Snacks for dinner at a fundraiser at Fieldwork Brewery – 15 June 2017

We attended a fundraiser for our new mayor, deciding in advance to buy food if the provided snacks were not enough for dinner. The little mini-tacos – beef, chicken, and fish – were very filling, though, and quite tasty, and the beers were good, too.

Having liked the hoppy beer R&E produced, I asked for “Hop & Glo” which I enjoyed. D chose a chocolate stout, and I had a taste and thought that was great, too. Later, I had a “cream ale” they call Churro – I think that’s the closer one in the blurry picture at left – which R pointed out tasted like cinnamon, like the referred-to dessert. I liked it, too. I asked for a half glass but the very busy server forgot that part. D&I, and separately E&R, walked the couple of miles home, in the early evening light. It was a very pleasant evening.

 

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Using up stuff in the fridge: ricotta and spreads; grilled spring onions; grilled prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with Cambozola – 14 June 2017

So, D is on a very useful kick of trying to empty the fridge of stuff that is outdated or otherwise gone bad. We figured out a couple of things to have, and he went to the Bowl and bought, along with the short list on the chalk board, an Acme Sweet Rustic Baguette to spread stuff on.

He opened the ricotta container and found blue stuff around the top, and a couple of dots on the cheese below. I scooped out a lot of cheese and dumped it in the city compost collection (a milk carton – also compostable here) and put the rest in one of our little bowls for dinner. D pulled out a jar of fig spread that I bought awhile ago at the Bowl after tasting it – seriously figgy! [Orchard Choice California Fig Spread, made with California Mission figs] – and a neat spiced tomato jam that E made in September. Later, he went back to the fridge for the ancient guava spread, and the tiny bit remaining in a jar of ginger spread by “Ginger People.” The ginger was too hard to cut into, so he is leaving it on the table overnight to see if it softens up. There’s not much left.

The figs he bought at the Bowl a couple of days ago were not happy figs –Β  unripe, and too early in the season – so we decided to see if they would be better cooked. I noted that there were two slices of prosciutto from Trader Joe’s left that we could wrap around the figs; and D suggested stuffing the figs with Cambozola (Wikipedia: “Cambozola is a cow’s milk cheese that is a combination in style of a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Italian Gorgonzola.”). I was loathe to do that b/c the cambo was so yummy by itself, but in fact, I used up very little of it stuffing four figs. I grilled the figs on medium, covered, 3 minutes on the first side, 2 on the second, and they were great. D started the grill and cooked the spring onions, olive oil coated, for something more than 5 minutes – as much as ten? – on the first side, and probably 5 on the second, while I added in the figs to the grill, so they’d finish about the same time. The figs were great! Really enjoyed them this way. We have done this plenty of times, but normally used quite ripe and happy figs. This was a good way to recover the premature ones. Onions also really good, as we learned from the previous two on Saturday. We got the fig idea having such a dish at the late Bistro Viola on San Pablo Ave, many, many years ago.

I thought the ricotta was delicious just spread on the baguette, but it also went well with a bit of fig jam added to it, or even a bit of the spiced tomato jam. I tried the tomato jam with the onion, but it wasn’t a great match.

We also tried the Costco (Kirkland) 2015 Carneros Pinot Noir that I bought last week. It was $9.99, so not expecting a fabulous wine, and didn’t get one. It had some good flavors there, but I didn’t like it enough to buy again.

Lunch:

We also had an Acme baguette for lunch, but this time it was two defrosted pieces of sourdough, which I made into sandwiches, using up the last of the Danke cheese, some romaine, and thin slices of that vast tomato from a previous diary. Mayo on both, seedy mustard on D’s. He bought an ear of corn when he went to the Bowl, and I suggested this would be a good time for it, about the same time he was discovering it in the fridge drawer and saying the same thing. He cut the kernels off and cooked them in butter with salt and pepper, but also he did this in the pan in which the carrots, with sweetened butter and oil, were reheated last night. It was really good, though D thinks he prefers the corn cooked just in olive oil, rather than in butter. Also a most excellent Clausen dill pickle. That was easy πŸ™‚

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Using up leftovers: chicken with rice; cooked carrots – 13 June 2017

D wants to use up all the myriad stuff in the fridge. We decided to mix the ~1/4 breast of chicken and the rice left over from the 11th, when we served the with onion/vinegar sauce and tarragon, and just to heat up the leftover carrots from the 12th, which were cooked in oil and butter forever (and I also added the leftover butter and oil from the scallion pan to the carrots before stowing them in the fridge). D did the cooking. He cooked some chopped red onion in canola oil, and added the rice, parsley, some butter, and, remarkably, a few drops of rose water, which I actually identified, and I thought which added a quite intriguing note to the dish. He just reheated the carrots. Probably turning them a bit more often would have been good, but anyway, they were delicious. He cut up one of the black mission figs he had bought at the Bowl but found they were not really good yet. So not a major flavor treat. We are going to stuff and broil the rest.

D bought an Acme sour baguette for his lunch (I was at a critical meeting at my former job) and we had bits of that for “sopping bread,” and then I froze two long bits for sandwiches. D got the Ti Point (Kirkland/Costco) Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc out of the fridge. Not an exciting wine, but pleasing and highly drinkable, and impressively cheap at I think $6.99.

