Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I'm Reading Today

Happy Wednesday...

Yesterday I wrote a post called 'cheap and easy'. Today's New York Times had a handful of
recipes they call 'cheap and tasty' . These days we all want good food without breaking the bank. Well, Tri Tip Skewers with Harissa and Yogurt or Pork Loin with Asparagus and Spring Onions definitely fit the bill. The Times also writes about Michael Ruhlman's new book Ratio. I am in LOVE with the concept here-a book that teaches 33 culinary ratios for everything from sauces to bread so you can improvise to your heart's content next time you're in the kitchen. Who needs a recipe anymore anyways?

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner and today's LA Times has a great recipe for Goat Cheese Fundido with Pumpkin Seed Sauce. I definitely want to dip my chips in fact maybe just a big ol' spoon! Russ Parson's also takes on shortcakes, one my of favorite spring and summer standbys. You might be surprised to see hard boiled eggs sneak into the ingredients...he says that "because the yolks are high in fat and low in moisture they add richness without risking toughening the dough".
I have an old Italian cookie recipe that does the same thing and I will tell you, fantastic! I'm giving it a try.

We made Parisienne Gnocchi during our pate au choux marathon back in culinary school. I remember loving them but, I also remember swearing never to make pate au choux (cream puff/gougere dough) again after doing so much of it. Well, after today's Washington Post I'm back and the gnocchi might just bring me around (ok, I've made a gougere or two over the years as well). Rather than using a potato base, these are gnocchi made from the same dough you'd use in a profiterole, but savory. Also gleaned from Ruhlman's new book, this recipe is easy, make ahead, and family friendly.

I loved the article from about the cost of making pantry staples at home. Do you think it makes sense to make homemade bagels, granola, and yogurt or is it really better on the wallet to buy it at the store?

Raw kale? You'd be surprised at what a great salad base it makes. The SF Chronicle has a 5-6 minute recipe for Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds and, if you try nothing else, try this. Not only is kale amazingly healthy but, once you eat it like this, you'll love it. I've got a similar recipe with chili flakes, garlic, and pecorino so, just add what you like and you will be happy.

Are you going asparagus crazy yet? Today's Seattle Times published (syndicated from Everyday Food) a handful of great ways to use the green stalks that are everywhere right now. From quiche with leeks and gruyere to shaving it into spaghetti, you'll want to check out these new ideas.

Whew...lots to read today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cheap and Easy

Dinner people, I'm talking about dinner. Geesh...I type 'cheap and easy' and your mind goes right to the gutter.

So I work on Tuesday nights. I usually leave dinner for my boys. Something easy. I make it in advance and leave them with as little prep as possible. Tonight it's just my husband so it was dinner for one and something simple. He's the guy who will eat it cold if it saves time so, I'm talking really easy.

I bought a beautiful piece of wild local rock cod (a.k.a snapper). The 7 ounce piece, big I know, cost $3. That's right-it was local, wild, and cheap. I put it on a big piece of parchment and seasoned it with salt and pepper. Then I topped it with, in this order:
--1/2 a zucchini sliced paper thin
--some minced chives
--3 lemon slices
--some mint from my garden cut in thin ribbons
--more salt and pepper
--a drizzle of my favorite olive oil, Bariani

Using a technique I wrote about here, I wrapped the fish up, 'en papillote', wrote '400 degrees for 10 min' in Sharpie on the top, and put it in the fridge. Does it get any easier than that? He'll just bake it, in the parchment, on a baking sheet and he's got fish and veggies. I may throw some cauliflower florets on another baking sheet, tossed w/olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. He can roast it along w/the fish for sweet caramelized cauliflower. That, my friends, is dinner in about 20 minutes, including the prep, and the price...under $5 for one person.

Yep...I kinda like it cheap and easy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

No Garbage Lunch

In honor of Earth Day, yesterday was 'no garbage lunch' day at my son's school. No, it didn't mean no junk food (although I call that stuff garbage too). It meant no trash-no plastic bags, wrapped food, or even foil. Compostable napkins were okay as were reusable containers for food. No problem, I thought the night before.

