Category Archives: side dish

a perfect balance: summer quinoa salad – chinese eggplant, sweet corn, red onion, & toasted almond

summer quinoa salad with chinese eggplant, sweet corn, red onion, and toasted almonds

Clearly I’m jumping the gun here a bit on “Summer,” but I’ve got a racer-back tan-line seared between my shoulders and the imprint of (my favorite) teeny-tiny wedge sandals emblazoned on the tops of my bare feet, so I can’t be that far off in my seasonal labeling, right?

chinese eggplant from the farmers market

They keep telling me that “it’s never like this;” they being those more seasoned San Franciscans than I, and this being the exceptionally perfect seventy-five-and-no-cloud-in-the-sky weather we’ve been having straight up on the reg.  I know I keep saying it, but there’s been some killer days here; the kind that make me actually excited for the in-betweens when the fog rolls in, and for that perfect time of evening when the eerie echo of the foghorn picks up at dusk.

fresh summer corn right off the cob

We had barely even fifteen minutes indoors this past weekend, with Saturday enjoyed posted up at picnic tables and grilling oysters with friends at Tomales Bay, and Sunday spent having our first taste of Bay to Breakers, an annual road race that seems to be much less about the race and much more about who can wear the most ridiculous costume.  (And…ahem…about lots of random naked people.  Being naked in public is a big thing here, folks.)

chinese eggplant ready to roast

Though sweet corn and eggplant are two things I associate more with July and August, I found both at the farmer’s market last week, and therefore – Summer, shes’a close.

taking the bite out of some red onion

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sum of it’s parts: roasted cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce

roasted cauliflower with lemon tahini sauce and sesame seeds -

Roasted cauliflower….again?

cauliflower florets chopped up and ready to be roasted

I know. It’s boring, it’s bland, it’s the last man standing on the sad veggie tray in the corner, always.

“Caulifower is my favorite vegetable” said no one, ever.

I know all of this.


And yet I’m still forcing cauliflower recipes upon you! What can I say….I’m sadistic like that.

black and white sesame seeds, for flavor and color

Truthfully I’ve been making cauliflower a lot around here lately. I’d say it’s in season, but I don’t think it is for most of the country – apparently, in California, everything is in season all the time. (I tell ya – it’s really rough living here.) So I’ve been scooping it on Sundays from the Fort Mason Farmer’s market, and trying to use it’s meatiness in vegetarian dishes that need a little bulking up. I’ve roasted it in thick slices like steak, tossed it with arugula and shaved parmesan, and even dusted it with cumin and tucked it into tiny corn tacos – perhaps my favorite thus far, actually.

lemons from a friend's garden

But after overzealously purchasing three heads last week, I had cauliflower-mental-block. I was perfectly fine slicing up the florets and roasting them (yet again….), but was looking for a simple spin that would fool us into thinking we had something other than roasted cauliflower on the side of our plates. Again.

crispy cauli!

By the power that is Google, a quick search returned a deceptively simple recipe for my same roasted cauliflower equation only doctored up with a quick pan sauce of garlic, tahini, and lemon. I should mention I’ve not only been on a cauli-kick as of late, but am also in the midst of a mean homemade hummus streak (that’s normal, right?), so given the fact I had about a gallon of tahini in the fridge and a sun-ripened lemon freshly picked from a friend’s yard right here in the city, this cauliflower just had to be made.

{but wait! there’s more…}

even better, at home: smashed lemon, rosemary, and garlic potatoes

smashed lemon rosemary and garlic potatoes

One of our favorite places to snag a quick bite in Boulder was a restaurant tucked in on West Pearl called The Kitchen Next Door. Besides having a great assortment of healthy-ish lunch vittles, service there was lightning fast, and you barely had time to take a sip of your frosty Apricot Drydock before plates of delicious food were being whisked over and plunked in front of you.

baby yukon gold potatoes, sliced in half

It was hardly “fast food,” serving all organic produce and meats from Colorado local farms, but it was good food fast – quite the difference, as it is. Though most days I would stick to my guns and get a quinoa salad, bowl of tomato soup, or their fabulous (and on my list to re-create very soon) beet burger, if there was any chink in my lunchtime-willpower at all, a heaping pile of their fabulous garlic smashers would inevitably land at our table.

