Another Nicoise before time runs out, this time with Chicken – 3 October 2019

So, I haven’t written anything since early July. Should have – lots of good stuff back there. Maybe I can fill in sometime. Not sure why I’m starting now, except I’ve burnt out on reading news this morning.

Two nights ago we had one of my favorite dinners, wherein oiled bread, herbed tomatoes, lemon/oil-tossed romaine, and thin-slices of chicken breast are broiled and served together. The chicken breast slices have, after turning, lemon/parmigiano/mayonnaise/Dijon spread over them and broiled. I realized when thinking about this that we could try using the leftover chicken (from Costco mega-packs of two chickens-that-would-have-eatcn-Chicago-but-we-ate-them-instead) sliced, for a non-tuna Nicoise, with the thought that someday we might show this to our tuna-hating son. It was good, though I’m not sure using the Dijon/mayo chicken is necessary. A S&P/oil grilled thigh would probably work as well, though it would clearly be quite different – at least that part of the salad.

In the morning before work, I cleaned, cut up, and boiled up (with salt) all our remaining potatoes, some of which were sprouty, forgetting that D would need some for Sorrel Soup on Friday (to use up creme fraiche), and also stuck four eggs into the saucepan to hard-boil them. In a rush to leave, I asked D to put them away, which he did. After work, I realized that we had a small container with the leftover dressing from the last two Nicoises, and D just refreshed that with some shallot and more needed salt, and it was barely enough. Cool. We boiled the haricots ($4.19!) 2 minutes in salted water, and the rest of the stuff – radishes, Tokyo turnips, Nicoise olives, tomatoes from Dirty Girl on Tuesday, some English cucumber,Β  D cut up some scallions in random ways but small enough, and I washed and chopped the last of the basil that was half a bunch D&R split from the Tuesday market a week or more ago. (It’s that time of year for basil.)

We tried out one of our two bottles of CalStar 2014 SCSC Chardonnay that our friend R needs to sell to make room for the new vintage, so tonight I suggested that we have the 2014 Cuvee Ann that was in the fridge, while we still had the other in mind and could compare. It was an excellent idea. CA is definitely the more full-bodied of the two, and was a fine choice for the Nicoise dinner. I took out one slice of the Base Camp sesame seed bread from the freezer (D pointed out that he used one for lunch and we would be back to an even number for sandwiches) and we had that for sopping bread.

 

Lunch:

Couldn’t resist, sry. I had the grilled “BLTA” at work – basically a BLT with the addition of grilled chicken breast fillets and avocado spread. Amazing. Sinful. I need to find someone to split this with.

 

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Spaghetti with fava beans and prosciutto; zucchini with onions – 7 July 2019

We decided Friday not to plan Sunday dinner but to punt it; then I went to the Bowl and found, among other things, very nice-looking fava beans, and bought them assuming they’d come in handy at some point. We had 1 1/2 strips of prosciutto left over from two previous dinners, and D combined those with the favas to make a really good pasta coating. He started by cooking some winter savory (from the garden) in olive oil, then added the shelled, blanched, and peeled favas, and later (I gather – didn’t see) the prosciutto which I had torn up. He cooked the spaghetti and tossed it into the frying pan with the topping and served into heated bowls. D was particularly happy with the taste of the winter savory in this dish. Also there was a small plate of grated Pecorino Romano which we sprinkled over the top of the pasta. I was skeptical and tried a small bit first, but it was a perfect addition.

I quartered (crosswise) and sliced about 3/4 of a medium zucchini, of which D had used some for a salad previously. D was cutting up red onions and I asked him if that was for the pasta, and he said no for the zucchini. I prefer zucchini without onions, but he was doing most of the work so he gets his choice this time πŸ™‚

D ran to the Bowl just before dinner to get the bread he always prefers with pasta: Acme Italian Batard. He also got a bag of the cat food that we give the neighborhood ferals, so they leave our feral’s food alone. She has had to be switched from the cheap stuff to this $$$ brand due to peeing issues.

D brought up an Epicuro Salice Salentino – impressively good wine for about $5 from TJ’s – and we both thought that went well with the pasta.

We had two peaches from Tuesday that were softening without really ripening. One had a moldy spot in the morning and I cut that out, but decided to leave the two peaches for dessert and grill them. (We had some from Saturday that were ready for breakfast anyway.) I cut the peaches into perhaps 3/8″? slices, rubbed them with olive oil (too lazy to wash the brush so didn’t want to use it) and grilled on the preheated (3 minutes) range grill for 4 minutes on the first side, moving them around when one was cooking faster than the other, and then 3 minutes on the second side. They were quite a nice dessert, cooked this way.

Lunch:

KIND Madagascar Vanilla Almond bar

We got started late for our trail walk, and brought along two KIND bars, planning to have a small lunch to finish off after we got home and did our weight work. I thought the chocolate one was best, but I also liked the nutty one. The chocolate one seemed more like an indulgence, though. D thought we should have nachos to use some of the Costco avocados that are suddenly all ripe, but I suggested an avocado-and-olive salad instead, and he thought that sounded good (no pic of that, though). He washed up a pile of portulaca, which surprised me, and

KIND Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond bar

I washed up one and two halves large romaine leaves. D suggested using two avocados, which had me LOL b/c splitting one of them inundates the plate with chunks. Too bad we neglected to buy bread just before lunch b/c it would have been nice to have with the salad, and would have let us enjoy more of the loaf when it was fresh.

 

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Herb-crusted cauliflower with green beans and small tomatoes – 18 May 2019

This is a complicated recipe till you plot it out – then it’s not hard to follow. The problem is that there are several threads, which split and/or join one another. A flow chart comes in handy.

Here’s where I wrote up my version of the recipe; however, this time I removed 1/8 tsp salt from the green beans, and 1/4 tsp from the dressing, b/c we thought it was pushing the salt quite a bit last time. Note that this is HALF the salt in the original recipe, which, as written, offers an entire day’s allotment of sodium to each diner. Fortunately, the commenters gave a major warning about the salt, which I had already been horrified by just reading that quantity in the ingredients list.

For some reason, though this recipe is quite lemony, we’ve always had red wines with it. Light reds – our recent Refosco, a TJ’s Epicuro Salice Salentino, and one other I can’t recall at the moment. Tonight we followed that pattern and D pulled out a Ciro that we’d gotten at The Wine Mine. (It says “Librandi” and 2016.) Surprisingly, both of us thought it didn’t go well at all with the meal. I think we should try a bold white sometime. Happy to make this dish frequently!

Lunch:

[End of veggie news.] There was a luncheon after graduation, and I was hoping it would be like last year’s, where there were little sandwiches and small, stand-up tables, and people could mingle. I wanted to meet the graduation speaker! But alas. Possibly the unseasonable rain that put the party inside caused the changes? The tables were normal sitting-tables, so no getting to talk with a lot of people (though the alums at my table were interesting people). The food was very tasty, but the sandwiches were huge, and should have been cut in half. Saves money, too πŸ™‚ This is a chicken sandwich with I think roasted red pepper on it, and pesto. The tabbouleh was especially good, I thought. I should have looked closer at the sandwich and eschewed the potato chips, but parties are for indulgence, so I took a bunch.

 

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Red Snapper (Rock cod?) baked with lemon and stuff; refried rice; favas – 17 May 2019

This is actually a prep shot – before baking – but I thought it would make an interesting change.

LOL! We have not used the spring onions that I bought a week ago at the farm stand, with the intention of grilling them, b/c D likes to do that. So I mentioned them when we were considering dinner plans, and said why don’t we build a dinner around them, and D said yes, great. So he thought maybe fish – we can cook the fish however, and grill the spring onions. I said yo there’s leftover rice! But what about a green veggie. Brussels sprouts? No, cooked them already. Hm. Favas, then? OK, great. It’s a deal.

