Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fries On The Side - Season 8!

I've been a writer and cast member for a sketch comedy show here in LA for six years. The group is called 'Fries On The Side' and it's just basically some of the most fun I've ever had on stage. The show has been going on for 8 seasons, and some of the highlights have included; traveling to Chicago and tearing up the Sketch Festival, opening for Dana Carvey at the SF Sketch Fest and a huge season 6 opening at the Henry Fonda Music Box with Garret Morris (original SNL cast member) as our host.

It all starts again tonight...

There will be puppets people. Puppets!

Weekend Beauties

Thought I'd share, the prettiest flowers I've ever put in my kitchen.

Spending the day getting ready for this and happy for the floral company.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ovi Shoot

I did this Ovi shoot with the husband and the great Alec McNayr and Alan Beard last month and thought I'd share. Yes, it's the same shirt that I've got in my profile shot. Hey, it's a good shirt.

To answer your question, no, the husband is much smarter than that in real life. More to come...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Trash 6 Layer Dip

Remember when 'White Trash' parties were popular? If you missed out on that early 2000's trend, it was basically a night of bad beer, ambrosia salad, and "I love my sister" t-shirts. It had it's moment and was fun while it lasted. The one thing that I took away from these festivities (aside from my hatred of Ding Dongs) was this 6 layer dip recipe. I hate to say this, but I love it, like kids love McDonald's, that's how much I love this. I don't even remember if I was the one who came up with it or not, but I'll just give myself credit because I can.

It's so fast and easy it's embarrassing. It requires no cooking and almost everything is premade and prepackaged (this is the one and only time I will say that). Plus, I've never seen leftovers with this, so I think it will fare well at your next Summer BBQ (especially if you invite me). Now yes, it's true, I have tried the 'all home made' version of this and yes it was better but if you are going to go to all that trouble, make something with filo and blue cheese, not a trashy, anglo, pseudo-Mexican dip that makes you want to put your face in it.

6-Layer Dip
9 inch square pan
One can of refried beans
One small container of sour cream (a little more than a cup)
One bottle of your favorite salsa (about a cup)
Two avocados
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of garlic powder
Shredded Mexican cheese (a little more than a cup)
3 Green onions

Let's do this...
Spread the beans on the bottom of the dish (I use the salsa ones fro Trader Joe's)

Mash up 2 avocados with salt and a dash of garlic powder and spread it on top of the beans.

Pour salsa over the top of the avo and beans. Not too much, look on the sides if your pan is glass and gauge even layers.

Add sour cream to the salsa. This is hard, it's best to start with dollops all over that you spread around instead of one big blob.

Sprinkle with grated Mexican cheese.

Chop up a couple onions for the top so it looks sort of fancy.

Eat the dip with a few bags of good chips, I like the blue corn ones, but if we are going totally W.T., I saw a lot of people eating them with Frito's. Whatever, it's good don't judge me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Milk Glass

I collect Milk Glass. I have over 60 pieces. It's almost hoarding for sure. Not sure what it is about thrift store milk glass that does it for me but I just adore the stuff. Maybe it's the granny-style and the nostalgia it evokes or maybe it's because it makes daisies from the garden look like a bridal bouquet. You just can't get any better than what is sitting in my bathroom right now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oatmeal, Maple, Pecan Cookies With Chocolate Chips

A favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, everyone has one. I have to admit, I love the one that I'm about to give you the most. I've made this recipe 100 times. That being said, I'm still partial to the one on the back of the Tollhouse bag too. It's so classic. I remember when my old roommate Robin used to get packages in the mail from her Grandmother. They were filled with dozens of Tollhouse cookies. We'd keep them in Ziplock gallon-bags in the freezer and whenever we needed a little treat or a little bit of Grandmotherly love, we'd sneak a few of her crunchy frozen cookies with a big glass of milk. They were wonderful.

Robin's Grandmother passed away last month and through her tears, Robin and I talked about her Grandmother's cookies and what a beautiful expression of love they were. It made me want to bake. An homage to a woman, I'd never met in person, but whose love of baking and family kept us feeling nurtured and considered, even when we were far away, in a big city, with no immediate family in sight. There is something about a good cookie, that just transmits love. So with that, this is for you...