Morning came and I was putting the lunch together and, let me tell you, it's pretty easy. Cherry tomatoes, small balls of fresh mozzarella, and chunks of melon all fit fine in small plastic containers. Chicken noodle soup in the Thermos and a huge peeled carrot, unwrapped, to top things off. I even wrapped a couple 'Fig Newman's' in a the napkin. No string cheese, no yogurt sticks, and no Ziplocs. Every container came home in tact and now they can all be used again (although I'm on a mission to phase out all my plastic containers so, next time it'll be stainless containers or waxed bags/paper-did you know it was compostable?).

I love that kid these days are so aware of things like composting and recycling. There is no thought at my house when food scraps are tossed out-of course they go in the compost can. I can't begin to tell you how much garbage I've eliminated at home by getting a big green can for my compost. I downsized our garbage can and rarely fill it up. Imagine scaling this for a whole imagine scaling it in your town, city, state, etc.

We've got a lot of garbage we can do without. Why not start with lunch?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What I'm Reading Today

It's that time of the week again. Here's what I'm reading.

The LA Times is 'Tackling the Ethics of Eating'. Who isn't these days, right? I like this article for is practicality. It's not too preachy, doesn't whine incessantly about why every bite in your mouth must come from the farm down the street, and recommends great reads if you're hungry for more. Speaking of which, I need to get my hands on this new Mark Bittman book!

This Curried Cauliflower Flatbread, from Mr. Bittman himself in today's NY Times looks great. It's more like a pancake, the combination of roasted cauliflower and a batter poured into a pan, so no yeast or kneading involved. Even if you skip the bread, I love roasting cauliflower and curry powder on top is a perfect addition.

A few days ago, the SF Chronicle wrote about a couple new family friendly cookbooks. Their recipes, adapted from the books, look like anyone, young or old, would be more than satisfied. Baked Butterscotch Pudding and Soft Pretzels-what's not the like?

Chicken wings are perfect recession food-cheap, simple, and, come on, you know you secretly love 'em! In today's Washington Post there is a recipe for Indian Chicken Wings that'll change up the usual spicy Buffalo numbers.

Pork Tenderloin three ways? The Seattle Times has three inspiring new ways to cook this uber-popular and very lean cut of meat. Enjoy!

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Picks

You'll notice I've added a new feature to my site...the Mmm...That's Good Bookstore. The shelves are a bit sparse now but, rest assured I will continue to stock them until they're busting at the seams.

If you've got book favorites, let me know. I'd love to put them on my shelves and include your comments.

If you like what you see you can buy the books from the store, via

Happy Reading, and Happy Shopping.

What Are You Doing Sunday??

If you're in the know, you'll be taking it all in at North Beach's best block party.

Celebrating it's 30th Anniversary, Tante Marie's Cooking School is hosting the festivities and you're all invited. The celebration goes from 11-3 Sunday the 26th and you can be sure you'll hear great music, meet food professionals and food lovers, and eat some tasty bites.

Stop by the corner of Francisco and Stockton and say 'hi'. I'd love to see you!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eating In

I love going out to dinner. I love trying new dishes, I love my reliable favorites, I love the glass(es) of wine, and I really love not doing the dishes. But, these days I think most dining out feels like an indulgence. Catching up with friends over dinner for six at a spendy restaurant is a very special treat. So why not share a meal at home?

I've noticed the trend. Over the last year, our best gatherings with friends have been at someones house instead of the hot new spot South of Market. It's been easier on the checkbook, sure, but in many ways it's been a lot more fun. Friends of mine who barely cooked at all are dusting off their stoves and making a meal. Those more culinarily-inclined (ok, I know that's not really a word) are loving it-trying recipes they haven't used or just making a fresh-from-the-market meal with whatever looks good.

I always say, and you've heard it here many times, there really is something special about cooking a meal for people. We went a long stretch without being invited to anyones house. I realized it was my job-no one wanted to cook for the cooking teacher. Finally my good friends have understood that I'm happy to eat anything they make. While I care about the food, it's more about the gesture. I know what it means to make a big meal and I think it's one of the best things to share. Everyone loves to be cooked for...maybe it's hearkens us back to being a kid, I don't know.

