Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fresh corn salad

Salad Stravaganza, another round-up request this time to share some salad recipes. So here is mine. If you want to share a favorite of yours slide on over to La Mia Cucina for the rules. The deadline is June 25 with the round-up coming July 1 just in time for those of you celebrating the Fourth of July.

Our fresh corn is just coming to local farmer's markets and all I can say, Yipee! Love the stuff. No recipe, our favorite is a quick boil and on to the table. I eat it without butter or anything else but on occasion a sprinkle or three of Tony Chachere's creole seasoning. Sacre Dieu!

Here is something I've tossed together this weekend; a fresh corn salad. Pretty easy and quite tasty. It is also one of those dishes you can fuddle around with to suit your tastes adding more or less of the hot stuff. There is something quite summerly about sweet corn and something spicy and now ya got it in one fork-full.

Spicy Fresh Corn Salad

Dressing, mix together:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons salsa, or 1 canned chipotle pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped grilled red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger (I used a microplane)
About tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Shuck and wash two ears of sweet corn
Brush on just a bit of olive oil and cook on a hot grill for 10 minutes, turning often; cool
Cut corn from cob into a medium bowl
Mix in dressing, chill one hour and serve. Don't serve too cold.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Run, it's lava

Once in a fine restaurant, I ordered Lava Cake. It took an additional twenty minutes but was well worth the wait. I've seen recipes before but always thought they had to be fussy, they always add twenty minutes at a restaurant. Boy, was I wrong. This is one of the easiest desserts around. Well, maybe not the easiest but has to rank right at the top of the list.

Chez Mégane has a wonderful recipe so I'm not going to reproduce it here, click over. What I will say is instead of mixing in the cinnamon, I sprinkled just a bit on the tops before baking.
When it says beat for 7 minutes on high, they aren't kidding. I just set the timer and my darling mixer beat the bejesus out of the batter. What I can't figure out is how does it make a cake with only two tablespoons of flour?

As you see, I was quite unimaginative and only topped the cakes with chocolate ice cream but I'd run out of time. There were no complaints. A tad more planning would have given a better presentation.

The photo does not do them justice. I should have showed them split open and the oozy chocolate; Megan's has a much better pix. We were all too eager to dive into the lava.

There is an unrelated P.S for this post but none the less important. Happy Birthday to our own Maltese Parakeet! We are postponing her special party until the Gypsy Caravan makes its way to Southern California in June. Which is appropriate since she was born two weeks early. Always in a hurry, that girl.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

a reminder...

to our many faithful readers of PBE...I, Doodles have headed out on the road for a year long RV trip with Mr Doodles. You may keep up with my happy trails messages here

But I also promise to do some food blogging here so as not to leave it all up to lil bird and sister moon.

If you have never cooked a meal in an RV you are in for a treat. I also hope to do a restaurant review along the way, so ...stay tuna'd!

Monday, May 21, 2007

a repeat ...for the heart healthy

I must preface this by saying I am on the road traveling and hope I have not missed the HOTM deadline....if so... sorry Ilva and Joanna.

This salad was made last year and sooooo many times before that and since.

This lunch salad was built as a group project, Doodles and Mooncrazy. I, sister moon, stood at the refrigerator and tossed things out to Doodles to chop and slice. Amazing what you can create. I, Doodles, love this salad because it is just easy and refreshing and so very versatile. Don't turn your nose up at this bottled dressing cause it is low in calorie but loaded with flavor. That Paul Newman is just a special kinda guy.
The chicken was Costco's (a US based big box store) cooked roaster and the apples, Grannie Smith. The farmer's market asparagus was blanched and it stayed nice and crisp even as a leftover. Chopped pecans, lots a cilantro, sliced green onion, and canned garbonzo beans rounded out this orzo salad. Topped with Newman's Own Sesame Ginger dressing it was a full meal.

