"Soup is liquid comfort." ~Author Unknown

Mr. S.'s has two kidlets and when it comes to food they're like night and day. Kidlet #1 is always curious what I'm making in the kitchen, will try any dish once before passing judgement and LOVES spicy food. Kidlet #2, on the other hand, hates most vegetables, stubbornly refuses to try new foods and would rather poke himself in the eye with a fork than eat anything even remotely spicy. If we allowed him to, he'd subsist on chicken and garlic bread. So, you can imagine my surprise when Kidlet #2 ate everything on his plate one rainy afternoon in San Francisco's Japantown. Shumai, rice, yakitori all down the hatch with not one complaint. (Seriously, my jaw dropped!) He also advised me that he loved miso soup as long it didn't have any "green stuff" in it. So, last night I decided to make him some miso soup sans any "green stuff" (wakame and green onions).  For once there was no fussing or whining during dinner, all I heard was slurping from that side of the table. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Kidlet Approved Miso Soup


1 block firm tofu, drained & cut into small cubes

3 T shiro (white) miso paste

2 t dashi granules ( I like Hon Dashi by Ajinomoto)

4 cups of water


- Bring water and dashi granules to a boil.

- Reduce heat to medium. Add miso paste. Stir well so that the paste dissolves.

- Add cubed tofu.

- Reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

- Ladle into bowls and serve hot.

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."
- Mark Twain

When I was a kid I hated cauliflower. For some reason, while other kids thought the florets looked like cute miniature trees; I imagined the big cruciferous heads to resemble a giant brain. And only zombies eat brains, right? I did a pretty good job of dodging the smelly veggie for the better part of 17 years, but then I began working part-time in various restaurants while I was making my way through college and something magical happened. Vegetables that I avoided like the plague- asparagus, chard, and yes cauliflower began to make their way into my dinner rotation in various creative ways...and amazingly-- I liked them! Now before you decide to poo-poo the cauliflower, take note that it's one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. It's rich in nutrients, low in calories and next to citrus it's your best source of vitamin C. Most people I know like to eat it raw, saute it or roast it...but I found another way to get your cauliflower fix -- pureed cauliflower with garlic, Parmesan and goat cheese. I came across this simple recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen and it's seriously delish. It tastes creamy just like garlic mashed potatoes but without all the starch and fat. I think this is one even the kidlets would like.

Pureed Cauliflower with Garlic, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese  (by Kalyn's Kitchen)


1 large head cauliflower, cut into small same-size florets

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 T half and half or cream

2-3 T grated Parmesan cheese (depending on size of cauliflower)

2-3 T goat cheese (depending on size of cauliflower)

salt/pepper to taste


- Put cauliflower florets in a pan with enough water to cover, add garlic and a small amount of salt.

- Let cauliflower come to a boil, then lower heat and cook 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is very soft.

- Remove from heat and drain very well. (I let it drain nearly 5 minutes in a colander. Don't skip this step or the finished dish will be a bit watery.)

- When cauliflower is well drained, put into food processor and puree, adding the half and half.

- (Optional: You could also use a small hand beater to "whip" the cauliflower as you would potatoes. )

- Put cauliflower back into the pan you cooked it in and turn heat on very low.

- Add Parmesan, goat cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so it does not stick to the bottom.

- Serve hot, with a little freshly grated Parmesan on top if desired.

At one point last year, I kept getting these wicked charlie horses in my legs everyday. At the most inopportune times, my calf would start spasming causing me to double over while clutching my leg and shrieking in pain like a banshee. It hurt--- a lot. Finally when enough became enough, I emailed my doctor and he suggested that I try adding more potassium and magnesium to my diet. To get more potassium, I started eating bananas but then eating bananas everyday got old...I'm not a chimp afterall. So I moved onto banana smoothies, frozen bananas and banana bread...yep, thanks to a phase of agonizing charlie horses I can now make a mean banana bread. To be honest, banana bread has to be one of my favorite things to bake. It uses up those decrepit, old bananas that have been sitting on your counter and have begun sporting brown spots (you know and I know, you're not going to eat those nasty looking bananas) AND banana bread makes your house smell amazing while it's baking. Anyhow, after about a month or so of Banana-rama, my leg cramps finally disappeared---thank goodness...but my appreciation for banana bread still lingers and I like to whip some up from time to time.

