Monday, May 31, 2010

Spinach pancakes recipe

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I have a foolproof method for getting even the fussiest kids to eat vegetables.

It's called frying.

Now don't go calling Child Protective Services on me, people. Of course I would prefer to be able to hand my picky eater plain steamed asparagus, or raw broccoli, or beets, and watch him gobble it up. Don't think I haven't tried.

With some vegetables, raw and crunchy works. He loves celery, and he'll tolerate carrots and cucumbers. But spinach - not so much. And we all know how important those dark leafy greens are.

So sue me: I took the easy way out and fried the stuff up. In olive oil. With cheese and salt. And you know what? He loved it. And I got some vitamins and fiber into him. Which made me feel slightly better about the four brownies he ate at the party we went to later that day. 

Note: The ratio of vegetables to other stuff in these pancakes is pretty high. The same method works well with zucchini or leftover cooked broccoli.

Spinach pancakes
  • 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Grana Padano or Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried dill (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick (or other unsweetened baking mix)
  • Olive oil, for frying
Squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach. Put the spinach in a large mixing bowl with the eggs, feta, Parmesan, parsley, green onions, dill, salt, and pepper; mix until well combined. Add the Bisquick and mix until you don't see any more flour.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 Tbsp olive oil to the pan and dollop in the batter, using a heaping tablespoon for each pancake. Cook until golden brown on the first side, then flip. When both sides are golden and crispy, set the finished pancakes on a rack over a baking sheet. I don't like putting fried things on paper towels because I find they get soggy, but if that doesn't bother you, feel free to drain on paper towels instead.

Serve when the pancakes are cool enough to handle - they're definitely finger food in our house.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

10 restaurant supply items every home cook should buy

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Erika says: I hope you enjoy this guest post from Kelly Noble. Kelly is the Social Media Geek (yes, that's an official title) for, a foodservice equipment and supply provider that also specializes in industry education. I asked Kelly to write about some of the professional equipment home cooks might want to look for in restaurant supply stores or on restaurant supply sites like Gourmet cookware stores sell versions of these things, but the ones meant for foodservice are usually cheaper and often more durable. All of the items listed below are available on

About the guest blogger: Kelly Noble has been an avid wine drinker and home cook for over eight years and writes the Wine & Dine blog, which focuses on her recipes, food trends and favorite wines. For more, see Kelly's bio. I was lucky enough to write a guest post for Kelly's blog last month about my famous strawberry crepes; thanks for returning the favor, Kelly!

If you are a serious home cook or would like to start cooking more at home, you may want to consider some of these items to add to your kitchen. Although they may be more popular in commercial kitchens, these items are a home cook's dream for helping make cooking easier as well as developing fun and interesting creations!

Baking mats
The worst part about using cookie sheets is cleaning them after each batch. With nonstick baking mats, cookies and homemade candies will never again stick to the sheet pan, and the material prevents scorching for a more even bake. Silicone baking mats are the ideal baking surface for a variety of baked goods, although you may also try parchment paper, which is a disposable non-stick alternative to reusable silicone mats. Any home cook who bakes should consider this item for her baking gadget collection.
Rondeau pan
Made from cast iron, these rondeau pans are perfect for slow braising and simmering meats and sauces due to their ability to retain and distribute heat evenly. This item is suitable with all types of heat sources, including induction, stovetop, and conventional ovens. This particular rondeau pan is also used for paellas and stews and comes in several different colors including blue, green and red so you can match your pan to your style.

