Corn etiquette: how to pick it, store it, and fix a bad choice. I look forward to summer every year for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fantastic produce that’s perfect and in season for these few months.  There are so many to choose from but one of my absolute favorites is corn!  Some of my best food memories are from BBQs that either I attended or threw and there was always fresh corn in one form or another on the menu.  In fact, I’m usually teased about how neatly I eat corn off the cob– one row at a time – I can’t help it – it just tastes better that way! The sweetest and freshest corn (no matter the color – white, yellow or bicolor – color is not an indicator of sweetness) is found at your local stand or farmer’s market.  But,…

READ MORE >

Great way to spread out the goodness of great tasting veggies. I know it’s July, but here in Los Angeles we have finally gotten what we lovingly call ‘June Gloom’.  It stays overcast all day and isn’t quite as hot as it’s going to get for summer.  That’s not to say it’s actually cool out but, because it’s ‘gloomy’ outside you sort of think that it is.  It was the perfect time to hit the market and prep some roasted vegetables for the week. When you slowly roast fresh veggies (any combination that you love) with some aromatics you have the basis for any meal of the day.   I always make enough for a couple of days – that way I can use them for breakfast with my eggs, lunch over some baby spinach or as the perfect side for my favorite crispy skin salmon.  I have a few rules…

READ MORE >

The simplest spritzer to help keep you cool in this heat. It’s summer. It’s hot, even in the evening. You have friends coming over and no one wants red wine. Even rosé just doesn’t seem cold enough. What to do? What to serve? Spritzers are a great summer beverage for a group at any time of year but when the temperatures rise they are especially good. Depending upon who you ask there are as many variations and nuances as the number of people in the conversation. Some who are more cocktail aficionados might have definite opinions as to what is a ‘real’ spritzer. They could say that it is a combination of any Prosecco with the addition of an aperitivo (think Aperol or Campari), served over a lot of ice with a dash of club soda and a twist of some citrus or perhaps an olive. There’s even one that…

READ MORE >

How do you know if you’re doing it right? Picture it:  You’re at a good restaurant with friends and one of them is a self-proclaimed wine snob so you hand him the wine list.  He chooses what he says will be an amazing wine.  You take a sip and you are seriously underwhelmed.  What happened?  There could be several reasons – you don’t enjoy the same wine profile (but you could swear that this was a wine you loved the last time!), the bottle is ‘corked’ (i.e. the wine has been contaminated by a fungi from the cork and it smells like wet dog!) in which case it won’t hurt you but it does indeed stink and affect the taste of the wine, or it wasn’t stored or served properly. This can happen at home even easier than at a good restaurant but here are some easy tips to avoid…

READ MORE >

Can’t find a ripe avocado and you need one (or more) to make guacamole tomorrow? You invited friends over tomorrow night for a viewing party of the finale of your favorite TV show and you want to make your famous guacamole.  You head to your local market for avocados and every single avocado they have is rock-hard!  What do you do besides scream at the produce manager or drive all over town hoping to find ripe avocados?  Here is my tip on how to solve your problem and have perfectly ripe avocados in time with no screaming. First, you need to understand a little bit about avocados and how to pick them at the store.  Avocados don’t ripen or soften on the tree – this happens after harvest so depending on how those avocados were shipped and stored they might be ripening just in time or still be hard like…

READ MORE >

An adult drink with champagne that only looks fruity sweet (it isn’t). It’s summer and that means outdoor or indoor fun with friends and family and usually in a group.  I always recommend greeting your guests with an adult beverage when they arrive.  A summer punch sets the tone for the party and lets everyone know that you want them to have a great time. The easiest way to serve an adult summer punch to a group (with very little effort from you-the host) is with a batch cocktail or fun punch.  Punch can be colorful and is definitely made ahead of your guests’ arrival which takes a lot of the stress out of making sure that first glass of ‘welcome’ is ready when they walk through the door. Set up a beverage area with the punch bowl, cups or small multi-colored glasses and, of course, napkins.  Add flowers and…