And then, the only thing we didn’t do is grill the spring onions. LOL!

Having bought tilapia last time, I decided to go for another simple fish we’d liked before, which is labeled rock cod and also red snapper. Whatever – it’s good πŸ™‚ Also, only $9.99 today. I bought close to a pound of it. I thought I was going to microwave or bake it in parchment, but I remembered wrong, and the baked fish we had recently was not in parchment. I ended up using the baking temperature and glass pan from that recipe, but going with D’s suggestions for flavors to add (notably b/c we don’t have any ginger, so couldn’t do the previous one again). The previous one was coated with marinade, and did not dry out while baking. The marinade was a Cuised bunch of flavors, rubbed in a bit, but this was not going to be like

The lavender brightened up after D brought it in and put it in water. No idea what stomped on half of the poor plant.

that, so I started protecting the fish by drizzling some olive oil over each of the two fillets and rubbing it in on both sides. Then I salted moderately, ground pepper over the top, and added one monster clove of garlic, very thinly sliced, and a bunch of thinly sliced red onion that I had soaked well over 5 minutes in cold water and patted dry, then a lot of chopped cilantro (to use it up) and most of a very thinly sliced pesticide-free lemon. I poured out a very scant 1/2 cup of the an old white wine that D had given up on (corked, I think this one was) and used a spoon to drip it over the fish. The toppings held in place, which was great. Then I let the fish sit on the countertop till time to cook (probably at least 1/2 hour till D finished buying and stacking the wood that R had found at Urban Ore).Β  I set the timer for 12 minutes baking time at 475, but was not satisfied with the “flakes easily with fork” criterion, and gave it another 5 minutes. It turned out to be delicious! I served out just a little more than the larger fillet, so there are great leftovers for Sunday, as planned.

And D used only half the leftover rice. He cut some red onion and cooked it I think in butter till soft, then added the rice. Easy. He also shelled all the favas today and I blanched them, starting with 6 minutes for the monster-large three (not in photo), then 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 minute (joining the smallest ones that are in tow batches in the picture). I drained them into a colander and left for D to pop out of their skins. This bag of favas was about 1 lb 3.5 oz as bought, 4 oz after shelling, blanching, and popping out of their skins. That is to say, the edible part is about 1/5 of the bought part. Since they were just over $4/lb as bought, the edible part is about $20/lb. Luxury food for sure. D wants to grow them!

I spooned some of the liquid in the fish dish over the rice, served out the fish and spooned out more, and there is still a lot for the leftovers. This turned out to be a really good dinner! D suggested we have another bottle of the Haut Marin Cuvee Marine 2017 from Eric Stauffenegger, via The Wine Mine, and it was fine with the meal, though something starker might have been optimal. It’s a really nice and drinkable wine.

D went out and broke off one row of Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate with almonds, so that’s what we split for dessert.

Lunch:

This is really good – I’ve discovered that the avocado stands out more if you do not add salsa to the nachos. I decided to take a different picture of the nachos this time – while they were still in pieces πŸ™‚ We used chips ‘Home Made’ brand chips this time, since they’re still on sale at the Bowl; Cheese Board “Cheap Jack” (Monterey Jack they keep very low priced); the last of the jar of Mezzetta jalapeno slices, cut up; avocado chunks; and La Victoria mild green taco sauce over the top. Delicious!

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Avgolemono; collards – 15 May 2019

The soup is topped with chopped parsley, and freshly grated nutmeg and Parmigiano.

The return of winter weather – another “atmospheric river” is upon us, and it’s grey and rainy – so I said maybe we should have soup. I also wanted to make my boudin blanc pasta, and suggested I could get extra of the two mushrooms and D could use them in Avgolemono. No, he said, those mushrooms would be wrong – but he was interested in making the soup, so I bought some nice white mushrooms in addition to the special ones.

 

We pretty much had everything else.D used Patricia Wells’ recipe from At Home in Provence, as usual, but the stock this time was Kirkland, which he doesn’t usually use, and also he used 2 cups water to fill out the extra half quart stock in the recipe. The taste was really different – both the thinness and the otherness of the stock could account for this. I wrote up the recipe here.

This is a pretty vitamin-free soup, so I proposed to make up the last two collard leaves. D didn’t want to think about veggies, so I said don’t think about it, I’ll do it. I also cleaned five largish mushrooms, and later separated three eggs while he was working on other aspects of the soup. I stemmed and washed up the collard leaves, cut them in half crosswise to make a thicker bunch when I inverted half so as to line up the cut sides, then rolled tightly and cut crosswise into something like 1/4″ (should be 1/8″ but I’m not that good) slices. I cooked these in hot butter till wilted, then turned down the heat to low and covered the pan to let them steam. I ended up adding a tiny drop or two of water to be sure they didn’t burn on the bottom while the soup finished.

I bought the last loaf at the Bowl of Acme Italian, and when I cut into it, there was a humongous hole! This was at lunch, and the holey part clearly would not make a good sandwich, so I cut away that 1 1/2″ – 2″ chunk from the middle of the loaf, and we each had about half of it for dinner.

 

D chose unsurprisingly, a wine from Wine Mine – unsurprising b/c they were still upstairs and it meant he didn’t have to go into the cellar. But it was not a random choice – a good white, which we had noted went very well with Boucherin from the Bowl awhile back. 2017 Chateau Haut Sarthes, a “white Montravel wine” for $14. It’s 50% sauvignon, 40% semillon, and 10% muscadelle, so says the back label.

Enjoyed it.

Lunch:

We decided to have cold cheese sandwiches so as to use up the last of the leftover tomato, from hamburger night. The tomato provides color and moisture at this time of year – pretty much no tomato taste. So, I bought the last Acme Italian at the Bowl, and cut into it and found this massive hole, per the above. At the end of that portion, however, was some perfectly good sandwichable bread, so we had our sandwiches. The cheese was a raw goat cheddar from the Bowl. Also had lettuce, mayonnaise, and tomato on mine, that and mustard on D’s. Good stuff. I also cooked up all the rest of the Brussels sprouts that were in the fridge, in the usual way: 4 minutes boil in salted water, drain well, toss back in heat-dried pan with butter in it. Salt if needed, and pepper. D had the semi-domesticated feral on his lap, so I delivered lunch to him in the living room, and then decided I might as well join him, so used a handy chair as my side table.

 

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Lori’s Pizza at Drake’s Dealership before Apollo 11 – 14 May 2019

Wonderful new place for pizza!

I wanted to see Apollo 11 on the big screen, and it was showing exactly one place, for one night, in this area (New Parkway Cinema – good place!). D is steadfastly uninterested in anything space-related, but suggested we have dinner in the area, then I could go to the movie and drive home and he would (leave me the car and) take the bus, given it would be light. The neighborhood does not feel like the safest place in the world. Anyway, he looked at Drake’s Dealership (named for a previous business) and it was a terrific place. We ate outside in an interior courtyard, which was plenty warm enough due to massive heaters above our heads (uneasy about the energy waste here, as I always am with these heaters heating the sky). It was busy but not full at 6:15pm. We both thought the Lori’s pizza sounded interesting, and it was really delicious. It seemed to have a very light underlayment of tomato sauce (marinara?), also some mozzarella, under Black Mission Figs, goat cheese, and castelvetrano olives. An unexpected combination that totally worked.

We had their own beers – D a “Drakonic” Imperial Stout and me the Robust Porter. They were both really good – mine more bitter, but also I thought somewhat more interesting. Next time I should try one of their flights.

