Strawberry Pots de Crème

Strawberry Pots de Crème

I’ve definitely declared my undying love for strawberries many times before. So it’s probably no surprise that I try to eat and cook with them as much as possible. I’m constantly trying new recipes and thinking of ways to include more strawberries in my diet.

So when I wanted a new dessert recipe that wasn’t pie or ice cream (my go to’s), I turned to another favorite dessert of mine, pots de crème. Typically made in either chocolate or vanilla, pots de crème are baked custards, generally set a bit looser than say a crème brûlée or flan. They’re the perfect easy and impressive dessert.

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Easiest Hummus Ever

Easiest Hummus Ever

I love hummus! Hummus and pita chips are one of my favorite snacks! Yet, I’m often disappointed by the various brand of hummus I find in stores. Many of them have unnecessary chemicals and preservatives, and others have an off-putting texture or taste from sitting on the shelves for too long.

After many taste tests, I’ve finally giving up on trying to find a brand of hummus I like and have started to just make my own. And my recipe really couldn’t be easier! The resulting hummus, is silky, tasty, and a bit lemony!

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Grilled Romaine and Chicories

Grilled Romaine and Chicories

I know, I know. It’s after Labor Day. So no wearing white. And ‘grilling season’ is over. Or is it?

I really don’t think grilling should have a season. What’s stopping you from firing up that grill the other 9 months of the year? In fact, it’s great to huddle around a hot grill in the middle of winter, warming yourself with the smell of charring food and perhaps a glass of hot cider!

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Smokey Lime Vinaigrette

Smokey Lime Vinaigrette

You should always make your own salad dressings! It’s really so easy, that there’s not excuse not to, and I guarantee homemade dressings and vinaigrettes always taste better! This vinaigrette gets a smokey kick from the addition of smoked paprika – a spice made from ground smoke-dried peppers. I love using smoked paprika for an earthy, smokey contrast to the bright lime flavors of this dressing base. This vinaigrette is great on a salad of grilled romaine or chicories, or perfect used as a marinade for grilled veggies or shrimp skewers.

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Grilled Whole Fava Beans

Grilled Whole Fava Beans

This is less of a recipe and more of a technique. I love fava beans, but if you’ve ever prepared them before, you know how time consuming they can be. You typically have to remove the beans from the pods, blanch and shock the beans, then peel the tough outer skin to remove the inner bean.

But forget all that! You can just throw those whole pods on the grill and skip the blanching step. And if the beans are on the younger side, that ‘tougher’ outer skin isn’t actually all that tough. In fact, the whole beans are edible and delicious!

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Strawberry, Rhubarb, Lavender Pie

Strawberry, Rhubarb, Lavender Pie

I think strawberries might be my favorite fruit of all time. No, wait it’s mango. No, passionfruit! Do I have to choose just one favorite?! Regardless, every year I can’t wait until the first spring strawberries arrive! When they do, I proceed to eat them by the basket full. I’ll buy three pint baskets every week without fail during strawberry season from the lady at my farmer’s market (who now knows me by name and gives me a special deal since I buy so many berries from her!).

This pie is just another way of including more strawberries in my diet. You can’t go wrong with the classic combo of sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb. I added some lavender, which I have growing in our garden, for a light floral touch. If you can’t find fresh lavender or don’t have friends growing any, dried lavender is a fine substitute and can be found in most spice sections of the grocery store. And as usual, I used Martha Stewart’s pate brisee (pastry crust) because it hasn’t failed me yet. Just be sure to keep that dough cold until you bake it. That’s the key to a light and flaky crust!

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Broccoli, Kale, and Spinach Soup

Broccoli, Kale, and Spinach Soup

When we first started our little backyard garden, we had just two small raised beds. With only enough room to plant a few things at a time, we went to the garden store and got six-packs of seedlings of just three vegetables: broccoli, kale, and spinach. We underestimated the amount of produce we would reap from such a modest first planting and quickly found ourselves with an abundance of green vegetables! We found many creative ways of using our first harvest, including making this soup!

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Fresh Ginger Soda

Fresh Ginger Soda

I never really used to like ginger or ginger ale. Maybe it’s because the only time I ever had it growing up was when I was sick to my stomach accompanied by a plate of saltines . . . But I’ve since come to love the sharp bite of fresh ginger – not to mention the health benefits it has! It’s great for aiding digestion, even when you’re not sick.

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Kitchen Tip: Tasting Spoons

Kitchen Tip: Tasting Spoons

Every good cook has their secrets. Whether it be the way they knead a dough or a secret blend of spices, there are tricks that cooks of all levels have learned along the way. The one trick I’ve noticed in kitchen after kitchen is not really a trick at all – more just common sense, but something that is easily overlooked in the frenzy of preparing a meal: Tasting what you’re cooking!

I guarantee that every good cook from Michelin-starred chefs to your Italian Nonna tastes their food as they’re cooking, every step of the way. What other way is there to adjust seasonings, check for doneness, and learn about flavor than to taste what you’re making?

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Kuri Squash and Caramelized Fennel Soup

Kuri Squash and Caramelized Fennel Soup

I finally have time to post things again! I”m so glad I survived the holiday season, having worked nearly everyday through the holidays. Sorry if anyone was missing our posts, but I’ve resolved to post more often in 2013!

Nothing says winter like a warm bowl of soup! And it’s definitely winter here in San Francisco. Now I know our winters aren’t as harsh as some other parts of the world, but it’s important to note that many San Francisco homes, including our own, do not have central heat or insulation. So when it does get into the 40s outside, it’s also the same inside. Thank god for space heaters and electric blankets!

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