Sandwiches with leftover grilled pork tenderloin; Brussels sprouts – 5 February 2018

My old notes on the grilled pork tenderloin recipe that we made the 3rd say that it’s worth making just for the leftovers, to use in sandwiches. These were really fine sandwiches, but not as obviously fabulous as the notes suggest. Maybe I wiped off too much of the marinade before grilling (but I did drip some back on when D objected). Anyway – good sandwiches, on defrosted Acme Italian bread with just a bit of romaine and mayonnaise – and later we decided I should have salted and peppered the pork (duh), so we did that at the table.

 

D brought an appetizer: a piece of cauliflower – and then later the small bowl of leftover dressing from lunch, that had not fit into the storage jar. Delicious!

 

I cooked up a pile of Brussels sprouts – trim and clean, split to 4ths or 6ths depending on size, boil in salted water 3 minutes, drain. I decided to cook them a bit early so they had more time to drain, and I tossed them a bit in the colander beforeΒ  returning them to the heated (ergo dried) pan with melted butter, salt and pepper.

At Costco during the superbowl (hey, I thought nobody would be there – oops!) I talked with the wine assistant and he showed me some wines, one of which, bc of its somewhat tacky purple label, I wouldn’t have looked twice at. It was a cheap grenache/syrah (85:15) blend called Mas Donis, and he said it was good for a cheap wine. And it was, but D thought it still had harsh edges. Or that it had a bitterness. I thought it was fine. We had it with this meal b/c the pork recipe actually suggests a grenache/syrah blend, and it was sandwiches, so somehow it seems ok to have a cheap wine with those. Not that we wouldn’t have a pricey one sometimes πŸ™‚

 

Lunch:

Oooo, special lunch! I made up the family-friend recipe from D’s parents’ friend V, for “French dressing,” which includes ketchup or Chile sauce (ketchup in this case – Bowl may still not have Chili sauce, but forgot to check) sugar, vegetable oil, vinegar, and bits of Tobasco and Worcestershire sauces, and salt. D brought this idea from his childhood – having an avocado half (but they were monster FL avos, so one half was a lot) topped with cottage cheese and this dressing. It’s delicious! D defrosted two sticks of Acme sourdough baguette, but we used only one and I refroze the other.

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Spaghetti with two kinds of mushrooms; tall choi sum – 4 February 2018

We planned this dinner – by going to the Bowl and looking at mushrooms and choosing two – to go with a wine we were tasting from The Wine Mine. It was pricey, but we bought a bottle from the description, a Ventoux that the distributor had three languishing cases of, earthy, highly recommended. We opened the wine – Clos de Trias 2007 – a couple hours in advance. Thought it had minimal bouquet at that point, and that didn’t change a lot. At 6:30, when we had decided the wine needed to be in the fridge to get to “cellar temperature,” I moved stuff around and miraculously managed to get the rolly decanter into the fridge, so I poured the wine into that to give it additional air…

Meanwhile… actually starting quite a bit earlier, b/c it took a long time, I cleaned the “hedgehog” mushrooms, which look like chanterelles in color (and are not unlike in taste) but instead of gills or pores have thousands of “quills” that are soft and delicate – and which capture and hide, unless you look closely, tiny bits of grit. So, I cleaned out the bits with the point of a very pointy paring knife, after brushing off, or attempting to brush off, any bits lying on the surface. The hen-of-the-woods were easy to clean (or to check for already-cleanness) and I pulled off all the smooth “feathers” but left the smallest of the “leaves” with the core of the mushroom unseparated. D decided not to use those but we will use them later. D cooked the two kinds of mushrooms separately in butter with salt and pepper, and laid them alongside cooked spaghetti. Back in cleaning time, I also washed the several plants of Choi sum [there was another word here… tall?], rerinsed them, spun them, and left on a towel to dry. When the spaghetti went in, I started cooking the chopped choi stems in butter and olive oil (with S&P), and maybe 6 minutes later I added the cut leaves (with more S&P). Almost at the end, I decided they needed to steam, and poured in some water, and stirred while some evaporated, then covered the pan and let the choi steam, and finally uncovered the pan so the last of the liquid could evaporate. It turned out quite well. I heated the pasta bowls and the veggie bowls with pasta water a couple of minutes before the spaghetti was done, and the choi was still hot in my little bowl after I’d finished eating the pasta. Amazing!

D sliced up an orange (the one I zested for the marinade yesterday, which has been in the fridge) suggesting it would be good on the hedgehog mushrooms. He was right, but I didn’t think that would go so great with the wine, so I oranged only a small part of the pasta, to get a taste of it. We had the rest of the orange for our first dessert. For the second, see below. I bought an Acme sweet baguette to go with dinner, and it was a good choice.

So, all this was b/c E at The Wine Mine said “mushrooms” as one great dish to have with the Clos de Trias 2007 Ventoux. It was a good idea, and we loved the pasta, but we are not convinced that the wine is worth the price, or that we are happy enough with it for it to outrank other wines of our acquaintance that are a lot less $$. So, no more of this one, alas. I was hoping it would be a big winner, but of course, this saves us a pile of money πŸ™‚

OMG it’s Girl Scout Cookie time! There was a Scout outside the Bowl when we left, and of course I had to buy at least one box of cookies – so I chose my (and everyone’s I think) favorite, the thin mints. So, the box says 8 servings per container, and we ate one of the sleeves of cookies (slowly, only 2 at a time – really!) which means we had two servings each. Which is better than I’d feared, but really, we can’t go on like this… But wow, yummy cookies! (hardly a surprise) So yummy I forgot to take a picture…

Lunch:

We ate up the last of the black bean soup [this is not the veggie part of the program: soup has ham and bacon in it) as a sort of chili on top of nachos. I opened another avocado. We broiled the Monterey Jack to melt it, topped with La Cascada Salsa Fresca (I heated this briefly in the broiler too, so it would not chill my nachos out) and avocado chunks. We split one of R&E’s small “Blind Pig” IPAs, which was a great choice with the nachos.

 

 

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Grilled pork tenderloin with citrus glaze; choi sum; Thai jasmine rice – 3 February 2018

I was thinking of having the Claiborne & Churchill Dry Gewurtztraminer from the cellar with the meal for which it was bought a few years ago (R’s b/day choice) – a pork tenderloin confit from Gerald Hirigoyen’s Pintxos. Somehow, I just wasn’t up to the long-cooking-in-duck-fat required of that recipe, and decided to try the wine with another favorite pork tenderloin recipe, this from Weber’s Art of the Grill. My old notes say this recipe’s worth making just for the sandwiches you make with the leftovers. I made the marinade and put the tenderloin (from Costco – kept half the package [with two tenderloins] and gave the other half to R&E, who said “want more of this!”) into our largest oblong glass refrigerator container after lunch. Wiped off too much (per D, and he was right) of the marinade before cooking, and dripped a bunch of it back on. D did the cooking, giving it I think 15 minutes on the first side and 10 on the second, on medium on our gas range grillΒ  (covered), per my written previous observation.