Banana Bread (from The Joy of Cooking)

(all at room temp)

1 1/3 cups AP flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

5 1/3 tbs unsalted butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans


- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

- Preheat the oven to 350F.

- Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.

- Whisk together throughly: flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

- In a large bowl, beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture,  2 to 3 minutes: butter and sugar.

- Beat in the flour mixture unril blended and the consistency of brown sugar. Gradually beat in eggs.

- Fold in just until combined: bananas and nuts.

- Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly.

- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

- Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

* I substituted a 9x9 pan and reduced my baking time to 40 minutes.

What's a girl to do when the weather outside is beastly and the rain's coming down in buckets? Make a batch of soup, of course! For X-mas, Mr.S.'s mother gave me a big book of soup recipes. I've been pouring over the colorful photographs of drool worthy soups for a couple of months now but haven't had the time to whip up anything from it's pages yet. Today though, I decided to give the Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Saffron and Thyme a go. Feeling a little bit creative, I decided to jazz up the original recipe by throwing in some smoked paprika and topping it with onion crisps. Yum!

(Also, the nice thing about this soup is that it makes a big batch and you can freeze the leftovers.)

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup


2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

12 oz. Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes), scrubbed and coarsley chopped

12 oz. carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 - 1 tsp smoked paprika

1.2 quarts hot vegetable stock

1.5 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1.5 tsp dried thyme

large pinch (about 30 strands) of saffron

juice of 1/2 lemon

onion crisps or parmesan croutons


- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 5-10 minutes or until soft and translucent.

- Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.

- Stir in the sunchokes, carrots and a little salt, then cover with a lid and sweat, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.

- Add the stock, thyme, saffron and smoked paprika.

- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are throughly soft.

- Cool briefly, then process until smooth in a blender.

- Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

- Serve in warm bowls, with some onion crisps or parmesan croutons on top.
In theaters May 6, 2011.

"The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods."
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It must be baby season because everywhere I look there's bumps and babies. The week before last I think I must have broken a record because I hung out with FIVE different friends in one week that were pregnant (one with twins)! Then this week I got to see a close friend's newborn (Congrats, Misa!) and attend another wonderful friend's baby shower on Saturday. Now, I bet you're wondering what all this baby talk has to do with food, right? Well, at Saturday's baby shower I was tickled pink (in this case blue) to come across these adorable cupcakes that my talented friend Jenny made. ( She was kind enough to divulge that the recipe's from Martha Stewart:  Nesting Baby-Bluebird Cupcakes ) The baby birds popping out of their nests were so cute, they were almost too cute too eat...almost.


If you're like me you're always looking for something fun (and easy on the wallet) to take the kidlets you can imagine my elation when I found out about Pizza Rock's Kids in the Kitchen class. It just so happened that a  friend I were walking past Pizza Rock this week when curiousity got the better of us and we decided to peek our heads into the pizzeria. Within seconds we were greeted by a hostess with a friendly smile and cheerful attitude. Her hospitable demeanor didn't waiver even after we confessed that we had already eaten and just "wanted to take a look." She even provided us with a take-out menu and filled us in on their Kids in the Kitchen class. Turns out, Pizza Rocks offers a class on Saturdays from 11-1, where kids get to learn the fine art of dough tossing and are given the chance to make a pizza of their very own. The catch? Space is limited so you have to call and reserve a spot.
Those of you who live in town probably remember when the River City Food Bank caught fire last October just before the holidays. The food bank which feeds over 40,000 people a year was destroyed and all that was left were charred bits and rubble. But much like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the RCFB with the help of area businesses and the Sacramento community was able to regroup and reopen at a new location.

