Mushroom tart on puff pastry; pea pods – 5 January 2018

Now that we’ve got the wine, I wondered if we could do the tart it went with. That is to say: at Piperade, we shared a mushroom tartlet, and asked the server/bar guy what wine to have with it. We loved the wine and I tracked it down. So on to the tart, with a decent but imprecise idea of how to do it.

For starters, the tartlet was on what looked like a puff pastry, and I’ve never used that. Epicurious has some suggestions in their primer on frozen puff pastry. I found that Pepperidge Farm puff pastry was on sale at the Bowl, 2 sheets for $4.99, so I bought that, though Epicurious said it did not age as well as the others. But the taste was fine. I calculated the size of pastry using half a sheet for each one, with 1/2 inch of edge folded in, and split the sheet to make two of them. I did a mediocre job of following the directions by liliscakes to crimp the edges, but it was ok for a first try.

Very puffed pastry at 10 minutes

The Kitchn has a slide show about puff pastry, and since the PF box says “bake according to your recipe” and offers no other advice, I used Kitchn’s suggested baking temps – but not times! The pastry was done sooner than expected. 425 for 10 minutes – stuff the center back down if it puffs up (wow, did it!) and another 25-40 minutes at 375. Well, it was another 10 at most, in our small oven. I’m used to things taking a bit less time there, but this was quite a difference.

I bought a large head of maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms and a large eryngii, but didn’t use all of them. I used just “leaves” (feathers?) from the hen, and maybe 4/5 of the eryngii, starting at the top b/c the bottom was less tender, after peeling off the very outside thin bit. OK, I weighed the leftovers and discovered I probably used about 1/4 pound of each – that is to say, the leaves of the hen and the peeled top 4/5 or so of the eryngii.

I minced one fat but not enormous clove of garlic, cooked that half a minute to a minute or so, tossed in the eryngii, cooked 4 minutes over med-hi and then a bit lower heat, then added the hens and thyme leaves, perhaps 1/2 tsp of them, and cooked several minutes. Salted, but did not measure. When the mushrooms were done, I stirred in about 1 Tbsp creme fraiche, half at a time, and served the mushrooms over the pastries.

To try next time: Use a higher ratio of mushrooms to pastry. D says the one at Piperade was “more liquidy” and I should try more creme fraiche. I think more opinionated mushrooms than eryngii might be good. Hen was definitely in the original – could see it. Try [almost?] as much mushrooms with half the pastry, so as not to die too soon πŸ˜‰ Turn over the pastry edges much less, leaving a greater space in the center. Could consider trying 400 degrees with no change at 10 minutes – someone used that, don’t remember who.

OK, veggie: I cleaned and pulled the threads from pea pods and patted them dry and left on a towel. D quick-sauteed them in butter, salting and peppering, just before dinner.

The Irouleguy is great. Herri Mina 2015, which the Bowl’s outstanding wine buyer ordered for us, after I tracked down the importer in the North Bay. We bought 6 and have already used two of them. I think we may need to go back for the other 6.

 

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Soup with capon stock, updated with sausage; salad – 4 January 2018

D wanted to add salsicce secche to his soup from Tuesday the 2nd, so that was dinner tonight, which finished up the soup. Last time (2 days ago) he served out all of the penne he had added, b/c he didn’t want the leftovers to be all soggy from sitting in the broth for a couple of days. So tonight, in addition to the sausage (which was brick hard, but softened nicely in the soup) he added casarecce. The soup was rich and delicious.

He also made a salad; since we had discussed this at lunch, I prepped the lettuce and took the bad bits off the red cabbage while D&R talked about how to choreograph moving/working for the next few days. D made a salad with the romaine and cabbage, plus celery and scallion slices, and a very nice red wine vinegar vinaigrette.

D bought an Acme ciabatta before lunch, and we had a bunch of that with dinner, after making sandwiches (below) with it for lunch. And D ran off with the removed heel as a snack in the early afternoon – I saw him πŸ™‚

D chose a Rio Madre Rioja from the Bowl that we got as a tester, and it was pretty good. At $11.99, that makes it borderline, but I wouldn’t object to trying another bottle. I think I’d open it earlier, though. Nice flavors. It’s 100% Graciano grape, which apparently is unusual – it’s more commonly a mixer.

 

[Draft: will we have dessert? A: no, not tonight. publish :)]

Lunch:

We ate up the last of the ossau-iraty cheese that I got at Cheese Board before Christmas (then managed not to get there in the 3 days they were open before their January break this week). D went to the Bowl on the way back from his dentist appointment, and bought an Acme ciabatta, a tomato – for moisture in sandwiches, regardless of lack of tomato taste – and some white mushrooms, just on principle. We went back and forth about whether to make a salad or what, and he said ok, salad for dinner and I’ll make mushrooms now. He cooked them in butter with **. I made sandwiches with the cheese, romaine, tomato slices (S&P’d), thin-sliced sweet onion, mayonnaise, plus mustard on D’s. They were really delicious sandwiches. The cheese costs a fortune, but I’d like to get it again sometime anyway. I didn’t notice the price – over $30/lb – when I saw the name for the first time on the pre-packaged shelf at Cheese Board and recognized from the risotto at Piperade – just grabbed it.

Here’s a view of the “holiness” ofΒ  the center part of the ciabatta πŸ™‚

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“Cheese foccacia”; mixed, sauteed greens – 3 January 2018

Went to the p.o and found NO MAIL after not going since the 27th. Could this be true? I went to the Bowl late, not just when they reopened, to get bananas for breakfast, mostly, but then I also decided I wanted mixed sautee greens to have with dinner. The “foccacia” is unyeasted and involves rolling a flour/water/oil dough out thin, and then rolling the top piece even thinner, so I wanted to do that and then take a shower before dinner, so I enlisted D to put the foccacia in the oven a few minutes after I left and then take it out 1 minutes later. Tried making it w/ a soft-taleggio-substitute I got at Cheese Board and which needed finishing up – Bresciella – but IMO it was too strong a flavor for this dish. D liked it fine, though. I gave him part of my second quarter. I sprayed the bottom layer with water using the Misto and pressed the layers together thoroughly after dotting on the cheese, but it puffed up anyway. I don’t know how I have gotten it to stay nicely down in the past – not rolling as thin so it’s heavier??

I tried a 1/5 recipe this time, which was a pretty decent size for the two of us. I’ve typically used 1/3, [LOL! That recipe was also on 3 January :)] and also have notes for 1/4 recipe. For 1/5 recipe: mix 1 cup flour with 1 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp (not really measured that carefully – overflowed the Tbsp) EVOO, then add just short of 5 Tbsp tepid water and mix. I mooshed the dough a bit before wrapping in waxed paper and letting it sit inside a small mixing bowl in a pan of slightly warm water, covered, for an hour. The water treatment would not be necessary in a warm room, but it’s January. I kneaded the ball in my hands a bit after the hour, and the dough ended up very nice and pliable. Split into two pieces, one larger than the other by a bit but not 2x, and rolled. The top layer needs to be thin enough for you to see the bread board through it. Dot the bottom with cheese, spray lightly with water for sealing, layer over the very-thin top layer and press, uselessly, between the cheese bits, and bake 500 degrees about 10 minutes.

I was not careful with picking the greens from the almost-out bin of saute mix, and got some really unhappy chard leaves, but the rest – dino kale, radicchio, curly kale, other(?) – was great. I washed once, tore or cut into 1 1/2″ or so pieces, put into the salad spinner, rinsed again, drained (it’s raining, so no use tossing out front – saved me some time, just dumped the wash water) and spun, then laid on a towel until D could saute it while the focaccia cooked. Usually we give this a bit of water and let it steam after wilting in oil, but this time it was just sauteed, so the “braised greens” tag is a bit off.

I thought the foccacia was usually served with a white wine, and D found the Cantina Le Monde Ribolla Gialla (2016) from Wine Mine in the fridge. It was annotated Fish Dinner, but I said what the heck let’s try it. It was also annotated “not your run of the mill white,” which was certainly true. And we should have had it with a non-salmon fish (something simple, like tilapia) but D thought it went really well with the cheese. I thought it was fine, but would like to try it the way we intended for it to be used, if they have any more (which is unlikely, at Wine Mine).

Later, D cut a thick chunk of fruitcake and halved it for dessert. Meaning it’s still sorta Christmas. Besides, the tree is still up.

 

Lunch:

[Here ends the vegetarian portion of our program.] I goofed and forgot D wanted to add mushrooms to his great wild rice-mixed rices thing that he cooked with the smallest bits at the end of using the capon. He was nice about it (of course). We reheated that, and also I cooked up the other half of the small zucchini I had bought intending it to be one meal for two. D overestimates how much veggie something will make, I think. Anyway, there was half a zucchino πŸ™‚ left and I cut it into half-moon slices, cooked it in EVOO and added a bunch of dried dill weed (and salt), an old favorite way to serve zucchini. I also opened the P’tit Basque half-round of cheese we’d gotten at Costco last visit (Dec) and cut a wedge for each of us, putting into a slightly-heated, open toaster oven till lunchtime to warm it up a bit, since I didn’t think of it till late.

