Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Looking for Thanksgiving Light Fare for Pre-Feast Time?

If you are looking for some great light fare for Thanksgiving Day, this is a spectacular soup that you can make as spicy as you wish by adding extra chipotle peppers.  It is unbelievably easy to make, particularly with Trader Joe's pre-bagged squash cubes. 

It's not just for Thanksgiving, of course. It's perfect for any day you want to warm up.  Don't skimp on the cilantro and lime.  They really add yet another layer to this already many-layered flavor fest.
And, it's super healthy.  It's even vegan for those who bend that way!
My favorite thing is it's another reason to use these amazing peppers that I was introduced to when I received it as part of a Christmas present. Yummalicious. 


 The recipe from a cool blog I had never been to before, and one I hope to frequent:  http://www.coffeeandquinoa.com/2012/11/mexican-butternut-squash-soup/

Happy Thanksgiving Lazy Women!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Biscuits

OK people.  Biscuits are apparently not my forte.  They don't rise, it turns out.  I thought they would.  And, even more so than pie crust, you need to touch the dough as little as possible.  The first batch are the ones in the heart shape.  The second batch -- in the center -- I decided to hardly touch to make them as flaky as possible.  So I just made them generic lump shape!

They are incredibly flavorful.  They don't necessarily taste like pumpkin, but they are more interesting than plain old biscuits and you dust them with parmesan.  They are easy, particularly since you barely touch them! 


I wanted to do a Buttermilk Biscuit too so these are groovy and, again, I decided to not touch them.  Very flaky and lovely.


Happy 20th Anniversary Food Network!

Crise de Foie: Not a Good Way to Start the Holiday Season

An old French friend of mine years ago would often weakly moan the morning after an evening out "I'm having a crise de foie."  He explained that his liver was in "crisis" because he had had too much fatty food and drink the night before.  It was a foreign concept to me but I was certain I never wanted it to happen to me.

I'm not into fatty foods, other than ice cream and fries which I rarely allow myself and never at the same time.  I hate oily, buttery or mayonnaisey foods and always have.  The only time I ever use butter is on restaurant bread.  Even for my baked potatoes I used whipped goat cheese. 

As a child I detested mayonnaise so much that I would order tuna sandwiches without it.  Once out on a "date" with my boyfriend at age 7 I ordered this crazy item at the restaurant.  My dad was there, of course, since my boyfriend, though very mature for his age could not drive.  Useless Patrick!

I ordered my mayonnaiseless tuna sandwich and Patrick ordered his normal one.  After a long while, apparently when the arguing in the kitchen subsided and someone finally gave in to the insane request, the two sandwiches were delivered to our table.  A few minutes into eating, my dad recounted a few years before he died, it became obvious that neither of us was happy.  We had each gotten the wrong sandwich. But, being on a "date" neither of us wanted to appear difficult or less than perfectly polite, so neither of us admitted aloud our disgust with our overly or underly mayonnaised sandwiches. 

Last night we had an 80th birthday dinner at Cafe Stella in Silverlake.  It is very French, from the slightly distanced way the staff treats you ("I'm a little too cool to be full on friendly to you, but I will be perfectly delightful and professional so that you will keep ordering and be inclined to return.") to every last morsel you put in your mouth.  It was exquisite food and transported us all back to Paris. 

I ordered Truite Almondine, because in my humble opinion French restaurants and/or chefs know how to prepare it best.  It was the best I'd ever had.  With the first buttery, melt-in-you mouth bite, though I knew I wanted lemon to cut the butter a little.  But I hesitated to ask.  I was transported back to the the late 60's in the restaurant with Patrick Woodward and my dad.  Don't want to ruffle any chef feathers, I thought.  But also, in my defense, every time I looked up from our lively discussion at the table our waiter was nowhere in sight.

The salad was also brilliant. The dressing one of the best French mustard based dressings I have had. But, I had forgotten to ask for "light" application.  It didn't stop me from eating the whole thing though because it was ridiculously delicious.  Still, it was far richer than what I am used to with my lemon only salads at home.  At most I put on the lightest amount of oil, so for my system this was the fat equivalent of taking a morning shower under Niagara Falls. 

A chocolate pot de creme drizzled with caramel finished off the evening.  It was inspired.  Seriously, who ever thought of drizzling a deeply rich chocolate pot with caramel?  Unreal.

