Crab-Scented Risotto

A few weeks ago, a bunch of friends from work decided to get together for CrabFest 2008. A similar event was held in 2007 and it was such a success that people kept wondering when we would hold the 2008 version. If you remember though, we had a silly oil spill here that coincided with the usual start of crab season, so us crabby folks in the Bay Area have had to wait a while before we can feast on our local crawly friends, making us extra crabby. (Ha! Oh yes, I just went there.)

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Coffee-Rubbed Lamb Chops

On Valentine’s Day this year, I went to a yoga class taught by Les at Yoga Tree, one of my favorite yoga teachers in the city. Although I can’t really afford to go to Yoga Tree all the time, especially given the availability of cheap and decent yoga at my school’s gym, I still try to take classes at the studio about once a month. Les’ Vinyasa classes are always on top of my list because even though they’re pretty sweaty and hardcore, they’re also surprisingly calming and meditative. On top of that, he just seems like such a sweet guy! For example, during last Thursday’s class, he reminded us to “not let Hallmark tell you to love only one single day out of the entire year!” Aww…

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Romanesco Frittata

A few weeks ago, I learned about the Mariquita Farm Mystery Thursdays from one of my favorite foodie blogs 101 cookbooks. Since our regular CSA boxes from Terra Firma Farm don’t usually come with extra-crazy vegetables and I’ve been wanting to explore some exotic ones, I convinced Nathan to try out a ‘mystery box’ from Mariquita. Lucky for us, the next delivery was scheduled for Incanto, one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants!

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Sweet Potato Pot Pie

With the chilly, rainy nights we’ve been having these days, there’s really nothing better than staying at home where it’s dry and warm. To be honest, our apartment is not the furnace that I would like it to be (or we would go broke from the electricity bill and the earth would be unhappy with us). So here’s my secret to staying warm: I look for every excuse to turn on the oven. Yes, I know that the oven still contributes to our PG&E bill and we’re still using up precious natural resources, but for some reason, I can justify it to myself better when food is involved.

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Cranberry Harvest Muffins

When I was in college, I never really ate breakfast. But nowadays, I can’t even leave the house until I munch on something, even if it’s something little. I have no idea when this change happened or why, but I think in general, I like it because I like breakfast foods. Honestly, how can anyone not like eggs and bacon and sausage?

However, most weekdays, I don’t really have time to make any sort of fancy eggy dishes before rushing off to work. So I like to make sure the house is stocked with a few easy and quick breakfast options. Muffins are great for this purpose – you spend a little time baking a batch on a weekend or weekday evening, let them cool for a bit, then throw them in a freezer bag. Then, whenever you feel the urge for a quick breakfast, you pop them in the microwave for a minute or so. Ding! And you’ve got a steamy-warm muffin, almost as if they just came out of the oven.

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Linguine with Arugula and Black Pepper

You know what? I used to be addicted to those super-quick pasta packages you find at the supermarket – you know, the Kraft mac-n-cheeses and the Pasta Ronis in assorted flavors. When I was in college, my roommates and I had a little hot plate in our dorm room, to which we would resort when the food at the dining hall was especially terrible that day. When all you have is a single hot plate and a little saucepan (and a whole night of homework ahead of you), those instant pasta things came in pretty handy. When I graduated from college, I would still turn to those pasta packages when I didn’t have time to really cook. When I moved to Berkeley and decided to eat healthier and more organic, I started buying Annie’s mac-n-cheese instead.

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Chile Verde (Pork and Tomatillo Stew)

One of my presents from this past Christmas was a Macy’s gift card (thanks, John and Pam!). Although I had every intention of going into the store and buying some much-needed new jeans, I “accidentally” strolled into the kitchen section. There, sitting on a shelf with a big “50% off” tag on it, was a shiny red enameled cast-iron pot! No, it wasn’t a Le Creuset. It was a “Martha Stewart Collection” but when one is a grad student, one cannot be too picky.

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Spitzbuebe (Swiss Christmas Cookies)

The other day, Nathan and I finally watched the movie ‘Hot Fuzz,’ a British comedy/parody of Hollywood-blockbuster-style buddy-cop flicks. e.g. ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Point Break’. The movie started out a bit slow but then ended up being one of the funniest movies I’ve seen.

How does this relate at all to Christmas cookies? It doesn’t really, except that Spitzbuebe means ‘bad boys’, so I would have that stupid ‘Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do …’ song in my head when I make these. Hopefully, that won’t happen to you. Anyway, Spitzbuebe are light and buttery shortbread cookies sandwiching a layer of raspberry jam and dusted with confectioners’ sugar. The only downside to them is that these delicate little things get stale relatively easily, so you can’t really keep them around for the whole holiday season. But this makes them the perfect cookies to bring to holiday parties and dinners!

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Kuchen (German Apple and Cranberry Cake)

Happy holidays, everyone!

For me, the holiday season is all about OD-ing on baking. There’s really nothing like the smell of goodies baking in the oven to make your house feel Christmas-y.

Lucky for us, this holiday season is also about serious cleaning, since there are little dust bunnies hanging out in the corners of the rooms. Thus I’ll get straight to the point (so Nathan doesn’t end up cleaning the whole house before I get off the computer) and give you the recipe for a festive, yet super-easy, German apple and cranberry cake. Because it’s German, you can sound all snooty and call it a kuchen, if you wish. Sadly, there is no umlaut over that ‘u’.

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Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup)

Yay! Kale is here!

I’ve been awaiting the arrival of a big bunch of kale in our CSA box, just so I can make this soup. I first had caldo verde in Lisbon (‘ooo look at the world traveller…how globe-trotty are we’), where it was literally on the menu of every restaurant we went to. Finally, the last night at dinner, I wanted to see what the big deal was and ordered a bowl of caldo verde along with bacalhau, another Portuguese standard. Ever since then, this soup has been one of my favorites to make at home.

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