Monthly Archives: August 2011

What I Ate Wednesday Part 9

This is the first day in a long time where I ate every meal of the day out! And boy does it make a difference…(and not in a good way). It’s so interesting how different my eating habits are when I am away from home. It makes me realize how great it is that we eat homegrown and fresh homemade food every night.

Breakfast- 10:30AM

I had an apple cinnamon muffin followed by an egg white omelette filled with mozzarella, tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms. You know I was missing my daily oatmeal and juice, but it was nice to enjoy some eggs for once. For some reason eggs at a restaurant always taste better than eggs made at home (probably because of all the butter), and oatmeal never seems to taste the same at hotels than it does at home (probably the lack of almond milk and almond butter).

Lunch  – 1:00PM

My favorite sandwich ever – Caprese… I know Q hates it because it doesn’t have any protein, but man do I love this sandwich! This one was made just right, I loved every bite.

Snack – 4:00PM

DANGER ZONE – cookies and fruit… I only had one cookie, but I knew I should have stuck to fruit… this is what happens when I don’t make my own food and I’m off my regular schedule!

Dinner – 8:00PM

Forgive my horrible iPhone pictures- we had appetizers of chicken fingers and french fries and dinner was a mix of small plates (sliders, grilled cheese, jalapeno poppers, risotto)… all were delicious and so out of my “good food zone.” But I do believe that when you are eating at amazing restaurants that you should truly eat delicious food and not stick to a salad. Back to the norm tomorrow and I have a new recipe post for you on Friday!

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Fig, Marscapone and Pistachio Tart

When I saw this recipe on Desserts for Breakfast I was a little scared, not only were the photos amazing, but the ingredients were all in grams. What made it easier for me was that our scale can be converted from ounces to grams (highly helpful) and I realized the beauty of baking is that you can make it look like your own and don’t need to hold your creations up to any specific standard. I ended up making the tart late in the day and by the time it was ready it was dark outside. Instead of making my father wait until the next morning to eat it (that would be cruel), I took a few pictures on a tripod (because of the low shutter speed any photo I would have taken by hand would have been blurry). My photos weren’t as gorgeous as I would like them to be, but I hope you can see the beauty that this tart was. I only wish I had made it 4 hours earlier and had more time to photograph it!

Taste wise the tart was delicious, the crust was thick and tasted like a pistachio shortbread, the marscapone was light and fluffy and the figs were juicy. I would highly recommend using a scale that weighs in grams as I don’t know what I would have done without one (manically be typing in conversions on google).

You can find the recipe here. I used 1 pound of figs (but this may vary on the size of your figs, I would recommend buying 2 baskets just in cast) and we topped the tart with apricot jam. Enjoy!

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Recent Purchases

I should not be trusted at The Grove alone. I went there for a specific item at Sur La Table and ended up with a new Anthropologie dress and J Crew bag. I actually prefer shopping on my own because no one is there to tell me no…I know, that’s a bad sign.

Anthropologie dress:

Please don’t judge me/the dress on my embarrassing self pic, but I couldn’t tell if I loved it just from the mirror and had to take a pic and send it to a girlfriend to approve. I think I’m going to shorten it a few inches and possibly put thin straps at the top. I have absolutely no occasion to wear it yet, but I know it will be a great addition to the closet.

J. Crew bag:

(source)

This picture doesn’t even do her justice (yes I am referring to my bag as a her). I went in looking for this purse that I saw on Elise’s blog and on Cardigan Junkie, but I was swayed to this hobo. I love that there are hand straps and a larger strap so you can throw it over your shoulder/across your front like a messenger when you don’t want to hold on to it. I’m the type of girl that carries one purse for 6 months with every outfit,  through every type of weather and on every trip. So I know I am going to get a lot of use out of this baby.

Happy Monday!

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Dinner at Dominick’s

My girlfriends and I have a tradition of going out to dinner once a week. We love to sit around, eat great food, drink wine and talk. Each week our group varies- usually it’s 4 or 5 of us and as much as we try and be creative with our restaurant choices, we usually end up at the same ones over and over. Last night we ended up at Dominick’s– one of our favorite spots with it’s great outdoor seating, creative cocktails and delicious food.

