My Story

I've always loved being in the kitchen. Isn't that the gathering place at parties and get togethers! That's where the action is, where delicious smells come from, and where I go to create some really great stuff! My Grandma was my inspiration. She lived her life in Baltimore and she was ALWAYS in the kitchen (or down at the VFW for a crab feast and beer) but Alice created so many wonderful meals for our family. I remember there was always soup before the meal, usually a steaming bowl of crab soup with a rich tomato broth and lots of vegetables. Her crab cakes were incredible, a recipe I use today, and undeniably the best. I would challenge ANY other crab cake recipe to match my Grandma Alice's. The first meal I made for my mom was macaroni and cheese from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook back when I was about 7 years old. I was very proud of it, and it was really good..a creamy white sauce combined with good old cheddar and shells sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs..yum. So off I went through life, cooking and baking, and came to realize that baking was the shizzy. I loved finding a great recipe and making it even better. Funny my kids didn't like sweets much, so I showered friends and neighbors with treats. Later down the road, when some real decisions needed to be made, I decided to attend the baking and pastry arts program at The California Culinary Academy. I was 47 years old and had no idea what I was in for (another blog). So I mastered the art of baking thanks to a dedicated and talented team of instructors. I did a gig in the basement of well known pastry kitchens and had a wonderful time working for a small caterer cooking with a great bunch of gals. But here I am now, still cooking, still baking and loving it, in my own kitchen where I can share my love of this sport with the world. I take all my own photos (another passion) and I hope you will have patience and stay with me in this newest adventure. So thank you Grandma Alice for all those delicious memories, stories and inspiration. Stay tuned..

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Better Than Jailhouse", he said...

Throughout the years, I've made a bleep load of chili.  I can't even begin to count the recipes I've poured
 over to find a fantastic chili know the kind of chili that you'll find at those 4th of July chili cook-offs where it's 110 degrees and the last thing you want to be eating at 3 o'clock in the afternoon is HOT chili.    Well, I've been to several of those chili cook-offs in my career, and I always walked away, spoon in hand, asking myself what was in that chili that made it so good?

 I think I actually made my first real pot of chili when I was 17 or 18 or some crazy teenage girl age...I wanted to impress my boyfriend..a born and bred Texan.  I don't remember much about it, only that I thought it was pretty good, and from what I do remember, I think he did too.  But later, when I got serious about the ingredients that went in to my cooking, along with why those ingredients were there, and how they affected the outcome of the dish, that's when I got serious about chili making.  Through magazines, cookbooks and friends handouts, I found a few recipes that were pretty darn good.  I tweaked them here and there to make them better. I finally found a recipe that I've used over and over again which is really pretty good for Turkey Chili, (a bit healthier perhaps?) and it's filled the bill as one of those rib sticking good meals~ good to come home to when you've had a long day and there's a chill in the air and you need something good and substantial, but good for you too.

 I made a batch of chili up last week and with my hard workin' husband coming home late at night, it filled the void he needed after his long day.  He continued to dig in to the bowl day after day for 3 days or so.  This chili's just one of those things that's gets better after it sits for a day or so.  There's one little bit left in the fridge now... and did I mention that I changed up the recipe?  It was a perfect fall afternoon to make up a batch of this chili, but realizing that I had one pound each of ground chuck and ground turkey, I improvised.  Either way, it's really good.

So here's a new and really delicious chili recipe that is guaranteed to win an award at the next chili cook-off...that is if my husband is a judge.  Serve this chili up with a good dollup of sour cream and a sprinkling of sharp cheddar. Add a big chunk of corn bread on the side and you've got yourself something you'll wish you had more of!

