. It's a must. And so I did, and like other recipes that receive high acclaim by the gentleman, I wasn't surprised when this one was on the list based on the amount of butter that goes into it. Personally, it tasted like too much, but the recipe I did follow so there ya go.

I brought it to Griffin's birthday bbq- outside- seaside- and got several, "LB, this is good." And some... "LB, what did you bring?" Boy Bait. No really. Wink wink. Each time this happened there was a chuckle and exclamation of another boy, baited.

Blueberry Boy Bait a la Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Cook’s Country, which adapted it from the original

Serves 12, generously

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

figs. you can do this.

About a week ago I picked up some figs from the a store that carries items in large quantities. I wish this store could be pronounced in a different way like Target can sound all French, but it cannot. Regardless, I was excited to experiment with this in-season fruit and had at it with toasting an almond, placing some blue cheese, and then wrapping with prosciutto. Into the 375 oven they went for about 15-20 min until crispy and the cheese was melted goodness. On top I drizzled some honey and look- you would pay a lot of money for this appetizer but you don't have to. You can do this.

coming soon...

Awhile ago I said the site would be up in August. It was and is my personal deadline. Here it is: August. Well, it's still coming and like most construction projects taking longer than anticipated. The draft and pics are ready. Get excited.

pictures thanks to the wonderful and talented annemarie...