Hello Webisodes!

Hola September! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and a lovely end to summer. With Labor Day now behind us, I’m looking forward to the fall: a time of new beginnings, new projects and new inspirations.

Today, I bring you something new! I’ve been wanting to make videos for a while and with the help of some very talented people, I’ve put together a handful of episodes. As always, it’s all about embracing the coziness and more often than not, that begins in the kitchen and ends at the table. So, my friends, without further ado, episode one. I hope you like it. Please let me know what you think! And check back next Tuesday for the second installment.

Also: friends who helped me pull this together: namely Holly Flora, Jeana Sohn, Alex de Cordoba, Brad Breeck and most importantly Andy Jurgensen, thank you!

Full recipes after the jump.

Heirloom Tomato and Plum Salad
Serves 2

This salad is inspired by a lovely summer meal at Outerlands, one of my favorite restaurants in the Sunset district of San Francisco. The restaurant is the whole package – the rustic beachy decor feeds my inner design nerd, and of course there’s the menu, which rotates constantly with food that is both wholesome and inventive. This salad is really a lesson in simplicity. And while it could be made with any fresh fruit, Outerlands co-owner David Muller presents his version with fresh plums and heirloom tomatoes. I love leafy greens in my salads, so I serve it topped with handfuls of arugula. You won’t need all the dressing for two people, but I like to make extra, store it in the fridge and use it throughout the week.

¼ cup freshly sqeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced into wedges
2 plums, sliced into wedges
4 oz arugula

Place the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a mason jar and shake vigorously till emulsified.

Combine tomatoes, plums and arugula in your serving bowl. Just before serving, top with vinaigrette to taste.

*download a printable version HERE

Cheese and Charcuterie Plate
Serves 4

My chic friend Margo is perhaps the most gracious hostess I know. While visiting her house last summer, she prepared a lunch that I’ve been reincarnating in different versions every since. The secret to this meal is that there was no “main dish.” Instead, Margo served an assortment of gorgeous cheese, cured meats, freshly baked breads, a bowl of plums, sliced peaches, and a green salad. Creating your own version is a great opportunity to experiment with different meats and cheeses – ask your cheese monger what varieties compliment each other. You could even organize the board thematically –  go Spanish with Manchego cheese and Chorizo sausage with Marcona Almonds or if Italy is your inspiration, use chunks of good Parmesan Cheese and slices of Proscuitto with a small bowl of roasted red peppers. I like to serve this meal on a rustic wooden board.

selection of 3 cheeses (one cow, one goat, one sheep), slicing a few servings of each
selection of 3 cured meats (bresaola, soppressata and proscuitto), thinly sliced
tupelo honey
raisin walnut loaf, sliced
baguette, sliced

Artfully arrange meats and cheeses (wedges and slices) on a board or platter. Fill in the gaps with small bowls: one with olives (along with a smaller bowl for the pits) and the other filled with honey. You want the board to look elegant but overflowing with goodness. Place your sliced breads in a basket, bowl or platter nearby.

*download a printable version HERE

Watermelon Granita
Serves 6

On my first trip to Italy, my sister and I spent a week exploring Tuscany and Piedmont, areas that are known for sensational food and wine. We were so inspired that we decided to take a cooking class, where we learned to cook regional specialities such as Pici Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic, a Country Herb Spinach Pie and Flaky Pastry with Chocolate, Pears and Pine nuts. One of the best things I recall tasting on that trip was a scoop of watermelon granita following a particularly heavy lunch. It was a hot day and the granita was intensely refreshing, like a snow cone but softer and with more flavor. You can make granita out of any fruit (I love using meyer lemons with vanilla sugar and mint) or even with espresso and cream. Italian inspired dessert, totally divine if you ask me.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups, cubed watermelon
the zest of 1 lemon

Make simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small pan over medium heat and cooking until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Let cool.

Blend the cubed watermelon in batches until smooth and pour into a wide and shallow baking dish (if the watermelon is not blending smoothly, add a splash of water). Add the lemon zest and half of the cooled simple syrup to the pureed fruit and stir. Give it a taste and add more syrup if needed – the amount of simple syrup necessary depends on the the type of fruit and your sweetness quotient (store any leftover simple syrup in a mason jar in the fridge and use for ice tea or coffee throughout the week).

Place the baking dish in your freezer for an hour. Remove and rake it over with a fork breaking up any ice crystals. You’ll want to do this again two more times over the next hour or two, depending on your freezer. Rake again before serving (the consistency should be light and fluffy) and spoon into martini glasses . Serve with shortbread cookies.

*download a printable version HERE