Showing posts with label grain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grain. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


For years now, I've been wanting to venture into the kitchens of chefs and cooks I admire, to take a peek and to share those glimpses (and a recipe of course!) with you here. I can't imagine a better place to start than Boulette's Larder and Bouli Bar.

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to be welcomed into Amaryll's kitchen. From the crisp cool maritime light, to the steamy pots on the stove top, bushels of rosy apples, rows of copper pans of every imaginable size, and stacks of jars packed with spices, herbs, and other temptations, this place is magic. 

Boulette's Larder is amongst the favorite restaurants of pretty much everyone I know, and for good reason. There is something ethereal, yet earthy about Amaryll's cooking - her flavor combinations and use of ingredients are unexpected and inspiring, while at the same time her food is always deeply comforting and full of nourishment. For nearly a decade now at Boulette's, Amaryll and her partner Lori have been luring all of us in with cozy breakfasts, delectable lunches, and amazing dinner events. I'm guessing that all of you local Bay Area folks have tried Boulette's, but if you haven't, don't walk, run.

Lori and Amaryll's quiet corner of the SF Ferry Building has become a much busier place over the past few months since they've opened their second restaurant, Bouli Bar right next door to Boulette's. I've eaten a couple of scrumptious lunches since the doors opened and I'm looking forward to many many more. 

Abby, my best friend from high school - co-founder of international architecture firm Kallos Turin - designed Bouli Bar (and the quietly revamped Boulette's). She would be horrified at my gushing, but I can't help myself... the space is stunning. Another friend perfectly described Bouli Bar as modern and clean, yet jewel-like; and I have to say that the space has a freshness completely unlike any restaurant I've seen. There are cozy banquettes, warm communal tables, seating in the atrium of the bustling Ferry Building, while a beautiful brass-clad wood-fueled oven burns at the heart of Amaryll and Lori's new venture. 

Both Bouli and Boulette's feel just right and the food is unbeatable. We're so lucky. 

Amaryll was willing to share some cooking wisdom with me that I had to pass along to you. One of the most irresistible plates of food being served the morning I spent at Boulette's was a bowl of "corn cream" - kind of a fresh corn polenta - topped with buttery scrambled eggs, fresh lime and sea salt. Talk about comfort food!

How do we make this Corn Cream at home? I had to know. Here's the scoop...

CORN CREAM serves 2
printable recipe
  • 4 ears sweet corn
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • sea salt to taste
  • optional: heavy cream
Cut kernels from uncooked corn. Amaryll suggests cutting the kernels in a few phases: first, cut off the kernels at about 1/2 depth; next, slice the remaining corn from the cob; finally, use the back of a knife or spoon to scrape the length of the cob to get as much of the corn milk as possible. (Try doing all of the cutting and scraping of the corn over your blender or food processor, so you don't loose one tasty bit.)

Place cut corn in a blender or food processor. Press the kernels down with a wooden spoon to help release the liquid and to make blending easier. Thoroughly puree the corn for a minute or two until frothy like a cappuccino. (You can also run the corn kernels through a juicer, if you've got one). Feel free to strain the puree through a loose sieve if you want a very smooth texture, but a coarser texture is nice as well.

Pour your puree in a saucepan with butter and a few pinches of sea salt. Warm the corn over low heat, stirring occasionally. The corn will release its starches as it cooks, thickening the puree. The cooking also brings out the natural sugars of the corn, making for an amazing naturally sweet bite.

After only 5-10 minutes of gentle cooking, your Corn Cream will be ready to eat. Feel free to add a little cream for a looser consistency. Season with additional sea salt to taste.

I can imagine endless ways to serve the sweet creamy goodness: with poached fish, sauteed greens, grilled chicken, fried eggs, seared tomatoes.... So many delicious possibilities. 

Trust me, you need Corn Cream in your life.

