Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!!

Today has been such a wonderful year, Michael and I have changed jobs, we have departed on wonderful adventures, friends have gotten married, babies are being born, all very exciting stuff.

I hope that this following year will bring even  more exciting things to everyone.
Stay healthy, be happy, and Happy New Year!

Francesca and Michael

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Ham Pot Pie!

We hope that you are staying warm, have people you love close by, and love in your heart. We have prepared for you a wonderfully simple and delicious shitake mushroom and Christmas ham pot pie. You can make one gigantic one or you can make 5 or 6 small ones!!

Merry Christmas!

*you can make your own pate brisee, we have recipes for that, but don’t feel any shame in using frozen pie dough!

Ingredients: serves 6

2 large carrots
1 turnip
1 yellow onion
1 cup diced red and purple potatoes
5 medium shitake mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
Pre-cooked glazed ham (2 cups worth)
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
¾ cups flour
2 chicken bullion cubes
5 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt plus a pinch
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg
2 packs frozen pie dough


Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees, and dicing all of the vegetables and ham into small pieces, leave pie dough out so it softens.

Place the potatoes and turnips on a sheet tray and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and bake 10 minutes, until partially cooked but not completely raw.

In a medium sauce pan heat 5 cups of chicken stock, then dissolve the bullion cubes in the stock.

In a large sauce pan melt butter. Once butter is melted add onion, garlic, and rosemary. Cook until onion is translucent.

Reduce heat to low, add flour and salt to the butter and whisk constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes. After two minutes add chicken stock, stirring constantly until completely thickened. Add salt, then take the mix off the heat and add in all of your vegetables and ham and fold in.

Spoon mix into the bowl or bowls you will be baking in. Mix the egg in bowl, and brush the outer edge of the baking dish. Place pie dough over the top with at least ½ and inch over the edge, then pinch the dough where it meets the baking dish so that it adheres. Brush the top with of the dough with egg, and using a really sharp knife make four small slits.

Place in oven and bake 45 min to an hour, or at least until the dough is golden brown.

Let them cool at least 10 minutes, otherwise you may sear your tongue!

Enjoy, Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Cookie Bonanza!

Christmas is 4 days away!! Oh my goodness. Everyone has been fighting the flu, but that won’t keep us down, I have been doing some power shopping, some good deal hunting, tons of Christmas crafting, not to mention way too much eating.

Every year the Quintano family has a tree trimming party where everyone gets together and decorates the tree. It started before I was born when my parents would invite all of our friends who did not have family out in LA, so it was a bit of a misfit’s Christmas.

This year for the tree trimming party we made a cookie extravaganza! We made 4 different cookies: Scottish terrier shaped peppermint sugar cookies, Chocolate fudge cookies with currant jelly, luxardo cherry and white chocolate chip shortbread cookies, and orange zest gingerbread cookies.

Each recipe makes about 2 dozen!! Also, it is best to give yourself a few hours, or do it in two days, because dough needs to chill for about 1-2 hours.

*You will need plastic wrap and parchment paper.


Peppermint Cookies:
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
4 candy canes
4 drops red food coloring

Chocolate Fudge Cookies:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
½ cup butter
4 eggs
Pinch salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons rum
Currant jelly
Powdered sugar

White Chocolate Chip and Cherry Shortbread Cookie:
1 cup butter room temperature
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
½ Teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped luxardo cherries

Orange Zest Gingerbread Cookies:
2 cup flour
2 Teaspoon ground ginger
½ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ Teaspoon ground clove
¼ Teaspoon baking soda
¼ Teaspoon salt
½ cup butter room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg
¼ cup orange zest
Cinnamon candy

Peppermint cookies:

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium sized bowl.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add in egg, vanilla extract, food coloring, and then smash up candy canes and add those as well.

Slowly add flour while mixing, or add a little at a time.

