Thursday, May 31, 2012


This weekend, buy some buttermilk and some heavy cream. Find a large glass jar. Fill it halfway up with heavy cream. Add half again as much buttermilk. Stir. (Recipe note: 2 parts heavy cream to 1 part buttermilk. There was some confusion.)

Let it fester at room temperature. All weekend. Without a lid. Leave it in your windowsill or next to your stove or on your kitchen table. If there are any kids around, give them the job of stirring it a few times a day. And tasting it.

It will thicken. It will start to make your mouth pucker. Take it further than you think you should (in hot and humid weather, the souring process can happen very quickly so be vigilant). When you're pleased with the flavor, cover and store it in the fridge.

I'll be back next week with a few things to do with your crème fraiche. But you need to make some first. And it takes a few days.

(A few of my crème fraiche Instagram photos so you can see what's coming...)

Thursday, May 10, 2012


He hovers around the bedside table, takes a sip of my water, spills it all over the books, tries to wipe up the mess with his pajama top, opens the shutters, run run run flings himself into my bed, walks around my head, steps on my hair, slips and catches himself on my forehead, shakes and pokes his daddy, gives up, slides underneath the covers, sighs and hums and sings, whispers a poem about the moon and knights and guns and the big blue sky, suctions himself onto me like a big warm leach, presses his forehead into mine, allows me to massage his earlobes, exhales his sour morning breath into my face, and starts whispering into my ear.

Mama mama mama hi mama hi good morning.

No Dash no no please go away.

But mama it is so zen in your bed 

So just close your eyes and be still.

But is it that time you know the time when I can come into your bed and still get a sticker for not getting into your bed in the night.

Dashi six in the morning is questionable.

Mama you have bad breath.

Maybe from all the pea pesto I've been eating.

Mama let's go make your coffee. 

Yes let's.

He finds the coffee cone, helps drag out the Cuisinart, asks what's so great about coffee, raises his eyebrows as I slowly lick a spoonful of Nutella, watches me blanch peas and parsley and kale and mint and sage, listens to the garlic popping in the oil, presses pause on the Beastie Boys song and says I know that guy died but that crazy music gives me a headache, nicks his finger while grating the cheese, picks a lemon, lets me listen to one more Beastie Boys song in exchange for five minutes playing Plants vs. Zombies, asks me to define the word addiction, sets the table, wakes up his daddy, wakes up his Bella, picks up my phone and announces I'll do your job and take photos of the pea pesto so why  don't you just sit down mama.
Around this time last year, I posted about pea shoot pesto. I just checked out the recipe. I like it but it's quite specific and leaves very little room for play. This recipe is all about experimenting. And it's also very good for kids because they can come up with their own combinations.

I'm calling this pea pesto but it really should be called green pesto. Almost anything in your fridge that's green can go in. I like peas but I'm not in love with them so it helps to have a few other vegetables and herbs in the pesto to mellow out the pea flavor. Amounts in the recipe below are approximate. The fun part about making pesto is that it's different every time and you taste as you go along. You get to decide which flavor dominates. For lamb or steak I would crank up the garlic flavor. For pasta add extra peas/greens because you can sprinkle on cheese at the end. For pizza I would probably do extra salty and cheesy.

1. It needs more salt and acid (sherry wine vinegar, lemon) than you think. Keep adding. Keep tasting.
2. It's easier to integrate all the components when the nuts and vegetables are warm.
3. Garlic confit and its oil are kick ass additions (also great to look at on top).
4. Add fresh herbs (parsley, mint, basil, sage) by blanching them in the salty water when the peas are almost done cooking.
5. Blanch kale or chard stems in salty water and add to the pesto, just make sure to pulverize well. I've been keeping a bag of vegetable scraps in the fridge and it all goes into my pesto.
6. Almonds with skins on add nice texture and flavor.
7. Add a half a stick of sweet butter to the warm pesto. Motherfreakingfrackingyum.
8. Make the pesto in the morning and leave it out all day. Don't firm it up by placing it in the fridge. Just cover the top with a little bit of olive oil. Make cheddar and pesto grilled cheese sandwiches, ricotta and pesto-filled crepes, scoop a spoonful into half an avocado, add it to your salad dressing, just have it around as a general snack.
9. It turns an odd color when baked, but pea pesto is a tasty base on pizzas on tarts. Spread in on your dough; layer on purple potatoes, caramelized onions, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and sautéed greens; bake it off; and you'll get something like this.

