brie toasts with figs and rosemary honey

More figs! I knew this appetizer would elicit some excitement, but I didn't expect five bees to fly straight into my kitchen as I simmered the honey on the stove. They entered through the laundry room where a window was cracked open. After gently nudging them back outside (I had rushed to close the kitchen door and hid out in the living room), Andrew went outside to see if he could find a hive. Nothing visible, at least, but they certainly were tempted by the sweet nectar that I was warming up.

the saturday post | fig cake for fall

I realized it had been too long since I baked anything and was itching to pull a warm cake out of the oven. My only obstacle was trying to determine just what exactly it was I needed to make. There are always so many choices when it comes to things like this and unfortunately, I want to bake something just wasn't specific enough. But then I saw figs, put them in my cart and strolled home.

The figs still didn't have a purpose just yet, but I had a feeling that once I opened Dorie Greenspan's Baking, their destiny would be sealed. I searched the index, flipped to page 192 and a gorgeous fig and cornmeal cake appeared. This really was the perfect cake to welcome fall. It was also one of the last things I made before our lives changed for the better when we brought home our new puppy, Emma, on September 23rd, which just so happened to be the first day of this new season.

salmon sandwiches with basil mayo

My go-to meal in college was canned tuna with a light dollop of mayo and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. I ate this on saltine crackers or toasted bread, and it still remains a very simple way to eat lunch if I just can't muster the energy for anything else.

Canned fish has always been a mystery, though. Where is it sourced? Which brand is best? Do sardines from Morocco really taste better than sardines from Mexico? And speaking of sardines, since I haven't had any luck convincing Andrew they're delicious, I thought I'd try something new: canned salmon.

roasted carrot puree with basil crumbs

Ever since I returned from Nepal I've been desperately craving fall comfort food. It was still hovering around 80 degrees in Los Angeles at the end of August but that didn't stop me from daydreaming about braises, stews and mac and cheese. That cozy time of year is approaching and my body just wanted to let me know where it stood.

The first chance I got, I roasted vegetables. It happened last year around this time that I made the first soup of the season, ushering in the cooler weather, holidays that will be here before we know it and warm, soul-soothing dishes. I was actually alone in my kitchen, smiling a little just at the thought of it. Also, the carrots and onions smelled intoxicatingly good after spending just a few minutes in the oven. What can I say, I love fall.

farro salad for late summer

Picnics might be one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. There's something so relaxing about being outside, sitting on the beach or under a tree, nibbling on cheese, crackers, and a fresh salad like this. It's almost criminal not to take it somewhere. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it at your dinner table, but it's really well suited for travel.

the saturday post | roasted peaches with pecan crumble

Let's take a moment to marvel at the wonders of Twitter. In about five minutes on any given day I can get restaurant recommendations, sight seeing options for the town I'm driving through, or in this case, recipe ideas from friends in the vast Twitter universe. This is the world we live in.

A couple of weeks ago I found out my in-laws would be driving through LA and planned to stop by after dinner. When visitors come, it's nice to serve them a little something sweet, don't you think? But I had some dietary restrictions to consider, namely, how to devise a delicious, no-sugar dessert.

the saturday post | ina's apple tart

Bastille Day 2011 happened to fall on the same day as my office book club, so I couldn't let the French holiday pass without baking something appropriate to celebrate. But the night I baked this, I wasn't in blog mode. My camera was in another room and the sun was setting, but when I pulled the sheet pan out of the oven I had to change course. It was too beautiful not to tell you about.

cherry tomato cobbler

August, the glorious month when tomatoes are abundant and their most flavorful. There really is nothing better than a ripe tomato, heirloom if you can find it, and leave it to the editors at Martha Stewart to print a recipe that epitomises savory summer cooking.

When I peruse the food magazines I subscribe to, many of the pages are turned without a lot of fanfare. I might make a mental note that a recipe looks good, or consider adding it to the menu for an upcoming week, but every so often a recipe stops me right there and I just need to make it. This was one of those recipes.

smoked salmon and avocado tartine

I love bread. And I especially love it when it's crisp and toasted with olive oil. It's perfect warm, dipped in a pool of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and equally perfect smothered with fresh tomatoes and basil. Now, for all the goodness there is in bread, I sometimes have a problem with sandwiches, as in, there's just too much bread on my sandwich. It doesn't necessarily matter if it's the best bread you've ever had. If the ratio of bread to fillings is wrong, the sandwich experience is diluted, the way iced tea loses its flavor after the ice cubes melt in your glass.

