Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Day meal

I am soooo excited... this year Stacy and Brian sent us the cookbook from Insalata's and I got a wonderful new all clad soup pot from Greg... so tomorrow it's Papa's Shrimp Bisque for dinner. I'm also making a wonderful Neapolitan Calamari and Shrimp Salad thanks to Giada. It looks terrific and reminds us of our wonderful trip to Amalfi. So I will post pics tomorrow if it turns out well.

New Year's Eve

I've never been able to get too excited about celebrating the New Year. I guess I'm not so much into the party scene. We've had a few good ones in the neighborhood... one year it was a toga party and another year it was a pajama party... yes we were supposed to come in our PJs. Going out in the neighborhood is pretty good because you don't have to deal with traffic and crazy drivers. But I'm not too much of a drinker and its hard to stay up until midnight when you get up at 5:00 a.m. every day! This year though we have the perfect plan... we are going to a 4:30 movie (It's Complicated) with good friends and then going next door for a special dinner at the Greystone Grill. Not even sure I'll last until midnight but I am so looking forward to the low key evening! Happy New Years to all who read this... Hope yours is as enjoyable as ours will be.

Christmas in Baltimore 2009

Christmas was very fun this year. Having Gabe home was special but we did miss the rest of the clan... We made an awesome pork loin cooked in 8 cups of kosher salt with spices... it cooked really slowly. After it was done we had to break open the salt casing to get out the roast. It was delicious.
We paired it with a lovely buttery Chardonay, roasted carrots, parsnips, and fingerling potatoes, and a wonderful carmelized roasted onion grantine that was to die for. I hope the pictures do it justice. For dessert we had mini buche du noel and a pear tart that was sooooo good...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

It's been a great Christmas so far - stockings, presents, movies and soon enough, dinner. As per tradition, we're doing a prime rib roast.

Another tradition in my family is the Christmas Eve meal - cracked dungeness crab, sourdough bread and a good Monterey Jack cheese. Last night we added a few more cheeses to the rotation (Brillat-Savarin, an aged Australian cheddar, and young Spanish Mahon), made fresh fruit salad for dessert and may have enjoyed a super yummy rose Champagne (yes, I'm taking the french approach to pregnancy, in which women don't have to be persecuted for the odd glass of wine they drink).

But the coolest part of the dinner were the two dipping sauces we concocted for the crab (in addition to some melted butter). One was a mayo spiked with Old Bay and the other was a homemade cocktail sauce. The cocktail sauce was so good, I'm going to share it here. The next time you're having some chilled crab or shrimp, make this up from scratch (in a few minutes) and impress the hell out of your friends.

Cocktail Sauce
by Noah, adapted from Joy of Cooking

1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. horseradish
1 tsp. jalapeno hot sauce
1 tsp. chipotle hot sauce
zest of one lemon
salt & pepper, to taste

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hanukah and Christmas live side by side

When I saw Sarah's new ornament picture I was inspired to get out our new ornament for 2009. We picked it up on one of our many trips but I cannot remember where. In case you can't tell Santa is with a Dolphin and in a bathing suit. Anyway this being the Festival of Lights season as well I set up this little photo essay of Hanukah and Christmas living side by side...

More pics of the snow

The Shopper Stopper Blizzard of 2009

The snow here is insane. It started at around 11:00 p.m. on Friday and by early morning we had 5 inches. These pictures were taken about 10:00 this morning when Greg
went out to shovel the deck the first time. It is now about 3:00 and we have over 20" of snow and he has shoveled for the third time. The plow guy has come twice so I'm hoping we can get out in the morning to pick Deb up at the airport... if anything is flying. Our dogs got new coats just for the storm so these pictures show them stylin for sure... The green coat is Zeus and the red is Cole. Cassie was probably buried since she is much smaller. Lucky for us the snow is light and fluffy so they can just shake it off when they come in... not too messy. I'm nursing a rotten cold so I'm in by the fire being a couch potato while Greg expends all the energy. Looks like a white Christmas for sure and they are predicting more snow on Friday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Menu for Hope 6

Is there anything worse than last minute Christmas shopping? That frenzy to find something, anything for your friends and loved ones. Well here's an option that's easy (you can do it in your PJs on your laptop), inexpensive and most of all, good for the world. Instead of getting Grandma another Snuggie, why not make a donation in her name to the Sixth Annual Menu for Hope? This year's drive benefits the World Food Programme's Purchase for Progress.