I got little, white-stemmed, dark-leaved choi that said “choi sum” from the Bowl, and treated it as usual: cleaned well, separated stems from leaves and chopped each, rinsed again and spun dry the parts separately and let dry on a towel, cooked in (this time) butter and olive oil, and S&P. Thai jasmine rice as usual.

The wine was excellent, but did not really have a synergy with this meal, unfortunately. The Weber’s suggestion with the recipe is for a garnacha/syrah, which a dry gerwurtz definitely is not. It was ok, just not great, with the pork. Claiborne & Churchill 2011 Central Coast – cost $16.99.

 

We had what I think (writing this the 7th) was the last third of the cream cheese/Nutella pie/cake/tart that R made to use up the cream cheese unused for Christmas cookies. Loved it πŸ™‚ It had toasted hazelnuts over the top and some sort of pressed-crumb crust, in the fashion of graham cracker crust but not, I think, graham crackers.

 

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Reheated Common Grill black bean soup with salsa, avocados, and sour cream; Brussels sprouts – 2 February 2018

Well, if the groundhog had been out here, he sure would have seen his shadow. Taken off his fur coat to boot. A lovely spring day, sunny and warm. Probably in the low 70s (though the interior of the house has not warmed up yet… probably b/c the walls haven’t, not b/c the downstairs furnace has not been on on most days).

But we have a major winter soup! Pretty cool by dinnertime anyway πŸ™‚ We have avocados from Costco on the 28th coming ripe – of course, all of them more or less at once – so are finding ways to enjoy them, in lunches and dinners. We used half an avocado for lunch (below) and the other half in small chunks over the reheated soup, which I made for dinner on the 30th, and we have eaten since as a nachos-topping. I went to the Bowl and bought more La Cascada Salsa Fresca and a small Clover sour cream, as well as cottage cheese for another, (immediate) future avocado idea. Also bought an Acme Sweet Rustic Baguette for lunch and dinner.

I added some water to reheat the soup, but it was still rather more like a pile of beans than like a soup this time! Also cooked up the last of the Brussels sprouts from a large bag I got probably about 22 Jan (trim, wash, quarter or “sixth,” boil 3 mins in salted water, drain, return to pan to toss in melted butter with S&P).

My notes for the soup say that the Belgian-style “abbey ale” called Brother Thelonious is a perfect match for this soup, so we had that instead of wine with dinner, and it does, indeed, go well.

Lunch:

I bought the baguette with sandwiches in mind. Also bought Monterey Jack with nachos/avocados/salsa/etc. in mind, and I also know it is my favorite cheese to have with avos on a sandwich. I used up the last little bit of the [not very] old Jack and started the new one on our two sandwiches, topped with sliced avocado and spread mayonnaise on, and that was it. Tasty sandwiches – but hard to eat b/c when you bite into a baguette crust, slippery things slide out of the sandwich. Alongside, we ate up the last of the piperade, just having it cold. A pretty, as well as tasty, lunch.

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Crackers with sardines, Cambozola; piperade – 1 February 2018

Symphony night again, and D suggested we have more of the Cabozola we got at the Bowl, and add in a can of the sardines I got when they were tasting them at Costco last summer. We didn’t have bread, and could usefully have gone shopping, but D pointed out we could use crackers for the cheese and for the sardines, and I decided I could live without a banana for breakfast by having an egg instead of Grape Nuts. So that’s what we did. The sardines are Wild Planet, Wild Pacific Sardines, and are three to the can. They are gutted and cleaned, but they have little spines, which I took out. I used 3/4 of half of what was left of the Cambozola – lol, that was 2/3 of the original… so…3x1x2/4x2x3 = oh hey, interesting. 1/4 of the original amount. And that was .78 lb, which is…Β  12.5oz. So we had 3.1 oz of Cambozola for dinner. (Whew!) The crackers are Mozart, two varieties: pepper and poppy seed, and toasted sesame seed. Worked fine. I wonder if we should try both of these again with Sesmark rice crackers – which may be what we originally used for the sardines?

We had half the remaining piperade as something between a vegetable and a condiment. It went really well with the sardines!

D brought up a Kono (Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc). He also put the other Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio in the fridge, but decided on the Kono when it came to dinnertime. Good wine, nothing terribly special. We saved a couple glasses for after the symphony as usual, b/c D has to drive there.

Lunch:

One of the avocados from Costco ripened up yesterday and I put it in the fridge. We had nachos with Monterey Jack melted (broiled) over Costco chips, then La Cascada Salsa Fresca (finished it) and the avocado. Good lunch.

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Omelette with mushrooms; piperade – 31 January 2018

Using Up Stuff dinner, and quite a tasty one. We had the last too-thin-to-plane 6 square inches of the Danke cheese, a red and a yellow pepper originally intended for polenta with greens and peppers (soon, soon) and two large, beautiful crimini mushrooms. D suggested we have eggs with piperade alongside, and I said maybe omelette instead of plain eggs (though I love a fried egg), or maybe a piperade omelette? Or maybe use up the crimnis in the omelette with piperade alongside as originally considered – and that is what we finally went for – or D did, since he’s the official omelette cook. He did some excellent omelette-flips this time, too! LOL πŸ™‚ Cooked the sliced crimni separately, in butter with S&P. Mixed one minced clove of garlic into the melted butter for the omelette and let it cook for a few seconds before adding the eggs; let the eggs start to set before adding the mini-diced cheese. Flipflipflip. It was a very good omelette.

I made the piperade (per Gerald Hirigoyen, in Pintxos) – cleaned and seeded the red and yellow peppers, peeled 6 garlic cloves, and cut off a cord of one of our sweet Spanish onions (to make “one small onion”) before taking (with D, my suggestion) a several-block quick warmup walk and doing our weights. Note that so far this leaves out the 4 tomatoes from the original recipe. Shower, then final prep: peppers into lengthwise thin strips, onion likewise, garlics sliced. Heat the 12″ Revere frying pan on medium-high, add 1/3 cup olive oil; when it ripples, add the veggies and cook, stirring often, 10 minutes or till they start to color. Once I started cooking the veggies, I did the winter-tomato thing of opening a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes and draining them in a strainer, then adding these instead of real ones (“real” being a matter of degree in the winter). So, I decided that it would be preferable to use the rather tasteless winter tomatoes from Mexico than to use canned ones, though my original notes say canned were ok. Perhaps this was before I tried real ones, since I got the book for Christmas and obviously, that’s winter. So last time I did this, I have only 1 1/2 tomatoes, and I liked it that way a lot. Obviously a lot of flexibility in this recipe.

I defrosted and toasted up and buttered four slices of Acme Italian, and put them on the plates in the warm oven till the rest was done. D (I think) suggested that we just have the Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio (2016) that I re-bought (based on blog) at Costco. We got a tester bottle and liked it pretty well back on 4 December, and we enjoyed it again tonight, so may well get a couple more when we go back shortly.

Appetizer:

D stuck this lovely little piece of fresh cauliflower down on the front part of the stove, which I was glad I had washed earlier…

Dessert was another third (divided by 2) of the Nutella/cream cheese cake R made to use up the cream cheese they had bought, but not used, bot Christmas cookies. They brought us 1/3 of it last night. Good!

