B.E.L.T. Sandwich

Our new home is nestled in a small village at the foothills of Mt. Tamalpais.  The village is charming and quaint.  Full of cafés, antique shops, the sweetest little 80-year-old, family owned grocery store, boutiques, restaurants, a village square with pick-up chess matches year round, an outdoor creekside florist, and the ever important, gelateria (they know me well).  I love stepping off our front porch early Saturday morning, when the sun is quiet and the streets are muted, stroll less than 100 feet, and return home with an armful of fresh flowers, a glass bottle of old-fashioned, cream-topped milk and a fresh baguette from the village baker.  A morning that’s hard to top.

Unless, it’s followed up that evening by a trip to our old historic village movie theater.  My love for good movies runs as deep as my love for good food, so you can imagine my excitement the night we left the house at 9:30pm and walked to catch the 9:35pm show, with 3 minutes to spare and Milk Duds to boot.  I sat on Cloud 9.  The Kids Are All Right was playing.  Have you seen it?  It’s one of those films you never, ever want to end.  The kind where you wish you could follow the lives of the characters for the next 50 years — become their friends, invite them over for supper.  One of my favorite scenes involved Annette Bening and heirloom tomatoes.  I won’t give it away, so you’ll have to see the movie for yourself, but ever since, I’m not able to buy, look or even think of an heirloom tomato the same.

So, as I stood at the farmer’s market this weekend, chuckling to myself as I replayed the scene in my head, I nearly forgot what beautiful specimens I had in my possession.  BLT sandwiches are only made during the summertime tomato season in our house, so we take the small window of opportunity pretty seriously.  This year, the volume is turned up – way up.  This is the mother of all BLT’s.  This is none other than the B.E.L.T. Sandwich. Bacon, Egg, Lettuce and Tomato.  Thick-cut, Free-Range, Bibb and Heirloom.  Go, Now, Make and Eat.

B.E.L.T. SANDWICH, serves 2
Inspired by the sandwich at Milk Bar in Chelsea Market

I love using Bibb or Butter lettuce for this sandwich because it has great flavor and the leaves are much more delicate and tender than most standard lettuces.  The garlic, herbs and maple syrup are a MUST.  Do not, under any circumstances, skip over these seemingly innocuous components as they are key to taking this sandwich from good to great.

Music Pairing: Joni Mitchell, All I Want (from the soundtrack of The Kids Are All Right)


  • 4 slices sourdough bread, sliced 1/2-3/4 inch thick
  • 4-6 slices good quality thick-cut bacon
  • Real maple syrup
  • 1 large heirloom tomato
  • Lettuce leaves from Bibb lettuce
  • 2 free range organic eggs
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • Fresh parsley and oregano leaves
  • Fleur de sel or kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Preparing the Bacon
Cook bacon in a skillet over low heat until crisp.  Drain on paper towels.  While still warm, brush lightly with maple syrup.  Set aside.

Frying the Eggs
Crack each egg into its own small bowl to check that the yolks aren’t broken.  In two, 6-inch non-stick skillets, melt half of butter over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble.  Pour 1 egg into each pan, being careful not to break the yolks.  Add a teaspoon of water to each pan and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Cook eggs for 3 minutes for a soft-cooked egg and 5-6 minutes for a firmer egg.

Assembling the Sandwiches
Lightly toast bread and rub with garlic clove while warm.  Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on each toasted slice.  Carefully stack the lettuce, herbs, tomato, bacon and cooked egg onto one slice.  Sprinkle with freshly crack black pepper.  Top with second slice and cut in half.  Enjoy immediately.

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Zucchini Crudo

Today, I was leafing through old photos of a trip my husband (then boyfriend) and I took to Mexico back in 2003.  I remember having to justify the concept of a “beach holiday” to my fair-skinned Irishman, who couldn’t grasp the point of lying around, (literally) cooking under a devilish sun that was hotter than holy hell.  All day.  Everyday.  For seven days straight.  Looking back, I can’t blame his skepticism.  As my skin became increasingly bronzed, his only knew to become frecklier.  The constant heat exhaustion probably didn’t help either.

