caprese melt

caprese melt, originally uploaded by iamchanelle. styling by The Urban tea Loft’s chef, and shot by me.  🙂

one of several great new lunch menu items from my recent photoshoot at The Urban Tea Loft.
i got to taste this one after the shoot and lemme tell you….

If you are local to the phoenix metro area, please give yourself a treat by trying this place out.  it’s hip, funky and sooooooo delicious.



once upon a lunch

once upon a lunch, originally uploaded by iamchanelle.

Once upon a [lunch]time, in a kingdom far far away from some people, and not so far away from others, there lived a girl who was very, very, incredibly, unbelievably hungry. It was nearing twelve noon and she had not yet eaten a morsel of food that day. Famished and weak, she crawled into her kitchen, only to find not much more than a morsel of bread in her pantry. Looking further, she discovered an onion, and a handful of small sweet peppers. Grabbing a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a pat of butter and three eggs, she set to work. Fueled by the promise of nourishment, she thinly sliced the onions and peppers and caramelized them in butter until deep brown and soft.

In a small bowl, she whisked the eggs with a little cream, salt and pepper and cooked them over medium heat in a small skillet as she would an omelet. The aromas filling her kitchen were almost too delicious to bear, but she knew in mere moments her hunger would be satiated. She spread two slices of bread with the last remnants of butter and toasted them until golden. In the final moments of broiling the bread, she flipped one slice over and placed thin pieces of smoked gouda cheese upon it.
At long last, everything was ready to come together. Removing the bread from the oven, she spooned the caramelized onions and peppers on one slice, slid the omelet over the onions, sprinkled with thyme leaves, and placed the last bread slice on the very top.
She then placed the beautiful sandwich on a pretty white plate, made a salad of mixed greens and dressed it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with just a little sprinkling of fleur de sel.
She then searched her kingdom high and low for the perfect backdrop for which she could stage her lunch for all to behold. Taking a few moments to adjust white balance and ISO levels, she photographed her masterpiece over and over again until she took the perfect shot, though she was nearly dead from hunger.

Once satisfied with the finer art of presenting delicious morsels, she TURNED INTO A TERRIBLE OGRE and DEVOURED THE ENTIRE THING.

And she lived happily ever after.

Dog Days of Summer…..Slaw

The dog days of summer

are here.

One hundred ten degrees today and that is not even a record heat. Phew.

My way to beat the heat is [sit and do nothing] avoid cooking over a hot stove.
Or cooking at all.
I tried coping with this loss by [torturing myself] staring at Matt’s photo of his apricot ice cream. So beautiful I could cry. This took me as far as 11 o’clock. Time for real sustenance. No apricots in sight. And ice cream probably not a good choice for lunch. At least not today.

I will say that chopping a total of three ingredients (yes, K, you read it right, THREE ingredients!) and tossing with a fresh squeeze of lime juice for a simple summer salad isn’t a bad alternative to crying at my computer screen or melting on the sidewalk.

I barely broke a sweat making this crispy, fresh, cool summer “slaw”.

Jicama Slaw
Found in Great Food Fast, by Everyday Food(the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living)

I loosely followed the directions and halved the amounts to make just enough for lunch accommodations, so here is my take.

1/2 medium jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
handful chopped cilantro (rough chop)
juice from two limes
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste (be generous!)

Place all ingredients in a serving dish, toss and serve immediately.
This slaw is best served fresh, before the onions color the jicama red and the lime juice breaks down the “crisp factor”.

Happy weekend, all! Stay cool.
And Matt, if you read this, enjoy your ice cream.

Pan Bagnat

You may have realized by now that most of my food love comes from what I experienced growing up as a child. I have too many “food memories” to count – but I remember them all – sharing simple meals with family and friends, savoring flavours, experiencing new texture (some of them still not my favourite, such as mushrooms – bleeah), inhaling aromas, and enjoying it all mixed together.

Pan Bagnat is one of those memory-evoking foods for me. Pan Bagnat (in Francais: bathed bread) was a meal my parents frequently made for a simple weeknight meal, and I was always in the kitchen ready to slice the vegetables, drizzle the olive oil, wrap the finished product in paper and then “smoosh” the loaf for several hours under a cutting board topped with my dad’s toolbox – really! Ah, the memories!

I never knew until recently, as I was doing some sleuthing on the origins of Pan Bagnat, that it is traditionally made with tuna. As most of my family are vegetarians (or in my case, poultry-a-tarians), we improvised and found our sustinence through our veggie improv.

