Saturday, July 30, 2011

panzanella ella ella eh eh eh.

About a month ago, two of my friends and I posted out at my favorite little French coffee shop and café downtown, people watching, answering emails, and turning our laptops to allow for optimum viewing for the entire table whenever we Stumbled upon a fantastically bad tattoo.  I was munching on Nutella toast and drinking a chai latte from a bowl (its how they do it, and it rocks) when one of my company announced that she was going to order the special that day, a summer panzanella.  The other friend looked quizzically up from her iced coffee and asked what that was.  “Bread salad,” answered the first, and the second dropped her spoon/jaw and yelled, “BRILLIANT!” 

Panzanella IS brilliant.  It also defeats the entire purpose of ordering a salad, but so does two large helpings of butter pecan ice cream and I have never had a problem with THAT.

This is the easiest meal you’ll ever make in your life, and it is so fresh.  It feels good to eat it.  It tastes like summer.  You will chew and smile at the same time.

PS:  This recipe makes enough bread salad for everyone you know and 7 people you don’t.  It’s a LOT.  Make it for a potluck block party barbeque fiesta and wow friends and strangers alike.

Summer Panzanella
Recipe from Ina Garten (perhaps not a stellar actor – “I wonder what Robert is picking up from the store? OH LOOK he has text messaged me!” – but the resident queen of all things culinary)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small loaf of French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into cubes a little smaller than 1 inch (Ina says 1 inch cubes for everything, but then you can’t eat multiple things at once because everything is so huge.  I say run the risk of bordering on a dice and cut a leeeetle smaller pieces)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded (cut in half length-wise, run a spoon down the middle to remove gunk) and cut into cubes
2 different color bell peppers, seeded and cut into cubes
½ red onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
20 large basil leaves, chopped (Chiffonade your basil.  My mom taught me how.  Its pretty.  See below.)
3 tablespoons capers, drained

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

Heat the oil in large pan.  Add the bread and salt and cook at medium heat, tossing frequently, until the cubes are evenly browned. 

 Whisk all of the vinaigrette ingredients together. Cake.

To chiffonade basil: lay a few large leaves on top of each other.   Roll the leaves up as one, longways, until you have a basil, um, cigarette.  Slice across the cigarette; the basil will end up in small, curly strips. 

In a large bowl, mix all of the vegetables, the capers, and the basil.  Add the bread and the vinaigrette, toss, and season with salt and pepper.  You won’t need much salt, because the bread and capers do a number on their own.

Serve immediately.

 This stuff does not keep well when fully assembled because the bread gets soggy.  HOWEVER, letting the ingredients meld in their juices and the vinaigrette overnight does really great things.  So.  If you want to keep this for longer than one meal, keep the bread separate and add a handful of cubes to each serving individually right before consumption.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

bows and heels.

Kimchi Blue shirt; bebe silk shorts; Jeffrey Campbell shoes; American Apparel bow.  Can you even read this?  Its so small.  I think I'm going blind.
I'm doing this thing where I'm trying to become an institutional regular at the Starbucks one block south of where I work in the city.  I'm admittedly not doing a very good job because I don't go every day and I don't always order the same thing.  I have it in my mind, however, that some day soon I'm going to push through the double doors and all of the baristas are going to look up at me and say, "Hi Kendra!  The regular for you this morning?" in unison.  Or perhaps song.

Yesterday I made some huge strides in that direction, because one barista told me she liked my shirt, and when she wrote my name on my cup she repeated it like she was committing it to memory.  Here's hoping.

How do these shoes work?  I have no idea.  They continue to baffle onlookers everywhere I go.  Somehow Mr. Campbell has discovered a way to support a person's entire foot by really just supporting their ball and heel.  My sole is just hanging out.  You could poke the bottom of my foot with a stick if you wanted, but I'd rather you didn't.  I do not understand the science behind these beauties, which is why Jeff is the shoe genius and I am just a twenty year old who has sworn allegiance to both him and his products for the rest of my shoe-wearing career.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

mild nights.