RCFB is the only Sacramento-area food bank open every weekday to those in need and has been in operation for over forty years. They rely on the generosity of grants and private donations from the community to help them feed the less fortunate. They also put together fundraisers during the year to help with costs, like the annual Empty Bowls event. The 8th Annual Empty Bowls which took place this week consists of 2 events: An evening social gathering that includes wine, hors d’oeuvres and your pick from a half dozen gourmet soups. Or you can attend one of the daytime events (there are two seatings), where you get to indulge in your choice of a gourmet soup and also choose one of 1500 beautifully hand-crafted bowls made by area students and professional potters. I was invited to attend by my gracious friend, Gretchen and was taken aback at how large of an event Empty Bowls was. The event was held in the historic Sacramento Masonic Temple on J Street and despite having a huge turnout, everything was well executed and well organized.

Even if you missed the Empty Bowls event, it's not too late to make a donation. With the current economic climate being what it is, the need for programs like RCFB is greater than ever. You can donate money, food or your time by contacting the RCFB at

( I went with a delicious bowl of crab bisque)

(One of the tables displaying the various handcrafted bowls)

(I took home this simple but elegant bowl. It's hard to tell in the photo but it's a soft shade of pinkish tan)
A mention of A Girl and Her Fork was made in our hometown paper, The Sacramento Bee. How cool is that?

SACBEE, March 4, 2011

I love scallops, in fact I often judge restaurants by their scallop dishes. If the chef can get that nice crunchy sear on the scallop, they're aces in my book. Scallops though are pretty expensive when you eat out and you usually only get three of them...four if you're lucky. So every once in awhile, I'll cook myself and Mr. S. a batch. I may have to start buying more scallops though because it seems Kidlet #1 has taken a shine to the meaty little mollusks. Now if you remember I've tried my hand at Pan-Seared Scallops with Champagne Grapes & Toasted Almonds and also Caramelized Scallops with a Balsalmic Reduction Sauce; both were delicious. Well, on Monday night I decided to give Scallops Piccata a whirl. I couldn't find a recipe that met my needs exactly, so I used one I found on Cooking in Alaska as a guideline and built on that. The end result was quite awesome.

By the way in case you need to brush up on your Jeopardy trivia, here's a couple of fun facts regarding scallops:

- Bay scallops have several pairs of eyes set in the mantle along the margin of the shell. The eyes can detect shadows and movement, which brings about an escape response. They will either take off or close their shell.

- Most scallops are free-living and are capable swimmers for short distances. They move by jetting water through their valves / opening and closing their shell.

Scallops Piccata


1 lb. scallops
(try and get "Day Boat", "Dry Pack" or "Diver" scallops if you can)

3 T capers (preferable preserved in salt)

4-5 T butter

1/3 c fresh lemon juice
(I also added in 1 quartered piece of preserved lemon rind from the batch I made at X-mas time. * Just remove the pulp and rinse the rind with water before using.)

1/2 c dry white wine
(I ended up adding a few extra splashes)

1-2 T olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 12 oz. bag frozen artichoke hearts
(Trader Joe's has them cheap)

1/4 c flour for dredging the scallops

Fresh ground pepper



- Turn your oven to the warm setting and place an oven safe dish in there.

- If using salt-preserved capers, rinse off the salt and let them soak in cold water for 10 – 15 minutes, and rinse them again. If using brined capers, rinse off the brine. Dry the capers and roughly chop them if they are large. Set aside.

- Place a paper towel on a clean plate. Rinse your scallops and place them on the paper towel. Cover with another paper towel. Take a second plate and place it on top of the paper towel and press down, squeezing out any liquid in the scallops. Repeat if they still have a lot of liquid in them.

- Season both sides of the scallops with fresh ground pepper and salt. Then dredge them lightly through the flour.