Lunch:

I suggested we have some of the black bean soup as a sort of bean chili on nachos, so we did that. Monterey Jack melted (broiled) over the chips, then La Cascada Salsa Fresca, and microwaved beans. I think the combination lacked “coolness,” which would be provided by an avocado or sour cream. Later noticed we actually did have a ripe avocado (among the six from Coscto).

 

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Common Grill Black Bean Soup; Brussels sprouts – 30 January 2018

To use up what was about 6.4 oz but should (per the recipe) have been 8 oz of remaining Niman Ranch ham – from a 3/4″ or so thick round slice that was a pound – well, I said I’ll just freeze it, but D said no let’s go ahead and make the Common Grill soup, which had been the plan before he left on the 23rd. So I made the soup, but first, he had to buy more black beans, b/c the soup required 1 lb, not 1 cup like some others. After sorting the beans and rinsing really well, I did the “quick soak” technique, then drained and rinsed again, covered in 6 cups water and started to cook. I had 7 half-strips of bacon from a frozen cut-in-half-package of Niman Ranch apple-smoked, and the recipe called for 3 strips, so rather than refreeze the extra half-strip, I just included it – cut the strips crosswise and then in half, but it would have been more sensible to start by halving the bacon lengthwise (but I wasn’t intending to at that point). Cut the hard outer “shell” off the ham and split the slice into two maybe 3/8″ slices, then diced perhaps 1/4″ or so. Cut up two celery ribs, “one small onion” which was actually the last of a yellow and a white onion, and likely a bit on the short side, and some garlic*. The veggies are cooked briefly in the bacon fat (I poured off a bit of this) and then 1 1/2 tsp cayenne and 1 Tbsp salt are added and cooked for a minute (pic is at this point), and finally 1 Tbsp of cornstarch and the diced ham are added and cooked another minute. All this is added to the beans and they cook together until the beans are done, which took more than the prescribed hour.

Meanwhile, I trimmed and split into 4ths or 6ths or whatever, several Brussels sprouts, which I eventually boiled 3 minutes, drained, and reheated in butter with S&P.

D bought us an Acme sourdough baguette for both lunch, with cheese, and dinner, and we ate most of it. The rest D suggested cutting into croutons (lots of sourdough baguette pieces already in the freezer) and letting them dry, so I did that.

Tried out the Bocelli Sangiovese that I re-bought at Costco, based on the “well, not bad” sort of review on this blog back in December. Decided it is fine, but not delicious – no real need to re-buy, though we have one more bottle.

R&E’s anniversary, and they brought over 1/3 of a cream cheese/Nutella cake, with toasted hazelnuts on top and some sort of crumbly crust that was delicious. This was when they cane to see the 90-year-old quilt that L sent to R, as a direct descendant of the quilter. Wow. Anyway, the cake was quite yummy – not spectacular, but a good dessert. We had 1/3 of this piece, split between us, for dessert.

Lunch:

I cut 1/3 off the Costco Cambozola chunk and set it in the oblique, winter sunlight on the kitchen counter by the sink to warm for less than an hour. D bought an Acme sourdough baguette and we had that, along with three skinny ribs of celery, sliced and cooked in butter (and oversalted), and the rest of D’s radicchio and endive fettucine from the 28th, when he arrived home not terribly hungry. Microwaved that. It was fine, but pasta always loses something in the reheating. Reheating in oil would have been preferable b/c of the walnuts. Amazing to think of the canned spaghetti dinners we used to have sometimes as kids…

I thought the cheese looked rather elegant as it warmed up:

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Dinner at Juan’s for the heck of it – 29 January 2018

We couldn’t decide on dinner and nothing obvious was lying around. So we did a workout walk/weights in the early dark, then shower, then walked over to Juan’s. I ordered a half serving of chile rellenos (chile relleno, I guess) with refried beans* and rice. It was fine, but nothing special, and far from the best I’ve had. Filled me up completely, too, all that food!

About the photos: I shot the one at left, held the shutter down too long or something, and the camera shot again while I was moving it (above). So, I would have erased that shot, but the colors in it are actually right, while for the life of me I can’t repair the one at left in either Photoshop Elements 15 or Irfanview. And then I kinda got into the swishy one. So, that’s what we’ve got.

I tried ordering a Red Tail IPA from the menu, but the server said they didn’t have that but had Lagunitas IPA instead, so I had that, and it was good. Beer is the right thing with Mexican food, I think. D had a Modello dark something. Both on tap. He had a tostada with pork, too, and liked it.

Oh, the chips!Β  They served corn chips and flour ones, but we didn’t notice that till I ate one of the last of D’s – which were corn. The flour ones were To Die For!

*The refritos might be cooked with lard – I don’t know – in which case the “meatless” and “vegetarian” labels would be false. But since this is about ideas, there’s no reason one would have to use lard in the beans so it’s easy to do this as a veggie meal. Except: chile rellenos are really hard to make well!

 

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Fettucine with grilled radicchio and endive, toasted walnuts, and Roquefort – 28 January 2018

[Filling in missing entries on 8 Feb]

This was a kick. D flying home and had a wine tasting with his lunch at Vino Volo, trying the “value reds” this time. He really enjoyed the Mencia and texted me about it – maybe he’d pick up a bottle to bring home. I was in the process of asking him if he’d want dinner, given he’d be home more or less in time, and he said yes. So we negotiated a plan for a dinner to set off the wine. After a couple of my suggestions, he asked for this Weber Art of the Grill recipe. We had maybe 1/4 or less of a small head of radicchio left from a previous dinner and subsequent dishes, and I bought one Belgian endive. Split each, rubbed with olive oil, and grilled over medium heat – I think about 5 minutes on the first side and less on the second. And even less, for the radicchio, on its third side. The endive didn’t have any third side πŸ˜‰ Walnuts toasted in the pan, Roquefort smooshed into a walnut oil/red wine vinegar dressing. Cooked fettucine tossed in the veggies and dressing and served in heated bowls. I bought D an Acme Italian Batard b/c it seems to be his favorite.

The Mencia – El Cayado Mencia Roble (2013 – denomination “Bierzo”)- didn’t have a lot of time to breathe between D’s arrival and dinner, and D thought it was not as enticing as he’d found it back at Vino Volo. However, we did really like it, and enjoyed it with the meal. Just don’t have to search all over to find more of it.

Lunch:

Sandwich. This part is meatful πŸ˜‰ Pretty sure I remember correctly that this was another – the third? – of a series of sandwiches to use up both pancetta and roasted yellow pepper. I cooked pancetta, then topped one slice of bread with a slab of the roasted pepper and the other with Danke cheese and broiled them (to melt the cheese and warm the pepper) then put the pancetta in between and closed the sandwich. I had some yellow pepper left after D arrived so I’m sure I must have continued these sandwiches up to today to use it up.

