Chicken Pot Pie

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Chicken pot pie is my ultimate comfort food. It is one of those foods I have eaten my entire life and never seem to get sick of or grow out of. When I was younger I used to love chicken pot pie that was topped with big fluffy biscuits – not homemade biscuits but the kind that comes in a tube – you know the Pillsbury Grand biscuits? Amazing. This chicken pot pie is slightly more elevated but just as good, I promise.

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Instead of a biscuit topping this recipe calls for a filo dough topping. Filo is a dough that is made up of very thin layers and is usually used for making pastries like baklava. In this recipe the filo is layered together with melted butter and placed on top of the pot pie filling. The result is a crispy and crunchy topping that goes together perfectly with a hearty pot pie filling.

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I baked my pot pies in mini cocottes, but a Dutch oven would work just as well. Make sure to let your Dutch oven cool slightly before placing the filo topping. Also, feel free to swap the filo dough topping with puffed pastry or even those good old-fashioned Grands biscuits, either way this pot pie will be delicious.

Chicken Pot Pie
  • 7 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. chicken demi-glace
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ lb small red potatoes cut into 1?2-inch dice
  • 1 ½ lbs cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 box filo dough, thawed if frozen
  • melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and turns light brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the white wine and demi-glace. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking until smooth, and bring to a boil. Add the onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, chicken, thyme, bay leaf and a large pinch of salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are almost tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Divide filling among 8 cocottes or allow the filling to cool in the Dutch oven.

To assemble the pot pie gently unroll the filo. Cut the filo in half and use remaining filo for another use or re-freeze.

If using cocottes, cut squares large enough to cover the tops of the cocottes. Brush melted butter in between each layer, using about 10 – 15 squares per cocotte. If using Dutch oven, do not cut into squares, instead brush filo dough layers with melted butter and place on Dutch oven fanning out layers to cover the entire top of dutch oven. Trim filo if necessary.

In a small bowl whisk egg and 1 tsp. water. Brush the filo with the egg wash, sprinkle with sea salt and cut a small hole in top of filo to let steam escape.

Bake chicken pot pie until the filo is crisp and browned all over, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

TIP: This is a great make ahead recipe. You can make the filling up to 2 days before and store in the refrigerator or freeze for up 2 weeks but defrost before using. When ready to eat top the filling with filo dough, bake and enjoy!

Pickled Green Tomatoes

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Do you have food memories? Like vivid memories where you can still remember the taste of the food and how you felt at that exact moment? Well pickled green tomatoes is a serious food memory for me.

I was celebrating my dear friends’ wedding in New Orleans a couple of years ago and nursing a horrible hangover (in true New Orleans style). The next day was spent in a fog until we went to another bar (where I did not drink!) but they gave out pickled green tomatoes as bar food. It was life-changing. Salty and sweet, crispy and crunchy and utterly delicious. So good that it cured my hangover, (that and a good long nap.) To this day I still remember that pickled green tomato.

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One of the vendors at my local farmer’s market started selling green tomatoes this summer. When I saw that, I knew that I needed to re-create that recipe. What are green tomatoes you ask? Well they are just unripe tomatoes. They make their appearance starting in the late summer/early fall when temperatures dip and it becomes too cold for the tomatoes to ripen. Usually they are serve fried, which is delicious but pickled tomatoes might be my new favorite way to serve them. Plus a jar of pickled tomatoes will last way longer in the fridge than a fried tomato.

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The trick to the recipe was creating something that was salty, sweet, sour and refreshing. Sometimes pickles tend to be really sour – I wanted this pickled to be sweet as well as have some warm spice in it. The result is equal parts sugar and salt, apple cider vinegar, lots of warm spices and the secret ingredient, bourbon. I have no idea why the bourbon makes these pickles taste so darn good but it just does. But really, doesn’t bourbon make everything better anyway?


