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Sunday
Jan232011

THE WEDDING.

It really did live up to the hype of being 'the best day of my life'.

True love, whether it comes from a significant other, old friends, new friends or family, is an overwhelming feeling. We had SO many people who poured themselves into this event, there is no way I could have been anything but elated that entire day.

But let's start from the beginning. I have told you before that I am infatuated with Hugh, so my excitement towards actually getting married, put me ahead of the curve from the get go. I had dear friends, and coincidentally professionals, do my make-up and hair. My designer-sister made my dress, as well as the saucy bridesmaids dresses. I felt gorgeous (I think I'm allowed to say that, because it is a testament to my talented sister). She even sewed a patch inside that said "i love you sister". Yes, the heart swelling continues. I've never experienced as much giving and taking of love that I felt that day. I wish you were there, because words are tough.

We wanted a natural but put together look, and it turned out gorgeous. I had the creative juices of my mom and Whitney, to create the perfect ambiance. Hugh and his dad built the arch we stood under, my grandma and aunt sewed pillows, runners and couch covers. The list is long, but there were many hands involved in making it as gorgeous as it was. One of my favorite parts was the 'take a note, leave a note' wall I made instead of having a guest book. Hugh and I wrote notes to every guest, thanking them for coming and reminding them why they were important to us, and there were paper and pens to leave notes in return. It's going to be so neat to read those for years to come.

The dance party never stopped. Everyone had such a great time, that after we left, our friends... and some parents, jumped in the pool with their clothes on. First time in Ace Palm Springs history.


I must give shout out's to our team, because this is certainly not a project you pull off on your own:
- My sister, of Stone Cold Fox, for the dresses.
- James and Sergio for capturing every moment so well, and celebrating with us - we felt so lucky to have you both there.
- Whitney for being a flower and decorator mastermind.
- The man who made this party history, The Flashdance DJ.
- My supportive parents, who remain without a link, but have our utmost gratitude.

Friday
Jan142011

PEAR + BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES



I am gone for one blog post and Hugh goes and raises the bar. Videos and romantic coffee bean pictures... I can't top that, but these pancakes are just lovely.

This past week, we spent some time in Mammoth with some good friends. We don't get to the snow often, but I love the change of scenery. It felt refreshing to freeze for a couple days (but that's not to say that I didn't do my fair share of complaining while the sharp winds and snow hit my face, of course).

I've been snowboarding a good ten years or so, but I can't really say that I go flying down the slopes like a seasoned pro. It has nothing to do with skill, mind you, I totally get the technique, but cautiousness is a personality trait I can't seem to grow out of. I wish I had taken a big spill, just so I could see for myself that, yes, I'll actually survive. This antecdote parellels to other news going on in life - a risk of sorts - but I am saving that for next week :) For some reason, that news just doesn't pair well with pancakes. Speaking of, these are excellent. I have browsed, and am now closely studying Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain , as it is a stunning and inspiring cookbook. I only slightly altered these pancakes by adding some spices and swapping in buttermilk. The pear flavor here is pretty gentle, so make sure you use ripe and fragrant ones. I am an eggs-for-breakfast girl, but my cute barista has requested something on the sweeter side, and I'm not one to contest a whole grain pear pancake.

Enjoy your weekend!

PEAR + BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES // Makes 12
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

1 Cup Buckwheat Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 Cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp. Turbinado Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Spice Blend*
3/4 tsp. Sea Salt

2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Large Egg
2 Firm Pears (I used Bosc and Comice)

1/2 Cup Honey
2 oz. (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter

* I have a baking spice blend from Penzey's that has some anise in it that I thought was great here - you could use a bit of cardamom, nutmeg or cinnamon as an alternative. Boyce doesn't mention any spice at all - so up to you.

1. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure everything is evenly distributed.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk/milk, and butter until combined. If you don't have buttermilk, all milk will be just fine.
3. Peel the pears, and grate them in the large holes of a box grater. Add the pears and their juices to the buttermilk mixture.
4. Gently add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir 'til just combined. It should be fairly thick - Boyce recommends letting it sit for a little while, or overnight in the fridge. If you let it rest, you will need to thin it out with milk, 1 Tbsp. at a time. Adjust to your pancake thickness preference.
5. Melt the honey and 2oz. of butter together, and keep warm to pour over the pancakes later.
6. Heat a cast iron pan, or griddle over medium heat. Add batter in 1/4 cup mounds to the pan, once the tops start to bubble, check that the bottoms are golden brown and flip to the other side. Cook about 5 minutes total.
7. Wipe the pan between batches, and rub a little butter in between.
Serve the pancakes hot from the skillet, with a splash of honey butter on top.

Monday
Dec272010

COCONUT QUINOA + SPINACH SALAD



It was different this year. Different, in an oh-so-wonderful kind of way.

Christmas took its same course of stress and scrambling to make sure I got everyone something thoughtful and nice, sticky notes of who is cooking what, messages of what time we need to be where and remember to tell grandma an hour earlier because you know she'll be late. A joyful frenzy builds through December, to a day that is, well, joyful and frenzied? Hugh and I were able to spend time with everyone, chased around our adorable niece, bundled up for church outside, stayed up super late laughing and chatting with each other; I made undercooked french toast for my family, got a vacuum from Santa, and soaked it in. The holidays are some of the sweetest and funniest times with my family, and having a sparkly new husband to enjoy everything with, made it even better. We got home late Christmas night after talking all day, and I told Hugh the presents were nice, but my favorite part is just the time. We don't often have days with no where else to be than where you are, doing just what you're doing. You've got to savor days like that.

So here we are again, a bit overloaded on sweets and craving foods on the lighter side. This salad is so tasty and gorgeous with all the contrasts of color. Little bit of crunch from the pomegranates and pistachios, and just a subtle touch of coconut in the quinoa. I've been eating leftovers with an egg on top, and I think it'd work well with just about any protein.

May the rest of your holiday season be full of the giving and taking of time.

COCONUT QUINOA + SPINACH SALAD // Serves 6 as a side
I know some are still wary of using raw spinach, and I think arugula would be great as well, maybe just use a bit less as it's a bit stronger in flavor.

1 Cup Quinoa
1 Cup Light Coconut Milk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Broth or Water

2 Large Shallots
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil*

1 Cup Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
4 Cups-ish Organic Baby Spinach
1/2 Cup Toasted Pistachio Nuts

2 Tbsp. Orange Juice**
2 tsp. Fresh Thyme or 1 tsp. Dried Thyme
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (I used a lemon infused olive oil - SO good)
Salt/Pepper

1. In a small pot, combine the quinoa, coconut milk, water and a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Empty quinoa into a bowl and allow to cool.
2. Slice the shallots width wise into thin coins. Heat up the oil in a 8-10'' saute pan (you don't have many to crisp up). * If you don't have coconut oil on hand, canola oil will work as an alternative, it's just not that great for you. Once it's just shimmering, add in the slice shallots. Stand by them, as they'll burn quickly. They will dance around a bit, and once you see the edges turn golden flip them over or move them around. Set up a double layer of paper towels, remove the shallots just as they turn brown and drain on the paper towels.
3. In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, thyme, olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. **Any citrus would work - lemon, lime...whatever is on hand.
4. You want to make sure the quinoa is room temperature before you toss, or it will wilt the spinach, and we don't want that. Maybe you do, but I don't. In a salad bowl, toss the spinach, half of the cooked quinoa, half of the pom seeds and half of the pistachios with desired amount of dressing. Your choice as to what ratio you want, you can save the rest of the quinoa for later, or toss it in, again, the ratios are up to you. Garnish the top with the rest of the pom seeds, pistachios and all of your crispy shallots. Little grind of fresh pepper and enjoy.