 

 

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Personal pizza with potatoes, ham, and pancetta – 27 January 2018

[Filling in missing posts on 8 February]

Another a bit-too-lazy dinner for one – I used the second half of the defrosted pizza dough, and made an ok but not great pizza. Cooked up the next-to-last round of pancetta, and also sliced two 1/8″ or thinner slices off the 3/4″ or so thick round of ham, and cut into pieces. I used the rest of the boiled potatoes, doing nothing else to them (like, when I brush the potatoes with cooked-garlic oil in the tapenade/red pepper/potato pizza) and scattered on the meats. May have used only mozzarella, might have added some grated parmaggiano, but whatever, not exciting. I see I wasn’t even ambitious enough to make a veggie! Oh well… so, why was I so lazy? Something was going on… oh bizarre, I don’t even have any photos for the day except the ones here. What did I do? πŸ˜‰

I decided to open a wine D didn’t care about (since he was not here) – one from a gift box from P&P for I think Christmas 2013. I found it quite enjoyable: Eagle Canyon 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Nothing really special, but quite drinkable. Good wine.

 

Lunch:

This picture reminds me of lunch: more of the sorrel soup I made previously, and a small sandwich, no doubt of grill-roasted yellow pepper, pancetta, and melted Danke cheese on defrosted Acme Italian bread. It was a good sandwich, which I made up in order to use 1) the pepper, 2) the pancetta, and 3) the cheese, so it was quite effective. I enjoyed it and had it a few times for lunch.

Breakfast:

Just to note that coffee (espresso and steamed milk – is this a tiny latte or a cappucino?) was in D’s new cup by our friend N.

Great cup πŸ™‚

 

 

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Bonne Bouche cheese and sourdough baguette; pea pods – 26 January 2018

[Filling in missing posts on 8 February]

D came home one day with this and a few other one-of-a-kind dishes from Urban Ore. Isn’t it pretty?

I spent a large part of the day at the Walker Evans exhibit at SFMOMA. A great day. I had the second half of the Bonne Bouche, Vermont cheese for dinner, and a new Acme sourdough baguette to go with it. I probably moved the cheese, on plate under glass, from the fridge to a counter before I left. Did I go shopping this day and buy the pea pods? I could look it up but too much trouble* – I’m comfortably wrapped in a blanket right now πŸ™‚ So: sauteed the stemmed pods in butter or oil or both till they were bright green. S&P. [*9th: Nope – pea pods previous. On the 26th I just bought the baguette and some more bananas for breakfasts.]

Wine… ok, gotta figure this out.. no wine photo… Oh right. I opened two wines, one the 23rd and one the 24th, and this would be the second half of one of those bottles.Β Β Β Β Β  I think probably the Kono Marlborough SB (Trader Joe’s, cheap) but could have been the McIlroy Chard (Costco, moderate).

 

Lunch:

I had lunch at SFMOMA, and it looked lovely, but was not nearly good enough, especially for the price.

The salad was supposed to be served warm, according to the person who helped me to order, but it was just the teeniest bit so. Mostly, the flavors just weren’t at all compelling. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. The textures were excellent – everything was fresh and well prepared, but the flavors didn’t remotely live up to the visuals. The fact that I took them up on their suggestion of Kim Crawford Marlborough SB to go with it was my fault. It’s a way overpriced wine (which I knew) so the $12 glass upped the price of lunch seriously. But the two women who let me sit at their table (b/c there weren’t any free ones) were lovely and that was the best part of lunch.

 

 

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Fettucine with pea pods and mushrooms – 24 January 2018

This is the original-size recipe from Georgeanne Brennan’s Potager, with my quantities. Originals in [ ]s. I scaled it down for 4 oz fettucine (for one) tonight, but it should have been even smaller. Try 5 oz for two when D here for dinner.

Steam 1 cup trimmed and cleaned small pea pods and set aside.

Slice 1 cup sliced white or crimini mushrooms [1/2 cup] and cook in 1 Tbsp butter, adding 1/2 tsp salt or slightly more (b/c of the larger amount of mushrooms).

Cook 12 oz dried fettucine till al dente – probably 6 – 8 minutes – in boiling, salted water. Drain thoroughly, using some of the water to heat the serving bowls. Return the fettucine to the drained saucepan. You can keep this on very low heat to keep the pasta warm.

Add 2 Tbsp heavy cream of creme fraiche, 4 Tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (but I don’t really measure it), 1/4 cup freshly grated parmaggiano, 1 Tbsp chives [or chervil], and the pea pods and mushrooms. Stir well (especially be sure the mushrooms are well distributed as they have most of the salt) and serve in the heated (wiped dry) bowls. Top with more chopped chives.

Enjoy!

I bought an Acme sourdough baguette – this may be the day (this part added 2 Feb!) when I got to the Bowl late (seems likely – evidently a whole baguette at dinnertime, none used for lunch) and those were the only baguettes left – but I would recommend either a regular bread or sweet baguette with this in future. I decided to open a bottle of 2014 McIlroy Chardonnay (Costco – a real find) to have with this b/c it’s such a wonderful recipe.

Oops! No, wait… that’s just cleverly framed so the cut end of the baguette is not visible. I took a lunch picture that day b/c it was a great lunch.

 

Lunch:

At the Bowl I bought, in addition to the sourdough baguette (chosen for the cheese here, not for the dinner) I got a Vermont cheese called Bonne Bouche. I moved it from its little light wood crate to a plate, and had half of it for lunch. Was this the day I made the sorrel soup, too? Yes, it was. I needed to use the leeks I had bought (used one) and there was sorrel, and a bit of sour cream to use, and two potatoes getting on… OMG and chives – masses of chives. I should have bought a smaller bunch last week. This recipe, also, is from Potager

Coffee:

While hunting down the lunch picture, I also found this – just a picture to note this pretty cup I bought decades ago at Peet’s in Berkeley. It was made in Poland. Espresso and steamed milk – a small latte.

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Linguine with pancetta-mushroom cream sauce; Romano beans – 21 January 2018

This is a dish from the Contra Costa times [pretty sure] on Wednesday the 24th of July, 1996! I can’t find the article on the web, which I guess, given the date, is not surprising. The dish won the top award for a student chef from L.A. named Jeana Lee, at the “seventh annual Pairing of Wine, Food, Talent & Technique” contest in Livermore.

I have rewritten the recipe for two of us, though the original would serve 4, using 8 oz dried linguine. My original notes reduced this to 6 oz, which I used this time, but I think it should be more like 4 to 5 oz for us, relative to the sauce I made – and this would be in keeping with Ms. Lee’s original proportions. My recipe, changed to my format, with original values in [ ]s.

Pre-prep:

Cut 1 thickly-cut round of pancetta into 1/4″ dice. Keep in the fridge till used. [3 Tbsp]
Slice 3 crimini mushrooms – about 1/4 cup [1/2 cup]
Finely grate 1 tsp Parmaggiano [2 tsp]
Chop 1 tsp fresh parsley [2 tsp]
Mince a teensy clove of garlic [pinch]
Clean one pesticide-free or organic lemon for zesting [1/2 tsp lemon zest]

Cooking:

Boil 4 – 5 oz [8 oz] dried linguine in salted water for about 8 minutes, till al dente.

Meanwhile:

Saute pancetta over medium heat in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil [1 Tbsp] till crispy and brown.

