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One thing I really enjoy making is pizza.  It’s really one of the easiest things to make. You can make your own dough, or buy a pre-made dough, or go to your local pizza place and ask them for dough.  Summer is officially here, and let’s enjoy it by eating homemade pizza, good fresh salads, and a glass of rose wine!!

I love eating out on our patio, even though now it’s covered in chalk, many mobile kid toys, and baby pool.  It looks a lot different from a few years ago, but now it looks used and lived in so to speak.  I wouldn’t change it for anything, well maybe some grass and rain would be nice, but we have beautiful weather day in day out, 75 everyday (okay I’m bragging a little ;)).  Enjoy!!!

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Whole wheat pizza dough:

1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees (very warm, almost too hot for comfort)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise or instant yeast
2¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sea salt

 

White Pizza with Leeks and Artichokes:

  • 1 leek
  • 1 jar artichokes hearts
  • 1 small container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil for brushing and salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs. butter

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees
Whisk water, sugar, oil and yeast in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Allow yeast to proof for 5 minutes.
Pulse flour, Parmesan, and salt in food processor until combined. While running the food processor, slowly pour in the water mixture and process until a shaggy ball forms, about 1 minute.
Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and quickly knead dough a few times until it comes together. Halve the dough. Let dough sit in flour for about 20 minutes.  In this time you can prep your veggies or meats, or whatever you’d like to top your pizza with.  If your making this white pizza.  Cook your leeks first, you want them sort of caramelized.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes on low with salt and pepper.  On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into two rounds about 11 inches in diameter. I used a large cookie sheet with parchment a baked my this way. When I used a pre-made crust from Whole Foods or wherever I just place this pizza on the oven rack.  Once you’ve rolled out your dough place it on the lined cookie sheet.  Brush the outer edge with olive oil.  Next top with mozzarella, leeks and artichokes.  Then top with ricotta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 15 minutes.
Chopped Kale Salad:

  • 2 cups tuscan kale (or whatever kale you like)
  • 2 cups hearts of romaine
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or montery jack
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped salami
  • 1/4 cup salted pistatios
  • 1/2 cup diced English cucumber
  • 1/4-1/2 cup roasted red pepper
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/16-1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

You can buy roasted peppers or make them yourself.  If you want to make them yourself, you can roast them in the oven at 450, for 20-30 minutes.  Or you can just place them right on the open flame on your stove.  Once the pepper has been blackened, let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Once it has cooled, peel off skin, and cut up.  Season with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil.  For the salad, cut up your kale and romaine, and then pulse in your Cuisinart.  Put salad together. Then shake your vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss enjoy!!

 

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I hope you all had a lovely heart day on Saturday.  We had a fun day out.  We spent the day at Arboretum so Oliver could chase after some Peacocks, and run through their sprinklers.  Pretty heavenly for him.  Then an early dinner at out favorite Mexican place, and some heavenly margaritas for us.  Mellow and nothing really out of the normal, but still nice to have all three of us together for a whole day.

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The day after we spent with our favorite KK sisters.  Karen moved back to Texas and was visiting with her new beau so we were all excited to see her and meet the new boy.  He was awesome.  A true cowboy, even took his hat off when he introduced himself.  Winner!!!  Katherine was here with her baby boy McKinney who we all want to eat up.  He’s such a chill and sweet baby.  And KK was just back from a ton of work traveling.  I love hanging out with these girls….so much!!! We were going to BBQ here, but then decided to go out.  I had everything to make this salad for the BBQ, so decided to still make it and munch on it this week for a snack.  My father in law makes something similar that I really like.  He makes his with zucchini, hazelnuts and Parmesan…… delicious.  So I took his salad and did a different spin on it. The great thing about this salad is you can make it any time of the year, which is why I’m calling it the any season salad.

 

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Ingredients:

2 zucchini

1 medium apple (I prefer pink lady)

1/4 cup feta

1/3 cup pistachios

handful of chopped mint

1 lemon zest, and juiced

dash of olive oil

salt and pepper

 

Directions:

Cut apple and zucchini into thick matchsticks.  Place in bowl.  Chop mint or you can just tear it too.  Top with mint, feta, nuts, lemon juice and olive oil.  Toss.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!!!

 

 

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Life has changed to say the least. Our little man Oliver Jem was born on May 29th. It seems so long ago, but then time is going by so fast I want it to stand still. Weeks go by without me even knowing it. I do cherish every moment I can with this little one. Being home with him all day has allowed me to do just that. Every cry, every smile, every little thing he observes. It’s amazing that he came from us, I still can’t believe that he is here, and he is ours. It was a long time coming, a tremendous amount of work, tears, and patience.

We have had many visitors in the last two months. Lots of friends and family. We’ve had many bring by food, and ordered a lot of takeout, and have thawed many of frozen dinners that were prepared by my mother in law. I’ve been so wanting to get in the kitchen and cook. I’ve cooked a little here and there with family and with friends. But I wanted to actually host a dinner here at the house. Maybe I was being a little ambitious, but I did it.

