Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Joys of Trombocini

Aka Zucchetta

Even vegetables like to neck.
Behold my three trombocini!
Yes, in case you're wondering, I grew these.  I know, it's amazing!
Not available in stores.  My friends asked, where do I get there heirloom squashes?

Triple digit temperatures killed my vegetable garden several times, and nearly depleted my joy for gardening.  So much love, sweat and labor, and the sun burnt my plants to a crisp.  Had to buy those pricey heirloom tomatoes.  I felt so defeated, and ready to relinquish my plot in the community garden.  

Then my trombocini grew into these beautiful shapes and renewed my delight.  Ignited my imagination.  What can you make with trombocini?  I sauteed them with olive oil and garlic.

Trombocini and Seattle butter clams.

Trombocini pie.

Oh, trombocini.  Let me count the joys, and the dishes!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Tomato Tunnato

I've never been a big fan of tuna fish.  Fishing with Dynamite in Manhattan Beach changed my mind with their tuna tonnato. 

I've never been a fan of capers so when I created my tuna tonnato, I gleefully omitted them.  I like using different color tomatoes for contrast and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  The green flecks in the tuna are also basil.

Super refreshing and delightful, especially in the summer heat.  My tastebuds agree imported tuna fish tastes better for this dish.

Thank you, FWD, for the inspiration and making every dining experience there a pleasure. 

I had no idea I liked key lime pie until I tasted yours, FWD, so thank you for that too!  I'm not sure I'm quite ready to tackle making key lime pie so save me a table.  

Friday, July 27, 2018


Trying a new restaurant can be exciting. Like a new job, it can change your future.  This could be your new place.  The place where you hang out.  With its reputation preceding our visit, it wasn't so foolish to think this could be one of our new regular haunts.  First impressions count.

The first thing we noticed is how the space has changed since it was Nicky D's.  It's more romantic, cozy, upscale and hipster.  The pizza oven is still there, we stood before it a few seconds to pay homage. The hostess attempts to seat us inside against the kitchen.  Siberia.  Yes, Siberia is nice when it is 115 degrees which it was which explains why we chose inside even though it is completely empty except for a couple diners on floor down in the corner of the bar area.  I ask if we can be seated across, she says no, that's a four top.  Ok, but that's an unoccupied two-top.  She relents.

It was still Siberia as we learned as the evening progressed because we might as well have eaten in a cave.  We couldn't see what we were eating.  A shame since the dishes are artistically plated.  A shame since we eat with our eyes as well as our stomach.  A shame because we like to know what we're putting in our mouth, spread the chili sauce around and not eat it in one bite, avoid herbs that we don't like to eat whole vs. vegetables we don't mind eating.  We put two candles on our two top, still couldn't see anything, and yes, I had to turn on the flash to take photos.  Our waiter admitted that lighting was a big problem for that table. "You have the darkest table here." Great!  Thanks, Wolfdown!

While we are dining, another couple new to Wolfdown is escorted into the dining room, and they are given the four top I asked about earlier.  Seated right next to us, with more space, more light?   Does their credit card smell greener? Great first impressions, huh?

The soy-cured scallops is more of a ceviche taco. Glad I asked the waiter beforehand because it was not for me. Avocado salad was refreshing, they do not skimp on chunks of soft, creamy avocado.  The silken tofu salad was also sublime.  The soft tofu contrasted with the acidic cherry tomatoes, pickled white strawberries and regular red strawberries.  The rice with egg yolk was fine, very earthy but monotonous after several bites -- it could really use some bits of eel, or even anchovies.  That craving led me to bring the rest home where I can mix with a protein.  The sea bass in the nori broth was my favorite dish, but again, I would have enjoyed it so much more if I could see what I was eating.  The braised beef cheeks were tender, but served in this black bowl so it was like dipping your spoon into a black hole. The dessert was a big miss for us, we left more than half.  Too heavy and solid, one-note.

Perhaps we'll go back to try the buttermilk braised quail and sweet potatoes.  But only if we can see what we're eating, and each other.

