giant pizza bubble

...a delicious cavern of airy goodness :-)



original sin

My fascination with taking obscenely delicious food photos can be traced back to this moment, and this photo (which was taken by my darling Tony).

(at this point, you really must take a moment to click on the photo to view it in its full high-res glory, if you haven't done so already)

It was June 2004. We were in London for a couple days, on our way to Cyprus. We stopped in this little place near our hotel for breakfast—Tony went for the full-on English Breakfast, I think I opted for something a bit lighter. At the time when he was taking this photo, I might have been making fun of him a little for doing it, but when I saw the photo I was speechless.

This was also the moment when I fell in love with the digital camera (I still had a film camera at the time). I was absolutely amazed and enthralled with the insane amount of detail it produced—specifically in looking at this very photo.

Incidentally, though we were only in London for 2 days, we went back for this very same breakfast the next morning.


happy thanksgiving

oh, ok. Here's the "before":


colorful salad

I started out with the intention of just having a simple salad with greens, walnuts and dried cranberries, but then started adding a bunch of other stuff that looked good.

Here, we have greens (bagged spinach-radicchio mix), dried cranberries, walnuts, mandarin oranges, crimini mushrooms, pomegranate seeds, and crumbled feta. The dressing is a bottled raspberry walnut vinaigrette.

A note about pomegranate seeds...

I've always been perplexed by the pomegranate. Really, all I knew about it was:

-The juice is supposed to have magical health benefits.
-The juice is tasty, if not a tad intense (like cranberry juice on crack).
-The juice is extremely expensive.
-The Pom Wonderful brand has adorable packaging design.

But, as far as what a pomegranate actually is, I really had no idea.
Is it fruit? Is it seeds? (turns out, it's both)

So I bought one, on a whim, to do a little investigating. Basically, it's made of these pithy chambers that contain tons (hundreds?) of these plump, red seeds. They're kind of like jumbo versions of the little pulp sacs that make up a citrus fruit, except each one has a seed in the middle of it (which is fully edible, and delightfully crunchy).

The method I used to get the seeds out is to score the fruit in quarters so it pries apart easily. Take a piece in your hand (with the skin facing up), hold it over a bowl, then just whack it repeatedly with a wooden spoon. The seeds fall right out into the bowl (pick out any pieces of pith that fall into the bowl). Word to the wise: do not wear white when you do this. Though not incredibly messy, there was a tiny bit of splatter involved— and that pomegranate juice will stain (like red wine).


buttermilk waffles

(topped with banana, pomegranate seeds, honey & cinnamon)

The recipe (if you are health-conscious, shield your eyes):

2 cups flour
2 TBSP sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Looking at that recipe, you might think these waffles would be terribly dense, but actually, they come out remarkably light and fluffy (just don't over-mix the batter).


buttermilk mashed potatoes

I don't have an exact recipe for this, but here's what I did... cut 4 red potatoes into small (1"-ish) cubes, put them in a pot of salted water (enough to cover the potatoes), and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are nice and tender.

Drain the water out, and mash with a potato masher. If you don't have one, use a whisk, fork, or anything else that passes for a mashing device (besides your fist, you'll burn yourself).

Add a few pats of butter and a little bit of milk (maybe about 1/4 cup). Mix around to combine. Then add a little bit of buttermilk, to the desired consistency. Season with salt & pepper, and add some fresh chopped parsley.

(If you don't have buttermilk, you could just substitute more milk. I just happen to have some buttermilk on hand that I have to use up.)


my goodness... my guinness!

Can anyone guess the theme of my cooking this weekend?

Guinness beef stew:

Guinness-chocolate cupcakes:

I found the cupcake recipe here (which has become one of my new favorite sites!)

The stew recipe came from
Everyday Food mag, but I tweaked some of the amounts to this:

4 lbs beef chuck (in 1-1/2 inch cubes)
1/4 c flour
2 cans tomato paste (6 oz. each)
2 lbs new potatoes
1-1/2 medium onions (cut into 1 inch pieces)
10 garlic cloves (sliced)
almost all of a 32 oz. carton of beef stock (or two 14.5 oz cans)
1-1/2 bottles of Guinness stout (you'll just have to drink the leftovers)
1 box frozen baby peas (thawed)

Basically, put all of that (except the peas!) into a 5-quart dutch oven pot, season with salt & pepper, cover, and bring to a boil on the stove (stir occasionally). Then move it into a 350-degree oven and cook for about 2-1/2 hours. After you take it out, stir in the peas and season again with salt & pepper.

