Friday, December 16, 2005

Fennel and Goat Cheese Omelet

I'm off to Argentina for Christmas. I'll be giving some cooking lessons down there and seeing lots of family. Not to mention getting delicious Argentine recipes and gorging myself on Dulce de Leche. Mmmmmmm.... On a very random note, I'll leave you all with an omelet I made yesterday.

Fennel and Goat Cheese Omelet
Olive oil
.5 bulb fennel
.5 small onion
2 Tbs goat cheese
2 eggs
1 Tbs half and half, cream or milk

Sauté onion and fennel in a little olive oil until browned and soft (10-15 min) Add a Tbs of water if it starts to get dry. Remove from pan. Whisk two eggs with some salt, pepper and half and half and add pour in to hot, buttered omelet pan. Mix around until it starts to set and then add onions, fennel and goat cheese to one side of the omelet. Flip it over, cook 30 sec to one min more and then flip on to plate. That's good.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache

Happy holidays! I was in the mood for some holiday baking and made these dark chocolate crackle cookies, sugar cookies and cranberry coconut chocolate chip. The cupcakes have a dark chocolate caramel buttercream frosting that is amazing. I also used it last weekend at a party I catered. It went between layers of a chestnut torte recipe from Bon Appetite and was really spectacular. I didn't use the cinnanmon stick, but I'm sure it's nice.

Caramel ganache
9 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (21/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Combine milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in medium bowl. Stir sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and cinnamon stick in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 6 minutes (time will vary depending on size of pan). Add cream and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Bring caramel to boil, whisking until smooth and caramel bits dissolve, about 1 minute. Discard cinnamon stick. Pour hot caramel over chocolate; stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let stand until completely cool, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in chocolate mixture in 4 additions. Cover and refrigerate ganache overnight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cranberry Lime Salsa

I bought three pounds of cranberries. I love cranberries; they always remind me of the holidays. I made a ton of traditional cranberry and orange zest jelly with some of them, but added some heat with grated ginger. It's great on toast, but also goes really well with meats. I had it last night with some grilled tenderloin and I bet it would go really well with pork too (and turkey, of course.)
With the rest of the cranberries, I made one of my favorite holiday dishes. Cranberry salsa. It goes with just about everything. Chips, crudités (endive leaves make perfect scoops), pork, I've even put it on a grilled tuna steak, and it was excellent. And it's one of the few holiday dishes that tastes great and is totally healthy. I was given this recipe by a Texan, so of course there's a jalepeño in it. I think it adds some nice heat, but you can leave it out if that's not your thing.

Cranberry Salsa

2.5 c cranberries (rinsed and picked through)
1 small onion, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
.5 c cilantro
2 Tbs lime juice
3 Tbs sugar (to taste)
.5 tsp salt

Pulse the cranberries in a cuisinart until roughly chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. You might want to add more or less sugar, depending on your tastes.

Friday, December 09, 2005

New Cookbook Translation

If anyone has a cook on their Christmas shopping list, and is looking for an interesting cook book to give them, try La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange. It is an old French cookbook that was recently translated by my uncle Paul Aratow, an amazing chef in his own right, and the original chef de cuisine at Chez Pannise. It's a huge book, and it covers everything you'd ever want to know about French cooking and then some. It's been getting AMAZING reviews and I think there will be an article about it in the New York Times this Sunday.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tarte Tatin

I had some homemade puff pastry dough left in my freezer and a couple apples on hand, so I decided to make miniature Tarte Tatins. Tarte Tatin is a delicious French dessert -- a caramelized apple tart baked with the crust on the top instead of the bottom. After baking, it is turned upside-down and served, usually with whipped cream or créme fraiche. It was invented during a cooking mishap in 1898 by two sisters named Stephanie and Caroline Tatin who ran a family hotel in the rural town of Lamotte-Beuvron in the Loire Valley. In a hurry, she dumped her apples and sugar in a baking pan but forgot to line it with pastry. She then put the pastry dough on top, baked it anyway, and a culinary wonder was born. Big or small, it's delicious, especially at this time of year.