Whatever it is, give it a try. Pull out that cookbook you love so much. Get online and see what to do with those favas you bought at the market. Call two, three, four or six friends and tell them you're making them dinner. It doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to come from your soul. We had family dinner with friends a few weeks ago-perfect asparagus, crunchy slaw, and homemade fried chicken. Simple food perfectly cooked with love. It was the best! At my last dinner party I braised short ribs with mashed potatoes, swiss chard, and horseradish cream, all topped off with chocolate pots de creme. Thank you Suzanne Goin and Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

If you're anything like me, you owe a few people a meal. Get it on the calendar, go to the market, make it happen!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lovely Little Nibs

Mmm...I'm in love with my nibs. You know what they are, right? Yep-cocoa nibs. These are the roasted, cracked, and shelled cocoa beans. Eventually nibs are ground into a paste and processed into the chocolate we all know and love. But, the nibs themselves, something of a new revelation for consumers, are a crunchy, smoky, nutty like snack that you either love or hate. If you are like me and the darkest chocolate imaginable is your favorite, you'll love nibs. If you eat chocolate for the sweet and favor milk vs. dark, I am guessing you'll agree with my husband and say the nibs 'taste like dirt'. Whatever!

Rob and Debra brought me a bag of chocolate coated caramelized nibs over Christmas. I couldn't stop eating them! Not too sweet, crunchy like a nut, and caramelized for a perfect balance of flavors. They came from a place in NY called Pure Dark, I've mentioned them here before. Their website doesn't tell you much-no mail order or product catalog. I've even emailed in hopes of getting more info but, no reply.

I came home today to a refill. Debra, my soon-to-be sister in law, sent me a box with roasted nibs and caramelized nibs. I hadn't tried the plain, roasted nibs so I opened them first. I loved them too-no sweet note like their caramelized cousins but, still smoky with the chocolate background.

I felt like they'd be perfect IN something. Granola would be great but, I needed a quick fix so I made cookies. Simple butter cookies, not as crunchy as a shortbread but, small domed cookies dotted with the nibs. I didn't cook the first batch long enough but after adding a few minutes to the second batch I was very happy. It was a buttery, not too sweet, cookie with the added crunch from those cocoa nibs. I'm going to keep playing around-more cookies, definitely granola, and who knows what else.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Butter Cookies with Cocoa Nibs

1 stick butter, room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup roasted cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar,
and salt together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Add
the flour and cocoa nibs and mix on low speed until the mixture begins to form large clumps and holds together when you squeeze it gently. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls (I like mine small but you can certainly make them a bit larger). Place the cookies about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms are golden and the tops are just lightly browned, about 18 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minute then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen+ cookies

What I'm Reading Today

Hopefully you're coming down from your post-Easter sugar high. I know I'm still sneaking a jelly bean or two but, am about ready to chuck the whole bowl in the trash.

That said, sweets are of course still on my mind. Graham Cracker Chewy Bars, in today's LA Times, look like the perfect addition to my over-flowing file of cookie recipes. Sticky on top and crunchy on the bottom, these pecan-filled cookies look like a winner. If sweets are not on your mind, Russ Parson's writes about Schnitzel-breaded crispy cuts of boneless pork. Make it in a snap for a perfect weeknight dinner.

The NY Times is full of good eats today. I started with the Chilean empanada article. With recipes for a great dough plus two fillings-cheese and mushroom or ground beef, these look amazing. If you're short on lunch ideas or need some quick snacks to keep on hand, make a big batch of empanadas, keep them in the freezer, and cook 'em when you're hungry. There is also a six ingredient recipe for Roasted Pepper Tacos with Crema - another simple weeknight meal. In fact, just go to the main Dining page and see what else is there-a Phyllo and Feta torte, Spaghetti with Broccoli Rabe, or everything you need to know about one of my favorite wines, Sancerre.

Favas, Leeks, English Peas-they're in season, abundunt, and hopefully in your local market. If you're wondering what to do with spring's bounty of amazing produce, this article from the San Francisco Chronicle will get you motivated. Shop in season and the best of what's out there will shine on your table.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Lamb Stew

I made a new recipe last night and wanted to share the love. It was delish!

I was inspired by this recipe in the SF Chronicle. I changed it up a bit and was happy with the results. The dish screams 'spring' and went great with blanched spears of thick asparagus and roasted carrots. See what you think and let me know if you liked it.

