Thursday, May 29, 2014

Recipe Creation: Homemade Maple Almond Butter

I ran out of Justin's Maple Almond Butter this morning.  This wouldn't be such a big deal if I were not completely OBSESSED with almond butter and consider it a staple to my breakfast routine.  Luckily, I had the ingredients on hand to improvise.  I threw dry roasted almonds, a pinch of salt, and a dash of maple syrup into my Vitamix and voila! I made myself some pretty darn delicious homemade almond butter.  Feel free to add canola oil as you like.  Depending on your individual preference, you can omit the oil for a thicker, slightly drier butter, or add a few tbsp. of canola oil for a slightly thinner, more spreadable consistency.  I added about 2 tbsp. canola oil and that was the perfect amount for me.  I think I just saved myself from my Justin's $14.99 a jar habit!

Makes about 1 1/2 cup


  • 2 cups dry roasted almonds
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • *Optional: 1-3 tbsp. canola oil


-Place the almonds and salt in a food processor or Vitamix.
-Start the processor on low and gradually increase speed  
-The almonds will turn from solid to a thick paste.
-You may need to use the tamper press on your Vitamix to redistribute.
-If using a food processor, you can pause and use a spatula to redistribute.
-Add the maple syrup (and canola oil, if using) and continue to blend.
-Once creamy and well-blended, transfer to an air-tight container or mason jar.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Restaurant (Re)creation: Contigo's Seared Goat Cheese, Arugula + Strawberry Salad

I live a block away from Contigo and it is one of my absolute favorite spots.  I love that the menu always changes, but many of the standbys stay the same.  One dish that thankfully rarely leaves the menu is the seared Caña de Cabra goat cheese salad.  I love the creaminess of the seared goat cheese, the crunch of the toasts and hazelnuts, and the tangy and sweet salad that lies beneath.  I was lucky enough to come across Brett Emerson's recipe for this salad in the Wall Street Journal.  Now that I have it, I will be making it on a regular basis.  It looks so impressive topped with crispy seared goat cheese and like it came straight down from heaven.  Enjoy!

Serves 2


  • 4 oz. Caña de Cabra (or other mild, young goat cheese)
  • 4 small 1/4-inch think slices of rustic bread (I use Judy's Lovesticks)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing toasts
  • kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp. minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. hazelnut oil
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and thinly slice crosswise
  • 3-4 oz. wild arugula
  • 4 oz. strawberries, stemmed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 4 basil leaves, roughly torn


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place bread slices on a baking sheet.
-Brush both sides with olive oil and bake in the oven until golden, about 3 minutes per side.
-Remove from oven, set aside and preheat broiler. 
-Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots and salt.
-Let the shallots macerate for at least 10 minutes.
-Then whisk in the olive oil and hazelnut oil, season with salt, and set aside.
-In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, fennel, strawberries, hazelnuts, and basil.
-Slice the cheese into two rounds and place on top of two toasts each.  
-Place under the broiler and broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
-Toss salad with enough vinaigrette to coat and season with salt.
-Distribute salad onto two plates and place a warm goat cheese toast atop each helping.

1320 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 285-0250

Monday, May 19, 2014

Restaurant (Re)creation: SPQR's Gemelli with Green Spring Vegetables, Black Pepper + Ricotta Salata

My husband and I recently had date night at SPQR and I had the most divine dish.  It was a Gemelli pasta with green spring vegetables, mascarpone, black pepper and ricotta salata.  It was fresh and light, yet creamy and totally satisfying.  We both agreed that I ordered the best dish and I promptly devoured it.  Two days later, I decided to try it in my own kitchen.  My neighborhood Whole Foods was fresh out of mascarpone, so I used whole milk ricotta instead.  Otherwise, I tried to stick pretty true to SPQR's preparation.  This meal can be cooked in mere minutes and looks like it came straight from a Michelin star restaurant.  That sounds like a winning combination to me.  Hope you agree!