Tarte Tatin Recipe: (makes one large or 8 small)

Peeled, core and quarter 8 apples. Put them in a heavy pan with about a half a stick of unsalted butter and 3/4 cup sugar. I cut my apples in to thinner pieces so I could arrange them in a muffin tin. If you are doing a large one and have a cast iron pan, cook them in that and use that pan the whole way through the recipe. Other wise, a large skillet will do. When the apples start to turn golden brown and the sugar and butter get thick and caramel colored (it could take 40 minutes to an hour), dump the apples in a cake pan, arranging nicely if you like. I like to line the bottom of the pan with a circle of buttered parchment paper, the same goes for a muffin tin if you're making minis, but you won't need anything if you're using cast iron. Then lay a rolled out circle (1/4" thick) of puff pastry on top, cut to leave about an inch of overhang. Tuck the edges in to the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes at 400 F. Let it rest for about 5 minutes and then flip it out onto a plate. Serve warm with whipped cream or crème fraiche. Bon appetite!

Saturday, November 26, 2005


The bird. Brining it added a lot of flavor, but next year I'll put butter under the skin too. I went simple this year, with just some butter and herbs on top, and then deglazed the pan half way through with white wine. Made for great pan drippings which I added to a roux for gravy.

Pecan Chocolate Chip Tart. A slice of this will put you on the naughty list. I used the recipe from the William's Sonoma Chocolate cookbook. I make it every year and it's always a hit. The crust is really easy to make as well, and is nice and flaky.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving Menu

I'm catering a Thanksgiving party, and cooking for our own Thanksgiving this year, so this menu looks enormous. I'm also brining my turkey for the first time. It's a pretty traditional menu, but there are a few twists. The pumpkin flan is in honor of some guests from Mexico City. And the lemon tart is in honor of Mike, who gags every time I say pumpkin.

Brined and roasted free-range turkey with gravy
Cranberry sauce with red wine and citrus zest (really easy and delicious)
Garlic mashed potatoes
Whipped sweet potatoes with smoked paprika
Green beans with lemon zest, butter and toasted hazelnuts
Herbed cornbread, apple and chestnut stuffing
Mixed organic green salad with pecans, cranberries, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Monkey bread
Pumpkin pie with whipped cream
Pumpkin flan with spiced pepitas
Chocolate pecan tart
Lemon meringue tart

The only photo of mine I have so far is this tart. The flan picture is from the recipe and shows how it is supposed to look -- I won't unmold mine until tomorrow

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Santa Monica Farmer's Market

The farmer's market here in Santa Monica still has heirloom tomatoes. One of the benifits of living in southern California...delicious tomatoes in November! I took my 15 year old brother for the first time and he tried persimmons (not for him), fresh pesto (a hit), heirlooms (loved them...we bought some for a picnic that day) and raw-milk gouda (he was more in to the 6 month, but we ended up with a sharp, year old gouda with a texture similar to parmesan - delicious!)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Chicken with Mushrooms from the Silver Spoon Cookbook

This is the Chicken with Mushrooms from the Silver Spoon Cookbook. A recently translated book considered to be Italy's version of the Joy of Cooking.
I thought the recipe sounded interesting and I had all the ingredients on hand, so I gave it a shot. So far it's the only one I've tried from the book. When I think of old school Italian cooking, I think handfuls of this and that and a wine glass measurement of this and so on. This recipe seemed very spartan (aside from the oil and butter!) and sort of meager. For a whole chicken cut in to quarters, it calls for 2 pearl onions, chopped, 3 Tbs water, 2 Tbs canned tomatoes, drained and 5 Tbs white wine. That’s about it, except for the mushrooms. I felt outright silly chopping up only two pearl onions, but I was sort of determined to follow the recipe.

It turned out alright, but not good enough to warrant making again. The meat was really succulent, but the flavors weren't very interesting and there was certainly no "wow" factor. My boyfriend Mike was of the same opinion.

It was only my first foray in to the book, and I'll try some other things, but I have a feeling that I'll end up using it more for ideas and some techniques, and then add my own improvisations as I go. I would have at least some garlic and herbs to this recipe!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I might (or might not) be on TV....