Try this dressing for marinating chicken or pork … and while your at it check out Mr. Newman's web site for some recipe ideas.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

mother's day wrap up

mother's day brunch
can we eat it yet?

as you all know, the three pbe gals are related in the following fashion: mooncrazy and doodles are sisters and i, maltese parakeet, am mooncrazy's daughter. we started this blog because the family occasions are all about the food, and all we ever talk about is food, and it's only gotten worse since we started this blog. the men in our life have all learned not to touch the food until they ask, "has this been photographed for the blog yet?" i even caught my dad snapping pictures of the food as it was going on the table at thanksgiving!

so, when i invited my ma over for mother's day brunch, i knew it had to be the perfect menu and photo-worthy, as well. no pressure. i wanted to do a nice, french sort of meal with a carbon-friendly green/local theme and as organic as i could make it, too. ingredients from my crop share were on the menu as were items from the santa monica farmers' market (and i took the bus there, too). everything else was from trader joe's! (love you, tj!)

leek tart
leek tart. love my convection oven!

here's what was on the menu:

mimosas with organic oj and chandon champagne (neither local nor organic, but soooo good)
leek tart with herbes de provence and whole wheat pie crust
salad with tri-color roasted beets and goat cheese with honey-dijon-white balsamic vinaigrette
chicken sweet italian sausage
roasted purple, white and red potatoes with garlic and rosemary
sicilian blood orange cake with fresh whipped cream

sicilian blood orange cake
why, yes, the cake is crooked. but everything looks better on a cake plate with a dusting of powdered sugar. the silicon bundt cake pan sounded like a good idea when i bought it.

the cake is the same cake that i made for the is my blog burning stale bread challenge that we participated in a long time ago. i did it in a bundt pan this time, which i don't think i would do again. my bunky offered up halfway through his slice that he thought it tasted like froot loops. he got such a look from me for that one. although, i have to agree that, on second tasting, this cake is a little sweet and i might use less sugar in the batter next time, knowing that it's going to get soaked with the syrup.

all in all, i think everyone enjoyed the meal, especially the guest of honor. happy mother's day, again, mooncrazy!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Your heart's gonna love this one

Just in time for Heart of the Matter #3 I came up with a very easy, very quick pasta dish. Doodles and I had fallen in love and ordered this dish every time we visited our Mom in Ft Wayne, Indiana. So simple but quite tasty. This fits this month's criteria for a healthy pasta dish. You still have time the deadline is May 22.

Funny thing is, I really hadn't tried to make it but found myself with only a few ingredients and a hungry husband so here is what I came up with.

Pasta with mushrooms
  • Cook enough pasta for two people, reserve a bit of cooking water
  • Clean and slice very thin about 8 ounces of crimmini mushrooms ( I used the Cuisinart)
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • about 8 small fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • about 3 tablespoons very good olive oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet, quickly saute the garlic and thyme. Add the cooked spaghetti and stir until coated with the garlic oil and herb. Remove from heat and stir in the mushrooms and basil. If this looks too dry, add a bit of reserved cooking water. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste and serve with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

This was very flavorful and would make a great lunch or even a main dish with a nice green salad. Well, it satisfied the hungry husband.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Freya and Paul at Writing at the Kitchen Table have challenged us all to create a the perfect BBQ'd burger with their Big Burger Ballyhoo 2007. They've extended the deadline until May 25 th so there is time for you to jump in. Here is my attempt for the record books.

I'd heard rumors that ground brisket was the way to go for a more beefier tasting burger. Grinding at home makes sense, you can control the texture as well as how much fat. Don't forget, it's the fat that gives burgers some of their flavor so don't eliminate the fat.

So here's the method:
  • About two pounds of brisket and I got four patties. We like them big. A thin burger looses all it's juiciness.
  • I seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning and lots of fresh cracked pepper. (I have no problem tasting raw hamburger to adjust the seasoning) Add more salt if necessary. Don't over season or it masks the flavor of the meat.
  • Make sure your grill is hot. We like our meat rare or at least pink inside. Let rest a few minutes and top with cheese. I served these with caramelized onions and strips of Anaheim Chilies and a nice seeded bun.

