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Fall into Brunch

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I’ve been seeing huge stalks of Brussel sprouts at Trader Joe’s the last few weeks, and I can’t resist them. I find it hysterical that I would’t touch Brussels sprouts until the age of 25, when I was finally wooed over by the delectable crispy Brussels sprouts at my favorite SF restaurant, B*Star Bar. If you haven’t had them, you should stop what you’re doing right now and get to 2nd and Clement and order some.

In any case, I’ve found numerous ways to enjoy the sprouts from my stalk throughout the course of the week. But my favorite instance was this morning when I concocted a delicious and healthy breakfast bowl that was the perfect start to the first of November.

Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower and Pancetta with Poached EggsIMG_3816

  • 1/2 cauliflower, stalks removed
  • 1/2 TB butter
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 8-10 Brussel sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup chopped pancetta
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Using a food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it’s broken down into a rice-like consistency. Transfer to layers of paper towel and squeeze until slightly damp. Transfer to a baking dish and cook for 10 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a pan over a medium flame. Add shallots and sauté until soft, only a few minutes. Then add Brussel sprouts and continue to sauté until they begin to brown a bit. Add pancetta and thyme and sauté until pancetta starts to crisp, about 4 minutes. Lower heat and let sit.


Bring 1/2 cup of water to boil in a small pot. Lower the heat to summer and add two eggs. Cover and cook for 6 minutes.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and add to the pan of Brussel sprouts. Toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.


Remove the eggs from the pot and run under cold water to cool the shells. Carefully remove half the shells, then gently slide or spoon the egg onto the bowl of Brussel sprouts and cauliflower. The whites will be cooked and the yolk will be runny – just how I like it.



You could easily increase the quantities in this recipe and serve a larger group, perfect for a autumnal brunch. Don’t forget the Champagne!

Pretty Food Tastes Better

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I was really into the Skinnytaste recipe that landed in my inbox yesterday morning. She did a play on sushi in a measuring cup, flipping it onto the plate and creating this beautiful layered tower of spicy shrimp deliciousness. After sweating it out at the gym with my fabulous and stunning trainer, Miss Brit, I ran by my favorite Mexican market for an avocado and a cucumber. But when I finally got into my kitchen around eight – after my hilarious neighbors sufficiently distracted me – I really didn’t feel like waiting for brown rice to cook, especially since it wasn’t even short grain and probably wouldn’t be sticky enough. So naturally, I turned it into a quinoa bowl.

Spicy Shrimp Sushi Quinoa Bowl

  • 1 TB low sodium soy sauce, plus more for drizzle
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 4-6 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup of dry quinoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced
  • 1 tsp furikake
  • 2 tsp Sir Kensingtons Sriracha Mayonnaise

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, lime zest and half of the lime juice in a small dish. Coat the shrimp and marinate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa: combine with 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan, then bring to a boil, simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Fluff and remove from heat but keep covered. Heat a small pan over a medium flame. Cook shrimp for 3 minutes on each side, remove tails, then chop into bite size pieces.


Now, just because I couldn’t make my dinner into a neat stack sure doesn’t mean I’m not going to make it look pretty, because pretty tastes better. Spoon the quinoa into the bottom of a shallow bowl then top with cucumber, scallions and shrimp. Lay the avocado slices around the edge of the bowl, then top with furikake and drizzles of remaining lime juice, Sriracha Mayonnaise and soy sauce.


Once you sit down and stop taking photos for Instagram, chop those avocado slices and mix it all together, seasoning as you wish with straight up Sriracha and more soy sauce. Serve with Dry Riesling, Viognier, or Chenin Blanc. I opted for one of my favorites: Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier – or, as true fans commonly refer to it as, CB+V.

Braised Boudin

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We’re having a heat wave in the Bay Area. It got up to 90 degrees in San Francisco yesterday (which is CRAY for SF) and 103 degrees in Napa. Fortunately for me, I was inside my chilled office for the majority of the day. It gets so cold in there that I find myself layering my summer dress with a Pine Ridge fleece that I keep on the back of my chair. Yesterday I even had to step outside for a minute to warm up! I quickly went back inside when I realized my error.

But the heat won’t keep me out of the kitchen! I purchased some rabbit boudin from Fatted Calf about a month ago when I had some friends in town. We were going to grill them with a bunch of other goodies but I decided the rabbit was unnecessary, so in the freezer it went. Then last night when I opened the freezer to put my head inside it, I felt beckoned by the tell-tale Fatted Calf sticker. I pulled together some random ingredients that I thought would go well with the flavor of the rabbit, and came up with a delicious braise that I will surely recreate.

