Sunday, October 31, 2010

When The Going Gets Tough, Grains and Carbs Keep Me (Mildly) Sane

I'm so busy. It hurts. Make it stop.

A girl's gotta eat thought, right?

When the clock is ticking and time is precious, either:
1. Go out to eat,
2. Make yourself a PB&J, or
3. Cook what's easy and familiar

One night this week I made my "go-to" comfort soup, Hearty Grain Soup with Beans and Greens:

One night this week I made risotto (it didn't have asparagus this time, but I did roast some carnival squash to go with my simple risotto):

One night this week I made polenta and topped it with some already prepared salmon (definitely does not taste as good as home-roasted salmon, but it saved time, right?):

**NOTE: This time I made my polenta a little different than I usually do. I did not cook it with milk and I added a snippet of butter and a bit of cheddar cheese. What can I say, I like to change it up.

All I want to do is play in the kitchen. Stir and sift and knead and chop. I need a break, folks. I need a break.

Study, Coffee. Coffee, Study...




I am out of words...


I am slowly running out of juice. Studying is taking over my life. At least I have an amazing study-buddy and a cup of coffee in hand to get me through.

Today's coffee was from Remedy, a new (ish) coffee shop in Oakland. They use Ritual coffee, a "local" San Francisco brand of coffee. Nice ambiance, cool crowd, snazzy tunes.

Check it out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gastronomically-Inspired Jewelery: Cute as a Cucumber, Cool as a Corn

Ohmygosh are these cute or what?! Gahhh, I am so in love with my new purchases!!! Corn and cucumber earrings. eeeee

Last Sunday was the 8th annual Spice of Life festival held in North Berkeley. Albeit the rain was pouring down on us, my two girlfriends and I gallivanted along and made the most of our afternoon.

We were strolling along when all of a sudden we spotted the cutest jewelery vendor, Carolyn Tillie was selling wearable food jewelery!!!!! She had everything from fruits and veggies (the broccoli and artichoke earrings were my next pick) to sushi, cupcakes, and French macarons. My oh my what a tough choice. I ultimately chose the cucumbers and the corn. My friend Michelle and I are obsessed with eating cucumbers these days, English and Persian are our favorite kinds. Crunchy crispy hydrating yum, our favorite way to munch on cucumbers is dipped in hummus.

And I chose the corn earrings to be...for lack of a better word, corny. They are like baby corns on my ears.

Carolyn Tillie's jewelery
is made from a combination of gashapon (Japanese gumball machine toys), dollhouse miniatures, or actual food products (her bean jewelery was made from real beans) which have been individually hand painted with a water-and impact-resistant protective coating. The food bits are set with 14k gold or sterling silver.

After fawning over my exciting new purchases, I headed over to the paella food vendor to get myself some grub...

Ahh, what a great ending to a great day. Now this is comfort food!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Messy, Sticky, Finger-Lickin' Good: Honey Sea Salt Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

It's official. I'm addicted. I'm addicted to ice cream. I'm addicted to this honey sea salt peanut butter ice cream. I love peanut butter, I love honey, I love salt, especially flaky sea salt. I'm addicted to making and eating caramel sauce. Burnt sugar? Yep. Addicted. Leftover puff pastry diamonds that I made at work? Yep. Addicted.

It's official. I am out of flour, I am out of vanilla, I am nearly out of sugar. A baker's job well done, I'd say.

Caramel sauce may seem a bit scary, but it really is as easy as 1. 2. 3. Heat the sugar. It will start to bubble, brown, and smoke:

Resist the urge to stir until the last possible go! Stir! Add a bit o' butter...stir (I actually prefer to nudge rather than stir)! Add some heavy cream...nudge! Breathe.

Awww yeahhhh

Heaven in a sauce

My base. Puff pastry diamond with some honey sea salt pb ice cream. This photo was taken before my ice cream scooper broke. It was also taken before I made caramel sauce.

Much better. Oh how good it feels to spoil myself...

Honey Sea Salt Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

Followed exactly from theKitchyKitchen (she rocks!)


