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.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Patchwork Farms - A CSA-Style Enterprise in Marin

Stacy and Brian are starting a new endeavor up in Marin, a CSA-like project called Patchwork Farms that sounds absolutely fantastic.

The idea is simple - people in the greater Ross Valley area can sign up to barter and trade their abundance of fruits and veggies with other neighbors in the area. All the information is available on their website (linked above).

If you're up in Marin, sign up today!