Braised Rabbit Boudin with Fennel and Kale (serves 2)

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, fonds removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 purple carrot, halved lengthwise then chopped
  • 2 rabbit boudin, or rabbit sausages
  • 1 TB Dry Sherry
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped Tuscan kale
  • 1 cup cooked white quinoa

Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a large pan. Add shallots and sauté for 1 minute, then add fennel and carrots and continue to sauté for 5 minutes then push to the side of the pan. Add the sausage to the other side of the pan and brown for a few minutes on each side. Add the sherry to the vegetables and sauté to combine.



Move the sausage to the center of the pan, nestling them into the vegetables. Add chicken broth, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and add the kale. Saute so that the kale is tucked into the rest of the vegetables. Cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until all vegetables are cooked and the chicken broth has reduced to less than 1/4 cup. Serve over quinoa and enjoy!



Pair this dish with a Central Coast Pinot Noir such as Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Pinot Noir, one of my favorites for the price and a light enough to pair with poultry. Or if it’s too hot to drink red wine – such is my case – you could try a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Chablis or White Rhone blend. I can’t wait to go back to Fatted Calf and figure out more ways to prepare this delicious rabbit boudin! Any suggestions?

Caponata Pizza

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My friend Gail summoned me over last night to help consume her never-ending garden harvest. I’m so jealous of her bounty: lemon cucumbers, squash, eggplant, swiss chard, kale, sweet peppers, onion, tomatillos, endless herbs, and six different kinds of tomatoes – it’s like a farmers market in her backyard! And since there is no way Gail and her husband can eat through the garden by themselves, I am always more than happy to accept invitations to help them (and to be sent home with any extra produce she cares to offer).

The past couple of times I have been over Gail’s house we made pizza. It’s one of my favorite things to make as a home cook because while you need to have a good comprehension of flavors and textural components, there is a ton of opportunity to experiment. And last night we did just that! We made two pizzas: one with pesto, squash, pancetta and chard (so earthy and delicious), and one with our version of Caponata and fresh ricotta – my new favorite pizza combo!

Caponata Pizza (serves 2)

  • 1 TB olive oilIMG_3167
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup diced red and yellow sweet peppers
  • 2 small eggplants, diced
  • 10 Sicilian green olives
  • 2 TB capers (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 plain pizza dough, rolled out
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 2 TB grated Parmesan, divided
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned

Start by making the Caponota. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the onion and continue to sauté for 2 minutes, then add peppers and eggplant and sauté over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add olives and capers and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes. Increase heat back to medium and add white wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once most of the wine has evaporated, lower heat and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so. You want the texture to be soft but not mushy – you should be able to see each individual ingredient.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 and place a pizza stone or baking tray inside the oven. Top the pizza dough with tomato sauce, mozzarella and 1 TB of Parmesan. Evenly spread the Caponata over the pizza, then top with tomato slices, dollops of ricotta and remaining TB of Parmesan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbling. Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil. Slice into 6 pieces and serve!



We were battling some hot weather (and a hot kitchen) so we stuck to a dry Rosé and some Napa Sauvignon Blanc – both of which worked great. A light wine with a good amount of acidity would be best, so you could also pair this pizza with an Aglianico or a Sicilian Nero d’Avola. I think a Rosé of Sangiovese would have been perfect! I’ll have to remember that for next time.

Tomato, Basil and Everything

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One of my favorite things about my Napa apartment is my yard! Not only is there space for corn hole, ping pong, a grill, and a fire pit, but also a garden. This summer is the first time I have ever exercised my green thumb, so I started with something simple: sunsugar tomatoes, Genovese basil, Thai basil, and purple basil. I figured these ingredients would last me all summer and still allow for some variety. And I am happy to report that my garden is thriving! I have my genes and the hot Napa sun (no more SF fog!) to thank for that.

My sunsugar tomatoes, planted in a half barrel

My sunsugar tomatoes, planted in a half barrel with some Genovese basil

Over the weekend I used all three basil varieties to make a pesto. I also incorporated some kale and a touch of lemon juice, as well as pine nuts and parmesan. I wasn’t sure what I would do with the pesto, but then it struck me when I spotted some frozen chicken thighs in the back of my freezer. I coated them in the pesto and left them out to defrost for the day, while my mind stirred with ideas of side dishes. I happily settled on a light tomato-farro salad with – you guessed it – more basil from my garden.

Left to right: Thai basil, purple basil, Genovese basil

Left to right: Thai basil, purple basil, Genovese basil

Pesto Chicken (serves 2)

Tomato Farro Salad (serves 2)

  • 1 cup of vine-ripened grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green beefsteak tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup sunsugar tomatoes, quartered
  • 20 basil leaves (assorted or Genovese), julienned
  • 1/8 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 TB shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry pearled farro

Heat a grill or cast-iron pan over a medium-high flame. Once hot, spray with a touch of cooking spray. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes on each side, then continue to flip until fully cooked.




