In Category: ‘In The Kitchen’

I work from home. And so I’m super close to my kitchen all.the.time. Incidentally, when I need a break from my computer, I find myself poking around in the cabinets for a snack. It’s bad, I know, I know. So, I look for some reasonably healthy alternatives that will keep me excited.

Enter this concoction, that’s so simple you’re bowled over by it’s deliciousness. Yogurt. Strawberry Rhubarb Compote. Granola. Raisins. It’s heaven. Sometimes it’s a snack, sometimes it’s a lunch, always it’s fantastic.  The only part I have to make is the compote, and it’s so easy it shouldn’t even really be considered a recipe.  I didn’t, but I bet with a bit of cinnamon, this would be even better!
Eclairs 0005 Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote 

12 ounces slender rhubarb stalks (about 3), cut into 2- by 1/3 -inch-thick sticks

1 pound fresh strawberries, halves

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a large heavy skillet, bring the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue to cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the juices thicken slightly and the rhubarb is falling apart. Let cool.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Enjoy!


I love all things French.  All of them.  And their pastries are real high on the list… just behind their wine and their food and their nonchalance.  My absolutely lovely friend Heidi Ryder gave me this beautiful book, Sweet Paris.  Because I love France.  Because I love pretty pictures.  Because she knew there would be some sweets in it for her pretty face icon smile The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

Clearly, I made my first attempt from this book on one of the toughest pastries included… the éclair.  And it was a disaster.   Well, a delicious disaster, but a disaster none the less.   The pastry didn’t rise.  It was dense and not airy at all.  The filling was lumpy.  I ran it through a sieve and it was fine… but that shouldn’t have happened!  The ganache was delicious, but ganache is always delicious.  So I’ll take the win on the ganache, but it’s not really the most thrilling victory… how can you go wrong with chocolate, sugar and butter!?

I’ve done some research and I think I’m figuring out what went wrong.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be attempting a few other recipes, combining a few different methods and, fingers crossed, coming up with some worthy of the most nonchalant Parisian.

Eclairs 0001 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

These guys were so sad and lifeless the filling had to sit on top icon sad The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0002 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0003 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure
Eclairs 0004 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 1, The Complete & Utter Failure

At the end of the day, sugar & chocoalte with my morning coffee isn’t the worst way to start a day.  Or get through a day.  Or end a day.

If you want to make your own attempt, and tell me where I might have gone wrong, this is the recipe I followed word for word.


Classic French Chocolate Eclairs


For the Choux Pastry

2.25 fl oz water

2.25 fl oz whole milk

2 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar

pinch of fine sea salt

3.5 oz plain (all purpose) flour, sieved

4 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.  Put the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Take off the heat and slowly fold in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Return to a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs, beaten, one at a time until you hae a smooth, dropping consistency.  Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 0.5 inch plain nozzle and leave for 5 minutes or so to cool and stiffen slightly.

Pipe 10 large, sausage-shaped eclair shells about 6 inches long on to the baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart to allow room to expand.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.  Do not open the oven door during baking, or they will collapse.


For the Chocolate Filling

1 vanilla pod

12 fl oz whole milk

6 egg yolks

3.5 oz caster (superfine) sugar

1.75 oz heavy cream

1 oz all-purpose flour, sifted

1 oz corn starch, sifted

1 oz bittersweet dark chocolate

0.5 oz unsweetened cocoa powder

Slit the vanilla pod lengthwise with a small sharp knife and scrape out the seeds.  Add them, along with the pod, to the milk in a suitable saucepan.  Bring almost to the boil, being careful not to let it burn, then fish out the vanilla pod.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar until creamy.  Add the cream, plain flour and cornflour, and whisk well until smooth.  Slowly pour the hot milk into this mixture, whisking constantly.

Return the milk mixture to the saucepan and bring almost to the boil once more, whisking all the time to prevent any lumps from forming.  Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes over a very low heat, while continuing to whisk, then pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming.  Set aside to cool.

(If you prefer a vanilla filling, skip this step!) Melt the chocolate in a separate heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until there are no lumps.  Pour the melted chocolate into the filling spoon in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Then leave to cool completely.

Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a 0.5 inch nozzle.  Using the tip of the nozzle, pierce the underside of the eclairs in three places along the length and gently squeeze in the filling as evenly as possible.