READ MORE >

It’s Summer and that means Asparagus in all its glory! Who knew? Some of my most favorite fruits and vegetables are in season right now – beans of all types, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, stone fruit, berries, grapes, pears – the list is long.  And right now, one of my favorites is everywhere – Asparagus! There are many ways to serve asparagus that involve cooking or, at the minimum, blanching.  They can be added to pastas, salads, grilled or roasted and used as a simple side dish for your favorite entrée, almost any way you can think.  But, one of my favorite ways is to not cook them at all! Raw asparagus can be very chewy and unappetizing.  The stalks can be very fibrous and almost impossible to chew.  But, ribbons that you make from raw asparagus are the best way to eat those raw spears because they are always tender. …

READ MORE >

Often, they’re just a suggestion. Recipe writers can’t always be quite as precise as they’d prefer when they list cooking times in a recipe.  So many variables enter into the equation. This Spring, a friend’s daughter was making her first brisket for a dinner party.  She had preheated her oven, browned the meat on both sides, added all the ingredients to the roasting pan and then carefully put it in her oven for the listed 2 hours of cooking time. She called me in a panic at the 2-hour mark – she had placed the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the brisket and the temp on the thermometer was correct.  But to her horror, the meat still appeared a bit pink (brisket is cooked all the way through) and it wasn’t tender at all!  She had eaten brisket many times at other friends’ homes and it was ALWAYS…

READ MORE >

How to keep your fruits and vegetables tasting as they should. In a perfect world we’d shop daily and prepare what we purchased for that evening’s meal.  But, we all know it’s just not that easy to get to the market every day.  So, you go to the market and buy everything on your list making sure that you pick the freshest fruits and vegetables possible. But, then you get home and the indecision sets in.  You begin to ask yourself – does this belong in the refrigerator or should it stay on the counter?  Will this spoil quicker if I leave it out?  Will it taste the same if I refrigerate it as it would if I just left it on the counter? The answer is:  some produce needs to be stored in the refrigerator but some do significantly better if left out on the counter!  Here are the…

READ MORE >

It’s so easy to create a place for coffee or tea in your kitchen. We all have our routines that we follow in the morning.  It might be that you jump up and head straight to the gym with just a bottle of water to get you going with the knowledge that you’ll enjoy your breakfast and whatever hot beverage you like after your work out – as sort of a reward. Or, you might be like my friend who has a small 2-cup coffee maker on the night stand next to her bed that she sets up before she goes to sleep at night.  That way when she wakes up (not really even opening her eyes) she just leans over, flips the start switch and within a few minutes she has her first cup of coffee ready. That would be great for some, but for someone like me who…

READ MORE >

This is the little party treat that will make a big splash at your next gathering. There are so many different ways to entertain guests: with mixed drinks, fun appetizers, and tasty finger snacks. This idea is an instant party all by itself: champagne jello shots. When I first tasted these at a friend’s party a few years back, I was genuinely surprised. The taste is just like a little shot of champagne, with a touch of sweetness that will make just about anyone at your party smile. They’re so light and pretty. And, they’re incredibly easy to make. Ingredients 2½ cups of champagne separated. In my video where I go through the recipe, I used Gruet Brut Rose. I recommend a sweeter variety. Dry champagne may be my preferred beverage but not for jello shots – it will be just too dry. 3 envelopes, Knox Gelatin 3 tablespoons, granulated…

READ MORE >

It’s a quick home recipe for roasted asparagus that’s perfect for any meal. I love the taste of fresh asparagus. And, the best way I know how to prepare them is roasting them with this very simple recipe. The first tip: read my earlier post and video on selecting, prepping and storing asparagus. Yes, there’s a little trick to it, but only very little. The big reveal is that we peel the skin of the lower stalk of the asparagus spears. This way you get to enjoy more of the asparagus instead of snapping the ends off and tossing them away. Less waste, and more roasted veggie to enjoy. Roasted vegetables are the simplest and tastiest way to make a perfect side dish for any meal. The best vegetables to roast are the ones that are in season and for me, when it’s Spring, that means asparagus. Second tip for…

READ MORE >