Locally Grown: Santa Monica Farmers Market

Oh, the joys of buying local – not only do you support the community around you, but you are able to gain knowledge on where your fruits and vegetables are coming from and have a better insight on what you are consuming.  We recently headed to our local Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica and the beauty and abundance of fresh produce abounded.  We even received tips on how to enjoy the foods we purchased in recipes the growers actually used themselves (more to come on Guava Pie ala the Key Lime variety).  Find out where your local Farmer’s Market is and indulge in the information you can learn about the food you take home! Here are some of our favorite items from our trip…

Thanks to Garcia Organic Farms and Jamie Farms!

Amy’s Homemade Apple Cider

Fall is here, winter is coming, and what better to keep you warm and cozy through these chilly holiday months than a cup of lovely apple cider. The cinnamon aroma twirling through the air, the hot mug nestled in your hands, the taste of an orchard bursting from the porcelain…craving it yet? Don’t hold back, break out the spice sticks and the Red Delicious (this case, McIntosh apples) and brew up a batch of this delightful beverage.

YIELDS

6-8 Mcintosh apples

INGREDIENTS
4 cinnamon sticks bound together
1 tablespoon ground cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar

RECIPE
1.  Wash and roughly chop apples and orange-do not worry about removing peels, seeds, or stems. Toss into a large stock pot.
2.  Add sugar (you can always add more later if you like it sweeter).
3.  Add spices, and cover with water.
4.  Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for at least an hour.
5.  Cover and reduce to a simmer. Allow juice to simmer for at least two hours.
6.  Uncover and use a potato masher to roughly mash content of pot.
7.  When cider is ready allow to cool then strain apple pieces and whole spices into a clean pitcher or pot. If you feel like it you can strain everything through a cheesecloth and twist and squeeze to get every last drop.
8.  Serve hot. Store in the fridge and reheat as desired.

Enjoy.

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Ham and Truffle Cheese Sandwiches

If you veered away from Turkey this Thanksgiving and ventured into the wonderful world of Ham, we have you covered on what to do with the leftovers. We combined the decadence of oooey gooey melted truffle cheese and paired it with homemade potato bread and warm, tender ham. Yes, please!! We will have three! Here are the easy steps to making a little piece of heaven. 

Combine the following:

Leftover Ham

Homemade Potato Bread or roll

Truffle Cheese

Place in oven at 350° and bake until cheese is melted.

Consume. Smile.

(The Best) Apple Crumb Pie (Ever)

As we digress from our Thanksgiving’s Day and emerge from our turkey stuffing comas, there are very few things that sound appetizing the next day. Yes, we can slather mayo on toast and make ridiculous sandwiches filled with cranberry sauce and other leftover options.  But what about that apple pie you made tucked deeply in the fridge?  When does that EVER sound bad?  You didn’t make Apple Pie, you say?  Well you are just in luck!  Here is the best Apple Crumb Pie recipe (not an exaggeration) that graced our tables this year thanks to Ms. Martha Stewart.  Enjoy and make sure to save some for leftovers! You will be craving it!

The process went a little like this…

Recipe below… 

MARTHA’S SOUR CREAM CRUMB

PIE DOUGH
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 stick plus 3 tablespoon cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/4-1/3 cup ice water

CRUMB TOPPING
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 cup walnuts coarsely chopped

FILLING
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
16 ounces sour cream
2 eggs at room temperature lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 golden delicious or granny smith apples peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch wedges (We prefer granny smith)

RECIPE
1. Pie Dough: combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor, and pulse to blend. Add butter until pea sized clumps form. with machine running, add water slowly as mixture just starts to come together. Shape the dough into a disc . wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
2. Roll out the dough into a 15 inch round on a floured surface. Fit the dough into a 10 inch pie plate. trim the edges as desired. Refrigerate until firm, about one hour.
3. Crumb Topping:whisk together sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and combine with your hands or pastry cutter. Add walnuts and press filling into large clumps with your hands; refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Preheat oven to 450
5. Filling: Whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until thourally combined. Add apples tossing to coat. Place apple mixture in crust.
6. Place an empty rimmed baking sheet under the pie plate to catch any overflow of the pie. Bake pie for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 and bake unto the apples turn golden brown, the juice is bubbling, and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
7. Remove topping from refrigerator and crumble over the hot filling. Bake until topping id browned and set, apples are tender, and bottom crust is thoroughly baked, about 50 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 3 to 4 hours.

Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Day: A Festive Floral

The day is here! As you gear up for family, friends and copious amounts of cranberry sauce, take a moment to spruce up your table by creating a rustic floral centerpiece.  By combining different textures with either berries or twigs, the arrangement is able to take on a more dynamic feel than just flowers in a vase.  Plus if you add woodland additions like pieces of log or branches alongside, you have something wonderfully unique your guests will be sure to swoon over. Here is what you need to get started:

Twine

Ribbon (neutral tones)

Mason Jar

White Hydrangeas

Hypericum (orange berries) or Twig-like branches

Orange Tulips or Calla Lily

Extra green leaves (to place in jar)

Wood pieces

Countdown to Thanksgiving: The Night Before Rack of Lamb

As our days count down to the day before Thanksgiving, the strength to conjour up a fabulous meal before the biggest cooking day of the year is daunting.  The need for something no nonsense is crucial, thus we bring you a fairly easy, yet impressive idea for the Eve of Turkey Day.  Deliciously rich Rack of Lamb with Parsley… not only is it filling and flavorful, you can add sides of sautéed zucchini and a salad and be done, due to the flavor complexity of the lamb.  Try this meal out, and we promise you will not disappoint. 

This is the first recipe my husband asked me to cook when we were dating.  Not only was there pressure to prepare the perfect meal for him, but it didn’t help that it was his mother’s recipe and she cooked it to perfection. Every time. Without fail.  The first time I made it, he also requested I make her Fried Zucchini which ended up causing multiple fire alarms to go off as I scorched burning oil onto my hands turning soggy floured green spheres into flaming fire hazards. Yet, the rack of lamb turned out superbly and even with the little knowledge that I had, it was as if it was a recipe that I had handled for years. It is my go to whenever I have guests to impress or family to entertain. It is a gift to know, just like my mother-in-law, so keep it in your cooking arsenal. – Jenet

The recipe has always been given in a very basic form. It goes like this…

YIELDS

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1-2 American or Australian racks of Lamb

1 bunch of flat Italian parsley

4 shallots

1 head of garlic

Bread crumbs

Pepper (to taste)

Coarse salt (to taste)

RECIPE

Trim the fat off the rack, leaving a little cover for cooking. Wash and chop parsley,  shallots and garlic.  Combine the above with olive oil and seasoned bread crumbs.  Add plenty of freshly ground pepper and kosher (coarse) salt.  Set aside.

Place the rack (or racks) meat side down on a broiling pan after you season them with salt & pepper.  Place a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan.  Set oven to broil.  Brown rack on one side (approx. 5-6 minutes), remove from oven (draining any rendered fat … carefully as it will be very hot) and turn rack over.  Return to oven and brown other side.

Remove from oven and turn rack again.  Reset oven to 400 degrees and put parsley mixture on top and scatter around rack.   Place in oven for  approx. 10 -12 minutes.  Remove chops and check for doneness.  You may need to put parsley mixture back in the oven to brown more and this can be done either in the 400 degree oven or you can reset to broil, but watch carefully so as not to burn.  If you reset to broil you may want to place pan on lower rack in oven.

Serve and Enjoy.