Turkey Chili, My Way
Pour a glug of olive oil in a heavy dutch oven.  Heat it up, add 1 chopped onion. Let it caramelize over med low heat for 10-15 min.  Give it a bit of salt. Add a clove or 2 chopped garlic.  Cook another 3 min.  Add 2 pounds ground turkey or ground chuck or 1 of each turkey and chuck (I use organic grass fed).  Stir now and then over med heat for 15-20 min until caramelized and no liquid remains.  Add 1/4 cup good chili powder and about 1/8 cup cumin, (I love cumin so I always add what you love!). Cook for another 5 min.  Add crushed red pepper (how hot do you like it?) oregano and salt.  * At this point, add any extra peppers to give that extra kick. When it looks nicely browned and it smells terrific, add a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, a 16 oz can of tomato sauce, 8 oz of a your favorite beer (that leaves you 4 to drink while you stir) and about a cup or so of good beef broth (I found the best is Trader Joe's brand, in the box).  Let this come to a boil, then simmer for a good hour give or take.  Chop up the tomatoes into the chili as it cooks.  Add 2 cans of your choice beans, rinsed and drained (I use cannelini and pinto).  Simmer another 10 minutes...then EAT IT!  IT IS SO GOOD.  REALLY! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bakery of Dreams

Aria fig walnut scone

For many years, I've had a vision of owning a little bakery in a small town.  I never imagined anything fussy or too big, but a place where the locals would drop in and have a chat, a coffee and a tasty scone, muffin or toasted sourdough with jam and butter. My little bakery's interior would be rustic, a couple old wood tables and chairs, and high something old, familiar and friendly.  Along with my photographs, I'd have photos of family spread out around me, images that remind me of the road we've all traveled together.  Right out front there'd be an old, weathered bench...the kind that has been worn smooth by time.  I'd serve up a hearty and delicious soup of the day, (I'm well known for my belly warming soups) and there it would sit, a big simmering pot of veggies, stock and herbs, the aroma of all good things spreading the news of lunch time soon to come. There would be a daily bread (one of my favorite sections in cooking school) along with the standard sourdoughs and levain's.  I've got all these images here in my memory bank, in fact, I've drawn a picture of my bakery, and most importantly, there I am standing there in front of my little place...smiling.

In my travels, I have found that bakery in Murphys, Ca.  Aria by far is my favorite artisan style bakery (French bakery~ Miette in San Francisco is tops).  This bakery/cafe is amazingly similar to "My Bakery"... a sketch I drew five years ago.  Undoubtedly one of the reasons I was drawn to this gem and why I love this bakery dearly.  Besides that, they have really delicious baked goods, breads and desserts (they also serve up tasty sandwiches, salads and soups).

Jim and I always stop here before we head up the hill to our cabin.  For a girl, who at 5 years old, stood and cried when asked what kind of ice cream she wanted at 31 flavors, ( Jim often has to come check on me to see what's taking me so long to get our goods),  I tend to look over each offering, appreciating what goes in to each lovely treat. Crafted with care, knowledge and quality ingredients, the gals at Aria have created a well~loved bakery that has locals and visitors coming back again and again. 

On our last stop at Aria, I picked up a bear claw for Jim (I did sneak a bite), and I chose a fig and walnut scone.  Both finger lickin' good.  The scone was so good, full of figs and walnuts, texture and flavor,  it inspired me to make up a batch at home.  Once again, using ingredients I had at hand, I settled on pear and walnut, and put together a recipe that is reminiscent of a traditional English cream scone.  It's a winner (Jim told me so)...tender, soft and delicately fragranced by the pear, which also provides sweetness.  The walnuts add crunch, texture and flavor to this perfect afternoon accompaniment to a lovely cup a' tea.  Cheers!

Pear Walnut Cream Scones

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons european style butter, cut in 1 inch chunks, very cold
  • 2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • handful toasted walnuts, chopped 
  • 1 pear, large dice
  • egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment.  I use my Kitchenaide to mix the first 4 ingredients, but go ahead and use what ever you have...pastry cutter, knives or food processor.  Add the butter and mix slowly until the butter's the size of peas.  Mix the eggs, cream and vanilla together and add to the flour/butter mix.  Slowly mix until just blended.  At this point, add the walnuts, mix in, then gently fold in the pears.  The mixture will be slightly wet and lumpy.  Pour it all out onto a well floured board, counter or marble.  Keep moving the dough so it doesn't stick.  Pat or roll it into a 1 inch thick oval.  Cut 3 inch rounds with a cutter or knife and place on baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash (egg and a bit of water) and sprinkle generously with sugar.  Bake for 15~20 min. until the tops are browned and scones have risen.  Sprinkle them with more sugar and let them sit for 10 minutes or so before devouring. Makes about 6 scones.  These freeze well~ prepare up until egg wash and sugar, pop them in the freezer, then when you're ready to bake, pull them out, give them an egg wash and sugar, and bake 20~25 min or until brown.


