Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wine, Butter, & Herb-Roasted Mushrooms

I adore this dish for its simplicity and flexibility. I usually use whatever herbs I need to mirror the flavors of a dish. In this case, I used dried lavender and fresh thyme.

  • 1 lb organic brown crimini mushrooms
  • 4 T butter, cut into small cubes 
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 C red wine (I used some Merlot)
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 T dried organic lavender buds
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preheat  oven to 450 degrees F. Brush any dirt from your mushrooms. Place the mushrooms into a rimmed baking dish. Pour in wine and balsamic vinegar. Add in garlic, thyme, and lavender. Toss so that the mushrooms are evenly coated. Lay cubes of butter on top of mushrooms. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the mushrooms are tender, move to a serving plate and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Il Grillo Date Night

While the boys are away (thanks, Nonni!), Mommy and Daddy will play. Earlier this week we headed to Il Grillo for a date night last night because La Balena had no open tables, according to their online reservations. No matter. We love both spots.

La Balena tops our favorite restaurant list for a few of different reasons: (1) we adore the owners, Anna and Emanuele; (2) Chef Brad Briske is a culinary genius; and (3) it doesn't matter what you order, it's going to be amazing. La Balena is our pick for celebrations - my 40thEaster lunchcapodanno, and more - and for delectable, romantic meals.

But I'm glad they were booked because we had a fabulous, low-key dinner at Il Grillo and got to chat with Jay who gave us the scoop on what day of the week to come back. It's the day that Brad plays with ingredients and tests out things for the menu. Ummmm...yeah...count us in!

We started off with the octopus carpaccio plate. You can click to read the post I wrote for Edible Monterey Bay before Il Grillo even opened: Il Grillo Delights in Carmel. Back in June, the octopus was served with grilled watermelon, chili oil, lemon, and mint. This week it was topped with marinated white beans, escarole, and crispy prosciutto.

Jay suggested the butternut squash involtini. [photo at the top] Butternut squash, chevre, apple, fennel, walnuts, and saba. What a great dish that felt like simultaneously Spring-y and fresh and an homage to the Autumn season with the squash.

Then, we ordered - my favorite! - whole roasted branzino. It's not that branzino is my favorite. I just love getting the entire fish with the head, eyeballs, fins, and tail all there on the plate! It was so tender with the peppery bite of arugula, and tang of the capers and golden balsamic butter

We made light work of the sea bass, eating it down to the bones! I refrained from licking the plate.

We ended the meal with an Italian caffé. Potent, dark, and delicious. 

Well, I planned to end my dinner with just the caffé. But Jay brought us a chocolate tart with a hazelnut crust. It was rich and delicious. I know my husband wanted to scrape the plate clean - with his tongue! - but people were watching!

If you're local...or visiting the area...don't miss this!

Mission between 4th & 5th. East Side. Carmel-by-the-Sea
Monday — Friday 11:30 am — 9 pm. Saturday 5 pm — 9 pm.
Mission St & 4th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Some Kale-rrific Dishes for National Kale Day #kaleday2015

Are you celebrating National Kale Day? While I normally don't celebrate food holidays - think National Cream Puff Day on January 2nd or National Taffy Day on May 23rd or National Cake Day on November 26th - I actually really love National Kale Day.

Unfortunately, Jake and I are not eating at home tonight. I have an assignment at a soon-to-open restaurant. And we didn't eat at home last night either because we went on a date. I's a tough life.

That meant that I had to get my kale-rrific dishes made, photographed, and posted early. I also had a main dish planned, but didn't get around to making it. So, I'll share that on another day. Think kale pesto wrapped in a thin roll of beef and braised in tomato sauce for four hours. Yep. My mouth is watering just thinking about that.

For now, I offer you a cocktail, a salad, and a sweet. Yes, I made a cake with kale. Click on the title of the dish to go to the original recipe post.

Are you celebrating National Kale Day?
What's on your table?

Soft-Shell Crab

The other day, at the fish market, I saw soft-shell crab. And, having never had them - much less cooked them - I picked up a pair for a quick appetizer. How hard could it be? Turns out...not hard at all.

Ingredients serves 2
  • 2 soft-shell crab
  • flour
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • lemon wedges for serving
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Mix flour and Old Bay seasoning. You can use as much or as little Old Bay as you like; I used 1 T for 2 C flour. Dredge the crabs in the flour mixture.

Melt butter in a splash of olive oil so it doesn't burn. Sauté crabs, upside down for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and sauté until golden brown, another 2 to 3 minutes more.

Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Then transfer to your serving plates with lemon wedges for serving. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

'I Love Kale!' Cakes #kaleday2015

Right about now, my husband is thinking: I could have married a nice girl...who bakes things from a a normal person!