Spring Lamb Stew with Fennel and Fava Beans

3 pounds boneless lamb stew meat (or 4 lbs bone in shoulder chops, cut into 2 inch pieces)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup nice, dry Sauvignon Blanc
2 sprigs fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 bulbs fennel, tops removed and bulbs cut into 6-8 wedges
3 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched, and peeled-see below (or 2 cups shelled peas)
1 tbs chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Season the meat well with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium high heat. Add one layer of lamb pieces, they should not be touching, and cook until well browned on all sides, 4-5 minutes-transfer the lamb to a bowl. Continue browning lamb the same way, one layer at a time, until all the meat is nicely colored. Watch your heat-if the juices on the bottom are getting to dark turn it down. You want them nicely browned but not black. After all the lamb is browned and out of the pot, add the wine. Using a flat wooden spatula, scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the lamb and any juices to the pot along with the oregano and garlic. Cover the pot tightly and place in the oven for one hour.

Remove the pot from the oven and add the fennel, tucking it in so it's well distributed between the lamb. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover the pot again and return it to the oven until the fennel is tender and nicely browned and the meat is very tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more.

Place the pot on the stove, uncovered, and add the fava beans. Stir well until the beans are warmed through. Serve the stew, sprinkled wit the parsley, while still hot.

Note: To prep the fava beans, be patient! Place a large saucepan of generously salted water over high heat. Remove the fava beans from their pods and, when the water comes to a boil, add the beans. Cook until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Remove the beans with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water. When the beans are cool enough to handle, pop each bean from its skin and set the beans aside. Return the water to a boil.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Blog Roll...

Like most people who have a blog, somewhere on their main page is a 'blog roll'...a link to the blogs they like. I have a love/hate relationship with these lists. When I go to one of my favorite sites, I browse their blog roll, start clicking links to new blogs, browse their blog roll, start clicking links to new blogs, and the next thing I know an hour has passed!

The list below are just a few of my favorite food blogs. It's a totally subjective list, just my opinion, and in no particular order. No one asked to be listed here so, you can be assured it's all me. I'll post again with more but, for now, this is a good start. And if you decide to link away, don't say I didn't warn you...time will surely tick away.

Eating Asia: When I was in Thailand I met a journalist/photographer husband and wife team named Robyn Eckhardt and David Hagerman. They do beautiful work together and this site is a great example of their talents.

Naomi Duguid's Blog: If you have read or cooked from any of Naomi Dugiud and Jeffrey Alford's amazing collection of books, you know they are great writers and fantastic photographers. Naomi shares her thoughts on life here.

David Lebovitz
: David is a former Chez Panisse pasty chef now living in Paris. He spent a lot of time in the Bay Area but our paths have never crossed. I still LOVE his site. His writing is witty and fun and his sweet recipes will make your mouth water.

101 Cookbooks: Having been blogging long before me and the rest of the world, Heidi Swanson's gorgeous blog has taken off. She's even written a book using her healthy and flavorful point of view. If you're looking to cook tasty food that is good for you, 101 Cookbooks is a great place to start.

The Amateur Gourmet: Adam Roberts is a riot. His writing is off the cuff, real, and certainly hysterical. He is easy to read and you will get a kick out of his posts.

Los Angeles Time Daily Dish
: I think the food section of the LA Times is the best around. Their blog is great too, even if you don't live in LA.

Eater SF: For all the dirt on San Francisco restaurants and food, Eater keeps you up to date. With their own scoop and links to others, it's a one stop shop for everything you need to know.

7X7 Bits and Bites Blog: Another good source for not just local SF food news but, recipes, trends, and cocktails too.

Cupcakes Take the Cake: Out comes the voyeur in me. All about cupcakes, the best part of this site is the photos. You'll be amazed at what you see!

Cannelle et Vanille: Because in my next life I'm going to be a pastry chef, I live vicariously through this site. Stunning pictures and beautiful recipes. Haven't made anything from here yet but, my mouth waters every time I look.

Dorie Greenspan
: Cookbook writer extraordinaire, Dorie will make you long for more time in the kitchen.

The Atlantic Food Channel
: The Atlantic Monthly has updated their food section online and Corby Kummer is at the helm-how could it be bad?

Joy the Baker: I stumbled upon this site via someone else's blog roll and am very grateful. This lovely LA based baker takes incredible pics of her baked goods. I'm making the cinnamon pull apart muffins on Sunday.

The next two sites are not officially blogs but, for you food folks out there, they're well worth a visit.