Oatmeal, Maple, Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven at 350 degrees

1 C Flour
2 C Oats (Not the quick kind)
1/2 C Chopped Pecans (large chop)
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/4 t Salt
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/4 C Maple Syrup
1 t Vanilla Extract
1/2 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats and pecans in a bowl and mix together with a fork.

In a mixer combine brown sugar, white sugar and room temperature butter.

Cream until fluffy.

Add the egg and beat until fluffy.

Drizzle in vanilla and maple syrup.

Turn down the mixer and slowly add in dry ingredients that you already set aside.

Once it's all Incorporated turn the mixer off and add the chocolate chips. Mix for just a moment until chips are evenly spread through out the mixture.

Drop golf ball sized cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Cook for approximately 10 minutes, if your oven cooks unevenly, you can turn the tray half way through baking.

Eat these right away or not. They keep for a few days to a week. They freeze well too. My favorite way to eat them is to sandwich them with a great big scoop of vanilla ice cream in between, wrap them in wax paper and pop them in the freezer.

Not for the calorie conscious, but definitely for that fantastic indulgence when you need a little Grandmotherly-love.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dorien's Balsamic Dressing

I make this all the time. It's wonderful. It's actually sort of hard for me to give this recipe up... there I said it.

Dorien's Balsamic Dressing

1 Clove Garlic
1/4 C Good Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 T Dijon Mustard
1/2 T Brown Sugar
1/2 t Dried Oregano
1/2 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

I have an immersion blender. It's my #2 favorite kitchen gadget. I've had it for years, I think it was a gift but I honestly don't remember. I use this for all my salad dressings. If you don't have one, you can use a blender but you will have to double the recipe. If you don't have a blender either, you can use a whisk or a fork but you will have to squeeze the garlic through a press.

So all you do is place the first 5 ingredients into the blender or the immersion blender-cup turn the blender on and slowly add in the olive oil until the viscosity is nice and thick. Then add salt and pepper to taste.
I'm regretting this. Sigh...

Beet And Citrus Sunshine Salad

Lets just start off by saying, that when I made this for the 4th of July, it was inhaled. This salad is the single greatest thing that I have ever made with beets and it's perfect for hot summer days like today. Plus, it will make you look like you know what you're doing even when you stole the recipe from me and I never know what's going on.

Beet And Citrus Sunshine Salad

3 Large Cooked Beets
4 Large oranges
1 Large log of chevre (goat cheese)
1 C of fresh mint leaves
1 Batch of Dorien's Balsamic Dressing

Let's do this

Cut the skin off the oranges.

Slice oranges into thick slices (1/4 inch), cleaning out seeds as you go.

Slice beets a little bit thinner than the oranges.

Alternate the oranges and beets on a serving plate or individual salad plates. Now here's the trick for this, use your right hand for the beets and your left hand for the oranges exclusively. Otherwise, the oranges will get pink fingerprints on them. Nobody, no matter how much they love you, wants to look at your fingerprints in their food. If they say otherwise they are lying.

Drizzle with Dorien's Balsamic Dressing, then top with crumbled chevre and chopped mint leaves.

I'm so mad right now that I ate this already.

One Way To Cook A Beet

I didn't learn to love beets until I was in my 20s. The fear of red pee, scared me out of trying them for most of my life. After college I was a starving actress in LA and I worked at a wonderful four star restaurant on the beach. The beet salad there was one of the most popular items on the menu. It seemed so strange to me that someone would spend $18 on a dirt-tasting, red pee-making, pile of roots. After a while, I just broke down. Not sure what did it exactly. Maybe the kitchen staff made one too many and gave me one for lunch, or maybe I couldn't get a break and starving was given one by a manager. I don't remember, but eventually I ate a beet salad... and I loved it.

Preparing beets seems daunting. Until recently, I would occasionally buy the pre-boiled ones from Trader Joe's but I never really cooked them myself. Last year, my neighbor Mary and I started to share a weekly CSA box, and I was faced with a pile of raw beets. A massive pile. Mary, not being a fan of beets, gave me even more. I think she cleverly hid a few in a desert. But I, cooked them all and got really damn good at it.

