Tag Archives: Vegetables

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata RecipeA poet, journalist, author, and gourmet extraordinaire. Ronnie Hess grew up in New York City, attended the Lycée Français de New York and Julia Richman High School, and graduated from Hunter College, the City University of New York. She earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hess began a career in broadcast journalism at Wisconsin Public Radio. In the 1980s, she was a reporter/producer for CBS News in Paris, spending nearly four years in France reporting on political, social, and cultural issues. After returning to the Midwest, she worked for Minnesota Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio and was a freelance writer/producer for the “American Justice” series that aired on A&E. Returning to UW-Madison, she became director of communications in the Division of International Studies, and taught middle school English in France during a sabbatical year.

Ronnie Hess and husband (Ron Rosner) in Lisbon. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
Ronnie Hess and husband (Ron Rosner) in Lisbon

Hess has contributed to many publications – national, regional and local – including Saveur, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Milwaukee JournalSentinel. She was restaurant critic for several years for Madison Magazine and was a freelance arts critic for The Capital Times.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata RecipeRonnie has penned two books in a series with one of our favorite publishers, Ginkgo PressEat Smart in France, and Eat Smart in Portugal (click through to read my interviews with her!). Eat Smart Guides are genius, teaching about history, culture, menus, language, and more for a country – and include recipes. They tell you how to decipher the menu, know the market foods, and embark on a Tasting Adventure. I love them, for the broad introduction to a culture through its cuisine, as well as the travel (and eating) inspiration contained therein. Highly recommended.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe

Hess travels to France and Portugal frequently – find her at MyFrenchLife and http://www.ronniehess.com

Cheese plate, Normandy (Eat Smart in France). From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
Cheese plate, Normandy (Eat Smart in France)

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Well, apart from salads, I have a few favorites: risotto, pasta and pesto, vegetable frittatas.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Yogurt. And granola in the cupboard. I make my own.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Lively conversation.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Bad manners. And not speaking.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?

Your favorite cookbook author?
Jacques Pépin.

In Belem's Jardim Botanico Tropical. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
In Belem’s Jardim Botanico Tropical

Your favorite kitchen tool?

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
None of the above. It’s fish.

Favorite vegetable?

Chef you most admire?
Generally, it’s not one but all. They keep long hours, are always on their feet, working in stressful and often uncomfortable conditions.

Food you like the most to eat?

Chocolate cake for lunch in a restaurant in Provence. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
Chocolate cake for lunch in a restaurant in Provence

Food you dislike the most?
I like everything. Well, I’d have a hard time eating certain insects.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Water aerobics.

Who do you most admire in food?
The people who grow my food, bring it to market.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
Increasingly it’s my kitchen. Restaurants are too noisy and I can’t always count on the food.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Typically, a neighborhood restaurant, specializing in Mediterranean or an ethnic cuisine I would never cook. I love Indian food.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?

In northeastern Portugal in January, snowed in for several days in the village of Montesinho. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
In northeastern Portugal in January, snowed in for several days in the village of Montesinho


Recipe: Vegetable Frittata

(Serves about 4 people)

vegetable frittata. From i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe

This is based on Mark Bittman’s recipe that was featured in the New York Times. You can vary the ingredients, depending on what vegetables you’ve got, so it’s never the same. My instructions are below but here are Mark’s.

You’ll need about 6 cups of sliced or diced vegetables. These can be raw or cooked but obviously if they’re raw, you’ll want first to add those to a large oven-safe sauté pan.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the vegetables and cook covered until almost done. (I start with onions and garlic and then add vegetables that need the most time, such as carrots, before adding green pepper or zucchini.)

Season with salt, freshly-ground pepper and any other herbs (fresh or dried).

Break 4-6 eggs in a small bowl, beat, and add to the frittata.