Pickled Green Tomatoes
  • 2 lbs green tomatoes
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 Tbs. salt
  • 5 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbs. bourbon

Depending on the size, slice tomatoes in half or quarters. Fill canning jar(s) with tomatoes.

In a large pot over medium high heat add vinegars, water, salt, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil and stir until well combined and salt and sugar is dissolved. Remove from stovetop and stir in bourbon. Carefully pour vinegar mixture over tomatoes. Let cool to room temperature, cover with canning jar lid and place in refrigerator.

Pickle will last about 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Italian Holiday Part 3-Tuscany


I saved the best for last. After Rome and Florence and the madness of trying to see everything and eat everywhere, we slowed WAY down for Tuscany. Way down. We rented a car in Florence and drove south to the town of Chiusi in the southwest part of Tuscany. It might have been the most gorgeous car ride of my life. Everywhere you look there is an ancient town or vineyard or those stunning Italian Cypress trees that just scream Tuscan countryside. It was magnificent.


We stayed at Poggio Pulgia an 8-room bed and breakfast that was heavenly. I literally think it was heaven on earth. It had its own olive orchard and vineyard and made its own wine and olive oil. The restaurant was delicious – so delicious that we actually ate there both nights we were in Tuscany. It also had a stunning view over the Tuscan countryside that wasn’t half bad either and after a bottle of their 8 euro amazing house wine, it was easy to find your way back to the room.


Their pasta was unreal. This cacio e pepe dish was simple and perfect. Just cheese and cracked black pepper is all I need in a pasta dish.


Sunrise over the Tuscan country side. Photo credit on this gorgeous picture goes to Luke, because I was certainly not awake for the sunrise (I was on vacation!)

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We did venture out to have lunch at Podere Il Casale an organic farm that makes it own sheep’s milk. The farm is in what seems like the middle of nowhere and requires back road driving to get there. I am not sure our rental car appreciated that, but it was a great way to see another side of the Tuscany, not just from the highway.




The farm’s restaurant is perched high on a hill with stunning views.


The food was delicious – we had some of their house made cheese and charcuterie, as well as pasta. I even made friends with an Italian donkey.



We also explored the medieval town of Montepulciano and tasted some of their delicious red wine, and had lunch another day in Pienza at a delicious pizza spot named Pummaro.

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I can’t believe that our Italian vacation has come and gone. Italy is truly a magical place that I can’t wait to go back to. Next time I want to head to Positano and see all those gorgeous colors overlooking the sea. Paris has always been my first love as a foreign city but a couple of people have asked me Rome vs. Paris what would you do? I think Paris is more of a livable city, but the people in Rome and in all of Italy are what makes that country so special. They are warm and inviting – I think I would be the same if I got to wake up and look out at the Italian countryside everyday.


I love traveling but the problem with traveling is that you realize there is so much more to see. Until I can get there, I will continue to wanderlust and dream of my next vacation.(I am thinking Morocco, anyone want to go?)

Italian Holiday Part 2 – Florence


After a couple whirlwind delicious days in Rome we took a train from Rome to Florence. The train was easy, especially when you have wine, cheese, salumi and fresh figs to tide you over. Honestly, I probably could have stayed on that train for a lot longer, watching that gorgeous Tuscan countryside whizz by.


Florence was gorgeous, romantic and historical – but very touristy. Even though I myself was a tourist I was not prepared for the amount of tourists in that city. We saw most of the major sites – the Ufitzi, the Pont de Vecchio , the Duomo, and the Acadamia. We missed the Boboli Gardens. Yours truly may have had a little meltdown in the heat -the tourists and a hangover didn’t help.


The Duomo was glorious. The pink and green marble was gorgeous. It looks like something out of a movie and completely fake (I am sensing a theme here Italy). It is hard to believe that they started building that over 700 years ago!  The inside was just a pretty.  Unfortunately we did not get a chance to climb up to the top – I bet the view was gorgeous.