Once the dough is mixed pat into a 9 inch wide disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, let the dough sit out of the freezer for 10 minutes. Flour a flat surface and roll the dough out at about a ¼ inch thick. Cut shapes, and lay on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and put in freezer for 10 minutes.

Bake 12 minutes.

Chocolate Fudge Cookie:

In a large bowl mix egg, salt, and both sugars.

Fill a sauce pan half way with water and boil the water. Once the water is boiling, place a heat proof bowl on the sauce pan and melt chocolate and butter.

Pour chocolate and rum into the egg and sugar mix and stir. Add flour and continue to stir.

Chill covered for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a spoon, make balls that are about 1 ½ Tablespoons of chocolate dough. Space about 2 inches apart because they will spread. Bake 12 minutes.

When you pull the cookies out of the oven, using the back of the spoon, make a nice indent in the middle of the cookie, and spoon in a teaspoon of currant jelly. Next using a mesh strainer, sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar.

White Chocolate Chip and Cherry Shortbread Cookie:

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla extract until just combined.

Add flour, salt, white chocolate chips, and cherries.

Shape into two logs, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Take logs out of plastic wrap and using a very sharp serrated knife cut the log into ½ inch slices.

Bake 1 ½ inches apart for about 16-20 minutes, or until a little golden.


In a medium bowl, mix together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl beat together butter and sugar until smooth, then add orange zest, molasses, and egg.

Slowly add flour a little bit at a time and mix together.

Pat dough into 9 inch disk and wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface, and then place in freezer and freeze for 20 minutes.

Cut shapes, place on parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Once they cool, decorate with a drop of icing and a cinnamon candy.

Enjoy all of these cookies just as much as we did!!!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peppermint Craisin Chocolate Bark

Christmas is 12 days away so technically the song the 12 days of Christmas could start being played now. For the 1st day of Christmas we have made for you a super simple chocolate bark with dried cranberries and peppermint. This bark has a magnificent texture of chewiness and crunch, not to mention the wonderful flavors. Gift this to someone or eat all to yourself!

*You can use candy canes or you will frequently see little peppermint pieces that are little red and green pieces, those are the ones we used.

Ingredients: makes 24 pieces

8 oz semisweet chocolate
8 oz milk chocolate
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped up peppermint


Start by chopping up your dried cranberries and peppermint and set aside.

On a baking sheet put a large piece of parchment paper.

To melt the chocolate fill a sauce pan with water and get a bowl that you can put over the sauce pan completely without getting it in the water. Boil the water and put the bowl over it, put the chocolate in and using a spatula stir while the chocolate melts. Melt all the way until it is completely smooth.

Pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper, and using the spatula even out into a rectangle about 9x11 inches. Immediately top with cranberries and peppermint.

Place in the refrigerator and cool for an hour, then break into 24 pieces.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Pear Jam and Butter Scone

Today is my love Michael’s birthday. It doesn’t feel like the holidays until we have celebrated his birthday. So this is a post by me (Francesca) for my true love, Michael, to kick off winter holidays and to give him a delicious breakfast the morning of his birthday.

I have prepared simple butter scones with cinnamon pear jam. What is great about this jam is that it perfectly invokes the holidays, and is a great gift to give people.  Make the jam in advance, have it around, and scones make on a whim. They are amazing!

Ingredients:  serves 8
Butter Scones:

1 ¾ cups flour
4 Tablespoons sugar 
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder 
½ Teaspoon salt 
1 stick unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten with 
¼ cup milk


4 Bosc Pears
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Start by making the jam. Peel and dice the pears and place in large sauce pan. Using a masher, mash up the pear bits until it is almost like a puree. Turn the heat until medium high, and stir while bringing to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Add sugar, stir until dissolved, and reduce heat to low so that you can simmer. Add cinnamon, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

In order to properly jar, follow the canning procedures we have used in earlier jamming posts.

To make the scones, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Dice the butter into small pieces, and chill.