 

Lunch:

For lunch we had sandwiches. We had already decided on having dinner out, so instead of buying a loaf of bread that would languish after lunchtime, I bought one Semifreddi ciabatta roll and we had sandwiches on that. Raw milk goat cheddar which the Bowl was tasting recently, a bit of lettuce from the Farm Stand (which I forgot till after the photo), too thin a slice of the leftover (from hamburgers) tomato to taste, though salted and peppered, mayonnaise, and some mustard on D’s side. It was good, but wanted more moisture, i.e. more tomato, even though it had little taste. I also cleaned up and spit the largest of the four carrots in the bunch I got Thursday at the farm stand. These are pretty good and sweet, though not the best I’ve ever had.

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Leftover grilled chicken thigh over rice, with spicy slaw from lunch at El Tazumal #2 – 12 May 2019

After a most excellent walk at Point Pinole, we drove back a ways to have lunch at El Tazumal 2 in Richmond, which we’d found back last June, and really loved. We had a big lunch – see below – and sorted out how to have a small dinner, while using up the last of the grilled chicken thighs from the 8th.

 

D suggested [what I thought was] to cook rice and mix it with the chicken and re-cook in oil a bit, but he just meant serve the reheated chicken over the rice. Which worked out fine. He wanted to have brown rice, but I wanted a lighter variety, b/c, per his suggestion, we were going to have the spicy cabbage-based salad that was our only leftover from lunch, and I decided I wanted to scatter mine over the top of the chicken and rice, to contrast the soft/crunchy textures, and the hot/cold temperatures. It worked pretty well, in fact, though the match of flavors was not made in heaven or anything.

D put an Eric Stauffenegger import into the fridge that we’d gotten Saturday at The Wine Mine – an old favorite, Haut-Marin (Cotes du Gascogne; Cuvee Marine 2017), and that made a nice complement to the tiny meal. D hoped we could have a pear with the last glass of wine, but the teeny Bartletts I bought the other day aren’t quite ready, and besides, today we have the last of the pre-Mother’s Day “Oreos” from R that we had planned on. And they really survived very well in their tightly-closed (and highly reflective…) cookie box – a lovely end to a most excellent day.

Lunch:

Ack! El Tazumal does not have a menu online! Well, I know I chose a chile relleno con queso (could alternatively have had pork or other meats inside). A refreshing and tasty salad, a little molded rice thing with some pretty veggies in it, and a pour of their delicious beans completed the lunch. The chile is hidden in the liquidy vegetable sauce there – I’ve never seen it done this way, and the flavor war different from what I expected, but this may be a Salvadoran variant. Anyway, it was very good. I especially loved eating the beans and rice together.

D and I switched plates partway through. His was a pupusa with cheese and beans, the above-mentioned spicy slaw* alongside to put over the top (not yet added in the photo, I see), the insides of a tamale evidently with potatoes, a fried plantain, and pools of sour cream and beans. All wonderful! The best, though, was the Salvadoran horchata, which is made from rice and other interesting stuff. It’s sweet and scrumptious. It served as dessert, b/c I had some left over by then (hard not to drink it all at once!) Just noticing this was a vegetarian lunch. Not surprising, really, as we eat veggie by accident all the time, just having what we love.

* “thekitchn” has this to say: Curtido, the accompanying slaw, is a combination of cabbage, carrots, and onions in a vinegary, spicy brine. Traditional curtido is fermented…”

 

 

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Tilapia baked in a cilantro/ginger/soy/sesame sauce; chard – 9 May 2019

No bones in tilapia fillets! I do love that.

R&E left us almost an entire bunch of cilantro, which I originally thought was parsley. Of which we also had most of a bunch, in washed bouquets on the island. So we planned how to use up parsley (gremolata with fish!) and then I discovered that the new half the parsley was cilantro. Since, as D pointed out, cilantro is more fragile than parsley, we decided to use that up first. My usual idea, of course, is to make a pizza, but D stuck with the fish – “it would be good with fish” – so I looked up recipes. The one I used was from thekitchn.com, and I would definitely alter it a bit, but it was very tasty and fundamentally very easy. It’s not a “quick meal,” in the sense that we would have to shop for at least three of the ingredients on most occasions – obviously you would buy the fish “day of,” and also we don’t keep fresh ginger, and rarely have cilantro, around (b/c it dies quickly). But it’s good and we might well make it again. Two other recipes I dug up are very different baked fish in cilantro sauce:Β  one a sort of Mexican style, and the other with lemon/garlic/ginger: Both seem as though they would be worth a try. D liked the sound of this one when I gave him a quick oral recitation, so we went with it, and I did the shopping while he took out all of the trash/recycling/compost for collection tomorrow – quite a project this time.

So, the idea here is to mix chopped cilantro, garlic, grated ginger (use the regular grater – the planer made ginger juice), etc., in a small food processor. Ok, but the mix included three liquids, making it very juicy, and it splashed all over when I tried to mix it in my little inverted Cuisinart. I also have a mini-Cuisinart that looks like a regular one, so I transferred what was left (most of it) to that one, and it still tried to escape out the top. So my revision is: Cuise the dry stuff and the sesame oil to a paste, remove or leave, but then mix in the white wine and soy sauce by hand! I decided not to add the optional jalapeno to the sauce this time, b/c I thought it would overshadow the fish. I really liked it quite well this way, though I enjoy hotness in food. One minor thing: The fresh cilantro garnish was a totally different green from the rest of the meal, and I don’t think it added anything to the taste, so I would not bother with it next time. TheKitchn said this was not a pretty recipe, but I think it looks fine – probably better – without the garnish. The photos on the recipe site show colors that are not in the recipe!

Veggies from the farm stand today. $2 each, except $5 for each bag of favas (1lb 3+oz each). We had the rainbow chard for dinner.

I let the fish cook 12 minutes, which was longer than the described (8-10), despite the fact that the small oven usually cooks things faster, not slower, than expected. I was not satified with the “flakes easily with fork” criterion at 10 minutes. Whatever – it worked. D started some brown rice early on and we let that sit and steam till the fish was done. It was short-grain, which I prefer. While the fish cooked, I also sauteed the (already stemmed, washed, cut, rewashed, spun, air-dried a bit) chard that I bought today at the farm stand when I went to M for a retirement party. Got such beautiful veggies there!! (See above – the picture fit better there πŸ™‚ )

We had a sorta-tester wine that we got Tuesday at TJ’s – Picton Bay, a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for $6.99, which is awfully good. It was fruitier than D expected (he suggested it) but I thought it was fine. We should try this one with Asian food, I think.

Forgot to take another picture of my pre-Mother’s Day cookie, but we did each have one πŸ™‚ They are delicious!

Lunch:

I had a hamburger and curly fries (the latter of which my friend K helped me eat – thank you) as I usually do, and they were delicious, as they usually are πŸ™‚ But I forgot to take a picture. Also had a slice of a very nice cake with fruit chunks in the icing, after formal remarks at the retirement reception.

 

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Bread, cheese and veggies before the symphony – 2 May 2019

We still had the half-round of Couronne de Fontenay that we didn’t eat on our long hike on the 28th, and I noted that it would make a good quick dinner for before the symphony. We also still had a chunk of the Cambozola from Costco. D took out the cheeses at lunchtime, and I arranged them on a plate free from their plastic, so they would not be messy once warmed to eating temperature. The Couronne had melted into a much smaller-looking lump during the day-long hike, but turned out still to be excellent eating. We ate it all up, and had only a bit of the Cambozola this time, rather than leaving some of each of the two cheeses. D did the small bit of shopping after lunch, and bought a Semifreddi seeded baguette to go with the cheeses.

By the time I came down at 6 after deciding what to wear and setting it all out for a quick change, D had produced a pretty little arrangement of cold veggies – cauliflower, mushrooms, carrot, and celery – as well as little bowls of quartered strawberries, to go with the bread and cheese.