Per Chez Pim, the organizer of this massive food blogger event: P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation. P4P helps farmers improve farming practices and puts more cash directly into their pockets in return for their crops. This will also help buoy local economy by creating jobs and income locally. We food bloggers understand the importance of buying locally and supporting our local farms, P4P helps do the same for farmers in low income countries around the world. More on P4P at

And with each $10 donation, you purchase a raffle ticket for ANY food blogger supplied gift - you can win a multi-course meal at a 2-star Michelin restaurant, you can win all kinds of wines and chocolates, you can win stays in beautiful locations around the world (from Santa Barbara to New England to Italy and everywhere in between). Or dozens of other prizes.

But most of all you know that you made a little difference to some farmer out there who's struggling to get by. So rush on over to the handy, dandy donation form and get going.

And did we mention that this is a nice little tax deduction for your '09 taxes? It's the gift that just keeps on giving.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays!

This year's ornament.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Hello, Long Weekend! Hello, Minimal Morning Sickness! Hello, Renewed Creative Engery! Hello, Chickens! That's right, there are chickens. Okay, so the cuties pictured here don't live on my urban homestead, which is a total bummer. But they do live on Stacy and Brian's suburban homestead, which we visited last weekend (sidenote - Go Bears! We kept the Axe!). And these are their babies. Above is, I think, Panama Red.
This is Red and either Chicken Hawk, Chica or Cocoa, enjoying some free time out in the yard.
How cute are they? And only six months old. Hopefully there will be eggs soon, but Stacy and Brian might have to wait until the warmer weather this spring. When they start laying, they'll produce an egg every other day or so. A dozen fresh eggs a week. How yummy does that sound?
Red, roosting.
And this is the gorgeous coop that Brian built in their backyard. A month or so back he tore out their entire (beautiful) backyard, because Brian gets bored with things after a while. We saw the rough versions of the beds he's building in the garden now and I can already tell they're going to be even more spectacular. Damn him and his handy/arty-ness. Why can't my brain function like this? And since it can't, how do you think I can bribe him to come down and do something like this for us in LA?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Creamy Dish for Everyone... Even the Lactose Intolerant

Autumn is a time for fun outdoors... unfortunately while having some of that fun I got Lyme's disease. So this weekend I spent a good bit of it in bed resting and watching the food network. I found this recipe on public TV actually on a program called Everyday Food. It appealed to me not only because I love Porcini mushrooms, but it had a creamy texture without the cream! "Perfect for those who can't handle the cooked cream," I said... So here it is folks... we made it tonight and it was most yummy...

Creamy Orzo with Porcini

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed in cold water
2 TB unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 cups orzo
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
3 TB chopped Italian parsley

1. Place mushrooms in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water for about 20 - 30 minutes.
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cook, stirring occasionally until softened about 5 minutes.
3. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add orzo; cook stirring often, until orzo is golden brown and fragrant; about 5 minutes.
4. Add porcini, reserved liquid (strain it though so you don't get any grit) and another 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer stirring often until orzo has absorbed most liquid and is creamy (15-20 minutes).
5. Put in a lovely bowl and stir in the parmesan
6. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle parsley all over on top.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Picnic in the Park

This post is overdue, which seems to be a trend for me lately. I forgot that a regular job is kind of a time suck. But hey, this week I'm home on script so maybe we'll get some more action here at Killer Zucchini.

When I was up in the Bay Area a few weekends back, we took a trip to the new Academy of Sciences. Located in Golden Gate Park, we started off the day with a picnic in Marx Meadow with food we picked up at the Marin Farmers Market that morning.
The featured picnic foods were: a fresh baguette, Bellweather Farms cheeses, an awesome container of duck rillettes, saucisson, smoked salmon, peaches, plums, orange raspberries, figs, dates and olives. We washed it all down with a good Zin and some sparkling water. I think the duck rillettes were my favorite. How can you go wrong with shredded duck and duck fat?

Stacy, Noah and Robin (Noah's mom aka Agile Lady) were waiting for me to finish taking pics so they could eat already. This one makes me giggle - it looks like the wine bottle is up Noah's nose.
This little guy was at the picnic, too. He was grubbing on the bits and pieces of fruit we tossed to him. I think he makes a good living being adorable to picnickers.

Outside the Academy of Sciences.