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Grilled chicken with tarragon; confits of carrots and scallions -12 June 2017

This is from a recipe by Georgeanne Brennan in Potager, one of our most excellent cookbooks. This is what I actually did. Peel and cut up 4 monster carrots (there were leftovers – 3 would do for two people) into 1/3 inch slices (recipe says 1/4″). Heat 1 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil till the butter melts, and toss the carrots in it, then turn the heat to very low cover, and cook 40 minutes. Turn occasionally. Clean and trim 3 bunches scallions (7 scallions were in each bunch – we ate them all) and cut into 1/4″ (whatever) slices. Heated a separate pan with butter and oil as above. This turned out to be more fat than necessary. The carrots cooked more than 40 minutes, the onions probably 20 or so. This worked well. The recipe says to start them at the same time, but really, the carrots should cook MUCH longer than the scallions. [About 15 minutes before the veggies would be done, I turned on the small oven with dinner plates in it, to about 200 degrees.] When the veggies are cooked, stir 1/2 Tbsp sugar into each pan.

Meanwhile, make a dressing for the chicken. For one Costco “breast fillet”, cut into two slabs, I used about 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/3 of 1/4 tsp salt and the same of pepper. I mooshed the two chicken slabs in this and left at room temp for a half hour or so. D grilled these on high till done. The scallions and carrots make a bed for the grilled chicken. It’s a yummy dish!

On Thursday at Costco I bought a bottle of McIlroy Chardonnay fromΒ  new vintage (2015) to see if it lived up to the 2014 wine (of which we have a pile in the cellar). No. Perfectly good wine, but it doesn’t have the magic taste that the 2014 did, which one of the winemakers (at Costco!) pointed out was similar to that of Chalk Hill’s chardonnay. The 2014 was, the 2015 is not. Alas. Glad I stocked up!

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Chicken with tarragon/vinegar onion sauce; rice; green beans – 11 June 2017

Hello computer.

When E & I went to Costco, I bought a pack of chicken breast “fillets” – which turns out to mean no tenders included – and D and I decided to leave one of the packets in the fridge rather than freeze them all. I used one of the chicken breasts in this dinner (adapted from Recipes from a French Herb Garden by Geraldine Holt) and the other is in the fridge for our next dinner, which will also use tarragon. I sliced the breast into three slabs, and salted and peppered them, then browned on both sides in about 1 Tbsp butter, in our large cast-iron frying pan. At this point, the recipe, which does not assume you have slabbed the chicken, says to cover and cook 10-12 minutes. Because of the thinness of the slices, I cooked only 5 minutes, but that, plus the time they spent in the warm oven while the sauce was cooked, made them a bit dry and tough. Anyway, the plates, plus a lunch-plate to hold the cooked chicken, were in the oven at about 200 degrees or less, and I moved the chicken to there, and added about another Tbsp butter and half a large onion, finely chopped/diced, to the pan and cooked about 5 minutes, till the onion was soft, then added 2 Tbsp each tarragon vinegar and red raspberry vinegar and cooked down a few minutes. Finally, I added about another 1/2 Tbsp butter (leaving the other 1/2 Tbsp for D to use on the beans, and then he didn’t use it up) I cooked 1 cup Thai jasmine rice in 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt, and spooned that onto the warmed plates, cut two of the chicken pieces into bite-sized bits and arranged over the rice, then topped with the sauce. Forgot it was supposed to have tarragon over the top (1 Tbsp for two) which D remembered partway through. So I added only perhaps 1/3 of the tarragon I had cut up, and the rest remains for the next dinner. Meanwhile, D cooked the green beans (blue lake) as usual, and added butter on top at the end. I had removed an end of last week’s Acme Sweet Batard from the freezer but not early enough, so I popped that in the oven with the warming plates for several minutes – not sure how many – and it ended up nicely crispy on the outside. Very pleasant.

I had brought up a “Bourgogne Passetoutgrain” [not strictly “Burgundy” but I’m not making a new tag for this!] (2014) last night as an alternative choice, and we had that tonight instead. It’s from Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot, and with those two designations together, it probably has more letters on the label than any other wine I’ve had πŸ˜‰ It cost $19 at The Wine Mine, and we’re pretty sure we bought it ‘on spec,’ rather than having tasted it. We should have opened it earlier, to be sure (D put it, at my request, into our rolly decanter) but still, not thrilled with it, particularly, and, especially given the price, won’t buy any more of it.

Lunch:

We had this beautiful – looking tomato with only the thinnest slice having been taken off the bottom to complete the hamburger dinner, and resolved to have cheese sandwiches with it – which was D’s original intention in buying it. This is odd, b/c D is usually pretty resistant to buying tomatoes that are not at their summer peak (except for sauces). But for his recent airplane flights, he decided to add tomato slices to moisten up his sandwiches b/c unable to use mayonnaise with no refrigeration available for the long wait till his meal. So now there is Precedent, and he is buying tomatoes for sandwiches. Moistness, they do nicely.

I defrosted four slices from a loaf of Semifreddi Odessa Rye that we bought a few months ago – for ham sandwiches I think – at the bakery outlet on Claremont that has since closed. We had lunch there, too, – likely the same trip – on the way home from Tilden Park. The rye bread must be a real survivor – it was still great. I planed some English Sharp Cheddar from the Bowl and added romaine and mayonnaise, plus Bowl seedy mustard to D’s, and the sandwiches were great. Scrubbed and split two carrots from yesterday’s Grand Lake farmers’ market (Happy Bow Farm) and that was lunch. Oh also we drank up the half-bottle of Verdicchio that we left when on our way to the Zoning Adjustment Board meeting.