The recipe we always used can be found in Moosewood Restaraunt Cooks At Home, a wonderful cookbook hosting healthy, natural recipes that are simple to prepare and satisfactory to serve to any dinner guest. I spent much of my ‘cookbook lurking’ time in this book from my mom’s shelf, and just a few days ago, received my very own copy in the mail from…you guessed it, my dad and mom. They could not have found a better birthday gift if they combed the world over! I was thrilled to receive it, and was anxious to crack it open to my favourite and make it for my own family.

For this “portable Salad Nicoise“, here is what you need:

1 baguette or any loaf of good crusty French bread
2 garlic cloves, pressed
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
4 slices smoked provolone or meunster cheese
1/2 english cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 cup chopped black olives (or calamata)

Optional Ingredients:
2 hard boiled eggs, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
parmesan cheese
1 cup artichoke hearts, sliced
pepperoncini peppers
1/2 cup pesto
fresh herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, etc.
arugula or spinach leaves

Slice the bread in half lengthwise and remove just a little of the inside to make a “well” on the bottom half.
On both halves, drizzle olive oil, add salt and pepper and spread garlic.

From this point on, it is completely up to you, the order and type of ingredients you layer here. The variation I made this time went as follows:
Spread a little pesto on the top half and then add 4 slices provolone over that. On the bottom half, layer grated parmesan cheese, spinach and arugula leaves, fresh chopped thyme, cucumbers and red bell peppers, red onions, pepperoncinis, tomatoes and and extra drizzle of olive oil and S&P.

Add the two halves together and wrap tightly first in wax paper and then plastic wrap or foil.

Here comes the fun part: As instructed in the Moosewood Cookbook, “Weight the full length of the Pan Bagnat with a heavy book (or with a baking tray topped with bricks, a 25-pound weight, a toddler, or whatever you can find) for 1 to 3 hours.”

And, “aussitĂ´t dit aussitĂ´t fait” – no sooner said than done!
(how did i do, bea, on my francais?)

We enjoyed this as a picnic dinner in our living room (we even laid out the picnic blanket!) with pickles, homemade baked potato crisps and some amaretto sours.
Another memory made from the kitchen, and well enjoyed.

1015’s, y’all!

My grocery list recently featured something it has never seen before: 1015’s.

Is that some kind of household product, you ask? Some miracle drug? A new brand of jeans?


1015’s are Onions. They are a seasonal crop of huge sweet onions grown in Texas; big, juicy, and, well……..sweet! Thanks to my friend Jamie’s post over at dinewell, I was alerted to the existence and the recent arrival of 1015’s in my local produce store, and rushed out to get them.

And today I got to eat ’em in a southwestern-style lunch, y’all!

Here’s what you do:

Scrub two medium baking potatoes and dice.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet and add potatoes.

Cook for about 5-7 minutes.

Cut a 1015 in half. It is so huge, you may need a hacksaw. Or Paul Bunyan. Slice one half into thin..uh, slices. (Hard to be original when describing how to slice something into slices.)

Add to the potatoes. The ones that are still cooking over medium heat and being stirred occasionally, by the way.

Press one garlic clove into the mix, and half a diced red bell pepper. Add 4 ounces green chiles.

Season with kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper and cayenne, red pepper flakes or even some cajun seasoning.

Continue to cook and stir until potatoes are tender but firm, about 10-15 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, add a handful of chopped fresh cilantro. Meanwhile, turn your broiler to low. Take two flour tortillas and form into a bowl shape. There are a number of ways you could accomplish this: I just nestled both into a loaf pan, and they naturally propped each other up into the shape I desired. You could also make foil molds, use ramekins (large ones!) or whatever else you can find.

Broil over low heat for a few minutes, checking VERY OFTEN, until golden and crisp. Once they are a little crisp, you can turn them over to crisp the bottom, and they will hold their shape.

Serve the ‘1015 potato mix’ in the shells, and garnish with fresh cilantro, bell peppers and a bit of sour cream. (Any suggestions on a better name for this, folks?)

Yee haw!

Warning: eating this dish may induce fits of speaking deep drawl.

Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Wanting WonTons

Sometimes, for no reason whatsoever, I get a food craving. It has nothing to do with a pregnancy, or that time that inevitably comes around each month(for a woman)…or anything, for that matter. It just happens. And when it happens, it happens with a vengeance. I must have whatever it is I am craving, and I must have it now.

