In case I haven’t made it clear, I have major love for chickpeas. Their nutty, sweet taste is thoroughly addictive, which is why I use them everywhere from salads and stews to veggie burritos and sliders. So you can imagine how jazzed I was the first time I tried fried chickpeas.
When I was working in the CHOW test kitchen, we developed them for Hanukkah and every time we’d test the menu, the chickpeas were the first to go. But I couldn’t help thinking how unhealthy they were, which is a shame since chickpeas themselves have loads of fiber, iron, and protein. So, I began roasting them and, along the way, made the process simpler and much less messy, which is why this is one of the picks for this week’s healthy back-to-school recipes.
Continue Reading: Spiced Chickpea Snackers →
School keeps starting earlier and earlier each year, but I still think of Labor Day as the official back-to-school kickoff. That’s why I’m dedicating this week to school-worthy (make ahead and transportable) kid-friendly recipes that are healthy and (mostly) vegetarian. I cooked these recipes today for a family-friendly picnic at the Los Angeles-based food fest, The Taste and while they’re fab eaten together, they’re also great on their own.
Continue Reading: Toasted Garlic Edamame Hummus →
If only it were possible to bottle summer and store it away. Then, on a whim, you could open it to let sunshine, frozen desserts, and grill smells brighten even the rainiest of days.
When I was a kid, I almost had it figured out. I’d be at my grandmother Noni’s house in late summer — where time was kept in matches of badminton and meals defined by how many grilled scalloped potatoes you ate and I’d run about with a net and jar bottling fireflies. To me, fireflies were the epitome of summer because they’d dance about in the dark and make the room so bright that I could read Nancy Drew by their light. The next day we’d let them go and I’d inevitably be saddened because I’d remember that both the fireflies and summer were fleeting.
Now that I’m older, I take a different approach. Each season, I round up the season’s produce, get crafty in the kitchen, and lock in the flavor at its prime. Over the years I’ve pickled, preserved, candied, and canned all in the name of sealing the season tight in a jar. But this year, I took a different approach and started distilling those sunshine-filled flavors into shrubs.
Continue Reading: Summer, From Concentrate →
Unbeknownst to me, I insulted everyone before the meal even began.
I was cooking for my Florentine friends for the first time since moving there and was eager to use all the amazing Italian produce from the local mercato. What I didn’t know is that as much as Florentines are serious about fashion they’re even more serious about food. And when it comes to Tuscan food, they’re adamant about keeping traditional things traditional. Here I was thinking I had just started to get acquainted to my life in Italy — finally confident in both my Italian language and cooking knowledge — only to find out I had totally goofed. You see I had messed with one of the most sacred Florentine dishes, panzanella.
Continue Reading: Bread Salad Blasphemy →
I really wanted to be Shirley Temple when I was younger. Maybe because we both had ringlets or because my mother strapped me into taps shoes the minute I could walk, but I always felt we were kindred spirits. My sisters and I would put on shows for our parents and their guests during dinner parties and I was the go-to girl for the Shirley Temple roles. Not that I ever objected. I would channel my best Shirley smile, don my sequined dance skirt, and eagerly attempt my best rendition of On The Good Ship Lollipop. Seeing as I was a fan of all things ST, I was naturally obsessed with her namesake drink and would ask for it every chance I got — with extra cherries, thank you very much.
Continue Reading: The Shirley Temple Sundae →
It started with a text. My friend wrote, “bumper crop of tomatoes! you want?” I quickly responded “yes” and within hours I was biking across town with bags of tomatoes hanging from my handlebars.
I know you’re probably thinking how delightfully summery that is. How it conjures images of Italy. How there I’d be replaced by a deeply tanned, lithe girl dressed in a vibrant flowy skirt so impossibly long that the gears would threaten to eat the hem with each push of the pedal. And, how she’d be attraversando the piazza with a basket of picture-perfect tomatoes.