Don't have a meat grinder? Butchers usually will accommodate but in a pinch the food processor will do OK. Grinding your own meat takes more time but the result is a substantial burger that tasted more like steak than a bland soft hamburger. Juicy!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Here we are, late again. Freya and Paul at Writing at the Kitchen Table were kind enough to include us in their Thinking Bloggers award with four other interesting food blogs. The three of us, sister Doodles, daughter Maltese Parakeet, who we fondly call lil bird, and myself have enjoyed the year plus of blogging and hope to add a new dimension with Doodles being on the road for a while and the "gypsy" of our gang of three.

This honor is not taken lightly so we will get on with the our nominations. The meme ask nothing other that to nominate five food blogs that make you think. Us three settled on one each and, with a flourish, here they are.

Doodles: Lucullian Delights-An Italian Experience If you only go to see Ilva's photos you'd be pleased enough but do stay for the recipes, she comes up with some great flavor idea. Check out the Minty Pea and Avocado salad.

Maltese Parakeet: Kate at Accidental hedonist writes about the politics of food and her food history posts are so much fun. Don't miss The etymology of Pumpernickel for a grand chuckle.

Mooncrazy: Megan at Chez Mégane does the ordinary extraordinary. Her pre-prep and prep photos are great for the new cook and Molten Chocolate Cinnamon Cakes are easier than I'd thought.

This list is not finite by any stretch of the imagination but we are pleased to be in the company of any of these three food bloggers.

If we named your blog, here is what you are supposed to do:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.
4. don't forget to notify they blogs you've nominated.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Easy summer supper

We have a cut that Southern California butchers call London Broil. This is a term usually associated with a method of preparation rather than a cut of beef but we never said Californios are logical.

The London Broil cut, in my stores, is taken from the Boneless Top Loin. It's usually about two to three inches thick. We like it seasoned and thrown on the grill, sliced across the grain and for the sake of the beef, don't over cook!

Summer has sneaked into our lives this week with temperatures hovering in the 80s so that means lots of outdoor cooking. And because I've been trying to be "Green*" at least once a week I BBQ'd two LB steaks at once. The first night it was a simple meal of steak and a salad, one of our favorite meals. While the grill was going, I caramelized onions in a small pan, blackened the skin off some red peppers and used both in my salad. I made more than I needed and boy, was I glad I did because the next day temp soared to 100 and I did not feel like cooking.

In the fridge:
  • leftover steak
  • caramelized onions
  • red pepper
  • some cooked spaghetti
  • basil

What a bonanza. I heated the pasta in olive oil with some garlic, added basil, onions, red pepper until hot and then tossed in the thinly sliced steak. I turned off the heat, covered and prepared some garlic bread. The beef was heated but still had the rareness we like and was great with the garlic bread. This took me minutes from fridge to table and didn't heat up the kitchen that night.

* I know, I blabber on about being Green and conservation but I truly believe we could all make a difference. Let us know any of your ideas for cutting down somewhere else in the kitchen.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

moroccan night on the westside

spicy moroccan carrots

because it's been HOT here in lovely west l.a., i thought i should make a desert-inspired dinner tonite. well, not really. i saw this review on laist yesterday about a great little moroccan joint on westwood called koutoubia and i remembered the spicy carrots that i had there once. kind of sweet and spicy and cumin-y. yum. i had some carrots in the fridge, so i got them started on their overnite spicy marinade. here's the recipe i used, called taim chef einat admony's spicy moroccan carrots:

2 pounds carrots, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for sautéing
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (i used a tablespoon of honey)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar (i used half white balsamic and half apple cider vinegar)

Place carrots in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil, cooking until slightly tender but not overdone, approximately 15 minutes depending on the size of the carrots. Drain and place carrots in an ice-water bath until cool, then slice diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. In a large pan, sauté the carrot slices in olive oil until slightly brown, cooking them in small batches if your pan becomes crowded. Place carrots in a bowl, add the olive oil and the remaining ingredients, and mix well. For best results, refrigerate overnight and serve at room temperature. Serves five.

to round out the theme, i roasted some salmon and threw together a couscous salad (chilled couscous, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, chopped kalamata olives, chiffonaded mint (from my garden, no less), salt, pepper, olive oil & lemon juice).

moroccan-inspired dinner

it was too hot for mint tea.

white beans........and nothing fancy!

this is so damn simple it's stupid....but so dang good. So cook yourself up a big pot of these and some corn bread, that is a must. And enjoy this dish. If I can find my camera I'll post the photo.

