Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bacon of the Month!

Today’s trip to the mailbox delivered something special: The Grateful Palate’s 2008 Gift Handbook.

Oh, my.

Last year, in an attempt at The Best Girlfriend Ever title, I bought my beau a year-long membership to the Bacon of the Month club and a six-month membership to Amazing Clubs’ Beer of the Month. My thought behind these gifts was twofold. On one hand, neither one of us needs any more clutter in our lives and the “disposability” of edible gifts was really appealing to me. It also crossed my mind that if our relationship went belly-up in the next year, every month he would get a tasty reminder of what a great girlfriend I was - and that satisfied my bitter, vindictive side.

It’s December again, and we’re still together only 10 pounds heavier with a freezer full of artisanal bacon. One would think that a pound of bacon could be easily consumed over the course of a month by two culinary-inclined adults. We’ve had bacon fried in the pan, baked in the oven, wrapped around filets and scattered over stew. We’ve had it for breakfast, lunch, brunch, snack-time and dinner. The freezer is stocked, we have a bacon surplus and still I’m tempted once again to order.

The “Field Guide to Bacon” includes roughly 45 different varieties of bacon, all with tasting notes and a 1 through 5 rating system. Some bacons are good for kids, others are best for breakfast and sandwiches. (I’m partial to jowl & shoulder bacon, myself.) The selection and variety of bacon is amazing. But I can’t have any more bacon in the house. I just can’t do it.

Though what I find especially enticing is this:

Pies! Delivered to your door! Every month! With cocktail recipes!

Oh, my. My, my, my.

Phoebe Lawless will make 75 pies a month for The Grateful Palate – which means only 75 members may join the club. At $66.00 a month (not including shipping) it certainly isn’t the cheapest way to get your pie fix, but if you order it for your sweetie and the relationship goes sour…

Thursday, December 06, 2007

its not blonde...

but this quote of the day certainly made me laugh:

Happiness is like peeing your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel its warmth.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The latest disaster: Coq Au Vin

I’ll spare you the gory details, but hope that you’ll laugh WITH me when I tell you that my latest culinary adventure was inspired by the following:

But did not result in Coq Au Vin. Instead, the resulting catastrophe could best be described as a pot of blackened bacon fat and a pile of stringy purple chicken with perfectly purple petite pearl onions.

So after several attempts at chewing, we decided to cut our losses. A liquid dinner never killed anyone, did it?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

blonde quote of the day

"I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”

~ Zsa Zsa Gabor, cop-slapper and actress, b. February 6, 1917

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Oh my, Omaha!

We're on a mission, and today the adventure began. It started in Los Angeles, and will end in LA - but what happens along the way will truly test the wills and relationships of three sisters. Along the way, we also hope to debunk myths about middle America and their eating habits.

Since arriving in Omaha this afternoon, I've been nothing but surprised. My sister craved a snack and we ended up at the Urban Wine Company. Fine Omaha dining...

at fine Omaha prices.
3 wine flights
3 mini hamburgers
1 cheese "flight"
1 artichoke dip
... $50.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Who Will Make It?

My sisters and I are going on a road trip - Omaha to Los Angeles. Three Days, 26 hours of drive time, 1 puppy. The question is simple: Who Will Make It?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Homework Assignment #2

My first assignment was a bit of a bust. As happy as I was with my description of tuna casserole, my instructor was not impressed with my use of the work "slicing" - nor did he like my timing. Fair criticism, and obviously that what I signed up for. Homework assignment number two was to write the header for a favorite recipe. I'm hoping this one goes over better, but...well...who knows at this point.

Fall is the superior season. Not too hot and not too cold, fall is a welcomed respite from the scorching heat of summer. Children are in school, television shows debut and pro sports ticket boxes re-open. It is also the only season to host two food-focused holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. It is no coincidence - with so much going on, sustenance is essential.

