Archive for the 'Vlog' Category

Rainbows, Bunnies & Puppy Dog Tails

When Disney decides to do something – they can’t help but to do it right. I was invited to a great performance, the opening city tour of Disney California Adventure’s newest attraction “World of Color Road Show“, at the San Francisco Palace Legion of Honor. The World of Color Road Show has four different cities and four different theme shows on tap. Since San Francisco is bursting with Amore alla Tony Bennett’s unforgettable song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”, the theme du noir was L-O-V-E. And love it was, as I admired the all that Disney’s Sr. Show Director, John Addis, and his team created. (While I didn’t manage to capture great images, I did find these wonderful images by Photographer Matthew Kajoika)

It was 12 minutes of incredible optical and auditory transformation which completely metamorphosed this historical building within seconds. It was memorizing and memorable. The only thing missing to complete this experience was a meal of color; and despite the yummy themed cookie bestowed upon me, when I reflected upon this experience I wanted to share with you my favorite colorful dessert growing up. Rainbow finger Jell-O.

Rainbow Finger Jell-O


1 (14 oz can) sweetened condensed milk
7 sm packages Knox gelatin
1 (3 oz) package strawberry Jell-O
1 (3 oz) package orange Jell-O
1 (3 oz) package lime Jell-O
1 (3 oz) package blueberry Jell-O


Using non-stick cooking spray an coat a 9×13 pan.

Filling layers:
Dissolve 2 envelopes gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. Add 1 cup boiling water to condensed milk. Mix dissolved gelatin with milk and add 1 cup more of boiled water.

To make these fabulous rainbow layers: Use 1 box Jell-O at a time. Mix 1 envelope Knox gelatin with 1/4 cup cold water. Add 1 cup boiling water, and 1 box Jell-O. Remove any bubbles that may have formed. Pour Jell-O in pan. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes until set.

Pour 3/4 cup filling over set Jell-O. Chill 15-20 minutes. Continue Jell-O, filling etc., ending with Jell-O on top. Chill until firm. Slice into squares and serve chilled. And there you have it, 7 layer Rainbow Jello. Should take approx 2 hrs to chill and make all of the layers.

Note: Do not make the Jell-O as directed on the package. Make each package as directed above – for each package of Jell-O, add 1 package or 1 TBS of gelatin and 1 cup boiling water. Mix each layer separately in containers. Let stand till room temperature, stirring occasionally.

And if you would like to watch the World of Color Show, while eating your rainbow Jell-O, click away….

I enjoyed spending time with fellow-gal bloggers
The Silent I, Chalk and Cheese Chronicles, Tippytoes & Tantrums, Who’s the Boss?, and Xiaolinmama. And the other great ladies I had the honor of spending time with Techmama, Dear Bad Kitty, and Garza Girl!

Squeezing out some fun

I recently had the opportunity to see Chef Michael Chiarello. I had been to Tra Vigne frequented his store Napa Style and am setting my plan for a special visit to Bottega this summer. He has captivated me on TV and is no less charming in person- what I did discover is that he is a wonderful story teller and that he too has his roots in Southern Italy.

Leading the charge to unearth some really wonderful insights into the life and times of Michael was Table Hopper’s Marcia Gagliardi (yes, another Pisan you can follow on Twitter @tablehopper). And to finish off the evening was a recipe for one of Michael’s ‘bites’ and then a tasting of the recipe paired with some wine from his private vineyard.

There are three videos to this post two which show Chef Chiarello making the artichoke crostini bites and the other from his interview with Marcia when he speaks of how he learned to tenderize an octopus while cooking for the King of Thailand. I encourage you to watch all three as they could quickly become party stories amongst the foodies.

Artichoke Crostini Bites
Note: There are two ingredients lists and two sets of directions.

Chef Chiarello’s Tips/Tricks:
1) Select artichokes that are tightly closed heads and be sure to trim away any dark green spots. These will be bitter.
2) He likes to call this one of his master recipes as it is truly versatile. It can be used as an appetizer, as this recipe depicts, or as a sauce for fish, as a pesto for pasta or even as a soup by adding a few new nuances.
3) To make this into a pesto: add 1/2 cup tightly packed (cleaned) basil when blending. As a fish sauce, add a bit of tarragon, for a soup add in some extra broth and cream.

Artichoke Puree Ingredients

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
3 large cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped fresh
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 medium size or 4 large artichokes (or 1 12oz-package frozen artichokes, thawed)*
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
1 tsp lemon zest
Burrata cheese-optional for topping

Note: If you are using frozen artichokes you will want to peel off a few leaves to deep fry as decoration. If you are using fresh artichokes you may want to use a mandolin and thinly slice 1/2 of an artichoke as decoration.


