Four years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Japan for the first time. Adam’s band was performing at the Fuji Rock Festival, high in the mountains three hours north of Tokyo. After the last show, the rest of the group went home while the two of us ventured around the country for ten days, falling completely in love with the Japanese people and their inspiring culture. We took bullet trains to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and Hiroshima, traveling across the countryside, spending a few days in each city, visiting pristine gardens and ancient Buddhist temples, while learning where to find the best vegetarian meals and how to properly ask for them. Throughout the day, we often found ourselves saying, “watashi wa bejitarian desu,” hoping they would understand that we were politely communicating, “I am vegetarian.” We snacked on inari (sweet tofu pockets filled with sushi rice), we lived off onigiri with umeboshi (white rice triangles wrapped in seaweed with a sour plum center), we found unique tiny restaurants on hidden side streets serving bowls of hot udon noodles, ramen, and miso soup, we tried a savory pancake called okonomiyaki, sampled multiple flavors of sweet mochi candies, and discovered a delicious noodle dish called zaru soba. This light and refreshing entree quickly became our go-to meal in Japan, and since it is served cold, it makes a perfect summertime dinner that is easy to prepare and fun to eat!
Last week you traveled with us to the Caribbean. We gently swayed back and forth upon the warm Atlantic ocean on a private boat while watching a tropical sunrise and enjoying a delicious coconut mojito cake. We love visiting new places and it’s even better when you come with us! So pack your bags and bring an appetite because today we are going to Italy! And with three clicks of our heels, here we are on a romantic Summer evening in Rome. The temperatures have cooled and a soft breeze fills the air, scented with the aroma of sizzling garlic. You hear laughter and clinking glasses as you walk past an old restaurant from the 1600’s built entirely from stone, and out front an older man in a black suit with combed grey hair and a neighborly smile is playing an antique accordion that fills the streets with traditional music, while couples holding hands walk by with satisfied bellies and adventure in their eyes. The night is young, so let’s go exploring, find some delicious food, a bottle of red wine, and see if we can learn a few tricks in the kitchen.
This past weekend we welcomed December with a truly epic winter holiday drink. Kevin Masse posted a recipe on the feedfeed for a double chocolate bourbon milkshake with peppermint bark, and it turned out to be just as amazing as it sounds. We shared a photo of this festive drink on our Instagram page, so be sure to follow us there so you stay up to date with all our posts! In between sipping these wintry milkshakes, we also managed to fit in some recipe testing to mixed results. We tried making a jambalaya which took over three hours, and a kale risotto, but both turned out to be a lot of work with very little payoff. Thankfully, our third contestant was a clear winner: a delicious pasta, with more flavor than the jambalaya and kale risotto combined, that comes together quickly in under 30 minutes. During this holiday season, amidst all the sweet cakes, cookies, and kugels, this simple and light meal is a breath of fresh air.
On a bookshelf next to our kitchen, you will find a large green binder containing 204 pages of recipes (we recently counted!) which we have been collecting over the past ten years. It is filled with scribbled notes, comments, and detailed descriptions of where they came from. It is meticulously alphabetized and divided into six categories: Main Courses, Sides, Cakes, Cookies, Other Desserts, and Breakfasts. On the thirtieth page of the Sides section, nestled comfortably between a no-mayo potato salad from Rachael Ray and a Puerto Rican pique sauce, lies this glorious sweet baked dish. And at the bottom of the recipe is a handwritten note from December 2010 declaring it the “best kugel we have ever had.” This traditional noodle casserole adapted from Gourmet Magazine stole the show at our Hanukkah party five years ago and we have continued to make it every year since.
There is nothing better than enjoying a hot cup of soup on a cold day. Sometimes you just want to stay home in pajamas, cuddle up under soft blankets and watch old episodes of The Twilight Zone. These grey Monday skies are calling for something warm and comforting as the weather here in Los Angeles is finally changing from summer to a cool, crisp fall. This healthy greek spinach and orzo soup is warm, soothing, and makes a delicious dinner that is tangy and bursting with lemon flavor. It is pleasantly and lightly filling, and ideal after this festive holiday with so many rich dishes, indulgent sweets, and bountiful leftovers. After four days of Thanksgiving stuffing, casseroles, and homemade pies, this hearty bowl of soup will gently calm your soul and satisfy your senses.