The Happy Tummy

for the love of food

Cooking on the Weekend

On free weekends I like to cook and cook and cook.

The end of summer is yes for butternut squash sage ravioli. I was a bit burnt out on scratch-making pasta, so I substituted wonton skins. Not bad, and less time consuming. Semolina flour helps dry them out a bit so they don’t stick to one another.

Warm beet salad also says end of summer to me – relatively light but still hearty. It’s like its got one foot in summer and one foot in fall. Straddling.

Grilled pork tenderloin, butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sage sauce, and caramelized beet salad with almonds, goat cheese, raw red onion and balsamic vinaigrette.

I charred some eggplant and red bell pepper while the pork tenderloin was going, removed the peels and blended them with some sauteed yellow onion and garlic clove. With a dollop of Greek yogurt in the middle, it made for an excellent dip with pita chips. It would also be a great sandwich spread, maybe with some cucumber, sprouts, avocado and hummus. I’ll have to try that later.

And because one can never have enough dips, heirloom tomato salsa with white onion, garlic, jalepeno and lime juice.

As summer winds down my bf’s parents find themselves with a bounty of yard-grown vegetables, particularly tomatoes. A classic caprese salad is one of my favorite ways to eat them. Try it with burrata instead of mozzarella (mozz was used here) for something super luscious. The basil comes from the herb garden.

Squash and zucchini are also in abundance in the back yard, and succotash is becoming one of my new favorites. The trick (well, a trick) is to add a teaspoon or two of finely chopped marjoram. It’s a flavor that makes people go, WTF is that? but in a good way.

Goes well with dill mashed potatoes and spice-rubbed pork tenderloin.


It continues to be one of my three favorite meals of the day. Breffast.

I’m not loving cheesy scrambled eggs right now, but my bf is. I topped his with thick grates of pepper jack.

The gravlax did not go to waste, either.

The mood for baking recently took a hold of me, and since it doesn’t happen very often, I went with it. The result was these cranberry lime scones, tender-crumbly and excellent with a thick layer of butter and fruit preserves.

This was today’s breakfast: cardamom-scented flapjacks with an assortment of toppings, including my favorite kind of syrup, the fake stuff. Why would you consume real Canadian maple syrup when you can have artificial thick melted sugar from Mrs. Butterworth (or, in my case, the off-brand store version)?

Check out this other breakfast too.

Perfect Breakfast

It’s a fact.

2% Greek yogurt (non-fat is non-fun), blackberries, toasted chopped almonds and a drizzle of honey. C’est parfait.

Three-Day Weekend

It’s always fun to have visitors at our out-of-the-way home, especially on a relaxed three-day weekend.

Frozen grapes are a fine way to cool wine without watering it down.

I don’t typically think to eat a hot dish for summer’s lunch, but this tortellini soup was surprisingly light and satisfying with an herby ricotta filling and scratch-made broth. The dough was scratch-made too.

The barbecue sauce on the babyback ribs had pasilla chiles and dried cranberries – smoky, sweet and tangy. I’m typically too lazy to make my own sauce, but this may become a trend.

Cheesy, chivey twice-baked potatoes are great friends with just about any barbecue dish.


We recently went to Jamie’s in Sacramento for the first time because Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, to which I am addicted, told us to. Here is what we had:

That’s a steak sandwich topped with onion rings. That’s a perfectly-cooked New York steak sandwich topped with crispy hot onion rings. Just giving you two sentences there, to choose from.

The special that day (one of many) was a mixed seafood grill served almost like cioppino – in a perfectly herbed tomato sauce, finished with a lash of heavy cream. The seafood: halibut, scallops, prawns and a generous heaping of crab.

Jamie’s is actually Jamie’s Broadway Grille, with an e, for extra points (no one is keeping track of those points). Regardless of its pedigreed name, Jamie’s has the dark, jolly feeling of a dive, and their drinks do not lie. They.Don’t.Lie.

Fettuccini with Summer Squash

I’ve been wanting to cook something like this for some time, so when I recently came into some garden-grown summery squash, I went for it, with gusto.

I made the pasta fresh, and sliced three different kinds of yellow gourds in a mandoline, expertly managing to not slice myself*. The veggies were par-boiled for a hot minute, then shocked in an ice bath. The simple sauce is minced garlic, white wine and heavy cream, reduced, and finished with lots of parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.

They key to any good pasta dish, no matter how simple or elaborate, is to move the al dente pasta directly from from the salted boiling water to the simmering sauce. Sauté for some minutes, and the sauce will not only adhere much better but will also absorb into the pasta as it finishes cooking. Then you can impress your friends by fancily flip-tossing the pasta with the pan. Friends love to be impressed!

*The first time I used a mandoline I went to the hospital. It was icky.

This Pizza > That Pizza

My hermano and I recently dined at our local Patxi’s (don’t try, not worth the mouth-pain) Pizza. He gets his panties all in an uproar about deep-dish pizza; I do not. It looks pretty good here, though.

I continue to maintain that the world’s best pizza is Roundtable – it is,  literally, the last honest pizza. Countless friends and peers agree (approx. 4), and it’s become my go-to dining establishment whenever I touch down on American soil after an extended absence. It.Is.So.Fucking.Good. Even better when slathered in ranch.

I don’t understand New York-style pizza. It’s very floppy.

Mango Salsa

The other day at the Mercado Loco, an hombre taught me how to choose a mango: find the reddest one. Reddest = sweetest.

So: avocado, mango, jalapeno, shallot and black beans. Stir ’em up and wow your friends at your next MexiCali-themed party! Or pair with your favorite tequila and consume solo. There’s no shame in a one-person party.

Pancakes, the Thin Kind

My dad used to get up early on Saturday mornings to make us a ton of thin, “Swedish-style”* pancakes. They’re crêpe-ier than your average American short stack, and it’s fun to fill them with syrup or fruit preserves and roll them into a roll. I used this recipe, amended.

Don’t be afraid to put a piece of bacon inside the pancake with your sweet filling – a life lived in fear is a life half lived. I do it with Greek yogurt and Bonne Maman blueberry preserves. Also works with syrup.

The trick is to incorporate stiff-peaked egg whites to the flour and milk batter to get a creamy center. Also cardamom is pretty important. I actually think cardamom is about to blow up. I’ve been seeing it all over the place recently – ice creams, other stuff. You name it.

*I’ll have you know that I resent this term.

Salmon Pasta and a Spinach Salad

Creamy salmon pasta with peas and dill is for when you don’t mind eating something pretty fatty. It’s also fresh and delicious, so just think about that part, and not the other thing.

Spinach salad with freshly hulled strawberries, crispy bacon and poppyseed dressing is also excellent, and actually is a nice compliment to the salmon pasta. It can also become a meal of its own with the addition of some chopped hard-boiled egg.

I should also mention that the pasta is hollow. Hollow! It is thus more fun to eat.

It’s called perciatelli, and it’s great for cream sauces and thinner tomato sauces. The sauces adhere to it. Oh, how they adhere.