Cioppino is a spiced wine and tomato based soup with whatever fresh seafood you have handy thrown in. It usually includes all kinds of shellfish; my version does not--crab, shrimp and lobster all make me violently ill. Below is what I threw in, but anyone else making this should include whatever floats their boat.

These are the three recipes I referred to the most while creating my own: one, two, three

Makes way more than enough to feed two, probably 6 servings if you add a bit more seafood.

The broth base:
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced (2 cups)
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb quartered and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper seeded & chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded & diced
  • 1-2 carrots thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs (Italian parsley, basil & oregano)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp anise
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. in a large heavy-bottomed non-reactive pot (say a dutch oven) heat oil and butter until it sizzles
  2. add onion & fennel and cook until translucent
  3. add everything else above and saute until very fragrant
saute vegetables

The liquids:
  • 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1+ cup chicken broth (or seafood broth)
  • 1+ cup dry white wine
  • 8oz clam juice
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • dash Tabasco sauce
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  1. add some white wine & chicken broth and give a good stir
  2. add a few dashes Tabasco & Worcestershire sauces
  3. add clam juice and stir around
  4. add diced tomatoes & tomato paste and stir well
  5. taste and add additional liquid as desired (you'll want enough liquid to cover all the seafood you'll be adding)
  6. let simmer, covered, as long as you want, several hours is fine
simmering cioppino

The seafood:
  • 10 clams
  • 6 mussels
  • 6 sea scallops
  • 2 oysters
  • 3/4 lb halibut fillet (any white fish will do)
  1. thoroughly scrub everything in a shell
oyster washing
  1. in a large pot put 1 cup white wine/chicken broth or combo of over medium heat
  2. when wine begins to steam add mussels and clams and place lid over pot
  3. steam until shells just open, 2-3 minutes, and remove from heat
  4. strain steaming liquid and add it to the broth
  5. cut halibut into bite-size pieces
  6. shuck oysters, adding their liquid to broth
  1. about 5 minutes before you want to eat add all the seafood to the broth, making sure it's mostly submerged
  2. let cook, barely simmering for no more than 5 minutes
  3. remove from heat and serve immediately
Make sure to serve cioppino with with lots of crusty french bread and garnished with chopped fresh parsley & ground black pepper. Have a good red wine on hand, don't wear white, grab plenty of napkins, have an extra bowl to toss the shells in and enjoy!


On a side note this recipe taught me I'm not nearly as adventurous about texture as I am flavor--fun as they were to play with, eating the oysters kinda creeped me out; I think I'll stick to eating my oysters grilled


Persimmon Pie

Pie! (just in time to make for Christmas, before people stop doing things like eating pie)

Around Thanksgiving we visited wonderful friends who are also amazing cooks. After fantastic wood-fire cooked home-made pizza for dinner we had leftover Thanksgiving pies for dessert. One was pumpkin and the other was persimmon.*

persimmon pie slice

I did not even know persimmon pie existed. (On a side note I am forever indebted to Jess for showing me amazing things to do with persimmons, last year she made a salad with persimmon & fresh mint, I never would have thought of the combo and it was amazing.)

I was once again inspired, and sent home with a grocery bag of persimmons. I spent a long time searching the internet for a good persimmon pie recipe, but couldn't find anything that looked right; I wanted my pie to have the same almost exotic/unexpected quality as hers (she used an olive oil crust which just added,) but was too embarrassed to call and ask for the recipe (plus I think she cooks a bit like me, more from imagination than recipe.)

I ended up completely winging it- with delicious results!

First off, I suck at pie crust. I made it by hand for this pie, but I always end up squishing pieces together in the pie pan after ripping the thing into eight pieces trying to transfer it after rolling.