2-3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup honey roasted peanut butter (if you only have regular, add 2 tablespoons of honey)
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch of sea salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup white sugar
4 oz unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Heat one cup of the heavy cream in a sauce pan until simmering. Add the sugar to melt. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Add a little of the hot cream and whisk to combine. Add a little more, then pour the contents of the bowl into the pan and stir until thickened (or 165 F). Off the heat, add the peanut butter, sea salt, honey, and vanilla, stirring to combine. Taste and add more sea salt or honey to taste. Chill in your fridge, whisk in the additional cream and milk (tasting to adjust the salt and honey), then stir in your ice cream machine as recommended.

For the caramel sauce, heat the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar turns golden. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved and just starting to turn a lovely dark amber color. Remove from heat and add the butter, and stir to combine. Careful, it'll foam up. Then add the heavy cream and vanilla extract, stirring to combine. Pour the caramel into a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Pour over everything and anything!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Elegant Dinner Party at the Brick House

An "intimate" (there were 10 of us) dinner party.

The hubbub began around 4 pm when the hostess's oven broke. She rushed over to my place so that I could cook a huge pot of chicken in my oven for her. Chicken Marbella. The house was filled with the aroma of sweet and savory-prunes and pearl onions, chicken, olives and wine, herbs and spices.

Drumstick, anyone?

I then proceeded to bake a polenta cake with olive oil and rosemary.

8 PM. I arrive at the Brick House with the chicken and the cake. The hostess has arranged a beautiful cheese platter. Olives in a shallow wine glass, dates in a slender glass, walnuts splayed elegantly around the tray. She also skillet-toasted thick slices of levain bread with some butter.

Did I mention the divine white roses?

Yep, us "young folk" (well, some of us) do know how to be classy (sometimes).

Tossin' the salad.

Pass the wine, s'il vous plaƮt (please).

Also on the menu was a simple pasta and a cauliflower puree (tasted and looked just like mashed potatoes, but with cauliflower (you would never be able to tell!)).

The cake. With a cute pumpkin keepin' it company. And...more wine!

Invite friends over for a dinner party. You cook some, they cook some. Go fancy or go casual. One of my greatest enjoyments is sharing a good meal with good company. So just do it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lollipops: The Science of Sugar

Sugar. Water. Corn Syrup. Heat.

Hotter, hotter, hotter (154 degrees C)...

Bubbles. Chemical Reactions. Bonding. Solutions.

Food coloring. Yay! (and a little flavoring i.e. lemon extract)

Don't overdo it on the food coloring like I did or you will end up with a lollipop that looks like sin.
And, mind you, this is a messy process. You must work fast to getcho lollies out of the pan!

Faster, faster! Check out all of the stringy sugar.


3/8 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 drops food coloring (I made a boo boo and added WAY TO MUCH...don't do what I did)
1 tsp lemon flavoring

1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy-bottom saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, put the lid on the pan, and allow contents to cook for 2 minutes. The steam that develops will help wash down crystals from the sides of the pan.

3. Remove the lid, turn the heat back up a bit, and cook undisturbed to 154 degrees C (extreme hard crack stage). Cook slowly (medium heat) toward the end so syrup does not scorch.

4. Remove from heat.

5. Add color and flavoring. Using a clean metal spoon, stir only enough to mix.

6. Drop from the tip of a tablespoon onto buttered parchment paper, taking care to make drops round. **Try to do this step quickly before all the candy hardens in the pan.

7. If desired, press a toothpick or skewer into edge of each before it hardens.

8. To prevent cracking, loosen from the parchment before completely cold.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Glimpse of My Weekend Eats

The newest edition to our house...plants! Yay!

Asian-style egg noodles. Made fresh. And the noodle fest begins!

Smiley cooks

Hot n' spicy noodles with ginger, garlic, baby bok choy, broccolini, squash, purple and yellow carrots...

Yummy in the tum

The morning brought new friends, mimosas, and pancakes

An intimate table filled with breakfast goods

Banana pancake, strawberries, scrambled eggs

Good friends and good times...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Make-Up Artist For Food?

Photo from this website

Today in my community nutrition class, we learned about food marketing, specifically towards children. This video clip ( was shown at the start of the lecture.

What do you think? Is this simply food art? Or is it more? What message is this sending?

Or should I just shut up and get a job as a food make-up artist (aka food-stylist)?

Or should I just shut up and go get a burger?

Fun Fact (from the rumor mill, but most likely true in some/many cases): Did you know that food stylists will enhance their strawberries with lipstick, will pour glue over cereal instead of milk and will replace ice cream with shortening mixed with sugar?! Yikes...and yuck!