This recipe will make a giant 5-quart vat of stew, so cut it down if you want to. I made the full recipe, and now have several containers of leftovers in my freezer, that will come in handy on a cold night when I don't want to cook.



I do the majority of my baking from scratch, however, I prefer to make brownies from a box mix. They're all good in my book, but the one above was made from the Ghirardelli mix, which has recently become my new favorite. The mix includes a packet of chocolate sauce, which I think contributes to the intense chocolatey-ness of the brownie.


cinnamon... in a meat sauce?

This is a nice little twist on your standard pasta with meat sauce— cinnamon & cayenne give it a bit of a Moroccan vibe.

1 lb ground meat (I used beef)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 minced garlic cloves (I love garlic)
one 6-oz can of tomato paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 TBSP red wine vinegar

Cook the meat until it's cooked through. Then add the onion & garlic, season w/salt & pepper, and cook about 5 min, until onion is tender.

Stir in the tomato paste, cinnamon & cayenne, and mix around for a couple minutes. Then add 1-1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until it's as thick as you want it. Add the vinegar and season with salt & pepper (I ended up adding quite a bit of salt to get the flavor I wanted—just be sure to add it gradually and taste along the way so you don't go overboard).

Toss the sauce with pasta (rigatoni is a good choice, because its large tubes hold the meat sauce well).

This was another recipe from Everyday Food Magazine, which I tweaked a little.
(what can I say, I love this magazine)


snacky dinner

Sometimes when I'm not up for a big meal, I like to just make a nice plate of snacks. Here, we have artichokes, olives, tomato, mozzarella, and salami. A friend-of-a-friend turned me on to this little trick: squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the salami. It's delicious.

Don't forget a nice glass of red wine.


new orleans

Possibly one of the best food destinations in the world. I've never eaten such delicious food at every single meal, than during my trips there. I've been to New Orleans twice within the past 3 years, most recently in April '07  (my boyfriend, Tony flew me down for a weekend as a birthday present—and we managed to eat a LOT of great food in those 48 hours).

A friend of mine went to New Orleans last weekend (and brought me back some Café Du Monde coffee—thanks, Amanda!), and it got me reminiscing about my trips (and obsessing about all of the great food), so I pulled some photos from my archives...

Beignets and café au lait at Café Du Monde:

Pulled pork sandwich and mac & cheese at The Joint, an unassuming little BBQ place in the Bywater, just east of the French Quarter (not pictured are the amazing baked beans and cole slaw that also accompanied this meal). Out of this world. If you go to New Orleans, you MUST go here.

At the opposite end of the dining spectrum is the fabulous Galatoire's. Here, we have pompano amandine:

And of course, Bananas Foster—NOLA's signature dessert. Surprisingly few restaurants actually have it on their menu. Your best bet is to get it at its birthplace, Brennan's.


mac & cheese

A little comfort on a cold & rainy night.

I make my mac & cheese the same way mom always made it for me as a kid... to the cooked pasta, just add milk, Velveeta & salt.


pasta with walnuts, sage & garlic

This is another one of my quick & easy meals that I make when I can't decide what I want.

While the pasta is boiling, throw into a pan (on medium heat): a couple TBSP of butter, a splash of olive oil, a handful of roughly-chopped walnuts, and a sliced garlic clove or two. Cook until the garlic gets just a hint of light brown, and the butter has browned slightly. Throw in some chopped fresh sage leaves (sometimes I use rosemary instead) and season with salt. Strain the pasta, dump it in, and toss to combine everything. Top with a little grated parmesan.


cranberry sauce

One 12-oz bag of cranberries
3/4 c sugar
1 c water
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Splash of Cointreau (or other orange-flavored liqueur)

Put the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature to eat. Couldn't be easier.

Makes a great companion to both sweets and savories. I made it last night, to go with my chicken thighs. Then, when I wrote the chicken post this morning, fell victim to my own food seduction: I looked at the crêpe entry, and they looked so good I had to make them again. I used some of the leftover cranberry sauce as a topping for them. yummmmmmm

(Cranberry sauce recipe from Everyday Food magazine.)

chicken thighs & couscous

This is one of the meals I like to make when I want something quick & yummy, without much cleanup.

Season chicken with salt, pepper & paprika. Place skin-side down on a rimmed baking pan, and into a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Turn over, and cook 10 minutes more.

While the chicken is cooking, make the couscous. For one serving, put 1/2 cup chicken broth in a bowl, and heat it to boiling in the microwave. Then stir in 1/3 cup couscous, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap (it's the same principle as cooking it on the stove, except you don't have to wash a pot & lid after). All of the liquid should be absorbed within 5 minutes. Finish it off with some lemon juice and fresh parsley.



