Thursday Food Fest: Zucchini

Grilled-zucchini-with-feta

Rather
than sit on the sidelines and watch (and drool, mostly) I decided to
get off my butt and participate in Everyday Food and A Way To Garden’s
Thursday Food Fests. I love the premise: everyone picks one seasonal
goody and blogs about it. This week it’s cucumbers and zucchini, and in
case I’ve never shared this with you I am crazy about the zooooks. I
grew up eating my mom’s wonderful sauté of yellow squash and zuccchini
that was a regular staple in our house and I find myself picking up
zucchini whenever I can. And lately I’ve made many a quick summer
evening meals out of zucchini and summer squash alone. It’s simple,
easy, flavorful and delicious.

This dish
began as a side to accompany a grilled chicken but soon became a main
dish for me. I think it began from a recipe I tried a while back and
mutated into something so simple and easy.  It’s really more of a
serving suggestion than recipe since the exact measurements don’t
matter. And I say they do not matter because I haven’t bothered to
measure. See how sneaky I am? I’ve been known to add a few thick slices
of smoky grilled purple onions to this and have it for dinner without
anything else.  As long as cheese is involved (and a glass of wine) I
really don’t need much else.

Grilled Zucchini with Feta, Olives and Thyme
Hey, I said no recipe, remember? Got it. Slice zucchini, toss with a
bit of olive oil and grill until slightly charred. The time will depend
on the heat of your grill but it can also be made in a grill pan on
your stove top but you’ll want to let the pan get hot first. I tend to
go for slightly underdone pieces since I like the crunch and hate the
soggy. Top the cooked slices with a handful of olives, Feta (Greek or
French, I like it all!), a sprinkle of fresh thyme and a nice drizzle
of olive oil. That’s it!

Thanks to Deb for getting all us together for this fun event!

P.S. Thank you for the emails, twitters and that one phone call from Mallorca (Gracias, Toni!) to make sure everything was ok after that lil quake we had yesterday. I only lost a few picture frames and one really ugly old plate and NOT my new pieces from Brooklyn artist Jan Burtz (pictured above) that I bought last week in NYC. Because folks, nothing would be sadder than seeing that in a million lil pieces.

From Argentina With Love

Wine-polaroid

There are several times a month where I find myself a wee bit “homesick” for Argentina.  I begin to pine for her food, culture and wine but my heart pangs are almost instantly satiated with a visit to From Argentina With Love. In case you haven’t been (and I do hope you have!) FAWL belongs to one of the most delightful writers I know named Rebecca Caro. We met a while back through the interwebs and bonded over Argentina and now I can call her a friend. She is so delightfully talented and wonderful.

Rebecca is American but writes about her 2nd home in South America–she’s married to an Argentinean and through her site she shares her love affair with Argentina. Its her insight and connection that gives us a unique perspective and I feel so connected to the history and tradition of family when she writes. Just like another favorite writer of mine, Rebecca transports me far from home every time I spend time with her words.

And as if I didn’t already know what a gem she is it thrills me to say she has a piece about Mendoza for Cookie Magazine. You really should check it out and I hope it inspires you to visit Argentina if you haven’t already!

Rebecca, congratulations and what an honor. You truly are amazing!

Now, when are we going together?

Oh, stuff.

Bits-and-bites

Or How To Revive Old Links Of Yesteryear

Call it the dog days of summer but I’m not really motivated to venture outside of my warm-weather eating habits these days. It’s all about stone fruit, cold crisp composed salads, no cook pasta dishes (well, other than boiling water) and some experiments to perfect my smoke-roasting skills. See? I told you I’m nothing but a bore lately. My brain and body have been in a million little directions lately and rather than do one post I thought it’d be appropriate to share my scattered ramblings with you.  So without any delay, here it goes!

All Work And No Play…
I’m already a self-admitted dullard so I don’t mind the end of that phrase really. But in the past 2 weeks I’ve shot three magazine jobs, one being a pretty big national publication that you may have heard of. I’ll let ya know when all these hit the newstands.  If anyone can tell me where I can buy a “I Heart Photo Editors” t-shirt please let me know. I’ll wear it proudly.

