Category: recipe

November 27 / Book Review

cauliflower gratinJust about everybody loves macaroni and cheese. Kids and adults. Vegetarians and meat lovers. Even gluten free folks and carb-loaders alike crave the instant comfort of the satisfying combination of cheese and pasta.

Though most people may enjoy the indulgence of a ooey-goey macaroni and cheese, not everyone seeks to become a modern day expert on the subject of marrying dairy and pasta. Few go out of their way to become fluent in the way of whey; cow, goat, and sheeps’ milk, and dried pasta.

Thanks to the journalistic skills and writing talent of Garrett McCord ( and Stephanie Stiavetti (, the work of understanding the art and mechanics of making truly great macaroni and cheese dishes is served up for you to enjoy in their newest cookbook: Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.

Garrett and Stephanie are great food writers who elevate macaroni and cheese to a whole new level. They lavish their readers with entertaining stories and important insights on cheese and pasta. Melt, The Art of Macaroni and Cheese is a cookbook filled with well-crafted recipes that are a pleasure to cook with year-round.

Beautifully photographed and elegantly styled by the epically talented duo of Matt Armendariz, photographer, and food-stylist Adam Pearson, this book is as educational as it is visually stunning. Melt is a perfect holiday gift for the difficult to buy-for food lover: the book is filled with unexpected gems of information (like a comprehensive guide of artisanal cheeses and a primer on the fundamentals of pairing specialty cheeses with pasta), witty headnotes, and fascinating research. The book oozes with inspiring food photos and over 75 original recipes.

While some single-genre cookbooks might veer too far into the lane of kitch, Melt, The Art of Macaroni and Cheese navigates an enjoyable path for the home cook who seeks to create satisfying gourmet comfort food.

Organized in stylized chapters, Melt is an incredibly versatile cookbook that gives readers different ways to approach cheese and pasta: creamy stovetop macs, hearty casseroles, refreshing salads, and surprising sweets.

July 29 / Italian

Mint and basil pesto with avocado oilWonderful, unexpected things can come into your life and change you in an instant. An intoxicating scent. A random act of kindness from a stranger. A new ingredient.

Lately, I feel as if I’ve had a front row seat to a show of lovely and surprising moments. Unpredicted things reveal themselves to me and demonstrate in delightful ways that life lived with an open heart and open eyes can turn out to be truly extraordinary.

One such incident of unexpected treasures came in the form of a bottle of Bella Vado avocado oil.  The oil’s flavor is unmistakably derived from ripe avocados and has the ability to uplift the taste of a salad, an omelet, or even a handmade pesto. Ever since I started using it has changed the way I approach making lots of my every day meals. I never expected I’d find a flavor revolution in such a small bottle.

I discovered this unexpected treasure earlier this year at the first annual Big Traveling Potluck. I received two bottles —  avocado oil and an avocado oil with jalapeno — in our event swag bag. I had never seen avocado oil before — it’s no wonder, Bella Vado is the first avocado oil maker in the US — so I had no idea what to expect.

June 16 / coffee
April 26 / Non-Alcoholic
March 11 / Business

comarades in arms

Living the life of an entrepreneur is exciting and rewarding. Especially when it isn’t harrowing and daunting. Being a consultant, an artist, or a specialist for hire means you have to be uniquely talented, work hard, and be patient for the next right job to come in. Never having a set schedule is a benefit, but freelancing requires a strong belief in one’s self and trust that you’ll get through difficult stretches between jobs. In short, we gotta have a lot of faith.

Faith as a business model?

Yes, operating from an intuitive place isn’t a concept that works for everyone. It’s an idea that can make most people’s skin crawl, especially those who rely on market trends, data, and poll results. But for people like me who work from the gut, intuition as a business model is something that requires practice and a lot of vulnerability. For every gutsy move or courageous jump, there are plenty of uncertain moments that cause white-knuckle indecision and fear.

Being isolated and working in a way that’s opposite of how most mainstream business people operate can make for some truly uncomfortable moments. That’s where having like-minded friends comes in.