MinkPink dress; Jeffrey Campbell wedges; Vintage necklace; Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Rare

Flow-y and short and nipped at the (empire) waist in a great way, MinkPink got the sundress right.  So they made the same one in a zillion prints.  And I see them every time I go shopping, even in the Winter.  Which I capitalize out of respect.

I guess if it ain't broke...?

I saw this ravetastic highlighter nailpolish literally from the street while walking past Sephora on my way home from work and was like, DO I HAVE SEVEN DOLLARS BECAUSE I NEED THAT.  Its way bright.  I love it.  The necklace is my sister's timeturner wannabe that I borrowed because she's at cross country camp this week and couldn't tell me no.  I put it back EXACTLY where I found it and it is in MINT condition.  CAPITAL LETTERS, man.  All the rage.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

she's wondering what clothes to wear.

Yesterday, I had a bad clothes day.

Have you ever had one of those?  They're like bad hair days except worse because you can't cover them up with a hat because you can't pull off a hat to save your life.  You look bad in every single hat.

And every shirt.  And every dress.  And every pair of pants.

Some days, I put on the first few things I see in my closet, and the outfit works.  I give myself a mental high-five like, "Good instincts, self! This is great!" and feel self-important and cool.  Other days, like yesterday, I start getting dressed and end up with all  of my clothes strewn across the floor and a serious desire to become a nudist.

You've seen what I wear.  I'm not a nut job fashionista, I don't wear outlandish things (all of the time), so to pick a shirt and a skirt from my wardrobe that can be worn simultaneously and not offend anyone should not be a difficult task.  I struggled for an amount of time that I will not disclose to you because it is too embarrasing.  ...It was an hour an a half.  And at the end of that grueling 90 minute period I threw up my hands in defeat and said, "FORGET IT.  I'm wearing the shirt."

Soprano shirt
This is the shirt I wear on bad clothes days.  I also wear it on good clothes days.  I also wear it on in-between clothes days.  I wear this shirt OUT.  It is missing a button and I don't care.  I love this shirt.  It is floaty, sweet and doesn't require anything from me.  It can be dressed up or, as was the care yesterday, super casual with jean shorts and flats.  Uninspired but functional.  Basic as basic gets.  Comfortable and easy and a last resort without looking like one.  You probably have a shirt like this.

Last night I attended the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival Finals, and just as you might expect, the San Francisco Opera house was full of 3,200 incredibly dressed individuals.  These were teenage poetry artists from around the world, and they looked SICK.  Awesome haircuts (and colors, one girl was Ramona Flowers in the flesh), kick-ass shoes, traffic-stopping patterns.  I should have felt like a plain Jane in my favorite shirt amidst the creative dressing that was on display in that theatre, but there was no space in the Opera House for self-consciousness because it was all love.  I sobbed and cheered and screamed and leapt to my feet with thousands of people to celebrate the voices of the world's youth, showcased through spoken word and slam.  Afterward, I held my hands to my favorite-shirt-covered heart, grinning, while my mind raced with possibility.

Moral: Sometimes its ok to freak out about what to wear.  Your first day at a new job.  Or for an audition.  Or a date.  But your life could change while you're standing in your underwear, so ultimately? Get all your crap back in your closet and wear the shirt.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

rah-tah-too-ee tart.

I took Spanish, leave me alone.

Most summer nights, I want something for dinner that is light, and fresh, and as easy to make as it is to eat while sitting outside.  This ratatouille tart is all of those things plus cheese.

You can really use any vegetables you like, but the peppers and feta together felt really lovely and Greek, and summer squash makes the whole thing seem like it was invented for this season.  Be really indie and pick the veggies up at your local farmers market.  Then blog about it!  Its really cool to blog.

For the best results, the vegetables should be sliced quite thin, using a mandoline.  My mom has every kitchen gadget there is INCLUDING an immersion blender, but is afraid of things that slice, so the mandoline remains on my incredibly extensive Williams Sonoma wishlist.

