Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Secret Ingredient

This is my new secret ingredient. I like a little spice in my life! I've known about the regular and green tabasco forever, but recently the "chipotle" has made it onto my radar.

This little bottle is filled with smokey, spicy goodness. I use it in pasta sauce, on eggs, on meat etc..etc... It really works on whatever needs a little umpf.

You really must try! But shhh it's a secret.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seven Deadly Zins

Here's another of my faves in the Zin department. I first tried this one at a wine tasting and of course, loved the name. This one comes from my home state, California. Lodi, no less. The Michael David Winery uses seven different vinyard's old vine zinfandels to come up with this blend, therefore giving it it's catchy name as well.

This is a smooth, big wine with words on the label that I can actually understand. Like "greed, pride, lust and gluttony", now those are great wine words, no?

This wine has even won some awards, including California's "Best of the Best Zinfandels". This little winner usually goes for around $15 bucks. I almost cheered when I saw it on the shelves at Costco, for a little over $13!

Give it a try, you're gonna love it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fresh Pasta

So it was Saturday, after two photo shoots in the morning, a quick hike on the bike trails, then a beer on the couch, I was seriously questioning my plan to make fresh pasta for dinner. Having pizza delivered for the second night in a row seemed like a reasonable option. But no.

I dragged out Martha's recipe, which is simply flour and eggs. Not so daunting, I thought. Plus I've seen the gurus on the Food Network do it a hundred times and it always seems pretty simple.

I mounded my 2 cups of flour into a nice little volcano and made the crater that would (hopefully) hold the 4 eggs. Of course, MY volcano started to erupt the eggs down the side of the flour hillside as I did a mad dash to gracefully whisk in the eggs with a fork and gradually work in the flour while attempting to keep the whole thing from flowing onto the floor. It was a wee bit less graceful than I had seen demonstrated by the pros, but I did wrestle it into a ball of dough.

Ok. A deep breath I took and moved my dough to a clean, floured section of the kitchen counter and began to knead. For TEN minutes. I figured this would count as my workout for the day. Indeed. But then it was done and now it was time to cover it with a bowl and let it relax on the counter for an hour and a half.

Which was ok, because it gave me time to drive around the neighborhood like a stalker, searching for a wireless signal, since mine was on the fritz for the second day! But that's another story.

So the alarm went off and I headed back to my little labor of love on the counter and followed Martha's instructions to divide the dough into four pieces and "vigorously roll out until almost transparent". Then I needed to fold each piece into 3rds and cut to desired width. I opted for papardelli sized noodles, about 1/4 inch wide. It worked! They looked like pasta!!

The cool thing about fresh pasta is that it cooks in about 2 seconds, ok 2-3 minutes, but still. I made a creamy tomato sauce with a bit of spinach and some meatballs that gave me more trouble than the pasta. But it really was so good. Sadly, I was out of parmesan cheese, and despite two trips to the store that day, it remained the missing ingredient. However, two of us ate every last bit of the gigantic platter I produced.

So the moral of the story is: the workout, the floury mess, and the total trashing of the kitchen was all worth it. I make it sound like a bit of hell, but it was fun really. I dare you to give it a try. You will feel and taste all of the love that you pour into constructing your very own noodles.

Craaazzzy Chocolate Cake

Alright, here it is... Ladies, the next time you have one of those chocolate attacks, you are sooo gonna thank me for this one. Actually, we have Martha to thank, this came from the Martha Stewart "Annual Recipes 2002" cookbook. And for my friend Christine and my mom who celebrated their birthdays in the last couple of days, this one's for you!

Let the record show, I'm not a huge baker. Baking is a little too scientific for me. You can't do too much improv with most baking recipes
. I AM a big chocolate fan, however - so for this I will don my lab jacket and concoct this beauty.

For the Cake:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
2 C. flour
1 1/2 C. sugar
3/4 C. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg, room temp
1 egg white. room temp
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 C. strong, hot coffee

Preheat oven to 325. Butter & flour two 8in. cake pans.
Mix everything (EXCEPT coffee) in a mixer on low till combined.
Slowly add coffee, mix till smooth then pour into pans. Bake 25-30 mins, till toothpick comes out clean.

For the Ganache (frosting): here's my disclaimer; I found a way to ad lib this one because the recipe in the book was for about 5x the amount here. SO, my measurements aren't real measurements, I wing it. But I tried to come up with a rough guess here.

1 package semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/3 C. heavy cream
3 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. sour cream

In a heat proof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and the cream. Stir stir stir...
Remove from heat and add butter & sour cream.
Allow to cool.
If you want a fluffy frosting you can use an electric mixer to whip it. I broke my mixer, plus I like it without, so I just go with it as is.
The rest is obvious... smear some ganache in between cake layers and then pile the rest on finished cake.