: Marcia Gagliardi writes like no one else I know. You'll be seduced by her weekly emails (be sure to subscribe!) and you'll feel so 'in the know' when you get tips on hot new restaurants, old favorites, and where to imbibe.

Tuesday Recipe
: If you're a home cook stuck in a rut, Tori Ritchie will come to the rescue with her weekly Tuesday Recipe emails (again, be sure to subscribe). She creates simple recipes for food you will definitely want on your next dinner table.

Finally, the incredibly voyeuristic side of me can't stop reading This is Why You're Fat. I don't know why but, seeing things like corndog pizza, 'sausage fatty', and the 'porkgasm' totally gross me out and makes me giggle at the same time.

Have I missed your favorites? Let me know...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What I'm Reading Today

To my friends and family celebrating Passover tonight or Easter this weekend, Happy Holidays.

As my husband likes to say, 'anything with a poached egg on top has got to be good.'. I tend to agree-especially when the egg is perfectly cooked so that when you break into it the yolk spreads out and melds with the other elements in the dish-yum! Today's NY Times has a really easy and delicious recipe for Peas with Poached Eggs. They call for frozen but, our markets are carrying fresh English Peas, which I'd use if you can get them. It may not be Alice's egg poached over the open fire but, I still think it'll be damn good.

I love making candy. It's crazy, I know, but in my next life I'm going to come back as a baker and confectioner. There is something totally magical about transforming sugar into candy-if you haven't tried it, you should. Maybe today's LA Times will motivate you with their article on homemade Easter candy. My thought? Easter, Passover, Last Day of School, Rainy Sunday...any day is a good day to try recipes like Pastel Mints or Chocolate Covered Marshmallows. They'll score you points with kids and grown ups alike. On a savory note, the recipe for Chiles Rellenos from El Cholo looks incredible as well.

Between Passover and Easter I'm guessing your local butcher is selling loads of lamb this week. In today's Washington Post, the recipe for Lamb Kebabs with Minted Yogurt Sauce looks so good. I might throw some veggies on the skewers-zucchini, onions, or tomatoes. Fire up some couscous and you've got dinner.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking

Monday, April 6, 2009

Why I Went to Culinary School....

...or Why Tante Marie's is the Best!

I went to culinary school in 1998. I'd worked a 'real job' for almost eight years and had one of those life changing experiences when I took a vacation in Italy. I was sitting in Florence, Poggibonsi to be exact, watching Giuliano Bugialli teach our class to make a panzanella salad. I thought to myself, 'hey, he's making money teaching people how to cook-that is what I want to do.' I lasted three more months in my job before I'd gotten the itch so bad I had to quit. I was spending all my free time looking into different culinary programs. Most professional cooking schools are two year programs through vocational schools. There are associate degrees and even BA programs. I'd been to college, worked a lot, and knew I was looking for a school where I'd cook every day and the food would be the primary focus. I knew I didn't want to open a restaurant or catering business so, taking extra classes for these things seemed to be a waste of time.

I was in Seattle when I started looking for a school and fate landed me at 271 Francisco Street. I'd heard about the school from a woman who'd attended the pastry program. She was selling internet advertising and our professional paths happened to have crossed at the perfect time. We were having lunch and she, unprompted, was raving about the program she'd just finished at Tante Marie's. The professional pastry program is a part time program that meets 14 days a month for six months, in the evenings and on weekends. She was loving every minute of it and told me the school also had a full time, six month professional course. I looked into it further and it sounded perfect. I applied, got in, and a few months later moved to San Francisco with my then boyfriend/now husband.

The class is unique. I'd equate the program to an artisinal baker while some of the larger more vocational programs tend to be like mass produced supermarket bread. There are no more than 14 to a class so over the six month program the teachers can give each person hours of 1:1 attention. You cook 90% of the time and incorporate both savory cooking and baking into every single week. The program builds on itself so skills learned the first two weeks are developed over the remaining months. There is not one isolated class on fish and another on bread. You learn it all and each week you work on creating menus using all the skills you've acquired to date.

My teacher was a rock star-an amazing woman named Catherine Pantsios who is a legend at Tante Marie's. She left the school several years ago and they are incredibly lucky to have found another amazing instructor. Frances Wilson has over 20 years of culinary experiences, including 10 years at Lalime's in Berkeley. Her students love her and it is easy to see why.

