Thursday, October 13, 2011

This and That - Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken and Adapted Zuni Salad

The travel portion of the year is basically over for me until Thanksgiving, and after a trip to Louisville, Kentucky to see my Boyfriend's family, we're settling into a fairly domesticated routine. I had never been to Louisville before. I got the grand tour, complete with apple picking at a local orchard, and a visit to Churchill Downs. I came back feeling like fall was in the air, inspired to make some of my favorite warm and comforting dishes.

That started with homemade pizza, hummus, and a beef stew. The weekend includes plans for homemade tomato sauce and a new recipe for lasagna. Last night, it was Thomas Keller's roast chicken, with a modified Zuni Bread Salad.

Roast chicken is really the perfect dinner. It requires minimal prep, you can toss in whatever you want, shove it in the oven for an hour or so, and you're done. It tastes like hours and hours of work went into it. Those are really the best kinds of dinners, aren't they?

Thomas Keller never steers you wrong. And his recipe for simple roast chicken doesn't disappoint. I washed the chicken, and put it in the fridge uncovered in the morning. Took it out at 6pm that evening, seasoned it generously with salt and pepper and a little oil, massaged the inside with 3 crushed garlic cloves and a couple sprigs of time, topped the breasts with a bit of butter, and stuck in in the oven on top of some potatoes, onions and carrots in a skillet at 475 for 25 minutes. When that step was done, I lowered the heat to 400 for 45 minutes, and took it out when the meat thermometer read 160.

I let the bird rest for 20 minutes, and re-heated the vegetables in the skillet over the stove. I tossed in some fresh arugula and croutons with the vegetables and served that on the side with the carved chicken.

It couldn't have been better, or easier.

How's that for a recipe? Easy enough, eh?

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Praise of Quinoa - Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

My friend Denise called me out for neglecting this little blog. She's right, I have no excuse! I'm a rather pathetic blogger as of late. And the truth is, I've been returning again and again to old familiar standbys. Fresh tomato sauce over whole wheat pasta, salads with lemony dressings and lots of cucumber, simple roasted vegetables, and lots of help from the Trader Joe's frozen foods aisle.

It's true that things have been fairly busy lately with work. I've added pilates a couple times a week to the schedule, and with the days getting shorter, I feel worn out at the end of it all, and I haven't been inspired to tackle a new dish.

I think I'll start to feel that inspiration again with the turn of the season. More dinners eaten at the dining room table, with candles and music instead of the latest episode of Breaking Bad on the TV (though it will still be watched, so good!) And, a more concentrated effort to eat healthier. Smaller portions and more vegetables and grains. I'm trying to be much better about this, more conscious of what goes into my body, and less mindless eating of the things I don't need, or really even want. I'm sure we could all be better about this, but I think I'm going to need a bit of support and camaraderie in this effort. Any of you have any tips and tricks for healthy eating and meal planning? Maybe if you wouldn't mind sharing some of your favorite healthy recipes, it would inspire me to give them a try. I'd love some suggestions!

We've made a couple of changes so far: we've switched completely to whole-wheat pasta. I thought I'd never get used it it, but after a month, I crave it, and I've hardly missed white flour pasta. Sourdough bread is now a once in awhile treat, and whole-wheat has come to stay. Trying to cut out as much white flour and sugar as possible. I'm still looking for that perfect pizza dough recipe using whole wheat flour. That's tricky, it seems.

So here's a quick salad I threw together yesterday in the midst of an afternoon of errands. Healthy and quick, I just cooked the quinoa and tossed all the ingredients together. It had enough fiber and protein to keep me sated from noon until 6pm. Not bad!

Apologies for the lack of pictures. This was gobbled up before I got a chance.

Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

Serves 8

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas or canned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Baby Spinach (you can chop a couple cups and use it fresh, or use an entire bag by wilting it in a saucepan with a bit of olive oil over low heat)


  • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • the juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp honey

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa through the mint, toss together. In a smaller bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing, and whisk together with a fork. Pour over the salad, and toss, coating the salad. Taste for seasoning, serve while still warm.

Add the dressing to the salad and stir well.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lists - Black Cod with Miso

Hair of the Dog - Portland

Once again, it's been over a month since my last post. My apologies. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that this coming month will be much better, but in exchange for the irregularity of postings, I have lists. Curated lists for such exotic locales as Portland, OR. Headlsburg/Sebastapol Wine Country and Anderson Valley, CA.

