Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Giada's recipes

Giada at Home had some really great sounding recipes lately, so I did a Giada-fest last week, to rave reviews.
Grilled asparagus with canteloupe and mozzerella in a lemon vinaigrette with toasted pine nuts and crispy prosciutto. Excellent!

My favorite: fusilli with spicy pesto: spinach, arugula, walnuts and jalapeno. Tasted wonderful and a nice change from the usual basil pesto.

Fregola and mint citrus salad. I cut back the mint which was a wise move. Liked it a lot but I'm not a big fregola fan. Next time, I will use Israeli couscous or orzo. But it was really tasty to mix orange and grapefruit in this summery salad.
Thanks, Giada!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Monday

Towards the end of town, there it is on Monday night.
Beets and greens in a lovely vinaigrette. The bacon was crumbled into teeny bits, which made it more delicious in my opinion, as it flavored but didn't dominate the fresh vegetables.

Chive buttermilk biscuits and the guest of honor. Not shown: ratatouille and sausage gravy.

Too full to do much with this: fresh cashews, goat milk gouda and pear jam which tasted for all the world like apricot jam to me.

Chocolate cake with a chocolate nib thingy. The orange sorbet was sublime and was shaped into an orange (hard to see here)

Piggy, yes I was.

Oh my, how lucky we were to get reservations for one of those Thomas Keller fried chicken Monday's. I'm not a real fried food fan but this was definitely the best I've ever had--and lots of it. And the rest was quite excellent too!

I love Napa- photos only!

Ubuntu, my favorite this trip!

Ubuntu is unique. It is a creative, delicious and lovely vegetarian restaurant in Napa which owns a Michelin star. It was delectable and my favorite this trip to the Napa Valley, which is saying something! The waitstaff was charming and very helpful and the food was on another astral plane. This is not the raw kale salad from Whole Foods! The amuse was a fresh, perfectly grilled ramp floating on lime creme fraiche with a sprinkling of hot pepper. What an amuse!

Everything is small plates and between two of us we had four, more than enough and dessert. First we had:
BASIL BUD marinated beets and ‘udumalapet’ EGGPLANT
WAX BEAN vinaigrette, spicy PICKLES, NASTURTIUM panade, ‘poha’ BERRIES.

A really unique/cute/cool/gimicky thing at Ubuntu is they serve the food on the bottom side of the bowl or plate.

Next was undoubtedly our favorite:

rustic rancho gordo ‘yellow eye’ bean stew
ROSEMARY, CHILI, smoked ‘red russian’ KALE . The taste of the kale smoked was like nothing else. We added an Ubuntu farm egg on the top for good measure. The rosemary lent an almost curry-like quality to this stew which was delectable and filling.

Next, another winner:

garden inspired extruded pasta: SPICED fiore, confit ‘gajo de melon’
melted TOMATO, assorted BASILS, ‘midnight moon’ goat’s milk gouda. Could you imagine this combo would be so tasty? The pasta was delicate and home-made and the shavings of goat gouda was out of this world. Also, very filling and warming.

Finishing up the mains with:

“inside out” grits, oven dried ripened and fried green TOMATOES
goat’s milk ricotta, HONG VIT, smoked corn husk. Those peppers looked scarey like a jalapeno/serrano thing but were just flavorful peppers with no spicy bite. Their smoky taste was a nice offset to the creamy, rich grits.

I do not leave without dessert and voila: coconut sorbet float, lemongrass soda
passion fruit tapioca, lime granita, CILANTRO. This was so full of zesty, alive flavors with the fuzzy fizz from the lemongrass soda and the nip from cilantro micro-greens. Refreshing and cool and the perfect ending. Something I would love to have everyday.

Please, please, please Ubuntu, come to my town soon!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Tartines are just a french way of saying "openfaced sandwich".
They are made on a large slice of toasted hearty bread and usually have something warm and melty on in. Ina Garten has some great ideas: try the eggsalad smoked salmon one for starters. This was my tartine in a cafe in Avignon: melted mozzerella with tomatoes, olives and anchovies with a light salad. A perfect lunch.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bouillabaisse...is it all that?

Ok, so the origin of classic bouillabaisse is in Marseille and when I saw Bourdain eating it on his show I said "hey what the hell is that dark stuff? but it does look savory".

My first BB was in St. Pete FL and it was exquisite if not authentic. A lovely smooth broth, lightly perfumed with saffron and Pernod and the essence of fennel with the finest of seafoods. But hey, I am happy to try the original when in France. And I know it is supposed to be dense and intense but I am up for trying the original when I loved my Americanized version. But when Michel (Dana's French bf) said in a pseudo-warning tone: You know, in Provence, BB means the soup for the rest of the fish...you know, the fish that cannot be served otherwise" well, I just latched onto that. Hell, I like uni and how could this not be great. Then he warned that in France the service of this dish is not as we'd expect. You get the broth and some crusty, toasted bread slices and some parmesan (now the stuff we were served is as pictured...not exactly looking so freshly grated) and some rouille which is basically mayonaisse spiked with some paprika. And ours was not really looking so "from scratch". Yet here we were on Cassis and right at the shore and all that... Worst, you get the broth and bread first and then after a bit (a very long bit) you get the fish (the lesser stuff) and the bread to throw into this now much cooled broth.

So yeah. The fish was ok. I was spoiled by my St. Pete experience but this fish was just fine and fresh. But that broth. Yes, it looked totally like Bourdain's but the taste was bracing. It felt very spicy, in a dirty kind of way. And the overwhelming sense I had from this brownish, grainy broth was allspice/clove and tumeric. No, that did not taste like it had a ton of saffron...in fact, not too much saffron at all. It had the bite of tumeric.

So, being a mainly vegetarian in my heart, I weeded out the lovely potatoes, dipped some bread into it and had a couple pieces of fish but.....sorry, I know this violates what is "real" but I loved my BB in St. Pete and my BB in the south of France will never be ordered by me again. So I am just going to admit: I do not like authentic bouillabaisse. I prefer the Americanized version or the American cioppino for my fish stews.

Of course, my husband thought it was great......

Monday, August 9, 2010

Croque Madame

The French love sandwiches with ham and cheese. We grew to love the Croque Monsieur (a glorified grilled ham and cheese sandwich--sometimes just a grilled ham and cheese depending on the cafe). I, however, love the Croque Madame--which is the Monsieur with a fried egg on top. A sandwich for dinner? Well, it's a delicious and filling sandwich and with a small salad and a glass or two of rose? That is a delicious French meal!
Please see Ina Garten (my hero!) for a great recipe:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

French yogurt and red fruit

There were so many things I loved about France, of course, the food.

I also loved how they would serve "red fruit" with yogurt, dessert or anything. Red fruit at Pigonnet meant: strawberries, raspberries and cherries. The French love cherries. And sometimes there are plums in "red fruit".
The French also make delicious homemade yogurt in little glass jars for breakfast.

So I decided to do some homemade French type breakfast treats. Pictured at the top: homemade plain yogurt with organic milk topped with "red fruits".
Red fruits: raspberries, strawberries and pitted sour cherries simmered with some sugar and lemon juice. Delicious! One night we had a light sweet custard topped with red fruit and streusel. There are many possibilities with red fruit and it really just makes itself!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rick Bayless is all that

Saw Rick's KPBS show and did the tacos al pastor tonight to major acolades. Too freakin lazy to take pics and I regret it but that was a lovely easy meal. With leftovers. So here is a pic from the web that does not show my lovely grilled red onions, pineapples and homemade salsa verde.
Damn my laziness!
I will try to post more consistently now.

Viva el rey!