Cook until the eggs are set.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
midway through cooking, with mozzarella cheese on top of the partially cooked frittata

At this point I usually add feta cheese and some grated parmesan cheese and finish off the dish under the broiler.

i8tonite with Eat Smart in Portugal Author Ronnie Hess & Vegetable Frittata Recipe
After grilling the cheese under the broiler. In this version I used carrots, broccoli, green and red peppers.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw RecipeIn our global world, food is often the first thing that changes. Chinese noodles appropriated by the Italians after Marco Polo’s visit. How about al pastor brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, or the deliciousness of a French-Vietnamese banh mi, which features tons of crunchy vegetables and savory pork stuffed into a baguette? This is the case for the much-lauded Revolutionario, near the University of Southern California, helmed by Chef Farid Zadi and his wife Susan Park. The couple came up with an ingenious concept of marrying North African diaspora (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya) tastes with Mexico. The successful result is a delicious fusion of international flavors as noted by the alternative paper, LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, and the queue of college students and food-oriented people standing at the counter ordering their $3.00 tacos.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe

Zadi’s career started in his birthplace of Lyon, France, ultimately leading him to working in Michelin starred restaurants throughout the world, including stints in Seoul, Korea, and Scotland. Upon coming to the United States, Zadi focused his epicurean talents on being a chef consultant and culinary educator, teaching cooking classes – for the beginner to the accomplished – at such places as Sur La Table, Whole Foods Market, and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Makroud (Algerian Date Newtons)

Last year, he and Susan wanted to create something different. Park says, “We saw the market going in a different direction towards a fast casual experience. Millennials didn’t really want to participate in the sit down service.” Along Jefferson, Revolutionario is not hard to find, as there are hordes of people waiting for service. Together, the couple have created a refreshing and unique melding of cultures…and the world was ready. Algerian butter and Mexican crema top a cob of corn. An Algerian roasted chicken with rasa al hanout – a Northern African spice mixture — called mechoui — is served up with feta and tortillas to wrap the bird. Wood-roasted cauliflower is also a standout when bound in a corn tortilla.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Mexican Street Corn with Algerian Creole Butter, Crema, and Cotija

Park comments, “North African tacos are an interesting cuisine. Food writers, those who are well-traveled, and people exposed to unique flavors love our food. Where else can you get merguez sausage served like a burrito?

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
34 years professionally

What is your favorite food to cook?
Dover sole with lemon butter sauce

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter, cheese, and cured meat.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Merguez and Crispy Potato Tacos

What do you cook at home?

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Don’t know what they want

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer in the summer, wine for fall and winter

Your favorite cookbook author?
Clifford Wright

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Chef’s knife

Your favorite ingredient?

Your least favorite ingredient?

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Home stove that doesn’t burn high enough

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Roasted Sweet Potato and Crispy Kale, Yukon Gold with Lentil Chili or Charred Vegetables.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean and Californian

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?

Favorite vegetable?

Chef you most admire?
Pierre Gagnaire

Food you like the most to eat?
Buttered pasta

Food you dislike the most?
Calf’s brain

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None. Never.

Recipe: Fennel and carrot slaw

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe

• 2 medium fennel bulbs
• 5 carrots, coarsely grated
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup Spanish green olives, pitted and finely chopped
• 1/4 teaspoon dried Aleppo chile or Espelette pepper flakes (optional), or to taste
• 6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and very thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 3 tablespoons and reserve.

Discard remaining fronds and stalks. Cut bulbs into thin matchsticks and toss with carrots in a bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, olives, Aleppo chile (if using), and salt to taste and toss with vegetables.

Chill, covered, at least 30 minutes (for flavors to develop).


– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite: with Palm Springs’ Workshop Chef Michael Beckman

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Chef Michael Beckman: Photo by Van Roo

Palm Springs is known as a resort town – an enclave for second homes, secret hotel pools, and cocktails. The cocktail culture is the town’s prevailing modus operandi. With a population of a little over 50,000, it’s never really been considered a food haven. Ask a few of the locals who live in the desert year round, and the answer is their private chef does the cooking. Or, they recommend one or two restaurants which are more about an elongated drink menu rather than a superbly pan-roasted fish or braised greens from the surrounding Coachella Valley farmers. There are a few notable exceptions to this observation.  The first that comes to mind is the four-year-old Workshop, owned and cheffed by Michael Beckman, which can be the honest answer to the question: “Where to eat in Palm Springs?”