Mix together all of your dry ingredients, but 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Next mix in the butter, coating all the pieces with the flour mix. Using two forks, break the butter up into the flour mix until they are in small pieces, but not until it is completely mixed. You leave some bigger pieces, because in the oven it creates great moisture and flakiness.

In a small bowl mix together eggs and milk. Pout the wet mix into the dry mix, stirring together until just mixed together.

Grease a baking sheet, and place the dough (it will be very wet) on to the middle of the tray and make into a 10” wide disk. Use the last Tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle on dough.

Carefully cut the dough into 8 pieces, leaving them in place. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Recut the pieces and separate ½ and inch away from each other and place back in oven to bake until golden brown, about 5 more minutes.

Let cool slightly and eat!!

I love you Michael!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter is Coming!!! 2013/2014!!

Winter is almost upon us! Though it technically does not start until the 21st...who cares about that! It starts the beginning of December when we want it to!

It is my best friend Casey's birthday, Michael's bday, our friend Rory's bday, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years...oh my!!!!

We will be making tasty treats, rich decadent dishes, small plates, everything your little heart desires!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

T-day Side: Brussel Sprout Extravaganza!!

It is officially that time of year again, when eating starts to get seriously heavy, we increase our cardio 300%, and we take serious naps. Thanksgiving tips off when the holiday eating gets a little out of control. When I think of holiday food I think of satisfying several cravings, 1)salt, 2)something hearty, 3) something rich, and 4)definitely some sort of carb is involved. Michael and I have come up with a simple Thanksgiving day side which hits on all of these notes.

Our side is roasted brussel sprouts, tossed with long grain rice, and then topped with crisped pancetta. For vegetarians, just remove the pancetta, then voila, welcome to tasty town.

Ingredients: serves 8
1 ½ lbs brusssel sprouts
2/3 cup diced pancetta
½ cup long grain rice
¼ cup olive oil
½ a lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Start by cleaning and slicing the sprouts. In a colander rinse the sprouts with water, pulling off any outer leaves that look browned of to have holes. Cut the bottom of the sprout of and then cut in half lengthwise. Place in large bowl, and pour in most but about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and mix, sprinkling with salt three separate times. Lay the brussel sprouts out onto two baking sheets and place in oven for 40 minutes.

Be sure that 20 minutes in to flip some of the brussel sprouts around and turn the actual trays around in the oven.

To make the long grain rice, follow the direction of water to rice that they give you (not all rice is the same). Set aside.

While those are cooking in a large sauce pan place all of your pancetta and render it down until it is nice and crispy. If you cannot find already diced pancetta, render the whole pancetta down and dice once crispy. Once crispy, layout on a plate covered with a paper towel. Set aside.

Once the sprouts are done, place all the ingredients in a bowl, pour the rest of the oil in, and squeeze the lemon. Mix and serve!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Vegetable Latke with Persimmon Butter

Happy Hanukkah!! It is amazing because Hanukkah and Thanksgiving happen at the same time, which is awesome! We have created for you a spin on a traditional Latke, which actually will go fantastically with turkey! We have for you a latke made with potato, parsnip, carrot, and yellow zucchini, not to forget our very own persimmon butter on the side.

How do you celebrate Hanukkah if you do? Or better Hanukkah and Thanksgiving together?

*You will need a cheese grater with large holes.

Ingredients: makes 10

1 russet potato
2 large carrots
2 medium sized parsnips
2 small yellow zucchini
1 large egg
3 pinches of salt
¼ cup canola oil

Persimmon Butter:
4 ripe persimmons
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon

If you want to make sure they stay warm then preheat the oven to 200 degrees so you can put the latkes in when you make them, if you don’t mind them being room temperature, then skip this.

Start by making the persimmon butter. Chop up the persimmons and blend in blender until they are pretty smooth. In a small sauce pan, heat the puree, when it starts to bubble, add the sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Stir cooking for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit.

