Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Feeling Sated

Sunday after I got homei went into a bit of a cooking/baking frenzy.

This came on top of making soup, bread and potato tacos over the holiday, so I was still in the mode for it I guess.

So I made a leek & apple tart and cupcakes.

Yesterday, I brought my friends at work each a chocolate cupcake with rosewater frosting.

For myself, my lunch consisted of a few pieces of crunchy bacon and a slice of leek tart with a few beets on the side.

My revelation was that I eat everyday at work, yet am never sated.

After I ate, I felt pleased. I made such a lovely crust, the leeks were so flavorful and the apple was still a bit crisp.

This then is what has been missing.

I just finished MFK Fisher's 'Gastromical Me' and I think that is part of it: the feelings produced by good, honest food.

In the wrong company, wonderful food can taste like sawdust.

The act of creating your own food is worthwhile and may be what finally leaves you feeling relaxed, happy & sated.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Delightful Aperitif

The Europeans have it right. How so? Ah the aperitif: an alcoholic drink enjoyed before a meal. Then there is the Digestif, such as brandy, which comes after the meal.

Before you invite some friends over, here are some of the choices:

Ah well, sparkling wine, for one. Sherry and other fortified wines, such as Vin Maison. Pastis.

In France you can join friends in a local café to enjoy a drink before you go off on your separate ways to take pleasure in a meal, or perhaps eat one together.

When invited to someone’s home, you enjoy your aperitif for a half hour to an hour, enjoy some small tasty tidbits & conversation, then amble your way to your meal, leaving your hosts to theirs.

I love the idea of an aperitif, of taking the time to enjoy a nice drink, a little snack and a pleasing conversation. These are the things I would like to see more of: the time taken to relax and treasure these moments. Even nicer is the fact that there are also plenty of non-alcoholic options so anyone can enjoy!

Need some ideas for appropriate edibles? Olives, nuts, mini savory tarts and puff pastries. Even some easy fresh vegetables, cheese or baguettes with a yummy spread. Really, the possibilities are endless…

So grab yourself some lovely glasses, so great conversationalists and your favorite aperitif & nibble. Life is mean to savored and now is the time to begin!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What You Should Be Buying Organically

Organic is a big buzzword these days and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. However, there are some foods that are more important that others when it comes to eating clean.

Some foods, such as bananas, melons and avocados have thick enough skins that the low amounts of pesticides used on them usually don’t make much difference between conventional and organic.

Here are some of the top foods that you should be eating organically to avoid pesticides, heavy metals and general contamination:


Green Beans

Bell Peppers


Almonds, Peanuts and Pecans



Apples & Pears




Stone Fruits

Dairy and Eggs

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Foodbloggers go wild!

what happens when a bunch of food bloggers get together and start eating drinking and tweeting?

well, we might not remember if there hadn't been pictures!...and video....

Mustache party

Heather rocks the stache in new ways!

Lipstick. No really. Just watch it!

Biggie and her stache drink some water....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Moving Beyond your comfort zone

Why is it that if you are African American and a chef, you are expected to always cook ‘soul food’?

Don’t get me wrong, I love good soul food. But give me a well cooked French, Italian or Mexican meal and I am more than happy to dine with gusto.

Moving beyond the comfort food zone has never been easier. Everything from vegetables & fruit to beer are seasonal. Even meat & cheese are seasonal, so you can always be eating the freshest food available.

Much of the food that is considered classic soul food today, was created by slaves who were forced to eat scraps left by their masters. Cooks were adept at creating something from nothing. What would they say though, if they could grow their own food for themselves and had access to the freshest food obtainable?

As winter looms, the seasonal choices are vast: apples, basil, figs, sprouts, squash, avocados, pears, sweet potatoes, persimmons, and pomegranates. With such a bounty, the old ways of soul food can be reborn.

I have only recently become a sweet potato fan, as I hate them with marshmallows…. Here is how I like them:

Sweet Potato mash

Take one sweet potato, peel and chop it.

