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Savory Baked French Toast Croque Monsieur (with Ham and Cheese)

French Toast 1-4 I don’t really understand the marketing of Mother’s Day. I see all these floral pastel cards and delicate lacy handkerchiefs and early morning breakfast in bed and advertisements for “brunch” and “afternoon tea” with fussy hats implied. Let me set the record straight. I am a mom, and I know a lot of moms. An informal survey of what our ideal Mother’s Day would look like involves 1) sleeping in; 2) a pedicure with some celebrity gossip magazines; 3) sushi; 4) chocolate and 5) lots of wine. Maybe this holiday doesn’t sell so well on a greeting card, but it sounds pretty awesome to me. Too awesome to be an also-ran Mother’s Day. Maybe I will name it something else, like “Saturday”. And it will fall once a week. If your Mother’s Day veers towards the more traditional, or you’re trying to fill the time between pedicures, sushi and wine, try cooking brunch at home, and avoid the overpriced and overcrowded restaurant brunch options. (For more on this, see Brooke of FoodWoolf’s insider’s take on the restaurant Mother’s Day brunch. If you’re not feeling confident in your hollandaise sauce, or you’re a late sleeper yourself and don’t want a giant fuss in the morning, this is the brunch dish for you. [...]

A Super Bowl of Dip — Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip 2

I hate to say that I don’t care about the Super Bowl because it’s such a lame girl thing to say. On the other hand, I don’t really care about the Super Bowl. And I am kind of a lame girl. In my defense, L.A. hasn’t had a pro football team in years, so I can’t exactly root for the hometown. But the truth is, I’m just not really a pro football kind of girl.

Football food, however, is something I can get behind, because I am an appetizer kind of girl. Salty, spicy bite sized morsels? Yes please. Creamy dips with crunchy chips? Absolutely. I remember a highlight of my college dining hall experience being Super Bowl Sunday — in addition to the regular Sunday night fare like lentil tortilla rollups or Salisbury steak (this was before Alice Waters reformed my college dining hall) the chefs would provide an array of traditional Super Bowl nibbles for students to take to the buttery or back to their rooms to watch the big game. Things like nachos and hot dogs were popular, but what I looked forward to every year were the delicious crunchy spicy cheesy bites of goodness — the jalapeno poppers. My roommate and I would load our plate and head back to our room to read poetry (our freshman year, when we were intellectuals), listen to Tori Amos (sophomore year, when we were angsty) or watch girly movies (junior and senior year, when we were cool). OK, so we were kind of lame girls. But we were lame girls with jalapeno poppers (and our Caribbean themed spa party that took place during the Super Bowl senior year was super fun. We made blue cocktails and cranked up the heat in our room and gave each other pedicures).

Now I’m married to a boy who did not grow up in Los Angeles and does not have that as an excuse, and he likes watching the Super Bowl to boot, sadly without pedicures, which means my only consolation is the snacks. (And the commercials). Oddly enough, jalapeno poppers can be tough to find here in L.A. (which is usually a city where jalapenos are ubiquitous). Fortunately, I’ve managed to recreate the creamy spicy crunchy goodness in an easy to make dip form, which has the added bonus of tortilla chips. [...]

Flavors of Fall — Arugula Salad with Persimmons and Gouda

Persimmon 3
Fall produce – what do you think of? Apples, of course. Brussels Sprouts. Take a page from Thanksgiving and think sweet potatoes and cranberries. And pumpkins are, of course, inescapable, their leering visages popping up everywhere you go. Although I personally love all of these, the autumn crop which gets me all hot and bothered is the persimmon.
This salad combines some of the best flavors of fall, with persimmons, toasted walnuts and a dressing made from apple cider and apple cider vinegar. This is tied together with peppery arugula and a mellow, nutty aged gouda. It calls for the squat Fuyu persimmons — don’t use Hachiya unless you enjoy wearing your lips in a perfect pucker. Enjoy it as a counterpart to all the Halloween candy that abounds today! [...]

Love at First Bite — Cannoli Cream


Some recipes sneak up on you. You get a cookbook or a magazine, you read through it in a leisurely fashion, maybe try a recipe or two, and set it aside. A few months later, you pick it up again, notice a picture that looks tasty, and forget about it. Fast forward a few months, and you finally make the recipe and think it’s only OK. And then you start to crave it and it finally, finally becomes part of your repertoire.
Then there are recipes you fall for at first glance – bam. You see it and your mind starts racing around the possibilities and you can’t wait to get into the kitchen and try it out.
This is one of those. [...]

RIP Childhood — Flatbread Pizzas With Fennel


It’s funny how life works. We spend our entire childhoods longing to grow up, so eager to join the ranks of adulthood that we can almost taste it. To a child, the charms of being grown up are many — driving cars, earning money, wearing fancy clothes, eating cereal for dinner WHENEVER YOU WANT TO, being on your own (and lets be frank — alcohol and sex also hold their own lures. And, um, voting?) Of course, a few years into adulthood we find ourselves in the thick of reality – our commute is too long, jobs are hard to come by and difficult to do, we have to wear a suit when we’d rather wear yoga pants, cereal for dinner means we haven’t managed to get anything worthwhile onto the table, and we wish we ddn’t have to be on our own — that someone would just take care of everything for us. (I’m not knocking cocktails, sex or voting, however.)

In the past couple days, I’ve been thinking about one of those childhood pleasures which is rarely duplicated by adults — the sleepover. On a Friday night like this one, I’d go home after school with my friend Stacey. We’d go swimming in the afternoon, rummage around in her glamorous older sister’s room, make ourselves English muffin pizzas for dinner, then lay out sleeping bags on the floor of her family room and watch movies on betamax — Sixteen Candles, the Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and my personal favorite — Some Kind of Wonderful. We’d stay up late and tell secrets, and in the morning Stacey’s dad would make us coffee ice cream milkshakes for breakfast. There’s a special magic to a sleepover — it’s almost as good as being grown up. Making your own pizza! Staying up late! Eating ice cream for breakfast! And of course, those wonderful movies about the perils of growing up, of following your heart, of living in an unfriendly world, that we were too young to really empathize with but loved nonetheless. [...]