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Bean/veggie/penne soup from Christmas capon stock – 2 January 2018

After boiling and reboiling this stock a few times, D finally made it into a soup, and an excellent soup it was! Here are the beans being checked for untoward inclusions:

We tried to use up tiny quantities of old dried beans (limas and kidneys) that D found in a mud-room reorganization a week or so ago, but when cooking them with some pintos, I found that the pintos were done when the older limas and kidneys were still crunchy. I moved all the beans to a plate and returned the two crunchy kinds to the water, but after a half hour, they were still the same. D decided to compost them and continue with just the pinto beans, which made up at least 2/3 of the total. To make the soup, he removed all the bones and veggies from the stock pot (got some bits of chicken into it, though) (and gave some of the stock to R&E). He cooked sweet yellow onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil, and then added the stock, beans, and finally the kale I picked today from the garden and stemmed (volunteer flat-leaf, which I preferenced over the curly kind b/c the flat-leaf tends to be more susceptible to critters – aphids? – than the curly stuff).

 

The soup was really good! We both enjoyed it a lot. Wondering if the salt was really high and will dehydrate me and keep me awake tonight… but we shall see. D wants to add some salame secchi tomorrow night (when it is supposed to be raining – good soup weather!).

D decided to try the Primitivo from Brutocao (2013) that we bought on spec at the Bowl, to complete a case, when we went for the Irouleguys a couple days ago. We both liked it, but not in an “I must get more of this!” way – much prefer the Brutocaos we got at Grocery Outlet – which someone from the winery recently told D they sold to GO b/c they were different and Brutocao didn’t think they could sell that style. Alas, b/c we liked it better. We still have a Brutocao Pinot Noir from the Bowl that we will try soon.

Here’s the wine on the table, with a defrosted bit of Acme sweet baguette:

 

 

I wanted dessert, and D chose chocolate over fruitcake this time (I was leaning that way, too – we had fruitcake last night). that would by Harry & David chocolate. I said we should leave the simpler chocolate flavors to have with the rest of the tempranillo dessert wine, so D said cherry or raspberry then?I pointed to one with red stripes, and that was cherry. It was tasty πŸ™‚

 

Lunch:

We had sandwiches using defrosted slices of Acme Italian Batard, which we bought

Saturday before the Bowl went on two-day hiatus the 1st and 2nd. Used up the last sliver of tomato (salted and peppered)from the burgers, some romaine, planed bits of Ossau-Iraty cheese from Cheese Board, thin-slices sweet yellow onion, and mayonnaise (and mustard for D). This made a terrific sandwich! I boiled up the last four Brussels sprouts, quartered, for 4 minutes, then drained them, dried the pan over heat, and melted butter, tossed in the sprouts, salt and pepper – as usual.

 

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Hamburgers; refried potatoes; carrot sticks – 1 January 2018i

I can’t believe we started the year with hamburgers. LOL! I said to D are we really having hamburgers on the first of January? He said they’ll be really good hamburgers… So, didn’t do anything special for the day – D worked on his studio, and later on we went for a workout walk before dinner. Nice day, really.

And they partly were, but I can’t say I was crazy about the buns. More on that in a bit.

I defrosted on halfish pound packet of Coscto hamburger, and D made the mix, with onions, garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, salt and pepper.

I bought the buns on the 30s, in a packet that said 1) that their sell-by date was the 8th of this month, and 2) that they should be eaten or frozen within 48 hours of purchase. So, they won’t keep till the 8th on my shelf but they will at the Bowl? Silly marking. Owel. So, the buns: R said awhile back that they had found buns they really liked, and I got him to show me once when we both set out for the Bowl simultaneously (the night we arrived back from Florida, with a half hour to spare before the Bowl closed…). I think these were the ones – Prezilla. Unfortunately, we were not taken with them. They were squishy and collapsed to a thin layer when bit into. there are two more (in the freezer) and I want to try grilling them when we use them up. Going to try Acme soft round buns, too. The advantage of squishy buns is that they allow you to bite into them rathen than pressing down with the tomato and burger being poked out the far side of the bun.

Anyway, I put ketchup, mayonnaise, (plus mustard for D), thin-sliced sweet yellow onion, and slices of the tomato that had made us think of hamburgers (this one bought for a sage and gorgonzola pizza on the 22nd and sitting on the kitchen windowsill since being discovered redundant). The tomato was really un-tomatolike except for being red and fairly juicy, which was certainly something, if far from what one would want in a tomato (in August).

Peeled a carrot and cut it up. Wowee πŸ™‚ D chose that over something even moderately complicated.

I saw D putting cut up onion in oil in the large cast-iron pan – clearly for refrying with the potatoes – and said don’t you need that pan for the hamburgers instead? And he said I’m cooking them in the same pan. I was skeptical, but ti worked fine. The potatoes were well browned and delicious.

D chose a bottle of Protocolo that we bought at the Bowl on the 30th, when we went for the Irouleguy wine, and which had not made it into the cellar yet. Good choice – an old friend, solid, enjoyable wine, and amazingly cheap, at something like $7.99. This one’s a 2015.

 

Lunch:

Last time I was at Cheese Board I needed to get some taleggio for D to make a risotto (which he did on the *th) but the CB didn’t have their usual soft taleggio, so the CBer offered me this soft cheese – Bresciella – as well as a dice-able taleggio. True to form, I bought both, but we never got around to eating this one. It was tasty on the defrosted Acme Italian batard, that we bought and mostly froze in slices on the 30th, against the unavailability of the Bowl on the 31st (due to upcoming closure) and the 1st and 2nd (due to closure). I think I should make the rest of the Bresciella into a “cheese foccacia” from Recipes from Paradise. Anyway, D reheated the rest of the new batch of potatoes and poblanos gratin by microwaving it and letting sit with a cover on it, and he also made a very good salad with romaine, celery, and scallions (b/c it was there). Then I cut up the end of the poteca and tried to broil it in the toaster oven, but the upper element really didn’t seem to heat very well. Buttered the pieces, but the butter melted only slowly. I stuck the pan back into the oven! But the poteca was good πŸ™‚

Breakfast:

Started the new year with one of the organic Clover Dairy eggs that are so good and big – fried it up, while warming my Paula Ross small plate in the toaster oven on very low heat, and toasting a halved piece of Morell’s multi-grain bread frozen after the chili dinner on the 17th. Chunked half a banana and a glass of milk on the side. A most excellent breakfast!

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Spaghetti with leftover capon bits; Brussels sprouts – 30 December 2017

D cooked an excellent pasta, using up some/most of the small bits of capon that E removed from the carcass after our Christmas feast. He started by cooking some red onion, then celery slices, in olive oil and Mystery Grease (I will check to see if I can figure out what was in this container), then added the chicken bits and some parsley. Toward the end, he added some vermouth (Cinzano). He tossed the cooked spaghetti into the small cast-iron frying pan and tossed a bit, and brought this to the table, which kept it warm while I finished the Brussels sprouts. I just quartered the large sprouts (8 of them) and boiled in salted water 3 minutes, then drained, melted butter in the pan and returned the sprouts with salt and pepper and tossed them in the melted butter.

I bought an Acme Italian Batard today, which we hope will last us through the Bowl Drought, till they reopen on the 3rd. OK, they’ll be open tomorrow, but going to the Bowl on the day before a two-day break is scary…

Herri Mina! Herri Mina! We had this wine at Piperade on the 14th and loved it – enough that I tracked down the importer and got our wondrous wine buyer to order some, which we picked up last evening. It’s a fascinating white, with some bite – reminds me of something else I’ve had, and I want to say Alsatian, but am not enough of a connoisseur to nail it. the wine is 2015 Gros manseng, Petit Manseng, and something else (the labels on the bottles we got do not list the grapes, but the restaurant one did), and is from Irouleguy. Love it!

For dessert, D requested our second-to-last servings of R-cookies. These are so delicate and sumptuous – just perfect!

Lunch:

D had wanted to put some of the Chile Colorado over potatoes, so I cleaned and boiled up four Yukon Gold “seconds” and we used maybe half of them for lunch. Put a bit of butter on, but with the chile, it’s not obvious that was necessary. Eating a bit of buttered potatoes before I put on the chile was nice, though. Will recook the remaining boiled potatoes soon, likely frying with some onions. We also remembered we had a small number of edible-pod peas, so D cooked those up, just boiling them and then salting and peppering.

And we had another R cookie πŸ™‚

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Leftover taleggio/kale risotto with freshly cooked parsnips on top – 28 December 2017

My notes said that the amount of parsnips called for in the La Cucina Italiana recipe for this was too small – we used it all up on our first two servings. So this time, I bought two instead of one large parsnip, and saved one of them for today. While D&R were finishing up outside, I cut the parsnip into [wildly varying] rounds perhaps 1/8″-plus in thickness (those from the very-small end of the parsnip cut diagonally) and started them cooking slowly in 1 Tbsp butter. D later added the 1 tsp sugar and shakes of salt, and I added the [remarkable] 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar near the end of cooking. This was the slightly smaller parsnip, and after cooking a bit, we added the leftover bits D didn’t use two days ago from the larger one. D heated the leftover risotto, just slowly in the large cast iron frying pan. It was good, but without quite the excellent taste we remember from previous editions. The taleggio was not as flavorful – this set you can actually dice, unlike the more melty previous one – so that might be it. But the parsnips did not cook up with such a special taste, either. Mystery. I bought a Semifreddi Ciabatta just before lunch – intended to get an Acme Italian Batard, but there were zero Acme white loaves at the Bowl. Perhaps a missed delivery? Anyway, this was a really good bread.

