another weekend of wacky weather i'm afraid. no matter, lots to do. enjoy. xo, g
Jul 31, 2009
Jul 30, 2009
my children made me lunch yesterday, a lovely, entirely unexpected surprise. they've been cooking their own breakfast and lunch all summer and helping with dinner every night. and now they are apparently cooking without really even thinking about it. automatic response to hunger. their knife and saute skills are really improving. they each had cooking goals for the summer to add to their reading, vocabulary, art project, nyc culture, and fitness goals. this is our approach to summer. it is cheaper, requires more creativity and metacognitive strategy and (perhaps most importantly) less driving than camp. they are near completion on the art and cooking and fitness goals, the others, well we have some catching up to do, but you can't do everything at once can you? and as a parent, kitchen self-sufficiency in one's offspring is thrilling progress.
anyway, yesterday around 1, they informed me a lunch was ready to be eaten in the kitchen. the table was set, we sat around enjoying the food and chatting for a good long while sipping ice cold water. funny, this salad is something they never liked at all until they went to rome 2 years ago and then they fell in love. though they do wonder why pasta and pizza and mozz salad don't ever taste like they do in italy, no matter what you do. the flavor of the air and atmosphere and italian sun must seep into the food in an important way over there.
this sweet salad had a balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette. they love to mix sauces and experiment. just like chemistry class only more delicious. one sliced the mozzarella and made the dressing, another sliced the tomato and prepared the lettuce. the secret sauce has a little sea salt pepper and maybe a touch of lemon i think. it was completely charming and absolutely delicious.
Jul 29, 2009
it was so hot and humid yesterday. really awful. bad air. (cough cough.) no one felt like cooking anything. but as we've been training for the kids fall sports we needed a meal to sustain us. lovely old salade nicoise came to the rescue. there are many versions of this salad. the traditional one has olives, tomatoes, canned tuna, anchovies, hard cooked eggs, artichoke hearts, sliced red peppers and a dijon vinaigrette. ours was similar, but maybe a more garden fresh version, with the additions of new potatoes, snow peas and no artichoke hearts. often it is served with green beans, which work great. snow peas are certainly non traditional but really worked well here. it was really enthusiastically devoured, so much so that my youngest declared it his new favorite food, after lasagna, of course.
garden fresh salad nicoise
serves 4 at least
6 hardcooked eggs (i prefer david tanis' recipe from his a platter of figs book)
8 new potatoes, sliced and boiled for 10 minutes or so in salted water, allowed to cool to just warm
24 kalmata olives, sorry had no nicoise on hand, and kalamata are larger and juicier at any rate
2 large ripe garden fresh tomatoes, sliced in thin wedges, salted lightly
20 snow peas, boiled for 2 minutes or so in salted water, (i put them on top of the potatoes for the last two minutes)
1 red pepper, sliced in straight, thin strips, marinated briefly in the dressing to soften them up ever so slightly
1 can of the best dolphin safe high in omega 3 tuna you can find
6 lovely anchovies
large platter full of a mixture of mache and spinache (any favorite lettuce will do, red and green leaf would be nice, loved the mache spinach combo though, tender and yet sturdy enough for the weighty top layers)
parsley dijon vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp organic dijon mustard
1 large handful freshly picked parsley leaves, some stems okay
1/4 cup champagne or other slightly sweet vinegar such as red wine or fruited
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
touch of salt, touch of pepper, tiny pinch of sugar, honey or sweetener if you need it after tasting
blend well for 45 seconds in blender
alas, i was out of anchovies, only because i've been making so much caesar salad lately. was perfectly fine and less canned tasting without them even though i love them dearly. served it with our ubiquitous summer side dish, steamed farmers market sweet corn.
to assemble: first arrange the lettuce on a large platter, then top with the potatoes, peppers, olives, snow peas, tomatoes, egg and lastly the tuna. drizzle the vinaigrette over the top as generously or lightly as suits you, and enjoy. everyone gets to take a bit of what they like most this way. loads of protein and vitamins in this dish. yet sumptuous. trying to keep cool despite this muggy weather. to your health then, xo, g
Jul 28, 2009
serve yourself blt bar. doesn't get much simpler (lazier) than that. minimum of heat in the kitchen. my only advice is get the best bread you can find. we use organic no nitrate bacon, and organic mache lettuce and just any old gorgeous ripe tomatoes will do. a little (organic) mayo. an ear of farmer's market local sweet corn. one of our favorite summer dinners. no fuss.
lots of thunderstorm activity the last week. some interesting skies as a result. today is one of those hot humid bad air days. high pollution levels. now that our errands are done, think we'll stay inside and do some watercolor paintings today. read a bit. lounge.