There was still a bottle of the Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio (2016) in the fridge from the time when I brought it and a CalStar Chard up for the “white omelette” on the 29th, and D chose the CalStar for that dinner. The Tiefenbrunner was really perfect with this meal.

Lunch:

I suggested we either get a Rustic baguette from the Bowl for lunch sandwiches and have the rest for dinner, or take what was about the last of the sliced bread from the freezer and make a sandwich, and then get a regular baguette for dinner. Then I noticed it was already 1:20 – we were just getting back from our bike ride into town for mail and show tickets – and I decided we should use the frozen bread and forget about shopping till after lunch. I made one big sandwich from the two thin slices of [defrosted] Acme Upstairs Bread, with Berkeley Bowl seedy mustard, mayonnaise, thin-sliced yellow onion, and more of the Prairie Breeze cheddar (Iowan) from Cheese Board. D cooked up a batch of the Brussels Sprouts that I bought from the discount room at the Bowl last week but we only started using yesterday, for some reason. It was, of course, a really delicious lunch.

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Dinner at Zuni – 1 May 2019

D suggested dinner at Zuni, to follow a late-afternoon visit to the de Young to see the Gaugin exhibit (and incidentally the Ordinary Objects… exhibit while there). We took BART and bus to the museum, and new (to us) bus back along Haight Street to the restaurant, and after a four-block walk, BART back home. At Zuni, we ended up having dinner alongside two civil rights lawyers and had a really interesting conversation with them – very fortunate seating.

D wanted to order the pork chop.

I was not sure about the halibut with clams (b/c I expected shells, which I resent) and was eyeing the gnocchi instead, but it was not clear it was a whole dinner. (The photo is my half – the staff split the serving for us!)

D suggested we get those two and one other thing – which turned out to be a swordfish confit – and split them all, and that’s what we did. The pork chop was merely very good – the sauce excellent – but the two introductory dishes were just about perfect.

D asked about a few of the white wines (after choosing pork and ricotta gnocchi with lemon zest we intentionally chose a white-friendly first course); the waiter described those choices, and they agreed on this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had their gratis plate of Acme Pain au Levain – the restaurant version – served with unsalted butter at perfect spreading temperature, and accepted a second when offered (we would have asked for it, but they beat us to it). You pay for service here, I think – it’s excellent.

Amazingly, we had room for dessert. This is unusual at restaurants.

D wanted to try the rhubarb upsidedown cake, so I looked for something else, and came up with the pavlova (I had to look it up) with blueberry compote. That was lovely, but the rhubarb cake was outstanding. Unfortunately, the photo I grabbed was fuzzy so I’m reproducing it very small.

 

Breakfast:

Well, just coffee. We didn’t make it down to Caffe Trieste – now Chiave – to buy coffee beans on Tuesday, so just went there for coffee (and beans) in the morning after breakfast. I thought D’s hat made the capuccini most picturesque.

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Spaghetti alla puttanesca – 30 April 2019

D had in mind to make a Pasta all’Amatriciana, which he read about in the special (come-on?) edition of the new Milk Street magazine from Christopher Kimball. But we don’t have the meat for it, and we did have an open half-plus-can of diced tomatoes, so he decided to make puttanesca instead. We pretty much always have the ingredients for that. Here is the recipe for two, pretty much from 100 Best Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed.

I defrosted a rustic baguette piece that has been in the freezer since I managed not to make it into a sandwich when D was away a few months ago, and an end of a Levain, b/c why not. D brought up a Ciro (Wine Mine, $12) which was a fine choice with this meal.

 

 

 

 

Lunch:

We had an avocado ready to eat (could have been better a day or two ago, in fact) so I suggested maybe nachos? D pointed out we had a really nice cheddar from Cheese Board – Prairie Breeze (Iowa) – so we used that, but IMO it was not optimal for nachos. Had the avo, chopped Mezzetta hot sliced (jarred) jalapenos, and some La Victoria green sauce. Pretty good, not great, altogether. But D also cut up some strawberries from lunch (Albion, from Kuni Bea Farms) and that certainly rounded off lunch nicely – also a great color addition to the picture πŸ™‚

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Orange roughy poached in parchment; pilaf; long choi – 25 April 2019

We’ve had a bottle of Mea Culpa in the fridge for some time b/c D brought it up on spec, but I really wanted to come up with a good meal for it. I thought a simple white fish would be good, and that turned out to be a most excellent call.

I bought 0.43lb orange roughy – which we knew we liked from previous experience – at the Bowl. I wanted something like 0.5 lb, and the filet looked like plenty, but it really did shrink during cooking. It was enough, but up to 3/4 lb wouldn’t hurt, for the two of us. I put the filet onto the parchment (in our smallest Pyrex baking dish) sprinkled it with a scant “dash” (1/8 tsp) of salt, and several grinds of pepper, topped with very thin lemon slices (thinness not consistent – thick places were not optimal). At D’s suggestion, I scattered paprika over the top. Then finally, when ready to cook, I added a scant Tbsp of lemon juice, and a Tbsp of vermouth (dry). I curled down the parchment above the long axis of the fish, and then curled down the ends under the fish, and microwaved on high for 8 minutes, and left to steam itself for another 3. It turned out great! This cooking time would probably work fine for a larger portion of fish, as a guess.

D made a pilaf. He cooked some onion in olive oil, then added Thai jasmine rice and cooked a bit, then added water, plus some veggie bouillon from a tube he bought awhile back. As an afterthought, he sliced up some mushrooms that were in the fridge and cooked them separately, then added late to the rice. It was an excellent dish!

D chopped up the last of the Long Choi I got at the Bowl and separated stems from leaves. He was busy with the pilaf, so I cooked the stems for many minutes in olive oil, with a dash of salt and some pepper, and then added the leaves, cooked till they were wilted, covered and left on its lowest setting for awhile, then finally covered and let cook in the residual heat in the cast iron pan (the middle one – 8″).

The wine was great with the fish! Of rather, the fish was great with the wine, since “something to go well with the wine” was our objective. Mea Culpa is a wine we got a long time ago at The Wine Mine. It’s Slovenian – crisp, delicious white. The labe lsays KOGL 1542, and who a I to argue with that? πŸ™‚ There is no indication as to what grapes were used in making the wine – it says just “dry white wine.” But good πŸ™‚

Lunch:

We had the other half or so of last night’s “Amazing Sorrel Soup,” (Patricia Wells) cold, and I think I actually liked it better that way. This soup (as most, I suppose) depends critically on the flavor of the stock used. D took out the last of the fava beans he had blanched, popped them out of their skins, and served them with the rest of the feta in the fridge, some salt, pepper, and olive oil. I defrosted one slice of Acme Pain au Levain, and D got out some Carr’s Water Crackers (I thought the pepper ones went better with the cheese than the sesame ones), and the last of the first half of the Costco Cambozola cheese. Great lunch!

 

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Rainbow of stuffed peppers – 18 April 2019

Last Saturday’s WFD was stuffed peppers, and they use leftover rice, of which we had a bunch. So, why not? But I didn’t use the presented recipe b/c I would have had to buy pork as well as defrosting and then using only half of a Costco aliquot of hamburger. So I tooled about online a bit, and found a nice-looking, simple recipe, and let it lead me into what to do, though I didn’t follow it completely.

I bought four peppers, so as to see whether they worked very differently: red, green, yellow, and orange. They were smaller than average (carefully chosen for size, as well as stand-up-ability – which turned out not to matter) but not itty or anything. For the record, I didn’t find them strikingly different from each other, but D definitely liked the yellow pepper the best. I cut off the centers of the tops, such that the sides came up and then turned inward just a bit.I used a knife (carefully!), a spoon, and tongs to remove the seeds and (more challengingly) the ribs from the peppers.