When I was about 12 or 13, and I had an insatiable craving for a pickle. Yes, that’s right – a pickle. Dill. (can’t stand sweet or bread and butter – bleah. Must be dill!) And of course, there were NO PICKLES ANYWHERE in our house. My Grandma happened to stop by the next day (I still had the craving…in the morning, even), offered to go to the store for my mom, and let me go with her (bless you, Grandma). We stopped by the deli to purchase some meats and cheeses, and behold, a barrel of monstrous dill pickles sat in all its glory on the deli counter. I did not even had to ask, as my grandma realized my desperation for a pickle when she noticed me caressing the jar and speaking tender words to it…

Just kidding.

She did buy me a Monster Deli Dill Pickle that day, and I savored every bite.

Ahhh, memories. All of mine seem to involve food.

Enough reminiscing…on to my point. I just wanted you to understand the intensity that consumes me when a food craving has set in, so that when I inform you that I had a Chinese food craving the other day, you will roll your eyes, nod your head knowingly, and say, “oh, yes…she had another one of her cravings…”

So, I had a Chinese food craving the other day.

It was a craving that lasted longer that any other I can remember, and it would seem that everyone around me, television characters included, were enjoying Chinese food, and I was left to long, and hope, and drool. So I finally set to work to stop the madness, and this is part of what I came up with:

I also made a schezwan zucchini stir fry with dan dan noodles, but that was not successful, and will need some work before I am not too embarrassed to tell you about it.
Back to the Won Tons:
I had won ton wrappers in my fridge, softened up some cream cheese and added chopped green onions, filled the wrappers, sealed according to instruction on the packaging, and fried up these little babies in some hot, hot oil. Note I said Hot, Hot oil. And note what I did not say – I sealed them rather quickly (the craving had reached a level of desperation that had me working FAST) and remember also the Hot Hot oil.

One by one, I dropped the WonTons into the hot hot oil, and one by one they turned golden and crisp, the cheese filling smooth and hot…and then one, remember the quickly sealed wontons? Yes, one, not sealed so well, popped OPEN and offered its cream cheese filling to the Hot Hot oil, and the ENTIRE kitchen, cook included, was covered in HOT HOT OIL.

But the rest of those little WonTons were sure good. My craving has been held at bay, and after I am done healing my HOT HOT battle wounds, I will set to finishing off my Chinese food craving once and for all.

Or maybe I will just order out next time.

Pear Tartlets with Prosciutto and Gorgonzola

Isn’t this pretty? I love the bright spring green trying to peek through the red pear. My new kitchen towel begged to have a photo shoot with this beauty. I gave in.

Pears and Gorgonzola are not an uncommon pairing, as is Proscuitto and Gorgonzola…so I thought, why not combine them all into one neat package? It was fabulous, let me tell you! No, really, let me tell you:

The End.

Just kidding!

I created these (YES!! I made my OWN RECIPE!!!) to be filling enough for a meal, served over salad greens with a glass of wine, or as a fine little addition to a brunch buffet. The pears provide soft and sweet for the palette, while the crispy proscuitto and gorgonzola add the perfect balance of texture and ‘zing’. I give you:

Pear Tartlets with Prosciutto and Gorgonzola

I started out by making a “Pâte BrisĂ©e” tart crust, thanks to chocolate and zucchini, set it in my fridge for about a half hour (I would, however, make the crust sans sugar next time, as I felt it was too sweet for this pairing. VERY good crust, VERY easy to make, though!) and prepared the other ingredients:

  • 2 red pears
  • 3 ounces proscuitto (about 4-5 strips)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 egg white

Fry the proscuitto in a skillet until crispy; crumble and set aside. Use a drizle of olive oil if necessary to keep from sticking.
Slice the green onion into thin rounds.
Wash and thinly slice the pears into one inch pieces.

Gently mix the pears, proscuitto, cheese, onion and egg white in a bowl. Set aside.

Roll out the tart crust after it has chilled and cut it into rounds. (For these tarts, I used my muffin pan, well greased, and cut the rounds about an inch wider than each muffin cup.) There should be enough dough for 12 muffin-sized cups plus some extra for garnish.
After you have rolled out the tarts and placed them in the baking pan, pierce the bottoms and prebake in a 375 degree (Farenheit) oven for about 5 minutes.

While pre-baking, use the leftover dough to make decorative leaves. Take a paring knife and cut free-form leaf shapes, and score vein marks in each one. Brush each leaf with a little egg white.

Fill each tart crust with a spoonful of the pear mixture, top with a leaf or two, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Gently remove each tart with a spoon and serve over a mixed herb and greens salad (compliments Trader Joe’s) tossed in a little olive oil and red wine vinegar.


Even The {carnivore} Husband really enjoyed these.

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