Jul 24, 2009
Jul 23, 2009
as i have mentioned a few times, we have grown a little kitchen garden on our deck this summer. a fun and entertaining project for me and the kids. we planted radishes, peas, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, parsley and chives. they are all growing so well in their pots. miraculously. tomatoes have broken out everywhere but none are yet ripe. peas are nearly ready, herbs as well, looking lush and full.
we have been harvesting the radishes for weeks now. our favorite way to serve them, borrowed in part from the french, is sliced thin with the world's greatest butter (lurpak, danish) perched atop a sesame water cracker with a bit of sea salt. this combination is inexplicably delicious. the butter somehow mitigates the radishes pungent temperament and renders it freshly delicious, crunchy, mineraly and interesting. eaten alone, these same radishes have a bit of a spicy sting. we are now habitual radishes-with-butter eaters, all of us. the kids love to harvest, slice, and then decorate.
Jul 22, 2009
fresh organic yogurt, juicy sweet unblemished peaches, tart juicy firm blueberries, toasted oats, organic roasted cashews and pistachios. i love summer. so simple. so incredible. peak experiences easily attained with little or no effort. i must say i like that equation very much.
Jul 20, 2009
oh my. every food blog in the universe has done a post on garlic scapes this year. the it ingredient of 2009, it seems. at first, intrigued, i read with great interest, fascination, curiosity. after all, i love garlic. and people were raving about them, smart foodies everywhere. an underutilized product of the garlic plant. of course they are not new and have always been around, as long as well, garlic. but after a time, i grew weary, tired of the hearing about the trend. (it was starting to seem like the fennel craze of the early 90s). until, of course, one day, in a whimsical mood, i spied them for sale at the organic stand at my town's farmers market. and so expensive. $10/pound. they looked so gorgeous all green and curled. tempting, very tempting. on an impulse i bought them. i figured i would figure out what to do with them later. why not find out what everyone was talking about?
well, once i got them home, i liked them even more. something appealed. i had read somewhere that they cooked up a little like asparagus. i thought they might go well with pasta. so i chopped them up with some cremini mushrooms i had on hand and seared them. then tossed them with the pasta, a few tablespooons of cream and some freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano. they really were delicious and despite their price, worth raving about. i loved them. so did both my kids and my husband. sharp and bitter raw. when sauteed, they sweeten and have a juicy delicious yet fresh tasting mild sort of crunch.
a fresh garden salad, and some farmers market sweet corn rounded out the meal. really nice. i should have known they'd be great. so i give you fair warning, you may love them too, if you don't already.
Jul 17, 2009
rarely, a hotel is an incredible oasis with fruit trees, gorgeous rooms, great food, a relaxing and professional staff, no pretense, gorgeous grounds and amenities. you want to move in immediately and never leave. at the carneros inn you stay in these adorable cottages with back decks and outdoor showers. the gardens are full of wildly colored flowers not to mention fig, apple, pear trees bursting with ripening fruit. the beds so comfortable, the interior design so pleasing. oh my yes, it has everything. sounds like paradise right? but then paradise probably wasn't this nice. expensive, well yes of course, you can't stay long. that gavin newsom, hotel founder and san francisco mayor, is some kind of hotel genius.
hot here in the east today. keeping cool. happy weekend. xo,g.