I defrosted 1/2 lb of hamburger and browned it in a splash of olive oil, salting with 1/2 tsp salt at the beginning. I added onions – the rest of the half-onion I cut up last night and didn’t use (it must have been 1/3 to 1/2 cup) – and continued to cook till the onions were soft, at some point adding in the cut up bits of the tops of the four peppers. I opened a can of Costco diced tomatoes, and an oldie (but, so far, goodie) can of Costco corn. I semi-drained the tomatoes with a spoon, and put 1/2 cup of them into the pan. I put 1/4 cup of corn into the pan. I measured out 1 cup of the rice (by halves – but it was clear 1/2 cup wasn’t enough – good thing – there’s a lot of rice!) and added it. I thought that looked like quite a bit, and that I’d use less than half of it, but the peppers are larger than they look – alsmot all this stuffing went into them! I forgot to add some grated Monterey Jack, which would have helped hold the stuffing together, but for flavor it was not needed. Maybe 1/2 cup next time, if we do this again? The issue was splitting the peppers in half so each of us could sample all four colors. The filling had no integrity, so kinda tended to spill. But it really did taste good. This is a fine way to use up rice! Tomorrow’s dinner will use the rest: Baked Garden Vegetables from California Fresh. [Added 26 April: I see we had a new Acme Pain au Levain.]

D asked what wine would go, and I said a good, basic red. He certainly found one – Epicuro Salice Salentino (2016) from Trader Joe’s, which sells for an incredibly low price. Good wine. During dinner, D allowed as how one might try a white with this dinner due to the sweetness of the peppers, but I am not convinced. But what the heck, why not try it? D asked how our resident WFD vegetarian used to stuff her peppers, and I said lentils, and that got him thinking of other stuffings, so perhaps we will have more of these. It was really quite an easy dinner. One thing I would change would be to have the peppers themselves cook better, and I saw an idea about this on foodiecrush, the third link below. She salted the insides of the peppers and microwaved 5 minutes to pre-soften them, then cut the oven time to 15020 minutes. I’d also like to try them cooked in more of a sauce outside, as well as the stuffing inside.

Didn’t try this one but sounds good, and has different cooking ideas.

This one, also untried, has sauce under and around the peppers – more like a casserole, it seems. Says 945 of stuffed peppers are made b/c there is leftover rice around πŸ™‚

This seems like something I should do, b/c the peppers, especially the bottoms, which were snugged up inside the baking dish, were not cooked as much as I’d like. From this foodiecrush link: “I pre-cook my peppers with a simple sprinkle of kosher salt to the interior of the peppers and then a 5 minute blast in the microwave pre-cooks these peppers and cuts your baking time in half.”

And here’s the simple, homey recipe I semi-followed (ingredients, not measurements) for this particular dinner.

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Truffled egg toasts and grilled asparagus – 12 April 2019

Our favorite restaurant in NYC – ‘ino – closed, but had a note on their website saying, in part, ‘Thank you for trying our truffled egg toasts.” We just loved that place onceΒ  student of mine directed us to it. We kept having food at other places that we liked less, and just decided to go back there instead of any place else. We also bought their cookbooks, and this recipe is in Simple Italian Sandwiches, though it is not remotely a sandwich. I just followed the recipe, per the following.

D bought a loaf of Pain de Mie at Acme on his way to someplace – oh right, to sell his bass amp, which he ended up trading instead for a smaller one – and I cut two 1″ thick slices from the tallest part, removed the crusts, and toasted in the toaster oven till lightly done. The Pain de Mie is “plain” like Wonder Bread, but much denser – fine-grained. It’s the perfect bread for this meal. After toasting, I cut through the crusted part on top to create a 2″ (supposedly – whatever I could get) square in the cnter, without cutting too deeply, and then pounded down the cutout part with the heel end of the knife. I laid thin slices of Fontina Valle d’Aosta over the unpounded parts. I separated four eggs, first dumping each white into a small Pyrex bowl and putting the yolk into the center, cut-out part of the bread. Once each egg was successfully separated, I put the yolk into a refrigerator container. Two yolks go into each toast. Then I put the breads on a pan back in the toaster oven (lowest rack setting) and set on “toast” again, and cooked till the cheese melted, and started to bubble just a bit. I removed, stirred the yolks a bit with a sharp knife, salted and peppered the toasts, and sprinkled truffle oil “generously” over the top – for my little bottle, this meand seven shakes for each toast, and that worked quite well. Serve!

Meanwhile, I cooked the asparagus spears (trimmed, washed and let to dry on a towel for at least 1/2 hour) in our panini press for 6 minutes (2 mins at a time, checking). This was too long, as they were no longer at all crunchy, but they were still good. D did the cutting up. That’s it – I scattered the asparagus around the toast and served. The original recipe suggests one asparagus per serving – I think this was as much about presentation as about eating – but when we were thinking “well, we could have the rest of the asparagus as a vegetable” we decided just to make it all up per the recipe. I thought it was quite a good amount, in fact – four fattish stalks per serving, this was. D also decided we needed olives, and created his own marinade for them. He put in some anchovy, red pepper flakes, a tiny bit of minced asparagus(!), lemon juice, and olive oil. They were really good!

D suggested we try the Herri Mina Irouleguy (2015) with this, and I said sure, wow, maybe it will work well – and it did! It was a fine combination. This is such a fascinating wine!

When buying the Pain de Mie at Acme, D also picked up a little pastry with raspberry and chocolate in it, and we had that for dessert. Lovely!

 

Lunch:

We had the last of the sorrel soup, with fresh sorrel julienne and finely chopped chives over the top. We finished off the sour cream yesterday so no more of that, but in truth, we rarely have sour cream with this soup. It’s a real winner of a recipe (from Georgeanne Brennan’s Potager).

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Chicken-basil sausage; Thai jasmine rice; prenatal bok choy – 11 April 2019

We wanted to finish up our taxes, so D suggested an easy dinner – just cook up two of the sausages E&I bought at Costco (despite the “Paleo” brand, which was obviously unrelated to the food) and have some rice and veggie. I pointed out that the sausages came fully cooked, a plus. They said they just needed 2 minutes on the grill, which was nutso. I would have liked them cooked a lot longer. I started a cup of Thai jasmine rice (with 1/2 tsp salt in 2 cups water) as soon as I got out of the shower.

I had found these bok choy – way smaller than “baby” bok choy usually is, so I have referred to them as pre-natal for fun – at the Bowl a few days ago. They were still in perfect shape. Since the leaves were so small, I decided just to break the off and leave them whole. I washed them early, and spun them, and left them to dry, then cooked in a

Those teensy ones – how could I resist? The 8 plants totaled 0.37 lb, according to the charge slip.

bit of olive oil and butter (salted) till well-wilted, and finally put in some water so they could steam a bit to doneness. It’s amazing how much greens cook down – I used the 12″ Revere frying pan to cook these (could have managed with the 10″ to be sure, but…) and they just made two normal-looking servings.

 

D decided on a Costco Rioja, which I’d bought again on my recent trip b/c he’d liked it previously, and been impressed by the price ($6.99!). It was a fine choice for this meal.