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Workshop: Photo by Michael Horton

There are two reasons for this. The first is that Mr. Beckman is a classically French-trained chef with stints apprenticing, cooking, and learning in European kitchens, including Burgundy’s three Michelin-starred Lameloise and working under noted German chef Thomas Kellerman at the Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. Beckman maybe the only independent chef in the Southern California desert communities to claim to work in a Michelin-starred dining room.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael BeckmanSecondly, he’s smart enough to promote his restaurant outside the Palm Springs area, getting the first and the last reservations from area visitors. It’s been a very smart business move to market his talents to the gourmand set, rather than wait for visiting travel media shuffling through for an annual Palm Springs pilgrimage. Instead of getting the backend of travel pieces, Beckman put forth the effort and it’s paid off with stories in Sunset Magazine, Bon Appetit, Eater, and Wall Street Journal. But the question remained: how could someone with Beckman’s background become part of Palm Springs? Truthfully, he stated he was a private chef working with a client based in Rancho Mirage. He grew to love the area’s farmers markets and vendors, as well as the community’s natural beauty, so he stayed, opening Workshop and having a family.

Interestingly, Beckman – though successful — is so dedicated to his

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Workshop: Photo by Michael Horton

craft that he recently completed a several month staaj (cooking apprenticeship) with celebrated New York City’s chefs Dan Barber, Blue Hill Farms and Daniel Hume, Nomad (also of the Michelin-starred Eleven Park Madison). Beckman, as a chef, wants to continue to creatively evolve.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael BeckmanBeckman will have another feather to add to his list of accomplishments – Truss + Twine, a bar serving handcrafted cocktails and small bites; a chef will work in tandem with the bartenders behind the bar in a dedicated cooking area. Palm Spring’s newest watering hole is slated to open fall 2016. Lastly, he also partnered to oversee the food and beverage program for an unnamed independent 44-room hotel concept that that will have a restaurant and rooftop pool area. The hotel’s construction will start at the end of 2016.

Beckman will soon be hailed as Palm Springs’ Emperor to All Things Culinary. Rightly so.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? 16 years.

Chicken Diavolo. From i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Chicken Diavolo: Photo by Van Roo.

What is your favorite food to cook? Braises are most satisfying for me with deep flavors that develop, and the cozy aromas and feel of a braised dish is somehow emotional for me.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Quesadilla mise en place.  Eggs for omelettes.  A perfectly made omelette is one of my favorite challenges to see a chef’s skill set.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Lentil salad

What do you cook at home? I love my Weber grill for smoking and grilling fish and meats.  I also get nostalgic for the Lebanese food I cooked as a private chef in Beverly Hills and love those flavors.  Super healthy and super flavorful.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Someone who puts us in the drivers seat and trusts us.


What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a

Workshop Burger and Fries. i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Workshop Burger and Fries: Photo by Michael Horta

customer? People who lie at the host stand about their reservation.  People who don’t even read the menu and want to order something they can get anywhere.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? None of the above. Deli cups.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Yes, please.

Your favorite cookbook author? Dan Barber for “The Third Plate

Your favorite kitchen tool? My Chef de Cuisine Max.

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael BeckmanYour favorite ingredient? Eggs.

Your least favorite ingredient? Balsamic reduction.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Cleaning the fryer.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Mediterranean basin.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Beef.

Favorite vegetable? Right now I’m digging parsnips.

Chef you most admire? I like Paul Kahan’s rustic straight-forward style and also how prolific he is with his projects.

The food you like the most to eat? Oysters

i8tonite: with Palm Springs' Workshop Chef Michael Beckman
Outside Workshop: Photo by David A. Lee.

The food you dislike the most? Shitty banquet food.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None yet.  Never could figure out the first one…we’ll see.


Recipe: Beet Braised Lentils

Here’s a recipe from Feasting at Home, inspired by Chef Beckman’s dish at Workshop. She notes, “This recipe was inspired by a dish we had at a restaurant in Palm Springs, called Workshop. They topped their Beet braised lentils with a warm, crispy breaded goat cheese “cake”. It was divine. The chef, Michael Beckman, adds browned butter to the finished lentils, which brought it over the top.”

Beet braised lentils, inspired by Chef Beckman, Workshop.
Beet braised lentils, inspired by Chef Beckman, Workshop. Photo & Recipe: Feasting at Home

Beet infused lentils are a healthy side dish, with chicken or fish, or serve it on its own, as a vegetarian meal in a bowl with crumbled goat cheese.