All this week I worked for a huge LA caterer called Celebrity Events. They were doing the 40th Anniversary of Days of Our Lives, a party for 1,000 people that took place yesterday. We made over 30 different menu items, all for 1,000 people, over the course of four days. Not only was it really interesting to see how an event of that magnitude comes together (SO much work!), but a show from the Food Network was in the kitchen all week filming, so I might be on TV. It's called Behind the Bash, and the guys from the show said it would air in February. You might see me on it (I tried to ham it up for the camera, but I was also concentrating on not chopping my fingers off during nerve wracking close-ups.) Who knows though, I could end up on the cutting room floor.

Like sands through the hourglass....

Thursday, October 13, 2005

It's a Party! Pizza Party!

I tried out my new pizza stone for the first time. This pizza turned out really nice. Very thin crust, but perfectly cooked. The last time I made pizza at home, I tried a recipe that called for way to much cornmeal in the dough. I like a textured dough, but it was like eating a brick. This time I just added a couple of Tbs. to the dough, and it turned out wonderfully.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Vancouver's Idiot Fish

I saw these unfortunatley named fish while shopping in Vancouver at Granville Island Market. Apparently they're also refered to as Shortspine Thornyheads (also not very flattering), or by their latin name, Sebastolobus alascanus. Has anyone ever tried them? They look to me like they should be called Cartoon Fish.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Portugal's Top Chef, Henrique SaPessoa

After returning from an amazing ten days back in Portugal, I am still getting over the out of this world "Degustacion Menu" that our friend and my mentor, Henrique SaPessoa, created for us. He's now the executive chef in the latest, and by far the coolest, boutique hotel to hit the Lisbon scene, Hotel Bairro Alto ( Here is the seven(!) course menu that we feasted upon, to the raging curiousity and envy of the other diners, I'm sure!

Green Asparagus Cappuccino Amuse Bouche with Porchini Dust

Buffalo Mozzarella and Prosciutto Ravioli with Confit Tomato Sauce, Arugula and Azores Island Chese Shavings

Seared Scallop with Artichoke Puree, Foie Gras Terrine and Balsamic and Truffle Vinaigrette

Roast Fillet of Stonebass with Tomato and Chorizo Timbale and Green Pea and Mint Veloute

Crispy Duck Breast with Carmamelized Fennel and Orange Salad, Celriac Mash and Sherry Jus

Sweet Black Rice with Coconut Ice Cream and Mango

Pastillinhas de Caiscais (Soft Vanilla Creme Brulee wrapped in Filo with Wild Berry Coulis)

The scallop was out of this world! Chef Henrique (only 29 years old!) has consistently created some of the most outstanding meals I've ever had. If anyone gets a chance to go to Lisbon, please check out his restaurant.

Not all of our Portuguese meals were so high-brow. Here's to the guy and his roach coach that prepared our 6 AM post clubbing snack of mystery cut beef. It (in all its blubbery glory) came in a bun loaded with ketchup, mayo, mustard and covered with those little packaged mini french fry chips. It was delicious at the time. Made me want to gag the next morning just thinking about it though. No, he's not my boyfriend. Go to the St. Barts post for a picture of Mike.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Heavenly Day Off in Saint Barts

We stopped the boat in Saint Barth's for a few days, anchoring Aisling with some difficulty in the bay, although we had a great view of all the uber-mega-super-yachts and sopme beautiful sailboats.

Shopping in the little town market was a dream. Such a world away from the other Caribbean markets. I picked up quail eggs, real baguettes, Camembert and aged goats cheeses, leeks, beets, pates and amazing olives, not to mention some very inexpensive good wines. On our day off, Captain Brett took us ashore on the tender and we did a little shopping and then tried to decide what to do for lunch. It's like a little French hippy paradise island, so deciding where to eat was difficult. There are tons of charming little cafes with the best looking croissants and baguette sandwiches in their windows.

After some agonizing, we decided we'd glam things up a bit (it was St. Barths after all!) so we took a taxi to the other side of the island (a 15 minute, winding and beautiful drive up one side of the central mountain and down the other) and went to the beautiful restaurant/lounge/club Nikki Beach. It's got sort of a sex, booze, music and beautiful people beach vibe to it, with plush white sofas, billowy curtains and a half naked wait staff. The view from our table was unbelievable, but we could over hear the next table bemoaning how awful their food was. We decided to play it safe with mojitos while we savored the view, and then we ambled up the road, still in search of our lunch.