D chose our minervois from The Wine Mine, St. Jacques d’Albas 2014, which I had trouble finding in the cellar, perhaps b/c the top is grey, not dark/red, or perhaps b/c I thought he had said we had about a case left, and there were more like 5 of them in a box at the very end of the shelf. But anyway, the wine was really good!

Later, D asked if I wanted potica or fruitcake for dessert. I was leaning toward fruitcake but am concerned that the potica is getting dry – but D said “fruitcake” and that’s what we had. Yummers! Will toast the potica if it needs it πŸ™‚

Lunch:

Got the Semifreddi Ciabatta in time to make sandwiches, as planned, for lunch. I used the first bits of a romaine I had bought I think Sunday at the Bowl, on spec given the upcoming two-day food-drought. E had taken all the meat off the carcass of the Christmas capon and neatly packaged it in three containers, one with slabs fit for sandwiches, another with smaller bits that we just reheated last night, and a third with tiny scraps, which D deemed fit for an upcoming pasta. We used only about half of the “sandwich” container today, so will have more sandwiches tomorrow. Notably, I spread a bit of the Chile Colorado onto the bread (on mine, followed by mayonnaise) and this was an excellent addition. D wants most of the chile to serve over potatoes on some near-future day. I steamed the broccoli bits 3 minutes, then tossed in melted butter with salt and pepper. Excellent lunch!

Sometime after lunch, D came out with one of R’s exquisite cookies for a treat πŸ™‚ I let it pose on the shimmery red fabric that came around (and still is a skirt for) the bouquet D bought before Christmas. πŸ™‚

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Chili-rubbed capon roasted with carrots; Chile Colorado; kale with cilantro and white onions; gratin potatoes with roasted poblanos – 25 December 2017

We’ve done this dinner before, more than once. It’s from Gourmet Dec 2000. By Friday we had not taken time to discuss what to cook, and finally I said to R why don’t we just re-run the capon dinner? My major motivation for remaking this dinner was actually the scalloped potatoes with poblanos – which turned out to be the favorite, I think of everyone, though some averred that the meal was best when you ate everything together. R recalled that this meal looked nice on the “French Provincial” table setting, but we recently used that (TG I think) and I had wanted to get out my china, which R agreed we had not done in ages. He ended up saying how good the meal looked on this set. The white tablecloth was less than enthusiastic, and is at the moment undergoing one of the almost-zero hot washes I ever do, after being spotted under boiling water late last night.

The capon is rubbed under the skin (E did this – she seems to be our meat chef!) with an ancho chile/cilantro butter and roasted, with 2lb carrots, split and cut to about 3″ lengths, in the bottom of the roasting pan. the photo shows it when I had just taken it out of its pack, after it sat for four hours or more in cold water in our round, island sink, where it fit so nicely (unfortunately I did not get a picture of it there!)

Thank you, bird!

Bought frozen on Friday, the 7.8 lb capon sat in the fridge till Monday morning and was still largely frozen. Four hours in cold water, changing every 30 minutes or so (keeping a plate on top b/c the capon wanted to float) defrosted it nicely. I had put it on a larger plate after this picture Saturday morning, and there was no sign of drips on Monday, so I deduced that the packaging was intact, which proved to be true. We didn’t add any additional wrapping for the soak cycle.

The Chile Colorado starts with dried chiles, split and deseeded, then toasted on a cast-iron pan for half a minute, soaked, and blended with cilantro and other stuff. I was less entranced this time by the flavor of the chile. I remember it as being irresistible. I wonder what was different.

Carrots are split in half, then cut into about 3″ pieces and stuffed around the capon in the roasting pan, so they cook in the juices. Delicious!

The “poblano potatoes” are simply scalloped (Russet) potatoes with layers of roasted (+ peeled, seeded, chopped) poblanos in between the layers of potatoes. The milk in this recipe, however, is heavy/whipping cream, heated to a simmer (I let it get too hot but it seemed ok) with a peeled garlic clove in it, and left to sit. Half and half could be substituted for a less indulgent day. I’m sure that the heated liquid is important at allowing the potatoes to cook thoroughly in the time stated.

The kale – FOUR BUNCHES of it, is stemmed and washed (I did all of that* – plus washing the cilantro three times b/c the first two still yielded sand in the bottom of the rinse bowl!) then cut crosswise into very thin strips (E took over here) and cooked, mixed with white onion and cilantro. This was cavolo nero or “dinosaur kale.” I bought this from the organic section of the Bowl, simply b/c when I walked by it it looked so absolutely gorgeous. Mounds of it…

*I observe that I seem to work mostly as prep-cook for our big meals – partly b/c they’re in my kitchen and I’m aware of the stuff that has to be done early, and there I am. So this time it included washing kale and sandy cilantro (3x), peeling carrots and potatoes, roasting, peeling, seeding, and chopping poblanos, aggressively defrosting the bird, etc. Then I get the table looking pretty while everyone else finishes up, in a grand ballet. Interesting how little I know of what other people are doing. We just manage to get it all done.

Wow, I think that’s it for today’s cooking. E sweetly baked us little cute mini-loaves of Tassajara Summer Swedish Rye bread (my suggestion) yesterday, and we had some “dinner roll” stile ones for lunch, and some of the braided one for dinner. The remainder are in the freezer now.

 

E received a bottle of Ballentine Vineyards 2015 Zinfandel from her work teammate, and wanted to share it, so we had that for “cooking wine” – wine to drink while cooking – and D wanted to show R&E the Susumanielo grape, so he brought up a bottle of Oltre Me that we got at a Wine Mine tasting a few months ago or so. These were well received.

 

 

 

 

 

We had dessert rather (t00) much later – one of the fruitcakes I chose to keep for us, from R’s and my Mom-memorial 100th birthday fruitcake spree. R brought over some cookies that are supposed to age a day, but IMO they were already perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, eggnog! R makes the most wonderful eggnog, from Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Includes a spiced rum that needs 5 days curing time (“near a window”)!

 

Lunch:

Not sure why this popped into my mind, but I wanted to show R&E this amazing recipe after one from ‘ino. I wrote it up here, after a fashion. Endive leaves are separated (the original, ‘ino recipe uses escarole), braised in oil (with salt), then topped with thin-sliced onion and milk-soaked croutons. To make the croutons, I bought a Semifreddi Sweet Batard yesterday; we used it for lunch, then dinner, then D sliced four pieces to freeze for sandwiches, and the rest in thick hunks to dry overnight for croutons. These are soaked in much too much (3 cups) milk – I used whole this time – for an hour, squeezed out, drizzled with oil, and toasted in the oven 15-17 minutes at 400. I find that they stick to the pan, so I pull them out after 5 minutes and slice them off and turn them over with a spatula, then repeat in another 5 minutes.

D claims he has no memory for white wines, and I think he’s right about that. He tucked into the freezer this perfectly lovely wine, Pomelo, which is sweet and lively, and completely wasted on this lunch. But good to sip afterwards πŸ™‚ I see I was sufficiently against it that I didn’t even remember to take a picture – LOL! But lovely wine.

Mid-afternoon, R suggested we eat up his & E’s leftover eggnog so there would be room in their VitaMix for a new batch for evening. Tough, work, but somebody’s got to do it! Plus, it was an excuse to use the demitasse cups from the china πŸ™‚

 

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Grilled pork chops with sage gremolata; sauteed greens; braised cippollini – 24 December 2017

Traditionally my family had an easy chili for Christmas Eve dinner b/c it went together quickly and then simmered for 3-4 hours while everyone ran around madly trying to do stuff they should have done days – or sometimes weeks – before. This time we had the chili on the 17th, when we decorated the Christmas tree. It was a funny little warped thing, and D and I set it up after our walk, so the hard part would be done before R&E came over. Chili: good idea! So tonight, not much to do, as not at Mom’s, not doling out Mom-levels of presents, not going to our old church at 8 o’clock.

D wanted to try a gremolata again, this time including sage, since he had good luck with the gremolata-with-rosemary recipe, served over fresh cranberry beans, on the 19th. Sage was his idea. And he thought, reasonably enough, that this gremolata should be served over pork chops. So I defrosted a Costco chop, and D did all the cooking. He split it into two thinner (but still substantial) chops, flavored with salt, pepper, and garlic slices. [I’m writing this up the 5th of January, but I remember the cooking of these was the same as of the previous ones on the 16th.] Gremolata is basically chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic, with a drizzle of olive oil over the top. And sage, this time. No cooking, just served fresh over the top.