Meat tenderizers
Tenderness is a key component to tasty meat. When a cut of beef, lamb or chicken does not meet your standards, you can use a meat tenderizer to soften things up a bit. Two of the main factors affecting meat tenderness are age and cut. The key to tenderizing meat is to break down the connective fibers and tissues to make the meat soft. Of course, a meat tenderizer is a great way to do this. I personally use my meat tenderizer all the time when making Italian dishes and rolled meat dishes. Check out A Love Affair with Pork: Pork Milanese for a recipe in which I use my tenderizer.
Digital meat thermometers
Food safety is important, even for a home cook, so you should probably invest in a meat thermometer. When using a meat thermometer, it is important that you place the needle into the center of the thickest part. The tip of the needle is the only part that actually “reads” the temperature, so the amount of needle inserted is not important. Make sure that the needle does not go all the way through and contact the cooking surface or that it is not touching bone; this will give a false reading. You can also use meat thermometers to check the temperature of soups, stews or other hot foods in a warmer.
Santoku knives
A good knife is a necessity in any kitchen, and in my kitchen the santoku is my knife of choice. Santoku knives are the Japanese version of a chef's knife. They are used much like a Western chef's knife, mainly for chopping, dicing, mincing and an assortment of other cutting tasks. They are the all-purpose Japanese knife – they can be used to cut just about anything, as long as it is not used on bone, which can chip the knife’s edge.

When choosing your santoku knife, first consider the steel shaping method. If you are looking for the highest quality of knife available, go with a forged model. On the other hand, if you only plan on using your knife occasionally or are looking for an economical option, a stamped santoku “bocho” (Japanese for knife) will do just fine. Go with carbon steel for durability, or high carbon stainless steel for a knife that is strong but also highly unlikely to rust.

Kitchen torches
I recently purchased a kitchen torch for my very own and I can honestly say it is one of the coolest gadgets in my kitchen! These useful utensils are, of course, instrumental in making my favorite dessert, crème brulee, but they can also be used to glaze tarts and brown a meringue. You can even use it to melt cheese on top of a dish. The proper way to torch the top of your dessert is to hold the opening of the torch about four to five inches away from the top of the dish and move the flame back and forth in a slow, even motion.
Pizza stones
A pizza lovers' gadget collection would not be complete without a pizza stone to make your pizza taste like it was made in a pizzeria. Traditional pizza baking methods call for a wood-fired oven, but as an alternative, both pizza shops and people who want to make homemade pizza can make authentic quality pies using a pizza stone. Pizza stones are made from terracotta, which is unglazed ceramic made from natural clay. The term terracotta literally means baked earth and usually has a reddish brown color. The clay was widely used by ancient societies to make decorative artwork and statues, some of which have survived to this day. Pizza stones made from the same clay are durable, retain heat well and will eventually absorb some of the pizza flavoring, giving each pie a taste unique to your kitchen.
Non-stick fry pan
Frying pans are an essential part of any commercial kitchen but the home cook should also think seriously about investing in a good non-stick pan. They can be used for sautéing vegetables, searing a steak or even browning ground beef. With its waxy, slick feel, the non-stick finish prevents a lot of food from sticking to the pan. Non-stick pans are great for using with healthful dishes that require very little butter or oil. They are also good for recipes which require the dish to be flipped or moved around in one whole piece with a spatula. Every cook should have at least one go-to fry pan they can count on, if not more.
Garlic presses
Garlic presses are an essential tool in any kitchen due to the ubiquitous nature of the ingredient. While some chefs prefer to chop garlic using a knife, the result is often some very smelly hands and a scent that is incredibly difficult to remove. Garlic presses make mincing garlic a clean and easy process. The garlic press is an essential tool for anyone who cooks with garlic. I personally use mine on a daily basis and sometimes wish I had two!

Immersion blenders
Immersion blenders are a great way to make soups and salsas in the container of your choosing. These blenders are different from processors or freestanding blenders in that the food that is being blended does not need to be put in a special container. The wand blender, as it is sometimes called, is immersed into whatever container the food has been prepared in. Some models can even be used while the food is simmering on the stove. Immersion blenders are known and loved by professional and novice cooks alike because they can go where regular food processors cannot. They let cooks think outside the blender bowl when it comes to blending dishes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Avocado "hand tacos" with Meyer lemon and chipotle - guest post by Emery

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First, let's get one thing straight. I am not Erika. I am her 11-year-old son Emery. I will be guest-blogging for this one post.

Well, today, I was eating dinner, when my mom suggested that I have some fruit or vegetable. She suggested avocado, because we have a dozen Hass avocados from the California Avocado Commission. So, I started with my usual, avocado with lemon and salt, but then I decided that it needed a little...well, spice. Mom suggested that I put a little bit of hot chipotle powder on, since I am not afraid of the spice at all. So, I did, and it was perfect. It packed the perfect amount of spice into every bite.

