There was something about living in New York City that made it effortless to spontaneously frequent the theater for a weekend matinee or a late midweek showing. Since I moved back to California a few years ago, going to the movies has been a treat few and far between. Life is also a bit more occupied these days. But that doesn’t mean I don’t eagerly anticipate award season year after year. The holidays is when I start catching up on all the buzz worthy films, binging from the comfort of my own couch or if I’m lucky, watching on the big screen – babysitter permitting. After all, I need to take part in the debate on whether or not Leo will finally take home the golden statue! When the Oscars roll around, I’m ready to roll out the red carpet for my movie loving friends by creating an easy to assemble spread of buttered popcorn, classic movie theater candy, champagne and a crowd pleasing charcuterie platter filled with a wide selection of cured meats, artisan crackers, nuts and dried fruit, black cherry jam, and of course, Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese. How’s that for Best Spread?
I’m not sure why banana bread is one of those recipes that I always think of as ordinary and unforgettable. Perhaps because it’s a simple recipe to make and hard to screw up? It’s one of those things that my mom, who is not a baker, will ask me how to make once every two or three years when she’s feeling adventurous in the kitchen. But, every time I have a good slice of banana bread I remember how much I really love it. It’s insanely moist, has a natural sweet banana flavor and that dense and thick pound-cake like crust around the edge that I can’t resist. Why aren’t I making banana bread more often?! Well, when I saw this banana tahini bread recipe on Bon Appetite from the New York coffee shop and luncheonette, El Rey, I knew I had to give this twist on banana bread a try. Instead of using tahini, which is white sesame seed paste, I decided to use black sesame paste, a flavor that I am totally and completely obsessed with (I’m talking to you, black sesame ice cream). Black sesame paste is not widely available, but it is very easy to make a paste out of black sesame seeds, which are available at any Japanese or Asian market. It is hard to describe the flavor of black sesame paste but it reminds me of a more fragrant and roasted peanut butter– a perfect combination with banana. If you haven’t had banana bread in a long time and are generally indifferent about it, give this recipe a try. You are going to love it!
I love a good breakfast burrito, but I’m all about the breakfast taco! I don’t know when I started substituting bread with tortillas for breakfast, but the combo works so well. Today, I’m sharing two different breakfast taco combos: a scrambled egg, chorizo taco topped with roasted tomatillo salsa and queso fresco and a steak and eggs taco topped with a cilantro chimichurri and quick pickled red onions. These are a couple of my favorite combinations but you could go any direction you’d like with your breakfast taco. The only thing I insist on is toasting your tortillas over a flame before serving the tacos (a must if you are using store bought tortillas!).
Valentine’s Day is a bit different with a toddler in the house. Any/all romantic candlelit dinners have been replaced by wrestling matches on the living room floor – the three of us feasting from Fiona’s lunchbox, while Grizzly circles for scraps. I suppose there is one thing that hasn’t changed . . . Audrey and I will enjoy a cocktail or two. In fact, it will surely feel more deserved than years past. Have I mentioned that I think my daughter is part howler monkey?? Anyway, this year’s cocktail was inspired by our honeymoon in Kauai. We’d picked up a few bottles of passion fruit syrup from Aunty Liliko’i. We basically put it on/in everything, from salad dressings to cocktails. Well, that was over five years ago and I’ve long since run out of the stuff. So when I realized that Jennifer Colliau released her own passion fruit syrup, I grabbed a whole case of the stuff! Still, after coming up with this recipe I might be going back for more sooner rather than later. The sweet and tangy tropical flavors are complemented perfectly by the Gran Classico Bitter. Truly one special little cocktail for one special little lady. I hope you give it a try!
I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day and all instances of commercialized love for that matter (which is ironic considering I’m in the midst of planning my own wedding!). Part of me thinks the pressure of having to do a fancy dinner, chocolates, flowers and champagne is such a scam (okay, maybe not the champagne part) and the other part of me really appreciates the idea of celebrating love and spending quality time with your loved one. And then a small part of me just loves cute heart-shaped things, like these conversation cookies! These are not only deliciously buttery but so cute. If you’re someone who is planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day but wanting to give your loved one a meaningful and original gift, these shortbread conversation cookies are it. Get creative with these and make a love message of your own!
Ah Super Bowl Sunday– an anything goes food day! This fried chicken sandwich was inspired by my love for buffalo wings, the sauce for which is much easier to make than you’d think. It’s a mixture of Frank’s RedHot sauce and butter that is coated over a fried chicken wing. I marinated the chicken breast in a mixture of buttermilk and Frank’s and top the sandwich off with a little more Frank’s. The soak in the buttermilk tenderizes the chicken and keeps it moist and tender. The best part of this sandwich is just love how crunchy and crispy the breading turned out. Adding a bit of buttermilk and hot sauce to the dredging flour gives you those crunchy salty fried nook and crannies that are the highlight of fried chicken. The whole thing comes together on a buttered brioche slathered in a blue cheese mayo and topped with a tangy carrot and celery slaw. You will love the texture and flavors of this fried chicken sandwich!