We need others who share the same business challenges and have a similar mindset to run big ideas by. When we’re feeling crazy, fearful, and generally uncertain of ourselves, it can really help to have like-minded people who know what you’re going through to share their insights, advice, and good will. When the going gets rough, it’s good to know there’s someone else out there who knows exactly what we’re going through.

One of my freelance cheerleaders is Vivien Kooper, an LA-based ghost writer who makes a living helping ordinary and extraordinary people tell their life stories in book form. My friend is funny, smart, and shares a common language for the big, esoteric ideas.

What I value most about Vivien’s friendship is how common her un-common language is to me. Her language of faith, fear, and a willingness to surrender over to a higher power is part of her daily language. “I’m just staying in faith that I’ll be taken care of,” Vivian said to me after a particularly lean couple of weeks. It was exactly what I needed to hear. “I just know that the right job is going to come in when it’s supposed to.” Faithful words like that comfort me and offer a sense of relief.  She reminds me it’s okay to believe that one of my job requirements is to surrender to the unknown.

That’s certainly not the kind of feedback I get from every business contact I make.

February 6 / Breakfast Food
January 11 / Italian

sauteed chicken livers 1I stopped eating meat at seventeen. The bloody grease on the flat-top grill of my summer job was the initial motivator for my abstinence. Then a documentary about the abuse of our planet and suffering of feed animals sealed the commitment. I didn’t cook or eat meat for fifteen years after teenage resolution.

More than a decade after I swore off meat, I was hired to be part of the opening team at steak house in Los Angeles. During training, I decided to taste meat again for the first time in fifteen years. I put a thimble-sized morsel of dry aged steak in my mouth and felt my body chemistry change almost instantaneously. The warm and juicy meat, the aroma of smoke and earthiness, the fully rounded flavors of the steak made me tingle. I felt my face flush. I felt alive. I began to feel I needed to look past my politics and chew.

It took me some time to figure out my carnivorous stance, but thanks to a greater understanding of my role in the food chain, how to balance my consumption and be responsible and informed, I am able to make educated and ethical decisions at the butcher’s counter.

Mindful Meat Eating

My diet isn’t focused on meats–I eat mostly vegetables and grains–but when I do purchase chicken, beef, lamb, or pork, I purchase the meat from trusted sources.

I do my very best to maintain the same political and ecological views of my vegetarian years by seeking out humanely raised, free-range animals fed on a healthy and appropriate diet by small producers. I shop local butchers (Lindy and Grundy are a pair of bad-ass female butchers in Los Angeles who foster close relationships with their local purveyors) and, whenever possible, I buy directly from the people who raise the animals and slaughter them. I want to know as much about what I’m eating and what impact that purchase has on my local economy and planet.

December 31 / Desserts
November 22 / Fruits

I always thought of myself as a mature kid. Markers of my full grown abilities were imagination, a faculty for prolonged unsupervised play, and a talent for cooking.  If I could cook–it seemed–I was old enough to take care of myself.

I learned the basics young. In nursery school my teachers showed me how to mix chopped cranberries, orange zest, and sugar in a bowl to make a simple cranberry sauce. By second grade I could put together a bowl of cereal without help, spread butter on toast, and decorate apples with cloves for Christmas ornaments. In third grade, I mastered cinnamon sugar toast and began learning how the numbers on the toaster could turn frozen food into something warm and satisfying. By the time I reached the fourth grade, I could make snacks for my brother and sister when we got home from school and oversee my siblings in their raucous play.

Being able to cook made me employable. I was a babysitter by age 10.

Maybe its because I was the first born. Perhaps, it was because I was self reliant. It may be the fact that I was an independent child capable of feeding herself and her siblings. I could re-heat chicken nuggets and fish sticks without anyone standing over me. I made pizzas out of pita bread, Ragu tomato sauces, and chunks of the random cheeses my mother bought at the grocery store. I was creative with my cooking. I found recipes in cookbooks and began dreaming of the meals I would cook.