For the Glaze

5.5 oz bittersweet dark chocolate

2.25 unsalted butter

1.75 icing (confectioners) sugar

2 fl oz water

Melt the chocolate in the same way as above.  When melted, add the butter and sugar, whisking continuously until it looks shiny and creamy.  Remove from the heat, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then dip each éclair in the icing and smooth over using a spatula.  Wait until the icing hardens before serving .


February 15, 2013 Banana Pudding


When I was in college I used to get really bad charlie horses in my calves.  They’d wake me up in the middle of the night and I’d be in so much pain.  A bit of 3 a.m. stretching would always do the trick, but they were far from enjoyable.  I’d read somewhere that bananas would help, so I’d drink a banana milkshake from Cook Out on a pretty regular basis, you know, for my legs.

And while I’m not getting the charlie horses anymore, I’ll eat this pudding forever.  You know, just in case.  This banana pudding from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook is just so wonderful!  So absolutely delicious.  Go ahead.  Try it! Jess made it for Natalie’s baby shower last weekend (photos coming soon!) and it was such a hit.  And fortunately for me, Jess made so much of it that I’ve been eating all.week.long.  I’m so happy that they’re already in individual servings, so I can’t go too far overboard.


Banana Pudding 1 Banana Pudding

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding

16 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 cups ice cold water

Small box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix

3 cups heavy whipping cream

Box Nilla Wafers

4 sliced bananas

1.  In the bowl of a mixer, beat sweetened condensed milk and water for about a minute.  Add the pudding mix and beat for about two more minutes.  Transfer to a smaller bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.  You want the mixture to be extremely firm.

2.  In a large bowl on medium speed, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pudding mixture until fully combined and no streaks of pudding are visible. Mix in the bananas.

3.  In individual jars, divide pudding and top with crushed vanilla wafers.  Cover tightly and refrigerate for about 8 hours before serving.

Jessica’s Favorite Packed Lunch: Roasted Vegetable Salad with Black Beans and Quinoa

Healthy Salad To Go 0004 Super Healthy Lunch On The Go

Lately, I’ve been whipping up the ingredients for this salad every Sunday night, so there’s no excuse to eat healthy and well when I’m on the go. I keep the salad greens in separate single-serving containers, with the veggies, beans and quinoa in another. When I leave in the morning, the only thing to do is grab two containers from the fridge, add a piece of fruit and go!


Roasted Veggies (change these up as you will…I sometimes use squash or pumpkin. Whatever is on-hand.)

1 head cauliflower, chopped into roughly 1-2 in pieces

3-4 sweet potatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces

12 baby carrots, peeled

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

olive oil to drizzle

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Toss cauliflower, potatoes and garlic cloves in about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season with roughly 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool completely before dividing into individual portion containers. The garlic will add subtle flavor to the rest of the veggies. You can discard it after everything has cooled if you like, but I use it in the beans below.


Black Beans (You can use any bean you prefer. Shake it up! I use canned beans because they’re so simple and taste great.)

1 15oz (or similar) can of black beans

1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2-3 roasted garlic cloves (see above), chopped finely

Put everything in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 3-4 minutes. This will cook the onions every so slightly and let the onion and garlic flavor the beans without breaking the beans down. Add cooled beans to individual portions of veggies.


Quinoa (Feel free to substitute another grain. Get crazy!)

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

pinch salt

Add quinoa and water with a pinch of salt to a pot over medium high heat. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Let cool slightly and add to individual portions of veggies and beans. Cover portions and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.



1 bag washed baby greens, or any greens of your choice. Spinach or arugula would be nice, too!

dressing of your choice (I make a simple balsamic vinaigrette or use something store-bought.)

For this salad, I like the greens cold and the rest of the salad warm, so I store individual portions of the greens separate from the rest of the salad components. Before adding greens to each container, I coat the bottom of the container with roughly 1 tbsp of dressing, adding the greens on top of the dressing.


To serve:
Heat one individual portion of veggies, beans and quinoa in a microwave for 1-2 minutes. With lid still sealed, shake container of greens vigorously. Dressing at the bottom of the container will coat the greens uniformly. Place greens on a plate or bowl, followed by the hot ingredients. And enjoy!

Healthy Salad To Go 0001 Super Healthy Lunch On The Go
Healthy Salad To Go 0002 Super Healthy Lunch On The Go
Healthy Salad To Go 0003 Super Healthy Lunch On The Go

January 14, 2013 Semi-Homemade Pizza


Our new favorite entertaining food is homemade pizza.  Well, semi-homemade pizza.  It’s so good. It’s so easy.  And for some reason, people are excited about it.