Remove pancetta, reserving oil in the skillet, and saute mushrooms in oil till golden and dry. [I poured off a bit of fat at this point – not sure I should have.]

[The original ingredients list has “Salt to taste” after the mushrooms, but omits mention of salt in the instructions. I’m guessing it would not hurt to salt the cooking mushrooms, but I didn’t this time.]

Add back the pancetta and pour in 1/4 cup Chardonnay [1/2 cup] [Didn’t use dinner wine, but a dry rose we had handy. Vermouth might work ok.].

Cook till wine is reduced by half, then add 1/4 cup heavy cream [1/2 cup]; bring to a boil and stir in the cheese.

Remove from heat and toss in the parsley and garlic. Toss with the cooked pasta, serve in heated bowls, and garnish by zesting lemon directly over the pasta. [Original says garnish with 1/2 tsp lemon zest. Hard to sprinkle! Just turn the zester so the lemon is on top and grate directly onto the pasta.]

So, delicious meal. I think you could up the parsley a bit and certainly the lemon.

I also cleaned and cut up the rest of the Romano beans and boiled 3 minutes. D took them over while I did the endgame on the pasta, and tossed them in melted butter, salt, and pepper.

I told D this wanted a chardonnay, and he could pick a CalStar, Toasted Head, or McIlroy, and he, unsurprisingly, chose CalStar. This was a 2013 “Sonmoa Coast, Sonoma County” bottle, which was great with the meal.

Later, we had the last of the truffles – dark chocolate this time – and Beeson tempranillo dessert wine from Harry & David, gift of P & T. A very nice pairing, and a lovely and thoughtful gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch:

We had a small amount – perhaps 1/2 cup? – of fresh, shelled cranberry beans in the fridge from the 13th, when we made the Hirigoyen dish with the beans cooked in piperade. Remarkably, we also had piperade that was still fine. Hm. I’ll bet I made more since then… anyway, when we got home from walking up “our” hill, D started the beans cooking, pretty sure just in water and salt, and I added two mammoth cloves of garlic, just peeled, not otherwise prepped, then wen tout a lifted a weight or three. The beans cooked a half hour or so; D, at my request, mashed some of them for the bruschetta, and left the others whole. He toasted up one large (center) slice of the frozen Acme Upstairs Bread, split in two, drizzled oil on top, and covered with beans. I microwaved all the piperade and served it out. It was a great match (of course), and mostly I think both of us made bites with both bruschetta and piperade in them. I tasted the beans by themselves, too, of course, b/c they are delicious!

 

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Omelette with leftover cilantro/mint sauce; pea pods – 20 January 2018

D cooked this entirely, while I had a shower, b/c we were running a bit late. He made an omelette using three eggs, and adding the rest of the Old Rotterdam cheese, grated. When it was mostly or completely cooked, he just spread the remaining cilantro/mint sauce from last Sunday (E’s unbirthday dinner) over the top and let it warm, then I guess folded the omelette sorta over it. It was really delicious! He noted that he could have used half the sauce and left half, but not clear when we would use it so he didn’t save any. He had started toasting the two slices of Upstairs Bread that I had defrosted earlier, and I buttered them and put them on the warming plates in the oven to wait. He boiled the stemmed pea pods in salted water about 3 minutes (too long, as he noted later). I dumped out the water and let them dry as much as possible; when the pan was dry, added a bit of butter and D ground some pepper over them and I tossed them in the pan with a big spoon and he served them onto the warm plates.

D decided that this would go with a wine already in the fridge, Kirkland’s “Ti Point” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (2016), and he was right. It was really an excellent combination.

D decided on a treat in the afternoon, one more of the chocolate truffles from Harry and David. He thought the milk and dark chocolates would go best with the remaining wine accompaniment, and chose the raspberry ones for mid-afternoon treat. I forgot to shoot mine till I had eaten half of it πŸ˜‰

Then after dinner, D got out the wine from the fridge – Tempranillo dessert wine from Harry and David, which is intended to go with the truffles (the combination, a gift from D’s Dad P and caretaker T). He chose the milk chocolate truffle, and poured us tiny wine glasses of the wine. It was an excellent match and a lovely treat of a dessert.

Lunch (not veggie):

Weird lunch today b/c I was at the Women’s March, 2018 edition, in downtown Oakland. I brought two bars with me In Case and ate one of them near the end of the march, then ran across some people eating pizza slices, and got myself one. Even though it was Cybelle’s. It really was pretty competent pizza – nothing to write home about, but nothing bad, either. I got a pepperoni slice, which was hot and waiting and the nice guy just boxed for me, and had him put the change from $5 into the tip jar. the pizza was not even so greasy as to need multiple napkins, which surprised me. I ate it on the way to the bus stop, maybe a half mile from the end of the march (given that the buses were on detour b/c the march ended on Broadway). Satisfying lunch πŸ™‚

The bar was from my emergency grab-and-go bag. the bars have no more than a 6 month shelf life so have to be taken out and eaten periodically anyway. Since we had a few we hadn’t actually tasted before, I decided to have one of those and see if it was tasty enough to get more of, and indeed, I did think so. This CLIF Builder’s Bar (flavor: chocolate) is a low-glycemic, high-protein bar, and I think we got it at REI, and 270 calories. Not a great idea to add pizza after that, to tell the truth πŸ˜‰

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Spaghetti with a creamy gorgonzola sauce; kale – 17 January 2018

We have about 1 1/2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream left after apparently overbuying for Es unbirthday dinner on the 14th. R&E took half of about 3 cups and we have the rest. So, what to do with it? Came up with a lot of things that use cream – fettucine with mushrooms and pea pods, poblano “quiche” and porcini “quiche,” penne with nasturtiums, M’s tomato soup (we have about 2 cups frozen, waiting for the cream finish), salmon in tarragon cream sauce, cream of mushroom soup, and a pancetta/mushroom cream sauce for pasta. AND, D found some recipes – rather one with some variants – in The Pasta Bible (Teubner), and he wanted to try those, so we are trying them. They both are based on stock and cream, plus an egg yolk, one with added herbs (tomorrow) and the other with gorgonzola or another blue (tonight). We had 2.1 oz (I weighed it) sweet gorgonzola pretty much none the worse for wear after sitting, well wrapped in paper (no air space) in the fridge for several weeks. I scraped the slightly-brownish bits on the surface, but it really was fine. D cooked this and I really didn’t watch, but it was straightforward.

[OK, let’s go to The Pasta Bible and record this recipe: Melt 2 Tbsp butter over med heat, sprinkle in 3 Tbsp flour, cook gently, stirring, 1-2 minutes, without browning. Add 2 cups chicken [or beef] stock – we used defrosted Swanson’s – whisking constantly. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, freshly ground white pepper, and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Simmer 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove pan from heat. Whisk together 1/2 cup cream and 1 egg yolk. Add a little of the hot sauce to the egg yolk and cream mixture, then stir into the rest of the sauce. Strain the sauce [why? D didn’t do this.] Reheat gently (don’t heat fast or the sauce will curdle) and then add the flavoring and blend thoroughly. Flavorings: D used up our gorgonzola dolce – about 2 oz. The other option is herbs: “2 Tbsp fresh chives, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage.” which we are doing tomorrow, as I understand it. D moved the spaghetti into the sauce to coat it, and served with pepper over the top. Pretty!]

