Butternut Squash Soup

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

This recipe was inspired by a newer addition to my cookbook collection: Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables.  I love this book (along with its accompaniment Chez Panisse Fruit) – it has become my go-to reference when I return from the farmers market with bags full of veggies and want to try something new.  The book is organized by vegetable and has mouthwatering creations that showcase each vegetable’s unique flavors and qualities.

My favorite thing about this soup is that it is not a pureed.  Don’t get me wrong: I love pureed butternut squash soup, but there is something about the texture of the squash that makes me appreciate it more.  The butternut squash is certainly the star here – all other ingredients are intended to highlight the essence of the squash.  This soup is hearty enough to be served on a cold winter night, but also elegant enough to be served in a shot glass before a dinner party.

This recipe is simple and delicious.  Let me know if you enjoy it as much as I do!


  • 2 small to medium butternut squash
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut each squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each squash half and season with salt and pepper.  Place the squash flat side down onto a baking sheet.  Place 1/4 of a garlic (in its casing) and 1/4 of the rosemary into the cavity of the squash.  Place into oven and bake for 30-50 minutes or until squash is soft.
  • When squash is done, the stock to a simmer in a pot.  Gently scoop out the inside of the squash into the simmering stock.  Add the rosemary and squeeze out the garlic from its casing into the stock as well.  Season to taste.
  • Mash the squash bits inside the soup with a large fork until the mixture is a consistent quality.  Add butter and mix in.
  • Serve.


Rustic Balsamic Potatoes

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

When looking for a fast and crowd pleasing side, I frequently turn to potatoes.  So when friends gathered at our place last weekend, I found myself wanting to dress the potatoes up without adding more prep time.  I decided to experiment with balsamic vinegar – it turns out that it gets along well with the potatoes, garlic, onions and spices in this recipe.

The idea behind this dish is to get the potatoes to a daringly dark color that toes the appearance of being burnt.  The balsamic adds an intense depth of flavor, as well as a glorious mahogany color to the plate.


  • 1 medium yellow onion (cut into large pieces)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 cup of balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • salt
  • pepper


Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine ingredients in a baking dish and toss together.  Make sure that the olive oil and butter coat the potatoes evenly.  You will probably feel like you have added far too much balsamic vinegar, but not to worry – there is a method behind the madness!  The balsamic vinegar is what gives this dish character.

Place on top rack of preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until top layer of potatoes appears very dark and almost burnt.

Remove from oven and toss.  Serve.

Wild Mushrooms and Cream Pasta

December 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

There is something about the cold winter nights that makes me want to warm up with something creamy and woodsy.  Mushrooms and cream pasta are perfect for a cozy dinner in without too much prep time.


  • 4 cups of chopped wild mushrooms (pick any combination of your favorites – chanterelles, portobellos, shiitake, crimini… I used crimini here)
  • 2 chopped shallots (or if you want a little extra punch, 1 shallot and 1 small onion, your choice)
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • papardelle egg pasta (the one I used is straight from Trader Joe’s and is AH-Mazing!)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream (don’t freak out, 1/2 a cup for the ENTIRE batch)


  • In a medium sauce pan, and using two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, saute shallots (and onion if you use it) until they become transparent.
  • Add mushrooms.  At first glance, it will seem like a ridiculous amount of mushrooms, but don’t worry because they will cook down.  Fold them in with the shallots gently and season to taste.
  • Once the mushrooms have started to release some of their water, add in the garlic.  (WARNING: your kitchen will smell incredible!).  Let this mixture sautee on a medium heat until the mushrooms have cooked down and have become soft.
  • When the mushrooms have cooked down, add the fresh parsley and let the mixture get happy for about a minute.  The goal is to allow the parsley to release some flavor, but not get overcooked.
  • Add in the heavy cream and stir for 2 minutes.  We want to the mushroom flavors to get acquainted with the cream and make one flavorful sauce.  Reseason if necessary.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Cook pasta last so that it doesn’t have a chance to sit around and stick together.  If you have to let one thing sit around longer than the other, let it be the mushrooms and sauce.
  • Combine pasta and mushrooms and serve.

