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TDF Archives

Savory Baked French Toast Croque Monsieur (with Ham and Cheese)

French Toast 1-4 I don’t really understand the marketing of Mother’s Day. I see all these floral pastel cards and delicate lacy handkerchiefs and early morning breakfast in bed and advertisements for “brunch” and “afternoon tea” with fussy hats implied. Let me set the record straight. I am a mom, and I know a lot of moms. An informal survey of what our ideal Mother’s Day would look like involves 1) sleeping in; 2) a pedicure with some celebrity gossip magazines; 3) sushi; 4) chocolate and 5) lots of wine. Maybe this holiday doesn’t sell so well on a greeting card, but it sounds pretty awesome to me. Too awesome to be an also-ran Mother’s Day. Maybe I will name it something else, like “Saturday”. And it will fall once a week. If your Mother’s Day veers towards the more traditional, or you’re trying to fill the time between pedicures, sushi and wine, try cooking brunch at home, and avoid the overpriced and overcrowded restaurant brunch options. (For more on this, see Brooke of FoodWoolf’s insider’s take on the restaurant Mother’s Day brunch. If you’re not feeling confident in your hollandaise sauce, or you’re a late sleeper yourself and don’t want a giant fuss in the morning, this is the brunch dish for you. [...]

A Super Bowl of Dip — Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip 2

I hate to say that I don’t care about the Super Bowl because it’s such a lame girl thing to say. On the other hand, I don’t really care about the Super Bowl. And I am kind of a lame girl. In my defense, L.A. hasn’t had a pro football team in years, so I can’t exactly root for the hometown. But the truth is, I’m just not really a pro football kind of girl.

Football food, however, is something I can get behind, because I am an appetizer kind of girl. Salty, spicy bite sized morsels? Yes please. Creamy dips with crunchy chips? Absolutely. I remember a highlight of my college dining hall experience being Super Bowl Sunday — in addition to the regular Sunday night fare like lentil tortilla rollups or Salisbury steak (this was before Alice Waters reformed my college dining hall) the chefs would provide an array of traditional Super Bowl nibbles for students to take to the buttery or back to their rooms to watch the big game. Things like nachos and hot dogs were popular, but what I looked forward to every year were the delicious crunchy spicy cheesy bites of goodness — the jalapeno poppers. My roommate and I would load our plate and head back to our room to read poetry (our freshman year, when we were intellectuals), listen to Tori Amos (sophomore year, when we were angsty) or watch girly movies (junior and senior year, when we were cool). OK, so we were kind of lame girls. But we were lame girls with jalapeno poppers (and our Caribbean themed spa party that took place during the Super Bowl senior year was super fun. We made blue cocktails and cranked up the heat in our room and gave each other pedicures).

Now I’m married to a boy who did not grow up in Los Angeles and does not have that as an excuse, and he likes watching the Super Bowl to boot, sadly without pedicures, which means my only consolation is the snacks. (And the commercials). Oddly enough, jalapeno poppers can be tough to find here in L.A. (which is usually a city where jalapenos are ubiquitous). Fortunately, I’ve managed to recreate the creamy spicy crunchy goodness in an easy to make dip form, which has the added bonus of tortilla chips. [...]

Flavors of Fall — Arugula Salad with Persimmons and Gouda

Persimmon 3
Fall produce – what do you think of? Apples, of course. Brussels Sprouts. Take a page from Thanksgiving and think sweet potatoes and cranberries. And pumpkins are, of course, inescapable, their leering visages popping up everywhere you go. Although I personally love all of these, the autumn crop which gets me all hot and bothered is the persimmon.
This salad combines some of the best flavors of fall, with persimmons, toasted walnuts and a dressing made from apple cider and apple cider vinegar. This is tied together with peppery arugula and a mellow, nutty aged gouda. It calls for the squat Fuyu persimmons — don’t use Hachiya unless you enjoy wearing your lips in a perfect pucker. Enjoy it as a counterpart to all the Halloween candy that abounds today! [...]

Love at First Bite — Cannoli Cream


Some recipes sneak up on you. You get a cookbook or a magazine, you read through it in a leisurely fashion, maybe try a recipe or two, and set it aside. A few months later, you pick it up again, notice a picture that looks tasty, and forget about it. Fast forward a few months, and you finally make the recipe and think it’s only OK. And then you start to crave it and it finally, finally becomes part of your repertoire.
Then there are recipes you fall for at first glance – bam. You see it and your mind starts racing around the possibilities and you can’t wait to get into the kitchen and try it out.
This is one of those. [...]

RIP Childhood — Flatbread Pizzas With Fennel


It’s funny how life works. We spend our entire childhoods longing to grow up, so eager to join the ranks of adulthood that we can almost taste it. To a child, the charms of being grown up are many — driving cars, earning money, wearing fancy clothes, eating cereal for dinner WHENEVER YOU WANT TO, being on your own (and lets be frank — alcohol and sex also hold their own lures. And, um, voting?) Of course, a few years into adulthood we find ourselves in the thick of reality – our commute is too long, jobs are hard to come by and difficult to do, we have to wear a suit when we’d rather wear yoga pants, cereal for dinner means we haven’t managed to get anything worthwhile onto the table, and we wish we ddn’t have to be on our own — that someone would just take care of everything for us. (I’m not knocking cocktails, sex or voting, however.)