Thank you, Amaryll.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Even though it has been feeling a bit like winter here in Berkeley - we're talking plenty of fog, wooly socks, gray skies, high temps in the 60s - I know it's summer out there somewhere.

Every time I step into Monterey Market I see edible proof of mid-summer heat. A few weeks back I bought the most tender yellow beans. Peaches are bursting with sweet juices. Melons abound. And a few days ago I saw the piles. The piles of dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes. I smiled, did a little jig, and snatched up pounds of the beauties. For decades, I was committed to heirloom tomatoes, then I discovered dry farmed Early Girls. They don't look too snazzy when you compare them to the heirloom lookers, but man oh man the Early Girl flavor is incredible. Sweet, like candy.

Good tomatoes make this simple dish sing. A quick stint on the stovetop only heightens the sweetness of the tomatoes, then their juices mix with the garlic-infused oil, there's a slight crunch to the parboiled green beans, and the fluffy quinoa soaks up all the juicy tomato goodness and becomes almost creamy like risotto.

This dish is light, relaxed, and summery - it's delicious served with the Slow Roasted Salmon and Meyer Lemon Relish from my last post, or can stand on its own as a nice one-bowl vegetarian option. (Leave out the feta, and we can feed our Vegan friends too!)

The recipe is quite flexible....  You can eat it warm or at room temp. Leftovers are delish, and you can bring this dish to a potluck, or even pack some up for a plane flight as I did a couple of weeks ago. I can't tell you how happy I was at 35,000 feet, passing up airplane food to nibble on this quinoa. Yes, I was strapped into my uncomfortable plane seat, passing the time watching bad TV, but I had freshness in hand and it tasted darned good.

(printable recipe)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • sea salt
  • a couple of handfuls tender green or yellow beans ( about 6 ounces), rinsed
  • 1 pound dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes or firm sweet cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into thin slivers
  • chopped fresh basil leaves (or micro basil if you have access to it)
  • optional: Crumbled feta

First make your quinoa: Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse quinoa with cool tap water, then place quinoa in a medium saucepan. Cover with 2 cups water and add a pinch of salt. Place saucepan on the stove top and bring the liquid to a boil. Turn down flame to low, cover and simmer quinoa for 15-17 minutes until tender. Let cooked quinoa rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Let the quinoa sit in the saucepan while you prep the other ingredients.

The beans: Trim stem ends off beans and parboil them in salted water for 3-4 minutes until vibrant and tender. Immediately spread cooked beans onto a clean dishcloth and allow them to cool a bit before handling. Once the beans are cool enough to handle, slice them into bite-size pieces. Set beans aside while you prep the tomatoes.

The tomatoes: If you are using Early Girls, slice them into 6-8 wedges. If you are using cherry tomatoes, go ahead and cut the cuties in half. ( By the way... do you use a serrated knife to cut your tomatoes? I find that it's so much easier.) Heat olive oil in a medium cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add garlic slivers to the hot oil and let them sizzle for 20-30 seconds, then add tomatoes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the tomatoes cook for 2-3 minutes. Take pan from the heat and add the sliced beans to the tomatoes. Salt to taste.

Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl, stir in tomatoes, beans and all the juice and goodies from the pan. Salt to taste. Top with chopped basil and feta.  

If you are planning to take this salad on a picnic or for a work lunch, I suggest adding the feta and basil just before serving.

Serves 2-3 as a main; 4-6 as a side

Psst... Any of you with kids at home, you know that the start of school is fast approaching. If you're anything like me, you are desperate for school lunch inspiration. Katie Morford from Mom's Kitchen Handbook has come to our rescue - when Chronicle sent me a copy of Katie's new book, I was stoked.  Best Lunch Box Ever: ideas and recipes for school lunches kids will love is packed with tasty, healthful lunch ideas. Lilah is already scheming up what she wants from Katie's book. Phew!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


For me, fall feels official after we've had our first fire in the fireplace. I love long summer days, but sitting around with friends, chatting by the warmth of a fire on a dark evening makes saying goodbye to summer okay by me.