 

Lunch:

We had half of the remaining quart of sorrel/potato/leek soup. I cut too many (three) large leaves of sorrel for the fresh julienne on top, and a pile of chives for same. We finished off the sour cream, which had been one of the arguments for having this soup now, though the other – that the sorrel was abundant and huge – was the more compelling! I suggested we add a bit of Cambozola from Costco, and some crackers (Carr’s Original Water Table Crackers were open, and excellent with the cheese), and that was a lovely lunch. That much cheese actually took 6 crackers, not four πŸ™‚

 

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Refried boiled potatoes with melted cheese on a weird food day – 10 April 2019

Well, for dinner… see above (and that’s a tiny plate – about 5″). But that is a small part of the day. Leaving the lecture on campus later than I expected (7:12, by the clock) I was going to text D that I was on my way, but I ran across a couple of interesting students and we had a chat for at least another 15 minutes. So I finally said I was on my way home but not very hungry (see below) and D said he was making himself a little something. When I got home (there was even a traffic jam to get off campus) he was eating and there was some for me. I had boiled up – I think just yesterday? – the remaining 2/3 or so of the monster russet potato I had used part of for the potatoes and poblanos, and left it in the fridge, and he pulled that out, cut the potato chunks into smaller slices, and cooked them in canola oil, salting them even more (I think he didn’t taste first). He put a little bit of cheddar over them and let it melt. He had also poured me half of the bottle of beer he’d opened – a tester I’d bought at Costco when E chose it for them – an IPA called “Hopacolypse,” from Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro. I was not crazy about it, but it was fine.

So, I was not hungry because:

At 4:30 there was a reception for the speaker. I didn’t eat a lot, b/c I was already not hungry, but I did try the adorable biology-themed tidbits and had a glass of some white wine or other. We tried to decipher the caterer’s oddments.

The strawberry-based one with brie, a grape, orange zest (a bit dried out) and two chives we decided were snails. The molecular people took the one with pear wings over a bed of blended [sweet] gorgonzola, with grape head, to be a Drosophila, while the immunologist determined it to be a bunny. I think she was actually right (as much from the carefully clipped pear “ears” as from the unlikelihood that the caterer would have thought of fruit flies). Also tried, at my friend’s behest, a tiny bit of the Bellwether goat cheese, which was, indeed, very good. The edges were well ripened.

Lunch:

[End of the veggie portion, obviously…] I was alreadyΒ  not hungry at the reception because of lunch, and leftover cookies. I got my usual griddle-cooked hamburger with lettuce, tomatoes, pepper jack, and chipotle aioli (and ketchup) with curly fries. The fries had been sitting under a lamp, and were not very good, but I ate the anyway, which was dumb. Ketchup improved them. There was a plate of leftover cookies in the kitchen, and I had half a slightly-underdone chocolate chip one, and then took a sugar cookie too (but no pictures of that).

 

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Spaghetti with filet beans and tapenade – 8 April 2019

We are celebrating the return of Gaeta olives to Berkeley Bowl with tapenade recipes. D originally found this in the Chez Panisse book Pasta, Pizza, and Calzone, and he makes it a lot. The tapenade is Gaeta olives, anchovies, garlic, cognac (brandy this time) and olive oil, pounded to rough consistency with mortar and pestle.

He puts the beans into what is actually a deep frying cage and boils them one minute in the salted pasta water, then lifts out the cage before adding the pasta. I dipped out some of the pasta water just before serving time to heat the plates, and got the lemon/water together, but was otherwise useless. D even opened the wine, which he pulled up from the cellar: Domaine d’Abas Minervois, from Chateau St. Jacques d’Albas. This is a favorite we were pointed to by our fellow earthy-wine lovers at The Wine Mine a couple years ago. D did the shopping this morning, and bought his favorite bread, Acme Italian, for lunch and dinner.

 

I suggested we have tangerines (Sumo mandarins, actually) for dessert, and then decided to add Girl Scout shortbread trefoils to that, but I didn’t take a picture this time.

 

Lunch:

D wanted to use the new bread for sandwiches, and wanted his with muenster just like the previous one. For me: meunster (from Country Cheese on Sunday) and mayonnaise; for him, add mustard and some thin=sliced red onion. I cooked these in butter, while he dug up old and new picholine olives (Cheese Board old – one of mine had gotten moldy 😦 – and Bowl new – too acidic for me, but D liked them). He found the last Persian cucumber was getting slimy on the outside so he peeled it with a carrot peeler and that completed the lunch, except that we each had a tangerines for dessert.

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Defrosted Seven Bean Soup with sour cream – 7 April 2019

Not sure why D didn’t want to cook either his tapenade and filet bean pasta, or his herb omelette with raclette tonight (both of which we have planned on having at an unspecified date), but he suggested instead we just eat the Seven Bean Soup that I had moved a couple days ago from freezer to fridge – about 3 cups of it. We were walking down the hill at the time, after almost two hours of walking – unusually, in the late afternoon instead of morning this time – so perhaps he was just tired. He spent the morning finalizing his Dad’s income tax – that will wear anyone out. So anyway, majorly hard dinner – take out container, pour soup into pan and heat; take out sour cream container and put on table; fill glasses with water and lemon wedges; open the wine; defrost a slice of bread.

D suggested we try the Costco (Kirkland) Old Vines Zinfandel (2016) but he ended up not liking it much. I thought it was fine, but not anything special – on the round and full side, not the sparser, food-friendly side. Not that you’d expect anything special for $9.99, but the Rioja for $6.99 was remarkably good, so that’s why I tried this one. Can’t win them all.

I got out two Girl Scout Thin Mints for dessert, but when both of us wanted more dessert, D went over and got out two shortbread trefoil cookies for each of us. I thought they were all gone, so it was especially nice to have them.

 

 

 

 

Lunch:

D got lunch ready while I took a couple things off the line that were dry already. He used the last of the Home Made tortilla chips and some of the new Kirkland tortilla “strips” made by Mission, grated Jack from yesterday’s Cheese Board visit over them, and then set out for me a jar of Mezetta jalapeno rings and half an avocado, cut into pieces, though still in its shell. So I broiled my nachos briefly, added jalapenos and the avocado, and ate. It was quite delicious! I found the last couple of times I could taste the avo better, and I’m beginning to think that the salsa we usually have on nachos kind of damps the flavor of the avos.

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Pizza with roasted red peppers, potatoes, and tapenade – 6 April 2019

I adore this pizza, and have made it a lot, now. I finally got the recipe over to the support blog for this journal, so I no longer will type it in here. It really has a lot of prep – boiling potatoes, roasting the red pepper, and making the tapenade (the Bowl has Gaeta again!!), picking rosemary and pulling and chopping the leaves, heating the oil and mincing the garlic and then heating them for a bit.

Grating the cheese, but that’s easy and could be done while the pizza crust pre-cooks for 1.5 minutes.

We went to the Cheese Board after lunch to get the Fontina Valle d’Aosta for this pizza, and then I went to the Bowl to get the red pepper, and the rest of our small shopping list. Otherwise, we had the stuff.

D suggested the ZaZaZin from CalStar, and I said well there’s a Kirkland zin to try for $9.99… and then I said no, it’s Saturday, let’s have the good stuff. So we did, and it was lovely. Not the most favorable dinner for any wine, what with the red pepper flakes over the pizza at the end, but nevertheless, an excellent meal overall.

dessert190406

For dessert we (evidently – adding this sentence the 9th) had two thin mint Girl Scout cookies – my favorite, and I think D’s too, so we saved them for last from our gift box from brother B.

 

 

Lunch:

We had leftover Thai jasmine rice from the lamb kebab dinner, and D did the honors. He started by cooking some red onion in olive oil, and sprinkling beriberi over it, then added roasted peanuts. It was a delicious way to use up leftover rice! He looked at the five avocados I had gotten at Costco and asked if any was ready – yes, so let’s just have an avocado. Which we did. They were early enough in their ripening that there were no bad spots around the outside. I spread some on my heel-of-[Upstairs]-bread, and it made me realize how good avocado toast (all the rage) would be. But I didn’t take a picture. Owel.