Since, the farmer's markets are filled with beautiful red and gold beets right now, here's one way to cook a beet....

Cut off the tops and tips of the beets (btw, this entire process resembles a murder scene).

Place beets in a large pot of water.

Turn heat on and boil the beets until fork tender.

Drain beets and let cool.

When beets are room temp, put some olive oil in your hands.

Coat your hands with the olive oil (this will keep the red stain from really sinking into your skin).

push the skin off of the beets with your thumbs. It will slide off easily.


Put these in a Tupperware and refrigerate until you need them.

I washed my hands three times until this came off.

My next blog is about the best beet salad in history. Stay tuned...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sweet Tea & A Grownup Arnold Palmer

Since I began my exploits into the realm of mixology, I've had tons of leftover Lavender Simple Syrup. It's also been hotter than balls so I made this...

Dorien's Sweet Tea
8 C boiling water
2 Lipton Iced Tea Brew Tea Bags
A handfull of mint
Lavender simple syrup to taste

Boil the water and steep tea for 5 minutes, throw mint in while it's hot and let it cool on your stove. Transfer to a pitcher and into the fridge when it's tepid. You can sweeten the tea after it cools or while it's hot (the syrup dissolves regardless). It's so simple but so refreshing when all you want to do is take a nap in your refrigerator. Alright, now for the doozie, on the 4th of July we modified this recipe and made these...

Grown Up Arlonld Palmers
1 part vodka
3 parts "Dorien's Sweet Tea"
1 part lemonade

Good luck with that. Happy Friday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kumquat & Lavender Gin Rickey ('The Mouth Party')

Last weekend, I won (barely) the 2010 Lake Hume Conquistador's Original Drink Contest. That sounds a lot more official than it really is. Basically what it means is that I now have a crystal moose on my fridge.
He needs to be mounted and engraved but for now, he's just a freestyle moose, hagnin' out with the booze.

I kid you not, there were some really, really good drinks made on this camping trip. One couple, boiled pine cones in lemonade chilled it and served it like a Gin and Juice. One drink had pine liqueur, another made fresh grapefruit juice, another made one called 'Gone Swedish Fishing" with lingonberry syrup and a Swedish fish floating at the bottom of the glass. All were super tasty. The one that I voted for and tied with was a muddled drink that had mint, lime, cucumber, gin and ginger beer. We won in a tie breaker but we probably should have just tied. That drink was awesome. I'm going to try to get the recipe to share with you because I really want to make it again. Until then, here's what I made...

"The Mouth Party"

2 (750ml) bottles of Tanqueray Gin
1 lb of kumquats (approximately enough to fill a strawberry basket)
One big jar

-Lavender Simple Syrup
1 T culinary lavender
2 c refined white sugar
1 c water

Limes, oranges, grapefruit, lemons (a combo of any, or all mixed together)
sparkling water

For The Gin
2 of these.
Take the kumquats and wash and quarter them all. Then peel back the meat and discard into your compost. The skin on a kumquat is much much sweeter than the meat inside. You can leave it on but it will make your Gin very bitter.
It should look like this.
Add the gin to the kumquats and let the citrus flavor sink into the gin.
I eventually filled this jar to the top with gin. Also, make sure your jar is airtight. Find it a home on the counter or in a cabinet (not in the fridge) and leave it alone for 2 + months.

For The Lavender Simple Syrup
(make a few days before you drink the cocktail)
Add sugar and water in a sauce pan
Culinary lavender can be purchased at a specialty store, online or at a local farmer's market. Don't cook with the sachet kind please.
Add lavender to sauce pan.
Simmer on medium heat until sugar is melted, and mixture is the consistency of maple syrup.
Let the syrup cool and strain off lavender buds.
I put it in the fridge in a $2 squeeze bottle from the restaurant supply store. Otherwise it gets messy.

Mixing The Cocktail

1 part citrus juice (any are good, I use lemons and limes the most)
1 part lavender simple syrup
2 parts Kumquat Gin
4 parts sparkling water

Gently shake it up (beware of the soda explosion), put a little syrup on a plate and rim the glass with it then garnish with a wedge of citrus or a sprig of fresh lavender (I didn't have any). It's like a really complex grownup lemonade. So, so good.

I only had one, I swear.