But, I still thought that it needed something more to go with it. That's when I saw my mom cooking the already-prepared-just-cook tortillas from Costco. I asked her if I could have one to go with my avocado, and that was the crowning glory. When you combine the creaminess of the avocado with the chewiness of the tortilla, it's unspeakable how good it is. Here's the recipe, so you can make it yourself, and when you're finished, reward yourself with the miraculous combination of flavors.

Avocado "hand tacos" with Meyer lemon and chipotle
  • 1 California Hass avocado
  • juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of ground dried chipotle powder (if you would like to add less or more, be my guest)
  • 1 large flour tortilla, or two small corn tortillas
Cut the avocado into chunks. Squeeze the lemon juice evenly over all the chunks. Distribute the salt and chipotle powder evenly amongst the chunks. Rip the tortilla(s) into small pieces and use to pick up the avocado. Thank me for such a great recipe.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Decorating cupcakes with Wilton

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Weston, my younger son, has been asking to decorate cupcakes for months. Tonight, thanks to Wilton and the goodies they gave us to play with at Camp Blogaway this past weekend, we decorated.

Wilton was one of the fantastic sponsors at Camp Blogaway, a weekend retreat for food bloggers run by the inimitable Patti Londre ( Even after two workshops where we decorated cupcakes, brownies and cookies, there were leftovers: dozens of bags of colored icing, gorgeous icing roses and daisies, sprinkles and pearls and sparkly colored sugar. Nancy and Gretchen, the Wilton ladies, didn't want to ship them back to Illinois. So I gratefully took whatever would fit in my car and brought it home to the kids.

And here's what we did tonight:






Three words: Thank you Wilton!

If you're interested, here are some of the products we used:

Biscuits with mushroom beef gravy - the photo

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Remember the struggles I had photographing blood orange curd a few months ago? Today's challenge was even harder: biscuits with mushroom beef gravy, also known as "cat food" to food stylists and photographers. (Thank master food stylist Denise Vivaldo for that lovely visual, which came up in her presentation at Camp Blogaway this past weekend.)

And I think I nailed it. Well, you tell me:

Denise's advice for photographing cat food: Stay far away from the food, put something recognizable on top, use an interesting vessel. Check, check, check. I also decided on a black background to set off the color and design of the plate. It's a piece of black posterboard from the art store - I have a portfolio in the kitchen with posterboard and foam board in a bunch of different colors. A good $20 investment for those of us who take food pictures.

I also used the photography advice from Art Ramirez, another Camp Blogaway presenter, in this shot. Took the darn camera off auto. Set the white balance to "cloudy," as it was early morning in foggy Santa Monica. Bounced some light with a big piece of white foam board to fill in some of the shadows. I still haven't bought a tripod, but that's next on my list.

I'm going to write about this dish for The Mushroom Channel in a few weeks, so stay tuned for the recipe. But at least now I know I've got the photo in the bag.

Thanks to @rockenwagner for the naming advice - I couldn't call it "Cat food with mushrooms," now could I?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rice pudding recipe with loquats and coconut milk

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One of the things I like most about living in southern California is that there's fruit growing on trees everywhere you look. Every backyard, many front yards, some sidewalks, a handful of medians, one freeway off-ramp in my neighborhood - fruit trees of all kinds. It's like Los Angeles is one giant, untended, patchwork quilt of an orchard.

Native Californians are unfazed by this bounty. But I grew up in New York, and I still get a thrill every time I see a tree heavy with oranges or pomegranates or apricots. It's strange that there are so few fruit-bearing trees on Long Island where I grew up, actually - the climate is fine for apples, pears, cherries, anything that needs a winter chill. But somehow, fruit trees didn't fit into the planned subdivisions of the New York suburbia in which I was raised. Was it because no one wanted to clean up after them? Because they thought the fruit wouldn't survive on the East coast without pesticides? I really don't know, and back then I didn't know what I was missing.

