farewell to winter salad


The sun wakes us up early with a glow that creeps in through the openings of the brown curtains, and remains throughout the day, growing brighter and warmer. A small breeze is a welcome relief on my way to work. The weather brings forth spring produce, and green is seen all around. I received some wonderful citrus this week, juicy and heavy from a long rest on the trees all winter. I gathered it along with the last fennel bulb in the refrigerator, and a can of chickpeas. In about three minutes, I had a lunch that paid tribute to the passing of winter, but was bursting with the brightness of spring.

Chickpea Salad with Orange and Fennel

chickpea salad with oranges and fennel
Ingredients (for one): 
1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 medium orange, peeled and sliced (or one large orange, half peeled and sliced, and use the other half to squeeze over the salad)
1 very small fennel bulb, or a couple of layers, sliced
one sage stem (about 20 small leaves), chop if using larger leaves of sage
1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mushroom and sage olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

1) Combine the chickpeas and fennel, toss with vinegar and olive oil. Gently incorporate your orange slices, and use some of the liquid from the bottom of the dish/bowl to soak them. You don’t want the slices to break apart, nor be drenched in oil or vinegar.
2) Add the salt, and adjust to your taste. Finish with the sage leaves, and enjoy.

Drake’s Bay Oyster Company


On a foggy Thursday, we decided to take a girls’ trip to Drake’s Bay, about an hour and a half north of San Francisco. The mission? To go to Drake’s Bay Oyster Company, without crowds around. We craved some oysters!
Of course, the fog only rested above the Bay Area, and as soon as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, all shimmered in golden sunlight. We traveled to Point Reyes first, stopping at Cowgirl Creamery, where their Red Hawk cheese was being made. We sampled, bought some hot drinks and Christmas presents, and headed to the oyster farm.
The salt had covered all the shrubs along the pathway in a pale shade of white, reminiscent of a light snowfall. With a cold wind blowing, we took to task and shucked three dozen extra small oysters (if you can believe it!), drank some fine white wine, and had cheese and crackers. The conversation flowed much better than the wine, which was knocked over once or twice by the breeze. After three hours, we packed up, and headed back to the city for some drinks to warm us up.

Oyster Picnic

Drake's Bay Oysters

Drake's Bay Panorama

homemade brunch


The sun is out, and everything seems so much warmer. A glow has fallen over the neglected garden, herbs looking more like weeds. The laundry is spread into giant piles on the bedroom floor, and I have run out of socks. None of this matters though, because I made the most delicious brunch for myself – sweet Early Girl tomatoes meet salty goat cheese. Early Girl tomatoes have a thin skin, which you can remove (or keep) when cooking, and they are pulpy, not watery. My tomatoes were so soft that the skin was easily peeled off without blanching. And the leftover sausage from last nights’ dinner was a welcome protein addition. I cooked the haufbrau sausage (from Trader Joe’s) in an apple jelly, mustard, and (slight) olive oil creamy sauce. All I was missing was a cup of orange juice.

sausage and eggs

summer salad


Where did the summer go? The dreary weather almost made me forget that others enjoyed a proper summer all along. Time elapsed, and for the majority of it, I felt tired. June through August seemed like a movie dream (including fog!) which soon clears away, but not before leaving you wondering what exactly happened. I forgot to search for Damson plums earlier, to make a modified version of sloe gin, and now they are finished for the year. Small regrets, which quickly are forgotten by the bounty that fall brings.

Summer Salad with Jam & Raspberry Vinaigrette 

summer salad

Ingredients (for two salads):
two ripe peaches
two plums
one large tomato
half of an Armenian (or English) cucumber, peeled and cut into quarters
half of a small red onion, chopped
an ear of corn, roasted or grilled
about 12-14 leaves of basil (I used Greek basil)
about 2 ounces of ricotta salata (or feta)
one tablespoon of jam (peach or berry work well)
raspberry vinaigrette (or simple vinaigrette)

1) Chop the tomato into bite sized pieces. Then drain in a colander with some salt, about 5 minutes. The juice is great for drinks.
2) Wash the fruits, and if skin is too thick, peel. You want the same size as the tomato, and I find slices are too large. Stone fruits should be able to “roll” on a cutting board by simply beginning to slice as usual, and then rolling the fruit back and forth. If cling free, your pit will come off before you know it. If the pit is clingy, cut thick slices all the way down to the pit, and you will be able to pry it off cleanly.
3) Combine the jam and raspberry vinaigrette, maybe adjusting for flavor as needed. You want a balance of sweet, with a punch!
4) Place the onion and cucumber in a bowl, pick off or cut the kernels off the corn, and toss them in too. Then add the fruit, followed by the tomato. Add the jam + vinaigrette mixture, and toss gently.
5) Top off with crumbled ricotta salata cheese, and a few leaves of basil. Sprinkle with salt, but only if needed. The ricotta salata tends to be pretty salty.

peaches in summer salad

arugula and yogurt


More than anything, I was known as a crazy mixer growing up. I would eating watermelon with ketchup, and not bat an eyelash when others gagged. Mustard with your cake, well, it’s not for everyone. I think this was the only way I knew how to try and make sense of what condiments were, or what to do with them.

