this summer in Paris + poulet roti

Places that change your life are like lovers. When a connection is first discovered, the following infatuation becomes almost addictive. Dopamine surges and it can become, for the moment, the only thing you want to experience forever. Paris was zero exception to this: it was my first city romance — the second we met I know there was something I could not deny.

But, as with many lovers, that initial infatuation inevitably morphs, how you subconsciously knew it would in the beginning but didn’t want to remove that rose-like curtain because you know the trip will be worth it one way or the other.

Paris was love at first sight, and a 4-year total richness that continues to impact my life in the way I visualize the world to the way I cook to the way I even speak. There’s always a thread of French shadowing every English word I speak or write.

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perfect cranberry sauce

cranberry-sauce-cat-edited-weblemon-zest-cranberryI know what you’re thinking: where, oh where, on Earth have you been?  Well, I’ve still been on Earth* (*kind of) and it’s taken me in places that have been a bit outside of the kitchen recently. I’ve still been cooking, of course, but it’s been in a more direct sense: teaching cooking classes, sharing food with friends and family (which was the original point of it, no?) and developing recipes for different brands and clients.  That coupled with my new band, Jane Machine, has simply taken over the time I have to give you a proper taste of my current culinary life like I had before.

But hey, I’ve had this site since 2009 and it did take a few hiatuses before, so I guess it’ll always be a part of me in one way or the other.

It wasn’t until my cousin Kelly asked me what the cranberry sauce recipe I had made for last year’s Thanksgiving that I realized something: I really should share a recipe again. Because, if I’m photographing it for her and writing it all down, I imagine you would all want it, too. Read more

Tokyo! ginger pasta

Hello!  Well, this has been a long time since you’ve received something in your inbox from your friendly allergy-free chef and I’m happy to say we’re back in action.  These past few months have been exceptional and full of travels and finishing an album and filming music videos… so culmination of all the above left me with little time to actually put together the many many inspirations I’ve had lately.  But now it’s starting.  With a little musing from my trip to Tokyo.

akihabara

me-in-front-of-meiji-shrine-reducedTokyo is a fascinating place.  Of course upon return to California I cannot tell you how many times I was, and rightfully so, asked how I “liked” Tokyo.  Well, I liked it a lot, but it was not at all what I was expecting it to be!

One of the best things about the place, for me, was the food.  This is probably a typical thing for me to think, as I am frequently ruled by my belly, but in a very very specific and phenomenal way I was feeling complete food tourism this time.  Their flavors are so refined, simple, yet contagiously different from Western ones.  Everything, from simple cooked eggs to cheesecakes, tasted, just “Japanese”.  Since I do have a formally trained palate now at this point, it was fascinating to pick up pourquoi.  And a lot of the savory flavors came from, well, dried seafood.

dude-on-bike-lake-kawaguchi

kowaguchikoMount-Fuji Read more

beet parfait

parfait-in-front-of-lanternsIn French, the word “parfait” means perfect, and in both my adult life and childhood memories the name for this dish doesn’t seem too far off.

holding-parfait-in-legs

stirring-beets-with-yogurt

Today was Mother’s Day in America, and it’s been a few years since I haven’t been able to celebrate that with my mother on this earth.  Each year gets easier, but of course, of course, the nostalgia slips in whether or not I want it to.  I didn’t even think I’d do a Mother’s Day post today, until my memories took me back to grocery shopping with my mom.

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quinoa ‘n cheese

I have really good news: I’m leaving for 2 weeks to Tokyo in a few days for a very very late honeymoon.  Years later, guess we’re both super procrastinators, match made in heaven.

So is this.  (Like that segueway?  Yeah you do.)  Quinoa and a creamy béchamel sauce — aka macaroni and cheese without the macaroni — is one of my go-to dishes when I want to make something that’s delicious, lighter than its traditional version, and kinda-surprising but not scary.  I mean, what’s not to love: it’s cheese sauce with quinoa.  Twice cooked.  That’s… that’s just nice.

quinoa-n-cheese-overhead-outside

quinoa-n-cheese-inside-platedThe nutmeg in this really makes the dish to me: it adds a super comfort food sweetness that is hard to replace with other spices.  Of course real cheese does taste more “accurate” (and for those who love cheese, you get me when I say “better”) but it’s actually really good with a vegan cheese substitute if that’s your style, because the quinoa itself is already so moist this dish is naturally just gooey.  And crispy on top.  Oh my I just got hungry again. Read more