They always seat us and bring warm sesame seed bread to the table. Delicious.

I wore my turban headband again, Ashlee was proud. I like the side bread with it and it had a double purpose by keeping my dry and dirty hair looking cute (it was a rat’s nest before I braided it).

Our girlfriends Erynn and Naomi joined us. Along with our friend Eden who I forget to snap a pic of (sorry E).

Cocktails were had. The strawberry margarita was the speciality drink of the night.

Naomi looking gorgeous as usual drinking her vino.

To start we got the Rice Balls (fried risotto balls with mozzarella cheese inside), but bad food blogger I forgot to take a picture. We also got this tomato and mozzarella spiedini. I loved how they arranged the mozzarella and crostini on a sprig of rosemary.

For our main course Ashlee and I shared the special of the night: sea bass marsala which came with polenta fries, but I was a bad food blogger again and I was so hungry I ate it before snapping a pic… it was great, the polenta fries were amazing and I have to try them. I’ve always wondered if it is actually better to order the specials or straight off the menu at a restaurant, anyone have an opinion?

One of the things I love most about my girlfriends is that we LOVE dessert. We never skimp when it comes to ordering. We got the chocolate panna cotta which was ok and the pistachio cake which was also mediocre, but not to worry we still managed to finish both desserts. Dominick’s makes amazing ricotta fritters, so next time I think we are sticking to those.

I leave you with this semi-awkward photo of me. Isn’t it always a little awkward asking someone to take a photo of you alone even if it is a close girlfriend? And I wish I could tuck that stray piece of hair back into my braid, oh well!

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Pan-Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Lemon Butter

The weather is so crazy, 95 degrees in Los Angeles and a hurricane in New York. My mother is extremely conservative when it comes to our air conditioning. She refuses to turn it on until it’s 100 degrees or higher in the house. Last night was horrible – sleeping with two furry dogs and no AC, I woke up sweating this morning (never fun). Just when I was thinking summer was coming to a close we get this heat wave reminding me it’s still here, guess I have to put my fall boots away for another few weeks…

Bentley and Shelby taking over the bed- where am I supposed to sleep?

This shrimp dish reminds me of summer nights, something about the light garlic-lemon butter sauce that makes me think of eating dinner at 8PM on our deck with family and friends. You can adjust this recipe to feed more or less people easily (always nice). We served ours with brown rice and steamed broccoli and as always it was a hit.

Pan-Seared Shrimp with Garlic-Lemon Butter

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds of 21/25 shrimp (*21/25 shrimp is the size of the shrimp and means there are 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Beat softened butter with a fork in a small bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in garlic, lemon juice, parsley and half of your salt until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss shrimp, remaining salt, pepper and sugar. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until oil glistens. Add half of shrimp to pan in a single layer and cook until edges turn pink, about 1 minute. Flip shrimp and cook until all but very center is opaque (about 30 seconds). Transfer shrimp to large plate. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and the rest of the shrimp. After second half of shrimp has cooked, pull skillet off of heat. Toss in first half of shrimp to skillet along with butter mixture and toss to combine. Cover skillet and let stand until shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Adapted from the March & April 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated

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Mushroom and Herb Polenta

I’m so lucky that Q’s family has accepted me as one of their own. As an only child, I never had siblings. I definitely have “only child” traits- i.e. difficulty sharing, used to getting my way, need my alone time (I’m a catch, aren’t I?). But by dating Q, I adopted his sister, brother-in-law and niece as my own. The first time they called me “sis” I cried.

Q’s brother-in-law, Q’s sister, me, Q (not pictured Q’s niece Harper, next time I promise!)

Q’s mom is just as amazing and has become a second mom to me. She recently took a trip to London (she lives in Ireland) and had dinner at Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant. Knowing how much I love his food, she sent me back a signed copy of his new book “Plenty.” I couldn’t wait to try some of his new recipes (all vegetarian).