If you want to get crazy, put some heavy whipping cream in a mixer with some sugar and mix until you have whipped cream. Pour into a bowl and fold in some fresh raspberries. Dollup some of this on your slice and behold!
Quote of the Day:
"Birthdays are good for you: the more you have, the longer you live." ~Anonymous

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh-Yeah Orzo

Am I the only one who's forgotten about orzo? Remember that sneaky little pasta that likes to impersonate rice? A couple of lifetimes ago when I was in art school, I worked at the Real Food Deli in San Francisco. We served up some pretty amazing stuff from huge platters and bowls in that deli counter. I quickly became addicted to this great orzo & feta salad.

Once I started to cook, this dish made a comeback with me. But then, like I often do, I overdosed on the recipe and haven't returned for years. Until one day while perusing the pasta isle, craving something new to do with the same old noodles, I saw it. "Oh yeah, Orzo!"

In Italian, 'Orzo' means barley, however it is made with good ol' semolina. So it is neither rice nor barley, twalk amongst ya' selves. Because it is such a tiny pasta, it seems best as a side dish or even used in soups.

Last night I made some killer chicken sandwiches and went with the old standby orzo recipe as the accompaniment. Boil up some orzo, then drain & allow to cool. I chopped some sundried tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs, then tossed in the cheese and some green peas and mixed it all together. And just like that, an old favorite made a comeback.

If you too have forgotten about this little pasta that could, you really should go for it again!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mojito Mojo

How's your mojo? Are you feelin' it? Are you refreshed? Chilled? Relaxed? If you answered "no" to any of the above, then here & now I offer you a prescription: A mojito. This drink seems to be the "it" drink of late, right?

I had never had one until a couple of years ago when the Cubans moved in next door to my photography studio. In fact, I think most of Honolulu was not hip to the beverage, but what do I know...

What I know is that Jesus, (pronounced hay-suus, but I prefer to pronounce as geez-us, cause it's more fun to say you had a mojito with jesus...) anyway, Jesus Puerto brought Cuba not only to Honolulu, but to my very doorstep with his second Soul de Cuba Cafe.

In the following years, both these Cubans and their mojito have become dear friends of mine. I have consumed my share, photographed it up close & personal, and have even written about it.

The thing about the Soul de Cuba mojito is the handmade mixes they use. Another instrument I was introduced to by the Cubans was the "muddler", a small, sawed-off rolling pin of sorts, used to mush ingredients together for cocktails. It makes ALL the difference!

Another secret of the mojito is "simple syrup". You know about this? It takes two seconds to make and is the little secret ingredient in many a cocktail. (Bring one cup of water to boil and add one cup of sugar, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for a couple of minutes, then let cool).

If you want to whip up a mojito at home, here's what you do:

Pour some simple syrup into a rocks glass.
Add 1/2 a lime cut into quarters and about 5 fresh mint leaves.
Take your handy dandy muddler and bash them together a bit.
Fill the glass with ice and add a shot of white rum and top with club soda, seltzer or lemon-lime soda.

Pour back and forth into a cocktail shaker till combined. Garnish with a sprig of mint and soon you will have your mojo back! I'm talking about the refreshing, chillin', relaxing mojo that comes from the mojito. And if you don't feel like making it yourself and you happen to be in our neighborhood on Oahu, have one of the Cubans serve one up for you! You can find them at

Sunday, September 20, 2009


During my recent Moroccan cooking extravaganza, I discovered harissa, a volcanic hot, herb-y chili paste. This has become my new secret ingredient. Make a batch of this stuff, throw it in a jar and keep it in the fridge. I use this in marinades, sauces, pastas, on meat and sometimes a pinch between the cheek & gum.

So as usual, I had a recipe from The Food of Morocco cookbook, but I, of course improvised...

The recipe calls for 4 1/2 oz. dried chilies (who knows how much that is? I don't measure in ounces!) chopped and soaked in boiling water for an hour.
I also added one habenero chili, some spicy, sweet peppers that I had from the deli, and some pickled jalepenos.
The recipe calls for 1 Tbsp. dried mint, I used a handful of fresh.
Also 1 Tbsp. ground coriander, I used a handful of fresh parsley.
1 Tbs. ground cumin, which I actually had.
1 tsp. ground caraway seeds, I skipped this altogether.
10 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 C. olive oil

Throw it all in the food processor and give it a whirl till combined. If you like spicy, you're gonna love this. The mint gives it that Moroccan twist and a little mystery taste in the finished dish. Let me know if you like it!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Alright, for my first real two cents in the wine department, I've gotta talk Mollydooker. This is a great Australian winery and the Aussies have been making me crazy with their big, giant reds. Plus, they have an obvious edge with their quirky names and labels. I recently discovered that Mollydooker means a "left hander" to those down under.

