Somewhere Over the Rainbow Chard

I love Swiss chard, it’s one of the best greens in my opinion. It cooks up velvety and has a beautiful earthy flavor.

Rainbow chard from Malibu (more glamorous than other rainbow chard)

Rainbow chard from Malibu (more glamorous than other rainbow chard)

So I was thrilled at the Friday farmer’s market here in Topanga to discover bags overstuffed with leaves of rainbow chard — white, golden and red. The chard was grown in Malibu, so they were charging $5 for it. (Usually I have rainbow chard growing in my own garden for free, but things have lately gone fallow.) Smitten, I bought the chard anyway. More

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In a word: crappy, that’s how.

But every year come March, hope springs eternal, and I plant the spring garden.

The first of my spring greens

The first of my spring greens

Preparations for this year’s garden included fortifying it against one of last year’s greatest foes — the chickens. The very first year I put terraces in on our back hillside, it was a lost cause — the hens took over, scratching, rolling in the soft soil, sunning themselves, and nibbling young greens until nothing was left but stem. So I fenced the enclosure in. But while not acrobatic flyers, the most athletic of the chickens soon figured out they could fly up and over. So this year I extended the height another few feet with additional chicken wire. Even still, every so often I inexplicably find a chicken inside. More

The Drizzle that Makes All the Difference

There are a lot of great drizzles in the world.

A drizzle of honey over thick Greek yogurt.

A drizzle of chocolate atop an old-fashioned buttermilk donut.

A cold drizzle on a gray Parisian day that causes you to duck into a cozy bistro for a bowl of soup and a long afternoon with a bottle of wine.

But for my money, the greatest drizzle of them all, the drizzle that makes all the difference, is the drizzle of a good, fruity olive oil over a plate of pasta.

This is one of the simplest and most important cooking tips among the many I will bestow upon you here. More

The Subtle Art of Finishing

A lot of the difference between what I (the average chef) do when serving a meal and what you (the average home cook) do can be summed up, at least in terms of presentation, as the subtle art of finishing.

It takes practically nothing but a little imagination to turn a dish from ordinary to inspired. Here’s a picture of some tortilla soup:

Looks reasonably good, right? And it tasted great! But now, here’s a picture of that same soup — finished with a couple tortilla chips, some sour cream, a handful of spicy pepitas and a sprinkling of ancho chili powder. More