Having our ten-year old niece stay with us this week was a bonding experience that we will always remember. Beneath clear sunny skies we ventured around the city, admiring the vibrant spring blooms that brighten this grand metropolis. We escaped high into the hills, surrounded by fragrant Eucalyptus trees, stopping by the Griffith Observatory for an evening at the museum as well as a fascinating show on Northern Lights at the Planetarium. We visited the Long Beach aquarium, went swimming at the house where Adam grew up, and spent quality time in our garden preparing the soil and planting tomatoes, basil, kale, and zucchini. We cooked together and swapped kitchen tips: we taught her how to separate eggs for matzo ball soup, and she showed us her recipe for strawberry-ginger lemonade using freshly-picked fruit from our lemon tree. The entire week was filled with memories that we will cherish forever, and since we dropped her off at the airport yesterday afternoon, the house feels quiet without her. But we are jumping right back into the kitchen and are excited to announce our first double post with a fellow blogger! Together with Apartment Bartender, we are sharing two tropical-inspired recipes for all your Spring entertaining needs! Check out the refreshing Mango Cooler cocktail he created at apartmentbartender.com, while we introduce you to a sweet and savory appetizer that is a delicious and colorful companion for his bubbly tonic: Tostones with spicy mango salsa!
It is a magical time of year in Southern California. The skies are clear and a brilliant blue from the recent rains, the temperatures are comfortable, and in the evenings the sweet scent of jasmine fills the air. Vibrant wildflowers paint the neighborhoods with their beautiful Spring blooms, multi-colored bougainvillea vines illuminate the hills with deep pinks and purples, and the deciduous plum trees that were bare throughout the winter are now covered in white flowers and buzzing with honey bees. We have been taking advantage of this pleasant weather, spending more time outside, and enjoying working in the garden. This weekend, we had a backyard brunch party with ten of our friends; a potluck feast of crisp salads, spring berries, handcrafted cocktails from our mixologist friend Al who introduced us to the light and bubbly Mid-Morning Fizz, and the centerpiece was a double batch of our shakshuka with crusty baguettes for dipping into the hearty sauce. There’s something special about sharing a meal outdoors with friends and family, and this is the time of year to do it before it starts to get too hot. Love is in the air, spring has arrived, and so has asparagus, whose tender shoots are one of the first spring vegetables to appear after the snows of winter. This delicious and comforting soup highlights this seasonal vegetable with simple ingredients that allow the fresh, sweet flavor of just-picked asparagus to truly shine.
This week we got to be Uncles That Cook! We took a brief trip to Portland, Oregon to visit Ryan’s family, and while we love living in Southern California, with year-round warm weather and abundant sunshine, we also have a special place in our hearts for the Pacific Northwest. Ryan grew up there, and this beautiful city is truly a magical place. The people are friendly, the air is crisp and clean, and the landscape is lush and verdant green from the seasonal rains. Our two amazing nieces, Stella (10) and Lucia (8) live there and we like to see them as often as we can. This visit, they requested to make a dinner with us, so they browsed through our Index and their eyes lit up when they saw pasta puttanesca, one of the first entrees we posted here, and still an all-time favorite. So together we made a list of fresh ingredients, had a productive expedition to the local grocery store, and spent a lovely evening cooking this zesty and garlicky spaghetti. There is nothing more meaningful than preparing and sharing a meal with family, especially with kids, and we feel so fortunate to spend time with these two smart, sweet, and funny girls! And even though we have been delightedly living off this delicious pasta these past few rainy days, you can never have too much garlic. It adds depth to a variety of recipes, and is a pleasure to cook with as its inviting aroma fills the kitchen with a powerful and comforting fragrance. The recipe we are sharing today calls for plenty of this remarkable herb. Filled with eight cloves of chopped garlic, tangy artichoke hearts, an entire bag of fresh spinach, and three kinds of cheeses, this garlic bread is a perfect side to any dinner, and the showstopper at your next party.
On Saturday we hiked Fish Canyon Falls, over five miles of breathtaking trails lined with shady oaks, blue agaves, and multi-colored wildflowers carpeting the hillsides glowing with fragrant white sage, located in the Angeles National Forest just thirty minutes from our home. The winding path follows a clear stream, and because of the recent winter rains, it was rushing through the bottom of the canyon, creating a peaceful soundtrack of flowing water nearly the entire time. At the end of the trail, we were greeted by a majestic 3-tiered, 80-foot waterfall that was cascading in full force. It was a beautiful day and we were so happy to discover yet another hidden area of natural beauty so close to the city. After spending the morning hiking through the woods, stumbling upon abandoned cabins, and adventuring in the hills, we came home to find a package waiting for us on our doorstep that we had been anticipating for several months. Our friend Emilie (theclevercarrot.com) just wrote her first cookbook and we were so excited for its arrival, especially after seeing so many other bloggers making beautiful creations from it and posting photos and rave reviews online. Epicurious named The Clever Cookbook as one of “spring’s best cookbooks” and after browsing through this gem and making one dish so far, we clearly understand why. It is filled with inspiring recipes that we can’t wait to try: cauliflower bolognese, chai pancakes with cinnamon butter, banana cloud cake, and the list goes on! Today we are so excited to share this easy zucchini and brown rice gratin from her book that has graced our kitchen twice this week and has already become one of our new favorite dinners.
It was raining and windy this weekend in Los Angeles. The rugged San Gabriel mountains are visible in the distance, white and glowing with freshly-fallen snow. The birds are quiet, and the lizards that normally transform our yard into a mini-Jurrasic Park during the summertime are asleep for the winter. Heavy clouds may prevent the sun from shining, but there is a variety of beautiful flowers in bloom whose colors actually appear most vivid on these gloomy days. Deciduous trees scatter fallen leaves throughout the neighborhood while others like the citrus are producing an abundance of fruit that illuminate the landscape and decorate the last few chilly days of January with their vibrant colors and sunny flavors. This cold weather demands comforting things like hot cups of ginger tea, and after-dinner mugs of hot nutella spiked with frangelico. But there is absolutely nothing that says “warm and comforting” like a relaxing bowl of matzo ball soup, and today we are thrilled to be sharing a vegetarian version of this classic that boasts perfectly cooked matzo balls—light, fluffy and buttery—which are simmered in a flavorful broth with chopped carrots, celery, onions, minced garlic, and topped with aromatic sprigs of fresh dill. Brace yourself winter, matzo ball soup is coming.