The first Mollydooker wine I tried was The Boxer. This wine was recently rated wine of the week by Wine Spectator Magazine. This bottle will cost you about $25 clams, which is about as much as I want to spend on a bottle of wine, which makes it not my everyday wine, but a bit of a splurge. But it's so worth it.

By the way, I don't ever taste those things that it says on the label or in magazines, like "lightly floral, minerally, apple-inflected, stony, lemony, nutty, lime scented, peachy, herb-scented" - all adjectives used in September's Food & Wine.

Or how about Saveur using such descriptions as: "lanolin, honey, salted nuts, chalk, wax, or white flowers", on the nose - meaning this is what the wine gurus SMELL. Chalk?? What the? Or how about something "sweet and unctuous", "waxy white fruit in the mouth", "oily with tart stone-fruit flavors", "an intriguing green pea note", "an austerity that borders on the severe". ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!! I don't know what these mean! But for real, these were all in the "Tasting Notes" on one page in an old issue of Saveur. This makes me crazy! Do you see why I go for the good label?

So back to The Boxer. Does it have a good label? Check. And then for MY buzz words: Big, flavorful, good. I don't want to be drinking anything that tastes or smells like green peas, lanolin, or God forbid CHALK. I want the wine maker to have a sense of humor, to be an artist and to make killer wine. That's all I need to know. And I can tell two of those three things just by looking at the label.

Mollydooker makes several bottles in the $25 range like Blue Eyed Boy, and Two Left Feet. But let me just say, that if you ever happen upon a bottle of Carnival of Love, and have an extra 90 bucks in your pocket, please, please buy this wine. It's amazing. They also have a $25 bottle called Sip it Forward, which the proceeds from this wine support and educate children in Cambodia. That is pretty cool.

You can find out a lot more about these guys at Plus, check out their tip on shaking the wine to release it's flavor. Who Knew??

Quote of the Day:
"Wine is bottled poetry".
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Lust

I have a bad case of book lust. Books of all sorts; novels, photographs, biographies, design, philosophical, even books about books. But none will send me into a feeding frenzy like my go-to's in the food-book department.

I have some beautiful books like "HomeBaking - the Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World", and "The Food Lover's Atlas of the World", that I can pick up and read cover to cover - being submerged in the food and cultures of the world through the words and amazing images.

I went on a Moroccan food binge, partly inspired by my dear Moroccan "brother", and hugely because of this amazing book. You can almost smell the spices in the photographs. I almost burned out on the Moroccan Chicken Stew, but I couldn't stop making it! You'll notice my copy in the photograph was mangled by my very bad dog. He was home alone and knew how mad I'd be about attacking my new favorite book. Grrrr...

"The Ultimate Book of Cocktails" has made me want to be a bartender in another life and has taught me a lot about the labyrinth of the mixed beverage. From the different types of glasses & utensils, to the many different ingredients and a ton of recipes. I actually forget about this one most of the time, but every time I open it I am inspired to imbibe some new concoction.

And of course there's Martha. The "Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2002" has been my go to for things that just shouldn't be messed with. Like the insane Dark Chocolate Cake with a crraaazzzy chocolate ganache frosting, which I find not by the page number, the table of contents or the index, but by flipping through the pages till I see the one splattered with chocolate. This has served as dessert and breakfast many a time in my house.

And then there's those books by fellow foodies, reveling in their gastronome exploits of one kind or another. One of my faves that I stumbled upon in a thrift store is called, "The Man Who Ate Everything", a lawyer who somehow turned food critic for Vogue magazine in the late 80's. He had endless food phobias and tackled them all systematically in order to be an unbiased critic. I read the first chapter on 'bread' one rainy day at the beach and went directly from there and spent about a million and a half dollars on bread and cheese at Whole Foods.

And then there's my man. Mr. Anthony Bourdain. I first fell in love with this brash, scraggely, ex chef turned traveling eater & writer (My dream gig!) from his show on the Travel Channel, "No Reservations". Then I started to read his books. "Kitchen Confidential" was his launching pad. It's been reviewed by Restaurant Business Magazine as "equal parts wit and wickedness, Bourdain does the unthinkable by revealing trade secrets that chefs & restaurants cringe to read". He does that, plus he bares his own dirty, scandalous, druggie past with total transparency. And he's so snarkey. Like when talking about a fancy, wanna-be chef wanting to get all lemongrass & Pacific Rim Cuisine on him, "Until then I have four words for you: 'Shut the f*!k up.'" Gotta love him.

