Have you ever been to Hog Island? It’s not an island, and there aren’t any hogs (at least any more), but it’s totally magical.

My family took the winding roads up to Point Reyes this past weekend — coolers full of cheese, salumi and wine in the trunk — to celebrate my mom’s birthday with fresh oysters.

photo 2Tomales Bay is known for its rich oyster fields. It has just the right blend of elements from Mother Nature to produce tons of salty, delicious oysters. I actually thought oysters were pretty gross until I came here for the first time. It’s hard to resist a freshly shucked oyster that’s been harvested just a few hours earlier — especially when topped with Hog Island’s delicious mignonette.

1My mom got there early and snagged us a spot right along the water. The grill was covered with crispy chicken sausages by the time I got there.

UntitledI love how their oyster bar looks like the hull of an old boat.

Untitled 2Our motley crew!

Untitled 3Just a small part of our smörgasbord — oysters, sausage, olives (my mom is obsessed), cheese, wine, quinoa salad, salumi, roasted beets and a berry tart to finish it all off.

photo 4Cheers! Hope your weekend was lovely as well.


PS: Check out Hog Island’s site for more info on their Tomales, San Francisco and Napa locations.

PPS: Post 300! Can you believe it? 

brussel salad

 My food processor has changed my life.

I really wanted to make this brussels Caesar style salad last night. Pre food processor, this would’ve taken me a million years. Grating the cheese, shaving the brussels sprouts, etc.

Post food processor, a grand total of 15 minutes.

I’m not exaggerating. This includes making the dressing. Accompanied by a sandwich with some leftover roast chicken from the weekend (recipe for that coming soon), it was the perfect, quick weeknight meal.

Faux Caesar brussels sprouts salad:
As many brussels sprouts as you want, shaved. You can do this with a mandolin, but I used an attachment on my food processor to slice this thinly in about 5 minutes. I know raw brussels sprouts sounds kind of weird at first, but trust me, they’re delicious.

1/2 red onion, chopped finely

Shaved parmesan

Faux Caesar dressing:
1/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 crushed garlic clove, a sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, juice from one lemon, olive oil, a tablespoon of parmesan

Combine all of the ingredients until the brussels sprouts are coated well with dressing. That’s it! Really. And it’s delicious/healthy.

I love the way people write about food.
Especially in recipes.

Untitled 2

The word choice in recipes is so perfectly descriptive — maybe because food captures so many of our 5 senses. It makes it a bit easier to find just the right way to say something. I’ve collected a few of my favorites from several food blogs I love. Bon appétit!

twist the peel to express its oils

scrape the fond from the bottom

slice whisper thin

sauté until tender

fold in the vegetables

zest and supreme oranges

followed by a generous heap

drizzle half the cream

save some of the plumped up blossoms

bake until very deeply golden

until you get a touch of browning

sprinkle with scallions

spike with a bit of lemon juice

most will be little nubs

it should hiss and sputter

dollop each with cumin yogurt

12 Photos of Christmas

(I know, I know. It’s the second week of January. But better late than never, right?)


1. Yearly Scrabble game at Mom’s IMG_3366

2. Prosciutto wrapped pear + grape saladIMG_3368

3. Mom’s antipasti plateIMG_3347

4. Our stockings that we’ve all had since we were babies. IMG_3383

5. Standard. IMG_3359

6. Seth playing with his food (pre-cooking, of course). IMG_3363

7. Isn’t my sister beautiful?IMG_3360

8. Post-present mess at Dad’s. IMG_3391

9. Miso warming up by the fireplace. IMG_3388

10. Salad + our favorite photo of Papa. He looked so much like Seth! IMG_3394

11. Potato gratin waiting to be served. IMG_3399

12. Beef tenderloin, my dad’s traditional Christmas meal, right out of the oven. IMG_3398

Last Friday, the weather was gross. It was that unfortunate type of drizzle that never fully develops into rain. And it was bitterly cold, too.

Not too much fun to be outdoors in that, so for me, it was the perfect excuse to stay in. Kelly and I put National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on (an all time favorite) and I whipped up a pumpkin black bean soup that I’ve been wanting to make. 

soup2It was surprisingly easy, and unsurprisingly delicious. 

punkin ingredientsIngredients are simple: 1 can pumpkin, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of tomatoes, vegetable broth (I used my homemade broth for extra flavor), 1 yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin and chili powder. 

onion:garlicChop up the onion and the garlic, and sauteé them in olive oil til golden brown. I add the red pepper flakes here too. 

In the meantime, coarsely blend the black beans and tomatoes in a food processor. Pour the mixture into the pot, and add 2 to 3 cups (depending on how soupy you like your soup!) of broth, the full can of pumpkin, 2 tsp cumin, and 2 tsp chili powder (to taste — I ended up adding more later on). 

soupprocessIt should end up a little bit like this. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add salt to taste, and half a cup of vinegar (either red wine or apple cider) to cut the sweetness a bit (trust me, this step makes a huge difference). 

punkin final

I had some pumpkin seeds on hand (I love them in salads), so I toasted some to top the soup. 


I suggest adding avocado, feta and Tapatío too! 


A while ago, I made a quick note at the end of a post about a brilliant idea I read in a comment online. The article was about composting — how everyone wants to do it and knows they should do it, but it’s hard to actually make it happen. I have a composting bin in my kitchen that was provided to me for free by the wonderful city of San Francisco, but I hardly use it because it’s a pain to deal with. It stinks up my tiny kitchen, is impossible to find a decent bag for, and emptying it is the worst. 

