La Salette

My Portuguese husband had wanted to try this little restaurant for a couple weeks now and our trip to the bay area proved the perfect opportunity. We sat on the patio and began with these perfect little rolls, warm with a light crust on the outside, the inside was this delightfully soft pillow texture and had the tiniest sweetness on the finish. Luckily they only brought us one each or lunch would have been only rolls.

It was quite a warm day so we split the Piri Piri Chicken Salad, which was refreshing and light but look out the piri piri can pack quite a punch, there were a few bites that burned, but that’s my weak palate, my husband enjoyed the picante of it. 

As it was lunch time we decided to try their Tasca Tasting Plate. We ordered the Queijo Fresco (House made farmers cheese), Serra da Estrela (Sheep’s milk cheese, semi soft, pungent), Smoked Duck Breast, Lomo (Spanish smoked pork loin) and Chourico. We have just entered the world of the cheese and meat plates and each one has been better that the next. The honeycomb that came with the cheeses and spiced almonds produced a dance of flavors, completely enriching our palates with new combinations and sensations. 

La Salette was a beautiful afternoon lunch and will hopefully be repeated soon.

Last week I was contemplating what to make for dinner and began listing the items in my fridge to myself,  hoping for inspiration. Because of the early planting and kiss of mother nature this year I’ve had an abundance of tomatoes, basil and jalapeños.  I had left over ricotta cheese from the galette I made the week before (Thank you Smitten Kitchen!) As well as some fresh mozzarella from a caprese salad, canned roasted tomatoes that have become a staple in my pantry and a gigantic foot long zucchini from my grandmother’s garden she had bestowed up on me the day before.

With these ingredients in hand I realized this was the making of a nice vegetarian lasagna. I had much debate over whether or not to buy some ground meat at the store (usually turkey sausage) when I went to get the lasagna noodles. I am not a vegetarian nor is my husband but I do have an affinity for purely veggie dishes, where I wasn’t sure if my husband would enjoy it with out the meat. However, in the end I through in my hat and opted for no meat.

I purchased two boxes of the whole wheat lasagna noodles, I find they have a firm nutty texture and a flavor that holds up well, especially when reheated the next night. As the lasagna noodles boiled I paper thinly sliced zucchini and mozzarella.

Then I blended three 14oz cans of roasted tomatoes and a can of water and added them to a small shallot I had diced and sautéed in olive oil. Towards the end of the sauce heating through I added a half cup of the Temparnillo we had decided on to go with dinner and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a slight spice.

For the filling I mixed a cup of ricotta with a cup of cottage cheese, a half cup of chopped basil, two diced jalapeños, two eggs and a tablespoon of paprika (I’m not sure why on the paprika but it just seemed right and ended up delicious).

Then when the noodles were al dente I began the layering: sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, zucchini, and mozzarella. This continued for four layers of noodles and then topped off with sauce, mozzarella and shredded basil. I cooked it for 45 minutes at 375 and it was perfect. Cheesy, creamy, had a nice tart warm taste from the roasted tomatoes and finally a slight firmness in the zucchini, which I find the joy of the zucchini is how it absorbs and blends all the flavors together.

Oh and my husband said it was incredibly delicious, even when reheated the next night.

Scribe Winery

This link takes you to my husband’s blog where he has posted about our recent trip to Scribe Winery. We had such a great time there,I highly recommend it! One thing of note, they generously offered us a bit of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt Tam triple cream cheese during our tasting. I died.

Treat yourself to some Scribe Pinot and Mt Tam soon!

Omnivore Books

My lovely cousin just sent me a wonderful cookbook the other day.  She happened upon this great bookstore called Omnivore which is located in San Francisco.  They sell food-related books of all kinds: new, collectible and antiquarian.  I cannot wait to check this place out!  They appear to hold all kinds of interesting events, the most recent being on the weekly newsletter, “The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion,” by Marcia Gagliardi.  Not only was this event free, they had Andrew Mariani of Scribe Vineyards pouring his wine.  I just recently visited Scribe and I have just three words to say about it: GO THERE STAT.  It was an amazing experience, but that will be shared in another post.  Meanwhile, if anyone ventures out to Omnivore Books, let us know how you liked it!

Bon Appetit article featuring Omnivore back in 2009.

Omnivore Books on Food 3885a Cesar Chavez Street
San Francisco, CA 94131

Oh My Ganache

Recently I had been gifted with a pack of mini tartlet pans for Christmas.  I instantly had visions of glistening, jewel-like, ripe fruits, plump vanilla beans and luscious french pastry cream.  But my days were fairly busy, too busy for making pastry cream, although it’s my favorite dessert to make.  So in the end I decided to do a simple ganache tartlet.

Let’s talk a bit about ganache.  Ganache is made from chocolate and cream.  Since there are so little ingredients used, you want to use the best quality of ingredients you can find/afford.  It  makes all the difference.  The ration of cream and chocolate matters greatly since it is used from truffle making to glazing.  If you want to use it as a glaze, you use about 3 times as much chocolate as cream.  Since ganache is unbelievably rich, I wanted to add another layer of flavor to reign it in a bit, so I went with peppermint.  I think it turned out to be pretty delicious, not to mention really easy!  Try it out and let me know how it goes!

Peppermint Ganache Tartlets

8oz Bittersweet Chocolate
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 Tsp Peppermint extract
Pie Crust (pre-baked and cooled)

Traditional Method for making Ganache:
Chop chocolate into small chunks and put into heatproof mixing bowl.  Heat cream in a medium size pan until it begins to boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute.  Using a rubber spatula, scrap sides and gently stir until melted and smooth.  Gently mix in peppermint and pour mixture into baked tartlet shell and chill for at least 1 hour.

Tradition Begins

For years our grandmothers have wowed us with warm homemade apple pie, Krista and I are not grandmothers, but we decided we had to start some time, and now was just fine. Krista wanted to make an apple pie for a friend’s birthday and found a great recipe for apple-pear pie. She came over to the house and we began. First came the filling, peeling apples and pears, slicing them ever so thin, and mixing them with wonderful ingredients cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter.

Finally you cannot have pie without the crust. For this endeavor we opted for a simple approach using a purchased pre-made pie dough. We laid it out in a clay dish and then added the filling, covered that with the top shell and crinkled the edges. The result was a delicate, sweet, flakey pie that had all the spirit and flavor of the classic apple pie. The pears I noticed added a lightness to the filling which was a delight and made each bite incredibly succulent. This recipe will definitely be repeated in our future pie baking. I believe our grandmothers would have been proud.

The picture below is that same delicious pie made for Thanksgiving ’09, with the addition of blackberries and a little fun with dough cutters.  

Dinner with the In-laws

My husband and I have been married 7 years.  Somehow, in all this time, I have yet to cook a meal for my in-laws.  Now, I dearly love my in-laws.  They are without doubt a charming, warm and wonderful couple and I feel quite lucky to be included in their lovely family.  So when my husband announced they would be coming to dinner on my day off, Monday, I was quite eager to make as tasty a dinner as I could muster that wasn’t hell to pull off.

So I chose to roast a pork tenderloin, something I also had yet to do.  To accompany this lean cut of meat I added an aromatic mixture of fresh herbs and an outer layer of rich pancetta.  This helped to keep the roast extremely moist, as pork is very easy to dry out, and added a ton of flavor.  My little house smelled bacony-good all evening!

Click below for recipe:

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