We buy all of the ingredients at Monte Carlo Deli in Burbank where the freshest ingredients are so inexpensive you feel like you’re stealing them.  Amazing sausages, delicious sauces, wonderfully salty cheese and fresh dough are basically for free.  Chris puts it all together and the perfect entertaining meal rolls out of the oven every fifteen minutes or so.  Each pizza divides into about 8 small slices, and each pizza is made with different toppings.  My favorite toppings include sausage, thinly sliced fennel or leek and a sprinkling of mozzarella.  But, as pizza goes, you can put anything you want on top and it will be heavenly!  Add a big salad and entertaining has never been easier!

A few tips… use lots of Semolina flour for the surfaces so the dough doesn’t stick.  I’m not culinary master, so I don’t know why, but it’s just better than regular old flour.  You’ll also need a pizza peel and a pizza stone… both are imperative to a perfect crust.   The rest, is easy peasy.


Semi-Homemade Pizza (Makes 2 pizzas)

1 Bag of Pizza dough


Cheese (I always buy twice as much cheese as sauce… we go through the cheese much more quickly.  But, every person is different in this respect!)



1. Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Put the pizza stone in the oven, on the middle rack.

2. Sprinkle your surface with Semolina flour.  Roll out the dough to desired thickness.  We like a thin crust, so we roll it on the thinner side.   You can use a rolling pin, or just pull it out with your hands.

3. Sprinkle the pizza peel with Semolina flour and place dough on top.  Add sauce, then cheese, then toppings.  If you’re adding sausage, we add it raw and let it cook in the oven.  If you’re adding onions/fennel/leeks/etc use a mandolin so they’re all the same size.  Thus, they’ll bake evenly.

4. Slide the dough from the peel onto the stone.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust begins to brown.

5. Cut into pieces, and enjoy!

Homemade Pizza 0001 Semi Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza 0002 Semi Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza 0003 Semi Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza 0004 Semi Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza 0005 Semi Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza 0006 Semi Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza 0007 Semi Homemade Pizza

September 3, 2012 In The Kitchen: Smoothies


I’ve been eating the same thing for breakfast every day for about six months.  I thought I would get bored.  I thought I’d be over it.  But it’s so freakin’ tasty I actually get excited for it.  Excited for vegetables for breakfast!?  What?!  Turns out, smoothies are delicious.

I juice whatever I happen to have in the fridge at the beginning of the week.  Kale, broccoli, apples, pears, zucchini… anything that I think will have a lot of liquid.  Then I put half of it in an airtight bottle and freeze the other half into ice cubes.  Makes breakfast super easy every morning.  A few ice cubes, spinach, berries, avocado, banana and enough juice to blend it all together.  Done & done and healthy :-)  I always make sure to add either a banana, half an avocado or mango, or all three actually.  They make the results so smooth & creamy.  Honestly, I sometimes consider how healthy this can actually be because it’s so delicious.

smoothie 001 In The Kitchen: Smoothies


Smoothie, Makes 2


5 Frozen Juice Cubes

Handful of Spinach

Handful of berries (strawberries, blueberries or raspberries are my favorite!)

1 banana, 1/2 avocado or 1 mango (or two, or three)

Fresh Vegetable Juice (enough to blend everything together)

Throw it all in the blender and let it whirl!

Le Divorce took me right back to France.   But it made me feel that I was actually French.  Or, at least learning a lot about the French.  She does such an amazing job of demonstrating the cultural differences between Americans & the French.  Makes me want to pack up and move!

Well, until that happens, I can drink some tea and nosh on a few Madeleines.  They are so simple, so delicious, so light, so amazing.  I want to take a nap on a Madeleine.  It would be heaven!

Jess adapted the receipe from a Laduree book, Laduree: The Sweet Recipes. Just a note, if you’re looking for an amazing gift, this book is it!   It’s so beautiful you almost don’t want to ruin it by opening it too wide.  It comes in a beautiful box, wrapped in tissue paper.  It’s thick, fluffy and gilded.  Ridiculous.


cupcakes 0022 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

cupcakes 0032 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

cupcakes 0042 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

cupcakes 0052 In The Kitchen: Madeleines

Adapted from Laduree: The Sweet Recipes

Makes 24 individual madeleines or 60 mini madeleines.