I also have an amazing recipe for Black Cod.

So consider this my apology post. And I'll keep the lists coming to make up for my silence here.

First off, Portland.

Let's cover beer and wine, shall we? P-town has booth, in abundance.

Deschutes Brewery - Portland

If you're in Portland, I highly recommend the following in the beer category:

Hair of the Dog Brewery and Tasting Room - Our favorite of the trip. What a great place. Like hanging out in a very hip and modern garage. The beer was serious, meant to be sipped and drunk slowly, and while I didn't get to try the food, it smelled like it would be more than worth the trip back. I'd make this the first stop, next time around. They seem to be known for their dark beers, one of which is brewed with cherries in old whiskey barrels. We don't have breweries like this in CA. I'll have to come back.

Hopworks Urban Brewery - your basic neighborhood brewery and lunch spot...only with much higher quality beer.

Deschutes - numerous Portlandites might disagree with me on this one, but I like this place. A bit commercial, yes, but they make some of my favorite beers (Green Lakes, anyone?) and the location (heart of the Pearl district) is a good place to people watch.

Portland is a food town. We made our way to some great spots and I could go on and on, but my favorite of the bunch was a food cart: Pyro Pizza. Parked in a parking lot full of other carts; Poutine, Crepes, Waffles and more. The pizza was wood fired and delicious, and cost-wise, a bargain as well. I had the margherita, and the boy had some white sauce with truffle oil concoction. Stellar.

For cocktails, I like Rontoms. Especially since I discovered their excellent patio in the back. It's got a mid-century modern vibe. Always a winner with me.

For wine, out in the Willamette Valley, the following 3 are places I can't wait to get back to (and yes, it's all about the Pinots):

Lemelson Vineyards
Brick House Vineyards
Bethel Heights Vineyard

From Portland, on down to Healdsburg, CA. and surrounding areas. Here are my top 8 wineries in that area:

1. Preston Vineyards & Winery (I'm a sucker for the Barbera, the Madame Preston and the jug wine (only on Sundays))
2. Porter Creek Vineyards ( the old vine Zin is a standout)
3. Unti (all amazing)
4. Radio Coteau (some of the best CA pinots I've ever had)
5. Scherrer (I'm currently head over heels for their rose)
6. Taft Street Winery (started in Berkeley of all places)
7. Wind Gap Winery (it's all about the syrah)
8. Inman (great pinot)

I've mentioned several of these before. You can't go wrong with this list. I feel pretty good about sending you on your merry way with these.

So now you're set to take a trip. Be it a weekend road trip, or a mark your list for a west coast visit kind of trip.

Next post, I promise to cover the Anderson Valley in CA.

Onto the Black Cod.

I take no credit for this one, this is all Mark Bittman. One of his all-time favorite Minimalist recipes: Black Cod with Miso. Black Cod is an incredibly rich and buttery fish. The miso brings it to an unexpected and deceptively elegant place. The lucky person you serve it to would never guess how little actual work is involved. Just let the fish, the miso and the broiler do all the heavy lifting. The only hard part is choosing the wine to go with. I chose the Scherrer Rose.

Black Cod Broiled with Miso

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup miso, preferably dark (I used red miso, which comes as a paste. I found it at Whole Foods.)
1/2 cup mirin, sake or white wine (I used 1/2 mirin and 1/2 white wine)
1 1/2 to 2 pounds black cod fillets (skin may be on or off).

Heat broiler; set rack 3 to 4 inches from heat source. Combine first three ingredients in a small saucepan and, over low heat, bring almost to a boil, stirring occasionally just until blended; mixture will be fairly thin. Turn off heat.

Put fillets in an ovenproof baking dish or skillet, preferably nonstick, and spoon half the sauce on top. Broil until sauce bubbles and begins to brown, then spoon remaining amount over fish. Continue to broil, adjusting heat or rack position if sauce or fish is browning too quickly, until fish is just cooked through. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Best Vegetable - Brown Butter Rhubarb Bars

Things are getting exciting at the Farmer's Market. English peas, pea shoots, bright green asparagus and purple potatoes, Meyer lemons, and best of all, rhubarb.

