baby pancakes

i've always been partial to fancy bite-sized appetizers that go well with a nice glass of champagne. blinis are traditional Russian buckwheat pancakes and great with caviar - lucky for me and my pocketbook though, i don't love caviar. but i DO love baby pancakes and the endless number of tasty toppings you can think of! a great snack to bring to a wine tasting party, an easy way to impress friends for the start of a dinner party or a fun kid-sized treat, blinis can go sweet or savory depending on your mood. here's a basic blini recipe and two quick toppings to get your imagination going!

Sweet or Savory Blini
makes approx. 16

6 tbs buckwheat flour
6 tbs all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/8 tsp lemon zest
2 eggs, separated
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking
optional: herbed goat cheese & soppresatta or lingonberry jam & creme fraiche
in a bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. add milk, egg yolks, lemon zest and cooled butter and whisk until smooth. in a separate bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. fold  egg whites, 1/2 at a time, into batter until incorporated.
heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and melt 1 tbs butter. cook 1 tbs of batter until little bubbles begin to form on top and then flip, about 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown.


salty & sweet

have you ever noticed that the best and most loved cookbooks in a collection usually include oil stains, chocolaty fingerprints, and stuck together pages? we've mentioned this amazing cookbook before and if you haven't already added Baked to your library, you really must! it's well on its way to being covered in gooey sweet deliciousness and is one of our favorites for creative baking. their signature salty & sweet cake was the grand finale of urban family easter and was a huge hit. we devoured it so quickly that we didn't even think to take a photo of the whole cake! guess, we'll just have to make it again sometime. the combination of chocolate, caramel and fleur de sel is absolutely amazing. you can watch matt lewis bake the sweet & salty with martha way back in 2006 here. does anyone else have a favorite recipe they've baked from this great cookbook yet?


beef, it's what's for dinner

looking back on recent posts, we realized that we haven't shared many beef recipes. with weather warming up, bbq season fast approaching and cinco de mayo just around the corner, we thought this simple marinade for easy & fresh carne asada tacos sounded perfect. you are welcome to throw in some sour cream, pico de gallo or any of your favorite taco garnishes but we wanted to keep this recipe basic and fresh, just like the delicious tacos we get at our local taqueria or taco truck. enjoy these tasty tacos on a warm afternoon with good friends and a great margarita!

Carne Asada Tacos

for the carne asada:
1 1/2 lbs flank steak
1 red onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1 chipolte chili in adobo, chopped
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs olive oil
place flank steak and all remaining marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag and massage to evenly distribute flavors over meat. refrigerate for minimum of 1 hour and up to 6 hours. preheat grill or grill pan over high heat. grill steak approximately 3 minutes per side, or until center reaches 145 degrees F, for medium doneness. let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

for the tacos:
1 1/2 lbs grilled & sliced carne asada
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1/2 onion, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, pitted, peeled & sliced
1-2 limes, cut into wedges
to assemble taco, place a few slices of steak in warmed tortilla and top with avocado, onions and cilantro. squeeze generously with juice from lime wedges.


midweek drink

i know its only wednesday but our need for a tasty cocktail is here.  i was shooting a wine/liqueur store for a story yesterday in orange county and the temptation was just too much.  over the weekend we had a little taste of st-germain elderflower liqueur so at this store we jumped all over it.  it has a sweet slightly floral taste.  we knew at first gulp we needed to add it to a new drink of the week.  and although we know we have over flooded you with mint recently, we couldn't overlook the fact that we have it growing so well in our garden boxes right now.  so we used the mint.  we made a orange flavored mojito accompanied by a little bit of that st-germain flavor which can replace the need for simple sugar.  the finished product can be a little bit on the sweet side for some, so add a dash of your favorite bitters if you so desire.

st-germain orange mojito

2oz white rum
2oz st-germain liqueur
2oz fresh squeezed orange juice
10 mint leaves 
2oz or so soda water to top
dash of bitters(optional)
place mint and st-germain in a cocktail shaker and muddle until mint is slightly bruised.  add rum, orange juice and ice and shake to mix.  pour all contents into glass and top with soda water.  if slightly too sweet, add a dash of bitters. enjoy


spring salad

here's a fresh, hearty side dish that we served along side the pineapple glazed ham at urban family easter this year. wheat berries are a fairly new grain to us but we just love the nutty taste and find them very similar to farro. the addition of tender young asparagus, fresh pea shoots and chopped mint screams spring and is a testament to the beautiful greens at farmer's market this month. we used this pesto recipe from a past post but decided to replace the parsley with basil for a more traditional flavor. enjoy!