Later that evening as I prepared for bed I was thinking about my French friend.  I was experiencing my first "crise de foie."  I could hear my liver yelling from deep inside me "What the hell were you thinking?"

I am fine today. Never mind the fact that I had the best drink I've ever had, the "Ginger Rogers" (gin, fresh ginger, etc.) at the Chateau Marmont earlier in the evening, champagne just before that and a Stella Artois with dinner.  That's an enormous amount of alcohol for me.  More Niagara Falls on my sweet innocent liver.

It was worth it though. It was a divinely yummy evening.  But, really?  Was it the best choice the week of Engorgement Day?  

It was my first crise de foie.  So, I'm just going to eat very light for the next three days -- another very French thing to do, for women at least - and pretend I'm French.  I'm also going to run 734 miles.

If you want to pretend you are French, I could not more highly recommend this LA gem: http://cafestella.com/.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Looking for Thanksgiving Fun? Try a BLOW TORCH!


I had been thinking recently how I'd love to use my blow torch again soon.  I was also contemplating what I'd be making for dessert on Thanksgiving.  My uncle likes Pumpkin Cheesecake so I should do that for him.  I like Pumpkin-Pecan Pie or Sweet Potato-Pecan Pie.  But, the other day as I worked out I was listening to NPR and they did a most delightful spot on the pie.  They mentioned Bon Appetit's recipe for Bruleed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie. 

I was working out so I wasn't listening as carefully as I should have been but I do believe I heard the chefs say that they made it three times before they really got it right.  So, I'm guessing this is going to be a challenge, but I don't care.  Can you see that photo???? UNBELIEVABLE!  MUST MAKE!

In case you want to pull out your blow torch (or go buy one for the event) here is the recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bruleed-bourbon-maple-pumpkin-piehttp://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bruleed-bourbon-maple-pumpkin-pie

The very best part of this story though is that i told my 95 year old friend Adelaide about how excited I was to use my blow torch on Thanksgiving!  She then suggested that I might want to let a turkey loose in the yard and run around chasing it with a blow torch.  In my mind's eye I saw myself running around doing exactly that.  As a vegetarian, of course, my fantasy was that the turkey was always a good 20 feet ahead of me.

Good times.  Good Turkey Day Times.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Deeeeeescrumptious Chocolate Cake Doesn't LOOK Lazy but it IS!

I love making everyone's birthday dessert wishes come true.  For my friend Robin she said she wanted anything chocolate and joked about a many layered chocolate cake from Le Bernardin.  I found Eric Ripert's recipe for a molten cake but it had parameters on how far in advance of baking it could be made, so that was out.  Then I think I googled "best chocolate cake" and found Ina Garden's recipe for what she says is "the best chocolate cake that [she] has ever made."  How could I not try making that!???

The recipe called for oil instead of butter so I was suspicious but soldiered on, because it's Ina.  Ina is never wrong.

Well, Robin was very happy.  So that is ALL that matters.  End of story....with one teeny tiny footnote.

I'm going to tell you why it wasn't my very favorite chocolate cake ever, while still encouraging you to make it.  If you like cakes that are a little more spongy in texture, i.e., more big holes to be seen, then you will love it.  You push down on it with a fork and it bounces up very quickly.  I prefer cakes that are more cakey, i.e., a bit smaller holes.  They are not in any way heavy but they bounce back a wee bit more slowly. 

And, yes it was still an awesome cake and I totally get Ina's adoration for it.  What I loved about it:  it's light, very dark chocolatey, and super duper easy to make.  It doesn't even require cake flour. 

It is a lazy fancy cake to make because -- I'm not kidding you -- you can't screw it up and it's fast to throw together.  Not all cake recipes are this forgiving or carefree to assemble.

NOTE:  Make 1.5 times the frosting recipe.  Just trust me, even though it's insane because that means you are going to use 3/4 of a pound of butter. But one recipe's worth does not make a great looking cake -- unless perhaps you are a professional baker.  Even then, though, the coverage is thin with one recipe. 

I always decorate my cakes with fresh flowers and signs but I added extra lavender to obscure the not-so-beautiful-cause-there-wasn't-enough frosting coverage.

Still.  Make it.  It's deeeeeescruptious.

Ina's recipe: http://bit.ly/1bWQXGf

Buon Chocappetito!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lazy + Best Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER

This cookie is so good it tastes like it was plucked off of a vine created by God, so I had to dress up the plate to help celebrate its glory!

