i scream, you scream

everyone loves ice cream. i've also always loved the combination of oranges and cream - creamsicles, orange julius, orange sherbet. i haven't had most of these in years so when i saw these beautiful blood oranges at the market, i thought ice cream would be a fun thing to make. a traditional sherbet recipe is lighter than ice cream and contains egg whites instead of yolks but this is a more traditional ice cream recipe. it stirs up memories of melty bright orange sherbet on a hot summer day, now with a little more sophisticated color and flavor.

Blood Orange Ice Cream
makes about 3 cups

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split open
pinch of salt
2 tbs orange zest
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup blood orange juice, about 6 small oranges
in a heavy saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean, salt, and zest. bring to a boil and remove from heat. beat together egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until pale and frothy. slowly add warm milk mixture while constantly whisky until well combined. pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats back of a wooden spoon. remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a metal bowl set in a larger metal bowl of ice and water. whisk to release heat and let cool about 10 minutes. stir in blood orange juice and freeze in ice cream maker. transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hard.


for the love of root beer

help!!!  well not really help in its dramatic emergency sense, but in the can you help a friend out.  we have been on the search for the perfect bottle or can of root beer.  we dont even really have a deep life long obsession for the drink, but we have always loved it.  i think the desire to find our favorite came from a thought at hadleys in cabazon, ca on a road trip stop.  we were looking in the drink case and I wondered why out of all the soda like drinks we consume in the world, why root beer has so many more varieties than all the others.  there is only really coke and pepsi, 7-up and sprite and all the others with their limits.  but root beer has so many more.  so, in pure indulgent fashion, we bought all the different kinds they had(and a date shake, when at hadleys, you have to).  

so that gets us to here, we have had about 12 different ones and are looking for help to find the worlds best root beer.  we would love your suggestions.  it has to be in a bottle or can, as we have a hard time traveling to drink it out of a tap.  I know that some people like it sweet and some with more of a bite, but being husband and wife, we already have our his and hers favorites.  I love the sprecher the best and she loves the virgil's, each lovely in their different ways.  please leave a comment and we will try and track it down.  we will keep you updated as we go.


five spice pork

this is a dish that really shows of the simplicity of asian cuisine. it's refreshing that something so basic can be so comforting - a big bowl of warm noodles, rich broth, tender pork and hearty greens. we could eat something like this every day! it's always fun and inspiring to slowly walk through the aisles of your local asian grocery and that's where we found these gorgeous soba noodles, spicy sambal oelek and gai lan. gai lan is also known as chinese kale or chinese broccoli and is very similar in taste to broccoli raab.

Five Spice Pork with Soba Noodles & Miso

1 lb pork tenderloin
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs ground coriander
1 tsp five spice powder
32 oz reduced sodium chicken stock
8 oz soba noodles
6-8 crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbs white miso paste
1 small bunch asian leafy greens (gai lan or choy sum), sliced
2 tbs soy sauce
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1-2 tbs sambal oelek, optional (hot chili paste)
preheat oven to 400 degrees F. rub pork tenderloin with a few drops of sesame oil and coat well with coriander, five spice, salt and pepper. roast until cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
in a large saucepan, bring stock and 1 cup water to a boil. add the noodles and mushrooms and simmer for 3-4 minutes. whisk in miso paste and add leafy greens. continue to simmer until greens are wilted, about 3-4 minutes. stir in soy sauce and remove from heat.
divide noodles and vegetables between bowls, top with sliced pork and cover with broth. garnish with a few more drops of sesame oil, sliced green onion and a little sambal oelek for heat. enjoy!


fast food

all of the sudden the mint growing in a box on our patio is looking extra green and healthy. i never think of using mint in savory dishes and tend to just make a big batch of mojitos when i have too much. this is a quick and easy recipe that's actually healthy and makes use of a little mint too! if you can't find sumac in the spice section of your local market, you can always order it from penzy but definitely don't leave it out! one of my first encounters with this spice was when i styled this recipe for a bon appetit shoot. it adds a wonderful fresh lemony flavor to many middle eastern dishes and is definitely worth adding to your spice collection.

