Summer Squash Crostini

Zucchini Crostini Sweet, grassy squash is sauteed with olive oil, lemon and rosemary, then arranged atop a garlic-rubbed, ricotta-slathered slice of baguette.  These handheld treats have the most satisfying contrast in both flavor and texture.  The crisp, toasted bread against the tender rounds of zucchini and squash.  The cool, creamy ricotta against the sharp bite of garlic and soaring brightness of lemon.  So. Yum.

Summer Squash Crostini is a simple yet elegant way to use up the bounty of beautiful squash available at the markets right now.  Serve these bites as an appetizer at a backyard bash, or pair with a chilled summer soup for a light dinner.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Caramelized Garlic Tart

Caramelized 40 Clove Garlic Tart

A golden round of puff pastry is filled with a tangy goat cheese custard and 40 cloves of garlic caramelized in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, thyme and rosemary.  In other words, heaven.  Several weeks ago, I was on quite the tart binge, and too be honest, this one is my favorite.  Well, my favorite savory tart at least.

The filling for this tart is a bit involved, but you can certainly make the caramelized garlic mixture in advance.  You can actually make this entire tart in advance and rewarm when needed.  Packed with bold flavor, this Caramelized Garlic Tart would fit perfectly in any brunch spread, or could be eaten for dinner with a light, acidic salad.  If you love garlic as much as I do, then you will surely go crazy for this tart.  So yum.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Paleo Recipes: Week of May 13

Coconut Yogurt With posts like this and this and this, you may have thought I was off the Paleo Diet.  But that’s totally not the case.  I’m still going strong :)  I did put on several pounds after my trip to NYC though.  With dining destinations like Le Bernadin, The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, Eataly, Baked and the Momofuku Noodle Bar, it was close to impossible for me to follow Paleo guidelines.  But I don’t go on many vacations throughout the year, so I was totally fine with breaking the rules.  I’ve got three recipes below that have helped me get back on track.  They’re easy to prepare and packed with flavor.  Each recipe also has a richness that makes you forget the fact that you are eating diet food.  Citrus Avocado Dip, Coconut Yogurt, and Chorizo Meatloaf recipes below.

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Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa

Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa Several days ago, temperatures in San Diego shot up to the mid 80’s and 90’s, causing an almost instantaneous craving for summer flavors.  Fresh berries, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, grilled meats and gloriously green herbs.  I immediately got in my car to do some grocery shopping.  Windows down.  A warm breeze blowing.  Spotify on full blast.  Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa in mind.

This recipe captures the essence of summer.  Smoky, succulent pulled pork is encased in corn masa, then steamed until light and tender.  Accompanying the tamal is a corn salsa spiked with red onion, serrano chile and chopped cilantro.  This salsa is fresh, fresh, fresh.  A perfect counter to the richness of the tamal.  Summer, I am ready for you.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Paleo Recipes: Week of March 18

Chicken Larb1 If you haven’t been following along over these past 6 weeks, I’m on the Paleo Diet.  And I need to start by saying I’m now down 13 pounds!  This weight loss is purely from changing my diet.  I have yet to start working out.  I actually hate working out, but I know I need to get started soon.  Over the weekends, I’m still allowing myself to enjoy non-paleo foods (like Homemade Crème Fraîche).  This really helps to keep me on track during the week.

The paleo recipes I’ve got for you today are:  Flank Steak Salad, Chicken Larb and Green Soup.  These three recipes are packed with flavor and easy to prepare any day of the week.  Also, the leftovers are just as tasty the next day for lunch.  When I eat food that has big, bold flavors, I easily forget that I’m on a diet.  Continue reading for the recipes.

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Paleo Recipes: Week of February 18

Salad with Pickled Vegetables Ok so you may be looking at the title of this article and scratching your head a bit.  Paleo?!  What is that?  Well last week I had mentioned that I was just finishing up a 5 day Paleo challenge.  Paleo (short for Paleolithic) is a newer diet out right now that mimics the diet of a caveman.  This doesn’t mean that I was chewing on raw raptor steaks for 5 days.  Instead, I enjoyed meals mainly made of meat, seafood, nuts, fruits and vegetables.  I’ll get more into the details below.

Diet is a four letter word I usually don’t use around here, but I’ve been wanting to improve my eating habits during the work week, and I’m also looking drop a few lbs, so I decided to give the Paleo Diet a try.  Results?  I lost 6 pounds in 1 week!  So crazy.  Continue reading below for more details plus three tasty recipes.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork has been in my recipe repertoire for over 4 years now.  Consistently delicious, this pulled pork is succulent, smokey and unbelievably tender.  The best part?  It’s so easy.  Marbled chunks of pork are showered in a fragrant flurry of spices, then cooked for hours in a bath of liquid smoke.  Usually, you should use liquid smoke sparingly; however, this recipe calls for an unabashed 1/2 cup.  As the pork cooks throughout the day, you’re entire house will be enveloped by an drool-inducing fragrance.  The finished pork is packed with a smoky savoriness that one would think came from hours of cooking in a traditional smoker.