3 T olive oil
1 C diced red onion ( ½ a red onion)
1 C diced carrot
½ C diced celery
1 Cup peeled and diced beet (one large beet, plus 2 more for juicing)
4 cloves roughly chopped garlic
1 T fresh Thyme leaves
1 Bay leaf
1 1/2 C black caviar, beluga, or Puy lentils ( soaked overnight if possible)
4 C chicken or vegetable stock
½ tsp salt
salt and pepper to taste
splash balsamic vinegar
1 Cup fresh beet juice (either purchase from a juice bar, or juice 2 extra large beets)
2- 3 T browned butter (optional but delicious)
crumbled goat cheese (optional)

In a large heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, beets and celery, and saute for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Turn heat to medium, add garlic, lentils and herbs and sauté for 2 more minutes.

Add stock and salt. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover with lid, and turn heat to low, maintaining a gentle simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the beet juice, taste for salt, add more if necessary, and continue simmering on low for 10-15 more minutes or until tender. If you feel there is too much liquid for your liking, keep the lid off, and increase the heat, letting it reduce. (I like the braise slightly juicy, personally, so I just replace the lid.)

Stir in a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and browned butter (optional) but the brown butter is divine.

Serve in a bowl with crumbled goat cheese, or as a base for fish or chicken.

Read about this recipe – and see more gorgeous photos – here.



The end. Go eat. 




I8tonite: Gratineed Cauliflower with Parmigiana -Reggiano

20151003_180219I was in a yet to be opened LA restaurant at a friends and family tryout. It’s  a common practice among well-financed restaurants –  a testing of the waters before media reviews and the paying patrons type of thing.  Invited along with some media, local chefs, restaurant bon vivants and a few Los Angeles gadflies my fellow dining compatriot who was actually the invitee. I was along for the ride. We had met over several bottles of Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay, Russian River at the Four Seasons Los Angeles years before.  (One of my favorite — I used to drink it like water back in the day.) As we sat there eating the comped food — testing and trying – I was disappointed. I mean, I know it was free – and had I been paying I would have sent some of it back. (The waitstaff was tipped on the bill that we would have been charged.) There was too much sauce on everything, the squid had been broiled too long and the flatbread – which used to be known as pizza — was a blackboard with artisanal toppings.  Seated at the next deuce to us, were the lovely husband and wife team of one my favorite LA eateries. My dining companion, the unnamed couple and I were talking amongst ourselves about how the best food is sometimes the simplest.  It doesn’t always need the sauce or maybe a little less of the herb; perhaps the watermelon radish pesto needs to evolve into something less. As we chatted about how disenchanted with the food we were, the phrase “keep it simple” kept popping up. Matter of fact, the female half – she was the pastry chef — of the cooking couple said, “Always take one thing away.” (Famed fashion designer Coco Chanel said that about dressing but it works for food just as well.)

Simple. It’s something that the famed chefs Alice Waters references in her cookbook, The Art of Simple Food; Cal Peternell’s Twelve Recipes – a series of cooking instructions for his college-going son on the essential twelve recipes – and Marcella Hazan, the Queen of Italian home-cooking who said, “What you keep out is as significant as what you put in.”

I try and apply this to my everyday life now – what I keep out is as significant as I put in.

(October 1 was Ms. Hazan’s second anniversary of her death. I didn’t know her but I’ve cooked from her books often.  This recipe is adapted from her Essentials of Italian Cooking and is dedicated to her.)





  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets. Keep the rest for a vegetable or chicken stock later on.
  • 1 – 2 grated cups really good parmigiana-reggiano.
  • Half stick of unsalted butter
  • (Optional and my suggestion: A clove or two of garlic, several dashes of red chili flakes and parsley).

Let’s make this puppy:

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. While that gets nice and toasty, boil a large pot of salted water. Once the H2O it’s roiling and toiling, throw in the cauliflower and cook al dente – about 10 minutes. (It should have a little bit of a bite.) Drain in a colander.

Take a baking dish which will go from oven to table. Using the butter, grease up the dish liberally. Add the florets packing them in tightly. Dot with more butter and cover with the cheese. (This is where I slide in some garlic and sprinkle lightly with the chili flakes. You don’t have to – it just adds a little to the final product.) Place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes until the cheese is a browned and beautifully crusted.

Chop some fresh parsley, throw on top and serve.

You can also do this with ramekins so you serve individually. That’s up to you….isn’t it amazing what you can do with three ingredients?