Q, me, Q’s mom

Last night, I made this Mushroom and Herb Polenta for dinner. When I suggested to Q that when he gets back from “the ‘Stan” we should implement Meatless Mondays in our house he laughed and said “more like Meaty Mondays.” So I guess I have to take advantage of going meatless while he is gone!

This recipe is relatively simple and so worth the time spent to make it. I devoured my piece and can’t wait to have more for lunch today. For your mushrooms, you can use a mixed variety like we did from the Farmers’ Market or just use brown or white creminis.

Mushroom and Herb Polenta

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups mixed mushrooms (very large ones halved)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (not minced)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (we used chicken)
  • 1 cup polenta (instant or traditional, we used instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat your broiler to high. Grease a baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil spray or Pam. Set aside.
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan. Once hot, add your mushrooms and fry for a few minutes, or until just cooked; try no to move them much so you get golden-brown patches on their surface. Remove from heat, add garlic, tarragon, thyme, truffle oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
  3. Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The polenta is ready when it leaves the sides of the pan but is still runny (about 5 minutes for instant polenta and 50 minutes for traditional). When the polenta is ready, stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan, butter, rosemary, and 1/2 tablespoon of parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the polenta over your baking sheet and top with the rest of the Parmesan. Place the baking sheet under the broiler until cheese bubbles (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from broiler, top with the mushrooms and their juices. (*Make sure to take out your two garlic cloves from your mushrooms.)  Return to broiler for 1 minutes to warm up. Serve hot, garnish with the remaining parsley.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I recently got an email from my girlfriend Hilly with the title “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever.” I had to try them, I mean with that headline how could I not. I brought the recipe to my mom to get her input (it’s nice to live with a professional), she said that this recipe is one of her favorites as well.

The original recipe is by Jacque Torres, also known as “Mr. Chocolate,” a world renowned pastry chef in NYC…kind of a big deal. His recipe was one of the first which has you refrigerate your cookie dough before baking it out. By cooling your dough (in this case 72 hours), your ingredients all meld together and your butter sets. The cookies spread evenly, cook up perfectly and come out tasting a little like caramel because of  this fridge time. It also ensures you get a moist cookie in the center and a crisp outside crunch.

These cookies were OUT OF THIS WORLD, I’m not sure if it was the salt, the refrigerated dough, the quality of chocolate we used or everything combined, but these truly are the best chocolate chip cookies. I would make these over and over again and am so happy to be sharing them with you. For a great step by step description of why these cookies rock so much, you can visit For Me, For You who has a wonderful explanation. I can’t encourage you to try these out enough, they are truly amazing.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Makes 18- 24 cookies

*It’s really useful to use a scale to weigh out your ingredients for this recipe. Not only does it make it easier (because 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons is confusing), but it ensures that your dough will be perfectly proportioned.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 ½ ounces) cake flour (like this)
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 ½ ounces) bread flour (like this)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt, such as kosher
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups or 10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate discs, preferably about 60% cacao content, we used Callebaut bittersweet chocolate discs)
  • Sea salt for garnishing

Directions:

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients and mix on low for 30 seconds. Turn off mixer and fold the rest of the dough together with a spatula (this prevents over-mixing). Turn mixer back on low, add the chocolate discs and mix for 30 seconds. Turn mixer off and finish mixing in discs by hand.
  3. Take mixing bowl off your mixer. Press a large piece of plastic wrap against the dough (make sure it touches the dough and seals it (this ensures no air gets through). Then take another large piece of plastic wrap and seal off the top of the mixing bowl. Refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours. The best cookies will be made with the 72 hour dough.
  4. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly (about 10 minutes). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  5. Scoop 6 mounds of dough each weighing 3 1/2 ounces (they look like golf balls) onto each baking sheet. Make sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are sticking out (this will create a better looking cookie). Sprinkle each cookie lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

Adapted from Jacques Torres recipe and different renditions in the New York Times and For Me, For You.

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