To me it felt great being back in the kitchen. Even though it was casual, and a low key BBQ. I loved it. We invited two couples that we love. Camille and Jason were one of the couples. They also just had a little baby girl, that they named Luella Esme. She is precious in every way…so tiny compared to Oliver. They are only two weeks apart in age….and to me he looks like a huge meatball next to her. And the other couple was Kyra and Gregg. Kyra and Gregg handled the baby thing really well with me and Camille….with us not always in the room, because of a hungry baby, a crying baby, or a baby that just needs to be changed.They were so cool and laid back about it all. Love those guys so much!!!!

So in hosting the dinner I turned to my handy new Food and Wine magazine. This issue had do with veggies. I loved it. So many delicious salads to pick from. So I picked two, and made a starter, and of course dessert. The starter, the salads, and the dessert were easy to put together, and I will definitely be making them again. All you can find in the latest issue for July, or you can just click on the links below.

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The tomatoes were generously given to us from our landlord….so delicious. Almost as good as a Jersey tomato. Links below for the salads and more.

King oyster mushroom BLT
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/king-oyster-mushroom-blt-with-basil-mayonnaise

Vegetable ceviche
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/summer-vegetable-ceviche#

Zucchini and Buratta salad
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/zucchini-with-nicoise-olives-and-burrata

And lastly dessert….poached peaches with ricotta cake
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/poached-peaches-with-baked-ricotta


Summer is in full bloom here in Los Angeles, well I guess it is everywhere else too except the southern hemisphere.  I’m loving it and I’m sure you are too.  The hubs I spent this Sunday in the garden.  We spend probably once a month pruning the garden. There are so many other things that we want to add to it, but we are doing a little at a time.  As we were working on the garden I was taking in our home and realizing how many things I love about it.  Some of the things are small and may seem insignificant but the little things are the ones that mean the most.  I want to give you a little peek into my life here at home and the things that I love the most.

 

Our view, I love having morning tea in here the sun is perfect and warms the room just right.

 

Jonathan’s taste in music..we have a very eclectic album collection

 

A special gift from dear friends

 

My favorite photo’s in the house

 

A terrarium I made.

 

My favorite piece of art that we have..thank you Tom Holmes!

 

The best summer cocktail…a gimlet

 

My cook book collection. I’ve decided that I’m going to start blogging from them more.

 

Our front room. We really need to use this room more.

 

I love this chandelier. It reminds of Don Draper’s new pad.

 

My favorite piece of thrift store art that I bought years ago for $10.

 

Where we eat dinner most nights. It’s much prettier at night with the lights.

 

A cactus that has bloomed from our front yard cactus and succulent garden.

 

The front succulent garden.

 

 

 

Mt favorite paper weight. It was my parents.

 

I have elephants all over the house that were given to me by my grandmother, because as a child I said elephant funny.

 

You will always find homemade cookies in my cookie jar.

 

Yes Daisy can do yoga. She thinks she’s part human and that’s why I put her water bowl on the table. That’s what she prefers, and we don’t want to upset Daisy in any way.  You can see it in the back ground..no kidding.

 

A lithograph of David Lance Goines. He designed the menus and anniversary party invites for Alice Water’s, Chez Panisse. Thanks Miss Chu.

 

One thing I wanted to make today was a summer salad.  While we were in Houston last week my mother in law made a caprese salad (I will being doing a Houston post on our trip soon).  How I love it and hadn’t had any yet this summer.  I read about this salad on a blog I frequent called Lottie & Doof.  I really love a lot of the stuff that he posts.  He had this great salad that had marinated buffalo mozzarella, then he tossed in tomatoes.  WOW my husband and I loved it.  It is the summer salad! And a must to eat.  Make it now, you will not be disappointed.  Cheers.

 

 

 

 

And this one sits next to me most nights when we eat.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 15 basil leaves, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 teaspoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound buffalo mozzarella
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges

Directions:

Combine the fennel seeds, zest, basil, oregano, garlic and olive oil in a bowl to make marinade.

Break the mozzarella into large chunks with your hands and add it the bowl with the marinade. Smear the mozzarella with the marinade until well coated. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Toss tomatoes into the marinade.  Place on a medium platter or bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 

Isreali cous cous salad

Yes summer is here and who can complain about this California weather?  It’s amazing!  It has been record breaking heat all over the nation, but here in Los Angeles not so much.  And the nights have been glorious.  As I posted in my last post we had our friends Kevin and Dino over for dinner last Sunday.  I wanted to share some of the things we made besides my peach tart.  One thing that I was not expecting was for Dino to make a dessert.  I was giving him a break, but he insisted.  He made a sour cherry pie, I will post picks on that in my next post, as Dino will be my first guess blogger.