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Working with one artichoke at a time, bend the tough outter leaves backwards until they break (the video shows exactly how to do this). Continue to remove the leaves in the manner until reaching the more tender interior leaves that are at a yellowish green color. Taking a serrated knife, cut across the leaves at the point where the color changes from yellowish to dark green. Trim the stem of its outer layer, then trim the base to 1-2 inches removing any dark green spots. Quarter the artichokes lengthwise and scoop out the purple colored choke. Place the quarter artichokes in a large size bowl, add in the the lemon juice, salt and pepper turning to coat.

In a deep ovenproof pan, combine 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Add the artichokes and mix to coat. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Cover with pan with aluminum foil, transfer to the oven, and cook until the artichokes are slightly browned and tender when pierced, approximately 35 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside and cool in the liquid. Remove the bay leaf.

When the artichokes are cooled, place along with the liquid into a food processor, add beans, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until the mixture is chunky. With the machine running, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until smooth.

Remove Burrata cheese from the refrigerator.

Serves 8 – 10 (makes approximately 2 cups)

Crostini Ingredients

1 loaf crusty bread, sliced into 1/2-inch slices (better if it is a day+ old)
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crostini Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

On a baking sheet, arrange the bread slices in a single layer. Using a pastry brush, brush the bread with 1/4 cup of the oil. (If you don’t have a pastry bush, just drizzle olive oil over the bread.) Bake until golden brown and crisp, approximately 9-12 minutes.

Bake until bread is golden brown and crisp, about 8 to 9 minutes. Spoon the artichoke mixture onto the crostini. Place a piece of Burrata cheese on top (or sprinkle Parmesan cheese), add decorate with fried artichoke hearts. Drizzle with oil and serve.

To follow Chef Michael Chiarello on Twitter @ChefChiarello
Let me know if you loved his method for squeezing lemons as much as I did. I tried it but found it was a bit painful. My aunt’s secret to getting all of the lemon juice out of the lemon is to first roll the lemons on a firm surface to soften them. She then places them one at a time in the microwave for 35 seconds, cuts them open and squeezes the juice out.

The Pancake (disambiguation) – A foreign cook-u-mentory

While I certainly could bore you with jumping right into my post on how to make a German pancake (which I earnestly tell you is a great new video cook-u-mentory) I thought I would amuse you with a bit of background on the various types of pancakes found in our vernacular (a few of my favorites excerpted from Wikipedia):

Pancake is a batter cake fried in a pan. Pancake may also mean:

* In volleyball, a pancake is a pass technique executed by sliding the hand palm-down on the court during a dive, so that the ball bounces off of the back of the hand
* Pancake makeup is a cosmetic used for heavy coverage and evening out skin tone. In cake form, the make-up is usually applied with a damp cosmetic sponge and dries to a smooth, matte finish. The Max Factor company created pancake make-up in the 1930s as an improvement on easily-smearing greasepaint used on stage.
* In American football, a pancake block denotes the flattening (pushing to the ground) of an opposing lineman by a blocker
* A pancake landing is an emergency aircraft landing maneuver where the craft drops flat onto the ground from a low altitude
* In the arts, a “pancake” is a platform 1/8 the size of an apple box
* In construction, “pancaking” refers to the collapse of floors in a building, one on top of the other, in a manner which resembles a stack of pancakes.
* In professional wrestling, a pancake is another variated name for the professional wrestling maneuver Flapjack

That covers the random pancake disambiguation segment of this post. Now onto the cook-u-mentory on Sarah’s German pancakes.

Lower Saxony German Pancakes (AKA Pfannkuchen Fischkopf)


6 eggs
6 TBS sugar
1 cup milk
4 TBS flour
1 tsp water
pinch of salt
2 -4 TBS butter (to coat pan, do not use all at once)
2 bananas, sliced (optional)
1 container strawberries, sliced (optional)
4 kiwi fruit, sliced (optional)
chocolate sauce or Nutella (optional)
jam (optional)
chocolate candy, cut into small squares (optional)
powdered sugar (optional)


In medium size bowl add eggs and mix well with hand whisk. Add sugar, milk, flour, and water. Continue to stir until there are no lumps of flour remaining, approximately 2 minutes. Add in salt and do a final mix. Set aside.

Prepare fruit and other toppings and place in bowls.

On medium heat, butter a medium-large size pan. Spread batter evenly around the pan. When edges begin to pull away from side, flip pancake over. Place pancakes in warm oven on plate until all of the batter has been used. Serve with desired toppings. Roll up and eat with hands or fork and knife!

Sidebar: I’ve learned from Sarah that often times people from Lower Saxony are called Fish-Heads or Fischkopf. These lovely pancakes are anything but fishy 🙂 They are quite similar to a crepe and seem like more of a dessert treat than a meal although I am told that this is a favorite lunchtime meal.

Frittata Pronounced “freet-TAH-tah”.

