Monday, January 31, 2011

Three square meals to erase the evil snacks

photo by Eric Tucker

When I was a kid I would frequently perform food experiments on myself.  For example, I didn't understand why you couldn't eat the WHOLE box of cookies.  Why not eat them all?  The sixteenth one tastes just as good as the first one.  Why all these silly limitations and discussions about moderation?  If we're going to tackle this box of cookies, we're going to do it RIGHT!  No quitters here, no sir.  So one night, I woke up in a silent sleeping house and I snuck down to the kitchen to get to the bottom of this ridiculous rule cookie rule.  About half way through a box of Chips Ahoy the answer became (barfily) clear to me.  Too much junk food will make you sick.  Later on I developed a spicy chili antidote to the sugar blues.  I found that eating a protein packed bowl of savory chili alleviated the soupy angry discontent of a sugar saturated stomach.  These days I try to avoid the total abandon to sugar gluttony that brings on the barfy feeling in the first place, but Ethan's nostalgic junk food buffet got the best of me.  So here are three square meals of solid protein to set me right!  We shot this ages ago.  Eric has a great sense of the absurd.  He comes up with bizarre concepts that I have to bring into fruition with my food styling wiles.  It's always a blast to work on his projects.  
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nostalgia in Junk Food

I guess I've finally reached that age where it's appropriate for my friends to throw parties featuring our own childhood as the ironic theme.  Fine by me, as long as I get to snarf the forbidden fruits of the 80's.  I'm talking about anything in a Hostess wrapper.  My mom is a second generation Italian (read: excellent cook) and first generation hippie.  The only fruit roll ups in our house were those hard core brown leather-like deals from the health food store.  A Tiger Milk bar was a big treat and sugar cereals were NOT ALLOWED.  So whenever I'm faced with a buffet table strewn with nerds, gummy worms, hostess cupcakes and cheese n cracker snak paks my heart skips a beat.  

Luckily my friend Ethan is the king of theme parities, and this year his birthday party had an indoor recess theme.  Last night we grownups got to re-live the glory (or in my case, shame and humiliation) of the foursquare courts and double dutch ropes.   At least there was the soothing balm of cupcake filling to calm any court induced BUUUUUUUURRRRNNNNSSS.  In YOUR FACE!  Let me tell you, 30-somethings get ugly on the foursquare court.
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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fancy jujube Financier

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

Again, I found these in the market in November but have been otherwise engaged so they are only showing up in these pages now.  However, I did just see them again in Wednesday's market so I guess they are still in season somewhere in this insanely fertile state of ours.  Seriously, California is almost season-less naturally.  Add some plastic sheeting and a grow lamp and you've got heirloom lettuces in January.  But I digress. I stumbled upon a little cake called the Financier at this delish little French joint in Hollywood called The Mercantile.  I grew up in Hollywood and I remember a time when there was nary a wine bar to be found in the whole of the region.  Just transvestite ladies of the night and used needles as far as the eye could see.  Those days are over.  Now you can have a new and amazing culinary experience on every corner of Hollywood Blvd. without bumping some working girl off her favorite pitch point.   I decided to take a crack at a jujube version of the financier myself and this was the result:

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

The Jujube Financier

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (one and a half sticks)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups dry toasted almonds
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 pound jujubes, pits removed, sliced into eights
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter six 4-inch mini cake pans or one 9-inch cake pan.  In a small sauce pan, melt butter.  Stir in vanilla, sugar and jujubes.  Cook over medium heat until fruit has softened and sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes.  In a food processor combine almonds and flour.  Pulse until almonds are coarsely ground.  In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Fold almond mixture and butter mixture into egg whites (they will deflate a bit.)  Pour batter into pans and bake for 20 minutes or until pick comes out clean.  Serve with whipped cream.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Death by Dough

photography by Renee Anjanette Kalmar
Ever feel this way when rolling out pizza dough?  I do.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Persimmon Perfection

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

So I'm a little behind on my farmer's market project, these bad boys were supposed to be on deck in November.  I've never known quite what to do with these beauties, but that is the whole point of my farmer's market project.  My days of fruit intimidation are OVER.  No fruit will ever look down it's nose at me again!  I figure I did enough cowering in high school.  It's not very attractive for a grown woman to allow herself to be pushed around by a plant ovary.  And that's what fruit is after all.  The lovely girl parts pictured above are Hachiya persimmons which have a very bitter taste if they are not eaten ripe.  Below is a recipe using Fuyu persimmons which can be eaten crisp, like an apple.

photo by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

Persimmon Appetizers

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
6 ounces blue cheese
12 slices bacon, baked or pan fried until very crisp
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Whisk honey and lemon juice together until well combined.  Stack the cheese and bacon on top of the persimmon slices and drizzle with honey lemon mixture.  mmmmmm.  again with the bacon!!  It's such a cheap trick, but the pig is so TASTY! 

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To carb or not to carb...

photo by eric tucker
I say carb.  Carb all the way.
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Death by Pie

photography by Renee Anjanette Kalmar

Renee and I asked ourselves what it would be like to die at the hands of the very thing you love the most?  In my case, I'm sure there would be a lot of yelling and screaming, all passionate and italian, maybe some one would cry out tearfully "you are killing me!  Do you understand that?! KILLING me!  Every time I see you with him/her I DIE inside!!!!"  and then pie (for that is what I love the very most, above all others) would come hurling at me, an end to heartache it's only goal.  It would be a crime of passion.  
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet the Meat.....ship that is.

photo by Teri Lyn Fisher
I think this speaks for itself, but I will add, I stopped eating bacon for three whole days after I made this.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why am I fat in Texas?

Because the food there is so damn TASTY, that's why.  I'm a California girl through  and through.  Born and raised under the uber-body-conscious glow of Hollywood street lamps, I can tell you exactly how many calories there are in a tall skinny vanilla latte and how many extra minutes it'll take you on the treadmill to negate the skinny jean ruining effects of said latte once it passes your lips.

Lucky for me I married a Texan and we get to visit the big BBQ state from time to time.  Out here all bets are off.  It's hard to count carbs when most of the meat you're eating has been marinating in Dr. Pepper for six hours.

I would very much like to share with you a culinary experience that rocked my world over the new year's weekend:

Jimmy Quigly's Texas Pepper Poppers

To me the jalapeno popper was always synonymous with greasy fried batter balls and heart burn.  These little beauties are something else entirely.  Each jalapeno is stuffed with savory cream cheese, wrapped in BACON (yes bacon, the gateway meat) and slowly grilled over medium coals for about an hour.  The bacon slowly crisps and caramelizes while the peppers soften.  The result is an appetizer of such unspeakable yumminess D (my Texan hubby) and I  actually fought over the last one.

Skinny jeans be damned!  I'm going Texas style when it comes to poppers from now on!!

Jimmy Quigly's Texas Pepper Poppers

10 Jalapenos, halved and seeded (wear gloves unless you want to experience fiery eye ball trauma, or worse yet fiery pee-pee trauma for the guys)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of a small white onion, minced
salt and pepper to taste
10 slices bacon


Combine cream cheese, garlic, onion and salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Stuff each pepper half with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture.  Wrap each pepper in bacon and secure with toothpicks.  Grill over medium heat for about an hour or as long as it takes you to drink two beers.  The bacon should be crispy and the peppers soft.  Let cool slightly before scarfing down.

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