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Salad with bits of everything – 5 April 2019

We had thought of this salad for a couple days. When R showed up bearing opened wines, we moved it from Tuesday to an unspecified day – which turned out to be today. One of the opened wine was a 2018 CalStar Rose of Pinot Meunier, which we’d never had, and that one was for tonight. I washed up several leaves of red romaine, which I bought at the Bowl… yesterday, was it?… instead of “regular” romaine, just on a whim, but in part b/c it looked better (though $2.19 instead of $0.89 per head!) I asked D if he wanted me to get some chicory leaves, or some of the volunteer arugula he noticed, from the garden, and he sort of shrugged a “sure, why not.” So I added torn chicory and arugula to the torn romaine in the salad spinner, re-rinsed, spun, and left it all on a towel to dry some more when I went off for my shower. D added the things we’d saved or noted as needing using over the days: a couple Tbsp of black beans I didn’t add to the bean salad (with the polenta), a couple of edible pod peas I left for this purpose, a small chunk of smoked ham that didn’t fit into our last ham-bearing sandwich, one scallion D found in the fridge, a Persian cucumber from a large discount bag he bought this week… is that it? And then the dressing – this was as much about the fact that we had a bit – perhaps 1/4 cup? – of the green chili sauce left over from the polenta meal (and its re-run, and having it over the refried potatoes). I worried it did not look like enough, and D agreed, and figured out that adding some olive oil to thin it would work well. And it did. It was a really delicious salad, and the rose went well with it. Everything worked!

CalStar Rose of Pinot Meunier, 2018, gift of the winemaker.

 

We had the last three Do-si-dos and the first two Thin Mints from our Girl Scout Cookie collection – they’re almost gone 😦

OK and then four more…

 

Lunch:

We bought Meunster at Country Cheese on Sunday mostly b/c I saw it and thought wow, we havn’e had that in ages. I made grille cheese sandwiches with it today – mine just Upstairs Bread, mayonnaise, and cheese, D’s with added mustard and thin-sliced red onion. We both thought our sandwiches were excellent. I usually think of Meunster as a sort of mild and maybe lowest-common-denominator cheese, but this was really as good as any grilled cheese we’ve had. I’m happy πŸ™‚ I peeled two small carrots – mine was so sweet! – and D cleaned up two Persian cucumbers – and that was our veggie.

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Scalloped potatoes with poblanos; roasted asparagus with feta – 4 April 2019

When I needed a tiny bit of roasted poblanos for something… oh right, the sauce for the polenta and black beans… D bought me two whole peppers. I roasted both of them along with the red pepper that went in the black bean salad, and used maybe 1/3 or less of one pepper for a double recipe of the sauce. I tucked the rest of the poblanos, already skinned and seeded, in the fridge, and then we decided this dish would be a good use of them. Still had extra cream, too, so that was a plus. I’ve never made this smaller than a 9×13″ pan, so this was an experiment. The recipe calls for 6 chilis (but YMMV b/c how big is a “chili”?). But making a best guess, I decided 1/4 recipe might work. I tried using our tiny, single-serving Corning Ware cooking dishes, and 1/4 of all the ingredients. I ended up using about 10 oz russet potato (weighed before peeling), and 1/2 cup total of cream. Calculating from the potato gratin the other day, I then reduced the salt both b/c there are no cheeses in this recipe, and b/c for 1/2 lb potatoes (and I used 10 oz) the gratin would use 3/4 tsp salt and I used 1/2 tsp. This recipe is one of the stupid ones that says “salt to taste” when the potatoes are still raw and the dish has not been composed. Idiots! Anyway, it is no longer online so here are the original measurements: 2 1/2 lb russet potatoes, peeled, and cut with mandoline or Benriner into 1/8″ slices; 2 cups cream; 6 poblanos, roasted, peeled, and seeded, then diced; one clove garlic. You bring the cream to a boil with the peeled garlic in it, and keep warm till needed. Layer 1/4 of the potatoes, then “salt to taste” – and for these little dishes with 10oz potatoes I used 1/4 tsp salt and it was great – then 1/4 of the poblanos. Repeat three more layers, pour over the garlicky cream, and bake 375 45 minutes, covered with foil, and 30 more minutes (or until browned and bubbling and cooked through) without the foil.

I had bought both asparagus (down to about $2.19/lb for California stuff) and itty bitty baby bok choi (8 plants, 74 cents!) at the Bowl. I was going to prep the bok choi, but D said lets roast the asparagus b/c we have feta and could have asparagus with feta. Problem: I have the small oven at 375, not 500, and the large one takes forever. We were having a workout walk at the time. By the time we got back I was in “good though” mode, and just washed and trimmed half the bunch of asparagus and let D figure it out. When I told him I had removed the foil and please check at 20 minutes in case the potatoes were brown and bubbling, he decided to put the asparagus into tne wamr oven, and turn up the heat after pulling the potatoes out. It’s probably the oven never even made it to 500, but after maybe 15 minutes at 375 and 5 minutes on the way to 500, the asparagus had gotten a bit blackened, and it was just fine. Score one for D.

We had a tiny bit of bread with dinner. I had tried to get an Acme Levain before lunch, but of course they had sold out of the morning’s delivery and the afternoon’s was not there yet. So I bought an Upstairs Bread – another Survivor – that will be great with the Seven Bean Soup I’m defrosting for tomorrow’s lunch, when it should be grey and rainy, according to NOAA.

We had leftover wines – half bottle of CalStar San Giacomo Pinot Noir from last night, and 200 ml of [probably] Douro from about 10 days ago when D was not feeling great. Both survived quite well, though one started obviously better than the other.

We each had two more “Tagalongs”Β  – Girl Scout cookies from my brother B – which were delicious πŸ™‚ Too eager to eat them and forgot a photo.

Lunch:

D bought a couple of Bartlett pears last time he went shopping, to try out with the “stinky cheese” we got at Country Cheese the other day. The cheese is called “French Reblochon.” Neither of us was crazy about it with the small Acme sourdough baguette piece the other day, but D suggested maybe it would be good with a pear. Hence, the pears, one of which was ready today. And he was right – it was much more interesting with the pear. Nevertheless, we don’t particularly think we should buy this one again. Especially at $25.99/lb πŸ™‚ D mixed up more Persian cucumber slices with the Strauss yogurt, and added some lemon chunks this time.

Actually, the big deal at lunch – well, there was more than one – was tiny artichokes that D bought the other day, evidently on a whim. He pressure cooked them 8 minutes on a rack in the pressure cooker, after chopping off the tops of the leaves. He also melted some butter to dip the leaves and itty bitty hearts into. Nice treat!

 

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Lamb kebabs, Thai jasmine rice, dino kale – 2 April 2019

Our friend R showed up for D to drive him to the airport, with bottles of recorked wine for us to finish. Amazing. We had planned a salad, which would go nicely with the rose we were thinking of having with it, but one of the opened, mostly-still-present bottles was a CalStar Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir (Mendocino) from 2015, which we had no idea was still around. So I defrosted some lamb chunks and we had kebabs for dinner. I microwave-defrosted the lamb, and then salted the chunks with 1/2 tsp salt, carefully salting each piece, then turning them all over and salting the opposite side. Reading Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, and she says salt early and don’t be cautious, so I did and didn’t. We later decided that 3/4 tsp would have been preferable, but it was not past the limit of acceptable salt. [I weighed the meat in two steps – in its glass container, it weighed 1lb 14.3 oz, and today (writing the 3rd) the container weighs 1lb 4.5 oz. SO…] …that was for 9.8oz of lamb, or a bit over 1/2 lb for two. I also gathered some thyme from outside, and pulled off the leaves, and also those from a leftover branch from a few days ago that had been sitting in water on the island, and minced that. finely minced one clove of garlic. I drizzled some olive oil over the lamb, then tossed in the garlic and thyme and mixed with my hand, covered the lot in the glass defrosting container, and left while I went to an interesting seminar. I think the marinade went on by 2:30 or so, so it was on for just over 4 hours before cooking. D took out the lamb about 6:30 while I took a shower, so it was close to room temp by the time I skewered it and grilled it (on high, first oiling the grill) for a few minutes on a side. But first, I started a cup of Thai jasmine rice, with 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt, and also washed up half of the bunch of dino kale D bought at the Bowl. D decided to try just dutting the kale crosswise into small chunks so we wouldn’t give up also eating the stems, and he sauteed them (stemmier parts starting first) in I think just olive oil. The stems were still too tough to be pleasant to eat, so D wants to cook them separately next time. Interesting that he is so intent on not wasting the kale stems all of a sudden, since he resists eating chard stems. New leaf?Β  Anyway, it was a worthy try, but didn’t work.