Spring Wheat Berry Salad with Spinach Pesto
serves 8

2 cups wheat berries
2 leeks, white & light green parts only, thinly sliced and washed
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces & blanched
1 cup chopped pea shoots
1/4 cup chopped mint
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup spinach pesto (see recipe here)
2-4 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
3 oz crumbled goat cheese
in a large pot, combine wheat berries with 4 cups water and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer and cook until tender but left with a little chewiness, about 1 hour. drain well and set aside. meanwhile, heat 1 tbs olive oil in a saute pan and saute leeks until translucent and softened, about 8 minutes. in a large bowl, combine wheat berries with leeks, asparagus, pea shoots, mint, lemon juice and pesto and toss to coat. add extra olive to loosen the pesto if it is too thick and season with salt and pepper to taste. serve at room temperature and garnish with crumbled goat cheese.


foodie fun

here are a few quick polariods from a fabulous foodie trip we just took with a friend - sonoma, san francisco and santa cruz in three quick days. we had a great dinner with an old roommate in sonoma here and amazing pastries here, followed by lots of new orleans iced coffees here, a fabulous dinner here, and the most amazing long lunch of bloody marys, caesar salad, and famous roast chicken with creamy polenta and shoestring fries at Zuni Cafe. the image on the left is from a great park in hayes valley right by this adorable shop and the image on the right is the view from our hotel. our stomachs are still full but it was well worth every bite!



here is another delicious starter from urban family easter - a fava bean puree crostini. fava beans are a lot of work between the shelling, blanching and shelling again, but in our opinion they are one of nature's perfect tastes of spring. this recipe is an adaption of suzanne goin's fava puree in sunday suppers at lucques, an essential addition to any cookbook library. favas are fresh and light, creamy and flavorful and really shine through in this simple preparation.

Fava Bean Crostini with Pecorino

2 lbs fava beans in the pod
1 whole grain demi-batard or baguette, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roasted in oil until soft & browned
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt & pepper to taste
1 small wedge pecorino romano, shaved with vegetable peeler
bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. remove beans from their pods and blanch for 2 minutes. drain and rinse with cold water until cool. slip them out of their pale green shell with your fingers and set aside. heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a medium saute pan and add fava beans. lightly saute for 6-8 minutes until tender. set aside to cool slightly.
preheat oven to 375 degrees F. spread crostini in a single layer on a sheet pan and brush with remaining 3 tbs olive oil. bake until lightly brown and crisp, 12-15 minutes.
transfer cooled beans and oil to a food processor and puree. add garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. spread about 1 tbs of fava puree on each crostini and top with a thin shaving of cheese. enjoy! 


deviled eggs

as promised here are a few images and a recipe from our Urban Family Easter this past sunday. there was champagne and more champagne and lots of great friends and delicious food - it was a beautiful day to sit outside in the warm sun. we weren't able to take as many photos as we hoped once the main dishes were out and the serious eating began but this is a start, literally. these deviled eggs are our take on the traditional appetizer but with a tasty modern garnish of chive and bacon. and who doesn't love deviled eggs?!

Deviled Eggs
yields 40

24 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbs dijon mustard
2 tbs pickle juice, strained from jar
2 tsp lemon juice
4 dashes of your favorite hot sauce
salt & pepper to taste
4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and cut into small pieces
1 small bunch chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
place eggs in a large pot and cover with 1-inch cold water. bring to a boil, cover, turn off heat and let sit for 7-8 minutes. test one egg by removing from water, running under cold water and peeling. drain eggs and place in ice water bath until cold. peel, slice in half lengthwise and separate yolks and whites. in medium bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, mustard, pickle juice, lemon juice and hot sauce. add egg yolks and mash with a fork until smooth. season with salt and pepper to taste. put mixture in a piping bag fitting with a plain wide tip and pip mixture into egg whites. garnish each egg with a piece of bacon and chive.


urban family easter

as another year starts rushing by, easter comes screaming in.  we love easter for many reasons, and besides the obvious we love it for our yearly tradition of urban family easter.  we are on our 4th year and it gets better every time.  we always have the same system; friends bring the champagne and we do the food.  as we speak, we are cooking away, full of great tastes.  here are just a couple of sneak peeks of what we will blog about all week.  the bowl from mixing chocolate for a sweet and salty cake from the guys of baked in new york, and a sink full of dirty dishes from a bunch of other fun recipes.  we are making a martha stewart inspired ham to a bunch of sides we will share with great pics throughout the week, so stay tuned.  happy easter!!


happy birthday!

taking a day off from shooting and writing recipes today because it's my birthday! there's me celebrating my second birthday and my adorable parents in monument valley before i came along - thanks for everything mom & dad, i love you!