When hunting for sweet onions at the Bowl, I had run across an almost-empty bin of small cippollini, and bought six of them, thinking D would like to cook them to have with the chops. Good call. He basically braised them in olive oil, with balsamic vinegar as a flavoring late in the process (at the end?). One of the onions went bad before he got to it (probably a bad buy on my part – it wasn’t that long) and one got rather cooked down, so we each got two and a remnant.

I wanted to have sauteed greens with this – bought a good mixture at the Bowl, with chard, dino kale and curly kale, and radicchio leaves, which I cleaned well and left to dry on a towel so they would saute well (seen here with “cooking wine” – wine to drink while cooking). I cook these in olive oil with a minced clove of garlic and some salt, and after they wilt, add a bit of water, cover, and let them steam.

I bought a Semifreddi Sweet Batard, thinking this would be as good a choice as I had at the Bowl for the Christmas lunch milk-soaked croutons. (It worked great.) We had some for lunch, more for dinner, and froze 4 slices for sandwiches, then D cut into thicker slabs to let dry overnight before making the croutons.

D wanted to have one of the Susumaniello wines that we got at Wine Mine. He’s suddenly got a thing for this grape πŸ™‚ It was very good with the meal as I recall.

I liked the lines in the crust of the Semifreddi bread πŸ™‚

Lunch:

We had some of the Ossau-Iraty that I bought at The Cheese Board when I noticed the name – the cheese that was in the risotto we had at Piperade on the 14th. Mui expensive (>$30/lb) but I just grabbed it b/c wanted to try it by itself. We really liked it a lot! (Since I am writing this almost two weeks later, I can say it makes an excellent sandwich, too.) The bread also worked will with this cheese. D made an excellent little salad to go along with it, just Nicoise olives over romaine. Might be some celery in there? D makes really great vinaigrettes – I remember this was great, but not what was in it. Perhaps champagne vinegar?

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Pizza with potatoes, roasted red pepper, and tapenade – 21 December 2017

A great fall/winter pizza – and a favorite. D really liked/s it and agreed with me that we liked it better than the Cheese Board pizza we had for lunch (got while picking up Fontina Valle d’Aosta for this pizza) – though that was perfectly yummy. I wrote up the recipe here, and have a good printout, so I pretty much followed it. Could use perhaps less oil, since this recipe was for half-crust and I am now using one-third-crust, but really it was great. It’s a favorite pizza and a good-looking one as well.

I went to search out wines in the cellar with 1 1/2 hours to spare, so decided I could choose one of the Citrans (Costco, $25) an Haut-Medoc we had first in Germany at the home of a friend/colleague of mine, then found back at home, lost, found at Castagna in SF, and were referred to Costco as a source. Also have found a (much) more recent vintage at K&L. It was good – the airing (without pouring or decanting, just opening the bottle) I think did it good.

 

We had another, an especially pretty, pear from the Harry and David stash sent by D’s Dad P and his caregiver T. It was very good, though this year’s pears are not as mind-blowing and life-changing as we have noted in the past.

 

 

 

Lunch:

Another two-pizza day! I was out and about half the morning, ending up at Cheese Board, so, with D’s concurrence, picked up a half-baked, half-pizza. I cut this into quarters, and cooked two at a time (all that fit) in the toaster oven for 5 minutes at 400. Note to self: the second pieces were better done than the first, likely b/c the oven was pre-heated by then. Preheat the oven. The sign tells all I know about the ingredients. I liked the pizza = enjoyed the novelty of the ingredients quite a bit – but it was not a magical, to-die-for pizza that one comes to expect at CB.

 

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Pork chops; mixed, leftover rices; edible pod peas – 16 December 2017

D cooked everything tonight. I defrosted a thick, boneless Costco pork chop early in the afternoon, and D took it from there. He split the chop into two thinner chops, seasoned with garlic slices, salt, pepper, and sage, and let them sit for perhaps an hour, then grilled themΒ  – perfectly! He seems to have boiled the peas. He cooked some sliced onion in butter and oil, with a little sage.

He mixed our two leftover rices – Thai jasmine and brown – and heated them in a pan with some water, and added butter when serving. It was a delicious dinner!

D chose a red wine, which surprised me, but the grilling of the chop made it made sense. Besides it was our wonderful Chateau Manissy Cotes du Rhone (2015) from Wine Mine – one of our favorites, b/c of an earthy taste to it.

I really wanted some dessert, and evidently so did D, b/c he washed up some of the grapes he bought today and brought them out to the table

Lunch:

D finally used up the pheasant stock he made with the bones from the TG critter. He used this for a mini-sorrel/leek soup (from Georgeanne Brennan’s Potager), which I suggested b/c we had a lot of enthusiastic sorrel in the garden, and a solo leek in the fridge from when I bought two and needed one. After the initial… recognition that the soup was different – the smoother stock resulted in this – I really enjoyed the soup. It has potatoes, leeks, sorrel, and stock, with additional chopped sorrel leaves and chives over the top for serving. I defrosted two ends of an Acme sweet baguette, and realized we had the excellent Cambozola cheese, so I cut that and left the two pieces in the sun so they’d get nearer to optimal temperature. D chose the Founders’ Breakfast Oatmeal Stout that was in the fridge – a small one, which we split so not knocked out for the afternoon πŸ™‚

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Broccoli calzoni – 15 December 2017

When I went to the Bowl… was it last week? … I bought some broccoli with long stems, thinking to use the stems in this dish, while having the florets for our veggies a couple of times. I left some florets on the stems in case there was not enough there, and indeed I used most of them, also. I peeled the stems and cut them into a small dice, and steamed 3 minutes (w/ D kindly pulling out the steamer when the timer went off, so I could continue with the dishes). This is usually an easy dish, b/c all you have to do is defrost a frozen dough and some frozen tomato sauce – but, none! I had to make both the dough and the sauce, which made for a rather crowded day, especially along with laundry ‘n’ stuff. I made a new batch of dough (about 1/3 white whole wheat, 1/3 unbleached white, almost all King Arthur, but the new batch of Costco flour crept in at the end) froze two pizzas worth after the first rise, and divided the third into two balls, worked them a small bit, and replaced them in the warm rising bowl, re-oiling them from the remaining olive oil. These had only a half hour or so to rise, but they perked up nicely. For calzoni I roll the dough rather than stretching it, so I rolled these out to perhaps 9″(?) circles. I followed the recipe I used when visiting brother B, who really enjoys this dish. Grated 4.5 oz (shooting for 4) part-skim mozzarella, 2.x oz (shooting for 2) parmaggiano (both also from our most recent Costco trip) and mixed in the broccoli (pretty well dried due to sitting in the strainer for at least a half hour) and 1 Tbsp dried dill. I salted the broccoli just before adding, but probably not enough. Hard to guess, and I really should measure sometime. Anyway, overall I thought the dish lacked flavor, but D said it was fine.

The tomato sauce recipe, adapted from 32 Zesty Pizzas, and scaled up for three (but this will be 5 instead) pizzas: mince >6 cloves of garlic. I used six or seven monsters, cut each into 6 or so chunks, and cuised in our small Cuisinart to mince. Godsend! Also used our nifty garlic peeler to peel the cloves first, and wow, is that ever worth using. Open the cans first: 28 oz tomato puree and 6 oz tomato paste. Then cook the garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil over low heat till soft but not brown. Since “soft but not brown” can be delicate to nail, you are ready with the tomato puree to cut the heat quickly. Then add the paste, plus 2 Tbsp dried basil and 2 Tbsp dried oregano, ** tsp salt, and several grinds of black pepper, and cook… well, it says 15 minutes, but I let it go a lot longer. I ended up with 4 cups of sauce, and used 1 cup, plus 1/2 cup water to thin it, reheated for this dinner, and divided the other ~3 cups by eye into 4 aliquots, which should mean there is/are 3/4 cup in each of the containers. Froze them.

The calzoni baked the requisite time in our small oven: 25 minutes at 400. Good, but not exciting. I probably should have added in the rest of the broccoli (i used a scant 2 cups and was wondering if it would fit) and perhaps salted more.

We had the last, I think, of our tester wines from Costco – a 2015 (“150 years”) Mirassou Pinot Noir. This is from Modesto, says the bottle. Good, drinkable wine with no real negatives for $5.99. We might buy more of this but not compelled to do so. May as well have something cheap and pleasant around, really.

Later, we each had another of the Mini Frosted Peppermint Cookies that we got yesterday on a whim at Sur La Table in the Ferry Building. Very good cookies! They’d better be, at $1 each…

 

Lunch:

The o-konomi-yaki recipe suggests the pancakes can be eaten “cold on the beach,” so we suspected “cold at the table” would also work. D wanted to try a dipping sauce, and found one in our Vietnamese cookbook, with ginger and two dried red peppers in it, among other things. Lime juice. Had no fresh ginger (it always dries out on us so we don’t just keep it on hand) so he used [a rather random amount of] powdered, at my suggestion. Didn’t taste very gingery, but worth trying with proper ingredients. The pancakes look pretty cool with the purple cabbage in them! I think I used too much sauce on my o-konomi-yaki b/c I couldn’t taste the pancakes, and thought they were better without the sauce. There are more of them, so will try using less sauce next time.

