Balsamic Grilled Figs on Lemon-Ricotta Toast

For some reason I've always struggled with breakfast. Never really being a fan of sickly sweet cereals first thing in the morning - with the execption of Fruity Pebbles or Lucky Charms when I was 7 - I'm that person who will reach for the day-old cold spaghetti or the piece of grilled salmon my youngest daughter refused to eat for dinner the evening before.

As of late, my go-to breakfast has been a fried egg on wheat toast with Tabasco sauce. Every single day for six months. I'm retiring the egg, but keeping the toast.

Looking for inspiration I headed to Bi-Rite Market, a San Francisco favorite for locally sourced produce and meats.

Here's what ended up in my basket:

  • Sheep's milk ricotta
  • Fresh figs
  • Micro greens
  • A loaf of molasses oatmeal bread
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • One bottle of California-made citrus vodka (more on that in an upcoming post)
  • Gum
  • Lemons

With the exception of the vodka and gum, I put together what I think is a spectacular piece of toast that has put my egg and Tabasco to shame.

Grilled figs are my favorite, and can be prepared a day ahead using an outdoor grill or a grill pan on the stove. However, any fruit of your choice will suffice, caramelized pears, apples or even your favorite jam. This "toast" is fantastic any time of the day, an afternoon nibble with tea or an evening snack with a glass of dry white wine.


serves 2

  • 1 cup fresh sheep's milk ricotta cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 fresh figs, halved
  • coconut oil spray
  • 3 tbs aged balsamic vinegar
  • 4, 1" thick slices of wheat bread, toasted 
  • 1 cup micro-greens
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste
  • drizzle of honey (optional)

Combine ricotta cheese and lemon zest and let sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium high, brush figs with 1 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar, then spray with a bit of coconut oil to prevent them from sticking. Grill until caramelized, about 1 minute per side.

Toast bread and top with ricotta cheese, micro-greens, grilled figs and salt & pepper to taste. Top with remaining balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey for a touch more sweetness if desired.

Simple Bolognese Sauce


When I was a child, Sunday dinners at my father's house were always quite interesting. Gather 12 or so Italian family members into a dining room, let them eat, let them drink and watch the sparks fly. I spent those afternoons observing...

I was sure Uncle Jim was in the Mob because he wore shiny shirts and had tattoos. Uncle Sonny and Aunt Anna were at odds because, well, just because. Cousin Christopher always had a new leggy girlfriend. One usually less bright than the other. There were heated arguments over who had the best ricotta pie recipe. It was fun to watch.

But the one thing we were all gathered there for was the food. My Dad was a fantastic cook, and his version a meat sauce or the "Sunday Gravy" as we called it was a simple tomato sauce with plenty of garlic and basil. The gravy was slow cooked for a least half a day with a couple of pork chops, meatballs or a braciole, then served over homemade egg pasta. It was my favorite meal as a kid.

I still prepare the Sunday gravy, but the bolognese sauce has made its way into my repitoire, becoming more popular with my kids. This is a great sauce for fall, although as I write this it's a balmy 66 degrees here in San Francisco. Serve over pasta or use it to make lasagna.

This sauce is pretty basic. Combine all of the ingredients, then just wait. The longer it cooks the more flavorful it becomes. I prefer this the next day but if you want to, uncork a bottle of Chianti and yell at each other while it simmers away.

Organic Egg Pasta


makes 6 cups

  • 1 medium yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 2 small carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, rough chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 oz pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2  28 oz cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup homemade or low-sodium beef or chicken broth
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor pulse onion, carrot, celery and garlic until finely diced. You can do this by hand as well.

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, heat olive and butter over medium -high heat, add pancetta and cook until slightly browned, mix in vegetables and cook until softened. Add ground beef and cook until well browned and extra moisture has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds. 

Pour in white wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add tomatoes, milk,  1 c of broth and stir well. Cover and cook over low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt & pepper. Serve over egg pasta.


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Apparently my cooking has gone to the dogs. Quite literally.

After baking a couple of loaves of pumpkin bread yesterday I was left with some extra pumpkin puree, and instead of adding it straight into the dogs food as I usually do, I was a bit more adventurous and decided to bake them treats. Lucky dogs...

Our furry friends deserve to be fed healthy treats, and what better way to show your adoration for them then to bake a batch yourself. You'll be the envy of all of those other dog owners who just open a box of dry, tasteless oatmeal-hemp nuggets, tossing them to the floor while Fido looks up in disgust.

These dog treats taste pretty great, I know because I've sampled them and my kids have eaten one or two, even asking for more. For the record I said no. They were also a huge hit with my dogs, Mango and Guava. No need to worry about the shape, if your dogs are anything like mine they'd be quite content to eat the dough straight out of the bowl.

Resist the urge to add salt or sweeteners - you might like them but your dog doesn't need them. If you happen to have your dog on a wheat free diet, you can substitute almond flour for the whole wheat flour.


makes 25 cookies

  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbs natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, extra for dusting

Preheat oven to 300°

In a medium bowl combine pumpkin puree, peanut butter and eggs until well combined.

Stir in flours and mix until dough is thoroughly combined and no longer sticky. On a marble slab or wax paper, dust with wheat flour and roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut into your preferred shapes and transfer to parchment lined sheet pans and bake for 30 minutes. Store cookies in airtight container. They'll keep for two weeks.