Now a bit of history......while living in South Florida over here of the pretty side of the side, and for those of you that don't know that's the Gulf side. While living here we started attending a event called the Swamp Buggy races in Naples, FL. Well you go and tailgate, stay in your motorhomes, cause it's a three day event. It is fun......great family fun for kids too. Anyway the first year we were not intending to eat at the motorhomes, and about 8 of us were deciding on a dinner spot, something simple and casual of course. I mentioned that I saw a place on the way in, just down the road and it was crowded for lunch so it must be good. Looked like a locals place and those are always better.

Well we went to Cracklin Jacks - and to say it was good was an understatement. All of their evening meals are served family style with a bunch a side dishes. One of them is the white beans. Now when you say white beans to me it sounds bland. I was offered some and had one bite I was convinced this is a darned good way to prepare white beans.

We had the good fortune of passing by Cracklin Jacks the other day and I asked them again how the beans were made and the waitress sent out the owner. She heard we were leaving the area so she came out to say thanks and to tell me, very generally I might add, how they cook the beans. I was quite surprised as will all our other friends be when we all get together this summer and I serve them the famous Crackin Jack's white beans.


1 lb white beans .... your choice
or one large can of cannelini beans
a ham hock , shredded finely to add to the beans
chicken broth 14 oz box, low sodium
1 medium onion - chopped in small chunks - I used vidalia sweet onions
Crystal Hot Sauce.........that got your attention huh lil bird

Here is the method

Cook the beans the way you normally would.......I didn't have time to cook fresh so I opened the can. If using the canned do not rinse. Saute the onions in a bit of oil, when finish sauteing add a couple of splashes of the Crystal hot sauce, add onions to the beans. Cook the ham hock in the chicken broth until the meat falls off the bone. I happened to have one already cooked, shredded the meat and added about a 1/4 cup to the bean mixture and a bit of the broth the ham was cooked in. Heat thoroughly, adjust seasonings, do not add salt because some ham can be quite salty. Careful with that hot sauce, the dish tastes just like hmmm what is that heat in this?

And if you do try this please say a thank you to Margaret at Cracklin Jacks, cause she did not have to tell me how to do this and I did tell her I was going to post it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Your opinion counts

I'm gonna send you over to another fellow food blogger, Ilva at Lucullian to read her post on the very interesting subject of an overwhelming feeling when faced with the amount of blogs to be read. You know how you feel like your the only one that feels a certain way. Well it turns out I am not alone in this department.

Now my questions to those that visit is very pointed and meant to be constructive in terms of the blogging community on a whole, why do you NOT comment on blogs. I guess I am such a blabber mouth and I expect everyone to voice their opinion good, bad or indifferent.

In my humble opinion bloggers thrive on comments. It's an interesting world this blogging community and most of us feel that comments just makes it that much better. I hope the majority of you do not think it is clique-ish in anyway. Because it is not. Some of us know each other because we are related, maybe we live in the same town or maybe we have like interests or maybe even started emailing each other after a certain post and voila!!! a friendship blossomed.

