Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thank You For This Gift

Today an extremely generous neighbor, and fabulous photographer, Diana Lundin,  shared a bounty of fruits and vegetables that she had on hand for a photo shoot.  She kindly shared this gift with me and some other lucky neighbors as she could not use the perishables all herself and she did not want such great food to go to waste.  Here is something special she did with real produce before, check out How to Make a Red Heart.

I hope it is OK to reveal that the wonderful fruits and vegetables came from Melissa's Produce http://www.melissas.com/. I tell you this because this produce was incredible, both in quality and in variety.  There was honeydew, okra, pixie tangerines, chili peppers, baby bok choy, persian cucumbers, spaghetti squash, swiss chard, habanero peppers, yams, mint, chinese long beans, fresh dill, chives, apples, cumquats, ugli fruit, apricots, cabbage, carrots, rutebega, kale, green onions, rutabaga, and so much more!

I was given a variety of these organic delights for my family of food.
Eager to try the fresh ingredients, I quickly formed a dinner around what was in the selection.

The kids had a small taste of the apricot while I prepared the meal. 

Our entire meal came from this practical cornucopia with the exception of the marinara sauce for the spaghetti squash, not pictured.  That came from a party where we won treats for an Oscar related contest, so it was in fact, another gift. 

Our main dish was spaghetti squash cooked by roasting in the oven for 1 hour after piercing the skin with a fork a few times.  When it is done, you scoop out the seeds and then scoop out the strings of squash.  That's it, that is all you have to do.  Spaghetti squash is the secretly easy - special effects wow moment - of food.  This particular squash was big and delicious. The bowl pictured here is from only half of the squash and we even had a bit left over.
 
Next came the Ugli Fruit and the cumquats.  None of us had ever had Ugli Fruit before.  It peels easily like a large "Cutie" and tastes like a combination of citrus.  There was a tough fibrous bit that none of us ate, but the juice was incredible.  My daughter said it was her favorite fruit in the world and was greatly disappointed that we only had one.

The cumquats were tart and tangy and all were enjoyed.

These Kale chips were made with the most beautiful Kale I have ever seen.  Usually I get the Trader Joe's Kale in a bag, but this stuff was a whole different creature.  I selected 5 large leaves, washed them, dried them, sprayed them with olive oil, and seasoned them with 21 Season Salute from TJ's and a bit of salt.  I was very happy with the outcome.  It was crunchy, healthy, tasty, and let's face it, soooo LA.
Lastly, we had the honey dew.  Again, I only served half of it like the squash, because it was so big.  This honeydew was heavy on both the honey and the dew.  It was incredibly sweet and so juicy, had I had a glass under it while I opened it, I could have made myself a honeydew cocktail.
Look closer.  Doesn't it look great?
My daughter had to be reminded to try some of the other food as she was so in love with the honeydew.  She was not wrong, it may have been the best honeydew I have ever had.

It turned out to be a vegan feast, chock full of fabulous flavors, satisfying in every way.  I do not believe it could be healthier.  If I were counting Weight Watchers Points this meal may have counted up to zero.  Does marinara sauce have points?  What fortune!

In short, Diana is terrific for thinking of her neighbors and not letting this treasure go to waste,
Melissa's is terrific for hiring Diana and providing amazing excellent quality natural food, and G-d is terrific for putting my family in the position to receive this abundance.  I thank you all for this gift.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bread Machine Cornbread


I experimented with a Yogurt Cornbread in the Breadmaker.  It turned out sweet, more chewy than a non-yogurt cornbread on the sides, but pretty tasty, and pretty much like a sweet cornbread on the inside.  The flour on the edges are due to my breadmaker's quirks.  The reviews were positive, though.  After two helpings, my daughter said to post it!

2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Corn Meal
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Plain Yogurt
2 TBSP Melted Butter
1/2 Cup warm water
1 tsp Yeast

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Nice Welcome, Crème Caramel LA

Recently my family of food moved to a new place and lucky for me, I ours is not the only new family in the neighborhood.  As of the day I walked into Crème Caramel LA they had only been open 102 days.  This boutique bakeshop specializes in a creamy flan-like crème caramel custards.  The friendly face in the picture is Mike, who upon my entering the shop, evangelized these desserts and converted me from a casual passerby, to a true believer.  It was the tasting that did it.  He let me try flavor after flavor until I couldn't find any one I liked better than the ube pie.  The purple yam vegetable pie was something I had never tried before, but had I let my preconceptions stop me, I would have missed the best dish of all.

