MALIBU, California

MALIBU, California

Monday, April 30, 2012

I have noticed a lot of Vegetarian and Vegan recipe books don't use whole wheat flours in their baked goods

I always use as much stone ground, organic flours as I can especially in baking as this is when the flavors really stands out.
I love whole wheat breads and even cakes..tomorrow I am making individual Dutch Apple pies..butter rich and whole wheat crust and shortbread topping over 3 types of  apples, Granny Smiths, Macintosh and Rome cooked slowly in brown sugar and butter with orange juice from a friends tree.
Spices added are cinnamon and allspice, they were to have raisins but one of my clients can't digest dried fruit.

Also the breads have come out the oven, and cooled down and they will be wrapped and delivered tomorrow ( it is better with whole wheat breads for them to  be baked the day before delivery and then allowed to develop their flavors night here so it works better).

the whole wheat sour dough breads ( the sour dough starter is 4 yrs old and was grown from an own grown apple)

buttery caramelizing apples in brown sugar, and  wild orange juice

here are a few photos more to follow tomorrow prior to delivery

Saturday, April 28, 2012

From my garden to you

Georgia Peace Rose

yucca with rain drops

Highly scented Sterling Silver Roses..great for making rose petal icecream

seedlings planted out today

seedlings planted out 3 weeks ago

"patio" tomatoes grow well in pots
beautiful yellow gold hibiscus

Peach Palace Rose buds

just planted out my heirloom Italian salad tomatoes now have over 6 varieties for the summer recipes and even more broccoli to pick!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Travels to the Persian Gulf..back story

My first trip to Kuwait caught me  by surprise as I wasn't supposed to be going, but my boss's plans changed and I was given just 3 days notice that we'd be leaving London.
I had spent the previous 6 months in Sydney Australia, so my passport luckily was up to date.
Having never been and not knowing what to pack, I put a bit of everything in my suitcase..shorts T shirts, jeans, black pants and aprons, with just 2 pairs of shoes, and some swimming trunks for lounging on the beach....I had been told their houses/compounds were on the beach of the Persian Gulf.
We traveled by private jet,  and as I found out, I was to prepare food in the galley en route.
It was the smallest galley I had every worked in and found the best way to operate in there safely was to do it kneeling down..I couldn't stop laughing and neither could the family.
The seating in the plane was all light caramel colored suede and as well as sleeping quarters there was also a shower and bathrooms, all the seats faced eachother and were along side the fuselage ( like on a double decker bus) nobody had their back to anyone.
We had to re-fuel in Corfu and Beirut,  in Beirut as we had to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables.( nothing then was grown, except dates, in Kuwait, it was just oil fields) Cars and trucks met us on the air strip, and I could see planes bombing the hillsides..this was in the late 70's.
From Beirut we flew to Kuwait City, we had left a cold and damp Luton Airport, London and arrived in 120f and a sandstorm at 11pm.

On disembarking the plane, I was told to help carry some of the family's items to the waiting fleet of limos, my luggage would be brought by their Kuwaiti staff.
The family went ahead as I carried objects to the waiting limo, the things I was carrying were 2 solid silver ostrich statues, their bodies being made from ostrich eggs, each about 3ft I had 6 white panama hats on top of my head so they wouldn't get crushed in the cars.
Somehow I took a wrong turn, (the sand was in my eyes every 2 minutes, and the hats kept slipping down) and I found myself face to face with a soldier with a rifle pointing at me and he was asking me for something, eventually I understood the word passport.
It was then I realized the family had gone ahead with my passport.
When I tried to put the silver birds down, he got more agitated, so I just said "no passport"!
More soldiers came over and soon I had a crowd around me, all jabbering away at the same time.
Suddenly I said the name of the family, it was like something out of the movie Lawrence of Arabia, hundreds of men in white disdashas ( white, full length cotton robes that they wear on a daily basis) suddenly moved en masse, it was like the parting of the Red Sea. ( somewhere around this time I realized I was the only person in the airport in western clothes.. Jeans!)
The soldiers lowered their guns and saluted me.
A path was opened up, and I saw a driver from one of the limo's ( he had a white shirt and black trousers) running towards me to hustle me into his car.
I joined a fleet of 6 limos( for the food and luggage). As we drove away from the airport, all I could see were miles and miles of complete dark desert, lights from the airport and lights from Kuwait City, but  more darkness than lights, what I had got myself into?..I suddenly realized that the family that I was joking with on the plane, serving them dinner on my knees, and constantly threw out of "my kitchen" in their houses in London were something pretty special here halfway across the world!
This family was special in many more ways, a very nice family who believed in the hard work ethic, and played as hard as they worked.
I had some very happy and memorable times with them all over the world, but this first trip to Kuwait was a wonderful eye opener for me.
Next week for May 1st I am creating some salads using lentils and couscous, and some great chickpea soup..some of these remind me of my times in Kuwait.
More fun tales to follow but the best bits will be in my dirt on anyone but some very interesting & funny facts/happenings concerning food and the people I have met  during my travels around the world via a kitchen sink & a knife set

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I lived in Juan-ls-pins, South of France for the summers of 1975-79, working on different sized private yachts starting with a 90ft all the way up to a 200ft+.
The first Yacht  in 1975 was my introduction to the " jet set scene" as it was in the mid 70's.
Movie stars were shoulder to shoulder with "the rest of us"..these were the hey days without any paparrazi..I even saw Princess Grace of Monaco just walking in the street in Monte Carlo one afternoon (when our yacht had moored at the port, and I was off shopping for dinner!).