Once combined, the final dish will look like this:

It was so good that it deserved a close up! 🙂

Bon apetit!

Summer Margarita Pasta

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

It is summer and luscious ripe tomatoes are piled up everywhere I turn.  Something about the ripe red tomatoes reminds me of a trip to Italy my husband and I took back when we were still dating and studying abroad.  On our gallop (literally) through Europe, we found ourselves in Naples.  Our time there was short and we were merely passing through, but we found ourselves starving and in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere in particular in the foreign city.

Let me rephrase: we were STARVING!!!! We had just taken a train in and had not seen food in at least 4 hours — I know, the horror!

If this were an ordinary day, I would insist on us walking around and finding a few restaurant options before descending on a chosen eatery.  However, in this hungry moment, we did not care where we were: the first place that would serve us would be the lucky winner of our patronage.

This was the best mistake of my life because the very first place we saw was a tiny hole-in-the-wall half restaurant / half residence with one table and two chairs in the front yard (for lack of a better word).  We ran to those two chairs like our lives depended on it.  There ended up being a legitimate waiter who gave us real menus.

The first thing we saw was “Margarita Pizza” which obviously needs no translation from the Italian.  We pointed at it and within what seemed to be the longest 20 minutes later, we were served the most AMAZING thing I have eaten to date.  I don’t care what five star restaurant you want to compare this to, but we were in heaven.

This dish always reminds me of that trip and that miraculous Napolitan Pizza Margarita.  It is my personal 15 minute homage to that experience.

You will need:

– pasta (I typically use whole wheat, but regular is great too)

– 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

– 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped

– small fresh mozzarella balls

– garlic

– olive oil

– salt and pepper to taste

Begin to prepare the pasta.  While it is boiling, combine the tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a heated and oiled skillet.  Add salt and pepper to taste and saute until the tomatoes get happy (I leave it to you to exactly determine what this means, but for me it usually happens when the skins start to gently separate from the rest of the tomatoes).

When the pasta is done, plate it and pour the tomato mixture over it.  While the tomatoes are still hot, throw on a few fresh mozarella balls – they will start to get a little soft and melty, which is divine.  Garnish with basil.

Baba Ganoush

March 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

I love baba ganoush — it is the perfect topping on some crispy bread for a nice appetizer or as a light and flavorful dip for crisps.  It also makes a great dinner side.  NOTE: this dish tastes best immediately after preparation.


–  2 medium sized eggplants

–  4-6 garlic cloves

–  4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

– salt

I like to use Trader Joe’s organic mayonnaise.  They also have a nice vegan mayonnaise, if you prefer.

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

STEP 2: Wrap each eggplant in a generously sized piece of foil.  Make sure the the ‘top’ part of the wrapped eggplant is the one where the edges meet so that the bottom has no openings for liquid to leak out.

STEP 3: Place the wrapped eggplants in the preheated oven. (I was so excited about the eggplants that the picture turned out blurry. :-))

STEP 4: Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes.  You will know the eggplants are done when they are soft and mushy when you press them with a fork.

STEP 5: When eggplants are done, take them out of oven and let them cool for a few minutes.  Once the eggplants are cool, peel off the skin using a paring knife.  (If the skin does not come off easily, this indicates the eggplants are not completely done yet.)

STEP 6: Once eggplants are peeled, cut them into 1″ pieces and put into bowl.

STEP 7: Add minced garlic, salt, and mayonnaise.  Mix together using a fork and mashing up the mixture as much as possible.  Mix into a nice mushy consistency.

STEP 8: Serve and enjoy!

WeHo Farmer’s Market Finds

March 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I recently moved from Marina del Rey to West Hollywood, so I was a little nervous and excited to visit my new West Hollywood Sunday farmers market (located on Melrose Place & Croft).  Would the selection be as great as it was at the Main St. market in Santa Monica?  Would the veggies be as fresh?  The wait was making me very excited!

Alas, Sunday morning I walked on over to the market — it was small with far fewer vendors than the Main St. one, but the selection was great!  I could not be happier.  The fact that it was small only made it easier to get in and out very quickly without wading through the typical crowd in Santa Monica.

Here are my finds from this week’s market trip:

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