But this commenter had a brilliant solution: Every week, she saves all of her vegetable scraps, and freezes them. Everything: spinach stems, onion skins, garlic shavings, ends of carrots and potato peels. Then, when she has a free afternoon, she dumps it all in a pot of water, flavors accordingly, and boils it for a few hours to make vegetable broth. Genius, no? 

So I did it. 


It worked out great (as you can see above — this is only half, I froze the rest), and I’m totally going to keep doing this. There is a caveat — I have a small freezer, so I can’t do this with all my vegetable scraps otherwise I’d have no room in there. But it is really easy (I love that I can keep this in the freezer until I have the time to make the broth), it makes me feel like I’m throwing less away, and the homemade stock is a delicious bonus. This is a mix of chard, onion, carrots, garlic, potatoes, and Lord knows what else. I put it all in my biggest pot of water, flavored it with rosemary, parsley and peppercorn, and let it boil for 3 hours. At the very end I decided to put in a big tablespoon of miso for that extra umami, but I think it would’ve been fine without it anyways. 

With this sudden gloomy weather in California, I fully intend on making some extra-delicious soup tomorrow night. 


This year, we did Thanksgiving at my Dad’s house in the Lower Haight — it was the first time he and my step mom had hosted a holiday meal since moving into their new home, and it was absolutely perfect.

Finally, a good shot of the siblings all together!

Pumpkin pies (made by Luke!) cooling in my Dad’s new kitchen.

Drinking wine and poring over old photos of my grandparents before dinner.


Elizabeth’s infamous annual cheese ball — a deadly concoction of goat cheese, garlic, sundried tomatoes and basil.

Self-portrait by Seth.

My plate: Turkey, roasted vegetables, wild mushroom stuffing, my Dad’s famous potatoes, and my kale salad —kale, quinoa, red onion, feta, avocado and dried cranberries. 

Of course, no Brunner holiday would be complete without Seth stuffing his face with whipped cream. 

I’m so thankful for this motley crew. 


The best part about my Halloween decorations this year? They’re edible! One of the kabocha squashes sounded particularly good the other night, so I chopped some up and roasted them for about 20 minutes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. A perfect squash doesn’t need much else.

My favorite squash is my mom’s acorn squash — roasted with just a little bit of brown sugar and butter. But kabocha squash is already pretty sweet so I went the savory route. After they were soft and carmelized on the bottom, I cut up the pieces and tossed them in a salad with kale, dried cranberries, feta, red onion and pepitas. 

By the way — you need a good knife when cutting your kabocha. I’m learning the hard way that I am in desperate need of a new knife set.


For our monthly Supperclub meeting (with a Halloween theme!) I decided to make a recipe I’ve been wanting to try for over a year now — a savory, stuffed pumpkin. I winged it a bit, but it turned out amazing. 

1 Sugar Pie Pumpkin
1/2 white onion
1 baguette
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup fontina, 1/2 cup gouda
spices: salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika

First, carve out the pumpkin. Really clean that guy out. 

If you’re smart, you’ll save the seeds to roast afterwards. 

Next, tear up your baguette and toast the pieces so they have just a bit of char. 

Now it’s time to stuff. Fill that thing to the brim with bread, onions, and cheese. I mean, REALLY stuff it. Then, pour in a cup of cream, mixed with your spices (to taste). 

After that, it’s easy. Pop it in the oven at 400 for an hour and 15 minutes. When it’s done, you’ll have a golden, soft pumpkin full of melted cheesy goodness. 

Cutting it was a little awkward at first, but everyone ended up with a slice of pumpkin and a healthy (?) scoop of stuffing.  

Amanda whipped up some truly delicious pumpkin/portobello/bacon mac and cheese. 

And Kirsten put together some brussels sprouts!
The Giants won, we had plenty of wine on hand, and several good desserts to fill our bellies up even more.

All in all, a perfect night. 

(A view of part of downtown from Amanda’s Pac Heights living room) 


It’s been freakishly warm this week in SF, but I want it to feel like fall dang it! So I decided to make chili in order to hurry the weather along.

My chili recipes are always slightly different (that’s why I love this stuff, stick to a few key things and it’ll always taste good), but bear the same things in common: Lots of vegetables, lots of chunk and lots of spice. Nothing like that mushy, canned stuff. This time I opted to mix in some red pepper, zucchini and corn.

I chop up my vegetables pretty thickly, so they’re still nice and chunky after they’ve been simmering for a while.

(Chunky is kind of a gross word, but you know what I mean).

Half a white/yellow onion goes into a pot of hot olive oil. I mix in plenty of red pepper flakes at this stage and a healthy pinch of salt. After a minute or so, I add a couple cloves of minced garlic, and sauteé until golden.

Next, I add in some canned tomatoes, and two cans of beans (liquid and all!), bringing it to a healthy simmer. Now, it’s spice time. I eyeball this part, but I add a lot of spice because I love it. Big dashes of chili powder, paprika and cumin.

I like my vegetables to have a subtle char, so I broiled the zucchini and pepper for 10 minutes or so with some salt, pepper and olive oil.

Hopefully by now, the chili is simmering beautifully. That’s when I mix all the veggies in (I used frozen corn because they don’t have fresh ears at Whole Foods anymore), and let it cook for a couple more minutes.

Yum! Delicious, chunky (yup, I’m going to keep saying it) veggie chili. If you like cheese as much as I do, top with a sprinkle (or a handful…) of cheddar cheese, a few slices of avocado and a few splashes of Tapatío.

PS: Fall — hurry up!