Avocado Salad w/pea tendrils
lots of avocado, crunch, texture

Silken Tofu Salad with pickled white strawberries, red strawberries and red cherry tomatoes

Rice with shitake, beans and yolk
very earthy flavors

Soy-cured scallops with green apple slices
Reminded us of the ceviche tacos found in Baja Ensenada

Seared Sea Bass in Nori Broth

Wolfdown Braised Beef Cheeks

Miso Tiramisu

Friday, April 6, 2018

Eat A Little Better

Sam Kass made a big splash cooking at the White House.  His latest book is about the small changes that have big impacts on our health.  Little changes like putting healthier foods at eye level, and more indulgent foods on a higher shelf.  You eat what you see.  This is one of his guiding principles on how to take the stress out of the home and kitchen.  Make your fruits and vegetables more easily accessible.  Cut and peel carrots, store them in a clear container and place them eye level in your refrigerator.

Rearrange your pantry.  Throw out items with too many unrecognizable ingredients.  Throw out items where sugar is listed in the top three ingredients.  Indulge now and then, but resolve to eat better the next day.  Cook more.  Read your nutrition labels.  Eat more fiber.  It all sounds familiar, so simple, yet why do we continuously reach for the sugar salt fat?  Don't blame yourself.  Seriously.  Just make a few minor adjustments that could lead to big improvements.

Grocery stores are battlegrounds for our wallet and stomach.  Try to stick to the perimeter.  Arm yourself with a list.  Roast your vegetables. Eat less beef but when you do, treat yourself to high quality.  This is less a recipe book especially if you already know how to cook, and more of a manifesto.  "I will survive" of cookbooks.

At first I was afraid I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without sugar salt fat by my side

Spent so many nights 
Thinking how I ate all wrong...

Apologies and thanks to Gloria Gaynor.  This book is for anyone ready to improve their world without sacrificing great flavor.  Sounds like nearly everyone, doesn't it?  In exchange for my honest book review, I received this cookbook from Blogging for Books.  Thank you.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Vegan Power


If you're a lifelong omnivore who loves variety and meat, the prospect of becoming a vegan can be awfully frightening.  No eggs, no butter, no meat ever?  Simply cooking a delicious meal for vegans struck fear in me.  Whether or not we are committed vegans, most of us do have friends who are vegan or vegetarian, and most of us are trying to eat healthier, better.

That's what I love about Power Plates.  Power to the all people who want to eat more nutritionally balanced meals.  While I'm not sure I can ever become vegan (never say never!), I am eating more plant-based diet, and enjoy organic gardening.  

One of my fears about becoming vegan is based on the fear that I will be eating the same boring thing after another.  This is where Power Plates really helps allay those fears.  The photos are full of color, vibrancy, and whet your appetite.   The butternut squash salad with red quinoa and pumpkin seeds looks wonderful.  Just picked up some tempeh, inspired by the balsamic-glazed tempeh and vegetables over soft polenta  The ingredients are easy to find, and recipes easy to follow -- a major plus as most of us lead busy, hectic lives.  

Power up, this book is a win-win.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Pok Pok The Drinking Food of Thailand

With a title like this, you know you're in for fun.  Andy Ricker says in Thailand, you "almost never see people drinking without something to eat."  Couldn't agree more.  Happy hour is no good without happy food.

That said, for me, this book is more of a travel guide than a book of recipes I will cook at home.  There's a lot of fried food recipes, or recipes with hard to find or exotic ingredients.  For example, there are recipes for like fried pig ears and intestines, fried chicken tendons, pig brains grilled in banana leaf.  Just not going to make these at home.

Most of the photos are wonderful and will whet your appetite for food and travel.  I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Book of Joe


by Jeff Wilser

How refreshing it is to read about a politician who is such a life force and superb role model.  Joe Biden has suffered, failed, made mistakes but he always gets back up.  He listens.  He connects.  He sounds like he could be your friend.  No wonder Obama awarded him with the Medal of Freedom.  Biden is so deserving, and this book is so inspiring, once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down.  The book is small and portable so you can travel with it easily.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.