Aria Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Dog, A Burger, and The Bay

Late last winter, when the hills were green and the air was wonderfully cold and crisp, Jim and I had a really good burger know, one of those motivating cravings that get you out the door and put you right at the source of the craving.

We both knew of a place in the City where we could satisfy that need, and even better, do it on the cheap.  I'm a sucker for any excuse to make the 35 minute drive in to San Francisco...I think Jim is right there with me though. I had been looking for an excuse anyway, ( burger and a trip to the City) so we gathered the dog, and off we went.  First stop was Red's Java House. Red's has been sitting at the end of Bryant St on the Embarcadero for years.  It's where folks go for one of those simply delicious burgers, made that way with good beef and a traditional San Francisco sourdough roll (the famous sourdough comes from the yeast in the SF air...seriously!).  No crazy fixins', but you can add your own rule with this burger is just a dab of mustard, a bit of onion and that's it.  Another rule of thumb with us is, if you're going to eat a Red's burger, order it with a beer.  So we did. Fries too.

But with Brody waiting in the back of the car...hoping for a stop at the beach for a romp in the surf, we downed our beer, licked our fingers clean and headed over to Crissey Field where we strolled the beach, laughed at our deliriously happy, salty-wet pup running himself ragged, and ended our incredibly wonderful day with a salute directed straight up to the Presidio.

That was one happy day.

Red's Java House  Pier 30 San Francisco

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh, You Lovely Green Beans

 I found 8 tiny, perfectly ready green beans ready to pick in my garden the other day. I had picked at least a couple of pounds of green beans this summer.  The 6 vines that we planted in June are now a giant mass of twisted vines...weaving in and out of whatever they can grab onto. I recently learned that the younger the better when it comes to harvesting the green bean. I never really managed to pick them when they should've been picked, which meant tough stringy beans...not so good.  But on this day, as I was out watering, crouched down low with my face in the tomatoes and basil, (they just smelled so good!) I looked up and spied 8 little green beans all in a row on one vine.  I sat there just for a minute or two, trying to think how I could use these perfect little beans.  What I came up with was as simple and down to earth as you can possibly get (in my opinion).  It was a perfect lunch for me...healthy, colorful and delicious.  I'm sure there might have been other perfect little green beans hiding somewhere in that tangle of delicate vines and beautifully shaped leaves, but sometimes you just have to go with what's in front of you, a good lesson as a cook and life in general.

  • So, take a handful of green beans (fresh is best) trim, then throw them into a pot of salted boiling water for 1-2 minute (depends on how much crunch you like)...put them right into ice water to stop the cooking
  • A beautiful ripe heirloom tomato was also picked that morning, chopped it up, put it in a bowl with a few leaves of chopped basil, salt and pepper...let it sit for an hour or so
  • Out came the  4 roasted fingerling potatoes from dinner the night before... they are buttery and creamy, yum...slice them up!
  • Nothing's better than sweet cherry tomatoes...I eat them like candy, so in they went 
  • I love cheese...any type, from any country...I chose feta, it would add creaminess and loads of flavor
  • Into a bowl everything goes...Chopped or sliced... A vinaigrette of olive oil, salt and pepper and the juice from the tomato/basil mix...A combination of crunch, creamy, smooth, cool...The flavor that says the very best of summer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunday Roast

My brother Ted and I recently had a conversation about our dad. Ted and a gathering of his neighbors are constructing a Dia De Los Muertos altar honoring their dearly departed relatives who are no longer of this world. A photograph of the chosen loved one, along with their favorite food is placed on the altar for a week or so in early November.   My brother, who is the actual builder of the altar, has decided to honor our mom and dad. He called me wondering what our dad's favorite food was.  There was no hesitation when it came to Mom's favorite, we both agreed that the obvious choice for her would be doughnuts.  Not just any doughnut you see, but the still famous Winchell's Donut's.  She was a Winchell's Donuts afficionado...a "french twist" girl, Mom made Winchell's one of her daily stops.