Before I checked out, I met the effervescent owner, Kristine, who told me a bit more about her cooking and the Filipino influenced sweets she serves.  I was impressed with her vision and am excited to have this innovative entrepreneur in this part of the San Fernando Valley.  I walked in expecting to pick up a small cookie, and left with an ube upside down pie, a baguette, and a box of "Unicorn Poop", a dolloped meringue rolled in multi-colored sugar, for the kids. 



Custard Dessert Bakery [coffee] [eats] [sweets] 
Hours: Tues.-Sun. 8a.m. – 4p.m. | Closed Mon. 
14849 Burbank Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91411 
(818) 949-8352

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Los Angeles Wine and Pairing Event Sept 18th - LA Tasters!

Friends of the Blog, LA Tasters is having a Wine and Food Pairing event on Sept 18th at Seasons 22.
 
If you enjoy getting out, meeting new people and love trying food one bite at a time, then
LA TASTERS is for you.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wow! Blueberry Octopus Cake!!!


There was this delicious looking recipe in the One Pot cookbook I got from the library.

I had fresh blueberries and all of the ingredients needed (well, not buttermilk, but you can fake that with a cup of milk and a teaspoon or two of vinegar), but I did not have a pretty bundt cake pan as shown in the picture in the book.  So, being one not to give up so easily, I found a pan that most closely resembled the the size of the one in the recipe.

The pan I found happened to be shaped like an octopus.
It was a gift from our neighbor for the kids' birthday one year.
It worked like a charm.
Who knew it would come in so handy?

I have to say, it is the best looking Octopus cake I have ever made.
Won't the kids be surprised tonight!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

From the Garden

From the garden today, two beautiful green peppers.  What shall I make with these?
Here are some possibilities:
Sideways Stuffed Peppers
Chicken Fajitas
Pizza topping
Cut up with Hummus 
Roasted Peppers
Kabobs
Stir Fried Pepper Beef
Chili
Wait a minute... It's Breakfast time...
I'll make Bell Pepper Toad in the Hole (aka Egg in the Hole or Rocky Mountain Toast)!



Here's what to do...
Cut the top off of the pepper, clear out the seeds.

Slice the pepper and saute on a medium heat in olive oil for a few minutes.
I used Salt, Ground Black Pepper, and 21 Season Salute from Trader Joe's to season.

Crack the eggs carefully as you can in the middle of the peppers.
Sprinkle with seasoning.
Gently flip the egg and cook to desired consistency.
Mmmmmm, Tasty and garden fresh!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Oster Quickbake Recipe


Experimenting with the "Quickbake" settings on my Oster bread maker.
This one turned out well, good texture, holds together when sliced, nice flavor.  Based in Brioche, it is a bit sweet and seems rich, but I replaced the butter with nonfat yogurt, so it's not nearly as sinful.  Next time I may lose the sugar, too.

Here is the recipe for the 80 min. Oster Quickbake setting - if you don't happen to have this machine, bake on white bread setting in other bread makers or try kneading and cooking in the oven like other white breads.

Load ingredients into machine in this order

3 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Plain Nonfat Yogurt
1/4 Cup Warm Water
1 TBSP Yeast sprinkled over water allowed to sit for a few minutes until bubbles start to form.

Start Machine

Friday, May 31, 2013

If You Grill it, They Will Come.

Today I stumbled upon the pre-grand opening of The Melt on San Fernando in Burbank.  Grilled Cheese on a sunny day, sounded great.  I texted a friend down the street and she met me to grab some grub.  There was a line out the door of this modern, clean shop, managed by a friendly hostess.   The line seemed to him smoothly along mostly because they distracted us with samples of soft serve as we waited.  When we got to the front, our excellent cashier explained that the menu was limited today and that it was all FREE!  I got the classic, Aged Cheddar cheese on Artisan White Bread with a Bacon "Middle" accompanied by two tomato basil soup.  Add to that a mixed Boylan Natural Cane Soda fountain Drink and I was set. It hit the spot!

From environmentally friendly packaging, to the hi-tech order board, to the extremely friendly staff, This place has it all going on.  Check it out when you are in Downtown Burbank.

Official grand opening is Sunday.

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