Couscous with Minted Yogurt

1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbs mint, chopped plus leaves for garnish
1 cup whole wheat couscous
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 tsp sumac
2 tbs olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
in a small bowl, combine yogurt, 1 tbs lemon juice and chopped mint. mix well and set aside. bring 1 cup water to a boil with a pinch of salt. remove from heat and add couscous. stir well, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. meanwhile, steam carrots and zucchini until tender. uncover couscous and fluff with a fork. in a mixing bowl, combine couscous with steamed vegetables, beans, sumac, olive oil, 1 tbs lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. serve with minted yogurt and garnish with a few mint leaves. enjoy!



we just got home from a wonderful week in sunny arizona visiting family and really got to experience spring with all of our senses. the overwhelming smell of sweet orange blossoms every evening as the sun went down filled the air for hours; citrus trees were full of both flowers and fruit (which made great fresh squeezed juice every morning); bright white apple blossoms began to appear; bees and bumble bees were working overtime; and the sun was warm on our skin as we sat at the ballpark or did cartwheels in the grass. happy first day of spring!


st. paddy's

this is a dish we made this year to keep in mind for next year's feast. hope everyone had a great st. patrick's day filled with lots of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and Guinness! if you have any leftover you should definitely try making patties and frying them up for breakfast. besides cabbage, the traditional recipe calls for other greens and what's used usually varies depending on the region in ireland it is prepared. we used spinach and it was wonderful but any combination of potatoes and butter is probably great. enjoy!


4 lbs red potatoes, partially peeled & quartered
12 tbs unsalted butter
1/2 head green cabbage, cored & sliced
2 cups chopped greens (spinach, parsley, kale or broccoli leaves)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup milk, warmed
salt & pepper to taste
in a large pot, simmer potatoes until tender, about 30-40 minutes. meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water and 2 tbs butter to a boil in a small pot. add cabbage and reduce heat to medium. cook until tender, about 15 minutes. drain well and set aside. in a large skillet, melt 2 tbs butter over medium high heat and add chopped greens and green onions. saute until just wilted, add cabbage and keep warm.
drain potatoes well and return to pot. add warm milk and remaining butter and mash with a potato masher, leaving some chunks. add cabbage mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.


when life gives you oranges...

when life gives you tons and tons of extra oranges and you just cant possibly drink another glass of oj, give the gift of orange whisky marmalade. as canning has become a new part of our kitchen activities, the desire to try newer and newer foods to can every week increases. we made this tasty marmalade after the desire to have a new excuse to eat more bread. I know we all try to eat less and less carbs, but lets be honest, if you have a surplus of amazing whisky orange flavored marmalade to spread around, bread "must" be in your house. we really love this marmalade because of the natural pectin from the seeds, no added pectin! we like to put it in small canning jars to ensure that we can spread this batch around to friends and have enough to last throughout the year. we hope you enjoy!

whisky orange marmalade

2 lbs valencia oranges
2 lemons
3 tbs whisky
18 oz sugar (for every 2 cups of fruit pulp)
cut fruit in half and juice. remove seeds and place in a cheese cloth and tie with a string. cut fruit into quarters and lay skin side down. using a knife, remove remaining flesh and pith from the rind and throw away. thinly slice the rest of the rind and place is a stainless steel bowl with the juice and the seeds in the cheese cloth. add about 7 cups of water. cover and refrigerate overnight.
place all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours or until the rinds are soft. remove seed bag and let cool a bit and using tongs, squeeze over saucepan to extract pectin. measure the amount of fruit and add the correct amount of sugar as stated in recipe ingredients above. add whisky and return to a boil. simmer for another 35-40 mins. until starting to set.
place a spoon in the freezer for testing setting stage. to test, place 2 tbs. of marmalade on cold spoon and return to freezer for 2 mins.. remove and gently move finger through the middle of the set marmalade. if it stays in two separate halves, its done. start your general canning process.


gin & ginger

a few weeks ago before going to see this wonderful author & chef speak in santa barbara (which was great!), we spent a little time in the kitchen creating a new cocktail with our friend jen. she dubbed our refreshing discovery the giny gin gin and you'll see why once you take a look at the simple list of ingredients. i'd love to be snobby and tell you to make this cocktail with a fancy spicy ginger beer or ginger brew but we've tried it both ways and good old Vernors ginger ale is best. does anyone recognize where we collected these great orange stir sticks from? i'll give you a hint - sand on our feet, salt water on our skin and many many mai tais.

The Giny Gin Gin

1.5 oz top shelf gin, such as Hendricks
1 oz domaine de canton ginger liquer
4 oz ginger ale
juice of 1/2 lime
pour all ingredients over ice in a highball glass and mix well. garnish with additional lime wedge if desired.


simple pleasures

a bowl of granola for breakfast is one of life's simple pleasures. it's one of those things that seems to cost way too much at the market and then you remember just how easy it is to make at home. making it also allows you to clean out your pantry of the various fruit and nut bags that are slowly taking over. as with many of our recipes, feel free to use a combination of whatever you have on hand or whatever flavors you like best. but don't leave out the pepitas! they are roasted & salted pumpkin seeds and are a beautiful green color - they add a delicious sweet & salty element to this granola. whether you like a big bowl filled with milk or a little granola with yogurt and honey, we hope you enjoy some soon.