"What do you think Dad's favorite food was?"

"Ice cream... root beer floats", I said.  My dad was the root beer float king. He loved his Dad's Root Beer and vanilla ice cream.  Chatting about Dad with my brother made me smile remembering the image of my boys, then 3 and 5 gathering around their Grandpa Ed as he constructed a proper root beer float.

Although Dad loved ice cream, Ted and I both agreed that a root beer float may become unrecognizable even for the dearly departed after 5 days on the altar.  Instead I said, "How about a roast?"

Dad was a meat and potatoes man, growing up with a British mother and a father who was a born and bred Easterner from a large, well to do New Jersey family.  And despite living in the high country of Idaho for the first 15 years of his life, (besides being smack dab in the depression) it was likely that there was some variety of Sunday roast, be it venison or elk.  But when my dad's father died, he was sent off to live with the "Aunts and Uncles" in a big, old, beautiful house in Pasadena, Ca. The Aunts and Uncles, as our family refers to them, were a loving mix of silver miners, actors, adventurers and even a WW1 war hero.  They were seven brothers and sisters who, all but one (my grandfather) had never married.  This was a period of time (1934) when families actually sat down to dinner every Sunday afternoon.  The Condit's carried out the tradition of dressing for dinner and a highball with the family in the living room.   Then when the dinner bell was rung, (one of my treasured memories) they would all gather in the formal dining room around the beautifully set mahogany table.

There was always a roast on Sunday.  The meat tied and placed in the pan, roasted slowly in the old 1930 era porcelain stove, with no real temperature gauge, just a "moderate, slow, or hot" oven (much like the Aga stove still used in England). The potatoes would be mashed with butter and cream, the pearl onions creamed, perhaps some string beans, a lovely puffed yorkshire pudding, and always ice cream or sherbet for dessert.  I can imagine Aunt Molly in that big old kitchen, cigarette hanging off the corner of her mouth (as I am told) preparing those Sunday meals along with her brothers and sisters and their only nephew, my dad, all of them having a grand old time.

It makes me happy to imagine my dad as a young man sitting at that lovingly seasoned old table, surrounded by laughter and lively conversation, sharing a meal.. a Sunday Roast with the family.

I have those same memories as a child at that big old house, but by the time I came along there was just one of the uncles left.  My family would still go over on Sundays, and each of us would have a part in creating the memories of that Sunday meal, that to those of us that are still here, keep very close to our hearts.

I imagine that's why my favorite meal, like my dad's, is a roast.  Beautifully browned, surrounded by tender potatoes, carrots, fennel and onions, it sits before us on any given Sunday in all its glory, comforting and delicious.  Filling our bellies and our lives with memories of family and reminding us that the simpler things in life come from the kitchen.

So when my brother finishes the Dia De Los Muertos altar for the many well loved relatives of Flora Morgan Trail friends and neighbors, I know that there will be a Winchell's Donut, and a nice cut of roast and mash under my mom and dad's photo.  Cheers!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pears to you, Anthony Bourdain...

Somehow in the past few weeks, amidst the heat of summer, the "back to school (thus work) blues, and the absence of any recent travel adventures, I lost my appetite to cook, bake and blog.  I'm now 3 weeks into school, it's cooled down just a bit, and still no real traveling in store for me.  But what has prompted this newest journal entry, didn't really have anything to do with the aforementioned, but instead, a combination of just two things.

First of all, I was given several beautiful home grown pears last week. I watched them turn rosy as they sat on my counter, but came to the sad realization that I just wouldn't have time to make a lovely Pear Tarte Tatin that day or the upcoming weekend, (we were off to our cabin for a couple of days). So I did something I never do, and popped them in the refrigerator Friday afternoon with the promise that I'd rescue these perfectly ripe pears on Sunday evening when we returned.