Makes enough to cover a tart or coat a pound of pasta with some leftover for sandwiches. The two final ingredients (garlic confit and butter) are optional. Make garlic confit ahead of time if you're going to use it (see below for details). Please know that these are approximate amounts. Play.

handful salt (for boiling water)
2 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
2 cups chopped kale and/or chard leaves (stems are great too)
1 cup fresh herbs (any combination of bail, sage, parsley, and mint leaves and stems)
3/4 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds with skins or not, pine nuts, pecans)
1 cup (at least) of grated cheese (any combination of parmesan, pecorino, asiago, goat, manchego, gruyere)
juice/zest from 1 lemon
at least 3/4 cup olive oil (or garlic olive oil from garlic confit, see below for details)
2 teaspoons vinegar (sherry, white wine, or champagne)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic confit, see below for details
3 tablespoons butter (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a handful of salt. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add combination of kale, chard and fresh herbs to the peas. After 10 seconds, drain everything. Drain really well. You might even need to squeeze some of the water out of the herbs and greens.

Throw peas, blanched greens/herbs and the remaining ingredients into a food processor and pulverize for 20 seconds. Scrape down the size. Pulverize some more. Taste. Start adding what's missing. If you're not sure, spread some on bread to taste. Or dip in a carrot. Or feed a spoonful to someone else in the house and ask what it needs. Sometimes it helps to use a few other mouths. 

Scoop into a jar and then cover the top with a think layer of olive oil. You can leave it room temperature if you're going to eat it that day. Or store it in the fridge for a few days. Or freeze for months. 

Break apart a few heads of garlic. It's okay to have bunches of 2 or 3 cloves. Poke a tiny hole in each clove to prevent the cloves from exploding. Place unpeeled cloves in a deep pot and cover with olive oil. Add pinch of salt and herbs if you desire (sprig of thyme or branch of rosemary). Bring to the boil. Turn heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer until garlic is cooked through, soft, and creamy (20-30 minutes). Cool to room temperature. You can keep the cloves (with skins on) and oil for a few weeks in the fridge. Make sure cloves are covered with oil. Add more oil if you need to. Squeeze garlic out of the skins as needed.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I agitate the custard and yell at my husband
though I don't even remember what I'm spazzing about
since it's the fight we've had for 23 years
so familiar it's built into our limbs and mouths
and then the custard fucking curdles and 
just so you know
my custard never fucking curdles
and I kick everyone out of the kitchen.

I put a hand on my belly
pinky on my belly button
thumb all the way up and under my front lower ribs
and I quietly blame everything on this abdominal split
(caused by the pressure of my in utero Dash)
because somehow someone something
must be interfering with my ability to
do good parenting and good partnering
and good handstands.

I chop the leeks and imagine
my sides growing back together
and I wonder what makes a frittata a frittata
and not a Spanish tortilla or an omelette
and I decide I don't care
and I just start busting them out
with creme fraiche and leeks and spring onions
and so much trendy kale
that my daughter will say she's going to puke
if she even has to LOOK at it
but i think I'm onto something
so I make one more
packed with purple potatoes and asparagus.

I tuck in my shirt and secure my hair
in what one of those magazines I no longer read
would call a sexy messy bun
place my hands on the floor
imagine my hands are feet
spread my fingers wide
but not too wide
empty my mind
exhale bend my knees
inhale float my legs up up up
until my toes point to the ceiling my two legs as one
and I focus
on weaving knitting soldering my abdominals back together
because that's what will make me a nicer
wife mother yogi cook friend lover person
and then I'm floating for the first time ever
on my hands
for more than one round of breath
with this crazy ass intention of bringing everything
back into my center
and crash
I'm down again.