But now, living in Los Angeles, I can't get enough of backyard fruit. When we bought our house in Santa Monica 13 years ago, the first thing I did was plant more fruit trees. The yard had avocado, lemon and fig trees when we moved in; over the years I've added several Meyer lemons, a Santa Rosa plum, a Mexican lime, and a kumquat that, sadly, has never fruited, though it's not dead either. We lost a few young citrus trees that, out of ignorance, I planted right where we'd had a eucalyptus removed; apparently eucalyptus leaves unpleasant residue in the soil for quite a while, and it was too much for the clementine and navel orange babies.

My neighbors and work friends are starting to understand that if they share their backyard fruit with me, I will return it in the form of delicious treats. That's how I ended up with the kumquats that made it into last week's kumquat bread. And it's how I got several pounds of loquats over the past week from my coworkers Tonia and Scott, whose loquat tree is turning out so much fruit the squirrels and birds can't even keep up. I turned the loquats into jam by peeling, seeding and chopping them, then stewing them with sugar. And then, because Scott eats gluten-free, I made rice pudding.

Loquats, for those of you unfamiliar, look like small light-orange testicles. (Well, they do!) The skin peels off easily with your fingers. The flesh looks like an orange lychee, and that's sort of what it tastes like too - floral and sweet with a little pucker. It's got a few big brown seeds in the middle, which I hear are poisonous, so don't eat them.

Just so you know I have my priorities in order: This morning when I rode my bike to work I remembered to take both my snack bag and a container of this rice pudding for Tonia and Scott. However, I managed to forget my wallet, keys (including the key to my bicycle lock, forcing me to park my bike next to my desk), cell phone, and all the other goodies that live in my handbag, which I also forgot. Luckily I live only two miles from my office, and my husband was nice enough to play messenger boy. He was in a good mood - the rice pudding agreed with him, too.

Rice pudding with loquats and coconut milk
  • 1 cup Arborio or other short-grain rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup loquat jam
Combine the rice, coconut milk, milk, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or until the rice is tender. Check the pan occasionally; the milk will want to boil over, but try not to let it or you'll end up having to take apart the stove (yes, I did). If the pudding gets too dry and thick, add some water. When it's done you want it to be loose but not soupy; it will absorb more liquid as it stands.

Stir in the loquat jam and serve. Garnish with toasted coconut if you like - you'll notice there's none in the photo above, because I was rushing to get to work this morning. If I'd had a few minutes, I definitely would have added the toasted coconut.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cherry season in southern California

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I did a little dance this weekend at the Virginia Park farmers' market here in Santa Monica. Okay, a big dance. A really big dance. Because the cherries are back, baby!

This is a huge event in my house. By this time of year my kids are sick sick SICK of citrus, apples, and the occasional kiwi. They are craving summer fruit: golden yellow apricots, sweet-sour plums, sugary pluots, crisp-sweet peaches and nectarines (yes, I know, it's weird, we like our peaches and nectarines hard and crunchy).

Southern California cherries are the first local stone fruit to show up in the spring. Now we know for sure that apricots and the early nectarines are only a few short weeks away. So long, apples, we'll see you in the fall - I mean, we love you, apples, really we do, but don't you feel like we could use a few months apart to appreciate each other properly?

Last year on Father's Day, the kids and I let their dad sleep in and went to pick cherries in Leona Valley with my friend Carolin and her boys - these are Carolin's fabulous photos, by the way. Leona Valley is a sweet crevice in the high desert near Palmdale, with dry, sandy hills on all sides. Some farmers in the early 20th century figured out that cherries would grow well there and planted acres and acres of trees. Now every June, you can drive into one of the many pick-your-own orchards and tromp around among the trees, filling buckets with beautiful yellow and red cherries. We picked, oh, let's see, about five gallons that day. At least. And then we came home and made cherry cobbler to celebrate the two dads.

When other kids come over to our house during cherry season, my boys introduce them to the fine art of spitting cherry pits off the back deck and into the yard. It's wise to wear shoes in our backyard during cherry season, because some of the pits inevitably land on the walkway between the herb garden and the top of the hill. You don't want to step on cherry pits with bare feet. They're pointy.