here are a few other things we're up to right now:
loving this great new book from the talented molly. she was also so kind to mention pictures & pancakes in this interview for W magazine's blog - thanks molly!
listening to the new joe purdy & bonnie prince billy albums again and again and again.
congratulations to our friend jen on this cover & feature - great to be a part of!
still planning our big easter brunch menu but definitely excited to try this recipe.


the greatest day... opening day.  in our household, not many days can compare with the opening day of the major league baseball season.  for most it's a fresh start for their team, as it is for us, but an added bonus is the start of the sights and smells of summer.  for my money, there is nothing better than a dog and a beer at any ball park in america.  there is just something about that classic combination, the crack of the bat, the cheer of the crowd and the opportunity for our angels to win it all this year.  this special year has the addition of the new yankees and new mets stadiums, which bring a new blend of the idea of food and sport together.  truly game changing stuff out there - we can't wait to partake in some ny baseball this year.  pictures above are a couple of dogs, on the left a chicago dog from a spring training game in arizona this year, and on the right, our version of our favorite dog (suggested below).  anyway you slice it, a dog tastes great at a game so get out there and have a few.  here is to celebrating the dog days of summer, no pun intended.  GO ANGELS!!!

the purcell dog

hebrew national beef knockwurst (our must have dog)
grilled chopped onion
heinz ketchup
gulden's spicy brown mustard
bread and butter pickle slices
oroweat country potato hot dog bun
add all or some of these to your favorite dog.  these ingredients are our favorite to put on a dog at home.  everyone has a different taste, make it your best.



we love a simple delicious salad for lunch or dinner - this one combines warm flaky salmon with fresh baby lettuces and a salty sweet asian dressing. the marinade and dressing are a great way to use up some of the white miso paste we mentioned last week! the baby romaine, baby red leaf and other fresh picked lettuce at farmer's market right now is so adorable! if you don't care for salmon, try this recipe with chicken or a nice white fish like halibut instead. enjoy!

Salmon Salad with Miso Dressing
serves 4

1/3 cup mirin
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs fresh grated ginger
2 tbs white miso paste
2 tsp sugar
juice 1/2 lemon
1 lb salmon filet, skin on
3 large handfuls of assorted lettuces, like baby romaine & baby spinach, washed & torn
1/2 cup pea shoots, chopped
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
3 green onions, sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced on mandolin
in a small bowl, combine mirin, soy sauce, ginger, miso, sugar and lemon juice and stir. place salmon in a large ziplock bag and cover with marinade. refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
preheat oven to 400 degrees F. heat a large oven-safe non-stick skillet over medium high heat. sear salmon, top side first for about 3-4 minutes per side, until nicely browned and crisp. transfer pan to oven and bake until just pink in the center, about 6 minutes depending on thickness of fish. set aside.
gently toss torn lettuces, pea shoots, snap peas, green onions and radishes together and divide between 4 shallow bowls or plates. break up salmon into chunks and divide between plates. drizzle with dressing and fresh ground pepper.

Miso Dressing
1/4 cup white miso paste
1 tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs mirin
2 tbs sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbs olive oil
in a small bowl, combine miso paste, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, sugar and lemon juice with 2 tbs hot water and stir to dissolve sugar. slowly whisk in olive oil and set aside.


breakfast of champions

did anyone happen to read this article on sunday? it reminded me that i still had half a bag of anasazi beans in the cupboard leftover from this recipe. chilaquiles is basically soggy tortilla chips - so the first time a friend said we absolutely had to have them at la super rica, julia child's favorite taqueria, we didn't jump at the offer. but after the first spicy, soggy, crispy, sweet mouthful, we were hooked. there are loads of recipes out there and they all add a little something different - eggs, beans, shredded chicken, salsa verde, etc. here's the recipe we made for breakfast this morning and can't stop talking about!

Breakfast Chilaquiles
serves 2

1/3 cup olive oil
5 corn tortillas, each cut into 8 triangles
1 cup homemade or store bought salsa (more liquid, less chunks works best)
3/4 cup drained, cooked beans such as anasazi
2 green onions, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
avocado, sour cream & fresh cilantro for garnish
in a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. fry the tortillas, turning constantly with tongs, until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. carefully add salsa - it will splatter and bubble. cook for 2 minutes, turning constantly, until tortillas soak up most of the salsa. add beans, stir to combine and keep warm on low heat. in a small skillet, cook green onion over medium high heat for 1 minute until wilted. add eggs and scramble, stirring constantly. stir in cheese about 30 seconds before eggs are finished cooking. to serve, divide tortilla bean mixture between two plates. top with scrambled eggs and garnish with diced avocado, sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro. enjoy!