Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cheese & Charcuterie Perfection

I am very excited to share that I recently contributed to Martha Stewart Weddings as their culinary expert on creating crowd-pleasing cheese and charcuterie displays. 

Check out my 6 Steps for Curating a Delicious Display HERE.

 I also wanted to shared some images from our recent nuptials when I worked with the team at Big Sur Bakery and lovely Lolo of Burst of Bloom to create an 8 foot long display for our wedding guests to nosh on during cocktail hour. 

Instead of normal appetizer plates I bought glazed terra-cotta plant saucers (you know, the ones used for garden pots) to use as plates and some giant raw wood boards from West Elm as a base for displaying the cheese and charcuterie. I displayed an entire frame of fresh honeycomb next to the cheese so that guests could scrap wild sage honey directly onto their plates; we had some local bees stop by and help themselves to the comb just as the wedding was getting started.  My dad contributed to the charcuterie display with some of his homemade lonzino (also known as lomo in Spain). 

The overall vibe was Spanish bodega meets California coastal: we used all stemless bodega-style wine glasses for our guests and farmwood tables and wine barrels throughout the property to bring it all together. 

Photos by the uber talented Evynn LeValley.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

H&H Collective

Some of you may have heard that I've been developing a line of linen cocktail napkins. My partner in this exciting new endeavor is the one and only Lydia Howerton (of Apples and Onions LA) and after working together in the kitchen over the past couple of years we decided it was finally time for another type of collaboration. Soon after, H&H Collective was born. For more on the how the story of how we got started, click HERE.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Potato Kale Gratin

Summer is filled with color and bright beautiful salads which we gladly eat on a daily basis in celebration of all the stunning produce that is available during these warm, sunshine-filled months. 

So when it finally drizzled for the first time in Los Angeles in over 6 months, it was the perfect chance to make something a little bit more cozy to serve with dinner. What keeps this gratin recipe still feeling like summer is the sautéed kale that is stuffed in between every layer.

First the question of what type of kale to use? My favorite for sautéing and braising is Lacinato Kale (also known as Dinosaur Kale, Cavolo Nero, Palm Tree Kale, or Tuscan Kale). It is my favorite as far as overall taste and texture - it is slightly sweeter and a bit more delicate than curly kale. 

Now, how to pick the potatoes? You can use any potatoes but I tend to favor Yukon Golds (and I leave the skins on) when I make gratins.  Yukon Golds have a medium-starch level and they keep their shape while also absorbing liquid simultaneously and texturally, they have a natural "creaminess" that I really love. But you can, of course, use Russets, or any other potatoes you have on hand. 

Now, for the decision on what cheese to use!  This is where spending a little extra moolah can really enhance the overall outcome of your gratin. Buy a really good cave-aged gruyere cheese and also some Parmigiano-Reggiano. If those aren't an option, get a really sharp, aged white cheddar or manchego cheese. 

Potato Kale Gratin
makes 3 individual portions 

1 large bunch Nacinato Kale
3 large Yukon Gold Potatoes (or 6 small)
1 pint Heavy Whipping Cream (you won't need all of it)
9 oz Gruyere 
3 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp Aleppo Pepper (or 1/2 tsp red chili flakes)
1 Lemon, zested and juiced 
1 Shallot, sliced very thin
1 Tbsp Olive Oil 
Kosher Salt, to taste 
Cracked Pepper, to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees,
2. Wash the kale and chiffonade. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan. Add the lemon zest, aleppo pepper, and shallot. Sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then add kale and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes until softened, but still holding texture. Remove from heat. 
3. Wash potatoes and leave skin on. Using a madoline, slice very thin. Shred cheeses and set those aside.
4. Start layering everything in your oven-safe baking dishes. First a layer of potatoes. Then sprinkle of salt and pepper, then cheese, then sautéed kale, and then repeat until you get to the top of the dish with the final layer being cheese. Then take the heavy cream and pour slowly over the top just until you start to see it come up the sides - not all the way to the top. 
5. Bake until golden brown and bubbly - about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the baking dishes.  Let rest for 5 minutes after pulling from the oven. Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sea Salt Caramel

This stuff is liquid gold. 

Drizzle it on brownies or grilled summer peaches or your favorite vanilla bean ice cream. 