The kitchen island this afternoon. Why not πŸ™‚

This afternoon, I went out to pick some of the curly kale, but discovered that the “flat kale” plant was being encroached by those little grey spots – aphids or something? – so I took off all the leaves that were redeemable and that’s what we had for dinner. I think I will cut down the stalk and let it regenerate when the time comes (it seems to know) rather than leave the attacked leaves sitting there. The curly kale seemed less stricken by the grey critters last year (as in: not) so leaving that one and hoping it stays fine. Boiled 4 mins, heated with butter and salt as usual.

On D’s suggestion, I bought an Acme Italian Batard at the Bowl before lunch, but we ended up not having sandwiches, preferencing leftovers today.

D brought up a wine that was so old (July 2013) that D didn’t remember we’d gotten it at the North Berkeley Wine half-price sale. He bought a bunch of single bottles and we went back and got more of some, including this one ($19.25 reduced to $9.63) but I think we were overzealous. I really don’t love this wine. Except, tonight I poured it back and forth into a 4 cup measure several times (didn’t count) and I think that improved it.

 

 

Later, we had the very last of our share of E’s sumptuous birthday cake (see the 14th). It was still sumptuous πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

And even later, I walked by the island and the Sumo mandarins caught my eye, and I offered D half and we had that as dessert-dessert.

 

 

Lunch:

D decided to make a salad with romaine, a bit of radicchio, and a small avocado I bought on spec last week. He used some of the cilantro/mint sauce from E’s birthday mid-afternoon snack as a dressing. Not the best choice, I thought, but interesting. I reheated the rest of last night’s quadrucci with ham and bacon in the microwave, first 2 minutes at 6 power, then another 2 minutes at 7 power, and that worked great.

 

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An un-birthday Indian feast – 14 January 2018

Today’s “cooking wine,” which is to say, wine to drink while cooking. We wanted to show this to R&E, after having convinced our favorite wine buyer S to obtain it for us from the importer. GREAT wine!

 

E decided to delay her birthday dinner celebration so they could see Star Wars on the actual day, and then struggled a bit with the menu, deciding between two options, one easier, and one the one she really wanted. So hey, it’s her birthday! She ended up choosing the more complicated version of the possibilities (what she really wanted), which required Tandoori chicken as an ingredient.

 

 

 

 

 

She made the complicated Tandoori chicken for herself and R on Saturday night, making more than 6 pounds of chicken, and then used the leftover chicken to make Velvet Butter Chicken tonight. It was a great meal, and obviously benefited from having four of us to cook it. Lots of prep work – chopping and seeding and spice-grinding galore! All the recipes were from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni.

And butter. Butter, butter, butter. I’m pretty sure this is the start of the chicken’s sauce, but I wasn’t cooking it.

 

I washed three pounds of spinach, one leaf at a time, which resulted in muddy first wash, but, remarkably, a clean second rinse. Helped bone some of the chicken. I ended up stemming and seeding 6 small Indian green peppers, mincing two and chopping the other four.

Loved using this outdoor/picnic tablecloth for the first time. Kind of outrageous, but really fun.

 

I used the chopped ones, plus the chopped ginger, blending into the tomato sauce in which the chicken is finished. Procedural note: The 28 oz can of chunked tomatoes filled the blender and I was concerned that the chunks of peppers and ginger would simply swim around the blender knives; so I emptied out most – probably 5/6 or so – of the tomatoes, added the ginger and pepper chunks, and blended that for awhile till I could see (stopping the blender and

Let’s put the wine in here so I have half a chance of getting words near photos. Nice try, good wine, but wow, nothing really went well with the chicken.

spooning the sauce a bit) that the mixture was finely blended – and I checked and it was. Then I added in the rest of the tomatoes, which did not need to be blended nearly as long. It was an excellent, fine puree, and E was quite happy with it.

Start of the pilaf. I just thought this was pretty.h it.

End of the pilaf!

The chicken is cooked in spices (I smelled cumin) and then the puree is cooked, and cream added (this was SO not a health-food dinner!) and the chicken heated in the sauce. E didn’t like the idea of cutting bone-in pieces of chicken in half, so she deboned them first (I helped a little), and she cut them into pieces she thought were nice-sized.

We finally tried a rose called “Tavel” from Kermit Lynch, which was a wonderful wine but not a great match. We are kind of stumped as to what would work, to tell the truth.

Perhaps my favorite part of the meal was this most amazingly scented rice pilaf called Fragrant Pilaf, Banares Style.

 

 

 

 

 

The pilaf uses cardamom, bay, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, and salt. The ginger in this recipe is the grated one.

 

 

 

We also had a red-cabbage dish (“Buttered Smothered Cabbage”). Did I say butterbutterbutter?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picture on the right shows what I called “ginger three ways,” as three different cutting styles were called for in the various recipes. This was the second (after the hot peppers) that called for multiple different cutting styles.

 

Snack:

The first thing we did, about 3:30, was make and eat an afternoon snack of Onion Fritters, which D deep fried from the batter E had made, of chick pea flour, with cumin and minced green chiles. They were tasty, but not enough! E said she’d make 1/2 recipe instead of 1/3 for four people next time. There was a tamarind sauce and Mint Coriander Dip to go with them. The tamarind is what is supposed to be there, but I liked the green dip better. It was really outstanding, in fact.

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert!

R made a luxurious cake, which I’m sure was also mostly butter, with the other main ingredient being cream πŸ˜‰ Pistachios on top, and I think cardamom or something of the sort as a fragrance/flavor. Aha – Re confirms it’s “Cardamom Cream Cake” from the New York Times recipe collection. Sumptuous! They made ice cream, too – cardamom again, with vanilla also. Yummers!

 

 

 

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Fresh cranberry beans cooked in piperade and topped with an egg – 13 January 2018

Finally writing this up on the 22nd. D wanted to have this again – he’s become a piperade addict, and was already totally into fresh cranberry beans. We don’t have it quite right yet, but it’s worth perfecting. The recipe is from Pintxos by Gerald Hirigoyen, whose restaurant Piperade is in the city.

I bought a pile of fresh cranberry beans the other day, and D shelled them and put into the fridge. We intended to make this on the 11th but somehow got too late and put it off, then had the gift Posole from E&R last night. So now is the time. A cup of the beans (in the official recipe, 2 cups) are cooked in piperade and stock, with some choricero peppers and smoked ham, and then topped with an egg and baked till the egg sets. Didn’t find choricero peppers and didn’t have time to get to Spanish Table to get some (assuming they have them!) so used some red pepper flakes instead. Worked. My guess is there are as many interations of this dish as there are Basque cooks, so this is fair πŸ˜‰ Still having a problem with the egg. The first time I made this, the egg didn’t cook in the time allotted, and I had to put it under the broiler or something. Another time I used the beans hot instead of letting them cool for a half hour, and the eggs were hard on top and overcooked. They were overcooked again this time. I think we need to try cooling the bean mixture half the allotted time and see whether that worls. Of course, it probably all depends on the temperature of the kitchen and the weight of the pan they’re in and whether you cover them or not, etc. Owel. Keep trying!