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Grilled flatiron steak; boiled and fried potatoes; grilled spring onions; fresh carrots – 10 June 2017

D&R were at the Grand Lake market today and so I visited, and D&I decided to buy another flatiron steak from Prather Ranch. We’ve really liked the other two, and these are so small they aren’t even intimidatingly priced (this was just over $6, or $16/lb for .37 lb). Weber’s Real Grilling says just salt and pepper the steaks and grill a couple of minutes on a side. They’re really only 1/2″ thick at most. We’ve cooked these that simply twice now, and D wanted to try adding minced garlic, so he did that. The steaks were again excellent. He also grilled two of the four spring onions we got from Happy Boy at the market. He split the onions lengthwise and just left the green parts on, which made for a chaotically beautiful sight on the grill. I earlier boiled up the Yukon Gold potatoes we had, three of which seriously wanted eating (sprouty, a bit soft) and had to be peeled with a knife b/c they wouldn’t resist well enough for me to use a peeler. The other was fine, and I just washed it. Boiled these and left in a colander for quite a long time, so they were quite dry by the time I heated olive oil in the medium cast-iron frying pan and fried them up. Started with perhaps 1/3 of a yellow onion that was left in the fridge, then added the potatoes when the onion was soft. I cleaned up two carrots that we got at Happy Boy, which were really unnecessary once I realized we should have the onions, but there they were, all prepped, and we enjoyed them, too.

So – great dinner! Everything went well together, which was especially nice. We forgot about bread, which was fine b/c it really was unnecessary. The wine – I brought up two wines, this Greek one from a tasting long ago at Vintage Berkeley (of Greek wines) was $30, it says, and being from 2009 had the better claim on being used. Which is a good thing b/c it was excellent, and went very well with the meal. It’s from Domaine Karydas, and is from a protected designation, “Naoussa.”

We bought three new peaches at the market and had two left from the Bowl that were ready to eat, so we had one of those two for dessert. I noticed D had dumped the last six of the cherries (also from the Bowl) out and he explained they were on their way out and needed eating, so we added those to dessert.

 

Lunch:

As we do most visits, I bought an Arizmendi pizza on my way into the market for D’s & R’s & my lunch. This was a very good one (they’re all good) with fresh tomatoes, goat cheese, and herbs. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I forgot to take the picture till only a small bit of my last (second) slice was left, so it turned into a closeup.

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Hamburger; Brussels sprouts – 9 June 2017

I for some reason wanted a hamburger. Just like the occasional hamburger, I guess. So I decided to leave one of the packets of hamburger from Costco on the 8th in the fridge and we cooked it up tonight. We had two of these La Brea ciabatta rolls in the freezer that want 5-7 minutes in a 385 degree (385?? WTF?) oven, so I defrosted them. D bought a new, monster tomato but we had only the slightest bit off the bottom, and instead used up the older one. these are not “tomato” tomatoes at this time of year, just red things that are moist and help out a sandwich. D added chopped leftover scallions, Worcertershire sauce, salt, and pepper to the hamburger, and I mixed it by skoodging a bunch with my fingers, and then made the mix into square-ish patties. I fried them up. We added mayonnaise and ketchup and romaine, plus tomato slices, salted and peppered, and that was that. Burgers wanted a bit more salt, but otherwise were quite yummy. Thank you cow.

 

I washed, trimmed, and quartered all but one of the Brussels sprouts and D quartered the last one. This is b/c I managed to slice my finger when almost done. #)(%*&#. So I squeezed and then antibioticked and bandaged my finger and he finished the sprouts. Steamed them and then tossed in melted butter.

D suggested one of my Equia Riojas, since we have relatively few dinners that can stand up to such a forceful wine, so I went to the cellar ant picked one up. It’s a 2007, one of the ones we got from Costco, after learning about them and buying a case at Vintage Berkeley. That afaik was all 2005, and I just drank up the last one recently. Those were so “Rioja-tasting” – and that taste is so rare – that I decided to buy a case at VB. The Costco ones were not as dramatically wonderful, unfortunately (lots cheaper, though).

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Sandwich and marinated, roasted red peppers in the concert venue’s parking lot – 6 June 2017

I always forget to photograph dinners that are significantly out of the ordinary. Well, I guess I’ve got an excuse for this one. Arrived after 2 1/2 hours driving what should have been a 70 minute trip, and didn’t really have time to take my lunch to the picnic area in this beautiful spot. Ate sitting in the driver’s seat {sigh}.

But it was a good dinner – sandwich with some “Danke” cheese form Germany that I bought at the Bowl when they had it for tasting, mayonnaise, romaine, on an Acme Rustic Sweet Baguette. A quarter bottle of some Kono Marlborough sauvignon blanc (Trader Joe’s) that we had in the fridge. (A large ice packet to keep those two cold.) and some marinated red peppers, that I really need to record here, b/c they were most excellent. This was the remaining half of the pepper I roasted for a pizza a couple days ago. I didn’t use it all, and cut this part into fat strips, about half a pepper in length. I made a dressing based on a mix of recipes online, but mainly from christinascucina.com. I was trying to get something reminiscent of the marinated peppers in Vino Volo’s “Burrata” dinner, which I take on planes when I have a chance, so to Christina’s recipe I added balsamic vinegar, which I saw in a few other recipes. It was perfect!! I had wanted to use red wine vinegar, but, astonishingly, we were out. We’d noticed being out and never managed to get it onto the shopping list. But the balsamic was super.