I love these books and go to them whenever I need some new inspiration. Whenever my reading material needs a little more, oh I don't know, Flavor??! Pick one up and see where it takes you, and don't forget to pass along your faves over here!

Quote of the Day:
"A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog's ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins."
~Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia, 1833

Monday, September 14, 2009


Ever feel the need to hop on the next plane leaving town and just go? Doesn't matter where it's headed, you just need to be somewhere, anywhere else? Well, if you're like me, that option doesn't exist. But I've figured out a temporary loophole. It's Chinatown.

Here in Honolulu, Chinatown conjures up images of one of two worlds. The first being the new, hip, hopeful neighborhood, holding onto dreams of revitalization. Restaurants, bars, art galleries, the Hawaii Theatre. The other image is one of strange smells, exotic produce and every part of every animal you could imagine from pig heads to live frogs being sold out of tiny stalls. Lei stands, the shop with pots & pans and utensils, storefronts offering jade jewelry, waving kitties, and other good luck charms.

And that's not even talking about the people! So many faces. Old, young, selling, buying, store owners, homeless junkies, tourists and me.

It really is a feast for the senses. This is the Chinatown that takes me away to far off places. The unfriendly grocery cashiers, the crazy smells, and feeling like I don't really belong there are all a part of the illusion that I have traveled far away from where I hang my hat.

Sometimes that's all i need to get my quick travel fix, or to indulge in a few minutes of tuning out the pile of things relentlessly tugging at me. So that is my tip for the day. Take a trip, travel at least to your own back yard or maybe even venture into your own Chinatown. Breathe the air, even if it smells of frogs and raw meat and let yourself see things with new eyes and be taken away to someplace new.

Quote of the Day:
"How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes, they hold you. You leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences - like rags and shreds of your
very life. " ~Kathlene Mansfield

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Second Chances

What would we do without second chances? For all of the times I screw things up, and even for those times when I extend another chance, it's pretty sweet to get to try again. And even sweeter when things work. Of course this is a metaphor for much of my life, but right now I'm talking about eggplant.

I've tried eggplant many times, but it always seemed like a big band aid in some kind of sauce. I didn't get it. But something happened. I gave it another try while working on the Cuban Cookbook. It wasn't bad. Then I tried some of Auntie Pasto's Eggplant Parmesan. It was good, but it was the sauce that was killer, it was covered in cheese, and the company was great. It wasn't until recently, during my goat cheese and sundried tomato attack, that I really got it. I saw a recipe for some kind of eggplant roll with green beans in the middle, except it was supposed to be served over some bitter lettuce concoction with the goat cheese as the dressing. So I switched it up a bit. And I decided to give it another chance. Here's what you do.

First of all, if you think you hate eggplant, give it another chance.

Second take one of those fat eggplants, not the skinny ones, and slice it into thin strips, lengthwise. Pour a little olive oil on both sides & season with salt & pepper. Then grill on a grill pan or outside, but grilling is key to get that smokey taste. I use a grill pan that smokes up the whole house - it works wonders.

Then put, I don't know - maybe 1/3 C. goat cheese, a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes, and some chopped basil in a bowl & combine.

Throw a big handful of fresh green beans into some boiling water and cook for about 2-3 mins. Let cool slightly.

Then, spread a little of the cheese mixture (like a small teaspoon - too much is a little overkill) on the eggplant. Then put the green beans across and roll up. And there you go.

I made it again in the same week and they were even really good cold, straight out of the fridge for breakfast. And maybe better even than how they tasted was the affirmation that it's always good to try again. To forgive, to put yourself out there again and take a risk.

Quote of the day: "There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
~George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's in a Name?

Ok, over the years I have become a lover of wine. Red, in particular. Over recent years I have figured out a little bit about the basic difference in grapes and regions, and I've honed in on my favorites of those; big, giant cabernets and zins. I've stumbled across many of my favorites because I am a sucker for a good label. The guys in the wine shop laugh at me, because if it's a choice between two bottles, I always go for the one with the best label.

Take "Bitch", for example. I mean COME ON. How can you not?! I think this is a great gift for a good-humored girlfriend, even though it's not my favorite wine to drink. My empty bottle still sits in my wine rack. It just seems too funny to throw away.