Rhubarb is by far my favorite vegetable. It might not be a surprise to you, but it's a cousin to celery (only rhubarb is so much better than celery.)

I'm constantly searching for new recipes to use it in. Last year, I topped a piece of salmon with it. It was a nice and unexpected sweet tart contrast to the rich and buttery fish.

What follows is one of those recipes that I've been waiting a long time to make. We visited Big Sur in November of last year, and had a fantastic breakfast at the Big Sur Bakery. I poured through a copy of their cookbook over our breakfast pizza and freshly baked bread, and stopped once I turned the page to this recipe. I promptly bought the cookbook, and I've been waiting for rhubarb season in order to try these Rhubarb Brown Butter Bars. Sometimes, every single thing about a certain recipe speaks to you, and you know that there's no way the recipe can miss.

I'm happy to report that that is indeed the case with this recipe.

I adapted it slightly, substituting lemons for blood oranges. If you're not a fan of rhubarb, you could substitute raspberries, strawberries, even plums or cherries. It's totally adaptable. I made two batches of the rhubarb jam, and strained the syrup off of the first batch, to reserve for rhubarb cocktails (priorities.)

Brown Butter Rhubarb Bars
adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook

For the Jam

1 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
4 rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 vanilla bean

For the Crust

1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

For the Brown Butter Filling

3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp butter

Begin by making the rhubarb jam. Combine the sugar, pulp of the vanilla bean and pod and lemon juice and zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the rhubarb, and cook over medium until the rhubarb begins to falls apart and the mixture is syrupy, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 and start the crust.
Put a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat and add the butter to brown it, whisking often, until the milk solids separate from the butter and it starts to smell rich and nutty. About 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and stick in the freezer for half an hour, until solid.

Mix the powdered sugar and flour together in a medium bowl. Once the butter is solid, cut it into small cubes and mix it into the flour-sugar mixture using your hands. Combine until the mixture comes together into a crumbly dough. don't over mix. Press the dough into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove to cool, but leave the oven on at 375.

While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, flour, and sugar and set aside. Spit and scrape the pulp and pod of the vanilla bean into a small saucepan. Add the butter and brown in the same manner as with the crust, then pour it into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Remove the vanilla pod.

Pour half of the brown butter filling over the crust. Drop spoonfuls of jam over the filling and gently spread it evenly (reserving about 1/4 of the jam). Pour the remaining brown butter filling over the jam. Using a spoon, drop small dollops of the remaining jam randomly over the top of the bars, then bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the filling puffs into a golden-brown color.

Let the pan cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into squares to serve.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recovery - Chana Masala

I'm currently in recovery from a meal.

It's not what you might think. Certainly nothing bad or upsetting. This is the good kind of recovery. The kind that comes from delicious food, wonderful company and a bit (just a bit) of over-indulgence.

Guilty as charged.

As a belated birthday gift, Leah and Brian gave me the gift every food-obsessed person dreams of. The gift of Thomas Kellar. A trip to his restaurant Ad Hoc in Napa. The Ad Hoc of fried chicken fame. It's a family style restaurant that specializes in comfort food. I've wanted to go for years.

We decided to make a weekend of it, squeezing in a lovely hotel and a fantastic day of wine tasting prior to dinner. I planned ahead, and did my best to keep my stomach empty (except for wine of course) on the day of the dinner. A small breakfast, some tahbouli for lunch, and that was it. I wanted to have plenty of room.

In retrospect, I should have skipped all food prior on the day of. What came to the dinner table was a salad of French Laundry garden greens with green garlic dressing, radishes and torn croutons, fresh bread, Seared Pork Belly with Tomato Marmalade and a perfectly Poached Egg, Pork Rack with figs, potatoes and jus, a cheese course of Nicasio Valley cheese with Red Pepper jelly, and Panna Cotta with macerated Strawberries and Shortbread Twill.

Oh, did I mention the wine pairing for each course?

As I said. I'm in recovery.

We left the table having consumed nearly an entire pig. Stuffed. We practically rolled back to the hotel. My stomach hasn't quite recovered.

It was an amazing meal.