I took out the last four hunks of frozen Summer Swedish Rye that E made into teensy loaves for Christmas dinner, wondering if they’d work for dinner bread, but D said let’s have regular bread instead – so we ate the little breadlets πŸ™‚

The frozen slice of Acme Levain (? – writing this the 22nd) looked like a dolphin, no doubt b/c I had to squish the bread a bit to get it into the freezer. It calmed down later.

 

 

 

 

Wine:

D chose this 2015 Vin de Savoie, of which we got several at The Wine Mine. The back says we should have it with Morbier cheese, so we need to save the last one to do that! The bottle also says “St Jean de la Porte” Mondeuse.

Lunch:

Hm. We were having some great sandwiches in here – might be Danke cheese from the Bowl? D decided we should try thin-sliced onions on our cheese sandwiches, and he was so right! Otherwise, just romaine and mayonnaise (and he adds mustard). Steamed, buttered broccoli – love it πŸ™‚

 

 

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Posole Rojo – 12 January 2018

What do I call this – takeout? Dinner with friends? E texted us last night asking if we’d like some of the posole she had made – evidently a large recipe – and we of course said an enthusiastic yes! This evening she brought us some large fraction of a quart of the soup, as well as some of the necessary garnishes: cilantro, a bit of mole, we added our creme fraiche (instead of sour cream), some sliced base-of-romaine (instead of iceberg or cabbage), some thin-sliced white onion, and one very small avocado. We didn’t have any radishes. My guess is that the number of recipes for posole roughly equals the number of cooks in Mexico, so leaving out radishes is probably not a mortal sin or anything. The recipe she used is from the Food Network.

So: it was GREAT! Loved it! Very rich and satisfying dinner.

D found a wine at the Bowl this morning that he wanted to try with this – called “Contrade” – a Negroamaro from Puglia that cost only about $8. It was pleasant and enjoyable – very drinkable – as good as you could want for that price. I would not object to having more of this, especially on days when the meal might fight back against the wine as this one did.

We had another two of the harry & David chocolate truffles for dessert, almond ones this time. These are really yummy πŸ™‚

 

 

Lunch:

Some more boiled potatoes – I’m adding this the 16th, but I see that D found another use for the creme fraiche, and also put chives from the garden over the top. The cheese is Old Rotterdam, which I liked a lot by itself, but thought was not a great sandwich cheese. So we had it with a planer on the table to cut it, with a bit of bread, which I see in this case was the end of a Pain au Levain from Acme.

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Omelette with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms; broccoli – 11 January 2018

We were thinking about making Gerald Hirigoyen’s recipe from Pintxos, wherein

Ok, writing this the 18th, unfortunately. No idea where I was going with that sentence. LOL! I’ll look up the cookbook and see if I can add anything. […] Nope {sigh} must have beem something complicated, and it got late. So…Β  Aha! It was the shell beans cooked in piperade – we made them instead on the 13th! Must have gotten too late this day. But even my photos don’t tell me why…

So, D made this delicious omelette. He thought something was missing from it, but I didn’t. D had me pull apart the last of the hen-of-the-woods head that I bought for mushroom tarts on the 5th. Good staying power! They really didn’t need any cleaning, remarkably enough. He cooked them, undoubtedly in butter, then added late in the omelette-cooking process. I undoubtedly cooked the broccoli (steam 3 mins, melt butter, toss broccoli with butter s&p). I also make the toast when D makes omelettes.

I bought an Acme Pain au Levain at the Bowl, clearly.

 

D chose this white wine and we can’t figure out where we bought it. It was good, and only $9.99. None at the Bowl (I have checked since) so perhaps on our visit to K&L last year? We would get more if we knew where. LOL!

Lunch:

I think this was the day I used Old Rotterdam cheese in the sandwich (Levain, romaine, mayonnaise, possibly onion?) and decided it was not great for sandwiches. Use for just eating in the future! Also bought one meal’s worth of somewhat tired Romano beans. They were tasty, so no problem (boiled 3 mins, reheated in butter with S&P).

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Pizza with roasted red peppers, potatoes, and tapenade – 9 January 2018

An old favorite. I’m filling this in on the 16th so not sure why I decided I had to make this – just that I love it and it’s winter and there are red peppers in discount bags at the Bowl. Good enough excuse. Boiled potatoes, sliced; roasted red peppers, chunked; tapenade; Fontina Valle d’Aosta; garlic oil; red pepper flakes and minced rosemary over the top.

The recipe for 1/2 crust pizza is here. I use 1/3 of the crust recipe now, so I reduced the amounts a bit.

D brought up a huge favorite wine of ours – favorite b/c of its earthiness. This bottle was a bit less so than others, but still really good. Chateau St. Jacques d’Albas Minervois, Domaine d’Albas 2014. We got this from The Wine Mine sometime in 2016 or possibly earlier.

Howbout another little piece, with photogenic red pepper flakes:

Lunch:

Since I had really liked the taste of the Thai jasmine rice with the piperade, I reheated the leftover rice with some of the piperade.

Super combination! Also had some of the P’tit Basque cheese (from Costco) which we love.

 

 

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Spaghetti with three kinds of mushrooms; sauteed pea pods – 8 January 2018

D cooked a perfectly delicious pasta tonight – made it up on the spot. Or actually, he probably thought out bits and pieces previously… He cut up three large white mushrooms into rather thick chunks, and also used the extra hen-of-the-woods pieces and eryngii chunks that I didn’t use for the mushroom tarts. He cooked he white mushrooms and some fresh thyme from the garden (dried, on the island) in butter, salted them, and cooked till the mushrooms gave up, then reclaimed, their liquid. “Garlic in there somewhere.” Then he added more butter and the eryngii and cooked for a few minutes, and finally he added more butter and the hens. He splashed in some Gallo dry vermouth (after using up the Cinzano) and something north of 1/4 cup (by eye) or creme fraiche, and turned off the heat. He added a small bit of pasta water “to spread it out a little.” He added the cooked and drained spaghetti to the medium cast-iron pan with the mushrooms, and mixed, using a couple of forks.

He got out the rest of the pea pods and rinsed them, and I stemmed them, discarded on seriously spotted one and carved a brown spot out of another, then washed and dried in a towel, and quick sauteed in hot olive oil, with salt and pepper, for only one or two minutes in a Revere Ware medium frying pan, then turned off the heat. this worked well!

I went shopping after my Dr appointment and bought an Acme Rustic Sweet Baguette in time for a late lunch – after D also got back late, having picked up our friends R&L at the airport. We had that for lunch (below) and dinner bread.

D went into the cellar, at risk of scaring our poor skittish feral cat, who was traumatized this afternoon when UPS conscientiously delivered a large package to the back (i.e. her) porch, and brought up one of our favorite Wine Mine wines, Chateau de Manissy, a seriously earthy, totally delicious Cotes du Rhone.