By definition, frittata is an open-faced (unfolded) omelet that originated in Italy – usually round in shape with other ingredients mixed into the egg mixture. Growing up this dish was more common to me than anything from McDonald’s – we ate it while observing meat free holidays, we ate it as a vegetable side dish, we at it for lunch with a salad and we *always* ate it in a sandwich. To me, frittata was on par with those comforting meatloaf sandwiches. In primary school I was always the child with the odd bag lunch (albeit the BEST lunch bag – that is until I had to start making my own lunch and then the quality greatly suffered). I seldom ever ate a ham and cheese sandwich, I ate prosciutto or egg salad or a breaded cutlet sandwich on sourdough bread, and I had no clue how lucky I was to eat such great food combinations.

Confession: Since it is nearly Sunday, it seemed appropriate to let you know that this post comes with a great deal of guilt. I was home sick and I tricked my mother, who hates photos/videos, to make the basic potato/egg frittata. She was anything but happy and she eventually complied, but know that she did this under protest. What I love most about this post is hearing her voice, watching her cook and that despite not wanting to do this vlog she did it for ME. It is really the little wins in life that are the most gratifying sometimes. Maybe someday she will even read this blog and smile like I do when I watch her cooking…love you mom!

Note: It seems that people looking at this post from Internet Explorer are not able to see the remainder of the post. I am working on resolving the problem. Please let me know if you would like the recipe and I will email it to you along w/the video links.

Potato Frittata


3 Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch thick rounds
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
8 eggs
1/4 cup fresh parsley (or 1 TBS dried)
1 TBS Italian Seasoning
1/2 – 1 cup olive oil + more for frying potatoes and onions
salt and pepper to taste


In a large-size non-stick pan fry potatoes in hot olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once potatoes have become crispy and brown, remove from pan and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain off excess oil.

Using the same pan, add another light layer of olive oil and saute onions and garlic until onions become soft and translucent.

In medium size bowl, scramble eggs and add in parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well.

In a deep-sided pan (or frittata pan) add 1/2 – 1 cup oil and cook on a medium-high heat (the oil should cover the bottom of the pan as well as go up the sides of the pan approximately 1/4 of an inch). Add in half of the egg mixture. Ensure the egg is covering the entire bottom of the pan by using a fork to pull the egg out towards the sides, covering up any visible holes in the mixture. Layer potatoes on top of the eggs, slightly pushing them down until all of the potatoes have been used. Cover the potatoes with the remaining egg mixture. Turn temperature down to medium-low. Using a spatula, gently press down around the edges and slightly pull the frittata away from the sides of the pan, moving it towards the middle. This will prevent the egg from burning and enable the mixture to further sink down into the pan. Cook 20-25 minutes on side one.
** If you are not using a frittata pan cover the top of the pan with a plate or a lid. In order to cook the frittata on the other side, invert it onto a plate and then put it back into the pan and cook the previously exposed side for 15-20 minutes – it is best to do this over the sink or a baking sheet to catch the excess oil.
** If you are using a frittata pan, it is recommended to turn the pan over while at the sink or over a baking sheet so that the oil does not spill out and cause a fire. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

Mixture Consistency

Mixture Consistency

Cooking the frittata.

Cooking the frittata.

(freet)TAH-DA! {say it out loud, it is much funnier}

(freet)TAH-DA! {say it out loud, it is much funnier}

Cooking from the heart – friendship & artichokes

I think it was a chance meeting that we became friends, freshman year at college during orientation week – there were some mutual ‘friends’ involved in the introduction and there was nothing particularly poignant about our first conversation but I remember that she seemed like someone I would enjoy hanging out with – she had a great smile, perfect teeth, long dark curly hair, a contagious laugh AND she was one of the other five brunettes on the campus field that day. (Just on the merit of her undyed hair I needed to make this alliance work. If you’ve ever been to SoCal you’ll know that if you are not blond, you are an oddity.) How or when we actually became true friends happened months later, but often beginnings are simple and this one was no different except that this is our story. And of course I’ve locked many of the zesty stories in my ‘vault’ because this post is not about the lurid details of my past indiscretions with one of my dear friends (which would certainly gain a greater blog following but I refuse to sell out….just yet) but it is about how we cooked together and have shared years of food at restaurants, cafes and in our various kitchens over the years. She is an excellent cook and I treasure our weekends spent discovering what we will cook – so when I proposed that we jump into vlogging together for she surprised me and said, “Let’s do it!”

(Sorry folks, our featured cook became a bit shy and asked to have this vlog tucked back into the vault- good news is that her amazing recipe remains here and is one of my favorites.)