Stews make for a hearty one-pot meal when busy days do not allow much time for doing dishes. It’s versatile enough to satisfy any picky eater since most root vegetables can easily be traded in and out. This modern take on the classic French Bœuf bourguignon provides the warmth and comfort of a slow-simmered beef stew with an abbreviated preparation and largely-unattended cooking time. It is best made a day ahead, allowing for the flavors to develop between football practice and season premieres. Serve it with a wedge of crusty bread, over rice or heaped on top of a pile of mashed potatoes. Leftovers, if there are any, can easily be repurposed. Poured into a baking dish, covered in potato mash and baked at 350 until bubbly, this stew makes an elegant shepherd’s pie. It can also be sealed between two pastry layers for a tasty pot pie, leaving you plenty of time to get out of the kitchen and enjoy the season.

Recipe posted here

Monday, October 22, 2007

Homework & Tuna Casserole

I'm currently taking a class at UCLA Extension on Food Writing. It's been interesting, disheartening and frustrating all at the same time. We've had visits from some accomplished and well-known food writers and editors and the question always arises, "So, does your (insert publication name here) accept freelance?" and the invariable answer is a solid NO. Or, in some cases, NO - unless you're really well-known.

See what I mean about disheartening? Frustrating? But its not every day that you get to listen to Russ Parsons of the LA Times talk about how he develops recipes and conducts interviews, so it is interesting. And if it forces me to post more often, then it can't be all bad. Here it is - my first homework assignment: Describe a food memory in 250 words.

I’ve always loved to eat, though not necessarily to cook. There were times during my childhood in which I considered changing my last name to Stouffer’s, if only to make me closer to my then-favorite frozen lasagna. As a child, I didn’t realize there was cooking involved because I was more concerned with the end product. There wasn’t a meatloaf I didn’t like or a dinner I wouldn’t eat except for one: Tuna Casserole.

I curse the individual who first ruined a perfectly good noodle with the addition of canned fish, cheese and condensed cream of mushroom soup. How my mother found the inspiration to combine this foul concoction from the contents of our well-stocked, walk-in pantry eludes me, and how any of us survived the fishy stench emanating from the oven boggles the mind. It looked like a baking dish of gray baby spittle, the texture and color of freshly-mixed wet cement. Spooned out onto my plate, it lost its shape and oozed into my iceberg wedge and dared to mix with the Ranch dressing. The first bite -my only bite- revealed a dozen slimy mushroom pellets that slipped between my teeth when I tried to bite down. The potato chip topping sliced the roof of my delicate 7 year old mouth and as I swallowed, I remembered where I had tasted this once before. Tuna casserole tastes like Kindergarten paste. There would be no second bite. Not today, not ever - because I would learn to cook.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Almost trendsetting...

Because I am a complete Philistine who gets her news and cultural findings from watching CNN while on the treadmill, listening to KROQ on my commute and reading ApartmentTherapy at work, I'm normally a bit behind the times. Not to mention the fact that I work at the mall - which isn't exactly a hotbed of intellectual discourse. But not this time. Oh, no...I am on the cutting edge.

Check out last week's article on jellied cocktails as featured in the LA Times here.

And hopefully, you'll remember that the better bitter blonde posted a recipe for gin & tonic jellies on July 18th!

We're practically trendsetters!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

blonde news of the day

I remember hearing about this when the report first came out, and recently came across the article again:

Blondes 'to die out in 200 years'! A study by experts in Germany suggests people with blonde hair are an endangered species and will become extinct by 2202.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Seriously? Seriously.

Once upon a time, a girl and her boyfriend were driving down Sepulveda Blvd. They stopped at a red light, behind a big tow truck. Another girl, not paying too much attention, neglected to see the red light and rear-ended the first girl and her boyfriend, sending them forward into the tow truck’s hitch – punching a long, narrow dent into her front bumper and practically removing the back bumper.

But the girl and her boyfriend were OK, and – these things happen. There was a little hiccup with the insurance company, and the first girl decided to use her own company instead. It took her some time to get it straightened out, but eventually she got her car into the shop and 7 days later it came back – good as new! Shiny and clean with brand new bumpers!

One week later, as the girl was fighting traffic so she could meet her friend’s house so they could attend a Pat Benatar concert, she heard a crunch and felt the car move forward – even though her foot was on the brake. The girl’s car had been rear-ended again! A week! One, single week with her shiny and clean car with brand new bumpers!