Pie Crust (from the recipe on my pastry board)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup shortening (I used 2/4 cup unsalted butter and 1/4 cup crisco)
  • 1/3 a cup cold milk (or water)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar (could have used a tad more)
  1. this makes two 9-inch pie crusts, which I'm not going into due to my own ineptitude. Please use your own favorite recipe of get some pre-made frozen ones (I was just too much of a cheapskate to pay what they wanted for the good ones)
persimmon pie inside

Pie Filling (two parts)
  • 4 persimmons (all persimmons used are fuyu)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. peel and chop persimmons
  2. in heavy sauce pan cook persimmons with sugar until they begin to break down
  3. use immersion blender or potato masher or fork to puree persimmons
  4. move puree to large mixing bowl
admission- I'd actually made this earlier in the week to put on waffles
  • 5 persimmons
  • juice of one small tangerine or other citrus
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (or to taste)
  1. peel and quarter persimmons, thinly slice quarters and stir in puree
  2. squeeze tangerine juice into pie filling and stir well
  3. add ground ginger and nutmeg to filling and mix
  4. taste and add more spices as you see fit, or any other spices you'd like, or more sugar if you have a sweet tooth
persimmon pie

  1. line 9-inch pie tin with first crust and blind-bake it
  2. set oven to 350 degrees
  3. pour pie-filling into crust
  4. cut second crust into 1/2 inch strips and weave into a lattice over the pie top (or totally cheat like me and just start in one corner of the pie alternating horizontal & vertical strips 'til it looks like a lattice)
  5. brush top of pie with melted butter or egg-wash and sprinkle with sugar (I didn't do this, but will next time)
  6. bake pie in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour and let cool before serving
persimmon pie slice
This pie is excellent with whipped cream &/or vanilla ice cream, probably a nice glass of spiked eggnog too; enjoy!

*After typing it this many times the word "persimmon" starts to look very bizarre

Green Curry with Tuna

Lately I've been craving seafood like mad. I blame the bucket of clams and mussels I split with my boss while on the road last month; I haven't been able to get the deep rich salty iodine taste out of my mind since then. To really satisfy the craving I'm going to make cioppino for christmas (modified of course, since my allergy to shrimp, crab, and lobster wouldn't make for a very merry meal.)

In the meantime I decided on fish curry.

tuna green curry

I made it with things which happened to be in my fridge/garden/cupboards , but I think the general lack of a recipe will lend itself to whatever you happen to have on hand.
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 red spicy peppers, one fresh and one dry
  • 1 clove garlic
  • .5 inch ginger root
  • 1.5-2 Tbsps green curry paste (if you're the type of person to make this from scratch rock on, I use Thai Kitchen since that's what the local stores carry)
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 Tokyo turnips
  • 1 6oz can albacore tuna in water, do not drain
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4oz coconut milk
  • 3 heads baby bok choy

green curry tuna

  1. heat wok with oil over medium-high
  2. finely chop lemon grass & peppers, matchstick garlic & ginger (or be smart and do all the prep work ahead)
  3. saute spices until aromatic then add curry paste and cook for several minutes more, stirring occasionally
  4. meanwhile slice carrot and turnips into half moons
  5. increase heat and add veggie slices, saute until vegetables are almost seared
  6. decrease heat to medium and add tuna, including its water, breaking up and large chunks
  7. cook a few minutes then stir in chicken broth and coconut milk
  8. slice bok choy
  9. when curry is barely simmering add bok choy and stir often until bok choy is tender, about two minutes
  10. remove wok from heat and serve
  11. enjoy!

tuna green curry

This was so light, simple, slightly spicy (but won't be if you leave out the peppers) and delicious. I somehow managed to leave all the vegetable with a little crispness (from the lady who always accidentally makes mushy curry.)

My body is so happy with me for finally feeding it what it wanted that my toes are still wiggling, I might just burst after making cioppino.


Potato Leek Latkes

Since the last day of Hanukkah starts this evening

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You should make some latkes if you haven't already (and if you have you should make these anyways)

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You will need:
  • high-heat oil for frying (what it's all about)
  • 4 cups shredded or grated potato (I'm coming to hate my mandolin much less)
  • 1 leek
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1tsp salt (koshering)
  • .5 tsp ground pepper
  1. grate your potatoes and squeeze out as much liquid as you can
  2. slice the light parts of one leek into very thin half moons
  3. beat eggs in a small bowl
  4. combine all ingredients except eggs in a large bowl (tossing after each Tbsp of flour)
  5. add beaten eggs and mix thoroughly
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  1. heat a few Tbsp of oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat
  2. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. once oil is hot hot hot add heaping tablespoons of latke mixture (I fit 3 in a 12-inch pan)
  4. brown on each side (2 minutes a side or so) and transfer to a foil lined baking sheet
  5. add more oil between batches as necessary
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  1. bake latkes 25 minutes at 350 degrees
  2. after baking move latkes to a paper-towel lined plate
  3. keep browning second batch while the fist batch bakes
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  1. right after the last batch is done serve with sour cream and applesauce (and a big salad)
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This made 21 latkes


Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Dates

I decided to combine two of the best "bacon-wrapped" foods I've had, bacon-wrapped dates (delicious delicious appetizer from Thanksgiving) and bacon-wrapped jalapeno thingies, into one hopefully superior bacon-wrapped appetizer.

