Jan 31, 2011

hot oat cereal with bananas and apricots

since this winter has been kind of, um, special, i've been really into this hearty, life-sustaining, oat bran cereal lately. oat bran makes a great hot cereal, kind of creamy and light, really smooth, not remotely lumpy or even gloppy. this hot cereal has far more in common with cream of wheat than oatmeal. but the flavor, oaty deliciousness all the way. also, it cooks in 2 minutes. a new record even for me.

i read an interview a few years back with thomas keller, of the french laundry, arguably one of the most famous chefs in the world. well, in this inteview which was sort of about what chefs eat at home, he revealed that he brings little packets of instant oatmeal with him when he travels. he asks the hotel to bring up a pitcher of hot water, which is free, and makes his own oatmeal for breakfast, avoiding the pitfalls of expensive and heavy hotel breakfasts. brilliant. and hot oat cereals have been permanently validated in my mind ever since, because if it's good enough for thomas keller, it is definitely good enough for me, at home or away.

hot oat cereal with bananas and dried apricots
2 servings
1 cup oat bran
1 banana, sliced
6 dried apricots, snipped into tiny pieces
1 1/2 cups boiled water

first boil some water, a kettle works nicely for this. in a small saucepan, place the cereal and fruit, pour the heated water over all. stir briskly over medium heat for 1 minute. allow to rest on medium/low heat for another minute or two, stirring occasionally. scoop into bowls. the bananas and apricots get soft and sweet and flavor the cereal as they cook. drizzle with a little natural local honey for a touch of added sweetness. this will make you happy all morning long.

Jan 28, 2011

the joy of simple roasted root vegetables

i love roasted vegetables all year long, but especially in the cold, early darkness of winter. just turning on the oven to preheat makes the kitchen seem warm and productive. then, just a little chopping, a quick toss with a few generous swirls of olive oil and a cavalier sprinkling of salt and off they go. these could make a meal on their own with just a bit of cous cous on the side, or maybe a side of some terrific hearth bread and marinated goat cheese. traditionally, they make a terrific accompaniment to roasted or grilled meat, or even a simple risotto.

the mix is always slightly different in our house, whatever we have on hand really. this time i used celery root, golden beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes and russet potatoes. however turnips, rutabagas, any of the winter squashes, they all work equally well. be creative here, it's fun to experiment. i like to cut them fairly small, which maximizes the crispy browned edges and makes for quick even cooking times.

roasted root vegetables
preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit, or if you've got a convection roast setting, 375°

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 celeriac bulb, peeled and chopped
2 golden beets, peeled and chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

couldn't be much simpler really. peel and chop your mix of vegetables. place in a medium size bowl. add several large swirls of olive oil. toss while giving a good dose of sea salt, i am really liking grey sea salt lately. slide into a roasting pan. set in your preheated oven. and forget about them for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven, and your pan and how browned you like them. wonderful. and not just for restaurants. i think roasted vegetables are sadly under-represented in american cookbooks, which makes no sense because they are such a simple wonderful delicious thing to make. enjoy.

Jan 27, 2011

snow snow + more snow

okay. yesterday when i said that was a lotta snow. i didn't know what i was talking about. this morning, though, actually, we do have a lot of snow. i'll be shoveling my way to fitness most of the day. so glamorous. jealous? yeah, i didn't think so. just one more sip of green tea latte before i get to it. xo, g

Jan 26, 2011

still snowing

my that's a lot of snow.

it is such a regular occurrence now, these snowstorms, every 4 or 5 days this month, that it just seems normal somehow. and kind of miraculous. always fresh and beautiful. enjoy. xo, g

Jan 20, 2011

a thing of beauty is a joy forever

this awesome mortar and pestle was a holiday gift from r. carved from a single piece of carrarra marble in italy with brilliant classic looking symmetrical knob handles, and a serious heft to keep it in place no matter what. i love it. i've seen antique ones that look exactly the same. i've wanted one for ages. only problem is, it is so beautiful i am afraid to use it.

it seems more like a classical sculpture than a hardworking kitchen tool. i use a mortar and pestle a couple of times a month: to make a garlic chile cilantro paste, in vietnamese or thai dishes, to make a spice paste for biryani, to make sesame paste for japanese dishes, or salsa for mexican and central american dishes. oh such culinary adventures we will have together. i suppose you could say the discoloration and stains and scratches will only enhance it over time, and that a storied life is probably the very best kind, far better than gathering dust on a shelf.

time to break it in then, no more sitting up on the shelf watching the days go idly by for you dear mortar.

