i'm back!

there is nothing like coming home from a long vacation away and making that first trip back to the local farmers market.  73 degrees & sunny with the perfect amount of warm breeze, a rainbow of vibrant shades of greens and blues up against the sand, and an endless amount of hard to find wild mushrooms. 
oh, i think i fell in love with LA all over again 

meyer lemons
black trumpet mushrooms
blood oranges

hmm, what shall i make?


bar carts.

i've always wanted to find the perfect antique bar cart to bring to life and clutter with colorful bottles of knappogue and san pellegrino . not only do bar carts bring interesting detail and a special intimacy into small apartments, they eagerly promote the making of a proper cocktail. a full bar and well stocked kitchen are essential for impromptu entertaining  and these are a convenient way to keep everything together in a small space.


happy valentines day.

i hope you are surrounded by beautiful things today



i owe it all to my italian, brooklyn-bred ex-stepfather for officially introducing me as a very young girl to frank sinatra and delicious tiramisu. how cliche is that? but it's true! 
tiramisu is something that i loved as i was growing up in my parents italian restaurant, carefully sneaking spoonfuls straight out of the pan when no one was watching. 
apparently, not much has changed.

good tiramisu is A: always done simple with fresh ingredients - how can you go wrong with chocolate, mascarpone, and espresso ?! um, yum...

B: chilled in the fridge just a little bit longer. the cold intensifies the contrasts in flavors 

& C: soaked with extra espresso. don't even try and argue with me on this ;) 

oh and ps: trying to write a post about tiramisu while absolutely starving is definitely not easy. 


the macaron- an intro.

my love affair with macarons all began when i came across a pastel pink box laying on a desk in the stock room of a boutique i was once working in. the owner had just returned from a buying trip in paris and surprised us all with chocolates and boxes of laduree macarons.  six or seven macarons later, i was hooked, in love, mesmerized, and craving more. i knew right away that i was going to go home to try and replicate what i had just experienced. 

 perfecting the macaron ultimately takes time. and patience. and some key tools. be prepared to run into problems.  in fact,
the first recipe out of a cookbook i had attempted to use as a guideline completely flopped- it left out key points.  it never explained that you needed to let the piped shells rest before putting into the preheated oven  . nor did it even recommend sifting the almond/sugar mixture.  i ditched the recipe and decided to look around on the internet. online i ran into even more problems and debates galore. some recipes insisting on several day aged egg whites, some not, some insisting on only weighing ingredients on a scale (the one kitchen gadget i don't have), some recipes only in french, and so on. i decided to research absolutely everything i possibly could on macarons- books, online, magazines, etc. and consider it all. so, i tested each and every recipe and fine tuned them all until i finally achieved perfect results. 
there are some crucial steps you must take, for instance; you must use two baking sheets stacked w/ parchment paper OR a silpat. either, or.  if you haven't yet bought a silpat and you like to bake, go invest in one. it's cheap and makes a huge difference in everything from clean up, to the way your macarons rise. you must also let the piped batter sit for at least 15 minutes before putting into the oven which promotes a shell to form on top. i also sift my almond flour/sugar mixture 3 times. i start by throwing it all (flour/sugar) into a food processor until it's as fine as it can get, then sift. this will prevent the macarons from looking grainy when done baking. 
there are steps that you must make sure are executed properly, but there aren't many steps. make sure to nail each step along the way, and it will soon become easy.

{ pink - rose buttercream }
{gray- white chocolate ganache}
{ green-  pistachio buttercream }
{ brown- chocolate ganache }
{purple - lavender chocolate ganache}
{ yellow- lemon buttercream }

{ the almond flour/ sugar mixture- ground to a powder and sifted 3x }

{ gel food coloring }

{ egg whites beat until stiff }

{ a perfect macaron must have a flat top and an egg shell-like crust }


joshua tree.

i must admit that i am further behind on my posting than i would like to be as of recently, but for good reason. i was in tennessee for nearly 4 weeks visiting my family over the holidays, which was overall a long but relaxing and much-needed trip. it was there i had decided to ditch the computer and trade it in for baking sessions with my mother, intimate fireside wine conversations with friends that would last way too long into the night, and time spent running after my four year old nephew at my family's restaurant. 

just as the trip seemed to begin, alen and i were already on our way back to los angeles, driving cross country. i waved goodbye to memphis as we drove over the mississippi river and hours later we rang in the new year in some random texas town along the interstate.  the trip made for my best new year experience, and one that i'm sure will be hard to beat. i took thousands of photos along the ride and promise to share at least a few very soon.

besides coming home and a quick trip to santa barbara, i have been busy organizing, unpacking, and adding to my ever expanding kitchen. i am seriously running out of room- room to chop, room to roll out dough for my pastries, room to store my family heirloom plates, room to even think.  it seems as if my kitchen is becoming a cluttered sur la table/farmers market, which is totally fine by me;) 
 we celebrated my 26th birthday jan 20th, with an amazing dinner at the always delicious via veneto in santa monica and wrapped it up with a weekend trip to joshua tree. the trip was full of thought provoking moments, quietness and the deserted-ness that i was craving. we drove with the top down, hands in the air, and wind in our faces.  the land was picture-perfect, the air clean, the lighting stunning, and there was not a soul in sight. i've never seen a sky so big. it was absolutely beautiful. 

i couldn't resist sharing these photos.

&  i hope you forgive me for being away...