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.
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.
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.