Browse these recipes from my kitchen . . .

Foolproof pizza dough recipe

Honestly, there’s no such thing as “foolproof” pizza dough. As in any sort of baking, the temperature and humidity affect the texture and stickiness of the dough as well as the time to rise. But I’ve made this several hundred times over the past couple of years, so this tried-and-true method is as close as it comes to perfect homemade pizza dough every time.

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Balsamic zucchini “chips” with garlic and almonds

The zucchini harvest has begun! I’m not yet regretting the 5 plants I popped in the ground planning for a summer of squash blossom quesadillas and my dream of edible flower pizza, but the season is young. No doubt in a couple of months I’ll find a monstrous zucchini or two hidden under the scarlet runner beans as in years past and have to do something drastic again.

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Watermelon salad for a summer BBQ

We are not a particularly Handy Family, so I was surprised when LL suggested we spend Memorial Day weekend sanding and revarnishing the kitchen cabinets. They definitely needed to be slathered with love after all these years of heavy use (18 years, really, since we built the kitchen? Wow!) And we had the time – when you live next to the beach, you tend to stay away from it on days the crowds appear. Like Memorial Day. So we enlisted the help of a Handy Friend, dug around in the shed to find the palm and detail sanders left over from a different round of remodeling, stocked up on sandpaper, and away we went.

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Hot weather celery salad

Climate change is the new black. My peppers and tomatoes are happy; the dog is miserable; the boy has the swimming unit in P.E. this month so he is just fine. Hot days deserve cool meals, you know, so here’s a recipe for a celery and jicama salad that promises to take the edge off the heat.

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Ahi Tartare Just Like Michael Mina

One weekend LL and I spent the weekend in San Francisco to see Kiki and Herb at the A.C.T., but the show seemed sad and we were happy so we snuck out and walked down to the St. Francis where we went to sit at the bar at the Compass Rose but it was the new Michael Mina (which is the old Michael Mina now) and we were wowed by his tuna tartare.

It was one of those astonishing dishes, prepared table side – in our case, bar side – with gorgeous pink rich ahi and crisp sweet diced pears and salty pine nuts with the zing of garlic and the heat of jalapeño held together with quail eggs. It was a dish we had to recreate.

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Turmeric and honey tea

Try this soothing turmeric tea next time you’ve got an ache, a cold, or just need a little warming pick-me-up. It works because turmeric doesn’t just give curry that wondrous yellow color. It’s is the wonderkind of Ayerveda, traditional Hindu medicine. Lisa Gallant of the California College of Ayervedic names a few of the many 5,000-year old uses for turmeric, including: use as a cold remedy, to give relief from bruises, sprains, and inflamed joints, to soothe skin from rashes ranging from eczema to chicken pox, even an insect repellent.

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Rosemary and garlic brined pork

For a long time – a looooong time – I never got the whole brining-meat thing. My mom never brined the roasts she served on Sundays, so I never learned to. Her top rounds and rump roasts and roasted slowly in the oven, and presumably, if it was a little dry occasionally, the gravy she made to go with the mashed potatoes compensated nicely. But we live in a different time. Cooking shows have taken the place of soap operas and sitcoms. So after watching enough TV food instruction and inspiration, most recently it was Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, I caved and decided it was worth an experiment with a lean pork loin. And I totally get it now – it was tender and juicy, infused with rosemary, and perfectly seasoned without adding extra salt. Magical! Brining is the way to go!

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Fast, hearty, and delicious chicken, leek, and artichoke penne

Oh. My. Gosh. This improvised dinner that was absolutely, fabulously divine, with a hint of earthiness from the mushrooms, flavor from the leeks, and brightness from the artichoke hearts all coming together to coat the penne with love and delicioiusness. It’s easy to make, with a simple broth of just artichoke water, butter, and olive oil thickened with a bit of flour. Read on!

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Garlic and bread soup

That idea of garlic soup, a strong, aromatic, rejuvenating broth, really appeals to me. Here’s a recipe from my garden and homemade stock made from leftover roasted chicken, but it’s just as good with dried herbs and a nice quality supermarket stock. The garlic flavor mellows out with cooking, and it’s an easy recipe. You don’t have to worry about peeling and mincing the garlic very much. I cut and smashed a whole head of garlic, then strained it after simmering. Try it.

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Curried celery root soup

Here’s a recipe for fabulous warming winter root vegetable soup recipe with celeriac and curry. It’s my delicious and divine interpretation of a soup we tried at Big Sur’s Nepenthe one night. Easily adaptable to a vegetarian diet and completely gluten-free. Enjoy!

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Herb and nasturtium biscuits à la Julia Child

Cooking with flowers – this is one of my 2013 New Year’s resolutions, so I couldn’t resist sneaking nasturtium petals into Julia Child’s herb biscuits this morning. Her classic recipe produces light, flaky biscuits, and the addition lemon pepper and spicy nasturtium petals add extra zing. Lovely at brunch with scrambled egg or at dinner with curried celery root soup. Click through for the recipe.

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Tangerine and watercress salad

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the wonderful recipes in Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken’s Cooking with Too Hot Tamales. That doesn’t mean I’ve not been using it! – that book certainly one I’d take to be stranded on a desert island. (Along with Top Chef CJ Jacobson to cook for me!) This tangerine and watercress salad is one of the reasons why – it’s perfect for these winter satsumas and clementines piled up at the grocers. Read on.

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Cook like a Top Chef

This is for all you Top Chef Seattle fans wanting to duplicate a favorite dish from a challenge AND for the home cooks out there wanting to make something a little special one night – here’s a site for you to bookmark. Bravo TV has a searchable database of Top Chef recipes. Keep reading for the scoop.

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Artichoke soup recipes

I saw a short tweet just now about a creamy crock pot artichoke soup, and when I clicked through found this wonderful, short booklet put together by Ocean Mist Farms, a local grower. Click through for the link –>

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Leftover rotisserie chicken stock

Toss your leftover rotisserie chicken in a pot with a few vegetables, herbs if you desire, and some water. Simmer as long as you can stand it, and you’ll have a perfect, luscious, rich, nutrient-laden stock to use as a base for your soups and sauces.

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Americana on the road: Andersen’s split pea soup

Here’s a classic road trip stop located in Santa Nella, California: Andersen’s Pea Soup Restaurant. If you’re headed to Yosemite or Tahoe, San Francisco or Santa Cruz, or anywhere else in Northern or Southern California and find yourself cruising along the state’s north-central bit of Interstate 5, it’s a great stop to pull over for clean bathrooms and a big bowl of that smooth, flavorful, green soup that tastes of home and will warm you air-conditioned hearts. Gift shop Mad Libs are optional on your way back out to the car.

Then when you feel like recreating the taste of vacation on a cool winter day, whip up a pot of your own. They discontinued selling this in cans several years ago, but they shared their recipe. Make a big batch of your own, enough to freeze the extra to pull out to reheat for a quick supper.

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