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: with Raw Food Chef Diana Stobo, The Retreat Costa Rica and “Naked” Mac-and Cheese.

thai-lettuce-wrap Food has transformative powers. There is no denying it. It can make you feel better but it can also make you feel terrible. That’s what makes Chef Diana Stobo’s story – a tale in eating naturally — fascinating. After attending Cornell University with a degree in the culinary arts and food chemistry, she had a career as a food professional. It was at that time, Stobo topped the scale at 247 pounds while she was pregnant with her twins. Once giving birth, she found the medications she had used to become pregnant – via in-vitro –they had perpetuated serious health issues. Furthermore, she states on her website and YouTube channel, that her weight was a proverbial yo-yo throughout most of her life. She is now a fit mother of three and defies age categories with her glowing taut skin, lean frame and healthy chestnut hair. She pulled this feat by transforming her diet and becoming a “vegan raw” chef. She now writes about her transformation and how she maintains it with her book such as Get Naked Fast and Naked Bliss. Matter of fact, the Southern California-based entrepreneur has fashioned a mini-empire discussing how she became fabulous and fit.

Recently, Stobo opened up The Retreat Costa Rica situated in a mountain area 45 minutes outside of San Juan, the Central American’s country capital. It’s a hotel – nay, a retreat — to provide calming sanctuary, yoga and amazing food. The secluded and verdant town of Altos del Monte is her backdrop, while Stobo’s fitness and food philosophy become realized with farm-to-table dining and daily yoga sessions. It provides visitors the opportunity to slow-down and experience the beauty of the country as well as quench the desire to become healthier through fitness and eating. All the food is provided by local farms including the meats and seafood. There are a variety of food menus – omnivore, carnivore and vegetarian — for guests to choose from and yes…there is even wine.

As I’m witness to my own family and their eating habits – my mother and stepmother are both severely diabetic — food can be quite toxic if not consumed with clarity, wellness and appropriately. There are all a variety of ways to be healthy and consumers need to be find the best fit for them.


How long have you been cooking? I’ve been cooking since I was a little girl.  My mother and I would make specialty cakes, very decorative and festive.  I remember one cake where we crystallized grapes and created a sugar crystal sculpture on top of a shaved coconut cake.

What is your favorite food to cook? Well, I am truly an artist, so many of my items need to have an art form, so baking and chocolates were my go to when I was in my early years,  but now, I play with healthier version of everything- so making classic food with a healthy twist is my favorite go to now.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?  I tend to have tons of produce, greens and fruits, almond milk (home-made of course), Kefir, green juice that I make fresh and tons of condiments.  I’m sort of a grocery store addict, I love finding new condiments that add punch and flavor to a new dish when cooking on the fly.

What do you cook at home? I’m a simple eater but love throwing dinner parties.  So when it’s time to party, anything goes.  Again, I tend to take the classic home-style favorites and give them a healthy or what I call “naked” twist.  Naked means substituting classic dairy, wheat, and sugar, with healthy alternatives.  I just made ribs, with mashed yams, sautéed spinach with shallots and honey glazed carrots last weekend.  What was new and unusual is that I made a broccoli coleslaw using cashew butter as the cream base instead of mayonnaise.  Everybody loved it.

Thai Lettuce Wraps

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? The unwillingness to try something new.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Openness to new things.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex- Glass ONLY!

Beer, wine or cocktail? Tequila or bust!  And, only the best.

Your favorite cookbook author? I can’t say since I don’t follow cookbooks.

Your favorite kitchen tool? An 8” chef’s knife. (Global)

Your favorite ingredient? Goat cheese and coconut milk.

Your least favorite ingredient? Soy sauce.

 Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Grate cheese ….. and dishes.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? From all regions and international cuisines, I call them component meals.  Making several different flavors and layering them on top of each other to make the perfect dish.   Imagine Sprouted Quinoa Moussaka with Bean Béchamel, or Butternut Squash Lasagna, layered with Pine Nut Ricotta, Pistachio Pesto and Sundried Tomato Puree.  I’m just making this up but you get the idea.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? None of the above.

Favorite vegetable? That’s a tough question, because I am a vegetable lover all around.

Chef you most admire? Jamie Oliver- not because of his food, but his message.