As part of my recovery efforts, I'm trying to stick to a couple weeks of mainly vegetarian cooking. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits. In that vein, I decided to break out what's been a recent favorite in my kitchen. Chana Masala. Something I attempted a few weeks ago, and was amazed to discover, is incredibly easy to make. It helps that it's both healthy, and extremely flavorful.

It was the first dish I cooked in my new apartment. And now it feels like home. I serve it over rice with some cucumber mint Raita on the side. Maybe some Naan if I feel like it. It's served as a great reminder that I need to incorporate more spices into my cooking. Be a little more adventurous, and not just stick with garlic and lemon (like I most often do). Just a hint of spice can really transform a dish and seem to heighten your skills as a cook. You'll be amazed at how quickly it comes together, and how delicious it tastes.

Chana Masala
adapted from Orangette

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garam masala
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 28-ounce can diced or whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6-8 tbs plain yogurt, optional
lemon wedges, optional

Coat the bottom of a saute pan or dutch oven with olive oil. Heat to medium. Add the onions and sautee slowly until they start to carmelize. Stir occassionally, but leave them alone from time to time to really set. This will take 25-30 minutes, maybe more. You're looking for a dark caramel color. The onions should even be charred in some spots. This is what will develop the flavor, so have patience and courage to let them do their thing in the pan!

Once the onions are caramelized, reduce the heat to low and add the garlic. If the pan is a bit dry, add a bit more olive oil. Sautee for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the spices (cumin through cardamom seeds) and fry in the pan, stirring constantly for another 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup of water to deglaze the pan and loosen any of the browning and flavor from the bottom. Sautee until the water has evaporated. Add the juice from the tomatoes, and then the tomatoes themselves. If the tomatoes are whole, crush with a fork in the pan. Add salt.

Increase the heat to medium, and let the pot come to a boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne to taste. Simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally until it starts to reduce and thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning to your preference. Add the chickpeas, stirring well and cook for low for another 5 minutes. Add 2 tbsp of water and cook another 5 minutes. Repeat once more, making sure the water is absorbed. This helps to concentrate the flavor and make the chickpeas more tender. Taste again for seasoning.

Turn off the heat. Stir in the cilantro and yogurt. Serve over rice with Raita and lemon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Something New - Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce

Oh, hi there.

It's been awhile. The truth is, I've been cheating on food with furniture. I recently moved into a new apartment, and I'm enjoying laying out my space, decorating, and scouring flea markets looking for those "can't do without them" pieces for my place. It's the first time since college that I've really had some room to spread out. It's quite the upgrade from my previous very tiny studio. I'm loving it. Here's a picture, a work in progress, but it feels like home:

My kitchen feels ridiculously spacious. And I'm thrilled to say that I've actually been cooking a lot, finally! My first week in the new place, I attacked a Chana Masala recipe with absolute gusto. The results were pretty fantastic (recipe forthcoming) but the most amazing thing was to be able to move about in the kitchen space! So different than the 4x5 space I was working with before! I took my time when putting things away in the new place, thinking about where I would stand to chop, where things should be placed to make for economical movement, and ease in preparation when it comes to food. It's made a huge difference in my cooking. Everything just seems so much easier now!

And I finally have a dining room table. My boyfriend and I sat down to breakfast there this weekend, and we remarked that it seemed like it had been such a long time since we'd actually sat down to eat at a dining table in the place we lived. Until now, neither he nor I had had a table, so it's a welcome, adult-like change.

I've now hosted a total of 3 dinner parties in my first month here. Very impressive, if I do say so myself. Tomorrow night will be the 4th, for the Sedar dinner. Something I'm looking forward to celebrating with friends. It feels right to be hosting it at my place, to share stories, partaking in a ritual in this new space, eating, drinking and celebrating together. I feel like there's a lot to be thankful for.

Until last weekend, It had been a long time since I'd been able to hit up my farmer's market. I've had a lot going on on the weekends, but it felt so good to be able to have the time to cook, the time to walk up and down the stands in the sunshine, to have my pick of the best of Spring's arrival.

I picked up a gorgeous flat iron steak from Prather Ranch, and I paired it with an adapted version of a red wine sauce that I'd made once before. Paired with kale and rice, it definitely hit the spot. It's not often that I make a pan sauce to go with a steak, but every time I do, I wonder why I don't do it more. It's such a great pairing, and so easy to do. A no fuss and delicious dinner.

Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce
adapted from Giada De Laurentis

2 small to medium sized flat iron steaks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups dry red wine

Bring the steaks to room temperature. Heat oven to 350. Next, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. Sear on medium high for 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium, flip and sear another 4-5 minutes on the other side. Put the steaks into the pre-heated oven for 2-4 minutes more. Test for desired doneness. When done, remove from the oven, tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the garlic and oregano and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the wine. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and whisk into the sauce to combine. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Serve spooned over steaks, with rice or potatoes on the side.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday in Dry Creek Wine Country

This Sunday we drove to Healdsburg, dog in tow. It was spectacularly sunny and warm, the mustard was in bloom, and our spirits were high. It was also the day when one of our favorites (and Frannie's too!) Preston Vineyards & Winery, fills it's famous Guadagni, red table wine in a jug. Yes, a jug.

They limit the stuff to 1 per person, and 1 jug equals about 4 bottles. A more friendly and drinkable jug wine, you will not find. It's only available on Sundays, and yes, they offer refills. We discovered it by happy accident a few years ago, and now we're hooked. A couple of Sunday's a year, we make the trek to Preston. Such a hardship!

Preston is my favorite Dry Creek winery (just outside of Healdsburg). It's an organic farm as well, which you'll surmise from the farm stand on the front porch, where you can pick up apples, peppers, homemade sauerkraut, pickles, greens and rice, and pay on the honor system in a small basket on the table. There are a few picnic tables in the front yard, a bocce ball court, and a ton of cats running around the farm.

I love their wines, especially the Barbera, Syrah and Madame Preston (a white blend). I highly recommend making a stop there, if you happen to be in the area. And on that note, I need a some recommendations for Dry Creek wine country. Anyone have a favorite up there that I should check out?

We were missing a few partners in crime for this (Fledge, Les, Shem, Whit & Bri, next time!) and I wanted them to know that they were missed.

Dry Creek in Pictures

Frannie loves Healdsburg

Frannie loves the car (and Lauren)

Frannie loves open windows

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thoughts on a Monday

I think it's time for some posts that are not food-related (though it tends to weasel it's way in) and this is what I'm thinking today:

1. I resolved not to buy a rice krispie treat one or more times a week from the cafeteria at work. 1 week + 1 day with 0 rice krispie treats and counting! So far, resolution has been very successful. I have willpower.

2. Saturdays in Dolores Park with friends +sun + picnic things are glorious. Even better when topped off with burgers at Benders and a dance party at Brian's.

3. Sundays in Healdsburg with the girls are wonderful. Sun + wine + vineyards full of mustard + Frannie = Heaven.

4.Sunny weekends in general are the best.

5.Brian took the picture above at our dinner at Pizzaiolo last week. I like it.

6.Feeling blue on Friday night, but Boyfriend took me to a movie, turned on a shower for me so that the water was hot by the time I got in it, and poured me a glass of wine when I got out. Then he watched an hour of very bad TV with me without complaining once, just because I wanted to. He is thoughtful. And the best.

7.I am addicted to this song:

8. And lastly, this is a picture of my Best Friend Forever from my Birthday weekend/NYE. I heart it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Plum in Oakland

It's been a long time since I've blogged about a restaurant, and that's not to imply that I haven't had some great meals as of late, I have, but it's been a long time since I've had one as memorable as the one we had yesterday evening at Plum in Oakland.

I'd been looking forward to going to Plum since it opened in early October. Now that I've been, I can't believe I even waited that long. I'm kicking myself for not taking a copy of the menu, but from memory, here's what we had:

Chickpea Fritters with Wild Green Panisse & Housemade Yogurt (Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, a great combination of spice and then the cool tang of the yogurt)

Leeks Vinaigrette with Radish, Fresh Goat Cheese, Ash & Cress (Interesting combination, I know the ash sounds a bit strange, but it was hardly detectable)

Young Carrots with Breadcrumbs, Pickled Garlic and Wood Sorrel in Brown Butter (Carrots should always be served this way, tender and soaked in brown butter with crispy, crunchy breadcrumbs to compliment. Wonderful)

Parsnip & Grilled Pear Soup (the standout of the evening. Winter in a bowl.)