The latke making is so easy it’s amazing. Peel all your vegetable except the yellow zucchini. Into a large bowl, using the larger holes on the cheese grater, grate all you vegetables, including the zucchini with the skin. Fill the bowl with water, the pour the water out keeping the vegetables, fill it one more time, and let sit for 10 minutes. This gets all the extra starch out.

Strain the vegetables into a colander. Lay out some paper towels, and lay the vegetables on top. Roll the paper towels together, removing any excess moisture. Put everything back in bowl.

Crack the egg into the bowl and start to mix. Put one pinch of salt, mix, next pinch, etc.

In a wide skillet heat your oil to medium high. When the oil is hot enough, using a spoon, spoon a heaping spoonful of the vegetables onto the skillet. Do two at a time.

While those are cooking, lay a tray out with paper towels, so you can place the latke on and let the oil drain off.

Let one side cook for about 5 minutes until nice and golden brown, the flip and do the same.

If you put in the oven, be sure to not put it in with paper towel.

Serve with persimmon butter! Enjoy!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Olive Cracker with Spicy Pimento Cheese

Michael and I have been plugging away at working in the kitchen, painting, entertaining, all the fun stuff that happens around the holiday time. We have made for you a delicious cracker that stays good up to a week, so when you have some last minute company popping by you can put these on a plate and not worry!

We have made for you an olive cracker with a spicy pimento cheese in the middle. To create the shape in the middle, I found a cookie cutter that had a little owl cutout. You can cut a circle for the bottom, and then for the top use the same circle and then cut your shape out. You can find mini cookie cutters at any baking shop, and if you can’t find a cutout, who cares! You don’t need it; it is the taste that matters anyway!

*There will be some pimento cheese leftover, but don’t worry! You can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks!

Ingredients: Makes 2 dozen

2 cup all-purpose flour, more as needed
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. parmigiano reggiano cheese, finely grated
2 tbsp. black olives, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cream, more if needed

Pimento Cheese:
1/2 pound grated Cheddar
1/2 pound grated Pepper Jack (habanero if you can find it)
1 (4-ounce) can diced pimentos
1/3 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/3 teaspoons granulated onion
2 Pinches cayenne
1/2 cup light mayonnaise

Start by making the cheese by mixing together all the ingredients and blending in a food processor. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Put flour, salt, cheese, olives, garlic and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until flour and olive oil create little crumbs that look like sand.

Add about 1/4 cup cream and let machine run for a bit. If it is too dry, and a tablespoon of cream, if it seems really wet, don’t worry.

Roll out dough on a flat surface covered in flour (this will help if the mix is oily) until 1/4-inch thick or even thinner, adding flour as needed.

Cut out 24 circle for the bottom, and 24 with the shape cutout for the top.

Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. If you bubbles form in your crackers, right when you take them out of the oven, press down with a towel for a few seconds. They are more likely to dry flat.

Let cool completely.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Flu Season Mushroom Soup

Flu season is happening as we speak, and it is a serious pain in the buns. I have been trying to get rid of a cough for about two weeks now, and it is not awesome. Michael is super lucky in totally letting my sickness fly over him. In honor of flu season we have made a very simple and healthy mushroom soup, because what else are you going to eat when you feel like snot!!?
Ingredients: serves 6

1 pound button mushrooms
1 pound Portobello mushrooms
1 large shallot
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons chives
Small loaf of French bread
32 Oz. vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 275.

Clean all of the mushrooms, making sure that you get rid of all of the dirt. In a food processor, roughly chop all of your mushrooms and set aside.

Chop up the large shallot. In a large sauce pan (that can fit all of your soup) melt your butter, then add shallot and lightly sauté, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushroom and reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring every so often. Cook about 15 minutes, or until most all of the liquid has disappeared.

Now dice the bread into ½ inch cubes, and place in oven to toast. Let toast about 7 minutes, or until crunchy.

Add the cream, salt, nutmeg, ground pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir. Cook 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to let simmer for 20 minutes.