I’m calling this little recipe the “I-Can’t-@#$%ing-Believe-She-Hit-Me-Right-After-I-Got-My-Car-Outta-The-Shop” – tini.

1. Locate bottle of vodka.
2. Pull glass from cabinet. (Option A: pour directly in mouth)
3. Insert ice in glass, cover with vodka.
4. Add tonic and lime to taste. (Option B: soda and lemon)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Welcome to Greneda

My baby sister is in town.

When CeCe’s in town, you can smell it in the air – and it smells like a vodka cranberry.

My sister CeCe is a potent woman. She barges into Los Angeles every few months and she’s a hurricane of brightly colored high heels and fluorescent cocktails. Instead of lounging with the family watching a movie, CeCe demands that we all play “Drink while you think: Celebrity version” until we’re bent over, cramped, in laughter and my brother is doing his best Michael Jackson Thriller video impression.

CeCe starts veterinary school in the Caribbean in January; so obviously, every drink concoction up until her departure can be viewed as “research.” She and my other sister Kimmy came up with this little doozy just the other night, and needless to say, it got silly.

Welcome to Greneda
Crushed ice
A jigger (or two) of Malibu rum
Pineapple juice to taste
Tiny umbrella (required)

Pour all ingredients in glass. Stir to combine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bridesmaid Sweatshop Tuna Ceviche

I’m a terrible, horrible blogger.

I don’t call, I don’t write and I hardly ever cook at home – just ask Citibank, they’ll tell you all about my take-out and restaurant charges. I read magazines on airplanes instead of “books of literary merit” and if attending weddings could be considered a significant creative achievement, I’d be a MacArthur Fellow. (How I’m going to pay my next credit card bill is really going to be a significant creative achievement.)

Since May 2007, I’ve survived the following:
4 weddings & receptions
2 rehearsal dinners
2 bachelorette parties
2 post-wedding brunches
1 pre-wedding BBQ
1 bridal shower
1 couples shower

I still have to go to:
3 more weddings
2 more rehearsal dinners
1 engagement party

As they say, ‘tis the season. In honor of the season, (and some hard-fought, freshly-caught yellowtail tuna), I present you with an insanely easy to make modified tuna ceviche. My married friend Cayley served a similar version of this recipe to us bridesmaids during a “crafting weekend” prior to her July 2006 wedding – a weekend that later came to be known as “Bridesmaid Sweatshop.” While the photo may not do it justice, hopefully reading the ingredients list will inspire my last, faithful reader to give it a spin.

Bridesmaid Sweatshop Tuna Ceviche
approx. ¾ lb sushi-grade tuna, cut in bite-sized chunks
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup light coconut milk
½ diced jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed
¼ of a red onion, diced
1 small ripe avocado, diced
1 thumb-length piece of ginger, peeled and grated
zest from one lime
juice from 1-1 ½ limes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients in bowl and then refrigerate for no less than 30 minutes. Serve with endive spears as an appetizer, or on top of mixed greens for a salad.

Makes 4 appetizer portions, or 2 main courses.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

blonde quote of the day

I do a great deal of research - particularly in the apartments of tall blondes.

~ Raymond Chandler

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Home Cooking

My late grandmother was an accomplished home gourmet and was once featured in a 1960s Better Home and Gardens article about outstanding homemakers. For reasons I know longer remember, my mother and I were discussing her mother-in-law when Mom said to me, “she used to make things like lobster bisque and bouillabaisse at home, and I always thought if you eat that at home, what’s the point of going out?”

I’m sure Mom doesn’t remember the conversation, but it’s stuck with me and since that time, mentally I’ve always made a differentiation between “home food” and “going out food.” Maybe it was my traditional American childhood diet of mac & cheese and meatloaf, but when I’m at home I crave simple foods with minimal preparation – food you can eat sitting on the couch in sweatpants watching re-runs without feeling guilty. When I’m out – really out, eyeliner-high heels-push-up bra-out - I want the most complicated item on the menu. I want to know that as much thought and preparation went into my food as I put into my outfit.