Jan 17, 2011


sometimes the simplest food is the best. some california organic raspberries and the lightest sprinkling of sugar. a cup of black tea with milk. a wonderful start to the day.

Jan 13, 2011

wherin the garden and yard are no longer visible as they have all been covered in crema

all i can think when i look outside is "i want a latte with extra foam please" it all looks delicious. smooth and creamy, soft and fluffy, a bit of sparkle. poor shrubberies. well, nothing going on here. just snow. sometimes that is enough. xo, g

Jan 8, 2011


garden armillary
epic sledding hill

freshly powdered. love it when there is fresh snow and there is no wind, so the trees keep their frosted appearance. winter wonderland look. listening to a lively cello lesson in the next room. apricot oat bars just out of the oven. a cup of wonderful itoen black tea. most of the shoveling done last night. movie from netflix we really want to watch. plenty of firewood. cheerful and silent midterm preparations going on. cool projects underway in the studio. wonderful winter weekend. its all in the mix.

Jan 7, 2011

good fortune and happiness in the new year

many cultures have special foods to celebrate the new year. in germany, sauerkraut brings you good luck, in the american south collard greens enhance your fortune, and the danish eat kale. in japan, mochi is an important new years food, prawns will bring you a long life, sweet beans will bring you good health, and sweet potatoes will bring you happiness.

especially important this year, greens for financial fortune. some believe the more greens you eat at the start of the new year, the greater your financial rewards in the coming year. well, after the last few years, i didn't want to take any chances. so we've eaten lots and lots of greens this week. and added in some sweet potatoes for extra happiness, which is always an important ingredient in any year.

new year's day we started out at dim sum eating lots and lots of chive dumplings, hargow shrimp dumplings and sauteed chinese greens. then at dinner that night i made swiss chard, one of my favorite greens, and japanese mountain potatoes (dense sweet potatoes). delicious. super easy to prepare.

swiss chard sauteed with garlic
2 large bunches swiss chard
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP olive oil
2/3 cup water

wash the chard. strip the leaves from the stems with your hands or with a knife. trim the stems into 1 inch lengths. next, tear the leaves into large bite size pieces.

heat a large saute pan on medium high heat. add the olive oil and toss in the garlic, swirl around for about 1 minute. add in the chard stems and the 2/3 cup of water. bring to a boil and cover. let simmer for about 8 minutes on medium heat, until tender. stir occasionally, check to make sure there is still some water in the pan so nothing burns. add in the chard leaves and the teaspoon of salt. bring the heat back up to high and saute for 4-5 minutes until the leaves are wilted. now, for the secret technique, turn the heat down to the lowest low, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. the chard and garlic will steam and caramelize and sweeten beautifully.

roasted japanese mountain potatoes*
(these look just like american sweet potatoes with slightly more purple skins and a denser, more yellow flesh)
4 large japanese yams
olive oil
a sprinkling of salt

preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

scrub potatoes. rub with a little olive oil. sprinkle with salt. place on small foil lined baking sheet. place sheet in preheated oven and bake for 60 minutes. serve with butter. yum. dense, rich and sweet, great texture.

health, happiness and good fortune all around.

*japanese mountain potatoes or yams are available sometimes at whole foods and almost always at japanese groceries and asian groceries. any sweet potatoes or yams can substitute for the japanese variety.

Jan 2, 2011

snow ball

did you have a lovely holiday? we did. then a blizzard. nearly 2 feet of heavy snow, drifts, and high winds, for days. then we dug out, for days. which gave us a refreshing sense of purpose. then we celebrated the beginning of 2011.

and now here we are. this morning we woke to thick mist, the drip drip drip of melting snow, a warming trend. a very mysterious beginning, filled with great possibilities and a whiff of adventure.

wishing you a brilliant 2011. xo, g