Serves 4-6


  • 16 oz. Gemelli pasta
  • 1/2 lb. English peas, shelled
  • 1/4 lb. snow peas, sliced diagonally
  • 8-10 stalks of asparagus, sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta (or mascarpone)
  • 3-4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • grated ricotta salata, for finishing


-Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
-Shell the peas, and diagonally slice the snow peas and asparagus in 1/2 inch pieces.
-Add the Gemelli to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes less than the package suggests.
-Add the peas and asparagus and cook the pasta and vegetables for an additional 2 minutes.
-Remove from heat, drain, and return to the cooking pot.
-Drizzle 3 tbsp. olive oil over the pasta and vegetables and season with salt and ample pepper.
-Scoop in 1/4 cup of ricotta and mix until well distributed.  
-Spoon the pasta onto plates and top with grated ricotta salata and freshly ground black pepper.
-Add a dollop or two of the remaining ricotta to the top of the pasta and enjoy immediately.

1911 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 771-7779

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Recipe Creation: Coconut + Almond Butter Milkshake

I don't know about you, but there is nothing more refreshing to me than an ice cold milkshake on a hot day.  I have recently discovered that I am completely obsessed with almond butter.  Like crazy obsessed. I have it at least twice a day (and blame it on pregnancy cravings). Anyhow, I figured nothing could be better than drinking my favorite food in the form of a frothy, creamy, and refreshing treat!  I decided to do some research, found a few versions on blogs I liked, and made a few changes.  Voila- liquid perfection!  Plus, it has healthy fat, fiber, and protein in it so it's totally a health food.  At least that is what I tell myself ; )

Serves 2


  • 5 large dates, pitted
  • 1 14 oz. can of light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups ice
  • (*optional- add Stevia, to taste)


-In a high-powered blender or Vitamix, add all of your ingredients.
-Blend until smooth and creamy.
-Pour in two tall glasses and enjoy.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Recipe Creation: Fava Bean + Burrata + Radish Crostini

Holy goodness! I have been obsessed with fava beans for some time now and LOVE that so many San Francisco restaurants are offering a variety of dishes showcasing this lovely little green bean.  My favorite dish with fava beans has to be a fava crostini. I recently had one at Firefly, one at Locanda, and one at Contigo.  I decided to combine all of my favorite elements of those and add my two other favorite ingredients: radishes and burrata.  I also used Judy's Lovesticks to make the crostini, since I love the added nutty flavor the sunflower seeds add.  This dish is a perfect appetizer on a warm evening.  It's almost as beautiful as it is delicious.  Enjoy!

Makes 10-12 crostini


  • 1/2 lb. fresh fava beans
  • 2 tbsp. finely grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped mint
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh burrata cheese
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic reduction
  • 10-12 slices of baguette


-Preheat the broiler and bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil. 
-Remove the favas from the shells and blanch in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
-Transfer favas to a small ice bath to cool and peel off the waxy outer layer.
-In a small Cuisinart, combine the favas, parmesan, olive oil, mint, and lemon juice.
-Pulse until well blended, but not perfectly smooth.
-Meanwhile, brush bread slices with olive oil and broil for 1 minute on each side.
-Remove from oven and slather with a spoonful of the fava mixture.
-Top with radish slices, a dollop of burrata, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
-Garnish with any leftover mint leaves and transfer to a platter for immediate consumption.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Recipe (Re)creation: Shaved Asparagus Pizza

I had this pizza at my friend Ashley's house and have been dreaming about it ever since.  Luckily, she was was so kind as to share the recipe with me.  The shaved asparagus lends a delicate grassy flavor and the green onions add a little bite, all atop of cheesy chewy pizza crust.  It is pretty darn close to perfect.  This does not surprise me since the recipe comes from Barefoot Contessa herself.  I even played around with the original and added chicken apple sausage to a version and it was delicious. The recipe is easily adaptable and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.  You're just going to have to trust me on this one.

Makes 1 10-12 inch pizza


  • 12 spears of asparagus
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 14 oz. pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt & pepper


-Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
-Wash and dry asparagus and set aside a medium bowl.
-Hold each asparagus by the base and shave from base to tip with a vegetable peeler.
-Toss shaved asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper and set aside.
-Meanwhile, roll out or stretch the pizza dough to about 10-12 inches.
-Place dough on a pizza stone or floured baking sheet.
-Top with 1/4 cup grated cheese, followed by the shredded mozzarella.
-Evenly distribute the shaved asparagus on top and place in the oven.
-Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through and golden on the edges.
-Remove from oven, sprinkle with sliced scallions, and slice in wedges.
-Serve immediately.