Ratatouille Tart
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
serves 8

14 oz puff pastry, defrosted but cold (Leave it on the counter a while, but once it starts getting soft, stick it in the fridge.  You want it malleable but not sticky, yaddidamean?)
1 Japanese eggplant (NOT the massive kind)
1 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/3 cup tomato puree
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
A few sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup crumbled feta

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Working on a lightly floured surface, unfold the sheet of pastry and flatten using a rolling pin until it measures about 11 x 15 inches.  Slide the pastry onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and prick it all the heck over with a fork.

Brush the tomato puree evenly over the pastry.  I did not leave a one inch border as directed and it worked out fine, so choose your own adventure: crust or no crust.

Lop the ends off the eggplant and zucchini, and slice into thin rounds.
If you have a mandoline, I hate you.  Use it.

Trim the ends off the red and yellow peppers, and carefully drag your knife around the inside, removing the seeds and core but leaving the outside intact.  Slice it into thin slices; if you have a mandolin, blah blah blah, your slices are perfect, I don’t wanna hear about it.

Arrange the vegetables over the puree however you think looks pretty.  If you have problems with spacial reasoning (me), dump the peppers on the pastry, spread them out, and then layer the eggplant and zucchini in rows, alternating vegetable.  You might have vegetables left over.  Snack on them while the tart is cooking.

Drizzle the tart with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with de-stemmed thyme leaves.

Bake for 25-30 minute or until pastry is puffed and browned.  Slide onto a cutting board, sprinkle with feta, and let sit a minute while they cheese gets soft and melty.  Cut into squares, or triangles, or strips, or like, hexagons, whatever.

Sit outside. 
Eat eat eat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

work, ready or not.

If I had been the stylist for Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows pt. 2 that was forced to age a handful of characters 19 years using only bad wigs, weird facial hair and stuffy "British parent" clothing, I definitely would have reached for this skirt.

Zara Woman skirt; Pins and Needles shirt; Zara heels
A piece of magic from Zara Woman (usually just full of suit-y things), this skirt is undoubtedly working-mom attire if the working mom is Emma Watson and she's actually only 21.  It has all of the structure of an office outfit with none of the length that such a thing would usually necessitate, and it lends itself just as easily to a fitted blazer as it does a sheer silky top.  The skirt is faux-day-job-ready, just as Draco Malfoy is faux-goatee-ready.

How did anyone ever ok that goatee? So bad. So so bad.

The color is obviously brilliant, facilitating extreme colorblocking while also being reminiscent of the soft but set-shape minimalist styles -- which either come with curves sewn into them or are devoid of the feminine feature entirely.

These shoes were perhaps not the greatest call I've ever made for traversing the steep San Francisco streets on my way to work.  Uphill was golden, but downhill I think I looked like a duck.

a grease-stained rant.

I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry.

I thought I would be able to maintain a blog for longer than a week before I dedicated a post to bacon, but apparently that is not the case.

A load of grease, circa Pioneer Woman.  This is so bad for you.  This is so bad and so good at the same time. 

We have to talk a little bit about Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches.

Before starting college, I consumed BLT's at an astonishing rate.
I ate BLT's on the REGULAR.
I ate BLTS like there was no tomorrow.

I ordered them at restaurants, made them at home, and brought them to school for lunch.  The fact that I did not inflate into an amorphous blob of pork fat probably had something to do with the fact that I was swimming breaststroke for 13 hours every week; now that I do not have 13 hours a week to sleep let alone hit the pool means that college is a pretty BLT-less time for me.  This is ok.  If you have something all of the time it loses its magic.  This is what I tell myself about the Whopper Robin Eggs candy that only comes out around Easter, and also donuts. 

But the August issue of Bon Appetit recently arrived at my home, and with it a discussion centered around the "Best. Sandwich. Ever." (his words, not mine) by new editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport. 

I had previously been mourning the magazine’s loss of ex-EIC Barbara Fairchild, who had manned the helm of the publication for ten delicious years, but THIS.  THIS RIGHT HERE.  This won me over.  I am Team Adam.  Barbara will rule in my heart forever, but if Adam can talk bacon I have no reason to be afraid.

