Category Archives: Blogs & Books

Saveur Food Blog Award Winners

Post from Thug Kitchen. Photo credit: Thug Kitchen

Post from Thug Kitchen. Photo credit: Thug Kitchen

Saveur just chose it’s top food blogs 2013!

Every year they give awards to the food blogs that have the best… anything! This year I was very surprised and happy to see that the best NEW food blog is… Karla’s and my favorite: THUG KITCHEN! It’s a great blog and you should check it out, if you haven’t already.

Some of my other favorites were there too! Not Without Salt got Best Food Blog, and Spoon Fork Bacon was a runner up (SFB is totally my favorite!) Green Kitchen Stories did well too.

Add all these awesome blogs to your RSS feed!


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Country-style Ratatoullie alla Genovese


I’m sorry about my last post being just a multitude of pictures without any real explanation. I just get so excited by all the wonderful fresh produce in season, and farms, and farmer’s markets popping up that I get a little picture crazy. To me, one of the wonderful things about really fresh, just-picked produce, is that you can experiment a little with it.. the key being not to go overboard and let its true taste shine through. This is why I’ve come up with very few new recipes lately, and gone more for simplicity; letting the vegetables be the stars. Like in my Strawberry, goat cheese, and pistachio salad with walnut thyme vinaigrette or my Vine ripe tomatoes with basil and chevre. Its true you don’t need complicated recipes to make food taste great, which I’m reminded of as I’ve been reading Alice Waters’s biography: Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, which by the way I definitely recommend to any foodie or person interested in how this local food movement got stated–all right here in San Francisco (Berkeley, actually).

Alice Water’s life and vision come alive in this book. Highly recommend!

But before you go searching for that in your local library…try this recipe. Yes, its a recipe, but also lets fresh veggies shine their brightest in a unison of rich flavors. This is a heartier dish, to be served with rice, thick country bread, any white fish (monkfish, halibut, flounder), or on its own sprinkled with some good parmesan or pecorino romano. Unlike some more typical versions of ratatioullie that call for an hour in the oven (you know I’m hesitant of heating my apartment while its 85 degrees outside), this is a stovetop ratatouille. Nothing fancy about it, but the result is something so homey, rich and delicious… you’ll forget your just eating vegetables.

After my most recent trip to the farmer’s market, I somehow got saddled with 3 lbs of vine ripened tomatoes, 6 baby zucchini, and a giant bunch of Genovese basil. So to use it all up, I made a big batch of ratatouille and saved it (for 3 days!) and ate it for lunch or dinner. I would definitely throw in some eggplant and yellow squash if you have it on hand. I like to leave everything in big chunks so the flavors dont completely blend together and it gets mushy. This way each vegetables holds up and at the end you can really appreciate and taste each one for what it is.

If you want a more refined ratatoullie recipe for a dinner party or just to try out your mandoline skills, like the one in the movie Ratatoullie (Remy’s recipes), click here for a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It has all the same ingredients and flavor, just a different look.


Country-style Ratatoullie alla Genovese

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 7-10 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 2-3 lbs vine ripened tomatoes, halved or whole if small*
  • 6 baby zucchini or 3 large zucchini, cut into thick rounds
  • (Italian eggplant or yellow squash of you have them, cut into large chunks)
  • 1/4 lb baby carrots or carrots cut into thick rounds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 2 handfuls fresh Genovese basil leaves, rinsed
  • 1/2 can cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse black pepper & sea salt, to taste
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, for serving


1. Add the olive oil, onion, and whole garlic cloves to a deep sided fry pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Stir until translucent, about 2-3 minutes, but do not brown. Add your tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, squash and/or eggplant to the pan and stir occasionally for the first few minutes until juices start to release. Add the bay leaf, kosher salt, and stir.  IMG_1608

2. As the juices begin to simmer, add a sprig of thyme on top, cover pan, and let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes (or until all veggies are cooked through, but not mushy). Remove thyme sprig. Let cool for 7 minutes with lid off then stir in basil leaves.


3. Let sit until just warm and stir in garbanzo beans, balsamic, thyme (leaves only), and salt and fresh pepper to taste.** Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, by itself or with one of the suggestions below.

Serve with thick country bread drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt, fresh pasta, brown rice, or simply prepared chicken or white fish.  The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity so don’t overdo it.


*make sure your tomatoes are ripe, smell fragrant and sweet, and give them a good wash

**The reason for all the cooking times and waiting at the end is so that the stronger flavors of the herbs and vinegar do not overpower the delicate flavors of the vegetables (which they would if cooked too long). You also want to make sure the beans stay firm, so adding them at the end is important.

I imagine this dish would be served in the countryside in Italy as a no-frills, home-cooked and family-style dish with only the freshest of ingredients (hence the name). That was my inspiration and from Alice who is always reminding us to let things taste as they are– and not to fuss too much. Hopefully you find this meal as warm and comforting as I did, for three days in a row. Here’s so happy and simple eating! Boun Appetito.


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Filed under Blogs & Books, Local, Main Dishes, Seasonal, Sides, Vegetarian

Back to Nature: A look at the Paleo Diet & Agave Cookies


Farm visit on Vashon Island, WA (March, 2013)

I’m not a big fan of diets, but I thought I would share this with you. Mom was encouraging me to take a look at this food documentary, especially with my newfound food sensitivity and long-time interest in healthy eating. Now, I’ve herd a lot of fuss about this Paleo (or Paleolithic) Diet, which supposedly is one of the healthiest diets around and mimics that of our caveman ancestors who led hunter-gather lifestyles. Ok I’m intrigued…but not sold.