 

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O-konomi-yaki – 14 December 2017

What a great day! We went into the city by BART, had coffee at Blue Bottle at the Ferry Building, walked to a gallery exhibition I wanted to see on Geary near Market (and added a second while we were in the building), then to lunch at Piperade.

I made what I had planned for dinner – O-konomi-yaki, using the recipe in the Tassajara Bread Book, that we used to make decades ago. This was prompted by our still having some of that monster red cabbage we got for I guess Thanksgiving dinner? Recipe uses 1/2 head of cabbage – but I think I used about 1/4 of this one at most, and it was still a lot. One large carrot, which I halved (in the thinner part) and cut into three parts (in the thicker part: one less-than-half cord, the more-than-half split into two) and then cut crosswise into very thin half- or quarter-moon slices. D sweetly ran to the Bowl about 6:30 to get celery, which I had thought we still had. It was terrible celery, actually – not like the Bowl at all, but it was on sale for 49 cents for good reason – the bases were split and hollowed, and I lost at least half of three stalks. Recipe calls for three, so I amassed that much celery and sliced thin. I also sliced a more-than-half onion, and the remainder of an old, now-soft onion, both yellow. Cut the half-moon slices into shorter bits, though per my notes in the book, I left the cabbage pieces a bit longer to make “lacy pancakes.”

 

They weren’t all that lacy, and I think changes could be profitably made to the recipe, not least of all b/c it just makes too much! The recipe has 2 cups flour, whole wheat and unbleached white – I used equal parts the King Arthurs white whole wheat and unbleached … all-purpose I guess. Plain flour. The reason I think of this recipe as un-reducible is that it has one egg, and one “tall can” evaporated milk. But then it asks you to add water to make a batter. It’s already a batter, the only question is how thin you want it. So I’m thinking: use the egg and the can of evaporated milk, but reduce the flour to maybe 3/4 cup each, and add more if the batter is impossibly thin. Then you can reduce the volume of veggies a bit, too, make many thinner pancaked, and not worry (as I did) about undercooking the insides. So they’re just spooned onto a hot frying pan – I started with med-hi, but ended up thinking slower would be good – medium – and spread a thin coating of vegetable (not olive – I think it was canola) oil on the pan. I used both our large (regular) and our medium cast-iron pan so as not to keep D waiting too long for dinner. I upped the salt, per my notes, from 1 tsp to 1 1/8 tsp, but I think it could even go to 1 1/4 tsp at the recipe-specified volume.

So, when we got home, tired from all that walking, and zonked from having actually had an entire bottle of wine at lunch, I took a nap, and got up only at 6pm. That’s why we ended up eating closer to 8 than to 7. Also why I suggested having our last Lakshmi lassi (mango) with dinner, instead of wine. It was great!

Lunch…

was especially notable. [This ends the veggie portion of our program, as the rice dish had bits of meat in it.]

I had wanted to see the photo show before it closed, and meanwhile D said we should really to go Gerald Hirigoyen’s lunch restaurant sometime. So said gallery, then lunch? He thought that was a fine idea (on a day when it would interfere minimally with their work on the studio) and we looked for Hirigoyen’s downtown restaurant – non ce! Evidently it closed. So we checked on Piperade, where we had been to dinner once, and there was definitely lunch available, so we planned on the 1+ mile walk from the gallery. B/c of the Google “when is it busy” bar graph feature, we didn’t worry with reservations, but when we arrived, it was packed! Several group tables. Later, the waiter said it was highly unusual, and probably everyone had decided to have their office parties there. There was one person dressed sorta like a bride, too. So we could sit outdoors, or inside at the bar. I decided it was too cold for outdoors (later, upon leaving, I wondered if that had actually been true, but probably that was b/c I had been quite comfy and still retained that) so we sat at the bar, which was a lot of fun as we got to chat with the server, who was mixing drinks. [Other server picks up two cocktails – which is which? D says “probably they couldn’t tell the difference anyway.” Server says “well, they’re really different – they could tell. For the first one, anyway ;)]

We decided on sharing one appetizer/small plate and one entree – which turned out not to be very big, either, but it was a fine amount for us to split. We had a “Seasonal Mushroom Tartlet” – (“Thyme, Garlic, Creme fraiche”) – which was something like puff pastry, no doubt baked on its own, filled with perfectly cooked mushrooms. We certainly identified hen-of-the-woods, and I thought there was a porcini in there, but maybe not. Eryngii? Hard to tell. thyme, definitely (the menu even said that, we noted later) and creme fraiche. I’m guessing cook the mushrooms – even separately, perhaps, according to their individual properties? – the thyme was clearly sauteed with them b/c looked like a teensy forest fire had hit it. Then mixed,warm, with creme fraiche and placed into the heated tart shell. It was superb!

I zeroed in on the Basque rice – “Gaxuxa” (my share pictured above – they kindly split it for us without being asked) – which had two kinds of meat strips (Benriner-thin), squash dice (“I don’t mind squash this way – mixed with stuff,” says D) bits of spinach (pretty!). Here are the ingredients, per the menu verbiage (photo kind of oblique, so I have to copy myself):

Chorizo, Squash, spinach, Ossau-Iraty [a cheese, we are told], Espelette

The food was excellent, but the wine was actually the big hit. The server suggested it, and gave D a taste, which I shared. D said yup, I want that and I said me too. I asked if I could see the bottle, and the server left it out for photos. It’s labaled Herri Mina 2015 Irouleguy, and the grapes listed online are Gros Manseng, Petit Corbu and Petit Manseng.

Later, the waiter said another glass? and D said sure, and then the guy started to pour me one too, and I said so are we just going to order the whole bottle now? And D, with only the slightest hesitation, said sure. He was the one who was all “we can’t have a whole bottle of wine at lunch!” so this may indicate how good it was. Anyway, it was super good and we will hunt it down locally (Importer: Martine’s Wines, Novato). It cost $60 at the restaurant, glasses $15 (yikes) so the actual bottle price is probably an affordable $15.

And then we walked down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building again, bought some coffee beans from Blue Bottle (didn’t earlier b/c didn’t want to carry them all day and would be back nearby anyway) and strolled around a bit, and bought some funny cute plaid napkins – see photo – from Sur La Table on sale for $9.99. They’re cuddly flannel. Would make nice sheets, actually πŸ™‚

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Pizza Margherita; Brussels sprouts – 12 December 2017

OMG Doug Jones won!

Whoopeee!! Plus, we had a pizza Margherita, always a good thing, not least b/c it’s so easy (once you’ve got frozen cubes of sauce and frozen pizza dough). I defrosted 5 cubes of Margherita sauce, and a 1/3 dough (that had about 1/3 “white whole wheat” flour in it) and pulled quite a few leaves – very large, large, and a couple normal – from our new (these are the first leaves) indoor basil plant for winter. Drained the 2 balls of Gustosella mozzarella di bufala.

Margherita is not veggie rich, so I also cleaned up and quartered about 6 seriously large Brussels sprouts, and boiled them in salted water for 3 minutes, then returned to the drained pan with butter, salt and pepper and tossed. I left the pan on low to keep them warm for a few minutes while I dealt with the pizza.

So, the pizza stuck to the stone on one side, and a piece of it pulled off and the liquidy topping spilled and it was something of a mess; but I pulled out the great round pancake turner and grabbed the renegade part and put it back with the rest of the pizza, and it was all fine. Tasted GOOD!

 

I decided we should have another of the tester wines from Costco, and brought up a Toscana 2015 Sangiovese by Bocelli. It was quite good. When I first opened it, I didn’t think it particularly needed airing, and returned the cork, but later I wished I had opened it a bit more before dinner. But I’d buy more, I think. It cost $11.59.

Normally, computers are off the table at mealtime, but on election nights, they stay. Totally worth it this time!

 

We had another of the truffles from P&T’s gift from Harry & David – this time, a raspberry one. Very good!

Lunch:

I wanted to show the orange-salad recipe to R, so suggested he come to lunch when E (who has a problem with raw onions) was at work. So, we did that today. Used six slices of the Semifreddi Ciabatta for sandwiches with the last of both the Vermont and the French raclettes, cooked in the panini press. They were great! R didn’t find that the orange salad flavors blended that well, except for one bite, but he may have got a taste on one of his last bites. He liked it, just didn’t think it was a synergy.

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Grilled swordfish; avocado and orange salad – 11 December 2017

This is a recipe from the cookbook Tsunami, from the like-named restaurant in Memphis. R&E ate there several years ago, and brought us this cookbook as a result. I’ve made this a few times before. The fish is simply salted, peppered, and grilled. D thinks it took about 10 minutes – 8 or more, anyway – on our range grill, on high.