But as I’ve said before, we all do crazy things for love. So for my sweetheart’s birthday dinner, I broke all of my own home-cooking rules:

Champagne & Caviar
(served with crème fraiche, chives & roasted fingerling potatoes)

Mixed Green Salad
(with cucumbers, edible flowers & a Dijon vinaigrette)

Gin & Tonic gelatin palate cleansers

Filet Mignon aux fines herbs

Birthday Cupcakes
(with vanilla whipped cream & raspberries)

Yes, you read that correctly, I made a palate cleanser. You can too:

Gin & Tonic Jellies
From Food Network Kitchens

1 teaspoon gelatin

5 ounces tonic water

1 1/2 ounces gin

2 teaspoons lime juice

lime wedges, sliced thin

Pour about half the tonic into a bowl. Scatter the gelatin over the surface, do not stir, set aside until the gelatin blooms/softens/starts to look like gelatin. Meanwhile, warm the rest of the tonic over very low heat until just simmering. Whisk hot tonic, then gin into the gelatin. Pour jelly into glasses (I used margarita glasses, but anything will work) and garnish with lime wedges. Place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours until set.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Road Food

You can eat on the road, or you can eat Road Food. The same thing? Hardly.

“Eating on the road” is a focus on the road and the desired destination – food is an afterthought. Eating can be viewed as a time-wasting necessity, and half the time eating on the road actually means eating while driving. Eating on the road reminds me of my college commute from Los Angeles to Davis, a torturous 6-8 hour drive along the 5 freeway. With nothing to do except count the cows and sing along to the CD player, the Buttonwillow, CA In-N-Out was not only my chosen stop, but the symbolic half-way point. Because no matter how many times I did that drive, I never cared enough to stop at any of the shady looking restaurants along the way. At one end were my friends and my new-found freedom, and the other home. The destination was always the focus.

On a recent trip up to Lake Tahoe, we took the long way out of Los Angeles, driving on the 14 through Mojave and merging onto the 395 to Bishop and all the way up north. Although a lifetime California resident, I’d never been through this part of the state before. Once out of the desert, we drove through adorable little towns nestled at the base of the forested areas: Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine, Bishop. Pine furniture could be purchased every half-mile and my boyfriend/navigator pointed out the Inyo County Courthouse where we’d end up if we didn’t obey the traffic signs while driving through these quaint little towns.

As we got closer to Tahoe, we drove through a town named Lee Vining. (Sounds like it should be someone’s name, doesn’t it?) We turned off the highway and up a large hill to the prettiest little Mobil station and rest stop you ever did see.

With sweeping views of Mono Lake, this Mobil station is anything but ordinary. The attached building also houses a liquor store, gift shop and The Whoa Nellie Deli. Probably the only gas station in California where you can fill up and get a lobster dinner, this oddity has redefined Road Food.

We had the fish tacos – huge slabs of lightly fried whitefish, one with wasabi coleslaw and the other with mango salsa and a side of beans – and the cowboy steak sandwich. More of a steak than sandwich, it was also enormous and dripping with seasoned butter, even two very hungry travelers could barely manage it all. The Whoa Nellie Deli also has Mammoth Ale on tap, and even though we still had another 115 miles to go, figured one each wouldn’t hurt.

Although you'd probably never see it if you weren't looking for it, and if you're crunched for time you won't want to get out of your car and wait in line for made-to-order food, but the next time you're at the intersection of the 120 West and highway 395, swing by the Tioga Gas Mart, have a beer, forget about the destination and focus on the food.

Tioga Gas Mart
22 Vista Point Road
Lee Vining, CA 93541
P: 760-647-1088
F: 760-647-6019

Thursday, June 28, 2007

blonde quote of the day

"It is possible that blondes also prefer gentlemen."

~Mamie Van Doren

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Restaurant Review: 3 Square Café & Bakery

Due to the nature of my job and the frequency with which I work weekends and holidays, I occasionally have the random weekday off. I typically spend my day off accomplishing the things everyone else uses the weekend for: trying new restaurants, sleeping in, laundry. On one particular day, a Thursday, I went to try the new 3 Square Café on Abbot Kinney with my friend the self-employed art dealer. And you know what? It was pretty busy. Not so busy that we couldn’t sit down, but, you know – busy.