Many of us have counters on our sites so that we know how many visitors we have and then to see that you have a ton of visitors and only one comment. I know it takes time and we all have busy lives and this blog is certainly not meant to put any guilt on our readers. I guess it is just more of a curiosity than anything else.
Care to comment?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

weekend dog and garden blogging

inspired by my experience with the crop share and the urban homestead folks in pasadena, i decided to try my hand at some container gardening up on my rooftop/patio/balcony area. my patio was recently re-roofed, thanks to some skillful handyman and general contractor services , courtesy of my pa, which means i actually want to go up there again. so, in late february, i got me a copy of the bountiful container and started reading and planning. a few weeks later, i started planting. i thought i would start from seeds for a lot of things (except tomatoes) and after a few weeks of watering dirt and watching nothing come up, i gave that up and bought some seedlings for most of the rest of the plants. i've since learned to sprout seedlings on my kitchen window sill, which has been helpful.

at present, my little container garden is growing well. the edible portions include: tomatoes (salad size red and lemon boy); cucumbers; thai bird chilis; jalapeno peppers; nasturtium; lettuce; green garlic; green onions; chives; oregano; mint; thyme; basil; tarragon; sage; and rosemary.

here're some pictures of my growing little garden on a sunny saturday morning:

container garden - tomatoes, cucumbers/nasturtium and peppers (l to r)

baby tomato


thyme, mint & oregano


and, because it's the weekend, here's a snap of my houndlettes soaking up the sun. i call it "still life with dogs and herbs" for sweetnicks' weekend dog blogging:

still life dogs with herbs
max & multy

Update: It turns out this is the last weekend dog blogging ever, so make sure to go check it out. thanks cate, for so many of weekends of dogs!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Cooking with tea

Ever get a hankerin' (later, I'll swear I didn't use that word) for smoky BBQ ribs but you just can't get outside? America's Test Kitchen elves really dreamed up an odd combination to recreate that smoky slow cooked flavor of BBQ ribs done on the grill. I grill outside all the time but I was interested in their tricky way of adding the smoke flavor; Lapsang Souchong tea. Would this work?

Doodles and I adore Peet's Tea blend, Russian Caravan but for this recipe you'll need the full strength "kick-ass" tea not cut with anything else. Twinnings in the individual bag is best because it's finely ground, if not, whir it in the coffee grinder.

The quick basics to this was:
  • Rub and refrigerate ribs for 24 hours then freeze 45 minutes. I used my rub but ATK has one in the recipe.
  • Heat pizza stone in 500 degree oven until really hot. They say 45 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the smoky tea on sheet pan, then place ribs on rack above and cover all with heavy foil.
  • Place sheet pan on stone and cook ribs for 30 minutes.
  • Lower temp to 250 and pour 1/2 cup of apple juice in bottom of pan.
  • Continue to roast for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat comes off the bone.
  • The ribs will be pale so I sauced them and put them under the broiler.

Now I love the show but the two Test Kitchen folks were just so amazed at how smoky the ribs were. They're always amazed, thrilled, or just plain starved but it's their show and their cooking. I didn't find the ribs to have the same wonderful all-day smoked flavor they raved about though I followed their method exactly. What I did have were some tasty fall-off-the-bone, little bit smoky, ribs that were quite easy and could be done ahead and sauced and broiled later. What I love is they are willing to try some odd combos and this makes me more adventurous in the kitchen.

Recipe on ATK

Editor's note: That BBQ sauce is from Trader Joe's and has no HFCS.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Feeding a crowd, or just hungry

Everyone has one of those dishes you make for large parties. Something so tasty that guests talk about long after the party is over. I use Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken Tetrazzini. This is easy to prepare the day before and pop in the oven an hour before the serving.

My only deviation from her wonderful recipe is to reserve the breadcrumb Parmesan cheese topping until right before I put it in the oven. That's something for me to say since I modify every recipe I find, this one is darn near perfect. The recipe states it serves 6-8 but I've found at a buffet or a potluck, when you are serving other dishes, it will feed more like 8-10.

This is also one of the "bullet-proof" casseroles that can be reheated without any problem so next day lunch is most tasty. After a big party the last thing you want to do is cook but reheat, yum.

This is one of my go-tos, what about sharing some of your party pleasers.

Editors note: Pardon this crummy photo. I had ten in the buffet line and forgot to take the beauty shot before I called them to dinner. Never try to come between hungry guest and the food. Sheesh.