I always like to try new recipes so when I was yoked with the very serious responsibility of creating a "bazooki" for a friend's birthday recently, I thought it was the perfect time to try a new chocolate chip recipe.  A bazooki is a chocolate chip cookie served with ice cream, whipped cream and hot fudge sauce, or some variation on that depending on the recipe.

I googled what I always google when searching for new recipes.  I insert the word "best" or "most amazing" in front of the needed recipe.  So, this recipe is aptly named "Best Chocolate Chip Cookies."  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-chocolate-chip-cookies/.

My variation on the recipe was the following: 

1.  Instead of 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips, I added one cup of chips, one cup of semisweet chocolate chunks (from Trader Joe's) and about 2/3 cup of Trader Joe's new Peanut Butter Chips.
2.  Instead of 1 cup walnuts I added two cups of mixed nuts -- toasted slivered almonds, pecan pieces and walnut pieces. 

Oh. My. God.

And, this recipe does something new -- you dissolve the baking soda in hot water which I really do believe makes a difference in the texture.  As Dora, the recipe contributor notes they are perfectly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. 

Buon Choco-Appetito.

Gratitude. Lazy Lovely Loving Gratitude

On Facebook lots of people are participating in a gratitude exercise, writing about something they are grateful for each day. I assume it goes until Thanksgiving and I'm along for the ride.

It's funny because even though I have been expressing my gratitude every day when I meditate, this little exercise is definitely expanding my sense of gratitude.  That's never a bad thing.  When you stand in gratitude, it's hard to not be standing in joy. 

Today I am grateful for my mistakes.  It was a big week, and I ended up dropping a lot of balls due to the very extra-ordinariness of the week.  On Monday I met iconic author Anne Lamott, a dream come true.  She inspires me every day to be a better writer.  On Tuesday I re-met Gloria Steinem at a glorious Ms. Foundation fundraiser which also celebrated Steinem's 80th birthday, another dreamy evening.   Steinem has been a beacon of light on my own path since I was 11 and my stepmom gave me a subscription to Ms. Magazine. 

After these two big long days, I had an important business trip where I would be required to kick some major ass on little sleep.  Then, yesterday, the day after my late night return from that trip I had a college reunion event, a hike.  It was a chock full week of kick-ass work and fun.

So back to balls dropping....I hadn't caught the destination of the hike.  There are a lot of great hikes off the Angeles Crest Highway, where we were set to meet.  I didn't pay attention to the destination since we were going as a group, and that wasthe point: fun and frolic in nature with old friends.

One of the balls I dropped was the nagging thought that haunted me all week:  Must make sure to get a couple cellphone numbers for peeps on the Saturday hike....just in case. So when I missed the meeting place, I realized I only had home phone numbers and emails. I shot an email and assumed it didn't even go through.  They actually did get it, after a delay, and tried emailing and calling but coverage was spotty so we missed each other. 

So I ended up on a hiking wild goose choice, searching for the "3 mile loop" hike my friends were enjoying.  Tulle, Lucy and I traipsed around the mountain on two different wrong path for a few hours. 

I was really mad at myself at the beginning of the first hike of the day.  Bad Bridget.  Balls dropped.  Bad.    Then I realized it was probably the absolutely perfect thing to be alone in the absolute quiet, just me and Tallulah and Lucy in nature, contemplating life, reviewing my connection to God, nature, myself.  It was, indeed, perfect.   I actually needed it, and didn't know how very much.  It's like drinking water and realizing you've been dying of thirst for hours. 

We were on our way back to the car at the end of the second hike when we met two of the people from the group hike (who needed to leave early) at the all important junction of two paths.  So close.  I had seen that path and thought it was the wrong one, but in fact it was perfectly wrong and right.   So, we started back up that mountain on the "right" path and found the group. Hallelujah!

Lucy and Tulle were particularly grateful for the reunion because there were two other dogs so they were let off their leashes to roam free.  This pic is of them scaring the crap out of me as they ran up and down the ledge.  The other side: sheer rocky cliff.  This was the end of the hike so I knew I could manage the adrenaline rush this incited!

So, today I'm grateful for the reminder that as maddening, crazy or mean it seems that fate and destiny and life may be that everything really is absolutely perfect just the way it is.