Of course no trip to Florence is complete without paying your respects to the major Renaissance art that lives there (and was born there). We saw the amazing art of the Uffitzi – most notably, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus which was incredible and completely stunning. This might be one of my favorite paintings…ever. She was also really popular with all of my fellow tourists so it was hard to get a shot without the back of people’s heads.



I had never really had an appreciation for sculpture until this trip. That form of art has never really spoken to me but that all changed with the gorgeous work of Michelangelo. The David and his work in the Medici Chapel is simply stunning. So insane to think that something so beautiful could come out of a piece of rock.

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We stayed at Riva Lofts, right outside the city center. I whole heartedly recommend it. Florence was packed with tourists (did I tell you that already?) and it was HOT – so it was nice to get away from the madness. Riva Lofts is just over the main river that runs through Florence and has a pool and an outdoor area that was perfect for an afternoon drink and a dip.



Now onto where we ate and drank in Florence.

To be honest, I was not blown away by the food in Florence. (I know I feel horrible saying that!) The food was wonderful, but there was nothing that really stands out in my mind except for this amazing sandwich we grabbed just before heading to Tuscany from a random deli. I have no idea where it was or how to visit it again – but it was so simple and delicious: fresh focaccia with mozzarella, tomato and prosciutto (lots and lots of prosciutto) .

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On our first night we ate 4 Leone . It is a bit touristy but if you can sit outside, it is worth it. Located in a gorgeous piazza it looks like something straight out of a movie. Plus they served the most delicious appetizer – fresh figs with salumi. YUM! After dinner you can walk over and grab gelato from Gelateria Della Passera. Their pistachio gelato was perfection.


Il Santo Bevitore everyone raved about this restaurant. I thought the food was good, not mind-blowing but good(my standards might be too high – occupational hazard). But the ambiance was perfect. Dark and dreamy, the perfect place to get lost in a bottle of red wine.


We found this little deli in the main city center called ‘Ino that made sandwiches and sold perishable goods like local honey and sun-dried tomatoes. I brought a bunch of their products home and I can’t wait to cook with them.


There were some other random spots that we found in Florence like the Santa Maria Novella perfumery that apparently stilll sells the exact perfume that Catherine de Medici wore. The store itself is also a historical treasure – so ornate and gorgeous.


I also found the best vintage home store ever – Ub. I literally wanted everything in that store. I managed to snag a couple of food styling props because even when I am traveling I am always thinking about food photography. (I think it may be a disease)

We also saw the most remarkable sunset over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo which overlooks all of Florence. The skyline at sunset is incredible, the with Duomo rising above everything else.

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Our time in Florence was too short. I imagine that we missed a lot but that just means we will have to go back, right?  Last stop on our Italian holiday is Tuscany, saving the best for last. Stay tuned.

Italian Holiday Part 1 – Roma!


We recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Italy. It was a gorgeous, hot, delicious and an all-together wonderful trip. I had never been to Italy before and I am totally hooked. Now I know why so many people fall in love with that country. Between the food, the people, the language and the history, it is one magical place. We only had one week off from work so we tried to pack in as much as we could. First stop was Rome.

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We packed a lot, I mean A LOT into our trip to Rome. With only 2 full days there we managed to see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Campo de Fiori, the (empty) Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Piazza de Popolo, the Vatican and St. Peters. That is not even counting the food! Since our time was limited we tried to not waste a second.



Rome is pretty fascinating. One minute you are walking next to a piazza from the 1600s then the next you are walking next to Roman ruins from, 2,000 years ago. I love how the history mixes into the city seamlessly.


The Pantheon might have been my favorite spot in Rome. The fact that this structure was finished over 1900 years ago is mind-blowing. And the way that light shines through the opening at the top is just gorgeous.


That looks totally fake, right?!? That stunning ceiling is all one piece of concrete that was somehow placed on top of the structure. Again all 1900 years ago. How in the world did they do that?