- Place your skillet on your burner on high for a few minutes. Once it's super hot, add the olive oil. When the olive oil reaches a smoking point, using tongs place the scallops on the skillet one by one. Space them out so they aren't touching.

- Now here's the important part. Don't touch the scallops! To get that nice sear on them, you need to keep your tongs to yourself and not futz with them. Cook for about 2 minutes then flip each scallop over. Cook the other side for 2 minutes.

- Remove the scallops and place them on the oven safe dish and place them in the oven to stay warm.

- Add the lemon juice, garlic and white wine to the pan, scraping up any browned bits or caramelization on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid has reduced to 1/3 cup.

- Lower the heat to medium and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the capers. 

- Add artichokes (and throw in the slice of preserved lemon rind, if you have it). 

- Allow to simmer for a few minutes. Remove the preserved rind at this time.

- Plate your scallops and spoon the artichoke and sauce mixture on top. Pair with your favorite side (we went with jasmine rice that night).

Oranges, lemons and limes you find them year round, but I love it when blood oranges come into season. There's something luxurious and decadent looking about their crimson, blood colored flesh. I always look forward to having a blood orange infused cocktail, indulging in some blood orange sorbet or spotting a few blood orange segments in my arugula salad. It's a refreshing change. The one thing I've never done though is bake with blood oranges...until this week. I had picked up a few at the farmers' market and decided to use them in a recipe I had for an orange-almond cake. The original recipe, in Claudia Roden's A New Book of Middle Eastern Food calls for 2 large oranges which I swapped out with 4 smaller-sized blood oranges. The nice thing about this recipe is that it utilizes ground almonds instead of flour, thus making it GF (gluten-free). You can either grind the almonds yourself or you can pick up a bag of almond meal at Trader Joe's relatively cheap. I asked my friend Cate, who's my GF-go-to-person, if she'd taste test the end result. Now, Cate said she liked the cake but for me, it probably won't be one I'd make least not with blood oranges, maybe with regular oranges. Granted the cake was wonderfully fragrant (the cottage smelled delicious while it was baking), zesty and moist; however, the blood oranges were just a tad too bitter for me (you use the oranges, peel and all in this recipe). This definitely is a "grown-ups" dessert would pair well with some afternoon tea or coffee.

Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Orange Cake


2 large oranges, washed (or 4 small blood oranges)

6 eggs, beaten

250g ground almonds

250g caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder


- Boil whole, unpeeled oranges in a little water in a covered saucepan for 2 hours.

- Remove from water. Allow to cool, then cut open, remove pips (the seeds) and chop roughly (including the rind).

- Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 F) and butter and flour (or line with baking paper) a springform tin.

- Blend oranges and remaining ingredients thoroughly in a food processor.

- Pour the batter into prepared tin.

- Bake for 1 hour. If the cake is still very wet, cook a little longer.

- Cool in tin before gently turning out.

- Optional: dust with powdered sugar or top with a dollop of clotted cream.

Readers, I know May seems a bit far off but this event just sounds too good not to share!

On May 14th, the Tour de Cluck will be taking place in Davis. Yep, that's right...I said, Tour de in chickens!

The Tour de Cluck includes: a self-guided bicycle crawl of neighborhood clusters (coop loops), backyard poultry experts providing information and assistance on breed selection/feeding options/coop design and construction, an art exhibit and silent action (with all kinds of cool chicken art), a clucking exhibition and a Fowl Food Fair. Best of all, the Tour de Cluck benefits the Davis Farm to School program.

Sounds like a cluckin' good time. Put it down on your calendar!

For more information:

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Living Library at Time Tested Books presents Shawn Harrison, executive director of Soil Born Farms, and restaurateur and chef Patrick Mulvaney discussing local agriculture and its place in Sacramento dining. Event is free and open to the public.

March 20 @ 7pm
Location: Time Tested Books (1114 21st, Sacramento)