May 15, 2012

Almond – Brazil Nut Tarts with Fig, Date & Goat Cheese Pâté, Golden Beets, Red Leaf Watercress

Almond – Brazil Nut Tarts with Fig, Date & Goat Cheese Pâté, Golden Beets, Red Leaf Watercress

My inspiration for these tarts derived from a salad we eat often. I thought it would be fun to figure out how to restructure it into a tart. For the almond & brazil nut tart shells, I chose to use unsalted butter but you can use grape seed oil or a nut oil if you’d like. I used almonds and brazil nuts, which is what I had on hand, use your favorites, mix and match. This isn’t your typical tart shell as there’s no flour or eggs,  and that makes it’s pretty delicate. It’s simple to work with though, just grind up the nuts and toss in the garlic, salt and butter and press it into the pans. After they bake, let them sit on the cooling rack for about 15 minutes then refrigerate for another 15 minutes, this will firm them up a little. I filled them while they were still in the tart tins, this way they won’t break apart before you get them on the plates. If you make the fig, date & goat cheese pâté ahead of time and refrigerate it, bring it to room temperature and give it a good stir before spreading it into the shells. I used golden beets here, but any other kind will work great. I found this amazingly beautiful red leaf watercress at the market, but young watercress, arugula or even radish sprouts would be a few of my other choices.

May 8, 2012

Fresh Pea and Tarragon Remoulade with Salmon Crudo

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

Fresh Pea and Tarragon Remoulade with Salmon Crudo

Spring on a plate.

Salmon Crudo = raw fish, lightly seasoned with olive oil, a bit of acid, salt and pepper. For this recipe my acid of choice was lemon juice and zest. Of course, you always want to choose the freshest fish possible, especially when eating it raw. Get to know your fishmongers and ask where your fish is coming from and when it came in. This beautiful piece of Salmon was so fresh it would have been criminal to even think of touching it to a hot pan. My favorite way to eat fresh english peas are simply popped from their shell. Here, I barely blanched them, just 1 minute to remove a bit of the rawness. I thought a sauce remoulade softly spiked with tarragon, mustard and garlic would be perfect with these super fresh ingredients. I promise you, the little extra effort it takes here to make your own mayonnaise is well worth it. I used pea shoots to bump up that wonderful pea flavor, but spinach or arugula would be nice substitutions. This can be eaten as a main course (as we did), or plated individually to kick off an amazing dinner party.

I hope you love this dish as much as we did.

May 1, 2012

Fish Tacos, Rosted Ancho -Tomato Salsa, Homemade Corn Tortillas

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

I can eat tacos every day of the week, hands down.
It’s my go to comfort food, 9.5 out of 10 times I’ll order the tacos. But it’s not every day that I make my own corn tortillas. Why? I know how superior they are to those sad, flavorless, mass-produced, dry imposters sold in the grocery stores. I refuse to eat them. To me, eating something that isn’t good is like wasting a meal ticket. We only get so many tickets per day, why waste them?

Seriously, corn flour + water + salt. That’s it. You don’t even need a tortilla press, just use a rolling-pin. The little extra effort makes all the difference.

I grew up eating Mexican food, all us Californians did. I’m not talking about the food served in many “Mexican” restaurants. You know the ones. They drown everything with heaps of melted cheese, tosses it in the broiler until it resembles bubbling lava, then tops it off with loads of sour cream. I’m talking the real deal, food made with love. Fresh ingredients, ground spices, flavorful salsa, tacos made from soft corn tortillas and the only cheese to be found is a modest sprinkle of Queso Fresco.
Excuse me as I wipe the drool off my keyboard (Ewww, now that’s just gross).

My lovely husband on the other hand, who grew up in Pennsylvania, doesn’t know the difference between a taco and a tortilla (not aware that they are one in the same), or who will order a burrito, and is genuinely surprised when he doesn’t get a taco.
It cracks me up every time.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! Now go make some tacos (and have a cold one for me).

April 24, 2012

Roasted Rhubarb and Lemon Frozen Yogurt with Ginger and Pistachios


Food Photography & Styling Workshop

Food Photography & Styling Workshop

I returned from my (amazing, yet extended) road trip just in time to teach another Food Photography and Styling Workshop at Galerie Jenner. Lots of food to photograph (and eat!), everyone left with full bellies and memory cards, what a fun day! I want to thank Jeremiah for sharing his gallery space (and snapping these shots of us!) and all the wonderful students who attended. Also, big thanks to my pal’s Valerie and Catalina for letting me raid your houses for the amazing props!




Road Trip!


I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.   ~ J. CASH

36 days, 7466 miles, 162 cups of coffee, 373 gallons of gas, 2 oil changes, 13 states (some twice), 68 hotel rooms, 1 fleabag motel, 64 free breakfasts, 3 doggy baths, dodged a few tornadoes, a 2 day dirt storm through Texas followed by snow, 2 packs of allergy pills, towed once, celebrated St. Patrick’s day, visited Elvis, 3 home cooked meals, commandeered a “wash-o-rama” with 18 loads of laundry, more BBQ and tacos than we care to admit, beignets & chicory coffee in the french quarter & a mini Mardi Gras parade, alligators, 2 airplane rides…. ZERO squabbling.

Those of you who didn’t read my last post, (oh, so long ago….) My cousin Tammie, her service dog Robby, our friend Karen and I spent 5 weeks together on an amazing road trip from Santa Cruz, California to Fort Lauderdale, Florida AND back to Santa Cruz. So many sites, stories and memories… too many mention, it’s a trip I will always cherish. Here are a just few highlights.

February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday! Did someone say ROAD TRIP?!

SnailsView is one year old today!

What an amazing year! I wanted to take this opportunity send a super-sized THANK YOU for your continued encouragement, support and for making my first year so incredibly special.

Also, I’ll be heading off to California in a few days to start a much-anticipated road trip with my amazing cousin Tammie (and friend Karen), who just so happens to be one of my favorite people on the planet.  I couldn’t be more excited! Aside from being one of the funnest people to be around, I can’t think of too many people who I’d want to be in a car with for 6000+ miles and several weeks!  We’ve been talking, dreaming and scheming about this trip for what seems like the better part of forever, and it’s finally just days away. We’ll be driving from Santa Cruz, California to Fort Lauderdale, Florida AND BACK! Coast to coast X2.  So, if you don’t hear from me for a few weeks – no worries, I’ll have a full report with lots of photos when I return (I may just surprise you with a post or two along the way)! See you soon!

BTW — just in case your interested, this is an Indian Spiced Cupcake with a Silky Dark Chocolate – Tahini frosting, I’ll be posting the recipe soon!

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