Jul 15, 2009
sorry, lovely readers, to keep you in suspense as i tardily post the recipe that goes along with these photos. summertime is full of distractions, and this week is no exception. lovely breezes, sunshine, gardens, the beach and most of all my children. yesterday after beginning this post, i was way laid a dozen times, busily taking those same children places and picking up and dropping off their friends and having friends over for dinner, as well as taking them to see the latest release in the harry potter series. but that is what summer is all about around here, wonderful distractions. the ease of following a lighthearted impulse and not sticking to a rigid schedule. in any case, without further ado, here we are:
potato salad with green beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion and parsley
2lbs yukon gold and new potatoes, mixed, sliced as above in half moons
(cook faster this way, less heated moments in the kitchen)
2/3 pint organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 lb haricots verts or other long beans such as green or waxed, even broad beans would work here, i do like haricot verts best
1/2 red onion sliced reasonably thin, then soaked in ice water for 15 to 30 minutes (removes the bite, sweetens, while maintaining, even enhancing the pleasing crunch)
1/4 cup flat parsley leaves, lightly chopped
6 TBSP olive oil
4 TBSP champagne vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
fleur de sel
a bit more chopped parsley
adjust dressing seasonings, it should taste delicious before you add it.
okay then. first slice up the onions and leave them to soak in the ice water. next, boil the potatoes. set a large pan of cold water on the stove, salt liberally. add the potatoes. bring to boil. while the potatoes are cooking slice up the cherry tomatoes. wash, and trim up the beans, slice in two. the potatoes will be tender in 5 to 10 minutes, so you've got to work fast. when potatoes are just tender, drain thoroughly. reuse the potato water to cook the beans. they'll be tender in 3 to 5 minutes. place potatoes in a large ceramic bowl. add tomatoes, onions, green beans on top. don't stir just yet. mix dressing, pour over the top of the salad, let soak in for a moment and then mix all the ingredients. it is important that the potatoes still be quite warm while the mixing and dressing take place. it brings out the flavor of the tomatoes and sweetens up the shallots and onions to give you a nice sweet/salt/tart balance. serve at room temperature. really good cold the next day.
i always think some capers or olives might be nice in here. but i never get to it, finding it irresistible as is. maybe one day i'll try it. will let you know. xo, g.
Jul 13, 2009
this week i want to focus on some relaxing summer suppers we've enjoyed lately.
lucky are we with farmer's markets and local organic produce, life is bursting with great options at the moment. the living is easy. the weather delightful. i could live out on the terrace with a glass of something cold and some light fresh appetizers all summer long.
found some gorgeous very dark purple eggplant the other day at the japanese market. picked up some soba noodles (buckwheat), fresh tofu, scallions and our favorite dashi-based tsuyu sauce and put together a relaxing summer supper of warm eggplant salad, a mixed up version of sunumono with cucumber, carrot, radish, avocado and scallion, cool soba noodles with tofu and scallion. light and cool yet somehow earthy and satisfying.
serve warm or cool
4 to 6 japanese eggplants, the small ones, cut into bite size cubes
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dashi tsuyu sauce, all natural, such as morita brand
(in japanese markets)
soak cut eggplant in cold water for 5 minutes
steam eggplant for 8 to 10 minutes until tender, bamboo or other steamer
strain and allow to drain and cool slightly
squeeze eggplant gently if appears water-logged otherwise proceed to next step.
place in individual serving dishes. sprinkle cut scallions over the eggplant. pour tsuyu sauce. serve.
cucumber, carrot, radish, avocado sunumono
1 japanese cucumber, sliced thin
1 carrot, sliced thin
4 radishes, sliced thin
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
scallion, thinly sliced
assemble ingredients in ceramic serving bowl. toss with vinegar and lemon. mix thoroughly but gently. sprinkle with sliced scallion
Jul 10, 2009
A 16 = a restaurant that shares a name with the italian highway that runs from naples to puglia, located in san francisco's marina neighborhood.
finally made it. just like going to italy, really simple, unbelievably incredible fare. only with a fast moving, super professional, tatooed, urban, charming san francisco wait staff. really electric atmosphere, magnificent food, menu, near perfect experience. have just ordered the cookbook which is also supposed to be excellent. i can't wait for it to arrive. if i could learn to make their tomato sauce, i would really have accomplished something significant, it's sublime.
fun mysterious coincidence: we dined at 3 different restaurants in 3 different towns 3 nights in a row and we saw the same urban chic traveling couple, sometimes with their adorable baby, sometimes without, dining at each venue. we never spoke to them, but by the third night we all stared at each other jaws agape. a16 on saturday, murray circle in sausalito on sunday and ad hoc in yountville on monday. the food was so magical all the way through, this only added to the enchantment. and in any case, they have excellent taste in restaurants. happy weekend, xo g