Food you like the most to eat? Totally embarrassed, but I love Mexican food. (It’s) mostly the beans —  but what can I say, it’s the ultimate comfort food.

Food you dislike the most? I’m just not into meat.   Once in a while I crave it, but really- it’s not my thing.

 How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?  Not a one.

Naked Mac and cheeese

“Naked” Macaroni & Cheese

Diana Stobo says of this recipe, “I’m a lover of rich sauces so a good, old-fashioned macaroni and cheese is at the top of my list as a decadent and delicious treat. If you like “mac and cheese” like I do, I know you will be delighted at this “Naked” version my daughter affectionately named “mac-a-faux-ni”. The butternut squash adds a bit of sweetness as well as creaminess. The macadamia nut butter and coconut milk provide a richness and the ghee gives it that buttery taste. The rest is magic.


  • 2 heaping cups of butternut squash cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 12 ounce package Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta elbows (or any gluten-free pasta of your choice).

For the topping:

  • ¼ cup walnuts, pine nuts or sunflower seeds
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper (optional)


In a 4-quart pot, prepare pasta according to package directions. Cook al dente, strain and run under cold water to immediately stop the cooking process. Pour cooled pasta back into the pot.

In a medium saucepan over the medium heat, melt ghee and gently sweat the squash, do not brown. Add sea salt and coconut milk, simmering uncovered for 10 minutes. Carefully pour hot squash into blender and add macadamia butter, nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Blend on low with the machine’s center cap lid removed to release the heat while blending. Slowly increase speed until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Pour mixture over pasta and stir.

This can be served immediately with topping sprinkled over the macaroni or baked in a 350 degree over for 15 minutes until browned.

The End. Go eat.

i8tonite: Vegetable alla Fontina

I revel going into local bookstores which sell both new and used cookbook titles. Normally, they’re independent sellers like the  historic City Lights in San Francisco,  Related imageBart’s Books in Ojai, which claims to be the largest outdoor bookstore in the world,  downtown LA’s The Last Bookstore or New York City’s The Strand. I know there are still many – limping along in some cases and others, alive and well. I’ve purchased some of my favorite cookbooks in them. For example, where else would I locate a copy – probably the last surviving — of Mary Meade’s Magic Recipes: A Cookbook for the Electric Blender written by Ruth Ellen Church? (Mary Meade was Church’s nom de plume.) The first chapter is “What is a Blender?” Another great find was Isaac Hayes’ (yes…the late musician) and his book entitled, “Cooking with Heart & Soul: Making Music in the Kitchen with Family and Friends.” That was $4.50 but on the half-price rack. (It came to $2.25.) His chapters include “Jammin’ to the Barbeque Beat” and “Over the Fire, Into the Fryer: Chicken for Sunday and Any Day.” Hayes accumulated a selection of guest recipes from stars such as Jenna Elfman (remember her?) with her Chocolate Pudding Cake and John Travolta and his scrumptious sounding, Hamburger Royale with Cheese. (Isaac Hayes was a Scientologist after all…I’m only sorry that Tom Cruise didn’t contribute his Spaghetti Carbonara.)

I’ve also unearthed classics from notable chefs such as Monday Night at Narsai’s by Narsai David and Doris Muscatine. (When originally purchased – not by me – it came with a free issue of Food & Wine Magazine. It says so on the jacket cover.) Narsai David was a chef-owner of his namesake restaurant in San Francisco. It opened in 1972 and closed in 1985. For thirteen years, it was one of the Bay Area establishments to eat expertly prepared dishes and drink beautiful wines. His cookbook encompasses international menus and cuisines like Creole, Austrian, French, Argentinian, and Polish and so on.  I have cooked from the book here and there, although the recipes are slightly dated. It features a lot of consommés and stuffed loins (beef, veal and pork).

I went to Half Price Books, Phoenix’s local cheap bookseller located on Camelback near the Arizona Biltmore – the somewhat ritzy area.  It was there I hit my pot of gold — Amanda Hesser’s New York Times Cookbook at $11.95 in pristine condition. I’ve wanted it for long time but just never purchased it. I now how it! It’s from this book which is where I found the recipe for asparagus alla fontina which I adapted to use any vegetable. Amanda Hesser states that she adapted it from former New York Times’ food writer Mimi Sheraton so this is an adaptation of an adaption. Sort of like Cinderella which was written by the Brothers Grimm and then adapted into a movie called “Cinderfella” with Jerry Lewis, which then was turned into “Ever After”, a movie produced and starring Drew Barrymore.