the saturday post | raspberry rosé sorbet

Two of the most refreshing elements of summer are fresh fruit and rosé wine. Swirl them together, freeze, and you have an irresistible, adult version of sorbet. With the temperatures rising, Andrew was subtly hinting that we need some more ice cream in the freezer. One Saturday I handed him The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and told him to pick out whatever he wanted. And while I started regretting this approach when the first options out of his mouth involved peanut butter (I love peanut butter, but I was in the mood for something lighter), we settled on this raspberry rosé sorbet, a perfect companion to the burgers we grilled for the Fourth of July.

peach + thyme sorbet + dairy & gluten free shortbread cookies

Food allergies are so common nowadays I'm willing to bet most of you have a member of your immediate family or know of someone in your circle of friends affected by an intolerance or dietary preference that needs to be accommodated. My brother is one such person, though it's a bit complicated. He has gluten and dairy intolerances, among other concerns, such as not being able to eat almonds or beans. There's a running list I have trouble keeping track of. When my family got together in the mountains for a weekend, I took charge of Saturday night's dinner. I knew there would be stone fruit sorbet for dessert, but I wanted to make a shortbread cookie to go with it.

grass fed burgers with pinot barbecue sauce

Something has happened to me this year that I never would have expected. I like burgers now. But I didn't start out this way, so if I really want to understand why, I suppose it started with Andrew. We all have our comfort foods and burgers are his, without a doubt. Over the years we've made our way to many restaurants in a quest to find the best burger, and when we finally found it, my brain switched.

the market | fig flatbread

We've talked before about how I'm very much a planner when it comes to my weekly meals. If I didn't take this approach, I'd be left standing in front of the refrigerator most nights after work trying to throw something acceptable together for dinner.

I find that shopping with purpose, list in hand, almost always saves me time and money and it's a routine I've been in now for at least the last five years. With my work schedule, I don't have a lot of time to wander aimlessly through the farmers market without the slightest notion as to what my dinner plans are for the next few days. So when I embraced this shopping method last weekend, I felt unnerved in a really good way.

hello, summer

Think of summer cooking like wearing a tinted moisturizer instead of foundation. You just need less of everything from June to September. No need to slather things with sauce or turn on the oven for extended periods of time. It's one of the great benefits of summer produce that everything shines through on its own.

When one of Andrew's colleagues went fishing with her dad and brought back a fresh catch, I jumped at the chance to attend the fish taco party she was hosting. I wanted to bring something light and after wandering through the Thursday farmers market near my office, this salad was the result.

white bean and sage patties with roasted tomatoes

I think we're close enough now that I don't need to elaborate (too much) on my love for sage. Although I tend to think of it as an herb best suited for cooler weather, I'm happy to report it fares well in springtime, too. Whole Living has done a lot of wonderful food features the last few months including stories on Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks and Kim Boyce, author of Good to the Grain, so I was not at all surprised to open the June issue to find a spread of fresh recipes for a farm-inspired brunch.

smoky black bean risotto

I have a new addition to my kitchen: a shiny copper risotto pan. Andrew surprised me with it for my birthday last month, and as much as I wanted to pretend I didn't really need it, I sure did want it. This risotto pan was designed with high sides and and a curved shape that makes getting air into the rice an easier task than with a traditional sauté pan.

Air is one of the secrets, you know. Vigorously incorporating air into the rice throughout the cooking process helps enhance the creamy texture, ensuring that the rice is clinging to the sauce and suspended on the plate. Risotto done right is a special thing.

eggs with brown rice and soy dressing

My pantry needs a makeover. When we moved in well over a year ago I tried to organize the shelves with intention. I bought bins and drawer organizers, and for a while at least, I seemed to be in control. But in the spirit of spring cleaning (I've already donated lots of clothes to charity), I need to take a long, hard look at my spices, bags of rice, and stash of various vinegars. In short, I need an intervention.

the saturday post | strawberry banana muffins

I'm one of those guest room people. I love having a space for friends and family to stay that's a separate oasis for them to relax while they're away from home. And when they do stay, I always like to make a little something special for breakfast.

For all the discussions we've had about my not devoting a lot of time to breakfast, I've sure given you a different impression lately. Scones, honeyed quinoa with yogurt, and now, muffins. I was planning to make my lemon scones, but the evening before our guests were coming Joy the Baker posted strawberry banana bread that I just couldn't resist.