And Kim? I love you!

 

Heirlooms

You Say Tom, er, Nevermind, I just can’t.
We’re right on the cusp of some really amazing tomatoes coming to market and this boy couldn’t be more excited. I’ve harped about them for years so I’ll zip it this year and spare you the obsession. Suffice it to say I’ll be eating tons again with some of this stuff all over them. And I shall not talk about it again until ’09 lest someone gets any bright ideas. I’m just sayin.


iAm suffering from iPhone Insanity
C57387n2657
My new 3g iPhone has not left my hand in days. Why should it? It’s sleek, pretty, faster, and the apps are making me a happy boy. I can now listen to my Pandora playlist as I jog or drive. And on a bad 80’s whim I entered “Taylor Dayne” and was rewarded with what is quite possibly the gayest playlist ever to be created: Madonna, Celine Dion, Chaka Kahn and Melissa Manchester. Luckily I’m covered in tattoos to maintain my ruff-n-tumble street cred.


Twitter.

Yes, I have joined all the others who tweet. I now tweet. Do you?

Ameila
2008_04_23-Amelia-Saltsman
My pal Amelia Saltsman has some events coming up and I wanted to share them with you. And for those of you in Orange County two of them are in your neck of the woods! 

She is the most delightful person ever I must tell you. I look forward
to her market features in Bon Appetit and her book is such a great
resource to have all year round. This is my first summer with her
fantastic recipes and we’re really enjoying them at home. I also had a
fantastic time with her last year when she sat down with me to answer a
few questions about her book. You can read it here.


Art of Cooking: Southern California Chef Series
Festival of Arts – Laguna Beach, CA
Cooking Demonstration & Book Signing
Sunday, July 20
650 Laguna Canyon Road
(800) 487-3378
1 pm – 2pm
$7, General Admission

 Amelia Saltsman, author of the award-winning The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes and Stories from the Market and Farm, will sign her book and give a cooking demonstration of easy summer recipes at the Festival of Arts: Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, on July 20, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.   Menu:  Melon, Cucumber, and Mint Salad; Seared Tuna with Roasted Tomato & Olive Salsa; Tangy White Beans. General Admission: $7 Contact Information:  650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA.  (949) 494-1145. 

 Sage on the Coast – Newport Beach, CA
2nd Annual Summer’s Bounty Feast
Sunday, July 20
7862 East Coast Highway (Crystal Cove Promenade)
(949) 715-7243
6 pm
$65 per person (4-Course Dinner & Wine)

Join Amelia Saltsman, author of the award-winning, The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, farmers Romeo Coleman, Phil McGrath, Peter Schaner, and Alex Weiser at the 2nd Annual Summer’s Bounty Feast at Sage on the Coast in Newport Beach.  Four course family-style dinner includes Schaner Farms Roast Pork with Red Currants and Seared Albacore Tuna with Roasted Tomato & Olive Salsa.  July 20, 2008 at 6 p.m.  Price $65.  For reservations call: (949) 715-7243; 7862 East Coast Hwy (Crystal Cove Promenade), Newport Beach, CA 92657.

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market – Santa Monica, CA
Cooking Demonstration & Book Signing
Wednesday, July 23
Third & Arizona
10 am – 1pm

Amelia Saltsman, author of the award-winning, The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes and Stories from the Market and Farm, will be cooking easy summer dishes from the day’s market finds at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market (Third and Arizona) on July 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Shoot-the-day

New York City
I’m heading to NYC this weekend. I’m not much of a winner of anything really but I was supremely lucky enough to be selected as one of the 20 photographers out of about 700 to attend the Shoot! The Day event sponsored by Photoshelter. I’m in the Still Life & Studio category and will be working with David Hobby of Strobist.com. How incredible is that? Unfortunately because of work obligations I’ll be spending around 34 hours in the city before hopping back to Los Angeles but hopefully it’ll be long enough to persuade the delightful Grace to meet me for coffee.

