tomatillo salsa

Thanks to Isabel Caudillo and the Simple Salsa class at La Cocina, I now know the basics of making a variety of fresh and cooked salsas. I was super excited when we received tomatillos in our CSA this week and decide to make a salsa verde. Tomatillos are small green fruit that grow in a non-edible papery skin. They have a tart flavor and the texture of an unripe tomato. They make absolutely awesome salsa! I imagine they would also be wonderful breaded and fried … I might have to try that next week.

Tomatillo Salsa 
1 lb tomatillos, dehusked
1/2 onion, cut into large chunks
1 serrano chili, seeds removed if you want a mild-medium salsa
3 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 lime, juiced
salt, to taste

For this salsa I used a mixture of cooked and raw tomatillos because I wanted two distinct flavors in my salsa—the tartness from the raw and the sweetness from the cooked tomatillos. I chose to make a salsa hervida—a boiled salsa— because it is easy and quick, but you could also dry roast the tomatillos, saute them in a little vegetable oil or grill them.

In a small saucepan combine half of the tomatillos, onion, chili and garlic. Add water to just cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out the water and put in a food processor. Add the raw tomatillos, lime juice, cilantro and a large pinch of salt. Process until almost smooth. Taste for seasoning. It is that easy! Enjoy with chips or with carnitas tacos like we did!



lemon blackberry muffins

I was very much in a muffin mood this Saturday morning—sometimes it just feels good to make muffins! (I think this might make me weird/a grandma, but I’m going to roll with it). It does help that both Jordan and Robin very much enjoy when I am in a muffin mood and generously offer to help me eat the muffins produced.

These muffins are adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Deb is just so good at making recipes that I absolutely must try. I definitely have a cook-crush on her, no question about it.

Blackberry-Topped Lemon Muffins, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/8 cup sugar, divided
2 lemons, zested
2 cups flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 t vanilla extract
1 container blackberries (in my case) or raspberries (per Deb’s recommendation)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners or grease and flour them. In a small bowl, mash 1/8 cup of sugar with the lemon zest. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar. Add the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and lemon sugar. Mix in the flour just to combine.

Spoon the lemon muffin batter into the cups. Top each muffin with several berries, pressing the berries into the batter slightly. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are just golden.

When we first tried these muffins, Jordan thought that the berries weren’t really necessary.  They sure looked pretty, but didn’t add much in the way of flavor. I kind of had to agree. The lemon muffin was great without them. But the second morning that I enjoyed the muffins, I changed my mind. The berries add a great tartness to the muffins and have a nice texture to boot. If I make these again, I will most certainly keep the berries.



it’s mid august …

… and we are happily eating heirloom tomatoes from our CSA. I’m convinced that  tomatoes fresh from the garden are a little slice of heaven on earth.  Add a little salt, pepper and olive oil to them, oh baby!

I promise there will be real recipes on the blog soon. Things have gotten a little crazy ’round these parts, but hopefully I get back to the recipe-writing shortly.



potato hash with onion, tomato and egg

It feels good to pull of a satisfying dinner without putting in much thought or effort or really even grocery shopping. I threw this dish together on Tuesday night with the remaining contents of our CSA, plus some leftover produce from Monday night’s dinner. It was pretty awesome. And, when you feel like your haphazard dinner isn’t substantial enough, just throw an egg on it.

Potato Hash with Onions, Cherry Tomatoes and a Fried Egg
3 – 4 potatoes, cut into small cubes (we used a combo of yukon gold and purple potatoes)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, pepper, paprika or piment d’espelette
1/4 onion, sliced (we used 3 small bunching onions)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 T parsley, chopped  (you could use any herb you have lying around – chives, basil, dill, cilantro)
2 eggs
butter, salt, pepper

Heat an oven to 375 degrees. Cut the potatoes into small cubes and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Spread into one layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

When the potatoes have about 10 more minutes to cook, begin to saute the onions in a little olive oil over low heat. Saute until just translucent, about 7 – 8 minutes. Push the onions to the side of the pan and add a little butter. Once the foaming has subsided, add the eggs. Cook your eggs until the whites have set up and sprinkle them with some salt and pepper. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Place a layer of potatoes on the plate. Top with the onions and then the egg. Sprinkle with cherry tomatoes and herbs.

This dish is homey and satisfying. You hit almost all of the flavor bases … crunchy (potatoes), salty (potatoes again), creamy (egg yolk – yum!), tart (tomatoes). It is also filling, inexpensive and pretty low maintenance to cook.  Plus,  you could make a ton of variations on this same idea depending on what is lurking in your fridge or in your fruit bowl. Asparagus? Summer squash?  I don’t mind if I do!