These "hey day" days summers were some of the best of my life...touring the Greek Islands for 9 weeks, literally island hopping, in some bays being the only yacht for miles.,
Visiting the Vatican and touring Rome as we waited for one of the yachts to be repaired,

The largest yacht had 2 full sized speed boats ( most yachts had small dingy's or dory's) and it's own full sized helicopter ( seated 4) complete with pilot..for just nipping to the store!

It was from one of these yachts that I found myself at the Casino, in Juan, being taught the joys of backgammon by Omar Sherrif...(I still can't play for toffee!), but this evening was not far from the one where Fred Astaire was in town promoting That's Entertainment Part 2 for the Cannes Film Festival, and without knowing how, I managed to find myself not 4 ft away from the great man..who was also enjoying one of  the wonderful sunsets over the Plage of Cannes (beach).

The Jazz Festival also brought loads of celebrity folks to town, but as usual I only found out afterwards who I had been joking with.

The lavender scented hills of Provence also bear some of the best tomatoes, bell peppers & eggplants, on the planet, which is why I am making some fabulous slow cooked ratatouille, with red wine, large Italian eggplant, red onion, garlic, thyme, zucchini, roasted Roma tomatoes,deep red peppers, and when it is totally sodden with flavor, adding blanched hericots vert & fresh parsley and chopped French lavender just to add more texture..fabulous.

Also a simple soup called Potage Maigre..usually served around Lent in France, a simple soup of good broth, lettuce, cucumber and leeks ( I also added some fresh young asparagus),
A Greek style soup finished with spinach fresh dill & lemon zest, potatoes, celery, tomatoes, onions, oregano and thyme.
 And good old Minestrone, minus the pasta I added new potatoes instead.

A Spanish style vegetable stew with artichokes and asparagus, and red skinned Yukon Gold potatoes..finished with smoked paprika

A Masala Indian themed stew with chillies and turmeric, garam masala, fresh garlic and ginger with eggplant, broccoli and bok choy..this is a great thick and spicy stew, great over steamed orange rice.

the large "Italian" eggplants need salting to remove the bitter juices

the Spanish Style stew base

the Minestrone soup base

raw ingredients for Potage Maigre

the previous 2 packaged Potage Maigre
roasted peppers and tomatoes for the ratatouille

slow simmer is the best way with this dish

large carrots add texture and flavor to all soups

Red skinned Yukon Gold potatoes
Smoked Paprika added to Spanish Style Stew

lemon zest on Greek style Lemon- spinach soup

Minestrone topped with fresh parsley and purple basil
Beet, new potato,lime and mint salad with fennel

Spanish Style stew

I found some great small red beets at the market yesterday and I am making some great beet and potato salad with fresh lime juice and zest, vegan mayonnaise ( egg and soy free), red onion and fresh can be made also with yogurt, but I prefer the mayo as it keeps it's shape better.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another storm is headed our way..time to prepare the gardens

We are expecting another April storm tomorrow, to last 2 days, so I am busy getting my gardens ready.
We in Southern California, have had a very mild winter and our rainy season has been more disappointing than usual, we don't get rain much..some months we never see any as has been the case of this past winter.
Today it is going to be a mild 70f
So when a down pour is forecast it is the time for home gardeners, to water their plants and add fertilizers the day before, this way the rain will actually soak further into the ground and allow for deep watering ( something we cannot do with a hose pipe) the rain hits the fertilizer it breaks down more evenly than again with a hose, and actually penetrates further into the soil, rather than being washed off when rain hits dry land.

I always use organic fertilizer and sometimes fish fertilizer( especially the fish at the end of winter)

Olive oil works well on palm trees..add 2 tbsp to a gallon of water and allow it to soak into the soil, but do not pour directly onto the stem of the palm.

Add used, cold, coffee grounds or a can of regular cola ( the sugar is important for the plant) & equal part of cold water on Azaleas..add again before the storm as they like acid soil.

Roses like potassium, so placing old banana skins around the bases helps roses are big & fabulous with this milder winter..the summer heat of 100f+ burns them, but they survive

It is important to grow flowers alongside vegetables as they attract the insects that are needed for tomatoes, beans, peas, citrus etc...Like the old English Cottage garden, which always thrived, also in this hot climate they also help to cover the ground and keep the moisture in.

This morning I was visited by 2 green hummingbirds and 1 of my 5 fat squirrels..enjoy the photographs ..before the storm

Air Plants blooming..they need no soil and don't attach to any plant

French Lavender

(2) Palace Peach Roses

Beautifully fragrant Sterling Silver Roses

First time I have ever had salad tomatoes ( grown from seed) ripening in April!

Spanish Lavender

Italian Heirloom "Blue" broccoli

(L)English Thyme Flowering (R) Culinary Sage flowering both are loved by the hummingbirds
The "Calla Lilies are in bloom"

Satsuma Kumquat

I don't know the name of this tropical it was 4 inches high when I bought it..I love the way the shiny leaves open in clumps, growing alongside white ginger
Peach Palace Rose, no fragrance but long last blooms