The documentary presents research that shows how a diet from the Stone Age that that primarily focused on meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit and nuts actually helped us humans reach our full potential and stay lean, strong, and smart. On the flip-side, it reiterates what we have heard for so long, that our modern-day diet of processed, refined and carb-heavy foods make us sick, fat, and lazy.


My morning oatmeal

Now I don’t know about following this diet too strictly. It seems a little crazy to overlook all of the amazing, creative and delicious food options out there. Yes, being healthy is one thing, but aren’t we supposed to enjoy our food, get playful with it, and be a little bad sometimes? (That’s just my opinion- but strict diets can work for some people). Having said that,  I am a big fan of eating whole, nutritious foods and I do think there is something to say for trying a different approach to eating if it makes you healthier, stronger, and more active. Especially  since now there are so many people with food sensitivities (like me) that go undiagnosed, diets like this one can be useful for people trying to figure out what foods may be troubling them, and what they could do without.

Healthy lunches

Healthy lunches

Here’s what mom had to say about it:

I hope you have a chance to watch the Perfect Human Diet, which is not in reference literally to returning to the Neanderthal diet but that we can learn much from that time as to what kept humans from having the same prevalent diseases we are afflicted with today.  Their stressors were different, their access and life styles were different, exposure to things and people were different, etc.  But, their level of exercise and quality of diet (fresh, local, meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds) was admirable.  The lesson: we evolved and our brains became more sophisticated because of this.  It’s hard for us now to have all the choices and expense variables to consider, but we have one life and a good brain to figure out what limits we’re willing to live with to gain a longer quality of life.  Remember also, it takes one person to create a movement, or at least affect a few around her, and for the better if sound. -Mami

Horay for healthy snacks

Horay for healthy snacks

I TOTALLY agree with this by the way! about being healthy to get the most out of life and figuring out what limits we’re willing to live with. So I still think this documentary is worth watching because there’s always something to learn and if it helps get us a little closer to our quest of healthier and happier lives, then its done its job!


Strawberry season. YUM!

Speaking of natural eating, I have a recipe to share! These oats & agave jam cookies are made with natural ingredients and whole grain flour that make them the perfect snack to boost your energy during the day, for tea time, or as dessert. I made them special for a friend who has diabetes, but I gobbled my half right up. So yummy. The recipe I got from My New Roots “Sugar-free Thumbprint Jam Cookies”.


Oats & Agave Jam Cookies

2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup warm coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole grain flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp. organic, all-natural cornstarch
Scant 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Zest of one lemon
Your favorite jam or preserves (I want to make these with fig jam next!)


Preheat the oven to 350F, rack in the top 1/3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl pour the warm, melted coconut oil over the honey and whisk in the vanilla extract. In a separate medium bowl combine the flour, oats, cornstarch/arrowroot, sea salt, baking soda, and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture to the honey and stir until just combined. Let the dough sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir once or twice again – the dough should be quite stiff.
Roll the dough into balls, one level tablespoon at a time, and place an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. These will spread. Use your finger or the back of a very tiny spoon to make a well in the top of each ball of dough. Fill each to the top with 1/8 teaspoon of jam. I tried to make mine into heart-shapes for the fun of it.
Bake for 7 – 9 minutes or until the bottom and edges of the cookies are just golden. Don’t over-bake.

Serve with tea or pack in your lunch for a quick afternoon snack.

Happy and healthy eating!

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Filed under Blogs & Books, Desserts, On Food

A Graphic Novel for Foodies from The Kitchn

Hey Karla!

I saw this and thought of you:


It’s a graphic novel for foodies! It looked like it was pretty perfect for you.

More here:

Happy Wednesday!

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New Year, New Ideas

ChicagoHi Karla,

Happy 2013! We’re only… three months late.

This year has been crazy, with all sorts of new stuff, not the least of which is our new blog design, which is pretty cool, if I may say so myself!

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, but most of it has been rather rushed. I cook when I come home from work in order to wind down, chill out, and prepare myself to get back to work. I’ve taken on a number of freelance projects, which are more exhausting than I had imagined they would be, and they took up a lot of my free time.

Now I’m looking forward to the weather warming up and spring hitting us hard with some warm weather… sunny days… porch beers…

But then I remember, I live in Chicago.

So, despite the fact that it might be sunny and beautiful outside, it’s still about 30 degrees, and t-shirt and sandal weather are still an elusive dream.


This, of course, makes me turn to my favorite food blogs for some rich, hot food-spiration. I’ve been making buttermilk biscuits, the recipe for which you should totally check out on Smitten Kicthen: My Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits, and Shakshuka, as well as some serious breads from The Breadmaker’s Apprentice.

But in my quest for more posts to ogle, I found some great new blogs! Check these out. I’ve added them to our sources and inspiration page!

Spoon Fork Bacon: This blog is awesome. Not only do they have some fantastic food photos and tantalizing treats, but they post all the time which is great, since every time you go back, there is something new!

My Little Expat Kitchen: Magda is a Greek chica living in the Netherlands. She has some awesome Mediterranean recipes (your favorite!) and tales of life in Greece and life away from Greece. I love her breads and cakes. They look fabulous!

Thug Kitchen: I hope you already clicked on that link and already figured out what a hilarious awesome thing Thug Kitchen is. Any time you want a good laugh, go check it out. My favorite is his post about Strawberries. Also, the recipes he talks about are actually really good! Check out that Agua Fresca. Pretty awesome. This guy rocks.

Keep warm!


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They had me at beet dumplings

Just fell in love with a new blog:

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by | May 4, 2012 · 8:48 pm