Autumn mornings are another story. There's something painful about dragging ourselves from bed before the sun rises. We all need a little extra help to wake our sleepy bellies and eating something warm and cozy like this oatmeal does help to put all of us in a good mood for the day. (I must confess that I also need a few cups of really strong coffee to get myself going!)

What's your morning routine these days?

My Baba was big into a warm bowl of Cream of Wheat in the morning. Even though wheat is no longer part of my life, I still like a hearty bowl of warm grains. Baba always chopped up dates and tossed them into the bowl - this tradition I happily continue. The carmely dates add a nice chewy, sweet bite and I like to add a few other of my favorite goodies to the mix. Slices of ripe juicy pears, toasted hazelnuts, along with cream and maple syrup, transform a simple bowl of oats into a full meal packed with complex flavor, texture, nourishment, and comfort - a very good was to start the day.

Pears are ridiculously good this time of year and I'm eating them every which way I can. How about you?

Monday, September 24, 2012


First off, I wanted to thank you for all of your kind and enthusiastic responses about my book news. I'm deeply grateful and all the more inspired to make a delectable cookbook for all of you!

Okay. Now, let's get back to cooking...

After 3 years of growing food in our backyard, we're finally really getting what works and what doesn't. It pained us to recently tear out our entire raspberry patch, when we accepted that it just wasn't getting enough sun. But when it comes to greens and herbs, we can rock them all year round. Kale is the family fave and we have a whole bed devoted to growing all sorts of varietals - now we don't even have to make a trip to the market to procure some tasty greens. This makes my inner lazy cook especially happy!

Ever since I got Heidi Swanson's book last year, I've been wanting to make her quinoa patties. I often find myself with leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge and I end up eating it with all sorts of things... leftover roasted chicken, salsa, herbs, beans, and almost always avocado. Transforming leftover quinoa into hearty little savory cakes is brilliant and I love the versatility of Heidi's recipe. I think you could use quinoa or any other grain here - brown rice, millet, and/or amaranth would all be delish. And adding veggies to the mix seemed like a natural addition:  if you don't have kale, try spinach, broccoli, shitake mushrooms  - whatever you have on hand, or grow in your own backyard. Avocado, salsa verde, lemon, salt, cilantro, and garlic oil all were tasty topping for the patties we made, and I can imagine so many more ways to enjoy these savory cakes - I'm sure you can too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Paul and the kiddos have gone back to school, that Fall crispness is creeping into the air, but I'm not ready to let go of summer yet. Apples and figs are making their debut at the market, but luckily for me, summer goodness is still the show stopper. Peaches and melons continue to be super tasty and tomatoes are heaven. The piles of heirloom beauties always stop me in my tracks, yet the sweetness and pure tomatoiness of Dry Farmed Early Girls make me swoon.

In Greece earlier this summer, we ate stuffed tomatoes whenever we could and I've been wanting to make them at home. We stuffed the Early Girls with an herby risotto and I had to share with you guys...

INGREDIENTS thanks to Canal House Vol 1 by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
{printable recipe}
  • a dozen Dry Farmed Early Girls, or 8 medium tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

    Preheat oven to 400.

    Slice of 1/4 off the bottom of each tomato, and set bottoms aside. Carefully scrape out tomato flesh into a medium mixing bowl and place the hollow tomato cups on a baking tray or dish.

    Break up the tomato flesh with the back of a spoon. Mix in rice, parsley, garlic, and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Scoop rice/tomato mixture back into the tomato cups and cover them with the reserved tomato bottoms. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes.

    Bake in the hot oven for 40-50 minutes or until rice is tender and cooked through.

    Serve at room temp with a leafy green salad on the side. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012


    My girl Lilah doesn't like to brush her hair. She's way too busy playing imaginary games, collecting rocks and flowers, listening to Harry Potter on CD, kicking butt in Tae Kwon Do, and sometimes she is just too busy... cooking.