The salad takes all the work! Both the salad and the dressing have (for two people – half a recipe) half a lime and half a lemon of juice. The dressing contains the juice of the other halves of lemon and lime, and adds half an orange, which is unnecessary in the salad b/c the salad contains an entire orange of sections. That’s the pain in the butt part – carefully getting the orange sections out of their membranes. The salad also has scallion tops, sliced, a small garlic clove, minced, a Tbsp of cilantro, chopped, and salt to taste. Oh, and an avocado, which was why I thought of doing this in the first place – we are using up Costco avos, which all came due at about the same time. The dressing has fish sauce and about 1/5 of a jalapeno (should be 1/2 – that’s too much – but D&I both thought that 1/5 or so was too little. Of course it also depends on the pepper and how hot it is…) The dressing seems almost superfluous since the salad has lime and lemon juice already, but there really are additional flavors. Perhaps decrease the juices in the salad to just enough to keep the avo from oxidizing? Recipe says to serve with “plain rice” – I used Thai jasmine, as I usually do – to sop up the liquids, and that worked well.

We also added some of this morning’s Semifreddi Ciabatta, which was great tasting and great at sopping. We’d used the first bit of the loaf for lunch – paninni-pressed sandwiches with Vermont raclette and mayonnaise. Had a bit of baby bok choi along with that, cooked in olive oil and butter.

 

I decided to try out the new vintage of the McIlroy Chardonnay (2015) that we just got from Costco. I don’t think it’s quite as marvelous as the 2014, but is still quite good so likely we will buy more when we run out of 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

Received recently a package from Harry and David, a gift from P&T, which contained truffles and a dessert tempranillo (!) to go with them. We’ve held off on the tempranillo, but tonight we tried out the first of the truffles (there are I think 24 of them!) – two of the four cherry chocolate ones – and they were delicious (unsurprisingly).

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Omelette with piperade; orange, onion, and olive salad – 10 December 2017

This was the last thing D wished to make with the piperade, and there was just enough left – which might have been by design, come to think of it… He made a 3-egg omelette with just a bit of milk, salt and pepper unless I miss my guess, and added small chunks of the French raclette we got at Cheese Board on… Saturday. He added the piperade near the end, I think, after the cheese had melted. I warmed the omelette plates in the small oven, which didn’t actually light in the time it took for D to cook the omelette(s) (he made one and cut it) but the pilot/starter took the cold edge off the plates, anyway.

D also made, at my request, another orange salad, with very-thin-sliced red onion over the top (sit 1/2 hour), then Gaeta olives and olive oil and piment d’espelette to finish it. We pretty much had this for dessert b/c we both evidently wanted to eat up the omelette while it was warm. And who could stop eating such a delicious omelette, anyway? πŸ™‚

I took the last five slices of the Acme Italian Batard from the freezer, toasted and buttered four of them, and left the last (defrosted in the toaster oven for a smidge of time) for sopping up good juices.

D brought up a sorta-tester wine from Costco, a Hanna sauvignon blanc from 2016*. D thought we’d had only their chardonnay previously, but this blog has only SBs. Anyway, it was good, and good enough to buy more of. Quite dry, went well with the omelette and oddly with the first bite of orange – but then I just ate the salad and finished the last glass of wine afterwards.

 

When I was off to the Bowl, D suggested, remarkably, that I get some vanilla ice cream so we could eat up a packet of not-so-sweet blueberries from Costco. This was a yummy dessert – and this was its second incarnation, using up the ice cream – Three Twins Madagascar Vanilla – but not quite using up the berries. But really, I will eat them up πŸ™‚

 

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Pizza with Italian sausage, tomato sauce, arugula, and cheeses; orange, olive, and onion salad – 9 December 2017

I intended to make a pizza I first made in 2012, based on an epicurious recipe – just tomato sauce, mixed, grated fontina Valle d’Aosta and Pecorino Romano cheeses, and arugula tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette over the top. But. The arugula from the pillow R bought last week was too damaged and I got only a tiny bit of surviving leaves from what we had left. R&E donated their also-dying remainder (in slightly better shape than ours, though – sorta) and still I didn’t have enough to cover a pizza. With D’s concurrence, I defrosted the last Christopher Lee Italian sausage and made a sausage pizza, with the arugula in the tomato sauce instead of on top. I removed the sausage casing and just skoodgled the sausage to cook it, in a bit of olive oil. I defrosted the apparently-last three cubes of Wells sauce, which I thought was a lot but in fact it was a bit less than I usually use (finally noticed that later… 3/8 cup is less than half, last I checked…{sigh}). Anyway, I had heated that in the microwave to defrost and then evaporate a bit of the water, but added back a bit of water when I decided later to stir in the arugula and cook in a pan for a few minutes. I said to D, and he agreed, that perhaps less opinionated cheeses would go better with the sausage, so used a scant 4 oz mozzarella and about 3/8 cup grated parmaggiano, mixed. I was having minor trouble stretching the dough, so quickly resorted to rolling it with my curved rolling pin (fatter in the center); then after pre-cooking the crust as usual for 1 1/2 minutes, I put on the sauce (this is when I actually noticed that three cubes is 3/8 cup – oops) and topped with the sausage, then the mixed cheeses, and baked (at 500) for another 5 minutes or so. It was fine, but not exciting, and would have benefited from more sauce. However, it was also quite salty, and it Wells sauce would only have exacerbated that. I had momentarily thought of adding some margarita sauce cubes I found in the freezer, but decided against it. Probably would have been a good idea.

Oranges soaking up onionness

D wanted to make (and who am I to argue with that?) the excellent orange salad for which he bought lovely oranges back as far as Thanksgiving. OMG. He made a small version – just one orange – and we shared it on one plate. This salad is from Mediterranean the Beautiful – you place thinly sliced red onions over peeled slices of orange for a half hour, top with olive oil and olives (these were Gaeta from the Bowl, the best choice I think) and something hot – cayenne? Anyway, outstanding and unexpected blend of flavors.

The wine was chosen to go with the pizza, not the salad. Another tester from Costco, and we were not impressed with it, and won’t buy more. The bottle says Brotte “Creation Grosset” Cairanne, Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2015. It was ok, and was less rough around the edges than the G we had from this Costco trip, but still, not good enough to buy more.

 

 

 

Lunch (added the 12th):

This was the day we went to The Cheese Board and got both French and Vermont raclettes. D wanted to grill this sandwich on Acme Italian Batard) on our panini press, and that worked great. Also had baby bok choi, sauteed, and some vetiver lassi from Lakshmi Lassi and Chai – one of my favorites of theirs. But it would be hard to choose an unfavorite, it’s true.

 

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Tilapia; piperade; brown rice – 8 December 2017

D really wanted to try the piperade alongside a fish. I went to the Bowl and texted him some options, and he selected tilapia. No bones! That’s a big plus for me. The smallish fillet I got was maybe half a pound? D cooked the fish in the frying pan, using a bit of olive oil and some of the liquid from the piperade, and then later added the piperade alongside it to reheat.

They worked really well together. He made brown rice to go with it, which was a nice choice. I enjoyed this dinner a lot.

D went late for the wine, so chose a red that was sure to be ready to drink upon opening – another 2008 Brutocao Zin. We have only six left, he says. Ack! This was one of our greatest Grocery Outlet finds.

Picture also shows the end of an Acme Italian Batard, which was new, but most frozen, sliced, after the lunch bread was taken.

 

The blueberries D picked out at Costco turned out not to be very sweet, and we were not eating them, so he suggested I buy a vat of vanilla ice cream to have them with. I chose Three Twins Madagascar Vanilla, which was of course quite good by itself, and a fine complement to the berries.

Lunch:

I’m writing this entire the 13th so missing a fact here and there. Like what was in this sandwich – which was obviously grilled in our panini press. It would have been a raclette, b/c D pulled out the press the day we bought raclette – but I thought that was Saturday. Which was the 9th. Hm. Must have gone to Cheese Board on Friday. We had French raclette this way one day and Vermont the next, and they were both good, though very different. At the start, I was making the sandwiched and forgot about adding thin-sliced red onion, but when D took over (raclette blitz, to finish it while it was good) he remembered and that was really great, too. Broccoli steamed 3 minutes, then tossed in melted butter, salted and peppered. Delicious! I’m saving the long stems to peel and make into “broccoli calzone” sometime soon.

 

I

 

 

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Dinner at an annual holiday party – 7 December 2017

We went, as usual, to the holiday party thrown by N&T, before attending the symphony. The food is great; the lighting is not photo-friendly πŸ˜‰ The party and the symphony seem to have settled into the same annual pattern for their December events. Fortunately, the party starts at 5:30, and we went just after 6, and were able to stay till about 7:15. I saw some friends, and had two plates of food, the second pictured above and down a bit, the first farther below. Right near the door (first plate), they had roasted potatoes, roasted yams, ham etc. At the end, I went back for a couple more potatoes and also tried a small bit of ham then (excellent!), though I usually forego the more standard stuff (ham, turkey) b/c the dim sum are so delicious.Β There were regular potstickers, and also huge ones

Same plate, filled – but fuzzy so I couldn’t bear to put it at the top. Lousy lighting for photography, though nice for a party.

filled with chives (the only thing that I was not enthusiastic about), a pork bun on the left there, shrimp dumplings, chicken skewers with peanut dipping sauce (just peeking out), and two rolled things over on the right – one fresh and cold, the other with a crust on it.