I’ll be blogging about it soon!

Bedlam-cupcake

This episode was filmed before a live studio audience
I made two recent guest appearances lately.  The first was over at The Bedlam Of Beefy and the latest was over at the adorable All Things Cupcake. It’s like a musical mashup or kind of like the cast of 227 walking into that shop Edna Garett ran on Facts Of Life. But if you call me Jacké I promise I’ll scream. Oooooh Mary!

I really love both those sites. Have you seen them? Oh my goodness they are beautiful and I am so flattered to have had the time with them to answer some questions.  And now I am officially aware you are sick of me talking about myself so no more!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Well folks I fear I’ve overstayed my welcome with these ramblings so I’m gonna wrap it up for this week and I’ll be back next week with even more random tidbits. Have a wonderful week and a terrific weekend everyone!

Cobblerfornia Dreamin’

Cobbler-image

Boy, the mind is a powerful thing. Well, I mean, I’m sure yours is. Mine is currently oscillating between the study of sleep deprivation and a desire to pitch my belongings into a hobo stick and hightail it away from civilization for oh, like 100 years. There have been deadlines. And then even more deadlines. And before I bore you with the remarkably unsexy details of my post-married life I should just stop right there and say that I’ll catch up on some sleep when I’m dead.

If you’ll allow me to backtrack for just one moment I’d like to tell you that my backyard fruit trees have rewarded us this year; luscious, copious amounts of super-sweet fruit that always managed to fall to the ground before I can get out there to retrieve it. What I have harvested has made its way to our next door neighbor (he loves apricots), the family down the street (the whole gang even came over to help pick oranges), but because of my schedule (or is it Mother Nature’s?) I haven’t found any takers for my happy nectarines. I don’t mind that they all don’t ripen simultaneously as it gives me time to enjoy a handful of fruit over the course of a few days. Unlike that nectarine tree which makes me nervous each damn year.

I can almost hear that damn tree now.

“Hey shorty, are you ready? I’m serious…I’m sooo totally going to drop all this fruit in like 20 minutes and stand back while you crawl on the ground like a 4-year old hording the contents of a birthday piñata!”

Oh brother. Now trees are talking to me. See? I told you I wasn’t getting enough sleep.

But speaking of sleep and burning candles at both ends I woke up Monday morning scratching my head thanks to a very surreal and strange dream I had. As I normally do this time of year I always come home from work and grab a colander and head to the backyard to pick fruit that’s ready to eat. In my dream it was business as usual but for each nectarine I picked one would mysteriously — miraculously, even — appear in its place. And it made that cartoony popping sound, the kind where you put your finger inside your mouth to mimic the opening of a bottle of champagne. I wanted to find someone to tell about my strange discovery but oddly no one was around. So I stopped picking, made a cobbler, and ate the entire thing. And then the next day I did the exact same thing. And I did it all over again. And this went on for what seemed like weeks in my dream. But the best part was that I don’t really remember making the cobblers, they just appeared. And they weren’t really nectarines as much as sweet perfect orbs. But you know how dreams are and their ability to suspend reality for the most part.

I’m telling you I really need to get some sleep.

………………………………………………………………….

Peach (or 3-Week Nectarine) Cobbler from Everyday Baking

I think my fixation occurred because I happen to find fruit cobblers some of the most perfect desserts on the planet. I appreciate the lenient and generous standards I have for them — soggy? No problem! Too sweet? Give it here! However I will draw the line at a poor crust-to-fruit ratio, beware. I like the Martha Stewart recipe because it’s easy and I love Martha so much I might tattoo her name somewherespecial, Call me a kiss ass, I don’t care.