    When my friends Leslie and Ethel gave me a copy of their book At the Farmers' Market with Kids, I was stoked, and so were Otis and Lilah. My kids like their time in the kitchen, especially when they're in charge. With corn still in its late-summer sweet spot around here, the corn pudding recipe seemed like the one to try. Lilah was the chef, and I was her assistant.

    Leslie and Ethel's book gives clear directions for young readers and highlights simple tasks for even younger kids. Lilah and I had a blast making these creamy puddings.

    Needless to say, you don't have to be a kid to enjoy this recipe...

    INGREDIENTS from At the Farmers' Market with Kids by Leslie Jonath and Ethel Brennan
    {printable recipe}
    • 1.5 to 2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 large ears of corn
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup grated white cheddar
    • 3 cups milk
    • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

    Preheat oven 350. Butter one 8 inch baking dish (or I used four 4 inch ramekins).

    Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute the shallot, chives and corn kernels, stirring occasionally until corn has softened - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    In a medium bowl whisk together eggs and salt. Stir in grated cheese and set aside.

    In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of milk to a gentle boil. Whisk in corn meal. Lower heat, stir regularly, and cook corn meal until it resembles a thickened porridge - about 5 minutes of cooking.

    Remove sauce pan from heat, whisk in the remaining cup of milk, the corn mixture, and the egg mixture. Pour into buttered baking dish(es).

    Bake the pudding(s) for about 45 minutes until the tops are golden brown. A toothpick stuck into the center of the pudding should come out clean.

    Eat and enjoy!

    Serves 4-6

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011


    I have a crush on Christopher Hirsheimer.

    I have never met Christopher, but nearly every time I drool over a stunning piece of food photography, Hirsheimer's name seems to be at the bottom. I first learned of Hirsheimer through her work on David Tanis' books and I was completely inspired by the rustic beauty of the images. I then found out that she was one of the founders of Saveur - of course that makes sense.

    Last week I was running errands around Berkeley and came across a cool new shop called Home 101. Home 101's eclectic mix of vintage housewares and yummy preserves, olive oils and granola by local artisans feels just right. It turns out the owner Allison is a totally nice woman and after we got to chatting about food photography, she generously gave me a copy of Canal House Cooking no 6What does this story have to do with my girl crush on Hirsheimer? Well, Canal House is her project, too.

    Canal House is a beautiful series of small cookbooks full of homey recipes and adorned by Hersheimer's mouth-watering and honest photography. Find it if you can. Buy it if you can. It is a treat!

    I have never made my own crackers, but have been curious to give them a try.  The simplicity of the Canal House recipe inspired me to take the plunge.

    Man they are good...cheesy, buttery, and so easy to make, what more could I want from a recipe?

    INGREDIENTS adapted from Canal House Cooking #6
     (printable recipe)
    • 6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • 1 cup flour (GF folks I used Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
    • pinch ground cayenne pepper
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • ice water

    Finely grate cheese and place in Kitchen Aid Mixer. (Equipment note: Canal House recommends making the dough in a food processor, but I don't have one. If you don't have a Kitchen Aid Mixer or food processor, you could mix the dough with forks, or a pastry cutter.)

    Add flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne to the cheese. Stir to blend.

    Add one tablespoon of butter at a time until dough is crumbly.

    Slowly drizzle about 4 tablespoons of ice water into dough while mixing. Stop adding water as soon as the dough is moist enough to be formed into a ball.

    Place ball of dough onto parchment paper. Flatten into a thick disk, wrap the dough up in the paper, and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a day.

    When you are ready to roll out your cracker dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Roll dough between two pieces of parchment until it is 1/8 inch thick. Use small cookie cutters to cut the crackers.

    Place uncooked crackers on a parchment-lined baking sheet into the preheated oven. I recommend placing the crackers on one of the upper racks of your oven so the bottoms don't get too brown.