Granola with Pepitas & Dried Fruit

1 cup whole raw almonds
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups salted & roasted pepitas
1 cup dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
preheat oven to 375 degrees F. roast almonds on a sheet pan for 10-12 minutes or until fragrant and lightly colored. let cool, coarsely chop and set aside. reduce oven to 300 degrees F. on a sheet pan, toss oats with honey and oil and spread into a thin layer. bake 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden, stirring halfway during baking. let cool slightly. in a large bowl, combine chopped almonds, toasted oats and remaining ingredients. store at room temperature in an airtight container.



everything really is better with bacon. remember that extra pork belly we mentioned last week? well, it magically became bacon after seven days of resting in the refrigerator, covered in a combination of salt, sugar and aromatic spices. besides sending friends home with slabs of cured pork belly, we had lots of bacon for breakfast with eggs, cooked up beautiful lardons to go in all our salads and made plenty of simple sandwiches like the blt pictured. we really needed one of these! making bacon was an easy and fun process i highly recommend trying at least once in your lifetime. enjoy!

Home-Cured Bacon

2 1/2 lbs skin-on pork belly
3 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tbs garlic salt
1 tsp ground espresso
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
trim pork belly to square off edges so you have a nicely shaped slab. rinse the pork, pat it dry and transfer to a large sheet of parchment paper. in a spice grinder, combine salt, peppercorns and bay leaves and grind. in a small bowl, combine with remaining ingredients. rub seasoning all over pork. transfer to a gallon plastic bag and seal. refrigerate on a sheet tray for 7 days, flipping the bag every other day. some brine will accumulate in the bag. after 7 days, the bacon should feel firm to the touch. remove bacon from the bag and wash thoroughly under cold water. pat dry with paper towels. preheat oven to 200 degrees F. roast bacon on a sheet pan until meat is lightly browned and internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F, about 2 hours. transfer to a cutting board and cool. slice off the skin. once completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 3 months. thinly slice with a long sharp knife or cut into lardons to fry.


restaurant week- friday

as our version of restaurant week rolls to an end, i sit here sipping on a yummy treat that gets your day running.  if you have ever found yourself wondering through the amazing hayes valley in san fran, you might have stumbled upon linden street where a little kiosk is parked in a garage.  this san fran spot, blue bottle coffee, has some of the most lip licking coffee and espresso drinks you will ever sip on.  on a hot day a couple years ago, I came upon this new orleans iced coffee.  it is a strong, sweet, wonderful libation.  the mix of coffee and chicory make for a tasty sipper.  blue bottle has now opened a wonderful cafe right in downtown sf where they have lots of tasty food as well.  you can shop online and order this coffee kit, as well as many of their great other blends.  the new orleans iced coffee kit comes with a pound of beans and a serving of french chicory along with the recipe for making it.  i cant tell you how highly i recommend this steeped treat.  


restaurant week- thursday

when i worked on this cookbook back in my days as a photo assistant, i knew when this cookbook hit stores it would be an instant classic.  although trattoria grappolo is not a household name, it is one of the california central coast wine country's must eats.  from the amazing fresh baked focaccia to the pizza con salame toscano, head chef leonardo curti has made simple traditional italian cuisine that will knock your socks off.  our favorite, and something we've had many times, is their calamari alla positano.  this calamari stuffed with smoked mozzarella and prosciutto leaves me wanting more and more.  next time you are out wine tasting in the central coast or staying in santa barbara, be sure to stop by this place, you will not be disappointed.  

Calamari alla Positano
(from Trattoria Grappolo)

1 lb. fresh calamari tubes w/ tentacles
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella cheese
2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dry oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs chopped italian parsley
2 slices prosciutto
olive oil
wash and clean calamari, and separate tubes from the tentacles; set aside in a colander to drain.  in a blender or cuisinart, pulse mozzarella, parmesan, oregano, garlic, parsley and prosciutto until combined.  place the mixture into a piping bag and then fill the calamari tubes.  with a toothpick, attach the tentacles to the bottom of the tube hole and close the opening.  lightly brush the calamari with olive oil.  bring a non stick pan to high heat and add the calamari.  cook each side for approximately 2 minutes.


restaurant week- wednesday

thomas keller is a genius and bouchon bakery is one of those places we can't get enough of. if you're a regular reader, you know we have eaten at bouchon and bouchon bakery in las vegas and napa valley many many times - sometimes more than once in a singele day! rumor has it a bakery is coming to los angeles and we are anxiously awaiting it's arrival. it's hard to pick just one favorite item from a place like this so we decided on the bakery's signature chocolate bite. these small brownie cakes are baked in a mold to resemble the shape of a cork, "bouchon" in french. you can purchase the mold at williams-sonoma and they even sell a mix but why not make the recipe from scratch which is written in the bouchon cookbook. it's a beautiful book filled with inspiring photos and wonderful recipes for traditional french bistro fare. enjoy!