(Hey! Who ordered these?)

fresh rosemary from the garden

Not that anyone minded.  The garlic smashers were divine – little bits and pieces of potato that were fluffy on the inside and crispy like a french fry on the outside, doused in an herby garlicky sauce, and served with a ramekin of house-made ketchup.  There was absolutely nothing about them that could possibly bring any nutritional value to the table (unless, of course, you count the tomatoes in the ketchup…I’m counting them), but their deep fried loveliness did wonders for a hangover, and without fail there would nary be a single speck left on the plate.

sliced garlic - superthin, on a mandolin

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easy but good: broccoli (they’ll actually want to eat) with chili flake, lemon, and garlic

broccoli they'll actually want to eat, roasted up with garlic, chili, and fresh lemon

When I sheepishly tell someone that I write a blog focused mainly on food and cooking, the inevitable next question is if I blog everything I cook or make to eat.

I think (hope?) you know that the answer is definitely not.

organic broccoli crown

It’s a totally valid question – there are a lot of “food bloggers”* out there who make it their prerogative to document each and every morsel that goes in their mouth – but unfortunately, if you saw a good majority of the things that I call “Dinner” around here, quite frankly, you might never come back again.

*Can we agree that the label ‘food blogger’ makes one sound like the most annoying human being, ever? File it right up there with “Foodie.”

broccoli stems peeled and ready to be cut

I’ve been known to consider a bowl of cinnamon puffins and almond milk a fine supper (with sliced strawberries if I’m feelin’ real fancy), and while James needs decidedly more structure when it comes to the last meal of the day, he never winges or whines when I present him with a bowl of reheated leftovers over toast gussied up with some hot sauce, or even when I freak out over the half-full odds and ends in our refrigerator and/or freezer, and present him with a “tofu-scramble-surprise.”

slivered broccoli stems

I gotta be honest with you though, my tofu-scramble-surprises aren’t half bad.


broccoli florets

So no, I do not snap pictures and write about everything I cook. Sometimes because those things barely constitute a meal, and sometimes because I think what I am making is so simple and straightforward it’s boring. Like this broccoli. This broccoli shows up at our table at least every couple of weeks, because it’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s cheap, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s super tasty. It’s just roasted broccoli though – just that vegetable that everyone loves to hate, and just the type of barely-even-a-recipe thing I’m sure you don’t want to hear about.

{but wait! there’s more…}

lazy who?: orange – miso glazed brussels sprouts with toasted pine nuts

orange-miso glazed brussels sprouts with pine nuts

As much as I’d like to think I’ve kicked some of the less fortunate habits of my childhood (a bedroom that resembled a barnyard being one of them, and the socially distressing dis-ability to execute even one proper pull-up during the Presidential Fitness Test not being one….so what?), procrastination is one stubborn little thing that always manages to seep up around my life’s seams, in one manifestation or another.

a pound of brussels sprouts, quartered

Of course, I’m not perfect, and neither, I suspect, are you – we all put off those little annoying things that tend to pop up relentlessly, whack-a-mole-style, and though I’m definitely not putting off any Science projects till the last night….at 9:30 PM (I’m still sorry for those, Mom!), I do stubbornly wait to do certain things till the last second.

squeezing the citrus

Like changing my name on my passport to match all of the other legal identification items I have that reflect my new, married, name. Who needs to bother with that? Not this girl….well, not till her dear sweet and understanding husband smiles politely as I fork over the extra $60 expedition fee in order to have the proper documentation to procure a California driver’s license while, you know, I’m like driving around in California. It’s not like I’ve had that long to deal with it……just eighteen-months….(cough)…..

a quarter cup of pine nuts

And then smaller more inane things, like making these brussels sprouts back when we were still living high in the Rockies with snow on the ground. Back when citrus was still really in season (ummm….in January sometime, me thinks?), and brussels sprouts weren’t nearing their end at the markets. The further we got away from that time the more I kept reminding myself to tell you about these miso-glazed sprouts – because they are really good. Great even.

{but wait! there’s more…}