Saturday, April 16, 2016

Best Fillets Ever

If I want to cook to impress, this is absolutely my go-to dish. But it's certainly not lite eating. The two secrets that make this recipe sing are 1. searing the meat in a VERY hot cast iron skillet and 2. The salty butter you pop on top when you throw your steaks in the oven. I should mention that I have been making these bad boys on Friday nights before my long Saturday morning runs and they have provided me with so much energy! There are so many conflicting studies on whether to carb-load vs. protein-load prior to race day but a big juice steak has been working for me so when my half marathon rolls around, this is what I'll be eating the night before. But I digress, per usual. Here is the recipe for two:
  • 2" thick grass fed fillets from a good butcher, 8-10 oz each. I've been getting mine at Whole Foods & Gelson's
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter (I like to stick to the super organic kind as well, you taste the difference)
  • EVOO
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked pepper
Here is what you do:
  • Remove your steaks from the fridge an hour before preparation and coat with olive oil and then cover in Kosher salt and cracked pepper (very important for the proper crusty sear)
  • When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Heat the cast iron on high heat for 5-7 minute, I put a dash of olive oil in the pan. You want to see the pan steaming (open your doors or set the kitchen fan on b/c you will set off the smoke alarm)
  • Pop the steaks in pan and sear on 5 different sides for two minutes a side. (top, bottom and three edges)
  • Place 1 Tbsp of butter on each steak and transfer to the oven. Cook for 6 mins for medium rare, 8 for medium
  • Let the steaks sit for 10 minutes after removing from the oven, this is VERY important. I like to take a spoon and pour the pan drippings, aka butter, over the steaks several times to really let the buttery flavor permeate the steaks. Don't cut into the steaks before serving, this destroys the process!
I like to serve with either roasted potatoes or crusty garlic bread along side a beautiful garden salad with tons of veg. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Greek Salad

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to whip up a great Greek salad but I'm including this recipe on the blog because A.) I believe the Greek dressing recipe is worth it's weight in gold and B.) the salad recipe is intended as a reminder of how simple making dinner at home can be, not to mention healthy. I use the dressing as a substitute for mayo on a sandwich or simply drizzled over roasted veggies. Also, there are lots of variations on the salad ingredients, most often I like to grab a rotisserie chicken and pop some slices atop the salad to make it a complete meal.  I also like to keep a lot of the ingredients aka the pre-made dressing and the bell peppers and cucumbers pre-chopped in my fridge so that when I get home from work all I have to do is cut up an avo and an onion and toss everything into a bowl and voila. The recipe serves four.

The dressing:

  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp Dijon 
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar (healthiest vinegar option)
  • 1 Tsp Kosher salt
  • Few turns of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C good EVOO
The dressing recipe is more than enough for a salad for four, I like to save it for later use, 3/4 of the recipe is perfect on a salad for four.

The salad:

  • 1 bag of lettuce, I'm partial to romaine and butter lettuce and toss in some arugula
  • 1 ripe avo, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1 diced cucumber

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chicken Piccata

Ever since I was a little girl my favorite Italian dish has been chicken piccata. There's something so comforting about breaded chicken in a thick lemon and caper sauce. It always send's me right back to my childhood dining with my family at the Chase restaurant in Santa Barbara. So when I saw a chicken piccata recipe on, I thought I would try whipping it up at home. Let me tell you, the dish was just as good as any restaurant, divine. The secret is using Meyer lemons, they have that extreme lemony flavor and produce so much juice.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise, organic if possible
  • Flour for dredging chicken 
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1/3 C fresh lemon juice (Myer if possible), requires about 4 medium sized lemons total, 3 for juice, one for garnish
  • 1/2 C dry white wine or chicken stock (I prefer wine)
  • 1/4 C brined capers
  • 1/3 C fresh parsley, chopped

Here's what you do:
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.
  • In large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp of butter with olive oil over medium to high heat
  • Add chicken pieces to skillet and cook on both sides for about 3-4 minutes until a bit browned. Remove chicken from pan.

  • Remove skillet from heat and add the lemon juice, capers, chicken stock/ white wine and scrape up the bits from the pan for extra flavor and stir. 
  • Return skillet to heat and bring to a boil.