A recent bunch of fresh arugula led me to experiment with how I could eat it raw. By itself, arugula is good to much on, but it does not take long before I feel kind of like a cow munching on grass. I just need a little spice, a little hint of something to elevate the delicious taste. About three fourths of the bunch through, I mean used for failed experiments, I found comfort in a dish of arugula and yogurt, topped with olive oil. It was simple, fast, and showcased the extraordinary taste of arugula the best. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the most sense, and instructions seem unnecessary, but they are below regardless.

arugula for lunch

Ingredients (for one serving):
half a small bunch, about 20 large leaves of arugula
one quarter cup of yogurt
one to two tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt

1) Thoroughly wash arugula, and either towel dry or leave out to air dry. Then chop roughly, think bite sized cuts.
2) Add yogurt to a small bowl, toss in chopped arugula, and mix thoroughly. Place on a plate, or eat in the same bowl!
3) Top with the olive oil, and add a pinch of salt.

beet and egg salad


I have a horrible habit, and I try to avoid the topic when it comes up in conversations. So this is hard too…but, here it goes – I don’t eat breakfast during the week. Hear me out though. It’s not because I have not tried, but I am not hungry first thing in the morning.I know breakfast is super important, and eating it two out of seven days is not a good compromise. But I eat a good lunch! I try to pack proteins and vegetables in large servings throughout the week. Today is no exception.

hearty lunch salad

I had some love beets from a package, and found a Pacific Rose apple in the fridge (I had never tried these before, and I love them). This is usually how things come together for lunch at home, what can I find? I thought about the two eggs that had been taking lots of space in the refrigerator, and about 10 minutes later, I had lunch.

lunch salad with eggs

Ingredients: (for one large salad – if you’re hungry like me, or two small salads)
one small bunch, or half a bunch, of red leaf lettuce
a small bunch of arugula
a generous tablespoon of dill infused olive oil (or olive oil with some chopped dill)
two to three tablespoons of yogurt (I used four tablespoons, and had a lot of leftover in the mixing bowl)
3 love beets (about 1-2 regular beets, baked or boiled)
one small apple (sweeter apples work best)
4 boiled eggs
small pinch of sweet paprika (for eggs)
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
lightly toasted sesame seeds

1) Wash lettuce and arugula, and let them air dry (if you start ahead) or dry with towels. Chop them into bite size pieces. Toss with infused olive oil and yogurt (or olive oil with chopped dill), and leave aside.
2) Cube beets and apple, bite sized pieces. Also cut eggs in half, and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Add to lettuce and arugula mixture.
3) Grind some fresh pepper, and toss the sesame seeds on top. Place in plate, and leave any additional dressing behind, as it will make the salad soggy.

PS – How can I love brunch? Easy! I usually go out for brunch, and only on the weekends.

leftovers for lunch


Please do not judge my very loose use of the term Cajun today. I was tired, I was out of ideas of what to pair with the Louisiana style sausage I had on hand, and I wanted something fast. So I threw together a “Cajun” style pasta last night with sliced bell peppers, diced onions and celery, a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic powder (my backup when I run out of regular garlic), a bay leaf, and some heavy cream. It came together in about 15 minutes (including boiling the sausage) and it was delicious last night, and even more so now that the flavors have had some time to sit with one another.

cajun style pasta with sausage

soup for lunch


Working from home makes me feel very productive when I can have split pea soup for lunch. Adapted from this recipe, which makes a really fragrant and delicious soup. The mint is optional.

split pea soup with mint


grilled chesse for lunch


Today for lunch I made myself something. Lately I have been eating leftovers or just snacking, which leads to endless munching for much longer than I want to admit. So today I made a panini-esque grilled cheese.

Just start with a slice of multi-grain bread, smother in mayo and Chinese hot mustard, then add some Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese, a thick beefsteak tomato slice, a couple of slices of avocado, and then another slice of bread that has some mayo on it and a little basil pesto. Put in waffle maker for two minutes, and voila!

And if it is a little dry, then just add a mixture of Greek yogurt and sunflower seeds. So good, beyond words. And also more uses for the waffle maker.