Anyway, next to water & coffee, (and not necessarily in that order) wine is for sure my favorite beverage. So stay tuned for my two cents worth in the wine department. I will share with you my faves, and you will definitely see a common thread in the charm of the names.

I aspire to one day be able to peruse my own wine cellar, collection, or at the very least rack, and be able to say, "What shall we open tonight?". But for now I can never seem to have more than two bottles at a time in the house. So we'll take it one bottle at a time in the search for new discoveries and old favorites.

If you've come across some fabulous, big, luscious red lately, let me know!
Until then,

What a Tart!

Once upon a Saturday, while home alone and foraging for food, I started dragging random leftovers & ingredients out of the fridge. I happened to have some left over pie dough - yeah, yeah... who has leftover pie dough laying around, you ask? Well, if you bite the bullet, trash the kitchen counter, make a batch, and only use a bit of it, you will too. I also had some leftover chicken, a potato, those sundried tomatoes & goat cheese. So I carmelized some onions, chopped up some rosemary, oh! I almost forgot the secret ingredient!!! A little bit of green apple. Roll out the dough, throw everything inside brush the crust with a little oil, and throw it in the oven till golden. Of course, there are a hundred improvs for this one. Throw whatever you have in some crust and grind!

We brought the leftovers on an outing the next day, & it was pretty good cold, straight out of the tinfoil, and dusted with a bit of unintentional sand!

Embrace your inner tart & go for it!

Quote of the Day: "A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch".
~James Beard

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Whacky Lemon Rosemary Cocktail

Here's a strange, but fun beverage I just came across in a food magazine, (I think). Of course I was just trying to find it and it vanished. I messed with the recipe a little anyway. Speaking of, You know I'm all for what I call "Improv Cooking", but I sent this recipe to my sister and instead of making the syrup, she just put sugar and lemon juice in the glass, then she didn't have any fizzy water, so she used regular water, poured in the vodka and maybe garnished it with some rosemary. NOT THE SAME!!! In fact it was undrinkable.

So the key is making the syrup in advance and letting it cool. So make it at some weird time when you're hangin' in the kitchen, or when you're making your coffee or whatever, then it will be ready to roll when it's cocktail time.

Alright, so it calls for 1/2 C. fresh lemon juice (but speaking of ingredients, I had one of those gigantic bottles of lemon juice from Costco that come in a 2-pack - I inherited one from my mom. BUT I used part lemon juice and part fresh squeezed O.J. from my weird orange tree. It worked!)
Anyway, put 1/2 C. citrus juice of some sort and 1/2 C. water in a small pan.
Add 1/2 C. Sugar. (Sounds like a lot but relax, you only use a little per beverage!)
And 2 Rosemary sprigs. (6-8in.)
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and let cook for about 5ish minutes.
Remove from heat, discard rosemary and let cool. You can pour it into a little jar and keep in fridge.
Fill a cocktail glass with ice, pour in abt a Tablespoon (or whatever) of the syrup
Add one shot of vodka (of course, this isn't a strict measurement!)
And top with some sort of fizzy water.
Pour into a cocktail shaker. If you're only making one, you can shake it, but beware of fizzy water explosions. You can also just pour back and forth from glass to shaker.
Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig if you want to impress somebody, other wise just sip & enjoy! The rosemary sounds a little weird, I know. But it gives it a fresh herb-y taste. You're gonna love it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Will Work For Food

Welcome to the wonderful world which comes from my motto: "Will Work For Food". Right now, it's me talking to myself. Welcoming myself to this unchartered territory of the blog. Here's the deal with me; I am a photographer by trade. Children mostly, but also grown people, some photojournalistic stuff, and of course FOOD. I'm not sure why I am starting a blog, other than I love to eat, I like to write, and I need an outlet. Plus, I seem to get myself into situations that my friends seem to think will entertain the masses. I'm not so sure about that.

So what's up with "Swigs and Grinds"? Well, I'm glad you asked. I had a slightly trashier name in mind, but given my day-job, I figured I better keep it clean. And it wasn't available. Then I contemplated "Foodie-Foodenheimer", which was available, but I figured you wouldn't get it. This is a strange thing I do with many words, I think it came from the catchy sound of Marty Shotenheimer, so I turn everything into something that sounds the same. ie: Sassy Sassenheimer, Baldy Baldenheimer, Creepy Creepenheimer etc... But I digress. I live in Hawaii where "Grinds" are something to eat. As in, "Let's go get some grinds." And "Swigs", well, it just seemed to go together, and me, being Native American & Irish, lets just say I like my Swigs.

So there you have it. We'll talk food, drink, life, adventures... Join me?
Foodie Foodenheimer (a.k.a. H)