Friday, December 31, 2010

Wine Braised Short Ribs served over Minted Pea Puree

Wine Braised Short Ribs:
8 Bone-in short ribs.
1/2 cup flour along with 1Tsp salt and 1 Tsp pepper in lg Ziploc bag.
olive oil.
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
3 ribs celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic.
1 cup tomato paste.
3-4 cups hearty red wine.
2 cup roughly sliced Shitake mushrooms.
beef broth to cover.
1 lg bunch thyme tied with kitchen string.
2 bay leaves.

Dredge the short rips in the flour and salt and pepper mixture in the Ziploc. knock off any extra flour. Coat lg heavy pot, preferably a dutch oven, with olive oil and bring to high heat. Add short ribs to pan in batches and brown well. Pre heat oven to 325.
While short ribs are browning puree all the vegetables in a food processor until it forms a coarse paste. Remove the short ribs from pan and drain off fat. Coat the same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crust is formed on the bottom of the pan. Scrape the crust and let it reform. Scrap the crust again and add the tomato paste. Brown the paste for another 5 mins. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan removing all the fond that was formed. Lower the heat and add the mushrooms . Reduce by half. Return the short ribs to the pan and just cover with the beef broth Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover pan and and place in over for 3 hours or more. Check periodically add more stock if needed.

For the Pea Puree:
1 bag lg frozen peas.
1/3 c chopped mint leaves.
3 Tbs half and half.
1 pat butter.
salt and pepper to taste.
2 tbs grated Parmesan (optional)
serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
Blanch peas in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Puree peas and mint in food processor. Add half and half, butter pulse a few more times. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It is hard to believe that 2010 is coming to a close. This has been an extremely difficult year for me and The Screen Porch has been my diversion. Meeting so many different people and developing a lot of new skills has kept me busy and productive as well as helping me to remain present. I am looking forward to many new and creative ideas to share with you in 2011.

I wanted to end the year with an amazing comfort dish that is a family favorite that seems to pop up right about now year after year. It is rustic, earthy and full of flavor...It warms the soul.
Here's to a creative and affirming year that we can all be proud of.
Once considered peasant food this short rib recipe epitomises slow food. Allowing you to take your time with an inexpensive cut of meat and turn it into something remarkable. Cooked "low and slow" and left relatively unattended this meal has another wonderful benefit of filling the house with it's seductive aromas.

The trick to these short ribs is to spend the time while you are cooking the vegetable puree to really allow that crust and fond to develop on the bottom of the pan. This adds a depth of flavor that you can not get by any other means.

I rely on the fresh mint and sweet pea puree to cut the richness of the meat. I always serve with creamy mashed potatoes to accompany that succulent wine infused sauce. Serve with a hearty glass of red wine and a peppery arugula salad.


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Screen Porch goes Down Under

TheScreenPorch is featured on
(click on the picture to view the recipe larger)
One of my favorite and I think most innovative blogger has just produced an incredibly creative Christmas blog. Set up magazine style. It is full of great food, artisans, great photos, fabulous people and recipes. I am thrilled that Katie chose to include one of my recipes. How excited am I to see her beautiful photo of one of my dishes!!!
Congrats to Katie for her amazingly creative BONANZA of a post. I have been a fan of Katie since she started her blog and she is an inspiration to me. It is a great Christmas gift to see my recipe in print so to speak. Visit her site it is a feast for the eyes. Truly gorgeous and unique.

Happy Holidays to all and I will be back in full force after the festivities are over.

Bon Noel!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marinated Cracked Dungeness Crab

Marinated Cracked Dungeness Crab:
3 crab cracked and cleaned rinsed well.
3/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 lg red onion thinly sliced.
6 cloves garlic chopped.
2 Tbs fresh parsley chopped.
1 Tbs fresh oregano chopped.
2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar.
2 lg lemons halved and juiced.
Pinch of crushed red pepper.
In a lg saute pan add olive oil, onions, garlic and warm on very low heat. Warm through for 5 minutes making sure not to brown at all . Add the chopped herbs , vinegar and lemon juice warm through. Place the crab in a large bowl and pour the heated mixture over the crab. Add the lemon halves and cover to refrigerate for at least an hour turning to cover occasionally.
November 15th is the opening day for Dungeness Crab and every year my family eagerly awaits the start of the season. The first of the crabs are always a little sweeter and larger in size. This is when we love to get them right off the docks and serve them simply with drawn butter.
The first crabs mark the holiday season, as surely as the first snowfall in Vermont. It is the quintessential San Fransisco meal, served with a warm loaf of sourdough bread and a bottle of great Chardonnay with family and friends or for a romantic meal for two. I would have to say cracked crab is a Thanksgiving tradition for many.
As the crab season moves forward you can find previously frozen crab in the markets and this is the way I like to serve it. Typically it is not as sweet as fresh off the boat but it is just as yummy in a unique way all it's on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pommes Dauphinois:French Fridays with Dorie