For The Filling:
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and cut again in half crosswise (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

1.  Make the filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add peaches and lemon juice; toss to combine. Divide filling evenly among four 8-ounce custard cups (or one 2-quart baking dish); transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

 2. Make the topping and bake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir just until a dough forms. Drop dough onto peaches, using about 1/3 cup dough for each custard cup. Sprinkle dough with remaining teaspoon sugar. Bake until fruit is bubbling and biscuit topping is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve warm.

The Strangest Thing I Have Never Eaten

Life in my new studio is so delightful I can’t even tell you. Located in downtown Long Beach near the Museum Of Latin American Art, it has everything I need and a few things I don’t. I’ve learned to expand my photographic wings and utilize space, building small sets and workstations as needed. And yet I still have so much space.

You know what else I have? Incredibly colorful neighbors who, despite the record levels of inebriation, are all so friendly and wonderful. People think nothing of sticking their head in the door and asking what on earth I’m doing and “so you shoot food but when do the hot models show up, man?” and it takes me back to my childhood where I knew each and every neighbor, where they lived and what they did. Contrast this with my mega-suburban home life just 5 miles away and it’s a shocking difference.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Around the corner from the studio is a charming little bodega that sells everything from syrupy Mexican sodas and ice cream to tortas and tacos. One day last week we decided to run over and grab a sandwich having previously spied the Milanesa Torta on the menu board. Plastered throughout this clean bright deli are generic food-service posters of salads and tacos but there’s one in particular that caught me eye. It was called Frito Locos and immediately my mind began to race with images of Frito Pies. Next to the poster was another for Costa Brava, a big pile of something made with Doritos and cucumbers. Costa Brava, I thought? Now that’s interesting. I looked at Adam, he looked at me, and thought “why not?” Curiosity would eventually get the better of us one day, might as well go for it now.

Ladies and gentleman, with absolutely no disrespect meant to the shop owners or the creators and lovers of the “Costa Brava”, I want to tell you that I think I just found the strangest combination of ingredients I have ever seen or tasted. And that’s saying quite a bit.

Costa-brava

Take Doritos, add raw cucumber chunks, cold squid pieces, candied peanuts, onions, jalapeños and generous doses of hot sauce and you have just created your own delightful plate of Costa Brava. And did I eat it? Absolutely not. And the entire time I kept thinking “what did the people of Spain ever do to have this dish named after them?” I’ve eaten durian, brains, eyeballs and testicles and yet I still couldn’t get past this pile of bizarre nachos.

I am sure there are lovers of things just like this and maybe I could be too if I was on a desert island with nothing else to eat and a bong the size of my leg but really, I could see no other way of enjoying this. So I took a picture. I hate wasting food.

So there you have it. The Strangest Thing I Have Never Eaten But Yes, I Tried My Darndest.

Now I ask you: what’s the strangest combination of ingredients you’ve tried?

With love and thanks on the 4th

Thank-you
 

With the special holiday weekend beginning in just a few short hours I wanted to wish everyone here in the good old USA a very wonderful Independence Day. May it be filled with laughter, great food, family and friends, some fireworks (legal, not illegal!), lots of little ones running around, fireflies, sticky fingers from bbq sauce, peaches, plums and nectarines and lots and lots of cold beer. Or wine.

Me? It’ll be a very small one over here at our place. We’re having friends over for dinner and thanks to my pal Deb from Everyday Food my dinner predicament has been solved. You can read the solution to my “problem” here.

Not that my friends are ever problems, I’m just sayin’, that’s all.

Darned picky eaters!

But before I go…

I have to thank YOU. Yes, YOU. The love you sent over with your kind congratulatory words means more to us than we could ever convey. I’m not going to get all sappy because every time I read through the comments I begin to cry. Each and every single one. I’m serious. So to all of you, bless you all and please accept our most sincere and humble thanks.

And to my youngest Chihuahua Bindi, please accept my sincere apologies knowing you hate clothing (I wonder why?) and for putting a hat on you and subjecting you to a photograph. I know the brief sensation of pure humiliation and shame will disappear when I ask if you want to go outside and have a treat.

At least I hope so.

Bindi