    Cook for 8-12 minutes until golden.


    Friday, April 29, 2011


    Here in Bali, we've been buying these tangerines for months now and I still am awed every time I cut one open - the contrast of the ultra-dark green skin and the bright ripe orange interior is a thing of beauty. I wanted to celebrate these stunners with a recipe for you, and I came up with this new dish that I am crazy about.

    I knew I wanted to make something with quinoa, tangerines, and pistachios. After adding a little of this and a little more of that, we have a recipe that is sweet, savory, spicy, salty, and wholesome all in one bowl.

    In order to get the kids to eat this dish, I served all the elements separately. Lilah, favoring pistachios and tangerine slices, ate everything but the spicy dressing. Otis helped make the puree and loved everything but the feta. P and I doused our quinoa in the verdant puree and liberally sprinkled every goody over the top. We all went back for seconds - success!

    This quinoa could easily be a vegetarian main course and I think it would make a delicious accompaniment for simple grilled chicken, or a whole roasted fish.

    • 1 1/2 cups quinoa (brown rice can also be used in this recipe)
    • 1/3 cup fresh tangerine juice
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 4 teaspoons lime juice (approximately 3 limes)
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • pinch of fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 or 2 jalapenos, de-seeded and chopped
    • 1 (loosely packed) cup fresh cilantro leaves + extra for garnish
    • 1/2 (loosely packed) cup fresh mint leaves + extra for garnish
    • 1/2 cup pistachios
    • 2 large, or 4 small tangerines
    • 1/2 cup crumbled feta

    Rinse quinoa several times. Then combine quinoa with 3 cups of water in a large sauce pan. Bring water to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until grain is tender and cooked. Rinse with cold water. Let cool to room temp.

    Place tangerine juice, olive oil, lime juice, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, chopped jalapeno, 1 cup cilantro leaves, and 1/2 cup mint leaves into a blender. Blend until you have a nice vibrant green puree.

    Prepare tangerines: Peel 2 large (or 4 small) tangerines. I kept the peels on for the photographs because I just love the look (and my one and only knife here is duller than you can imagine!), but I wouldn't recommend eating that much peel in the salad. Check out this post, for a really easy way to slice citrus for salad.  Or, if you happen to have tangerines with tender membranes, you can just peel them and use the sections unsliced. Set aside tangerine slices/sections.

    If you have picky little eaters, serve all ingredients separately. Otherwise, toss room temperature quinoa and dressing together. Scoop a mound of dressed quinoa onto each plate. Scatter tangerine, pistachios, feta, and the remaining fresh herbs over the top.


    makes 4- 6 servings as a side dish, or 2-3 large mains

    Thursday, April 21, 2011


    Our time here in the world’s rice belt has shown us new rice varietals and inspired fresh recipes in our kitchen.  Today's recipe comes from our friends Johnny and Cath at Bali Eco Stay. An Italian, foodie friend of theirs introduced the rice balls to their resort kitchen and I had to bring them to yours. Using brown rice and herbs seems a healthy and modern twist on classic, Italian "Arancini," a Sicilian dish meaning "little orange" which dates back to the 10th century. I have always loved Arancini, though this is the first time I have made them myself. I adore this recipe and look forward to using it all sorts of ways. Maybe using red rice instead of brown? Different herbs, or even spinach? Mushrooms? Sun dried Tomatoes? Feta? Who knows, but the potential for deliciousness seems endless.

    Rice has been a dominant theme of our time here in Bali. We are living right on the rice fields, have watched the green plants grow, then yellow for harvest time. Now our field lies fallow. The ducks have come to work their magic. As I write this, the hum of the tractor - prepping the field for a new crop - is working its way to our doorstep.

    I do love seeing where our food comes from. Rice, just ready for harvest, is a golden delight I had to share with you and I think you'll love the rice balls!