Pommes Dauphonois: Week Seven

Dorie's pick for week seven was Pommes Dauphonois, which is a traditional meal of the French Alps. Hummmm... let's see...Chamonix, Mont Blanc, Lake Geneva, alpine meadows and JOHN CLAUDE KEELY Oh but I digress. Back to Pommes Dauphonois. ( I love to write that)

I've never met a potato I didn't like. In fact, I could eat them any way they are prepared. I truly think my husband could live on them and nothing else (sans a steak). This classic recipe is more custardy than cheesy. In fact you can't really call it Pommes Dauphonois if there is cheese inside then it would just be considered plain ol' scalloped potatoes. Really not as romantic as Pommes Dauphonois which only has a cheesy crust on the top. You know gratin signifies the upper crust in Paris. So not only romantic but chic.

This dish is an all around comfort dish. Not time consuming and is worth every minute. To save time use a mandolin or a food processor to slice the potatoes. This calls for the classic French herbs but changes are easy: different herbs, different kinds of potatoes (think Yellow Finns or Purple Vikings) you could add bacon, speck or ham. The list is endless but I prefer the classic. Often considered a special occasion dish it is easy enough for everyday meals.

Like all the Friday posts I can not post the recipe but you will find it in Dorie Greenspan's Around my French table.

This is great for a cozy dinner for two or a holiday crowd. Rich and custardy inside. The nutty flavor of Gruyere crisp and bubbly on the top. The aroma of the herbes de provence filling the kitchen.
Bon Appetit!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crispy Brussel Sprout Leaf Salad with a White Balsamic Honey Reduction Walnut Dust and Chevre

20 -25 brussel sprouts cored and separated into leaves
2 Tbs olive oil
good sprinkle garlic salt
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs honey
pinch crushed red pepper
2 Tbs walnuts chopped extra fine, lightly toasted
3/4 cup soft good goat cheese
Preheat oven 350
Core the brussel sprouts, separate into leaves. Place in bowl and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Place on baking sheet. Roast for 20 mins. checking often until crisp and lightly browned. Meanwhile, reduce vinegar by half in small sauce pan. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper and the honey. Place small amount of reduction on plate. Mound brussel sprout leaves sprinkle with the walnut dust and place a dollop of goat cheese on the side. Serves 4

The birth of a recipe is so inspiring to me. It usually comes from either necessity, you know that saying, "necessity is the mother of all invention" or from memories of places or tastes. Have you ever created a dish that you get so excited about that you want to share it with everyone!? Well...this is one of those.
One of the holidays I really love is Thanksgiving. (Hello... it's a food holiday.) So I'm always trying to figure out something a little different to go along with the traditional.

A lot of people have a problem with these little green globes called Brussel Sprouts. This might be the dish to convert them. In this recipe you separate the sprouts into petals and turn them into a crispy addictive crunchy salad.

This dish looks so elegant on the plate it is great for the holidays or for that company WOW factor. The white balsamic honey reduction has just a hint of crushed red pepper to give it a little kick and a sweetness that works well with the nutty,crispy flavor of the leaves. The tang of the goat cheese and the slight crunch of the walnut balances the dish to perfection.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux:French Fridays with Dorie

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux: Week Six

I guess I could be considered a lazy girl when it comes to one pot meals. Not only are they easy to put together but the clean up is an added benefit. This was Dorie's pick for week six with our group French Fridays with Dorie so unfortunately I can not post the recipe. It is fairly self explanatory if you look at the picture...
I guess I could say I have made a rendition of this recipe probably once a month for as long as I can remember... but there is one sneaky little secret with this recipe that was new to me. You lay slices of dense baguette in the pan under the chicken which after cooking come out crispy and rich from all the juices and gravy from the bird. I have to say I like these as much as I like the skin of my Thanksgiving turkey ( and that is saying a lot!!). Those little gems are worth lining up for.
I added plenty of veggies and white wine to the pot, tucked some sage leaves under the skin and we were good to go. The chicken was moist and fabulous. The skin was crispy. The vegetables very tasty. All in all a great meal for a busy Saturday. Makes the house smell luscious when you return from a day of play or come in from a long day of working in the yard.
Mon Dieu !!!This was good.
You have to love those lazy Frenchies.. I guess I can say that because I'm one of them.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter Kale Salad with Cranberries, Pastashio and Parmesan

1 bunch Cavolo Nero stems removed and rinsed well
2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs honey
2-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
splash white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbs toasted pistachios roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

arrange the kale leaves in small piles roll into tight cigar shape and cut into 1/4 inch ribbons repeat with remaining leaves. In large bowl, toss kale with all ingredients except the Parmesan, let stand at room temp for 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper. Serve with the Parmesan shaved over the top.