So take this as fair warning that you will see cherry recipes popping up here for the next month or two. Get ready - you'll want to make every single one. Arm yourself with this Oxo Good Grips Cherry Pitter; it's the best $12.61 you'll ever spend. There's also the Leifheit Cherrymat Cherry Stoner with Container at $29.99 for larger quantities, but I've heard this style misses some pits, so I stick with the hand-held. It's slower but thorough.

To get you in the mood, here are a few of my cherry recipes from last year:
Photos: Carolin Shining

Friday, May 7, 2010

Meyer lemon shortbread for Mother's Day

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My mother is many wonderful things: loyal friend, passionate advocate, easy travel companion, family historian, enthusiastic dinner companion, my rock, and always my first call when parenting my own kids has me baffled.

My mother is not, however, a particularly good cook. Don't worry, she won't get mad when she reads this; she knows cooking isn't her thing. She can follow a recipe and get dinner for 10 on the table if she has to. She just doesn't like it very much.

When my mom comes to visit me in southern California from her home in New York, she seems to find the joy I take in cooking both admirable and slightly ridiculous. She'll sit at the dining table and keep me company while I putter, and last time she was here I even put her to work slicing strawberries for strawberry crepes. But at some point, while I'm washing basil for pesto or mixing muffin batter or shaving radishes on a mandoline, she'll comment on my diligence. "Grandma would be so proud to see her little balabusta [Yiddish for 'ultimate homemaker,' more or less]," she said last time. "Do you realize you've been in the kitchen all afternoon?" I can never really tell whether she sees the value, or whether she's humoring me. Either way, I know she now understands how much pleasure I get out of an afternoon in the kitchen and the meal with friends that is the inevitable result.

Which is why her most recent visit was the hardest for me. My mom, who loves to eat as much as I do but at the moment is exhibiting far more willpower than I am, is on a carb-restricted diet. I could not bake for her. I could not cook for her. I mean, I did cook for her, but the options were quite limited. I felt hamstrung; how would I show my mother how much I love her if I couldn't make her delicious food? I had to take it on faith that she knows the depths of my love, even when carrots are off-limits and the lemon shortbread cookies she adores were a definite no-no.

When my mother is omnivorous, her favorite cookies are Lorna Doones. I created this recipe for Meyer lemon shortbread at the end of 2009, a tough time in my life when I missed my mother immensely and the tree in my backyard was groaning with lemons. My mother shares my fascination with backyard trees that grow food - I know you native Californians will never understand the novelty of it all - and she'll often pack a few Meyer lemons in her suitcase when she heads home to New York.

I couldn't make these Meyer lemon shortbread cookies for my mother this Mother's Day, but you can make them for your mother, and you should. Unless she's on that #$)%^%)$ Atkins diet. In which case, I recommend bacon.

Meyer lemon shortbread
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon zest (from 3 large Meyer lemons; substitute regular lemons if you must)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup large-crystal raw sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a stand mixer until well combined and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour in three parts, mixing by hand with a spatula or your hands. The dough will be dry and crumbly.

Turn the dough out onto the counter or a large board and press it into a rectangle. Sprinkle the raw sugar on top and press it in with your hands. Cut the dough into squares, diamonds, whatever, then lay the dough pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake about 25 minutes or until the cookies are just turning golden on the bottom. Put the finished cookies on a rack to cool.

More Mother's Day recipes

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mexican chocolate bread pudding recipe for Cinco de Mayo

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I grew up on Long Island in a town that was 95 percent Jewish. To say I was culturally sheltered would be a colossal understatement. I had no idea that Judaism was a religion - and that there were others - until seventh grade, when I saw a few of my classmates heading to the Catholic church (the what?) next to our middle school for confirmation class. I spent most of that year reading and re-reading the entries on Catholicism and the Protestant denominations in my mother's 1953 Encyclopedia Brittanica. Fascinated (and more than a little horrified by the whole crucifixion thing), I drank in the details of Christmas, Easter, communion, confirmation.

Still, I'd never heard of Cinco de Mayo until I moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s. Just me? A cultural shift? A function of geography? Doesn't matter. I live here now, and Cinco de Mayo is a big deal.

I created this Mexican chocolate bread pudding for the Cinco de Mayo potluck we had at work last year. I had just started back to work after eight years at home full-time with my kids, and I hadn't met most of the people in the office yet. I think this was the first real food I brought in to share. I hadn't yet established my reputation as a product manager, but I think my reputation as a cook got a boost.