Here’s the recipe for half a roasted red pepper, which was an excellent size for one serving:

1 teensy clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt – OOPS! a scant “dash” is correct here: 1/12 tsp (dash = 1/8 tsp)
a couple of finger-pinches dried oregano
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

[corrected 170711]

I mixed this well, folded in the red pepper pieces and mixed well again, and placed in a glass bowl (covered) in the fridge overnight to marinate.

Lunch:

We ate up the remaining “ravs” from dinner. D heated sage leaves in butter, and added the ravioli to heat through. Grated parmaggiano over the top. Good lunch, but D still didn’t like the spinach (writing this the 9th: I ended up tossing the rest of the filling 😦 )

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Ravioli with ricotta and spinach in sage butter sauce; zucchini – 5 June 2017

We bought ricotta for an experimental ravioli recipe in May, and had a pile of it left, as well as sage leaves in the fridge (from the same dinner, I think) and ancient “cut-leaf” spinach in the freezer. I pulled out the spinach remaining in the bag and it was ice-covered, but I shaved off the outside and it didn’t smell funny, so I boiled it up. After pressing it dry and leaving it out to dry further, I tasted it and thought it was fine. Eventually, D didn’t like it, but I went ahead and mixed up 1/2 a recipe of the Pasta Bible’s recipe: 1/2 cup ricotta, spinach (there wer about 4 oz of the 6 called for), a grating of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup grated parmaggiano, some ground pepper and nutmeg, and an egg yolk. I made up a recipe of Bertolli pasta (1 cup flour, 1 large egg, as little water as you can manage) and ended up using probably less than half of the filling. Owel. D made the sage butter. I cooked up a zucchini in olive oil with some salt and pepper, and that was dinner.

D chose our new Minervois, which was terrific. Domaine d’Albas or St. Jacques d’Albas, depending on where you look on the bottle. It’s a 2014 – from Wine Mine.

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Pizza with eggplant and roasted red pepper – 4 June 2017

I planned to make this pizza using the rest of the grilled eggplant slices from the eggplant “sandwich” night on the 2nd. I also grilled up a mediumish red pepper at the same time, and left it in a closed container for [well over] fifteen minutes, then refrigerated it till today. I used probably just over half of the pepper on the pizza, cutting it into chunks, after peeling and seeding it. I have most often (though not lately) used eggplant slices that were painted not just in olive oil (as these were) but olive oil with marjoram and rosemary, salt and pepper, intended for Georgeanne Brennan’s eggplant/aioli sandwiches. So I pulled a few stems of marjoram, and put the chopped leaves on the pizza, most with the cheese, some over the top after cooking. I basically followed this old blog post. Used about 1.6 oz feta instead of 2 oz b/c that was what was left when I cut the moldy/oldish exterior off the piece in the fridge. 4 oz mozz.

Ready to bake, after one more sprinkle of mozzarella.

For some reason this was not as good as usualΒ  taste was fine, but not delicious. D said I’d have to douse it in oil it I “want it to sell,” which of course has never been an interest of mine πŸ™‚ But he meant it didn’t have the sumptuousness of a professional pizza. I could have used an underlayer of brushed-on oil, or garlic oil, and it might have been better, but I don’t think I usually do that. A mystery. Crust was really good, at least (new today, not defrosted).

D chose this wine that we got on spec from The Wine Mine (didn’t taste it). It turned out to be really good, and we enjoyed it. It’s not in the “rush right back and buy a case” category, but more a “if they still have it when we go back, we could get some more” group. It’s clearly labeled for export, as it has a pronunciation guide for the name: Carpineto Dogajolo (Dogayalo), Toscano. Coast $12.50, a reasonable price. Also had a nifty seal on it:

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Leftover polenta with sauteed greens and peppers – 3 June 2017

We kept these excellent leftovers to have tonight b/c we thought it likely we wouldn’t want a big dinner. We were right. After making this original dinner on the 31st, I spread the leftover polenta in a small, lightly oiled baking pan immediately after cooking, and after dinner I moved the cooled slabs to a refrigerator container. Had one for a lunch on the 1st with leftover marinated fresh mozarella balls, and this is the remainder. I heated a bit of olive oil in a cast iron pan (the medium one, for the record) and fried the polenta slab on both sides. I just microwaved the veggies, turning a few times with a fork, and served the veggies over the polenta. Since there’s an ample amount of parmaggiano in the polenta, this is really a complete – indeed, excellent – meal. We had only water to drink because…

The reason we didn’t expect to be hungry for a big dinner was the Pints for Paws benefit from 2-5pm for the Humane Society. Tastings of beers, ciders, wines – even though I asked for small pours… woa, lots of alcohol. And really interesting! Nice we can walk home from this πŸ™‚ Anyway, we had a snack about noon, assuming we’d get lunch from one of the food trucks at the event, and we did, indeed, get a couple of pizzas (for D & me, R & E) from “Fist of Flour,” who bring their own wood-fired oven! We got a “classico” that had pepperoni and mushrooms, and a “funghi,” which was veggie. The pizzas were excellent (though hard to hold – the crust didn’t stay stiff).