Kale goes by another name... One that is much more sexy and interesting...Cavolo Nero. In fact, it is the only kale grown in Italy. Much more tender than regular kale. It's flavor is sweet and nutty with a hint of pepper. One of it's best qualities is that it will not wilt when dressed which makes it very versatile for entertaining.

This Dan Barber of, Blue Hill at The Stone Barns, inspired winter salad is the ultimate way to glorify this green and bring out it's earthy flavor. The peppery nuttiness of the kale, the tart sweetness of the cranberries, the rich, nutty and slightly sweet taste and texture of the pistachios and finally the saltiness of the Parmesan... all dressed in a subtly fragrant and balanced vinaigrette.Makes this a truly amazing addition to your salad repertoire. We enjoyed this with Salmon grilled to perfection, great wine and amazing company on a rainy evening. We had a wonderful time and couldn't stop talking about this salad. The surprise for all of us was the tenderness of the kale and that there was not even a tad bit of bitterness to this raw salad.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flan: French Fridays with Dorie

Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flan: Week Six

It's another French Fridays with Dorie post. This months choices feel very seasonal and this one in particular is a great technique to add to you repertoire. The custard of this flan can be flavored with so many things. You have only your own creativity to hold you back or should I say propel you forward. Once you have the basic flan recipe and technique you can use all sorts of different vegetables and flavorings depending on your mood or season. Flans can be served with sauces, vinaigrette's, or broths. Sweet or savory. I had a beautifully done savory flan at my all time favorite restaurant in New York that was floated in an amazing broth. Think of a Gnatron, which is a French flan from Lyon baked in edible leaf-lined ramekins. It has to be one of the most elegant dishes I've ever seen. The ideas are endless.

Dorie chose a fabulous savory flan and a very Thanksgiving-esque recipe it was...always a popular starter in Europe it is a great addition to any meal. I played around with the recipe a bit. I roasted a sweet sugar-pie pumpkin with some garlic cloves and added some fresh thyme to the custard along with one of the roasted garlic cloves. Served with a dollop of sour cream. DELISH!! The Gorgonzola and the walnuts paired wonderfully with grilled lamb chops and a wonderful Syrah from the Napa Valley.

Another hit from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. I think this will be on my Thanksgiving table served on top of a Pomegranate coulis. Bon appetit!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Grilled Lamb Chops with a Walnut Mint Pesto

There is something about a warm fall evening and grilling a seasonal meat that makes me feel very connected to my food. By that I mean, I think about where it comes from. Can my source reassure me that it was fed appropriate safe foods. Does the producer treat their animals well while they are alive. If we feel that connection we will always want to do it justice and respect what went into its production.

Lamb is the meat I feel is most flattered by the barbecue. The powerful slightly gamey taste combines beautifully with the wood or charcoal smoke. I also think lamb shines with aromatics because the taste is so earthy. The herbaceousness adds a brightness that it needs. I usually make a pesto of garlic, parsley, rosemary and mint with a nut, either pine or walnut, and olive oil. Most of our friends that say they don't like Lamb only have to eat it at our house once to recant that statement...

We enjoyed this with a pumpkin and Gorgonzola flan and an amazing finish for our Giants to take the World Series.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake: French Fridays with Dorie

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake: Week Five

Apples are a fall orchards bounty. Having an apple tree myself, I'm always looking for a new recipe or idea to try. This weeks choice for French Fridays with Dorie gives us a very moist, rum spiked beauty.
Apples are one of the most ancient of fruits. Having been around for over 750,000 years, they are linked to luxury, love and sexuality. Gotta love it...You can't really go wrong with that.
This cake was unbelievably moist and very flavorful. It uses such simple ingredients that we all have in our cupboard. ( Yes, I had the rum!!) You can whip it together in no time on a cool Autumn day. Which makes it nice for company. All you need is a whisk and a bowl.

Even better the next day. My husband made French toast out of this the next morning. Dredged in egg and lightly cooked until golden crisp in butter. Served with thick sliced bacon and maple syrup. Delicious!!! I have to say I liked this even better than the cake. Of course, I was eating it with bacon, so what can I say.