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You will need:

  1. preheat oven to 375
  2. slice bacon strips in thirds
  3. seed and finely dice jalapenos
  4. stir jalapenos & cayenne in to cream cheese

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  5. slice open dates and fill with jalapeno cheese

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  7. wrap stuffed dates w/ bacon thirds and secure w/ a toothpick

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  9. pace dates on rack on large cookie sheet and cook 25-30 minutes or until bacon is crispy

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When I made this I used a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes and no rack; it resulted in the bottom of the dates caramelizing a little too much and really sticking in your teeth, that's why next time I'll totally go with the rack method.


Beef Stroganoff

I have been craving beef stroganoff for three years, really. For some reason I just hadn't gotten around to making it- I wanted it to taste just like I remember from childhood, I kept forgetting to ask my mom for her recipe, she didn't have a recipe, I lost the copy she gave me, etc... and three years later I decided it was time to do a little searching and find a recipe that would taste right.

beef stroganoff
Despite the bad picture the food was delicious

Thank to the epicurious app on my iphone and the tragically, dearly departed gourmet I managed to make beef stroganoff that tasted exactly like what I'd been dreaming about.

Adapted from Beef Stroganov in Gourmet October 2001

You will need
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter (divided 1.5+1+1)
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 lb beef*
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (divided 1+1)
  • 1/2 cup shallot, sliced thin
  • 4 cups (3/4 lb) brown mushrooms, cut in thick slices
  • 3 Tbsp sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • (you'll also need egg noodles to serve properly)
*I used stir-fry strips my meat counter had pre-cut, but they cook through a little too quickly, so next time I'll just have the butcher cube a steak

stroganoff ingrediants

This recipe was what finally got it through my head that prep is important, I got all my ingredients measured and chopped and ground and whatnot prior to cooking and it made things go sooo smooth.
  1. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat then whisk in flour
  2. Cook roux, whisking constantly for 2 minutes.
  3. Add beef broth in a slow stream whisking constantly, bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat & simmer sauce 3 minutes, whisking periodically.
  5. Remove from heat & keep covered & warm.
  1. Rinse & pat beef dry then season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp butter with 1 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat.
  3. Sauté beef in two batches, turning to brown on both sides but still pink inside, about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer the meat and its juices to a bowl .
  1. Heat remaining butter with remaining olive oil in the same skillet until hot but not smoking,
  2. Sauté shallot lightly brown, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until their water is evaporated and mushrooms are browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Return meat with its juices to skillet and stir to combine.
  5. Keep on lowest heat.
  1. Reheat roux/broth sauce over low heat without boiling
  2. Whisk sour cream, mustard, dill*, salt, & pepper into sauce.
  3. Stir sauce into beef and mushrooms until combined
  4. serve over buttered egg noodles
*I didn't remember there being dill in stroganoff, but it definitely gave the food the flavor I wanted.

beef stroganoff


The not-super-appetizing-looking side above the stroganoff is leftover actually-quite-delicious cabbage dish I'll post the recipe for soon.

This recipe claims to make six servings, but really it's four, two if you have the metabolism of my skinny husband.


Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The ultimate in cold-weather comfort food (well, maybe second to grilled cheese and tomato soup.)

I threw this soup together from what I had on hand in the kitchen, after browsing several broccoli cheddar soup recipes online, all of which looked either too complex or simple (or pre-packaged) to me. Total cooking time was less than an hour, and it made at least eight servings, since the batch is so big I'm hoping it will keep well in the fridge & freezer.