Be sure to use ground pure chile peppers (not the spice mixture called chili powder), such as New Mexico chile, ancho chile or California chile - these are available in the Latin section of my grocery store. Chocolate and chile: It's an addictive combination I first had in New Mexico, in chocolates filled with a chile-spiked ganache and hot chocolate dusted with chile powder. 

Mexican chocolate bread pudding
  • 1 large loaf challah, cut into 1-inch cubes (no need to remove crust)
  • 1 lb dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 12 eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 cups milk (lowfat is okay)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp ground pure chile (not chili powder)
  • 1 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pile the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 15 minutes. You want them to dry out a bit before mixing them with the custard so that they absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Remove them from the oven and let them cool a bit. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

While the bread is toasting, put the chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate on high for 1 minute, let it rest, then zap it for 1 minute more. Remove the chocolate and stir it with a spatula or spoon until it is smooth and melted.

In a very large bowl, mix together the eggs, cream, milk, sugar and spices. Add the melted chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Put the bread in the bowl, toss well, and let the bread soak in the custard mixture at least half an hour and up to two hours, tossing occasionally to make sure all the bread cubes are well coated.

Spray a very large baking pan (or two medium baking pans) with cooking spray. Turn the bread-custard mixture into the pan(s) and smooth out the top. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pudding is set. Remove the pudding from the oven and let it sit at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if you like. Makes enough for the whole office.

Kumquat bread recipe with olive oil

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A few nights ago, my neighbor Sue called. "Paul just cut about 10 branches off the kumquat tree," she said. "The good tree, the one in front. Do you want some?"

To tell the truth, I hesitated. I've made kumquat marmalade in years past, but my refrigerator is still full of last year's fig jam, December's cranberry sauce, and last week's experiment with some loquats. Past marmalade, I've never found a way to use kumquats in quantity. And flicking out all those little pits - well, it can drive a woman to madness. I can get my kids to chop figs in the summer, but there's no way I'd be able to convince them to tackle seeding kumquats on a school night.

And then: "Sure," I heard myself saying. "I'd love some." Because, after all, it's still free fruit, right? Can't turn down free backyard fruit. I'm sure turning down homegrown fruit is against all kinds of laws in southern California. Michael dutifully, if not exactly cheerfully, walked down the street to pick up the kumquats from Sue's front porch. He's no fan of the kumquat.

It took half an hour to take the fruit off the branches Michael brought back. (And another half hour to get the tree dirt out from under my fingernails.) Three quarts of kumquats stared back at me from the colander. You want to bake something, said the kumquats. We would be so delicious, so fragrant, in a nice tea bread! Don't boil us in hot sugar syrup like last time. That hurt. And no one likes kumquat marmalade around here except you.

And so it was. I found a recipe for kumquat bread, tinkered with it a bit, and turned out two loaves that made the whole house smell like orange blossoms. The bread is perfect for breakfast or tea, not too sweet. One loaf is going with me to work today; the other, to Sue and Paul. It's a symbiotic relationship we have - they share the bounty of their gorgeous garden, I bring them back cake. It's happened before. And no doubt it will happen again.

By the way, see the gorgeous plate in the photo above? It was made by my friend Laura Schare, who does all kinds of glass and has a kiln in her backyard in the San Fernando Valley. She does sell privately, so let me know if you'd like her contact information. I love her work.

Kumquat olive oil bread (adapted from Kumquat bread from Margaret O'Dell)
  • 2 heaping cups ripe fresh kumquats
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Puree the kumquats in a blender or food processor. I used the whole fruit and decided to leave the pits where they were, mostly out of laziness. The kumquats I was using had small seeds, though. If your kumquats have big pits, you'll want to flick them out before pureeing the fruit. (Cut a few in half to check.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, olive oil and sugar until they are well combined. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula; don't over mix or the bread will be tough. Fold in the pureed kumquats and wheat germ.

Pour the batter into two greased loaf pans and bake about 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean (start checking after 45 minutes). Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on a wire rack.