    INGREDIENTS adapted from Bali Eco Stay
    (printable recipe)
    • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, still warm
    • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
    • 1/2 cup chopped basil
    • 6 large green olives, pitted and chopped
    • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 3 red chilies (medium hot), finely chopped 
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste if necessary
    • pepper, to taste
    • white rice flour
    • 2 eggs
    • brown rice flour
    • raw coconut oil or other high heat oil

    While your brown rice is cooking on the stove top, prep all ingredients. Place chopped herbs, olives, grated Parm, paprika, chilies, salt and pepper into a large bowl.

    Take hot cooked rice and add it to the bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients to integrate. Taste for seasoning. I must warn you that the mixture is so good at this point, you will be temped to stop here and have risottoesque meal and be very very happy.

    When the mixture is cool enough to handle, mold the rice into balls. Set aside.

    Set out three low bowls for dredging. One with white rice flour. One with whisked raw egg. One with brown rice flour.

    Take each rice ball and first roll it lightly in the white rice flour, then the egg, then the brown rice flour. You are ready to cook.

    Heat coconut oil in a large frying pan. You want your oil to be hot and bubbly, but not smoking. The hot coconut oil smells so good!

    Place four to five balls in the hot oil, with ample space between. Turn a few times until golden brown all over.  Remove the cooked balls from the oil and let cool a bit on paper towels, which will soak up any excess oil.

    Add a sprinkling of salt if you desire. Serve warm with a leafy green salad.


    Tuesday, April 5, 2011


    Being that we are spending 5 months living on the edge of a rice field, it seems appropriate to share a recipe to mark the harvest in our field. When we first arrived in Bali in January, our field was a young, deep, dewy green. We have watched stalks grow higher, eventually displaying cascades of rice.  Recently the plants yellowed as their life cycle came to an end; and, last week, the farmers harvested the plot outside our door.

    I am embarrassed to admit that these crepe-like pancakes are a daily indulgence for us here in Bali. Lilah prefers hers with a sprinkling of coconut sugar. P and I top ours with yogurt and fresh fruit. Otis takes his plain. With just a pour of palm sugar syrup - the pancakes are simply delicious...

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011


    Last fall in the mountains of Bali, we tasted a local delicacy that we ended up dreaming about for months: lak lak, small crumpet-like cakes made from rice flour.  P, the kids, and I were all smitten and found ourselves scarfing down these Balinese tea cakes as though we hadn't eaten in ages. When we returned to Mount Batukaru last month, we knew we had to eat more lak lak. Johnny, our ever-gracious host at Bali Eco Stay, not only plied us with daily doses of these fresh Balinese cakes topped with palm sugar syrup and shredded coconut, he arranged for Lilah and I to go and cook with the lak lak lady.

    It turns out there are lak lak all over Bali, with many regional variations, but Ibu Yoga is the lak lak goddess of Kanciana village. She makes hundreds daily to sell nearby. Being invited into a traditional Balinese kitchen was a first for me, and I was psyched. Ibu Yoga's kitchen is without fancy gadgets, electrical appliances, or even running water. Everything is cooked over a fire. I was awed by the beauty of the walls blackened with years of smoke and wondered just how many lak laks had been cooked there.


    With very little verbal communication possible, I studied Ibu Yoga's technique and tried to glean her recipe.  I watched closely as she made the batter. With her hands, she mixed only two ingredients, rice flour and very warm water, until the consistency was like watery paint. When I saw her special terracotta lak lak pan, I asked if there was somewhere I could buy one. She ended up giving me her old pan (the one used in these photos) assuring me she had a nice new pan for herself. I treasured her soot-covered ceramic pan and hoped that all its memories of lak lak-making with Ibu Yoga would lead to success in my own kitchen.

    When we got back to our little Bali kitchen, I was itching to try my luck at lak lak. I knew that cooking over a wood fire was essential to Ibu Yoga's cakes. An open fire, aside from camping, is not the norm for me - so I put Ibu's pan over the gas flame and got cooking. Like Ibu, I heated water up in a kettle, chopped candlenuts for seasoning the pan, then I mixed rice flour and warm water with my hands until the consistency looked like the Ibu Yoga's batter.