Here’s the first little plate with the potatoes and yams. It also has a spinach dip and a smoked salmon dip spread on bread.

I tried both the white wines, and they were both good, but I preferred the X one – “Bohigas Xarel-lo” 2016 – to the Pays d’Oc Chardonnay (Monte Vallon, 2016)

 

 

 

Lunch:

Madly using up the arugula before it all dies. I cleaned up half of what was left, tossing anything that was difficult to sort out in preference to still-good leaves, since the good ones will go bad while we eat the dicey ones. Decided just to eat the good ones. Also, three of the Costco avocados came due, and I popped them in the fridge last night, and we used up one in this salad. Just my normal one – avocado, olives (used up the Nicoises) a bit of romaine – the arugula is unusual, actually – and a dressing of olive oil and red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Delicious salad! D made sandwiches using a new Vermont raclette we got yesterday at Cheese Board. It’s very different tasting from French or Swiss (we tasted both of those and preferred the French, I for its texture). We decided to try it out in addition to getting the French. I defrosted a smallish piece of Semifreddi sweet baguette I froze a couple days ago, and D made sandwiches with the cheese, romaine, and mayonnaise. He wished he had used mustard on his part. I liked it with must mayonnaise.

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Pizza with walnuts, gorgonzola dolce, and arugula – 6 December 2017

We have a half-pillow of arugula from the Bowl, since R found a pillow and asked us to split. Our half I think was pressed into too small a bag, and is a bit broken up and therefore its lifetime is shortened, so we have to be even more aggressive than usual about eating it up. I cleaned up about 2 cups of it for this pizza. The rest was per this previous edition, which I followed, but I didn’t really guesstimate quantities of cheeses well, so had over 6 oz of mozzarella (part-skim, a new Galbani loaf from Coscto) and about 2.8oz gorgonzola dolce.

I took a picture of the pizza as it came out of the oven b/c it looked kinda pretty with the snaky red onion pieces peeking through the cheese, before the arugula was put on top.

I was thinking of a rich chardonnay for this, but D was hesitant. R said “rose!” (they were working together on the upstairs floor for the studio) and D consented to that, not least, I expect, b/c, as he noted, we had one in the fridge. I can’t say it was a great wine, but pleasant and drinkable – Ananot, made with the Bobal grape, and bought for $9.50 at Wine Mine. We’ve had it before. Was also nothing special as a match for the pizza, but didn’t fight it.

 

 

 

Lunch:

What a great day! Pizza for lunch and dinner! We went to Cheese Board (and ATM) on our post office trip, in order to get some cheeses for sandwiches and pizzas for the near future, including today’s gorgonzola dolce. Their pizza of the day was an eggplant one, and I really didn’t remember ever having an eggplant pizza from CB before (though I believe I now remember that our friends B & C brought some over the night before our house was lifted up back in 2002).Β  But anyway: bought a half pizza for lunch.

Loved the pizza, especially the bites with eggplant, though D didn’t think it was “one of their better ones.” I thought it looked pretty cool before it was finish-cooked (5 mins at 400 in the toaster oven – we had to do this in stages, two pieces, then the other two).

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Grilled pork loin chops; Brussels sprouts; piperade – 4 December 2017

D grilled one boneless top pork loin chop from yesterday’s Costco trip, split into two normal-thickness pieces. He put lots of garlic slices (“which fell off”) on them while they awaited cooking and warmed to room temperature, as well as salt and pepper and several smallish sage leaves from the garden, in smaller pieces. I saw him add more garlic after turning the chops, and he says he also re-salted them after turning (and re-pepperred). He cooked them on high, mostly covered, on the front (less hot) part of the range grill. They were as close to perfectly cooked as I can imagine, and perfectly delicious.

I kept out this chop while freezing the others b/c D wanted to try pork chops with the piperade I had made, and he really liked the combination. I loved both separately and enjoyed them together, but the chops were really so good alone I hated to mix the taste with anything. The piperade is supposed to keep well for 5 days in the fridge, according to Mr. Hirogoyen’s cookbook Pintxos.

I cooked the sprouts, first peeling off decayed layers, then halving or quartering or something else (cord and split the fatter piece) and boiled in salted water 5 minutes, then drained and returned to the dried (by heat) pan with melted butter, salted and peppered them, tossed well, and left on low till time to serve. They were excellent, too. We’re both glad we didn’t inherit the hating-Brussels-sprouts gene (which D’s Mom clearly had, though I don’t know if any sprout-hate running in my family).

We had another of the “tester” wines from Costco, and we both liked it but not as in (per Sandra Boynton) “I like to breathe.” May get more to try out. It’s sort of flinty (but not very) Pinot Grigio from the Dolomites. Name is Tiefenbrunner, which sounds more German but it’s from Italy. Costco guy E said one of them was in the German style, and this is probably it. I love the label, too. It’s actually not as interesting when you analyze it as when you get the gestalt of it, which is delicate and complex.

D bought an Acme rustic sweet baguette before lunch so we could have it with both meals, and we actually finished in one day. Partly b/c lunch was so dependent on it.

D bought some grapes on his Bowl run today – purple seedless ones. They’re not as yummy as the monster green ones we’ve been having, but they did provide a good dessert.

Lunch:

Lunch was great, too. We’d bought Cambozola at Costco, and unfortunately didn’t really get it out early enough, but other than that, a wonderful lunch. The Cambo was really good, just not as perfect as it could have been if we’d thought out lunch earlier. D got the Rustic at the Bowl to spread it on, and sop up salad dressing and push zucchini onto forks ‘n’ stuff. He cooked the last half of a white zucchini with onion, in oil, salt, and pepper. I made a salad with arugula from the pillow R bought I think Sunday and split with us, and some of the last of the romaine from the fridge – inner parts in great shape. While trimming and washing the arugula, I noticed that it is slightly damaged – looks as though that would be b/c it’s too crowded in its bag, I think so we really have to get on using it. I thinly sliced (vertically( half of the persimmon I bought at Grand Lake – was it really back then, on the 25th of November?… or perhaps at Berkeley more recently… anyway – cut the slices in half to bite-sized and topped the lettuce/arugula with them. I made a dressing of olive oil and red raspberry vinegar, salt and pepper, adding a bit more vinegar after tasting, and it turned out to be quite a good match. Very enjoyable lunch.

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Flatiron steak; refried potato patties; filet beans – 25 November 2017

Another day at the Grand Lake Market for D&R, and so another Prather Ranch opportunity. I asked D to pick up a thin flatiron steak before they ran out, since I was not going to be there till lunchtime, and he got a nice one. Also, Tomatero Farms still had dry0farmed early girls, and I bought a bunch of those, and also three good looking avocados from a guy from near San Luis, who said they had recently reached into the Bay Area successfully (cupla years ago). And a gigantic onion for tomorrow’s Mom-memorial soup. We have lots of leftovers. Instead of going into the TG ones tonight, though, we ate up the leftover boiled potatoes with parsley and butter from last night. These were overcooked, so didn’t hold their shape and were more like mashed potatoes; I made them into patties and fried, using olive oil rather than butter this time, in part b/c I wanted to cook them hot for a nice crispy exterior, in part b/c they already had a bunch of butter in them anyway, and in part b/c we were talking about putting some of the TG gravy/port wine sauce over them and we thought that butter was not its friend. In the end, I thought that the potatoes were as good w/out the sauce as with. The beef was superb. D topped it with garlic slices and salt and pepper, and thyme leaves from the three sprigs that didn’t get used on TG. He cooked the steak over a bed of rosemary on the range grill. D got out a big pile of filet beans (this batch from Mexico) and trimmed them, and said they should be boiled I washed them up and boiled them 3 minutes in salted water, then drained and returned them to the pan in which I had melted some butter, salted them and tossed in the butter. A really easy dinner!

We had another bottle of the Barbera d’Alba (Guido Porro 2016) that we really liked the first bottle of, but we were not excited about this one (again). I think we need to bring the next one up really early and let it breathe.

Lunch:

Oh, good pizza! Arizmendi Lakeshore had (though you have to PHONE to find this out) roasted potato and poblano pizza with mozzarella and a lemon-garlic-oil sauce, with cilantro. It was really good. Not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but certainly most enjoyable, sitting on the ground (rug, actually) at the farmers’ market booth. D&R had Trader Joe’s I think Vintage Ale but b/c I would drive soon, I tried only a couple sips of it.

Farmers’ Market flowers come home as table decorations after D&R use them in their booth.

It was Christmas Tree Day at the Grand Lake Market.

