Lemon Berry Scones

Right before our wedding, Nathan and I were invited to brunch at our friends Amar and Aliza’s house. Amar’s parents were in town and Auntie likes to treat us kids to dosas whenever she’s around. After (not) much consideration, we decided that even with a list of wedding to-dos staring at us, we of course could not resist the call of homemade dosas. I mean, a wedding is serious stuff but so are homemade dosas! So off we went … with a plate of scones in hand.

I love making scones. I love them not only because they’re tasty and delicious, but also because they’re easy, fast, way better when fresh and warm from the oven, and most importantly, the perfect baking project for us lazy people. Why? Because you actually want to mix as little as possible to ensure light, flaky, and tender scones. Oh, and they’re also the perfect thing to bring to parties because honestly, you don’t want a whole batch of them sitting at your house tempting you with their buttery goodness.

I’ve tried this recipe twice now and it’s worked out well both times. The first time was in the middle of blueberry season so I used fresh blueberries. This time, no blueberries were in sight at the store, so I experimented with chopped-up fresh strawberries and it still worked out quite well. Frozen berries should also work splendidly. I think in the winter, I might try this recipe again with dried berries to see if this is a recipe for all seasons.

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Seared Cod with Fennel Ragout

Wow, is it really the end of September already? That means, Nathan and I are getting married in less than month — yikes! Panic time!

Ok, I exaggerate – we’re actually doing pretty good as far as planning goes, so there’s really no need to panic. But you’ll still have to pardon me and my very-likely leave of absence from blogging once we get even closer to the wedding date, and then definitely when we’re on our honeymoon. But we’re going to Spain, possibly one of the best places in the world for eating, so I hope to come back with lots of delicious stories and pictures.

In the meantime, even though I don’t have much extra time for flipping through my cookbooks and scouring my favorite blogs to hunt down new recipes, I have some very lovely friends who will do the work for me. This one comes to us by way of my good friend and former roommate Ms. Laura. I was contemplating a strategy for this head of fennel sitting in the fridge when all of a sudden, my IM window popped up with a message from Laura telling me she just made this awesome recipe from Epicurious. Now, if that’s not divine intervention, I don’t know what is.

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Chilled Corn Soup

If you’re a Top Chef addict like me, then you probably already know from the title of this post that this is the dish that Jamie Lauren (of SF’s very own Absinthe) made during an episode last season that the judges raved about. Everyone loved it so much that she subsequently added it to the menu at Absinthe.

I have to admit that when I saw this episode, I was a bit skeptical that a simple soup, mostly of pureed corn, can taste so amazing that Padma declared it her favorite dish all season. So of course, I had to try it myself! And I didn’t even have to make the trip over to Absinthe when our weekly CSA gave us a sudden flood of sweet corn.

Thanks to Jessica over at Apples and Butter for scaling down the the original recipe to one that’s more reasonable for the home kitchen!

This soup is delicious and I totally get now why the judges and Padma kept talking about it. The cold creamy soup is perfect for a light lunch on a warm summer day (see how the soup is in a little plastic container above? It’s ready to take to work for lunch!). The little dots of chili oil supply a tiny and perfect bit of heat. Sadly, I didn’t have mint in the house, so I substituted for green onions instead. But I definitely plan to find and add the mint next time around.

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Baked Eggs

Recently, I’ve been having another bout of my so-called ‘brunchitis’, an unfortunate condition where I cringe at the thought of going to brunch. You see, brunch and I have what you might called one of those complicated love-hate relationships.

If you know me, you already know that I love brunch and have been known to declare this fact loudly and often. And let’s be honest here, if you don’t love the idea of a lazy morning lingering over cups of coffee (or Bloody Marys) and munching on deliciously eggy dishes with perhaps a ribbon or two of crispy-chewy bacon, I will most likely declare you to be a bit loco, especially if I’ve had a couple of those Bloody Marys. But like any relationship, my relationship with brunch every so often comes across an obstacle, one which makes my love falter and questions my devotion.

This obstacle is what is commonly known as the San Francisco Brunch Scene.

Like myself, it turns out that the city of San Francisco loves brunch. The overall result is, unsurprisingly, huge crowds gathering at brunch-serving locales all across the city, leading to over-an-hour waits and lines so long that I would feel bad doing any sort of lingering over anything. It only takes a few encounters with the SF Brunch Scene for me to develop this rather terrible condition of ‘brunchitis’ and I’m quarantined at home on weekend mornings.

Being a veteran of this condition though, I’ve developed a few trusty ‘home-opathic’ remedies, one of which is these baked eggs. I first had these in a little French cafe I lived near and have been absolutely addicted to them ever since. A while later, I saw Ina Garten prepare them on TV and committed the basic method to memory. Trust me, baking eggs is so easy that once you’ve done it, you won’t even need to look for a recipe next time – well, if you can even call what’s written below a recipe.