He did eventually find solace though.  As I take a closer look at the photos, I see the usual sunset shots, ocean shots, and finally….ceviche shots?  Why the disproportionate number of photos of ceviche?  Well, we ate ceviche at nearly every meal.  No, that’s a lie.  At every meal.  Ceviche –and icy cervezas, saved him from the heat and I’m guessing, at the time, he felt it important to duly document his Mexican heroes.

raw zucchini crudo salad

This raw zucchini crudo pays homage to those refreshing bites of summertime relief and has officially taken over the coveted title of Top Salad in our house.  Some nights, my bones are laaaa-zzzy and the thought of washing and spinning greens, in addition to whipping up yet another vinaigrette of some sort, quickly turns daunting.  And, to be honest, I get bored with the look-n-feel of your typical salad architecture and construction.  Zucchini crudo has a refreshingly new, updated floor plan, great curb appeal and is a cinch to build.  We moved in straight away and have been living deliciously since.  Like ceviche, the uber-simple citrus marinade does all the heavy lifting for you while it rests happily in the fridge.  It cures the zucchini and leaves behind a lovely chorus of infused sunny flavors and a toothsome crunch.  Zucchini season is here and my favorite way to enjoy them is RAW, RAW, RAW.  Why muck up something Mother Nature has prepared so perfectly?

Go out and eat too many.  Savor each bite.  Work on your tan (or your freckles).  I plan to do so for as long as Summer lets me.

raw zucchini crudo saladraw zucchini crudo saladraw zucchini crudo salad

Inspired by Tyler Florence

Feel free to change up and play around with your choice of cheese and herbs.  Dollops of fresh ricotta with chervil and dill would be brilliant together.  I picked the herbs below since they’re growing like mad in our garden right now.  Plus, when fresh feta comes knocking at our door, mint is never too far behind.  Oh, and speaking of fresh feta:  French sheep’s milk feta is the way to go.  It’s so much creamier and a bit more mild than Greek or goat’s milk feta.

Music Pairing: Beach Boys, All Summer Long


  • 1 medium farm stand zucchini
  • 1-2 tsp good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • handful of fresh mint, parsley and chives, finely minced


Slice zucchini into rounds as thin as you can get them with a mandolin, or slowly and carefully with a sharp knife.  Arrange on a large plate in shingle formation, overlapping zucchini rounds in one layer.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle with good olive oil and lemon juice.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

A few minutes before removing zucchini crudo from refrigerator, soak red onion slices in remaining lemon juice.  Remove chilled zucchini crudo and top with red onions, crumbled feta and herbs.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.


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Homemade Fig Jam


This past week, Christmas arrived early.  Without warning, our once demure, innocent, sweet fig tree who quietly welcomes us home everyday, out of the blue, let out a ferocious roarrrr! and unleashed its entire season’s pent-up bounty of fruit.  All of a sudden – all at once – gifts of perfectly wrapped plump, juicy figs were (literally) dropping out of the sky and landing squarely into our happy mouths.  Saying it’s been a good week would be the understatement of the century.  Figstacular is more like it.


So, we’ve been harvesting figs like mad, crazy people.  I think we officially have enough figs to feed the entire population of California.  They’ve taken over the kitchen, the house, our lives.  And they like to hang out everywhere.  Sitting atop my morning granola and yogurt is their new favorite spot.  Nestled in wild arugula and fennel salads or cheese platters comes in a close second.  I swear I’ve even seen them on the couch, flipping through my food magazines.  No matter how many we manage to gorge, the next day, we’re greeted with more.  Though fighting off fig-coma, I am determined – by hook or by crook – to find a way to polish off every single last one.

Duh.  Where has my head gone?  Could the answer be anymore obvious?

Homemade fig jam. The ultimate solution to tame a prolific, fruit-bearing beast.




This is my new favorite jam.  Why?  It resolves my inner sweet-savory conflict and anything capable of that, earns my respect.  It puts a bright twist on breakfast and makes the morning feel extra-special.  No standard fare jam flavors here.  And is equally delicious for dessert, drizzled over ice cream.  Works just as well, if not better, spread over hearty rustic bread (walnut in particular) and accompanied with cheese, cured meats, olives and the like.  Picnic approved for summer.

Music Pairing: Ben E. King, Stand By Me


  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe figs, washed, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of figs)
  • zest of 1 lemon + small squeeze of its juice
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • pinch of kosher salt


Place figs, sugar, lemon zest + juice, Grand Marnier and salt in a non-reactive, deep pot.  Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Continue to keep mixture at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until thickened.  Keep a close eye on it to prevent jam from burning.  Gently mash fruit with a potato masher.  Spoon into favorite jam jars and allow to cool to room temperature.  Store covered in refrigerator for several weeks.


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