We ended up at a charming Italian panini place that was perfect. The counter display of anchovies was the deal clencher for me. Caprese panino with extra anchovies for me; prosciutto, tomato and mozzarella for Mike, and a 7 dollar bottle of Santa Margharita to wash it down!

There was a French septuagenarian couple next to us, whom we overheard expressing their approval of my anchovy passion. We ended up having a very entertaining conversation with them. Some times it's so easy to forget we're working on a boat, instead of cruising the world at our leisure, getting brown and sun kissed, indulging every whim. We have REALLY learned how to enjoy the days off.

After lunch, and totally tipsy, we took a walk on the beach. With no particular destination in mind, somehow we found ourselves walking in to an exquisite Relais and Chateau hotel, Eden Rock. Of course, once we saw their restaurant on the beach, we had to have a seat to look at the view, and then we realized we had to celebrate the view with some oysters and more white wine (NOT priced along the lines of the panini place, but totally worth it.) Yes, it's easy to forget we're not cruising the seas in our own yacht.... Maybe it's all the drinking....

After walking around for ages to digest the food and beverages, we took a hair raising taxi ride from a French girl to a Portuguese tasca for dinner. There was a soccer game on the TV, and when "Mama" found out we had lived in Portugal, there was a lot of mile-a-minute Portuguese from the patrons. I tried my best, and managed to do a decent job communicating. I know we made out happiness with the meal clear, because we polished our plates! The menu was chicken or beef, so we went for one of each, and had some of our old favorite Portuguese wine and beer. The picture doesn't really do the place justice, but in a funny way, does so perfectly.

With my haul from the market I fashioned up a Tuna Steak Niçoise entre for dinner the next night. Back to work!

Sunday, February 06, 2005



We stopped off on the Turks and Caicos Island of Providenciales for a couple of days. The island is very flat, with little vegetation, and not exactly picturesque. However, in certain lighting it can be eerily beautiful. I recommend facing the ocean whenever possible, it is the most gorgeous color you can imagine. One night we had dinner at a cute, though not inexpensive restaurant called "Hole in the Wall" It was a far cry from it's namesake and we all enjoyed the local Bahamian food. I had BBQ ribs which were delicious and sitting on their beautifully lit deck was a pleasure. However, we didn't fair so well another night, with a horrible meal in a "Chinese" restaurant (also expensive, and no one ate a thing.) We had a day off though and rented a jeep to explore the island. We found a perfect little beach shack called Boogaloos, specializing in conch. Conch, a mollusk, is a Bahamian seafood staple and prepared in many ways all over the islands. You can find it fried ( also called "cracked"), in chowders, fritters, ceviche, curries and more. The fritters at this place were amazing, not like most and full of doughy starch. The curry was out of this world; perfectly spiced with lots of fresh veggies and pieces of conch. We watched as two men walked out to sea where the conch were kept, live, in an underwater farm. They would bring them back to the back of the shack and remove them from the shell right there. You have to hit the shell in exactly the right spot to remove the connective membrane, and then the conch is pulled right out. The conch meat is also very tough and must be tenderized, usually by hammering it with a meat pounder, or any heavy blunt object. I made conch fritters on the boat one afternoon for lunch, and in the process instilled some healthy fear in to the crew and guests with my hammering.

Conch Fritters:

1 lb conch
1 small yellow onion, cut in to small dice
1 jalepeño, seeded and cut in to small dice
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
2 eggs
1 c panko or fresh breadcrumbs
1 T flour
1 T Dijon
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 c beer
zest and juice of one lemon
3 dashes Worchestshire sauce
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

Canola, vegetable, or peanut oil to fry

Pound conch with meat pounder or rolling pin until 1/4' thick. Put in food processor and pulse only until roughly chopped, or chop by hand. Mix conch meat with remaining ingredients in large bowl. Heat a wide pot with about two inches of oil in it to around 375 degrees Fahrenheit . Drop golf ball sized mounds of batter into oil and cook, 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Have plate ready, lined with paper towels, and place fritter on towels when done to absorb excess oil.
Serve with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or aioli.