I am unique in that I graduated and shortly afterward took a job at Tante Marie's as a teacher. If that's not a testament to how highly I think of the school, I don't know what is. I've been there for 10+ years and I know there is no where like it around. I feel so fortunate to be a graduate of the program. The owner, Mary Risley, has high standards for her students and teachers. Whether you're a professional student or one who comes and takes a class on the weekend or at night, you know that the quality is very high.

If you eat around San Francisco, you've probably tasted the food of some of the talented graduates. Have you tried the food at Mamacita, Blue Barn, Delfina, Da Flora, Insalatas, Kokkari, Farallon, Chez Panisse or New York's Babbo? If you have, you know how good these graduates cook. Over the years students have manned (or womanned) the stoves at all of these places and many, many more.

This year the school celebrates its 30th Anniversary! There will be a big block party on April 26th in front of the school at 271 Francisco Street. If you're in the hood between 11-3, I hope to see you there. If you haven't taken a class at Tante Marie's, you'll see what a special place it is.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Healthful, Hearty Soup

I love soup for dinner, especially when it's a one pot meal. This simple soup is dinner in a bowl-you really don't need anything else.

I found the recipe in a 2003 Bon Appetit and kept it in the back of my files for a long time. I've always been skeptical of ground turkey and chicken. The meat tends to dry out easily and gets really tough. I gave it a shot for this soup, hoping if I cooked the meatballs in the broth they'd stay nice and tender. It worked and we all loved it. I think it's a great weeknight recipe for any family dinner. Enjoy!

Turkey Meatball Soup with Orzo and Spinach

8 cups (or more) good quality chicken stock, preferably low sodium
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, peeled and diced
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tsp minced garlic
coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 pound ground dark meat turkey

3/4 cup orzo or other small pasta
4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

Place the chicken stock, carrots, celery, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Whisk egg and milk in medium bowl to blend. Add the breadcrumbs and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the turkey and, using your hands, gently blend the ingredients until they are well distributed. Using wet hands, gently shape turkey mixture into 1-inch meatballs. As you form the meatballs, carefully drop them into the simmering soup. When all the meatballs are in, cover the pot and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the meatballs have risen to the top. The soup can be cooled and refrigerated at this point, up to 2 days.

Just before serving, bring the soup to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and taste the soup, seasoning as needed with additional salt and pepper. Ladle into warm soup bowls and serve.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What I'm Reading Today

First off, Happy Birthday Taylor-have a spectacular day celebrating your fourth year. Taylor is my friend in Seattle who is cooking her way through New Flavors for Vegetables. She has roasted parsnips and stuffed peppers, and she's four! What have you cooked lately?!

Second, a shout out to the one person (thank you Lynda) who noticed I filed this post under 'What I'm Reading Toady' last week...good call on the funny typo. If only I'd have had a link to a recipe for frog's legs!

Mark Bittman, of the NY Times, actually posted this a couple of days ago but it's so good looking I couldn't help but pass on the link. These savory little Spanish pancakes, Tortillitas, are made from a combo of white and chickpea flour and are filled with plump shrimp and green onions. The perfect bite for your next appetizer fix. On the same Latin lines, there is a fun article on Passover with a Mexican twist.
I never had a Nana José but, if I did, I'm sure I'd love this Chocolate Cake she makes. The flourless torte looks so good, I might channel her this Passover and try it myself.

I'm coming off a homemade ice cream overdose. Tony, my assitant teacher from Tante Marie's, has a top of line ice cream maker at home and has been bringing in samples. We've tried Mexican Chocolate, Banana Chocolate Pecan, and the best, Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. With those delicious flavors still in my mind, I went right to David Lebovitz's article in today's LA Times-'31 Flavors: Think Outside the Carton'. If you make homemade ice cream, his book is a must (his blog is a lot of fun too). I'm not sure about about Carrot Cake Ice Cream but Tangy Lemon Frozen Yogurt looks like a keeper.

The photo in today's
Washington Post of Salmon with Pink Peppercorn Citrus Sauce looks so good, even a non-salmon lover like me might make it. They bill it as a great Passover entree but, when salmon is in season in your neck of the woods, I think it would be good any night.

Finally, in the SF Chronicle there is a lovely recipe for Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese Croutons. Asparagus is here, which means spring has sprung. Ring in the new season with this simple soup.

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking!
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