I can’t help but wonder who these people are or what they do for a living that allows them to casually have a relaxing lunch at 1pm on a Thursday. There are very few offices on Abbot Kinney, and it was readily apparent that none of these individuals were taking a lunch break or business-related meeting. Now, I knew why I was there. I knew why my friend the art dealer was there. Elisabeth Shue was there too – so it was pretty easy for me to figure out how she had the free time to try Röckenwagner’s newest venture. But everyone else? They can’t all be actors and/or independently wealthy….can they? Can they?

Who are these people and why don’t I do what they do?

As you can tell, 3 Square is currently a bit of a scene. However it’s a scene worth checking out. We both had the Niçoise salad with Italian tuna and were impressed with the quality of the individual ingredients and the overall presentation. The poached egg was perfectly runny, the green beans blanched but still firm and the tuna tasty without even a hint of fishiness. We followed it with the prettiest little lemon meringue tart you could imagine. Besides being deliciously tart (pun intended) the meringue peaks were beautifully formed and rested on the lemon curd like a little crown.

My next visit will definitely include the sandwich sampler that I saw many patrons eating, and probably a glass of wine off the chalkboard menu board. And then some pastries from the bakery next door. And hopefully, as happened to my friend on another visit, a Jake Gyllenhaal sighting.

3 Square Café & Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney
Venice, CA 90291
310-399-6504 (P)
310-399-6518 (F)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

blonde quote of the day

"After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual "food" out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps."

~ Miss Piggy

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Best Breakfast Sandwich - Ever

I’ve never been one for breakfast. I’ll have a tub of yogurt once I get into the office most days, but I view that as the kind of eating that is purely to provide me with enough energy to get through the morning, not for any real gastronomic delight. Some days require breakfast, though. For instance, mornings after discovering that you’ve been “overserved” yet again at the local watering hole practically require that breakfast consist of more than 3 Advil and a pint of tap water. And now that I have my new toy, there seems to be no obstacle it cannot overcome. Hence, the best breakfast sandwich – ever.

The Best Breakfast Sandwich – Ever
For two sandwiches, you’ll need:

½ large red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk or water
4 slices bacon
4 slices whole wheat bread
4 slices tomato
3-4 ounces swiss cheese, sliced thinly
olive oil
salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet and add sliced red onion. Cook over medium-low flame for 5 minutes. Add a hefty splash (approximately 1 tablespoon) of balsamic vinegar. Go back to bed. Get up at commercial breaks to stir the onions.
Let the onions cook until caramelized – sweet and sticky – which can take up to 40 minutes.

Scramble four eggs with milk or water, salt and pepper in a bowl. Once the onions are done to your liking, pour in the eggs. Proceed as you would for a frittata or omelet, pulling the egg away from the sides and allowing the raw egg underneath the cooked. Once cooked, remove from the skillet, set aside and wipe out the pan. Toss in bacon slices and fry ‘em up.

While the bacon is frying, turn on the panini press, slice up the cheese and tomatoes and butter the bread. After the bacon is suitably drained and crisp, it’s time to assemble:

Bread – butter side down
Bread – butter side up

Toss these monstrously large sandwiches onto the press and suffer through the wait.

It’s totally worth it.

If you’d like to challenge my assertion that this is the best breakfast sandwich ever with your own creation – I’d love to hear about it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

blonde quote of the day

“My weaknesses have always been food and men - in that order.”

- Dolly Parton (January 19, 1946 - present)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Toy! New Toy! New Toy!

As I may or may not have mentioned earlier, I abandoned the better bitter blonde due to elevated stress levels that included a little family strife and a change in where I lay my head at night. The change in locales was supposed to make all my troubles melt away…only it didn’t.

There is one loud, clunky, clutzy, chubby, nocturnal cow living on top of me, and I haven’t slept more than 5 hours at a time since moving in.

I really truly believed that a new apartment (with hardwood floors, no less!) in a great location was going to help me get myself in order and perk up my mood. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. So…I went shopping. And while some may feel blue, I feel bleu. (Wow that was cheesy. Oh, God – I can’t stop myself!)