  • Return chicken to skillet and simmer for about 5 mins.
  • Remove chicken from skillet and add the other 2 Tbsp butter to pan and whisk for a minute or so while the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
  • Return chicken to skillet and garnish with parsley and lemon slices. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Snickerdoodle Apple Bread

Anyone who knows me would tell you I am not much of a baker (other than pies which I cover in a previous entry). But since I'm training for a half marathon I seem to have acquired an insatiable appetite. I saw this recipe on, check out the site if you're a baker or like looking at sweet treats. Most of the ingredients for the bread are pantry staples and it's a very simple recipe. And your house will never smell better while the bread is cooking. It's a perfect Sunday morning treat for you and yours. Here's what you will need:

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 C flower
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 C light brown sugar
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 sour apple, diced and peeled
Cinnamon sugar topping:
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Here's what you do:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease 9x5 loaf pan
  • whisk together salt, baking powder and flour, set aside.
  • In a bowl of stand mixer or bowl large enough to accommodate all ingredients to mix with hand blender, beat butter, both sugars and cinnamon for 2 mins on medium speed and add in both eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until smooth, scrape sides if needed. 
  • Turn mixer to low and add in flower mixture and milk until combined. Set mixer aside.
  • Add the diced apple to mixture and stir until combined. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan.

  • Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the batter

Finally, bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for ten minutes and then transfer to warming rack and then -- GET. IN. THERE. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chicken in Red Curry

In an effort to cook in more often I decided to try making my own version of one of my go-to Sunday night Seamless delivery orders, chicken in Thai red curry. The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my favorite bloggers, Cupcakes and Cashmere who sang the praises of TJ's red curry sauce. This dish is super easy, tasty and healthy. Trader Joe's does most of the work for you so you can simply drop all the ingredients into your slow cooker and go about your day. All the components in the recipe come from TJ's so not only is it one stop shopping but it's on the cheap as well. Here's what you will need (serves 4):
  • Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (organic if possible)
  • 1 container TJ's red curry sauce 
  • 1 C shredded carrots
  • 1 C peas (I prefer English peas from the fresh section) 
  • 1 C brown basmati rice (follow directions on package)
Set your slow cooker on high and add the curry sauce and two chicken breasts. Cook for one hour. Then add the carrots and peas and cook for an additional hour. Prepare the rice 40 minutes before serving. For an added twist, I tried subbing orzo for rice and it was equally tasty and a little bit more filling. I've also done a vegetarian version and simply added bell peppers and snow peas and omitted chicken. I like to cook up a whole batch on a Sunday afternoon and have prepped for weeknight dinners. 

Friday, March 4, 2016


Cassia Interior

Cassia had been at the top of my dining list for months. My first visit had me returning within the same week, it was that good. Can the team at Rustic Canyon do anything wrong? You take the farm to table eloquence of Rustic Canyon/ Milo and Olive/ Huckleberry and marry it with Bryan Ng's (of now shuttered Spice Table) Vietnamese flare and you have something truly unique. The cuisine is unlike anything on the west side. I should also mention that the aesthetics alone would draw me back in an instant: the white marble, sea glass tile and open airiness makes me want to settle in for hours with friends sipping cocktails whilst sharing plates of wonderful seafood and Vietnamese soups and small plates. Cassia is that impressive, in fact, that Jonathan Gold included it in his infamous 101 best LA restaurants list even though it's brand new. Here is what he wrote:

A Vietnamese charcuterie plate? Sure, why not? Delicate terrines, whipped lardo with slivered herbs, smoked duck, air-dried lamb, candied pork belly, ruddy salami flavored with Vietnamese spices — it could make up the filling of the best bánh mì you've ever tasted. Pot-au-feu shares roots with pho, and when the clear beef broth is scented with burnt onion, cinnamon and star anise, the resemblance is obvious. A crock of snails may take on even more resonance when the garlic butter is zapped with lemongrass and it is served with naan-like flatbread fresh from a wood-burning oven. What former Spice Table chef Bryant Ng has done here is to reimagine the populist California bistro as Vietnamese the way that Campanile reimagined it as Italian a generation ago, and the results are thrilling: plum salad with wild arugula, egg custard with uni, a mayonnaisey jellyfish salad you could imagine encountering on the Left Bank and what is undoubtedly the best Singapore-style white pepper Dungeness crab in town. Better than any other local restaurant at the moment, Cassia encapsulates the erasure of boundaries between expense-account dining and street food.

