White Bean, Fennel and Chorizo Salad in a Jar

I have a confession to make.  Over the past several years, I’ve developed quite a jar obsession.

Salad in a Jar Two and half years ago, I was only a few months into dating my boyfriend Jorge.  He was heading up to San Francisco at the time to visit friends, and I asked him to bring me some items from the city.  Can you guess what I asked him for?  Not a loaf or two of glorious SF sourdough.  No chocolate from Ghirardelli.  No artisan, hand-crafted this or that.  Instead, I asked for jars.  Particularly Weck Jars from Heath Ceramics.  At the time, they were a bit of a rarity.  Crate & Barrel and West Elm hadn’t started selling them yet.  I was completely elated the evening Jorge walked through the door carrying two large bags filled with carefully-wrapped Weck Jars.  This obsession has continued ever since.

With such a wide variety of glass beauties at my fingertips, I’m always looking for new ways to use my jars.  And now, I’m jumping on the Salad in a Jar bandwagon.  Here’s the basic idea: salad ingredients are layered inside a large canning jar in such a way that the greens stay crisp and fresh.  Liquids at the bottom.  Greens at the top.  With this framework in place, you can make a number of jarred salads on the weekend to enjoy throughout the week.  Continue reading for my layering technique plus a Salad in a Jar recipe that uses white beans, fennel and chorizo.

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Rainbow Fruit Purees

San Diego LGBT Pride is this weekend, and I’m celebrating with a kaleidoscope of organic fruit purees.  Each puree destined for a glass of champs of course ;)

Rainbow Fruit Making your own fruit purees at home is an easy task.  Simply blend ripe, organic fruit with sugar and citrus juice, strain, and serve!  That’s it.  For reals.  Sugar and citrus (lemon, lime or orange) help to amp up the flavors of any fresh fruit.  Once you’ve mastered one puree, try making a vibrant rainbow of purees with strawberries, papaya, mango, honeydew, watermelon, blueberries and blackberries.  All the organic produce featured in this article was purchased at the new Jimbo’s… Naturally! at Westfield Horton Plaza.  They have a seriously gorgeous selection of fresh herbs and fruit.

You can serve this edible spectrum with champagne, sparkling wine, Prosecco or sparkling water.  Place a few tablespoons of puree at the bottom of a glass, then top of with bubbly.  A perfect addition to any Pride Weekend brunch table!  Continue reading for the recipes.

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Tomato Confit Pasta

With just 3 fresh ingredients and minimal effort, you can have a plate of this seasonal pasta on the table in under 1 hour.

Tomato Confit Pasta I know the word confit may conjure up some feelings of worry and anxiety, but I assure you, the process couldn’t be easier.  The term confit is typically associated with meat (especially duck), but can also be applied to fruits and vegetables.  Confit simply means to cook something in fat at a low temperature for a longer period of time.

Here, I’m tossing cooked pasta with slow-roasted tomato confit and chopped fresh basil.  To make the tomato confit, simply toss cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil in olive oil, and slow-roast for 45 minutes.  The resulting tomatoes will soften and blister, releasing some of their juices on to the pan.  The tomatoes and juices will have a wonderfully concentrated tomato flavor.  The pasta cooks up while the tomatoes are in the oven, keeping cook time to a minimum.  For best results, give this recipe a try while tomatoes are in season.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Garlic Infused Vodka

I’m keeping things really simple today.

Roasted Garlic Infused Vodka This quick and easy vodka infusion is perfect for anyone who loves garlic as much as I do.  Roasted Garlic Infused Vodka can be made in just 24 hours with only a handful of ingredients.  The sweet-savory aroma and flavor work perfectly in one of my favorite cocktails, the Bloody Mary.  I’ve got a new Blood Mary recipe coming up next, so be sure to check back in soon :)  Continue reading for the recipe!

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Brown Butter Snacking Cake

This cake is my secret weapon.

Brown Butter Snacking Cake That’s right, it’s a secret weapon against any sweet cravings that may come along when I’ve got practically nothing in my refrigerator.  Made with the most basic ingredients, this Brown Butter Snacking Cake is a shining example of how, with a little technique, you can make something incredibly satisfying from just pantry and fridge staples.  Let’s talk ingredients: butter, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk, sour cream, and turbinado sugar.  Simple, right?  The magic is the pairing of brown butter and brown sugar.

When you cook butter over a medium flame, the water in the butter evaporates, and the milk solids eventually caramelize, turning the liquid golden brown.  The resulting brown butter has a seductive, warm, nutty flavor and aroma that perfectly compliments the molasses notes of brown sugar.  Flour, baking powder, and eggs are added to the mix for structure; salt and vanilla to amp up flavor; and milk and sour cream for moisture.  A final sprinkling of turbinado sugar provides a crunchy contrast.

My Brown Butter Snacking Cake is not only tasty, it’s also easy to prepare and super versatile.  After you brown the butter, this cake batter can be made in just one bowl.  No stand or hand mixers required.  I usually cook this cake in a 10″ cast iron skillet, but any baking dish would work.  I like to call this a “snacking cake,” because I find myself snacking on it all day long.  A little slice with jam for breakfast, or a big slice with honey-sweetened ricotta and sliced peaches for dessert.  I’ve even layered it with vanilla ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce!  It pairs well with just about anything in your fridge/freezer.  Continue reading for the recipe.  I’ve also announced the winner of the WestRidge Beef Big Steaks package below.