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Eggplant sandwiches where the eggplant is the “bread”; wild rice mix – 2 June 2017

We worked out a series of dinners. This one leads into a future pizza, since I grilled the veggies for the pizza (a red pepper; the rest of the eggplant) along with those for dinner (most of the eggplant). This dish, from Weber’s Real Grilling, requires 8 eggplant slices (2 per sandwich, 2 sandwiches per person for main dish), brushed with olive oil, the smaller 4 grilled on both sides, the larger grilled, initially, on one side. With ungrilled side down, the half-grilled, larger slices become the base of the sandwich; 1 Tbsp of red pepper puree is spread on each slice (note to self: even on these really large slices, 1 red pepper cube was enough for 2 sandwiches), topped with a folded slice of prosciutto (using up prosciutto was a goal here), sliced fresh mozzarella (don’t use the expensive stuff – makes no discernible difference), and a large, or many small, basil leaves. Even if using a large leaf, I have found it is preferable to have small pieces so you don’t pull the entire thing out in the first bite. Grill the composed sandwich 2-3 minutes on medium (covered) and they’re done.

I seem consistently to choose wild or mixed rices for an accompaniment to these, and it works well. This particular rice is Great Valley Long Grain & Wild Rice from Woodland, CA (hm… rice doesn’t really belong in California…) Boil 2 cups water with 1/2 tsp salt (my addition – I tried 1/4 tsp this time but not enough) add 1 cup rice, return to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes, covered (I used med-low or low for this… moved back and forth), turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes. I shaved off thin slices of butter and put on top of the rice for a luxury flavor.

D brought up an Acorn Sangiovese (2011, Alegria Vineyards Russian River Valley), which was an excellent choice. He was late getting it and it wanted airing, so he put it into the rolly decanter, which aired it out well.

 

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Broccoli rabe pizza at Pizza Moda – 1 June 2017

But it sure doesn’t feel like June… that’s ok – we had pizza so all is well.

So, D said let’s go to Pizza Moda for No Corkage Night and have the last of the Pinots in our series. When he brought it up to open it, it was seriously corked 😦 So he went back and got a different wine, and we went to Moda anyway. He was sweet about acquiescing to my desire to try the broccoli rabe pizza. I really liked it a lot, but D merely liked it – thought the tastes didn’t hang together as well as they ought to.

Here’s how they describe this pizza on the menu:

D suggested we get a small version and also an arugula and strawberry salad, and then we discussed a bit and he said let’s get a big pizza and we’ll have leftovers for lunch. So we did.

The salad was, as usual, very carefully dressed, and quite intriguing: the strawberries, rather few of them, added an unexpected burst of complexity to the flavor.

The (second) wine D brought up was this Brouilly, 2013 Chateau Thivin ($23, D thinks from the Bowl). It wanted to have been opened earlier, but we swirled it a bit, and D even shook the bottle some (thumb over top) and it was fine. The owner came by and took a small taste, too πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

I really like the feel of this place. They took what probably used to be a cheap diner and gave it a nice ambience. There were quite a few tables empty, probably due to its being the first Warriors game, which I found out about in a long line at the Bowl this noon.

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Ricotta and prosciutto ravioli with sage-butter sauce; English peas – 26 May 2017

I used Paul Bertolli’s pasta recipe: 1 cup flour (I scant this) and 1 large egg. “Large” being a variable quantity, I usually add a bit of water to gather up the unwetted bits of flour. Knead, form into a ball, and let sit at least an hour, wrapped in waxed paper (which can be reused many times and then composted).

For the filling: D toasted 2 Tbsp pine nuts and chopped them; he cooked about 1 Tbsp shallots in butter (“could be more of that, for sure”). I put 1/2 cup Bel Gioioso whole milk ricotta into a bowl, and added 2 very thin slices of prosciutto from Trader Joe’s (the kind that are tamed into uniform shape and packed in plastic) cut into smallish pieces, and 1/8 tsp salt.Β  D ground a pile of pepper into the mix. These quantities made 26 small ravioli, using 5/6 of the dough. We had 8 of them each for dinner, and there are 5 each left for a future lunch (smooshed in a bit of oil and packed into a refrigerator container). I divided the ball of dough into 6 pieces for rolling, and used 5 of them. I cut the last 1/6 into fettucine and let it dry a bit, then refrigerated. Consider using [up to] 3/4 cup rather than 1/2 cup ricotta, and at least one more piece of prosciutto in order to use all the pasta dough as ravioli.

D cooked up the last half of the English peas from Trader Joe’s, this time counting the 90-seconds boiling from the time the water returned to a boil, rather than from when the peas went in. We both thought they were still undercooked. He put the cooked peas into the pan with cooked, chopped red onion and olive oil, and he had added some shallots to that. They needed a bit of salt (as well as more cooking to remove crunch) but were very tasty.

We had almost the last of the Trader Joe’s “Filone” bread – just a bit to wipe up good sauces from the plates and bowls.

D suggested, and I heartily concurred, that we should have our new favorite Minervois from the Wine Mine with this: Chateau St. Jacques d’Albas 2-14. Which also says “Domaine d’Albas Minervois”. says it’s by Andrew and Graham Nutter, and is 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre. It leans just enough to earthiness to interest us – not nearly like our fabulous Vaucluse, but it’s the best we’ve got right now.