Boil that darling root until soft, add a bit of butter, salt & pepper as you mash it, and I promise that it will be the best most delicious food you have ever eaten.
Simple, pure, and best of all, inexpensive.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Almond Muffins with Stephanie Stiavetti

I really know very little about baking Gluten Free, and since so many of my friends are gluten free I thought I better get a handle on the situation. I called upon my friend Stephanie the force behind Wasabimon.

She delightfully agreed to come on the show and teach us how to make these wonderful Almond Muffins with blueberries and peaches. She also throws in a fast easy lesson for you on how to make vanilla extract!

So, here are the recipe and the photos, courtesy of Ms. Wasabimon herself. Enjoy the show... and the muffins!

Blueberry Peach Almond Flour Muffins (grain, dairy, and gluten free!)

This recipe was adapted from The Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet, by Jodi Bager and Jenny Lass. If you're interested in working more with almond flour, I highly recommend this book!

Makes 12 muffins.

2 1/2 cups finely ground almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill, available in most grocery stores)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup frozen peaches, defrosted and diced
1/2 cup frozen blueberry, defrosted and diced

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a muffin tin with baking cups.

In a mixing bowl, mix almond flour, baking soda and salt. Add vanilla and eggs, mixing until well incorporated. Add honey and fruit, stirring well.

Spoon the batter into your prepared muffins cups - you should fill them about 2/3 full. Bake about 30 minutes, or until muffins are slightly browned on top and an inserted knife comes out clean.

*we enjoyed them with real butter, but they would be fantastic with some really good jam!

Vanilla Extract

You can listen to the show here

For more on Stephanie, click here! Stephanie Stiavetti

Want more Luna? well great, go ahead and see what's up! podcast

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This month has all ready been jam packed with greatness for me! I have met up with my food blogger friends from Twitter/Foodbuzz, been to a molecular mixology class, a beef tasting, and underground dinner AND signed up for a meat CSA. whew, and that is all just since the 4th!

So i need to catch up and write about some more food buzz stuff and write about all of the above. Watch this space kids, its gonna get filled with gooey goodness!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cocktails, what is your favorite?

What is the definition of a cocktail? A drink of often dissimilar ingredients. Hmmmm….

I love a good, simple cocktail. For the last four years I have leaned toward the Maker’s Mark and Ginger ale (easy rocks), a drink I was turned onto by my fellow chef sister Jennifer.

It is amazing the amount of combinations that can be created and the amount of new liquors that are born every day. Even better is the amount of spirits are coming out that are organic and sustainable.

A few years ago you couldn’t walk into a bar and order a Harvey Wallbanger, Tom Collins, or Sidecar without getting some odd looks from your bartender. After all many a bartender we encountered didn’t know how to make them!

I had the worst Old Fashioned of my life in one of my favorite bars and vowed to never order another one from that particular person, no matter how nice she is.

Today though we meet more bartenders and mixologists that can make the most obscure cocktail, such as the Blood & Sand which I tried at Foodbuzz fest.

Whether you enjoy your vodka, scotch, whiskey or bourbon on the rocks, straight or with tonic/water, there are plenty of brands to try.

What’s your favorite cocktail? What is your favorite brand of any of the above? I would love to hear feedback on this one to see what others are imbibing!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Classic Cocktails

Classic cocktails are enjoying a resurgence. I think that with all that is going on in the economy and the world, it is nice to have something safe and familiar to always turn to here. I grew to love them after I started reading the Phryne Fisher mysteries, as that classic lady's magnificent Mr. Butler keeps her thirst well at bay!

Here a few that you might give a try:

White Lady Cocktail

2 oz gin
2 oz Cointreau
1 oz lemon juice

Mix all ingredients, shake over cracked ice and pour into a cocktail glass. I am a fan of the White Lady. I will say however, to make a great classic drink, you need to magical touch of a talented mixologist or bartender!

Tom Collins

4 oz gin
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp fine sugar
6 oz club soda

Combine first three ingrediants in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Add club soda and stir.