Years ago, I served this pulled pork with a cool, crunchy slaw on top.  Recently, I’ve been substituting in tart pickled red onions.  I love the contrast of the rich meat and the spicy, acidic pickles.  Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is perfect for a crowd, and would certainly fit in at any testosterone-charged Super Bowl party.  You need to make this.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Fat-Free Mac and Cheese [well, virtually fat-free]

Fat-Free Mac and Cheese Yes, you read that correctly.  Fat-Free Mac and Cheese.  Well, to be honest, I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t 100% guarantee that there is no fat in this recipe.  But through the wonders of Modernist cooking, I’m presenting a full-flavored, utterly addicting mac and cheese recipe that contains virtually no fat.  Miniature macaroni shells are cooked in water that’s been infused with the flavors of Jack and Gruyère cheese.  The mac and cheese is then finished with a silky cauliflower puree that mimics the cream and butter usually found in other calorie-laden recipes.  After just one bite, I exclaimed “OMG!”  The cheese flavor is quite unbelievable.

I mentioned above that this is a Modernist recipe, one that I’ve adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home.  To make the flavorful cooking broth for this mac and cheese, you’ll need to cook cheese and water using the sous vide method.  Now, I know what you may be thinking, “Sous vide?  Really?”  But before you check out, let me explain.

The sous vide method was one that I previously thought was just for professional chefs.  A method that requires fancy, high-priced machinery.  After a few months of experimentation, I’m here to tell you that this method is not just for professional chefs.  Basically, sous vide is the process of cooking food sealed in a plastic bag in a temperature controlled water bath.  This is a process that any home cook can accomplish.  Continue reading for my stove top sous vide method that utilizes everyday kitchen equipment.

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Brandon’s 2012 Top Picks

Frozen Seared Steak

Here’s a brief roundup of my top recipes from 2012.  I’ve really grown to enjoy writing this type of article each year.  Skimming through my archives, I get flooded with all sorts of fond memories.  During the month of February, I posted a number of Mexican recipes that I had prepared for Valentine’s Day.  I had led my boyfriend to believe that he was getting steak and salad for dinner, then surprised him with an entirely Mexican feast (he’s Mexican by the way).  In June, I moved from a beautiful house to a new apartment.  I find it interesting to see how my photography has changed since transitioning into the new space.  In September, I started experimenting with fermentation after enjoying an afternoon with a group of lovely San Diego Food Bloggers.

I’ve found that many of my good memories throughout the year have food associated with them.  I still remember the pickled quince served to a gathering of close friends for Thanksgiving.  The corned beef my mother prepared my first evening back in New Jersey (after 4 years!).  The citrusy walktails consumed during the Coachella Music Festival (a walktail is a cocktail you drink while walking from your car to the venue).  My first bite of caramelized onion and jalapeno-topped, cream cheese-slathered, sriracha-drizzled hot dog enjoyed with an old friend on his porch in Poughkeepsie.  A glorious sip of intensely flavored shrimp broth at a taco spot in Tijuana with my boyfriend.  Like I said above… flooded.  Continue reading for my top picks of 2012.  Also, please share some of your favorite 2012 food memories.

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Kimchi and Bacon Pizza

Kimchi and Bacon Pizza

Last week, I shared my recipe for a BLT with Avocado Spread, a sammich I like to make when my schedule gets super busy.  This Kimchi and Bacon Pizza is another quick and easy recipe perfect after a long work day.  The secret to whipping up a delicious pizza in a matter of moments?  Pre-made dough.  Making dough from scratch is simple; however, I find all of the kneading and rising and waiting and resting quite off-putting.  Especially when I’ve been working 50 – 60 hour weeks!  Instead, I purchase dough from a local pizzeria for a buck or two.  I urge you to call around to your local pizza parlors (not Papa John’s or Dominoes), and ask them if they sell dough.  You’d be surprised at how many say yes!

Topped with smokey bacon and salty-sour kimchi, this pizza is bold, fragrant and packed with mouth-watering flavor.  After just one bite, you won’t be able to stop eating (I know I couldn’t!).  Kimchi, usually an acquired taste, can vary greatly based on where you buy it.  Don’t be afraid of it though :)  I found a delicious organic kimchi at a local farmer’s market.  If you don’t like the first one you taste, try another brand!  When cooked in the oven, the kimchi mellows out a bit, and melts into the cheese and tomato sauce, creating something quite harmonious.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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