Southwest-Style Shakshuka with Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Shakshuka, the breakfast/lunch dish that originated in Tunisia that’s wildly popular in Israel, is a perfect brunch item. It is easy to prepare in a single pan but takes a bit more time than weekday fried eggs and toast. The skillet doubles as the serving dish, and makes a terrific presentation on the buffet.

This now-global egg and tomato skillet dish has many incarnations – made with a myriad of ingredients such as sausage, feta, bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and a variety of herbs and spices depending on geography and the seasons.

Epazote in garden

Inspired by my garden overflowing with epazote, I decided to make shakshuka with a Southwestern influence. Epazote is often paired with beans for its natural carminative properties. The saw-toothed epazote leaves give the shakshuka a unique aroma and flavor. I have fallen in love with this herb and its intriguing bouquet which is strangely reminiscent of, if you can believe it, kerosene. Here, spicy tomato sauce is simmered with pinto beans and epazote, then topped with eggs. Once cooked, the whole thing is garnished with avocado slices, cilantro and scallions.

Smoky charred corn tortillas and sour cream

It can be served on its own or as tacos with smoky charred corn tortillas and sour cream.

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

For the Memorial Day holiday, try this vegetarian shakshuka for brunch, and save the meat for a big barbecue later in the day.

Memorial Day

My Memorial Day

Every year at the end of May, it is our duty to honor those who have laid down their lives to defend our freedom and ensure our liberty. Simultaneously we celebrate Memorial Day weekend as the official start of the summer grilling season. So in addition to serving awesome grilled foods and refreshing drinks, we proudly display the American flag and observe a minute of silence at 3:00 PM to honor and remember those who have died in service to our nation. We turn on the television to watch the President lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and we listen with respect as a lone bugler plays the languid 24-note melancholy bugle call known as Taps.

“The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
Abraham Lincoln

“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
John F. Kennedy

“Memorial Day is a day of ceremonies and speeches. Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember they gave their lives so that others might live.”
Ronald Reagan

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Mother’s Day Brunch

Mother's Day Table Setting

Mother’s Day Brunch

It’s no secret that Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for U.S. restaurants. Take mom out for a nice meal, give her the day off from cooking and cleaning, what a treat! But if you would like to make the day festive and personal, try these tips for “Making Mother’s Day Special” starting her day by fixing breakfast or brunch. And {hint} you can still take her out for dinner!

brunch strata

Prepare a fresh and easy brunch that is on the healthier side. The menu includes a light egg & cheese strata, fresh fruit parfait, with juice, and coffee or tea. The strata provides a delightful savory element, while the parfait adds a sweet note.

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Brunch. Manhattan. Beach.

post bangin' brunch, mb post
Manhattan Beach Post
POST BANGIN’ BRUNCH

She called it one of the most surprising openings of the year. As one of the Best Meals of 2011Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic S. Irene Virbila lists her experience at M.B. Post as one of 2011’s most memorable. The upscale Water Grill in Downtown LA with Chef David LeFevre at the helm for years has been our favorite seafood restaurant, and that hasn’t changed. But now this Michelin-starred chef is in the South Bay, our neck of the woods, down at the beach, and we’re thrilled.

manhattan beach post restaurant

M.B Post serves imaginative, artisan global-style dishes in a casually sophisticated atmosphere that purposefully lends itself to a “social house” setting. It’s a fresh brilliant concept where sliding doors open onto the street, with beach-town ambiance, but in a non-stereotypical fashion.

The Chef began offering his Post Bangin’ Brunch in January. Hooray.

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A Trip to Little Saigon & The NYE Repas du Soir

southeast asian table setting
A Trip to Little Saigon
The New Year’s Eve Repas du Soir
New Year’s Day Fabulous Leftovers Brunch

Best friends, great memories, stellar food – that’s how we celebrate the New Year! The old gang is together again, this time we take A Trip To Little Saigon & cook a NYE Repas du Soir together! My old dear friends, dating back to our restaurant days in the 80’s, are visiting for the holidays.