For dinner, we barbecued turkey burgers.  I’m not going to talk about those, because they are too easy to screw up.  For the sides I made two things that were in the latest issue of Food & Wine.  One was zucchini-ricotta fritters from Mario Batali, these were easy and so good.  I normally make the recipe that Ina Garten uses, but these were so much better.  The best part about these, you can make them before hand, and reheat in the oven.  The other side dish I made was an Israeli couscous salad with an arugula pesto and heirloom tomatoes from our garden.  This recipe again was easy, and I have made it again since, this time using a traditional pesto.  So much summer goodness in your face.  I know I don’t often blog about something that isn’t a baked good, but these were easy and perfect for the season.

 

zucchini ricotta fritters

Zucchini-Ricotta fritters

 

our bbq view

 

Dino enjoying the view and some wine

 

Kevin not enjoying the view but the other view...my husband!!

 

The boys

 

sneak peak at Dino's sour cherry pie

 

For zucchini-ricotta fritters: adapted by Mario Batali

Ingredients:

  1. 2 medium zucchini (about 7 ounces each), coarsely shredded
  2. 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  3. 3 large scallions, very thinly sliced
  4. 1/2 cup fresh sheep-milk ricotta cheese
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  7. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  9. Olive oil, for frying
  10. Lemon wedges, for serving

 

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, garlic, scallions, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir well, then stir in the flour just until incorporated.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Working in batches, add 2-tablespoon mounds of the zucchini batter to the hot oil, spreading them to form 3-inch fritters. Fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain the fritters on the paper towels and serve right away, with lemon wedges.
Make Ahead The fritters can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours and recrisped in a 325° oven.
Israeli couscous with heirloom tomatoes and arugula pesto: adapted by Skip Bennett  & Jeremy Sewall:

Ingredients:

  1. 6 cups packed arugula (6 ounces), plus whole leaves for garnish
  2. 2 cups Israeli couscous (12 ounces)
  3. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  4. 1/4 cup pine nuts
  5. 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  6. 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  7. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. 1 1/2 pints red cherry tomatoes, halved
  9. 4 yellow or orange tomatoes, cut into 1-inch dice

Directions:

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the 6 cups of arugula and blanch for 10 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the arugula to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.
  2. Add the couscous to the boiling water and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the couscous and spread it out on a large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to prevent clumping. Let the couscous cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
  4. Squeeze the excess water from the arugula and coarsely chop it. Transfer the arugula to a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese and the 1/2 cup of olive oil and process until the pine nuts are finely chopped. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the couscous to a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto. Gently fold in the tomatoes. Garnish with the arugula leaves and serve.
Make Ahead The salad can be refrigerated for up to 2 hours.

 

 

Tomato confit salad

I’ve been asked by some of my readers to make some non-baking related entries, so this post is an attempt at that (although there is still some baking in it).  I’m going to make things that are easy enough for anyone to cook.

While on our little vacation last weekend we had some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had.  There are some great places here in Los Angeles, but San Diego really took me by surprise.  The place I’m talking about is a restaurant my husband found, Pomodoro.  It reminded me of a place here in Los Angeles called La Buca, but the old La Buca (they went big and they will never be the same).  From Pomodoro’s decor and website I was skeptical, but it just goes to show never judge a book by its cover.

First the bread was heaven (when the bread is good you know your in good hands).   For a salad we had garlic sauteed spinach topped with burrata, and sauteed tomatoes.   Clean, fresh, and wonderful.  For dinner I had homemade papperdelle pasta, topped with braised lamb, peas, and mushrooms.  Yes it was divine, so divine I had the left overs for lunch the next day.

I wanted to make something simple that resembled our trip so tonight I’m making a tomato confit salad.  Tomato confit can be paired with almost anything; breads, pasta, vegetables, meat or fish.  I’m making it with sauteed garlic spinach and herbed goat cheese.  Somewhat like the burrata salad I had in San Diego.  You can serve this as an entree or side, whatever your flavor.  Enjoy!

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my divine papperdelle from Pomodoro

 

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 8 organic roma tomatoes, 0r 16 smaller ones on the vine
  • 1 large bag organic spinach
  • 1 package goat cheese, plain or herbed
  • thyme

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; prepare an ice-water bath and set aside.
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut an X in the bottom of each tomato. Add to boiling water and cook for 10 to 15 seconds; immediately transfer to ice-water bath. Let cool completely and drain. Gently peel and core tomatoes.
  4. Place tomatoes in an even layer in a baking dish, core-side down. Season with sea salt, and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, 3 smashed garlic cloves, and a couple sprigs of thyme. Transfer to oven and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  5. Place 2 tablespoons butter in heated sauce pan.  Once it is melted and 3 cloves minced garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, once you smell the garlic place the spinach in saucepan, and let it wilt. Season with sea salt and pepper.  This will only take a minute or two, you don’t want to over cook the spinach, just wilt it.
  6. Place spinach on a plate, top with goat cheese and tomato confit.  Season with sea salt and pepper, and a drizzle of good olive oil.  Enjoy!!