Thursday, September 25, 2008

It DOES exist!

I've never been a super big fan of meatloaf. To me, it has always had kind of a middle-America, unhealthy diet, bad taste in food connotation to it. It is a food which my admitted food snobbery has not allowed myself to get into. Well, brand me and call me a Texan, 'cause I found a boot scootin' good recipe for the cowboy in you!

It's not so different than other meatloaf recipes all together, but something about it is just...right (and I don't mean right like most of middle-America). And now I must admit, when done right it is very satisfying, high in protein, and pretty easy to throw together since I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

The most important things about this recipe are using high quality ingredients (like grass fed beef), and having the right sides (tonight that was baked beans, roasted yams, and a good spinach and apple salad- how fall is that?). All who were at the dinner table agreed that the meal was exceptional, so I thought I would share it with you. The only thing I might change would be using oregano instead of parsley (which I did) and adding a bit of worechestercterchirechire sauce (which I forgot to do). So here you are, and enjoy!

Meat Loaf

2 1/2 pounds ground beef
3 eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmigiano
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or 2 teaspoons oregano)
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Pack firmly into an oiled loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour. To test for doneness, insert a skewer and push, looking for clear liquid.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kitchen Wish List

Now that it's actually the official beginning of fall, I can begin to accept the change in the weather. What I can also accept is that holiday gift giving time (not to mention my birthday) will be fast upon us, and I am a total sucker when it comes to stores putting Christmas displays up in October. So in case you were wondering what to save up to get me, need gift ideas in general, or can't figure out what to put in your own kitchen, here are some idea that derive from my other talent- shopping! (In order from cheapest to most expensive):

Norpro butter keeper. $7.95 I just realized I need one of these.

Harney and Sons Fine Teas- Paris blend
. $8 for 20 sachets in a tin. Not surprised that Paris is my favorite.

Crate and Barrel Farmer's Market Dish Towels. $15.95 for a set of 3. Crate and Barrel has THEE best dish towels- but they have to be the waffle ones. And these just happen to be sooo cute!

Subscription to Sunset Magazine. $16 for the year. I like this magazine, because not only do they have great recipes, but you can order different issues for different regions of the country.

I want this print for my kitchen wall! 18 GBP at

Conversion Coulour Work Top Saver
13 pounds. This is a cutting board AND a conversion chart! How cute is that?!?

And since I'm stuck on British designer Joseph Joseph, this insanely cute 8 piece nesting bowl set comes with mixing bowls, a juicer, and measuring cups- all stacked in an aesthetic and organized manner. 35 pounds.

All Clad Stainless Steal 1.5 qt Sauce Pan. $75. Normally I cook with all cast iron, but I would love to have this little guy for sauces and caramels so I could better see the color of what I was making.

I hate my toaster.
Breville Ikon 4- slice toaster. $99.95

Lello 407 Gelato Junior. $193.08 on Amazon. Of course, it makes ice creams, too. A good ice cream maker is really hard to come by (most just make slush) and I've heard great things about this one.

Wusthof Classic Heavy Cooks Knife. $399. I don't think I'm a heavy cook, but I do cook heavily. YES, it's a four hundred dollar knife, and YES it's the only one I would ever use again as long as I lived.

Lastly, a Container Store gift card. I've just come to realize that I could spend an infinite amount of money here, so really the price could be anything.

Well, I'm sure I will have things to add on to this list soon enough, but this should be enough to keep you busy for a while! Only three months and two shopping days left 'til Christmas!

Monday, September 22, 2008


...are a blessing.

Our senses have an amazing way of bringing us back to a special moment in the past. Taste and smell, I think, are particularly good at this.

I was elated on Saturday to have the opportunity to spend another morning brunch with the man I love! Since this was our second meal out this week we decided to try something new, and I had been very curious about a certain little cafe ever since walking past if a few weeks ago.

The whole morning was perfect. Perfect, I tell you! But I'm getting ahead of myself- let me start at the beginning...

Saturday morning was the first of what seems like is going to be a series of many rainy days. Saturday mornings happen to be the time when I mind this the least, because I usually spend them cuddled up in bed and watching the rain outside my window. After waking up slowly and checking our email and things, we set out for a little place I had seen called La Cote (pronounce "La Chhhhkkhkhchote") Creperie. For those of you who care, it's owned by Laurent Gabrel, the (of course) French chef who also owns the fancier Voila! Bistro right next door.

The cafe is absolutely tiny (by American standards, that is) and soooo cute; all decorated in white and blue and natural wood. More importantly, the food was tres bon! I ordered vichisoi and Raj got a crepe filled with all kinds of good things. For dessert we shared a lemon sugar crepe. I cannot tell you how it took me back to the amazing time I had in Europe nearly exactly one year ago today.

Between the French music playing, the extremely authentic food, the two men speaking French at the table next to us, and the couple drinking wine at 11 am, I could have sworn I was back in Paris (all that was missing was the cigarette smoke)!