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Now onto the important stuff like where we ate, drank and stayed.  We stayed at in adorable and incredibly chic apartment rental right near the Trevi Fountain called Casa Cau and I completely recommend it. The location was perfect, right in the center of the all of the sites and the owner of the apartment rental was lovely. Best part of all it is decorated with gorgeous mid-century vintage pieces that make you feel like you are living the dolce vita in the 60s. (which is where I would want to live if I could go back in time.)



For our food spots, we had a couple different points of reference. I used Elizabeth Minchilli’s book and iPhone app Eat Italy. I also used Katie Parla’s app, as well as the Wallpaper Rome guide. Between those and recommendations from friends, the food in Rome was covered. Here is where we ate:


Flavio al Velavevodetto – this was our first meal in Rome and it did not disappoint. Simple and delicious Roman food in the trendy up and coming neighborhood of Testaccio (which is where we ended up doing most of our delicious eating)

Emma Pizzeria - the perfect pizza joint right in the middle of all of the action. Steps from the Pantheon, this place has delicious pizza and a killer aperol spritz.

Porto Fluviale was our favorite restaurant experience. It was off the beaten tourist path and seemed like a place where real Romans ate and drank. I am still dreaming about their gnocchi alla trapanese and their panzanella salad. YUM!

Roscioli- I got multiple recommendations for this place. Originally it started out as a bakery but expanded into a restaurant. It was delicious but it was touristy. We sat at the bar and everyone at the bar was American. But on that note, it was really really good. They are known for their anchovies with vanilla butter, which was delicious as well as their simple pastas. I totally recommend it. Plus the bartender that served us made us a rum old-fashioned – which might have been the most delicious drink I have ever had. (Sidenote you heard it here first folks, rum is the new whiskey. Just saying)

Pizzarium – Visiting the Vatican is exhausting and overwhelming so you need pizza to fix that. Pizzarium is near Vatican City and serves the most delicious pizza with super creative toppings. Although this restaurant is standing room only, it was worth it for their pizza.

Stazione di Posta - is a wild card. Located in Testaccio in a refurbished slaughterhouse, this Michelin stared restaurant was fantastic but there are some drawbacks. Number 1 their location. It is in the most random location – right next to where they house all the poor horses for the horse and carriage rides through Rome. We also took the subway here and walking from the subway to this place might have been the sketchy thing I have done in a while. But when we got there, the restaurant was gorgeous and the food was really inventive.


Gelato – we did not eat enough gelato. To be honest I was a little embarrassed on how much we could actually eat. I cook for a living and still I was stuffed after just a couple bites of pasta. How do Italians do it? A pasta course AND a main course? I think it requires years and years of training or else we are just wimps. We did check out Fatamorgana and it was delicious. But I am also pretty sure that every other gelato place in Rome is delicious – you can’t go wrong.


Chill Bar at the Casina Valadier- the world’s worst name for a gorgeous bar and restaurant that overlooks the city near the Spanish Steps but an amazing view and delicious cocktails. Also, I love the fact they give your free appetizers, namely hunks of delicious Parmesan cheese.





One of my favorite stops in all of Rome was the Campo di Fiori – an air farmer’s market that has been around for hundreds of years.


We woke up early (or at least early for Rome) and walked over to this market. It was filled with the most beautiful produce. We grabbed some fresh figs and peaches (and a bottle of wine) before hoping on a train to Florence. Because when in Rome, right!?

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Up next – Italy Part 2 in Florence.

Summertime Pasta

Sorry for my absence around these parts the past couple weeks. This past summer was busy! Great busy but still busy. We just got back from an amazing trip to Italy – more on that trip in a future post once I round-up all my photos. But first the important things, like pasta. I have been dreaming of pasta these days. I proved to myself in Italy I could eat pasta everyday and all day – I can’t help myself. Instead of hearty pasta with meat sauce I have been craving easy one-dish pastas that take advantage of the simple summer season and all of its fresh flavors. And yes I still consider it summertime, especially with the 90 degree heat that is hitting the Bay Area. So until the weather changes, it is still summer! In celebration of summer and all of the produce that is at its peak right now, this summertime pasta is just that – a bowl of pasta goodness that is filled with garlic, tomatoes, basil and of course, Parmesan cheese.