My next big motivator, was Anthony Bourdain.  Now, not to say that Anthony himself isn't motivation enough for this foodie girl to do pretty much anything if he asked, but I turned on the No Reservations marathon first thing Monday morning, and the first show that I caught was the episode filmed in Sardinia. The visuals had me hooked.  The countryside and surrounding towns were incredibly beautiful, and as I stood there with my mouth open, watching Anthony and his lovely Sardinian wife, Ottavia share a meal, I think I actually drooled. The food was glorious and delicious (Anthony said so), and I could just about taste the fresh ricotta with local honey...oh, if only.

I admit, it doesn't take much to make me happy.  The simple combination of watching a top rate, beautifully photographed food/travel show and 5 pears, is what got me back into my kitchen.

It's late in the afternoon now. The tarte is cooling, Anthony Bourdain is now eating his way through the south of France, and enough said... tomorrow's another day

Thinly slice 3 pears, sprinkle with lemon juice

Role out puff pastry~Cut out a circle with a medium dinner plate

Fan the pears in a cast iron or heavy non stick pan over cooked caramel

2 T. water
1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. butter

Blend the first 3, cook undisturbed over med-low heat for 10 min, add butter.

Cook the pears in the caramel until dark golden brown, about 10 min.

Lay the puff pastry over the pears~ cover the pastry with a lid~Put the pan in the oven
Bake at 375~10 min~ Remove lid~ Bake another 15 min. until golden brown~Let it cool 15 min~
Run a knife around the edges~Flip over onto a plate

Voila! Tarte Tatin de Poires !

I do love this beautiful tarte tatin, but I love these petite cheris even more. They are sweet and crisp and buttery and beautiful...what more could a girl ask for?

Use a metal one cup measure to cut circles from the left over puff pastry.  Spoon a little of the caramel (make sure you save a little bit) fan 3 pear slices over the caramel, and drizzle a bit more on top.  Pop them into the (375) oven until they're golden brown and bubbly, about 15-20 min.

Tartellettes Poire Mini

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

32 lemons

We have a rather strange lemon tree in our backyard.  It's trunk reaches all the way up to the roof (about 7 feet) and then it branches out above the roof line.  This spring, my lemon tree started producing lemons...many lemons, and hasn't stopped since.  I've used my lemons in numerous meals and drinks, taken them on vacation, given them away to neighbors, and even sent them to work with my husband.

But being such a tall tree, I can't just reach up and pick the lemons, they're way out of my reach. When those lemons are good and ready, they fall to the ground.  But every now and then when I'm feeling rather peppy, I'll go in to the garage, get my 8 foot fruit picker (you know the kind with the basket on the end) and I'll go fishing for lemons.  I usually end up being showered with leaves, getting the tiny flowers and lemon dust in my eyes as I look up at my lemon tree to try and coax them down off the branches. The picker really isn't such a great system, so the lemons end up falling to the ground when they're good and ready, and where I go to gather them up.

 This summer I would go out nearly every morning with my coffee and look at the progress of my vegetable garden (sorry Jim, I know you planted it).  I'd water my lavender, sage, roses, gardenia and my herb garden (yes, I planted it).  So with my coffee in one hand and the hose in the other, I'd eventually end up under the lemon tree.

I'd always end up putting either the coffee down, or the hose, but sometimes both, and look around for something to bring the lemons in to the house with. Instead, I would end up gathering all my lemons in my shirt and there I'd be, 10 or so lemons in the pouch of my shirt holding it all together with one hand.  The other hand free to grab my coffee, which at this point is most likely cold.  It never occurs to me during all this figuring out, to walk back to the kitchen (which is all the way around the other side of the house) to get a bowl, or basket, or something to make things easier for myself.  But I guess I got into a routine of doing it this way, gathering those lemons.  Part of a ritual for me on those early summer mornings.  A summer break that has passed too quickly.