Dreams become reality

The summer after I turned ten, my mother packed an extra big suitcase for a trip across the country. I held my breath as Mom filled the olive green suitcase with big sweaters, cotton pants, and prayer beads. She stuffed a canvas bag with my sister’s baby clothes and toys.

“Are we going on a trip?” I asked.

July 20 / Chef Recipes

watermelon salad with chili, basil, lime from Sycamore Kitchen

Working in the restaurant industry can be a wonderful thing, especially for someone who loves to cook. Some days can be more inspiring than others, but the love of food and a constant desire to create beautiful things in the kitchen is the twine that holds the front and back of house of the restaurant together every day. Coming to work has been especially exciting and fulfilling since I began working with the talented and Michelin star rated husband and wife culinary team, Karen and Quinn Hatfield.

My work assisting the pair open their newest restaurant, The Sycamore Kitchen–a bakery/café and bakery located in the Fairfax/Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles– gives me the opportunity to work with a team of highly skilled and passionate people who express themselves beautifully through the wholesome and flavorful food they make.

The flavors of the food at The Sycamore Kitchen are approachable, wholesome, and ever so sneaky because you find yourself needing to get more and more of the stuff. You just can’t help yourself. In fact, in just a few weeks the restaurant has been open, Sycamore Kitchen has garnered a dedicated following. Not only do customers drive across town for a Salted Caramel Bobka roll, or the Double BLT sandwich with braised pork belly, they return day after day for savory and sweet favorites with determined gusto.

Even though I’m at the restaurant more than full time, I find myself craving certain dishes frequently. It’s almost haunting, these flavors. The cookies and pastries are constantly on my mind and dishes like Sycamore Kitchen’s heirloom watermelon salad with aleppo pepper and lime make me pace my apartment until I can’t take it anymore and have to go to the store to buy all the ingredients so I can recreate the dish (to the best of my ability) at home.

Why? Because these sublime flavors aren’t something I can get out of my head so easily. Just take one nibble of this spicy, salty, sweet dish and you’ll see what I mean.

July 19 / Asian

sriracha chicken recipe Brooke BurtonThis city has taught me a lot about food, but one of the most important food lessons came in the shape of a plastic bottle with a green cap and nozzle. Sriracha–a sauce created by a Chinese immigrant from Vietnam who relocated in Los Angeles–has flavors that are warm and spicy–like ketchup mixed with garlic and smoked jalapeno. It’s a magical sauce that can transform anything into something spicy good.

During those formative first few months in LA, I spotted the rooster sauce on restaurant tables all over LA–from the Mexican taco stand, late night diners, Chinese restaurants, and an all night Thai place in Hollywood where a Thai man with thick black hair dressed up like Elvis and sang between courses.

I was hesitant to try the spicy red sauce. Before I became a citizen of a multi-cultural city, I had never been exposed to a food city where Mexican, Guatemalan, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Middle-Eastern dishes could be found within miles of my home. I was brought up on simple foods and avoided spice wherever possible. But once I took my first taste of Sriracha sauce I was hooked. I bought a bottle at a Thai market not far from my home and began experimenting with it. Sriracha perked up my scrambled eggs, made the cheap frozen pizzas a I survived on more palatable, and took my Thai cooking up a notch.

In the years since my discovery, I have figured out a way to work Sriracha into many of my mainstay recipes, including sauteed kale, chicken banh micaramel pork banh mi, and edamame dip. So when one of the food-loving employees at the restaurant I consult at, told me a story about the Sriracha marinaded fish she cooked the night before, I got inspired. Rather than make my usual roasted chicken for dinner, why not make Sriracha chicken instead? Rather than making things complicated, I kept this recipe really simple.

June 7 / recipe
May 25 / Desserts
May 18 / recipe

I return to my apartment kitchen. Overseeing a brand new 20-seat breakfast/lunch/dinner restaurant in Santa…

March 29 / Chef Advice
February 23 / Gluten Free
January 11 / recipe
October 30 / recipe
October 14 / Chef Recipes
September 24 / Breakfast Food