 

 

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Ravioli at Pizza Moda – 24 May 2017

D wanted to go out to Pizza Moda, and who am I to argue with that?? We decided on our last visit to come back the following week and get some of the stuff on the (mostly seasonal) menu that we had never had before. Well, sure, yeah. So, several weeks and a couple of airplane trips later, and finally we’re back. We decided to park just short of a half mile away, and walk along a lovely little street to get there, which was very nice.

So there were two ravioli on the menu, and we decided just to get the two of them and share half and half. Here they are:

The main photo is of the potato ravioli, which D started with. That was a good thing b/c I strongly preferred the potato ravioli, and so it was my dessert. D liked both of them. I can’t say I could taste the asparagus in the first one (pictured at left), but it was interesting. A bit tangy, obviously due to the lemon and chilis.

 

It was $15 wine night – every wine on the menu is $15Β  on Wednesdays – which is a good incentive to choose an off day to go there. D chose this Negroamaro (we disagreed about the accented syllable, but I think I have won – Neh gro ah MAR oh), which we enjoyed just fine with the meal. It’s a Salento Rosso, by “Masseri Pizzari.” It opened up while we were eating, and I fantasized about calling them next time and ordering the wine two hours before we arrive, and having them open it for us.

We were too full for dessert.

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Cheese Board pizza – 20 May 2017

Oh, the trials of living in Food Heaven!

I really wanted to go get some Cheese Board pizza for lunch, since I was running around town anyway, but I had stuff I needed to use up that would be lunchy. Solution! Get the pizza and have it for dinner. I bought a half-pizza, light-baked, and reheated in the small oven till it looked good (400 degrees, perhaps 5 minutes this time). Unfortunately, I seem not to have photographed the sign saying what the pizza was. I know it had “crushed tomatoes,” looks like lemon or orange zest (but when have they ever used orange?). Maybe has asiago? Rats. I wonder if there is an archive. As you can see, this is not half the pizza. I bravely saved some for tomorrow.

I picked a bottle of our new Minervois from The Wine Mine, Domaine d’Albas (2014), since we have a lot (I bought 3 cases, 2 + 1 as an afterthought) and they won’t keep forever. Wonderful wine!

Lunch:

I cooked up some of the leftover aspargaus I didn’t use for the pizza, and decided to serve it on my new blue plate – only the second time I’ve used it. It was pretty cool πŸ™‚ The thing in line for lunch was an attempted roll, using a bit of the pizza dough that I had divided, from a 2-people-dinner pizza, into 2 personals and… this. I miscalculated, b/c the personals should have been 1/5 of a large recipe, and even halving this ball they would have been only 1/6. And they were less than that. They worked fine, but this roll was not happy. I baked it at I think 350 till it looked too brown, but it never really expanded. Tasty enough, though. I had Cheese Board cilantro sauce waiting for dinner but decided to see if it worked on asparagus. Well, not really. the leftover aioli from the fridge was the right thing (as usual). Had more of the Gascogne, I think. Probably the last bit. A bit of cheese.

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Ungreat personal asparagus pizza – 19 May 2017

Darn. I was really looking forward to this pizza, but it wasn’t really much good. Not sure why. Too much asparagus and/or cheese shrouding the scallion taste, perhaps? Asparagus not tasty enough? Really don’t know, since my previous renditions of this pizza (for two, not this personal-sized one) worked really well.

I boiled and thin-sliced the asparagus as before, grated the mozz, cooked scallions in butter (lots of them)… really dk what was wrong with it. Very disappointing. The only thing I could sort out was perhaps it was just overloaded, but it was more just… low in flavor.

I decided to use a chardonnay, so I pulled up the outstanding McIlroy Chard (2014) that we got at Costco for a very reasonable price – I think $13 or so. We have a ton of them b/c I bought a lot, so there is an excuse to use them up πŸ™‚ Wine was great, just sorry I didn’t have a good pizza to set it off 😦

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Lamb kebabs rubbed with spices; broccolini; reheated coconut rice – 18 May 2017

Well, this was pretty cool. Not perfect, but good. We had this coconut rice left over, and I decided it might go well with some middle-eastern-spiced lamb. So I looked up recipes for lamb with cinnamon in them, which led me to cardamon and coriander. I ended up using a mixture of these, which I wrote down but don’t have with me at the moment (30 May)… might be able to find, though. It wasn’t one of those “this is perfection” moments, anyway… just google it next time and try out some combination. What I should have done and didn’t was add a bit of olive oil to the spices. Just rubbed them on. I had pulled a packet of 6 lamb cubes out of the freezer and into the fridge on the 16th, assuming I’d have this meal the next evening, but City Arts intervened, so here they are tonight. I salted the lamb just before grilling. I just reheated the rice with a tiny bit of water in the bottom of the covered saucepan, and that worked fine, except that it really didn’t taste all the coconutty any more. Steamed, then buttered and salted the last of the broccolini (which I see I thought it was when I wrote up yesterday, a few minutes ago…)

Had the other half of the Equia Rioja bottle from the 16th, and it had survived pretty well in the fridge (brought out early enough to be at good temperature).

Oh! New plate! My former student H brought me this neat new plate when I visited graduation and this is the first time I’ve used it. I really thought this looked great! Normally I guess I will use it for serving, but this was fun.