(My family likes Bon Appetit.  I think we have every issue since February 1982.  They lay around my house with post-its sticking out of them at odd angles and 64% of the pages dogeared.  We do not apologize.  We eat WELL.)

Adam's article outlines the ease with which a BLT can transcend ordinary and become almost exotic.  Like a true food snob, he recommends simply opting for shi-shi versions of the sandwich’s standard ingredients: thick-cut, small-batch bacon; slices of multi-colored and bulbous heirloom tomatoes; toasted slices of bread from "proper loaves."  I don't mind the tried and true sandwich cornerstones (and also don't know what a "proper loaf" is) and instead like the idea of playing with spreads: homemade and flavored aioli, hummus, guacamole, pesto, etc.  During high school, I would mash up avocado with ketchup to spread on my sandwich of choice -- feel free to vomit now -- but regular basil-and-pine nut pesto has become my new go-to.  I've matured or something.  Mostly I think that as long as there is some crispy B, a load of L and some slices of T, you pretty much have creative license to do whatever the hell you want with it.  Its a sandwich, people.  No rules.

At my house, however, the sandwich that WE lovingly refer to as the World's Greatest Sandwich is a riff on the BLT brought to our attention not by a major food publication, but instead an Adam Sandler movie.

Spanglish is about a lot of things, but for at least three minutes, it is about what a world famous chef would make for himself as a midnight snack.  It is a BLT with cheese and a fried egg.  It is killer.  Watch the clip and get the recipe and do NOT worry about whether or not your jorts will zip up tomorrow because that does not matter in the face of GREATNESS.  Eat now, long run later.

Moral of the story:  I like to cook healthy food, and that's what you'll see here for the most part.  But bacon has played a role in my past.  And you can't change that sort of thing.

This is so many words.  I apologize.  I will never use this many words again.
At least about meat.

Monday, July 18, 2011

hola from juan valdez.

H&M poncho and tank; American Eagle jeans; Lucky Brand necklace; Lucky Brand and vintage bracelets
As it should be exceedingly clear to you, I am not a model, and I will never ever in my entire life even sort of be a model.  This is true because of a lot of things, namely that my favorite food is cereal, and if left unchecked, I will eat an entire box in one sitting (not a good habit for those wishing to fit into sample sizes), and the fact that the above is my attempt at a serious, non-laughing face.  

This poncho is a wonderful, breezy knit from H&M with button-and-loop closures at the front and under each arm -- perfect for summer evenings when the sun goes down and your tank top will no longer cut it.

There is this rose bush in the backyard of my boyfriend's family's incredible house in California that SLAYS me.  I would like to dress emaciated women up in pale blue lacey frocks and take their picture next to it.

But thats just me I guess.
Ok, time for another bowl of Love Crunch.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

blue jean baby girl

If anyone is aware of an article of clothing that is more effortlessly put-together than a blue button down with its sleeves rolled up, I ask you to please procure that article and mail it to me immediately as I know of no such object.

Zara top; American Eagle shorts; Steve Madden sandals; Vintage bracelet; Furla bag

I went shopping in Union Square last weekend with my mother and found not one but two lovely long-sleeved beauties.  The other is a little more standard-issue editor-chic, but I couldn't wait to don this fantastically detailed and super soft denim number from Zara.

Shoulder epaulettes, gingham and polka-dot lining, off-color pocket and elbow dye jobs that remind me of this supamodel darling... you can't not love it.  Its like a heating and cooling repairman uniform except awesome.

This ferocious individual shares about 50% of my DNA.  She took the pictures in this post, is a badass, and is 16 years old so STAY THE HECK AWAY BOYS OR I WILL COME AT YOU WITH A WEAPON.  Thank you for your understanding.

Also thank you for permitting the inclusion of the following photograph.

Things happen.

This is the bag I've been carrying all summer, which is a nice still-roomy change from my the massive Coach tote I carry to class.  The ribbon/chain strap is a good alternative to a lot of jewelry so I dragged it with me to San Jo for a big family dinner.

Friday, July 15, 2011

ice cream sandwichezz

Last night, at an hour too late to be starting anything but one's face-wash regimen or the latest episode of Covert Affairs (so Auggie is blind, so what.  Boy is cuutee), I decided to make ice cream sandwiches.

I eat dried apricots with a vengeance anyway, so dicing them up in oatmeal cookies and smooshing some vanilla ice cream between them made for a super satisfying and cool summer treat.

A ménage à trois of goodness, if you will.

...I've just really wanted to say that after hearing Katy Perry croon it from my car stereo 493097 times a day.  I don't even like that song, its just been stuck in my brain for an eon.  Is this a hickey or a bruise?

Ok enough. The sandwiches.

Make them.

They are so good.

Apricot Oatmeal and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwiches
adapted from Joy the Baker.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups uncooked oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I'm obsessed with nutmeg.  It tastes like love and happiness, so I tossed a whole teaspoon in there.  Follow your heart on this one, kids)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup apricots, diced
1 pint vanilla bean ice cream (I did some with caramel ice cream too, just to see --- if sweet stuff is your jam I say DO IT)

FOR APRICOTS: Soak 'em in boiling or at least very hot water while you make the rest of the batter; it loosens them up and helps them retain their color during the baking process.  If you don't mind slicing through something a little gooey, soak first and THEN dice: its easier to remove the apricots from the water when they're whole, but getting them into a fine dice after they've become mush isn't easy.  Vice versa means having to strain the pieces from the water when you're ready to use them.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars.  Add the eggs one by one, then the vanilla.   Continue mixing until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients. In increments, add the dry mix to the batter, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the apricots into the batter using a spatula.

Roll the batter into balls a little smaller than a golf ball, and place onto an ungreased baking sheet with ample space around each ball.  Dough gon' spread, yo.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden-brown and sturdy-looking.  Mushy oatmeal cookies are AWESOME, but not for holding ice cream.  Let cookies cool slightly, remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Let ice cream soften A LITTLE (NOT MELT) on the counter before scooping a big ol' scoop onto a cookie. Top with another cookie, press gently to smoosh the ice cream, and place sandwich on a tray directly in the freezer.  Freeze sandwiches overnight or for at least 3 hours before serving or individually packaging in ziplock bags for storage.

Eat them for dessert.  Eat them for an afternoon snack.  Eat them for breakfast like I did this morning.

And do it aaaaaaaaaallllllll again next Friday night.

Monday, July 11, 2011

does anybody really know what time it is

Zara top; Cooperative skirt; Kelsi Dagger boots; Marc by Marc Jacobs watch necklace; charm necklace: Tiffany & Co. and vintage
I am on time as a habit, a trait passed down to me from my father along with my affinity for the San Francisco Giants and bands with killer horn sections (see post title). I am a college student, meaning that if there’s anything I can do better than construct meals from disparate items in my pantry and fridge, it is execute perfectly-timed naps between classes.  I aim to meet busses and trains at the exact minute they are scheduled to arrive, I rarely know how much time is left in any given class period, and while I regularly pretend my forearm belongs to a bohemian person (dressing it elbow-deep in bangles and beads), I always have room for another accessory.  

I should probably wear a watch.  I meet all the prerequisites. 

On the left, however, is the only timepiece I have to my name.  A watchnecklace with M-A-R-C printed around its shrinkrayed apple face in lieu of numbers, its battery ceased to function sometime during the second Bush administration.  I am ok with both of these things because a) watches in any form have never been my thing, too useful, and b) the only way I know how to tell time using the letters of Mr. Jacob's first name is backwards, fifteen minutes before a midterm, which is when I yell CRAM CRAM CRAM!!!!!!!!!!

Not sorry.  Also feeling really good about this terrible chipped nail polish situation thats happening up there.  So there's that.

All qualms about the state of my manicure aside, I broke out the watchnecklace today for a baby pop of color on the top half of this 'fit and I think it did the trick; altogether, I looked decidedly less Flava Flav and more breezy Minnie Mouse, which was just fine for playing with my new camera on Mount Diablo and pretending to be admiring the view instead of posing for pictures every time a biker dive-bombed past us down the slope.