Thursday
Dec162010

MEYER LEMON CURD.



I would say the average person thinks lemons/citrus are summer fruits. They are crisp and tangy, add a lot of flavor without a lot of heaviness, which is typically a warmer weather preference. Lemonade, lemon bars, seems fourth or july-ish no? But now, when meyer lemons are in season, they are what take over my fruit basket. I may have been a bit greedy and bought 12 at the market last visit. Apparently I don't use lemon as much as I thought I did, because I still have too many. There is this fine line of having too much of a good thing, and in this case, it has caused me to experiment a bit. Alas, a simple lemon curd to use up some of that sweet citrus.

Of course, this time of year, it would make a wonderful and different gift. It keeps in the fridge about one week. You can re-use mustard jars or buy small mason jars at your local craft store. I used David's recipe, because the man knows sweet things. He mentioned that it would be good folded into fresh whipped cream. I plan on putting it on toast myself, and giving a small jar as a hostess gift.

MEYER LEMON CURD // Makes 1ish Cups
Recipe from David Lebovitz
The sweet to tang ratio is perfect, I wouldn't change it. He notes that if you can't find meyer lemons, you can use normal lemons, and use a bit more sugar.

1/2 Cup Fresh Meyer Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Natural Cane Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
6 Tbsp. Organic Butter
pinch of Salt

1. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, eggs, and salt.
3. Add the butter cubes and set the pan over low heat, whisking constantly until the butter is melted.
4. Increase the heat a VERY LITTLE bit and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and just begins to become jelly-like. It’s done when you lift the whisk and the mixture holds its shape when it falls back into the saucepan from the whisk. For me, this took about ten minutes in a 12'' pan.
5. Immediately press the curd through the strainer. Once strained, store the lemon curd in the refrigerator.

Monday
Dec062010

HOLIDAY SANGRIA.



We came home from 90' sunshine and 95% humidity, to some of the colder southern California temperatures I have ever felt. It doesn't bother me, I crave seasons, and it gets me in the holiday mood. The music, decorations, friends getting together for ugly sweaters or wine and cheese - it's all just so cozy and festive. It's not the gifts and shopping that excite me in December, it's the good company.

I looked into some sangria recipes, as I wanted something different to bring to a get together this past weekend. The rules here are like that of vegetable soup, you can kind of get away with tossing in anything that's around. It doesn't seem like you can really mess it up. This combination felt 'holiday-ish' to me with all sorts of winter fruits, and the hint of warm spices. I don't like drinks super sweet, so after the fruit sits for a bit, the bit of honey and ginger ale add plenty of sweetness to this sangria. It travels well, and is a nice change from the typical bottle of wine. Put it in mason jars (without the ginger ale), tie a pretty ribbon, and you've got yourself a unique gift. 'Tis the season.


HOLIDAY SANGRIA // Makes one large pitcher
If you are serving this individually, use the ginger ale as a float. If you are leaving the pitcher out for people to help themselves, stir in about half the can of ginger ale.

1 bottle Zinfandel
1/3 Cup Cointreau
1/3 Cup Gran Marnier
1 Can Natural Ginger Ale

1/4 Cup Honey
1 Honeycrisp Apple
1 Large Orange
1 Fuyu Persimmon
1 Pear
2 inches of Peeled Ginger, in rough pieces
2 Sticks Cinnamon
Pinch of Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Dried Cloves

Fresh Mint for Garnish

1. Cut the fresh fruit into thin slices, width wise (so it looks pretty). Toss the fruit, ginger, cinnamon, cinnamon sticks and cloves into the pitcher.
2. Warm the honey just a tad, add to the fruit.
3. Pour the wine, cointreau, and gran marnier to the pitcher. Mix everything around. I left mine at room temperature for an hour to marinate, and then I put it in the fridge for another few hours to cool.
4. To serve, fill the pitcher with ice. Put a few mint leaves in each glass, fill it 3/4 way full with sangria, and top it with ginger ale.