Ps. Why oh why have I wanted sing some sort of bizarre variation on Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” the entire time I’ve been writing this post … If you like it then you better put an egg on it!?! Oh boy, I need help.

San Francisco

la cocina: street food festival preview dinner

I’ve mentioned La Cocina previously in a few posts, but I’ll give a quick run down just in case you’re new here. La Cocina is an incredible San Francisco non-profit incubator kitchen that provides affordable commercial kitchen space and industry-specific technical assistance to low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs who are launching, growing and formalizing their food businesses.


I was honored to be invited to the media preview dinner for their upcoming Street Food Festival. The Street Food Festival is one-day event that showcases La Cocina’s businesses and other local artisans. It is designed to bring together San Francisco food businesses and San Francisco eaters and also publicize the work that La Cocina does in the community. Last year over 35,000 people attended the event, and this year we are hoping for 50,000 visitors.

The media dinner took place about a week ago at Fort Mason Center and was a tremendous success! It was packed with local press, food bloggers and other luminaries in the community, and La Cocina’s businesses did an incredible job cooking a sit-down dinner for almost 200 guests! I was floored by the quality of the food and the energy at the event. Just wonderful!

I am beyond stoked for this year’s Street Food Festival! It will take place on Saturday, August 20th from 11 am – 7 pm in the Mission District on Folsom St. from 22th to 26th Streets. If you’re in the area, please stop by this amazing event and sample some incredible, artisanal food!  You can taste the love in each and every bite, I promise.



summer vegetable gratin

Like I mentioned earlier this week, we’ve just begun to receive summer’s bounty in our CSA. A while back we noticed this recipe for a summer vegetable gratin in Ad Hoc at Home and flagged it for later on. Now that the appropriate veggies are in season, we were able to enjoy it!

Summer Vegetable Gratin, from Ad Hoc at Home
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 small eggplant, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 T plus 1/2 t fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

Heat an over to 350 degrees. Saute the onion and garlic over medium low heat in some olive oil for about 20 minutes, until translucent. Add the 1/2 T thyme. Slice the other veggies into 1/4 inch thick slices. Toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour the sautéed onions into a baking dish.

Top with the zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes, overlapping each slice slightly. I kept mine in cute little rows, but you’re welcome to mix them and spread them in an even layer. Mix the cheese, breadcrumbs and remaining 1/2 t thyme together. Sprinkle that mixture on top of the veggies and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, until the veggies are tender and the top is browned.

This gratin is tasty, and blessedly lighter than most other gratins. I really enjoyed the zucchini and tomatoes. Sadly, I am still not a huge eggplant fan, even when it is covered in breadcrumbs and cheese. Jordan was valiant and ate all of my eggplant so I didn’t have to feel guilty about wasting food. Isn’t he a stud!



just a few photos

Last Saturday, two dear friends from college got married. My friend Katie (pastry chef extraordinaire) made their cake, and I helped her decorate it. We had a great time and it was so nice (albeit a bit nerve-wracking) to contribute something to their special day.

Since I had absolutely nothing to do with the baking of the cake, I don’t have a recipe here for you, but I do have some fine pictures of the beautiful concoction.  So here it is in all its glory … a vanilla chiffon cake with lemon curd between the layers slathered in marshmallowy vanilla frosting.

That’s Katie behind the camera lens in the background. She’s pretty darn cute!

I made the cake topper. I think my Mama would be proud of my floral arranging skills.


We’re hoping a potential wedding cake business is in our future, especially now that Miss Norton lives in California!



summer veggies two ways

According to our CSA it is officially summer! Last week we received the first tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant of the season. Because the produce we receive from our farm is such great quality, it’s incredibly easy to make the veggies taste great. Tonight we prepared two veggies two ways with wonderful results.

Turnips with Chives, Sea Salt and Butter
1 bunch turnips, sliced
1 T chives, chopped
1 t sea salt
2 T butter (Don’t skimp on the butter. Turnips love butter)

I know turnips aren’t traditionally a summer vegetable, but we’ve been getting a ton of them in our CSA box lately. They are delicious—kinda like a parsnip or a cross between a radish and a potato— and I’ve never eaten so many in my life!

Put a pot of salted water to boil. Quarter or eigth the turnips depending on their size. Toss them in the boiling water for 8 – 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain into a bowl. Toss with butter and sea salt. Top with chives to serve.

Grilled Zucchini with Lemon and Chili
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 T olive oil
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt, chili flake

Heat a grill pan or grill over high heat. Slice the zucchini on the diagonal. Toss the zucchini in the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, chili flake and salt. Grill the zucchini for a few minutes per side and serve.

And don’t feel bad about the two tablespoons of butter in the turnip recipe—you are eating a cup of turnips after all!

If you are interested in finding a CSA in your area, search on Local Harvest.