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Photo Feb 20, 7 57 17 PM

Cheese + bread and I am happy on my desolate island, maybe let me bring soft bedding, a few good books, and Laura Mercier body cream in Fresh Fig, but most importantly the good cheese and bread. I have always been a super practical girl. Obviously I am a total sucker for pizza and I know I am not alone. Last week I made a grown up version at home, a throw back to when we used to make mini pizzas on english muffins as kids and got so excited to put on our own toppings. There are so many ways to add healthy, fresh, seasonal ingredients to pizza all year long, and it’s fun to get creative. Try to stick to one or two cuisine types for each pizza, like a mexican inspired, or california seafood style pizza when creating

I had some local baby fennel, and yellow cipollini onions on hand and decided to make a sauceless simple pair of pizzas.

2 baby fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
1 medium yellow cipollini onion, sliced thinly
Olive oil
2 prepared pizza dough packs from Trader Joes
1/2 cup Parmesan shavings
1 container of ovoline fresh mozzarella
1 granny smith apple
a few ounces of proscuitto
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium low heat, add the onion and fennel and let them soften. In the meantime, stretch the dough and transfer to a baking sheet or pizza stone, cook each pizza on the same sheet or separately. Brush with olive oil and bake until dry to prevent the toppings from making the dough soggy. Remove from oven and place the onion/fennel, proscuitto, mozzarella and Parmesan on one pizza, and on the other substitute apple for the proscuitto. Bake until bubbly, tender and golden. Enjoy with a light and simple salad.

Photo Dec 23, 2 46 59 PM

Growing up my dad chose to put his foot down and take his wife and four daughters to Maui every year for Thanksgiving, thus escaping the craziness of a huge family get together. I was incredibly lucky to spend countless hours in the ocean, playing with my friends I’d made over the years and quality time with my sisters. I cherish that intimate family time and the memories we made.

Christmas has always been the opposite, a big get together with aunties and uncles, cousins, my sisters and their families, friends and little ones. This year we have close to thirty people over for dinner. We are having beef tenderloin and salmon this year, with our guests bringing side dishes. I wanted to try something different, and enjoyed the bites of the sunchoke and pork belly dish my dad had recently ordered at a dinner out at Soif so much. Sunchokes look like ginger, but can be prepared like a potato. Scrub them clean with a stiff vegetable brush. Slice them about 1/4″ thick, I found I liked the texture much more when they weren’t too thin.

Ingredients:
2 to 3 large sunchokes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub the sunchokes clean. When picking them out at the store, try to avoid the really knobby ones, because it makes it more difficult to clean. Slice thinly. Add the garlic and sunchokes to a roasting pan, tossing them in olive oil. I like to use a refillable spray like this one because you can evenly and lightly cover your veggies or pastas that way. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary and let roast for approximately 15 minutes. They are a great substitute for potatoes and taste a touch sweet.

 

roasted sunchoke

I guess you are not supposed to remember things that happened before the age of three, but I have clear memories of the home I lived in. I can picture the tall redwoods, the sun shining through the forest, I can hear the stream bubbling. I am even aware of how far it is from the bounty. The bounty then was the vegetable garden my mother grew. The bounty was actually my favorite thing. I think my parents like to think my favorite things were books and reading, or Alice my dog, or my big sisters coming to visit, or Mr. Rogers on TV, but no it was food. I loved food so much that I would literally toddle into the garden and eat tomatoes off the vine. I loved it so very much, that I would eat raw vegetables like they were candy. My first memory is so vividly connected with the food growing in my mother’s garden, that I’m not sure the memory would exist if it wasn’t for the smell and taste of those yellow cherry tomatoes.

 

I would like to say this now, and get it over with, I have never had a hot dog. This is not an invitation to tempt me with the most amazing hot dog dish ever created, that I just have to have, I have zero desire. Plus, if I’m being candid, I rather enjoy being able to say it is something I have never consumed and I would like to keep it that way. Hot dogs are for kids, or at least that’s how it starts, and my mother fed us like she was nourishing our souls through our bellies. We ate fresh ingredients. We ate every meal at the dinner table. We asked to be excused. If we were full, we said politely that “I have had a sufficient amount to eat”. I didn’t know what cookies were until it could no longer be avoided. There was nothing lazy about our meals. My mother attempted to sneak vegetables into the desserts she served, I was mortified and ridiculed for the shredded zucchini in her jello at my birthday party. We always had to take a “no-thank-you-bite”, even if you theatrically gagged and psuedo vomitted at the sight and smell of yellow squash. It was a firm rule. We were fed simple, healthy, conscious food by a mother’s love.   


I now find myself immersed in the produce industry and learning new things every day about the ingredients that chefs at every level are using to create the food that my Bay Area community consumes. I am a complete novice in the kitchen. I have a desire to know everything there is to know about seasonality, growing regions, refining my palate, creating dishes for the people I love, and practically using these ingredients in a home kitchen. This is my purposeful ramble into the world of produce, honoring the teachings of my mother and possibly finding me in the process.