Countdown to Thanksgiving: The Perfect Place Settings

With Turkey Day right around the corner, one thought crossing your mind at the moment may be how to create a beautiful, yet unique holiday spread for the table top.  Oh the options! Do you go with the gourds and dried leaves?  Twine and kraft paper menus?  Turkeys shaped out of cardboard and fall-colored tissue paper?  As endless as it may seem, let’s focus on adding life to your tablecloth by bringing in fabulously patterned dinnerware.  From high to low, you can outfit your cupboards with lively designs that take the pressure off having to adorn the table with not much more than some floral sprigs and festive cloth napkins.  Here are some of our favorite plates for your festive holiday gathering…

Amy’s love for all things classic made her narrow her choices down to these high-low favorites:

Fleur De Lys Dinner Plate, Anthropologie.com / $10-$38 per item

Bleus d’Ailleurs, Hermes.com / $190-1875 for various items

Jenet’s minimalist spirit steered her towards these versatile designs:

La Boca Green Dinnerware, Gearys.com / $395 5-piece set

DBO Home Birch Dinnerware Set, West Elm.com / $25-44 per item

Jali Lattice Dinnerware, West Elm.com / $32-44 per item

Have the plates but need something to bring another dimension to your table, try a sleek charger to add layers…

Chancellor Charger, Pottery Barn.com / $29.50 per item

Let us know what you do for your Thanksgiving table!  – Amy & Jenet 

Note:  The first photo is from Amy’s table with her Hermes Mosaique Au 24, Hermes.com / $540-660 per item (featured)

Seasonal in the City with Pumpkin

Seasonal for November in the following States: OR, NV, AZ, NM, OK, LA, MS, IA, IL, AL, PA, MD

 After October comes and goes, what to do with all the pumpkins left over from Halloween? Or maybe the month has passed and you miss those great orange globes. Whatever the reason, we love a good gourd and think you should too!! Here is a wonderful way to get the pumpkin out of your pantry and onto your palette’s preferred list.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread 

The Process…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

YIELDS

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs ground cinnamon

1 Tbs ground nutmeg

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup canola oil

one 15 ounce can pumpkin puree or fresh pumpkin puree

1/2 cup water

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

RECIPE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and lightly flour two 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the sugar, eggs, oil in a separate bowl until well blended. Stir in the pumpkin, water, and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until all the ingredients are moist and blended. Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the pans and bake until cooked through.

Let cool and enjoy!

No-Fuss Homemade Chicken Soup

Nothing brings more comfort than the aroma of a well-made chicken soup. And with the winter weather tumbling into cities, now is the perfect time to break out the stockpot, throw in your favorite vegetable varietals and sit back, cozy up with some tea and a blanket, and relax knowing you can step away from this easy meal because it is doing all the work.  And with this next recipe, you will see that it really is that simple.

This soup is a great remedy for anything that ails you…a common cold, stress, or trying to loose a couple of pounds. I make this soup in the beginning of every week .  It is something my husband and I like to always have in the fridge ready to heat up.  You never know what your week will bring, but you can always rely on this to make you feel better. – Amy

And the recipe goes like this…

YIELDS

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 Chicken Breasts with bone and skin
2 large Carrots peeled and chopped
2 Celery Stalks chopped
one handful of Spinach Leaves
one handful of chopped fresh Parsley
one medium sized Leek chopped
one medium-large Daikon peeled and chopped
RECIPE
Put all ingredients in a large pot. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. FIll the pot with water so that everything is covered.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 hours.
When chicken is cooked, remove from the pot and cut into bite size pieces and place back into the soup.
Enjoy.

Seasonal in the City with Brussels Sprouts

Seasonal in November for the following States: CA, OK, IA, TN & PA

 Not only is this one of our favorite Seasonal vegetables, but it is one that is often overlooked because of its bad rap. It took much convincing to even introduce this as a salad to my husband, but after shaving the little green gems, adding  plenty of  pecorino and pine nuts, he fell in love with the sprouts as much as I had. – Jenet 

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

The Process…

The recipe….

YIELDS

Serves 4-5

INGREDIENTS

15 Brussels Sprouts

2 Lemons

2 Tbs Olive Oil

Shaved Pecorino Romano, to taste

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Pine Nuts, optional

Slicer

RECIPE

Take washed Brussels Sprouts and remove stem.

Using a hand slicer, shave each sprout  into thin ribbons.  If able to do carefully, a knife can be used to cut sprouts thinly into shavings. Toss in bowl with lemon juice, oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Throw in pecorino on top of salad or mix in.

If preferred, pine nuts can be added.

OXO Handheld Flat Slicer, available at Williams-Sonoma