When I was a kid, the A of S was my absolute favorite place to be. I think there was a time when I made my parents take me at least once a week. Like many children who grew up in the Bay Area in the 1980s, I had this weird obsession with the two-headed snake they had in their reptile room. It was awesome. I was sad to learn he (they?) had died, but they did have him preserved in a jar down in the Lower Level aquarium. There was also the alligator pit (complete with the old seahorse railing), a version of the touch pool (not nearly as good as the old one) and a nice big anaconda (although I felt like they could have had 75% more snakes overall).

They still had a bunch of the dioramas from the Natural History Museum, too. We didn't get there in time to get Planetarium tickets and we weren't into waiting in the long line for the Rain Forest. I was pretty happy with all the changes. And the building looked beautiful.I especially loved the living roof and all the domes. I told Noah we're so doing this when we buy a house. It's like nature and sci-fi had a baby.

Reliving your youth? Definitely a fun way to spend the day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

I think you should all watch the best new show of the year tonight. And I'm not saying that just because I write for it.

So sit down, mix yourself a gin rickey and enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Lovely Way to End the Summer

Today was one of those truly beautiful end of summer days in Baltimore... high in the 70s and no humidity. Just a harbinger of fall sent to tease us before the hot doldrums of September set in.

Last weekend I was visiting with the Kucserka clan in San Anselmo (see Sarah's blog from last week) and I came across this recipe in Gretchen's Gourmet magazine and knew it would be a winner because it is South Beach compliant, Weight Watchers friendly and just plain appealing.
So tonight we had our very own Mediterranean dinner poolside and this was a total winner. Enjoy.

Mediterranean Grilled Lamb Steaks (serves 4)
from Gourmet April 2009

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Turkish bay leaf, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 (3x1") strips of orange zest
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 14 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 lbs boneless top round lamb roast

In 2 tbsp of oil, cook garlic, bay leaf, fennel seeds, and zest, stirring until fennel seeds are golden about 1 minute.
Add onion and cook stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes with their juice, artichokes, and olives and cook until vegetables are tender 5-8 min. Discard zest and bay leaf
Heat grill. Cut lamb across the grain into 4 1" thick steaks and brush both sides of steaks with remaining 2 Tb of oil and season with salt and pepper
Grill lamb, turning once about 10 minutes (we needed more because our steaks were thick) for medium rare. Transfer to cutting board and slice into thin slices.
Spoon tomato mixture onto plates and top with slices of lamb

We served this tasty dish with grilled baby carrots done with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Life Aquatic

For my birthday I'm giving you all a little Moments of Rest-esque video from our trip to the California Academy of Sciences this weekend. Note: It's more Zen if you turn off the sound. Additional note: If you are Veronica, you definitely do not want to watch this. Two words: sea creatures.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Nice Way To Spend A Sunday Morning

Noah and I were up north this weekend - visiting my family, attending a wedding, hanging with Noah's mom who was in from Baltimore and celebrating my birthday a few days early. As you can imagine, the schedule was fairly packed. But Sunday morning we got to do one of my favorite things - take a trip to the Marin Farmer's Market at the Civic Center. And this isn't some skimpy market. There are rows and rows of farm stalls, food stalls, petting zoos and even a bouncy castle or two. Heaven.
There's no better time to check out the bounty at the market than early September. Fruit like crazy, the beginnings of fall veggies and all kinds of meats, fishes and cheeses. Well, sadly not as much cheese this weekend as I had hoped for, as both the Andante guy and the Pug's Leap folks were MIA for the holiday. Damn. Still, there was plenty of other good stuff to enjoy.
Like these gorgeous berries. We brought a box of the fiery orange raspberries to our picnic in Golden Gate Park. They were sooo good. And I'm not at all a raspberry person. Usually they're too mushy and slightly fermented tasting for me (yes, even the really great, fancy, expensive ones), but these were great. They had an almost citrusy tang to them.
Brian picked up some fantastic tuna from the fish folks at Santa Rosa Seafood, which he whipped up for us at my birthday dinner at Insalata's. I must say, it's pretty nice having a chef in the family. I meant to get a few of the SRS oysters, but was rushed out of the market before I had a chance. Next time.
Of course, we had to grab some stone fruits as well - flavor king plums, flavor grenade pluots and some O'Henry peaches. We cut them up and had them along with dates (also acquired at the market) for our picnic dessert.
Stacy getting fresh with a plum.
Stone fruit free samples. I had to take this one three or four times because people kept popping in and blocking the shot as they reached for their taste.
I just liked this sign. Doesn't it make you smile?
One of the food stalls at the market is a wood-fire pizza oven. We always get their fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and egg breakfast pizza. Apparently you can hire them to do parties in Marin. If I lived there, they would be catering my birthday party. I guess dinner at Church & State is an acceptable substitute.
It was a nice time at the market - not too crowded, not too hot and lots and lots of deliciousness. Stay tuned for details of the picnic in GGP and the trip to the Academy of Sciences. I've got two words to tease it... duck rillettes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Anniversary! Let's Celebrate with Cocktail Hour.