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Random punted dinner after City Arts & Lectures – 17 May 2017

My friend and former student E invited me this morning to attend a City Arts & Lectures presentation this evening. My first reaction, having my mind all made up about dinner & such, was “no, can’t” but really – what an opportunity! With D away, I had no commitments at all for the evening, so I said Yes, and had a great time. But. The program started at 7pm, so too early to eat beforehand and too late after. I grabbed a Larabar to eat while walking to or from the BART station and that kept me going nicely. When I got home, I cut some cheese slices, fried up a Paratha bread from the freezer, and steamed up what was probably the last of the broccolini (writing this the 30th). It was a fine dinner, but eating at 9 is not a great idea.

I had a bit of St. Andres Cotes de Gascogne for lunch, and had some more with dinner. It’s a really nice, fresh, inexpensive wine that goes with lots of things.

Lunch:

I defrosted the second half of a roll D bought for me yesterday morning, and I had half of for lunch then. I think both days I opened the roll and put very-thin-sliced onion on one side and some cheese on the other – probably raclette – and also some mayonnaise and seedy mustard from the Bowl, and broiled the surfaces. D’s invention. It’s a delicious sandwich!

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Scotch Broth; semonlina-with-bay patties; chard stems – 16 May 2017

I used my lamb broth from last week’s leftover bits to make Scotch Broth. I defrosted some bits of lamb from 2012(!!) that were marked as being small chunks – they were too small for a good kebab, indeed, but just fine smelling (and tasting – later). I cut them into pieces larger than I usually use in this soup, and sauteed, also cutting up a bit of onion to precook, and some carrots that were from the farmers’ market (Berkeley) but did not meet D’s sweetness criterion, so were deemed cooking carrots. Had all the stems – already washed and cut into bite-sized pieces – from the chard from… last week? … and just cooked them up in olive oil (salting, peppering) Also fried up (in butter) the last of the semolina-with-bay that needed using – exceptionally good this way. Had the end of what looks like (writing this the 30th) the end of a Morell’s loaf, likely Country Batard.

D pointed out that “my” Equia Riojas were among the wines most in need of drinking, so I pulled the oldest one out and opened it at 2pm. This was a 2005, undoubtedly from our first purchase of this wine at a Vintage Berkeley tasting. It was the first wine since forever that tasted like my image of a Rioja, so I decided we should buy a case, and this is the last one. So, finally I let one breathe at least the 4 hours we decided it needed. It was really good. More for tomorrow in a half-bottle in the fridge.

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Pizza with Wells sauce, mushrooms, and hard sausage – 15 May 2017

I used up the remaining mushrooms on this pizza, just sauteeing in oil or butter or both (probably just oil… writing this on the 30th…) and the last chunk of the Columbus hot soppressata I got at Costco ages ago, which was quite dried, but still worked fine. It was perhaps a 1″ length or less. I defrosted 5 cubes (I think) of Wells sauce and cooked down a bit (or drained but I think cooked down is right for this meal). I see I also cooked up some nice green beans (no doubt: steam, reheat with a bit of butter and salt). I thought the pizza was ok but not great, however, D claimed really to enjoy it, which was nice.

D chose a bottle of our Chateau de Manissy Cotes du Rhone, which is a wonderful wine we recently tried – then bought a case of – from The Wine Mine,

At lunch, I divided our remaining quarter of a Mothers’ Day cake (the four of us ate half of it yesterday, and split the rest) in half, and then split one half to make two servings. And then split the rest after dinner. Here’s the dinner dessert.

Here’s the lunch dessert πŸ™‚

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Omelette with mushrooms; broccolini; tarragon potato salad – 14 May 2017

Don’t remember this well (writing the 29th) but I think there was something important D wanted to use up in the omelette. Maybe just the mushrooms. We had more of the broccolini that D had bought from the Grand Lake farmers’ market on the 13th, and more of the leftover tarragon potato salad I had made earlier. Good, quick dinner πŸ™‚

Wine was a great Groceryr Outlet find from a year or more ago: a still-great 2008 Brutocao zinfandel.

…. However, there are no fewer than seven photos for this day, and they remind me it was Mothers’ Day. Aha. Let’s go first to

Lunch:

…which was a grilled cheese sandwich, clearly on Acme Italian Batard.

We also ate up the rest of the fava beans that I boiled up yesterday. Probably the cheese in the sandwich was raclette, from the Cheese Board.

But then, R&E showed up with Mother’s Day cake, a lovely concoction that I believe I recall was a pistachio pound cake with creamy icing and (obviously) raspberries on the top. Beautiful and yummy!

My piece:

And let’s see the cut cake:

OK, simplest dinner, but somehow we have seven photos – helps that we started with breakfast. D bought a batch of the cutest little bananas, and I just got a kick out of them, so I photographed on in my cereal bones for scale. Isn’t it cute??

 

 

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Calabrian sausage; broccolini; tarragon potato salad – 13 May 2017

Writing this the 29th, based on memory and photos. We had potato salad to use up, and D suggested we defrost one of Christopher Lee’s Calabrian sausages to have with it. He had bought some broccolini at the Grand Lake farmers’ market I think (right day) and boiled that up and served with butter and salt. The sausage he cooked in a bit of oil for many minutes, then split lengthwise to be sure it was cooked internally, and laid it cut-side-down on the frying pan to finish it.