The last time I gathered my lemons was Friday.  I counted 32 (from the week) into a big beautiful bowl.  I squeezed them, froze most of the juice, zested 4 or 5,  and made a batch of my favorite lemon bars to share at dinner with our dear friends and neighbors.

This morning I went out as usual coffee and hose in hand, and walked over to my tree to gather the fallen lemons, but to my dismay, there were no lemons on the ground.  As I turned around to go, cold cup of coffee in my hand, one single lemon fell right on to my head.

I guess summer's not quite over yet...

The crust.  Buttery. Slightly sweet.  A hint of crunch with each bite.

The curd.  Tart and sweet.  Thick and creamy.

A to-die-for taste of summer.

Worth every calorie.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lazy Girl Breakfast

Since my husband and I dined on our favorite frozen yogurt for dinner last night, we both woke up slightly famished and in need of some protein.  Trying to stay on the healthy side of things this morning,  and still feeling a bit sleepy, I pulled out organic eggs, whole wheat bagels, low fat cream cheese and went to it. That's what my husband had for breakfast.  But as I stood at the stove flipping his eggs to his desired "over hard", I spied the two green tomatoes sitting on the counter.  I had picked them up last week at the farmer's market with the intention of frying them up..(salt and pepper the slices, dredge in a little flour, fry them in a little olive oil until golden brown) but just never got to it.  So being the tomato lover that I am, added the green tomatoes to the mix.  This is what I came up for my lazy Saturday morning...

Lazy Girl Bagel
one whole wheat bagel
1 organic egg
light smear of low fat cream cheese
2 slices green tomato

Toast the bagel, add the cream cheese~Use a tiny bit of oil to fry up the egg~Salt and pepper the tomatoes, then fry them up (same pan as the egg) until their golden on each side~Plop the egg on the bagel, then the tomatoes on top~A bit more salt and pepper...Yum.


Friday, August 20, 2010


Basil.Olive Oil.Garlic.Pine Nuts.Parmesan.Salt

A blender full of fresh basil

A generous pour of fruity, fragrant olive oil


3-4 garlic cloves and a fist full of roasted pignola's

Parmesano Reggiano and salt to taste

A float of olive oil

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I have a love affair with Italian food. Most of the cook books that I have in my little library are from Italian kitchens..Lidia Bastianich, Giada DeLaurentiis, Mario Batali, and then there's all the recipes I've collected over the years from other sources. I've always loved Italian food. I remember being 5 or 6 years old, standing at our neighbor Vera's sink nibbling on a crumari cookie. She spoke very little English, but always welcomed me in to her big Italian kitchen. I loved watching her chop, stir and create wonderful smells coming from those huge pots on her ever lit stove. Sometimes I'd follow her down the steps to the dark, cool basement. There, just at eye level, were rows of colorful jars of tomatoes, beans and other vegetables that I didn't recognize. I thought those rows of jars were so beautiful!

My next experience with real Italian cooking came many years later when I was fortunate enough to have known the wonderful Italian grandparents of my boys. I learned from this family that pasta sauce is called "gravy". I'm not sure why, maybe it was related to the region in Italy that the family came from, but I do know that the pasta gravy that came out of their household (and one that I remember dearly) was delicious. The grandfather was the Italian, and when he could, he loved to cook the meal. But their Irish grandmother knew how to cook a mean Italian dinner just as well. The smells that drifted from that kitchen were so wonderful; you could almost taste the steaming plate of pasta, (and all that went along with it) that would soon be presented on that dining room table.

I was given the recipe for the long version of gravy, and the shorter one as well (to which I am very grateful). I made it many many times over the years, but never as good as what came out of their kitchen.

With the majority of Italian recipes that I use, I feel the longer versions, in my opinion, are just that much better. With a longer, slower cooking time, the gravy has a chance to develop a rich delicious flavor...and then of course, there's that wonderful aroma throughout the house that says,"garlic, tomato, olive oil, basil, oregano..."