The supermarket is my refuge, and the cheese counter the end of my pilgrimage. I looked in my new (and still mostly empty refrigerator) last night, and counted 5 different types of sparkling water, 2 bottles of white wine and 4 blocks of imported cheese. While water, wine and cheese will normally get me through the most difficult of situations, my current predicament required something a little more substantial: a new toy.

The Cuisinart Griddler™ Panini & Sandwish Press makes everthing from popular panini to great grilled cheese. Designed like professional units, our floating hinge adjusts to sandwich thickness to perfectly grill thin or thick panini and sandwiches. A preset temperature ensures restaurant-quality results -- always crisp and golden brown.

(And yes, the Cuisinart website really does say “Sandwish”!)

We used the press for the first time last night, blending cheeses and meats into a sandwich that was crisp and satisfying. It may not necessarily qualify as a “recipe” persay, but it certainly was tasty and has cemented my press’s role as new favorite toy.

Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Basil Panini

½ ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 pieces thinly sliced Prosciutto
½ bunch fresh basil, leaves pulled off of stems
1 sliced tomato
1-2 tablespoons prepared pesto
2 5-6” long pieces of Baguette

Heat the panini press. The grill is ready when the light changes from red to green.

To assemble the sandwiches, slice the baguette into 5-6 inch long portions, then in half lengthwise. Spread both sides with pesto and then layer on the remaining ingredients: mozzarella, prosciutto, basil and tomato. Top with the other bread half and place on the grill. Lower the top onto the sandwiches (the light will turn red) and grill until crisp.

Makes two tasty sandwiches, just perfect for dipping in a creamy tomato bisque soup!

Now that I’ve got my brand new toy, I’m very excited to use it. If you have any sandwich combinations that you think I should try, please let me know! Would love to hear your suggestions.

Friday, April 06, 2007

blonde movie quote of the day

"Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?"

~ Marilyn Monroe (as Lorelei Lee) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Peas forgive me

It’s been awhile, a long, long while. I don’t even look at this blog anymore, so I don’t know how or why I expect my friends, let along people I don’t even know, to do so. The reasons why I abandoned the better bitter blonde for a time aren’t nearly good enough, so I won’t waste your time listing them. Instead, I’m asking for a favor: Peas forgive me.

Baby Pea & Pesto Ravioli

½ bag frozen baby peas, thawed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 wineglass dry white wine
½ tub of ricotta cheese (approx. 4 oz)
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 handful pinenuts, toasted and chopped
2 heaping tablespoons prepared pesto, plus more for sauce
1 handful Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Wonton wrappers

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Sauté the garlic and green onion in olive oil until soft. Add the peas and roll them around in the garlicky goodness for a moment, before adding the wine. Simmer, and season with salt and pepper. The goal is to have tender peas that hold their shape, but “mush” when pressed upon.

Meanwhile, mix ricotta, parsley, parmesan, pesto, half the pinenuts, salt & pepper in a bowl. Once the right consistency, fish the peas out of the skillet, add to the bowl and combine gently.

Next, begin the ravioli assembly line! Lay the wonton wrappers out, making sure to have a small bowl of water nearby to help “seal” them closed. Place a small spoonful of filling into the center of the wrapper, dip your finger into the bowl and run it along two adjacent sides of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over to form a triangle and then smooth it out, being sure to squeeze out any air bubbles. (I like to cup my hand around the filling on both sides and then gently drag my hands out towards the edges.) You can use a pasta cutter along the edges if you like a more decorative look.

Once assembled, toss the ravioli into your boiling water – the pasta is done when it floats to the top, about 3 minutes. To serve, mix leftover pesto with a ladle full of reserved pasta water, remaining pinenuts and another handful of thawed peas if you have any left over. Serve with Parmesan and black pepper.

Serves two really hungry souls, with just enough left over to freeze for a snack at a later date.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

better bitter blonde is one!

I didn't realize it till yesterday, but the Better Bitter Blonde is one year old today...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


52 recipes in 2007!