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Roast pheasant with bacon and thyme; mixed wild rice with wild mushrooms; strange, bright-colored pear thing – 23 November 2017

My last winter-celebration dinner at home was TG 2014 – I’ve been off to visit Mom while I could, which was great, but I did miss our big cooking events. So, here we had a good one. E wanted to have one of our sorta-famous meals, but then D texted from the Bowl about finding several birds – duck, goose, and pheasant – and wondered if he should get one. I said ask E b/c she was the one who wanted one of our more traditional dinners, but E (apparently) said sure, so he bought the pheasant and then we had to figure out something to do with it. That was Friday. Then Saturday we discovered that Kermit Lynch’s Beaujolais Nouveau was really good this year, so we decided to have that and had to figure out what to do with the pheasant that would work with a Nouveau. Not really a problem πŸ™‚

On Sunday, R&E came over before dinner and we pulled out computers and Gourmets and La Cucina Italiana (Cucinae?) and pored over them. E found pheasant recipes, and we chose this one from “marxfood.com”Β which has thyme-butter and bay leaves under the skin, and bacon all over the top to keep it moist. It worked great! D&I went bay leaf “shopping”on our walk in the morning and got a couple of fresh, pliable leaves. I prepared the 2 Tbsp thyme early (D did some of the leaf-pulling) and remembered to take out the butter and defrost five half-strips of bacon.

E was not satisfied with this and got some of theirs, too, and really covered up that critter! She did the final butter-mooshing after I had tucked it in, and also trussed the pheasant and got it entirely ready to roast. At the end, a port/redcurrant jelly gravy was made with the small amount of juices, plus a bit of stock. The gravy was outstanding. I missed getting a shot of D’s platter of cut pheasant, which he decorated with the bay leaves.

D took over the “appetizer” recipe, which turned out to be our only sorta-veggie (it was fruit) b/c we forgot to cook the filet beans/haricots. It was quite a production, involving boiling pears in red wine (used some undrinkable-but-cookable from an old bottle or two) and slicing boiled and unboiled/uncooked ones. The bizarre bit was a garish purple goop made from cooked

borlotti beans and red cabbage that went on top. Also, raspberries – which I had to run all the way to Safeway across town (only stores open were Safeways) to get b/c the ones from Monday, unsurprisingly, had gotten icky – dotted around the edge with black stuff.

OMG this site has the entire Cucina issue and you can page through it! The recipe is on page 126.

I think D may have ended up also cooking the wild rice pilaf. Or E. Or a collaboration. It was more or less from Real Simple. They used at least white-capped pioppini, some hen-of-the-woods/miatake, cremini, and the foot of my eryngii mushroom from the 18th.

 

 

We had a bit of the aforementioned Kermit Lynch Beaujolais before dinner, and finished it along with the meal, then also opened a bottle D brought up of Plavina, a 2013 Croatian “dry red wine” from The Wine Mine that I wrote “light, tasty red. grilled or roast chicken,” so I guess this was a good choice by D. I can’t say I really noticed this wine enough, as it was late and we were more involved in food and conversation by that time. We ended up pouring off the last 1/3 bottle for later use, so perhaps will check it out better then.

R chose a dessert from the Ottobre issue of Cucina, to which recipe, for some reason, “issuu” opened when I googled it. So, you seem to add slash-page# and there you are. Here is the cake-like thing, on page 90 of the issue (though my notes say p. 88, for some reason – I think I didn’t look it up but it was read to me).

I was full and left about 1/5 of mine for morning. Plus, R left us two unbaked ones that we can cook and eat soon. They are basically chocolate and praline. Super good, super sweet! We had a tiny bit of espresso with them, though it was rather late for caffeine.

 

Well, instead of “cooking wine,” R&E offered to supply us with the St. Augustine distillery’s version of gin & tonics, and they were spicy and really neat. Then they brought over the last of their cider (I think this is the one that did the exploding-bottle trick awhile back) and just before dinner was ready we opened the Beaujolais and had that for cooking wine, and most of dinner.

 

 

 

Lunch:

Almost an afterthought for such a blog entry, but we had grilled cheese sandwiches – Prima Donna on Morell’s Country Batard –Β  and Romano beans. Lovely lunch πŸ™‚

 

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Burrata, baby lettuce salad, and roasted, marinated red pepper; yellow beans – 22 November 2017

This is pretty much a direct copy of a previous dinner, which was a direct attempt – quite successful – to copy Vino Volo’s plate called “Burrata.” the first time I had this was at IAD, (24 March 2016, as it turns out), where the veggie was marinated roasted red peppers. In other seasons they use roasted tomatoes, but I wanted to copy the peppers when I tried it. My first attempt, combining an online recipe with balsamic vinegar, is here, along with the recipe. The recipe says it’s for 1/2 red pepper, but I used this amount for a moderate-sized whole pepper this time and it was plenty. D was very impressed by the peppers, though he is mostly just indulging me with the cheese, I’m sure. I bought two balls of cheese from two different makers, since there was no package at the Bowl with two balls. Realized upon opening this one – from Belfiore, which is here in town – that it was really pretty large. I’m guessing the two-ball packages consisted of 4-oz balls. This was 8 oz. So I cut it in two, and it held together well enough on the plate.the other one is Bel Gioiso, which the Bowl person said people like better, but I thought the one we had was very good. I did hope to have a taste test, though.

I’ve had this several times as a take-out from various airports, always in a modest, brown paper box, and it’s great to have as my airplane food, but it looks a lot prettier decoratively served on a plate πŸ™‚

The aforesaid copied dinner said the salad was dressed with olive oil and champagne vinegar vinaigrette, so I repeated that (why not?) but I think the dressing was a bit too salty and also I used too much of it, so ungreat. Edible, just nothing special. I saved up six (but used only four) frozen slices from this week’s ciabatta for this dinner. I brushed the defrosted slices with olive oil and heated them on Hi on the range grill, moving them about every ten or twenty seconds, mostly, so they would not burn when over hot spots. This turned out great.

 

D cooked the yellow beans in salted water, using them up.

I decided to bring up a “tester” wine from the cellar, and chose one that we got at Kermit Lynch last Saturday. It’s a 2016 Vaucluse called “le pigeoulet.” We thought it was quite good, but were not blown away by loving it, so unlikely we will get more of it, since it retails at $19 (and of course, we got 10% off that by buying more than 12 bottles of wine).

I couldn’t decide which wine picture I liked better…

 

Lunch:

E offered to pick up something if we needed at the Bowl, having decided to brave the day before TG herself. I asked for a sandwich cheese, not Henning’s b/c we just had that (still have a tiny bit) or Monterey Jack, but whatever they liked. [And grapes, for snacking] She brought me a hunk of Prima Donna (an aged gouda), which is great. I defrosted the last two large, center-cut slices of Acme Pain au Levain, and shaved the cheese, making a few layers. At D’s behest, this was to be “grilled,” (in the pan) and he also asked for mustard. I put mustard on his half, mayonnaise on the whole thing, and cooked in butter in the large cast-iron frying pan, covering with a smaller Revere Ware lid to keep the heat in so the cheese would melt before the bread burnt. It was a great sandwich! I also cleaned and cut up 8 monster-long Romano beans, boiled them 3 1/2 minutes in salted water, then drained and reheated in butter in the pan. That was a perfect way to cook them.

 

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4/5 Tomato tart; English peas – 21 November 2017

I went to the Tuesday farmers’ market wondering if the heavy rains had eliminated the possibility of more tomatoes from Dirty Girl Produce. But they’re south of here, where it rains less, most of the time, and indeed, there they were with tomatoes. They were not anything like the peak season wonders, but I bought some anyway. I was thinking “soup.” then I looked around and saw some excellent leeks – LONG white parts, with all the useless (though pretty) “leaves” cut off, so you’re not paying for them when you weigh in. Woa – tomatoes and leeks – tomato tart? And we have some of the Henning’s cheddar left! Ah, but it’s past basil season.

I texted D to see if he’d like a tomato tart if I could find some basil and he (at work on R&E’s back door, where the herbs are) pointed out that E had a bit of basil still alive, and would I like it. I was skeptical b/c E had considered making an end-of-season pesto the way we did,

The last of R&E’s basil went into our tomato tart.

but the answer came back “take whatever you like.” And when I got home, indeed the plants had too few leaves to support a pesto, and it was a bit of a chore to get them sorted out (from the dead ones) washed and trimmed. I cut up four tomatoes, one mediumish, the other three small. Two of the small ones were pretty good, but the others had large white parts in them. Amazingly, the tart turned out really well.

This recipe, interestingly, lends itself to being cut by 20%, b/c it has some ingredients that are sort of in “fives,” such as 2 1/2 Tbsp butter (-> 2 Tbsp) and 5 Tbsp water (-> 1/4 cup) in the crust. I used a 6.4 oz leek (instead of 1/2 lb), and random amounts of basil and cheese, as seemed available and appropriate, respectively.

I suggested to D that we have English peas along ith the tart, and he volunteered to fix them as long as he could be warned 20 minutes before dinner, so as to get started on them. It turned out that he had forgotten that he’d discovered they needed about 8 minutes, and cooked them for 4 (then drained, heated in butter with some mint from R&E’s front yard), so they were a little crunchy, but still tasted really good.

D chose one of the new Kermit Lynch Beaujolais Nouveaux we got on Saturday, and it went nicely with this meal, which likes a light red

We have a couple of roses out on our yellow rosebush, and at least one bud.

 

 

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Breakfast:

Waiting for D to come down, i made myself tea in one of my grandma’s teacups. The tea is “Teatulia,” a gift from a graduating student. I like it.

 

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