2 lemons, unwaxed

3/4 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp cake flour, plus extra flour for moulds

2 tsp baking powder

12 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for moulds

4 eggs

1 2/3 honey


Prepare madeleine dough one day ahead.

1. Using a grater, remove zest from the lemons. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar with lemon zest. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Gently melt the butter in a separate bowl.

2. Add eggs and honey to the lemon and sugar mixture and whip until pale and frothy. Gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Add the melted butter and combine. Refrigerate batter for a minimum of 12 hours in a closed container.

3. The following day, melt 1 1/2 tbsp of butter and using a pastry brush, butter the moulds. Refrigerate for 15 min to allow butter to harden. Lightly dust them with flour, turn upside down and tap out any excess flour. If you do not fill the moulds immediately, return them to the refrigerator.

4. Preheat oven to 390 degrees. Fill moulds 3/4 to the top with batter. Place in the oven and bake: mini madeleines for 5-6 minutes, regular madeleines for 8-10 minutes. When golden, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from moulds.

Serve madeleines luke warm. If you do not plan on serving them right after baking, allow to cool and store in an airtight container, so they will stay soft and moist. Even if you’re using nonstick moulds, it’s still necessary to butter and flour them.

Any excuse to make pasta, drink wine and sit with my friends.  So, after deciding on Beautiful Ruins for her next review, Jess & I thought a delicious pasta dish would beautifully complement.  So, so, so good.  So light and airy.  So unexpected.  So. Good.

Jess and I made the pasta from scratch, while surprisingly easy, is totally not necessary to really enjoy this dish!  The roasted garlic will make your entire kitchen smell like heaven.  Almost so good that you wish it were a perfume. The preserved lemons are tough to find, we did spot some at The Cheese Store in Silverlake.  The smell atrociously.  Taste delicious when warm, not so much when cold.   Make lots, store it in individual containers and love on those leftovers for days!  I generally hate leftovers, so this is saying quite a bit for me!   Enjoy!

pasta 019 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

pasta 020 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

pasta 021 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

pasta 022 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

pasta 023 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

pasta 024 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

pasta 025 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

pasta 026 Fettucine with Preserved Lemon & Roasted Garlic

Fettuccine with Preserved Lemon and Roasted Garlic
adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, recipe by Molly O’Neill


2 heads of garlic

1 T plus 2 t olive oil


2 T unsalted butter

1 preserved lemon, pulp and rind finely chopped

1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 lb Fettuccine

Freshly ground black pepper

Zest of one lemon


1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top third off each head of garlic and discard. Drizzle the heads with a teaspoon each of olive oil, wrap in foil and roast until the garlic is very soft and golden brown, 50 to 70 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

2. Squeeze the garlic out of skins. Set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fettuccine until al dente. Toward the end of cooking, scoop out about 1/2cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta and place in a serving bowl.

4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. When the butter melts, add the roasted garlic and preserved lemon and cook for 1 minute.

5. Toss the fettuccine with the preserved lemon mixture. Toss again with the Parmesan and season generously with salt and pepper. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if necessary. Grate the zest of one lemon on top to serve.


June 14, 2012 Holy.Freaking.Crap.


The zucchini is ready!  Looks so good, no?   And normal sized?

Italy 124 Holy.Freaking.Crap.

hahahaha… it’s freaking enormous!

Italy 125 Holy.Freaking.Crap.


I used to buy salad dressing.  And then, one Thanksgiving, I was in charge of the salad and I wanted something special.  I’d never made dressing before, and for some reason, it seemed that it would be super intimidating.  Why even try if I can buy something great at the store?  But I decided to take a stab at it, and now I will buy another dressing again.  Except perhaps this one because it is amazing.

I made a Pepper Vinaigrette, and it was incredible.  It’s a great starting recipe because it’s simple & easy.  Once you have this basic recipe, making your own alterations is so simple.  Sometimes I leave out the red wine vinegar, sometimes I use dill instead of basil, sometimes just pepper, sometimes whatever comes out of the cabinet in my hands.  Always delicious.

Italy 121 Black Pepper Vinaigrette

Italy 122 Black Pepper Vinaigrette


Black Pepper Vinaigrette

3/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons tarragon or white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh or frozen chives

1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano


Whisk together all ingredients.


Note to self: Always clean the fresh herbs really really really well.  You never know what’s going to show up.

Italy 123 Black Pepper Vinaigrette