It was Tori’s idea to spend the day in Little Saigon. Eating lunch, laughing, taking photos, getting massages, and shopping. It was her idea that led to the inspiration to cook French/Vietnamese for dinner. We picked up authentic ingredients for our repas du soir and returned to my home in LA in the late afternoon to drink Champagne and create a six-course meal together.

southeast asian table setting

The dinner table was pre-set in a casually elegant Southeast Asian style with orchids, bamboo, and the color red to symbolize wealth and prosperity. We cranked up the holiday music and started cooking; everyone participated in the creation, photography, prep, and execution of the menu. We had a blast!

I had no intention of submitting this outing for the Foodbuzz 24X24 event until I read that the folks over at Foodbuzz were interested to see how Featured Publishers would be spending the last day of 2011. We had terrific culinary/cultural plans that turned out to be a fantastic way to ring in the New Year.

Extending a very special thank you to my friends FA, Al, Kirk, Tori, and Tom for your love & friendship and sense of humor & adventure! Thank you to Foodbuzz for choosing A Trip to Little Saigon & The NYE Repas du Soir as a participant in December’s 24×24 event. Foodbuzz 24×24 showcases posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, highlighting unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period.

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Vegas Brunch Fav: MESA GRILL

mesa grill
Bobby Flay’s  MESA GRILL  Las Vegas

shrimp corn tamale, mesa grill

When the JetBlue flight touches down at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, many people get that familiar tingly feeling. Excitement, adrenaline, gonna win big this time! But our thrill comes not only from fantasizing about hitting the $10 million MegaBucks jackpot (although that’s part of it). Our unique-to-Vegas sensation is mainly about hitting the Culinary Jackpot.

We agonize over our restaurant reservations well in advance of the trip, painstakingly coordinating visits to hot new Chefs, old favorite Chefs with new venues, various cuisines and locations. This time, my brother Don imposed a requirement – we could not eat anywhere we had previously eaten. Except, of course, Mon Ami Gabi @ Paris, because it’s our favorite spot for al fresco breakfast and the bar is our afternoon hangout for drinking vin gris and enjoying the Bellagio Fountains.

Another trip to Vegas, another trip to culinary heaven. Thanks to Don’s edict, this recent journey introduced us to Andre’s @ Monte Carlo, the bar at Michel Richard’s new Central @ Caesar’s, Bradley Ogden @ Caesar’s, Sirio @ Aria.

And brunch at Bobby Flay’s MESA GRILL @ Caesar’s:

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Snowbound Brunch & Snowball Fight

Asparagus Frittata

Festive Breakfast Table

Smoked Salmon with Bagels
Onions, Capers, Cream Cheese,
Olives, Lemons, Dill

Fresh Fruit Salad

“Adult” Mac & 4 Cheese
(Stone thought it was too stinky).

Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne
Menu
Asparagus Frittata
Smoked Salmon, Bagels and Accompaniments
Fresh Fruit Salad
Adult Mac & 4 Cheese
Veuve Clicquot Rosé
Coffee & Juice

Isn’t that an awesome holiday brunch buffet?
We were guests at the home of our dear dear friend Susan in New Jersey. Just like last year, we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Susan, family, old friends, and making some new friends as well. Susan, you are truly the warmest and most generous hostess in the world! Thanks again!
Now, perhaps you heard about the blizzard that blanketed the East Coast this past Saturday? We woke up to a winter wonderland.

But we didn’t have snow gear!

Athena and Eric make snow boots for us with trash bags and tape.

Here I am with my nephews, Jett, 5, and Stone, 7, ready to play in the snow!

My brother Don brings out the shovel and we build our forts.


I’m going to get you!

Lisa and Stone are on one team.

Gotcha!

Making snow angels.

May your Christmas be merry and bright!