Whiskey Sour

4 oz whiskey
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp sugar

Mix and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Try it straight up or on the rocks.

4 oz brandy
1 1/3 oz white crème de menthe

Stir well and pour into glass.

Looking for someone to come to you and make you something wonderful to tickle your palate? here in San Francisco please check out the delightful Rye SF!

have a favorite cocktail? Let's have a drink! lunaraven.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some Notes On Italian Wine

Wine Grape Varieties

Over the years I have had the chance to learn quite a bit about wine, especially Italian. I have had wines that are amazing, and wines that are just not that good. Here is some of what I have gleaned:

Chardonnay – Chardonnay can range in styles from crisp and structured, through full and rich, all the way to syrupy and fat. Flavors roam from citrus to tropical fruits, to smoke and butter, and even herbs and red raspberry. The origins and best examples of Chardonnay come from the Burgundy region of France. It is also a crucial component of Champagne and most other sparkling wines. Chardonnay grows with some success in every wine producing country on earth, with Portugal seemingly the only exception.

Grechetto – Hearty varietal, full bodied white. Commonly with aromas of wildflower and lime. Also used to create Vin Santo. Central and Southern Italy

Italian Riesling – E Europe/N Italy, sweet with low acidity, also known as Walschriesling

Malvasia – Rich brown or soft white wines that is one of the styles of Madeira, and used in Vin Santo & Negromaro. Known as Malvoisie in France

Pinot Gris – heavy, fill bodied whites. Common characteristics: lemon, pear, apple, vanilla, almond. Pinot Grigio in Italy

Trebbiano – Aroma and flavors of citrus fruits and almonds very common. Natural acidity. Central Italy

Verdicchio – Verdicchio can range from zingy and citrusy to plush and elegant to almondy and bitter on the finish. Central Eastern Italy

Vernaccia –Versions of Vernaccia include the light frizzante red wines of Vernaccia di Serrapetrona found in The Marches on the Adriatic coast and Vernaccia di Cagliari which is a fortified wine similar to sherry that can be found on the island of Sardinia. The most famous of these is the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the great white wine of Tuscany.

Vermentino – An Italian varietal that can be found extensively throughout the regions of Sardinia, Corsica, and especially the Cinque Terre D.O.C. on the Italian Riviera (Liguria). Vermentino is a very aromatic varietal combining notes of citrus, fresh grass, herbs, and almonds with a crisp and acidic framework. On the island of Corsica it is known as Malvoisie de Corse.

Aglianico – Aromas and flavors of black fruits, smoke, dark chocolate and even iron are common. Aglianico is southern Italy's greatest grape, with the best expressions coming from the D.O.Cs Taurasi in Campania and Aglianico del Vulture in Basilicata, where it grows in the volcanic ash on the slopes of Mount Vulture. It can also be found in the warm climates of Riverland (South Australia) and Nemea (Eastern Greece). It is a good match for roasts and game.

Barbera – Dark, fruity, sharp. One of the most important Italian grapes, the Barbera produces half of all the red wine found in northern Italy. Can range from light and tart to hearty and robust, factors which are determined by the age of the vines and the amount of oak ageing. Flavors and aromas of cherries, plums, red currants and raspberries are common. Piedmont produces the highest quality. 5th most widely planted grape in California.

Brunello – First cultivated in the 19th century by Ferrucio Biondi Santi, today Brunello di Montalcinos are the greatest expressions of Tuscan Sangiovese. Brunellos are big, intense, complex and expensive. The DOCG of Montalcino also has specific standards regarding yield, harvest dates, ageing and quality.

Cannonau – Grenache grown in the gorgeous island of Sardegna, also called Alicante.

Dolcetto – Soft, seductive dry red from Piedmont. “Dolcetto” means ‘Little Sweet One.’ Dolcetto wines have a very full pigment as well as aromas and flavors of cherries, plums, almonds and anise. They have low acidity levels and are delicious young though they may age gracefully for up to ten years.

Grignolino – Table wine, Piedmont. The wines are very fresh with aromas of fresh herbs and light red fruits. Fruity aromas, floral notes and spice are common. Good with high content foods.