I yell everyone back into the kitchen
away from Legos and wrestling and The Hunger Games
and a surprising amount of the crispy bubbling feta-topped egg cake
gets into their little bellies
so they earn their curdled custard ice cream
and then I set them free.

Glued to my seat and my wine
I manage to
look my husband in the eye and
I listen
roll my eyes
hold my breath
as he tells me 
yes you're hormonal yes you're insane yes
you make me want to move to Los Angeles
permanently away from you
and I will take the kids and oh yes
you have a nice ass
and yes that was the best frittata I've ever had.

serves 4-6

(My friend Erin and I have been chatting about frittatas. She can't stop making them either. She has been putting feta on top of hers. Genius. Now I am too. Check out her beautiful blog Yummy Supper. And she should have a frittata post up soon.)

You can pretty much throw anything into a frittata. Any cheese. Any (pre-cooked) vegetables or meat: peppers, cauliflower, sliced sausage, chopped crispy bacon, strips of cooked chicken breast. It's a great empty-out-the-fridge one-pot meal.  It can be beautiful to look at. It can also be funky and very green and super funny messy looking. In my opinion, it must have at least a few of the following toppings: sriracha, ketchup, chopped chives, avocado slices, lime, sour cream.

This recipe calls for potatoes and asparagus. But you can just as easily add finely chopped kale (or any combo of greens like chard, arugula, spinach) into the onions instead of the asparagus. Or add it along with the asparagus, though that would be a bit heavy on the greens (I love this, my kids do not).

It's best eaten right away. But you can also serve it room temperature. Or heat it up the next day.

for the vegetables:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 large leeks, cleaned, trimmed of tough green part, thinly sliced
big pinch salt
10 small potatoes cooked in salty water until tender and then halved (purple or yukon gold work well)
8 spears asparagus, trimmed, quickly cooked in salty water but still crisp, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, grated, chopped, or pressed
2 teaspoons lemon zest.

for the eggs:
12 eggs
3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
3/4 grated firm or semi-firm cheese (any combination of parmesan, percorio, manchego, gruyere, cheddar)
big pinch salt 

for when it goes under the broiler:
1/2 cup feta cheese (or goat), crumbled
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
crunchy salt

for the toppings:
chopped parsley and chives
avocado slices
sour cream, creme fraiche, or yoghurt (another nice option is sour cream thinned with heavy cream)

Crank a 10 inch oven-safe pan (I use cast iron) to medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add onions, leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until tender and starting to brown a bit (about 20 minutes). 

While onions are cooking, vigorously whisk together eggs, creme fraiche, cheese, salt, and pepper until well-combined and foamy. Set aside.

Preheat oven to a high broil.

Turn heat up to high under onions and toss in potatoes and asparagus. Add grated garlic and lemon zest. Cook, stirring entire time, for a minute.

Give the eggs one final whisk and then pour over the vegetables. Stir until all vegetables are coated with eggs. Turn down to medium heat. Then leave it alone to start to set. You can put a lid on it. Or not. Be aware of heat going onto bottom of pan and make sure it's not too hot. The eggs don't taste so good when they get too brown.

 Once the eggs are about halfway set, take off heat and sprinkle top with feta, parmesan, and some crunchy salt. Place under the broiler and don't walk away. If if browns too quickly, place on a lower shelf in the oven. Check for doneness after a minute by poking around in the middle of the frittata with a paring knife. An undercooked frittata is nasty. Try to find that perfect moment when the very center isn't quite set because it will continue to cook a bit after you take it out of the oven. 

While it's still piping hot, slide a knife around and dislodge the sides from the pan. Use a spatula and slowly slide it under the frittata. Do this all the way around, making sure you make it all the way to the center. You can serve it in the cast iron pan. Or you can flip it out on a plate. Just make sure you serve it crispy-feta side up.

Serve with toppings (see ingredients above for ideas).