I know, it's been waaaay too long. I just started up on a new show (a month earlier than expected) and I've been playing catch-up with my everyday, non-work life ever since. And today's post is hardly a good make up for my lack of attention. But I just read this cocktail recipe from the sommelier at Drago Centro, Michael Shearin and I really want it. Right now. At just barely past noon on a Monday.

But it's Noah and my anniversary (3 years ago, can you believe it?) and dammit I think I should get a mid-day drink. Not sure what my boss would think, so...

Maybe I'll just have to stick to the cookies, pastries, candies and tarts that have just been delivered as a "congratulations on the first day of production" treat.

Fumo e Fuoco
Recipe adapted from Michael Shearin, originally from
Makes 1 drink

¼ Thai Bird's Eye chile pepper
¼ ounce honey syrup (1 part honey dissolved in 1 part hot water and cooled)
2 ounces Dewar's 12-year-old Scotch Whisky
½ ounce fresh lemon juice

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the chile with the honey syrup (go easy: more muddling means more heat). Add the Scotch Whisky and lemon juice, and fill the shaker with ice. Stir until thoroughly chilled, strain the cocktail into an ice-filled rocks glass and serve.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

THE Attack of the Killer Zucchini

What happens when you can't see under the zucchini plants? These two behemoths "went to the mattresses" to avoid detection and picking. While cleaning-up the garden and re-staking the tomatoes, I discovered them hiding under the massive leaves of my two zucchini plants.

Yes, I only planted 2 zucchini and now have so much of the yummy veggie that I had to place a call to all my friends to find new recipes that freeze well and task good.

So if you also find yourself with far too many zucchini plants and not enough friends to give them away to, let me suggest one of the following recipes. Properly stored, you can enjoy the fruits of your labors well into winter (and for those of us who do not live in sunny CA, that's a real treat!).


3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 8oz can crushed pineapple,drained
3 cups flour,unsifted 2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp.baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon 1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins,optional

1. Beat eggs, add oil, sugar and vanilla; beat mixture until light and foamy.
2. Stir in zucchini and pineapple.
3. Combine flour, soda, salt baking powder, cinnamon, nuts and raisins.
4. Stir gently into zucchini mixture.
5. Pour batter into a greaed and floured 9x5 loaf pan.
6. Bake 350( for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans.


2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
2 cups flour
2 tsp.baking powder
1 tsp.cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shredded unpeeled zucchini 2/3 cups dried tart cherries
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel

1. Put eggs in large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on med.speed 3 to 4 minutes or until eggs are thick and lemon colored.
2. Add sugar, oil, lemon juice and water, mix well.
3. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; mix well.
5. Stir in zucchini, cherries and lemon peel.
6. Grease and flour bottom of 8-/2 x 4-1/2" loaf pan.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan.
8. Bake in preheated 350( oven 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
9. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.
10. Remove from pan. Let cool completely.
11. Wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator or Freeze.


4 small zucchini
1 cup & 1 Tablespoon bisquick
8 Tablespoons grated parm. cheese
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons oil{liquid}
1 dash pepper
1/2 cup onion,chopped
4 eggs,slightly beaten
1/4teaspoon garlic powder {I use more}
2 tablespoons parsley flakes

Mix together all ingredients.
Pour into greased 9 x 13 x 2" pan.
Bake 350( for 1/2 hour or until light brown.

Here is one for Zucchini Casserole this is a new one for me too. A friend just gave this one to me,she said it is really good.


3 cups cornbread stuffing
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
2 small zucchini, shredded
2 yellow squash, shredded
1/4 cup carrots ,shredded
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup{reg. or 98% free}

Stir stuffing and butter in large bowl.
Reserve 1/2 cup of stuffing mixture
Spoon remaining into a 2 quart shallow baking dish.
Stir soup, sour cream, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and cheese into a med. bowl.
Spread the mixture over the stuffing mixture and sprinkle with the reserve stuffing mixture.
Bake at 350( for 40 minutes or until hot.

