pizza carbonara

PIzza Carbonara

One of the things my husband, Chris, and I like to cook together at home is pizza (recipe here and here). It’s quick and easy to make and allows us to customize and be creative with the toppings. When we have time, we like to make our own pizza dough, but when we’re on-the-go, like this weekend, pre-made dough from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods does the trick just fine.  Just roll the dough and add toppings and it’s ready to go in the oven.

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raw: italian yellowtail crudo with basil-orange vinaigrette

Italian Yellowtail Crudo

Over the last couple of posts, I’ve taken you to Hawaii for salmon poke and to Tahiti for poisson cru.  Today, I’m taking you halfway around the world to Italy for pesce crudo, which literally translates to “raw fish.” It is similar to the Japanese sashimi, but instead of wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger, Italians traditionally dress the fish with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon, and sea salt. As with the other raw fish dishes I’ve shared with you, the key to crudo is to use the freshest quality ingredients and let their flavors shine.

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persimmon galette

Persimmon Galette

Persimmons have always looked rather unappealing to me – bruised, overly ripe, and way too soft, as if they would burst and ooze at the slightest touch. Sometimes, their skins had black streaks which made them appear almost rotten. I could never understand why my Mom liked them so much. As a teenager, I vividly remember countless times when she would lovingly offer me some of its dark orange, almost gelatinous flesh cradled in her hands, and how I would rebuff her each time. Being the bratty teen that I was, I would crinkle my nose, make that “face” that signifies utter disgust and total disinterest, and walk away with my hands folded across my chest, without ever tasting it. She seemed almost disappointed that she couldn’t share her enjoyment of this “weird” fruit with me, yet, somehow, she also had a look of relief that I now assume meant, “Yippee, I get to eat all of this luscious fruit by myself.” She would always cut the persimmon in half and expertly take spoonfuls of fruit, leaving the peel almost completely intact, her hands sticky and dripping with orange-colored juice.

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spaghetti squash with sausage, tomatoes, and sage

I’ve always been curious about spaghetti squash and until this past weekend, I had never cooked with it. A variety of winter squash, it is oblong-shaped with a hard, pale yellow rind and stringy, orange-colored flesh that resembles translucent strands of pasta when cooked. Its texture is slightly crunchy, somewhat akin to al dente pasta. Its season starts in early fall and goes throughout winter. Spaghetti squash is low in calories and is a good source of fiber as well as nutrients like beta carotene, folic acid, Vitamin A, and potassium. It makes a low carb and tasty alternative to pasta or potatoes. Continue reading

blackberry galette with mascarpone and orange marmalade

I made my first galette a couple of weeks ago, and it has quickly become one of my favorite desserts.  I love its simplicity and rustic quality, along with its versatility. Short on time this past Labor Day, I opted to make this quick “semi-homemade” Blackberry Galette. Instead of pastry dough, I used a sheet of ready-to-bake puff pastry.  The light and flaky puff pastry encased a trio of ingredients – blackberries, mascarpone cheese, and orange marmalade. The tart blackberries made a nice contrast to the slightly sweet orange marmalade and rich mascarpone cheese. It was a simple dessert, yet very pretty and full of flavor. Served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this galette was a perfect end to a nice holiday dinner.

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hatch chiles and chorizo bake

Hatch chile season is here!  These green chiles were named after the Hatch Valley, in New Mexico, where they are exclusively grown.  The region, located along the Rio Grande River, provides the perfect growing conditions for cultivating these flavorful chiles: hot summer days and cool nights, ample water for irrigation, and mineral-rich soil. They are only harvested once a year, in late July to early August, and the season last for just six weeks. Continue reading

eggs poached in chunky tomato sauce

eggs poached in chunky tomato sauce

There are many variations of this wonderfully filling and comforting dish. In its simplest form, eggs are poached in a flavorful tomato sauce. In Southern Italy, it is called Uova al Purgatorio, or Eggs in Purgatory (due to the appearance of the eggs cooking in a hot, bubbling sauce resembling flames in hell purgatory), and it is often made with parmesan cheese and basil served over bread, pasta, or polenta. In the Middle East, it is known as Shakshuka, and it is made with a spicier tomato sauce, crumbled feta cheese, peppers, and cumin and served with warm pita bread. The Turkish dish, Menemen, is similar, as the eggs are cooked with tomatoes, onions, and peppers in a single pan, but the eggs are almost always scrambled, instead of poached.