Each season brings it's unique array of edible delights and aromas... The smell of apples and cinnamon wafts through the house. This cake screams fall.
Like all of the Friday posts I won't be sharing recipe's. I encourage you to pick up Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook Around my French Table.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gazpacho Salad with Candies tomatoes

Candied tomatoes:

1pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup water
1 Tbs kosher salt
1Tbs crushed red pepper
31/2 piece baguette cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic pressed
1/4 lb haricot verts
1 English cucumber seeded and sliced
3 scallions chopped with some of the green
1 Tbs sherry vinegar
1Tbs olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

To candy the tomatoes: Bring saucepan full of salted water to boil. Prepare a ice bath and set near stove. Blanch the beans until just tender 2-3 minutes. put in ice bath. Remove and place on towel to dry. Blanch tomatoes until skin bursts quickly remove to ice bath. peal and set aside in glass bowl. Discard water. In same saucepan simmer water, sugar,salt pepper until salt and sugar dissolves.simmer 5 minutes. Stain sauce over the tomatoes and let sit 40 minutes. Prepare croutons- cut baguette into 1/2 inch cubes place in bowl and drizzle with olive oil and pressed garlic stir to cover. Place on baking sheet and bake 325 until golden brown. In medium bowl toss tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, scallions, vinegar and olive oil. Salt and cracked pepper to taste.

I had this salad on one of the San Juan Islands one summer and loved it. It was a beautiful warm day on the water and this was the perfect refreshing salad to share with good company a great Pinot Grigio. There are many ways to make this. Just think what goes into the famous Spanish cold soup and deconstruct it. This recipe which was adapted from Andy Nusser's recipe in Food and Wine years ago has these amazing candied tomatoes that I love. They have this kind of sweet hot taste that adds so much to this very simple salad. If your a bit more hungry add some shrimp or chicken and it becomes a great meal. Certain foods can really evoke memories of wonderful places and people and every time I make this I want to be back on those beautiful islands watching the orcas and imagining what life would be to live there... One day......


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hachis Parmentier-week Three French Fridays with Dorie

Hachis Parmentier with Balsamic Braised Beef-Week Three

This week for French Fridays with Dorie she choose Hachis Parmentier the quintessential date dish. It is a meal my husband adores. Most men if they had their druthers would have a steak and a potato every night. Or for that matter, in my house, I would have to include my daughter who is a self proclaimed carnivore. This dish is the pinnacle of the concept of meat and potatoes. What Daniel Boulud chooses to cook at home for himself. Hellllllo I think I'll try it!!!

I chose to use a recipe of my own for the beef segment of this dish . The piquant and hearty flavor adds so much to the meal.

Balsamic Braised Beef:
1 3 lb chuck cut into bite sizes cubes

flour for dredging
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar diluted in 1 1/2 cup water
2 yellow onions sliced
4 shallots sliced
1/4 cup pitted dates chopped
Season beef with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. In large dutch oven add olive oil and cook beef in batches until browned. Reserve in a bowl. Add 1/2 vinegar and water solution and scrape fond from bottom of pan . Add the rest of the liquid along with the remaining ingredients. Stir. Place in 325 oven for 2-3 ts. hours stirring every half hour.

Serve this with a nice full bodied red wine and a crisp green salad to cut the richness and you are set.


Chicken Pot Pie with Herb-Infused Crust

Ingredients: Filling
1 chicken cut into small pieces
2 yellow onions chopped
1 cup each butternut, sweet potato, carrot,Yukon gold potato cubed 1/2 inch
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup butter
1cup each celery and brown mushrooms chopped
1/2 cup flour
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp thyme, sage, marjoram or 1 Tbs Bells seasoning
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter cut 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cream cheese
1 Tbs. julienned sage
1tsp chopped thyme
1/4 cup cream

Comfort food...We all need it. We all want it...and then there are times that we need it more than others. There is something about a pot pie that remains, to this day, evocative of homemade comfort food. Wonderful especially on a cold fall or winter day or when we are feeling blue.
I think we have already established how I feel about comfort foods. I love them and I think this familiar blend of poultry, vegetables and pastry is a part of American culture.

The crust recipe comes from Four and Twenty Blackbirds a great pie shop in Brooklyn. It gives these pies such a rich crumbly crust that you can incorporate any fresh herbs that you like. I prefer sage and thyme with this. Such a great topper for the flavorful filling of a variety of sweet and savory roasted veggies all in a velvety filling. You really want a crust that you can crack into and this one is it. A simple impressive dish that can be prepared ahead.

