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TDF Archives

Chicken Cobbler Pot Pie


There are things I love, but I’m too lazy to make them often. Chicken and dumplings – a relatively simple dish — just seems exhausting to me. Cooking all that chicken! Making that soup! (Fortunately, my mom makes it relatively often, and usually invites me to share.) Then there are dishes that could be fairly straightforward to make, but that just don’t appeal to me. In this corner is chicken pot pie. I always want to like it — what’s not to like? Chicken, vegetables, gravy … but I always imagine it sitting like a lead weight in my stomach. (I think it’s the combination of pie crust and gravy. There’s a reason fruit pies are classic). During our recent spate of cold(ish) weather, I was mooning about what comfort food I’d like to make, and it hit me. A cross between Chicken and Dumplings and Chicken Pot Pie — chicken, vegetables, gravy, all topped with a savory parmesan biscuit cobbler topping. And this is the real genius part — it’s made with rotisserie chicken, so it’s EASY. I had to pat myself on the back.
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S’Mores Krispie Treats: the Bake Sale Sweet Spot


Well, we’ve survived our first PTA bake sale. The Nuni is in kindergarten this year, and we decided to make the leap to public school, and in California with its constant budget crises, it’s a real leap of faith.* Our neighborhood school has struggled in the past — our zone is pretty socioeconomically challenged, but it’s turning around, due in no small part to the efforts of the parents, who raise money for playground equipment, art and science education, classroom supplies — all those things we took for granted when we went to school. I figured I’d pay my dues, maybe bake something once in a while, and toddle off to my full time job, letting the PTA moms work their magic.

Then my husband signed us up to be chairs of the hospitality committee, and lo and behold, we weren’t just baking for the fall bake sale, we were RUNNING the fall bake sale.

Now, I’ve been involved in a few food blogger bake sales, and they are wondrous. Hand pies, Momofuku Milk Bar creations, bacon wrapped grissini, butterscotch budino, homemade bread. PTA bake sales are different. The customers at PTA bake sales are kids. Healthy living and Michelle Obama aside, what kids want is sugar, and lots of it. They don’t care about how many hours it took to make something. Kids want to maximize their sugar per dollar value, so the bigger the better. They also like candy (presumably on the theory that candy contains the densest concentration of sugar), or anything resembling candy — our biggest sellers were chocolate dipped marshmallows that looked like ghosts. Cupcakes are also a hit – the more frosting, the better.
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Picadillo Tacos with California Ripe Olives #kitchenplay

Picadillo tacos with California Olives

People usually associate Southern California with fields and fields of orange groves, but the area where I live was once covered with hundreds of olive trees! I have a remnant of this in my backyard, where a huge, beautiful olive tree provides shade. While many California olives go into olive oil, California is also the birthplace of those ripe, mild black olives we all know and love. I have many fond memories of olives gracing our family events, whether it’s a layer in the classic seven layer dip on the Fourth of July or a feature of the Thanksgiving relish tray (My grandmother used to entertain me by popping the black olives on her fingers. Haven’t we all done that?) When California Olives and Kitchen Play asked me to develop a recipe for National Taco Day, I welcomed the opportunity.

California Olives
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Pumpkin Pie French Toast, or the Hope of Autumn

Pumpkin Pie French Toast>

I knew, when I moved back to California from New York, that I’d be losing fall. Fall in the Northeast was my favorite season — the crisp air, the brilliant colors, the smell of rain. I was always eager to don my sweaters and pull out the soup pot. We do get a semblance of that fall in Southern California — it just arrives in November or December and lasts until February.

September this year has been especially trying. I know intellectually that September is the hottest month of the year. But the seemingly endless string of days over 90 degrees are making me yearn for autumn relief more than usual. I am tired of grilled chicken and gazpacho. I want sweaters! Brussels sprouts! Bean soups! But really, the idea of eating bean soups when it’s 103 in the shade is … off-putting.

This french toast, then, is my brave attempt to bring a little autumn to my life. The Nuni loves french toast, and while pancakes seem daunting even for a weekend breakfast, I’m always up for a quick egg soak and a fast saute. The five cans of pumpkin puree in my cupboard (we can call it what it is — aspirational pumpkin) inspired me to spice up my usual quick and easy French toast with a little fall flair. I thought that pumpkin pie filling is really just pumpkin added to eggs, cream, sugar and spices — change the proportions slightly and you have the perfect soak for french toast. After all, I may not feel like turning on the oven, but I can handle 10 minutes on the stove.
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