Some Sort of Steak with Roasted Potatoes (it was amazing, but I can't remember the details on this one. Suffice it to say that it was gone in about 2 minutes flat.)

Cheesecake in Jar with Poached Quince & Persimmon (Whimsical, creamy, tangy, sweet and smooth. Everything a dessert should be, with a great sense of fun.)

I have a food blog, so it's safe to say that I'm pretty nuts on the subject. I remember a good meal or a particular dish as though it's a momentous occasion in my life. I never forget the name of a restaurant I liked (that tends to run in the family) and I've been known to go so far as to tear up in joy when confronted with a plate, or bowl of something that really blows me away. It's the same feeling when you come across a really great book, or see a movie or play that will stay with you forever. I love when this happens. It happens less often than I'd like, but it happened last night with the Parsnip & Roasted Pear Soup, which was like velvet, cream and the taste of winter all in one bowl.

If I were ever able to make a soup like that one, I could consider myself extremely accomplished. It would be the equivalent of a PhD in soup making.

The new Chef at Plum is Charlie Parker, who used to work for The Cellar Door Cafe at Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz (I love that winery, but haven't been to the cafe yet). He's good at what he does, to say the least. He got two people who are fairly indifferent to carrots to suddenly take an extreme interest.

I highly recommend Plum. It's not cheap, but it's a great space for a inventive and delicious meal. Oakland scores another winner. I'm finding less and less reason to eat in San Francisco with such stellar competition rising in the East Bay.

Monday, January 10, 2011

30 - Chanterelles with White Wine, Butter & Parsley

Oh my.

What can I say? I don't have much by way of an excuse. Life, I guess. A pretty wonderful one at that.

I realize it's been about a month and a half since I've posted anything. In that time I've been a bit busy, let's run down the list, shall we?
  • I started a new job, one that (so far) I absolutely love. It's brought about my first real morning commute, which strangely enough, I don't mind. There's actually something sort of enjoyable about joining the masses on BART with my coffee and a good book. Half an hour to read and mentally prepare for the day ahead.
  • 3 weeks after I started said new job, I went on vacation for the holidays. I went home to Oregon, where I helped my sister prepare Christmas for her girls. I monitored Santa's progress on Norad with my 2 year old Niece, who was a bit torn by the idea of Santa. She liked the presents aspect, she didn't enjoy the idea of a strange, jolly, fat man coming sneaking into her house in the middle of the night. Smart kid, if you ask me.
  • I drove with my family to my hometown of Redding, CA. It's strange to go back to the place I spent my first 18 years, it feels like another life entirely. I enjoyed a pre-birthday dinner with my family and my best friend of 25 years, and spent the first hours of being 30 in Redding. Full circle you could say.
  • From there, we went to my favorite place on earth, Sea Ranch, CA, where we rented a beach house with many of my closest friends to celebrate 30 years, each other, and New Year's. So much to cover on this topic. Pictures will come soon, but suffice it to say for now, that I feel so very lucky for my family, my friends, and for all that I've been given. I never could have imagined feeling this good about turning 30. For one of the first times in my life, I can truly say that I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I can't tell you how wonderful that feels.
And now it's back to work, and that's not half bad. Although I did pick up the flu the day after vacation ended, Oh well. I'm recovering, and I'd say it was a fair price to pay.

So actually, I have been cooking a bit. The slow cooker has been a huge help, and a lot of what I've been up to has included old staples: Bolognese Sauce, Chickpeas with Spinach and Chorizo, Roasted Chicken and Kale Salad. There hasn't been a whole lot of experimentation going on.

But it's the perfect time for Chanterelles....butter, white wine and don't need much else. Good quality chanterelles tend to stand on their own merit. This is a dish my Sisters and I make every Thanksgiving. And it's one I like to make as long as these babies are in season. Enjoy!

Chanterelles with White Wine, Butter & Parsley

1 tbsp butter
1/2 lb chanterelles, stems and tops sliced into good sized chunks
1/4 cup dry white wine
a generous pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat a large saute pan over medium. Add butter, once butter is melted, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms will start to release their liquid, that's normal. Add the white wine, and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 3 more minutes or so, the mushrooms should be tender, but still slightly firm. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot.