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As part of my Valentine’s pressie to S, I decided to make a big ol’ romantic stew.

Now, stew may not necessarily conjure images of  lovey-dovey couples and island vacations, but I sincerely believe that when that stew involves lobster tails and fresh Dungeness crab and slow-simmered tomatoes, you’re definitely getting in the ballpark. So that’s what I made – a little Cioppino for my fella on this Valentine’s day…

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It’s freezing.

I realize that’s a relative term, considering I’m in California and California cold is in no way comparable to, say, New York cold (which I don’t miss at all – I’m looking at you frostbitten toes and $400 heating bills). But nevertheless, San Francisco temps can definitely dip down onto the less attractive side of 55F and when this unfortunate event occurs, all mama wants is soup.

Such is my current situation. I want soup! And not just any soup… A hearty, soul-warming, brothy soup with earthy flavors and heavenly aromatics. Thanks to Ms. Smitten Kitchen (genius strikes yet again), I found just the soup in the following recipe! A delightfully simple concoction with surprisingly complex flavors… a mushroom barley soup to end all mushroom barley soups…

Started out by rehydrating a few dried porcinis (just threw them in a bowl and covered with about 1 cup of boiling water). Set those bad boys aside I tended to the rest. Heated up a bit of olive oil in my LeCreuset and sautéed a roughly chopped carrot and a roughly chopped onion for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

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This year, my mom and my sister came out to San Francisco to spend Christmas at my house and it was glorious! We went to see the Nutcracker. We walked all over the city. My little sister and I went vintage shopping. And, for the first time ever, I hosted Christmas dinner!

I knew that there were going to be a few guidelines in preparing a holiday dinner for my mom and sis. My mom likes hearty, warm, sustaining things… comfort food. My sister hates fish and mushrooms. But we all like pork, so it was easily decided that I’d make a Mustard-Crusted Pork Roast with Shallots and Wine Sauce. For all the fancy that this name suggests, this was totally one of the easiest pork situations I’ve encountered!

Started out with a gorgeous 4.5 pound pork rib roast, lovingly Frenched by the nice man at Whole Foods…

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This year, I decided that I would not make a turkey. Flat out – no turkey. It was just going to be the two of us and I actually am one of the few people on this planet who has no affinity for leftover turkey sandwiches. So I went a different route… Cornish Game Hens and a whole mess of sides!

So settle in for Thanksgiving 2010… Cornbread -Stuffed Cornish Game Hens, Corn Maque Choux, Garlicky Broccoli Rabe, Butternut Squash Mash and Cranberry Sauce.

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Good lord, do I love fried.

Fried meats, fried ice cream, fried veg. If it’s fried, chances are I’m going to love it. The following is absolutely no exception. Behold, my easy-peasy, I’ve got a freezer full of chicken breasts and not much else weeknight dinner: Chicken Milanese and Escarole Salad w/ Pickled Onions!

This dinner is ridiculously easy, and even more ridiculously delicious. Started out with two skinless, boneless chicken boobs, seasoning them generously with sea salt and cracked pepper.

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I never just photograph the finished product, but I was tired the day I made the following recipe and couldn’t be bothered to break out the SLR! Please enjoy this image of Chicken Makhani (or Butter Chicken).

Recipe after the jump!

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It was warm(ish) and summery(ish) last weekend, so a couple o’ my ladyfriends decided to throw a potluck BBQ at the park. I’m never one to turn down a potluck (not to mention that the mere mention of charcoal-grilled meats gets my heart all a-tizzy), so I RSVP’d “hell to the yes” and set about making a suitable side dish.

I knew I wanted to make something green and fresh, but I wanted something a little more interesting than the standard mixed greens with bottled dressing situation. So I combed the blogosphere and came up with a Green Bean & Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salad!

Started out by topping & tailing about 1 lb of green beans…

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The other night, I felt like cookin’ up a big fancyish dinner, so I invited one of my favorite SF couples over for an impromptu mini-dinner party. The menu consisted of the following:

Smoky Fish Chowder w/ Chorizo
Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Crème
Macarons w/ Raspberry Ganache

As you can probably imagine, the chowder was definitely the easiest, so I’ll start with that one!

This is yet another Real Simple recipe (with modified spicing of course), tomato-based, one-pot & utterly delicious! I was smart this time and procured myself some tasty Spanish Chorizo, which is the dried/cured type that usually comes with the ends tethered together. The chorizo imbued the  broth with a lovely spiciness that raw chorizo just can’t provide. So I’m officially converted – cured chorizo for stews from here on out!

Started out by preparing the ingredients… One package of Spanish chorizo, about 8 oz, sliced…

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For whatever reason, I’ve been gaga for veggies lately. Specifically radishes, leafy green things (oh, hello escarole…) and now… cucumbers! Cucumbers are just so fresh and quenching – they’re great when it’s hot & humid outside. But, reality check, I live in San Francisco and it’s practically never hot and/or humid. So I decided to try out a little cuke recipe I’ve been dying to try since Julie & Julia… braised cucumbers!

The idea of cooking/baking cucumbers had never crossed my mind before – I basically just considered them as salad adornment or for dippin. Oh, was I misguided…

Started out with a couple o’ cucumbers… Julia Child’s recipe calls for a whopping 6 cukes, but sweets, there’s no way my fella and I could ingest that many cucumbers in one sitting. So I cut the recipe to a third.

Peeled them…

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It’s getting to be summertime-ish and despite the utter lack of tanktop weather & balmy nights here in San Francisco, I can still reap the benefits of one distinctly summertime occurrence… corn on the cob! Deliciously sweet & fresh corn from farms that are barely an hour away from my house.  And since the supply of corn is so bountiful, it’s ludicrously cheap right now. Seriously, yesterday’s corn put me out a grand total of 50 cents.

I don’t have all that many original recipes in my personal arsenal – I’m mostly a tweaker, an editor at best. But I came up with this little recipe for a solid & easy summer side for those of us poor souls who don’t have a grill (or more importantly, an outdoor space in which to grill, tear…). I’ve made this corn probably somewhere in the vicinity of 3,871 times and it’s consistently yummers – even my dad (who’s idea of a culinary compliment is, “this shit ain’t half good!”) raves about it!

Check it!

Started out with two ears of corn, shucked and rubbed with butter, placed on individual squares of foil…

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Hi, I’m Lauriebot!

I live in San Francisco. I used to live in NYC, Washington DC, and London.

I like to take the pictures.

I like color, excess, food, light, clothes, and going places.

I also like talking to people.

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