 

I stopped at the drug store en route home from the doc’s (somehow I ran out of toothpaste) and, possibly b/c I had not eaten and possibly b/c I had previously been given a treat like this from a Dutch friend, I succumbed to an item while standing in the checkout line. Two little caramel-waffle “sandwiches” called “Stroopwafels.” The brand is Daelmans, and it also says “Soft, toasted waffles filled with caramel, cinnamon and real bourbon vanilla.” The packet of 2 was only $1.59, which I thought was a fine price for them. I was good and didn’t eat one before lunch, but then remembered after dinner, and the two little guys in the package made a great dessert for the two of us.

Lunch (Here ends the veggie portion of our program):

I was at the Bowl when D got home from the airport, and he texted me to ask if he could start lunch. I suggested prepping, but not cooking, a veggie to have with chicken sandwiches. He got some Brussels sprouts together, and we boiled them 3 minutes, drained, and tossed with butter, salt and pepper. When I got home, I made sandwiches with baguette chunks, the rest of the chicken from 2 nights ago, sliced cross-grain for easier biting, romaine, and mayonnaise. D said I should salt the chicken, even though it really was good, and I did, and it was not too salty-tasting. D suggested we have the piperade, and I sort of resisted using all of it – used half – but it made an excellent condiment. Great lunch!

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Grilled chicken thighs; Thai jasmine rice; piperade – 7 January 2018

I bought a bag of four red bell peppers at the Bowl for I think 89 cents/lb, and another yellow one, expecting to make piperade with a red and a yellow. Also bought two tomatoes for the piperade, thinking I needed one, which was not correct – supposed to have four. And one sort of wore out before today, butΒ Β  1 1/2 of them turned out to work fine. There must be as many recipes for piperade as there are Basque cooks.

So, D wanted to make either pork chops or grilled chicken to have with the piperade, and, since we’d had chops twice recently, I chose chicken thighs. Defrosted a Costco packet, which D trimmed, marinated (just salt, pepper, soy sauce this time) and grilled. I made the piperade and the rice just before dinner.

I cooked the piperade the entire time on medium-high, stirring (more like “turning over”) almost but not quite constantly, and it worked extremely well. Took about the 10 minutes the recipe suggested (“until the vegetables soften and start to color”).

Couldn’t decide which bread photo to use. Both seriously altered in color and/or lighting, due to challenging originals. The first one shows the color well (after “remove color cast” – thank you, Adobe Photoshop Elements 15) and I like the extreme side lighting. The one below shows how interesting the little breadlets look πŸ™‚ After Brightness/ Contrast..

I cooked the Thai jasmine rice (water:rice 2:1) for 15 minutes as usual. When I served out the piperade, I spooned a tiny bit of the liquid (mostly oil) over the rice, and it turned out to be a really nice combination, so I ate most of the rice in bites with the piperade.

 

Remarkably, D chose a white for this meal, even though the grilling of the chicken could easily have warranted a red. But then, the white was a CalStar, so that was an excellent idea in any case – a 2013 “Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County” Chardonnay.

 

 

D halved the last thick chunk of the second fruitcake (of three) and handed me a good piece of it for dessert.

Here are some marauding dried flowers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch:

Oh this was really neat. D’s idea. Writing this part of the post on the 16th, so not sure if the potatoes were newly boiled or not. I think so. So, D cooked up a slice of Niman Ranch bacon that was in the fridge from the Coscto trip, and cooked some chunked white mushrooms in it, and also refried/heated the potatoes in it. He’s trying to use up the creme fraiche, and this was a great idea for that. Looks like there’ thyme in there – yes, I’m sure that’s what he used. And then he decided we should split a beer – well, and ale –Β  to have with this, an excellent choice. It was a “store-botten” one, not one from R&E for a change: Lagunitas “Little Summer Extra!” Nothing terribly special, as I recall, but a good idea with this meal.

 

 

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Pizza with radicchio, endive, walnuts, and Roquefort – 6 January 2018

When I was at the Bowl the other day, I noticed the radicchio and endive, which looked really nice, and remembered we had some gorgonzola dolce that wanted eating, so thought of this pizza. And then I didn’t use the gorgonzola. It would have been fine, but this pizza really is meant to have a Roquefort, and lo and behold, we also had a Roquefort that wanted eating – the Carles sheep Roquefort from Cheese Board, who had a sign with it suggesting eating it with pears (and also, “Not for the faint of heart”). So the Roq won, and we still have a couple ounces of sweet gorg to figure out. Not that that’s a problem.

I made a new batch of pizza dough, about 1/3 “white whole wheat” from King Arthur, and kneaded it while watching D&R photograph their work for an online sales place. MUCH better than kneading with nothing to see or think about than kneading! Froze 2 portions of dough, and got impatient with thin spots and torn spots and ended up rolling the dough with my tapered, cherrywood(?) rolling pin instead of just stretching it to shape. It was pretty good anyway. I bought a moderate-sized endive and a really tiny head of radicchio, and used all the endive – halved lengthwise, cored and sliced crosswise into about 1/2″ bits – and 1/4 of the head of radicchio, the tiny bit of core cut off and the head sliced into rather smaller than 1/2″ slices. But that doesn’t matter a lot. I used 4 oz mozzarella and the rest of the sheep Roquefort called Carles. So, after pre-cooking the crust 1 1/2 minutes, it goes: grated [most of the] mozz, strewn endive and radicchio pieces, well separated, broken walnuts (scant 1/3 cup, before breaking – cracking with fingers makes fewer tiny stray bits than cutting with a knife, I found), dots of Roquefort, last little bit of mozz. Bake 5 mins, top with chopped parsley (conveniently available in a jar on the island) and dressing. I cut the amount of the dressing this time to 1 Tbsp walnut oil and 2 tsp red wine vinegar, and that worked well. The previous amount (1 1/2 Tbsp/1Tbsp) was probably from when I used 1/2 rcp instead of 1/3 rcp crust for each pizza.

It was really good, I thought. Even a bit salty, despite no added salt, b/c of the Roquefort.

We tried out a new Brutocao wine we got at the Bowl to fill out our case along with the Irouleguy. This was a Mendocino Pinot Noir, 2013, from “Slow Lope’N Vineyard.” It was good but not one we’d run back to get more of. Maybe one more, open it a bit earlier, if we’re buying another case. Check it out again. But we don’t love it as we did the Brutocao Zins and Cabs we got at Grocery Outlet a few years ago and are still drinking – and still adore.

We split half the remaining fruitcake – this loaf, anyway – there’s still one more, fortunately. Love this fruitcake!

 

Lunch:

Just took this to put ourselves on record that P’tit Basque does make a good sandwich. I used the defrosted last four slices from the Acme ciabatta, romaine, the second half of the tomato D bought for another cheese sandwich, thin sliced onion (D did all the slicing today), s&p on the toms, mayonnaise for both adding mustard for D – the usual IOW. D also cooked up, with some chopped sweet onion, the zucchini I bought the other day – the whole one this time πŸ™‚

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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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