March 27, 2012

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden. -Ruth Stout

Springtime at the farmers market truly signals the change of the season. As soon as I see fava beans, asparagus and strawberries, I immediately have a new enthusiasm for cooking, as well as living. When the palette at the market brightens, flavors should too--more mint, more lemon, more crunch. For a birthday dinner this weekend, I wanted to celebrate all that is spring, paying attention to color and pretty plates. At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, these new ingredients seem to mirror the new beginnings that come along with a birthday. So there's my theme for the quarter: spring flavors bring with them the anticipation of fresh starts. If only I had baby chicks if my yard...then, I'd really feel amped up for spring!!
The Menu


cucumber lime spritzers

rhubarb sparklers


swiss chard pancakes with smoked trout, creme fraiche & dill

to start

curried mint pea soup with pea shoots & flowering chives

to share

garlicky lamb meatballs with harissa

farro salad with ricotta salata, toasted walnuts, parsley & dill

grilled asparagus with lemon zest

shaved spring vegetable salad of watermelon radishes, baby carrots, fennel & garden lettuces with a green goddess dressing


meyer lemon almond cake with rhubarb compote

March 18, 2012

A Feast for a Leprechaun

For one reason or another, I've had to learn the same lesson over and over again: I get very sad when I don't pause to properly celebrate a holiday. Growing up, my mom did something festive for every occasion, so when these holidays roll around, I crave that same ritual. I can shamefully admit that there was a Thanksgiving a few years back where I thought it would be fine to stay in LA with no plans and do a simple dinner with Greg. Instead, I (to say the least) pouted through the whole day, too depressed to enjoy the sweet little duck Greg had made for us. This weekend Greg was out of town so I was resolved to 'skip' St. Patrick's Day since I wouldn't have my Irish drinking buddy. But inside I felt pouty about it. So Saturday morning I decided to turn it around and invited my neighbors over for some corned beef and cabbage (attire: wear green, of course). I crammed some shamrocks into jars (Trader Joe's is a great save for last minute seasonal centerpieces), bought lottery tickets and spread gold-foiled chocolates & pennies onto the table. This meal is as simple as simple gets, but following The Canal House instructions for corned beef and cabbage (plus buying choice beef) seemed to make the tastiest version yet. I searched for mini Lucky Charms cereal boxes to use as vases to no avail, but bought a big box as a consolation. Unsure of what to do with it, I made treat bars (ala Rice Krispy treats) and they were a pretty big hit. (When in doubt, add butter, bacon or marshmallows.) We have a lot of springtime 'holidays' coming up--April Fool's Day, Easter, May Day, Mother's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Derby Day--and I aim to celebrate them all. Seems like a delicious goal.
The Menu


our favorite cocktails are already green!
jalapeno & lime margaritas
dirty martinis with green olives


cucumber & herbed cream cheese tea sandwiches

guinness & irish cheddar fondue
broccoli, roast brussel sprouts & green apples

family style

corned beef, cabbage & potatoes

roast carrots with thyme

parsley sauce, mustard sauce & horseradish creme fraiche

irish soda bread with irish butter


guinness floats with vanilla bean ice cream

lucky charm treat bars