If ‘brunchitis’ should strike you too, baked eggs like these, enjoyed luxuriously slowly with a steaming cup of coffee, will cure you in no time and reaffirm your love of brunch. Before you know it, you’ll be back out there with the rest of the city, writing your name on that little clipboard at Zazie’s.

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Citrus Tart

Part 2 of the saga that is the Sourdough Starter is forthcoming, I promise. But having just gotten back from a weekend of camping beneath redwoods and barrel tasting at wineries in Russian River Valley — I know, what a tough life I lead — I will instead tell you about one of my favorite dessert recipes. Besides, you probably need a break from looking at pictures with jars of foamy liquids anyway, no?

The combination of oranges and lemons in this tart makes it sweeter and less intensely acidic than a pure lemon tart (which I also love) and also gives the tart a pretty orange-y glow. Just make sure not to overcook the tart – it should still be quite jiggly in the middle when you take it out of the oven, since it’ll continue setting as it cools. The first couple of times I made this, I kept thinking it’s not done and ended up with a tart with a cracked top and dense overcooked filling. It wasn’t awful and we certainly gobbled it all up still, but if you’re a little more careful, you’ll be rewarded with a soft, custard-like filling that is much, much better.

ps: Check it out! I joined a Foodie Blogroll!

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Coffee Rubbed Lamb Chops

On Valentine’s Day this year, I went to a yoga class taught by Les at Yoga Tree, one of my favorite yoga teachers in the city. Although I can’t really afford to go to Yoga Tree all the time, especially given the availability of cheap and decent yoga at my school’s gym, I still try to take classes at the studio about once a month. Les’ Vinyasa classes are always on top of my list because even though they’re pretty sweaty and hardcore, they’re also surprisingly calming and meditative. On top of that, he just seems like such a sweet guy! For example, during last Thursday’s class, he reminded us to “not let Hallmark tell you to love only one single day out of the entire year!” Aww…

While I agree that the whole idea of spending lots of money on flowers, cards, and gifts on a random day in February seems a bit silly, I do like the idea of celebrating the company of someone you love with a special dinner. (Of course, you can always count on it to me to justify the food part of any holiday!) Last year, Nathan and I decided that instead of spending a ridiculous amount of money on one of the hundreds of prix fixe dinners offered in SF, we would splurge on some fancy groceries and cook at home – deliciousness and quality together-time minus the crowds and stress!

Our plan was so successful last year that we did it again this year (I feel like I can’t really call it a tradition yet, because this is only the second time we’ve done it). Since I’ve been whining about doing yoga all week, Nathan sweetly took charge of the shopping. When I got home, I was greeted by pink flowers, a glass of rosé, fancy chocolate bars, and a dozen of freshly shucked oysters with Nathan’s famous mignonette! Yum!

Valentine 2008

In between slurping down those yummy oysters, we also made an awesomely delicious and awesomely stress-free dinner: Coffee-rubbed Lamb Chops, Green Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Creamed Spinach, paired with this gorgeous bottle of Ridge Syrah I’ve been saving for a special occasion. By the way, if you’re looking to cook a semi-fancy dinner without fussing over complicated recipes, you’re going to love me by the time you finish reading this post! But just remember what Les said… don’t just love me for today! Ha!

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Romanesco Frittata

A few weeks ago, I learned about the Mariquita Farm Mystery Thursdays from one of my favorite foodie blogs 101 cookbooks. Since our regular CSA boxes from Terra Firma Farm don’t usually come with extra-crazy vegetables and I’ve been wanting to explore some exotic ones, I convinced Nathan to try out a ‘mystery box’ from Mariquita. Lucky for us, the next delivery was scheduled for Incanto, one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants!

After handing over $25 on a drizzly night, we were handed a ginormous bag loaded with way over $25 worth of goodies, some of which definitely satisfied my exotic craving. We got a huge bag of baby carrots that look like they were just pulled out of the ground, a bunch of red(!) carrots, a few bunches of tatsoi, a couple heads of escarole, some tiny heads of little gem lettuce, a gnarly celery root, a few parsnip-like objects that turned out to be parsley roots, a few bunches of puntarelle (which came with the simple suggestion to dress them in a mustard-anchovy vinigarette – yum!), a winter squash, a romanesco, and a bag of red potatoes for good measure.

Our favorite item of the entire bag was this beautifully fractal yet slightly surreal romanesco:

Romanesco

After admiring it in our fridge for a few days, we finally decided to do something with it even though it really hurt to mess up such a lovely manifestation of a mathematical concept. But let’s say it’ll still be fractaly in our stomach, shall we? Part of the romanesco ended up in a simple pasta dish with red chile flakes, lemon, garlic, and plenty of olive oil. The other part ended up in a frittata. I used a sprig of green garlic that came in our regular CSA box but a small clove of normal garlic will be fine too. And of course, you can use any ‘sturdy’ vegetable you like in place of the romanesco – in the coming spring, asparagus would make a great frittata!

Will eating fractals make you better at math? I hope so!

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