Monthly Archives: May 2011

Wordless Wednesday – Views

20110518-110107.jpg
My desk view

20110518-110141.jpg
View while icing my shoulder

Saturday SF Romp

It was a soft Saturday morning in the City, the weather seemed unsure whether it was foggy or cloudy but definitely Spring was showing her cold cheek to the world.

I dressed up warmly in layers and headed to the farmer’s market with D___. Our goal: caffeine and evil breakfast goodies.

Our first stop – a rich chocolately mocha from Blue Bottle, then an evilly buttery, almond croissant. This kept us from dying of hunger while waiting in the eternally snaking line for Primavera. D__ chose the tacos el pastor while I shook things up from my usual order of chilaquiles and ordered crisp chicken enchiladas with salsa verde. Under all that lettuce was shredded chicken in a green chile tomatillo salsa inside their handmade tortillas, fried until crisp with cojita and sour cream.

20110514-104320.jpg20110514-104339.jpg
(I adore their black beans and chipotle salsa)

While we were chatting post-nosh and gazing at the varying shades of grey in the sky, the Bay and the Bay Bridge I showed off my new socks, oooh so soft and squishy!

20110514-104543.jpg

We cruised through the market checking out a few stalls here and there. I was on a mission for a few items: Meyer lemon rosemary bread from Trattoria, heritage dried beans from Tierra Farms and pork. My plan was to make posole, or pork and corn stew, and was delighted to find authentic Anasazi beans at the Tierra Farms stall. I also grabbed a sweetly fragrant bag of dried Ancho chiles and was enticed to buy a sachet of smoked onion salt. This is one of my favorite farmers at the market and I love chatting with Lee. She recommended using the smoked onion salt on popcorn, in fact she claims it is so shockingly good that you can’t help yourself from gobbling up an entire bowl. Well! How could I resist, right? D___ tried out their new strawberry chipotle hot sauce, sweetly zingy with a good smokey flavor.

We were planning to hit up Sur la Table but was sidetracked by the bins of richly marbled pasture raised meats of Marin Sun Farms. I spotted a fat pouch of pork stew meat, perfect for my SFe Posole Stew.

The gentleman ringing me up, Gareth Fischer, asked what I planned to do with the pork and we chatted a bit about posole and cooking and blogging when Gareth and I remembered we had met before at a wonderful dinner with his wife Maura, Traca of Seattle Tall Poppy, Luna of La Sirene Noir and Luna’s Kitchen Magic and others at the incomparable Incanto Restaurant. I promised to share my recipe and said our farewells. I will be back next week for a steak as their ribeyes looked incredible.

Onto Sur la Table, a gourmand’s version of Tiffany’s.. We felt like kids in a candy store, mock attacking each other with various implements and inappropriately modeling the goods.

20110516-113444.jpg
(the *other* use for a rolling pin)

20110516-113504.jpg
(silicone glove handcuffs)

20110516-113707.jpg
(tweaking the silicone, er, caneles molds)

20110516-113803.jpg
(a long nosed pestle??)

20110516-114038.jpg
(the closest I’ll get to playing the harp)

20110516-114138.jpg
(blender ninja)

And, for our performance art finale, how to kill a chicken.

Needless to say the store’s visitors and perhaps some of the staff were highly amused by our antics, as were we.

We did a bit of shopping inside the Ferry Building and suddenly the urge for a glass of wine sang its siren song and D__ recalled she had a chilled bottle of Chardonnay in her fridge. Full speed ahead!!

On the way we stopped in the Mission and finally visited the charming Pot + Pantry, a cookware shop. They sell unique new and used unusual cookery equipment and delightful art from Alyson Thomas of drywell art. I already own her San Francisco is for Carnivores print which makes me laugh every time I see it, but her current art show, Meat Market totally cracks me up. Her paintings of cuts of meat with racy captions is brilliant, my favorite is “Let’s Bone”.

But onto wine, watching the sunset from a comfy chair (shades of Monty Python) and a kind offer of ebi nabe for dinner, all graciously accepted.

20110517-070529.jpg20110517-070555.jpg
(ebi nabe is a Japanese shrimp hot pot, simple and delicious)

The heavy clouds finally delivered their payload and back at home I was lulled to sleep by the rain and hail rattling against the windows and the hiss of wet pavement under the cars whizzing by down below the Roost. All in all fun Saturday romp!

Morel Magic at “Dinner at Anna’s”

My friend Anna invited me to an amazing dinner featuring fresh morels, please check out my sister site, “Dinner at Anna’s”, for more shroomy pictures and video!

20110513-092043.jpg

Can you believe how big it is? And so so tasty…..

Dinner Dilemma or CSA Delivery Day

Today my produce CSA was delivered and I always look forward to it. But today an odd thing happened, I do not have a clue of what to do with it.

It is a beautiful selection, Spring brings such variety and flavor. Thank goodness Spring is here at last.

20110511-115620.jpg

Everything is in amazing condition.

20110511-115739.jpg
(strawberries)

20110511-115808.jpg
(broccoli and cilantro)

20110511-115850.jpg
(green bell peppers, so fresh the flower is still attached)

20110511-115925.jpg
(zucchini and fave beans)

20110512-120007.jpg
(Fingerling potatoes, my favorite)

20110512-120708.jpg
(a dozen baby lettuces)

The CSA included apples, oranges, grapefruit and farm eggs. Also in the fridge is green onions, a giant yellow onion, garlic and celery.

Since my fridge is super tiny I decided to peel the fave beans. The plump green pods easily release from their furry pods.

20110512-120337.jpg

The beans themselves are in a thick jacket that usually needs to be loosened from the bean by a quick turn in boiling water, then shocked in ice water and peeled. When they are this young and fresh though, the beans just pop out after a quick nick of my thumbnail.