    My first few attempts at my own lak lak were not great: the cakes were too thick, chewy, or under-cooked. But after a couple of tries, I felt as though my brief training with the master paid off. Now, after school, I fire up the lak lak pan and my kids and their buddies line up panting and chanting for lak lak. Sometimes we top them with palm syrup and coconut in the traditional fashion. Otherwise we use a dollop of coconut cream and a sprinkling of coconut sugar, or even just a smear of Nutella.

    In this year of traveling mostly in the world's rice belt, I have come to see rice and rice flour as astonishingly versatile ingredients. I never would have guessed that rice flour mixed with water could be transformed into something as delicious as lak lak. Even if Ibu Yoga's ceramic lak lak pan does not survive our journey home, I am going to try a cast iron aebleskiver pan on my gas stove top in Berkeley. We cannot live without lak laks.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011


    I apologize for making you wait. How could I spend all these months eating and cooking in Bali without sharing this island's signature dish?

    Before we left home last August, everyone I know who has been to Bali pleaded with me to share a black rice pudding recipe. There is something magical about this dish. Even eleven years after our first visit to Bali, I distinctly remembered the creamy, sweet satisfaction.

    Black rice pudding is served for breakfast, afternoon tea, as well as for dessert. I have yet to find a Balinese menu without it. 

    I have heard that black rice is a highly nutritious grain. In my sleuthing, I read that black rice considered a super food, is loaded with iron, and is a powerful antioxidant. Black rice has been called "forbidden rice" in China where only the emperor was allowed to eat it. I must say, this grain does seem august and I'm quite happy it isn't forbidden.

    I have tried a number of recipes for this dish. After much experimentation, I came up with this version that I hope you love as much as we do.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011


    All over New Zealand and Australia, we encountered delicious pastries called Friands,  a descendant of the French financier.   I found a recipe to try, baked and ate batch after batch until they were just right.  Now, I am hooked on these moist almondy tea cakes. Yum!

    In Nelson, New Zealand, we settled in for a longer stay, had a cute little kitchen, and I decided to take on more adventurous baking projects. Since my cooking life became free of wheat, I have been hesitant to start making my own flour mixes. I love to use ground nuts in baking and when a recipe calls for wheat flour, I have relied on Pamela’s brilliant flour blends as a substitute. Since we started traveling, I have been playing a bit with other flours. I have had some mean rice pancakes and throughout Asia, rice flour has been a good friend to me. In Nelson, I found a groovy little health food store with all sorts of bulk grains and flours. I picked up some millet flour because the flavor is so good and it is healthy as well.

    Unlike many gluten-free baked goods, these tea cakes are fluffy and light in the centers thanks to the whipped egg whites. 

    adapted from Raspberry Friand Recipe in Donna Hay December 2010
    • 1 cup ground almonds
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
    • 5 lightly whisked egg whites, room temp
    • 1/4 cup millet flour
    • 1/2 cup white rice flour
    • (3/4 cup of cake flour can be substituted for the rice and millet flours)
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • raspberries, fresh or frozen will do

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Grease muffin tin. Set aside.

    Bring eggs to room temperature.

    In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy, but not stiff.

    In a separate bowl, sift baking powder, sugar and flours. Add ground almond to the dry ingredients. Stir.

    Fold dry ingredients into egg whites.

    Add melted butter. Stir to incorporate batter.

    Pour batter into greased muffin tin and sprinkle a few raspberries over the tops.

    Bake 25 minutes until golden.

    makes 12

    Monday, January 3, 2011


    I am always looking for new ways to enjoy quinoa and I suspect this recipe will become a staple for us when favas are in season. If you don’t have access to favas, I think steamed, chopped asparagus or even spinach, would be a delicious substitute in this dish. Plus here's another use for those preserved lemons you might have made with me a while back.