Preheat oven to 425
Toss vegetables in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn out onto baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes. Turning midway. Prepare crusts by placing flour and salt in food processor. Cut the very cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Add butter first then the cream cheese and herbs pulse to small peas. Add enough cream to bring the dough together. Roll out on floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into circles about 1/2 inch larger than your ramekins. Bake at 375 until very lightly browned Set aside.

Melt butter in skillet. Saute onions, celery and mushrooms until slightly browned. Add your herbs or 1 Tbs of Bells seasoning. Add flour and cook for several minutes. Add the chicken stock one cup at a time stirring until smooth and you reach your desired consistency. Check your seasoning add salt and cracked black pepper as needed. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

Add chicken and roasted vegetables mix together. Put mixture into the ramekins. You can stop at this point and wait to finsh. Bake the filled ramikins at 375 until edges are bubbling. Place the crust on the top. Brush with an egg wash. Bake until golden brown.

You can make these with homemade chicken stock and roasted chicken or canned chicken stock and a rotisserie chicken from you local market. The effort it takes to have the mise en place makes up for the do ahead that this meal provides.
In the winter season we look for something to ground us in our lives. Food can have that effect. Those seasonal aromas tether us to the earth in a very real way. Enjoy this meal with a nice warm fire and good friends and feel how wonderful the home hearth is.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup: French Fridays with Dorie

Spicy Vietnamese Soup: Week Three

In this weeks recipe I served the noodles the Vietnamese way, in the serving bowls not in the soup, or they become soggy. The same holds true for any crunchy add ins like bean sprouts etc.

Tip for carnivores: I crisped up the chicken skins in the oven and cracked a few pieces for each bowl as a garnish. OMG sooo good!!! IS CRISPY CHICKEN THE NEW BACON!?! Momofuku's David Chang thinks so.

No matter where you live food has the power to transport you. This week I took a trip to Vietnam with Dorie's wonderful soup recipe. It brings back memories of that fresh and distinctive cuisine that I don't get to experience all that often. I do have a few favorite Vietnamese restaurants that I try to get to when I can: in Seattle in San Fransisco and in Oakland. All three of these restaurants marry traditional Vietnamese cuisine with pacific northwest innovation and are fabulous.

This soup gives us an opportunity to broaden our food horizons. Fresh and lively it has many of the ingredients that symbolize Vietnamese food: coconut milk, chili's, fish sauce, ginger. I love that there is a certain authenticity and purity to this dish. It was so flavorful. When I first used fish sauce I was scared to death. I thought there is no way I would like it. But it is like anchovies in sauces, it melts into the dish and adds a certain depth that you just can't get without it. Be brave. Neither one tastes like fish in the end.

I love to cook from Andrea Nguyen's book: Into the Vietnamese kitchen from Tenspeed press. It gave me more confidence to use ingredients that I was not familiar with and in doing so I've been able to explore a way of cooking that I would never have tried.

As with all of my Friday posts I will feature a Dorie Greenspan recipe for our group French Fridays with Dorie. The recipe will not be shown but I encourage anyone who enjoys these Friday posts to pick up Dorie's newest cookbook: Around my French Table or for that matter join the group and cook along.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Walnut Chicken Orzo Salad with Cranberries and Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cups orzo
4 cups chicken stock
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast, grilled and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup walnuts roughly chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tbs Balsamic vinegar
Lots of cracked pepper
Salt to taste
Season Chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Grill. Cut into bite sized pieces and reserve. Bring chicken stock to boil, add orzo and cook to package directions. Drain. In large bowl add orzo, chicken,walnuts, cranberries and stir. Whisk oil and vinegar together and add to salad. Add cracked pepper and salt to taste. Is best with a lot of pepper. serve either warm or cold.

Like most of my favorite recipes this one is really easy to put together. It tastes good the day you make it but it is even better the next day. I personally think orzo gets a bad rap. People tend to think of it as a little old school. But I like to use it as a base for salads. I think if it is cooked in chicken stock it has a certain richness that you can't get from rice. I like to add things that make it feel less like a pasta and more like grain. Just make sure not to over cook so it has some bite left.

This salad has a certain holiday feel to it with the walnuts and the dried cranberries. With fall in the air I'm beginning want to make all those favorite recipes that remind me of family get togethers and the cool weather. The balsamic in this salad adds some depth and the pepper gives it the spice it needs to stand up to the sweetness of the cranberries. It is one of my go to salads that packs well for lunch or a party. I hope you enjoy this one it is one of my families favorites.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gerard's Mustard Tart-French Fridays with Dorie

Gerard's French Tart-Week Two

David Lebovitz would say in France tarts are not considered special occasion fare. Nor are they in my home. I have to say I do make a lot of tarts and quiches... but I always cheat and use a store bought crust. It does make for quick work in preparing dinner.