Lambrusco – The Lambrusco is distinct for its fizzy red foam and perfumed aromas. Lighter in body, Lambrusco can be a touch sweet and makes for a very refreshing summertime red. Look for lots of light red fruits, and drink it young. Also grown to a lesser extent in Argentina.

Montepulciano – Wines from the Montepulciano are rich with red and black fruits. A vigorous varietal widely grown in central Italy.

Nebbiolo – Nebbiolo grows almost exclusively in the northwestern reaches of the peninsula, most notably Piedmont, where it thrives in the DOCGs Barolo and Barbaresco. Fine Nebbiolo can also be found in Gattinara, Ghemme and Carema under the synonyms of Spanna, Chiavannasca and Picutener. Considered a high end varietal, it pairs well with rich, strong flavored meats and stews, as well as dry, strong, aged cheeses.

Sangiovese – Sangiovese has an affinity for limestone soils, but it can also be found as the base of many an Italian wine such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, Rosso Piceno and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. When blended with international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Sangiovese has created a niche as part of the wines called "Supertuscans."

Vin Santo – see Malvasia & Grechetto

Have a favorite Italian wine you'd like to share? Please let me know!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Me, over the top? Nah...not much.

Waaaaay back in October my friend Heather nominated me for an Over The Top award. I accepted....yet I somehow never actually put it on my blog....so, here you go!

This is one of those meme things, so here’s a little about me…

1. Where is your cell phone? The Dog may have eaten it. He's small but feisty.

2. Your hair? Dark brown with auburn highlights. Once it goes all white, it will lavender.

3. Your mother? Click here: Momster

4. Your father? He got a tribute on Father's day.

5. Your favorite food? Bacon, duck, cacao, and strawberries!

6. Your dream last night? dunno. my dreams are usually wacky tho.

7. Your favorite drink? wine, Champagne or really good whiskey.

8. Your dream/goal? To have my own clothing line. To have a non profit that teaches girls to cook. To be a master tea blender/have a tea shop. To do a food/travel show.

9. What room are you in? ze library

10. Your hobby? Cooking, beading, painting, singing, being crafty – pick one!!

11. Your fear? being like the momster.

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? someplace with more space and a bigger kitchen

13. Where were you last night? at work :)p

14. Something that you aren’t? happy with my job or apt

15. Muffins? I’m more of a scone kind of gal, have you had my scones? Then you’ll know why. (That was Heather's answer. This a gauntlet. Lavender scones or cherry chocoate, lady? Bring it!)

16. Wish list item? Digital camera and a portable digital recorder.

17. Where did you grow up? I’m a California grrl

18. Last thing you did? what the hell does that even mean?!

19. What are you wearing? Black, purple and cream

20. Your TV? Dollhouse

21. Your pets? Monkey!

22. Friends? A few really close, loving BFF’s, I’m so lucky

23. Your life? Rebuilding rapidly

24. Your mood? Oh you know!

25. Missing someone? My nephew Chris, who is headed to Afghanastan

26. Vehicle? Zipcar, baby

27. Something you’re not wearing? my cincher

28. Your favorite store? Sur la Table!

29. Your favorite color? Purple!!

30. When was the last time you laughed? earlier when I saw that kitten playing!

31. Last time you cried? Thanksgiving. I was stressed.

32. Your best friend? currently in transition. But I am very close to my brother.

33. One place that I go to over and over? No longer avail. Sadly, my Rabbit Hole belongs to someone else.

34. One person who emails me regularly? we text alot around here

35. Favorite place to eat? Home. Or one of 10 favorite places.

Thank you, Heather!!

I’m passing this on this award to a few folks with no obligation or expectations or anticipation they will try it. I Just a fun, silly, rainy day thing to do! And I would love to know their answers.

Stephanie, who is incredibly fun

The Duo Dishes, two times the fun!

Jay D, a tried and true gent from Baton Rouge!

Mollena, whose answer will be worth it!