    Eating favas in the middle of California winter, I feel like a traitor to my friends at home. Here in New Zealand it is early Summer and favas ( aka “broad beans” ) are ready for harvest and impossible for me to resist. I stumbled on this recipe in Australia’s Gourmet Traveller (my new favorite food mag) and loved the mix of flavors. I ended up making a lot of changes to the original recipe until I was satisfied with the balance of fresh, creamy, lemony, flavors I craved. I served the salad to P and my mom - when they oohed and aahed, I figured I needed to share the recipe with you.

    This salad can be a one-bowl-meal in itself or works as a substantial side dish for grilled fish or chicken.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010


    After eating dreamy breakfast polenta at Bather's Pavillion in Sydney, I had to make it myself. Polenta usually gets relegated to lunch or dinner, but it makes a really good breakfast porridge. So many ingredients can top the polenta... berries, pears, nuts of all sorts. And if you are wanting a less-sweet breakfast, poached eggs and aparagus would be tasty here as well.

    In honor of all the apple orchards we've seen across New Zealand, I made simple, baked and buttered apples, inspired by Elizabeth David. I couldn't resist adding locally harvested hazelnuts from the Nelson Saturday Market.

    If you are in need of a holiday breakfast, this belly-warming dish could easily serve a crowd.

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Pistachio Cake with Cara Cara Salad

    Pistachio cake with Cara Caras on the side sounds irresistibly delicious to me (and maybe even a little healthy). When I found this recipe in the beautiful A16 cookbook, I had to give it a try. Lately, I have been LOVING recipes that use ground nuts in baking - the nuts give such a rich flavor and texture.

    A lovely dessert after lunch, this pistachio cake could also be a nice little breakfast, tea, or brunch in and of itself. Today, I toasted a piece of leftover cake and ate it with a bowl of Greek yogurt and sliced pears. Yum.

    adapted from A16 Food and Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren
    • 1 1/3 cup unsalted and shelled pistachios (plus a handful for garnish)
    • 1 1/3 cup blanched almonds
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
    • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 3 lemons
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (for GF folks, Pamela's Bread and Flour mix)
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 5 Cara Cara Oranges or Blood Oranges
    • 1/4 cup Meyer Lemon Marmalade
    • creme fraiche

    Preheat oven to 300.

    In a food processor or blender pulse to grind up nuts. I recommend doing this in a couple batches to insure a fairly even ground. The ground pistachios were so gorgeous, I had to take a photo.

    Next combine butter and sugar in a stand up mixer. Grate the zest of three lemons. Using the paddle attachment, blend butter, sugar and zest for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add vanilla and mix until integrated. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly mix in the ground nuts. Add one egg at a time while leaving the mixer running. Wait until each egg is mixed in before adding the next. Finally, add flour and salt. Stop mixing when all ingredients are incorporated.

    Pour delicious batter into greased 4x8 inch loaf pan. The original recipe calls for the cake to bake for 45 minutes, but I had to bake the cake much longer. (About 25 minutes longer!) Trust yourself and use the old standard of checking for doneness - poke with a toothpick until it comes out clean.

    Before removing from pan, let cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the edges of the cake to insure it isn't stuck to the pan. The cake can be served warm or saved for later.

    While the cake is baking, prepare your Cara Cara salad. Remove skins from oranges and slice. Slice off top and bottom of each orange. Then remove of skin in a few wide strips. Cut orange crosswise into slices about 1/4 thick.  See this simple technique below...

    In a saucepan, gently warm marmalade. Add a little lemon juice if it is still too thick after warming. The texture should remind you of a thick vinaigrette. Toss the orange slices with the marmalade. Put this simple citrus salad on a plate next to a slice of the cake.

    Top cake with a dollop of creme fraiche and a few pistachios. Serve and enjoy!

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