But for French Fridays, I of course, made my own crust. Ha Ha!!! Flour and butter everywhere. The counter, the floor, possibly even the ceiling. I had to break out the Dustbuster. It was lol funny. I looked like a mad scientist, making this easy spot of dough. Lordy!!!

I took Dories advice (obviously I don't bake) to make the dough ahead of time and freeze the tart in the tart pan so I could just pull it out and cook...That I can do. I know that the French view entertaining as a joy not a chore and freezing the dough really helped with my attitude. In fact I made two batches. One for next time.

At first glance this tart reminds me of a sunflower or a bicycle all gussied up for a parade. It's not only a feast for the eyes but also a celebration for the palette.
Okay, I'm a convert. I will never and I say NEVER buy store bought crust again. The crust was so flaky and buttery. The tart was light. There was a little kick from the mustard and the lovely veggies that had sunk to the bottom filled the entire tart with the soft flavor of the leeks and carrots. Truly a wonderful recipe. Thanks Dorie and Gerard. I wish I could visit Gerard and Sylvie's Bed and Breakfast. But I can dream...

I can imagine all the sweet and savory tarts lined up in the patisserie windows in France. How beautiful and festive they all would look...and somehow it makes me want to slow down.

You know the French...they have the art of enjoying friends, family and the present down to a skill. My mother was French and Boy could she ever enjoy life. She took the time to savor it All.

La Joie de Vivre is something I will need to perfect in this lifetime.

I encourage anyone who is enjoying the Friday recipes to purchase Dorie Greenspan's newest cookbook Around my French Table.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Tortilla Soup

For broth:
10 cups chicken stock
3 bone in chicken breasts fat removed
1/2 lg Spanish onion
3 cloves garlic smashed
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 Tbs Mexican oregano
For Sofrito:
1 chipoltle chili
1/2 Spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
2 lg tomatoes
1 jalapeno
1 tsp adobo sauce
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
1 pkg corn tortillas cut into strips
1 tbs olive oil
It was a little cloudy today and thunderstorms are in the forecast. So, hurray!! I made my first soup of the season. I love soups. They are the ultimate comfort food. It makes me want to curl up with a good book. Few aromas spark an appetite like that of a simmering soup. It's a wonderful soul warming food filled with wholesome fresh ingredients. I think one of the real pleasures of a tortilla soup come from the garnishes. It's a very interactive experience for your. friends and family. The creaminess of the avocados, the crunch of the tortilla strips and the gooey tang of the cheese.

This soup starts with a Sofrito. Which is a combination of aromatic ingredients that have been cut or pureed and then slowly cooked in oil for at least a half an hour. There are many cultures that have their own sofritos: French has mirepoix. The Holy trinity in creole. Refogado in Portuguese. Soffritto in Italian. It is a classic base for lots of savory dishes. Soups, stews and gravy's.


Add stock,onion garlic,cilantro,oregano and chicken breasts to large stock pot. Bring to boil and turn immediately down to low..simmer for 30-45 min until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken. Shred chicken and strain stock and reserve. Using 2 forks to shred the chicken is a great trick I learned from a girlfriend that makes a lot of tamales. God forbid you have chunks of chicken in this soup it has to be shredded.
In the food processor add sofrito ingredients except olive oil and process until smooth. Add olive oil to heavy stock pot and cook sofrito for at least 30 minutes.

It should lose most of its liquid.

Add chicken and stock to pot and simmer. Place the strips of corn tortillas into bowl and coat with olive oil. Preheat oven to 400. Place tortilla strips on baking sheet and bake in oven until brown and crispy. Serve with garnishes to include: shredded cheese, green onions,cilantro,avocados,tomatoes and sour cream.

This is one of those soups that I go back to often. It happens to be one of my daughters personal favorites. Now that she doesn't live at home, I can easily freeze and have ready when she visits.

It has plenty of flavor and is great for a chilly day. Indulge your senses with this spicy rich soup.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest Bread

4 cups white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

2 tsp fine salt

1 1/3 cups warm water

1 cup shredded sharp cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary

1 lg bunch seedless grapes


Using a stand mixer: fit the dough hook and add flour,yeast,salt and water to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until combined, then add cheese, rosemary and oil mix for 10 minutes until smooth and silky. Shape dough into a round and coat with a little extra olive oil. Let rise in clean bowl covered with plastic wrap. When it has doubled in size turn out to a lightly oiled baking sheet measuring 10 by 14 inches.

