Friday, June 29, 2012

Back from Cali!

I'm back from California!  Did you miss me?  To be honest, I missed you.  I missed cooking and baking and blogging, but it was a wonderful trip with some wonderful people.  It was an amazing week, and while I am glad to be home, I am sad that it's over.

Fresh picked artichokes!

Some blog-related highlights included the farmer's market in Santa Monica.  This puts our Westminster market to shame, and I always thought it was fabulous.  This was entire city blocks of freshly picked pistachios, olives, plums, avocados - things we just don't get in Massachusetts!  Not to mention the flowers, breads, tomatoes, and cherries!  I could have spent the whole day there, but here are some of my favorite shots:
Who knew eggs could be so pretty?

I bought 5 of these for $5

My quinoa salad at our beach party!

Another highlight: the dinner part we put on Wedesnday night.  Kaz and Andrea have lots of friends out there from when they lived in LA, and we invited Paul to come over (since we were there after all for his wedding!).  We ended up having about 10 people over to eat.  $200 at Whole Foods later, and we were ready to party!  Mark was in charge of grilling the meats, and Andrea and I were on side dish duty (hmmm... Kaz? Haha).    Andrea made a salad and guacamole, and she helped me out with my culinary adventure: quinoa salad.  I have been intrigued by quinoa for a while, and I figured now was the perfect time to try it.  It's gluten-free so it would be okay for Kaz, and Andrea could show me how to cook it since she is an expert.  We ended up uncovering a rice cooker to make the quinoa, and then it was time to make the salad.  It has watermelon, parsely and feta, and a dressing made from sweet onion, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.  I know -the watermelon makes it sound a little strange, but just trust me, and make this salad.  We doubled it since we were expecting so many people, and ended up with 2 huge bowls of it.  Believe it or not, by the end of the night, almost all of it went!  People were complimenting me and having seconds (and thirds!).  Paul even said he loves meat more than anything else, but gorged himself on the quinoa salad because it was so good.  I was happy to be doing my "cookin' thang" out in California!  I then brought this recipe home and made it last night to accompany Mark's amazing fish tacos.  Alex kept saying it was "cous cous" and Rachael picked out the watermelon because she is weird, but Mom and I liked it.  It's a great lunch for leftovers because I think the flavor gets better the next day.  You can eat it hot or cold; I like it cold better.  I think I am a quinoa lover!
Last night's salad

Tonight I made a dinner I have been wanting to make for a while: cipolli onion and potato pie.  It's a pie, full of sliced potatoes and pearl onions, and a cheese sauce.  What's not to like!?  Unfortunately I couldn't find cipolli onions, so I bought those little boiler onions.  I ended up having to halve them because they were still too big, though.  The cheese sauce.... I could swim in it.  Gruyere, cheddar, and Parmigianno-Reggiano- you can't go wrong with those. Add some chickem broth, rosemary, and ground pepper and you have possibly the best cheese sauce I have ever tasted.  The next time I have toc ome up with a cheese sauce for something, this might have to be it.  For the pie, you then whisk in an egg to help firm things up, and it bakes for just under an hour.  Really I should have baked it longer than the 50 minutes I allowed, but we were starving.  Some of the onions and potato slices could have done with a bit more time, but I was not able to wait any more.  I liked this pie, and I'd make it again.

quinoa salad with watermelon and feta
cipolli onion and potato pie

1 comment:

  1. Who would have thought a quinoa salad would be such a hit! Only in LA I guess!?!? anyway - Andrea's going to make the quinoa salad for my Uncle's Bday/4th of July party this weekend!! BTW - not only was I DJ'ing - i was on outdoor chair/table and firewood duty!!! I also bought mad ingredients & snacks before you guys even landed at LAX!!