It's a tough reservation so I suggest going early and snagging a patio table. The bar is lovely as well. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Barcelona Food Guide

I fell in love with Barcelona on my first visit there several years ago. The sights, eats, architecture, beaches, museums, parks and people all completely blew my mind. I couldn't get back soon enough so I booked a return trip last November and had yet another epic adventure. Here are some of the food highlights from both visits:

La Guingueta

Smoothie bar or afternoon cocktails on the beach in Barceloneta. I loved stopping here for a juice during my morning runs along the harbor/ beach path in Barceloneta. Also seems like a great stop for a post beach cocktail on a sunny day.

El Xampanyet

Amazing, albeit very popular tapas spot. Located in the El Born neighborhood, this place is always hopping.  Grab some cava and try to snag one of the several tables in the back of the bustling local hang. Order the grilled prawns and some jamon. Trust me. 

Quimet and Quimet

This was an Anthony Bourdain approved spot and it didn't disappoint. Located in the El Pole Sec neighborhood, Quimet and Quimet is best known for their Conservas or foods that are preserved through canning, jarring or other methods which are displayed on the shelves. Another very popular locals spot. 

La Cova Fumada

Probably my favorite off all the tapas spots, this little hole in the wall is located in Barceloneta and oozes charm. La Cova is best known for the Bomba, aka small balls of mashed potatoes stuffed with pork and rolled in breadcrumbs and egg and finally deep fried in olive oil. Their langostino and large squid are not to be missed either. Probably one of our cheapest meals of all to boot. 

In the Boqueria Market

El Quim

It doesn't matter what time you hit this ever packed spot in the heart of the Boqueria, you are going to have a wait. And it is beyond worth it. Squid and eggs is the house specialty but I don't think you can order anything bad here. The mushrooms and eggs were pretty off the charts too. Another one of my all time favorites.

Pinotxo Bar

Of equal popularity as El Quim is Pinotxo Bar. There is no written menu so the staff will make suggestions. The chickpeas sauteed with botifarra (Catalan white sausage), cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves cannot be missed. The omelet with shrimp was divine as was the oxtail. The owner, who it appears is well into his 80's and dresses as Pinotxo's father (Pinocchio to non-Spaniards), still servers up drinks daily. This was a total highlight.  

Bodega La Puntual

Since Cal Pep was closed as it is on Sunday nights (Cal pep being one of the most popular tapas spots in Barca and a sister restaurant to la Puntual) my local friend suggested we pop into La Puntual for some truffled mortadella and cava.  It's in the heart of El Born close to the Picasso museum. Go for a snack before dinner or make it part of your tapas crawl.

Bar Mut

Introduced to me by my local friend, this was a total hit. It's pretty commonplace in Barca for restaurants to not have menus but rather have a staff member discuss your food proclivities and marry them with their nightly specials. This is not light tapas fare but rather three full courses. I attached above a photo of the coup de grace of the night, filet mignon covered in Fois gras. In the Eixample neighborhood, it's small and charming and a makes for the perfect date night. 


This was one of the toughest reservations I've ever made; book two months in advance at midnight Spanish time (3p in LA). It's totally worth the hassle and it will leave you with some of the most incredible food memories of your life. This is Albert Adria's "haute carnival" enterprise and it is so much fun. They even still serve up the infamous spherical olives ala' El Bulli. Go for the tasting menu with wine pairings, It's really pretty affordable compared to some of the tasting menus of Paris, LA, NYC, etc. This may be my favorite dining experience of my life. 

Hotel 1898

Best rooftop bar in the city right on Las Ramblas. Grab a gin and tonic and enjoy city views whilst a local DJ spins some rad tunes. 

La Escriba

Right on Las Ramblas close to the Boqueria Market. Owned by one of the top pastry chefs in Barcelona. If you're in the mood for something sweet, head to La Escriba for some of the best treats in the city. Great coffee as well.