Vegetables (or whatever) alla Fontina


  • 1 or 2 zucchini or other summer squash (cut into half-moon shapes). Other options include cooked asparagus, peppers, onions, kale, spinach…you name it.
  • Butter
  • Fontina or gruyere (Or whatever cheese you have).
  • Parmesan, Asiago or other hard cheese.
  • Prosciutto or cold cut ham (optional, if you want…hell you can use any protein including baked tofu, seitan)
  • 3 Eggs
  • Freshly grated nutmeg….a few rubs will do.

Let’s make this puppy:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sautee whatever vegetables you are making in a couple of pats of melted unsalted butter to al dente. Don’t cook it through.
  3. Using a glass pie plate, layer the following: sautéed vegetables, protein – slivers of prosciutto, salami or seitan — and shaved fontina.
  4. Beat the three eggs and pour over the layers.
  5. Shake the pie plate so the egg is distributed evenly. Coat the top with the parmesan.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes until puffy, golden and melty and stuff.

If you have any leftover…take it with you to the park the next day and eat it with a lovely glass of rosé. Sit in the sun or underneath a shady tree. A bite of crusty bread…scrumptious.


The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: Braised Leeks in Cream and Tarragon (Kitchen Sense, Mitchell Davis)

I know that as I write this that I’m not the only person who walks into a grocery store or farmers market and says, “I want to make something I’ve never made.” Recently, it was with leeks for me. I’ve cooked leeks but always as a supporting character in pot pies, vichyssoise, and fried for decoration. Thrown into stews. Chopped for soups. Roasted with meats. However, I’ve never used a leek as the main ingredient.

In Mitchell Davis’ lovely and massive cookbook, Kitchen Sense, which we are currently cooking from for the month of May; he had a recipe for Braised Leeks in Cream and Tarragon…making the onion relative, the star of the dish. (It’s Memorial Day weekend and I’m talking about braising instead of grilling. I always did like to go against the stream. Heh.)

Besides the leeks, the cream and the tarragon, the other major ingredients are butter and white wine. Very French. Before even making it, you can imagine the taste and subtle sweetness of the leeks with the cream’s richness. (I think a really good Loire Valley sauvignon blanc or a dry Belgian, non-fruit craft beer would be a good accompaniment; a light beverage with crispness and acidity.)

Leeks at Santa Monica Farmer's Market

The methodology for making this vegetable braise is very simple but it does take a lengthy time to cook. I would make this for a holiday gathering or a dinner party when I have another item roasting in the oven. The dish is also lovely to present at a table.

Davis wants you to serve one leek per person. I feel it’s better at two leeks per person since this would be the only vegetable I’m serving; therefore, I’m doubling the recipe. If you are making the dish for two,  cut it back to four leeks. (I think you can figure that out.)

Let’s Make This Puppy: Braised Leek with Cream & Tarragon

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

8 leeks, trimmed to white with about an inch of green

1 cup of white wine

½ cup of cream

4 sprigs of tarragon leaves; chopped

1 bay leaf

Salt and white pepper for seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use some of the butter to grease a large baking dish (maybe something that goes from oven to table).

Remove the tops of the leeks, leaving one inch of the green; thoroughly, rinse the leeks in water and then cut them in half, lengthwise. Dry them on kitchen towels. (I try not to use paper towels and conserve resources….but if you must use paper towels…do so, just remember that you can purchase really inexpensive kitchen towels at your Walmart, Target, or other large discount for pennies. You can wash them as often as you want and will last you longer than your roll of paper towels.)

Place the leeks cut side down in the baking dish and pour the wine and cream over. The vegetables should be about three-fourths submerged. If not, just add a little more wine or cream. You choose. Add the bay leaf and scatter the tarragon. Season well with salt and pepper. Using the remaining butter, spot the top of the leeks. Cover tightly with aluminum foil baking for an hour and a quarter.

The leeks should be tender. If you used an oven-to-table baking dish as I recommended, just remove the bay leaf and serve.

It’s a pretty awesome dish but a little heavy with a little too much cooking time for a regular weekday meal but for a special occasion….it’s perfect!

Braised Leeks