Well, that's after his little chocolate-loving heart skipped a beat when he saw a mini chocolate cake on a plate for breakfast. Then he noticed the kale leaf on the plate. He squinted in disbelief, "You didn't!"

Didn't what?

"You didn't ruin a perfectly good chocolate cake by putting kale in it...did you?!"

Yes. Happy National Kale Day!

"That's not a thing." It is. Look, they even have a logo.

Having baked enough cakes in my life, I figured I could use a basic zucchini or carrot cake recipe and tweak it a little bit. Yep...this was good. Even my highly skeptical husband devoured it...and washed it down with some mushroom hot chocolate. But that is a story for another post.


  • 2 C kale, destemmed and chiffonaded (I used a Redbor kale)
  • 1¾ C flour
  • ½ C organic raw turbinado sugar
  • ½ C cocoa powder (I used unsweetened Ghirardelli)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • 1½ t masala chai spice (click for my recipe)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ C buttermilk
  • ¼ C oil (I used a mixture of coconut oil and hazelnut oil)
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and butter your cake molds, if using. I also used some paper mini bundt molds.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and masala chai spice. Add in the buttermilk, egg, oils, vanilla extract, kale, and chocolate chunks.

Stir until just combined, then pour the batter into the prepared pans, filling each about three-quarters full.  

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes before unmolding. Enjoy warm.

Maitake Mushroom-Kale Salad for #KaleDay2015

Are you celebrating National Kale Day? While I normally don't celebrate food holidays - think National Cream Puff Day on January 2nd or National Taffy Day on May 23rd or National Cake Day on November 26th - I actually really love National Kale Day.

Earlier this week I received from Maitake mushrooms from a friend whose family owns a farm in the Central Valley. Fun! I decided to incorporate those sweet and meaty fungi morsels into our celebratory kale salad.

Too bad my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf is out of town for Fall Break. He's the best kale salad massager I know! So, I was left to my own devices to incorporate our favorite Fall green into a salad.

Ingredients serves 2
  • 2 C lacinto kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 C Maitake mushrooms, separated
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 1 t soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed orange juice

Place kale in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil. Massage will the greens lose their dusty, grey hue and turn into a brilliant emerald green. Fold in the parsley, cilantro, and mushrooms. Drizzle with sesame oil, soy sauce, and orange juice. Toss to coat. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes for the mushrooms to soften slightly in the dressing.

Chili Verde Pork Posole for #FoodieExtravaganza

Foodie ExtravaganzaFor all my vegan friends, please avert your eyes. It's National Pork Month! For everyone else, read on because this was delicious!

Event hostess writes: Pork is among one of the most versatile meats we can work with... from skewers, to stews, to side dishes and main dishes... from bacon, to chops, jowls, ribs and roasts, pork can emphasize any flavor. Let your creativity soar this month as we celebrate National Pork Month. 

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of the month. If you are a blogger and you're interested in joining in the fun, visit us at our Facebook Foodie Extravaganza page. You can also visit our past party submissions on our Pinterest Foodie Extravaganza board .

Thanks for joining us this month and hope you come back 

to see what we're celebrating next month! 

#FoodieExtravaganza's PorkFest...

Chile Verde Pork Posole


  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked, washed, and dried
  • 1 serrano pepper, halved and deseeded
  • 1 jalapeno, haved and deseeded
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb lean pork, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • olive oil
  • 1 C onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 C celery, chopped
  • 1/2 C diced carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 2 C hominy (posole), drained
  • 3 C chicken stock or water
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (divided)
  • lime wedges for serving

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a parchment-lined baking sheet lay the tomatillos, peppers, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. 

Mix the flour and ground cumin together in a medium mixing bowl. Roll the pork cubes until they are completely covered in flour.

In a Dutch oven or souppot, heat a splash of olive oil. Add the pork and brown on all sides. Add in onion, celery, carrots, garlic, hominy, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, blend the roasted tomatillos, onions, and peppers. Pour the chile verde into the pot. Bring to a boil, again, reduce heat to a simmer and cover

Keep at a simmer and cook for at least 90 minutes. The pork should be tender. Season to taste with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Fold in 1/4 C chopped cilantro.

To serve, ladle into individual serving bowls. Garnish with more fresh cilantro and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kale Margarita for #kaleday2015

As we are kid-free for a week, have no homework or extracurricular schedules for the evening, I whipped up a mid-week cocktail in honor of National Kale Day.

I had made a Kale-Kissed Whiskey Algonquin for St. Patrick's Day, but decided to make a tequila-based libation for today. Cheers!

Ingredients makes one cocktail

  • 1 oz. tequila
  • 3 oz. freshly squeezed kale juice
  • 3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. ginger syrup
  • ice cubes
  • fresh kale leaves for garnish

Place 2 to 3 ice cubes in your glass. Pour in kale juice, ginger syrup, lemon juice, and tequila. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with a small kale leaf and serve immediately.

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