The wine was excellent. I already spelled it out above.

After working on our taxes and having Turbo Tax fail on us when we were almost done (I think this is the last year for Turbo Tax) we had more of the Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream I bought a week or more ago, and the last of the Thin Chocolate Sauce – Mom’s recipe. It was a lovely dessert, but I would rather not have still been fighting with TT at the time.

 

Lunch:

We both really liked the Kerry Irish Cheddar we got on Sunday at Country Cheese, so we re-ran those grilled sandwiches from yesterday, though I left out the onion from mine and stuck with mayonnaise and cheese. We ate up the broccoli florets that I had cut off when using the stems for calzoni several days ago, and D mixed more small Persian cucumbers with the Strauss Dairy yogurt and some cumin seeds I think – for a bonus dish.

I went to a 3:30 seminar, before which the goodies table was laid out, and I had a sumptuous treat – which, in truth, was not a good choice to serve without plates, forks, and in truth, tables. But it was luscious! I should have noted the name of the patisserie.

 

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Leftover grilled polenta with black bean salad and poblano/cilantro sauce – 1 April 2019

Well, this couldn’t have been easier. I just took the bean salad and the sauce from the fridge, and also the half-tray remaining of polenta, cut the polenta in half and brushed both sides with canola oil (Wesson, I think the only brand the Bowl had, perfectly fine) and grilled 5 minutes on the first side and 3 on the second.

 

I cut each polenta piece in half in two different ways to play with presentation for amusement.

I put on the beans, and put the sauce on the table. Done! Here’s a recipe, from Weber’s Art of the Grill. I now cook 1/2 recipe polenta, full recipe bean salad, and double recipe green chili sauce.

D brought up a bottle of a new fave, Copertino, which is mostly Negroamaro. I thought it didn’t go quite as well as the CalStar ZaZaZin we had with the first night of this meal.

Later we had the last half of the cantaloupe D bought the other day. Delicious dessert!

 

Lunch:

We tried out the new cheese we got at Country Cheese yesterday: Kerrygold Dubliner Irish cheddar. Just defrosted a couple slices of Acme Italian for each sandwich and grilled it. I had onions on half mine and none (only mayonnaise) on the rest. D had the whole shebang, including mustard. I thought the onions didn’t add anything much to this particular sandwich, but the cheese was great. An “austere” sort of cheddar – different from many. D also mixed up, as he has been doing lately, slices of Persian cucumber with Strauss Family yogurt. He adds seeds and spices and lemon in a variety of combinations – don’t remember [writing the 5th] which it was on this occasion.

 

 

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Spaghetti alla puttanesca – 29 March 2019

Knowing we were going to the Monet exhibit, and would be away most of the day and tired by dinnertime, D suggested Puttanesca for dinner. It’s relatively easy though this one had complications we were not expecting. Berkeley Bowl got Gaeta olives again!! They had pits, so D ended up having to pit them before cutting them into halves for the pasta sauce.

He fetched parsley from the garden, and shopped for bread and bananas and the olives. He was looking at a recipe is Georgeanne Brennan’s Olives, Anchovies, and Capers, which started with a pound of pasta and a 28oz can of tomatoes. I pointed out that we usually use 1/3 of a 14oz can of tomatoes for 1/3 lb pasta (from Diane Seed’s 100 Best Pasta Sauces) for the two of us, and then also pointed out that there were two tomatoey leftovers in the fridge: a bit of the sauce we didn’t use over the broccoli calzoni, and the tomato juice from the can I sorta-drained for the piperade (juice kept in a jar). He decided to mix those and use them, and it turned out great. The sauce also has two (or three?) anchovies [so this is meatless, but not vegetarian] and capers. It was really delicious! Unfortunately, we forgot to put away the tiny bit that was left, which D imagined would make an interesting start for something.

D bought his favorite Acme Italian Batard at the Bowl, which was, of course, excellent with the meal. He also bought a wine that we had forgotten to buy as a “tester” when choosing a case a couple weeks ago: a Kermit Lynch-imported 2017 Langudoc, which we had for dinner and enjoyed. At $10.99 it’s a fine deal even without the case discount. We’re betting it’s $11.95 at Kermit Lynch.

 

 

Lunch:

After the Monet, and then a brief but satisfying tour of the Steve Kahn photographs, we went for lunch before heading home. On the south side of the park we found an Arizmendi, which we knew would be excellent, and also it’s nice to support your local collective. Lucky day – they were trying out a fairly new pizza, and it was really excellent. The enu said “Roasted potatoes and masala curry,” but there was [even] more than that. The potatoes, the guy at the register said, were soaked overnight in masala curry (I wish I had asked if this was before or after roasting), and the pizza had not only whole milk mozzarella, but also parmigiano (which I had thought I could see in its finest-grated form, in tiny dots). There was parsley over the top that looked slightly cooked, but it’s likely that happened as it sat on the pizza, having been added post-cooking. Anyway, superb pizza!

The drink cabinet was oddly uninteresting to me, but I chose out an Odwalla-like drink by Columbia Gorge called Mango Cogo. It was tasty and I enjoyed it.

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Broccoli calzoni – 26 March 2019

We had three broccoli stems to use up, but they were getting old (with gaps down the center, in some cases). D was going to the store, and since we’d planned to use up the stems in this meal but might not have enough, I said why not get some more broccoli with stems (instead of “crowns” whose stems are minimized). He did, and I ended up using all the new stems and most of the old ones to get the 2 cups the recipe calls for. Then I was ready to prepare the cheese, oven preheating and all that – and wait… do I actually have mozzarella?? It’s such a staple I never think of it. I didn’t see any quickly, but D suggested there were some pieces in the freezer. And there were, but they were old… So I pulled out two, shaved off what looked to me like freezer burn from one of them, and tasted a bit. Slightly odd, but not bad. D agreed that it was good enough for this recipe, which has so many other tastes. So I used 3 oz rather than 4, and 2 oz of parmigiano. I also had to make new dough to do this, so I have two 1/3-recipe rounds in the freezer, and split the other 1/3 recipe for this. I wrote the official recipe on the backup recipe blog, here.

D was thinking about broccoli and cheese and suggested we use the Slovenian “Mea Culpa” wine in the fridge, but I said no, needs a red. So he went to the cellar and brought up a “tester” from Trader Joe’s, a Grifone Riserva (2014) Chianti. It was fine, a good choice, though nothing to write home about.

We had the last two cookies from R. He made the chocolate ones, which he says have no flour or dairy in them. Amazing! But I forgot to take a picture tonight. I need to go back and add the description to last night’s entry, don’t I…

Lunch:

I made us grilled cheese sandwiches with raclette from the Bowl; put mayonnaise on both sides, and thinsliced red onion on miine. D wants to try this without mayonnaise, even. It was a really good sandwich, and I liked the onion on it. Also quick-sauteed, in butter, a good pile of the edible-pod peas that D bought (again) in a discount bag. D came home from the Bowl with a bag full of little Persian cucumbers, and set about chopping them into rounds and putting in yogurt, with dill seeds and flax seeds. He couldn’t find cumin seeds. It was a pleasant addition to lunch.

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