Press dough in with fingers right into the corners. Let rise, covered for 30 minutes or until the bread looks puffed up . Press the grapes into the dough to cover the top pressing deep holes into the surface and drizzle the top generously with olive oil sprinkle with salt and rosemary.Preheat oven to 500. Bake for 10 minutes then turn oven down to 400 and bake for 10 minutes more. This bread is best eaten warm with a drizzle of honey.

Wine harvest is a special time of the year. The trees start to lose their leaves, the air turns crisp and there is a certain amount of excitement for the next years harvest. As the season draws to a close traditions abound. One being a festive celebration and a hearty meal after a long day of picking grapes

I've always had a fascination for bread. The smell, the kneading and the rising. The ebe and flow of the whole process.

Here is my version of Schiacciata co luva. A grape bread traditionally seen all over Italy in September on into October. No matter where you live food and wine have the power to transport you. This bread does that for me. The grapes bursting their juices into the dough which absorbs it. The smokey caramelized flavor you get around the edges. Honey, olive oil and Maldon salt create a finish to the rustic Focaccia that will make you want to make this every year.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Gougeres- French Fridays with Dorie

Gougeres: Week One

First and foremost let me thank Dorie Greenspan for writing all her many wonderful cookbooks.
A big thanks to Laurie Woodward and the group of people who work to organize and keep this fun group running: Rachel Alverez, Joel Brown, Alison Coombs, and Travis Wilson.

Fridays will now become the day I post for French Fridays with Dorie. Hopefully for many weeks or should I say years to come. For all of you who don't know what this is, lets just say it's an online cooking group that is working its way through Dories newest cookbook: Around My French Table. Which, by the way is a pleasure to work with as well as being extremely beautiful .

To the FFWD community at large. I look forward to enjoying your blogs, pictures and insights. As well as getting to know you during this process. Let the fun begin!
Aside from enjoying the simplicity of this pliant shiny dough my mind is working overtime with the versatility of these wonderfully golden lil gems. Lets see.... you could make them tiny as in amuse bouche or use them for mini sophisticated sliders... You could serve them sweet or savory as in beignets or filled with a cheesy wine reduction... They could be split and layered with prosciutto and fruit or filled with smoked trout or crab. The list goes on and on. This was the perfect pick from Dorie to get all our creative juices flowing.

The smell coming from my kitchen is nothing compared to the fragrance that escapes when you tear open one of these delicate shells. They are simple yet sophisticated. Rich yet airy. I took Ms. Greenspan's advice and baked with a glass of Champagne ..Oops!! I mean, served them with a glass of champagne.

Bon Appetit

Monday, September 27, 2010

French Inspired Tomato Tart

2 sheets puff pastry,defrosted
2 tbls dijon mustard
3-4 tomatoes sliced
3 branches thyme
1 red onion sliced thinly
4 slices prosciutto
1/2 cup Parmesan grated fine
salt and pepper to taste

I've become a Francophile lately. Listening to french music( pretty much exclusively)and drinking tea. Ordering french cookbooks. Signing up for french at the local college. And above all excitedly awaiting which I will start posting on Fridays in October. So it only makes since that I would choose to make a french inspired tomato tart for dinner with all the wonderful tomatoes my friend gave me from her garden.

I can't get enough tomatoes these days. They are even better than they were earlier in the season. We are having a late burst of heat this year and its made the late harvest particularly yummy. I've been busy as of late so we are having simple meals here. This tart takes virtually no time to assemble and store bought puff pastry(shhhhh) makes it even more simple.

Preheat oven to375. Lay puff pastry on lined baking sheet. Using a tip of a knife score the outside all the way around the border about 1/2 inch from the pastry edge. Prick the dough all over with a fork.This will prevent the pastry from puffing as it cooks.

With a pastry brush or knife spread a thin layer of the mustard all over the pastry. Layer the prosciutto and thinly sliced onions evenly over the tart. Layer the tomatoes over the last layer. Making sure not to overlap or crowd. Because that will make the tart soggy. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle a thin layer of Parmesan.

Bake the tart until the pastry is crisp and deeply browned on the bottom and around the edges. 30-40 minutes.

This is such a nice simple summer meal served with a fresh salad and a nice glass of wine with friends and family.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Chili Verde

2 lbs tomatillos
6 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
2 roasted poblano chili's
2 roasted chilaca or New Mexico chili's
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 or 4 lbs pork shoulder trimmed and
cut into 1 inch cubes
salt and pepper
flour to coat pork
olive oil
2 yellow onions chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 tbs Mexican oregano
3 cups chicken stock

Mexican cuisine is so different than Mexican American cooking which can be heavy and cheese laden. Growing up in San Diego I probably had Mexican food 3-4 times a week. As I got older, I was able to visit several different areas in Mexico. There are so many blendings of Mexican traditions and you only have to visit the various regions to experience the unique tastes of the multiple cuisines.