Sea Salt Caramel 

1 cup sugar 
6 Tbsp salted butter 
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp good sea salt 

1. Heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously.
2. Sugar will eventually melt into a thick dark amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir it. 
3. Once it is totally melted and caramelized to your liking (be careful not to burn it) you can immediately add the butter. It will bubble rapidly but just keep stirring for approx 2-3 minutes. 
4.  Slowly add the heavy cream. It will also bubble rapidly. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minutes and then remove from heat. Stir in sea salt until melted. Allow to cool. 
5. The caramel will store for 3 weeks in your fridge in a jar. Heat up in microwave or on stove top before using. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Things I'm loving this week >>> 

Brass Tipped Spice Spoon Set via LEIF ($38, set of four)

Two words: SPICE ACE

One of my dearest friends recently introduced me to this shop and now things have gotten a little spice-crazy in my kitchen. Obsessed to the max. From Aleppo Chile to Egyptian Frost Salt, they've got you covered.

The "Silver Cup" smoothie at Juice Crafters (locations in Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Sherman Oaks, Downtown LA and Newport Beach) is so beyond delicious >>> 100% raw and packed with kale, walnuts, dates, banana, almond milk, and coconut water. Happiness in a 20 oz cup. 

Issue No. 3 of CHERRY BOMBE mag is on stands and available online here. The cover features the one and only Ruth Reichl. Need I say more?

I just snagged a new print from the uber talented Carly Martin >>> check out her stunning illustrations from $35 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Green Coriander Seeds

During the hot summer months, cilantro doesn't stay leafy and lush, it bolts to seed which means that it's life cycle is extremely fast and the plant goes from leafy to seedy real quick. The exciting part about this? You can harvest those seeds, also known as, coriander. 

At the grocery store you will find coriander either whole or in powder form created from the dried seeds. What you will have a hard time finding (except for at a few select farmers markets) is green coriander seeds - fresh off the cilantro plant. 

Here's how to do it:

1. Let your cilantro plant flower (they will be cute little white buds).
2. Once the flowers fall off, little seeds will appear. Leave them until they are large and light green (the larger they are, the more sweet and fragrant they will be)
3. Pick the seeds. Store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. 
Note: If you can't use them all fresh, go ahead and leave them out to dry until they are dark brown and then store in a cool place with your other dried spices. 

They taste like a cross between dried coriander and fresh cilantro with a slight citrusy note- really delicious if you are a cilantro fan! You can sprinkle them in salads, add them to a pickle brine,  use for aromatics in a marinade, or to garnish just about anything else.  

Happy harvesting!! 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Margaritas for the Fourth

Let it be said, we are a tequila household.  

We love margaritas. Like really love them.

I'm going to share some of our favorite flavor combinations to help inspire you beyond that neon green "margarita mix" garbage they sell at the grocery store so you can ring in the 4th loud and proud with a tasty drink in hand!

First, for the margarita beginner, some basics: at it's core, a marg consists of tequila (always use one made from 100%  blue agave), triple sec (we usually use Grand Marnier instead), and lime juice served with a salted rim either shaken and on the rocks or blended with ice (aka a frozen margarita).

The earliest known record of the margarita dates back to 1938 at a little restaurant nestled halfway between Tijuana and Rosarito, Mexico. It gained popularity after Esquire named it the "drink of the month" in 1953 stateside. Some say that it was a rebirth of a popular prohibition cocktail known as a "Daisy" that was originally made with brandy and then reinvented with tequila.

Basic Recipe
3 oz Good Tequila
2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup or Agave Syrup (skip if you like them more sour)
1/2 oz orange liquor
Good Salt, for the rim of your glass

Use a lime wedge to moisten the rim of your glass. Dip into salt. Add ice into glass. Shake all ingredients with ice until chilled in a martini shaker and then pour over ice. Enjoy!

Here are some of our favorite margarita combinations beyond the basic >>

Blood Orange Margaritas 
use 3 oz fresh blood OJ, 1 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz orange liquor, and no simple syrup

Passion Fruit Margaritas 
use the nectar of 1 fresh passion fruit, 1 oz lime juice, 1/2 oz orange liquor, and 1 oz simple syrup

Pineapple Jalapeno Margaritas with Fresh Cilantro
use 3 oz fresh pineapple juice, muddled fresh jalapeno, sprig of fresh cilantro, and no simple syrup

Wishing you all a safe and patriotic Independence Day!! Happy Fourth of July!! xx