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raspberry-basil italian cream soda

Italian soda is a refreshing drink, especially perfect on a warm, sunny day.  Despite it’s name, this drink was actually invented in San Francisco’s North Beach, not in Italy.  It gets its name from the flavored syrups that originated in Italy that are used to make it.  The drink is simply flavored syrup mixed with carbonated water served in a tall glass with ice.  Add a splash of cream and it becomes an Italian cream soda or cremosa.  Either way, an Italian soda is a nice alternative to store-bought soft drinks. Continue reading

egg raviolo

Egg Raviolo with Pesto and Brown Butter-Sage Sauce

This egg raviolo was inspired by the Uovo in Raviolo ‘San Domenico’, a dish I had at Davanti Enoteca in San Diego’s Little Italy last weekend.  The raviolo, which I learned from the friendly waitress is the singular form of ravioli, was filled with an egg yolk lying on a bed of ricotta and spinach.  As I broke into the raviolo for a bite, the runny egg yolk oozed all over the pasta and melded with the brown butter to form a luxurious sauce.  It was a simple dish, but the creamy and silky texture of the egg mixed with the ricotta, butter, and sage was exquisite. I knew I had to replicate this stunning dish at home. Continue reading

baked banana wontons


I bought a small jar of  Babbi hazelnut cream  on sale at a gourmet Italian grocery store a couple of weeks ago and I finally got a chance to use it. It is a spread, like Nutella, except that it does not contain any cocoa.  I used a small bit of it to make these banana wontons.  They’re super easy to make and no “recipe” is needed.  Let your creativity flow and make your own filling.  You may substitute Nutella, chocolate, peanut butter for the hazelnut cream or give the combination of cream cheese and strawberry preserves a try.  Better yet, how about pairing mascarpone and roasted figs with a drizzle of orange honey? Oh, the possibilities…..
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prosciutto, mascarpone, and spinach pizza with balsamic glaze


On a trip to San Francisco a couple of years back, we had dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Postrio, located in the Prescott Hotel in Union Square.  We sat at the bar and ordered two of Puck’s wood-fired pizzas – the Smoked Salmon with dill and crème frâiche and the Prosciutto & Figs with balsamic, mascarpone cheese, and  truffle oil. The Smoked Salmon quickly became his signature pizza when he opened the original Spago’s in 1982.  It was a huge hit with the Hollywood crowd who couldn’t get enough of the smoked salmon topped with caviar.  Although Postrio’s version omitted the pricey roe, it was still a great pizza.  However, what stole the show was the other pizza we ordered, the Prosciutto and Figs.  This is still one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.  I mean, who wouldn’t love this?!  Just imagine it – chewy pizza dough with a base of mascarpone cheese covered with a generous amount of prosciutto and arugula drizzled with a balsamic glaze and truffle oil. Right after inhaling that pizza, while still sitting there at the bar, I wrote all the ingredients so we could try replicate it as best we can when we got home. Continue reading

mexican mocha ice cream


In Mexican hot chocolate, unsweetened cocoa  is usually laced with vanilla, cinnamon, and almond flavors to make a fragrant chocolate drink.  In this recipe, the espresso and cocoa combine to make a mocha ice cream with a cinnamon twist.  Follow this recipe from A Pastry Affair  to make your own Mexican cocoa or use a mix like Azteca D’Oro, which is readily available in grocery stores (at least in California). Continue reading

chocolate ganache and raspberry tart


I was dragging all day last Sunday, waiting for Chris to get home from his camping trip.  My iMac’s hard drive crashed so I couldn’t blog or surf the ‘net.  My big activity of the morning was making breakfast.  I had the leftover filling of goat cheese, pepperoni, and chives from the stuffed zucchini blossoms so I made an omelette with it for breakfast.  While waiting for the football games to start, I needed something to do so I decided to practice my crust-making skills.  I really liked the pâte sablée crust I made a couple of weeks back, so I got to work on making it again.

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zucchini blossoms

I love it when things work out!

Last weekend, Chris went camping and I was home alone.  I was too lazy to go to the grocery store, so I decided that I would make do all weekend with whatever food was already in the house. So for dinner that Friday, I had bacon, eggs and rice.  I love breakfast for dinner.  I sat in front of the television all night, watching the two Sex and the City movies.  FUN!!!  Not so fun was what happened on Saturday morning.  I turned on my computer and after a couple of seconds, the flashing folder with a question mark appeared.  Hhhhmm!  I’m home alone and no internet.  Bummer!!!  I’m still too lazy to go to the store so I’m determined to eat whatever is in the fridge or pantry.  I moped around for a bit and then went outside to check on my garden.  Lo and behold…overnight, the little zucchini plants have produced a whole bunch of blossoms.

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egg salad sandwich

What makes a good egg salad sandwich?  Everyone has their own answer to this question.  For me, it  all starts with fresh, perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs.  I add a little crunch for texture, a little acidity to balance out the creaminess of the eggs, and a dollop or two of mayonnaise to bind it all together.  I add a sprinkling of fresh herbs and spices to brighten the flavor.  All the ingredients are mixed together and put between two pieces of lightly toasted and buttered white bread.  The butter prevents the bread from being soggy.  I often cut the crusts off the bread as well.

Some people add olives, capers, pickles, dill, chives, and/or whole grain mustard, etc.  Personally, I add some tarragon, curry powder, and dry mustard to make my perfect egg salad.   I love the taste of tarragon and it goes perfectly with eggs.  It’s really very simple and easy to make.

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