20110512-120836.jpg
(end result, 1/2 cup of peeled fave beans)

I decided to just cut up the berries, sugar them a little, add some Grand Marnier and vanilla paste.

20110512-121049.jpg

Then, for the first time in my life, I ate an entire carton of berries, all by myself.

I know, it’s silly but I feel like fruit is a special treat and despite not being raised this way I have felt for years that it’s rare and special and therefore it’s naughty to eat a whole box of berries. Then naughty became “not”ey and then not. I’m trying to correct this wrong thinking, one carton at a time. (A big thank you to A___ for this line of thinking tonight.)

I do know I need to eat a head of these lettuces and at least one piece of fruit each day, and I have more broccoli from two weeks ago which is still in pristine shape. I’m thinking broccoli soup.

So, what do I do with everything else? My creativity is tapped out and I am uninspired. That cupboard is empty and rattling)

If you have ideas for these other vegetables please please let me know. It’s a dilemma.

Wordless Wednesday

20110511-021932.jpg
(the sky reflects my mood, changeable)

Run for the Roses, and for a Mint Julep

20110509-095436.jpg
(rose painted by Pierre-Joseph Redouté)

The first Saturday of May is the Kentucky Derby or “The Run for the Roses”. It is also the ultimate time of the year to drink mint juleps and feast with friends at G___’s house.

Somehow G__ effortlessly hosts 60 people or more in her home with the grace and effusive charm that only a truly gracious Southern lady can muster. Today’s soiree was another perfectly delightful gathering.

G___ is a fantastic cook and hostess and she made a huge number of Southern delicacies for the groaning buffet tables:

• deviled eggs
• pimento cheese
• pepper jam slathered over cream cheese
• bowls and bowls heaped with crackers, nuts and strawberries on the stem
• green salad with cucumbers and grape tomatoes
• fresh berries macerated with orange juice and Grand Marnier
• cornbread with green chile and scallions
• macaroni salad
• carrot slaw with golden raisins
• red cabbage coleslaw with minced broccoli
• crunchy fried chicken
• Carolina-style pulled pork sandwiches

20110509-093105.jpg20110509-093454.jpg
(one of four buffets; pepper jelly and cheese)

The bar was manned by Xavier the butler who made dozens and dozens of glasses of mint juleps according to precise specifications of the lady of the house and poured endless bottles of champagne and fuzzy water. G___’s charming and refined sons dropped plump strawberries in the champagne glasses for the ladies.

20110509-093328.jpg
(pimento cheese and the mint julep)

Her boys also stayed up till the wee hours last night smoking the succulent pork shoulders for ten hours, then shredded them by hand. I helped frequently by offering “quality control” sampling. Heh.

20110509-092455.jpg
(an expert shredder)

I popped over a little early to man the fried chicken station and cooked up ten pounds of juicy, crispy thighs. This was the second time I have done this pleasant task and was quite pleased that the chicken was snapped up before the race started.

20110509-092847.jpg
(don’t you love the stove!)

20110509-092955.jpg(Done!)

Sipping our heady cocktails and simply stuffed we mistily sang “My Old Kentucky Home” and cheered on the trainers, proud owners, fantastic hats, minuscule jockeys and those gorgeous, muscled steeds.

We drew the names of the horse we were to cheer on during the race but this year we also unanimously cheered Pants on Fire with his female jockey who was racing at the Derby for her first time. Girl power!

Sadly Pants on Fire came in 9th place but Animal Kingdom who was ranked 25:1 came zooming up from 6 lengths back to win the race, mane flying and neck stretched, with the jockey just holding on for dear life! What a race, what a horse!

After all that excitement it was time for dessert. Joining G___’s gorgeous cut crystal bowl of macerated fruit many guests loaded the dessert table with chocolates, lemon tart, fruit pies and tarts, hand picked strawberries, platters of pineapple, a splendid pink pudding with a crushed cookie crust and a towering red velvet cake all decked out for the Derby. Somehow I had forgotten that this cake is filled with cream cheese frosting, oh my! We nibbled on thin slices and pretended to complain about the calories.

20110509-093635.jpg

I guess I have had my fill of mint juleps but in case you haven’t, here is how a true Kentuckian makes them.

20110509-093737.jpg

REC: A Real Mint Julep

Tall or highball glasses
Ice
Fresh mint leaves
Bourbon, preferably Makers Mark
Simple syrup*

Put a clean disk towel on the counter and heap your ice cubes upon it. Wrap up the ice in the towel and using a mallet or meat tenderizer pound the heck out of the ice until it’s finely crushed. It usually helps to think about April 15th (or the 19th in this case for 2011).

Put a sprig or two of mint in each glass and fill tightly with the crushed ice, smashing the mint up a bit as you do. Add 1 tsp of simple syrup to each glass and fill with bourbon.

You can make these ahead of time (up to an hour) by placing the filled glasses in the freezer.

Sip *slowly*!!!

*** Note: Simple syrup is easy to make. For mint juleps you need 1 cup each sugar and water, a sprig of mint and a clean glass jar or bottle. Put everything into a pot and bring it to a boil. Don’t stir, just wriggle the pit now and again. When the sugar has completely melted and the liquid is cool, set it aside to cool. Store it in the fridge until needed. It will keep for months. You can also use this syrup for mojitos.

Many cocktails use simple syrup, so it’s nice to keep a bottle in the fridge, just leave out the mint for more versatility.

The best part of the afternoon was seeing so many of my dear friends. Despite the miles that separate us and the years that pass so very rapidly we never lose the joy of seeing each other and exchange hugs and kisses, share smiles at seeing their faces and a few tears over those who are no longer with us. Over the decades that I have known these lovely people my life has been so enriched and I feel such gratitude.

Thanks for the lovely party, G___, I look forward to next year!