Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I don’t normally blog on Thursdays, but I had a special treat to share:
HAH-haha! I love it, every year, it never gets old.
Hey loyal fans…all 10 or 12 of you! (And I love you ALL!)
I have been so busy since returning from Europe that I have neglected my blog. I’m back at it now, trying to stick to 4-posts a week schedule.
But I’m going to throw out a little Thursday surprise – kitchen towels from Paris!
Be the first to leave me a comment on your kitchen colors/textiles, and I will mail you these fabulous kitchen towels from Habitat in Paris!
I hauled these babies all the way back from the lovely city of lights, just to make one lucky bloggers day! Aren’t they beautiful? There are 2 towels, and I think the pattern has apples, branches, and leaves, and the colors are red and a greeney-yellow.
Okay, if I were a good blogger, I wouldn’t have missed my last 3 posts because I’ve been so busy working overtime at work and getting ready for my trip.
If I were a REALLY good blogger, I’d have been proactive and set-up posts to go out on my regular days while I’m gone.
Well, guess what? I’m going to give you 3 guesses, and the first 2 don’t count…I’m a crappy blogger, because I have failed you dear reader on BOTH accounts.
BUT, I can promise to have fabulous pictures and stories for you upon my return…deal? Maybe? Maybe not?
My apologies, but I will be back soon. AU REVOIR for now!
I know what you’re thinking…where’s the pasta? That looks like couscous!
Au contraire mon frere! It is Acini di pepe pasta, which is Italian for ‘peppercorns’, so they look like tiny beads. I think they’re perfect for this pasta salad because all the yummy pesto base I made for it completely coats the tiny pearls, making sure each bite is covered in the creamy goodness.
Again, I got this from no book, so I can’t link to a recipe, but here’s the down and dirty from my memory:
Pesto (I handmade mine, but use storebought if you’re in a hurry):
3/4 c. toasted pine nuts (reserve 1/4 cup for finished salad)
(Let’s have a conversation about toasted pine nuts here, shall we? Because if you’re not going to toast your pine nuts for your pesto, you’re just wasting your time. Don’t even go there, just put the ingredients back in the cabinet and shut-er-down, because what’s the point? Toasting pine nuts is what brings out their nuttiness – crazy, I know! They taste like 2 completely different things in their raw form, compared to their toasted delightfullness. So, don’t skimp – toast, and shuddap about it.) Continue…
1-2 cups packed basil leaves
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated parm
EVOO (grab the bottle, we’re streaming it in!)
kosher salt and pepper to taste
Throw all of this into your food processor (or blender), w/ a few splashes of EVOO. Hit start, now start streaming in EVOO until the mixture emulsifies, and starts to look like the consistency of a dressing. Stop! Take the lid off, smell, sing your praises to the toasted pine nut Gods. Set aside.
1lb. of Acini de pepe pasta (or other small pasta, if you like), cooked al dente
1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved and roasted w/ EVOO, kosher salt, and pep
1 avocado, diced
Basically this all gets thrown together, but it’s important to know some time management steps/techniques here:
1) Start your tomato roasting first, b/c this can take up to 45 mins to achieve the kind of end result that creates soft, yet sweet and chewy roasted tomatoes. Cut all your tomatoes, dump ’em on your pan with EVOO and S&P, and swish around with your hands to coat. NOW, I DO turn them all cut side up, you WANT to do this. That way as they roast, their fleshy bellies are exposed to the heat and will render down into the sweet puddles you see in the after pic.
2) Put your pasta on second, because you need time to drain it and completely cool it. (I rush this process by setting my strainer of pasta into a bowl of ice water while I’m getting everything else together. Stir the pasta as it sits so the hot center gets distributed.
3) Now just throw all the elements together. Drain your pasta well, dump into the bowl with your diced avocado, roasted tomatoes, and pesto. Stir. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts. Taste. Adjust S&P as needed. EAT to your hearts content!
A few weekends ago I went home to Oklahoma to fulfill a promise I’d made to my Dad, to be his date for the festivities.
Several people here in Dallas asked, “Why would you want to go to your Dad’s reunion!?”
Well, you see, from the time I was 6 until I moved away after college, I lived in our small town – the very same town my dad went to high school in. Therefore, I grew up with most of his friends who stuck around to live in that town, so much so, their names are often preceded by “aunt” or “uncle” – yet we’re no blood relation. Doesn’t matter, when you’ve grown up eating my Aunt Kay’s homeade chicken dumplings and peach fried pies, or watching the quarter horses run on my Uncle Hershel’s land, it’s home, and it’s where I’m from, and what makes me.
Speaking of homeade, check out my actual cafeteria tray WITH homeade rolls! The very same homeade rolls I grew up with when I attended the smaller, country school in our town (there were only 2 schools to choose from). They tasted exactly the same, and it immediately zapped me back to my days in the lunchroom, and the infamous question we all uttered at one time, “Hey, do you want your roll?” That should tell you something about small town school cafeteria’s – they actually MAKE the food. Good times.
Okay, here ‘tis:
I’ve come on as the “food+design” writer for Modern Dallas, and for those of you who are locals, my first piece is about 3 Oak Cliff restaurants that are co-owned by the same business partners: Bolsa, Smoke, and 48 Nights.
And now my publisher has asked me to write a more condensed piece on Bolsa and Smoke for a local traveler’s publication that goes into all the local hotels in the DFW area! I think I’m not sure what I’m getting myself into, but I love it, so here goes!
Well kids, it was time for me to move on to greener and larger pastures. I’ve spent the last 2 weekends moving my blog to a WordPress format, getting it hosted at this new domain, and making numerous tweaks and changes.
These are my new digs…howd’ya like ’em?
Why the move you ask? Well, for one, it was time, and two, I’m going to be writing a regular column for Modern Dallas about ‘food+design’! (Yes, I’m way excited! Thank you Jeff Levine!)
The whole idea is to talk about the branding and concept that went into the design of a restaurant, the creative process and people behind that design, and well, the food, of course!
Of course, in addition to the column, this blog will remain filled with anecdotes of my daily life including food, recipes, friends, my dog, etc.
I hope you like my new place, and if you’ve got something you wanna’ share with me, or a restaurant you think I need to try, shoot me an e-mail: email@example.com!
Okay, so my friend Kanita came over the other night to help me FINALLY paint my 2 bathrooms, in order to get ready for company I had this past weekend. Athena came along to keep us company for a bit, and to organize her purse. THIS was the contents of her purse!
Can you IMAGINE??? OMG, we almost died of laughter and disbelief when she got it all out and organized into piles on my dining room table! lol
I mean, she had bandanges, medical tape, about 50 pens, prescriptions, like $100 in change and small bills, granola bars, tons of lotions/potions, couple boxes of cigs, several hand sanitizers, loads of candy, and THREE clementine oranges! WTF!? lol It was nuts – oh, I think she had some of those in there too!
Food 'sparks' conversation, debate, excursions, passion, therapy, etc. I love food...cooking it, eating it, serving it. Be it sniffing out a hole-in-the wall place I heard has the best mac n' cheese, or seeking out places while on vacation that I've read about in Bon Appétit - I'm ALL about it. Oh, Sparks also happens to be my last name. So there's where the two marry.
Cooking, dining, foodie'ism, pinching pennies, home decorating, traveling…a bit of everything is here.
Most all of the photos on this blog are taken via my BlackBerry, because I like to blog on the go! Click the pics to enlarge so you can see the full ooey-gooeyness of it all.