We enjoyed out food oh so much and felt warm from the inside out as we watched the rain pour outside the windows. Lastly, in true European fashion the server did not bring our check until we asked for it, so we sat and sipped our tea and lattes without feeling hurried out the door. I will definitely be going back.

Your assignment today: Think of a favorite dish or just any food that brings you fond memories. EAT IT!

La Cote Creperie
2811 E Madison St
(between E 28th Ave & E 29th Ave)
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 323-9800


Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
closed Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Stealing a Moment a blessing.

Not only are Raj and I both very busy, but we both have very odd schedules also. On many days of the week we are quite literally like two ships passing in the night. We love using going out to eat as an excuse to reconnect, and try to take the opportunity whenever we can.

For some reason, this most often happens for brunch. We both like to sleep late, so we're never really up early enough for breakfast. Sometimes I want quiche while he wants a chicken sandwich. The very best place for this is Geraldine's Counter, which we frequent more than any other restaurant in Seattle.

We got there this morning(ish) only to rediscover that it's closed on Mondays (as we do on so many Mondays). Second best is the Essential Bakery Cafe, which has lots of little pastries (pictured) as well as soups, sandwiches, crepes, and French toast. Really, the important part of this morning was that before we parted to go to work that I sat across from my husband and shared some time with him drinking tea and talking about life as we know it.

Your assignment for today:

Take time out to sit across from your spouse, significant other, or anyone else you love, for that matter. You can either eat a relaxed brunch together or just share a cup of coffee or tea. Just make sure you're at a table together.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Picnics

...are a blessing.

When tragedy strikes, it really does make you think annoyingly deep for a little while. Since my post yesterday I have been thinking about all the ways that food (and things relating to food) is a blessing that we should not forget.

Today reminded me how food brings people together. Although I'm no sociologist (I hated that course in college), I would venture to say that there is not one culture in this world where people commonly eat by themselves. Eating is a great excuse to gather and be the social beings we were made to be.

Amazingly the weather here is still going strong (and by strong I mean beautiful, warm and sunny). My husband and I had a lovely, lazy Sunday, when it suddenly got lovlier and lazier. Our friends called us up and invited us to picnic with them for dinner. We kept it simple- a couple of blankets by the lake in Seward Park.

We brought the last picks of summer fruit:

While they brought fantastic roasted vegetable and feta sandwiches:

And veggie chips and hummus.

We ate and talked, talked and ate. When our main course was done, I got out some cookies I had bought from Macrina Bakery:

And we talked and munched some more until the sun went behind the hill. Then we ate some more...

...until we were pleasantly satisfied, then we talked some more.

Today's homework assignment is this: on some lazy Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon that works for you) call up some dear friends.

Go to a park.

Keep it simple, but remember to also keep it delicious and thoughtful. And remember to feel thankful.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Getting Introspective

So here we are watching the news and worrying about the war and hurricanes when all of a sudden a train crashes in LA. That's Los Angeles- not some third world country with a bad government, but a single city that probably generates more money and technology than all third world countries put together. I still can't believe it.

Because I knew someone on that train who didn't make it, today has made me a bit shakey. However, I knew I was due for a blog no matter how trivial food may seem today. And then I realized- food is not trivial. That's one of the main reasons I love food so much.

Food has power to change moods, to make people feel comforted, feel special, feel giddy or even excited. This, by the way, is why I get so angry when people pay no attention to what they eat. Food has the power to be something special each time we put it in our bodies, but instead we mindlessly consume crap that we don't even like that much.

Anyway, one of the reasons I love being a baker so much is because it's for people. Sweets have not always been something that almost everyone (dietary restrictions excluded) can have. I consider it a blessing to treasure- among all the other blessings in our lives. I know some people can't have sweets or don't like sugar that much, but I am in awe of people (usually women) who just never treat themselves ever. It's just so worth it to me to be maybe a pound heavier than I want to be if it means rejoicing over the gift of having taste buds! I am thankful for it!

Of course, when tragedy strikes it is important to pray for those who are hurting. All the while, we need to remember the gifts that we are thankful for and that bring us joy.

Whether it's eating this:

Or walking into my bedroom and seeing this:

Or better yet, walking into your house and seeing this:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Only a Little too Soon

I know for all two of you that read this blog that summer is still going strong. I am happy to report from here also that my lament is my last blog was a bit premature. Sure, the shadows are longer and the sun isn't baking hot, but I would venture to say the past week or so has been the best weather we've had all year. I have heard an analogy that compares Seattle to a fabulous but moody woman- most of the time she's awful, but when she's good to you nothing else in the world compares.

All the rain leads up to days like these. The temperature is perfect- I feel as comfortable outside in jeans and a long sleeve top as I do in a sun dress. Because everything is so heavily watered by nature, it truly becomes the Emerald City. So if you wonder why I haven't been so up to date on my blog writing, it's because I have been soaking up every minute of this before the inevitable happens.