Chocolate Bouchons
(from Bouchon by Thomas Keller)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
24 tbs unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm
6 oz semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona 55%, chopped
confectioners' sugar for dusting
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl. in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes or until thick and pale. mix in the vanilla. on low speed, add 1/3 dry ingredients, then 1/3 butter and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. add the chocolate and mix to combine.
put the mold on a baking sheet. fill each mold about 2/3 full. bake 25 minutes or until the tops look set like a brownie and a cake tester comes out clean. transfer to a cooling rack. after a few minutes, invert and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds, then lift the mold off. dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with ice cream is desired.


restaurant week- tuesday

so, our tuesday post of our favorite restaurant recipe week, just happens to be un-fittingly called "monday meatballs."  these lovely treats come from one of the most amazing places in the world, A16.  this san francisco staple is a chestnut street treat, serving southern italian food, named from the italian motorway that runs from naples to canosa.  when we were lucky enough to eat here, we were floored by the house-cured salumi and some of their amazing pizzas. although this cookbook has many unreal recipes, we chose the monday meatballs, one of our all time favorites.  we recommend grinding the meat yourself if you can, and eat them fresh out of the oven.  if there is any book to pick up this year, this might be the one.  

Monday Meatballs
(from A16)

10 oz. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes and ground in a meat grinder or food processor
10 oz. beef chuck, cut into 1 inch cubes and ground in a meat grinder or food processor
6 oz. day-old country bread, torn into chunks and ground in a food processor
2 oz. pork fat, cut into 1 inch cubes and ground in a meat grinder or chilled in a freezer for 15 mins. and chopped in a food processor
2 oz. prosciutto, cut into 1 inch cubes and ground through a meat grinder or chopped in a food processor
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tbs plus 2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried chile flakes
2/3 cup fresh ricotta, drained if necessary
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
1 (280z.) can san marzano tomatoes with juices
handful of fresh basil leaves
block of grana for grating
extra virgin olive oil for finishing

preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with olive oil.
in a large bowl, combine the pork, beef, bread, pork fat, prosciutto, parsley, 1 tbs of salt, oregano, fennel seeds, and chile flakes and mix with your hands just until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. set aside.
in a separate bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, and milk just enough to break up any large curds of ricotta.  add the ricotta mixture to the ground meat mixture and mix lightly with your hands just until incorporated.  the mixture should feel wet and tacky.  pinch off a small nugget of the mixture, flatten into a disk, and cook it in a small saute pan.  taste it, and adjust the seasoning of the mixture of salt if needed. form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls each weighing about 2oz., and place on the prepared baking sheets.  you should have about 30 meatballs.
bake, rotating the sheets once from front to bake, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are browned.  remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.  
sprinkle the tomatoes with the remaining 2 tsp salt, and then pass the tomatoes and their juices through a food mill fitted with a medium plate.  alternatively, put the entire can of tomatoes in a large bowl, don an apron, and squeeze the tomatoes into small pieces with your hands.
pack the meatballs into 1 large roasting pan or 2 small roasting pans.  pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs, cover tightly with foil, and braise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meatballs are tender and have absorbed some of the tomato sauce.
pull the pans out of the oven and uncover.  distribute the basil leaves throughout the sauce.
for each serving, ladle meatballs with some of the sauce into a warmed bowl.  grate grana over the top, drizzle with olive oil to finish, and serve immediately.


restaurant week

we decided to make this first week of march our version of restaurant week! for our posts this week, we're going to feature recipes from some of our favorite places - places that inspire us, delight us and have a particular dish that we just can't get enough of. 

we were lucky enough to hear about momofuku noodle bar about a year before david chang was in every food magazine imaginable and now we make sure to get a few amazing pork buns every time we visit manhattan. gourmet magazine published the recipe for these amazing sandwiches in october 2007 and we finally got around to trying them at home this past week.  we recently received 8 pounds of pork belly from a friend (don't you wish all friends came with pork belly?!) and in addition to the bacon currently brining in the fridge, we knew we had to try the recipe. another great memory from that first visit to the crowded restaurant in the east village was discovering hitachino white ale. it's from the kiuchi brewery in japan and is a Belgian style white ale with plenty of orange peel and spices, plus the logo on the bottle and cap is the cutest little orange owl you've ever seen! unfortunately, the noodle bar no longer serves this fantastic beer but you can find it at specialty liquor stores and markets with amazing imported beer selections across the country. it is definitely worth seeking out and a great pair to the steamed pork belly buns. the recipe is a bit long with many steps but the end result is SO worth it - they taste exactly like the little pieces of heaven that put momofuku and all it's glory on the culinary map. get the recipe here, find some hitachino (or order it here) and have a pork bun party as soon as possible!