We had what is sort of our new house wine with this, Domain d’Albas Minervois (2014) from The Wine Mine.

Here are a couple of lagniappes from the Farmers’ Market bouquets:

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch:

Had a nice small lunch, after the students graduated, at the President’s reception, where there were a selection of small sandwiches and salads. The chicken salad was the winner. The other one here is cucumber, with I think cream cheese or chevre (sorry don’t remember). There was a salmon one (not pictured) and another. The salad is quinoa ‘n’ stuff.

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Tarragon potato salad; favas; cheese – 12 May 2017

D & R were out till 6 getting ready for the market in the (early!) morning, then busy till almost 8 worrying the catch on one of the truck doors, which declined to open when asked. Not a good thing. After my seniors’ “breakfast” (brunch – who eats breakfast at 9:30?) and interview with a student for a letter,

Oops…

I came home and offered to cook up a potato salad, using some of the enthusiastic tarragon from the garden, and the 2 lb of fingerlings in the cabinet, which were already looking sprouty a few days ago. And OMG, sprouts! LOL! Zillions of teeny sprouts!

Took off about 10 oz total mass of potatoes and sprouts – admittedly cutting rather deep at times, but I ended up with a good batch of fingerlings. Scrubbed them and cut into rather small pieces – something like quarters of a normal-sized fingerling – and boiled about 15 minutes (could have stopped a bit earlier but being cautious – I hate undercooked potatoes). But I actually had about 2lb potatoes remaining, which is what the recipe calls for. You immediately toss the hot, drained potatoes with 3 Tbsp vinegar (used apple cider this time – usually use white), 3 Tbsp chopped tarragon, a finely chopped shallot, and a generously considered 1/4 tsp salt (from my notes – recipe says “to taste” and notes say 1/4 tsp is “not too much.” But I think more would be preferable, at least 1/3 tsp, possibly 1/2 tsp). After cooling in the fridge, add 3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise. Have faith, this really is plenty, even though it doesn’t look it at first.

Also boiled up the fava beans that D had shelled, cooking 4 1/2, 3 1/2, 2 1/2 and 1 minute, depending on size, then popped half of them out of their skins and left the other half in the fridge for a future dinner. Heated the beans in olive oil with salt and pepper. Also added a couple strips of Cowgirl Creamery’s Wagon Wheel cheese; it had gotten too thin to plane for sandwiches, so having chunks was a good use for this remainder.

Our friend R was here yesterday (delivering some wine we bought) and left us a bottle of unreleased Russian River Vallen 2014 Pinot Noir that he had opened but barely used for a tasting. I put it in the fridge, since we were going out last night, and took it out in time to warm to red-wine-temperature before dinner. CalStar wines are most excellent.

After the brunch/letter interview, I went to the Post Office for mail, and then to return some shoes I decided I didn’t love, which put me in a free parking space only a few blocks from The Cheese Board (and right across the street, after dropping off the shoes. One must use such advantages! So I called D and we convinced oursevles that a Cheeseboard Suburban Bread would be great for dinner (City=white, Country, now I believe extinct, was whole wheat, and the mixed flours ended up as Suburban). Beautiful loaf!

So pretty I couldn’t decide how to photograph it, so here are three pictures. Oh, I also bought some of their own sweet butter and had a bread and butter snack in the afternoon when I got home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dinner at Riva Cucina – 11 May 2017

D and I decided finally to get to Riva Cucina, which we had tried to do on 17 December (but they apologetically said they had only one table, by the door, and someone else was asking for it so if we’re not coming please let us know – so we gave it to the other people… anyway…) Decided to go in January instead. It’s May now, isn’t it. So this is the December visit and sometime we’ll get around to having our anniversary (May, past already) dinner here, too. There’s certainly plenty to love on multiple visits πŸ™‚

The Acme bread, served with their rosemary olive oil, is always a treat.

So, this time I decided to try a whole fish, but I was not excited about it in the end. It was called Branzino alla griglia (“Grilled herb and breadcrumb-crusted whole Mediterranean seabass, roasted potatoes, arugula, fennel, lemon, $27). The taste was terrific, but even after the fish was boned (“filleted”) by the server, I ended up contending with quite a few bones large enough to be dangerous (I think). Salad fine, fresh, interesting, but not to-die-for. The potatoes were scrumptious, and really, my only problem with the fish was that I don’t like having to fight with bones.

D had the Ravioli ai Carciofi (Artichoke, mascarpone and Parmigiano ravioli sauteed with brown butter, sage, Parmigiano, $17″), but apparently I didn’t get a picture of it. It’s ravioli.

I asked Massi which wine he would choose to have with the fish, and he wasn’t assertive about it – asked whether I liked red or white wine. He and D settled on the 2012 Ricci Timorasso (“Rare varietal, rich & complex. Ripe apricot & honey, amazing structure, long finish. [Piemonte] $44”). It was fine, but I didn’t get any synergy between wine and food this time. We really should come on no-corkage night (Wed) and bring a $40 wine instead of buying a $20 wine for $40 πŸ™‚ But still tip for the wine price!

We decided to go for a panna cotta (mint!) for dessert, splitting it between the two of us. It was completely delicious, and we both got a kick out of the mint taste, and the green pudding. I also indulged in a pot of Earl Grey tea, which hit the spot.

 

 

 

 

 

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