You can also use the zucchinis like an eggplant Make a parmigana instead of eggplant use the zucchini in its place or try making lasagna with it too.

And One last tasty choice:


2 cups shredded zucchini (8 oz)
3 eggs OR 3/4 cup egg substitute
2 cup granulated sugar OR 1.5 cups Splenda
3/4 cups cooking oil OR 3/4 cups applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk chocolate pieces (optional)

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup softened butter
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 24 2.5 inch muffin cups with paper bake-cups or lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Stir together zucchini, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.
3. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and chocolate chips (if using)
4. Stir to combine
5. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each cup half full.
6. Bake about 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
7. Cool in pan on wire wrack for 5 minutes, remove cups from pan and cool completely

Frosting Prep:

1. Beat 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup softened butter, 1 Tbsp milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
2. Gradually add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, beating until combined.
3. If necessary, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons additional milk until desired consistency

I eliminated the chocolate chips and did not frost the cupcakes and they still were wonderful. They're great with coffee, as a desert with vanilla ice cream, or in the morning as a snack. If you use the alternatives of egg substitute, applesauce, and Splenda they're also low calorie and low points.

They freeze well too!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Birthday Dinner to Remember

Stacy's birthday was a few weeks back and I've been totally slacking on putting up these pictures and this post. Blame it on the wildly hectic new job that's got me staying past 9pm twice a week. And the multiple weddings. And the spousal birthdays. And general laziness. But finally here it is... prepare to be gastronomically taunted.
Brian put together the entire 40+ person dinner - the menu, the cooking, the decorating, all of it. Well, he had some help on the cooking end, "borrowing" several chef friends who came in and helped him assemble a (seriously) multi-course meal in Stacy & Brian's tiny kitchen. The dinner was served at a long table (well several tables strung together) in a manner inspired by my and Noah's rehearsal dinner.
It was a beautiful night in Fairfax - sunny early on with some clouds and very, very light drizzle later in the evening. The moisture in the air even brought an auspicious rainbow along with it. So pretty!
The birthday girl herself, in the middle of their small but lush backyard vegetable garden.
This was one of the entrees, an amazing slow roasted pork loin. And the next day it made an even more amazing pork sandwich. Or so I was told, as someone may have put it all in his sandwich and left none for his poor, hungry wife.
This is the remnants of what was probably my favorite course - a black and white risotto. I believe it was a parmesan risotto with artichokes and sausage, with a black squid ink risotto "crust". I am salivating at the memory.
The non-vegetarian friendly ravioli.
The vegetarian friendly ravioli. I'm trying to remember what was inside...maybe beet greens & beets & ricotta? I don't think I got to this course.
The table before everyone sat down.
A view of Stacy & Brian's jam-packed garden. They've got enough tomato plants to keep all the folks who sign up for Patchwork Farms in tomatoes for the rest of the summer.
A delicious spinach, bacon and egg salad.
Probably my third favorite course - a variety of heirloom tomatoes and some seriously good burrata.
An heriloom bean, beet and mushroom salad with arugula. Another winning combination.
My second favorite dish, the homemade ceviche. It went fast, hence the less than awesome photo.
Roasted potatoes.
One of my 4 platefuls of food. I believe I am still running off the weight I gained that weekend.
A crappy picture of the traditional Kucserka family birthday dessert - Princess Cake. It's a marzipan shell over a white cake with cream and raspberries. I don't think there's a better cake in the whole world.
Mom's strawberry rhubarb pie. My favorite pie in the world. Mom was going to do an apple pie, but my sad face (I'd just found out I would be starting work unexpectedly that Monday and had to bail on the yearly family trip to Packer Lake at the last minute) made her reconsider her pie choice. I'm so glad you did, Mom!
The last dessert of the night, a "Blueberry Cheesecake in a Jar". Brian invented this one and according to those who could eat it without a lactose attack, it was awesome.

Overall a one in a lifetime, delicious multi-course meal prepared by (in my humble opinion) the best chefs in town. There were even a few sides that I think I missed, not to mention the pre-dinner snacks: cheese, meats, homemade preserved tuna poached in oil and lots of garden veggies to nibble on.

Noah's up in Marin for a few days again, going to concert with his brother and staying with my fam. There's a bbq at Stacy and Brian's tonight and I am super jealous. My takeout chicken just doesn't compare.