Dec 302013
Bourbon Berry Winter Cocktail

  We try to eat berries every day in the indieculinary household– there’s a lot of evidence that berries are a potent superfood, important for optimal health. Plus they’re delicious. Win-win. In the winter, though, when they’re out of season, we’re largely relegated to frozen berries. One can only eat so many yogurt-and-berry bowls.  I could make a cobbler, crisp, or other baked delight, but holiday treat season is over and it’s back to a little law and order around here. Enter the berry cocktail! We’ll have our berries and drink them, too. (You’ll notice any attempts at law and […]

Oct 032013
Three Bean Chorizo Chili, and Some Tips on Building and Layering Flavor in Your Own Recipe

I understand from my Facebook feed that something called “football season” has begun. My interest in the sport starts and stops with the prospect of making something yummy to be eaten during a Super Bowl party in January. To this end, I am aware that chili (robust, spicy, pairs well with beer, can be made in advance) is a popular food to accompany football viewing. There are those who say beans have no place in chili. These people are wrong. Beans add contrasting texture, body, flavor, and color. And they go spectacularly well with cheese. You want to cover your […]

Jan 132013
Good Luck Gumbo and a Guide to Developing the Right Roux

  A couple of weeks ago, I was walking around the house, preparing a grocery list and plotting some upcoming meals, including for New Year’s Day. I asked my wife what she wanted for New Year’s dinner, and she said, “Black-Eyed Peas, and Greens, of course!” Now she’s from the North and I’m from the West, but an aunt from the South has gotten us firmly entrenched in this New Year’s Day tradition. Those dishes are meant to be good luck, and to foretell a prosperous year, (the greens represent paper money; the black-eyed peas represent safety from hunger, dating […]

Dec 222012
The Christmas Tamale. Yes, It Is Time.

I grew up in California, one side of my family is Mexican, and let me be the first to tell you that it simply is not Christmas without tamales.   Some people will tell you that the proper Christmas tamale is sweet; the masa infused with cinnamon and raisins, or for the even more wayward, pineapple or strawberry. These people are wrong. The tamale you really want, this time of year, is one of savory meat in a spice-inflected red chile sauce, encased in flavorful, airy masa (treated ground cornmeal mixed with liquid and fat– more on that below), and […]

Nov 212012
Maple Jalapeno-Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

  Maple Jalapeno-Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts: this spicy, New World flavor-filled Thanksgiving offering can be Vegan. Or– it can have bacon! Adjust accordingly. I came up with this recipe years ago when I was asked to bring a vegetable side to my uncle and aunt’s Thanksgiving dinner. My uncle grills his turkey over charcoal and his spice rub is heavy on the paprika. (The resulting gravy, produced from drippings caught in a pan over the coals, is a bit of smoky heaven.) I wanted to bring a side that would complement the southwestern flavors of the main dish. And I […]

Nov 182012
Break Out of the Cranberry Mold With a Complex Chutney

  Fresh Cranberries Are Ready for Their Close-Up This week I found myself with a beautiful basket full of Meyer lemons, cayenne peppers, and other delights, courtesy of our landlords/neighbors/friends, who grow a veritable Garden (and orchard) of Eden. Meyer lemons are less acidic than standard lemons, (in fact, they’re thought to be a botanical cross between a lemon and an orange), and bring an engaging floral note to dishes. I also found myself with a need to roast a turkey this weekend.  We’ll be travelling to see family for Thanksgiving this year and they will make a delicious feast, […]

Mar 012012
Frijoles Borrachos Meet Caldo Verde for a Satisfying Late Winter Soup

    Fresh late-winter/early-spring vegetables at the Farmer’s Market combined with lingering cold temperatures make me think of soups featuring baby, hearty greens. I developed this particular soup last spring; its lingering memory made me eager to recreate it this year, with a few small variations.  (Let’s just say I added too much beer last year. A coworker walked into the breakroom while I was reheating some for lunch and asked if I was drinking. She was disappointed to learn it was just soup.) First, let’s cover the inspiration for this soup. On the one hand, we have frijoles borrachos, […]

Feb 122012
If Friends Give You Blood Oranges, Make Blood Orange Guacamole

  Blood oranges, (in my opinion, the most decadent of the citrus fruits), are in season. “You have to try this,” said some friends last night over snacks and martinis in their San Francisco kitchen, handing over a particularly crimson fruit. “It’s like candy.” I already had two blood oranges at home, and tossed another in my bag at the farmer’s market this morning to bring my haul to four. I’m not sure if they’re called blood oranges because of their bright vermillion hue, or because when you find yourself compelled to bring them to your mouth and suck them […]

Feb 062012
The Many Faces of Paprika

Paprika adds more than a red tone or generic “hot” flavor to your dishes; it lends a variety of flavors based on the type you choose.  This spice derived from ground, dried red peppers can range from sweet to spicy to smoky, subtle to intense. California produces paprika, although it has long been produced (and is a hallmark of) the cuisines of European countries such as Spain and Hungary. Hungarian paprika is typically sold as sweet or hot; and is used in traditional dishes such as goulash and paprikash. Spain, too, is a big producer of paprika.  In this country, […]

Dec 202011
Zimsterne (Star-shaped Cinnamon Cookies from Alsace)

I first tried Zimsterne on Christmas Eve morning in 2009, having purchased a bag of the appealing little star-shaped cookies the day before from a bakery off the cathedral square in Colmar, a canal-filled city in the Alsace region of France. I had no idea what they would taste like, but found their chewy cinnamon qualities an immediate delight.  It may be true that I ate the whole bag, it being Christmas Eve– an excellent excuse for such an indulgence. I returned to the States from that holiday determined to recreate the little star-shaped cookies I’d tried.  It took a […]