Meanwhile, cook the farro. Fill a small pot with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of farro. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until done. Drain any excess water then rinse with cool water to chill. Add to a mixing bowl with all other salad ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.


Pair with your favorite summer Rosé. As far as domestic brands go, I like Azur, Navarro, Red Car, and Trefethen – but you can never go wrong with a nice GSM French Rosé!

This was the perfect summer meal, and I was so happy to incorporate ingredients from my small garden. Next summer I hope to plant several more varieties of tomatoes, as well as more herbs and even some zucchini!

Buffalo is the New Black

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I recently had a buffalo burger when I was back East visiting my family, and I thought to myself, why don’t I ever make these? When I returned to Napa I spotted some buffalo meat at Whole Foods and knew this was my chance! Not only is buffalo meat leaner and healthier than ground beef, but it has a slight gaminess to it that elevates any burger. I decided to spruce it up a bit with some fancier ingredients, and they turned out perfectly!

Buffalo Cheeseburgers (serves 8)

  • 2 lbs ground buffalo meat
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 8 slices of cave-aged Gruyere
  • chopped roasted red peppers
  • handful of raw spinach

In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients, kneading together with wet hands. Using about 2/3 of a cup of meat, form a patty. Roll the meat around between your hands, then flatten and place on a parchment covered baking tray. Do this until the meat runs out, making 8 patties.



We used a charcoal grill to cook these bad boys, but you can use any grill. I prefer charcoal because it’s just more fun. Cook the patties for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4 minutes (they should be served medium). Top with slices of Gruyere when you have about a minute left. Transfer to a platter and serve with soft buns, ketchup (I prefer Sir Kensingtons), Dijon mustard, roasted red peppers, and spinach. SO good! I will never go back to ground beef again.


I served these burgers with some delicious JAQK Cellars 2006 Soldiers of Fortune Syrah, which is drinking perfectly right now. I have several bottles to go through, so I see a lot more buffalo burgers in my future this summer!

Zucchini Blossom Quesadilla

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I’ve been keeping my eye out for zucchini blossoms during my past few trips to the farmers market, and finally spotted some this weekend. The last time I bought blossoms was the day before the earthquake – of course they did not get put to use – so it’s been almost two years since I last cooked with blossoms. I’ve only ever stuffed them with ricotta and pan-fried them, but I wanted to do something different this time. Space Cadet suggested doing a quesadilla, which sounded appealing and different. With her helpful tips and some inspiration from this recipe, I got to work on collecting the remaining ingredients.


I couldn’t find any Oaxacan cheese at Whole Foods, but I sampled some cave-aged Gruyere that they had out. Even though I’m not always crazy about Gruyere, this stuff was delicious and melts easily so I thought it would make a fine substitute. I also selected some healthier tortillas, which are my new favorite: Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Flour Tortillas with Flaxseed and Rolled Oats. Trust me, they’re great. I also made some salsa verde and avocado crema to serve with the quesadilla, because why not?

Zucchini Blossom Quesadillablossoms

  • 1 small poblano pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of diced yellow onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large whole grain flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup grated cave-aged Gruyere cheese
  • 6 zucchini blossoms, stems and stamen removed and torn into smaller pieces

Avocado Crema

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 TB nonfat Greek yogurttomatillo
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of smoked paprika

Fresh Salsa Verde

  • 5 tomatillos, quartered
  • 2 serrano chiles, stems removed
  • 6 cilantro sprigs, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup water

Start by roasting the poblano pepper. Cook it close to the broiler for 5 minutes, turning once halfway through. Transfer the pepper to a plastic bag and seal. Let sit for 20 minutes, then peel the pepper and remove the stem and seeds. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa verde. In a food processor, combine tomatillos, chiles, cilantro and water and pulse until the salsa is coarsely chopped. Transfer to a serving bowl. For the avocado crema, mash together all ingredients and season to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl.



Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over a medium flame. Once hot, add onion, garlic and poblano and sauté for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and wipe the excess oil off the pan with a paper towel.


Return the pan to heat and add a single tortilla. Flip the tortilla once it starts to puff up a bit – about 30 seconds. Add the cheese, pepper and onion mixture, and blossoms. Top with another tortilla and heat for about a minute. Carefully flip the quesadilla so that the top tortilla browns, and cook for another minute. Transfer to a plate and slice into 6 pieces. Serve with salsa verde, avocado crema, and a dry floral white wine such as Gruner Veltliner or Albarino.



These quesadillas were really yummy, especially with the addition of fresh salsa verde! I made a ton of it, so I will be sure to repurpose it throughout the week, even though it’s quite spicy. And I am so happy to have found another way to enjoy my precious blossoms. Next time I think I will try putting them on pizza. Yum!

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