Lebanese Stuffed Artichokes alla Sue Barkett Zumout


4 medium-sized artichokes
1lb. ground top sirloin 90% lean
1lb. ground top sirloin 80% lean
1 cup rice
3 large red onions, 1 quartered & 2 sliced thinly
1/8 small size sweet red pepper (seeded)
1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed/dried & loosely packed
2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced rounds ¼ inch thick
6 cups tomato juice
1 (8 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 TBS allspice
2 tsps cumin
1 TBS Kosher Salt
2 tsp black pepper


In a food processor, add one large quartered onion, mint and red pepper. Mix until pureed. Place meat in a large mixing bowl. Add pureed mixture, uncooked rice, allspice, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well (preferably by hand.) Place in refrigerator.

To clean artichokes, start by cutting the stem off the bottom. Remove all small or dry leaves at the base of the artichoke that may be too tough to eat. To remove the sharp thorns, snip off the tips of the leaves with a pair of scissors. Use a serrated knife to cut and flatten out the top of the artichoke. To open the artichoke and make it easier to stuff, smash the top of the artichoke, top side down, against your cutting board. Wash and dry artichokes. To be certain that the water does not remain trapped in the leaves it is best to dry the artichoke upside down on a towel.

Sautée two large onions in olive oil until translucent. Salt and pepper to taste.
When stuffing the artichoke, always start from the top and work down toward the bottom. For this recipe, start ¼ of the way down from the top, otherwise there will be too much meat. Take large gumball-sized pieces of the meat mixture and gently place behind the leaves working down until all but the top ¼ of leaves are filled.

Line a large pot with olive oil. Place ¼ inch thick slices of potato at the bottom of the pot and lightly salt. This is done so that the artichokes do not burn (and they are a tasty addition to the meal.) Place the artichokes in the pot. Because of the size of the stuffed artichokes it may be difficult to fit them along the bottom of the pot and they may need to be layered against each other. It is important to keep in mind that in order for the stuffed artichokes to cook properly the lid will need to fit securely on top. Add tomato juice, diced tomatoes, ½ tsp salt and the remaining two sautéed onions over the top of the artichokes. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting every 25 minutes. When leaves can easily be pulled from the artichokes the meal is properly cooked.

Tips and Tricks:
– For large parties, consider placing artichokes in a turkey roasting pan, cooking on the stove with two burners. One turkey roaster can fit 8-10 artichokes.
– If additional meat remains after stuffing the artichokes, consider:
a) freezing it for another time as this stuffing can be used with many different vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers and potatoes (some of these vegetables need to be slightly hollowed before filling)
b) rolling meat into small rounded balls and then adding them to boiling chicken broth for a delicious meat and rice soup.

Don’t miss out on Sue’s blog or her tweets!

Sweet Hot Norwegian Buns

I promise AND I deliver. The recipe that encapsulated my year of Norwegian food with Siri. The cooking was wonderful but somehow, no matter where you travel on your food escapades, favorites always come back to comfort food. (Don’t deny it- it is Truth-ology because as much as you “L-O-V-E” your green beans and pancetta you ‘LOVE LOVE LOVE’ bread and chocolate and wine because those are the most common denominators of food happiness …and no matter how you flip it, comfort foods REALLY DO make us feel better.)

Norwegian Cardamom Buns

Norwegian Cardamom Buns

Hence the first time I vlog I did it with comfort and friendship in mind. The ingredients are simple, there is nothing daunting. For those of you that are yeast weary this three part mini-cooking series should help connect the dots and enable you to throw your caution to the wind. Time for hot buns in the oven? You will not be disappointed – or at least I never was.


Hot Norwegian Buns


1 cube butter (1/2 cup)
2 ¾ cups milk
3 (50g) cubes cake yeast
¾ cup sugar
3 ½ tsp cardamom
6 cups flour


In medium size pot, heat the milk and butter until warm (do not boil). Temperature should be warm to the touch but not hot.

In a large bowl, crumble the yeast blocks. Add in 1/3 of the milk and butter mixture, stirring until yeast is dissolved. Add in sugar and cardamom and stir until mixed. Add in approximately 2 cups of the flour and stir. Repeat two more times, until dough reaches desired consistence. It should easily pull away from the sides of the bowl with the mixing spoon. (We had to add in another 1/2 cup of flour).

Let sit to rise approx 45-60 minutes.

Take 1/2 of dough and place on floured surface. Roll around in the flour until it is no longer sticky to the touch. To roll into the ball shape, dip palm of hand in flour, take a small handfull of dough and press down and begin rolling in clockwise direction (take additional flow on palm of hand as needed). As dough takes form, you will want to raise your hand slightly and allow the ball of dough to be cupped by your fingers.

Bake at 450 degrees for approx 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Footnote: While I am told these are intended to be more of a dessert or tea bun I loved to eat them any time of day or night because they were wonderful. If you want to save some for another day, it is best to freeze them once cooled and then to reheat you can use either a toaster oven (my preference because it makes the crust a little more crispy) or a microwave on low for a few minutes.