And when the inevitable happens, even for you SoCal desert dwellers, thanks to me we will all be ready. You see, I know it's not quite the season, but once I've opened up the pandora's box of comfort food it's hard to go back. It all started when I made pumpkin bread. I had that ever consistent half a can of leftover pumpkin and I needed to find a way to get rid of it. I needed something fast, so I went to and searched for pumpkin cookies. This website has a recipe for everything, but most of the time they are average at best. Being that this was kind of a "throw away" recipe, I didn't give it much thought.

First of all, the recipe is incredibly easy. It's a total no-brainer, and really I don't think it can be botched. Even the frosting (which MUST me made to complete it) took me all of two minutes.

Second of all, holy cow! I couldn't believe how shockingly good these were. So good, in fact, that I made them two days in a row.

So I'm telling you, people: Don't throw away that last cup of pumpkin puree. Even if you have made an entire holiday spread and are so tired you want to collapse. I'm telling you, they are E-A-S-Y and fast and freakin' fantastic! What more could you ask for? Perhaps they are even worth opening up a new can of pumpkin for (especially for a party or potluck). Don't worry about what to do with the second half of it, since I'm sure you will be making these over and over again...

You may notice the lack of nuts, raisins, etc. I suppose you could add them if you wished. I chose to make this recipe per request of having no nuts, and I actually like the simplicity of it. Especially with a glass of cold milk.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
  4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I'm not crazy!

A couple of years ago I was in Japan walking around a market place and I stumbled across a strange little food. It was like a pine cone, but pink with green tips- and we're talking neon. I was told it was called a "dragonfruit." When I came home I had many stories to tell, one of which was about this odd fruit. I tried, at least, to tell people about it and everyone looked at me like I was absolutely nutters! I tried to google it, but nothing came up. I was beginning to feel like I had some "Lost in Translation" experience, and had dreamed up a fake memory while travelling in a foreign country. I imagine that's how many legends are created.

This is not a legend, and I can prove it! The other night I went on a "go out for a couple of things and end up spending $150" kind of grocery shopping trip. I went to Madison Market, which is kind of an organic/specialty/gourmet/hard to find foods place, so it's fun to go slow and look at everything. It was about 9:00 at night and I was meandering up and down the aisles, putting whatever I fancied at the time into my cart when, what?

Oooh, yes! I was so excited! I was going to prove the world that I was, indeed, not crazy! I put three into my cart, realized they were $5 each, and put two back. But I was definitely taking one home to photograph and try.

Well, apparently the dragonfruit has gotten more famous over the years, because again I googled it, and found many sites about it, including Wikipedia, which told me the official name for the fruit is a pitaya.

I was terribly curious (and so was my dog, who I think because the fruit was so bright thought it was a new chew toy), so I cut into in. Imagine my surprise! The center is even brighter than the outside. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's a very bright magenta color.

It reminded me of a kiwi, so I began to eat the center with a spoon like one would with a kiwi. Indeed, the flesh had a very similar texture (with a lot more seeds), with a comparable taste as well- just a little more mellow and less tart. Now that I think about it, paired with a kiwi the pitaya would make a beautiful and tasty fruit salad. I think that trendy places like to put it in smoothies (maybe it's the next acai), but I wonder what other fun I could have with it....

It was pretty good on it's own, too.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Most Important Thing I Learned in Pastry School

Martha Stewart may be pretty messed up in real life, but everyone has to admit she (and by she I mean her staff) has done wonderful things for home care. I used to have hopes of being like this also (the home part, not the messed up part), but I know now it would never happen because I kill plants. Today is not about plants. It's about something else very important that I learned in Pastry School (it's not about cooking either).

Chefs have a little mantra they use called "mis en place" (meeze-on-ploss), which is French for "put in place." It refers to having everything ready and measured out before you ever start cooking or baking, and also has to do with having a well-organized kitchen. I've been GREAT with the first part, but the second I'm just starting....

It all started when part of my countertop looked like this:

Go on, click on that bad boy, so you can see in full size every single detail of the mess!
(That's where I keep all my tea stuff, by the way.)

I found these adorable tins at Ikea for $5 (God bless Ikea!):

And now my counter looks like this!

Well, anyone knows that with organizing once you pop you can't stop. So now I bought more new shelves for my cabinet, and I have lots of space to figure out how to mis en place all my stuff. I went to the best, Martha and Real Simple, for a couple of good articles.

My pantry is going to be the biggest project- I am going to try to get everything in jars, which I have never done before. It will be hard, but the thing is that it makes me want to cook just so I can open my cabinets and see how nice everything looks! And inevitably it will make me happier and then my food will taste better. And then I will start doing other rooms in my house, and then I will have a magazine and be more famous than Martha ever was! Oh wait, I kill plants.