In the past couple days, I’ve been thinking about one of those childhood pleasures which is rarely duplicated by adults — the sleepover. On a Friday night like this one, I’d go home after school with my friend Stacey. We’d go swimming in the afternoon, rummage around in her glamorous older sister’s room, make ourselves English muffin pizzas for dinner, then lay out sleeping bags on the floor of her family room and watch movies on betamax — Sixteen Candles, the Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and my personal favorite — Some Kind of Wonderful. We’d stay up late and tell secrets, and in the morning Stacey’s dad would make us coffee ice cream milkshakes for breakfast. There’s a special magic to a sleepover — it’s almost as good as being grown up. Making your own pizza! Staying up late! Eating ice cream for breakfast! And of course, those wonderful movies about the perils of growing up, of following your heart, of living in an unfriendly world, that we were too young to really empathize with but loved nonetheless. [...]

All my Eggs in One Basket — Corsican Omelet


There is a phenomenon known as “breakfast for dinner” whereby seemingly normal people choose to ingest breakfast foods, namely French toast, pancakes and bacon for dinner. Why they would want to do this, I have no idea. I may have mentioned it before, but standard American breakfast foods (with the exception of toast, which may be my favorite food) are not my idea of a good time.
I can blame this particular quirk on my mother, who took a firm stand against eating sweet foods for breakfast, which led to a deprived childhood lacking in things like Cocoa Krispies, pancakes, french toast casserole, blueberry muffins and donuts eaten before noon. My mother was convinced that these foods would give me low blood sugar and lead to headaches and feeling unwell, and unfortunately, the few times she relented on this policy, she was proven correct. Now, even as an adult, I look askance at things like pancakes, and rarely eat them, so the idea of replacing a normal meal that ordinarily provides lots of not-sweet nutrition with stacks of carbs just strikes me as plain odd.
I do, however, make an exception for omelets. Maybe it’s the French in me, but I really think there’s no bad time for an omelet. They’re infinitely adaptable, are an excellent way to use whatever’s in your fridge, and go perfectly with a glass of wine. Now that is what I call dinner. [...]

Fancy Supper Onion Pie


I have a lovely and patient husband, who, although he is wise beyond his years, sometimes gets some funny ideas. One of these is that I only like “fancy” food. No matter how many times I try to explain to him that just because I don’t consider the dollar menu at McDonald’s to be an adequate option for date night does not mean my tastes are either snobby or highbrow, he does not believe me. In his mind, I’m only willing to eat a certain type of haute cuisine, and the shorthand to describe that cuisine is caramelized onions.

As a result, he teases me mercilessly about caramelized onions. Whenever I criticize a dish, be it Chinese food or burritos, he’ll say, “Oh, not enough caramelized onions for you?” If I ask for suggestions as to what ice cream flavor I should make, he will say (after I’ve shot down vanilla), “How about caramelized onion?” What my lovely and patient husband fails to realize is that caramelized onions aren’t some chichi ingredient you find in restaurants, but a building block of good, homey cooking, from onion soup to hamburgers to this onion pie, originally called supper onion pie, or if you want to be all fancy, tarte tatin aux oignons. [...]

Comfort Food – Cheddar Risotto

My daughter is not the world’s soundest sleeper.

At least once a week I am awakened by a shout (usually for Dada, though I, like all mothers, am the light sleeper, and I am the one who comes running the most often). As soon as I open the door to her bedroom, she [...]

Spring Chickens — Braciole di Pollo

Mario Batali stuffed chicken legs braciole di pollo

When did chicken become the thing that we eat? Grilled chicken breasts. Baked chicken breasts. Roast chicken (OK, roast chicken is fantastic, but you get my drift). Maybe it’s the ubiquity, or maybe it’s the Michael Pollan-esque complaint regarding the flavorlessness of industrial chicken, but I get bored with the endless parade of chicken breasts, chicken legs, chicken tenders, chicken strips (though roast chicken is still fantastic). I want my chicken to have a little pizzazz.

This recipe offers the perfect solution to put a little oomph in your chicken. Well, if you describe oomph as a stuffing that has the rich saltiness of prosciutto and provolone cheese, the sharp hit of parmesan and the brightness of lemon zest. This recipe comes from Mario Batali, and say what you like about his clogs, his food show with Gwyneth Paltrow, or the teeny overcrowded waiting spaces at his restaurants, the man can cook. There’s something about Mario Batali’s food that is very satisfying. And this recipe is no exception.

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Cinco de Mayo 2 — Easy Chicken Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles I recognize that it’s a little on the late side for many of you to cook this for Cinco de Mayo. I have heard rumors, however, that in some parts of Texas, Cinco de Mayo has been rescheduled for September due to concerns over swine flu. They’re also planning to push back the 4th of July to November.
Regardless of when you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, or whether you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, this dish is worthy to add to your repertoire. I got the recipe from my mother, who is a source to be reckoned with. She works full time, has written several books, travels the world on a regular basis (I think right now she’s somewhere in the Aegean) and still manages to cook dinner nearly every night (skipping the nights on the Aegean). So you knw that any recipe that comes from a woman like this is 1) simple to prepare, because she does not have TIME for excessively complicated dishes and 2) delicious, because she has high standards. [...]