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The Slutty Negroni at Sea & Smoke

Slutty Negroni Sea & Smoke Sea & Smoke is the latest restaurant by one of San Diego’s top chefs, Matt Gordon.  He’s also responsible for my favorite restaurant, Urban Solace, and Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, an Encinitas hot spot that I like to call “Suburban Solace.”  All three well-designed restaurants specialize in some seriously tasty New American cuisine plus a craveable selection of craft cocktails.  Aside from the drinks, what I love most about these restaurants is that their menus change with the seasons, allowing for a new, exciting experience each time I visit.

Jorge and I had brunch at Sea & Smoke this past Sunday, and I’ll have to say that, once again, Matt Gordon does not disappoint.  The lovely libation pictured above is a new cocktail at Sea & Smoke called The Slutty Negroni.  Made with rye, Cocchi Americano Rosa (an Italian aperitif wine), and dry vermouth, this red-hued beauty is a perfect way to down an ounce or two of whisky.  The Cocchi Americano Rosa adds intrigue while mellowing out the burn of the rye.  Dry vermouth is added for balance.  Continue reading to get a recipe for Sea & Smoke’s Slutty Negroni plus highlights from our brunch.

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Cardamom Breakfast Cereal with Fresh Raspberries

If you follow me on Instagram, this may look familiar.

Cardamom Breakfast Cereal

When I’m not eating chia pudding, this Cardamon Breakfast Cereal with Fresh Raspberries is my go-to for early morning eats.  Old-fashioned oats are mixed with freshly ground cardamom, sliced almonds, dried currants, and flaked coconut, then splashed with sweetened almond milk.  After a 5 minute hydrate, the cereal is finished with gloriously red raspberries.  If you are a fan of cardamom, each bite of this healthy breakfast cereal is pure heaven.  Raspberries and cardamom are a perfect match.

Aside from the flavor, three things I love about this cereal are its convenience, versatility, and cost.  I like to make a batch of homemade cereal on Sunday, so I can easily enjoy for breakfast throughout the week.  Also, most of the elements of this cereal can be switched out.  Don’t like almonds?  Add pecans.  Can’t find currants at your grocery store?  Try raisins.  Raspberries not in season?  Go for apples.  You could even sub in cinnamon for the cardamom.  Flavor combinations are endless!  Finally, this recipe is cheap.  Cereal in grocery stores is obscenely expensive.  There’s no need for that.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Raw Kale Salad

Raw Kale Salad Jorge and I just got back from a spectacular trip to Charleston, South Carolina.  Thanks again for all of the recommendations.  Throughout the trip, we had a number of crazy delicious meals including dinner at FIG and Husk, and some damn good soul food at Martha Lou’s Kitchen.  I’ve got a gallery below featuring most of the food Jorge and I ate during our trip (poorly lit dinners not included).

After a vacation where I practically ate my weight in butter and fried chicken, the first thing I was craving when I get back home to California was this Raw Kale Salad.  Gnarled shreds of lacinato kale are tossed in a bright dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese.  The salad then sits for 20 minutes, so the dressing can break down the fibrous texture of the kale.  Finished with a drizzle of EVOO, a dusting of Parmesan, and several grinds of black pepper, this simple salad is healthy, hearty, and packed with incredible flavor.  The first bite will literally smack your taste buds.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Parchment Roasted Potatoes

Jorge and I are in Charleston, South Carolina right now!!  So I’m going to keep this short today.

Parchment Roasted Potatoes My recipe for Parchment Roasted Potatoes is super easy and super tasty.  Petite fingerling potatoes are tossed with whole garlic cloves, rich olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and several sprigs of rosemary, thyme and sage.  This flavorful mix is then wrapped up in a parchment packet, and roasted until tender, creamy and just golden.  Roasting potatoes in parchment locks in the aromas of the garlic and herbs, infusing more flavor into the small spuds.  The dish is finished with a fresh scattering of chopped flat leaf parsley.

I first made these potatoes back in 2012, and I’ve been making them at least once a month ever since.  On a busy weeknight, I can prep the parchment packet by the time the oven preheats.  I can prepare the rest of the meal while the potatoes cook.  So simple!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Easy Homemade Hollandaise [video]

I’ve got a super easy recipe for you today.  Homemade Hollandaise.

Easy Hollandaise Sauce Normally, when one thinks of hollandaise (the sauce on eggs Benedict), easy is not the first word that comes to mind.  To make traditional hollandaise, you need to whisk egg yolks with lemon juice until thick.  You then place the bowl of yolks over simmering water, and stream in hot butter, whisking all the while.  The butter will eventually emulsify with the egg, forming a silky, rich sauce.  If the mixture gets too hot, the eggs will scramble, and the sauce will break.  If the butter is not hot enough, the sauce will never thicken up.  What I’m getting at here, is that the traditional way of making hollandaise is both tedious and prone to failure.

So how do we make this process easier and more foolproof?  First, forget the whisk and double boiler.  Second, get yourself and immersion blender, and a tall, narrow container. Similar to my recipe for Homemade Olive Mayonnaise, this process uses an immersion blender to emulsify the sauce in a matter of moments. The resulting hollandaise is just as creamy as one made using the traditional method. Without all the hassle of course. Continue reading for the recipe plus a video!

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