52 recipes in 2007??


The original plan was going to be a series of phenomenal culinary achievements. I was going to test recipes, then tinker with them and present my own artful, tasty creations – accompanied by witty commentary to both dazzle and entertain! But…oh, how does the old Top Gun saying go?

“[Girl], your ego is writing checks your body can't cash”

So, we’re embarking upon a new chapter here at Ye Old Better Bitter Blonde. Its called, “What-went-wrong-and-what-would-you-do?”

Here’s how it works: I attempt to make a new recipe. I tell you how I made it and more than likely – what went wrong. Afterwards, you tell me what you would do differently. Sounds like fun, right?

Here goes!

Recipe 1 of 52: Savory Caramelized Onion Tart

I’ve attempted savory tarts before, with some success. I’ve wanted to try it out again for some time, but just haven’t had a chance.

olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced thinly
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
1 big splash balsamic vinegar
1 defrosted ready-made pie crust
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté the red onion in olive oil until just barely beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and stir for another few minutes, then the balsamic vinegar. Stir and cover. The onions will cook down and take on a dark, caramel color after approximately 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool.

In the meantime, mix the Dijon mustard and sour cream together and season with salt and pepper. Roll out the dough onto a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet and spread the mustard-sour cream mixture onto the center in a circle approximately 5 inches in diameter. Top with the cooled onions and fold the edges of the dough over, pinching it together towards the middle.

Brush the outer edge of the dough with an egg wash, top with the grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Bake until firm and light golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The verdict: OK, but a bit on the bland side. I realize now that I forgot to salt the onions, and I probably would have added fresh thyme had I not killed off the plant over the holidays. The ready-made dough leaves much to be desired as well. I’ve never attempted crust before and I’m slightly (as in, majorly) intimidated.

So… What would you do differently?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


“They” say that the way you wake up on New Year’s Day is indicative of how the whole year will go. For every January 1 of my adult life that I can remember (and every New Year’s Eve that I can’t) I’ve awoken with a hangover tantamount to a pile-driver boring a hole in my skull. Every year I’ve swallowed my own personal Breakfast of Champions – three candy-coated Advil and a glass of water and walked into that year with my hopes high and the sour taste of bile lapping at the back of my throat.

But this year…this year… This year I woke up well-rested after a lengthy, romantic meal in front of the fire with the man I love.

No Jell-O shots.

No mysterious phone calls in (or out) of my cell phone.

No sequins, sparkly eyeshadow nor fake eyelashes.

And you know what? I am sooooo over 2007.

I had big plans when originally composing my 2007 blog manifesto. I was going to jovially count up my 2006 accomplishments in a manner not unlike Bridget Jones. Optimism, enthusiasm and excitement were going to jump off the screen and smack you readers right upside the head. Oh, it was going to be inspiring! You were going to love it!

A lot of things went right in 2006: I proved myself professionally, saw cities I’d never seen before and met a great guy. It was all sunshine and puppies for awhile, but after a holiday season full of cranky customers, long hours and chapped lips I would have kicked any puppy that crossed my path. Compiled with just a few short weeks of visiting family members brimming with snarky comments and poof! Like ex-lovers, bad shrimp and cropped leggings – the bitterness is back.

So, what’s a gal to do? Here’s my plan:

1) I will make, and document, 52 recipes in 2007. (Who do you think I am, Julie Powell?)
2) I will read the 5 ½ books I didn’t read in 2006.
3) I will take a class of some sort that is purely for my own personal benefit, and is not work-related in any way.

And I will, once again, try to be a better, bitter blonde.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

2006 Re-Cap

Total number of "new-to-me" restaurants visited: 40 (approximately)

Total number of new recipes tried: 14

Total number of “culturally enriching events” attended: 12

Total number of movies seen (in a theater): 7

Total number of books read: 6 ½

Total number of men dated: 4

Total number of times I’ve joined (and quit) Weight Watchers: 3

Total number of gyms joined: 3

Total number of foreign countries visited: 2

Total number of visits to Tennesee: 2

Total number of airport Chili’s To-Go restaurants visited: 2

Total number of men still dating: 1