broccoli cheddar soup

You will need:
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 8 cups chopped broccoli, stems and florets separated
  • 1/4 cup flour + 1 tbsp
  • 8 cups broth (I used 4 low-sodium chicken & 4 vegetable)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
The only dishes you'll need for this is are a big heavy-bottomed pot and an immersion blender or normal blender.
  1. Put your pot over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of butter
  2. once butter begins to sizzle add the onions and saute until tender and translucent
  3. add chopped broccoli stems and cook until soft
  4. make a well in the veggies and add the remaining butter
  5. once butter melts shake 1/4 cup flour into butter
  6. cook until flour is golden, taste to make sure flour is cooked, stirring often
  7. add a bit of broth and scrape up any brown bits stuck to bottom of pot
  8. add remaining broth and thoroughly stir soup
  9. make sure broccoli is soft and use immersion blender to thoroughly blend soup (or carefully do it the pain-in-the-butt way w/ a normal blender)
  10. bring soup to a simmer and add broccoli florets
  11. toss grated cheese with 1 tbsp flour to coat
  12. simmer until florets are just fork-tender
  13. remove soup from heat
  14. add cheese a handful at a time, stirring completely between each addition
  15. let cool a bit and serve
This soup was super served with red pepper flakes, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a splash of golden balsamic vinegar.

broccoli cheddar soup


p.s. Not many pictures because this time of year it's always dark by the time I get to cooking, and the light in my kitchen is terrible.

If you're curious about nutritional info, the soup comes in at 260 calories a serving, and probably tons of sodium, but lots of vitamins & calcium.



What I give the most thanks for,


and I wouldn't have it any other way.


student action at UC Davis

Generally I sympathize.

UCD Mrak Hall
Mrak Hall November 19

UCD Dutton
Dutton Hall November 23

Dutton closeup
Dutton Hall door November 23

Mrak Lobby
Mrak Hall lobby November 23


Autumn Evening

evening sky


Cream Puffs

Yesterday we had dinner with some friends, who have graciously hosted the last, oh, 25 times we've gotten together. Feeling shitty about not having cooked them a dinner in so long I decided to make an ambitious looking "fancy dessert" to bring along.

Luckily it turns out fancy-looking cream puffs are ridiculously easy to make!

cream puffs

Last night I made a half batch of the puffs. Since I still had several cups of the filling left this morning I decided to make a full batch, I got 33 puffs, and still have lots of cream left.

They are made from a versatile choux paste, and chantilly cream. Both recipes are via the amazing Pastry by Michel Roux.

awesome cookbook

For the Choux Paste you will need:
  • 1 stick / 8 Tbsp unsalted butter diced
  • .5 cup whole milk
  • .5 cup water
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • .5 tsp salt
  • 1 generous cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, room temperature


  1. preheat oven, the original recipe calls for 350 degrees, but I found almost 375 worked better for me
  2. in a large sauce pan combine milk, water, butter sugar and salt

  3. IMG_2310

  4. bring to a boil over low heat and immediately remove from the heat
  5. dump in the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth

  6. IMG_2320


  1. return the pan to medium heat and stir constantly for one minute
  2. transfer paste to a large bowl and let cool a bit

  3. beat the eggs into the paste, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next
  4. line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper

  5. beating in eggs

    choux paste

  6. scrape all the paste into a large ziplock or pastry bag
  7. snip off a small corner of the bag and pipe the paste into .5 inch mounds, staggering rows
  8. gently brush the tops with egg-wash and mark with the back of a fork

  9. ready to bake

  10. bake for 25 minutes or until golden-brown and just crisp on top (be very careful not to remove them from the oven too soon or the choux buns will collapse, it happened with my first batch, the recipe said to bake for 15-20 minutes, but mine needed 25 before they were strong enough to keep their shape)
  11. remove to a wire rack and let cool
choux buns

For Chantilly Cream:
  • 1 pint / 2 cups whipping cream
  • .5 cup caster sugar
  • scrapings from the inside of one vanilla bean
  1. Chill bowl of electric mixer
  2. beat whipping cream, sugar and vanilla bean together for 1-2 minutes on low speed
  3. increase speed and beat together 3-4 for minutes
  4. if you want true Chantilly cream be careful not to over-whip, I turned up the speed a little too much and made whipped cream, still delicious, but less dense than might be desired

Once the choux buns are fully cooled it's time to fill them. Yesterday I piped poked little holes into the buns and piped in the cream using a ziplock. Today I just broke them open and spooned a tablespoon of cream into each one then closed it back up like a little sandwich. Do whatever you prefer, the final result tastes so good that no one will judge.

These would also be delicious as a savory pastry, just fold in some grated cheese before piping the choux buns and don't fill with the sweet cream.

cream puffs


And just because choux makes me think shmoo!

This totally turned into Scooby Doo.