To serve, pour in bowls, add a few croutons, chop up chives and add to top.

Good luck with your cold/flu!!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Dinner Party

Last Friday we had an Edgar Allan Poe dinner party with a few close friends and family, and it was a blast! Because my birthday is October 21st, birthday things tend to have a bit of a macabre twist to it. Edgar Allan Poe was a great writer and poet who is one of the pioneers of the detective novel and is loved by science fiction enthusiasts as well. His writing invokes a dark cloudy dream which could turn to a nightmare or wake you up to solve a murder.
With that being the theme we had to make food to fit the part!
We served:
The Devil’s Eggs
Crisp Tip Tarts
Baked Brie aka Gobbly Gook
Carrot Curry Soup
Black Rice aka squid ink paella
Carne Asada
Roasted Fall Vegetables
And more delicious little sides!
My three favorite things that we photographed for you and have the recipe for are a dessert we call Pink Fluff, and two appetizers; Crisp Tip Tarts, The Devil’s Eggs!
Enjoy and make these easy and quick treats for your Halloween Dinner!
Ingredients: makes 12 serves 6 if everyone eats 2

*get a sandwich bag if you want to pipe the filling nicely!

**Spanish paprika and normal paprika are a bit different, Spanish paprika is really smoky and has great deep flavor.

***A few of the ingredients were bought at Surfas in Culver City, for example the premade stuff, and the amazing strawberry fizz chocolate candy we bought! Either go there or go online to www.culinarydistrict.com. This place is amazing and great for any lover of cooking.

6 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Siracha
Pinch of salt
Spanish smoked paprika for taste
Red food coloring

To make the perfect hard boiled egg for this, fill a pot with water to cover the eggs 1-2 inches, and then pour in the 1 tablespoon of vinegar (this keeps the whites from running if the eggs crack). Place all the eggs in and turn the heat on high. When the water starts boiling, let it boil one minute, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 12 minutes.

To get the beautiful marbling effect on the eggs, once the eggs cool a bit, crack them all around by rolling them on a hard surface. Don’t be afraid to get them in deep, because you want that color to seep in. Next fill a large bowl with water and about 10 drops of food coloring, and let the cracked eggs sit for about 1 hour if you really want some good coloring. (Our eggs are a little pink because I added some drops of blue!)

Peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise, placing the yolks in a medium size bowl. Combine the rest of all the ingredients, and mash together until smooth. You can add more Siracha if you want more of a kick.

Put filling in a sandwich bag and cut the tip off, using this to pip the filling into the half egg. Sprinkle the paprika for decoration and for taste.

Ingredients: Makes 12

12 prebaked savory tart shells
4 eggs
¼ cup goat cheese
2 teaspoons thyme
12 pieces of asparagus
1 teaspoon salt plus a pinch
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ lemon

Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees and heating a skillet.

Chop the tips off of the asparagus. Heat oil in your skillet, and place asparagus tips in. Squeeze half the lemon on and add a tiny pinch of salt. Let cook until the tips start to brown a bit and crisp up, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and put on a paper towel to absorb oil.

In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, goat cheese, thyme, and salt. Mix together until the goat cheese is evenly dispersed in small pieces.

Spoon mix into shells, top with tips, and bake for 10 minutes. Make sure the egg is cooked all the way.

Ingredients: makes 12

12 chocolate cups
Box of candy strawberry fizz
4 cups frozen strawberries
½ cup sugar
1 oz vanilla pudding mix
8 oz cool whip

This recipe is super easy and looks amazing. To make strawberry mousse, puree strawberries and sugar until completely smooth. Add pudding mix and keep mixing. Remove from mixer and fold in cool whip. Cover in bowl and let set for 15 minutes.

Spoon mousse in chocolate cup and top with the candy fizz! The mix of smooth mousse, biting chocolate, and a pop of the candy fizz is spooktacular!

Happy Halloween!