It comes as no surprise, but Fiona has become obsessed with Easter eggs. All she has wanted to do this week is decorate eggs while boasting about how the Easter Bunny is going to bring her all sorts of chocolate eggs, gummy eggs, and other egg-related candy. Strangely, I don’t ever remember having a talk about the Easter Bunny, nor all the sweets she’ll apparently soon be consuming. Sounds like Mom must be involved . . . needless to say, the girl loves her eggs; whether sweet, or savory like these beauties here! These particular eggs are inspired by a visit to Octavia across the bay in San Francisco. They prepared a dish that they simply call “deviled eggs”, and it was one of the best bites of the evening. Octavia serves their eggs whole, atop a Fresno chile relish (yum!!). Instead, we halved our soft boiled eggs and served them atop a spread of labneh – similar to çilbir. The Aleppo chile/spice blend isn’t truly spicy, but definitely bursting with flavor. The perfect dish for brunch, or well, any time of day, really! My little Fiona would be proud 🙂
Full disclosure, I don’t like cooked carrots. Well, to be more accurate, I used to really hate cooked carrots and I’ve warmed up to them over the years ever since I realized what I actually don’t like are overcooked mushy carrots– bleh! They also are the kind of veggie that needs a lot of help. There’s really nothing worse in my opinion than plain steamed or boiled carrots. I actually stumbled upon this recipe after being so sick of my go-to roasted veggies. I couldn’t make roasted cauliflower AGAIN! So I just used the same seasoning but on carrots instead and, to my surprise, loved them! These carrots are coated in ras al hanout, which is a Moroccan spice blend. Every spice brand has their own recipe but ras al hanout typically contains cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon among many other spices– the cinnamon in the ras al hanout goes really well with the sweet carrots. I’ve served mine with some creamy labneh and topped them off with some dried rose petals and pistachios. I mean how gorgeous will this look on your spring-inspired Easter table? Just saying . . .
It feels wonderful to finally settle into our new house. Fiona has her own bedroom, and is no longer crammed inside our walk-in closet. We purchased a new kitchen island, which has quickly become the featured attraction, also known as Audrey and Fiona’s baking zone. Our bedroom gets a incredible amount of natural light! It has a rather odd layout – measuring only 7 feet wide, but also spanning the entire the length of the house! It’s normal to have a giant home bar setup and photography studio at one end of your bedroom, right? Great, just making sure. Our new yard is full of lush vegetation, complete with magnolia tree, lemon tree, blueberry bushes, and several vegetable beds ripe for planting. This past weekend we even managed to take advantage of the nice weather, and hosted a few friends and family for a barbecue. As usual, the margaritas were flowing! We kept with the grilling theme, and mixed up a batch of High Plains Margaritas, created by bartender Shaun Gordon of Atlanta, GA – a lovely combo of grilled pineapple, sage, and fresh citrus. The smokiness of the charred pineapple pairs beautifully with the freshly muddled sage; the sharpness of the citrus balances the sweet orange flavors of the Patrón Citrónge; all of which mingle delightfully with the Patrón Silver . . . I was in my happy place. 🙂
If this recipe entices you, well you’re not alone. The High Plains Margarita has been nominated for Patrón’s Margarita of the Year competition!! That’s right, Patrón searched the globe for seven delicious margarita recipes, which are all now battling head-to-head for the right to be called Margarita of the Year. The best part is that YOU get a chance to vote for your favorite (hint, hint, High Plains Margarita . . . 😉 😉 )! Annnd I’m proud to say that as of this writing, the High Plains Margarita is in the lead!! If you too agree that sipping this deliciously smoky, herbaceous cocktail while gathered around the grill with friends sounds heavenly, then help it secure victory by voting now! Or, you can vote on Instagram or Twitter by using the hashtag: #HighPlainsMargarita. And remember, the perfect way to enjoy Patrón is responsibly.
Weekday meals are a constant struggle– you want to make something that is relatively healthy but quick and easy. Well, collard green wraps to the rescue! If you’re looking for a meal that makes for great left overs the next day, this is it. You can easily scale this recipe to make a lot of wraps. You know how much I love a recipe that is flexible too and you can definitely riff on this one. I’ve made this with my favorite combination of ingredients, but you can always swap them for whatever you have around. The key is to use a good mix of fresh vegetables that have good crunch and texture and proteins. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finally make collard green wraps but I’ve made them 3 or 4 times in the last month, they’re that good– and good for you!
I owe every ounce of my obsession with Persian food to my best friend’s mom, who is one of the most amazing cooks I’ve ever met. She introduced me to a world of saffron, dried limes, sumac, kashk, rose water . . . so many ingredients and spices that I just love. I’m sure everyone says their mom is the best cook, but in this case, Noushi is really something else. On Friday nights, she opens her house to anyone and everyone for an Persian food feast– sometimes she’ll whip up dinner for 30 some people. We typically gorge ourselves on the piles of fresh sangak and all the French feta, yogurt, fresh herbs and fruits that are beautifully displayed in her kitchen. But, we always somehow manage to squeeze down the mounds of stews and perfectly jeweled rice for dinner. If you haven’t noticed on YUM, we’re pretty big fans cheese platters and I thought why not do change up the classic western cheese platter for this Persian one? It is so so good and easy to create– the key is having fresh herbs and bread (Tip, if you’re in Orange County, you are in luck because Wholesome Choice makes fresh sangak, so warm, fresh and chewy, you’re only allowed to buy two at a time!) You may not be able to find all these ingredients as some are pretty unique, like French feta and lemon basil, but you can create your own riff on this with whatever you can find. The only two things I insist on are French feta (yes, not all feta is Greek and there is a huge difference) and using whole fat yogurt in the cucumber-mint yogurt. I hope you become just as obsessed with these flavors as much as I am!
A bit of good news to start the day: after 6 years in our cozy West Berkeley home, we finally moved! Don’t worry local friends, we’re still in Berkeley, in fact, just a few blocks up the road. I haven’t really mentioned it here on the blog, but for months we’d been experiencing some issues with our landlord. I’ll leave it at that, but needless to say, we were in desperate need of some new digs. Those of you familiar with the housing market here in the Bay Area know that it isn’t the most affordable place in the world – especially if you have a rapidly growing 2-year-old, a 70 lb. dog, and need a photography space. So after months of searching, we finally found a new place to call home. It turns out that it was perfect timing, because when the opportunity surfaced to collaborate with Jameson Whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day, I was in full celebration mode! I’m beyond excited to share TWO NEW RECIPES with you today! First, the Green & Black cocktail, made with Jameson Black Barrel. The warm, nutty, spiced notes of the whiskey go perfect with the dry Amontillado sherry, tart green apple, and burnt sugar syrup. They’re exactly the flavors I’m looking for this time of year, as we transition from winter to spring. Next, our Irish whiskey-glazed spiced nuts recipe, made with Jameson Caskmates. After spending some time in stout-seasoned casks, the chocolate and butterscotch notes of the Caskmates are apparent, and divine. Without hesitation, I rounded up a group of friends (aka moving buddies) and shared this bountiful ploughman’s platter full of Irish cheese, meats, and all the fixings. After all, what better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than with good food, good whiskey, and those you love the most! Sláinte!!