Wednesday, June 24, 2009

getting edumakated...

I spend a lot of these grey mornings meandering on the web. It's amazing where you can go in a couple hours with tea and a bowl of fruit and yogurt in your lap. I've been to goose farm in Spain, a sustainable organic farm in Connecticut and I fell in love with the rural east coast again, watching lambs and cows and pigs happy in grass fields surrounded by woods. I hung out with renowned chef Dan Barber at TED and he took me to a goose farm in Spain where the goose whisperer has his flock call wild geese to their utopia for the winter. I actually considered trying froi gras for the first time in my life (something I have found so deeply offensive that it detoured me from taking being a chef seriously - the disgusting practices that chef's celebrate and support - don't even get me started) but you'll have to watch the whole 20 minute TED lecture to understand why . I took a trip down memory lane to my favorite secret Northern California cherry find off highway 1 and revisited my young lover's dream to restore an old stage coach stop and turn it into our own Whistle Stop Cafe. We lingered around this one shop town for hours walking up and down old roads imagining planting a kitchen garden and serving prefixed dinners to the folks around the area (Neil Young most notable among them)....

Anyway, one of my favorite new discoveries today is Blue Hill Farm. Please go explore their site. Go to the know thy farmer farms map and click on the video interviews of the farmer's this restaurant buys from. It's a weekend away in a morning. It made me want to drive all the way there from here just to visit a mushroom farmer while he inoculates tree trunks with psyllium (I didn't know those terms before this morning)

Have you seen Food Inc. yet? You must. If you haven't read Omnivore's Dilemma or Fast Food Nation or seen Super Size Me you must. Really, nothing is more important. Everything stems from good health and good food is the obvious first step. It's astonishing how far away from common sense we've gotten.

Tell me what you find....

Friday, June 19, 2009

mastering perspective or a latte break

I am noticing patterns in my life lately and like any pattern if you stare at one long enough it starts to invert. The pattern you thought you were looking at becomes it's own opposite and then it's meaning changes. And then it flips back. It can be entertaining or frightening depending on how serious you are about it but either way it offers perspective. It's the very definition of perspective actually. When you realize there is another way to look at something you must by default recognize that your original way of seeing things was simply the other way of seeing the thing. Your present point of view will never change but your perspective on the matter might shift, usually in hind sight. And this is what makes being human so extraordinary. And this is what makes being human so difficult. Master your perspective and, I suspect, you'll be the master of your own life.

What does this have to do with food? It has everything to do with food. It's at exactly this juncture that things like this show up around me:

decaf soy latte & chocolate cherry scone from Fix

sweet corn, cheddar & green chile tamale from
(you guessed it) the Hollywood Farmer's Market

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

breakfast at the office

My camera walked into the room this morning while I was staring at my tea steeping demanding that I play with her. I can't I said, I have tea to drink, the room to stare at, news and facebook to read, my journal to write, sleepy dog to walk, I have to work out and I have to make breakfast. My camera heard, blah blah blah BREAKFAST! She stomped her little lens and batted her aperture at me. How could I resist? I was helpless. I am at her beck and call. So, here is how my little camera saw breakfast this morning. Looks tasty no?

The office. Tea steeping while sun moves across the's lovely.

Baked eggs with goat cheese and Japanese tomatoes
breakfast at the office

I like to keep breakfast simple. I like to keep everything simple actually (at least where food is concerned).
Start with these ingredients. Trader Joe's baby. Love them. Although, this cheese is not organic and I will probably have to find an alternative soon it worked well for this dish. Forgive me. I won't let it happen again. This dish is single summer friendly, meaning, it's calorie lite. Healthy, tasty and quick. 15 minutes to make, swear.
  • Spray some olive oil into a ramakin.
Have we talked about Japanese tomatoes? I may be repeating myself here but these are the best things at the farmer's market. I've never seen them at the grocery store. They are a little less vibrant in color than we expect from a robust tomato but the flavor is always light, sweet and wonderful. They are much lower in acid than normal tomatoes. Also more watery.

  • Slice one into 4 1/2" rounds. Put one round in the bottom of the ramekin.

  • Sprinkle some goat cheese onto the tomato.

  • Pour in egg white. Repeat ....until the ramekin is full.

  • Finish with cheese on top.
  • Add ground pepper to taste but wait on salt. The cheese is salty and you can always add more after the first bite.

  • Pop the ramekin into the toaster oven at 350 for 10 minutes.
  • Take it out once to drain some of the water that the tomato will release.
  • I always toast a piece of rye bread along side the eggs. Flipping the toast once.

  • Eh... Voila! Yum.

A perfect way to start the day. Good call camera.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

zucchini spinach basil soup w/ corn

I came across this soups beginnings at a little bistro in Silver Lake called Blair's. Dependable for lunch, really really decent for dinner. It's a charming place and the dinner menu is my kind of eating. Homey, farm to table centric, creative. Understated but elegant.

I have no idea what
Blair's actual recipe is but I found myself craving it one day and noticed I had the key ingredients in my fridge and freezer so I set out to make it as closely as I could. This one is pretty close actually. So, here it is, loaded with vitamins, iron, fiber and really tasty. Excellent paired with a salad of red oak lettuce, currents and blue cheese dressing. Make it in large batches. It freezes well. Add corn to each dish never to the whole pot.

Ideally we pick our own squash, corn, basil, leeks and perhaps even our spinach straight out of our own kitchen gardens, those beautiful landscapes we look out at every morning as we sip our tea and plan our day. But maybe you, like me, get most of your goods at a local farmers market and make up the difference at your local Trader Joe's or if you can afford it, Whole Foods. Or Maybe you get all your goods from Ralphs or the corner bodega's freezer section or maybe you pull your fresh veggies out of your neighbors garden! No matter, this is a soup worth the jail time.

If you do have a Trader Joe's near by I want to point out a few quick tricks that will make quick work of this dish. See the cheat sheet photo below....

Leeks are good but any onion will work.... but leeks are good.

Zucchini Spinach Basil Soup w/ Corn

5 large zucchini, washed, sliced and salted
2 quarts fresh chopped or 2 bags frozen spinach
2 large bunch basil or 1/2 package of Dorot's frozen
2 large leeks, washed, halved and sliced
2 quarts vegetable broth or water
2 ears of fresh corn, sliced off the cob
salt & pepper
very fruity extra virgin olive oil

  • Toss sliced leeks into a large pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Sautée until soft.
  • Pat excess liquid from sliced/salted zucchini and add to pot.
  • Stir over med heat until zucchini is soft and changes texture, about 10 minutes.
  • Add spinach, basil and broth. If broth doesn't cover vegetables by 1/2" add more water. I'd add a couple generous shakes of salt here. Always coarse sea salt never that iodized table salt (just break up with that tiresome "the sun 'll come out tomorrow" girl already....).
  • Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Cool for 10 minutes and portion soup into a blender. Blend each batch on high for 2 minutes at least. Soup should be smooth and velvety. Don't worry if it seems frothy the soup will settle and lose the air.
  • Complete puree and return batch to the pot to simmer a bit longer.
  • Add more water, salt and pepper to attain your desired consistency and taste.
  • Corn can be flash sauteed over a high heat or steamed or even served raw if it's high summer and the corn is sweet.
This soup serves well poured hot with a mound of corn in the center, a garnish of fresh basil and a generous drizzle of your best olive oil. You could even add a dash of paprika or fresh ground pepper over the top.

Eat up!