But that was not me. I was zigzagging across Hollywood after sundown, whizzing along back streets on my single-speed bike, and clad in a reflective ski helmet that logs more time on my bike than it does on the slopes. And rather than crossing a piazza, I was doing my best to avoid potholes that were more or less the size of my small apartment. Needless to say, I arrived home to find the tomatoes were far the worse for the wear. To salvage them before the fruit flies took over, I embraced their squished state by charring them until they blistered and tossing them with pasta.
Continue Reading: Bumper Crop Charred Tomato Pasta →
I’m, like, totally a child of the 80s.
For proof, look no futher than my first shoe purchase — a pair of pink jellies – and my first concert — the Los Angeles stop of the Bad world tour. Oh, the fact I was all but addicted to Jello-O pudding pops. My parents actually wouldn’t keep them in the house so I would save up allowance to buy them on the hush-hush down at the local cornerstore. But, I grew out of that habit and hadn’t thought of them for years until Kristen of Dine & Dish mentioned this book a few weeks ago. And then I had a craving. I mean, one of those cravings that won’t quit. No amount of chocolate ice cream, gelato, or yogurt could quell it — it had to be a pudding pop.
But the pudding pop is all but extinct and, even if it were around, I’d shy away from it because it was likely made with scary stabilizers and fake sweeteners. And no amount of cajoling from Bill Crosby could convince me otherwise. So, I came up with a healthier, more adult take, my Grown-Up Pudding Pops. They’re fudge-y and chocolatey like the classic, but I made them more refined by adding espresso, cocoa nibs, toasted coconut for a more darker chocolate flavor and some crunchy texture. But don’t think that means I’m giving up the jellies and my OG Bad jacket. No, it may be 2011, but I’m still an 80s baby through and through.
Continue Reading: Grown-Up Pudding Pops →
I hate goodbyes. I prefer saying “see you next time,” because goodbye has such a definitive ring that it sends me straight into the doldrums. Particularly when I’m bidding farewell to things I love. Like strawberries. Sure, here in California we’ll likely still have them in season for another month or so, but the best? They’re on their last leg.
I know so because my primo strawberry stand at the farmer’s market declared this weekend’s pick as the last they’ll bring to market. And, if they’re not selling, there’s no point in buying because they’ve got the nicest berries in town. But I know myself and I’ll probably still get a craving. So, I’ve come up with this quick-pickle berry recipe as a way to indulge in berries even when they aren’t at their prime.
Continue Reading: Pretty. Easy. Quick-Pickled Strawberries →
I have an extra large weak spot for good bread. In my utopia, I could nibble at baguettes, throw back crusty pizzas, and chomp down on chewy pretzels with abandon. But, of all breads, pretzels are my absolute favorite for snacking. I’m not a particularly choosy pretzel snacker as I crave soft buttered, hard sourdough, honey wheat sticks, and small twists equally.
So, when the crew at Eat Real Los Angeles asked which bread I’d like to do for a hands-on cooking session, it was soft pretzels. I first developed my pretzel recipe a few years ago when I dreamed up a pretzel grilled cheese. Since then, I’ve finagled, fussed, and refined that recipe to this one that’s soft in the middle, chewy, malty, and a deep browned exterior. The perfect homemade soft pretzels if I say so myself.
Continue Reading: Bread Winner: Buttered Soft Pretzels →
Every few feet or so I catch a whiff — it’s a campfire-esque smokiness that lingers about my head like the cloud of dirt surrounding Charlie Brown’s friend, Pig-Pen. Though I’ve washed my hair multiple times, it persists, but I guess that’s the price I pay for baking at a wood-burning pizza oven for hours on end. I spent the weekend teaching hands-on bread classes — on breadsticks and pretzels to be precise — at Eat Real Los Angeles and I logged in my fair share of oven hours.
Continue Reading: Trial By Fire: Pizza-Oven Breadsticks →