Construction Dinner

Orecchiette, Avocado Pasta Sauce
Orecchiette with Warm Avocado Cream

The dilemma was how to add more kitchen counter space for prepping, cooking, and cleaning while keeping the integrity of the 1951 style, leaving the character of the original design unchanged without knocking out any walls. My friend Kirk had a brilliant idea to convert the adjacent room, which had been used as a bar, into an extension of the kitchen.

My home is a unique style for Southern California, the charming Cape Cod is an East Coast design – a style adapted to the stormy New England weather. Common features include: a steep sloping roof, chimney with fireplace, dormers, multi-pane double hung windows, shutters, constructed of wood and covered in wide clapboard, having a symmetrical appearance with the door in center, center-hall floor plan, and hardwood floors.

This remodeled room may have originally been designed for use as a breakfast nook sixty years ago. Now, it is an extension of the cooking area, with a stainless steel sink and 9 extra feet of counter space!

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Summer’s Chilled Soup ☆ STAR ☆

chilled summer soup for entertaining

Chilled Marcona Almond & Poblano Chile Soup with Sherry
Crab Salad Pillar with Avocado
Diced Watermelon, Feta and Mint
Borage Blossom Garnish

The 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group hosted by Natasha the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! is an outstanding monthly event for sharing ideas and creating gourmet makeovers of selected classic dishes or flavor combinations. June’s summery theme is CHILLED SOUPS.

The chilled almond & chile soup has been a favorite here for over a decade – a STAR of a cold soup that’s hot, smoky, and nutty. If fact, I entered it in a contest at the Los Angeles County Fair years ago, and it won second place. I’ve updated the soup recipe, now using sweet Spanish Marcona almonds and dry Spanish sherry. The basic soup can be simply garnished with bay shrimp or a drizzle of Mexican crema and a few cilantro leaves. Or for entertaining, go all out and build the crab pillar, your guests will be delighted.

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Fiddlehead & Flower Month-of-May Salad

fiddlehead fern salad, edible flower salad
fiddlehead fern frond & edible flower
tatsoi & arugula salad
avocado, yukon gold potato, dijon dressing

April showers brought May flowers. And with the upcoming opening of our “ristorante alfresco virtuale” Ciao Fiore! I’ve got edible flowers on my mind. Marigold and Johnny Jump-Up, Nasturtium, Pansy, and Borage too. I spotted the fiddlehead fern fronds at Whole Foods Market, in season right now just shipped down from Portland, Oregon. Flowers and ferns seemed like a pretty pairing, and thus this delightful Month-of-May salad was born.

Edible Flowers in the Salad:

  • marigold – bright orange petals, some with red tips
  • johnny jump up – small purple petals
  • nasturtium – large orange flower
  • pansy – large dark violet-purple flower
  • borage – tiny blue petals

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Spring Bliss: Sugar Snap Pea, Avocado, Tomato, Mint

spring bliss soup, sugar snap pea soup, chilled pea and mint soup

Chilled Sugar Snap Pea & Mint Soup
Mashed Avocado with Lime, Tomato Concassé with Shallot
Fresh Mint, Chili Oil & Creme Fraiche Garnish

A vendor at the Farmers’ Market was handing out samples of fresh-from-the-vine sugar snap peas. Telling people just to eat them as is, no cooking necessary. They were sweet & exploding with flavor, crunchy, the color of spring. Few of us could pass up buying a basket or two. Once home, I turned to my favorite vegetable cookbook Charlie Trotter’s Vegetables for inspiration: Sugar Snap Pea Soup. A simple and refreshing chilled soup. With avocado for richness, tomato for sweet acidity, mint for brightness. Spring. Bliss.

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