I used to think that pasta needed a big heavy sauce to go with it. Something like a Bolognese or marinara (which are delicious don’t get me wrong) but after sampling pasta dishes all over Italy, I much prefer a simple flavorful pan sauce. Plus they are way easier to make.


This pasta’s pan sauce gets its flavors from sautéing shallots and garlic, then deglazing the pan with a little wine. By adding in cheese, butter and lemon zest, you have a delicious sauce that will highlight the pasta and the blistered tomatoes that top the dish. Make sure to add enough salt – the right amount of salt will take this dish from tasty to perfection.




Summertime Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb pasta, such as spaghetti or fettuccine
  • 2 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
  • 2 Tbs. basil or mint, julienned
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes, optional

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the label instructions until al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta water before draining and set aside (tossing with a little olive oil if needed to prevent sticking.)

Warm 2 Tbs. olive oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have started to wilt and blister about 5 minutes. Remove tomatoes and their juices from pan and set aside.

In the same pot, warm remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook for about 1 minute until shallot is translucent. Carefully deglaze the pan with white wine and continue cooking until the wine is reduced halfway, about 2 minutes. Add a large pinch of salt and turn the heat to low. Add lemon zest, butter, and cheese and stir until butter is melted. Add pasta and coat with pan sauce, adding reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Fold in tomatoes, herbs and a large pinch of salt and pepper

Serve immediately with more Parmesan cheese.

How to Build a Cheese Board


I love a good cheese board. A perfect meal to me is a simple as a nice glass of wine and a bunch of different cheeses. A gorgeous cheeseboard is also a great centerpiece for entertaining because it allows guests to customize their own appetizer. People often ask me how to build a cheese board so I thought I will share my go to tips on how to build the perfect cheese board.


-An easy way to start building a cheese board is by starting with a goat, cow and sheep’s cheese.

-I also like to vary texture by choosing a soft, hard and creamy cheese and if there are a lot of people sharing the cheeseboard, I will also serve a blue cheese.

-When shopping for the cheese, I estimate 1 – 2 oz of cheese per person.

-Don’t just put cheese on the board – add flavor and color by serving things like almonds, candied walnuts, honey, quince paste, slices of fresh fruit, cured meats and olives along with the cheese. I also like to serve with different crostini, crackers and sliced vegetables.

-Make sure to let the cheese sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving, this will allow the flavors of the cheese to shine through.



Honey Roasted Figs

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The recipes I am cooking these days are simple and easy. Mostly because summer produce is in full swing and less is more when you have ripe, juicy, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. One of the most seasonal fruits are figs. Figs don’t travel well and are best eaten within a couple days of being picked. I had some extra figs floating around my kitchen so I decided to roast them with honey and top some vanilla ice cream with these delicious warm treats.

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Whenever I have a fruit or vegetable I can’t eat before it is past its prime, I either pickle them or roast them. Since pickled figs didn’t sound too appealing, I decided to roast my left over figs with honey – the result is a deliciously warm caramelized treat that goes perfectly with ice cream. Come to think of it, these honey roasted figs would also go well in a breakfast bowl with greek yogurt, granola and some toasted walnuts.

If you can’t get your hands on figs, feel free to swap any seasonal ripe fruit. I love roasted strawberries and roasted peaches.


Honey Roasted Figs
  • 1 pint ripe figs, cut in half and stems removed
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil (or any flavorless oil)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • vanilla ice cream, pistachios and mint

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, toss figs halves with canola oil. Place figs on a baking sheet. Drizzle honey over figs and place in oven. Roast figs for 10 -15 minutes or until figs are caramelized and slightly wilted.

Serve with ice cream, chopped pistachios and mint.