Green, red, yellow sauces. Nuts and moles. Chocolate and vanilla infused dishes both sweet and savory. Fish, roasted meats. Masa and grains. There are very deep rooted traditions dating back many years and I think what many people don't understand is how well developed the Mexican cuisine is.

One of my favorite recipes is chili Verde. I like to roast the tomatillos, garlic and Chile's to add depth of flavor to this dish. It's great for a crowd and easy to make. Slow cooked , super tender pork in a green chili sauce. We love it in tacos but it is wonderful served over rice with flour tortillas.


Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse. Cut in half and place on a cookie sheet along with the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 15 minutes until charred. Roast the various peppers over gas flame until blackened place in sealed bag and skin. Place tomatillos, garlic cloves, jalapenos, other chili's and cilantro into blender. Blend to a puree.

Coat pork cubes with flour seasoned with salt and pepper. I do this in a bag and shake to coat. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed large pot. Brown pork in batches to get a nice crust. Remove pork and set aside.

Place onions and garlic in the same pan and cook until limp.Add the oregano . Add the green sauce and the pork to the pan. Cover with the chicken stock until just covered. Place in oven set at 275 and cook for 2-3 hrs.

There is something about this spicy green chili that reminds me of summers at my sisters ranch house. Warm San Diego summer evenings, shorts and halter tops with full bellies....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Candied Balsamic Figs With Honey Ricotta Mousse

For the figs:
2Tbs unsalted butter
12 sm black mission figs
1/4 cup high quality honey
2Tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice or
Vin Santo.
cracked black pepper.
For the Mousse:
10 oz whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup honey
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup heavy cream

There is an old Italian saying "Collo d'impiccato e camicia di furtante." The neck of a hanged man and the shirt of an urchin. Think of the long neck of the hanging man and the dirty ripped black shirt of an urchin. Remember this and you will pick gooey, sweet, earthy figs every time.

We have an abundance of really lovely organic Black Mission Figs at the farmers market right now. There are a lot of different varieties but I happen to enjoy the Black Mission. They have less seeds and are very sweet.
Today was the last day of summer and I think summer is simply a warm -up to fall and fall is when figs are at their peak. So when I can, I pick them up.
I happen to love figs any which way. Stuffed with Gorgonzola, grilled with prosciutto or slathered with honey.
This is a great autumnal recipe that is rich, deep and spicy. It gives a whisper of the holidays letting you know they are just around the corner.

I bought this great honey from France at in Napa last time I was there. What better to use it on then these great figs. I think a really good high quality honey is key to this recipe.

Preparation for the figs:
Slice the figs
Melt butter in saute pan. Saute the figs.
Add honey, vinegar and orange juice
Add cracked pepper to taste
Keep warm

Preparation for the Mousse: ( adapted from recipe
in the New York Times. Here is how I make it)
Place ricotta, honey and zest in
food processor blend until creamy
Transfer to mixing bowl and chill.
Whip the cream and fold into
ricotta mixture. Chill
Serve on top of the warm fig mixture.

This is an amazing dessert. Something to really mark the season.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mexican Street Food

Torta with Marinated Flap Steak

I can still remember my first encounter with Mexican street food. It was in Baja with my ex brother in-law "AKA Indiana Jones." We were at a tiny roadside stand in the middle of nowhere. After a harrowing drive at about 100 miles an hour on a one lane highway( if you can call it that) it was more like trail they call a road.
I had a Torta. A soft Bolilos roll filled to the brim with tender grilled steak. Slathered with hot sauce and various accoutrement's. Oh my god, just describing it puts me right back there with the sights, sounds, smells.... the whole deal.

We have many amazing Latino markets where we live. One happens to be exceptional. It is quite an excursion and you can find anything Mexican imaginable. If you want to make truly authentic Mexican dishes a great market is key.

We made these with Flap steak (mark my words this is the new Hanger steak). This is a very thin cut from the flank. In the more upscale restaurants you will find it called Bavette, which is really the french term for the way it is cut. I guess it sounds a little better than Flap. My husband informs me that it only needs 3-4 minutes a side on the grill. It's a very tasty little piece of meat and I can image many other uses for it.
Oaxaca cheese: this is a cows milk cheese with mild acidity, low salt intensity and a somewhat soft texture. Grilled onions and peppers with tomatoes and cilantro. Enjoy with an ice cold beer or a manderine Jarritto.