23 May 2011

An LA Story?

Last month Nate and I took a whirlwind four-day trip to Los Angeles. He was attending a writing conference with Robert McKee (author of Storythe screenwriter's bible). I tagged along to see friends and family.

Everyone warned me about how horrible LA is - the traffic! the prices! the people!

But, you know what? All of that proved to be untrue.

I drove south to Oceanside one day to visit my stepsister - made it there and back in under 2 hours each way.

Prices didn't seem so bad; in fact, many of our meals cost LESS than in Seattle.

And everyone we met was so darn friendly.

Maybe these misconceptions represent the LA of old? Or perhaps they're rumors Los Angelenos spread to keep people from moving to their city (much like we always tell people Seattle is grey and rainy 10 months of the year. Oh....wait. That one is true).

In any case, it was a lovely trip. I wish I'd taken my camera out of my (new Coach!) bag more. Here's what we have:

In LA, the streets are lined with palms not pines.

Beautiful grate/window at Griffith Observatory.

You know the phrase "amazeballs"? That is these garlic knots. More to come in a future post!

11 May 2011

I love it when a plan comes together: Three-tomato sauce

Sometimes, things just come together.

I’ve taken what feels like a nearly 9-month long hiatus from cooking. No, not because I was pregnant – but because I’ve been in school. I went back in fall to get a marketing management certificate through UW. Only one course per week, but it’s left me with little brainspace to do much else.

My cooking skills have definitely suffered. We’ve eaten a lot of (gasp) frozen meals. And I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tried to cook of late, only to get distracted halfway through and flub up a meal.

There are just 12 days left of class (yes, I’m counting). This past weekend, on the eve of my rough-draft presentation for this quarter’s practicum, I felt a lift. I was inspired – actually excited – to get into the kitchen.

I had a general idea of what I wanted to make. We’d picked up some frozen tuna steaks from Trader Joe’s, and I wanted to pair them with a spicy, robust puttanesca-type sauce – based on the one from my favorite vegetarian cookbook. We also had some grape tomatoes on the counter that needed to be used and a new pouch of sundried tomatoes calling to me.

And so, three-tomato sauce was born: A sweet, spicy, chunky sauce bursting with three types of tomatoes + tangy olives and capers. I love the way the grape tomatoes and kalamata olives looked in the saucepan – echoes of each other, one bright red and one dark purple. I wish I had a photo to show you, but I just ate the last bite.

I’m looking forward to what awaits – more free time on the horizon, so close I can almost taste all the deliciousness in my future.

Three-tomato sauce (inspired by puttanesca)

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 small jar tomato paste
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes
  • ½ c. sundried tomatoes (I left them whole, but next time will cut in half)
  • Approx 20 kalamata olives + some of their brine
  • 2 T. large capers + some of their brine
Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add red pepper to taste. Stir in tomato paste, grape tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, kalamatas/brine, and capers/brine. Simmer to let flavors meld, approximately 20 minutes. (Note that at simmer stage, I transferred the sauce from the sauté pan to a covered pot – I needed the pan for my tuna steaks. You could cook it in the sauté pan, though – just cover it to help seal in spatters.)

Can be served as a protein topper (over tuna or chicken) or as a pasta sauce. I bet this would even be good heaped, cold, onto bruschetta.