3/4 c flour
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c milk
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp melted butter

(makes 6-8 crêpes, depending on how thin you make them)

The batter is very simple, the magic really comes from the technique. I use an 8" skillet (the small size makes them easier to control). The key is to use a very hot pan, and cook them very quickly so you get some nice color, but don't burn them.

1. When your pan is nice & hot, take a stick of butter and lightly rub it around the pan (wrap plastic wrap or wax paper around the end of the butter, to give you something to hold onto). The butter should foam on contact—if it browns right away, the pan is too hot.

2. Pour a small amount of batter into the center of your pan, and immediately swirl it around so it covers the bottom. Use
just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan—just shy of 1/4 cup.

3. The crêpe is ready to be flipped... well, when the crêpe is ready to be flipped (this is where the practice and judgment come in). Signs to look for: you see just a hint of browning around the edge, the uncooked batter top isn't runny anymore (or, just lift up a side and peek to see if the underside looks good). It happens pretty fast, so keep an eye on it. After you flip, it should only need a few seconds to brown the other side a little, since it's pretty much cooked through already.

Repeat from step 1.
Stack crêpes on a plate, with wax paper in between.

Here, I've drizzled honey on one of them, and filled the other with pumpkin butter & dusted with cinnamon. But there's really no limit to how you can serve these...

Fill with any kind of fruit, jam, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, or dessert spreads (chocolate sauce, caramel, Nutella). Dust with cinnamon, powdered sugar, or cocoa powder. Fold 'em, stack 'em, or roll 'em up. Or just pick them up and eat plain.

Recipe from my old school Betty Crocker cookbook.


pork tenderloin with spinach & apples

The pork: Take a roasting pan and throw in some roughly chopped onion & garlic, and a stalk of fresh rosemary and sage, to make a little aromatic bed for the pork. Lay the tenderloin on top, rubbed with a little bit of olive oil & seasoned with salt & pepper. Add a little bit of water to the pan (1/2 cup or so). Cover and roast at 425, 20-25 min. per pound.

The spinach: Sautee sliced garlic in some olive oil. Add spinach & cook until wilted. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.

The apples: Peel & slice apples. Sautee in butter until soft & browned.


a trip to the apple orchard

Apple cider donuts. Is there any better Fall treat?
(wait, did I already say that about apple dumplings?)

These are the ones that made it home with me. The rest were consumed fresh at the orchard... soft & warm, with a little bit of crispy crunch on the outside.


a little palate cleanser...

(click photos to view large, herby goodness)






apricot glazed chicken


(click 'em... you know you want to)

You only need 5 items to recreate this:

chicken breast + apricot preserves + red pepper flakes +
green beans + sliced almonds

Place chicken & green beans on a rimmed baking sheet, season with salt & pepper (drizzle a little olive oil over the beans). Throw under the broiler for 5-6 min. Take out, top chicken with apricot preserves & red pepper flakes, and sprinkle almonds on the beans. Broil for 5 minutes more. Done.

I'd think that other combinations of meat & preserves would be good as well. Pork & plum, perhaps?

(Recipe from Everyday Food magazine.)


apple dumplings

The perfect Fall treat. I made these using my grandmother's recipe:

2 c flour
1 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp shortening
1/2 c milk
apples (I use cortland or macintosh)
sugar, cinnamon & butter to taste

-Heat oven to 425
-Mix flour, sugar, baking powder & salt in a bowl
-Cut in shortening (so it's broken up into small pieces & well-distributed)
-Add milk, work into a dough
-Roll dough out to 1/8-1/4" thick
-Cut into squares (however big you want your dumplings to be)
-Place a pile of peeled & cut apples in the center of the square, sprinkle generously with sugar & cinnamon, and add some small pieces of butter
-Bring the dough around the apple pile & press it closed
-Arrange dumplings in a greased pan & pour boiling water in (fill about halfway up)
-Sprinkle more sugar & cinnamon over the top
-Bake for about 30 min (or until they look done)

They're great on their own, or served with vanilla ice cream.



ah... Paris. So much wonderful food.
I would go back just for these:

(oh yeah, you're gonna want to click & go large)

The pastries in France really are something special.

I got one of these every chance I got, from the little place across the street from the hotel. I even brought one all the way home and saved it for the next day, so I could savor Paris just a little bit longer...


bacon cups

After seeing this wonderful idea for bacon crafting,
I decided to try it myself.

Here is my result (click photos to see large):