So, after all that being said, there's always a time for a quick version of a dearly loved gravy. All of my books have these scaled down versions, and as I mentioned I have a treasured copy of "quick gravy" that is really delicious. From these, and my experience eating my way through Italy in 2006, (it wasn't just me; my husband, sister and brother-in-law were right there with me) I've come up with some really delicious Italian meals. I don't usually write them down (I know..) but I make them so often they're right here in my head, always at the ready.

So last week when I was craving something Italian for dinner and didn't have much time, or tolerance for a hot kitchen, I put together a fairly quick, scaled down version of my husband's favorite...

Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti
  • your favorite cooking olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-6 cloves garlic (depending on size)
  • salt and any other fresh Italian herb (I use oregano or basil from the garden)
  • 1 # ground turkey
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes (the best there are unless you have a bounty of fresh summer tomatoes, then use those!)
  • a splash of a red wine you'd be happy to drink
  • freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese

Heat the oil, add the onions, give them a good sprinkling of salt. Let the onion caramelize (resist the urge to stir; once is enough for 5-10 minutes). When they're close, add the garlic. When you can smell the garlic, add the turkey. Add more salt and let it brown on a med heat. Don't be afraid to let the turkey brown. As it does, it caramelizes, adding another layer of flavor to the gravy. Add the tomatoes, (if you like a smooth gravy, give them a whirl in the food processor) and turn up the heat. Taste the wine, if you like it, add a splash to the mix. Let it simmer for 30 min or so. Taste every now and then; add salt to taste and herbs. Boil and drain your pasta (always reserve a cup of pasta water, to thin sauce if needed) Put a little sauce in your hot pasta pan, a small knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Add some cheese to the gravy, then the pasta. Plate it, then top it with the sauce. Delicioso!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2 Peaches and a Pint of Blackberries..

galette [gah-LEHT]
"Hailing from France, a galette is a round, rather flat cake made of flaky-pastry dough.The term also applies to a variety of tarts. They may be topped with fruit, jam, nuts, meat, cheese, etc. Galette des Rois, the traditional cake served during Twelfth Night festivities, often contains a bean or other token, which is guaranteed to bring the recipient good luck."

In the middle of a fairly busy afternoon, I made a galette, or free-form pie, in 15 min. (bake time is about 45min). I had the dough already made (the second disk from the blueberry pie) so all I needed was fruit.

The last time I was at my little market, I noticed how lovely the peaches looked. The local peaches here in the East Bay are from Brentwood, a farming community about 45 minutes to the east of us. Brentwood is known for growing delicious corn, tomatoes and summer fruit. The country roads are dotted with U-picks, but our favorite is Mike's, family friends who produce delicious peaches and cherries each year.

So off I went to the market, and picked out 2 lovely, fragrant peaches (once again, give it a sniff, if it smells like a peach, it's done) and a pint of dark, plump blackberries. The combination of the two would be perfect for a colorful, sweet taste of summer. Total cost..$3.15

There's really no right or wrong way to make this lovely little galette, and it's so quick and easy, I made it in under 15 min (bake time is approximately 45 min) and no bowl needed!

The secret though, is to make sure you have wonderfully ripe fresh fruit. You want all the flavor to come from the fruit, not any additional ingredients.

So grab a piece of parchment (useful in so many ways, and always in my kitchen) roll out your galette crust, pour the chunks of peaches and the blackberries onto the parchment, and sprinkle on only enough sugar to add a bit of extra sweetness. I always add a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the flavor of the fruit.

In order to thicken the juices from the peaches and blackberries, add a tablespoon or so of flour.

Start by folding up one side of the dough, then gather a section at a time up and around the fruit, mounding it as you go.

Remember to give the crust a quick egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar, and it's ready for the oven..or if the it's too hot to turn the oven on in the afternoon, move the whole thing, parchment and all, onto a cutting board, and pop it in the fridge until your kitchen cools down. When it does crank the oven up to 400º and bake for about 30 min until the galette is golden brown. Cover it lightly with foil, bake another 10-15 min or so (some ovens run hot, so adjust as necessary). Let it cool while the smell of freshly baked pie floats through your house..delightful!

..This one's for you Becky and Jenna!